Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Mango Coconut Rice Pudding

     A Tropical Rice Pudding Flavor!
     Today's Mango Coconut Rice Pudding was intended to be part of a children's meal platter.  The object was to create a complete kid's meal that was appealing.  A fancy rice pudding that was made with healthy ingredients seemed like a good choice for dessert.  
    Many people remember eating rice pudding as a child, but as an adult they seem to completely forget about rice pudding when it comes time to think about dessert.  Maybe this is because rice pudding is usually only associated with being a home style dessert recipe that every mother knows by heart.  Maybe it is because adults that grew up as kids during hard economic times, now realize that there are more dessert choices than just rice pudding.  
     American style rice pudding is very cheap to make, so when times are tough, rice pudding gets top billing for a home made dessert.  American style rice pudding is only made with rice, raisons, milk, sugar and cinnamon.  This list of ingredients only costs a few pennies, so restaurants rarely offer American style rice pudding on a menu, because this dessert cannot command a worthwhile price.    
     On the other hand, a gourmet style rice pudding that is made with exotic ingredients could be worth putting on a menu.  Offering a great rice putting that has plenty of interesting flavor is really nothing new at Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern restaurants.  The traditional recipes for rice pudding in those places is on the gourmet side, by American standards.   
     A good rice pudding is appealing to people of any age.  Today's Mango Coconut Rice Pudding is a fairly healthy rice pudding that has a nice tropical flavor! 

     Mango Coconut Rice Pudding:
     This recipe yields 2 large portions!  
     The rice has to be overcooked and very soft for this recipe.    
     Step 1:  Place 3/4 cup of long grain white rice in a small sauce pot.
     Add 3 cups of water.
     Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/3 cup of diced sun dried mango.
     Gently simmer till the rice is very soft.  (Do not cover the pot with a lid.)  
     Allow the excess liquid to evaporate.  Only add water if the liquid drops below the level of rice. 
     Step 3:  Add 3/4 cup of coconut milk.
     Add 1 tablespoon of palm sugar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of raw sugar.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Step 4:  Gently simmer the rice mixture.
     Occasionally whisk the rice mixture, so the rice breaks up and thickens like pudding.  
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Check the consistency of the rice pudding.  The pudding should be thick enough to stand in a spoon.  
     *If the pudding is too thin, then slowly simmer and reduce till the excess liquid evaporates.
     Keep the Mango Coconut Rice Pudding warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     This recipe describes 1 dessert presentation.
     Place about 1 cup of the Mango Coconut Rice Pudding in a dessert bowl.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of grated coconut over the pudding  

     This is some tasty rice pudding!    

Campanelle with Portobello, Tomato and Anchovy en Beaujolais Romano Crème

     A Little Bit Of Classic Umami Flavor!
     Today's pasta sauce has a few Italian ingredients, but cream sauces are rarely used for pasta in Italy.  America, France and Germany are where cream sauce pastas are popular.  
     The word "Umami" describes a deep rich seafood taste sensation.  During the last decade, food that features umami flavors has been in the limelight, especially in modern Asian-European fusion cuisine.  There are thousands of traditional European recipes that feature umami flavors and some of these entrées can be found on the menu at classic fine dining restaurants.  Italian cuisine has a long history of infusing umami flavors, especially in pasta, seafood and veal recipes.
     Up till the mid 1900's, many European countries traditionally used anchovies to season food, just like salt.  A little bit of anchovy filet or anchovy paste is all it takes to add saltiness and a pleasant umami flavor.  A generous amount of anchovy added to a recipe will create a bold umami flavor that may please those who really like anchovies, but it is important to remember that the majority of guests prefer delicate umami flavors.
     In modern times, food allergen awareness is part of menu writing.  When seafood or an item that adds umami flavor is part of a recipe it has to be mentioned in the recipe title, so those who have seafood allergies will know.  Items like Ponzu, Worcestershire Sauce, Caesar Salad Dressing and Fish Sauce contain anchovies or bonito, which gives these items a umami flavor.     
     When I made today's pasta recipe, I had no white wine to cook with, but I did have a little bit of French Beaujolais leftover in the refrigerator.  Beaujolais is made with an ancient Roman Gamay Grape varietal, which has a very low level of tannins.  Because Beaujolais tends to be smooth tasting red wine that is not excessively dry, it can work well in a cream pasta sauce, especially if a contrasting umami flavor is part of the equation.  Fresh dill and parsley help to lighten the rich flavor of the sauce.  The result is a comfortably bold tasting pasta sauce that will please those who want to experience a classic umami flavor sensation. 
     Campanelle Pasta is also known as "horn or bell pasta."  The Campanelle Pasta shape picks up a cream sauce nicely.

