Wednesday, January 20, 2016

baked ziti

Baked Ziti
Adapted from Food + Wine via Amateur Gourmet

1 pound ziti or penne
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lean ground sirloin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
One 24-ounce jar Rao's marinara sauce (I used nearly all of a 32-ounce jar, to beneficial effect)
1 cup fresh ricotta (I reduced this from 1 1/2 cups)
1 large round ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

If you’re making this ahead, don’t preheat your oven yet. If you’re making it all at once, preheat your oven to 450.

In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat, add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until the onion is softened but not brown. Add the garlic and cook another minute just until fragrant. Add the ground sirloin, crushed red pepper and paprika, seasoning with salt. Turn the heat up to high, break up the meat with a spoon and cook until the meat is brown (and no longer pink). Add the sauce, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook—partially covered—for 5 minutes until the sauce tastes great. Set aside.

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water. Cook one or two minutes less than the package says; you want it al dente. Drain the pasta and then toss the pasta in the sauce. Add the ricotta in large dollops and stir gently, leaving some clumps.

Pour half the ziti into a 9x13-inch baking dish, top with half of the mozzarella and parmesan. Repeat with the remaining ziti and cheeses. [Here’s where you can cover with foil and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake.]

When you’re ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and bake the ziti uncovered for 15 minutes, until bubbling and browned. Let the ziti rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

spinach and cheese strata

For our Christmas morning menu... 

Spinach and Cheese Strata
Adapted from Gourmet, via Smitten Kitchen 

Serves 6 to 8

1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed, squeeze of all excess liquid, and chopped
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed French or Italian bread in 1-inch cubes (1/2 lb)
6 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
2 ounces finely grated parmesan (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Sauté onion in butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking for one minute. Stir in spinach, remove from heat and set aside.

Spread one third of the bread cubes in a well-buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other ceramic baking dish. Top with one-third of spinach mixture and one-third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice with remaining bread, spinach and cheese.

Whisk eggs, milk, mustard and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Cover with plastic wrap and chill strata for eat least 8 hours or up to a day.

The next day, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350°F. Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.