Onion Gratin Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Onion Gratin Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Maybe it will happen tonight, or tomorrow. How many sandwiches are you eating during this quarantine?

I saw a recipe at the NY Times Cooking Section (by Ali Slagle) that inspired me. And oh boy, this Onion Gratin Grilled Cheese Sandwich is just as good as I thought it would be! I brought it up to quarantine cooking club and have been making this sandwich over and over again. It already became a regular in the weekly repertoire in my house.

Caramelizing onions does take a bit of time to prepare.  I usually prepare it when I’m cooking something else so that have it ready in the fridge, and then, when I crave for this sandwich, boom, it’s ready.

I usually like a small sandwich, so I always go for the end parts of the bread as they are smaller than the center cut of a loaf. But if you like a regular sized sandwich, be sure to center slices. I used Italian bread because that’s what I had at home at the time, but any country style or sourdough bread will make a damn good sandwich.

As for the cheese, traditionally, the classic French Onion Soup calls for Grueye cheese. I had cheddar in the fridge, that’s what I used. Feel free to use muenster, gruyere, cheddar or any other yellow cheese of your preference.

You can use a panini press machine, an iron camp cooker or just a simple plain skillet.

You can watch of video of this recipe on my YouTube Channel! And don’t forget to subscribe!

 

Onion Gratin Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Serves 2

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted to mayonnaise point

1 center slices Italian bread

4 slices white cheddar cheese

1 raw garlic clove

 

Cook the onions: in a large skillet heat the olive oil over low heat and add the onions. Cook slowly, stirring frequently, until they caramelize into a deep amber caramel color, about 25 to 30 minutes. If you see some onions burning on the sides, add a tablespoon of water. Resist the temptation to turn up the heat; they need to caramelize over low heat or else they might burn too fast. Transfer to a plate or a container and keep refrigerated. You can make the onions up to 5 days ahead of time.

Pre-heat the panini press.

Spread melted butter on the outer parts of the bread.

Mound some onions, about 2-3 tablespoons on one side of the bread, top with the cheese, close the sandwich and take it to press until nice and golden-brown and the cheese is melted, about 4-5 minutes.

 

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Bean Broth

Bean Broth with Croutons

I used black eyes peas simply because that’s what was in my pantry. Feel free to use any kind of dried beans to make this delicious bean broth recipe and serve with croutons, parsley and Parmesan, or other garnishes that you might prefer. I used the ends of a loaf bread to make garlic croutons. It goes to show, in times of pandemic, nothing goes to waste! Inspired by the magazine Bon Appetit, this is another great one! You can watch a video of me cooking this recipe with my kids here. 

 

Bean Broth With Croutons

Serves 4 to 6 people

 

For the Black Beans:

1 pound dried black eyed beans, picked over and rinsed (but not soaked)

8 to 10 cups water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 to 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and whole

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 fresh bay leaves

 

For the Croutons:

2 end slices of any type of country bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

 

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly chopped parsley

 

For the Beans:

Place the black beans in a pressure cooker and cover with tap water by 2 inches. (about 8 to 10 cups of water). Add the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and bay leaves. Lock the lid and bring to a boil. When you hear the sound of the pressure cooker in full gear, reduce the heat to medium- low (it is very important to maintain a constant gentle pressure because the pressure keeps increasing as the boiling point of the water increases). Check the beans after 20 to 25 minutes – they should be tender, showing no traces of starch, but not mushy. The water will be cloudy. Remove from the heat and set aside.

 

For the Croutons:

Tear the bread into small pieces or cut them with a serrated knife. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add the oil and butter. add the bread in a single layer. the oil and butter should be bubbling lightly. Adjust the heat as necessary and keep stirring the croutons as often as you can, to make sure they turn golden evenly all around. Cook until the croutons are crisp and a beautiful golden rich golden brown on all sides, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Let them cool completely. Once cooled they can be stored in the refrigerator and warmed back in a hot oven for 3 minutes to crisp up again.

