Many of you will remember our end-of-term parties, The Really, Really Big Lit/Lang Holiday Workshop Bash and The Really, Really Big Lit/Lang End of Year Workshop Bash. Below are a few of the recipes that have repeated successfully at the Bashes. Enjoy.
Mother Kinsella’s Pig Cookies
1 & 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
a bit more butter or margarine
Mom taught me to sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then to set the mixture aside while other mixings were completed, but I don’t have a sifter anymore, so here’s what I do. I melt the butter pretty good in the microwave, being careful not to cook it, then put it in a big bowl and add the baking powder (don’t know why it needs to be double-acting — I didn’t ask). Stir the baking powder into the butter well. Then add the sugar. Skip the salt, you don’t need it and it’s bad for you. Throw in two good scoops of apple sauce, then stir it all up. Stir in the nutmeg next; for a change of pace you can use allspice. Then begin dumping in the flower. If you double the recipe, you ought to stir in about a cup at a time.
At this point it’s a good idea to chill the batter in the freezer (the fridge would work, but you’re probably in a hurry). Once chilled, roll out a large ball onto a lightly floured board. Try to get the dough about a quarter inch thick.
Next, select your favorite pig cookie cutter. I have three: a piglet, an adult pig, and a big old boar. Place the cutouts on ungreased cookie sheets and bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees. Cook for 9 to 10 minutes. If they begin to lightly brown around the edges, yank them from the oven.
As the cooked pigs cool on cookie racks, prepare the frosting. Melt about 3 tablespoons butter, pour in another 2 tablespoons of condensed milk if you happen to have it. Flavor to taste with vanilla. Then stir in several tablespoons of powdered sugar; keep adding it until the frosting isn’t runny and begins to stiffen a bit (don’t worry about getting it too stiff, it will harden on the cookie). At the last, add enough food coloring to obtain the desired appearance. I like a good pink flesh-looking pig cookie, but other people swear by psychedelic greens and blues. Spread the frosting on each pig (this is the part that’s a bit of a pain — it’s good to frost with a friend), then replace them on the cookie racks to dry a bit.
That’s it. Eat them. Enjoy them.
Paulino Pesto and Tortellini
The pesto recipe is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. It originally came from my friend, Nina Paulino McGrath, whose mother was passing it down in her family. I have since given this recipe out dozens of times, which makes me happy. It’s like a chain letter you wouldn’t mind getting.
I think it’s the walnuts that make this pesto special. Since I have been making this pesto, I now find pesto made with pine nuts, a more traditional version, a bit oily for my taste.
The recipe is simple and quick if you’ve got a food processor. You could probably also make it easily in a blender set to puree.
1 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 teaspoon chopped)
1 tablespoon walnuts
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Put all of the ingredients in a food processor fit with the standard blade. Blend for about 1 minute.
This recipe yields about 1 cup of pesto–about the right amount for 1 pound of tortellini. (My big complaint about most pesto and pasta dishes is that people skimp on the pesto. The finished dish should look green, not off-white with green specks.)
Choose the tortellini you like best. (I like meat or those specialty tortellinis because they seem to me to have more flavor. I find cheese tortellini a little rubbery sometimes.) Boil the tortellini in a large pot of salted water. (Use anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon of salt depending on how much water you’re using and how salty you like things.) Most frozen tortellini take from 10-13 minutes to cook; the “fresh” versions cook more quickly.
When the tortellini is done to your satisfaction, drain it and toss with the pesto in a good-sized bowl.
Serve room temperature or warm.
Penne Pasta Salad with Sundried Tomatoes
1 lb penne pasta
1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 bunch scallions, chopped fine
1 handful of fresh basil leaves – slivered
(approx.) 1 cup sundried tomatoes
Balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below)
Grated Locatelli cheese
Cook penne pasta according to directions, then rinse under cold water to
stop the cooking process. Drain thoroughly.
Soak sundried tomatoes in boiled water until soft, about 20 minutes.
Drain the soaking water, then squeeze out excess liquid from the tomatoes.
Cut tomatoes into thin slivers.
Blanch asparagus and immediately chill them by rinsing under cold or iced water. Dry them, then cut on the diagonal into bite-size pieces.
Combine pasta, asparagus, tomatoes, basil, and chopped scallions in a large mixing bowl. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette and grated Locatelli cheese to taste.
Add salt and pepper, if needed.
Balsamic Vinaigrette (Chef’s secret)
One packet of Good Season’s seasoning mix (sh-h-h-h, don’t tell anyone).
Follow directions using balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar.
Add I or 2 cloves of crushed garlic (I use a press).
If one cup of tomatoes is not enough, adjust accordingly.
I usually sprinkle the cheese in “to taste.” As a matter of fact,
all of the ingredients can be adjusted to taste. Experiment!
Add the vinaigrette a little at a time. It’s better to add slowly rather than
mix too much at once.
Sometimes I use thawed, frozen peas instead of asparagus.