Friday, November 24, 2017

Crusty Baked Shells & Cauliflower

I tend to think I don't really like pasta, but I think that's because I equate pasta with red sauce or heavy cream sauces, which probably isn't fair to pasta.

This dish is delicious; it's layered with several different flavors, none of which are too overpowering. Serve with a salad, and TA-DA, you've got a pretty impressive dinner.

And, one more bonus, it can be made ahead and then just thrown in the oven. I love that.

  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 3/4 pound medium shells, such as Barilla
  • olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds cauliflower, cut into small florets (1 large head)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained 
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 2 cups Fontina cheese, grated and lightly packed (10 ounces with rind)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) fresh ricotta
  • 1/2 cup panko 
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, minced 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Fill a large pot with water, add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil. 

Add pasta and cook until al dente, according to the instructions on the package. 

NOTE: Pasta will be cooked later, be careful to not overcook it!

Drain pasta and pour into a large bowl.  

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add half of the cauliflower in one layer and saute for 5-6 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the florets are lightly browned and tender. 

Pour the cauliflower, including the small bits, into the bowl with the pasta.  

Add 3 more tablespoons of olive oil and cook remaining cauliflower in the same manner and then add to the bowl.  

Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper to the bowl and stir carefully.  

Stir in the Fontina. 

Transfer half of the mixture to a 10 x 13 baking dish. 

Spoon rounded tablespoons of ricotta on the pasta and top with remaining pasta mixture.  

Combine panko, Pecorino, parsley, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly on top of pasta. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until browned and crusty on top. 

Source: Ina Garten 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Home Fries

Perfectly cooked breakfast potatoes can be tricky. Back in the day, my sisters and I thought our "potato bits" were pretty much the best things ever and we made them often on make-your-own nights in the Porter household. They were not good; just tiny bits of almost burned potatoes improved only by large quantities of ketchup.

These home fries, however, are pretty close to perfection.

The key is this: don't mess with them. Get the potatoes situated in the pan and then leave them be, only tossing gently every 4-5 minutes.

  • 2 pounds red potatoes, with skins on, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil  

Mix salt, pepper, paprika, garlic power, and onion powder in a small bowl and set aside. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Simmer potatoes for 6 minutes, or until slightly tender. Drain potatoes and set aside while the pan heats up.  

Add vegetable oil to a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.  

Note: A cast iron skillet is great here, but a good non-stick pan works well too. 

When the oil is heated, spread the potatoes in a single layer and then let them sit and cook for about five minutes. DON'T TOUCH THEM. Just leave them be.   

Turn potatoes every 4-5 minutes.

After the potatoes have crisped up a bit, add half of the seasoning and mix gently to combine. 

Continue cooking the potatoes, turning them every 4-5 minutes, until you've reached your desired crispness. 

Don't forget to add the remaining seasoning a few minutes before they're done. 

Source: Macheesmo

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Homemade Marshmallows

Whenever I come back from the states, I bring a stash of goodies with me. Random things that are hard to find here. Clothes and school stuff, of course, but I also stock up on food items as well. Kosher salt, red wine vinegar, vanilla. And marshmallows. Marshmallows are a hot commodity in these parts. So, it's super helpful to have the option of making my own. And, honestly, they're so much better made from scratch and really not too difficult. These little babies are delicious on top of s'mores brownies, dipped in chocolate, or slathered with Nutella.


  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin 
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar 

Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup. 

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  

Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 24o degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.  

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin.  

Turn the mixer to high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. 

Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.  

Generously dust a 9 x 13 nonmetal dish with powdered sugar.  

Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and dust with more powdered sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until the marshmallows dry out.  

Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them in squares.

Source: Ina Garten