A Foodie's rants and raves

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Brussel sprouts ]repared and cooking

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White Truffle Parmesan fries for Super Sunday

White Truffle parmesan Fries;

You will see these at a lot of big name restaurants for $10.00 an order, you can make them at home for much less, fresher and better, and you control the flavors and salt content.Restaurants usually have two fryers with two diffrent temperatures of oil, a lower temperature to blanche the fries, usually 350 degrees and a higher temperature (375) to finish them, this is hard to do at home so I start out by boiling potatoes to blanche them, and then fry)
 

Ingredients:

5-8 Medium to Large Yukon Gold or Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into french fry shape

1/4 cup White Truffle oil available on line and specialty food markets and some super markets

Peanut oil for deep frying

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

kosher salt to taste

Cooking Process:

Rinse potatoes well and put in well salted water over high heat until boiling, boil for 8 minutes, drain immediatly and put into cold water.Note: If you don't have a deep fryeror don't want to use one, you can fry potatoes in canola oiland white truffle oil in a non stick oven safefrying pan over medium high heat, and then put into a pre-heated 400 degree oven to finish, turning potatoes often.Heat deep fry oil to 375 degrees, Notewhile oil is heating up drain potatoes well in a strainer, then pour them out on paper    towels, put paper towels on top of potatoes and gently press down until potatoes are dry. When oil is at 375 put potatoes into fry basket and lower into oil, fry 8-10 minutes. When done drain oil in basket and then turn fried potatoes onto paper towels to drain, let drain for only a couple of minutes, as you will want the potatoes to still be a bit hot when you apply the truffle oil.After a couple of minutes, put still warm potatoes into alarge bowl and add truffle oil and kosher salt to taste, mix well with two spoons and allow potatoes to soak up truffle oil.Meanwhpre-heat oven to 350,turn the potatoes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper andsprinkle parmesan cheese on top,ut in pre-heated oven until cheese is melted 8-10 minutes. Remover from oven and serve while still warm.

Rissotto

Rissotto,Italian rice  not only need to be made with the proper type of rice(arborio) but the proper technique( explained later) It can be a flavor vehicle for many things,shrimp, lobster, mushrooms etc.

Shrimp Risotto

Ingredients:

1 cup Arborio rice

4 cups seafood stock(Kitchen Basics)

1 cup chicken stock(Kitchen Basics)

 1-1/2 cups white wine

1-1/2 lbs shrimp cleaned and deveinedwith shells and tails reserved, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

4-6T butter

1T oilve oil

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 medium onion(yellow or white), finely diced

3-4 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 cups finely chopped celery hearts, leaves included

Technique:

In a large saucepan put in the seafood and chicken stocks, add the shrimp shells and tails,heat to simmer  over medium low heat.Note; This will be kept simmering throughout the risotto cooking process, so do not boil or simmer very violently as the liquid will boil away.

Meanwhile in a large saucepan put in 3T of the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 5 minutes, then add garlic and celery and cook another 3 minutes.Lower heat and add riceand shrimp, stir well so rice does not stick.Cook for 2-3 miutes until the rice is lightly toasted.Dglaze pan with white white scraping up the little browned bits of fondt, allow to cook for a minute or so then ladle in about 1 cup of thestrained sikmmering stock, don't add it all,the technique here is to add a little bit at a time until the rice is cooked, 20-25 minutes.RIsotto needs constant care, so don't plan to do anything ouside of the kitchen until it's done, probably not the best dish to have for company, unless you prefer NOT to spend time with them, and conversly if you don't see your host or hostess much, and then you are served Risotto, they apparently didn't want to spend time with YOU,sorry about that.Stir the risotto well and allow rice to be absorbthe liquid, when the liquid is absorbed, add onther ladle of the strained liquid, continue this process until the liquid is gone and the rice is done,ideally this will happen at the same time, If the liquid is gone and the rice is still not done add a bit of chicken stock or water until the rice is done.When the rice is done you must perform one of the most important features of risotto, that is finishing.You will want the risotto to have a creamy texture with the grains clinging to one another and not stay separate like a long grain rice.To finish, remove pan from heat and add remaining butter and cheese, stir well to combine Add more butter if consistensy is not creamy.Taste and add salt and pepper if needed and perhaps some garlic and onion powder, not too much now, you don't want to ruin the delicate balance of flavors.Serve immediatly.

