Archive | April, 2011

Pasta Cacio e Pepe with Salt Cured Egg Yolk

28 Apr

The great thing about cacio e pepe – or pasta with cheese and pepper – is that you really don’t need a recipe.  It is, however, supremely delicious, comforting and easy.  Those three adjectives are perfect for me this week, since I am in a study period for finals and don’t think I could handle anything a whole lot more difficult than boiling water and combining a few ingredients at the moment.  The cured egg yolk was a lovely addition to this dish.  For almost zero extra effort, it added a layer of creamy, yolk-y goodness that  really made this special.

When I saw the video for these salt cured egg yolks at Huffington Post – Food, I knew immediately I was going to have to give it a try.  Commerce Restaurant’s chef/owner Harold Moore’s brilliant idea of curing an egg yolk in a salt/sugar mixture to use as a garnish really struck a chord with me due to my unwavering love for all things egg-y.

Pasta Cacio e Pepe with Salt Cured Egg Yolk

Pasta Cacio e Pepe:

8 oz. dried egg pasta (I used fettuccine)

2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs. Brummel & Brown

2 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated

1 tbs. freshly cracked black pepper

2 salt cured egg yolks, grated (see below)

Kosher salt

In a medium pot, bring salted water to a boil, cook pasta al dente, according to package instructions.  [Note:  To make this dish especially weeknight and/or final exam study time friendly, use a wide bottomed p0t.  When you drain the pasta, simply wipe down the pan and place it back on the stove to complete the remaining steps.]

Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add Brummel & Brown and cook until melted.  Add pasta back to the pan.

Add freshly cracked black pepper, cheese, and grated salt-cured egg yolk.  Mix together with tongs to coat well with olive oil mixture.

Salt Cured Egg Yolks:

Adapted from Huffington Post – Harold Moore

Half dozen eggs

3 cups sugar

2 cups kosher salt

Carefully separate egg whites from egg yolks.  Reserve whites for another purpose.

Mix together salt and sugar.  Place about 3/4 of salt-sugar mixture into an airtight container.  Make six small indentations with the back of a spoon.  Carefully transfer egg yolks into the indentations.

[Note:  You will probably lose a few yolks in the process.  Start out with about 25% more eggs than you want final cured yolks.]

Carefully cover yolks with the remaining 1/4 of the salt-sugar mixture.  Transfer to refrigerator.  Let cure about one month, checking weekly, until yolks are hard and cured.

Chilled Clam Dip

26 Apr

I was asked to bring a few appetizers to Easter this year, so I decided to make a hot dip and a cold dip.  Finals are coming up, so I didn’t have a ton of time to be painstakingly making tiny little appetizers.  It’s much easier to throw a bunch of stuff into a bowl and mix it together – and often just as tasty.  This appetizer was almost sinfully easy – it came together in about five minutes.  It was also delicious with the tasty, salty bites of clam against the smoky Worcestershire and cool cream cheese.

Chilled Clam Dip

Adapted from CDKitchen.com

12 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

13 oz. canned minced clams, drained with 1 tbs. juice reserved (2 cans)

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 tbs. fresh garlic, very finely minced

1 tbs. garlic hot sauce

1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 scallion, thinly sliced, for garnish

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Let sit at least 2 hours or overnight.  Garnish with scallions and serve cool or at room temperature.

Serve with chips, crackers, or bread (I served with French bread and tortilla chips)

Feta and Caper Macaroni and Cheese

25 Apr

 This dish came together in under half an hour and was oozing with creamy, cheese-y deliciousness.  The capers added a salty little bite that made this dish absolutely addictive.  If you’re really strapped for time, simply toss the noodles with the cheese sauce and serve immediately.

Feta and Caper Macaroni and Cheese

1 cup whole wheat elbow noodles, cooked al dente according to package instructions

1 1/2 tbs. unsalted butter

1 roma tomato, diced

2 whole marinated garlic cloves, chopped

1 tbs. capers

1 1/2 tbs. all-natural, whole wheat flour

3 tbs. plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup very hot water

1 cup feta, crumbled

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. sumac

Freshly cracked black pepper

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, finely ground

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add tomatoes, garlic, and capers and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Add flour and whisk to combine with butter and coat vegetables.  Season with crushed red pepper flakes and sumac.

Combine plain Greek yogurt and very hot water.

While whisking, combine yogurt/water mixture with flour-coated vegetables, stirring until thickened.  Add feta cheese in small batches and whisk until mostly smooth.

Add noodles and toss to coat with sauce.  Transfer to an oven safe bowl and top with ground seeds.  Spray with non-stick spray and bake 20 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.

Spinach and Butter Bean Casserole

23 Apr

This flavorful casserole is super easy, with only about 15-20 minutes of hands on time, but packs a punch of nutrition.  Spinach and butter beans each have a bunch of benefits that (for me, at least) completely cancel out the guilt factor of the cheese in this recipe.  The creamy ricotta and rich muenster work with the heat of the sriracha to create a really delicious background to the vegetables, and the bread crumbs provide a nice variation in texture that makes this dish a pleasure to eat.

Spinach and Butter Bean Casserole

1 10 oz. package frozen leaf spinach, thawed with excess moisture squeezed out

8 oz. canned butter beans, drained and rinsed

2 tbs. Brummel & Brown

1 small yellow onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 tbs. all-natural, whole wheat flour

1 cup 1% milk

1 tbs. sriracha

1/2 cup muenster cheese, grated

1/4 cup spinach and ricotta dip (substitute plain ricotta or more muenster, if desired)

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs, lightly toasted

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400º.

Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.

Melt Brummel & Brown in a 10″ cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are just beginning to brown, about 10-12 minutes.  Add flour and stir to coat onions.  Cook 1-2 minutes until flour is heated through.

Slowly whisk in milk to form a sauce.  Season with sriracha.  Whisk in the cheese to form a sauce.

Add spinach and butter beans and stir to combine.  Top with bread crumbs and spray with non-stick spray.  [Note:  If you do not have a cast iron or oven-proof skillet, you can transfer the mixture to a shallow casserole dish and follow remaining directions.]

Transfer to oven and cook 30-35 minutes until bubbling and bread crumbs are golden brown.

Remove from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes.

Spinach and Ricotta Dip

22 Apr

It’s the last full week of class, so our legal writing sections were combined to play a super-awesome review came with fabulous prizes(!!!!) and a pot luck.  Though I am a big fan of warm cheesy dips, there’s only one microwave in the law school that really works, and I didn’t want to hog it trying to heat something up.  Plus, this dip takes about five minutes to make, which is a bonus when you’re busy trying to finish an assignment.  For such a quick, easy dip, this packs a lot of flavor.  It is creamy from the ricotta with just a touch of bright citrus from the lemon juice and tang from the Greek yogurt.  If you’re strapped for time but want something that makes a big impression, this is a dip you should definitely try!

Spinach and Ricotta Dip

Adapted from dlife.com

1 10 oz. package chopped, frozen spinach, thawed and drained well

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 cup ricotta cheese

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbs. fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together thoroughly.  Serve chilled.

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