Friday, April 11, 2014

Mediterranean Ham Pasta


* 2 servings of your choice of pasta (I used a Ukrainian egg pasta here)
* 1 1/2 thick slice from a cured smoked ham, fat and all, cubed into 1/2" cubes
* 1/2 cup assorted pitted olives, chopped
* 1/4 cup olive tampenade
* 1/4 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
* 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes in olive oil, not sliced
* 1/2 cup frozen peas
* Parmesan cheese for garnish
* 3 cloves garlic - chopped
* 1/4 cup white wine
* 1/4 cup (approx) pasta water reserved from making pasta
* Optional parsley for garnish
* Plain EVOO for saute
* Single source Italian or Greek EVOO for dressing


Prep pasta:
1) Prepare pasta in salted water, should be a little bit firmer than al dente - time varies by pasta type
2) Drain water into a bowl, so that you can use it later, when draining pasta. Set pasta aside in a cool container so it doesn't continue to cook
3) If you are experienced with pasta you can do this while sauteing the other ingredients. If not prepare it ahead of time.

1) Heat 2 tbsp plain EVOO in a cast iron skillet till almost smoking
2) Add garlic and ham, continually stir fry until the fat from the ham starts to gel and the ham starts to brown.  Ham is ALREADY COOKED so don't overdo this step.
3) Once ham is sizzling away add the olives, Tampenade, artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes
4) Saute for a few minutes in the hot oil and fat from the ham, stirring constantly until you can smell the olives cooking.
5) Just before ready to add pasta add salt and pepper to taste, add frozen peas.  If using fresh peas add them a little earlier
6) Add 1/4 cup white wine and reduce for a couple minutes and 1/4 cup pasta water and bring to a boil.
7) Add pasta to bring up to temp and warm through, pasta should be al dente
8) Transfer immediately to a bowl and pour 2-3 tblsp of high-end EVOO and mix thoroughly
9) Serve while hot, grate parmesan over top to taste.  If you want garnish with whole parsley.

Goes well with an Italian White Wine or a Semi-Sweet Reisling.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Szechuan Chicken stir fry

Szechuan chicken stir fry


* 1/2 of a yellow pepper chopped into squares...
* 1/2 of a red pepper chopped into squares
* Thinly sliced carrot (1)
* Thinly sliced parsnip (2)
* 3 celery stalks sliced thinly
* 4 green onion (scallion). Chop and separate dark green from light green
* 1 yellow onion sliced thin
* Fresh Bean Sprouts
* 2" piece of ginger, grated

* 2 chicken breasts, marinated in teriyaki sauce for at least 8 hours, then sliced into bite size pieces
* Szechuan pepper
* Potato starch
* Peanut oil for frying

* 1/8 cup Aged dark soy
* 1/8 cup Oyster sauce
* 2 Tbsp. potato starch mixed with cold water.
* Szechuan pepper
* Salt and pepper to taste


Drain and pat the chicken dry, slice across the grain into bite size pieces. Mix potato starch and 1/2 tsp. - 1 tsp. of freshly ground Szechuan pepper. Dredge each piece of chicken in the potato starch and pepper and set aside on a plate. Heat peanut oil in wok over high heat. Slide (Carefully) each piece of chicken in batches of 4-6 pieces into the hot oil and fry until light brown on each side. Use a slotted spatula to flip and take the pieces out with tongs. Place cooked chicken on a paper towel on a plate to drain the oil. Each piece should be crispy on the outside, and cooked through and moist on the inside. If your chicken comes out oily or soggy you don't have enough heat. If it is smoky or the chicken is brown outside but not cooked through the heat is too high.  Once all the chicken is cooked, carefully pour the oil off and wipe the pan clean with paper towels being careful not to burn yourself. Return the pan to the stove..

Add 2 tblsp of peanut oil to hot wok, and put in the grated ginger. Fry ginger till it starts to turn brown. Add the onion and the white part of the scallions and stir fry until the onion is translucent and just beginning to brown. Add the carrot, parsnip and celery, and stir fry for another 1-2 minutes, add the pepper and stir fry another 1-2 minutes.

Add the dark soy sauce, and oyster sauce to the pan and heat until boiling. Add the green onions and sprouts to the pan, and quickly toss to mix all the ingredients and the sauce. Add cold potato starch and water slowly while stirring to thicken the mixture. Once the sauce is the right consistency, add the chicken back into the stirfry, mix and heat through. Taste and add salt, pepper and Szechuan pepper as needed.  Remove from heat and serve with white or brown rice and a side salad.

Optional add-ons - baby bok choy sliced in 1/2, Nappa cabbage, garlic with meat.