Hearth Shaped Cheese Ravioli! (homemade)

Posted by Jimmy | | Posted on 9:59 PM

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Gentleman, Do you need help making an epic Valentine's day dinner? Here is something that might help woo her heart! Being single, I decided to get a little practice in with presentation and how things look.  After all, appearances are the first impression.  Right, ladies? 

So I thought to myself, "Self, What would a your valentine want, if you had a valentine?"  I figured she'd want a home cooked pasta meal that looked great and came from the heart.  

Ha!  So, out came homemade, heart-shaped cheese ravioli's!

Make some fresh pasta into thin sheets.  You can find my recipe here!

Cheese Filling recipe:
1 Cup Ricotta Cheese (drained)
1/2 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan
1 Egg
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and chill for 1 hour to firm up the cheese.

Next take the sheets of pasta and put dollops of  the cheese mixture approximately 2-3 inches apart from each other.  Brush around the cheese with an egg wash and place another sheet of pasta over it.   seal and shape with your fingers.  If you have a cookie cutter it makes it so much easier.  I didn't have one so I cut each one by hand.  It was quite a challenge. 

After you have each one made, make sure you dust them with flour really well.  place them on a cookie sheet and freeze.  This helps the ravioli stay together when you cook them.  Boil in salted water for 4 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.   

The Sauce:
I used a very simple tomato sauce.  It's a sauced I learned by watching random you tube videos! It's a simple San Marzano Basil Sauce.  This sauce is so tasty it doesn't need anything else!!

Ingredients:
3 Garlic Cloves (Chopped)
1 28 Oz. Can of San Marzano Tomatoes (Crushed by hand)
Chopped basil
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Start by heating the oil in a pan over medium heat.  When the oil starts to break apart a bit add the garlic and let it saute for a bit do not burn the garlic so stir it often. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the tomatoes.  You'll get a nice sizzle when you add in the tomato sauce. reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes.   Add in the basil and cook for an additional two minutes. 

Plating: I ladle some sauce on the bottom of the plate,  Place two raviolis on top of the sauce and garnish with grated parmesan cheese and some more basil.  

I love visiting the Italian side of my family!  ;-)

Molto Bene!  Mangia!

Happy Valentines Day!
Don Jimmy

Homemade Chicken Alfredo and Fresh Pasta

Posted by Jimmy | | Posted on 2:09 PM

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Happy Pre-Valentines Day everyone! Even though I am currently single, I feel like I can celebrate this day because of the amount of love I have for everyone!!   Cheesy right?  haha!                   

This past Friday I was graced with the presence of a buddy that I've been getting to know better these past few months.   We've been enjoying each others company and banter about life, God and women.  We have such different personalities but it's been really good to have a friend with counter points to you.

I invited him over for dinner on Friday night because I felt like making some fresh pasta.  I had all the right ingredients (Except the Parmesan Reggiano)  So making this pasta was really cheap.  If you find a good Italian place that makes their pasta fresh, You'll be spending well over $15 a plate for it.  At home, You can make 4 portions of this for about the same price and you won't have to leave a tip!

First let's start off with making Fresh Pasta.  I searched different recipes and got many different ideas but here is a recipe that I came up with on my own using basic pasta ratios.  I love pasta making.  It feeds your tactile sensations while making it.  Prep time: 45 minutes

Pasta Ingredients:
4 Large Eggs
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Cups Semolina Flour
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Kosher Salt
Water

Directions:
I put all the ingredients together and mix with my stand mixer adding enough water until the dough can form a ball on the hook.  Let the mixer "Knead" the dough for about 15 minutes.  The dough should be slightly sticky but not enough to stick to the side of the bowl.  Alternatively if you do not have a stand mixer you can follow the directions on Mario Batali's recipe to knead by hand. After you're done kneading let the dough rest for 20 minutes.   Cut into 4-8 equal size portions, Roll out and Cut.  My stand mixer has all the pasta maker attachments so rolling the dough out is super easy.  We opted to cut the pasta by hand to give it a more Homemade feel.  Make sure you dust your pasta with flour so they don't stick together. 

Cook in salted water for 4 minutes until Al Dente, Drain, Toss with your favorite sauce and serve!   It's so easy and it's especially fun to do if you have kids.


