Coq Au Vin

Lets be honest and say that I mainly started cooking for one reason and one reason only. The Ladies love it! Thats right ladies. I like dinner by candle light and long romantic walks to the fridge!

For some of you gentlemen out there, Valentines day is fast approaching and if im a betting man, which I am…You have already made reservations at your favorite restaurant and have ordered the roses. Let me tell you something, that is the most boring thing I have ever heard in my life. There is nothing that makes your girl feel more special than by doing the same thing that every other couple in America does. Turn those berries you have between your legs into grapefruits and make your lady a romantic dinner. Don’t be scared to pull out all the stops either!

All thank you’s can be sent to my email!

Enough talk let’s get into some food.

Tonight I made a very classic dish called Coq Au Vin. It is a french dish that dates back way before you and I were roaming this earth. Coq Au Vin loosely translates to english to mean “rooster in wine.” It was traditionally made with poultry and braised or cooked in the wine from the region from where the chef derived. (typically Burgundy region of France)

Coq au vin

Cook time: ~ 1 hour 10 minutes

Serving size: 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken thighs and legs
  • 6 bacon slices (coarsely chopped)
  • 4 tbsp Parsley (chopped)
  • 8 oz. Crimini mushrooms (halved)
  • 2 large carrots (chopped)
  • 6 shallots (halved)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 cup dry red wine (Syrah, Bordeaux, Tuscan)
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce (not necessary)
  • 4 teaspoons flour
  • Salt and Pepper

Firsts start by Preheating your oven to 400 degrees

Sautee bacon in a large nonstick pan over medium/high heat till crispy and remove with a slotted spoon and keep till later. Season your chicken with salt, pepper and 1 tbsp of parsley and add directly to the bacon drippings. sautee untill cooked through, about 8 minutes on each side. Transfer to baking dish and finish cooking in oven until sauce is complete. (save pan with grease and chicken drippings)

coq au vin

On medium heat in the same pan, add the mushrooms, shallots, garlic and carrots. season with salt and pepper and sautee untill brown, about 4 minutes. turn to high heat and add your bacon, wine and broth and another tbsp of parsley. (add the bbq sauce for a little smokeyness if you would like)

Bring to a boil then let boil on high heat for 8-10 minutes (stir ever 2 minutes). When the red wine has been reduced out add your flour and stir well. cook for another couple of minutes while the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven and add it back into the pan along with the juice from the baking dish. Mix together and serve in a large bowl!

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and as always,

Buon Appetito America!

JCL

Chicken Curry With Vegetables

Food is a funny thing. As much as I love Italian cuisine, the flavors of both Thai and Vietnamese cooking continues to captivate the senses. Thai food in particular is a cuisine that plays to its strengths by giving you a little salty, sweet, savory, spicy and umami. Now don’t get me wrong. I need my spaghetti alla carbonara at least once a week but that does not mean that I don’t crave some of that delicious Tom yum goong or Pad kaprow!

Thai cuisine is very well know for its curries and lucky for you I made a great one the other night. Not only is the flavor profile of this dish phenomenal but it also can be used to clean the fridge of any vegetables you may want to use.

Pollo al Curry con Verdure (Chicken Curry With Vegetables)

Cook time: ~ 1 hour 30 minutes

Serving size: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/2 Onion (chopped)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tbsp curry paste
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp siracha
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts (sliced in 1″ pieces)
  • 1 small floret Broccoli (chopped)
  • 1 small floret cauliflower (chopped)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 carrot (chopped)

*I prepared over Farfalle pasta but many would use a long grain rice or Couscous

First and most importantly I would get all your ingredients chopped and prepared before turning on the stove.

Over medium heat in a large pan combine the oil, onion, ginger, garlic, curry paste, brown sugar and sautee until the onions have turned translucent and smell sweet. (about 5 minutes)

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Add the chicken till it is almost cooked and remove with slotted spoon and set aside. (about 5-7 minutes)

Add 1 cup of water along with the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Loosely cover pan and cook for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add water as needed to maintain a saucy consistency.

Add the chicken and tomatoes cook for 5 more minutes

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Serve over your choice of starch

and as always,

Buon Appetito America!

JCL

*If you’re wondering I would go Riesling or light Pinot noir

Neapolitan-Style Shellfish

The other day I was out with a beautiful young lady who preceded to ask me a question to which I could not answer. She turned to me and said “what is the greatest dish that you had ever had.” I would like to think my silence was partially because I was distracted by her but in all honesty I did not know. Then it hit me. While I was in Naples I came across the most simple, delicious yet elegant dish I had ever had. 

When I got back to the states I had tried to duplicate it to the best of my ability, yet I always fell a bit short. The dish was always great but it wasnt Naples great. After tampering with the ingredients a bit, I think ive got it!

