Saturday, December 25, 2010

Spaghetti with Garlic Oil and Chili

(Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino)
This dish was inspired by one of my favorites from Luigi's Restaurant in Slippery Rock, PA. If a dish has garlic, I am intrigued. Heck - you can never have too much of the stuff. Take that as a warning all vampires and people with sensitive noses, I am chowing down the stinky cloves with joy!

Spaghetti with Garlic Oil and Chili
1/3 cup Canola/Extra Virgin Olive Oil mix
3 cloves Garlic sliced
5 cloves Garlic minced
2 dried Chile de Arbol peppers chopped
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 pound spaghetti, cooked al dente

Over medium low heat saute sliced garlic and chile in oil, adding minced garlic and salt at the end. Be sure not to over cook the garlic, it should just be starting to get a nice warm gold color. Remove from heat. Toss hot cooked pasta into the garlic oil. Garnish with Parmesan. I find that the whole wheat pasta seems to absorb the flavor better than regular pasta. It doesn't get as slippery either, and it is especially good left over and reheated. Either way, it is a tasty treat!

Spaghetti Aglio, Olio & Peperoncino on Foodista

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Stuffed Cabbage

In the 1890s, large groups of Eastern European immigrants came to the Pittsburgh area to work in the city's mills. The cool thing about Pittsburgh is that each ethnic group kept it's history and traditions alive. It's something that makes me very proud to say I am from the 'Burgh! These little stuffed cabbages are made in more of a Slovak style, but many groups can claim them as their own. From Turkey's Sarma to Golubtsy in Russia, every country in between has a version of their own. We call 'em "Pigs in a Blanket." It's great food for a cold day.

Stuffed Cabbage
1 large head of cabbage
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound lean ground pork
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 16-ounce can sauerkraut
1 1/2 cups cooked long grain brown rice
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg or egg substitute
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar (or Agave Nectar)
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon salt (divided)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove core from cabbage and set into a large pot of boiling water. Gradually as the leaves become soft, remove from head of cabbage and put on a towel line baking sheet to cool. Continue to remove leaves making sure to not overcook until all of the large leaves are soft. The inner leaves can be set aside to use in other dishes.

Sauce: In a saucepan, saute garlic in oil until barely golden. Combine crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, two cloves of the minced garlic, vinegar, sugar and one half teaspoon of salt and slowly simmer while the rest of the dish is prepared.

Filling: In a large bowl, combine remaining salt, ground meat, rice, remaining garlic, parsley, onion, egg and pepper and mix well. Set aside. You can switch out the pork for a full pound of beef, or even use lamb if you wish.

Assembly: Drain and squeeze sauerkraut and line the bottom of a large baking dish (16x10), spooning a couple of ladles of the simmering sauce and mixing it into the kraut. Smooth to make a nice bed for the cabbage rolls. When leaves are cool, trim the large back spine of the leaf so that it is the same thickness as the rest of the leaf. Place about 1/4 cup of filling into the leaf and roll, placing the rolled cabbages over the top of the sauerkraut/sauce mixture. Pour over remaining sauce and cover dish with aluminum foil. Cook for 1 1/2-2 hours.

Hungarian Cabbage Rolls on Foodista

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chicken Balls

We all have our guilty food pleasures. One of mine is the local Chinese buffet. While there are larger and more spectacular buffets in the area, En Lai in Slippery Rock has a small variety of my favorites. It's a far cry from real Chinese food - sort of an American sweetened version of Chinese food. But give me a plate and I pile on Walnut Chicken, Black Pepper Chicken and General Tso's Chicken and love it. And then there are the yummy Chicken Balls. At first I didn't know what they were - alien round fried balls. Hoping I would not encounter seafood, I took a bite and found a seasoned chicken meatball with a crispy crust. This is my interpretation.

Chicken Balls
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 carrot, shredded
3 green onions, sliced thinly
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil

Cut chicken into chunks and combine with egg whites, ginger, soy sauce, cornstarch and sesame oil in a food processor. Process until chicken is a thick puree. Add carrot and onion and pulse a couple of times. Remove mixture into a bowl. Heat canola oil to 375 degrees in a deep fryer or deep heavy pot. Drop spoonfuls of chicken mix into hot oil and fry until golden brown. Remove from oil, drain on paper and serve hot with a drizzle of sweet chili sauce or sweet and sour sauce.

Fried Garlic Chicken Balls on Foodista