Saturday, November 30, 2013

Chicken Mince in Rice Paper

Chicken in Rice Paper

This is a really wonderful dish, easy to make and tasty also, one of my favorite dishes.  I can't remember where I found it, but it is a keeper.  Actually easy to do and a real crowd pleaser.
I love Vietnamese food and the rice paper, so many things to be done with it and great for parties.
Don't be afraid of the fish sauce, it actually makes this dish, just don't put too much.



400g  - mince (ground) chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons oyster sauce 
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
fresh cilantro leaves about 1/2 cup or so
sesame seeds - to your taste a teaspoon or so
70g /about 1 cup breadcumbs
Rice paper sheets, 12 or so (depends on how large you make the logs)
12 mint leaves 
peanut oil
romain lettuce leaves


80 ml  cup water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
110 g / 1/2 cup sugar
red chilies
limes juice about 2 tablespoons, nice if you can find kaffir lime leaves

Make the sauce:

Put the water, fish sauce and chili in a small pan over low heat and cook till the sugar is dissolved.  Bring  to a boil for a few minutes till thickened.  Remove from heat, add the lime juice and let sit in fridge until ready to use.

Prepare the Chicken:

Combine the chicken, garlic, oyster sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, cilantro and breadcrumbs.  Mix well, wrap and place into the fridge so that the mixture can become firm.

Divide the mixture into thin logs.

Take the rice paper and individually soak in warm water for about 15 seconds or until soft.  Lay the rice paper down an place the log on top place a mint leaf and begin to roll, roll both ends.  Place onto a plate till you finish the process.

Heat a non stick heavy pan and add a little peanut oil and begin to cook the rolls till the chicken is cooked inside, about 8 minutes or more.  The temperature of the chicken when cooked should be 70C (160F).  

While the chicken is cooking place the romain leaves on a plate.  When the chicken is done, place onto the romain lettuce and sprinkle with some baby greens, I used baby basil leaves. Place the chicken rolls on top of the lettuce and then add the sauce.


Artichokes, I love them and have them often, I love the small ones, that I grill and also sauté them with olives, red pepper etc.  Here are my stuffed Artichokes, this is my Dad's recipe, amounts are kind of funny because he never really measured anything.

Got some really beautiful ones, test them, they should be firm, a little expensive but that is the way it is this time of the year, but well worth it.

So for the recipe:

8 large artichokes ( you can use less or more)
1 tin flat anchovies, remove the anchovies and mince them, SAVE the oil that is in the tin
Parsley, about a handful
breadcrumbs, I used 1 can
grated parmigiano or romano cheese, whichever you prefer, I use parmigiano
olive oil to drizzle on the top
freshly grated black pepper to taste, I don't use salt because of the anchovies and the cheese
Sopressata, this is an Italian dried salami, I use about a cup of sopressata cut into small cubes, more if you wish
Mix the above ingredients together 
4 cloves of garlic
3 bay leaves

Peel off some of the outer leaves and cut the stem off the bottom (save the stem), cut a little 
off the top.  Then spread the artichokes and fill them with the stuffing.

Put them into a heavy bottom pan, and once filled, add water to go halfway up the artichokes, put the garlic cloves  into the bottom of the pan along with the bay leaves.

Once that is done, drizzle the oil from the anchovies, and then a little extra virgin olive oil over the tops of the artichokes, put the cover onto the pan and bring to a boil, once to a boil, bring to a simmer and the artichokes are done when a knife inserted in the artichoke goes in smooth, about 40 min.  Do check to make sure the water does not evaporate, if you need to add more water, make sure that it is boiling.
And here they are, bet you can't eat ONE!!!!  Let me know how you make out...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Chicken Breast Supreme

What a beautiful November day, temperature 19 C, sunny and not a cloud in the sky…hope they stay like this for a while.  I'll take this great weather as long as it keeps coming.

Chickens were on sale and so I bought one, I only buy organic chickens, so brought it home and separated all the parts, packaged it up in pieces and stored it in the freezer for future use.  

I love the chickens from Whole Foods Market, maybe they cost a little more, but organic is the only way to go, with all the bad stuff they are putting in foods today.

Breaking apart the chicken, I saved the chicken breast and marinated in lemon, olive oil, laurel (bay leave), garlic and some black pepper.  

Actually this breast could be two servings.  Anyway, I marinated it for about 3 hours.  No real recipe today, add the flavors to your taste.

While the chicken was marinating, I cooked some wonderful Italian (lacinato) kale, it is sometimes called black kale.  It is really delicious.

This is very simple to cook, and all I do, is wash it, blanch it in boiling salted water, drain and cook in a sauté pan with olive oil, garlic, himalayan pink salt ( it is an awesome salt), and it's better for you than regular salt.

Cooking the chicken breast:
Turned the oven on to temperature 200C and let it come to temperature before pan searing the chicken breast.
Once the oven was up to temperature, I pan seared the chicken breast skin side down and a lightly oiled sauté pan, after 5 minutes when the chicken was browned, I turned it over and put it into the oven for about 35-40 minutes until the temperature of the chicken reached 71 C / 160F.  Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes covered.

Place the kale on a plate then the chicken and drizzle some really nice extra virgin olive oil on top of the chicken and enjoy.

This was just a really simple dinner that is very easy to make and really yummy also.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Spinach Quiche

I love quiche and make it quite a bit, last week I made a spinach quiche for a special person that helps me with my foto editing, Ginny.  We had a nice lunch with the spinach quiche and some red wine….and of course a good day talking photography etc.

