Sunday, May 28, 2017

Cavatappi with Kale Ragu

Stirring the Pot is 9 years old this year, and the last time I checked, I had shared almost 900 recipes over the years! Now, from time to time my husband will many more recipes can you try? Haven't you run out yet?  The answer is always the same: NO!

In fact, from time to time I have been known to have one recurring dream. It's always the same. In my dream I'm running from someone who is trying to kill me and my one request is "No. No. You can't kill me yet. I have way too many recipes left to cook."  Now I've shared this dream with regular everyday people and they look at me like I have two heads, but I know my fellow cooks and food lovers will totally understand. My recipe list is never-ending! My Pinterest boards are exploding and it is quite realistic, even if I live to be 100, that I will never get to all the recipes on my list! 

Of course, saying that, from time to time I will share similar recipes, the same type of dish but by a different chef, or with another variation. I've shared endless versions of mac and cheese and I'm sure they'll be more. I've also shared a couple versions of pot roast, and of course, roast chicken.

I've also shared a very similar version of this Cavatappi with Kale Ragu before. Back in 2010, Mario Batali came out with his Molto Gusto cookbook and in it was the most delicious recipe for Pennette with Swiss Chard Ragu.  Having never had a swiss chard ragu before, I was curious and set out to make it straight away! It was love at first bite and when I posted it, I regaled it as one of the most delicious dishes I had made all year! So, when I noticed that Hugh had a similar version for a kale ragu in his River Cottage Veg cookbook, I knew it must be made.

And you know what? This Cavatappi with Kale Ragu was equally delicious!  The recipes were very much the same, with the major difference being just the difference between kale and swiss chard. So, if you're looking for a killer pasta dish, then I would highly suggest either one (click the link to be redirected to the swiss chard recipe). This pasta has texture, incredible flavor, is quite cheesy, and is ultimately comforting! Need more convincing...the whole pot should costs less than $5! A win-win all around! Make it. You won't be sorry!

Cavatappi with Kale Ragu
Adapted from River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
Serves 4-6

1 big bunch of kale
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 fresh red chile, or red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, finely slivered
salt and black pepper, to taste
10 ounces Cavatappi or other pasta
butter, to taste
Parmesan cheese, to taste
*1 cup pasta water, reserved from cooking pasta

Put a large pot of well-salted water on to boil so that you're ready to cook the pasta while the sauce is coming together. Remove the thick stems from the kale and slice into shreds.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the chile and garlic and some salt and pepper, and continue to cook for 3minutes, until the garlic is no longer raw.

When the onion is almost cooked, add the pasta to the pan of boiling water and cook until al dente, adding the greens to the pan about 3 minutes before the pasta is done cooking. At this point I used a 1 cup measure to ladle out some of the pasta cooking water. I added this water to the kale mixture, along with a good-sized knob of butter and a fair amount of Parmesan cheese to make a creamy mixture.

Drain the pasta and in the pan with the kale until thoroughly mixed. Check for seasoning, adding more pasta water to make it creamier, or perhaps more salt and pepper, and or cheese, if needed.  Serve immediately with lots of grated cheese!

Theme: Escape To River Cottage

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Welsh Rarebit {Two Ways + Endless Variations}

Oftentimes, when I'm out for drinks, I find myself craving a little something cheesy. Nothing too heavy, but something with a little bit of heft to it, and usually a little naughty. This Welsh Rarebit is just the thing. Cheese, glorious bubbly melted cheese, served over toasty hearty bread and maybe even some veggies. It's just a thing of beauty, really.

Hugh shares three ways to add veggies and change up your rarebit: tomatoes, celery, and kale or broccolini. All of these are good choice, but I'm willing to go out on a limb and say you could easily use about anything hanging out in your fridge. Eggs of any kind, cooked peppers (bell or jalapeno), bits of meat, slices of apple or pear, spinach, artichokes, and even olives would be lovely. The sky is really the limit! Always feel free to make it your own!

This time around I opted to follow two of Hugh's recipes, tomato and kale. While I do believe that tomato is the most common, and also the most well-liked; I'm willing to say that I love the combo of greens with cheese way more than the tomato version. Either way you simply cannot go wrong.

There a couple of things worth nothing. First, use a really good English Cheddar. I used an English Cheddar straight from Dorset.  Next, do not worry when the butter, flour, and milk mixture resembles glue, or straight up paste. This is exactly what you want! When you add the cheese to the mixture you will have to use a lot of muscle to stir it into the "sauce" and get it to melt. The cheese sauce isn't going to seem very saucy when you spread it on the bread and that is exactly the texture you're going for! Don't worry, this is a thick and luscious sauce that is so dreamy and satisfying!  Slather it on some good toasted bread and enjoy as is or with veggies, bits of meat, and/or egg. This Welsh Rarebit is a real treat!

