New Website and Blog

I’ve been working on my new venture: Cooking Classes, Small Catering, and Personal Chef services. Now I’m happy to announce that I have a new website and blog! I hope that if you’ve enjoyed following my posts here, that you will follow my new blog as well. And if you’re in the SF Bay Area, I hope to see you in one of my classes!

My blog has been transferred here: http://www.tuttibenvenuti.com/wp/ To follow it, just scroll to the bottom of any post and click on the follow button  

You can learn more about my classes here: https://www.tuttibenvenuti.com/

Please join me in my new adventure!

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Sous Vide!

Last week, Creg bought me an Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker. I’ve been wanting one for a long time, and according to my friend Yasuko, it will change my life! After much reading online (mostly on Serious Eats), and a trip to the local Cash and Carry store for some supplies, I took the plunge last night and made Sous Vide Steaks! They were wonderfully juicy and tender, and evenly cooked all the way through. Creg may have exclaimed something while he was slicing into the meat which I shouldn’t repeat here.

IMG_1722For those of you unfamiliar with Sous Vide cooking, it is a process where you cook food sous vide, which is French for “under vacuum”. You place the food in a vacuum sealed bag and cook it submerged in a water bath, which is kept at a constant temperature by the precision cooker. You leave the food in there for the required time (in this case, about an hour) and you end up with a tender, delicious meal! Well, you also have to brown the steak (or whatever you’re cooking) for a minute or it looks anemic. But most of the actual cooking is done under water. One great advantage of this is that you can leave it in the water while you prep everything else – you don’t need to pay any attention to it at all! The recipe for steak says 1-4 hours. So it’s done at 1 hour, but another hour won’t hurt anything.

I started out with just one sprig of rosemary and salt and pepper, but am eager to try out more seasonings next time. I think I’ll do chicken next week, or maybe salmon. So many possibilities! I think Yasuko was right. I used the water displacement method to seal my ziploc freezer bag, since I haven’t taken the plunge yet to buy a vacuum food sealer. Still can’t decide which one to try. But this method seemed to work just fine.

One issue that I had to figure out was how to cook the steaks for myself and Creg at medium-rare, and for the rents at medium. Luckily, my answer was in one of the comments on one of Kenji Lopez-Alt’s articles. Since you can leave the food after it’s done, I first cooked the rents’ steak at 139.5 for one hour, then just left it in, lowered the temp to 129, and added ours for one hour. Perfect results!

I used my new carbon steel pan with butter and a little oil to give the steaks a nice sear, and served it with grilled artichokes and roasted yukon gold potatoes. Yum! The best part of the steak was leftovers for a super tasty sandwich for lunch today.

Sous Vide Steak (adapted from Serious Eats)

Ingredients:

  • 2 (1 1/2– to 2-inch-thick) ribeye steaks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions:
Preheat a sous vide cooker to desired final temperature; Rare (120°F/49°C), Medium-rare (129°F/54°C), Medium (135°F/57°C), Medium-well (145°F/63°C), Well-done (156°F/69°C+). If you have a friend who really wants their steak well-done, in the words of Helen Rennie: maybe you should get another friend. Season steaks generously with salt and pepper. Don’t forget the sides. Place in sous vide bags along with rosemary and distribute evenly. Seal bags and place in water bath for the following times: 1 – 1 1/2 hours for rare, 1 – 4 hours for medium-rare and medium, 1 – 3 1/2 hours for medium-well, 1 – 3 hours for well done.

Once the time is up, and you have all of your side dishes ready to go, remove steaks from water bath, take out of bags, and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. You want them to be as dry as possible to get a good sear. Add grapeseed oil to a heavy cast iron, carbon steel, or stainless steel skillet, and heat until it starts to smoke. Gently lay steak in skillet. Add a tablespoon of butter. Sear for 15-30 seconds, then turn over and sear the other side. Using tongs, hold both steaks together and sear the sides, especially the side with the fat to get it nice and crispy.

