Monday, September 12, 2011

Book Fifty: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

by Marcella Hazan

        Tomato Sauce with Garlic and Basil

Once again feeling a bit guilty for choosing such an easy recipe. I always feel that for blogging purposes I should opt for a more elaborate recipe to post. Simple however can be good or better than some of the more intricate and time consuming recipes.

I don't know what it is about restaurants, they always serve the pasta swimming in sauce - and this I am not a fan of. I prefer my pasta to have a light coating of sauce; so it needs to have bold flavor. You can not go wrong with fresh basil and garlic; and in my case a bit of chili pepper for heat. The recipe does not call for chili pepper, but I do like my food spicy so I added a homegrown Thai Chili.

Marcella instructs you to tear the basil leaves into small pieces. I resisted the urge to julienne them and tore them as instructed - a bit tedious; I would julienne them. To julienne basil, you stack several leaves together, roll and slice. Much faster than tearing each leaf into pieces.

Having to peel the tomatoes may sound tedious, but really there is no effort involved. To do this you just boil the tomatoes for about one minute or less (until the skin cracks), drain them, and as soon as they are cool enough to handle,  slide the skin off - and they do slide off effortlessly. Do be careful chopping the tomatoes, for they are a bit slippery without their skins.

(Edit: This is even better the next day!!)

Success meter (1-3): 3

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cooking In Parchment

Recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine

           Soy and Ginger Shrimp en Papillotes

Cooking in parchment is fun, easy, and makes for quick clean-up after!

I've always wanted to cook something in parchment and when I saw this recipe I jumped on it. The one drawback of cooking in parchment is not knowing when your food is done; and I need to learn to go with my gut instinct for the shrimp was a bit overdone. Whereas if you use aluminum foil you can always seal it back up easily if it is not cooked completely - but then you miss out on all the fun of making the packet, and cutting it open at the table for all to get that wonderful aroma when the steam is released. Not to mention the fun of everyone having their own little gift to open.

Success meter (1-3): 3

Start by folding a 15x24 inch sheet of parchement
 in half and draw a half heart.
Cut out the heart.

Place your food on one half of the heart.
(make sure to turn your sheet over
so that the pencil mark is on the outside.)

Starting at the top of the heart, fold over about 1/2 inch
of the edge, pressing down to make a crisp crease.
Continue making overlapping folds (like pleats), pressing
firmly and creasing the edge so the folds hold.
Twist the tip of the heart to finish.

Caution: Hot steam escapes!

Book Forty-Nine: A Passion for Potatoes

by Lydie Marshall

          Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Olive Oil

Who doesn't like garlic mashed potatoes? If you pass them up because you are on a restricted diet, you can have these. Note that there is no butter or cream which makes them low-fat and cholesterol free! These are not your Thanksgiving or steak house mashed potatoes, but not a bad substitute.

I used Yukon Gold potatoes which have a thin skin, so I chose to leave the peels on. It's important to use the best garlic you can find. Mine had a hint of green and the "green" flavor came out in the product. Also use an olive oil that you like the flavor of. You can kick these up a notch by adding fresh herbs or spices. I think scallions would be a nice addition.

The mashed potatoes turned out nice and soft and the olive oil made them so very creamy - almost as good as the real thing!

Success meter: (1-3): 3