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The process of making guanciale in pictures along with the recipe below, from carving out the jowls to salting, to hanging to the final cooked product.

Home Cured Guanciale

Taken from the Babbo Restaurant website

Makes 2 pounds
½ cup sugar
½ cup kosher salt
10 to 15 whole black peppercorns
4 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
2 pounds hog jowls

1. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, salt, peppercorns and thyme. Coat the hog jowls with the mixture, rubbing gently. Place the jowls in a nonreactive casserole, cover, and refrigerate for 5 to 7 days.
2. Remove the jowls from the casserole and tie a piece of butcher’s twine around the middle of each. Hang the jowls in a dry cool place (it should not be warmer than 60ºF.) for a t least 3 weeks. They should be firm and dry, with a slight give. Slice and use like bacon or pancetta.

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For our wedding, Jeff and I got the Kitchen Aid pasta roller attachment. I was excited to use it, but it remained in storage until I got the assignment to make my pasta carbonara for Teton Family Magazine. The spring issue is all about local food. Originally I thought it would be great to use my house cured guanciale and make pasta with store bought flour. Then my friend Claire upped the challenge and reminded me that I had locally grown organic wheat berries. Jeff has a 6 bucket system where he sprouts the berries to feed to our chickens so they get fresh greens in the winter. Claire’s dad has a hand cranked grain mill in his house. So…Super Bowl Sunday I drove on over to Glen’s house and spent an hour, sweating and grunting to grind a few pounds of flour.

 

Next I headed back home and began the process of making the pasta dough. I bought some white and whole wheat flour at the store just in case my flour didn’t work out.

 

Making the pasta dough with eggs from our chickens

Our hens

Here are some pictures of the first three pasta balls...on top is my flour, in the middle is the store bought whole wheat flour and on the bottom is the white flour.

 

Then I realized that the freshly ground flour looked a bit grainy. The wheat bran would have to be removed. I searched my mostly empty kitchen (we are in the midst of a full house remodel) and decided to try out the metal splatter thingy that we put over the pan when we are cooking bacon. It worked wonders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left to Right: store bought white, sifted freshly ground wheat, store bought wheat, unsifted freshly ground wheat

Finally it came time to roll out the dough and make the pasta. Unfortunately I could not use the pasta roller and take pictures at the same time, so there are no pics of that process…but I must say having used a hand crank pasta maker and the Kitchen Aid roller, I cannot recommend enough the Kitchen Aid roller. It makes the process so incredibly easy. Ok, enough product endorsement. And so, the what you have all been waiting for…the final product.

 

“Neopolitan Pasta” Left to Right: store bought white, store bought wheat, sifted freshly ground wheat

The unsifted fresh flour didn’t work out at all, but the sifted flour was AMAZING. I brought the plate down the street to a friend’s Super Bowl Party. Everyone who tasted agreed, the freshly ground flour was by far the best tasting of the three. It was rich and nutty, yet quite delicate all at the same time. Now all I need to do is buy the grain mill attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer and I will be set!

Fresh Egg Pasta

from the Kitchen Aid pasta roller manual

4 large eggs

1 Tbs water

3 1/2 c sifted flour (preferably freshly ground)

1/2 tsp salt

Place eggs, water, flour and salt in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater. Turn to speed 2 and mix 30 seconds.

Exchange flat beater for dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and knead 2 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 1 to 2 minutes. Let rest 20 minutes. Divide dough into 4 pieces before processing with Pasta Sheet Roller attachment.

For those of you who have a hand crank pasta maker here is a link to Jaime Oliver’s egg pasta recipe. I made this 2 years ago for some friends and we all really enjoyed it. Just a little more labor intensive…but well worth it!

