Thoughts For Food

Insights into the Mind of a Culinary School Student


Recipe: Basil Pesto


Made this myself for dinner last night!

Hello everyone! I’m back with another recipe. This time, it’s one I thought of on my own and it’s really simple to make, despite the cost of some of the ingredients. I visited Rome, Italy a few years ago and that was my first experience with Pesto. It was so delicious and fresh that I wanted to make it at home. Well it took me a while but I finally did manage to make my very own batch and believe me when I say that it is DELICIOUS and extremely simple to make.

Basil Pesto

Ingredients:

  • One pack of Fresh Basil (available at many mega-marts)
  • One pack of Pine Nuts (also available at many mega-marts)
  • 1.5 Cups of Olive Oil
  • Heavy Pinch of Grated Romano Cheese
  • 4 – 5 Cloves of Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Small pinch of Oregano or Rosemary

Hardware:

  • Blender
  • Half Sheet Pan
  • Spatula
  1. Spread out the Pine Nuts on the sheet pan and toast at 400-degrees until lightly browned. Keep a watchful eye on these guys. They burn easy.
  2. Add all other ingredients into the blender and then add the Pine Nuts when they’re done.
  3. Blend the whole thing until smooth.
  4. Pour over your favorite pasta dish or meat dish and serve!

How simple was that? This dish literally takes no time at all to make and it’s a ready-to-eat sauce that requires almost no cooking! And as I briefly mentioned, pasta isn’t the only thing Pesto can be paired with. It goes really well with meats as well! Enjoy!

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Food Bites: Snack Time


Taken from Google Image Search

Midnight Snacks. Late-night Cravings. The Munchies. Gamer Fuel. No matter what you call them, everyone gets them at some point. It’s a craving for just something small (or large for some people) to eat or munch on. Not a large meal like lunch or dinner. Just something to nibble on while the game enters the later quarters or while the movie enters its second hour or something to give you some added fuel while your latest videogame marathon drones on for another hour or more. Just something to munch while not doing much or even, nothing at all.It’s true that not a lot of snacks are all that healthy, but hey, sometimes you need to kick back and relax a little, right? Right.

Companies the world over have come to capitalize on the ever growing snack food craze. Again, they may not be the most healthy snacks on the planet. but darn if they’re not good. I’ll be the first to admit that one of my all time favorite munchies any time of day has to be a bowl of Tostitos accompanied by a container of salsa. To me, that’s snack food any time of day. But, sometimes I like to get creative and make some dips of my own. A personal favorite is ketchup, mayo, ranch, Parmesan cheese, soy sauce and hot sauce. It’s the kind of dip that goes great on chips, veggies or even spread out on a chicken sandwich.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Snacks? Chips? This isn’t what I expected from a culinary school student! My response? Hey, I’m only human! I like snacks too! But, if you had to twist my are for a snack worthy of culinary school status, then I’ll give you one!

Simply grate some fresh Parmesan Cheese onto a silicone baking mat and toast them in a 350 – 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and formed a nice cheese crisp. These are delicious! Trust me!

If you have any neat snack ideas, feel free to post them as a response! I’ll think of more snack time recipes and post them up for you to enjoy!


Recipe: Risotto


Taken from Google Image Search

Now I know what you’re thinking already. Risotto? Really? Isn’t that the fussiest dish of all time? I only have one thing to say in response: RELAX. Ratatouille was fussy as well and look how easy that turned out! Trust me, the things you see on TV or in movies that show Risotto to be fussy and time consuming are only half-truths. Yes, it does require some time to make, but at the same time, it’s not rocket science! So allow me to assuage your fears and show you that Risotto is indeed easy to make and absolutely delicious when it’s all said and done.

Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of any Short Grain Rice
  • 2 Ounces and 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup of Finely Chopped Onions
  • 1 Cup of Peeled, Seeded and Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup of White Wine
  • 2 Cups of Hot Chicken Stock
  • 4 Ounces of Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 Tablespoon of Chopped Parsley
  • 1 Teaspoon of Butter
  • 2 Ounces of Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Hardware:

