Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tomato Summer Pasta

You know, I swear this looked 20x better
 on my phone then it does here.  Can someone
PLEASE teach me how to take pictures??

My daughter and I have a ritual whenever the man of the house is gone for the evening.  We like to come home, watch a couple episodes of My Little Pony, and eat her favorite pasta.  You see, my friends, my daughter thinks that I am a culinary genius.  She has no idea that her favorite pasta recipe is the easiest thing in my repertoire (in case you are wondering, I had to look up the spelling of that word.  Perhaps I should have paid more attention in school...)

I feel silly posting this as a recipe, but hey, I should probably have something original on my blog, no?  It is so simple and is best with the freshest ingredients you can find.  Use this recipe as a rough guide - add more tomatoes, more basil, less pasta, more cheese, different spices - switch it up.  Just make it.  You won't be disappointed (and someone may think you are a genius too!)

Tomato Summer Pasta
(Serves 2)
4 oz. whole wheat spaghetti (we prefer thin spaghetti)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes
Fresh herbs (basil, parsley, chives, green onions, etc.)
2 garlic cloves or 1 heaping tsp. of minced garlic

Cook pasta according to the directions on the package. 

While the pasta is cooking, add olive oil to a skillet and warm it up on medium heat. 

Next, go ahead and cut up those tomatoes.  If you are using cherry or grape tomatoes, cut them in half.  If you are using large tomatoes, cut them horizontally into large circles, then dice up into 1" pieces.  You want to keep big chunks of tomato here.  Ya hear me?  No bitty pieces!!

Grab a handful of herbs - whatever you like best.  We usually go for a ton of basil and then some other additions - tonight was parsley, chives and green onion.  Yes, I know it's two different items from the onion family, but go with me on this one.  Chop up the herbs roughly - no need for fanciness here.  I'm sure thyme, rosemary or oregano would be fabulous in this as well.

If you are using fresh garlic cloves, mince them up.  Otherwise, go ahead and do the hard work of opening up that jar and putting a little spoon in it to get garlic.  Go ahead, we'll wait.

When the pasta is almost ready (about 1 minute to go), place the minced garlic in the pan and let it brown for about 30 seconds - you don't want it to get black and bitter, just warmed up to release the wonderful flavor.  Take a ladle and add about 1/4 cup of the pasta liquid into the pan (yup, straight from the pot boiling right next to you).  Once it starts to boil (this will happen within a few seconds), go ahead and add the cut tomatoes to the skillet. 

Right about now your timer will be going off, so drain the pasta and then add into the skillet.  Stir it around a bit and then add the chopped herbs.  Let it sit for about 30 seconds, just to get all those flavors to marry and have cute little flavor babies. 

Dish it up and serve with your favorite cheese.  (Parmesan?  Yes!  Mozzarella?  Of course!  Cheddar?  What?  Yup, my kid is nuts.  I blame my midwestern roots.)  And, if you are lucky, you get to drink water instead of milk with dinner, because your mama said it was okay tonight.

(Okay, you can watch My Little Pony while you eat it.  I won't judge.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chocolate Ice Cream with a Marshmallow Fluff Swirl

Moments before devouring...
My kitchen may or may not be splattered with chocolate.  I may or may not have just licked a ice cream maker clean and finished it off with a dollop of marshmallow fluff.  I'm not saying, but if it did happen, it would all be the fault of this man.

The littlest member of our family requested homemade Phish Food ice cream.  Always game for making something with chocolate (duh!), I decided to start off easy and just do the two most important parts (in my mind) - chocolate ice cream with a marshmallow swirl.  I'm not a fan of hard chunks of marshmallow in my ice cream, so the obvious choice was marshmallow fluff.  Let's get started!

After searching the web, I settled on a recipe from Bon Appetit.  The fluff is soft and light, and was delicious on our s'mores pancakes that we devoured on Sunday.  There was plenty for the ice cream and then some (I still have at least 2 cups sitting in my fridge - ideas??)  (Update: In case anyone else is in my predictament - wait, is too much fluff a bad thing? - any extra fluff can be frozen for up to a month per my long and extensive research (a/k/a a quick Google search)).

Marshmallow Fluff
(Bon Appetit)
1 large egg white
2 tbsp. water
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat egg white in stand mixer (or use electric mixer) until soft peaks begin to form.  Lower speed, then slowly add water.  Once incorporated, add corn syrup.  Increase spread and beat until the mixture is creamy white in color and doubled in volume (approximately 5-6 minutes).  Beat in the sifted sugar, then add the vanilla extract.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge - stir or whisk vigorously before using.
The ice cream recipe was courtesy of The Perfect Scoop.  As always, David Levobitz's ice cream recipes do not disappoint.  The chocolate was deep, dark, thick and A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  What else could a girl ask for?

Chocolate Ice Cream with a Marshmallow Fluff Swirl
(The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)
2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder)
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used a combination of Ghiradelli and Callebut)
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over the medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (170-175°F on an instant-read thermometer). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight), then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.)

Once the ice cream is frozen, put a layer of chocolate ice cream (approximately 1/3 of the ice cream) at the bottom of your chosen container.  Dollop approximately 1/2 - 3/4 cup marshmallow fluff on top (I tried to pour on as thinly as possible, but there were definitely "blobs").  Repeat twice (a total of six layers).  Take a table knife and swirl gently.  Freeze and enjoy!


Official Reviews:

The husband: "I f*cking love it."
The princess: "This is better than Ben & Jerry's Phish Food".  [When asked if she would choose Ben & Jerry's or mine, she chose mine!]
The cook: "Stop bothering me, I'm licking the bowl."