Sunday, April 27, 2008

If You Can't Take the Heat......Make Pasta Salad

This is really one of my favorite summer dinners, but seeing as it was nearly 80 all last week I gave in and made it even though it's still spring. It's delicious, healthy and can be made almost entirely from things in your pantry. Best of all, it's something you can make even when it's insanely hot outside. I speak from experience. My kitchen is the only room in my apartment that has absolutely no air conditioning, so I am well familiar with perils of adding more heat to already hot.


(for 2 hungry people)
1/2 lb to 3/4 lb of pasta (I usually use rotini, but used penne this time)
1 C of chopped tomatoes (I like cherry/grape tomatoes cut in quarters)
3/4 C chopped kalamata olives
3 oz feta cheese
1-2 cloves garlic
1 C chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
2 T plus 1 t lemon juice (this was the juice of 1 lemon for me)
1 T red wine vinegar
6 T extra virgin olive oil + a bit for cooking the garlic
1 t oregano
salt & pepper

Boil the water for the pasta. While waiting for the water to boil, chop the tomatoes and garlic and set aside. Chop the kalamata olives. When the water is boiling, lightly salt the water and add the past and cook according to the directions on the box. Add a small amount of olive oil to a small pan and cook the garlic on low heat until golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes over low heat, just enough to bring out the flavor in the tomatoes. When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot. Add the olives, tomato and garlic mixture and the chickpeas. Crumble the feta into the pasta. Mix just enough to evenly distribute the ingredients. Then make the dressing. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Then stream in the 6 T of olive oil mixing all the while. Add your seasoning (salt, pepper and oregano) but go really easy on the salt because both the olive and the feta are salt. Pour the dressing over the pasta, mix to coat and then let it sit for 5 minutes. Serve lukewarm.

BONUS INFO: If you are cooking for someone who refuses to consider something a main dish unless it has meat, you could add some cooked chicken to this. I made it that way before I discovered that I really much prefer it without the chicken and it's much less work without the chicken. But I understand some people won't eat vegetarian, and that's no reason to skip this recipe.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

This year we finally broke down and ordered the MLB Extra Innings package through our cable provider. This means we can watch the Red Sox almost every night. We are very happy people. It also means that I need to extend my "game food" repetoire beyond hot dogs and baked beans.

Here is my very first hot dog alternative.

adapted from Rachael Ray's recipe
(serves about 2)

2 chicken breasts (I usually cut them into large chunks to speed cooking time)
salt & pepper
2 T butter
3 T hot sauce
1/4 C sour cream
.08 lb blue cheese (so I had a .25 block and used about a third does that work out right?)

Chop chicken into managable chunks and salt and pepper. Cook in a small amount of butter or olive oil. While they are cooking, melt 2 T butter in a large microwavable container. Add the 3 T of hot sauce to the butter and mix well. When the chicken is done, use a fork to shred it. Toss the shredded chicken in the butter and hot sauce mixture. Mix the blue cheese with the sour cream until blended. Spread the blue cheese mixture on rolls, and then add the chicken and lettuce.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Chocolate-Covered Carmelized Matzoh Crunch

Frankly, I feel like a bit of a poser posting a recipe for a Passover dessert, what with not being Jewish and all, but I've been going to seders for off and on for a good 7 years now, and this year, for the first time, I was responsible for dessert. For those unfamiliar, Passover desserts are notoriously not great (since they must be flourless), especially when you consider the selection available at a regular supermarket in Rhode Island, so I volunteered (completely selfishly) to try out this recipe I'd been eyeing jealously for nearly a year. It is insanely easy. It is delicious.
And you still have time to make it for the seder tonight!

I completely stole the recipe from David Lebowitz. I did not alter it in any way, and it turned out perfectly.

recipe from David Lebowitz

4 to 6 sheets of matzoh
1 C butter (sliced) - you can use margarine if needed
1 C brown sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 bag (160 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Find a baking sheet with a lip, and line it with foil, making sure to cover up and over the sides. Lay the sheets of matzoh in a single layer over the baking sheet, breaking it as necessary to fill in all gaps. Heat the butter and brown sugar together on the stovetop stirring frequently until boiling. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and pour mixture over the matzoh, smoothing to cover all the matzoh. Reduce oven temperature to 350. Cook matzoh for 15 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn't burn. It will bubble, but if it starts to burn lower temp to 325. Remove from oven, and pour chocolate chips over the surface. Let sit for 5 minutes, then use an offset spatula to smear chocolate all over the top. Let harden, preferably in the fridge, and then break into pieces. Bring as a gift, share with your guests, or shut yourself in the bathroom and gobble it all down yourself.


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