Class #6 Biscotti and more!

Orange Cranberry Biscotti

 

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup pignoli or walnuts, optional

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

3 large eggs

1 stick of unsalted butter, melted

1 ½ cups sugar

2 tbsp. zest from the shiny skin of an orange

1 tsp. Orange extract or 1 tbsp. fresh orange juice

½ cup dried cranberries or dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease the cookie sheet.

Combine the flour, nuts, baking powder, baking soda, and cranberries in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat together the eggs, the sugar, the zest, and the orange extract or juice. Gradually add the melted butter and when all is combined well, add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture in the other bowl. Mix well until you have stiff cookie dough. Knead on a floured surface briefly to help distribute the nuts and cranberries evenly. Divide dough in half and roll into a coil about a foot long. Do the same to the other half of the dough.

Place each coil of dough side by side on your cookie sheet and flatten the tops slightly to give the biscotti their shape. Bake until the cookie shapes are brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool briefly on stove top and lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. One at a time, carefully remove your cookie shapes to a cutting board and slice them on a diagonal about a half-inch thick. Lay the slices back on the cookie sheets and bake for another 15 minutes until lightly brown. Allow to cool on a rack.

Triple Threat Biscotti

 

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

2/3-cup sugar

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsps. Baking powder

2 eggs

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup white chocolate pieces

1/3 cup HEATH bar toffee bits

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment or grease the cookie sheet.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy and add sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Beat until combined scraping the bowl occasionally. Beat in the eggs. Beat in as much flour as you can with a hand mixer and then use a wooden spoon stir in the chocolate and HEATH bar pieces and knead the dough briefly on a floured surface to distribute then pieces evenly. Divide dough in half and roll each into a coil about 9-10 inches long. Place on your cookie sheet and flatten each roll slightly to shape the biscotti. Bake the cookie shapes for 20 to 25 minutes until deep brown. Cool the cookies until they can be handled comfortably and slice them on the diagonal into biscotti about ½ inch wide. Place them back on the cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 8-10 minutes until dry looking and brown. Let cool on rack.

Napoleons

 

1 package puff pastry, thawed

For Custard:

¾ cup sugar

3 tbsp. cornstarch

3 cups milk

4 beaten egg yolks

1 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. Vanilla

For berries, if using:

2 packages strawberries, hulled and sliced

Powdered sugar to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Open package of puff pastry and unfold on a lightly floured surface. Cut pastry along the fold lines and then cut across each pastry strip to yield six pieces. Repeat with second package of pastry dough if more Napoleons are desired Bake the pastry strips on the cookie sheet for 7-10 minutes, until golden brown. Allow cooling on a rack while making the custard.

For the custard, combine the cornstarch with the sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir in the milk. Cook, stirring over medium heat until thickened Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Off of heat, stir in a ½ cup of hot milk mixture to the beaten egg yolks. Gradually stir in the egg yolks back into the pan of thickened milk mixture. Put the pan back on the stove and heat until the custard comes to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and cook for 2 minutes more. Off of heat, add butter and vanilla. Transfer to a bowl to cool… Cover surface of custard with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold.

Optional: Combine sliced berries with powdered sugar until sweetened to taste and allow to sit until berry juices collect in bowl.

 

Split each puff pastry onto an individual plate and add 1-2 tbsp. of vanilla custard. Top with berries, if using and replace the top half of the pastry. Dust with powdered sugar if desired and serve.

Fish, Polenta and Stuffed Peppers!

Polenta

 

6 cups water

1 tsp. salt

2 cups polenta

½ cup grated Romano cheese, optional

Bring water and salt to a boil in a large heavy saucepan.  SLOWLY add polenta in a steady stream while stirring gently.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring to prevent sticking until mixture is very thick. Be careful, mixture can pop and sputter. It’ll take about 20-30 minutes to be done. Oil a large cookie sheet or Pyrex roasting pan and pour in hot polenta. Let set and cool slightly for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle grated cheese over polenta, if you are using it. Slice the set polenta and serve however you like.

