Tag Archives: macaroni

A Tale of Two Recipes

Recipe the First:

The Recipe not followed…….

‘It was the best of times, it was – not exactly the worst of times, but definitely a sub-prime, not all cylinders sparking, Dickens of time.

Travel back in time to earlier in January. This January.

Weather forecast says clear; next day it snows. Weather forecast says snow. Next day is sunny and warm. The weather is not going to be average, although the stats are going to ultimately read that. Even this week the temperature range is from -11 to +48. In One Week. Which will average out to average which is why: nothing is average and average is lie.

Also – when I shop, I go to the back of the Produce section and check out the markdown rack, and fill my cart out after that. In the last few years (decades) I’ve been able to score cauliflower galore for very very little money. Once upon a time there was a soup recipe that called for roasted cauliflower, before the world had discovered roasted veg….maybe Gourmet or Bon Apeptit. We were living on Pleasant Street. I had my discount cauliflower, broke it apart, tossed it with oil, a little S&P, popped it into a hot oven, let the heat do it’s magic. It came out to be added to the rest of the soup fixin’s but as it was cooling…..I re-wrote the recipe to start by roasting 2 cauliflower, one to snack on and one for the soup.

Cauliflower

And NOW since everyone is roasting veg ALL THE TIME AND there’s a drought in California, cauliflower is now puny and rather sad looking and as expensive as beef…..

I don’t eat as much cauliflower as I have been the last few years/decades.

Which brings me back to broccoli. Broccoli was the standard green veg on our table growing up. Green Beans had their place, but broccoli was the Jolly Green Giant of the supper tale. Boiled and served with lemon and butter. The lemon is what made the difference. We all ate it all the time.

Which meant it was sometimes leftover. Cold, with a little more lemon, great on a lunch salad. When my son was little, leftover broccoli was chopped and added to the next night’s mac and cheese, or sometimes the chopped broccoli and olive oil was the macaroni sauce.

So, when the January 13th, 2016 NYT had a Recipes for Health column headlined:

Broccoli’s Saucy Side

I said YES, I remember that, I used to do that!!!!. I could do it again!

Sidebar – This is the way I generally feel Martha Rose Shulman’s column, and I have several of her books and always get distracted when I dip in. I do so wish that the column weren’t called Recipes for Health which sounds like more heavy lifting and less fun then it is. Why not call it Recipes for a Life Well Lived?

Back- … so I got some nicer looking, more my price range broccoli.

Saucy Broccoli, here I come!

The first part of cooking from a recipe is reading the recipe from start to finish.

Then – gather your ingredients and batterie de cuisine

Do not, in other words, put the water on to cook the broccoli BEFORE you’ve read the recipe the whole way through.

And thus begins the ‘not followed’ portion of the program.

It called for broccoli and I had broccoli – so far, so good. Although I hadn’t weighed it and it was….markdown broccoli. Trimmed and ready to go.

 

It called for fusilli and I had pipettes. In the pasta world, they’re same family, similar enough form and therefore function.

 

fusili

fuselli

pipettes

pipettes

It called for garlic, I got out the garlic.

It called for anchovy fillets and I ….

I often have anchovy in the house, and if I did, where would they be? Or are anchovies one of those staples that I current don’t have? And why didn’t I look at this before I went to the store earlier?

BUT

WAIT

I was just this afternoon reading something something and it called for anchovies and it said, “To make this vegan, substitute chopped capers for the chopped anchovy”

YES. Capers, olives, vinegar and hot peppers are all part of my

Fridge Door Pantry Collection.

Open the Fridge – mustards, rooster sauce, leaf lard, fresh ginger, Parmesan cheese….what, no pickled condiments??????Not even giardiniera? Quel dommage!

giardianero jar

Not even an empty jar…..

Now the pot of water is boiling, so I throw the broccoli in. Two minutes to come up with a B plan…..

Open the fridge, open the freezer, open the ONE cupboard that had foodstuffs in it…….

