Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Savory Carbonara Torta

   Tonight was one of my favorite nights when I just went into the kitchen and winged it. I had a craving for pasta carbonara but wanted to put a little twist on it, so I grabbed all the usual suspects and went to work. First off I boiled a 1/2 lb of mezza rigatoni, but you can use any pasta of your choice. After it was cooked I tossed it with 2 tablespoons of butter, a bunch of chopped parsley and plenty of fresh cracked black pepper. Next I fried up 1/2 lb of bacon, drained and chopped it and set it aside. Then I finely diced 1 cup of cheese, I used muenster but you can use anything you like. Next I scrambled 8 eggs with 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of a grated blend of 50/50 parmesan and romano cheese. I tossed all the ingredients together and put it in a greased spring form pan, baked it at 375 until set, about 40 minutes. This was one of the most yummy comfort foods I have ever made, good for breakfast, lunch or dinner a must try!!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Italian Bread Balls aka Poor man's Meatballs

    My mom used to make these whenever the Italian bread was going stale, or if money was a little tight (poor man's meatballs). They are delicious so don't wait until the bread is stale to make these. They're a great side dish with a nice bowl of pasta. You can also use this for stuffed peppers or tomatoes. Make them bite size for a cocktail party, perfect finger food!!

1 loaf of ciabatta bread diced into small pieces, day old is best
1 2 oz can of anchovy fillets, the oil too
1 6 oz can of black olives roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of capers chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic grated
1/2 cup of grated parmesan
1 egg
olive oil about a cup more or less
fresh herbs of your choice, I used parsley and rosemary chopped
fresh cracked black pepper

Add all ingredient into a large bowl and mix well, use your hands it's the easiest way to combine. You may have to add some water to hold in together. Shape into balls, I flatten them a bit for easier frying. Chill about an hour. Fry until golden and enjoy!!!

* Don't add any salt!!
** They're yummy cold too!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pasta con Piselli e Pancetta Carla's Way

So tonight I tried to improve on one of my Italian heritages peasant dishes, pasta with peas and bacon. First off I added sliced cherry tomatoes with an addition of one of my favorite shape of pastas and cheese, because I love cheese!! So here is what I did, first off for the sauce I used:
4oz of pancetta, crisped and removed from the pan
2-3 tablespoons butter
1 small shallot finely chopped
1/2 cup dry prosecco or dry white wine
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
2 cups diced fresh mozzarella
1/2 cup heavy cream
fresh parsley and thyme
salt and pepper to taste
First I crisped the pancetta and removed it from the pan, drained off a little of the grease, next I added the butter and shallots to the pan and sauteed for about 3 minutes. Now deglaze with the wine pulling up all the brown bits, that's where all the flavor is, and simmer about 3-4 minuted. Add the frozen peas and sliced cherry tomatoes and turn the heat off to rest. Meanwhile turn the pasta water on to boil.

Now add the cream to the pan.

Simmer about 5 minutes, add the cooked pasta, simmer another 3 minutes or so and toss in the mozzarella and herbs. Top with the crispy pancetta and serve.
*garnish with some fresh grated cheese
**a side of garlic bread, tossed salad and a glass of wine would make a perfect dinner!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Baby Kale, Black Olives And Capers Cavatelli

Just a simple blog tonight. Yesterday's simple side dish became tonight's pasta dinner. I love to re purpose leftovers, Sunday I made a simple sauteed dish of baby kale, black olives, capers, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper for dinner and hubbs refused to even taste it so I had lots leftover. He had to work overtime tonight so I cooked for me, myself and I, everything I like!! No real recipe here yesterday I just toss into a skillet 2 cloves of sliced garlic, some sliced black olives,(about one cup), a handful of capers, a few tablespoons of olive oil, a bag of baby kale and salt and pepper to taste. Tonight I tossed the leftover kale into a skillet and added a few chunks of butter and red pepper flakes to reheat. I boiled up 1lb of ricotta cavatelli and tossed it in the skillet with a little of the pasta water, topped with some grated parmesan and just that easy dinner was served in about 20 minutes tops!!
*Any green and pasta will work
**I think a little lemon zest would have really brightened the whole dish, next time

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Shiitake Mushroom Duxelle

     Today I decided to make stuffed chicken breast for Sunday dinner so I raided my fringe and decided as I went along how the dish was going to turn out, my favorite way to cook!!
For the stuffing I used:
1 lb of shiitake mushrooms finely chopped
1 shallot finely chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
2 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup marsala
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley 
some diced cheese of your choice
salt and pepper to taste
In a skillet melt the butter, add the shallots and garlic, cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the chopped mushrooms and cook until all the liquid is evaporated and slightly brown. Season with salt and pepper and deglaze with the marsala wine. Now add the heavy cream, cheese and parsley and set aside to cool.

