Sunday, January 17, 2010

What do I know how to cook?

The limitations of a blog devoted to the stuff you can cook at home for someone like me, a fairly typical housewife cook, is that you just don't make that many different things. Not, you don't know how to make different things, or that you're not willing to try different things. The repertoire, it turns out, just isn't that large.

I do believe at this point, I've chronicled all the family favorites here: pilaf, casserole, stew, meatloaf, shepherd's pie. I'm going to have to start reblogging some of them, or start in on permutation after permutation of soup! One begins to feel astonished and awed by cook book writers. So many recipes.

UPDATE! Thought of two more. Hooray! Watch this blog!

Well, I do have one more, and kids, if you're reading this, let me know what I've missed, and I'll make it! Meanwhile, readers, take the poll-- how many different meals are in your regular "cycle" of recipes?

Pastitio (Greek noodle casserole)
Another recipe from Can the Greeks Cook

1 1/2 lbs penne or other tubular macaroni

Cook according to directions on box. This needs to be timed so they don't sit around getting sticky once you've drained them.

While penne is cooking:
1 lb. hamburger
1/4 cup butter
1 6oz can tomato paste
1-2 large onions, diced
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg, well beaten
1 cups boiling water
salt and black pepper

Saute hamburger over high flame until well-browned. Do not drain. Add butter and onions and continue to brown until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. Blend tomato past with water & cinnamon and add. Turn down flame, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove cover and continue to cook until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, allow it to cool a little, add eggs and mix well. I used a wonderful grass-fed beef gifted us by our friends from Ranney Ranch.

Krema sauce:
1/2 quart milk
1 1/2 heaping tablespoons flour
1/2 stick butter
2 eggs, room temp, well beaten

Scald the milk in a saucepan or the microwave (heat to just boiling). Melt butter, add flour until it becomes a smooth paste. Add eggs quickly and stir vigorously until all is well blended and smooth. Slowly add hot milk. (It will form a thick paste as soon as you put the hot milk in. Keep adding slowly, stirring the whole time to keep the consistency smooth). Salt to taste and set on a light simmer for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Cover and remove from heat. If it sits around a little it may thicken too much; add a little water or milk to thin it.

Cooked noodles, well drained
1/4 cup butter
1 egg well beaten
1 cup grated Kefaloteri (hard) cheese. Romano will also work, as kefaloteri can be hard to find.

Drain well in collander. Put half of the penne in a large bowl, add egg and mix thorougly. Spray a 9x12" pan with cooking spray, or grease with butter (cooking spray is better). Sprinkle with half the grated cheese. Spread the meat sauce over this, and then layer the rest of the penne on top, sprinkling with the remaining cheese. Melt butter and pour over the entire mixture. Top with the Krema sauce, making sure that the macaroni is entirely covered so little bits don't burn.

Sprinkle with grated cheese and cinnamon. Bake at 400F/200C for 20-30 minutes, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn. Cool for 15 minutes before serving so that it doesn't slip apart.

This recipe can be easily doubled. Remember, it's a Greek recipe, so it uses every pot in the house.

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