Hot pepper flakes? Yes. Mise those in place.

Olive oil? Also yes, ready to go next to the hot pepper.

Garlic?

garlic

Garlic? Garlic? Bueller??? Where did I put the garlic?

Fine garlic, play hide and seek….wait, beside the olive oil is the fancy flavored olive oil ….Orange Olive Oil….with some raisins in the cupboard and hot pepper and some almonds…..that’s impromptu sorta Sicilian style. Works for me.

So – put the Orange Olive Oil in a pan, toss in the chopped broccoli, add the chopped almonds, toss in a handful of raisins, sprinkle with the hot pepper flakes towards the end. Save some of the pasta water before I drain the pipettes…..pulling a little pasta water is my new fun thing to do with macaroni. I really helps to keep it loose and doesn’t just water down the flavor. It’s a secret magic ingredient, especially if you can remember to do it before you pour it all down the drain.

Mix the macaroni with the hot veg, toss like crazy. Add a little of the pasta water if you need it. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

And this is how I didn’t make Broccoli’s Saucy Side.

As for the garlic….it was in the other room with the car keys near the door…somethings are best not questioned too closely.

to be continued…..

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Recipe, winter

Gold in them there Gourds

Because,

if you’re house-sitting the week of Halloween and have already been displaced so you’re at your ancestral home but 2/3’s of your stuff is at your former dwelling where the fire was AND you’ll be moving in November….did I mention it was the day before HALLOWEEN…..then you should definitely give into the temptation to buy, not one, but 2 giant and rather unattractive ‘decorative gourds’.

But they were substantial and hefty and the price was right – and they had the promise of being tasty culinary gold.

And after Halloween ALL the Gourds and Pumpkins  will be

GONE

Gone gone gone. As if they had never been here at all; as if there was no need for a Pumpkin or a Gourd in Winter. Winter is for Squash, alone.

Poor squash. Alone, poor lonely squash.

pumpkin 2015

They actually looked quite a bit like this, a Speckled Hound variety, but there were more warts.

amygoldmancompleat squash

SOMEWHERE I have a copy of this book, which has everything you could want to know about squash and pumpkins between it’s covers.  But think I learned well. Thank you, Amy G.!

The upside is that not only have they been decorative, but once I had time to hack, seed, peel and cook one……I have over 10 pounds of delicious golden squash/pumpkin/gourd (because they’re different names for essentially the same thing) .

You can’t freeze squash or pumpkin without cooking it first (consider the water content – you’ve seen this on front steps everywhere you look every year around a Halloween frost). Keep them indoors where the frost doesn’t go and you have much more lee-way. When the weather is cool  – and this week has been downright cold, and windy and rainy/snowy/sleety – it’s a perfect excuse to keep the oven going, as you roast it up to store in the freezer.

My excuse to keep the oven on and the kitchen toasty on an otherwise far too gray a day . Like John Alden, I shall speak for myself.

In typical fashion, the first quarter of the pumpkin took more  (or at least as much) time as the last three quarters.  I weighed the seeds and peelings when done – a little over 5 pounds. I wasn’t particularly wasteful; it really was that big.

I did have the option of roasting it whole, which I did once several years ago to a giant Blue Hubbard, Hubbard being my Dad’s favorite. That squash had been used for decorative purpose, and I saved it from the Dumpster. It was a carry in both arms /bigger then a big baby big.

Hubbard_squash

Blue Hubbard

I actually brought it to the ancestral home, poked it with an ice pick (evidently the real reason that that was still hanging around. Even though we called it an ‘ice box’ it was an up to date Frigidaire, frost free and everything) and put Baby Blue on the biggest baking sheet in the house and put it in the oven for a couple of hours until it was all  schlumpy. When it was cool enough, we used the stainless steel serving spoons to break in, separate the gold from the skin and the seeds and packed the gold  into baggies. Lots and lots of baggies. Which we stored in the freezer until there was need for gold. And it got us both through the better part of the winter.

