Homemade Cracked Pepper Spaghetti with Broccoli & Goat Cheese Pesto

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is not a Cinco de Mayo recipe but several will be coming in the next few days.  This is just a yummy broccoli pasta recipe that is really easy – especially if you use dry spaghetti.

I am not going to post a formal recipe here for the spaghetti except to say that the ingredients are: 600 grams flour, six eggs, a tsp salt & 2 TBS fresh cracked pepper.  That works out to what they call 6 servings.  I put all those things in my bread machine & let that thing work its magic.  It produced this tacky ball:

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which I then put through this process:

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to get this result:

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Homemade pasta is a glorious thing!  Comprehensive instructions on making pasta dough is HERE in this post.  It can be done without any tools beyond a rolling pin & a knife – but that seems like a lot of work.

This pesto doesn’t have any nuts.  It is as easy as any pesto & just as yummy.

Also – I bought red basil at the AMAZING store – Super King – that I blogged about yesterday & that is the dark leafy stuff you might make out in the photos.  Regular basil is fine.

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Broccoli & Goat Cheese Pesto

INGREDIENTS

2 small – medium heads broccoli

garlic cloves (I used 10 – but that might be too hardcore for more tender palates)

1/2 cup fresh basil

5 oz goat cheese

1/2 cup olive oil

juice & zest of 1/2 lemon

S&P to taste

Lemon wedges as garnish

Grated Parmesan as garnish

Parsley and/or extra basil, chopped as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Cut the florets off of one head of cauliflower & quick steam them for 3-5 minutes in a covered pan with very shallow (1/2 inch) boiling water.  Drain & rinse under cold water.  Set aside.

Take the stems from the first head & all of the second & chop them up.  Blend in a food processor with goat cheese, garlic, basil, lemon juice & zest and S&P – adding the olive oil slowly.  You might not need it all – you might need more – depending on the quantity of broccoli you have.  It also might need to be scraped down the sides of the work bowl a few times.   If it is still too thick and you want to limit the olive oil used – just add a bit of water.

Cook your pasta.  While it cooks, heat a TBS olive oil in a pan & heat up your pesto.  Add the broccoli florets you set aside.  Heat it through but do not cook it too long so that your florets do not get soggy.

When the pasta is done, drain it & toss it with the pesto.  Garnish with grated Parmesan, chopped parsley & a lemon wedge.

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Grilled Avocado Bruschetta with Chimichurri & Grilled Avocado, Feta Cheese & Heirloom Tomato Crostini with Basil Oil

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Last night I tried something new.  I grilled an avocado.  The idea of a hot, squishy avocado is repellent but I have these Goddamn avocados from Costco & I needed to find creative ways to use them – ways not involving guacamole.  I only left this guy on the grill for less than a minute – just enough to get grill marks.  And the result?  This might be one of my all-time favorite flavors!!  Absolutely incredible!  I recommend you try it as soon as possible.

Now – I also had two slices left over from my first Artisan bread effort.

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I used this bread because I had it.  If making this CRAZY easy bread isn’t part of your plan, no worries.  Use slices of French bread or some other bread with a crusty crust.

As an aside – bruschetta – is pronounced “brusketta.”

I am often corrected when I say it this way – but I remain undeterred.

Crostini & bruschetta are the same thing.

You can top these toasted treats with a wide variety of things but, as of yesterday, grilled avocado tops my list.  You really have to try it.

Also – here is how you peel & pit an avocado:

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Grilled Avocado Bruschetta with Chimichurri

INGREDIENTS

Crusty read

Chimichurri Sauce

Avocado

olive oil

lime juice

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375.  Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet, brush both sides with oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through – if undersides are not browning, turn bruschetta over once during baking. Let cool on baking sheets.

Halve the avocado.   Remove the pit and peel.

Mix a TBS olive oil with a TBS lime juice.  Brush this mix onto the flat side of the avocado & grill over medium heat for 30 seconds to a minute – just until the grill leaves scars.  You can spin the avocado during this period to get cross grill marks.

Remove from heat, brush all over with lime & olive oil mix & dice.

Top your bruschetta slices with avocado & drizzle with chimichurri sauce.  Serve to people & be considered a hero!

