Tag Archives: italian

Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan

29 Sep

Eggplant parmesan is a dish that is a little involved, but by no means difficult. You have to batter and fry the eggplant (I’ve tried skipping this step, and let me tell you from experience that it is there for a reason; you NEED it!) before you layer the dish (like lasagna) which is why it takes longer to make. If you have an extra hour for dinner, though, it is totally worth it. I made marinara from scratch (see my previous post about the Great Tomato Invasion of ’09) but you could just as easily use canned tomatoes, or a jar of pre-made sauce.

You’re basically getting two recipes for the price of one in this post, because I’m going to give you my recipe for marinara sauce. Marinara is a critical component-too little and the whole dish is too dry, but you don’t want too much either or you end up with more of an eggplant sauce than an eggplant parmesan.

In short, do not be afraid of multi-step dishes! They are easy, I swear it. Make this for your Mom the next time she comes over for dinner. She will be so impressed that not only can you cook, but that you eat your veggies. Mothers love that shit.

Eggplant Bit.

1 medium to large eggplant (see picture below)

1 C (ish) breadcrumbs

1 C flour

2-3 eggs

2-4 C of cheese, mozzarella, jack, provolone, one or all three. Whatever you have or prefer.

1-2 C Parmesan

This is an eggplant.

Cut your eggplant into 1/2″ (ish) slices.

Now you’ve got to drain the eggplant (annoying, but necessary) in a colander for 1-2 hours. Layer the eggplant in a strainer, putting a single layer of eggplant, salting the layer, topping it with more eggplant and salting again.

Put something heavy on it and leave it for at least an hour.

While you wait for the eggplant to catch up, make the sauce.

Sauce bit.

I forgot to take picture of the sauce bit, so I hope you will forgive me!

Marinara Sauce:

1.5 – 2 lbs fresh tomatoes

OR

1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes

OR

1 jar of pre-made pasta sauce

½ medium or 1 small onion, diced

3-5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp salt

Splash of dry red wine (you can leave this out if you want)

Ground pepper to taste

¼ tsp sugar

1-1.5 TB fresh basil, sliced, or 2 tsp dry

Olive oil

If you are using fresh tomatoes:

Put a pot of water on the stove to boil. It has to be big enough to contain all of the tomatoes under the water. Take each tomato and cut a shallow X onto the bottom of each. When the water starts boiling, slowly put the tomatoes into the water and allow them to boil for 30 seconds. Allow the tomatoes to cool by plunging them into an ice bath. When they are cool, peel them and squeeze the seeds and juices out. Chop up the rest of the pulp and put aside for now.

Pour 2 TB of olive oil into a pan and heat. Add the onion and the garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the wine and allow it to boil for a minute before adding the tomatoes, salt, pepper, Worcestershire and sugar. If you are using dry basil, add it now. If you have a stick blender or a potato masher, blend the sauce up a bit to give it a thicker consistency. If you don’t have either of these things don’t worry about it.

Your sauce will be kind of thin, especially if you used fresh tomatoes.

Simmer it for at least 20 minutes. The sauce will thicken and should look more like this.

If you are using fresh basil, add it after the sauce has simmered.

Ta da! Marinara sauce.

Put the sauce aside, you are going to use it later when you assemble the parmesan.

Right now (if the time is up on the eggplant draining) you are going to batter and fry your eggplant.

Take out your eggplant slices and line them on paper towels, patting them dry as you go.

Get two wide, shallow bowls and put the eggs in one and the breadcrumbs and flour in the other. Mix up the flour and breadcrumbs and scramble the egg but don’t add anything.

Get a deep frying pan (cast iron is the best but just use what you have) and fill it with 1/2″ of canola (or veggie) oil. Heat the oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Another way to check is if you drop a bit of the breadcrumb mix into the oil it should start to fry immediately and then rise to the surface.

