Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Asparagus And Pasta With A Cream Sauce.

I have lots of asparagus spearing up throughout my garden, so today I'm making a pasta dish with asparagus and a garlic and Parmesan cream sauce.  It's quick and easy, light and filling.  Plus it's got that comfort thing goin' on and I imagine we could all use some comfort right now.
 

No real recipes here.  Just throwing stuff in pots, cooking for a bit, and within 20 minutes, we have a meal.     
 
 For the pasta, you can use whatever you have.  I used "ruffles" pasta (I had a handful left in the box.) and supplemented it with farfalle (about 2 cups).  Farfalle directions said to cook for 12-14 minutes; ruffles for 9-11 minutes.  So I brought a pot of salted water to a boil, poured in the farfalle, then 3 minutes later added the ruffles.  Cooked it 13 minutes total, then drained it, saving about a cup of the pasta water.
                                                                          
 Above is farfalle pasta on the left and ruffles on the right.

Notice I said to save some of the pasta water.  That's because I'm using it in the sauce.
And there's a reason for using the pasta water in the sauce. As pasta cooks, it releases some of its starch into the water.  Using starchy pasta water in the sauce will bind the pasta to the sauce, enhancing the flavor and resulting in a thicker, richer, more cohesive sauce that clings to your pasta much like an emulsified vinaigrette does to salad greens.

Now, I had about 12 spears of asparagus which I cut into 1-inch long pieces.  Since I'm not fond of washing a bunch of pots, I dropped the asparagus body spears in with the pasta at the 9-minute mark, then the tips in at the 12-minute mark.  And everything was cooked perfectly.  The pasta was al dente and the asparagus was tender/crisp. Put the pasta and asparagus into a bowl.
 
While the pasta was cooking, I made a quick cream sauce to toss with the pasta and asparagus.
 
Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce
2 TB unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced 
2 TB flour
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
extra grated Parm 
chopped parsley 
 
In a small sauce pan, melt butter over low heat.  Add in garlic clove and cook, stirring for a minute.  Add in flour and whisk for another minute.  Slowly pour in reserved pasta water and increase heat to medium.  Whisk constantly.  Mixture will thicken.  Slowly whisk in  heavy cream.  Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Stir in grated Parmesan cheese.  Remove from heat and let cheese melt.  Stir until smooth.  Pour over drained pasta and asparagus and toss to coat.  Add extra grated Parmesan and chopped parsley to servings.



Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Rosie Makes Fruit In Puff Pastry.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, I used puff pastry to make little shells for asparagus and a dill/cream cheese sauce. 
See here for instructions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After enjoying the savory appetizer, I still had puff pastry sheets left and I wanted something sweet.  I also had blueberries and strawberries, so I'm making a chocolate sauce for the strawberries and a sweet yogurt sauce for the blueberries.  Before I get to the how-to, you need to know about puff pastry.

First, what is puff pastry?  It's a very delicate, flaky, light pastry, also known as pâte feuilletée, made by repeatedly layering and folding dough and cold butter through a process known as lamination.  Throughout the process, the dough is kept chilled in the fridge while it rests and develops the gluten structure.  When baked, the water in the butter turns to steam and the many layers are puffed up and stretched until they're a glossy beautiful golden pastry.

If you're using store-bought puff pastry, always check the ingredients list.  Butter should be Numero Uno on the list, since ingredients are listed in order of volume.  The only brand of puff pastry I can find on the beach that meets this criteria is Dufours brand, sold at Fresh Market.  

Here's the ingredients list from Dufours:  Ingredients USDA Grade AA Butter (Cream, Natural Flavorings), Unbleached Unbromated Flour, Water, Salt, Lemon Juice

And here's the ingredients list from Pepperidge Farm brand:  MADE FROM: ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), WATER, VEGETABLE OILS (PALM, SOYBEAN, HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED), CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SALT, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, SOY LECITHIN, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, TURMERIC AND ANNATTO EXTRACTS  .

 Keep the puff pastry in your freezer.  Let it thaw in the fridge overnight before using it.  And when working with it, keep the pastry cool.  You don't want the butter to melt on you.

To prepare the pastry for baking, cut your sheets into small rectangles. Take a knife and score around each rectangle about 1/4" border, then prick inside the scoring.
Bake according to package directions - 400° for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy.
Let cool, then remove the scored section.  You'll have a shell for your fillings.

 










 

 

 

For the strawberry shells, I thinly sliced strawberries and tucked the slices into the puff pastry rectangles.  Then I drizzled a chocolate sauce over top.

Chocolate Ganache
Heat 1/4 cup cream.  When hot (not boiling) pour in 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips.  Stir until melted.  If it's too thick, simply stir in a tablespoon or so of cream.

 








 

For the blueberries, I'm making a yogurt sauce.

Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup Greek whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 TB honey 
Stir until smooth.
Drizzle over shells and blueberries.








 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Rosie Makes Asparagus In Puff Pastry.

 Let's bring on the Spring.
With asparagus.
 
