Monday, September 27, 2010

Lets Make Pesto!

Here is Stephanie's first video on our blog.  She normally films our videos but she's such a good cook we had to get her in front of the camera! 

4 cups of basil leaves
1 1/2 cups of olive oil
1 cup of pine nuts or walnuts
1 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste
Use it on pasta or pizza.  It's awesome on a turkey sandwich.   I use it on toast instead of butter.  We love tomato sandwiches and pesto makes them even better.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Homemade "Brodo" Broth

This is the finished product of homemade soup with greens, chicken and homemade meatballs.

 There is nothing better than homemade broth, chicken or beef as it has so much flavor and is a great starter for soups and risotto. It can be frozen and kept on hand.

Basic Recipe for Broth

Whole chicken or chicken breasts ( to keep it lower in fat)
Water to cover your meats and veggies
Celrey 2 to 3 ribs cut into pieces
Carrot 1 or two cut into pieces

Tomato 1 or 2 fresh or a handful of whole canned tomato

Onion 1 large or 2 med sliced into med pieces Fresh herbs ( Italian Parsley, Thyme, basil )
Salt and pepper

Add all to a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer and cook for about 2 hours or so till meat is tender and falling apart.

Here's what the start of the soup looks like

You can strain the soup when it's done and have a clear broth.
You can strain and remove the thyme stems and meats and then blend the cooked veggies into your broth.

If your broth looks like it has too much fat in it, then strain and put the broth into the fridge for a day and the fat will get hard and float to the top. You can then easily remove it.
Here I added some white beans to my soup

After a couple of hours of simmering

Chill strained broth to have the fat harden on top and be easy to remove

You can keep a little for flavor

Steam the greens first and then add to the cooked broth along with some of the cooking liquid
I like to add cooked greens to my soup ( endive, napa cabbage, rappini, anything you like) and then shred my chicken and add it all together to make a wonderfully delicious soup similar to an Italian wedding soup. Add a couple of meatballs that you have made from the freezer and it is a complete dinner.

You can also add some tortellini to the cooked broth and serve with grated cheese for a delicious starter. The possibilities are endless!

When I was little my mom used to ask what we wanted for our birthday dinner and I always wanted her chicken soup with rice.

Cooks note: You can use beef or chicken or a combination of anything you may have in your freezer. Bones give great flavor so make sure your meat has some bones.

Grilled pizza with the help of a Pizza Stone

Grilled Mushroom with Pesto Oil

Grilled pizza with peppers,onion, olive and fresh tomato plus pesto oil

Last night we tried something I saw on Bobby Flay's show.He was showing how to do pizza's on the grill.  His guest grilled her pizza on a stone that was on top of the grill. Now I like my grill marks so I start out on the grill doing both sides, brush some olive oil on your bottom of the dough and then put the dough olive oil side down on the pizza stone. Add the cheeses and close the lid so it starts to melt. Then add your toppings and continue to cook. You have a lot more time when it's on the stone then when it's just  on the grill as it cooks quickly on the grill and can burn easily.

Cooks note:  A Huge Metal Spatula is a tool you will want or a Pizza Peel to help moving the pizza around when you are doing this.

To finish it off, slide it over to the grill again till the cheese is all bubbly and hot and finish off with the pesto oil. Recipe to follow.

Pesto oil recipe

Fresh basil leaves
Fresh garlic
Olive oil and salt to taste

Just mix it all in a blender or mini chop type food processor and drizzle over your pizza when it comes off the grill.

A new cook in training~


Monday, September 20, 2010

Spinach Fritatta

There is a definite technique to making a really nice looking fritatta. I will post the recipe soon!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Basil Harvest 2010

We picked (almost) all of our basil last weekend.  We turned most of it into Pesto, I took video and I'll be posting it soon.  We tried a couple different storeage methods that we will test in a few months.  If everything works out, we'll be eating pesto all winter.  I can't wait to make a pesto pizza!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lentil Soup

Lentil soup is one of our favorites. It is easy to make, delicious and economical. It is also very healthy.

Here is the recipe our mom has passed on to us. We are from Bari, Italy and of course every region has it's own favorite ways of doing things.

