Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Crespelle alla Romana

Here is a dish that is great to make out of leftovers. Anytime I make a big batch of ricotta cheese I always like to find different ways to use it up whether it be through sweet or savory applications. In this case I have used it for crespelle or crepes. In this recipe I have taken a Roman approach to the dish by combining the ricotta with pecorino romano cheese, mozzarella & the famed guanciale(cured pork cheeks) of Lazio. This is a very simple dish that is all about the ingredients. Sub par ingredients will yield a sub par dish, so take the time to make it right. This serves as a great primi(pasta course) to some roasted meat like a veal chop or pork roast.

TT = to taste

Crespelle - Makes 12:
1 cup AP Flour, sifted
3 Eggs
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2T melted butter

Whisk together flour, eggs, salt & milk
whisk in butter
let rest for 30 half hour
Use a ladle and our a small amount of the batter into a non stick skillet over medium heat
cook on one side for 45 seconds to a minute
flip and cook on other side for 20 seconds
transfer to parchment lined tray

Ricotta - Makes a little over 4 cups:
1 Gallon Whole Milk
1 Quart buttermilk
1 Pint Heavy Cream
1t salt

Bring all ingredients to a boil over med-low heat
let stand for 20 minutes
pour through cheesecloth lined strainer
let rest for 20 minutes
transfer to airtight container & refrigerate
Keeps for 1 week

3 cups ricotta
1 cup guanciale cut into matchsticks and cooked till crispy (substitute pancetta or bacon)
5 garlic cloves thinly sliced, and cooked in rendered guanciale fat until lightly browned
1 Fresh Mozzarella Ball, grated
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano (substitute parmigiano reggiano)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1T Coarse ground black pepper
1T Chopped fresh rosemary
1T fresh thyme
TT Grated Nutmeg

Drain ricotta for an hour
preheat oven to 450F
Put ricotta into stainless steel bowl
stir ricotta vigorously for 1 minute with wooden spoon to make creamy and pliable
fold in remaining ingredients until well combined
put about 1/4-1/3 cup of filling in each crepe
fold over and press in to half moon shape
repeat with remaining crespelle
there should be some filling left over ( around a half cup maybe a little more)
Shingle crespelle in butter lined baking dish (3 8x8 pyrex dishes or 2 9x13 pyrex dishes)
top with crumbled filling and grated pecorino romano cheese
bake in oven until nice golden brown and crispy (around 20 minutes)
allow to cool slightly
garnish with some more grated pecorino cheese, and I like to garnish with a little olio santo( hot chili oil - optional)
serve immediately

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Linguine con le' Cozze, Finocchio, Olive e Tarocchi

Despite the cold winter months, there is still something good to make you forget about the weather. That is delicious citrus fruit. In this simple pasta dish I have used one of my favorite citrus fruits and one of my favorite vegetables in several ways to demonstrate different textures. They are then paired with one of my favorite types of shellfish to make one extremely delicious and harmonious pasta dish.

1# Linguine
1# Mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1T chili flakes
2t fennel seed
1/3# pitted Sicilian olives(or gaeta)
1 Fennel bulb, cored, 1/2 of it 1/4" slice & the other half shaved very thin (1/4cup Fennel Fronds reserved for garnish)
4 Blood Oranges, two cut in half & juiced and the other two segmented into supremes
1 1/2 cups White wine
2T cup grated buddha's hand
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
3T Blood Orange infused Olive Oil

Bring 6Qts of water to a boil
Add a handful salt to boiling water
Heat 3T extra virgin olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat
add 1/4" sliced fennel & chili and saute for 5 minutes
drop linguine into pasta water
add olives, garlic & fennel seed and saute for another 2 minutes
add mussels, wine & blood orange juice and cover and cook for 2 minutes until mussels open
Remove the mussels and set aside
when pasta is 1 minute from al dente remove from pasta water and add to the sauce
toss together for last minute
add any pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce
remove from heat and stir in buddha's hand zest, parsley, fennel fronds, blood orange segments, raw shaved fennel, mussels and blood orange oil
garnish with a bit more parsley and fennel fronds
serve immediately

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Maiale Arrosto con Verdure Invernale

This is a great winter month dish that would be perfect to serve at Christmas time or any other special occasion during this cold stretch. One of my favorite things to do with large roasts whatever the protein may be is to roast it with the vegetables so they pick up all that delicious flavor from the meat. For the vegetables, I have some local seasonal vegetables that can show you that you don't have to be scared about cooking vegetables especially when done in this easy manner. There is a fair amount of work to do upfront, but once the roast is in the oven, you can feel free to enjoy your company for a couple hours.

