One Pot Pasta

By now I’m sure that most of you reading this have seen those recipes floating around the internet and social media touting the benefits of “One Pot Pastas”, the “Wonderpots”, the “Meal to Make When You Just Don’t Have Time”. I have personally seen several of these recipes, and each time I saw one, I had my doubts. Then I started thinking about it from a culinary standpoint, and my “Chefbrain” took over. That’s when the doubts started to gain credibility. I mean, one of my favorite pasta dishes to make is an old Italian classic, Pasta Cacio E Pepe, which uses some of the pasta cooking water as a fairly important part of the recipe to form, bind, and thicken the sauce. Makes sense, right? Isn’t pasta starchy to begin with anyway? So the other night I decided to try this method and see just what happens. I mean if the Italians used this principle it must be good.
So I chopped a half a sweet onion, minced 4 cloves garlic, cut 6 Roma tomatoes into chunks, sliced 2 cups of button mushrooms, and tore up 6 leaves of fresh basil

20140526-183838-67118301.jpgI put a 14 ounce box of rotini pasta into a large sauce pot.

20140526-184053-67253293.jpgThen I dumped in the vegetables and herbs along with 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/3 cup olive oil, and 1 teaspoon salt.

20140526-184331-67411102.jpgAnd stirred until everything was evenly mixed.

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Then I added 5 cups cold water, stirred thoroughly, and set the heat to high.
Bring to a boil, stirring every few minutes to prevent sticking.

20140526-184506-67506578.jpgCook for 12-14 minutes or until the pasta reaches your preferred level of tenderness. Turn off the heat, stir the pasta and sauce together and let rest for 4 minutes.

20140526-184625-67585016.jpgI served mine topped with some grated Romano cheese and it was every bit as good as I hoped.

20140526-184743-67663423.jpgEasy, clean, fast, tasty, and the best part of it – All Natural! No unwanted, unnecessary, unwelcome chemicals, preservatives, etc. Try it, you’ll be glad you did. I will definitely make this again. And be adventurous – use any combination of flavors, herbs and vegetables that you want.
P.S. – The leftovers (if you are fortunate enough to have some left) are even better the next day! <— Hint–Good place to use some of that leftover steak butter, toss some in the pasta when reheating!
Cook. Eat. Repeat!

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Steak Butter aka Beurre Maitre d’Hotel

Not much beats the sight of a melting mound of Garlicky Steakhouse butter slowly fading away on top of your favorite perfectly cooked steak. This wet wonder of flavor is easy to make, and perfect for steak, chops, chicken, and even seafood. No rules, right?
This special mixture is a butter / sauce that is found in a lot of good restaurants, on top of cooked meats. But have no fear, it is easily made at home. Where it came from or got its start is not easy to pinpoint, but these days it is fairly common on menus, even if no one refers to it by the same name.
I’ve heard this good thing referred to as Herbed Butter, Compound Butter, Hotel Butter or Steak Butter. To be more proper its real name is Beurre Maitre d’Hotel. This is somewhat of a “foodie” term that simply means Hotel Butter. Bottom line it is a mixture of chopped herbs and seasonings and most importantly Butter. Start off with a stick of regular unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature.

20140525-184117-67277294.jpgWith a spoon or mixer, mash, whip, and cream the butter until it is soft and spreadable.

20140525-184313-67393598.jpgAdd your desired selection of chopped herbs

20140525-184440-67480203.jpgand seasonings.

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20140525-184825-67705978.jpgMix well.

20140525-184948-67788938.jpgLay out some plastic wrap in a rectangular shape. Place the butter mixture on an edge of the plastic

20140525-185144-67904983.jpgand roll to the other edge of plastic

20140525-185253-67973481.jpgforming a log shape.

20140525-185335-68015400.jpgRefrigerate until firm.

20140525-185426-68066214.jpgCut into small rounds

20140525-185640-68200042.jpgand serve on top of your favorite grilled meat or fish.

20140525-185725-68245577.jpgAs it melts it will form a savory “sauce” that mixes with the meat juices, giving it a free ride to Flavortown. Now let’s not stop here and get stuck in that proverbial “box”. We all know that I am always trying to “push out into the blue”, “speculate”, or “think outside of the box”. Normal scares me. Some typical ingredients in Hotel Butter are parsley, lemon juice, garlic, salt and black pepper. However, I will say this again as it bears repeating, “There are no rules when it comes to cooking”. Think about what tastes good to you. Think caramelized onions, cooked bacon, Blue Cheese, chives, chopped spinach, coffee, sauerkraut, mushrooms, olive tapenade, Sriracha sauce, brown sugar, horseradish, crabmeat or lobster meat (make sure to cook these first), crushed Doritos, truffles, jalapenos (raw or roasted), or even try a BLT Butter (Chopped cooked Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato)…..I could go on and on and on….
This leads to other uncommon, unnatural, and unusual uses for Hotel Butter. After you’ve used it for that grilled protein of course. It makes a good spread for toasted crusty bread, bruschetta, biscuits, or even folded into your favorite omelet or pasta sauce. Sauté some vegetables or plain pasta in the leftover Hotel Butter. Hard to go wrong there. It’s a good way to put a different spin on a familiar dish; think about it…???…Cook. Eat. Repeat.
Happy Memorial Day- Go Grill Something to go with your Buttah!

