Category Archives: Homemade

My own stuff

Italian Easter Pie

ProciuttoA Lot of EggsPie CrustMozzarellaRicottaPecorino Romano
Cheese & Meat MixEggMeat, Cheese, EggInto the CrustDSC_1030Top Crust
Pizza RusticaSoppresatta

Italian Easter Pie, a set on Flickr.

A traditional Italian Pie served on Easter – also known as Pizza Rustica. They’re all similar in the fact that it’s meat and cheese baked into a crust. The differences lie in the type of meats and cheese used and the crust it’s baked in. This is a simple version that features ricotta, mozzarella, pecorino Romano, soppressata, dry sausage, prosciutto, and is baked in a pie crust. Very tasty, easy, and makes a great addition to the Easter spread.

..Happy Easter..


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Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin Spice Latte

I’m not sure what’s going on at the ‘bucks, but I haven’t been happy with their pumpkin spice latte’s as of late. My theory is that the drink got super popular and they cut costs by cheapening the pumpkin spice syrup…because something is seriously askew. Sugar substitute?? Perhaps it’s the unenthusiastic high school kid playing pretend barista that just can’t get it right??

Anyway, I’m not a coffee snob by any means, but over the years I got to liking this pumpkin spice latte – only to be let down on several occasions at a variety of shops, so you can imagine my frustration. It seems simple enough: robust espresso, undertones of pumpkin spice (i.e. ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon), and frothy milk with whipped cream and extra spice on top. Lately it’s more like: bitter espresso with a hint of pumpkin flavored robitussin – not cool. So I decided to take matters into my own hands – I mean how hard could it be to make a pumpkin flavored syrup?? Turns out it’s pretty easy.

Printable Recipe: http://bit.ly/aFTkpd

Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

first things first – make a simple syrup by combining:
1C water: 1C sugar – heat over medium-high heat until all sugar is dissolved
than get some of that good ol’ Libby’s Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

~2 (heaping) T should do the trick

Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

Spice mix: 1T cinnamon, .5t nutmeg, .25t ginger, .25t cloves

Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

whisk everything together over medium flame – simmer for about 5mins

off the flame whisk in 1T vanilla extract

Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

strain off the liquid – there will be some sediment in the bottom of the strainer just dump it

Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

store in a mason jar…

Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

or better yet – put it in a squeeze bottle…

Here’s how I make my coffee:
-add 1/4C milk to mug and froth until milk fills mug 3/4 of the way (http://bit.ly/cpSx2Y) OR if you’re a fancy pants with an espresso machine, steam your milk

-brew your espresso (single or doppio)

(working quickly now)

-add 1T pumpkin spice syrup to espresso and mix (you can always add more later)

-pour espresso into mug with frothed milk

-add a little sugar

-stir it up

-whipped cream (optional)

-sprinkle some spice on top

now go up to the barista at the nearest ‘bucks, put your hands at the side of your head with thumbs in your ears, wiggle fingers, stick out your tongue, then say “nana-nana poopoo, your pumpkin spice latte is stupid”

Greek Lamb Souvlaki w. Grilled Flat Bread

This is rugged, rough around the edges, uncomplicated, and unpretentious – just the way we like it. It’s a meaty, roll up your sleeves, and get your hands dirty kinda meal. Every now and then it’s cool to delve into dishes characteristic of other cultures and try to eat as they would. Imagine living in old world Greece – where the lamb was slaughtered that morning, herbs were all picked fresh from the garden, and the dough rose on the counter under a cotton towel while tzatziki sauce was stirred together by a wooden spoon gripped by a rough and weathered hand. Meals don’t exactly come together like that in this house – but like I said it’s cool to imagine. Regardless though, this dish is money, and putting all cultural characteristics aside I think you will agree – this is damn close to authentic Greek Souvlaki.

p.s. I know this recipe is so far from something you would cook in fall/winter when everyone else is cooking with root veggies, making beef stew, and cozying up with hot toddy’s and apple pie…but when that inevitably gets played out and you start yearning to fire up the grill – you can break out this recipe and get your Greek on.