Slice into thin slices and serve – there is no need to let a sous vide steak rest!

Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 6 smallish yukon gold potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt

Directions:
Place a sheet pan in the oven and heat to 450°F.

Slice potatoes about 1/4 inch thick. Place in a large bowl and add about 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Toss to combine well.

When oven is hot, remove sheet pan and carefully pour potatoes onto pan, scraping all of the olive oil from the bowl with a spatula – stand back because this will sizzle. Spread potatoes out onto one even layer so that they all come in contact with the hot pan. Add more olive oil if needed, and sprinkle with an additional tsp of salt.

Roast for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are just starting to turn golden. Remove from oven, toss with a spatula, then return to oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until they are as crispy as you’d like.

Grilled Artichokes

Ingredients:

  • 2 large artichokes
  • 2 lemons, cut in half
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • butter or aioli for serving

Directions:
Fill a bowl with water and add  3 of the lemon pieces, squeezing their juice into the water. Cut the bottom of the stem off of each artichoke and rub immediately with the remaining 1/2 lemon to keep them from browning. Working with one artichoke at a time, cut the top 1/3 off each artichoke. Clip sharp ends off of the remaining leaves. Cut artichoke in half and immediately rub the lemon on the exposed parts. Using a paring knife, carefully cut along the bottom of the choke. Then, using a sharp spoon (a grapefruit spoon is ideal if you have one), remove the choke and purple inner leaves and discard. Rub the inside with the lemon, and drop into the bowl of lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichoke.

Pour the artichoke halves, lemons, and water into a large pot (or add the water and lemons to the bottom of a steamer and place the artichokes in the top). Add 6 of the thyme sprigs. Cook for about 1/2 hour, or until a leaf pulls out easily. Finely chop and reserve remaining thyme.

Drizzle the cut side of the artichokes with olive oil, salt, and place cut side down on grill or grill pan for about 5 minutes to crisp up the leaves. Alternately, you can place cut side up on a sheet pan and place under the broiler for a few minutes. Sprinkle with chopped reserved thyme and serve with melted butter or aioli.

Veal Scallopini with Peas and Cognac Cream Sauce served with Fennel and Potato Puree

I was so impressed with the veal scallopini from Rossotti Ranch (see my Father’s Day post), that I got some more when I stopped by the farmers market this weekend. I used the sauce of my recipe from Gnocchi with Cognac Cream Sauce, and served it with one of my all-time favorite side dishes, Fennel and Potato Puree. I had fresh peas, also from the market, which make anything better. I started by shelling the peas while watching the evening news, the cooked fennel and potatoes, then kept that warm while I finished the veal, which is the quick part of the meal.  Continue reading Veal Scallopini with Peas and Cognac Cream Sauce served with Fennel and Potato Puree

The Kitchen Remodel!

The range hood has been installed, so our new kitchen is finally (mostly) functional! I feel like we’ve been at 95% complete for ages now. Still missing some electrical finish work, but we can now cook full meals. Creg and I had a great time making dinner yesterday. The space worked really well, we didn’t get in each other’s way, and the food was fantastic! The only problem we had was finding where we had put things… took us 5 minutes to find a whisk. We cooked and plated with plenty of room to lay things out, then took the plates upstairs to eat with the rents, as they weren’t up to coming down the stairs. We need to install a dumbwaiter! For our first meal, we made scallops (and halibut for the rents) with a fava bean puree and corn fritters.

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Favas will still be around for a few weeks, but making the most of them now while they’re still young and tender. Continue reading The Kitchen Remodel!

