Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Scalloped Potatoes Layered with Anchovies

I have to admit. I am not a root vegetable kind of guy, probably because I don't know much about them nor I have eaten them frequently. In Mexico we really don't eat that many root veggies because of the climate. Pretty much we can eat the same food year round because climate wise it is paradise. Here is different. Summer time is warm and Winter is cold and each comes with a different variety of fruits and vegetables and obviously people have learned to cook whit what they got.

The current wife likes root vegetables and gave me this book called Down to Earth (Georgeanne Brennan) and I decided to give it a try by doing a recipe that I knew I would love. Scalloped potatoes are fantastic and this recipe just makes them way (WAY) better. I prepared them with nothing else to eat but that and, believe me, it is plenty. It really doesn't need anything else buy I'm sure that can be a side dish too.  We ate them and we had leftovers for another day (plus two lunches for the current wife). Try them, you'll see. Honestly a fantastic recipe. Soon, I'll try another one.



Scalloped Potatoes Layered with Anchovies
Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

1 Tbsp Butter

6 Medium sized potatoes (Yukon Gold or similar) about 2 1/2 Lb

2 Large white onions (yellow preferable)

6 Anchovy fillets in Olive oil, cut into 1/2  inch or so. Keep the oil!


2 Tbsp Fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream

- The oil of the anchovies

- Parmesan cheese 


Cooking Instructions

1. Peel and then cut lengthwise the potatoes, French style (like French fries) into batons 1/2 inch thick and slice the onions into rounds about 1/4 of n inch thick and reserve. 

2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F 

3. Butter a 2 quart (medium size) baking dish that has a lid (I used my Dutch oven).

4. Arrange 1/3 of the potatoes in a layer at the bottom of the buttered dish and scatter 1/2 of the anchovies and 1/2 of the rosemary (remember to keep the oil!). 

5. Now, top with a layer of onions and add some of the rosemary.

6. Add the second layer of potatoes, then the anchovies and then the rosemary and repeat the layering until the upper layer are the potatoes.

7. In a medium size bowl mix the anchovy oil with the cream and pour over the potatoes. Cover with the lid (must be tight, otherwise also use aluminum foil and then the lid).

8. Bake for 35 minutes until the potatoes are tender, then uncover and cover with parmesan cheese and bake again for an extra 15 minutes.

9. Broil for 5 to 7 minutes until some potatoes are a bit brown


10. Enjoy!!!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Montalbano's Tomato and Black Olives Pasta (Pasta al pomodoro e olive)


Andrea Camillieri's Inspector Salvo Montalbano is a peculiar character and a favorite TV series in my household. I don't remember how many seasons or how many episodes are there, but we have watched them all, including the spin off The Young Montalbano which is as great as the original.

Two peculiarities of Salvo Montalbano are, one that he does not talk while eating (not a word in a whole dinner or lunch for example, regardless of who is with him) and that he loves Sicilian food. As a fact, he is a true Sicilian and loves all about this place. I share Montalbano's personality in two areas: one he has a sense of humor and he loves food.

In each episode you will always see how a different dish is either prepared for him, eaten at his favorite restaurant or is prepared by him. There is a huge emphasis on his love for food but, believe it or not, there is not one single book (a descent book, though) that contains his recipes (contrary to Inspector Brunetti's, who has a great cook book), so trying to cook something I want to replicate takes tons of research, mostly in Italian. The dishes are not designed for the show but Sicilian and some are simple, like this one and other ones are quite complicated -like the Cassatta that is in this blog). 

I will start a section dedicated to Montalbano's food in my blog and hopefully Camilieri or his family, publisher or lawyers don't come after me. At the end is Sicilian food, but my reference is him and his food. 

This is a terrific dish. It is simple to do and quite different to other recipes that I have done (like the Cherry Tomato Pasta). It is delicious, so it is my opening of a new page on my blog.

To Camilieri, to Salvo and to all who love food!


