Roadside Tragedy

August 5, 2006

Could have brought such joy!

No dignity, it lies there

spilling out, wasted.

Southwestern Macaroni Casserole, originally uploaded by elskermeg.

So I got creative with a box of macaroni and cheese the other night. Sometimes, you just have to make do with what you find in the pantry. But this turned out to be so good, it certainly didn’t feel like a sacrifice! You can find the recipe for this Southwestern Macaroni Casserole over at the new site, Pinch My Salt

Ch-Ch-Changes…

August 3, 2006

Some of you may have noticed that I spent quite a bit of time cleaning up, organizing, streamlining and adding pages to this blog. The biggest difference is that I made an index over on the right that should keep my previous posts in some kind of decent order. The most important change is that the recipes are now organized kind of like the index in a cookbook. You can now browse through them according to categories such as appetizers, main courses, sides, etc. You probably get the picture, check it out! Read the rest of this entry »

Peaches

August 3, 2006

Peaches, originally uploaded by elskermeg.

What’s better than eating fresh, sweet, peaches over the kitchen sink with juice dribbling down your chin? Maybe nothing. Or maybe, some peach cobbler fresh out of the oven served warm on top of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

A couple of years ago, I discovered something simple that changed the way I cooked. Fresh grated nutmeg. Maybe I’m one of the few who hadn’t caught on to this simple trick but I’m putting the word out, just in case there are others who haven’t been converted! Not only does fresh grated nutmeg make a world of difference in your desserts (i.e. Peach Cobbler), it will turn your ordinary béchamel sauce into something unforgettable. Try it with spinach, egg dishes, French toast; you’ll see what I mean.

With all the special gadgets dedicated to grating nutmeg, you think that it was a difficult task! I’ve seen everything from “professional quality” microplane graters to cute, miniature graters to store in your spice cabinet. You can even find antique silver nutmeg graters. But I’ve found that I get by just fine by grating it on the side of my cheapo, very untrendy box grater (you know, the side that will rip the skin right off your knuckles, if you’re not careful!). It works just fine and you really don’t have to apply much pressure.

Well all this talk about nutmeg really is leading us back to peach cobbler, I promise! I discovered that fresh grated nutmeg tastes wonderful with fresh peaches in my favorite dessert. You can use this recipe or you can stick with your old standby cobbler recipe but just try it once with a few dashes of fresh nutmeg and see if you’ll ever want it any other way!

img_7212.JPG
Fresh Peach Cobbler

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Filling:
4 C. sliced fresh peaches
1/3 C. brown sugar
fresh grated nutmeg
1 T. flour
Pinch of salt (optional)

Topping*:
1 C. all-purpose flour
1/4 C. sugar
1 t. baking powder
Pinch of salt (optional)
3 T. cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 beaten egg
3 T. milk

In a medium bowl, mix together peaches, sugar, flour, a couple dashes of fresh grated nutmeg, and salt (if using); set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt (if using). Add butter and cut in with pastry blender, two knives or rub butter into flour with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat the egg and milk together then add all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined–don’t overmix!

Pour peach mixture into a small baking dish (8”x8”x2”). Drop topping mixture by large spoonfuls over the top of the peaches.

Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven. Topping is done when golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Serve warm with ice cream and then eat the rest cold for breakfast!

* The topping part of the above recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.

Gelatomania!

August 1, 2006

Gelati, originally uploaded by elskermeg.

During our trip to Rome, Florence, Siena and Venice, we had the opportunity to sample many, many, many types of gelato. The combination of the miserable heat and abundance of gelato shops meant that we averaged 2 to 3 “gelato breaks” a day. At some point during the trip, I decided to start taking photographs in an attempt to document our favorite flavor combinations. The winner out of this set was the chocolate and coconut (far right). Some of the other combinations to be seen in this collage are (left to right): apricot /rice pudding, blueberry/yogurt, and chocolate/pistachio (pistachio is always a good bet in Sicily but the bright green color of this one means that they probably added artificial color and flavor). The key to finding good gelato when traveling is to look for a sign that says “produzione propria,” meaning it’s made on the premises.

img_6380-1.JPGAlthough the gelato in Florence is supposed to be the best, I’ve found that the gelato in Sicily is just as good and in many cases better than the gelato up north (like many things here). One exception was the gelato we had at Vivoli in Florence. It might be overrated (all the guidbooks point tourists there), but the rice-flavored (riso) gelato that we all tried was an experience I’ll never forget! If you love rice pudding, this is the gelato for you! If not, stay away from it because it is actually filled with grains of rice, just like the pudding. It took a minute to get past the strange texture of frozen, cooked rice but once I did, I enjoyed it more than any other we tasted. I tried the riso with fragola (strawberry) at the suggestion of the woman behind the counter. It was good but I wish I had stuck with a full cup of riso (they don’t offer cones at Vivoli). I did see some “riso” flavored gelato when we were in Siena (top photo, far left) but it didn’t have rice in it and the flavor was horrible.

 

Pear

July 31, 2006

 

pear season they say

does not begin til august

but how could i wait

 

Cheese Enchiladas

July 30, 2006

Cheese Enchiladas, originally uploaded by elskermeg.

I didn’t feel like defrosting any meat so I made up a quick enchilada sauce from ingredients I had on hand and filled some corn tortillas with a combination of sharp cheddar and monterey jack cheeses. Ready to go in about 30 minutes and the house smells great!

I’ve been craving enchiladas ever since I saw the recipe and photo for Enchiladas Chipotle over at Gardenpath. I didn’t have all the ingredients for that recipe so I made up my own with the ingredients I did have. I did use some ground chipotle chiles in addition to my regular chili powder. If you use a lot of chili powder, I really suggest trying some from The Spice House. I have the medium strength and it is pretty spicy so I wouldn’t start out with the “hot” unless you really like some heat! I think the prices are very reasonable…probably less expensive than supermarket prices in many cases. Their Web site also has a great forum where you can ask the employees any spice-related questions and they can usually come up with an answer.

Here’s how I made the sauce:

2 T. olive oil
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
2 T. chili powder (part of this was chipotle chili powder)
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 C. water
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. brown sugar
1/8 t. cinnamon
——————————–

In a small bowl mix together flour, chili powder, cumin, and cocoa powder. Heat oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour mixture and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Whisk in 2 cups of water and tomato sauce, making sure there are no lumps. Add salt, garlic powder, brown sugar and cinnamon and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Taste and correct seasonings as desired.

I’m typing this from memory so hopefully I included all the ingredients! This recipe is based on the Ten Minute Enchilada Sauce recipe I found on allrecipes.com

For the enchiladas I used corn tortillas. My tortillas were a little stale so I steamed them by placing a splatter shield over a pot of boiling water and laying the tortillas on top for a few seconds until they were pliable. I then dipped the tortillas in some sauce, filled with cheese and placed in the baking dish. After the baking dish was filled, I poured on some extra sauce and sprinkled some cheese and black olives over the top. Normally I would also include some beef, shredded chicken or shredded turkey in the enchiladas and maybe some green chiles.