Well, I probably shouldn't do this, but I've started another Blog. Like I don't already spend too much time at the MacBook. As some of you might have guessed, I like to cook and I love to eat. So I thought I'd share my recipes, humble as they may be and an occasional dinner menu at our house. I am somewhat "reluctant" to share this project right now, but caution to the wind. The plan is to be discovered by the Food Network for my cooking show Cranky Franky's in the Kitchen.
Am I ready for critics? Probably not. I know my instructions are not always clear or precise. Let me know if something doesn't make sense. Anyhow, if you're interested, check out "Dinner's Ready"

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pasta alla Carbonara con Portabella and a side of Broccoli Rabe

This will probably be the last post for a while...I won't be cooking while on vacation.

OK boys, before you start getting hung up on the Eye-talian words, how does pasta with bacon and eggs grab ya?  alla Carbonara means "Charcoal Maker's Style".  Now I don't know any charcoal makers, and we haven't used the stuff since getting a gas grill.  But supposedly these charcoal makers came home from work and all they had was a hunk of pancetta to go with their pasta.

The broccoli rabe is a bitter green vegetable with broccoli florets and leaves.  It is a type of broccoli but the strong flavor may not appeal to everyone.  I just saute garlic in olive oil (does it seem like 90% of my cooking begins with olive oil and garlic?) then toss in the broccoli rabe after cutting off the tough stems, with a little water and let it steam for a few minutes.  (This veggie goes good with Italian sausage).
Broccoli Rabe
Well,  back to the pancetta - the Italian "bacon" that is NOT smoked.  If you use smoked bacon, just forget it, I won't talk to you. This recipe is based on an old cookbook "the Romagnoli's Table" by Margaret and Franco Romagnoli where the Carbonara recipe is not adulterated with heavy cream like you find in many Italian restaurants.  Way too heavy on the stomach.  Margaret actually called for salt pork rather than pancetta because, when the book was written, you couldn't find pancetta anywhere in the USA outside of maybe New York or Chicago.  But, definitely use pancetta, it is delectable and salty, but not overly salty.  
Pancetta, sliced at the deli
Baby Portabella Mushrooms - sorry for the blurrrrr
I used the following for my Carbonara:
2-3 pieces of garlic
olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, sliced and diced
1/4 pound Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
Fresh ground Black Pepper
13 oz box of Whole Grain Linguine
2 eggs beaten with a few grinds of black pepper added

Just added

Nicely cooked
Get your spaghetti pot of salted water on to boil. 
Put olive oil in the trusty cast iron skillet, add the garlic over high heat for a few minutes.
Add the pancetta and the mushrooms, saute until the pancetta begins to brown but not too crispy.
When the water boils, add the pasta (spaghetti is traditional, but I used "healthy" whole grain linguini) and cook until "al dente" according to the box directions.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, vigorously beat 2 eggs with some fresh ground pepper until foamy.
When the pasta is done, quickly drain and add the pasta while very hot to the bowl with the beaten eggs.  Toss IMMEDIATELY to "cook" the eggs with the hot pasta; add the pancetta and mushrooms with any oil from the pan and toss again, to coat the pasta with the "sauce".

Serve with grated parmigiano reggiano.  Dinner's Ready!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

FFC - Frank's Fried Chicken

Thanks to Russ at Blue Truck Red State, talking about KFC, I had a craving for some fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. Shook up the chicken thighs in a bag with flour and a bunch of not-so-secret herbs and spices - maybe I was a little heavy on the 'blackened seasoning".  Fried in the trusty, not rusty, cast iron skillet.  Made mashed potatoes with the skins on, and some gravy with the pan scrapings, flour and chicken broth from a box.  Served with some oven-fried rutabaga strips.  Here's the finished product.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wild Mushroom And Truffle Ravioli with Pancetta and Asparagus

Oh, I am getting SOooo LAZY!  Saw these in the Italian deli.  So they're not "homemade" from scratch.
But it was my idea to use the pancetta and asparagus.  Boiled the frozen Wild Mushroom and Truffle Ravioli.  Sautéed some pancetta in garlic olive oil with fresh ground black pepper, added the asparagus, until the veggies were cooked but still crisp.  Served it all over the ravioli with a little grated parmigiano reggiano.  Italian bread, a glass of vino bianco.  Cena e pronta!.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Salmon with Crusty Potato and Panko

NOTE: this is not a perfected recipe.  Took some left over oven roasted potatoes and crushed them up with panko bread crumbs and a little S&P. Covered the salmon pieces with the mixture and popped it into a hot oven until the potato/bread crumbs got nice and brown.  Served with broccoli and melted cheese sauce.  Not my finest, but very edible.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Boy Am I Getting Lazy

The pizza place we usually order from was apparently having trouble with their phone service or they went out of business since yesterday.  But no problem.  A few thick slices of Italian bread, a small can of Goya Tomato Sauce, left over sausages from the pasta dinner, a few slices of pepperoni and the last of the package of shredded mozzarella and voila! Bread Pizza.  'Nuf said. Dinner's Ready!

How Many Ways Can You Cook A Chicken

We eat a lot of chicken.  The market had whole chickens for 88 cents a pound this week.  I bought two.  The check I got from doing surveys was $6.80.  That paid for dinner.

Here is the bird with salt, pepper, lots of garlic and Rosemary from the sunroom, ready for the oven.

 Not the prettiest of meals, but tasty.  Oven potatoes and a yam.

Quick, simple, but repetitive.  I also made a big pot of chicken soup with bird 2.  Done that here before.  Goodness...Am I running out of ideas for Dinner's Ready? ... I think I may still have a few dishes I've not  posted yet....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Breakfast - Panettone French Toast

Panettone is an (imported) Italian holiday bread with raisins and citron and has so much butter in it and wrapped so well that they will last for several weeks or more and still taste fresh. When our local discount outlet sells them after Christmas for $3.99, (I've seen them at the Italian market for $10 or more) I always buy a few for emergency sweet cravings.  This is partly why Leon and I have put on pounds.  As soon as these are used up, we are definitely going to lose weight.  There's logic in that statement somewhere, I'm sure...
I started using Panettone for French Toast and Bread Pudding before the Barefoot Contessa or Giada did on TV.  Slice the Panettone fairly thick, dip in scrambled egg/milk mixture (don't add sugar or vanilla) and make like French Toast in a skillet with butter.
Top with fresh fruit and a dusting of confectioner's sugar.  Breakfast is Ready! Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vegetarian Onion Soup au Gratin

Start by listening to k.d. lang's rendition of Roy Orbison's "Crying" while peeling and slicing about 2 1/2 pounds of onions. (about 8 cups, sliced longitudinally). This makes 4 to 6 servings of onions soup au gratin, depending on the size of your soup bowls and how much bread in the bottom.

Saute the onions in two batches or use two skillets. Use 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of olive oil for each batch.  Saute over high heat for as long as it takes to caramelize the onions.  When they are a nice golden brown with a little bit of almost burnt color, combine all the onions in one skillet, add 1 1/2 cups of dry white wine and 2 teaspoons of salt and simmer for a few minutes.
Transfer the onions to a soup pot or large sauce pan and add about 4 cups of water. Let simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes to an hour, adding a little water to maintain about 6-7 cups of soup.
Meanwhile, grate some cheese or buy some pre-shredded - about 2 to 4 ounces of cheese per bowl. Sharp Cheddar, Muenster and Swiss make a great combination for this soup. Or try some Gouda, Asiago, Jarlsberg, or other cheese of choice.
Place a piece of crusty French or Italian bread on the bottoms of four oven-safe soup bowls. Ladle about a cup and a half of the soup in each bowl, distributing the onions and the broth evenly so no one gets cheated. Put a good heavy layer of cheeses on top and place the bowls on cookie sheets and into a 400 degree oven. Wait 20 to 25 minutes until the cheese melts and starts to brown on top.

Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes - they will be HOT and the cheese will burn your mouth if you are too impatient. But really, can anything with melted cheese be bad?
While the soup cools, listen to k.d. lang again, then holler: Dinner's Ready!
Serve with nice white wine like Pinot Grigio or Soave or an Apple Cider, hard or sweet. With a salad, it's a meal in itself.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Another King Cake

Well I've done this so many times before that I will be short and sweet. You can find the recipe here and here, so I won't repeat it. Just a few pics. Had no lemons, so used orange rind instead. Oh, and this time I made a sweetened lemon flavored cream cheese filling.

Mardi Gras - New Orleans 1996?
People lining up their ladders before the parade so they can catch more "throws".

My dough was struggling to rise in our 62 degree house.  Why is it that 62 degrees on a sunny spring day is warm enough to run around in a t-shirt and shorts, but 62 degrees indoors in the winter is almost too cold to be comfortable without two sweatshirts and flannel jammies?
Into the oven - two small cakes instead of one - gotta bring one to Cousin Rose tonight.
Out of the oven.  Much nicer.
A little gold, green and purple.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gnocchi di Ricotta

When I was growing up I never heard the word "dumpling" at home.  But I ate plenty of gnocchi (pronounced n'yaw-kee, with the gn having a similar sound as the Spanish ñ) totally unaware that they are a type of dumpling.

Although not strictly regional, "Roman" gnocchi are made with potato and "Florentine" gnocchi are often made with ricotta or a mixture of ricotta and spinach.  Almost all the recipes on line include eggs in the mix, but mom never used eggs.  The dough is simple: about 2 cups or 1 1/2  pounds of ricotta cheese, a little salt, pepper and nutmeg and about 1 1/4 cups of flour a bit at a time while mixing with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.  Then mix by hand until the dough is evenly textured.  You should add flour until you don't feel any wetness in the dough.  It should be soft and light.
Get a big pot of salted water boiling on the stove while you make your gnocchi.
Roll the dough out into long ropes with the palms and fingers on a floured board.  
Cut the rope into about 1 inch sections, and roll each piece in the palm of one hand with two fingers of the other hand and let the gnocchi fall on a floured cookie sheet or large plate. 
Toss the gnocchi into the pot all at once or in two batches.  When the gnocchi float to the top they are done.  Remove with a slotted spoon.  
Serve with tomato sauce, melted butter, or other sauce of your choice.
Dinner's ready.

Just a note on that ricotta cheese in the picture.  The Maulucci family is related to me on my mother's side.  They don't know I exist but they make the best ricotta in this area.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fish Again

Did the poached fish with spinach and rice again.  This time with sole and ocean perch.  (Wild caught - is that OK? )  Made the rice more like you would do jambalaya with the Trinity - onion, celery, green pepper and a little garlic and heat - with some chicken stock.  I also drizzled the spinach and the fish with some garlic-infused olive oil.  It's a good simple quick dish, and good for you too!

Dinner's Ready