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Roasted Eggplant Caponata and Fresh Peach Cake

  • Monday, January 24, 2011
  • A. Romano
  • Labels: , , , , ,
  • Anybody watch the food network? One of my favorite shows is Barefoot Contessa with Ina. Here are two great recipes from her repertoire. Roasted Eggplant Caponata is a wonderful appetizer and vegetarian dish. Fresh Peach Cake is simply delicious and a wonderful way to complete a homestyle meal.

    -1 large eggplant (1 1/2 pounds)
    -Olive oil
    -4 ounces jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
    -1/2 cup large green olives, pitted and chopped
    -1 cup chopped yellow onion
    -1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    -1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
    -3 tablespoons minced parsley
    -2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
    -2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    -2 tablespoons drained capers
    -2 tablespoons tomato paste
    -1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    -2 teaspoons kosher salt
    -1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
    -Toasted pita triangles, for serving

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

    Place the whole eggplant on the pan, prick with a fork in several places, and rub with olive oil. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft when pierced with a knife. Set aside to cool. Halve the eggplant, peel, and discard the skin. Place the eggplant, peppers, and olives in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped. Pour into a mixing bowl.

    Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onion is lightly browned. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minutes, and add to the eggplant mixture. Add the parsley, pine nuts, lemon jice, capers, tomato paste, vinegar, salt and pepper and mix. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop. Taste for seasonings and serve at room temperature with toasted pita triangles.

    If you want to make your pita triangles - buy pita. Cut into triangles. Brush each with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for about 10 minutes or until chips start to become golden. Serve with the caponata. Enjoy!

    -1/4 poind (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    -1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
    -2 estra-large eggs, at room temperature
    -1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
    -1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    -2 cups all-purpose flour
    -1 teaspoon baking soda
    -1 teaspoon baking powder
    -1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    -1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    -3 large, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced
    -1/2 cup chopped pecans

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon.

    Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan. Top with half of the peaches, then sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top, arrange the remaining peaches on top and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and the pecans. The batter layers will seem very thin, however, the cake will rise a lot due to the combination of baking soda and baking powder.

    Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Society/Economy/Politics: A great issue you can talk about while serving these dishes? Supporting local produce. Both recipes can be made with fresh, locally grown produce. It's a great way to help support your local economy and the quality of your produce will be much better than that of imported produce.

    Paula Deen Strikes Again (Pumpkin Cheesecake)

  • Thursday, January 20, 2011
  • Horia Dijmarescu
  • Labels: , , , , , , ,
  • Paula Deen is a superhero if her arteries can withstand her own food. For another professor dinner we made a pumpkin cheese cake. After the recipe, stick around and read a little public service announcement.

    Our version, with fresh raspberries!

    1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
    3 tablespoons light brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 stick melted salted butter

    3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
    1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
    3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
    1/4 cup sour cream
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For crust: In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

    For filling: Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined. Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.


    I feel sort of bad that I keep posting Paula Deen recipes, since they guarantee eventual diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. So here's a free public service announcement for the Let's Move Campaign.

    "The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake." - First Lady Michelle Obama at the Let’s Move! launch on February 9, 2010

    Obesity by the numbers

    Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. One third of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives; many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma.

    How did we get here?

    Thirty years ago, most people led lives that kept them at a pretty healthy weight. Kids walked to and from school every day, ran around at recess, participated in gym class, and played for hours after school before dinner. Meals were home-cooked with reasonable portion sizes and there was always a vegetable on the plate. Eating fast food was rare and snacking between meals was an occasional treat.

    Kids today lead a very different kind of life. Walks to and from school have been replaced by car and bus rides. Gym class and school sports have been cut and are often replaced now by afternoons with TV, video games, and the internet. Parents are busier than ever and families eat fewer home-cooked meals. Snacking between meals is the norm, not the exception.

    While kids thirty years ago ate just one snack a day, they are now trending toward three–so they’re taking in an additional 200 calories a day just from snacks. And one in five school-age kids has up to six snacks a day.

    Portion sizes have also exploded. Food portions are two to five times bigger than they used to be. Beverage portions have grown as well. In the mid-1970s, average sweetened drink portions were 13.6 ounces. Today, kids think nothing of drinking 20 ounces of soda at a time. In total, we are now eating 31 percent more calories than we were forty years ago–including 56 percent more fats and oils and 14 percent more sugars and sweeteners. The average American now eats fifteen more pounds of sugar a year than in 1970.

