August 30, 2010

Curried Ground Turkey with Potatoes

  Looks good, but...

Where is the flavor??

I have to say I am pretty disappointed in this dish. It seriously needed some help. I got the recipe from Simply Recipes, which is one of those blogs that anyone interested in food blogs reads, so I had high hopes. It wasn't bad and it did taste better at lunch the next day, but just didn't have that Indian food WOW that I was expecting.

The first problem I ran into was that the turkey did not brown. I used my big Le Creuset pot which always cooks things perfectly, and I had the heat up high, so it should have browned nicely, but it didn't. It just stayed its sad almost-white color and ended up being bland and a little overcooked (which happened because I was waiting for it to brown). Then, the onions did not brown either. Again, in theory they should have. But this didn't bother me as much as the turkey because soft onions taste just fine. 

I thought things were looking up with the addition of the ginger and garlic - it smelled amazing! Then all the spices went in and it smelled even better! Perfumed the whole kitchen! (Although the turmeric has left its yellow stain on everything!) Halfway through the potatoes simmering, I took off the lid to stir and check on it and the water was all gone and the spices were sticking to the bottom of the pot! Easy fix though, I just added more water and gave the bottom a good scraping. What I should have added at this point was a handful of salt, as the finished dish desperately needed it.

I will certainly try this again, but may add chickpeas or cauliflower and will definitely make it a point to season every step of the way. I don't think salting a dish at the end has the same effect as salting at all the different levels along the way.

On the upside, the store-bought naan was great!

August 29, 2010

Dinner at Sawran's

The table

My friends, Nicole, Amy and Sawran, and I had dinner at Sawran's new apartment this past week. Nicole made a delicious artichoke, prosciutto, mozzarella, basil flatbread:

Amy brought some tasty prosecco and wine:
Sawran pouring the prosecco


Amy may have had a little bit of trouble getting the rabbit back in the box:

Sawran tried to give instruction with her wooden spoon...

But luckily Nicole stepped in to set the rabbit straight.

Sawran made us a positively gourmet meal of chimichurri salmon, lemon butter asparagus and orzo with fresh vegetables. It was light, healthy and delicious!

And for dessert I made cinnamon semifreddo with fresh berries in individual ramekins. And forgot to take a picture. (Mine looked better than Michael Chiarello's ;) )

Thanks for a fun and fabulous evening, ladies!

August 25, 2010

Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Broccoli

Cat dish!

This is another Real Simple recipe (I like my magazines! Sometimes I think I am single-handedly keeping print magazines in business.), from September 2009. It is labeled "kid-friendly," which I think is kind of hilarious. MM and I have tried this before, but it was BB (before blog), so I have no clue how we felt about it. This time around we agreed that it needs more sausage (perhaps 9oz instead of 6oz) and I had already doubled the broccoli (two small heads instead of one), so I will certainly do that next time as well. The best part about this dish is that it comes together really quickly (it says 20 minutes in the recipe, but I can't get anything done in 20 minutes, so it probably took me 30 minutes).

August 24, 2010

Dill Chicken and Orzo with Feta, Tomatoes and Dill

Dill deliciousness!

Gourmet Magazine, how I miss thee! Last night's dinner consisted of two old Gourmet recipes: Dill Chicken Paillards from September 2009 and Orzo with Feta, Tomatoes and Dill from July 2008. The chicken recipe called for a tomato-dill relish, but I decided to pair it with the orzo recipe, so we could still have tomatoes and it would qualify as a side dish, too. 

The chicken was delicious! One of the best chicken renditions I have tasted. I wish the chicken I had was a little bit thicker (I bought it thin-sliced), so it wouldn't have cooked as quickly. I didn't even have time to get grill marks on it! The orzo was good - it definitely shined when you ate all the components together. The sweet, juicy tomatoes were the star of the dish.

August 23, 2010

Sicilian Spaghetti with Fennel and Onion

Beige, beige, beige, beige!

My dear readers,
I know I have been absent for awhile and for that I am sorry. I just haven't been cooking much. Blame it on travel, being uninspired and way too hot. DC is trying to kill its residents this summer. I am also sorry that my first dish is this boring, not very good, monochromatic disaster. 

I have never made a Rachael Ray recipe that I liked. (Maybe that should have been my first sign.) This one is from her cookbook, Express Lane Meals, which I received as a gift a couple years ago. I am trying one more recipe from it this week and if it is unsuccessful too, then I will be giving away a cookbook! Leave a comment if you want it!

I really felt like this recipe had potential. It has fennel (yum, fennel!), toasted bread crumbs with parsley and pine nuts (I love parsley!), and there is (usually) nothing wrong with onion. The resulting dish was just boring. Nothing special. Poor MM straight out said he did not like it, would never eat it again and did not want it leftover for lunch. (To be perfectly honest, it was slightly better leftover for lunch than as dinner.) I am not even going to bother typing out the recipe; believe me, you don't want to try it!

So, dear readers, let's hope for better food the rest of the week!

