Wednesday, March 22, 2017

MEXICAN MANICOTTI or ITALIAN ENCHILADA?



   
                           


My first thought was to try creating an Italian – Mexican fusion, combining some of popular flavors of each cuisine.  But Patience encouraged me to think carefully about what I wanted to do.  I wanted the main component to be Italian sausage, mushrooms, and onions sautéed together with garlic and basil, classic Italian spices and herbs.  This would be wrapped in a flour enchilada and baked in the oven with an enchilada sauce.  However after the sausage-mushroom enchiladas were prepared I decided to  replace the enchilada sauce with diced tomatoes with garlic and basil, creating my own version of a Mexican Manicotti, or an Italian Enchilada.

Whatever the name, it was delicious.

INGREDIENTS”

1.     Italian sweet sausage, casings removed
2.     White mushrooms, sliced
3.     Onion, chopped
4.     Olive oil
5.     Garlic and fresh basil
6.     Sweet Vermouth or dry red wine
7.     Diced tomatoes
8.     Flour tortilla
9.     Grana Padana cheese

PROCESS:

In olive oil over medium high heat cook the sausage, mushrooms, and onions, with the herbs and garlic, stirring frequently until the mushrooms begin to brown.  Add the wine and continue cooking until the wine is cooked off.

Mix the diced tomatoes with salt, pepper, basil, and olive oil.  Add ½ of the tomatoes to a 9x11 baking dish.  Fold the sausage mixture in the tortillas and place in the baking dish.  Cover with the remaining tomatoes and a generous sprinkling of cheese and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes.

COMMENTS:

Patience loved this, and that is all that matters.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Last Minute Pasta for One

Fusilli longhi with assorted tomato sauce


Patience is out, and I was faced with a choice: a Tuna salad sandwich, or pasta for one with a hodgepodge sauce.  After a careful 3 seconds of consideration I chose the pasta.  For today's lunch I made  bruschetta with some Del Monte diced tomatoes and thought what remained could be the basis of good and quick ssuce.  I checked the pantry for some left over uncooked pasta that always seemed to accumulate, and found the perfect amount of long fussilli, a little less than 1/4 lb..

INGREDIENTS:
1. Diced tomatoes
2. Pasta
3. Olive oil
4. garlic, chopped onion and celery
5. Basil, Oregano
6. Kalamata olives  chopped
7. Red pepper flakes
8. Sweet Vermouth or dry white wine
9. Padana Grana cheese for grating

PROCESS:
Prepare the Sophritto in olive oil - onion, celery, and garlic, then add the tomatoes and cook over low heat.  Add the tomatoes, herbs, seasoning, and cook while waiting for the pasta to cook.  About 5-10 minutes later add the olives and the wine.  Toss well with the pasta and serve with Gran Padana and red wine of choice.

Note - the timing of adding the various ingredients to the sauce is purely arbitrary and when I'm cooking it varies every time, as does the amount.



Friday, February 17, 2017

Pasta with Asparagus-Ricotta cheese sauce

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2-16-17   Pasta with Asparagus-Ricotta cheese sauce



The red color of the pasta is the result of cooking it in the same water I used to cook beets just moments earlier.

INGREDIENTS:

1.     Shaped pasta
2.     Asparagus cut into 1” pieces
3.     Olive oil
4.     Shallots and garlic
5.     Chicken broth – about 1/3 cup
6.     Ricotta Cheese – about ½ cup
7.     Fresh lemon juice
8.     Fresh Cilantro chopped

PROCESS:

Cook the shallots in olive oil until soft, and then add the asparagus and garlic followed by the broth.  After several minutes add the Ricotta cheese and mix thoroughly into the other ingredients.  Add the cilantro and some lemon juice and reduce to low heat.  When the pasta is ready, add it to the pan with the sauce, mix well and serve with a cilantro garnish.

COMMENTS:

The combo of cilantro, ricotta, and lemon makes this a winner.  I don’t know how much the “beet water” contributed.  Next time I’ll make it cooking the pasta in plain water to see if there is a difference.

Friday, December 9, 2016

12-8-16 Gnocchi w mushrooms, asparagus, & sundried tomatoes in cream sauce


Dinner tonight would be Risotto with mushrooms and asparagus.  With a glass of chilled, crisp Pinot Grigio at my side, and music from my iphone filling the kitchen, I began working.  I began by preparing and cooking the vegetables before turning my attention to the rice.  Once they were “settled down” in the skillet and quietly cooking I looked in the pantry, and to my dismay there was no risotto.  There was Jasmine rice, wild rice, brown rice, couscous, barley, and some mystery stuff, but no Risotto.  Now at this point, a lesser man than me would have panicked, but the tiger in me took over, after several minutes of wailing and cursing I calmed down and went to plan B.  The vegetables would be transformed into a red creamy sauce, and gnocchi would replace the Risotto.

