Fried Lumpia (Lumpiang Prito)

Filling

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ lb ground pork
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup diced turnip
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, pared and diced
  • ½ cup green beans, julienne
  • ¼ lb small shrimp
  • one egg, lightly beaten (optional)

Wrapper
Frozen Chinese spring roll wrappers or Lumpia wrappers (available at Asian groceries)

1. Saute garlic and onion in hot oil. Add pork, sauté until fat comes out, add water, cover and simmer10 to 15 minutes or until pork is tender. Season with salt, fish sauce and pepper.
2. Add rest of ingredients and sauté for another 5 minutes or until vegetables are done.
3. Let cool to room temperature.

To wrap:
Place the wrapper diagonally so that a corner is pointing at you. Place two tablespoonfuls of filling near the corner of the wrapper that is facing you. Shape filling like a mini log, making sure to leave at least 1.5 inches edge space all around. Fold corner facing you over the filling, then tuck the sides and roll neatly. Seal the roll by moistening edge with water or egg that is lightly beaten.

To cook:
Deep fry lumpia rolls until golden brown, around 5 minutes. Serve with ketchup or sweet and sour sauce.


Char Siu Bao (Roast Pork Buns)

MAKES 16 BUNS

INGREDIENTS
FOR THE DOUGH:

  • 1 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 3½ cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. diced lard or vegetable shortening

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 3 scallions, white parts only, finely chopped
  • 1½ cups diced roast pork
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch

INSTRUCTIONS
1. For the dough: Combine yeast in 1¼ cups water heated to 115° in a bowl; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Add yeast mixture, and mix on low speed; add lard one piece at a time, increase speed to medium, and continue mixing until dough forms into a ball, about 5 minutes. Remove bowl from mixer, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Shape into 16 equal-size balls.

2. For the filling: Heat oil in a 10″ nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions; cook for 1 minute. Add roast pork, soy and oyster sauces, and sugar; cook until scallions have softened and pork is heated through, about 3 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tbsp. water in a small cup, add to pork mixture, and cook until sauce thickens, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat, and let cool.

3. Place a dough ball in the palm of one hand and, with the thumb of your other hand, make a well in the center. Fill well with about 1½ tbsp. pork filling; seal by pinching dough closed toward the center. Place a 2″-square piece of parchment paper over pinched area. Turn bun over, and use scissors to make a ½” crisscross incision in the center of the bun. Repeat process, filling remaining buns and placing on parchment paper squares. Keep filled buns covered with a damp towel. Place 8 buns, paper side down, in an 11″ bamboo steamer; close tightly with lid. Meanwhile, bring 2 cups water to a boil in a 14″ flat-bottomed wok over high heat. Fit bamboo steamer into wok, and steam until puffed, about 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining buns


Fig and Onion Jam

We have friends from South Carolina stopping by, today. That means we have to cook.

We're doing a simple pasta, rolls... For dessert, Victor made a killer Almond Cake that I'll be writing about, later. But we needed something simple for an hors d'oeuvre.  bruschetta of sorts... Figs. Caramelized onions. Made into a jam.

Talked me into it!

It's a pretty basic concept... cook onions and figs with some sugar and balsamic. Basic concept, powerful taste!

Fig and Onion Jam

  • 2 lbs figs
  • 2 lbs onions
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fig balsamic vinegar
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp salt

Thinly slice onions and place in large pot with butter and olive oil. Cook until they begin to color. Add 1 cup sugar and mix well.

Meanwhile, stem and halve figs. Add to the onions and mix well.

Add thyme, salt, and balsamic vinegar. Cook until thick.

Cool, jar, and refrigerate.

It's really good on toasted baguettes with a shaving of pecorino or your favorite cheese.

It's also great on top of a burger.

Or just with a fork out of the jar.

If you can get a hold of some fresh figs, make some, today. You will not be sorry.


Garden Bounty

We did a bit of tag-teaming in the kitchen, today.  We picked a bit of produce from the yard and had to think of ways to use it. I've had friends for years that have had CSA shares and have spoken about getting massive amounts of something in their boxes and being at a loss as to what to do.

We didn't exactly have massive amounts of anything - yet - but three eggplants is a lot for me.

07-25-16-produce

And there are more where those came from!

I have wanted to do a stuffed eggplant since the day we planted them, and tonight I got my wish. The other two became caponata.

