Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snow? Who cares?

We got about three or four inches of snow here today,  but since it's the weekend I don't really mind.  It's lovely to sit around in my pajamas all day and watch the white stuff fall.  We have a fireplace insert that works like a wood stove would, and it's been 74* in our living room all day, without the heat kicking on.  Almost balmy.

I made brownies mid-day because I've been jonesing for something really chocolatey.  I have to say, Martha Stewart came up spades.  I spiked the recipe with about 1/4 tsp each of cinnamon and cayenne pepper, and added chopped walnuts, and these may be my new go-to brownies.  They're really easy to make and it seems to me they'd be endlessly adaptable.  If you'd like to give them a whirl, here's the link: .

Though my husband would probably disagree, one cannot live on brownies alone (even when they're this good).  We had some locally made mushroom and cheese stuffed ravioli, so I decided to see what kind of "pantry sauce" I could make.  I was hoping I had fresh mushrooms, but nope.  I do have dried porcinis, though, so I started there.  I'm pretty pleased with the outcome; the only tweak I'll try next time is a small shot of fresh lemon juice at the end to brighten the flavors.

Dried Porcini and Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce for Pasta
by Me

1/4-1/2 cup dried porcinis, reconstituted in 1 cup boiling water (save the water)and roughly chopped
3 halves sundried tomatoes, reconstituted in 1/4 cup boiling water (save the water) and chopped small, but not fine
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 shallot, finely chopped (about 1/4-1/3 of a cup)
1 small garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, or 1 tsp fresh, chopped fine
2 tbsp vermouth or dry white wine
1/4-1/3 reduced fat cream cheese  (could use mascarpone, but taste will be a little different)
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
squeeze of lemon juice (optional--haven't tried it but think it would be good--if you try it, let me know what you think)

1.  In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil.  Add the shallots and garlic, a small pinch of salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until the alliums are softened.  Add the rosemary, and cook, stirring, one minute.  Add the chopped porcinis and tomatoes, and cook, stirring, about two minutes.

2.  Add vermouth to skillet, cook until almost completely evaporated.  Add the sundried tomato water and the porcini water (careful not to pour to the end, since there will be grit in the bottom of the bowl).  Increase heat to medium high and bring to a bubble.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.

3.  Stir in cream cheese until melted and smooth.  If using, add lemon juice.  Add chopped parsley, taste for seasoning, and if the sauce seems a little tight, add some pasta water, a small splash at a time, until the sauce is the consistency you want.  Serve over pasta.  Or chicken, or pork chops.

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