Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lou's Most Excellent Cod n' Chile Pepper Risotto

[Yes, it’s been awhile….]

A great, fairly fast (comes together in about 45 minutes) dish that does a Sunday good. I've done some variations of this using diced carrots in place of the asparagus. But asparagus is everywhere this time of year so here goes...

4 cod filets
1 cup of risotto
4 cups chicken broth
3 thick slices of pancetta, julienned
1 small yellow onion, mined
2 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
3 large asparagus spears, diced into 1 cm pieces
1 green onion, green parts only, julienned
2 TBS diced chile peppers (Hatch-style)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
1 TBS unsalted butter
Smoked paprika
Salt and pepper

Boil the chicken broth and set aside.

In a pot suitable for making risotto (everyone has a risotto pot, right?), over medium heat add in 2 TBS of olive oil and the butter; heat until melted. Add in the yellow onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about three minutes while trying not to burn it.

In a separate small pan, add in 1 TBS of olive oil over medium heat. Sauté up the pancetta until it’s crispy. Remove and set aside the pancetta, reserving the oil and then sauté the asparagus for about two minutes in the pancetta oil. Remove the asparagus and cover.

Lightly coat the cod filets in paprika and a generous pinch of salt.  Set aside but be ready for it.

Back to the risotto…. Add in the risotto to the pot and stir over medium heat for about 2 minutes, then add in about 1 cup of the broth: it should begin to boil quickly. Stir in the chile peppers and about ½ tsp of salt. Continue to stir until the rice has adsorbed most of the broth, then add another cup of broth. Repeat this process up to the third addition and then taste the risotto: it should be a little crunchy like al dente pasta. If not, add in more broth.

In another pan add about 2 TSP of olive oil and heat to medium. Cook the cod filets until you think they’re done. For a 1.5” (3 cm) thick piece of cod this could be about 1.5 minutes per side.

When the risotto is nearly done, add in the asparagus and green onion. Stir for about a minute and then add in the Parmesan cheese.

Serve the cod on top of some risotto and sprinkle the pancetta over the top. Voila…

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Still Around!

Hi All - I'm still around. I've got four recipes in draft that'll be published in due time. A combo of travel, new camera, and rehashing old faves has all contributed. Be back very soon....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

LME™ Beefy Bolognaise

Becky and Aimee came to visit us here in France and two of the three nights we've had pasta. Don't get me wrong: I love pasta. But I found it kind'a funny that this was the case. Here's a Bolognaise I made yesterday which works well each time. Note: there's no sugar added to it since the carrots provide the needed sweetness.

This is super easy to make but takes some time; it's best to let it simmer for about 2 hours before eating it. Thus it's easy but not quick.

Genius, ah oui?

2 thin pork chops, bone in
1 pound ground beef
1½ yellow onions, chopped
4 medium carrots, diced into ¼" bits
3 large cloves garlic, minced
4.5 pounds pureed tomatoes
½ cup milk
Sea salt
Black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

In a 4 quart pot add about ½ a cup (yes, half) of olive oil and heat to medium-high heat, ensuring the olive oil doesn't smoke. Lightly salt/heavily pepper the pork chops and fry on each side for about 45 seconds. They'll brown slightly. Remove and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium and using a spatula scrape the pork chop bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the onions and carrots to the pot and saute for about 6 - 8 minutes, until softened. Add in the garlic and saute for an additional minute.

Now, here's where the this-is-a-bitch-part/i-didn't-sign-up-for-this-shit part comes in. Add in the ground beef and, using your spatula, chop up frequently. "Frequently" defined as every 5 seconds. Thus...constantly.

Until cooked through.

'Till it looks like this:

Sorry dude's and dudettes - this takes a full 5 minutes (OMG! A WHOLE FIVE FRIGGIN' MINUTES?!?! Lou! I have CHILDREN!).

This is what two glasses of wine are for.

When looking like the picture here, add in the tomato puree and milk, mix together, and then pork chops and parsley. Mix again and wait until it begins to bubble again. Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for one hour.

Remove lid and taste: add more salt as needed. If that "something" is missing it's likely sugar. Add a TBS of sugar and see what happens. This said, you shouldn't need it. Keep the lid off and simmer for another hour.

