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Monday, August 31, 2020

Pasta alla Nerano - Magical Zucchini pasta that is creamy without cream

 


This amazing pasta dish is creamy, without cream, and so satisfying.  I used garlic and zucchini, from Heart Acres Farm CSA.  I used a good amount of Pecorino and Parmesan Regianno cheeses.

Pasta alla Nerano

1-2 zucchini, sliced in rounds
1 -2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup, or a good amount, of grated Percorino and Parmesan cheeses
Olive Oil, for sautéeing
salt, and white pepper, to tastes
Spaghetti, and some pasta water

Have your ingredients prepared and ready for the complete dish, aka, mise en place.  

Sauté garlic in olive oil until it starts to turn golden.  Place garlic and olive oil in a small blender container.
Sauté zucchini slices until they turn light brown on both sides.  Set aside and place 1/3 or sautéed zucchini into the blender container.
Cook pasta and reserve up to one cup of pasta water.  Drain pasta from the cooking pot but keep water hot in the pot, and set aside.  Blend the zucchini with 1/4 cup pasta water, salt, and white pepper.  Add pasta to the hot pan with a little olive oil and add the blended zucchini.  Put the remaining cooked zucchini in the pasta water and cook for a few seconds before draining and adding back to the pasta pan.  Add the grated cheese and cook down until creamy.  Add pasta water as needed.  
Serve immediately, and enjoy!




Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Turkish Treats: Fresh beans, marinated chicken, and rice pilaf

 Today is a day for Turkish Delights.  These dishes are so easy to prepare, when you simply get prepped.

Fresh green and yellow beans are in season now, and plentiful.  These are available from Fairlane Farm, on Saturdays at the Bronx Farmers Market.

Turkish Green Beans (Zeytinyağlı Taze Fasulye)



1 pound of fresh green beans or
1 pack of frozen green beans (either French style or Italian cut)
1 big onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced or chopped
2 big fresh tomatoes, finely chopped, grated, or blended or 1 can of petite diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup hot water
salt

optional
1/8 tsp ground cumin
pepper/ crushed pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste

If you prefer beans with a bit of crunch and are not mushy, try parboiling the beans for 1-2 minutes in salted boiling water, drain and cook as follows but reduce cooking time.

-If you're using fresh green beans clean and trim them to 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces.
-Heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the chopped onions and garlic until lightly brown.
-If you want to use tomato paste add it at this point and stir for a min.
-Add the beans and stir them until they slightly change color (app. 6-8 mins).
-Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 mins and then add sugar (cumin and pepper), water, and salt. -Cover the pan and cook with low heat until the beans are soft (30 mins with frozen beans - 45 mins with fresh ones).
I cook it for far less time as I don’t like very soft beans.

This is traditionally served cold, but it's good when it's warm too.

Enjoy! 


 

Rice Pilaf

2 cups Basmati Rice
scant 4 cups water
1 onion, thinly sliced, or shallots
pinch saffron
olive oil
salt
1/4 cup each of chopped nuts or pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, (such as barberry, currants, raisins, Afghani Tut, or chopped apricots)
A heavy bottomed pot

Heat the oil on medium high heat and add the saffron, to let it bloom in the oil.  Add the onion or shallots and sauté until brown,  Add the rice and coat with the oil.  Add salt, nuts and fruit. 

Turn the element on high and add the water.  Bring to a boil, stirring.  Cover, and set to medium low for 20 minutes.

Grilled Turkish Chicken (Serves 2-4 people)

4 Boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 tbs Turkish Baharat*
3-4 shallots, grated or one small onion grated
2 tsp lime juice
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 tsp paprika (can used smoked)
pinch salt and pepper

Combine Turkish Baharat, grated shallots, lime juice, olive oil, paprika and salt and pepper in a bowl. Place chicken thighs in the bowl and cover completely with the marinade. Place in fridge and let marinate for 6 hours. Grill 4 minutes a side on a very hot BBQ grill.

Optional:  Marinate a large amount of chicken pieces, skinned thighs and drumsticks, for example, and roast or grill.



Sunday, July 05, 2020

Easy Steak Fajitas, local and lovely

In Manitoba, we produce such excellent beef, chicken, vegetables, etc.  I love to encourage people to get to know their producers and farmers, and fish mongers.  They want you to also have a great experience and an excellent product.

I used Sirloin Steak for this dish, but you can use many other different cuts of beef.  I purchased the steak from Fairlane Farms at the Bronx Park Farmers Market.  It was frozen, of course, so I put one steak on a metal baking sheet.  It thawed quickly.  The marinade is a quick marinade, so this can be made the same day.

Sirloin Steak Fajitas 




1 sirloin steak

1 tsp chili powder ( I didn't have any, so I used Ethiopian Berbere chilies, and added cumin and cinnamon)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp dried oregano
olive oil, to make a paste

Mix the spices, garlic, and oil together.  In a bowl, coat the steak well, on all sides.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the rest of your dish.

1 red pepper, cored and sliced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
drizzle oil
salt, to tastes
1/4 tsp + each of smoked paprika and ground dried chipotle
splash of Vermouth, to deglaze

Slowly cook the sliced onions in a medium heat in a saucepan with a drizzle of olive oil.  When they begin to get quite browned, add the sliced peppers and seasonings and turn up the heat to medium high.  When the peppers are slightly softer, deglaze pan with optional Vermouth.  Set aside for the assembly.

