Archive for the ‘Kitchen’ Category

“Weeds” with Sausage!

September 6, 2017

Here’s a recipe that I will be trying within the next week or so.  I’d not heard of this type of pasta before, but the “weeds” refers to gramigne which apparently resembles a slightly unraveled phone cord.  I’m not sure how easy it will be to find gramigne, but if it proves to be difficult, you could always use fusilli or rotelle.

“Weeds” with Sausage

1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of butter
1 large onion, diced
1 pound of Italian pork sausage (without the casing)
6 Tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1/2 cup of milk
Salt and pepper
1 pound of gramigne, short fusilli, or rotelle
Freshly grated Parmiagiano cheese

1.  In a 12- to 14-inch skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft and golden brown (6-8 minutes).  Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally (and draining any excess fat), until the sausage is very brown and somewhat crisp (about 10 minutes).

2.  Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until it becomes a deep rust color (about 8 minutes).  Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until it is evaporated.  Stir in the milk, season with salt and pepper (to taste), and reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes more.

3.  Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 Tablespoons of salt.  Drop your pasta into the water and cook until just al dente.

4.  Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the cooking water (set aside) and drain the pasta.  Add the pasta to the sauce and toss over high heat for 1 minute (to coat), add a bit of the reserved water if necessary to “loosen” the sauce.

5.  Divide the pasta among your pasta bowls, top with the Parmiagiano cheese and serve.

Molto bene!

Source: Molto Italiano by Mario Batali, p. 189

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Storing Your Groceries!

August 13, 2017

For those of you who can never remember which foods need to be stored in the refrigerator (or what steps you can take to keep your foods fresh), here is a marvelous infographic with the low-down on all of the dos and don’ts (courtesy of Jessica Stevens in Kitchen Hacks).

cooking_infographic_28

Excellent Crab Cakes!

August 6, 2017

Last winter I had the pleasure of attending the Culinaria Cooking School for a one-evening team-building event for the Board of Directors of the Special Libraries Association.   I have never been a huge fan of crab meat, but these crab cakes were “to die for.”  And, we actually got to make them ourselves.  Bon appetit!

“Excellent” Crab Cakes

1 pound of fresh jumbo lump crabmeat
1 cup of fresh white bread crumbs
4-5 Tablespoons of mayonnaise
4 Tablespoons of Italian parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoons of black sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
2 Tablespooons of coarse-grained Dijon mustard (rounded Tablespoons)
2 Tablespoons of green onion (or shallots), chopped
4-5 Tablespoons of fresh lime juice
2 jalapeño (or scotch bonnet or Serrano pepper), seeded and minced
2 extra large eggs, beaten to blend
2 Tablespoons of oil
2 Tablespoons of butter
Mixed greens, dressed with light vinaigrette (for serving)

1. Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss or mix together (try to not over work the crab so it doesn’t break into tiny pieces). Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Beat the eggs with a fork to blend. Add in the egg and gently blend in with all the ingredients. Form the mixture into equal sized patties.

2. Heat a heavy skillet to medium-high heat. Add 2 TBSP. of oil and then melt 2 TBSP. butter in the center of the oil.   Sauté the crab cakes in batches until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Arrange 2 or 3 crab cakes (depending on the size) on each plate. Add some mixed greens dressed with light vinaigrette and top each crab cake
with avocado “butter,” chipotle crème fraîche or your favorite sauce and serve.

Chipotle Crème Fraîche (makes about ¾ cup): Optional
¼ cup of mayonnaise
¼ cup of crème fraîche
4 chilies (canned chipotle chilies in adobo)
1 medium clove of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons of chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons of capers

1. In a blender (or food processor), combine all the ingredients and puree until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to chill.

Enjoy!

How About Some Noodles?!

July 6, 2017

If you have been looking for a quick and easy way to add an Asian version to your carb-loading, then look no more.  Here is a tasty recipe that combines chicken, peanut butter, and noodles (with all of the assorted Asian spices) for an entree that will have them begging for more.

Chicken Peanut Noodles

Ingredients
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon each of ginger and salt
4 trimmed chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 head of broccoli, chopped
6 ounces of soba noodles (2 bundles)
1/3 cup of peanut butter
2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
1 Tablespoon of rice vinegar
2 teaspoons of honey
1/4 cup of chopped peanuts
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Boil six (6) cups of water in a covered saucepan over medium-high heat.  To prepare the chicken, sprinkle the garlic powder, ginger, and salt over both sides.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook until almost cooked through (about six (6) minutes), flipping once.  Add the broccoli to the skillet.  Cook the contents, covered, until the broccoli is bright green (and crisp-tender) and the chicken is cooked through (about five (5) minutes more).