     Tomato Concasse:
     This recipe yields about 1/3 cup.
     Step 1:  Place a container of ice water on a countertop.
     Step 2:  Boil a pot of water over high heat.
     Place 2 medium size whole plum tomatoes in boiling water.
     Briefly boil the tomatoes till the skin starts to split and loosen.  (This only takes less than one minute.)
     Step 3:  Immediately remove the tomatoes from the pot and place them in the container of ice water.
     Completely cool the tomatoes.
     Step 4:  Peel the loose skin off of the tomatoes. 
     Trim the core off of the tops of the peeled tomatoes. 
     Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds and pulp. 
     Step 5:  Finely chop the tomato filets.
     Set the Tomato Concasse aside or chill it for later use. 
     Campanelle with Portobello, Tomato and Anchovy en Beaujolais Romano Crème:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.
     The sauce can be made in the same amount of time that is takes to cook the pasta (a la minute).  For a more casual pace, cook the pasta ahead of time and reheat it in the simmering sauce.  
     Step 1:  Start cooking 1 portion of Campanelle Pasta in boiling water over high heat till the pasta is al dente.
     *The sauce can be made while the pasta cooks!
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat. 
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped Bermuda Onion. 
     Add 2 minced cloves of garlic. 
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color. 
     Step 3:  Add 3 small portobello mushrooms that are cut into petite wedges. 
     Saute the mushrooms till they start to become tender. 
     Step 4:  Add the reserved Tomato Concasse (about 1/3 cup).
     Add 1 or 2 minced anchovy filets.
     Add 1 pinch of black pepper. 
     Sauté the tomatoes till they start to become tender. 
     Step 5:  Add 1/2 cup of Beaujolais Wine.
     Rapidly simmer till the volume of wine reduces by half. 
     Step 6:  Add 3/4 cup of cream. 
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 7:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of fine grated Pecorino Romano Cheese while constantly stirring.
     Stir till the cheese melts into the sauce.
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin cream sauce consistency. 
     Step 8:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill weed. 
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Stir the sauce. 
     *Taste the sauce and add salt if necessary.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
     Step 9:  The pasta should be ready by this time.  When the Campanelle Pasta is al dente, drain the water off of the pasta.
     Add the Campanelle Pasta to the sauce. 
     Toss the sauce and pasta together.
     Remove the pan from the heat. 
     Step 10:  Mound the pasta on a plate. 
     Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of finely grated Pecorino Romano Cheese over the pasta. 
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig. 
     The flavor of the sauce is rich and light at the same time.  Campanelle Pasta is always pretty looking on a plate!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cranberries Jubilee!

     A Cranberry Version of Classic Cherries Jubilee!
     Cranberries Jubilee is a variation of the classic Cherries Jubilee recipe.  Cranberries have a flavor that is good for making a Jubilee style sauce.   Cranberries also are as durable as cherries, so the whole cranberries look good after being simmered.
     Cherries Jubilee is traditionally a table side dessert that is prepared in front of guests.  Cherries Jubilee is traditionally served over vanilla ice cream and/or pound cake.  Many chefs prefer sour wild cherries, because the tart flavor accents the sweet ice cream.  Cranberries Jubilee also has a tart flavor that goes well with vanilla ice cream.    

     Cranberries Jubilee:
     This recipe yields about 1 cup.  (2 to 3 generous portions) 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add 1 1/4 cups of fresh or frozen whole cranberries.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of cranberry juice.
     Add 1 pinch of fresh lemon zest.
     Add 1 small pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Step 3:  Bring the sauce back to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin syrup consistency and the cranberries are tender.
     Step 5:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of Chambord Liquor
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of rum.
     *Always ignite the rum with a long stick match or ignitor.  Have some fire extinguishing material handy for safety's sake!
     Step 6:  Rapidly simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin syrup consistency that can glaze a spoon.
     Step 7:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Keep the sauce warm.
     Step 8:  *Serving the Cranberries Jubilee with ice cream and pound cake is an option!
     Place 1 or 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream in a shallow dessert bowl.
     Spoon about 1/3 cup of the warm Cranberries Jubilee over the ice cream.
     Sprinkle 1 small pinch of fresh lemon zest on the sauced ice cream.