TT = to taste

For Meat:
1 Large Frenched Pork Loin Roast
TT Fleur de Sel, or Kosher Salt
TT Coarse Cracked Black Pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (Sage, Thyme, Rosemary)

For the Contorno/Vegetable:
2 Bunches Collard Greens, stems removed and large diced, leaves cut into 2" pieces
2 Bulbs Garlic, cut in half
1# Sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes, scrubbed and cut into 1" bite size pieces
1# Multi-colored Fingerling Potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1" bite size pieces
1# Parsnips, scrubbed and cut into 1" bite size pieces
1# Brussel Sprouts, any bad outer leaves removed
2 Sprigs Rosemary
2 Sprigs Sage
4 Sprigs Thyme
2 Cups White Wine
TT Salt
TT Black Pepper

Pull Pork Roast out of refrigerator
season liberally all over with salt and pepper
spread the fresh herbs all over the meat as well
press the seasonings into the meat so they stick
let rest at room temp for an hour
preheat oven to 250F
Heat 6T of Olive Oil in very large skillet on high
Once smoking, add the pork roast skin side down first and brown all over until nice and well caramelized
Once browned remove from pan and set aside
lower heat to medium
For below saute process, add oil as necessary if needed
Also season each vegetable with a little bit salt and pepper as you go
add the sunchokes & parsnips and saute for 5 minutes, then remove
add potatoes and saute for 3 minutes, then remove
add brussel sprouts and saute for 2 minutes, then remove
Add garlic bulbs and saute cut side down until golden brown, 2 minutes
add collard greens and saute for one minute, then remove
add the wine to pick up any leftover bits from the pan, and cook for one minute
In large roasting pan, put the collard greens in the middle to use as a bed
place the rest of the vegetables all around the greens
pour in the wine
place the pork roast on top of the collard greens
Scatter the herb sprigs around the vegetables
put an oven proof thermometer in the center of the roast and place the pan in the 250F preheated oven
Roast until the thermometer reaches 135-140F (Around 1 1/2 - 2hours)
Pull out of oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes
Remove the roast from the pan
stir the vegetables together
Carve the roast around each bone into chops
place the vegetables and the carved roast on a platter
sprinkle the pork chops with a little bit of fleur de sel and drizzle the pork and vegetables with some good extra virgin olive oil
Serve immediately
If you'd like, you can serve the pork with some whole grain mustard even though that is not very Italian yet is a nice condiment for the delicious chops

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Torta di Mele con Gelato Vaniglia

This is a classic delicious fall/winter recipe of warm apple tart with a very intense vanilla bean gelato. If you have a winter farmer's market around you can go there to score yourself some good apples and milk which will make all the difference in this simple recipe. This recipe makes 3 tarts yet plenty of gelato so you can adjust recipe accordingly if you like.

For the tart:
3 Granny Smith Apples
1/2 stick of butter
pinch of salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1t grated cinnamon stick
dash of grated nutmeg
5 cloves
1 sheet puff pastry, homemade or store bought
1 egg
sugar for dusting