The sauce we used was a classic Alfredo Sauce.  It's a simple recipe I learned from working in the kitchen.  The danger in this sauce is it's very heavy but you just can't seem to get enough of it.  It's so rich and tasty that you want to eat the whole plate and lick the remaining sauce! Prep time: 10 minutes

Alfredo Sauce recipe
Ingredients:
1 stick of unsalted butter
4 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Cup Grated Fresh Parmesan Reggiano
1/4 Tsp Ground White Pepper
1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/4 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
2 Egg yolks
Salt to taste

Directions: 
Melt the butter over low flame.  After the butter is fully melted, add the cream and spices and bring it up to a Luke-warm temperature.   Add the grated cheese and whisk to make sure the cheese gets properly melted into the sauce.   When all the cheese is properly incorporated add in egg yolks and keep stirring till the sauce begins to thicken.  DO NOT ever bring it to a boil, you will scramble the eggs inside the sauce and have a nasty egg drop and cream soup and not a smooth alfredo sauce!  >.< 

Salt and add the sauce to your freshly made pasta and toss.  Top with any kind of protein you want, chicken, shrimp, even salmon and garnish with fresh cracked pepper, chopped parsley, and grated Parmesan cheese.  I topped mine with pan seared Chicken!

I guarantee you that if you make this for your valentines, I guarantee you that she will be impressed.  You will grow pleasantly plump and as you grow old with your love interest. =) I hope you guys try your hand at making fresh pasta, It's quick and totally worth it.

Happy Valentines Day and happy cooking!
Chef de Amore Jimmy

I'm not much of a smoker, but I love pot ...

Posted by Jimmy | | Posted on 7:56 PM

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...ROAST!  What'd you think I meant? huh?  =)

If you complain about not having enough time to cook a decent, tasty, hearty meal, then you should try pot roast in a slow cooker.  You can "set it and forget it!"

I bought myself a slow cooker on black Friday and just now decided to use it.  I've never used a slow cooker before.  This recipe is adapted from one that I discussed with a buddy over the internet.  He said he got a recipe from his mother.  So, I changed it to my liking.

Ingredients For Pot Roast:
3-4 lb of "Pot Roast" meat cut from the store (trimmed then cubed)
2 Cups Baby Carrots
2 Lbs Red New Potatoes Halved or Quartered depending on size
2 Stalks of Celery Cut into 1/4 inch peices
1 Large Onion cut however way you want. 
2 Cans of Campbell's Mushroom Soup
1 packet of Onion soup mix
1 Cup of red wine (Could have used the whole bottle)
4 Tbsp Flour
Water
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Directions:  Rinse off the meat and place on the bottom of the slow cooker.  Place all the vegetables on top.  In a separate bowl mix the soup, onion soup mix red wine and flour.  whisk until smooth and  pour over the veggies.  If you do not have enough liquid, just top it off with water so all the veggies are topped off.    Cook on High for 6 hours.  Taste the broth and add salt and pepper to taste. Be careful not to burn your mouth!  I did.

Tips: 

If you like your gravy a little thicker, just scoop out some gravy into a pot add a flour slurry and heat up and put it back in.  You'll have delicious gravy

******************************************************************

Picture Courtesy of http://www.laissezfare.com
This just in!  Two for one special!  No Asian can resist!!

I had a cooking session with a friend and one of the dishes I made was this Potato Puree.  It is to die for, Very rich and buttery.  So tasty!  I had some left over so I decided to top the pot roast with it even though I had potatoes in the roast already. 




Ingredients for Yukon Gold Potato Puree:
3 Lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes Peeled and boiled
1 Cup Light Cream
4 Tbsp Butter
1 1/2 Cup Milk
Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:  Boil the potatoes till fork tender.   Add the butter, salt and pepper and mash with a masher.   Add the milk and the cream and begin to puree slowly  You want a cream of wheat consistency.  You can also use a blender or a food processor.  I have a magic motorboat wand. That I use to puree the potatoes.

Tips: 

If your potatoes are undercooked, just throw them in the microwave for a few minutes and it'll cook the rest of the way.

Remember not to shut the lid tight on a blender keep the top hole open and cover with a towel.  Pressure can build in a blender and it can explode on you when you handle hot liquids.

I garnished the pot roast with Dried Parsley Flakes and some Paprika for color.

Good cooking relies on your intuition and experience and personal taste.  If you like a certain flavor in your pot roast, go for it.  If you like a sweet gravy, I've heard people adding cola or sprite to their stews. 

Hope you try these out!  Happy Cooking!
-Jimmy

Jimmy had a little lamb ...

Posted by Jimmy | | Posted on 11:27 AM

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Picture from specialfoodrecipe.com
...Leg!!  For Christmas I cooked up a Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Leg of Lamb.   I absolutely adore lamb.  The gaminess of lamb is refreshing when you're stuck eating chicken, beef, turkey or pork all the time.   It's a refreshing change especially for the holidays.

My two buddies Teshun and Jane would always cook lamb for me when I visited them for the holidays.   Cooking lamb this year made me miss the fellowship I would have with them they moved back to the east coast.  As I have said in the past, I like to keep my food simple.  You get good quality ingredients and you let the food shine.  Here is my recipe for rosemary-garlic roasted leg of lamb.



