Week 10: Cooking for Jeffrey

in my last post, I mentioned that because my senses of smell and taste weren’t quite back to 100% I have reverted to cooking Ina Garten recipes, because I can completely trust her seasoning. Also, she writes a heck of a comfort food recipe, thus meeting all of my current requirements.

So, I pulled out her book, Cooking for Jeffrey, which I’ve cooked from a fair bit, but somehow managed to find two recipes that I haven’t made before, and more or less had the ingredients to make them. Also, for those of you who are budget conscious, the book happens to be $4.99 on Kindle right now.

In other news, every time I think about or cook from this book, I have this song by the Pixies running through my head (YouTube link), even though Ina Garten’s Jeffrey definitely has two Fs.

Ina and Jeffrey… Find it here on Amazon.

The first recipe I made was the Rigatoni with Sausage & Fennel (pg 114), which… I was lacking fresh fennel bulbs. Whatever. Chris isn’t the biggest fan of fresh fennel anyway, and reading through the recipe, it was clear that it would work without it. I had some Italian sausage in the freezer (thank goodness, as the grocery store is completely sold out of it) and either had, or managed to get all of the other ingredients needed on my once-weekly shopping trip.

It was great, easy to put together, comforting and we destroyed the leftovers. Although, I did add a lot more crushed red pepper flakes than she called for. As I usually do, as I like things spicy. What’s more, two of the three kids tried it and liked it.

The second recipe that I made was Crusty Baked Shells & Cauliflower (pg 126), which I had skimmed past when I was originally poking through this book looking for ideas. I had forgotten to write down the ingredients before I went to the store, but I knew I needed cauliflower and Fontina, so I grabbed both (apparently nobody wants Fontina in a crisis in this neighborhood?) and made it home.

Turns out we needed ricotta and lemons. Whoops. While using store-bought ricotta would certainly have been easier, I have made it a bunch in the past and so it wasn’t too much of an issue to throw some together. I used this recipe from epicurious. Fortunately we had a bottle of lemon juice in the fridge (which I hate, and try to use as little of as possible) to cause the milk to curdle as I was making the cheese, but there was nothing I could do about the lemon zest the recipe called for. Spoiler alert: It would have been a nice addition to the dish, but I was pretty happy without it.

The ricotta, as it was draining. I didn’t have any cheesecloth either, but a linen napkin did the trick just fine.

Assembling the dish was easy enough. I did a full mise-en-place before I really got going, which helped. Cook the pasta, sautée the cauliflower and dump most of the other ingredients into a bowl with the pasta and veg. Mix, assemble and bake.

Everything, as dumped into a bowl.
Dots of the ricotta on half the mixture.
Georgia holding the final, assembled dish, pre-baking, with two dogs hovering in the background, hoping she’ll drop it. She didn’t.
Final, baked vegetarian deliciousness.

The final step, pre-baking was to spread a mixture of pecorino, parsley and breadcrumbs across the top. It was pretty great.

Georgia loved it. Chris was a fan. The other two kiddos were at their mom’s house. I imagine it probably wouldn’t have gone over well with either of them. We had lots of leftovers, which served as breakfast and lunch for Chris and I this past weekend, and we finally polished everything off on Sunday.

I can’t recommend Ina Garten’s books enough. The recipes are so clear and well-written, and honestly, if you can make decisions about substitutions or eliminations from a recipe, relatively easy to make with pandemic panic-stripped grocery store ingredients.

Tonight, we’re eating takeout pizza. Tomorrow is a grocery store day, and while I have enough on hand to make dinner for everyone, I’m pretty wiped out. Plus, I was dreaming about pizza last night.


One thought on “Week 10: Cooking for Jeffrey

  1. Virginia : Fennel is pretty easy to grow and a perennial.  Chris might like it better if it is dug out of his own garden.  Mine is 2nd or 3rd year now.  Another plus for me is that the deer don’t like it.  They may develop a taste for it though.  They supposedly don’t eat tomatoes and massacred mine last year. The caulitflower recipe looks yummy.  If only it didn’t have pasta!! Ma

    Liked by 1 person

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