For the gelato:
2 cups Whole milk, best quality
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
1T cornstarch
pinch of salt

make gelato
pour all of the milk except 2T into a sauce pan
add remaining 2T of milk to the cornstarch in separate container and mix together
add the sugar and the vanilla seeds and pod to the sauce pan
bring to a boil over med heat
add some of the hot milk to the cornstarch mixture and whisk together
add the cornstarch and milk mixture back to the hot cream and cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes until cream thickens slightly
add pinch of salt
remove from heat transfer to separate container
allow to cool at room temp for half hour
transfer to air tight container, cove rand refrigerate over night

next day
strain the vanilla pod out and transfer to ice cream machine and follow its instructions to complete
pull puff pastry out of freezer and allow to thaw for 40 minutes
peel and slice apples
heat butter in saute pan until just reaches brown butter stage
add brown sugar, apples, and spices
saute until apples are just tender, NOT FALLING APART
add pinch of salt
remove from heat and allow to cool
take the sheet of puff pastry and roll it out slightly
cut into 6 pieces
take three of the sheets and cut ovular shapes in the top to vent the tarts
place the cooled apple mixture on the bottom of side of the tart
cover with the vented layer
use a fork and press down to seal the edges
whisk the egg together and brush the top of the tarts with the egg wash
sprinkle the top lightly with sugar to help give it a little crust
place on a sheet pan lined with parchment and place in pre heated 400F oven and bake until nice and golden brown on the top 20-25 minutes
remove from oven and allow to cool slightly
scoop the vanilla gelato on top of the tart and serve immediately

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Linguine con Frutti di Mare

This is a classic seafood pasta dish that you would find cruising the Amalfi coast in Campagna or just about any southern Italian region for that matter. The addition of the buddha's hand citrus isn't really Italian, yet citrus fruits are king in southern Italy. Because of this fact, this unique citrus fruit lends a wonderful floral fragrance of lemon to the dish that is absolutely delicious. Buddha's hand is in season from about November to January. If you can't find that, you can always substitute fresh lemons or even lemon grass if you come across it. The main thing here is to season the dish simply and let the natural flavors of the sea shine through.

TT = to taste

1# Linguine
1/2# head on shrimp
1/2# snow crab claws
4T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
6 White anchovy fillets, chopped(about 2T worth)
1T Chili flakes
1/2 cup White Wine, sauvignon blanc
1/4 cup Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2T Buddha's Hand zest
TT sea salt
TT fresh ground black pepper

Bring 6 Qts of water to boil
Drop in 3T sea salt
heat olive oil in large saute pan over med heat
add garlic, anchovies & chili flakes and saute for 2 minutes(garlic should be light brown, NOT Burnt!)
then add shrimp and crab claws and saute for 2 minutes
drop pasta in water, stir occasionally to keep from sticking together
add wine to saute pan with seafood and cook until reduced and seafood is cooked through
when pasta is 1 minute from al dente, remove from pasta water and add it to saute pan and toss & cook together for final minute
add grated buddha's hand and parsley
if needed add a little more pasta water to loosen the sauce
season with pepper and salt if needed to taste
pull off the heat and drizzle in a couple more tablespoons of best quality extra virgin olive oil
serve immediately

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mostaccioli e Formaggi con Tartufo

What better way is there to warm up during the cold winter months than a nice hearty Mac n' Cheese? Here is my version of this classic comfort food. This is quite the gourmet take on the dish making just about every component from scratch. The addition of the truffles is really gilding the lily, but who cares? It's my pasta dish. This is just a template, so feel free to omit the truffles and change up the cheeses to customize it to your own liking.

TT = to taste

For pasta:
3 1/2 cups Semolina Flour
5 Eggs, room temp
1T salt
3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For Bechamel:
4 cups Whole Milk
4T Flour
4T Butter
TT Sea Salt
TT Black Pepper
1/2 cup Parrano Cheese, grated
1/2 cup Ossau Iraty Cheese, grated
1/2 cup Piave Vecchio Cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
4 sprigs fresh thyme

For Croutons:
1/2 Ciabatta loaf cut in to 1 inch chunks
4-6T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the Rest of the dish:
2 small summer truffles
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

Make mostaccioli:
Combine all ingredients for pasta dough
work together and knead for 5 minutes
wrap in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes
once rested cut into 6 pieces
keep all pieces covered while working with one of the pieces so the others don't dry out
Roll through hand cranked pasta machine kneading ten times through thickest setting (#1)
once kneaded roll through thickest setting (#1) three times
then drop down two setting to (#3)
roll through three times
then drop down one more setting (#4)
roll through three times
Cut sheets into rectangles 1-1.5"x3"
place a pencil lengthwise down the center
dampen one side with a little water
roll over to form a tube & roll back and forth between table and hand to seal properly
Use a knife to cut the edges at an angle
place finished pasta shape on a floured parchment lined tray
Repeat process with remaining pasta dough
Bring 6qts of water to a boil
add 2-3T sea salt and drop pasta in batches
cook until pasta rises and cooks for another 30 seconds
pull pasta out and plunge into ice water to stop cooking
place cooked pasta in 9x13 baking dish

