Friday, March 28, 2014

Gemelli with cauliflower, olives, anchovies

Pasta with cauliflower, olives, anchovies

I'm not aware this has a particular name (comparable to "puttanesca" or "carbonara"), but it's a family favorite, and easy to pull together in just a few minutes.  Omit the chicken stock and the anchovies, and it's completely vegan. 

Beyond the cauliflower, everything is a pantry item.  Dinner on the table within the half-hour.

You can easily substitute broccoli for the cauliflower.

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 c olive oil
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 anchovy fillets
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
(salt) and pepper to taste
1/2 c pitted olives, chopped coarsely (like Sicilian oil-cured, or Kalamata, but green Spanish olives from a jar will do, too)
2 Tbp capers, drained
2 c chicken stock (or a combo of stock, wine, water, depending on what you have on hand)
2 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbp lemon juice (optional)
1/4 c chopped parsley
1 lb pasta, such as rigatoni, penne rigate, gemelli, rotini, or similar short pasta.

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium flame.  Add sliced onion, garlic, anchovies, red pepper flakes, black pepper.  (You might need salt, but with the anchovies, unlikely.)  Sauté until the onions are tender, about 4 minutes.

In a separate pot, cook pasta until just barely al dente in amply salted water.  Set aside, reserving some of the pasta cooking water.

Add cauliflower to the onions, stir to coat in olive oil, then add stock.  Bring to a brisk simmer, stir, then cover, and reduce heat to low, allowing the cauliflower to steam until just tender, about 5 minutes. 

Uncover, add cooked pasta, olives, capers, lemon zest, parsley.  Mix well, and let simmer briefly until much of the stock has been absorbed by the pasta.  Add pasta cooking water as desired to ‘loosen’ the pasta as you see fit.  (Any hot liquid you add will certainly be absorbed by the pasta, so tread carefully not to oversaturate it.)  Drizzle with a bit more fresh olive oil at the end.  For an added kick, squeeze lemon juice over the pasta just before serving, if desired. 

Serve, passing grated pecorino cheese at the table. 

If you have any leftovers, definitely add the lemon juice, and serve cold or at room temperature as a pasta salad.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Pi(e) Day!

Pi Day -- March 14 (3/14) is today.  I'm celebrating by posting a photo of many of the pies I've known and loved.

Top row: blueberry, lemon meringue, peach/blueberry being assembled, peach/blueberry being eaten, cherry pandowdy.
Middle row: banana cream, shepherd's, Easter meat, lemon meringue, apple crumb.
Bottom row: whoopie (from Beiler's at Reading Terminal Market), chocolate chiffon, sweet potato, chicken pot, apple pandowdy.

With the exception of the whoopie pies, these are all of my own creation. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Irish soda bread

I wrote about my travails with Irish soda bread a couple years ago, but never included a recipe.

I finally found a sturdy recipe in Saveur magazine that produced a robust loaf, but found it lacking in sweetness, and containing far too few raisins. 

This is my adapted recipe, sweeter, and with double the raisins.  I also used both baking powder and baking soda (and more than the original recipe) to give it a bit more leavened character.

There are soda breads out there that add caraway seeds to the loaf.  This is to be understood as an abomination.  

4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 Tbp butter
2 cups raisins (I use a cup each of black and golden raisins)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
        (N.B.  If you don't have buttermilk, use sweet milk that's been soured with a couple teaspoons of vinegar, or use sweet milk, omit the baking soda, and increase the baking powder to 2 tsp.)

1.    Preheat oven to 425°. Grease a cast iron, 10-inch skillet with baking spray.  Set aside.
2.    In a mixing bowl, work butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal, just as you would do for baking soda biscuits or scones.  Add sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and raisins.  Mix well.
3.    Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Beat egg in buttermilk, pour into the well, and mix with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. 
4.    Transfer dough to the greased skillet. Using a serrated knife or kitchen scissors, score top of dough about 1/2'' deep in an "X" shape.
5.    Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400°F and bake 20-25 minutes more, until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped with a knife.
6.    Transfer bread to a rack to let cool.  

Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted.

Store tightly wrapped in plastic film or foil.

I imagine you could halve this recipe, but why would you want to?