Thursday, September 29, 2011

Linguine alla Carbonara di Salsiccia

Cooking My Way Through Jamie Oliver's Food Writings

Recipe 4        Linguine alla Carbonara di Salsiccia
                      Sausage Carbonara

This classic carbonara takes on the robust flavors of spicy Italian sausage and pancetta, what more could one ask for?  Jamie describes it as an absolutely delicious breakfast dish of pasta and he is right!  I used hot sausages in my version of this recipe, and blended pecorino with the parmesan, super simple to make, and definitely satisfying.

This recipe calls for both olive oil and extra-virgin olive oil, the difference being that extra-virgin olive oil is cold pressed, therefore offering the best in flavor quality.  While the term olive oil refers to a version of virgin oil, pure olive oil offers better heat tolerance when frying.  Pure olive oil also maintains flavor integrity over high heat, where as the flavor of extra-virgin olive oil tends to break down during cooking.  Grapeseed or vegetable oil will work fine as well.

Ingredients

4 good-quality Italian sausages
olive oil
4 slices of thickly cut pancetta, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large egg yolks, preferably organic
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 oz. freshly grated parmesan 
zest of one lemon
a spring of flat leaf parsley, chopped
extra-virgin olive oil

If using encased sausages, split the casing lengthwise and remove, divide and roll sausage into marble sized meat balls.  (I found, that by refrigerating the meatballs for at least an hour helps them maintain their shape when frying.)  Heat a large frying pan on medium, coating the bottom of the pan with olive oil.  Once heated, gently fry the meatballs on all sides until completely cooked, set aside on a plate lined with paper towel.  Next, add the pancetta and fry until crisp.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add linguine and cook according to the package instructions.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, half the cheese and heavy cream, season with a small pinch of salt and pepper.  When seasoning, keep in mind that the sausage, pancetta and pasta have already been seasoned with salt.  When the pasta is cooked, set aside one or two ladles of the pasta water, drain and add back into the hot pot, slowly drizzle in the egg mixture and toss with the pasta, adding the meatballs, pancetta and remaining cheese, top with parsley and serve immediately.

This recipe will easily serve four people. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cuban Sandwiches

The Cuban Sandwich

Cuban sandwiches are traditionally served on Cuban bread called Pan Cubano which is known for it's crusty exterior and chewy interior.  You can make your own Pan Cubano, which I have done for my sandwiches.  The closest to authentic recipe for Pan Cubano can be found at www.tasteofcuba.com.  These sandwiches can also be served on bolillos or french rolls.


Ingredients

thinly sliced deli ham
thinly sliced roasted pork tenderloin
pan cubano or french rolls can be used
pickles (I prefer to use Claussin)
swiss cheese
mustard

To make the sandwiches; spread a thin layer of mustard on each piece of bread, layer with slices of roasted pork, ham, pickles and cheese.  If serving the sandwiches warm, you can use a sandwich press or cook them in a pan and pressing them down with a heavy pan.  Cook on each side until crisp and golden.  

Mojo Roasted Pork

Mojo Roasted Pork

Cuban style mojo is not only used as a sauce but, also as a marinade for roasted pork, chicken, fish and beef.  The orange and lime give the marinade it's signature sweet tart flavor that balanced with the smokey flavor of cumin.  Grilled vegetables basted with mojo soak up the smokey caramelized flavor that is enhanced by the grill.  Here is the traditional Cuban Mojo recipe, which I used to marinate and roast pork tenderloin to make the classic Cuban Sandwich.

Ingredients

six garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
the juice of two navel oranges
the juice of two limes
1 tsp cumin
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

To use as a marinade, 

Mix all of the ingredients together and pour over poultry, fish, pork or beef.  When working with pork or beef I like marinating over night, for the best flavor and tenderness.  Three to four hours for poultry and 30 minutes to an hour for fish or shrimp. 

To use as a sauce;

Gently fry the chopped garlic in olive oil, when lightly browned, add the cumin and cook one minute allowing it to bloom.  Next, add the citrus juice and let simmer five to ten minutes until it has reduced slightly.  Season with salt and pepper.

