Monday, August 30, 2021

ChezCindy: Grill "Roasted" Potatoes



I had a craving for roasted potatoes but did not want to turn on the oven to a high heat roasting temperature in the "dogdays" of summer.  So, I turned to my gas grill to meet the craving. 

This is one of those dishes that is more of a process than a recipe.  My main ingredient was Yukon Gold potatoes.  Then I went to the pantry for other vegetables to roast along with the potatoes.  I had sweet Vidalia onions, red onions, poblano peppers, serrano peppers, red bell pepper and garlic.  My must have herb was fresh rosemary from my garden.  This was my combination.  But many other vegetables would work in combination to what you have and what you like.    

Working with a black iron skillet (very grill-proof) I first lined the pan with foil for easy clean-up.  I wanted to be sure the potatoes had direct surface exposure to the heat, so I placed them cut side down in the center of the pan.  Drizzled them with olive oil, with a generous sprinkle of kosher salt.  Then, nestled around the potatoes went the remaining vegetables of peppers, onions and garlic, each cut into pieces.  I gave all another sprinkle of salt and a dash of McCormick's Grill Seasoning for extra zip, with the fresh rosemary placed on top of the potatoes.  The iron skillet went onto the preheated hot grill, temperature around 425-450 degrees.  I cooked the mix of potatoes and vegetable untouched for about 40 minutes.  No stirring, no concern for too much color.  Once the potatoes were cooked through, browned and tender, I removed the pan from the grill.  And only then did I stir to combine.  

The potatoes and vegetables roasted beautifully and were perfect with burgers.  Just what my craving was seeking.  

Sunday, August 29, 2021

ChezCindy: Sundried Tomato Pesto with Gemelli Pasta


The recipe for this Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta came from an Instagram post I saw from Giada De Laurentiis.  Her site is titled giadzy.  The video caught my attention seeing how easy it is to make, but a search of her web site provided the recipe. 

Giada added the sundried tomato pesto to gemelli pasta for a delicious dish shown above.  The pesto is also really good on its own for other uses.  I have used it topped on my morning eggs for a zippy breakfast.  Toss the pesto with roasted zucchini to bring a bright flavor to this mildly flavored vegetable.  It is also makes a wonderful summer appetizer drizzled on toasted sourdough bread with a glass of chilled crisp white wine.  Very summery.  

Sundried Tomato Pesto with Gemelli Pasta
1 jar sundried tomatoes, 7-8 ounces
2 cloves garlic
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

8 ounces gemelli pasta, or similar shape
Additional grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Drain, and set aside.  

Working with a food processor, add the sundried tomatoes, including the oil from the jar, and the garlic, process to combine.  Add in the fresh basil, salt and pepper, process to combine.  Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese.  

Add the drained pasta to the pesto, tossing to coat.  Add in about half of the reserved cooking water to loosen the sauce and help coat the pasta.  Taste the pasta for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed to taste.  Drizzle with olive oil and additional Parmesan cheese and serve.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

ChezCindy: Jammy Breakfast Pastry Twists


I have kept folders of recipes torn from magazines and newspapers for years and years.  Before getting organized with the folders, I simply had stacks of loose paper recipes in no order.  But that was long ago.  Now I have folders with categories labeled by the protein type, vegetable group, two folders for dessert recipes, with a separate folder just for chocolate desserts.  A folder for breakfast recipes, one for quick breads and muffins, sides dishes and sauces, appetizers, and so on.  Of course, now we can find recipes on the internet, blog sites, and way more digital media.  But I still like the paper recipes that I can thumb through, finding what I have in mind.  Pulling out the tattered and stained copy of a well-loved recipe.  

The pastry pictured here was made from a recipe photocopied from Gourmet Magazine 2004.  Their titled name was Glazed Apricot Twists.  Since I was using this recipe for a Young Chefs cooking class, I gave it a new name that they might relate to better:  Jammy Breakfast Pastry Twists.  Not only did they like the name.  They LOVED the pastries!  Below is my adaptation of the Gourmet Magazine recipe.  

