Ghirardelli Chocolate Caramel Turtle Brownie & Red Lentil and Leek Soup

Today I made soup. It was Red Lentil and Leek Soup. It was good but it reminded me of Oliver Twist. Except I did not hear from either of us, "Please sir may I have more?"

I had planned on making cookies but the afternoon flew by so I looked in the cabinet and I had a box of my favorite Brownie mix, Ghirardelli Chocolate Caramel Turtle Brownie Mix.

This has to make up for the soup.

Steak Pizzaiola

I was looking around the freezer and noticed 2 Porterhouse steaks. I had gotten them on sale, regular price was $30.67 and I paid $15.32. Not bad. So I made Steak Pizzaiola. I used my mom's recipe and the steaks were ridiculously big. Fred Flintstone big. Once the steak was on the plate there was barely room for the sides.

Directions

Spray baking pan with cooking spray (this make the clean up much easier). Take your steak and place in the pan. Top the steak with marinara sauce. I used Paul Sorvino's Marinara Sauce
. It was good. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, we like our meat medium (me) to medium well (Chris). And that is all there is to it!

I made Mashed Potatoes and Chopped Spinach as side dishes. We had a bottle of Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 that we picked up for Christmas Day. Quite a delicious meal. And there were leftovers from the steaks.

Zuppa Di Cipolle and Quiche

This was the first time I have made Onion Soup since back when I was working at New Haven Restaurant as a prep cook. There we made 25 gallons of onion soup at a time... it was one of their signature dishes.

This on the other hand was a much smaller batch of soup. The recipe came from the La Cucina Cookbook. This recipe is from the Piedmont region of Italy.

Ingredients
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 lb. onions, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp. flour
6 cups beef broth
slices of stale bread
Shredded Swiss Cheese

Method
Melt the butter in a large pot over low heat. Add the onions and slowly saute them until golden. Add the wine and let it evaporate. Sprinkle the flour over the onions, stir then slowly add the broth, creating a creamy but not too thick soup.

At this point I toasted 2 pieces of homemade French bread. We ladled the soup into our bowls and put the toast on top. Then we sprinkled the toast with shredded Swiss Cheese. It was delicious. I think it was the wine that added the flavor. I don't know why I haven't made this before now. Chris really liked it.

I also made a Quiche with Ham and Swiss Cheese. For some reason I thought the soup would not be enough. The quiche was quite good and so simple to make. I just made a Pate Brisse for the crust and filled the shell with Rosemary Ham and some Swiss cheese.

Pate Brisée, from The Silver Palate Cookbook
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
pinch granulated sugar
5 1/2 tbsp. (2/3 stick) sweet butter, chilled
3 tbsp. vegetable shortening, chilled
1/4 cup ice water

Method
1. Sift flour, salt and sugar into a bowl. Add butter and shortening. Cut them into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture is like coarse meal.
2. Sprinkle on and blend in enough ice water to make a workable dough, mixing water in lightly with a fork.
3. Turn dough out onto work surface and, using the heel of your hand, smear the dough away from you, about 1/4 cup at a time. Scrape up the smeared dough into a ball, wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
4. Unwrap dough, place on a floured work surface, and pound it a few times with your rolling pin to soften it. Roll it out 1/8 inch thick, or to desired thickness.
5. Drape dough over quiche pan, ease it into the pan without stretching, pat into place. Trim off excess, and crimp edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Remove chilled dough from refrigerator and prick the bottom and sides well with a fork. Line the bottom of the pan with foil and fill with beans to weight the crust. Bake for 10 minutes, until dough is just beginning to color.
7. Remove from oven, remove weights and lining and cool slightly.

For filling place cheese and diced ham in crust. Beat 3 eggs and mix with 1 1/2 cups milk or cream, I use low fat milk. Season with salt, nutmeg and fresh ground pepper. Pour filling into crust. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until filling is set.

The quiche and the soup combined made a wonderful dinner.