Make bechamel:
heat flour and butter in sauce pan and cook on med low heat for 5 minutes
add milk while whisking constantly
add thyme
cook until milk begins to thicken and becomes a sauce like consistency.
add in the cheese
taste for seasoning
season as necessary with salt and pepper
remove from heat and allow to cool

Make crouton:
Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat
add bread and saute until golden brown all over
season with a pinch of salt and pepper

Construct & finish the dish:
pour as much of the bechamel in with the pasta in the 9x13 pan as you need
save any pasta or sauce you don't use for a later time
toss together
take one of the truffles and shave in with the pasta and sauce
cover with the croutons
take butter and break apart with fingers on top of the croutons
scatter the remaining parmigiano reggiano over the top of the croutons
place casserole dish into pre-heated 350F oven and bake until golden brown and ooey gooey bubbly in the middle (20-30 minutes)
pull out of oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes
grate the remaining truffle over the top of the casserole
garnish with a bit more of the fresh thyme if you like
scoop out and serve immediately

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gnocchi Recipes

Here are several different types of gnocchi recipes that I use interchangeably. Feel free to use your own creativity in applying these recipes to your own dishes. Remember, there is no one way to make gnocchi.

TT = to taste

Potato Gnocchi
1# Russet/Idaho Potatoes (Boiled until just tender, then peeled)
1 egg
11oz 00 or AP flour plus extra
TT Salt
TT Pepper
TT Olive oil

Ricotta Gnocchi #1 (Firmer Gnocchi)
1 ½ # Ricotta Cheese drained of excess moisture(1hr)
½ c. grated parmiggiano reggiano
2-2 ½ c. semolina flour or AP flour
2 lg. Brown Eggs
1t fine sea salt
1t black pepper

Ricotta Gnocchi #2 (Softer Gnocchi - Large Gnocchi)
3 1/3 pounds fresh ricotta, drained in a colander or strainer
3 eggs
1/4 pound Montasio cheese, freshly grated (sub parmiggiano reggiano)
Pinch salt, plus 2 tablespoons for water
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Several gratings nutmeg
1 pinch ground cloves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Potato & Ricotta Gnocchi
2 Russet Potatoes - 1# (Boiled until just tender, then peeled)
1 yolk
½ c. 00 or AP flour plus extra
½ c. fresh ricotta cheese (look up recipe), drained
TT Salt
TT Pepper
TT Olive oil

Gnocchi alla Romana (Set Semolina Gnocchi - Made more so like polenta)
3c. Whole Milk
2 t. Salt
8T unsalted butter
1c. Semolina Flour
1 c. grated Parmiggiano Reggiano
4 Lg. Brown Egg Yolks

Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi
1 cup unbleached 00 or AP flour
10 oz (1 package frozen) spinach or 1 Lb. Fresh spinach
2 egg yolks
14 oz fresh ricotta (look up recipe), drained
1 t nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste (purists use white pepper)

Instant Potato Gnocchi
2/3 cup dry potato buds for instant mashed potatoes
2/3 cup boiling water
1 egg, room temperature, lightly beaten with a fork
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Saffron Gnocchi
2 Potatoes - 1# (Boiled until just tender, then peeled)
1 yolk
½ c. 00 or AP flour plus extra
½ c. fresh ricotta cheese (look up recipe), drained
1 t. Saffron
TT Salt
TT Pepper
TT Olive oil

Sweet Potato Gnocchi
2 Lg Sweet Potatoes (12-16oz)(Boiled until just tender, then peeled)
½ c. 00 or AP flour plus extra around 1 c.
½ c fine bread crumbs
1 lg. egg
¼ c parmesan cheese
1/8 t. grated nutmeg
TT salt
TT black pepper