Tuesday, September 25, 2012

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - Delfina

Location: 3621 18th Street, San Francisco, California 94110
Date: Tuesday, September 25
Food: Papardelle with liberty duck sugo
Price: $17
Comments: The 7x7 list calls for a papardelle with pork sugo but this counts!  The pasta was fresh but slightly too al dente for my liking.  Duck was nicely cooked but could have benefitted from a less salty sauce since the duck flavor got kind of covered up.  The portion size is decent for the price.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Quick and Easy - Tomato & Asparagus Linguine

We have been trying really hard to have a meatless dinner @ least once a week but I am not creative enough to always come up with something that is vegetarian, inexpensive, healthy, delicious, AND quick.  Thank goodness the Other Half is developing this amazing palate so he can tell me what flavors to put together to make a good dish without a recipe.

This original recipe includes...
     1/2 package linguine
     12 stalks asparagus
     2 small tomatoes
     4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
     1 shallot, finely chopped
     1/3 cup olive oil
     1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
     Salt & black pepper to taste

Start with a pot of water...
     Cook the linguine according to the instructions; about 9 minutes
     In a pan, sweat the shallot, garlic, & pepper flakes in the olive oil over low heat
     After removing the tough parts, cut the asparagus on the bias
     Throw the asparagus into the pan & sautĂ© for 3 minutes
     Quarter & seed the tomatoes & cut them into large dices
     Season the asparagus according to taste & toss in tomatoes near the end
     Drain the pasta and return it to the pot
     Pour the veggies into the pasta & toss to combine
     Serve with a little bit of grated parmesan if desired

Et voilĂ !  The entire dish from prep to plate took just around 30 minutes.  I learned that it would be better to use a pasta - like a penne or a rigatoni - that is similar in shape to the accompaniment so everything can be scooped up together.  The red pepper flakes was a last minute addition but I really liked that it gave a little bit of heat without the actual spiciness.  My end result was a little tight - not enough sauce - so next time I'll keep a bit of pasta water around to loosen things up as needed.

Friday, September 14, 2012

7x7 Big Eats 2012 - Papalote

Location: 3409 24th Street, San Francisco, California 94110
Date: Wednesday, September 21st
Food: Chips & Salsa
Price: $1.50
Comments: This is not like regular salsas that are available @ most Mexican restaurants; it is tomato'y & cheesy without the heavily feeling of bad nacho cheese.  There is a good deal of heat in the salsa but it's not the kind that stays on your tongue & makes you want to drink a lot of water; it sits in the back of your pallet & just kind of coats the entire opening into the esophagus.

Monday, September 10, 2012

From the Oven - Gingerbread Muffins

We love Arizemendi Bakery; especially the Corn cherry scone (for me) & the Ginger cup (for him).  Unfortunately, they haven't had the Ginger cup for the last few times that's we've been there.  So inspired, he asked for gingerbread muffins.  I found this recipe on Epicurious & adapted it using some of the reviews that people wrote in.

Start out with...
     23/4 cups all-purpose flour
     21/2 teaspoons baking soda
     11/2 teaspoons cinnamon
     1/2 teaspoon salt
     1/2 cup butter, softened
     1/2 cup light brown sugar
     2 eggs
     3/4 cup mild-flavored molasses
     3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
     11/3 cup milk

Then you...
     In a big bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon & salt
     In a bigger bowl, cream together butter & brown sugar
     Add in the eggs & beat until incorporated
     Add in molasses & ginger; mix until incorporated
     Add in half of the dry ingredients & mix well
     Add in the rest of the dry ingredients & mix well
     With the electric mixer on low, gradually add in the milk until everything is together
     Pour the batter into a prepared muffin pan; bake at 350F for 25 minutes

I don't have a real muffin pan so I made mini muffins using a cupcake pan (bake for 17 minutes) instead.  The muffins are light & fluffy & don't hit you over the head with ginger flavor.  But if ginger is what you like, feel free to add more.  Note: if using dried ginger instead, reduce the amount by half since it is more potent than fresh ginger.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Quick & Easy - Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

The boyfriend was going to be late coming home so I was tasked with making dinner.  For me, I can make a quick dinner by grilling a chicken breast & pair it with a nice green salad.  But since I was cooking for another person, I should at least try to make something a little bit more put together.

Having had mostly land animals the week before & 2 nights of eating out, I really wanted something that was on the lighter side but would still be fulfilling - what with him eating as much as a family of 4. I had planned on making salmon & pasta already, but I didn't figure what vegetables to cook until right as I got home.

I got this recipe from PickyCook but I think the original one came from Ina Garten.  Anyway, this is super easy & takes only about 20 minutes.

All it takes is 6 ingredients (or 5 depending)...
     1 package of asparagus, about 15-20 stalks
     1/4 cup grapeseed oil or olive oil
     1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
     Salt & black pepper
     Paprika (optional)

In a oven safe dish...
     Evenly lay out trimmed asparagus* in 1 layer
     Drizzle with oil & season fairly aggressively with the salt & black pepper
     If you want, sprinkle in a small amount of paprika
     Toss everything together to ensure even coating & lay out the asparagus again
     Roast in a 400F oven for 15 minutes
     Remove the dish from the oven, sprinkle parmesan all over & watch it melt

The asparagus is tender & the tips are a little bit crispy.  Even though there is quite a bit of oil, it does not feel heavy whatsoever.  The paprika gives a little bit of heat at the end of each bite without making anything spicy so it just adds another layer of flavor.  This was super easy to make & I can easily see it paired with steak, chicken, or even a nice rack of lamb.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Quick & Easy - Lemon'y Light Pasta with Summer Squash

I am a huge meat eater; there is not a type of meat that I've had that I don't like or wouldn't eat again.  But eating meat 7 days a week isn't exactly the healthiest - or most interesting - thing to do.  So to break up the meat consumption, I have started to look for vegetarian recipes that are quick, healthy, & full of flavor.

We knew we wanted vegetarian & we wanted pasta; so that's what I Googled.  The first result is from Delish which showed 20 vegetarian pasta recipes.  I chose the Penne Tricolore since I had most of the ingredients already & it looked like something that I could make in 1 pot.

My adaption of the original recipe had...
     3/4 box penne pasta
     1 large zucchini
     1 yellow squash
     1 white squash
     1/4 cup basil, chopped
     1/4 cup parmesan, grated
     1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
     Zest of 1 lemon
     Juice of 1 lemon
     3/4 teaspoon salt
     1/4 teaspoon black pepper

It was kind of an orchestrated process...
     In a large pot, start heating up 4 quarts of water
     While the water is heating up, peel the zucchini & squash & cut them into matchsticks
     Once the water boils, salt it aggressively & add in the pasta; cook for 9 minutes
     In a big bowl, combine basil, EVOO, lemon zest/juice, salt, & pepper
     When the 9 minutes are up, add squash with pasta & cook for 2 more minutes
     Drain the pasta & squash into a colander, making sure all the excess water is out
     Put the pasta into the bowl of sauce & toss until it's all evenly coated
     When serving, grate some extra parmesan cheese on top.

At first, the individual flavors of the oil, basil, & lemon juice really stood out & even fought against each other.  But after letting it sit together for a minute & the heat from the pasta integrated everything together.  The end product was light, fresh, & perfect for summer (or if you're having a "fat day").  I didn't mind having the seeds of the squash but if you do, you can cut the squash half, seed it, & cut it into thin semi-circles instead of matchsticks.  The pasta also works just as well without the squash as a side dish to go with fish.