Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Almond Butter

What Strangers Are These by Will Ackerman (featuring David Cullen)
I chose this song simply because it was what was playing in the kitchen while I made this delicious Almond Butter - and it just felt so perfect.  The atmosphere in my kitchen was cozy and the mood was that of a simple life - which is nice to feel at a time of the year that can feel anything but simple! Guitar music is the ultimate feeling of peace for me - and I could just close my eyes and imagine that my Dad was sitting there with me.  Please do yourself a favor and click on the link and spend a few minutes in YouTube land with this beautiful guitar duet that oozes comfort and peace.  Oh - while enjoying some delicious Almond Butter on toast - or apples - or celery - or on a spoon even!

I was making a recipe a while back and it 
called for some almond butter.
I didn't have any in the house.
Nor did I have much confidence that
our local grocery store would have it either.
I did, however, have almonds.
Lots of them.

How difficult could it be to make your own?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Easy Alfredo Sauce

Smooth by Santana featuring Rob Thomas
Were you hoping for a Christmas song to go along with this December post?  I normally would but there is absolutely no other song that can go with today's recipe than this one.  And the reason is this - Alfredo Sauce is THE SEXIEST SAUCE ON THE PLANET!!  Italian fare has long been considered the substance of romantic dinners and, within Italian cuisine, this sauce is the most popular.  Rarely do I run into someone who prefers the red over the white.  And I happen to think this song is one of the sexiest songs on the planet!  I mean, there's Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton.  And Suzanne, written by the late great Leonard Cohen and performed beautifully by Neil Diamond.  And If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lightfoot.  These are all top contenders in my book.  But Smooth is perfect for the creamy nature of this incredibly easy sauce.  So get your dancing feet ready - because you just won't be able to stop yourself!  And, as the video in the link above shows, it's the kind of song that gets under your skin and makes you want to run out and dance around in your underwear!  My neighbors should take that as a warning.  LOL

One of the more revelatory moments
when I teach my cooking classes
comes on the class we cover pasta sauces - 
specifically this Alfredo Sauce.
The students are always amazed at how 
easy and quick it is to make -
rivaling the pathetic packets they
are used to buying at the grocery store.
Furthermore, I've had students who
claim that their husband won't eat Alfredo
Sauce - only to hear the next week
that the alfredo-hating spouse
had eaten an entire pan of pasta
made with their freshly made Alfredo!

Making your own Alfredo 
deserves a try, folks.
There is no comparison between the
packets and homemade.
And it is super quick as well!
Consider it a gift in this hectic holiday season.
It's basically a cream reduction
with flavorings and very few ingredients!

And before you start gasping at
the word "cream," I beg you to
consider that you don't
need much - and it's being shared between
a group - unless you happen
to have one of those alfredo-hating husbands
who will end up eating the whole pan!

And this need not only be served
over pasta!  Vegetables are elevated
to royal status when covered with it.
And just stop and ponder, for a moment,
the pleasure of dipping a hunk of bread!

So let's get started!

Alfredo Sauce
serves 4
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine, optional
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Start by heating the oil in a medium size saute pan over low heat.  You don't want to burn or even brown the garlic - all we are doing is warming it.
After the oil is warmed, add the garlic and stir to coat with the warm oil.
Gently heat for a minute.  Next, add the white wine.
Adding the wine is optional, but the comment I hear most is that no matter what they do, people just can't seem to replicate that flavor they get in the restaurants.  If they aren't using wine, that's probably why.  It's going to cook down until it is almost completely evaporated.  But if you aren't comfortable cooking with wine, then skip this step.  After you add the wine, you can increase the heat to medium and cook until it almost disappears.  After the wine, you will slowly pour the cream in.
I usually drizzle it down the side of the pan into the remainder of the oil and wine and garlic contents.  I give it a stir or swirl the pan.  You'll see small bubbles begin to form.  At this point, increase the heat to medium high if you want to speed up the process a bit.  You will see the bubbles go through a transformation as these pictures will show:

At this point I like to add a few tablespoons of pasta water if I'm going to use it over pasta.  

That's optional, though.  
Now you will add the cheese and stir to distribute it.  Then you are free to add the cooked pasta to your pan and stir to fill all the crevices of that pasta!  Taste and season, if necessary.  Usually it's not.
I promise that each one of those penne tubes are going to ooze this fabulous sauce with each bite!
This whole process takes 10 minutes or less.