 Yahoo... spring is coming, time to switch gears from braises and stews to cookout food.If you get tapped to bring a Potato salad.You may as well bring a salad that will knock their sock off.

Kick-ASS potato salad

ingredients 

3-4 Russett potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks

3 eggs hard boiled, peeled and chopped

5-6 slices crispy cooked bacon, crumbled

1/4 cup dill pickle juice, straight from the jar

2 ribs celery finely chopped

3T Mayo

salt and pepper to taste

 

Boil Potatoes in well salted water until done but not mushy, about 5-10 minutes

drain potatoes well and pour into large bowl.While potatoes are still hot, pour pickle juice over and stir well.Add in bacon, mayo, celery, eggs and salt and pepper. Stir well, taste and adjust seasaoning to your liking, a little garlic powder and/or onion powder to spice things up.Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Home made Italian Sour Dough Bread,recipe coming soon.
Brussel Sprouts
Polenta lasagne
Polenta Lasagne
Homemade pizza, better and more fresh than 5.00 "hot and ready" stuff anyday
Won Ton soup

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Soup: another pet peeve of mine, homemade soup is so easy to make and so good. as opposed tro that crap we buy in a can, all saland mushy carrots InHomemade soup you control everything...salt content... ingredient content, don't settle for crap it's your decision. Eat something good or fill your body with crap.It's really not that hard to do iut right!

Won Ton Soup...easy and delicious , 

Soup base

1 large white onion finely diced

1 cup celery hearts, including leaves, finely diced

2 cloves garlic finely diced

1 laege shallot finely diced

1 box Pomi chopped tomatoes

1T bacon fat

1T olive oil

2 boxes kitchen basics chicken stock

1 box kitchen basics vegetable stock

salt and prpper to taste

garlic and onion powder to taste

11/2 cups white wine

11/2 cups left over won ton filling

Meltbacon fat over medium heat, add olive oil, heat until hot.Then add onions, cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.Add garlic and celery cook another 5 minutes, deglaze pab with wine scraping up any brown bits of fondt, stiring well, add chicken stock, vegitable stock and tomatoes and won ton filling simmer for a couple of hours, until the ingredients have throughly loved each other.

Won Ton Filling

1 lb Chinese pork sausage, casing removed and meat finely chopped

1 lb sweet italian pork sausage,casing removed and meat finely chopped

10 stalks skalions/sometimes called green onions, with the white partfinely diced, discard green leaves.

1 shallot, finely diced

Saute skallionsand shallot in olive oilfor 3-5 minutes until done, add sausage meat and cook 7-10 minutes until sausage meat is cooked.Remove from heat and refridgerate until needed.

The won Tons take only 5 minutes to cook and vwill get soggy if left in the soup base for too long so cook them right before you plan to serve them.

sssembly

Use purchased won ton wrappers, lay arapper flat on counter top or cutting board, put filling in the middle and fold in half until you have a triangle shape.Paint the edge with water or egg whites so they stick together, then take the two points from the longest edge of the triangle and bring those together to form a little pocket. Put on a flat baking pan covered in aluminum foil sprayed with cooking oil cover with foil and refridgerate until needed.

