Friday, January 15, 2010

New blog

So this is what happens when one forgets passwords - and email accounts! Whoops! In any event, Mrs. Vander Leek is back to blogging and glamorous cooking as well. Our baby, Gabriel, is almost 9 months old now, and our puppy, Cash, is about 6 months old. So, I've got a bit more time on my hands lately and my house is actually somewhat clean. Thanks to modern technology, I have had access to the Food Network and thanks to my baby being fussy in small increments, I have been couch bound on occassion and actually have had a good reason for turning on the TV in the first place. I actually love the Food Network. A couple of my favorite shows have been French Food at Home (I LOVE her!), The Main and, oddly enough, Good Eats. He referenced Monty Python one day and SpinalTap a couple of weeks later - fantastic. Watching all of these cooking shows actually makes me feel quite inferior in a way. For example, I feel bad that I don't like mushrooms, can't stand the taste of truffles, hate dijon and don't even have quinoa in my cupboards (something I plan to remedy shortly). However, these shows are positively impacting me slowly - I've bought fennel twice in the last couple of months, I went looking for creme fraiche in my grocery store (yah, they didn't have it), and later on in life, when I can afford it, I'm buying a goat and making my own cheese :)
One of my latest endeavors has been to make breakfast for my husband every morning before he leaves for work. All too often we've been guilty of skipping it and it really makes or breaks the day I find. So, we've done french toast, pancakes, eggs and toast with mini french toasts with lemon butter and Eggs Cocotte (with extra yolks!). This week, potato cakes, cinnamon rolls and muffins. It's nice to get in some early morning baking again.
My meals have been more charming lately too. Last night we had a risotto-style pasta dish, a few days ago we had friends over for paninis, italian sodas and an apple, pear and asiago salad with roasted red pepper dressing, and a few weeks ago I was making this fantastic roast for company and when I pulled it out of the oven at a perfect medium, I realised it was pork, not beef, so I sliced it up, threw in some apple slices and finished cooking it through in a skillet on the stove - it worked great! (And now I'm always labeling my meat when I freeze it)
I'm making phones calls this week to see if I can start selling my homemade syrups when my EI runs out in March. Here's hoping that works. And if I am allowed to make the syrups in my kitchen there are a couple of recipes I need to perfect and make sure they won't curdle (such as my beautiful raspberry-amaretto syrup!)
Well, this is all for today, but I think I'll throw in my risotto-style pasta recipe. Just for good measure :)

Risotto-style Pasta

2 tbsp butter
3 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
Handful of spaghetti
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt
1 cup of white wine
5 cups chicken broth
1 can stewed tomatoes
Fresh herbs (basil, e.g.)
1/2 cup-ish parmesan

First, melt butter over medium heat in the largest frying pan that you have. You want your pasta to be able to lay flat in it. Cook your minced shallots in the butter until they become clear, then add the minced garlic. Cook until the garlic really releases its aroma. At this time, pour your stock into a medium sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat until it's just warmed. Don't boil the stock, but keep it warmed. Add the oil, the spaghetti and the salt to your frying pan. Stir the pasta around in the oil to really coat it and brown it slightly. Add the white wine and stir until the liquid is gone. Now comes the fun. Add a couple ladels of stock to your frying pan at a time, stirring each time until the liquid is dried up before you add more. Continue adding the stock until it is about halfway gone. At this point, add the stewed tomatoes (NOT the liquid it came in, however) and whatever other veggies you want cooked into your pasta. Warning: If you use peppers, it will very quickly overpower that beautiful white wine smell (and taste) and you will need to add more white wine at this point. Probably just avoid the peppers. And if you want to add spinach or arugula, hold off until the very end to add these.
Continue adding the the broth a couple scoops at a time until the whole amount has been used and absorbed. Remove from heat. Add in parmesan and fresh herbs (add the spinach or arugula now too) and stir in. Serve right away so it stays creamy and not clumpy.

You won't need a tonne of cheese. I put in 3/4 c. the first time and wished I hadn't. It's a really creamy dish on its own from all the starch so adding the cheese is nice, but don't overdo it.

Well, that's all for today, back to real life.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

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