Sunday, June 20, 2010

I have 10 minutes and I need dinner on the table

There are no amounts because it depends on how much pasta, what pasta and how hungry everyone is.

Put a huge pot of water on to boil. Pour yourself a glass of wine.

I toss as giant fistful of Vermicelli in insanely boiling insanely salted water, hit timer for 5 minutes. Sometimes I break the length into thirds so we don’t have to twirl or cut the pasta, sometimes I don’t. It’s a mood thing. I throw in a squashed garlic clove to flavor the water, it’ll virtually disintegrate, and it’s lovely to work into the sauce afterwards and is a very mild flavor.

On the side, in a giant bowl, throw in a blob of room temperature unsalted butter, *for me, a blob is a big rounded tablespoon?*

Pour a couple of glugs of cream over the butter (heavy or table cream NOT 1/2&1/2), loads of freshly ground black pepper and a couple of gratings of fresh nutmeg. There’s only a few ingredients here, quality matters.

Shush it around; don't worry about the butter blob.

Grate a big pile of fresh parmesan into a Ziploc bag to keep in the fridge so next time you don't have to do this step. Time is precious!
DING! (5 minutes are up)
Dip big coffee cup into water and get a some salty starchy water
Drain pasta
Throw cream mix into hot pot on stove on high heat, it’s going to boil immediately.

Toss pasta in and shush it around with tongs madly till butter melts, it's quick!

Take it off heat, throw in loads of fresh parmesan over and toss it around, add the saved water if it needs thinning, too thick and it's clumpy and NO ONE liked clumpy Alfredo *shudder* too thin and it's soup *double shudder*

TASTE IT then add more pepper then add more cheese :)

Serve drooling child/husband/friend/mother with more fresh parmesan sprinkled over.

To be honest, sometimes I add peas to the pasta because my son loves them, if you need a protein, a little cooked chicken on it or in it is fabulous. A quick salad with field greens and a light vinaigrette is perfect on the side. Mostly though I’m cooking this because we’re home late from soccer, choir or my Loopers! class so he washes up and rummages through his backpack while I whip this up so he gets this with a glass of milk and a big ole hunk of crusty bread rubbed with garlic and a little olive oil. Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Quickie Update about me and my food

This is the requested dinner the 11 yr old asked for when his dad was out of town for a week. Not pizza or burgers but a firm, "mom, while dad's gone, can you make that creamy shrimp pasta that I love?" The request made me laugh so of course it was on my short list of things to cook this week.

I'll post the whole recipe/process later today.

For the moment, I wanted your attention. It looks like I get to share my particular form of insight (?) with an even wider audience. For those of you who are keeping score. I'm writing for . I currently have pieces in the cookbook section, the food news section and the review section for Austin, Tx. It's a great resource and is hoping to cover the whole country, go check the site, look for your city and eat well.

As of yesterday, I'm the newest addition to and will be their Austin Budget Food Examiner and those bits and pieces will live here: Imagine how much better the page will be when I actually write something. I think I'll do a fine job because I love to cook, I know how to cook and more importantly, I cook on a budget. My family doesn't like processed food (well except hubba hubba who seems mysteriously addicted to Ramen noodles) so I have the challenge of being on a budget and making it all from scratch. I think I've done alright so far and hopefully I'll be able to add a tidbit of knowledge or two to whoever watches me other there.

I also wanted to take a quick moment and thank you for coming by and checking out what I do here. I really enjoy it and the opportunity to write about for a wider audience is pretty cool for me.

I'll post here when there's new material up on either site. Thanks for the ongoing support, I appreciate it.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Oh yes, You CAN live on bread and water

I love bread, I love smelling it, making it and best of all, I like to make it for other people. My son's best friend is a sweetie and I call him "other-son".

