Tag Archives: Food

Sushito Integrale

24 Jun

It’s the Final Round of the Marx Foods Integrale Gauntlet! My final entry not only fuses the great Italian Integrale rice with some of the flavors of Mexico, but I also have found a way to add the cuisine of another of my favorite countries, Japan! Yes, that’s right folks, I present to you Mexican Sushi made with Italian Integrale rice! I really wanted to show everyone the versatility of this great product, and I think with the three entries I have made for the Integrale Gauntlet, from a risotto, to a rice pudding, and now sushi, I have really given this Italian short grain

Sushito Integrale

One may ask the question, What is Mexican Sushi? Well, it is not much different from the classic Japanese sushi that we all know and love. It just simply utilizes some Mexican flavors to kick up the volume. We replace the wasabi placed under the nigiri (a slice of raw fish on a thumb sized chunk of rice) with chipotle,  add in a little jalapeno in our futomaki ( or “fat” roll) , some ripe avocado,  toss in a little cilantro and we have our Mexican Sushi!

One of the challenges of making this dish was trying to get the Integrale rice to play the role of the classic Japanese sushi rice. I found that you need to tweek two parts in the process. I found that you needed to soak the rice for a extended period of time before cooking. I also needed to decrease the amount of water used in the preparation of the rice or else the rice becomes too much like dough.

Once I had cooked and seasoned my rice, I wanted to make two different types of rolls for my entry. I wanted to make the classic Futomaki, a seaweed encased sushi roll filled with cucumber, carrot,  jalepeño, and a hint of my chipotle mayo.  I call this the “Chilango” roll, a complete vegan roll inspired by the chic urban youth of Mexico City.  Next on my list was the “Mexicali’ roll. This is a Uramaki, or an inside-out roll. This type of roll is a bit more challenging because you have to flip the nori (the seaweed) over once the rice is spread out. For this roll I wanted to meld the flavors of smoked salmon, green onion, cream cheese, cilantro, and finally some avocado.  Now there was one more roll I wanted to make, but my rice supply was dwindling, so I set to making the Nigiri.

Chilango Futomaki and the Mexicali Uramaki

This is a fairly simple preparation that involves making a thumb-sized oblong portion of rice and slapping a piece of raw fish on top. I wanted to kick it up a bit and I slathered my chipotle mayo over the bottom side of the fish and then placed it on the rice. I had a beautiful portion of sushi-grade Ahi tuna, some smoked salmon (smoked locally in Maine of course!) , and some fresh jumbo shrimp.

The Nigiri

So here we are, two plates of delicious Italian-Mexican-Japanese inspired sushi! Grab an Asahi or some Saki and Kanpai!!!

Integrale Sushi Rice

  • 1 cup of Integrale Rice
  • 1/2 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp organic sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  1. Place the rice in a large glass bowl and rinse the rice with cold water for 10 minutes or until the water become clear and no longer cloudy. You are rinsing all the starch from rice.
  2. Soak the rice in cold water for at least 1 hour.
  3. Dump the rice into a fine mesh sieve and allow to drain for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Place into a rice cooker and add the 2 cups of water.
  5. Set cooker to Cook and let it go!
  6. Once the switch resets to warm, allow the rice to steam for about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the rice, using a wooden spoon, to a non-reactive bowl to season the rice.
  8. Place the rice vinegar, salt, and sugar in a cup and put in microwave for 15 seconds. We just want to dissolve the salt and sugar to make a solution.
  9. Now season the rice with vinegar solution.
  10. Allow the rice to cool to room temperature.

Chilango Roll

  • 3/4 cup sushi rice.
  • 1 nori sheets
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • Jalepeno
  • Chipotle Mayo
  1. Take a nori sheet. Place it on the mat, with the shiny side facing down.
  2. Grab a handful of prepared sushi rice, and spread it gently over the nori – about 1cm high. There’s no need to press the rice onto the nori, only spread it.
  3. Line up the cucumber, carrot, jalepeño on the roll.
  4. Spread a bit of the chipotle mayo on the vegetables.
  5. Roll.
  6. Cut into 8 equal pieces. For best results first cut in half, then cut each half into two, and then again.
  7. Best served with soy sauce, pickled ginger (gari) and wasabi.

