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"

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cavolfiore alla Nonna

My grandma used to make cauliflower like this, except that she cooked it a bit in boiling water first, then breaded it and fried it in a skillet like eggplant.  I am trying to be a bit healthier so I did not boil out the nutrients and I used olive oil to coat a baking sheet and sprayed the cauliflower with canola oil spray before putting it in the oven.  (You know, of course, it tastes better fried.)

This can be an antipasto (appetizer) or a contorni (side dish).

I must be in my flour-egg-breadcrumb phase, because that's what you need to make this antipasto.  Wash and deconstruct the cauliflower into florets and halve them if necessary to get like-size pieces.  Dredge the pieces in seasoned (salt and pepper) flour, dip into beaten egg, then roll in and coat with Italian breadcrumbs to which you have added some good spoonfuls of parmesan cheese.  Place on baking sheet and into the oven at 375 for 30 minutes or until tender and browned slightly.

Flour-Egg-Parmesan/Breadcrumb the Florets
Place on baking sheet
Bake until tender and brown 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chicken Fried Steak

Well, this isn't pretty, but it is tasty.  Definitely a comfort food.  You can google for various recipes.

Basically take a cubed steak and dredge it in seasoned (use salt and plenty of black pepper) flour and egg a few times and then pan fry it in enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet.

Use the drippings for gravy (a few tablespoons of flour, chicken stock, some milk).  I saut√©ed some mushrooms in the oil first to make a mushroom gravy.

Pour this over the steak and a hill of mashed potatoes.
Not pretty, but tasty
There are some green beans on the table too.

Dinner's ready.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli in 15 Minutes or Less

As if there weren't enough dialects in Italy,American-Italians had to invent another one.  You've heard of Pasta Fazool? The sound of that hurts my ears.

Anyhow, here's a very quick recipe that is actually very good.  I'm not a big fan of canned soups with the large amount of sodium, corn syrup and who knows what else, but Progresso Tomato Soup is good, even if it does have some questionable ingredients.

Get some olive oil and garlic going in a skillet.

Open some cannellini beans and a can of Tomato Soup....no, no, not the Campbell's...
Boil a third to a half pound of pasta like the box says - Choose a shape that will fit in a spoon, like elbows or shells.  I swear, the shape does make a difference in the taste of any pasta dish!  I'm using shells here.
Put the can of beans into the oil and garlic, add fresh black pepper, a bit of oregano.  Heat through for a few minutes.
When the pasta is done, drain it; return it to the pot and combine it with the beans and the tomato soup.  Add some fresh basil.  Bring to a simmer for a few minutes.
Serve with grated parmigiano cheese.
Lunch is ready!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Roasted Squash Soup and a BETO Sandwich

Zuppa di Zucca Arrostita

This is a hearty soup for a cold January day.  Except for the squash, the ingredients are flexible - depending on what you have on hand.  Roasting the veggies gives them a nice flavor and aroma - and makes a rather bland squash much tastier.

Many recipes add heavy cream or milk.  I find this totally unnecessary and way too heavy on the gut.

But don't be TOO creative!  Make sure the veggies and herbs you choose are compatible.  One thing I don't like is a soup made by an overly zealous cook who uses every spice on the spice rack and the philosophy that "more is better".  Too many out-of-tune instruments in the orchestra can spoil the music...

For this dish I had on hand, a butternut squash, two acorn squash, a half of a fennel (anise), an onion, some carrots, some rosemary from the sunroom and, from the garden a few sage leaves and parsley.  A bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg.  And the all natural, no msg, low fat chicken broth from Aldi's.

I was thrilled to find a few sprigs of parsley (which is a biennial and winter hardy) in the garden because I thought the critters had completely done it in by summer's end when I saw most of it disappear - eaten from underground by the roots.  Ah, the tribulations of a gardener!
Coarsely chop the veggies, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, a chopped sage leaf, a few whole sprigs of rosemary.  Toss and roast in a 375 to 400 degree oven.  (my oven is not exact, so I put it on 425) for about 45 minutes or a bit longer - until the squash is fork tender.  The onion and fennel should be nicely caramelized.

Remove the rosemary from the roasted veggies, then transfer the veggies to a pot.  Add a box of chicken stock (or veggie stock to keep it strictly vegetarian), add chopped fresh parsley and a dash of nutmeg.  Bring to a boil, then simmer over lower heat for ten to fifteen minutes or so.

I do not own a full-size food processor.  I don't have the storage space, don't have the counter space, and for the most part, prefer to "process" the food myself.  I have a small electric "chopper" and this puree thing - an immersible blender.  Just be careful not to remove it while its still spinning!

Puree the veggies.  It's OK if you miss a few chunks.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with some good bread.  Maybe a hunk of some nice cheese.  Can anyone suggest a cheese to go with this soup, other than cheddar. Maybe Gruyere or Asiago?  (Just a minute, I'll have to run to the store for that.)

Decided to go with a variation on a BLT for Dinner:  Bacon, Braised Escarole, Tomato, Onion

Fry the bacon, reserve some bacon drippings in the pan, add some chopped garlic, heat on high, add a handful of escarole leaves and braise until the escarole is wilted.  Layer the B,T,E, and O on some nice toasted bread.

 A few little slices of Gouda too.

Dinner's Ready!