Montalbano's Tomato and Black Olives Pasta (Pasta al pomodoro e olive)

Cooking Time: 40 Minutes   Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

800 g Tomatoes (I use small tomatoes, golf ball size but not cherry tomatoes)

100 ml Olive oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed

100 g black olives, pitted and halved

- Salt to taste (I used raspberry salt)

400 g Cavatappi or Fusilli pasta

- Basil, chopped

- Parmesan cheese



Cooking Instructions

1. Chop the tomatoes (in my case I cut them in quarters) leaving skin and seeds and stir together with the oil, crushed garlic and olives in a metal bowl big enough to eventually hold the pasta. Season with salt (I used raspberry salt just to add a bit of extra flavor)


2. Leave the bowl at room temperature to macerate for at least half a day (prepare in the morning, cover with plastic film and leave it there..to do its magic)

3. In a large pot, put water to boil and cook the pasta (as it is short cut extruded pasta it will take about 12 to 15 minutes to be ready. Check after 10 minutes so you don’t overcook it) AND place the bowl that contains the tomato mix on top of the large pot if possible, otherwise use a medium size pot, put some water and heat it up, then place on top the tomato mix, as we don’t want to actually cook it, but just warm it up).

4. Drain the pasta when is almost done (not undercook but almost cooked) and then add it to the tomato bowl. Move the big bowl to a side, mix it up perfectly and add the basil.

5. Serve with some parmesan cheese on top.

6. Enjoy!

Note:


You can actually eat this pasta cold and it will be as delicious as when you eat it warm.

I don't know which episode this dish belongs to...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Fried Milk (Leche Frita) AKA Cream Toasts (Tostadas de Crema)

If you go to Spain, they call them Tostadas de Crema and they are part of the Carnival food, which is fantastic. The Carnival is celebrated to commemorate the arrival of Easter and it is when people use costumes, there is music and food, food and more food. Or that is what they say, as I have never been to Spain (but it is in my bucket list). Obviously the dessert is also eaten in Mexico, but there they call it Leche frita (literally fried milk) and it is served in many spaniard restaurants and some traditional Mexican restaurants they serve it too, claiming that it is a Mexican dessert. I honestly can't see how this would be a Mexican dessert as before the Spanish Invasion there were no cows in Mexico. Go figure.

In any event, it is a fantastic dessert to make and a crowd pleaser (who doesn't like fried food?...I already talked about it not long time ago). They serve it warm and it is delicious. The current wife who claims to be Mexican and that she comes from a long line of Mexican people going all the way to Quetzalcoatl. I have to admit, when she gets upset she does look like a feathered snake with red eyes and about to eat you, so I believe...well, she had never tried this dessert, so proudly I had a chance to show her something Mexican that she had never eaten. Ha!

This is a great dessert. It really doesn't take that much time, but it takes...muscle. Stir and stir and stir... but, at the end, the result is so tasty that you don't care (and gives you an opportunity to complain which can be good to your marital relations...looking for sympathy). Try and see...


Fried Milk (Leche Frita) AKA Cream Toasts (tostadas de crema)

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 20 units
Ingredients

600 ml Milk

80 g Corn Starch

90 g Sugar
5 Egg Yolks

1 Cinnamon Stick 

-The peel of half a lime or lemon

1 Cup of flour

2 Eggs (beaten)

To prepare part II

1 Cup Canola oil or

3/4 Cup canola oil and

125 g Butter (choose either all canola oil or the mix canola-butter)

To Finish

1 Cup sugar
2 Tbsp Powdered Cinnamon

Cooking Instructions 

1. Using 100 ml of the milk, we’ll mix the corn starch with the little bit of milk that should be  cold, so is easy to mix. Reserve


2. Ina medium size pan, over high heat, warm the milk but do not reach  boiling point, adding the cinnamon sticks and the lime peel. Keep it in medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes so the flavor of the lime and the cinnamon is absorbed by the milk. Turn off the heat and reserve. 

3. In a medium size bowl mix the egg yolks with the sugar (mix for about 5 minutes so the sugar is 100% dissolved). Reserve

4. Place the bowl with the egg yolks-sugar mix on top of a pan with some water and warm it up using medium heat. Once is lukewarm add the milk with the cinnamon stick and the lime peel, in batches, stirring often so it incorporates to the egg mix. Once all milk has been incorporated to the egg yolks, keep stirring at
medium heat.

5. Now, let’s add the corn starch-milk mix and keep stirring. This is when the mix will start to thicken, so keep stirring for about 10 to 15 minutes. The mix will start to thicken (be patient!) and we will keep stirring until we get a firm mix with the consistency of mash potatoes. This is the point where we turn off the heat and reserve. It is extremely important that the mix is thick, otherwise the recipe will not work!!

