Category Archives: Carbo Loading

Delicious, Delicious Bean Snack

I’m making an effort to cook with more beans, because it seems like a responsible, healthy, and delicious thing to do. This is made a lot easier by the wide assortment of mind-blowingly delicious heirloom beans Rancho Gordo offers. Since Pookie first introduced me to Rancho Gordo a few years ago, I’ve become something of a bean variety-aholic; I just can’t stop trying all the different types. One of my very favorites so far is their runner cannellini, which is an enormous, creamy, gorgeous, outrageously delicious white bean. I’m not a very adventurous bean cook, so I’d been buying runner cannellinis for the sole purpose of making this simple summer salad with them.

June 9 2008

Aw! This picture is from so long ago! It’s so cute!

Perhaps because she was tired of only eating beans in my standard chili recipe and the aforementioned salad, Pookie got me the Rancho Gordo cookbook last Christmas, and this past week I dug the book out and decided that dammit, summer shouldn’t be the only season in which we eat runner cannellinis. I was going to make “Cannellini Bean Confetti Spread with Roasted Garlic”, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop me!

Cannellini Beam Confetti Spread with Roasted Garlic, from Heirloom Beans

2 cups drained, cooked cannellini beans
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 roasted garlic cloves
5 ounces fresh goat cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
assorted crackers and crostini for serving

In a large mortar with a pestle, or in a large bowl with a potato masher, mash together the beans, 1/4 cup olive oil, and roasted garlic until a thick, chunky paste forms. Work in the goat cheese until it is incorporated. Stir in the Parmesan, chives, and olives. Stir in a bit more olive oil, a little at a time, until the spread is thick but still moist. Season generously with salt and pepper. You will have about 3 cups. Serve at room temperature with assorted crackers and crostini for dipping.

January 29 2011

Oh my goodness. That? Was so good. We served it on slices of the world’s easiest-to-bake bread, and felt totally responsible and bean eat-y. This is a foodstuff that could easily become a habit.

[Posted by Schnookie]

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Filed under Carbo Loading, Veggie Perfection

Cooking A New Recipe! WOO HOO!

Regular readers of IPB Living will know that, while I claim to like to cook, I have a pretty narrow scope, and tend to fall into ruts. This is probably a result of my doing all my grocery shopping on Mondays after work, and often doing my weekly menu planning on the fly while I’m in the store. I am not at my cognitive best after a Monday at work. And so we end up eating lots of Schnookie Tacos and chili. You can imagine, then, how excited I was to discover a new recipe in the month’s Food & Wine at just the right time of the week that I was able to plan ahead to make it on Saturday night (our traditional pasta night). I’m so put-together! Heh.

The recipe in question is Baked Orecchiette With Pork Sugo, something totally unlike anything I’ve ever made before.

September 27 2008

It was a time-consuming venture, as is anything that involves slow-cooking pork shoulder, but other than thinking to get everything started a few hours ahead of dinnertime, it was a nice, leisurely cooking adventure. There was only moderate chopping involved, to which I added a bit by peeling and chopping some fresh tomatoes rather than using canned, and other than that, it was just a question of gradually adding each new layer of flavor. First the pork, then the onions, garlic, celery and carrots, then the tomatoes, the wine and thyme, the chicken stock, and then simmering it all until it’s falling-apart tender. Then came the odd (to me) step of pulsing the cooked pork in a food processor until it’s all pulled apart — I was terrified I was going to end up making a smooth pork puree rather than a chunky pulled-pork sort of texture. But a light touch on the “pulse” button was all I needed (along with a fortifying swig of wine), and I ended up with a sauce that was just insane. I could have stopped right then and just eaten that as a soup. But adding pasta? And cheese? And baking it? That’s like taking “delicious” and ratcheting it up by a factor of a thousand.

Baked Orecchiette With Pork Sugo

This tasted like something you’d get at a nice restaurant, not like something I cooked at home on a lazy Saturday spent playing MarioKart Wii. It was one of those dinners where we all just eat in total silence, focusing hard on savoring every phenomenal bite. My plan for this recipe is to make it a bunch more times in rapid succession, so I memorize how to make it. And then I can include it in my routine of the mundane and everyday. Because every day should be this scrumptious.

