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9.16.2014

Easy PEASY pork fried rice, Italian style!


 When I looked in the fridge to see what I could turn into dinner today (in Italy we eat our main meal at about 1pm), I saw mushrooms and a couple of pork chops ... and I immediately thought of pork fried rice... I used to love ordering that at my fav Chinese Restaurant on Rte. 27 in New Jersey between Princeton and New Brunswick - A Kitchen. I wonder if it's still there!?
I guess I could have made a risotto.. but it takes so long and keeps you at the stove.. ladling that broth into the rice as it slowly cooks over a very low heat... delicious but definitely not for me today... 12:30 ... I got a late start! And since we are living in a global world a little cuisine contamination is ok! The ingredients are reminiscent of Pasta alla Boscaiolo (woodsman style) made with mushrooms, pork sausage and peas and the method is reminiscent of oriental fried rice dishes. The result was delicious!

So here goes:
Ingredients for 2 or 3 servings

Whole grain rice, 1 cup (you can substitute white rice)
2 or 3 small pork chops, with bone and fat removed
1/2 lb mushrooms
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
garlic
white wine
extra virgin olive oil
fresh parsley, minced, to taste
freshly grated parmigiano cheese, to taste
salt and freshly ground pepper, to tast

Cook the rice according to the directions on the package. I cooked mine in vegetable broth, but plain salted water is fine.

While the rice cooks:
Dice the pork into small pieces
clean and slice the mushrooms

In a large, non-stick fry pan (go for the wok if you have one), quickly saute a couple of cloves of garlic in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over high heat, add the meat and lightly brown. Add the sliced mushrooms, a 1/2 cup of white wine, salt and pepper to taste. Lower heat, cover and allow to simmer until meat is tender (mine took about 20 minutes or so). Add frozen peas (you can substitute fresh if you want) and return to a simmer for about 5 min.

Remove the cover from the pan, raise the heat and allow liquid to evaporate; add about 2 T olive oil. When it sizzles, add the cooked, drained rice and stir for about few minutes. Add the minced parsley.
Serve with lots of freshly grated parmigiano cheese.
That's it!

                                                                                                      BUON APPETITO!

5.03.2014

Crespelle stuffed with ricotta and spinach

Who says you have to spend the entire day in the kitchen if you want a special meal?
Not me!!
I started making these at quarter past twelve... and at 1:30 they were on the table!
When you cook for 2 to 4 people, a great meal can take only minutes to prepare

Here goes!


Crespelle (2 to 4 servings)

2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt

Sift flower into bowl, add eggs and beat with a fork until smooth. Don't worry if there are few little lumps, they will disappear when you make the crepes. Add the water and continue beating.

We are looking for a batter the consistency of heavy cream. Set the batter aside to rest for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, make the filling for the crepes.

Filling

1/2 lb ricotta
1/2 cup chopped spinach, make sure you squeeze out all of the excess water.
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
1 egg
pinch of salt
a bit of freshly ground pepper (optional)
a bit of freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
1 small clove of garlic, grated or put through a garlic press

Mix well
This is what your filling will look like, more or less. You can add more spinach if you like or you can eliminate it all together and add some chopped parsley for flavor, instead.







Time to make the sauce.
I used about 1 cup of tomato puree, 1 clove of garlic, crushed, a few basil leaves, a pinch of salt. Saute the garlic in about 2 T of extra virgin olive oil, before the garlic browns, add the tomato puree, basil and salt. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and leave it to cook, stirring occasionally.

Ok, time to make the crepes.
You will need a small non-stick omelette pan. Pour in about a tsp of oil, heat well. As the pan heats, use a paper towel to spread the oil over the bottom and sides of the pan. The pan is hot enough when you sprinkle a few drops of water into the pan and they crackle and disappear.



When you are making crepes in an omelette pan the trick is all in your wrist. Lift the pan off the burner and pour in about 2 T of batter, quickly rotate the pan (this is where the wrist movement comes in) so that the batter quickly covers the bottom of the pan. We do not want the crepe to brown, so watch it carefully. As soon as the top is no longer "shiny" - lift one edge of the crepe with a butter knife, carefully use your fingertips to pick it up and turn it over.


Cook it for about 5 seconds on the other side, and remove it from the pan.
The Crepes should be pretty thin and transparent. After you make the first one, if it is too thick, add about a tablespoon of water to the batter, mix in and continue making the crepes. I get about 12 crepes about 6-7 inches in diameter with this amount of batter.
You can overlap them on a tray as you make them.


