Monday, June 27, 2011

Sorbetto ai Frutti di Bosco

One of my favorite flavors of sorbetto (sorbet/sherbet) is fruitti di bosco, which translates to "fruits of the woods".  This is a common combination in Italian desserts bringing blueberries, currants, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries together in an intense flavorgasm.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any currants handy so they had to be omitted.  No matter, the other berries carried their weight just fine.

  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 pint blackberries
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1/2 pint strawberries
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 T corn syrup
  • In a small pot on medium-low heat, dissolve the sugar into the water making a simple syrup.
  • Clean and dry all berries and put them in a blender on high speed until finely pureed.
  • Strain berries into a large bowl using a fine mesh strainer.  You will need to gently coax the juices through the sieve with a rubber spatula.
  • Mix in the corn syrup.
  • Pour the berries into an ice cream maker and continue to follow the instructions specific to your machine.
  • Transfer to a more properly sized container with a lid and transfer to the freezer.
  • Best when frozen for a few hours (or overnight), but if you prefer a softer slush, sneak a few scoops out early.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Granola Bars

DISCLAIMER:  This post is 90% recycled material (see Granola).  However, I feel that putting the granola into bar form provides a significant enough transformation in texture and function that it warrants its own post.  Similar to the Granola post, you are free to experiment with the mix-ins.  I have updated the list of mix-ins to show a couple new combos I use frequently when making granola in bar form.


  • Old fashioned oats
  • Honey
Mix-In Combination Suggestions
  • Chopped dates, blueberry-infused Craisins, slivered almonds
  • Brown sugar, raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a glass baking dish of whichever size you prefer, pour out an even layer of oats 1/4" thick.
  3. Transfer the oats to a large mixing bowl.
  4. Toss in your mix-ins.
  5. Add a splash of water and mix.
  6. Add enough honey (in multiple parts) so that the granola begins to stick together but is not saturated and runny.
  7. Line the baking dish with parchment paper ensuring there is enough to run up the sides as well.
  8. Dump the granola mixture into the pan and spread with a fork or spatula.
  9. Compress the granola with a rubber-edged scraper (like this one) so that it has an even thickness throughout the entire dish.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes or so.  The granola may begin to brown slightly (but only slightly).  Be careful not to let it get too brown as this will cause your bars to harden beyond edibility once they have cooled.
  11. Pull the granola from the pan using the parchment paper and cut into bars immediately.
  12. Best served warm, but also tasty once cooled.

Mango Habanero Chutney

Habanero chilies are spicy beasts.  However, even with two whole peppers in this recipe, I thought a couple more wouldn't have hurt.  The recipe as it is has a good tang to it, but it won't peel the skin off your face.  If you need more heat, throw a couple more chilies in and have a good cry the following morning.

Chutney has many uses.  I like to cook up some chopped chicken (lightly seasoned with black pepper) and mix with some chutney, served over rice.  You can also mix chutney with cream cheese and use it as a dip.  Traditionally, it is served on the side as an accompaniment to the meal.

  • 1/2 t. whole cumin seeds
  • 10 - 12 whole cloves
  • 2" cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 2 green (unripe) mangoes
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 3 large bulb green onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c. white vinegar
  1. In a shallow pan, dry fry (toast) the cumin, cloves and cinnamon until fragrant.
  2. If you don't want whole spices in your finished product, grind the cumin and cloves in a mortar and pestle.
  3. Add the oil and reduce heat to low, allowing the spices to infuse with the oil for 10 - 15 minutes.
  4. Peel and dice the mangoes into a medium pot.
  5. Mix in the sugar and salt.  Set to the side and let the mango juices seep out a bit.
  6. Halve and thinly slice the onions and add them to the pot with the garlic.
  7. Put the pot on the stove at medium to medium-high heat, adding the vinegar as well.
  8. Bring to a soft boil for a couple minutes.
  9. Add the infused oil to the pot.
  10. Reduce to a simmer for a good hour or so, stirring intermittently to ensure that the bottom of the pot doesn't burn.
  11. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  12. Seal in an air-tight container and refrigerate for a couple days before using.  This will let the flavors meld even further.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Stir-Fry of the Teriyakalypse

The end is nigh and all should welcome the impending apocalypse with open arms and full stomachs!  I declare apocalypse... NOW!  I said... APOCALYPSE, NOW!  Ok... now?  What about... nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnow!  My watch must be on heathen time because I see no signs from the skies suggesting the faithful masses have been taken into an eternity paved in gold and littered with winged, harp-playing minstrels.  Too bad, it's getting a bit crowded down here.

