The Literate Chef

Posts Tagged ‘mozzarella’

Vegging Out & Vegging In

In General Articles, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian Meals on July 24, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Summer Vegetables on the Grill

Summer Vegetables on the Grill

Growing up, mixed vegetables frequently meant boiled peas and carrots, compliments of Birds-Eye®.  Open the box of frozen “mixed vegetables”, place the contents in water, boil them to remove all flavor and nutrients, then smother them in butter and salt to make them somewhat palatable. I must admit however, that Birds-Eye®  have come a long way since the 1950’s!

With summer in full swing and Farmers Markets popping up everywhere, “mixed vegetables” takes on a new meaning. Pick up some eggplants, preferably the small Italian variety, some red peppers and a couple of zucchinis. And, if you are so inclined, add a red onion and a summer squash, but its your call.

Following is a simple recipe for grilled mixed summer vegetables:

Ingredients:

3 Italian Eggplants, cut into 1&1/2 inch cubes (leave the skin on for added flavor and crunch).
3 Red Peppers, cored, seeds removed and cut into 1-inch squares.
2 Zucchinis, sliced into thin circles (1/4 inch or less).
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Procedure:

1. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to very hot, a covered grill is best in order to concentrate the heat.
2. Place the cut-up vegetables in a very large bowl.
3. Pour in the olive oil and toss well.
4. Add salt, pepper and basil and toss well again.
5. Place vegetables on a grill pan and roast with the grill cover closed for 25 to 30 minutes until cooked to your liking.

Serve as a side dish or main course.

As an added plus, place the leftovers in a gallon-sized Ziploc® bag and refrigerate for two or three days. Get some Italian bread with a good crust and a fresh mozzarella; slice the bread in half lengthwise, add the cold vegetables to the bottom half, cover with several slices of mozzarella add the top half and you are in veggie heaven.

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Summer Penne

In Pasta, Recipes on July 4, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Summer Penne

Summer Penne

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. prosciutto end, trimmed of fat, about 2 cups diced, save some of the fat for rendering.
2 cups diced fresh mozzarella (see Note 1)
1 & 1/2 cups marinated roasted peppers, julienned
2 pints grape tomatoes, 4 cups halved (see Note 2)
Basil, 1/4 cup sliced
Penne, 1 lb.
2 tbsps. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Procedure:

1. Bring large pot of water to boil for the penne.
2. Render a couple of strips of prosciutto fat and lightly brown the diced prosciutto. Set aside the browned prosciutto and remaining rendered fat.
3. Cook the penne according to directions. When al dente, drain it and add the olive oil and stir, add the mozzarella and mix well. (see Note 1).
4. Add the prosciutto with the rendered fat as well as the roasted peppers and mix well.
5. Add tomatoes and basil, mix and serve immediately with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Note 1: When it was mixed with the penne, the diced mozzarella did not melt as planned . Instead, it reformed into a mass that had the be pulled apart. Try using ricotta left at room temperature rather than mozzarella.
Note 2: Quarter the tomatoes instead of halving them and blanch them before mixing with the penne.

If you prepare this meal with the revisions, let us know what you think.

Please see This Little Piggy Came from the Market

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Roasted Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

In Meat, Pork, Recipes on September 16, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Roasted and Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

(Serves 4: preparation time 1 hour, cooking time 30 minutes)

Ingredients:
2 Pork Tenderloins (they usually come two in a package) about 2.5 to 3 lbs.
1 medium sized fresh mozzarella, diced into small pieces
1 small jar (7 or 8 oz.) sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 & ¼ cup dry white wine
2 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Special items you will need:
10 lengths of butcher’s twine – each 15 inches in length
Meat mallet

Procedure:
1.    Cut a deep, lengthwise, slice into each tenderloin; taking care not to cut all the way through.
2.    Cover each sliced tenderloin with wax paper and flatten as much as possible with meat mallet.
3.    Add olive oil to sauté pan and sear the outside of each tenderloin (one at a time) for about 2 minutes on medium heat. Remove meat to plate and let cool, retain the drippings in the pan.
4.    In the meantime make the stuffing: first add the basil leaves to a food processor and pulse chop, then add the sun-dried tomatoes and pulse chop again, finally add the diced mozzarella and pulse chop. Add pepper, blend and set aside.
5.    Re-heat the drippings from the tenderloins in the sauté pan, add the wine and bring to a boil, de-glazing the pan. Reduce the wine by about one-third  and add about 3 tbsps. of the stuffing to the gravy. You should have about ¾ to 1 cup of gravy. Set it aside.
6.    Once the pork has cooled, lay out 5 pieces of cut butcher’s twine on a cutting board, place one tenderloin over the strings, browned side down.

Flattened and ready for tying

7.    Spoon approximately ½ of the stuffing onto the tenderloin and close it up, tying off the strings, snip any excess string length after knotting.
8.    Repeat for the second tenderloin.
9.    At this point the stuffed tenderloins can be placed in the refrigerator until ready to be finished cooking the same day.