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Blood Oranges, and Lemons

IMG_1453I’m still waiting for the range hood to be installed in my new kitchen, so can’t cook anything too smelly or greasy. I found this recipe thanks to a friend who posted it and raved about it. It’s originally from Bon Apetit. I’ve made it a few times now, and have altered it a bit. It’s a super simple way to cook salmon, and the whole family loves it. I also love that it’s a one-pot meal. The fennel stays a little crunchy when cooked this way. Sometimes, when I want to go for a more caramelized, soft fennel, I roast the fennel separately first at a higher temperature for about a half hour, then add the citrus and salmon and proceed with the recipe from there. Continue reading Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Blood Oranges, and Lemons

Father’s Day, Part Two

 

One of the meals that Father requests often is Veal Saltimbocca. I had already planned a pizza party for Sunday for Father’s Day, but I saw some lovely veal scallopini from Rossotti Ranch at the Farmer’s Market Sunday morning and I couldn’t resist, so that made Monday night’s menu. I love that they have pasture raised veal, and that they are local. It’s really the best way to buy meat of any kind, and I do so whenever I can. Once you see how commercial animals are farmed, you will want to buy from the small local farms. The difference is amazing – everyone commented on how tender and delicious the veal was.  Continue reading Father’s Day, Part Two

Pizza Night!

IMG_1439Pizza is one of my go-to dinners. Everyone loves pizza! Well, everyone who isn’t gluten free and lactose intolerant…. sorry sis! But for those who do eat wheat and cheese, pizza can be customized to everyone’s taste. I always make 2, and each one has 2-3 different toppings. When I asked Father what he wanted for Father’s Day, he said I should pick, so I made pizza. Normally, I would make a strudel, or tiramisu for a dessert for Father, but since my kitchen is still in a state of half-finished-ness, I opted for something more simple and made Michael Symon’s 3 Minute Chocolate “Cup” Cakes. Of course, nobody remembered to take a photo of the cup cakes, but they were delicious! A bit rich, but yummy. The trick with such a simple recipe is to use high quality ingredients, so I chose Valrona chocolate.  Continue reading Pizza Night!

More Spring Veggies

IMG_1201Continuing the theme of spring veggies, but moving backwards. I had bought a ton of fava beans, green peas, and artichokes and converted them into a few meals. Often, with a labor intensive veggie like artichokes (or favas or peas), I make a larger batch than I need, and then use the end product in a couple of recipes. I had used some of the artichokes the night before for my Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with White Bean Puree. I saved 4 of the artichoke hearts, and chopped them up and mixed them with about 5oz of Bellwether Farms Ricotta, a little Parmigiano Reggiano, salt and pepper for this ravioli filling. I also processed a bunch of Fava Beans and made Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Fava Beans one night, AND, still to come, Halibut on Mashed Fava Beans with Mint. These dishes do take time, but for me, the time spent in the kitchen is relaxing. I put on my favorite Pandora station, Tiki Bar, and dance and cook! Continue reading More Spring Veggies

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, White Bean Puree, and Lemon-Braised Artichokes

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Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with White Bean Puree and Lemon-Braised Artichokes

Backing up to last Sunday night so that I can post first the recipe for the Lemon-Braised Artichokes that I then used in my raviolis on Monday, since people have been asking. I make pork tenderloin a lot because it’s quick and easy. Sometimes I stuff it, sometimes I don’t. The stuffing does add some time and is a little more difficult so when I’m really in a hurry I just make a spice rub for the outside and it’s delicious that way. But since I have more time these days, I stuffed it. Here’s a link to a post I did a few years ago about that. Continue reading Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, White Bean Puree, and Lemon-Braised Artichokes

Spring Veggies!

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Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Fava Beans

I love all of the produce that is beginning to be available this time of year. The most delicious, albeit labor intensive, veggies are showing up at the farmers markets and the grocery stores. Artichokes are my all-time favorite. The other night I made raviolis with lemon braised artichoke and ricotta filling, paired with a pancetta and fresh pea sauce. Last night was braised chicken with baby artichokes and fava beans. I forgot to take photos during the ravioli making, but will post the recipe with the final photo. I did remember to take photos of most of the process of last night’s dinner, so here it is.  Continue reading Spring Veggies!