Chef Silvia’s Q & A

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 2:03
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Our resident Chef is always available to answer any of your food/cooking questions. Here are a few of our most recent Questions and Chef Sylvia’s responses…

Reader’s Question: Please advise a wonderful summer menu I can make for my family. Thank you.

Chef Silvia’s Answer:
Hi Chris,
In the summer I like to take advantage of the fruits and vegetables readily available from my garden or ones I can purchase from the farmer’s market. I also like to keep dishes simple, without any sacrifice of taste. With that said, here is one of my favorite menus and the accompanying recipes. Finish this delicious menu with a dish of vanilla ice cream and some sliced peaches and your family or guests will be in heaven.
Let me know how it turns out. —Chef Silvia

*Tomato and Onion Salad
*Angel Hair pasta with Sauteed Grape tomatoes, goat cheese and arugula
*Pine nut crusted filet of wild salmon with a fresh fruit salsa

Tomato and Onion Salad
(Serves 3 – 4)
2-3 large ripe tomatoes
½ red onion–sliced thin
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 large basil leaves
In a large bowl slice the tomatoes in bite size random pieces. Add the onions, the oil, the basil and the seasoning. Toss and set aside for no less than 30 minutes, allowing the juice from the tomatoes to be infused with the oil. Check the seasoning and adjust–if necessary. Toss again and serve.

Tomatoes with Goat Cheese and Arugula over Angel-Hair Pasta- 4 servings
1 pound angel-hair pasta
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 medium clove garlic, minced
10-12 oz. ripe grape or cherry tomatoes–cut in half
3 to 4 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 cup Marinara Sauce (see below) (this is optional but serves to give more flavor and body to the sauce)
1/2 cup chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
7 or 8 fresh arugula leaves, slivered
Cook the pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling, salted water.

While the pasta cooks, put the olive oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds, or just until the garlic begins to brown. Cook the tomatoes for about 30 seconds, or until they just begin to soften, then add the wine and cook for 1 minute more. Add the Marinara Sauce and chicken broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 1 minute, or until the sauce is a light broth and the tomatoes are softened yet still firm. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, drain the pasta and toss it in a large bowl with about half the liquid part of the sauce. Divide the pasta among individual serving plates, top each serving with some of the remaining liquid, and distribute the tomatoes among the servings. Top each serving with goat cheese and sprinkle with the slivered arugula.

Perfect Basic Marinara Sauce??
1 can crushed tomatoes (one with no added garlic or herbs) *?
2 tablespoons olive oil (or enough to just cover the bottom of the pan
1 clove fresh garlic–finely chopped?
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes?

1/4 chicken broth? (this is optional, however it adds flavor and liquid to a sauce that may be too thick.
1 sprig of fresh basil (one with multiple attached leaves) or parsley?
Salt and pepper to taste??
In a medium saucepan over medium heat add oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds or until golden. Follow quickly with the tomatoes and then the broth. Add the basil, lower the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes until the sauce is cooked (no raw tomato taste) and sweet. ??
*Note: Experiment with different brands of crushed tomatoes. Try ones that have no added puree, garlic or herbs. These will change the taste of purely delicious tomatoes. It is best to add these fresh when you make the sauce. ??Use this sauce in every dish that calls for a tomato sauce. Use it over pasta of course or make it in a large sauté pan and use it as the foundation for poaching a filet of fish, shrimp, chicken, or other meat or even eggs and you have a low fat, delicious dish that is so satisfying and always open to variations. ?

Pine Nut Crusted Wild Salmon with a Tomato and Fruit Salsa
4 filets of wild salmon
4 cups of salsa
1 cup of pine nut topping
Salt and pepper to taste
Place wild on a baking pan (sprayed with a cooking spray -Season with salt and pepper
Cover the top completely with the pine nut topping -Bake in a 350 degree oven covered for approx. 15 minutes (depending n the thickness of the fish) or until the fish turns opaque .Serve on a large platter and surround it with salsa
Pine Nut Topping
1 cup pine nuts
1 cup bread crumbs (or panko)
1 sprig fresh flat leaf parsley (stems removed)
Place all ingredients in a food processor and chop to a course grind (if too dry add more nuts. If too sticky, add more bread crumbs).

A salsa can be made with any seasonal fruits and vegetables. However berries don’t work well.. Any and all ingredients are optional. Here however is one of my favorite combos.
Dice all ingredients, except when noted otherwise, into a medium dice
Add salt, pepper and parsley/Add oil and toss
1 cup of grape tomatoes (sliced vertically in half)
1 mango
1 orange
2 kiwi
1 red onion
1 green pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

Reader’s Question: ” when your hand rolled lasagna is put into the oven would the lasagna not dry out and if so is there a liquid i could put in the oven tray while cooking to prevent this from happening????

Chef’s Answer:
Hi Jason,
No the lasagna doesn’t dry out…as long as the pan is covered with foil. There is enough moisture in the filling to keep is moist, however the top will dry out if uncovered…Also just put it in the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes (depending on how many pieces are on the tray) or just until the inside is warm and the filling just begins to ooze out.
Thanks for asking, Silvia

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