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S: Pasta Jim's Italian Basics

FC: Pasta Jim's Italian Basics

1: It all starts with the freshest ingredients and it doesn't get better than this...

2: Antipasti

3: Marinated Roasted Vegetables For squash, carrots, onions, fennel or eggplant: cut them either vertically or horizontally into uniformly thick slices. The thickness is up to you- the thinner they are the faster they cook. For mushrooms: leave whole, or cut into half (large portobellos may be sliced). For asparagus, fresh onions, celery, green beans and garlic cloves: leave whole For broccoli and cauliflower: break into similar sized florets. Using either a grill or a broiler cook the vegetables until they just brown to your liking, then turn and cook until both sides are equally browned. Each variety of vegetable cooks at different times, so judge when they are ready to turn and when they are done by sight (or taste!), but not by time. While the vegetables are cooking make the marinade by combining 1 part of Vinegar and 3 parts good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil into a bowl then adding salt pepper and any fresh or dry herbs (I like fresh Thyme or dried Marjoram). How much you make and use is really up to the quantity and type of vegetables prepared (mushrooms and eggplant absorb a lot of marinade) along with how much dressing you prefer. It’s trial and error for sure. When vegetables are browned, immediately put them in a bowl and dress with the marinade. The mixture should be only a little oily since the hot vegetables will soak up a lot of the marinade. Let come to room temp, or refrigerate until ready to serve. The vegetables can be stored in an airtight container for a few days, but I think they are best eaten as soon after cooking as possible

4: You also can marinate vegetables by blanching them in boiling water, pouring the dressing over the hot drained vegetables. Remember that the vegetables continue to cook after you drain them, so remove the from the water when they are still crunchy.

5: Eggs in Tomatoes Ingredients: 4 ripe in season tomatoes 4 fresh eggs brought to room temp Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat bottom of pan salt & pepper oregano to sprinkle lightly Recipe: Cut top part of tomato off- seed and core the inside of the tomato making enough room for the egg. If using plum tomatoes cut bottom flat so it will stand up right in a pot. Sprinkle salt lightly over the inside of the tomatoes and drain them upside down on a paper towel for about 10 minutes. Choose a pot large enough to hold all of the tomatoes and deep enough so that a lid will fit tightly. Put enough Extra Virgin Olive oil into the pan just to cover the bottom. Take tomatoes from towel and place them in pan of hot oil. Break an egg into each hollowed out tomato, salt and pepper then cover with lid. Cook for 5 minutes and check doneness of the eggs. When the eggs reach the proper doneness then remove and serve.

6: Basic Tomato Sauce, Marinara Ingredients: 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1- 28oz can of peeled plum tomatoes I medium onion chopped Salt and pepper to taste 1 medium carrot chopped 1T chopped fresh Basil 1 medium stalk celery chopped 2 cloves garlic Recipe: - In a heavy bottom pot (preferably ceramic coated cast iron) heat oil over medium heat. - Put in chopped onions and sauté for 3-5 minutes until translucent, but not brown. - Add chopped carrot and celery to onion and continue sautéing for an additional 5 minutes. Lower the heat if necessary, but don’t let onions burn. - Add garlic and cook for a minute then add the whole can of tomatoes. When the tomatoes start to bubble, lower the heat so that it barely boils and cover. Cook for 45 minutes. - Remove from heat and puree with any of the following: a food mill, blender, food processor, or blending wand. You can make the sauce as chunky or smooth as you prefer. When used as a sauce for pasta: - Boil one pound of fresh or dry pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta water just before draining. - While the pasta is boiling, in a separate pan or pot that is sufficient to hold the pasta put a cup (or more if you like a lot of sauce) in the pan and heat over a medium heat. - Grate one cup (or a mixture) of parmesean, pecerino romano, or grana padano cheese into a bowl. - Cook the pasta one minute less than the directions call for and drain the pasta. Immediately put the drained pasta into the pan with that the sauce has been heated.

7: - Toss the sauce and pasta well adding more sauce if you want. - Now add the cheese a little at a time as you continue tossing the sauce and pasta.The pasta sauce mixture should be creamy. If it isn’t, then add the reserved water 2 tablespoons at a time until the sauce is nice and creamy, but not wet. If the sauce is wet, then continue tossing over the medium heat until creamy. - Finish the dish by removing from heat and mixing in the fresh chopped basil.Serve in heated bowls and pass grated cheese and heated sauce if desired.

8: Chicken Cacciatore Ingredients: 8 pieces of chicken (if using breasts, cut the breasts in half) Extra Virgin Olive Oil to just cover bottom of pan 1 Medium Onion chopped 1 Rib of celery chopped 1 Carrot chopped 2 cloves minced garlic 1 T fresh parsley 1 stalk of fresh rosemary stripped from the stem and chopped cup chicken stock or wine Salt and pepper for chicken 1 28oz can of peeled plum tomatoes Recipe: - Liberally salt and pepper the chicken pieces and add to pan that has been heated with the oil. If the pan is too small to hold all of the chicken then brown the chicken in two batches. - Cook chicken until brown on each side then set aside on a plate. Note: you can lightly dredge the chicken in flour before browning. If you do the sauce is a little thicker and richer, but I prefer without. - With the chicken out of the pan, now add the onions and sauté for 3-5 minutes not letting them burn - Add the carrots and celery and sauté for another 3 minutes being sure to lower the heat if the onions start to brown. - Now add and cook both the garlic, parsley and rosemary for one minute. - Add either cup of stock or wine to pan and scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the vegetables cook for a few minutes. - Re-introduce the chicken to the pan and pour the tomatoes over the chicken pieces. When the sauce starts to boil, lower heat to medium low and cover. - Cook for 20 minutes. - Uncover and cook for another 25 minutes - At this point you can serve the dish, but I like to refrigerate it and serve the next day. It seems that when the flavors have time to rest overnight they intensify.

