Tuesday, April 12, 2011

'Baked' Ziti

Have I ever mentioned my love for Rachael Ray?
She taught me how to cook, and for that I am forever grateful.
This is one of the first of her recipes that I made, and years later, it is still one of our favorite go to dinners.

And simple? This one couldn't be simpler.
Look. I'll show ya.

cinrose elanora-5712
Mix the cooked pasta and the sauce. (I use fresh basil and oregano when I have it, but dried will do.)

cinrose elanora-5716
Then you spoon the bechamel sauce over the pasta. Lookin' good...lookin' good.

cinrose elanora-5721
One of my favorite parts is the parmesan cheese.

cinrose elanora-5733
And don't get me started on the combination of parmesan and mozzarella. Talk about yum.

cinrose elanora-5741
Then you throw it all under the broiler and in a couple minutes...out comes heaven.

cinrose elanora-5759

cinrose elanora-5763

cinrose elanora-5752

cinrose elanora-5773

cinrose elanora-5767

Are ya hungry yet? I am.
Look out... you won't be happy with your local Italian restaurant anymore after this.

Fake-Baked Ziti
Adapted from Rachael Ray

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tsp oregano (fresh or dried)
2 tablespoons dried basil, or a handful of fresh, torn
1 pound penne rigate (or any other tubular pasta with lines)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
Fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste
A pinch of nutmeg
2 cups whole milk
½ cup to 1 cup parmesan cheese
1 to 2 cups shredded mozzarella

Put pasta water on to boil.

Add olive oil and garlic to a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Saute garlic in olive oil for about one minute. Add crushed and diced tomatoes, oregano and basil and let simmer 10 minutes.

Once pasta water reaches a boil, generously salt water and add pasta. Cook pasta to al dente.

To make the bechamel sauce, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a second small sauce pot over low heat. Once butter has melted add flour, stir the two together real well, and cook one minute more. Season flour mixture with salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir to incorporate. Add enough milk to cover the bottom of the pot and gently whisk until flour mixture is incorporated into milk (this will help prevent a lumpy mess to whisk out in the next step). Then add the rest of the milk and simmer on low until it thickens. Once thick, remove from heat.

Once pasta is done, drain and put back into pasta pot. Add tomato sauce to pasta and mix until the sauce and pasta are evenly incorporated. Empty pasta into a lasagna or other large baking dish. Spoon bechamel sauce evenly over top of pasta. Sprinkle parmesan over top of bechamel sauce, and then sprinkle mozzarella over parmesan.

Place pasta under a broiler until cheeses are melted, 3 to 5 minutes. (Be careful!!! I don't know about you, but the broiler and I are not friends.)

Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vanilla Bean and Blackberry Bundt Cake

I found this in my internet travels recently. It looked simple and delicious. Perfect treat to cap off a crazy weekend.....or any time really.
cinrose chino-4797

cinrose chino-4798
I just love bundt cakes. Just enough frills to make the simplest cake look fancy.

cinrose chino-4810
It's "National (*insert your last name here*) Eat What's Already in the Pantry and Freezer Week" at our house. I had frozen blackberries. They called to me from the freezer. I had no choice but to oblige.

cinrose chino-4823

cinrose chino-4834
The glaze is best if thick. However, it's a little hard to apply when you're in the middle of a nervous breakdown....don't ask. And thus, this is about all you'll ever see of this particular icing job. It was a mess. Next time, perhaps some deep breathing exercises prior to icing......

cinrose chino-4852
And voila!

cinrose chino-4845
Can you see all the little speckles of vanilla?

cinrose chino-4850
Is your mouth watering yet???

cinrose chino-4840

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake
adapted from sweetapolita.com

for the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste (or 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise, or 2 tablespoons vanilla extract)
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 12oz bag blackberries (or berry of your choice)

for the glaze:
1 tablespoon Madagascar Vanilla Bean paste (or 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a bundt pan and dust with flour.

In a bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix together well.

Mix together butter and sugar in a at medium speed until pale and fluffy(about 5 minutes). Add vanilla bean paste and mix until combined. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add orange extract and mix until combined. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined. When batter is thoroughly mixed, add berries and gently mix with a spatula until dispersed evenly.

Spoon batter into pan, smoothing and spreading evenly. Gently tap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until a cake tester can be inserted and removed clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour more.

While cake is cooling, mix vanilla glaze.
Mix together confectioners sugar, heavy cream and vanilla paste together. Glaze should be slightly thick and not runny. Add either more confectioners sugar or more heavy cream until glaze is the desired consistency.

Once cake is cool, spoon on glaze.