Saturday, October 29, 2011

Simple, Delicious Pancakes

I am always looking for a great breakfast recipe and this morning I happened across the best pancake recipe I have ever found.  This quick, simple recipe is ready to eat in about 15 minutes and I guarantee you will love every bite!  I got the recipe from allrecipes.com and made one simple change to add a little extra deliciousness!

Here is what you will need:

1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
3 1/2 Tsp. baking powder
1 Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. white sugar
1 1/4 C milk
1 egg
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract  (My addition!  Vanilla in pancakes is amazing!)

Here is how you make them:

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the center.  Pour the milk, egg, vanilla, and melted butter into the well; mix until smooth.  Serving size is 1/4 C mix.  This recipe makes about 10 pancakes.  Enjoy!

- Chris

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lemon, Basil & Pecorino Pasta

Ok, this is amazing. But don't take my word for it...make it and then you can share in the awesomeness! It is pretty easy (we're talking SIX main ingredients, all probably in the house) and doesn't take all that long. 

First you need to get some pasta (I know, how freaking easy!) Now, I happened to have some fresh toasted onion pappardelle in the house - farmers market - so I used that. Realizing that you might not have that, hell, I normally don't, I would suggest a spinach pasta, perhaps linguine. Regular or whole wheat linguine would also work, just think the spinach would compliment the sauce. But I digress. Now, as the water starts to boil (with a few pinches of salt in it) you can turn attention to the simple sauce. 



Take a bowl and combine the juice from 2 lemons, or about 2/3 cup of juice, with a LOT of shredded pecorino cheese, say 3/4 lb. Pecorino is similar enough to a parmesan - albeit much better! - so if you have that, it will work. But let me be clear, this needs to be freshly shredded from a block of cheese, not out of the shaker can in the fridge. Stir this together until it starts to get a little lumpy and then pour it into a small saucepan on very low heat. Add in about 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil and add in some ground black peppercorns, continue to stir. Lastly tear some basil leaves and stir some more then remove from the heat...it is only supposed to be slightly warm, not boiling or hot, i.e., the cheese is not supposed to be melted!


Now just toss the pasta with the sauce in a large bowl, zest some lemon on top and add a few extra basil leaves for a haughty-taughty look, haha. Served with a Cab Franc as we had no Italian wines in house.

Enjoy and think of me touring through wine country for the next week...hopeful to return with some names of great restaurants, wineries and photos of food porn galore! 

- Melissa

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Simple Sausage and Peppers

So.  I may have been told that our food is a little too "high class" for some of our followers.  To that I say, you need to live a little and experiment with all the wonderful deliciousness that nature provides us.  Look past a seemingly laborious recipe and bathe in the flavors and aromas of your hard work!  There is not a single recipe on our blog that I would consider too difficult to make and more importantly, not worth the effort.  Having said that, I have stepped it down a notch and I am sharing a simple, yet delicious recipe that takes all of 15-20 minutes to make.  Sausage and peppers...what's not to love?!  (Beware, this is mainly a grill recipe because I refuse to believe that grilling should be limited to a "season.")

Here is what you will need:

1/2 - 1 Lb. of pasta.  (Your amount is determined by the number of people you are feeding so you know better than anyone how much you need.)
4 - 6 Tbsp. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Can never use enough in my book.)
1 - 2 Red Bell Peppers
1 - 2 Green Bell Peppers
1/2 - 3/4 of A Large White or Red Onion
3 - 6 Cloves of Garlic (Again, you can never use enough in my book.)
4 Spicy Italian Sausages (We prefer to get them from our local butcher but, a more convenient alternative is Shady Brook Farms Hot Italian Turkey Sausage.  Don't knock it until you try it!)
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Directions:

Boil water and cook pasta.  A brilliant chef, whom you may have heard of (Mario Batali), once said, "pasta water should be as salty as the ocean."  Very true!

Cut the peppers, onion, and garlic into strips.  Drizzle the olive oil on them, add salt & pepper.  Cook them
on the side burner of your grill using a perforated vegetable grill pan.  If you do not have a side burner or grill pan first, I am sorry.  Second, cooking them in a skillet on the stove will get you the same result.  You need to cook the vegetable mixture until the peppers are fork tender and the onion is caramelized.  (The picture is what the vegetables look like before you cook them.  This is to give you an idea of how to cut them.)





