Friday, January 18, 2019

Rainy Day Pressure Cooker Stock

Never, ever go to Costco when you are hungry; the smell of roasting chickens mixed with the smell of the baked goods will drive you mad, plus with the ladies and gents handing out free samples, you'll end up buying everything you don't need.  I make an exception with this rotisserie chicken, at $4.99 or thereabouts, it's cheap, it's huge and it's pretty tasty.  Costco sells about 100,000 of them per day and about 90 million a year.  The best thing about this classy chick is with just two of us here at home it will feed us for several meals in different iterations.  Editor's note, if you don't live near a Costco, Sam's Club also sells rotisserie chickens. 
San Diego has been rainy this past few days and my choices for dinner have been comfort foods.  I had bought a Costco rotisserie chicken earlier in the week, and once we'd had that for dinner, I saved the leftover carcass and juices, and today put them into the pressure cooker with some aromatics, and made stock.  If you have an Instapot or a pressure cooker this is the easiest way to get chicken stock in less than 40 minutes.  Once you have chicken stock, there are so ways to use it in recipes, but today I made chicken orzo soup.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock
Makes about 4 cups

1/2 onion, not peeled, coarsely chopped*
3 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
3 ribs celery, coarsely, chopped
1 chicken carcass and any accumulated juices
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups water

Put the onion, carrot, celery and carcass into the pressure cooker or Instapot.  Add the thyme and water, secure the top. 

Simple ingredients
Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes.  Allow the pressure to come down naturally, remove the top and strain the solids out, and skim off any fat from the top of the stock. 

Season with salt and pepper.  At this point you should have 4 cups of stock which you can refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 6 months. 
Cook's Notes:
If you decide to change this up for a Mexican flavor, substitute 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, and 1 lime, cut into quarters for the thyme. 
For an Italian soup:  Substitute 2 minced garlic cloves and 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary for the thyme.  
I usually don't save the chicken from the pressure cooker since its limp and given up all its flavor for the stock.  Cut off all the meat you want to use in the soup before you put the carcass in the pressure cooker, you should have a good 2 cups if you are making soup.
*Don't peel the onion, it adds color and nutrition to the stock.

Chicken Orzo Soup
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped carrot
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped sage or thyme 
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup cooked orzo pasta
2 cups finely chopped chicken
salt and pepper

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil or butter, saute the onion, carrot, celery and sage for 3 to 5 minutes.  

Add the stock, orzo and chicken.  

Simmer for 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender. 
Soup is good food
The rain storms are blowing East, so if you are in the path of this storm, you'll be getting snow, and this is the perfect soup for a stormy day.  If you aren't using your Instapot or pressure cooker to make stock you aren't taking advantage of these great appliances.  Click here for a link to my pressure cooker book, it's got over 350 recipes to use in your pressure cooker or Instapot.  Enjoy your weekend, Ciao for now.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Passion for the Vines

 Over the years, Dr. C. and I have been privileged to stay in Spello and visit with the Angelini family at Enoteca Properzio during the months that we are living in town.  Every day is a different adventure, with new wines to sample and olive oils to try as well as delicious foods to pair with the wines, whether it's a dish cooked by the Enoteca or a taste from one of the cooking classes that they offer by appointment with a Michelin starred chef.
I tell people that there are 2 reasons to visit Spello, the first being Enoteca Properzio, the #1 wine cellar in Umbria, and one of the top three in Italy, and the Pinturichio frescoes in the church next door.  (Editor's Note:  the church is closed due to seismic damage, hoping to reopen in 2020, so go next door and have a glass of wine and some truffle pasta)

Offering wine tastings from exceptional vineyards, as well as lunch and dinner, the Enoteca is filled most days with wine lovers seeking special experiences and tastings.  
Father Roberto Angelini is a 7th generation wine merchant and master sommelier; taking clients through an unforgettable wine tasting, as they sample the best that Italy has to offer.  

 Son Luca and daughter Irene are the next generation of wine merchants, as well having started a successful line of beauty products made from organic olive oil and wines.  

