Tuesday, 31 July 2007
This season as I slowly began to come out of my reality t.v. stupor, I realized something. Sigh.....I ♥ Gordon Ramsey. Hell's Kitchen, Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsey's Boiling Point -- I'm hooked on them all. No matter what show he appears on, I'm glued to my Tivo to watch him despite his wrinkled pug face and ascorbic tongue.
What I most admire about him, outside of his impeccable taste and demand for perfection, is his drive to succeed. This is a man who sets a goal and who will achieve it, no matter who or what gets in his way. I'll admit he might take it a bit far at times, but most of us would be lucky to have one-tenth the drive this man has. But alas, I'm just an old softie. Too many times I find my mouth saying "That's great!" when my head is saying "That's terrible!"
Go get'em, Gordon! I know you'll have those three Michelin stars in no time.
Chef Gordon Ramsay's Pumpkin & Pancetta Risotto
"A risotto with a lightly browned diced pumpkin brunoise, some smoky, crisp pancetta, and tangy Parmesan makes a good light meal." -- Chef Gordon Ramsay
1/3 cup chopped pancetta
2 to 2 1/2 cups light chicken stock
2 large shallots, chopped
1 pound pumpkin flesh, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 cups)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Scant 1 cup risotto (Carnaroli, Arborio, o Vialone Nano)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons mascarpone
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a dry non-stick frying pan and, when hot, fry the pancetta until browned and crisp. Drain and set aside. Heat the stock to a gentle simmer in a saucepan.
In a large saucepan, gently sauté the shallots and pumpkin in the oil for about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook for a further 2 minutes to toast the grains. Pour in the wine and cook until reduced right down.
Now pour in one-fourth of the stock and stir well. Cook gently until the liquid has been absorbed, then stir in another ladleful of stock. Continue cooking and stirring, gradually adding the stock, until the rice grains are just tender and the risotto is creamy. The whole process should take about 15 minutes.
About 2 minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the pancetta, mascarpone, and half the Parmesan. Check the seasoning, then serve in warmed bowls, sprinkled with the remaining Parmesan.
Serves: 4 as a first course or 2 as a main dish.
Monday, 30 July 2007
Don't be fooled by the imposters. "San Marzano style" tomatoes are not the real thing. They have about as much in common with the real thing as I do with Britney Spears. Canned tomatoes grown in the San Marzano region in compliance with Italian law will have the EU "DOP" emblem on the label. If you don't see it, don't buy it.
I can't stress enough that you need to check the label for the DOP emblem. There is actually a brand out there called "San Marzano", but the tomatoes are probably grown in New Jersey! I know this only because I did get duped and paid top dollar for a can of these fakes.
I generally use the La Regina brand -- not the best, but acceptable. Besides, it's all that's available at my grocery store!
Sunday, 29 July 2007
(You all should know that I'm a "guesstimate" kind of cook, so all measurements in the following recipe are approximate.)
Caitlin's Chicken Taco Salad
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 head iceberg lettuce
4 ripe tomatoes
1 4-oz can chopped chiles
2 4-oz cans sliced black olives
Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
French dressing (to taste)
Fritos (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large plastic bag, add the taco seasoning and chicken. Shake to coat. Place the chicken in a baking pan and cook for 30 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, cut the iceberg lettuce thinly into "shreds" and place in large bowl. Dice tomatoes and add to lettuce along with chiles and olives. Add French Dressing (can substitute Catalina dressing if preferred) to taste. Toss well to coat.
On each plate, place a good mound of the salad mixture. Surround with Fritos.
When chicken is done, let rest for 5 minutes. Slice on the diagonal in 1/2" strips and add each sliced breast to the top of the salad mound.
Top with cheese and a dollop of sour cream and enjoy! (Okay, so I have to be honest here. Not one person in my family will eat sour cream, including me. But theoretically it should be good on this recipe, right?)
Saturday, 28 July 2007
My passion for cooking started many, many years ago. My Mom, typical of the Irish, was a terrible cook. My Dad wanted at least one decent meal a week, so every Sunday he took the responsibility to prepare a family feast. I was always "Daddy's little girl", so I helped out in the kitchen (at least it felt like I was helping). Even now, some of my most cherished memories are of my Dad and I spending Sundays in the kitchen cooking together.
Once I got married, I began to cook in earnest. Finally...a taste tester! Then came the kids -- three to be exact. My Dad passed on around this time and my Mom moved in with us. So there I was every day cooking meals for six people. Oh...we were the ones with the big house, built-in pool and lots of land, so every weekend I was running around entertaining anywhere from 10 to20 people. All holidays were at my house as well, and it was not uncommon for me to be cooking Christmas dinner for 20 to 25 people. I loved it!
Now I'm divorced, my Mom has passed on as well, and my son has a girlfriend so he's hardly ever home. My middle child goes to college in another state, and although my oldest just graduated from college and moved home, she's out looking for a job and apartment so she won't be here long. Time to start a Blog!