Oct 082013
 
Roasted Goat Cheese with Honey and Basil
 
Author:

Recipe type: Appetizer

 
This is a great appetizer recipe for any occasion; even if it’s just you, a loved-one and a bottle of wine. Throw in a little Miles Davis and I am there! These small rounds of cheese are oven-roasted, glazed with honey; and then scented with sweet basil. Of course, a little white pepper to punch it up a bit. Finally, the balsamic vinegar adds a little acidity to round out this dish, which of course, offers a variety of pairings with wine—my choice here (with the balsamic vinegar) is Pinot Grigio; without the balsamic, I would go with a Chardonnay (my preference would be Pahlmeyer 2005, if you can find it. If not a 2009 will do nicely).
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces of quality goat cheese (freeze for 20 minutes prior to use), if you can get past the molded rind I recommend the Bonde de Gatine cheese
  • ⅓ cup of pure honey
  • 2 tbsp of chopped, fresh Basil
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground white pepper—this is a non-inflammatory option for pepper

Instructions
  1. In a small bowl combine your chopped basil, honey and white pepper. If you are using balsamic vinegar add 2, tsp and whisk to blend. Allow to marry (a formal union; and sometimes informal) for at least 1 hour prior to use.
  2. Slice the very cold cheese in to 8 rounds–wet your knife with water or lightly spray with pam before each slice
  3. Arrange them on a lightly Pammed (the non-stick spray, not the person) baking sheet.
  4. Roast under a preheated broiler until lightly browned.
  5. Plate your rounds on appetizer-sized plates
  6. Whisk your honey mixture briskly to combine ingredients and drizzle a tsp over each cheese round
  7. Serve at once and enjoy!
  8. Finally, prepare yourself for praises

 

Jun 062013
 
Mom’s Ranch Dressing
 
Author:

Recipe type: Dressing

 
OK this one is super special! My Mom’s ranch dressing is the best that was ever made; and I am not at all biased…
Ingredients
  • 1 cup “real” Hellman’s mayonnaise, plus ½ cup buttermilk
  • ⅔ cup of sour cream
  • 4 tbsp of Italian parsley – minced
  • 2 tbsp dill “fresh” – minced
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 clove of garlic – minced and mashed
  • ½ tsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp fresh minced scallions
  • 1 tsp stone ground mustard
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 dashes or Worcestershire

Instructions
  1. Whip together onion powder, mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream scallions, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire, pepper, dill & parsley
  2. Mince garlic, combine with salt & mash into paste
  3. Add garlic paste to mayonnaise blend & whish thoroughly
  4. Add buttermilk slowly while whisking
  5. Refrigerate for up to 1 week – my mom would still serve up to 2 weeks and it worked!

 

Jun 062013
 
Pizza a la Jim
 
Author:

Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian

 
There is nothing more gratifying than taking a recipe from thought to fruition; and then sharing the final outcome with people you love. Better yet, love to be around.
Ingredients
  • 1 package of dry active yeast
  • 1 teaspoon raw sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.)
  • 3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Classic olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • My toppings today are: Italian sweet sausage—casings removed, cooked and drained, fresh basil (julienned—cut into thin strips), fresh tomatoes, scallions, garlic & mushrooms; and hand-grated provolone & ricotta cheese,.

