Author Archives: allthatcooking

Pasta e fagioli with chicken

Pasta e fagioli

Pasta e fagioli is a classic italian recipe, a «primo» you will find anywhere in the italian peninsula, from the northest parts of Trentino – Alto Adige to the southest corners of Sicily. It has its roots deeply immersed in the history of the rural parts of the country and, frankly, I don’t know many Italians that haven’t tasted it and/or love it. There are as many recipes as there are families, but the main thing you need to remember is this: small pasta and beans. Lots of beans. And tomato.

As far as this particular dish we cooked goes, we had to improvise a bit, since we decided to make it at the very last minute. OK, that’s not entirely true, we decided to make it in the morning, but there were leftovers that needed to go, so we changed things a bit and added leftover rotisserie chicken. Because we had it. We also added a (very very hot) red chili pepper from our own pepper plant, because we wanted to try it. Yes, it was the very first chili from our own plant and it was fan-ta-stic. All in all, comfort food at its best.

One note: You are welcome to use canned beans and you are welcome to use any beans you like. We used dry cannellini beans, because that’s what we had in our jars, but anything is fine. We boiled the beans for more than two hours before using them in our dish, a step which, of course, you will skip if you are using canned beans. Also, keep in mind that dry beans take less time to boil if you soak them in water from the night before. In other words, don’t take our word for the time needed, always test your food.

Now, let me see if I remember everything we did.

What you’ll need:

½ cup dry beans, which you will boil along with some bay, a little oil, pepper. I always add a little lemon at the end.

Some pancetta, prosciuto or bacon (I used 4 rashers of bacon. They weren’t very thin, fyi)

2 carrots

1 large onion

1 red chili pepper from your garden (or from the supermarket) (optional)

(celery – I didn’t use any because we don’t like it, but everyone else loves it)

A couple of bay leaves

Some rosemary

Some thyme or oregano

About ¾ cup of ditalini

1 can crushed tomato

1-2 cups of rotisserie chicken

1 litre of chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

What you’ll do

  1. Ready the beans, by boiling them for endless hours, until they are ready.
  2. Chop the carrots, the onion, the chili pepper and the garlic (and the celery, if using).
  3. Cut the bacon in not-very-small pieces. Heat some olive oil in a pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Let it render some of its fat and then add the veggies (garlic included), the bay leaves (break them in half first), the rosemary and thyme or oregano and give them a swirl. Add some salt and pepper and let them cook for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato and bring everything to a boil.
  5. Add the beans along with about a cup of its juice. The thicker it is, the better. Bring to a boil again.

5 and a half. If you want, you can take about a cup of the bean mixture as it has cooked by now and blend it, then pour it back in the pot. That will make your mixture thicker, and, according to the old Italians, the thicker the better.

  1. Add the chicken, let it be incorporated with the rest and then add the broth (or water, whatever you are using). Bring everything to a boil.
  2. Once everything is boiling, add the pasta and let it boil. Cook for as long as the pasta needs to be prepared. At some point, taste for seasoning.
  3. Serve with some Parmesan cheese and some parsley.

This recipe yields 3-4 servings, depending on how much you eat and whether you are having it as a primo or secondo.

 

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The easiest, and (possibly one of) the most delicious, apple “pie”

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There are a lot of apple dessert recipes online that claim to be easy and delicious and “light” at the same time and more often than not that is not the case. This recipe, however, is one of those that actually combines all those three elements. It will take you no more than 15 minutes to prepare and it is absolutely mouth watering even if you use just a couple of tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of butter (which makes it one of the least fattening desserts you can find).

Based on a recipe found on Bon Appetit this apple “pie” is perfect for every time you want some comfort food and an easy, yet delicious, treat for times when friends come over and you don’t really have too much time to prepare something.

