Category: side dish

Halina’s Cranberry Sauce

By , November 20, 2007 10:12 pm

My 2nd mother, Halina, gave me this recipe. It’s divine! The Grand Marnier was my idea though.

1 12-oz bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup pineapple juice
2/3 cup sugar
2 shots Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
Dash of ground nutmeg

Place the cranberries in a colander and rinse under cold water, discarding any stems or rotten cranberries. There are always a few in each bag. Take one cranberry and eat it raw while looking at yourself in a mirror. You should have made a funny face.

In a heavy sauce pan mix sugar and pineapple juice and throw in the cranberries and nutmeg. Cover and bring to a boil. When the boiling begins you should hear the cranberries starting to pop open. Remove cover and stir. Reduce heat slightly and continue slow boiling while stirring very often. After about five minutes all of the cranberries should have popped. Smash any cranberries that appear to be intact with the back side of a spoon. Cook another minute or two while continuing to stir. After it has a jelly-like consistency, remove from heat and spoon into a bowl. Cover and cool completely in the fridge.

Happy Thanksgiving! Yankees suck!

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Garlic Infused Rice

By , June 18, 2007 9:54 am

My trick for cooking rice in a rice cooker is to add one teaspoon of salt, one smashed garlic clove and one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil per cup of rice to the water and rice in the cooker before cooking. Every now and then I use chicken broth instead of water for a nice flavor twist.

A good rice cooker should reside in the kitchen of every self-respecting cook. They make rice quick and easy. I use rice in at least half of my dinners. Below are a few links to some good rice cookers, varying in price. Yankees suck!

Steak Pizzola

By , June 12, 2007 4:58 pm

So I finally had an evening to myself where I could be alone in the kitchen, drink some beer, pump some tunes, try something new and chronicle it. There are few things in the world better than a good steak. Add in pan roasted garlic-basil cherry tomatoes and you have a smash hit.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 steaks of your choice (I only made one this time)
1 pint vine-ripened red cherry tomatoes, washed and patted dried
1 Large clove garlic, minced
6-8 Fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

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Pre-heat your oven to 475°. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in olive oil. Season the steaks with salt & pepper and sear for about 3 minutes on each side, until well browned. Actually, just as you flip the steaks, add the minced garlic to the side of the pan and make sure it gets some of the olive oil. Sauté the garlic as you sear the second side of the steak. After the steak is browned on both sides and garlic is getting toasty, move the steaks aside and add the cherry tomatoes and basil to the garlic. Stir gently to coat and season with salt & pepper.

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Place the skillet in the oven and roast until the steak is cooked to your liking and tomatoes begin to burst. I roasted mine for about ten minutes and it came out medium. A bit over cooked for my tastes, but it was awesome anyway. Serve with a side of pasta with the tomatoes spooned over the steaks. Try making it with fresh oregano instead of basil, or a mix. Have fun! Yankees suck!

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Risotto

By , February 21, 2007 3:57 pm

I absolutely love risotto. I’ve never tried to make it before. I wanted a delicious side to the Korean BBQ Chicken I made last weekend. I took a nose dive into some of my Italian cookbooks and cruised around the web a little for information on risotto ingredients and preparation techniques. Here’s what I found …

A quick read on risotto history and recipes can be found here. Most of my cookbooks really didn’t explain what risotto really was and the caveats on preparing it. One recipe I found in Lidia Bastianich’s cookbook Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen really caught my attention. It explained that once you understand how to prepare a basic risotto, you can parlay that skill into making any type of risotto you could imagine. The basics are the key to pretty much all cooking and just about everything else in life.

I followed Lidia’s “master plan” for preparing risotto and made a few of my own changes along the way. Nice!

4½ cups hot chicken stock
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, minced
1 leek, white parts only, trimmed, cleaned and chopped
6 scallions, white and green parts chopped separately
2 cups Italian Aborio rice
â…“ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter, cut into four pieces
â…“ up freshly grated Parimigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Pour the chicken stock in a small sauce pan and keep it hot over medium heat. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat and stir in the onions. Sauté the onions until softened, about four minutes. Stir in the leeks and white parts of the scallions and sauté for another six minutes. The onions should start to brown. Stir in the rice making sure all of the grains get covered with the oil. Keep stirring often for the next two to three minutes until the edges of the grains become translucent. Pour in the wine and let it boil. Keep stirring the rice till the wine has evaporated.

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Season the rice with salt and ladle enough of the hot chicken stock into the sauté pan until it barely covers the rice. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to maintain a lively simmer. Continue cooking while stirring constantly until all the stock has been absorbed and you can see the bottom of the pan when you stir. Continue cooking, pouring the remaining hot stock in small batches. Each addition of stock should be only enough to completely moisten the rice. Continue doing this until the stock has been absorbed. All this should take 15-20 minutes from the time you added the wine.