Instructions
  1. Lightly-Sauté your garlic, scallions and mushrooms with a little salt at the very end of the cooking process. Never salt mushrooms until they give off their moisture.
  2. Method for making the dough:
  3. • In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in ¼ cup of the warm water—allow this mixture to sit for about 5 minutes to proof. If the mixture does not become bubbly then you have tired yeast and need to start over.
  4. • In a large bowl combine the flour and the salt.
  5. • Add the remaining water, oil and yeast mixture then using a wooden spoon mix by hand until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl—about 10 minutes.
  6. Note: The pizza dough can also be made with a Stand Mixer using the dough-hook attachment. Dissolve the yeast as above. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of your stand-mixer. Mix for a few minutes then add the remaining ingredients (including yeast) and on low-speed allow the dough to mix until it comes away from the sides and gathers around the dough-hook. Continue as below.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand 2 or 3 minutes longer.
  8. At this point your dough should be smooth and firm.
  9. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel (not terry-cloth).
  10. Place in the warmest area of your kitchen (I use the top of my fridge) and let it rise for 30 minutes.
  11. By now the dough will have softened and be very giving to your touch.
  12. Divide the dough into 2 balls, about 12 ounces each.
  13. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat this process 5 to 6 times.
  14. Place dough on a smooth clean surface (I use a marble cutting board) and roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm; keep the shape of the ball, though. This should take no longer that 1 minute.
  15. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for 20 minutes longer.
  16. Dip each ball of dough into flour, shake off the excess flour.
  17. Place the dough on a clean, lightly-floured surface, and begin to stretch the dough from the center outward; while rotating the dough in a clock-wise fashion. Continue this process until the dough balls are roughly 12 inch pies. The outer edge should be a little thicker to contain your toppings.
  18. Your dough is now ready!
  19. Method for cooking the dough:
  20. Take a large pizza stone (30 inches) and place it on the middle oven-rack; then preheat the oven to 500º F.
  21. Brush the entire surface of the dough with Classic Olive Oil (never use virgin or extra-virgin olive oil for high-temp cooking—Sorry Rachael) then arrange the toppings in the following order: ricotta (toss it on, it’s fun! Or you can spoon it on), sautéed mushrooms/garlic/scallions, fresh tomato, julienned basil leaves, sausage and top with provolone –not too much as you already have ricotta.
  22. Using a lightly floured rimless flat baking tray or a floured baker’s peel (if you are going to be doing pizzas on a regular basis I recommend this), slide the pizza onto the baking stone and bake until the pizza crust is golden brown and your cheeses are bubbly, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  23. Transfer the pizza to a firm surface and cut into slices with a pizza cutter or sharp knife—preferably an arched edge, so you can rock the knife to cut. Rock like “rocking a baby” not rock and roll; although that would be cool too.
  24. Serve immediately and finish the dish with a nice salad—I added my mom’s homemade ranch dressing for the salad; so this one is special!

 

Nov 142012
 

 

 

Spaghetti and Meatballs
 
Author:

Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian

 
Ingredients
Ingredients for Meatballs
  • 3 cups of day-old Italian sandwich bread, crust removed and cut into cubes
  • Filtered water to soak bread in (I used whole milk instead)
  • 1¼ pounds ground (I used ground round) beef
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup hand-grated quality parmesan cheese
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield ¼ cup—packed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil (do not use virgin or extra-virgin olive oil for sautéing or frying)
Ingredients for Sauce:
  • 1 lb of spaghetti (I used linguine), cooked al dente in salted water—do not add oil to the water (your sauce will slide off of your pasta); instead continuously stir your pasta for the first 2 minutes and then every minute or so thereafter, this will prevent your pasta from sticking.
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper diced
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot peeled and finely grated
  • ¼ cup packed chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • Salt
  • Whole basil leaves, for garnish
  • ⅓ cup of finely hand-grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup olive oil (not virgin or extra-virgin)

