Monthly Archives: July 2014

PERNIL BORINQUEN…A SLOW COOKED PUERTO RICAN PORK ROAST

PERNIL BORINQUEN…A SLOW COOKED PUERTO RICAN PORK ROAST

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If you are a PORK lover this is your ticket to Nirvana.  I am a Pork lover and the best treats for me are always the long roasted versions, like our American style BBQ smoked Ribs, the Italian Porchetta, Pulled Pork, and what I consider the best of them all, the Spanish influenced Roast Pork Shoulder, in particular the one made by the Puerto Ricans called PERNIL.  Other Hispanic cultures use the same term for it but each culture, from Filipino to Dominican, Mexican to Venezuelan to Hawaiian Kalua pig , they all rub the meat down in a mixture of salt, pepper, Abodo seasonings, and lots of garlic.  The Borinquen( Puerto Rican) version contains my favorite condiment Vinegar.

This tough and fatty piece of meat is broken down by the slow oven roasting and flavored from within by piercing the roast with a long knife in various places and pressing into the holes what is known as “ADOBO MOJADO”, or wet adobo, a paste of fresh garlic, dried oregano, black pepper, kosher salt, olive oil and vinegar. 004

Wow. Between the self basting of this piece of meat and all the internal flavors you infused it with, it breaks down into a pulled pork -like consistency and is served with rice and/or beans.  Heaven.  Muy bueno!  Make your Adobo first.  No clear cut recipe for this, just the same ingredients all the time…family to family this mix may have a little more of this or that…for a 4 lb Picnic cut pork shoulder (1/2 it’s normal size) make a paste of 4 sliced garlic cloves, 1 1/2 tsp. of dried oregano, 1 tsp. of kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. of ground black pepper; 4 tbs. of olive oil and 3 tsp. of red wine vinegar. Mash together in a mortar and pestle, best implement for this as it does a better job at re- leasing the oils in the oregano and garlic..if you dont have one a quick pulsing in a food processor will do it.  Rinse off the pork roast and pat dry with paper towels.  With a long sharp knife blade pierce the thick skin all the way through to the inside of the roast in at least 10 spots.  If the pork skin is too hard for your knife PLEASE don’t force it, instead, pierce the meat side in the same manner.  Into each of the holes with your finger add the paste in all the holes until you’ve almost used it up.  Rub what’s left over the whole roast, then salt, pepper, granulated garlic and oregano gets sprinkled all over the roast.  Pour 1/8 cup of vinegar over the roast after you placed it into a roasting pan.  Cover and let sit in your fridge for up to 2 hours, but even better letting it sit for up to 24 hours.

Be generous with the salt and pepper! For the novice to the cut known as the Picnic Roast…it’s one of the most unadulterrated butcher items left…the thick pigskin is still attached…this will crisp up and roast to become another Puerto Rican treat known as the CHICHARRON, or crackling…It’s KEY to this roasts unctuous quality.  Do not remove until after cooking.  Then, for the heartier pork lovers in the house, this will be like dying and going to porcine heaven.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  When it’s at temperature add the roast, uncovered. and let it cook for at least 1 hour.  Then add 1 cup of 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar to the pan,2 bay leaves, lower the temperature to 375 and roast for 2 hours.  If the roast starts to blacken at all towards the end of the 2hour time, cover with foil.   The key to this dish, besides the cut of pork and ingredients, is that the meat pulls apart, you should be able to shred it. To test, take 2 forks and see if you can easily pry the meat from the bone.  If you can’t, roast uncovered for additional 20 minutes.  When it’s at that point, let it rest for at least 15 minutes.  The rule of thumb with the cooking time is 38-45 minutes per pound.  For a larger than 4lb Shoulder just double everything OR add more.  This is a dish that loves extra flavor. You can’t go wrong.  Some people add more things to theirs but there’s not ONE way only, remember.  This is how mine is made so try it out this way then tweak as you wish.  It’s always a winning dish.

