BLT Pasta

BLT Pasta

Just a couple of things..

The initials BLT stand for Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato, and it’s traditionally consumed between two pieces of toasted bread (which has been smeared with Mayo)

If you choose to make a BLT sandwich, you should be choosing only top quality ingredients, pay an extra dollar a pound and get the heirlooms, find good quality romaine lettuce, and please, make an effort to buy top quality bacon, I know it’s getting expensive, but you can taste the difference.

Armed with that knowledge of what a good BLT sandwich should be, let’s transfer it to a pasta recipe!

What you’ll need:

4 strips of thick bacon, diced

1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

1/4 cup of dry vermouth

1/2 cup of chicken broth

1 teaspoon vinegar

1/8 teaspoon chili flakes

1 cup of baby spinach leaves, washed and dried

1 sprig of fresh thyme

1 cup of french bread, cubed

1 clove of garlic

1 tablespoon, olive oil

Misenplace:

Wash and cut the Cherry tomatoes in half, lengthwise. Prepare the Spaghetti as directed on the packaging.

For the Recipe:

In a saute pan, cook the bacon until the fat has been completely rendered out of it and it’s crispy.

Remove the bacon from the pan, set it aside for use later. In the same saute pan, remove all of the bacon fat except 1 tablespoon. Add the grape tomato halves, sugar and cook on medium heat.

Cook for approximately 4 minutes. Then add the Vermouth and cook on medium low.

Once the liquid has almost evaporated, add the vinegar, chicken broth and red pepper flakes.

Cook the sauce on low until the liquid reduces by 1/3.

Add the Spinach, Bacon and Thyme and cook for 2 minutes, were just looking for the spinach to wilt.

At this point, the sauce is finished, toss with your cooked pasta and serve it hot.

I topped the pasta with garlic breadcrumbs, i’m not sure I’d include them next time, it’s a bit strange to me. (partially why I decided to leave them out of the recipe)

(recipe inspired by here

Baked Pasta

Baked Pasta

I remember when I was younger, the only pasta I would eat would be Shells. Even though all pasta tastes the same, to the 10-year-old me, Shells tasted like gold. Although, now that I think about it, I most likely was attracted to the fact that the sauce would get stuck inside the shells, making them not as dry as usual. Or it could be the fact that i was eating shells for dinner.

What you’ll need:

1 pound Medium shell pasta, fully cooked

16 ounces of your favorite tomato sauce (Classico, please.)

1 pound of Italian sweet sausage

1 green pepper

1 onion

16 ounces Mozzarella

Misenplace!

Give the onion and green pepper a small dice.

Remove the casings from the Italian Sausage by using a serrated steak knife, and carefully cutting the sausage lengthwise. Grab an end of the sausage casing and pull it off.

Grate the mozzarella, and place in the refrigerator until needed.

For the recipe:

In a saute pan, heat olive oil until it is hot, and shimmering. Add the onions and  peppers (I also added 1 clove of garlic)

Cook until the peppers are tender, and the onions are translucent. (about 7 minutes on medium heat) Next, Add the Italian Sausage, Salt and cracked black pepper.

Brown the sausage, it should take about 10 minutes.

Add a Chiffonade of Basil and continue cooking until the basil is wilted and heated through. Now add the tomato sauce.

Cook the meat and tomato sauce until it begins to bubble. Turn down heat, and add the shells to the sauce.

Cook briefly, just until the pasta is heated through and the sauce has had a chance to mingle properly with the pasta.

Now, place half of the pasta into a 9×11 baking dish.

put half of the mozzarella on the bottom half of the pasta, place the rest of the pasta on top, and add the remaining mozzarella.

Sprinkle the top with sea salt and bake in a 400* degree oven for 45 minute or until the cheese it bubbling and begins to brown.

and

I like eating this with crusty, buttered bread.

Enjoy!

Lemon Scalloppine

Lemon Scalloppine

For those who do not know Scalloppine actually refers to a thin cut of chicken, that is floured, sauteed and served with either a Piccata, Wine or tomato based sauce. (I had to look it up myself)

I seem to have a long standing love with anything lemon. So it should not be a surprise to anyone that I immediately fell in love with this recipe.

What you’ll need:

4 thinly cut, boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you can buy normal chicken breasts and pound them thin. )

1 Lemon

1 1/2 cup of white wine

1 1/2 cup of chicken stock

2 cloves of garlic

1 shallot

1 bunch of parsley

1 cup all purpose flour

For the Misenplace:

Thinly slice the lemon, and set it aside.

Mince the garlic and shallot

Wash, clean and mince the parsley

For the recipe:

In a Saute pan, heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and shallots.

Once the onions and garlic become fragrant, add 1 1/2 of vermouth and the slices of lemon. Turn up the heat and reduce the liquid by half.

When the liquid has been reduced ( cook no longer than 5 minutes) add the 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth and again reduce the liquid by half.  Be careful with this, I decided to cook my longer and I ended up with a very, very bitter sauce. (see notes)

Once the liquid has reduced, add in about 1 tablespoon of cold butter and allow it to melt from the residual heat of the sauce. It will make the sauce creamy, and help bring it together.

For some odd reason, I didn’t take any pictures of the chicken. Sorry in advance.

Mix together the all purpose flour, kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Dredge the chicken into the flour, coating both sides and shaking off any excess flour. Please try to get as much of the flour off the chicken as possible. I just patted the chicken from hand to hand.

Saute the chicken in olive oil, it shouldn’t take any longer than 5 minutes per side.

Now, serve the chicken with the pasta of your choice and pour the sauce over everything, Top with chopped parsley.

Sarap!

Just some notes for you (or me) :

The sauce was bitter, Now, I didn’t follow my own rules, because I was trying to get nicer looking lemon slices and I cooked the sauce way too long. Also, I was always told that the white parts of the lemon are extremely bitter, so why subject ourselves to it?

Next time, I think I’m going to use freshly squeezed lemon juice, and freshly grated lemon zest .  The only trade-off is that you don’t get the cool looking lemons.

This was my first time using flour to coat chicken that I planned on sauteing. I must say, it ended up pretty good tasting and had some decent crunch to it.

Charlie Chan Pasta

Charlie Chan Pasta

If you were expecting a white guy who portrayed an Asian detective bathed in pasta, sorry to disappoint you, but that’s not this recipe.

If you want that, I could attempt to create it for you, but things could get awkward  very quickly!

No, This recipe is about attempting to recreate one of my wife’s favorite pastas. Yellow Cab Pizza’s Charlie Chan Pasta. This is described directly from Yellow Cab as:

Chicken Strips, Shitake Mushrooms, roasted peanuts, sautéed in a spicy Oriental Sauce.

Just for visual comparison..

Photo Credits belong to: http://toxicenthusiasm.blogspot.com/

Now this is pretty straight forward, right? Obviously it involves chicken breasts, shitake mushrooms and roasted peanuts. The part when it gets tricky is the “spicy oriental sauce”.  There are many, many Asian condiments and sauces.

My first attempt to replicate the sauce failed, basically because I used a recipe I found on the internet. This recipe can be found by simply searching google for “Charlie Chan pasta” however, those sauces all require Oyster Sauce (9 tablespoons, mind you).

There is nothing wrong with Oyster Sauce, In fact it’s very amazing with steamed Bok Choi. I’m drooling just thinking about it! Ahem.. but that’s another time..

As you’ll see with my recipe, Oyster sauce is absent. Also, Sesame oil IS present, I think that this is an ingredient that’s over looked for this recipe.

What You’ll Need:

3 Cloves of Garlic

12 ounces of mushrooms

1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 pound Spaghetti, cooked

1/2 Roasted Peanuts

3 tablespoons Peanut butter

1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce

2 tablespoons Soy Sauce

2 tablespoons Sesame Oil

3 dried red chiles

4 stalks green onions

 

 

For the Misenplace:

Mince 3 cloves of garlic, and slice about 1 cup of shiitake mushrooms. (I used Portobello mushrooms, because my supermarket sucks, and never stocks shiitake.)

Rinse about 1 pound (1/2 kilo) of chicken breasts, then using a very sharp knife, slice the chicken into strips.

Cook 1 pound of spaghetti as directed, drain, coat with olive oil and set aside.

For the recipe:

In a large saute pan, heat 4 tablespoons of Olive Oil, and add the minced garlic.

(Do not allow your garlic to burn.)

Add the chicken slices and cook until they begin to turn white and partially cooked.

Add your sliced mushrooms and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. The mushrooms should reduce in size.

At this point there was a considerable amount of liquid in the pan. I poured off (save it, you’ll need it later) about 1/2 of this because with that much liquid in the pan, it will cause the chicken and mushrooms to boil, not saute. After pouring off the liquid, add 3/4 cup of roasted, salted peanuts. Allow to cook on low temperature for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Mix together 2 tablespoon of sesame oil, 3 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and 1/2 cup of hoisin sauce. The mixture will be thick, that is okay. That’s why we set aside the liquid we poured off earlier. Add the sauce to the pan, and stir to coat everything. If the mixture is too thick for your tastes, add some of the reserved liquid.

Add 3 minced, dried red chilies.

At this point, the sauce is finished.

As stated before, I never add pasta to a cooked sauce, but rather use another saute pan, and cook the pasta and sauce together as needed.

Serve, topped with green onions and drizzle with sesame oil.

If I had to offer a percentage as to how close this is to the original, I’d say it was about 90%. I can’t really remember the exact taste of the pasta. Maybe someone will attempt this and let me know how close I am. *cough* Lily *cough*

Even if it’s not exactly Charlie Chan Pasta, I promise you this: It’s Good. That’s more than I need to hear before trying a recipe.

Fettucini in creamy pesto sauce with chicken

Fettucini in creamy pesto sauce with chicken

This week has been hard on my wife and I, It’s never easy when you have a family member in the hospital, it’s always a difficult and stressful experience. Sadly, It has killed my motivation for cooking elaborate meals and dishes.