Instructions
Method for meatballs:
  1. Prep a cookie sheet with tinfoil to place the meatballs on. This is for transportation not cooking.
  2. In a shallow bowl, soak the bread cubes in enough water (or milk) to cover.
  3. Remove the bread cubes and squeeze by hand to remove excess moisture—don’t mash them though.
  4. In a small bowl whisk the eggs until smooth.
  5. Add your salt, pepper and garlic to the eggs; then, allow to sit for 5 minutes to infuse—whisking occasionally.
  6. In a large bowl, form the beef to the shape of the bowl.
  7. Add the bread, cheese, parsley and egg mixture; then, mix by hand to “work” the bread into meat.
  8. Moisten your hands with a little water and shape the mixture into 14 to 16 meatballs. You are looking for a meatball that is a little larger than a golf ball; but, according to Rina her father liked them the size of a tennis ball—I think that’s a little too big.
  9. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil over low-medium heat for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  10. Turn up the heat to medium and start adding the meatballs, working in batches so they have room to cook.
  11. Cook until they are lightly golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes per batch.
  12. Serve warm or at room temperature
  13. Note: Italians generally don’t serve their meatballs with sauce or pasta; at least not in the same dish. However, I asked Rena to give me a recipe for sauce so I could have it with the pasta and the meatballs…I know it’s not traditional; but, I’m Irish. So here we go…
Method for sauce:
  1. In a 3-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt—cook until soft and lightly golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes—do not burn the garlic, very bitter.
  3. Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 to 7 minutes more, until the carrot is very tender.
  4. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often.
  5. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes the sauce should be fairly thick at this point.
  6. Adjust seasonings (salt).
  7. Place pasta in bowls (pasta should always be served straight from the pot of salted water and drained only slightly; so, there is a little timing to this dish. Sauce can always sit a bit—just cover it; but, pasta should never wait).
  8. Place a few meatballs over the pasta and ladle the sauce over the top.
  9. Enjoy!

Sep 262012
 

 

Pasta Beurre
 
Author:

Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4

 
This is simplicity at its finest! Pasta Beurre literally translates to pasta with butter. It is a northern Italian dish; but, because of northern Italy’s proximity to France, there is some influence in the dish. However, I would never tell my northern Italian friend that… Many of you have had this dish, but under a different name—Pasta Alfredo. Unfortunately what you know as pasta Alfredo has been altered to the point that it is no longer the traditional delicacy that I will share with you today.
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces dry Linguini pasta
  • 1 cup butter
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup finely grated (by hand please) Parmesan cheese—to be served at the table

Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (6 quarts of water and 1 ½ tbsp of sea salt). (Do not add oil to water, ever! Your sauce will not adhere to the pasta if you do). To prevent pasta from sticking, continuously stir pasta for the first two minutes, then every few minutes thereafter.
  2. Add linguini (whole, do not break in half—it’s sacrilegious) and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain—do not rinse your pasta.
  3. While pasta is cooking, in a saucepan, melt butter into cream over low heat. Add a pinch of salt and blend until married (your sauce, not you). Remove from heat as soon as the butter has melted; otherwise, your milk solids will separate out.
  4. Once pasta is drained in a colander, return the pasta to its original pot Pour melted butter and cream over the pasta and toss well
  5. Plate your pasta in bowls and serve immediately and pass the grated Parmesan cheese at the table.
  6. Guide your guests to put a healthy portion of cheese on their pasta.

Sep 262012
 

 

Cornish Hens Mediterranean
 
Author:

Cuisine: Entree
Serves: 4

 
This dish is a fusion of flavors from Northern Italy and Greece. Very simple and very yummy! Note: I typically pair this dish with sticky rice; however, Yukon Gold baby potatoes work nicely too.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Cornish hens, 1-1/2 pounds each, cut into 8 pieces (4 breasts with the wing and 4 legs)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 5 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 leeks, sliced thin (about 1-1/2 cups)—soak leaks in water for about 10 minutes to properly clean, rinse and dry before cooking
  • 2 cups diced plum tomatoes–peeled
  • 16 green olives stuffed with pimientos
  • 12 Kalamata olives–pitted
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup dry white wine, California Chardonnay works great—reserve ½ cup of wine and keep cold
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Piquillo paste or 4 dashes of Tabasco
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet large enough to hold the pieces of Cornish hens in one layer. Do not put hens in yet.
  2. Sprinkle the pieces with salt and pepper to taste. Remember the olives are going to bring their own salt to the dish; so, go easy on the salt.
  3. When the oil starts to become hot, add the hen pieces, skin side down.
  4. Cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook 5 minutes more.
  5. Remove and set aside.
  6. To the same pan, reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic with a pinch of salt, and sauté, until just starting to brown, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add the onions and leeks and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Add the tomatoes, green olives, thyme, wine (not the reserved though), chicken broth, bay leaf, saffron, Piquillo paste, another pinch of salt; and, pepper to taste.
  9. Stir and scrape the bottom of the skillet to dissolve any brown particles on it.
  10. Return hen pieces and Cover tightly and simmer on low for 15 minutes.
  11. While the dish is simmering, pour the reserved ½ cup of chardonnay into a wine glass and sip slowly…
  12. Remove the thyme and rosemary sprigs, if used, and the bay leaf.
  13. Remove lid and simmer for 5 more minutes to reduce the sauce and finish the cooking process.
  14. At this point the flavors of the dish have married and you want to taste the broth and adjust your seasonings; specifically, the salt.
  15. Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve.