 

 

Q: I am making a braised beef brisket that requires a “dry red wine” but does not recommend a type. I have a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon in the house. Do I need to buy something different? ~ Erica

A: Ah, the eternal cooking with wine question. I have stewed (no pun intended) over this same question many times. What exactly does it mean when it says dry wine and why do so many chefs get caught up with listing “good dry red wine” in their recipes. What I think is good might not be what you think is good. The quick no nonsense answer to Erica’s question is no, you don’t need to buy anything different. Use the Cabernet. For more information on cooking with wine than Erica asked for, read on.

Wine does many things in foods. Often it is used to impart complexity and richness to a dish, add acidity, marinate a piece of meat or deglaze a pan. Many savory recipes call for “dry” white or red wines. Technically speaking, the amount of sugar left over at the end of fermentation determines whether the wine is dry or sweet. The more sugar left at the end, the sweeter the wine. When a recipe calls for a “dry wine” it is not referring to the amount of tannins in a wine (which leave a dry taste in your mouth). Rather, it is asking you to avoid a wine that is “sweet.” Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are all examples of dry wines. Port, Sherry, Madeira, Muscat, ice wine and late harvest wine are examples of sweet wines. Grapes, such as Riesling, Viognier and Gewürztraminer can be fermented to be either sweet or dry. Cooking wine and sherry do not belong in any category and should be avoided at all costs as they contain salt and other preservatives.

If you want to be a stickler for wine cooking etiquette, you will cook with wine that exhibits flavors similar to those within the dish you are cooking. For instance, last week I was making a lamb stew that included cinnamon. I went to Alpine Wines and Mike helped me pick out a Syrah which was rich and had hints of cinnamon. Good pairing. Yesterday, though, as I made a pot of marinara sauce, I decided that the Tempranillo that I had open from the night before would be fine. I am sure a lovely Italian Chianti would have been a better match, but I find no reason to waste a perfectly good open bottle of vino.

Most food and wine experts will say, if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it. This statement is not only false, but also not helpful, especially if you don’t drink. My mother used to cook Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon using Charles Shaw Merlot or Cabernet because the recipe called for an entire bottle of dry red wine. Those of you who have shopped at a Trader Joe’s know this to be nicknamed Two Buck Chuck, as it cost $1.99 a bottle (well at least it did 10 years ago). While my mom wouldn’t have been caught dead serving this at a dinner party, her Beef Bourguignon was delicious…and didn’t break the bank. If you are cooking a cheap cut of meat and need a lot of wine which will not be drastically reduced, try out an inexpensive wine. If you are heavily reducing the amount of wine in a dish, as would be the case with a pan sauce, I recommend spending the extra couple of dollars on a nicer bottle. When wine is reduced, its flavor is concentrated. If you use wine that has off flavors, those flavors will be intensified and your sauce will taste off.

There are options for those folks who don’t think they will go through an entire bottle of wine before it goes bad. Several winemakers are now making four packs of mini-bottles, with each bottle the equivalent of one glass of wine. I have heard people recommend boxed wine, but I find that unless you are drinking the wine as well as cooking with it, there is no way that one can finish off the entire box before the wine starts to oxidize in one to two months. Those of you with a stocked liquor cabinet can experiment with dry vermouth, brandy or cognac. If you don’t have the above or would rather not have booze around, stocks and broths can be used to deglaze pans and impart complexity. Vinegar and citrus juice or zest will add acidity. Experiment, have fun and above all, don’t ever take cooking with wine, or cooking in general too seriously.

Questions can be sent to mykitchenwisdom@yahoo.com

Cooking With Wine Recipes

When you are looking for quantity and quality is not as important (the wine won’t be reduced)

When you are reducing the amount of wine, as in a pan sauce, where quality does matter, so spend the extra couple of bucks.

Simple French Onion Soup

Simple Onion Soup

This afternoon as I was busy transplanting herbs from the garden to household pots, I decided that what my body most craved was soup. This was a good thing as I have been working like a madwoman and have not had time to shop, thus, there is little food in my refrigerator. I looked into the kitchen and noticed the overflowing bowl of onions and thought, hey what about onion soup?