To assemble, pour some of the beans into bowls and garnish with croutons, parmesan and parsley.

 

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Leticia

 

 

Pasta Cacio E Pepe

Pasta Cacio E Pepe

Pasta Cacio E Pepe

Pepper in the beginning and in the end! That’s the spirit of this amazing, classic and delicious dish from Italy called Pasta Cacio E Pepe. As mentioned in the video (watch it on You Tube), saving some of the pasta water is the real secret to this recipe. Yes! That cloudy water, that everyone throws away! Now you know! Keep it. Save it. that water is full of flavor! You might not seed to save the whole thing, but save at least 2 cups. As you add the water to the pan, and it mixes with the peppery butter, it creates a starchy, creamy sauce that transform this dish from ordinary to extraordinary!

Pasta Cacio e Pepe

Serves 2

 

Kosher salt

6 oz long noodle pasta (such as bucatini, spaghetti, tagliolini or Fusilli lunghi—as used in this recipe)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

¾ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

 

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large pasta pot. Season with salt. Add pasta and cook stirring occasionally, until just al dente (take one minute off from package instructions). Drain and reserve about 2 cups of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling the pan, until the black pepper starts to release it aromas, about 1 minute.

Add about ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and remaining butter. Reduce. Heat to low and add the cheese, stirring and tossing with tongs, until all melted. Remove the pan from the heat. Add more cheese, stirring and tossing, until the cheese melts, and the noodles are covered by a creamy, beautiful sauce. Feel free to add more pasta water if the sauce seems a little dry. Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve immediately. I like to sprinkle even more cheese and more pepper at the end. Never enough!

 

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Tuna & Israeli Couscous Salad

Tuna & Israeli Couscous Salad

My daughter loves this recipe for Tuna & Israeli Couscous Salad! What I love about it, is that it’s great for batch cooking; we can make a batch and the family will eat throughout the week. Although, it’s so good that in just 2-3 days it’s over! Then we make it again, as it already became a staple in our home! Be sure to bring it to room temperature (but keep it covered until ready to serve) about one hour before serving. I made this salad with radish, celery and cherry tomatoes, because that’s what we had in the fridge; feel free to use scallions, ginger, capers, or any other condiments and vegetables (shallots!) you think might go well here. As long as they don’t overwhelm the flavors of the tuna and Israeli couscous, it’s all good. Also, I started with cooked couscous, and to do so, treat it as pasta; bring about 8 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Season with a large pinch of salt. Add the couscous and cook according to package instructions. Drain a colander and toss it with olive oil. You can watch a video of me cooking with my daughter Bianca here on You Tube. and don’t forget to subscribe to the channel!

Tuna & Israeli Couscous Salad

Tuna & Israeli Couscous Salad

Serves 4 to 6

 

1 ½ cup cooked Israeli couscous (I used the tri-color, but feel free to use the regular)

2 red radish, finely diced

2 stalks celery, peeled and finely diced

½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

One (5-ounce) can or jar Italian tuna, drained and flaked

¼ cup freshly chopped parsley

¼ cup freshly chopped cilantro

 

In a large bowl, combine the couscous, radish, celery, cherry tomatoes and tuna, and fold well with a rubber spatula. Add the tuna, lemon zest and olive oil. Try to preserve some of the large chunks of tuna. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the herbs to finish. Serve at room temperature.