6. Butter a glass (or metal) square pyrex baking dish, making sure that the bottom and the sides are perfectly buttered. Pour the mix, flatten with a metal spoon, cover with plastic film and put in the fridge for 3 hours, so the custard hardens a bit.


7. Now we are going to start our frying process. Mix the two eggs in a small bowl until incorporated and reserve. Fill with flour a second small bowl and reserve and start heating the oil (or the oil-butter mix). The difference will be in the flavor and the butter-oil mix will get you a crispier dessert. Keep it hot (frying temperature) and reserve.

8. Cut in small squares (about 2” x 2” or so) the custard with a knife. Now we’ll start the frying part: cover in flour each square and then cover in the egg mix and very carefully start frying three or four at the time, turning them once when the bottom starts to brown. Once they are golden all over, put them on a paper towel to get rid of the excess oil. Reserve

9. In a medium bowl mix the sugar and the powdered cinnamon. Dip each square into the mix (cover them perfectly) and serve them warm.

10. Enjoy!

Notes:

  1. If you use the oil-butter mix the batter will get crispier than with the oil, but in Mexico and in
    Spain they use canola oil, so that is what I use.
b) If you have leftovers, put them in the fridge and cover with plastic wrap. They will release some juice…it doesn’t matter. Once you are about to eat them, put them in the toaster-oven and bake at 375˚F for 10 to 15 minutes, then cover them again in the sugar-cinnamon mix and serve. 


c) If you have a heavy bottom pan, you can heat up the mix if you stir often so the custard doesn’t stick to the bottom. This is the method I use (less to wash, though)







































Monday, September 5, 2016

Banana and Raisins White Bread

Banana and Raisins White Bread

I have always felt awkward when buying bananas at the supermarket. I almost feel that I am doing something wrong and illegal when I break in two a bunch of bananas, leaving the other half there for someone to pick. The problem is that I am the only one who eats bananas at home, as the current wife just doesn't like the texture. She does, however, likes cake or bread and it doesn't matter if contains bananas or not. Go figure.

In the other hand I do like banana bread basically because: one, I don't like the idea of throwing them away when they turn brown  (which often happens as all bananas ripe at the same time!) but I don't like the look of the traditional banana bread. It just looks...too ...hmmm...healthy?...brown?...plain?

So, this week I had two bananas left and decided to bake a bread, a banana bread. This time, though, I was going to do it more appealing to me, so this is recipe shows what I did and, I have to say, the cake is easy to make, moist, tasty and...looks great! I baked it yesterday. Today there is only half: the current wife has awakened!...any baking goods are in danger and there is no hero to come and save them. Cruel destiny of a tasty cake.

Banana and Raisins White Bread 
Cooking Time: 90 Minutes   Makes 12 servings
Ingredients

125 g Butter, room temperature

200 g sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature


2 Tsp Vanilla

2 Ripe bananas (large)

1/2 lime (the juice of)

3 Tsp Baking powder

300 g Flour

1/8 Tsp salt

100 g Raisins

optional glazing sugar for decoration



Baking Instructions
  1. Mix the butter and the sugar until you get it creamy and smooth, about 10 minutes, medium speed.

2. Add one egg at the time and continue mixing for another 2 minutes, until fully incorporated, then add the vanilla. Reserve

3. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas and the juice of half a lime and mix until fully incorporated. Reserve

4. Turn on the oven to 350˚F and butter a bundt pan (or a bread pan)

5. Add the first 100 grams of flour and one teaspoon of baking powder to the butter-sugar mix, combine well, then add 1/3 of the banana mix (2 minutes); then add another 100 grams of flour, another teaspoon of the baking powder and 1/3 of the banana mix. Combine until incorporated (2 minutes); then add the last 100 g of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder and the last third of the banana mix, combine until incorporated -2 more minutes-. At the end add the salt and mix all together until you get a consistent (a bit wet) mix. Reserve

6. Fold the raisins

7. Pour the mix into the baking pan and put in the oven for about 60 minutes (mine took 90 minutes!) but keep an eye on it and check how well is done at 45 minutes and then every 15 minutes or so. You will know that is ready when the toothpick comes out clean and the top of the cake is golden.

