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Archive for March, 2010

I love pasta!  Capellini is very thin spaghetti sometimes called angel hair pasta.  My favorite way to make it is short and simple; with olive oil, tomato, garlic and basil. Fresh, light and satisfying!  May be served as a side dish or as a light meal.  I also like to serve it cold from the fridge with salad. Yum!

Buon Appetito!

Capellini with tomato, garlic and basil

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 pound capellini (8 oz.)

3 garlic cloves (minced)

2 roma tomatoes (diced)

about 6 fresh basil leaves chopped

2 tsp kosher salt

pepper to taste

freshly grated parmesan cheese

Procedure

1.  In a medium sauce pan, bring water (about 6 cups) to a boil.  Add generous pinch of salt  and olive oil and start cooking capellini according to package instructions.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat extra virgin olive oil (medium heat) and add minced garlic.  Saute for about 2 minutes (do not  brown).

3.  Add tomato, basil and salt and pepper. Saute for about 3 minutes.

4.  Turn off the heat. Add drained capellini to saute pan and stir until well mixed. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.

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In order to spice things up a bit for my family at dinner time, I often make themed dinner nights.  So last night I took out my electric wok and we had Asian Dinner Night!  I made my version of fried rice, edamame with fleur de sel and this recipe of Asian Orange Shrimp.  It was so good, everyone was licking their fingers!!!!

I love shrimps and I’m always looking for new ways to prepare them (this recipe was inspired by a recipe I found in Everyday Food). Make sure you make the shrimp in a non-stick skillet.  Even though it might look difficult it is very easy to make.   In addition, many of you are looking for meatless meal alternatives due the celebration of Holy Week and the end of Lent, so here is a delicious and easy option. When will you have your Asian Dinner Night?

Enjoy!

Asian Orange Shrimp

Ingredients

2 egg whites

1/4 cup cornstarch or tapioca

2 tbsp sesame seeds

1 teaspoon coarse salt or kosher salt

1 1/2 pounds of  large raw shrimp peeled and deveined (11-15 per pound)

1/4 cup of canola or vegetable oil (more if needed several batches)

1 cup of fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)

2 tbsp of soy sauce

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Procedure

1.  In a bowl, whisk together egg whites, cornstarch, sesame seeds, and salt until frothy.

2.  Add shrimp and toss to coat evenly.

3.  In a large non-stick skillet heat 1/4 cup of oil over med-hi heat.

4.  Cook shrimp in small batches until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes each side).  Then, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Wipe skillet with a paper towel.

5.  Mix  orange juice, soy sauce, pepper flakes, sugar and ginger in a small bowl and add to same skillet.  Boil over med-high heat until reduced to about 1/3 cup  and you have a syrup-like liquid.

6.  Return shrimp to skillet, add scallions and stir to coat all shrimps with sauce for about 1 minute.  Serve with fried rice and edamame. Great with salads or to make a wrap.

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This vegetable lasagna is sometimes called Lasagna Fiorentina or Florentine.   My version does not have tomato sauce, it only has Bechamel Sauce.  I must tell you, the fresh basil fills the kitchen with an inviting and delicious aroma while the lasagna is baking in the oven.   It is important that you use fresh spinach and fresh vegetables to make the filling.  I like to bake it as soon as possible but you may freeze the lasagna for a later occasion, just make sure the lid is tightly closed to prevent freezer burn. My friend Linda is a pro at this technique in which she wraps the lasagna in plastic wrap first and then three times with foil paper before freezing.  Make sure you completely thaw the lasagna before you put in the oven. Great alternative for boat trips or no hassle family gatherings.   I consider this a complete meal but you can accompany with garlic bread, more veggies, steak, salad or rice.

Buon Appetito!

Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients

filling

drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

1 pound fresh spinach

2 carrots peeled and thinly sliced

1/4 cup onions finely chopped

1/4 cup of red bell pepper finely chopped

10 crimini (baby bella) mushrooms sliced

3 garlic cloves minced

1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce

1/2  tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

Béchamel Sauce (see recipe under sauces)

15 ounces ricotta cheese

2 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella

9 leaves of fresh basil

12 lasagna strips (boiled or oven ready)

12 1/2 x 8 1/2 (approx.) glass or clay baking pan

Procedure


1.  Sauté fresh spinach in a large sauce pan with drizzle of olive oil until it has wilted, stirring constantly (medium heat). At the beginning it will seem like a lot but, as it wilts you will end up with about a fifth of its original volume.

2.  Immediately, add vegetables, worcestershire sauce, oregano and salt and pepper.  Continue to sauté for about 7 minutes stirring continously.  You will end up with about 3 cups of veggies. Include the liquids. Set aside.

3.  Prepare Béchamel Sauce.

4.  Start assembling the layers of the lasagna by placing pasta (cooked or oven ready) in the bottom and spreading about 5 ounces of ricotta cheese with bottom of a spoon.

5.  Scoop one cup of cooked veggies and spread evenly with spatula or back of a large spoon.

6.  Pour 1/4 of Béchamel Sauce evenly over veggies and sprinkle about 1/3 of a cup of shredded mozzarella.

7.  Repeat steps 4, 5 and 6 two more times.

8.  For final layer spread place top lasagna strips and spread remaining Béchamel, basil and mozzarella cheese (in that order).  Cover with foil paper (not too tightly so that too much cheese doesn’t stick to it), or if you are using a clay/ceramic  pot with lid use the lid, and cook for approximately 30 minutes (or if the lasagna strips are oven ready, bake according to manufacturer instructions).  Remove foil paper and broil until cheese is golden brown.

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The word quiche derives from the german word “kuchen” which means cake.  The french of the Lorraine region adapted the original german version “Lothringer Speckkuchen” of a bread pie with eggs, cream and bacon by later adding gruyere cheese and a pastry crust to make the modern Quiche Lorraine.

I was given an onion and cheese quiche recipe at a cheese tasting course Emilio and I attended las December and have been experimenting with it ever since.  It was much easier than I expected and my friends and family love it.  Actually, this version is really called Quiche Alsacienne from the Alsace region in France.  The main difference from the Quiche Lorraine is the addition of onions to the filling. This dish is mainly served for breakfast or brunch. Here is my version of Quiche Alsacienne.

Bon Appetit!

Quiche Alsacienne

Dough

1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1/2 cup butter (cold)

3 tbsp water

Filling

2 tbsp butter

1 large thinly sliced onion

5 bacon strips (chopped)

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp kosher salt

pepper to taste

approximately 3 ounces of grated hard cheese (Comte, Gruyere, Cheddar or Manchego) note: depending on the grater (mine grates very thin) it is a little over 1 cup of grated cheese.

Procedure

1.  Sift flour and salt into a bowl.  Add cold butter cut into cubes and mix with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer ( you can also do it with your fingers or with a food processor) until the mixture resembles crumbs.  Add the water to make a firm dough. Knead the dough until smooth (add more water if you need to).  Wrap in clear film and chill in fridge for about 20 minutes.

2.  Roll out the dough (about 1/4 inch thick or less) on a lightly floured surface, big enough to line a 10 inch flan tin with a removable base .

fold pastry like this to safely place in middle of flan tin, then spread out to the sides


3.  Fold outer edges of dough in to be able to place the pastry in the middle of the flan tin without breaking or falling apart.  Press the pastry to the sides and let rise above the rim by about 1/2  an inch to allow for shrinkage.  Prick the pastry base with a fork a few times.

4.  Line pastry with foil paper and pie crust beads (or dried beans) and chill again for about 15 minutes.

5.  Preheat oven at 400º f.

6.  Place the flan tin on a baking sheet and bake “blind” or covered with the foil paper and beads for 15 minutes.  Remove the beads and foil and bake uncovered for 5 more minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºf.

7.  Meanwhile, make filling by melting butter in a large saute pan (medium heat).  Saute bacon for about 7-8 minutes until cooked  but not brown and crispy.  Add onion and  saute for about 8-10 minutes until cooked and caramelized.

8.  In a bowl, beat the egg with a whisk.  Add heavy cream and seasonings and continue to whisk until some bubbles form at the top.

