Thursday, January 29, 2009

Prosciutto e Melone

Cook Time: 10 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


* 2/3 pound prosciutto di Parma
* 1 ripe cantaloupe


Transfer the prosciutto from the deli papers to a serving dish,
separating the slices and lay them out like a ribbon on to the plate.
"Fluffed up" prosciutto is much easier to pull from a serving plate.

To choose a ripe melon, give it a sniff and a good squeeze. Melon will
be very fragrant and will give slightly to pressure when squeezed. Cut
a thin slice of the melon skin away where it was attached to the vine.
Trim a thin slice off the opposite side. Stand the melon upright.
Using a sharp knife, clean the skin off the melon by cutting strips
working from the top to the bottom all around the circumference. Turn
the cleaned melon upside down and trim away any missed spots. Cut it
in 1/2 and scoop out the seeds. Cut cleaned cantaloupe into thin
slices or wedges and arrange on a serving plate. Pile prosciutto onto
melon slices and enjoy!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chunky Chicken and Chorizo Chili

Cook Time: 25 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 6 servings


* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
* 3/4 pound chorizo, chopped
* 2 pounds ground chicken
* 3 tablespoons chili powder, 3 palm fulls
* 1 tablespoon ground cumin, a palm full
* 1 onion, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 red bell pepper, chopped
* 1 (15-ounce) can red beans, drained
* 1 bottle beer
* 1 (28-ounce) can diced fire roasted tomatoes
* Salt
* 6 cups chicken stock
* 2 cups quick cooking polenta
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 scallions, finely chopped
* 2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme leaves


Heat a big, deep skillet over medium high heat with 1 tablespoon extra
virgin olive oil. Add chorizo and render its fat, 2 minutes. Push the
chorizo off to the sides of the pot and add chicken meat. Brown and
crumble the chicken, 5 to 6 minutes. Season the chicken with chili
powder and cumin while it cooks. Combine the onions, garlic, peppers
and beans to meats and cook another 5 to 6 minutes. Stir the beer into
the chili and reduce the liquid a minute then add the tomatoes and
heat through. Season the chili with salt, to taste, and reduce heat to

Bring 6 cups stock to a boil in a medium pot, stir in polenta and keep
stirring until the polenta masses and thickens to a porridge, 2 to 3
minutes. Stir in butter, scallions and thyme and season with salt, to

Fill bowls half way with polenta and make a well in the center. Fill
up bowls with chili and serve.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Almond Snowballs

Cook Time: 12 min
Level: Easy
Yield: (18 small scoop) or 9 (large scoop)


* 2 egg whites
* Pinch coarse salt
* 1/3 cup sugar, eyeball it
* 1 1/2 cups, about 6 ounces, shredded coconut
* 1 teaspoon almond extract, eyeball it
* 1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 9 candied red cherries, halved
* 1/4 cup sliced almonds


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites and salt to soft peaks, then add
sugar and beat again until peaks are stiff. Beat in almond flavoring.
Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in half of the coconut.
Sprinkle in the nutmeg and flour, stir, then fold in the remaining

Using a melon baller or other small scoop, or working with 2 spoons,
form 9 "snowballs" a couple of inches apart on each of 2 cookie
sheets. Bake snowballs 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove
from oven and garnish each snowball with half a cherry and a couple of
slivered almonds. Transfer to a rack or serving plate to cool.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Portobello Mushroom Salad

Prep Time: 10 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


* 4 portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean and very thinly sliced
* 4 ribs celery and their green tops, thinly sliced on an angle
* Handful flat-leaf parsley, picked of stems but left whole
* 1 lemon (Heads up: you'll need lemon zest for the pesto later,
so zest and reserve before you cut this lemon to juice it for this
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
* Coarse salt and black pepper
* A couple of handfuls shaved Parmiginao-Reggiano


Arrange the mushrooms and celery on a platter and scatter the parsley
leaves around. Squeeze the lemon juice evenly over the platter then
liberally drizzle the salad with extra-virgin olive oil, about 3
tablespoons. Season the salad with salt and lots of black pepper and
toss with your finger tips to combine. Using a vegetable peeler, shave
cheese and scatter a couple of handfuls Parmigiano-Reggiano over the


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chicken Marvalasala and Pappardelle with Rosemary Gravy

Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Yield : 2 servings


* 3/4-pound pappardelle pasta (wide ribbons, substitute fettuccine
if unavailable)
* Salt
* 4 large, thin pieces boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets
* Ground black pepper
* 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
* 2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced
* 12 shiitakes, stemmed and sliced
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste, look for this in a tube (it's easy
to store that way)
* 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, eyeball it
* 2 tablespoons minced rosemary leaves, a couple of sprigs
* 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
* 2 tablespoons capers, drained
* 1/2 cup Marsala wine
* Grated pecorino Romano cheese
* A couple handfuls arugula or baby spinach leaves, thinly sliced


Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When it comes up to
a boil, salt the water, drop in the pasta, and cook to al dente.