Once the oil is ready, you are going to take an eggplant slice. Dip both sides in the egg, then coat it with the breadcrumb mix and slowly put it in the oil. Fry on both sides for about 45 sec, until it is golden brown. Layer between paper towels to drain (layer of eggplant, layer of paper towels, repeat). You can fry about 2 slices at a time, but not too much more than that. If you over-crowd the pan the temperature of the oil will actually lower and you don’t want that.

Repeat for the rest of the slices.

Preheat the oven to 350˚, and you are going to layer some more! Get a glass baking dish, the one I used was rectangular, I think 10×15.

Put a layer of sauce, layer of eggplant, layer of cheese, layer of parmesan. Repeat until all the ingredients are gone, making sure that you end with a cheese layer.

Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melty and slightly browned on the edges.

Let cool for 15 minutes, then cut and serve.

NOM NOM NOM!

❤ Stef

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Recipe: Ricotta Cake

19 Jun

Original recipe by Mario Batali (I modified ingredients slightly).

I had no idea that ricotta cake existed, but apparently it does, because here it is! This was extremely easy to make. You basically just mix everything together and throw it into the oven. BAM! (Sorry, Emeril.)

You’re supposed to use a cake pan, but I used ramekins because they are more fun. These are excellent served with fresh fruit, either for dessert or (gasp!) breakfast. It’s got eggs and cheese. It’s totally breakfast material.

Please excuse my wonky measurements. I halved the recipe, and dividing 3/4 by 2 is more difficult than it looks.

Olive oil, for greasing the ramekins

1/2 C + 6 TB ricotta cheese

1/3 C sugar

zest of 1 orange

1.5 eggs, separated (this is the most annoying part.)

Combine the ricotta, sugar, orange zest and egg yolks.

Mix until combined. Add half of the egg whites to the mix and stir, then add the other half and stir.

Grease the ramekins (my batter fit into 3).

Divide the batter into the ramekins, and put in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, until the tops are light golden brown.

And that’s all!

Except for the eating part, of course. That is is best part of the whole baking experience!

Oh, yes, ricotta cake. You make me happy.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Spring Onion Pizza with Sweet Peppers and Fresh Sausage

29 May

I’ve begun to really appreciate pizza as a delicious way to use up veggies and meats that you otherwise might not think to use together. When in doubt, put it on a pizza! Tasty. Pizza is also an amazing dish to make with kids. My Mom used to make pizza with my siblings and I when we were young, and I remember thinking that it was so much fun to be able to choose your own toppings! The best was that we never fought about it. We were actually encouraged to split pizzas in half and slather that pizza with whatever we wanted. Homemade pizza nights were always the best!

I get a CSA box every two weeks, and this week’s box has fresh spring onion, gypsy peppers, heritage tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, apples, and rosemary. I took one look at the onions, which still had the green bits attached, and knew they belonged on a pizza. I made the pizza dough and the sauce from scratch, but toppings were chopped and topped. As most toppings are!

I am extremely pleased with the dough recipe that I used. It is very easy to handle and roll out, yet pleasingly crispy. It also has a short rise time. Totally recommended for all of your pizza dough needs!

You will need:

1 recipe for pizza dough, see below

1 recipe for pizza sauce, see below

1 fresh sweet Italian sausage, casing removed

2-3 sweet gypsy peppers (or 1 bell pepper)

1 fresh spring onion, green tops attached

8 oz mozzarella cheese

First make the dough. You’ll need to allow it to rise, which will take 1-2 hours.

Dough, recipe from epicurious.com

3/4 C warm water (105°F to 115°F)

1 envelope active dry yeast

2 C all purpose flour

1 tsp honey

3/4 tsp salt

3 TB olive oil

Mix the warm water and the yeast and allow the yeast to dissolve, approximately 5 minutes. Mix together the flour, honey and salt, then drizzle in the olive oil and the water-yeast mixture. Stir together all the ingredients until the dough forms a ball. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, adding flour if the dough is very sticky. Put the ball of dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour. I allowed mine to rise for 2.

Pre-rise.

Post-rise.

Post-rise.

