Thursday, April 26, 2018

Campanelle with Sausage, Porcini and White Wine Ragu

Campanelle pasta looks like it jumped out of a Georgia O'Keefe painting. Shaped like a calla lily, it lets the sauce permeate into its nooks and crannies. When you take a bite, your mouth is filled with a savory spurt, along with the requisite pasta taste. Such a pretty pasta deserves a special sauce.

Penne or orecchiette are an adequate substitute. Be aware that each pasta has a different cooking time. You could cook your pasta ahead of time. Drizzle the cooked pasta with a little olive oil so that it doesn't stick together. Warm it under hot running water before you serve. 

Today's sauce is a robust white wine, porcini and sausage ragu. Dried porcini mushrooms are hydrated in hot water.  These mushrooms and the soaking liquid add a gentle umami flavor to the sauce. Chopped onions and grated carrots are sauteed in lightly sauteed in olive oil. A ladleful of tomato paste is sauteed in the pan as well. A generous pour of chenin blanc makes a full bodied sauce. Rosemary and a bay leaf add depth of flavor. The pinch of clove powder adds a mysterious musky taste. Chicken stock thins the sauce. Browned fennel sausage is added to the sauce.The sauce simmers for a short time before it is ladled over al dente campanelle. A dusting of Parmesan completes the dish.

Serves 4

2 pounds Fennel Sausage
1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 cup dried Porcini Mushrooms
2 Onions
3 Carrots
3 tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 teaspoon fresh Rosemary leaves
1 Bay Leaf
2 cups White Wine
1 /2 cup Chicken Stock 
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1 pound Campanelle or Penne or Orecchiette
Parmesan Cheese

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a nonstick saucepan. Add sausage links to oil and saute on both sides till brown. Remove from pan and cut into 1 inch chunks. Keep aside.

Place dried mushrooms in a bowl. Pour 1 cup hot water over mushrooms. Let mushrooms steep for 15 minutes. Squeeze dry and roughly chop mushrooms. Save the soaking liquid.

Cut onion into small dice. 

Grate carrots using big holes. You should have large gratings.

Heat remaining oil in a Dutch oven or large deep saucepan.

Add onions and carrots and saute on medium heat for 5 minutes till onion is soft.

Push onions and carrots to the outer edges of the pan. 

Add tomato paste to the center of the saucepan. Let paste sit for 30 seconds before you mix it with the onions and carrots.  Saute for 2-3 minutes.

Add chopped porcini to saucepan.

Pour white wine into saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

Chop rosemary roughly.

Add rosemary, bay leaf and clove powder to sauce. Stir well till mixed. 

Pour mushroom liquid into the sauce making sure not to add the sediment at the bottom. Simmer sauce for another 5 minutes.

Then add chicken stock and sausage. 

Season with salt and pepper. 

Simmer for 10 minutes on a low flame.

Heat 6 cups water in a large pan.

When it boils add 2 tablespoons kosher salt to water. 

Add pasta and cook as instructed by the package directions. 

When you are ready to eat, mound a serving of pasta in a bowl or plate. Ladle the sausage ragu over pasta. Dust with grated parmesan cheese and parsley. Enjoy!

I am partial to this pasta by a mile. Frilly edges delight all senses. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Omelet Chutney Sandwich

The fun part about eating in Bombay is the profusion of fast food. I'm not referring to American institutions, just emphasizing a mind boggling array of easily available snack foods like vada pav, bhelpuri, samosas and Indianized sandwiches to name a few. The list is exhaustive so I will stop at sandwiches. One of my favorites is the chutney tomato cucumber. I could eat it on a daily basis. This was and still is a mid-morning, midday, mid-afternoon, midnight .. really an anytime snack.

This omelet version takes me down memory lane at Contemporary Arts & Crafts. It arrived with the mid-morning tea, the vanquisher of hunger pangs, a light snack hours before my late lunch. The chaiwallah, announced by the rattle of glass cups in a sectioned steel carrier, brought with him warm, brown paper covered sandwiches, the wrapping spotted with melted butter. Quickly opened, the package revealed panfried Britannia bread, slathered with Amul butter, layered with spicy green chutney, thin slices of tomato and a cilantro green chile flecked omelet. Pressed together and diagonally sliced, the sandwich was a promise of gratification, a hunger pacifier, a suitable accompaniment to the cup of tea, boiled with milk and sugar, familiarly known as kadak chai.

 American bread, butter and eggs don't quite taste the same as their Indian counterparts.  I improvise with Pepperidge Farm bread. Real butter, not a substitute. And home made green chutney when I can. The quality of eggs are your preference. Add a tomato or not. You could panfry assembled  sandwiches. I've toasted bread slices for a healthier outcome. Do what you think is best for you.

