Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Asparagus Carbonara

All work and no cooking makes Leah a dull girl.

It also makes her spend way more time/money at Teaism than is healthy for a normal human being.

Often when I get home in the evening at 8 p.m. (or later), I have little desire to cook. One can only make scrambled eggs so many days, though, before a certain CCO begins to protest. Then, one has to get creative with the egg recipes. ;)

In the vein of the Honest ABE, I present to you the Asparagus Carbonara.

Eat Rating: Delicious. Nothing goes better than asparagus and bacon.
Difficulty: Very easy.

1 lb of asparagus, ends trimmed
4 slices of bacon, diced into small pieces
2 eggs
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
3/4 lb of long pasta such as spaghetti or fettuccine

In a skillet, cook the bacon pieces until browned. (LN: Alternatively, you can cook the bacon in whole strips and then chop it. It's quicker with the little pieces, though.) Drain on a paper towel and set aside.

Cut the asparagus into 1 - 1 1/2 inch chunks. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until there are 2-3 minutes left on the recommended cooking time. Then add in the asparagus.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs and mix in the cheese.

Once the pasta/asparagus is done cooking, drain in a colander. Place the pasta and asparagus in a large bowl and add in the bacon pieces. Pour the egg mixture into the hot pasta and toss with two forks or tongs. Serve immediately, topped with parmesan or red pepper flakes if you like.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Leek and Potato Braise

I never ate a leek until I was 25. That's probably a little bit odd. But my mom never cooked with them when I was a kid and then I once read that book, the one about how French women are so much better than everyone else because they understand portion control. One of her techniques was to make yourself an enormous pot of leek soup -- just leeks, water, salt -- and eat that for entire weekends. The idea of eating nothing but a glorified onion and water for 48 hours straight horrified me. Whenever I went to the grocery store, I could never look at leeks without thinking of them as a dieting aid a la Slim Fast.

So I stayed blissfully ignorant of their true potential until CCO bought them one day and added them to something -- fried rice, I think it was. That was when I discovered they weren't half bad. Not like Slim Fast at all.

A couple months back, one of the bloggers I follow decided she would try a bunch of recipes with leeks. I was intrigued. Perhaps leeks could be not just "not bad" but actually good. So I made this Leek and Potato Braise for one Meatless Monday and I am now a leek convert. This recipe cooks the leeks and the potatoes slowly for nearly 2 hours. At the end you have a creamy deliciousness, with just hints of spiciness for the leeks. I think I've made this about four times in the past three months. The only downside is it takes a while to cook and if you're very hungry, it tempts you horribly by filling up your entire house with a delicious smell of leeks cooking. We've eaten this several times as a main dish. It's also great as a side.

From All About Braising by Molly Stevens Via The Arugula Files

Eat Rating: Awesome.
Difficulty: Easy. It just takes awhile. You'll need some kind of casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid.

3 large leeks, washed and trimmed
2 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes (that's about 5 medium sized ones)
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (LN: or sub in 1/2 tsp dried)
1 1/4 cup stock, chicken or veggie
1/4 cup cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cut the leeks in half lengthwise almost all the way through, then chop into half inch pieces. Set aside.

Peel the potatoes, then chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to the leeks and place in the bottom of your casserole dish. Add the thyme and salt and pepper if desired and toss to cover.

Place the stock in a saucepan and heat just until boiling. Pour over the potatoes and leeks. Cover the dish with the lid and place in the oven. Cook for 45 minutes, then remove lid and stir. Replace lid and cook for another 25 minutes.

Increase temperature to 425 degrees, then add the 1/4 cup of cream and give it a good stir. Cook another 30 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the tops have begun to brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately.