Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Shell, clean 6-8 jumbo shrimp per person. Dry and set aside in a bowl. In a large deep fry pan, heat 1-2 jars Rao’s Arrabbiata sauce depending on how many shrimp. For each jar of sauce, add 1/2 cup dry red wine, 1/4 tsp. cayenne, pepperoncini flakes and dried oregano to taste. Stir. Add shrimp to the sauce and cook on medium heat to keep a low boil until done, about 6 minutes. Serve over Fettuccine or favorite pasta. Top with fresh basil leaves and lemon zest.

You can use any tomato sauce, just add more pepperoncini flakes than you would for the Rao’s Arrabbiata. It’s meant to be spicy hot. Il diavolo!

Baked Butoni

Don’t laugh. Butoni has some good products. Wild Mushroom Agnolotti and Sausage Ravioli are the two I keep in the freezer. Usually just boil them for 5 minutes and serve with browned butter, pesto, or one of Rao’s tomato sauces. Today, I used one package of each for a baked dish.

Boil 1 package each mushroom and sausage pastas in low boiling water with a lot of olive oil to keep from sticking for 3 minutes. Add 2 cups washed fresh baby spinach and a few basil leaves to the water and boil another 1 minute. Drain pasta, spinach, basil. In a frypan, sauté and brown 1 small onion chopped with dried oregano and pepper to taste. Set aside. Chop 1 package mozzarella into large chunks. Peel several garlic cloves. 1 large jar of your favorite tomato sauce and asiago or parmesan grated cheese to taste. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter a 9×13 baking dish. Spread the onions on the bottom, add a little tomato sauce to cover. Add 1 layer pastas, spinach, basil. Spread mozzarella chunks evenly over the pasta and sprinkle the grated cheese over all. Add a few garlic cloves around. Cover with sauce. Add the rest of the pastas, spinach and basil. Spread rest of mozzarella, grated cheese, garlic cloves around and top with sauce. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn oven off and let bake another 15 minutes. Serve hot or refrigerate and reheat in individual portions as needed.

Thanksgiving Braised Oxtails

photo-49Adapted from Michael Romano’s Union Square Café Cookbook. Not tails of an ox. 6 + lbs. short ribs cut 1/2″ thick and of like sizes. This recipe takes a whole bottle of red wine, so a French Beaujolais works well. It’s not too expensive, but good enough to be the main ingredient. The meat has to marinade overnight in most of the extended mirepoix. Best to divide the short ribs into two glass baking dishes to fit all of the vegetables. photo-50

I deviate from Romano’s original recipe by using leek, parsnips and more veggies and peppercorns in the marinade, add the cipollini onions later during the cooking.

For the marinade: 2 cups sliced celery; 2 cups sliced carrots; 1 cup sliced parsnips on a slant; 2 cups sliced leek; 2 cups parsley sprigs; 1 tsp. juniper berries or 1/4 cup gin. 1 bottle red wine; 1/2 cup red wine vinegar. 2+ tsp. red, green, black whole peppercorn mix. Any leftover celery, carrot, parsnip chunks.

Place short ribs evenly into 2 glass baking dishes. Divide all veggies evenly over the meat in each dish, as well as even amounts red wine vinegar, red wine, peppercorns, parsley sprigs on top. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the short ribs from the marinade and dry with paper towels. Strain the vegetables from the liquid in a bowl. Reserve both. Dust short ribs with a little flour on all sides. In a large stock pot, brown meat on all sides, in a little olive oil in stages. Remove meat from pot with tongs to a large bowl after each browning stage. Add the strained vegetables to the pot and brown. Add 1/3 cup tomato paste to middle of the pot and brown.

Return the meat, wine liquid from marinade to the stock pot. Turn to medium high heat. Stir all veggies, meat, wine marinade lightly to blend. Cover and place pot on middle rack in oven at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Peel 3 cups cipollini onions, add to the pot and stir in. Cover again and bake for another 1 hour until meat is tender. Add chicken broth if needed to keep meat moist. Uncover for 20 minutes to brown. Remove pot from oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Discard bones. Serve meat with veggies, onions, ladled sauce accompanied with horseradish mashed potatoes. Beats turkey!

StuffingtonPost 2014- Cornbread Celery Apple

My favorite. Make 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Cornbread stuffing as directed. Separately, in a large skillet, in a little olive oil, brown one sweet onion, coarsely chopped. Add 2 cups peeled, cored, chopped tart green apples, 2 cups thickly sliced celery stalks until lightly browned. Add ground black pepper, garlic powder to taste. Blend into cornbread stuffing. Put in a baking dish in 375 degree oven covered until heated through, uncover ’til crispy on top.

StuffingtonPost 2014- Sausage Mushroom

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add one large sweet onion, coarsely chopped, and a bunch of scallions, thickly sliced. Sauté until translucent. Add crumbled Italian sausage meat, taken out of casings; from 3 large sweet, 3 large spicy. Homemade from Frigo’s. Brown. Add 4 cups Crimini mushroom caps, quartered. Brown. Deglaze with 1/2 cup dry red wine. Stir. Season with oregano, basil, garlic powder to taste. Stir and remove from heat. Let stand to room temp.

Make your favorite bread stuffing as directed. I use Pepperidge Farm, 2-4 bags. When cooled, add the sausage, mushroom mixture and gently blend together. Pour into baking dish. Divide into 2 dishes if necessary for quicker heating. Pop in the oven, covered to heat through, then uncover until crispy on top.

Stuffed Pepper Halves

Stuffed bell peppers are comfort food. This method of cutting the peppers lengthwise in half is easy and cooks more evenly. For the stuffing, it’s from whatever leftovers in the fridge. All veggie or with meat. Tonight I did it this way:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bell peppers of whatever color in half. Lengthwise, not across. Core and de-seed. Place halves in a roasting pan.

For the stuffing: Mix together leftover cooked hamburgers crumbled, veal chop cut into small pieces, crumbled croutons, small onion chopped, large zucchini peeled and chopped, chunky salsa, barbecue sauce and egg to bind. Blend well and scoop into pepper halves so loose and in a mound. Top with garlic powder and drizzled olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.

Stuffing browned, peppers soft and sweet.

Lidia’s Table

Lidia Bastianich is one of my favorite chefs. I have several of her cookbooks and use them often. We recently visited her Del Posto in New York. She is co-owner with a group including her son Joe and Mario BataliIt features products from Lidia’s homeland, the northeastern region of Italy bordering Slovenia. Here is what we selected from a tasting menu with wine pairings.

Tutti a tavola a mangiare:

Vitello Tonnato~ Veal with creamy tuna sauce, olive crostone, capers, lime cells and lemon basil w/ Marcarini Roero Arneis 2013 Piemonte

Lobster alla Cesare~ Grilled romaine, pane grattato, sweet & sour onions w/ Franz Gojer Kerner 2013 Alto Adige

Spaghetti Dungeness Crab~ Sliced jalapeño, minced scallion w/ Bastianich Refosco 2012 Friuli

Orecchiette Lamb Neck Ragù~ Orange carrots, toasted rye w/ Girolamo Russo Etna Rosso “a Rina” 2012 Sicilia

Broiled Veal Chop alla Rossini~ Foraged mushrooms, braised red endive w/ Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco “Martinenga” 2008 Piemonte

Baked Striped Bass Scorzonera~ Chicories, fumetto al tartufo w/ Edi Simcic Chardonnay 2010 Slovenia

Livorno Style Cacciucco~ Seafood stew, garlic bread crostini, kelp cured cod w/ San Giusto a Rentennano Chianti Classico 2012 Toscana

Desserts:

Pecorino Romano Cake~ Honey gelato, roasted pears
Browned Butter Panna Cotta~ Greenmarket apples, pasta frolla
Sfera di Caprino~ Celery sorbetto, fig agrodolce

Potages d’Octobre

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These soups are rich and fragrant, meant for sipping from a small glass.

Potato Turnip Leek Soup

Peel and cut into small chunks: 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, 1 medium turnip. Put into large saucepan, cover with water and season with cracked black pepper. Bring to boil and then simmer until tender. Drain in a colander and bring to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim and clean 3 leeks. Cut lengthwise and put on cookie sheet, cut side down. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, garlic powder and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Let cool to room temperature. Chop into small pieces.

When everything is cool, put half the potatoes, turnips, leeks into a blender with 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth and 1 teaspoon horseradish. Pulse until smooth. Pour into a refrigerator container. Blend the other half of the potatoes, turnips, another cup broth and teaspoon horseradish until smooth. Pour into same container. Add the other half of the leeks (not blended, just chopped) and stir. Refrigerate until ready to heat and eat. Garnish with chives.


Red Cabbage Apple Soup

Shred one medium red cabbage with tender pieces only. Chop one sweet yellow onion. Julienne one small orange bell pepper. In a stock pot, heat 1 tbs. each canola oil and butter and add chopped onion. Cook until translucent. Season with 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, 2 tbs. sesame seeds, 1 tbs. garlic powder. Stir and blend. Add the shredded cabbage and bell pepper and cook until wilted, tender. Season with salt to taste and add 1 tbs. maple syrup. Stir. Add 4 cups water. Bring to boil. Cover. Simmer 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, peel, core and slice 4 tart apples. Add to the stock. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover for 15 minutes or longer for thicker. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 cup non-fat plain yogurt.

Autumnal Roast Chicken

Consistently succulent methodologies borrowed from Alfred Portale and Jacques Pépin. Moist with crispy skin. Secret is drying thoroughly and refrigerating with sea salt in the cavity. Then, rotating in the oven.

4 lb. farm fresh whole chicken with giblets. Rinse chicken and giblets. Put in roasting pan with paper towels on the bottom. Pat dry chicken all around and shake sea salt into the cavity. Refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready to cook, take chicken out of refrigerator while oven preheats to 425 degrees. Remove paper towels from the pan. Stand chicken cavity side up. Cut top off whole garlic head and place in cavity. Slice a lemon in half, squeeze juice on giblets and put remaining core into cavity. Sprinkle dried thyme or place a fresh thyme sprig into cavity. Place chicken onto its side with giblets in a corner of the pan.

Slice a sweet onion and place behind chicken back and over giblets. When oven is at 425 degrees, drizzle olive oil over leg, wing, side of chicken. Sprinkle with garlic powder and ground black pepper. Place on middle rack of preheated oven for 30 minutes. Take out chicken, turn to the other side, drizzle with olive oil over leg, wing, side and cover with garlic powder and ground black pepper. Return into oven for another 30 minutes. Take out chicken and place so breast side is up. Baste with juices all over. Put back into oven for another 30 minutes.

Take out and cover with aluminum foil for 15 minutes. Onions and giblets crispy. Skin, too. Moist meat. Eat!