Here is my post on my other blog including the recipe!
Here is my post on my other blog including the recipe!
Involtini di Melanzane con Salsiccia e Mozzarella to be exact! I had two big eggplants, some spicy homemade Italian sausages and lots of great herbs and tomatoes. I sent a note to my friend and fellow blogger Peter Francis Battaglia (whom I also call Saint Peter sometimes) asking him if he had a good rollatini recipe that did not require ricotta. He sent me one via messages on Facebook and I made it last night. I even had some for breakfast. I served it on spaghetti that was simply tossed with butter, EVOO and some garlic. Here is the recipe pretty much as he sent it to me. I added just a couple of things in the mix. This is a recipe that can be made *creatively* and you can easily increase the amounts if you want to. I had a little extra filling left, so I just stuffed it in around the rollatini before baking. FYI: I used 1 # of spicy sausage, removed from casings, 2 large eggplants and about 4-5 fresh ripe tomatoes. This takes a couple of hours to make, but it is not difficult and it is delicious, even better the next day and the day after! Well worth the time!
Saint Peter’s Eggplant and Italian Sausage
Rotalini Involtini di Melanzane con Salsiccia e Mozzarella
Slice the eggplants longwise, and thin..make a francaise batter (2 eggs, 1/8 cup grated romano, fresh chopped parsley, fresh ground pepper), dredge the cutlets in seasoned flour, then the egg, then into 1/2 ” of medium hot olive oil, about 3 minutes per side..drain on paper towels or rack.
Saute the sausage in some olive oil, when almost done, add 1 onion finely chopped, a minute later, add 1 minced clove of garlic, cook for a bit, then add 2 tbs. of wine, let this cook for 3 minutes..let it cool..add 1/2 cup small diced mozzarella, some chopped basil and parsley, 1/2 tsp. capers, 1 tbs. breadcrumbs, and 3 tbs. romano cheese, mix well.
Hold the cutlet in your hand and add a nice scoop to each of the cutlets. roll the cutlet around them and secure with toothpicks. Make a sauce with chopped tomato, olive oil, diced onion, fresh parsley, some fennel seeds, salt, pepper…When it has cooked for 20 minutes…check for seasoning…Add a few basil leaves…in a pan, add some oil and sauce to the bottom, arrange the rolletini, pour the remaining sauce over, and cover with foil, bake in 350 for 25 minutes, uncover, add some chopped mozzarella and grated cheese, bake another 8 minutes uncovered till cheese is bubbly…
Dinner last night, grilled BBQ chicken with mashed potatoes and a new spin on carrots and crookneck squash. Sauté a sliced Maui Onion in EVOO and a tab of butter. Then toss in some mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. When the seeds start to pop, add squash slices and blanched carrots. Sauté for a couple of minutes just till the squash is tender and serve. Add salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
I love ramps. About 6 years ago when we were at a morel festival in Illinois I tasted them for the first time. Just in case you have been living under a rock (or on one like Hawai’i Island where they are quite foreign) ramps are wild leeks. They have an incredible flavor, which is quite unique, sort of a garlic- onion taste. I started buying them every season from Earthy Delights, a great online resource for chefs. I also bought morels from them every spring. Unfortunately when I moved to Hawaii, that was no longer possible. And so, one of the first things I did when I got to New York was run to Union Square Green Market to see if they had any ramps. On my first trip I was sorely disappointed not to find any. However, on a subsequent trip it seemed like EVERYONE was selling them. With many seasonal items that is the case. So, since then twice I have made them in my favorite and most simple way. They are delicate, a little like green onions with a leafy top. The entire ramp is edible.
While there are many things you can do with them, my favorite way is to just put them in a zip lock bag with some olive oil, a bit of lemon and lots of rough ground black pepper. I let them sit in the bag 10 minutes or so, then just toss on the grill on medium to low heat. It only takes a few minutes for them to soften and caramelize.
Whole Foods Markets are selling them in most locations. They are generally only available in the spring, but they are being cultivated and farmed now, which means the season may be extended slightly. They actually grow from the midwest eastward and can be found growing in the wild as far south as South Carolina. According to The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, the word ramp comes from “rams,” or “ramson,” an Elizabethan dialect rendering of the wild garlic. The word is first mentioned in English print in 1530, but was used earlier by English immigrants of the southern Appalachian Mountains.
