Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Product Review....Zwilling JA Henckels International Classic Clad 3.5 Quart Pot

Many years ago, when I first moved out on my own, I inherited a set of pots from my grandmother. Nothing fancy, just your basic Faberware stainless steel with black plastic handles. She had kept them in great condition and I was so happy to have them.

As I got older and started cooking more I slowly replaced my grandmother’s pots with new ones; all except the 4 quart stock pot. Even though the handles jiggled and the plastic had started to melt the pot was still in working condition and I just never got around to updating it. Eighteen years later and I’m amazed that this pot is still around.

Along came CSN and their wonderful preferred blogger program which allows me to review products of my choice. After much deliberation I decided this was the perfect opportunity for me to take the bull by the horns and get a new stock pot. I perused CSN for what seemed like days and finally choose the Zwilling JA Henckels International Classic Clad 3.5 quart pot.

Why this particular pot? Well 1. It fit into my “spending limit;" 2. Even from the photos online I could tell it was sturdy; 3. Henckels makes good products; and 4. It has stainless handles (very important with our high output burners that seem to melt everything)

I’ve had the pot now for a few weeks and I love it. It definitely meets all of my needs. It's made of 3-ply stainless steel with riveted square stainless handles. This is perfect for my high output burners. I love that both the lid and pot are number coded so you are always certain to have the correct match. I also like the capacity lines on the interior which help with measuring ingredients. I’m looking forward to being able to use this pot in the oven…something I couldn’t do with my old one because of the plastic handles.

I'm hoping that like my grandmother's old pot; this new one is going to last me a long time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mario Batalli's Pennette with Summer Squash and Ricotta

I swear I don't work for Mario Batalli (not that I wouldn't jump at the chance) and I'm sure he doesn't need my publicity anyway.  I just honestly love his recipes...all of them...or at least I haven't found one that I don't yet.  

I'll admit some of his stuff is a little more complicated than others; but I like the challenge. And some of his recipes sometimes use ingredients that are hard to find; but to me that's all part of the allure.  Without further ado the latest and greatest pasta dish we tried this past weekend.

Pennette with Summer Squash & Ricotta
adapted from Molto Gusto by Mario Batali


kosher salt
1 cup fresh ricotta
6 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
2-3 tbsp warm water
1 lb. summer squash or zucchini, cut lengthwise in half and sliced into 1/3-inch thick half-moons
Maldon, or other flaky sea salt
1 lb. pennette rigate
6 tbsp fresh mint, coarsely chopped
coarsely ground black pepper

Bring 3 quarts water to boil in a large pot and add 3 tbsp kosher salt.

Meanwhile, whisk the ricotta and 3 tbsp olive oil together in a small bowl. Add the Parmesan whisking until it is evenly incorporated. Whisk in 2 tbsp warm water, then another if necessary to loosen the consistency.

Heat remaining 3 tbsp oilve oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the squash and cook, stirring regularly, until just tender and golden-brown, about 4-5 minutes. Season well with sea salt and remove from heat.

Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until just al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/3 cup pasta water. Add the cooked pasta and the reserved pasta water to the squash, stirring and tossing over medium heat to mix well. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and allow to steam together for 2 minutes.

Stir in the mint, season with more sea salt (if necessary) and pepper. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl. Garnish with dollops of the ricotta mixture.

Serve immediately with Parmesan.

I'm submitting to Presto Pasta Nights hosted this week by Katie over at Thyme For Cooking.  Be sure to check out the round up on Friday.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Paleo Women Granola...

Surfing the web for healthy snack options I stumbled across a relatively new product line called Paleo Women Granola.  Completely intrigued by what I read I contacted owner Laura Keenan in hopes of obtaining some samples to review.   Laura was extremely nice and happy to share her new product. I was sent one package of each of the following four varieties : Apple Crisp, Banana Nut Crunch, Cappuccino Crunch and Cacao Nut.

Paleo Women Granola, launched in early 2010, was created to provide for the body what it is genetically designed to eat. This includes things like nuts, seeds, berries and natural sweeteners. All ingredients that fit into a Paleo diet. 

I’ve been eating this natural gluten and wheat free granola for the past month and I love it! It’s tasty and very filling. I find it makes a great post workout snack; being both healthy and delicious.  Of all the flavors my favorite is the Apple Nut Crunch.  I just love the way the apple taste really shines through on this one. The Cacao Nut runs a close second.

If you’re in the market for a good tasting; good for you snack check out Paleo Women Granola....I think you'll like it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Delicious Weeknight Pasta

We have pasta at least once a week; which means I'm always on the look out for new weeknight friendly recipes to try.

I found the recipe below online and just happened to have sweet potato gnocchi in the pantry. I know it's an odd thing to just happen to have...but it's true.

This sauce is a keeper.  Quick, easy and delicious.  If you don't happen to have sweet potato gnocchi laying around I think the sauce would go equally well with just about any pasta. Try it for yourself and let me know.

I'm sending this in to Ruth at Once Upon a Feast for this week's Presto Pasta Night round up.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Capers, Tomatoes, and Italian Sausage
Adapted from Pasta Sfoglia - Serves 2

2 cups of sweet potato gnocchi
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 tablespoon of capers, washed
1 link of mild Italian sausage, cut into small pieces
1 cup of diced tomatoes
splash of white wine
salt and pepper
1/4 cup of pasta water

1. olive oil to skillet and heat. Add garlic, sausage, and capers and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and wine. Cook for 2 minutes. Take off heat and cover.

2. Bring a pot of well salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi. They will sink to the bottom. After the gnocchi rise to the surface, let them cook a minute more. Scoop them out with a wire mesh skimmer or what-have-you and put on plates or bowls.

3. Add pasta water to the tomato mixture and stir. Pour over hot gnocchi and serve.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ice Cream; It's Not Just for Kids

It's been a busy few weeks for me. In addition to my regular cooking adventures I've also had the opportunity to participate in two video interviews; the second of which is below.

Ice cream is not just for kids and Gale Gand, executive pastry chef at Tru in Chicago, has some great suggestions on how to make eating ice cream more sophisticated.   Gale has also teamed up with Breyers to sponsor a create your own ice cream sundae contest.   Details along with ideas and recipes are in the video.