Roasted Poblano Pasta

Roasted Poblano Pasta

This recipe is adapted from Gretchen McKay | The Seattle Times.  She calls Roasted Poblano Pasta a “an Italian-meets-Mexican fusion dish,” and I agree. 
Roasted Poblano Pasta
Ingredients:
  • 5 poblano peppers
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
  • 12 ounces fettuccine pasta
  • ½ cup packed parsley
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • Pinch or two crushed red pepper flakes optional
Char poblano peppers on all sides over a gas flame until skin is blistered evenly all around. (If you don’t have a gas stove, char them under the broiler.) Once all of the peppers are roasted, place in plastic bag and let them sit for 5 minutes. This helps loosen the skin to make them easier to peel. When they’re cool to touch, rub the charred skin off with the back side of a knife blade. Remove stem and seeds.

Roasted Poblano Pasta

Roasted Poblano PastaWhile the peppers are sweating, bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until just shy of al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving about ½ to 1 cup of the starchy pasta water. Set aside.
While pasta is cooking, add 3 peppers, parsley, cumin, garlic, chicken stock and ½ cup heavy cream to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Slice 2 remaining peppers into thin strips.
Once drained, add the poblano cream sauce to the pasta, along with the remaining heavy cream, minced garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and red pepper flakes. Sometimes poblanos can be very hot, so taste before adding any more pepper. Taste and add more salt or cumin, if desired. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until slightly thickened and the pasta absorbs some sauce, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the sliced peppers and cook until pasta has absorbed sauce. Stir to combine and give one final taste to see if you need more salt and/or pepper.Roasted Poblano Pasta

 

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Chicken with Apricots and Carrots

Chicken with Apricots and Carrots

Chicken with Apricots and Carrot is an interesting recipe from Eric Kin in the New York Times. You’ll notice it’s made without any additional cooking oil. The mayo in the marinade supplies enough oil. In place of the paprika you can use chili powder.
Chicken with Apricots and Carrot
Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup apricot preserves
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp mild paprika
  • Salt and black pepper
  • ½ cup dried apricots (about 3½ ounces)
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs and legs
  • 3 to 4 medium carrots, thinly sliced into coins (about 1 pound)
  • Parsley for topping
In a bowl large enough to hold the chicken, whisk together the apricot preserves, mayonnaise, lemon juice, fish sauce, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper until smooth. Tear each dried apricot in half at its seams, so each apricot becomes 2 flatter pieces. Add the apricots and chicken to the bowl; toss to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.Chicken with Apricots and Carrot

Heat the oven to 425o with a rack set in the center position. Line a sheet pan with parchment.

Chicken with Apricots and CarrotAdd the carrots to the chicken mixture and toss to evenly coat. Spread the chicken and carrot mixture in a single layer on the sheet pan. Roast, rotating the pan halfway through, until the chicken is light brown, and the carrots begin to shrivel, 20 to 25 minutes. Top with fresh herbs and serve with rice.Chicken with Apricots and Carrot

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Pasta with Eggplant and Breadcrumbs

Pasta with Eggplant and Breadcrumbs

Here’s another recipe adapted from Melissa Clark at the New York Times, Pasta with Eggplant and Breadcrumbs. She never lets me down. I used Progresso Plain Breadcrumbs for this dish and Melissa made her own. Make them is you have time.
Ingredients:
  • 2 large eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
  • Salt, black, and red pepper
  • ½ pound short pasta, such as shells or orecchiette
  • ½ cup olive oil plus as much as needed to fry the eggplant, plus more for drizzling
  • 12 anchovies, coarsely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, 3 grated or finely minced, 5 thinly sliced
  • 1 cup plain Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 cup torn parsley
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Pasta with Eggplant and Breadcrumbs

Place the cut eggplant on some paper towels and sprinkle all over with salt. Wait 15 minutes and blot the moisture.
Start a pot of salted water for the pasta.
Heat ¼ cup of oil in a large pan. Add about a quarter of the chopped anchovies and all of the grated garlic. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Stir in breadcrumbs and sauté until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with black pepper and salt. Scrape into a small bowl and set aside.
Wipe out skillet and add ¼ cup olive oil and put it back over medium-high heat until oil thins out in the pan. Add enough eggplant to fit in one layer without overlapping. Without moving them around too much, cook eggplant until brown on one side, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir and let them cook on the other side until browned and thoroughly soft, 3 to 7 minutes more. Use a slotted spoon to transfer eggplant to a large bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant, adding more oil to the pan as needed.Pasta with Eggplant and Breadcrumbs
Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and stir in remaining anchovies, the sliced garlic and red-pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat and don’t let the garlic turn brown.
Stir in tomatoes and capers. Cook until tomatoes just begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggplant, pasta and ¼ cup pasta water. Toss well, adding more pasta water if it looks dry.
Stir in the parsley. Squeeze half a lemon all over the pasta and toss. Taste and add more red-pepper flakes, salt or lemon juice to taste. Generously sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of pasta and serve.