  • Medium Sauce Pot
  • Saute Pan
  • Wooden Spoon
  • A Medium-sized Ladle (nothing too big. you’ll see why soon)
  • Another small pot
  1. In the small pot, bring the chicken stock to a simmer and then kill the heat. Then, add the wine. Hold this mixture hot at all times until the cooking process is done.
  2. Add the 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil and saute the mushrooms on high heat until they’re golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Set them aside for now.
  3. Heat the 2 Ounces of Olive Oil in the sauce pot.
  4. Add the onions and the garlic and sweat on medium just until the garlic begins to turn golden. Remember, if it burns, it’s going to be bitter.
  5. Add all the rice and stir to coat all the kernels with oil. Toast the rice until the individual kernels are slightly translucent.
  6. Using your ladle, add in your first bit of stock/wine mixture and then stir occasionally until the bottom of the pan looks “dry.” This means the rice has absorbed all the stock and it’s ready for the next addition of liquid. Now, here’s the only tricky part about making Risotto; the amount of liquid needed. Depending on the type of rice you got, the conditions in your kitchen and other factors, the Risotto may need all the liquid or it may not. Just keep adding the liquid and tasting as you go along. The texture of the Risotto should be creamy and smooth. The rice kernels shouldn’t be hard, but they shouldn’t be like mashed potatoes either. Once you’ve got the right consistency…
  7. Kill the heat and add in the tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and butter. Stir to melt the butter and the cheese. Check for seasonings and season with salt and pepper if needed. Finish the dish with the chopped parsley.

See? That wasn’t so hard was it? A lot of the dishes that people make out to be hard and/or time-consuming really aren’t. Sure, Risotto is a little hands-on, but as I said in my Ratatouille entry: the best dishes are always hands-on and a little fussy. Enjoy!


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Recipe: Pasta Lovers Pizza


Yes, you read correctly! Pizza Week Day 5 arrives with one heck of a pizza! Like my Ramen Omelette recipe, this one is a fantastic leftovers magnet. It takes the most basic pizza recipe and turns the dial up to 11. Now, i realize I said in my last entry that sometimes the most simple recipes are the most delicious, but by all means, feel free to experiment. It’s how I came up with this particular recipe, after all. Now, on with the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • Either home-made or store-bought pizza crust
  • 1 Cup of Parmesan Cheese, crumbled of shredded
  • 1 Cup of Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
  • 1 Cup of Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1 Can of Tomato Sauce
  • 1 – 2 Cups of leftover pasta (sauce and ingredients may vary, but are welcome)

Hardware:

  • Pizza Pan
  • Pizza Cutter
  • Box Grater
  1. Preheat your oven to 450-degrees
  2. Spread out the dough on the pizza pan
  3. Pour out and spread the tomato sauce on the pizza crust
  4. Add Parmesan Cheese
  5. Add the leftover pasta
  6. Cover with the Mozzarella Cheese
  7. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes
  8. Let cool, divide and eat up!

Personally, I’m a huge fan of these recipes that are “Leftover Magnets.” They really save time and help clean out your fridge at the same time! Now, you could very well do this recipe with fresh ingredients. But, in today’s fast-paced society, sometimes, you’re allowed/forced to cut corners. Let this recipe (and my Ramen Omelette recipe) show that cutting corners doesn’t mean cutting out flavor or creativity. It’s like that Food Network show, Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. When you experiment, you can come up with some fantastic recipes.

One more day of Pizza Week left folks! Admittedly, it may be a bit late because I’m going to be at Six Flags Great Adventure with my friends, but I can promise you this, there will be an additional recipe that I didn’t list on my first post of Pizza Week. So stay tuned and check it out!


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Recipe: Six Cheese Pizza


Well this one took forever, mainly because I passed out after work and just woke up like 20 minutes ago…sorry guys! Anyways, here we go with Pizza Week Day 3! This one is a personal favorite of mine to make…and eat. Why? Because it’s so gosh darn cheesy! Next to chocolate, I am a cheese freak, what can I say?

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of the following cheeses, shredded:
  • Provolone
  • Parmesan
  • Cheddar
  • Mozzarella
  • Asiago
  • Swiss
  • Either the home-made pizza dough we talked about OR a store-bought pizza crust
  • 1/2 cup of Marinara Sauce (store bought is fine too)

Hardware:

  • Pizza Pan
  • Pizza Cutter
  • Box Grater
  1. Grate all that cheese! Oh, and preheat your oven to 450.
  2. Stretch out your fresh dough on the pizza pan. You should know what to do with the store-bought dough already 😛
  3. Add Marinara Sauce
  4. Add cheeses
  5. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes

Prepare for one of the cheesiest pizzas you are going to eat in a LONG time. Now, as a tiny bit of an aside, let’s talk about cheese. I mean seriously, who doesn’t love cheese? Cheese is one of the most versatile foods on the planet! It can be prepared in any number of ways and it’s delicious to boot. It’s one of those foods that has so may variations of itself that it lends itself to so many cooking applications. I guess that’s why I love it so much and love cooking with it so much (as evidenced by this recipe and my Mac & Cheese recipe).

