Monday, October 31, 2011

Parmesan Pancetta Scones

I think we underestimate the ease of making the things from scratch that we are so quick to purchase.  For me, adding homemade elements to the meals I create adds an unsurpassed level of care, not only to the dish but, to the people you are cooking the dish for, which purchased ingredients just do not offer.   In my quest to develop easy, versatile pastry recipes, sweet and savory, I came up with the idea of adding the classic combination of parmesan and pancetta to short pastry, buttery and flaky with a salty bite and crunch of cornmeal, these are exactly what I was looking for as an accompaniment to my Mixed Roast recipe. 

This recipe yields a dozen standard size or two dozen miniature size scones.

2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup pancetta, crisped and cooled
one stick unsalted butter
one egg
¾ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

For best results, all of the ingredients should be ice cold, storing them in the refridgerator over night or in the freezer for one hour prior to mixing will offer the best possible texture.  Storing the food processor blade in the freezer for a few hours is also an excellent tip when using to make short crust pastry.

Cut the pancetta into small pieces and crisp in a pan, and set aside to cool completely.  In a food processor; sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and cornmeal, then pulse together with the butter until the mixture resembles a course meal.  Next, add the sour cream, egg, parmesan and pancetta pulsing until the dough just starts to come together.  Pour the dough onto a floured surface and lightly working into a disk, do not knead.  The dough should be crumbly, if you over work it will not be short and therefore will not be flaky when baked.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest refrigerated for an hour.

When ready to make the scones; roll out the dough to 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface, then cut into desired shape and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Refrigerate the cut scones for thirty minutes before baking.  Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven as specified below until golden and allow to cool on a wire rack.

For baking standard size scones the baking time will vary between 15 to 20 minutes.
For baking miniature size scones the baking time will vary between 8 to 12 minutes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I have always loved dessert, especially ones that combine the flavors of espresso with chocolate, and tiramisu is the perfect example.  My version of this recipe eliminates the need for using raw eggs; I flavor mascarpone with cream sherry, vanilla and cinnamon then lighten it up by folding it with fresh whipped cream.  The espresso soaked lady fingers hold together beautifully between the light fluffy layers of airy cream highlighted by a hint of cocoa and dark chocolate shavings.

Serves 8 to 10
Preparation: 4 to 5 hours


2 8 oz containers mascarpone, room temperature
3 tbsp fine sugar
1 pint heavy whipping cream, room temperature
1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder
3 to 4 cups espresso, cooled
2 shots of cream sherry
one dark chocolate bar or mini semi-sweet chips

Start by whipping the heavy cream until it starts to thicken, once the texture starts turning fluffy and can hold shape it is ready.  Using room temperature heavy cream helps this process along.  In a separate bowl, work the mascarpone with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to soften, add the sugar one tablespoon at a time and stir until dissolved, scrap and add the seeds from the vanilla pod and mix in the cinnamon, then add the cream sherry one shot at a time mixing (using a whisk if needed) until the mixture is completely smooth.  Next, add a third of the whipped cream and fold into the mascarpone mixture slowly as you want to keep as much air as possible, once incorporated add more of the mixture and continue until completely incorporated. 

Soak the lady fingers in cooled espresso for a few seconds on each side, then layout an even layer in the bottom of the dish you are using, on top of the lady fingers spread an even amount of the whipped cream mascarpone mixture, and then dust each layer with one tablespoon of the cocoa powder.  Continue layering until all of the lady fingers and whipped cream mascarpone mixture is gone (or until you reach the top of your dish), dusting the top of the last layer with cocoa powder and using a vegetable peeler to add chocolate bar shavings, or sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.  When it comes to this step notice that I have not specified an amount of chocolate to use, for me, it changes with my mood so, use as little or as much as you would like.  Cover the tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 to 5 hours before serving.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

4 red, orange or yellow bell peppers
½ pound ground sirloin
½ onion, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, seeds removed and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp chipotle pepper
½ tsp pimenton
½ tsp salt
½ tsp oregano
½ cup vegetable stock
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup shredded jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375-degrees.  Cut the tops off each of the bell peppers, then using a spoon remove the seeds and ribs, coat each with olive oil, season with salt and pepper inside and out, then cover with aluminum foil and bake until filling is prepared.

