Archive for April, 2011


Sometimes my experimental recipes don’t go very well.  Or sometimes (like yesterday) they start off good but I quickly get sick of eating them.  Probably about 95% of the time I make one-dish meals (saves on dishes and I’m just cooking for me!), so it’s not good to get sick of what you’re eating halfway through!  But sometimes I invent something awesome that I totally want to eat again.  Tonight was one of those nights.

The initial inspiration for this recipe came from Jamie Oliver–I had bought the tagliatelli a couple weeks ago for making his pasta dish with parsnips and pancetta.  When I went grocery shopping this past week, I decided to pick up some fresh mushrooms and fresh herbs with the vague notion of making some sort of pasta dish.  I had also wanted pancetta, but alas there was none.  So tonight I was digging around in my fridge trying to figure out what else to put with the mushrooms, rosemary, and tagliatelli when it occurred to me to toss in some kale and goat cheese, figuring that I could thin the goat cheese with a little olive oil to make it like a sauce.

This turned out to work exactly as expected and was delicious!  That rarely happens without a recipe!

And thus without further ado:

Mushroom and Kale Tagliatelli

  • 2-3 handfuls of small porcini mushrooms (or whatever kind you like)
  • 2-3 stalks of fresh rosemary
  • 2 servings worth of tagliatelli or other long pasta
  • 3-4 large leaves of kale
  • half a package of goat cheese
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
Put a pot of water on the stove to boil.  Meanwhile, wash the mushrooms, rosemary and kale.  De-stem the rosemary and kale, and then finely chop the rosemary and coarsely chop the kale.  Slice the mushrooms into 1/4 in. slices.  Peel and coarsely chop the garlic.  Salt the boiling water and add the pasta.
Add a good glug of olive oil to a hot skillet and toss in the mushrooms, rosemary, and some salt and pepper.  Stir frequently, and when the mushrooms are mostly cooked, add the kale and a little bit more olive oil if necessary.  When the kale turns bright green, turn off the heat and toss in the garlic.
Drain the pasta, reserving a small amount of the cooking water.  Dump the pasta, water, mushrooms and kale back into the pasta pan.  Add the goat cheese and a little olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir vigorously until the goat cheese melts and forms almost a sauce.  Serve, and top with Parmesan cheese to taste.
[Note: I’ll post pictures later when I get them onto my computer]
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Beets like citrus.  This is a general rule of thumb, and is quite useful for throwing together a quick salad.  But today I discovered that beets love kumquats!  The combination of flavors–sour from the juice of the kumquats, sweet from their rinds, and earthy from the beets is incredible.  You definitely want to try this one.

Beets and Kumquats

Beet and Kumquat Salad

  •  1 beet (cooked til soft, peeled and cooled)
  • 2 handfuls of kumquats

Dice the beet and put it in a bowl.  Wash the kumquats and cut them in half (thirds if they’re big).  Toss them together with the beets, pouring any juice that you lose while halving the kumquats over the mix.  You want about equal parts beet pieces and kumquat halves.  Toss together and enjoy!

Serves 1-2

Note: This would probably also be good with a dark, leafy green like kale.

Another note written after eating this salad for dinner:  The sourness of the kumquats builds up, not unlike how the burning from spicy peppers builds up.  I would not advise eating large quantities of this all at once.  Also, if your kumquats are particularly sour, you might consider either adding a bit of sugar, some sweet fruits, or more beets.  That said, it’s still a good flavor combo!

And just like that a month goes by and it’s April.  Apologies again for the lack of posts–especially after I had promised you all new posts!  I do have one dish that I made during that week after my last post that I’ll write about later (it was a Thai-inspired curry dish), but it’s a new month and for now I’d rather write about something new!

I went to the grocery store this week at about quarter after 9 on Tuesday morning.  On the one hand, this is an utterly ideal time to go to the grocery store because (at least by this store’s standards), it is empty. No fighting people to get your cart through the aisles…heck, there are actually carts available! The downside, though, is that clearly their shipments of produce must arrive on Wednesday or Thursday because there was not a whole lot to choose from, and a lot of what was there was pretty sad.  I quickly had to scrap plans to get some kale, or my second choice of spinach.  I did find the last good bunch of big organic beets, so I do have beet greens to work with, and then I found some watercress.

I’ve never bought watercress before.  I’ve had it a few times, mostly in foreign countries.  But it was one of the few greens they had that weren’t completely wilted and pathetic looking.  So I decided on the spur of the moment that I was going to make a watercress salad.  Which is weird for me since normally I don’t consider salads to be meals.  But I’ve had this for dinner the past two nights and it’s actually turned out to be quite good and filling.

But what else to put with the watercress?  I had bought pancetta for another recipe (I’m on a bit of a Jamie Oliver kick lately–more on that later), so that was definitely going to go in there.  I also wanted something sweet, but there’s not much in season right now in the fruit department (and the stuff from Chile is all coated in a thick layer of wax that’s impossible to remove!), so I decided to grate up a carrot, which worked out nicely.  I also added a couple green onions, just to get another flavor in there, and to tie it all together I made a dressing with lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Finally, I topped the salad off with some grated Parmesan cheese.  All in all?  Definitely a recipe worth repeating!

watercress

pancetta

lemon dressing

watercress salad

 

Watercress and Pancetta Salad

Salad

  • 1 bunch watercress, washed and picked over
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • approx. 6 slices of pancetta or bacon (more or less to taste)
  • Parmesan cheese (to taste)

Dressing

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • olive oil (equal to lemon juice)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash and pick over the watercress, throwing away any bad leaves, tear it into bite sized pieces, and put it in a big bowl.  Grate the carrot and add it to the bowl with the watercress.  Chop the onions and do the same.  Cook the pancetta in a nonstick pan until nicely golden and crispy.  Tear it up and add it to the bowl.

To make the dressing, zest the lemon using a grater or microplane*.  Only get the yellow part of the zest–not the white part.  Put the zest in a bowl or 2 cup measure.  Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice in with the zest, being careful not to lose any seeds.  Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper and whisk it all together.  When you’re ready to eat, drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with a good amount of Parmesan cheese.

 

*Be VERY careful to keep your thumb away from the microplane.  Seriously.