8. Allow it to cool in a cooling rack for 30 minutes, then unmold and allow it to cool completely.

9. If you want, decorate with powdered sugar and

10. Enjoy!


Monday, August 29, 2016

Cheese stuffed cauliflower in tomato sauce, Mexican style (Coliflor rellena de queso en caldillo)

Cheese stuffed cauliflower in tomato sauce, Mexican style (Coliflor rellena de queso en caldillo)


Even though I really like deep fried almost everything, the part of me that knows better -or at least believes that knows better-, called "a wife" stops me from doing so with some exceptions: deep fried Twinkies, deep fried Oreos,  doughnuts, deep fried Mars Bars, tempura and other foods that I can't remember. She takes care of me...oh love....

I usually don't eat cauliflower and I really don't know why as it is quite tasty (if it is next to some dressing or in a food...because raw is just disgusting) and I went back to memory land and remember that this dish is quite similar to one that the woman who claimed to be my mother use to make, without the cinnamon, the clove and stuffing the cheese the way I did. In Mexico they usually cut the cauliflower in pieces, mix it with the egg batter and deep fry them -called "tortitas de coliflor"-. So it kind of seems similar to the traditional Mexican way, but I think that this way is somehow a bit more tasty and you don't get the oil and the egg batter aftertaste. It also looks awesome. 

As we are only the two of  us, this dish lasted for two days and for a hungry wife lunch, but usually this should be plenty to feed six people. Honestly, the touch of cinnamon and clove and the way the cauliflower is presented is just super tasty. When you cut into the cauliflower and the cheese melts in the plate incorporating itself into the tomato sauce...is just a mystical experience. Try it...you will know then what separates mixing ingredients and cooking. 

Cheese stuffed cauliflower in tomato sauce, Mexican style (Coliflor rellena de queso en caldillo)


Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 6 servings
Ingredients

1 Medium size FRESH cauliflower,
separated in small trunks.

For the caldillo (runny tomato sauce)

1/2 Onion, chopped

1 Garlic clove

2 Large tomatoes

1/2 Beef broth cube (knorr os similar)

Water as needed

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Clove, ground

For the stuffing

200 g Mozzarella cheese (or Panela cheese if you can find it), sliced in 1/4 inch pieces.

2 Large eggs, room temperature

To put together the cauliflower

  • 12 Tooth picks
  • Flour
2 Cups of canola oil to fry the battered cauliflowers.

To serve
  • White rice, Mexican style


Cooking Instructions

1. Boil water in a medium size pan and once is boiling add the cauliflower trunks (in Mexico they call them cauliflower “trees”) and cook them for exactly 5 minutes -otherwise they will turn soggy-, then drain the water and reserve.


2. In a medium size pan, heat the oil and add the onion so it gets a bit translucent, then add the garlic clove (just broken by using a knife) and mix the until the garlic has browned a bit. Reserve

3. Using your blender or food processor blend the tomatoes  and then add the  onion/garlic. Blend again and reserve in the blender.

4. Using the same pan where you fried the onions, add a bit more canola oil and, once is warm, add the tomato mix, add the 1/2 beef cube, the cinamon and the clove, mix and cover. Reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. If, after the 20 minutes the mix looks a bit dense, add some water as we are looking for a more liquid mix -called “caldillo" in Mexico. Taste and correct if necessary. Reserve

5. Now, we are going to prepare the egg batter. First separate the eggs and reserve the yolks. In a medium size bowl use your hand mixer to beat the egg whites until you  get them stiff (you can turn upside down the bowl and it won’t make a mess). This should take about 3 to 4 minutes; then we are going to add one egg yolk and mix again until incorporated, then add the second egg yolk, mix until incorporated too. Reserve

6.  Now, we are going to prepare the cauliflower. First let’s divide each cauliflower piece in two and put a piece of the mozzarella cheese in the middle then put together with two tooth picks, like a sandwich where the cauliflower represents the bread and the cheese is the sandwich filling. Reserve 
7. In a deep small pan, heat the 2 cups of canola oil to frying temperature and it in that temperature.

8. Take each cheese stuffed cauliflower piece, cover with flour and cover with the egg batter, then carefully drop it in the frying oil. Once the bottom part has browned, using some tongs turn the cauliflower so the other half gets to brown. Once the whole piece is done, remove using the tongs and place each piece on a kitchen paper towel to remove the excess oil. Reserve

9. Once we have all the fried cauliflower pieces ready, we are ready to serve. In each plate put one or two pieces of the battered cauliflower and cover them with the tomato sauce, which should be a bit loose (caldillo), then on the side add some Mexican style white rice and serve.