      
        

INGREDIENTS:

1.     Gnocchi
2.     Mushrooms- sliced
3.     Asparagus
4.     Leeks – thinly sliced crosswise
5.     Olive oil
6.     Garlic
7.     Oregano
8.     Basil
9.     Sweet Vermouth
10. Sundried Tomatoes – chopped
11. Tomato paste – about 1 tablespoon
12. Heavy Whipping cream – about ½ cup
13. Parmigiano cheese for grating

PROCESS:

Cook the leeks in the olive oil until soft, then add the mushrooms, tomatoes, and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring frequently.  After several minutes add the  Asparagus, spices, tomato paste, and wine.  Continue on high heat, until the mushrooms begin to brown, then reduce to low heat.  Add the cream to the sauce about 5 minutes before adding the gnocchi to the boiling water.

COMMENTS:

Sometimes I think one could serve cardboard with heavy whipping cream and it would be delicious.  In this case the gnocchi did just as well.  It is one of those meal I want to share with others.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

11-29-16 Penne with Zucchini, leeks, and sundried tomatoes




After 4 days of turkey and stuffing, as good as it was I needed some pasta.  But saying I want pasta is like saying I want beef, or vegetables.  There are so many ways they can be prepared.  My first thought was to use some of the porch tomatoes for a sauce, but Patience requested I use them in a salad, which I was happy to do.  There was nothing in the kitchen that inspired me, and since I was planning on a trip to Midtown Market for some Provolone and Mortadella I thought I’d see what I could find there.  And BINGO, as soon as I saw the Leeks in the produce section I knew what I would do, and I did it.

INGREDIENTS:

1.     Penne pasta
2.     Zucchini sliced crosswise
3.     Leeks sliced crosswise
4.     Sun dried tomatoes in olive oil coarsely chopped
5.     Olive oil
6.     Garlic 11or 2 cloves crushed
7.     Fresh Dill
8.     Celery
9.     Chicken broth
10. Sweet Vermouth
11. Parmigiano cheese

PROCESS:

Cook the Leeks and celery in olive oil over medium heat until soft.  Add the zucchini and garlic and cook over high heat until the zucchini is browned on both sides, stirring frequently to prevent burning.  About half way through this I added about ¼ cup of chicken broth and ¼ cup of Sweet Vermouth.  Continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add some finely chopped fresh dill.  When the pasta is ready add it to the pan with the “sauce”.  Add some pasta water if it is too dry.

COMMENTS:

What a sweet dish, literally.  The sundried tomatoes and the sweet vermouth gave it a distinct, and savory flavor.  It was fun to cook, and more fun to eat.

And the tomato salad?

 





Sunday, November 20, 2016

11-19-16 Front Porch tomatoes and Angel Hair Pasta




The promise of an overnight freeze led Patience and me to pick every ripe and almost ripe tomato from our porch garden, along with all the basil, dill, and parsley.  Looking at a large bowl overflowing with cherry and grape tomatoes it was clear to   me what had to be done.  And it was surprisingly simple.

                    

INGREDIENTS”

1.     Cherry tomatoes – whole
2.     Olive oil
3.     Garlic – 1 clove crushed or minced
4.     Onion – ½ medium onion chopped
5.     Celery  - about ½ stalk chopped
6.     Fresh Basil
7.     Heavy whipping cream – not much, about ¼ cup or less
8.     Angel Hair pasta

PROCESS:

Cook the onion in olive oil for 1-2 minutes then add the garlic and celery and cook for several more minutes until soft.  Add the tomatoes and basil and cook over medium high heat until they begin to break down – about 8-10 minutes.  A few minutes before the pasta is ready reduce the heat and add the cream.  When the pasta is ready drain and add to the pan, mix well and serve with grated cheese and garnish with fresh dill.    Add some pasta water if needed.

COMMENT:

In spite of my abundance of humility I have to say this was delicious and I look forward to serving it again.  Of course Patience agrees with me.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

REVISIONED PAINTING

Dark Sky   Acrylic   24x24

Dark Sky was completed in 2011, and I have been looking at it every day in its place on the wall of my studio.  Several days ago I decided it was time for a little revision.  

Dark Sky revised