You can use ramps in many ways, with scrambled eggs, in scalloped potatoes, frittatas and in stir fries, but my favorite way is to just simply grill them. You can also freeze them for later use in recipes, but freezing them does change the texture a bit and not suggested for grilling, but chopped for use in other dishes.
Here is one of the dinners I made with the ramps; Duck breasts sauteed then finished off in the oven served with a reduction of pomegranate juice (syrup consistency) on a bed of wild baby arugula tossed with olive oil and lemon, Russian fingerling potatoes halved and blanched then sauteed in the remaining duck fat, grilled asparagus and ramps and grilled pineapple slices for dessert.
Purple is the theme…
I have flooded the apartment with lilacs… sweet smelling and beautifully colored lavender flowers that only grow in places that have a freeze. The farmer’s markets and the street corner flower stands are loaded with them and you see many smiles on the faces of New Yorkers who are carrying bunches of them back to their apartments. Purple is one of my favorite colors in nature. However when it comes to food, there are only a few purple foods; Poi, berries, grapes, and plums come to mind. I love all of those and when it comes to something really fresh and tasty… that is the color I often gravitate to.
On other things purple…
For breakfast many mornings I have been enjoying FAGE yogurt with fresh blueberries, black berries and topped with my coconut-pumpkin seed granola. The berries are difficult to find in Hawaii, but here they are abundant, even being sold at corner fruit vendors on the street. I got mine at Whole Foods. Here is the recipe for the granola, which I made in Hawaii and sent here. This can be made anywhere though. You can find the ingredients at any health food store.
This is a healthy and delicious breakfast to eat while you take some time to smell the lilacs.
My son came by for Sunday Brunch and we made ourselves a little Mexican Feast. Hand made tortillas, fresh guacamole and chorizo tacos. The inspiration came from some locally made chorizo I bought at the Abingdon Square Farmer’s Market on Saturday. I had already sourced masa earlier in the week. I also found a store around the corner that sells Crema Mexicana which is a sour cream more like crème fraîche.
Here is the way to make home made tortillas… once you have made them you may never buy corn tortillas again. THIS IS EASY!!! Really, trust me here.
Buy a tortilla press. You may not live in an area with a Hispanic Market, but they are available there. Also available online. Yes, of course you can roll them with a traditional rolling pin, but take my word for it, the tortilla press is well worth the little you will have to spend on it. I do my flour tortillas by hand, but for corn tortillas the press is the way to go.
Buy Masa. Masa is usually available in any grocery store with even a small hispanic population. Masa is basically finely ground corn flour from corn that has been treated with lime. The Maseca brand is the most prevalent in the US. Of course in Mexico they have communal masa machines and it is available freshly ground every day. You are looking for Masa Instantanea de Maiz (Instant Corn Masa Flour.) This flour is also used for making tamales, pupusas, empanadas and Sopes. I know a chef in Hawaii who uses this very finely ground corn flour for making polenta. I have tried it in that application and I personally prefer stone ground polenta with a bit more texture.
Mix. In a bowl place 2 cups of Masa and add about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir. Add 1 1/4 cups of water, stir till a moist dough forms. You may need to add a little more water. Allow the dough to rest, covered for at least 10 minutes.
While the dough is resting take a plastic grocery bag and cut it into 2 small squares, slightly larger than the tortilla press. I learned this trick in Mexico where I went to cooking school and believe me it is really a great trick. I have had a lot of trouble removing the tortilla from the press without it! Wax paper would probably work well You will place one piece of the bag on the bottom of the press and the second on top of the ball of dough.
Pull off as many balls of dough as you want tortillas. Add a few more if you have never made them before because believe me, you are going to eat more of these than you think you will. The balls of dough should be smaller than a golf ball. The masa dries out quickly so cover the balls with a piece of plastic wrap or a dishtowel while you are making tortillas. Any additional dough can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week, so you can make tortillas at a moment’s notice if you make enough dough.
Prepare your pan. In Mexico a camal is used. This is a large griddle used for many purposes in Mexican cooking. If you do not have one, you can use a traditional griddle, a frying pan or even cook your tortillas on the grill. I only have a frying pan here, so I had to do mine one at a time. A griddle allows you to do several at once.
