Saturday, February 28, 2009

Zucchini Lemone

This dish is so easy I am ashamed to call it a recipe. It has a Kim Chee element to it's flavor that I really like and makes a great side or base for a bit of fish. I am a little tired of the winter, and the fact that I have often grown zucchini puts me in a summer mood. It is available and low priced year round.

2 large zucchini grated
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar

Sprinkle with salt and sugar and toss. Let it rest in a colander for the excess water to drip out for about an hour and give a squeeze as you remove from the colander so it isn't soggy.

Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon hot sauce (or Asian style chili paste)
1 dash soy sauce

Mix and dress the zucchini and let sit in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. It is so tangy and delightful your mouth will think it's summer.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Scallops with Anchovy Sauce Recipe

I am not a fan of either religion nor religious holidays but all the ashes on folks foreheads reminded me yesterday that this is the season that many catholics give up meat and/or chocolate. I give up organized religion for lent, and for Christmas, and over the summer, actually I just gave it up.

Don't confine this sauce to scallops, it is great on shrimp, fish fillet, even vegetables...just follow the same directions.

4 appetizer portions

16 dry scallops

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon Cayenne

8 anchovies cut into bits

1/2 cup white wine

2 tablespoons capers

Sear the scallops in butter and remove to a warm plate. De-glaze the pan with the wine, throw in everything else and reduce by 50% over a high flame. Pour over fish. Tastes way better than a communion wafer.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe

Often the best things in life are the simplest. If you have never made a sauce in your life, you can make this one. It has only a few ingredients, it is open to interpretation, or substitution and it will always reward you with a delicious plate of food.

1/4 pound of pancetta (American bacon can be substituted, just omit the oil)
splash of olive oil
2 large white onions thinly sliced
4 Roma tomatoes diced
Red Pepper flakes
1/2 pound Bucatini or the pasta of your choice
Wine to drink and a splash in the sauce if you need it.

Splash a little oil in your pan and brown your pancetta. If you want to keep the pancetta crisp, remove when brown and toss in the onions. Cook the onion over medium heat until they almost melt, they should be very soft, a little salt on the onions decreases cooking time as they wilt faster. Toss in your tomatoes and a little more salt. Bring a heavily salted pot of water to a boil and cook the Bucatina, this pasta cooks quickly so drain before fully done and toss in the pan with your tomatoes. Add a little pasta water or wine if the sauce is too thick and toss your pancetta back in along with a few shakes of red pepper flakes.
It's that simple. You finish cooking the pasta in the sauce which absorbs into it and fills the little holes inside the Bucatini with flavor.

Yes, you can add some cheese.
Yes, you can put a bit of garlic in this sauce.
Quite frankly, none of it is needed. The crisp bacon and sweet onion and tomato flavor are quite enough. You will be cooking like a Roman grandmother in no time.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cheesy Cauliflower

I have been an open critic of the books that tell you to hide vegetables in brownies and other 'treats' to trick children into eating them. I think it's a cruddy approach and you never teach your children how to enjoy what is good for them.

I recently got an e mail from a Mom who told me she HAD to hide the cauliflower in brownies because if she just steamed it her daughter would not eat it.

On what planet are the only two choices steaming and brownies?

Kids and adults love this dish, okay it's not low fat so adults should eat it less often, but it's good.

1 Head of Cauliflower sliced
1 large onion sliced
1/4 cup flour for dusting
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup grated cheese (cheddar, jack, swiss, it's all good)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
A good dose of salt
A few grinds of pepper
A few dots of butter

Toss the vegetables in a bowl and dust with the flour and toss. Add in everything else and stir til mixed. Pour into buttered casserole and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. The cauliflower should be tender, the cheese sauce bubbly and gorgeous. Eat.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chicken Parmesan Recipe for busy Teachers

I get a lot of readers to this site and most come from google search engines but sometimes I will be linked and get a lot of traffic that way. There is a site called Tribal Fusion or Datalounge where in addition to television (specifically prime time) they talk about everything it seems. One cannot peruse casually as one must be a member. These readers typically come in via old posts, through the backdoor as it were and they are experts when it comes to spelling, grammar, and word usage. The readers account for less than 3% of my traffic but they send more e mail than any other demographic and I have been forced to go back to ancient posts and correct typos and word usage issues. Any teacher who teaches correct English will be heartened to know that there is a percentage of students who not only listen but pay strict attention. These readers will eventually grow up and move to the Datalounge. This recipe for chicken Parmesan is dedicated to busy teachers who have papers to grade and eschew frozen food and microwaves.