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Then pull all the meat apart, re- moving any visible fat pieces.  Pry the top skin off and discard all the white fat between the skin and the meat.  Mix the shredded meat with the meat juices and cover, heat in oven for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.  Serves 5-6.  Works best with yellow rice (Arroz Amarillo), or rice and beans.  Something to make when you have the time, a lazy day in the house.  The flavor is sutble and strong at the same time (makes no sense, does that?) but you will know what I mean when you eat it.

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MUSSELS WITH SOUTH AFRICAN STYLE LEMON BUTTER SAUCE

0002  Lemony bright, creamy and buttery without being heavy this recipe idea I am happily bringing home to you from my recent trip to South Africa.  These are my favorite souvenirs, the food idea ones that allow me to via my kitchen table transport us back to a place where we really enjoyed ourselves relaxing.  I love my home but it’s much work and it’s not a vacation.  Two weeks ago I was introduced to this sauce during our travels and in South Africa it is served along with Piri-Piri (an African/Portuguese chile sauce) and Garlic Butter Sauce with all of their grilled and steamed seafood dishes.  A plate of shellfish or fish was always accompanied by 3 small pitchers or ramekins of these sauces.165994_3211681293308_1441686714_n (1) That awesome platter was local mussels, Prince Prawns from Mozambique (right up the coast from South Africa) and Patagonian Calamari (WOW, thicker than our Atlantic and Mediterranean types but as soft as butter, amazing), a scoop of rice with peppers and onions and the three sauces.  This meal was had at the TWO OCEANS RESTAURANT where we had spectacular views of the tip of Africa (Cape of Good Hope) where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans converge.  Top lifetime dining experiences, even if the food sucked it would have been amazing but the food rocked our world and so it was just the best, as was the whole trip.  Wild baboons completed the whole experience as they romped outside of the restaurant and around our parked cars.  It was on this wonderful vacation that my oldest daughter decided the seafood looked just too good (maybe it was the surroundings that helped influence her) and she asked to try the mussels in the LEMON BUTTER SAUCE.  One taste and she was hooked.  Seriously, HOW COULD YOU NOT BE???  Yes a simple butter, lemon and cream sauce is addictive enough that less than a week after getting home A FOOD OBSESSION (me) had to try the recipe out in our home kitchen (the AFO KITCHEN).

Online I found a recipe from the OCEAN BASKET, which I’ll say is the South African equivalent of the U.S. chain Red Lobster with a very big difference, the seafood was AMAZING at the Ocean Basket.  These were not farm raised preservative shot-up shrimp, these were fresh then probably frozen prawns, split with their heads and shells still attached for grilling.  Superior seafood.   Anyhow it’s very hard to contain my excitement for this trip and most of the food I ate/encountered so this will be the first of many home experiments I will share with you based on the trip.

Here’s the sauce:

Prep Time: Cook Time: Serves:
0 15minutes 4

This rich, creamy lemon sauce is delicious served with fish. You can also add other spices to it for extra flavour such as garlic or mixed fish spice.

Ingredients

125ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream
20g butter (if you are using unsalted butter, add salt to taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons (30ml) fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Method
Step 1

Heat cream to just below boiling point, do not boil

Step 2

Add butter, lemon juice and parsley and stir until butter is melted and mixture is smooth.

Step 3

If the sauce is a little thin, simmer, stirring constantly, until it reaches the desired consistency.

Step 4

If the sauce is too thick and/or separated, add a little water (one teaspoon at a time) and stir or whisk vigorously until sauce is fixed. Serve immediately.

A PESTO MADE WITH SUN DRIED TOMATO AND SEASONAL BASIL, BLACK OLIVES

387295_2248118564842_1304531591_31903770_900548458_n   Basil is a wonderful herb which is very much at home with tomatoes either fresh or preserved.  One of the most popular ways of tomato preservation is the sun dried version.  Careful, some versions are better than others.  The hard as a rock type are not my go-to, i like the ones that are still somewhat soft or packed in Olive Oil.  While your basil is flourishing in your garden try this “Condimento” on your next pasta dish, Sun Dried Tomato, Basil, and Black Olive Pesto.

for 4 people (1 lb of cooked pasta)…takes 10 minutes to prepare…then needs to “cure” for at least 3 hours at room temperature.

