The Hestan guys just invited their brand ambassadors to a cooking/photo competition to show off their skills and their hestan skillets! and as you already know… that would impossible for me to pass. They facilitated the recipe which is great because I don’t cook by following recipes so this was different and really fun. It’s a recipe by chef Brad Spence whose culinary career is outside the scope of this post but let me tell you we’re talking about one of the best chefs in the country. He’s critically acclaimed and has a vast knowledge of Italian cooking. Go check out Amis Trattoria’s or Vetri’s websites when you have a change. Pretty wild huh?
Rainy California. Bring it.
40% of the state of California has been declared drought free. Not entirely sure what that means but it has been raining a ton lately and we can only hope it continues to rain for a bit longer. I love it. It’s unusual but we needed some real rain around here but enough weather talk now.
Intimidated by cooking seafood? WHAT?
How about making some killer seafood pasta? Are you intimidated by cooking seafood but you love it and wish you could make seafood dishes at home? (you should do the late night infomercial voice from the 90’s) Well.. cooking seafood it’s pretty easy. Geoduck might be tricky and abalone requires some specific skills. Live lobster also presents some challenges but the more common seafood found at the store it’s pretty simple, specially squid and scallops. Requires little seasoning and cooks very quickly and it’s this very last thing that makes it a bit intimidating to cook specially if you’re picky about food and texture.
Hey guys, so Halloween came and went… so happy belated Halloween to those who care. I’ve never cooked anything special for this day before so I decided I’d try and make some Halloween themed food to switch it up a bit… which really is more about making something up that matches some colours than it is about cooking anything traditional during this time. I didn’t want to just throw a bunch of candy in a basket and take a photo either… which would have been more fitting and would have been ok except for the fact that October 31st is also my girlfriend’s birthday, I had (willingly… or more like… yay, another excuse to cook something!!!) to prepare something a bit more elaborate. I also just recently bought the kitchenAid pasta maker attachment, not that I need any excuses to use it because I’m totally obsessed with that thing.
If you know or you know of somebody that holds the true original recipe for bolognese sauce please report back in the comment section if you can. I’m really curious. A simple google search returned over 200,000 result and after checking the first 2 pages of results it was obvious everybody has their own idea of what an authentic bolognese ragu should be. There are obviously the usual suspects in the ingredients list which I tried to keep in mind but seriously, cooking by most common denominator ingredients is plain boring, at least to me.
The absolutely required ingredients in bolognese ragu.
hmm…. meat? I think that’s mainly it. Which kind? well… in today’s world beef because it’s easier to find although historically veal is probably more proper. Pancetta can also be found in pretty much all the recipes I looked at. Then we have the aromatics like onion, celery and carrots. Carrots being fairly popular and onions being in pretty much all the recipes. Wine? hit or miss really. Milk? yep… another one that is popular but not standard. Garlic for sure. Nutmeg… yep. I think nutmeg is probably the only spice being added to this sauce in modern times. No bay leaves apparently. Pork? yep, it does appear but not consistently. Stock? yep… here and there although I should say.. if I can avoid it I will refrain from using stock unless absolutely necessary in a recipe.
The summer pasta kick hasn’t stopped. My supply of homemade bacon keeps on giving. This bacon by the way, for those of you who haven’t been heard, was made with the belly of a pig featured in my butchering lesson post. Yes! I attended a butchering lesson and I have pork meat in my freezer to last me for a few more weeks. I have blood sausages, 2 different bacon slabs seasoned differently, a ton of pork fat, etc. July 4th was met with an impressive roasted pork shoulder also cooked with the same meat. So yeah, it’s been kind of a porky last month and a half.
Today I decided to try something different this time. I love cooking pasta but I find myself repeating the same 2 or 3 recipes I love. Pasta bolognese, seafood pasta and pasta al pomodoro. Sometimes I go crazy! and make carbonara or some random thing involving leftovers in my fridge… which by the way, happen to be usually pretty incredible… cooking with leftovers is one of my favorite things plus the freedom! Ok.. so back to this pasta. This can of sweet peas has been sitting in my pantry for weeks. I love sweet peas. I really do but they usually don’t scream pasta. I use them in cold pasta salads, in paella, as a side with mash potatoes, etc… but never pasta. But if there’s anything true about pasta is the fact that it can be paired with pretty much any ingredient I can think of… oh wait… just like bread, or rice, etc. Starches happen to be extremely friendly and super accommodating.
The beauty of cooking pasta. I love cooking pasta because of how simple and delicious it is, even plain noodles are amazing. It really takes no effort to come up with an impressive meal. Throw together a a few ingredients and make a simple sauce. Done.
The simplicity of making pasta for dinner is undeniable and one of the reasons noodles are such a huge success pretty much everywhere, specially in my kitchen.
I love the versatility of pasta.
