armadillas


Finding giants

Boy, is it HOT! Today we reached temps of 102. I’m not even going to mention the humidity. Needless to say, I am not a happy camper. And then out of the blue, the skies darkened and opened up until the streets were flooded, lightening and thunder wrestling outside the windows. Naturally, this was the perfect time to crank up the oven and bake up a little snack.

Do you see that? That there is a giant zucchini someone brought me home today. Holy smokes, it’s the size of my thigh! Just look at it! Enormous! Obviously, there’s some kind of epidemic going on around here. The vegetables are taking over, and not just here either. It seems my cousin has had some giants growing in her garden as well.

 Wow

It’s bigger than a soda bottle

I’m telling you, I didn’t even know what to do with it. I mean, where do you even begin with something so large? After a little research, I decided to make a galette. Have you ever heard of a galette? Basically, a galette is a free form pastry found in French cuisine that can be either sweet or savory. In my opinion, it resembles a pie with extra large edges folded over with an open center. Rustic food at it’s finest! oh, how I love rustic food. I may sound crazy, but rustic food reminds me of living out in the country. Or maybe in the old country. It gives me such a feeling of comfort and contentment. It makes me think of homemade bread baking in the oven, stew on the stove, and family gathered around the table laughing and telling stories, impatiently waiting to be fed. It reminds me of grandparents and hard work and doing things the old way as opposed to the quick, easy way. It makes me want to make some ravioli from scratch. Mmm mm mmm!

But today we aren’t making ravioli. We’ll save that for later. No, today we are making galettes- mini galettes to be specific. I discovered this recipe while browsing through Smitten Kitchen’s site (which can be found here under my foodies page) and decided to give it a go with my own twist. You see, galettes are made with pastry dough and we all know how well pastry dough and I get along (not!). Well, I had a can of croissant dough in the fridge begging to be baked up so I decided to be a little innovative. Some flour and a few rolls with my handy dandy rolling pin helped me out with the pastry situation without the added frustration of trying to make it myself. I guess not all things are made from scratch in this household- not yet anyway!

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen (is it weird I always say smitten kitten in my head?)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can croissant rolls
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella
  • Basil (fresh is better but dried will do)
  • 1 tbs garlic
  • 1 egg
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Olive oil
  • Zucchini
  • Baby asparagus

In a small bowl, we’re gonna mix together all our cheeses. Make sure you really get in there because parmesan is rather crumbling and will try to escape the whole process by sticking to the bottom of your bowl. But we know better

Season cheese mixture with garlic, salt, pepper, and basil. Do this to your own personal tastes. I like really bold flavors so I tend to add…extra! Add a tbs olive oil while your at it

Next it’s time to slice up the zucchini. For obvious reason, I don’t need to slice that much. My plant is huge and the croissants aren’t going to give me that much dough. Anyway, once your zucchini is sliced up, lay it out on a paper towel and salt those babies up. This is going to pull the moisture out of your little zucchini disks. After 30 minutes (though I only wait for as long as it took the oven to preheat0, blot with the paper towel

It’s time for the fun part! Sprinkle flour onto your counter. Pop open your can of croissants. Mine yielded 8, which will give us four mini galettes. Using your rolling pin and your god-given fingers, take two triangles and make them into one square so you end up with something like this. See the difference?

Spread squares with cheese mixture. Oh yeah, now would be a good time to chop up your baby asparagus. Put that on top of the cheese

Top asparagus with blotted zucchini. You can chop it up if you like. Fold the edges over as best you can

Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over each galette, and if your as much of a garlic lover as I am, put some of that on top too. Brush your dough with some egg wash (just an egg beaten ). Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes

Voila! Not too shabby if I do say so myself. Next time, I want to try half ricotta and half cream cheese for a tangier flavor. But feel free to experiment with your favorite cheeses. Who doesn’t love cheese?

Tijuana

 

 

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Shadow

Do you know what a pasty is? Until just a few moments ago, I certainly didn’t. You see, I’ve been reading this book, American Gods, and the main character has been eating a lot of pasties in the last few chapters. Never having heard of such a thing and being the foodie that I am, I decided to investigate. After a little Google search, I came across this video which I think did a pretty good job at explaining to me what exactly a pasty is. I also added these guys to my foodies page.

