Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rigatoni Pie

I found this idea on pinterest. It looked like such a cool idea to make a simple dinner recipe fancy. It was really easy. Just make sure to put the spring form pan on a large pan with sides because the juices will leak out while baking.

Pasta Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 pound rigatoni
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound ground beef (I used ground sirloin)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 can (28 ounces) good quality crushed tomatoes
Butter, for pan
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces coarsely grated mozzarella

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until slightly underdone (I cooked mine for 12 minutes when the box indicated 14 minutes). One pound of pasta should be cooked in 6 quarts of water, make sure you are using a big enough pot so the pasta doesn't stick together. When done, rinse in cold water and drain again. Toss pasta with 1 Tablespoon olive oil to coat. Set aside.

Heat remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef. Cook, stirring occasionally until browned. Add garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes more.

Add crushed tomatoes; simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Toss pasta with Parmesan cheese. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Tightly pack pasta into pan, standing each piece on end. Spread meat sauce on top of pasta.

Push the meat sauce into the pasta holes filling each one up. Stuffing the meat into the holes is a weirdly satisfying task. Enough said.

Place in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese is golden. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen and then unmold.

Cut into wedges and serve with any remaining meat sauce you might have.

Homemade Auntie Anne's Pretzels

I don't think these taste exactly like Auntie Anne's, but they're seriously good.

Homemade Auntie Annes Pretzels
Adapted From Korean American Mommy (http://www.koreanamericanmommy.com/2010/12/homemade-pretzels.html)
Makes: 10-12 large pretzels
Prep Time: 1 hour, plus 1 hour and 20 minutes for rising
Cook Time: 10 minutes

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup bread flour

Baking Soda Bath
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda

4 tablespoons butter, melted
rock salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons water

To prepare your dough, combine 1 1/2 cups of warm water and yeast into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using a spoon, gently stir until your yeast dissolves. Then add your brown sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Add your all purpose flour and bread flour and using the paddle attachment, mix on low for about 10 seconds until combined. Switch your attachment to the dough hook and mix on high for 5 minutes to knead your dough. If you don't have an electric mixer, you can knead by hand. Lightly grease a large pot by brushing the bottom and sides of the pan with olive oil. Place your ball of dough in the center of your pot, cover it, and let it sit for 1 hour in a warm space to rise. I keep my oven at 350 degrees and place the pot on top of the stove.

Immediately after making your dough, prepare your baking soda bath in a large mixing bowl by combining 2 cups of warm water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Stir until dissolved and continue to stir regularly while the dough is rising.

Once your dough is finished rising and has doubled in size. Put your ball of dough on a pastry mat and remove a section about 3/4 cup in size. You can break off as large or as small of a piece as you like depending on the pretzel size you want to make. Roll your section of dough into a long 1/2 inch thick string of dough. The length will vary depending on how big you want your pretzel, but the thickness should be no bigger than 1/2 inch in diameter. When rolling the dough, I found it helpful not flouring my work surface and lightly wetting my hands with water (not soaking wet). To get the right shape, roll the dough up and down with your hands, all the while pushing from the center out to get a long and narrow string of dough. That's what worked for me, but you'll find a good rhythm of your own too I'm sure!

Once you have your long string of dough, bring one end to the center, letting it hang slightly over the edge. Then bring your other end over and weave it underneath the first loop to get a pretty knot. Then dip your pretzel into the baking soda bath water, making sure to hold its shape in place. Place it on a well greased cookie sheet, making sure to put them about 1 1/2 inches in between each other. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and let your pretzels sit for 15-20 minutes before baking to allow for a second rise. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, prepare your dipping ingredients. Melt about 4 tablespoons of butter. Then mix your sugar and cinnamon together if you're making cinnamon sugar pretzels. To make an icing glaze to dip your cinnamon sugar pretzels in, combine your powdered sugar and water together in a bowl. Mix until combined and set aside for dipping. When your pretzels are cool enough to handle, generously brush them all over with your melted butter. Then dip in your cinnamon sugar mixture until coated or sprinkle with sea salt. Serve your traditional pretzels with a side of mustard for dipping or serve your cinnamon sugar pretzels with icing.

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies

I found these cookies on pinterest, my new favorite obsession. They're good. Rich and yummy. You definitely don't want to over bake these.

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (about 9 ounces), divided

3 large egg whites, room temperature

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided (I used 2 cups)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in glass bowl in microwave, stirring twice, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly.

Using electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 (I halved the sugar here) cup sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow creme. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. On low speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue. Stir in lukewarm chocolate and 1/2 cup chocolate chips (dough will become very stiff).

Place 1/2 cup sugar in bowl. Roll 1 rounded tablespoon dough into ball; roll in sugar, coating thickly. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and tops crack, about 10 minutes. Cool on sheets on rack 10 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.

Yield: Makes about 18