The Sensitive Kitchen

Monday, March 14, 2011

Stealthy Macaroni & Cheese

Both of my children pronounced this dish delicious and asked for seconds. None of you had better tell them that a 9" square pan contains a whole head of cauliflower. Especially my 4-year-old, who last month pronounced that she hates cauliflower and that it "fills the air with stupidness."

I adapted this from a recipe in Runner's World that got some bad reviews. I think what the naysayers got wrong was to rinse the pasta - removing the starch which thickens the dish - and to use mild cheeses. I used the sharpest cheddar I had, and a good aged Romano, to good result.

2 c vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 large cauliflower, cored, cut into large pieces
8 oz Barilla Plus elbow macaroni
1/2 c grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and black pepper
1/4 c grated Romano cheese
1/2 c panko bread crumbs

Heat oven to 400° F.

Cook cauliflower in boiling water for 25 minutes (will be extremely soft). Drain; place in a food processor.

Meanwhile, par-cook pasta in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain; do not rinse. Place pasta in an oiled 9" square baking dish.

Bring stock to a boil in a saucepan with bay leaves. Discard bay leaves. Pour stock over cauliflower. Add cheddar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Process until smooth.

Pour sauce over pasta, toss, and spread evenly in dish. Mixture will be soupy. Top with Romano cheese and bread crumbs. Bake 25-30 minutes or until thick, browned and bubbling. Serves 6.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Berries with Honey Ricotta Cream

A delectable springtime dessert. Please don't try to use the waxy and flavorless "chocolaty" sprinkles you can find in supermarkets. Substitute miniature chocolate chips instead, or simply go without.

I'm sorry there's no picture. This dish got eaten before it could get photographed. Some things are too good to last, I guess...

1/3 cup ricotta cheese
2-3 Tbsp cream, to taste
2 tsp honey
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 cup strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
a dusting of Guittard chocolate sprinkles

Place ricotta in a small bowl. Add cream, honey and almond extract. Stir to mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Place strawberries and blueberries in a serving bowl. Dollop ricotta cream atop berries. Top with sprinkles and serve.

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Tortilla Pie

Some call this type of dish "Mexican lasagna," but as my 7-year-old professes an intense dislike of regular lasagna, we chose the moniker Tortilla Pie instead.

2 tsp canola oil
1 red onion
4-5 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp pasilla chile powder
1 red bell pepper
12 oz soy crumble (can use lean ground turkey)
4 oz roasted diced green chiles
1 can diced tomatoes in juice
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
Greens from 1 large golden beet, shredded, about 3 cups (can substitute any mild green such as spinach or chard)
8 whole-wheat tortillas
1 1/2 c shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 1/4 c enchilada sauce
1/4 c chopped cilantro

In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic in canola oil until onion is softened. Add spices; saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add bell pepper; saute until softened. Add soy crumble, pressing with the back of your spoon to loosen. Add green chiles, diced tomatoes and black beans; cover and simmer a few minutes until greens wilt. Uncover and simmer to desired thickness. Remove from heat.

In a 9" square pan, layer ingredients as follows: tortillas, skillet mixture, enchilada sauce, cheese, cilantro. Repeat twice. End with tortillas, then top with enchilada sauce and cheese. Cover with foil; bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until heated through. Remove foil; bake 15 minutes or until top browns. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

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Sunday, March 06, 2011

Oven-Roasted Dry Curry Potatoes

Free up your stovetop to cook other dishes by preparing this easy potato curry in the oven.

1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp amchur (optional, but gives a nice tang)
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1 1/2 pounds mixed-color potato blend
12 cloves garlic, ends removed
2-3 Tbsp oil

Preheat oven to 425. Mix salt, pepper and spices. Set aside.

Cut the potatoes into even large dice. Spread on a baking sheet with garlic cloves. Toss evenly with oil to coat. Shake the baking sheet to evenly distribute the potato-garlic mixture, and sprinkle with spices. Toss to coat. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes test done with the point of a knife and are nicely browned. Serves 6.

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Shrimp with Coconut Oil and Curry Leaves

If you have access to fresh curry leaves, don't hesitate to make this simple yet delicious dish. There are no substitutions for the coconut oil, which brings out the sweet flavor of the seafood. Use medium shrimp so the flavors can really soak into them.

3 Tbsp best-quality coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp coarsely cracked black pepper
2 pounds shrimp, shells and veins removed
30 fresh curry leaves, slivered
1 1/2 tsp salt

Heat the coconut oil over medium heat, watching carefully, as the oil has a low smoke point and may burn. When the oil is hot, add pepper, stirring for a moment until fragrant, then add shrimp. Cook, tossing and stirring constantly, until shrimp is coated with pepper and oil. Add curry leaves and salt; continue to stir constantly until shrimp is opaque. This should only take 2-3 minutes. Serve hot. Serves 4-6.

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Easy South Indian Peas Curry

Coconut and fragrant spices transform the humble frozen green pea, which in India always receives the plural. A typically south Indian treatment, this technique can be used on almost any vegetable.

1 Tbsp oil
1 dried red chile
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seed
5-6 fresh curry leaves
1/2 onion, chopped
1 pound green peas
3 Tbsp shredded coconut

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When it is very hot, add chile, mustard and cumin. Cover quickly. When popping subsides, add curry leaves, then onion. Cook, stirring, until onion begins to brown, then reduce heat to medium. When onion is softened, add green peas. Cover and cook until peas are soft, 5-6 minutes. Add coconut, and salt to taste. Serves 6-8.

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