August 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
I’m not sure why this didn’t publish yesterday; it was supposed to. Bad blog! No cookies! Oh, wait — yes, there will be cookies soon.
Way back last month when I was in New Hampshire, I had the opportunity to go to out dinner with my good friend Sarah. We went to a lovely little Italian restaurant, where we were immediately marked as a lesbian couple who must be quickly fed and then hustled out of the restaurant. We had some fun with that, I can tell you. But I digress. One of the specials was a Caprese salad, which I had never heard of but which apparently consists of tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella. Sarah got one for herself, and a couple of weeks later when the heat got super-oppressive, I remembered how cool and fresh that salad sounded, and I determined to make one for myself. I’d been having a yen for pasta salad, too, though…so I thought why not combine the two?
I grabbed some whole wheat penne, because I like the nuttiness of whole wheat pasta, and I thought it would be a good, earthy undertone with the basil and tomatoes. I tossed it together with some fresh mozz, some grape tomatoes, and some fresh basil (it’s a variety called Opal Basil, which is why it’s purple and not green), then dressed it with a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. The result? Well, to be honest…it was too fresh. I know, it sounds insane. But it was just really, too fresh. It needed something earthy (more than the pasta) to balance the intense brightness of the flavors, I think. Maybe a creamy yogurt dressing instead of the vinegar and oil. It was good, just not spectacular. I’m going to try it again with the creamy dressing and see how that works out for me. So hopefully I’ll have a good recipe for you out of this experiment soon.
August 24, 2011 § 4 Comments
And my waistline, but so, so worth it. I came across this thing called Taste & Create a few months ago, where people make food from each other’s blogs (you sign up and get assigned a partner each month — it’s very cool). I decided to participate for the first time this month, and my partner was Always Eat On the Good China. The hardest part was choosing a recipe to make (and I’m totally going to make more of them — she has some really nommy sounding stuff!) but I finally settled on the Chicken Puffs. Chicken, bacon, cheese, puff pastry…what could possibly go wrong? Nothing, in this case. They were amazing.
I did modify the recipe a little to use what I had on hand (for example, I used goat cheese instead of cream cheese), and since I’m not a huge fan of plain chicken, I also decided to play around with marinades* and tried something new: OJ and balsamic vinegar. Yeah, that’s a keeper (1c. OJ + 1 Tbsp BV to cover about 1.5lbs of cubed chicken). She mentions in her post about the recipe that although the pic shows a whole chicken breast, she now cuts it into bite size chunks, so I went that way with it. And I didn’t mix anything up for the cream cheese mixture — I just threw a bunch of goat cheese on top and then topped it with some fresh basil, because I am lazy. Oh! Also instead of spraying my cookie sheet I just lined it with parchment paper which works beautifully for keeping stuff from sticking. And I didn’t brush with the egg wash, but that was just because I totally forgot to do it. Seemed to come out fine, but they would’ve been a little crispier with the wash.
So, modifications I’ll probably make next time I make this (because there will be a next time): First off, I think I’m going to try it as a pot-pie kind of thing…the puff pastry-to-filling ratio is just really high. Now, it’s puff pastry, so it’s not like my tastebuds are complaining, but I think it will be just as tasty topped with the puff instead of surrounded by it. Second — you might want to sit down for this one — I’m going to leave the bacon out. I just really didn’t feel like it added much to the flavor experience in this case. Weird, I know, but there you are. I also will probably try different marinade/cheese combos — I think this would be great with something spicy on the chicken and cheddar cheese, for instance. And there you have it…my first Taste & Create. This was tons of fun — I’m totally going to do it again next month!
*A note on using a marinade on something you’re going to wrap in puff pastry and bake: you need to dry it out before you put it in the pastry. Throw it in a saute pan and brown it — you’ve got lots of sugar in this marinade, so even let it caramelize a bit. You don’t need to worry so much about it being cooked through — the baking in the oven part will take care of that. And it won’t get too dry b/c you’ve added all that moisture to it.
May 3, 2011 § Leave a comment
I wasn’t super hungry for lunch today, so I grabbed a couple of pieces of homemade bread, spread a little (okay, a lot) of goat cheese on each slice, popped them in the toaster oven for a few minutes and then sprinkled them with basil. This is one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten — definitely a keeper! And on smaller slices it’d be a great snack, too.