For the roasted pork tenderloin, marinate in mojo over night.  Preheat your oven to 375-degrees.  In an oven-proof pan, brown the tenderloin on all sides.  Roast for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reads between 160 -170 on a meat thermometer, allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Torta di Riso

Cooking My Way Through Jamie Oliver's Food Writings


Recipe 3         Torta di Riso
                       Florentine Rice Tart
The amazing smells of vanilla, orange and pastry that waft through your house while baking this torta are reason alone to try this recipe.  This is a surprisingly light version of a new take on ways to serve rice pudding.  The creaminess isn't compromised at all by the baking, and the light subtle flavors of vanilla and orange are a perfect compliment.  I stepped out of the norm, instead of using a traditional tart pan went for rectangular 9 by  to achieve a more rustic look.  The use of vanilla beans is a definite, as the depth of flavor is unlike what vanilla extract can provide in this recipe.  Plus, as a bonus, you can use the leftover pods to make vanilla sugar!

So, here goes, let's start with the shortcrust pastry.  Jamie provides us with a simple, no fail recipe.  Start by making sure all of your ingredients are cold.  When making pastries, I like to refrigerate all the ingredients, including the dry, overnight.  You will need;

nine tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
a pinch of salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
zest of 1/2 an orange (original recipe calls for the zest of one lemon)
two large egg yolks
two tablespoons cold milk (or water)
one vanilla bean, scored lengthwise and seeds removed

In a large bowl, sift the confectioners' sugar and flour together, discarding any leftover lumps.  Cut the cold butter into the sugar and flour mixture using your hands, until you have the consistency of coarse bread crumbs, that when squeezed together hold their shape.  Add the vanilla, orange zest, milk and egg yolks, mix together until combined and a ball of dough forms.  Make sure to avoid over mixing, or processing the pastry dough as you want it to be as flaky and "short" as possible.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour before baking.

When ready to bake, roll out the dough, put into tart pan, and place in the freezer for one hour.  Preheat oven to 350-degrees and bake for 12 minutes until lightly golden.  I also find it is best to cover the bottom of the pastry crust with wax paper, and fill with dried beans to avoid the crust from bubbling while baking.  Remove from oven and set aside.  Turn the heat up to 400-degrees.

For the filling you will need;

four tablespoons unsalted butter
two vanilla beans
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
three tablespoons sugar
zest of three oranges
one wineglass of white wine (prosecco is also a wonderful option)
1 1/2 cups whole milk (or heavy cream)
two large eggs, whisked (preferably free range, organic)
two tablespoons confectioners sugar

A thick bottomed sauce pan works best when making the filling.  Start by slowly melting the butter on low heat, when melted, add the seeds from the vanilla beans.  Score each bean length wise, then using your knife scrap out the seeds.  It is the leftover bean pods that can be stored with sugar, flavoring it with vanilla.  Continue to cook on low 1 minute before adding the orange zest, sugar and rice.  Increase the heat to medium, and stir in the white wine (or prosecco), continually stirring allow to cook almost of the wine is cooked away.  Start adding in the milk, a half cup at a time until completely mixed in, bring to a slow simmer allowing to cook for 15 minutes.  By now, the rice should have a bite to it and the mixture should still have a good amount of liquid.  Allow to cool slightly, then slowly stir in the whisked eggs.  Pour the mixture into the pastry crust and bake for 20 minutes until golden.  Allow to cool at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Poway Farmers' Market

In an effort to support local farmer's, I've been making it a point to use the farmers' market as a resource in finding ingredients for the dishes I make.  Produce harvested taking a natural, organic approach adds a level of love to recipes you can't offer from heavily processed and treated ingredients.

Everything from fresh herbs, greens, fruits and vegetables, the Poway Farmer's Market offers a good selection from farmer's up and down the coast.
Something to think about in support local produce stands and farms, is that the effort taken from the farmers' themselves to offer the most natural items sets them apart from larger commercial farms.  They are often more knowledgeable about what fruits and vegetables are at their peak, the best ways to use them fresh and cooked and offer the same level of quality throughout their whole line.  I have been able to find some of the tastiest ingredients this way and in turn have made some incredible recipes using this resource.

Taking the time to visit local farmer's markets and produce stands is a great way to explore what your city has to offer.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sausage Pesto Lasagna

When I think of comfort food, it doesn't come in the form of chicken and dumplings or pot roast, hands down it has to be lasagna.  I came up with this recipe while looking for ways to incorporate fresh pesto into other dishes.  The elements may seem complex but in reality, are simply made, and the flavors lighter than you would expect when using a cream based sauce.

