Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cooking Class with Paula from Bell Alimento

As I write this my wife, Annette and I are exactly 1 month away from celebrating our 27th Anniversary. The very first meal that I ever cooked for her was Chicken Marsala. Last night I went to a cooking class held by Paula Jones from bell'alimento. The menu consisted of bruschetta, make sure you pronounce it brus-ket-a or Paula will threaten you with bodily harm, Caprese Salad, Chicken Marsala, Polenta Cakes, Creamy Polenta with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Cauliflower au Gratin and Chocolate Cake. I have linked to each of the recipes she has published if you want to check them out, they are all excellent. You might ask why would I attend a cooking class for a recipe that I have been cooking for 27 years, for lots of reasons. The first reason is that I have been drooling over Paula's recipes for the last six months or so and this gave me an opportunity to try one. The second the recipe that I make is called Chicken Marsala but it calls for a dry white wine not Marsala. In fact it probably took me 20 years before I realized Marsala was a wine. Obviously my recipe, handed down from my dad, is not authentic but it is good. I had to taste the real thing. Last night I did get a taste of the real thing and I will not make my version again. OMG that chicken was good.

Paula puts a lot of energy into blogging, unlike myself who does it as a hobby. Her blog is currently in the running for Saveur's Best Blog Award. So go out there and cast a vote for her she deserves it. She is also a featured contributor to Paula The difference between Paula Jones and Paula Deen is that Jones uses olive oil and Deen uses butter.

The class consisted of 4 of Paula's friends and my wife and I. That means 6 women and I were all in one kitchen cooking. I think I am going to have to recruit a couple of men the next time I go to Paula's for a class. I think it is safe to say we all had a good time. The class was a good size as we all got to do a few hands on jobs in preparing the meal, but nobody was so busy you couldn't stop what you were doing and watch somebody else if something was being demonstrated or to taste something as it was being passed around. Here is a photo of Paula and I, Paula is working on the cauliflower and I was working on the chicken. Notice how neither of us are looking at the camera, a trait that a lot of bloggers seem to have. Look at our food not us.

The first thing that I have to tell you is us city folk need a GPS to find her house. The second thing is that for some reason GPS is off by about 3 tenths of a mile because I can guarantee you Paula does not live in the middle of a field. Just use the country directions subdivision is right after the 2 horse farms you can't miss it, unless you are using a GPS.

The platter was piled with bruschetta, maybe I should spell it brus-ket-a so she doesn't hunt me down and the wine was open. After the introductions we started on the cake as it took the longest to cook, so we had to get it in the oven. The cake turned out so moist, chocolatey and delicious and it was easy. Of course you had to have and espresso with that cake.

Then we moved onto the side dishes. Paula had the cauliflower assembled when we got there, as it was not listed as part of the class. We made the polenta for the polenta cakes or so we thought. Since the polenta has to be cooled Paula already had a batch made for the polenta cakes our polenta was served as creamy polenta with sun dried tomatoes, another bonus that was not on the menu. That gave a couple of people who had never had polenta the opportunity to try it 2 ways. Both polentas were good but I liked the cakes the best.

The last item on the agenda was the main course, Chicken Marsala. As I mentioned earlier this chicken was fantastic far more flavor than the version I make or should I say used to make. The recipe was again very easy slice the chicken, pound it thin and fry it. Then make a sauce from wine and mushrooms. I was just thinking since the bad version of Chicken Marsala won me my wife, I wonder if I can get a new kitchen with this version, hmmm. Well a guy can dream can't he. Happy anniversary a little early honey and thanks for coming to the cooking class with me. I'll end with a picture of my wife and I in Venice on our 25th Anniversary, because my wife is either taking these pictures or has her back to us in all of the other pictures.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chipotle Salmon with Black Bean and Corn Salad

This is a fast and easy recipe with lots of flavor going on. The salad is a salad that my daughter and her roommate make. My daughter attempted to give it to me over the phone. I am sure we left out a few things but it was still very good.

Chipotle Salmon with Black Bean & Corn Salad

For the Salmon:
8 oz salmon fillet
1 tsp Chipotle powder or any other hot spice or spicy spice mix

For Salad:
1 can corn, rinsed or 2 ears corn on the cob kernels removed from ear
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 small bunch cilantro
1/4 red onion, finely diced
10 to 15 cherry tomatoes 1/2 or 1/4 depending on size
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp olive oil
You could also add a clove or garlic minced or a jalapeno finely chopped.

