Penne with Smoked Salmon and Vodka Cream Sauce

 

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Hi fellow friends and bloggers, it has been a loooong time since I updated my blog!  For good reason though, this summer has been crazy busy.  In June I married my amazing fiancé and then embarked on our honeymoon to Asia!  What a wild ride, I wish I could do it all over again, but alas, my child needs schooling and so all good things must come to an end.

It’s been 8 months since we moved to Madrid, and that also has been super crazy, making new friends, my daughter is in a new school, hubby in a new job……and me, well I have a new blog!  From now on, all my sweet baking confections will be on San Luis Baking Co.  I hope you enjoy and visit!

So, for our recipe.  Another new adventure has been my potted tomato plants.  We eat tomatoes like they go out of style, but most importantly, my hubs and used to go crazy because finding Italian tomato varieties here is close to impossible.  On one trip to Italy, I bought three types of tomatoes, Pacchino Cherry, which is an heirloom from Sicily, small, but sweet as sugar; San Marzano, which hails from Campania (around Naples, Italy) and is one of the best varieties to make sauce; and Costoluto Fiorentino, which is a large heirloom from Tuscany which makes for a killer salad tomato!  I harvested the seeds, planted in the beginning of May, and voila! This has been my first foray into tomato gardening, and it has had its ups and downs, but I am amazed at the yield that I have had!  So our recipe today includes my cherry tomatoes, straight from the vine.  I know most of us don’t have tomatoes at home, so try to find the ripest, sweetest cherry tomatoes to make this dish.  The tomatoes’ acidity balances well with the mellow cream, and the smokiness of the salmon pairs perfectly in this dish, it’s a winner!

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So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 3-4

300g Penne Pasta

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp chili flakes

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup Vodka

200 ml heavy cream

100 g smoked salmon, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp fresh Italian parsley, minced

In a large stockpot, put water and 1 tbsp salt to boil.  In a medium sauté pan over medium low heat, add the olive oil.  When hot, add the chili flakes and the garlic.  Cook until fragrant, about 4 minutes, making sure it doesn’t burn.  Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for another 2 minutes.  Add the cherry tomatoes, salt and a 1/4 cup of water, and lower the heat to low.  Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the water has evaporated by half.

Raise the heat to high, and add the vodka and carefully light to flambe; to burn off all the alcohol.  Lower the heat to a minimum, and add the cream and stir.  Take off the heat and add the salmon, pepper and give it a good stir.  Set aside.

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  When it is done, strain all but a tbsp of the water, and toss it in the pan with your sauce.  Raise the heat on your pan, and cook on high for about 2 minutes, until all the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce.  Sprinkle with the parsley, and serve immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Cotoletta alla Milanese or Wiener Schnitzel

Cotoletta alla Milanese

 

Tomayto, tomaahto……let’s NOT call the whole thing off.  Which ever way you call it, it’s delicious.  The difference between the two dishes is minimal, in Austria, it is generally fried in butter, and in Italy in olive oil.  I prefer the Italian version, not because it is tastier, but mainly because it is healthier.  Either way, this is one of my favorite go-to dinners.  Super easy and quick, it marries perfectly with a simple arugula (rocket) and parmesan salad with a lemon -olive oil vinaigrette.

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If you are pressed for time, but are craving something sinful and filling, this may become your go-to dinner too!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 3

3 thin veal or beef cutlets, trimmed of fat

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

2 cups plain breadcrumbs

1/2 olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 150C.  Salt and pepper the cutlets, and in one bowl add the eggs, milk, Parmigiano and some more salt and pepper; mix well.  In another bowl add the breadcrumbs.  Place them side by side.

Dip your cutlet into the egg mix, and then in the breadcrumbs.  Pat the breadcrumbs in well.  Dip again in the egg mix, letting most drip off, and then dip back in to the breadcrumbs and pat them well, until slightly dried.  Place on a tray and repeat with the rest of the cutlets.

In a large, non-stick frying pan, add the olive oil; heat to medium.  When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the cutlet and fry for about 4 minutes, turn and fry for 4 minutes more.  Place on a heat proof plate in the hot oven while you fry the rest.

Serve with a side salad or potatoes if you’re really hungry!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Pesce al Acqua Pazza – Sea Bream in “Crazy Water” Sauce

Pesce al Aqua Pazza

Acqua Pazza is probably one of my favorite styles of baking fish.  I tried it in Positano for the first time, and I was so enthralled with it, it completely embodies what you want to eat in summer in the Mediterranean.

Acqua Pazza literally means, crazy water.  I guess the crazy part is that it has just a touch of chili pepper, but if that’s what crazy means, I am totally “loco” over it!

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Super simple to make, it will literally take you all of 40 minutes to make this.  Most of the ingredients you will probably have in your pantry already, all you need is some delicious super fresh fish.  We decided on this beautiful Red Sea Bream, very typical here in Spain.

