Italian Style Favorites with Bill Arbogast

October 8th, 2015

SIMPLE PASTA

One exciting aspect of much of Italian cooking is that it is simple and fresh.  This pasta is both and this allows each ingredient not only to create a simple balance to the dish but also to play out its individual flavor in the taste experience.


Ingredients:

  • Pasta (long, light noodles work best such as angel hair or even linguini, spaghetti or fettuccini)
  • 3 tomatoes – each cut in half
  • 2 garlic cloves – whole
  • 4 medium leaves of basil – chopped small
  • Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup shredded)
  • Olive oil – extra virgin

    *stockvault-chopped-herbs122737Again, the key to this dish is the better the ingredients, the better the dish will taste. This is a very quick dish to make; the simplicity is what allows it to work.

Prepare your pasta according to its directions.  Strain it and place in a large serving bowl.

While it’s still hot, add the two garlic cloves.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over it and mix it all together for about a minute.  You want the garlic cloves to touch as much pasta as possible passing along that garlic taste to it. 

Next, quickly take the tomatoes which have been cut in half and squeeze them over the pasta and drop them in.  Allow bits to break off and the juices to flow.

Finally add the chopped basil and a bit more extra virgin olive oil if desired.  Add the parmesan cheese.

Gently mix the entire pasta dish for another 10 seconds or so working all the ingredients together. Let that garlic work thru the entire dish.

Remove the two garlic cloves and serve warm and enjoy!

EASY ARANCINI


Ingredients:

  • Lemon – 1 – cut into wedges
  • bread crumbs  – about 1 cup
  • eggs – 3
  • water – 1/2 cup or less
  • flour – 1/2 cup or so
  • Oil  – about a cup (Canola oil is good for this)
  • Frying pan (Sauté pan)
  • Left over Risotto (cold)
  • Mozzarella cheese – in small balls or wedges

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Risotto is a type of Italian rice dish.  Arborio is usually the sort of rice  used and is a medium, high starch grain that is great for soaking up flavors and becoming creamy when cooked on a stove top.

For this simple and fun dish is a great way to use left-over risotto.  The flavors of a risotto are even better the second day!  This can be a nice snack or even an appetizer.

=========================================

First, cut Mozzarella into balls about 1/2 inch (if using a large or common size ball, that will cut to 8 or more (!) smaller wedges)

Next handfuls of left-over risotto, pat them flat in your palm and then add a cube of mozzarella and wrap and fold the risotto into a ball around the cheese. Make golf ball sized balls.

For the coating, prep three bowls. One with flour, one with beaten egg, and one with bread crumbs.


Create an assembly line for working your rice balls in the following order, in bowls (or pie pans will make this easy).  1) flour 2) egg wash 3) bread crumbs.

Dip each Aracini first into the flour, then the egg wash and finally the bread crumbs.


Finish coating them all. Set on a plate.

Heat the oil in the pan and heat over medium-high heat. You want it to be about 1/2 inch thick with oil.

Once oil is hot, start placing the balls in pan. You can put multiple balls in the pan quickly — but careful not to crowd the pan because you want it to stay hot and each Aracini will bring down the temperature a bit. 

Fry the Aracini until golden brown.

Remove and carefully put on a plate with a paper-towel on bottom to soak the oil excess. Drain.

Serve simply with Lemon wedges or you can spoon a little marinara sauce over the top.

CHICKEN MARSALA

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts 2
  • Shallots – 1/4 cup, chopped small
  • Mushrooms – 2/3 cup, sliced
  • Marsala cooking wine –  1/2 cup
  • Port wine – this is OPTIONAL!  – 1/8 cup
  • Chicken stock – 1/3 cup
  • Olive oil – 1/4 cup or so
  • Thyme
  • Bay Leaves – 1 or 2

Pound out the chicken breasts.  (An easy method is to place inside a layer of plastic-wrap and pound flat.) You’ll want them about ¼ inch evenly thick.

Season both sides of the chicken with a little salt and pepper. Make sure that you use a sauté pan that is on the larger side because if the pan is too small, then the chicken will not brown – instead it will just simmer in its own liquid.

Heat the pan then add any oil that has a high smoke point, such as canola oil. (Olive oil’s smoke point isn’t very high.)

Once the oil begins to creep around the pan (or “smile back at you”) and you begin to notice the first wisps of smoke, the oil has reached its smoke point, so you add the chicken and this will bring down the heat.

Cook one side about 3-4 minutes, checking for browning. Once a little browning takes place, turn and cook the other side.

Remove chicken breast from hot pan once 2nd side has cooked for 3 minutes. Do not over-cook chicken as you will add it back later to the hot sauce for finish and you don’t want to dry it out.

Set aside, cover and keep warm; this allows juices in the chicken to flow back from the outer surface areas and into the chicken center.

Remove oil from the pan but maintain the chicken ‘browned’ little specks – they are 100% flavor and you’ll want them in your sauce!

Add mushrooms and shallots to the hot pan. If you need to adjust and add a bit more oil for the mushrooms (they are like sponges and soak it up) you may do so. Sauté over medium heat for 2-3 minutes; let the mushrooms just begin to brown. Add a bit of salt and pepper.

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