7.16.2010

easy peasy, fried eggplant to top your homemade pasta & sauce

Well hello there!  Now that you have made your own, homemade pasta and sauce, let's cash in on the fruits of our labor with some fresh, fried eggplant for quite a delicious meal!  To make this a well-rounded meal, we quickly composed a fresh salad with pab's home-grown lettuce, plus sliced radishes, tomatoes, onion, and scallions.  Using our glass "salad dressing maker", we opted for a sesame vinaigrette - except we didn't have any rice vinegar so we substituted a sherry wine vinegar.


Before we dressed the salad, we set up the assembly line for the fried eggplant, and set the water to boil for the pasta.  Pab also began to heat up homemade pasta sauce in a pan.  Before we breaded the eggplant, we sat down & ate the salad.


Quickly rinsing off the plates and silverware, we were ready to go for the main course: we floured the eggplant, coated in egg yolk, and covered in breadcrumbs before frying in a cast-iron skillet over medium-heat.  Meanwhile, we cooked the pasta al dente and served with the now hot pasta sauce.




INGREDIENTS: 
3 medium size eggplants
1 cup of flour
1/3 of a cup (high-heat) vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs
2 cups of breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil, minced


DIRECTIONS FOR FRIED EGGPLANTS:
  • Combine flour with salt & pepper in a shallow, large bowl, mixing thoroughly
  • Combine breadcrumbs with Parmesan cheese in a shallow, large bowl, mixing thoroughly
  • Beat the eggs into a shallow bowl
  • Heat 1/3 of a cup of high-heat vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat
  • Slice eggplants into 3/4 inch-thick rounds
  • Cover eggplant rounds in flour, pat to absorb
  • Coat eggplant rounds with egg wash
  • Return eggplant rounds to flour mixture, coating evenly
  • Place rounds in skillet, fry for about 4 minutes on each side, or until browned
  • Transfer to plate covered with a couple layers of paper towels, let cool
  • Place rounds on top of pasta & sauce, and serve! 

Waste not, want not
elz + pab



Fried Eggplant with Pasta on Foodista

7.15.2010

easy peasy, make your own pasta sauce

Since you now have your own homemade pasta, naturally you will need some tasty sauce to go alongside. PAB always has some frozen sauce in the freezer, since it is super easy to defrost & serve at a later date.  (So, just in case you don't have time to make your own pasta...at least you can eat your favorite store bought brand with a great sauce, right?)



This basic tomato sauce recipe is an old standard from the recipe box.  It is one of those recipes you should know by heart, but the index card usually ends up on the counter to confirm a quantity or two.  A few hours later, while the sauce is doing its simmering, the card goes back into the recipe box with a few new blotches of red sauce. All the smudges on the recipe card are a testament to its importance, so this morning we are glad to share an essential, simple recipe. 
Producing your own sauce is a great stepping-stone to a number of hearty meals (lasagna, chicken parm, cannelloni, etc). Some people may have the idea that stirring a simmering pot every 15 minutes for two hours is tedious, but we think it gets you back to some of the fundamentals of cooking. You know what is going in (no shitty preservatives) and it is very economical (great for making in double/triple batches & freezing in a few Ziploc bags). 

Total cook & prep time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Six servings
Ingredients:
½ Onion, diced
2 Garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
28-32 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
6 oz can tomato paste
18 oz water
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 – 2 tablespoon sugar (depending on acidity of tomatoes)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • On low heat sauté onion for a couple of minutes
  • Add garlic & parsley, continue to sauté for another few minutes without letting garlic burn
  • Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, using two sets of tongs pull apart the whole peeled tomatoes
  • Reduce heat and let simmer for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes
ELZ & PAB’s official review:  Wonderful, fresh flavor. Pairs great with sautéed meatballs, sausage, chunks of pepperoni, eggplant/chicken/veal parmesan… always serve with grated pecorino romano or parmesan! PAB triples the recipe by using one 106 oz can of “Nina’s Italian Peeled Tomatoes” which can be obtained from Costco at a very reasonable price.

Waste not, want not
elz + pab



Homemade Pasta Sauce on Foodista

7.11.2010

italian hero sandwich

This is a great sandwich to throw together with your panini press for a hearty lunch or light din out on the patio with some pickles, chip, pasta salad, or whatever you may fancy. 