07-25-16-caponata

5 pints went downstairs to join the if Trump gets elected we're screwed hoard. And one went into the 'fridge for snacking.

While I was stuffing eggplant and making caponata, Victor was making a baked pasta using the crookneck squash - another vegetable that is taking over out there. Thank goodness these are things we like!

07-25-16-baked-shells

The recipes all come from Lidia.

Baked Zucchini and Shells

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 pound crookneck squash, sliced
  • One 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 pound sheels
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 8 ounces shredded Fontina
  • 1 cup grated Grana Padano

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

2. Add the onion, and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the squash, and cook until it begins to soften, another 5 minutes. Add the salt, then the crushed tomatoes with 1 cup water. Bring the sauce to a boil, and simmer just until it thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes, but don't let the squash begin to fall apart. Then toss in the chopped basil.

3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente, a few minutes shy of the package directions. Drain the pasta, and toss it in the skillet with the tomato sauce and basil.

4. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, toss together the two cheeses. Spread half the pasta and sauce in the baking dish, and top with half the cheese. Layer the remaining pasta and sauce, then the remaining cheese.

5. Bake, uncovered, until browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

And the Caponata:

Sicilian Caponata

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs eggplant
  • 2-1/2 tsp salt
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 medium onions, peeled cut in 1-1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 cups celery, trimmed cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 1 cup cerignola or other large green brine-cured olives, pitted and cut in ½-inch pieces
  • 1 pound fresh plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup small capers, drained
  • 10 large fresh basil leaves

Directions

Trim the eggplants and slice them (skin on) into chunks about 2-inches long and 1-inch thick. Toss the chunks with 2 teaspoons of salt and drain in a colander for 30 minutes to an hour. Rinse and pat them dry with paper towels.

Meanwhile pour the red wine vinegar and ½ cup water into the small pan, stir in the sugar and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half and syrupy, then remove from the heat.

Slice the onions into 1-1/2 pieces—you should have about 4 cups. Trim the celery stalks (and peel them if they’re tough and stringy) then chop in 1-inch chunks. Slice the plum tomatoes lengthwise into 1-inch thick wedges; scrape out the seeds and put the wedges in a sieve to drain off the juices. Roughly chop the pitted olives into ½-inch pieces.

To fry the eggplant, pour the cup of vegetable oil into the skillet and set over medium heat. Spread all the eggplant chunks in the hot oil and fry for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing and stirring frequently, until the eggplant is soft and cooked through and nicely browned on all sides. Turn off the heat, lift the chunks out of the oil with a slotted spoon and spread them on paper towels to drain. Discard the frying oil and wipe out the skillet.

Pour ¼ cup of the olive oil in the skillet and set it over medium heat. Stir in the onion and celery chunks, season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, tossing often, until they’ve wilted and lightly colored, 8 minutes or so. Toss in the olives and the capers, heat quickly until sizzling, then scatter in the tomatoes wedges and fold them in with the other vegetables. Season with another ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until the tomatoes are hot and softened but still holding their shape, about 5 minutes.

Spread the eggplant chunks on top of the onions and tomatoes, still over medium heat, and turn them in gently with a big spoon or spatula. When everything is sizzling, pour the vinegar syrup all over and stir it in. Cook a bit longer, then drizzle another couple tablespoons of olive oil over and stir in.

Cook the vegetables together for about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat. Tear the basil leaves into shreds and stir them into the caponata. Taste and adjust the seasonings; let cool to room temperature and serve.

And the stuffed eggplant.

Melanzane Ripiene alla Pugliese

Ingredients:

  • 6 small or 2 medium/large eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup grated Grana Padano
  • 1 cup grated Itallian Fontina
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Halve the eggplants lengthwise. Scoop out any seeds, then scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/2 inch shell. Cut the eggplant flesh into small cubes. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season the inside of the eggplant shells with 1 teaspoon of salt., then brown them, cut side down, in the oil, about 2 minutes. Remove and place in an oiled baking dish, cut side up.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the eggplant flesh and garlic. Once the eggplant has begun to wilt, add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper and cook until the eggplant is tender but the tomatoes retain their shape, about 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, stir in half the cheeses, parsley, and mint. Stuff the filling into the eggplant shells and sprinkle with the additional cheese. Cover with foil, and bake until the eggplant shells are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until the top is browned, about 10 to 15 minutes more.

