Thursday, November 12, 2009

English Muffins

English muffins are one of my favorite breakfast foods. Since I successfully started making bagels, I've been interested in making English muffins. I was curious if the effort and of making them and the taste would be worth it. So, when I had some spare time on a Saturday, I tried making them. Because I love my breadmaker, I used that to knead the dough and let it rise.

They were a bit tedious to make, but in the long run, they're so much better than the ones you buy at the store. I would definitely recommend trying to make them over buying them.

English Muffins
Recipe from King Arthur Flour website (modified slightly)
Makes 16-20 muffins

1 3/4 cups warm milk
3 TBSP butter
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 TBSP sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 1/4 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp yeast

Place the ingredients in the pan of your bread machine following the manufacturer's instructions. Use the "dough" setting. After the cycle is complete, transfer the dough to a cornmeal-sprinkled surface and roll it out until it's about 1/2-inch thick. Cut out the muffins in about 3-inch rounds. Re-roll and cut out any leftover dough. Cover the muffins with a damp cloth and let rest for about 30 minutes.

Heat a cast iron skillet to very low heat (a hard-annonized skillet didn't work as well). Do not grease, but sprinkle with cornmeal. Cook 4-5 muffins at a time, cornmeal side down first, for about 5-7 minutes per side.

Check after about 4 minutes to see that the muffins are browning gently and are neither too dark nor too light. If they are cooking either too fast or too slowly, adjust the temperature of your pan or griddle.

When brown on both sides, transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Spicy Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

Amatriciana (pronounced: mah-tree-shawna) is a very traditional Roman dish. Word is that you can find it any any osteria in the region. Despite that, I've never had it in either trip to Rome. I don't know why. I think I'm probably just too obsessed with the plain spaghetti, lasagna, and pizza to branch out too much. Call me a creature of habit.

Now, as you should all know, I love simple recipes that don't take a whole lot of time to prepare. So, when I came across this recipe on foodnetwork one day, I knew I had to try it. I took a few liberties with the recipe, and we both really liked it. I can't wait to try making it again with a few simple changes.

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana
Serves 4
Prep Time - 5-10 minutes
Cook Time - 20 minutes

1/4 lb pancetta, cut into thin strips*
2 TBSP olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (be generous)
2 tsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 1/2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 lb spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta to al dente. Drain & set aside.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add oil, and cook the pancetta until the fat begins to render out. Do not let it get crispy. Add onions & garlic and cook until the onions become translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and parsley and stir.

Add the vinegar and let cook until it evaporates, about 2 minutes.

Add tomato puree and stock. Reduce heat to a simmer.

Add pasta to the saucepan and toss to coat. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until the pasta absorbs a bit of the sauce. Serve with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

*Given the relatively high cost of pancetta around here, I'm going to try to make this recipe without it next time. I think it added something to the sauce, but I'm not sure it adds enough to outweigh the expense.