An Italian restaurant who shall go un-named today hired me to compete with their new jarred and frozen sauces and meals. I have been an open critic of this restaurant and their food for years. It was precisely for that reason I was chosen.

The challenge was make a home made sauce or meal using the same essential ingredients they used in the same amount of time. For instance I had to make a Bolognese style sauce in 18 minutes, the time it took for water to boil and their jarred sauce to heat. Our two versions would go out into a blind tasting room and we watched as their panel said which was better.

For the first 10 dishes mine were deemed far superior by the tasters. When we go to Alfredo sauce I failed. To be honest I tasted theirs and thought of library paste, not knowing how to make library paste I made a Bechamel with cheese and it separated. I still preferred mine to the library paste, but it did not look appealing.

The biggest challenge was chicken Parmesan in 7 minutes. That is the time they estimated that it took to unwrap microwave, remove plastic, turn and get on a plate. My knife has never moved faster and I had never made a chicken Parm in my life, but my version still won. I would recommend that you slow down, but still it won't take more than 20 minutes. For two servings:

1 chicken breast split in half and pounded with a hammer 'til thin.

2 Roma tomatoes chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped


Oregano (two pinches)

Juice of one lime

1 oz. shredded mozzarella

1 oz. grated Parmesan

1 oz. Panko breadcrumbs

Salt and Pepper

While you beat your meat get a pan very hot with a little olive oil. Throw the garlic in the edge of the pan, stir. Salt and pepper your pounded breast and place in oil, if the garlic has started to soften toss the tomatoes on top and stir while you quickly sear the breast. After two or so minutes turn your meat over. Squeeze the juice of half a lime over each piece.Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese, top with a lid for about two minutes. Tomatoes should be bubbly but chunky and chicken cooked. Throw a pinch of oregano in the tomato and spoon equally over the breasts. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs and serve. You will be relieved to learn that their home line of food has been postponed, I hope forever. Do we really need more crap in a jar that is inferior to what can be made at home in 18 minutes?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Zucchini Puttanesca

I was completely inspired by Escopazzo in Miami. Chef Giancarla Bodoni is doing some of the most exciting food I have ever tasted.

I came home inspired and have been playing in my kitchen.

I was never a part of the raw food craze, I eat salads and vegies and things like that raw, but the raw food restaurants I have been to failed to excite me. Escopazzo has a raw section on the menu and my host highly recommended a raw zucchini pasta with sun dried tomato sauce. The idea did nothing for me, but the dish, was amazing. I may beg Chef Giancarla to share it. It was not the only dish I tasted, every bite of every food I put in my mouth impressed me more than the bite before. I had a nice chat with GianCarla who was a very generous and delightful woman.

On another night I dined on a very refined Puttanesca at Osteria del Teatro,
it was the most refined ladylike Puttanesca I had ever tasted. It was the call girl of Puttanescas, the recipe I share is more of a streetwalker. It is intense with flavor, and thanks to Chef Giancarla, a raw food. It can be served as part of the antipasta or pile it on a bed of greens and it's dinner. 2 large of 4 small servings. Recipe can be doubled.

1 large zucchini
2 ripe Roma tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
12 anchovies (reserve 6 whole ones)
2 teaspoons of capers
3/4 cup of pitted olives (reserve half)
Roughly 1/4 cup of olive oil
2 wedges of lemon

Grate the zucchini with a cheese grater into shred and set aside in a bowl.

Put the tomatoes, garlic, half the anchovies, half the olives and the olive oil into the food processor and pulse into a puree, a few bits of texture are fine. Stir in the capers and the rest of the olives and the zucchini and toss together. Place the mixture in little molded mounds on plates and give each pile a squeeze of lemon and garnish with the reserved anchovy.

Not a bad weekend, I got to taste other's food and I only had to cook one brunch. American Airlines even eventually got me my luggage.

Friday, February 6, 2009

On Break

I am aware that we are well into February without a new post. I have some good recipes to share this month, quick and easy on the budget but I am stepping out of the test kitchen for a short vacation and will be back in a few days with my garlic in hand.