I used one good-sized eggplant and just adjusted the filling ingredients. I also used one of the peppers from the garden in place of the red pepper flakes.

It was a great dinner and we have caponata downstairs for treats this winter - if they last that long!

 


Thanksgiving 2014

 

 Food, glorious food...

Oliver says it all. A day dedicated to overeating and excess. What a great day, a great holiday. A wonderful tradition. Definitely my kind of day!

We didn't host this year, instead, we went to Victor's brother and sister-in-laws... and what a spread Marie prepared! An impeccable table, to begin...

And stuffed mushrooms, bacon wrapped stuffed jalapeno peppers, assorted goat cheeses and tapenades, chopped chicken livers... that's what we started with.

And turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, cranberry relish, and gravygravygravy...

And desserts...

Pumpkin pie, cheese cake, walnut tart, pecan tart, wedding rings, sugar cookies... no boxed or packaged anything.

Just food, glorious food.

I was so busy eating, I completely forgot to take pictures other than the appetizers, but suffice to say, it was spectacular.

I did get a picture of Linda's Chicken Livers that Victor made...

11-27-14-thanksgiving-4

Linda's Chicken Livers

  • 4 sticks butter
  • 2 lbs chicken livers
  • 2 med onions, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 – or more – tsp cognac

Melt 1 stick of butter. Add onions but do not brown.

Add other ingredients – except butter – and cover. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes.

Process in food processor with remaining butter. Add cognac, and S&P, to taste.

Serve with chopped eggs or onion and toasted baguette or crackers.

Recipe can be cut in half.

It seems everything came out better than ever before.

A great day, indeed!

 


Mayonnaise

Possibly one of the easiest condiments to make, providing you have a blender. You can make it by hand, but your arm will get tired.

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup neutral oil

Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in blender. Pulse until well-mixed.

With blender running, very very slowly pour the first 1/4 cup oil into yolk mixture, a few drops at a time. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup oil in very slow thin stream until thick. Cover and chill.

 


Linda's Chicken Liver Pâté

Linda Heston Kremstein

  • 4 sticks butter
  • 2 lbs chicken livers
  • 2 med onions, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 – or more – tsp cognac

Melt 1 stick of butter. Add onions but do not brown.

Add other ingredients – except butter – and cover. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes.

Process in food processor with remaining butter. Add cognac, and S&P, to taste.

Serve with chopped eggs or onion and toasted baguette or crackers.

Recipe can be cut in half.


Bacon Jam

 

Okay. Stop what you're doing right now and make this. Really. And make at least a double batch. Really.

I have just found my new favorite food. Really.

My friend Katja mentioned this on Facebook the other day and had the recipe in her notes. I read it and knew I had to make it immediately. It's funny, because while I like bacon, I tend to like it as bacon - with eggs at breakfast, on a burger or BLT - and leave the chocolate-dipping and crushed over cupcakes to someone else.

Yet, when I read the recipe I knew I had to make it right away. It hit all of the right buttons. Part of it was definitely the ingredients - this is food-science at its finest. Frying, caramelizing, smoke, sweet, acid, spice - and the brilliance of coffee, one of my most favorite ingredients in soups and stews. Another part was imagining all I could do with it.  My mind goes into serious overload, sometimes, when I start thinking about what I can do with something.  It's why I pretty much never make the same thing twice the same way. There's just too many things to eat to keep making the same things the same way all the time...

But I digress...

I decided to start off with a double-batch - I had that much confidence that it would be fabulous. And I was right - it is fabulous!

I started it at 3pm and planned on putting some on top of the pork chops we were having for dinner. Dinner is at 5 o'clock sharp, because Nonna needs her routine, so instead of pureeing it boiling hot, I just spooned some onto the chops.

11-26-13-pork-chops-with-bacon-jam

 

O.M.G.

It was thick, gooey, sweet, smoky, just a tad spicy and rich beyond belief. A little of this will go a long way. Victor took a bite and immediately thought of adding it to baked beans. I went with a cheeseburger. But a couple slices of bread and some lettuce and tomato would work, too.

I'm wishing I had a pressure-canner because I'd love to make a lot and give it out as gifts - water bath would not work with this. Maybe I'll have to speak with Santa.

In the meantime, grab the ingredients and make it. Tonight.

