Friday, September 9, 2011

Drew’s Goat Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Serves 4
Our friend Drew made these when we visited her and her husband in southern Oregon. We liked them much better than the fried versions we had in Italy.

  • 16 2.5” – 4” zucchini flowers
  • 4 ounces of goat cheese; we had regular Cyprus Grove, but I would like to try it with their “purple haze” which has some very floral herbs in it
  •  4 cloves garlic sliced into about 2 mm slices
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves removed and roughly chopped
  • 2-3 T EVOO
  • Cracked pepper and kosher salt to taste
Saute the garlic in the olive oil until it is browned. The garlic is actually more of a condiment than something integrated into the dish, this brings the sugars forward, and it is actually sort of chewy as a result, almost like a garlic candy. If you were making this for a pasta, you would think that you’d burnt the garlic—that’s exactly what you’re going for here, an almost burnt preparation.

While the garlic is sautéing, add stuff the zucchini flowers with the goat cheese.

Once the garlic has reached the desired doneness, remove the garlic from the garlic from the olive oil with a slotted spoon or other straining device.

Return the EVOO to a high heat, and sauté the zucchini flowers briefly, just enough to get the goat cheese kind of melting.

Remove and plate the zucchini flowers. Divide the garlic among the four portions. Sprinkle the thyme leaves and a small amount of salt and pepper over the top.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Goat cheese-stuffed tomato with pistachios and balsamic vinegar

This is borrowed from Crispi 19, a fish restaurant we went to in Rome. It was a very nice, fresh summer appetizer.
Serves 4
  • 4 vine-riped tomatoes, with tops removed, and seeds scooped out.
  • 10 ounces soft goat cheese, I used 5 ounces of plain goat cheese, and 5 ounces of "Purple Haze" a goat cheese with herbs, lots of fennel
  • 1-2 ounces pistachios, optional
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • a few tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
  • frisee, arugula or basil to garnish
Places the pistachios in a food processor (small bowl), and process till desired granularity. Remove pistachios and mix goat cheeses in the food processor, this will have the effect of whipping it and lightening its density. If you are using pistachios, add them back in, but process just to mix.

We had very chalky goat chesse with ours, and it was nice, the chalkiness was a good counterpoint to the tomato. When I do this, I will probably did this, I placed each tomato on a salad of greens with balsamic dressing. I also served it with gazpacho.

Gnocchi with Buffalo Mozzeralla, Pesto and Arrabbiata Sauce

Inspired by a lunch dish we had in Rome at Ciampini at the top of the Spanish steps. You must do both sauces, as the arrabbiata is not sufficient.
  • 1 recipe arrabbiata sauce, similar to this
  • 1 recipe gnocchi
  • 1/2 recipe pesto (really, you should make the full recipe, and just save the rest for use in another dish)
  •  2 four-ounce buffalo mozzeralla balls, cut into a 1/2" dice
Separate the gnocchi into four bowls. Divide up the mozzerella cubes between the four bowls, and intersperse with the gnocchi. Divide up the arrabbiata sauce between the four bowls, and gently stir to mix into the gnocchi--gently, because the gnocchi is very prone to breaking, and if you don't do it gently, you'll have mashed potato soup. Spoon 1/2 to 1 tsp-sized dollops of pesto onto each of the four bowls, around 10 dollops per bowl should be sufficient.

This was a huge hit at our house. It is very rich without actually being very high fat or caloric. It's a tad on the labor-intensive side, given the gnocchi and the two sacues, but if you make the pesto the day before, and use half of it for something else, it will feel less-so.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Whipped Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Spread

Makes 12 ounces, enough to serve around 12 generously for appetizers

Source: This is my take on one of my favorite pre-appetizers at Oleana, whipped feta and red peppers. Theirs is definitely better, and of a lighter texture, but this is nice since it's so easy to make at home!

  • 2 roasted red peppers
  • 8 ounces very good, non-barrel-aged Feta (I recommend "Mt. Vikos" feta, as usual)

If you have a very good blender, you may be able to do this in a blender. If your blender lets you down frequently as mine does when making thick pastes, you'll need to start this in a food processor then move the mixture to a blender to make it smoother.

Puree the peppers in a food processor or very powerful blender. Crumble the feta and add it to the red peppers. Add a small amount of feta at first to avoid "splashing," then add the rest. Puree till smooth. To get an even smoother texture, move the mixture to a blender. Don't over-blend, or you will end up with more of a paste than something whipped. It's still good, but it is better if you can maintain a little of the texture, as it helps maintain the lighter, more whipped texture.

Serve with bread; foccaccia is great with it.

I am going to try using the leftovers on some sandwiches; if anything works out, I'll post a recipe of that.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Shrimp, Feta, Tomato and Basil Pasta

This dish is a summer-time favorite for our family, first introduced to us by Lynn Stith with Cappellini. Lys recommended trying it with farfalle, and now we think it's just about perfect. The pasta is served chilled, or luke-warm at best.

Serves 4

  • 4 ripe tomatoes (normal, "on the vine" size), cut into a 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 pound 21-25 shrimp, boiled in salted water for 1-2 minutes, or until pink through. Strain and run cool water over them to stop cooking and reduce temperation. Peel and cut into thirds.
  • .4 to .5 pounds fresh feta (Mount Vikos, available at Whole Foods is my favorite to use. The quality of the feta drives the quality of this dish overall--so don't skimp).
  • 2 leafy stalks of basil, or a large package if you get it from the store, roughly chopped, such that the pieces are around 1 cm square in surface area
  • 1 pound farfalle (bow-tie pasta) cooked until al dente in salted water. Strain the pasta, and continue to run cold water over it to lower the temperature to around room temp
  • Cayenne pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Liberally add cayenne pepper along the top, mix it in, taste. Continue to add more cayenne pepper till you taste it, and the pasta has a little latent heat, but is not over-poweringly spicy on first trying it.