Serve on your pasta of choice. Lot's of Parmesan works well too.

Monday, August 15, 2011

LME™ Five S's

This combines my five basic food groups. Big, tender, succulent shrimp. Baby scallops, so lovely sweet. Crispy, spicy chorizo sausage. Spinach for some color and texture. Spaghetti for substance.

The key - as always - is not to overcook the shrimp and scallops. If you think they're undercooked then that means they're done. A good scallop is actually raw in the middle but warmed through. It can be a bit mentally tough to get there if you're not into raw fish, but you gotta grow up and get there.

Serve this for a group of people: you can plate it all in a large serving dish and bring to the table. It presents well and is very aromatic.

So much so, everyone asked for seconds...and Becky was snarfing up the left over sausage bits left in the pan. Food hoarder she is....

8 large shrimp peeled, deveined, and butterflied
About 20 baby scallops
2 big handful's of spinach, large stems removed, torn to pieces
2" link spicy chorizo sausage, sliced thin.
Three large cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ pound of spaghetti
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Grated Parmesan.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile....

In a skillet add about ¼ cup of olive oil and heat to medium-high'ish. Add the chorizo and cook like it was bacon, getting it to near crispy. The oil should start to take on a red tinge. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute, being careful it's not browning.

Add your spaghetti to the boiling water. Set your timer for one minute less than what it takes to cook the pasta al dente. You now have that many minutes left....

Add the shrimp and cook each side for about 45 seconds. Remove the shrimp to a bowl; add in the scallops to the pan and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove the scallops but keep the pan on. Add an additional ¼ cup of olive oil to the sausage:garlic mixture and keep on.

The following is going to happen within one minute. Read up, prepare, and focus.

Pasta should be nearly done. When timer goes off add the spinach to the pot. Count down from one minute. While that's going....

Crank up the olive oil to medium high and add back in the shrimp and scallops. Get it sizzling.

Drain the pasta:spinach in a colander after one minute. Right after you pour it return it to the pot. You want it wet. Don't burn yourself.....

Add in about ½ of the olive oil from the pan to the pasta, toss to mix, and then plate into a large bowl. Top the pasta with the shrimp/scallops/oil/sausage.

Serve immediately and top with Parmesan.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lou's Most Excellent Spanish Eggs

"Do you know how to fry an egg?" asked Eduardo.

And there I was, being challenged, in my own kitchen. The talk of making omelet's and fritata's with lots of olive oil had been discussed at length up to this point. This man knows his olive oils and he definitely is telling me he knows how to fry an egg. I'm struggling. I'm thinking.

"But of course. You, uh, you know, uh....use a lot of olive oil. About this much," and I pinch my two fingers together to about 1/8 an inch.

"No, no," he replies. And he takes his thumb and index finger and and spreads them to a width of 1/2 an inch. That's a lot of oil.

In fact, in Spanish, the equivalent saying of "he can't make a piece of toast" is "he can't fry an egg." Everyone in Spain knows how to fry an egg.

They take it up one level. And when you fry an egg Spanish style, you get it.

Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

In a non stick pan - this will really help - pour about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of olive oil into it. Heat it up to medium high: add about two drops of water to the pan while heating. When they begin to pop your oil is ready. Do not get it to smoke point but to just near.

Add the eggs. Here I put two in some small bowls and poured in together - it was a little easier since I was making four.

They'll sizzle pretty hard. Take your spatula and loosen them from the bottom and lap the hot oil over the top of the eggs. Gently swirl the pan to get the same effect.

These will cook fast - perhaps in less than a minute. When the whites look set, using a slotted spoon, remove from the oil, plate, and add some sea salt.

Dive in, savor the runny, hot - but not set - yolk. Serve with crusty bread to pick up all that stuff on the plate. Yummy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lou's Most Excellent Rocketti


Leftovers conjure sour memories for me. Circa 1982. When Mom said, "we're having leftovers" for dinner that meant we were having what we didn't eat the night before because we didn't like it.

I always thought of leftovers as "used food." I know that's a bad way to look at it but there's the truth.

I made a flank steak the other night coated with Montreal seasoning. We had half of it left and The Lovely Wife is busting my chops about when-are-we-gonna-finish-the-steak? because TLW loves leftovers. I was dreading it.

I think I came up with something that works and is also not so bad for ya'. This serves two quite well.

2 shallots, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
Cayenne pepper - about 1/2 tsp
Black pepper - about tsp
"Leftover" beef-product, about 1/3 pound, sliced very thin
1/8 box wholewheat pasta
Two BIG handfulls of baby roquette (spinach works too)
Extra virgin olive oil

This happens pretty fast - pay attention.

Bring 5 quarts of salted water to a boil.

In 2 TBS olive oil sweat-up the shallots for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cayenne and black peppers. Cook for 30 seconds more and then transfer to a small heat-proof bowl.

Add the pasta to the boiling water.

Add the steak to the pan you sauteed the garlic/onions in. Gently warm up until the steak just turn a bit grey (assuming you started with rare steak...which you should have). Remove steak from pan and set aside.

Pasta should be near done......going on 8 minutes here.

Add the roquette to a colander and drain the pasta into the colander. Quickly add back the pasta/roquette to the pot and stir in the garlic/onion mix.

Plate the pasta in bowls and top with the steak. Top with shaved Parmesan.

Ah bon....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lou's Most Excellent Smashed Spicy Squash

This was adapted from, I think, an original recipe from Jamie Oliver. I've modified it quite a bit.

You can use this as a dip for crusty baguette or as a side dish. Best part is that it's easy, relatively healthy for you (albeit it's got a shitload of olive oil in it), and pretty much everyone likes it.

I've "twisted" this version a bit. What's written is what I did tonight but I've noted what I usually do. I'm certain that Sichuan peppercorns are not usually found in most home kitchens....

...and these are wonderful things. They have an unusual property of creating a numbing sensation, especially on the lips. They're not hot like a classical hot pepper nor pungetly-sneezy like black pepper. Dare I say it (and risk sounding like an idiot from a TV show hyped up on uppers): they're kind'a fun.

Lookie here though: these lil' bastards can pack a punch that you're not used to and may not be expecting. If not familiar with them I suggest you cut the amount I call for in half or just use red pepper flakes to a level you like. Your lips and tongue will numb up, almost like on Novocaine, but the heat sensation is not blinding. It's there, but different. I suppose there was a reason they were illegal in the US up until a few years ago (really).

[Note: this dish takes about 45 minutes to make. Most of it is just waiting around but for a veggie/side/app, you should know that this isn't very quick.]

1 leek, white part only, thinly chopped
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, coarsely ground (normal: 1 TSP red pepper flakes)
3 garlic cloves, minced (use less if you're not into garlic)
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
4 medium zucchini
1 medium eggplant, peeled (optional - good for stretching)
A lot of extra virgin olive oil
Salt - I've been using sea salt as of late

In a 3 - 4 quart pot (pending if you're using an eggplant or not), add about 3 TBS of olive oil over low heat. Add the leek and sweat it over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes until softened.

Meanwhile, cut the zucchini into big chunks as so:

Cut two in half lengthwise, then into 8 pieces.
Cut one in half lengthwise, then into 4 pieces.
Cut the last into 5 pieces.
Look - do whatever. You need some big pieces and small pieces and that's the deal. If using the eggplant, cut big cubes (say, 2"x1" and some smaller ones that are 1"x1"). I'm certain you'll figure it out. Set aside.

Add the peppercorns and cook for about 2 minutes; the fat from the oil helps release the "heat" from the peppercorns. Add in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, then the zucchini, eggplant (if using), herbs, and about 2 TBS more oil. Toss to mix, set heat to medium low, cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes undisturbed.

After about 20 minutes remove the lid and using a flat-ended thinger (this is my favorite tool for doing this - a flat wooden spatula),
smash the shit out of the pieces. Some will stay big, some will not...this is a result of starting with a melange of sizes. The largest pieces remaining should be as big as the smallest you started with (make sense?).
At this point salt to taste and you'll quickly find out if you made it too hot too. If so, there ain't much you can do at this point except Plan B: live up to it or Plan C: go get a bag of frozen broccoli and serve that.

Set heat to simmer and let simmer uncovered for another 20 min.

Serve as you wish....