Paladini Potpie

Adventures within The Crust!


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Through the Cooking Class

cookbooksObviously I love to cook. But I hardly ever follow recipes. Maybe it’s just a streak of rebelliousness. Or maybe it’s a matter of taste – like when I read “2 cloves of garlic” I know that’s not enough, so I toss in 6….and I think Mozzarella cheese is much tastier than Monterey Jack. Or it might just be be because I’m cheap and lazy – I make a lot of substitutions in order to avoid a trip to the grocery store.

So I was standing in my kitchen a few weeks ago admiring these two beautiful cookbooks I have decorating my counter.  Italian Intermezzo and The Food of Italy: A Journey for food Lovers. They are beautiful books, but I’ve never used either of them. I picked up Italian Intermezzo and began to thumb through the pages. “Recipes by Celebrated Italian Chefs.” Some of those recipes looked really hard and complicated. Way more work than I usually do when I make a meal.

But I was intrigued and challenged! Intermezzo means intermission. An Italian Intermission – A journey through Italy with food.  It occurred to me that it would be fun to try to work my way through the cookbooks and actually follow the recipes. It would be educational like a home-school cooking class.

David and Amanda come over for dinner every Wednesday evening so I told them my plan. A virtual food tour of Italy. My daughter-in-law teased me about channeling Julie and Julia. Maybe I am; I loved that movie. But I didn’t plan to write blog posts about our culinary adventure. I just wanted to learn some new techniques and try some new tastes.  You know how you get into that rut with the same ten or twelve boring meals? That’s kind of where I was.

So every week now I set the table with nice china and make it all as elegant as I can, and we have a new experience in Italian cuisine.  We never know what to expect and we’re tasting all kinds of things we never planned on.

stuffed capsicumsThe first week I made stuffed capiscums and stuffed onions. Yes, stuffed onions. And they were as gross as you might think – slimy and hard to work with, and not very tasty into the bargain. On the other hand, I made a margin note in the cookbook that Stuffed Capsicums are delicious. We’ll be making that recipe again. Capiscums are bell peppers. I didn’t know that. I’ve made stuffed bell peppers dozens of times, but this was a completely new taste and technique; stuffed with bread crumbs, cheese and mushrooms instead of ground beef.

The second week we had la ribollita, a Tuscan soup. Ribollita means reboiled. It’s called that because it’s best if it’s made the day before and then reheated. That cracks me up! La ribollita sounds so romantic and exotic.  (I guess I could say most of the soups I make are ribollita because I usually make a huge pot of soup and there are always leftovers.)

minestrone alla genovasseI also made polenta for the first time in my life. John has never been a fan of anything with cornmeal, so I have never bothered. This polenta with wild mushrooms changed his opinion on that matter. It was a home run!

The third week was the strangest yet. Minestrone and artichoke frittata both called for big flat borlotti beans that were supposed to be peeled. That’s another thing I have never done in my life – peeled beans. artichoke frittataI brought the dried beans to a boil and the skins puffed up and I let them cool. The skins slipped off pretty easily then, as I picked them up one at a time. So I multi-tasked. I peeled beans as I stood by the stove broiling layers of eggplant for the eggplant salad.

Yes, I’m learning kitchen techniques I never imagined!

And all kinds of flavors I never thought of putting together.  Some time ago I wrote a post about my own olive tapenade, which everyone loves. But The Food of Italy has a tapenade recipe with capers and a whole can of anchovies.  I followed it and it was pretty tasty, but we decide my own old standby is much better. And cheaper.

charbroiled eggplant saladBut the charbroiled eggplant salad was amazing. I also got that recipe from The Food of Italy. And everyone agreed that mine looked just like the picture in the book. Hooray!

We’re all getting into it. In fact John is in the kitchen right now looking at Italian Intermezzo. He has his eye on a recipe for Gelato al Caffé from Chef Catherine Whims. It’s served at Genoa Restaurant in Portland.

And this week in will be created by Chef John Paladini, and served right here in our own little Italy.

I’ll tell you about it next week.


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Perfect Prime Rib

Thumbs up from Grandpa FrankWhen you spend more than six dollars a pound for meat, you want to make sure you know how to cook it properly. This is why I have never cooked a rib roast.

It’s also why John and I stood in terrified indecision, at the butcher’s case when we saw rib roast on sale for $3.98 a pound.  John hefted a fourteen pound beauty.  It would gloriously feed our family of fifteen, with plenty of leftovers. But we had never cooked a standing rib roast before, and it was very scary.