 

 

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         Symbiotic relationships between foods- flavorings and herbs

To be a better cook you must discover/learn about the special relationships certain foods have to flavorings, herbs, spiceetc. A couple of the  ones I know and use are, sesame oil and Brussel Sprouts, Tomatoes and basil,lemon juice and artichokes, bacon and...well everything.Ifyou can find these relationships,All your cooking will be better. in my opinion one of the reasons that recipies handed down from generation to generation are so good is that people over the year have learned how to use these relationship to their best advantage.The right ratio of ingedients, so one does not overpower the other. you want a nice balance of flavors that compliment one another.I'm sure you have had  Peanut Butter cup;this is a perfect example of how two totally different foods work together to make each other better.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS; Note,t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon

I talk to a lot of people about food, I find it interesting to learn of the various food traditions families have, especially during the holidays.One of the most misunderstood foods I have found to be is the Brussel Sprout.People have usually had them whole,boiled,which creates a slimey texture and adds nothing to the flavor.Brussel Sprouts have a cabbage flavor so if you eat them whole the cabbage taste is overpowering,The key to bettering this is the preparation of the sprout,an important step to do before  turning on the heat.A lot of people have not even attempted to make brussel sprouts,I suspectis because of the bad memories of a slimey mouthful of cabbage.The picture to the right is the sprouts cooking

Preparation

.First, cut the white end off of the sprout,this is the end that is attached to the stalk and remove the tough outer leaves.Next cut the sprouts into 1/4 inch slices, you chould now have slices roughly the same size and shape as a quarter, you sould get about 4 pieces per sprout.Next rinse them well and drain..The relationshipthat works with Brussel Sprouts is Sesame oil.

Ingredients

  1 package(25-30 sprouts)

2T olive Oil

1T +1t sesame Oil

2T Pine nuts (AKA Pinoli Nuts)finely chopped and toasted, keep an eye on them as they burn easily

1 sweet onion, finely diced

2 Cloves Garlic, finely diced

1 cup White Wine

1 cup chickenor vegitable stock (I use Kitchen Basics)

1T soy sause

1t Hot sauce of your choice

Cooking     Heat olive oil and sesame oil over medium high hest,in large frying pan,until hot, not smokingote:Do not leave out the sesame oil.Add the onionand garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes.Add sprouts and saute another 3 minutes, allow fondt to develop on bottom of pan.Deglase pan with whie wine,scraping up all the brownedbits,add toasted pine nuts and stock, lower heat, cover and simmer3-5 minutes until done to desired doneness. serve, sit back and watch people that would never eat Brussel Sprouts eat them. Mix soy sause, hot sause and 1t sesame oil together, mix into sprouts when done cooking.Put into a serving bowl and sprinkle toasted pine nuts on top. No chheese or bacon needed

 I urge you to experiment and find those symbiotic relationships that certain foods have with, a flavoring, herbs, and spices you WILL be a better cook, I bet you already know a few yourself.

Shopping

Super Markets are so reagional, The Markets we have here in the North East will vary to what is available in other parts of the country.Where ever you are it's always best to buy from a local farm to support farms and local families like yourself. Local  farms can't supply everything unfortunetly so as far as super markets go, In the North East we have Shaws(too expensive)Stop and Shop(pretty good) and now Wegman's has moved into the northeast.

The best for quality and price however is Market Basket, don't get me wrong I love Wegman's The first time I went into one I think I heard a chorus of Angels singing but they have so much I end up spending more than I normally would.When I retire I'd like to pitch a tent in a wegmans and live there happily ever after.

Equipment

 Most professional cooks prefer a gas cooktop, because they get a wider variety of temperatures. However Electric stoves have come a long way and for my money are the best for a home cook

Especially with the advent of flat ceramic cooktops and electronic controls.The flat ceramic cooktops are so easy to clean, if you have a boilover it doesn't go down into the burner.As far as ovens, get a convection.It cooks faster with better results.We are lucky now in the US to have large brick and mortar appliance stores like Home Depot, Lowes etc. their huge buying power allows great deals, especially if you keep your ete on their web sites for special seasonal offers, these happen a lot in the spring so keep your eyes open.buying appliances from them is also very convinient as  they will deliver the new, take the old away and recycle it, also for a small fee they will move a replaced appliance to a diffrent area of your home.If you get a new fridge thry will move your okd one to the basement, then you can have more room for cold beer.