And so here I present you with a simple and delicious onion soup for one. But to make it even better, double the recipe for two. Two you say? Well when making soup it is always good to have leftovers because the flavors taste so much better the next day when they have had time to meld together.

I have been on a quest for the past few years for the ultimate French Onion Soup. I have tried using red wine, brandy and other fancy ingredients. To be honest, this recipe tasted just as good. Enjoy.

Simple Onion Soup

1  Tbs olive oil

1  Tbs butter

1 yellow onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups beef broth

Bouquet Garni (1 sprig fresh thyme or a pinch of dried, 1 sprig fresh flat leaf parsley or a pinch dried, 1 small bay leaf or 1/2 large, 1 sprig fresh tarragon or a pinch dried – tied together in a cheese cloth sack*)

Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Melt butter and add olive oil to a small soup pot or sauce pan
  • Add onions and cook over med-low heat until onions caramelize (about 30 minutes). If the onions begin to scorch, add a little water to the pan
  • Add garlic and cook for one minute longer
  • Add beef broth, Bouquet Garni, salt and pepper bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer
  • Simmer partially covered for at least 30 minutes and as long as an hour. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed
  • If you want to get fancy, slice french bread into rounds, put good Fontina or Gruyere cheese on top and melt in the broiler. Place the cheese croutons on top of your soup

*Bouquet Garni is a common ingredient found in soup and stock making. It is worthwhile to invest in a small roll of cheese cloth and some kitchen twine so that you can easily throw one together. I had trouble finding kitchen twine in my area so I just asked the butcher in the meat department if he would give me some. If you are using fresh herbs you can also use a tea ball. Dried herbs tend to slip through the mesh a little easier.

These words conjure up a few sounds and images in my head. First, I hear Peter Brady speaking in a bad Humphrey Bogart accent from an episode of my favorite after school show. Then, I picture an overcooked, shriveled up piece of pork served next to a bowl of Mott’s applesauce…pork chips. That is what I called them in my household growing up, and I refused to eat them. I did scarf down the sugary applesauce though.

Why was the pork always so overcooked you might ask? Fear of trichinosis I suppose. Cook that meat to death and you won’t get sick…you will also feel like you’re eating leather, but I guess tanned animal hide was better than nausea. Sometime in the last 30 years though, that fear of undercooked swine has thankfully gone the way of the dodo bird. People have learned that while you don’t want to serve pork raw, cooking it to an internal temperature of 145º F will sufficiently kill off trichinosis (which dies at 138 º F) and will leave your meat slightly pink and wonderfully juicy. Bye, bye pork chips.

My mom subscribed to Bon Appétit magazine for years. There were several recipes that she kept going back to the magazine cupboard in search of. One was their 1994 Pork with Apples, Calvados and Apple Cider. When I moved out on my own and I was not sure what to make for dinner, I would call her up and ask for suggestions. When she suggested I make the pork, I hesitated. First of all, the local liquor store did not carry Calvados. Second, I could only find apple cider in giant bottles. Third, the recipe calls for pork tenderloin. How was I going to eat an entire pork tenderloin? All of a sudden, this recipe seemed like a complete pain for a single chef. Thankfully, I persevered and found ways around my ingredient difficulties.

Ingredient Notes:

The recipe calls for Golden Delicious apples. I tend to use whatever apples I have on hand at home. If you want to substitute another apple variety, go for it. Just remember that Golden Delicious tend to be sweet. If you use a more tart variety, you may want to add a touch more sugar to the recipe. Some apples hold their shape better than others, but as you are the only one seeing it, who cares if they get mushy…it’ll seem more like good old Mott’s Applesauce!

This weekend for my recipe testing I invited a few old roommates over for dinner and prepared this recipe four ways to see if cider or brandy were needed or if apple juice would suffice. The verdict…the best recipe was made with brandy and apple juice. For those of you who imbibe from time to time, it is worth picking up a bottle for your liquor cabinet. In the winter, two of my favorite warm-me-up drinks are Brandy Hot Toddies (brandy, hot water, lemon and honey) and the Skier’s Edge (coffee, brandy and Irish cream). If you come across Calvados and enjoy sipping apple brandy, I hear that it is worth the purchase. If you don’t drink, you can pick up an airplane size bottle at the liquor store or skip it entirely.

