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Archive for the ‘Dinner’ Category

Saucy Embraces Fall

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Last weekend in the country was a Cuddlegan Kick-Off to Fall and Saucy kept the momentum going this weekend with a trip to way-out-there-Pennsylvania for some autumnal activities. Momma D acted as both chauffeur (we both sat in the back and paged through a vintage Martha Weddings book…) and soup connoisseur (three types of soup in tow — mushroom, onion, and butternut squash!) We arrived at Christina’s aunt and uncle’s house and sat down to a lunch of warm soup and chilled apple cider before heading out for a walk around the farm to gather some hydrangeas.

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With a full basket of flowers in hand, we piled back into the car to drive around town. First stop was a small antique shop. Although very cute, the miniature ponies down the road caught our attention and we opted for befriending the little guys rather than browsing.

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We stopped for ice cream (mint chocolate chip of course) and then hit up a few farmer’s markets in search of a slew of white pumpkins and gourds for sister Dittmann’s engagement (!!) party. So while Mrs. Dittmann hunted, we posed for photo opps with pumpkins and gourd necklaces. We browsed the final farmer’s market for some goodies for ourselves–I ended up with the most perfect mini pumpkin I’ve ever seen, intertwined gourds, a small bouquet of dried flowers, and an acorn squash that was lucky enough to be eaten for dinner that night…

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I had seen a recipe on 101 Cookbooks last week for roasted corn pudding baked inside an acorn squash — genius! Corn was one of Saucy’s summer loves and squash is our go-to fall and winter veggie so what better way to transition from summer to fall than with a combination of our favorites? And since a meal is not a meal without a carb (aka we just love carbs) we put together a quick onion and parmesan flatbread. The pudding had a great light texture and the excess (which we baked in a large ceramic dish) was a good addition to Monday night’s dinner in the Veraldi house.

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Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

1 acorn squash, halved and seeded (*there will be excess corn pudding, so use another squash if desired*)
1 1/2 cup corn kernels (4 ears of corn)
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
1 cup milk
a pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
6 scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 375F. Rub the inside of the squash with butter or olive oil, place on a baking sheet and cover with foil. The squash needs to sit flat on the baking sheet so that the pudding does not spill out, this may require you to shave off some of the squash’s underside to make a flat surface. Roast squash for about 40-50 minutes, or until slightly tender. Meanwhile, combine corn, eggs, milk, nutmeg, half of the scallions, and salt and pepper. Pour mixture into cared out squash and fill about 3/4 of the way. The excess can be poured into buttered ramekins or a larger baking dish. Carefully slide the baking sheet back into the oven and bake for another 40-50 minutes, or until pudding is set. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with cheese and remaining scallions. Place back in the oven just until the cheese has melted and begun to brown.

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Twilight Again

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This past weekend, Saucy was lucky enough to make another trip up to the Catskills to celebrate Christina’s birthday and have an end-of-the-summer roomie snuggle fest. It was another great weekend spent sitting by the fire wrapped in blankets, exploring nearby towns, and cooking (duh!) Without much else to occupy ourselves with (which was a good thing!) we decided to take a risk and attempt homemade gnocchi. To loosen up and gain some confidence, we opened up a double bottle of wine and settled our rumbling tummies with fresh bread, brie, and apple slices.

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As the potatoes boiled, we conquered the beginning steps of an epic chocolate birthday cake and prepared some veggies for the usual roasting. After about thirty minutes, we drained the potatoes and peeled the skin off. We quickly pushed them through a potato ricer and formed them into a riced-potato volcano, with a nice little crater for the incoming egg yolks. We incorporated egg yolks and flour into the potatoes and then began rolling out gnocchi ropes and slicing away! Our first tester gnocchi came out a little too watery potato-y. Slightly discouraged, but with eyes on the prize, we incorporated more flour into the mixture and set up an assembly line to cook the little guys: Jona dropped them into boiling water, Kim scooped them out as the bobbed to the surface and placed them in a sauce pan, I sauteed them for about a minute, and Linnae uncovered and covered the serving bowl so we could retain the heat! Christina….watched?

