Cotechino Sausage with Cous Cous Saute

Last week I went to hear Mario Batali talk at Harvard, and everything he talked about brought me right back to Italy this summer, and my god I missed it.  After listening to him talk and watch him cook for an hour, I kicked myself for letting my passion for cooking and maintaining this blog fall by the way side. But it is a new month, soon to be a new year, and the time to change is now. This recipe took parts from what I saw while at Mario, and turned it into a new dish.  This sausage was what Mario made for us and I am obsessed.  It has so much flavor, probably from how many types of meat are in it and it also comes from Modena, so naturally it is fantastic. This can be made vegetarian and is a simple fantastic meal to enjoy whenever.

Ingredients:

  • Cotechino sausage (or other Italian Sausage)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 3/4 cup cooked cous cous
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan
  • salt and pepper
  • balsamic vinegar

How to:

  1. Slice the sausage into disks.
  2. In a pan, place your butter in and then cook the sausage until crispy and a dark/golden brown on the edges.
  3. Remove the sausage from the pan and place on the side.
  4. Take your zucchini and onion and shred them.
  5. Then add them into the same pan your were cooking the sausage in, add in the garlic
  6. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and cook down until everything is tender.
  7. Add in the cous cous and continue to cook for a few minutes until incorporated.
  8. Add in the parmesan and cook on low heat until everything gets cheesy.
  9. Remove from heat and add the sausage back in.
  10. Drizzle with a bit of balsamic dressing and more cheese, and enjoy!

 

Pasta Carbonara With Peas

As you saw from my previous post I made a delicious Italian meringue buttercream, which was awesome but left me with several egg yolks with no purpose.  Although a pasta dish isn’t exactly what I wanted after a meal based completely on cake, I couldn’t let the opportunity to try this classic pasta dish pass me by.  This was definitely different then I expected when making this, but it was delicious and surprisingly simple.  I added peas, which isn’t traditional, but having little bits of green made me feel better about a dish full of bacon and pasta. Try this dish when you have extra egg yolks on hand, or if you just want a really delicious meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion
  • 3 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 strips of bacon (or pancetta)
  • 1/2 cup frozen (or fresh) peas
  • 1/2 dry white wine
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cups shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • fresh ground pepper

How to:

  1. Begin by getting your salted water ready to boil.
  2. Chop up your bacon and onion.
  3. In a pan begin to heat up the oil and once hot add in the bacon and the onion.
  4. Cook for 8 minutes until the bacon starts to brown and the onions start to tender.
  5. Then add in your wine and peas, cook until it has begun to reduce.
  6. At the same time, in whatever bowl you will be serving the pasta in, add the egg yolks, parsley, and cheese. Whisk together with a fork.
  7. Once the bacon and onion has reduced, turn off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.  You don’t want to add it too hot to the eggs or it will cook them, which will make the sauce stringy.
  8. Your water has hopefully boiled during this time and your pasta is on it’s way to being perfectly al dente.
  9. Right before it is done and ready to be strained, add the bacon mixture to the egg mixture and stir.
  10. Once your pasta is ready, strain and transfer right away to the egg/bacon mixture.  Add in the pasta water to help create a creamier sauce.
  11. Flavor with fresh pepper and a bit of salt, and of course cheese.
  12. Eat quickly since it is only hot because of the pasta.


 

A Party Without Cake is Just a Meeting

There is a quote from Julia Child that says “a party without cake is a just a meeting” and I thought that was a wonderful theme for a party! So I decided to have a tea and cake party and try my hand at making three different types of cakes.  The results were wonderful! I will admit that these three cakes have three different levels of work, so you can choose accordingly. There is so much to celebrate, so don’t forget to take a break and enjoy some cake!

The cakes:

  • Matcha Mille Crepe Cake with honey whipped cream and raspberry jam
  • Cheese Cake
  • Orange Cake with Mango filling and an Italian Meringue Butter Cream

Cheese Cake

The easiest to make is the cheese cake.  You can make this with any of your favorite cheeses but the ones I chose were Edam (with the beautiful red wax shell), a wheel of brie, and colby jack cheese sticks.  Basically you are going to make a “cake” out of different cheeses, and decorate using some cream cheese “frosting”

How to: Begin by making the cream cheese “frosting”.  Mine was sun dried tomato and basil flavored, but you can do whatever flavor you desire. Take block of cream cheese. Add in 1.5 tablespoons of sun dried tomato chopped or dried, one teaspoon of basil, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Salt and pepper to taste.  Add a bit of water and whip together to soften it and make it pipe-able. I added a bit of dye to make it a bit more red.

Cutting the cheese sticks into cubes and make a circle layer base. Then top with the brie, then the edam.  I topped it with a few sprigs of basil and filled the plate with crackers.  This was a lovely presentation, but just know you will have to take it apart to eat most of it.

