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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 2000 of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch over 125 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie

06/28/2020

~ Italian-Style Fried Pasta Pancake -- Pasta a Frittata ~

IMG_3331 2Fried spaghetti at midnight.  It's kind-of a joke in our house, but, when it comes to late-night snacking in ten minutes or less, reheating a slice of cold pizza in a skillet or frying a portion of leftover spaghetti are at the top of my short list.  It goes without saying, frying spaghetti in less than ten minutes does require having cooked, lightly-seasoned, spaghetti in the refrigerator. For reasons unknown to me, this dish works better with day-old pasta (any type can technically be used), and, while the pasta can be lightly-sauced, I prefer it made with unsauced spaghetti. 

Pasta a frittata is an age-old, very traditional Neapolitan dish that, depending on the family or the area it's prepared in, can be made in various ways -- it lends itself to almost all interpretations. Like many Italian dishes, it was a poor man's dish.  Leftovers were never thrown away, they were repurposed.  In the case of (sauced or unsauced) leftover pasta, it was thrown into a skillet with some beaten egg and bits of whatever was on-hand (sometimes crisply-fried bacon or guanciale, other times bits of salami or sopressata and/or cubes of mozzarella, and always, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese).  After a few short minutes, this crispy-and-golden-on-the-outside, soft-and-creamy-in-the-center comfort-food got gobbled up for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

My basic 10-minute 5-ingredient recipe for pasta a frittata:

IMG_32758  cups my recipe for slightly-spicy garlic & italian-herbs buttered pasta (Note:  1 pound thick spaghetti cooked to al dente, drained and tossed with 1 stick salted butter, 1  teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend, 3/4  teaspoon sea salt, and, 1/2  teaspoon red pepper flakes.), 24-28 ounces

8  large eggs

8  tablespoons finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1  tablespoon salted butter

1  tablespoon olive oil

IMG_3280 IMG_3280 IMG_3280 IMG_3280 IMG_3280 IMG_3280~Step 1.  In a large bowl, using a hand-held egg beater or a whisk, beat the eggs until smooth. Beat in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Add spaghetti.  Use a large rubber spatula to fold, until spaghetti is thoroughly coated in the liquid.

IMG_3277 IMG_3277 IMG_3277 IMG_3277 IMG_3277 IMG_3277 IMG_3277 IMG_3277 IMG_3277~Step 2.  In a 10" nonstick skillet, melt the butter into the oil over low heat. Pour noodle mixture into pan.  Increase heat slightly and allow it to setup on the bottom, about 1 minutes.  Increase heat to medium.  Continue to cook, running a thin spatula around sides, and gently lifting from time to time, until pancake is golden on the bottom, 4-5 minutes.  Flip the pancake over by using a wide nonstick spatula to help slide it onto a plate.  Next, invert skillet on top of plate, then, using pot holders (the skillet is hot), flip the plate and the pan over.  Return to heat and cook on second side until golden on bottom and center has firmed up, 2-3 minutes.

Got leftovers?  Store in the refrigerator.  Slice & eat cold, at room temperature, or, reheat in microwave.  Perfect for a school lunch box, brown bag lunch to the office, or late-night snack: 

IMG_3314Italian-Style Fried Spaghetti Pancake -- Pasta a Frittata:  Recipe yields 6-8 servings.

Special Equipment List:  hand-held egg beater or whisk; microplane grater; 10" nonstick skillet; thin nonstick spatula; wide nonstick spatula; 9" dinner plate

IMG_3257Cook's Note: The perfect foil means, the perfect background.  Paint anything edible into this photo and it will be great meal.  Tick, tock.  In the case of this super-versatile, 15-minute to make side-dish (Slightly-Spicy Garlic & Italian-Herbs Buttered Pasta), truer words were never spoken. When you have no time to make another run to the grocery store but still have a hungry family to please ASAP, this is the perfect side to serve -- everyone loves pasta.  It goes great with a broiled chicken breast, a grilled pork chop, a pan-seared steak, a handful of steamed shrimp, etc.  Add a steamed green vegetable or whip up a simple garden salad and dinner is on the table, and, your day (pour the wine) is done. 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

06/25/2020

~ Slightly-Spicy Garlic & Italian-Herbs Buttered Pasta ~

IMG_3262The perfect foil means, the perfect background.  Paint anything edible into this photo and it will be great meal.  Tick, tock.  In the case of this 15-minute to make side-dish, truer words were never spoken. When you have no time to make a run to the grocery store but still have a hungry family to please, this is the perfect side to serve -- everyone loves pasta.  It goes great with a broiled chicken breast, a grilled pork chop, a pan-seared steak, a handful of steamed shrimp, etc.  Add a steamed green vegetable or garden salad and dinner is on the table, and, your day is done. 

True story.  When I was a kid, my kid brother would only eat pasta with butter.  While the rest of us were slurping our marinara sauced and Parmesan cheese topped mounds, he'd sit and watch those yellow pats melt over his bowl of steaming hot spaghetti, tossing and twirling it until it was enrobed and glistening.  Sometimes he'd add cheese, other times, not.  I swear, he could eat his weight in it.  And you know what?  It got the best of us.  It became so mouth-watering to watch him do it, mom started tossing ALL of our spaghetti with salted butter, a few dried spices and a pinch of red pepper flakes, BEFORE she added the sauce -- pasta simply loves to suck up all those flavors.  To this day, everyone asks me why my pasta tastes better than anyone elses.