Here's Katja's recipe. I used regular Tabasco and added some smoked paprika.

Bacon "Jam"

  • 1 lb. smoked bacon (or use regular bacon and add liquid smoke) **
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 T(ablespoons) brown sugar
  • Tabasco sauce to taste **
  • 1 c coffee
  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 maple syrup (BUY THE GOOD STUFF)
  • black pepper to taste
  • extra water

In a non-stick pan, fry bacon in batches until beginning to brown and get crispy. Once cool, cut into 1" or so pieces and set aside. In SOME of the rendered bacon fat, sautee onions and garlic until translucent. Transfer all of the onions and bacon to a heavy based pot or cast iron pot and all the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine; simmer over med-low heat for 2 hours. Every 25-30 mins, stir pot and add water (as needed). "Jam" should be thick and void of liquid when finished. Let cool for about 20 minutes. Using a food processor, pulse to desired texture. Serve almost any way you can think with bacon: on a burger or chicken burger, on a BLT, on any sandwich, really, etc.

** I used TJ's bacon ends and pieces and chipotle Tabasco to add the smokiness

I really do see this as being a regular item in the 'fridge.

 

 

 


Bacon and Caramelized Onion Dip

10-11-13-onion-bacon-dip

 

A while back I was reading Huffington Post Food and came across a recipe for a hot dip with caramelized onions and bacon. I've made gooey hot dips for many many years, but this definitely intrigued me... I really like caramelized onions and adding bacon seemed like the ultimate no-brainer. So... at work this morning I decided to give it a try. My co-workers definitely deserved something fun and new. Hard-working folks need sustenance.

It takes time to get the onions right, but it's well worth the effort! The plate was licked clean in no-time!

Hot Bacon and Caramelized Onion Dip

  • 12 oz package bacon
  • 5 cups diced onion (about 3 large)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 6 oz Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Chop bacon and fry until crisp. Drain and set aside, reserving bacon fat.

In a clean frying pan, add about 4 tbsp bacon fat and 4 tbsp butter. Add onions and cook over low heat until well-browned and caramelized - about 20 minutes - maybe longer. Be careful not to burn them.

When cooked, mix onions, bacon, sour cream, mayonnaise, shredded cheese, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour into a greased pie plate and bake uncovered, for about 30 minutes at 350°.

Serve with baguette slices.

Just about any cheese will work - including bits and pieces of whatever you have laying around in the 'fridge. Mix it up. have some fun with it.

It's not a low calorie low fat dish, so make sure there are lots of people around to enjoy it with!


Bruschetta and Pizza

We had bread for dinner, tonight.

Both were topped with tomato, cheese, and meat.  The similarity ended there.

The bruschetta was a baguette topped with a homegrown tomato slice, a slice of white stilton with peaches and cream, and a slice of speck - popped into a hot oven for about 4 minutes.  The cheese is like dessert.  it is sweet and creamy and played against the saltiness of the speck very well.

And then we had pizza.

I cheated - I bought pizza dough.  But I did make my own sauce.  A 39¢ can of tomato sauce mixed with some Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and crushed red peppers.  It's pretty much the pizza sauce I made when I worked at Pirro's, lo, these many years ago.  My goodness.  I left there in 1974.  How many lifetimes ago was that?!?    I had just turned 22 when I quit.  Tomorrow I'm going to be 60.  It's been several lifetimes.  Trust me.

One thing I haven't forgotten how to do in all of the ensuing years is how to hand-spin a pizza.  It really isn't as difficult as people think - although most cooking isn't as difficult as people think.

Back to being barely 22... I got into a fight with Barry - who was the owner.  I was the manager and pretty much running the place.  I walked across the street to the Riviera Dinner House - a restaurant where I ended up working about a year later - had more than a few cocktails, went home, packed up my car, and moved to Portland, Oregon.  That night.  I've never been the impulsive type.

My parents weren't exactly thrilled, but they didn't try to talk me out of it, either.  Six months later, the owner of the plant store next to Pirro's convinced me to move back to San Francisco and help her open a new place in Jack London Village in Oakland.  When Claudia went bust, Gracie, from the Riviera, hired me as a cook.  From The Riviera to the Red Chimney and Val's. They were owned by the brothers who owned the Blue Crystal - the bar up the street from Pirros - and where I had been illegally drinking since I was 17.  It was nice being in demand.  By 24, I was living at Lake Tahoe with a friend from the pizza parlor days...

