Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Spaghetti Two Ways

Happy almost Thanksgiving blog friends!

Not sure if I will have time/will/desire to post tomorrow whilst in the depths of my food coma, but I wanted to take a moment to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.  Strangely, Thanksgiving is not one of my favorite holidays.  I do adore eating, but I also love cooking and Thanksgiving is all about the cooking.  I have been watching cooking specials on Food Network almost non-stop since last weekend (Thanksgiving Live, Good Eats Thanksgiving Specials, Iron Chef: Challenge Thanksgiving...), which really makes me want to cook up a bird of my own.

The problem?  My house holds MAYBE 12 people.  My kitchen table holds 6.  I don't have a dining room - just an eat in kitchen... Not so much a good spot for a family gathering.  I would love to have a turkey related dinner party but, again, not so much room.  Also, between my husband and my busy schedule, the next weekend day we have free is after New Years.

So I have to sit, and pout, and not be the highly praised Thanksgiving mastermind that I know I could be if given the chance.

Oh well.  The next house will have a formal dining room.  And a butler's pantry.  And a library room with one of those slide-y ladders to hold all my cookbooks that I love to collect but never use because it's so much easier to just find things on the internet!

I am bringing a sweet potato/butternut squash cheese dip and a cranberry and apple chutney to Thanksgiving this year.  Or at least I plan to.  Hmmm... now if I screw it up and it's inedible (or if it's so delicious I eat it by myself in the corner) there's evidence.

Anyway, so I've been trying to make non-Thanksgiving dinner-ish food, like Spaghetti.  I also made my famous green pork chili, which BTW won my place of employment's Annual Chili Cook-Off.  Go team me!

Spaghetti is, in my mind, one of those quintessential fall/winter meals.  I never make it in the summer, I think because it's a good place to put vegetables that are about to go.  I used a can of my chunky tomato sauce, but also threw in some additional items (all of these are local).  I started by chopping up a medium yellow onion, and mincing 3 or 4 cloves of garlic.  I cooked the onion over medium low heat for about 10 minutes, then  added the garlic and cooked for two more minutes before turning the heat up to medium high.  I added a pound of ground beef, seasoned the whole thing with salt and pepper, and cooked - stirring regularly and breaking up the beef - until the beef was browned.  Then, I added about 1/2 lb of wild mushrooms, and seasoned again with salt and pepper.  I added the can of spaghetti sauce, along with about 2 cups of chopped tomatoes that were at the end of their useful life, a chopped green bell pepper that was about two days from going into the compost pile, and two chopped anduille sausage links that I was sick of staring at in the freezer.

Cover, and let the whole thing cook for at least an hour.  The longer it cooks, the better it tastes!

I also have just about mastered my pasta making.  I use one cup of flour per egg, a pinch of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.  I put the whole thing in my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and let it kneed on a low setting for about 30 minutes, taking it out every ten minutes or so to kneed by hand.  Depending on the size of the eggs, I sometimes need to drizzle in a little water to get the dough to come together into a ball, and I sometimes need to add a little more flour to keep the dough from being tacky.  After it's well kneeded, I let it rest for about 10 minutes before rolling into pasta.

Or, you could just buy pasta.  You know, if you're feeling lazy.

The above recipe made a whole bunch of spaghetti.  Way more than two people's worth.  We had dinner and lunches, and I froze some, but I also got to make one of my favorite leftover meals.

Spaghetti Frittata.

Spaghetti = awesome.  Frittata = awesome.  Spaghetti Frittata = one of the best foods ever invented.

I was actually getting my hair done the other day, and was telling my stylist about the joys of breakfast for dinner.  My favorite part of breakfast for dinner is how well eggs pair with a nice red wine.  She was not convinced.  This might be a good starter recipe for those of you who fear eggs for dinner, since spaghetti is clearly a dinner food.  But, I kid you not, there is nothing better than a nice over-medium egg, some bacon, some pancakes with REAL maple syrup, and a nice spicy Zinfandel.

Spaghetti Frittata uses all of your leftover spaghetti ingredients.

Spaghetti Frittata:
  • About 2 cups leftover spaghetti sauce - with or without meat depending on your preference
  • About 8 oz cooked spaghetti noodles (about one normal to small sized serving)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk, half and half, or heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large, flat sided frying pan, warm spaghetti sauce.  Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, milk, cheese, salt, and pepper.  Once the sauce is warm, remove from heat and stir in the noodles. Pour the egg mixture into the pan with the spaghetti sauce and pasta, and stir to combine.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until just set in the center.

Spaghetti and Sauce in pan

Egg mixture
Everything together in the pan before baking
I served this with a salad, which I topped with some of my pickled beets.  I thought the beets were great.  Jeff was not totally convinced:

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