Creamy Spinach and Bacon Pasta BakeWhen my husband works from home once every week or every other week I try to cook a good lunch for the both us. But I also try cooking with whatever we have in the cupboards and fridge. I don’t like the idea of being stressed out by not having the ingredients for whatever I want to cook, so I try to make dishes from whatever we have available on hand, and usually I end up with a new recipe, like this pasta bake. My husband liked this very much and even had a second helping of this for lunch today, so every time a dish gets rave reviews from family and friends or if I am not too lazy to write a recipe to post, I always do want to share it. And this recipe is super easy and very comforting and tasty. Spinach, bacon, cream and cheese, need I say more? Like really?!
500 grams penne or Ziti or macaroni (whatever fun shape of pasta you like, cooked al dente) *1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter* 3 rashers low-salt bacon, coarsely chopped* 1/2 cup white onion, chopped* 1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped* 10 Oz (283 grams box) frozen creamed spinach* 2 Tablespoons dry sherry* 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour* 1 1/2 cups full-fat milk* 1 1/2 cups cream* 1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg* 2 teaspoon spicy brown mustard (or dijon if you prefer)* Salt and pepper according to taste* 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese, divided into 2 (1 cup to mix in the sauce, 1 cup to top the whole dish before baking in the oven)*
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, add chopped bacon and brown lightly then add chopped onion, saute until onions are soft. Add chopped fresh tarragon, add dry sherry and simmer until alcohol evaporates (you’ll know it when the aroma of alcohol is gone). Add flour and stir the mixture, add frozen creamed spinach. Add the milk first and stir mixture until sauce is smooth then add cream. Season with salt and pepper, nutmeg and mustard. Gently stir sauce until it thickens then remove from the stove. Stir in 1 cup of grated gruyere cheese. Put cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl, pour over sauce and gently mix. Pour into buttered baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese on top. Bake in a 375’F preheated oven for 30-40 mins or until top is lightly browned and cheese is melted and crusty. Serves 6
Orange, Maple and Walnut Bread Pudding
8 slices Egg & Milk Loaf bread (can also use brioche), sliced into triangle halves
4 large eggs
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup half and half (1:1 milk + cream)
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
zests of 1 orange
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup light brown sugar + 1 teaspoon cinnamon (to sprinkle over bread pudding before baking)
- Preheat oven to 350’F. Brush butter onto an oven/baking dish.
- Layer and overlap the bread slices in the buttered baking dish.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs, maple syrup, sugar, half and half, melted butter, vanilla, orange zests, salt and walnuts.
- Pour the egg mixture over the arranged slices of bread in the baking dish. Let the bread soak up the egg mixture, about 30 minutes.
- Mix the light brown sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle the mixture over the unbaked bread pudding. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until bread pudding is puffed-up and golden.
- Serve warm.
Makes 5-6 servings
Maple and Almond Nut Tarts
Sweet Dough (tart shell)
2 1/3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour (*spooned gently into measuring cup, do not tap or shake cup when measuring)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 whole egg
- In a food processor, pulse all sweet dough ingredients together until the dough comes together.
- Wrap dough in cling film, and chill for 30 minutes inside the fridge.
Maple and Almond Filling
2 large eggs
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons melted butter
4 cups coarsely chopped almonds (or you can also use slivered almonds)
- Mix all filling ingredients together and set the mixture aside.
- Preheat oven at 350’F
- You will need 4 mini (12-mould) muffin pans.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and scoop 1 tablespoon of dough into each mini muffin mould. Press dough and create a cylindrical indentation to hold the filling.
- Spoon filling in each prepared unbaked shells.
- Bake tarts for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown.
- Lift tarts from moulds 5 minutes after taking the pans out of the oven. Cool tarts on wire racks.
Makes 48 mini tarts
Eggs in Purgatory
I’ve been revisiting old Nigella Lawson cooking series on YouTube. It’s been 2 days that I’ve been watching 4 hours marathon of her Nigella Bites series. Watching Nigella takes me to a happy and relaxed zone while I do my ironing which takes me a good 3-4 hours to finish (yes, I have entirely succumbed to domestic life). Anyway, I don’t think she did this recipe on Nigella Bites, but I saw she made this recipe on the set of a morning show here in the US.
This morning, I had a hard time waking up, so my kind and loving husband suggested we just eat yogurt for breakfast, and we did. And now, I feel so famished that as I am typing this post on my smartphone, I am shoving forkfulls of this dish in my mouth. I suppose this my version of Nigella ’ s Eggs in Purgatory, but I also think this is my hack (what I readily have in my fridge and pantry) on Huevos Rancheros.
Nigella started by sautéing garlic and chili flakes in olive oil before emptying a can of chopped tomatoes in a small skillet, I however didn’t bothered with all that. I spooned enough hot salsa into the skillet until it simmers over medium heat, cracked 2 eggs into the simmering salsa, covered the skillet so that the eggs poach, then added torn American cheese single on top of eggs and salsa, I turned off the heat the minute the cheese melted, placed a handful of homemade cheesy herb and garlic bagel croutons and sprinkled torn coriander on top.
Now I have to excuse myself so I can finish what I have started.
Brunch at Coqueta
Enjoyed champagne and tapas with my dear friend Roxane last Friday. We had Jamon iberico- manchego cheese- Spanish olive and sardine bites, patatas bravas crispy and smokey with smoked paprika and aioli, shrimps sautéed in garlic and olive oil served with grilled bread, octopus cooked perfectly, and smoked salmon on toasted brioche with cream cheese and chives, Truffled honey and black truffles. Then for dessert, manchego cheese cake pops with caramel popcorn and churros with rich chocolate dip and raspberry powder.
I must apologize because I completely forgot all the exact names of the tapas we had, all I can manage is a decent description, but everything was great.