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Gnocchi

8-10 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes
3 egg yolks
3/4-1 cup of flour

Seems simple, right? HA! Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil then decrease heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and skin is beginning to free itself. Drain water from the pot and let potatoes cool, until they are just cool enough to handle. Peel away the skin (this should be fairly easy) and put the potatoes through a potato ricer. Form a potato volcano and put the three egg yolks in the crater, along with some flour. Integrate the eggs and flour into the potatoes until it forms a consistent, sticky dough. Separate the dough into eights and roll into ropes, each about 15 inches long. Use a knife to cut the rope into one inch segments — these are your gnocchi! If you want to be fancy, use a fork to make ridges on them. If you’re hungry, skip that. Place gnocchi into a pot of boiling water about 10-15 at a time. Once they bob to the surface, scoop out and transfer to a frying pan with a bit of hot oil and butter and saute until cooked through a bit more, about 1-2 minutes. Toss with (homemade<–duh) sauce and top with fresh basil.

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We sat down to dinner feeling accomplished and ate til our tummies were full and another double bottle was empty. Though our cake had managed to be baked throughout the gnocchi process, we needed some downtime before tackling frosting and eating dessert. So to the fireplace we went!

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After some digesting, we all had chocolate on our minds. We all piled back into the kitchen to melt chocolate and whip up some frosting. Linnae and Kim took charge of the decorating and we sang happy birthday and happily ate our cake by the fire. Within a few moments of finishing up the cake, Saucy was passed out — Amanda 6 inches from the fire, and Christina nearby, wrapped in a blanket like a burrito. Tired from three straight hours of cooking related activity, we called it a night, sang our own interpretation of Miley’s “The Climb” and headed to dreamland.

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Chocolate Cake

Recipe coming!!

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Barefoot Contessas

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Saucy had spent Saturday morning lounging around before convincing each other that an outing was in order. So we hopped on a downtown C train, Columbus Circle bound. Our plan? J.Crew to try on some outerwear, William & Sonoma to fantasize about our future kitchen (singular), and Whole Foods to grab something for dinner. J.Crew was pretty uneventful; we pined over the “downtown field jacket” for a bit in our shared dressing room then lazily headed down to W&S. Christina picked up the Barefoot Contessa on display and began to flip through while Amanda wandered off to the baking section. Of course Ina came through: within a few minutes, Christina came across two recipes that screamed “Saucy!” and we suddenly had plans for an Ina Garten dinner and dessert.

For dinner we made Goat Cheese and Tomato Tarts. The flaky puff pastry topped with slowly sauteed onions, shredded parmesean, crumbled goat cheese, a slice of tomato, and a sprinkle of fresh basil was simple enough but so delicious. The dish was so Saucy (how could a goat cheese and tomato combo not be Saucy?) and was basically perfection after being paired with a glass (or two…) or dry white wine.

Ina Garten’s Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

1 package frozen puff pastry, defrosted
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, sliced into thin slivers
3 tablespoons dry white wine (plus more for drinking…)
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
6 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
4 ounces goat cheese
2 medium tomatoes, cut into slices
3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil

Unfold the puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Using a circular shaped object (we used a bowl and a wine glass), cut the pastry into circles and place the discs onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 425F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onions and sautee for 15 to 20 minutes, until almost no moisture remains in the pan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine and the thyme and continue to cook for 10 minutes, until the onions have browned slightly.

Using a sharp knife, score a 1/4-inch wide border around each pastry circle. Prick inside each circle with a fork. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese inside the circle and top with the onions and garlic. Crumble goat cheese on top and then place a slice of tomato in the center. Top with more parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh basil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is slightly brown.

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Despite hitting the spot, after any savory dish Saucy usually craves something sweet. And Ina delivered yet again with her Brownie Pudding. With just six ingredients, dessert was easy to throw together (especially when aided by a KitchenAid) and since its baking time was an hour our tummies had enough time to digest our tarts and make sufficient room for dessert. The end result was every batter-lover’s dream: a crisp top layer covering ooey gooey battery brownie goodness underneath. We refrigerated what we didn’t eat and in the morning found ourselves sneaking bits of what was now equally delicious creamy custardy fudge brownie goodness. Thank you Ina!!

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Ina Garten’s Brownie Pudding

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend eggs and sugar for 5-10 minutes until very thick and light yellow. Reduce mixer speed to low and add vanilla extract, flour, and cocoa powder. Pour in cooled butter and mix until just combined. We also added some mini chocolate chips.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked.

