If you remember last week’s post, I mentioned that I have recently been introduced to the world of Bon Appetit Test Kitchen videos, and I can’t believe I survived this long without them honestly. Aside from being incredibly informative, they’re so wholesome and everyone is super lovely and nice to each other and I love it so much.
Of the test kitchen chefs, I keep finding myself going back to the videos done by Molly Baz, because they’re simple in procedure, but packed with flavor, also I’m fascinated by her collection of cross-back aprons. So much so that I definitely also bought one and I’m in LOVE with it. But anyway, back to food because that’s why we’re here, this recipe comes from Molly herself (original can be found here), and it’s literally so good that the first time I made it I gasped out loud. I’m not kidding!! It’s rich and cheesy like a fettucine alfredo, but with a bright zing of lemon so that it doesn’t feel heavy, it’s a dream come true. Plus it’s done in under half an hour so what more could you possibly want from a pasta dish??
Because I can barely contain my excitement, we’ll get right to it, but not before I give you five things to be happy about today! ONE. A book so gripping that you read it from start to finish in one sitting, well into the night. TWO. Iced coffee with coffee ice cubes. THREE. A three day weekend. FOUR. Drinks served in mason jars. FIVE. Clothes that you can wear from winter to spring.
12 oz. thick spaghetti
¾ cup heavy cream
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Fresh ground black pepper
ONE. Before starting, place your pot of water on the stove to boil, so that it’s ready when you are. Set out all of your ingredients in their correct measurements (called a mise en place!) because once you get started, you won’t have time to stop and grate cheese or juice a lemon on the go.
TWO. Using a vegetable peeler, cut one wide strip of the lemon peel and slice it into thin strips and set aside (this will be a garnish for later!). Zest the remaining peel of the lemon into a dutch oven or large saucepan, then juice the same lemon and reserve 2 tablespoons of juice.
THREE. Pour the cream into the dutch oven with the lemon zest, and cook on medium heat until the cream is heated through and just about to simmer. *Start cooking your pasta now!* Lower the heat and whisk in your butter, one tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is creamy and emulsified, then remove the pot from the heat.
FOUR. When your pasta is very al dente, about 3 minutes earlier than the package instructions, scoop out 1½ cups of pasta cooking water, and add ¾ cup to the cream sauce. Transfer your pasta to the sauce pot using a pair of tongs (it’s okay if some pasta water drips in as well), and return to medium heat. Cook the pasta for 3 minutes, adding the parmesan cheese gradually until all the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth and glossy. Feel free to add more pasta water a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Stir in the reserved lemon juice now, and season with salt and pepper as needed.
FIVE. To serve, swirl a generous pile of pasta onto the plate, garnish with more fresh black pepper, and the reserved lemon peel strips. Enjoy!!!
Ooooooh you guys, I can’t believe I ever forgot about how good popovers are. They are literally so simple to make and you can eat them with dinner, with a cup of tea, or several at a time while they’re warm and crisp right out of the oven. I came across this recipe from Zoe Bakes and sprang into action, immediately ordering a popover pan from Amazon. Naturally because I’m me, the pan sat on my kitchen table for several days after arriving before I did anything about it, but goodness am I glad that I did.
For those who are unfamiliar with popovers, they’re the lightest, puffiest little pastries, practically hollow on the inside (perfect for filling with jam and butter), with the most comforting crisp outside and eggy inside. They are typically baked in a pan made specifically for popovers (I bought this one here), but I have read that you can also make them in a regular muffin tin, you may just have to play around with the baking times and how much you fill each cup. They are best eaten fresh out of the oven, but I still found myself reheating a leftover until it was crisp in the oven because I couldn’t bear to let it go to waste.
On this particular baking adventure, I brought my dear friend Michelle, who I have known for years and often share a brain with, it feels like. We baked 12 popovers and then she introduced me to the world of Bon Appetit Test Kitchen cooking videos and suddenly they are the only thing I care about watching (Bon Appetit, if you’re reading this, hire me pls). It’s always so inspiring to watch professionals pulling together recipes as they go, and being able to hear about the thought process and reasoning behind certain flavor combinations or techniques teaches me so much. Also, everyone is so lovely and hilarious and I think I’ve gone through every episode of It’s Alive! with Brad Leone to exist. It’s in your best interest to head over to YouTube right now and maybe binge it, it’s better than regular binge watching because it’s informative, right?? Okay now that I’m done fangirling about that, we can get down to business, thanks for sticking with me.
Here are 5 things to be happy about today! ONE. The half-light of evening.
TWO. Postcard views.
THREE. The green shoots of new plants.
FOUR. Frolicking. FIVE. Cake mix.
ONE. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Blend together the eggs, milk, flour, salt, melted butter, and vanilla so that it’s totally smooth and a little bubbly.
TWO. Brush your popover pan with the softened butter and place in the preheated oven until the butter is melted and the pans are hot.
THREE. Pour the batter into each cup ¾ of the way full, and bake for 15 minutes, until golden and puffed up. At this point, decrease the temperature to 350ºF without opening the oven door. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, until the color is deep golden.
FOUR. Tap the popovers out of the pan immediately so that they remain crisp and don’t steam. Best served immediately.
*Tip: it’s pretty easy to change up the flavor of these, whether you stir finely shredded cheddar cheese and some green onions into the batter, or you brush the finished popovers with melted butter and roll them in cinnamon sugar, it’s totally up to you!! Pls note that if you’re going savory, remove the vanilla extract!
