Run, Cook, Eat!

Baked Rhubarb Update
May 25, 2009, 10:01 pm
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After yesterday’s post, I did more tinkering with the rhubarb. I decided to add 2-3 ts of balsamic vinegar, which definitely brought some more interest to it.

Out of pure laziness, I dumped all the rhubarb and syrup into the pan to heat it, and thus cooked the rhubarb into a fairly structureless shape. Which was just fine!

To serve, I heated the rhubarb and topped the ricotta with it, and sprinkled toasted almonds on top. In the end, cooking group liked it, and I was reasonably happy with it. Yay for things turning out in the end.


Baked Rhubarb with Fresh Ricotta
May 24, 2009, 11:10 am
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Cooking group tonight is based on an odd set of seasonal food guidelines and limitations, so I decided to futz around with homemade ricotta, cherries, rhubarb, toasted almonds, and balsamic vinegar. The cherry experiment (made up from my head) was far too sweet, so I found a few recipes for rhubarb on Orangette’s blog and gave this one a go.

Right now I’m only marginally happy with the results. The rhubarb cooked just fine, but the sauce never became syrupy, despite nearly an hour of boiling. I sampled it with my homemade ricotta this morning, and the sauce was really watery. I drizzled a bit of balsamic over it, which tasted good. I may attempt to re-boil the juices plus some balsamic later today. I just REALLY hope it doesn’t ruin the sauce, as I don’t have time to cook again before tonight’s dinner.

Side note – this recipe finally gave me the momentum to buy a microplane zester. Yay!

Verdict: probably don’t make again if needing a syrupy sauce. Although the rhubarb itself came out well. Next time, I will try the rhubarb compote instead.

More Bittman: Baked Macaroni and Cheese
May 24, 2009, 10:33 am
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It was a VERY cold night in San Francisco yesterday, so I decided to make macaroni and cheese, despite having lots of veggies in the fridge waiting to be used. For expediency plus a desire to perfect the particular recipe, I used Mark Bittman’s recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

I’ve made this recipe several times, but never quite to the consistency I would have liked. I suspect in the past, I’d hurried the adding-milk-to-butter/flour step, so this time I was extra careful to add the milk very slooooowly. Whisking it in with the flour was a bit weird and scary, since it absorbed then contracted and splattered and did unexpected things. In the end, I ended up with a very smooth, well mixed sauce.

The sauce looked great going into the pasta and after it was mixed, but it didn’t retain that same smooth gooeyness and creaminess after its time in the oven. Things were tasty, but it just wasn’t as creamy as some restaurant macaroni and cheese dishes.

I cut up two kinds of breadcrumbs, because it’s what I had left over: Acme Herb Slab and another Acme bread that was wheat and much more crusty, almost like batard. The herb slab crumbs didn’t work very well at all, as they never reached the level of crunchiness needed to make the dish satisfying.

Verdict: make again, as it’s a great fallback recipe. (Although more time consuming than the 45 minutes indicate.) But start to branch out and find new mac n cheese recipes as well.

Fresh Cheese (Ricotta), The Easy Way
May 24, 2009, 9:36 am
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Yesterday I made homemade ricotta, using Mark Bittman’s recipe in How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. I’ve made this a few times, in addition to dabbling with another fresh cheese recipe from the internet. This one uses buttermilk as the curdling agent, and the other unsuccessful recipe used lemon juice, so I’ve returned to the trusty Bittman book. I want to experiment with lemon juice, and other kinds of milk as well.

But for now, the Bittman recipe works like a charm. I made a few changes this time – I waited until it was a lot less “curdled”, ie less firm lumps/separation of the curds and whey, and I strained it for only 10 minutes. This resulted in less cheese, but a more tender ricotta-like cheese. I’ll probably continue to play with these variables in the future.

Verdict: Make again! Tasty and easy. But it will be worth it to try new recipes as well

Sauteed Dandelion Greens
May 22, 2009, 4:10 am
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I got a bunch of dandelion greens in this week’s CSA box, so I decided to try them. One word: DON’T. They are very unpleasantly bitter. Thus says the girl who drinks coffee black and loves dark roasts only.

I used this recipe from Epicurious, cut in half. I added a bit of butter, thinking it would help the flavor, but no, it just got greasier. I also tried adding faux bacon bits…no dice. Even sriracha couldn’t save them. Gross.

I really hope I don’t get these in the CSA box again. If so, I may try one blogger’s tip and cook them with something sweet, like raisins or currants to counteract the bitter bite.

Verdict: NEVER make again. Possibly never use dandelion greens again as well.

(Side note: only good part of the meal: Field Roast Company’s faux apple sage sausage. These are pretty good.)

Tomato Ricotta Basil Pasta
May 21, 2009, 4:09 am
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Now THIS is one of my favorite recipes ever. And it’s oh-so-easy! Very fresh and summery.

1 box orecchiette
~1 c ricotta
4 ripe tomatoes
Garlic to taste (raw)
Large amounts of fresh basil
6 tbs olive oil
Salt & pepper
Parmesan (to top, optional)

Marinate the tomatoes, garlic, basil, oil, salt, and pepper, for 15 minutes. Add ricotta, and let marinate while boiling water for the pasta. Cook pasta, let sit for 15 min, mix, eat! It’s great lukewarm or chilled.

I had enough homemade ricotta left over from last weekend to make a half batch of this. I also had green garlic from the farmer’s market, which I subbed for the regular garlic. I probably would NOT use green garlic again, as it was a bit chewier than expected (late season?).

Verdict: make again! It’s one of my favorite dishes.

Ginger Poached Noodles
May 19, 2009, 10:51 pm
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Dinner on Sunday was Ginger Poached Noodles, from 101 Cookbooks. Slight variations to the recipe – I used spinach chow mein, and added both asparagus and green onions, since it’s what we had in the fridge.

Overall, quite tasty – light, but heavy enough to make me feel satisfied. I used 2 tbs of soy sauce, which I would lessen next time. I also liked the tiny-bit-of-broth as sauce, which I found satisfying without being too souplike. “Infusing” the broth and noodles with the ginger like that was a big hit for J, and he even ate much of the thinly sliced ginger.

This made enough food for a small dinner for two plus one lunch.

Verdict: make again!