But if you roast a squash or pumpkin whole, you end up with pulpy pulp, and I wanted to hold onto a little more structure/texture.

My new kitchen has 4 windows, so I set my cutting board on the table and was able to watch the dogs walking their people on the green, and cars coming and going at the street corner and the sun moving on the  horizon….I was also paying attention to the big knife that is necessary to cut a big squash…and my knives are home! Knives are sharp. No wounds to report.

Cut the giant in half.

Seed with the ice cream scoop. Seriously the right tool for the job.

Ice+Cream+Scoop

Ice cream scoop/pumpkin seed scoop – a multi-tasker!

Cut into whatever shapes make it possible to peel, peel, peel.

Toss with a little oil, sprinkle with a little salt, spread out on a baking sheet and pop into a 375° oven until it’s done…..20-40 minutes – poke it with a fork, you’ll know.

pumpkinNimono_of_japanese_pumpkin_2014

This is what it looks like coming out of the oven. You can eat it just like this. While humming happy food songs.

Some I ate off the roasting pan as it came out of the oven….lunch.

  • I kept  three of the chopped pounds to add to an equal amount of potatoes for slow cooker  for Squash and Potato with Rosemary that I’ve made before.

 

Italian slow cooker book

  • I’m going to use some of the leftovers of this to make a version of the squash and potato soup. I’ll puree the already cooked veg mix with the broth, and since I’ve already seasoned with rosemary I might leave the sage out. Note to self: Next time cook squash and potato with sage instead of rosemary.
  • Some of the squash/potato mixture will be mixed with eggs and fried in olive oil, a golden and easy fritatta. I fried a chopped shallot in some olive oil, added a little more oil, put the egg/potato/pumpkin in. When the bottom was browned, lowered the heat, put a lid on it and waited impatiently for it to be done.I had thought to sprinkle a little cheese over, but I forget and it was LOVELY.A glass of pear cider and a greens salad with pecans and blue cheese dressing made up the rest of that supper.
  • Some will be thinned with a little broth (or wine) and mixed with some hot macaroni, I’m thinking some hot pepper to season that…

Smoke & Pickles by Edward Lee has another version of Squash Mac and Cheese that I’ll be trying with freezer gold.

Gold updates  as they occur.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under squash, winter

Chicken Soup with Rice

Chicken once
Chicken twice
Chicken noodle soup with rice
Said Maurice Sendak NEVER…

Maurice Sendack

Maurice Sendack

but that’s how one of my brothers recited it.
I’ve been sick, downright under the weather, stuffy head and nose and post nasal drip cough….with all this stuffiness, not too much smelling or tasting.
Now I understand why the soups of my childhood never tasted good in adulthood. I had never really tasted them. I only has them when my taste buds were otherwise occupied. Or coated with Robitussan. There was also something else, before there was Nyquill, which was just plain nasty tasting….little wonder we grew up sturdy and elixir-adverse.
The most common chicken soup of my childhood:
Campbells

Campbell chicsoup
Chicken Noodle. Might be a great visual for Warhol, but those noodles were just plain slimy….never a fave. Tomato was much, much, better. Especially with a grilled cheese sangwich with pickles.
What was better soup?
Progresso

progresso chickerina
The one with the little meatballs. The best. Now they call it Italian Wedding Soup, and there’s so much WRONG with that. Chickarina. That’s what it was called.
And the soup in the middle?
Liptons