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Easy enough for a weeknight meal, but spectacular for an early lunch now that the weather is warming up!   I hope you try it, cause I am sure you will be hooked too!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1  2kg whole firm fleshed white fish, such as Corvina, Snapper, Sea Bream, or Sea Bass.  Ask your fishmonger to clean it for you.

Salt and Pepper, to taste

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp chili pepper flakes

1/2 large onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tbsp capers

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup water

1 tbsp lemon juice

Lemon slices, for garnish

Pre heat the oven to 200 C.  Wash the fish thoroughly, inside and out.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place in a large baking dish.  Set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat.  Add the chili pepper, onion, and garlic, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the cherry tomatoes and raise the heat to high, stirring.  Add the white wine and capers, and cook for another 5 minutes, or until super fragrant.  Take off heat and add the 1/4 cup water and lemon juice.  Let cool for about 5 minutes, and pour over fish, add the lemon slices to the top.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, serve immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipes No.59- General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso's Chicken

As a child, every Friday night we would go to a Chinese restaurant with my father’s side of the family.  Nothing gave my father more pleasure than to order half the menu.  Of course, we would get the round table with the lazy susan, so no one had to really stretch that far to have all the different options he had ordered.  I, usually just ate a bowl of steamed peas or sautéed mushrooms.  Silly me. It wasn’t until I was about 10 that I discovered this dish, tangy, crispy, spicy and sweet all the same, I fell in love.

After moving to Spain, one of the things that I miss the most about living in the States, is good Chinese take out.  We do have Chinese take out, but it is nothing in comparison to the variety that we have back home.  It is such a shame, most of the time it all comes in a pool of its own oil, making everything soggy, bland and basically inedible.

So I was really happy to see that Saveur had included this recipe into their classics.  It took me a while to make, because finding the right ingredients here is quite difficult.  I still haven’t found somewhere close by to my house where I can buy them, but for this occasion I made an effort.  The only thing I couldn’t find were scallions.  Even in Barcelona they were hard to get!

So, on to the recipe.  I loved it.  Obviously less sweet than the restaurant version, this one was more tangy and it had such a great consistency.  Not overly spicy, which shocked me due to the amount of chili peppers I threw in, but that was great.  My family doesn’t tolerate spiciness as much as I do.  Surprisingly, my daughter was the one who enjoyed it the most.  Always the picky one, she even asked me to pack it up for lunch at school the next day.  My fiancé, however, not so much.  He hasn’t been exposed to the amount of Chinese food as I have, so his taste buds aren’t used to the complex flavours of this type of cuisine.  Nonetheless, it was delicious and a success!

Rankings:

Overall points: 7.6/10

Difficulty: Easy

Availability of Ingredients:  Easy for my American counterparts, a little harder for continental Europeans

Recipe:

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. chicken stock

7 tbsp. cornstarch

6 tbsp. rice vinegar

6 tbsp. tomato paste

5 tbsp. light soy sauce

4 1/2 tsp dark sou sauce

2 1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 in cubes

3 1/2 cups plus 9 tbsp. peanut oil

3 egg yolks

2 tbsp. minced ginger

2 tbsp. minced garlic

16 chiles de arbol

2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

Thinly slice scallions, to garnish ( I used leeks)

1. Whisk stock, 1 tbsp cornstarch, vinegar, tomato paste, 3 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce, and 3 tbsp water in a bowl; set aside.

2. Place remaining cornstarch and both soy sauces, chicken, 3 tbsp peanut oil, and egg yolks in a bowl; toss.  Pour 3 1/2 cups peanut oil in a 14″ flat-bottomed wok; heat over med-high heat until a deep fry thermometer reads 375 degrees.  Working in batches, add chicken; fry, tossing, until cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels; set aside.  Discard oil; wipe wok clean.

3. Return wok to high heat, and add remaining peanut oil.  Add ginger, garlic, and chiles; fry, stirring constantly, until fragrant and chiles begin to change color, about 30 seconds.  Add reserved sauce; cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.  Add chicken; fry, tossing constantly, until evenly coated with sauce, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in sesame oil.  Transfer to a serving plate; top with scallions.  Serves 2-3.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Blackberry and Cornmeal Muffins

Blackberry and Cornmeal Muffins

 

It’s been one of those weeks.  A pipe burst in our apartment, and we have had severe damage to our floors and walls.  Nothing like inept handymen sent by your landlord to further make a mess of the situation.  Apart from that, it’s been rainy, cold, and I’m kind of homesick.

That means it’s time for me to get baking, and make some feel good treats for breakfast so I can get my butt to the gym, whenever these lovely men think they’ll finish making holes in our floor!

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This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes cookbook.  I love the taste of blackberries, but don’t really enjoy eating them raw.  They are way too grainy and seedy for me, and store-bought always seem to be incredibly tart!  I always dream of walking through some field, and picking them off their bush, and taste the sweet ripeness that only the sun can provide.  Alas, the only time I have had contact with any wild blackberries is when my daughter brought back silk worms from school as a project.  I had no idea that they only ate blackberry leaves, so I had to hunt out a tree and pick the leaves so they wouldn’t die.  Even though I ABHOR any type of worm.  But, I just can’t let a living thing die, disgusting or not.