To prepare filling; start by browning the ground beef, carrots and onion, once browned add the garlic and spices and allow to cook three minutes, before adding the tomatoes and stock.  Stir in the zucchini and jalapenos.  Bring the sauce to a boil then turn reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens and the vegetables are thoroughly cooked.  Last, stir in the cannellini beans.

Equally fill each bell pepper with the filling and bake for 30 minutes, sprinkle the tops of each with shredded jack cheese and bake until golden.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chicken Stir-Fry Chow Mein

I used fusilli lunghi bucati simply because I find it to be uniquely shaped pasta that stands up and holds sauce really well.  By under cooking slightly and finishing by simmering in the sauce allows them to soak up the flavors, and because of their robust texture they do not get mushy.  The ingredients usually vary depending on what I have on hand or happen to find interesting in the market that day.  This is very rustic, I don’t use measurements, and the sauce ingredients are altered based on whatever taste I am craving in the moment making it personalized each time.   


* Measurements are approximate

one pound fusilli lunghi bucati

8 oz package sugar snap peas

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

½ cup edamame pods

one pound chicken tenders

1 celery stalk, sliced

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 small head of cabbage, quartered and sliced

3 bok choy, cleaned and leaves removed, bases trimmed

½ cup raw cashews

1 cup vegetable stock

1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp minced garlic

2 tsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp cornstarch

sriracha to taste

sesame oil

vegetable oil

In a pot of unsalted boiling water cook the fusilli lunghi bucati 3 minutes under the recommended cooking time, drain them rinse in cold water.

Cut chicken tenders into ½-inch pieces, season with salt and pepper and brown, in batches, in a heated wok with just enough vegetable oil to keep the chicken from sticking.  Once cooked, removed from pan onto a plate and set aside. 

Next, stir-fry the sliced, onion, celery, carrots and bok choy until they start to soften then add the cashews and cabbage.  Once the cabbage has wilted remove vegetables from the pan.  Mix together the vegetable stock, soy sauce, sriracha, garlic and vinegar, then bring to a boil in the wok over high heat, in a small bowl mix together a slurry of the cornstarch and just enough water to make a runny paste, then drizzle it into the sauce and mix until the sauce begins to thicken.  Add the fusilli lunghi bucati and cook tossing in the sauce for about 2 to 3 minutes, then return the vegetables and chicken to the pan, season with about a teaspoon of sesame oil and toss.  Serve immediately.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Apple Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting

One of the moistest cakes I have made, incorporates fresh apples and is complimented by an intense vanilla bean frosting.  Enjoy!


4 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup applesauce
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 apple, peeled and finely chopped, granny smith or honey crisp work great in this recipe


12 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup butter
3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or the seeds of two vanilla pods

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

* Make sure all ingredients are room temperature before mixing.

Cream together the eggs and sugar until fluffy, then stir in the spices, salt, applesauce, baking soda and baking powder.  Once combined, mix in the flour a half cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between until completely mixed.  Pour batter into a buttered 8 x 11 3/4 baking pan and bake for 30 minutes.

To make the frosting;

In a mixer with a whisk attachment; whip the cream cheese, butter and vanilla bean paste together until fluffy, then slowly add the confectioners' sugar a half cup at a time until completely incorporated.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lentils and Wheat Berries with Braised Fennel and Chard

An easy misconception of vegetarian dishes is that they lack substance, leaving the diner missing the added protein of meat.  When cooking vegetarian dishes, I always keep in mind the importance of balancing the healthful benefits of the vegetable components along with the addition of protein in other forms.  Other forms of protein can come from sources such as; legumes, nuts, grains, soy and even dairy.  The concept for this dish came to existence simply because I was hungry, I didn’t want to leave the house and I had these ingredients on hand.  This is one of those thrown together “no recipe, recipes” that is one I will continue making, and probably make differently each time. Enjoy!