 

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Pasta with Peas and Pancetta

Pasta With Peas And Pancetta

Pasta with Peas and Pancetta

 

Pasta with Peas & Pancetta

Serves 4

We first tried this recipe for Pasta with Peas & Pancetta at our neighbor’s house for dinner one night, and after that, we never stopped making it at home. Our neighbors are from Rome, Italy, so we get spoiled sometimes with a Parmesan cheese from Italy and other imported ingredients that we love to indulge. Don’t worry too much about the kind of pasta you use for this dish. We used orecchiette, because that’s what was in the pantry, but any other shape along the lines of penne, farfalle, or fusilli will go well here. This is what we call Quarantine Cooking Club! You can watch a video of me cooking this recipe with my kids, Thomas and Bianca on You Tube 

 

Ingredients:

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 ounces pancetta, diced

½ onion, minced

One 10-ounce package (about 2 cups) frozen peas, thawed

1-pound orecchiette (or other pasta shape mentioned above)

¼ cup fresh chopped parsley

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Coarsely ground pepper

 

Procedure:

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large pasta pot. Season with salt. Add pasta and cook stirring occasionally, until just al dente (take one minute off from package instructions). Drain and reserve about 2 cups of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons of the oil and the pancetta in a large skillet and cook over medium high heat stirring occasionally, until the pancetta has rendered some of its fats and it’s crispy, golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a plate.

Using the fat that’s in the pot, add the onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the peas, the pasta, the pancetta and a couple of tablespoons by eye to the pan, mixing everything together and making sure every ingredient is enrobed by the natural juices in the pan. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Finish with Parmesan cheese and serve in individual bowls.

 

 

I’m so happy that you visited today! Thanks for reading and browsing my site!

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Leticia

 

 

Ricotta Dumplings

Chef Ignacio Matto’s Ricotta Dumplings

The Uruguayan Chef Ignacio Mattos of the restaurant Estela in New York City, transforms the humble ricotta cheese into some of the most exciting foods being cooked today. This recipe for Ricotta Dumpling, stimulates all five senses. Six, if you include your sense of accomplishment.

Here is the recipe, adapted from his cookbook, Estela.

Ignacio Matto’s Ricotta Dumplings

Serves 6

For the Dumplings:

1 ½ cups (350g) packed fresh ricotta

¾ cup (75g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 large egg

 

Scant 1 cup (230ml) mushroom stock

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 button mushrooms, chopped

½ cup (50g) finely grated Parmesan cheese

 

Drain the Ricotta: Drain the ricotta to make sure it’s firm and not too wet. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Put the ricotta in the strainer, wrap it in the cheesecloth, and weight it down with a few cans or something else that’s heavy enough to put pressure on it. Cover and refrigerate for 1 day. The result should be dense, and a soft clump of ricotta should stick to your finger when you try to take a swipe.

Make the Dumplings: When you’re ready to make the dumplings, combine the Parmesan, flour, and salt in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork; set aside. Measure out 1 cup densely packed ricotta and put it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the ricotta on medium-low speed for 2 minutes, or until thick and creamy, almost like the consistency of peanut butter. Add the egg and beat until it’s fully incorporated; scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the dry ingredients and mix well for about 5 minutes. The batter will be thick and smooth.

To Form the Dumplings: Sift a generous amount of flour over a baking sheet. Find a large spoon and set out a small bowl of water. Scoop up a spoonful of batter, level it off against the edge of the batter bowl and then use the edge of a wet finger to slide it onto the baking sheet. The resulting dumpling should be somewhere between a blob and a half moon, with a little seam from where your finger was. This will be your test dumpling. Bring a small saucepan of unsalted water to a boil. Dust the test dumpling with a little more flour, drop it into the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Scoop it out and cut into it, to make sure that it holds together, and it’s cooked through. If it’s not quite cooked, increase the timing to 3 ½ minutes when you cook all the dumplings. If they threaten to fall apart, add a little more flour to the batter (no more than 1 teaspoon) and shape and cook another test dumpling.

Continue forming the dumplings with the remaining batter, leaving space between the dumplings. You should have about 20 dumplings. Sift a bit more flour over the dumplings and freeze them on the baking sheet for at least 4 hours, until frozen solid. You can make these up to 3 weeks ahead of time. transfer them to a freezer bag once they’re frozen solid and return them to freezer.