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Today we found an array of berries at the market, and I love me some blueberries for breakfast, but picked these up thinking I would make the muffins I saw in Martha’s book.  Brought them home, picked up the book, read the recipe and then realized I don’t have any cornmeal.  I only had Arepa flour.  (Arepas are Colombian cornmeal patties- delicious!)  Even though in Martha’s book it stated for cornmeal, I swapped it in, lessening the amount of sugar that the recipe originally called for.  The Arepa flour that I have has some sugar already in the mix.  I didn’t want them to be overly sweet, either, and I wanted to be able to taste the tartness I find unappealing in the raw berries.  It worked perfectly.  Nice and cornbread like, soft, fluffy, and moist, berries bursting when you take a bite.  Definite “picker upper” on a cold rainy day!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes

Makes 12-16 muffins

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup fine ground yellow cornmeal

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

7 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

1 -2 containers (6 oz each) fresh blackberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190C).  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar.  In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and melted butter, pour over flour mixture, whisking to combine.

2.  Fill each lined cup with a scant 1/4 cup batter.  Top batter with blackberries (3-4 berries per cup), then sprinkle evenly with remaining sugar.

3.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until evenly browned on top, 20- to 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before removing muffins.  They are best eaten the day they are baked, but will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Fusilli with Goat Cheese Cream Sauce, Bacon and Pistachios

Fusilli with goat cheese cream sauce, bacon and pistachios

 

Lately, with my dieting, work, guest blogging, wedding planning, exercising and dieting, I have been very uninspired to blog.  I mean, who would want to read a post about another chicken breast with spices and a salad????  That is my boring food life at the moment.

Last night though, after a grueling workout, I decided I was going to treat myself.  And treat myself I did.  Not only did I have pasta, that forbidden fruit in dietland, I had it with cream and cheese and bacon.  Yes folks, I went all out, threw caution to the wind and had myself a mini smorgasbord! I was actually planning on having another salad, I had some beets roasting in the oven, the goat cheese ready, the pistachios chopped, just waiting on my rucola to arrive, when I suddenly had a massive craving for pasta.  So, I combined the goat cheese, cream, pistachios with some bacon, and poured that goodness over some pasta.   Let me tell you, my family was happy.  They are not excited at all to be partaking in my diet.

So, if you’re not dieting and you feel like treating yourself too, here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

500g Fusilli pasta

1/2 tbsp Olive oil

4 slices of Bacon, finely chopped

2 tbsp of Pistachios, shelled and chopped

250ml Cream

Goat cheese, to taste

Parmesan Cheese

Salt and Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a large stock pot, bring water to boil.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  In the meantime, in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and bacon, and cook until it is crispy but not burnt.  Add the chopped pistachios and stir, cooking for another 3 minutes.

Lower the heat to low, and add the cream, goat cheese and salt.  Cook, stirring constantly until the cheese has melted completely.  Turn off heat.

Drain pasta, and toss with sauce.  Sprinkle with some black pepper and parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.

 

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipes No. 74 – Garides Saganaki (Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta)

shrimp

Sometimes, you come across a recipe and you read it and think, hmmm, ok, sounds nice but you really don’t think much of it.  Well, this one was like that for me.  Last night, with Paolo’s parents here on a visit, we decided to give it a try, and we were all spectacularly pleased with it.  First of all, it was super easy to prepare, and very quick.  If you have these ingredients on hand, you can make this dinner in 30 minutes, tops.  Secondly, the flavor!  Oh my lord…..the tomatoes and melted feta were heavenly, add to that the nuanced hint of the ouzo, it turned an already delicious dish into something more than special.  The secret to this dish is to really buy the best ingredients possible.  Since it only has about 8, and in small quantities, it really begs for you to go all out.

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One thing that I absolutely recommend you to do.  Have lots of fresh crusty bread on hand.  You’ll be sopping up this sauce for sure!

Overall points: 8.5/10

Difficulty: Easy

Availability of ingredients: Readily available, if you can’t find Ouzo, use any other anisette liqueur

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 small yellow onion, chopped

1/2 medium hot green chile, stemmed and finely chopped

1 1/4 cups canned whole, peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 large head-on shrimp (about 12 oz.) bodies peeled (heads and tail shells left intact), deveined

4 oz. Greek feta, coarsely crumbled

2 tbsp ouzo

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

1. Heat broiler to high.  Heat oil in an 8″ round metal gratin dish or a heavy ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and chile, and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, and season to taste with salt and pepper; cook until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.

2. Arrange shrimp in dish, spoon some sauce on top, and continue to simmer until shrimp are pink and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.  Scatter feta around shrimp, then transfer dish to broiler, and broil until feta begins to melt, about 2 minutes.  Remove dish from broiler.  Warm ouzo in a tiny pot over low heat, then ignite it with a kitchen match and pour over shrimp and feta.  When flames die out, garnish dish with parsley, and serve.  Serves 2.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla