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 :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Patience and Caramelized Onions

Patience is definitely not one of those qualities that I possess.  I'm kind of a "want it when I want it" kind of gal.  So I guess it would come as no surprise that I have never been able to make caramelized onions.  Not that it's difficult, it's just one of those things that takes time and patience to make.  I've told myself several times, "OK, this time I'm going to make them and do them right!" and I end up with crispy grilled onions instead. 

But this time... this time I really REALLY told myself I would make them and make them right.  I had the time, and I really wanted to see if I could do it.  So I started with a heavy bottomed stainless steel pan and some Vidalia onions.  I used three small to medium onions and about 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil. 

They did kind of crowd the pan but I wasn't worried.  I know they cook down a ton so I just let it go.  I had the heat on high just to get the oil going then turned it way back to medium low.  I stirred the onions around to make sure all of them had some a little coating of oil  Once the onions started to soften a little, I added a bit of salt.  And then I pretty much let them go.  I came back to stir them once in awhile but for the most part I didn't do much except watch.

After 20 minutes... (and now the heat on low)

After 35 minutes.... (and at this point the aroma is amazing!)

After 45 minutes....


And at this point I turned off the heat completely and took them out of the pan.  You can see how much they have shrunk down.  They smelled so good I think I could have just eaten them with a spoon and been happy!  

But alas, I had some DiRusso's turkey Italian sausage ready for sammies.  Don't scoff at my turkey sausage!   If you haven't tried it, you don't know how good it really is and when you're watching your calories and still want those flavors, yeah it works for me.

Sausage, caramelized onions and some quick sauteed spinach.  It was delish.  And now I know, I can make caramelized onions!  Here's my tips if you have found yourself having a hard time with caramelized onions too.... use a stainless steel pan, not a non stick.  Low low low heat is your friend.  I may have gone to the extreme of low, but I'd rather do the low and slow thing than the fast and burnt thing.  Don't forget the bit of salt.  And if the pan is getting too dry, add more oil.  

Enjoy the yumminess!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Down on the Farm

This year, for the first time in my life, I've gotten a farm share.  If you don't know what that is, its where you pay a certain amount of money up front and, depending on how much you pay, you get a share of the crops from the farm.  My friend Lynn and I split the share and we get it every other week.  We got our first one this past Friday.

Isn't it gorgeous?  What we have here is spinach, kale, red leaf lettuce, cilantro, dill, scallions, spring mix, another red lettuce that I don't know the name of, pea shoots and garlic scapes.  Oh seriously, this stuff is gorgeous!  And I will be getting something every other week until November 8!  The possibilities are so exciting.

So what did I make first?  Well a salad of course, with the beautiful red lettuces.

I dress my salads simply... extra virgin olive oil (one half cup), balsamic vinegar (one quarter cup) and honey (2 Tablespoons).  I didn't use to add honey, but one day I decided to try it out and loved it so much I always do it now.

The second thing I made was Israeli couscous with sauteed pea shoots and garlic scapes.  I have come to really love Israeli couscous.  My go to small pasta had always been orzo.  And I do still love it, but there is something about the Israeli couscous I simply adore.  It may be the texture I love so much.  It has great texture.   The one I use is Bob's Red Mill Tricolor Pearl Couscous.  And if you live in Northeast Ohio, you can get this very product at Marc's for $2, which is much cheaper than you will find anywhere else.

I started out with the gorgeous garlic scapes and pea shoots, two products I have never used before in my life, but was so excited to try out.

Everything on the pea shoots are edible, the stems, the leaves, the little peapods and even the flowers so all I did with these was peel the leaves off the harder bottom stems then chop up the rest.  I then sauteed them for a short amount of time, it did not take long for them to wilt, and then added the chopped garlic scapes afterward because I didn't want them to cook too much.  Then added a little salt and pepper.

There is really not as much oil in the pan as it looks here, oh wait... I added a little chicken broth.  That's why the pan looks like it's drowning the veg!   I added the broth just to slow down the cooking process because the couscous wasn't quite done.

After it was done, I added it to the pan with the shoots and scapes.  And gave it a good toss (and a little more salt and pepper).

I served it with roasted chicken breasts with lime and ginger.  To make that I simple put two large chicken breasts in a baking dish, squeezed the juice of one lime over the top of the chicken, then sprinkled with salt and pepper and then grated some ginger over the top (probably about a little less than a teaspoon on each piece).  Bake uncovered for about 45-55 minutes depending on how thick the chicken is, at 350.  The meat was juicy and succulent while the skin was crispy perfection.   Simple, easy and tons of flavor!