Grill the sausage at 425 degrees for about 8-10 minutes.  You know your grill better than I do, if it seems too hot, too long, or too short, make a judgement call.

When you are done your plate will look as amazing as the picture below.

Don't fret that there is no sauce to go with this.  The olive oil, sausage and tender vegetables will give you more than enough flavor and texture relief so you don't feel  like you are eating plain pasta.  We made this tonight and I hope you make it soon.  Enjoy!

-Chris

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Sicilian" Chicken

I know, I know. Chicken cutlets...again...really? But here's the thing - it is good for you (not fatty, high in protein) and it is versatile! If you are making the same 2 or 3 chicken dishes each time, no wonder you or those you are cooking for want a side of arson. That's your fault, you can do better! For instance, my Sicilian chicken (no copyright there - it just sounded good in my head) was something I threw together because we'd already had a week of poultry-palooza and I needed something NEW. 

So for starters, trim the boneless chicken cutlets. Get your pan out (see below, visuals are cool) and coat the bottom with olive oil, turning the heat to med/high. Add in a few cloves of crushed garlic, about a 1/4 cup of minced onion and let that brown a little. Once it is crackling and fragrant, you want to add the chicken, along with some salt and ground white peppercorns (you can use reg. pepper, I am just showing off). Cook the chicken evenly on both sides until it is starting to brown, yet not cooked all the way through. Olive oil can be added as needed so that the chicken is not sticking to the pan! Next you want to add some chopped artichokes (jarred works, don't add 5 steps, people), some chopped parsley (2 tsps) and about 3 tbsp of butter, plus a few pours of white wine. Turn the heat down to low/med (let's say 5 on an electric stove and a lower flame on gas) and let it all soak together. 


After a few minutes, add in sun dried tomatoes (how many is your choice, though I recommend the wet ones that have soaked in oil). Continue to move the chicken around a little and don't let it stick to the pan! Lastly, I added some Gaeta olives (jarred, soaking in olive oil brine) and I even poured a little of the brine/oil mixture in for good measure. Now again, I let it all sit together over low heat with the pan's cover on for about 5-10 minutes.


The result is an earthy, salty sauce that inhabits the chicken and the toppings that cover the cutlets are a Sicilian (my opinion) delight. Served with oven roasted new potatoes and seared green beans.

- Melissa

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spicy Lemongrass Shrimp

Thai food anyone?
First things first, you need to make the marinade for the shrimp. You want to take about a pound of cleaned shrimp, tails off, and put them in a bowl with 2 tsps of fish sauce, 1 tsp of sugar or a packet of splenda, 1/4 cup of either rice wine or sake (I used a dry sake and more then 1/4 cup  won't hurt!), 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 red chili - seeded and minced and the titular lemongrass. Now for this you can certainly use fresh and slice it OR you can find it sold already sliced in the jar. So if it is fresh, you want to slice about one stalk; if it is jarred, you want about a 1/3 cup. Now mix this all up, make sure the shrimp are coated and put it in the fridge for at least a half hour. 

Once the marinade has gotten its job done, you need to heat your wok. None of this throwing stuff in a cold wok and letting it heat together! Let it heat until the mere touch of oil makes a hell of a sizzle and then douse the wok with peanut oil. Next drop in another clove of minced garlic, a little salt and pepper and wait till your garlic is brown and/or your kitchen smells delicious. 

Next up in the veggies....and admittedly, I used a frozen mix that wasn't necessarily Asian but that I liked with the lemongrass.  It has broccoli, cauliflower and then orange and yellow carrots. It is simple but effective. However, any veggie mix you prefer will be ok or you can always just go with broccoli or green beans as a standalone. Let them cook for a few minutes and soften....

Now you want to add the shrimp and the marinade all in one shot. Stir it around with the vegetables until everything is coated and then let it cook on a lower heat in the wok for another five to seven minutes - or until the shrimp are cooked (they'll turn a lovely pinkish hue). 

Served with my usual brown jasmine rice and extra crushed red pepper flakes for more heat.