two handfuls green lentils, picked through and rinsed
one handful wheat berries, picked through and rinsed
one bay leaf
two cloves garlic, minced
one small fennel bulb, outer layer removed and sliced
one small white onion, sliced
one bunch swiss chard, rinse and drained
1 c vegetable stock
½ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp pimento
1 tsp cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small pot, cover the wheat berries and lentils in water, add the bay leaf and boil until tender but left with a bite, about 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Next, lightly sauté the sliced onion and carrot, once they start to soften, throw in the spices tossing everything together to evenly coat.  Remove the thicker part of the chard stems and chop, then add them to the pan and cook for 5 minutes.  Chop the chard leaves into ribbons then toss into the pan along with the sliced fennel, season with salt and pepper.  Add the chard ribbons, allow them to start wilting then pour in the vegetable stock, bring to a boil and allow to cook until the chard is completely wilted and most of the vegetable stock has evaporated.  Fold in the lentils and wheat berries thoroughly incorporating all of the ingredients together.  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Nod to Anjum Anand

Anjum Anand is my favorite chef specializing in Indian cuisine, her books and programs taught me the basics of how to use and put together spices, and how to make dishes flavorful and delicious eliminating the need for unnecessary fat.  When deciding which dishes of hers to showcase in this post, I decided the two that were not only my favorites but, also ones that showcase this premise the best are her Coconut Chicken Fry, Stir-fried Cabbage, Bengal Gram and Coconut and Bengali-style Aubergines Cooked in Yogurt.  Do not be fooled by the use of the words “fry” or “fried” in the recipe titles, while they are used as the method of cooking, it is not the traditional means of unhealthy frying most of us are accustomed to.  In fact, as you will see the amount of oil used for frying is minute and used primarily as a means to bloom or intensify the spices adding flavor to the dishes.  Let’s get started.

Coconut Chicken Fry
Adapted from Anjum Anand’s recipe     

This is a wonderful dish to try if you are new to making or trying curry, while the spices are bold they are also subtle in the sense of how most curries taste and therefore, in my opinion, a great introduction to these flavors.

3 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
6 chicken drumsticks, skinless preferred
2 tsp garam masala
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp allspice
1 sm. onion, finely sliced
12 fresh curry leaves
3 serrano chilies, one pricked with the tip of a knife
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
6 cloves of garlic, minced
a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
¾ cup unsweetened fresh, frozen or desiccated coconut
salt and freshly ground pepper

Start by heating the oil in a pan over medium; add the cinnamon, cardamom and allspice allowing them to fry until fragrant.  Next, add the onion and fry until golden, then add the curry leaves, chilies, ginger and garlic reducing the heat and cooking until the garlic has softened, about three minutes on medium-low.  Once tender, add the drumsticks, season the dish with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir fry for four minutes then add the garam masala and enough water to reach half way up the chicken pieces, bring to a boil then cover, reduce heat to low and cook for twelve to fifteen minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.  Remove the lid, bring temperature to high and boil off any remaining liquid, once the liquid has almost completely evaporated add the coconut and lemon juice, cook four to five more minutes until everything is toasted.  Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve immediately.

Stir-fried Cabbage, Bengal Gram and Coconut
Adapted from Anjum Anand’s recipe 

This is a positively pungent way to dress up boring old cabbage the spices complement the toasty flavor the cabbage takes on from cooking and the Bengal Gram or lentils balance the dish nutritionally.

½ cup Bengal Gram, dried chickpeas can also be used
1 tbsp vegetable or grapeseed oil
½ cabbage, shredded
1/3 tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp Nigella seeds
2 dried red chilies, left whole
10 fresh curry leaves
½-inch piece of grated ginger
¾ tsp turmeric powder
4 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
a small squeeze of lemon juice
¼ cup chopped roasted cashews
Salt to taste

It is best to soak the lentils over night, and then cook by boiling in unsalted water until tender, about thirty minutes.
Heat oil in a frying pan add the mustard and Nigella seeds, then once the popping stops add the red chilies, grated ginger and curry leaves.  Allow this to cook another few seconds before adding the shredded cabbage, turmeric and salt, stir fry everything together until the cabbage is crisp and tender.  Last stir in the cashews, lentils, coconut and lemon juice before serving. 

