Welcome to Sarah's Adventures in Culinary Experimentation

This blog is for posting recipes I've experimented with while teaching myself to cook. Some I have taken from my favorite recipe books, others are purely my own experimentations. My audience is usually just my husband, my toddler daughter, and I and we are living on a tight budget. Sometimes you might find a splurge.

Hopefully you'll find something here that you like!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sausage, Beans and Broccoli Rabe Soup

Another favorite that I got from the FoodNetwork.com website. This was done by Rachael Ray on her show 30 Minute Meals on the episode Rainy Day Relief. Late I'll post the delicious mozzerella sandwich that she did also which goes beautifully with this soup as a comfort on those rainy days.

Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
1 1/4 pounds Italian bulk sweet sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped into small dice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cans white beans, drained
Salt and pepper
4 cups chopped broccoli rabe and greens
2 quarts chicken stock
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano, to pass at table

Heat medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and sausage and brown. Add veggies, bay leaf and beans. Season with salt and pepper. Cook mixture 5 minutes to begin to soften the vegetables. Add rabe and wilt. Add stock and cover pot. Raise heat and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve soup with grated cheese, for topping.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fusilli with Sausage, Artichokes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This recipe is from foodnetwork.com and was done by Giada De Laurentiis on her show Everyday Italian in the episode Stress-Free Italian. So you know its an easy recipe. If you had Christmas lunch with us in 2006, this is the pasta dish we cooked. I've tweaked it over the years as I've cooked it more and more often, so don't be scared to make the recipe your own.

Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

3/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced, 2 tablespoons of oil reserved
1 pound Italian hot sausages, casings removed
2 (8-ounce) packages frozen artichoke hearts (I use canned, quartered artichokes, drained)
2 large cloves garlic, chopped (2 teaspoons minced garlic)
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
16 ounces fusilli pasta
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, plus additional for garnish
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
8 ounces water-packed fresh mozzarella, drained and cubed, optional (do not use shredded mozz)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil reserved from the tomatoes in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown, breaking up the meat into bite-size pieces with a fork, about 8 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a bowl. Add the artichokes and garlic to the same skillet, and saute over medium heat until the garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, wine, and sun-dried tomatoes. Boil over medium-high heat until the sauce reduces slightly, stirring occasionally, about 8minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the fusilli in boiling water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta (do not rinse). Add the pasta, sausage, 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, and parsley to the artichoke mixture. Toss until the sauce is almost absorbed by the pasta. Stir in the mozzarella. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve, passing the additional Parmesan cheese alongside.

Note: We took out the parmesan cheese and it tasted quite good.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Randomly Desperate Vegetable Medley

Randomly Desperate Vegetable Medley

1 TBSP butter or margarine
1 can sweet corn nibblets
1 head broccoli
1 zucchini
1 red onion
1 package of cherry tomatoes
270 g package of 3 bean salad (borolotti, kidney, and cannelloni beans) - I used a Sainsbury 3 Bean Salad
1 sweet pepper
1 tsp minced mint
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

On a cookie sheet or broiling pan put the sliced (or chunked) zucchini, the chunk cut red onion, the cherry tomatoes (whole) and the sweet pepper (chunked). Put them under the broiler until tender. Splash with a little bit of olive oil (specifically the tomatoes, sweet pepper and onion. Also add a little salt and pepper for flavor.

In a small pan on the stove combine the corn and three bean salad with the butter. Heat until tender.

Cook the broccoli however you prefer. Try to use mostly tops and not have long stems on the bottom. Cut the flourettes in half in they’re too big.

As each component finishes cooking, throw into a large mixing bowl. Get some fresh mint and mince and toss with the salad.

Serve with whatever meat you like. It’s just a hearty salad and can also be eaten on its own. Eat bite is its own flavor explosion and its really delicious!

We paired the veggie medley with some lamb and chicken kabobs from a local kabob place. This, combined with a pita, was absolutely delicious. And since the kabobs are grilled, it was relatively healthy as well.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Creamy Tuna and Pasta

Creamy Tuna and Pasta

Ray and I made this a month or two ago and I found it when going through my recipes that I hadn't posted. I got it off of the Sainsbury's website and it turned out really delicious.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Nutrition per serving: 452 calories, 25g fat (of which saturated fat 9g), 0.69g salt, 3g sugar

200g pasta (we used penne)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped (or an onion if you can't find shallots)
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
100g mushrooms, chopped (didn't add because I am allergic)
185g can tuna, drained
3 tablespoons double cream
freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water, according to the pack instructions.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small frying pan and cook the shallots and green pepper until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes more.

3. Stir in the tuna and cream and heat through. Season to taste.

4. Drain the pasta and toss with the tuna sauce.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Delia's Waldorf Chicken Salad

Delia is a British chef who has her own popular website. This salad was made for Ray for the first time by his boss, Andrew. Ray decided to make it for dinner tonight.

1 x 2 lb 4 oz (1 kg) cooked chicken
4 sticks of celery (4 oz/110 g), chopped
8 spring onions,chopped (including the green parts)
2 oz (50 g) walnut halves, roughly chopped
6 oz (175 g) seedless black grapes, halved (however many you want)
a few lettuce leaves
sprigs of watercress, to garnish

For the dressing:
1 teaspoon sea salt (half that if you are using regular salt)
2 cloves garlic (1 tsp minced garlic)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 rounded tablespoons mayonnaise
2 heaped dessertspoons natural yoghurt (greek natural yoghurt)
freshly milled black pepper

Begin by stripping the skin from the chicken and discarding it. Then remove the flesh from the bones and slice it into longish, 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick pieces, and place these in a large bowl. Next, add the chopped celery to the bowl, together with the spring onions and chopped walnuts.