Chilango Roll and Mexicali Roll

Mexicali Roll

  • 3/4 cup sushi rice.
  • 1 nori sheets
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Green Onion
  • Avocado
  • Cream Cheese
  • Cilantro
  • Black and white sesame seeds
  1. Wrap your bamboo mat with plastic wrap. This is necessary in order to prevent rice from sticking to the mat.
  2. Take a nori sheet, and break it in half. Place one half on the mat, with the shiny side facing down.
  3. Grab a handful of prepared sushi rice, and spread it gently over the nori – about 1cm high. There’s no need to press the rice onto the nori, only spread it.
  4. Sprinkle a spoonful of black and white sesame seeds evenly over the rice.
  5. Flip the nori so that the rice is now facing down.
  6. Line up the green onion, smoked salmon, avocado, cilantro and some cream cheese on the roll.
  7. Roll.
  8. Cut into 8 equal pieces. For best results first cut in half, then cut each half into two, and then again.

Sushito Integrale

Ensalada de Nopales

20 Jun

Watch my video debut with the Taste of The Times where I make Ensalada de Nopales,  MexItaliano style!

Look for another great video for Risotto Milanese Mexicana,  next Wednesday at Taste of The Times!

Ensalada de Nopales

  • 6-8 Cactus Paddles (Nopal)
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 6-7 Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, packed
  • 1-2 Chile Jalapeño or Fresno chiles
  • 1/4 cup Queso cotija or Queso Fresco
  • 2 cups fresh baby arugula
  • 1/2 ripe avocado sliced.
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon White Basalmic Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

  1. Clean the nopal to remove all the needles and nubs on each paddle.
  2. Julienne each nopal into small strips about 2 inches long.
  3. Rinse and then blanch the nopales in boiling, lightly salted water for about 5 minutes.
  4. Rinse the nopal with cold water or shock on ice bath.
  5. Slice the onion, halve the cherry tomatoes, and chop the cilantro. Combine with the nopales in a mixing bowl.
  6. Stem, devein, and remove the seeds from the chiles and dice then add them to the bowl.
  7. Season with salt and pepper. Dress with the olive oil and vinegar and mix well.
  8. Wash and spin the arugula, then place on serving dish or bowl as a bed for the salad.
  9. Empty contents of mixing bowl on top of the arugula. Sprinkle with the crumbled cotija, top with the avocado slices and serve!

Peanut Butter and Jelly “Risotto”

5 Jun Peanut Butter and Jelly "Risotto"

Here we go with Round 2 of the Marx Foods Integrale Gauntlet! In this round, we were challenged in making a sweet dish with the same Integrale Rice supplied by Marx Foods.  This dish was inspired by a friend, Heather Atwood, who once mentioned a Peanut Butter & Jelly Risotto , in jest, during a conversation on Twitter. Now, truth be told, this was pertaining to a savory risotto, which would have been a whole lot more challenging, but the inspiration is still legitimate. Once I heard this, I knew I had to make it!

Peanut Butter and Jelly "Risotto"

Peanut Butter and Jelly “Risotto”

For this dish I simply wanted to create a peanut butter rice pudding and I wanted the jelly to be made from something fresh and in season.  Strawberries are definitely in season here in New England so they seemed to be a perfect fit! To finish it off, I needed to find a way to add that simple Mexican twist that I love. So taking the basic building blocks of a peanut butter rice pudding, a fresh strawberry jelly, and the added twist of grated Mexican chocolate, I present to you The Peanut Butter and Jelly “Risotto”.  I call this a “risotto” because I approached the preparation of the rice pudding in fairly the same manner as I would a risotto, except instead of adding broth, I added milk! You will notice that I use no custard in this recipe. This is because my daughter has a severe food allergy to eggs and she wanted to try this one!  Do you think this is a one way ticket to the next round?Peanut Butter and Jelly "Risotto"

Peanut Butter Rice Pudding

  • 1 cup Integrale Rice
  • 3 cups fat free milk (Horizon Organic)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup organic creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated Mexican Chocolate (Ibarra or Abuelita)
  • Pinch salt
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, combine the rice, 3 cups of milk, and brown sugar
  2. Cook, stirring, until the mixture just begins to boil (being careful not to scald the milk). Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until rice is almost tender and most of the milk is absorbed. This will take about 30 to 35 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the peanut butter, vanilla, and cinnamon together and then add to the rice mixture. Cook for another 5 minutes, then remove from heat and chill.
  4. Serve in 6 ounce ramekins with the All-Natural Strawberry Jelly and dust with the grated Mexican chocolate!

All-Natural Strawberry Jelly

  • 2 Cups Fresh Stawberries
  • 2 Cups Organic Sugar
  1. Chop the strawberries and heat in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat.
  2. Cook the strawberries down for about 5 minutes then macerate them to a pulp.
  3. Add the sugar and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
  4. At this point the fruit should release its natural pectin, so remove from heat, cool, then preserve in your jars or containers.