For the salad mix it all in a bowl and toss to make sure oil and lime juice get mixed through out. Let it set while you grill the salmon so flavors can meld.

For the salmon rub spice on the salmon and grill to desired doneness.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shrimp, Sausage and White Beans

Shrimp, Sausage and White Beans

1 tbs Olive Oil
1 tbs Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Italian Sausages, casings removed
1 15 oz Can White Beans, drained and rinsed
1 28 oz Can Diced Tomatoes
24 shrimp, peeled and deveined
Drizzle of Olive Oil, for garnish
4 Basil leaves, rolled together and cut to make ribbons for garnish

Add the olive oil to a large saute pan and heat over medium high heat. When hot add the onion and cook until translucent.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add the sausage and stir it to make sure it get broken up.
When sausage is browned add the beans and tomatoes. Cook until they heated through.
Add the shrimp and cook until they are pink.
Plate and garnish with basil and a drizzle of olive oil.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Grilled London Broil and Vegetables

As I was grilling the London Broil, I could look down and see the daffodils and crocuses in bloom. I am hoping winter has made its final appearance.

Grilled London Broil and Vegetables

London Broil:
1 lb London Broil
1 tbs Olive Oil
1 tsp Oregano. dried
1 tsp Basil, dried
1 tsp Marjoram, dried
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound mixed veggies cut into bite size pieces. I used a potato, mushrooms, a zucchini, red onion and cherry tomatoes.
2 tbs Olive Oil
1 tsp Oregano. dried
1 tsp Basil, dried
1 tsp Marjoram, dried

Preheat the grill to medium high.

Place the London Broil in a resealable plastic bag and add the oil, garlic and dried herbs. Set this in refrigerator for a couple of hours so flavors can be absorbed by the meat.

For the vegetables, after they are chopped add them to a bowl. Toss with olive oil and herbs. You may not need all of the oil, only enough to coat the veggies and make the herbs stick.

About 1/2 hour before you are ready to start grilling remove the meat from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Place on grill and cook until the meat has reached desired doneness. I cooked mine for about 12 minutes for rare. London Broil is a meat that can be tough so don't over cook this. Let meat rest for a few minutes and then slice into thins slices. Serve 3 or 4 slices per person.

The veggies can be cooked on a piece of foil or in a grill basket so they don't fall through the grill grates. Cooking time will vary by the size and type of veggies you cook. Potatoes take longer then a zucchini or a tomato. I cooked the potatoes for about as long as the steak and the other veggies about 7 or 8 minutes.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Salmon with Thai Peanut Sauce

I was in the mood for something on the Asian side, so I decided to make a Thai Peanut Sauce on a salmon steak. This sauce is also good on chicken, shrimp or beef.

Salmon with Thai Peanut Sauce

Peanut Sauce
3 tbs Peanut Butter, reduce fat or natural
4 tsp Rice Vinegar
3 tbs Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 tsp Honey
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Ginger Powder
1/8 tsp Cayenne (more or less depending on your taste preference)

8 oz Salmon
2 tsp olive oil
Pepper (I didn't salt as peanut butter and soy sauce will take care of that)
1 Scallion green parts only for garnish

Preheat the grill on high.

Mix all of the Peanut Sauce ingredients together, it maybe a little easier to heat it in the microwave for a few seconds.
Grill the salmon until it is almost cooked and then spread some of the sauce over it. When the salmon is done remove from grill and serve with remaining sauce for dipping or drizzle some more sauce over it when plated.

I served this with brown rice and some grilled mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers and red onions.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sausage and Potato Soup

Do you want a nice hearty soup to keep you warm on these cold winter days? This is a soup I put together because I wanted something a little more filling but still on the healthy side.

Sausage and Potato Soup

3 Italian Chicken or Turkey Sausages, casing removed and formed into bite sized meatballs
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 potatoes, diced
3 cups broth, chicken or vegetable, low sodium and low fat
3 cups water
1/4 tsp each fresh rosemary and fennel
1/2 tsp each marjoram and thyme
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped frozen spinach
Salt and Pepper

Brown the meatballs, you may have to add a teaspoon of the oil. Remove meatballs after they brown and set aside. Add the rest of the oil, onions, celery and the carrots. Cook until onions are transparent, then add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute. Add the herbs, potatoes, broth and water. Cook until potatoes are soft, then add the meatballs and spinach. Cook this until meatballs are heated through and potatoes are cooked.