Monday, March 29, 2010

Gemelli with Fresh Tomatoes and Pesto

So because my last post felt so lame I thought I'd write about a recipe that I LOVE. I got this pasta dish off of "Poor Girl Gourmet" It's an absolutely delicious blog that I beg you to go check out! AND she's got her first cookbook coming out May 18th!

This recipe is fantastically fresh tasting. Super easy it's only got a handful of ingredients. Until this recipe I didn't even know gemelli pasta existed but I highly recommend using this pasta (instead of substituting a different kind in) because the shape is perfect for catching bits of pesto and tomato. I've made it both with fresh, store-bought pesto and homemade pesto and both ways turned out incredible. I love Trader Joe's Pesto if I'm pressed for time and can't make my own. And, trust me, this cheese is totally worth looking for-it provides the perfect finish of flavors for this dish!

The recipe:

1 pound gemelli pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound tomatoes, coarsely chopped and seeded***
1/2 cup basil pesto
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Bring a large pot slightly salted  water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. NOTE: You'll be using 1/2 cup of the pasta water so don't drain before reserving the liquid!!

Once you've added the pasta to the boiling water begin to heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add tomatoes and continue cooking until softened and a sauce begins to form. If your pasta isn't done at this point you'll want to remove the tomato sauce from the heat so that it doesn't get mushy.

When your pasta is done, drain (AFTER reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid) and add to tomato mixture along with 1/2 cup pasta water. Stir in the pesto and salt and pepper to taste. Top with grated cheese.

***I like to use cherry tomatoes for this recipe. They seem to have an extra little flavor that I love with the pesto. I cut them into quarters, seed them and then throw them into the food processor where I whirl them around for a few seconds and they turn out lovely!

Campfire Bundles

 Prepare to be utterly underwhelmed. Both by this recipe and by this post. This recipe is from "Taste of Home: Backyard Grilling" and I've come to the conclusion that this is just a lame cookbook. The idea is great. Pretty simple recipes (all on the grill) with lots of tips and tricks sprinkled in. Unfortunately every recipe we've tried out of it has been classified as "ok" or "decent but won't be making it again" After tonight's dinner I think I'll give up on this book and just trade it in to Bookman's.

So the dinner was, you guessed it, OK. It was polish sausage, cabbage, three kinds of peppers, onion, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes all chopped up and wrapped up in foil and thrown on the grill. The root veggies turned out perfect but the peppers were verging on mushy. One thing I did like about it was that each of the veggies flavors really stood out. It was a simple, earthy kind of meal. Meat and potatoes.  So, our ruling was "decent but won't be making it again"

Sunday, March 28, 2010

London Broil, Roasted Tomato Risotto and Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

So tonight's menu was London Broil on the grill, a Roasted Tomato Risotto and corn on the cob. (Dessert to follow) With our London Broil we grill it in one piece with a dry rub. We leave it pretty rare in the very center but because of how the meat is cut the ends always end up more on the side of medium to well-done. We love using this cut of meat for larger groups of people as it offers something for everyone.

On the side I made a Roasted Tomato Risotto. I found this recipe in one of my new favorite cookbooks: Simple Pleasures by Alfred Portale. This cookbook is AMAZING and we have loved everything we've tried so far. But more about the book later.

I've never actually made a risotto before so I was a tiny bit nervous. I know that the texture is key and if you aren't careful it can get mushy instead of creamy. Luckily this recipe had some great tips worked into the directions and our risotto turned out beautifully! I love anything that is made with all fresh ingredients so when I saw that you first had to roast the tomatoes for the recipe I got excited. White wine, chicken stock, heavy cream, fresh herbs and BACON make this dish absolutely DELICIOUS. There is only 2 ounces of slab bacon in the whole recipe but it adds such a nice depth to the flavor-you really can't leave it out and have it turn out as flavorful.

And for the dessert! Another cookbook that I'm hooked on lately is Food & Wine's Best of the Best Volume 12. These Peanut Butter Crispy Bars come from the cookbook Baked by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. These are pretty much rice crispy treats for grownups. A candied layer of rice crispy cereal, a milk chocolate/peanut butter layer and a top layer of dark chocolate makes for a super rich and delicious treat. And when I say rich, I mean RICH. These are made in an 8 x 8 pan and it's recommended to make 9 servings but I couldn't finish my whole piece...I wanted to but I stopped before I hurt myself :)

One thing that was re-enforced for me in this recipe was that your gut is sometimes just as important as the recipe. I was making the corn syrup/sugar/water mixture (to later mix with the dry cereal for the bottom level) and I had my little candy thermometer all set up and ready to go but the mixture just wasn't getting up to the temperature it was supposed to. I had a feeling I should pull it off because it LOOKED right but I decided since I'd never tried the recipe before I'd stick it out. Well, about two seconds after I finished that thought my mixture burned. In two seconds flat!!! Luckily I had enough corn syrup to make a new batch. This time I kept the candy thermometer just because but when I felt that it was time to pull it off, I pulled it off and it was perfect even though, according to the thermometer, I still had 20 degrees to go.The next two layers were super simple and as long as you use high quality chocolate they turn out amazingly creamy and delicious.

I'll definitely be making these again :)

Chip and Geri

Hello all! We are Chip and Geri Schnarr. I (Geri) will be doing most of the cooking and all of the blogging but Chip helps me out in the kitchen most nights and is truly a grill master :)

This blog came about because I've decided to go through all of my cookbooks, actually try all the dog-eared recipes and then, after a year of trying new recipes, put all of the amazing ones into one cookbook. (It's really my sneaky way of being able to get more cookbooks after a year)

We LOVE food. Well, Chip mostly loves eating the food and I love absolutely everything about food. Where it comes from, the creative process, and of course the eating! In this blog I'll be posting all of our kitchen endeavors, the results and our thoughts on the recipes. Because it would take a ridiculous amount of time I won't be typing out all the recipes but I'll let you know where I found them and if there are any that you absolutely must have I'll be happy to email it to you!

We hope you enjoy this "journey" as much as we do!