9: Roast Chicken 1 young Chicken Salt and Pepper Preheat oven to 425 - Wash the inside and outside of bird pat dry. - Salt and pepper cavity and skin. - With chicken in heavy pan put in oven for 20mins - Without opening door, - lower temperature to 325 and roast for 30mins. - Raise temperature to 425 for another 10mins. - When juices from the joints run clear the bird is done. - Let sit for at least 10mins before carving.

10: Fresh Pasta Ingredients: 100 grams of all-purpose flour 1 egg 1 t olive oil 1 pinch of salt Recipe: - Pour flour onto smooth board or counter top making a conically shaped mountain. - With two fingers make a well in the top of the mountain of flour that resembles a volcano. - Crack egg into well then add oil and salt to the egg. - With a fork mix the egg mixture widening the circles with the fork to add more and more flour to the mixture. - Use your hands now to form mixture into a ball then flatten the ball with the heel of your hand. Continue kneading by smearing the dough, folding it in half; rotating the dough; and repeating. - If the dough sticks to the surface add a little flour to the surface and continue kneading. - If the dough is too dry add a little water to the dough. - When the dough is able to form a nice firm smooth ball cover it with a towel and let sit for as little as 15 minutes or up to 2 hours. The resting time is important. - When the dough has rested, flatten it out and prepare it for the pasta machine. - Now pass the dough through the pasta machine starting at the thickest setting and reducing the thickness each time through. - After the pasta is as thin as you desire use the cutting blades on the machine, or dust the long sheet with flour, roll up like a jellyroll and cut into strips as thin as your finger- then unroll. - If you don't have a pasta machine you can roll the pasta on your floured surface as thin as possible. Then, dust the top of the sheet with a sprinkling of flour and roll the pasta up. After the pasta is rolled like a jellyroll, immediately cut the roll into strips the thickness of your finger and then unroll.

11: Pici - Make the fresh pasta using 2T of oil and a little watter instead of the egg. - Roll the pasta until it is about 1/8" thick and then cut into 1/8" inch strips. - Take strips and rub between your hands making a long thin snake. Or roll the strips on a board to make them even thinner. - Boil the strips and serve with tomato sauce. | (above) Pici is a traditional pasta that is easy to make and fun for guests to get in on the action. It is traditionally served with a ragu. (right) Orrechietti is also easy to make. Roll small pieces of pasta dough into a ball, flatten with the tines of a fork. Pulling the fork so as to cause the pasta to curl.

12: Rici Bici 1/4 lb. of pancetta or guanciale 2T Olive oil 1/2 large onion chopped 1/4 cup white wine 1 cup frozen peas thawed 2 cups Risotto rice 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth 1 cup Parmesan Reggiano -On a medium low heat saute the smoked pork - When the bacon has rendered, but before it has crisped add the onions. - After the onions are translucent raise heat to medium and the rice - cook for 2 mins. then add the wine and cook for 2 more mins. - Add the peas and 1cup of the simmering broth. When the broth is absorbed add another 1/2 cup of broth, repeating the process until all of the broth is absorbed. - Take off the heat and add the cheese. - Adjust the salt and pepper to taste and serve

13: Asparagus Risotto Ingredients: 1/2 stick butter 6 Cups chicken or vegetable broth 1lb. Fresh Asparagus 2 cups Risotto rice 1/2 large Onion chopped 1 cup Parmesan Reggiano 1/4 cup white wine Recipe: - Wash Asparagus and cut tender part of spear into 2" pieces reserving the tips in a separate bowl. - Saute the onion in large pan until translucent - Heat the broth and asparagus stalks in a separate pan to a simmer (you can do this in the microwave). - Add the rice to the onions and saute for a few minutes until rice looks chalky. - Add wine and cook for 2 mins. - Add 1 asparagus stalks and 1 cup of heated broth. - When rice has absorbed the liquid add another 1/2 cup of broth and repeat until all of the broth has been used. This should take between 20 and 30 mins. - Off of the heat, add the grated cheese and serve.

14: Cantucci di Prato: Biscotti Ingredients: 300 grams of all purpose flour 300 grams of sugar 1 t baking powder a pinch of salt 3 eggs 175 grams of unsalted almonds Recipe: Combine all of the dry ingredients on a smooth board or countertop. Mix them well to make sure they are completely combined. Form the dry ingredients into a mountain then make a well in the center that looks like a volcano. Crack one of the eggs into the center and with a fork start to mix. When the egg and dry ingredients start to thicken, add the second egg and repeat mixing more of the dry with the wet. Finally repeat with the last egg. With your hands form the mixture into a very sticky ball. Flatten the ball and pour the almonds onto the dough. Press all of the almonds into the dough and return it to a ball. Cut the ball in half and form the halves into logs. Place the logs lengthwise on a well buttered sheet pan. Bake in 350 for 30 min and then check. Lightly press the top of the log if your finger easily makes a dent in the dough continue baking for 5 min and then check again. When the logs resist the light touch of your finger then remove the logs from the oven. With a very sharp knife, cut the logs into “ strips. Turn the cantucci on to their sides and return to the oven for 5 min. After 5 minutes turn the cantucci over and bake for 5 more minutes. Remove the cantucci from the oven and move to a cooling rack. When cooled the cantucci should be very crunchy and are best dunked.

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  • By: Linda D.
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