Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Cupcakes

Perfect for Easter: spring-colored tie dyed cupcakes with cream cheese icing.

I love cake. I love icing.

For the icing, I mixed together 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter and 8 ounces of cream cheese. I stirred in confectioners' sugar by the spoonful. I'm not sure how much - probably about a pound (1 box). I added a couple of teaspoons of vanilla.

After frosting two dozen cupcakes, I had plenty left over. I covered and refrigerated the leftover icing and plan to ice sugar cookies later this week with it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Creole Catfish Cakes with Remoulade Sauce

For dinner Sunday night I made Creole Catfish Cakes. Similar to crab cakes, only these have broiled, flaked catfish. I had only two fillets and about half a dozen leftover shrimp in the fridge, so I added that shrimp, too. I'm a gambler; fish, shrimp, it all works, right? In this case, it did.

The version I made:

2 catfish fillets, broiled
about 6 medium shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined
3 tablespoons butter
about 1/3 - 1/2 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 cups finely chopped bell pepper - Make sure the bell pepper is minced. I always forget and leave it chopped rather than minced and the pieces too big for the patties.
1/4 cups finely chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
3/4 cups fresh bread crumbs

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the flour. Stir constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, while the roux bubbles. Add the milk slowly, continuing to stir until the cream sauce is thick, 10 to 12 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and mustard, mixing well.

Flake the catfish fillets into a bowl. Add the cream sauce and the remaining ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Use the fish mixture immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Using a large spoon, make cakes with the fish mixture and coat them completely with more fresh bread crumbs. Using a heavy skillet, sauté the patties gently in 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter, until they are browned. Keep warm in a low oven while you continue cooking the cakes, adding more oil and butter as needed.

Serve with remoulade (or comeback) sauce.

Serves 2-3.

Recipe courtesy of Classic Catfish Cookbook.

Parmesan Asparagus

With the Creole Catfish Cakes we had asparagus with Parmesan cheese, a recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything cookbook.

Simply steam asparagus, which I usually do in the microwave. Put asapragus in a cold water bath to stop it from cooking, then lay in a single layer in a caserole dish. Top with a few pats of butter and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake until cheese is good and melted.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Out of Nothing at All*

A couple of weeks ago I bought a bag of peppers - one red, one yellow, one orange - at the store because they looked so pretty. And were on sale.

They had been sitting in the fridge ever since, hoping I wouldn't let them ruin and go to waste. Jeffrey and I talked about stir fry, then about stuffed peppers. He liked the idea of stuffing them and reminded me of the leftover boudin we'd grilled a couple of nights before.

So I did and I have to tell you that these peppers were really, really good. Easy, too!

I cooked about 2/3 cup rice in the rice cooker. While that was going, I chopped a piece of an onion that was in the fridge and sauteed it in olive oil. I chopped the boudin (about 3/4 pound, maybe) into small pieces and shredded some white cheddar, not sharp white for any particular reason except that's what was in the fridge already opened. There was spinach in the vegetable crisper so I tore a few leaves and mixed that in, too.

At some point, I preheated the oven to 375 degrees.

I halved the peppers and cleaned out the seeds. I set them aside in a lightly greased casserole dish.

When the rice was done, I tossed it, the sauteed onion, boudin, and most of the cheese together. I reserved about 1/3 cup of the shredded cheese.

That's when I realized I needed something tomato-ey to bind this all together. Luckily, there was a half a jar of basil tomato sauce in the fridge so I spooned out some of that along with a couple of tablespoons of red pepper pesto and mixed that all together.

I filled the peppers with the mixture and baked them for about 30 minutes. I put a few tablespoons of water in the bottom of the pan and I don't know why I did that except it seems like I'd seen a recipe for stuffed peppers where it called for doing that.

So it's not the prettiest dish -

When the peppers were done, I topped them with the remaining cheese. Easy, made from leftovers, and everyone liked it. Win, win, win.

* With apologies to Air Supply.

Have you seen that movie with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, where he's the 80s music has-been? The intro of that movie, the faux 1980s music video that's cheesy beyond befief? I think it was based on this Air Supply video. Solid gold.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Paninis at Home

Ever since I had the best sandwich ever a couple of months ago, I've been experimenting with paninis, particularly ones with grilled vegetables on nice, crispy, toasty bread. Nom nom nom nom

I've roasted eggplant and portabella in the oven, which works very well - just brush the veggies with a bit of olive oil. I've used leftover grilled asparagus. Several times I've used leftover vegetables from the vegetable fajitas at the local Mexican restaurant (It seems curious to me that they use lots of broccoli and squash in the fajitas. It's that strange or is it just me? Somehow, I would expect only peppers and onions.)

Always included is roasted red peppers and goat cheese. Something about the combination of those two, combined with heat that melts the goat cheese, surrounded by crispy yummy bread, equals magic.

Love the panini.

I don't have one of those panini presses, a grill pan on the stovetop works fine.

I just spread one slice of bread with butter while the grill pan is heating over medium heat. Fill the sandwich with veggies and use a cast iron skillet to press it all down. I cook it for 2 to 3 minutes each side.

I've typed panini so many times it doesn't look right anymore. Panini panini panini

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ravioli Stuffed with Grilled Chicken, Roasted Red Peppers, Caramelized Onion, and Goat Cheese

That is a really long recipe title. Maybe I shouldn't try to get every ingredient in the dish name.

We haven't made homemade pasta in a while. Since before we moved.

No wonder it felt like we hadn't had homemade pasta in a while; it had been a while!

I shredded chicken Jeffrey had grilled while an onion caramlized on the stove.

We mixed the chicken and oinion with goat cheese and roasted red pepper.

Then it was time to mix up the pasta.

(The pasta recipe bears a startling resemblance to the one for the tortellini.)

3 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the eggs and oil to combine.

In a small bowl, stir together flour and salt. Add the flour and process until the mixture forms a ball.

If the dough feels too sticky, add a bit more flour. The dough should be smooth, elastic, supple - not dry.

Remove the dough from the food processor and cover with plastic wrap; let rest for 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature.

Divide dough into fourths. Wrap three pieces in plastic wrap to prevent dough from drying out. Set aside at room temperature. Flatten the remaining piece in a rectangle about the samd width as the pasta machine rollers. Flour the rollers of the pasta machine!

Roll the dough through one time. Fold the rectangle into thirds and feed it through 6 to 8 more times, folding it into a rectangle each time.

Tighten the rollers of the pasta machine one notch and feed through without folding. Repeat, tightening the rollers one notch each time. Repeat the process for the remaining three pieces of dough. Along in there, you may need to dust the rollers with flour to keep the dough moving smoothly through the rollers.

Lay the dough out on the ravioli plaque and fill. Top with a sheet of pasta dough and use a rolling pin to press the pasta onto the plaque.

It makes lots of pasta.

We froze what we didn't cook so we can enjoy it another night.

Fresh pasta doesn't take long to cook - just a few minutes in a large pot of salted, boiling water.

We enjoyed ours with a jar of roasted garlic sauce, salad, and red wine.