My brother's favorite pasta the way mom made it for him:  

IMG_32231  pound thick spaghetti

1  tablespoon sea salt, for seasoning water for pasta

8 tablespoons salted butter (1 stick, cut into 8-12 pieces)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, slightly more or less, for heat

IMG_3226 IMG_3226 IMG_3226 IMG_3226 IMG_3240 IMG_3240 IMG_3240~Step 1.  In a 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven or a wide-bottomed 4-quart stockpot, bring 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon salt, followed by the spaghetti.  Adjust heat to a steady simmer and continue to cook until pasta is al dente, about 10-11 minutes.  Turn heat off and remove pot from heat.

IMG_3248 IMG_3248 IMG_3248 IMG_3248 IMG_3248~Step 2.  Drain pasta into a colander and immediately return the steaming hot pasta to the still hot pot and place the pot back on the still warm stovetop.  Add the butter pieces, garlic powder, Italian seasoning blend and red pepper flakes.  Using a large spoon stir until butter has melted and pasta is enrobed in a flavorful garlic-butter and herb sauce.  

Plate & serve immediately with or without cheese:   

IMG_3257Slightly-Spicy Garlic & Italian-Herbs Buttered Pasta:  Recipe yields 4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List: 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven or 4-quart wide-bottomed stockpot; colander; cutting board; paring knife; large spoon; microplane grater (optional)

6a0120a8551282970b0264e2dbc0e3200dCook's Note: Choose from any number of proteins we make for dinner.  Examples:  roasted chickengrill-panned steaks or pork chops, slow-cooker spareribs, pan-seared ham slices, broiled fish fillets, steamed or poached shellfish, etc.  I refer to these as flash-in-the pan meals because they go from oven or cooktop in relatively short order.  All you need is a side-dish -- a seriously scrumptious all-purpose side-dish. Try my ~ Egg Noodles & Broccoli in Spicy Garlic-Butter Sauce ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

06/23/2020

~Old-School One-Skillet Golden Home-Fried Potatoes~

IMG_3199Home-fried potatoes, also known as cottage fries -- potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, sliced into thinnish discs, lightly-seasoned and pan-fried with some sliced onion in a bit of oil and/or butter (shredded or diced potatoes are called hash browns).  Home fries are as delicious for breakfast as they are with dinner.  That said, when it comes to making home fries, there are two schools of thought.  One is to pan-fry par-cooked (steamed, boiled or microwaved baked) potatoes.  The other is to pan-fry raw potatoes.  In my food world, be it for breakfast or dinner, I don't need the added step of par-cooking the potatoes.  In a diner/restaurant, yea, I get it, this task can be done ahead of time and actually saves time.  In my home kitchen, par-cooking misses the point.

Thoughts & musings about home fries in my kitchen:

IMG_3174Some folks use Russet potatoes, and, that's fine. That said, over the years, I've fallen in love with Yukon golds, and, I adore home fries made with them. There's more. While salt and pepper are the only seasonings I use on my humble home fries, feel free to substitute garlic- or onion-salt for salt.  I fry in a mixture of butter and oil (to prevent the butter from burning).  My potatoes get peeled and sliced to a thickness of about 1/4".  Using peeled or unpeeled potatoes, making home fries with raw potatoes takes 28-30 minutes.

No razzle, no dazzle, just humble home fries:  

IMG_31762  tablespoons salted butter

4  tablespoons corn or vegetable oil

2 1/4-2 1/2 pounds gold potatoes, peeled and thinly, 1/4"-thick sliced, 5-6 potatoes

1 1/2-2  cups 1/4"-thick sliced yellow or sweet onion, cut into half-moon shapes, half-moon shapes cut in half

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

IMG_3179 IMG_3179 IMG_3179 IMG_3179 IMG_3179 IMG_3179 IMG_3179~Step 1.  In a 3 1/2-quart enameled cast-iron Dutch oven or 12" cast-iron skillet, melt the butter into the oil over low heat. Season the mixture with about 15 grinds each of sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Distribute about half of the potatoes in the bottom of the pan.  Scatter the onions over the potatoes and season with another 15 finds of sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Distribute the second half of the potatoes atop the onions and, once again, season with 15 grinds each of sea salt and peppercorn blend.

IMG_3198 IMG_3198~ Step 2.  Increase heat to medium, cover the skillet and allow potatoes to cook, covered, for 12 minutes.  This will start to steam the potatoes and onions.  Remove the lid and increase heat to medium-high.  Continue to cook, uncovered, until potatoes are browning to a golden color on the the bottom, about 8 minutes.  Using a large spatula, work your way around the pan, flipping the potatoes over.  Continue to cook on second sides until potatoes are browning to a golden color on the bottom, about 8 additional minutes.

The best 30-minutes you'll ever spend cooking a side-dish: 

IMG_3202Old-School One-Skillet Golden Home-Fried Potatoes:  Recipe yields 4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  vegetable peeler (optional); cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2-quart enameled cast-iron Dutch oven or 12" cast-iron skillet w/lid; spatula

IMG_3158Cook's Note: When I was growing up, one of my favorite dinners was pork chops served with my dad's home-fried potatoes and my mom's ~ Campfire or Stovetop -- Dutch-Oven-Baked Beans ~.  It was a three-skillet dinner that I never had to be called twice to the table to eat!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)