Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pasta Fagioli

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This is something I grew up on, BIG TIME. This is my family's recipe. In Italy this was considered a peasant food. It translates to pasta and beans. In "Jersey Italian",  it is often called Pasta Fazool. Yes, we have our own Italian slang, don't make fun of us. It can be made red or white. I like white. 

1-2 Whole Pepperoni (Depends on how meaty you want it. I used 2)
A handful or 2 of chopped carrots (I used 2)
A handful or 2 of chopped celery (I used 2)
Whole medium onion
About 6 cloves of garlic (chopped)
½ lb to ¾ lb of small shells
2 cans of cubed potatoes (fresh potatoes will mush)
2 cans of cannellini beans
At least 32 ounces of veggie broth (Have an additional 32 on hand)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Oregano to taste

Sauté celery, carrots, onion, garlic and pepperoni in olive oil.
Add beans (one can with water and other without) and half of the broth.
Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
Add potatoes and remaining broth.
Let simmer for 15 minutes.
Add more broth by eye.
If you want to thicken, make a roux and add by eye. That's what I did.

Garnish with fresh grated parmesan and chili flake if you desire.
In the picture I added fresh celery leaves on top to make it pretty.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Cod Over Brussel Sprout Puree

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Who doesn't like almost ANYTHING wrapped in bacon? I chose to wrap this filet of cod because it is a meaty piece of fish, and it was the best option A&P had. Other robust fish to utilize could be monk fish, haddock or pollack.

Brussel Sprout Puree: 5 or 6 ounces of fresh brussel sprouts. One clove of garlic, chopped. One quarter of a small white onion, chopped. Extra virgin olive oil. Salt and pepper.

For the fish: One 10 ounce filet of cod. Five pieces of bacon, flattened with the sharp side of a knife. Zest of one half of a lemon. Rosemary, thyme, pepper and a dash of garlic powder.

Preparation: Blanch the brussel sprouts, bottoms cut off. Add them to a food processor with garlic, onion and a few tablespoons of olive oil. While this is pureeing, add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add more olive oil as you need, to reach the necessary consistency.

Next, preheat the oven to 400 and lay out the bacon, each piece overlapping each other. Season the top of the fish with the zest, rosemary, thyme, pepper and garlic powder. Lay the fish on top of the bacon, top down. Repeat seasoning on the bottom of fish and complete the wrapping.

In a cast iron or another oven proof pan, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and place the fish in the pan on the stovetop, over high heat for one minute. Place the pan in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. You want the bacon to be slightly brown.

Remove from oven and plate on top of the puree.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cabbage Soup

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If you're looking for a new, hearty winter soup, look no further. It's a combination of pork, veggies and a wonderful smokey flavor. 

Ingredients: Vegetable oil, about 1/2 lb of smoked bacon (feel free to use more if you'd like), 2 lbs of ham hocks, 1 medium onion (chopped), about 6 chopped carrots, 2 1/2 or 3 lb green cabbage, 5 or 6 cloves of chopped garlic, 2 bay leaves, 32 ounce carton of chicken broth, 2lbs of red potatoes (cubed with skin), salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, all to taste.

Preparation: Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a dutch oven or large pot. Add the bacon and cook until slightly brown. Next add the ham hocks, onions and carrots. Cook until the onions are slightly wilted.

Add the cabbage, garlic, bay leaves along with the salt, pepper and cayenne. Cook until the cabbage is also slightly wilted, then add the the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer to cook for about 30 minutes, uncovered. Next, add the potatoes, cover and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Remove the ham hocks from the soup, let cool and pick off the meat and add to the pot. Skim the top of the soup to remove any excess fat and remove bay leaves.

If you like heat, add more cayenne to your bowl. It goes very well with this soup.  

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Potato, Bacon & Leek Chowder

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It's that time of the year again where it's cold outside and hearty soups warm you right up on the inside. This chowder is so creamy and smokey from the bacon, it's so delicious.

Ingredients: A few tablespoons of butter and olive oil, 4 cups of milk, 6 cups of chicken broth, flour, 3 to 3 1/2 pounds of red potatoes, 1 pound of smoked bacon, 2 large or 3 medium sized leeks and a handful of chopped parsley.

Preparation: Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon, after it has been chopped. Cook the bacon, mixing often, until browned. Do not cook the bacon till crisp. Next add the sliced leek and cook until tender about 6 minutes or so.

Combine the milk and about 8 tablespoons of flour in a bowl and whisk. Slowly add the milk mixture to the pot, stirring constantly. Add the broth, potatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 30 minutes or so, until the potatoes are tender. I like thicker chowder so while it is simmering, I usually whisk in more flour to my desired thickness. When potatoes are done, I mix in the the parsley. To serve, I garnished the bowl with grated cheddar cheese and sliced scallions. I used a mandoline for the scallions.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sausage Sangie (Sandwich) With Fennel, Celery and Red Onion Slaw

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This sangie (sangie is my nickname for sandwich) is a nice change of pace from the good ol' sausage and peppers. Everything comes together extremely well.

Ingredients: Sweet or hot Italian sausage, ciabatta or portuguese rolls, butter, garlic, fennel, celery, red onion, red wine vinegar, sugar and parmigiano reggiano.

Preparation: For the slaw, I sliced the bulb of the fennel very thin, reserving the fronds. Next I halved the celery and sliced three stalks lengthwise, very thin as well, reserving the leaves. A small red onion was also sliced very thin from end to end. Now, I added about 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and sugar to a small pot and brought to a boil for sugar to dissolve. Combine all veggies, fennel fronds and chopped celery leaves to a large bowl; add the red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss and set aside.

The sausage was prepared in a pan over medium heat, drizzled with olive oil and browned. A few minutes before the sausage is ready, preheat the broiler for the bread. I normally use ciabatta bread for this sangie, but the store had none left, so I substituted portuguese rolls. (FYI - ciabatta is Italian for slipper) Tear out the insides of the rolls and place in the broiler. While the rolls are toasting, crush a few garlic cloves, add them to a small pot with butter, and melt. 

Serve: Pour the butter and garlic on both sides of the toasted bread and grate some of the parmigiano reggiano. Place a nice amount of the slaw on the bottom roll, top with the sausage and ENJOY!  

BTW: If you'd like to eat healthier, substitute chicken sausage and don’t use butter. I'd suggest as soon as the bread comes out of the broiler, grate, using the roll as the grater itself, a fresh piece of garlic on the crust instead.