Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

We went to a restaurant I have been wanting to try for sometime. Elizabeth's Cafe. When we were engaged we went out for dinner on New Years Eve. That was 19 years ago. So obviously the New Years Eve dining out experience left a bad taste in our mouths. That all changed at Elizabeth's Cafe. We had reservations at 7pm along with a lot of other tables. But service was very good. The pace of the meal was not rushed at all. And the food... well I should have taken photos.

I started with St. Germain Cocktail which is make with Elderflower liqueur, prosecco and club soda. Yum. For appetizers I had Grilled Asparagus and Hen of the Woods Mushrooms
which was served with a Panko-coated and deep-fried poached Quail Egg, Parmigiano Reggiano Fondu, Crispy Prosciutto. Wow, I had never had a panko coated deep fried egg before never mind a quail egg. And the mushrooms were the same kind my dad use to pick. Delicious. Chris had the Lobster and Truffle Macaroni and Cheese. It was made with Petit Penne and Mascarpone Cheese. It could have been a meal itself. I have seen people using lobster in mac and cheese and now know why.

For dinner Chris had the Pan Seared Filet of Beef with Creamed Spinach on Brioche Toast and Truffle Sauce. I think he liked it. I had Red Snapper en Croûte with Melange of Seasonal Baby Vegetables in a Beurre Blanc Sauce. The crust was in the shape of a fish with the fins and even an eye. Very nice presentation and I just about cleaned my plate.

The food was not heavy and super rich, well except for the Lobster and Truffle Macaroni and Cheese, so we had dessert. Chris had the Warm Soft Chocolate Cake with Molten Dark Chocolate Center with Vanilla Ice Cream and I had the Fresh Fruit Tart. Both were very good. The Chocolate cake was the better of the two.

I tried a glass of Coppola Sofia Carneros Pinot Noir Rosé. It was a great meal and a memorable New Years. At least now when we think of eating out on New Years Eve the first think that will pop in our minds will not be speed dining.

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy new year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rosemary-Fig Chicken with Port

Today I wanted to eat something that was close to healthy. So I went to where I found the recipe for Rosemary-Fig Chicken with Port. It looked easy and I had all the ingredients in the house. Even the nutritional information at the end of the recipe looked okay.

It was delicious. I made the Golden Beet, Goat Cheese & Potato Gratin from A nod is a good as a wink to a blind horse blog. I had made this one other time but this time I had the Golden Beets (Whole Foods Market!). It was perfect with the chicken dish.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Whole Foods Visit

When some people are on vacation they go to places like Disney World or Universal Studios. I go to Whole Foods. Yes I am a foodie.

The Whole Foods store opened near us right before Thanksgiving. This was my first visit. I picked up my dad and off we went. It was really amazing. It was just like Stop and Shop or Big Y except the quality of the food was over the top. It was easier to find items that had very short ingredient lists. The prices varied. Some were the same as other grocery stores while some were higher. I have heard the name of the store be referred to as Whole Paycheck.

Cara Cara Pink Navel Oranges, Golden Beets, Whole Wheat Matza Ball mix were purchased. I was able to buy a 5 pound bag of bread flour (the store I shop in only sells a 3 pound box for almost the same price).

Also picked up dinner. The food to go section was very impressive. For dinner tonight we had roasted pork loin stuffed with cranberry-pecan stuffing, and roasted corn pudding. For Chris, I picked up some roasted butternut squash with dried cranberries. For myself, I got some roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta. The meal was fantastic.

When my dad and I got back from Whole Foods we fried up an eggplant he had bought.

Then when I got home I baked bread that I had started yesterday, Steeca, which is a small baguette. I think tomorrow I may take a day off from bread baking...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Caesar Salad and Pizza Bianca

Wow this is my 200th post!
Salad and bread. I loved the roast beast but needed a break. So tonight we had a Caesar Salad and Pizza Bianco. The pizza recipe came from the book My Bread by Jim Lahey. The way you make the breads in this book is so simple. Mix ingredients and walk away for 12 to 18 hours. The result was quite good. No cheese. Just olive oil and rosemary. Heaven.

The Caesar Salad is a variation of a recipe that was in Bon Appetit a while back.
For dressing -
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3/4 olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and mustard in processor. Blend. With processor running slowly add olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

For the Croutons I used what was left from the bread I made for Christmas day. I cut it in cubes and mixed it with thyme, rosemary, oregano and salt. I put the bread with the seasoning in a zip lock bag and added olive oil to the bag. Closed the bag and mixed up the contents. Put the bread cubes on a baking sheet and baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring once.

