Monthly Archives: April 2010

French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

So, there’s store-bought vanilla ice cream and there’s this rich, decadent, creamy, custard-y, fresh vanilla bean studded stuff that’s like creamed crack. You definitely won’t find this in a little cardboard container with a quirky name and a cartoon drawing. Sorry to have to do this to you, but this homemade French vanilla bean ice cream will set your ice cream “bar” wayyyyy high. Oh, and it’s French because it’s made with a custard base…which means it’s made with egg yolk…which means it’s better than just milk…which means you need to make this now.

3 Key components before starting:

  1. Ice Cream Maker (I use a Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker attachment for the Stand Mixer)
  2. Vanilla Beans
  3. Time and patience
Makes 1QT
Time: Mostly passive time while cream infuses, chills, then freezes. All in all about 20 mins is actually spent getting your hands dirty.

Get yourself:

  • 2 Vanilla beans
  • 1C Whole milk
  • 2C Heavy cream
  • 3/4C sugar
  • 6 Egg yolks (Large)

Printable Recipe

Grab a couple of vanilla beans and split down the length of the pod using a pairing knife

Scrape out the vanilla bean “caviar” using the dull side of the knife

Set caviar aside

Combine milk, sugar, vanilla caviar, and vanilla pods in a heavy bottomed pot

Heat over medium-low flame until wisps of steam begin to rise off of milk

DO NOT BOIL, gracias

Once milk warms, kill flame, cover, and set aside to steep for an hour

After one hour is up, build an ice water bath

Big bowl with ice and water – 2qt glass bowl inside big bowl – sieve on top

Grab your heavy cream

Pour heavy cream into glass bowl so it stays super cold

Go reheat your infused milk mixture in the pot

Same deal, just warm it over medium-low flame

While milk warms, combine egg yolks in bowl

Don’t forget about your milk…

…Temper Time…

Grab a ladle-full of the warmed milk…

Carefully add the warmed milk little by little to the egg yolks while constantly stirring

This is tempering, the goal is the incorporate the milk into the egg yolks without cooking the yolks

…Custard Time…

Add the tempered mixture back to pot and heat over medium flame while…

…CONSTANTLY STIRRING with a rubber spatula

The spatula is good at preventing the custard from sticking to the bottom of the pot

Stir for 10 mins

Stop whining, man up…it’s worth the effort

Once custard is thick enough to coat the spatula without running…

Pour the custard through the sieve

Press the custard through the sieve using spatula

Stir the mixture to combine

This is your ice cream in liquid form

Taste…

Pop the bean pods into the cream, cover, and chill overnight

Once your cream is thoroughly chilled, set up your ice cream maker

Pluck pods out of cream and pour into base of ice cream maker

Begin to process

After about 10-12 minutes it begins to freeze and grow

After ~25mins you’ll have soft serve ice cream…

Taste (eyes roll into back of head)

…one more step before you indulge…

Pour ice cream into a glass bowl and lay Saran wrap on top of the ice cream

Press down lightly to adhere the Saran wrap to the ice cream

Freeze for a few hours

Look at that scoop action!

Make yourself a big bowl and indulge, you deserve it

In mine and wifey’s honest opinion…

…it tastes a bit like creme brulee…

…just throwin’ that out there

Don’t toss those vanilla bean pods!

Rinse, dry, and stick into your sugar for amazing vanilla infused sugar

Bravo

Tilapia Oreganata

Gotta switch things up a bit…can’t always be eating meat and pasta…at least that’s what Mom says. Tilapia is a great white fleshed fish that takes well to any preparation and when cooked properly is flaky and velvety. I like to make most of my fish Oreganata style, which is simply fish encrusted with seasoned breadcrumbs and baked. I’ve been on a Panko kick lately so when I came across the Tilapia I immediately thought about using Panko instead of only regular seasoned breadcrumbs…I’m glad I did…you will be too…

Prep time: 15mins
Cook time: 20mins
Serves: 4

Get yourself:

  • 4 Fresh Tilapia fillets
  • .5C Panko
  • .25C Seasoned bread crumbs
  • .5C Pecorino-Romano grated
  • 1.5T Fresh Parsley chopped
  • 8 Cloves roasted garlic
  • 1t Dried oregano
  • .5t Garlic powder
  • 2T Extra virgin olive oil
  • .5C White wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • .5 Fresh lemon, juiced
  • 4T Butter, melted
  • 1/8t Kosher salt
  • .5t Black pepper
  • Preheat oven to 350F

Printable Recipe

Grab some thick fresh fillets and dry thoroughly

Rub 2 cloves of roasted garlic into each fillet

The garlic will melt right into the flesh

Don’t be too rough though you’ll smoosh the flesh…

…nice-n-easy…

Pop open a bottle of white

Pour a  glass, make sure it tastes good…

…get back to cooking…

Drizzle some olive oil in a Pyrex large enough to hold all of the fish

Pour the wine into Pyrex

Crumb mix:

Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parsley (save a little parsley for garnish)

Mix it all up

Now add the lemon juice and olive oil

Stir

Mixture should be crumbly NOT pasty

Lightly pack the crumb mix on top of fillets

Note: you are not dredging the fish

Drizzle the melted butter directly over the fillets

Bake uncovered in a 350F oven for ~20mins

Check after 15mins by pulling at the flesh with the tines of a fork

Flesh will flake off in layers when cooked

Crumbs should take on a nice golden hue

Serve Tilapia over a bed of sautéed spinach

Light, buttery, velvety, zesty, garlic-y

If you’ve been meaning to eat more fish, well, here’s an excuse…

Enjoy!

