Home Cooking with Gordon Ramsay-Beef Meatballs with Orecchiette, Kale and Pine Nuts

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When I see Gordon Ramsay cook, I see a chef who has enormous passion for excellent food. You can see the excitement in his eyes as he describes the way the sauce should taste or how the meat is cooked to perfection. He loves his craft and he loves to teach others.

This Michelin star chef is no stranger to the camera with all of his TV shows like Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Hotel Hell and Masterchef US. He has shown us that he can run a kitchen and scare young apprentices half to death, if they make a mistake.

With his Ultimate Home Cooking series, he has shown us his other side. He has shown us that he is a husband and father of four budding chefs; his children. While he cooks with his family, you can see that they love this special time with their father. It is clear that they have cooked together, often.

I really enjoyed watching the series, so I bought the cookbook. It is a wonderful compilation of recipes that you will want to cook for your family and friends.

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The recipes are divided into chapters like Classics with a Twist, Good Food for Less, Cooking for Friends, Cooking in Advance; to name a few. Each section offers a variety of dishes that inspire the casual dining that most of us enjoy so well. These are recipes that you would make for a family dinner, a brunch for friends, or an intimate evening with someone special.

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Recipes that I have tried from this book include:

Pork Chops and Peppers

and

Beef Meatballs with Orecchiette, Kale and Pine Nuts (see below)

The instructions are very clear, the photos are beautiful, and the ingredients are items that most of us have easy access to.

I am really excited to try more of the recipes from this book! They are not written so that you need to be a Michelin Star chef to prepare them. This book is for anyone who loves to cook at home.

Orechietti-and-meetballs

Beef Meatballs with Orecchiette, Kale and Pine Nuts

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 lb. dried orecchiette pasta
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
8 oz. kale, shredded
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

For the meatballs:

1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 tsp. dried chili flakes
1 lb. ground beef
2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3-4 tbsp. milk

Directions:

First prepare the meatballs. Saute the onion and garlic with salt and pepper to taste in a hot oiled frying pan for about 5 minutes until soft and lightly coloured, adding the chili flakes after a minute or two. Place the beef in a large bowl and add salt and pepper. Put the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl and moisten with milk. Add salt and pepper, then stir the breadcrumbs and onion mixture into the beef and combine well. With wet hands, shape the beef mixture into small balls about ¾ inch wide. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes until firm.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, according to the package instructions.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add a little olive oil. Brown the meatballs for 6 minutes until coloured on all sides. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until tender, then add the kale and season with salt and pepper. Sweat the kale over medium heat for 5 minutes with a couple of tablespoons of cooking water form the pasta. Taste to adjust the seasoning as necessary, then stir in the pine nuts.

Drain the pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of cooking water. Tip the pasta into the pan with the meatballs and stir over medium heat until well mixed. Add a good handful of finely grated Parmesan cheese and mix well with a little cooking water to help coat the pasta. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Serve garnished with another grating of Parmesan.

Recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s Home Cooking

I got my copy of the cookbook at Amazon.com

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Farmer’s Market Pappardelle

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be”-Douglas Adams

It is amazing how we can go through life trying to find the path that we are supposed to take. We try heading down one road and then decide to turn down another to see where it leads. For some of us it leads to a place where we feel at home. For others it leads to a place where we feel uncomfortable and then we know we need to take a different path at the next fork in the road.

I have had my share of discomfort in my life, but the path that I am on now is leading me to a place of growth. Each day I am challenging myself a little more with my fitness routine and in my personal life. I have always been a lifelong learner and have loved to explore the world. Recently I have added physical training to my education. Each day I feel healthier, stronger and more in control of my life than I have in years. I also find that my mind is clear and my creative juices are overflowing.

“You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination that you will ever need.”-Jerry Gilles

I know that I have so much yet to learn and so many challenges yet to face. Instead of being intimidated by this I am finding myself looking forward to each day and each new experience. A friend of mine once told me that I was carrying a bag of rocks on my back that each represented a hurt from that past that I carried with me. The bag was really heavy. He said that I brought my past into my present and let the rocks cloud my judgement. One by one, I am tossing the rocks as I travel down the road.

I can almost relate this journey to the one that Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about in Eat, Pray, Love. Well almost………. I always wondered why she left Italy and stopped eating. I would have stayed in Italy forever sipping espresso in the morning and red wine in the evening and feasting on plates of homemade pasta. I guess I never understood that she needed to experience the rest of the journey in order to find out who she was.

“When your heart speaks, take good notes”-Judith Campbell

There is a lot that I don’t know about life, but I do know that I love to eat. Food is the essence of our lives, it is the centre of our family gatherings and the tradition that we pass on to our children. This Farmer’s Market Pappardelle provides a nice seasonal take on the traditional pasta. The fresh from the market vegetables make this a light, healthy vegetarian meal fit for any dinner party.

Farmers’ Market Pappardelle

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 ½ lb. multi-coloured, multi-sized cherry tomatoes, halved
3 ears corn on the cob shucked
1 ½ lb. medium zucchini
½ cup thinly sliced red onion (optional)
9 oz. dried egg pappardelle
¼ lb. sugar snap peas
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
½ cup mint leaves
1/3 cup snipped chives
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for shavings

Directions 

Bring 6-8  quarts of salted water to a boil.

While water is boiling mince and mash garlic to a paste with a ½ teaspoon of salt, then stir together with the vinegar, oil and 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl, Add tomatoes and stir gently. Set aside.

Cook corn in boiling water for 4- 6 minutes, remove with tongs and set aside.

Into a medium bowl, peel lengthwise ribbons from the zucchini with a vegetable peeler, stopping when you come to the seedy core. Turn zucchini a quarter turn and repeat. Repeat until all four sides have been ribboned.

