Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Conchiglie al Forno with Mushrooms and Radicchio (or Fancy Baked Pasta)

The other night, Brian was ohhhhing and ahhhhing at something Ina Garten was cooking up, on tv. I was intrigued. So, I made the dish. Not really a diet friendly dish, but it was tasty alright. The dish is called Conchiglie al Forno with Mushrooms and Radicchio and the recipe can be found here. It starts off with lots of cheeses. I'm not a gorgonzola fan, so I only added a few crumbles, and I just eyeballed the Parmesan and Fontina.
3 Cheeses
I cut the radicchio, then added my ricotta. The ricotta was great, because it really glued everything together.
Radicchio, Ricotta, and 3 cheeses
On the side, I had some delicious Shitake Mushroom caps, sliced.
Did I mention the butter? Butter and light heat make the mushrooms real good.
I added the rest of my ingredients to the radicchio bowl, including sage, salt, and heavy cream (though, I didn't use as much cream as the recipe called for), then added my Shitake Mushrooms, and the lovely butter sauce that they produced (not sure if that was part of the recipe or not, but that butter was amazing).
4 Cheeses, Radicchio, Sage, Shitake Mix
Once my final ingredient of partially cooked pasta shells was ready, I added those to the mix too.
Partially cooked pasta
Then stirred and stirred.
4 Cheeses, Radicchio, Sage, Shitake Mix, and Partially cooked pasta
The pasta should be baked at 500 degrees, in a shallow baking dish. I accidentally made enough for two dishes!
Conchiglie al Forno with Mushrooms and Radicchio
I thought it was a lot, but Brian didn't seem to mind.
Conchiglie al Forno with Mushrooms and Radicchio
After about 15 minutes in the oven, until the top noodles are nice and golden, take the dish out and let it rest for a few minutes. I added a few dabs of butter on top of my noodles, to give them that extra golden brown color.
Conchiglie al Forno with Mushrooms and Radicchio
It was delicious. The sage and radicchio gave it a unique bitterness that was a nice contrast to the pasta we usually eat.
Conchiglie al Forno with Mushrooms and Radicchio
The recipe calls this an appetizer dish, although I served it as our main course. I now see why it's an appetizer - it's ridiculously rich and creamy. Too heavy for a main course, but that didn't stop us from eating it. Or, from me eating it again for lunch today.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pies, Pies, Pies, Yeah.

