Archive | January, 2011

lazy pasta with onion, bacon and goat cheese

24 Jan

It was my turn to cook dinner for the weekly girls’ Bachelor viewing party at C’s place. All I had in the fridge was a handful of vegetables, goat cheese, plus a few strips of really amazing brown sugar apple wood bacon from the Fatted Calf.

Like the lazy cook I am, I typed in “bacon goat cheese pasta recipe” into Google and voila! Martha Stewart to the rescue. I modified the recipe to make use of some brussel sprouts and tomatoes, but otherwise stuck to Martha’s instructions.

It looked a bit of a mess, but the flavor combination was surprisingly delicious — so much so that I just had to take a photo (the day after, hence the wilted mess). You could mix this up with other vegetables like zucchini or mushrooms — the bacon, goat cheese and onions are the bare essentials. Possibly the best lazy recipe I’ve ever made!

pasta with onion, bacon, and goat cheese
a lazy clean-out-the-fridge kinda dish

* 1 pound campanelle (I used rigatoni)
* 6 slices bacon, sliced crosswise 1-inch thick
* 10 brussel sprouts, leaves peeled apart
* 1 small tomato, diced
* 4 medium red onions, thinly sliced
* 2 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 4 ounces soft goat cheese

Cook pasta. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta water; return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in large skillet over medium, turning, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes; remove to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Reserve half of the bacon fat to use later. Add brussel sprout leaves and tomatoes to remaining fat in skillet. Saute 5 minutes to soften. Remove from pan.

Pour reserved fat into skillet and add onions, garlic, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cover; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Uncover; cook until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes more.

Crumble goat cheese over pasta; add onion mixture, zucchini and 1 cup reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Toss, adding more pasta water as desired. Serve immediately, sprinkled with bacon and more thyme. Serves 6.

alice waters’ beef stew

24 Jan

You’d never know, but just a couple weeks ago, it was freezing in SF. I’m talking 40’s by day and sub-30’s by night! Of course today, it’s mid-60’s and sunshine full-blast. I took to the pavement in a t-shirt and new running shoes trying to work off some holiday el bees.

Case and point, I had recently been feeding my hibernation bear belly with Alice Waters’ Beef Stew. It’s the real deal from The Art of Simple Food cookbook — a great primer for anyone who’s interested in learning the basics.

Waters’ recipe for beef stew is really a classic beef bourguignon with a nod to the garden. It’s thick, rich and hearty with satisfying hunks of fork-tender beef and just a hint of vegetables. I loved the flavors of mulling spice imparted by cloves that cleverly are embedded into the onions quarters, plus the zip of orange zest. I used a nice cut of marbled flatiron steak aka top blade chuck, which softened up in closer to two hours than three. For wine, I used a Trader Joes fave, a dry Italian red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Montepulciano, called Tentatre Rosso for ~$7. Is your bear belly grumbling yet?

beef stew
adapted from Alice Waters

* 3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1.5-inch cubes, seasoned with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper (a day ahead if possible)
* 3 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 2 tablespoons oil
* 2 carrots, chopped into 2-inch chunks
* 2 stalks of celery, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
* 2 medium onions, quartered
* 2 whole cloves, stuck into a quarter of onion
* 2 sprigs each of thyme, parsley, and savory
* 1 bay leaf
* a few peppercorns
* 3 tablespoons brandy (optional)
* 1 3/4 cups red wine
* 3 tomatoes, diced (fresh or canned)
* a small head of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
* 1 thin strip of orange zest
* 2 cups beef stock
* 2 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5-inch cubes

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and cook bacon until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned, but not crisp. Remove bacon.

In batches, brown the beef on all sides in the bacon fat. Put meat into a heavy pot or braising dish. Lower heat and pour off most of the fat from the skillet. Cook the carrots, celery, and onions with the herbs, bay leaf, and peppercorns until lightly browned. Add to the beef in pot/dish.

Raise heat of empty skillet and add the brandy, then the red wine. Scrape up the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot and reduce wine by two-thirds. Pour over the beef and vegetables in the pot.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, orange zest, and broth to the pot. The liquid should come up at least 3/4 of the way up to the top of the beef/vegetables; add more broth if needed. It does not need to cover the ingredients entirely.

Cover and cook at a bare simmer on the stovetop, or in a 325-degree oven for 2-3 hours until meat falls apart when tested with a fork. Add potatoes 30 minutes before done. Check the stew occasionally to make sure it’s not boiling and there is enough liquid.

Let stew rest for a few minutes before serving and skim off layer of fat on top. Season to taste with salt and serve over rice, egg noodles, or with crusty bread. Serves 6.