So if you're still here (and you are, duh), you have survived the end of days as predicted by the prophet of Senility.  You may go about your life as normal.  In fact, you are probably a bit peckish, having fasted or whatever people do to prepare for the world's end.  Now, all cynicisms aside (probably not), I present to you... Stir-Fry of the Teriyakalypse!  A dish that has more relevance to the demise of our dear Mother Earth than the many flavors of Apocalypticism and its teachings (and that is to say, none at all).

  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1 t. red pepper flakes (or more if you yearn for the eternal flame)
  • 1/8 c. Soy sauce
  • 1/8 c. White vinegar
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 - 3 small leek bulbs and stems (remove the leaves)
  • 1 lb. thin stir-fry style beef
  • 3/4 lb. assorted funghi (shiitake, oyster and beech used here)
  • 1 T butter
  1. In a sauté pan on medium heat, dry roast the sesame seeds until lightly browned and aromatic.
  2. Add the red pepper flakes, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and garlic.
  3. Stir frequently for a few minutes until the flavors have melded to your liking.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  5. Chop up the beef into bite-sized chunks and throw into a bowl.
  6. Thinly slice the leeks and mix with the beef.
  7. Once the marinade has cooled to room temperature, mix well with the beef, seal the bowl and place it in the fridge for a few hours.
  8. (Fast forward a few hours).
  9. Trim and clean the mushrooms and set aside.
  10. Heat up a wok with a touch of oil and toss in the marinated beef mixture.
  11. Stir frequently until beef is browned.
  12. Remove the meat from the wok and set aside, leaving the juices behind.
  13. Toss in the mushrooms and sauté until tender.
  14. Add the butter to thicken the sauce.
  15. Return beef to the wok and toss ingredients together.
  16. Remove from heat and serve with a side of white rice.
I know this isn't nearly as exciting as the decimation of Terra Madre, but I'd say it's a relatively close second.  I was really hoping to see the streets fill up with frogs, too.  Bummer.  Oh well, there's always next year.  Let's go Mayans!

Friday, April 15, 2011


This is nowhere near as good as the cassoulet we had in Montmartre, Paris, but it's good enough.  If you are lucky enough to have some good quality beef stock handy (Becky brought some home from work and it worked very well for this recipe), that is preferable.  Otherwise, bouillon will suffice.  Also, make sure that you use a dry wine - you don't want this to end up too sweet.  If all goes well, you will end up with a dish that looks like chili and tastes like awesome.

  • 2 c. dried white beans (like Great Northern)
  • 1.25 lb. fresh sausage, chopped
  • 1.5 red onion, minced
  • Handful sage
  • Small handful thyme, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 - 2.5 c. dry white wine
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 3 c. beef stock
  1. Boil the beans in water for a couple minutes, then cover and remove from heat.  Let the beans sit for an hour or so.  They will nearly double in size.
  2. After the beans have set, combine the sausage, onion, sage, thyme and garlic in a large pot on medium-high heat.  Stir occasionally until sausage cooks through and onions become tender.
  3. Add the wine while scraping the bottom of the pot to remove any stuck pieces.  There should be enough wine to completely cover the solid contents.  Let this simmer for a few minutes.
  4. Mix in the tomato paste and beef stock.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 1.5 hours or until beans are super tender.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pici alla Salsiccia e Porcini

There is a common pici dish served in Tuscany that has a sauce consisting primarily of sausauge (salsiccia) and porcini mushrooms.  This isn't that recipe - at least not exactly.  In her studies at the local culinary school, Becky has on multiple occasions told me about this amazing pici with a sausage and porcini sauce.  I figured this was as good a time as any to try to duplicate it now that fresh porcini are in season and are readily available at the grocery store and fruttivendoli (fruit and vegetable vendors).  So here it is, my non-traditional-but-still-good recipe inspired by rumors of awesomeness.