    And the average American child spends more than 7.5 hours a day watching TV and movies, using cell phones and computers for entertainment, and playing video games, and only a third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity.

    That’s the bad news. The good news is by making a few simple changes we can help our kids lead healthier lives–and we already have all of the tools we need to do it. We just need the will.

    So eat Paula Deen's recipes sparingly.

    21 Dangerous & Deadly Dishes

  • Horia Dijmarescu
  • Labels: ,

  • Here is a nice list of interestin­g and exotic dishes from Huffington Post!
    Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

    Dinner Conversation

    Since the header of this blog does say "food and politics," I figured that I should contribute a little bit to the politics section of our tagline. Of our many discussions while making these recipes over the past semester, Wikileaks and Julian Assange have both been very frequent subjects. This post is a little older (from November 30, 2010), but the ideas in it are still as relevant as ever and with the recent developments, it might add a bit more to a dinner conversation. Welcoming your thoughts!

    A Tangle in the Loom: WikiLeaks and Iran

    The recent thread of WikiLeaks sheds light on a foreign policy problem of nuclear proportions.

    In the past week, thousands of important documents and information have been leaked from various U.S. government agencies on WikiLeaks. The leaks are controversial, not only for their sheer number, but for release of cables and conversations between U.S. and very high-ranking officials from other countries. The leaks even prompted Barack Obama to enact new sanctions on Iran today. These sanctions blacklist 10 Iranian businesses connected to the Islamic Republic’s national bank and shipping lines, as well as five executives of these businesses.

    On Monday, November 29, 2010, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad referred to the leaked documents as “American psychological warfare that would not affect his country’s relations with other nations.” While Ahmadinejad and his administration might be crediting the U.S. bureaucracy with a bit too undeserved organizational skills by calling the leaks “organized to be released on a regular basis,” the leaked documents definitely confirm prevalent theories about the relations between Iran and its Arab gulf state neighbors and its aspirations for regional hegemony.

    It is well-known that Saudi Arabia and Iran are vying for regional hegemony, with Iran’s relative conventional military power and sphere of influence giving it a strong edge over the Saudi kingdom. Not only does this allow Iran to influence the trajectories of Iraq and Afghanistan, thus extending its regional influence, its status as a regional hegemon tips the regional balance of power away from Saudi Arabia and other Arab states that have alliances with the United States. Feeling threatened by such expanding Iranian influence even in the face of decades of sanctions, it is hardly surprising that the Saudi regime harbors strong animosity for the Khamenei’s. However, it was previously unknown that the Saudi-Iranian enmity went so far that Saudi Arabian King Abdullah repeatedly begged the United States to “‘cut off the head of the snake’ by launching military strikes to destroy Iran’s nuclear program,” one of the final pieces of Iranian policy that would enable it to secure the role of an undisputed regional hegemonic power. In order to curb Iranian influence, the United States announced in October of 2010 that it will sell $60 billion worth of military aircraft to the Saudi regime.

    Saudi Arabia is not the only gulf state feeling pressure to eliminate Iranian challenges to the current balance of power. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain argued in favor of forceful action by any means necessary to eliminate the Iranian nuclear program. Bahrain, a tiny kingdom on the Persian Gulf that is home to the American Fifth Fleet’s naval base, has been feeling Iranian pressure and influence for years. In July of 2007, Iranian advisor to Khamenei Hossein Shariatmadari stated that “The public demand in Bahrain is the reunification of this province with its motherland, the Islamic Iran.” An unnamed senior Omani military official (Oman being the country that helped secure the release of American Sarah Shourd from Evin Prison), is cited in a correspondence as unable to decide which would be worse – “a strike against Iran’s nuclear capability and the resulting turmoil it would cause in the Gulf, or inaction and having to live with a nuclear-capable Iran.” In a December 2005 meeting with American military commanders, United Arab Emirates defense chief and crown prince Mohammad bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi lobbied for American military action against Iran either “this year or the next.” Bin Zayed also expressed fears of a nuclear Iranian state, declaring that “any culture that is patient and focused enough to spend years working on a single carpet is capable of waiting years and even decades to achieve even greater goals.”

    While Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, on MSNBC Live is not the best interviewer, the answers provided by Doctors Juan Cole and Trita Parsi in this brief interview are very informative and discuss the fears of changing regional balances of power.

    Meanwhile, tensions in the region build as Israeli public opinion and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu perceive a growing, intolerable Iranian nuclear threat. Ehud Barak and prominent members of the Israeli intelligence community argue that Iran is not an existential threat nor is Israel the primary target of Iranian ambitions. Even Syrian president Bashar al-Assad argues that Iran will not use a nuclear weapon against Israel, stating that “an Iranian nuclear strike against Israel would result in massive Palestinian casualties, which Iran would never risk.” However, Iranian weapons purchases from North Korea does little to convince the public and Israeli politicians writ large of this understanding. Netanyahu views the WikiLeaks as something positive for Israel, confirming his suspicions about Iranian nuclear ambitions and showing the extent to which Israel and Arab states share a strong mutual interest in preventing Iranian hegemonic aspirations.

    Tensions continue to escalate between these states and power blocs in the Middle East. Yesterday, two prominent Iranian nuclear scientists, both professors at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University, were attacked in different parts of Tehran. Assailents on motorcycles managed to attach and detonate magnetized car bombs to the cars of scientists Majid Shahriari and Fereydoun Abbasi, the former killed and the latter injured with his wife. Shahriari was involved in a major project with Iran’s nuclear agency, and Abbasi is a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and listed as one of several involved in secret nuclear activity in a 2007 U.N. resolution. Abbasi was formerly an expert for Iran’s Defense Ministry and a top specialist in nuclear isotope separation. The Iranian regime currently blames Israel and the United States for orchestrating these attacks. Intelligence analysts blame Mossad for the 2007 death of top Esfahan uranium plant scientist Ardeshire Hassanpour. In January of 2010, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi was also killed, but it is unclear whether his death was related to his support of Mir Hossien Mousavi or an Israeli/American operation; he also died in a car bombing similar to that of Shahriari.

    The WikiLeaks available thus far clearly confirm the fears of Arab gulf states and seem to perpetuate Israeli public opinion and Netanyahu’s threat perceptions of Iran. In moving forward from the latest sanctions on Iran, the United States must decide how to manage these states’ interests to balance with its own in the Middle East and avoid yet another military conflict that would have, in Barak’s words, “unacceptable collateral damage,” on all sides.

    Parsley and Lime Shrimp Marinade

  • A. Romano
  • Labels: , ,
  • Here's an easy, flavorful marinade I've used for shrimp (of course you can always try it on something else, like chicken).

    Olive oil
    2-3 sprigs of fresh parsley
    Zest of a lime
    1/2 lime (juiced)
    Cracked black pepper
    Sea salt
    Garlic powder
    Red pepper flake

    Like most things I throw together, I don't really have measurements for you. As my father would say, "you need just the right amount". If you fold the parsley into a ball, essentially, and then chop it closely you will have very little difficulty getting the parsley to the right size. Make sure to cut off the stems off of the parsley - the leaf is what you want. Combine olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, parsley, lime zest, lime juice, red pepper flake, paprika and oregano together in a bowl and then stir in shrimp. Let sit for 30 minutes to a couple of hours and then grill. Easy, healthy, and delicious!

    Goes well with rice. Our group tried it with the Crunch Walnut Risotto and it was great.

    Crunch Top Apple Pie

  • Horia Dijmarescu
  • Labels: , , , , , ,

  • Paula Deen makes the healthiest meals:

    "Alright y'all, now you add the butter!" 
    "I want a room deodorizer that smells like butter and bacon."

    My roommate discovered this recipe in the fall. We got to work and pumped out a delicious apple pie in time for dinner with our professor part deux. Here it is:

    Dough and Filling:
    Dough for a double crust 9-inch pie (homemade, frozen, or refrigerated)
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    Dash salt
    3 1/2 cups peeled, chopped cooking apples
    1 (16-ounce) jar applesauce
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    2 tablespoons butter, chopped into small pieces

    Crunch Topping:
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon sugar
    Dash salt
    1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. The dough you have to make or buy yourself. It's not a part of this recipe. Sorry! Paula Dean fail. Line a 9-inch pie pan with half of dough. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Stir in apples, applesauce, and lemon juice. Spoon apple mixture into pie pan and dot with butter. Cut remaining crust into strips; arrange in a lattice design over top of pie. For crunch topping, combine flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Using a fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over top of crust. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for about 45 minutes, or until crust and topping are golden brown.

    Serve the pie with some vanilla ice cream for added fun and heart attack.