Heat pan or grill to medium heat, and cook steak, to rare to medium rare at most.  Let the meat rest.  The gorgeous steak that we used was 2" thick, so judge cooking time accordingly.  After the meat has rested, slice thinly, on the bias, to maximize tenderness.

Enjoy with warmed tortillas, onions and pepper mixture, cheese, avocado, sour cream, salsa,
etc. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Bihon Pancit - an easy and versatile Gluten Free noodle dish from the Philippines

This dish from the Philippines is filling, addictive, versatile, and so easy to prepare.  You can make it vegetarian, with seafood, with chicken, etc.  The gluten-free rice noodles soak up the flavour and sauce.




Bihon Pancit
Chicken breast, bite sized pieces, chicken thighs, fish, shrimp, pickerel cheeks are wonderful (all optional)
1-2 tbs oil

1 onion, finely chopped
2-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped vegetables (I used zucchini, carrot, spinach but chopped cabbage, beans or peas are common) (all optional)
1 bunch green onions, chopped into bite sized pieces
2-6 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
 2-8 tbs dark soy sauce
4 tbs oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
8-16 oz rice noodles

If using chicken, brown the chicken and set aside.  Add the onion and garlic to the pan and sauté for a few minutes.  Return the chicken meat to the pan or wok and cook together for a few minutes and season with salt and pepper.   Add the chopped vegetables and sauté until starting to become tender.  Add the stock, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar.  Bring to a simmer and add other optional ingredients, such as pickerel cheeks or great New Brunswick Shrimp, both available at Gimli Fish.  Simmer on medium heat and add in the rice noodles.  Stir gently until all or almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.  Add water or more stock, if more liquid is needed.

Serve immediately or warmed later, with a squeeze of lime juice.

Enjoy!



Thursday, June 04, 2020

Rice Pilaf - by request

Pilaf, pilau, rice.  There are so many ways to prepare rice.  In Korea, they cook and dry crispy bits at the bottom of the rice pot, to use for a kind of toasted congee for breakfast.  Turkey, has long held a tradition of excellent pilafs, using dried fruit and nuts, tomatoes, saffron, etc.  Iranian rice is exceptional with a crust, to enjoy.  The following, are some basics. 

Basmati Rice with dried orange and saffron

Basmati Rice with shallots, saffron, pumpkin seeds, and dried lemon


Rice Pilaf

2 cups Basmati Rice
scant 4 cups water
1 onion, thinly sliced, or shallots
pinch saffron
olive oil
salt
1/4 cup each of chopped nuts or pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, (such as barberry, currants, raisins, Afghani Tut, or chopped apricots)
A heavy bottomed pot

Heat the oil on medium high heat and add the saffron, to let it bloom in the oil.  Add the onion or shallots and sauté until brown,  Add the rice and coat with the oil.  Add salt, nuts and fruit. 

Turn the element on high and add the water.  Bring to a boil, stirring.  Cover, and set to medium low for 20 minutes. 

Enjoy!

Friday, May 08, 2020

Matcha Amaretti Cookies

My friend gave me some lovely Matcha tea powder and I thought that I'd try my hand at Matcha Amaretti cookies.  They look beautiful and are surprisingly easy to prepare.

Matcha Amaretti Cookies
2 1/4 cups almond flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbs matcha powdered tea
pinch salt
2 egg whites, soft peak (Nature's Farm eggs are fantastic!)
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract, or liqueur
icing sugar, to roll cookies in

Preheat oven to 300ºF.  Take two baking sheets, stacked, and place parchment paper or a Silpat on the top baking sheet.

Whip egg white and lemon juice to a soft peak.

Add to dry ingredients and mix well, until a sticky mess. 

Dust hands with a bit of the icing sugar and portion dough into 1"balls.  Roll cookies in the icing sugar and place on the baking sheet.  They can be placed closely together as the cookies do not spread.

Bake for 25 + minutes, or until set and crackled on top.  Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove from the pan and let cool further on a rack. 

The cookies will firm up further and are good for at least a week and then need refrigeration.

Enjoy!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Tuscan Soup with Farmers Sausage

This soup has become a household favourite lately.  Tuscan bean soup is a bowl full of comfort.  The beans make it rich and creamy, without cream, and the Tuscan flavours of sage really deliver the warmth.

Enjoy!
Tuscan Bean Soup with Farmers Sausage

1 medium - large onion, thinly sliced
3-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 package farmers sausage, sliced (can use wonderful Italian sausages with fennel, for example, but this was on hand)
2-6 cups cooked beans (yes, that much variation because it is up to you what you like.  I used pinto beans, from dry, that I quickly cooked in the Instant Pot)
2-6 cups tinned chopped tomatoes (Because it is Spring and good fresh tomatoes are impossible)
3 red peppers (yellow, orange, also good, but green would change the flavour)
2-4 tbs chopped fresh sage, or crumbled dry.  (Beans can take a lot of flavour added)
1 tbs dried chilies (more or less, it is your soup)
Salt and pepper, to tastes.  Beans need salt
water, as needed
olive oil, to start sautéeing

In a large pot, sauté the onions and garlic.  Add the sliced farmers sausage and cook until mostly cooked through. Add the peppers and cook for 5+ minutes before adding the tomatoes and seasoning.  Simmer until the beans are well incorporated and breaking down.  Check seasonings and enjoy!  Lovely with bread.