     Cranberries Jubilee is a tasty dessert that will easily impress guests!  

Friday, August 26, 2016

Cajun Blackened Frog Legs with Crispy Coriander Noodles, Spring Lettuce and Dijon Vinaigrette

     Spicy Cajun Style Frog Legs!
     I once worked in a fishery restaurant that was next to the Florida Everglades.  The evening business was so busy at that old seafood restaurant, that it never opened for lunch.  There always was a two hour waiting line for customer seating during the dinner hours.  We all prepared fresh seafood by day starting at 6:00AM and finished by 3:30PM.  After a half hour break, we cooked in the restaurant from 4:00PM till 11:00PM at night.  
     The seafood was literally delivered fresh from the boat to our restaurant dock.  The restaurant also bought tons of stone crab claws from the local crab boats.  Boiling huge pots of fresh stone crab claws is an awesome aroma to work around!
     Boat loads of fresh Everglades frog legs were delivered to our docks too.  Many times I spent the entire day shift at that fishery restaurant doing nothing more than trimming frog legs.  It is kind of weird, but after a few hours of clipping frog toenails, a person starts seeing frog legs even with eyes closed.     
     Frog leg trimming can get boring, but it is a duty that requires perfection.  Everglades frog legs are the very best in the world!  I have seen Everglades bull frog legs that were over two feet long and the thigh section was as big around as a large turkey leg.  That is a lot of frog hoppin' power!   

     Cajun Blackening Spice Mix: 
     This recipe yields enough Cajun blackening spice for about 3 or 4 fish portion applications.
     The tiny amount of sugar helps to caramelize the highlights of the grains of the fish meat.  The small dash of flour helps the spice mix to stick to the fish.
     This is a basic Cajun blackening spice mix with no extra herbs.  
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder.
     Add 4 tablespoons of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 4 tablespoons of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of white pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of flour.
     Step 2:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Set the Cajun Blackening Spice Mix aside.

     Dijon Vinaigrette: 
     This recipe yields about 1/3 cup.  (2 petite portions) 
     This is a simple Dijon Vinaigrette that is meant to accompany highly seasoned food.         
     Step 1:  Place 1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Whisk the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Slowly add 3 tablespoons of olive oil while constantly whisking, to make an emulsified vinaigrette.
     Set the Dijon Vinaigrette aside or chill it for later use.

     Crispy Coriander Noodles:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Cut 1 large pre-made wonton wrapper into 3/8" x 4" strips.   (5 to 7 noodle strips is plenty)
     Step 2:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil to 360ºF in a high sided pot.
     Place the fresh wonton noodle strips in the hot oil.
     Fry the wonton noodle strips till they are crispy golden brown.
     Step 3:  Use a fryer net to place the crispy noodles on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of ground coriander on the hot fried noodles.
     Season with sea salt.
     Set the Crispy Coriander Noodles aside.
     Cajun Blackened Frog Legs:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Be sure to turn on the hood exhaust fans before blackening anything!
     Step 1:  Dredge 3 pairs of medium size frog legs in the Cajun Blackening Spice Mix.
     Step 2:  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter.  
     Heat the butter till it begins to smoke.
     Step 3:  Place the frog legs in the hot butter.
     Blacken the frog legs for 3 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the other side.  (Try to only flip the frog legs once, but if they are thick, then flip them twice.)
     Blacken the frog legs till they are fully cooked and blackened highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Use tongs to place the Blackened Frog Legs on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Keep the frog legs warm on a stove top.
     Cajun Blackened Frog Legs with Crispy Coriander Noodles, Spring Lettuce and Dijon Vinaigrette: 
     This recipe describes 1 entrée presentation.
     Step 1:  Place 5 thin plum tomato wedges on the border of the back half of a plate.
     Mound 1 1/2 cups of mixed baby spring lettuce on the plate next to the tomatoes.
     Pour 1/2 tablespoon of the Dijon Vinaigrette on the lettuce.
     Step 2:  Place the Blackened Frog Legs on the front half of the plate, so they lean against the lettuce.
     Step 3:  Slide the Crispy Coriander Noodles between the frog legs and the lettuce.
     Spoon a generous amount of the Dijon Vinaigrette on the plate around the frog legs.

