Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fettuccine with Shrimp in a Tomato, Olive, and Feta Cream Sauce

I had a revelation this weekend... fresh pasta is SO. MUCH. BETTER. than the dried stuff.

During prime tomato season on the farm, I oven-dried a bunch of tomatoes with whole garlic cloves and thyme, then let them marinate in olive oil and fresh-from-my-herb-garden basil for about a week.  Oven-drying tomatoes isn't hard, it just heats up your kitchen and takes a couple hours.  Store-bought sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil would be a great substitute.

And this dish is super-fast.  I mean, seriously, it was ready in T-minus 20min.

1 pkg fresh fettuccine
1/2 lb shrimp
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C dried tomatoes (oil-packed), roughly chopped
3 tbsp oil-brined black/kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1/2 C greek yogurt
1/4 C crumbled feta cheese
3 tbsps chopped herbs, I used mint and basil from my herb garden
sprinkle of crushed red pepper, optional
These are, of course, estimates in measuring... use your eyes and tastebuds as a guide.

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2) Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp and cook until just barely done (2min per side?).  Remove shrimp and put to the side.
3) Add the garlic and tomatoes (with oil) and optional red pepper to the previously shrimp-y pan and heat through over med/med-low heat. 
4)  When that's all nice, warm, aromatic and incorporated, add the yogurt and olives.  Let this simmer on a low burner while you cook the pasta. And that's the great thing about fresh pasta, it only takes 3-4min MAX.
5) When the pasta is al dente, add it to the sauce skillet with ~1/4C starchy pasta liquid.  
6) Add the shrimp and 2 tbsps chopped herbs.
7) Stir, mix, smell.  It should come together into something magical.
8) Top with crumbled feta.  Give it one more mix and serve, sprinkled the the remaining tbsp of mint/basil.

This dinner turned out better than I could have ever expected considering I made it up on the fly with ingredients sitting around in my fridge.  I hope you find time to try some fresh pasta, it really does make a dramatic difference.

Look how GREAT my mint and basil is doing!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Daring Cooks Challenge - Canning & Preserving

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
In case you didn't know, I've been super-busy this month, with travel every weekend in addition to the start of the school year & teaching responsibilities.  Whew!  
At least I was able to complete my Daring Cooks Challenge this month, using fresh apples from my CSA (great timing!)

Apple Butter
2 lbs peeled and cored apples, roughly chopped
2 tbsps honey
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
a pinch of nutmeg

Add the apples, honey (or sugar) and vinegar to a saucepan over medium heat.  I didn't use as much sweetner as the recipes called for because my super-fresh apples were already pretty sweet (thanks Stillmans!).  I let that cook for 20 minutes or so until the apples looked more like apple sauce than individual apples.  I then added the spices and used a stick-blender to incorporate everything and smooth out my sauce.  

Let that cook for another 30min or so until you have a thick, dark brown, tasty apple butter.  The trick is to plop a spoonful of the apple butter onto a cold plate and see if it releases any juices.  If it holds its shape and doesn't ooze everywhere, you have yourself some fruit butter!

I will start posting more often as soon as my schedule calms down (and I get a new computer... my personal one died... sad).  Enjoy!
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