To cook the dumpling, bring a medium pot of unsalted water to a boil. Drop in the dumplings, bring the water back to a boil and cook the dumplings for 3 ½ minutes or until cooked through.

Assemble: As the dumplings cook, heat the mushroom stock and butter in a pan, whisking to combine. Add the chopped mushrooms and simmer until just tender. When the dumplings are ready, drain them. Add them to the mushroom sauce and gently simmer everything for 30 seconds. Divide the dumplings and sauce between wide bowls, top with the Parmesan cheese and the sliced mushrooms and serve immediately. Enjoy!

 

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Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp

Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp

The Taste of Darkness

Why can’t we resist black colored food?  Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp is such a case. Tinted with the ink of cuttlefish, this dark food became a favorite of my family. it goes really well with shrimp and tomato sauce. You can find the ink available in some Italian, Spanish and Japanese stores. Some fish mongers will also sell it. Or you can buy black pasta just like I did. I found it at Arthur’s Ave in New York, one of my favorite places to shop. There is absolutely nothing different than cooking this pasta from the other regular pasta that you already know.

Squid Ink Pasta

The Shrimp Stock:

In my opinion, it’s easy to discount’s the shrimp stock’s importance in this dish, especially when you have pasta water. But it’s an essential element, and it affects the flavor and texture of this Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp. Simply cook the shrimp shells in a hot pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil, add cold water and bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes.

Shrimp Stock

My kids stay with me over the range, half cooking, half talking every time we make this dish. Then we sit and enjoy a delicious dinner. The result is incredible as anything a restaurant can provide. There is that moment of silence when we close our eyes and take the first bite, before the familiar laughter, which is the best part of dinner.

Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp

Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp

Serves 4

1 lb black squid ink pasta (spaguitti is my preference but other shape will work)

Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 lb (454g) raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 large shallot, finely minced (about 4 tablespoons)

¼ cup white wine

1 cup shrimp stock from the shells, or chicken stock, plus more for tossing pasta (optional)

2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

 

  • Fill a pot with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add a large pinch of salt. Add the pasta and stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is 2 minutes away from being al dente according to package instructions. Drain the pasta while saving some of the pasta water, just in case.
  • In a 12-inch skillet warm the olive oil. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and sauté over medium heat until they just start to turn orange, about 1 minute per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl and cover with foil. Using the oil that is left in the pan, add the garlic and cook it just starts to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add the shallots and cook over low heat, scraping the juices from the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the white wine and continue to scrape the pan until every precious bit is released from the pan and flavoring the shallots and garlic. Add the shrimp stock and bring to full boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low, add the pasta and shrimp, tossing vigorously to distribute the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and finish with tomatoes and parsley. Transfer to warm bowls and serve hot.

 

I’m so happy that you visited today! Thanks for reading and browsing my site!

If you like what you read, tell your friends about it,

I’d love to connect with you! Please do send comments and suggestions,

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And remember always,

Cook at home! Body Up! Health up! Wise up!

See you next time!

Leticia

 

Dinner on Demand: Penne A La Vodka

Dinner on Demand: Penne A La Vodka

“Mom, can you make Penne a La Vodka for us to try?”

Of course, son!

Here it is, my own version, as I share with you this easy (ridiculously easy) recipe, and yet, oh so good!

 

Penne A La Vodka

Serves 4

1 lb penne pasta

Kosher Salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 large shallot, finely minced

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly ground nutmeg

One 28-oz can whole tomatoes San Marzano

¼ cup vodka

½ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1- Fill a pot with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add a large pinch of salt. Add the pasta and stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is 2 minutes away from being al dente, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta while saving some of the pasta water, just in case.

2- In a medium sauce pan warm the olive oil over low heat, add the garlic and cook it just starts to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add the shallots and season lightly with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

3- Pour the can of tomato juice (everything, tomatoes, juice) into the food processor and buzz quickly, just to break the tomatoes. Carefully pour into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until sauce starts to thicken, about 10 minutes.