Printable Recipe: http://bit.ly/9WG5La

Boneless Leg of Lamb

grab the beast – trim excess fat – slice into big chunks

Cubed Lamb

season lamb with kosher salt and cracked pepper

Fresh Herbs

finely chop the parsley and mint

Marinade

time for the marinade – combine lamb, oil, vinegar, herbs, onions, and garlic in a Ziploc and mix it up

Marinate in Ziploc

cubes should be coated with marinade – now forget about it for a while

Grilled Lamb

grill lamb chunks over medium high a few minutes on each side – yard will smell like the San Gennaro feast

Grilled Flat Bread

my new addiction is grilled flat bread – take my recipe for effin’ Artisan bread http://bit.ly/cAF5yJ and instead of making a loaf you make a pizza round – brush it with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper – grill ~5mins each side – make some now…

here’s how I get down and dirty: grab some flat bread – slap on some tzatziki – pile on the meat – top with thinly sliced tomato, red onion, and lettuce – drizzle more tzatziki – finish off with a sprinkle of feta

roll up your sleeves and dig in!

Triple Orange Granita

This granita will blast your taste buds with¬† seriously orange, seriously cold, seriously triple frickin’ naranja deliciousness. This Italian version of a shaved ice is probably the most refreshing thing you can put to your tongue on a hot summer day. If you have never witnessed the glory of granita, then you are in for a good time. If you are a fan of granita then this is going to set your granita standard way high…

Get yourself:

  • 2 Oranges, ~1C fresh juice
  • .5C Sugar
  • .5C Water
  • 1T Triple Sec
  • .25t Pure orange extract
  • Shallow glass Pyrex
  • Citrus juicer thingie

Printable Recipe

Juice them oranges

Not from concentrate…

mmmmm sugar…

Combine the sugar and water in a small sauce pot and heat over medium-high until sugar dissolves

Let cool

Add the triple sec and extract to the orange juice

Combine juice and sugar-water

Mix it up good

Add the mixture to a shallow Pyrex dish

Cover and toss this orange nectar of goodness into the freezer

After about an hour or so…

…the granita will begin to freeze around the perimeter…

…scrape the perimeter with a fork towards the center…

…let liquid settle, re-freeze…

…check again after ~30-40mins…

Repeat scrape method until entire mixture is frozen and has been scraped into a pile

~3hrs

Should be rough and jagged frozen scrapings of orange delight

Pile that ish high and enjoy every last cold refreshing bite

Re-freeze the remainder and just re-scrape before serving

Enjoy!

Grilled Flat-bread

It’s 100 degrees outside and the last thing I’m doing is cranking the oven to 500 to bake a loaf of bread. So to me that translates to another excuse to use the grill. Plus, grilled flat-bread is a lighter twist to the usual rustic style bread I bake up on the regular. Best part…no stone!¬† Cook these directly on the grill grates!

Prep time: 30mins (after dough has been made)
Grill time: ~6mins

Get yourself:

  • Batch of bread dough
  • Sea salt or Kosher
  • Cracked black pepper
  • .25C Olive oil
  • Basting brush
  • Spray oil
  • Parchment paper
  • Tongs

Let’s get it poppin’

Form dough balls into 6-8oz balls and let rest covered for about 30mins

Preheat grill on high while dough rests

Flour your surface and flatten out dough into a round, size does not matter…

…neither does shape…

I made these two ways:

1) Hand method – best results: soft, airy, and fluffy

2) Rolling pin – Not so good: chewy and dense

Roll ’em out, not too thin or they will be cracker-y

You want them to be thick enough to puff up a bit on the grill…

…soft and fluffy is texture we are going for

Line sheet pan with parchment and brush with a little oil

Lay dough on top and brush with oil

Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper

Pattern…parchment, oil, dough, oil, parchment, repeat

Make sure the dough is not holding any pools of oil…

…or you will experience great conflagration…

Grill grates should be smoking hot…

Quickly – shut off flame, spray grates with spray oil like Pam olive oil…

…turn flame back on to medium high

Grab the parchment and slap the dough onto the grill…

…peel the parchment back

If you feel you might destroy the dough doing this than I recommend you…

…roll out the dough rounds and grill one at a time using a pizza peel to transfer dough to grill

Grill for a few mins on each side

Flip and grill for a few more mins

Keep knockin’ ’em out and stack the flat-breads as they come off the grill

Serve warm on the side of whatever you happen to be eating…

…everything goes with grilled flat-bread…

…yum…

Here’s another version I did…

This one is the pizza peel version that I mentioned above…

Either way is off the hook

Enjoy!

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

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!!