Back In The Saddle Again

So…..I’m Baaaack!
No I haven’t been on vacation, I haven’t been on a trip around the world to “find myself”, I wasn’t on some super secret spy mission that I wouldn’t be able to tell you about, and No, I haven’t been salmon fishing in Alaska!
What I have been is busy. The past few weeks have been one of those periods in time where real life issues get in the way. One of those time periods we have all experienced at one time or another where our full time “paying” job requires a little extra attention.
So in the spirit of getting back on track, and posting more than just snapshots on Instagram or Twitter, this post is going to be a series of views from my eyes, in my kitchen, over the past few weeks. We have served numerous Social Balls, Fundraisers, Weddings, Conventions, Off Property Caterings, Drop off Meal Services, Holiday Meal events, Client Appreciations, and just about any other type of event where food is needed. The events ranged in number from 25 people to 1100 people. One recent Friday at lunch time we served 1100 meals in one ballroom, while at the same time serving 8 other ballrooms each with 80-90 people. We gave new meaning to the phrase “organized chaos”!
Here we go. Ladies and Gentlemen the Chef has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt Sign. Seat backs and trays in the full upright position. Buckle up, it might get bumpy! If you have any questions about our flight today or any other day, please do not hesitate to leave a comment.
Now that we have reached our confortable cruising altitude lets bring on the first course:

20140512-121502.jpgTomato Mozzarella Caprese Canapés

20140512-121804.jpgFingerling Potato, Caviar & Crème Fraiche Hors d’oeuvres

20140512-121907.jpgPea & Parmesan Appetizers
It was Good Friday so what better way to eat seafood– The Southern way. We fired up the pots

20140512-123904.jpgThrew in required vegetables

20140512-124102.jpgAnd had a Crawfish Boil.

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20140512-124348.jpgInstructions included.

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Found time for a little humor, or good advice, depends on how you look at it.

20140512-124617.jpgCut some pineapple for 900 people.

20140512-124728.jpgSome healthy, tasty food was also on the menu

20140512-124838.jpgRoasted Chickpea & Red Quinoa Salad

20140512-125001.jpgOne of the big Non Profit Organizations even made a model of me for their fundraiser.

20140512-125105.jpgThe theme was “Recipe for Success”.
Tried our hand as Sandwich Artists

20140512-125219.jpgMade a few Fried Wild Mushroom Risotto Bites

20140512-125322.jpgAnd some Sesame Crusted Shrimp Skewers

20140512-125428.jpgSmoked Corned Short Ribs

20140512-125603.jpgThese were so good that they shouldn’t be legal.

20140512-130058.jpgHere’s a look at one corner of one of our walk in coolers.

20140512-130214.jpgOf course there were tons of dishes, pots, and pans to be washed, Seems like they could never get caught up.

20140512-130345.jpgMade a few Veggie Spring Rolls

20140512-130516.jpgAssembled some Boxed Lunches.

20140512-130617.jpgWe do lots of “Food That Travels”!

20140512-130704.jpgLocal Cheese Displays

20140512-130806.jpgHouse Smoked Meat Platters

20140512-130846.jpgA super Funky Farro Salad

20140512-130947.jpgLots of Ratatouille

20140512-131047.jpgPan Seared Chicken Breasts

20140512-131142.jpgCarrot Cake Cookie Sandwiches with Crème Filling

20140512-131246.jpgFlourless Chocolate Torte Squares, G-Free and To Die For!

20140512-131328.jpgCandied Walnuts

20140512-131423.jpgSalads on the plating belt for 1000 people

20140512-131549.jpgMini Shrimp Ceviche Cocktails

20140512-131633.jpgMore fruit

20140512-131801.jpgAcorn Squash

20140512-132538.jpgGuacamole Salad

20140512-132627.jpgI know this isn’t technically IN my kitchen, but it’s in my back yard! The Mighty Morel!

20140512-132714.jpgBBQ Shrimp & Pork T-Loin Tacos

20140512-132754.jpgWith all the fixins!

20140512-132831.jpgSome Black Eyed Pea Vinaigrette

20140512-132950.jpgTo go with this Fried Green Tomato Salad

And some nice knife work on these pretty cut vegetables.

20140512-133309.jpgThat’s what I’ve been up to lately!