     Frog legs are more tender than chicken and they have no fat.  Some people say frog legs taste like chicken, but they really do have a delicate flavor of their own.  This is a delicious café style frog leg salad entrée!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pennoni with Chicken, Spinach and Portobello en Romano Crème

     A Simple Cream Sauce Pasta!
     Pennoni is a tube pasta that is shaped like penne, but the walls of Pennoni are much thinner.  Thinner walls on a tube pasta means that more care must be taken when cooking the pasta, so the pieces of pennoni do not break.
     Is today's Pennoni Pasta recipe a traditional Italian pasta?  The answer is no.  Cream sauces are rarely used for pasta in Italy.  However, there are Italian American restaurants that offer similar pastas, because simple cream sauce pastas are popular in America.  The same can be said about chicken.  Chicken is rarely added to pasta in Italy, but in America, nearly every casual restaurant offers a token chicken pasta.  The reason why, is because cream sauce pastas sell!  
     Many people like cream sauce pastas.  Cream sauce pastas are easy to make and they can easily be made to order.  The best cream sauce pastas are made with Besciamella Sauce (Béchamel Sauce).  Cream reduction sauces are okay in a pinch, but reducing cream is like doubling the fat content and food cost.  Many chefs agree that cream reduction sauces are so easy to make, that they can become a crutch.   
     The worst example of cream sauce pastas are those that are served by chain restaurants.  Most times, the cream sauce at a chain restaurant is made with a package of freeze dried instant cream sauce mix.  
     A problem with cream sauce pastas at casual restaurants is the pasta is all too often flooded with sauce.  Just because customers like cream sauce pastas, it does not mean that the pasta has to be swimming in cream sauce!  The basic Italian rule for saucing pasta is to only make enough sauce to coat the pasta with flavor.  When this rule is applied, cream sauce pastas are much more appealing.

     Pennoni with Chicken, Spinach and Portobello en Romano Crème:
     This recipe yields 1 pasta entrée.
     The sauce for this pasta is a la minute and it can be prepared while the pasta cooks.  The idea is to finish the sauce and pasta at the same time, so the flavor and texture is at the peak of perfection.  In this case, the pasta takes about 10 minutes to cook al dente, so the sauce should be finished in less than 10 minutes!  Be sure to have the ingredients ready ahead of time.  
     The sauce is a simple reduction of Romano Cheese and cream.  This is the easiest of all cream sauces to make.  However, it is also easy to reduce the sauce too much and the sauce will be too thick and rich.
     Step 1:  Start cooking 1 portion of Pennoni Pasta in boiling water, till it is al dente.  
     *The sauce can be made while the pasta cooks!  If the pasta finishes before the sauce, then drain off the hot water and set the pasta aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 4 ounces of bite size pieces of boneless chicken breast.
     Lightly season with seas salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the chicken pieces are about halfway cooked.
     Step 3:  Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 2 small portobello mushrooms that are cut into small wedges.
     Sauté till the mushrooms start to become tender.
     Step 4:  Add 1 cup of cream.
     Bring the cream to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 3 1/2 tablespoons of finely grated Romano Cheese while stirring.
     Stir till the cheese melts into the sauce.  
     Step 6:  Add 1 1/2 cups of baby spinach leaves.
     Stir the spinach into the sauce as the leaves wilt.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a thin cream sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Adjust the seasoning with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
     Step 7:  When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain the water off of the pasta.
     Add the Pennoni Pasta to the sauce in the sauté pan.
     Toss the sauce and pasta together.
     Step 8:  Mound the pasta in a shallow pasta bowl.  Try to expose some of the featured ingredients on the surface. 
     Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of finely grated Romano Cheese over the pasta.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.

     This pasta has appealing familiar flavors and it is nice for a chilly evening!  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Insalata Contadina

     A Mediterranean Style Farm Salad!
     Today's salad recipe features healthy Italian ingredients and a vinaigrette that has a bold flavor.  This is a casual tossed salad, so the flavor counts more than the presentation.  In fact, the same can be said about nearly all farm style salads, because country folk enjoy making bold tasting tossed salads that guests will rave about for years to come.
     It is the salad dressing that counts, when making a country style salad anywhere in the world.  If the dressing does not taste good, then the chances are that nobody in the family will make a big effort to eat the leafy greens and raw vegetables.  If the dressing tastes great, then a family will devour the healthy salad faster than a herd of cattle!        