Slice corn off of the cob and add to the tomatoes.

Cook pappardelle until al dente. Just before pasta is done add zucchini and snow peas to the pot and boil for 30 seconds. Drain pasta and vegetable together in a large colander. Add the tomato mixture and onions and toss gently.

Add herbs, toss gently and serve.

Recipe from Gourmet Easy Dinners Magazine

Fusilli with Grilled Chicken and Asiago-A Celebration of Italy

I love to travel! When I travel, I love to soak up the local culture, taste the local cuisine and learn about the history, art and architecture. One of my favourite places in the world for great art and architecture is Rome.

This city is rich with history and full of life. Last time I was there I did a night walk through central Rome. We started with a delicious dinner of pasta and wine in Campo de Fiori. After dinner we walked up to Piazza Navona and wandered through the market. I love the architecture in the Piazza and the feeling of excitement.  People were gathering in the streets to enjoy the night and to spend time with their friends. The cafes were filled with groups of friends enjoying meals, conversation and good times together.

After Piazza Navona we walked to the Spanish Steps and then wandered the streets toward the historic Pantheon. Across from the Pantheon there is an amazing place that has dozens of flavours of fresh gelato. We treated ourselves to a cup of this rich, creamy dessert as we continued our walk to the final destination; the Trevi Fountain. Whenever I see the Trevi Fountain, I always toss in a coin and make a wish that I will return to Rome again someday.

I highly recommend this night walk as way to see this exciting city at night. Rome is so lively and the Roman people all love to come out at night to play.

In memory of my travels to Italy I have decided to make the month of March a celebration of Italian food. This pasta recipe is in memory of the meal that we had that night in Rome.

Buon Appetito!

Fusilli with Grilled Chicken and Asiago Cheese

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb. fusilli pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup grilled chicken breast, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup diced yellow peppers
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain pasta and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and peppers and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add chicken and cook about 2 more minutes, until chicken is  heated  through. Add the cooked pasta, cheese, and toss to combine. Sprinkle with chopped basil, salt and pepper.

Transfer the pasta to a serving plate and sprinkle with a little more parmesan cheese

Butternut Squash, Asiago and Walnut Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter

I have not made homemade ravioli in years. The last time I made ravioli was in Sicily in with my daughters’ Nona. She was an adorable little Sicilian woman who spent her days running about cooking, cleaning, shopping for meals and looking after her family. She started every day at the crack of dawn by running out to buy all of the ingredients for the day’s meals from the local fishermen, the vegetable stand or the local butcher. Her energy level was unmatched, she was like a whirlwind while she cleaned, chopped, rolled, tasted and baked her day away.

One time while we were staying with her on holiday she decided to show me how to make ravioli. She made a large quantity of pasta dough, large enough to cover the entire kitchen table when rolled out vigorously with a broom handle. When the dough was ready we carefully dolloped a mixture of ricotta, sugar, eggs, lemon zest and herbs a few inches apart onto the first half of the pasta dough. When the first half was ready, she flipped the other half over on top of the first and set about pressing the dough together around each dollop. Then she cut out each ravioli using a rolling pizza cutter that had a zigzag edge. She popped the packets into boiling water and served them with homemade tomato sauce. The whole process was mesmerizing and so memorable that I can still see her moving quickly around the table rolling and sealing the little packets of ricotta heaven. Needless to say I was so intimidated by her ability to make it look so easy I never tried it on my own, until now.

Then, I was watching the Food Network a few weeks ago and Ricardo Larrivee was demonstrating how to make ravioli with wonton wrappers. Here it was, the answer to my fear of making homemade ravioli. It looked so easy so I rushed out and bought the wrappers, found a great filling recipe on SpicySweatSalty’s blog site and got busy.

The result was a light savoury ravioli with a sweet, nutty squash sensation in every bite. They were my first solo homemade ravioli, they were delicious and I had overcome my ravioli making fear.

Could homemade pasta be next?

Butternut Squash, Asiago & Walnut Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash
50 wonton wrappers
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 ½ tsp. organic honey
¾ tsp. coarse sea salt
5 oz. fresh grated Asiago cheese

Directions

Peel and seed squash and cut into 1/4-inch cubes. Combine squash, walnuts, olive oil, pepper flakes, honey and sea salt in a bowl. Toss ingredients until completely coated with oil. Pour out onto baking sheet and cook in 350-degree F oven for a half hour, stirring every 10 minutes.

Turn temperature on oven up to 500 degrees F and cook squash mixture for 5 minutes or until squash are tender. Let cool.

In food processor, combine squash mixture and cheese. Blend until ingredients are almost smooth.

To make the ravioli, place a wonton wrapper on a clean, flat surface. Brush the edges with water. Place about 1 teaspoon of the squash mixture in the middle of the wonton. Cover with a second wonton wrapper.  Press around the filling with fingers or a fork to seal the packets. (Be careful not to pierce the wonton). Cut  pressed ravioli with a ravioli press or a round cookie cutter. Repeat with remaining wonton wrappers and squash mixture until all have been used.

Drop the ravioli into the boiling water, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove, drain.

Place 6 to 8 ravioli on serving plates, and drizzle with sauce. Sprinkle with freshly grated Asiago cheese.

Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Ingredients

1/4 c. butter
3 fresh sage leaves
Salt and black pepper

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the sage. Continue to cook and stir until the sage is crispy but not browned. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Filling recipe adapted from a recipe on Spicy Salty Sweet

http://www.spicysaltysweet.com/2008/01/30/butternut-squash-asiago-walnut-ravioli-with-brown-butter/