Sunday, October 2, 2016

I say potato, you say potahto, so lets make GNOCCHI!

Gnocchi is one of the easiest pastas to make.  It can be made with flour or even ricotta, but the Napolitan style is made with potatoes.

It is hard to give an exact recipe because there are so many factors; The size of the potatoes, the relative humidity, and how much water the potatoes absorb in the cooking process.  For about 2 pounds of potatoes, (use a starchy potato like a russet) you will need about 2-1/2 cups of all purpose flour.(plus more for the surface)  You will also need 1 large egg or 2 medium.  A teaspoon of salt and a 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, white if you have it.

Boil the UNSKINNED but scrubbed potatoes until done. Skinned potatoes will absorb too much water! Remove from pot and rinse with cold water until cool enough to handle, but still very warm.  (cold potatoes do not rice well:)  Rub off the skins and cut small enough to put through ricer or food mill.  While still warm, spread out on a floured working surface, cover with a dish towel so it doesn't dry out, and allow it to cool. When cool, form into a bowl shape with a well in the middle, crack the egg(s) into the well, sprinkle on about half of the flour, the salt and pepper, (many Italians add about 1/4 tsp of freshly ground nutmeg) and start to mix it together.  A pastry scraper works well here.  Keep mixing in more flour until the pasta is dry enough to handle.  Begin kneading the pasta and adding more flour until it is no longer sticky.  The more you knead it the tougher the gnocchi will be, so be careful!

When paste is ready, form into about 4 balls and let sit for a few minutes.  Take the first ball and cut into 3-4 pieces and roll it into a ball and then begin to flatten it out on a floured surface with the fingers of both hands until it is like a breadstick about 1/2" thick.  Cut diagonally into segments about 1" long with a knife or pastry scraper.  Do this with remaining pasta.  Take each segment and roll on gnocchi board or the back of a fork, making grooves on on side and an indent with the thumb on the other side.  Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and lightly floured.  

They can now be frozen if needed.  Leave on the baking sheet until frozen and then you can put them in plastic bags to store in freezer.  

If you are cooking them right away, bring salted water to a boil and drop in the gnocchi. The amount depends on the size of your pot, but no more than would cover the surface area of the pot at one time. They are done when they float to the top.  Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl.  Coat them with a little of the sauce so they don't stick together while the rest of them cook, or toss them with a little olive oil.  Be careful when mixing in the sauce, fold it in gently so you don't smash or break the gnocchi.

Gnocchi is a very heavy meal and a small amount, 8-10 segments is a good serving size for most people.  It goes well in colder months with heavier tomato sauces with Italian sausage, onions and mushrooms.  It also goes well with any pesto.  In cooler months you can just add garlic sauteed in olive oil,( add some red pepper flakes for a kick) browned butter with sage or even some olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

To make a classic red sauce, dice very finely one small onion, grate one stick of celery, removing stringy parts, and finely grate or chop one carrot. The French call this a mirepoix, in Italian," La Sacra Trinita'."    Add 2 Tbs olive oil to a pot over medium heat.  Add 2 or more cloves of minced garlic.  Allow to release fragrance but not to brown.  Add the trinita' and cook until soft and onions are translucent. Add about 2 tbs tomato paste and stir with veggies until the paste is cooked through.  Add a 28 oz. can of tomatoes, crushed diced or pureed depending on the texture you want.  Bring to a slow boil.  Add 1 tbs dried basil, 1/2 tsp dries oregano, fresh or dried parsley, a pinch of red pepper flakes, 1 tbs. salt and 1 tsp freshly ground pepper.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for at least an hour, stirring on occasion and scraping the bottom so nothing sticks.  If you want to add sausage or mushrooms, cook them separately and add them to the sauce when it begins to boil.  Add salt and pepper to taste

Monday, May 23, 2016

It was just like a Movie, It was just like a Song, oh how this reminds me, of Egg Foo Yung....

Lo mien is a favorite of one of my favorite people in all the world.  It is really a simple dish to make and can be made with a million different ingredients, BUT NOT ALL AT ONCE!!!.  It needs to be simple, just three or four things besides the noodles.

For beef Lo mien you want to cut the meat in thin (about 1/8") slices.  This is easier to do when still a  little frozen.  Cut it against the grain so it will be more tender.  Then marinate it in a little soy sauce and oyster sauce.  About 1/2 cup Oyster and a couple TBS soy per pound of meat.  Sprinkle it with a couple Tbs of Corn Starch and let it "chill" in the fridge while you prepare the rest.