Without further ado I give to you:

Cozze e’ Vongole alla Napoletana (Neapolitan-style shellfish)

Cook time: ~ 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 5 1/2 lb mixed clams and mussels
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Bermuda onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
  • 1 leek (cut into rings)
  • 1 lb of tomatoes (coarsely chopped)
  • 4 cups dry white wine
  • ~ 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

The first step is a little trick that I learned. Instead of rinsing your shellfish place them in a pot of cold water that has a cup of corn meal in it for about 30-45 minutes. The cornmeal will slightly be absorbed into the shellfish helping expel all the sand that is inside.

While they are draining start de-bearding your mussels. The “beard” is the course like thread that mussels use to attach themselves to rocks and piers.  You may use your fingers or a knife to help grasp the beard and pull it quickly toward the hinge of the shell. The beard rips out of the mussel and should be discarded.How-To-Clean-and-Debeard-Mussels

Next, scrub the surface of your shellfish to remove any sand and corn meal residue.

Over medium-hi heat, heat the olive oil in a large pot and begin to saute’ the garlic, onions and leeks. When the onions have become translucent begin to stir int he tomatoes and season with salt and pepper and cook briefly. (about 4 minutes)

Next, add the shellfish , cover the pot and cook for another 4 minutes. Be sure to shake the pot several times while they are cooking.

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pour in the wine, blend in the parsley and then cover the pot cooking for another 10 minutes on medium heat. When finished be sure to discard any of the mussels or clams that did not open and serve in a bowl with the broth you have created.

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All I have left to say is make sure that there is bread for dipping

and as always,

Buon Appetito America!

JCL

Parmesan and Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that is overlooked in many everyday households. Not only is this recipe very easy but also very healthy! Cauliflower itself is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is also a great source of protein and can be used in a great diet for weight loss! The next time you open your pantries throw away all those EasyMac’s and lunchables and make room for the stuff that can not only benefit you but also taste great.

This recipe makes the perfect side dish to elevate any main entrée. However, don’t be surprised if you find yourself eating all the Cauliflower instead! 🙂

Parmigiano e aglio cavolfiore (Parmesan and Garlic Roasted Cauliflower)

Cook time: ~ 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of Cauliflower
  • 6 cloves garlic(minced)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large Ziploc resealable bag
  • 1 large baking sheet

First start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees F

Start your Mise-en-place (prep) by cutting the green cabbage like stem off the cauliflower and break the large head into small fleurettes

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Put the cauliflower aside and mince all of your garlic. In the large resealable bag add the cauliflower first, then the oil and lastly the garlic. Seal the bag and give it a good shake so the cauliflower is equally coated by your mixture.

drizzle some oil on the baking sheet first and then place your cauliflower in the pan so the “tree-like” bush is sticking upwards. Season with the salt and pepper (if you want a little extra flavor try truffle salt).

place the cauliflower in the oven for 25 minutes. Stir halfway through the cooking time. With 5 minutes remaining take out and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese lightly over the contents of the pan. Bake for 5 more minutes until golden brown.

Remove contents from oven and give a second sprinkle of the parmesan and serve!

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You say “cauliflower, YUK!” I say “just give it a try”

and as always,

Buon Appetito America!

JCL

 

Also if you really like cauliflower see:

Farfalle pasta with cauliflower! (https://peacelovepasta.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/recipe-entry-2/)

Seafood Risotto

You say rice, I say Risotto”

Alright people listen up! ask not what your country can do for you. Ask whats for dinner instead! In college I had one roommate in particular who always was telling me that a good seafood risotto was one of his favorite dishes. unfortunately for us, all we ever had lying around the house where Ramen Noodles, some bread and a couple of cases of beer. The great thing about risotto is that once you get the fundamental recipe down you can enhance it with different seafood and vegetables. 

Risotto is best when made with an Arborio style rice:

Arborio Rice is a short grain rice with a pearly white color. It is most commonly used because of its higher level of starch content. This when cooked allows the rice to become more creamy and chewy which aids in helping it blend with other flavors. Arborio rice is cultivated in italy and some parts of the United States making it the most common used rice in dishes like risotto and rice pudding.

Without further ado I give to you:

Risotto con Gamberi (Shrimp Risotto)

Cook time: ~ 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Raw shrimp
  • 2 onions (chopped)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic(diced)
  • 1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Butter
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Fresh Lemon
  • ~ 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Salt and Pepper

Cooking the Shrimp: Lets start by getting the shrimp going. Bring about 5 cups of lightly salted water to a boil. With shells still on add shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes till they turn from there raw grey color to a nice pink (save stock water). Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and put in an ice bath. remove shells from shrimp and place the shells back into the cooking water with the chopped onion. cover the pot and let simmer for about 30 min. After the time is up strain the cooking stock so it just leaves you with the liquid.

