Sunday, February 27, 2005

Pasta with bacon, peas, sage, and cream

If you read the previous post carefully, you'll note that I had some heavy cream on hand for yesterday's corn and poblano soup. I still had about half of the carton left over and, what with the foul weather and all, I decided to make something comforting. And what better to do with heavy whipping cream than to pair it with bacon? I don't usually go into great detail for recipes on this blog, but I'm very happy with the way this came out, and, should you want to try it yourselves, I'd like you to be able to. So here goes, roughly:

2 medium shallots or 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
a palmful of sage leaves, thinly sliced (I had to run out to my garden in the rain)
1-1.5 cups frozen peas, at room temperature
3 strips of bacon, cut into half inch pieces
1 cup heavy cream
half a pound bowtie pasta
salt and pepper(I ran out of the latter, but it would have been nice)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
2. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and render the fat from the bacon. When the pieces are crisp and their fat has liquified, remove them to dish and drain off all but 1-2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
3. Add the slivered shallots and saute until soft, 2-3 minutes. Season with pepper. Add sage and saute another 30 seconds.
4. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add cream and return to low heat. Stir frequently until sauce has thickened slightly. Depending on how salty your bacon is, you might not need salt. Check now though.
5. Add peas and bacon to sauce.
6. By this point, your water should be boiling. Add pasta and stir frequently.
7. Drain pasta. Do not rinse. Add to sauce and toss to coat.

Mexican dinner

With the exception of the occasional quesadilla, I havn't done much Mexican cooking in a while. I guess I was inspired by the recent opening of a new Latin American grocery in Bradenton. Whatever the case, I dug out my Rick Bayless book and browsed through it before going shopping at the Red Barn yesterday morning. What I came up with was a recipe for crema de elote--essentially a smooth cream of corn soup with roasted poblano chiles. Compared to some of the other recipes in the soup chapter, this one was a breeze. Unlike the spicy crab soup on the next page, I didn't need to begin by boiling, disassembling and picking the meat from eight blue crabs. Unlike the posole recipe, I needn't scrub and split a small ("roughly 4 lbs") pig's head. No, for this, all I had to do was start by roasting and choping some poblanos. I then cut the kernels off of three ears of corn, scraped the last bits of corn milk from the cobs, and tossed both into a blender with some water, corn starch, and a bit of minced onion and garlic that I'd sauted in butter. This mixture was pureed to a paste--liquified, according to my blender. This paste, which looked, not surprisingly, like creamed corn, was added to a pot with two more tablespoons of butter. It was allowed to thicken over the heat for a few minutes before being thinned again with two cups of whole milk. After simmering for another 20 minutes, I passed the soup through a strainer, and added it back a clean pot with a cup of heavy cream and the minced roasted poblanos. After simmering for another 10 minutes, I seasoned it with some salt and it was ready to serve with crumbled queso fresco and some chopped parsley. The latter sounded strange to me, but I usually try to follow a recipe exactly on the first try. It tasted alright, but it was a strange contrast in texture with the smooth soup.

Overall, I was very happy with the final product. Poblanos aren't incredibly spicy chiles to begin with, and they were further calmed by the roasting and the addition of all the dairy. Still, the soup had some heat to it, and that complimented the sweetness of the fresh corn very nicely. I must appologize that there's no picture of the soup. A rainy day is good for eating soup, but not for photographing it.

The photo you see above is shrimp fried with mashed garlic and sliced guajillo chiles. I fried them in vegetable oil with the shell on in order to get some of that toasted crustacean flavor. I achieved it on a few, but I should have cooked them in several smaller batches. Next time. The flavor was right on though, reminding me of shrimp I'd had in Merida as a kid.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

This morning

The light from my kitchen window was particularly nice around 9 a.m. so I decided to have some fun with what was in the fridge.

This month's Gourmet had a recipe for dates soaked in espresso, cardamom and cinnamon. Here's one now:

Tonight I'll serve them over yogurt.

Last week a co-worker brought in a jar of lemon-vanilla marmalade. I believe it will go on some griddle cakes tomorrow morning.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Who brought forth life from the soil? This guy.

When blogs collide

Light and dark; hot and cold; matter and anti-matter; pasta and antipasta.

Last night I collaborated on a meal with that suppin' simian, Kitchen Monkey. He's probably still sleeping off that meal, but keep an eye out, he'll probably have pictures soon. Neither of us know much about Indian cooking, although we've dabbled here and there. While he took on the task of a main course--a red curry with chicken, basmati rice, and naan--I took care of some sides--mango chutney, lemon pickle, papadams, paneer, and mint lassi. It worked out pretty well this way, as the meal seemed fairly well rounded and, had only one person tried to prepare all of that, it would have been a far greater undertaking. With the exception of the lassi, I prepared all of the sides beforehand at my place.

I'd made the lemon pickle and the paneer once before. I think back on those fondly, as neither came out as well this time. Still, both were passable, tasty even. But again, this was only my second attempt at either. Despite longtime family friend and chutney master Phillilp Simmons loaning me Yamuna Devi's _Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking_, my paneer and pickle recipes came from an episode of Oliver's Twist. One British source for another I guess (Phillip, not Yamuna). For the mango chutney, I did follow Phillilp's recipe, which I'm not sure I'm allowed to make public. Not that I really have a 'recipe,' anyway. It's more of a list of ingredients with some loose procedure. The papadams were premade, I simply fried them in some vegetable oil.

For the lassi, I did turn to Devi's doorstop of a cookbook, as I wanted to try to make this favorite of mine correctly. Also, I'm always looking for ways to chip away at my bottle of rosewater. This version of the traditional Indian yogurt cooler included vanilla yogurt, sour cream, fresh mint, toasted and ground fennel seeds, superfine sugar (I just pulsed regular sugar in a food processor), rose water, cracked ice, and a little water. I think I followed the proportions on the recipe the first time, but after that I just eyeballed it. Really, just whiz it all in a blender.

Of the five things I prepared, I think I'm happiest with the chutney and the lassi. I would consider making both of them again, soon. See KM for his side of the story.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Yesterday a few of us drove out to Cortez, a small fishing village to the northwest of Sarasota. I just tagged along really. Guapo and Dan had longstanding plans to go get oysters. I'd never been to Cortez, despite my lengthy frustration with the inadequate seafood in the Sarasota area. Now I'm only mildly frustrated, as the Star Fish Company has great seafood, but it's still a bit of a hike from home. My grumblings aside, we left with 200 oysters and five pounds of live crawfish. The crawfish didn't exactly go willingly, but they were far less fiesty than the crabs we cooked for new year's eve. Still, both were breeze when compared to epic battle scene that took place that afternoon at Alameda. These were no regular oysters, the largest being 8-9" in length. Many a shell was chipped and many a knuckle bruised. Everyone seemed to have fun though. The excitement shown by the hosts definitely rubbed off as many people who never thought twice about an oyster bellyed up to the coffin-sized cooler, shiv in hand, ready to suck down one of the briney filter-feeders.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


Actually, I had ham and eggs at about eight this morning, so I guess that was breakfast. This was somewhere around 11:30. Alas, I didn't pick the strawberries this time. They came from the Red Barn. The granola and yogurt are both courtesy of Whole Foods. I still havn't been able to find the Stonyfield maple yogurt anywhere, although this Brown Cow brand maple yogurt is a close second.

I recently outfitted my camera (Canon Digital Rebel) with a new macro lens--a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM. So, if in the future, there are more pictures that look like something out of Asimov's Fantastic Voyage, you'll know why.