    Now prepare the chicken breast to be stuffed, butterfly and season with salt and pepper, spread the mushroom mixture over top and I also added some diced cheese. Roll and secure with toothpicks. Season some flour with salt and pepper and roll the chicken in it to coat, set aside in the fridge for about 1/2 hour to firm up.

 Now add 2 tablespoons of butter and an equal amount of olive oil to a skillet and brown the chicken lightly on all sides, transfer to a baking dish. Put the chicken in the oven and move on to make a pan gravy in the same skillet. I had about a tablespoon of the mushroom stuffing left over so I added it to the skillet, degalze the pan with a little more marsala, a splash or two. Then I added a 14 1/2 oz can of chicken stock and reduced by half. Now I added another 1/4 cup of heavy cream and thicken it with about a tablespoon of beurre manie (equal amounts of butter and flour kneaded together) simmer for about 3-4 minutes.

 Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for about 5 minutes, slice and top with the gravy.
*Make sure you have time to make this it takes a while
**The beurre manie is the best way to thicken sauces and gravy's, I always have some on hand in the fridge
***I served this with a side of baby kale sauteed with garlic, olives and capers and rice pilaf

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rigatoni and Mushrooms Marsala with Bacon and Peas

Tonight was a grab out of the fridge and create as you go night, my favorite way of cooking. Mushrooms were buy one get two free at my local grocer this week so I had 2 10 oz packages to use up. I also had some bacon that needed to be used so this is what I came up with.
2 10 oz packages of white mushrooms
5 strips of bacon fried, chopped and set aside
a handful of frozen peas
1 shallot finely chopped
1/4 cup marsala
1 can of chicken broth 
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon of flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
a sprinkling of parmesan
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley 
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 lb pasta of your choice I used rigatoni

First I added the butter and the oil to a large skillet, then I added the shallots and cooked for about 3 minutes. Then I added the mushrooms and cooked until nice and caramelized about 5 minutes on medium high heat seasoning with salt and pepper. Next I sprinkled the flour over top and cooked for another minute or so, I deglazed the pan with the marsala and cooked another minute. Then I added the chicken stock, peas and heavy cream and reduced it a tiny bit. Set the sauce to simmer until the pasta is cooked. Drain the pasta and add to the pan, add the bacon, parsley and cheese and serve.
*save some of the pasta water just in case it's a little dry
**crusty bread for sopping up the juices is a must

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Blackened Salmon with Chipotle Yogurt Sauce

     I love salmon, I especially like Irish salmon, it's a little fattier and slightly less fishy. I usually grill steak's on Saturday nights but we have had so much snow this winter I couldn't make my way to the grill so off the the fish market I went. I was in the mood for something spicy and trying to watch my weight so this is what I came up with.
For the salmon:
1 nice piece of salmon skin removed, this piece was just about 1 lb
equal amount of adobo, cumin, old bay, smoked paprika, dry mustard, cayenne, and tajin
salt and pepper to taste
mix all the spices together really well and coat the top and bottom of the salmon, next get a dry skillet really hot, I used a non stick, and sear the salmon really well get some good color on both sides. Transfer it to a baking dish and finish it in the oven, about 15 minutes on 350.
For the yogurt sauce: 
1 cup plain non fat yogurt
2 chipotles in adobo chopped
1 tsp mayo
1 tsp of adobo
1 tsp tajin
1 tsp lemon juice, or lime 
salt and pepper to taste
mix together really well

I decided to use the yogurt to make the sauce, I usually use mayo, to bring down the calories and just added a little mayo for some punch, it worked perfectly and saved a lot of calories! I made extra for sandwich spread, salad dressing or anything. I served this with a side of Israeli couscous and steamed broccoli, the whole plate was only 750 calories!!

