Friday, September 21, 2007

Blogging Catch-up

I haven't been finding much time to blog lately because, among other things, I've been too busy in the kitchen. With cooler weather and less summer activities to jam in, my kitchen has been working overtime. I've mostly been trying out recipes from other websites, but I've improvised a bit, too.

My favorite recipe at the moment comes from Smitten Kitchen. It's a super easy, basic, flavorful tomato sauce. It's so easy, it doesn't even require a real recipe and can be adjusted to accommodate any number of tomatoes that you have on hand. I use about eight medium size tomatoes. They're a combo of Early Girls and Beefsteaks from the garden. Drop the tomatoes into boiling water until the skin breaks or begins to look loose (about 30 seconds). Plunge the tomatoes into ice water to stop the cooking. The skins should slide off easily. Cut out the cores. In a sauce pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil and a couple cloves of garlic until fragrant. Squeeze in the tomatoes, breaking up with your hands. Add a splash of white wine and salt and sugar to taste. Allow to simmer until thick, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing tomatoes with a fork.

The sauce is so great because it has a variety of applications. I've been using it for another Smitten Kitchen recipe, Pizza Even Sweeter. I love how simply the crust goes together and there's nothing better than fresh mozzarella and basil with the homemade sauce and crust.

I also made a baked linguine with the sauce. I combined the sauce with hot cooked linguine noodles, adding just a touch of the pasta cooking water. I put the noodles into a baking dish and topped with slices of fresh mozzarella. Next, I cooked the pasta in a 350 oven until the cheese was bubbly and just beginning to brown. A nice twist on basic spaghetti.

I also made up a batch of Syrian Pita Bread from Food & Wine magazine to use for gyros. I wasn't super happy with the results, but I think it's due to Munchkin's attempt to help. While I had my back turned making tzatziki sauce, Munchkin climbed up at the counter and decided to help roll out the pita bread. Unfortunately, the bread was already rolled out and just finishing it's final rest before the oven. Some of it even ended up on the floor. By the time I got the rounds fixed, they had been over worked and became tough.

Our friends from Mommy & Me came over for lunch earlier this week. I made Chicken Tortilla Soup. It was a slow cooker recipe from All Recipes. I love tortilla soup and was hesitant to try a new recipe, but with over 700 reviews and a four-and-a-half star rating, I didn't think I could go wrong. I assembled the soup the night before, adding a can of drained and rinsed pinto beans and using raw diced chicken. I also an extra can of chicken stock. Cooking from the fridge with the raw chicken took the full four hours on high. I was a bit worried about making sure the chicken was fully cooked, but a check with a instant read thermometer proved it safe. It was the best Tortilla Soup I've had and got rave reviews from everyone.

My next project will be canning the large batch of jalapenos from the garden. DD's grown to like my homemade pickled variety better than the store bought kind. I've been told twice this summer that I would've have been a good pioneer. Maybe, but how would I have blogged about it?

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