Melanzane al Pomodoro

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Cooking Melanzane al Pomodoro is perfect this time of year when farms are abundant with eggplant and tomatoes. My Eggplant Sauce recipe is without a meat/protein in the ingredients, but feel free to add grilled sausage, chicken, or shrimp if desired. If you are looking for that under thirty minutes to-cook-to-table dish without compromising flavor for time, this is it. And, you can create variations on this recipe, which is very easy to do. 

This pasta sauce is great served warm or chilled added with a tube shaped pasta.

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George's Eggplant Sauce

Makes 4 servings 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | from George Hirsch Living it UP! Cookbook

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups eggplant, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

8 cloves garlic, chopped

6 plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup pitted calamata olives, chopped

1/2 cup white whine

1 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano, thyme, hot pepper flakes

2 Tablespoons pine nuts

2 Tablespoons fresh basil

parmesan cheese to taste and fresh black pepper

Preheat a large nonstick saucepan.  

Add half the olive oil; then eggplant, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and bell pepper.  Cook until light brown.  Add the wine, chicken broth, olives, dried basil, oregano, thyme and hot sauce.  Cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

Top with remaining olive oil, fresh basil and pine nuts.

Excellent with a rigatoni or tube shape pasta.

Divided BY Chowder

Celebrating Chef George's 24th Anniversary on PBS

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 Wed 8:30AM/2:30PM Sun 8:30AM

If there is one thing I have learned as a chef there as many versions of chowder recipes as there are people who enjoy this soup, err..I mean stew..no I think soup?  

George Hirsch Chowder

Each of my cookbooks and TV series has a version of some sort of a chowder recipe. I have judged chowder contests, participated in chef chowder tastings, and been a referee at a few chowder-boxing matches. Well, not really, but people do get heated up over red or white chowder. 

What really is chowder? The word "chowder" comes from the French word chaudiere, or caldron, the vessel in which the dish was cooked. And, derives from the word "jowter," meaning fishmonger, a term that was used in 16th century coastal regions of England.

George Hirsch Seafood

Is it a soup or stew? Early versions of chowder simmered from the New England area and was basically a frugal recipe of pork fat, onions, potatoes, fish, herbs, dry biscuits or flour for thickening, layered in a pot and cooked in water, with a little milk added at the end. In the 1800’s the Manhattan clam chowder was notable because it contains tomatoes. James Beard described Manhattan clam chowder "that rather horrendous soup called Manhattan clam chowder resembles a vegetable soup that accidentally had some clams dumped into it." All respect Mr. Beard, but those are fighting words. As a New Yorker and from coastal Long Island, an East Ender we take our chowder VERY serious. See, how a discussion on chowder can turn into a sparring match.

Tomato-based clam chowders came about with the newfound popularity of the tomato in the mid-1800s with the large population of Italians and Portuguese in New York and Rhode Island region. Still, there is no chowder harmony. In 1939, Maine legislators introduced a bill outlawing the use of tomatoes in chowder because it is far more of a vegetable soup. What? 

I can end this entire soup divide right now. Aside from any vegetables, corn, chicken or other non-seafarer ingredient for the stew--here are three versions you can enjoy from my TV series and cookbooks. They have satisfied many and with hope can prevent a nation from future chowder conflict. 

Manhattan vs. New England Chowder N.E. not my fav..

Seafood Chowder Yes, now this is a stew!

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Summer Corn Chowder

Celebrating Chef George's 24th Anniversary on PBS

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It's time for a summer soup. Make magic with the goodness from the earth, simply with corn and potatoes.

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One my most often requested soup recipes especially during summer when the farms are so abundant with fresh candy-like corn, and our famous Long Island East End Yukon Potatoes. 

It is known that eastern Long Island has some of the best soil for farming in the world. Off the record I have had some farmers tell me - that farmers in other regions are envious over the rich well drained earth here on the East End. 

Summer Corn Chowder

Makes four-six servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 Tablespoon olive oil 

4 Tablespoons pancetta or bacon, chopped

3/4 cup chopped sweet onion, chopped 

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 

1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 

1/2 cup chopped carrot, chopped 

1/2 cup chopped celery, chopped 

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour 

4 cups chicken broth 

2 cups corn, (about 4 ears) fresh cut from cob; or leftover grilled corn

1 cup Yukon potatoes, well scrubbed skin left on, chopped 1/4 inch pieces

1 bay leaf 

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped 

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce 

pinch of sea salt

fresh ground black pepper

1/2 cup half-half 

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Pre heat a soup pot to medium temperature. Add olive oil and pancetta, cook until light brown. Add onion, garlic and chicken and cook until lightly colored. 

Add carrot, celery and cook three to four minutes. Add flour, cook for two minutes and slowly add chicken broth. Bring soup to a boil, add corn, potatoes, thyme, hot sauce and bay leaf. Simmer soup for 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

Pre heat half-half, add sea salt, pepper to soup and top with fresh chopped parsley.

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My Favorite Risotto

Risotto is a traditional rice dish from Northern Italy, specifically Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto. It was introduced by Arabian people who dominated Sicily and parts of the Southern mainland in the late Middle Ages.  

A mainstay of Milanese cuisine, Risotto Milanese is prepared using beef stock and saffron which is served with Osso Bucco. When using rice to make a risotto, choose short-grained round or semi-round rice; among the best rices for making risotto are Arborio, Vialone Nano, and Carnaroli.

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I have enjoyed many excellent prepared risotto dishes. One of the most memorable was made my cousin Mauro’s wife Anna, while in Rome. Anna’s risotto is made with pesto and is meant for basil lovers like myself. Her combination is culinary kismet; the perfume-rich tasty herb coats every grain of rice. The other master of risotto is Chef Antonio Cereda, with his Porcini Risotto. Antonio, my friend from Northern Italy is the Executive Chef on Princess Cruises. His Porcini Risotto marries the mellow earthiness of fungi with creamy velvety rice.

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Shrimp Risotto with Asparagus

Makes 4 servings 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 lb. uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined 

2 teaspoons dried basil 

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil 

Fresh ground black pepper 

1 small onion, chopped 

4 slices Pancetta, roughly chopped 

1 cup Arborio rice 

2- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth, hot 

3 Tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped 

1 Tablespoon lemon juice 

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel 

1 cup half & half 

1 cup fresh asparagus tips or fresh baby spinach 

Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Pre heat a large sauce pan to medium heat. 

Season shrimp with basil, black pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add shrimp to pan, sear on each side for one minute and set aside. Do not fully cook. 

In the same sauce pan add 1 tablespoon Olive Oil, onion and pancetta. Cook onion and pancetta 4-5 minutes but do not brown. Add Arborio rice and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Slowly add 1/2 cup broth, stirring constantly for 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Lower temperature to a low, gentle simmer. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently every 4-5 minutes or as rice absorbs all of the broth until rice becomes tender. 

Return seared shrimp back into pan with risotto and cook for two to three minutes, until shrimp is fully cooked or until shrimp turn pink. 

Cooking time will vary from 25-35 minutes, as will the amount of broth, depending on exact temperature of pan. 

Add half and half and fresh Parmesan cheese, to taste. Optional: Serve topped with steamed asparagus tips or fresh baby spinach. 

13 EPISODES on 4 HD-DVD Disk Set
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