Cooking and Gadgets

benedettocavapasta.jpgI come home from work, I’m exhausted from running around shopping and cooking, but wait! It’s not over! I have to shop and cook for dear Mom. But there are those days that the thought of stepping foot in another food store / ethnic grocery / supermarket / even, yes, even a farmers market is more than I can bear. And in a really stupid move I didn’t bring anything home from my restaurant Angeli in a take out box. But wait! Now I remember, I have my secret stash of it’s simple stupid ingredients waiting for me in the pantry.

First I make myself (if it’s over 75 deg) a Gin and Tonic or (if it’s over 90 deg) a Michelada. Aside for drink recipe – Take out a big glass. Fill it with ice.  Add a healthy squeeze of fresh lime or lemon, some squirts of Tapatio or Tabasco, Worchestershire or Soy Sauce and some inexpensive light beer. Gulp and wait till your temperature drops and you feel like someone cracked an egg on your head.

Ahhh, now I feel better. It’s time to make Spaghetti Aglio e Olio garbage style. I always have (or try to) a couple of pounds of Benedetto Caveliere’s Spagattoni around. You can only buy it at Williams-Sonoma and it’s shockingly expensive, but worth it just for moments like this.

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applecorerGrowing up in New England, fall usually meant a trip to a nearby orchard to pick a bushel or two of locally grown apples. Most orchards sold more than just apples, they also had jugs of fresh Apple Cider (the official beverage of my home state, New Hampshire) which, until recently, was nearly impossible to find in California. The have plenty of apple drinks labeled “cider” but because most cider is pasteurized, which is quite different in taste and texture than unpasteurized cider.

Pasteurization is a result of health and safety concerns, primarily due to E. coli outbreaks from unpasteurized apple cider, and now all apple cider sold in the United States, other than sales directly to consumers by producers - such as juice bars, farmers’ markets, and roadside farm stands, must be pasteurized.

If good sanitation practices are followed, the risk from unpasteurized cider is negligible, so I prefer to seek out unpasteurized cider at my local farmer’s market. I use it quickly as it has a limited shelf-life, although it can be frozen for use throughout the year.

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redsnapperFish seldom make a midweek dinner, but that shouldn't be a reason not to make this quick and easy recipe tonight. Most people think fish is too fussy to prepare and cook, so it's usually made on rare occasion. However, fish should be eaten at least twice per week for their many nutritional values including omega-3 fatty acids.

What better way to add fish to your diet than by using the easiest of methods, baking. With one fish per person, this recipe works well for a quiet evening alone or a rowdy dinner party among friends. Enjoy a healthy meal in well under a half an hour any day of the week.

Red snapper is one of the most popular fish. It's flavorful, flaky, and tender. It has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor that is complemented by many spices and fresh herbs. This recipe features the flavors of lemon and tarragon, with lemon adding a hint of citrus and tarragon lending an anise flavor. On the outside the fish is sprinkled with saffron for a unique flavor and earthy aroma.

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Pasta BagsI’m a pasta snob.  I admit it and I don’t apologize for it.  I believe that great pasta is an Italian cultural artifact that’s been given to the world.  And when I talk about pasta I’m talking about DRY PASTA, that is, Durum Wheat pasta.  Pasta made with semolina  from exceptional (now, often North American) hard winter wheat.

Over centuries Italian artisans learned how to combine hard wheat with water, humidity and moving air into an easy to store source of calories and whimsy.  High quality dry pasta is all about texture.

When properly made it is porous enough to absorb condiments or “sauce”, yet sturdy enough to withstand boiling in water and remain resistant while tender.  Good dry pasta should be as satisfying to eat as meat.  It is not easy to achieve and my favorites are all imported from Italy.  

 

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lemonchickenOne of this Farmer’s favorite meals is a basic meat, veggie, and salad trio dolled up and flavored for the season. With summer in full swing, fresh herbs are abounding in the garden and flavoring my favorite basic meal with seasonal flair.

Basil...what a delicious flavor, smell, and plant in general. There are as many types of basil as you could ever imagine. ‘African Blue’ is one of my favorites for its small leaves, intense flavor, beautiful flower, and fabulous fragrance. With basil bolting, blooming, and bursting in the garden now, I’m using it now as my herb de jour.

Pairing well with lemon, garlic, and chives, I concocted a vinaigrette of the aforementioned herbs and fruit for a salad. This dressing fares well as a fresh condiment for the grilled chicken. I like to weave my flavors throughout my meal thus carrying a theme from course to course. With herbed vinaigrette on tap, an herb infused marinade for the chicken was in store.

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