Sunday, January 16, 2011

Orzo with Spinach Gouda Sauce

You may notice two cream based recipes back to back. This is because cream goes bad quickly and I had a full pint to use; needless to say I haven't just been cooking for myself. This one is a little lighter and probably simpler.

In the Amsterdam airport they have this little deli place where you can buy cheeses, meats, etc. I had euros left over and the exchange kiosk had a ridiculous commission so I decided to load up. I got several kinds of gouda, some of which I left with my parents. I used the aged goat gouda in this one and it came out wonderfully.

You will need:

Salted water
1/2 package orzo
1-2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 pint heavy cream
1 1/2 cup milk
3 cups fresh baby spinach or 2 cups frozen, already heated and drained
2 oz aged goat gouda, shredded finely
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
Salt to taste

Set the water to boil, add the orzo and olive oil and stir to prevent sticking. You'll want to cook this for 8-10 minutes.

Heat up the cream and milk over medium, add the spinach and chili flakes once hot. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the gouda and stir until melted. Taste it and determine how much salt you want to use, then use it. Turn off the heat and allow it to thicken for a few minutes.

I just mix the orzo with the sauce while it's still hot. You can garnish it with a sprig of basil if you're feeling fancy.

Gorgonzola Fettucine Alfredo with Seared Artichoke Hearts

This recipe is loosely based on a ridiculously overpriced dish I had at a restaurant in Helsinki. Granted, the food was good, especially the tortellini in pasta sauce. But due to some linguistic misunderstandings I wound up getting a lot more food and paying a lot more money that night. Since I've been home I've been cooking up a storm -- I hardly got to cook at all abroad since I was so busy with everything else. Anywho, this is my modification of the gorgonzola pasta dish. Be forewarned, it's quite heavy but lighter than most recipes I've found for alfredo sauce.

You will need:

1/2 lb dry Fettucine pasta
Water, salted to taste, for boiling
2 tbsp olive oil

Equivalent of 1 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese (there are sharper and sweeter versions, I went with the sweeter one)
1/2 pint heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 tbsp butter
Salt to taste

1 cup artichoke hearts, quartered
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
1 clove garlic, zested or chopped finely
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup wine (if desired)

Start off by boiling the pasta, putting the olive oil in the water and stirring to prevent sticking. You'll want to cook this for 10-12 minutes, give or take.

Heat the milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and gorgonzola once hot. Stir until there are few lumps and add salt. Set aside to thicken.

Take a skillet, ideally cast iron, and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, put in the olive oil and add the salt. Use a spatula to coat the entire skillet and add the artichoke hearts and spices. After stirring to coat each piece thoroughly, add the white wine and mix quickly. Continue to cook until the sides of the hearts begin to brown and set aside.

I like to mix my sauce with the pasta but a lot of people think it's prettier to serve the sauce drizzled over it. Whatever works. Top it with the seared artichoke and serve with hot, crusty bread.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ring in the New Year with Collard Greens Soup

I'm reporting to you from Finland, so while it is evening here many of you in the States are probably just awakening from a champagne induced stupor. Here's a recipe I meant to publish awhile back but preparing to go abroad wound up eating up a lot of time. If you don't have the time or energy to do a traditional black eyed peas, greens and cornbread dinner, here's a one pot dish to keep warm with.

You will need:

I lb fresh collard greens
1 quart chicken broth
3-4 whole, uncut cloves of garlic
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch mung bean threads, uncooked (you could use rice noodles but I like the texture of the bean threads better, these are also known as cellophane noodles)
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
2/3 cup water

Rinse the collard greens well and lay them flat on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut out the stem and fold in half. Roll from the bottom up and slice into segments, this will give you fine long pieces of greens. Bring the chicken broth and water to a strong simmer and throw in the garlic and greens. Cook for about 45 minutes, checking every now and then to make sure the liquid doesn't boil off. If you're running low, add a bit more chicken broth or salt water.

After 45 minutes add the oil, tamari, chili flakes and mung bean threads. Cook for about 5 more minutes and remove from the heat. Serve it hot, ideally with some crusty bread to soak up the potliquor.