Not bad for a Monday...
Tomorrow I am going to Whole Foods for the first time. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Minestra Di Pasta Rasa (Soup with Shaved Pasta) and Roast Beef Paninis

So we have this leftover roast beef... Tonight paninis! I had the No Knead bread that I made for Christmas Day. Along with the roast beast on my panini I put mayo, horseradish, American Cheese, mushrooms and mozz cheese balls that were on the antipasto tray. It was so good.

I mentioned that I received the La Cucina cookbook. Tonight I made the first recipe from the book.

Minestra Di Pasta Rasa (Soup with Shaved Pasta). The version I made was from the Lombardia region. It was really tasty. The cheese and bread crumbs were very light... I think it just needed pepper.

Minestra Di Pasta Rasa
Ingredients -
3 large eggs, beaten
3 tbsp. breadcrumbs (I added at least a 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs for the consistency to be right)
Pinch grated nutmeg

1 quart broth
(I used chicken broth but I think a vegetable broth would be fine)
1 cup bean purée (This is at the end of the blog)

Combine the eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese, and nutmeg and knead to form a firm dough; season with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes, then grate the mixture, letting "shaved Pasta" fall onto a cloth to dry. Add the broth to the bean puree to create a broth. Bring this to a boil and cook the grated pasta in it quickly, stirring carefully. Pour into bowls and serve with cheese.

Bean Puree

1 14 oz can cannelini beans

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped


Heat the oil in a pot and saute the onion until it is well colored. Add the beans and pour in enough water to cover 2 inches. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Salt to taste. Place beans in food processor and puree. Return puree to soup.

The recipe in the book called for dried beans but being on vacation mode I did not have time for that. So I opted for the canned beans. The soup was delicious so I would say the change in the recipe was good.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Deviled Bones

'Twas the day after Christmas" and boy do we have left over beef. Found this recipe a while back and fortunately bookmarked it.

Deviled Bones
From "Bones," by Jennifer McLagan

Ingredients -
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 5 leftover beef rib bones
1 cup fresh bread crumbs

*PREHEAT the broiler to high. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in the mustard, cayenne and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper.
BRUSH the ribs with the spiced butter, then roll in the bread crumbs, coating well. Place in a broiler pan and broil, turning occasionally and basting with remaining butter, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

*I did not broil the ribs. I heated up the oven to reheat the domino potatoes and noticed the oven was smoking a bit... So I cranked the fan and opened a window and stayed close to the stove. I baked our ribs at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. And I will be cleaning the oven tomorrow...

So Santa did a great job this year. I received both of the cookbooks that were on my list! It will be a delicious new year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

December the 25th

Best version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol... "Scrooge", 1970 starring Albert Finney!

We had Christmas dinner at our house. This year it was just 5 of us but of course there was enough food for 10! We start of with cocktails and appetizers. I ordered a small antipasto tray from Bradley and Wall along with their Fried Goat Cheese Balls. We probably could have done without the goat cheese but I love them.

Next is my favorite dish. Cupalets. I am sure I am misspelling it, if anyone knows the correct spelling please let me know. My sister, Lenore and her husband make these every year with the left over Thanksgiving turkey. The pasta is homemade and she makes this wonderful chicken broth. My Aunt Nora use to make me a large bag of cupalets for my birthday. I loved getting that bag of frozen pasta!

Next was the Roast Beast. So I told the butcher I needed a roast for 5 possibly 6 people. 10 pounds is a lot for 5 people. Roast beef will be the main ingredient for many nights to come.

It is easy to prepare. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rub the roast with salt and pepper. Place the roast, bone side down, in a roasting pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 3 hours, or until meat thermometer registers 130 degrees. Let it rest about 10 minutes before serving.

Served Ginger Glazed Carrots and Domino Potatoes as side dishes. Also had Thyme Popovers from Cooking Light.

Carrots with Ginger Honey Glaze
2 1/2 pounds baby carrots
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp butter (1/4 stick)
1 tbsp finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Cook carrots in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain. Stir honey butter, fresh ginger and ground ginger in large skillet over low heat until blended. Mix in carrots. Cook carrots over medium-high heat until glaze thickens enough to coat, tossing occasionally. about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

We had a nice selection of wines. For the soup we had Lacryma Christi Del Vesuvio 2004 which is a Neapolitan wine produced on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius in Campania, Italy. Both of my parent's families came from the region of Campania. We also tasted a white wine that my dad made in 1993. He made it from the white grapes that were in the backyard. It smelled like the yard when the grapes were on the vines and the taste was exactly what the grapes tasted like. For the meat course we had Francis Coppola Director's Cut Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.
Dessert... what else - cookies!

It was a very nice day with family and cats. Archie helped out by watching over all the coats.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Feast of the 7 Fishes

Christmas Eve is my favorite meal. We had dinner at my sister's house.

We started off with Homemade Pasta and Fish Sauce.