Now for the dressing: place the salt in a mortar and crush it quite coarsely, then add the garlic and, as you begin to crush it and it comes into contact with the salt, it will quickly break down to a puree. Next add the tarragon, mayonnaise and yoghurt with a few twists of freshly milled pepper and blend everything together thoroughly. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss everything together well to get a good coating of the dressing. Arrange some lettuce leaves in a large, shallow serving dish, pile the chicken salad on top, sprinkle the grapes all over, and, if you like, garnish with sprigs of watercress.

Note: We doubled the dressing, but not the salt. It was really delicious. We just used a whole pack of chicken too. I did the assembly, but this was something my husband, Ray, put together. It was so delicious I said we need to eat this like 1-2 times a week. It was fresh, filling, and easy to make.

Sorry no pictures. Maybe next time.

This recipe is from deliaonline.com as recommended by Andrew.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quick and Easy Potato Pancakes

Quick and Easy Potato Pancakes
(Makes Roughly 20)
I couldn't help it, I had to post this recipe, as simple as it is and regardless of how anti-carb many of you are.

I learned how to make a simple potato pancake which was easy, delicious, and the leftovers stored beautifully.

Peel and shred (which a cheese shredder… use the larger shredder style) 4-5 medium potatoes. Then dice 1 medium yellow onion. If you are gutsy enough, shred the onion as well. Then add two eggs and 1.5 - 2 cups of flour. Depending on how wet your mixture is, slowly add the last 1/2 cup of flour. It should have a batter that looks similar to the thickness of a good pancake batter (not runny pancake batter). Make sure you add salt and pepper, else they will be flavorless. Spice them up by adding a small pinch of dried chilies or fresh cut chilies. I think a shredded cheddar might go well in it (but that's for testing later).
Then get your pan nice and hot. Use butter (or marg) and scoop the mixture into the pan. Make whatever size pancake you want. Let it cook on one side until it starts to lightly brown around the edges (like a normal pancake) then flip and then cook through.

Then serve with whatever you desire (sour cream, apple sauce, etc). They were so much better than any prepackaged pancake I have EVER had. Even Ray, who does not like potato pancakes, loved them!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Cheese Sauce with Vegetables, Meatballs, and Tagliatelle

Cheese Sauce with Vegetables, Meatballs, and Tagliatelle

Veggie Medley
2 courgette (zucchini) - cut into chunks
1 Ramiro Peppers (long red pepper, usually has a sweet taste) - cut into chunks
1 large onion - cut into chunks
15 cherry tomatoes (or however many you want) - halved
1 head of broccoli - cut as close to the top in small pieces

On a tray lay down the courgettes and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and salt and paper on them, cover them with foil and put in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. Then move to the broiler, uncover. Drain off any water before broiling. Broil until slightly browned.

In a frying pan, on medium-low cook the chunked onions and chunk peppers until tender or preferred crispiness.

Cook the broccoli in water in a pot until at desired tenderness.

When everything is almost done, put the tomatoes under the broiler until slightly tender, but still whole.

Combine in a bowl together.

500g ground beef (a little over 1lb beef)
1 egg
1 TBSP Worchester Sauce
2 TBSP whole grain mustard
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp red peppers
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Make the meatballs as small as possible, or to whatever size you would prefer. Just make sure they are not too small, or they may get too dry. Cover with foil and cook for about 15 minutes at 350. If you make them very small, it will take less time. Just check on them often.

When done, put into large mixing bowl with vegetables, unless you have large meatballs and want to designate a certain number per serving.

Jarlsburg Cheese Sauce
2 TBSP water
1 Knorr chicken bullion cube
286g jarlsburg cheese (shredded)
1/3 cup double cream (heavy cream)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 small (very small) onion or half a normal sized onion
2 TBSP butter

Sautee onions, bullion, and garlic on a low heat with butter until lightly colored. Then, still on a low heat, add the shredded cheese, butter, pepper and cream. After a bit creamy, add water to thin it out.

Make sure not to curdle the sauce, so keep it on very very low.

How to serve:
In a bowl, place the noodles. On top of that place your vegetable and meatball mixture. Then top with 2-3 spoonfuls of cheese sauce, depending on how much you want.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cheese Sauce over Tagliatelle Pasta with Broccoli

Cheese Sauce over Tagliatelle Pasta with Broccoli

Cut off the tops of the broccoli so you have a lot of small florets. Steam them until they are tender.

Cook your pasta.

Jarlsburg Cheese Sauce
2 TBSP water
1 Knorr chicken bullion cube
286g jarlsburg cheese (shredded)
1/3 cup double cream (heavy cream)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 small (very small) onion or half a normal sized onion
2 TBSP butter

Sautee onions and garlic on a low heat with a little extra virgin olive oil until lightly colored. Then, still on a low heat, added the shredded cheese, butter, bullion cube, pepper and cream. Save the water for last in case you mixture is too thick. Use it as a thinning agent.

Put pasta in serving bowl. Add broccoli. Pour cheese sauce over. Do this individually or in a large bowl. It is up to you.

You can serve this with a breaded white fish on top or maybe some chicken. We intend to experiment to find the best meat. And tomorrow we're going to make this again, no meat, but with lots of veggies like zucchini, vine ripe cherry tomatoes, broccoli and onions. Will post.