Mozzarella in Carrozza

Leave it to those crazy Italians to take a grilled cheese sandwich and batter it up then deep fry it. Mozzarella in Carrozza (Mozzarella in a carriage) is like a gangsta’ grilled cheese mozzarella stick hybrid sorta thing. You’ve probably seen it on an Italian restaurant menu and you may have even ordered it or its cousin Spiedini di Mozzarella. So…since I’m all about bringing the restaurant experience home…I decided to throw this recipe up so you can do the same…

You feel me?!

Prep time: ~10mins
Cook time: ~10mins

Get yourself:

  • 8 Slices sandwich bread or Italian bread sliced at least 1/4″ thick with crusts trimmed off
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1T Parsley
  • 4T Pecorino-Romano
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 4 Slices block mozzarella sliced thick and about the size of the bread
  • 2 Fresh mozzarella balls
  • 1.5C Plain Panko breadcrumbs
  • .5C Seasoned bread crumb (I use 4C)
  • 1C AP Flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Enough vegetable oil for frying
  • Deep fryer or heavy bottomed pot for frying
  • Tongs
  • Plate lined with paper towels
  • Candy thermometer if you’re not using a deep fryer

Printable Recipe

Ready for this?!

Get the fryer going @ 350F

If you don’t have one…definitely worth the investment..

I’m just throwin’ it out there…

Combine eggs, parsley, grated cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl

Beat it up

Should be fluffy with no visible unbroken egg whites

Combine your crumbs

My assembly line

Ford would be proud

Slice up the block and fresh mozz

You can use either or, but I like the combo

Make a cheese sandwich

Block mozzarella goes down first followed by the fresh mozz

Ready to get dunked

Dredge all sides in flour

Tap lightly to get rid of excess flour

Then hit it with the egg and pack on the crumbs

Set aside and repeat with the rest of sandwiches

Drop it in the oil…

That’s a beautiful site…

Dry on a plate lined with paper towels

It’s like the most awesome mozzarella stick ever…

Look at that…

Break into that crust like a molten lava cake…

Let the cheese ooze out…

Dip in a little fresh marinara sauce…

Stare at the other 3 sandwiches fresh out the fryer and debate eating them…

…all

Mangia!!

Panko Roasted Asparagus

I know I can hear you…”Joe, you have all these entrees, where the heck are the sides?!”

Panko roasted asparagus are my go to side for almost any dish. In my house we refer to the crispy panko crumbs as “crunchies” as in, “babe, sprinkle mad crunchies on my asparagus!” The crumbs are infused with some Pecorino Romano and seasoning then bound together with good quality evoo. Off the hook! The side dish is lite, healthy, fun, delicious, and EASY! You’re gonna love this one…

Prep time: 5mins
Cook time: 15mins
Serves: 4-6

Get yourself:

  • 1 Bunch asparagus
  • 2T Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3C Plain or seasoned Panko
  • 1T Pecorino Romano
  • 1t Dry mustard
  • 1t Garlic Powder
  • .5t Pepper
  • .25t Kosher salt
  • Ziploc bag
  • Preheated oven to 450F

Printable Recipe

Prep the asparagi…

Break off ends

Rinse

Dry

Add olive oil first

You want oil to adhere to stalks, but they shouldn’t be sopping wet

I used ~2T evoo, you may need more

Eyeball it (best kitchen gadget you have)

Next, toss your dry ingredients into a Ziploc bag

Shake it like a salt shaker…

Shake it like a Polaroid pictureeeeeeeeee

Drop ’em onto a foil lined baking tray

Drizzle a lil evoo over stalks for good luck

Make sure crunchies are evenly dispersed over asparagus…

Bake in 450F oven for 15mins

The asparagus should be bright green and still have a bite

Don’t overcook until they wilt…

…not cool…

Crispy, golden, crunchy, savory, cheesy, asparagusy

You never thought a side dish could be so…

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!

Chicken Renee

Here’s a slick twist on chicken cutlets that a relative came up with. Instead of an egg batter and deep fry, these beauties are quickly dipped in good quality extra virgin olive oil and coated in a bread crumb mix infused with Pecorino Romano cheese, Panko crumbs, seasoned bread crumbs, and fresh parsley. The flavor is incredible and since they’re dipped in panko and grilled they have a nice crunchy crust. Clean the leaves off the outdoor grill and start ‘er up because spring is here and it’s time to grill my peoples.

