Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Zucchini pizza with bacon and tallegio

Source: Jaimie Oliver

I totally dig Jaimie Oliver, the tv chef personality, and yet I don't think I've ever made any of his food before. I don't remember where I saw him do this pizza, but he has at least one show dedicated to pizza making, and this version was one quarter of his "pizza four ways". Truth be told, we just really needed to use up some CSA zucchini, and the thought of grilled zucchini, stir fried zucchini, soup with zucchini, or zucchini bread kind of made me want to stick a knife in my hand. So I remembered his pizza; add bread, tomato sauce, expensive cheese, and bacon to anything and it will make you want to lick the hot pizza stone (warning, you just might do that when you've come to the end of your pizza and you think, oh crap it's all gone).

1 premade whole wheat pizza crust (or make your own if you're not like me and aren't making this after work while you're already famished)
a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce
1 large zucchini, sliced extremely thin (I use a vegetable peeler)
1-2 pinches chile flakes
3 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
a bunch of tallegio cheese (fontina if you can't find tallegio)
olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 475
Build pizza on pizza stone or baking pan in this order: crust, sauce, zucchini, bacon, chile flakes, cheese
Drizzle with olive oil
Bake until cheese begins to brown (10-12 minutes, but will depend on your crust situation)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Vegetable Casserole

Please, do not judge me before reading the recipe.  I know what "casserole" conjures in you head. Something mushy, salty, and flavorless in a pfaltzgraff baking dish.  Something laden with cream of mushroom soup with crunchy fried canned onions on top.  But alas, this is nothing like that so take your pre-conceived notions elsewhere.  And, AND, it's got an Italian name, Tortiere di Verdure al Forno, so see?  This would not be consumed aside jello salad with marshmallow fluff.

This dinner was inspired by a recipe from Mary Ann Esposito, who used to (maybe still does, not sure) have a cooking show on PBS when I was a kid.  Her cooking is very homey and comforting.

This casserole is a snap to put together, is great as a light main course or as a side, and must must must be eaten with some quality bread for dunking in the cheesy wine sauce that sits at the bottom of the pan that is reminiscent of fondue.

1 T butter
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices (Russet)
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 medium yellow squash, sliced thin
1 cup grated Pecorino cheese (or combo of cheeses, such as a nice cheddar or gruyere)
2 tablespoons dried oregano (I used Herbs de Provence)
Salt to taste
1/2 cup white wine (or more)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 F.
2.  Butter baking pan
3.  Layer potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and squash sprinkling with salt, herbs, and cheese as you go
4.  Pour wine into one end of pan
5.  Bake covered with foil 30 minutes
6.  Bake uncovered until cheese is bubbley

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Red wine risotto with peas

Source: Giada DeLaurentis

I can't believe I haven't posted this recipe yet. We make it all the time. I guess I probably haven't posted it yet because risotto is just one of those dishes that you really don't need a recipe for. You kind of just toss in what you got and what you like. But I really do like this particular combo of red wine, which gives the dish a beautiful rich hue and the bright green peas. And I know that Giada is just a food tv personality, but I've got to say that I genuinely enjoy many of her recipes. Most of the time her recipes are light without much, if any butter and cream and they are almost always incredibly easy. And to top it off, not in this recipe, but in many of her other recipes she is very heavy handed with the lemon. Any gal that uses a lot of acid in her cooking is a gal after my own tastebuds.

Note, once you learn the basic risotto method, you can make up your own versions. The gist is this: soften your onions / garlic in fat, add the rice and toast, add some wine until absorbed, then add hot liquid about 1/2 - 1 cup at a time, only adding more when the previously added hot liquid has been absorbed. This slow addition of liquid will allow the rice to release its starches and your texture will be velvety smooth. versatile.

3 1/2 cups chicken broth,preferably homemade but can substitue low-sodium boxed or flavorful veggie broth to make vegetarian
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup arborio rice, or medium-grain white rice
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus additional for garnish (I always add more)
Salt and freshly ground black peppe

1. Heat your broth in a sauce pan, keep it warm and covered.
2. Melt butter in a separate large pan over medium heat, sweat onions until transluscent, add garlic, saute 1 minute.
3. Stir in rice until transluscent, about 1 minute.
4. Add red wine, stir until absorbed, about 1 minute.
5. Add 3/4 cup hot broth, reduce heat to low to the point that the broth and rice are just simmering. Allow liquid to be absorbed, stirring occaisionally (about 5-8 minutes).
6. Repeat addition of broth until broth is gone and risotto is nice texture.
7. Stir in peas and parsley. Season to taste.
8. Garnish with parmesan and serve hot.