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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

How to Choose Quality Balsamic Vinegar





Buying balsamic vinegar is very similar to buying wine. The origin, quality of grapes, years of aging and how it was aged are all important factors which will determine the quality of the balsamic vinegar.
True balsamic vinegar Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar) is made by boiling white grapes (typically Trebbiano grapes) until they are reduced by about one third of their original volume. This concentrated grape mix is called grape “must”. This must is then fermented in a series of wood barrels. The concentrated must is then stored in a sequence of progressively smaller barrels made of different woods, which ferments and concentrates the flavors over many years. The must will reduce by approximately 10% each year through evaporation, becoming progressively more concentrated and complex. The dark color comes from the mixture coming into contact with the wood barrels.
Authentic, traditional balsamic vinegar has to be made from grapes that are grown in the Emilian-Romagna and Modena regions of Italy. By Italian law the vinegar must ferment for a minimum of 12 years in order to be allowed to be sold as “*Balsamico Tradizionale*”. The older (some are aged over 150 years), the better, but also much more expensive.
High-quality balsamic vinegars labelled as Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena) or Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Emilia) indicates it has been produced using traditional methods, as mentioned above. These traditional vinegars often come in a specially-shaped bottle which usually indicate that is has been extra-aged and is accepted by the Italian consortium — often designated DOC or Denominazione di orgine controllata numbered and sealed with a Seal of Guarantee. However, excellent producers bottle and sell their balsamic without the consortium’s label. The minimum indicator in the ingredients on a quality bottle of balsamic is grape must.
Cheaper, mass-produced ‘balsamic’ vinegar, often labelled as Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (Aceto Balsamico di Modena) is an inexpensive modern imitation of the traditional product. Imitation balsamic is often made with just wine vinegar, as opposed to grape must. There are also many non-traditional balsamic vinegars that are a blend of red wine vinegar and the must from a traditional balsamic vinegar. It may be aged but most times is not. Because these non-traditional vinegars are often stored in stainless-steel vats and there is generally no aging involved, they lack complexity and character. In an attempt to add flavor and complexity, this cheaper vinegar is mixed with additional coloring, caramel and sometimes thickeners like guar gum or cornflour — all in an attempt to artificially simulate the sweetness and thickness of the aged Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena. These imitation products are often sold at what appears to be bargain prices for balsamic vinegar, but they can also be priced ridiculously for simply sweetened, cheap wine vinegar.
When determining which balsamic vinegar to purchase, look for these indicators in the list of ingredients or on the bottle. These are listed in order of highest-quality/price to lowest.
Grape must, Tradizionale
Age should be minimum 12 years. This vinegar will be thick and have complex and sweet flavors. It is used as a finishing condiment — served with cheese or fruit, in desserts and as a special seasoning for steak and fish.
Grape must, vinegar
Age unknown. This vinegar has complex and medium-sweet flavors. It is used as a finishing condiment.
Grape must, vinegar, caramel
Little or no aging. This vinegar will be thin with a sweet-and-sour flavor. This is an all purpose vinegar.
Vinegar, caramel, artificial flavors
Little or no aging. This vinegar will be sour and thin. It is primarily used for deglazing or reducing down to make a balsamic reduction.
Depending on the brand, there are many variations when it comes to labeling, just keep in mind the order in which the ingredients are listed — if “must” is first, this is a good start.

How to Select Quality Olive Oil






Olive oil is the most praised ingredient in the Mediterranean diet and has been for thousands of years. It is recognized for its distinctive flavor and health benefits. Quality olive oil is just like quality wine, as much depends on the harvest crop, terrain and how it’s made. The best olive oils are made, much like wines, by harvesting olives at their peak, crushing them, then pressing the mash. The oil is separated from the run-off, filtered or unfiltered, then bottled—and all done on the estate where the olives came from. This artisan approach produces authentic, first- or cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil of the highest quality. It is also quite expensive.
To get more out of the first-pressed, leftover mash, machines are used along with solvents and heat to extract more oil and then expelled with a centrifuge. This refined product becomes a compromised version of the real deal. Its only advantage is its higher smoking point, and relatively cheaper price. However, these oils are bottled and often sold with deceiving labels, with words such as “Pure,” and even “Extra-Virgin”.
These are the indicators to look for on the label. The more indicators listed on the bottle, the higher the quality, nutritional value and flavor of the olive oil. Cold/First-Pressed, Extra-Virgin (estate-made) is the most expensive of olive oils.