Whew!  And these were some of my quieter years.....

 


All-Day Dining with Linda and David

Hors d'Oeuvres started at 2pm.  Cheesecake was served at 7pm.

We ate all day.

It's pretty much what yer supposed to do when you get together with good friends.  And we all believe in following the rules when it suits our purpose.

This has been a tradition since we moved back here 10 years ago.  Victor has known Linda since childhood.  She was our real estate agent when we bought our house.  David was our mortgage broker.

Good friends with a lot of history.  Friends you can say anything to without having to filter.

And friends who like to eat!

We started off with hors d'oeuvres.  Just three, because we didn't want to spoil our dinner.

First off was a puff pastry dish Victor came up with based on something Ina Garten makes.  She does a puff pastry, ham and cheese.  Victor took it to a whole new level.

Puff Pastry with Pancetta and Dates

  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 4 oz thin-sliced pancetta
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
  • 1 cup chopped dates

Roll puff pastry to fit sheet pan - 10" x 16" or so.  Brush with sun-dried tomato pesto, them layer pancetta, cheese, and dates.

Roll second sheet of puff pastry and place on top.  Crimp edges and brush with egg.  Cut slits to allow steam to escape.

Bake in a preheated 450° oven about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

These were definitely a hit.  They were easy to prepare and the fillings can be switched out a million and one ways!

Definitely a keeper.

I decided we needed to do at least one deep-fried hors d'oeuvre because...  well...  we do have that deep fryer!  I went with a crab fritter because I just couldn't think of anything else savory that I wanted to do.  This was a totally wing-it recipe from the fritter to the dipping sauce, but it turned out great.  The test fritters I made were still a bit doughy in the center so I really was caredul about the size.  1 tablespoon cooked up perfectly!

Crab and Green Chile Fritters

  • 8 oz crab
  • 1 4 oz can green chilies
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • salt and pepper

Mix crab with chiles, buttermilk, chives, and egg.  Add a bit of salt and pepper, to taste.  Add enough flour to make a moderately-stiff dough.

Drop tablespoon-sized balls into hot oil and cook until well browned.

Serve with dipping sauce.

For a dipping sauce I decided to go sweet and spicy.

We had homemade cranberry sauce in the fridge, apricot cookie filling in the fridge, and chipotles in adobo in the fridge.

I made a cranberry apricot chipotle dipping sauce!

Cranberry Apricot Chipotle Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup cranberry sauce
  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, chopped (or to taste)

Place ingredients in small saucepan.  Heat.  Mix briefly with immersion blender to blend and to break down larger berries or apricot pieces.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

And finally, we had bruschetta.

I love bruschetta in any and all its various incarnations.

Anything on toasted baguette with cheese is my idea of good.  This was mere open-a-jar.

We had a jar of Harry and Davids Charred Pineapple with Candied Peppers on the shelf for quite a while.  Today it was spooned onto baguette slices, topped with cream cheese, and placed under the broiler for a couple of minutes.

This was so simple and a total hit.

By 4:30pm, it was getting time to sit down to dinner.

We started off with a simple Calabrese Salad.

Red and Green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.

I drizzled the whole thing with that nice, expensive olive oil Nick gave us for Christmas and some 15 year old balsamic.  And a pinch of salt and pepper.  It didn't need anything else.

And then it wan on to the main attraction:

Handmade pasta with a lobster sauce.

Oh yes, you read that right.  Handmade pasta with a lobster sauce.

Oh yes.

Victor made the pasta from a recipe he saw on Ciao Italia with MaryAnn Esposito. She serves the pasta with a clam and mussel sauce, but Victor had a better idea.  Lobster.

Scialatielli

  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon grated Pecorino cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced basil or parsley leaves

Directions

Place egg, 1/3 cup milk, olive oil and salt in bowl of food processor and whirl until smooth. Add flour and cheese and pulse until mixture is grainy looking. Add parsley and pulse just until dough begins to leave the sides of bowl. If dough is too dry, add a little of the remaining milk until you can pinch a piece of dough between your fingers and it does not crumble.

Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead into a smooth ball. Place a bowl upside down over the dough and allow to rest for 30 minutes to relax the gluten and make it easier to roll.

