Friday, July 13, 2012

Pasta Primavera Herb Flop

Sometimes I cook something that's just not that great. This is one of those dishes. However, I think the problem was really in the herbs. Herbs can impart so much flavor, but if you add the wrong ones, it ruins everything. So I think this is still a recipe worth sharing, but I also think that if you want to cook this, you should change the herbs. Basil or parsley would be wonderful. Stay away from chives and especially peppermint.
They are pretty, though aren’t they? These are herbs from our old garden in Indiana. I also used those huge asparagus from the Main Street farmer’s market in downtown Lafayette.
This is an America's Test Kitchen recipe, so it's heavy on the measurement and precision. Of course, I am not nearly this precise in my execution, so I made a few edits. I cook with what I’ve got on hand, and I didn’t have any white wine (drank it all) or vegetable stock (never buy it). So instead I used a bubbly from New York and homemade chicken stock. I refuse to believe these things could have possibly made the dish taste worse.
I was very excited about cooking the pasta using a method typically reserved for risotto. It gave the dish a wonderful creaminess without any added fats or dairy.

Overall, it tasted pretty good. The texture was lovely, and the veggies tasted fresh, but really, I don’t know why mint was ever a recommendation for an herb to add here. Keep your mint for tzatziki and mojitos.

Pasta Primavera (adapted from America's test kitchen)
3 large leeks
1 lb asparagus (1 bunch)
2 cups frozen peas, divided
4 gloves garlic, 2 crushed, 2 minced.
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup champagne
1 lb campanelle pasta
½ cup grated parmesan
Olive oil
Herbs of your choice

Prepare vegetables, but keep all the trimmings:
Cut off dark green parts of leeks.
Cut off bottom portion of asparagus.
Chop up and rinse trimmings.
In medium saucepan, combine stock and 1 cup of water. Add vegetable trimmings, two crushed garlic cloves, and 1 cup of frozen peas. Cook on medium, with lid on pot for 10 minutes until trimmings have flavored the stock. Strain veggies and put liquid back in pot and keep warm with lid on and at low heat.

Prepare the rest of the vegetables:
Cut up leeks and rinse.
Rinse the asparagus, and cut on the bias.
In large dutch oven, with olive oil, cook leeks over medium heat with lid on until they have wilted.
Stir regularly as to not let vegetables burn.
Add the asparagus, and cook until tender.
Add minced garlic and 1 cup of frozen peas. Cook until heated through and fragrant.
Remove vegetables from pot and set aside.

Cook up the pasta and sauce:
In dutch oven, over medium heat with olive oil, and add dry pasta and toast. (Just like you would risotto) Cook for about 5 minutes, until pasta is toasted, and brown in some spots.
Add champagne (or wine), and stir until absorbed by pasta. (Again, just like risotto).
Add broth that you’ve been keeping warm. Let the pasta cook for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. If you noticed that the pasta is getting dry, feel free to add more water.

Take pot off heat, add cheese, and combine. Add the cooked vegetables, and around 2 tablespoons of your favorite herbs.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Catch Up

I've been too busy to post what food I've been cooking because I moved to Missouri! But I have pictures of what I've been up to since May. So here are some of my adventures.

First, I want to give a huge (but delayed) congratulations to my very clever and very hard working husband for getting his PhD. WAY TO GO, NICK!!

Second, here is my haul from the first farmer's market of the year in Lafayette, IN. I got skinny asparagus and fat asparagus for different purposes. I picked up a couple bunches of baby kale, and very skinny little leeks. The picture shows the farmer's market variety next to standard grocery store leeks. I'm a sucker for miniatures. I also bought a pretty pink bunch of rhubarb, and some tarragon.

 First haul of the season

Asparagus, big and small

Baby Kale

Leeks: big and small

Third, I wanted to do some baking. I had some old, not so great looking strawberries and my local rhubarb. So I wanted to make some tiny galettes. This recipe originated in Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce. Smitten Kitchen also tweaked this recipe to her liking. I think my recipe might be somewhere in the middle.

I used my farmer's market rhubarb, and leftover strawberries to make a kind of jam or compote.

Pie-bound rhubarb
Making compote

The crust is a real hybrid with some of my favorite grains including organic, whole wheat pastry flour and stone ground organic corn meal, both of which were purchased at the farmer's market stand from City Foods. It's very convenient because you can make the whole crust right in the food processor.

Making Crust

Final mini pie

The galettes can be made free form, or you can make them in a muffin tin.

Fruit compote
1 lb. of rhubarb
1/2 qt. strawberries (ugly ones are OK)
1/2 cup natural sugar (like sugar-in-the-raw)

Cut up fruit, put it in a pot over low flame.
Add sugar, mix it in.
Let it cook till it breaks down a bit, around 30 minutes.

Crust & Galettes
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup stone ground corn meal (it's got a more flour like consistency then regular corn meal)
1/4 cup sugar (I used the natural/in-the-raw kind)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 stick butter, cut into pieces and chilled
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp heavy cream

Put everything into food processor, and blend until it starts to stick into a ball.
Put out onto counter, and gather into a ball.
Divide into 10 parts. Either roll out into circles, or pat down in muffin tin cups.
Fill crusts with 3 Tbsps of compote.

At this point, you can freeze the tarts and bake them when you want them.

To bake
Preheat oven to 375 F
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, straight from the freezer.


Strawberry-Rhubarb Rustic Tartelette