9.  While still on the baking sheet, spoon onion mixture into cooked pastry and scatter.  Add grated cheese and pour egg-cream mixture slowly over the filling, making sure none spills over the edge of the pastry case.

10.  Cook for 35 minutes or until filling has just set.

11.  Remove from oven, let cool down and remove from flan tin.  Place on serving plate. Serve warm for breakfast or brunch.

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Adobo is an all purpose seasoning or rub that adds flavor to meats. It is used mainly in Puertorican cuisine.  There are other kinds of wet (marinades) and dry (rubs) adobos in Latin America and Spain. I like making my own adobo.  It is not hard at all, so give it a try.  The oregano I use I grow in my herb garden, dry it and ground it, but you can find ground oregano in the supermarket. This mix doesn’t include pepper but if you want you can add to taste.   This is my version of Adobo Criollo.

Enjoy!

Homemade Adobo

Ingredients

1/4 cup fine sea salt

1 tbsp powder garlic

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground oregano

Procedure

1.  In a small bowl mix all ingredients well.  Store  in a medium sized shaker in a dry place.

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There is no question that this side dish is the traditional Puertorican complement to white rice, fried plantains and sauteed beef tenderloin with onions (arroz blanco, habichuelas guisadas, tostones/amarillos, y bistec encebollado).  Of course, for purists of Puertorrican cooking this fast track version of “Habichuelas Guisadas” is a sacrilege (how dramatic!) because I am using canned beans (relax, I also have a recipe with dried beans).  However, some of you will agree with me that this quick and easy recipe is a lifesaver for busy parents, college students and professionals that forgot to soften the dried beans in water the night before. Sometimes I find organic canned pink beans.  If you want you may substitute the pumpkin with same amount of cubed potatoes or the chicken stock with good quality vegetable stock. Also, if you have some left overs, you can make “arroz mamposteado”  (sauteed white rice and beans).  My grandmother likes to add cubed ham (jamón de cocinar) to the “sofrito”.   I find my version pretty flavorful and tasty without the ham so its optional and depending on your preference.

Well, my mother and grandmother might not approve, but I think these beans turn out pretty awesome! Ja!

Enjoy!

Habichuelas Rosadas Guisadas Fáciles (Easy Stewed Pink Beans)

Ingredients

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves minced

1/4 cup cubanel green pepper (pimiento de cocinar) finely chopped

1/4  cup white onion finely chopped

1 recaito “ice cube” ( about 1 1/2 tbsp)

2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup tomato sauce

1  15 ounce can of pink beans (drained)

1 cup fresh pumpkin cubed

2 cups organic chicken broth

Procedure

1.  In a saucepan heat extra virgin olive oil.  Add garlic, pepper, onion and recaito. Sauté for about 5 minutes over medium heat.

2. Add salt and tomato sauce  to complete the “sofrito”. Sauté for about 3 minutes.

3.  Add beans and pumpkin and stir followed by chicken broth.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat for almost 20.  Stir occasionally and make sure there is enough liquid for beans not to stick to bottom of sauce pan.

4.  Serve over your choice of white or yellow rice.

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Béchamel sauce is one of the “mother sauces” in french cuisine. It is traditionally made by whisking scalded milk (milk heated up to 180º f )  gradually into a white “roux” (look for recipe under cooking basics). It is mainly used in French, Italian and Greek dishes. Also, used as the base for other sauces like Mornay sauce, which is Béchamel with Gruyére cheese or any other cheese. Croquettes, lasagnas, some french sandwiches among others, are some of the recipes that include Béchamel Sauce.

This is my version of Béchamel sauce.

Enjoy!

Béchamel Sauce

Ingredients

Roux (click here to go to cooking basics and find the roux recipe)

1 1/2 cup milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

pepper to taste

Procedure

1.  Prepare roux.

2.  Meanwhile, pour milk and heavy cream into a sauce pan and heat. Do not let milk and cream to boil, just warm up.

3.  Whisk scalded milk-cream mixture into roux.

4.  Add seasonings and use immediately.

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