4- Add the vodka and heavy cream and continue to cook, simmering gently over low heat.

5- Add the pasta and fold into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and finish with parsley and parmesan. Transfer to warm bowls and serve hot.

Pumpkin Lasagna for Pumpkin Season

Pumpkin Lasagna for Pumpkin Season

I love classic lasagna. But I love even more bold lasagnas, featuring interesting combinations—like this one. Although this recipe is a bit time consuming, once assembled, you can freeze it unbaked, or keep in the fridge for up to 5 days ahead of time. Trust me, it’s worth the effort!

This recipe is inspired by Fine Cooking Magazine. I made a similar version a few times, and then came up with my own version.

You can use pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, or any vegetable of the same family. As for the pasta sheets, using store-bought lasagna sheets is convenient, and the result is great. But when I tried using fresh lasagna sheets which are thinner and more delicate, this lasagna was elevated to a whole new level, much finer and sophisticated.

Hope you’ll be inspired to cook this amazing recipe! Be sure to take pictures and share with me when you do!

Serves 8 to 10 people

For the Pumpkin:
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small pumpkin, about 4 lbs, peeled and seeded and cubed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
3 garlic cloves, mashed and finely minced
1 onion, finely chopped

For the Goat Cheese-Bechamel:
4 tablespoons butter
2 sprigs fresh sage plus 1 tablespoons freshly chopped sage
3 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 oz (one small log) goat cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the Crumbs:
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon freshly chopped sage
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

1 lb Lasagna sheets

Equipment: 9 X 13 baking dish, sprayed with grease

1. Cook the Pumpkin: In a large pan, warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat and add the pumpkin. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the pumpkin is completely soft and mashed, about 20 to 30 minutes.

2. In the meantime, in another small pan, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook the garlic over low heat until just golden, about 2 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until the mixture is very soft and translucent. Season with salt and pepper

3. When the pumpkin is completely cooked, add the onion mixture to the pumpkin, and cook for another 5 minutes, until all flavors blend together, about 5 minutes. If you have a masher, be sure to use it. Even if the pumpkin seems completely mashed and soft, you’ll be surprised how many pieces of pumpkin you may find when you spread the filling if you don’t mash with a fork, or masher. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.

4. Prepare the Bechamel Sauce: Warm the milk in a small saucepan and keep in the back of the stove.

5. Melt the butter in a medium sized quart pan over medium heat. Add the sage sprigs and cook until the butter if fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the sage and discard.

6. Add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth and golden, about 2 minutes.

7. Carefully pour all of the milk into the butter/flour mixture and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.

8. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and a tiny pinch of cinnamon.

9. Add the goat cheese and the parmesan cheese and whisk well. Taste and make sure it’s well seasoned.

10. Reserve about 1 to 1 ½ cup of this béchamel to assemble the lasagna. Mix whatever béchamel sauce you have left with the mashed pumpkin, and taste again. This is the filling of your lasagna. It needs to taste delicious!

11. Prepare the Breadcrumbs: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the breadcrumbs and toast over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the breadcrumbs turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool.

12. Add the herbs, parmesan, and season with salt and pepper.

13. Assemble the Lasagna: Spread ½ cup of the reserved béchamel sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with one sheet of the pasta (cut the sheet to fit your baking dish). Spread 1 cup of the squash mixture evenly over the pasta. Add another sheet of pasta, spread more squash mixture and repeat the layers of pasta and squash mixture until it fills your baking dish, leaving space for the breadcrumbs.

14. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over. You can prepare the lasagna up to 5 days ahead of time and keep it in the fridge well wrapped in film plastic. Or you can freeze the lasagna for up to 3 months.

15. Bake the Lasagna: Remove the lasagna from the fridge up to 2 hours before baking. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚F and bake the lasagna until it’s hot in the center, golden all over, and bubbly on the edges, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

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