I love poking bread dough after it has risen. It satisfies the same libidinal urge that stomping on bubble wrap does! When you’re ready, roll out the dough, starting from the center and working your way out. Don’t roll over the edges; this will leave a nice crust. This dough can be rolled very thin without breaking or tearing, which is awesome.

After the dough has risen, before you roll it out, make the tomato sauce.

Sauce:

1 8oz can tomato sauce

1 tsp garlic (2-3 garlic cloves)

1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce

1/2  tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp dried oregano

a few turns of a pepper mill

Mix all ingredients together and allow to simmer for as long as it takes you to roll out the crust, 5-10 minutes.

Put the rolled out dough onto a baking sheet and smooth the sauce onto it. The best way to do this is the back of a metal spoon.

Now you get together your pizza toppings!

Put about half of the toppings sans cheese onto the crust.

Cut the mozzarella into slices and layer half of the cheese onto the first half of the toppings. Then layer more toppings and cheese, ending with cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20  minutes.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes, then cut and devour!

❤ Stef

The BrokeAss Gourmet Good Vibes Giveaway Post: Recipe: Asparagus with Lemon, Parmesan and Prosciutto and Rolled Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce

23 Apr

I am so very, very excited to have won! You can read all about the contest and the prize at both BrokeAss Gourmet and at Good Vibes. OMG!

Anyway, I wanted to write a more detailed post about my submission. So, here you have it! The step by step instructions, pictures included, of how to make my winning 3 course sexy locavore meal! (Well, 2 courses, anyway. The Molten Chocolate Cake has already been published in my blog. You can find the recipe here.)

Oh, and just a quick note, I have the recipes listed here in order of course, but if you actually make all 3 courses you should make the lasagna first, pop it in the oven, then start on the asparagus. If you plan on making dessert, I’d cook the cakes halfway then put them in the oven after you eat the asparagus so that by the time you’re done with dinner, the cakes are ready to go!

Asparagus with Lemon, Prosciutto and Parmesan

Ingredients:
1 small bunch asparagus tips
1/2 lemon
2 thin slices prosciutto, chopped into big pieces
1-2 TB parmesan, to top
salt
pepper
1 tsp olive oil

Cut the very bottom off of the asparagus, but leave whole otherwise.
Cook in a shallow pan with 1″ of water for 3-5 min, just until bright green. This is about what 1″ of water looks like.
This is what they will look like when you need to turn off the heat. Bright green! See the color difference?
Strain the water. Add 1/2 lemon of juice and about 1/4 tsp salt and a few turns of a pepper mill. Cook for another 3-5 minutes, until asparagus is cooked as you like it. (I like mine crisp, so I would cook for about 3 min, but you may like yours more well done.) Remove to a plate. Crisp prosciutto in the pan for about 1 minute. Top the asparagus with the prosciutto, parmesan, cracked pepper, and the olive oil. Serve. Yes, it tastes as good as it looks!

Rolled Lasagna with Bechamel

Ingredients:

Lasagna Rolls:
1/3 C chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 C ricotta
1/2 C jack cheese
1.5 C uncooked chard, leaves and stems
2 oz prosciutto (3 thin slices)
6 lasagna noodles
1 TB olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
pepper

Sauce:
1 TB butter
1 C milk
1 TB flour
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
pepper

Rolls:
Set oven to 400. Cook noodles according to package directions, cutting the cook time by about 1/4. We don’t want the noodles to be cooked all the way, because we will be finishing the dish in the oven.
Mix together ricotta, jack cheese, salt and pepper.
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. When translucent, add chard and 1/4 C water.
Cook until reduced by half. Add more water throughout cooking if needed. Cut the prosciutto pieces in half lengthwise. When the chard and noodles are done, you’re ready to roll. (Ha!) Lay the noodles on a flat surface.
Divide all ingredients by 6; there should be about 1 TB for each noodle. Smooth 1 TB of cheese, 1 TB chard, and a piece of prosciutto on the noodle.
Gently roll and place in an oiled casserole dish seam
side down.
Make sauce.

