Okay, okay. I’m back.

I know how worried you’ve been. It’s been almost a month since my last post, and I’m sure you’ve waiting patiently for this to finally come. Or perhaps you didn’t notice, which is probably more like it, unless you are my Facebook friend and have noticed the decline in post updates. Either way, it doesn’t really matter…because I’m back!

Anyway, the reasons for my hiatus were the holidays, having visitors, getting sick several times, and lack of creative energy due to starting a new job. Now that I’m settled with everything, I can continue my random blogging, with a slight emphasis on recipes.

BREAKING NEWS! I’m writing a cook book. It’s going to be a fabulous collection of cultural deliciousness. Basically, I can’t tell you much more than that, because it’s a big secret and you will only be getting small glimpses of it, as I want you to buy it and not just learn everything off of here. But it’s going to be really exciting! Promises.

But today, we have a little something I put together for dinner tonight:

Perciatelli in a Pepper Cream sauce

Ingredients:
1 lb of perciatelli (a thick, spaghetti-like pasta with a hollow center)
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cup milk
2/3 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese
About 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1.) Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook perciatelli for 11 minutes.
2.) While the pasta cooks, brown the garlic and onions in the olive oil. Use a large pan, as you will be adding the pasta into it.
3.) Add the milk and cheese and whisk together until the sauce begins to boil. When it starts to thicken, add in the pepper (adjust according to how much of a peppery kick you would like) and the cooked pasta. Mix until pasta is thoroughly coated.

I chose to pair this with a caprese salad, which is just sliced tomatoes topped with mozzarella and basil, and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or glaze.

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Operation: Ravioli Overload.

The big meal for today was just what it sounds like…a crap ton of ravioli. Homemade pasta and fillings. Yuuuuuuuummy! Delicious 🙂

The beginning of the dough.
Kneading
Spinach filling…delish!
Rolled out pasta…just waiting to be filled.
Pork filling
Adding the filling
Press out all of those air bubbles!! This was actually quite a problem for us. Perhaps, we are a little bit ravioli handicapped.  
Ready to be cooked!
Yum!

Maybe the cooked pasta had some *ahem* imperfections, like fillings falling out, but it was scrumptious anyway. Liz decided we could sell them in a restaurant…just as long as it was somewhere artsy and we could call it “Deconstructed Ravioli.” Brilliant plan.

Cookin’ in Amsterdam

Round 2 in Amsterdam was pretty different from round 1. For instance, I actually went to museums, stayed in an apartment FO FREE (yayyyahhh SMC alum!) instead of an 80 euro a night crap hostel, and I experienced the city from a living standpoint rather than a tourist one. Excellent. The first night, Jill and a few other interns from her program went to see a music recital at one of the universities. Schwell, as usual, we were late and didn’t make it…so we went to a tapas restaurant instead! That consisted of arguing socialization issues with a couple of kids. Ugh. The next night, a bunch of us took a canal tour/cruise. Rowdy? Yep. Between Vince and Eli (sorry, buddy!) needing a “gangsta” photo and Ricky squeezing a bottle of wine between his legs for “safe-keeping”, I’d say it was pretty ridiculous.

After the cruise, we decided we would go to a bar. McDonald’s beat that out. Fries and a rolo milkshake? Why, yes. Don’t mind if I do. Ricky decided to propose to me. He didn’t even get a word out before the whole McD’s lobby started clapping. I’m holding out on answering. Totally have to weigh the pros and cons of marrying a gay dude. Hah.

As for museums, Van Gogh? Do it! Foam Photography? Only do it if you like being disturbed. Though, I’m sure the collection changes.

But most importantly, I cooked risotto, and it was delicious. So let’s make it.

Risotto con Pollo

<credit JCLamsterdam for some of these photos>

Ingredients:
A whole chicken
Four-ish cut up carrots
One whole onion
5 oz Hunts tomato sauce
Paprika
Salt
Pepper
Saffron
12 oz Arborio Rice
1 1/2 tbs butter

1.) So basically, you will make your own chicken stock. Put the whole chicken, the cut up carrots, the whole onion and the sauce in a big pot. Fill pot with water until the chicken is completely submerged in water. Season the compilation with 1 tsp of paprika, 2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper and a pinch of saffron (these are all approximations). Bring to a boil and then put down to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is cooked through (about 2 hours, depending on the size of the chicken).

 2.) When the chicken stock is finished, heat butter and a little more paprika in another pot. Add in the rice and stir around a bit. Then, put a couple of ladles of broth into the rice mixture. Stir until almost dissolved. After this, only add one to two ladles of broth at one time, and stir until liquid is almost gone. It is very important to do this in order to maintain the creamy quality of the risotto.

 3.) After the rice is done cooking, salt to taste.

4.) Plate up, top rice with some grated parmesan and enjoy!

Perhaps, I have some things to learn..

So this is it. Blogging. Such a weird concept. A weird concept that I shall take full advantage of. Well, it’s pretty obvious that no matter how many food blogs you follow, you won’t remember all the steps. For instance, taking photos of the process? Meh. I guess I should have kept that one in mind, because I definitely forgot until I had put together my entire meal. Whoopsie! So the photos are scarce this time, but I hope you’ll enjoy anyway.

Today’s recipe: Eggplant and Tofu Parmesan

You know those times when you look in your fridge and think, “Shit! I need to get rid of this tofu and use that eggplant by this weekend!!” Yeah, me neither. But today I decided to put together a little something using those two ingredients.

Ingredients
1 medium/large eggplant
1/3 package of extra firm tofu
Your favorite tomato sauce
12 oz bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
Finely grated parmesan cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil
Your favorite pasta (spaghetti is my favorite with this!)

1.) Peel a raw eggplant and cut slices about a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch thick. Lightly salt each side and place on paper towels to soak up excess water from the eggplant.
2.) Slice up the tofu (same thickness) and dry out on paper towels.
3.) As your eggplant and tofu slices are draining, heat a generous amount of olive oil in a skillet (about 3/4 inch high). When hot, lightly fry the eggplant and tofu slices. The eggplant should take about 2 minutes on each side, until you can easily stick your fork in the slices. The tofu should only take about 1 minute per side, as it is soft to begin with. Layer the fried slices between paper towels to soak up the excess grease.
4.) Use a square oven-safe pan to prepare the dish. First, put a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Place a single layer of eggplant on top of the sauce. Then, top with a layer of sauce, then mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Next, layer the tofu on top and repeat the sauce/cheese step. Keep layering this way until you have used up the eggplant and tofu.

5.) Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the cheese on top is slightly browned.
6.) Let sit for about a half hour so that it will set and come out clean.

7.) While setting, cook your fave pasta to go on the side.
8.) Enjoy!! 🙂