Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tagliatelle with Brussels Sprouts, Walnuts and Gorgonzola

Pasta with brussels sprouts, walnuts and blue cheese

This is not the pasta I ate tonight. Today I practiced making tortellini for my upcoming midterm and made a big batch of marinara. But what if, say, you're watching your team fumble themselves out of the playoffs and you just don't have time for homemade pasta? Or you have a bunch of brussels sprouts and you're sick of roasting them? Then this is the pasta for you, my friends.

This is not a subtle dish to be sure. Brussels sprouts can be bitter if overcooked so make sure you don't cover the pan when they're cooking, and don't stir too often! You want to make sure they get some nice golden brown bits on them. Gorgonzola is a good strong blue, but I think cambozola (a triple cream blue) would be a nice choice here as well.

Tagliatelle with Brussels Sprouts, Walnuts and Gorgonzola
serves 2-4

1 1/2 lbs brussels sprouts, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or more)
2 ounces (ish) gorgonzola or other blue cheese
tagliatelle or fettucine
olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in large skillet. Saute the onion until translucent, then add the chopped brussels sprouts. Cook over medium heat until the sprouts are tender and starting to turn golden. Season with salt and pepper to taste (be generous, you're about to add a bunch of pasta).  Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet or a 350 degree oven (I use the toaster oven) for a few minutes until they smell extra nutty. Be careful not to leave toasting nuts unattended, they go from toasted to burnt in an instant.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente; note that if you're using fresh pasta this will only take a couple of minutes, otherwise the timing will depend on the type of dry pasta you choose. If you forget to start the pasta until the sprouts are ready, just turn down the heat on the sprouts and let them hang out over a super low flame for a while, it'll be ok.

When the pasta is al dente and the brussels sprouts are done to your liking, use tongs to transfer the pasta from the cooking water into the saute pan. A little water clinging to the noodles is a good thing, it'll keep everything moist. Add the toasted walnuts and toss the pasta and sprouts together long enough to heat the sprouts back up if they've been resting. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (mine needed more salt and pepper). Dish the pasta out into serving bowls and top with blue cheese and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sesame Bok Choy

Sesame bok choy

Hello again, friends. How were your holidays? Things got a little crazy for me (ahem, hence my long absence), working most days I wasn't at school and traveling a lot. We spent Thanksgiving with my parents in Maine and the week of Christmas in Oklahoma with Adam's family (including our adorable nephew Eliot, squee!).

This bok choy isn't much like what I've been cooking lately. My midterm practical exam was supposed to be yesterday but, uh, it got snowed out. Anyway, I did a bunch of practicing this past week: lemon souffles, braised beef in red wine, puff pastry to hold the beef, poached salmon with beurre blanc, roasted chicken and veloute to go with it, creme brulee, mayonaisse, hollandaise, cheese danish for New Year's Day brunch, and the list goes on. Please note how much butter and cream and wine goes in all of these things. Oof.

Even though I still have to take the exam (it's been rescheduled to next week), this afternoon I just could not take it anymore. I wanted something simple and a little spicy, so I sauteed some greens with garlic and red pepper flakes and called it lunch.

Sesame Bok Choy
serves 2 as a side dish or 1 as a light lunch

If I had any rice in the fridge I would have put this bok choy on top of it, but I didn't. So I just ate it plain, on the couch, watchng Desperate Housewives on Netflix. And now you know how I unwind after spending the morning studying for the written exam, which is on Saturday. Heh. I found this pleasantly spicy but if you're looking for more heat, increase the red pepper flakes. The other good thing about this is that it took me all of ten minutes from getting the bok choy out of the fridge to eating. Yay! 

1 head bok choy, sliced crosswise into half inch wide strips, separated into rib pieces and leaf pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large pinch red pepper flakes
several dashes soy sauce
a few drops of toasted sesame oil
sesame seeds for garnish

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until hot but not smoking and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute, moving everything around the pan so it doesn't burn, until the garlic just begins to take on color.

Add the stem pieces of the bok choy - they take longer to cook, so adding them to the pan first ensures everything will cook evenly. Give them a minute or so until they just start to soften, then add the leaf pieces of the bok choy and continue to cook over medium high heat until the leaves wilt, just a few minutes.

Turn off the heat. Add a few dashes of soy sauce and a couple drops of sesame oil and stir it all around. Take a bite. It might need more soy sauce. Remove to a plate, garnish with sesame seeds, and enjoy.