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, February 23, 2020

I'm in Love with Salted Dough

Well shit!   It's been about four years since I've posted!   For shame.  Fine, my excuse is that about four years ago I started working full time.  Truth.  Working full time affords me less time for everything.  But that's besides the point, I'm here now!

Being as I live about a mile from Salted Dough, the new Italian/Pizza place on Broadview Rd. in Broadview Hts., I've been watching the progress of when it would be opening.  Watching with excitement!  As someone who makes pizza almost daily, the name alone sparks interest.  What kind of salt?  How will it be salted?   I need more information pronto!   Well, they opened about 2 months ago and they've been featured in several publications, blogs, TV shows etc.  I was hearing there were lines out the door.  I gave it as much time as I could stand and finally went last night.

We got there knowing that there was going to be a wait.  We were told about 30 minutes for a table and took a seat in their small waiting area right in front of the gelato case.  Oh my.  Homemade gelato, staring at me.  I stared back.  Eventually the hostess noticed my drool and asked me if I wanted to try any.  Really!?  Do I???   Um, yes please.  I asked if any of them were Nutella flavored.  Hey, I'm nothing if not consistent!  And much to my delight, there was one and I got a little sample.  Delicious!   Like frozen Nutella.  Oh I'm going to like this place!

After sitting for about 10 minutes or so, Ricky the bartender came over and asked if he could get us something from the bar while we wait.  Seriously?  I don't think that's ever happened before.  Again, yes please!  I order a cocktail called Strawberry Bushel Smash and it was delicious!  Strawberry vodka, lemon, thyme sprig in the drink.  It was lovely.

As we sat and I enjoyed my cocktail, again I'm surprised when the hostess came around with a plate of small topped crostini for all the people waiting.  She came by and asked us if we wanted to try one.  Absolutely!   It was a delightful little bite of bread, cream cheese or creme fraiche and a slice of perhaps salmon over the top.  Sorry, I forgot to take pic, I was so taken aback that they were feeding the people who were waiting free food.   About 5 minutes later we were treated to another!  This time it was crostini with sauce and pepperoni.

We actually saw a third come out, but our time was up and our name was called.  It was time to take our seat.  Now, we did a little menu investigating before we went but still, looking at the menu in person and there were just so many wonderful sounding things!  Whatever will we do!?

We decided to forgo a salad this time and instead get two appetizers.  They all sounded so good!  We chose the Brussel Sprouts and our waitress Nancy seemed rather pleased with that selection.  We soon found out why.  Cooked to perfection, beautifully browned and delicious with crispy fried shallots, Romano cheese and dijon aioli over the top.  Perfect.

Our second app was Burrata.  Burrata itself is decadent and delicious.  This Burrata was no exception.  But to guild the lily a bit, it is served on top a bed of butternut squash with lime pickle honey, pumpkin seed oil, and apple cider gastrique.  Served with crostini.  I detected a bit of cinnamon perhaps on the squash.  It was creamy and luscious. All in all, I'd get this again in a heartbeat!

 Now it's time.  It's time for the main attraction.  While so many of the entrees on the menu sounded incredible, I was there for pizza.  Salted Dough brushes every pizza dough with garlic oil and sprinkles Pink Himalayan salt and Romano cheese on the crust.  Be still my heart.  After much discussion, we opted for two 10 inch pizzas.  Our first was the Peruvian Chicken.  The fact that I wanted this is slightly out of character for me.  I'm not one for chicken on a pizza.   It's not that it's bad, like say, pineapple (ACK!!!!!).  It's just that, for me, chicken doesn't belong on a pizza.  But all the other ingredients had me.  I had to have it!   Peruvian purple potatoes (my fave!), feta (love!), rosemary, roasted tomatoes, garlic, motz and the piece de resistance, Castelvetrano olives (OMG YUM!).  I'd go so far as to say if your description includes the words Castelvetrano olives, I'm ordering whatever that is.  To say this was good would not do it justice.   Saying it was delicious isn't enough.  This was stunning.  Outstanding.  Gorgeous.  Gimme that pie now!!!!!

Look at that crust.  Charred where it should be.  Bubbled just enough.  Feta, tomatoes, olives which anywhere else would be called the Mediterranean.  Salted Dough calls it the Peruvian Chicken to highlight those nuggets and not be lumped in with all the other Mediterranean's out there.  Yum.

Our second choice was the Pork Conundrum.  Porky goodness!  So much porky goodness!   This pie had a bit of tomato sauce, pork shoulder, house made porchetta, salami, pepperoni and motz with some fresh basil over the top.   This pie was no conundrum.  I was not the least bit confused by my feelings for this pizza.  Pork, pork and more pork.  How can anything about this be bad?  It can't.  It's wonderful.  

All in all, Salted Dough lived up to every expectation I had and then some.  I cannot wait to go back!  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ramp Season is Here!

Some love them, some hate them, some don't have a clue what they are, some just think the hype is overblown.  Me?  I rather enjoy the ramp.  It's a little oniony, a little leeky, a little garlicky.  The window of opportunity to get them is very brief in the spring.  This year with my ramps I decided to make some ramp risotto.

Start with a big old bunch of ramps.

They are actually easier to clean than a leek and you can use the whole thing, green and all.  Clean them up, chop them up and add them to the pot you cook your risotto in with 3 Tablespoons of olive oil (extra virgin if I'm making it) and a Tablespoon of unsalted butter.  

Saute for about 5 minutes.... no browning really is required here, you just want to start to soften the ramps.  After the 5 minutes, add a cup of Arborio rice (or any other short grain risotto rice you prefer).  And stir it into the ramps for 2-3 minutes, coating the rice in the oil/butter.  To that add a half cup of white wine.  Stir until the wine is absorbed.  