  • 4 links fresh Italian sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 - 5 medium porcini mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1 lb. fresh pici pasta (linguine will work too)
  1. Crumble and brown the sausage in a large sauté pan.
  2. Add the garlic and porcini, sauté for a few minutes.
  3. Add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon (deglazing).
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.  Note that since this flavors for "sauce" come primarily from the delicate balance of salty sausage and savory porcini, I didn't feel it necessary to add additional salt.  The sausage supplements the porcini just fine on its own.
  5. Reduce heat to healthy simmer for a few minutes until the porcini are cooked and the wine has reduced about halfway.
  6. Mix cooked-to-al-dente pici pasta into the sauce and serve immediately.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Buffalo Wings and Gorgonzola Dip

Apparently a big sporting event season has begun in the Midwest (as I have been informed by so many Facebookers).  I do miss this time of year, not so much for the grand foosball shenanigans and goings ons so much, but for the food that is always floating around at such events.  One of my favorite junky appetizers is Buffalo wings.  It has been so long since I have been able to walk over to B-dubs to order a plate full of wings and drummies deep fried in goodness and slathered with Blazin' hot sauce (I don't miss the bathroom trips that inevitably followed, though...oh, the pain...).  So not to be left out, I made up this quick recipe to hold me over until I can gorge myself in the discomfort of a sports bar.  Best thing about this recipe: no need to know the difference between a midsider and a shortbacker!  Yay sports terminology!

  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 t. red pepper powder
  • 12 chicken wings and drummies
  • 1/4 c. beer
  • Tobasco
  • 8 oz. Gorgonzola cheese (although bleu cheese is preferable)
  • 4 oz. plain Greek-style yogurt
  1. Combine the flour and red pepper in a mixing bowl, salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Dredge the chicken pieces through the flour mixture and set aside.
  3. After all chicken pieces are coated, add the beer and a good amount of Tobasco (I use ~1/3 of a bottle), mixing thoroughly.
  4. Dredge the chicken through the batter and transfer immediately to an oiled frying pan.
  5. When the chicken has browned on all sides, reduce the heat and cover for an additional 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, melt the cheese in a small pan on low heat and mix in the yogurt.
  7. Transfer the cooked chicken to a paper towel-covered plate and dab off the excess oil.
  8. Give the chicken another healthy dousing of Tobasco and serve immediately with the Gorgonzola dip.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Broccoli Soup

It's still far too hot here to be making soup, but it sounded really good so I made it anyway.

  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 head broccoli, trimmed and chopped (stalk included)
  • 1/4 lb. Asiago cheese (although Cheddar is preferable)
  • 1 c. Greek-style yogurt (or cream)
  • 1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Put the carrots and onion in a pot on medium-high heat with some extra virgin olive oil.
  2. After a few minutes, add the broccoli and enough water to cover the veggies by an inch or two.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover the pot.
  5. When the broccoli is very tender, remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender.
  6. Break up the cheese and mix into the soup.
  7. Return pot to heat and simmer for a while (maybe half hour or so), stirring occasionally.
  8. Remove from heat and mix in the yogurt and parsley.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beef Stroganoff

This recipe is lacking the standard sour cream flavors, but it tastes just fine without it.  If you have sour cream, you can add it in with the cream.

  • Beef scraps (bones, fat, odd chunks of meat)
  • 2 red onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 T whole black peppercorns
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 lb. beef, cut into thin strips
  • 10 large Champignon mushrooms
  • 1 c. cream
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. noodles
  • Brown the beef in a pot on medium-low heat with extra virgin olive oil, one onion (quartered), garlic and peppercorns.
  • The onion and garlic should be tender by the time the beef is browned.  The juices will also start to supplement the olive oil in the pan.  At this point, add the tomato paste and mix thoroughly.  Cook until the paste browns.
  • Add some parsley stems and a few cups of water to the pot, heat to soft boil, then reduce to a simmer for a couple hours (or more if you have time).
  • Remove the stock from heat and strain.
  • Dredge the beef strips through flour (shaking off excess), then brown them in some extra virgin olive oil.
  • Remove from the pan when browned and set aside.
  • In the same pan, sauté the other onion (minced).
  • Add the mushrooms (sliced) and parsley (chopped) and simmer until they are nice and glazed over.
  • Optionally, add a splash of brandy (if it's handy).
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the stock to the pan and simmer for a while, letting the stock reduce.
  • Make a roux out of butter and flour and add it to the sauce (a little at a time) to thicken it up.
  • Add the beef strips to the sauce.
  • Mix in the cream and more roux, if necessary.
  • Serve over noodles.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs

If you ask someone for an example of authentic Italian food you are likely to receive a list of items similar to the following:
  • Pizza
  • Fettucini alfredo
  • Bread sticks
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Anything else off the Olive Garden and Fazoli's menus
Well I am sorry to say that none of these (well, OK pizza is pretty prominent around these parts) are what Italians would consider authentic dishes.  Sure they may be based (however loosely) around Italian cuisine but if you come here and ask for fettucini alfredo with a side of cheesy bread sticks you'll probably just end up with a basket of bread, a bottle of olive oil and an exasperated cameriere.  The best advice I can offer to anyone who will ever travel to foreign countries (and not just to Italy) is to not let the stereotypes drive your vacation (especially when it comes to the food).  You're in a new place, try new things!