First- or Cold-Pressed:
This indicates 100 percent of the oil has been extracted without steam or chemical treatment. Without this label, any percentage of the oil can be extra-virgin mixed with oil that has been treated.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil:
It must indicate first run-off or cold pressed, which means it is 100 percent extra-virgin. Without this indicator, it generally means that it is cut with another lesser quality oil, which is sometimes not even olive oil.
Estate-Made:
Like wines, estate-made means more artisan care and authenticity went into the making of the olive oil.
Unfiltered:
Estate-made olive oils are usually sold unfiltered to capture all of the oil’s complexity. Olive oil connoisseurs, like wine enthusiasts, do not mind a bit of sediment.
Certified Organic:
This label means the olives and trees themselves are as free of pesticides and herbicides as possible. These oils also tend to be unfiltered.
Acidity < 1%:
Ideally, acidity of less than 1 percent is desirable. Higher acidity levels mean a lesser crop of olives was harvested. This compromises the oil’s flavor and shelf life. If labels do not include acidity levels, it generally means they are higher than 1 percent.
D.O.P.: (this shows that the oil is truly from Italy) 
Olive oils from Italy which are marked D.O.P. mean they come from a particular region. This “denomination of origin” label is a guarantee that that the oil has been produced to meet the standards of the local government.
If the label is marked only with the following, it generally indicates a lower-quality olive oil.
Pomace Olive Oil:
Pomace is the oil extracted from the remaining mash from the first pressing of the crushed olives. This oil is 100 percent refined and treated and is usually the cheapest olive oil with little flavor. It is best used for frying.
Pure Olive Oil:
This is an undetermined blend of pomace and extra-virgin olive oil.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Steamed Lemon-Garlic Chicken with Thyme


  • 2 single chicken breasts
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 whole lemon
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp dry red chili flakes (optional)
  • extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

First, set up a steamer. Fill with one inch of water and place over medium-high heat. Refer to the lessons on Steaming for more information, if necessary.
Next, mince the garlic. Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the garlic and chili flakes, if using. Zest the lemon over top of each breast. Remove the leaves from the thyme and sprinkle over top.
Spray the basket lightly with oil or line it with perforated parchment. Place the chicken breasts into the basket.
Once the water comes to a simmer, place the basket over the water and cover with a lid.
Let the chicken steam for 5 to 10 minutes or until just cooked through.
Once done, remove from the steaming basket and plate. You can squeeze fresh lemon juice over top, along with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.
Serve with steamed baby potatoes or steamed kale.

Green Beans with Cambazola & Pine Nuts




  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 4 cups green beans
  • table salt (for parcooking)
  • 3 oz cambozola cheese
  • 1/4 tsp fleur de sel or grey salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)

To start, first toast the pine nuts in a small pan over medium low heat until lightly browned. Once done, remove from the pan and let cool slightly. Roughly chop.
Clean and de-stem the beans. You can also use French green beans for this dish.
To cook the beans, bring a large pot of water to a boil and then add the salt (about 1 tsp per liter/quart of water). Next, add the beans and cook until they are tender but still have a sight crunch to them. Drain the beans and place them into a large serving dish. Immediately add the chunks of cheese to the hot beans. Add the pine nuts and gently mix everything together until the cheese starts to melt. Lastly, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
You will love this salad. It is the three simple ingredients that make it: pine nuts, green beans and Cambozola.
To make this dish even faster to prepare, toast the pine nuts and clean/trim the beans in advance. You'll have it ready in no time.
These beans also make a great side dish that pairs extremely well with grilled meats.

Pancetta White Bean Soup with Crostini




Crostini

  • 1 whole French baguette
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp grey salt

To start the crostini, preheat the oven to 375° degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the baguette into 1/2" -inch slices and place the pieces onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Brush lightly with olive oil. Bake, oil side up, for 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly golden.
While the bread is cooking, peel the garlic and set aside. Once the bread is ready, lightly rub the oiled side with the raw garlic and while the bread is still warm, sprinkle with a little grey salt.