    Appetizers Made Easy

    As part of our elaborate dinners for awesome professors, we include a selection of appetizers. Two of our favorite, and ones that we have made several times, include a Tomato & Basil Bruschetta as well as "Greek" Potato Lattkes. The latter is such an easy, delicious recipe that we have made it together at least three times, and I have even made it for my family to sample as well.

    Tomato & Basil Bruschetta

    • one loaf of bread (we prefer a fresh ciabatta)
    • 4 fl oz of extra virgin olive oil (125 ml)
    • 4 Roma tomatoes
    • at least 6 fresh leaves of basil
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 8 Kalamata olives (pitted and chopped)
    • 1 large clove of garlic

    Cut bread into thin slices. Pour olive oil into a shallow dish and place bread in it. Be careful to put it in long enough to cover all of the bread slice in olive oil, but not so long that it becomes too soggy to work with. Be sure to flip the bread as well.

    While the bread is soaking in olive oil, dice the tomatoes and put them in a mixing bowl. Tear up basil leaves and add to the tomatoes. Add salt'n'peppa to taste. Chop the Kalamata olives and add them to the mixture. Pour any leftover olive oil over the mixture and leave it to marinate.

    Preheat a pan over medium heat. Place bread in the pan and cook (and flip) until each side is golden-brown and crispy. This might be more difficult if you leave the bread to soak in the olive oil for too long. Remove the bread from the pan and lay each slice out on a serving dish.

    Peel the clove of garlic and cut it in half. In addition to guaranteeing yourself some protection from vampires, rub the cut edge of the garlic over the surface of the bruschetta. Top each slice of bread with the tomato/basil/olive mixture and serve.

    "Greek" Potato Lattkes

    • 1.5 pounds of potatoes
    • 8+ oz of feta cheese
    • 4 scallions (chopped)
    • 3+ tablespoons of fresh dill (chopped)
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 1 egg
    • flour for dredging
    • Cooking oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Boil the potatoes whole and in the skins until soft. Drain water, then peel the skins off of the potatoes while still warm. The potatoes will be very, very hot and in order to make the process easier, using a spoon to help peel the potatoes is much easier. Place in a large mixing bowl and mash.

    Crumble the feta cheese into the potatoes and add the scallions, dill, lemon juice, and egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper (the cheese will already be salty, so be sure to taste the mixture before adding more). Stir mixture well (it's much easier to just do the mixing by hand). Cover the mixture and chill until mixture is firm. This step is very important because otherwise when making the lattkes, it will be very difficult to get them to retain their shape.

    Once chilled and firm, divide the mixture into walnut-sized balls, and then flatten slightly. Dredge them well in the flour (this will require a fair amount of flour, especially if you double this recipe, which we usually do). Heat the oil in the frying pan, and then fry the patties until golden-brown on each side. Drain on paper towels and serve while hot.

    As previously mentioned, we tend to double this recipe because our groups are usually larger than 4-8 people, but it is a crowd-pleaser every time and it's very easy to make. Hope you love it too! Also, more vampires for your enjoyment.

    Pasta with Greens, Garbanzo Beans and Ricotta Salata

  • J-Mad
  • Labels: , , ,

  • This is a delicious dish that we found on the Food Network's website and was the main entree at one of our first dinner party gatherings this past semester. After a quick Meijer's trip where we learned what mustard chard actually is, we had all of the necessary ingredients for a very easy, delicious meal. As with most recipes, there is always room for some experimentation, but with this one, we actually did not change anything, except the type of pasta suggested (a substitution with penne or whatever pasta we happened to have on hand at that time). The dish took less than a half hour to make and easily fed our group of five. Please find the original recipe below and enjoy!

    • 1 pound orecchiette or other short pasta
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 12 ounces Swiss chard or mustard greens, stemmed
    • 12 ounces baby spinach leaves
    • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
    • 2 cups small cherry/grape tomatoes
    • 8 ounces ricotta salata cheese, crumbled
    • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
    In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic and discard. Add the Swiss chard and cook until wilted. In batches, add the spinach and cook until wilted. Add the beans and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the pasta, 1/2 of the cheese, and lemon zest. Toss well and thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed.
    Transfer to a large serving bowl and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve.