That said, if you still like the items in the list above (and who doesn't long for Fazoli's fettucini alfredo and unlimited bread sticks?!), you're in luck.  The recipe below is for simple meatballs and an even simpler spaghetti sauce.  All you need is a little time and a bottle of red.

  • 3/4 lb. ground beef
  • 3/4 lb. ground pork
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 handful fresh parsely, finely chopped
  • 1/2 t. red pepper flakes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. Chianti
  • 12 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 8 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small handful basil, chopped
  1. Mix well the meats, onion, garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes in a large bowl (salt and pepper to taste).  I would recommend using a fork or spatula during the mixing stages because the colder the meat stays, the better it will roll.
  2. Break the eggs directly into the bowl and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add the breadcrumbs a little bit at a time, mixing between additions until you have a workable product.
  4. Pinch off small chunks of the meat mixture and roll into 1/2" balls.
  5. Lightly dredge each meatball through flour.
  6. Heat a large sauté pan with a good amount of extra virgin olive oil.
  7. Carefully add the floured meatballs to the pan and brown on all sides.
  8. A few minutes after you have browned the last meatballs, add the Chianti and gently move the wine around the pan coating the meatballs evenly.
  9. At this time, drop in the tomatoes and basil, mix gently and reduce the heat to a simmer.  You may want to add a cup of water (or so) to the pan to allow the sauce to permeate the meatballs.
  10. Once the sauce has thickened to the desired consistency, remove it from heat and serve immediately over spaghetti or any other noodle you deem appropriate.

Chili Pepper Pork with Seasonal Vegetables

Round up a few seasonal veggies and toss them together in a quick stir fry to make this dish complete.

  • 1/2 lb. pork loin, cubed
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes in sauce (or fresh if available, with added tomato sauce)
  • Small handful asparagus, cleaned and quartered
  • 1 round zucchini, cut into large pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large pieces
  1. Dredge the cubed pork through the flour and pepper to taste.
  2. Sauté the pork in a pan with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and cook through.
  3. Add the tomatoes to the pork and reduce heat to simmer.
  4. In a wok or another pan, toss the vegetables with a bit of oil and a smattering of black pepper and red pepper flakes, salting to taste.
  5. Remove the veggies from the pan when they reach their desired tenderness (I prefer mine to have some crunch to them so I sauté them for five minutes or so).
  6. Remove the pork and veggies from their respective pans and serve over rice.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spätzle with Caramelized Onions, Basil and Mozzarella

We spent some time in Germany a couple weeks back visiting some friends and had some amazing German meals.  One of my favorite dishes from Germany is spätzle, which is a type of egg pasta.  What is special about spätzle is that it doesn't really have a strictly defined shape, but rather its own shaping style.  This is hard to see if you buy the dried, mass-produced spätzle from the store, but if you watch a professional (e.g. a German grandmother - unfortunately I did not get to witness this, but Becky did), it will all make sense.  Spätzle isn't a "dry" dough pasta like that of many Italian styles, but rather more of a thick batter style.  If you have a spätzle making utility, you can use that to shape the noodles.  Otherwise I would suggest the German grandmother way of using a potato ricer.

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten well
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • Butter
  • 1 small bunch basil, finely chopped
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, chopped
  1. Start by caramelizing the onions in a small pan.  These will take a while so you can proceed with the spätzle-making in the meantime.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, eggs and milk together.  This should form a thick batter.
  3. Heat a large pot of water to boiling.
  4. Place a portion of the dough/batter into the potato ricer squeeze it into the pot of boiling water.  The spätzle will probably stick together, but you can break it apart in the pot after it has cooked for a couple minutes or so.
  5. The spätzle will rise to the top of the pot when it is fully cooked.  Transfer the cooked spätzle to a colander to drain the excess water, then to a large bowl with a bit of butter to prevent the pasta from sticking together.  Do this until all of the dough/batter has been spätzle-ized.
  6. When the onions are nice and caramelized, toss the spätzle into a pot on medium-low heat with the basil and mozzarella.
  7. Mix gently until the cheese is melted and fully incorporated.
  8. To serve, layer the onions on top of a generous helping of cheesy spätzle.  Sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top with a few small basil leaves.
  9. Guten Appetit!

Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Porcini and Seasonal Vegetables

Porcini mushrooms are in season!  I've never personally cooked anything with them, but figured I'd give it a shot by starting simple.  Porcini have a lot of flavor when left alone, so I simply sautéed them in local extra virgin olive oil and enjoyed the fungus in its natural savoriness.  I cooked the chicken and veggies in the same pan for this dish - partly because we only have two pans (one huge, one tiny) and partly because it helps the flavors meld together.  If you like to separate the meats from the veggies, by all means use separate pans.

  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flakes
  • 2 - 3 chicken breast fillets, pounded flat
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Small handful asparagus, cleaned and quartered
  • 1 small round zucchini, cut in large pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in large pieces
  • 1 fresh porcini mushroom, sliced
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 c. white wine
  • 1/2 t. butter
  1. Mix together the Parmesan, flour, red pepper flakes and some freshly ground black pepper on a large plate.
  2. Dredge the chicken through the cheese mix, then through the egg, then through the cheese mix again.
  3. Carefully place the dredged chicken into a large sauté pan with extra virgin olive oil on medium high heat.
  4. If your chicken is thin, it will cook very quickly so keep an eye on it.  When the first side browns, flip it right away.
  5. Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a paper towel lined plate to drain the excess oil.
  6. Toss the veggies into the still-hot pan and sauté to the desired crunchiness.
  7. While the veggies are cooking, heat a small sauté pan with some extra virgin olive oil and toss in the sliced porcini.
  8. A couple minutes before you remove the veggies from the pan, squeeze some fresh lemon juice onto them and give them a good toss or two.
  9. Once the veggies have been transferred out of the pan, add the wine and butter and lower the heat to medium-low.
  10. Scrape the good stuff from the bottom of the pan and add the chicken.
  11. The porcini shouldn't take too long to cook so they may be ready for transfer at this point.  What I did was transferred them to the chicken pan so they could soak up a bit of the wine sauce before transferring them to the serving plate.
  12. Once the chicken, porcini and veggies are plated, give the plate a quick zesting with the lemon.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mozzarella Fritta

I was revisiting my eggplant parmesan recipe last night so I had the flour/egg/breadcrumbs assembly line all laid out on the table when Becky had an ingenious idea - let's make some mozzarella sticks!  So we did and they turned out pretty good.  We used fresh mozzarella in brine for ours so that is what I would definitely recommend (fresh mozzarella is always better than the dried, shrink-wrapped variety anyway).  However, if you only have the non-fresh kind available, it should still work.

  • 1 mozzarella ball, in 1/4" slices
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 egg, beaten well
  • 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
  1. Dredge the mozzarella pieces through each of the coatings starting with flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.
  2. Heat a pan with a generous amount of frying oil until the oil is hot.
  3. Carefully drop the breaded mozzarella pieces into the pan, flipping them after a minute or two.
  4. When fully cooked through, move the mozzarella pieces to a paper towel-covered plate to drain the excess oil.
  5. Season to taste and serve with marinara arrabiata or your dipping sauce of choice.

Marinara Arrabiata

There are probably just as many marinara recipes out there as there are people in the world who have ever made the sauce.  This is a very versatile (spicy) tomato sauce that goes well with pastas, chicken and seafood.  Alternatively, use it as a dipping sauce with appetizers such as mozzarella fritta (homemade mozzarella sticks).

  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 c. red wine
  • Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 T red pepper powder, or to taste
  • 1 t. rosemary
  • 1 jar crushed tomatoes
  • 1 jar tomato puree
  1. In a stock pot, add a generous amount of good extra virgin olive oil and bring to medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and garlic to the pot and sautee until tender.
  3. Add the wine and sautee until the onions have sweetened.
  4. At this point, you may add the remaining ingredients and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Let the pot simmer for half an hour or so.
  7. Using a food processor or stick blender, puree the sauce and return it to the heat for a few more minutes.
  8. This sauce will keep well in the fridge for a week or so.