(Post by Schnookie)

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Filed under Carbo Loading, Hearty Meals

Sweet, Heavenly Bacon

There is a farm not far from where we live that raises heirloom beef, pork and poultry, but because we’re complete losers, we’ve been too chicken to drive up to the main office there to actually buy stuff from them. We’ve been hemming and hawing for years about it, and finally this week, while on a mission to buy a Boston butt for pork tacos, Boomer decided to stop in and check them out. Naturally, they didn’t have Boston butt, but they did have bacon ends, and we can’t ever say no to bacon. So Boomer left with a pound of really fatty-looking chunks of slab bacon and a dozen eggs, just to give them a try.

Pookie was working on Saturday, so it gave us a great opportunity to have a bacon scramble, since Pookie hates eggs. I diced up a bit of the slab ends, cooked them up, scrambled them into the eggs, and then proceeded to fall deeply and irrevocably in love. The eggs were not discernibly better than the organic ones from my bobo grocery store, but the bacon? “Sublime” does not begin to do justice to it. It was sweet, buttery, and rich without any of the heavy, salty, overwhelmingly smoky baconness I’m used to. There was definitely a smokiness to it, but it was a light, fresh woodsmoke kind of flavor, like the taste equivalent of when you get a whiff of a neighbor’s chimney smoke on a clear winter day. I already held bacon near the top of my list of Greatest Foodstuffs On Earth, but this iteration of it may very well put it over the top.

I hadn’t put together any concrete plans for what I was going to make for dinner that night, other than that it was going to be pasta, as Saturday is our traditional pasta night. After licking my plate clean upon gobbling up all of my bacon scramble, I decided I had to make something with more of the bacon in it.

I started out by thinly slicing about five small onions, then caramelized them. Then I removed them from the pan and tossed in my diced bacon. The amazing thing about this bacon is that, despite being just a bunch of fatty slab ends, when rendered it gave up very little grease. I never had to pour off any excess, or deal with nasty splattering. It was just delicious, delicious bacony goodness.

Once the bacon was browned, I returned the onions to the pan, and then stirred in about four whole canned tomatoes which I’d finely chopped. I let the whole thing simmer until the tomatoes had broken down and then I added some chopped flat-leaf parsley (I was surprised to discover I still had some frozen from our garden’s final harvest last Fall). With a nice sprinkling of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, it was good to go. And because I’d been drinking, I took a bunch of pictures.

We had this tossed with linguine fini and parmesan cheese, and I have to say, it was simply delicious.

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Filed under Carbo Loading, Meats Meats Meats

The Garlicky Fruits Of Spring

The other day Pookie emailed me at work to say, “Check out this link — we need to investigate this green garlic thing!” I proceeded to spend a delightful afternoon reading the rest of Farmgirl Susan’s wonderful blog, and then Pookie and I hatched plans to double-plant our garlic bed next year so we could have bundles of green garlic in the Spring. Meanwhile, our regularly-planted garlic bed was taunting us with its massive stalks of allegedly delicious early-season green delicacy.

That stuff is huge! It could feed a family of three like ours for months! We were oh-so-tempted to pull up just one stalk, just to see what it would taste like… and then it came to us, like a bolt from the blue. The previous owners of our house had made a half-assed effort to put in an raised bed for a veggie garden behind the garage, where it wouldn’t be an “eyesore” but also doesn’t get a ton of sun. When we put our grape vines back there, we noticed there were a few little plastic tags from nursery plants in the soil, from a couple of tomatoes and, surprisingly, some garlic. The soil in the bed is too clay-y for the heads to develop, but last Spring we availed ourselves of the scapes from the second generation of garlics coming up in the bed. This spring? We were going to help ourselves to the green garlic instead of waiting on the scapes.

Thank you, previous homeowners! This was so exciting — a new delicacy!

