Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pasta Aglio e Olio (with Garlic and Olive Oil)

So, at the Viking Cooking School, we learned to make this to have with the chicken pamesan.

4 – 6 quarts water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¾ pound pasta (linguine)
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Using an 8 quart stock pot with a pasta insert, bring 4 to 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt and bring back to the boil. Add pasta and immediately stir to separate the individual pieces. The water should return to the boil very quickly. If necessary, cover pot until the water returns to the boil.

Cook just until al dente, stirring pasta once or twice during cooking. Drain pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water.

While pasta cooks, combine the garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes in a large sauté pan; warm over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic softens and turns golden in color, about 8 minutes. (You want to ‘sweat’ the garlic. Be sure you are on low, low heat! The purpose is to flavor the oil.)

Add the pasta and the reserved water to the garlic mixture; mix well. Add the parsley and adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and red pepper flakes. Transfer to large serving bowl or divide amongst 4 warmed dishes. Served topped with grated cheese, if desired. 

Chicken Parmesan

Another dish from our Viking Cooking School experience! So, again, lots of cooks!

Here's the recipe from the cooking school. It is slightly different than what is on this site:

1 pound globe eggplants (about 1 medium eggplant)
Kosher salt
½ cup all-purpose flour (seasoned with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk (whole or 2%)
1 cup panko
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
¾ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided (¼, ½) plus extra for garnish
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups of your favorite tomato or marinara sauce
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Pasta Agio e Olio (see other recipe)
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

1.       Wash and dry eggplant. Slice into ¼-inch thick circles. Place slices in a large colander, sprinkle with salt and set aside to rest for about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse eggplant, then pat dry with paper towels; set aside.
2.       Place seasoned flour in a shallow bowl. Place eggs and milk in second shallow bowl; whisk to combine. Combine panko, basil, parsley and ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano in a third shallow bowl; stir to mix evenly.
3.       Dredge each slice of eggplant in flour, then egg mixture, then panko mixture, shaking to remove excess between each step. Transfer to a plate. Repeat process for chicken, placing chicken on a separate plate.
4.       Preheat oven to 400 F. position rack in upper third of oven.

Two of the three dredging stations:

Here's the dredging underway!

5.       Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons of oil and heat through. Sauté eggplant slices until golden brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Do not!!!! touch the eggplant until it is ready to flip. You will be able to see some browning on the edges. If you want something to do with your hands, either put them behind your back, go wash them, or hold a glass a wine.

When they are flipped, they should be nice and brown.

 6.       Now sauté the chicken, adding more oil as needed, cooking chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain.
7.       Spoon some marinara sauce onto baking dish. Place an eggplant on top. Then spoon more marinara sauce onto the eggplant. Then place a chicken piece. Spoon more marinara sauce on top and then top with mozzarella cheese. Repeat process for other chicken. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and place in oven. Cook until cheese melts and chicken is cooked through. (Once chicken is cooked through – may need to turn on broiler to brown cheese.)

 8.       Serve with the Pasta Aglio e Olio.

Italian Wedding Soup

There are as many recipes for this as there are grandmothers. What they all have in common is that this chicken broth-based soup must contain bite-size meatballs and leafy greens.

We made this at the Viking Cooking School!
(so, you will see lots of cooks in the kitchen)

1/3 cup panko
1 tablespoon milk (2% is fine)
3 tablespoons finely minced onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup grated pecorino romano
1 large egg, beaten
4 ounces lean ground beef
4 ounces lean ground pork
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ small onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup dry white wine
2 quarts chicken stock or broth
½ cup orzo pasta (uncooked)
6 ounces fresh baby spinach, washed and dried
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated pecorino romano, for garnish
Crusty Italian bread, as accompaniment

1.       For the Meatballs: Combine the panko and milk in a medium mixing bolw; stir to fully moisten the crumbs and allow to sit for 30 seconds.
2.       Add the onion, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, garlic, pecorino and egg, and whisk to combine evenly.
3.       Crumble the beef and pork into the egg mixture and mix until combined. Do not over-mix or the meatballs will be tough.
4.       Take enough of the mixture to make a meatball about ¾ inch in diameter (bite size) and roll between your palms. (May need to wet hands to prevent meatballs from sticking.)

