Wish Upon A Dish

September 22, 2016

Italian Stew (Ciambotta) ♥ First Cooking Recollections - #thereciperedux September Challenge


Ciambotta or Giambotta.
An Italian stew, usually with vegetables but can contain some meats.
Until today I did not know the official Italian name for this, only that this was weeknight dinner for my father growing up.


#theRecipeRedux September challenge........

First Cooking Recollections
Stir up some of your earliest culinary recollections. Did you stand at your grandmother’s elbow to learn to cook? Or did you learn by stumbling through a cookbook by yourself? Share a healthy recipe and the accompanying story about one of your first cooking memories.

I have a very vivid cooking recollection of the first food I learned to make standing on a chair at my Nonna's house to help her roll out pasta dough with a broom handle.

I know from time to time I mention childhood food memories, learning how to cook the dishes my Pop grew up eating but until I made the pilgrimage to Ellis Island (finally finished bringing it back to it's glory), did I get the bug to learn as much about my family as I could.

That started with a sit down with my Dad and his twin sister.

Grandpa immigrated from Rome and Grandma from Florence, each one traveling solo. In those days a local Church had families that would sponsor Catholic Italians providing room and board and a job until they could speak English and become self sufficient. My grandma and grandpa met through that church, married and started a family.

While most of my memories from that time were about playing with my cousins and running all over during hide n seek, I do have a few clear memories about helping Grandma Louise make dinner.
Since I was a pipsqueak and could not reach the stove, I stood on a chair to help her make the pasta. My job was to break the eggs and after she rolled the dough to the right thickness, I help roll up the dough on a broom stick for the journey to the bedroom where there awaited a sheet for drying.
That dough was as big as the bed and she really did need help. If there was to be one big moment in time for me, that would be it.

As a child, I regularly enjoyed the hearty stew that my Nonna Louise prepared as a way to use up surplus produce from the garden.
This dish is exactly what would have been served for dinner on a weeknight, only now the vegetables are from my garden, the bread from my oven and the pasta cut with a machine, not on my bed, but on my dinner table, drying on a towel.

Grandma Louise would have been pleased.


While this is not difficult to make, like most Italian dishes, there is a technique used.
In this case it is the addition of vegetables in a specific order ending with a bechamela right before serving.
Since during the week, with busy days, making homemade pasta is not doable, I use a good quality packaged fresh pasta that is either fettuccine or sheets to be torn.

While I was reminded of that dinner 50 years ago, the Nudge immediately said (after proclaiming he wanted this every Soup Monday, please! ) that it tasted like the insides of a great pot pie.
That was the best compliment I could have gotten.
Now I have to find a few different variations, as the cold weather rolls in.
Yes, please!


This may look decadent but I ran it through my recipe analyzer and it gave me a total under 400 calories per serving, and yes, that included the pasta!

Let's get cooking......

You will will need:
a quart of good quality chicken stock/broth
an assortment of late-summer vegetables
a bechamela
dark meat chicken
packaged soup vegetables (usually near the wrapped veggies)

Italian Vegetable Stew
makes 8 servings
For the broth:
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 chicken thighs
* 1/2 medium whole onion
* 1 whole carrot, cleaned
* 1 celery stalk, 2" pieces
* 4 whole cloves of garlic
* 32oz. chicken broth/stock
* 2 cups water
* 1 chicken bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon (chicken base)
* seasoned salt and black pepper

For the stew:
* 1 large carrot, diced into corn kernel size
* 1 large potato, diced into corn kernel size
* 1 medium zucchini, same dice
* 1 medium summer squash, same dice
* 2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
* 2 packed cups spinach, 1" strips
* 1 large tomato, seeded and slivered
* 6oz. fresh fettuccine, roughly chopped

For the bechamela:
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 1 cup fat-free half & half
* 1/2 grated Romano cheese
* salt & pepper to taste
 
1. Heat a Dutch oven or heavy bottoms stock pot. Add olive oil and heat.
2. Season chicken with seasoned salt & pepper.
3. Add chicken, carrot, celery, garlic and onion to the oil. Nestle them in to contact the pan.
4. Saute until they brown and flip over, about 5 minutes.
5. Repeat with other side and add herbs.
6. Once browning is achieved add the stock and the water. Cover the pan and simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove the chicken to a bowl to cool and strain the broth through a sieve. Throw out the aromatics. Pick the chicken clean and tear into large pieces. Reserve.
7. Add a little more oil to the pot and saute the potatoes with the carrots for 4 minutes.
8. Add the corn and the sliced tomato. Pour the broth over the vegetables and simmer until the potatoes are tender but not mushy.
9. Add the spinach and pasta and simmer until the pasta is cooked. Add the chicken meat.
10. In a small bowl whisk the flour and the half & half until there are no lumps left.
11. Add the roux to the pot and stir until the broth starts to thicken, adding additional cream if needed.
12. Finish with the grated cheese, stir to mix, adjust the salt & pepper and serve.

Can be stored, cooled and covered for up to a week in the fridge. Gently reheat before serving.


I am already jotting down different batches of vegetables for when the weather gets cooler and then frosty. I think that this stew requires hardy vegetables, not ones that will disintegrate with simmering.


