Wednesday, April 30, 2014

And here we are breaking that fourth wall again

So awhile back we had mentioned about some changes that we had wanted to implement on the blog. Well, to be blunt, it will be awhile (though we still plan on doing them!).

A different change is taking place here in our family - our little guy is going to be a big brother in November! We are excited (and terrified!) but it also means that I haven't been cooking.  Like anything.  Yay morning sickness!

So we are still muddling along here until the morning sickness phase passes and I can get back into the world of food again.  That stupid fourth wall can be so hard to break sometimes, but we wanted to let everyone know that we haven't forgotten about the blog, and we'll be back full steam in a couple months!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cheesy Garlicky Swiss Chard Cauliflower Pasta

Most of the time, the blue is idolized.  Cerulean vistas, with the sunny inviting skies and the azure of the water... these are the images that are perpetuated, sought, and captured.

There is much beauty to be found in the gray, though.  The gray clouds and the gray ocean.  Peaceful.  No swarm of handsome and proud pelicans diving for food.  No whales or dolphins.  Just some seagulls nattering about.

The days when the clouds take on a metallic gray hue and fill up the sky with their immensity, leaving little room for the sun to poke through... but not none.  Those days when the ocean looks a bit blue grey as a result, looking not like a postcard to be purchased and consumed in its state of supposed perfection, but instead, an entity.  An entity to be reckoned with, to be grappled with, and, as is part and parcel to living beings, contains feelings and secrets and mysteries all hidden within. The kind of day that isn't so filled with sun that your eyes have to squint to take it all in. They can be wide open.

Too much sun. Too much blue. My preferences lie with the darkness and the stars and the moon - the little points of light as opposed to to the glare of the sun.

Those not so perfect days.  That is where the delicious lies.  Take this pasta, for instance.  Some garlic and red pepper flakes intersect, interrupting the happy and cheesy expanse of the pasta, breaking up the monotony of the cheese with spicy bites of red pepper and sauteed garlic.

The roasted cauliflower basically melts right into the dish.  The chard is a not too bitter, but still bracing counterpoint to the cheesiness.  I wouldn't exactly call this quick, but it is easy.  I actually like to break up the prep.  Roast the cauliflower and wilt the chard or kale or whichever greens happen to be residing in the crisper drawer.  Then finish the rest at a convenient time.  This isn't a bright a shiny mac and cheese.  More of a brooding one.  Which is just my style.

Love Swiss chard in all its leafy glory?  Cooking Light has some Swiss chard recipes here!

1 head cauliflower
canola oil
drizzle of lemon juice
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
sprinkle of garlic powder
sprinkle of smoked paprika

3/4 pound of pasta (I like using a short kind here, like penne or farfalle)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped, tough stems removed
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 - 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan

Heat oven to 425. Chop the cauliflower into florets. Place in a bowl and pour oil, lemon juice, and seasonings, using tongs to coat. Roast for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in saute pan, heat oil over medium low. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute for about 30 seconds, until wonderfully fragrant. Add the chard and wilt. Add the roasted cauliflower. Pour in cream and broth.  Turn up the heat a bit and bring to a gentle boil to thicken the liquid.  Stir in the cheeses.  Toss the vegetables and sauce with the cooked noodles.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Trio of Butters for King Crab Legs

As we drove through the Anza-Borrego desert, we were greeted by mountains jutting up from the earth.

These weren't the mountains I was used to seeing, blanketed in green and (sometimes) white from trees and snow.

These were bare, barren, exposed - its rocky innards just laying there in plain sight.   It was as though the earth had used all the force it could muster to push itself up and out into the sky in this hot, parched landscape and was unable to cover up.  No dermis of of greenery to be laid gently over it.

At first it was jarring to see, but it became beautifully defiant, challenging each person passing by to take the scene as it is.  So boldly, so proudly standing there with nothing to hide behind.

These crab legs are quite the opposite of those brown, rocky mountains. Instead of being all out in the open, one must work at getting the inside free.  Cracking open those shells to extract that sweet meat waiting patiently for release.

To celebrate the release of the meat, we made a trio of butters for dipping.  Why three?  Well, variety is the spice of life, as they say. One is a miso butter all salt and earthy.  Another is a brown butter one, infused with ginger and notes of lemon.  The third is a grapefruit one, accented with tangy yogurt and and the sweet anise taste of tarragon.  Each bite of crab to be excavated out of its protective shell and dipped into one of the butters.  Unlike the wide open California desert, the crab keeps its essence hidden away.  It takes effort to get at, but it's definitely worth it.

King crab legs, cooked
lemon wedges, optional for serving

Miso Butter:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon miso (we used hacho miso)

Gingery Brown Butter:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grated ginger, divided
3 1/2 teaspoons meyer lemon juice
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon grated ginger

Tarragon and Grapefruit Butter:
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 teaspoon grapefruit zest
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
kosher salt, to taste

Miso Butter: Over low heat, gently melt butter with miso.  Use a fork to work the miso into the butter.  Remove from heat once melted.

Gingery Brown Butter: In large saute pan, add butter and 1 tablespoon ginger. Melt then allow the butter brown, about 5-7 minutes total. You will see brown specks that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Be careful to not burn the butter.  Once browned, stir in the Meyer lemon juice, salt, agave nectar, and the remaining ginger.

Tarragon and Grapefruit Butter: Melt the butter gently over medium low heat, then stir in the remaining ingredients.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
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