Sunday, October 10, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
6 medium to large tomatoes (I say medium to large because some veggies have become gargantuan lately - just buy ones that are large enough to stuff, but not so large that they do not fit in the casserole dish/roaster)(buy four tomatoes you will stuff, and two that are extra ripe ones that will become the sauce)
4 medium green peppers (you can also use round or oblong summer squash)
1 cup of long grain rice
1 lb ground lean beef or turkey meat
1 small red onion chopped
2.5 Tbs chopped parsley
1.5 Tbs finely chopped mint (Note: do not use peppermint, the other kind)(you can also use dry, mint but use half the portion)
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)(this is my addition, but my Grandmother said others in Greece use them too)
2 Teaspoons sugar
¾ Cup olive oil
¼ Cup white wine (optional)
First, make sure you have a pan (perhaps an Emile Henry Brazier) that accommodates all the vegetables. Then, cut the tops off the peppers and slice or pull out the core.
Turn 4 of the tomatoes upside down and using a very sharp knife, cut a circular hole, about 2 inches in diameter, in the top of the tomato.
In a medium sauté pan, heat ¼ cup olive oil and add the onions, sauté until softened and then add the rice. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes, then add the mint, parsley, black pepper and about 1 Tbs of kosher salt. If using white wine, add a splash and stir. Then add one cup of water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid and cook until the water is absorbed. The point is that you are only half cooking the rice because it will absorb additional moisture from the vegetables.
In a medium sauté pan brown the meat, drain any fat, salt and pepper to taste (you can also substitute vegetable or soy protein if you are vegetarian or vegan).
Toast the pine nuts in a smaller pan, stirring frequently since they burn quickly! You can use the same pan you use for the meat, just rinse the pan before you brown the meat.
Cook for at least an hour in a 375 degree oven, basting with the juices about every 20 minutes. They will be done when they have burned a little on the tops. Turn the peppers half way through if you placed them at an angle in the pan. I also rotate the entire dish half way through cooking so they brown evenly. If they are browning too quickly and the filling and the rice is not fully cooked yet, add a little extra water and cover with aluminum foil.
Serve with warm crusty bread, feta cheese and olives. Trust me . . . they are good!!!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Despite the heat, Saturday was the New Amsterdam Market and if you read my last post you probably already know that nothing would have kept me away. As it turned out I also was going to be hosting an impromptu dinner party so I needed inspiration and ingredients. Although ice cream was a given, I still was trying to make up my mind regarding an entrée. My first thought was fresh pasta with a meat sauce, but that seemed heavy and got nixed quickly. For a moment I thought about a quiche, but I had visions of melting pastry dough and an oven not being able to keep up with my AC. After some time, it finally came to me! I was going to make fresh fettuccini with a fresh tomato basil sauce. Its refreshing, light and requires limited prep and minimal clean up.
Although this sauce can be made with any tomatoes, I love using small heirloom tomatoes of various colors since it adds to the presentation.
Fresh oregano can be used instead of dry, but it was hot and I was tired so I decided to make due with what was in my pantry. This dish is delicious with fresh pasta, but I imagine it would be as good with any dry pasta, like fusilli or penne.
Fresh Fettuccini with Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce
- 2 pints cherry, grape tomatoes halved or quartered
- 10 basil leaves rolled and thinly sliced
- 2-4 garlic cloves crushed (depending on their size and how much you like garlic)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes (or more if you like heat)
- ½ cup olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
Toss with cooked pasta and serve with freshly grated parmesan.
Stay cool! Next post, ice pops!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I realize this is my second salad post in a row, but it is hot as hades in New York and frankly light summer food is the only thing I can think about making or eating. This salad is a variation of the Insalata Di Foccacia that I used to eat at I Tre Merli, an Italian restaurant I worked at for several years. Last year I was craving the salad and tried to recreate it to only find out that I liked my version more (Sorry Paolo). What I think I did was merge the Insalata Tricolore with the Insalata Di Foccacia.
For extra protein/flavor you can add shaved parmesan or halved boccini mozzarella. As is, this salad is vegan, vegetarian and hearty enough to be sufficient as lunch or a light dinner. If you are feeling fancy you can even make your own foccacia croutons, although I find the store bought Italian seasoned croutons good enough. I douse my salad with balsamic vinegar, but since I realize not everyone may like vinegar as much as I do, I have modified the dressing so that you don’t end up with a permanent pucker.