10. Enjoy!

  


Friday, August 19, 2016

C-52 Cake (Kahlúa - Cabot Trail-Grand Marnier cake)

C-52 Cake (Kahlúa - Cabot Trail-Grand Marnier cake)

Trying to keep my creativity spurge and hiding from the Sun (it is warm today and I rather wait until I'm in Hell to suffer this kind of heat) and based on the famous B-52 classic drink, I decided to create this cake to pamper my ex-student, now friend, that came for a visit yesterday. She is not a person who likes sweets so I took this in consideration. Also as Canadian (yes, yesterday I was in my Canadian mood) I decided to give a twist to the B-52 cocktail and add the Cabot Trail Maple Cream which on its own is fantastic (and...no, they don't pay me to say this).

The cake is not hard to make, but it takes a bit longer to bake than a traditional cake because I didn't want to loose the liquors flavors due to high temperatures. The frosting is soft and delicate and creates a fantastic mix with the chocolate cake. I served it on a bed of Kahlúa and Cabot Trail and...wow...it is absolutely fantastic. It is moist, soft and creamy. I kind of think that even kids can eat it without the cocktail bed.

The evening was great and the catching up was very nice. The current wife also was there, but I am guessing that she was more for the cake than for the chat...but it is only my guess.... 

Today there is only 50% of the cake left. My prediction? It won't make it till Sunday. Honestly I can say that when the end result is so fantastic and is one's creation..it feels good. 

Please feel free to copy the recipe, just credit the site !


C-52 Cake (Kahlúa - Cabot Trail-Grand Marnier cake)

Baking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 16 servings

Ingredients


340 g Dark chocolate, chopped into pieces 

340 g  Unsalted butter, room temperature

1 Cup milk  (lukewarm)

1/2 Cup Kahlúa

1/2 Cup Cabot Trail Maple Cream

1/2 Cup Grand Marnier

2 Tbsp instant coffee

1 1/2 Tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 Cups (450 g) Sugar

3 420 g All-purpose flour

1 1/2 Tsp Baking powder

1 Tsp baking soda

3/4 Tsp kosher salt
3 Large eggs, room temperature

Glaze 

1/4 Cup Kahlúa

1/4 Cup Grand Marnier

1/3 Cup Cabot Trail Maple Cream

 8 Oz (one packet) Cream cheese, room temperature

175 g confectioner’s sugar, sifted

1/4 Tsp kosher salt


Instructions

1. Preheat an oven to 300˚F and generously butter a 12-cup bundt pan all over to the very top of the pan, making sure to get every single millimeter!. Dust it with flour and place it on a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Place the chopped chocolate and the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the milk and over low heat, melt the chocolate-butter-milk mix, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in, Kahlúa, Grand Marnier and Cabot Trail and add the instant coffee and vanilla, stir for 5 minutes then remove from heat.


3. Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar 1/3 part at the time and beat to incorporate between additions, about 10 minutes, then add the flour one cup at a time, stirring on slow speed until the flour is absorbed before adding the next cup. Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir on slow speed to incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed to incorporate before adding the next egg. Pour the batter  into the prepared bundt pan... it will be a wet mix, don't worry. It will fill the pan up pretty high so
make sure the pan is on a baking sheet because it will overflow (it actually overflows...but reserve the overflow bits and eat them warm....yum)

4. Bake in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes -depends on your oven- until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean (mine takes 1 hour 45 minutes). Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then invert the pan while still hot (wear heat proof oven gloves!) onto a wire rack. Remove the pan and let cool
completely (2 to 3 hours)

5. To assemble the cake, brush 1/4 cup of Kahlúa and 1/4 cup of Grand marnier over the entire cake, letting it absorb the liqueur. Place the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, the Cabot Maple Cream and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until a glaze forms. If will be a super creamy mix…don’t eat it, remember is for the cake.

Put the glaze on the cake with a silicone paddle and let the glaze
dry before serving.

Serve on a plate with a small amount of Maple Cream and Kahlúa around it. It is nothing but extraordinary!



