Cuisine: International

Panisse – My idea of a healthyish snack!

I don’t think there is a perfect snack that teenagers, foodie husbands and moms trying to cook healthy for their families would agree on. I do think I tried one in France that might suffice; Panisse!

You can find many snacks made with chickpea flour, such as Socca chips and Panisse, in Nice and Southern Italy. They are delicious and are most often served with a healthy sprinkle of fresh ground pepper. They have a crispy exterior and a creamy interior almost like a polenta French fry. I tried these when I was in France and have been searching for a way to serve them ever since.

So now my worlds have finally collided. I’ve been spending all my time working on a fundraising cookbook for an organization I am involved in personally. It is a Jewish Holiday Cookbook and honestly the recipes are knockouts! I will let you know as soon as it is available.

The other piece is my wonderful family. I have a 17 year old that is a senior in high school and having so much fun with her senior activities, a sophomore in high school that is starting her second season of club water polo and a sports fanatic husband that is in the throws of March Madness. “Calgon take me away!” remember that commercial of a frantic mom looking for some relaxation? In all the craziness I was feeding everyone snacks that were quick, easy and quite frankly, not very good, or healthy. So I thought I ‘d give you all the chance to benefit from my haste.

These batons (fancy name for steak fries) are fried, yes I said fried, but the fact they are made with chickpea (garbanzo) flour offsets the fry, in my book. Chickpea flour really packs a punch. It is naturally loaded with protein, high in fiber and gluten free. If you or any family members are vegan or vegetarian this is a nearly perfect food. I fry in a cast iron skillet in about ½” of olive oil so you are not deep-frying. Another justification for “its not so bad” and you get the benefits of cast iron, too. When you taste these you have a nice crispy exterior and creamy interior, almost like a polenta french fry. As I said above, a good sprinkle of pepper is good; you can also try Parmesan or some Marinara sauce, for dipping.

Panisse - My idea of a healthyish snack!
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Servings
40 pieces
Servings
40 pieces
Panisse - My idea of a healthyish snack!
Print Recipe
Servings
40 pieces
Servings
40 pieces
Ingredients
Servings: pieces
Instructions
  1. Lightly oil a square pan.
  2. Heat the broth with oil, garlic and salt in a heavy saucepan. You can use water, I like to use chicken or vegetable broth for building your flavor.
  3. Once the liquid is hot, but not boiling, slowly whisk in the chickpea flour. Whisk over a medium heat until it thickens, about 3 minutes.
  4. Switch to a wooden spoon and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes until batter becomes very thick and it holds its shape.
  5. Scrape dough/batter into oiled pan and let cool.
  6. To fry panisses, unmold solid mix onto cutting board and slice into batons/fries.
  7. In a heavy or cast iron skillet heat 1/4' to 1/2" of olive oil. When the oil is shiny hot, but NOT smoking, fry the panisses, in batches. Do not overcrowd. once the bottoms are nicely browned and crisp turn, carefully, with tongs, cook until you have a deep golden brown color on both sides.
  8. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels or brown paper bag. Sprinkle with a lot of coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper. Dust with grated Parmesan cheese, too. You can serve with marinara sauce for dipping too.
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Try Something New -Homemade Pasta Edition!

In case you haven’t heard it’s been raining here in California, A LOT! So it was a great weekend to stay home and make all sorts of comfort food. It doesn’t get more comfortable than homemade pasta.

I love that you and I both probably have everything we need to make pasta, already, in our kitchens. Are you ready for the long list; Flour, salt, eggs, water and olive oil. I have a hand cranked pasta roller, but you really don’t need it. Pasta has been made for centuries, certainly long before standing electric mixers were adding attachments and even before my hand-cranked roller. If you have a wooden roller pin and a knife you can make your own pasta.

Keep in mind you can search for basic pasta recipes and find dozens of variations. Start with mine but if it s not a good fit, you can play around. Add more water; use just all-purpose flour, more oil (not too much). I did make mine in a standing mixer, with a dough hook; you can do everything by hand in a large bowl.

I want to say that, even not so great, homemade pasta will taste better than any pasta you will ever buy in a store. Once you get this pasta made, go over to March 1, 2015 and make the Marinara Sauce!