Here is my classic spinach quiche, you can of course substitute the spinach for asparagus, seafood etc.  it's yours to decide. I have made this for many years and am always pleased at how it turns out.  Quiche is one of the easiest things to make and always a big hit with a nice salad and glass of wine.

For the crust:

200 g (1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
100 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons of ice cold water

Combine the flour, cut up pieces of butter and salt in a food processor, turn the processor on to combine the butter and salt. add the ice water just  till the dough comes together.

Once it is combined, remove from the processor and kneed on a floured surface to form a circle, then wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour or so even overnight.  It is important that the dough be cold.

Turn your oven on to 175C / 350F.  When the oven has reach it's temperature, remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on the counter and roll out to a large circle enough to fit into your quiche pan, I use a 24 cm / 9.5 inch, this recipe fits perfect in this pan.  Once the dough is rolled out drape it over a rolling pin and place it carefully into the quiche pan.  Gently set the dough into the pan.  

Get a piece of aluminum foil and fit into the crust to form it nicely against the crust, add dry beans and blind bake the crust for about 15 min with the foil then about 10 min without the foil.  

Meanwhile prepare the filling:

Spinach, I use frozen about 400 to 500 g, drain well
Salt & Pepper to taste
Gruyere cheese 100g cut into small pieces
a few grates of fresh nutmeg


2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
fresh parsley chopped fine, about a handful
a few grates of nutmeg
125 ml / 1/2 cup milk
126 ml / 1/2 cup heavy cream
Whisk together these ingredients

To assemble:

Take you blind baked crust, don't forget to remove the foil and beans …. put the cheese into onto the crust, then the drained spinach, then pour the custard over the mixture and cook about 40 minutes or so.  You will see it will start to turn a brown a little and bubbling.

Once done remove from the oven let it cool and enjoy!

Pan Seared Center Cut Pork Chop with lemon

Today was cold and grey day and felt like snow but it didn't…..thank goodness!!!  So, I decided this was a good day to have the oven on and made this Pork Chop for lunch, I served it with Broccoli Rabe and White Rice…..a real nice treat.  It is very easy, remember it's all about taste.

Pork Chop:

1 center cut pork chop
juice of one lemon, plus the zest
Parsley, about half handful
micro greens, you can find these in the vegetable section of your supermarket
salt & pepper
olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced thin

To marinate, put about small amount of olive oil in a non reactive dish, add the pepper, juice of one lemon and parsley and mix, then rub this all over the pork chop.  Place in the refrigerator for about one hour.  Do not add salt when marinating.

To cook the pork chop:

Preheat oven to 190 C / 375 F. After one hour remove the pork chops from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.  After it has come to room temperature, sprinkle with salt to taste.

In a heavy bottom pan, place a small amount of oil just to cover the bottom of the pan, and add the pork chop, cook 4 -5 minutes till browned.  Once browned, turn over and place into the oven for about 6 minutes.  When done, remove from the oven and cover with foil to let it rest.  Now you can cook the broccoli rabe.  

Broccoli Rabe:

Clean the broccoli rabe and trim if needed, wash and let drain.  In a stock pot bring water to a boil and add  salt and broccoli rabe and let it cook for just about a minute.  Drain and let sit. In a sauté pan add about a tablespoon of olive oil, add the sliced garlic and cook.  Do not over cook the garlic, once it is brown you can remove it from the pan or leave it in.   Add the broccoli rabe and put cover on the pan.  Stir the broccoli rabe in the pan and add salt and pepper to taste.  It does not take too long to cook, just a minute or so….then turn off the gas.

You are ready to plate.  Put some broccoli rabe on  a plate, place the pork chop on top and drizzle with some nice extra virgin olive oil, then place some micro greens on top and the zest of one lemon.

I served this with white rice

Monday, November 11, 2013


What does Thanksgiving mean to me?  

Thanksgiving is the end of the Harvest season and time to give thanks for the harvest, and spending time with family.  For me, being in an Italian family it means lots of food.  We use to have pasta at beginning, but had to remove it from the menu because there is always so much food.

Living in New England this time of the year is exciting, there is definitely a chill and the air, the leaves are just about gone and that means snow is on the way.  And it's the beginning of the Christmas season.

How do I celebrate Thanksgiving?

We have a very large dining room table that is filled with family, lots of noise and conversation.   Once we get to the house where dinner is being served, we start with a toast to the family members who are no longer with us.  Then the chaos begins, with several bottles of good red wine, and the wonderful dinner.

What kind of dishes do we serve?

The traditional kinds of dishes for this holiday:

Turkey that is roasted without stuffing (but we do make stuffing and make it separate from the Turkey).
Sausage / potato stuffing
Brussell sprouts, or string beans
Stuffed artichokes
Homemade bread 
Roasted chestnuts with red wine ( this is usually at the end of the meal before coffee or desserts)
Italian coffee with Sambuca, this is suppose to help us digest

Pumpkin pie
Squash pie
Italian pizzelles
Canolis filled with ricotta cheese 

What is my favourite:  

My favorite is the stuffed artichokes,  cranberry sauce (we are lucky to have so many cranberry bogs in Massachusetts, and the harvest of the cranberries just happened the end of October.  Of course red wine,  and finishing touch the italian coffee.

Here are a few fotos of the foods that we have.  

Stuffed Artichokes

Sausage / Potato stuffing

I want to thank Catherine Bedson from farmhousehome for asking me to describe Thanksgiving in the US.

I will post more fotos after Thanksgiving so that you can see what it all looks like.