1 cup packed rinsed FRESH (see that, dried basil has no place in this recipe)BASIL LEAVES

1/8 cup toasted PIGNOLI

1/4 cup EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

1/4 cup SUN DRIED TOMATOES (if using Olive Oil packed, drain and reserve that oil, use it in the recipe, but only if it’s OLIVE OIL)

1 clove GARLIC

1/2 cup GRATED PECORINO ROMANO (i find Pecorino is better with the strong flavored Tomatoes and Olives than Parmigiano)

1/8 cup pitted CURED BLACK OLIVES

1 tbs. RED WINE VINEGAR

1 lb PASTA cooked Al DENTE, my preference? glad you asked…CAVATAPPI, those long corkscrews with a hole down the center..

KOSHER or SEA SALT, PEPPER to taste

1 cup whole milk RICOTTA

Using a food processor add all the ingredients except the Oil and Vinegar, salt and pepper, just until everything is chopped up.  Then with the machine running add the vinegar and oil. When it’s smooth stop.  Taste.  Add salt and pepper to season at that point, again, with all that Pecorino which is slightly salty you want to make sure you do not over salt the pesto.

Let this sit for up to 3 hours. Why?  You are using a dehydrated food..it will need time to “bloom” with it’s flavors.  I know, excessive foodie blogger speak, sometimes it’s necessary. In non-foodie speak the locked in flavors of dried foods need to be awakened and letting the pesto sit for a while will do that.  Do not refrigerate it at this point.

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When the pesto is ready cook the pasta, drain, lightly drizzle it with olive oil and a grating of Pecorino Romano, then mix in the Pesto.  When fully mixed in let it sit for about 5 minutes then serve.  Piping hot food many times keeps you from savoring the flavors.

Serve the pasta with a scoop of ricotta on the side.  Very tasty!!

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WHITEBEANS SWEET CORN GREEN LENTIL SALAD

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Must share this salad I just had with you all because it was so delicious and fresh. Currently on a plane flying home from Cape Town South Africa on Etihad Airlines. This food was made in Abu Dhabi U AE and the freshness of the vegetables really came through. It’s a room temperature salad of white beans, green lentils, shallots, cilantro, olive oil , lime juice or vinegar , chopped chiles, sweet corn, chick peas, crushed cumin seeds. All the flavors of being in the Emirates and very bright and Summery. let’s cook!

For four people. Takes about 20 minutes then let it sit for at least 3 hours

1/2 cup sweet cooked corn
1/2 cup cooked green lentils. Drained
1/4 cup cooked chick peas drained
1/2 cup cooked white kidney beans(cannellini) drained
1 finely diced green chile no seeds
1 finely diced shallot
Salt.
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup lime juice or vinegar
2 tbs chopped cilantro or parsley or mint
1/2 tsp crushed cumin seeds or 1/4 tsp ground cumin

Whisk everything except the corn and beans and lentils together. Taste for seasoning. Add salt or more honey to your liking. Now add the rest of the ingredients. Blend well.
Let this sit for 3 hours covered at room temperature then serve. This goes great with grilled fish or seafood or meats and poultry or grilled vegetables.

BROCCOLI RABE ,SAUSAGE , And PASTA

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Some combinations are pure classics. There’s cookies and milk, peanut butter and jelly, Sonny and Cher ( did I just go there??) and tomato and mozzarella just to name a few. Let me add the very southern Italian combination of bitter earthy greens with sweet fennel sausage, garlic and oil mixed with pasta. It’s heaven. Something really wonderful happens when you mix them together. The origins of this dish lie somewhere in Puglia and Basilicata where the toothsome water and flour pastas are traditionally paired like cavatelli and orecchiette. Dried pastas work well also but most important is the shape. You want something that’s going to cup or grab onto the bits of rabe and sausage so stick with orecchiette, medium shells, cavatelli, garganelli(shown in this recipe), Cavatappi, pipette. Ready for a trip to Southern Italy? Ok. No passport necessary just a stove and a hungry group to feed and we will take them all to Puglia or Basilicata in Italy. Let’s cook!

Feeds 4-5. Time: about 45 minutes

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1 lb cavatelli or orecchiette or garganelli or pipette or medium shells or Cavatappi. Cooked to al dente according to the package instructions
1 lb sweet Italian fennel pork sausage out of the casings or if using Luganega ( thinner rope sausage) just cut into small pieces
1 lb chopped and blanched broccoli rabe.
3 cloves of garlic sliced
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp peperoncino
1/8 cup white wine
Kosher salt
Pecorino Romano grated
Half fresh lemon
After you’ve chopped and blanched the broccoli Rabe in salted water drain and reserve. Use that water to cook the pasta. Don’t let it go down the drain. Place a colander over a pot to collect the broccoli rabe infused water.
In a large wide pan add 1/2 the olive oil. Then the sausage and cook this whole moving it around the pan for at least 8 minutes. Now add the peperoncino and the garlic and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine, mix, then add the broccoli rabe and simmer until most of the liquid is gone and everything is soft and the sausage is cooked. Season with a little salt. Now add the drained pasta and mix well cook for 5 minutes on low. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and turn off the heat. Add 1/8 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Ricotta Salata cheese and mix. Squeeze the Lemon over the pasta and mix again. Serve with extra pecorino and peperoncino on the side. What a dish!!! For those who don’t care for the bitterness of broccoli rabe substitute Swiss chard or spinach or regular broccoli florets.

SIMPLE FOODS MAKE EXTRAORDINARY DISHES

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One of the pleasures of eating aside from it being necessary nourishment is the taste. Most foods are delicious. I will not bore you with all the ones that I don’t think taste good but certainly will talk about a few that when paired together are perfection. Fresh mozzarella or creamy burrata paper with seasonal tomatoes, olive oil, herbs, olives,greens. There are so many variations like the delicious Caprese. Tonight we enjoyed a plate that so simple and substantial enough for it to be a starter or entree.
Crushed Piennolo tomatoes from Campania were mashed with basil and olive oil on whole wheat crostini and served with briny black oil cured olives from Gaeta and Burrata made with Buffalo milk in Campania. Heyyyy. One minute. You are thinking simple. That’s a whole bunch of sourcing going on there. You are correct. This was a great plate made with great ingredients. However this is not practical for most so here is what you do. Find a good fresh mozzarella or burrata in your area. Leave it at room temperature the day you are serving it. In some warm olive oil slowly melt down a pint of ripe grape tomatoes simply add some salt. Toast 8 slices of good country style Italian bread on both sides. Top each with a drizzle of olive oil then spread with the tomatoes. On a platter cover the bottom with rinsed and dried baby arugula. Place the crostini at on end. The mozzarella or burrata in the middle. Garnish with pitted Gaeta olives or a good oil cured black olives. Add some torn basil over the crostini. This serves about 4. Enjoy this treat as much as I enjoyed this platter at Obika Mozzarella Bar in London England.

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A BEAN DISH FROM TUSCANY, FAGIOLI ALL’UCCELLETTO…TOMATOES,BEANS,SAGE

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One of the most nutritious and versatile foods on Earth is the humble bean.  Humble not in taste but in availability, they are grown everywhere.  They are the base of many diets around the world.  They are eaten by the very rich and the very poor.   Once dried they will have a very long shelf life.  They are, in short, an amazing food not to mention their very healthy makeup.  Simply put beans are an excellent food source, loaded with everything a human body needs.  They are truly delicious and can be made in many ways.  Let’s travel for a moment to Tuscany, that fabled and romantic central Italian region where the bean ( FAGIOLI in Italian) is King.  A typical Tuscan main dish or side will be Fagioli of some sort.

National Bean Day is on July 3 every year so this is my contribution to that celebration.  Let’s cook!

 

For 4 people and takes under 1/2 hour (if using canned beans..there are great brands out there, many domestic and many imported from Italy, simply drain the can and rinse the excess packing salt off them)

2 cans of Cannellini Beans (White Kidney Beans), drained and rinsed

1 28 oz can of San Marzano Tomatoes run through a food mill or food processor to make smooth

1 1/2 tbs. olive oil

2 sliced cloves of garlic

6 fresh whole sage leaves

kosher salt, ground black pepper

 

In a dutch oven, heat the oil, add the garlic, season with a salt…then add 3 sage leaves..and RIGHT as that garlic starts to turn golden add the tomatoes. Stir.  Bring this to a boil then add the beans.  Bring to a boil again and then place on medium heat/simmer and cook this, stirring periodically.  This will allow everything to infuse and the tomato to thicken.  Let it cook for 20 minutes like this.  If you need it to be “thicker”, continue for another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning at this point, add the salt and pepper and the remaining 3 leaves.  My tip for better flavor is to let it completely cool and reheat later on or better yet overnight.

I like mine with Pecorino or Parmigiano grated over it with a drizzle of really fruity olive oil.

So what’s up with the long Italian name of this dish? As with many Italian recipes there are stories and traditions and legends with each one, especially the colorfully named ones.  Apparently small birds (Uccelletti) are stewed in tomato in Tuscany and the people tagged the beans in tomato with the name since it resembles the bird dish.  No little birds were harmed in the making of this pot of beans, no worries.

You can also add seared Italian Sausages into this pot, but your cooking time would be about 10 minutes longer or until the sausages are cooked.

 

LEMON AND OREGANO GREEK BAKED CHICKEN..KOTA RIGANATI

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Much of my inspiration for cooking comes from the immediate world around me and this KOTA RIGANATI, Greek Baked Lemon and Oregano Chicken is no exception.  At a recent local Greek Festival (the Jersey Shore Greek Festival at St.George’s Greek Orthodox Church) there was a vast array of all the most popular Greek dishes here in America.  Although I didn’t chose it, the tray of Kota Riganati stuck with me and never left…( a food obsession indeed!) until I cooked the dish myself.  At the risk of sounding like that semi-homemade cooking hack Sandra Lee you will love the ease of this one.  The chicken is always on the bone, generally a full split chicken, which is my preference, but not a large one..or a whole cut chicken.  The bird is marinated in a mix of fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, dried oregano (Greek would be best!), Olive Oil (Greek would be best!!) and garlic. There is a harmony of all the ingredients, not too lemony, oily, salty, herb-y or garlicky.  I love garlic, I hate overuse of garlic where it’s the ONLY flavor you taste. Balance.  It’s what you strive for with your dishes with some flavors take front stage but not punching you in the teeth.  Make sense?   Good.

The dish is cooked with potatoes so I will include that in this recipe.  You will thank me for all of this!!

Let’s Cook!

This will feed 4-5 and will take up to 12 hours if you factor in the overnight marinating or 2 hours start to finish if you decide to not marinate.  Up to you. more flavor though when you marinade this.