    Peanut Butter and Jelly "Risotto"

    Peanut Butter and Jelly “Risotto”

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

25 May Integrale Milanese "Mexicana"

For those of you who read my blog, you know that one of my all-time favorite ingredients is saffron. This delicious, but expensive, spice has a unique one-two culinary punch. It has a wonderful hay-like, flowery-honey flavor when used correctly, and it brings a very unique yellow color to whatever it’s cooked with.  I use it whenever I get the chance to use it in rice, chicken, or seafood dishes. Shortly after I won the 4thAnnual Marx Foods Morel Blogger Recipe Challenge, I jumped at the chance to enter another Marx Foods challenge, the Marx Foods Integrale Gauntlet. The Gauntlet is a 3 round challenge with the star being Integrale Rice!

Integrale Milanese "Mexicana"

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

Integrale rice is an Italian brown rice that is  really not a separate variety of risotto rice, but rather a way of processing the grain so that the rice maintains its raw fiber shell, vitamin B1, B5, B6, proteins and minerals. It is incredibly healthy and only grown and harvested by organic means.

Integrale Rice

Integrale Rice

It has a slightly nutty taste and a firmer texture that enhances the “bite” of your risotto! Since this is a contest sponsored by Marx Foods, they kindly sent out 1 kilo of this amazing Integrale rice to use in my recipe!

When I approached the planning of  my dish for the contest, I knew that I wanted to use saffron, I really thought that it would complement the nutty flavor of the brown rice, but I wanted to add my own twist, using the Mexican flavors that I love as well.  In my mind, I had visions of two different dishes, Risotto Milanese and Paella. Risotto Milanese being a classically rich risotto, made with bone marrow, Parmesan cheese, and of course saffron; and Paella Valencia, the mother of all rice dishes in Spain, made with Spanish Chorizo, seafood, chicken, roasted red peppers, paprika, and finally, of course, the saffron. So, doing a bit of simulation in my head (as all engineers do from time to time), I  would use the basic concept of Risotto Milanese and add tequila in place of the white wine, and mix in a bit of the essence of Paella Valencia, somewhat deconstructed, using fresh Mexican chorizo instead of the Spanish chorizo. So what place does Tequila have in a risotto you may ask? I believe that alcohol  opens up the rice and prepares it to absorb the liquids introduced into the risotto. So why not use Tequila, and using Añejo Tequila would give the risotto another unique dimension of sweet,  “oak-y-ness” flavor once the harsh alcohol cooks off.  I would finish off the risotto with a mantecatura of butter and Manchego cheese. Manchego differs from Parmigiano-Reggiano in that it is made from sheep’s milk rather than cow’s milk. The cheese has a well developed, creamy flavor, with a distinctive, but not t0o overwhelming tangy aftertaste that is characteristic of sheep’s milk. It is the mother of all Spanish cheeses, it just sings “Marry me” to the saffron!

So I set about making the chorizo fresh on Monday night. I have a standard recipe that I learned some time ago in Mexico. I also prepared my chicken stock on Monday as well.  Having given some time for the chorizo to “cure” a few days to enhance its flavors, it was time to get dirty and get to the challenge! Risotto, once the technique is mastered, is a wonderful way to start a meal, or a stunning side to accompany any protein. Just a sidebar on Integrale rice. It is a slightly different beast, because of the raw grain shell. It takes a bit more stock and a bit more time to cook. I had to use about a cup more stock and I added about 10 minutes of cooking time to get it perfectly al dente. With some constant attention, a bit of pampering, and a shot or two of Don Julio, in about 30 minutes you have a deliciously rich risotto that will be sure to bless any table! Now I call on everyone to support us and go out and vote for this dish on May 30th!

Integrale Milanese "Mexicana"

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

 

 

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

  • 1 ½ cups of Integrale Rice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2  medium yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup Tequila Añejo
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra vigin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon saffon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ lb. Mexican Chorizo
  • ¼ cup Manchego Cheese
  • 5 cups Chicken Broth
  1. Place the 5 cups of broth  in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Add the saffron to the broth and keep very warm.
  3. Meanwhile, take the chorizo and heat over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
  4. Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Once it is hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, but not browning!
  6. Add the rice and stir with your Girariso to combine.
  7. Add the Tequila and cook until it is completely absorbed.
  8. Start adding the stock about 1 cup at a time and stirring constantly until each cup of stock is completely absorbed before adding the next. After 4 cups of stock have been added, start tasting the rice (or about 20 minutes)
  9. When the rice is al dente, remove from heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the cheese and stir vigorously.
  10. Plate the risotto and sprinkle with the chorizo. Garnish with fresh parsley or fresh oregano.
  11. SERVE IMMEDIATELY!
Integrale Milanese "Mexicana"

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

My “Dirty” Little Secret

16 May Dirty Rice

My cooking is often influenced by memory; these memories being the food that my father cooked when I was a child. He used to tell me stories of how he would remember his mother taking various pieces offal and creating wonderfully simple, but delicious dishes. He often recreated these dishes at home, often to the displeasure of my sisters. One of these dishes was rice and chicken livers. I fell in love with this dish, I love the flavor that chicken livers bring to a dish, and it is delicious in a bed of rice. I never knew it until years later, but this dish was the Cajun classic, dirty rice!

