Category Archives: Cooking

Pesto, Pesto, Pesto!!!

My dad let me thin out his homegrown basil so naturally I had to make pesto sauce with homemade Italian sausage. The pesto recipe is as follows, but you’ve got to check out my dad’s Web site for his Italian sausage recipe.

I use Marcella Hazan’s blender pesto recipe, but tweak it depending on what ingredients I’m lacking. After several taste tests, my dad and I have concluded that if you can’t afford pine nuts at $30 a pound, subbing shelled pistachios does not drastically alter the flavor the way walnuts do. It’s actually quite tasty with pistachios. I can’t really tell the difference.

Pesto sauce — good for about 1.5 lbs. pasta

Ingredients:
4-6 cups fresh basil, stems removed
3/4 – 1 cup olive oil (I start with less and add more if necessary)
1/4 cup pine nuts or peeled pistachios
3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with a chef’s knife
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup freshly graded Pecorino Romano cheese (sub more Parm if you don’t have this)
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled to room temp.

Directions:
With a blender or food processor, blend the olive oil, pine nuts and garlic till combined. Slowly add the basil till well blended. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the cheeses. When butter is cooled, add to sauce. If a little thick, add more olive oil.

Make the sauce while the pasta is cooking.
Yum!

Chicken Parmesan

No picture, but a good way to use chicken breasts in a tasty way. Serves 3-4
Use my Meatballs Recipe but substitute 2 chicken breasts. Roughly chop the chicken and put into the food processor till ground. Form into 3 or 4 big flat patties. Dredge in bread crumbs and fry in a large sautee pan with hot vegetable oil for a few minutes on both sides. If center isn’t quite cooked, microwave for a couple of minutes. Smother in marinara sauce!

Big Batch of Chili

I like it spicy!

Ingredients (all spices are eyeballed):
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, chopped
1 anaheim pepper, chopped
1-2 TBS cumin
2 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 14-oz. can chopped tomatoes with green chilies
1 can chili beans with flavored sauce
1 can white beans, drained but not rinsed
1/2 cup beef broth
1 zucchini, diced

Directions:
Brown the beef over medium high heat. Don’t drain the fat. Add the onion and peppers and saute till onions are soft. Add the garlic and spices and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, broth and beans and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat and cook until you’re too starving to wait any longer. Add the zucchini ten minutes before serving. Zucchini is optional. Top with shredded sharp cheddar and a dollop of sour cream.

I think this is South Beach Diet friendly!

Quinoa stir fry

Liquid ingredients are approximate

Ingredients:
1 cup raw quinoa, cooked according to package
1 crown fresh broccoli, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 carrot, julienned
1 cup cooked edamame without the pods
1 brick of extra firm tofu
2 scallions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 TBS corn starch
2 TBS cooking oil
1 TBS sesame oil
2 tsp chili garlic paste
2 tsp seasoned rice vinegar

Directions:
Drain the tofu and slice it in half like a hamburger bun. Place in a pie pan lined with paper towels. Place a paper towel on top and weigh a heavy pan on top to press out the liquid. Let rest for 10 minutes. Drain off excess liquid and chop tofu into bite size pieces. Heat the broccoli in the microwave with a small amount of water in a plastic wrap-covered bowl for 1.5 minutes.
Heat cooking oil in a large saute pan over high heat. When oil starts to shimmer, add the tofu and brown on all sides. Drain the oil. Add the carrot, scallion, garlic, broccoli, edamame and sesame oil. Toss to coat. Add the cooked quinoa, soy sauce, corn starch, chili garlic paste and vinegar and toss till thoroughly coated. Add more soy sauce if necessary to create a good glazed sauce.

Brown Rice with Pesto and Peas

Ingredients:
1.5 cups uncooked brown rice
2.5 cups boiling water
1 TBS butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 TBS olive oil
1.5 cups frozen peas
1/4 cup pesto
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

Directions:
Make brown rice according to Alton Brown’s Recipe. Ten minutes before rice is done, steam the peas in a small saucepan. Drain when they are just hot. Saute onions in olive oil over medium heat till soft. Add the garlic and lightly brown. Add the rice, cheese, peas and pesto and toss till rice is coated.

Whole wheat linguine with creamy sauce and peas

Ingredients:
3/4 pounds whole wheat linguine
1 cup of frozen peas
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil
2 tsp italian seasoning
several shakes of red pepper flakes
3 TBS fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 of a block of cream cheese
1/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook till al dente. Add the frozen peas at the end of the pasta’s cooking time just to heat them up a little. Meanwhile, heat up butter and oil in a large pan over medium low heat. Add the garlic, italian seasoning and pepper flakes and slowly brown the garlic. Drain the pasta and peas and add directly to large pan. Turn up the heat, add all the other ingredients and toss till pasta is fully coated.