3 lbs of a medium sized chicken, NOT an Oven-Stuffer type. either whole, but I prefer it split, or cut into 8 pieces

1/3 cup of Greek Olive Oil (if possible, if not a good fruity one will work, you want pronounced Olive flavor)

Kosher salt, Ground Black Pepper

2 finely minced cloves of garlic

1/4 stick of unsalted butter cut into a small dice

1 tbs. of dried Oregano  (again, be authentic if you can, find Greek oregano)

Juice of 2 lemons

1/2 tsp of sweet paprika

3 potatoes peeled and sliced into wedges or cubes, let them sit in salted water until you are ready to use them, you will do this on the day you cook the chicken

 

Pat the chicken down (sound racy doesn’t it?) with paper towels..season with salt and pepper liberally.  Whisk together all the ingredients except the potatoes of course.  Pour over the chicken in a non-reactive pan and make sure they are completely coated and sitting in the marinade. Cover tightly and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, optimally, overnight will impart the most flavor.kotariganati 005

If marinating for a longer period of time, take the chicken out of the fridge at least one hour before you are going to cook it.  This helps the chicken to cook more evenly.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Make sure the chicken is SKIN SIDE UP or you risk having rubber chicken skin which is foul (or fowl in this case..sorry, couldn’t resist that corny joke).  Place into the middle rack of the oven and check on it in 15 minutes.  Is it browning yet?  If not, close the oven and at the 20 minute mark you should definitely have started browning on the skin.  At this point add the potatoes to the bottom of the pan around the chicken and lower the heat to 325 degrees F.  Make sure the potatoes are all coated in the juices.  Top the chicken with the butter pieces , season with 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper and bake uncovered for 1 to 1 1/4 hours .  The chicken juices should run clear and the potatoes should be browned on top and very tender.  That’s it. You are done…a nice Greek Wine with this, a spinach salad maybe? It’s really very delicious.

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I like my cooking to take me back to somewhere I’ve been or where I’d like to go. Imagine yourself on a terrace in Fira, Santorini looking out at the Mediterranean Sea (actually the Aegean) and sit back and relax..You can certainly imagine that from you kitchen table.  This pic was taken in August of 2006 on a family trip to the Greek Isles.

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FIGS STUFFED WITH THYME, CHEESE, AND SPICE, WRAPPED IN PROSCIUTTO AND BAKED

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Summer’s fruits are making their way into our homes thanks to all the great farms and home gardens out there.  The exotic Fig is one of my most anticipated market choices every Summer..reminds me of sitting at my Grandma Battaglia’s table in Staten Island.  She prized her bountiful fig trees with their nectar laden fruits, sometimes so sweet that the ants would get to the figs before Grandma did.  Us grandkids never were allowed to pick them, we could pick the Concord Grapes and the Peaches, Pears, Cherries, Apples and Mulberries but never the figs.  Grandma did that.  She’d pick them and gently swaddle them in her housecoat apron, you know, the kind Grandmas in the 60’s and 70’s wore.  Yes, there were a few stains from Sunday sauce on them too. Nothing ever is as good as a juicy sweet fresh picked fig but alas, we all do not have that luxury.  Most of us need to buy them and one of the most popular restaurant uses of fresh figs is to stuff them with a soft cheese and wrap them in a cured piece of pork. They are then baked which turns them into a caramelized salty and sweet creamy crunchy smoky vessel of fig love that is a great way to start a meal or have with cocktails, tapas style.  Whoever came up with this idea needs a James Beard or other appropriate award for excellence.  Damn delicious.  A million ways to make these and in true A Food Obsession fashion here’s my way of preparing them.  Let’s Cook!

For 4 people 3 figs per person works, they are rich…figure about 30-40 minutes total prep and cooking time.

12 large ripe figs, look for ones that are soft but not mushy (ie: overripe, those are great to pop in your mouth but not for this dish) slice in half but still attached at the bottom.

1/2 cup softened goat cheese

1 tbs Mascarpone

2 sprigs of fresh thyme (FRESH, not dried) swipe you fingers down the sprig to release all the leaves, also, have on hand another 3 sprigs for garnishing.

1/8 tsp. ground allspice

pinch of kosher salt

1 tbs. of good local honey

1 tsp. of grated shallot

fresh ground black pepper

1/4 lb of sliced prosciutto, thin, sliced into long strips

for the honeyed walnuts:

1 tbs. unsalted butter

2 tbs. of good local honey

pinch of kosher salt

1/8 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

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Make the Cheese filling:  Mix everything t except the prosciutto together till blended.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Fill each fig with the cheese and then wrap with a strip of the prosciutto.  I like doing these on a foil covered baking sheet pan.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Pop them into the oven for about 10 minutes.