Stuffed Peppers

 

2 lbs. of ground round

1-cup rice, cooked and cooled to room temperature

2 eggs

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

1 cup grated Romano cheese, generous

4-5 sprigs parsley, chopped

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, generous

1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce, heated separately in a pan with 1 clove garlic and 4-5 sprigs of parsley, chopped

6 bell peppers, each halved

In a large bowl, combine ground meat, rice, garlic and parsley with your hands. Blend in cheese and eggs lightly with your hands until combined.  Once sauce is heated in pan, pour some in bottom of roasting pan.  Place pepper halves in pan and fill with meat stuffing as evenly as possible. Spoon remaining sauce over and around peppers and top each with grated mozzarella. Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 30-45 minutes, until cooked through and cheese is nicely melted.

 

 

White Clam Sauce with Linguine

 

1 dozen cherrystone or littleneck clams or a 2 lb. bag of manila clams (approx.),        opened and juices reserved

3 cups of reserved clam juice plus bottled clam juice or water as necessary to make             3 cups

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

3 tbsp. olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, sliced thinly

¾ cup parsley, chopped

1 tbsp. dried oregano, or 1 tsp. fresh, chopped

Freshly ground course black pepper to taste

2 lbs. linguine

Soften garlic and both oils until aromatic. Do not brown. Add 3 cups reserved clam juice. Add parsley, oregano, pepper and a pinch of salt. Bring mixture just to a boil in a medium saucepan and shut off heat under pan.

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil with a dash of salt. Add linguine to pot and stir occasionally to keep from sticking together.

While linguine is cooking, clean clams. Over a small bowl or glass measuring cup cover with dampened cheesecloth, trim away any dark digestive sections of clam and discard. Chop up rest of clams and reserve in a separate bowl. Reserve juices caught while opening clams in the other bowl.

Bring pot of sauce to simmer and add clam pieces and any reserved clam juices. Heat only until clams are cooked, about 1 to 2 minutes. Place linguine on serving platter and top with sauce as soon as clams are cooked. Garnish with more parsley and lots of freshly ground pepper.

Shrimp in Arrabiata Sauce

 

1 bag frozen raw shrimp, defrosted and cleaned

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. chopped pepperoncini

1  (15 ½ ounce) can tomato puree

4-5 sprigs parsley, chopped

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

Pat dry cleaned shrimp and keep refrigerated wrapped in paper towels. Soften onion and pepperoncini in olive oil in a large frying pan.  Add dry shrimp and sauté until almost cooked through, 1-2 minutes.  Add puree and simmer with chopped parsley sprinkled on top. Cook for 2-3 minutes more and taste for spiciness. Add a dash of red pepper flakes, if you like. Serve over hot cooked spaghetti, polenta or grilled sliced Italian bread.

Class 4: Pasta Sauces and Combos

Lentil Soup

1 16 oz. bag of lentils

1 small celery stalk

1 small onion or ½ medium

1 15 oz. crushed tomatoes

1 1 lb. box small macaroni

1 piece rind of grating cheese, approximately 1 inch long

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4-5 fresh parsley sprigs, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine a half bag of lentils with 6 cups (1 ½ quarts) of water and let come to a boil and then simmer until beans are almost tender. Dice the celery and onion small and add to the pot with the beans. Add the can of tomatoes and simmer. On another burner of the stove, start boiling water for the macaroni. Add cheese rind to beans. When the water boils, add macaroni and cook until almost tender. Drain well.

Add macaroni to beans with parsley. Taste for salt and pepper. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the soup. Serve with grated cheese on the side as an option.

Straw and Hay

4-5 slices of prosciutto, cut crosswise into shreds

½ lb. white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 tbspns butter

3 large sage leaves or 5 small

1 lb. fettucine, fresh or dried

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup grated Romano or Parmigiano cheese

4-5 sprigs parsley, chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a large frying pan, melt butter and add garlic and sage. Add mushrooms and cook stirring for a minute. Remove sage leaves. Add prosciutto and stir for another minute. Add pasta to boiling water and stir. If using fresh pasta, it will be done in only 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile add cream to pan and simmer for a minute to combine the flavors. Stir in the cheese and parsley off the heat and cover until ready to combine with fettuccine. Before draining pasta, reserve ½ cup of the cooking water.  Drain the pasta but keep it moist. Add sauce to pasta and toss to combine with fettuccine. Serve immediately!