I thought I'd try some appetizers - asparagus in puff pastry with a dill cream sauce.
 
First, what is puff pastry?  It's a very delicate, flaky, light pastry, also known as pâte feuilletée, made by repeatedly layering and folding dough and cold butter through a process known as lamination.  Throughout the process, the dough is kept chilled in the fridge while it rests and develops the gluten structure.  When baked, the water in the butter turns to steam and the many layers are puffed up and stretched until they're a glossy beautiful golden pastry.

Now, if you haven't made your own puff pastry from scratch, you should try it.
But, if you don't have the time or the know-how, you can use store-bought.
Just be sure you buy the right stuff.  There's puff pastry and then there's puff pastry.
 
The main ingredient in puff pastry is BUTTER.  Real butter.  So when you're looking to buy puff pastry, you must read the ingredients list.  The only puff pastry on the Outer Banks (that I've found) that comes close to actually being puff pastry is Dufours brand from Fresh Market.  Note that ingredients are always listed by volume.

Here's the ingredients list from Dufours:  Ingredients USDA Grade AA Butter (Cream, Natural Flavorings), Unbleached Unbromated Flour, Water, Salt, Lemon Juice
 
And here's the ingredients list from Pepperidge Farm brand:  
MADE FROM: ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), WATER, VEGETABLE OILS (PALM, SOYBEAN, HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED), CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SALT, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, SOY LECITHIN, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, TURMERIC AND ANNATTO EXTRACTS .
 
Note that butter is not even in Pepperidge Farm puff pastry.  The main ingredient is wheat flour and then you have some type of oil.  No butter.
 
 Now that you have a box of puff pastry (from the freezer section), let it sit in the fridge overnight to thaw.  And while you're working with it, keep it cool.  


The sheets come folded in thirds.

I'm using one-third sheet which I cut into four rectangles.


With a small knife,
score around each rectangle.




Then prick inside
the scoring.

Refrigerate rectangles
while you
make the sauce.








Rosie's Dill and Cream Cheese Sauce for Asparagus
1 TB butter
1 oz. cream cheese
2 TB grated Gruyère cheese
1 TB lemon juice
1/2 tsp coarse Dijon mustard
1 TB cream
Heat all ingredients until cheeses are melted.
Stir until smooth.
Add in 1 TB chopped fresh dill.















12 asparagus spears.
For the asparagus, hold at each end, bend gently, and let the bottom snap off naturally.
Discard that bottom piece.
Then slice each spear into 3 lengths.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
Drop in the asparagus and leave it for about 90 seconds.
Drain, then plunge asparagus into ice water to stop the cooking and set the bright green color.
When cool, drain and pat dry.

Cook puff pastry
at 400° 
for about 15 minutes.
Until golden brown and puffy.



Remove the scored section.




Fill shells
with asparagus
and pour heated
cream sauce
over top.
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Add lemon zest and fresh dill.















 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For added crunch, sprinkle on some toasted pistachios.









Enjoy!











Friday, March 12, 2021

Happy Pi Day.




I have one of the best pies for you.  Just in time for National Pi Day - 3/14.
It's chocolate/espresso and it's easy as 3.14159265359... 

 

 

Rosie's Chocolate Espresso Pie
1 9" pie crust, unbaked, placed in glass pie dish
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 TB espresso powder
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
5 oz. evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 TB vanilla
1 cup pecans, sorta chopped

Heat oven to 400°.
For the pie crust, you can make your ownor use a store-bought crust.
For store-bought crusts, I recommend the refrigerated ones that come rolled up,
two to a box (They're near the eggs.),NOT the frozen individual crusts.

Mix together:
sugar, cocoa, and espresso powder
Stir in:
melted butter
evaporated milk
beaten eggs
vanilla
Pour into:
1 unbaked pie shell
Press:
chopped pecans onto surface
Bake at 400° for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 325° and bake 25 more minutes,
rotating pie halfway through baking time.
I also slipped on a pie crust collar after the first 10 minutes
to keep the crust from burning.
Let cool, then refrigerate.
RESIST the temptation to slice right into this pie.
It needs to sit OVERNIGHT to set.

Now for the step-by-steps:





 

 

 

 

 Have everything ready:
Pie crust is in pie dish with edges crimped.
Dry ingredients are measured:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 TB espresso powder
 
One stick of unsalted butter is melted. 
Two eggs are getting to room temperature.
And I've got a small can of evaporated milk, vanilla, and a cup of pecans.

Mix sugar, cocoa, and espresso.


Beat eggs until light and frothy.



Pour milk into dry mixture.


Add in eggs.

Stir in butter.

Add in the vanilla.

Beat for a minute or two.

Pour into prepared shell.


Top with pecans.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Lightly press into surface.


Ready for baking.
 I always use a pie collar 
to keep the edges 
from getting too dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cook at 400° for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 325° and cook another 25 minutes.
The pie should barely jiggle when you move it.


Remove from oven and let cool.
Refrigerate OVERNIGHT to set.