Monthly Archives: March 2009

Confused about Infused?

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When I got word that my friends at Lucini were doing flavored oils I got a bit nervous. From the moment I tasted their first products I have always been so impressed with their commitment to great quality. The truth is I had never tasted infused oil that did not have a fake flavor like horrible imitation processed foods. I should not have been surprised that Lucini would produce something new and amazing! Because I had never found flavored oil that I liked I started thinking “what the heck do I do with them?” I treaded slowly, pouring the oils in dipping dishes and serving with crusty bread. My teenaged daughter could drink the Delicate Lemon Extra virgin Olive Oil and informed m that we were running out and I had to get more before her spring break sleepover. Since then I have been incorporating the oils into my everyday cooking and I look forward to sharing my Lucini culinary adventures with you.

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic & Lemon Oil
1 pound Asparagus, Trimmed
1 tablespoon Delicate Lemon Extra virgin Olive Oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Pre heat oven to 350. Lightly coat the asparagus with the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 12 minutes until tender. Change oven tempetuere to broil. Gently shake the asparagus and sprinkle with Parmesan. Place under the broiler for about 3 minutes until cheese is melted. Serves 4.

Green Beans with Red Pepper and Walnuts
1-pound green beans, cleaned and trimmed
1 Red Pepper, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons Fiery Chili Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
In a skillet or electric wok (high heat) heat oil. Sautee green beans, walnuts and pepper about 5 minutes until the beans are tender.
Toss with salt and pepper. Serves 4
Lemon Risotto
5 tablespoons Delicate Lemon Extra virgin Olive Oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
6 cups chicken stock
3 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan or sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on medium heat until the onion is pale, soft and translucent.  Place the stock in a separate saucepan and place over medium heat to warm it through.  Once it has become hot, reduce the heat to keep the temperature but not to boil the stock.   You simply want to keep it hot so that when you add it to the rice, the temperature doesn’t drop. Add the rice and lemon zest to the onion mixture.  Stir to combine and to coat all the grains in the oil. Begin to add the hot stock, adding about 1 cup at a time and stirring continuously until each cup of stock is absorbed before adding the next.  Continue to add the stock, a cup at a time, and continue to stir, until the rice is al dente.  This will take about 20 minutes.  Depending on your rice, you may not need all 6 cups of stock so start tasting your rice after you’ve added 5 cups. When the rice is al dente, remove from the heat and add the Parmesan.  Stir to combine. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and serve immediately on 4 plates and drizzle with remaining Delicate Lemon Extra virgin Olive Oil.

Grilled Swordfish in a Black Bean Sauce
2- 15 oz cans of black beans
1-tablespoon Fiery Virgin Olive Oil Chili Extra

1 red onion chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1-cup chicken or vegetable stock
Fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
6- 8 oz swordfish steaks
Fiery Chili Extra Virgin Olive Oil for brushing fish
In saucepan heat oil and sauté onions and garlic for 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook until softened stirring constantly. Add the black beans and stock stir over medium heat until thicken and sauce reduces about half. Puree with an emulsion blender. I like to leave it a little chunky. Cover while preparing the fish. Prepare grill. (These can be done on the stove top grill o broiler as well.) Brush fish well with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill or broil until cooked through about five minutes per side.) If you made the sauce ahead reheat. Place fish on a plate and spoon over sauce and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serves 6.

Gwen Kenneally

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Pizza Rustica – Italian Easter Pie

Pizza rustica is traditionally served in many parts of Italy, such as Sicily, Naples and Liguria, as the first course on Easter Saturday to break the Lenten fast or to begin an Easter Sunday feast.   The meats and cheeses utilized vary by region and even family, so feel free to substitute in your favorites as long as the flavor profile and consistency are similar.  I have not found any versions of this recipe without prosciutto.  A few add hard-boiled eggs, which is a nice touch as eggs are often utilized to represent rebirth.

The pizza rustica is VERY filling – many people (not me) are sated by a small slice.

When dicing the ham be sure to cut it into small cubes – you don’t want the filling to be ridden with large, clumsy chunks.  If you use fresh mozzarella, cut that into small cubes as well.  If, on the other hand, you opt for the drier and relatively taste-free packaged mozzarella, you should shred it on the large holes of a cheese grater, likewise the asiago.  The Parmesan should be finely grated rather than shredded.

Lastly, I realize the use of a store bought crust is a sign of serious weakness of will (laziness) on my part, but when I make my own I end up with: dough and flour all over my apartment, dozens of extra dirty dishes and an inferior crust.  If you enjoy making your own, don’t let this crust-challenged corner cutter stand in your way.  Most recipes call for Pasta Frolla for the dough, often with a hint of lemon peel added.

Meat Pie!!

Meat Pie!!