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Saucy Mini Reunion

After weeks of cooking separately, Saucy has been reunited. We spent Sunday afternoon lounging and recovering from Amanda’s birthday festivities on Saturday night before reluctantly dragging ourselves off of couches (and a chaise lounge) for a quick grocery run. Of course it had started to pour just minutes before our revival of energy but we put our game faces on and headed outside anyway. We returned home with zucchini, peas, asparagus and diced tomatoes — all of which would become supporting actors to the fresh whole wheat pasta we had waiting in the refrigerator. The veggies were sauteed in butter and a bit of garlic, the diced tomatoes were simmered with a bit of milk, and then all was tossed with the pasta.
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After work on Monday we met at Westside Market to have a quick chat with our bff, Omar, and pick up ingreeds for a quick salmon salad. We went for a run and put together the salad upon our return home: a bed of Boston lettuce topped with honey-mustard grilled salmon, sauteed red onions, celery, and green beans. High-5-Fiber bread with goat cheese on the side, duh.

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While browsing nytimes.com I came across a recipe for cold sesame noodles that had kitteh written all over it. Dan came over on Thursday and we whipped them up in a flash. It’s an extremely easy recipe, the only cooking that needs to be done is the pasta, so it’s no-air-conditioning-in-your-apartment friendly.

Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce, Tofu, and Cucumbers

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

half of a large cucumber, seeded and cut into strips
half a block of extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
12 ounces long pasta
1/2 cup (or more!) minced scallions

Cook the pasta normally, until tender but not mushy. Rinse with cold water after straining. While the pasta is cooking, combine sauce ingredients and whisk together — adding hot water to thin the sauce until it’s the consistency of heavy cream. Sesame paste can be substituted for peanut butter (but why would you ever do that?!), and fresh ginger and/or hot sauce are optional. Toss the cooled pasta together with sauce, tofu, and cucumbers. Top with scallions!

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On Wednesday morning Christina and Amanda dragged themselves out of their upper west and lower east (respectively) beds and scurried to the Union Square Farmers Market for a 7:45am shopping date. We wandered lazily through the stands, eyed mounds of vegetables, smelled fresh herbs, and even observed some honey bees. Then we realized we were women on a mission: pick out some goodies for dinner that night and still make it to our offices on time. With a bunch of eggs, cream, and onion already on reserve we obviously settled with our easy saucy classic: quiche. In an effort to mix things up a bit we grabbed a few colorful tomatoes. The crates of fingerling potatoes were calling our name so we picked out a few and decided to pair them with green beans Amanda had at home. For the dinners we will be cooking separately for Saucy fans tonight we picked up a few more items–corn on the cob, squash and zucchini, and the longest scallions known to man. We picked up our shopping pace and were soon on our way to work.

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DSC04579Amanda’s favorite pre-work activity? Cradling giant zucchini babies.

After work, Christina met Amanda downtown and soon enough we had our quiche baking in the oven while our green beans and potatoes simmered in a sauce pan on the stove. To beat the heat of the kitchen, we sat on the fire escape with glasses of wine and took turns crawling back inside for a quick stir or two. When everything was ready we loaded our plates and headed back outside where we happily munched as the sun went down. 🙂

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Laid-Back Asparagus Risotto

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Saucy’s distractions-of-choice during downtime at our jobs are obviously our favorite food blogs. Having always been a little apprehensive about approaching risotto, we were excited when Christina came across Mark Bittman’s recipe for “laid back” asparagus risotto. We discussed, took deep breaths, and decided to face our fears. Despite the lack of air conditioning in my current apartment, we were snapping asparagus stalks and stirring (though not constantly!) with confidence and determination. Dana made some baked mushroom polenta slices and wine was poured before we all crawled out on the fire escape to enjoy some fresh air and fresh risotto. Overall, a successful first attempt, though we still might need some lessons from BB.

Laid-Back Asparagus Risotto

1 pound asparagus, peeled, trimmed and cut into one-inch-long pieces, tips reserved
4 to 6 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 medium red onion, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Snap the asparagus stalks into pieces roughly one inch in length. Bittman says to also peel the stalks but we skipped this. Bring a pot of water to boil and add half of the asparagus, cooking for about 5 minutes. Strain and rinse with cold water. Place stalks and a bit of water into a food processor and puree until smooth, set aside.

In a medium size pot, heat up vegetable stock.

Add 1 tablespoon butter and vegetable oil to a deep skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add red onion and saute until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add Arborio rice to the skillet and stir until rice is coated and glossy, about 2-3 minutes. Add white wine and stir occasionally until reduced. Add a pinch of salt. Add the vegetable stock 1/2 cup at a time and stir a few times. Once the stock has evaporated, add more. After about 15 minutes, add the remaining asparagus stalks and stir to incorporate. Continue to add vegetable stock.

Once all the stock has been added to the rice, mix in asparagus puree. Remove the skillet from heat and quickly stir in remaining butter and Parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

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