Monday, August 31, 2009

Grilled Tuna Steak on White Bean Puree

All of the cooking for this recipe can be done on the grill, making it a good choice for those hot days when you don't want to heat up the kitchen.

Gilled Tuna Steak on White Bean Puree
Serves 2
1 can white beans (I used Cannellni, but other white beans will work) drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs olive oil plus oil for white beans
2 Tuna Steaks
Juice from 1/2 lemon
10 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 red bell pepper to roast or 1 from a jar
3 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

Get your grill going, while it is heating up mix 1 tbs olive oil and lemon juice in a plastic bag. Add tuna steaks to bag and them marinade. Take the pepper and place it on the grill grate. Turn it as each side get blistered. After the pepper is blistered remove from grill and put in a bowl with plastic wrap over the top. The steam from pepper will make it easy to peel the black skin off from the peppers when you are ready for them. Put the cherry tomatoes n the grill and cook until they shrivel up. Put the tomatoes in a bowel. Take the red pepper and peel it. You will need about 1/2 of pepper. Chop it into a small dice and add to tomatoes. Add 1 tbs of olive oil and and basil.

Put the tuna steaks on the grill and cook to desired doneness. While tuna steaks are cooking take the white beans and puree them in a blender or food processor along with the garlic.

Divide the white bean puree onto 2 plates and spread out in a pattern. Place tuna steak on top of the white beans. Now spoon the tomato red pepper salad over the tuna and around the beans on the plate.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quick and Easy Pasta Sauces

I am going to give you the recipe for 3 different pasta sauces that all can be made in less time than it will take the pasta to cook. Most pastas in the United States are over sauced, the sauce should coat the pasta not drown it. Notice how you can see the plate through the sauce in the picture above, but you had sauce on every bite. If you want a bowl of sauce with pasta on the side I am sure they still sell Spaghetti O's somewhere.

Tomato Sauce
This is my standard sauce. I like it because it has no preservatives or other things that you can't pronounce in the ingredients and takes just a little more effort than opening a jar.

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs dried basil or 3 tbs of fresh basil, cut into fine ribbons
2 cloves of garlic add more or less to taste

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl a let the flavors marry while the pasta is cooking. You can add oregano to this a use it as a pizza sauce. 1 Batch should do 2 pounds of pasta depending on the pasta shape.

Garlic Pasta Sauce
5 cloves of garlic, cut into slices, you can add or subtract to fit your taste
1/4 cup olive oil
crushed red pepper flakes to taste

Saute the garlic slices in the olive oil over low heat. Make sure the heat is low you don't want to burn the garlic. After the pasta is cooked add it to the pan with the garlic oil and toss to coat. This will make enough for about 8 ounces of pasta. Variation after the garlic is sautéed add 2 tsp of lemon zest and toss with the pasta.

Pasta Herbs
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, cut into slices, you can add or subtract to fit your taste
2 to 3 tbs mixed herbs finely chopped (You can use basil, marjoram, parsley, mint, etc.)

Saute the garlic over low heat, 2 to 4 minutes take care not to let the garlic burn. Add the herbs and then the pasta (about 8 ounces). Toss to coat the pasta with the garlic herb oil.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lasagna Rolls

This is one of those recipes where the recipe looks much longer and more complicated than it really is. Don't be afraid to try it. This is actually my favorite form of lasagna. It isn't as heavy as traditional lasagna, because of the béchamel sauce instead of a meat sauce with a lot of cheese.

Lasagna Rolls
4 Lasagna Noodles, if your a perfectionist cook 1 or 2 extra as you might get some rips
2 tbs butter
2 tbs all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tbs parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
3 Roma Tomatoes, diced
4 Basil leaves, cut into small ribbons You can also use a 2 small bunches of leaves for garnish

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt to the water and then add the noodles. Allow them to cook for about 8 minutes and then remove them from the water and lay them out on a flat surface to dry. The noodles should be soft enough to roll but not completely cooked as they have to be but in the oven to finish cooking. Preheat the oven to 350˚.

Spray an 8" x 8" baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Now we will make the béchamel sauce, don't panic it's just flour, butter and milk. Melt the butter in a sauce pan over low heat. Now add the flour and whisk until it becomes a paste. Now slowly add the milk, whisking the whole time. The milk should be completely absorbed into the butter/flour mixture. Keep cooking for another 7 or 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken and the lumps will dissolve. Set the béchamel a side until it cools down a little (you can stick it in the fridge for 5 minutes to help cool it down). Once it has cooled down, it shouldn't be completely cooled, add the ricotta and stir it in until completely incorporated. Add the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Take 1/4 of the ricotta mixture and place in the center of one of the lasagna noodles. Fold the noodle in half and then roll it. Place it in baking pan seam side down. Repeat with other noodles. Place pan in oven and bake for about 20 minutes.