While they are baking, in a cast iron pan, “toast” the chopped walnuts moving the nuts around the pan, nuts burn really quickly..after about 2 minutes (over medium heat) add the honey, salt and the butter and let this just come to a light bubble..then reduce and mix the nuts into the melted butter/honey mixture.  Turn off heat.  Remove the baked figs from the oven.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Gently place them on a serving plate…and garnish with the ground black pepper to taste, and the place a few of the honeyed walnuts around the figs, a few drops of the warm honey and butter and some whole sprigs of thyme for color and aroma.

Done.  Amazing.  Like a High End Trendy spot in NYC.  Right here in your own kitchen.

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CHICKPEAS WITH TOMATOES AND ONIONS, VERY ITALIAN, VERY EASY

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Chick Peas…they are NOT just for Hummus!!  No disrespect to Hummus, it’s a delicious and amazingly healthy and filling treat.  I think though that Hummus really introduced many to their first taste of a chick pea, unless you were Italian, Middle Eastern, North African..basically from Mediterranean ancestry or culture..Indian,  yes there are many places where the Chick Pea flourished. Not so much in the U.S. Till Hummus.  Ok, but I’m going to take you today to where my first recollection of eating Chick peas was, at my kitchen table.  First of all I didn’t know that the thing people called Chick Peas was the same as the CECI that we ate in our home, regularly.  Italians call them CECI, or in dialect, Cecira, or Cicidda.  Garbanzo Beans?  WTH??  Ok, there were cans of them in the grocery store under the GOYA label but it took me a while to put it all together and realize they all were the same thing..a chick pea!    Who doesn’t love a Falafel!

That mash of chick peas and spices fried in small balls and then stuffed into a pita with vegetables?  Or a Panelle?  A chick pea flour square fried and served in a soft roll with caciocavallo and ricotta cheeses?  See???  It’s not just hummus..they also are great tossed cooked and warm or cold into salads, with pasta (Pasta e Ceci is a staple of the old school Southern Italian Diet)..they are also wonderful roasted with spices, or dry roasted (a bag of them is a must while walking thru the Feast of San Gennaro in NYC, very old school)..but , as usual, I digress.  The most common way we had Ceci growing up was in a sort of tomato “stew”…not a soup, not a side dish per se, something in between.
At this point you should be as confused as I am.  Anyway, here is my recipe:

2 14 1/2 oz cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
2 tbs. of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano (try to find the Sicilian or Greek Oregano that come dried in a bunch)
pinch of peperoncino (red hot dried pepper flakes)
1/2 can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine (remember, something you enjoy drinking, not cooking wine)
kosher salt to taste
1 1/2 cups cleaned baby arugula

Let’s cook.

In a heavy saucepan heat the olive oil then add the peperoncino and 1/2 the oregano, 1/2 tsp of salt…then the garlic.  Cook until the garlic is just ready to take on color, about 1 minute or so, then add the chickpeas and completely coat with the oil and garlic, let this cook, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes..now add everything else except the arugula.  Stir.  taste, add a little salt at this point if necessary. Let this simmer for 15 minutes.  Now add the arugula and continue cooking for 10 minutes more.  Don’t let it get dry, if that happens add a little more wine. Keeping it at simmer should prevent that from happening.Let it sit for a good 10 minutes before serving.  This will be a nice entree for 5-6, or side dish for 7-8.
Serving suggestion (ok, i never suggest anything, this is how i think you better be doing it…lol..)..in a bowl. with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of peperoncino, a grating of Pecorino Romano, and pinch of oregano.    Now you are eating like A FOOD OBSESSION eats and ate while growing up.
Enjoy!  Great for Vegetarians too  (I guess vegans too if you don’t use the cheese).