Divide the dough into quarters and keep three covered while working the first piece. Flatten the dough to a four inch wide piece. Place it through the rollers of a hand crank pasta machine set to the fattest setting (#1). Set the rollers to the next fattest setting down (#2) and run the dough through again.

Use a small knife to cut 1/8 inch wide strips and place the strips on a clean towel. Repeat with the remaining dough.

It made a wonderful and delicious pasta dish, but we think next time we make it, we'll (that's *we* as in *Victor*) roll it a bit thinner.  It's supposed to be a thick pasta, but our tastes tend to go for thinner.

The sauce was a variation on a La Cucina theme...

Aragosta al Limone

  • Chunks of Lobster Tail
  • 4 Large Egg Yolks
  • 2 Lemons
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbls Grana Padano grated plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbls heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbls whole milk
  • 3 tbls finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tbls finely chopped chives

Sauté lobster chunks till just done, about 3 minutes or opaque. (Don’t over cook)

Place egg yolks in a large bowl. Grate the zest of 1 lemon into the bowl. Add cheese and pepper, whisk to combine, then whisk in the cream, milk, parsley, chives and a generous pinch of salt.

When the pasta is al dente, drain and return to the pot. Immediately add the egg mixture and lobster meat then toss together to combine. Serve immediately with more Grana Padano.

It was gooder than good.  It was great watching both Linda and David go back for more.  It was everything it could be and more.

And then, finally, it was time for dessert.

Linda is just a bit of a chocaholic, so we decided a cheesecake with a chocolate crust was in order.  And this morning, I decided the cheesecake needed a chocolate ganache to cover it.

The ganache was pure over-the-top decadence.  I loved every calorie of it!

I made my favorite "Worlds Greatest Strawberry Cheesecake" except I didn't use the strawberries...

World's Greatest Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache

The Crust:

  • 3/4 cups walnuts, coarsely ground
  • 3/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1 3 oz Valrhona chocolate bar
  • 3 1/2 tbsp butter, melted

The Filling:

  • 4 pkgs cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream

The Topping:

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

The Ganache:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp vanilla

Putting it together: Preheat oven to 350º.  Mix crust ingredients and press evenly into bottom of 10″ springform pan.  Set aside.

Cream the cheese until light and fluffy.  Mix in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add sugar, vanilla, and whipping cream, mixing until smooth and light. Pour into pan and bake 60 – 70 minutes. Remove from oven and cool about 15 minutes.  Keep oven on.

Mix topping ingredients and spread onto top of cheesecake to within about 1/2 inch from edge.  Return to oven and bake about 7 more minutes.  Cool completely, cover, and refrigerate at least 24 hours (2-3 days is best.)

On day you’re going to serve, make ganache.  Heat cream.  Remove from heat and stir in grated chocolate.  Stir until smooth.  Add vanilla.

Remove cake from pan.  Spread ganache over cake.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

It really was a stellar day.  And while we did eat a lot, at least it was spread out over 5 hours.

Our next feast with them is tentatively scheduled for July at their house to celebrate my and Linda's birthdays.

I can't wait.

They feed us the same way.


Fried Hot Peppers

 

One of my most favorite things to have in the refrigerator -at all times- is a big container of fried hot peppers.

They go on everything, from burgers and sandwiches to stirred into pasta or baked into bread or on top of pizza.

A juicy cheeseburger with mayo and fried peppers is to die for.  Or on a turkey sandwich.   Scrambled into eggs.  They go on everything.  Really.

I usually use a mixture of Italian peppers and long hot peppers, or sometimes cubanelles.  Today I added some anaheim peppers into the mixture.  It's what's at the produce store and what looks good.

The concept is pretty simple:

Clean and seed the peppers, fry them in olive oil, and eat.

I start with a really big skillet and coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil.  In go the peppers and I keep the heat up for a while, moving and stirring the peppers around.

As they start to wilt, I turn down the heat and let them start to brown a bit.

I add a bit of salt and pepper, but that's pretty much it.

When they're nice and cooked, they go into a resealable container and into the fridge where they get eaten quite quickly.

A couple of huge words of caution:

  • Do this on a day you can open windows.
  • Wear gloves.

I have come close to dying inhaling the cooking pepper fumes.  Eyes watering, sneezing and coughing like there's no tomorrow...  It can be extremely painful.

Which shows you just how good they are if I'm willing to put myself through all of that!