Tuesday, March 24, 2015

panino gourmet

panino gourmet
There's a place in Rome, in the Monti area, where you can find a great spot for panini. It's a sandwich take-away restaurant with an unusual selection on their menu.  The ambient is essential, there's lots of stainless steel, lots of grey, it's like walking straight into a high-tech professional kitchen.  At first, you perceive a cold impact which contrasts with a sense of welcoming coziness that comes immediately after, as soon as you grab a stool, drink a beer and watch the chef prepare you a gourmet panino, of top knotch quality.  Your so indulged to dive into it immediately that your intent of a take-away is long forgotten.

The menu lists a variety of unique sandwiches. Their bread is homemade, like kale bread, chestnut bread, black squid ink bread, matcha with wasabi sesame seed bread, potato bread, blueberry bread, each combined to a perfect filling. You'll find octopus and potato bread sandwiches; lamb burgers with persimmon sauce, red mizuna and chestnuts; green burgers; kale bread with pumpkin soup (the soup is in the bread); vegan burgers with black sesame seed bread, tofu, ginger sauce and leek sprouts...things like, rabbit tuna (?) cooked at a low temperature with dill and juniper berries.  It's all gourmet, it's all good!  Panini with a capital "P".

Tricolore Panini.  This is their www.tricolorepanini.com and don't miss their instagram.

The last time I went, I had a pita with falafel (made with a broth-boiled beef), daikon and a green sauce. I posted a picture here on my instagram. It was so good that I was inspired to make my own gourmet sandwich using some left over beef from a broth I had made a couple of days before and sadly sitting in the fridge waiting for this to happen. 
panino gourmet
The ingredients I used are leftovers.  The bread,  is a homemade kamut bread a few days old, that I reinvigorated by spraying some fresh water on each slice and toasting it in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil.  I also used the same bread to make the green sauce, only the crumb of two slices, which I placed in a bowl to soak in a couple of spoons of white vinager.  I then squeezed the crumb from the liquid, placed it in a mixer adding, some fresh mint leaves, fresh parsley, a couple of anchovies, one hard boiled egg (only the yolk), 3 tbsps circa, of extra virgin olive oil, salt to taste. Once the green sauce is made, spread a generous amount on each slice of bread. The more the better.  Add some fresh greens, and slices of boiled meat, previously heated on the pan with a little oil. The onion you see on top was also left over from the meat broth, it's simply boiled.  Finish with salt and oil just before placing the other slice of bread on top. Now all you need is a beer.

Friday, March 13, 2015

pasta ... the day after

Spaghetti & Meatballs, must…need, to be as they are meant to be.  Swirling spaghetti around a fork, drenched in a meatball-ragu sauce, is, and will always be the version we all want and love.  But, sometimes, it might happen to be, that some are left over and that’s when they become even more delicious by heating them up in a pan, just enough to form that crispy, burnt, crunchy coat that nobody can resist.  That’s what this is.  It’s basically, the day-after spaghetti and meatballs. The type you make without having to wait for leftovers.
Spaghetti Gateau
Just like a cake you can offer spaghetti and meatballs in slices, they’re good, cold, just as they are warm.  The tiny little meatballs I made to go with them, took forever, a forever-30-minutes, that proved to be the perfect size for a perfect bite. 

Have a lovely weekend friends!
Baked Spaghetti & Meatballs 

400 g minced beef meat
3 fairly big slices of stale bread previously soaked in milk
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, diced very small
1 egg
Flour for coating
Extra virgin olive oil for the pan

Soak the stale bread in milk, when it is completely soft, squeeze with your hands to remove all the liquid from the bread.  Add all the ingredients in a big bowl and mix with your hands until everything is combined.  Form tiny meatballs the size of a marble.  Place some flour in a big tray and place the meatballs in the flour, swirl the tray so that the flour coats the meatballs all around, then place the meatballs in a sieve to remove any excess flour.  Heat a big pan, add some olive oil and cook the meatballs until they are browned.

