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, October 29, 2021

Ciambotta (or Giambotta) con Salsicce

Ciambotta is a vegetable stew popular in Southern Italy, particularly in Calabria. It is similar to ratatouille which is made with eggplant, summer squash, sweet peppers and tomatoes. My Ciambotta has a few additional items that are not traditional (mushrooms, sausage) plus the very traditional ones potatoes which I'm not especially fond of in a tomato dish) which also can vary depending on the season and what one has on hand.
In the photo below, clockwise from top left: 2 cubed eggplants, sliced portobello mushrooms, fresh peeled garden tomatoes, chopped onion and sweet peppers, chopped garlic and crushed hot red peppers, 3 medium cubed zucchini, center stage 2 diced potatoes.

 Whoops, almost forgot the parsley and sweet basil

Also added some sweet grape tomatoes and of course extra virgin olive oil, 1 can of tomato paste, one can of diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, a splash of red wine

Simmer the  garlic and hot pepper in the olive oil 
Add the onion and sweet peppers and saute for several minutes
Add the potatoes and continue to cook on medium heat
Add the zucchini
The crushed fresh tomatoes and grape tomatoes went in next
Then parsley and plenty of basil
In a separate skillet saute the eggplant in olive oil. Note: eggplant will soak up oil like a sponge so it will be necessary to add a bit more olive oil, but just enough to get the bottom of the pan slick.
Saute on medium to low heat until the eggplant begins to brown slightly.
 Add the eggplant to the ciambotta

Add more olive oil to the skillet and saute the mushrooms. Mushrooms will soak up oil but not as much as the eggplant. 
When the mushrooms give up some juices, add a little black pepper and a splash of red wine
Add half the can of tomato paste and let it simmer on low for a few minutes.
Transfer the mushrooms to the ciambotta and add the rest of the tomato paste and a full paste can of water to the skillet. (Note: I only added half a can of paste at first because I thought a full can might be too much...but decided the whole can would work).
Saute some Italian sausages; I then sliced them and browned the sleces a little before adding them to the ciambotta.

Here is the ciambotta simmering on low for the next hour or so. This dish will be even better tomorrow or portions can can be frozen for another day. A big loaf of Italian bread and a glass of wine. Buon appetito!
You can also serve it over pasta, but the crusty bread is quite enough for me.

 I use a heat diffuser under my big pot to keep it heating evenly without burning.

Homemade Italian Bread of course...gotta soak up all that good sauce.
A little parmegiano reggiano.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

First Greens of the Season

 Sometimes food makes me happy. Especially when it comes from the garden. 

Especially when gardening here in New Mexico is such a challenge, what with the cold nights, the extremely hot days, the poor soil, the drought, the squirrels, the insects. Did I mention the blistering sun?

Today I was able to gather a good bunch of assorted greens: Swiss chard, kale, and spinach. This was all a substitute for my usual escarole. With a little variation, the Italian bean and pork hock minestra was excellent. 

At the last minute I decided that homemade potato gnocchi would go well with the soup. 

And, yes, it made me happy. 

Spinach, Swiss chard, kale. Extra virgin olive oil, garlic, peperoncini (hot pepper). cooked together. Pork hock, boiled. Cannellini beans, ceci (garbanzo beans), black pepper. Simmer for a couple of hours or more.

Potato gnocchi.

Serve together. Be Happy.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Something Different for Dinner

 Sometimes when I have ingredients that need to get cooked, I have to be creative. On Wednesday I bought two cartons of 18 eggs each, not realizing I had more than two dozen at home. When I got home I decided to hard boil eight or ten of the eggs for a salad perhaps.

I also bought asparagus among other veggies. Had a half carton of sliced portabella mushrooms in the fridge....and so tonight's dinner:

Into the frypan: olive oil, one clove of garlic, four cut-up slices of prosciutto di Beretta from Costco, chopped portabella mushrooms, black pepper. 

Sautéed the mushrooms with the prosciutto and added the trimmed asparagus and cooked it briefly. Cut the hard boiled eggs in half and placed them in the pan with fresh ground black pepper, turned off the heat and covered the pan to let the asparagus steam and the eggs warm.

Sliced some homemade Italian bread, cracked open a Birra Peroni and we enjoyed a simple and very scrumptious dinner.

 Sorry, the photos are what was left in the pan after we had already dug into our plates.

And some plain bread cinnamon rolls with orange zest, walnuts and dried cranberries for dessert.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Casarecci con Pesto

 Decided to make pesto this evening as I have a good bit of basil growing already. For some reason, I didn't think that Leon would like pesto so I rarely, if ever, make it. 

Of course I had no pignoli* nuts so used walnuts and a small food chopper (the horror of it) but it came out pretty good. Leon liked it.

The Casarecci are from Costco - a premium imported pasta that come in a 6-pack (6 pounds) with two other varieties/shapes (two of each kind).

