The Spoils of Packing…

May 25th, 2008

Last week, as part of my sister’s graduation weekend of celebration and fun, we also had the unfortunate but necessary duty to move her out of her apartment. So, all of last Monday, we sorted, boxed, threw out and packed the last four years of her life.

At one point, my sister asked me to go through the pantry and throw out her leftover food. I cringed at the thought but unfortunately, it didn’t make sense to ship it all back home. Well, when I opened it up to see boxes and boxes of unopened rice pilaf, couscous and pasta, there was no way that I was going to let it all go to waste. I grabbed an old Victoria Secret shopping bag and went shopping.

She even had a couple cans of Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip icing! I am definitely a baking purist but a Funfetti cupcake with Rainbow Chip icing is my favorite half-birthday treat. This past February, I discovered that you can not find Rainbow Chip icing anywhere around here. But up in Boston, my sister was squandering two whole cans! My roommates were very excited to see me come home with this loot. I somehow miraculously managed to squeeze it all into my suitcase. I also nabbed a pair of her “old” jeans and they look absolutely awesome on me!

This dish, I came up with last night when I was looking over my spoils and what was about to spoil in the fridge. I do not normally buy anything that has a flavor packet because I enjoy making my own. This couscous had real pine nuts in the flavor packet so I thought I would try it. Turned out really well for a quick dinner!

Couscous with Mushroom, Spinach, and Goat Cheese

1 box of Pine Nut of Couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups sliced Mushrooms
2 cups Spinach
1 cup Goat Cheese

1. Prepare the Couscous as directed.
2. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil.
3. Saute the Mushrooms and Spinach. Cover with a lid for about 5 minutes to wilt the spinach.
4. Stir the cooked mushrooms and spinach into the couscous. Crumble the goat cheese into the mixture.

P.S. Next time, I think I would add some sundried tomatoes and more pine nuts to jazz up the couscous a little more.

Taste and Create Part 1: Rocket Mousselines!

May 22nd, 2008

Don’t you just hate it when real life gets in way of your blogging? This past week has been very hectic and busy…I have barely had a chance to read a few blogs here and there let alone do something for my own.

Last weekend, my sister graduated from college. I met my family in Boston for a long weekend of eating, drinking, and some more eating. It was a really fun weekend but when I got back late Monday evening, I was exhausted and sick of eating so many large meals. I decided to take a couple more days off. Tonight, I finally found my desire to cook again and just in time for the event Taste and Create IV. This month I was paired with Veronica of La Recette du Jour. My job was to look over this beautiful blog, pick some recipes to try and report back. After much reading and deliberating, I decided upon two…the Rocket Mousselines and Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

When I was living in Rome, my friends and I would see Rocket on the menu but, showing our American ignorance, had no idea what it was. Eventually, we ordered some pizza with Rocket and discovered that Rocket is Arugula!

I really liked this recipe because it seemed like a perfect light dinner. I struggled a little bit with converting the gram measurements (I really do need to invest in a scale) but I think it turned out great. Also, I halved the recipe and it made two ramekins. I took Veronica’s suggestion pairing it with a salad and drizzled with a lemon vinaigrette. Delicious! Exactly what I was craving!

Check out La Racette du Jour‘s recipe for Rocket Mousselines

Arugula Mousselines

1 cup arugula leaves
1/2 cup soft cheese such as ricotta or goat’s cheese
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 egg
1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan
fresh basil (about 6 large leaves)
salt, pepper, nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 320 F.
2. Bring a pan of water to the boil and have ready a bowl of iced water.
3. Throw the rocket into the boiling water, blanch for 30 seconds, drain, and immediately tip into the bowl of iced water.
4. Food process the eggs, cream, and cheese with the seasonings.
5. Squeeze out the rocket, add to the liquidizer with the basil and parmesan, and mix again.
6. Pour the mixture into buttered muffin tins or ramekins and bake for 25-30 minutes until set.
7. Turn out onto plates and serve warm.

P.S. Check out my post on Saturday for Veronica’s Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

An Ode to Joy!

April 17th, 2008

Growing up, our kitchen held two main reference cookbooks: the Betty Crocker Cookbook and the Joy of Cooking. My mother’s Betty Crocker is falling apart. The cover is completely ripped off but it still precariously rests on top of the tattered and food stained pages struggling to keep the book together. My mother has inserted many other recipes through the years among the pages. I love this book because it represents the history of my mother’s cooking. One year for Christmas, my mother gave me a copy in order to begin my own cookbook collection. It is an excellent cookbook for a budding chef. It has good recipes, great tips and beautiful pictures!!!

On the other hand, I never liked the Joy of Cooking when I was younger. It was long, boring and had no pictures! Often, I would ask my mother a cooking question and she would point me in the direction of the Joy of Cooking. I would scowl looking at the distasteful book. I just never understood the point of having a cookbook without pictures. But the Joy of Cooking almost always had the answer to my cooking questions. Slowly, this book grew on me until it has become my favorite cookbook. If you have never picked it up, I highly recommend it. It is written in a way that really helps you learn how to cook. The recipes show you how the ingredients fit together to create the dish and thus, at least for me, help me go off the recipe fairly easily. My quiches are often like this. I make up a new one every time depending on what we have in the fridge. With the Joy of Cooking by my side, I often pull off a very inventive and delicious dish. Tonight, I created a Goat Cheese-Balsamic Caramelized Onions- Artichoke Hearts Quiche. It turned out really well and both of my roommates gave their stamp of approval.

Goat Cheese-Balsamic Caramelized Onions-Artichoke Hearts Quiche
(adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

1 prepared crust (I often cheat on weekdays and buy a store bought crust…saves me time!)
1 6 oz. log of goat cheese
1 7 oz. (or close to it) marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
Balsamic Caramelized Onions (see my previous post)
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup whipped cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Crumble the goat cheese on the bottom of the crust.
3. Whisk the eggs, milk and whipped cream together until well mixed.
4. Stir in onions and artichoke hearts.
5. Mix in salt and pepper.
6. Pour in prepared crust.
7. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

P.S. Do not forget to enter my Dollar Dish Duel!!!! More details here.