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.