Pasta with Eggplant and Breadcrumbs

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Cubanelles

Cubanelles

Generally known as Cubanelles, some people refer to them Italian green peppers and my mother called them “frying peppers.” They’re easy to prepare and are good as a side dish, with fried eggs, and cold or room temperature in an antipasto or in a sandwich.

Cut the stem end off the peppers and remove the core and seeds. Slice them in half or quarters lengthwise.
Heat the oil and add the two crushed garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the garlic starts to brown.
Discard the garlic and place the sliced peppers in the pan. Weigh them down to flatten them. You can use a dish and tomato can (or whatever weight you like) and fry for a few minutes on each side.
When they’re done, place them in a container layered with the sliced garlic clove. Add a little extra oil if it’s to dry.  It’s good to let them marinate in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

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Roasted Marrow Bone

Roasted Marrow Bone

Roasted Marrow BoneThis is a one ingredient recipe. You put the beef bone in the oven, heat and eat. The femur is the largest bone in the steer, and it has the best marrow to bone ratio. My butcher ties a few sprigs of fresh oregano on the bone to make a better presentation in his display case. Even salt and pepper aren’t really necessary, but it can’t hurt.
Roasted Marrow BoneSince marrow is mostly fat use a high heat for a short time, so it doesn’t all melt away. Place the bones in an oven proof dry pan in a 450-degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve with good bread. If you love steak, you’ll love a roasted marrow bone.Roasted Marrow Bone
 

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Grilled Eggplant

Grilled Eggplant

I know people who said they didn’t like eggplant until they tried it done like this. Grilled eggplant can be served room temperature or chilled as a part of an antipasto, side dish or on a sandwich.

Grilled Eggplant

Ingredients:
  • 2 medium to large eggplants
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt, black, and red pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
Trim the stem ends off the eggplants and slice lengthwise, about ¼-inch thick. Grilled EggplantLay the eggplant slices on paper towels and sprinkle salt on both sides. Wait 15 minutes and blot up moisture.

Prepare the marinade:

Grilled Eggplant

Grilled Eggplant
Heat the oil in a small pan, add salt, black and red pepper and lightly sauté the chopped garlic. Add the herbs, lemon zest/juice, and the garlic/oil mixture to a blender, food processor or if you need the exercise use a mortar and pestle.
Grilled Eggplant

While you heat your grill (charcoal, gas, or a grill pan), use a brush to lightly coat each eggplant slice with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place the eggplant slices on the grill oil side down and add oil, salt, and pepper to the top side of the eggplant. After you get nice grill marks on one side, turn and grill the other side. They cook fast so watch them.Grilled Eggplant

Prepare a large serving platter with some of the marinade on the bottom. Layer the eggplant slices as they are done and spoon some of the marinade on each layer. Leave them for an hour at room temperature to marinate, then cover and refrigerate.

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Peri Peri Chicken

Peri Peri Chicken

The story I heard is that the Portuguese first created peri peri chicken in Mozambique, and it later became a South African staple. The name “peri-peri” is derived from Swahili. ‘Piri-piri’ means “pepper-pepper.” You can make peri peri sauce as described below and use it on any number of dishes – grilled shrimp, rotisserie chicken, pork chops, etc. You can also make it as hot as you’d like, just add more chilis to the mix.

Peri Peri ChickenPeri Peri Chicken
First, butterfly the chicken. Season it with salt and ½ of the paprika.
Peri Peri ChickenThe Marinade/Sauce – Roughly chop the shallots, garlic, chili, thyme, and roasted pepper. Place them and the oregano, the remaining paprika, salt, black pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil in a food processor or blender.  Process until it’s a smooth consistency. You should have about 2 cups.
Peri Peri ChickenPlace the chicken and ½ of the marinade in a plastic bag and coat well. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 3 hours.
Scrape away some of the thicker marinade and place it in a pot with the unused marinade.

