Monthly Archives: May 2009

Nigella Loves….

She cooks!

She cooks!

From over the pond, cookbook author and food personality extraordinaire Nigella Lawson expresses her love for Lucini Fig-Infused Balsamic vinegar. She has a nice Serrano Ham and Fig Salad recipe on her site that would also work with this dressing:

Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/3 cup Lucini Fig Infused Balsamic
1 tsp fresh Garlic, minced
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black pepper
1/2 tsp Lemon Peel, grated fine
1/2 cup Lucini Basil Infused Extra Virgin

In a bowl, whisk together fig balsamic, garlic, salt and black pepper. Add garlic and lemon peel and stir. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil (VERY slowly at first) while whisking constantly to emulsifiy. If you have time, refrigerate until serving; this seems to make the flavor more consistent throughout the vinaigrette.

Quick Tip – Grilling Chicken

Just sharing a couple quick tips for those of you grilling chicken this weekend – some favorite brines, rubs, sauces and marinades and lessons I have learned from many years of chicken grilling.  Happy Holiday!!

Be sure to brine for an hour or less!

Be sure to brine for an hour or less!

  • The first step is to brine, rub and/or marinate your chicken before grilling.  Chicken is a relatively light flavored meat, so you will want to add flavor before serving.  Here are some of my favorite chicken brines, rubs, sauces and marinades:
  • It is fun to play around with brine, rub marinade recipes, adding some local flavor or just adjusting spices to better fit your eaters.  I prefer brines, which do not contain oil, to marinades, as the fats block the liquid water-holding capacity in the meat, thus inhibiting the addition of flavor.  Chicken should brine for a much shorter time than other meats – only 30 minutes to an hour.  I do like marinades for chicken pieces, and if I’m feeling particularly energetic, will sometimes combine a brine with a rub.
  • Remove the chicken and allow it to reach room temperature before grilling – do not allow meat, particularly chicken, to sit unrefrigerated for too long however – an hour at most.
  • I setup my grill with all of the charcoal distributed only half of the grill.  This way you can place the chicken over the half without coals, allowing the chicken to cook slowly over indirect heat.
  • To test for doneness, prick a thigh and make sure the juices run clear.
  • For whole chicken, the entire cooking process takes place over indirect heat.  For cut-up chicken pieces, I start the pieces over the coals and cook them about 2 minutes on each side, until you get those nice grill marks.  Then, move the pieces to the other, cooler side of the grill to finish.  Again, check to make sure the juices run clear to ensure the chicken is fully cooked.
  • Grill temperatures ran fluctuate broadly, so you have to pay close attention when grilling a whole chicken.  Unlike beef, you do NOT want to serve chicken rare or even medium rare.
  • Be sure to lightly oil the part of the grill that will be holding the chicken and the chicken itself.  Without lubrication your chicken may stick to the grill – particularly if you place it over direct heat.
  • Allow your chicken to rest for 3-5 minutes for pieces and 10-12 minutes for whole chicken before serving.  This allows juices to redistribute to the external portions of the meat.
Rest for 5-10 minutes.

Rest for 5-10 minutes.

If you’re looking for a smashing (but simple) dessert, try these Gingersnap Cookies.

Roasted Potato Salad

This simple potato salad recipe is always a hit at family meals, picnics and barbecues.  If you find potatoes at a farmers market, those will work best in this recipe, as the potatoes are front and center here, not hiding behind strong mayonnaise or dressing. I love creamy potato salads as well, but this one brings out the full flavor of the potatoes through roasting, the light spices and fruity olive oil add a beautiful color and complimentary taste.  If so inclined, you can jazz it up a bit with some chopped olives, green peppers or even kim chee!

Potato Salad

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450.  Mix oil, turmeric, chili powder, paprika and mustard seed.  Cut potatoes into even, small bite size pieces and then toss in oil.  Roast potatoes for 10 minutes, transfer to a bowl and then cool in freezer until potatoes reach room temperature.

Mix other ingredients well.  Add potatoes and stir until all the potato pieces are coated.