Jammy Breakfast Pastry Twists
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, such as Pepperidge Farm
1/2 cup strawberry jam
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cream or half/half

Thaw the puff pastry according to the package directions.  Keep chilled until ready to make the pastries.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large sheet tray with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Remove one sheet of puff pastry from the package.  Store the second sheet in the refrigerator for another use.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry sheet to a 12x10-inch rectangle.  Cut the sheet in half lengthwise.  Cut each half crosswise into 4 pieces, each piece being 5x3-inches for a total of 8 pieces.  Spread each piece with 1/2 tablespoon of jam.  Fold each piece in half lengthwise to form a 1 1/2-inch wide strip.  Twist each strip three times and place the twisted strip onto the parchment paper lined sheet tray, pressing the ends of each strip to hold it in place on the tray.  Repeat with the remaining pieces of pastry.  

Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and puffed.  Remove the tray from the oven, allowing to cool for a few minutes.  Transfer each pastry to a cooling rack set over a piece of parchment paper.  

Combine the powdered sugar with the cream, stirring to form a smooth, creamy glaze.  Using a pastry brush, brush the sugar glaze over the pastries.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

ChezCindy: Shakshuka-style Eggs with Ratatouille


Shakshuka is a North African dish made with simmering tomatoes, onions, and spices with poached eggs.  Here I made it using ratatouille, a dish with origins in the South of France made from summer ripened vegetables including tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers and more.  

I really look forward to this time of year when the summer produce is at it's peak.  With so many colors, shapes and variety of tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, I cannot help but to bring home way more than I can use.  I always make ratatouille, akin to being a slow simmered vegetable stew with an abundance of olive oil to give it richness.  

Last summer I learned that ratatouille can be frozen without compromise in texture and quality.  I made a batch of it out of necessity as the vegetables were getting too ripe.  I made the vegetable stew and decided to try freezing it, not knowing how it would last.  Months later in the deep of winter, I thawed it and heated it to discover it was wonderful, bringing a bit of summer to that cold winter day.  I will be freezing more this summer.  

Ratatouille sounds fancy, but it is simply a farmer's harvest of vegetables.  I use a recipe from Jacques Pepin.  Who better to learn from than the master chef himself.  Below is my interpretation of Chef Pepin's classic ratatouille recipe.

Classic Ratatouille
3/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 medium eggplant, 8-10 ounces, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 medium zucchini, 8-10 ounces, cut into 1-inch cubes
12 ounces yellow onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2-3 bell peppers, cored, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
5-6 medium size ripe tomatoes, coarsely cut into pieces
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Using a large stock pot over medium heat, add 1/4 cup of the olive oil to the pan.  Sauté each of the cut vegetables separately, beginning with the eggplant.  Cook the eggplant cubes for 6-8 minutes until softened.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant to a large bowl.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of oil to the pan, continue sautéing with the zucchini for 5-6 minutes, remove to the same bowl with the eggplant.  Next, sauté the onions and pepper, adding 1 teaspoon of salt and a bit more olive oil, stirring together, cooking for 5-6 minutes until softened, but not browned.  Remove to bowl with the other vegetables.  Add in the tomatoes, chopped garlic, water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper, stirring to cook for 5-6 minutes.  Return all of the cooked vegetables from the bowl to the pan, adding these to the tomatoes.  Stir to combine, bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about an hour, stirring a few times.  

Remove the cover, increase the heat to medium, cook for another 20 minutes to reduce some of the liquid.  Taste for seasoning, adding in more salt and pepper as desired.  Stir in the remaining olive oil, adding more if desired to richen the sauce.  Serve the ratatouille hot or warm with pasta or rice, or spooned over cooked chicken or fish.  Also very good simmered as the poaching liquid for eggs.