Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pasta e Fagioli - Yum!

I found a copycat recipe for Olive Garden's Pasta e Fagioli soup years ago and have made it several times since then. I got a bit of a hankering for it and decided it was time to make it again. I doubled the recipe for the most part, but didn't have everything that I needed. So, I kind of tweaked it this time. I'm so glad I did. It turned out to be the best I had ever made.

Pasta e Fagioli (doubled, exactly how I made it this time)
This makes a HUGE pot of soup, you'll need at least a 5 quart pot to make the full recipe.

2 lbs ground beef
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb carrots, peeled and julienned
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 bay leaf
2 (14oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (5.5oz) can V8 juice
2 (15oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
2 (15oz) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans with liquid
2 cans great northern beans with liquid
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp pepper
salt to taste
1 lb ditalini pasta

Brown the ground beef. Drain fat.
Add carrots and onions and saute for 10 minutes.
Add rest of ingredients except pasta and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
In a separate pot, boil pasta for 10 minutes and drain.
To serve, place pasta in bowl and ladle soup over pasta. Top with Parmesan cheese.

It's really best the next day. I know it's tempting to put the pasta into the soup before serving, but the pasta will soak up all the moisture from the soup and get mushy and unappetizing that way. Store them separately. StumbleUpon

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another Not-So-Successful Attempt At Making Thai Food

Try as I might, I cannot get a Thai curry to turn out right in my kitchen. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, but there has to be something amiss. I've tried multiple different recipes, a couple different curry pastes, light coconut milk and regular coconut milk. I've tried a couple recipes from America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated recipes and even they didn't turn out quite right. What I'm looking for in a good curry is bright, complex flavor and mine keep falling flat. My most recent attempt was no exception.

I was really craving some good curry, so I bothered the internet with my problems and searched for a Thai red curry recipe. This is the one I tried. When my sisters and I went out for Thai food in Pittsburgh, we had an amazing red chicken curry with pineapple and red peppers. I was hoping that this one might come close to that one. Terribly disappointing. There was no flavor. At all. One would think that with all those different flavors combined, there would be some kind of complex flavor to it. There wasn't.

So I tried to doctor it a bit. I added a jalapeno to try to increase the heat to no avail. It was a fairly mild pepper. Therefore, I added a good bit of sriracha and that really kicked up the heat. I added more cilantro and a bit of mint hoping to brighten the flavor. That helped a bit, but not enough to make it as delicious as I wanted it. I added salt and pepper. Still really flat. By this time, I was pretty hungry so I decided to let it wait for another day. I served myself some of the flat curry over jasmine rice and lamented my bad culinary luck while I ate my late lunch. Perhaps I'll mess with it some more tomorrow.

Eric, my husband and guinea pig, suggested that I try a yellow curry. He didn't have the traumatic experiences (I may be exaggerating just a bit) with yellow curry that I had as a young child and he actually likes that stuff. (gross!!) I will never and I mean NEVER make yellow curry. I can't even handle the smell of it. So as much as I love my husband, he'll have to get his yellow curry from someone else.

So, if anyone out there in Internet Land has a wonderful Thai curry recipe, please, Please, PLEASE send it my way. StumbleUpon