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Posts Tagged ‘aroma’

Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver, the other is gold.

In college my sorority ended every chapter meeting with the girls spread out in a huge circle, all connected holding hands by placing our right hand over our left wrist and grabbing our neighbor’s similarly placed hands.  We sang the same song every time, the main verse quoted above.

At twenty I was way too cool for school, not super sentimental and partaking in quite a bit of dramatic eye rolling while engaged in this endeavor – what a sappy old-fashioned song we had to sing.

With quite a few years and tears under my belt, I did find myself humming this verse all weekend.  You see, we were lucky enough to spend the weekend with old, treasured (super treasured) friends and I am sentimental, old-fashioned and sappy thinking about how special these folks are to my hubby and I.

And one of our favorite things to do together is cook, which we did Thursday evening.  We made this salad.  I thought it would be fun to share.

This is a very robust salad with big flavors, especially in the vinaigrette.  If anchovies are out of your comfort zone, just trust me and give them a try.  I love the protein punch the garbanzo beans provide.  The Kalamata olives and Asiago cheese create an antipasto platter taste.  I also add sliced Genoa salami to make it an entrée salad.

Chopped Italian Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

inspired by Mother’s Best cookbook

Salad Ingredients

1 large head Romaine lettuce, washed and dried.  Cut core off the end and slice lettuce crosswise into very thin strips (about 6-8 cups)

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1 cup Asiago cheese, cut into match sticks

1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all salad ingredients in a large rustic bowl and toss with Italian Oregano Vinaigrette

Italian Oregano Vinaigrette Ingredients

3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled

3 TBSP dried oregano (yes – 3 TBSP, please buy a fresh jar – dried spices lose most of their flavor after only 3-6 months on the shelf)

6 oil packed anchovy fillets

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup extra light tasting olive oil.  (or you can use half regular olive oil and half salad oil)

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 8-10 times until emulsified.


Drained and rinsed Garbanzo beans, basil  and a can of anchovy fillets.

Asiago cheese cut into match sticks

See, the anchovy fillets aren’t too scary!

Put all vinaigrette ingredients in a food processor and pulse 8-10 times until emulsified.

This vinaigrette packs a powerful flavor punch!

Enjoy!!

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Since starting the blog, my hands down favorite thing is hearing back from people who have enjoyed the posts and are trying new things, inspired and delighted to be in the kitchen.  My friend Sue (who I hope you all visited a couple of weeks ago when I guest-posted at The Desperate Housemommy ) sent me this message on Wednesday:

“I am frizzling capers and measuring anchovy paste by decree of The Barefoot Contessa. Stay tuned!!!”

BooYah!!

My second favorite thing is posting and archiving my all time favorite recipes.  Most evenings, after the house is buttoned down for the night, you can find me curled up perusing the stacks and stacks of cookbooks and magazines which have a tendency accumulate at my house.  (Mr. “One-Click” at Amazon beckons me frequently.)  I am always trying new recipes, but it is pretty rare for me to like something so much I want to make it a second time.  Or tell my friends about it.  I am pretty picky.

Over the years, after trying thousands of different things, I have built a répertoire of “go-to” recipes I make over and over again. These are my “A” player recipes, the ones I count on and always get gobbled up with rave reviews.  Spicy Thai garlic ginger peanut sauce is way at the top of the list.  It’s a recipe circa 2001 from Cooking Light.  I make this all the time.  It is quick, simple and versatile.  It goes great with grilled chicken or beef satay skewers.  I also use the sauce to make hot Peanutty Noodles – click for the link.

I don’t have a deep bench when it comes to Asian/Oriental ingredients in my pantry.  I love, love, love Asian flavors and food, but I tend to go out to restaurants to get my fix rather than cook it at home.  I like this recipe because there is not a long list of asian ingredients or tools you have to go out and buy first before making it.  The recipe does calls for a couple of ingredients you might have to hit the store for: fresh ginger (don’t worry I will show you how) and chili garlic sauce.  Other than that, you should have everything else at home.

Spicy Thai Garlic Ginger Peanut Sauce

inspired from CookingLight magazine

Ingredients

2 tsp fresh grated ginger

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 TBSP olive oli

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

1/4 soy sauce

3 TBSP rice vinegar

1 TBSP Chili Garlic Sauce

Method

This is a knob fresh ginger – find it in the produce section next to the bean sprouts and snap peas.

Break off one of the arms and peel it with a vegetable peeler.

Grate the peeled piece of ginger until you accumulate 2 tsp.  Inhale deeply and let the wonderful aroma transport you away.  The unused ginger  can be stored in a baggie and refrigerated.

Saute the fresh ginger and garlic in the olive oil for a quick 30 seconds.

Add the chili garlic sauce.  Here is a picture of the chili garlic sauce.  I get the brand with the rooster on the label.  Another brand easy to find is Lee Kum Kee.

Add the chicken broth, peanut butter, soy sauce and rice vinegar.

Stir until well blended.  Reduce heat and gently simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

It will get thick like this when it is done.  Toss it with hot noodles to make Peanutty Noodles.  Grill chicken or beef skewers and serve with this dipping sauce for satays.  It’s great to make it ahead and refrigerate.  (Let it come to room temperature before you use.)  Let me know if you have more ideas on how to use it!

Enjoy!

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This salmon tastes so good and is so easy to assemble it takes the intimidation factor out of cooking fish at home.  My friend Jackie is a budding novice gourmand and can’t wait to try this recipe solo!

Herb Poached Salmon

Ingredients

1.5 lb Salmon Fillet (no skin)

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 grated fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese

3-6 TBSPS fresh chopped herbs (parsley, dill, & chives)

salt and pepper to taste

Method

I have really good luck buying fish at Costco.  Salmon is usually marketed as either farm raised or wild.  I like the farm raised because it tastes a bit milder.  Salmon is a rich, full flavored fish full of those good omega 3 fatty acids to boot.  The fish should smell fresh and exhilarating just like the sea.  The color should look bright, vibrant and appealing.  If it has an unpleasant strong fishy odor don’t buy it – it’s already old.  Costco prints the packing date on their fish package which helps immensely to gauge freshness.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Place the salmon fillet in a casserole dish.  (If it is colder than room temperature add a couple extra minutes when cooking)  Make the poaching liquid by combining the wine and lemon juice and pour it over the fillet.

Make a dressing from the grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, mayonnaise, chopped herbs, salt and pepper.  If it seems too thick squirt in a little fresh lemon juice.

It will look like this.

Spread the dressing over the fillet.  Cover the casserole with foil.  Bake for 20 minutes.  After it comes out of the oven leave the foil on and let it rest for 10 minutes.

After the foil comes off it will smell absolutely amazing and looks so scrumptious.  The dressing has melted into the poaching liquid to make the most amazing sauce.  Spoon more of the poaching liquid back up over the fillet to blend the sauce.

Ta-Da!  Nothing intimidating about that.  Bon Appetit!

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Could it be?  Yes….today is just a bolognese day.  Snuggled back home after a particularly grueling computraining session (thanks to Raouf : 856 calories burned…really?)  I had nothing else on the docket which would induce me to venture back out.  Except I forgot to stop at the grocery store.  I am not going.  It is fa-reezing out there in Chicago today.  Dinner is definitely out of the pantry tonight.

And this is why classic Bolognese Sauce is a beautiful thing.  I almost always have the ingredients to make it in the pantry.  The real deal takes 3 or 4 hours to cook but there is very little prep time involved.  You can put it on to simmer and be oh so productive while the sauce fills your house with the most amazing aroma.  You only need to stop by every so often and give it a little loving before you are back tackling the “to do” list.

The Silver Spoon has been the best-selling cookbook in Italy for over 50 years and is considered the bible of authentic Italian cooking.  It was first published in English in 2005 which was a very happy day for me.  It is a phenomenal resource but runs a little short on the directional side.  I imagine the Italian grandmas assumed the progeny already knew what to do with the ingredients and were not compelled to write overly fussy instructions.  If you ever get a chance watch Anne Burrell’s Bolognese episode on Food Network’s Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.  Anne studied in Italy and in her own words – she “rocks the sauce”.  The Italian grandmas would be proud.  So with a nod to Anne and The Silver Spoon – here we go:

Classic Bolognese Sauce

(adapted from The Silver Spoon and Anne Burrell)

Ingredients

2 small onions peeled and cut in large chunks

2 large carrots peeled and cut in large chunks

3 ribs celery washed, stems and leaves removed and cut in large chunks

4 whole cloves fresh peeled garlic

2-3 TBSPS olive oil

3 pounds ground beef, preferably chuck

3 small cans tomato paste

3 cups hearty Italian wine like a Chianti

3 bay leaves

water

1/2 cup of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese grated

1 box (1 pound) of spaghetti pasta.

Method

 

 

In a food processor add

  • 2 small onions
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 ribs celery
  • 4 whole cloves garlic

Pulse the food processor 8-10 times to purée the vegetables

Coat a large heavy skillet with about 2-3 TBSP olive oil.   Bring to medium high heat and add the purée.  Season generously with salt.  Cook the vegetable purée for about 15-20 minutes stirring frequently.  The water will evaporate from the purée and the bottom of the pan will caramelize and be nice and brown.  The brown on the bottom of the pan is what makes the sauce so delicious so make sure to let it  develop before you go to the next step.Add

  • three pounds ground beef, preferably chuck.

Season generously with salt.  Cook the ground beef for another 15-20 minutes until it gets really brown (just like the vegetables).  Remember the brown is what makes the sauce taste so good!

It will look like this when it is ready

Add

  • 3 small cans tomato paste

Cook over medium heat until it browns – about 5 minutes

Add

  • 3 cups hearty Italian red wine (I use a Chianti or Barolo)

The wine deglazes the bottom of the pan and all the nice brown flavors developed are now in the sauce.

Cook for another 5 minutes and reduce the wine.  This will intensify the flavor even more.

Add

  • water to pan until it is 1 inch over the meat (about 4 cups)
  • 3 bay leaves

Season it again with salt.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

About every 45 minutes or so add

  • 2-3 additional cups of water

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer , stirring occasionally.  When all the water evaporates again repeat adding water.  After 3-4 hours of repeating this process you will have a robust, hearty sauce with BIG flavor.  As the sauce is simmering and the water evaporating it permeates your house with the most amazing aroma.  Did I happen to tell you it smells really, really good?

Now here is a really fun secret I have withheld until this point!  We just made a double batch of Bolognese Sauce.  You can take half of the sauce and freeze it to enjoy later (or maybe share it with your neighbor).

It is almost time to eat!  Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and cook

  • 1 box (1 pound) of spaghetti pasta.

Grate

  • 1/2 cup of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Add the drained, cooked spaghetti and cheese right into the skillet with the remaining sauce.  Add a little water if it is too thick.  Toss the pasta and coat it with the cheese and sauce.

Just pinch me…..it looks delish!

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