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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Snack Spotlight: Blue Diamond Maui Onion Garlic Almonds


In a market flooded with peanuts of every sort, cashews and of course the macadamia who would've thought the almond would be able to excel in such a nutty market. Flavored almonds are nothing new, in fact I remember a long time ago having smoked almonds (actually I think they just have smoke 'flavoring' added to them) and I liked them right away. Recently the folks over at Blue Diamond came out with the Bold line of almonds. One of the flavors they are selling is Maui Onion and Garlic. Maui Onion's as the name implies comes from the volcanic rich soils of Hawaii and from what I have read are very sweet compared to the yellow onion most of us cry over here in the mainland. I am sure the onion flavor in the almonds pales in comparison to the real thing but they do indeed have a sweet onion taste with a bite of garlic. Almonds themselves are very low in carbs and high in Vitamin E and Monosataurated Fat(the good fat the lowers cholesterol). Next time your are in the chip aisle on your supermarket try picking up some of these bad boys instead

Monday, January 28, 2008

Family Recipe:Potato Dumplings




There are few dishes from my childhood that spark nostalgia more than potato dumplings(Kartoffelkloesse in German), or as my family refers to them potato balls. This is a traditional potato German dumpling usually served with a nice pot roast or Saurbraten. It is perfect to sop of some gravy or to enjoy with a pat of butter. Usually when I make this recipe I do so along side with my grandmother. When I inquire on why she does certain things when preparing the potatoes, or recommend an additional ingredient my suggestions are shot down quciker then the red baron. This is how she was taught to make them and she refuses to deviate. I shouldn't argue though because they are constantly delicious.

5 lbs Idaho Russet Potatoes
10 tablespoons all purpose flour + extra for dredging
5 tablepoons farina
4 eggs
2 table spoons salt
Water for boiling


Rinse the potatoes and boil until they are soft 20-30 min. Let the potatoes cook and proceed to peel the skin off of them. After they are peeled put them through a Potato Ricer into a pan large enough to hold five pounds of potatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with your hands. This is a very messy job, one of my cousins uses rubber gloves to preform this task but I will leave that up to you. Once everything is all mixed well you can starting making the dumplings. You are going to want to give yourself plenty of space to do this. Lay out a few large pieces of wax paper and make a pile of flour on the paper. Grab a handful of the potato mixture and roll them around in your hands until you form a smooth ball. You want to make them a slightly larger than you would a meatball. Coat them with flour and add to a pot of boiling water. Boil the dumplings at for eight minutes in water making sure not to crowd them in the pot.



Yields: 28-35 dumplings


Tips:


* Traditionally these dumplings are enjoys boiled but they are very good if not better fried. To do so cut the dumpling in half and fry in butter until brown and crispy on the outside

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Spaghetti Pie




This is a simple recipe that isn't a show stopper but it is a nice 'comfort food' type of dish that works well on a cold winter evening. As I stated in previous posts I find normal spaghetti and meats balls in red sauce a little boring and its always nice to try something different. In this recipe I used the whole wheat pasta to mimic a pizza crust and added some homemade meatballs and three different cheeses to concoct more healthier alternative to pizza.


1/2 14 oz box of whole wheat spaghetti
2 eggs beaten
4 mid sized meatballs sliced
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning
2 tablespoon fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup low fat mozzarella cheese grated
8 oz tomato sauce
3 chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste


Cook pasta one minute less according to instructions drain and add to large bowl. Add beaten eegs,Parmesan cheese ,Italian Seasonings,salt and pepper and mix well. Transfer the ingredients to a ten inch cooking pan lightly sprayed with Pam. Take your ricotta and spread it over the pasta's surface with the bottom of a spoon. Try to leave about an half inch of pasta uncovered around the parameter because the pasta will form a nice crust. Next spread the tomato sauce over the ricotta, then spread the mozzarella over the sauce. Place the slice meatballs on top of the mozzarella and bake in a 375 degree oven for twenty five minutes. Garnish with chopped basil.

Yields 3-4 servings or if you are really hungry 2-3 serving or if you want to make a spectacle of yourself 1 serving


Tips:

*To make slicing the meatballs easier I put them in the freezer for a half hour to firm them up.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Involitni Of Beef




This is a Giada Di Laurentiis recipe. Its a nice twist on Braicole. Here is the link to the recipe on The Food Networks Website:Click



Tips:


* You are going to want to pound the beef to get it as thin as possible and to increase the surface area. By pounding the beef it will aslo help tendorize it. Best way to do this is to place the beef slices between two pieces of plastic wrap drizzled with water. Pound the beef lightly moving from the middle to the outside of the slices

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Rotini w/ Vegetables and Brie Cheese

More likely than not you eat pasta on a regular basis. It's okay to admit it you are not alone. Also more likely than not you enjoy your pasta with tomato sauce. This is also not a crime as most people do as well. I find it hard to get excited about pasta and tomato sauce though, because this is something I have been eating my whole life. In this recipe I tried to spruce up the everyday favorite with vegetables and Brie Cheese. Yes I know adding a French cheese to a pasta dish might sound odd but the brie melts then coats the pasta giving it a well needed kick that you will enjoy.

7 Oz. Whole Wheat Rotini
Approx 5 oz Brie Cheese
4 Oz. Tomato Sauce
7 Asparagus Spears, trimmed cut into 2" pieces
1 Bell Pepper chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
6 Cherry Tomatoes halved
5 larges basil leaves torn
Juice of half a lemon
3 oz white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
Dash red pepper flakes(optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste


Cook pasta as directed and set aside. Heat up the olive oil in a large hot skillet and add the chopped garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for about two minutes making sure you don't burn the garlic. Add the pepper and the asparagus. Cook for one minute stirring once or twice. Stir in tomato sauce,wine and lemon juice. Cover and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Remove cover and add pasta. Stir the pasta once to cover it in sauce. Now the Brie is a very soft cheese and it is hard to slice Removed the rind of the cheese and with your fingers pull off small clumps of cheese, about one inch in size. Spread to pieces of cheese over the pasta evenly. Add the cherry tomatoes and cover letting the cheese melt about a minute or two. Remove cover and stir so the melted cheese coats the pasta. Salt and pepper to taste and tear the basil leaves over the pasta and serve. 2-3 servings




Tips:

* Use any pasta you like but I recommend the Rontini or perhaps a Fussili. You want a pasta with a lot of crevicesfor the cheesy sauce to get stuck into.

*Shave about two minutes off the cooking time of the pasta for it will continue to cook while it's in the skillet.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Antipasto


Antipasto is proof that you can achieve pure culinary perfection without actually lighting a flame. Few items marry as well as assorted Italian Hams, cheeses and marinated vegetables. When I created this I finally have an idea what Da Vinci must of felt when he painted the Mona Lisa. Instead of a canvas I had an aluminum pan. Instead of paint I had prosciutto. Regardless when I was finished I knew I made something special. I did not feel guilty though when I marred the molto bello display of salty pleasures when I jolted my serving fork into the dish. This is because the true beauty is revealed in full when take your first slice of sopressata. Molto rispetto antipasto, molto rispetto

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Dinner Tonight: Spaghetti Squash / Tomato Sauce




First and foremost I'd like to wish everyone a happy and healthy new year. I figure I would start the new year on the right foot with a hearty healthy dinner. Spaghetti Squash has always intrigued me. There are not many things that grow in nature that can subsitute pasta but S.S. pulls it off. Like pasta S.S. itself does not have much flavor but you can cook it in garlic and oil or in this case serve with tomato sauce. The sauce I used is all homemade void of any fat like butter or oil and is fortified with protein rich Kidney Beans






1 Spaghetti Squash around 3 lbs

1 15oz can Red Kidney Beans

3 Large Tomatoes chopped



1 Small Onion chopped



1 Sweet Red Pepper chopped



1 Garlic Clove chopped



6 Cremini Mushrooms Sliced



1 teaspoon dried Basil



1 teaspoon dried Oregano



Salt and Pepper to taste









Sauce:

Add the chopped tomatoes,pepper and onion to a food processor or blender and mix until smooth. Add the the mixed ingredients to a large skillet and bring to a simmer. Drain and rinse the kidney beans and add to skillet. Then stir in all of your spices and cover. Let everything simmer for thirty minutes stirring occasionally.Stir in the mushrooms for the last ten minutes of cooking.

Squash:


Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and stringy pulp completely. Place the S.S. face down in a glass pyrex and fill the bottom with a about a half inch of water. Bake for forty five minutes in a 350 degree oven. Remove the S.S. from the oven hold one of the halves vertically over a large bowl. Scrape the inside of the S.S. with a fork. The flesh should come out stringy resembling spaghetti. Repeat the same procedure with over half. At this point you can either transfer the S.S. to a plate for serving or you can use the empty halves of the S.S. as a bowl and serve with the tomatoe sauce on top.
Tips:
* The seeds of a S.S. are very similar to pumpkin seeds and are delicious toasted. I rinsed off all of the seeds and removed any pulp that was attached to them. I then sprayed them down with Pam and salted them up. Put in the oven with the S.S. for twenty minutes.


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