I live in the northeast, and some people in this area grill all year, personally I look forward to fall when i can switch gears to braising meats,  like stew osso buccosee recipe below, pot roast etc. the technique is easily learned, delicious and it needs minimum nursing during the cooking process.On Sunday often I will get up and start the braising process, then i can watch football all day with no worries and dinner will be ready after the 4:00 game is over. 

BRAISING:Braising is the technique of slow cooking a tougher cut of meat in a liquid for a couple of hours until it fork tender and flavorful.The first step in this process is the searing.To searthe meat, mix about 1 cup of flour ib a deep plate or bowl, add generous ammounts of garlic and onion powder, celery seed, salt and paprika.Mix well with a fork.Meanwhile heat olive oil in a dutch oven or rlarge oven proof pot until oil is hot, not smoking.Oive oil has a very low smoke point so watch it carefully.Unwrap the meat to be braised and pat dry with a paper towel,coat well with the flour mixture, shake off excess and add to hot pot brown the mrat well well on all sides.

.Keep it simple

Some of the best dishes are those that keep thing simple.A few high quality ingedients beat a lot of bad ingredients any day.Some of the best pasta sauces have three maybe four ingredients.One of the reasons food in Italy is so good that they cook reagionally.if you want seafood for instance you most likely will have to travel to the coast to get it.Each part of Italy has reagioal sauces,In Rome it's Armatriciana and carbonara coal miners)sauce;' there is also the putanesca sauce(prostitute sauce)Tuscanny will have more wild game in their dishes with wild mushrooms and herbs.Amatriciana Sauce,  from Cucina Italiana Magazine