While your stock is prepping you can de-vein your shrimp:

run a knife 1/4 inch deep along the outer edge of the shrimp. Remove the black thread like vein with your finger or knife. This part holds a lot of the shrimps waste which is why we remove it if we can. If you cant see it then don’t bother.

Cooking the Risotto: In a pan heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and sautee the garlic and the other one of your onions. Add the rice and stir with a spoon till the rice has been coated by the oil.

 

 

 

 

Pour in the wine and let it reduce on a medium heat. We deglaze the pan with a little white wine because the acidity helps prevent the starch in the rice from disintegrating too quickly

After the alcohol has been reduced add 1/3 of the shrimp stock and stir continuously. stir until the rice has absorbed the stock and add another 1/3. do this step until all the stock has been added and absorbed by the rice. switch to a low heat and continue to cook the risotto. When done stir in a tbsp of butter and some grated parmesan cheese. season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lastly squeeze in lemon juice from 1/2 of a lemon with the last tbsp of olive oil, parsley and of course the shrimp. stir until shrimp are warm and serve!

 

There you have it! a shrimp risotto that would bring and man to his knees. This is a very easy but time-consuming dish that is made to impress anyone.

and as always,

Buon Appetito America!

JCL

Prosciutto Wrapped Caprese Appetizer!

“…And on the eighth day, God created prosciutto”

It’s always hard for us men to really understand what women want these days. You ladies are always giving us these mixed signals as to what makes you happy, you can never just tell us the key to your hearts! Us men, were easy. They say the way to a mans heart is through his stomach. I say the key to any Italian mans heart is through prosciutto! Thats right, this dry-cured ham is a little slice of heaven to us Italian men!

Nobody knows a man better than their mother and I speak the truth when I say I would still let her pack my lunches if it was socially acceptable for her to do so. Other kids were getting PB & J sandwiches and string cheese, I was getting prosciutto on ciabatta with fresh mozzarella. I think she even packed the oil and balsamic on the side incase I wanted to mix my own dressing (yeah, like I didn’t look like a big enough loser already).

This next recipe is so easy, it could make even the most uncoordinated kitchen mom/dad look like an Iron chef. Every family gathering we always put out a great spread and im always in charge of the same dish, the caprese salad! Where’s the prosciutto you ask? let’s get into it shall we!

Prosciutto Avvolto Antipasto Caprese: (Prosciutto wrapped caprese appetizer)

Serving size: ~ 3 dozen (appetizer size)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound prosciutto (about 30 slices per pound, leaving extra for a snack)
  • 18 Marinated mozzarella balls (cut in halves)
  • 18 Cherry tomatos (cut in halves)
  • Fresh basil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • Italian olive oil
  • 36 toothpicks

Most grocery stores carry marinated Mozzarella balls which will make your life a lot easier and help the dish come together quicker!

First Start by slicing you prosciutto into inch thin strips, second slice the mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes into halves.

Next, Arrange each slice of prosciutto flat and put a piece of basil on one end of each slice. Top each piece of basil with a piece of mozzarella and a tomato halve, matching the cut sides to make a ball.

Season lightly with both salt and pepper, then roll up the balls in the prosciutto. If you want to put the basil in the middle of the tomato and mozzarella that will work just as well.

Lastly place a toothpick through the prosciutto wrapped mozzarella so it is secure and easy to enjoy. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and a tiny drizzle of balsamic and serve!

Not only is this a great appetizer to kick off any party, its delicious and easy to make

as always,

Buon Appetito America

JCL

Mussels Scampi

“I really love to cook with wine…Sometimes I even put it in the food”    

            Alright everyone, a month hiatus has done the body good and now let’s get back to what makes this lovely world go round…FOOD! This next recipe is a staple in many fine dining locations but it is so easy and overlooked in many homes today. We are talking one of my favorite and underrated seafood dishes hands down. Mussels Scampi…Thats right America, Mussels! It’s quite easy to take a wrong turn following a recipe which may end in disaster. However, with garlic, butter and white wine, you can never go wrong!

Mussels Scampi

Serving size: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pound raw Mussels (scrubbed and de-bearded)
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 4-5 cloves minced fresh Garlic
  • 3/4 cup dry White wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper

* Most importantly be sure that your mussels are very fresh and tightly closed when you buy them. If you do not have fresh mussels than make something else!

In a medium sautee pan, sautee the olive oil and garlic over medium-low heat (do not let garlic brown) after about 30 seconds melt your butter in the sautee.

Next, pour in white wine and mussels and raise heat to medium/high and steam mussels till shells open. (about 4-5 minutes) Place a pan cover slightly ajar over the mussles to help infuse the steamed white wine flavor.

Right before serving add a pinch of salt and fresh black pepper to the pan and toss mussels gently.

Pour mussels with all its remaining juices into a large serving bowl and garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

* Serve mussels scampi with some fresh bread because the sauce that remains is excellent for dipping!

and as always,

Buon Appetito America!

JCL