Soup

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 6 slices pancetta (or prosciutto, bacon or ham)
  • 2 - 28 oz cans whole tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (depends on saltiness of pancetta)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 - 19 oz cans cannellini or white beans
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce (optional)

To start the soup, first mince the garlic. Slice the pancetta into small strips. Dice the tomatoes and reserve the juice.
Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the oil and sauté the pancetta for a few minutes. Add the garlic and cook until it just starts to turn golden, about 30 seconds to a minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato juice and chicken stock. Then add the rosemary, Parmesan rind, salt and pepper and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the beans and bring just back to a simmer to heat the beans through.
Just before serving the soup, check and adjust the seasoning. Shred the lettuce. Place a small handful of lettuce in the bottom of a bowl and ladle the soup over top. Serve immediately with the garlic crostini.

Note: Save those leftover Parmesan rinds! Store them in a freezer bag and toss them into soups for added flavor.

Vegetable Stock



Vegetable stock is a healthy and delicious and be used as the base for many dishes, such as cooking whole grains or making a variety of soups.
Makes 3L Total Time 3 hours


  • 1 small celery root
  • 1 small kabocha squash
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 large onions
  • 3 leeks
  • 1 to 2 heads garlic (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed (or olive) oil
  • 1 oz dried mushrooms (optional)
  • 2 1/2 lb tomatoes
  • 12 oz corn on the cob (or corn kernels
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • Bouquet Garni Ingredients:
  • small bunch parsley
  • 10 to 15 sprigs thyme
  • 1/4 cup celery leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 to 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • sea salt (optional)

To prepare your mise en place, peel the celery root, kabocha squash, carrots and onions. Cut everything into approximately 1" -inch cubes.
Clean the leeks and slice into 1" -inch pieces. Cut the heads of garlic in half horizontally.
To roast the vegetables, preheat your oven to 400º degrees Fahrenheit (205º C). Line a large baking tray with parchment or aluminum foil.
In a large bowl, toss the celery root, kabocha squash, carrots and onions together with the oil and coat. Rub each half of garlic with oil and lay everything onto the baking sheet.
Roast the vegetables until they are nice and caramelized, tossing half way through to brown all sides. To prevent the garlic from developing bitter flavors, remove it from the tray once golden and just roasted.
During the last 10 to 15 minutes or so of roasting, add the leeks, being careful not to burn them.
You can build more flavor and body into the vegetable stock by adding a variety of ingredients (see notes below).
Core the tomatoes and roughly chop. Slice the corn on the cob into 1" -inch slices or measure out the corn.
Measure out the mushrooms and set aside.
Once the vegetables are roasted, heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
Once hot, add the oil, followed by the vegetables. Add the tomato paste, if using, and cook for a few minutes to bring out the flavor.
Add the mushrooms, corn and chopped tomatoes. Add cold water just to cover (plus about 2" -inches) and slowly bring to a gentle simmer.
Adding the Bouquet Garni:
While the stock is coming to a simmer, gather the bouquet garni.
Add the bouquet garni to the stock, along with a bit of salt, if desired (about 1/4 tsp per liter/quart of water). Let the stock simmer gently for approximately 1 1/2 hours.
Once the stock has simmered, strain, cool and defat, if necessary.
Use the stock in a variety of recipes or freeze it and store it for future use.

Notes:
Vegetable stock or broth can be made with nearly any combination of vegetables. Just keep in mind that strong-flavored vegetables, such as cabbage, eggplant, turnips or peppers can dominate the flavor, so these should typically be omitted.
Ingredients such as corn, or even corn cobs, add a buttery mouth-feel to the stock (basically what gelatin offers to meat stocks). Celery root and parsnips offer some bite; tomatoes and dried mushrooms (i.e., chanterelle, porcini, or shiitake) can offer great depth of flavor.
A wide variety of herbs and spices, such as tarragon or fennel seeds, can add more complex notes. Even experimenting with items such as sea weeds, dulse, or certain legumes such as chick peas and lentils can give surprisingly satisfying results.
Vegetables stocks, due to the lack of animal protein and fat, tend to last a bit longer in the refrigerator. An excellent vegetable stock can easily substitute chicken stock in almost all dishes, so don’t think of them as second rate at all.

Basic Court Bouillon




Court bouillon is a flavorful liquid in which to poach foods. This basic court bouillon can be used to poach seafood, fish and chicken

  • 5 cups cold water
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 leek (white part only)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns (white or black)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 sprig fresh parsley

To prepare the court bouillon, place the cold water and wine in a pot. Slice the celery into 1/8" -inch slices. Cut the leek in half, wash and thinly slice just the white part. Dice the onion and add everything to the liquid. Cut them lemon and squeeze in the juice. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns and salt and parsley and bring to a simmer. Once the liquid comes to a simmer, turn off the heat. Cover with a lid and let steep for about 30 minutes.
Once ready to use, transfer the poaching liquid to a suitable-sized pan in which to cook your food. Bring the liquid to the proper poaching temperature (between 160º to 180º degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the food is completely submerged and cook until it is done to your liking.

Note 
Don't let the fancy French name fool you. Court bouillon, which means "short broth" in French, is simply a flavorful liquid that is used to poach fish, seafood, chicken, and sometimes fruit. The liquid often contains water (however almost any liquid can be used) and usually an acid (such as wine, vinegar, or citrus). Aromatics, such as herbs, zest, and spices are often used to add flavor and personalize dishes.

Lemon Chicken with Pine Nuts and Olives




  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 whole lemon (zest of)
  • 4 whole chicken legs (backbone attached)
  • 1 rib celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 leek
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lb chicken bones (or use backbone attached to chicken legs)
  • 1/3 head garlic
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1/4 bunch parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 tbsp onion
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 1/3 cup green olives
  • 2 cups short stock (or dark chicken stock)
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 lemon (juice of)
  • 1 tbsp (heaping) honey
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

To marinate the chicken, pour the olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes and lemon zest into a large dish and stir to combine.
Prepare the chicken by first cutting off the backbone. Set the bones aside. Trim off any excess fat from the chicken and discard. Using the heel of a heavy knife, cut the bones into 2" -inch pieces. Refrigerate all of the bones for making the short stock later.
Coat the chicken in the marinade. Cover and place into the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or preferably overnight.

To prepare the short shock, start by roughly chopping the celery, carrots and onion. Clean and roughly chop the leek and set everything aside.
Heat a medium pot over high heat. Once hot, add the oil, followed by the bones. Let cook for a few minutes, without touching them, until you get a nice golden color. Be careful when turning, as the fat may splatter up. Let the bones caramelize on the other side. Then add the vegetables and garlic cloves. Let the vegetables cook for a few minutes. Once they start to color and soften, deglaze with the white wine. Once the wine has reduced, add the water, parsley, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring this to a very gentle boil, then turn down and let simmer for about an hour.
For a nice, clear stock, skim off any impurities while it's gently simmering. Make sure the stock doesn’t boil.

Preheat your oven to 350° degrees Fahrenheit. Place the pine nuts onto a tray and toast until golden, about 4 to 6 minutes. Once the pine nuts are done, set them aside and turn the oven up to 375° degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat a large, oven-proof fry pan over high heat. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Once the pan is hot, add the oil, and place the chicken skin-side down. Fry the chicken on the first side until golden brown. You may need to turn the heat down slightly. Season the backside with salt and pepper and once the chicken has nice color, turn it over. Place into the oven to finish cooking for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

To prepare the mise en place for the sauce, first grate the onion. By grating the onion, it will easily dissolve into the sauce. Grate the ginger right over the onion. Next, mince the garlic. Remove the pits from the olives and slice. Set everything aside, while you check the chicken.

Strain the stock and skim off any excess fat from the top, if there is any. Discard most of the fat from the fry pan. Place the pan over medium heat and add the onion, ginger and garlic. Scrape up any bits from the bottom and let cook for a few minutes or until soft and translucent.
Add the saffron and lemon juice. Let this reduce for a minute or so, again scraping up any bits. Add the chicken stock and let simmer until it has reduced by about half. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
Roughly chop the cilantro. Once the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly, add the honey, olives and pine nuts. Turn off the heat and add the butter. Taste for seasoning and add the chopped cilantro just before you are ready to serve.



