Friday, March 27, 2015

How Corning Ware Does Italian - Eggplant Involti

Time for a crash course in Italian...   Involtini is the plural of Involtino meaning little package.  Involtino is the diminutive of Involto, package or bundle, and Involti would be the plural form.

Involtini, culinary-wise, usually refers to an appetizer, while Involto, being larger, is more of a main course fair.  Either way they are really the same thing, it's just a matter of size.

While Involti/Involtini can be wrapped in a variety of things and stuffed with even more interesting ingredients, I chose to keep it simple this time and go with an easy Ricotta cheese filling, bolstered by fresh bread crumbs.

Eggplant Involti

1 head of Garlic, Roasted
1 Sweet Onion, Chopped
1 Carrot, shredded
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 (28oz) can diced Tomatoes (Preferably Muir Glenn Fire Roasted Tomatoes)
3 Eggplants (about 1 lb each)
6 TB Olive Oil (not Extra Virgin)
Kosher salt and pepper
1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces (1 cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 ounces grated Pecorino Romano cheese (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 TB Lemon Juice
1 tsp Lemon Zest

Corning Ware P-16-B - 11 inch Skillet (or A-10-B)
Corning Ware P-35 Broil and Bake Tray (your gonna need at least 2 of these, possibly 3)

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees.
Cut the top off the Garlic, drizzle with Olive oil (not Extra Virgin) and sprinkle with Salt and pepper.

Wrap in a foil package and Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Place the P-16 over medium flame and place 2 TB Olive Oil in the pan.

When hot, add the shredded Carrot and the chopped Onion.

Reduce the flame to low and sweat the vegetables until they begin to caramelize (30-40 minutes)
When the Garlic is roasted and cool to the touch, squeeze out the filling and smear it across your cutting board with a knife to turn it into a paste.

Add the Oregano, Red Pepper Flake, Roasted Garlic Paste and Tomatoes to the caramelized vegetables.

Simmer on low while dealing with the Eggplant.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375.
Peel the Eggplant…

Slice each eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick planks (you should have 12 -13 planks); trimming any rounded surface from each end piece so it lies flat.
Place Eggplant slices, in a single layer, on Parchment lined baking sheets. (I used 2 half sheet pans cause it would take 3 P-35s)

Brush the eggplant slices with Olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher Salt and Pepper.

Flip the Eggplant slices over and repeat.

Bake until tender and lightly browned (about 30 minutes), rotating the baking sheets half way through baking.

While the Eggplant is baking pulse the torn bread in food processor until finely ground.

Combine fresh bread crumbs, ricotta, 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, 1/4 cup basil, lemon juice, Lemon Zest and Salt in medium bowl; set aside.


When eggplant is done baking, remove from the oven and allow the Eggplant to cool for at least 5 minutes before attempting to handle.
Begin heating the broiler and check your sauce....  It should be nice and thick by now.....  (the eggplant will release a little more water and loosen the sauce a little bit)

Flip each piece of Eggplant over (the underside will be softer)
With widest ends of eggplant slices facing you, evenly distribute ricotta mixture on bottom third of each slice.

Gently roll up each eggplant slice…

and place seam side down in the simmering tomato sauce.

Bring the sauce back to a simmer and allow the Eggplant to cook for 5 minutes.
Transfer skillet to oven and broil until eggplant is well browned and cheese is heated through, 5 to 10 minutes.


Remove from the broiler and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano and let stand for 5 minutes so the cheese can melt slightly, then sprinkle with 1 TB of chopped Basil and serve......

Delicious with crusty sourdough bread....



Where is your Corning Ware??
~~

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Posh Nosh - Lobster Mac & Cheese

Normally, I snub my nose at Seafood with Cheese.  I like to TASTE my seafood and cheese tends to be a little to overpowering for the subtlety of things like Lobster and Crab.

That being said, I have found exceptions to this basic "rule".  One of these is Lobster Mac & Cheese.  As long as the cheese is a mild and subtle one, it can be one of the most delectably decadent dishes you will ever consume.

Danish Fontina is my go to cheese for this application.  This mild, subtly nutty cheese is smooth melting as well, which makes for a perfect sauce addition.    I based this "sauce" loosely on "Lobster Newburg", so it's loaded with cream, in 3 different forms.  The Fontina cheese replaces the egg yolks, but I could not leave out the "kick".  Thus, I tossed in some Tabasco, instead of Cayenne, and left the Cognac in to kind of pull everything together and smooth out any rough edges. (it's a miracle liquor in cooking)

The "Lobster" I chose is the smaller Squat Lobster.. which is what is usually used in restaurants for such applications as this. It's usually referred to as Langostine or Langostino in the United States, but could even be sold as "scampi", because the seafood naming conventions in the U.S. are REALLY wishy washy...  Don't get me started on "Colossal Shrimp" that are really prawns (cause there is a difference between a prawn and a shrimp).

Lobster Mac & Cheese


4 oz Unsalted Butter
1 Shallot, minced fine
3 TB AP Flour
1 cup Heavy Cream
6 oz Mascarpone
4 oz Crème Fraîche
1 TB Tabasco
3 TB Cognac
12 oz Danish Fontina
1/4 tsp White Pepper
16 oz Medium Shells
12 oz Langostine (Previously Cooked)
~optional - Black Truffle oil

Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded
Panko

Corning Ware A-3-B or P-2 1/2-B
Corning Ware A-5-B
Corning Ware P-332 OR 6 of the French White F-16 ramekins OR 6 of the P-14-B Casser-ettes from the Heat n' Eat line (Grab-its)

Fill your A-5-B with 4 quarts of water... Add about 1 1/2 TB of sea salt and place over High flame.

Place your A-3-B (P-2 1/2-B) over Medium-Low flame and add the butter to the saucepan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
When the foaming subsides, add the shallot and saute until soft.

Whisk in the Flour and cook the resulting roux until bubbly and begins to smell nutty.

Add the Heavy Cream and bring to a simmer.

Add Mascarpone and stir until melted and smooth.

Whisk in the Crème Fraîche and bring back to a simmer again.

Add the Tobasco,

then the Cognac.

and cook everything until it begins to thicken slightly....

By now you should be able to drop your pasta into salted boiling water and cook for 3/4 the time listed on the package.

Begin adding the shredded Fontina to the simmering sauce, a little at a time, whisking until completely melted before adding the next handful.

When melted and smooth, whisk in 1/4 tsp White Pepper.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and add the Langostine, then toss it all together to coat the shells well.


Now, you can either pour the resulting deliciousness into a P-332 (like I did this time)

OR.....
Divide the pasta between 6 of the Casser-ettes (P-14-B) from the Heat n' Eat line (which is what I did the last time)

OR.....
Divide the pasta between 6 French White F-16 Ramekins in the same manner... It all depends on how you want to present the dish.

If you are going that "little bit extra" now is the time to lightly drizzle with Black Truffle Oil.

Sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano lightly over the top (just a little bit, don't over do it) and sprinkle with Panko.

Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes for the Ramekins/Casser-ettes or 15 minutes for the P-332.

Turn on the broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes... just enough to color the top.

mmmm Lobster Newburg goodness in pasta form.

Where is your Corning Ware??
~~