Cauliflower and Macaroni

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tbsps. olive oil

1 16 oz. can of diced tomatoes

4-5 sprigs parsley, chopped

1 ½ teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped or ½ tspn dried

½ cup pitted black olives, sliced

1 small head cauliflower

1 lb. box of chunky pasta (shells, ziti, etc.)

Start a large pot of boiling water on one burner of the stove. Saute the onions until soft and pale in the olive oil in another pan. Chop the cauliflower into small pieces and cut out any tough core around the flowerets. Add the cauliflower to the boiling water and add the diced tomatoes to the onions. Cook  cauliflower about five minutes and remove from water with a slotted spoon. Add the cauliflower to the sauce with the sliced olives. Bring the water that cooked cauliflower to boil again and add pasta. Simmer sauce as pasta cooks and drain the pasta when almost cooked. Combine the pasta and cauliflower sauce together. Serve immediately with grated cheese and crushed hot pepper on the side.

Pesto

2 cups packed fresh parsley, or basil when in season, rinsed and well dried

2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped

¼ cup pine nuts or walnuts

1 cup grated Romano or Parmigiano cheese

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb. short chunky pasta

Freshly ground black pepper

Place herbs of choice in processor or blender and add garlic. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add nuts and cheese and pulse again until a rough paste starts to form. Slowly drizzle in oil and blend or pulse until smooth. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add pasta. Cook until done but reserve a 1/3 cup cooking water before draining. Immediately toss pasta with pesto sauce, adding reserved cooking water if sauce looks too thick.  Serve immediately with black pepper grinder on the side to add to taste.

Pasta Making Class!

Fresh Pasta

 

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cups semolina

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

Sprinkle of course salt

In a bowl, mound flour and semolina, if using.  Make a well in center and add eggs, egg yolks, and a dash of salt. Break up the eggs gently with a fork and slowly incorporate flour from the sides of the bowl into the eggs. When dough starts to come together gather it up and knead for 5-10 minutes. Wrap up the dough in plastic and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

If you are not using a pasta maker, divide dough in half and keep one half tightly wrapped in plastic. Roll out the other half on a floured surface (a floured tablecloth works nicely) until very thin. Cut into strips as wide or thin as you like either with a knife or pizza wheel. Allow the cut strands to dry slightly as you work with the other piece of dough. Allow all the pasta to dry on the floured surface until slightly pliable. Store in plastic in the refrigerator for one to two days or in the freezer two to three months.

To cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a sprinkle of salt. Add pasta and cook for only about three minutes. Taste for doneness.  Drain well and serve with whatever sauce you like.

Variation for Fresh Spinach Pasta:

 

Add ¼ cup cooked spinach, tightly squeezed dry and finely chopped to the eggs and egg yolks in the well of flour in your mixing bowl. Proceed to combine the flour and egg-spinach mixture as described above.

Filling for Tortellini

 

½ lb. ground pork or ground chicken thighs (grind in food processer)

¼ lb. prosciutto or good quality ham, chopped

1 small sprig parsley

1-2 leaves of sage

2 cups of grated Romano or Parmigiano cheese

1 large egg

Pinch of nutmeg

Pulse the meat in the processor in batches if necessary so it is finely ground but not paste. Add ham and herbs and pulse until chopped finely and combined. Transfer to a bowl and add cheese, egg and nutmeg and stir to combine.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To shape tortellini: Cut rolled out pasta into 1 inch to 1 ½ inch squares. For each square place a ¼ teaspoon filling in the center. Fold over square to make a triangle and press out any air around the filling to enclose it. If necessary a little water or beaten egg white can be brush over edges of pasta to seal. Bring opposite points of the triangle together and press to make a tight ring.   Go on with the rest of the filling and pasta until all are used. Tortellini should be stored in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator and used in 1-2 days. If freezing, place in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the freezer until hard and then transfer to a Ziploc bag. Don’t defrost before using.

To cook tortellini, add to boiling broth or water and cook for  3-5 minutes depending if they were frozen or not.