What have you been up to in the kitchen?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta

I made this for thanksgiving this year. Very good indeed.... chestnuts are expensive though.

As taken from the Food NEtwork:

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Show: Everyday Italian
Episode: Italian Thanskgiving

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 (7.4-ounce) jars roasted peeled whole chestnuts, coarsely broken
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 pound day-old ciabatta bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten to blend

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 15 by 10 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a large bowl. Melt the remaining butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, and garlic. Saute until the onions are very tender, about 12 minutes. Gently stir in the chestnuts and parsley. Transfer the onion mixture to the large bowl with the pancetta. Add the bread and Parmesan and toss to coat. Add enough broth to the stuffing mixture to moisten. Season the stuffing, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.

Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

Cranberry Margaritas

Could have sworn I posted this last year, but maybe I just sent it in an e-mail to Momo. These margaritas taste delicious, are a beautiful color to behold, and are festive to drink.

6 oz. fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh-squozen lime juice
1 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup triple sec
3/4 cup tequila
More sugar and cranberry juice

Whirl everything in a blender until smooth. To serve, dip rims of margarita glasses in cranberry juice, then in sugar. Garnish with lime slices and a couple of whole cranberries.

Trader Joe's shoppers, take note: TJ's sells bottled cranberry juice, but it is unsweetened, so I do not recommend it for this recipe. Use OceanSpray or a grocery-store brand of sweetened cran juice.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Elephant Stew

To add to the Stuffed Camel recipe posted earlier...

Elephant Stew


1 elephant
10 warthogs
100 kilograms tomatoes
1000 kilograms potatoes
2 bags onions
100 kilograms salt
1 wheelbarrow onions (heaped)
10 liters vinegar
20 liters chutney
4 guineafowl


Hunt the elephant, warthog and guineafowl. Hang guineafowl to ripen. Cut elephant into edible chunks (will take about a month). Boil the warthog with other ingredients (except guineafowl) till nice and juicy. Now boil elephant chunks over high flames till tender (will take about 4 weeks) and add everything together. Boil for another 5 to 7 days.

Produces about 3,500 helpings.

Note: If the above isn't enough, add the guineafowl as well.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Whole-wheat Focaccia

You will need:
3/4 oz fresh yeast, or 1 and a half packets active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm water

1 cup unbleached white flour
2 and a half cups whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons olive oil (the good stuff if you have it)

4 cloves garlic, sliced in half, then half lenghwise again
chopped fresh rosemary
drained, sliced green olives (any variety you like will work)

To prepare the yeast:

This is not as daunting as it might sound. Place the yeast in a small bowl. Add the sugar and half the lukewarm water and stir carefully until the yeast has dissolved. Set bowl aside for 10-15 minutes, a foam will form on the surface. Stir the yeast again before proceeding to make the dough.

Combine both flours in a large bowl with the salt. Make a hollow in the flour and pour in 3 tablespoons oil, the yeast, and the remaining water. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture, until the flour has almost all been absorbed. *Note* Whatever brand whole-wheat flour I am using, seems to have super-absorbtion abilities, and I needed to add extra water, a little at a time, to get most of the dry ingredients incorporated.

Cover with a dish-towel, and let rise for 1 and a half hours. The bowl I chose wasn't quite big enough, and it started to overflow.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead for 2-3 minutes, adding any chopped herbs you'd like.

Place the dough on an oiled baking sheet, and using your hands, spread it into whatever shape strikes your fancy. At first, this might seem futile, as the dough tends to want to pull back into a small ball, rather than stretch to my whim. Keep working - it will eventually obey you.

Garnish with anything - I scattered the sliced garlic and olives across the top, and then pressed them in. Sprinkled with some rosemary drizzled with the remaining oil, and it's ready to go into the overn, pre-heated to 400 degrees. Other topping variations include sea salt, sliced green chilies, thinly sliced Fontina cheese, chopped sage, basil etc., sliced red onions, and tomatoes. Bake for about 25 minutes, until top is slightly golden brown.

This is a very hearty focaccia, and seems better sliced open for a sandwich, or dipped into sauce, than on it's own. It toasts beautifully, though some of my toppings were more inclined to fall off the top. Next time, I will be mixing the garlic into the dough, so it's flavor is more pronounced.