Kielbasa, Onions and Peppers

We have not had this for dinner for quite some time. This may be why it tasted so good. Or could it have been the white wine I added?

Slice 2 red peppers (I paid $1.39 a pound while the organic red peppers were $4.99 a pound) and slice 1 onion. Slice the kielbasa into 1/2 slices. Heat olive oil in pan and add onions and peppers. After the vegetables have cooked through add the kielbasa and cook until heated. Add 1/2 cup white wine and cover the pan. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

We had a side of jasmati rice with dinner. It was a satisfying winter meal.

Bacon and Onion Pizza

This was the best pizza I have ever made. It is the crust. The recipe is from the Jim Lahey's My Bread cookbook. I had pizza sauce in the freezer. Added thinly sliced onions and bacon to one half of the pie. The other half I left with just sauce and cheese. It was delicious. There is one piece left which I am looking forward for lunch tomorrow.

Lenore's Chicken Noodle Soup

I finally made my sister's recipe for chicken stock. It tasted as good as hers!

Lenore's Chicken Soup
Cover a stewing (fowl) chicken with about 4-6 quarts of water. Add celery stalks, whole carrots, & whole onions. (You don't have to peel anything if you wash it well; it just makes the soup darker and you retain more vitamins.) Add salt, pepper, 2 bay leaves, and basil and parsley. Bring to a boil, lower heat and allow to simmer, covered, about 3 hours. Strain & toss vegetables. Bone and dice up chicken. (There is usually a lot and I use some for chicken salad.) (This is a good place to stop if you want to do this in 2 days. You can put the broth in the fridge and take off the fat.) Put the chicken back into the broth with any vegetable you want--carrots, celery, peas. Simmer another hour. If you want to add rice with the vegetables, remember it will absorb some of the broth. You can cook pasta separately and add at the end.

I ended up with 5 ziplock bags each containing 2 cups of chicken broth. And that was after I fixed a pan of soup that we ate last night and tonight. Well worth the time.

In the pan of soup I made I added sauteed onions, carrots, and celery, fresh thyme, frozen spinach and noodles. Delicious!

Chicken with Leeks and Bacon

This is such a fast meal to put together. Last time I made this was November 20, 2009! Interesting that I can remember that... actually I used the search button on the blog.

Anyway I had all the ingredients in the house. First clean and slice the leeks. Next saute butter and olive oil. Dredge Chicken breasts in flour. Add to pan and saute turning occasionally.
Add bacon, I used pre-cooked bacon. Then I added 1/2 cup of white wine and covered the pan and reduced heat to low and simmered for about 5 minutes, until the chicken was cooked.

I was catching up on my emails and found one from the Salt to Taste blog referring to the Tried and Tasted challenge they did with the Closet Cooking blog. I had made the Lentil and Chestnut Stew. The recipes Closet Cooking blog always sound so good and all the ones I have tried have been delicious.

Tilapia and Mashed Yams with Pancetta-Sage Breadcrumbs

Tonight's recipe comes from the local newspaper, The Source. But actually the newspaper's recipe comes from the January Bon Appetit. I missed it when I looked at the magazine. The Tilapia was one special this week.

Tilapia and Mashed Yams with Pancetta-Sage Breadcrumbs

Serves 4


Ingredients

2 oz. thinly sliced Pancetta, chopped

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (from French or sourdough bread with crust, ground in food processor)

1 tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh sage

2 pounds medium red skinned sweet potatoes, pierced all over with fork

3 tbsp. butter, divided

4, 5- to 6-ounce tilapia filets or 8, 2- to 3-ounces filets


Method

Saute pancetta in large, nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to small bowl. Add bread crumbs and 1 tbsp chopped sage to drippings in skillet; stir over medium-high heat until bread crumbs are almost crisp, 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with pancetta. Cool. Reserve skillet.

