Posts Tagged ‘basil’

BLT Hot Dogs with Caraway Remoulade

January 27, 2013

IMG_9554I do not pride myself on being ahead of culinary trends, or even knowing when one has come and gone. However, I read enough food magazines and go out to eat enough to realize that we really are seeing a trend of casual/street food turned gourmet. Restaurants serve gourmet $20 burgers with fois gras, hot spots are touting fancy wood-fired pizzas wearing brussels spouts and pistachios and taco joints are serving up the traditional Mexican fare stuffed with braised short ribs and kimchi. But one of the most fascinating trendy spots I have seen is a restaurant downtown that showcases what a dressed up hot dog can really do. And this place really does the job – a turducken dog, a croque monsieur with ham and bechamel, and a Chevy Chase complete with pretzels and beer cheese.

At first I was skeptical – that is until I actually had one of these exhibitions of gourmet picnic food. Who knew a hot dog could be so multi-dimensional. And, as a home cook, it has opened my eyes to what “dressed up casual food” I could make on an average weeknight.

So, when I saw a recipe for a BLT hot dog with caraway remoulade in my Food and Wine magazine, I thought why not? It is quick (easy for a weeknight), cheap (how much can all beef dogs really be?) and completely unique (not sure who decided to put bacon on a hot dog, but that person should win a Pulitzer Prize).

I cannot rave enough about this super simple recipe that tasted exactly like a BLT (but a bit better, to be honest!). The lettuce mixed in the homemade remoulade really makes the dish, so make sure to get a bite of it along with the dog, tomatoes and bacon.

This is surely going in my recipe book not only for an easy weeknight standby, but also to really mix up my next grill out. Who said picnic food can’t be a little fancy?

BLT HOT DOGS WITH CARAWAY REMOULADE
Serves 8

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 teaspoons chopped capers
1 tablespoon chopped dill pickle
1 tablespoon caraway seeds, toasted
8 hot dogs, cooked
8 hot dog buns, toasted
8 slices of crisp, cooked applewood-smoked bacon
1 cup chopped tomatoes
4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1/3 cup small basil leaves

In a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the shallot, capers, pickle and toasted caraway seeds.

Put the cooked hot dogs in the buns; top with the bacon and tomatoes. Toss the lettuce and basil with some of the caraway remoulade. Top the dogs with the slaw. Serve any remaining remoulade on the side.

Spaghetti with Sicilian Meatballs

January 13, 2013

IMG_9502When we were in Italy, what struck me most is that there truly isn’t “Italian” food. Rather, their food is identified by the region you are in. Spaghetti and clams in the Italian Riviera. Boar in Tuscany. Pizza in Naples. That is why I was so intrigued when I saw a recipe for Sicilian meatballs in Bon Appetit.

The food of Sicily has a Greek and sometimes African influence, making it have more olives, capers and currants than you would find in the “boot.” So when looking at the meatball recipe, at first glance it seemed very traditional. Sausage meat (which was an interesting twist on the typical beef, veal, pork combo), breadcrumbs in milk, garlic, onion, etc. Yet, then they add pine nuts and currants to make it have a bit of nutty sweetness. They are baked, and then smothered in a traditional Italian red sauce.

This dish has that same warm, comforting result as typical Italian meatballs, but they do have an interesting sweetness to them that makes them have a “hmm, what’s that?” factor. It is a great alternative to a typical bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, and will be making its way to our dinner table as a great Sicilian (not Italian!) dish!

SPAGHETTI WITH SICILIAN MEATBALLS
Serves 4-6

Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Meatballs:
2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons dried currants

1 pound spaghetti

For Sauce:
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add onion; sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juices and 2 tablespoons basil; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens, breaking up tomatoes with fork, about 1 hour. Mix in 2 tablespoons basil. Season with salt and pepper. Set sauce aside.

For Meatballs:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil baking sheet. Mix crumbs and milk in medium bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Mix in Parmesan, onion, basil, egg, garlic and pepper. Add sausage, pine nuts and currants; blend well. Using wet hands, form mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place on baking sheet. Bake until meatballs are light brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Add to sauce.

Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Mound in dish. Bring sauce and meatballs to simmer. Mix with and spoon over spaghetti.

White Pizza with Tomato and Basil

April 11, 2011

For Christmas this year, my sister-in-law bought me a pizza stone. But not just any pizza stone – one that you can use in the oven as well as on the grill. There is something so utterly Italian about pizza over a fire, so I knew my love of pizza needed to spill into the grilling world.

What started as a gift that I intended as a summer staple, has now turned into a year-round necessity.

The purpose of a pizza stone is to evenly distribute the heat, as well as to extract moisture to give a crispier crust. And, after experiencing various methods, I have to give the win to the pizza stone.

And a pizza stone is a great way to cook this flavorful vegetarian pizza recipe – inside or outside. The pesto adds a great flavor and the cheese and tomatoes are, well, essential to a good pizza. You can use refrigerated pesto (which is what I used to make it an easier weeknight meal) and by doing so you can put this pizza together in 20 minutes. I tend to actually roast the tomatoes, though, to bring out the flavors – but it is your call on whether you want them cold and fresh or warm and sweeter.

Thanks to Gina for opening my eyes to the best way to make a pizza. And thanks to Cooking Light for this great, go-to quick pizza recipe!

WHITE PIZZA WITH TOMATO AND BASIL
4 Servings

1 (10-ounce) Italian cheese-flavored thin pizza crust (you could also make this with refrigerated dough as well, but your cooking times will vary)
1 teaspoon cornmeal
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons refrigerated pesto with basil (such as Buitoni)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sliced small tomatoes (such as Campari tomatoes)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup small basil leaves
Crushed red pepper (optional)

Preheat broiler to low.

Place a pizza stone in oven; heat for 10 minutes.

While pizza stone heats, place crust on another baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Lightly coat crust with cooking spray. Spread pesto evenly over crust, leaving a 1-inch border; sprinkle mozzarella evenly over pesto. Dollop ricotta, by teaspoonfuls, evenly over mozzarella. Slide crust onto preheated pizza stone, using a spatula as a guide. Broil 5 inches from heat for 5 minutes or until cheese begins to melt. Remove from oven; top evenly with tomatoes, black pepper, and basil. Sprinkle with red pepper, if desired. Cut into 8 slices.

Pasta with Basil Pesto

November 18, 2010

Until spending time in Cinque Terre, Italy, I hadn’t had much pesto in my life. Not sure if it was the intimidating color, the name’s meaning (means “to pound,” yikes!) or the fact that my husband claimed he was never a big pesto fan.

Yet, on our first night in Vernazza, sitting at a restaurant on the sea, we followed an antipasti plate of fresh fish with a big, heaping bowl of spaghetti topped with the greenest, freshest, most flavorful sauce I have never had. And it was, of course, pesto.

As you can imagine, upon returning from the trip when I contemplated making my own pesto, I had no arguments from my husband. We had found a new love and new appreciation for this sauce that originates in the Ligurian coast of Italy.

I pulled this recipe from La Cucina Italiana (have I mentioned I am obsessed with this magazine?). Seemed simple and authentic – pine nuts, basil, parmigiano reggiano and pecorino romano, garlic, sea salt and olive oil. But the mistake I made was trying to make it the authentic way – without authentic tools.

Pesto is made is a mortar and pestle. Why not? If that is how the Italians do it, then that is how I will do it. The small problem (well big problem) was, that I didn’t have one. My substitution was a muddler, and it was a sad replacement. So, alas, my pesto ended up in a food processor. The result tasted fantastic, but it made me put a mortar and pestle (authentic marble, of course) on my Christmas list so I can be a true Ligurian next time I indulge in this green goodness.

Authentic tools or modern luxuries – either way I encourage you to try this simple sauce next you want to vary your color palate and your culinary palate.

PASTA WITH BASIL PESTO
Serves 4

¼ cup pine nuts
2 cups tightly packed basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, lightly smashed, peel removed
Coarse sea salt
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb pasta of your choice

Place pine nuts in a medium skillet and heat over medium-low heat. Cook, occasionally shaking the pan back and forth over the heat, until nuts are toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer nuts to a plate to cool completely.

