Posts tagged ‘Parmesan’

October 10, 2014

Butternut Squash Pizza

Butternut Squash Pizza 1

Oh hey, Autumn.

This is my favorite time of the year in Seattle. Summer is great and all – with the sun and the beach and the barbecuing – but there is truly nothing that beats a crisp fall day. There is a bite in the air, golden leaves line the sidewalks, and cozying up with a book and a fresh cup of coffee is the perfect Sunday morning activity.

Of course there’s all the wonderful winter beers, but that’s a whole other story.

Nothing could be more seasonal than this Butternut Squash Pizza. The nuttiness of the parmesan and pistachio meets the sweetness of the squash and caramelized onions to form a soul-warming union of comforting flavors. Those lovely notes are reinforced with mellow mozzarella and earthy sage to boot. On top of it all, this dish just looks autumnal with its orange and green colors and sinister caramelized onion curls.

Serve this up next to a fresh-cut jack-o’-lantern after a day of traipsing around a corn field and you will be the epitome of Fall – not to mention the envy of all your friends.

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June 23, 2014

The Great Green Pizza

The Great Green Pizza

If chlorophyll could turn you green, then this pizza would make you into the incredible hulk. A happy, satiated hulk that is very content with his/her dining decision.

The peas and asparagus on this pizza retain just enough of natural crunch to provide a nice textural contrast while developing a faint sweetness under the heat of the oven. The roasted green onions bring a mild but noticeable flavor that winds up somewhere between biting onion and soothing vegetable. Combined with creamy mozzarella and sharp, salty parmesan cheese against a backdrop of aromatic pesto makes this a delicious and multi-dimensional dish.

With a light sauce, veg-heavy toppings and just the right amount of cheese, this pizza is perfect for the warm summer months. Find yourself a park or a patio and enjoy while you soak up the rays!

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January 1, 2014

Wild Mushroom and Spinach Gnocchi

IMG_2981

Happy 2014 everyone! In the spirit of new year’s resolutions and self improvement, this recipe is the story of a culinary challenge that I finally overcame last year.

Ever since I started cooking, homemade gnocchi has been my Everest. I looked at countless recipes and tried multiple times to make it, but I could never get it quite right. It was always wound up a sloppy mess or an over-floured taste-dud.

This Christmas though, I finally figured it out.

The trick, at least for me, was to give up on the idea that the dough should feel like pasta dough. With pasta, the dough tends to be pretty tough and not sticky at all. But if you try to get gnocchi dough to that consistency you’ll wind up adding so much flour that it ruins the flavor. Instead, the trick is to flour the outside of the dough just enough to roll it out. It’ll still be a little sticky and hard to work with, but the result is delicious.

And this recipe is the perfect way to dress a well-made gnocchi! All the ingredients are delicate and inviting, and together they form a rich yet sublime palette of flavors. The leeks impart a subtle onion flavor, while the mushrooms and parmesan provide notes of umami. And while you may be tempted to skip the sherry in this recipe, you shouldn’t. It adds a fantastic extra dimension to the already wonderful thyme-cream sauce.

Best wishes (and dishes) for the new year!

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August 5, 2013

“The Pizza”

THE PIZZA

It’s been months since I first made this pizza (I’ve made it several times since since then too), but I’ve held off on posting it for two simple reasons: it is too damn good to describe and too delicious to name.

I just can’t wait any longer to share this little miracle with you all though, so I’m simply going to refer to it as The Pizza.

How does it taste, you ask? Let me paint you a word picture.

Every ingredient, every part, every bite in The Pizza is positively bursting with delicious flavor. The sauce alone is something to marvel at; with some bread, it would be a noteworthy appetizer in its own right. It’s full of finely diced sauteed mushrooms that melt into the tomato sauce as it simmers, creating a whole new meaty depth of flavor. The shallots and sun-dried tomatoes add another layer of zest and complexity.

But The Pizza hardly ends at the sauce. The cheese trifecta of mozzarella, parmesan and mascarpone brings creamy, sharp, and nutty notes together over each slice. That richness is punctuated by earthy fresh basil, spicy arugula and tart balsamic vinegar. And there’s extra sliced mushrooms as well – because why not?

So the next time you have a free evening go ahead and dim the lights, light some candles, crank up the smooth jazz and make yourself The Pizza. It’s a culinary imperative.

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February 11, 2013

Green Pea and Mushroom Risotto with Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil

Risotto

I’m generally of the mind that when it comes to cooking, form follows function. Substance over style. The bite is more important than the bark. You get the idea.

Sometimes, though, it’s fun to cook something that just looks awesome.

This dish gives your the opportunity to do just that. The sticky, adhesive risotto can be made into a variety of shapes using everyday kitchen items. Further, the bold flavors are mirrored by bold colors that make for great presentation options.