The pasty, commonly known as a Cornish Pasty, has strong ties to Cornwall, England. It’s said to have been eaten by Cornish miners, who carried this all-in-one meal on the go with them around the world. Apparently, it is heartily consumed in the northern regions of the United States. Cool! Traditionally, the Cornish pasty is made with beef and root veggies- swede (rutabaga), potatoes, carrots plus onions. But after consulting a British friend of mine, it seems cheese and onion pasties are quite popular as well. Seeing that I’m a little low on stewing beef and just so happen to have both cheese and onions on hand, I think we are going to try and make those first. Vegetarianism for lunch!

You know, I did get to thinking and I’m quite positive that in the future we can play around and use all kinds of fillings in our pasty. After I try a traditional beef one, I think I would like to make a chicken and spinach pasty. You know, with some good cheese and maybe some artichokes to boot. Oh, the possibilities!

Ingredients:

The dough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 4 tbs lard/shortening
  • Water (I used about 1/2 cup…6-8 tbs)
  • Pinch of salt

The filling

  • Half an onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Dash of parsley

We will also need an egg to make an egg wash.

When it comes to making dough, I’m horrible. I just simply have not mastered the technique yet. So I am ever grateful that I have this lovely ninja to cut my butter and lard into my flour for me. Lifesaver! Well, it saves me some frustration anyway. Measure flour into your ninja (or food processor). Cut up your butter into chucks and toss that in too. Don’t forget to add the shortening! All this can be done by hand if you are better at it than I am

After several pulses, begin adding your water, only a little bit at a time. When your dough takes on the consistency of crumbs, you can stop. Presto done-o!

Dump contents onto your counter and gently work your dough crumbs into a dough ball by squeezing everything together. It doesn’t take much, just a few little squeezes. We don’t want to overwork the dough

(Your crumb-ies)

(Get your hands in there!)

(Beautiful!)

Now that your dough is nicely shaped, wrap it in some plastic wrap and send it to chill out in the fridge. Meanwhile, chop your onion and garlic. Combine with cheese. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and parsley. Throw some other herbs in if you like. The more flavor, the better

Make your egg wash by beating one egg in a bowl. It’s as easy as that. If you want, you can add a little water or milk to your wash. I’m fine with just the egg. Look! I remembered my brushes this time

Make sure to flour your surface before rolling out your dough

Remember how I said I wasn’t very good at making dough? Well, I’m not very good at rolling it out either! Practice makes perfect, practice makes perfect, practice makes perfect. Commit to your mantra!

Mmm smell your hands. Nothing like dough scented fingers. Now, using a plate as your mold, cut a circle out of the dough. Use whatever size you want. I decided to make one big one, but I bet little ones would be so cute! And yes, food can be cute…

Brush edges of your circle with the egg wash, then place filling to one side of the circle. We’re going to be making a crescent moon so don’t glob your filling smack dab in the center

Looks like some ham wanted to join the party. I guess we’re not going vegetarian for lunch after all

Fold filling-free portion of your circle over the filling-filled portion of your circle. Crimp edges to seal everything into a bundle of love. My crimping is primitive at best. Oh well

Before you stick it in the oven, brush everything with your egg wash. This will turn it a glorious golden brown. I personalized mine with some of the leftover dough scraps

Pop your love bundle into a 400 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes until it looks so pretty you don’t know what to do with yourself

Be patient, grasshopper. These things are piping hot little ovens in themselves! Right now, your cheese is like molten lava and your onions like burning coals. Trust me. I scorched my tongue. Impatience is not a virtue.

Note: this cheese pasty was not too bad for my first time, but I’d bet a million fireflies it would taste even better with a little bit of chopped potato mixed in. Scrumptious. Food for champions, haha.

Tijuana


A rebel in my kitchen

As much as I love cooking, it sure is nice every once in awhile when someone else decides to cook for me. Who doesn’t love to be pampered for a change? Me, me, me! That’s right. Tonight I had every intention of stepping aside and finishing the last several chapters of American Gods by Neil Gaiman whilst someone prepared me a date-night-at-home dinner. Yup, relaxation called to me from the couch. I contemplated pouring myself a mug of vino. If I had a face mask handy, it would have been all over my face. So there I was, book open, ready to finish the last page of my current chapter….when I was called to the kitchen. Grudgingly, I flipped my book down.

That was my first mistake. I should have just stayed in the living room and let a certain someone do things however they intended to do them. Then, once my dinner was ready and being served, I would have enjoyed every last bite without complaint. Alas, this is not what happened. I was called into the kitchen and once entering, there was no turning back.