What sets this place apart from any other place in Italy?  The word passion comes to mind.  The Angelini family are passionate about wine, and the local products that they serve with the wines; prosciutto di Norcia, the best pecorino from Pienza, torta al testo from a local bakery, organic olive oil from an organic farm 3 miles outside the walls of Spello, locally foraged truffles from about 10 miles away and they are passionate about making sure that you have a unique experience in this gem of a town that is one of the 100 most beautiful in Italy.  
Dessert wine with biscotti

The wines they serve are unique, and most are such small productions that they are not exported to the United States, but they can be shipped home along with olive oil and other products.  

Winter white truffle

This is my Valentine to our famiglia Angelini and their staff this holiday season.  Thank you for inviting us to the table to share in your hospitality.   Buon Natale everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Do-Ahead Thanksgiving Sides

Thanksgiving week is upon us, it's only Sunday, so relax and start cooking now so that on Thanksgiving you can just roast the turkey and relax with your family and friends.  For years I've taught my Do-Ahead Thanksgiving classes to sold out cooking schools.  Although the menu has never changed (you can find the recipes in my book Perfect Party Food) this year, I've decided to give you a few more ideas for sides which are really my favorite part of the meal.  Dr. C, our son and I are in Maui for the NCAA basketball tournament, and I will be cooking dinner here in a condo on Kaanapali on Thursday. 
Brussels sprouts had never been a favorite until I tried this recipes, now it's a go-to.  Roasting the sprouts brings out the sweetness in in the vegetables, pancetta provides crispy salty nuggets and the balsamic vinegar balances the whole thing.  Make sure to buy an aged balsamic from Modena. 

Holiday Brussels Sprouts
Serves 6

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
one 1/2-inch slice pancetta, cut into a fine dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters
salt and pepper
1/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with silicone, aluminum foil or parchment.
  2. In a bowl, combine the oil, pancetta, garlic, sprouts, salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the sprouts onto the baking sheet in an even layer.  
  4. Roast for 10 minutes, turn, and roast another 5 to 7 minutes until the sprouts are just al dente.  
  5. Remove from the oven, transfer to a serving bowl, and drizzle with the vinegar, tossing to coat.  
  6. Serve warm.  
  7. Do-Ahead:  When roasting, in step 4, roast for a total of 13 minutes, 10 to begin, turn and roast another 3 minutes.  Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.  Reheat in a skillet before proceeding.  

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 6 to 8
This is a delicious soup to keep warm in your slow cooker.  Refrigerate the finished soup for up to 4 days, or freeze it (without the cream) for up to 2 months.  

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped peeled and cored Granny Smith apple
8 cups cubed butternut squash
2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
8 strips bacon, cooked crisp, and crumbled
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, line 2 baking sheets with silicone, aluminum foil, or parchment.  
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oil, onion, apple, squash, thyme, and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 15 to 20 minutes until the squash is soft when pierced with the tip of a sharp paring knife.  
  3. Transfer the mixture to a Dutch oven, add the broth and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  
  4. Puree the soup with an immersion blender, add the cream, and bring to the soup to serving temperature.  
  5. Garnish each serving with crispy bacon.  
  6. Do-Ahead:  Prepare the soup through step 3, puree the soup, cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.  Reheat on the stove top add the cream and bring to serving temperature.  

Do-Ahead Cornbread Dressing
Serves 6 to 8

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 pound prosciutto, finely diced
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
2 firm pears, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
8 cups crumbled cornbread (use your favorite recipe)
4 to 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
salt and pepper

  1. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cups of the butter, and saute the prosciutto until it is crispy.
  2. Add the onion, celery, pears, thyme and sage leaves, and saute until the vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes.  
  3. Put the cornbread into a large bowl, add the onion prosciutto mixture, adding 3 to 4 cups of chicken broth,until the dressing holds together.  
  4. Coat the inside of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Transfer the dressing to the casserole, melt the remaining butter and drizzle over the dressing.  At this point you can cool, cover and refrigerate the dressing for up to 3 days.  
  5. Bring to room temperature and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes until the dressing is golden brown.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.  

