Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pesto a different way

Not exactly liking pesto in the texture, but enjoying the taste, I experimented!

Fettuccine is my favorite pasta for this dish, but use your own favorite

·       1 lb fettuccini
·       2 & 1/2 cups basil leaves
          remember dry measure is different than wet measurement
·       5 garlic cloves, whole
·       1/2 cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds
          use the type of nuts you prefer, traditionally Pignoli nuts are used, but they are too           expensive for me and the sunflower seed mimics the taste the best
·       1/2 cup good olive oil (I like an extra virgin Spanish or Greek)
·       2 tablespoons cream or half and half
·       1/2 cup parmesan cheese
·       1 tablespoon dry basil/oregano/sun dried tomato mix
·       salt to taste plus salt for the pasta water
·       1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

chiffonade 1 cup of fresh basil and mix with the olive oil
pan roast the sunflower seeds and set aside
Salt the water for the pasta
add to the water the dry basil/oregano/sun dried tomato mix and the garlic
while the water is coming to a boil chiffonade the remainder of the basil
cook the pasta to your desired tenderness
(I like la dente, but the rest in my house like it soft)
drain the pasta and return to the pot with the cooked garlic cloves
immediately add the olive oil and 1 cup fresh basil
mix well
mix the cream and parmesan cheese together and add to the pasta
serve, adding fresh basil and sun flower seeds to the top of each plate

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

what my last fail should have been

I did not use the grill and really went to flavors my dad would cook when he did a stew.
I had some veal on hand, but no more smoked sausage and it worked wonderfully.

Veal Stew
the sauce is the trick

·       1.5 to 2 lbs veal steak with bone and fat
·       1 teaspoon black pepper
·       1 teaspoon salt
·       1 cup carrots, cut in 2 inch chunks
·       5 medium size potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
·       1 medium onion, cut into eights (large pieces)
·       1/2 cup celery, diced
·       1/4 cup fennel bulb, diced
·       1 teaspoon tarragon
·       1 tablespoon parsley
·       2 cup wine, white is preferable, but rose works
·       olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan

heat the olive oil and add onion, cooking till just soft
add potatoes and cook to just a bit of color
add salt and pepper
add the vela and let it begin to brown
add wine, celery, carrots, fennel, parsley and tarragon and cover
turn the heat to medium low, stirring occasionally
continue for 2 hours replacing the liquid with more wine.

At the end the pot will be thick and luscious.
Cut the veal into bite size pieces, removing any bone and cartilage.
Serve in a bowl with a good bread.

Stuffed Peppers Greek Style

As the temperature cools down i love to serve my stuffed peppers and i do them the way my mom taught me, with rice, not bread crumbs.  There are options, for those who do not like garlic, it is not necessary, but i would add some feta cheese inside the pepper in its stead.

·       4 large green peppers
           make sure the bottoms are flat!
·       1 lb ground beef (or lamb)
          beef should have a minimum of 15% fat
·       2 large eggs
·       1 tablespoon oregano
·       1/2 teaspoon salt
·       3 cloves garlic, minced
·       1/2 onion, minced
·       6 basil leaves, chopped fine
·       1 cup half cooked rice, cooled
          make this using a 1 to one ratio of water to rice
·       olive oil
·       1/2 cup tomato sauce
·       1 small can tomato paste (or ketchup)

remove the stems and all seeds from the peppers
coat the outside of the peppers with olive oil
place upright in a 9 in x 9 in baking pan
(they should fit comfortably in the pan with out falling over)
mix the eggs, garlic, onion, oregano, salt, basil, tomato sauce and rice with the ground beef
stuff the peppers to just below the top of the opening with the meat mixture
cover the opening with tomato paste or ketchup
if using tomato paste - season it with additional oregano and salt and a bit of sugar
bake at 350 F for 1 hour
serve warm