For veggies I always add thin sliced onion and Napa or Chinese cabbage.  You can also add any other veggie that is thinly sliced or julienned.  Carrots, green onions, beansprouts, mushrooms, celery etc.

You can use either dried or fresh lo mien noodles for this.  I prefer fresh but the dried are sooo cheap.  Either way they need to be boiled.  Most packages have cooking times on them.  You want them to be like pasta when serve, al dente, so boil them a little less than that because they will also cook when you combine them in the wok.

Begin by stir frying the meat.  Put a Tbs of peanut oil in the wok at high heat.  As soon as it starts to shimmer, add just enough meat to cover the bottom.  Stir fry it quickly until about half done.  Remove to a bowl and add next batch.  Once all meat is half cooked pour remaining juices in bowl with the meat.  Add about a tsp. of oil to the wok and add harder veggies, (carrots, onions, celery)  Just cook til warmed through but still crispy.  Add the softer veggies.  I add the Napa just before I take it off the heat.  Dump the veggies in with the meat.  Boil the noodle as per instruction. This may need to be done in batches as you should only stir fry about 2 cups at a time.  Put a Tbs of oil in wok on high,  Carefully add noodles from the side.  The wet noodles will cause the oil to splatter.  Stir to keep from sticking.  Add a tsp of soy sauce and cook till al dente and a little charred in places  Add next batch and repeat.  When all are cooked place all ingredients back in wok and cook until heated thru.  Check for seasoning and serve.
 “qǐng màn yòng” 请慢用

Friday, October 23, 2009

Curry Pork Kebabs

I actually found this recipe hanging on the meat counter and added my spin.
Per pound of pork,
mix 1 cup plain yogurt,
2 tbls orange juice concentrate,
1 tbls ground coriander,
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp curry- hot if you like-

Let the pork marinade overnite, shake off the excess and skewer it. I used orange and red peppers and red and sweet onions for a milder taste.

Saffron Jasmine Rice
Put the jasmine rice in the rice cooker, For 4 cups of rice I use about a tsp of saffron, and tbs each of cumin and ginger. You can add salt or lessen the water and add chicken or veggie broth. Make sure and stir it a few times while cooking so all the spices don't stay on top.

Tzatziki Sauce
This is best if you use real Greek yogurt-Trader Joe's has it.
Add some very thin sliced cucumber, a splash of lemon juice, a little mint if you have it. You can also add a little crushed garlic. Salt to taste, and if its too thick mix in a little EVOO. Serve cold, yes even over hot kebabs and rice. This stuff is great on spicy food too to cool it down.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Un po' di Carbonara per la Principessa!

So, its been almost a year. My how time flies. Just pondering how to fix some lamb chops, and considering what's happened in the last year. I need to post some recipes for my daughter at college. Never cared much to cook at home but now....the secret ingredient is.......well boys of course! So lets start with some carbonara! The first meal I ever ate in Italy, and still one of my best memories.

For a pound of spaghetti or linguine, (I really wouldn't recommend any other pasta for this recipe), cook 1/2 pound of bacon, thick cut is the best, or if you want to be authentic, get some pancetta from the deli. You want to cook it slow so it doesn't get crispy.When it is done, let it cool and then chop or tear into 1/2 inch pieces. Reserve the bacon drippings. While the bacon is cooking peel 4-5 cloves of garlic, slice them each into 2-3 pieces and put them in about a 1/4 cup of EVOO. Yea, credit to Rachel on that abbr. Heat the oil until it simmers for a minute, just don't let the garlic turn brown! Also beat up 4 eggs in a bowl and set aside. Make sure and salt the water, bring it to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente. The next step is crucial. When the pasta is done, drain it quickly and return the pasta to the pot. If you have a good heavy pot you will not have to put it back on the heat. First dump in the garlic oil, you can remove the garlic first if you aren't a true Italian. Stir the pasta up quickly to coat it with oil and then dump the eggs in and stir quickly. The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs. Stir until eggs are completely cooked. It will almost look like parmesan cheese on the pasta. If you have to, return the pot to the heat while stirring to get all the egg cooked. You don't want soup here! Now add in the bacon and however much of the bacon drippings you want. It's best to stir it with a wooden fork so the bacon doesn't congregate on the bottom of the pot. Add salt to taste and serve before it gets cold. Serve with grated parmesan. Buon Appetito!

Friday, November 7, 2008

One Word Tag

Rules: Answer the questions with one word and one word only!

