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!