1 package of pre-washed baby arugula or 3 cups of baby arugula washed, rinsed and dried
2 endives halved and sliced into ½ inch pieces
1 small radicchio sliced into one inch pieces
2 ripe tomatoes cut into one inch pieces
6-8 large basil leaves, stacked, rolled and thinly sliced
1 cup Italian croutons or Foccacia croutons
½ cup toasted pignoli nuts a.ka. pine nuts (see note and picture below)
2 Tbs capers (more if you love capers like I do)
3 Tbs good quality balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste (go easy on the salt and add more if needed later. Capers are pretty briny).
Toss everything into a large bowl, add the dressing and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
The nice thing about this salad is that the arugula, radicchio and endive stand up to the dressing and it won't get soggy as quickly as other salads. What I really like is when the croutons get soaked in the balsamic. Sometimes I just pick at the balsamic doused croutons and leave the rest for my husband. Yum!
Note: Toast the pine nuts lightly over medium heat in a small frying or saute pan until they have reached the color below. No oil is needed and make sure they do not burn! Check ethnic stores for pine nuts since they tend to be cheaper than the ones you find at gourmet shops.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
I am back! Although my blog is new, I unfortunately had to take a mini blogging vacation. The reason for my cooking/writing sabbatical will be revealed shortly and hopefully my next few recipes will make up for my time away. My original plan for my next post was my friend Ifrain’s tostones recipe, but because I made this orzo salad for a 4th of July party, I figured this recipe should come first. It is a great summer dish and tastes even better on the beach! This recipe is a modification of a salad I used to buy at Wild Oats in Miami Beach and over the years I have changed the recipe to create a perfect balance of orzo, feta, olives and tomatoes.
As further proof of this recipe’s success, I have posted a picture below of my friend’s beautiful daughter finishing up her second portion of the salad. This was the truest compliment since her mother says she is a picky eater and at 14 months she is too young to know how to lie. To me this is as good as a four star review from the Times!
1 package of orzo (or about two cups uncooked orzo)
1 pint of grape tomatoes halved or quartered (sometimes I don't have enough tomatoes to I quarter them so they go further)
1 cup of pitted Kalamatas chopped
3/4 lb of Feta, crumbled
6-8 thinly sliced basil leaves
2 thinly sliced scallions
2 Tbs olive oil plus extra for the orzo
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 cloves crushed garlic or finely mince and create a paste using the flat of your knife and a little salt
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the orzo according to the package instructions in rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. (Make sure it is not overcooked or it will be mushy). Stir frequently to ensure the orzo does not clump. When done rinse in cold water and top immediately with olive oil and mix to ensure the orzo does not stick together. Normally I don’t rinse pasta, but in this instance it is ok since it will be served cold and you don’t need the extra starch to bind a sauce.
When the orzo has cooled add the Feta, Kalamatas, tomatoes, scallions and basil leaves.
Make a vinegraitte by combining the vinegar, olive oil and garlic. Combine well and toss over the salad and then stir to incorporate. Add salt and pepper to taste. I usually add one teaspoon of salt and black pepper, but the season will vary depending on the Feta you use. Some brands are saltier than other. Make sure the salad is thoroughly mixed, then chill over night or at least a few hours. This salad tastes best the next day!
§ Chiffonade the basil leaves by stacking, then rolling tight and slicing. I usually give them an extra chop so the pieces are smaller.
§ You can usually find pitted Kalamatas, but if not, you can use a cherry pitter to remove the pits. You also can use the flat side of your knife, by smashing the olive as you would a garlic clove. The pit will be pushed away from the flesh of the olive. Remove the pit and immediately throw it away. Even if you use pitted Kalamatas make sure there are no pits hiding since you don’t want anyone to chip a tooth while enjoying this salad.
§ As with all recipes, this salad required the best quality Feta, Kalamatas and olive oil.
I hope you enjoy this salad as much as Nairee did!!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Several weeks ago I decided to host a Brazilian send-off for two new friends that were going to Sao Paolo. On the menu was bolinhos de bacalhau, marinated pork loin, sautéed collard greens, rice, beans, and of course caipirinhas. When I first was introduced to Brazilian food the first dish that I first fell in love with was the bolinhos de bacalhau, or codfish fritters. Over the years I have developed my own little ritual for eating them, which includes a squeeze of lime, a dash of Tabasco and a spoonful of Brazilian vinaigrette (recipe below). This is not the traditional way to eat them, but like many of my food compulsions, once I find a flavor combination that I like, long standing tradition goes out the window.
These still are quite possibly one of my favorite things to eat and at dinner parties they fly off the table. The ingredients are cheap, the flavor wonderful and they can either be served as an appetizer or as part of the main meal. Malaguetta pepper hot sauce is always present and capirinhas are consumed faster than my husband can make them. The recipes for the foregoing are all below and I hope you will try one, if not all, of the dishes featured. Although I am not Brazilian, my husband is, so with his nod of approval I can guarantee that this food is authentic and delicious!