Can I admit something? I’m a bit of a control freak. Now hold on just a minute before you get your panties in a bunch and start fussing at me. Does it make it better if I say I”m only a control freak in the kitchen? I can’t help it. I walk in there and see someone fiddling around and this uncontrollable urge to take over kicks in. I try to fight it. I tried to fight it. I was all set to turn heel and work on my self control. But then I was politely asked to saute some spinach. There was my second mistake. I should have refused. It’s easy enough to throw some oil, garlic, and spinach in a pan on medium heat, right? Of course it is! I could have simply shouted some helpful tips from the other room. But no, I agreed to help, and I could feel the maniac monster begin to stir inside me. Gulp!

So, there we were in the kitchen, him draining the lasagna noodles from their boiling bath, and me discreetly (with very suspicious eyes) watching him as my spinach began to wilt. Shame on you, Tijuana. Shame shame shame! BAD LLAMA! Before I knew it, I was directing traffic, dropping instructions, and like some kind of jittery addict, moving in on the action. It was bad. I had to keep reminding myself that I was not the chef and that someone was kindly cooking me dinner. All I was supposed to do was saute the spinach!

But that’s how this rebel lasagna, as I fondly call it, has come into being. It was completely winged by my companion (who had never made lasagna before) with most of my helpful/annoying tips ignored. It was a good thing, too, because the lasagna was pretty darn tasty. A little saucy perhaps, but perfectly cheesy with a surprising kick from the sauteed spinach and pepper flakes.

Ingredients:

  • Lasagna noodles (he did three layers of three)
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt
  • 1 bag spinach
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 jar tomato sauce
  • 15 oz tub of ricotta
  • 1 bag shredded mozzarella cheese (or an Italian blend)
  • A few dashes of crushed red pepper flakes
  • A few dashes of Italian seasoning (we didn’t have any so just mixed up some basil, oregano, and parsley)

First thing is first; set a pot of water on the stove top and wait for it to boil. It’s best to do something else in the meanwhile or else your water will refuse to do anything. Let’s saute some spinach! Set a saute pan (or whatever kind of pan you have) on medium heat. Drizzle in a couple tablespoons of the olive oil. Hit that hot oil with your garlic!

Smells so gooooood! Now add the espinaca. I love that word. It’s so fun to say!

If you appreciate hot stuff like me, be generous with the crushed red pepper flakes. Can you see them?

I know it looks like a lot of espinaca (ahem spinach), but don’t worry. It will wilt down into deliciousness.

Once it looks too tempting not to eat right then and there on the spot, remove from heat and set aside

By now, your water has begun to boil. Salt it up real good and add a splash of olive oil. That’s something my dad always did. It helps prevent the noodles from sticking together into a caboodled mess.

You’re only going to cook the noodles halfway since they will continue to cook in the oven. Remove from heat and drain

Now time for the layering…which involved lots and lots of photos. Start with a layer of noodles in your baking dish, casserole dish, whatever kind of dish you plan on using

Layer of sauce please (this might have been where I started barking out directions, however much ignored they were)

Layer of shredded cheese

Look! Crazy fingers added another layer of noodles

Um, more sauce?

Oh, we need to mix the ricotta with the Italian seasonings. Someone decided to just do it in the ricotta container. How innovative. Man after my own heart!

We also decided to implement a freezer bag and pipe our ricotta

Once you’re done piping out ricotta cheese, add another layer of shredded cheese. You can never go wrong with cheese!

Oh man! Layer of spinach. Heaven! The kids will never know until it’s too late. Anyone remember that episode of Arthur?

Finally, add the final layer of noodles. My nerves rivaled poor Mrs. Bennet’s by this point

Spread remaining sauce over top layer of noodles. Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese over sauce. Hit everything with a dusting of Parmesan. Eh, add an extra dusting for all your hard work. Your oven should be preheated to 375 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes

When your timer starts a-dingin’, crank  your oven up to broil and let the cheese get all bubbly and maybe even a little burnt looking if you share my sense of taste

Thanks my lover (Sookie reference!) for such a fabulous dinner. It sure was yummy. The only way I can think of ending such a wonderful evening…is by snuggling on the couch and watching The Emperor’s New Groove. You know, now that it’s on my mind. I guess the book is just going to have to wait til tomorrow

Tijuana