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*Note: I prefer not to quantify spices. Just add as much as you like. Spices depend on taste and preference. What I do is, I add the spices, as much as I think will be ok, then smell it and if it smells good for me, that’s how much I use. As a rule of thumb, I usually start with about 1 tsp of each spice.

What to do

Serves: 3

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 large apples

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar (you can use less if you want to, it doesn’t make that big of a difference)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Ground cinnamon

Ginger

½ teaspoon salt

½ lemon

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

Some granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

How to do it

Preheat the oven to 230° C and brown the butter. Clean and cut the apples in small and larger pieces and place them in the pan you will bake them in. Add the sugar, flour, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, salt, lemon (and some lemon zest) and some of the butter and mix everything together.

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Cut the pastry in small and larger pieces and place it on top of the apples. Brush the pastry with the rest of the butter and sprinkle some sugar on top. Bake for 35 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 160° C and bake for another 30 minutes.

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Take out of the oven and with the back of a spoon press some of the pieces in the apple juices (optional). Let it rest for a while and enjoy!


Curry, spice and everything nice

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I am still looking for that one person that has no problem eating meat during the summer.

Ok, alright, hands down, I get it, it’s only me. Still, when the day gets hot, my appetite for meat diminishes to zero level. With the temperature nearing 40 degrees Celsius (sometimes higher), one has no choice but to eat light, in order to keep cool. So the challenge for me is to make meat as tasty and light as possible.

This is where spices come in. I don’t know if it is true, but in my mind it goes something like this: India is hot, Indians eat spices –> spices are good during heat waves. I choose to not look it up and just go with this forever!

In the interest of making meat appealing to me, I employ a curry powder recipe taught to me by a friend, more than a decade ago, in NYC. I am pretty sure I have changed the quantities dramatically in the course of the years, but this is how I have been making it and how we have come to like it.

Today, I seasoned half a chicken breast with salt, pepper and our curry powder and simply cooked it on a non-stick pan with not a drop of oil. You can use oil if you want, but I’m keeping everything light.

Along with the chicken, we had a nice lettuce salad, with lots of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil, and a dill-less tzatziki, made with:

1 cup 0% yoghurt

1 very small cucumber, diced

1 clove garlic

2-3 TB lemon juice

1 tsp olive oil

salt, pepper

 

 

Curry powder

The curry powder recipe includes coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, dry mustard and paprika. I am sure she gave me the right quantities, but the way I now make it is this:

The curry powder is made of ten parts.

5 parts ground coriander seeds

2 parts ground ginger

2 parts ground cumin

1 part turmeric

1 part (or maybe a bit less) dry mustard

1 part (again, if you want, a bit less, or noticeably less) paprika

 

Mix all the parts well. Store it in an airtight container. It goes fast, especially if you are anything like me and use it everywhere.

 

Remember that everything is best enjoyed with good company.

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The cats were begging

 


Moroccan-style pasta

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 23.08.14I used to feel like there’s nothing better and quicker to create tiny explosions of taste in a relatively simple dish that cinnamon or cumin. Or both. Then, it was Gino D’Acampo that introduced me to the crackling, satisfying feeling of toasted almonds in a dish, and he did it with his Moroccan – style pasta.

This recipe is very heavily based on Gino’s recipe in his book Fantastico!: Modern Italian Food – I’m saying “based” and not “taken from the book, simply because I have left out the coriander (which I simply cannot stand) and, quite frankly, am liberally seasoning the dish with cinnamon and cumin. One teaspoon is simply never enough. We also used tagliatelle.

We also almost omitted the oil (you will notice we only use about a teaspoon and a half at the beginning) because we are on a diet.

Stop laughing!

Stop!

OK, now that you’re all better, let’s move on.

We also #fooked*, because it had been a while and we had missed it! Those of you who are new to fooking, I hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients

1 onion, sliced

About 4-5 tomatoes, diced

Cinnamon and cumin

About 1 cup cooked chickpeas (we cooked ours)

About 100gr flaked almonds

About 250gr tagliatelle

Parsley

 

Preparation

Start by cooking the chickpeas, if they are not already cooked. You know, no salt while they are cooking, then add some at the end and don’t forget the lemon.