OR —–

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Grilled Avocado, Feta Cheese & Heirloom Tomato Crostini with Basil Oil

INGREDIENTS

Crusty bread

Basil oil

Avocado

feta cheese

Tomatoes – diced

S&P to taste

Olive oil

lime juice

Chopped fresh basil as garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375.  Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet, brush both sides with oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through – if undersides are not browning, turn bruschetta over once during baking. Let cool on baking sheets.

Halve the avocado.   Remove the pit and peel.

Mix a TBS olive oil with a TBS lime juice.  Brush this mix onto the flat side of the avocado & grill over medium heat for 30 seconds to a minute – just until the grill leaves scars.  You can spin the avocado during this period to get cross grill marks.

Remove from heat, brush all over with lime & olive oil mix & dice.

In a bowl, mix the grilled avocado, the feta (crumbled) and diced tomato in whatever ratio you prefer.  Equal parts – or heavy on the avocado is nice.  S&P to taste.

Top your crostini with this mix, drizzle with basil oil & top with chopped fresh basil (if using) & serve!  Run a victory lap!

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Vegan Broccoli Soup with Avocado & Jalapeno or Basil oil or Gremolata

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This recipe makes a lot  A LOT – of soup.  Be prepared to freeze some.  I had a 3 pound bag of broccoli from Costco & it had to be used & used fast.  I find freezing fresh vegetables renders them a yucky, mushy, unappetizing mess – but freezing dishes MADE with vegetables works out just fine.  I suppose you could cut this recipe in half easily – so maybe consider doing that.

This soup would be amazing with a homemade vegetable stock (there is a recipe at the bottom of the post HERE) but it works out just great using bouillon, too.

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This soup can be served with all sorts of little garnishes from the avocado-jalapeno combo to the basil oil drizzle I show here to the gremolata that I also show here of with crispy bacon crumbles or some blue cheese crumbles or feta cheese.  Use your imagination!  Add some corn or steamed broccoli or tortilla strips.  Go nuts!  I found these red jalapenos at an Asian market & I love them because they are so PRETTY!  But green ones work just as well.

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Vegan Broccoli Soup with Avocado-Jalapeno or Basil oil or Gremolata

INGREDIENTS

2 large heads of broccoli (or two pounds florets)

2 large onions – chopped

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1 large potato – cubed

8-10 cups of vegetable stock – depending on how thin or thick you like your soup

S&P to taste

2 TBS olive oil

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GREMOLATA

1/2 cup parsley – chopped very fine

4-5 garlic cloves – minced

1/4 cup lemon zest

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OR BASIL OIL

1 packed cup of fresh basil

3/4 cup high quality olive oil

Salt to taste

JALAPENO -AVOCADO

Sliced avocado

diced jalapeno

cilantro

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot.  Cook the onions until they are soft & translucent.  Add broccoli, potato, parsley and the stock.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low & simmer.  Once the broccoli & potato are tender – puree in batches or use an immersion blender.  Blend until very smooth.  If the soup is too thick – add a bit of water.  If it is too thin, cook it over med-low heat until it reduces to the thickness you prefer.

Zest the lemon, chop the garlic & parsley.   Blend them in a small bowl.

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BASIL OIL –

Blanch the basil in boiling water for 10-20 seconds than plunge into ice water.  Squeeze out the water & puree in a food processor with olive oil & salt to taste.  Go light on the salt.  Set aside.

Serve the soup with either the avocado/jalapeno combo or a drizzle of basil oil or a hefty portion of the gremolata.  MMMMM!

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Spicy Vegan Corn Chowder with Coconut Cream, Cilantro & Lime

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

I apologize for posting so many straight recipes & no adventures lately.  Year end expenses etc have kept me pretty much at home and alone nearly every day & night for at least the last month.   If I blow off the gym, as I did in the week between Christmas & New Years, I can go days & days without ever seeing another human, outside of Ed, my early morning donut dealer.  As fascinating as I’d like to consider myself – a month of watching Maury reveal paternity results & MSNBC squawk on & on about fake crises like the fiscal cliff & the debt ceiling has left me with something akin to a test pattern humming in my head & my jaw slack.  And weekends are worse. I fucking hate “Caught on Camera” which is MSNBC’s new weekend wall-to-waller for injury fetishists.  And SOMEHOW it got DVR’ed – so the fucking series is getting recorded every time it plays and I cannot figure out how to cancel it.  And Lock Up?  Seriously.  They run Lock Up marathons on MSNBC sometimes from Friday night at 7 through Sunday evening, only breaking for the insufferable Meet the Press.  Who watches six hours of prison inmates with tattooed faces & then thinks to themselves, “You know what I am in the mood for now?  Another hour of prison inmates with tattooed faces, bitchez!”   Ugh.