WELCOME! As you can probably tell by the title of this recipe, I recently came into the possession of an Instant Pot and boy do I have a lot to say about it. First off, I got my Instant Pot for $30 (THIRTY. DOLLARS!!!) because I got a bunch of Amazon gift cards for Christmas and this seemed like as good a purchase as any, right? Watching it deduct $75 from the list price made me feel like one of those extreme couponers and I finally GET IT. My first adventure was this chicken tortilla soup and after working out some of the kinks it turned out delicious, so I was feeling confident. I then came across this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis and thought, I can adapt this to my Instant Pot no problem!!
Well, as I’m sure you can guess, it was in fact a problem. But, the magic of this blog is that I work this out so that you don’t have to! Turns out, Instant Pots do NOT like flour, and if you add even the tiniest bit of flour to your sauce, it will sink to the bottom, burn, and tell you repeatedly that the whole thing is burning four to five times until you take everything out, scrub the inner pot, and the start over. Yeah. So, I did this several times and had several full on tantrums before it worked. I still get mad at myself very easily when cooking things don’t work out the first time I try them, which I know is a bad habit and one I am certainly trying to kick, but this was truly testing me.
Now, another note about Instant Pots is that while yes, they definitely cut down the cooking time on things like stews and short ribs that would otherwise take several hours, you have to factor in the time that the pot takes to come to its set temperature and pressure, which, according to the manual, can take anywhere between 10 and 40 minutes depending on the volume and starting temperature of the food inside it. So, if your ribs need to cook for an hour and 10 minutes total, remember to add in an average 30 minutes or so because the hour and 10 minutes doesn’t start until it’s come to full pressure. After several false starts, my short ribs had almost come to a full, high pressure cooking situation several times, and as a result, I ended up lowering my overall cooking time to take that into account. However, according to the chart that came with my pot, beef ribs should be cooked for about 20-25 minutes per pound, so you can use that factor accordingly.
In the end, this worked out and the lasagna was to DIE for, but I for sure gave myself a baptism by fire here. I feel as though my Instant Pot and I are destined to be enemies, but like ones that have some playful banter going, you know? I look forward to getting to know the ins and outs of this thing, and seeing how many day-long recipes I can turn into quicker projects. This recipe can also be started on a stovetop instead of the Instant Pot, and I’ve included those directions at the bottom as well.
Anyways, enough ranting, here are 5 things to be happy about today before we get to cooking: ONE. When it’s been a week since New Year’s and you’re still following some resolutions.
TWO. An afternoon iced coffee to give you that energy kick you need.
THREE. Waking up to rain on a Saturday morning with nothing to do but stay in bed and catch up on TV.
FOUR. When you hear your grandparents talk about things they used to do growing up.
2 Tbs olive oil
4 oz. diced pancetta
3½-4 lbs. bone-in short ribs
Kosher salt, to taste
2 medium onions
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 cups beef broth
2 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
2½ cups jarred pasta sauce (or your own if you feel like it!)
2 boxes no-boil lasagna noodles (12-15 noodles total)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups parmesan cheese
Steps (stovetop directions at bottom)
ONE. Turn your Instant Pot to Sauté, then add the olive oil. When the olive oil is heated, add the pancetta and cook until crisp and rendered. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate. In the pot with the rendered fat and olive oil, sear your short ribs for roughly 4 minutes, meat side down, turning if necessary so all sides are cooked. Do this in batches if you need to! Transfer cooked ribs to a bowl and set aside.
TWO. Add all chopped vegetables to the pan and allow to sweat, scraping the brown bits from the bottom as you go. I learned this the hard way, the scraping of the Instant Pot is NECESSARY, otherwise you will continue to get an annoying “burn” message. Add kosher salt here (about 1 to 2 tablespoons) and cook until the veggies are translucent and soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.
THREE. Add the red wine, crushed tomatoes, broth, and tomato paste, then add the seared short ribs and pancetta, layering so that no tomato paste will burn to the bottom of the pot. Make sure that the meat is entirely covered by the liquid, but that the liquid is not going over the 2/3 limit of your pot! Tie together the rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves with twine and toss in on top.
FOUR. Securely close the top of your Instant Pot and set to the “Meat/Stew” setting, on Normal, and adjust the cooking time based on the amount of meat you’re cooking with. According to the Instant Pot cooking chart, it should be about 20-25 minutes per pound of beef ribs, so mine cooked overall for 1 hour and 10 minutes (if you count how many times it came up to temperature and then claimed it was burning lol).
FIVE. Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Once the meat is finished cooking, remove bones and herb bundle and shred the meat, placing it in a large bowl. Add 3 cups of the tomato cooking liquid to the meat and mix. Feel free to save the remaining sauce for pasta, however I would let it chill and then skim some of the fat off once it hardens. To assemble the lasagna, spread a thin layer of jarred tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Add a layer of 4 to 5 lasagna noodles, breaking them and arranging them as necessary to fit. Spread half the meat mixture over the first layer of noodles, then top with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and ½ cup of parmesan. Add another layer of noodles, the rest of the meat, and then another cup of mozzarella plus ½ cup parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles, 2 cups of jarred tomato sauce, 1 cup of mozzarella, and the rest of the parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.
*For the stovetop, simply complete steps one through three in a dutch oven or other large pot, then cook for 3 hours, uncovered for the last hour, before continuing with step 5.
Now bask in the praise of your dinner guests! YUM! xoxoxoxoxoxoD