*Finding Italian imported pignoli nuts is difficult and New Mexico piñon are highly recommended as being as good or better than pignoli. But I was dismayed to find "pine" nuts at Costco labeled "product of China" and I would not even consider that. I may just stick with walnuts.

Pesto: hand-full of fresh basil leaves, two garlic cloves, Kirkland extra virgin organic olive oil (about 1/4 cup, salt, imported parmigiano reggiano, (pignoli) walnuts. Blend with a mortar and pestle or food processor.

We have garlic breath. Time for a cup of decaf and something chocolate.

Pizza Night - Saturday

Made four pizzas...some for Saturday night, some to freeze for another night.

I've posted my bread dough pizza dough on other posts before.  Basically 4 coffee mugs of water, 2 tsp. dry yeast, 3 tsp. +/- salt, and enough all purpose or bread flour (King Arthur or other high quality flour) to make a dough that is just barely still sticky, so has a fairly high hydration. Let it raise in the fridge for 8-12 hours.

Toppings, mix and match: Italian sausage, tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, basil, ricotta, anchovies, mushrooms, parmigiano reggiano, mozzarella.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

My Version of Chili Con Carne

This is easy comfort food for a winter day.

Pork loin, olive oil, garlic, diced onion, diced jalapenos or chili peppers, hot pepper flakes, chili powder, oregano, canned beans, crushed tomatoes. (I use canned beans because no matter what - soaking overnight, not putting in salt, using baking soda, dry beans will NOT COOK for me. Is it the Cochiti water?)

Saute the veggies and meat in olive oil, add tomatoes and spices and beans and simmer for a couple of hours, more or less.

Serve with a good bread or over rice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

An "Italian" Moussaka Without a Lot of Details

I spent a good number of hours in the kitchen today (but that is my normal, not an exception) making my own "Italian" version of moussaka. It took a lot longer than anticipated.

Made some breaded eggplant but was low on breadcrumbs so after dipping the slices in egg and flour I covered the tops only with breadcrumbs flavored with oregano, black pepper, garlic powder and parmigiano. Baked them on a cookie sheet rather than fried.

The ground beef and tomato sauce (finely chopped onion, celery and carrots, garlic, diced garden tomatoes and canned tomatoes, basil and parsley) simmered for more than an hour.

Put some sauce, then a layer of eggplant, then most of the sauce, than a light layer of mozzarella, then another layer of eggplant and the remaining tomato sauce.

Topped the casserole with parmegiano-bechamel sauce and bread crumbs. 

Baked it at 350 for about 45 minutes. Served with a hot Italian sausage and a loaf of homemade bread.

Leon and I ate half the casserole...had to stop, but could have eaten more.

The photos don't do it justice.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Tomato Passata

Just what I don't need: another kitchen gadget. This one is for making tomato passata. Basically, tomato puree.

My tomatoes are ripe now, so a few days ago I took a chance and stopped in to Bed bath and Beyond - the item was supposedly out of stock, but there it was on the shelf.

Prepping my San Marzano and Roma tomatoes. Halving and cutting out green parts; boiling water bath until the skins start to loosen; let the excess water drain.


Basilico Genovese from the garden.

This is imported Passata. The jar is typical of the product in Italy.

This is all I got out of those tomatoes. About 24 liquid ounces. Watch the videos to see how much passata some people make.

The skin and seeds to go into compost.

I don't can stuff. This will go into the freezer. I did a second pass with the skins and seeds and got about a cup and a half more of passata which I will use for tonight's tomato sauce.

This is how the pros do it:

My next project for the morning was to make eggplant parmigiana.

But hubby called and said that we are going camping tomorrow instead of Monday as the campground had this Sunday available, but not this coming Saturday...whatever.

So I had to change my plans for the eggplant as it would take me hours with clean-up and now I had to hustle and cook and get the camper packed.

So I diced up the eggplant with garlic, onion, baby bella mushrooms, salt, pepper, oregano, pepperoncini (hot pepper flakes), olive oil and roasted the whole thing in the oven at 425 degrees.

My new plan involves adding the veggie mixture into a tomato sauce to serve over pasta. But I will need more sauce and don't want to use up all my new passata for tonight...so I reverted to the tomato paste from a can. (Kirkland organic if that makes a difference.)  Mom and every Italian aunt always "fried" the tomato paste in olive oil. It is not for me to question that wisdom, so that is how I do it too.

I added the second pressing of passata to the paste with water.

The roasted veggies ready to add to the sauce.

Fried some sausages and deglazed with a little red wine and added them to the sauce. Had some homemade turkey meatballs in the freezer, so added them as well.

So there. Can't wait for pasta tonight. Oh, and I also made bread this morning too. Baked one loaf and put two balls of dough into the freezer. We'll take one camping and have fresh bread one evening.