- Melissa

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Grandma's Homemade Applesauce

It has been a while since I have posted anything to the blog and I would like to thank my co-blogger Melissa for literally keeping us afloat!  That being said, I am bringing a wonderful fall treat to the blog this time that you are sure to enjoy.  This recipe does take time and patience but the reward is so worth it!  I remember my grandmother making this recipe on a wood-burning stove at the farm in Michigan, that's how good this recipe is!  Here is what you will need:

5 Lbs. of either Granny Smith or McIntosh apples (Or any combination thereof.)
1 C. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 C. Water

Here is how you make it:

1. You have to peel, core, and cut the apples into eighths.  (An apple corer is perfect for this task.  Just be careful that you trim off the excess core left on the apple.)

2.  Place the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and water into a large pot and bring the water to a slight boil.  Ensure to stir the mixture occasionally.



3.  Once the water has come to a boil, turn the heat down and let the mixture simmer.  Stir the mixture frequently as the apples begin to break down.  (You may need to add a little water here and there if you see the mixture is getting too dry.  Adding water does not hinder the flavor at all, it actually enhances it!)



4.  When complete, the recipe will yield about a quart of the best applesauce you have ever tasted!  Enjoy!



-Chris

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rice & Beans, M style

So admittedly I am not hispanic, but I can make some decent rice & beans regardless. Now, so can you if you follow my lead...all in all, this is simpler than paella, but very similar. 

So first start the rice in a smaller saucepan - short grain brown, 1 cup, and 1 cup of broth (chix or beef, your call). Let that simmer on medium heat for close to 10 minutes, while stirring, until the liquid is absorbed. Then dump the rice into a large flat pan or a paella pan. You want to coat the pan with a thin film of olive oil, a pinch or two of saffron. Continue to stir this and add liquid by the 1/4 cup (water or more broth, again, your call). Stir frequently in the large pan and keep it over medium heat. When the rice firms up too much it is time for more liquid. Next up the beans. The key to the dark red kidney beans is to NOT drain them or rinse them. You want to open 1 can, dump it in with the rice and then scrape out the juice/residue in the can. It will add flavor, trust me! Now at the same time, you want to mix in about 1/2 minced, seeded serrano pepper and even a little taste of tabasco...if you're brave. This should all cook together in the pan for at least 35-30 minutes, over medium heat. 

Meanwhile, cook the sausage (I used spicy Italian actually) on the grill until it is about halfway cooked, so maybe 10 minutes of grill time. Then take the sausage, slice it and stir into the rice and bean mixture. Then you let it cook together for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently over a lower heat than before. When you remove it from  the heat the rice should be partially crusted, but not hard. 


Served piping hot with half a lime for juice, as preferred. 

- Melissa


Monday, October 10, 2011

Tuna Steaks with Ginger, Star Anise and Soy

Sorry for the absence....it was my birthday week and thus, my meals were being made by other talented chefs aside from myself. However, now I'm back with a delightful Asian-inspired sauce for ahi tuna, whether it is cooked or served as sashimi. Despite the haughty ingredients (well, for some...not for me...and I hope my readers are becoming braver and snottier!) this is a fairly simple dish to execute.


First you want to chop some fresh ginger up - you still want it chunky, but smaller pieces - until you have at least 1/4 cup. Don't be afraid of more ginger, it is packed with vitamin C and good for you! Then you grind up the star anise (same flavor as fennel, think licorice-y) using a mortar & pestle. If you don't have a fancy-schmancy mortar & pestle, use some wax paper and a meat tenderizer or hammer. Same basic results, just a little harder, messier and less classy. However you smash, you want the star anise to be more of a powder than a chunky solid at the end - about 3-4 tsp. Now you put that, the ginger and some sesame oil (uh....a couple pours, not too much) into a small saucepan and start to cook it over very low heat. Stir frequently. Now you can add in soy sauce, about 1/3 cup, and continue to stir and heat. 

Visual for Star Anise..available at World Market, Trader Joe's,
Whole Foods, etc. Comparable to fennel, but you definitely
want this form of the plant for this recipe. 
Add in some wasabi paste - but not too much - and if you prefer it not spicy, just skip this step. Cook it all together over low heat for about 10 minutes, about the same amount of time you are searing the tuna steak with just some canola or grape seed oil and a sprinkle or two of toasted sesame seeds in a cast iron skillet or frying pan. Taste the sauce, you may wish to add more soy sauce.


Finally I drizzled the sauce over both the tuna and the brown, sticky jasmine rice. Served with edamame on the side.

- Melissa

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