Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jessie's Homemade Ranch Dressing

This is from my dear friend, Jess, who always brings us Spicy Beef and Bean Pie when I have a baby--the kids have been knows to ask me to have another baby so we could eat Beef and Bean Pie! This is the delicious salad dressing she brought the last time. Maybe I'll post the pie recipe later...

1 cup mayo
1 cup buttermilk, 3/4 cup for thicker dressing
1 tbsp minced dried onion
1/2 tea oregano
1/4 tea onion pwdr
1 tea dried parsley
1/4 garlic pwdr or 1/2 - 1 clove garlic minced
1/4 tea paprika
1/8 cayenne pepper
1/4 tea salt
1/4 tea black pepper

For dip use sour cream or yogurt in place of milk

Buon Apetito!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Winter Soups--The Ultimate Comfort Food!

I love soups in the winter time! They're great for a large, busy family. They're great for using up left-overs. They're great on a budget. They're just plain great! In the winter time, when the woodstove's going full blast I can put together a soup in my 24 quart stock pot, set it on the woodstove, and pretty much forget about it until dinner time!

I have a lot of soup recipes, but here are a few to get started. I'll continue posting them until they're all here. Just keep checking "soup" in the archives.

Buon Apetito!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Risotto, almost the way my mother makes it...

2 quarts chicken broth
1 medium size onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed with knife
1/2 stick butter
1 pound Arborio rice
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 generous pinches saffron threads

The broth in the pot should be simmering. In a large pot slowly simmer the onion and the garlic in the butter, when the onion starts to turn a gold color, remove from the heat and take out the garlic. Put the pot on heat again, add the rice, and mix very well with the onions. This is called toasting the rice because the broth has not been added.
After a minute or so start to add the broth a ladle full at a time, in order to allow the rice to absorb it. Do not over-stir, or rice grains will lose their individuality. Add another ladle of broth as the previous one is absorbed by rice.
When risotto is almost done, add the saffron and stir until well mixed. Add a handful of Parmigiano and mix well. Risotto should be soft enough to spread and cover the entire plate when served.

Buon Apetito!

Menu Monday!

Some of these I've made before and some we'll be trying for the first time. Maybe I'll post the recipes after we make them, because I always make my own adjustments.

Monday: Pad Thai

Tuesday: Kung Pao Chicken

Wednesday: Sausage, Kale and White Bean Soup

Thursday: Arroz Con Gandules, with modifications

Friday: Linguine and White Clam Sauce, with a splash of fresh lemon juice

Buon Apetito!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Formula for Soup

This is basically from Pan Anderson's "How To Cook Without A Book," one of my FAVORITE cookbooks. Using one set of instructions, and a "pick and choose" method for ingredients, you can make as many soups as your imagination allows.

Start by sautéing an chopped onion, then add a pound of diced vegetables, some sort of starch (diced potatoes, rice or pasta), a pound of meat (ground or cut into bite sized pieces), and a quart of broth. You just bring it to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or so.

Basic Recipe

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a soup pot. Saute the onions until slightly soft. Add 1 lb. vegetables, and 1 lb. meat (unless using shrimp or pork tenderloin--add them in the last 5 minutes of cooking), the starch of your choice (1 lb. potatoes, 32 oz. beans, 4 oz. wide noodles, or 1/2 cup rice), 1 cup canned tomatoes, 32 oz. chicken broth, and dried herbs and spices of your choice. Simmer until veggies are tender and flavors have blended, about 20 minutes. Add fresh herbs and salt & pepper to taste. Delicioso!