Bolinhos de Bacalhau:
1 lb of salt cod soaked for 2 days. Change the water several times. (Some recipes call for a longer period of time but I feel that this removes too much salt.)
2 large potatoes (you will need two cups)(white, Yukon or any type that mash well)
2 Tbs finely chopped parsley
1 cup of bread crumbs
several dashes of garlic powder
2 eggs separated with the yolks lightly beaten
¼ cup milk (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs of peppercorns
½ yellow onion sliced
salt to taste
1 quart of vegetable oil for frying
Newspaper and/pr paper towel for draining
4 limes quartered
(Note: You can find salt codfish at Whole Foods, but it is a lot cheaper if you go to a store in Chinatown or in Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or South American neighborhoods.)
Add the codfish, bay leaf, peppercorns and the onion with enough water to cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. (I have read that if you overcook the fish will toughen but I never saw a difference when I forgot the codfish too long)(You can also store the fish in the mixture for more flavor).
Peel and cube the potatoes and boil in salted water until they are soft enough to mash.
Drain the codfish and place in a food processor. As I add the codfish I go through it and remove any bones or pieces of skin. Pulse the fish until it is in tiny bits. (You can also shred by hand if you do not have a food processor.) Add the parsley and garlic powder and continue to pulse until everything is incorporated. Place the mixture into a large bowl and using a potato ricer add the potato. If you do not have a ricer, mash finely using a fork. I add a little potato at a time checking for flavor as I go. Add salt, mix thoroughly and taste for seasoning.
Add the egg yolks and incorporate. If the mixture is too dry add some milk to moisten, if too wet, bread crumbs to absorb the moisture. Take the remaining egg whites and beat until soft peaks form and then fold into the mixture. This extra step is not necessary, but I feel that it creates a fluffier bolinho. Chill for several hours until the mixture firms up.
When ready to cook take an ice cream scoop or two spoons and create evenly portioned little croquettes. You can make then round, oblong, or quenelles. Gently coat in bread crumbs and set aside until ready to fry. You can even do this the morning of, but remember to refrigerate!
In a heavy bottomed deep pan, preferably cast iron, fry at 375 degrees until golden brown. (If you do not have a thermometer, you can use my grandmother's technique, which is adding a little piece of bread to the oil to see if its hot enough. If it is ready, the bread will rise and start to have little bubbles around it.
Remember not to overcrowd the pan or they will not cook properly. The temperature will also drop when you add the food so you need to regulate accordingly. Turn the fritters while cooking to ensure even color. Drain on paper towels and salt while hot. Serve with limes, hot sauce and vinegraitte.
1 small tomato cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
½ green pepper finely chopped
3 Tbs olive oil
Enough red wine vinegar to cover the mixture by ½ inch. About 1 cup.
Salt to taste
(Note: This is great over rice and beans or steak!)
Sauteed Collar Greens:
1 bunch of collar greens washed and cored. I take the tough vein out with a knife but you can also fold the leaf in half and rip it out.
4-6 cloves finely minced garlic
Layer the greens so the largest one is on the outside and roll tightly. Fasten with rubber bands or hold firmly with your hand. Finely slice as in the picture below. Many Brazilians pride themselves on how thin they can slice them. My husband’s father is particularly good at this.
Add the garlic to the oil and start to heat. Cook garlic for a minute or two, making sure not to burn it. Add the greens, tossing while cooking, so the garlic is incorporated. Cook until tender. They should still be bright green (see below). Salt to taste.
(Note: These are a nutritious and delicious side that go well with everything from fish, meat or just rice and beans. Make sure your pan is large enough. The greens will reduce quickly, but they will take a lot of room in the beginning.)
The pork loin was delicious! The recipe was created by Devaki at Weave a Thousand Flavors and you can find her recipe at: http://www.weavethousandflavors.com/2010/02/a-spin-on-brazillian-feijoada-pork-tenderloin-marinated-in-feijioda-inspired-spices-roasted-with-a-o.html
I only had time to marinate the pork for two days, but it was still great and the glaze was amazing. I like my pork medium, so I cooked it at 425 – until it reached 138 on an internal thermometer and then let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Around 45-50 minutes. I served it on a platter surrounded by the collard greens and sliced oranges.
4 ounces cachaca (I like them strong)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 lime quartered and sliced
Muddle the lime and sugar very well. The longer you take doing this, the better it will taste. (The best caipirnha I ever had even removed the skin of the lime but this takes a bit longer. Try it if you have time). Add the cachaca, ice and shake.
You can also add strawberries, mango or passionfruit! Strawberry is my favorite!
Passion Fruit Caipirinha