Sauce!:
Melt 1 TB butter in a pan. Add 1 TB flour; whisk to make a roux.
Slowly add 1 C milk, allowing ingredients to incorporate before adding more. This is what the sauce will look like when you add the milk.
Then you should whisk to fully incorporate the milk, and it will look like this.
Then add some more milk, and repeat until you’ve added all the milk. When you’ve added all the milk, add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. When adding the nutmeg, remember, a little really does go a long way! Don’t over do it or the sauce will taste like Christmas, which isn’t what we’re going for here. 🙂
Allow sauce to simmer for about 5 min. You want the sauce to be thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon.
Turn off heat, pour sauce over noodle rolls. Top with parmesan.
Bake for 20 min. After 20 min, turn heat up to broil and bake for another 5 min to brown the top.
Yum! Serve, and enjoy!
I adore lasagna rolls. They feel so much more fancy than normal lasagna, and they are actually really easy (and cheap!) to make.

Thanks again to everyone heading over from BrokeAss Gourmet and Good Vibrations Magazine. If you had any questions about the recipes, please don’t hesitate to email me at sefarros at gmail dot com.

Happy Eating!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Cheese Tortellini with Lemony Chicken and Asparagus

19 Mar

I usually post Fridays, but I am flying to Seattle this evening for an interview with Seattle Pacific University. I didn’t want to deprive you of my culinary genius for a whole 24 hours, so I thought I would just list my recipe early this week. 😉
This recipe is very easy and super delicious. I tend to cook a lot of pastas and soups, for a few reasons.
1. I’m broke.
2. They are easy to make, and require minimal clean up.
3. My boyfriend is much pickier than he would have you believe.
I elected not to use a cream sauce for this dish, because I am trying (half-heartedly) to eat healthier and lose some weight.
This recipe can very easily be made vegetarian. Just use a whole pound of asparagus and eliminate the chicken, and substitute veggie broth for the chicken broth.

Ingredients:
12 oz cheese tortellini. I used fresh; you can use dried or frozen, whatever. The only thing it will impact is your cooking time.
1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 lb asparagus tips
1 TB crushed and chopped garlic
1/3 C chicken broth
Juice of 1 small lemon, approximately 1/8 C
1/2 tsp flour
1 tsp salt
ground black pepper
grated parmesean, to garnish
Instructions:
Set a pot of water to boil for your pasta. While you wait for the water to boil, you will be making your sauce.
First, chop your veggies and the chicken. You want to slice the chicken into little strips.
Chop the asparagus into quarters.
Next, crush the garlic with the flat of your knife and chop into tiny pieces.
Heat 1 TB of olive oil in a pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until slightly brown, but not burnt.
At this point, add the chicken and cook until half cooked. This is what partially cooked chicken looks like.
Add the asparagus, chicken broth, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. It is important to add the asparagus while the chicken is only halfway cooked because you otherwise run the risk of overcooking the chicken. Dry chicken is just as bad as undercooked chicken. Perhaps worse, actually, because once it is overcooked it is difficult to talk down from the ledge.
Yum yum yum. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir. Allow to simmer for a further 2-3 minutes, then turn off the heat.
Add the chicken and the asparagus to the cooked tortellini, reserving the sauce in the pan.
Next, you are going to reduce the sauce by half. Boil the sauce over high heat for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Bubble bubble bubble.
Be sure to watch the sauce, or it will reduce too much and you will have too little sauce! This is just about perfect, but even then I think I reduced it just a little too much.
Not exactly the most flattering picture, but tasty just the same.
Add the reduced sauce to the tortellini, chicken and asparagus. Stir to coat and serve with lots of parmesean.
Mmmm. Doesn’t this look lovely? The end result is slightly lemony, which is perfectly complemented by the parmesean.
I should note that this recipe is me
ant to serve two people. You could probably serve 4 if you don’t eat very much. My boyfriend and I polished off the whole thing ourselves, but we had seconds. We’re eaters.

❤ Stef