Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pasta with Red Bell Pepper Cream

At our house, it's all about the simplicity of the Italian kitchen.  With fresh vegetables showing up at local famers markets, it's good to keep some simple recipes handy.  This red bell pepper cream is all about consistency.   The creaminess of this dish comes from the starch in the pasta water, rather than real cream.  The intensity of the flavor comes from gently oven roasting your pepper ahead.   You can also cut up your pepper and give it a boil. 
I prefer to gently oven roast as the skin can easily be peeled off when cooled, before it goes in the food processor.  This sauce can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

Ingredients:  One red bell pepper (large)
Flat skillet.
One large shallot (diced)
2 tablespoons Olive oil plus more for drizzling at the table
Parmigiano Reggiano grated for the table.
One teaspoon salt
One teaspoon pepper
One food processor 
Sprigs of fresh Basil

Method:   Heat your oven to 375 F degrees/bake.  Cut your bell pepper length wise  and core your red bell pepper by pulling away the seedy part.  You can also cut it out.   Heat your olive oil in your skillet to medium.   Add your diced shallot and cook until fragrant and shallot is clear but not golden.   Remove from heat and place in a small food processor. Set aside with the lid off to cool.  Wait to process.  
Place your split bell pepper skin side up in your oven proof skillet.   I like to use the same pan the onion was cooked in. The peppers should lay somewhat flat.  
Place in the oven for 40 minutes.   The skin will puff up when cooked.
Remove and let cool for 10 minutes.
With a fork, gently pull away the skin.  Your bell pepper will be fragrant. 
Place them in the food processor with onion, a fresh sprig of Basil leaves and give them a mix until pureed. 

Cook your pasta until al dente.  Reserve about 1/3 cup pasta water.  Add your Bell pepper puree, water, hot pasta and give it a mix.  Take to the table hot. 

Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese.  Buon Appetito!
Special Note:  This bell pepper cream can be added to anything including roasted fish. Just don't use to much.  It's a great idea for leftovers.  You always want a condiment to enhance flavor not over power it.  Try some today. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Pancetta wrapped Pork Roast (Arrosto di Maiale con Pancetta e verdure)

Ingredients:  One 3 pound Pork Tenderloin
2 handfuls of fresh Rosemary  (one diced fine for baking/ the other for decoration on plate)
Handful of fresh Sage
A sprinkle of ground sage all over your meat
about 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons salt
one cup flour
one cup of white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for the plate)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 slices of Pancetta
kitchen twine to hold your roast together

Roasted Vegetables:  2 pounds red potatoes, cleaned, sliced thin
1/2 pound baby carrots
2 tablespoons olive oil
one teaspoon salt
one teaspoon pepper
Place your vegetables into a bowl with the above ingredients and toss.

One large baking pan that can go from stove-top to oven (do not use a glass dish)
Oven string to tie your roast
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees/ bake
Method:  In a large skillet or baking pan, heat olive oil on low.  In the meantime, salt and pepper your meat.  Make tiny holes across the top and bottom of your meat and place some garlic and rosemary pieces into your meat.  Place slices of pancetta across the top to cover.   Tie your roast to give it an even shape.  Turn your heat up to medium.   Coat in flour and place the meat into the hot pan.  Cook a few minutes on each side until golden.   When all sides are golden, (after 5 minutes), add your cut up vegetables, salt, pepper and mix. Add some additional herbs (Leave the herbs in big pieces so you can remove them before serving).  After just a minute, add your wine and let cook for about 6-8 minutes.  Place your pan directly into the oven for 45 additional minutes cooking time.  This is a very easy dish to make.   Cut up some additional rosemary for your plate for decoration, and remove your pan from the oven.  Your vegetables should be golden and meat completely cooked.  Use an oven thermometer if you are not sure.  Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing.  (If your vegetables are not golden, return your vegetables into the oven for an additional 5 minutes on light broil). 
Remember, oven temps will vary.  Don't be afraid to add additional cooking time depending on the weight of your tenderloin. 
Buon Appetito!