Pesto Rotini

Rotini Pesto

I’ve talked several times here in Discovery Cooking about pesto (traditional and some variations), but I’ve never really done an actual post by itself, with or without a little pasta. So that’s where we’re gonna work at today. A beautiful, traditional preparations, done the way I think most Italians would do it.

For this post, I used rotini, but you can make many kinds of different pasta with it. Personally, I tend to like the kind of pasta that let’s you pick up the pesto, like rotini, shells, and even spaghetti — which actually works pretty well. And by the way, there are a lot of non-pasta recipes that also are brought alive with a little (or maybe a lot) of pesto. Done right, it might well be the best pasta sauce ever. It’s got a green from basil, a bit of the nut flavor from the pine nuts and some Parmigiano Reggiano. It also has a great olive oil flavor, as well. 

What makes pesto the best? It’s all in the ingredients. The top basil you can get your hands on, the freshest pine nuts you can get, good Parmigiano Reggiano in a piece, some garlic and some good, mild flavored olive oil — something you might enjoy eating with a bit of bread, for example. For my pesto, I use an Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which gives me a very good finish. You may want to experiment to find one that you like.

Here is the recipe:

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Chicken and Waffles — Sous Vide Edition

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and waffles apparently is a thing that goes way back, although I came across it only recently. I still haven’t figured out whether it’s a big breakfast or an interesting dinner. Either way, I guess it combines wonderful fried chicken, waffles and in my case, a very tasty bourbon-maple syrup topping. Oh yeah — it’s also done sous vide — which makes it just superb, in my opinion.

So for those who aren’t familiar with sous vide (are there people like that still?) we start out with the chicken, cooked sous vide at about 150 degrees for about two hours. For this recipe, I boned the chicken (except for the legs) before cooking with just a little oil and garlic. When that’s done, I used some flour, eggs and breadcrumbs, then fried the chicken until the breadcrumbs were just the right color. Because all the chicken is cooked to 150 degrees and left long enough to kill off any bacteria, it’s fresh and very juicy. 

While the recipe is cooking, I made the waffles, which are just the way the manufacturer says they should be, including a little buttermilk, then got to work on the bourbon and maple syrup mix, which is very easy but very flavorful. 

While I made this for dinner, chicken and waffles could easily cut down the chicken and make it into a quick breakfast.

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Curry Meatballs, Finally I Got It Right…

Curry Meatballs

Curry meatballs are something I’ve tried to make before and just didn’t care much for them. This time, the meatballs were delicious and it came together rather easily. In fact, now that I have a good idea what I’m doing, it may well be time to see if I can come up with some variations. This version really hits the spot though.

My original plan was to start with ground lamb, but, this being Cleveland, it seemed that finding lamb turned out to be much more of a hardship that one would hope. Yes, I can find it, but not without more time than I had on this particular day, so I opted instead for  beef, pork and veal, in what the butcher’s call a meatball mix. And rather than go through a lot of trying a lot of different ingredients (as I have in the past) I decided to try just a little coconut milk, a nice round of yellow (or golden) curry in a powder form. Add in lots of onions and garlic and, of course, some noodles.

The resulting curry meatballs were very, very good, even though the recipe turned out to be much simpler than I used to do, with less spectacular results. Sometime simpler is better, I guess.

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Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles aren’t anything all that special. They’re sugar cookies with a bit of cinnamon/sugar coating on the outside and not much else. Funny though, they’re one of those things that everybody loves, and if you’re heading to a little party (as I am later this weekend) they’re a must. This time around, the specialty here is that the snickerdoodles are made with butter and bread flour, a trick I learned from King Arthur’s Flour, and which I can recommend without reservations.

So apart from the butter and bread flour — both of which may not make a lot of difference — the REAL reason I make these cookies is because of something else in my mind, anyway. Snickerdoodles were something I could always count on my mother to make, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but also as just a welcome home or about any other good reason she could think of. They were never a big deal, but they almost always were there, just in case you needed a little something.

I miss them, and her.

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Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Raisin oatmeal cookies are a special treat here in good ‘ol Cleveland, and one of those things that, after I’ve made them, I can’t figure out why I’ve waited so long to do that. They could be one of the best I make, although that depends on who you ask, I guess. And this time around, I am headed off to a party over the weekend, so this treat will probably sell out rather quickly, I would think.

The recipe is very simple. It does, however, require good oatmeal (none of that instant variety) and uses butter (definitely no margarine). There is something special about good oatmeal — especially steel cut oatmeal if you can get it — that adds a special quality to the finished cookies. And the butter. There is something about butter that really makes the cookies soft and, basically, just more “cookie-like” if I can make that a word.

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Foie Gras, Maybe for Brunch or Dinner

foie gras

Foie Gras is one of those things that, if you like it, there is almost nothing on the planet that will come even close to that flavor. And if you’re one of those that for many reasons don’t like it, well it does mean more for those of us who do. And when you have a lovely daughter who sends you two very large foie gras, that’s something to celebrate. 

This foie gras is set up to be either a brunch or dinner, combined with hash browns, a few sugar snap peas, plenty of bacon and a little parsley. It works very well in either capacity. The snap peas and bacon can be done a little ahead of time (I like to make my bacon with a little water. It works really well that way.) The hash browns get finished as close as you can to the foie gras, and it all comes together rather quickly on a plate.

The foie gras is a delicate thing to cook. First, get it warmed as close to room temperature as you can. Add a little salt and pepper. Then, using the highest heat you can get on your stove, sear it for two minutes on one side and just a minute or so on the other. That way, the foie gras stays nice and firm and doesn’t turn into liquid, which obviously is a real no-no. This is one of those lunches or dinners you will crave forever more.

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Turkey Vegetable Soup

Turkey Vegetable Soup

It’s getting to be soup time again. This is one of those things I like the most about cooking, getting a good hot soup made for those cool days when nothing else will do. The turkey vegetable soup in this recipe also gave me the time to try out my new One Pot, which makes a very creditable full-flavored soup,  in much less time than I thought it might take — about an hour, in fact.

The soup is straight forward, with some Asian-inspired vegetables and good old turkey thighs. The veggies were what I had on hand, so you can play around with them a bit, but generally, you want to pay attention to when you add them if you’re doing the soup in the normal way, adding them so that the cooking time works out right. And of course, the times for finishing up the soup should probably take at least two hours, with veggies going in  little later than in the One Pot. You can use whatever veggies you happen to have handy.

If you have a one pot, I generally put all the veggies in at once, near the beginning. The pressure cooker in the soup category on the One Pot uses a pressure setting and the veggies get done much faster and more evenly that way.

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