This recipe is delicious in its own right – blending together a number of classic Italian flavors – but it’s also a great opportunity to practice your plating skills or impress a special someone with a bit of dramatic flair.

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November 24, 2012

Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Croquettes

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, plain and simple. Nothing against all the other holidays, but Thanksgiving has the perfect combination of football, food, and family that just can’t be beat.

And did I mention the food?

I love everything that’s on the Thanksgiving table, from the turkey to the mashed potatoes to the green beans to the cranberries. But every year I can’t help but long for a surprise in the mix. Some dish that comes along and turns the whole dinner on it’s head (in a good way!)

That’s what inspired these croquettes, which combine some classic Thanksgiving flavors with some not-so-traditional ingredients. The inspiration also came from one of my favorite food bloggers, Nick Evans over at Macheesmo, who recently crafted a Kabocha squash risotto topped with pomegranate and sage. It’s a damn good risotto, but I wanted to make something that emphasized the traditional Thanksgiving flavors of squash and sage.

These croquettes definitely hit the mark. The squash, along with the sweet potato that provides enough hold for frying, shine through in every bite of croquette, perfectly seasoned with sage, onion and a hint of parmesan. The pomegranate is a great twist, each a burst of tart, sweet juice.

When I made this I let it chill for 15 minutes the in freezer to really solidify it in preparation for frying it. Although it retained its shape well, the first one I fried was still cool in the center when I pulled it from the pan. Leaving it for only ten minutes in a refrigerator will mean the croquettes aren’t as firm –  making them a bit more finicky – but the end result is definitely worth it.

I think it’s going to be a new Thanksgiving tradition in the Rosemary Renaissance kitchen!

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September 23, 2012

BBQ Pizza with Pineapple & Arugula

While I was ingredient-hunting for this dish I ran head-first into a big old bottle of nostalgia. In Woodinville, where I grew up, there was a small, divey barbecue joint that I used to go to with my family. The lights were perpetually dim and the staff were all surly pranksters. Most importantly though, their barbecue was unparalleled.

The Armadillo barbecue eventually closed shop as Woodinville grew and gentrified. Although they reopened as a catering only operation in another town, I never saw anything from them again. Until, while wandering my local grocery store, I saw a bottle of their barbecue sauce.

Washingtonians – If you see Armadillo Barbecue sauce, purchase it immediately. I suggest a quick nip in the nearest alleyway to tide you over until you get home.

Now onto the pizza at hand. (See what I did there?)

A great barbecue sauce brings everything together, but the full cast of characters really makes this recipe. The pineapple highlights the sugars in the sauce while adding notes of tangy tartness. The red onion brings zest and cut through the underlying sweetness. The arugula, added at the very end so that it cooks just so, adds crunch and notes of spice.

All the toppings rest on a bed of Parmesan and mozzarella that sit atop fresh-made dough. Making your own dough can seem intimidating at first – I certainly was for me – but pizza dough is one of the simplest kinds to make. You wouldn’t expect flour, water and yeast to taste so good, but it really kicks this dish up a notch.

BBQ Pizza with Pineapple & Argula

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 envelope dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus reserve
  • 1/3 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 5 mozzarella balls, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced into half moons
  • 1/3 cup pineapple, diced
  • 2/3 cup arugula

 

  1. In a large, non-reactive bowl combine the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, water and olive oil. Mix until evenly combined and knead the dough into a smooth, firm ball.
  2. Coat the outside of the ball lightly with olive oil. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let stand until the dough doubles in size, approximately 1 hour. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to desired thickness (I recommend thin crust). Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil and cover lightly with olive oil. Place the dough on top. Spread the barbecue sauce over the dough, followed by the mozzarella and parmesan, red onion and pineapple. Place the pizza in the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and crust is golden brown, approximately 16-20 minutes.
  4. Remove the pizza from the oven and add the arugula on top. Let sit for at least 5 minutes, cut as desired and serve.
September 3, 2012

Italian Broccoli Fritter Stack

Every once in a while I cook something really, truly, supremely delicious.

It happens about once a year. In 2011 it was the Benedicto Italiano, which to this day is still probably the best thing I’ve ever made. In 2012, it’s this Broccoli Fritter Stack.

I have to give credit where it is due. This dish was inspired by the innovative broccoli fritter recipe over at rock star food blog Smitten Kitchen. Typical fritters are chalk-full of starchy goodness (potatoes, flour, rice, etc.) but these ones are made almost entirely of broccoli, with just enough parmesan and flour to hold them together. It’s the essence of broccoli, with just the right amount of frill.

The ensemble cast is just as important for this recipe, however. The portabello mushroom is simple – seasoned with just a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper – but flavorful, filling and tender. The sausage-infused sauce is slightly sweet, spicy and, most importantly, ruggedly filling. All you really need is something to sop up all the leftover goodies. Ciabatta? Done.

