Archives for the month of: May, 2010

Want to impress your brunch guests with a simple but rustically elegant dish? Originally crafted by the Italians, frittatas are an excellent tasty attention getting brunch item that is so simple to make. Frittatas are also good for picnics, lunch boxes and a light dinner. A frittata is basically an egg pie that you can make with a variety of food items. These are great for dealing with leftover veggies, cooked meats, cheeses and chopped herbs.

I would consider this more along the lines of Intuitive Cooking since there are only a few specifics you’ll need to know. Use what you have in the refrigerator and don’t over worry about amounts. Put in what you have and how much you’d like. Normally you won’t have to plan too far ahead, you’ll just have to remember a few very simple rules and suggestions.

The first thing you’ll need is a well-seasoned 12-inch cast iron skillet.

Ingredients:

1 Doz. Fresh Organic Cage Free Eggs (see if you can get these locally or from a farmer’s market)
1/3 Cup Organic Heavy Cream, Half & Half or Milk
2 – 3 Cups Shredded Asiago, Gruyere or Swiss cheese (or whatever is in your fridge)
2 TBS Olive Oil
Minced Garlic
Sliced Onion
Chopped Veggies
Cooked Meats (optional)
To Taste Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Herbs of Choice

Directions:
(or rather rules and suggestions)

Pre-heat oven to broil setting.

Break eggs into a mixing bowl and beat until well incorporated. The more eggs you have, the thicker the frittata will be. Add cheese, cream, salt & pepper and herbs to eggs and stir in (reserving some cheese to sprinkle on top). Set aside.

Heat up olive oil in a cast iron skillet until hot enough to sauté the onions and garlic but not to burn them. Add onions and stir occasionally until they are translucent. Adding the garlic just before the onions are done so the garlic becomes fragrant but not burnt.

Add any chopped veggies you might want and cook until they are still a bit firm and crispy (al dente’).

Add any cooked meat(s) you want at this time. Get a good visual ratio of veggies (meat) to egg.

Add the egg mixture and stir well. Let the eggs set but still a bit runny on the top. With a heatproof silicone spatula, lift the egg in several places from the parameter of the pan tilting it to let the uncooked egg mixture ooze it its place.

Traditionally the frittata would then be either flipped over in the skillet or by placing another pan on top of the skillet, turning it upside down so the old top is now on the bottom of the second pan. It is called a frittata because it is fritta (fried). That’s kind of a hassle and who (besides me) has two skillets?

Here’s what I do at this point:

I sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the frittata and place in the oven broiler until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Be careful not to over cook it or it will become rubbery.

Remove from oven and let rest for several minutes.

Serve with fresh fruit and your favorite brunch beverage.

To give you an example, here’s what I put in my frittata this morning:

Onion & Garlic
Tomatoes
Ground Beef (Organic)
Black Beans
Cilantro
Asiago
Jalapeño and Serrano peppers
and topped it off with Pico de Gallo

Yumm!

Note of interest:

Zenyattà Mondatta is the third album by The Police, released in 1980.
Zenyattà Mondatta are invented portmanteau (a blend of) words, hinting at Zen, at Jomo Kenyatta (Prime Minister (1963–1964) and President (1964–1978) of Kenya.), at the French word for the world (“le monde”) and at Reggatta, from the previous album’s name, Reggatta de Blanc.

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

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Strawberries are making their grand entrance into the grocery stores now and are always a long awaited treat. Luscious, plump, ripe and juicy, these succulent beauties are among the Aphrodites of fruits. Although they are good in desserts like strawberry/rhubarb pie, strawberry shortcake, tarts, etc., they stand their own chilled, dipped in chocolate or drizzled with cream and served with Champagne. Purchase them late May throughout the summer looking for firm, plump, fragrant and completely ripe berries (red all the way around the berry – they won’t ripen once they have been picked). Strawberries with their stems attached makes it easy to feed to one another. With their delicate skin, wash them off just before using, patting them dry with a paper towel. Buying local, seasonal and organic insures the greatest possible quality, nutritional value and taste.

A couple other interesting things about strawberries are that they contain anti-oxidants, vitamin C and protects against diseases such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration. Strawberries are the only fruit with the seeds on the outside.

Here are some very simple and delicious recipes for strawberries:

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

1 Pint Fresh, Ripe, Organic Strawberries
12 Oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Directions:

In a double boiler melt the chocolate. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can put a glass or stainless steel bowl on top of a pot of boiling water. In either case, keep the water level below the bottom of the pot or bowl containing the chocolate. Stir with a wooden spoon till completely melted. Let cool off a bit until the chocolate coats the strawberries without dripping off. Place on a sheet pan (cookie sheet) lined with parchment or wax paper. Refrigerate till the chocolate sets and the berries are nice and cold.

Strawberries with Chantilly Cream

1 Pint Fresh, Ripe, Organic Strawberries
1 Pint Fresh Organic Heavy Cream
1 Whole Vanilla Bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1 teas. Cognac (Optional)
to taste Powered Sugar

Directions:

Chill the bowl you are going to use to whip the cream in. Add the cream to the chilled bowl. Split the vanilla bean, scrap out the seeds and add to the cream. (or add vanilla extract) Add powered sugar to the sweetness you prefer. Whip with a mixer or by hand with a whisk until soft peaks start to form. Whip a little more if you want the cream to be more dense, but don’t over do it. You’ll end up with butter. Drizzle strawberries with the Chantilly cream and serve.

