Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pasta ala Fridge

Sometimes you don't really plan meals.  You don't have time to shop and you just have to go with what you've got.  Like last night.  We had just come home from a short trip to Colorado, it was dinner time and we were all wiped out.  I looked around the kitchen and pulled together what we had.  And it worked.  In fact, Little Dog gave it a thumbs up.  I thought I'd try to transcribe the recipe here so I could make it again since Little Dog made a point of telling me how much he loved it.

Pasta ala Fridge

1 lb rigatoni (or other pasta, I just happened to have rigatoni)
2 lbs cauliflower florets
1 Tbsp olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 c grated Parmesan
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup bread crumbs
4 eggs

Toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil and a healthy dose of kosher salt.  Spread them on a cookie sheet and roast them in a 400 degree oven until they are tender and golden brown on the edges.  This should take about 20 minutes. 
Meanwhile, prepare your pasta according to the package directions.  Given the boiling and cooking time, this should also take about 20 minutes total so you should have cooked pasta about the same time your cauliflower is finished cooking.  Handy that.
Drain the pasta and in the cooking pot, melt 2 Tbsp of butter and toss with the pasta.  Add the cauliflower and cheese and toss together until it is all mixed up.  In a small frying pan, melt your last tablespoon of butter and toast the breadcrumbs until golden brown.  It should only take a minute or two over medium-high heat.  Add these to your pasta and toss again.

Fry the eggs, making sure to leave the yolks runny.  (I cook them sunny-side up, but if you prefer over-easy, so be it)

Serve the pasta in a bowl and top it with one fried egg per serving. 

Next time I might add some kind of bean to the mix.  Lentils or chick peas might be nice.  A bit of garlic might also be nice, but it was also well received as it was, so I could just leave it well enough alone.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dinner born of desperation

Sometimes I have no idea what to cook.  Sometimes I don't have what I want to cook in the house and sometimes it is a perfect storm of both.  The problem is that we recently lost our local grocery store.  It was a smaller local chain with tons of local products, the nicest employees in the world that also happened to be right on my way home.  Well a big mega-chain store has been wrangling to take over for a while and they finally won.  The local grocery is gone and the mega-store is preparing to gobble up all of the surrounding real estate and open with a giant shiny store at some point in the future.  Thing is, I won't shop there.  I liked my market and they killed it.  And I hold grudges.  But this is all neither here nor there.  Fact is that when I got ready to cook dinner the other night, I had no idea what I wanted to make.  And then it hit me, fried rice.  The idea hit me, not the rice.  That would have been messy.

Fried rice is tasty, quick and surprisingly kid friendly.  I also managed to have everything on hand to whip up a batch in no time flat.

Fried Rice Out of Thin Air

1 cup uncooked rice
2 Tbsp oil
1 medium sweet onion finely chopped
2 cups chopped or shredded veggies (I happened to have a package of Trader Joe's broccoli slaw on hand so I used that.  Incidentally, this is great for throwing into soups, sloppy Joe's, scrambled eggs or anywhere else you want to add a little veg.)
1/2 lb frozen shrimp (mine was still frozen and it worked out well, but feel free to thaw it if you prefer)
2 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp mirin
4 eggs
Cook the rice according to the package and set it aside.  
In a large pan, heat your oil.  Once heated, add your onion and cook until slightly soft. (I call for  a sweet onion, but a regular onion would probably work just as well.)  Once that is done, throw in your veggies and shrimp.  Stir constantly until the veggies start to soften slightly.  If you are not using your shrimp frozen, you'll probably want to cook the veg a bit before adding the shrimp or they'll get over cooked.  Once everything is all tender and cooked, add the liquid ingredients and toss them together.  Then dump in the rice and stir until it is all coated in the delicious sauce.

Cover your pan and in a frying pan with a bit of oil, fry your eggs.  Serve the rice mixture in bowls with a freshly fried egg on top (or you can scramble them and mix them in, I just think this looks a bit more like a proper meal).  If you have a kimchi lover in your house, heap some on top and if they're anything like Mr. Dog they'll probably squeal "Kimchi!" with delight when you serve them.

This makes 4 big portions or 6 smallish portions.  You can add more veggies to it if you want to add volume and cut the caloric density.