     Tomato Vinaigrette:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  (About 1/3 cup)
     San Marzano Tomatoes have the richest red tomato flavor of them all!
     Step 1:  Place1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar in a mixing bowl.
     Add 3 tablespoons of imported Italian canned Crushed San Marzano Tomato.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Set the mixture aside for 5 minutes, so the flavors meld.
     Step 2:  Slowly add 3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil while stirring to make a loose vinaigrette.
     Chill the dressing till it is needed.
     Stir before serving.

     Toasted Pine Nuts:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of pine nuts.
     Occasionally toss the pine nuts in the pan, till a few golden highlights appear.
     Step 2:  Place the toasted pine nuts in a bowl.
     Lightly season with sea salt.
     Set the toasted pine nuts aside.

     Insalata Contadina:
     This recipe yields 1 large salad entrée.
     Insalata Contadina translates to "Farmer Salad or Peasant Salad."  
     Step 1:  Place 3 cups of chopped romaine lettuce in a mixing bowl.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of thin sliced onion.
     Add 1/4 cup of thin sliced zucchini.
     Add 10 whole fresh Italian Parsley leaves.
     Step 3:  Add 1/4 cup of rinsed cooked cannellini beans or rinsed canned cannellini beans.
     Add 1/4 cup of roasted red bell pepper strips.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 cup of the Tomato Vinaigrette.
     Toss the ingredients together. 
     Step 5:  Mound the Contadina Salad mixture on a plate.
     Spoon the remaining 2 to 3 tablespoons of the Tomato Vinaigrette over the salad.
     Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts over the salad.
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of finely grated hard boiled egg over the salad.

     The bold Tomato Vinaigrette flavor is present with every bite!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Whole Grain Linguini with Finocchio and Danish Bleu Cheese Tomato Crème

     A Delicato Bleu Cheese Tomato Crème Sauce!
     I was working as a sauté cook in a trendy restaurant back in the early 1980's when Bleu Cheese Tomato Cream Sauce first became popular for pasta.  The prep-cook in the restaurant kitchen made Blue Cheese Tomato Cream Sauce for a lunch pasta special one day.  The sauce was heavily seasoned, acidic California canned tomatoes were used and too much cheap Maytag Blue Cheese was added.  The sauce was made far ahead of time, at too high a temperature, so the cheese actually broke in the sauce.  The result was a Bleu Cheese Tomato Cream Sauce that looked and smelled putrid.  Needless to say, there were few compliments from the clientele that day and the Blue Cheese Tomato Cream Pasta idea was abandoned.  
     A few months later I was doing sauté cooking at a different restaurant.  Oddly enough, I figured that the Blue Cheese Tomato Cream Sauce idea deserved a second chance.  Using a different cooking strategy might result in an appealing pasta entrée.  The Italian culinary word "delicato" describes food that has a delicate flavor.  Applying a delicato style to making the sauce was the answer and the result was a Bleu Cheese Tomato Crème Sauce that was quite appealing.  The sauce was a success and customers complimented the delicate flavor.
     Italian Besciamella, ripe Plum Tomato and rich semi soft Danish Bleu creates an interesting, yet comfortable pasta sauce flavor, when delicato style is applied.  Bleu Cheese Tomato Crème Sauce should be made to order, so the flavors remain bright.

     Besciamella Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 cup of thin besciamella.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Cook the roux till it turns a whitish color, with no hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of milk.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Stir the sauce as it comes to a gentle boil and thickens.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Place the sauce in a container.
     Set the sauce aside or chill it for later use.

