8. Italian French Fries with Rosemary Aioli

Who knew that french fries could be so difficult? I had the hardest time taking a good picture of these things! Nevertheless, I found a way to show the yumminess of these fries. Everything is homemade, including the aioli, which was indeed my first time making it.

French fries make me happy though. I usually always order them if I go out for happy hour or if there’s a bar menu. It’s always exciting to see what kind of aioli restaurants and cooks come up with to pair with fries. I’ve seen all kinds: saffron, truffle, rosemary, anchovy (yes, from the little smelly fish anchovies!) and spicy. I love them all! You can also use aioli for sandwiches instead of plain mustard or mayonnaise. And making it from scratch is kinda exciting! Eggs and oil, simple as that. I’m not sure though how the store bought mayonnaise is so white! Every recipe I’ve seen gives it a yellowish tint from the egg yolk, unless your adding a ton  of olive oil…. hmm.. Mysterious!

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What I learned is to cut the potatoes the long way into semi-thin slices, then stack them on each other and cut into fries. I like leaving the skin on, it adds more flavor! I deep fried these in oil and then dressed them up with Italian seasoning, swiss cheese, salt/pepper and  drizzled the aioli ( 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of dijon mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil very slowly added as your beating the eggs on pretty high speed. You can add 1 tsp. of garlic and cayenne or more to taste!) on top.

 

4 appetizers down, just a few more to go! Then we move onto Salads, then soups, then entrees and finally desserts!

 

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7. Citrus Marinated Olives

To be honest, I’m not a fan of olives! I’d eat them if I had to, but I’m not crazy about them. Being a chef though, you’ve got to remember that it’s about the people’s likes, not yours! Olives are extremely vital to Italian cuisine.. hmm I wonder why?? Haha.

This appetizer off of my menu combines salty, briny Sicilian Green olives with  garlic, citrus (oranges), olive oil, peppers with a dash of cumin and parsley.  It’s got an interesting taste, maybe one that needs to be acquired, especially if your not an “olive” type of person. I imagine they would go great with a cold dirty (or clean, since you’re eating olives!) martini.

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The idea here is to let them marinate obviously. If you’re planning on eating them the same day, leave them out at room temp. for 2-3 hours in the marinade. If you need them tomorrow or another day, put in them in a container, covered and chill for up to 4-5 days. I assume the longer you marinate them, the better they are!

Take 1 Cup of Sicilan Green Olives (like from an olive bar at a local grocery store)

3/4 cup. Olive oil

1 Orange, cut up into slices (plus save the rind for zesting)

1/2 tsp. cumin and parsley (each)

A few julienned slices (cut into long thin strips) of red  pepper

A few julienned slices of banana pepper

4 tsp. minced garlic

Cooking on low heat, put everything except the oranges and olives in a pan for 16 minutes, letting the mixture become aromatic and stirring occasionally. Pour the olives in a bowl and put a few slices of the orange in it as well. Set aside and let those marry! Once the olive oil mixture is cooked, let that sit for 30 minutes and pour that over the olives/oranges. Zest the rind of the unused orange over the olives and either let sit for 2-3 hours or cover and chill for up to 5 days. Grab a martini and enjoy!

5. Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus

Well, I did it! The first of many challenges. Today we have a delicious appetizer from my menu: pancetta wrapped asparagus with a fried egg and a delicious, creamy hollandaise sauce. It was delicious. I was very proud of myself! I’ll let the pictures do the 1,000 word speaking!

BEFORE                                                                                                                                    

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 AFTER 

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I have to admit, I was super nervous this morning when I was thinking about how to prepare it, plate it and if the pictures would turn out good! Whew! Glad there wasn’t much to worry about.  This all in all, was a fairly easy dish to make and it turned out beautifully right? The recipe for this was pretty simple as you’ll see.

First, I took the asparagus and washed them. I cut off the ends, grouped them in “4’s”  and set them aside. Next, I took the pancetta (2 slices for each group) and wrapped it around each group of four. I sprinkled each group with olive oil, salt and pepper, put it on a cookie sheet and into the oven at 400 degrees for approx 30 min.

Next, I made my version of hollandaise sauce. You’ll need (for 1 cup serving) 3 egg yolks, dash of salt, 2 tablespoons of orange juice, 1 tsp of cumin (gives it a savory and nutty flavor), 1 tsp of cayenne pepper (more if you like spicy!) and 1/2 a cup of melted, hot butter.  Start by pulsing the eggs, orange juice, cumin and cayenne with a hand held mixer for 30-35 seconds. Slowly add the butter; you’ll start seeing the sauce thicken and get creamy. Once all the butter is added, set sauce aside.

Finally, I made the egg. Here’s a nice tip: cook the egg on medium low in vegetable oil and spoon the oil in the pan over the yolk and whites and you’ll get a nice shiny yolk and firm white area, which makes it look great and easy to handle.  Then just assemble how you want to!

That’s it! Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus. Tell me what you think of it! Leave a comment, share with your friends/family and for once, try this at home!