Don’t be afraid, “dirty” rice really is not dirty or unclean as the name suggests. Dirty rice is a traditional Cajun dish made from rice cooked with small pieces of chicken liver and/or giblets and like most recipes, there are countless ways to prepare dirty rice, including a few recipes that don’t even call for chicken livers and gizzards, but use sausage or ground beef. Personally, this dish just is not the same without the chicken livers and giblets. I really savor the flavors of the chicken livers and the snap of the giblets, they both add contrasting textures to the rice. I too have made this a couple different ways, I have a version which uses saffron and red beans that is just as delicious. This recipe is a simple, yet an authentically full-flavored version.

I would suggest serving with Halibut Braised in Chipotle or  Pan Seared Bay Scallops ,it is even hearty enough to stand on its own legs. Just be sure to serve it with and a quality Pinot Noir!

This post is the first of a series of rice dishes that will be coming this month as I “train” for the upcoming Marx Foods Integrale Gaunlet. So please come back and find out how I plan to take my second consecutive recipe challenge from Marx Foods!

Dirty Rice

  • ½ lb. Chicken Livers
  • ½ lb. Chicken Giblets (hearts and gizzards)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large jalepeno, diced
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups White Rice ( I used Jasmine)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Dried Thyme
  • ½ tsp. White Pepper
  • Salt to taste
  1. In colander, rinse rice several times until water runs clear.
  2. Take the chicken livers and soak in milk for about 10 minutes.
  3. Take the giblets rinse well, and pat dry. Place in a food processor and pulse a few times to get a nice dice.
  4. Rinse the livers and chop well.
  5. Take a large sauté pan and heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  6. Add the giblets, season with salt and white pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add the livers and the dried thyme, continue to sauté for another 5 minutes
  8. Remove the livers and giblets from the heat and place in a dish and set aside.
  9. Put another tablespoon of olive oil in the sauté pan and put back on the heat.
  10. When the oil shimmers, add the onions, garlic and sauté until the onion just turns translucent.
  11. Add the red pepper and the jalepeno pepper, continue to sauté for another 2 minutes.
  12. Add the rice and continue to sauté for about another 2 minutes, constantly stirring.
  13. Add salt to taste and the fresh oregano.
  14. Take the livers and giblets and add to the rice, mix well.
  15. Add the warm broth and cover.
  16. Reduce the heat to low
  17. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  18. Serve, garnished with diced scallions.

    Dirty Rice

    Dirty Rice

Vote for The DelGrosso Food Blog!

1 May

You all remember the last post I made regarding my Morel, Ramp, Poblano and Goat Cheese Soufflé. Well this soufflé was my entry in the Marx Foods 4th Annual Blogger Morel Challenge. I humbly ask for all of my subscribers, followers, and casual readers to head on over to their site and please VOTE FOR MY ENTRY! The winner receives 2 lbs. of FRESH Morels, and as an added bonus, the winners friend receives another 2 lbs! So if The DelGrosso Food Blogs entry wins, maybe one of you will win also! Voting starts today 5/1 and ends on 5/3 so please HURRY!

Morel Madness and the Audacious Soufflé

23 Apr Morel, Wild Ramp & Goat Cheese Souffle

This week I have the extraordinary opportunity to be a participant in the Marx Foods 4th Annual Blogger Morel Recipe Challenge.  This is an annual contest open to bloggers like me or, to coin a phrase, “morelnauts”, to help celebrate the Morel mushroom, which comes into season in a few short weeks. I simply offered up my interest, and was dutifully accepted!  So, having received my free sample of dried morels, it was time to suit up.

Dried Morels

My first thought, after consulting with my wife, was to make a fresh ramp and morel quiche, but I really wanted to put some sizzle into my entry. So after pondering it for a bit, I thought, “Fortune favors the audacious”, I instantly said, SOUFFLÉ! Problem number 1; I had never made a soufflé before! I had all the flavor affinities in my head, the eggs, the morels, the ramps, the goat cheese. I just needed to learn how to make the vehicle! So on Saturday, I went about my research and even took a test drive and made a Mexican Chocolate Soufflé! I soon learned that a savory soufflé is nothing more than an enriched bechamel sauce with some egg whites folded in! I can make a bechamel with my eyes shut, so this should be fun!