He has a wide, easy smile, twinkly eyes and is a joy to cook for. He is one of my biggest fans. I think everything I've ever cooked for him has been "the best I've ever had". Hopefully it doesn't annoy his mother, I think he's just being gracious. I've never had less than a licked-clean plate come back so he must enjoy it on some level. I have a rather extensive repertoire but he always for one of the same three things.

He is here for the weekend before he moves out of state so I told him I could deny him nothing, culinarily speaking and the smile crept across his face.

"Can you make me some of your bread?" The same smile crept across my own face, "Absolutely".

Bread it is, other-son. The "your bread" to which he refers is a ridiculously easy ciabatta type loaf that is, as far as yeast breads go, pretty quick and incredibly tasty. The ease of mixing, rising and baking makes it a standard here. I quickly mixed the mixed the highly hydrated dough and left it to rise while we ran some errands. We came back and his eyes lit up at the sight of the giant bowl of giggly, bubbling ooze that greeted us.

I flipped it quickly out onto heavily floured parchment, sliced it into two gelatinous masses and stretched each to loosely form a ciabatta "the slipper" loaf. The oven was cranked to 500 and when it registered as preheated, we waited 15 minutes more.

I slid one loaf at a time into the oven, onto a heated cookie sheet and hit the timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, I flipped it off the cookie sheet onto the racks and hit the timer for 5 mins. After 5 mins, I flipped the loaf upside down and hit the timer for another 5.

DING! straight onto a cooling rack so the crust stayed crispy all around and we tried really really really hard not to rip it into pieces right then and there. We lasted about 3 minutes.

In the name of decorum, I sliced it up, we slathered it in cold butter and, um, he ate it. I baked the second loaf the same way, there's still some of that left but then again, they did go outside for a few minutes, I have no faith it'll survive.
Here's the details:

In the bowl of 'big red' dump 500 grams of A/P flour (the ONLY thing I measure by weight is this flour, it matters and it changes?! so measure it), 2 tsp yeast, 2 tsp salt and a small sprinkle of sugar. Stir quickly and pour in 2 cups of water all at once. Mix quickly and leave for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, turn the mixer on high and leave it there. It'll start out looking like pancake batter then the weirdest thing happens to it and becomes stretchy and thin and sticky and smooth all at the same time. The dough clears the side of the bowl and then it starts to climb! It climbs up the paddle and toward the mixer housing and all the internal's ready then.

Don't even try to touch this dough. It's sticky and awful and you can't get it off you. I am absolutely sure some woman made this back in the day, the husband saw her and wrote The Blob in it's honor.
Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl with room for it to TRIPLE, doubling doesn't work here, it's got to triple. Cover the bowl with sprayed parchment and leave it. Go run some errands. It'll depend on the day how long it takes, it's risen for me in as short a time as an hour and has also taken upwards of 2 1/2 - weather, temperature, flour, humidity, your mood, really it all matters. Make this when you have no serious time constraints.

When it's tripled, tip it out onto a well floured parchment lined board, slice it in half quickly and with well floured hands, flip each half over and stretch it slightly elongated and leave it. Turn the oven to 500 and go have a glass of wine. I wait about 30 minutes before I put the dough in the oven. I cut the paper around each wobbly loaf and slide it onto a pizza peel then slip it (on the parchment) onto the stone I keep in my oven. Alternatively, you can slide it onto a cookie sheet and bake it OR you can slide it onto a cookie sheet that you've preheated. It's pretty forgiving.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and take it off the parchment, put it back in the oven for 5 minutes, flip it over and bake for an additional 5. Cool it for a couple of minutes on a cooling rack. Slice, rip apart - eat.

This makes amazing pizza dough too! If you cut the recipe in half and form it into a loose circle when you tip it out of the rising bowl; drizzle it with garlic infused olive oil and whatever you have in your fridge that you'd like on pizza. Slice your additions thin though as this bakes quickly. Or you can simply press your finger tips into the dough and drizzle with oil and loads of salt and pepper before it goes into the oven like a mock foccacia.

This is a fun dough to play with and mess about with. Do it and let me know what you did.