Creamy Carbonara

Creamy CarbonaraI love this recipe, and I always think that I have already posted this recipe, but no! This is one of my favorite go-to recipes when I haven’t gotten to the grocery store or at the end of the month when funds are low. It’s such a delicious recipe–the eggs become creamy, and the sauce is mildly garlicky, but not enough to turn off my kids. My kids fight over the bacon, so I usually double the amount that the recipe calls for. This really is a great, quick dinner. It comes from the The Best of  America’s Test Kitchen 2007 Annual.

Creamy Carbonara

serves 4-6

1 lb. dry spaghetti
3 fresh large eggs
8 oz. thick-cut bacon, cubed (I usually double the amount)
1 c. freshly grated Pecorino
2 T. heavy cream
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. pepper
1/2 c. dry white wine
Sea salt

1. Bring about 4 quarts of generously salted water to a boil. Whisk the eggs, Pecorino Romano, and cream together in a medium bowl; set aside.

2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl with a slotted spoon. Pour off all but 2 T. of the bacon fat. Add the garlic and pepper to the skillet and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk the garlic mixture in to the egg mixture.

3. Add the wine to the skillet and simmer over medium heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove browned bits, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk the wine mixture into the egg mixture.

4. Meanwhile, add the salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Immediately pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss to combine with 1/2 c. of the reserved cooking water. Add the bacon and thin the sauce with the remaining cooking water as necessary. Serve immediately.

Note: Curdled eggs will ruin this dish. To prevent this from happening, be sure to whisk constantly when adding the hot ingredients to the egg mixture.

Chicken Tikka Masala

This recipe isn’t nearly as complicated as I imagined it would be, and it’s worth it! I had some big chicken breasts, so they took a lot more time than I was expecting under the broiler, but otherwise, it came together pretty quickly. I actually doubled it, and I was so glad, since we had great leftovers for a few days after. I got it out of The Best International Recipe, and I served with with homemade naan bread–I’ll post that great recipe soon!

Chicken Tikka Masala
For Chicken: 
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. table salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (5-6 oz. each)
1 c. plain yogurt (see note)
2 T. vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 T. grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce:
3 T. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced (2 t.)
2 t. grated fresh ginger
1 fresh serrano chili, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note)
1 T. tomato paste
1 T. garam masala
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 t. sugar
1/2 t. table salt
2/3 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Note: This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the chile.

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm. (The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken.)

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice

This is Martha’s picture because mine was ugly.

I loved this Everyday Food recipe I tried recently. Definitely now part of the weeknight repertoire! The flavors are surprisingly bold and pleasing, and

the chicken was great, but so was the rice. So often, I’m done with the rice once the vegetables or meat are gone, but not so with this one. It’s nice that it’s so simple to–just what I need after the homework and practicing craze is over (or happening).

Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces (I just used skinless, boneless chicken thighs from Costco)
4 teaspoons curry powder (I like Garam Masala)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger (from a 3-inch piece)
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups basmati rice
1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened light coconut milk
Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lower third. Toss chicken with curry powder, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil over high. In batches, cook chicken until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes total. Transfer to a large plate.

2. Reduce heat to medium and add 1 teaspoon each salt and oil, garlic, ginger, and onion. Cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, until onion is translucent, 6 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute. Add rice, coconut milk, and 2 cups water; stir to combine and bring to a boil. Arrange chicken in pot, skin side up, cover, and transfer to oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

No-Knead Pizza Dough

Plain cheese--but what a crust!

Plain cheese–but what a crust!

This is the pizza dough I’ve been looking for, for a long, long time. It is simple, and delicious, and I even felt brave enough to slide the dough onto the

pizza stone, from an upside down baking sheet, and let it broil away (but the first time, I cooked it on sheets, and that worked well, too). I loved the crust, and it held up well. I made it for Peter’s 4th birthday last week, and looked around after the party, only to see there weren’t any leftovers. So, I made it again last Friday. Awesome. I’m loving this dough. As Bon Appetit promised, it is chewy, bubbly, crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. And, it couldn’t be easier to make. It comes from the March 2012 Bon Appetit magazine. Just one word: go on the sparse side with the toppings. If you’re more interested in thick toppings, try to deep-dish pizza crust instead. It works wonders for that.

No-Knead Pizza Dough

  • 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (1000 grams) plus more for shaping dough (can substitute up to 2 1/2 c. with whole wheat flour)
  • 4 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

1. Whisk flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 3 cups water; stir until well incorporated. Mix dough

Topped with chorizo, peppers, and goat cheese

gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball. Transfer to a large clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature (about 72°F) in a draft- free area until surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours (time will vary depending on the temperature in the room).

2. Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide into 6 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour; set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions.

3. Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Wrap each dough ball separately in plastic wrap and chill. Unwrap and let rest at room temperature on a lightly floured work surface, covered with plastic wrap, for 2-3 hours before shaping.

To make the pizzas:
During the last hour of dough’s resting, prepare oven: If using a pizza stone, arrange a rack in upper third of oven and place stone on rack; preheat oven to its hottest setting, 500°F-550°F, for 1 hour. If using a baking sheet, arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to its hottest setting, 500°F-550°F. (You do not need to preheat the baking sheet.)

Working with 1 dough ball at a time, dust dough generously with flour and place on a floured work surface. Gently shape dough into a 10″-12″ disk.

If using a pizza stone:
When ready to bake, increase oven heat to broil. Sprinkle a pizza peel or rimless (or inverted rimmed) baking sheet lightly with flour. Place dough disk on prepared peel and top with desired toppings.

Using small, quick back-and-forth movements, slide pizza from peel onto hot pizza stone. Broil pizza, rotating halfway, until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, 5-7 minutes.

Using peel, transfer to a work surface to slice. Repeat, allowing pizza stone to reheat under broiler for 5 minutes between pizzas.

If using a baking sheet:
Arrange dough disk on baking sheet; top with desired toppings. Bake pizza until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a work surface to slice. Repeat with remaining pizzas.

Mama’s Sweet Potatoes

In 2002, for my first Thanksgiving in Massachusetts, I made this recipe for a group potluck and the Legend of the Sweet Potatoes has followed me ever since.  By popular demand, I submitted the recipe to our church cookbook, and I just got a request from another friend to please send her the recipe.  So I thought I would post it here for posterity.

As a little background, I’m 3/4 Southern.  Which means sweet potatoes are very important to my family.  Also, pecans.  My mom invented this sweet potato recipe when I was in junior high and we were trying to eat less refined sugar.  While this isn’t healthy, per se, you can feel a little better about eating this than the sugar-filled, marshmallow-topped version.  Personally, I like my mom’s version better.

Sweet Potatoes

2 large cans sweet potatoes (or 3-4 medium size fresh sweet potatoes, baked in the oven or microwave until soft)
1/4 C. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C. apple cider or 1 tsp. apple juice concentrate
1/4 C. water

Blend everything together and spread into 9×13 glass baking pan.

Topping (as a confession, sometimes I double the topping)

1/3 C. flour
1/3 C. turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
1/2 C. chopped pecans
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C. butter

Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle evenly over sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are bubbling around the edges.

Masaman Curry

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a long time. It seems funny that I’m getting to it Thanksgiving Week, but it’s worth having around any time of the year. We inhale this recipe. I find the tamarind liquid at a local Asian Market on 300 S. in Provo, but I would guess many Asian markets would carry it. Fish sauce, coconut milk, and masaman curry paste can also be found at local markets, or even most grocery stores (I found that Sunflower Market has good prices on these items here). Anyway, if you still have carrots, potatoes, and even turkey (even though it calls for chicken or beef) after Thursday, this recipe is a great use! This recipe comes from a collection of recipes from the Thai Market I go to, just like the peanut sauce recipe. I serve it with sticky rice or jasmine rice. This recipe serves 6 people.

Masaman Curry

2 T. vegetable oil
1 can coconut milk (20 oz)
3 T. fish sauce
3 1/2 T. sugar
1/3 c. roasted peanuts or cashews
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ long pieces (I cut on the bias)
3 T. masaman curry paste (I get Mae Ploy, and it’s not spicy at all)
1-1 1/2 lbs. chicken or beef, cut into 1″pieces
2 T. tamarind liquid
2-3 medium size potatoes (cut into about 1″ cubes)

1. Heat a dutch oven (or large saucepan) over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil, let it heat 1-2 minutes, and then add curry paste and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.

2. Add 1/3 of the can of coconut milk, and stir fry for 4-5 more minutes, until red bubbles rise to the surface.

3. Add chicken or beef, and stir fry for 5-8 more minutes.

4. Add the remainder of the coconut milk to the pan, and then fill the milk can up 3/4 full with water, and also add the water to the pot.

5. If using chicken, add the potatoes and carrots at this point. If you’re using beef, simmer the beef for 30 minutes, or until it’s tender, then add the potatoes and carrots.

6. Add fish sauce, sugar, tamarind liquid, and roasted peanuts/cashews. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. After the curry simmers, if it’s too thick, add a little water. If it’s too runny, continue to simmer until it thickens. Serve over rice.

You can make this recipe in advance; the flavors continue to meld, even in the fridge, and taste great the next day as well.

Spicy Chicken and Cheese Tamales with Jalapeno

These tamales may be my most favorite food of all-time. I love them, but I remember them to be time-intensive, which frequently puts me off from making them. However, yesterday I

actually timed myself, and they don’t take nearly the time I had remembered. In fact, although I had tripled the recipe, the tamales were all steaming within 1 1/2 hours. So, not a quick and easy meal, but definitely do-able when the occasion calls for it. And, oh my, I think these are amazing. This recipe comes from an older copy of Joy of Cooking.