Thursday, August 18, 2016

Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seed Cheesecake (Mexican Cheesecake)

Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seed Cheesecake (Mexican Cheesecake)

So, the current wife invited a couple for dinner -long time friends she claims- and it just happens that one of the guests to come is celiac (for real), so the menu had to be 100% gluten free. I had some days to think about it and I decided to cook some appetizer -which I can't remember-, then Plantain stuffed chiles rellenos with Mexican rice and...I went all food designer and created my very first Mexican Cheesecake. I replaced the Graham crackers with Roasted Amaranth seeds (that are vanilla flavored and that I bought in Mexico in our last trip) for the crust and I incorporated them into the actual cheesecake. I served the cheesecake with my world famous (yeah right) Tequila drunken cherries and...success.

The couple had never tried plantain, so that was great (and if they didn't like it then they deserve an Oscar for best Guest Performance of the Night) and the dessert was the jewel on the crown. Once they had annihilated the food supply, they left. All we had left was the memory of a great dinner and good company and...my ever disappearing memory of the recipe adaptation.  As Summer is here I am overwhelmed by heat and garden duties, so just because today it is MEGA warm I am indoors and decided to write down the recipe and share. I do this while I am creating (wow...now I "create") a C-52 Cake for this incredibly smart and pleasant ex-pupil who is coming for a coffee later on today. The house smells great...if this C-52 cake works... I'll post and if it doesn't...well...tough.

So, here it is. My own recipe of a cheesecake, which I called Mexican because I relate Amaranth seeds with the Country that claims that I born in and because Alegrias are one of my favorite street treats in Mexico. If you are celiac, gluten free or just plain weird...this is for you. You will love it.

Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seed Cheesecake (Mexican Cheesecake) 

Cooking Time: 45 Minutes   Makes 12 servings

Ingredients 

1 Cup of Vanilla Roasted Amaranth Seeds*

1/3 Cup plus 3/4 Cup Caster Sugar, separated


6 Tbsp Butter, melted

3  (225 g ea.) Packages of Cream 
Cheese, softened and room temperature

100 g Sour Cream

1 Tbsp Cornstarch 

3 Large eggs, room temperature

2 Tbsp Vanilla extract

1/4 Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seeds




Cooking Instructions 

  1. In a medium size bowl combine the roasted vanilla amaranth seeds* with 1/3 of the granulated sugar and the melted butter until fully incorporated.

2. Cover the bottom of a 9” springform pan with parchment paper and butter the sides.

3. Pour the amaranth mix into the pan and distribute evenly only on the bottom, not the sides, and press firmly so we get a compact base for the cake. Reserve 

4. In the bottom of the oven -or the bottom rack- place a shallow baking pan with boiling water and turn on the oven to 300 ̊F. The rack for the cheese cake will be in the middle. 

5. In a mixer combine the cheese and the sour cream with the rest of the sugar until combined, then add, one by one, the eggs and keep mixing until incorporated (you will get a semi-liquid mix...don’t panic, that is what we are looking for). 

6. Add the vanilla and the cornstarch and mix a bit more until incorporated. 

7. Finally fold the 1/4 Cup of the Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seeds and pour the mix into the prepared pan. 

8. Place the pan into the oven (middle rack), which will be a bit steamy. Allow it to cook between 20 to 30 minutes, but it might take longer (if so, verify every 5 minutes). 

9. You know that the cheesecake is ready when the outer ring is firm but the center jiggles like undone jello -you feel that is not going to happen…too liquid, but that is what we want).

10. Turn off the oven, remove the water bath and run a thin knife around the edges so when the time comes it won’t crack. Then remove the cake and allow it to cool in a semi-warm spot in the kitchen -as cooling it fast will create cracks-. This is a two hour wait. Do not unmold!!!

11. Once is cool enough, unmold and put it in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

12. Enjoy!

Here is the most important parts: 

-We know that the cheese cake is ready when we shake the pan -lightly- and we see the center part wobble but the sides not. It is shinny on the top. If it does not wobble...you over cooked the cake (still is good but not fantastic) and if you take it out when is not ready...you will have a mess. Keep an eye on the “wooblyness of 
the cake” 
-When ready, remove and place the cake in a cooling rack for 2 hours without opening the mold. 

* Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seeds are available in Mexican Specialty Stores, Organic Food Stores or on the internet (Amazon). Just make sure that they are actually amaranth and no artificial additives whatsoever.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Budino di Panettone (Sweet Panettone Pudding)

Budino di Panettone (Sweet Panettone Pudding)

Life is good, more so when I am able to find and try a new recipe that challenges me but at the same time combines ingredients that I like. Panettone is by far one of my favorites of all times -even though I have never baked one, but I will- pretty much along with the Colomba di Pascua which is a fantastic sweet bread-, rum and Marsala. How can you go wrong with these ingredients?