     Whole Grain Linguini with Finocchio and Danish Bleu Cheese Tomato Crème: 
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Only enough sauce is needed to coat the pasta with flavor.  The pasta should not be swimming in sauce.
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of Whole Grain Linguini Pasta in boiling water till it is cooked al dente.  
     *The sauce can be made while the pasta cooks!
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 clove of chopped garlic.
     Briefly sauté for a few seconds till the garlic becomes aromatic.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of thin sliced fresh Florence Fennel.  (Anise Bulb, Finocchio and Fennel Bulb are other names for Florence Fennel.)
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Sauté till the fennel is cooked tender, but not browned.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of thin Besciamella Sauce.
     Add 1 chopped seeded ripe plum tomato.
     Bring the sauce to a simmer.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of sliced imported Danish Bleu Cheese.
     Add 1 teaspoon chopped florence fennel leafy green top sprigs.
     Stir the sauce till the Danish Bleu Cheese melts into the sauce.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  Add a splash of cream if the sauce is too thick.
     Step 6:  When the portion of pasta is cooked al dente, drain the water off of the pasta.
     Add the Whole Grain Linguini Pasta to the sauce in the sauté pan.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Mound the pasta on the center of a plate.
     No garnish is necessary!

     Delicato is the theme of this Danish Bleu Cheese Tomato Sauce with Finocchio.  This pasta even looks like it has a gentle flavor!  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mumbai Curry Goat with Kaljeera Rice Flour Roti

     Mumbai Style Curry Goat with Black Cumin Spiced Rice Flour Flat Bread!
     Masala basically means "the start of" or "the beginning of."  Masala does not necessarily mean starting a recipe with spices.  A simmered onion and garlic puree is the masala for many recipes.  Tomatoes or eggplant that are cooked till they are thick may be the masala for yet another bunch of recipes.  
     Garam Masala is a North India spice mix.  The ingredients for Garam Masala are standardized for the most part, but the proportions may vary from one household to the next or from region to region.  The main thing to keep in mind is that Garam Masala is known as a "warming spice blend" that promotes feelings of health, warmth and comfort.  Warmth in this case has nothing to do with chile pepper spicy heat.  In fact there is no chile pepper powder in Garam Masala.
     In Northern India, Garam Masala spice mix is often modified by adding a few more spices or chile peppers.  The city of Punjab is in Northern India and this place is renowned for its active nightlife.  The party atmosphere attracts younger folks who desire spicier flavors.  Even though Punjab is way north, some of the local food can be very spicy hot.    
     Mumbai is on the west central coast of India and the food is not really known to be spicy hot.  There is a lot of cooking tradition in Mumbai and the vegetarian cuisine reigns supreme.  Seafood is common near the coastline, but the influences of farm country cuisine also prevail.
     Mumbai Curry Goat is as basic as a curry goat recipe gets.  The flavors are warming and gentle.  The curry sauce is made with ghee (clarified butter).  The ghee takes on the flavor of the spices and separates from the liquid.  Pools of spiced ghee are usually seen in old fashioned curries.  Not every curry requires goat milk, goat milk yogurt or coconut milk to give it a creamy look.   
     Potatoes are a popular item in some farm regions of India.  Potatoes are featured in today's Mumbai Curry Goat recipe. 
     Roti is an Indian style flat bread that has been made since ancient times.  Usually Roti is made with wheat grain.  Rice Flour Roti is popular too.  Because rice flour has a slower water absorption rate, the dough must be made with hot water and the dough must rest for a longer period of time.  
     Kaljeera Rice Flour Roti Dough:
     This recipe yields enough dough for 3 or 4 medium size Roti! 
     Kaljeera is Black Cumin Seed.   Black Cumin Seed is available at Mediterranean and Indian food markets.  Rice Flour is available just about everywhere.  
     Roti refers to a thin flat bread that is cooked quickly on a hot surface.  The Roti can be as thick as a pancake or as thin as a crêpe.  Roti can be a few inches wide or they can be over 1 foot wide.  The size of Roti usually depends on what this bread will be used for.    
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. 
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of black cumin seeds.
     Slowly add 1 1/2 cups of rice flour, while constantly stirring, till all of the flour combines with the water.  
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid.
     Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
     Step 5:  Wait for the dough to cool.
     Knead the dough till it is smooth.
     *The dough should be soft and pliable.  If the dough is too stiff, add a few drops of water at a time while kneading, till the dough gains a soft texture.    
     Step 6:  Place the dough in a container.
     Chill the dough in a refrigerator for 2 hours. 
     Mumbai Curry Goat:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.  
     Butcher shops sell the best selection of goat meat.  Thick rib section cuts or shoulder pieces are  good for goat stews.  There are usually bones in the stewing meat and the bones add flavor, so they should not be removed.  Always warn guests, when there are bones in a stew!   
     Step 1:  Place 2 imported Italian canned plum tomatoes in a mixing bowl with a small portion of their own juices.
     Coarsely crush the tomatoes by hand and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter).
     Add 10 ounces of large bite size cubes of stewing goat meat.  (The portion size may seem large, but there may be 20% bones per volume.) 
     Sauté till the goat meat is lightly browned on all sides.
     Step 3:  Remove the goat pieces from the pot and set them aside on a platter.
     Drain the spent grease out of the sauce pot.
     Step 4:  Place the the sauce pot over medium/medium low heat. 
     Add 2 tablespoons of ghee. 
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of whole mustard seeds.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of whole fennel seeds.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds.
     Gently shake the pan, till a minimum of seed popping noise is heard.  
     Step 5:  Add 1/2 cup of minced onion.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced ginger.
     Briefly sauté till the masala becomes aromatic, but not browned at all.
     Step 6:  Return the sautéed goat meat to the pot.
     Add enough water to cover the goat meat pieces with 1" of extra liquid.  (About 2 1/2 cups)
     Add the reserved crushed tomatoes.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Garam Masala.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground fenugreek.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Korean style mild red serrano chile paste (mild sambal).
     Add sea salt to taste.
     Step 7:  Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.    
     Gently simmer, till the goat meat just begins to become tender.  Allow the liquid to reduce to the level of the goat meat.
     Step 8:  Add about 5 ounces of peeled russet potato that is cut into large bite size pieces.
     Add 6 peeled celery sticks.  (1/4" x 1/4" x 3") 
     Add 6 peeled carrot sticks.  
     Add 3 to 4 wide strips of green bell pepper.
     Add 1 green onion that is cut into bite size pieces.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon more of ghee.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Step 9:  Simmer and reduce till the ingredients are tender and the sauce is a thin consistency.  The sauce should barely to cling to the ingredients.  (Only add water if the stewing sauce becomes too thick.)
     Keep the Mumbai Curry Goat warm over very low heat.