Morels have a unique earthy flavor and a musty aroma that pairs quite well with the pungent, garlicky-onion flavor of the fresh ramps. They are both at their prime in the spring, so why not use them together! I was able to find some fresh ramps at a local purveyor this weekend, and I thought why not deepen that earthy flavor with the deep smoky flavor of the poblano chile and toss in some rich, tangy goat cheese.  Finally I added a bit of freshness with the chopped cilantro plus,  I cannot be too far away from my Mexican flavors!

Fresh Ramps!

Fresh Ramps!

 

Well, here it is, my entry into the Marx Foods 4th Annual Blogger Morel Recipe Challenge! Enjoy…

The lucious Morel Soufflé

The lucious Morel Soufflé

Morel, Wild Ramp, Poblano & Goat Cheese Soufflé

  • 2 oz. dried morels
  • 2 chile poblanos
  • 4 oz. fresh ramps
  • 2 oz. fresh goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Take 4 – 8 oz. souflee cups and grease with some butter.
  3. Soak the mushrooms in hot water for about 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, drain and dry very well with some paper towels.
  5. Roast the Poblanos in the oven, then peel, remove the seeds and de-vein. Chop to a nice dice and set aside.
  6. Wash the fresh ramps and remove the roots and the greens
  7. In a food processor, place the morels and the ramps and pulse several times to a nice coarse chop.
  8. In a medium sautee pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Then saute the ramps and morels for about 3-4 minutes, ensuring that any liquid is cooked off.
  9. Add the chopped poblanos and the dried thyme and continue to sautee for another 2 minutes to incorporate all the flavors. Then set aside.
  10. For the bechamel, heat 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  11. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk until smooth. Continue to cook until the mixture has a slightly golden color and smells a bit nutty, about 3 minutes.
  12. Take the milk and add it a bit at a time, continuously whisking as you add the milk. I usually add it in 1/4 cup portions. Make sure to whisk out any lumps!
  13. Once all the milk is added, add the goat cheese and season the bechamel with white pepper and salt.
  14. Now, incorporate the mushroom, ramp, and poblano sautee, and the chopped cilantro, mix well.
  15. Remove the sauce from the heat.
  16. Separate your yolks and whites, whisk the egg yolks until they are a pale yellow.
  17. Take about a large spoonful of the bechamel and temper the yolks so they do not cook once you add them to the bechamel.
  18. Once they have been tempered, add them to the bechamel and mix well. Cover the pan with some plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the sauce.
  19. Take the egg whites and whisk until the have hard peaks (I take the bowl and invert it over my head, if they do not fall out and hit me, the whites are ready!) TIP: For greater lift make sure you use egg whites that are at ROOM TEMPERATURE!
  20. Now fold the whites into the sauce in 3 different stages. Simply divide the whites into thirds and fold each section separately.
  21. Take your greased souflee cups and spoon the sauce into each one a little more than 3/4 of the way up each one.
  22. Place in the center of your oven and bake for about 20 minutes.
  23. Quick!!! Serve immediately before they deflate!

Morel, Wild Ramp & Goat Cheese Souffle

Flan Napolitano

2 Apr Flan Napolitano

In the center of Mexico City, not far from where the Aztec main temple, Templo Mayor, once stood, there is the famous restaurant, El Cardenal. El Cardenal is an elegant place with white table cloths, white coated staff, and wonderfully delicious traditional Mexican cuisine. We go to this restaurant each and every time we are in Mexico City, primarily because they have the most decadent desserts to be found anywhere in Mexico. Among my favorites is Flan Napolitano, a delicious creamy custard covered in a sugary caramel, it is one of Mexico’s most famous desserts!

Flan Napolitano

Flan Napolitano

Flan has a long and glorious history that reaches back as far as Ancient Rome. When the Roman Empire collapsed, the custard recipe they developed became popular throughout medieval Europe.  As the recipe was replicated and adapted, it became more and more sweet. In Latin, the dessert was known as flado, for custard, it is from the French that it eventually became Flan.

In Mexico, flan was taken to a whole new level. Traditional flan is made with eggs, cane sugar, vanilla,  and cream.  It is prepared by first making sugar syrup cooked to a caramel, poured into a mold, or in my case, small soufflé molds, then finally adding the custard. It is cooked in the oven in a water bath to prevent the custard from curdling and to keep the top of the custard moist. Flan Napolitano is a bit different, in that it is made by adding cream cheese and queso doble creama to the custard. This gives the flan a much more rich and creamy texture. Flan is perfect for cooling the palatte after a spicy, chile based dish, this is why it is so popular in Mexico. There are other flavors as well; pumpkin, almond, and even coconut. But my favorite is still the classic vanilla.