Bengali-style Eggplant Cooked in Yogurt

Surprisingly light, this dish is a great accompaniment to the robust spicy flavors of the Coconut Chicken and Stir-fried Cabbage recipes.  This side can be served hot, warm or at room temperature as the longer it sits after cooking the better the flavor.

1 ½ cups small Japanese or Italian eggplants, sliced into rounds
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp red chili powder
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 ¼ cup plain yogurt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
a handful of coriander, chopped

Toss eggplant rounds with turmeric, salt and a ¼ tsp of red chili powder then fry in a heated pan coated with vegetable oil until tender.  The goal is to gently fry not stew the eggplant therefore you may need to do this in more than one batch to avoid developing too much liquid.

In a sauce pan, combine 1 cup yogurt, sugar, salt and remaining ¼ tsp of red chili powder heat gently stirring to avoid the mixture from spitting, for five minutes.  Once heated through, stir in the cumin, and eggplant pieces, cook another three to four minutes until the eggplant is heated through, then stir in the remaining yogurt and sprinkle with coriander before serving.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Beer Braised Short Ribs

Here is a great recipe for beer braised short ribs.  Since it wasn’t as cool as I expected here in San Diego, I lightened this dish serving Green Beans with Roasted Bell Peppers, Garlic and Mushrooms and Parmesan Potato Fritters instead of the traditional au gratin or macaroni and cheese.

I used boneless short ribs this time because that is what was available to me but, as with cooking most proteins I prefer using bone-in short ribs not only for depth of flavor, but also because of the added tenderness you get from cooking with the bones.  Also, when it comes to preferences, I prefer using a deep stout when cooking beef dishes, and in this case used an organic chocolate stout.  If you’re worried about developing sweetness in the dish there is no need to be, for me the richness in flavor is more prominent in this variety of beer.


15 bone-in or boneless short ribs
2 cups stout 
½ cup beef stock
2 heads of garlic, peeled and left whole
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 tbsp dried thyme
vegetable oil for browning
2 tbsp unsalted butter
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  

Season short ribs liberally with salt and pepper.  In a dutch oven or heavy bottom roasting pan lightly coated with oil, brown each short rib on all sides.  Browning the short ribs in a few batches is important to keep the meat from developing too much liquid and stewing.  Once browned, remove from the pan and set aside. 

Saute the chopped onions, carrot and celery, then rub the dried thyme in your palm and stir into the vegetable mixture cook until tender, adding more oil to the pan if needed.  Once soft, toss in the red pepper flakes and garlic cloves, season with salt and pepper then stir in the tomato paste cooking until it melts in with the vegetables, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Next, add the liquids including the beer, stock and worcestershire sauce, stirring until everything is thoroughly mixed together, return the short ribs to the pan, bring the liquid to a boil on medium high heat, then reduce and braise on low for 2 to 2 ½ hours turning the short ribs half way through cooking.  Allow to rest at least 15 minutes and when ready to serve; remove the short ribs and set aside on a serving plate, blend half of the sauce in a food processor until smooth then pour back into the pan.  Over a medium flame, bring the sauce to a simmer allowing it to reduce by half, then finish by stirring in 2 tablespoons of butter and seasoning with salt and pepper.  Pour over the short ribs and serve.  This recipe substantially feeds 6 to 8 people.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Green Beans with Roasted Bell Peppers, Garlic and Mushrooms

This is a vegetarian side dish that highlights the robust flavors of each ingredient to its fullest.  I came up with this dish while looking for a way to develop flavor while cutting unnecessary fat, and by roasting the bell peppers, garlic and mushrooms was able to bring out a richness that can not be developed in my opinion by other cooking methods.


one pound organic green beans
8 large crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
two heads of garlic
three red bell peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the stem ends from each green bean then steam until tender but still crisp.  Cut the tops of each head of garlic off and put into a roasting pan with the red bell pepper, coat with olive oil, season with salt and pepper then roast until softened, about 30 to 45 minutes, set aside to cool.  In the same pan, add the sliced mushrooms and roast until tender and golden, about 10 to 15 minutes.  When finished cooking, push to one side of the pan, squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves and mash into a paste, remove skins from the bell peppers and tear them into the pan with the mushrooms, add the green beans then toss everything together until evenly distributed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Parmesan Potato Fritters

These Parmesan Potato Fritters are out of this world delicious and can be made in advance because unlike most fried foods these stay crispy!  