*I had the fish man remove the skin because I'm hopeless at it
**I think this would have been better with lime juice instead of lemon but I didn't have any
*** Tajin is a Mexican chili blend with lime

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sole and Bay Scallops Italiano

I've been trying to eat healthy after all the holiday's indulgence. The simple dinner I came up with tonight is only 314 calories a serving. With a side of couscous makes a total calorie dinner at 604, not too shabby!!! Here is what I did. It only took 20 minutes or so to put this meal together. 
for the baked fish:
1lb of flounder or sole
1/4 lb of bay scallops
20-30 grape tomatoes sliced
3/4 cup of sliced black olives sliced
2 tablespoons of capers in vinegar
2 tablespoons of chopped shallots
3 tablespoons of olive oil
a splash of white wine 
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
a sprinkle of fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Just layer all the ingredients, first fish, season with salt and pepper, next the tomatoes, olives, capers, shallots  and parsley. Drizzle with oil and re season. Set aside if needed, just before you put it in the oven add wine and lemon. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes.
for the couscous:
1 cup of tri color Israeli couscous
1 1/4 cups of water
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of grated parmesane 
salt and pepper to taste
bring the water, butter, salt and pepper to a boil add the couscous and simmer until all the liquid is evaporated. Toss with parsley and cheese.
*you can use any fish of your choice it will all work perfectly!!
** any starch will work good too!!
***a nice salad and a good white wine makes a perfect Saturday night dinner!!!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pasta Aglio Olio and Alici with Bay Scallops and Spinach

     My favorite times in the kitchen are when I go in and just start grabbing ingredients, mixing and tasting and creating something original, this is what I came up with tonight. I took my go to pasta with anchovies, garlic and oil and added some things that I had to use up from my weeks groceries and it turned out delicious!!
For the sauce I used:
6 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
1 can of black olives sliced
1 can of anchovies
1 lb of bay scallops
1 bag of baby spinach
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 big pinches of crushed hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of butter
salt and pepper to taste
1lb linguine 
First I added the garlic, olives, anchovies, olive oil and red pepper flakes to a skillet, heated on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes. Next I added the scallops and butter and turned off the heat. I put a pot of salted water on to boil and cooked the pasta. When the pasta was almost cooked I turned the flame back on the sauce, added the spinach and some starchy pasta water until just heated, then I added the pasta to the skillet and just heat through for a few minutes.

Next I made a topping that I am sure I showed you before, it's just some panko bread crumbs mixed with seasonings. Tonight I seasoned them with parsley, lemon zest, red hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper tossed with enough olive oil to moisten but they stay crunchy.
*Start with a basic oil and garlic sauce in a skillet and the possibilities are endless, use left overs...
**A nice crunchy loaf of Italian bread, a tossed salad, and a nice bottle of wine and dinner is complete for a casual get together!!
***This dinner only took 15 minutes if that to put together!!! Quick, easy and yummy!!!!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Mozzarella en Carozza and Potato Croquettes

   Two of my childhood favorites, actually its Italian peasant food, hearty and filling for very little money. Two very easy dishes that go great with a nice homemade soup. The potato croquettes are always made with left over mashed potatoes that are doctored up with seasoning and a little surprise in the middle. The mozzarella en carozza is a cross between grilled cheese and savory french toast. No precise recipes here just methods. For the mozzarella en carozza, translated means mozzarella in a carriage, simply put sliced mozzarella between two slices of preferably italian bread, dredge in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, the coat with beaten eggs also seasoned and shallow fry in equal amounts of olive oil and butter until golden brown and the cheese is all melted and oozing. For the potato croquettes, mix the left over mashed potatoes with anything that is not too moist, left over veggies of any kind, fresh herbs ect., add a beaten egg and enough bread crumbs so they hold together nicely and you can form a patty. Now the fun part, tuck a nice surprise in the center of the patty, my favorite is ham and cheese. At this point I crust the patties in panko bread crumbs and shallow fry once again in oil only until golden and yummy. Well there you have it I hope you try one or the other next time you put a pot of soup on the stove, add a nice salad and your good to go.