While the noodles are baking you can make the tomato topping. This won't take long so don't start right away. Add the olive oil to a saute pan set on medium heat. When the oil gets hot add the tomatoes and let them get warm about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and let it cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Remove from heat. Add basil ribbons then salt and pepper to taste.

When the noodles are done, place 2 on a plate and put 1/2 of tomato mixture on top of the them. Add the basil garnish if using.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pasta Caprese

This is a recipe I got from Cook's Illustrated magazine. I test recipes and shop for ingredients for Cook's Illustrated. Shopping and testing the recipes is always fun because you are usually doing it out of season, about 6 months before the recipe appears in the magazine. For this recipe the tomatoes and the basil would be out of season when you test it. This has become one of my families favorites.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 small shallot, minced fine
Table salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 ½ lbs. ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 lb. penne pasta
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon sugar

1. Whisk oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, garlic, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add tomatoes and gently toss to combine; set aside. Do not marinate tomatoes for longer than 45 minutes.

2. While tomatoes are marinating, place mozzarella on plate and freeze until slightly firm, about 10 minutes. (By freezing the mozzarella the hot pasta doesn't cause it to melt into little blobs.) Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain well.

3. Add pasta and mozzarella to tomato mixture and gently toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice or sugar, if desired, and serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Celebrity Chef in my Kitchen

I got a surprise tonight. When I finished my workout there was a celebrity chef in my kitchen.

My daughter, Ashlyn, decided that I needed Gusteau from Ratatouille to watch over my kitchen. So she hung him from the ceiling. Since I don't cook much French food do you think he will still be my guardian angel?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Eggplant Fans

This is a dish I based on a recipe from Lidia Bastianich cookbook Lidia's Italian- American Kitchen. Lidia makes this as a side dish with 2 small eggplants to serve 4, here I do it as a vegetarian main dish. I cut back on the mozzarella and added a little more parmesan to give it more flavor and less fat.

1 eggplant, 16 to 20 oz
8 oz fresh mozzarella
2 Large tomatoes cut into 4 slices each
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp marjoram
12 leaves basil, cut into fine ribbons
6 tbs finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 cup Tomato Sauce

Preheat oven to 350˚.

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, leaving the stem attached. Then cut each half from the tip back to the stem. Spread the fingers and sprinkle salt over all of the exposed flesh and set aside on paper towel for 15 minutes. This will draw out some of the moisture and some of the bitter flavor. Salting is generally only necessary on older, larger eggplants (those with brown seeds).

While the eggplant is degorging (having the moisture drawn out of it) mix bread crumbs with herbs and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce, using 1/2 to 3/4 of the sauce.

After eggplant has set for 15 minutes wipe off salt and water with paper towel. Then lightly oil the eggplant. Put the eggplant in the baking dish and fan the fingers apart. Between each finger put a tomato slice and a slice of mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle each eggplant with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn oven up to 450˚ and bake for 10 minutes longer until the cheese gets bubbly and the breadcrumbs brown. Remove from oven.

Take remaining tomato sauce and spread over the bottom of the plates you are serving the eggplant fans on. Remove eggplant fan from baking dish and set on the tomato sauce covered plate.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sausage and Cannellini Bean Crostini

This was not originally a crostini recipe but we always ate it with a crusty bread. Eventually I started serving it on the bread when we had Italian "tapas". My first couple of posts will feature some of my other Italian "tapas" By using turkey sausage you can make this a fairly healthy meal/crostini.

Warning teaching moment. A crostini is a thinly sliced piece of bread, usually a baguette, toasted with olive oil or butter and garlic. Bruschetta is sliced thicker, and generally grilled, then rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.

For the Crostini
1 baguette sliced into rounds, about 1/4 inch thick about 16 pieces total
Olive oil for drizzling

For the Sausage and Cannellini
2 tsp. olive oil, plus some for drizzling
1/2 small white onion, diced finely
1 Italian Sausage, 4 to 5 oz cut into a small dice
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 can (15.5 oz) of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat oven to 325°.

Drizzle olive oil lightly over the baguette slices. Then put the slices on a baking sheet and put in oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, they will not be browned but they will be lightly toasted. Set aside so they will cool.

Saute the onions in the olive oil until they are translucent. Add the sausage pieces, cook until browned. Add the beans and garlic and cook until they are heated through. Drizzle olive oil over the bean mixture. Take a scoop of the beans and place on top of the crostini.