Tiburón -Shark- Žralok

Tiburón -Shark- Žralok: Writing Cooking Traveling

Friday, January 1, 2010

Three Ingredients, Three Recipes

While I know I owe all you all a knife skills posting (have yet to take the pictures to go with it, I promise it'll be ready next week), I just got back from PR. This means I have done little to no cooking, so upon our return R, moreso than I actually, was excited to get me back in the kitchen. Unfortunately, we only had a handful of things available for me to cook with, namely onions, garlic, and Parmesan Regiano cheese. I'm setting these guys apart from my regular kitchen staples like rice, pasta, bread, olive oil, butter, and so on. And while I've often denounced the college student diet of carbs and cheese, here it was staring at me in the face. Luckily I knew what to do.

If you ever need to go Iron Chef on your weekday dinner, here are three simple, highly delicious recipes that go very well with a poached egg on top or, if you're feeling fancy, a side salad. And wine. Remember, we're never too broke for booze.

All recipes serve 4.

Parmesan Rice
From Pierre Franey's 60-Minute Gourmet via my dad

This is one of my father's favorite recipes and it takes about half an hour to make. While utterly devoid of nutritional value, its really really tasty. A poached egg or two brings it to a new level. Just saying.


3 tbsp. butter
¼ cup finely chopped onion
½ tsp. finely minced garlic
1 cup rice
1 ½ cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan Regiano cheese
Over medium heat melt 2 tbsp. butter in a medium sauce pan with a lid, add onion and garlic. Cook until the wilt, 2-5 minutes. Add rice, incorporating the onions, garlic, and butter. Pour in broth, stir in salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover, cook over low heat for twenty minutes. When the rice is ready, stir in remaining butter and cheese.

Cacio e Pepe
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Cheese and Pepper is the translation of the title and you can pay $22 to Mario Batali's kitchen to make it for you or make it at home for $6. This is a fairly simple recipe from every foodie's favorite how-to publication, Cook's Illustrated. Unfortunately, its also deceptively difficult to get right, i.e. smooth rather than lumpy. The whole article attached to the recipe talks about the chemistry behind this particular combination of ingredients to avoid said lumpiness and while it didn't 100% work out for me, it tasted awesome.

2 cups finely grated Parmesan Regiano plus one cup coarsely grated (the original recipe calls for Pecorino Romano and I recommend that variation as well)
1 pound spaghetti (about one box)
2 tbsp. heavy cream (you can use milk, preferably whole)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp. pepper

1) Place your colander over a large bowl. Boil pasta in 2 quarts of water with some salt until al dente (not soggy). Drain pasta into colander, reserve cooking water. Measure about 1 1/2 cups of cooking water and discard the rest. Place pasta in the now empty bowl.

2) In another bowl, place the 1 cup finely grated Parmesan and slowly whisk in 1 cup of the reserved cooking water, until smooth. Add cream, pepper, and salt, continue whisking. Gently pour the cheese mixture over the pasta and toss.

3) Allow the pasta to sit for 1-2 minutes, adjusting consistency with remaining cooking water and breaking up any lumps that occur. Serve with the reserved coarsely grated Parmesan.

Caramelized Onion Bruschetta
Adapted from Fran Gage's The New American Olive Oil via Leite's Culinaria

I found this recipe shortly after I took a food writing class with David Leite of Leite's Culinaria, a website I highly recommend for all sorts of recipes from savory main courses to elaborate desserts. What originally caught my attention about this recipe was how short the ingredients list was and how incredibly delicious it sounded despite its simplicity. This is also a great appetizer for parties.

6 tbsp. olive oil
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
Balsamic vinegar (what do you mean you don't have Balsamic vinegar?)
4 pieces of toasted or grilled bread (baguette and Italian bread are good, pan de agua also works or just go with regular bread)

1) Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan until it becomes shimmery, add the onions, then set the heat to very very low (barely a flame if using gas, lowest setting before warm if electric). Sprinkle with salt. Allow to cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until onions are browned. Keep an eye on them and keep the heat low or they will burn and become inedible (yes, this happened to me the first time I tried making them). Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2) Toast the bread. Meanwhile, add balsamic vinegar little by little to the onions until the flavor is complex without tasting like vinegar. Stir in salt (fleur de sal if you have it).

3) Brush the bread with the remaining olive oil and spread onion mixture over each slice. Grate some black pepper over them and serve.

1 comment:

  1. PS: For Cacio e Pepe, my good friend Sophia pointed out that the best way to get it smooth is to make it in a blender. This is a totally legit approach, consider mashed potatoes, the only reason they are so creamy at restaurants is because they put them through a food mill.