3. Add the noodles to your boiling water and cook until tender (about three (3) minutes).

4.  In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, and honey. Drain the noodles (but reserve 1/2 cup of the noodle water) and immediately coat the noodles in the peanut sauce (add some of the cooking water to loosen the sauce if required).

5.  Chop the chicken  and toss with the noodles and broccoli.  Top with peanuts and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Cheesecake of the Month – June 2017!

June 15, 2017

This month’s recipe is an adaptation of one that uses a 13×9 pan instead of a springform pan (cheesecake “bars” instead of “cake”).  I’m guessing the only thing that I may have to adjust is the cooking time, but this one sounds positively delicious and I can’t wait to give it a try.

Banana and Coconut Cheesecake

Ingredients
2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup of sugar
1/c cup of butter, melted
3 packages (8 ounce) of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup of mashed bananas (about 2 medium)
1 carton (8 ounce) sour cream
2 Tablespoons of white creme de cacao
2 Tablespoons of rum
1-1/2 cups of flaked coconut

Dirctions
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, pecans, and 1/4 cup of sugar.  Stir in the melted butter.  Press this mixture onto the bottom of your springform pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, 3/4 cup of sugar, and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined.  Add the eggs all at once; beat on low speed just until combined.  Stir in the banana and pour into your prepared pan.

3. Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes or until the center is set.  Meanwhile, for the topping: in a small bowl combine the sour cream, creme de cacao, and runm.  Spread over the top of the cheesecake after it is finished baking and then bake for an additional 5 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack before moving to the refrigerator to cool completely (4 to 24 hours).  To serve, sprinkle the cheesecake with toasted coconut .

The Original White Meat!

June 7, 2017

Yes, chicken!  And whenever I run across a recipe that is super simple, I just can’t resist.  Here’s a recipe that will only take you thirty (30) minutes to prepare but will taste like you slaved in the kitchen for hours!

Chicken Parmesan in a Garlic Mushroom Cream Sauce

Ingredients
4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper
8 ounces of sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup of butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon of flour
1/2 cup of chicken broth
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of spinach, chopped

Directions
1.  Season your chicken on both sides (salt and pepper).  In a large skillet, add the olive oil and cook the chicken on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until browned/cooked to where there is no longer any pink in the center.  Remove the chicken and set aside.  Add the sliced mushrooms to the skillet and cook for a few minutes until they are tender.  Remove them and set aside.

2.  For the sauce, add the butter to you skillet and melt.  Throw in the minced garlic and cook until it is tender (a minute or so).  Add the flour and whisk until it is incorporated and slightly thick.  Whisk in the chicken broth, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Add the spinach and let it simmer until the sauce thickens and the spinach wilts.  Add the chicken and the mushrooms back into your sauce (to coat).  Serve on either a bed of rice, or over the pasta of your choice.

Yum!

Cheesecake of the Month – May 2017!

May 15, 2017

This month I am experimenting a bit.  I found a couple of separate recipes for a pear/gingersnap combination and I’m going to take the best parts from each to create a hybrid recipe of sorts.  Wish me luck!

Pear-Gingersnap Cheesecake

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups of crushed gingersnap cookies (about 40 cookies)
6 Tablespoons of butter, melted
1 Tablespoon of brown sugar
2 small ripe pears – peeled, cored, and sliced (1/8″ slices)
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
2 Bosc pears (firm) – peeled, cored, and sliced (1/2″ wedges)
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 Tablespoon of sugar
3 Tablespoons of molasses
2 packages (8-ounces each) of cream cheese, softened
1-1/4 cup of sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons of flour
1 cup of sour cream

Directions
1.  In a medium bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs, butter, and brown sugar.  Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ springform pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

2.  Prepare the Bosc pears: melt the 2T of butter in  large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the pears and sprinkle with the sugar.  Cook the pears, stirring occasionally, until the pears are tender and lightly browned around the edges (5-7 minutes).  Add the molasses and continue cooking until syrupy (about 2 minutes more) and then set aside.

3.  Prepare the other pears: in a small bowl, toss the pears and ginger.  Line the cooled crust with the pears, overlapping the slices slightly.