Place sweet potatoes on plate in microwave on high until very soft, 5 to 8 minutes per side, depending on size of sweet potato. Transfer potatoes to work surface. Cut in half lengthwise: scoop out pulp and place in medium glass bowl. Discard skin. Add remaining chopped sage and 1 tbsp butter to potatoes; mash until almost smooth. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Sprinkle fish filets with salt and pepper. Melt remaining 2 tbsp butter in same nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add fish filets and cook until golden brown on outside and just opaque in center, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

If necessary, rewarm sweet potatoes in microwave; divide them among 4 plates. Top each serving with 1 fish filet, sprinkle generously with pancetta-sage bread crumbs and serve.

I made sauteed zucchini as a side dish. Actually it was Chris that cooked the zucchini and cooked the fish... I did the prep work. Seems like I was the scullery maid...

We also had a nice bottle of wine which I received from my boss for Christmas. Estrancia 2006 Merlot. Very nice wine.

Baked Polenta with Vegetable and Beans

Tonight we had the leftover Hunter Style Chicken from last night with a baked polenta which was a combination of 2 recipes.

The first recipe came from La Cucina, The Regional Cooking of Italy cookbook, this week's featured cookbook. It was a recipe called Polenta and Beans which was from the Abruzzo region. The second recipe comes from a blog post on which I found on FoodBuzz. FoodBuzz is like FaceBook for foodies. The post was from Food o'del Mundo. It is a recipe from the Union Square Cafe's Second Helpings cookbook. I used this recipe but added pancetta and onion from the La Cucina recipe.

Polenta Union Square Style

Ingredients

1 Cup Polenta
In place of the water required for the Polenta use 1/2 Chicken Broth & 1/2 Bean Liquid reserved from the can
4 oz. Pancetta
1 Med Onion, chopped
1 Med Carrot peeled and chopped

1 Leek white part only cleaned and chopped

1 Celery Stalk cleaned and chopped
2 Cloves Garlic minced

1 1/2 Cups Cooked/Canned White Beans- Cannellini, Butter/Lima or Northern

1 Bunch Swiss Chard cleaned and coarsely chopped
1 tsp Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Method
Cook
Polenta according to package directions. In place of water use 1/2 Chicken Broth & 1/2 Bean Liquid reserved from the can. When Polenta is almost cooked heat a saute pan and cook 4 oz. Pancetta until crispy, remove from pan and chop in to small pieces.
Add some olive oil to the same skillet and saute the Onion, Carrot, Leek & Celery over medium heat. Saute for 5 minutes then add Garlic, White Beans and the Swiss Chard. Stir until the Swiss Chard wilts then add Salt and Pepper.
When polenta is cooked stir in the vegetable mixture and the Pancetta and stir to combine thoroughly. Add more Salt & Pepper to taste. Spoon into serving bowl and drizzle with Olive Oil.

We both loved this and understand why it the recipe is from a cookbook called Second Helpings. It was great with the sauce from the chicken.


Hunter-Style Chicken

Hunter-Style Chicken 1, Pollo All Cacciatora 1. Why the number 1? There are 3 versions of this recipe in the La Cucina, The Regional Cooking of Italy cookbook. This recipe was a winner. The sauce was great and it was very easy to make.

Ingredients
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onions
1 lb. carrots, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced

3 1/2 lbs chicken, cut in pieces

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 lb, ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
(I used a can of diced tomatoes)
chicken broth, if necessary
salt and pepper

Method
Heat half of the olive oil in a large pan and add the onions, carrots and celery. When they have taken on color remove them and set them aside. Put pieces of chicken in pan with remaining olive oil and when pieces have colored add the white wine. When the wine has evaporated add the tomatoes and reserved vegetables. Continue cooking over low heat for about 40 minutes, adding a little broth if necessary. Adjust for salt and pepper.

The cookbook recommends serving this with polenta, but we went for the ziti. Tomorrow night we will have the leftovers with polenta!

Potato Leek Soup

La Cucina, The Regional Cooking of Italy cookbook, from the Piemonte region. Potato Leek Soup, Zuppa di Patate E Porri Gratinati with a couple of alterations.