Matcha Crepe Cake

This is an average hardness level recipe.  The components are all simple together, but are a little time consuming to put together.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon matcha powder
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 raspberry jam

How to:

  1. In a large bowl add your flour and matcha powder and make a well.  Add the eggs to the well and begin to beat them into the flour.  Slowly add in the milk and whisk the mixture until smooth. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. In a nonstick pan, spray with a little pan spray and set to medium low heat. Then ladle in the crepe batter, about 1/4 cup per crepe.  Make sure the batter is even across the bottom of the pan.  If cooked on low they will cook through so you don’t need to flip them.
  3. I made these the night before and put them in the fridge until the next day.  You can make this all the same day but depending on your filling you will want the crepes completely cooled.
  4. To make the whipped cream, simply whip the cream, add honey and a tough of vanilla and boom. Done.
  5. Begin layering the crepes. I did a layer with whipped cream (just a ring around the outside and a bit in the center), then a layer of thin raspberry.  Traditionally it should be at least 20 layers tall, but I lost count.
  6. I love color so I made the whipped cream bright blue, but you don’t have to do that.

The last cake is a labor. I wanted to do it to test my culinary skills but it has a lot of components, and without a stand mixer, it was a bit of a bear.  So with a stand mixer, this could be a breeze, but if you don’t have one, would not recommend. I also am not going to post this recipe yet because I can definitely improve it, so when that happens, it will be here! For now enjoy some of the pictures!  I can’t wait to develop my decorating skills.

To Discover a New City, You Must First Taste It

I am back from my two week adventure through Europe.  It feels like I have come out of a weird dream, like it hardly happened at all. It was an experience I will not soon forget.  One of my main goals of this trip was to eat my way through the countries I was in, and although I didn’t get to eat everything I could have dreamed of, I ate some truly wonderful things.  Join me, as we travel around Europe through food!

First Stop:

Copenhagen

Copenhagen is known for pastries but I was surprised by the amount of different culture’s food located around the city.  Nearly every country was represented on every street corner.  They also have this specialty that is basically like an open faced sandwich but with one piece of bread, it was delicious and decadent. They also have a cake called Christianhavn cake, that was out of this world.

 


London

London is a big city with a lot going on.  I knew from the start that I definitely needed to have fish and chips, Indian food, and High Tea.  I was delightfully surprised by again how many cultures I was able to experience in this city.  I was also amazed by High Tea and Cream Tea (like high tea but with just the desserts and biscuits).  London had some of my favorite surprises in food.


Barcelona

I wish I had more time to spend here, but we really only had one day to experience the city.  Started off the morning strong with fresh squeezed orange juice, managed to get our hands on sangria by the beach, churros by the bagful, and tapas. OH and the cheapest but most delicious (and strong) mojitos.


Italy

I knew I would love Italy, and I was not disappointed.  From the fresh pastas, delicious sauces, and markets selling fresh produce on every corner, I was sold from the start.  Meals were simple, but so flavorful, every ingredient is made with such care and is of high quality.  Every day I enjoyed a cappuccino and pastry from a local bar.  I got fed by a local Italian, AND we learned the magic of apertivo.  Apertivo is when you order a drink and you get access to a buffet or just get some free food. It is magic, and I wish we did it more.  That brings me to the drinks of Italy.  Processo was so cheap and delicious, especially when made into a fresh peach bellini.  Lambrusco is a sparkling sweet red.  And I was not disappointed in the house wine ever.  Italy was one of my favorite food destinations, I had to resist throwing away all of my clothes and filling my backpack with food. I definitely will be going back, hungry for more.


Berlin

Berlin was a destination with a short time again.  I read that it was a hot spot for delicious doner kebab and Vietnamese food, so those definitely were on my to try list. Also listed was schnitzel, pretzels, beer, and curry wurst.  They have a whole museum on curry wurst so I knew I had to have it, but I must say…not my favorite.  What were some of my favorites were the doner kebab salad box I had, the potato salad that had apples and pickles in it, and surprisingly I found a beer I LIKED! Shocking if you know me!

 


I wish it was more socially acceptable to eat 6 meals a day, and I also wish the heat made it more easily attainable.  But what I was able to eat and enjoy was truly memorable and delicious.  There are more detailed stories of everything I ate on my instagram so check those out!

 

Fire and Desire Burger

Ever since I participated in Battle of the Burger competition last year I have been continuously thinking of what I can do to upstage my recipe last year.  Don’t get me wrong, last years Beg for it Burger was delicious.  But I am a year older and I have had a year full of new culinary experiments so I want this burger to reflect all that I have learned. So every component of this burger is made fresh by me, bread, aioli, jalapeños, everything but the cheese (next year I swear). I find that this burger is a good representation of everything I’ve done over the last year. It’s got heat, sweet, and requires a lot of work to make it happen, so pretty well sums up the end of my college experience!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs The All Natural Schweid & Sons Beef (6, 4oz burger)
  • 2 links churrizo
  • 1 cup thick queso
  • 3 ears corns
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 1/2 cup Pickled jalapeños slices
  •  1 cup cilantro lime aioli
  • Focaccia bread with caramelized onions on top
  • sweet sassy sauce (a sweet pepper jelly)
  • Fire and desire sauce ( a boozy hot sauce)
  • Burger spices: cumin, chili powder, salt pepper, garlic and onion powder