In my interpretation, I decided to try to use marscapone instead of queso doble creama. The result was simply MexItaliano!

Right from the oven

Fresh from the oven taking a little bath!

 

Flan Napolitano MexiItaliano

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 14 ounces (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 9 ounces cream cheese
  • 9 ounces Mascarpone Cheese
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 of a vanilla bean
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

For the caramel:

  1. Combine 1 cup sugar with the a bit of water in a saucepan and place over medium-high heat.
  2. When the sugar begins to melt, swirl the pan over the heat for 10 minutes, until it darkens to a honey-amber color.
  3. Remove from heat and immediately pour into each flan mold, tilting it so the caramel evenly coats the bottom.
  4. Place the molds in a large roasting pan and set aside.

    Making the caramel

    Making the caramel

For the flan:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Bring about 4 cups of water to a simmer and keep it hot. You’ll use this for your water bath.
  3. You will need to slice the vanilla bean down the sides and remove the inner seeds, to do this take a pairing knife and slice it lengthwise, open it up and scoop out the inner seeds and place it in the bowl.
  4. Combine  the condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream cheese, crema and vanilla in a saucepan and place over medium-low heat.
  5. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, but don’t allow it to come to a full boil, once it is throughly combined into a cream, remove from heat.
  6. Whisk together the eggs and remaining 1 cup sugar in a large bowl, add a pinch of salt. Whisk vigorously until thick and pale yellow in color.
  7. Now, GRADUALLY whisk the cream into the egg mixture, but be careful not to add it too quickly or the eggs will cook (What I do is combine the cream and the eggs together a ladle at a time)
  8.  Pour the custard into the caramel-coated flan molds.
  9. Carefully pour the hot water from the kettle into a roasting pan so that it’s about halfway up the side of the molds. 
  10. Transfer to the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  11. If you notice during this time that the surface is starting to turn golden-brown but it’s not fully cooked yet, cover it with foil so it doesn’t burn.
  12. You may also periodically insert a knife into the center of the flan to check for doneness. When the knife come out clean, it’s done; when the custard is just set and slightly jiggles, it’s time to take it out.
  13. Let custard cool completely in the water bath. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  14. To serve, run a knife around the inside of the mold to loosen the flan. Place a serving plate over the mold and invert it to pop the flan out

    Flan Napolitano

    Flan Napolitano

Shadone – The Italian Easter “Pie”

26 Mar Easter Shadone

If you know any Italians, one thing you would be sure to remember is that we are filled with so many traditions when it comes to food. We have a dish for just about any holiday on the calendar. For my family, it is the “Seven Fishes” on Christmas Eve, the Cavatelli for Christmas Day, the Ravioli on New Years Day, and for Easter we have Shadone.

Easter Shadone

Shadone

Shadone is a rather reclusive dish. If you Google it, you probably will not find much information on its source or on its history. Like all dishes in Italy, they are quite regional, so my guess is that it originated somewhere in Northern Italy, possibly the region of Liguria, as this is where eggs were used most in Italian cuisine. I would say it is more of an educated guess than fact though, so don’t hold me to that!  Those of you more familiar with the Pizzagaina, may find it to be very similar to Shadone as well. I find it to be a cross between a Quiche, a pie, and a Calzone. The star of the dish is of course, centered on the symbol of Easter, the Egg!

Shadone is a decadent Easter bread filled with plenty of eggs, cheeses, and pepperoni (salami). It is a bit involved to make, and it was a bit challenging for me as I have never made it before. I seemed to spend an unusual amount of time making my iPhone dirty by trying to call my father to get his tips and tricks! One of the things I loved about this was the smell. I remember smelling the aromas of the salami as it baked in the oven! There are few aromas better to my nose than pepperoni and bread baking in the oven! We generally would eat this as a starter before our Easter brunch. But it also makes a great breakfast, so grab a nice big slice and a cappuccino and enjoy! Buona Pasqua!

Shadone

Fresh from the Oven

 

Shadone

(The DelGrosso Italian Easter “Pie”)

Filling:

  • 1 1/4 lbs. Dried Salami, Sopresseta, or “Pepperoni”
  • 1 3/4 lbs. Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 lb. Queso Fresco
  • 4 Hard boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Dough