I had some leftover pesto from a bread recipe that I baked earlier in the week and a pack of chicken that I needed to use.

 

Misenplace:

Soak 3 ounces of sun-dried tomatoes in boiling hot water for 20 minutes, until re-hydrated, and roughly chop the tomatoes.

This recipe is supposed use button mushrooms, however used a different mushroom. shiitake.

Remove the stems from shiitake mushrooms, and slice them into 1/8 inch pieces.

Mince 1/2 white onion and place in a bowl with the mushrooms and tomatoes.

Mince 2 cloves of garlic and put into a bowl with the veggies.

For the recipe:

In a hot saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Once the oil is hot, put 3 chicken breasts that you have seasoned with your preferred seasoning mix. (I used Paul Prudhomme’s poultry seasoning) and cook for about 8 minutes, flip over and cook for 6 minutes more. The chicken’s juices should run clear, not cloudy.

Remove from the pan and place on a plate to allow the chicken to rest. Once cooled off, roughly chop the chicken to your desired size.

Pour off some of the oil if it is excessive, if it is scarce, please add more butter to the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic and onions, saute for approximately 5 minutes. Pay special attention to this, you do not want it to burn.

Add 2 cups of half and half to the pan, and cook for approximately 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup of parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of pesto sauce and the chicken that you’ve prepared earlier. Cook until the mixture begins to thicken, then thin the sauce with another 1/2 cup of half and half. At this point, the sauce is finished.

You can choose to mix the sauce into a huge pot of cooked pastas.

However, I feel that is not the way to serve pasta. I prefer to “fire” pasta to order or to serve. That means taking a couple big spoonfuls of sauce, cooking them in a smaller saute pan, adding the pasta to the pan, and allowing the sauce to cook into the pasta. if you have never done this, I suggest you try it. Once plated, drizzle more pesto over the pasta and plate.

This is the result.

And

Some Notes:

  • Please use the sun-dried tomatoes, use fresh only if you have no access to sun-dried, and use canned only if there is no way you can get to the store for good tomatoes.
  • I was lucky enough to find shiitake mushrooms at my supermarket, and decided to use them in this recipe instead of button mushrooms.
  • The consistency of the sauce is similar to alfredo sauce, so use a pasta able to stand up to the thick sauce.
Spaghetti with Shrimp and Black Olives

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Black Olives

This recipe actually comes from an Italian cookbook called; The Splendid Table. The author suggests that the shrimps can actually be served without pasta, and it would make a decent main course.

This recipe actually surpassed my expectations, I’m not a huge seafood lover, so i was very happy to eat this pasta.

For the Misenplace:

Peel about 1 pound of extra-large shrimp, remove the “sand” vein that runs down the back, and rinse off thoroughly. Place the shells you removed from the shrimp in a large sauce pan and set aside.

Add 3 cups of chicken stock and 3/4 cup of white wine to the pan with the shells and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, lower heat to low, and allow stock to simmer until reduced down to 1 cup.

For the recipe:

In a large saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil until it begins to ripple. Next add a few cloves of garlic and cook until garlic is golden brown, making sure to rub and smash the garlic into the saute pan. Once the garlic is golden brown, discard it, but keep the oil.

Now add 1 onion, chopped, 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, 2 sprigs of fresh marjoram and 2 leaves of fresh sage to the garlic infused oil and cook until the onions become translucent.

It should take about 15 minutes for the onions to soften and caramelize.

Add your shrimp of choice, I used 1 pound of “extra jumbo” shrimp. They seemed a bit small to me to be true “jumbos” but that’s tit for tat right now.

Cook the shrimp for no more than 1 minute, 60 seconds. don’t walk away, don’t pour a glass of Dr. Brown’s root beer, just wait. Once they begin to turn pink, remove them from the pan and set them aside. The reason we do this is because we want our shrimp to be succulent, not rubbery. Also discard the rosemary and sage leaves, but keep the marjoram sprigs in the pan.

Now add the shrimp stock we made earlier from the shrimp shells and bring to a simmer.

Open a tin of peeled “San Marzano” tomatoes and crush each tomato in your hand before adding to the pan. Just be careful, the juices squirt everywhere. Again, bring to a simmer.

Now add in about 10 rinsed and chopped Gaeta olives.Obviously you can add more, but try not to over do it, the olives can overpower the flavors  we are trying to create here.

Add about 10 cranks of freshly ground black pepper, a generous pinch of crushed red pepper. Also add the partially cooked shrimp back into the sauce and cook for another 60 seconds.

To finish the sauce, sprinkle freshly squeezed lemon juice over top of the sauce.

I suggest that you already have your pasta cooked and waiting for the sauce. If you choose to do it the other way, you risk the shrimp turning to a rubbery consistency. I decided to use spaghetti and it worked out just fine.

Some notes:

  • I don’t really think it’s necessary to remove the herbs early from the sauce, so if it seems weird, just go with the flow.
  • Easy on the olives, seriously. and they don’t have to be “Gaeta” I just happen to have from lying around.
  • The original recipe states to cut the shrimp into thirds, I thought that was useless, and don’t really think it’s needed.