Single Chef Tips

Extra heavy whipping cream and apple juice can be frozen in ice cube trays for use in other dishes or drink the apple juice and add the cream to your coffee for a special treat.

served with roasted beets and carrots and yummy mashed potatoes

served with roasted beets and carrots and yummy mashed potatoes

Pork Chops and Apples in a Cream Sauce

(adapted from Bon Appétit)

Serve with mashed potatoes and either roasted veggies or sautéed greens

1 boneless pork chop

1 ¼ Tbs butter, divided

1 Large Golden Delicious Apple

¼ tsp sugar

1 Tbs minced shallot (1 medium)

1 tsp fresh thyme or ¼ tsp dried thyme

1 Tbs brandy

¼ c heavy whipping cream

1 Tbs apple juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Put pork chop in-between plastic wrap and pound to ¼” thickness
  • Add ½ Tbs of butter to a hot, small skillet (8” preferably), add apples and sugar. Sauté until golden brown, 6-10 minutes depending on the pan
  • Remove apples from pan, return pan to heat and add ½ Tbs butter. Place pork chop in pan and cook 2 minutes on each side. Remove pork from pan and cover with foil to keep warm
  • Return pan to heat, add ¼ Tbs butter, shallots and thyme. Sauté for 2 minutes
  • At this point the pan might seem “burnt” with bits of apple and pork. This is ok. If the shallots seem to brown too quickly, remove the pan from the heat
  • Add brandy and scrape up apple and pork bits in the pan. Cook at medium heat for 1-2 minutes while brandy reduces to a syrupy consistency. (If not using brandy, skip this step and scrape up bits in next step)
  • Add cream and apple juice and simmer until sauce appears to thicken, about 3 minutes
  • Season sauce with salt and pepper and add apples back to sauce. Toss to coat
  • Pour apples and sauce over pork
Recipe testing with friends

Recipe testing with friends

Usually altering a recipe that was written for 4-6 servings so that you can cook it for one is simple. You cut the flour back from 4 cups to 1 cup. You shrink the sugar from 1/2 c sugar to 2 Tbs sugar. The measuring chart has been coming in handy I must say. Something I still struggle with though is eggs. Most recipes call for large eggs. But is a small egg really 1/3 or 1/4 the size of a large egg? Not really. Well…not until now. The other day I was at the local natural food market. I went to grab a dozen local eggs and found this.

Bird's Eggs

Bird's Eggs

It was a dozen eggs of various sizes, several of which were tiny! I had discovered the perfect Single Chef egg. The proportions are not exactly the same as a regular size egg. There definitely is a greater yolk to white ratio, but so far it seems to work alright.

I was told that the eggs came from a breed of chickens called Easter Egg Chickens, though I read that those hens produce blue or green eggs, not brown. So the breed is still truly unknown, but I was also told that young egg laying hens lay smaller eggs.

So if you are looking for these tiny eggs and live in Teton Valley, head to Barrels and Bins and check out Bird’s Eggs. If you live elsewhere, ask around at the local farmer’s market or farm stand.

For those who can’t find tiny eggs, there are still some options. Laterly I have taken to scrambling a large egg and measuring out 2 Tbs of egg as best I can. I then put the rest of the egg in a jar and store it in the fridge to use in the next few days. If I don’t think I will use it, I scramble it up and give it to my dog. The other option is Egg Beaters. Egg Beaters are eggs whites, separeted from the yolks and fortified with vitamins. They are then blended with emulsifiers and thickening agents. While most of the fat and cholesterol lies in the yolk, so does the taste and  most of the health benefits. For this reason I always try to stick to the real macoy, but hey , you gotta do what is best and easiest for you.

