Make that sauce stick to that pasta…like in the old country :)

April 25, 2012

Now it would be a shame if after all this work, experimenting, cook time and you’re just about ready to eat, your spaghetti and sauce are not melding.  So what do you do?  Very simple old trick that is used in many cuisines, ADD BUTTER!  But do it the right way, at the right time in the right amount.  Right after you’ve strained your pasta put it back in the pot and add 2-3 tablespoons of your favorite butter, as always it’s best to use unsalted butter or you’ll add whatever salt is in the product you choose.   Pour in 2-3 scoops or 4-6 ounces of your “gravy” to the pot of pasta and stir for 30 seconds.  This way when you pour your sauce over the plate of spaghetti (or any pasta) it will adhere more to the noodle and you’re not left with runaway sauce at the bottom of your plate instead of in your tummy 😉

So would you believe I learned this technique from an episode of The Sopranos years ago?  No joke!  Joe Pantoliano shows the son of a lady he’s dating this simple trick and low and behold it works!  Even if your butter was in the fridge, the heated sauce will melt the butter.  I knew what I was using for butter on this one, so I purposely under-salted the sauce, then tasted it again.  You may not be too hip on their cookbook, but this was a surefire way to do something to add another level to your cooking.  Your spaghetti will taste saucier so more savory and this method also keeps the pasta from sticking together, pretty fancy eh?!  And yes you can do a countdown and see I mixed this for exactly 30 seconds, HA, HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW!

Spicy Marinara Spaghetti for the savory

April 25, 2012

Do you make a really good spaghetti and meat sauce, I mean really good?  Is your thing the jar or heat and serve?  Well some of us like a little more taste in our Italian and that means herbs, spices and experimentation.  Now you may need to COOK LIKE CRAZY, but you don’t need to go crazy in your experimenting, just try a few hints of something new or one at a time.  Making a good sauce may be slightly time consuming if you’re on the go, but if you want to go beyond heat & serve, who wants to be average or just ok.  Tried and true is one thing, but lackluster and uninspiring sauce is just not good enough.

There are some Italian mothers and chefs who add sugar to their “gravy” or spaghetti sauce.  Then there are some that like it hot! So why not havc the best of both worlds, which is how I feel about my cultural background being Colombian and American, and make it sweat and hot at the same time?  Chili flakes, sriracha sauce, roasted red peppers, ground cloves and a hint of agave for a healthier sweetness that is already melted, that’s my test for today.  Also added some sauteed mushrooms for more savor!

Big part of this dish is making your pasta al dente which in Italian simply means “to the teeth”.  Basically it should have a little bite to it and not be mushy or hard.  Make sure you add some salt and olive oil to your boiling water to not only season the pasta, but aid in the boiling process.  Lucky for us today packages tell you exactly how much time each pasta needs, trust me it works.

In the beginning, there was Lomo Saltado…now try it with lamb :)

APRIL 18, 2012

I had some leftover sangria from a housewarming party I threw at my loft near Downtown LA and was house sitting for my parents when I looked in there fridge and discovered lamb, brown rice in the cupboard and some fresh guacamole and pineapple.  So what did I do?  I started COOKING LIKE CRAZY…literally.  I began shooting this show to feature my culinary skills and fresh look at cooking to heighten the South American cuisine I was brought up with being raised by Colombian parents in California.  I learned to cook this particular dish from a very dear Peruvian friend (makes it more authentic) and typically it is cut up strips of seasoned steak with tomatoes, peppers & cilantro (stir-fry) on a bed of white rice and side of fresh potato wedges (båtonnet style in 1/4 by 2-2 1/2 in length) with a spicy green-onion & cilantro aji (salsa) to accompany the dish.  I made a spicy pineapple chutney for the lamb and used brown rice (less starch) but kept the fat in the mix by cooking it in it’s own water.  Now it’ll take 45 minutes as you need the sauce from the lamb which was first poached and then pan fried followed by stirring in the chutney. While one of these items is cooking a mixture of guacamole with cilantro and green onion (you can use some jalapeño or habanero peppers too) should be blended for a creamy topping and also dipping sauce for the seasoned fries that cook quickly with a little olive oil and seasoning.  You can vary the amount, but note it’s best to make this for 2 or more, if not you have great leftovers.  Have fun and make sure you enjoy this with a drink to accompany the savory dish…I know I do 😉

So one version came out (before sliced) a very Colombian style lomo saltado with the onions, tomatoes and cilantro blended into a guiso (our mirepoix salsa mix also known as hogao in some parts of Colombia), remember that guac has some heat!  And yes a fruit red sangria to wash it down with 🙂

Lomo Saltado Lamb Colombian style

Lomo Saltado Lamb Colombian style

Here is the definition of the traditional dish: Lomo saltado is a Peruvian dish that has Asian influences (chifa) consisting of strips of sirloin marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and spices, then stir fried with red onions, parsley and tomatoes. It is traditionally served over white rice with homemade French fries that look more like potato wedges. Its combination of both cultures makes the dish very popular. Many cuisines in Peru serve the dish.