When Chris asked what I was making for dinner tonight he suggested Shrimp Fra Diavolo. I was planning on making Shrimp with Polenta but I remembered how good the Fra Diavolo was the last time I made it. Dinner was so delicious. And so damn easy to prepare. The sauce was spicy and the flavors were amazing. Only problem it was not easy not to over eat. Not a bad end of Lent meal!
And did you notice the dish? It was my mom's. She got it in Italy on one of my parent's trips. Glad I have it now.
And I did some Easter baking tonight - the Rice Pie!
This is my favorite Easter Pie. But I did just learn that there is a recipe out there for my father's sister's Ricotta Pie. I have no recipes from his side of the family. I hope to acquire the pie recipe!
The rice pie recipe is from Food Blogga. I have been making it for a couple of years. Just a delicious pie. Can not wait until Sunday!
After yesterday's amazing meal I had something lighter in mind for dinner.
There are so many dishes and meals that my mom made that have such strong memories attached to them. The Meat Pie has to be at the top of the list. I use to go over to my parent's house, after I had moved out, and helped my mom make these pies. We usually made them on Holy Thursday. Even with the two of us it was a lot of work. But it was fun. We would end up laughing at the silliest things, probably from exhaustion.
This year the pies came out exceptionally good. I used a low sodium ham. The first bite I could taste the difference. Not sure if anyone else noticed.
Do you read Food and Wine magazine? This month Mario Batali was the guest editor. And so far it is the best issue I have recieved!
I found this recipe on the Food and Wine site. Perfect for Lent. And perfect because I had all the ingredients in the house! And also perfect for tomorrow night. Yes soup on a Saturday night. Why? Because I will be making Meat Pies!
Mixed Vegetable and Farro Soup Ingredients -
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced 1 medium onion, thinly sliced 1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced 1 cup farro or wheat berries 1 tablespoon tomato paste 2 quarts water One 15-ounce can borlotti or pinto beans, drained and rinsed 2 large carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick 1 1/2 cups frozen peas Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil Method - In an enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the celery, onion and leek and cook over moderately high heat, stirring a few times, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the farro and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the grains are coated and shiny, 30 seconds. Add 1 quart of the water and the beans and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the carrots and the remaining 1 quart of water. Cover and cook over low heat until the carrots are tender, 30 minutes. Add the peas, cover and cook until tender, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, top with the basil.
Deconstructed? Yeah. First mistake was that I bought bacon instead of pancetta. Not sure why I made that choice at the store. But not only did I buy bacon, I bought thick sliced bacon. I tried to wrap the meatballs with those thick slabs of bacon but it was not happening. Sigh. I ended up unwrapping the meatballs and browning the bacon and adding that to the sauce! Complaints... no because this was quite good. The aroma in the house was fantastic. I think I even saw the cats smiling.
Oh you want the recipe. Click here and plan on spending some time at this site.
A needed break from meat tonight. Well kind of. The peppers were stuffed with Aborio Rice and Lentils. I had the lentils in the freezer from the last batch of lentil soup we had. I sauteed some chopped onion, zucchini and yellow squash. Seasoned the filling with the usual - salt, pepper, thyme, parsley and crushed red pepper. I mixed the rice, lentils and veggies, adding some Parmesan Cheese and then stuffed the peppers.
Now the meat part was the sauce I used to top the peppers. It was sauce I had in the freezer from the Veal Ossobuco we had a while back. The sauce was sooooo good. Only complaint or should I say what I would do differently next time is not using green peppers. Granted they were less expensive than the red, yellow or orange, but I just really don't like the taste. Too green peppery!
And I know today is the Feast of St. Joseph but I did not have a Zeppole for two reasons. First it is something I always brought over to my Dad's and it made me sad to thing of eating it without him. And secondly, I am having blood work done in the morning and that would certainly screw everything up!
Let me start out by saying I am not a fan of cooking Corn Beef and Cabbage. I made it the first year we were married and did not like the smell it gave off. Really compared to the aroma of a pan of Sunday Sauce, Fuggedaboutit!
So this year I came upon Mark Bittman's recipe for Beef Stew with Guinness. Perfect timing after hearing him speak yesterday.
Now I have made a few different beef stews but this one is my favorite so far. The broth was delicious, okay it's beer! The meat was so tender and the veggies were the cooked perfectly. Oops I forgot to add the frozen peas, but I do not think Chris minded their omission.
Mark Bittman is my favorite food writer. I love the tone of his pieces. And his cookbooks, well let's just say if everyone tried a recipe from one of his How to Cook Everything series, including the iPhone app, I do believe people would see how damn easy it is to put a meal on the table. Just a few ingredients and the result is an amazing dish. Screw processed foods. Sorry for being so rude about it but really making a nutritious home cooked meal, where you know all the ingredients, is just not that hard to do.
Okay off the soap box and on to dinner.
Tonight was one of our favorites. Chicken with Bacon and Leeks. I am sure I have told the story that when I met Chris we were working at a place called Nancy Lee's and this dish was on her menu. It is our comfort food. The flavors bring back a lot of memories of that little restaurant.
For a side dish, along with Aborio rice, I made something different. Fennel, orange and olive salad. I found this on Rachel Eats. Visit this blog. Trust me, lots to read! Now regular readers (are there any out there?) will know that I like fennel. Chris did like the orange and olive combination.
Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. When I was leaving the grocery store today a clerk said, "Happy St. Patrick's Day" to me. I said thank you but wondered if on Tuesday they will be saying Happy St. Joseph's Day? Seriously a Zeppole is a much better thing to look forward to compared to Corn Beef and Cabbage. Just sayin'.
Calzone Barese Olive and Ricotta. This has become a Lenten meal in our house. Flavorful, filling and easy! The recipe is from La Cucina: Regional Cooking of Italy.
I could not find Ricotta Salata at the grocery story so I used Scamorza and Feta. I also added Hot Cherry Peppers from the Olive Bar at the grocery store. Added a nice bit of heat to the dish.
For the dough:
2 cups all purpose flour plus more if needed
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeas dissolved in 2 tbsp. warm water
Extra-virgin olive oil
For the filling:
1 medium onion, sliced
3/4 lb. ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup pitted and chopped black olives
4 oz. ricotta salata, passed through a sieve
Salt and pepper
the flour onto a flat surface and work it together with the yeast
mixture, a dash of salt and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Knead the dough,
turning and folding it onto itself, until it becomes soft and elastic,
adding water by the tablespoon as necessary - you my need to add as much
as 3/4 cup. Then cover it with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise
for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Grease a baking dish.
a sauce pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and saute the onion until is
almost transparent, then add the tomatoes. Cook the sauce down for a few
minutes then add salt, pepper, and olives. Remove the pan from the heat
and add the ricotta salata and mix well.
Roll the dough on a floured
board into two sheets, one larger than the other. With the larger one
line the greased pan. Pour in the sauce, spread it out, and cover with
the other sheet, folding the edges over each other. Bake for
approximately 20 minutes or until the top is golden.
Well I worked from home but was not about to head out to the store so dinner had to be made from in-house ingredients. Okay I have a pretty well stocked pantry so it was not difficult to put this together. The hard part was deciding on which recipe to use. There was Lidia's, which used capers (I love capers). And there was Giada's, which used white wine and well I like wine! The recipe is mostly Giada's with the addition of the celery and capers from Lidia. I added whole wheat Cappelini to the sauce. Do not even think the fact that the pasta was whole wheat was even noticeable.
This is what I came up with and wow it was delicious. Ingredients -
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons
1 shallot, sliced
1 celery stalked, diced
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
¼ cup tiny capers in brine, drained
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate; set aside. Add the shallot and celery to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine and oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices and capers to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute. Stir in the parsley. Season with more salt, to taste, and serve.
What do you want to know. Names, numbers, addresses... I would spill the beans for Fritos. This is a fact that most people I work with know. So the other day at lunch when we were talking about comfort foods, Italian vs Southern, Becky, of the Fighting Finn, mentioned a Frito Pie. What! We all nicely asked her and she brought in all the fixins' for lunch today. Frito's, Hormel Chili, Cheddar and Cheddar and Monterrey Jack Cheese, scallions, jalapenos and avocados.
I was in heaven. I was sitting there eating a bowl of Frito's for lunch. Yeah there were other things in bowl but they did not matter. Move over pastine with milk and butter a new favorite lunch has been crowned!
Chris was really not looking forward to this one. Well surprise surprise it was well received. The filling was a nice mix of bacon and chard. The pepper jack cheese added a nice bit of spice. Go figure!
To go along with our Minestra tonight we had a Vegetable Tart. I roasted butternut squash, zucchini and onions. Made some Pate Brise, added thyme to the dough (it looks pretty!). Rolled out the dough. Piled on the vegetables, adding some cheddar cheese to the layers. Folded the crust over the top and baked in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes.
Pate Brisee -
1-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch granulated sugar
5-1/2 Tbsp (2/3 stick) sweet butter, chilled
3 Tbsp vegetable shortening, chilled
1/4 cup ice water
Sift the flour, salt and sugar together into a bowl; add butter and
shortening and cut them into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or 2
knives until mixture is like coarse meal.
Sprinkle on and blend in enough of the ice water to make a workable dough, mixing water in lightly with a fork.
Turn dough out onto you 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.
And what have we been drinking? My Dad's wine, we are cleaning out the house after all. 2005 Merlot. A very good year!
Or as I like to call it - the stuff that dreams are made of!
This is the food that I grew up on. Minestra Maritata, Pasta Fagioli, Baked Macaroni, Chicken Cutlets. Nothing was processed. My big treat was a TV dinner once in a while. Morton's Fried Chicken Dinner, with the mashed potatoes and peas and carrots! Wow I loved that.
I guess I was very lucky to have a mom who made sure she knew exactly what we were eating. And she was frugal. When we had Minstra or Pasta Fagioli we had it for a number of nights. Which we will be doing this week!
I used the recipe from Cooking with Giuseppe, who cooks just like my mom did. This recipe results in what is the closest to my mom's minestra that I have found. I used escarole and kale and a beef shank, sausage and prosciutto ends. And I also added cannelini beans.
And of course always afraid it might not be enough I made a stuffed
bread. Stuffed with Steak, onion and cheese... Kind of a Philly Cheese
Bread, hold the peppers!