“It’s the easiest roast you’ll ever cook.”  We heard these words over and over again from the butcher, from friends and from a few of the many recipe sites we visited on the internet.

We took the plunge.  How could we not? $3.98 is the normal price of a good regular roast beef, and we were going to feed our family prime rib for the same price!

Ray gives approvalUp to the last minute we were comparing recipes we found in books and online, and tips jotted down from friends.  In fact, our brother, Ray, had his i-phone out searching for last minute tips as we put it into the oven. (The roast, not the i-phone.) Proverbs 11:14 says there is victory and protection in many counselors, and we found that to be true.  Taking bits and pieces of advice from here and there, our roast came out perfect. This is how we did it.

Ingredients:

1 rib roast

4 peeled garlic cloves cut in half

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons black pepper

*Do not use salt.  Some of the recipes said to sprinkle with salt, but others said it would dry the meat out.  We are salt fiends in this family, but we did not use salt this time and it was perfectly flavorful and juicy.

peppered and buttered and into the oven!Preheat the oven to 450° and be sure it is that temperature before you put the roast in.

We used a good heavy stainless steel pan; the same one we roast our turkey in. Place the roast in the pan, ribs down and fat up.  Pat it dry with paper towels and make sure it is room temperature.

Poke slits into the top with a sharp paring knife, and insert about 6 half cloves of garlic.

Rub butter on the ends of the roast where there is no fat.

Generously sprinkle black pepper over the top.

Place the roast on the center rack of the oven and cook at 450° for 15 minutes.  This will sear the outside and make the inside nice and juicy.

Lower the heat to 325°

Checking the temperatureAfter 2½ hours we began to check the internal temperature of the meat. Use an accurate meat thermometer, and be sure you insert it in the center so it doesn’t touch one of the rib bones.

I guess the rule of thumb for figuring the roasting time is 12-15 minutes per pound. The first 15 minutes should always be at 450°, and the remaining time at 325°

We cooked our 14 pound roast for 3 hours and 15 minutes. We took it out when the internal temperature was 120° and set it on the counter for 20 minutes, tented with foil, to rest.  (Every source we consulted said this “resting” is an important step.  It finishes cooking and the juices are drawn in or assimilated.)

Perfect!

This gave us half an hour to bake the rolls, steam the broccoli and set the table.  We had put 15 big potatoes on the lower oven rack about an hour before the time we estimated we would be taking the roast out. (Make sure you poke the potatoes with a sharp knife or they might explode.)

The potatoes continued to bake while the meat was resting on the counter, and were piping hot and ready to serve when John began to carve the roast.

Merry Christmas!


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Cilantro Jalapeño Hummus

Fresh cilantro“Why would anyone eat regular hummus when they could have cilantro jalapeño hummus?”  John voiced what the whole family seemed to have been telling me.  For years I’ve made regular hummus and everyone liked it.  But for the last three big family get-togethers the regular hummus has been pretty much ignored, and this new spicy variety has been devoured.

If you’ve ever made my regular hummus, the process is pretty much the same.hummus-ingredients

This is how you do it.

2 cans of garbanzo beans

2 big bunches of fresh cilantro. Wash and trim it. It’s okay leave some of the stems on.

4 jalapeños or whatever kind of hot pepper you like

½ cup olive oil

Juice of 1 large lime

Salt

Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans and put them in the blender

Add lime juice and olive oil

Whirl to puree

Begin to feed cilantro and peppers into the mixture, blending it to a smooth texture.

That’s all there is to it!a zesty new taste

Add salt to taste (I use about 1 teaspoon)… and bring on the tortilla chips!

This is really a delicious healthy dip for all kinds of veggies too.


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Paladini Potato Rolls

These potato rolls have been a Paladini tradition for at least 15 years. We make them every Thanksgiving and again for Christmas dinner. They are awesome!

3 medium potatoes ( I cook them with the skin on, but you can peel them if you prefer.)

2 Tbsp yeast

1 ½ cups butter

1 ½ cups sugar

1 Tbsp salt

3 large eggs

3 cups hot water *part of this will be “potato water” (the water potatoes were boiled in)

About 9 cups of flour

Cut unpeeled potatoes into small cubes and boil till very soft.

Lift potatoes out of hot water with a slotted spoon and mash into a 2 cup measuring cup to make a solid 2 cups.

Scoop the mashed potatoes into a very large bowl

Add butter

Add 3 cups hot water, (including the potato water)

Add sugar

Add salt

It will be very hot.

Stir until butter is melted and water is just warm.

Stir in yeast

Beat eggs slightly and stir in

Begin to add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead, adding flour till dough is no longer sticky and will absorb no more flour.

NOW THE DOUGH IS READY TO MAKE ROLLS.

You may keep the dough in a large covered bowl in the fridge for 10 days or more.

You will probably need to take the lid off bowl and “punch dough down” every few days.

SHAPING THE ROLLS:

Roll a small handful of dough into a 6″ rope and “tie it in a knot”

Place  knots about 3″ apart on a greased, or parchment lined cookie sheet. Let rise for 1-2 hrs

Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.

*Rolls may also be baked for 20 minutes at 300 degrees till firm but not brown.

Several hours later they can be baked for 10 minutes at 400 degrees to brown them.


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Easy as Pie Key Lime Pie

We call it Key Lime Pie, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually used KEY limes to make it.

Years ago I was walking around in the grocery store with my son, Matt, and we started talking about Key Lime Pie. We had heard of it, and it sounded good, but we both agreed that we really didn’t know what key limes were, or what kind of ingredients such a pie might need. So we went with our best guesses…limes, sour cream, whipping cream…

Then we got home we looked through my pile of cookbooks, and discovered that we had bought a lot of things we didn’t need.  But we found a couple of recipes which we combined, and tweaked to make this easy, yummy dessert. It has been a Thanksgiving favourite for at least 10 years.

8 large egg yolks

2 14 ounce cans of sweetened condensed milk

1 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice

zest from the limes

1 large (9 oz) graham cracker pie crust

Separate the eggs.  (You will not be using the egg whites for this recipe. Use them for meringue or maybe we can come up with a heart-healthy egg white omelet for the day after Thanksgiving.)

Cut, and squeeze the limes to make 1 cup of juice.

Open both cans of sweetened condensed milk.

Preheat the oven to 350 °

Mix egg yolks at medium speed until they are well blended, and light in colour.

As the mixing continues, slowly pour in the sweetened condensed milk.

Now slowly add the lime juice, little bit at a time.

Fold in the lime zest.

Pour the mixture into a graham cracker pie shell.

Bake in a preheated oven (350°) for about 25 minutes, until filling is set.

Cool to room temperature and store in the fridge.

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Roasted Tiger Pumpkin Seeds

Black and Orange – Oh yeah! The Giants are 3-0 ahead of the Tigers in the World Series. So tonight could be the final game. Last Tuesday I made BLACK bean soup for dinner and later this week I’ll be making ORANGE spicy pumpkin soup.

But in the meantime I roasted the pumpkin seeds for us to munch on tonight during the (hopefully) last game of the series.

This is how I did it:

 One large pumpkin cut into thirds. (In my next blog I’ll tell you how to make the pumpkin into soup)

about 3 tablespoonfuls of salt

Scoop out the seeds.

Put water into the bowl with the seeds to easily remove the clingy-stringy pieces of pumpkin.

Soak in salt water for about 2 hours and then drain off most of the water.

(I used about 3 heaping tablespoons of salt, but you be the judge for your own taste)

Pour seeds and a few tablespoons of water into a heavy bottom skillet.

Roast at 350° for about an hour, stirring from time to time, until seeds are dry.

When the water is completely evaporated and the seeds seem dry, turn off the oven and leave the seeds in the pan until they are cool.

And your Roasted Tiger Pumpkin Seeds are ready to eat!

Play ball!


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Rainy October Black Bean Soup

The first rain of the season continues…  It started yesterday. And it poured last night as the baseball game came to a stunning finish. This morning I’m still carried along on a wave of delight.  There, in the pouring rain, the San Francisco Giants won the 2012 National League Pennant! We are going to have an Orange and Black October!

So what kind of soup do I make for bible study dinner tonight?  Since many of the ladies are Giants’ fans, I should make something orange or black.  I could make Spicy Orange Pumpkin Soup… or Black Bean Soup… Hmmmm…

Well, since I don’t feel like heading out into the rain in search of pumpkins I guess I’ll go with Black Bean.

