Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

She Stuffs Shells
August 11, 2011

Sans seashore yet still simply sumptuous.

One year, maybe 1976, a well-intentioned but badly misguided bunny hid carob eggs rather than chocolate ones all around the home of a sweet-toothed little girl. The very fact that I’m telling you this now, decades later, speaks to my bitter disappointment on that Easter morning. Maybe that’s at the root of why I’m not huge on deceptive food – you know, the old “and they’ll never know it was good for them, too” routine. I don’t much care for soy or tempeh disguised as meat – tofurkey or ‘fakin’ bacon. Brown bread that looks just like white bread? People are nuts .

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m absolutely in favor of substituting some or all unhealthy ingredients or methods for good ones, but if it works and tastes great, why hide it?.  I say tout your applesauce-laden brownies! Let your baked-not-fried flag fly! And today, we’re celebrating cauliflower, spinach and whole wheat pasta. Go ahead, tell them it’s good for them. It’s splendid for them.

Makes 2 8″ x 8″ dishes, one to serve 4 and one for the freezer.
Takes about an hour, less with your mad shell stuffing skills
Preheat oven to 350°.

1 box of jumbo past shells, whole wheat if possible (box had about 38 with 4 or five broken, I used 30)
1½ – 2 cups  cauliflower (about half of a large head), divided into large florets
1½ – 2 cups spinach, finely chopped
1 300g package of ricotta (mine was full fat)
2 eggs
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
680ml tomato sauce (mine was from a tin)
500g cheddar cheese, grated
parmesan cheese, uh lots, grated

Set a huge pot of water to boil. I put the metal colander right in it and the cauliflower florets in that so I can just lift it out when they’re tender. Then salt the still boiling water and cook the shells until not quite done, drain and toss with a tiny drizzle of oil so they wont clumpify.

Mash the cauliflower, add to it the ricotta, eggs and nutmeg and blend until smooth – my immersion blender did the trick in about a minute, biceps and a whisk would do too. Now add the cheddar (ya, it’s lots) spinach and a grind or two of pepper. Filling accompli.

Use about half the tomato sauce to cover the bottoms of both baking dishes. Stuff the shells and artfully dollop with remaining sauce and sprinkle with parmesan. Toss one in the oven and the other in the freezer, covered with foil.

Bake for half an hour (45 minutes for the frozen one) and then give ’em five minutes of broiler action for gooey-ness  and crispy edges.

stoopit good

Stop with the roses and chocolates already. I know it’s just so fabulous!

Cooking For the Downhearted
April 7, 2011

The very best thing for those afflicted by grief or depression is, of course, a piece of warm melba toast (flatten bread slightly with rolling pin before toasting, or, if ironing, use your iron to compress and brown the slice of bread) with a bit of butter and a slathering of sweetened condensed milk. Yup, that’s what I said. Just try it once, with a nice cup of tea.

If more than toast is required think soft and warm. A bowl of  beef stew and a hunk of soft warmed bread or some soup therapy, like my leek and potato get well soup. Or this:

Whole Wheat Noodles with Chicken, Pine Nuts, Raisins and Rosemary and this time I added some chanterelle mushrooms. A little bit fancy pants, yes.

1) Cook a chicken, or some of its parts. I roasted one this time (375 for 70 minutes), but sometimes I just poach a couple of breasts.

See, another person writing this recipe might say “1 and 1/2 Cups Cooked chicken, shredded.” and that person would be exactly right. But I just can’t help myself. The pieces should be medium sized – either cut up or just torn with the fingers. And, if you do cook a whole chicken, just use half of it – one breast, one wing, one leg, and keep the other half for the next recipe that begins with “1 1/2 Cups Cooked Chicken”.

2) Put a big pot of water on with plenty of salt for the pasta. Fresh tagliatelli is lovely. Macaroni is a little smile. Whole wheat spaghetti will shore up the downcast. Do what you do – make lots for leftovers, I’d say.

3) Meanwhile, heat some chicken stock in a large pan. I found that with the whole wheat pasta I needed more. Start with 3 cups and you can add more at any point. I used about 5 cups and a 375g box of spaghetti which fed five with some left over.

I would just like to get a bit of business out of the way. I have a large nonstick wok with a handle and this I use every day at almost every meal. So when I say a big pan, I am referring to this. Use the thing you have which is most like it.

3b) To the warming stock add some dried mushrooms (if you’re using them) and a scant tablespoon of dried rosemary.

4) Toast a 1/2 cup of pine nuts in a small dry frying pan. Ignore everything else for the 5 minutes it will take to do this lest you burn them. Focus. Pine nuts are costly. Set aside.

5) After simmering for about 15 minutes the stock will be somewhat reduced and concentrated and the mushrooms will be soft. Add a 1/2 cup of golden raisins and the chicken and cook the pasta. When the pasta is done add it to the sauce, with either some more stock or some of the pasta water as needed. Toss it well, perhaps with a bit of chopped parsley and serve with parmasan and sympathy.

 

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Everything is Optional
March 3, 2011

I’m trying to get a cooking show to air. Cooking with Ivy. I’m a mum with a sweet idea and some pluck. This here blog is a dream factory, a testament and a testing ground (sometimes I don’t know genius from horsefeathers until i see it in bold and white). And for you it is a little glimpse into this crazy journey. And some excellent recipes to boot.

So in the midst of a slow motion food revolution, wherein good folks like Jamie Oliver are urging us back into our kitchens, I offer Cooking With Ivy. One half hour of good messy fun during which I, well, cook with Ivy. It’s sweet but not too, it’s scripted but only just. Things go charmingly wrong in our loving kitchen. Well they’d have to I guess, when a 2 year old is involved.

Oh and what a two year old she is. She’ll be three, I guess, by the time we shoot the pilot. You could catch her here: Hello Ivy.

I have my moments too. I’m just not so inclined to film them and stick them on youtube. In fact, my ambivalence about appearing on camera might be something of a theme here, as will my journey to become ‘camera ready’ (lovely phrase, that) involving pilates, a rowing machine and various other forms of torture. I’ve also gone back to school, to beef up my cooking credentials (so to speak), which should make for some good reading. For you that is.

Other likely content? Well, Ivy’s dad is likely to make a few appearances. He’s a good eater. Also the general progress of the show. To wit: I’ve written a script for the pilot episode. I have a willing crew in place to shoot it but not the ten grand it’s going to cost, so I’m working on that. I have some kind souls offering experience and connections. In other words, it’s moving along swimmingly (but it’s doing the crawl).

A note on the recipes in this blog: I want to share all this great food with you; pictures and videos and instructions and ideas, but strict recipes? Not so much. My amounts are hazy and my substitutions so many I cannot list them all. It would be all “use this or this or this with this or this or that” all day long. Really, each dish should be prefaced with:

Well, this dish sure worked out great! Let me show you what I did. But for goodness sake, please do it however you like. Just remember: everything is Optional and everything To Taste at all times.

Ivy (2 1/2) & Michele (somewhat older)

 

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