LiptonChickenNoodDiced
Almost instant, PDQ packet soup. It seemed instant, but technically it’s not. But done in 5 minutes before microwaves ruled the sense of time ….it was instant enough. Noodles – tiny, not slimy.
Is it soup yet? Soup de klaar! And although we’re Irish and Italian my entire family can start up a chorus of soup de klaar when just about food is ready – one starts and then we’re all singing it and it doesn’t even have to be soup. Or ready. Am I the only ne who remembers this? It WAS Lipton’s, wasn’t it?
I wanted to go to the store to pick up a soup bunch, but my head was so foggy I couldn’t quite figure out what I meant by that and I hadn’t checked my own freezer, which is usually stocked with soup bits. I also really didn’t want to drive ALL the way to the store, which usually isn’t onerous; in fact in certain carless situations I have walked it. As it turns out I didn’t have to go further than the convenience store up the street.
That’s when I saw the Lipton’s box.
Soup in a box. I realized that I couldn’t really taste much, and the saltiness of the crackers was what I wanted the soup for – to keep me from choking on the crackers, and to give me enough salt to be thirsty for all the herbal tea and warm water I was drinking. I bought it. For the first time EVAH I noticed that the little red Lipton sign was just like the one on the tea box….and yes, they ARE the tea people too.Lipton tea
The first packet was…blander then I remembered. Had they tried to make it healthier by leaving out the fat and the salt? It would certainly seem…..not that it’s low fat or low salt. I added more macaronis to the second packet the next day.
But when I’m sick of being sick….The soup that I make is
Pastini with cheese
Welcome to the miracle world of Italian Aqua Cotta – Cooked Water.
I’m pretty sure the original Stone Soup was somewhere in Italy. Or everywhere in Italy.
First you need water. And a little salt.
Then, maybe, if you have it, a stalk of celery chopped small. Or half of an onion minced fine. A carrot diced. Or not.
The maybe a couple of garlic cloves. Or a bouillon cube. Or some bones. Or a small piece of meat, not too much, just for flavor. Or not.
Boil. (Then take out the bones, but anything else can stay put)
Add little macaronis. Bitty macaronis. The –ini family of macaronis. (pronounced ‘eeny’)
Ditalini or acini de pepe or tubertini or stellini ,etc – multiples should fit on a spoon, so that they slip right down.
Cook until they’re soft – no al dente for this crew, they’ve got important healing work to do and you don’t want to tire the patient out with excess chewing.
It should be thick with pasta but still fluid enough to drink down. Like quicksand – looks like solid, goes down like liquid.
Put into a bowl or a cup. A mug is good. There will probably be some slurping.
If there’s a fever you might want to beat an egg in to cook in the heat of the broth. Maybe a little hot sauce to drain things….it should vary with the patient.
Add a little butter or olive oil to help it slip-slide right down.
Top with some grated cheese and some very finely minced parsley.
Repeat as needed.

I am embarrassed to tell you how old I was before I realized that to make chicken soup some people started not by pulling out a can opener, but by pulling out a CHICKEN and putting it into a pot. But that’s a story for another day.

How I feel at the end of the cup of soup.....

How I feel at the end of the cup of soup…..

4 Comments

Filed under Perception ways

Irish Mac and Cheese

Macaroni is not the least bit Irish. Calling it Mac only makes it sound like it is.

But if  you are Irish and Catholic,  St. Patrick’s Day comes smack dab in the middle of Lent and if it’s on a Friday night , no less, even if you are in the Archdioceses of Boston and even if St Patrick is the Patron saint of the Archdiocese  and even if there is dispensation for corned beef and cabbage……you might very well be having macaroni and cheese for supper.

st patrick

St Patrick, chasing  snakes and green macaroni and cheese out of Ireland

I don’t remember the details. We had plenty of St Patrick’s Days with Corned Beef and Cabbage but this one was most notably not one of those.  Was my Irish father working late? He loved his corned beef and cabbage, especially if corned beef would lead to corned beef hash….

Was it a year without dispensation? What year was it, anyhow?

What I remember was

  1. it was St. Patrick’s Day
  2. We were going to have macaroni and cheese and not corned beef.
  3. There wasn’t quite enough elbow macaroni, so some spaghetti was broken up into the mix.
  4. My mother decided to make the meal more festive by adding a little green food color to the cheese sauce.
green food color

Things are not necessarily more Irish if you color them green

How did it turn out?  It was not beautiful. Let me say that again ” ‘s NOT” Beautiful.