That’s all for today folks! Sorry if this one seemed a little simple, but trust me on this, sometimes the most simple recipes are the most delicious. And this one is no exception.


Recipe: Cheesy Chicken Pizza


Hello and welcome to Pizza Week, Day 1! First, a quick note. My last entry said that this would start tomorrow (May 11), BUT when I was writing this and as it was uploading, it was still May 9 so, yeah. Here you go!

Now, surprisingly enough, I found a recipe for pizza dough courtesy of http://www.youtube.com/user/yellowsaffron

I have yet to actually try this recipe myself, but I’m just passing it along to help you all out. And don’t worry, once I actually do this recipe, I’ll let you know how it went. Now, on with the show!

Pizza Dough (makes 4 – 5 pizzas)

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons each of Sugar and Salt
  • 1 3/4 oz (2 packages) of active dry Yeast
  • 10 cups of flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of water

Hardware:

  • 2 Large Mixing bowls
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Small bowl for the Yeast
  1. Wake up the yeast. Put the yeast and sugar into the small bowl. Add 1/2 cup of water and stir until dissolved. Let sit until it looks foamy (that’s the yeast giving off CO2 as they munch on the sugar)
  2. Put the flour into the large bowl and add the salt, olive oil, yeast/sugar mixture and the rest of the water (go SLOW with the water). Mix thoroughly.
  3. When the dough comes together, turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead until it becomes smooth (about 5 – 10 minutes)
  4. Once that’s done, put the dough into the other mixing bowl that has been floured. Cover the dough with a tea towel and let it rest in a warm, dark place until it has doubled in size (minimum 2 hours)
  5. When you’re ready to make the pizza, take a quarter of your dough and knead and shape it into the classic circle shape or any shape you wish, for that matter! Now, speaking of the pizza…

Cheesy Chicken Pizza

Ingredients:

  • The Bechamel Sauce recipe as first seen in my Four Cheese Mac & Cheese recipe (basic flour and butter roux mixed with 2 cups of whole milk. cook until thick)
  • 2 Cups of shredded or crumbled Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/4 of your pizza dough OR one store-bought pizza crust
  • 2 cups of leftover roast chicken

Hardware:

  • Pizza Pan (a flat, aluminum pan with perforations in the bottom to allow heat in. it makes for a really crispy crust)
  • Small pot for making the Bechamel Sauce
  • Whisk
  • Pizza Cutter
  1. Preheat your over to 450-degrees
  2. Shape your fresh pizza dough into a disk that fits the pizza pan (10 – 12 inches). If you’re using the store-bought crust, just put it on the pizza pan and move on 😛
  3. When your Bechamel Sauce is thick, add 1 cup of the Mozzarella Cheese and whisk until it’s dissolved.
  4. Add the sauce to the pizza dough. Add the chicken.
  5. Add the rest of the cheese
  6. Put the whole thing in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Divide and serve!

Day one is complete! Stay tuned for day two tomorrow! I hope you enjoy!


Recipe: Cheesy Tomato Soup


This is a recipe that I learned from the good folks in the kitchen of the AQ Kafe, located in Columbus Circle, NYC. It’s a nice, light and very flavorful dish that can either be served as a side or as the main course. It’s also a great way of clearing out your cheese stock if it gets too overcrowded! So thanks to the wonderful people at the AQ Kafe for teaching me this and a bunch of other great recipes and techniques while I was interning with you!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (per person) of Condensed Tomato Soup
  • 1 can (per person) of Chicken Stock (Low Sodium is preferred)
  • 1/2 cup (per person) of any cheese you want to add to this. Smokey and sharp cheeses are best, just make sure it’s a cheese that melts very well.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon of dry, white wine
  • 1 bag of frozen cheese tortellini

Hardware:

  • Large pot and strainer for tortellini
  • Medium pot for soup
  • Large whisk
  • Wooden spoon
  1. In the large pot, bring some water to a boil and add salt when it does come to a boil.
  2. Add tortellini and stir once in a while. They’ll be done in about 8 or 9 minutes.
  3. In a separate pot,  whisk together contents of soup cans and broth cans in the medium pot over medium-high heat. Stir often, because tomatoes burn easily.
  4. When the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cheese(s). Stir frequently to melt the cheese. Alternatively, you could use a stick blender to REALLY make sure the cheese is fully melted.
  5. Simmer for a couple of more minutes. Add the wine and season with salt and pepper.
  6. The tortellini should be done by now, so kill the heat on that pot, drain and add the tortellini to the pot with the soup.
  7. Simmer for two more minutes and serve. Garnish with some more cheese or croutons.

Hope you enjoyed one of my favorite recipes! I’ll update more often, I promise.