In one of my classes one of my students is Italian and she lent me her favorite cook book where I got this recipe. I did return the book but without the page (ha!) ... she'll never find out unless she reads this website which...she actually reads...oh... sorry Diana....

In any event, I decided to bake this Bread Pudding and see what happened. I was hesitant as I have never done a bread pudding before but, hey, there is only one life. The timing was perfect as the current wife was starting a diet and I was decided to make her break it (it is the Lanister's blood in me) so I did . The end result was fantastic. The baking time was kind of funny because I doubled the amount of Rum (but this recipe has been corrected for the non crazy people, even though I will do it with 1/2 Cup of rum next time as we did like it like that). So 2 hours into the baking and...nothing; 2 1/2 hours...nothing...pretty much wet....3 hours and is was kind of OK...so I left it for another 1/2 hour and voila! It was ready.

The house smelled like a cantina that was the Peaky Blinder's favorite fight bar, but wow...the smell, the flavor and, the best of all...the wife broke the diet! Now she is back to it, so I'm preparing a new dessert today...let's test her will.

For those who are not on a diet or want to be part of the Lanister's family...just go for it. It is amazing. Honest. 




Budino di Panettone (Sweet Panettone Pudding)

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 10 servings

Ingredients

3/4  Lb Sliced Panettone (stale?…even better!)

1/4 Cup Rum (guilty...I used 1/2 but you go with the 1/4)


1/4 Cup Marsala wine

5 Cups Milk, room temperature

- Grated rind of a lime (or lemon)

1/8 Tsp Cinnamon

5 Large eggs, room temperature

1/2 Cup Caster Sugar

- Butter to prepare the baking dish 


Baking Instructions

1. Soak the Panettone slices in the Rum-Marsala mix, cover with plastic so the aromas don’t evaporate. Reserve.


2. Bring the milk to a boil, stir in the lime (or lemon) rind and the cinnamon and allow it to cool.

3. Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until incorporated, then add 1/2 cup of the lukewarm milk and mix it together. Whisk like crazy otherwise the mix will be ruined!

4. Once the egg/sugar/milk is one smooth mix, incorporate the rest of the milk and mix again.

5. Add the egg-milk mix to the already soaked in rum-Marsala mix trying not to break the
Panettone (as much as you can, though). We don’t want a mushy mix, we are trying to keep the bread as a unit.

6. Beat the egg whites stiffly and FOLD them carefully into the bread mixture (again, it is essential not to break up the slices…try…) 

7. Once is 100% blended, pour the mix into a buttered baking dish. Remember to butter all the baking dish… this mix will grow all the way to the top.

8. Turn on the oven to 300˚F and put water in a baking pan with hot water (I don’t have one large enough so I used a Pyrex square dish that covered 1/4 way up the side of the baking dish with the Panettone mix, but if you have a large one then try to keep the water level so 1/2 way up the baking dish is covered)

9. Bake for about 2 hours until the pudding is firm. Mine took actually longer, a bit more than 2 1/2
hours but better check at the 1 1/2 hour mark. I did insert a wooden skewer just to verify how easy would go in… when I felt it was firm enough -didn’t feel wet when out but a bit sticky- then I knew that it was time to turn off the oven and allow it to cool with the Panettone inside the oven. It didn’t wobble at all, that was my cue.

10. Once cold, let it cool a bit more outside the oven (2 hours or so) and then put it in the fridge. Serve it cold.


11. Enjoy!




Friday, July 8, 2016

Caramelized Onion Gnocchi

Caramelized Onion Gnocchi

Sometimes we just cook things the way we have seen or eaten all the time. Usually we don't go to Italian restaurants as is hard to find a good one and the ones for the commons, like me, just offer a very simple menu. All my life I have eaten and cooked gnocchi with tomato sauce, meat sauce or cream and mushrooms but that is all.

Gnocchi and I have a long history, though. It was a celebration dish at my home when I was a child. It was the main dish for New Year's and the woman who claimed to be my mother always put a small coin under each plate for luck. That was neat I have to admit (then she always took the coin back because she was sort of Scottish that way). I love gnocchi and I can't imagine who wouldn't. When I have the time I prepare mine from scratch but the ones from the Italian shop (Renzullo's !) are great.