Still no luck finding my memory card! It's been 3 weeks since I've been desperately searching for it and nothing.... I'm sure I'll find it soon, but on to pies in the meantime. On Saturday morning, I got the call asking for an apple pie or two Father's Day on Sunday. I was given the option to buy pies... but for me, that is never an option. So, Saturday morning, I began my day's work.
Pie Crust
I began work on the crusts, while I sent Brian to the store on an apple mission. I found myself with some extra time and decided to make an extra little open faced pie for my niece's little recital after party. I got a little creative with this crust and decided to throw in some culinary lavender, in addition to the vanilla that I always add to my pie crust dough.
Lavender Vanilla Pie Crust
It gave the crust a nice spotty lavender look.
Lavender Vanilla Pie Crust
A few days earlier, my mom gave me a carton of blackberries, which Brian and I still hadn't got our hands into. So, I threw those in, along with some of the apples Brian had brought back from the store.
Apple Berry filling
Since I went with a lavender crust, I decided to be very minimal with my fruit filling. I kept it simple by only adding sugar and fresh lemon juice (using lemons fresh off of my dad's lemon tree). And, of course, more butter.
Apple Berry Pie
The result was a cute little pie.
Apple Berry Pie
And since there wasn't much left of it, post party, I like to think it was pretty tasty too. After the party, I came home to prep the other two pies for Sunday's Father's day celebration at Brian's family's house. Since I had prepared my crusts early on, all I had to do was prepare my apple filling, assemble the pies, then freeze them until the morning.
Apples for the pie... fresh nutmeg...
The apple mix included a mix of Jazz, Fuji, and Granny Smith apples. I normally use a lot more apples, but Brian reported back that there were slim pickings in the apple isle. I also added cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, lemon juice, sugar, and flour. And, of course, butter.
Apple Pie, right before I let it chill in the freezer for the night...
I topped it off and made a few slits for the heat to escape, then pressed the edges down with a fork. I added an egg wash made of one egg yolk and some heavy whipping cream, then sprinkled the top with sanding sugar. When it was all done, I let it chill in the freezer overnight (which was only for a few hours, since I was done around midnight and woke up at 6am to start baking). It still looked nice and pretty in the morning.
Apple Pie, right before the oven
I couldn't find my other pie dish, so I made pie #2 in a tart dish. Instead of making a decorative edge using the fork, I used my rolling pin to round the edges off, to go with the dish's natural shape. I think that worked out pretty nice and clean.
Apple Pie, right before the oven
I baked them both for 20 minutes on 400, then reduced the heat to 350 and baked for another 40-50 minutes, turning the pie once during that time. Baking them at 400 gives them that nice golden brown color.
Apple Pie, fresh out of the oven
I love that color.
Cooling Apple Pies
But, my favorite is the flakiness of the top crust. I love the little dough bubbles formed with the sugar.
Apple Pie, fresh out of the oven
All that, and I still had extra dough left! And apples too! So, what else to do, but make another mini pie?
Mini Apple Pie, with the leftover dough/apples
It was mini and cute.
Mini Apple Pie, with the leftover dough/apples
And we ate it quickly.
Mini Apple Pie, with the leftover dough/apples
We also ate it with vanilla ice cream (not pictured).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Whole Wheat Biscuits & My Mom's Harisah

Because my current job is only a block away from my parent's house, I'll occasionally get a call from my mom offering me some dinner or leftovers. It's always a treat to get some of my mom's home cooking, especially when she makes Harisah. The best way for me to describe Harisah is an Armenian Chicken Porridge. It has wheat, chicken (or turkey), butter, salt, and it's amazing. A bowl full of Harisah is a meal in itself, but I thought I'd a little more coziness to the dish by making biscuits.
Whole Wheat Biscuits
Since Brian and I are trying to be a little more healthy in our eating, I used this recipe for Fluffy Whole Wheat Biscuits. They came out pretty tasty, considering they were whole wheat! Though, I think I'll roll out the dough a bit thicker next time and possibly layer the biscuits with butter. Now, have you seen a cozier dinner?
Whole Wheat Biscuits and Harisah (Armenian chicken porridge)
Harisah is great, because you could even freeze the leftovers and have them anytime! Although, when we eat Harisah, there are usually no leftovers.

**If you're waiting for wedding crafts, I still can't find my memory card... but I'll keep searching! Wedding crafts will be posted the moment I find it!**

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shrimp Pasta

I have been so anxious to post about all of the crafts Brian and I did for our wedding; however, I have somehow misplaced my old memory card that stored all of our pictures. So, until I find that memory card, I will post about my other favorite craft: food. Post France, all I want to do is cook and bake all day long. I want to quit my job and go to culinary school. I want to quit my job and eat all things buttery. Oh, and I have been eating all things buttery... so much that I've gained quite a few pounds in the past month! So, in an effort to be healthy, we made some light, fresh, shrimp pasta.
Shrimp Pasta
I used to use nothing but calorie free butter and primarily cooked oil-free. After Paris, I could never go back to that again. First, I heated up a little butter, extra virgin olive oil, and garlic. After the garlic was nice and infused, I added the shrimp and cooked them through. Once they were nice and pink, I removed the shrimp, added some diced tomatoes, spices, fresh basil, and pinot grigio. Once that mix reduced a bit, I added the shrimp in again and heated.
Shrimp Pasta
I used fresh angel hair pasta, so the cook time was no more than a minute.
Fresh Pasta
Once my pasta was ready, I mixed the noodles and the sauce up in a bowl.
Shrimp Pasta
Added some Parmesan.
Shrimp Pasta
Then added some garlic bread - which was super easy. I did actually use some Promise butter (in my little attempt to save calories), then some garlic salt and into the oven until toasty.
Shrimp Pasta and garlic bread
It's become one of our favorite dishes, because it's light, easy to make, and super tasty.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Viva La France!

