Thursday, July 17, 2008

Snap Pea & Yellow Zucchini Parpadelle with Saffron Thyme Cream

Hands down this is the best pasta I have ever dreamed up on the way home from work. Do you ever get into a funk where nothing you make seems to taste that good? I get that sometimes, other people may like it (or are they just saying that?) but this dish I absolutely loved! You must give it a try. Sometimes the best creations are a complete fluke. It's quite late and I should be in bed but I had to write this all down before I forgot what I did!
I wanted to use up some sugar snap peas and zucchini I had in the fridge. These ingredients are key to the dish so make sure you use the freshest produce you can...
Ingredients & Preparation:
Serves about 3 as a main course
For the cream sauce you will need -
  • 1 cup 18% cream
  • few pinches of saffron
  • about 6 springs of fresh thyme (pull the leaves off)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • a few shakes of white pepper
  • a pinch of sea salt (I used Salish Smoked Salt from the Pike Place Market)
  • a generous swirl of good quality, fruity olive oil

For the pasta -

  • 1 package of fresh lasagna sheets, cut into strips to make a "cheat's parpadelle" noodle
  • 2 handfuls of sugar snap peas, topped & tailed
  • 1 handful of watercress leaves (cut off the long stems as they are hard to swallow in pasta - I learned the hard way)
  • 1 small yellow zucchini, grate on a cheese grater to make little strips
  • 4-6 slices of halloumi cheese, 1/4 inch slices (this cheese is fairly salty so go easy on the salt in the cream sauce)

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil in preparation for your pasta.

In a small pan, add the ingredients in the order listed above. Using a small whisk, gently stir the sauce to incorporate all the ingredients. Use a medium heat so it doesn't burn. Slowly whisk the sauce until it becomes a little thicker (the cream may become too thick if you beat it too much) and heat through. You don't want a runny consistency but you also don't want whip cream! Set aside when ready.

Add your pasta and bring to a boil. Fresh pasta shouldn't take too long to cook.

In another pan, add a smidgen of water, cover and steam your snap peas and watercress for only a few minutes until they are warmed through but still crunchy. You don't need to cook the zucchini.

In a small non-stick frying pan, add a touch of olive oil and place your cheese in for about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown.

Plate the pasta first in the centre and build the dish up from there. Add the snap peas and watercress. Then the zucchini on top. Place the cheese slices (about 2 per dish) on the side and give the plate a generous drizzle of the saffron thyme cream.

Enjoy this meal on a warm summer night with friends!

Cheddar & Herb Buttermilk Biscuits

Our neighbours to the west side of our house are awesome! Their youngest son comes to our house during the day to let our dog out for a potty break and then takes her over to his house to play with their dog. I think our pup loves them a wee bit more than us now. You gotta love small town living where neighbours are neighbourly. To keep with that theme, I thought I'd bake them some biscuits as a small token of thanks.

The following recipe is similar to the one I used. I cannot find the one I used anywhere! What good is that? Really, I just wanted to tell you about my neighbours.

Ingredients & Preparation: (Recipe from Blogger "Pinch my Salt")

  • 2 C. flour (unbleached)
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. mustard powder
  • 1 T. chopped fresh herbs or 1 t. dried* (I used fresh herbs, basil and chives,from my little garden box)
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1 C. shredded cheese (whatever kind you prefer but I used a local, sharp, old cheddar)
  • 3/4 C. sour cream (I used buttermilk)
  • 1/4 C. milk (I used 10% cream)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, mustard powder and herbs.

3. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs and the pieces of butter are the size of peas. Stir in shredded cheese.

4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together sour cream and milk. Add sour cream mixture to the dry mixture. Stir until just combined.

5. Turn dough out onto a well-floured counter and knead a few times with floured hands. Pat dough out with your hands to about one-inch thickness. Cut biscuits using a biscuit cutter or cut into desired shapes with a knife.

6. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve warm with butter.

*You may use any combination of herbs you want. Try 1/2 T. fresh chives along with some dried herbs like 1/2 t. basil and 1/2 t. marjoram. The amounts listed are just guidelines. Experiment and have fun!

Berry & Rhubarb Pie

After my produce delivery last week, I attempted to make a strawberry rhubarb pie. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough rhubarb for the filling so I needed to add some more berries. My pie soon became a strawberry, raspberry, rhubarb pie. All the fruit used in the recipe was from local farms. The berries were smaller and they go soft much more quickly than other berries I have bought in the past so you have to eat them fast or else they don't last. This pie was a great way to enjoy their flavour!

I admit I bought a store-made crust because I really didn't have time to make one from scratch. Forgive me! Use your favorite crust recipe when you make this pie.

Ingredients & Preparation: (loosely based on the original recipe from Bon Appetit, April 1997)
  • 3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices trimmed local, organic rhubarb
  • 1 container local, organic strawberries, hulled, halved (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup of local raspberries
  • 1/2 cup (packed) organic golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

To make the filling; preheat oven to 400°F. Combine first 8 ingredients in large bowl. Toss gently to blend. Fill up the pie shell and cover with second shell. Cut a little slit in the top to let steam escape. How easy is that!?

Transfer pie to baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about another 25 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.