  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/4 lb. Butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 5 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  1. Hard boil the eggs; Place the eggs in cold water in a medium saucepan, making sure they have about 1 inch of water covering them.
  2. Put about a teaspoon of salt in the water and heat the eggs on high heat to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium and continue to boil for 1 minute.
  3. After one minute, cover, and remove from the heat. Let sit for 12 minutes. Your eggs should be perfectly hard-boiled. Set aside to cool completely.
  4. Chop the salami into small cubes, I basically julienne the salami.
  5. Peel and chop the hard-boiled eggs.
  6. In a large mixing bowl combine the pepperoni, hard-boiled eggs, the cheeses. Add the lightly beaten eggs and mix well.
  7. Add some cracked black pepper and some salt. At this point I taste for seasoning, but if you are queasy about eating raw egg, you can skip this. I added about 1 teaspoon of salt and about 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper.
  8. Once the filling is ready, you can cover with some plastic wrap and put it in the fridge while you work on the dough.
  9. For the dough, place the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) into your Kitchen Aid mixing bowl and use the paddle to mix for about 1 minute.
  10. At this point I placed my tiles in the oven on the bottom rack and preheated the oven to 350°F.
  11. Then detach the bowl and add the cold butter in chunks. Use a pastry blender and work the butter into the flour until the mixture becomes crumbly and you no longer pull butter out of the pastry blender.
  12. Attach the mixing bowl and switch to the dough hook.
  13. Whisk the eggs and the milk together in a separate bowl and add to the dry ingredients.
  14. Mix on low-speed for about 2 minutes.
  15. Now, I did something different here, instead of continuing to knead, I took the dough out, folded it a couple of times, then placed it back into the mixing bowl. I wanted to make sure that all the flour was incorporated into the dough.
  16. Turn the mixer back on low and knead for 8 minutes.
  17. Cover it in plastic wrap and let it rest for about 10 minutes on the counter.
  18. Now, since this was my first time making this recipe, I kind of winged the rest of this:
  19.  I took a portion of dough a bit larger than an orange, flattened it with my hands, dusted it with flour  and fed it through my Kitchen Aid pasta roller on setting #1.
  20. I dusted it again with some flour and fed it through setting #2.
  21. I cut the sheet in a length about  24 inches, lay it down on a dusted countertop or pastry board. I rolled it along its width with a rolling-pin to make it a bit thinner and open it up a bit to about 8 inches.
  22. I cut the sheet in half (One for the bottom, one for the top) and placed about 1 cup of filling in the center of the bottom sheet, spread it out a bit with your spatula, but be sure to leave about an inch all the way around the sheet for you to close it up.
  23. Now place the top half of the sheet over the bottom sheet with the filling. Cut off any excess dough to even up the edges.
  24. Fold up the edges and corners, and seal with a fork in a cross-hatch pattern all around the pie (very similar to sealing ravioli).
  25. Baste with some egg wash, but do not baste the sealed edges and corners, just the top.
  26. At this point you have an option. You can slash it a couple of times across the top, or take a toothpick and poke some holes in the top gently to allow the steam to escape. I did half one way and half the other way to see what was better, I personally like the slash method!
  27. Place on parchment paper before setting on the tiles so that you do not burn the bottoms.
  28. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour.

    Shadone

    Halfway through baking!

  29. Place the pies on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate or freeze what you do not eat.

    Shadone

    Shadone

 

2012 Rochester Electronics Chili Cook-off

20 Mar Rochester Electronics Chili-Cookooff

What do tortilla chips and semiconductor chips have in common? Well, really, nothing at all, but they both go great with CHILI!Rochester Electronics Chili-Cookooff

Not only is Rochester Electronics the world’s most comprehensive solution for mature and end-of-life semiconductors, they also hold great food events. On March 15, they held their 3rd Annual Chili Cook-off at its corporate headquarters in Newburyport, Massachusetts. This year, 17 different entries, a record number, came to Rochester Electronics, all with the same desire to brew the best pot of chili in the Seacoast and bring home the coveted Presidents trophy.

The entries ranged from the sweet “Suga Mama’s Sweet N’ Spicy Chili”, which was sweetened with what seemed to be sweet pickle relish, to the high-octane heat of habenero chili in the “Kickin’ It Up A Notch Chili”. The event was also catered by American Barbeque, of Beverly, Massachusetts, with pulled pork, mashed potatoes and cornbread, but this was all about the chili! The judging was by secret ballot, with each person who attended the event voting for their favorite chili. I personally tried every entry with a separate bowl and spoon for each one. I can truly say that there was not a bad chili to be had at the cook-off!

The Chili Cooks

My entry featured fresh handmade Mexican Chorizo, Pancetta, Tri-tip, Pozole, and my own special blend chili powder; you can find the recipe below. In the end, the guests choose first timer Nick Rabbit as the overall best, his chili featured hot Italian sausage, hamburger, and a touch of barbeque sauce.