How to:

  1. Begin by seasoning your meat with cumin (a little goes a long way), chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.  Save the salt til the end. Let sit for at least an hour or two so all the flavors can marry.
  2. Make your queso and pour into a skinny mason jar, and place into freezer.
  3. Make a sheet of focaccia bread topped with caramelized onions.
  4. The pickled jalapeño recipe can be found here, I like at least 4-7 per burger.
  5. The aioli recipe can be found here, and you want at least tablespoon per burger.
  6. Now time to cook! Grab one patty worth of meat, and split it in half. And gently form a disc. Grab your queso from the freezer and slice one 1 cm thick disc. Work the churrizo around the disk. Place in the center of your patty. Then form the remaining meat around sealing the edges best you can without overworking the meat, sprinkle with a bit of salt. Then cook. Since I am in a city apartment I cook on the stove then move to the oven.
  7. Now for the corn you want to blanch it then place on the grill to give it some char. Slice off all the kernels and mix it with mayo and chipotle.
  8. Now once everything is ready, time to assemble. Slice the focaccia in half (or use two pieces of yours is flat) then layer on some of the corn mixture. Top with your perfect burger.
  9. Add the pickled jalapeños and spread the aioli on top of the top bun.
  10. If you like the heat the way it is, enjoy! Or use one or the sauces to add a little bit more!
  11. Time to eat!

Disclaimer, when I made the burger the first time I didn’t have an opportunity to make the focaccia, but when I made it again I didn’t have my camera; but this tortilla shell worked not to bad the first time!

BANH Voyage, Mon a-MI

Summer is the perfect time for trips, sips, and flips.  Flipping burgers on the grill that is.  Recently I have been reeving up my creative juices to come up with a burger that redefines how you think about burgers.  Friends, I think I did it.  This Banh Mi inspired burger changes textures, flavors, and ideas about conventional burgers.  And it is all the better for breaking the mold.  Something that is extra special about this burger is that it is gluten free.  Now all of your celiac and gluten intolerant friends can join in on the summer fun.  And because it is summer, you should enjoy this burger on your back deck with a full glass of Sutter Home Riesling.  Riesling is the perfect pairing to match the ginger, spicy, Asian, and citrus flavors incorporated into this recipe. This is what the burger breaks down to: a vermicelli noodle bun, with a Thai peanut sauce, fresh cilantro and Thai basil, crunchy cucumber and carrots, and a burger patty mixed with mushrooms and a sweet glaze on top.

Ingredients:

  • 2lb Ground beef
  • 6-10 large white button or baby portobello mushrooms
  • 3-4 cups cooked vermicelli noodles
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large bunches of fresh cilantro
  • 1 large bunch of fresh Thai basil
  • 7 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 7 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 zest from an orange
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 3 large carrots ribbon-ed or shredded
  • 1 large cucumber shredded or sliced
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoon mayo
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 2 teaspoon sriracha (more if you like heat)
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 soy sauce (make sure it is gluten free)
  • optional heat: kimchi

How to:

  1. Okay, looking at the list of ingredients, that looks like a lot.  But it really isn’t, and I am going to break it down into parts.
  2. First the buns: take cooked vermicelli noodles and mix with the three beaten eggs.  Add in about 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, garlic, and onion powder.  Mix well to incorporate and place into the fridge (for at least 1/2 an hour). When it is time to cook it, using a small egg pan or circular cookie shell, pour in 1/2 a cup of the egg noodle mixture onto a pre-greased pan. Cook low and slow until one side is golden and firm, then flip onto the other side.  It will be firm on each side and set aside for later.
  3. For the peanut sauce: in a food processor combine the the peanut butter, mayo, sriracha, beef broth, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, and 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce. Pulse to combine into a smooth sauce.
  4. For the patty: dice up the mushrooms in a food processor until small pieces but not completely minced.  Mix this into the ground meat.  Add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.  Also add in 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest. Let sit for 1/2 hour at least to let flavors combine.  When forming the patty get a fist size of meat and gently form into a patty.  Use your thumb to create a slight dent in the center of the patty. Cook on a grill or pan until medium (or desired temp).  When the burger is almost done, slather on a tablespoon of the sweet glaze just before it is done.
  5. The glaze: oyster sauce, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fine orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce.  Stir to combine and spread on top of the burger before it is done.
  6. Veggies: slice them up fine.
  7. Assembly: Add the peanut sauce to the top of the burger patty, add the fresh herbs here. I like a solid teaspoon or so of cilantro and a leaf or two of thai basil chopped up.  Add on the patty and top with the shredded veggies, add kimchi if you want some extra heat (which I always do).
  8. Pop some Shutter Home Riesling and enjoy!