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Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and green parts of the scallions until the butter is completely melted. Stir in half the grated cheese. Taste the risotto and add more salt if you like and then add the freshly ground black pepper. Top with grated cheese and serve immediately.

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I like a creamy risotto so I used another two cups of chicken stock. This also added to the cooking time since I had 50% more stock to absorb. I also squeezed a little lemon juice at the end. This basic recipe can be taken into an infinite number of directions. Try adding some smoked chicken at the end. I’d like to add some saffron to the chicken stock next time I make it. Shrimp risotto should be good. Maybe I’ll try making an asparagus risotto. I’m guessing all I would have to do is add some steamed & chopped asparagus tips to the risotto at the end of the cooking. Yeah, that’s the ticket! Arrivederci! Yankees suck!

Roasted Cauliflower

By , March 8, 2006 5:30 pm

Who knew a boring food could be so much fun? This is the recipe that started it all. It’s as simple as it gets, healthy and delicious. What more do you want? I used to make cauliflower three or four times a year, now I make it two or three times a week. The most common way of preparing cauliflower is steaming it. Bland, bland, bland! I’ve sautéed cauliflower several times before with nothing notable to write about. Roasting is takes taste to a whole new level. Who knew cauliflower could be so crisp, fluffy and sweet?

Cauliflower - Whole

One head of cauliflower
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Dash of ground red cayenne pepper

Cauliflower - Sliced

Cauliflower - Cored

Heat oven to 475°. Wash and trim leaves and stem of the cauliflower. Chop entire head into ¼ inch pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl and drizzle on the olive oil. Season with salt, black pepper and red pepper. Stir well in the mixing bowl.

Cauliflower - Chopped

Cauliflower - pre-Seasoning

Spread the cauliflower evenly in a large casserole dish and place in the oven. Roast for fifteen minutes. Stir the pieces around so each side gets evenly browned. Stir again every five minutes. Usually this dish is done after 30 minutes. For me, the crispier the better!

Cauliflower - Mixed

Cauliflower - Finished

If you like this recipe, you can spice it up your own way the next time you make it. Try seasoning it with any sort of dried seasoning: oregano, Italian seasoning, thyme, rosemary … possibilities are endless.

I discovered this recipe when I was trying to cut back on starches. When the cauliflower prepared this way it takes on the texture of french fries. That’s why I like them crispy. Most of the time, the texture suits my french fry craving though the cauliflower tastes a whole lot better. Yankees suck!

Sautéed Zucchini

By , March 8, 2006 1:14 pm

This is a quick and easy Italian vegetable side dish that can be served with a weeknight family meal as well as a fancy-schmancy dinner. This recipe also works well with yellow squash. The pictures below aren’t of a full pound of zucchini, by the way.

1 pound medium zucchini
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence (dried parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Zucchini Sliced Zucchini Chopped

Wash the zucchini and trim off the ends. Slice zucchini length-wise twice and cut into ½-inch pieces. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the flour with salt & pepper. Toss zucchini with flour and add to the hot oil. Season with Herbes de Provence.

Zucchini Floured Zucchini Cooking

Zucchini Finished

Sauté over high heat until slightly tender and golden brown, about 5-10 minutes. Don’t expect the flour to stick too much to the zucchini, most of it will clump up into brown toasted bits adding texture and flavor to the dish.

Remove from heat. Sprinkle with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, cover and let sit for a few minutes to allow cheese to melt. Yankees suck!

Roasted Broccoli

By , March 8, 2006 11:42 am

Alright! I’ve been getting tons of feedback on the roasted cauliflower recipe.  It seems to be everyone’s favorite.  Many people have been asking for me to come up with something similar for broccoli.  I found this recipe and made a few changes to it.  Let me know if you like it.

2 Heads of broccoli
¼ cup of chicken broth
4 Cloves of fresh garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
¼ Cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 350°.  Cut the broccoli into florets and arrange flowers up, in an 8″x8″ baking pan or 9″ pie tin. Pour the chicken broth and sprinkle the garlic slices over the broccoli. Drizzle with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Turn the oven up to 425°.  Remove the foil, sprinkle with the Parmigiano, and bake another 5-10 minutes or until the broccoli is lightly browned.  Let the pan sit for five minutes before serving to dissipate the cruciferous smell.

Tex-Mex Variation: Replace the garlic with 2 tablespoons of minced onion and the olive oil with corn oil. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon chili powder.  Omit the cheese or use Mexican-style cotija.

Asian Variation: Replace the salt with a few squirts of soy sauce and the olive oil with peanut oil.  Add a dash of sesame oil, minced fresh ginger and scallions along with the garlic.

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