Posts from the ‘Sauces’ Category

Mushroom Ravioli with Crispy Sage Brown Butter Cream Sauce

Got this recipe from Epicurious.com to try and find some inspiration for a ravioli dish. I came across this one and saw some things that I wanted to tweak to make this more of a complete dish in my mind. One of which was frying the sage for a little color and texture to top the ravioli’s before serving (besides the fact that fried sage tastes amazing). I also added garlic because the fact that the recipe was absent of such an ingredient made me and little mad, for I am also a garlic freak (if you haven’t noticed). Find a place that packages freshly made ravioli because there really is nothing like fresh pasta. That’s pretty much it, the sauce comes together in like 10 minutes and the ravioli cooks until it floats then add it to the sauce and you’re done. Maybe takes 30 minutes total, including prep time. It’s kind of like a Rachel Ray recipe minus the 20 unnecessary ingredients you’ll find in her recipes, the stupid names and having to listen to her ridiculously annoying stories. And I’ll go out on a limb and say its just as good as recipe you’d make of hers and its about twice as easy to put together.

This is stupid easy. It’s so delicious. It’s super fast to prepare. Don’t be a coconut…make this now!

Ingredients:


16 Fresh Mushroom & Cheese Ravioli (Honestly I don’t know how many pounds of dried, I’m guessing like 1 or 2 packages but just go out and find a place the makes fresh pasta and packages it…don’t you want to eat only the best?)

1 Bunch of Fresh Sage, Half Chopped, Half Left Whole

1 Handful of Pecans

1-2 Shallots, Chopped

1 Garlic Clove, Chopped

1 1/2 Cups of Good White Wine

1 (Approx.) Cup of Cream

2 Tablespoons of Butter

Parmesan Cheese

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Take your shallots and cut off the tops, slice them in half or separate the two bulbs (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever used a shallot before, sometimes they come like a mini onion, sometimes they come like two mini onions hugging each other). To make a fine dice, make several horizontal cuts across the shallot followed by several vertical cuts across the shallot. Then just dice away…click the images below to get the idea!

Use the same technique to cut the garlic as you did the shallot. Or you could just SMASH the garlic and run your knife through it. The reason I cut it the way I did below is to practice knife skills. Do what ever you feel comfortable doing, but don’t you want slamming knife skills? I do!

Roughly chop the pecans.

…same with the sage…

Bring a pot of salty water to a boil. The fresh ravioli’s are going to cook for about 3-4 minutes or until they start to float so your going to want to time things perfectly. Once the water is boiling, start your sauce by heating a pan to medium high heat and melt the butter. Once hot, throw in your pecans and the whole sage leaves (NOT the chopped sage). This is merely to toast the pecans and to fry up the sage so its a nice and crispy and crunchy topping to finish your plate with. After about 5-8 minutes or once the sage leaves are starting to crisp up (don’t wait till they are crispy, they keep cooking once you take them out so make sure not to burn them) and transfer them to a plate.

Return the pan to the heat and add the garlic, shallots and chopped sage and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Then add the wine, reduce for a minute or two, then add the cream. Increase the heat a little bit and boil the sauce till it reduces, around 5-6 minutes (just enough time to cook the ravioli).

Once you turn up the heat to reduce the sauce, drop the ravioli in the boiling salted water. Cook those for about 4-5 minutes, or until they start to float. Then strain and add to the sauce.

Let the raviolis cook in the sauce for a minute or two so the raviolis start to absorb it. When they are done, plate up the ravs, spoons some of the banging sauce all over it, top it with the pecans and sage, sprinkle parmesan cheese all over and drizzle a tiny bit of extra-virgin olive oil to finish it off reallll nice!

Now all you gotta do is like, eat it, ya know, I mean, c’mon. Is it easy? Yes. Does it look good? Yes. Does it taste good? Yes. Are you going to make this tonight? Yes. Are you going to take a picture of it and send it to me to show off how great a cook you are? YESS!!!! OHH great, I’m so happy, you guys are truly the best!