 
 
2012 Rochester Electronics Chili Cook-Off Official Results
1. That Jane From Maine Chili – Nick Rabbit – 2012 Champion!
2. Dago Reds Old #77 - Chris DelGrosso
3. Sweet Joppa Heat, A Clipper City Favorite – Keith Maguire & Chris Mele
4. Suga Mama’s Sweet N’ Spicy Chili – Erik Corkern
5T. Barnyard Chili – Karen Quarantiello 
5T. Chilly Chili – Pablo Lora 
5T. Kickin’ It Up A Notch Chili – Mike Smith of Boston Carnival Village
6T. Screamin’ Banshee Chili – Jamie Vatcher
6T. Kickin’ Chili – Crystal Vitale
7. 4 Watt Chili – Brian Thibeau
8T. Meaghan’s Fabulous Chili – Meaghan Meredith
8T. Authentic Mexican Chili – Heather Brogna
8T. Burning Saddle Chili – Jay Chapin
8T. No Name Chicken Chili – Bob “Wiles Thing” Wiles
8T. Sweet Cajun Chili – Loren Krott
9T. Turkey Chili – Jason Lemieux
9T. Kate’s Pot of Gold – Kate Mageary

Now for the winning recipes, we have the top two finishers recipes for you…

Top 2 Chili Cooks

The Top 2 Chili Cooks

 

That Jane from Maine Chili

(Recipe Courtesy of Nick Rabbit)

  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes with their juice (chopped)
  • 2 14 oz cans Dark red kidney beans
  • 1 Medium onion (chopped)
  • ½ cup of green pepper (chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons barbeque sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 Hot or Sweet Italian Sausages
  • 1 lb of Hamburger
  1. Brown 6 links of hot Italian sausage and cut into coin shapes prick sausage while they cook to drain fat (Add to le creuset pot)
  2. In one tablespoon of the fat, sauté 1 medium onion dice, 1/2 cup or more diced green pepper remove and add to le creuset pot
  3. Brown ¾ to 1 lb ground beef drain off all fat add to chili pot
  4. Add all ingredients and bring to a boil reduce to simmer and cook 1 hour

 

Dago Red Old #77 Chili

  • 7-8 ounces of Pancetta or Guanciale, finely diced
  • 1.5 lbs. Fresh Mexican Chorizo
  • 2 lbs. Tri-Tip or Sirloin Tips, cubed
  • 1 large Vidalia Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 28 oz. Can of San Maranzano Plum Tomatoes
  • 3 Chili Poblanos, roasted, peeled, seeded, and deveined
  • 15 oz. Frijoles de Olla
  • 15 oz. Pozole (Corn Hominy)
  • 3 tblsp Fresh Chili Powder (see recipe below)
  • 1 tblsp. Brown Sugar
  • 3 tblsp. Tequila (Anejo or Reposado) – I used Don Julio
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • Salt
  1. In a separate skillet, cook the chorizo off until done, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, render down the Pancetta until it is somewhat crisp, about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the onion and the garlic and cook until the onion is translucent and the garlic is aromatic, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the cubed sirloin tips and then add the chili powder, cook until the meat is not pink anymore on the outside, about 5-6 minutes.
  5. Deglaze with the tequila and continue to cook until the liquid reduces by half.
  6. Now add the chorizo and mix well to incorporate.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, crush the tomatoes with a potato masher or by hand (I use my hands!)
  8. Add the tomatoes to the pot and mix well, reduce the heat to medium and bring to a nice boil. Add some salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
  9. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and then add the chopped chili poblano.
  10. Continue to simmer on low heat for about 2 more hours. I recommend putting the chili in a crock-pot or slow cooker for about 8 hours on low. In the last 30-45 minutes, add the pozole and the beans.
  11. Serve with some fresh Chipotle-Cheddar Scones!

  

Dago Red Old #77

The Dago Red Old #77 on display

DelGrosso’s Fresh Chili Powder 

  • 2 Dried Chile Guajillos
  • 2 Dried Chile Anchos
  • 2 Dried Chile Pasilla
  • 2 Dried Chile Chipotles
  • 3 Dried Chile de Arbol
  • 1 tblsp. Dried Mexican Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Cumin Seed
  • 1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Whole Black Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
  1. Take the dried chiles and remove the stems, empty the seeds and break them apart into small pieces, I sliced them and separated the seeds.
  2. Place all the chile pieces, cumin, and peppercorns in a skillet over medium high heat and toast them until they become aromatic, DO NOT BURN THEM OR THEY WILL TASTE BITTER!
  3. Let them cool and place the oregano, salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and half of the toasted chiles in a spice grinder and grind until fine. Wait about a minute for the dust to settle, then add the rest of the chiles, grind once again until a nice fine powder.
  4. Store in a airtight container.

    Me with the "Secret Weapon"

    Me & the "Secret Weapon"

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