Sunday, October 28, 2012

Batten Down the Hatches

This week is shaping up to be a messy one--so when you're stuck inside with no where to go since the whole city is practically shut down, whip up some comfort food while the rain falls and the wind blows.

Here are some of my favorites for those days when staying in is your only option:

Turkey Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Pickled Onions

I use rye bread here, but really any bread will do. Just make sure it is sturdy enough to hold up to the ingredients.

  • 2 slices of rye bread
  • 2-3 Tbsp butter
  • 3-4 slices of turkey
  • 2-3 slices Monterey jack cheese
  • 2-3 pieces of arugula (optional)
  • A handful of sweet pickled onions or another sweet pickle

1. Heat a frying pan, preferably a cast iron one, over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes. While the pan is heating, assemble the sandwich, starting with a layer of bread, then cheese, then turkey, arugula, pickles, and another slice of bread. Butter the side closest to the cheese and place the sandwich butter-side down on to the hot pan to cook.
2.Once the bottom of the sandwich is browned, about 2-3 minutes, butter the top of the sandwich and carefully flip the sandwich over in the pan. Toast for another minute, then turn the heat to its lowest setting and cover the pan. Watch the cheese, and when it melts you're done. Eat immediately.

Baked Ziti

If you don't have Italian seasoning, use 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme.

  • 1 pound ziti (can sub penne) pasta
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage or ground beef or pork
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary (or basil), minced
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large jar of marinara sauce (about 32 ounces) or make your own tomato sauce
  • 1/2 pound of mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 heaping cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a strong boil. Add about a tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water. Add the pasta and boil, uncovered, until the pasta is al dente—edible but still a little firm. Drain the pasta through a colander. Toss with a little olive oil so the pasta does not stick together while you make the sauce.
2. Pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil into a large sauté pan on medium-high to heat. When the oil is hot, add the bulk sausage or ground meat. Do not crowd the pan (work in batches if needed). Break up any large chunks of sausage as it cooks. Brown well. Don't stir that often or it will be more difficult for the meat to brown. If you are using ground beef or pork instead of sausage, add a little salt.
3. When the meat is mostly browned, add the onions and stir well to combine. Sauté everything until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary or basil, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cook 1 minute, then add the tomato sauce and stir well. Bring to a simmer.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13-inch casserole pan, then dot the surface with half the ricotta cheese. Ladle in some sauce with the pasta, mix it well and add the pasta into the casserole.
5. Pour the rest of the sauce over the pasta, dot the remaining ricotta cheese over the pasta, and sprinkle on top both the mozzarella and the Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven until the top is nicely browned, about 20 minutes.

Serves at least 8 

And nothing says comfort more than these babies:

Baked Apples

  • 4 large good baking apples, such as Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, or Jonagold
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup currants or chopped raisins
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash apples. Remove cores to 1/2 inch of the bottom of the apples. It helps if you have an apple corer, but if not, you can use a paring knife to cut out first the stem area, and then the core. Use a spoon to dig out the seeds. Make the holes about 3/4-inch to an inch wide.
2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, currants/raisins, and pecans. Place apples in a 8-inch-by-8-inch square baking pan. Stuff each apple with this mixture. Top with a dot of butter (1/4 of the Tbps).
3. Add boiling water to the baking pan. Bake 30-40 minutes, until tender, but not mushy. Remove from the oven and baste the apples several times with the pan juices.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream on the side.

 Makes 4 servings.




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