Friday, December 9, 2011

Tuscany soup

What is better than a warm soup on a cold day?  Ready?  a spicy warm soup!  And it just doesn't get any better that this.  There is nothing like enjoying a rich, creamy, spicy soup to soothe the palate, and warm the body.  If you like a good bowl of soup, you have got to try...Tuscany soup (spicy Italian sausage and Kale soup).

Ingredients: [the measurements here are enough to feed four, if you wish to increase it, just add more of the ingredients and, of course, get a bigger pot - bon appetite!]
1.  Russet potatoes - I would use three or four
2.  One big white onion
3.  A few cloves of garlic
4.  Spicy Italian ground sausage. (1lb.)
5.  Bacon. (1lb.) - I like the thick cut and peppered bacon
6.  Chicken broth (32 oz. or 2 cans)
7.  Heavy cream
8.  Red pepper flakes
9.  A bunch of Kale
10.  Optional: a hint of Cayenne pepper

First and foremost, prep your potatoes by cutting them thinly into semi circles, and then peel and cube the onion, and smash and peel and dice the garlic.  Bunch up some bacon and slice them into smaller pieces.  Now you are ready to place the sausage into a medium high heated Dutch oven or pot.  The sausage is naturally oily therefore there is no need to add oil at all.  When the sausage is browned, remove it from the pot and put it aside for later.  Don't worry about the remains in the pot that will be deglazed in a little bit.  Throw in the chopped bacon and brown that.  Then thrown in your onions and garlic.  Add the crushed red pepper to the mix, this will allow the onions and bacon to absorb the spice (which is nice).  Then add a little bit of chicken broth to deglaze the pot.  Add the potatoes and pour the rest of the broth (you can add a tad bit of water to help with the simmering process).  Cover the pot and let it simmer for at least 1/2 hour.  Then add salt and pepper and more crushed red flakes (to taste).  While the soup continues to cook, chop the kale. The green goes into the pot at the last minute, before being served, it should retain a little body when eaten.  Add 1.5 cup of heavy cream to the pot.  Let the cream assimilate.  Now add the sausage.  Let all that is in the pot rejoice, I mean, merry.  Now add the kale, about 2-4 min. before it is served.  Enjoy!

Eat with:
1.  A delicious and simple garden salad
2.  good bread
3.  Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese for a slight but good kick.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Okay, I understand...brussel sprouts are not exactly the most favored of all the veggies in the plant kingdom.  But there is a way to prepare them to where they can be transformed into something absolutely savory.  Ready? "Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts."  It is the simplest of ingredients...the easiest of techniques, and a huge, huge, pay off of flavor, it is almost like redeeming brussel sprouts from near annihilation.  Now, just like I gave you my word on the anchovies (from the last post), I will once again give you my word on this.  You will like this taste so much, you may never do brussel sprouts any other way, I promise.

1.  Fresh Brussel Sprouts - I like to get the big kind, not the baby sprouts.
2.  Extra-virgin Olive Oil - you can't go wrong with this fruity flavor (please do not try regular Olive oil, it just doesn't have the same flavor - and when you are dealing with brussel sprouts, you need all the flavor help you can get).
3.  Kosher salt - The texture of Kosher salt is superb.
4.  Fresh crack black pepper - no other way, no other kind will do.

First, cut your brussel sprouts into two by halving them.  Second, remove the base of the sprouts (that would be the stubby or "woodsy" type texture).  Third, place the sprouts on a cookie sheet.  Then drizzle it with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper them (be ever so slightly generous with all three components).  Set your oven on 400 degrees F, and place the cookie sheet or baking sheet inside the oven, and roast it for 30-35 min.  You will see some really neat caramelizations on your sprouts.  Transfer them from the sheet to a serving bowl or a plate.  Bon appetit (enjoy your meal)!

I have had some avowed brussel sprout haters change their minds when the roasted sprouts hit their tastes buds.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pasta con Aglio e Olio

1.  Pasta - either spaghetti or fettuccine.  Of course, the traditional way is to use spaghetti, but I like the thickness of fettuccine.  Thankfully, we have individual soul liberty on these matters.
2.  Extra-virgin Olive Oil - great fruity smell and taste.
3.  Anchovies - That's right, anchovies.  Don't worry, they will melt in with the oil and garlic and will provide a delicious salty flavor to the mix.  You do not want to skip over this ingredient.  You can try, but you will regret it.  Believe me, I am not an anchovy fan myself, but I love it in this dish (and you will too).
4.  Garlic - lots of cloves of garlic (at least 10 cloves).  Of course, peeled and minced.
5.  Red crushed pepper flakes - just a pinch.  This adds a slight kick to the overall flavor.
6.  Parsley – fresh.  Handful and rough chop.
7.  Optional: Parmesan cheese.

Cook the pasta.  Make sure that when the water (for your pasta) is boiling that you add salt to your water to season the pasta.  Add some oil to the water (which helps prevent the pasta from sticking) others don't.  I have a preference of adding a little oil.  Cook the pasta to "al dente" (or a little firm) or completely soft (its all up to your taste).  While the pasta is cooking, fire up a skillet (low to medium heat).  Cover the skillet with extra virgin olive oil (be liberal).  When the oil gets hot, add the minced garlic (it should have a low and slow sizzle).  Add a pinch of red crushed peppers.  And now, add a few anchovies to the garlic infused oil.  The anchovies will slowly dissolve and will turn into an amazing salty seasoning that will add such a different yet lively flavor to your pasta.  Drain the pasta (really well) and then add it to the oil by tossing it in the skillet.  Cut off the fire.  Garnish it with fresh parsley. 

Eat with:
Steak or shrimp
Vegetables or salad

Friday, May 13, 2011

Extremely easy home made tortilla chips

1.  Corn tortillas (you may also use flour tortillas if you wish).
2.  Peanut oil. (Excellent oil to use for high temperature cooking) - unfortunately some people are allergic to peanuts and that would also mean they could react to peanut oil also - in that case you may use vegetable oil or canola.
3.  Seasonings:  Garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.

Heat up the peanut oil in a cast iron skillet (well, really anything that is deep will do - an electric fryer would do well).  Cut the corn tortilla chips into sections (with a pizza cutter or something similar).  When the oil is hot enough (a good way of testing the oil is to stick the end of a wooden spoon directly into the oil, and when you notice small bubbles around the spoon, then the oil is hot enough and you are ready to cook the tortilla "chips").  Be careful with the hot oil (if you ever had the misfortune of being scorched before, you know what I mean).  The cooking process takes hardly any time at all.  For me, I just drop the tortilla chip sections and flip them for even cooking.  They turn light brown really fast.  Again, they cook so fast you can ruin them in less than a minute, if you aren't careful.  When you get them out of the oil, place them on a plate or basket with a paper towel under them.  Season them with the "seasonings" mixture, preferably while they are fresh and hot out of the oil, so that the seasonings stick.

Eat with:
1.  Your favorite store bought or home made salsa.
2.  Fresh Avocado Salsa (I think it is the first recipe in this blog).
3.  Melted cheese or cheese dip. (You can even add some Jalapenos for an added zing).