4 leeks, sliced and rinsed
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups of broth, I used Chicken but the recipe called for beef
Bay leaf

In a bowl, combine the leeks, potatoes and broth with the bay leaf and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Puree the mixture using either a blender, food mill or Immersion blender(!) and serve.

The recipe went on to say to put the soup in an oven proof bowl. Cover each serving with a slice of bread, add pats of butter to each, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake until the cheese is lightly browned.

I don't have oven proof bowls so we just had the soup with crackers. It was good. Light, possibly too light. Next time I will make add a sandwich or quiche or salad to go with it.

Sausage and Potatoes

Again tonight we have a recipe from La Cucina, The Regional Cooking of Italy cookbook. This recipe comes from the Calabria region tonight we had Salsiccia E Patate, Sausage and Potatoes. The recipe called for the sausage to be formed into the spokes of a wheel, using skewers to hold the shape. I had Chris read the recipe to get his opinion and he agreed that the skewers could be skipped. So I cut the sausage into small pieces. The simplicity of this recipe and others from the book is amazing when you taste the finished product.

Ingredients

1 lb. sausage

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

pepper


Method

Cut sausages into 1 inch slices. Heat olive oil in pan and add potatoes and sausages. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring from time to time with wooden spoon. Cook until sausage is cooked through. Season with pepper.


This was delicious. I loved the fried potatoes. Had some Italian bread with it and a bit of the stuffed bread leftover from last night.

Eggplants and Tomato and Prosciuotto Stuffed Bread

This week's meals, well at least for 4 nights will come from La Cucina, The Regional Cooking of Italy cookbook. Tonight I made Melanzane E Pomodori, Eggplants and Tomato. It reminded me of a deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan. It is from the Calabria region of Italy.

Ingredients
4 eggplants (about 2 lb.)
4 large eggs, beaten

2 tbsp. grated pecorino

Olive Oil

4 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped,
I used a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
Salt


Method

Peel the eggplants and cut them in small cubes. Put the cubes in salted water for about 1 hour. Meanwhile, mix the eggs and pecorino and set aside. Rinse and drain the eggplant cubes. Heat 1/4 inch of olive oil in a high-sided pan and fry the eggplant cubes until golden. Add the tomatoes and egg mixture and stir to cook the eggs until they set. Serve immediately.


I also made a stuffed bread. I used the other portion of pizza dough I had in the freezer from last week. I filled it with Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Swiss cheese. Wow it was good!

Vegetable Timbale and Spaghetti Carbonara

The Big Game = Dinner To Go. Saints vs. Cardinals. I was not going to cook dinner tonight. So I stopped at La Rosticceria. For myself I picked a Vegetable Timbale. It was something I have seen in cookbooks and online but had never tried. It looked so nice and wow the flavors were perfect. It was layered with eggplant, sweet onions, orange peppers, zucchini, yellow squash and fresh basil.


For Chris I picked up Spaghetti Carbonara. He loved it.

La Rosticceria makes fantastic cupcakes and yesterday 10% of the bakery sales was being donated to help the victims in Haiti. I picked up some Coconut Cupcakes. I have yet to finish a whole cupcake from this store. They are delicious but they are big.


The Saints win!

The Perfect Calzones

Tonight's dinner started with the basic pizza dough recipe from Jim Lahey's My Bread Book. I made the dough last week and divided it in 2 pieces and froze them.

I thawed one of the portions and had enough dough for 2 calzones. For Chris, I sauteed onions and fried some bacon. I filled mine with sauteed veggies - broccoli, carrots, red pepper, zucchini and some tofu. Also filled both with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.

The fillings were good but the bread was perfect. We both devoured the calzones. I used a jarred marinara sauce that I picked up at Whole Foods. San Marzano Sauce. The link shows the price at $10 a jar... I did not pay that much. But it was the best jarred sauce I have tasted.