1 4-5 lb boneless leg of lamb
Chopped garlic
Sprigs of rosemary
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste.
Sorry I don't have exact measurement.  That's just how I cook

Directions:  Remove the leaves from the rosemary and make a mixture of olive oil, garlic and rosemary.   Put the leg of lamb in a zipper freezer storage bag and pour the oil mixture into the bag.  Make sure you keep the netting on.   Rub the leg vigorously to mix everything together and place the leg in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  Overnight would be best.  Take the roast out and rub it with salt and pepper to taste.    Preheat your oven to 325F and roast for 20mins/lb for medium rare. 

Remove the roast and check the internal temperature.  It should read 135 before you take it out (roasts will cook another 5 degrees after you take it out) and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before you cut into it.   If you do not let the roast rest, all the juices will fall out everywhere and you will just have a dry piece of meat.

I hope you like lamb as much as I do.  Pair with a delicious red wine of your liking.  I promise you won't regret it!

Stay Cooking!
-Jimmy

Roasted Dill and Garlic Red Potatoes

Posted by Jimmy | | Posted on 11:35 AM

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Photo taken from http://www.foodchannel.com
One of my favorite side dishes is roasted dill and garlic red potatoes.  I know many places have this side dish (like Boston Market) but it just tastes so much better when you cook it the way you want it.  I had this side dish for my Christmas party and it was the first one to go!  I really should have made more.

Red potatoes have less starch content than big russet or Idaho potatoes so they're perfect for roasting.  Tip: If a potato says it's "waxy" means less starch content.  Waxy potatoes are great for roasting and making potato salads as they will not break apart so easily after they're cooked.  I found this great website that explains a little bit about different potatoes and their properties.  Check it out http://www.foodsubs.com/Potatoes.html

Here is my recipe:

2 lbs of New Red Potatoes cut into halves or quarters depending on how large the potatoes are
1/2 cup of chopped dill
1/4 cup of onions
2 tbsp of garlic
3 Tbsp Butter
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions: Prep the potatoes and season them with salt and pepper and coat with olive oil.  Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until fork tender.  In a saute pan melt the butter on medium-high heat when the butter is fully melted, add the garlic onions and dill and saute until the dill is wilted, do not overcook the dill, it should still have a bright green color.   Toss the potatoes and the dill mixture together and serve.   It is a delicious accompaniment to any meat or fish dish! 

Enjoy!
-Jimmy

In the land of Brussels...

Posted by Jimmy | | Posted on 10:25 AM

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Photo taken from http://bebetterblog.tumblr.com/
Sprouts!!  


When it comes to veggies, I like to keep it simple K-I-S-S.  Asian style stir fry!   Some people like to add some kinda cured/salty/smoked pork product to help with the veggie, but I find that it just a way to mask the true flavors of the vegetables.   Truly, if you enjoy eating something you want the properties of whatever it is to shine. You never want to over complicate good food. 

In the case of Brussels sprouts, I find the mild bitterness and sweetness of the sprouts refreshing when paired with a strong gamey flavor of lamb.  To me, it's a perfect combination.   Combine that with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and it's heavenly.  It was a big hit at my Christmas party.  Here's my recipe for simple sprouts!

Brussel Sprouts, Halved
Chopped Garlic
Olive Oil
Kosher or Sea Salt


Directions:  heat a pot of water to boil and add some salt.  Blanche the sprouts for 1 minute.  While the sprouts are blanching, heat up 1 table spoon of olive oil on high heat in a saute pan.  When the oil is hot toss a table spoon of garlic like you would stir-fry.   Scoop out the sprouts with a net or a slotted spoon and add to the saute pan.  Add salt to taste and stir fry until you get slight caramelizing on the sprouts.   If you have a lot of sprouts make sure you stir fry in batches.   Crowding the pan will make caramelizing the sprouts difficult.  I would say at most half a pound of sprouts per batch.

The texture should still be slightly al dente in the middle and soft on the outside.  

Enjoy and stay cooking!

-Jimmy

Pictures of Christmas Food!

Posted by Jimmy | | Posted on 2:35 PM

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My buddies Teshun and Jane Chan got me started on a tradition of having Lamb on special holidays like Christmas and Easter.   This year I made some lamb and seafood with the fixins!!   Enjoy the pictures!

                                                                                                                 


                                                          

                                                                                                  
What you are seeing from Left to right:   Roasted rosemary garlic leg of lamb with mushroom buerre rouge (Not pictured), oyster cornbread dressing, orange honey glazed carrots with a splash of brandy, seared sea scallops, chili lemon shrimp, boiled dungeness crab, Brussels sprouts sauteed with garlic and olive oil and roasted dill red potatoes.

I love holiday meals.  I love cooking for people and having people enjoy what I've created even more so than eating itself.   It just brings me such joy that i can bless others with a skill that God has given me.  Maybe one day I can cook for you? ;-)

Merry Cooking!
-Jimmy