Tomato sauce
1 small onion, diced
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat a high edged sauce pan, add the extra virgin olive oil, the diced onion.  Allow the onion to soften then add the pre-cooked meatballs.  Now add the tomato sauce, season to taste.  Allow the sauce to cook for 30 minutes.

Tomato meatball sauce
Grated parmesan cheese
3 whisked eggs

Prepare a spring form pan, butter the inside and coat with bread crumbs.  

Cook the spaghetti in a pot of boiling water.  Cook half way through the time required, i.e., if the pasta cooks al dente in 10 minutes, remove the pasta after 5 minutes. Drain the pasta from its water and place in a big bowl.  Add the sauce, the grated parmesan cheese and 3 eggs that you have previously whisked.

Place the pasta in the spring form pan, top with dollops of butter and a generous amount of parmesan cheese.

Baked in a preheated oven at 180ºC for 30 minutes or until crispy golden brown.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

pescato nel nostro mare

fish and mushroom soup
The type of cooking I prefer is instinctual, improvised. There's really no recipe.  It's the ingredient you find that day. Some people have it in them, they just know what to do, others take time, they go to school, learn from chefs, mothers, read books.  Then, there's the category where I place myself, an eclectical home cook, that's inspired by many things, above all, I seek seasonal, fresh, quality ingredients. I aim to cook food that's down-to-earth, sometimes it's surprisingly good too, it will, however, always be simple.

So that day, some healthy looking fish and a sign that said, pescato nel nostro mare, was enough to convince me I was having fish for lunch.  Pescato nel nostro mare, literally translates to, fish caught in our sea, which doesn't mean that the sea, is by the word, "ours", but that the fish is caught, here, off the Italian coast.  I don't disdain seafood that comes from any other part of the world.  Canadian salmon, for instance, is one of my favourites, ... so is Scottish and Norwegian, but I'm also conscious of the fact that I have a better chance to find a wild salmon sold frozen, than the fresh farm raised stuff of dubious nature, that I see on our fish markets growing more and more.  So, if I can get, as close as I can get, to fresh, pescato nel nostro mare, and grown wild in its natural state, I go for that.  I'm not an expert, I just know that I'm happy to eat something that tastes better when it's in my plate and I'm more happy when I know what I'm eating.

The fish I found was sole fish.  A delicate type in taste and texture that cooks in seconds with very little preparation. As a matter of fact, I decided to steam it, trying to keep the juices from dispersing, by bundling up the fillets in a roll. I tied each roll with a thread made of leek and cooked them just above a mushroom broth which rendered an earthy flavour. Bread wasn't left out, it does a such good job in making sure nothing is left behind.
fish and mushroom soup
Sole Fish Mushroom Soup
serves 4

4 (or 6 depending on the size) sole fish
200 g dried porcini mushrooms
4 medium size champignon mushrooms
extra virgin olive oil
1 leek

Soak the dried mushrooms in water for 30 minutes.  When ready, squeeze the water from the mushrooms with your hands and through a sieve drain the water they were soaking in.

Fillet the sole fish, or if you prefer, ask your fish merchant to do so for you.  Place the fillets on a kitchen board and season with salt, pepper and thyme.  Roll each fillet and wrap with a leek thread, made by using the external part of the leek.  Cut a long thin strip by pointing the tip of your knife and sliding it longwise the leek.  Put aside.

Make the mushroom broth.  Slice one leek in very thin rounds and let them cook in a wide deep saucepan with a couple of spoons of extra virgin olive oil, once they begin to soften, add a glass of white wine and add the porcini mushrooms and some of the sieved porcini liquid they were soaked in.  If necessary add some more hot water or a quick fish broth made with the parts you discard from the sole fillets. Let the broth simmer for 15 minutes.

Steam the sole fish rolls in a bamboo pot that is place right on top of the mushroom broth.  Allow them to cook until they turn pure white and they're texture is firm, about 5 minutes.  

Remove the broth from the stove and add the champignon mushrooms at the last minute.  Tie a chive thread around each sole fish roll.  Serve by placing the sole rolls in each bowl and spoon the hot mushroom broth over the rolls.  Add the dill to garnish.