One of the best dishes in the Rome region of Italy is Bucatini all'Amatriciana, it has one ingredient that is hard to find in local markets,Guancialle.I've heard it called face bacon, it is a cured portion of the pigs cheeks...think face not butt.you can use panchetta, which is available in most markets but if you want to prepare it like they do in Rome (I do) you'll want to go online and order someguanciale. it is easily found on lineand is worth the extra effort.1 35 oz. can Italian peeled tomatoes, open can pour contents into a large bowl and squeeze the whole tomatoes so they are a more manageable size, If there is a lot of liquid drain through a sieve.5 oz. Guanciale3T extra virgin olive oil1 clove garlic, peeled and finely diced2 medium onion finely diced1t red pepper flakes1/4 cup dry white winesea salt1 lb Bucatini, this can be found in most markets, it is thick spagetti with a hole through it, kind of like a straw.Thick spagetti can also be used.3/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese,takethe time and grate your own.fresh ground black pepper.In a large sauce pan combine guanciale,oil and garlic.Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until garlic begins to turn golden, seven minutes or so.Use a slotted spoon and remove garlic from pot.Add onion and red pepper flakes, cook for another six minutes until onion is softened.add wine, increase heat to medium high and cook another three minutes until wine is mostly evaporated. Add tomatoes, cover and simmer until sauce is ritch and flavorful, about 50 minutes, remove from heat.Boil Bucatini in pot of salted water until desired just beforedesired  doneness, drain pasta and put back into pot, add sauce and continue cooking until desired doneness is reached.Put into serving bowls snd grate cheese over, serve. Spagetti alla carbonara from Cucina Italiana magazineYou see this in a lot of restaurants now, but it is very easy and quick to prepare at home.It was first prepared in the coal mines of Italy ehen the miners wanted a quick and easy sause after a long day in themines.7 oz. panchetta cut into small bits, Italian bacon, salt cured, can be a bit salty, so use less if you want the dish less salty.3 large egg yolks1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano gheeseplus more for the top.Grate your own!!3/4 cup grated Grana Padano Cheese, available in most makets, again grate your own!!freshly ground black pepper3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil1 lb spagetti COOKINGBring salted water to boil in a potMeanwhile, in a medium bowl wisk together cheeses, 1/3 cup waterand egg yolkes along with a generous pinch salt and pepper.in a medium non-stick skillet, combine oil and panchetta cook over medium heat until panchetta is browened, 15 ninutes.about half way through the panchetta cooking process add the spagetti to boiling water, timing is important in this dish so you'll want the pasta and panchetta to be done at the same time.Drain pasta and reserve 2/4 cup of the cooking liquid'take pot off heat retun pasta to the pot, add panchetta and the rendered fat toss to combine. Immediatly add egg mixtre and 2 T ofthe cooking liquid quickly stir to combine, the hot pasta will cook the egg, if too dry add more pasta liquid, serve right away, grate cheese and pepper over top. Are you kidding me?I am constantly amazed  by what americans will do to save a few minutes getting something pre for lunch or dinnerquick and easy pre-made at what cost? Taste, health? what?There ia  national pizza chain advertising right now about their hot and ready pizzas.i ask you.Where was that pizza made? When was it made?What is it made of? okay I;ll answer.I don't know.I don't know and I don't know.Pizza is very easy to make and a homemade pie can be made in less than an hour and you can control, everything, how much cheese, what type of cheese, toppings, salt. I made the pie in the picture in about 45 minutes.I can understand if you are getting a pie made fresh and baked in a brick oven, that you can't do at home, unless you have a back yard pizza oven.But a pie spit out in some factory, months or even years ago, just say NO america! If we continue to settle for crappy food, big food corporations will be glad to continue feeding us this slop, and we will continue to get fatter and fatter and unheathier and unhealthier.Who doesn,t like soup? But we eat the canned stuff with salt andfatup the wazoo, when homemade soup is so good and easy.Recioies to follow so check back later.
sso Bucco,Osso Bucco is a recipe that is seen a lot in italian restaurants now, The essence of the cooking method is to take a t`ough cut of meat, in this case beef or veal shanks, and cook them slowly in a liquid (a method called braising)ingredients2-4 veal or beef shanks2T olive oil2 T all purpose flour1t garlic powder1t onion powder1t Lawrys seasoned salt1 cup red wine2 cups beef stock (I use kitchen Basics)2 cups marinara sauce( purchased or home made)1 large onion, finely diced3 cloves garlic, finely diced1/2 cup cwlery hearts, finely diced,leaves includedCookingMix flour, garlic, onion powder and seasoned salt together.eanwhile, heat oilover medium high heat in a large dutch oveb or similar heavy large pot until hot(not smoking).Searing processCoat shanks completely in flour mixture, and put in hot oil, searing meat in oil on all sides until brown.Remove shanks from pot and place in platter, keep warm by tenting with foil.CookingPut onions,  gsrlicand celery into hot pot, cook 2-3 minutes, until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant.Deglaze pan with red wine, scraping up all the browned bits of fondt.Add beef stock and Marinara sauce to pot, raise heat until slight boil is achieved.Put shanks back into pot, , don't allow meatto boil as meat will get tough and stringey.lower heat, cover and let simmerfor 1-2 hours until shanks are fork tender.Serve with pasta with sauce spooned liberally over things.Grate Parmesan XheeseF over sauce.for an extra treat, eat marrow from center of bones.Lamb shanks can also be used, this is a good dish but not Osso Bucco Polenta.Polenta is corn meal, eaten alone it is not very exciting.With a few additions it is quite good.you won't find it all over Italy until you get to the northeast(venice) where it is a diet staple, you will find it more than pasta in that area.My family does not like it much so i had to get inventive so they eould eat it...I love it.Polenta lasagnePolent can be found it Italian specialty storesand a lot of super markets.Ingedients1 Pkg polenta prepared according to package directions, usually boiled in salted water, when done add butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese,meanwhile spray a non-stick loaf pan with cooking spray (pam)When polenta is done, spoon it into the prepared pan, cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours 2-4 cups tomato meat sauce1-2 cups ricotta cheese1-2 cups fresh grated parmesan cheese, refrigerate ror 1-2 hours.PreperationTurn Polenta out on a cutting board or another clean surface, cut the polenta loaf in 1/2 inch slices, dredge in all purpose flour and fry in oilve oil. In a large baking pan, put a layer of tomato sauce down, on top of that put a layer of polenta slices down and cover with1/3 of the cheeses.Continue layering until you end with the top layer of sauce and cheese.