Thursday, January 29, 2009

Caramel Cashew Bars

(They taste much better than they look in this photograph.)

Dessert for the book club, which met last night.

I love this month's read:

From Bake and Freeze Desserts by Elinor Klivans

Cashew Crust
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 1/2 cups roasted unsalted cashew halves or pieces

1/4 pound plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped white chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13" pan.

Mix the flour, brown sugar and butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low speed until pea-sized crumbs form. Press crumbs firmly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle cashews evenly over crust.

Put the butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over low-medium heat until the butter and brown sugar melt, stirring constantly. Increase heat to medium and bring to boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour hot caramel mixture evenly over cashew nuts in baking pan.

Bake until mixture bubbles, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped white chocolate evenly over the bars; let sit another 5 minutes. With the back of a spoon, swirl the chocolate over the bars. Cool thoroughly until topping is firm.

Yields 24 two-inch bars. Can freeze bars for up to 3 months.

Note: I find that way of doing white chocolate doesn't work well for me, so I put the chocolate in a zip-top bag, melt the choc. in the microwave, snip off the corner of the bag and drizzle the choc. over the bars.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mac and Cheese and Roast Chicken Sausage Meatballs Redux

We tried this recipe once before and it wasn't pretty.

We tinkered with the recipe and had a re-do. The results were much more palatable. The Child liked it, too - we'll make it again.

about 12 ounces pasta, such as penne
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
Black pepper
2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
1 egg
3/4 cup bread crumbs, plus more, if needed*
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 10-ounce package chopped frozen spinach
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg, eyeball it

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place a large pot of water on to boil for pasta. When it comes to a boil, salt it and add the pasta to cook to al dente. Strain pasta reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.

While the water is coming to a boil, in a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, salt and pepper, rosemary, fennel seeds, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano - a rounded handful, egg and bread crumbs. *If the mixture seems too wet, add a handful of bread crumbs and mix together.

Form a bunch of smallish balls, or eight largish ones.

(I haven't tried it yet but I suspect at this point, the meatballs could be frozen. You could mix up a big batch, then pull out a few for dinner with pasta.)

Coat balls in a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and lightly grease a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Arrange balls on the baking sheet and roast 17 to 18 minutes until juices run clear.

Defrost spinach in microwave.

While the meatballs roast, in a medium sauce pot over medium heat, melt butter, whisk in flour, cook 1 minute then whisk in stock and milk, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and thicken 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 cup grated Parmigiano and reduce heat on lowest setting.

Wring spinach completely dry in clean kitchen towel then separate as you add it to the sauce. Also add the reserved 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Toss pasta with the spinach-white sauce and adjust seasonings.

Serve pasta with meatballs.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Why I don't make New Year's resolutions:

A couple of weeks ago, I thought it would be a good idea to try to eat fish more often. Like once a week. And not just any fish, but tuna because it's good for you.

We always have tuna the same way. The Fiance prepares it and it is fabulous. We thought we might want to branch out and try something different, though, if we were going to eat it once a week.

Last week The Fiance marinated a tuna steak in soy sauce and sesame oil - sounds yummy, no? I love sesame. (I've GOT to try that recipe Pam left in the comments. It sounds wonderful.) He got the grill nice and hot and grilled the tuna. It took longer than we thought but was by no stretch overcooked.


The fish, it tasted, fishy.

That sounds nonsensical but I grew up eating catfish, farm-raised catfish. Grain-fed farm-raised catfish is a white fish with a mild, almost sweet taste. It can be prepared a jillion different ways. That's the kind of fish I'm used to.

The Fiance said that he, too, thought it tasted fishier than usual. Maybe it was the marinade, maybe it was the longer cooking time on a grill rather than the quick stove-top sear. Maybe it was the piece of fish.

Next time we're going to try the same marinade seared on the stove-top.

We had the wonderful shredded brussel sprout dish with it, although we used turkey bacon and substituted olive oil for part of the butter. It was good but, I have to say, not the transcendental experience the first time was.

In other news, earlier this week, we re-tried a previous just-okay recipe and the second time around it was delicious. I'll post that one soon.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Everyone Else Is Doing It

Last night we had seared tuna steaks and sautéed spinach for dinner, which was tasty and healthy. This time of year aren't we all trying to eat better, healthier?

I’m thinking we should eat tuna once a week.

I’m also thinking I’d get really tired of having tuna once a week.

Fish lovers, please send recipes, for tuna and other healthy fish, except salmon. I don’t like salmon. I wish I did.