2 large russet potatoes, washed, peeled and grated 
1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
vegetable oil (or any flavorless oil with a high heat threshold)

Once the potatoes are shredded squeeze out the excess water by twisting them in cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel.  In a bowl combine the shredded potato, pepper, parmesan, eggs and flour until combined.  You may need to add more flour depending on how well the potato mixtures holds when pressed together into round disks.  You don't want the mixture to be dry but, also not too wet.  On medium heat oil until glistening, you can test if it is ready or not by putting in a piece of potato and watching how quickly it turns brown.  Form 1 1/2 to 2 inch round cake shapes with the potato mixture and fry until golden, when cooked place on a cookie rack to drain any excess oil and season with salt on both sides.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A late night snack..

I actually had a hard time deciding whether or not to post this recipe because it is so easy but, the flavors are so delicious I could not resist.  Sometimes after dinner, and dessert I need something a little savory and tonight I decided the beautiful crimini mushrooms in the fridge were exactly what I was looking for.  Here is a super easy, but powerfully flavorful Crimini Toast with Pecorino.  This recipe makes two pieces of toast.

2 large crimini mushrooms, brushed, thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp worcestershire
1/8 tsp dried thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
shredded pecorino
french bread

Cut your bread slices into 1/2 to 1 inch slices and toast under the broiler until lightly golden.  Heat a pan on medium, melt butter and add olive oil, once heated at dried thyme and allow it to bloom, about one minute.  Next, add the mushroom slices, worcestershire, salt, pepper and toss to make sure all slices are evenly coated.  Saute until lightly brown then evenly distribute onto bread slices, the butter and oil can be poured over top and will soak into the bread.  Sprinkle each with pecorino then place back under the broiler until golden brown.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Baked Croissants with Caramel Custard, Peaches & Raspberries

I took inspiration for this recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Caramel Croissant Pudding, and if you have never tried her recipe I highly recommend you do, the buttery caramel flavor base against the crispy croissants surround by smooth pudding is absolutely amazing.  

For my version, I wanted to add the freshness of fruit, the depth of vanilla and warmth of cinnamon and nutmeg.  This recipe substantially feeds twelve with ease and can be altered easily to serve as many as needed.  Variations on the fruit used can make this a seasonal breakfast dish recipe; I like using coconut milk and adding pineapple or mango or using plums and cherries for a stone fruit version.  My preference to use frozen fruit is simply that it is usually packed at its peak flavor whereas fresh isn’t as reliable however, if you have peak fresh fruit available to use then by all means use it.

My thoughts on bread pudding; soak times can vary depending on the type of bread you are using, as well as the age.  Fresher bread usually needs more soaking time unlike day old which isn’t as dry.  When using day old croissants, you can soak them less as they take on the custard just like a dry sponge takes on water, and while you want the classic smooth texture of bread pudding when making this dish, a crispy top is also important.  Another element I feel is a must is vanilla sugar, which I use for topping just before baking.  When using vanilla pods, I always take advantage of their remnant pungent flavor by adding them my already existing container of vanilla sugar.  If you don’t have fresh vanilla pods you can simply mix together sugar with vanilla bean paste (a pantry necessity) and allow it to sit overnight before using.  The base of the custard can be altered as you prefer by cutting the cream with milk or by using only milk but, I recommend the lowest you go is 2%, using 1% or skim just doesn’t provide the same silky rich texture custards naturally offer. 


12 day old croissants
8 eggs, cracked and lightly whisked
3 cups heavy cream, room temperature
3 cups whole milk, room temperature
2 ½ cups sugar
1 cups water
1 16 oz pkg frozen sliced peaches
half of a package of raspberries
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
vanilla sugar to top

In a medium sauce pan, dissolve sugar into water and bring to a simmer allowing to caramelize until deep brown in color, swirling the pan every few seconds to keep the liquid moving.  [Side note:  Caramel can overcook and burn very quickly so it is important to keep an eye on it once the mixture begins to simmer.]  Once the desired color, remove from heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream, then the whole milk.  Once incorporated, mix in the cinnamon and nutmeg, then slowly whisk in the eggs.  By now, the mixture should be cool enough that the eggs shouldn't scramble. 