Rinse basil and gently, but thoroughly, pat dry with paper towels. Place in a mortar with cooled pine nuts, garlic and pinch salt. Using the pestle with a rotary movement, grind ingredients against the wall of the mortar, until ground to a paste. Add both cheeses and grind into mixture to combine.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl. In a slow and steady steam, add oil, whisking constantly.

Pesto is best used the same day but keeps, its surface covered with a thin layer of olive oil and tightly covered, chilled, for 3 days.

To dress pasta, dilute pesto with a tablespoon or two of pasta cooking water, toss with hot pasta (just cooked and drained), add a tablespoon or two of butter and toss again. Serve at once.

Pancetta Cheeseburgers with Tomato, Basil and White Bean Salad

April 18, 2010

I wouldn’t consider myself a burger grilling master but I know the basics.

I know to buy the chuck (80/20) for its fat content (making the burger juicier). I know not to touch the burgers for a while (resisting the urge to take a peak) so it doesn’t crumble when you try to flip. And I know to make the patties with a small dent in the middle so they don’t end up with a bubble on top.

But, what I didn’t know was that I think, for all these years, I have been buying the wrong meat. 80/20 chuck is certainly the right meat, but I think pre-packaged was the wrong move. Sure, it is cheaper and easier, but I am not sure it makes for the best burger. When I tried these Martha Stewart Pancetta Cheeseburgers I went to Fresh Market and bought fresh ground chuck (to order), and not only was the color of the meat magnificent, but it was probably the best ground chuck I have ever had.

Not to mention this particular recipe is a clear winner – it has a bit of a kick, lots of flavor and a great crunch with the baked pancetta. My only alteration would be to perhaps make more than one pancetta piece per burger (ok, I know it isn’t the healthiest alteration but pancetta might be the best thing on the planet!). In addition, the bean salad that was recommended to be served alongside the burgers was fantastic, and is a great summer dish. I also couldn’t find fontina at my store so I used provolone. I don’t know if it was better or not, but I do know it was darn good.

Happy grilling!

PANCETTA CHEESEBURGERS
Serves 4

4 thin slices pancetta (I would even recommend 8 if you love pancetta like me!)
1 1/4 pounds ground chuck
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Freshly ground pepper
4 ounces fontina cheese, thinly sliced
4 hamburger buns, toasted if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pancetta on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, flipping the slices halfway through, until crisp, about 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, using your hands, combine ground chuck, salt, chili powder, and paprika in a bowl, and season with pepper. Shape into 4 patties (about 4 inches in diameter).

Preheat grill to medium. (If you are using a charcoal grill, coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill for just 5 to 6 seconds.) Grill burgers 4 to 5 minutes. Flip burgers, and top with cheese. Grill 3 to 4 minutes more for medium-rare. Remove, and let rest 5 minutes. Top burgers with pancetta, and serve on buns.

TOMATO, BASIL and WHITE BEAN SALAD
Serves 4

2 cans (19 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 pound small roma (plum) tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 small garlic cloves, minced

Combine beans, tomatoes, basil, and salt in a bowl, and season with pepper.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Pour over bean mixture, and gently toss. Let stand 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld. Salad can be covered and kept at room temperature up to 4 hours.

Cherry Tomato Pizza Margherita

April 7, 2010

If it weren’t for my husband’s heritage, my love of Italian food and my upcoming trip to Italy, I might not know as much about pizza as I do. But, in watching travel shows, reading articles and skimming magazines, I have a new appreciation for pizza – especially of Italian origin.

Growing up I wasn’t a big “plain pizza” fan. I loved pepperoni and even until lately would normally get the pizza with all the fixings. It is once I learned about pizza margherita – and tried it the right way, with the right ingredients – that I fell in love with it.

Back in 1844, the King of Italy, and his wife, Queen Margherita di Savoia, were on holiday in Naples. They called the most popular pizza chef (pizzaioli) to make various kinds of pizza for them. But Queen Margherita fell in love with the pizza sporting the colors of the Italian flag, with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. He affectionately called it Pizza Margherita after the Queen. Although our trip to Italy won’t include Naples, I have always heard you haven’t had pizza margherita until you have had it in Naples.