Next they served the Lobster Tails and my favorite dish that my brother-in-law makes, Stuffed Calamari. Wow.

Here is the recipe-
For the sauce saute garlic in olive oil, add crushed tomatoes. For the stuffing, saute onions in olive oil and butter. Add parsley, crab meat and bread crumbs. Stuff the squid and put the squid and tentacles in the sauce and cook. Fantastic.

Next was the main course. Flounder with a Lobster Meat and Bread Crumb topping. Seafood Polpettes. Bacala Salad 2 ways. And rounding of the meal was my favorite vegetable, Broccoli.

Ralph out did himself this year with the Flounder. He sauteed onion and celery in olive oil and butter. Added the lobster meat and then the breadcrumbs until it had the consistency 0f a stuffing. Grease a baking pan. Place the fish on the pan and sprinkle it with salt and pepper and put the stuffing on top of the fish and bake.

The Bacala was used in the salads. One was spicy and one was sweet. I prefer the hot (spicy) salad. Some people refer to it as bait but that only means there is more for my plate!

The Seafood Polpettes are my contribution to the meal. I fried them outside on the deck this morning, I hate the smell of fried foods in the house. Yes it was cold but at least it was not snowing.

The recipe is from Biba's Italian Kitchen.

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1/2 pound medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound sea scallops
2 eggs, lightly beaten 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiana cheese
2 tablespoons plain bread crumbs, I used Panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups plain bread crumbs, I used Panko bread crumbs
Oil for frying, I used a vegetable oil

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until it is lightly golden and soft, 4 to 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer onion to a bowl and let cool.

Heat the remaining oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp and scallops and cook until golden on all sides, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer the fish to a bowl and cool.

Place cooled fish and onions in the bowl of a food processor and chop them into fine pieces (Do Not Puree Them). Put the mixture into a large bowl and add the eggs, cheese, bread crumbs, parsley and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Mix everything well with a wooden spoon or with your hands until the ingredients are thoroughly blended. If mixture seems to soft add more cheese or bread crumbs (I usually have to add more of each to get the consistency correct).

Take 1 heaping tablespoon of the shellfish mixture, shape into a small ball, then flatten it lightly between the palms of you hands. When all the polpette have been shaped, dip them into eggs and coat them with the bread crumbs.

Heat 1 inch of oil in medium skillet, I use and electric skillet, to medium heat. When the oil is very hot, lower a few polpettes at a time into the oil with a slotted spoon. Cook until they are lightly golden, about 2 minutes, then turn them gently and cook until the other side until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels and drain. Serve piping hot. I reheat them in the oven because I make them earlier in the day. I also put some in the freezer for a quick meal.

The wine was a nice Riesling. It had a nice hint of pineapple.

Dessert was of course Christmas cookies. This is a photo of my sister's cookies. I always enjoy her cookies more then mine. She makes the best lemon bars.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Linguini and Meatballs

I had some ribs that I did not cook on Saturday night. So I was making a meat sauce on Sunday and added them to the sauce. Also made some meatballs to go in the pan.
Tonight we had some of the sauce with linguine and homemade Italian bread.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Kinda of a big game panini

Roast Beef with Swiss cheese and olive spread. Chris had mustard and horseradish on his panini. Perfect meal for Monday night football... Go Giants!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Egg and Cheese Sandwiches and Pizza

Let it snow!
Fortunately I made those rolls yesterday because they came in handy for our Sunday breakfast sandwiches.

We had visitors in our yard.

Spend the day firming up the menu for Christmas Day.

Made pizza dough for dinner tonight. Topped it with meat sauce that was cooking all day on the stove. Boy did the house did smell good!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

BBQ Pork Spare Ribs and a little baking...

I found this recipe on and have made it before. It is always a winner.

BBQ Pork Spare Ribs
2 lb. pork spare ribs
1 onion

1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c. water
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. red pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
1/3 c. ketchup

Place spareribs (meat side down) in roasting pan. Cover meat with thinly sliced onion. Pour sauce over meat. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until done. Last 10 minutes of cooking you can remove cover to "crunch up" the top slightly.

The recipe gives a variation on the cooking method by saying you can gently boil ribs 1/2 hour, then roast as above for 1 hour. But that would require dirtying another pan...

So I wanted to make some bread today. They are predicting a "blizzard" for tomorrow. On Sundays we have egg and cheese sandwiches from a local restaurant. I decided to make rolls just in case we are actually snowed in (I think that has happened only once in my life... 1978). Anyway, I made the same recipe I used to make the rolls for the sausage and peppers last week.
Next I wanted to make some bread for lunch this week. I found this recipe in back in January on Smitten Kitchen. Light Wheat Bread is a bread that I made quite often last year. It is a perfect sandwich bread.
Being a few days before Christmas I wanted to make a sweet bread. I happened to have almond paste so I pulled out a recipe that I downloaded a while back. Rumanian Almond Braid. The date on the print out is 12/21/97! I revisited the site today and found more recipes!Snow is starting to fall...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Metrotini and Tapas

Tonight was our company Christmas party. It was held at Barcelona Wine Bar in Fairfield.

I started of with Metrotini which is made with Svedka Clementine, Triple Sec, Lime Juice,
Blood Orange Juice. Yum. For tapas we had Cauliflower and Fennel Cazuela, Herbed Goat Cheese & Mushrooms, Crispy Calamari, Roasted Chickpea Puree with House-Made Pita Chips, Homemade Empanadas, and Grilled Steak Paillard. We also tried a selection of cheeses. My favorites were Drunken Goat (Mild Goat’s Milk, Marinated in Red Wine from Murcia), Valdeon (Rich, Creamy, Cow & Goat's Milk Blue Cheese), Queijo de Azeitão (Soft Sheep's Milk from Portugal).

I was planning on taking photos but the battery was dead on my camera, of course.

Chris kept up the in-house portion of the blog and took a photo of his dinner. Chicken Cutlets with Asaigo Cheese and French Fries. Thanks Chris!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sausage and Pepper Subs

This is so easy. Ingredients are Sweet sausages, red and green peppers and onions. I used sausage links and cut them into 1 inch slices. The peppers and onions are sliced into 1/4 inch slices. Line a 9 x 13 roasting pan with foil, this make the clean up a little easier. Mix all the ingredients with olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano and parsley. Cover pan with foil and roast 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Uncover pan and stir. Return to oven and roast uncovered for another 20 to 30 minutes.

For the rolls I made French Bread and instead of making 2 loaves I made 1 loaf and 4 rolls.
It was such a fantastic meal. The homemade rolls sent the whole thing over the top.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Chicken Cutlets, Acorn Squash and Rice

Had a vacation day so I was able to actually make dinner from scratch tonight.
I made chicken cutlets using a recipe I found on Proud Italian Cook blog. The only change I was I used only egg whites, that's how my mom made her cutlets. Here is the recipe from Proud Italian Cook blog.
Lightly dip chicken in egg and then into Romano, parm or a mixture of both, some fresh chopped parsley, and a little lemon peel, salt & pepper. Saute in olive oil till crispy.
We had Acorn Squash and rice as sides. A lovely meal.

Also did a little baking...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Baking Sheet Macaroni and Cheese

I have mentioned many times on this blog that I love baked macaroni. My mom had a recipe which I think is great. I recently had baked macaroni from La Rosticceria which I gave two thumbs up. So when I was visiting food52 and a recipe for Baking Sheet Macaroni and Cheese popped up I was interested.

The original recipe called for 3 cups of heavy cream. When I make my recipe for baked macaroni and even when I make quiche, which usually calls for heavy cream, I use milk. There was a little water in the bottom of the pan when I served this dish which could have been from the milk. There is not liquid when I make my usual recipe, perhaps because I add eggs to the dish... Not sure about the science of that...

Back to this recipe. It was like picking off all the crunchy top part of the dish. That is my favorite part. Chris and I both enjoyed it. I may try my usual recipe, with the eggs, in the sheet pan. Best part was it only took 15 minutes to bake.

Click here to view the original recipe found on food 52.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Panini

I love our panini grill. I had my eye on the grill that we purchased for some time. On Black Friday I got an email from William Sonoma and the grill was on sale! So we got an early Christmas gift.
This is a photo of the ingredients before the sandwich went on the grill. Grilled chicken, grilled zucchini and yellow squash all seasoned with thyme, salt and pepper. Scamorza cheese, black olive spread, mayo and arugula.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Italian Lentil and Chestnut Stew

I have been wanting to try a recipe with Chestnuts. I found the recipe for Italian Lentil and Chestnut Stew on Closet Cooking and bookmarked to try at some time.
I was visiting the Closet Cooking blog and saw the blog was chosen to be part of the Salt to Taste: Tried and Tasted event this month. Perfect time to try the recipe.
I roasted the Chestnuts, love the aroma of roasted chestnuts. The stew was delicious.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pasta e Fagioli

I have been searching for some time now for the perfect recipe for Pasta e Fagioli. This one is very close to being named that recipe. It comes from La Cucina Italiana. The only change I would make is to add more broth. Just a little. Other than that it was very good. It did not have tomato in it, which I liked. I have always preferred my pasta with butter and cheese instead of tomato sauce. It is only since Chris showed up that I started making my mom's sauce. But back to tonight's recipe - it was easy. An immersion blender would have made it easier, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. : )