Lay out the croissants (whole or torn) and peach slices evenly across the bottom of a large casserole, and then slowly cover with the custard pressing down to ensure they are evenly coated.  Allow the croissants to soak anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour; once soaked, sprinkle the top evenly with vanilla sugar then bake in a 350-degree oven until bubbling and golden, about an hour.  Add raspberries 30 minutes into cooking. Allow to rest 20 minutes before serving as this will give time for the custard to set.     

Friday, October 7, 2011

Amber's Chili

With the cooler months come a whole new array of dishes in my house, and a favorite is my girlfriend's chili recipe.  Simple to make, flavor packed, and hearty this recipe is definitely worth sharing. 


One pound ground sirloin
1 large green bell pepper (or two small), chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 to 5 tbsp chili powder
3 tbsp onion powder
2 to 3 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
15 oz can corn
15 oz can black beans, rinsed
15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed
15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed
28 oz can chili beans
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
6 oz can tomato paste
16 oz chicken stock

In a large heavy bottom pot, sauté the bell pepper and onion on medium heat until tender, add the spices and ground sirloin, cook until meat has browned breaking up with a spoon.  Next, mix in the tomato paste, allowing to cook until the tomato paste has melted, add the beans and stir in the chicken stock, bring to a boil and allow to simmer an hour and a half to two hours on low heat, stirring every 20 minutes.  When finished cooking, season to taste and allow the chili to sit  for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving.  The chili is great served over macaroni, topped with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Recipe 5          Pesto
Pesto, one of the freshest, most flavorful sauces in Italian cuisine, is used in a variety of ways from region to region.  This one is so easy to make that buying it in a store shouldn't be considered as an option.  From sandwich spreads to dressings and sauces, this recipe is a must-know for all cooks.  This is Jamie's classic pesto recipe, which he displays in a number of ways throughout Jamie's Italy.


3 bunches of fresh basil
a handful of pine nuts
1/2 garlic clove
handful of parmesan or pecorino, freshly grated
olive oil
salt & pepper

Start by toasting the pine nuts in a dry pan or on a cookie sheet under a low broiler until just golden.  In a food processor, toss in the basil, garlic clove, and toasted pine nuts, pulse processor until roughly chopped.  Add a handful of parmesan or pecorino and continue to pulse mixture slowly adding olive oil until you get a creamy consistency.  Thick or thin it is completely up to you.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Spiced Prawns with Mashed Lentils & Vegetables with Chick Peas

This is my nod to the vibrant flavors of Indian cuisine, exploring the use of turmeric, garam masala, cumin and chili, this dish has become one of my favorites.  Using the masoor dal variety of lentils offer a subtle flavor and mashed texture when cooked which I feel balances the pungent flavors of the spiced shrimp.  Normally, the spices are heated in oil, also called blooming, to bring out the amazing flavors. using them in the marinade then grilling the shrimp offers the same effect.


twelve tiger prawns
one zucchini
1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper
15 oz can or 2 cups dried cooked chick peas (garbanzo beans), see preparation for dried chick peas below
2 cups red lentils
vegetable stock
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried red chili, crushed
olive oil

To prepare dried chick peas, soaking overnight then cooking in equal parts of vegetable broth and water to cover, until tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.  Start by peeling the shrimp, mix together the spices using just enough oil to coat and marinating for 30 minutes to an hour.  Grill shrimp on each side about one to two minutes or until they are pink and just begin to curl.  Cut the vegetables into one inch pieces, lightly season with salt and pepper saute with chick peas until tender.  Rinse the lentils and pick through to make sure any gravel is removed, in a sauce pan cover lentils with stock bring to a boil then allow to simmer until tender, this should take about 10 to 15.  Once cooked the lentils will naturally became mashed in texture.  This recipe easily serves four.