 
   


   


September 10, 2016

What to do if you have illegal links on your blog and GOOGLE calls you a fellon.

I got a nasty letter from Google last week. It didn't help that I was in the middle of a massive redo on my computer and generally pissed about that.
At 3 in the morning as I tried desperately to move my downloader into my "C" drive with my fingers crossed that FINALLY I could install iTunes once again, I did not need to read that I was doing illegal things on my blog and if I did not fix the problem, my rank for Google Search would tank to the ends of the universe.

Excuse me??? I don't even have ads on my blog and do not get paid to post recipes using Brand Name products. What the hell where they talking about.

Seems I have bad links that cause search engines to click on sites that don't follow the rules, giving them FREE clicks.
OK, once again......what the crap do they mean?

I did not need another massive problem solving, time wasting project to fix when I couldn't even fix the vehicle they said I needed to remove these "bad links" from.

Instead of explaining how to fix this problem, they posted a video that pretty much told me I was breaking the GOOGLE law and if I continue in my bad ways, they would bury me in outer space.

I finally had to laugh, because I am pretty sure my ranking on search engines is at the bottom of the barrel, so do I really care what they can do to me?
I do care that there are bloggers out there that are as clueless as I was, who could benefit from the info I gathered on what to do if they also get a letter from the GOOGLE police.

What are bad links and how do you fix them?

When you link to an outside source (food blogs would link to give credit to the inspiration for posted recipes, retail food and book sellers, contest sponsors and other blogs in general), the search engines don't distinguish why those links are there, they think you are selling your links for profit and therefore, that must stop!!
So, at the very end of the coding that points to an outside site, you must include a "no follow" direction. People on your site, can still be linked if they click, so credit will be given where it deserves to be, but the "no follow" code stops the search engines from clicking on them, therefore you will no longer get counterfeit clicks.

If you are like me, and dutifully link back nice things to others, you will have to add a few words to each link on your site. If you have published posts for 6 or more years, have entered numerous contests that require many posted links, it could take you a week of doing nothing but opening each post and making the necessary corrections.

I have been doing just that for three days straight and have only manage to correct 200 of the over 1,000 published posts. Why am I only finding out about this NOW????

Here goes........
a basic link looks like this (http://www.cookingwithdiabetes.blogspot.com/).
To make the link legal you will have to add "rel="nofollow" right after the .com so that it should look like http://www.cookingwithdiabetes.blogspot.com/ rel="nofollow">.

The next time you set up a link using blogger you should see at the bottom of the link box, the option to use the Add 'rel=nofollow' attribute. From this day forward you will never break the law. Unfortunately all your old links will have to be fixed.

Do I feel stupid? No, I do not. I am pissed that blogger did not make this clear when I created my blog and I have many more hours of bull crap ahead of me.

August 22, 2016

Eggplant Margherita Bar Pie ♥ Vacation Inspired Dish - #thereciperedux challenge, August 2016


I finally had enough heirloom tomatoes to make two margherita bar pies.
I also picked two white eggplants and thinly sliced one to top MY bar pie.

Turns out The Nudge almost ate 3 qtrs of mine before I told him only one had the eggplant, and I had yet to eat one piece.

He is a pizza junkie. That is why I made these pies.
When we were in No. Carolina checking out the landscape for future retirement, we ate at this local pub in Wilmington called the Copper Penny where Wednesdays are Margherita Bar Pie day.
There was no way we were leaving there before Wednesday nite!

It just made sense when The Recipe Redux challenge for August was to recreate a vacation inspired dish, that pie would be my choice.


While I am not a pizza monger, I will eat certain pies in a handful of places, top of that list being from my own kitchen. This dough recipe is so good, pizza is on the menu once a week now and with ripe juicy yellow and red heirlooms ripe for the picking, guess what we had last night?



So simple to make, they bake in 15 minutes and we have been eating this original version all summer.
While calling for a homemade pizza sauce, we were really counting the days when we would pick heirlooms with tommy's from our deck garden.



















(basic margherita)

You really can not get anything tastier or easier than sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil but adding the eggplant put it over the top for me.

The best part? they bake in cake pans. No special stone or pan required. I will never bake a pie in my oven any other way than this way.

Let's get cooking:

You will need two 9" metal cake pans.
Preheat oven to 500°.

In a processor or bread machine, place all the ingredients into the bowl and run the blender until the mixture comes together in a ball and then a few more minutes to knead it.

Cut into two balls and cover to rise for at least 30 minutes. Press the dough into the pan that is coated with EVOO, add the toppings and bake for 15 minutes.

Really, is there anything easier than that. Perfect for the kids to do as long as you slice and grate the ingredients.

Dough:
makes 2 (9") crusts

* 1 2/3 cups (8 1/3 ounces) AP flour
* 1 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 2/3 cup water
* 1 1/2 teaspoon EVOO
* 3/4 teaspoon salt

Topping:
8 oz grated mozzarella, divided
Assorted vine ripened tomatoes, sliced at least 1/4"
Small white eggplant, thinly sliced on a mandoline
Fresh chopped basil for garnish after baking
Additional sprinkle of really fruity olive oil before serving, optional