I love making pasta dishes because simplicity is usually the way to go. This is a simple but surprisingly incredible pasta dish, just a few ingredients ingredients and although the cooking times might seem a bit extensive, it takes about as much time as making bolognese pasta. In any case, if you’re interested in simple cooking and umami explosions read on.
Mushrooms don’t need a lot of help to shine. Their flavour can be incredible when well exploited. I love cooking them but I’m not a big fan of eating them raw though. The texture is great but the taste is bland in my opinion and I always find my self searing them on a hot skillet or over a grill to develop some flavour and then cooking them for a bit to reduce that water content. I figured I would simplify my mushroom pasta go-to recipe to its most basic form and highlight the main ingredient. Hence, this recipe has actually 3 or so ingredients.
If you like mushrooms and have tried a bunch of different ones you probably would agree that white mushrooms are not the most exciting of the bunch. Well… at least that’s kind of what I thought before trying this w approach explained here on this recipe. Every time I cook something I learn something new or reinforce something I have learned. I should have never blamed white mushrooms for not being interesting because they are and is just my ignorance getting in the way as usual. What can I say, I fell in love with white mushrooms all over again and would actually argue that I prefer them over shiitakes or even portobellos. Another great thing about white mushrooms is the cost. They are the cheapest at least where I live, so I bought 2 pounds of fresh and beautiful white mushrooms and headed back to my kitchen.
How to extract flavour.
If you’ve made your own stocks at home you know that simmering any ingredient in water for a long period of time will extract its flavor. I love pressure cooking and making stocks this way, specially vegetable stocks. It’s a lot faster. It also helps preserve flavor since there’s less evaporation of water in the process. Your house might not be as perfumed by what’s happening in the kitchen but that means the flavour is kept where it belongs. It that pot.
The pasta in the picture isn’t fresh pasta nor is it cooked. It’s basically dry pasta that has been reconstituted. These dry noodles have been soaked in water before cooking. But why would anyone do something like this? well, I personally find it very useful. Here are my top 5 reasons! check ’em out:
- I don’t need boil a lot of water in a big pot which takes, as you know… forever. Once the pasta is hydrated it will be soft and fit smaller pots. Water and time saver right there.
- Another advantage is to have even hydration of the noodles which helps even cooking. Not that critical but still cool.
- Less salt is needed to season the water since you’re using less water. Salt saver. Yes. You can even hydrate/reconstitute pasta in salty water saving even more salt. Brining dry noodles, pretty much.
- The residual pasta water after cooking the noodles will have a higher starch concentration. Which makes it a better thickener for your pasta sauces.
- And probably my favorite one. It cuts the cooking time considerably.
So here is how:
This tuna pasta is one of those recipes that brings back a great deal of good memories. I was making something similar back in high school. Cheap canned tuna, cheap canned tomatoes sauce and cheap pasta. That’s all we needed (that’s I need today). Back then I was usually tasked with any vacation/camping trip cooking needs…actually would volunteer as you might have guessed. My guy friends did not enjoy doing the cooking much, well except for my best friend this, Italian guy who I haven’t seen in forever. He wasn’t the biggest fan of my tuna dish or canned tuna period. The rest of my friend would only come near a grill perhaps… to flip a steak or stand guard near the cutting board. Opposite to the guys, the girls most loved cooking but hated grilling. Why is that?
I used to make the same 3 things back then: Chicken in tomato sauce (some sort of stew with potatoes), chicken in tomato sauce with pasta AND tuna in tomato sauce with pasta. Yes, basically the same recipe… but I got away with it! Ok, we could add a fourth… pasta bolognese. When I got it right, it was awesome… if I got it right. For these dishes the base was the same. A combination of celery, carrots, onions… add peppers because we Venezuelans gotta have those everywhere and some chicken stock (the knorr bouillon cubed kind of course, classic). Oh, and of course garlic… oh and paprika.. that comes from the spanish side of the family…Anyways, all pretty simple but delicious and except for chicken stock (which today I don’t think it needs it), today’s dish is very similar. To mix it up, I added chopped almonds and sweet peas at the end of the cooking. Hope you guys find this as comforting as I did today…over 20 years since the last time I made my classic economy high school tuna pasta.
What can I say. Italians get it right every time. Every time, it’s pretty amazing and very comforting to know that when in doubt, cook something Italian. This is my first time cooking this dish and because I’m arrogant I tuned it my way and also decided to cook the chicken sous vide style. I have a serious issue with pounding chicken meat with hammers, specially delicate chicken breast meat. If fact, I used to dislike eating chicken breast all together. Dry and boring 100% of the time. Pound it with a hammer and the problem only worsens in my opinion and the only way to fix it .. well, I could choose to ignore the issue or I could smother the meat in some rich sauce. I’m down with the second one but I’ll just sous vide this thing. I don’t see a better way.