While the pasta is working, season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat a large nonstick skillet with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive
oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Add the
chicken to the pan and brown lightly on both sides; remove to a
platter and cover with foil to hold in heat. To the same skillet, add
2 tablespoons more extra-virgin olive oil and 1 clove garlic. Cook
garlic a minute or so, then remove and add the mushrooms. Let the
mushrooms brown evenly and become tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

While the mushrooms work, start gravy for pasta. In a deep medium
skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add a clove of
crushed garlic and cook a couple of minutes then remove. Whisk flour
and tomato paste into garlic infused butter. Cook the flour a minute
or 2 then whisk in the stock. Add rosemary and whisk in tomato paste
and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer to thicken, 5 minutes. Season the
sauce with salt and pepper, to your taste.

To the cooked mushrooms, add capers and Marsala and reduce a minute or
so. Add 2 tablespoons butter in small bits to finish sauce and shake
the pan to incorporate. Slide the chicken back into sauce and warm.

Drain pasta and toss with sauce and a handful of cheese. Serve pasta
alongside Chicken Marvalasala. Scatter arugula or spinach across both
the chicken and pasta, to garnish.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chicken, Fig, and Pancetta Bites

Cook Time: 10 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 8 party servings


* 12 fresh or dried figs, split
* 2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins or boneless, skinless chicken thighs
* A drizzle balsamic vinegar
* A drizzle extra-virgin olive oil
* Salt and pepper
* 24 slices pancetta, available at deli counter
* 1 package 3 or 4-inch wooden party picks


If using fresh figs proceed to the preheat instructions. If using
dried figs, place a small pan of water on stove and bring to a simmer.
Add figs and plump them in water for 5 minutes. Drain and cool.

Preheat griddle or grill pan over medium to high heat.

Cut chicken into large chunks: cut a tenderloin in half or cut a thigh
into 3 chunks. Drizzle chicken with balsamic and oil and toss to coat.
Wash hands and season chicken with salt and pepper.

Place a half fig on each piece of chicken and wrap with 1 slice of
pancetta. Skewer to secure and place on grill. Wash hands again. Grill
chicken bites 4 to 5 minutes on each side.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Lemon Souffle

Cook Time: 30 min
Level: Intermediate
Yield: 4 to 6 servings


3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
6 eggs, separated
2 lemons, zested and juiced
Butter or shortening, for greasing


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a 2-quart mixing bowl combine, sugar, butter, flour, salt and milk,
mixing until smooth. Add egg yolks to this and mix until smooth. Add
lemon juice and zest.

In a mixer, beat egg whites until peaks are stiff. Fold the yolk
mixture into whites gently to combine mixtures.

Using butter or vegetable shortening, grease 6-inch custard cups. Pour
the mixture into the cups. Set the cups in 1/2 inch of hot water in a
9 by 12-inch baking pan. Bake 25 minutes or until tops have risen and
turn golden brown.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chipotle Potato Salad

Cook Time: 8 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servngs


* 4 large russet potatoes, about 2 1/2 pounds, peeled and thinly sliced
* Salt
* 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons of sauce
* 3 tablespoons orange marmalade
* 3 tablespoons orange juice
* 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. eyeball it
* 1 small red onion or 1/2 large, chopped
* Handful chopped cilantro leaves, 2 tablespoons
* Couple sprigs fresh oregano, finely chopped (or a couple pinches dried)
* Salt and pepper


Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil
and season water liberally with salt and cook the potatoes until just
fork tender, 8 to 9 minutes.

Combine chipotles, sauce, marmalade, juice, vinegar in a bowl then
whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil.

