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....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lou's Most Excellent Shrimp n' Spinach Omelet

It’s not a frittata. It’s an omelet. The goal was a frittata but my shit-for-nuthin’ oven doesn’t allow me to fit a typical pan inside it. And I didn’t have a frittata pan. And, most importantly, I didn’t really know what the hell a frittata was to start with.

The vision for the frittata was there but my technique wasn’t. So what turned out here is really just a giant, fluffy, slightly crispy omelet that’s actually quite satisfying. Telling my friend Silvia about the frittata-come-omelet, she explained to me my problem, which is one of those “mother-to-daughter” things that happens in the kitchen on how to flip a frittata. Take the lid of the pan – preferably flat on the inside I guess – and flip the frittata onto that and then slide back into the pan. A plate could work too.

The simplicity is still beyond me and I’m kicking myself for it. But I’m certain in execution it’s a mess, until you’ve done it a few dozen times.

I cannot emphasize the importance of a really good non-stick pan here. If you’re a non-non-stick pan type, you’ll need a lot of oil.

6 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied in half
¼ yellow onion, thinly sliced and minced
2 whole green onions, finely chopped
3 BIG handfuls of baby spinach leaves
2 whole eggs
3 egg whites
½ cup of milk
A nice extra-virgin olive oil for cooking
Truffle salt (or truffle oil)
Tzatziki sauce

In a large (10”) non-stick pan, add about 2 TBS of oil and heat till near shimmer. Add the shrimp and cook on each side until they turn pink; you don’t want to cook any longer (about 30 seconds per side, pending size of the shrimp). Remove shrimp from pan.

Add in the onions and sauté over medium heat until the yellow onions are translucent (about 2 minutes). While this is ongoing, furiously whip up the eggs and milk along with 1½ TSP of truffle salt or 1 tsp truffle oil. The eggs should foam up a little.

Add in another 2 TBS of olive oil to the pan and then the spinach leaves. Toss the leaves for about 1 minute, just to where they’re about to start to wilt (it will look like A LOT of spinach in the pan but this is OK – it shrinks). Pour the eggs into the pan and mix in the spinach. Place the shrimp on top.

Once the omelet has set on the outside you’ll need to “drain” it. See the photo on how to. Lift the omelet on one side and tilt the pan so that the uncooked egg runs underneath it.
Do this for the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. Add about 1 TBS more oil around the perimeter of the pan where the egg meets the edge; the oil should bubble some.

Cover the pan with a lid for about a minute. Check to see that the inside has set and then flip the omelet over using your preferred method. Serve with cold tzatziki sauce.