So ice cube trays may be my best friend, but parchment has become a close second. I always hated buying a can of tomato paste for just 1 or 2 Tablespoons. Then I discovered parchment paper. Cut a piece of parchment and place it over a dinner plate. Measure out 1 Tbs of your extra ingredient and spoon it onto the parchment. Repeat until you have used up all of your excess and place the plate in the freezer. Freeze for an hour and place the frozen portions in a labeled and dated ziplock baggie.  This method of freezing is great for tomato paste, pesto, chipotle chilis packed in adobo, roasted peppers, anchovie fillets, etc. It is also great when you have extra fresh berries that are about to go bad. Lay the parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spread out the berries. Place the cookie heet in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. By freezing fruit on parchment, you avoid the dreaded clump o’ frozen berries.

“It took so long I thought you went back to Italy to get it” an obnoxious customer proclaims as she receives her order of seafood risotto in the “foodie film” Big Night. Risotto, a creamy rice dish from Northern Italy, carries a mystique that even experienced cooks fall prey to. It takes too long to cook. It is too hard to make. I’ll be a slave to my stove as I stir! Even my mother thought this way and because of it I was kept in the dark about the magical delights of risotto until adulthood. Who started these evil rumors? My guess is a selfish restaurateur who wants to keep their customers coming back for more. Believe me, risotto is not difficult to make. From the simplest preparations to more complex varieties, you will have no trouble whipping some up for yourself.

While discussing risotto with my friend Rebecca, she exclaimed, “I love risotto! It’s like mac and cheese for grown ups.” How right she is. This dish is the ultimate comfort food for big kids. (Little ones love it as well). The possibilities for flavor combinations are endless.

Here, I present a basic risotto recipe that can be personalized to create your ultimate feast. I also offer suggestions for my favorite combinations. For the liquid, I prefer a combination of half chicken broth and half water. Undiluted broth can overpower the other flavors in the risotto. Most recipes call for a small amount of dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc. For the purposes of this blog I left out the vino, but your risotto will have a more complex flavor if you replace the first 1/4 c of liquid with white wine.

Single Chef Cooking Tip: if you don’t drink alcohol or won’t go through a whole bottle of wine, buy the 4 packs of mini bottles or “juice boxes.”

“But wait Mel, you still haven’t told me how to free myself from the stove!” While all risotto recipes say you need to stir continuously, you can cheat. A couple of stirs with each liquid addition will suffice. Just make sure you stir the last bit of broth constantly. This is when the most starch is released.

“To eat good food is to be close to God,” declares Primo, the chef in Big Night. Nothing brings me closer to God than perfectly executed risotto.

Basic Risotto for One

Yields 1 cup risotto

1 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter, divided

2 cups liquid (vegetable broth or 1/2 chicken broth 1/2 water)

1/ 4 c shallot, minced

1/4 c Arborio rice (found in most grocery stores)

1 Tbs or more Parmesan cheese, to taste

Salt and Pepper, to taste

simmer constinuously

simmer continuously

Tetonia Test Kitchen: Risotto Style

Bring liquid to a simmer in a small pot, then keep hot on a low burner. Melt 1 Tbs butter in a small sauté pan (6-8”). Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat evenly with butter. Once rice is coated with butter, add 1/4 c hot liquid, simmer and stir. After liquid is absorbed, continue to add liquid 1/4 c at a time, stirring a bit, adding more liquid only after each addition is absorbed. Rice will become al dente between 1 1/2 c – 2 c of liquid. It will taste firm, but not crunchy. This takes about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 tsp butter, Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Flavored Risottos

While rice is cooking, prepare the other ingredients in a separate pan. Once rice reaches al dente, add the additional ingredients and finish with butter, Parmesan, salt and pepper.