Drain the potatoes well, return them to hot pot to let water
evaporate, then add immediately to dressing. The dressing will be
better absorbed by warm taters. Toss with onions and herbs and season
the salad with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm or chill. Drizzle
a little more extra-virgin olive oil over the salad if it gets dry.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling at the table
* 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 2 carrots, peeled and diced
* 2 ribs celery, chopped
* 1 fresh laurel leaf or 1 dried bay leaf - fresh bay is available
in herb section of larger markets
* Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 cans small white beans, such as Goya brand, cannellini beans
may be substituted but look for cans marked "small white beans" on
international foods aisle of market
* 6 cups chicken stock or broth
* 2 cups tomato sauce
* 3 cups stale chewy Italian bread, crust removed and bread torn
into pieces, about 1/2 a loaf
* 1 small white onion, thinly sliced or finely chopped, for garnish
* 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish


Heat a deep, heavy bottomed pot over moderate heat. Add oil, garlic,
onions, carrots, celery and bay to the pot. Season vegetables with
salt and pepper and saute until they begin to soften 5 to 7 minutes.
Add beans, stock and tomato sauce. Bring soup to a boil over medium
high heat. Remove lid and stir in torn stale bread. Stir soup and
incorporate bread as it breaks down. When soup is becomes thick and
bread is distributed evenly, adjust seasoning and serve the soup in
shallow bowls. Some ribolittas are so thick, the spoon can stand
upright. This is a subjective technique. Make yours as thick or thin,
as you like with the addition of either more bread or additional stock
or water.

Top shallow bowlfuls of soup with thinly sliced or finely chopped raw
onion, a drizzle of extra- virgin olive oil and a generous sprinkling
of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Quesadillas con Queso

Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


* 1 cup masa
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 3/4 cup warm water
* 1/4 cup Monterey Jack, grated
* 1/4 cup Cotija Blanco cheese, grated
* Chipotle Salsa, recipe follows
* Sprig cilantro


Place masa and salt in a mixing bowl. Slowly mix in water until you
reach a doughy consistency. Using 1-ounce from mixture, roll into a
ball. By hand, slap the dough and form a tortilla (about 5-inches in
diameter, 1/8-inch thick). If you have a tortilla press, place 1 ounce
masa ball and lightly press down and make a tortilla. Repeat with
remaining mixture.

Combine the cheeses and set aside.

To cook tortilla, place it on a griddle or comal that is about 250
degrees F. When tortilla is slightly brown, flip tortilla over and
cook the other side. When both sides are almost done, place cheese
mixture on 1 tortilla and cover with the other one, making a
quesadilla. Cook until the cheese melts. Cut quesadilla into quarters
and serve with chipotle salsa and a sprig of cilantro.

Charred Chipotle Salsa:

4 Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup diced onion
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle peppers
2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 cup pineapple juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 lime, juiced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place tomatoes, onions and garlic in a small roasting pan. Coat with
olive oil and roast until charred and blistered, about 25 minutes. Let
cool. Place in blender with remaining ingredients. Do not puree, but
leave a little chunky for texture.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Eggnog-Panettone Bread Pudding

Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 12 servings


* 1 loaf panettone, available in Italian specialty stores, cut in
half (enough for about 5 cups, diced)
* 3 whole eggs
* 3 egg yolks
* 3/4 cups sugar
* 2 cups half-and-half
* 1/4 cup rum
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* Vegetable cooking spray

Optional accompaniments:

* Vanilla ice cream
* Whipped cream


Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

Place a tea-kettle of water on to boil for a water bath. With a
serrated knife, remove the side crusts from the half piece of the
panettone. Cut into 3/4 to 1-inch dice. You should have 5 cups.
Reserve the cubed panettone in a large mixing bowl.

For the eggnog custard, in another bowl thoroughly whisk together the
eggs, yolks, sugar, half and half, rum, vanilla extract, and a healthy
grating of fresh nutmeg. Pour this over the bread cubes.

Spray a 12 hole muffin tin with vegetable cooking spray. Ladle the
bread/eggnog mixture gently and evenly into the muffin tins. The big
cubes sticking up look nice. Place the filled muffin tin in a tall
sided cookie sheet or roasting pan. Transfer to the preheated oven and
carefully pour the hot water from kettle onto sheet pan, creating a
water bath for the muffin tin to sit in.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes until the tops are nicely browned, and a
toothpick comes clean from the center.

Bread pudding may be served warm or cold. Vanilla Ice cream or whipped
cream would be great accompaniments.

Alternately place the muffin tin in a roasting pan on the stove. Pour
in up to 1-inch of boiling water. Cover and cook over medium-high heat
for 15 to 20 minutes. The puddings will puff and a toothpick will come
out clean from the center. The tops won't brown with this method.
Perhaps a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar at serving time would be nice.