Get 2 heavy pans – one to cook the chicken in and the other to weigh it down. Cover the bottom of the weight pan in foil. Place the weight pan in the over at 400o for 10 minutes. Heat the cooking pan on a medium high stove burner and pace the chicken in it skin side down. Put the pr-heated weight pan on top of it and press it down using a potholder or a towel. The chicken is now starting to cook from below and above.
Peri Peri ChickenTurn the heat to low and check after 5 minutes. The skin side should be dark but not black.

After about another 10 – 12 minutes place the cooking pan with the weight in the 400o oven for 20 minutes. Then remove the weight and turn the chicken skin side up and baste with the pan drippings. Continue cooking, skin side up for 15 – 20 minutes, basting once more.
Peri Peri ChickenAdd the pan drippings and 2 pats of butter to the marinade. Heat and stir for a few minutes. Brush some on the chicken and put it back in the oven for 5 minutes to crisp the skin.
Remove from the oven and let it rest 20 minutes. Serve with the sauce on the side.

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Pasta al Pomodoro Light

Pasta al Pomodoro Light

Pasta al Pomodoro Light is adapted from an Eric Kim’s recipe in the New York Times. This sauce is delicate and subtle. Its appearance is very plain although very tasty. You can dress it up with a sprinkle of parsley and some grated Parmigiana cheese if you’d like.

Pasta al Pomodoro Light

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 lbs. plumb tomatoes roughly chopped
  • Salt and black pepper.
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
Lightly sauté the sliced garlic for 5 minutes in a large pot. Don’t brown it. Add the tomatoes and raise the heat to medium high. Stir until the tomatoes start to release their liquid and season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.Pasta al Pomodoro Light

Put the cooked tomatoes a few spoons at a time into a sieve over a bowl. Force them through with the back of a wooden spoon. You should have about 2 plus cups of sauce. Discard the tomato skins, seeds, and garlic. Pasta al Pomodoro Light

Pasta al Pomodoro Light


Leave whatever liquid is left in the pot and add enough salted water to cook the pasta. Pasta al Pomodoro Light
When the pasta is almost done drain the water and add the tomato sauce. Cook for another few minutes, tossing until the pasta has absorbed some of the sauce. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes to absorb more sauce.
Serve with parsley and grated Parmigiana.

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Fried Chicken Breasts

Fried Chicken Breasts

I adapted this recipe from The Cooking Foodie.  It’s a new way to make fried chicken breasts and it’s quick, easy, and tasty.

Fried Chicken Breasts

Ingredients:
  • 3 medium or 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 tbsp. butter divided
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce

Fried Chicken Breasts

Allow the chicken to come to room temperature.   Score the breasts with a sharp knife (an at least 1/2-inch-deep crosshatch), season with salt and pepper, and lightly dredge in flour. Heat 3 tbsp. butter in a large frying pan and cook both sides of the breasts for 4 or 5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the breasts, until lightly browned.
Fried Chicken Breasts
Remove the breasts to a plate and add the chopped garlic to the pan. Sauté for one minute and then add the honey, vinegar, and soy sauce. Stir and then return the breasts to the pan and cook on each side for another 5 minutes or until done.

Fried Chicken Breasts

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Sloppy Joe’s Sandwich

Sloppy Joe’s Sandwich

After my post about Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Havana I started wondering if there was any connection between the bar and the Sloppy Joe’s sandwich. I was told that the American Sloppy Joe’s sandwich is an off shoot of the Ropa Vieja (old clothes), served in Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Havana, Cuba. A friend got this Sloppy Joe’s sandwich recipe from a waiter at a restaurant in Key West, Florida. It works for me.

Sloppy Joe’s Sandwich
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup onion
  • ½ cup green bell pepper
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • Black pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup Heinz Chili Sauce or ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. brown mustard
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 6 hamburger buns
Roughly chop the onion and green pepper finely or place them in a food processor until well diced. Put the oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Fry the onion and green pepper until some of the moisture evaporates.

Sloppy Joe’s Sandwich

Add the chopped beef, Worcestershire Sauce, salt and pepper. Break up the beef with a spoon as it browns. When the meat is browned, drain the excess grease from the pan.

Set the pan aside and combine the crushed tomato, mustard, brown sugar, and spices in a bowl. Mix well.
Pour the sauce into the pan with the meat and raise the heat to medium-high. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.Sloppy Joe’s Sandwich
When it’s done, serve it on a hamburger bun.

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