So – I sit in my kitchen & stare blankly at my TV and simultaneously play the 40 million Scrabble & Words with Friends games I have running – 30 million of which are with my mother who is the best GD word game player ever – in real life.  But on the iphone apps – she mostly just phones it in (get it?) – and I feel like I am doing endless homework way beneath my intellectual ability.  I am a hamster stuck in a Habitrail repeating the same limited and mindless actions ad infinitum just waiting for death or for someone to get close enough so I can bite them.

So – I drink wine so that I at least have an excuse for the stupid look on my face and I cook.  And cook.  And I eat some and freeze more & then I cook.  I wish I had more mouths to feed here & more money to do it with because the cooking is the best part of my days but I can’t just endlessly cook food in quantities I cannot possibly consume just so I can be distracted & then take some pretty pictures.

Aren’t you glad NOW that I have been keeping to myself?

OK – so – yesterday I had a bunch of fresh corn to use.  Again – I challenged myself to make a dish that didn’t require a grocery store run.  I wanted to make a corn chowder but I had no dairy or soy milk or anything like that in the house.  But I DID have cans of both coconut milk & coconut cream.  Not knowing the difference (having never yet used coconut cream) – I opted to use the cream version.  I still don’t know what the difference is.  Once I broke up & blended the solid chunk of whatever at the top of the can – it looked & tasted like coconut milk to me.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

Coconut cream is very similar to coconut milk but contains less water. The difference is mainly consistency. It has a thicker, more paste-like consistency, while coconut milk is generally a liquid. Coconut cream is used as an ingredient in cooking, having a mild non-sweet taste.

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Anyway – coconut cream/milk is a perfect substitute for the dairy in  this chowder.  The fresh corn is the real key here so try to use fresh corn rather than canned or frozen.  The fresh corn is far sweeter than the coconut cream & overpowers the coconut almost completely.  In fact – my boyfriend says he hates coconut but I bet if I served him this chowder – he would never guess what it was made from.

This is easy as pie.  And really good!  If you do not like spicy food, omit the jalapenos & hot sauce.  If you cannot find red jalapenos (or are eschewing them entirely) add some diced carrots or diced red bell pepper – just for color.

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Spicy Vegan Corn Chowder with Coconut Cream & Cilantro

INGREDIENTS

8 ears fresh corn on the cob

1 13.5 oz can of coconut cream or coconut milk (light version if you prefer)

1 large potato – peeled & diced

1 large onion – diced

2 (or more) jalapenos (red if possible) – seeded & diced (use a red bell pepper here if you do not like spice)

4 cups vegetable stock

2 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)

1 lime

fresh cilantro

olive oil

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Cut the corn from the cobs.  Take the dull side of a large knife & run it down all sides of each corn cob with a bit of pressure – over a bowl.  This is called “milking the corn.”  Reserve this corn milk.

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Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a stock pot.  Add the onion & jalapenos & saute until the onions are soft & translucent.  Add potato & corn & stir.  Add the stock, hot sauce, corn milk & the coconut milk.  Stir.  Add about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low & simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potato & corn are tender.

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See the corn “milk” mush on the top??

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With a slotted spoon, scoop out some (maybe a cup or two) of the solid veggies & reserve in a bowl.  You will use this later to garnish the soup when you serve it.

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With a blender or food processor or immersion blender – puree the remaining soup.  Add S&P to taste.  At this point – you can squeeze in the juice of half a lime – or you can opt to serve the soup with lime wedges & let folks control the amount of citrus in their chowder.

To serve – ladle some puree into bowls.  Top with a spoonful of the solid veggies & some more chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley) and a wedge of lime.  Fresh cracked pepper – more hot sauce?  Your call.

Some crispy fried shallots would be pretty nice on this – as would a good drizzle of basil oil.

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