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Makes 2 sandwiches


INGREDIENTS:
2 six inch lengths baguettes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbl red wine vinegar
2 vinegar peppers, sliced
1 cup arugula
1/4 cup thiny sliced proscuitto
2 thin slices (2 ounces) domestic mortadella
4 thin slices (2 ounces) proscuitto
6 thin slices (2 ounces) hot or sweet soppressata
4 thin slices (4 ounces) provolone cheese


DIRECTIONS:


  • Heat panini or sandwich press according to manufacturer's instructions
  • Slice the baguette in half lengthwise with a serrated knife, then in half to divide for two sandwiches
  • Brush the insides with the oil and vinegar
  • Lay bread, cut side up, on a work surface
  • Arrange arugula & peppers on the bottom half of the sandwich bread
  • Drape mortadella, proscuitto, and soppressata on top of the vegetables
  • Top with provolone, and finally the top half of the baguette
  • Place sandwiches on the press, pulling top down
  • Cook until browned and cheese is melted, 5-7 minutes depending on heat of press
  • Carefully remove sandwiches from the press & serve immediately
ELZ & PAB's review:  This is quite the meaty hero sandwich!  We are firm believers that warmed up deli ingredients = awesome.  Mortadella is in Italian deli meat, which is far superior to the more common equivalent, bologna.  In fact, this sandwich was so good that PAB made another for his in-between-lunch-and-dinner-meal the next day.


Waste not, want not
elz + pab

Italian Hero Panini Sandwich on Foodista

7.10.2010

101: fresh chiles

We saw this article in Cook's Illustrated and absolutely loved it.  We just had to share it with you!  Enjoy.


For a lot of people, it's hard to tell the difference between types of chiles.  Not only are they called by different names, depending on where you are located geographically, but the same chile can also vary in color from green to red, depending on when it were harvested.  There is one thing in common among all chiles - they should have unblemished skin that is firm to the touch.


TYPES OF CHILES:


Poblano: large & triangular, green to reddish-brown in color, one out of four on the heat scale. Looking for a substitute? Try an Anaheim or a bell pepper.


Anaheim: large, long & skinny, yellow-green to red in color, two out of four on the heat scale.   Looking for a substitute? Try a Poblano.


Jalapeno: small, smooth & shiny, green or red in color, 2.5 out of four on the heat scale.   Looking for a substitute? Try a Serrano.


Serrano: small & dark green in color, three out of four on the heat scale.   Looking for a substitute? Try a Jalapeno.  


Thai Bird's Eye: narrow & petite, bright red in color, 3.5 out of four on the heat scale.   Looking for a substitute? Try a Serrano. 


Habanero: bulbous, bright orange to red in size, four out of four on the heat scale.   Looking for a substitute? Try a double dose of Thai Bird's Eye. 



How to remove the seeds and ribs (inner whitish pith):  
1) Cut chile in half lengthwise with a knife. 
2) Starting opposite the stem end, run the edge of a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon along the inside of the chile, scraping out the seeds & ribs. 


HOW TO ROAST CHILES: 


By roasting chiles, you'll break down their cell walls, which releases more flavor & caramelizes their sugars, bringing out a richer flavor.  (Note: do not run skins under water - this actually washes away flavor.)


Stovetop: best for small chiles, like jalapenos, that can be quickly roasted.
1) Place wire cooling rack over gas burner & turn to high.
2) Arrange chiles on wire rack directly over flame and char on all sides, turning with tongs
3) Transfer chiles to bowl and cover with plastic wrap, steam for 20 minutes
4) Peel off skins, but not under water, and remove seeds


Oven method: for larger chiles, like poblanos or Anaheims, slice 1/4 inch off the top & bottom, pull out the core, slit down one side, and press chili flat into one long strip.
1) Arrange chiles (whole, small, or skin side up if strips) on foil-lined baking sheet
2) Broil chiles until charred.  If whole, small, flip over to char both sides


3) Transfer chiles to bowl and cover with plastic wrap, steam for 20 minutes
4) Peel off skins, but not under water, and remove seeds


Waste not, want not
elz + pab 

7.08.2010

fresh breakfast, coming up!

Who doesn't love a great breakfast to start off their day??  Omelettes are so easy to whip up, because you can toss in whatever you may have laying around...fresh veggies, cheese, meat, etc, for a brand new, tasty meal each time!  


This time, we chopped up some tomatoes, chiles, and added fresh corn to ours.  What's in your favorite omelette?



Waste not, want not
elz + pab

7.07.2010

easy peasy, make your own pasta

How was your long weekend?  We had a beautiful weekend here in Boston, and took full advantage of the nice weather.  Complete with biking, beaching, and picnic-ing alongside the james taylor concert, fireworks, and ELZ's birthday.  We were exhausted come Monday night.

We are so excited for this post - it is the first of our homemade pasta series here at bottomless kitchen!  And there is no better way to start things off than by making your very own, fresh pasta.  Although it is slightly more labor intensive than opening a box of ready-made spaghetti and tossing into boiling water, it  will taste so much better with your sweat & tears mixed in (literally? that's up to you).