Homemade Pasta Dough
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Homemade Pasta Dough
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine flours and salt. Make a well (indentation) and add eggs. If you are doing this by hand, start to fold your flour over the eggs and mix, adding water and oil, until you have a stiff dough. I used a standing electric mixer with the dough hook attachment. I used a spatula to scrape down the sides.
  2. As you are mixing and adding water & oil, keep pinching the dough. When it starts to stick together easily, its ready. You do not want it too sticky.
  3. I used Durum Semolina, which is traditionally Italian. It has a coarser texture, almost like corn meal, it will need more water and olive oil. The texture smooths out in rolling and cooking. All-purpose flour will NOT need nearly as much liquid.
  4. Once the dough is all mixed. Knead for 3 - 4 minutes on a lightly floured board. Then form a disk and wrap in plastic and let rest, in refrigerator, for 30 minutes.
  5. When ready to roll, cut disk into quarters and flatten. If you are using a pasta machine or roller, start on a zero setting and run the dough through once or twice and fold in half and lightly flour each side and run through again. Repeat this process gradually increasing setting to higher numbers and ultimately increasing to desired thinness and length. Or follow the directions provided, with your machine.
  6. If you are hand rolling, lightly flour a board and use a rolling pin to roll dough out to desired thinness and length. I like to roll between two pieces of parchment or wax paper. Too much flour can make the pasta too chewy.
  7. At this point you would switch to the cutting shape, you want on the machine. If you are cutting by hand use a knife or pizza cute to cut your dough.
  8. Once your dough is cut, it is IMPORTANT to let it dry/set for a while before storing or cooking. If you don't it might be gummy. If you have something to hang your pasta over, even a towel rack will do, that's ideal. if not just let it lay straight on board or parchment lined pan. Don't let it sit bunched up, like in the picture.
  9. Once it is a little dry you can store it, folded, in an airtight container, with a little semolina or cornmeal, to keep it separated.
  10. To cook, bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it, liberally. Add you pasta and cook 5 - 7 minutes. Do not over cook. Serve with your favorite sauce or none at all. It's that good,
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Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce

Picada is like a pesto. Made with chocolate and almonds it is lovely on the palate!

Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce
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Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat oven broiler to high
  2. Toss florets with 2 T. olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil, turning once, half way through, until charred and tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat garlic and remaining oil in skillet an cook, over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Be sure to watch and stir, so garlic doesn't burn. Transfer oil and garlic to a a medium bowl an let cool.
  4. Stir almonds, parsley, chocolate, sherry, salt and pepper into garlic oil. Toss with cauliflower while it is still hot. Garnish and serve immediately.
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Valentines Day Chocolates!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I know you are still wondering what to do. We all spend a lot of time looking for something new and creative to do. We all want to “keep it fresh”. Well, I’ve been married for almost 20 years and let me tell you it gets hard. I am a devotee of the classics. Let’s do a romantic dinner. That’s not to say we can’t shake things up a little bit. If you or your significant other are certified chocoholics, like me, how about a meal that has chocolate in every single course?

There is so much to love about chocolate but what you need to know here is that it starts out as cacao, which is mouth wincing bitter. Don’t be scared, that gives you control. That bitter cacao nib is a chameleon. Once add sugar, fat and cream, with a little mixing, you can have the sweet Hershey Kiss from your childhood or a complex and award winning delicacy.

In a typical three-course meal, you’ll start with salad. Let’s make milk chocolate vinaigrette. The milk chocolate is an emulsifier that creates a welcome creaminess. Serve the vinaigrette it over greens that included purple radicchio. Radicchio is a little bitter so it cuts the sweetness. Spinach adds necessary balance. To round out the salad add Asian pear for a tart crunch and diced cranberries for their sweet chewy flavor.

The star of the main course is a fennel seed and cacao nib rubbed pork tenderloin. The secret really is the rub. The rub is a blend of cacao nibs, fennel seeds, cinnamon and cayenne with cocoa powder and brown sugar bounces all over your mouth. The recipe calls for grinding the nibs and seeds in a mortar and pestle. The result will be quite coarse. If you’d like a finer texture you can use a coffee grinder or food processor. Remember though, the finer the rub, the less pungent the flavor. Is the rub sweet or spicy? The rub will seal your juices in while cooking so you won’t need any other sauce than the glorious juices as they pour out when sliced.

In keeping with the play on sweet and spicy the pork is served with a charred cauliflower in a picada sauce. Picada is similar to a pesto. This recipe uses; bitter dark chocolate, Marcona almonds, garlic, parsley and a touch of sweet sherry. The cauliflower should be tender, almost creamy, inside and just charred on the outside. There are so many great textures in your mouth.

In moments of humility and mistakes often come our greatest success and sweetness. Dessert comes from one of those moments. I misread a recipe that called for teaspoons of flour and sugar as tablespoons and the result is more like a rich, incredible brownie than cake. It won’t look so pretty when you first turn it out, so decorate with abandon. You can try whatever fresh berries in season. For a more elegant presentation, sift some powdered sugar through a lace doily and add some fresh herbs. I always say if it smells good together it will taste good together so get creative; how about some tarragon or thyme? If you are short on time a dollop of fresh whipped cream will work too.