Welsh Rarebit
Adapted from River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Serves 4

1-1/4 cups whole milk
1 bay leaf
1/2 onion
salt and black pepper, to taste
3-1/2 tablespoons butter
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 ounces fairly strong English cheddar, grated
1/2 teaspoon English mustard, or to taste
dash of Worcestershire sauce
4 slices of good bread or 4 small flat breads

Put the milk in a saucepan, with the bay leaf and onion if you have them on hand, along with a grinding of black pepper. Bring the milk to just below a simmer, then turn off the heat.

Melt the butter in another saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour to make a smooth roux and let it bubble and seethe for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat. If you've infused the milk with bay and onion, strain them out. Add the milk to the roux in three or four batches, beating well after each addition to create a smooth sauce.

Return the thick sauce to low heat and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in in the cheese until melted, then add the mustard and season with salt and pepper to taste, adding a dash of Worcestershire sauce if you like.

Preheat the broiler and toast the bread. If you're serving rarebit just as it comes, then spread the cheese sauce thickly on the toast. Alternatively, add your veggie extras before spreading on the toast.  Either way, broil the rarebit reasonably slowly, not too close to the heat, so the thick sauce is bubbling hot all the way through before the top gets too brown. Serve right away.

Tomato Rarebit: Top the cheese sauce with a few thick slices of tomato and sprinkle with pepper before placing under the broiler

Celery Rarebit: Thinly slice 4 celery stalks and saute them in a tablespoon of butter for 5 minutes, until tender but still a bit crunchy.  Season and stir into the rarebit mixture before spreading on toast and broiling.

Broccolini or Kale Rarebit: Lay some lightly cooked broccolini or kale across your toast before smothering with cheese sauce and broiling.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Favorite Bready Things!

This week over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we are featuring all Bready Things! It just so happens that in my home we are carb-obsessed and so Bready Things are right up our alley! I didn't get around to making a dish this week, but I do want to shout out some of my FAVORITE BREADY THINGS!

Every single one of these recipes have seen repeated visits in my kitchen. They are tried and true favorites. Click on the recipe link to be directed to the original post, which includes the recipe!

A pizza dough crust with a creamy and dreamy sweet Mascarpone base topped with an array of fresh berries makes for a wonderful breakfast or dessert. In fact, this dish is so pretty it is perfect for bridal showers, baby showers, or any other kind of celebration where you need to take a dish!

You wouldn't think an English-born chef would be your go-to for one killer Chicken Po'Boy, but Nigel Slater really delivered on this sandwich. It is quite simple, just a few ingredients, but it is total perfection.  Just looking at that hot and juicy sandwich gets my mouth watering every single time!

Rick Bayless is well represented in this Bready Things roundup and these enchiladas are absolutely amazing!  Do a quick search on Cafe Tacuba-Style Creamy Chicken Enchiladas and you'll see that they were quite popular with several food bloggers. This is more of a casserole-style enchilada in that the corn tortillas aren't rolled, but layered.  A sauce is made from poblano peppers and spinach and layered in with corn tortillas, chicken, and Monterey cheese. This is an incredible dish!

Don't let the look of this one fool you! It isn't much to look at, but it is one of my favorites in this entire roundup. Just imagine a crusty telera roll smeared with black beans, chorizo, feta cheese, and slices of avocado. Some of my very favorite ingredients all coming together in one sandwich. It is absolutely crave-worthy!


Again, Rick Bayless comes through with another amazing torta. My mom loves this sandwich so much she asks for it for her birthday every year.  Now, this sandwich is a lot of work. You'll need a breading station for the crispy chicken and you'll also need to prepare the garlicky black bean smash, but once you've completed that you have one crazy-good sandwich that will have everyone asking for it again and again.

These corn muffins called my name for the entire six months that we cooked with Curtis Stone. The reason why: one of my favorite bready things is any type of corn muffin.  I just tend to gravitate to them and I knew, without a doubt, that these corn muffins filled with white cheddar cheese, corn, and bacon would be a huge hit in my home! We scarfed these down with some chive butter in record time. Now they've become a staple!

Sometimes I just crave bacon and Jamie Oliver's Bacon Sarnie is a fantastic, and easy way, to satisfy that craving. If you haven't made a Bacon Sarnie, then you need to!

Last, but not least, is my very favorite Banana Bread! Tessa's recipe for banana bread is a little different than other recipes I've tried. There are two different things about this banana bread recipe. The first is that this recipe only uses brown sugar, no white sugar whatsoever, and the brown sugar really shines. Not only can you taste the difference with the brown sugar, but you can also smell the difference and it is so much more complimentary to the banana bread. Secondly, Tessa has you add the baking soda to warm milk, which is a step I've never taken with banana bread, and I swear it makes a difference in both the texture and the overall rising power of the bread.  This banana bread rises so much faster and higher than any other loaf and the overall texture is so much better than others. If you're a banana bread lover, then this recipe is a must try!

Those are some of my favorite bready things! 

What are some of your favorites?