Prep time: ~15mins
Cook time: ~15mins
Serves 4

Get yourself:

  • 8-10 Chicken cutlets
  • 1.5C Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1C Bread crumbs (I use Seasoned 4C Brand)
  • 1C Panko crumbs (Seasoned 4C Brand)
  • .5C Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2T Fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2t Garlic powder
  • 1t Dry mustard
  • 1t Dry oregano
  • 1/2t Cayenne pepper powder (not flakes)
  • 1t Black pepper

Printable Recipe

Mix all of your dry ingredients together + fresh parsley in a shallow dish

Set aside

Pour the oil into a separate shallow dish

Set aside

Grab yo chicken and dry the hell out of it with paper towels so oil adheres

Here’s the deal…

Cutlet-Dip in oil-Dip in crumbs-Dip in oil-Dip in crumbs-Shake-Grill-Eat

Quick dip the cutlet and let excess oil drip off

Hit with some of that crumb mix

Quick dip in oil again

Hit with more crumbs

You can pack the crumb on with your hands and just hold up and gently shake…

…so excess falls off

There they is…breaded and ready for the heat…

Word to the wise…

Spray the $#%@ out of the grill with Pam

Preheat grill on high and before you drop chicken on…

reduce to medium-low

More words to the wise…

Watch the cutlets because a little oil might drip and cause flare ups

Grill for ~5 mins per side

Last set of words for the wise…

Be gentle with cutlets…I like to transfer the cutlet to a spatula and…

…gently push the cutlet onto the grill grates using tongs…

Don’t play shuffle board with the cutlets or breading will fall apart…

…nice ‘n easy…

Oh damn, look at those grill marks!

Ahhh….this crust is bangin’

Cheesy, crunchy, savory…

Fresh and fruitiness of the evoo…

Moist and tender chicken…

That’s what’s up!

Serve with a side of panko roasted asparagus…

This is going on your recipe rotation…

Enjoy!!

Mezzi Rigatoni Tossed w/ Sausage, Grape Tomatoes, and Fresh Mozzarella

Leftover ingredients + forced creativity = awesome unexpected dinner. I had sausage from the Scarpariello frozen and fresh mozzarella + sauce leftover from pizza Friday night. Plus, I wanted to use some of the goodies that I made recently like chicken stock and roasted peppers. A little kitchen alchemy and viola a new dish is born!

Prep time: 5mins
Cook time: 15mins

Get yourself:

  • 1lb Sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1lb Mezzi Rigatoni
  • 2C Tomato sauce
  • 2C Fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 1C Roasted peppers, drained, rinsed, sliced into strips
  • 2C Grape tomatoes
  • 1C Chicken broth
  • 6 Cloves roasted garlic, mashed or 3 cloves fresh minced
  • 1T Olive oil
  • 1T Capers, non-salted
  • 1T Dry oregano
  • 1T Chopped parsley
  • 1t Garlic powder
  • 1t Asian Chili-Garlic sauce
  • 1t Smoked paprika
  • S&cracked pepper

Printable Recipe

Split open the casing and pull out the goodness

Mix it up so there aren’t any big chunks and give this a rough chop

Heat the oil and garlic over medium-high for ~2mins

Toss in the sausage and brown

Once you have some nice caramelization on the sausage…

Sprinkle on your smoked paprika

Toss in the whole grape tomatoes

These little guys are great; they burst in your mouth while eating

A little special effects for the dinner table

Add in the roasted peppers and capers and saute for ~1min

Your pasta should be in the water by now…

For the sauce…

Add in tomato sauce, chicken broth, oregano, and s&p…

…and if you want some heat add in……some chili garlic sauce

Believe me when I tell you a little goes a LONG way

This stuff is badass; you can pick it up at Shop Rite in the ethnic food aisle

Stir it all up

Bring to a boil for ~2mins

Reduce to simmer for ~10mins

Sauce should have thickened a bit

Taste and adjust for seasoning (add in the garlic powder if you feel it needs it)

Drain pasta and add back to pot

Place over medium-low flame

Quickly toss in your fresh mozzarella, parsley, and stir it all up

Mozz will begin to melt

Keep stirring

Scoop some of that oozy, cheesy deliciousness into a bowl

It’s like a festival of goodness happening on the plate and in your mouth…

…little grape tomatoes burst sweet juice that balances out the brine and tang of the capers, as well as the saltiness of the sausage…

…creamy, silky, melty, oozy fresh mozzarella bonds everything together…

…mezzi rigatoni’s large empty cavity is like a basket that fills up with goodness…

…smoked paprika gives the dish a great smokey earthiness and the chili sauce heats it all up…

…you’re gonna have to taste it for yourself…

Enjoy!