Tuesday, April 23, 2024

ChezCindy: Spring Puttanesca with Linguine Pasta


Classic puttanesca is traditionally made with big bold flavors, most always including tomatoes and/or tomato paste, along with capers, olives, and garlic.  Punchy, fragrant and enticing in so many ways.  

This recipe brings a curve ball eliminating the tomatoes and leading off with a line-up of spring players.  I use wild ramps, a wonderful aromatic allium only found in early spring.  It has the flavor combination of leeks and garlic.  Check the local farmers markets in April to score this treasure.  If ramps are not available, the market will likely have spring onions, a cousin to common grocery store green onions, or scallions.  I'm also including herbaceous spring salad greens such as baby arugula or spinach.  

Anchovies, or not.  They offer such depth of flavor.  You can leave them out or substitute white miso paste or Worcestershire sauce.  Pasta choice for this recipe is linguine, but your favorite or what you have available is good too.  That is the beauty of puttanesca as it uses mostly pantry staples, onions, garlic, olives, capers, Calabrian peppers, and traditionally, canned tomatoes.  An easy go-to that is quick to bring to the table.  This classic change-up will score big with your loved ones.  

Spring Puttanesca with Linguine Pasta

1-pound uncooked linguine
1 large bunch ramps, or 2 spring onions, or 6 green onions
1/2 cup olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1-ounce flat anchovy fillets in olive oil, or 1 tablespoon white miso paste, or 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup capers, drained
2 teaspoons jarred Calabrian chilies in oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted and coarsely chopped (or your favorite olive)
3 cups loosely packed baby arugula
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley

Additional olive oil for serving

Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil.  Add in 2 tablespoons of salt and the linguine, stirring to keep the pasta from sticking together.  Cook for 2 minutes less than the time listed on the pasta package.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain.  Set aside.

While the pasta cooks, thinly slice the ramps, or onions, separating the bulbs form the greens.  Thinly slice the garlic, chop the olives and the parsley.  Set aside.  Measure out all other ingredients as the cooking process moves quickly.  Best to be ready with each ingredient.

Working with a large high-sided pan, such as a Dutch oven, over medium heat, add in the olive oil, cooking for 1 minute.  Add in the prepared ramp bulbs or onion bulbs, garlic, anchovies or substitute, drained capers, and chilis, stirring to combine, cooking for about 3-5 minutes, until the anchovies have melted in and the ramp bulbs begin to soften.  Increase the heat to medium-high, add the wine, stirring often, cooking for 2-3 minutes until the wine is nearly evaporated.  Stir in the olives and ramp/onion greens stirring often until heated through, about 2 minutes.  

Add in the pre-cooked pasta, reserved pasta water, simmer and tossing to combine, about 3-4 minutes.  Off the heat, fold in the arugula and parsley, allowing the pasta to absorb the water, about 3-5 minutes.  Divide among serving bowls, drizzle a bit more olive oil on top and serve.  

Saturday, April 6, 2024

ChezCindy Ligurian Olive Oil & Citrus Cake


Liguria is one of Italy's best regarded regions known for its terroir for olive trees and the subsequent production of extra virgin olive oil.  Ligurian olive oil has a fruity more delicate flavor that enhances the ingredients it is paired with.  Using it here in this recipe for Olive Oil Citrus Cake results in a cake with a golden hue and a moist crumb.  The cake does not taste like olive oil nor citrus, but more of a well-balanced bite that leaves you wanting more.  Offering a cake uniquely different than one made with butter.  

Ligurian Olive Oil & Citrus Cake 
1 1/2 cups Ligurian extra virgin olive oil
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups whole milk
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
zest and juice of 1 large orange
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Using a 9-inch springform pan, lightly butter and flour the bottom and sides of the pan, or evenly spray with baking spray.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, setting the springform directly onto the parchment.  Set aside.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the olive oil and eggs, whisking until smooth.  Add in the milk, lemon juice and zest, orange juice and zest, and the sugar.  Whisk until combined and smooth.  

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a separate small bowl, whisking to combine.  With the mixer turned off, add the flour mixture to the bowl of the stand mixer, gently whisking until just combined.  Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl, whisking again for just a minute.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan.  Place the sheet pan with the filled springform into the preheated oven, baking for 80-85 minutes.  As the time comes close to 70 minutes, check the top of the cake to be sure it is not browning too quickly before the cake is done.  If so, place a large sheet of foil loosely over the springform to prevent excess browning.  Test the cake for doneness at 75 minutes to gauge the baking time.  The cake-tester or toothpick should come out clean with just a few crumbs attached.  Continue baking at 5-minute intervals until the cake is fully baked.  Remove from the oven, allowing it to cool completely before removing the outer ring of the springform pan.  Serve with fresh berries if desired.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

ChezCindy: Shrimp Burger Sliders


This delightful sandwich has become my personal go-to dinner when I am home alone, free to make anything I desire.  I turn shrimp into a slider sandwich, topped with a remoulade sauce, that pairs really well with a sparkling brut rose wine.  Very indulgent for just me and the pups.  Although, they're not eating shrimp.  Maybe just a few potato chips.  

The key to making the shrimp burgers it to puree a portion of the shrimp in a food processor, keeping the remaining shrimp in a rough chop.  The pureed shrimp, combined with the chopped, keep the burger from falling apart as the natural gelatin in the shrimp creates the necessary binding factor.  So, the burger is 100% shrimp with no extra fillers to bind it together.  

I top the shrimp burgers with my remoulade sauce, which is a what I serve with chilled shrimp cocktail instead of the standard red horseradish sauce.  The burgers are quick cooking in a skillet, served on a toasted bun.  A simple garnish of sliced Roma tomatoes is all I use.  

Shrimp Burger Sliders
1-pound medium shrimp (16-20 count)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
a few grinds of black pepper

Slider bun of choice 
butter for toasting the buns
Roma tomatoes, sliced

Prepare the remoulade sauce.  Set aside.  

Working with a small food processor, place about 1/3 of the shrimp into the processor bowl.  Pulse to create a rough puree of shrimp.  Remove the pureed shrimp, to a small bowl.  On a cutting board, roughly chop the remaining shrimp into small 1/2-inch pieces.  Combine these with the pureed shrimp.  Season with salt and pepper, stirring to combine.  With slightly wet hands, form the shrimp into small 2-inch patties, basically to fit the size of your slider bun.  

Heat a medium size non-stick skillet over medium heat, drizzle with a bit of oil.  Add the shrimp burgers to the hot pan, cooking on side one for about 3 minutes.  Flip each shrimp burger to continue cooking on side two for another 3 minutes.  These are small so they will cook quickly.  If you decide to make larger size burgers, adjust cooking time accordingly.  The internal temperature should read as 145 degrees.  Remove to a plate to rest.  

Meanwhile, prepare the slider buns for toasting by buttering the buns, placing in a hot grill pan or skillet, toasting until lightly brown.  

Place a shrimp burger onto the bottom toasted bun, top with a generous amount of remoulade sauce, add sliced Roma tomatoes.  Serve immediately.  

Remoulade Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon course ground mustard
a few shakes of hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
1 large garlic clove, finely minced 
1 tablespoon finely chopped cornichon pickles
1 tablespoon capers, drained, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Prepare all ingredients as listed.  Add to a small mixing bowl, mixing well to combine.  Taste for season, adjust as desired, adding more of what you like best.  I like more capers, but you might prefer more chopped shallots.  Add hot sauce as you prefer.