I am in love with France. Ever since we got to France, I have been begging Brian to move there with me. Sadly, he continues to say no... so far. Don't get me wrong, I love my hometown of Los Angeles, in fact, I have tons of LA pride! There was just something magically lazy and happy about Paris that the city of LA lacks. Let's start with my most favorite things in the world: Food!
Is this not the most impressive ice cream cone you have ever seen?
The salted caramel was dreamy...
It was no Berthillion..
But, it sure was beautiful and tasty! Berthillion, on the other hand, was heavenly.
There were also macarons.
We were lucky enough to spend a few nights, a block away from the delicious Gerard Mulot. Above is one of the best macarons I ate in Paris... Nougat flavored! And their baguettes were amazing too!
Below is the ever so famous, Laudurée.
Unfortunately, there were so many macarons, that the unthinkable happened. I am now unable to look at a macaron, without being a little frightened. I know. How could something so adorable be so scary? Well, friends, I have visions of them chasing me now! I can't do the macaron anymore... for now. So, instead of showing you the most amazing macarons in all of Paris, from Pierre Hermes, I will show you the "Montebello" from Pierre Hermes instead.
Pierre Hermes: "Montebello"
The textures were incredible in this pastry. And as sick of macarons as I currently am, the texture of the macarons at Pierre Hermes were sickeningly, perfectly good. It was scary how good those macarons were.
Speaking of sickeningly good, who knew the falafel in Paris is so superior than all other falafel? Thank you L'As du Falafel for being so wonderfully tasty and inspring Brian and I to possibly start a falafel truck.
My favorite meal, by far, was our 3 course wonder at Bistro Paul Bert. It was all fantastic, but their Paris Brest, had both Brian and I at a loss for words:
Bistro Paul Bert, Paris Brest Dessert
I don't think I've ever had these flavors in my mouth before, so it's hard to describe, but if I had to.. I would just say painfully good, perfection. It literally hurt, it was so good.
Cotton candy as big as my head? Don't mind if I do!
Breakfast at Cafe Mabillion...
Croque Madame at Cafe Mabillion, Paris
Tiny cups of coffee, served with little chocolates...
There were also picnics. Oh yes, crispy chicken, fresh baguettes, fruit from the local marchet picnics...
All this, and what did Brian want to eat? A Royale with Cheese, from McDonalds. Ugh.
I blame Pulp Fiction. You can see my skepticism here.
And, not good. Brian agreed. We were soon back on the diet of baguettes, cheese, and wine.
But, friends, France is more than just tasty pastel macarons and the best baguettes you've ever eaten. Paris is LOVE. Passionate, happy, and blissful love. I love love. I love Paris. And, I love Parisian hotels! Look at all that toile...
Hotel Clement, Paris
Hotel Regyn's Montmartre, Paris
Now, imagine walking around the streets of LA in these bad boys:
I have no idea who this person is, but this is probably my favorite picture of the entire trip:
I enjoy this one too:
Paris is also mimes. Modern mimes for modern times.
Paris is Serge Gainsbourg.
Bike rides and picnics in Versailles:
See me go!
Having a picnic with a view of the Palace of Versailles
Riding up to the Palace of Versailles...
We even did Euro-Disney!
Euro Disney!
Though, I must admit, our Disney here is much better. Space Mountain an upside down ride? Who knew! It was kind of insane. I loved it... but it made me miss home (LA).
Paris is home (one day).

We also visited tons of museums and famous sites, all documented in my flickr page here. We both agree, just taking long strolls was our favorite part of Paris. It was romantic, beautiful, and maybe some day (hopefully), home.