Saturday, May 18, 2013
To be honest, I have been waiting so intently for the zucchini blossoms to appear at my local market to try some interesting recipes, which I recently spotted in some Italian culinary magazines, that I forgot about the zucchinis themselves. So, maybe, before I buy these blossoms or, if and until, they finally bloom in my garden, I would like to share a zucchini pasta recipe. This is one of not too many vegetable pastas that my picky kids enjoy a lot, so I cook it fairly often.
Usually, I have been making it with large green or yellow zucchinis and dried basil leaves, a combination which in this vegetarian recipe works perfectly. I grate the zucchinis on a large hole grater and make a creamy sauce with them, flavored with dried basil. But, the other day, I got a bag of beautiful, small and green baby zucchinis and decided to use them instead.
This time I only sliced the zucchinis as they were tiny. And, instead of the dried basil, I used the more seasonal fresh basil, which is already growing in the pots on my deck. I also cooked the whole wheat pasta that becomes increasingly popular and easy to buy. It has a little bit stronger taste so it goes nicely with a delicate taste of the zucchini sauce and provides fiber, proteins, and even a good amount of Omega 3 fatty acids.
1 box (about a pound) of Barilla multi grain penne or De Cecco whole wheat penne,
2 tbsp olive oil,
1 pound of baby zucchini or regular zucchini,
1 medium onion, chopped,
2 garlic cloves, minced,
1 cup table cream,
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tbsp dried,
salt and pepper to taste.
1. Cook pasta according to the instruction. With whole wheat pasts, this will take a little bit longer than regular, about 11-13 minutes,
2. Preheat oil in large heavy duty frying pan and fry onion until transparent.
3. Cut baby zucchinis into thin slices or if yuo have the normale size zucchinis, grate them on a large hole grater. Add them to the pan with the onion. Mix and cook all the vegetables together on a medium heat until all the water from the zucchinis evaporates and they start to turn gold. Add minced garlic and fry everything together for about 2 minutes.
4. Finally, pour in the cream, mix and bring the sauce to boil. If it becomes too thick, add an extra hot water from the pot with boiling pasta.
5. Season the sauce with salt and generously with freshly griound pepper, add chopped basil and mix everything well together.
6. Drain pasta, pour the zucchini sauce over. Finish with shredded Parmesan and serve with red wine.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
I had very different ideas for what my next post would be about but, unfortunately, my computer crushed a couple of weeks ago and before I restore everything the way it used to be, I can only share the recipes for which finding pictures is easy. But I do not think anyone would regret to read about this wonderful coffee dessert, perfect for the upcoming warm days.
This dessert is not only delicious but also very simple. A classic of the French and Italian cuisines, with some variations very similar in taste to ice creams, it is made almost entirely in a stand-up mixer. This particular coffee version has been one of my favorite summer desserts ever since I tried it. Coffee parfait can be served at the end of a dinner with or instead of an espresso. Accompanied by an extra glass of Frangelico it is an absolutely delicious finale to any feast.
I like it so much because of the roasted hazelnuts--my most favorite nuts--which give it an extra flavor and crunchiness. I recently discovered at TJ roasted hazelnuts from Oregon which have an unbelievable taste and flavor similar to those I used to eat in Poland. But if you do not have hazelnuts, another version of this dessert, which is also very good, can be made with almonds and any Amaretto liqueur.
Besides their great taste, frozen desserts come very handy as they can be made ahead. I usually keep one or two in my freezer in case unexpected guests arrive.
1/2 cup espresso coffee,
2/3 cup sugar,
4 large eggs yolks, preferably organic,
2 cups heavy whipping cream,
1/2 cup crème fraîche or additional heaving whipping cream,
3 tbsp Frangelico liqueur,
1 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts.
1. Brew the coffee, and put it together with sugar in a medium heavy-duty pot. Bring it to boil, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until it becomes thicker, more like a syrup. Watch the mixture as it has the tendency to over boil.
2. Put egg yolks in a mixer bowl and beat until pale. Add the hot coffee syrup and beat again until they are well combined.
3. Add to the coffee/yolks mixture crème fraîche and the heavy whipping cream and beat until combined and fluffy. Pour in Frangelico liqueur and beat briefly again.
4. Line 2 aluminium loaf pans (approximately 4 by 9 inches) with plastic wrap foil. Divide the parfait between pans and freeze for 8 hours.
5. Before serving, remove the parfait from the foil, place on a serving plate and decorate with hazelnuts. Cut it into inch-thick slices and serve with a small glass of Frangelico liqueur.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
I always think about fennel in the spring, perhaps because, traditionally, it is a late spring or summer vegetable.
Fennel is a nice vegetable, rich in folic acid and minerals, but not always appreciated because of its strong aroma. It can be added to fresh salads when you feel its crunchiness and flavor, or it can be cooked. Personally, I prefer it cooked.
Some time ago, I shared a recipe for fennel baked in béchamel sauce with goat cheese. It is a lovely but rather rich dish. So I was looking for a somewhat lighter fennel recipe where fennel could be an accompaniment to meat or fish, and not a dish in itself. I got inspired by a recipe for fennel cooked in wine, which I once read in some Italian cookbook.
I made two versions of that dish with some modifications. First, I cooked fennel in red wine. This way it became heavier, changed color, and tasted almost as red cabbage, which would make it a wonderful accompaniment to red meats. The other time, I made the same recipe using white wine. Much lighter but still well defined in taste, thanks to the sourness of the wine, and spicy because of the red pepper flakes.
This second recipe became my favorite among all fennel dishes I tried so far and I made it already several times. The dish is easy and can be made ahead and reheated at the last moment. It tastes great with all meats, also grilled, but particularly with delicate fish.
Fennel Cooked in Wine
3 large fennel bulbs,
2 tbsp olive oil,
4 garlic cloves,
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves,
1–1 and 1/2 cup dry white wine,
3 cup pitted black olives, sliced,
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1. Cut fennel in half and then into thick slices. Put it in a large heavy duty pot and add oil and garlic. Fry for about 10 minutes over medium heat stirring from time to time until fennel becomes gold.
2. Add rosemary leaves, olives, and red pepper flakes. Mix well.
3. Pour wine into fennel and simmer it uncovered for about 15-20 minutes. You may add extra wine during cooking if fennel is still too hard and wine already evaporates, but when the fennel is tender turn up the heat and let the sauce reduce.
4. Season with salt and pepper and serve.