Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stephanie's Cucina is Back!

Hi Everyone! Wow, it has been a while since my last entry. Things have been a little crazy in my life lately. I recently moved and have been way too distracted from my writing. But the good news is I am back and I have lots of great things to share with you!

Earlier this summer some of my good friends graduated from Cal Western School of Law here in San Diego. I watched them painstakingly study half of the summer away to prepare for the bar exam. Along the way, we had cooking and relaxing nights, but I really wanted to do something special for them during the exam. On the last day of the exam — CA Bar exam is an intensive 3-day event — I brought them a picnic lunch during their break. I was channeling the energy of one of my culinary idols, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) as I came up with the menu and plan.

I made french style sandwiches of fresh baguettes from the bakery down the street. I lightly buttered 12-inch sections of baguette with Kerrygold Irish Butter, then filled the sandwich with layers of prosciutto, dry salami, ham, Fontina cheese and Asiago cheese. As a side dish, I created my own new potato salad recipe (Bacon & Roasted Jalapeño Potato Salad A La Stephanie's Cucina) and also brought back the roasted corn salad I wrote about early this summer. We sat in the park and had a great relaxing lunch! A simple sparkling lemonade was served and we had fresh strawberries and chocolate for dessert.
I haven't perfected the potato salad recipe yet, but here is the general concept! Since I haven't truly recipe tested this for measurements, I will explain it the way I cook, by feel. Let me know if need to clarify anything.

Bacon & Roasted Jalapeño Potato Salad A La Stephanie's Cucina

6–8 Fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and halved
1 large sweet onion, halved and cut into long strips
1 head garlic
Olive Oil
About 2–3 pounds red skin potatoes, rough cut into bite size pieces
Dijon mustard
1–2 ounces cream cheese
1 lb bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
salt & pepper to taste

In a baking dish, toss together jalapeños, onion, olive oil and a touch of salt and pepper. Cut the top off the head of garlic, rub with olive oil and place in the dish to roast with the peppers and onions. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for about 45 minutes. Uncover for the last 5-10 minutes of roasting. Lager peppers may take longer, just keep and eye on them — they are done when both peppers and onions are soft and tender.

While the peppers and onions roast, boil the potatoes until tender and easily pierced with a sharp knife.

Drain potatoes and allow to cool slightly. Remove peppers and onions from baking dish, allow to cool slightly and chop into small pieces. Allow garlic to cool to the touch and squeeze the roasted garlic from the cloves. Combine potatoes, peppers and onions, bacon, garlic and cream cheese. Dress with olive oil, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Add olive oil and Dijon in small quantities and taste as you go. You can always add a touch more, but you can't take any away.

This would be a great recipe for then upcoming labor day weekend! You can add a touch of mayo if you would like, but leaving it out makes the dish a little more picnic friendly and there is less need to worry about keeping it on ice. Enjoy!


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