Add the onions with some oil in a deep pan and cook them for about five minutes, until soft and slightly brown. Add the diced tomatoes and the spices. Let it cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down, their juices are making a nice, thick sauce and the aroma is filling your house.

Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelle and, in a small pan, toast the flaked almonds. That’s really easy to do, just put the almonds in a small saucepan over medium heat. Also remember to toss them every once in a while, because they will burn quickly if you don’t.

When your sauce is nice and ready, add the chickpeas and cook for a further five minutes. Or longer if you want. What you are looking for is for all the smells to integrate with the chickpeas. When it’s done, add the tagliatelle and the parsley (keep a little bit to add when you serve) and cook for another a minute.

When it’s done, serve it, add the almonds and some more parsley and serve immediately.

Enjoy it with some cold beer (Mr. S added some feta cheese too, but what else is new!)

As always, let us know what you think!

Grazie Gino!


 

* Cooking with the Foo Fighters


Cumin mushrooms and pancetta quesadilla

cumin mushroom quesadillaSaturday night usually calls for Supernatural. And Supernatural usually calls for a snack – mainly because Dean always eats something, and then we get start to drool and then we lose our concentration and the whole world knows that Supernatural demands our full attention, so we like to be prepared.

Last night we tried to keep it simple, because of everything that we have eaten these past few days. Our favorite Canteen reopening this Sunday was also a huge factor to our trying to keep the calorie intake to a minimum (well… ok… we’ll call this a “minimum” and we’ll all stay friends, ok?). When trying to do that, veggies help, and whole-wheat products help and, of course, pancetta doesn’t help much, but we’ll just keep this between us.

I won’t even call this a recipe. It is merely a suggestion for the next time you crave for something and don’t know what to make. Most houses have a few mushrooms, some tortillas, some pancetta (or bacon), some cheese, a few peppers…

By the way, there were no peppers in this house last night, so I didn’t use any, but I’ll add them to the “suggestion”, because I really wish there were.

 

Ingredients

250gr mushrooms, sliced

4 slices pancetta

½ onion

1 red bell pepper, sliced

4 slices yellow cheese (we used Gouda)

4 tortillas

A pinch of cumin

 

Preparation

Heat some oil in a large pan and add the pancetta to your desired doneness. Remove pancetta from the pan. Add the onion and the pepper and cook over medium heat until soft. Add the mushrooms, some salt and pepper and the cumin. Cook about 7-8 minutes, or until the mushrooms are done.

Remove from the pan. At this point, if you have a non-stick pan, don’t even bother with cooking spray. I used nothing and nothing stuck! If your pan is not non-stick, then add some cooking spray. Place one tortilla on the pan, over medium heat. On it, place a slice of cheese, some mushroom mixture, two pancetta slices and another cheese slice. Top it off with another tortilla. Cook on one side for about 3-4 minutes or until tortilla is nice and crispy. Very carefully flip your quesadilla over and cook it for another couple of minutes.

Remove it from the pan and place on a plate. Repeat for the second quesadilla.

We placed one on top of the other, cut them both with a serrated knife in four and enjoyed it with some weissbier and a simple valeriana salad (dressed only with some salt, pepper, lemon and olive oil). And with Sam and Dean, of course!

 


Jamaican spiced chicken and curry flavored brown rice fajitas

Jamaican fajitas

It’s a sunny mid March Sunday, you go out for a stroll, maybe some coffee and some hanging out in the sun, and when you get back home you find yourself desperately looking for something nice to eat. Preferably something that can be prepared in no time and taste like, well… a sunny springtime Sunday.