Presentation is always a secondary concern – substance before style – but this dish knocks it out of the park on that count as well. Each layer is vibrant and unique, with basil ribbons on top sealing the deal.

Cook this. Now. You won’t be disappointed.

Italian Broccoli Fritter Stack

  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage (I prefer spicy, but mild is fine)
  • 16 oz marinara sauce
  • 4 portabello mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • Broccoli Parmesan Fritters
  • 2 ciabatta rolls
  • 3-4 large basil leaves
  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium high. Saute the Italian sausage until crispy and lightly browned, approximately 7-10 minutes. Add the marinara and reduce heat to low. Continue to stir periodically.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the stems from the portabello mushrooms. Divide the olive oil, salt and pepper evenly and apply to the mushrooms. Place the mushrooms in the oven and cook until lightly tender, approximately 12-15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the broccoli parmesan fritters per Smitten Kitchen instructions.
  4. Cut the ciabatta rolls in half and toast lightly in the oven. Lay down a ciabatta roll, portabello mushroom, broccoli fritter and a dollop of sausage-marinara sauce. Top with a handful of basil ribbons and serve.
April 29, 2012

Cajun Carbonara

Contrary to popular opinion, real carbonara doesn’t involve cream, milk, or flour. The silky sauce is created by slowly heating eggs so that they thicken without scrambling. The result is a relatively rich dish with a unique texture that remains nonetheless quite healthy.

So how can you make it better? Infuse it with Cajun flavor!

The onions and peppers add sweetness and crunch, while the lineup of Cajun spices add heat, zest and a depth of flavor to the sauce. The intermittent hints of parsley break up the richness and spice with cool, refreshing notes. Add that to the chicken, pasta and carbonara base and you have a filling, vibrant dish.

This recipe tastes great, but to be honest one of my favorite things about it isthe color. The red, yellow and green of the peppers and parsley pop against the pasta to make a bright, vivid plate. A great meal for your eyes as well as your stomach!

Cajun Carbonara

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 chicken breast, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, julienned (I recommend one red, one yellow)
  • 1 small red onion, halved and cut into ribbons
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons pepper
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into eighths
  • 1/3 cup wine
  • 3 ounces pasta
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

 

  1. In a large skillet, heat the butter to high. Season the chicken breast, bell pepper and red onion with the spices. In a large pot, begin boiling water to cook the pasta.
  2. Add the chicken breast to the skill and saute until crispy and blacked, approximately 6-8 minutes. Set the chicken aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the bell pepper and red onion and saute until both begin to get tender, approximately 6-8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and saute for another three minutes. Set the vegetables aside with the chicken.
  4. Cook the pasta according to instructions. Reduce the heat of the skillet to medium-low. Use the wine to deglaze the pan, being sure to loosen any stuck on spices, chicken, or veggie bits.
  5. Add the eggs and Parmesan cheese to the deglazing liquid and whisk until combined. Add the cooked pasta and toss vigorously. The egg mixture should thicken, but not scramble.
  6. Toss the pasta with the chicken and vegetables. To serve, sprinkle with a little extra Parmesan cheese and top with parsley.
February 26, 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil and Chèvre Macaroni and Cheese

We’re drawing close to the end of Winter, and I’m going to take every opportunity possible to make comfort food while it’s still seasonally appropriate.

So a few weeks back I trekked through the snow to meet up with a couple friends and whip up this zesty version of a classic comfort food dish: Mac and Cheese.

Gourmet macaroni and cheese is all the rage these days amongst upscale restaurants. You can’t hardly look at a menu without seeing gruyère-and-lobster, blue-and-fig-and-rosemary, green chili, or countless other variations of the dish. Some people are tired of the trend, but to me it exemplifies one of the greatest techniques in cooking: the ability to separate the flavors from the vehicle – in this case, macaroni – and apply new ones to the dish.

I chose to use a handful of Italian ingredients to liven up the profile of the macaroni and cheese. Although normally somewhat aggressive flavors, the sun-dried tomato, basil and chèvre are all mellowed by each others presence. The tartness of the sun-dried tomato is balanced by the creaminess of the sauce, while the herbal notes of basil cut through the sharp, salty chèvre. The combination creates a distinctive, but deceptively tempered, dish.

This is a hearty meal with Italian flair is perfect for any dark, rainy evening. To serve, I recommend red wine and roaring fire.

Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil and Chèvre Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 cups macaroni
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomato, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chèvre
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 10 basil leaves, roughly shredded
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

 

  1. Cook the macaroni al dente according to instructions. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat a large saucepan to medium-high. Add the butter, onion, garlic and sun-dried tomato and saute for 6-8 minutes or until the onions begin to turn translucent.
  3. Reduce the heat to low. Add the heavy cream, chèvre, mozzarella, black pepper and oregano and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  4. Combine the macaroni, shredded basil and chèvre sauce in a large casserole dish and mix together until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese over the top and place the casserole dish in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
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