We are almost done!


Visually divide your filling in to enough portions to fill all of your crepes. You should be able to use one heaping tablespoon for each crepe.
Lay the first crepe on your work surface, spread about 1 T of filling across the middle of the crepe.


 Fold the bottom half of the crepe over the filling and then roll the crepe up
Et voilà!
When you have filled and rolled all of the crepes. Spread about half of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish and then lay the crepes in the dish, in a single layer.








Spread the remaining sauce on top and add top with a generous handful of grated Parmigiano cheese. Bake in a pre-heated oven (375°F - 400°F) for about 20 minutes.





Serve and enjoy the compliments!!

Buon appetito!

3.08.2014

Tagliatelle with Sausage and Leeks: today's quick pasta dish!

  Today's easy pasta dish is home made tagliatelle with crumbled sausage and leeks!

ingredients:
1 link of sausage per person
1/2 leak, with green part removed per person
extra virgin olive oil
white wine
black pepper
salt to taste
 Sauté the sausage in a frying pan with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil, when browned add sliced leeks. Sauté for another minute or so. Add a good splash of white wine, lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
I made homemade tagliatelle, but you can use buy the fresh pasta or even use a short pasta, like penne or rotini.
Cook the pasta and drain. Reserve about some of the water you cooked the pasta in.
 Add the pasta to the pan with the sausage and leeks, add fresh chopped chives for garnish and toss well over a high flame. If it seems too dry, add some of the water from the pasta.

Serve with grated parmigiano cheese and

Buon appetito!

2.14.2014

Rigatoni with cauliflower, potatoes and fontina cheese

Two days in a row! Don't get used to it!!
Seriously... I was chatting on Facebook this morning with a friend of mine from the Lombardia region of Italy ... she was telling me that she had eaten out last night and - naturally - I asked what she had...

Pappardelle con cavoli, patate e fontina... Wide ribbon noodles with cauliflower, potatoes and fontina cheese...

So I had this cauliflower sitting in my fridge... potatoes in the pantry, fontina? check! but no pappardelle... too late to make them so.... I made a last minute substitution with the promise that next time I WILL use pappardelle...

So here's my recipe - EASY PEASY!! (serves 2)

Put a large pot of water on to boil, in the meantime clean, wash and cut the cauliflower up into flowerettes, peel and cut 1 large potato in half lengthwise and then into 1/2" slices. Coarsely grate about 2 to 3 oz of fontina cheese. I used rigatoni because that's what I had in the house, but you can use any short pasta you want. Here is the tricky part. I figured the potatoes and cauliflower take about 20-25 minutes to cook, so first I threw the cauliflower and potatoes into the boiling water. The rigatoni take about 12 min to cook, so after 10 minutes I threw about 4 oz of rigatoni into the boiling water with the potatoes and cauliflower. If you prefer you can cook the vegetables and the pasta separately, but when the pasta cooks in the same pot it absorbs all the flavor and probably some of the nutrients of the vegetables.While the pasta is cooking, in a large pan heat about 2T extra virgin olive oil and 1T butter (probably using all butter is more authentic, but who needs all that cholesterol?). I also threw in a couple of leaves of fresh sage.
When the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta and vegetables. You don't have to drain it completely. Add the pasta and potatoes to the oil and butter and toss well to coat, add the grated cheese and toss over high heat just til the cheese melts. That's it! a meal in 30 minutes or less!!

Buon appetito!

2.13.2014

Risotto Finto con Spinaci - QUICK Spinach Risotto

Yes, I am still cooking! It's just that I am doing lots of other stuff, too!!
Today I needed a quick lunch. I don't make risotto very often because of the time it takes to make it! Make your broth, brown the rice, add the broth one soup dipper at a time, allow it to simmer with the rice until it is absorbed, add another... and so on, and so on! Finally at the end, add a bit of butter to thicken things up and maybe after 30 minutes (longer if you use whole grain rice like I do) you can eat.


Well! This is what I did today! I cooked my spinach and rice separately. Then I chopped up some bacon and put it in the pan to fry with a clove of garlic. While that was frying I chopped up the cooked, drained spinach. By this time my rice was just about done. I drained it and added it to the bacon mix with a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. I added about a teaspoon of bouillon powder (you can crumble up a bouillon cube) and about a quarter cup of white wine. I mixed it all together over high heat, lowered the heat and let it simmer for about 2 minutes until the rice was perfectly cooked... that's it!

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!!