Lately I feel like a hamster on a wheel, trying to keep abreast of Cook the Book Fridays bi-weekly recipe challenges. Sometimes I cook them on time. Sometimes I cook them late. More often than not, my blog posts have been monthly instead of recipe-by-recipe. Despite my best intentions, catchup has been the norm. It’s a new year, so I’m hoping that January represents more consistency on my part.
This week’s selection from Everyday Dorie is Pasta with Shrimp, Squash, Lemon and Lots of Herbs, or in my case, Pasta with Shrimp, Broccoli Rabe, Lemon and Lots of Herbs. This recipe has many components, but once your mise en place is set, the whole dish comes together quickly.
There are many steps, but they are all easy. First, you zest the lemons into the serving bowl. Then you juice the lemons. In an interesting twist, the spent halves are added to the pasta water to infuse further lemony flavor. While the pasta cooks, you sauté shrimp, then the vegetables. When the pasta is done, and drained, the shrimp and vegetables are tossed with the pasta along with butter, lemon juice, some reserved pasta water, and the tomatoes. Finally, the pasta is transferred to the serving bowl with the lemon zest and topped with fresh herbs and stirred together.
Dorie recommends using pasta that’s a similar size to the shrimp, so I chose mezze rigatoni. Howard has placed zucchini and summer squash on the “taboo” list at our house, plus they’re out of season, so I substituted broccoli rabe, which I cut into 2-inch lengths and blanched first. I also used a few tablespoons of diced sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh ones. For herbs, Dorie’s recipe lists dill and chives. I already had a mixture of chopped dill, parsley and minced garlic to garnish a fish soup I made, so I used up the rest to top the pasta.
I was worried that the zest of three lemons would be too much. However, we enjoyed the brightness that all aspects of the lemon contributed. Its flavor wasn’t dampened in the leftovers either. I found the proportion of vegetables lacking, so if I make this again, I’ll double them. I will also increase the amount of sun-dried tomatoes I add.
This recipe offers a nice template for a lemony pasta that can evolve through the seasons by varying the vegetables. With a salad, it makes a perfect dinner.
I also made the Sweet and Smoky Roasted Carrots from last month’s schedule. I first made them for Thanksgiving 2018, right after Everyday Dorie was published. At the time, I felt ambivalent about them and particularly didn’t like the whole carrots because they took too long to cook through. I made a note to try cutting the carrots into 1-inch pieces, which is what I did this time around. While the carrots roasted in a more reasonable amount of time, I’m still ambivalent about them. With all the spices and flavorings, they should taste more interesting. Unfortunately, it falls flat on my taste buds. I won’t be making these carrots again. However, I still have some of the spice syrup left, so I’ll test that out on salad or in mayo and see if that works better for me.
If you’re up for trying either of these recipes, you can find the pasta on page 204 and the carrots on page 214 of Everyday Dorie. To see what the other cooks from Cook the Book Fridays thought of these, you can find links to their reviews here for the pasta and here for the carrots.
Happy New Year! Happy Cooking!
In the colder weather my favorite lunch is soup. Most weeks, I’ll make a pot. Most of the soups I make have a thick smooth base from pureed beans or vegetables. I enjoy brothy soups but don’t have as many in my normal repertoire. Enter this week’s recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Everyday Dorie for Cook the Book Fridays. Gingered-Turkey Meatball Soup is a brothy soup. It’s also hearty and delicious. Pretty simple too!
The hardest step (which isn’t hard) is making the meatballs. Ginger, fresh herbs, and lemon zest give the meatballs unexpected bursts of flavor.
Then you need to cut up some vegetables, whatever you are in the mood for or have on hand. I chose sliced carrots, sliced green cabbage, mushrooms, and spinach. At this point, you’re nearly done!
Bring the broth up to a boil. Homemade chicken or turkey broth would gild the lily here, but I used broth made from bouillon. Poach the meatballs by simmering them in the broth. I did this in two batches.
At the same time, bring a pot of water to a boil to cook the rice noodles which only take a few minutes to cook. The rice noodles rest in a bowl of cold water.
Once the meatballs are cooked, add the vegetables and meatballs to the pot and simmer until the vegetables cooked to your liking. About 5 minutes should do it.
If you’re going to finish the whole pot of soup in one meal, drain the noodles and add them to the pot to reheat. However, if you’re going to eat several meals from one pot, I suggest adding noodles to each bowl and ladling the soup over them. I warmed the noodles first by letting them sit in hot water for a few minutes.
Garnish the soup with fresh herb leaves. I used parsley and cilantro. And supply condiments to let everyone further flavor the broth with soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, and rice vinegar. I made scallion pancakes earlier in the week, so I went a simpler route and used the leftover dipping sauce which contained all these ingredients.
I LOVED this soup! The flavors were interesting and satisfying. The combination of meatballs, noodles, and vegetables made each bowl a complete meal. Winter has only just begun, so I know I’ll make this again over the rest of the season.
On the other hand, I made the Apple Custard Crisp a few weeks back when it was on our schedule. It was right before I went away for Thanksgiving, so I didn’t get around to posting on time.
Apple crisp is one of my signature desserts. My own is quite different than this version however I’m always open to trying something new. I’ll be honest. I didn’t like the texture of custard combined with apples plus the flavor was too lemony for me. I also consider crisp to be a vehicle for streusel topping. Dorie suggested starting with half of the streusel in the recipe, I used all of it and still didn’t think it was enough. A fail for my house.
I said I’m open to new things. This week I made an Apple-Persimmon Crisp from the latest issue of Bake from Scratch magazine. It was a winner, with or without caramel drizzled on top. I’ve only eaten persimmons a few times, but the more I eat them, the more I like them. The flavor reminds me of melons. Try it, you’ll like it.
Happy Cooking all month, my friends! I hope you eat many delicious meals, both at home and shared with friends.
Speaking of friends, check out what the other home cooks from Cook the Book Fridays thought about the soup and the crisp. If you want to make them yourself, the recipes are in Dorie Greenspan’s Everyday Dorie. The soup is on page 75, and the crisp is on page 276.