Here’s the truth, I did not take pictures the last time I made this and don’t want to use stock pictures from the internet. I promise to post pictures as soon as I can. Finally, it appears I can only do one recipe per post so I will send the recipes one after the other.

I wish you and your loved one a very meaningful Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette
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Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Melt chocolate and stir until smooth. Whisk in vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. While whisking continuously, drizzle in oil until thickened and combined.
  2. Divide arugula/spinach among plates. Top with pear, cranberries and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
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Winter’s Colorful Citrus

Winter knows how to hook you. That first nip of cold air gets you excited and all the sweaters come out. When you are sick of rain the snow starts and when you think you can’t handle the grey skies anymore, Peonies show up and the citrus is ripe for the picking.

The Peonies I had to find in NYC while looking at colleges for my daughter. They were a welcome sight on a slushy, grey street in Chelsea. The citrus, in the form Cara Cara oranges greeted me when I came home to Los Angeles. They were bursting with juice and practically leapt off their trees when I went out to pick them.

Cara Cara oranges are wonderfully sweet and have specks of dark red hinting of a relationship to blood oranges. You can juice them and cook with them. This year they were too sweet not to use in everything! First, I peeled, sliced and served them on a beautiful platter on their own. Delicious! Then I tried a variation on lemon curd. It is literally sunshine is a jar. You can use any way you would lemon curd or, like me, just eat with a spoon.


Cara Cara Orange Curd
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Cara Cara Orange Curd
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Bring the orange juice to a simmer in a small saucepan, over a medium high heat and reduce to 1/2 cup. Remove from heat and stir in zest. Cool to room temperature.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolks and sugar. Whisk in cooled juice mixture. Once combined, pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it starts to thicken and it reaches a temperature of 180°. This should take 6 - 8 minutes.
  3. Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl and stir in butter, until it is completely melted. Cool completely and place plastic right on surface of curd, to prevent skin forming. Place in refrigerator until well chilled.
  4. Store in airtight in refrigerator for 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator, before use, if frozen.
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Judge Not, Lest You Be Judged

My daughter had mononucleosis the last two weeks of the school year.  This certainly caused a lot of stress in our home.  I spent quite a lot of time on the phone with teachers and counselors trying to get extensions, exceptions and retakes arranged.  As a result, I was given the unique task of videotaping my daughter’s culinary I final.  You may think, “How fun!”, but it was harder than I thought it would be.

I have taught both my daughters to cook, but not in a formal, culinary, way.  It was always, watching me cook, or making some “family” recipe or something special. I have never approached teaching my daughters to cook  from an instructor perspective, but now I was being asked to watch another teachers work.  It was eye opening to say the least.

I do not want to admonish the teacher, at all.  I have never taught 40 kids at one time. Nor do I ever want to. I spent the hour of videotaping, biting  my tongue.  I wanted to rescue her from mistakes.  I held my breath, terrified that she would cut her finger off, as she moved the knife towards her, rather than away.  Did she wash her hands as often as she should have? Did she change cutting boards? Is that dice bite sized? It was daunting!

#2

By the end of this week, she had received her grade and ended the year with an B in the class (good thing!) and a high B on the final.  It just goes to show that, as parents, we are much harder on our kids.  I am proud of the work my daughter did.

The recipe she cooked was for Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice.  This project was originally assigned as a group project.  Since my daughter wasn’t in class, the recipe was written without her.  When I tasted the recipe, I thought it was good, but could use a little refinement. The photo is of the original recipe, then I offer my changes.  Happy cooking and remember to practice your knife skills!

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Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice
Print Recipe
This recipe comes from West Bengal and is a colorful and flavorful one pot meal. Be sure to dice all your vegetables to the same bite size. It will make it easier for your diners to enjoy a perfect biteful!
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice
Print Recipe
This recipe comes from West Bengal and is a colorful and flavorful one pot meal. Be sure to dice all your vegetables to the same bite size. It will make it easier for your diners to enjoy a perfect biteful!
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Ingredients
Servings: dinner entrees
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet, over a medium high heat; add the onions and bell pepper. Cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and continue stirring. Reduce heat to medium flame and add tomatoes. Stir and cook until tomatoes are soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Season with cayenne, curry, garam masala, turmeric and cumin. Stir in reserved tomato juices.
  4. Add the chicken, potates, and stock; Simmer and stir occasionally until potatoes are tender and chicken is no longer pink, about 20 minutes.
  5. Spoon Chicken mixture over cooked rice and garnish with cilantro.
  6. Serve Hot
Recipe Notes

There should be plenty of juices that have thickened from the potatoes.

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