Lentil Soup

1 bag of brown lentils ( raw or soaked in water and drained)

2-4 cloves of garlic chopped

3 stalks of celery cut as you like it

1-2 carrots cut or chopped

2-4 bay leafs

Olive oil I don't measure but seems like 1/3 cup at least

1 large can of tomatoes, either crushed , whole or sauce ( you can use fresh tomato if you prefer)


Salt and pepper to taste

You can soak your lentils for a couple of hours or overnight. This will cut down on cooking time but is not necessary.

Add lots of water to your stock pot to cover the soaked lentils by about 2 inches and if raw use more. You can always add more water if it looks too thick.

Drop in your chopped garlic, celery and carrots.

Add your bay leaves

Turn heat on high till mixture starts to boil and then down to a rapid simmer. If lentils are raw, cook for awhile till they start to absorb some of the water. If you soaked them you can add your large can of tomato in now and then once the heat adjusts, drop it down to a simmer.

Add the olive oil.

I do not add salt at this time. I usually wait till it's almost done to adjust with salt and pepper. If you prefer to use a chicken stock or vegetable stock instead of water or in addition to.. that is fine.

Once soup is cooked, adjust your seasonings. Add water to desired consistency, and if you like it a bit blended, use your immersion blender to thicken it up a bit. This is a wonderful soup on it's own and can be served with bread and salad to make a complete meal. You can add rice or cooked pasta as well. One of my favorite chefs on tv is Mario Batali. He knows so much about cooking from our region of Puglia. Soups and even frittata are so much about what you have in your pantry or refrigerator. Make them your own, use what you have and add your own touch.

Cooks note: Sometimes after a day or two, it always tastes better once it's refrigerated and heated up, you can add some spinach and turmeric or a touch of curry to give it a different twist, and adding broth or water to loosen the texture is always good.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My friend Larry made Meatballs and Sauce for the first time!

My good friend Larry is really enjoying cooking these days. He has changed his eating habits and lost quite a bit of weight. I keep telling him he can incorporate some of our Italian dishes into his regime because they are quite healthy, so he made some meatballs and tomato sauce for the first time. It looks pretty good!

Larry has started his own blog on healthy eating. Here is a link.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Grilled Pizza at a friend's house

These were really great!
We added bell peppers, mushrooms, artichokes, olives and fresh basil over the basic tomato mixture and drizzled some olive oil over them before serving.
You can add a lot of different toppings as long as they are cooked ahead of time and don't need to be eaten hot.

We did have one mishap when the grill was way too hot. Those 2 pizza doughs went up in smoke in no time flat.

Cooks note: You have to find your right temperature on your grill for success with this. I strongly suggest you practice once before doing for friends or have some extra dough handy.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Theresa's Tomato and Basil Sauce

This was one of the most popular sauce's at my Caffe in Fountain Valley and one I like to keep on hand most of the time. It is fast, easy and is delicious on it's own or you can add things to it or use it for lasagne, ravioli, etc.
Here is my recipe:
2 large cans of tomato
1 - 2 yellow onions sliced thin.
3 or so cloves of garlic chopped fine
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Fresh basil to taste ( I like lots of fresh basil)
Hot pepper seeds it you like it spicy

2 Cans of Crushed tomatoes ( the large ones) Or 1 can crushed and 1 can tomato sauce. ( whole tomato works well too, whatever you have in your pantry) I was in my garage this am and I have about 15 cans of tomatoes on hand.. not to mention loads of pasta (IT'S AN ITALIAN THING)

Fill the bottom of a medium to large saucepan with some good olive oil and heat it up.
Add the onions and garlic and saute till limp but not browned.
Good time to add hot peppers if you are inclined to do so.

Add your canned tomatoes.. 2 cans of whatever you like. Rinse the cans with some water and pour that in there too. It will reduce as it simmers.

I use approx 1/2 can of water per can of tomato.

Salt and pepper to taste

Let it come to a strong simmer and then lower the heat, add your fresh basil leaves and simmer on low for about 30 minutes or so. Season to taste. If you like basil, use lots of it, if not use a few leaves. You can always add more later if you can't taste it.

This sauce will keep in the fridge for a week. You can use it for chicken with mozzerella, put on your pasta, add steamed veggies and make pasta primavera, add olives, capers and hot peppers for a spicy dish of spaghetti.. the possibilities are endless. Drop some homemade meatballs in this sauce and it changes the taste completely!

And guess what? No preservatives added, you control the salt and for very little money you can feed your family something absolutely delicious!
Cooks Note: if you don't like to see pieces of onion or basil in your sauce, you can use an emersion blender to blend it once it's cooked!