I decided to prepare it basically exactly the way Farmgirl Susan recommended, sauteing the finely-chopped garlic in a fair deal of butter until it’s soft, then tossing it with pasta, salt, freshly ground pepper, and, in my case, a splash of olive oil. I also added some ribbons of prosciutto, then shaved some Parmagiano-Reggiano on top. What we ended up with has some serious potential.

The green garlic was so light and freshly garlicky, without any mature garlic harshness. However, I really didn’t have enough of it to go with as much pasta as I was cooking. So next year, when we plant tons of garlic, this is going to be awesome. I can’t wait!

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Filed under 5. May, Carbo Loading, Garden, Harvested, Lessons Learned, We Grew This

My Old (Read: “Actual”) Favorite Meal

A few days ago I wrote about a “Southwestern Green Chicken Chili” soup that I declared my new favorite meal. I may have been exaggerating a little bit in my enthusiasm for this newfound dish. You see, this weekend I broke with my self-imposed seasonal-eating rules and made what has been my long-standing favorite meal, and I was reminded anew that some upstart chili/soup thing, no matter how tasty, has a long way to go before it’s the dish I want to eat on my birthday.

So, my reasserted favorite meal is, unsurprisingly, a pasta dish (hey, I don’t maintain this Olympian physique by avoiding carbs, you know), and, unsurprisingly, comes from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials Of Italian Cooking. I first made this about seven years ago, and quickly memorized the recipe. I don’t know, at this point, if I’m still doing it the way the recipe was written, so don’t go blaming this on Marcella if it looks wonky.

The sauce starts with a pound of sweet Italian sausage, without casings, which you brown up in a dutch oven or large saucepan with a tablespoon or two of extra-virgin olive oil. Then I add two or three yellow onions, chopped, to the pan, and saute until the onions are translucent and very soft. Then I add two yellow bell peppers and three red bell peppers, which have been peeled (with a vegetable peeler — yes, it’s a total pain in the ass) and diced, and saute until the peppers are soft. Then I toss in about five small tomatoes, which have been peeled and diced. (In the summer, when I have lovely, huge tomatoes, I use two. This time of year, when I break down and buy the nasty-assed tomatoes in the store, I use five of those little ones that come on the vine. Marcella says to use plum tomatoes, which are, traditionally, the only thing in the grocery store out of season that tastes like a tomato, but I’ve found that my store carries really heinous plum tomatoes.) (And yes, the peeling of the tomatoes is another pain in the ass, with the scoring the skins, dumping in boiling water, then dumping into an ice bath. This recipe sure has a lot of steps in it that I hate, now that I think about it…) Then I season with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and let everything simmer until the tomatoes break down a bit and get a nice, saucy consistency.

Now, Marcella’s recipe mentioned some kind of pasta shape that was supposedly traditionally perfectly suited to this sauce, but please. It wasn’t in my store, and I wasn’t about to make it. So I decided that I’d go with a very grown-up pasta shape, something that would reflect my maturity as a home chef:

wagonwheelpastasmall.jpg

Yeah, that’s right — wagon wheels. The first time I brought this in as leftovers for lunch at my current job, one of my coworkers actually laughed at me. But in all seriousness, these hold this sauce perfectly. The De Cecco brand noodles (my favorite) have nice ridges that cling to the delicious bell pepper-tomato sauce part, and the holes in the wheels grab onto the bits of onions and bell peppers and sausage. I really don’t understand why Marcella didn’t go with the wagon wheels to start out with. It’s probably because she’s not six.

Anyway, the last step, after tossing the sauce and noodles, is to top everything with a hearty grating of fresh parmesan cheese, and there you go. My favorite dinner. I love this so much. I love it with a glass of white wine on a Saturday night with hockey, I love it microwaved for lunch, I love snacking on it cold out of a tupperware. This is, bar none, my favorite meal.