     Kaljeera Rice Flour Roti:
     The roti can be finished while the stew simmers!
     Step 1:  Allow the dough to reach room temperature.
     Divide the dough into 3 or 4 equal size portions that are the size of a plum.
     Roll each portion into a ball shape.
     Step 2:  Lightly dust a countertop with rice flour.
     Pat each dough portion out by hand or use a rolling pin, thin round roti flat bread shapes.  The roti should look like thin pancakes.
     Step 3:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.   
     Generously brush the griddle with melted coconut oil.
     Grill each roti on both sides, till light golden brown highlights appear and the dough is fully cooked.   
     Step 4:  Stack the roti on a plate.
     Cover the roti with a dry pastry towel. 
     Keep the Kaljeera Rice Flour Roti warm on a stove top. 

     Mumbai Curry Goat with Kaljeera Rice Flour Roti:
     Brinjal or any kind of Chutney can be served with this curry.  Brinjal is a spicy eggplant condiment that is full of exotic spice flavors. 
     Step 1:  Place a generous portion of the Mumbai Curry Goat into a large ceramic ramekin.
     Garnish with 1 thin biased sliced green onion.
     Step 2:  Place the ramekin of curry on a large serving platter.
     Place 2 or 3 warm Kajeera Akki Roti on the platter.
     Place a small ramekin of Brinjal or a chutney of your choice on the platter.
     Garnish with curly leaf parsley sprigs.

     Viola!  Comfortable mild tasting Mumbai Curry Goat!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pan Fried Catfish and Hush Puppies