Ingredients:

2             Pie Crusts (one for the bottom and one for the top)
2 TB       Lucini Lemon – Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1  C         Ricotta salata or Italian Basket cheese (shredded)
1/2 Ball  Fresh Mozzarella cheese (cubed small)
1 C          Fresh soft Ricotta cheese
1 C          Asiago or aged Provolone (shredded)
1/2 C     Lucini 3 Year Organic Parmigiano Reggiano (grated)
3             Eggs
1/4 LB  Mortadella or italian ham (1 piece diced small)
1/4 LB  Prosciutto (1 piece diced small; NOT sliced)
1/4 LB  Spicy salami (1 piece calabrese or soppressata; diced small)
2 TB       Lucini Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spread the lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil over the bottom of the pie crust and massage the oil into the crust.

Break up the ricotta salata or basket cheese into a large mixing bowl.  Add the meats, fresh mozzarella, Asiago and Parmigiano Reggiano and stir until evenly distributed.   Season with pepper and/or paprika to taste.  Beat the three eggs, mix in the soft ricotta and pour over the mixture.  Stir well until the filling is dense and thick enough to stand a spatula or wooden spoon in, but it not so thick that you can’t incorporate the ingredients evenly.

Pour the filling into the bottom crust and use the back of a wooden spoon or your fingers to spread it evenly. Top carefully with the other crust – do not tear this crust.   Gently press it directly against the surface of the filling.  Trim the top and bottom crusts that hang beyond the pan so that only 1 inch of overhang remains, then press them together and fold them in toward the center of the dough to form an edge.  Press down on the rolled edge with the tines of a fork to seal and form the crust.  If desired, use the leftover dough to make Easter cutouts (bunnies or eggs, for example) to decorate the top of the pie.  (This is a great way for children to help out in the kitchen!)  Using a sharp knife, cut slits in the top crust.  (This is NOT a great way for children to help out in the kitchen!!)

Bake, for about an hour, until the top is golden.  Remove and check to see if the sides of the crust are golden.  If not, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and return the pie to the oven until the crusts are golden – this should be less than 5 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes or until the sides of the pan are not too hot to touch.  If using a premade crust or traditional rectangular/square/round pan do not attempt to unmold – simply present in the cook vessel.  If using a springform pan, remove the sides and carefully transfer the pie to a large plate or platter.  The presentation will be improved with the latter and everyone will know you labored over your own crust!

Cherry Tomato Chutney

I love the complex flavor of this chutney, delivered by a variety of spices and vegetables.  The Lucini Cherry Infused Balsamic adds a rich sweetness, a bit of sour and actually helps to thicken the chutney.  After trying a number of different vegetables to compliment the cherry tomatoes, i finally decided on fennel, which keeps some crunch despite the 30 minute simmer.  The chilis and anchovies are optional, but I recommend both, as each helps fill out the complexity that makes this chutney so much fun.  I use it as a sandwich spread (particularly turkey breast or roasted vegetable), an accompaniment to Indian takeout and a quick jazz to any bare vegetable preparation such as  green beans or roasted brussel sprouts or .  The recipe is easy to follow and requires a minimum of effort, but the simmer should be at least 30 minutes long.

Ingredients:

1 pint Fresh (preferrably organic) cherry tomatoes (approximately 5 oz.)
1 small Onion, minced
1/4 cup Fresh fennel chopped small (any bruised or discolored stalks removed)
2  Garlic cloves
4 small  Dried chilis (adjust to fit your own heat tolerance; 4 provides a noticeable bite, but no roar)
4 Coriander seeds
2 Black peppercorns
2 Cloves
1/2  tsp Cumin seeds
1/8  tsp Nutmeg (cinammon works in a pich)
2 Tb Lucini Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2/3 cup Brown sugar
1/2 cup Lucini Cherry Infused Balsamic
4 Anchovies (optional)

Preparation:

Saute the onion, fennel and garlic in the olive oil.  Meanwhile, heat the chilis and other spices (coriander, peppercorns, cloves, cumin and nutmeg)  in a pan until you can smell the fragrence start to be released.  Grind the chilis and spices in a mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder.  Add this mixture to the onion/fennel and stir well.  Continue to cook until the onion is translucent.  Add the tomatoes (washed) and anchovies (thoroughly rinsed).  Stir well.  Add the sugar, Cherry Infused Balsamic and salt and pepper to taste.  Raise the heat to medium and cook until mixture reaches a boil, then turn down to low and simmer for 30 minutes.   The tomatoes should be fully broken down and the chutney should be thick with a consistent reddish-brown tint.  The chutney will be ready to go, but refrigerate any that you do not plan to serve immediately.  A small splash of Lucini Chili – Infused Extra Virgin adds yet another facet to the flavor profile.

The chutney will keep for a month in your refrigerator.