Note: I have ceased using corn husks when I make these because they are a lot more time consuming. Rather, I wrap them in aluminum foil, and they work perfectly. Not a beautiful

presentation, but very functional, less leakage, and clean-up. So I’m a fan. You should try both, but I would actually suggest using foil if you have never made tamales before.

This recipe makes 8 tamales. So definitely double it. (They freeze really well, if for some strange reason they don’t all get consumed.) I should also add that although the chicken has a little kick to it, the tamales are actually quite mild.

Spicy Chicken and Cheese Tamales with Jalapeno

For Tamale dough
4 medium ear fresh corn or 1 can corn (app. 1 1/2 c.)
2/3 c. instant grits
2/3 c. yellow cornmeal [you can substitute the grits and cornmeal for 1 1/3 c. Instant Corn Masa, an import product which is easily found in Latin American markets and even some larger grocery stores. I have had far fewer problems using the Instant Masa than the grits/cornmeal scenario, so I prefer it]
1 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 1/4 c. boiling water [if using Instant Masa, the water just needs to be warm]
6 T. butter or lard, softened
2 T. minced, seeded fresh jalapeno

For Chicken
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground red pepper
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 oz.)
1 T. butter
1/2 c. slivered onions
1/2 c. grated Monterrey Jack cheese

If using dried corn husks, soak them in boiling water for 2 1/2 hours before using. If using fresh corn husks, soak them in boiling water for 1/2 hour, as you prepare the other ingredients.

1. In a pie dish or on a plate, mix cumin, salt, chili powder, and red pepper. Coat chicken breast in this seasoning. Set aside.

2. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a skillet (that has a lid). Add the onions, stirring, until they are tender but not browned. Add the seasoned chicken breast and brown on both sides (about 3 minutes per side). Cover the skillet and cook chicken until it is done (reaches 165 F on an instant read thermometer), about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

3. Puree 1 c. of corn in a food processor. In a medium, heat-resistant bowl, combine grits, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine, then add the water and stir until smooth. At this point, the tamale dough should be stiff-ish, like polenta or cooked oats (if it’s runny, you haven’t reconstituted the grains sufficiently and this will be a problem later. I suggest microwaving the mixture for a minute or two until it stiffens]. Add the butter (or lard) and beat until incorporated. Stir in the pureed corn, the 1/2 c. remaining corn, and the jalapeno, and combine well.

4. Shred the chicken by pulling it in opposite directions with two forks. (And definitely snitch some–I love this stuff!)

5. Remove husks from water (if using), pat dry, and tear 16 thin strips from 2-3 pieces of husk to tie the tamales. Arrange two husks, slightly overlapping, side by side and alternating the tips and stem ends to form a rectangle about 9 x 7 inches. Repeat until 8 rectangles are arranged (or just make 8 rectangles of foil and proceed).  In the center of the husk, spread about 1/3 tamale dough into a 4″x 5″ rectangle with the back of a wooden spoon. Don’t worry about being a perfectionist here. Then, in the center, lay 1-2 T. chicken and 1-2 T. of cheese. Repeat with all eight. Fold the long edges of the cornhusks over the filling, slightly overlapping the edges. Twist the ends and tie each end tightly with a trip of cornhusk to form a packet. (If using foil, fold the foil in half lengthwise, fold the top edge over and continue to fold until it is close to the tamale, but leave a little room for expansion. Also crease the two sides in so tamale doesn’t spill out.)

6. Place a steaming rack large enough to hold the tamales in a single layer over 1 inch boiling water, use 2 racks and pans as necessary. Cover and steam, adding more boiling water as needed, until the corn filling is puffed up inside the cornhusks, about 35 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve warm. (I do this in my electric skillet. I place a cookie rack in the skillet, fill the skillet with water below the rack, then heat it at 400. It works well.)

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Spicy Pork Posole

I first had posole soup at a Chicago restaurant my sister took me to, and I’ve been meaning to make it home ever since, and finally found a good recipe. This recipe is from Everyday Food, but for some reason cannot be found on their website (?!!?), so I’m typing it up. I love the hominy in it. If you haven’t tried hominy yet, you’re in for a big treat. It’s corn that’s been alkalized, so it puffs and has a completely different texture and taste than corn does. The closest thing I can compare it to is garbanzo beans, but if that makes it sound gross, ignore that, because it’s not. Anyway, my Cape Verdean friends in Rhode Island use hominy in some of their great dishes, but posole is the only other dish I’ve seen it in (you can read this as a call for more great hominy recipes, if you have some). This soup is also a great, easy weekday dinner that uses many kitchen staples. Incidentally, you can leave the spice out by using only the adobo sauce, and not the chile, if you prefer the soup to be mild.

Spicy Pork Posole

2 T. olive oil
1 pork tenderloin (1-2 lbs.)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 c. water
2 (15 oz.) cans chicken broth, or 3 1/2 c. homemade chicken broth
2 cans hominy, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes, with juices
1 chipotle chile in adobe sauce, chopped (with 1 T. sauce, if you prefer)
1/2 c. chopped cilantro, stems removed
lime wedges, diced avocado, sour cream for serving (optional, but really a good idea)
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the pork tenderloin to the pan, allowing it to brown on every side, rotating it every 2-3 minutes. Remove the pork to a bowl.

2. Add the onion and garlic to the pan, salt and pepper according to taste, and then, stirring frequently, cook until tender and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add water, chicken broth, hominy, tomatoes, chipotle chile, and pork (with any accumulated juices) and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, and allow to simmer until the pork is fully cooked (between 5-10 minutes. You may want to check it with an instant-read thermometer. It should be from 160-170 degrees).

3. Remove the pork from the soup and shred it (use 2 forks and scrape the pork down with the grain). Return to soup, adjust seasonings, and allow to simmer until ready to serve. Stir in cilantro just before serving, and pass chopped avocados, sour cream, and lime wedges with the soup, if desired.

Best Beef Stew Ever

I made beef stew in the crock pot yesterday that was apparently so marvelous that my husband had to text me immediately during our Young Womens activity to tell me we should eat it every night from now on.  Then today he told me to put it on the recipe blog.  This from the guy who regularly informs me that recipe blogs are complete dullsville.  (Of course, his idea of a good time is reading economics blogs.)

I think part of what made it so great was using shredded beef.  We had the remains of 3 separate pot roasts in the freezer since there are only 2 of us and we get sick of pot roast way before we finish all the leftovers.  I thawed them and shredded them and it gave the stew a more interesting texture than my usual chopped stew meat.  But stew meat would probably be fine too, since I think the herbs were also key (and maybe the vinegar).

So here you go.  May your husband (or wife or significant other) praise you as mine praised me.

Best Beef Stew Ever

1 1/2 lbs shredded beef
6-7 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 cans salt-free diced tomatoes
2 cans beef broth (or 4 C. homemade beef broth) + 1 can water
2 T. Herbes de Provence
1 T. kosher salt
1/4 C. white vinegar

Throw everything in the crock pot, give in a good stir and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Swiss Fondue without (much) Wine

We really just do fondue on Valentines Day, but it’s a tradition I really look forward to. However, since I’m not a wine drinker, I’ve found that all the recipes I’ve tried have a little too strong of a wine taste to suit us. This year, I played with it, and I liked the result. I’ll include the original recipe amount for wine as well (the recipe comes from the Best International Recipe), because I’m sure there are many other people who feel quite the opposite of me!

Also, if you haven’t ever purchased Gruyere and/or Emmentaler, you will probably be surprised at how expensive they are (usually about $20 total for the amount needed in this recipe). You can find Gruyere at Costco at a more reasonable cost, but I’m not sure about Emmentaler. Using a nicer cheese makes all the difference, though, since the ingredient list is short, but you should definitely feel free to experiment to fit your budget and taste. In Rhode Island, we asked our Farmstead people for a good fondue mix, and they gave us some amazing cheeses, including one called Appenzeller, I believe. Here in Utah, Harmons has a really nice selection (including bags of preshredded Gruyere and Emmentaler–how convenient! But, I haven’t bought it yet). I’ve even used a mix of Gruyere and plain Swiss when things were tight, and it was fine. Not amazing, but highly edible.

Swiss Fondue

8 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded
8 oz. Emmentaler cheese, shredded
1 1/2 T. cornstarch
1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced in half
1/8 t. freshly ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 3/4 c. dry white wine
1 c. chicken stock (or broth)
1/2 c. apple juice
1/4 c. white wine (or take the wine completely out, and just use 3/4 c. apple juice)

1. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded cheeses and toss with cornstarch.

2. If you have a fondue pot, rub the inside of it with the garlic clove. If you don’t, rub the inside of a heavy-bottomed pan with the garlic. Either way, in a heavy-bottomed pan, bring the wine or chicken stock, apple juice, and wine to a simmer. Once the liquid is simmering, add the cheese a handful at a time, whisking after each addition to incorporate. Then, add the nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Transfer the cheese mixture to a fondue pot, if you have one, or simply bring the pot to the middle of the table and enjoy!

Note: When the fondue cools down, it will get stringy. You can remedy this by either having it over a sterno can, or placing it back on the stove to reheat (but DON’T put a ceramic fondue pot on the stove–it will crack. I’ve done this).

We’ve fondued many different foods, but our favorites are cooked and sliced apple chicken sausage, roasted or steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and of course, cubed french bread.