Burrata, Fig, Jamon Iberico, and Pistachio Salad

I got the idea for this from a burrata and ham appetizer we had while in Rome. True, it is served with a Spanish ham, but believe it or not, that's what they did in Italy. And it was so much better than if it had been made with prosciutto, that I see no need to change; why be more Roman than the Romans?
Serves 4 for a dinner portion, and 8 for an appetizer portion
  • 2 burrata balls (I'm guessing they're usually around 6 ounces)
  • .25 pounds Jamon Iberico (you can use Serrano, which is the cheaper version, but the jamon iberico is the best. In Boston you can get it at Las Ventas on Harrison)
  • 8 ripe, fresh figs, cut into eighths
  • A few handfuls of pistachios
  • 14 ounces of arugula (washed and dried)
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing
  • Balsamic vinaigrette
    • 1 part balsamic vinegar
    • 2-3 parts very good olive oil
    • Liberal pinch kosher salt
    • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
      gradually whisk in olive oil with other ingredients until emulsified
Toss the arugula with the balsamic vinaigrette. Place the dressed salad into bowls. Layer 4 slices of jamon iberico in the shape of an "x" on the salad. Cut each ball of burrata in half, and place one half in the center of each jamon x. Arrange the eighths of pistachio radially around the burrata. Springkle lightly with pistachios.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lentil and Feta Salad

Serves 4

1 cup lentils
2 cups water
Juice of 2 lemons
1-2 T minced dill
2 cloves garlic minced
4 ounces feta
1-2 tsp minced chervil leaves (optional)
salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Bring lentils and water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let simmer until tender, around 30 minutes.

Cool lentils, then mix in the remainder of the ingredients, and season with cayenne and salt.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Caitlin's Brussel Sprouts

Caitlin's Brussel Sprouts: From Caitlin Greene
Serves 8
- 20 Large Brussels sprouts
- 1 large red onion
- 1 bushel of dill
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 8 oz butter
- Juice of 2 large lemons
- 4 oz parmiggiano reggiano cheese, grated

1. Shave brussels with a mandolin or in a food processor using the slicer attachment
2. Chop dill
3. Slice fennel very thin using the mandolin or the slicer attachment
4. Cut red onion in half moon shapes and slice it as well
5. Warm butter over medium-high heat. Whisk continuously until butter turns a light brown color and smells mildly of nuts
6. Add lemon juice to brown butter and whisk
7. Place all vegetables in large bowl and grate parmigiano over them. Sprinkle with salt and grind black pepper.
8. Drizzle brown butter and lemon juice and toss salad with dill.
9. Salt more if necessary

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Seared scallop and arugula salad with pickled cranberry dressing and chocolate pearls

Serves 2

6-10 fresh sea scallops (you can use frozen, but you won't be able to get them to caramelize)
1/4 red onion, sliced into a very thin slice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
 1/4  cup vinegar, half balsamic, half red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons EVOO
2 Tablespoons Valrhona chocolate pearls (or chop up other good chocolate into small sizes, chocolate nibs also work)
1 five-ounce package arugula

In a non-stick pan, add some oil (sesame preferred) and sear scallops on high heat turning once you have achieved caremelization on one side. Sear till caramelized on the other side. In the mean time, bring the onions, the cranberries and the mixed vinegars to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to simmer until the onions are very soft, and the cranberries plump with vinegar. Use the other balsamic vinegar and oil and whisk together a vinaigrette.

Toss the arugula with the vinaigrette. Spoon "pickled" onions and cranberries over the salad, arrange the scallops on top, and sprinkle over the chocolate pearls.

Spicy shrimp, mango and avocado spoons

Don't know exact quantities, will update when next do the recipe. But it's more or less

1 pound of shrimp, poached and sliced into 2 mm, horizontal slices
1/2 mango, diced into a 1/4" dice
1 avocado, diced into a 1/4" dice (may be more)
2-3 ounces Sweet Red Chili sauce (Thai Kitchen and other brands make this)
Minced cilantro to taste

Mix together, season with salt to taste. Serve on spoons.

Gnocchi with English Peas, and a Lemon Tarragon cream sauce

Serves 4

1 Recipe basic gnocchi
2 Tablespoon butter 
1 pound English peas (weight is with shells on) shell peas
2 shallots, minced
1 package (.75 ounces) tarragon, minced
3/4 cup cream
zest of 1 lemon, minced

Saute shallots in butter until softened and becoming translucent--avoid browning. Add cream and lemon zest. Cook several minutes (3-5) until the butter and cream are emulsified together. Add peas and continue cooking until the peas are approaching desired doneness. Add tarragon at this point, and continue cooking until peas are finished (they should still be firm, but not crunchy, and with a nutty flavor, not a vegetal flavor). Season with salt and pepper.

If you would like a lighter sauce, incorporate some chicken stock or white wine, and reduce slightly. If you would like a more lemony sauce, add some lemon juice at the end.

The addition of sauteed morels would be fantastic here