I was inspired to make this dish when I noticed that Indian restaurants in my neighborhood seemed to be watering down their mango chutney well past the range of usefulness.

Recipes & coupons…what else does a cook need?

We think the Lucini seasonal newsletter is pretty useful and not too annoying. There is always some seasonal recipe, news bit and special ‘offer’ (some deals better than others).

Here is a link to the winter issue: BOLLETTINO. Unfortunately the $3 coupon has already expired; just have to wait for the next one.

Every Crown Jewel Deserves a Box

Cheese is my chocolate. Many a late night I have pillaged the fridge looking for some last scrap of my favorite gooey french cheese or tried to shave into thin slices the last bit of Irish cheddar to be laid carefully over Swedish hard bread. My latest sensation is the rare and very hard to find Lucini 36month Parmigiano Reggiano drizzled with my favorite honey from Hawaii.

This cheese is so special it deserves the box it comes in. Each 8oz wedge arrives from Italy pre-cut by the artisan cheesemakers at location (ReggioEmilia D.O.P) to protect its integrity and flavor. Something that took 3 years to carefully craft is owed more respect than a bit of saran wrap.

It is now available for everyone to enjoy thanks to ZABARS in New York who is selling the product online.

Salmon w/ Hazelnuts & Pineapple

salmon hazelnut

Not only is salmon a beautiful and flavorful fish, but it is also one of the best sources of omega3 fatty acids – conducive to brain cell development and shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers and hypertension.  This preparation compliments the naturally full flavor of salmon with the earthy, bass notes of Lucini’s Roasted Hazelnut & Extra Virgin Vinaigrette and the slightly sharp sweet and sour of pineapple.  The bell pepper and roasted hazelnuts add visual and textural complexity.

If possible, you should use wild salmon for this dish.  Farmed salmon is lower in omega-3s and often contains PCB and other contaminants and remnants of drugs or other chemicals used in the salmon farms.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb            Salmon fillets
  • 1/4 cup   Lucini Roasted Hazelnut & Extra Virgin Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup   Soy sauce
  • 1 Tb          fresh Lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp    Turmeric
  • 1                 Bell Pepper (cut into thin strips)
  • 1/2 cup   Pineapple (large chop of fresh or organic canned without syrup)
  • 1/4 cup   Hazelnuts (roasted, chopped)
  • 2 Tb          Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preparation:

Wash and dry salmon and place in a coverable bowl.  Emulsify the vinaigrette, soy sauce, lemon juice and turmeric.  Reserve 1/2 of this mixture and pour the other 1/2 over the fish.  Cover salmon and refrigerate for 35-45 minutes.

While the salmon marinates, roast the hazelnuts in a 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes until the skins begin to blister.  Allow nuts to cool and then chop and save.

Remove salmon from refrigerator.  Heat 1 Tb of olive oil in a non-stick pan and then add salmon to the pan skin side down.  Oil another smaller pan on the bottom and immediately place this other pan on top of the fish to keep the fish from curling during the cooking process.  Cook for 4 minutes with the skin down, then turn the salmon over and cook skin side up for two more minutes.

While you cook the fish, heat the other 1 Tb of olive oil in another pan.  When the pan is hot, add the peppers, pineapple and reserved marinade and saute for 2 minutes.

To serve, top each 1/4 lb serving of salmon with a corresponding 1/4 of hazelnuts, peppers, pineapple and sauce from your pan.

Simple Sardine & Bean Salad

Sardines, beans, turmeric and flax seeds are four tasty sources of nutrients.  I like to use fresh beans, but sometimes they can be hard to find.  This recipe packs a protein punch, and anchors a quick lunch or dinner when paired with a green salad or some dark, leafy greens.  Lucini Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette adds a perfect, bright splash to counter the potential heaviness of the beans and fat of the fish.  And while sardines, beans and flax seeds may sound like the building blocks of a bland, “health over flavor” meal, this dish cedes no points in the taste department.

Ingredients:

  • 1      can   Olive Oil packed Sardines (drained)
  • 1      can   Organic Beans (Red or White Kidney, Black, Fava, Cannelini or Adzuki – use 1.5 C fresh, if possible)
  • 1/4 cup   Sun-dried Tomatoes (sliced crosswise)
  • 1                Scallion (green and white parts chopped)
  • 1/3 cup   Lucini Cherry Balsamic & Rosemary Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 tsp    Salt
  • 1/4 tsp    ground Paprika (preferably smoked)
  • 1/8 tsp    ground Black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp    ground Turmeric
  • 1      Tb     Flax seeds, ground (optional)
  • 1      Tb     Lucini Basil-infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preparation:

Combine the first eight ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Add more salt, pepper or paprika to taste.  Cover bowl and rest in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Remove and mix in flax seeds and olive oil before serving.

This dish was inspired, in part, by Dr. Andrew Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid.