I have been very busy getting ready to move to Georgia and have neglected doing any new posts. I came up with an idea I wanted to share, eggs parmesan. I always wanted to do an egg dish baked in tomato sauce but wanted to add a couple of additions to take it to the next level. I found the perfect medium size baking dish big enough for a dinner for two and started thinking. I had tomato sauce, fresh mozzerella, fresh basil and some leftover pasta. My kids always liked a dish we simply called spaghetti lasagna, left over spaghetti and sauce baked with a parmesan mozzerella crust. Why not add eggs to the equation? Lets also add sauted onions and some diced prosciutto or pancetta for some texture and flavor. I always love comfort food and what could be easier; leftovers made into a fantastic new dish!
6 - 8 onces left-over pasta warmed
2 cups marinara sauce warmed
1/2 onion sliced
2 ounces prosciutto cut into strips or diced pancetta
1/2 pound fresh mozzerella
1/2 to 1 cup fresh grated parmesan
butter and olive oil
salt and pepper for seasoning
Heat a pan on medium heat. When hot add a little oil and or butter and the prosciutto or pancetta. Slice the onion and add to the pan and sweat until translucent (about 3 mins).
Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a little of the marinara, then add the pasta, season with salt and pepper. Add the onion mixture and top with the rest of the marinara sauce. Make an indentation and add an egg and repeat for the rest of the eggs (it helps if the marinara is thicker). Add pieces of mozzerella around the eggs and grate parmesan over the top.
Bake at 400 until whites of the eggs are firm and the cheese start to brown. Add torn fresh basil leaves to garnish and serve while hot.
When I reviewed Deb Perlman's book "The Smitten Kitchen", I was totally enamored with her recipe for mushroom bourguignon. Since my wife and I are trying to eat less meat and more fruits and vegetables, I am always looking for great vegetarian ideas. This morning I ventured to our local farmers market and found some fresh wild porcini mushrooms and bought them not knowing how I was going to use them. When I was driving home I started thinking about cooking something Italian and I remembered Deb's mushroom dish. I thought mushroom stew, then I thought Italian and then cacciatore, the traditional Italian chicken stew came to mind. This is a great example of both inspiration and substitution. There are other versions out there but here is mine made with fresh porcini mushrooms.
2 to 3 pound fresh porcini mushrooms about 5 large
1 pound cremini mushrooms
1 medium red onion
3-4 Cloves of garlic sliced
2 stalks celery
1 red pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes
8 large roma tomatoes skinned
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 Tsp. porcini powder
1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese plus some rind if you have it
1 cup white wine
1 cup vegetable broth
splash of sherry or white balsamic vinegar
fresh herbs - basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley and oregano (one or more)
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot boil some water with some salt. Core the roma tomatoes and cut an "X" in the other end. Place in the boiling water for 30 seconds to loose the skin then remove to an ice water bath. Skin and coarsely chop and reserve until needed. Put the cherry tomatoes in a shallow baking dish, sprinkle with olive oil and kosher salt. Roast in 400 degree oven until darkened and let cool until needed.
Clean and prepare the veggies and coarsely chop. Heat a large skillet to medium high heat and add two Tbsp. olive oil. Chop the mushrooms into large bite-sized pieces and add to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until slightly softened, about 5 minutes then reserve until needed. Add more oil to the pan and add the onions and garlic, season and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the celery, carrots and peppers, re-season and sauté until they start to soften then deglaze with the wine. Cook for 5 minutes and reserve. Clean the pan, reheat and add some more oil then add the roasted cherry tomatoes. Add the tomato paste and sauté for a minute or two, then add the rest of the tomatoes and cook until they start to release some liquid. Add the dried herbs, then add in the reserved onion mixture. Stir to combine then add the mushroom and the fresh herbs. Top with the vegetable broth and bake in a 275 degree oven for at least an hour. Turn the heat down and let the flavors mingle while you prepare some pasta. When the pasta is ready, add a splash of sherry vinegar and grate some parmesan cheese over the top and serve over pasta. Let any leftovers cool and refrigerate. It tastes even better the second day.
Flavor boosters - I use a few tricks to boost the flavor, first roast the cherry tomatoes to add a sweet element. Second, I add tomato paste and let it brown a bit. Third, I always keep some porcini powder (ground dried porcini) around and save the parmesan rinds to add to any stew and last, a splash of sweet vinegar adds a brightness and extra sweetness.
Here I am on a bright late summer afternoon, sitting at a courtyard table taking in the sights and sounds of Little Italy in San Diego. The food has been inspiring, eating out breakfast, lunch and dinner while my lovely wife spends time commuting back and forth from a medical conference. I recently had some networking cards printed and have been passing them out to anyone who shows an interest in cooking. I was talking to one of the local restaurants and they seem quite interested in my Bacon Cannoli so I started thinking about other breakfast dishes with an Italian theme. I needed to go no farther then translate my chicken parmesan sandwich I had for lunch and reinvent it for breakfast. I looked at the menu and there was no hash dish so why not make a chicken parmesan hash. The rest is simple; take a brined chicken breast and dice it into cubes then bread the cubes and fry until golden. I previously roasted some red potatoes and let them cool. While I cooked the chicken breast, I started sautéing the potatoes in one pan and some vegetables in the other. When the potatoes were crispy add the veggies and let the flavors merge, then add the chicken, grate some parmesan cheese and drizzle with a little marinara to complete the flavor palette. This is a great example on how to take a bunch of themes; here Little Italy, breakfast and a chicken parmesan, and come up with a dish to fit all three. I just can't wait to get back to my kitchen and work out all the details. Until then here is a photo taken later that night and a preliminary recipe.
I can't wait to get back home and try this out (and add some pictures). I dedicate this to my new friends at Trattoria Fantastica in Little Italy in San Diego. Buon Appetito!
Well I finally made it home and tried out the idea for my Chicken Parmesan Hash making relatively very few changes. I added some sugar and acid to my marinara sauce (my wife's idea) which really perked the flavors up. I decided to use two chicken breasts (both sides of the same bird)
4 medium to large red potatoes
2 chicken breasts boned and skinned (brined overnight if you have the time)
1 large onion large dice
1 small red pepper large dice
1/2 small zucchini large dice
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
3-4 sprigs fresh parsley
5-6 basil leaves rolled and thinly sliced (chiffonade)
6-8 Tbsp. cooking oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
3-4 Tbsp. marinara sauce (add sugar if needed and a little white balsamic vinegar)
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Standard breading station
1-2 cups seasoned AP flour (add a little salt and pepper)
1-2 cups milk mixed with 3 beaten eggs
1-2 cups seasoned bread crumbs (I used panko with Italian seasoning)
One day ahead, halve four red potatoes, sprinkle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a preheated 350 degree oven until a fork is easily inserted with little resistance. Cool and refrigerate overnight. If you are brining our chicken overnight or even the same day, add one tablespoon of both salt and sugar to a zip-lock bag with about 2 cups of water. Add the chicken breast and if you dare a couple of dashes of your favorite hot sauce, then close the bag and place in a shallow dish in your refrigerator.
In three small shallow dishes, add the flour to the first and season with salt and pepper. Beat the eggs in the second with the of milk. Add seasoned bread crumbs to the third. Cut the chicken breast lengthwise into half, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Dry off the chicken cubes with paper towels then dredge in the flour fist, shaking off any excess. Next dip in the beaten egg and milk then into the bread crumbs. Let rest on a wire rack for about a half an hour. Heat 2 tbsp. of oil in a medium skillet, then fry the chicken in the oil in batches, turning until golden brown on all sides. Reserve warm until needed. Clean then reheat the skillet to medium heat and add 2 tbsp. oil heating until it shimmers. Add the diced onion, zucchini, thyme and red peppers, season and cook until the onions are just starting to brown (about 10 minutes). Remove any thyme stems and transfer to a bowl and reserve.
Dice the potato into 1/2 inch dice. Add 2-3 tbsp. of the oil to the pan on medium heat and heat until the oil is hot. Add the potatoes and toss to coat in the oil. If the mixture is dry add some more oil. Season with salt and pepper. The secret is to let the potatoes brown and crisp slowly turning only when brown on the bottom. When the potatoes are brown and crispy, add the reserved chicken tossing to combine. Add the reserved vegetable mixture, more thyme and chopped parsley; toss and remove from the heat. Sprinkle with a little marinara sauce and garnish with the basil. Grate some fresh Parmesan cheese over the top and serve immediately.
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How does a good chef think? What is the creative process a
chef uses to come up with new and exciting dishes? What do I need to know to enable that creative process? These are the questions I want to explore in this series of articles. As a chef and an avid cookbook collector I am drawn towards
ideas and techniques of cooking rather than just a collection of recipes. I believe to grow as a chef, I need to continually learn and hone new techniques along with perfecting each technique I use every day. Whenever I go to a restaurant, whether fine dining, neighborhood pub, avant garde, or even fast food, I continually ask myself how can I do this better, what works and more important, what doesn’t? Feel free to send me comments, ask questions. Together, we can explore and make creative cuisine.
Spending almost thirty years in the computing field, I was able to travel experiencing a wide variety of tremendous cuisine. First I became a foodie, and when the opportunity arose, I was able to attend culinary school following my passion. I work as a part-time private chef and volunteer time at the community café in North Bend Oregon providing affordable meals in a restaurant setting to my community.