Were is your cell phone? pocket
Where is your significant other? picknicking
Your hair color? dissappearing
Your favorite thing? family
Your dream last night? ?
Your dream/goal? eternity
The room you're in? empty
You're hobby? cooking
You're fear? Obamanation
Where do you want to be in 6 years? @grandkids
Where were you last night? airport
What you're not? settled
One of your wish list items? Rome
Where you grew up? Vegas
The last thing you did? unloaded
What are you wearing? normal
Your TV? Silent
Your pet? numerous
Your Computer? sssllllloooowwwwwwww
Your mood? content
Missing someone? many
Your car? many
Something your not wearing? frown
Favorite store? freshneasy
Your summer? hot
Love someone? molto
Your favorite color? any
When is the last time you laughed? now
When is the last time you cried? ages

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Best Fried Rice

I have always loved Chinese food. I still remember going to Fongs Garden in Las Vegas over 40 years ago. It was so different from anything I had ever had at home. I didn't try to cook Chinese for many years because I had never seen it done. But after starting to watch some cooking shows, Yan Can Cook is the first one that comes to mind, I decided to give it a try. Its really not very difficult, it just requires a lot of preparation before you actually start cooking.

The secret to good fried rice is cold rice. I usually cook about 5 cups of Calrose rice. Place the cooked rice in the fridge, stirring it occasionally to let out the heat, until it is chilled through. Another tip is to season all the ingredients as you stir-fry them. I begin by stir-frying a finely diced onion. Add a little salt and pepper and cook until soft. Remove the onion and place in a large bowl. Add a little more oil to the wok and stir-fry a bag of frozen peas and carrots, again adding a little salt and pepper. When heated through, and maybe even a little browned, place in the bowl with the onion. I then like to add some fresh bean sprouts. Don't over cook them, they need to still be crisp, but do season them with salt and pepper while cooking, and then place them in the bowl with the other veggies. Add some more oil and then drop in about 8 eggs, all at once. Don't scramble them, but let them cook a little as you stir them around. I have seen some people cook them like a big omelet and then slice it up. Its a little more work if you choose to do it that way, just make sure you season the eggs whichever way you do it. Add them to the bowl and then cook the meat. I usually use cooked ham. Dice it into 1/4 inch cubes and stir-fry it until a little charred. I have also used pork that I have slow-cooked slathered in Hoisin Sauce and then diced, or even chopped bacon. Chicken seems to break up too much in the rice. Oh, and by the way, you don't need to add salt and pepper as you cook the meat.

Add the meat to the bowl, wipe out any residue from the wok, add about 1/3 cup of oil (I use peanut) and heat it until shimmering. Be careful as you add the cold rice so it doesn't splash you with oil, and start breaking up the rice as you stir. I sprinkle about 2 tbls. of sugar on the rice as I'm stirring. As the rice begins to heat, add the soy sauce. 1/3 to 1/2 a cup should do. It helps break-up the rice, but you need to keep stirring so it doesn't burn. Dump in the bowl of meat and veggies and stir until combined. Return rice to the bowl and sprinkle with some fresh chopped scallion greens.

Fried rice is one dish that seems to be as good re-heated as fresh, so make enough for later.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Nuovo Coq au Vin

Do we have to call it "French Cuisine"?

I love cooking all types of food, but I have to admit that I have never ventured much into french cuisine. I did make a french onion soup once like they serve at Mimi's for my wife's birthday. It seemed like a lot of work for some broth with an over-sized crouton. I consider Italian food to be the supreme food of Europe, and perhaps the world, and really don't care much for anything French. I was however tempted beyond my ability to resist by a recipe in Gourmet magazine for Coq au Vin, a classic french offering.

It seemed quite simple, and I had all of the ingredients on hand, so I gave it a shot. It turned out O.K., but was a little too simple, too paysan. So on my second attempt I improvised..perhaps enough to call it European Cuisine, and thus maintain my distance from anything française which requires a certain snootiness to even pronounce.

I began as per the original recipe, browning the thighs well on the skin side. I then removed the skin and browned the now naked thighs where the skin had been. I found that with the original recipe, as you finished cooking it, the skin became soft and elastic, not the type of texture that I like in chicken skin. By browning them with the skin first though, it made some nice carmelization for the veggies.

I then got a bit more creative with the veggies, adding some course chopped onion, about a pound of thick sliced crimini mushrooms, (I think some thick slices of portobello would do nicely too) and then at the very end of cooking I threw in a couple handfuls of fresh green beans to the top of the pot. I also added a little chicken broth and thickened it with flour to make it more of a gravy. It was excellent over the olive oil mashed potatoes recommended in the recipe. For the potatoes, the food mill makes them very light, and I probably doubled the amount of olive oil since I used russets instead of yukons. I think I will call this dish Pollo al Vino, Va bene?