Orecchiette with Squash, Chiles, and Hazelnuts

Ambre’s mom provided us with a few copies of Bon Appetite magazine where we discovered a great recipe for Orecchiette with Squash, Chiles, and Hazelnuts. We followed the recipe nearly exactly, only omitting the fresh mint.  Following the other recipe they provided, Ambre and I actually made the pasta ourselves! Water and flour together produced a handmade pasta that may not have been brilliantly white but it was certainly brilliantly delicious.It was a lot of fun, and the end result was really delicious. The butternut,hazelnuts and fresh lemon juice was a really excellent paring. We will make it again!

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Grilled Cheese + Soup

Ambre requested the ultimate sore throat sickness recovery comfort food: grilled cheese and tomato soup. I produced for her Cooks Illustrated Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup. Torn up pieces of white bread is the secret ingredient that adds creaminess without subtracting from the tomato flavor. As for the grilled cheese, I stuck with tradition. Kraft American Cheese and softened butter spread on both sides. Cooking it on medium-low allowed it to get evenly crispy and brown without burning, and letting the cheese get to room temperature helped speed up the melting.  Simple, soothing and tasty. She loved it.

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Biscuits

Dissatisfied with the poor showing I’ve had on earlier occasions of biscuit making I’m doing some experimental baking for myself.  I started with White Lily Self-Rising flour as per Southern tradition as well as the multitudes of recommendations. Since this flour already includes leavening and salt, all that’s required is the liquid and fat. Taking a tip from a Cooks Illustrated recipe, I grated frozen shortening (very snow like in consistency) into the buttermilk a before mixing in the flour.
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One mistake I made was preheating the baking sheet before adding the biscuits, the bottoms cooked too quickly.

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The shortening version of the recipe produced a nearly cake like biscuit, delightfully fluffy and airy.

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I tried the same recipe, using butter instead. The texture was nearly the same, a bit moister I think because of the higher water content in the butter. Flavor was markedly improved(suprise suprise!) and butter imparted a pleasant yellow hue through the biscuit.

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Next time I will try to figure out how to get them to rise without spreading out!

Drumsticks, Three Ways

I planned on having these drumsticks for dinner Wednesday, but due to my infatuation with experimentation, and a new technique, they took nearly 5 hours to cook. That’s pretty crazy and I assure you, in many ways it is. But it was a really informative experiment.

I coated each of them with spices(in order from left to right, Ethiopian Berbere, Tony’s Cajun, plain salt) and stuck them in an oven set to 200F and took them out when they reached 175F internally. I put them in the refrigerator overnight(it was my bedtime, and I still had more recipe to do.) The next day I broiled them. I was inspired by a couple of extra low and slow recipes for cooking beef and I wondered if chicken could benefit from a similar technique. At first glance they look dry, the middle one for instance has a quite leathery looking patch. But, as I learned, this is deceiving and that overcooking is nearly completely responsible for dryness. These, however, were perfectly cooked and were the juiciest and most delicious drumsticks I have ever eaten.

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Dinner Challenge – Night Two

Tonight we scraped through the fridge and freezer and put together a simple, but very satisfying meal.

Cheese Ravioli with Garlic Bread and Red Peppers

Tristan made some frozen cheese ravioli and topped it with Wegman’s vegetarian-friendly “Grandpa’s Sauce” (one of the best pasta sauces I’ve ever had from a jar!) and fresh red peppers. He also made a few pieces of garlic bread using fresh garlic. Here’s to a successful second dinner using odds and ends from the kitchen!

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Dinner Challenge

Tristan and I were preparing our grocery list for this week when I randomly brought up the idea of doing no shopping and just eating all of the odds and ends out of the closet, fridge, and freezer. He was dubious at first, but then I started crafting meals (smoothies or eggs for breakfast, soup and chicken sandwiches for lunch, and veggies with random things like frozen ravioli for dinner) and he started to like the challenge of the idea.

So, our first dinner ended up being: Orange “Chicken” with Steamed Edamame.

The orange chicken was a soy-product made by Gardenin that Tristan and I both think tastes better than most real chicken we’ve had at Chinese restaurants. The edamame was fun to eat – nothing like popping like beans out of hairy pods!  – and very tasty, as well. It was about time we used it, too; the bag had been in the freezer for months!

This random meal actually ended up being rather memorable and definitely something we will make again in the future. Even better, all that food was less than 400 calories!

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