One of my favorite desserts, that's easy and delicious is my mother's apple pie cake.  Basically apples seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, covered with a buttery pecan pour over crust that baked up into crispy topped apple pie.  This can be made the day before serving, or you can make the components and then bake while you are eating Thanksgiving dinner.  The photo doesn't do it justice, just trust me here that it's worth peeling the apples.  My favorite gadget peels cores and the apples in no time, or you can have your kids do it for you---it's endless entertainment!

Mom's Apple Pie Cake
Serves 6 

For the Apples
1 1/2 pounds apples, cored, peeled, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1.      To make the apple mixture, toss together the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
For the Batter

3/4 cup unsalted butter melted
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup pecan halves

1.      Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.  Transfer the apples to the prepared pan.
2.      To mix the batter, combine the melted butter, flour, sugar, eggs, and pecans, stirring until blended. Pour over the apples and bake until the top is crisp and golden, and the apples are bubbling underneath, 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

3.      Serve the cake warm or at room temperature with unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.  I'm grateful to all those
colleagues who have worked with me over the years, as well as the students who 
keep coming back for classes.  You make my days when I am on the road.  
Aloha and mahalo.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Fendi: Fashion and Wine

Several years ago, we had the pleasure of eating lunch with the enologist and the owner of Tenuta Le Corgne, Andrea Formilli Fendi at Enoteca Properzio. 
The winery was getting started, and the enologist was speaking about the Sauvignon Blanc and the Pinot Noir that they were producing at that time, about 300 bottles.  This year we were fortunate enough to visit the winery, Tenuta Le Corgne in the Northern Umbrian town of Valfabricca.  You don't just drop into vineyards like this, you have to be invited, and getting there is an adventure since the road is narrow, twisty and mostly gravel. 
Fendi, is a luxury brand specializing in fashion and leather goods.  They were founded in 1925 by Adele and Edoardo Fendi.  The next generation were 5 daughters.  If you know anything about Italy, you know that the men usually take over the family business, but since there was no male heir, the girls continued the brands' overwhelming success.  Franca Fendi's son, Andrea decided to grow grapes at the estate his mother had bought in the 1990's.  Originally a country estate where the family would gather for holidays, now the estate is an organic vineyard producing world class wines. 

 The winery sits on a hill overlooking a valley, with only 24 acres of vineyards, growing Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, and Merlot.  They have a few acres in Montefalco as well, growing some Sagrantino and Trebbiano Spoletino.
As you can tell it was a rainy, windy day up on the hill, and we were soon inside the winery discussing the process with the enologist, Martin.  Martin explained that the winery is all organic, the detris from the grape crush is put back into the limestone sandy soil, and to quote him, "this paradise must be maintained, not destroyed." 

Oak from Burgundy for the barrels

The grape crush had happened, and we were smelling the fermentation process as we came into the room filled with tanks.  This year there will be about 90,000 bottles of wine produced.  This wine will be hard to come by in the States, most is shipped within Europe and Asia.  

Our guide through the winery, Martin

Martin is the enologist at Formilli Fendi, and he is a genius.  If you have an opportunity to sample these wines, you will be amazed.  The Sauvignon Blanc is truly delightful, with a nose of white flowers, and citrus...many times a Sauvignon Blanc will be flat without any real flavor, acid or balance.  

We moved into the tasting room, and were surrounded by art, and wine; my favorite things

The door from the tasting room is historic, since it is the door to the original Fendi store in Rome

This white wine is Trebbiano Spoletino (indigenous to Umbria) and a bit of Sauvignon Blanc

Casa Franca is 50% Sagrantino, almost 50% Sangiovese and a bit of Merlot

Of course we tried these wines, and loved them, each with a distinctive nose and characteristics that make them unique and definitely worth buying if you can find them.  If you are in Italy, stop by Enoteca Properzio, they carry the wines and are happy to pour them for you.  

Another reason to love the Fendi family is that they provided 2.2 million Euro to restore the Trevi fountain in Rome.  
Our afternoon ended with us trundling down the hill to lunch with the administrator of the winery.  Grazie Tenuta Le Corgne for an unforgettable day.