Sunday, June 28, 2020

Nigella's Mozzarella Garlic Bread

I make garlic bread often as it is a family favorite. I usually slice my loaf in half lengthwise and top both sides of the loaf with butter, garlic, herbs, and Parmesan. Slicing the bread lengthwise gives lots of surface area for the garlic butter and we love the nutty saltiness of the Parmesan cheese.

I wanted to try Nigella's recipe because she slices the bread straight down and tucks the garlic butter mixture in between the slices. Plus, her recipe uses creamy mozzarella in place of Parmesan. I added finely chopped parsley because I have to have herbs in my garlic bread.

Nigella's recipe is delicious. Everyone loved the way the bread looked, with the butter, garlic, and cheese oozing out between the slices. It is definitely very inviting. We loved the flavor and the creaminess of the mozzarella. HOWEVER, we decided that we love the flavor of Parmesan cheese more, SO I will definitely try this recipe again replacing the mozzarella with Parmesan. Either way, you can't go wrong, no matter which way you slice it, garlic bread is sooo addictive!

Mozzarella Garlic Bread
by Nigella Lawson 
Adapted from

7 tablespoons butter, softened
salt, to taste
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, finely chopped
1 (16 oz) white sourdough loaf or other chewy bread

 Preheat oven to 425F. Beat butter, salt, red pepper, garlic, and parsley in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat in mozzarella. (Note: I don't like getting out extra gadgets and washing them so I did this step by hand).

Cut bread loaf into 1-inch thick diagonal slices, taking care not to cut through the bottom of the bread.

Gently spread the garlic mixture generously and evenly between the slices. Rub any remaining mixture on top of the loaf.

Wrap bread loaf in foil, crimping the foil together at the top to seal. Bake loaf in a preheated oven until the top of the bread is brown and crisp and cheese has melted about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven. Lift bread out of foil and place it on a cutting board. Cut and separate the slices using a serrated knife. Serve immediately.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Ina's Lemon Spaghetti {102 Days Inside My House and Counting...}

Today marks 102 days inside my house. I hung in there with the first 90 or so and I am not ashamed to say I am coming undone. 

I cannot handle the TV, the phone, or dealing with leaving the house. The new normal? That's a big no thank you for me. It makes me feel a million different ways, none of them good.

I am thankful I'm able to stay home. Trust me, I'm not taking it for granted. However, I'm also worried about my job and the kids from school. Will we have school in the fall? How are my students doing during the protests and riots? How do they feel about everything going on? Are they ok? Have they lost anyone to Covid-19? Can we do school safely? Will the kids wear their masks? How can I keep them apart? Will we get corona regardless? Will I lose someone I love? What if school is only online? How can I do online better? Nothing but anxiety. Massive anxiety.

I'm starting to feel hopelessly restless, completely unable to devote my attention to any one thing for very long. Is the whole world on fire? It sure feels like it. 

Even cooking, something I feel passionate about, is no longer enjoyable. A handful of ingredients is all I can be bothered to deal with. 

Pasta, butter, lemons, salt and pepper and maybe some basil (Mom would be screaming at me that the basil needs a haircut so basil is a great addition here). You can do this! Does this recipe have way too much butter? Yes! Can you cut it in half? Sure. Did I? No. Did I maybe wish I did? Yes, but that's ok. Pour off whatever butter you don't need for the pasta and save it for another day.

This is delicious. This is rich. This is fresh with the lemon and the basil. This is comforting. This is easy. This is summer indulgence at it's best. This speaks to me. I can do this.

Burying your head in the sand or watch the news. Join a protest or don't join a protest. Go to work or enjoy unemployment. Wear a mask or don't wear a mask. Enjoy the new normal or stay in. Gain weight or lose weight. Do your house projects or ignore them. Read a book or watch TV. Laugh your head off or sit and cry. Share your feelings or keep them to yourself. Say your prayers or send good wishes. Do a little bit of both or do none of them. However you chose to deal with 2020, do it. Do it apologetically. When we come out of this, we will all be stronger. I am anxiously awaiting that day.

Lemon Spaghetti
Recipe Adapted from Food Network
by Ina Garten
Makes 6 servings

salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
zest and juice of 2 large lemons
1 lemon for garnish
basil, for garnish, if using*

Add two tablespoons of salt to a large pot of boiling water. Add the pasta and cook just short of package directions (it will finish cooking in the butter sauce). 

Meanwhile, heat a large 12" skillet, add the butter, and heat until the butter is melted. Add the zest and juice of the lemons. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper, or to taste, and swirl the pan to combine.

As soon as the pasta is cooked, lift the pasta out of the water with tongs, allowing some of the pasta water to drain back into the pot, and add all the pasta to the sauce. Cook for one minute, adding pasta water to the sauce with a ladle just enough to keep the pasta moist. (I'm a little confused about these directions as 2 sticks of butter keeps the pasta overly moist -in fact it could do with a little less - so use caution with the amount of water you add as you don't want it to get to watery).

Transfer the pasta to a serving platter or individual plates and garnish with more lemon zest, salt and pepper, basil, and maybe a little squeeze of lemon juice on the top. Serve hot.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Giada's Peach and Strawberry Crumble

Saturday morning I needed to get out of my head and leave the house. Our local farmer's market is a real small deal and I was happy with their safety measures. I knew what I wanted. I would be in and out in no time at all.

A flowering basket for my front porch and some beautiful strawberries and peaches from the local orchard. Fruits and veggies that grow together go together so I searched until I found a recipe that paired them together, Giada's Peach and Strawberry Crumble.

Something sweet for all the pain in this world. Kitchen therapy is happening daily in my house.

I found myself really inhaling the aroma of the peaches....the smell of summer. I caught myself smiling at how beautiful the fruit looks all cut up in the bowl, so fresh and colorful. I felt so thankful in that moment. Pleasure nowadays is in the little things.

I reach for my grandma's dishes and scoop some crumble in the bowl, topped with vanilla ice cream, of course. I take it outside on the back patio and enjoy it while looking at the flower and herb garden mom planted. I can still feel her presence out there.

I take a bite of the crumble and it is bright, fresh, delicious. I love the texture of the juicy fruit, cool creamy ice cream, and the crumbly topping with its flecks of sea salt that help to bring out the sweetness of the fruit.

I think about how much my mom would appreciate this crumble. I chuckle because I don't have to wonder what mom would say, she said the same thing anytime anyone made something fresh from the farmer's market or backyard. With the most pleasant smile and a twinkle in her eye she'd always say, "Wow, that is so fresh. It's just special. It's just so special."

Peach and Strawberry Crumble
Adapted from Food Network
By Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 6-8

butter, for pan

For the filling:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 large lemon)
1-1/2 tablespoons arrowroot flour or cornstarch
1 pound medium strawberries, halved
1-1/2 pounds yellow or white peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup light brown sugar

For the topping:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup old fashioned style oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, chilled & cut into 1/2" cubes

Serving suggestion: whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or gelato

Put oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter an 8x8" glass baking dish. Set aside.

For the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and arrowroot or cornstarch until smooth. Add the strawberries, peaches, and brown sugar. Gently toss until the fruit is coated. Pour the fruit mixture into the prepared pan. 

For the topping: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, oats, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Pulse until mixed (Note: I didn't want my crumble blended up real fine so I skipped this process). Add the butter. Pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Sprinkle the mixture over the filling and bake for 40 to 45minutes until the filling is bubbling and the top is light golden. Cool the crumble for 5 minutes.

Spoon the warm crumble into bowls and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.