  • Roasted Tomato and Garlic Preheat oven to 350º. Cut 1 small tomato in half, brush with olive oil and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Wrap 2 cloves of unpeeled garlic in foil and place on baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly. Remove skin from tomato and garlic and chop. Add to cooked rice along with a pinch of sugar. Top with fresh basil.
  • Mushroom Fresh Mushrooms: Sauté 1/4 c minced onions in 1 Tbs olive oil until soft (3-5 minutes). Add 1/2 c finely diced mushrooms (use a combination of mushrooms, such as crimini, shitake, and/or oyster). Sauté until mushrooms are soft (3-5 minutes). Add to cooked rice. Dried Mushrooms: Reconstitute 1/3 c dried mushrooms in 1 1/4 cup boiling water. Use this water to replace 1 cup stock. Finely dice mushrooms and cook as directed above.
  • Sausage and Artichoke Heat 1/2 tsp olive oil in pan. Remove casing from a 4oz mild Italian sausage and cook 1/2 the sausage in oil breaking it into small pieces. (Refrigerate or Freeze the other half for use at another time). Add 1/4 c diced onion and cook until soft. Finely dice 1/4 c marinated artichoke hearts and add to onions and sausage. Cook one more minute. Add to cooked rice.
  • Risotto con Piselli If you have a dry red wine, such as a Cabernet or Zinfandel, replace the first 1/4 c of liquid with wine. Sauté /2 c diced onion in 1 tsp olive oil for 3-5 minutes. Add 1/2 frozen peas to thaw. Add to cooked rice.

This meal can be created in about 20 minutes. A note on cooking spaghetti for yourself, take your thumb and forefinger and make an “O.”  The pasta that fits in that circle is more than enough for one portion when cooked. When cooking angel hair you can use even less. Everyone’s appetite is different so experiment with the thumb/forefinger trick and take note of how much pasta is good for you

Pasta with Shrimp, Spinach, and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

Angel hair pasta (cappellini)

DSCN07783/4 cup tomato (seeded and diced)

1 1/2 – 2 cups baby spinach

4-6 jumbo shrimp (peeled and deveined)

Olive oil

1 tsp minced garlic divided

Red pepper flakes

Paprika

1 tsp lemon zest

Salt

Pepper

Parmigiano Reggiano

  • Start bringing a pot of salted water to a boil. While water is heating, prepare and cook the shrimp.
  • While pot is heating, pat shrimp dry with a paper towel and put in bowl. Add a 2 tsp olive oil,1/2 tsp garlic, a pinch each of red pepper flakes, paprika, salt and pepper. Heat a dash of olive oil in a sauté pan and cook shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side so that they are just pink. Remove shrimp from pan.
  • Add desired amount of pasta to boiling water and cook for 8 minutes or until al dente.
  • While pasta is cooking toss tomato with 1/2 tsp of garlic, 1 Tbs of olive oil, and a pinch each of red pepper flakes, paprika, salt and pepper.
  • Return sauté pan to medium-low heat and cook tomatoes for 2 minutes. Add spinach and lemon zest. Cook until spinach is wilted. Remove pan from heat.
  • When pasta is cooked either strain reserving some liquid, or using tongs or a pasta ladle pull pasta directly from the pot and put into sauté pan. Toss all ingredients, adding small amount of pasta water if it is too dry.
  • Place in bowl and top with parm and shrimp.

With the advent of ice machines many people either tossed their ice cube trays or donated them to Goodwill. Well these trays are not just for ice and homemade popcicles anymore.  I use mine to help portion out extra ingredients that I can freeze and save for later. Each ice cube is about 2 Tbs. Just pour in your liquid, put it in the freezer for about an hour and pop the cubes into labeled freezer bags. I highly recommend labeling your bags with both the contents and the date. Trust me…you will forget what exactly it is in each bag and it is good to rotate out older stock.

Ice cube trays are perfect for:

  • stocks: chicken, beef, veggie, etc
  • pesto
  • heavy whipping cream
  • buttermilk
  • apple cider
  • coconut milkice cube trays

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