Quote from Intro:

"Anyone can cook, and most everyone should. It's a sorry sign that many people consider cooking 'from scratch' an unusual and even rare talent.
In fact, it is a simple and rewarding craft, one that anyone can learn and even succeed at from the get-go."
-Bittman, HTCE

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pasta with Red Peppers and Balsamic Vinegar (Variation)

Recipe: Pasta with Red Peppers and Balsamic Vinegar (variation of Pasta with Eggplant and Balsamic Vinegar)
Page: HTCE p. 519
Rating: **** (could be ***** keep reading!)

I must admit that I hate, loathe, despise, and abominate eggplant. However, with almost equal fervor, I thoroughly enjoy red peppers! So, I of course went for the variation with nary a second glance at the original.

It was terrific! We all (my mom, my hubby, my boys, and myself) had seconds; only my 4-year old daughter turned up her nose. I believe our buddy Mark has LARGE pasta servings in mind when he lists the number of servings; we served three kids and three adults amply with this recipe and only had a side salad with it.

I used frozen tri-colored peppers and frozen basil with farfalle. I also used Parmesan in place of feta (per Mark's suggestions). (Do we mind if I call him "Mark?" I'm feeling on a first name basis here these days.) Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly (I did omit the red pepper flakes for the tender, under-5 crowd's sake). I think this will be a definite repeat and an easy list of ingredients to keep on hand since peppers, basil, and cheese all freeze wonderfully.

I'm giving this **** but I think it could become a ***** recipe in the summer with truly fresh basil and bell peppers, especially if they're from my own garden and super fresh!

By the way, it's good at room temperature; it's one of those pasta dishes that can be finished, the rest of dinner gotten together, the table set, and then the pasta dish served. This makes it a perfect solution for those of us with toddlers who ALWAYS have to go to the bathroom or something equally urgent right when dinner's ready.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Classic Roast Turkey, with Gravy and Stuffing

Recipe: Classic Roast Turkey, with Gravy and Stuffing
Page: HTCE p. 697
Rating: ****

This is a perfect time of year to try out holiday recipes for next year: the weather is cold and dreary, and everyone wants comfort food. Also, recent holiday memories are still fresh in your mind. I thawed out my turkey (bought on sale at Thanksgiving) and decided to give Mark's version a test drive when there wasn't as much at stake as the big turkey-day itself.

I'm giving this 4 stars because it turned out a perfectly respectable roast bird and gravy. I didn't stuff the turkey, but otherwise followed his directions to the letter. My bird didn't take quite as long and the breast meat was a tad dry. But, the flavor was pretty good and this was a pretty easy method.

I have to say that the best turkey I've ever roasted was the America's Test Kitchen version (maybe showcased in Cook's Illustrated?) where they began the bird upside down so the legs would cook/brown, and then they flipped the bird halfway through. Tasty indeed, but my, oh my, what a pain to do. So, Mark gets kudos for turning out a decent roast turkey with classic flavors and minimal fuss.

A side note: the bottom veggies/giblets turn pretty dark brown which yields a dark brown gravy. If that's not your style, you might do like my grandmother and cook the turkey at a lower temp., covered, until the end and then let the bird brown some. I like the darker flavors, but it's not everyone's style.