5.       Place meatball on a flour-dusted baking sheet. You may wish to cook one of the meatballs early on in order to adjust seasoning as needed with salt, pepper or basil.
6.       Continue making meatballs until all the meat mixture has been used. Dust flour evenly over all the meatballs, then shake the pan, rolling the meatballs around to coat lightly, and evenly, with the flour.
7.       Heat a large sauce pot over medium heat (this will be the pot that the soup is eventually cooked in) and add the oil and heat through. Carefully add the meatballs to the hot oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. (Will probably need to cook in two batches.) Fry the meatballs until they are lightly brown on all sides, about 10 minutes; shake the pan occasionally to promote even browning. Carefully transfer meatballs to a paper towel-lined platter to drain.

8.       For the Soup: Return the pan to the heat and add onion, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften. Add the white wine and stir, scraping to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan; cook until wine has nearly evaporated.
9.       Add the chicken broth and bring to boil. Add orzo, stirring to ensure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook until orzo is just al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes, then add the meatballs and spinach. Bring just to a simmer, and simmer gently (do not boil) until meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
10.   Ladle into warmed soup bowls, diving the meatballs evenly among them. Garnish each bowl with grated pecorino romano cheese. Serve with warm crusty bread and pass extra crushed red pepper flakes at the table for those who like it spicy!

Limóncello Almond Baci (Kiss) Cake

Baci means “kiss” in Italian, and this almond cake is kissed with Limóncello. Be sure to use high quality extra-virgin olive oil with sweet, fruity characteristics. Should you taste the batter before the cake is baked, the olive oil will be quite pronounced, but once baked, you’ll not be able to detect it. Serve warm with a scoop of lemon gelato or sorbet, and the cake may not be the only thing that is kissed!

Vegetable oil cooking spray
½ cup sliced almonds
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
6 tablespoons milk (2% is fine)
2 tablespoons Limóncello
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sweet and fruity extra-virgin olive oil (4 ounces)
1 tablespoon finely minced lemon zest
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons almond cake and pastry filling*

2 tablespoons almond cake and pastry filling*
2 tablespoons milk (2% is fine)
1 tablespoon Limóncello
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon finely minced lemon zest
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted**
Vanilla or lemon gelato (optional)

Special Equipment
8-inch cake pan

  1.   For the cake: Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
  2.  Combine almonds and ¼ cup of the sugar in the bowl of a mini-food processor. Pulse until nuts are very finely ground.
  3.  Pour the ground almonds into a medium mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to combine and aerate, and set aside.
  4.  Combine the milk, Limóncello, vanilla, olive oil and zest; whisk thoroughly and set aside.
  5.   In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and remaining ½ cup of sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and the almond filling and mix until smooth.
  6.   Reduce mixer speed to low; add one-third of the flour mixture to the egg/sugar mixture. Increase the speed to medium, and add half of the milk mixture. Repeat the process until all of the flour and milk mixture have been added in, ending with the last addition of the flour mixture. (Note: Throughout the mixing process, turn off the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, as needed.) After the last of the flour has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then run the mixer on low speed for 30 seconds; do not over-mix or the cake will be tough.
  7.   Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Tap the pan on the counter one or two times to remove any air bubbles.
  8.   Bake until the cake is a deep golden brown, the center of the cake feels firm when pressed, and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Do not over bake.
  9.   Place the cake on wire rack; cool for 10, then unmold the cake and place it on cooling rack positioned over a baking sheet with sides.
  10. For the glaze: Combine all of the glaze ingredients except the sliced almonds in a small mixing bowl; whisk until smooth and creamy.
  11. Use a toothpick or skewer to poke several holes in the surface of the warm cake. Slowly pour the glaze over the top of the cake, allowing some to soak into the cake and some to drip down the sides.
  12. Sprinkle the sliced toasted almonds evenly over the surface of the cake, and press lightly to help them adhere. Let the cake rest for 10 minutes. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature accompanied by a scoop of vanilla or lemon gelato.

Tips and Techniques
* Available on the baking aisle of most grocery stores next to canned fruit/pie fillings. Also available online at

** To Toast Nuts: To toast in oven, spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in 350 oven and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until they are light golden brown. To toast on stovetop, place nuts in dry sauté pan large enough to accommodate them in a single layer. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to color. Remove from heat, then immediately remove from hot pan to stop browning process.