Sep 262012
 

 

Lumpia (Filipino Spring roll)
 
Author:

Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Filipino
Serves: 4

 
One of my faves! It is a bit more complicated because of the wrapping process, but totally worth it!!! There is an option here to add more veggies, which will make it more traditional, however, I prefer this heartier rendition.
Ingredients
  • ¾ pound ground pork
  • ¾ pound of ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and then minced
  • 1½ cups chopped scallions
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 30 Lumpia wrappers (AKA spring roll wrappers)–use dry wrappers if available and follow direction; or, see note at bottom
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • Optional veggies to add:
  • ½ cup minced carrots
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • ½ cup thinly sliced green cabbage
  • Dipping Sauce:
  • 1 cup of white vinegar (for a little softer flavor you can use rice vinegar)
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions
  1. Blend raw pork, beef, scallions and soy sauce together in a large bowl–kind of like a meatloaf. Place a wok or large skillet over high heat, and pour in 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. Cook pork and ground beef stirring frequently, until done– no pink. Remove cooked beef and pork and set aside.
  3. Drain grease from pan, leaving a thin coating. Cook garlic until just starting to brown (do not burn), then add optional veggies if using, in the same pan 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cooked pork and beef blend Season with pepper. Remove from heat, and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  5. Place one to two heaping tablespoons of the filling diagonally near one corner of each wrapper, leaving a 1½ inch space at both ends. Fold the side along the length of the filling over the filling, tuck in both ends, and roll neatly. Keep the roll tight as you assemble. Moisten the other side of the wrapper with water to seal the edge.
  6. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap to retain moisture.
  7. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat, add oil to ½ inch depth, and heat for 5 minutes. Slide 3 or 4 lumpia into the oil one at a time using metal tongs (unless you are using a non-stick skillet.) Fry the rolls for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until all sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately WITH THE DIPPING SAUCE. Some people prefer sweet chilly sauce instead of the vinegar. You can also serve as you go, since you are working in batches. That way you guarantee the spring rolls are light, crispy and hot–not too hot though.
  8. NOTE FOR FROZEN WRAPPERS:
  9. Once I found dry spring roll wrappers, I have been using them ever since; in fact if I can’t get them, I wait until I can. However, this dish is worth the trouble if you can only find the frozen ones at your local Asian market.
  10. Frozen wrappers directions:
  11. Now, here comes the fun part. Separate the Lumpia wrappers. In all my years of making Lumpia I have not found any easy way to separate these darn things but I will tell you what works for me. The wrappers need to be defrosted for 24 hours, if they are frozen. You’ll also want to have a plate to set them on as well as a damp kitchen towel (damp paper towels will work too) to cover them, we don’t want our wrappers to dry out!
  12. Open the package and take out the stack of Lumpia wrappers, start at the edges and gently start peeling the edge upward, and slowly loosen the individual sheet off of the stack.
  13. Now, place the loose sheet on your plate under the damp towel or cloth. And basically repeat until the stack or package is done. Sounds easy right? It’s not! It will take you a few times of separating before you get the hang of it, probably midway between the stack. Still worth it!

