Sunday, January 31, 2016

In My Kitchen February 2016

What do you do when you can't sleep but it feels way too early to leap out of bed and launch into the new day? Some days I read, or watch the morning news and market activity, or contemplate life until I do fall back asleep. Today a glance outside confirmed changeable weather heading our way, not at all inviting for an early morning walk. I chose to stay in my pajamas and headed downstairs to start the coffee. No problem, until I couldn't find my favorite coffee scoop. It turned up eventually, mixed up with other utensils in a drawer where it doesn't normally reside. 

After making the coffee I set about straightening the drawer, muttering only slightly about where RL had stored stuff. He likes to reorganize things and "make the kitchen more efficient". Grrrrrrrrr. This only happens in the house kitchen since the boat galley has such limited storage space (4 drawers in all). 

Photo: wet side of the galley with fridge in the far corner
Organizing one kitchen drawer led to a second, then a third, and I became aware of the number of single-purpose items in my utensil collection here ashore. How many other cooks of a certain age share my apparent fondness for kitchen gadgets, or my inability to toss the excess?  Instead of sharing new "stuff" or food items in my kitchen this month, here's a peek at a few of the items I evidently find too precious to part with.

In my kitchen drawers you will find...

-2 citrus juicers, both of which require significant hand strength and dexterity.

-a rice mold that is often forgotten, so I'll use a measuring cup instead.

-3 zesters, though only the long grater gets significant use.

-an olive ladle with almost useful drain holes.

-2, yes 2, meat mallets. Back in the day when we were active scuba divers (and harvesting abalone was legal) the smooth side of the smaller mallet was used to pound abalone as well.

-an old garlic press and new plastic garlic peel cylinder.

-2 hand scoops, plus another two I haven't located yet. The 2-tablespoon round scoop sees heavy use with cookie dough and occasional use forming meatballs. The paddle scoop was originally used in a restaurant, purpose unknown, but currently makes a sturdy ice cream scoop. RL always knows where this utensil is hiding stored.

In my kitchen ashore...

-there are plenty more drawers waiting to be organized, sorted, weeded, or whatever. 

Now I'm ready to quit for the day - or week - or whatever. When we built this house over 35 years ago I thought the kitchen storage would never be filled. While the cabinets and drawers aren't full yet, it's getting close. It's definitely time to pare the collection as I organize, since new treasures will need some space in the future.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Marsala Sauced Mushrooms Baked with Kale and Pasta

Lately a new medication has messed with my tummy, tastebuds and appetite, and kitchen activity has been hit and miss. Looking for inspiration motivation I clicked through scads of pinterest photos, randomly searching for something tempting, something yummy that would feature the mushrooms and kale in my fridge. A photo from SmittenKitchen's "Mushroom Marsala Pasta Bake" caught my eye; visually appealing comfort food that might not challenge my tummy. So many of Deb's recipes are delicious and this one looked like a winner.  

I adjusted the ingredients, adding kale and making a few substitutions, but did follow the original

  * Cook the pasta and soak the dried 'shrooms.
  * Brown the mushrooms and onions.
  * Prepare the sauce.
  * Combine 'shrooms, sauce and pasta and bake until browned.

30 minutes to prep, 30 minutes to bake, and this dish was on the table ready to enjoy. It didn't disappoint.

This is not your old school baked casserole, overly ooey-gooey and full of processed ingredients. Oh no, this awesome dish eschews ( omigosh, who really uses that word?!) canned anything, celebrates the deep earthy flavor of fresh mushrooms, incorporates fresh kale for vitamins and color, and delivers an awesome slightly booze-flavored cheesy sauce. Awesome? Yes, it's that good. Official tastetester RL repeatedly attacked sampled the pan of sauce with a tablespoon, and suggested we forego the pasta and skip the oven bake. It's true, by itself the sauced mushroom mixture is temptingly delicious, but I held out for the pasta and oven bake. Pile a spoonful atop a toasted baguette slice for a hearty appetizer. It would be great finger food on a small bread slice or scrumptious, plated knife-and-fork fare on a large slice. 

Mushroom Marsala Pasta with Kale
adapted from Deb's recipe at SmittenKitchen

Servings: 4 large or 6 regular ones

1/2 pound cut tube pasta; ziti, penne, or some twisty shape like cavatappi
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 small yellow onion, halved and sliced thin
handful dried mushrooms: soaked, drained, sliced (water reserved)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup marsala wine (I substituted vermouth in one batch)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup reserved mushroom soaking water
1 cup chicken stock (or substitute beef, vegetable or mushroom)
1/2 cup (50 grams) finely grated parmesan cheese, divided 
4 ounces (115 grams) mozzarella, cut into small cubes (I 've also used Emmentaler)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
2 cups kale, rinsed & sliced into thin ribbons


Cook the pasta
Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, stopping before fully cooked since it will cook further in the oven. Drain and set aside. (It may stick together but will loosen up when added to the sauce.)

Heat oven: To 400 degrees F.

Make the sauce:
Add oil to the now-empty pasta pot and heat to shimmering over high heat. Add fresh mushrooms; cook and toss until they begun to color but before they release any liquid.

Reduce heat to medium-high; add onions, reconstituted dried mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute together until the mushroom liquid is evaporated. Add Marsala and cook mixture, stirring frequently, until liquid has nearly evaporated.

Stir in the butter, mixing until melted. Using a strainer, sprinkle flour over the mushrooms; stir until completely absorbed. Add mushroom soaking water and stock, a few ounces at a time, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Each addition should be fully incorporated before adding the next. Repeat until all stock has been added. Let mixture simmer together for 2 minutes, stirring frequently; the sauce will thicken. Remove pan from heat.

Assemble and bake dish:
(Use the cooking pan if it’s an oven-safe dish. Otherwise...
Transfer this mixture to a 2-quart baking dish.)
Add cooked pasta to the sauced mushroom mix and stir until combined. Add the kale, half the parmesan, all of the mozzarella and two tablespoons of the parsley; stir until evenly mixed. Sprinkle the top with remaining parmesan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until edges of pasta are golden brown. Sprinkle with reserved parsley and serve hot. Reheat as needed.

For a crowd double the recipe and use a 9×13-inch or lasagna pan.

My recipe for Pasta with Mushrooms, Kale and Walnuts offers a stovetop dish with similar ingredients but quite different results. Give them both a try. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...