In all seriousness, please, if you ever make a recipe of mine, take a picture of it and email (scusato@gmail.com) it or twitpic it to me. I want to see what you’ve created and then show it off to everyone who listens to me. And of course, by all mean, if you want to tweak the recipe, DO IT, I love that even more then you following recipes word for word. I don’t do that so I really can’t expect you to either. Be creative and daring and you will bang food out in the kitchen everyday!

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce/Grilled Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus/Perfect Garlic Basmati Rice

I love to grill. I love that its just hot grates over a scorching flame that you throw food on, stand around with a drink and make sure shit doesn’t blow up or set fire…more or less. Of course there are nuances that distinguish good grillers from bad grillers but its nothing that a little practice can’t fix. A few things you’ll learn from some time in front of the flame is that all grills aren’t created equal and that getting to know your grill, its hot spots and how well it cooks food can really improve the outcome of what your grilling significantly. You also want to generally not fuss with whatever your grilling, you want those nice marks so just leave alone and let it happen. For the most part, grilling is all about prep, getting everything ready to just go outside and slap it on the grill. In this recipe, I’m using an electric grill…its really the only option I have. I also use a trick I picked up to make sure your rice comes out perfect every time. Its just a solid meal that I love to eat.

This probably serves about 4 people but I’ll make it for two, get some heroes and make a ridiculous Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich to have for lunch the next day…but I’ll shoot that recipe another time.

Marinade Ingredients:

About a 1 1/2 Lb Flank Steak, Preferably No Antibiotics or Growth Hormones and Grass-fed

4-5 Limes

2 Scallions, Chopped

3 Garlic Cloves, Grated

A knob of Ginger, Grated

2-3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce

A Heaping Pinch of Red Pepper Flake

Salt & Pepper

Oil for the Grates

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To make your marinade, combine the lemon juice, the grated ginger and garlic, the scallions, the soy sauce, the red pepper flake and salt and pepper. If you want to add a little sweetness, like I did after the picture above was taken, you can add a little honey or agave nectar if you’ve got it on hand. Either put the steak on a large freezer zip-lock bag or a tupperware container and season the steak generously with salt and pepper. Add the marinade and make sure the whole steak is gets some marination love. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

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Chimichurri Sauce:

Chimichurri is a tangy green sauce from Argentina. Its basically just some herbs, garlic, vinegar and oil. Its real good!

Ingredients:

A Big Handful of Flat-Leaf Parsley

A Small Handful of Cilantro

2-3 Tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar

3 Garlic Cloves

Pinch of Red Pepper Flake

About a 1/2 cup of Olive Oil

Salt

A Blender

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Chop the the herbs and the garlic. If you have a good blender, you wont need to chop it but since mine is a little whimp, I chop to give it a little head start…

Toss into the blender with red pepper flake, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and zap it up nice! Throw it in the fridge until your ready to plate.

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Grilled Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus:

2 ingredient…that all. If you don’t like asparagus, you probably had it the wrong way. You don’t need salt or pepper or oil or lemon in this recipe. The fat and the saltiness from the pancetta is all the flavor you need and the grill kinda caramelizes the asparagus, its amazing, just do it!

Ingredients:

1 Bunch of Fresh Asparagus. Avoid the limp asparagus when shopping, limp is not good 😉

1/4 Lb of Paper Thin Pancetta

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Cut off the wooden ends of the asparagus. Some people say to shave the outside of the asparagus but what a pain in the ass that is, plus I don’t see the need. Wrap the asparagus with the pancetta and throw it in the fridge until your grill heats up and you’ve started on the rice.

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Perfect Garlic Basmati Rice:

When I say perfect, I’m not trying to brag, there’s merely an easy system to make sure your rice comes out perfect every time. I picked up this little trick for perfect rice but I still cannot believe anyone actually figured this thing out. I was watching Everday Exotic on the Cooking Channel and the host, Roger Mooking or something, made perfect rice without having to measure it out. I included measurements just in case this scares you but I promise, it works.

