Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Lemon Zest

Good evening, gentle reader! (Continuing the theme of sharing my gross childhood eating habits…) When I was little, one of my very favorite things to eat was straight up buttered noodles mixed with huge spoonfuls of cottage cheese.  Have you heard of this? I’m not sure how my parents thought of it, or if it’s a legitimate meal all across the country, but when I mention this noodle + cottage cheese combo to people now they typically react with undisguised horror. Poor cottage cheese gets a bad rap, I think.  A lot of people just don’t like those milky little curds! Well, anyway, this is my grown-up replacement for that comforting bowl of buttery noodles and cheese.  It is totally delicious, and wonder-of-wonders, it has vegetables in it! Martha’s original recipe calls for half a box (8 oz) of orecchiette pasta, but I just use the full pound.  Because yay for noodles! Really, give this dish a try- it’s a great weeknight meal!
Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Lemon Zest
from the ever delightful Martha Stewart
Ingredients
  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into very small florets
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/4 cup salt-packed capers, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 16 ounces dried orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss together cauliflower, onion, capers, and 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper. 
Spread vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Roast, stirring halfway through, until cauliflower is tender and browned, about 40 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add
 pasta, and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain.
  4. Toss hot pasta with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the parsley,
 and lemon zest. Add cauliflower mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Gently toss to combine.

The Arnold Palmer Quiche

Hey reader! Guess what? Tomorrow afternoon ole Andy and I are going to hop a plane to Paris!  We’re going to be gone for two weeks, in which time we’ll visit Paris, Lyon, Florence, Rome, and anywhere that strikes our fancy in between.  I am beyond excited. And when I come back, I’ll show you all of the food I ate! Also, if Molly and Helen have their way, I’ll also come back with some sort of skeleton and a small taxiderm-ied animal.  I have weird friends.  Before I go, I wanted to leave you with something delicious and vaguely Parisian, so here we go!

First off, no.  This quiche is not half lemonade and half iced tea.  But it is half for me (roasted broccoli and cheddar) and half for Andy (crispy bacon and cheddar).  So I gave it a funny name!  Make no mistake about it- this quiche is off-the-charts amazing.  If you, like me, thought quiche was just a bunch of eggs beaten with a little cream, mixed with cheese and fillings and poured into a pie shell, you’re in for a treat! This quiche, really a riff on Quiche Lorraine, is nothing less than custard, and it is so much better than the standard beaten-egg quiche.  In fact, there are only 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks in it- mixed with one cup whole milk and one cup heavy cream.  (Fun fact! This recipe comes from The New Best Recipe, the folks who are fanatical about making a recipe work perfectly every time.  They caution you to not replace 2 cups of half-and-half for the cream+milk, because half-and-half doesn’t have the same butterfat as the milk+cream mixture (11.7% compared to 20%). Science!)  Anyway, on to the recipe!

This is one of my very favorite tools- a pastry knife.  I used it to cut butter and shortening into the flour mixture.  I used 1/4 stone-ground wheat flour in addition to a cup of white because I ran out of white flour, and, er, because I’m healthy :/

Then you mix that flour/fat mixture with a little ice water, wrap it in plastic wrap, and shove it in the fridge for an hour.  Can you see the tiny hunks of butter in the dough?  That’s where the magic happens.

Then you roll the dough out and put it in your prettiest pie plate! And crimp the edges! And then it has to refrigerate for another hour 😦 Boo. But you really have to do it, or else the shell will crumple during its pre-baking.  Use this time to roast some broccoli!

After your dough has chilled, you bake the crust for 25 minutes or so, until it looks dry and starts to turn light brown.  Then you take it out of the oven and scatter shredded cheddar cheese on the crust and then put your fillings on top of that!

Action shot! You put the pie on the oven rack and pour the custard mixture on top.  And then you play… the waiting game.  When it’s all brown and set up, and only jiggles a little in the middle, you can take it out! And then wait a little longer for it to cool off. And then eat it! Oh, and if you made a bacon-half for your significant other, force them to eat some of your leftover roasted broccoli on the side.  It’s only fair.

I hope you enjoy! When I come back, I’ll regale you with tales of bread and macaroons and pasta and pecorino! It’s gonna be awesome 🙂

The Arnold Palmer Quiche
(Really: Quiche Lorraine from The New Best Recipe)

  • 1 (9-inch) pie unbaked crust (recipe follows)
  • 4 ounces (about 4 slices) bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup roasted broccoli
  • 2 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 1 cup) 

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the unbaked crust; add a layer of pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the aluminum foil and the weights. Bake crust for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, but do not turn the oven off.

2. Meanwhile, fry bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp and browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.

3. Whisk eggs, yolks, milk, cream, white pepper, and nutmeg in a medium bowl or a measuring cup with a pouring spout.

4. Spread cheese evenly over the bottom of the warm pie shell, and then top with half bacon, half broccoli, or any other toppings you wish. Set the shell on the oven rack. Pour the custard mixture into the pie shell until it’s about 1/4 inch below the rim of the crust.

5. Bake for 32 to 35 minutes (mine always takes closer to 45 minutes!) or until the top is a light golden brown and a knife blade inserted about 1 inch from the edge comes out clean. The center should feel set but soft, like gelatin. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

My Favorite Pie Crust
(from The New Best Recipe)

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 4-5 tablespoons ice water

1. Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl.  Add the shortening and cut in with a pastry knife until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and cut in with a pastry knife until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas.

2. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture.  With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix.  Press down on the dough with the broad side of the spatula until the dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if the dough will not come together. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days before rolling.

3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator (if refrigerated more than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable).  Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle.  Transfer the dough to a nine-inch pie plate and crimp the edges.   Refrigerate for another hour.

White Pizzas with Soppressata

Believe it or not, dear reader, this pizza is easy enough to be classified as a week-night dinner. And that includes making the dough from scratch! I love this recipe, because if I just pick up a couple kinds of cheese and 6 slices of soppressata from the deli, I can usually make this for dinner using only ingredients from the pantry (plus lemon thyme from the garden).  Ina, classy lady that she is, serves these pizzas topped with an arugula salad.  Andy and I choose to forgo this step.  Please to enjoy!

White Pizzas with Soppressata
Adapted from Ina Garten
Makes Two Pizzas

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm (100 to 110) water
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (4 ounces)
  • 3/4 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (3.5 ounces)
  • 3 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled
  • 6 slices good soppressata, spicy if available

Directions

  1. Combine the water, yeast, honey and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 1.5 cups of flour, then 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1/2 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.
  2. When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.
  3. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  4. Make garlic oil. Place 1/4 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees
  6. Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Place the doughs on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
  7. Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you’ve chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)
  8. Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Cut the soppressata into quarters and distribute over the cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown. Happy pizza time 🙂