Friday, February 17, 2017

Eggplant Timballo

By: The Food Hunter

Spending several weeks in Italy, this past summer, made me realize how much I love fruits and vegetables. Produce found in the local markets depends strictly upon what is seasonal so you know you are always getting the freshest selection. Eggplants or Aubergine, as they are called in Italy, are at peak season between May and September. This is similar to Arizona where it runs May through November.

This year our little backyard garden, produced an abundance of eggplant, almost more than we knew what to do with. After many hours perusing recipes online I decided to try my hand at a Timballo di Melanzane e Bucatini. I admit I was a bit skeptical at first on how this would turn out, but there was no need to worry. The timballo was delicious and made a wonderful presentation!

Eggplant Timballo
(adapted from Ciao Italia)

For the Sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped 

1 large carrot, finely chopped 

3 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups canned plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Mold
3-4 large eggplants 


1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs

For the Filling
1/2 pound bucatini, broken into thirds
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs
1 teaspoon fine sea salt 

1 1/2 cups cubed fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, minced
olive oil, for frying meatballs and eggplant
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Slice each one lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Layer and salt the slices in a colander set over a bowl. Place a heavy bowl or pot on top of the slices to act as a weight. Allow the slices to "sweat" for at least 1 hour to remove the excess water. Rinse and dry the slices.

Butter a 9 x 3 1/2-inch deep springform pan and coat the inside evenly with the 1/2 cup bread crumbs. Shake out the excess crumbs and refrigerate the pan until ready to fill. 

To make the sauce:

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrot, and celery. Cook until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, red wine, and bay leaf. Cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Remove the bay leaf before using.

Cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

In a medium-size bowl, combine the ground meat, egg, wine, 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese, bread crumbs, and salt. Mix to combine the ingredients.

Form marble-sized meatballs with your hands.
 Heat some oil in a large sauté pan and fry the meatballs until browned on all sides. Transfer the meatballs to the bowl with the bucatini. Add the mozzarella, parsley, and 2 cups of the tomato sauce. Stir to combine the ingredients and set aside.

Rinse and pat dry the eggplant slices. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Fry the eggplant slices a few at a time until they soften, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain the slices on paper towels. Add additional oil if the pan seems dry.

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Line the springform pan with the eggplant slices, draping them lengthwise and overlapping them up the sides of the pan. There should be about a 3-inch overhang over the top edges. Make sure there are no open spots in the base of the pan it should be completely lined with the slices.

 Fill in the bottom with smaller pieces if you need to.

Spoon the pasta mixture evenly in the pan, packing it down with a wooden spoon all the way around. Fold the overhanging slices of eggplant in over the top of the pan; the mixture should be completely encased by the eggplant.

Spread 1/2 cup of the remaining tomato sauce over the top of the mold and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle on the remaining cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes.

When the timballo shrinks a bit and a knife will easily move along the sides, remove it from the oven and let stand covered for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil from the timballo and run a butter knife around the inside edges to loosen it. Un-latch and remove the side. Place the timballo on a serving dish. Cut the timballo into wedges and serve with additional sauce on the side.

Caution: un-latching the timballo too soon will cause it to collapse.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Roast Pork Shoulder & Vegetables

By: The Food Hunter

Roasted pork shoulder & vegetables is a classic combination that I particularly enjoy in the winter. With a big enough pork shoulder the recipe below is wonderful for entertaining. Aside from the initial preparation of the pork and veggies there is not much to do while the roast is in the oven, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy your company.

Roast Pork Shoulder & Vegetables
(adapted from Lidia Bastianch)

5 to 7 pound bone-in pork shoulder
1-1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
8 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 medium leeks (including green trimmings) rinsed, split and chopped, 1/2-inch pieces
5 celery stalks and leaves, rinsed and cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
6 whole cloves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary sprigs, stripped from the branch, packed to measure
2 large bay leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cups dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock or water (I used a combination)

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Rinse and dry the roast; leave the entire layer of fat on the top. Sprinkle salt on all sides and rub all over with olive oil. Set the roast fat side up in the center of a pan.

Scatter all the chopped vegetables and seasonings around and toss everything together with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the white wine and 2 cups or more broth (or water) into the side of the pan so the cooking liquid is 1-inch deep, coming well up around all the vegetables.

Set the pan into the oven and roast for an hour. After an hour stir the vegetables and rotate the pan back to front, for even cooking.