Ingredients

freshly made pesto
  two bunches of basil leaves, picked and washed
  one handful of pine nuts, toasted
  1 garlic clove
   a handful of pecorino, freshly grated
  extra-virgin olive oil
  salt and pepper to taste
no boil lasagna sheets (I use Barilla Oven-Ready Lasagna)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups whole milk, room temperature
nutmeg
1-pound Italian sausage, removed from casing
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
pecorino, freshly grated

Start by making the pesto.  In a food processor, pulse the basil, garlic clove and pine nuts until coarsely chopped slowly drizzling with olive oil until achieving your desired consistency.  I prefer a thicker consistency when using for spreads such as in this recipe, as thinner pesto will become runny when the lasagna is baked.  Last, pulse in about a handful of pecorino and season with salt and pepper.

Start browning the sausage on medium-high heat, breaking into crumbles with a wooden spoon.

To make the bechemel; in a sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Once melted, stir in flour and cook for about 2 minutes, you will know the flour, and butter are cooked together when they start to foam.  Once this happens, whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the mixture begins to thicken.  The bechemel should have the consistency of alfredo sauce.  Stir in the shredded mozzarella, season with salt, pepper and a grating (or 1/8 tsp) of nutmeg.

In a lightly buttered, or greased casserole, spread a ladle of the bechemel on the bottom of the dish and layer enough pasta to cover.  Evenly spread a layer of pesto on top of the pasta then sprinkle with browned sausage crumbles and top with bechemel.  Repeat this process until you reach the a 1/4 inch from the top of the casserole dish, about 3 to 4 layers.  Top last layer with remaining bechemel, freshly grated pecorino and dot with butter.  Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until lasagna is bubbling and the top is golden brown.  Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.  This recipe will easily serve 4 to 6 people.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oatmeal Cream'wich

This recipe comes from a Unique Sweets episode dedicated to cookies, by the end of the show I just had to start baking.  I love oatmeal cookies so, it was exciting to find a new twist on an old classic, the Oatmeal Cream Pie.  I adapted this recipe slightly from the Cooking Channel to save on time and make the preparation easier, and the addition of coconut adds excellence to the chewy texture. 

350 degrees
20 to 25 minutes
Yields 12 sandwich cookies

Cookie Ingredients

1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 egg
3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (optional)
Filling Ingredients

2 tbsp water
7 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream
6 tbsp butter
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 oz cream cheese

* All ingredients should be room temperature to achieve a smooth batter ensuring the best texture possible. 

Start by creaming together butter with both sugars, once mixed well and fluffy, mix in the salt, nutmeg, vanilla, baking soda, and lemon zest, then mix in the egg.  Once combined mix in the flour 1/4 cup at a time until completely incorporated, lastly, stir in the shredded coconut.

The dough can be refridgerated for half an hour if too wet to handle.  Roll batter by the tablespoon or small melon baller and place onto a greased cookie sheet atleast 2 inches apart.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden.  Allow to cool completely on a cookie rack.

In a sauce pan, allow sugar and water to come to a boil.  Once liquid starts to bubble swirl the pan until preferred caramel color developes.  Depending on the tempertaure setting, I use a medium high flame, this can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and carefully whisk in heavy cream and butter.  Allow to cool for a few minutes.  In a mixer, combine cream cheese, butter, salt and vanilla until fluffy.  With mixer set to low, slowly pour in caramel until evenly combined and fluffy.

Spread filling, distributing evenly, on to half of the cookies and top with remaining cookies. Yields 12 oatmeal cream sandwiches or 24 mini oatmeal cream sandwiches.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pollo Alla Cacciatora

Cooking My Way Through Jamie Oliver's Food Writings


Recipe 2          POLLO ALLA CACCIATORA
                        Hunter's Chicken Stew



Pollo Alla Cacciatora; sort of like the Italian version of roast beef, only with chicken.  While simple to make, this traditional hunter's stew is wonderful for serving large family dinners or get togethers with friends.  The use of Chianti in this dish provides incredibly tender meat, while the rosemary and olives add robust, hearty flavors.  Served simply with sauteed greens and crusty bread this dish is the epitome of classic Italian comfort food.