This is how I make it:

October Black Bean Soup

3 cups black beans

9 cups water

3 med onions, diced

1 bell pepper, chopped (red, yellow or green)

1 TBSP cumin seed

8 garlic cloves, minced

3 TBSP olive oil

½ tsp (more or less) cayenne

Heat olive oil in your heavy bottomed soup pot

Add onions, bell pepper and garlic

Sauté until onions are transparent

Add water, beans and cumin seed

Bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer, covered for about 3 hours or until beans are very soft.

(You may need to add more water as it cooks. Keep beans covered with water.)

When the beans are very soft ladle some into your blender.

Whirl for about 30 seconds, then return to the soup pot.

Mix well

Simmer until ready to serve.

I like to garnish it with shredded hard boiled eggs, grated cheese and sour cream; and serve it with my crusty Italian bread.

(Maybe next week we’ll go for Spicy Pumpkin Soup… In the meantime, Go Giants!)


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Paladini Pepper Jelly

This post is dedicated to my sister Patti Ann, who tasted my hot pepper jelly when she was visiting our brother, Brian. She asked me for the recipe, and when I went to write it down for her, and figured it would be a good thing to share with all of our  gardening, heat-loving friends.

Now, during the hot summer months our gardens might be producing more peppers than we know what to do with, but here’s a wonderful way to enjoy them all year long.

This recipe is super easy and fast. Seriously, about 20 minutes from garden to jar.

And in months to come (Think Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays) it will be so yummy on crackers with cream cheese!

1 cup chopped hot peppers (I usually use red and green jalapeños)

1 bell pepper, chopped

1½ cup white vinegar

6 cups sugar

8 ounces (2 packages) Certo

Chop peppers and place in blender along with vinegar.

Close the lid tightly!

Blend well, leaving seeds and a few tiny chunks

Pour mixture into large, heavy saucepan

Add sugar and mix well.

Bring mixture to a medium rolling boil.

Boil for 6 minutes, stirring.

Remove from heat.

Add Certo and stir well.

Pour into 6 half pint jars and seal.


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Egg Foo Daddy

You might recognize this recipe as something like Egg Foo Young. (It’s a young cousin to that dish.) None of us remember when it became known as Egg Foo Daddy, but for as long as we can remember that’s what we’ve called it. John has always made it with the kids when we have leftover Chinese food. And we’ve even been known to order more than we’ll eat just so there will be leftovers.

Here’s how to make it:

Use leftover fried rice or chow mein – just about anything works. And in our opinion, the more savory the better!

Mix in 1 egg for each 2 cups of Chinese food, adding about a tablespoon of flour. Mix well.

Heat about  ¼” oil in a heavy frying pan. Drop mixture, by heaping tablespoons, to make patties. Fry until they’re golden brown and crispy.

Immediately drain the patties on a paper towel when you take them out of the frying pan.

Serve with a few fresh veggies and your favourite dipping sauce.


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Front Porch Salad

June first – Summertime! Let me tell you about one of our favorite summertime lunches – Front Porch Salad. In a sort  of tribute to Norman Rockwell, we sit back in our old metal porch chairs, look out at our quiet street and chat with neighbors. And we enjoy the antics of Humm-baby. (Giants fans will understand.) Our local hummingbird and his family fly fearlessly down and join us for lunch. They hover, or sometimes sit on at the railing of our feeder. Then they twitter away up out of sight, into the highest branches of our neighbor’s tall tree.  I don’t know where I thought hummingbirds lived, but I was amazed to discover that they live in such tall trees.

Front porch salad is an idea more than a recipe. We start with a can of Kirkland canned chicken. Drain it and put it in a big bowl.

Chop up a small handful of toasted almonds, a jalapeño, a couple of stalks of celery, and a little bit of onion.

Add them to the chicken, along with just enough mayonnaise to make a moist mixture.

Chop up about four cups of romaine lettuce, and gently fold it into the mix. Make sure it’s mixed well.

Pile this on two plates and then add garnishing of whatever other salad-type goodies you like. Carrot sticks, raisins, apple slices, raw cauliflower, slices of bell pepper, or pickled peppers.

Customize it with whatever you like best. I usually put sweet pickles and Kalamata olives on John’s; and dill pickles and artichoke hearts go on mine.

And now that summer is almost here, we’ll both want piles of juicy fresh tomatoes.  Ahhh! Off to the front porch! All I need now is a mint julep!