But, this recipe from Bon Appetit has to come in a close second. Cooking the tomatoes on the stove then mixing with basil, garlic, fennel and red pepper flakes give it amazing flavor. I changed the recipe a bit since our grocery store didn’t have the multitude of mozzarella cheeses the recipe requires. My adaptation is below.

Bon Appetit!

CHERRY TOMATO PIZZA MARGHERITA
Serves 4

1 13.8-ounce tube refrigerated pizza dough
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 12-ounce bag cherry tomatoes, stemmed
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed in plastic bag
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (I used a little more since I love spice)
1 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella, diced
1/2 cup finely shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves plus small leaves for garnish

Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Unroll dough on heavy large baking sheet; pull to about 12×8-inch rectangle, pinching any tears to seal. Fold over edge of dough to make border.

Heat large skillet over high heat 2 minutes. Add oil, then tomatoes; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until tomatoes are charred and beginning to break down, about 5 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in garlic, fennel, and crushed red pepper. Using back of fork, crush tomatoes in bowl, leaving large chunks intact. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Toss cheeses and chopped basil in medium bowl.

Sprinkle cheese mixture evenly over dough, right up to border. Spoon on tomato mixture in dollops, leaving some cheese uncovered. Bake pizza until crust is crisp and brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Loosen pizza with metal spatula and slide onto board. Garnish with basil leaves.

NOTE: If you like your crust a little crispier, here are a few tips:

1. Bake a little longer than 20 minutes.

2. Coat the bottom of the pan with cornmeal

3. Bake the crust ALONE (sans toppings) for about 5-10 minutes to give it a head start, then finish the baking with the toppings.

White Four-Cheese Pizza with Basil and Garlic

May 3, 2009

img_0319White pizza always sounds a bit strange – isn’t pizza supposed to have tomato sauce? But there is something about white pizza that I just love – a great variety vs. the traditional pizza we all expect.

Pizza is an easy weeknight meal that doesn’t entail much prep work, unless you want to make your own dough. I use refrigerated dough in this one, but you could easily make your own if you choose. I am sure if you have a love for other white cheeses, they would deserve some real estate on this pizza as well. This recipe is thanks for Bon Appetit.

WHITE FOUR-CHEESE PIZZA WITH BASIL AND GARLIC
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 13.8 oz tube refrigerated pizza dough
All purpose flour
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-1/3 inch cubes
3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons thinly sliced basil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with 1 tablespoon oil. Mix remaining 2 tablespoons oil and garlic in small bowl.

Roll out pizza dough on lightly floured work surface to 14×10-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to prepared pan, pushing dough slightly up sides. Brush dough with garlic oil. Top with mozzarella cheese and goat cheese, leaving 1/2-inch plain border. Crumble ricotta cheese over, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and basil.

Bake pizza until crust is golden brown and cheeses melt, about 18 minutes. Let stand 3 minutes.img_0313

Sciue Sciue Pasta

March 17, 2009

img_01771Sciue’ Sciue’ literally means “improvisation” in Italian. So, technically, since the dish is all improv, you can really make it however you want it! This classic recipe is so simple, and merely combines quality Italian ingredients together for amazing, pure flavors. It is one of my husband’s favorite dishes – and especially during lent, it is fast becoming a Friday night ritual.

This particular recipe calls for ditalini (thimble-shaped pasta), which is commonly used in pasta fagioli. Although not every store carries this little pasta, I highly recommend finding it because the small holes hide all of the robust flavors.

I have to credit this Sciue Sciue rendition to Giada De Laurentiis. Although she doesn’t like to add heat to many of her Italian dishes like I do, her fresh combinations with classic Italian ingredients always result in a winning dish.

Sciue’ Sciue
8 servings

Salt
1.5 cups (about 6 ounces) ditalini or other small tube-shaped pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 plum tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored and chopped
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, drained and cut into .5 inch cubes
8 large fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the ditalini and cook, stirring often to prevent the pasta from sticking together, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and saute just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the cooked pasta. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the cheese and basil and toss to coat. Season the pasta to taste with salt. Spoon the pasta into bowls and serve immediately.


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