Ravioli and Peppers

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…That thing where someone brings over something yummy (in this case, peppers), but you don’t eat all of it, and it’s not really a meal all by itself.

As far as I can tell, the mixture was originally sliced bell peppers and white onions that were sauteed in a lot of olive oil. I was looking for something that would absorb the oil, while providing a little balance to the dish. I had frozen ravioli- large or small to choose from. I went with the smaller ones, based on my desire for balance. This is not all that complicated, but here goes…

 

I…

…Removed the container with the leftovers. Btw, olive oil coagulates like woah in the fridge. Some say it hurts the taste, some say it doesn’t… but so far, no one has said it can hurt you. I will tell you it looks very funky, but don’t let that deter you.

…Started up the pot of water to boil.

…Put the peppers & oil into a metal mixing bowl. (Metal conducts heat. Science!)

Once the water was boiling, I dropped in the ravioli. They took another 5 mins or so to cook.

…Strained the ravioli & then placed them on top of the peppers.

…Let them sit like that a minute while I rinsed off the pots & pans…

Which made the oil melt- more science! Then, I stirred them,

…and that was it! It didn’t require any seasoning (but feel free to jazz it up if you like, you know I skew bland!)

 

You can’t beat leftovers that turn into 4 more meals. Yum!

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

 

Cherry Tomato Sauce 2

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By the time I got to my stash of ripened cherry tomatoes, some of them had gone south. I was left with about a plateful of useable tomatoes, so I just did a quick modification of my first attempt at making a sauce.

This was more paste than sauce. I liked it that way, so I left it. I decided to use this on sandwiches instead of pasta, where its thickness was an asset.

Key:

  1. Raw tomatoes on plate
  2. Tomatoes with garlic-infused olive oil, garlic powder, basil, oregano, a dash of black pepper
  3. After broiling them on HIGH/electric. I started with them on the middle rack for about 5 minutes, constantly checking them, and then topped them off for about a minute or two on the top rack- also constantly checking them.
  4. After pureeing in the mini-chopper
  5. Adding pureed tomatoes and residual tomato oil to a can of tomato paste
  6. After stirring
  7. After adding in a glug of olive oil and about 1/4 cup of water

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Decadent Improvised Garlic Bread

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While I was making the Cherry Tomato Sauce, I decided to make some garlic bread to go with it. This was prompted by the wonderful garlic smell that was emanating from the oven at the time, the fact that the bread was starting to stiffen, and the fact that there was so much leftover flavored olive oil from the sauce recipe.

Consequently, the times and temperatures- in fact, even the methods I used- were a little wonky. So bear with me. I wouldn’t be sharing this craziness if it didn’t result in something wonderful.

 

Method:

1. I cut the rolls in half.

2. I put a little olive oil in a small mixing bowl, and added a generous sprinkle of garlic powder, then dried basil and oregano, and finally a little dried parsley and stirred.

3. I dropped the slices in and stirred with a large spoon.

4. Then, I got some faux butter out, put a heaping soup spoon full in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwaved it until completely melted.

5. Then, I poured the butter onto the bread and stirred again.

6.Then, I lined a cake pan with foil & placed the bread inside, as shown.

7. The oven had been going on 400F for about 45mins at this point. I put the cake pan in the oven, turned off the oven, and attended to my tomatoes.

8. At that point, I saw all of the leftover seasoned tomato drippings & decided to use it on the bread. So, I took the bread out, dunked it in the juice, set the pieces in the lasagna pan, and put them back in the oven on broil/hi (electric) for 5mins- which was slightly too long.

  • Things I’d change:
    • Next time, I’d put them back in the cake pan. The bottom of the bread got soggy. Keep in mind, most of these pieces were intended to be leftovers, so re-heating them took care of it.
    • I also would tweak the time, the oven setting, or the rack placement.

9. This bread was actually even better as leftovers, because I could really bring out the desired crispy-ness.

Note: This is the kind of bread that you should really only savor one piece of at a time. I had three that first night. I could barely move afterwards. So delicious!

 

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Cherry Tomato Sauce: First Try!

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My tomato plants were obviously more prolific prior to the onset of black spot (which I treat by trimming the plant and applying fungicide). Still, I managed to accumulate 3 soup bowls full of tomatoes in the weeks prior. By the time I had that many tomatoes, I knew I wanted to try a sauce. Plum tomatoes are typically used, but I don’t grow those. So, I looked up a recipe that called for cherry tomatoes and gave it a whirl. You can find that recipe here. Please note, it is a recipe for a sauce, not a gravy. As I understand it, gravy contains meat drippings, whereas sauce does not. I’ve also been told there can be a difference in thickness- a sauce can be thinner, but doesn’t have to be.

All my life, I’ve had a taste for homemade sauces. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to occasionally eat at Italian restaurants featuring generational recipes. I’ve also watched sauces being built from scratch, happily taste-tested, and have a sense of what goes into a good one. For years, I’ve dreamt of making a sauce myself, but the amount of patience and meticulousness involved was a turnoff. Sure, I can savor it on the table… but to work for hours building it? I just wasn’t sure…

All this to say, my personal bar is rather high for homemade sauces, so, naturally, I personalized the recipe.

 

Method and Modifications:

*I read the comments on the original recipe, which influenced my choices when making modifications.

  • Because so many people commented that 425F was too high, I dropped it down to 400F and baked for 45mins.
  • Because others mentioned the liquid that would result from the cooking, I opted for a lasagna pan & lined the pan with foil for easy cleanup.
  • After baking, there was an excess of watery/oily/tomato-y juice in the bottom of the pan. I used a slotted spoon to retrieve the tomatoes & used the drippings for garlic bread. More on that later.

*I had some leftover plum tomatoes, so I sliced them & added them to the cherry tomatoes.

*Obviously, a single row of tomatoes was out of the question.

*I seasoned the tomatoes before cooking because I wanted the seasonings to seep in. I did not have fresh basil. I went heavy-handed on the garlic, dried basil, and oregano, and light-handed on the onion powder before baking.

*I may have used too much olive oil. I had a coating of garlic-infused evoo on the bottom. Then I drizzled plain evoo on the top, and stirred to adhere the seasonings to the tomatoes.

*I fried one pepper and about 1/4 cup of onion for taste, and added them to the tomatoes before I pureed them.

*I used a mini-chopper instead of a blender.

*Even though I drained the tomatoes before pureeing them, the sauce was too thin for my taste.

*Many sauces use tomato paste as a thickener. I had about a cup and a half left from a mixture of chunky commercially produced sauce with a can of paste added, so I used that to thicken the pureed tomato mixture.

*Finally, I added more seasonings after thickening- including ground black pepper.

 

Picture Key:

  1. Raw tomatoes over garlic-infused olive oil
  2. After seasoning & adding more oil
  3. After 30 minutes
  4. After 45 minutes
  5. After pulsing
  6. After adding tomato paste & sauce mixture to thicken

 

Post-script:

If I were to make this again, I would intentionally set out to establish a hybrid recipe. This means looking up a traditional recipe just in case I’m missing anything. Even though I ended up knowing a lot more off the cuff than I thought I did, it’s still nice to have the security of something written down to reference.

One of the things I liked about this meal was that it was entirely made from things I already had around. I served the sauce atop leftover ziti noodles that were mixed with peppers and onions, with the garlic bread on the side. Needless to say, it was delicious. I had about a week’s leftovers from the original leftovers+harvest. Yum!

 

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Easy Italian Sandwich

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As you can see here, here and here, this is a riff on one of my old standbys. My biggest challenge with it has been finding the patience to let it stay in the oven long enough for the mozzarella to completely melt.

I’m still not totally there, but I’ve found that baking it instead of broiling it helps. Also, use the middle rack, not the top rack. I like the occasional burn mark on my cheese, but I realize this is not universal. Otherwise, the recipe is more or less the same. I use fresh ingredients when they’re in season. Otherwise, I use canned.

 

Ingredients:

Kaiser roll

Can of tomato paste

Sliced mozzarella

Basil

Oregano

Garlic powder

Garlic-infused olive oil spray

 

Method:

1. I use a cake pan wrapped in aluminum foil. It’s just the right size, and makes for easy cleanup.

2. I spray the aluminum foil with the olive oil. Then, set the sliced roll down.

3. I then coat each half with tomato paste, place mozzarella slices on top, & season to taste.

4. Then, I baked it in the oven at 325F for about 10 mins. These sandwiches do best when you watch them. A little crispyness can easily change into a full-on burn otherwise, and that’s no fun.

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

 

Also, today is my Three Year Anniversary with WordPress! Wow!

anniversary-2x

“Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!”
“You registered on WordPress.com 3 years ago!
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!”

 

Easy Ziti

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This was my first time baking ziti! It was just made from what I had around. YUM!

 

What I used:

Sauce from a jar (3 cheese flavor)

Field Roast Meatloaf 1/2 loaf

4 string cheese sticks

a 2″ x 2″ block of mild cheddar

oregano

basil

black pepper

garlic powder

grapeseed oil

shredded Italian blend cheese

grated parmesan cheese

nutritional yeast

fry pan

metal bowl

large spaghetti pot

things to stir with

mini chopper

cutting board & knife

large ziti pan

garlic infused olive oil spray

 

Steps:

1. I put the “meatloaf” in the mini chopper. Then, browned it in the fry pan with the grapeseed oil.

2. I cooked the ziti in the spaghetti pot until it was al dente. I used the entire box.

3. The sauce needed some help. I added oregano, basil, garlic powder, and pepper to give it more flavor. Then, I added the “meat” to the sauce, chopped the string cheese into little circles, diced the cheddar, and added the cheese to the sauce, stirring well.