Note: Place the spent vanilla bean in your sugar container to make vanilla sugar.

Serve with chilled Champagne or Riesling.

Enjoy!

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com

One of the most important things to me about food is sharing with and making new friends. I recently had the opportunity to befriend someone who taught me how to make authentic Italian tomato sauce and meatballs over pasta. She learned to cook by hanging out in the kitchen with her Sicilian grandmother since she was a little girl. One of the things that fascinated me was that this is purely intuitive cooking. It appears to take a whole family to cook a meal. Everyone contributes as they pass through the kitchen: it needs a little more salt, more wine, it’s too thick – let’s add some pasta water, etc. etc. etc. I wonder how anyone in an Italian family has ever written a cookbook, you could never keep track of who put what in the sauce and how much. It is always good, but never exactly the same. The only exception is if Grandma rules the kitchen and promises to bludgeon you with a wooden spoon if you get to close to the stove.

The same thing happened when I went to Baja Mexico. I sat down with a friend of the family in La Paz and was taught to make authentic Mole’ from scratch. It was one of the most intense recipes I have ever made and it was delicious! I spoke more Spanish than she did English but we were able to communicate well enough and when I got home I had to decipher the recipe that I had written both in English and Spanish.

The utmost enjoyable part of any journey is sitting down at the table, breaking bread, pouring wine, eating fine food and enjoying the company.

Here’s my version of an intuitive recipe for authentic Italian Tomato Sauce and Meatballs over Pasta.

I’m giving amounts and measurements for the sake of convenience. Feel free to use more or less of anything as you see fit. That’s the beauty of intuitive cooking, cook how you want it to be. And remember, the fresher the ingredients, the better its going to taste!

Authentic Italian Tomato Sauce

Makes about a quart.

Ingredients:

Battuto (Italian version of mirepoix)
(Separately mince each of the following ingredients in a food processor and use the amount indicated or to your taste):

2 TBS Onion
1 TBS Carrots (more if you want it sweeter- no sugar needed here!)
1 TBS Celery
1/2 TBS Garlic

Then add:
1 TBS Tomato paste (Optional)
1 TBS Fresh Basil (Chopped fine)
1/2 TBS Italian Parsley (chopped fine)
2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

Sauté the battuto over medium heat in olive oil till onions and garlic become translucent. Don’t let the garlic burn. Now it is referred to as a soffritto.

Add:

1 28oz. can Whole Peeled San Marzano tomatoes (regular ones if you can’t find these)
1/4 Cup Red Wine

If you like your tomatoes more chunky (like I do) just crush them in your hand as you add them to the pot and then mash them a bit with a potato masher. If you want your sauce to come out more smooth, run them through a food mill being sure to scrape off all the bits and pieces from the bottom of the mill.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for at least 2 hours. If sauce becomes too think, thin with some hot pasta water.

About 5 to10 minutes before serving, add:

1 TBS Fresh Basil (Chopped fine)
to taste Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

While the sauce is simmering, about 11 or 12 minutes before it is done, start the pasta. You can use virtually any type of paste, but I’d stick with spaghetti, linguini or fettuccini. Cook pasta in a large pot with lots of boiling water and a few pinches of salt. No oil is needed if the pasta has room to swim around. It won’t stick together that way. You’ll know when it is al dente (“to the tooth” as the say) when you remove a strand of paste, bite it and look at the center. There should be a very small portion in the exact middle that is still white and it will be slightly crunchy. This is just right because after you serve it with the sauce and meat balls it will continue to cook and be perfect when you eat it.

Authentic Italian Meatballs

Makes about12 – 15 golf ball size

Ingredients:

1 Lb. Organic, natural grain and grass fed ground beef (I use Laura’s Lean Beef)
1 or 2 LG Eggs
2 TBS Fresh Italian Parsley (chopped)
3 TBS Parmesan
2 TBS Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
4 Cloves Garlic (minced)
1 teas. Oregano (dried)
Milk or Ricotta
to taste Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
2 TBS Olive Oil

Directions:

Mix above ingredients in a bowl, then hand form into meatballs. Brown in a cast iron skillet with the olive oil. Flip them with a fork to brown the other side. Transfer to sauce as you start the pasta. Continue to simmer in sauce as the pasta is cooking.

Serve topped with fresh ground pepper and Parmesan cheese, garlic bread, a salad and nice red Italian wine such as Chianti.

This next recipe is for Beef Braciole. I tried my hand again at intuitive cooking and it came out great! No need for measuring out amounts, just put in how much of whatever you are using to your taste.

Beef Braciole

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 LBS Flank Steak, Round Steak or Beef Tenderloin
Parmesan (Grated)
Garlic (Minced) (or Garlic Powder)
Flat Italian Parsley (Chopped)
Basil (Chopped)
Oregano(Chopped)
To taste: Salt and fresh ground Pepper

Optional:
Hard Boiled Eggs (Chopped)
Snails
Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
Genoa Salami
Provolone

Directions:

Pound out beef to about 1/8” thick 8” squares. Add ingredients on top of beef squares. Tightly roll up and truss with cotton Butcher’s twine. Sear until golden brown on all sides then place in simmering tomato sauce for 2 – 3 hours.

As Julia would say: “Bon Appetite”!

Sincerely,

Chef Trusan

http://www.trusancuisines.com
trusan@trusancuisines.com