Welcome to the new and improved Carano's Cucina. I make a lot of kick ass food and go out to some amazing restaurants. Take a look around and make yourself at home :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

For the Love of Grey Salt

Admittedly, I'm not a big salter. I've really never been into adding extra salt to anything and I am very careful about how much added salt I put in the food I make. I really hate iodized salt, you know that stuff in the cylindrical blue container? I'm OK on kosher salt though. I use it as my go to salt. But when I feel a bit naughty, it's all about the grey salt.

I've only ever bought a special salt once. Well and I didn't even buy the one I was supposed to buy. I saw someone make a cake on Martha that was a salted chocolate cake. Now, I'm a big proponent of the chocolate/salt combo and this sounded really good to me. The recipe called for Fleur de sel. Have you ever bought this? Well, it's about $18 for an ounce or so. Needless to say, I didn't buy it when I saw how much it was. I did make the cake and salt or not, I wasn't real crazy about it. It sounded better on paper. Don't get me wrong, I did buy a fancy French salt for the cake. It just didn't blow me away.

At any rate, being the food show watcher that I am, I noticed that Michael Chiarello exclusively uses grey salt. I got to wondering what the big deal about it was and why he liked it so much. So I did a little research (and if you know more about it, by all means, do tell!) and found that grey salt is also called sel gris or Celtic salt. Celtic salt refers to naturally moist salts harvested from Atlantic seawater off the coast of Brittany, France. It is rich in mineral content, are hand harvested using the Celtic method (thus the name) of wooden rakes allowing no metal to touch the salt. They can be available from very course to very fine. Mine is course.

So, on one of my trips to Penzey's, I saw that they sell French grey salt in manageable, affordable quantities so I decided to give it a try.

Inevitably I find that if I put grey salt in something I have made, Nick will comment and ask what I did differently (in a good way). He's so used to my limited salting that I usually don't even tell him "it's the salt!" and just brag about my culinary expertise and thank him for the compliments.

I find that a little goes a long way. The course texture has a nice hand feel and it's a little moist which I found off putting at first, but now I rather like that feel.

If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend you give it a try. Turns out Michael Chiarello knew what he was talking about.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Patty Pan is not Peter's Sister

Having gone to several farmer's markets this season, I got to wondering about the pattypan squash. I've seen them big and I've seen them small and all of them look like flying saucers.

So you can see the one I bought it kind of big. I really wasn't quite sure what to do with it. It seemed very hard, but was the flesh soft? Is it the consistency of say a butternut squash? What's the deal here!? I constantly several sources and decided I would do what I do best, make it with pasta. It's my go to.

I started out by chopping it in half and then cutting it into thin pieces.

This was a lot of squash. I actually ended up only using half of it because it looked like the whole thing would be too much. So I sauteed it in olive oil with some garlic, salt and pepper. When it started to cook, caramelizing on the edges, I added some Italian sausage that I crumbled.

Then just let it go. Let it all cook together and marry and have a good old time in your saute pan. Add some onions if you like. I have been loving the purple scallions I get at the farmer's market and add those to just about everything. They rock!

If the pan gets dry, add a little chicken stock or white wine. And remember to scrape up those brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Anne Burrell of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef on Food Network often says, "brown food tastes good" and she's absolutely right. So don't waste the good stuff!

When the sausage and squash and all it's goodness are looking done, add some cooked linguine or whatever pasta you like and get ready for deliciousness!

Top with Parmesan or Romano for extra added yummies!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Burger Test

A month ago we went to the Hamburger Festival in Akron and immediately noticed the longest line was for a place called the Windsor Pub in Akron. We decided right then and there that we would try Windsor another time and go get our burgers are some of the shorter lines. Well the time is upon us. Our friend, fellow burger and fellow blogger lover Tom got together to give the Windsor a go. None of us really knew what to expect. It's a bar, basically. When we got there no other patrons were at tables, all were at the bar.

Looking over the menu I decided on the Junior 1/3 lb. mushroom burger, the Windsor Burger actually, with cheese. And seeing fresh cut fries, Tom and I both felt a little apprehensive. It's not often that fresh cut fries are fries done right. Many places don't take the time to fry twice and instead serve you a mass of messy, greasy and soggy fries. But I decided to take one for the team and go for it. Nick got the Big Mama (3/4 lb burger, holy cow!!) with curly fries. The Big Mama had barbecue sauce, cheese and a slice of grilled ham. Tom also got a 3/4 pounder and while I don't remember the name I think it had cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. He opted for onion rings as his side. The waitress informed us that all burgers were cooked to medium well. Personally I like my burger cooked a little less than that, but it was fine.

As we waited for the burgers to come, I decided that the Windsor Pub was the kind of place where someone would decide my hair was too weird to be allowed in the place and would make trouble. It just had that vibe to me and trust me, I've been discriminated against plenty for my coiffure choices. Luckily we were free from any trouble and I didn't have to open a can of whoop ass on anyone.

So here they are. First up, my Windsor Burger.

This was a pretty good burger. Was it the best burger I ever had. No. But it was good and the price was certainly right. The bill for Nick and I was less than $15! The burger was very tasty, the mushrooms were nice. AND the fries were good! They were crisp and hot. All in all, an enjoyable test!

Nick enjoyed his burger too. The Big Mama comes with a saber stuck in the middle of it because it's so big that it's the only way they can keep the whole thing together!

Tom also enjoyed his burger. And I'm sure he'll be writing about it soon too. So there you have it. Check out the Windsor Pub for a tasty and inexpensive burger. Thanks for taking pics for me Tom!