4. I drained the pasta, then added it to the sauce, and stirred.

5. I sprayed the ziti pan with garlic flavored olive oil, then added the ziti mixture to the pan.

6. Then, I topped it with a layer of Italian blend, a layer of parmesan, then some nutritional yeast.

7. I baked it at 350F for about 30 mins. So yummy!

 

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Pizza Part Deux

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This is my second attempt using the KitchenAid pizza dough recipe.

As before, my pizza is deep-dish style, where their original photograph does not look deep-dish to me. My guess is that the bread flour I use gives it a little extra oomph.

Something you might notice when comparing my first try and this attempt is that this pizza is larger. I finally broke down and bought a rolling pin. I also had canned pizza sauce this time, and the square-shaped, drier mozzarella. It was delicious, but be advised, a pizza this size does not take an entire can of sauce. I over-sauced it purposefully, and still had about 1/2 a can left, which I saved for the garlic knots. The pizza is topped with dried basil, oregano, and garlic powder.

I’ve found that the pizza can stay in the oven a touch longer than the recipe requires, but keep in mind, this is all about personal preference and the individual quirks of your oven, and is, therefore, ultimately your decision. I also confirmed than the quantities are a little off for me. Inevitably, I end up using a little more water than the recipe requires, and finishing off the kneading by hand. Otherwise, it was delicious and easy-to-follow, and this is why I’ve gone back to it.

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Garlic Knots

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I’ve professed my love for garlic knots before on this blog. Unfortunately, those garlic knots, while delicious, came from a galaxy far, far away, and were thus unable to satisfy my immediate craving.

I did a little research and came upon two pretty workable recipes: this one and this one. Despite famous chef’s famous reputation, I wasn’t crazy about the layout of the first recipe. I referred to the second one for its visuals and options.

Over time, I’ve come to appreciate anything that makes a recipe more accessible to an everyday audience. Lately, it has become even more important that I am able to create meals based on what’s around. If something’s worth it, in the future, I will likely seek it out. But if I can’t make it from what I have lying around, right now, I’m just not interested.

I’m also modifying less as I find more recipes that are workable as written. I already have a pizza dough recipe that I like (KitchenAid manual shout-out). I mostly used that recipe for these knots and a pizza. For the knots, there was a flour mixture I stored months ago that I started with. I then continued on, as per the recipe. I also overheated the warm water before mixing it into the yeast. Consequently, the relative lack of rise in the knots compared to the rise in the pizza is noticeable.

(Updated pizza post next week, but for now, check out the older version!)

As far as the choosing your own adventure aspect went, on the whole it was successful. But, as with those books, there is always curiosity about the road not taken. I used parchment paper to line the cookie sheets, which meant the bottom of the knots were darker and crispier than the tops. The other option is to grease the sheets, which I may try next time. I didn’t have a pastry brush handy, so I went a little overboard with the olive oil. The toppings were very similar, though one recipe suggested Pecorino Romano, which I love, but didn’t have, so I substituted with Parmesan in a base of faux butter and frozen parsley.

When knotting them, I went for half-sizing the pieces. I’m not sure if I will go that route next time or not. …Must leave some decisions for later, you know…

Best Enjoyed Fresh! πŸ™‚

Deep Dish Pizza

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This was the first time I made pizza from near-scratch, and not bragging, it was delicious.

The recipe for the dough came from the KitchenAid Stand Mixer manual. Their picture didn’t look like a deep-dish crust to me, but so much the better. (It may also be because I’d slightly altered the recipe by adding a touch more water to the dough, because it was still too dry to form into a ball.) In any case, I was thrilled with their recipe and will be using it again sometime. Mine looks a touch underdone compared to theirs and to the usual “golden crust”, but you know what? I loved it!

The sauce wasn’t sauce at all, but diced plum tomatoes with some basil. Store-bought, because I had it around, this particular kind had only the tomatoes and basil in it, and nothing bizarre added to the ingredient list.

The slices were fresh mozzarella, obviously.

The small cubes of cheese were smoked Gouda, just for a little something special. Obviously, they didn’t melt, and honestly were not needed, as cute as they were. Next time, I will probably leave them off.

The onion/mushroom mixture was cooked up by my lovely girlfriend, and though she has described that magic to me, I have yet to master it.

To finish it off, I just added a touch of oregano and garlic powder, since the basil was already in the sauce.

πŸ™‚

Wordless Wednesday: Cheesy Bread

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These were pretty awesome! The bread really worked for this- crunchy, yet still chewy enough to be satisfying. They’re sprayed with evoo, topped with mozz, garlic, basil, oregano, and nutritional yeast, then broiled. I made this several times since I had two baguettes to work with. This batch needed a little longer, but I ate them anyway and they were delicious.