     Down Home Cooking!
     Pan fried catfish is a popular old fashioned southern entree!  When I was living in Florida, I liked taking a drive through the country and seeing small towns in the center of the state.  Most center of state Florida towns are farming communities.  Some of the very best barbecue restaurants are found in small farm communities.  Where barbecue is sold, catfish is usually on the menu too.  Closer to Lake Okeechobee, restaurant signs for "All You Can Eat Fried Catfish" can be seen.  There are many large catfish farms around Lake Okeechobee, so catfish is king!
     Driving the backroads anywhere in the American South, Texas or the Carolinas is the same as central Florida.  Gourmet dining in these areas is fresh catfish and barbecue!  Fried whole catfish or catfish fingerlings are usually the best bargains on the menu and the portions are big.  Fried Whole Catfish, Potatoes, Cole Slaw and Hush Puppies usually costs less than $10 in a "Florida Cracker" restaurant.
     There are many stories about how Hush Puppies got their name.  Hush Puppies are fried balls of thick cornbread batter.  Most people agree that the Hush Puppy nickname came from feeding corn bread balls mixed with scrap meat to barking dogs to hush them up.  Escaped slaves that were on the road to freedom used hush puppies to quiet barking dogs that aroused suspicion.  Dogs simply cannot resist greasy cornbread that is flavored with scrap meat and loading the Hush Puppies with Black Pepper helped to keep the dogs from picking up a scent trail.  
     Nowadays, Hush Puppies are rarely fed to dogs.  Hush Puppies are people food and they are almost always served at Southern style restaurants that serve up fried catfish.
     Some may wonder about what kind of sauce to serve with Fried Catfish and Hush Puppies.  Tartar sauce is popular, but most people down south like a bottle of Tabasco Pepper Sauce or Hot Pepper Vinegar.  At BBQ or catfish restaurants in the South, a bottle of Hot Pepper Vinegar is found on nearly every table.  Usually the peppers in the vinegar are Red Tabasco or Green Tabasco.

     Hush Puppies:
     This recipe yields about 4-5 hush puppies.  (1 or 2 portions.)
     Hush puppies can be pan fried or deep fried.  Deep frying will cook the hush puppies evenly and they will retain their round shape.
     Step 1:  Place 2/3 cup of fine ground corn meal in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/3 cup of all purpose flour.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 2 pinches of garlic powder.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Mix the dry ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of whisked egg in a mixing cup.
     Add 1 teaspoon of bacon grease or vegetable oil.
     Add 1/4 cup of buttermilk.
     Whisk till blended.
     Step 3:  Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture while gently stirring.
     Step 4:  *Check the consistency.  The batter should be moist, yet thick enough to hold its shape when gathered with a scoop.  Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk if the batter is too dry.
     Step 5:  Chill the hush puppy mixture for 10 minutes, so the flavors meld.       
     Step 6:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     A 1 1/2 ounce scoop can be used to make the cornbread ball shapes or 1 1/2 ounce portions of the extra thick batter can be rolled into ball shapes by hand.  The hush puppy cornbread balls should be 1" to 1 1/2" in diameter.
     As soon as you form a round hush puppy, immediately place it in the hot deep frying oil.
     Work quickly, so all the hush puppies start cooking at nearly the same time.
     Step 7:  Fry the hush puppies till they are golden brown and the center temperature reaches 190ºF.
     Place the hush puppies on a wire screen roasting rack to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the hush puppies warm on a stove top.
     Pan Fried Catfish:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  (Or fry 2 medium size catfish for a hearty portion.)
     Step 1:  Select 1 or 2 whole skinned and gutted catfish that weigh about 10 ounces.
     Place 1 cup of milk in a long shallow container.
     Place the catfish in the milk.
     Step 2:  Place 1 cup of all purpose flour in a shallow wide container.
     Add 1 cup of corn meal.
     Add 1 cup of cracker meal.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of cayenne pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of onion powder.
     Add 2 pinches of garlic powder.
     Mix the dry ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Remove the catfish from the milk and place it in the seasoned flour mixture.
     Shake the pan, so the fish fry breading coats the catfish.
     Step 4:  Pick the catfish up by the tail and dip it in the milk a second time.
     Place the catfish in the seasoned fish fry breading mixture a second time.
     Shake the pan so the catfish is thoroughly coated.
     Step 5:  Place a wide cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add enough vegetable frying oil (or lard), so the oil is about 3/4" deep.
     Adjust the temperature, so the oil is 350ºF.
     Step 6:  Pick the catfish up by the tail and carefully place it in the hot oil in the pan.
     Pan fry the catfish on both sides till the coating is crispy golden brown and the center temperature is 145ºF.
     Use tongs to place the fried catfish on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.

     Pan Fried Catfish and Hush Puppies: 
     This recipe describes 1 simple entrée presentation.
     Place the catfish on a plate.
     Place a Southern style vegetable of your choice on the plate.  (Corn, butter beans, baked beans, cole slaw or fried okra are good choices.
     Place 2 or 3 hush puppies on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with a lemon wedge and a parsley sprig.
     Serve with hot sauce or hot pepper vinegar on the side!

     Fried Catfish and Hush Puppies are classic summertime comfort food!