Stuffed Peppers with Brown Rice and Sausage

I was inspired by the Proud Italian blog from last week which featured Stuffed Peppers.

After removing the seeds I pare boiled the peppers. I made some brown rice. I had sausage left over from last night's soup. I sauteed onions and carrots and added the sausage. After the sausage had browned I seasoned it with salt, pepper and oregano. Then I mixed the rice, the sausage and veggies together with Parmesan Cheese. I stuffed the peppers with the filling and topped with Marinara Sauce and baked for 30 minutes at 350º.

The meal was a winner! Quite tasty. Had some rolls that I made this weekend. I tried to make sandwich rolls but they look more like baseballs... Pitchers and catchers report Feb 18th!

Hearty Lentil and Sausage Soup

I found this recipe on the Whole Foods Site. I made a couple of changes to the original recipe. I just omitted a couple of ingredients...

This is the recipe as it appears on the Whole Foods site with my changes in parenthesis.

Hearty Lentil and Sausage Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic (this I omitted)
1/2 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 pound mushrooms (such as white, cremini, shiitake, portobello and oyster), chopped ( I also omitted this)
1 cup (about 7 ounces) dried French or brown lentils, picked through and rinsed
2 1/2 cups beef broth
2 1/2 cups mushroom or low-sodium chicken broth (I used low sodium chicken broth)
1 cup chopped tomatoes, with their juice
1 cup dry red wine
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 pound baby spinach, thinly sliced (I used escarole and beet greens)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Method
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add sausage and cook, breaking into small chunks, until it begins to brown. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms have released most of their liquid. Add lentils, beef broth, mushroom or chicken broth, tomatoes and their juice, wine and pepper flakes; cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Add spinach and salt and pepper, stir well and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes more; stir in thyme. Ladle soup into bowls and top with Parmesan.

This was delicious. Chris loved it. The escarole and beet greens gave it a nice bite. I used the new wine glasses we got from my sister for Christmas and they have a lovely stem to hold. Another great Monday night meat... the pressure is on for the rest of the week.

Barley Soup with Beef

I turned to the cookbook, La Cucina for tonight's meal. Barley Soup 1. Or Minestra Di Orzo 1. The cookbook numbers it's soup, for instance there are 5 Barley Soup recipes. This recipe comes from the Valle D' Aosta region.

Ingredients
4 tbsp. butter
1 leek, cut in thin strips
1 medium onion, cut in thin strips
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 sprig thyme

Heat the butter in a saucepan over low heat until melted. Add leeks and onion and cook until the leeks begins to soften. Add the potatoes and carrot and cook for about 10 minutes, then cover with boiling water. When the mixture returns to a boil, add the barley and thyme. Let cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 1 hour, until the barley is tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Up to this point you have a great vegetarian soup... but I still have the leftovers from the roast from Christmas in the freezer. I cut the meat into small pieces and added them to the soup. Voila - Beef Barley Soup!

It was delicious. I had to stop at 2 servings. Even without the beef it would have been good. Perfect for a very cold Monday night dinner

Steak Pizzaiola with Potatoes

We visited my sister yesterday and I saw her husband fixing dinner. He was making Steak Pizzaiola with an ingredient that I never added before... potatoes! Fascinating.

So tonight I attempted to recreate his dish. I put the steak in an oiled dish and added chopped onions, diced tomatoes, diced potatoes, salt, pepper and oregano. Covered the dish with foil and put it in the oven for close to an hour, the steaks were not thin so they took quite a while to cook. The dish was quite good and my sister was right - the sauce was the best part.

On a completely different note, today I went shopping with my sister and my niece. We went to DSW. Anyone who knows me knows I really do not need a new pair of shoes. But gosh 80% off. Okay they are summer shoes and it is 30 degrees out right now. And I really needed a new wallet. Again 80% off. So the shoes and the wallet, after I used my $10.00 off coupon, came to 39 cents. When the salesperson said the amount I owed her I knew my mother was smiling!


; )