Pesto

Why flax seeds?  I have been reading a lot about omega 3 lately and trying to work it into my diet more often (rather than relying solely on supplements).  One of the best sources of omega 3 is ground flax seeds and thinking about the groundness of the seeds led me to pesto – the root of the word is the same as pestle and both derive from the Latinpestâ” (to pound or crush).  It seems that many people have negative connotations for flax seeds – that the texture is weird or flavor will be unpleasant.  But, i’ve tested this recipe on some discerning palates and everyone thought that the nuts used were either 100% walnuts or a mixture of walnuts and pine nuts.  Be sure to taste before and after adding the salt – I usually avoid salt in pesto recipes, but because the Lucini Stravecchio Parmigiano Reggiano is so rich and flavorful and has less of a salty profile than generic Parmigiano Reggiano, I do add salt to this preparation.  As always find it better to start with a little less – you can add more, but if you start with too much, fixing the taste is difficult.

pesto

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Grind the flax seeds.  Combine the garlic, flax seeds, walnuts and salt in a food processor (or a mortar and pestle, for a more ‘authentic’ consistency) and blend until the mixture forms a paste.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, blending slowly.  Add the Parmigiano 1 tablespoon at a time, blending for short beats until the mixture forms a thick paste.  The pesto can be put in a container, topped with a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil and then stored for several weeks in the refrigerator.  Without this preservation layer, the pesto discolors very quickly and the garlic flavor will turn bitter in a matter of days.

Italian Comfort in a Jar

This yummy bean recipe is  from Art Smith’s blog:

TUSCAN BEANS IN A JAR
Makes 8-12 servings

2 pounds Tuscan beans, soaked in water overnight in the refrigerator
10 Roma tomatoes
¼ pound pancetta, diced
2 small onions, diced
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (I prefer Lucini brand)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Drain the beans and rinse. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cut an X on the ends of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the water in batches, if necessary. After 40 seconds, remove and plunge into an ice-water bath. Leave in the ice water for 40 seconds and drain. The skins should peel right off. Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Place a large Dutch oven over high heat, toss in the pancetta, and render until it begins to turn brown and crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain off some of the fat and toss in the onions, sautéing for 4 minutes or until the onions begin to look translucent. Reduce the heat to medium and add the beans, sautéing for about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 2½ hours. When the beans are done, add the basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately or let cool, then ladle into jars and refrigerate for later use. They will keep for up to three days.

Mango & Quinoa Salad

This is an incredible easy and very tasty quinoa recipe.  Quinoa is a high protein food and the proteins we get in quinoa also include fiber, carbs, and phytochemicals that protect against disease.  The mango adds a bright flavor, along with healthful vitamins and minerals, including: Potassium and Vitamins C, A and B6.  Grind some flax seeds, throw them in and you will add considerable omega-3, without inflammation promoting omega-6 acids!

quimang

Ingredients:

  • 1 C          Quinoa
  • 2 C          Water
  • 1/4 tsp  Salt
  • 1              Mango, chopped
  • 1/2 C      Cucumber, chopped small
  • 2 TB        Flax Seeds, ground (optional)
  • 3 TB        Pumpkin Seeds, roasted
  • 3 TB        Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp       Turmeric
  • 1 tsp       Curry Powder
  • Black Pepper, ground
  • 1              Lime, juiced
  • 1 TB        Pinot Grigio Italian Wine Vinegar
  • 2 TB        Cilantro, chopped

Preparation:

Wash the quinoa and then toast in a small dry saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it crackles and becomes aromatic, about 4-5 minutes.  Boil the toasted quinoa in salted water for 10 minutes, then let the quinoa sit until it absorbs all the water.  Fluff with a fork and let it cool to room temperature.

Peel the mango and cut into cubes.   Dice the cucumber, and add to mango along with the flax and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Mix the lime juice and vinegar with the curry powder, turmeric, salt and pepper.  Emulsify the olive oil into the dressing and then add the cilantro and stir well.

Add the cooled quinoa to the mango mixture, pour the dressing over the salad, and mix well until well distributed.

Scrambled Egg ‘Bruschetta’

This is is a simple recipe for children to help Mom (or another adult) prepare for Mother’s Day (or any other time).   They will feel like they are finishing up a special treat when they spoon the egg – ricotta mixture onto the toasted bread!  Removing 2 of the yolks provides the start for homemade mayonnaise and also cuts down the cholesterol in this dish significantly.  If you happen to have some extra tomato confitcherry tomato chutney or even tasty tomato sauce lying around, it can be spooned onto the bruschetta before the eggs.  Finish with a touch of Lucini Tuscan Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil and dig in!

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Toast (or grill, if so inclined) your baguette slices and then brushed with a small amount of olive oil.  Whisk together the eggs, onions, turmeric and salt in medium bowl until well combined.  Pour the olive oil to a nonstick skillet and heat for 1 minute at your medium setting.  Add the egg mixture and stir constantly until the eggs  are mostly cooked through, but a bit runny in parts – about 2 minutes.   Remove the eggs from heat, mix in the ricotta and stir just until incorporated, but the ricotta remains distinct.

Plate your toasts and spoon the egg – ricotta combination on top.   Grate the parmesan cheese onto the egg and season with more salt and freshly ground pepper.