Make your first tortilla. Place the ball of dough on the center of the tortilla press, close the press and then with a gentle wiggling motion, push down and move the handle back and forth. This creates a thinner tortilla.
Remove the bottom plastic with the tortilla in it and place in the palm of your hand. Carefully peel off the plastic and place the tortilla directly onto the hot pan. Allow the tortilla to cook for a few moments, it should start to slightly puff up, flip it over with a spatula or your hands. The tortilla should be slightly browned but it only takes 1 minute to cook, do not over cook. Place the cooked tortillas in a tortilla warmer or in foil that is wrapped in a towel for insulation. The tortillas will soften slightly from the steam that develops.
That is it! It really could not be easier.
Now for some really good easy Guacamole… this recipe is for two servings. You can easily double or triple the ingredients.
It is easier if you have everything chopped and prepped before compiling the guacamole.
2 avocados (Hass is a dependable variety, but in Hawaii where we have over 100 varieties, some work better for guacamole than others.)
1/4 of a red onion finely chopped
Juice and zest of two small limes
3-5 cloves of garlic, (depending on how much garlic you want.) finely minced.
1-2 Jalapeno peppers seeded and finely chopped. You can use other varieties of peppers, just remember that you can always add more heat, but taking it out is not easy and not everyone loves things spicy.
1 hand full of chopped cilantro
about 1/2 teaspoon of salt (I use smoked sea salt that I make)
freshly cracked black pepper
Peel the avocado by cutting the fruit in half and then removing the seed. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh out and place in a bowl. Add the lime juice and salt. Mash the Guacamole with a fork or potato masher. Some people like their guac more chunky. I like mine well smashed. Add the remaining ingredients and mash further. Taste for seasoning. I use the guacamole as a filling for tacos, as a dip and on toast.
I have been in New York for a week and it is time to launch the new blog, My Manhattan Kitchen. I am a woman of two islands, with one foot in Hawaii and one in Greenwich Village. I have had a lot of kitchens in my life, the last four have been the most memorable. My current Manhattan kitchen is virtually an economy of space and function. with about 5 feet of counter space a smaller than normal gas stove and a small (but not tiny) refrigerator, it also boasts a window and a large stainless steel sink. The electric grill pan has to be stored in a coat closet, I can only imagine where I will put the Kitchen Aid or the Food Processor when they get here! So far, the space works well, even with two of us in the kitchen at the same time. No dishwasher, at least not an automated one, but Jeff is doing dishes like a champ when I cook. It does take a little shuffling around and some planning, but all in all, it works for now.
And so with the smaller space, and of course more limited storage combined with the “how much can I carry?” method of shopping, groceries are bought every day or two instead of weekly. I like that better really. Of course Whole Foods and other stores deliver, but I have not succumbed to that yet, I can barely imagine the luxury of having the doorman ring and tell me my groceries are here! Mostly, I have been enjoying the many small shops, butchers, fromageries, salumerias, farmer’s markets and little gourmet markets. I do plan on expanding my horizons to Aruthur Avenue, and the boroughs when I have days free for exploring. China town is just a brisk walk or a brief subway ride away. Curry Hill is not really that far either.
Today I went to the Abingdon Square Park farmer’s market, just two blocks away where I bought some herb plants, fresh apple cider, organic free range duck breasts & locally made chorizo. Yesterday I “hoofed it” to Union Square(Home to the famous Union Square Green Market, Whole Foods and Trader Joes) , a 20 minute walk where I picked up a swordfish steak, some cheeses, stone ground polenta and yogurt. I also visited Chelsea Market, a great “under one roof” foodie paradise, much like the Ferry Building in San Francisco,but larger. It was a busy food day and I returned to the apartment feeling a bit like a pack mule, but quite happy with my finds and discoveries. I will be making posts soon on these various markets. In the next few posts, I will be sharing my meals inspired by the ingredients that I find on my travels around the city. Please join me.
It is Spring in New York… glorious, beautiful and awakening. The Village is alive with the greening and blooming of trees. The parks are full of tulips and the other Dutch bulbs that say *SPRING!*
globetrotter, multimedia journalist, social media strategist
life is always sweeter and yummier through a lens. bunnyandporkbelly [at] gmail [dot] com
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