Here are a few combo suggestions (there are more in her book):

1 lb. ham, 1 lb. red potatoes, 2 small leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced thin, 2 diced carrots and 3/4 cup peas, seasoned with 1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 lb. ham, 8 oz. chopped escarole, 2 sliced carrots, 2 (16 oz.)cans drained and rinsed white beans, and 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, removed after 10 minutes of simmering and shredded before returning to the pot; 2 diced carrots, 2 diced celery ribs, 3/4 cup frozen peas, 4 oz. wide egg noodles, and 1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, removed after 10 minutes of simmering and shredded before returning to the pot; 10 oz. washed spinach, 1 diced zucchini, 1/2 cup long- or medium-grain white rice, and 3 tablespoons lemon juice, squirted into finished soup

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, removed after 10 minutes of simmering and shredded before returning to the pot; 1 diced zucchini OR 8 oz cut-up cauliflower, 2 diced carrots, 1 diced red potato OR 1 (16 oz.) can rinsed and drained chick peas, and 1 tablespoon curry powder

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, removed after 10 minutes of simmering and shredded before returning to the pot; 1 diced zucchini, 2 diced turnips, 1 each diced red potato and sweet potato, and 1/4 teaspoon firmly packed saffron threads (available real cheap from Hispanic and Middle Eastern Grocers)

Buon Apetito!

Escarole alla Nonna

This is my nonna's recipe for escarole. Be sure to eat it with a thick slice of pane rustica!

Bring a pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, wash one head of escarole, removing tough ends of stems, and tearing into manageable pieces. Peel 3-4 cloves of garlic. Boil escarole and garlic until escarole is tender. Drain some of the water, leaving enough for escarole to "wade" in. Pour olive oil over broth and generously salt and pepper.

Buon Apetito!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Schamelot To-Die-For Clam Chowder

This is absolutely delicious. We werve it with biscuits or french baguettes. You could add a salad, but my bet is people will want seconds of chowder rather than salad. This makes about 12 quarts.

1/4 bacon fat or oil
3 onions, diced
5 celery ribs, diced
4 carrots, diced
6 red potatoes, diced
clam juice plus water to make 8 cups
2 bay leaves

3 sticks butter
1.5 cups flour
1 pint heavy cream
1 pint milk
water to make desired consistency

24 oz. salad shrimp
8 oz. frozen corn
6 cans chopped clams, juice reserved

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablepoon salt

Saute onions in large stock pot. Add celery. Saute 5 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots and bay leaves. Add clam juice and water to cover, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Whisk in cream and milk and stir constantly until thick and smooth. Pour into vegetables and add more water to get desired consistency.

When ready to serve, stir in shrimp and corn. Heat through. Stir in clams just before serving. If they cook too much they get tough. When clams are heated through, stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Schamelot Cornbread

This is our favorite cornbread! Sweet, moist--sort of like cake. We always make enough for breakfast the next morning. Mmmm, cornbread, milk and honey!

1 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). In a small bowl, combine cornmeal and milk; let stand for 5 minutes. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix in the cornmeal mixture, eggs and oil until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean.

Split Pea Soup

This recipe is part of my "40 Pounds of Pork Project" because I use the frozen pork broth as the base for the soup. In the winter time I make up the soup in my pressure cooker in the morning and set it on the woodstove all day. Then in the evening I bring it to pressure and release right away. We eat it with cornbread (making extra for breakfast in the morning), and a glass of good beer.

1/4 cup pork fat, skim from top of broth
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
5 celery ribs, sliced thin
2 16 oz. bags split pead, rinsed
6 cloves garlic, pressed
1 pint pork juice
16 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

Buon Apetito!

Chocolate Nocino Mortal Sin Cake!

I make this at Christmas time with the Nocino that John makes every year. It's my dad's secret recipe (the Nocino) so I can't share it with you. You can use espresso instead, or a walnut liquor, if you prefer.

12 (1 ounce) squares
semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 (1 ounce) squares
unsweetened chocolate,
2 cups unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup Nocino
1 cup packed brown sugar
8 eggs
3 (10 ounce) packages frozen
raspberries, thawed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line the bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
2. Bring butter, espresso, and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar.
3. Place chocolate in a large bowl, and add boiling hot espresso mixture. Whisk until smooth. Cool slightly. Whisk in eggs. Pour batter into prepared pan.
4. Place cake pan in a roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting to come half way up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until center of cake is set, and a tester inserted comes out clean with a few moist crumbs attached, about 1 hour. Remove from water. Chill overnight.
5. Puree raspberries in processor. Chill. Serve with chilled cake.