Makes 4 sandwiches

4 Eggs
2-3 green Chiles
3 tablespoons Cilantro
a large pinch of Salt 
Ground Pepper
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
8 Bread slices
Green Chutney- homemade (Recipe below) or store bought 
OPTIONAL- Tomato slices

4 green Chiles
2 tablespoons grated Coconut
1 cup Cilantro 
1 teaspoon Sugar
4 tablespoons Lime juice
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

Grind or blend all ingredients for the chutney till smooth. Do not use water. 

Scrape chutney out into a bowl. Keep covered till you use it.

Break eggs in a bowl and whisk well. 

Mince green chiles and cilantro finely. Add to eggs.

Season eggs with salt and as much ground pepper as you like. 

Heat oil in a nonstick 6 inch saucepan.

Whisk eggs well. 

Add half the eggs to the saucepan and cook till eggs are set, 3-5 minutes. Shake pan as the omelet cooks. Use a spatula to loosen the eggs. Slide cooked omelet on to a plate.

Finish cooking the rest of the eggs in the same pan. Keep omelets warm.

Assemble sandwiches by toasting bread slices lightly.

Butter slices generously.

Spread a thin layer of chutney on 4 slices.

Cut omelets in half.

Fold one half and place on buttered slice. You might have to adjust omelet to fit the bread slice.

Top with chutney slice. Press down gently. 

Cut sandwich in half and eat!

My brain and palate is hardwired to remember olfactory memories. This one is special. It carries joyful reflections from days of yore into the future. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Five Spice Pork Tenderloin

I bow down to the culinary prowess of Yotam Ottolenghi. Weekly recipes are welcomed with mouth watering frequency. The Guardian publishes a plethora of recipes. The New York Times has occasional gems. Then there are his cookbooks, an inspiration to a host of home cooks. Todays recipe is a pork lovers dream. Pork tenderloin is marinated overnight in simple ingredients, Chinese five spice powder, garlic, ginger, paprika, olive oil and a rather odd addition of maple syrup. A sort of Canadian-Chinese marriage of seasonings that works like a charm! Trust me!

From Yotam Ottolenghi's Chinese Five Spice Pork 
Serves 4

1 large Pork Tenderloin
1 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice powder
2 teaspoons Garlic paste
2 tablespoons grated Ginger
2 tablespoons Paprika
1 tablespoon Maple syrup
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black pepper
1 teaspoon Olive Oil

Put five spice powder, garlic paste, grated ginger, paprika, maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper in a nonreactive bowl. Mix well.

Coat tenderloin in spice paste. Poke holes in the tenderloin with a fork , allowing the marinade to penetrate.

Marinate pork overnight in the fridge for best results.

Let the pork come to room temperature for about two hours before you plan to cook it.

Heat oven to 400F.

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a nonstick saucepan. 

Sear pork tenderloin on both sides till brown.

Place pork in an ovenproof dish and roast uncovered for 20 minutes.

Remove from over and cover loosely with foil. Let pork rest for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and serve.

Roasting food when you are hungry is a process of breathless anticipation, fulfilled when we slice into succulent pork. Sauteed spring asparagus and cauliflower with garlic and pepper cosy up to the pork. No leftovers for us! 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Lamb and Barley Stew

Stew is always comforting. This one is especially so, as it almost always appears around the winter months. We are Irish for a few days in March, as the roots of this recipe are primarily that. 

I use an easy to trim lamb shoulder with a round bone. Trimmed of all visible fat the lamb, potatoes, carrots and barley are cooked in chicken broth. I use fingerlings or small whole potatoes as they hold their shape well. Carrots provide color and flavor. Bayleaf and thyme enhance freshness. A ton of ground pepper is the spice component. The result is a thick amalgam, one hearty stew that you can rest your spoon and laurels on.

Serves 4

1 pound Lamb Shoulder
2 tablespoons Butter
1 large Onion
1/2 pound Fingerling Potatoes
4 Carrots
1/2 cup Barley
2 Bay Leaves
10 Thyme sprigs 
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
2 cups Chicken Stock
Parsley, chopped

Wash and trim lamb of all visible fat. Chop into bite size chunks.

Chop onion into small dice.

Melt butter in a pressure cooker. If you are cooking the stew stove top melt the butter in a large Dutch oven.

Add chopped onion to butter and saute till translucent.

Add diced lamb to onions and saute till lamb is seared brown.

Add barley to lamb and saute for a few minutes.

Wash potatoes and carrots. Cut carrots onto 2 inch pieces. Leave potatoes whole. 

Add bay leaf, thyme sprigs, salt and pepper to meat. Mix well.

Pour chicken stock into meat and bring to a boil. Cover and pressure cook lamb for 16 minutes OR let meat cook covered stove top for 1 1/2 hours till tender. 

Uncover and fish bayleaf and thyme sprigs out of the stew. 

Garnish with chopped parsley.

Serve stew hot with rice or soda bread.

An intoxicating aroma fills the kitchen the moment the stew is uncovered. Pressure cooked or slow cooked, this stew has all the characteristics of a hearthwarming meal.