Learning As I Chop

Frankie’s Kitchen in Our Kitchen

Posted in Baking/Cooking, Tips by R @ Learning As I Chop on December 29, 2010

In Brooklyn, there’s a little spuntino called Frankie’s. Always busy, with a no-reservations policy and a line out the door, H and I avoided going until last summer when the city emptied and restaurants became available. We sat at a little table and ordered various plates, including a few different crostinis (kind of like bruschetta but with all kinds of toppings), which are especially delicious and, in my opinion, the specialties of the house. It was therefore no surprise when this was one of my Hannukah gifts

A few days ago, the snow was falling and I was planning a comforting Italian dinner. I don’t know about you, but I am sick of tomato-based sauces and wanted to try something new. Hence I turned to the Frankies cookbook. H suggested pasta so I perused the selection and decided on Cavatelli with Sausage and Browned Sage Butter. Even the name sounds delicious. Have you ever had cavatelli? It’s a ricotta-based pasta (recipe also in the cookbook) and really good. Plus it’s pretty economical at around $2.50 a bag. (You can find them in the refrigerated pasta section.) However our home is a no-pork home, so I went out on a limb and substituted chicken sausage for the porky kind.  Here’s the workings of my mise-en-place. Never mess with one of those.

Frankie’s recommends white pepper over regular black. They say it’s more delicate. Something to think about if you feel like experimenting. I also used sage for the first time and am liking it. Reminds me a little of eucylptus.

Here’s the sausage sauteeing in the pan. You also need to brown the butter.

The book says, “[the butter] should be visibly browned, with a hazelnut-like aroma. Don’t skimp on the browning.” I really like their style of directions – very straightforward and easy.  Lots of practical advice like “this is when you should drop the ricotta cavatelli into the boiling water” and “don’t drain the cavatelli too thoroughly.” The authors don’t expect you to read their minds and want to show you how small details can take a good dish to great.  I wish all cookbooks were written this way.

Above is the end result and it was delicious. It was fun to work with new flavors, like the sage, and try out new products like the sausage. Like the parsley garnish? Trying to work on my “plating.”

If you’re in the market for a new “kitchen companion and cooking manual” this might be one to consider. Not only do they have recipes, but it’s also good for someone new in the kitchen who wants a small tour before entering. Tells you what kind of tools to buy and how to pick your olive oil. I’m not one to read cookbooks, but I spent some time with this one and my couch. It’s that informational. Enjoy!


Snowy Sunday

Posted in Tips by R @ Learning As I Chop on December 26, 2010

Not sure what’s happening in your neck of the woods, but we’re cozy in our apartment, watching the snow fall onto NYC rooftops. Comforting Italian food is on tonight’s menu, and I’m happy that I have some leftover parsley to use. How did I save my parsley? Besides the usual ziploc bag approach, it’s also fun to create a make-shift plant on your windowsill.

Placing your parsley, or most other herbs, into a glass of water will extend its shelf-life for a few more days, and allow you to make the most it. A small tip for a snowy Sunday. Enjoy!

A Christmas Miracle!

Posted in Baking/Cooking by R @ Learning As I Chop on December 25, 2010

Happy Xmas LAIC Readers! Though H and I don’t technically celebrate Christmas, we do have some of our own traditions. Here’s one. Can you guess what it is?

I also like to make a yummy breakfast on Xmas morning, and this year decided to try something new. Since I had cranberries to finish, I thought I’d find a special recipe for this special occasion. My usual go-to (Epicurious) was down, so I went to my new second favorite – Smitten Kitchen – and found these scones. They looked delicious, and scones on Xmas morning sounded perfect, so I committed to them and bought the ingredients I needed.

This morning I realized that I’d be re-facing an old foe – homemade dough. However this time I was determined not to let him win. Things were going well

After last time’s mess, I was adament about preventing goop and creating sand.  I think I succeeded. However the third picture shows a mistake – I beat the eggs after joining them with the cream. Somehow I didn’t think that’d be fatal. Once I added the wet to dry, I floured my surface and got to work. Then I was re-acquainted with an old friend

Can you see the goop? What am I doing wrong? The butter was cold, I didn’t overprocess and I added wet to dry. What is it? Was it at the eggs? I’m really at a loss. In fact, a baking class might be in order. Nevertheless, I used what I had and forged ahead. The scones went into the oven and I said a little prayer. And then a Christmas miracle ensued

According to H, these scones were the best he’s ever had – tasty, moist and light. However they are are not for the lemon faint of heart. While the scones cooled, I attempted to make whipped cream. The store had no more heavy cream yesterday, so I purchased light. Let me tell you, whipping “light cream” is an exercise in futility. Do not do it.

Regardless, we enjoyed our scones with some hot beverages and the warmth of our “fire.” Merry Christmas to all and enjoy!