one 3 to 4 pound whole chicken. organic, free-range preferable, cut into pieces
eight bay leaves, dried or fresh
two rosemary sprigs
three cloves of garlic, 1 crushed, 2 sliced
1/2 bottle of Chianti
flour, for dusting
extra-virgin olive oil
six anchovy fillets
a handful of green and/or black olives, pitted
two 15 ounce cans of good-quality plum tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and put them into a bowl.  Add rosemary sprigs, bay leaves, crushed garlic and cover with wine.  Allow to marinate, refrigerated at least 1 hour but, over night is preferred.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove chicken pieces from marinade and pat dry reserving the marinade, dust with flour, shaking off any excess.  In an oven proof pan, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, once heated add chicken pieces and brown.  Even if your pan will hold all of the pieces, it is best to do this in batches to avoid steaming the chicken.  Once browned, remove from pan and set aside.  Gently fry the sliced garlic, once it starts to turn brown add the anchovies and olives, when the anchovies begin to dissolve add the tomatoes and break up with a wooden spoon and bring to a simmer.  Stir in reserved marinade, return chicken pieces, bring to a boil, cover and bake in the oven for an hour and a half.

You will know the chicken is fully cooked when it pulls away from the bone without effort, remove from the sauce and allow to rest for 15 minutes.  While the chicken is resting, bring sauce to a boil and allow to reduce slightly.  Remove bay leaves and rosemary stems, season with salt and pepper to taste, pour over chicken pieces and serve.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sauteed Greens

Sauteed Greens 


1 bunch swiss chard
1 bunch dandolion greens
1 bunch collard greens
3 garlic cloves sliced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup vegetable (or chicken) stock
1/4 cup pancetta or bacon lardon


Start by blanching the greens in salted boiling water for 2 minutes each.  In a pan, brown pancetta or bacon lardon until crispy, remove from pan and set aside on paper towel to drain.  If using pancetta you may need to add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil as it does not have the same fat content as bacon.  Gently fry garlic until it starts to golden, add red pepper flakes and allow to bloom for 1 minute.  Drain greens and add them to the pan tossing with garlic and red pepper flakes, pour in chicken stock, cover and allow to cook 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with crispy bacon before serving.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lemon Raspberry Tart in a Pie Shell

A staple I believe every freezer should have is frozen pie shells.  The dough can be thawed, reshaped and used for a variety of pastries, savory and sweet.  Using a pie shell here was to rectify forgetting to buy tart shells at the store and not having enough time to make homemade.  Using my favorite lemon curd recipe gives this the perfect balance of sweet tart flavor.

Recipes makes 2 9-inch tarts.

2 regular 9-inch frozen pie crusts
2 packages of fresh raspberries, rinsed
4 lemons
1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Using a fork, prick the bottom and sides of each pie crust, place directly on oven rack and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.  Set aside and let cool. 

In a bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, mix in the zest and juice of 4 lemons, and whisk in 1 egg at a time until all 4 eggs are completely incorporated.  Pour mixture into a sauce pan and whisk over medium heat until thick.  Once thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool 15 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap making sure the plastic wrap actually touches the top to of the curd and allow to cool completely.  

Once cool, pour lemon curd into each pie crust and top with fresh raspberries.  Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.   In a mixing bowl using a whisk or beater, combine heavy whipping cream, vanilla and confectioner's sugar until stiff peaks form.  Serve on top of sliced tart.

Cooking My Way Through Jamie Oliver's Food Writings

Julie Powell's blog inspired an insightful dramatic comedy based on her documented explorations as a beginner cook through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  365 days, 524 recipes.  A concept which has inspired me to challenge myself in a similar way, in an effort to expand my knowledge and explore the world of rustic cuisine I love so much.  So, the goal I have set for myself is to explore the food writings of Jamie Oliver, keeping as authentic and true to his ingredients as possible, starting with one of my favorites, Jamie's Italy.


Recipe 1   BRUSCHETTE

Bruschette; toasted bread, usually rustic thick crusted sour dough slices topped with a variety of flavors from simple tomato and basil dressed in vinaigrette to hearty caponatas.  Now, I've found when toasting the bread using a screaming hot grill provides a crispy exterior and chewy center that hasn't lost all of its moisture.

The basic bruschette is pretty straight forward to make.  Start by slicing the bread about a half inch in thickness then grilling each slice until crisp on both sides.  Immediately rub each piece with fresh garlic and drizzle with olive oil.

Now, when it comes to toppings quality is extremely important here because a lot of the toppings are made to highlight the natural flavors of the ingredients you are using.  Jamie starts off with four recipes for toppings that simply made with ingredients easily found at local farmer's markets or grocery stores.  Each topping recipe is enough for four to six slices of bruschette.  Freshly grated parmesan or pecorino adds a little something extra.