There are no photos. Saint Patrick’s gift to the world.

I have been highly skeeved by green food for Saint Patrick ever since. I’m not sure how this is supposed to honor the saint or Ireland.  Just say NO.

Someone else made green macaroni and cheese and took a picture of it and put it on the internet. Imagine a creamier, greener sauce...

Someone else made green macaroni and cheese and took a picture of it and put it on the internet. Imagine a creamier, greener sauce…

Green does not make the beer Irish

Green does not make the beer Irish

Green pancakes? No thank you

Rice Krispie Treats? Thank you, no.

Why??????

Why??????

Green eggs and ham

I just avoid green eggs and ham in March

I even avoid green beans at this time of year

I even avoid green beans at this time of year

Éirinn go Brách

4 Comments

Filed under Holiday, Irish

Meatless Monday

Since earlier this month, I encourage eating a little less meat, it seems only right to offer the occasional meatless option.

This is a recipe from my cousin Flora, who got it from her mother, my mother’s big sister.   One of the joys/confusions of a big family is that generations start to meld. My mother is the youngest of 10, and Flora was the youngest daughter of the the oldest daughter…so Flora and my mother were close enough in age to be raised more like sisters. It was confusing when I was little to have a cousin who was also a grown-up

Flora’s birthday was the 23rd of January. Birthdays in our family, especially since so many of us are Snow Babies, and Winters in New England  can throw a monkey wrench in the best laid travel plans, are often observed officially rather then on just the day itself. And they can stack up, so one cake could be for more then one birthday – unless there were more then one cake….. The end result is that I’m always a little murky on the actual dates of any family actual b-day.

Flora was the first cousin born over here and not in Italy, and when she was little she got to spend lots of time with Nonna, whom she had nothing but nice things to say about. Flora also took it upon herself to take the cooking of the aunties and write it down. None of them had cookbooks – they just cooked. When gathered together the talk was always about food, and where you got it, and what you did with it, and what else you might do with it, and how different people like things in different ways.

Flora passed away 2 years ago, and when I have a question on  how to make something, I remember anew that she is no longer with us. It still takes me a little by surprise. But she did leave a whole lot of recipes written down. This post is a birthday remembrance for her.

 This is a recipe we found fairly recently when going through my mother’s files looking for the original Walnut Cake recipe (we still only have copies and no the original). The Note to Irma (my mother) is on one side – the recipe is on the other.

Three types of lentils - we generally used the brown and sometimes the green and never the red.

Three types of lentils – we generally used the brown and sometimes the green and never the red.

Lentils and Macaroni

1 cup lentils

1 tomato

1 celery stalk

1 small onion, diced

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons oil

Macaroni, cooked

  1. Soak 1 cup lentils ½ hour. Empty into a colander and rinse. Return lentils to the pan.

  2. Add: 1 cut up tomato, 1 cut up celery stalk, 1 small onion, diced, 1 tbs salt, 2 tbs oil and water – at least 2 inches higher.

  3. Bring to a boil.

  4. Simmer 1 hour.

  5. Add cooked macaroni.(She doesn’t mention how much, but seldom did we cook less then a pound…and ditalini or tubertini or some little pasta that wold hold on to lentils would be best)

  6. Ditalini

    Ditalini

  7. Let flavors blend 5 minutes.

From note to Irma from Flora. Flora mentions 41 years of marriage, so maybe this was written in 2001?

The note:

Irma,

This is my mother’s recipe as given to me 41 years ago. Over the years I have changed things slightly. I put in less onion, less salt, little, if any, oil.  I top the dish with grating cheese. It’s a good meatless dish for Friday. Every time I make this dish, I have to endure Bob (who loves lentils) telling me “Lentils – the oldest dish in the world. Did you know Christ ate lentils?” After 41 years of this repartee, I am ready to crown him with the lentils.

Flora

200px-Small_Red_Rose

1 Comment

Filed under Birthday, Eating, Influencers, Recipe