Roast for another hour or hour and a quarter (depending on the size of the roast): the internal temperature should be 170 degrees or a little higher. The meat should be browned all over with dark edges; the top (especially the fat) should be crisp and caramelized. There will still be a considerable amount of juices in the pan and the vegetables should be cooked through and lightly browned.

Lift the pork out of the roasting pan and rest it on a platter while you start the sauce. Remove enough vegetables to eat, leaving a few in the pan with the cooking liquid.

Set a sieve over a saucepan and pour everything left in the pan into the sieve including any flavorful caramelized bits that can be scraped up. Press the vegetables and other solids against the sieve with a big spoon to release their liquid, and then discard them. Let the liquid settle and when the fat rises, skim it off. Set the saucepan over high heat, bring the juices to a boil and let them reduce, uncovered.

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Quick Look At The Novis Vita Juicer & A Juicy Giveaway

By: The Food Hunter

Although I understand the nutritional values and health benefits obtained from juicing, I admittedly don't do it on a regular basis. But when I was offered a chance to review the Novis Vita Juicer I couldn't say no. This was my chance to reap all the benefits of fresh juiced fruits and vegetables while at the same time check out a wonderful new-to-me kitchen tool.
The Novis Vita juicer is a premium multi-functional product developed in Switzerland that combines a juicer and citrus press into one clever appliance. It easily and efficiently extracts juice from citrus fruits, harder fruits, such as apples, and green leafy vegetables. It can be used to make fresh fruit puree for desserts, vegetable purees for soups and even delicious citrus marinades for chicken and pork. The possibilities are endless and the best part is, that when you juice, you have complete control over what's in the food you eat.

As someone that spends a lot of time in the kitchen preparing food, the one thing I appreciate the most about the Novis Vita Juicer is how easy it is to use and especially clean. It has an intelligent sensor built in to regulate power and adjusts the speed depending on the food you are juicing. And all of the interchangeable parts are easy to remove and dishwasher safe. Another thing I love is this sleek kitchen appliance comes in a variety of colors, making it a showpiece on any kitchen counter.

Which color would you pick if you were to win one?  That's right, thanks to the kind folks at Novis one lucky reader will win a juicer in the color of their choice. Enter the contest widget below and follow me on Instagram, for additional entrees!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I've received product and/or compensation for posts featuring Novis Vita Juicer. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Friday, February 3, 2017

One to Five Cookbook, by Chef Ryan Scott

By: The Food Hunter

Looking for recipes to help make weeknight meals easier?  Chef Ryan Scott's first cookbook, One to Five: One Shortcut Recipe Transformed into Five Easy Dishes, is where you will find them! The book features more than 100 easy-to-make recipes from the Emmy-Award winning food host.

“When it comes to cooking at home, if I can’t prep it, cook it, and sit down to eat it in an hour or less, I don’t want to do it. It’s just that simple,” says Chef Scott.

In his cookbook, Chef Scott demonstrates how to think creatively in the kitchen. Readers master one basic recipe and learn how to spin it into five quick, affordable meals. Take for example his Marinated and Roasted Portobellos, start with this "one" recipe and make the following: Mozzarella-Stuffed Crispy Portobello Burgers, Portobello Ranch Fries, Bello Ghanoush, Portobello-Olive Mayo.  

Chef Ryan is actually one of the first chefs in the country to have a full kitchen of BlueStar chef inspired appliances. I have to admit I am extremely jealous, I would do anything to have a BlueStar range like his!! You can check out his BlueStar kitchen and cooking videos here

Marinated-and-Roasted Portobellos
Makes: 6
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon refrigerated garlic paste (from tube)
  • 6 portobello mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Whisk together the onion, olive oil, wine, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic paste in a 13-x-9-inch baking dish or roasting pan.  Add the mushrooms to the marinade, turning them to coat both sides.  Cover and chill for 1 to 3 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Put the mushroom caps, gill sides up, on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, and bake until tender, about 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sausage Amatriciana

By: The Food Hunter

You may remember awhile back I shared a recipe for Pasta & Sausage in a Quick Tomato Sauce...this is essentially my version of the classic Pasta Amatriciana which typically uses guanciale for the robust flavor.

 Today I'd like to show you how easy it actually is to make this delicious pasta dish!

Special thanks to WebstaurantStore for providing the induction cook-top that made this video possible.