Weekend Dog Blogging #69

by Cate on January 22, 2007

Comfort food, that’s what it was all about for tonight’s dinner with The Neighbors. It’s blistering cold outside with a sharp wind, and nothing combats that better than comfort food in my book. Catching up on a few recent magazines this week, Good Housekeeping has a great piece on baked pasta, with each picture evoking more warmth than the next one. Doesn’t get much more comforting than that.

For our main course tonight, I settled on their recipe for Baked Pasta e Fagioli. It was quite simple to make, and I actually had all the ingredients on hand. It was done in about half an hour, and gave me a chance to use my new bright orange, cast iron covered casserole pot from Rachael Ray. Love it. Unique oval shape, very weighty and goes from stove to oven to table. The dish was packed with spinach, tomatoes and cannelini beans, it’s a hearty, but healthy dish that’s figure friendly. It has just a shade over 350 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving. Better still, the recipe indicated it served 6, and I would have said more like 8-10, given the amount we had leftover, so that brings the calories and fat down even more. And even better than that, The Husbands ate spinach! Gotta love that.

The Neighbor Husband whipped out one of his Rachael Ray cookbooks to make the very delicious Cuban Toasties, a new recipe for all of us. (It also appeared in the June/July issue of her magazine.) Although they have a weird concotion of ingredients that weren’t all necessarily related to Cuban cooking, they were quite addicting and we’d definitely make them again. The topping reminded us a little of Crabbies, and would also make a great spread inside a panini sandwich – yum.

Going backwards, for a starter I made a fondue recipe that Rachael Ray made on Friday’s episode. When she made it on the show, she cooked up some sausages to use as dippers, as well as toasted chunks of bread. I’ve never used sausage as dippers, but liked the new dimension, and I used chicken sausage with garlic – yum-o. The fondue was quite tasty, but it didn’t completely blend, and that was without the 1/2 cup of brandy the recipe called for. Who knows what would have happened then? No matter, it was still delicious.

Until tomorrow… on with the dogs.

A year ago today… Sound Bite Saturday.

Only four pups tonight, so it’s a quick one:

Kaji pops in from A Transition to Vegan, enjoying a romp in the snow:

Identity crisis indeed, Snoopy from Cucina Bella gets the best seat in the house:

Dale from One Hot Stove is looking quite debonair in his spiffy new scarf:

And lastly, our lovable, goofy Eli:

Classic Fondue
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray
1 large clove garlic, smashed and peeled
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
8 ounces Emmenthaler cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup Kirschwasser cherry brandy
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
White pepper or cayenne, a pinch to taste

Serve with any or all of the following:
Fresh sausages such as lamb, beef, chicken and pork, broiled or sautéed and cut into bite-size pieces
Small Red Bliss potatoes, boiled
French bread, cut into chunks
Blanched green beans
Drained pickled vegetables such as cauliflower
Whole small radishes

Rub the inside of a small pot with the smashed garlic clove, then discard. Add wine to the pot and bring up to a bubble over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cheese in handfuls. Stir constantly, melting the cheese in batches. Stir in a figure-eight pattern with a wooden spoon.

When the cheese has been incorporated fully, stir the cornstarch into brandy using your finger until smooth, add brandy mixture into the cheese slowly. Add the lemon juice and season the fondue with nutmeg and white or cayenne pepper, to taste. Transfer the fondue to a fondue pot and serve.

* If your fondue pot is made of cast iron, you can heat the wine on the stove and then add the cheese, all in one pot. If your fondue pot cannot be placed on the stove, follow the above recipe.

Yields 4 servings

Baked Pasta e Fagioli
Recipe courtesy of Good Housekeeping

Yields: 6 main-dish servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: About 15 minutes

8 ounces mini penne or elbow pasta (about 2 cups)
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes in puree
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped (I skipped)
2 cloves garlic, crushed with press
2 cans (15 to 19 ounces each) navy or other small white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
Ground black pepper
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat large, covered saucepot of water to boiling over high heat. Add pasta and cook 2 minutes less than label directs. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water. Return pasta to saucepot.

2. Meanwhile, drain tomatoes, reserving puree. Coarsely chop tomatoes.

3. In 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion and celery and cook 9 to 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute.

4. Stir in tomatoes with their puree, beans, broth, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium; stir in spinach.

5. Add bean mixture, reserved pasta cooking water, and 1/4 cup Romano to pasta in saucepot and toss until well mixed. Transfer pasta mixture to 3-quart glass or ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining Romano. Bake 15 minutes or until center is hot and top is golden.

Cuban Toasties
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray

MAKES ABOUT 20 TOASTIES
PREP TIME 30 min; COOK TIME 10 min

1½ ounces boiled deli ham slices, finely chopped (1/3 cup)
3 ounces shredded Swiss cheese (3/4 cup)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1½ teaspoons chili sauce
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 baguette, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices, or 5 slices of white sandwich bread, quartered
2 to 3 crisp dill pickles, thinly sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 500°. In a small bowl, stir together the ham, cheese, mayonnaise, onion, chili sauce and mustard.
2. Arrange the bread slices on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place 2 pickle slices on each slice of bread, then spread about 1 tablespoon of the ham mixture on top. Bake the toasties for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Cool for a few minutes before serving.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sylvie January 22, 2007 at 4:18 pm

Sorry we missed this weekend’s wdb event. We’ll be back next week.
Ziggy

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wheresmymind January 22, 2007 at 5:22 pm

I so do dig fondue!

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rachel January 23, 2007 at 11:03 pm

oh, i forgot to take pics of my dogs!

those cuban toasties look like fun and super yummy.

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