The other day I was reading one of my Italian cooking books and I discover this recipe and I decided to try it. It is so easy to cook and the end result is nothing but fantastic. It is a heart warming dish, for those gloomy gray Fall days. If you are not counting calories this is a great dish to prepare, otherwise just substitute the gnocchi for rice cakes, the butter and olive oil for nothing and the cheese with cottage cheese.

Fortunately the current wife loves to eat so this was a sure pleaser. The only problem is that we ate it so fast that I forgot to take the picture, so I resourced to Google for one -sorry-. 



Caramelized Onion Gnocchi

Cooking Time: 30 Minutes   Makes 4 servings


Ingredients

1 Pound gnocchi 

3 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp butter

1 Large onion, chopped

4 Tsp minced garlic

2 Cups cheddar cheese, grated


Cooking Instructions

  • Heat butter and oil in large frying pan. 
  • Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes, until brown and caramelized. If the edges start to get too much color, just add a little water and stir it up. 
  • Cook the gnocchi and remove 1/4 cup of cooking liquid before draining. Add it to the pan of onions. 
  • Add the drained gnocchi and the cheese and toss to combine.
  • Enjoy!

  • * Not my picture… we ate it faster than the click of a camera !

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Avocado and Prawn Linguine (Linguine all'Avocado e Gamberetti)

Avocado and Prawn Linguine (Linguine all'Avocado e Gamberetti)


This is the thing: I can't resist sales and more so if they have something I really like on sale. In this case on the weekend I went with the current wife to do some grocery shopping -advise to all of you guys: always feed the wife before going grocery shopping otherwise you end buying twice as much as you planned) and they had avocados and mangoes on sale. I just couldn't resist.

The current wife loves avocados as much as bread, milk, chocolate, food, junk food, pop, ice cream..... so is easy to imagine that a bag of avocados won't last long at my place. I always ask if she wants a tortilla when eating Mexican and she always answers: "is there any avocado?" if the answer is yes, then she does and if the answer is no then she still wants some but without the happy-happy face.

Also I listen  and pay attention to my readers, more so if they are whiners and complainers, like the pseudo-cousin I have. So here, a fast and tremendously tasty meal in... 20 minutes (for you pseudo-cousin will take an hour by the time you translate this, but we still love you).

Honestly this is a fantastic meal. Easy to make and so (SO) delicious. Try and see. It can't get better than this. If you have a restaurant this is a great recipe to get some extra cash as the special of the day (prawn + avocado = $$$$ in a restaurant!...hmmmm...), now if you actually name it the original Italian name then it will be $$$$$$$$$$$. Ha!

Avocado and Prawn Linguine (Linguine all'Avocado e Gamberetti)

Cooking Time: 20 Minutes   Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

400 g  Linguine pasta or similar

400 g Medium size Prawns (peeled with tails left)

1 1/2 Avocado

2 Tbs Grated Parmesan Cheese

2 Tbsp Lime juice

4 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Garlic Clove finely chopped

1 Fresh Shallot, chopped

- Salt to taste

- Parmesan Cheese at serving time 

Cooking Instructions
  • 1. Cut the avocados in half, remove the core and spoon out the flesh and put it in a mixer of food processor (I use a small food processor). Add the parmesan cheese (the 2 Tbsp..full not just exactly though) and mix until smooth -about a minute-

  • 2. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix again until incorporated and creamy, then add the lime juice. Add salt to taste and reserve.

  • 3. Bring to a boil a large pot and add salt and a bit of olive oil (I don’t do this but “some people” do…I don’t see the point but is up to you). Once is boiling add the pasta so we cook it while we prepare the prawns.

  • 4. In a medium size frying pan warm up between 2 and 4 tablespoons of olive oil -depends on the size of your frying pan…small use 2, big use 4). Add the chopped garlic and stir for about a minute, until starts to look light brown, then add the shallot and mix, then add the prawns and cook. Stir frequently and make sure that all prawns are well cooked to perfection (they turn pink). Reserve

  • 5. By now the pasta should be ready…drain it perfectly and mix it with the avocado mix and with the warm prawn-shallot mix. Fold until all is incorporated and serve immediately.

  • 6. Once is served each individual can add as much or as little grated parmesan cheese on top and…

  • 7. Enjoy !