Homemade Sushi

I’ve really got to start taking photos before I eat the food. I’m just so hungry!

Makes about 2 rolls of sushi plus extra for hand rolls
Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked short grain white rice, cook according to directions
1 TBS seasoned rice vinegar (or rice vinegar plus 1 tsp. sugar)
1/4 pound imitation crab (the kind that’s 80% snow crab so it tastes better and is CHEAP)
1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
1 TBS mayo
2 green onions, finely chopped
3 sheets of nori
Soy sauce
Wasabi (optional)
sushi mat, preferably wrapped twice in plastic wrap

Cook the rice and when it’s done, spread it thin on a foil-lined cookie sheet so it cools faster. Sprinkle the vinegar and mix in with a spoon. When cool to the touch, it’s sushi time!
Shred up the crab and mix it with the mayo.
Place a sheet of nori on the sushi mat so the lines on the nori are horizontal. The nori should be flush against the bottom of the mat. Wet your hands so the rice doesn’t stick like crazy and grab a handful of it. Spread it all over the nori except for the top inch. Don’t need to lay it on thick, but make sure it goes up to all three of the other edges.
If you’d like wasabi in the sushi roll, spread a small line across the lower part of the nori. Place the crab in a line on the bottom third of the nori, (like a joint?) Place avocado up against the crab. Sprinkle green onions on top.
Wet your fingers and run them along the non-rice part of the nori, at the top.
Use your index fingers to secure the filling and your thumbs to pick up the lower edge of the mat and nori. Begin to roll the sushi up. Once it reaches your index fingers, start lifting the mat away from the nori as you continue to roll. When you get all around, roll the sushi back and forth, pressing gently. Remove from mat. Cut into eight pieces using a wet chef’s knife.
Serve with soy sauce. YUM YUM.

Meatballs with red sauce

Most measurements are eyeballed.

Makes 35 meatballs
Ingredients:
Two slices of white bread put through the food processor into coarse crumbs. Soak these in milk for a few minutes and squeeze out milk.
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 – 1/2 onion, chopped finely
1 tsp. porcini powder (optional)
1 TBS dried basil
1 TBS dried parsley
1 TBS tomato paste
2 tsp dried oregano
a couple of dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
splash of red wine
salt and pepper
a couple of shakes of pepper flakes (that rhymes!)

Mix all the ingredients with the flat beater of the kitchen aid standing mixer, or just use your hands!

Bake in a casserole dish in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes. Drain excess fat, top with marinara sauce and sprinkle with mozzerella cheese. Put back in oven till cheese is melted.

Note: I ran out of wine and bread last night so I used dried bread crumbs and added a splash of milk to the mix plus a little extra Worcestershire sauce.

Marinara Sauce
Ingredients:
1 TBS olive oil (a couple of quick glubs in the pot)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 can large can crushed tomatoes (24 oz?)
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
red pepper flakes or one dried red hot pepper
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp tomato paste

I open the can and put all the ingredients minus the garlic and oil in the can. That way I can dump everything in at once when it’s ready.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium/high heat. Toss in garlic and cook till lightly browned. Add all the other ingredients and simmer till meatballs are ready.

Cream of Porcini Mushroom Soup

Serves about 5
Ingredients:
2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
6 oz. fresh button mushrooms
6 oz. fresh cremini mushrooms
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup white wine
1 teaspoon porcini powder (optional; found at specialty spice shops)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
liberal amount of freshly ground pepper
1 cup half and half
3 tablespoons fresh italian parsley, chopped

In a small saucepan, add the dried mushrooms and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, turn heat to med/low and simmer 20 minutes. Blend with a hand blender or transfer to a blender.
Remove the stems from the fresh mushrooms and give them about 6 pulses in a food processor (till well chopped). Slice the caps.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the caps and stems. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the mushrooms’ liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.
Add the wine and scrape up the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and add the porcini/stock mixture, the porcini powder, the thyme, salt and pepper. Let simmer on med/low heat for 10 minutes.
Add the half and half and the parsley and let simmer 10 minutes.
Serve with warm crusty bread.

Baked brie with pistachios, honey and apples

Ingredients:

1/4 wedge of brie
small handful of shelled pistachios, crushed with the flat side of a chef’s knife
honey
apple slices
crackers
Directions:
Drizzle some honey on the brie and sprinkle pistachios on top. Place in toaster oven and bake at 350 till brie is soft and oozy. 10 minutes or so?
Drizzle a little more honey on top and serve with apple slices and crackers.