So, how about some fajitas? Jamaican spiced chicken and curry flavored brown rice (basmati rice is also great) fajitas to be exact. That’s what we thought and fortunately for us, we thought about it before we went out for that stroll, which was helpful because it meant that we took the chicken out of the freezer so that it would be ready to be cooked by the time we came back!

(But, you know… Having a microwave that is not broken like ours is something that can do the defrosting job if you don’t think about cooking chicken before you go out for a walk!).

So. All you need is some chicken (we used three chicken thighs), a cup of rice (we used brown rice), an onion, a red pepper, one tomato, a couple of lettuce leaves, a few tortillas and about 30-35 minutes.

 

Ingredients

3 chicken thighs

1 cup of brown rice

1 onion

1 red pepper

1 tomato

6 corn tortillas

3 lettuce leaves

Olive oil

Salt

Jamaican spice pepper

Curry powder

Yogurt  (or sour cream)

Some grated cheese

 

Preparation

Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees.

Place an empty frying pan on high. While the pan is heating, season the chicken with salt and the Jamaican spice pepper. Sprinkle some olive oil on the chicken, lower the heat to medium and place the chicken in the pan.

Put a cup of brown rice in a small pan. Season with salt and some curry powder, add two cups of boiling water and let it cook for ten minutes.

Slice the onion and the red pepper, cut the tomato in small pieces and slice the lettuce.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan and let it rest. In that same pan add the onion and red pepper and cook to your liking (we cooked it for about 5 minutes, or until the veggies were soft).

Take a large piece of greaseproof paper, put it under the tab and get it all wet. Squeeze it so that most of the water goes off, wrap the tortillas in it and put them in the oven for 3-4 minutes.

Before you serve your fajitas, slice your chicken pieces so that then can be better used in your tortilla.

When everything is done and ready, place in individual plates and assemble your fajitas to your liking. We added some yogurt and some shredded mozzarella, but you can also use some mexican salsa, guacamole or just about anything.

And, of course, let us know what you think.

 


Delicious Onion Pie

onionpieLast week we went to this place on via del Corso in Florence that sells mainly pies. The place is called “Pulia” and sells mainly dishes pugliesi, i.e. from Puglia. Everything was great, but what really stuck with me was the onion pie.

It was actually called “onion pizza”, but looked like a pie, and the dough was focaccia dough, and it’s all very complicated, so I think I may just have to move on to the recipe, because the recipe is actually much simpler than explaining the pie!

 

So, there you have it:

Onion Pie

300gr flour

10gr fresh yeast or 3gr dry yeast

200ml tepid water

5-6 onions (or scallions, or both, I used 5 regular onions and 2 scallions)

2-3 anchovies

a handful of olives (NOT pitted olives, nobody likes pitted olives)

salt, pepper, oil

 

Preparation

Add the yeast in the water and just stir it around with your hand until it dissolves. Add it in the flour and mix it, forming a dough. Add about a tsp of salt, 2 TB oil and work your dough until it is homogeneous and just a tiny little bit sticky. Leave it to double for about an hour.

Meanwhile, and while your dough is rising, preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (400F) and chop the onions in thin slices. Add some oil in a pan and add the anchovies. Let them dissolve in the oil and add the onions, with a little salt. Lower the heat to medium-low and let the onions cook for about 20 minutes, until they are nice and soft. Then add the olives and some pepper. Give it a stir and remove it from the fire.

Now your dough must be double in size and your oven warm. Oil a 30cm pan and your hands. Take the dough and divide it in half, making sure that one piece is slightly larger than the other (slightly!). Roll it in a round that fits the bottom of the pan and place it in your pan. Put the onion mix over the dough in the pan and roll the other piece as well. Place it on top of the onions and seal the edges. Brush some oil on the surface and sprinkle some salt and pepper over it. Put it in the oven and let it bake for 30 minutes.

When it’s done, let it cool and enjoy it. Maybe with some red wine. Or tea. Or coffee. Oh, who am I kidding, just have the pie!

And as always, let me know

onionpie1


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