Then it's business as usual in the risotto game.  Add a ladle-ful of broth to the pot and stir until completely absorbed.  Then add another, doing the same stirring game each time.  One cup or rice should use about 4-5 cups of liquid.  You can use water, but why do that if you can use broth?  You don't have to make your own, unless you want to.  Use a good quality store bought broth (I pretty much exclusively use Kitchen Basics).  

It's getting there...

Sorry about the steam!

Keep adding and stirring....

I said above to stir broth until completely absorbed and that's what most recipes for risotto will say. But I have found this to be a little less than true.  I have stopped stirring when I make risotto.  Not for long stretches, but I don't continually stir the whole time.  In fact when I was making this yesterday I was also making a salad at the same time.  So broth added, stir it for a minute, go cut some cucumbers, come back and stir until absorbed.   Same thing with tomatoes for the salad, etc.   You really shouldn't stop for long stretches, which I don't, but a minute here and there, I have found to not be an issue.  

When the rice will no longer accept another drop of broth, it's time to stir, cook and let it thicken up a little.  You don't want it stiff, but I don't like my risotto like porridge either.  No soupy risotto please!   It should be soft and creamy.  At the end of the cooking, add half a cup of Parmesan cheese and before you know it, it's done!   

I was rather fond of this ramp risotto.  I think I'll make it again next Spring!   
Mangia!  :)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Butternut Squash Soup

At the moment I have an over abundance of butternut squash.  I didn't grow it but it's so cheap in the stores once fall hits that I stock up since it lasts so long in a cool, dry place.  Previously I have posted recipes for Butternut Squash Pasta, Butternut Squash Risotto, and Roasted Veggies including Butternut Squash.  I do love me some butternut!  It's a very versatile and pretty darn easy to worth with veg.

Case in point, this soup is about as simple as it gets and it's all kinds of yum!   In a big pot heat up 2 Tablespoons of olive oil (by now you probably know I'm an extra virgin kind of gal.  What can I say, my Catholic upbringing keeps a soft spot in my heart for any virgin!).  Add one small onion chopped or as I used here, half of a large onion.  I strictly use whatever sweet onion is in season and they tend to be larger than your average boiling onion.  Add about a teaspoon of salt.  If you're going to used canned/boxed broth, keep your salting to a minimum since those tend to contain a lot of salt.  And a few grinds of pepper.

You just want to sweat the onions and get them soft.  Minimal to no browning so keep the temperature on the burner low.  

Peel and chop one medium sized butternut squash.

Medium dice is just fine.  It doesn't really matter because in the end they will be blended into a puree anyway.  Talk lightly again, and pepper too if desired.  Saute the squash with the onions for a few minutes, not long.  You just want to get the cooking process going.  At this point you can add a few grinds of nutmeg to the squash if desired.  Add four to 5 cups of broth.  Now, you can use homemade stock/broth (ideal) if you have it, or you can use canned or boxed broth.  My person fave is Kitchen Basics.  It's lower in salt than most and if you want you can get it completely unsalted.  It has a great flavor and it's made right here in Northeast Ohio.

I used one carton of Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock because I completely forgot I had my own homemade vegetable stock in the freezer.  Doh!   And I added an extra cup of water.  The carton is four cups.   Simmer the stock/squash mixture until the squash is fork tender.  This takes about 20 minutes or so.  Just insert a fork or knife into a piece of squash and if the knife goes in easy and slides right out, you're good.  Hmmm that sounds dirty. ;)

Turn the eat off and then take our your handy dandy immersion blender and blend that soup up into a puree! Immersion blenders are easy peasy to use, but if you don't have one you can use a food processor or you can use a regular blender.  Just be very careful and do it in small amounts because the hot soup will splatter.  

Once it was done I added some finely chopped sage, not a lot, sage is a very strong flavor but it goes very well with butternut squash.  Truth be told I probably would have added it before it was pureed if I had it, but I didn't so I added it after.  I liked it this way very much and liked seeing the specs of green in all the orange.  

This soup is so tasty and so easy to make.  All totaled, it took about 40 minutes to make, if that.  The hardest part is peeling the butternut.  There is no butter, no cream and a minimum of oil.  All in all, not too shabby!  


Friday, September 25, 2015

The Great Pumpkin Spice Experiment

With the surge in pumpkin spiced everything over the last few years, I decided to run a little experiment.  While doing my weekly grocery shopping I was going to snap a picture of everything that I saw that was pumpkin flavored or pumpkin spiced.  But my rule was that I had to happen by it, not go looking (if I did that I'd be there all night!)   Here is my compilation of pictures from three grocery stores tonight to which I'll add more as the weeks go by.

Added 11/15

Added 11/15

(added 11/12)

(Added 11/12)

I'm not sure how I feel about this (Added 11/6)

I know how I feel about this... NO.  (added 11/6)

Oy.  (added 11/6)

I'm surprised I didn't see this sooner (added 11/6)

That doesn't sound good to me at all  (added 10/30)

Not a speck of fudge on these Fudge Stripes (added 10/30)

Pumpkin Spice Kahlua!?  NO NO NO!!!!  (added 10/30)

Added 10/23

Goat Cheese?  Really?  added 10/23

Cheese again!?   added 10/23

Added 10/18

Added 10/18

New addition 10/17

New addition 10/17 - Ew!!!!

New addition 10/17

New addition 10/17 - Is this like pumpkin stove top?  Gross!

Thomas's English Muffins

Thomas's Bagels


I admit I do like this

Tried it, thought I liked it... not so  much.
Pumpkin Chips??

I think this one shocked me most... Nestle morsels??

So there you have it, it's a cornucopia of pumpkin products.  Pumpkin lovers rejoice!   Everyone else, it'll be peppermint season soon ;)