Sunday, January 27, 2013
This dish is like no other pasta dish you've ever tried before. I search for the right words to describe it, the combination of ingredients seems so odd, and yet they work so well together. Sage, butter, garlic, cabbage, potatoes, cheese, and buckwheat. It is earthy, and heavy. Salty, and herby, with the nutty flavor of browned butter and high quality cheeses. You can thank the Italians and the Swiss for this novel combination. Perhaps it isn't so novel to combine such things for them, but for Americans, it's new. New is good!
They eat pizzoccheri in the Alps. After you make it and try it, you can understand why. Food from this area is hearty. It's meant to keep you warm and full. It's not for dieters, or snackers. This food is the pile-it-up-and-lick-your-plate-then-go-back-for-more-before-you-head-back-into-the-blizzard kind of food.
It is possible to find pre-made pizzoccheri noodles in the US. Those of us not living in a major metropolitan area, will have to make them. (I could not find a US source for buying them online.) I read online somewhere that pizzoccheri noodles should be 80% buckwheat and 20% wheat flour, and my recipe is pretty much the opposite of that. No worries. It works. The March 2011 issue of Food Network Magazine, has a recipe for making your very own pizzoccheri noodles. The recipe is as follows:
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
3/4 cups buckwheat flour
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Mix the flours together in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Beat the eggs, olive oil, and 6 tbsp of water in a measuring cup. Pour into the well. Stir with a fork. (Really use a fork.)
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (Don't worry if it looks a little crumbly or uneven) and knead until smooth, 5 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. (Do let the dough rest. It is very important!)
A very smooth kneaded lump of dough.
Cut the dough into 6 pieces; wrap 5 pieces in plastic. Roll out 1 piece into 12-by-18-inch rectangle on a floured surface. (About 1/8-inch thick.)
Cut crosswise into 1/2 inch wide strips, then cut the strips in half. Toss the pasta with flour on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. (I recommend keeping plastic over the baking sheet so they don't get too dry.)
*Also, please note that the noodle recipe makes too many noodles, unless you are feeding a hungry army, which maybe you are...but I use about 3/4 of the noodles in the dish.
This part of the recipe is all mine, but inspired by online recipes:
1 lb russett potatoes cubed into 1-inch chunks
1 lb cabbage cubed into 1-inch chunks
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh sage, roughly chopped*
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/3 cup butter
3//4 lb fontina cheese, grated
1/4 lb Parmiagiano-Reggiano, grated (use fresh only!)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Fill a large pot with water, salt to taste, and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, in a small skillet, heat the butter over medium low heat. Cook until the butter solids become browned but not burnt. Add garlic slices and sage and cook garlic until soft. Do not let the garlic get very brown or it will be bitter! Remove from heat and let the flavors combine while you cook the noodles.
Add potatoes and cabbage to boiling water and cook for 10 minutes or so until the potatoes are just tender. With the potatoes and cabbage still in the water, add pizzoccheri noodles and cook for 5-6 minutes or until al dente. (Mine were on the thin side so they only took about 5 minutes.) Drain when done. Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt over the noodle mixture.
In a large casserole, put the noodles, cabbage and potatoes. Gently fold in the browned butter sauce and the cheeses. Bake uncovered for about 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
*If your sage is super fresh, I would use less. You don't want to overpower the other flavors.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
This is what hard boiled eggs look like for pretty much everybody. You can break the cooking of the eggs down to a science, with properly aged eggs, as some suggest. But really, you still get some ugly ones. And who wants to waste a perfectly good hard-boiled egg just for having a few imperfections, or even a really bad attitude?
Sometimes, it gets down right ugly. There's always at least one rebel egg in every batch that, I'm sad to say, is beyond hope. If you happen to get one that is all angry and breaks in half, there really isn't much you can do as far as deviling it is concerned. You can however, rehabilitate it by chopping it up and stirring it into tuna salad.
This is my recipe for deviled eggs. The amounts are vague so you can adjust it to suit how ever many eggs you are making.
Hard Boiled Eggs
Place eggs in a pot, and cover with cold water, about an inch or so above the eggs. Put in about a tablespoon of salt, so if they eggs crack open, the egg white won't stray far from the shell. Put on high heat and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and put a lid on the pot. Cook for 15 minutes and then pour out hot water and rinse eggs in cold water until cooled. Crack shells and peel. I find it easier to peel them under cold running water.
10 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half
mayonnaise (please do not use salad dressing type mayo)
Tabasco sauce (can be omitted)
Pop the yolks out of the egg halves and into a bowl. Save the egg white halves. Mash them with a fork until it forms a crumbly-ish paste. Add about 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, 1 1/2 tbsp pickle relish, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, a couple shots of Tabasco sauce, onion powder to taste, and salt to taste. Stir well, combining thoroughly. Taste your filling. If it is too dry add some more mayonnaise. If it needs more flavor, add some Worcestershire sauce. Want more kick? Add more Tabasco. Fill egg white halves, I use a spoon, but if you want to be all fancy, you could pipe in the filling with a large opening pastry decorating tip. Sprinkle tops with paprika and serve.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
1 lb lean ground beef
1 medium onion chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 lb green cabbage chopped into 1" hunks
Brown beef in a little olive oil in a soup pot. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add remaining ingredients and cook at a slow simmer for 30 minutes to one hour. Serve over rice.
So warm, so good, perfect for cold weather!
Sunday, December 30, 2012
These are the best buckwheat pancakes I have ever made. It's my own recipe. The batter is kind of thick. Don't be afraid and don't water it down. I realized after making these that I put no oil in them. They didn't stick because I oiled the pan really well with butter. Put more on top once you get them out of the pan.
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup oat bran
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp honey
1 large egg
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine liquid ingredients separately. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ones. Stir to combine. Heat a large frying pan or griddle, and add in 2-3 tsp of butter. Pour in about 3 tbsp of batter at a time in 3 - 4 spots, spacing out between the pancakes. Once there are bubbles in the edges of the pancakes flip them and cook until done all the way through the middle. Add more butter before cooking the next batch.
Put on a plate, spread with butter and cover with foil to keep warm until all pancakes are done.
Makes 10-12 pancakes
Thursday, December 27, 2012
This is easily the simplest and most addictive, coronary infarction inducing appetizer you could ever make. Got that in-law you need to bump off...just feed 'em a bunch of these little suckers. Just kidding. Don't do that. Also don't share this recipe with your cardiologist.
1 pile of dates (preferably fresh ones from a tub because the bulk ones often come with yucky things we won't discuss in the middles)
1 lb of thick bacon (or more)
1/2 lb of hot Italian sausage, the crumbly raw kind, not salami, or any of the other fine Italian cured meats (if its in links just slice them open)
a box of toothpicks
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover a cookie sheet with foil. You will thank me later when it is time to wash it!
Cut the package of bacon in half vertically so all the slices are half the length they used to be. Put a cup or so of brown sugar in a dish.
If you were lucky enough to find Medjool dates, you win because those are the best. Take each of the dates, and slice each it open down the side removing the pit if it is still in there. Stuff each date with a small lump of sausage. It is ok if the date is kind of smiling at you and the sides aren't touching. Extra sausage is a good thing.
Wrap the bacon around the date and secure with a toothpick. Don't worry you don't need to soak the toothpicks, they shouldn't burn.
Toss the bacon wrapped dates in the brown sugar and place on the cookie sheet. You don't need to grease it, the bacon will take care of that.
Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes, flipping over 1/2 way through if you want them to brown evenly. Serve warm and try not to eat them all before your guests get a chance to try them.