Monday, February 28, 2011

My Godfather would be proud.

Okay, so if you've ever read my blog you may have decided that my taste can sometimes be a little suspect. Sure I pop open the occasional can of Spaghetti-Os (I eat it when I'm really nervous) but I know food and have a serious appreciation for the finer things. Is it so wrong that I am capable of enjoying a lovely seared piece of foie gras as well as a microwavable double chili cheeseburger from 7-11? I know the difference. I just see things for what they are (including the deliciously addictive terrible chemicals that make up a lot of junk food). Everybody has vices. While yours may be crystal meth or huffing drain cleaner mine happens to be junk food (washed down with tasty booze treats). But this aint therapy. We're not gonna talk about what we do behind closed doors right now. Remove the image of me with Taco Bell sauce on my face. Time to class things up a bit. This is serious Violet talking now. My culinary diploma is sitting on my desk as we speak just to show you how dead-eyed serious I can be. Like hurricane or cancer serious. Yes, I am that serious. Okay, maybe not that serious but no really, I do have a serious question for you. Do you want to know how to make the Italian beefy-roll wonder dish called Braciole? How about Melted Leek and Crimini Mushroom Bruschetta? Well, do you?!  Of course you do. Why wouldn't you? Unless of course you have no arms and haven't figured out how to cook with your toes like that guy on That's Incredible. Then I could see not giving a shit about recipes and whatnot.  You, my friend are excused.
Braciole Stuffed with Spinach and Italian Sausage

1 1/2 lbs flank steak
1 lb of hot Italian sausage, casings removed (if the sausage isn't spicy add a pinch of red pepper flakes)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dried Italian bread crumbs
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 cups fresh packed spinach
salt and freshly ground black pepper tt
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups basic marinara sauce (homemade or a good jarred sauce)

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

In a bowl gently mix together the crumbled sausage, garlic, bread crumbs, parmigiano reggiano, parsley, and thyme.

In a pot of boiling water briefly blanch the spinach (1-2 minutes).  Shock in cold water and drain.  Wrap the spinach in a towel and squeeze out any extra moisture.

Lay the flank steak on a flat surface.  Season with salt and pepper.  Starting at one end.  Spread the sausage mixture in an even layer about 3/4 of the way down on the steak.  At the end you started at, place the spinach.  Don't spread it just keep it like a log at the front.  Carefully roll the beef into a big pinwheel.  It should resemble a Hostess Jelly Roll.  Tie it using butchers twine to keep it tight and secure.
Season the outside of the braciole.

Place a a large dutch oven or oven proof pan over medium heat. In 2 Tbsp olive oil brown the braciole on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the tomato sauce and cover.  Bake until the meat is almost tender, turning the braciole and basting with the sauce every 30 minutes. After an hour, uncover and continue baking until the meat is fork tender, about 30 minutes more.

Slice across into beautiful pinwheels and serve with the sauce.

and if you're still hungry:

Melted Leek and Crimini Mushroom Bruschetta

1 large leek, just the white part, cleaned and diced
1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp sherry
1 fresh baguette
white truffle oil
sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper
olive oil

In a pan over medium heat saute the leeks garlic, and shallots in butter until soft.  Add the mushrooms and cook about 3 more minutes until the mushrooms are mostly cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper. Add the sherry and cook 2 minutes to cook the alcohol out.

Slice the baguette and brush both sides with olive oil.  Cut a clove of garlic in half and gently rub the bread with the garlic.  In a grill pan over medium high heat (or an outdoor grill) Toast the bread to get pretty grill marks 1-2 minutes each side.  Top the toast with the mushroom leek mixture.  Drizzle with truffle oil and season with salt and pepper.  Serve with a lovely bold red Italian wine.  Mangia!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's Cold in Here.

It's really hard to eat healthy in the middle of Winter.  All I want is heavy rib sticking fuel to get me through the day.  Although I have to say that since (believe it or not) I'm not a logger or a fishing vessel sea captain I don't need to eat 2 pounds of lasagna for lunch.  My body is not being subjected to the harsh elements and back breaking manual labor so I can manage on a few less calories.  Not to say that I don't eat like a tight end (teehee) for the Seattle Seahawks.  This girl can put away chow like nobody's business.  I guess I'm just trying to fool myself into thinking I need to eat more healthy.  I'm not getting any younger and my metabolism and I are no longer on speaking terms.  My brain is like "Hey Vi, it's party time. Order up some pizza and wings sista!"  and my belly is like "Well, you never know when you're going to get stranded under an avalanche. I better store all this fat for later."  So as I grow older I attempt to once in a while put something green in my mouth.  That getting wiser as I get older thing is gonna happen any minute now.

Niçoise Salad is salad greens with tuna (I use a nice Italian canned tuna), hard cooked eggs, Niçoise olives (kalamata will work just as well) and in my version, bacon.  Like I said, I have to trick myself a little bit.  I made a nice tarragon shiitake mushroom vinaigrette and lightly tossed it with some chopped romaine hearts.  You can also add things like roasted peppers or marinated artichokes and that would be yummy.  A dusting of finely grated manchego cheese later and it even felt like a for reals full meal.  I can eat salads like this all the time.  Sure, it's loaded with fatty goodness but it's healthier than a couple of Double Deluxe Dick's Burgers with fries and a Coke.  Yum, I sure would eat that right now.  What's the sound of mouthwatering?