Ready for the Oven

10.    When ready, pre-heat oven to 450 degrees, place the stuffed tenderloins directly on a low-sided roasting pan and roast for about 25 to 30 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
11.    Heat the gravy in a small sauce pot.
12.    When the meat is ready, remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes.
13.    Cut the strings and slice each tenderloin into 2 inch thick pieces, add any spilled stuffing to the gravy and pour the gravy over the slices. Serve immediately with sides of Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli. Serve with a fine Valpolicella such as a 2009 Corte Figaretto.

Please see: An Experiment in Stuffing a Roast

Rigatoni Neri

In Pasta, Recipes on January 29, 2012 at 2:30 PM

Rigatoni Neri

Active preparation time – 45 minutes, inactive cooking time – 1 hour. Serves 8 people.

The sauce may be made in advance and reheated before cooking the Rigatoni.

Ingredients:
•    1 cup + 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
•    1 large Eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
•    Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
•    1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
•    1 lb. hot Italian sausage
•    12 cloves of garlic chopped fine
•    3 28 oz. cans San Marzano tomatoes cut into large chunks
•    1 cup dry red wine
•    2 lbs. Rigatoni
•    1 fresh unsalted mozzarella packed in water, diced small, about 1&1/2 cups
•    30 leaves of basil chopped coarsely
•    Freshly grated Locatelli Romano cheese

Preparation:
1.    Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2.    In a large bowl, toss the cubed eggplant with 1 cup of the olive oil. When fully coated, sprinkle with salt & black pepper and toss again.
3.    Spread the eggplant in one layer on a cookie sheet, roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
4.    While the eggplant is roasting, brown the sausages on medium heat for 20 minutes, turning frequently.
5.    When browned, slice the sausage into ½ inch pieces.
6.    Heat remaining olive oil on high in a 6 quart pot.
7.    When oil is hot but not smoking, reduce heat to medium, stir in the chopped garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sliced sausage, stirring constantly for about a minute.
8.    Add the tomatoes and their liquid; return heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
9.    Add the roasted eggplant and wine, turn heat to low and simmer uncovered for an hour to fully blend flavors, stir periodically.
10.    Fill a large pot with sufficient water to cook the Rigatoni according to directions on the box of pasta.
11.    When Rigatoni is cooked, drain and toss it with the sauce.  Add the diced mozzarella, one handful at a time,and toss well to melt and spread throughout the pasta.
12.    Add the basil and serve at once with grated cheese.

Please see: Cooking in Naples…Florida, that is!

Serve with crusty Italian Bread and Chianti Classico Riserva

How to Cook Like an Italian Grandmother

In General Articles on April 9, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Food, from its raw state to its ultimate consumption, is a sensual journey. From the acquisition of the ingredients, through the process of preparation, presentation and consumption, the senses of sight, smell and taste, almost always come into play. However, the two other senses, sound and touch, are no less important to our overall enjoyment of food, even though they are not always present during each food experience.

As more of us dine out, or purchase prepared foods, the sense of sound usually experienced in the preparation of food is lost, unless of course, you are eating in a restaurant with an open kitchen. Similarly, in many dining out experiences, formal or otherwise, unless it is finger-food like passed hors d’oeuvres, or hand-food such as barbecued ribs, the sense of touch is not necessarily evident.

Certain foods frequently take us back through time to our childhood, or to particularly memorable moments in our lives. Who among us having grown up in a large city, has not, when walking past a ‘Jewish’ deli, and inhaling that heady aroma of a combination of grilled frankfurters, steamed corned beef and pastrami, mixed with the pungency of dill and new pickles, recalled a time from their childhood when they were treated to a similar experience?

Having grown up in the northern Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood in the 1940s and 50s, living with my parents and younger sister, I, like many of my friends and contemporaries was fortunate to have had those food experiences, as well as others, many times over. I can still recall hot summer afternoons and the Jewish deli that used to be on the southwest corner of Vermilyea Avenue and 207th Street. Its aroma would hit me full in the face as I walked into the store, awakening my salivary glands in anticipation to the treats ahead. Then the crunch, the heat, the powerful salty taste, moderated by the yeasty freshness of the bun, as I first bit into a sizzling hot dog, just off the grill. To be followed by the greasy yet crisp feel of French fries served in a paper cup, each of which was coated with salt grains that clung to it and ketchup that cooled its heat. As I savored this combination of flavors, all five senses were certainly going strong!

Equally vivid in my memory bank  is walking into the Pizza Haven, inhaling the aroma of garlic, fresh basil, tomato sauce and yeast. I can still recall the sensation of that first slice of ‘fresh from the oven’ hot pizza, as the mozzarella clung to and burned the roof my mouth!

My forays into the pizza parlor were a secret kept from my grandmother and mother, each of whom took great pride in her ability to create a memorable meal for her family.

What we have attempted to do with theliteratechef.com is to entertain and share with you some of our memories while giving you some cooking ideas to introduce to your family and friends. Hopefully you will find them easy to implement and they will become part of your memories as well.

Please Continue to: Everybody Has a Story   


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