Eggplant & Mint

2 Italian eggplants, sliced lengthwise
extra virgin olive oil
white wine or herb vinegar
2 springs of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and thinly sliced
a small handful of mint leaves, thinly sliced
1 cloves of garlic, peeled and very finely sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

*Japanese eggplant can also be used if you are unable to find the Italian variety.

Lay the sliced eggplant onto a hot griddle (or grill) until charred on both sides, about 4 minutes.  You want to get good char marks without burning for flavor.  While the eggplant is cooking, combine 8 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of vinegar, garlic, parsley and mint to make a vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper to taste.  When the eggplants are done remove then from the griddle and cut them into 1/8 of an inch thick then mix into the vinaigrette, season again with salt and pepper then divide on to each bruschette pressing into the slices making sure the flavors get sucked into the bread.


Baby Artichoke

8 baby artichokes, prepared as explained below
4 cloves of garlic, skins left on
juice of 1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
a handful of fresh mint leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the artichokes; Jamie suggests peeling them until you reach the lighter green leaves, which are more tender, then cutting them in half to remove the choke.  Grapefruit spoons work great for this.  Then once  cleaned immersing in lemon water to keep them from to keep them from oxidizing until ready to use.

In a pan, cover artichokes with just enough water to cover, add a squeeze of lemon juice and the garlic until the stems are tender.  Remove the garlic then drain the artichokes and put back into the pan with about 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and fry until they start to color, about four minutes.  When slightly golden, remove four of the halves, squeeze the softened garlic into the pan and mash together with the artichokes, smear over toasted bread slices and tear the remaining artichoke halves over each bruschette.


Tomato & Basil

2 handfuls of nice mixed ripe tomatoes
a small bunch of fresh basil
olive oil
red wine vinegar
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Jamie notes the importance of using ripe tomatoes for this recipe.  I am using a mixture of cherry heirloom and  vine ripened tomatoes.  If your tomatoes have cores, core them and remove the seeds.  I did not remove the seeds from the cherry tomatoes.  If using the cherry or grape variety cut them in half and if using the larger sized tomatoes cut them into chunks, finely chop or scrunch them with your fingers, however you prefer.  Put the tomatoes into a bowl, tear in the basil, mix in olive oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste.


Mixed Roasted Vegetables

half of a bulb of fennel
half of a yellow bell pepper, seeds removed
half of a zucchini, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
1 tsp oregano
a handful of fresh mint
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
herb vinegar
1 ear of corn (my addition, optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Chop fennel, bell pepper, zucchini into chunks then toss with oregano, mint and olive oil, season with salt and pepper then roast for half an hour until golden.  Allow to cool, then pulse mixture in a food processor (reserving some of the mixture for texture) until it reaches the consistency of salsa.  Mix in the reserved vegetable mixture, drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice and her vinegar for kick.  Smear across warm brschetta.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tomato, Edamame & Black Olive Salad


This salad one has got to be one of the simplest I have ever made.  My inspiration came from looking to come up with a light lunch using items I had on hand, and having an over abundance of grape tomatoes.  The dressing is a simple red wine vinaigrette and with the exception of 2 minutes of microwaving in a steam bag this is a no cook dish.  This can be served alone or as a light side dish to dinners and is amazing when topped with fish.

Serves 4
Ingredients

2 cups grape tomatoes
1 6 oz can black olives, drained
1 cup edamame
red wine vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Start by mixing together the vinaigrette; there is no rhyme or reason to making a vinaigrette, in my opinion, it is best put together based on your taste preferences.  I prefer vinegar to be the high light flavor in my dressings so, I go on the premise of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts olive oil.  For this recipe, I mix together two tablespoons red wine vinegar and 4 tablespoons olive oil, then season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cut the olives in half, and steam edamame for 1 to 2 minutes until cooked with left with a bite.  We always have Seapoint Farms steam pods in our freezer.  Combine with tomatoes and toss with dressing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Baked Eggs with Pecorino

This is probably one of the quickest and tastiest eggs dishes I've made, a comforting light breakfast that combines over easy to over medium eggs with the sharp bite of pecorino cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

350 degrees
20 to 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 to 2 eggs
6 oz ramekin
2 tbsp shredded pecorino romano cheese
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter

Coat each ramekin with butter leaving any remaining butter in the bottom of the dish.  Crack the egg without beating, season with salt and pepper and top with pecorino.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked to your liking.