August 4, 2010

Penne with Heirloom Tomatoes, Bacon and Goat Cheese

 What? Pasta again?

I had purchased an impulse-buy container of mini heirloom tomatoes at Trader Joe's the other day (side note: I find that Trader Joe's is like Target - if you only pick up what you can carry in your own two hands, you will probably be ok. But the moment you pick up a basket, or god forbid a cart (!), you end up with way more items than you need and a receipt that prompts you to tally everything up yourself because there is no way it could come to that much money, so logically, the cash register must have counted incorrectly.) and needed to do something with them promptly lest they become expensive food for our garbage can.

I had wanted to try this recipe from Martha Rose Shulman for Penne with Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil, Green Beans and Feta for some time, but seeing as I didn't have Green Beans or Feta, I just used her guidelines for the tomato "marinade." Marshal Mike doesn't consider a meal a meal unless it has meat in it, so I sauteed up some bacon to throw in at the end. And I used goat cheese to make the dish creamy and cheesy. Overall, this pasta was satisfying and delicious!

Penne with Heirloom Tomatoes, Bacon and Goat Cheese
Serves 2, with leftovers

1 lb mini Heirloom tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 plump garlic clove, minced
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons slivered basil
6 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 lb penne or fusilli (you can see I used both)
1/2 cup herbed goat cheese

1. Combine the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes-1 hour.

2. Sauté bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving some of the pasta water.

4. Return pasta to the pot and toss with the goat cheese. Once most of the goat cheese has melted from the heat of the pasta, add the tomato mixture and the bacon. (There should be enough liquid in the tomato mixture to make a sauce, but if not, add a little pasta water.) Taste for seasoning and serve.

August 3, 2010

Fusilli with Sweet Sausage and Fennel

"Absolutely delicious!" That is what I exclaimed as I tasted this dish. "Wow, that's really fabulous!" I exclaimed after the second bite. I looked over at MM shoveling pasta into his mouth with one hand and trying to keep Patton from crawling into his lap to get closer to the bowl with the other hand, and I knew we had a winner. The salty, slightly sweet sausage mixed with the sweet, tender fennel and leeks was perfect. The only down side to this dish is that it needs two large pots and a fry pan, so clean up is less than a breeze. The recipe is from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook, which my thoughtful mother-in-law got me for Christmas a year ago. I halved the recipe, but have included the full-size original recipe below.

Fusilli with Sweet Sausage and Fennel
From The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook
Makes 4 main-course servings or 6 first-course servings (although a half-recipe made enough for 2 dinner servings and 2 lunch portions)

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 leeks, white part only, rinsed and thinly sliced (although I used some of the light green parts too, because I couldn't stand wasting it)
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground in a mortar (alas, I do not have a mortal and pestle, so was forced to grind the seeds on a cutting board with the bottom of the jar - classy, I know)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 lb sweet Italian pork sausage, casings removed
Splash of sherry vinegar (I didn't have this, so omitted it)
1 lb dried fusilli
Leaves from 6 large fresh tarragon sprigs, coarsely chopped
Handful of fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup freshly grated pecorino toscano or pecorino romano cheese

In a Dutch oven or large, heavy flameproof casserole dish over medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the leeks, fennel and fennel seeds, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the stock, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a heavy frying pan over high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the sausage, breaking it up with a spoon. Cook until well browned, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour off most of the fat (keep a little to add flavor) and add a splash of sherry vinegar.

Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, add the sausage to the pot with the vegetables and simmer for 1-2 minutes to blend the flavors. You should have some liquid left in the pot to form a sauce. If not, add a little warm water or more chicken stock. (I would recommend reserving some of the pasta water for this purpose. I found that at this point my sauce looked ok, but once it all came together, I wished I had had some pasta water to moisten it.) Taste and adjust the seasoning and add a drizzle of olive oil (I did not do this; I felt that it looked oily enough from the sausage).

Drain the pasta and put it in a warmed large, shallow bowl (I threw it in with the veggies and sausage). Add the tarragon, parsley and about 3 tablespoons of the cheese. Toss. Add more cheese on each individual bowl.

August 2, 2010

Turkey Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries

I really love turkey burgers, so I decided it was time I tried to make them myself. We don't have a grill, so I just used a grill pan on the stove top. I used Martha Stewart's Favorite Turkey Burger recipe as a guide. I didn't have any Gruyere, so I used Parmesan and I didn't have any scallions, so they were omitted. The buns I bought at Trader Joe's were a little smaller than normal sized buns, so I made three burgers out of a half pound of ground turkey. MM almost finished two. Overall, I was pleased with the burgers; they didn't dry out, but they were still kind of missing something. They were fast to make, so I will definitely try again. (Perhaps with the remaining half pound of meat in the freezer!)

My brother had left behind a sweet potato from his stay at our house, so I made oven fries to go with the burgers. I was hoping they would be crispy, but they weren't at all. Good flavor, but no crunch. I guess it can be hard to get sweet potatoes crispy if you don't fry them.