    Alco Sauce

  • A. Romano
  • Labels: , , ,
  • While studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem this last summer I was able to explore the huge market in downtown Jerusalem. Narrow streets that open up to square-like areas are lined with every food imaginable. The produce is always fresh and the smells of the market are incredible. One weekend, we were unable to get everything we intended before Jerusalem shut down for Shabbat. Due to this fact I sat in the kitchen with one of my roommates trying to figure out what to make for dinner with the ingredients we had. So we decided to cook as we usually do, throw ingredients in a pot and make it up as we go. On this occasion we improvised a red sauce that I now use as often as I can when making pasta. Its layered flavors and heat give a traditional red sauce a nice twist and it can easily be tweaked to fit different pasta dishes whether they be seafood based, vegetarian, or meat based. Best of all, it's a pretty simple sauce to make.

    4-6 cloves of garlic (more or less depending on your taste)
    Olive oil
    Diced yellow onion
    4-5 tomatoes
    Dried sweet basil
    Madras curry or cayenne pepper
    Cracked black pepper
    Mushrooms (baby portobello or button are best)
    Balsamic vinegar
    Fresh chopped basil (for garnish)

    In a large saucepan or wok add plenty of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, diced onions, sweet basil, oregano, finely chopped garlic and mushrooms, toss to mix everything and thoroughly coat the onions and mushrooms. You can add the madras curry or cayenne at this point or part way through, but you want to make sure it is fully incorporated into the dish. Place on a med-low heat while you chopped the tomatoes. I like to chop my tomatoes in several different sizes so that some fully cook down while others only partially cook down so that there are some tomato chunks in the final dish. Add the tomatoes, stir and cover. Allow the sauce to cook down, stirring occasionally. Don't forget to test your dish throughout in order to discern whether you need to add more of one ingredient or another.

    While the sauce is cooking down boil salted water. If you like your dish to be really spicy add some madras curry or cayenne to the water so that the pasta is cooked with the spice. Boil the pasta so that it is al dente. (This dish tends to be better with a heartier noodle, spaghetti, angelhair and fettuccine and so forth do not seem to complement the dish as well as other pastas such as penne or mostaccioli.

    Once the sauce has cooked down, the mushrooms have cook through, and the onions have softened the sauce is ready. Feel free to add shrimp, other seafood and so forth to the dish in the last 5-10 minutes of cooking in order to warm them up and coat them in the sauce.

    Lay the sauce over pasta and garnish with chopped fresh basil and feta. Enjoy!

    As you can see I don't really measure things, if you would like measurements let me know and I will do my best to give you a more detailed idea of how much of each ingredient goes into this dish. Hope you enjoy it.

    Pasta with Green Beans, Potatoes and Pesto

  • A. Romano
  • Labels: , ,

  • This Williams-Sonoma recipe comes from one of my favorite pasta cookbooks and was always a crowd pleaser with high school friends. I love pesto and if you have a food processor, it's easy to make your own.

    Pasta with Green Beans, Potatoes and Pesto:
    For the pesto:
    1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts (for this I prefer pine nuts)
    2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
    2 or 3 garlic cloves
    1/4 cup grated pecorino sardo or parmesan cheese
    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or as needed
    Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
    For Pasta:
    8 new potatoes, 9 to 10 oz. total
    4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
    Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
    1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 to 1 1/12 inch lengths
    1 lb. fresh tagilarini or fettuccine (though we used penne, but the type of pasta you use will affect several elements of your dish)
    1/4 cup grated pecorino sardo or parmesan cheese

    To make the pesto, preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast until they take on color and are fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool. Leave the oven set at 350 degrees F. IN a food processor, combine the nuts, basil and garlic. Pulse until the basil is chopped. Add the cheese and pulse to combine. With the motor running, pour in the 1/2 cup oil, a few drops at a time, until the mixture has the consistency of mayonnaise, adding more oil as needed. season with salt and pepper; set aside.

    Rub the potatoes with 2 Tbs. of olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish and roast, shaking the dish from time to time, until tender when pierced, about 35 minutes.
    Meanwhile, bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil. Add the beans and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Scoop out with a skimmer, cool under running water and drain. reserve the cooking water.
    Remove the potatoes from the oven and cut into bite-size pieces. In a large sauté pan over high heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the potatoes and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes. Add the beans and stir until heated through, about 1 minute. Keep warm.
    Meanwhile, return the large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the pasta, stir well and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), about 2 minutes. Drain reserving a few Tbs. of cooking water. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl.
    Stir the pesto and the reserved water into the vegetables in the pan (off the heat). Add the pasta and toss well. Pass the cheese at the table.

    Great with a Sauvignon Blanc or a dry sparkling Prosecco depending on your tastes.

    Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Food & Wine Pairing, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1999).

    China Comes over for Dinner

  • Wednesday, January 19, 2011
  • Horia Dijmarescu
  • Labels: , , , ,

  • Saw this article on Huffington Post. Figured it was relevant. President Hu Jintao of China is in Washington DC today attending a State Dinner. Earlier today Jintao stated that "China is enduring challenges as it develops and 'a lot still needs to be done in China in terms of human rights.'" He also said "China stood to gain from other countries' input, saying: 'We're also willing to learn.'" This just proves that food improves global relations.  Below is the dinner menu for that event. But with all due respect to the White House (and I am confident that the meals are delicious and gourmet), we've cooked more courses for our professors.

    D'Anjou Pear with Farmstead Goat Cheese Fennel, Black Walnuts, and White Balsamic

    Poached Maine Lobster
    Orange Glaze Carrots and Black Trumpet Mushrooms
    Wine: DuMol Chardonnay "Russian River" 2008 (California)
    Lemon Sorbet

    Dry Aged Rib Eye with Buttermilk Crisp Onions
    Double Stuffed Potatoes and Creamed Spinach
    Wine: Quilceda Creek Cabernet "Columbia Valley" 2005 (Washington State)

    Old Fashioned Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
    Wine: Poet's Leap Riesling "Botrytis" 2008 (Washington State)

    Presentation, presentation, presentation

  • Horia Dijmarescu
  • Labels: , , ,
  • I think I will make it fairly obvious fairly soon that I am a stickler for presentation. Here, we made a simple arrangement of pineapple and mango, cut into cubes and rectangles. A simple fruit dessert made pretty by contrasting red mango peel and a vibrant green pineapple leaves rising from the middle. 

    Simple made sexy. 

    And in the event that eating pineapple is not enough, go out and win MegaMillions and live in a giant pineapple house in Dunmore, Scotland. 

    Crunch Walnut Risotto

  • Horia Dijmarescu
  • Labels: , , ,
  • We took a page from one of our small cookbooks this weekend and experimented with a crunchy walnut risotto. Of course, like any aspiring chef professors/lawyers we diverged from the recipe in several areas.

    The original recipe requires the following:

    1 tbsp olive oil
    2 1/2 oz butter
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    10 oz Arborio rice
    40 fl oz simmering vegetable stock
    4 oz walnut halves
    3 oz freshly grated Parmesan
    2 oz Mascarpone cheese
    2 oz Gorgonzola cheese

    Here's our method, with the ingredients we used and/or substituted. We heated the oil with a bit of butter and sauteed the onions until golden. Separately the rice was cooked in a Persian rice cooker (2 cups rice, 3 cups water, 1/4 cup cooking oil) for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. We lined the bottom of the rice cooker with sliced potatoes to make Tadiq. Instead of Arborio rice, we used long-grain white Basmati rice (rinse first!).

    Persian rice cooker

    On the stove the sauteed onions are mixed with toasted walnuts (and we added sliced almonds). In another bowl we mixed gorgonzola cheese with parmesan and added paprika, salt, and pepper. When the rice is done cooking we flipped it out of the cooker, took off the crunchy potato bottom to eat separately and mixed in the onions, walnut, almond mixture and the cheese and spices mixture with some butter.

    Turned out great! Hope it does for you. Let us know!

    Torta Regina

  • J-Mad
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  • So this is the first, not-test post for Cosmopolitan Cuisine, and what a better way to start it off than with a dessert? This past weekend, the group experimented with a Wolfgang Puck recipe for "Torta Regina." However, after first making the cake according to Mr. Puck and running out of hazelnuts, we threw walnuts into the mix and it turned out even more delicious. It turned out so well, that I am going to make it again for my family this weekend and will post photos. Please find the original recipe below, with our walnut addition. Enjoy!


    • 8 ounces hazelnuts and walnuts combined, roasted and peeled
    • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
    • 8 eggs, separated
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • Cocoa powder or melted chocolate, for decoration


    Butter a 10 by 2-inch cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    In a food processor, pulse the nuts until coarsely chopped. Reserve. Process the chocolate until coarsely chopped. Add to the chopped nuts.

    In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until light and ribbony.

    In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.

    Fold the nuts and chocolate into the egg yolk mixture. Carefully fold the egg white into the yolk mixture. Fill the cake pan 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until center is springy.

    Remove from the oven and cool on a baking rack. Dust with cocoa powder or decorate with chocolate drawings.

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