Roasted Potatoes | Hasselback Potatoes




  • 2 lb small white potatoes
  • 2 to 4 tbsp non-dairy butter
  • 1 to 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • few sprigs of thyme or rosemary
  • 3 small bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C).
Note: When choosing the potatoes, try to make sure they are all roughly the same size.
Using a small pairing knife, cut each potato across the width, into about 1/4" -inch slices. Stop just before you reach the bottom, so the potato stays intact at the base.
Place the potatoes onto a tray.
Rub a bit of room temperature butter onto each potato. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss gently to coat. Season well with salt and pepper to taste.
Scatter a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary onto the surface of the potatoes and place a few bay leaves on top.
Place into the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until they start to slightly brown underneath.
Once the bottoms of the potatoes have browned slightly, flip them over and return to the oven for another 20 minutes or so, or until a knife inserted into the potatoes easily glides through.
To serve the potatoes, drizzle with any melted fat from the baking tray or with more extra-virgin olive oil.
Toss and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Transfer to a dish and serve immediately.

Roasted Cauliflower


Making the Dressing

  • 1 clove garlic
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp olive oil (or other oil of your choice)

To make the dressing, crush the garlic over a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Set aside while you prepare the cauliflower.

Preparing and Roasting the Cauliflower

  • 1 whole head cauliflower
  • Parmesan cheese* (optional)

To start the cauliflower, preheat your oven to 450° degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the large florets from the cauliflower and cut them into even-sized pieces. Any of the very large florets can be sliced in half. Place the cauliflower into the dressing and toss to coat.
To roast the cauliflower, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lay any flat pieces of cauliflower cut-side down, so they caramelize nicely. Roast for about 10 minutes before tossing. Return to the oven for about 3 or 4 minutes or until it is almost cooked through.
Once it is almost cooked through, grate some fresh Parmesan cheese over top, if desired. Place back into the oven for another minute or so, just to melt the cheese.

Notes

Keep in mind that the cauliflower will continue to cook, even after it comes out of the oven. When done, it should have a tiny bit of crunch to it. It should not be mushy.
Roasted cauliflower, whether it is served hot or cold, is delicious. It can be added to things such as salads, antipasto platters and frittatas. It can even be incorporated into soups.
Don't have any lemons on hand? Easily substitute the lemon juice with white wine or champagne vinegar.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts



  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts
  • 1 to 2 tbsp oil (grape seed or coconut)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C). Note: The sprouts can also be roasted higher at temperatures as high as 475°F, just note that the cooking time will need to be adjusted.
Wash, dry and trim the Brussels sprouts. Cut in half lengthwise. Place into a bowl and toss with the oil and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange cut-side down on a parchment-lined baking tray. Place into the oven and roast for 8 to 12 minutes or until golden, turning once, if necessary.
Once done, serve immediately.
Note: Fresh Brussels sprouts are nothing like frozen Brussels sprouts. Do not try to use frozen ones for this recipe because the excess moisture will prevent them from roasting properly.

Roasting time for vegetables


Basic Tomato Sauce



Ingredients


  • 1/2 medium onion (1 cup)
  • 4 large cloves of garlic
  • 4 - 28 oz (796 ml) cans whole tomatoes
  • 1 - 5.5 oz (162 ml) can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • pinch of kosher or sea salt
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste (optional)
  • 8 basil leaves (optional)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


To prepare your mise en place, finely dice the onions and émincé the garlic. Deseed the tomatoes by pushing them through a food mill or passatutto. Measure out the tomato paste and olive oil and set aside.
To make the sauce even thicker, drain the liquid from the whole tomatoes and pass only the whole tomatoes through the food mill or passatutto. Use the drained liquid in another dish.
To start the sauce, heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Then add the oil, followed by the onions. Next, add a pinch of salt and let the onions gently cook until they soften and just begin to turn a slight golden color.
Once they’re ready, add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute or so, just until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and let it gently cook for a few minutes until it becomes a shade darker. Then add the deseeded tomatoes and a good pinch of salt. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
Once the sauce has finished cooking, turn off the heat and taste for seasoning. To give the sauce an Italian flair, torn, fresh basil can be added, along with a splash of olive oil to finish.

Notes
Tomato sauce is one of the five mother sauces. This base can be varied with other herbs and spices.
Once the sauce has cooled, it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days or it can be frozen for several months. However, it may be a bit watery once it thaws, so it will need to be cooked down slightly when reheated.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Basic Egg Pasta Dough

Notes

Fresh pasta is best if eaten the same day it is made. However it will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator. Once shaped, it can be frozen for up to one month.
This makes approximately 3/4 lb of pasta, which will serve 2 to 3 people as a main or 3 to 4 as an appetizer.

  • 1 cup all-purpose (or double zero)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

To make the dough by hand:
Make a well on the counter with the flour. Then add the eggs and salt. Slowly incorporate the eggs until the mixture forms a ball.
Then bring together the dough together and knead for 5 to 10 minutes. Add additional flour as needed.
To make the dough in a food processor:
Add the flour and salt and pulse. Beat the eggs separately and then slowly add in the eggs, one teaspoon at a time. Once the mixture just starts to look like couscous, stop and remove from food processor.
Form into a ball and knead for 5 to 10 minutes on the counter top.

Once the dough is fully kneaded, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for about 30 minutes before rolling.

To roll the dough, flatten it slightly and roll through the widest setting about 10 times, folding the dough in half each time you pass it through. Sprinkle the rollers and dough lightly with flour if it happens to stick.
Next, run the dough through the rollers just once on each setting without folding. Keep rolling the dough until you reach the second to last setting. How far you roll out the dough will also depend on the dish you are making, and your pasta machine. If you desire ultra-thin pasta, you may want to roll the dough right through to the last setting. Once the dough has been rolled to the desired thickness, it must be covered immediately to prevent it from drying out.
If desired, you can run the pasta through the cutters of the pasta machine to make various shapes, such as linguini or fettuccini.

Hearty Homemade Minestrone

Preparing Your Mise en Place



  • 1/2 cup dried cannellini* beans (white kidney beans) (approx. 1 cup cooked)
  • 2 oz pancetta** (optional)
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup carrots (approx. 2)
  • 1/2 cup celery (approx. 2)
  • 1 1/2 cups onion (1 medium)
  • 1 - 15 oz can whole tomatoes

*If cooking dried beans from scratch, soak over night and cook them first. If using canned cannellini beans, drain and rinse with cold water and set aside.
**Note: For a complete plant-based (vegan) version of this soup omit the pancetta and use a vegan pesto and parmesan cheese, if desired.
To prepare your mise en place, finely dice the pancetta (if using). Mince the garlic lengthwise. Cut the carrots, celery and onion all into medium-dice pieces. Drain, seed and chop the tomatoes (the remaining juice can be used in another recipe). Set aside.
Note: De-seeding the tomatoes is optional, but it is highly recommended because the seeds can often be bitter.

Cooking the Soup


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 12 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 1/2 cups Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 medium)
  • 1 cup zucchini
  • 4 cups kale
  • 2 oz tubetti pasta (or 1/3 cup of other small, dried pasta)
  • salt (for cooking pasta)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To start the soup, heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-heat. Add the olive oil followed by the pancetta. Cook it until it is light-golden in color.
Add the carrots, celery and onion along with a pinch of salt. Sweat the mirepoix (you may have to turn the heat down slightly) for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables soften but do not brown. Add the garlic and cook until it starts to soften and release its aroma (do not let the garlic brown either).
Next, add the chopped tomatoes, bouquet garni and the parmesan rind, followed by the stock. Bring the soup to a simmer and let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Peel and cut the potatoes into medium dice and place into cold water. Dice the zucchini the same size.
Trim the kale from the stem and cut or tear the leaves into rough, bite-sized pieces. Wash and spin dry. Set aside.
Once the soup has simmered for about 15 minutes, start to cook the pasta in a pot of salted water. Add the pasta and cook until al dente
Bring a medium pot of cold water to a boil. Season with salt (about 1 teaspoon per liter/quart of water). .
Once the soup has simmered for about 15 minutes and you have started to cook the pasta, add the potatoes to the soup. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes then add the zucchini and beans, followed by the drained, al dente pasta. Season to taste.
Add the kale and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Season the soup again with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnishing and Serving the Soup


  • pesto (optional)
  • grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

To serve the soup, ladle it into warm bowls. Garnish with a dollop of pesto and top with Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately.