Monday, January 27, 2014

Roasted Green Beans

One of the great discoveries in the fitness and "healthy cooking" era is ROASTING--roasting vegetables instead of boiling all the flavor right out of them. Roasting concentrates the unique taste of whatever vegetable you are using. It is perhaps the easiest of cooking techniques a budding college chef can acquire.

As an intro to this technique, I found a simple sidedish to make out of Tyler Florence's Family Meal cookbook: Parmesan-Roasted Green Beans.

Rimmed baking sheet

1-2 lbs green beans, ends removed
1 cup Parmesan, grated
Salt & pepper
1-2 tsp butter, melted (optional)
Lemon juice (optional)

1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
3. Remove ends of beans.

4. Arrange beans on baking sheet.
5. Sprinkle with grated cheese.

6. Roast x 10-12 minutes until cheese melts and is golden brown.

7. Serve on a platter with salt, pepper.

8. Drizzle a little butter and lemon as a final touch or keep it healthy all the way.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Creamy Cucumber Salad

Sides and salads can be challenging in the sense of keeping them fresh, new, and interesting. We get stuck in what is quick and familiar. But I'd encourage you to begin this year with a resolution to not only cook more, but also, branch out and try new flavors, new cuisines and new recipes with new ingredients!

Check out this Creamy Cucumber-Dill Salad and add it to tonight's dinner like The Chicken Souvlaki Skewers or Asian Flank Steak or plain ol' hamburgers! This is a great addition and tasty alternative to same old salad!

(Adapted from Cook's Illustrated The Science of Good Cooking)

Mixing Bowl
Cutting Board

3 cucumbers, peeled, halved, and seeded
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
1 Tbls salt
1 cup sour cream
3 Tbls Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/8-1/4 cup fresh minced dill

1. Wash your hands.
2. Peel your cucumbers and slice lengthwise in half.

3. Use a spoon-tip to remove the seeds.
4. Slice the cucumber into 1/4" slices

5. Add the cucumber slices and thinly sliced onion to a colander.

6. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for at least 1hr, max 3 hrs. Rinse with cold water and pat dry.

7. Combine sour cream, vinegar, sugar, and dill in medium mixing bowl.

8. Add the cucumber / red onion mixture. Stir until combined.

9. That's it! Get a fork.
10. Easily made ahead a chilled in the fridge while you make the rest of dinner.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Now that you have learned how to make an incredible Simplest Marinara Sauce it's time to add the meatballs! And this recipe is super easy for any level of college cooking. So, let's get started.

You remember I featured The Meatball Minis  a few months ago as a option for sliders.  That recipe was adapted from Ted Allen whereas this one is from Cooking Light's Comfort Food Magazine's Spaghetti & Meatballs.  Both are easy, it's just a matter of which flavor you like better! I like a 50% ground pork and 50% ground beef mixture for my meat! You decide!!

9" x 13" x 2" Pyrex dish
Mixing Bowls
Super clean hands
Large saucepan to boil pasta
Large skillet to heat the Simple Marinara Sauce or your favorite store-bought pasta sauce

Olive oil
1 lb ground sirloin (90% lean)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup of panko or Italian breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup romano or parmesan cheese (grated), or ricotta
*if you have some favorite herbs, add a few sprinkles here, i.e. thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram

1. Wash your hands frequently.
2. Preheat oven to 450F degrees.
3. Lightly oil your oven-proof Pyrex dish.

4. Combine your meat, garlic, salt, breadcrumbs, egg, red pepper flakes, and cheese.

5. Using your hands mash the mixture together until just combined.

6. Dampen your hands and roll mixture into 1" or  2" balls.

7. Place meatballs into pyrex dish in single-layer, just touching.

8. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes depending on the size of the meatballs, until just done.

9. Start boiling your pasta and heating the marinara sauce.

10. Add the meatballs to the marinara sauce to finish cooking.

11. Plate the whole 'shebang' once the pasta is drained!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Simplest Marinara Sauce By Batali

With the weekend coming up, I thought it was time to go back to a few basic skills that entail 'simmering'. I know that as a college student there are nights when spaghetti sauce has to be picked up from the grocery store; and, indeed, some of the store-bought brands are excellent! (Rao's and Mario Batali's are some of my favorites, no doubt.)

But, there is something to be said when you make your own--the apartment smells awesome and fresh marinara sauce that's been simmering for the last hour is hard to beat.  It really is, especially this recipe from Mario Batali's Cookbook 'Molto Italiano'.  This is his 'Basic Tomato Sauce', a staple for many of his recipes.

The best part about this recipe is it's dual purpose--Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce, or, Spaghetti & Meatballs--recipe will be posted this weekend.

5 quart sauce pan or Dutch oven
Cutting Board
Wooden spoon
Blender (i.e. Magic or Nutribullet)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium Spanish / Yellow onion, chopped & diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium carrot, shredded
1 tsp dried thyme (or, ideally, 3 Tbls fresh thyme)
2 (28oz) cans whole tomatoes (or if need be, use pureed from a good brand)

1. Wash Your Hands.
2. Chop and prep all of your veggies.

3. Heat the olive oil in the saucepan on MEDIUM heat.

4. Add the onions and garlic. Cook until onions translucent and slightly golden. Approx 8-10 minutes.

5. Add carrots and thyme. Cook another 5 minutes.

6. Add your tomatoes.  Simmer x 30 minutes on low heat until consistency similar to hot cereal.

7. Season with salt & pepper.
8. Use a protein blender, or hand-held immersion blender, to puree the mixture if using whole tomatoes.

9. Have your pasta waiting with a side of parmesan cheese ready for sprinkling.

10. Remember to keep it simple this year! Keep it real!