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

failure, but only in my eye

one of the regions i enjoy using as a food inspiration is north central Europe, specifically Alsace, but occasionally, i try to tweak a well known dish and often it fails.
Such was the case yesterday, a normally beautiful dish of potatoes, onions, carrot and smoked sausage (kielbasa) that i tried to do as a grilled item.
there was no good reason for me tp try grilled, except that it is a challenge.  While I grilled each item separately, with the thought to combine them later, they dried because my fire was not hot enough (I could blame it on using a new, unfamiliar charcoal...).  There is a beautiful sauce that goes with this dish, but i became impatient and turned up the heat on my stove top and then was distracted.
moments latter, the house was filled with smoke and the sauce ruined.
The people i cook for enjoyed it anyway (there was no pizza delivery 911 call), but i could only think of what the dish should have been...sigh

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Squash flowers

I still have lots of squash flowers, big bold yellow and very edible.  The squash are net yet ready to pick, but i can still enjoy these flowers.  I have not heard of any non-edible squash flowers.

Squash Flowers Greek style stuffed

·       6 squash flowers - use the same day they are picked
          remember the ones on the end of a long stem are male and will not produce fruit,          the others produce squash.  use only the male flowers
          I have not found a good way to preserve the flowers so they remain pretty, but               wrapping them in a paper towel holds them for a day or 2 for reasonable use
·       3 oz feta cheese, crumbled
·       1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
·       1/4 teaspoon sun dried tomatoes, minced
·       1/4 teaspoon salt - only if the feta is not stored in brine
·       2 large eggs, well beaten
·       1/2 teaspoon black pepper
          i accidentally spilled more pepper and it did not hurt, so more is okay
·       2 tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonade style)
·       1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, minced
          this is for flavor, not looks, so Italian parsley is a must
·       1/2 cup flour
·       3 ounces seltzer water
·       oil for frying

mix all seasonings (except the black pepper) with the feta cheese with the 2 eggs in one container
mix the flour, black pepper and seltzer in a separate bowl
i do not have a deep fryer (which would be nice) so i use a cast iron pan
open the squash blossoms
add a teaspoon of feta filling and close the petals
dip each flower in the batter and fry till golden brown
serve warm, if you can get them uneaten to the table.

Friday, September 5, 2014

on the grill -something different-chicken livers

i actually enjoy chicken livers and most of the time fry them with a bit of corn meal coating.
On occasions i will make a pate' which is to die for, but yesterday i wanted something a bit different.
I wanted to grill the chicken livers, with grilled onions and hot peppers.
Okay i was given a special piece of grilling equipment - a pan with holes.
 there were several parts to the preparation
1) the fire:
I use one of several brands of hardwood charcoal, but have actually enjoyed the Royal Oaks brand best.  (This despite find a significant amount of rocks, yes rocks in 3 bags).  Other bags have been fine,
I use a fire starter chimney (like Alton Brown uses on his shows and get a good fire with in 15 minutes, but i also use several pieces of wood..maple or cherry are local and occasionally hickory (which is my favorite, but also hazelnut, which is also local)
charcoal burning, wood down, charcoal on top, wait for flame.
Pan preparation:  I oil the pan and the grill grates and let them get hot.
I use canola oil
liver preparation:
probably this is the most complicated, because the liver is high in iron, it can have a bitter, metallic taste.
Standard method is to soak in milk for at least 1 hour
While fat is important, the most important is the calcium, which will exchange for the iron, a bit.
drain and discard the milk.
because this is on a flame and the livers have no fat, after they are drained get a good high temperature oil (like canola) and mix it in.
Add salt, pepper and any other spice (I sometimes use tarragon)
No matter what the livers may dry and so you want some form of sauce and i used a plain yogurt with tarragon, lemon and a bit of salt.
I always cook my onions and peppers first, but a 2 tiered grill so whatever i do works.
pan on the grill and it should be hot.
Add the chicken livers and mostly close the lid.
you actually get 2 things this way - a smoky flavor and the temperature, which should be about 300 to 350 F
10 to 15 minutes later open the grill and let more air in.
You will get flame, which should give you just the slight char on the livers that is very tasty.
They need to be cooked completely ( over 165 F), but not made into charcoal, use your eyes.
There was a lot more of the livers, but it was eaten rapidly, but you might get the idea.