Pasta is basically flour and water.  The critical piece is combining the ingredients and mixing them together just right.   When the dough is ready, you can make any style you choose (ravioli, spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine) with a pasta maker.  You can even split the dough into a couple sections if you want to freeze the dough for later use.  Pasta sauce is another great make-ahead item.  You can freeze containers of pasta sauce for months if you choose! More on the sauce later...

Active time: About an hour
Total time: About two hours
Makes eight ounces


INGREDIENTS:
2 1/3 cups pasta flour
2 fresh eggs, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon olive oil
2/3 of a cup of warm water
1/2 teaspoon of salt


DIRECTIONS:

  • Sift flour onto clean work surface or into a large bowl.  
  • Make a well in the center of flour and pour two lightly beaten eggs into the well.
  • Add salt & oil
  • Mix ingredients with a fork, gradually adding the warm water until the dough is soft enough to handle
  • If the dough is too dry, slowly add a little more warm water, drop by drop - literally!
  • If the dough is too wet, add more pasta flour
  • Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until it can be formed into a soft ball
  • Cover dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour
  • Divide dough in three pieces, roll each piece into a 1/2 inch thick sheet
  • Let sheets sit for five minutes
  • Cut noodles with a knife, or press through a pasta machine
  • Dry noodles on a rack for at least an hour before cooking, or place in refrigerator until use (good for about 24 hours)
  • Drop noodles into boiling water and cook for 8-12 minutes (test pasta after eight minutes), careful not to overcook
  • Drain, add sauce, and serve!

ELZ & PAB's review: A solid pasta recipe that is fairly straightforward.  We would make this again, but we also enjoy trying different pasta recipes.  Using a pasta machine for the first time can be frustrating, so make sure you are working slowly and following all of the steps.  It is easy to forget to change the thickness, and can be difficult to work with the pasta to keep it uniform when you get down to the thinner settings, so be patient & remember no one will know they were mis-shapen once they are cooked, right??
Waste not, want not
elz + pab

Make Your Own Pasta on Foodista

7.03.2010

101: butter makes everything better


Ever wonder at the amount of real estate in the refrigerated section dedicated to butter? With different types and competing brands, quickly grabbing an item from the cooler requires knowledge and decisiveness! Without either of these, you will end up like PAB, listlessly staring at the selection until you finally notice your nose getting cold or the drool dangerously attempting to breach your lower lip. This post is intended to help you to forgo such embarrassments.  

So, why the selection?  Butter is a dairy product, consisting of butterfat (milk fat), water, and milk proteins.  By beating cream, which is the thickest/fattiest part of milk, you'll end up with butter.  Most butters are made from cows milk, but it can also be produced by sheep and goats, and even horses and yaks, less commonly (really any mammal, we should have stopped the list at goats...).  Butter is a good source of vitamin A, and also contains vitamin D, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium. 
  • Sweet butter: "unsalted butter"  made from sweet, pasturized cream without adding salt.  (Most common uses:
  • Sweet cream butter: "salted butter" made from sweet, pasturized cream with the addition of salt. Basically, sweet cream butter has salt added as a preservative, thus creating a longer shelf life (up to three months in a refrigerator), and to enhance flavor. So, this means that sweet cream butter is often less fresh than sweet butter, and since manufacturers include different amounts of salt, it is harder to determine how much extra salt you are adding to recipes when you use this type of butter.
  • Raw cream buttter: made from fresh, unpasturized cream, which creates a cleaner cream flavor.
  • Whipped butter: derived from either sweet butter or sweet cream butter, it is aerated with nitrogen gas which increases its volume and is more easily spreadable.
  • Cultured butter: made from fermented cream, which allows for bacteria to convert the milk sugars into lactic acid, naturally souring the cream.
  • Clarified butter, or ghee(link): almost pure butterfat, from removing almost all water and milk solids.
Other fun facts:
  • The average fat content of both salted butter and sweet butter is about 80%.
  • If you have no choice but to use sweet cream butter (salted) in a recipe, a good rule of thumb is to omit a 1/4 teaspoon of salt for every 1/2 cup (one stick) of butter.  (Unless of course you are RBJ and you would be adding extra salt because it's your favorite food group.) 
  • Appropriately wrapped butter will last for about one month under refrigeration.
  • You can freeze butter, which will then keep for up to six months.
  • The color of butter varies from yellow to nearly white, which is dependent on the food the animal eats, as well as seasonal changes. However, most manufacturers achieve the characteristic pale yellow color by adding an artificial coloring agent.
  • PAB likes to leave his butter unrefrigerated, letting it ooze from the wax paper onto the counter, insisting it is completely healthy.
Waste not, want not
elz + pab