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Filed under Carbo Loading

Slow-Cooked Saturday

Last night was the final night of my Week Of Trying, which meant it was time for a new recipe for a pasta dish (since Saturdays are our traditional wine-and-pasta-and-hockey nights). I decided to go to the always-reliable Marcella Hazan for something exciting and unlike what we normally eat on Saturdays, and The Essentials of Italian Cooking didn’t let me down. It was with great eagerness that I opted for her “Smothered Onion Sauce”, which is basically just a whole bunch of caramelized onions tossed with spaghetti noodles.

In order to get this started, I needed six cups of thinly-sliced onions. I am not a good onion-chopper, and after getting advice from Katebits that goggles really do work to solve the crying-while-cutting-onions problem, I decided it wouldn’t be stupid to ask for Baker’s Catalog’s onion goggles this past Christmas. Pookie and Boomer came through for me, and let me tell you, these things are a miracle. Armed with my goggles and a glass of wine, I was confident in my ability to chop as many onions as Marcella could throw my way.

oniongogglessmall.jpg

I know. You’re wondering how I make cooking so sexy. What can I say? I was born with it.

My grocery store was stupid this week, and they only had wee little onions the size of golf balls (and yes, there’s an insult about the relative masculinity of my grocery store in there). So in a perfect world, I’d only need to slice up, like, four onions. Instead, I had this:

onionsinbowlsmall.jpg

My goggles are a beast. I got through the pile like a breeze, and before they even knew what hit them, they were sliced up and ready to be caramelized.

choppedonionssmall.jpg

The recipe said to put the onions and a sprinkling of kosher salt in a pan with two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of olive oil, and let them cook, covered, over low heat for about an hour, until they’re soft. Then take the lid off, turn the heat up to medium and cook them for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’re all golden brown and all the liquid the onions have given off has evaporated. Done and done.

caramelizedonionssmall.jpg

Then you stir in 1/2 cup of dry white wine and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid “bubbles away” (I love Marcella Hazan’s way of writing recipes). Season liberally to taste with fresh ground black pepper and salt (I used sea salt), then stir in two tablespoons of fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley and toss with pasta. She recommends spaghetti, and I went with linguini fini. Once everything is incorporated, top the whole kit and caboodle with a nice grating of fresh Parmesan (about 1/3 cup, per the recipe).

smotheredonionsaucesmall.jpg

This pasta is so delicious. Caramelized onions are basically nature’s candy, and their sweetness here, balanced with the salting and Parmesan cheese, was just perfect. The sauce ended up very smooth, and had enough syrupy liquid to it that it coated the noodles deliciously. Basically, I had a love affair with this dinner. And I think it reciprocated.

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Cinnamon Buns Mean Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

Last week Boomer was out of town, so Pookie and I slummed it, eating frozen pizza literally four nights in a row. By the time this weekend rolled around, I was ready to cook for reals, and I had the added encouragement of a house guest. Now, CapsChick is a good friend, and someone I really shouldn’t have felt compelled to show off for (especially considering we spent the entire weekend in pajamas watching hockey on TV), but I couldn’t help it. The urge to make cinnamon buns was just too strong.

A Healthy Way To Start Your Day

I used the recipe from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”, and it was simple and clean. The dough was buttery and a bit chewy (kind of donuty, actually), and afforded me the chance to play with my new lemon extract. I had some trouble with my first proof on Friday night, since the kitchen was cold, but once Pookie and Boomer talked me into moving the dough-rising bucket next to the blazing-hot lamp in the back of our living room, things were back on track. I’d planned on trying out refrigerating the dough overnight, and was totally freaked out by that, so imagine my delight to discover instructions in the recipe for doing just that! After a few hours of proofing the rolled and cut buns on Saturday morning, the buns baked up gorgeously. Then the recipe for the glaze gave me a chance to play with my orange extract, which was almost more excitement than I could handle. The end result was rich, succulent cinnamon buns with a fresh, citrusy zing that didn’t overpower the sugary, cinnamony, buttery goodness of the breadmeats. I’m not really even someone who likes cinnamon buns that much, but I loved these.

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Filed under Baked Goods, Carbo Loading