Sep 262012
 

  

Pasta Carbonara
 
Author:

Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4

 
Ingredients
  • ⅔ pound linguini-2/3 box; although, fresh pasta is better (cook accordingly)
  • 1 gallon salted water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, diced
  • 1 teaspoon diced garlic
  • ⅓ cup white wine (Pinot Grigio or white Italian table wine)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅔ cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 3 egg yolks

Instructions
  1. Start salted water in a large pasta pot over medium-high heat-do not burn the water
  2. Add the oil and pancetta to a large sauté pan over low heat. Cook the pancetta (or, bacon) until crisp, being careful not to burn it, about 5 minutes-set aside.
  3. In a separate sauté pan use two tablespoons of pan drippings and sauté the garlic for one to two minutes (lightly brown-do not burn the garlic).
  4. Add the wine, cream and black pepper. Cook until the sauce coats the back of a spoon allow to cool for 10 minutes stirring occasionally
  5. Drop the linguini into salted water (2 teaspoon for 1 gallon of water)-do not add oil to water-and cook until very al dente (about 7 minutes with dry pasta)
  6. Special tip: keep stirring pasta for the first two to three minutes to prevent pasta from sticking together-never use oil for this purpose.
  7. Special tip: if you use oil to keep pasta from sticking you also prevent the sauce from marrying with the pasta-it just slides right off-where’s the flavor?
  8. Add pasta straight from the boiling salted water drain slightly-do not rinse-and toss with pancetta for 1 minute over low heat
  9. While pasta and pancetta are finishing, combine cream mixture, and egg yolks together in a small bowl
  10. Pour egg and cream over pasta and half of the Pecorino Romano cheese, remove from heat and toss well-be careful not to break the pasta
  11. Immediately transfer to serving dish, top with remaining cheese and enjoy
  12. As you cook this dish, for years to come, you will figure out that you can use one sauté pan for easier clean up. To keep it simple, however, I did recommend two.
  13. Note: you cannot burn water

Sep 262012
 

 

Jim’s Fricassée of Chicken
 
Author:

Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4

 
Serving Suggestion: Serve the chicken very hot with small new potatoes
Ingredients
  • chicken, cut into 6-8 pieces (Bone-in, skinless)
  • 21 pearl onions, peeled
  • 21 small white mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine (Anjou wine is recommended) YES THE WHOLE BOTTLE
  • ¾ cup of heavy cream
  • Flour for dredging
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Salt & pepper chicken pieces and allow to sit for 5 minutes; then, dredge pieces lightly in flour.
  2. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan. Season the chicken pieces with salt & pepper and cook in the pan until golden.
  3. Add the mushrooms and onions. Add enough wine to cover the chicken. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 30-35 minutes.
  4. Add the cream, adjust the seasoning and serve.

Sep 262012
 

 

 

Peach Ricotta Pancakes
 
Author:

Serves: 4
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:

 
Ingredients
  • 7 ½ oz. Ricotta Cheese
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 3 capfuls vanilla
  • stick melted butter
  • 2 cups self-rising flour (Bisquick works well)
  • 29 oz. can peaches

Instructions
  1. Blend the first four ingredients well. In the same bowl, mix 3 large eggs cracked separately to ensure no eggshells in batter
  2. In the same bowl, mix 2 cups self rising flour (Bisquick works well)
  3. Blend this batch of ingredients very well
  4. In the same bowl as above, add one, 29 oz. can peaches drained & diced, fold into above ingredients
  5. Lightly brown both sides of pancakes on griddle; these cook quickly so don’t leave unattended. Flip quickly; flipping slowly may cause a major mess.
  6. Place pancakes in oven at 300 degrees. Cook on one side for 10 minutes and flip over and cook other side for another 10 minutes. This additional cooking sets the center of the pancake before serving.