4.  For the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes).  Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined.  Add the vanilla and flour and beat until just combined, then add the sour cream and beat until smooth (about 1 minute).

5.  Pour this mixture over the pear-lined crust then gently  arrange the Bosc pear slices on the top (set aside any remaining molasses syrup [can be stored at room temperature] for when you serve the cheesecake).

6.  Transfer the cheesecake to the oven on the middle rack directly over a water bath. Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes or until lightly browned and set around the edges (the center should still jiggle a bit).  Transfer the cheesecake to a rack and allow to cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating for at least 6 hours (or overnight).  Drizzle with remaining molasses syrup when serving.

Enjoy!

Cheesecake of the Month – April 2017!

April 15, 2017

Here is a wonderful recipe for a toffee cheesecake which is perfectly fine just as it is, or you can enhance it a bit by adding a caramel sauce topping . . . your choice or preference. Enjoy!

Ingredients
Crust:
1-1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup of packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup of butter, melted

Filling:
4 packages (8-ounces each) of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of sour cream
1-1/4 cup of sugar
5 eggs
1 Tablespoon of vanilla
2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
5 ounces of toffee bar, crushed

Decoration
3/4 cup of whipping cream
2 Tablespoons of sugar

Directions
1.  CRUST: In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and butter.  Press onto the bottom of a 9″ springform pan and freeze.

2.  FILLING: In a large mixer, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Mix in the vanilla and lemon juice.  Fold in the crushed candy pieces.  Pour the batter over the frozen crust.  Bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for 45 to 55 minutes or until the top is lightly brown and the center has a slight jiggle to it.  Cool on a rack for 2 hours.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before decorating or serving.

3.  DECORATION: In a well-chilled bowl (I chill my beaters as well), whip the cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  With the mixer still running, sprinkle the sugar into the cream and continue whping until firm peaks form.  Ice the top of the cake with the whipped cream (or simply pipe a ribbon around the border.

If you opt for the caramel sauce topping . . .

TOPPING:
1-1/4 cups of sugar
1/3 cup of water
1 cup of whipping cream, room temperature
1/2 cup of butter, softened
1 teaspoon of vanilla

In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the sugar and the water until the sugar melts.  Increase the heaat and boil without stirring until the mixture is a rich caramel color.  It should take about 8 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low, add the room-temperature cream, stirring constantly to smooth the bubbles.  Mix in the butter until it is melted and then add the vanilla.  Cool slightly.  Garnish cheesecake with caramel.

Rack of Lamb!

April 6, 2017

Easter is right around the corner and would be an excellent occasion for serving a rack of lamb.   Here’s a recipe that I found for a mint-crusted rack of lamb that is just out of this world.  I had never even attempted to serve a rack of lamb before, but this recipe was super easy and delicious to boot!  I served green beans and potatoes with the lamb for a meal that was positively wonderful.

And, for presentation purposes, “trimming” your rack of lamb is essential!  Here’s a video that demonstrates the correct way to trim your rack.  Yes, she makes it look really easy, but trust me, it is a bit more challenging than it looks.  I’m sure my “trims” will improve with practice, but for a first go at it, I was very pleased with my result.  Good luck!

Cheesecake of the Month – April 2017!

March 15, 2017

This month’s delectable recipe is for a savory cheesecake (meant to be served as an hors d’oeuvres).  Three types of cheese and bacon . . . of course I’ll like it!

Gorgonzola Cheesecake

Ingredients
1-1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup lightly toasted bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 cup finely chopped onions
1-3/4 pounds cream cheese, softened
1/2 pound gorgonzola cheese
4 eggs
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Hot sauce to taste

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Mix the bread crumbs with the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the crumb mixture in the pan, turning the pan to coat evenly.

Fry the bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Dispose of all but about one tablespoon of bacon fat from the skillet. Add the onions, and cover and cook over low heat about 10 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.

Crumble the bacon. Combine the cream cheese and the Gorgonzola in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add the eggs, cream, salt and hot sauce and process until smooth. Blend in the bacon and onions, but don’t over mix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Set the pan in a roasting pan and add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the springform. Bake until the cheesecake sets, about an hour and 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and cool the cheesecake about an hour with the oven door ajar. Transfer to a rack and cool to room temperature before removing the pan and serving.

Source: Judy Walker, a writer for The Times-Picayune, Greater New Orleans (newspaper).