Ingredients:

1 cup of Basmati Rice

2 Cups of Vegetable Stock

4-5 Garlic Cloves, Thinly Sliced (You don’t have to use that much if you don’t like too much but I love garlic, big time)

A Knob of Butter

A Few Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Salt

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Halve lengthwise then slice the garlic. Heat a small pot over medium-high heat and add the butter (flavor) and olive oil (to make sure the butter doesn’t burn). When its hot, add the garlic and cook until it just begins to brown, probably about 3-5 minutes, but make sure not to burn the garlic…use your judgment.  Add the rice, a pinch of salt and a little bit more olive oil if the pot looks a little dry. Stir the rice to cover in oil and toast for about 1-2 minutes again making sure not to burn anything (I’ve done before, its a waste).

When the rice starts to smell nutty, its time to add the stock. Here is where the crazy shit goes down. Add the stock but the amazing trick here is to stick your middle finger into the stock and just touch the top of the rice (not the bottom of the pan)…you’ll know you have enough when the stock just reaches the first joint a the top of your middle finger. Bring it to the boil, drop the heat to low and put a lid on. Cook for 15 minutes and your rice is fragrant and perfect, every time.

(get the dirty thoughts out of your head)

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By now your grill should already be preheated on high so its nice and hot…my faux indoor grill heats up fast so I can wait to turn it on and avoid increasing the temperature in the apartment any more than it has to (I mean its only the hottest summer EVER!).

Take the meat out of the marinade and dab it with a paper towel to dry it off…let it sit for 15-30 minutes (whenever you cook meat, you always want it come to room temperature before you cook it and ALWAYS let it rest after you cook it before cutting into it. This lets the juices redistribute and it also continues to cook a little bit more). Put the steak on the grill on an diagonal and cook for 2 1/2 minutes…then turn it 90 degrees and cook for another 2 1/2 minutes. After about 5-6 minutes cooking on that side, flip it over and repeat the same steps on the other side. After the last turn of the steak, you can start throwing on the asparagus. After 10-12 minutes, your steak should be a little under medium rare but when you take it off to rest, the residual heat will cook the steak to medium rare. Finish grilling the asparagus, basically, they are done when the look done…again, use your judgment.

When the steak is done resting, slice it on the bias (or really thin slices on an angel against the gain…this will make it extra tender and tender is good).

To plate, just make a pile of the rice and lay the asparagus next to it. Lay a few slices of the meat out and then spoon the chimichurri sauce over the steak and digg in.

What do you think?

Toasted Gnocchi & Mozzarella/Rainbow Chard/Cannellini Bean/Tomato Sauce

Maybe one of my favorite pasta dishes. Its got everything, nutrition from the rainbow chard, protein from the beans, cheesiness from the mozzarella, deliciousness from a good homemade tomato sauce. Best of all, you don’t have to get out a big pot of boiling water to cook the gnocchi. Toasting them gives them a good flavor and makes your life easier. If this shot below doesn’t make you want this, you may have problems!

Ingredients:

1 Package of Shelf Stable Gnocchi

2 Cups of Tomato Sauce (Please don’t use jarred tomato sauce, its too easy to make, see previous post)

1 Can of Cannellini Beans (White Kidney Beans)

1 Bunch of Rainbow or Swiss Chard, Washed and Chopped

1 Cup of Good White Wine, Approx.

1 Onion, Thinly Sliced

5-6 Cloves of Garlic, Halved and Thinly Sliced

1 Ball of Fresh Mozzarella

Olive Oil (and Truffle Oil if you’ve got it, I do)

Salt & Pepper

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As always, get your stuff together. Halve and thinly slice the garlic and the onions.

Trim off the rough ends and rinse the chard and pull the leafy green parts from the stem, reserving the stems for sauteing. Although I have no picture to illustrate it, you should roughly chop the chard, my bad. Then stack up all the steams and  finely chop then add it to a bowl with the onions and garlic.

Drain and rinse your beans.

You’re all set…get cooking…heat a big skillet on medium-high heat. You want to make sure you pan is hot enough or when you add the gnocchi to toast, it will stick and not be good…so be sure its hot enough and then add the gnocchi. Once it starts to get some color and looks toasted, transfer to a plate.

