Pasta with Vodka Sauce & Remembering Mom

8 years ago this morning I got that call from my brother-in-law telling me that my mom had passed away. She had been sick for so long. I had the chance to say good bye so often but still I wish I had visited her one last time before she left us. Not long after she passed it occurred to me that the perfect way to remember her each year on the anniversary of her passing would be to do something she enjoyed doing. Shopping. Yes my mom loved to shop. And she always said as long as you have dinner ready for your husband there was no reason why you should not spend the day shopping. Okay that is what is burned in my head. That and her telling me that you can never have too many shoes! Gosh my mom was so cool!
Today my sister and I went shopping. And we went to mass. It was a day my mom would have approved of. And of course I bought shoes!
Now about dinner. The recipe is from Chef Silvio.

Chef Silvio’s Farfalle with Vodka Sauce

Ingredients -
1 pound farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large shallots, peeled and finely diced
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1 stick butter, cut into slices
6 large ripe plum tomatoes, cut into small cubes
3-4 tops fresh basil, coarsely cut
Salt and pepper to taste
6 ounces vodka
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup marinara sauce
Pinch fresh parsley, finely chopped

Method -
Prepare pasta according to directions on package and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add shallots and garlic and lightly saute. Add butter stirring over medium heat until butter is melted and bubbly, then add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Stir and keep cooking until tomatoes are soft, and then mix in the vodka. Add heavy cream and ½ cup of Parmesan cheese and marinara sauce. Stir to almost a boil and then remove from heat before reaching a full boil. Put pasta in a large bowl and pour sauce over it, lightly mixing it together. Top with remaining cheese and parsley.
Chef Silvio suggests serving family style with the bowl of pasta on the table, a loaf of crusty Italian bread with some small dishes of extra-virgin olive oil for dipping. Buon Appetito! Serves 4-6.

And I made as an extra dish, Burrata Bruschetta with Broccoli Rabe. We had this at Becco a couple of months ago and it was so good and quite easy to make. I boiled the rabe for about a minute and then sauteed it in olive oil and seasoned it with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. I toasted some Italian bread and topped the bread with the broccoli rabe. Some burrata cheese on top with some olive oil and under the broiler for about 5 minutes, checking it often. The flavors just melt together. Delicious.

Amazing Lemon Chicken


That's right amazing. The original title is Easy Lemon Chicken. Yes it is easy. Very easy. But the taste was amazing. Chris said this was the most delicious Chicken Cutlet he has ever had. Adding the lemon zest to the bread crumbs is brilliant. I added oregano, salt and pepper to the bread crumbs because I used plain instead of Italian flavored. The recipe is from the Darn Delicious blog. Visit the blog because there are a lot of delicious recipes there.


Easy Lemon Chicken

Ingredients -
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
Zest of 2 lemons, plus more, for garnish
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets, cut crosswise in half
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten

Instructions -
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs and lemon zest; set aside.
Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Working one at a time, dredge chicken in flour, dip into eggs, then dredge in bread crumbs mixture, pressing to coat.
Working in batches, add chicken to the skillet, 2 or 3 at a time, and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Serve immediately, garnished with lemon zest, if desired.

Side dishes were Roasted Potatoes and a Green Bean Salad, a hint of summer.

Sausage Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

The meatballs, Sausage, Rye bread and Fontinella Cheese. I broiled the meatballs, turning them until all sides were browned. I steamed a spaghetti squash and mixed the squash with some Marinara Sauce, Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses. I placed the meatballs on the squash mixtures, topping them with a bit of sauce and baked it for 25 minutes at 350˚. Chris loved this. The meat balls were so moist and the rye bread added more flavor than just plain bread. Yum!

Eggs in Purgatory

A simple homemade Marinara Sauce. Add some Al Fresco Roasted Pepper and Assiago Chicken Sausage. Crack eggs into the simmering sauce. Using a spoon, cover the eggs with some sauce. Cover the pan and simmer until the eggs are poached. And don't forget to serve with Italian bread.

Panecotta with Chicken

Don't you just love escarole? It is such a comfort food. I especially like this recipe for Panecotta. I made this way back when I first started the blog. It was from the New Haven Register Food Section. The recipe was  from Jo Farricielli of East Haven, CT. This time I added some cooked chicken that I had in the freezer. It made it a more substantial meal. If you make this make sure to grab a corner piece. Those are extra crispy!

Panecotta with Chicken
1/2 loaf Italian bread, cubed; bread can be day-old, stale or fresh
1/2 sliced onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup cut up cooked chicken, from either a roast or soup chicken.
4 - 6 cups of cooked Escarole and Beans, recipe follows

Coat 9-
by 13-inch casserole or baking dish with cooking spray. Spread enough cubed bread to cover bottom of a 9- by 13-inch casserole or baking dish. Saute onion in olive oil until onions are golden and slightly caramelized. Spoon this mixture over the bread. Top the bread with the cubed chicken. Then cover with the Escarole and Beans. Sprinkle top generously with grated Parmesan and mozzarella and bake in a preheated 350- degree oven for 20 minutes. Move to upper shelf in oven, and broil for 5 minutes, until cheese is slightly browned. Makes 6 generous servings.

Escarole and Beans
1 large head of escarole
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup cooked cannellini or Navy pea beans, canned or freshly cooked
Salt and pepper

Wash escarole. Remove core, cut leaves and boil in about 2 cups of salted water until it cooks down and is completely tender. Remove from heat; reserve liquid.
Lightly saute garlic in olive oil. Add cooked beans, escarole along with enough liquid to make the mixture slightly soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook together on top of stove for 20 minutes. This can Be made ahead of time, eaten as is with fresh Italian bread or made into Panecotta.

Holy Saturday Batman!

 
 
Here's the deal - I have either been sick or away for the past few weekends. What that means is that cooking dinner has not been a priority. We are back to a normal, knock on wood, schedule so part of my weekends will be spent preparing food for the upcoming week. Tomorrow being Easter, dinner at my sister's house, I had to get my work done today. Shopping and cooking in one day. Oh and that sink full of dishes. Honestly cooking is easy. Cleaning up is hard.

Even though I did all that cooking we still needed dinner for tonight. I picked up Fava Beans, one of Chris's favorites, at Bishops. I made Sausage and Fontinella Cheese Meatballs and had a couple leftover from the dish they will appear in later this week. So I had Fava beans and meatballs. There was Pancetta and one onion left over from today's cooking. Dinner was coming together.

But I needed pasta. I made a batch of my favorite pasta from Tide and Thyme. Perfect pasta every thyme!
I sauteed the pancetta and onion. Tossed in the fava beans which were shelled, peeled and boiled earlier. Some butter. Some white wine, about a 1/2 cup. I let that cook down and added the cooked pasta and about a 1/2 cup of pasta water. Parmesan cheese on top and dinner was served.

Eleanor Lombardi's Pizzagaina

Okay, I missed my blog's anniversary. I didn't mean to but things happen.
I am pleased to have been blogging for this long. Granted, this year has been pretty light, what with the flu and the hand and well other things. But enough of the sob story. Let's talk dinner. Pizzagaina. Italian Easter Meat Pie. My mom's recipe. Yes, every one's mom made the best meat pie but this is my blog so we will discuss what I consider to be the best recipe.

For the crust I use the Pate Brise, from the Silver Palate Cookbook. I just leave out the sugar and add pepper, about a 1/2 tsp.

On the recipe card I have noted that this recipe makes two pies. I think my mom used 12 inch pie dishes. I ended up with four 9 inch pies and a small pie.

Pate Brisee - (this recipe is for 2 pies, top and bottom crusts)

6 cups unbleached all purpose flour

2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
22 Tbsp sweet butter, chilled

12 Tbsp vegetable shortening, chilled
1 cup ice water


Sift the flour, salt and pepper 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 your 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 1 hours.



Eleanor Lombardi's Pizzagaina

2 pounds baked ham, diced
1 pound pepperoni, skinned, diced and boiled, drained (boiling removes excess grease)
1 pound sweet sausage, fully cooked, drained
1 pound basket cheese, diced
-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basket_cheese

Mix all ingredients. Roll out a quarter of the dough. Place the crust in pie dish. Use a pie dish with handles if you have one. You will want to check the bottom of the pie to see if it is browned. Add the half of meat and cheese mixture to the dish. Break and mix 3 eggs (each pie requires 3 eggs) and pour over the top of the meat. Roll out another quarter of the dough. Place on top of the meat. Crimp edges. Cut 3 slits in crust. Bake 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. (I baked mine for an hour and 15 minutes). Repeat this for the second pie.
 
With the meat recipe you may end up with enough for more than the two pies. Let just say it is one of those Easter miracles. I usually make enough dough for 6 pies just in case.  The crust recipe above is only for 2 pies. I prefer to make the crust in small batches. Making enough for 6 pies at once is more than my kitchen or I can handle.  The crust can go in the freezer so it is "like money in the bank."

This year Chris helped with the preparation. He cut all the meat and cheese. Boiled the pepperoni and cooked the sausage while I was preparing the crusts. I could not have done this without his help.

When the pies are in the oven keep an eye on overflow. The egg might spill out the slits. It may be a good idea to put some foil under the pie dishes on the lower rack. As long as the egg does not spill over you house will smell amazing. 

Veal Stock Revisited


This week has been an interesting one for dinners. I was away this past weekend and did not cook. I have been paying the price every night. We had Chinese Sunday with leftovers on Monday. Tuesday we were suppose to have Lentil Soup which I had taken out of the freezer. Chris called when he got home and asked where the soup was because what he found in the fridge was a container marked - Veal Stock from Osso Bucco, 12/25/13. Excellent. I was sure I saw Lentil Soup. Anyway, we ended up having Baked Macaroni on Tuesday, not a bad substitute. But still there was the veal stock to deal with. This morning I heated up the stock and added some frozen veggies, there was already onions and carrots in the stock. I boiled some noodles. Tossed them in the pot and added some fresh spinach I had in the fridge. The house smelled so good at 7 AM! And what a fantastic dinner it was. It was nice to know that none of the Veal Osso Bucco went to waste.

Bread and Vegetable "Lasagna"

Another one of my husband's favorite meatless dinners. The recipe is from Living the Gourmet. I omitted the garlic and served marinara sauce on the side.


Bread and Vegetable "Lasagna", from Living the Gourmet.

Ingredients-
About 9-10 sliced of bread – toasted
2 zucchini – sliced lengthwise
4-5 cloves of garlic – chopped
1 onion – sliced
2 large beefsteak tomatoes – sliced
16 oz. Mozzarella cheese – shredded
Grated Romano cheese
 2- 3 tablespoons of Olive oil

Method-
Toast the bread.

Heat a large frying pan with the olive oil.  Add the sliced onion and sauté until it is slightly golden.  Add the garlic and sauté until it is fragrant and set aside.

Add the sliced zucchini and sauté until it is slightly golden and set aside.

Preheat the Oven 350 degrees:

Prepare a baking dish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Place some slices of bread to fit the bottom of the dish.  Place zucchini, onion and garlic and slices of tomato.  Top with the shredded cheese and grated Romano; repeat this process until all of the bread and veggies are used.

Finish with shredded cheese, grated Romano cheese and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Preheat Oven 350 degrees:

Bake this for 40-45 minutes.  Let the dish rest for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.