Lower the heat to medium and add another lug of oil. Add the onions, garlic and chard and season with salt and pepper. Once those get soft, deglaze the pan with the white wine (by deglaze, I mean using a liquid to grab all the little bits stuck to the bottle of the pan, that is pure flavor).

Cook the wine for about 2 minutes then add the chard, season with more salt and pepper and put a lid on it. Cook it for about 5 minutes until its wilted down and mixed into the onions, garlic and chard.

Turn on the broiler in your oven and add the tomato sauce, the beans and the gnocchi, mix together and taste it to check for seasoning.

Slice up some mozzarella then place it on top of the gnocchi mixture, you can also add Parmesan cheese if you have it, but I forgot it here. Once your broiler is blazing, throw it in the oven and let that mozzarella toast until it has nice color.

To plate this, spoon some out into a bowl and drizzle a little bit of truffle oil, not too much. If you have none, you can use olive oil.

It’s just too easy to put together for you to not try this dish. DO IT, you are only depriving yourself if you don’t. Let me know how it went, what you think and what you might do different (scusato@gmail.com).

The Best Damn Tomato Sauce

I mean, I know there is better tomato sauce, but if I had a garden of fresh tomatoes it might be.  All my life I had this really particular idea of what I though was perfect tomato sauce. I usually don’t ever order pasta with a tomato sauce anywhere because I don’t trust that its my kind of sauce. Like everything else, it all starts with quality ingredients, especially the best tomatoes you can find. To me there is no substitute for San Marzano whole canned tomatoes. They are the sweetest and most delicious ones you’ll find (unless you have  a garden of fresh tomatoes). I buy two cans so I can make extra to freeze and use for any number of things in the future. I like mine smooth with no big chunks of anything which means a blender is somewhere in the equation.  The color is important too. I don’t want my sauce to dark, I prefer a lighter color. To me, the only way you can really determine if you have a great sauce is whether or not you could literally drink it all by itself…and I guess if you could eat an entire loaf of bread with it. For me, this sauce right here is everything I want in a basic tomato sauce…the texture is there, the color is there…and you can drink it like wine.

Ingredients:

2 28 oz. Cans of Whole San Marzano Tomatoes

2 Small Fresh Onions (1 large onion), Roughly Chopped

2 Medium Sized Fresh Carrots (1 large carrot), Roughly Chopped

6-7 Garlic Cloves, Roughly Chopped

3-4 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste

1 Cup of White Wine, Approx. (One that you want to drink)

Pinch of Red Pepper Flake

6-7 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

6-7 Basil Leaves, Thinly Slice (aka chiffonade)

Salt

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Roughly Chop the garlic, onions and carrots.

Heat a decent sized pot over medium-high heat and when hot add the olive oil, the garlic, the onions and the carrots.

Add the red pepper flake.

Add a good amount of salt. Don’t be afraid, the tomatoes need it.

Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook for a few minutes.

Add the wine and let it reduce for a couple minutes.

Add the tomato juices and use your wooden spoon to hold back the whole tomatoes. You can use the spoon like I do, but your hands are really the best tool for crushing the whole tomatoes. They don’t have to be fully broken down because later your gonna blend it to make it smooth.

Cook at at a light simmer for at least an hour, though the longer you cook it, the better it gets. After its done cooking, get your hand blender ready. If you have a blender, use that. If you don’t have anything like that, then seriously go out and buy a hand blender like the one below. They aren’t that expensive and you can use it on so many amazing things without having to store some big ass blender.

Taste it to see if it needs any salt. Always be tasting your food while your making it. You can’t make things taste better after you’ve plated it. If you keep tasting you can always be adjusting and tweaking to get it to where you want to be, even if you are following a recipe. It should taste amazing right now so finish it up by adding some thinly sliced (chiffonade) basil.

Now you can either use it for some pasta or chicken parm now or you could put it in a container for later. It will last a week in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer. I’m saving it for my next post…Toasted Gnocchi with Swiss Chard, Cannellini Beans with Melted Mozzarella…coming soon!