Monday, October 27, 2014

Italian Wedding Soup, My Way

I love this soup. Chris loved this soup. It was perfect for a cool day. While searching for a recipe for Italian Wedding Soup, and after reading a lot of different recipes, I settled on this version.

First of all, for the meatballs I used sausage meat. I used the same procedure as I was using for the hamburgers this summer, with a couple of changes. I  chopped up 2 slices of rye bread and added about 2 tablespoons of milk. That was left to sit for a moment. Then the bread and milk were mashed up and a beaten egg along with Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and salt and pepper were mixed into the bread. The meat was added. The mixture seemed a little too moist so I added some plain bread crumbs until I was comfortable with the consistency. I do not usually add egg to my meatballs so I had to adjust for that. One of the many recipes added an egg so that's why I did. Anyway, I shaped the meat into smaller than golf ball sized meatballs. A baking sheet was lined with parchment paper and the meatballs were placed on the baking sheet and into the oven at 350˚ for 30 minutes.

The soup was started by sautéing chopped onions, carrots and celery in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I added 4 cups of chicken broth to the pan and let that simmer. Swiss chard which was chopped up was added along with the meatballs and some chopped up chicken meat I had in the freezer from when the broth was made. There was a little rice left over for Saturday's dinner and that went in the pot too. Salt, pepper and thyme was added. I squeezed the juice from a half of a lemon into the pot. And that is how I made my soup.

I am so glad I made a large pot of this, looking forward to taking this out of the freezer.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Patty Melt

When I was flipping through last month's Bon Appetit magazine and saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. What's not to like? Hamburgers, caramelized onions, Swiss Cheese and Cheddar. Did the mayonnaise on the bread make a difference? Well, it didn't hurt. Click here for the recipe. Dinner was a huge hit. The Patty Melts were so juicy and the onions and cheese were the perfect combo. This may be put in regular rotation along with Sunday night pizza.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chicken Parmesan

This weekend I went to Robert's with my 20% off meat coupon. I love this sale and I think it is one of my husband's favorites! We have a pretty stocked freezer. I did not go overboard. I stuck to the basics. I did buy 2 pounds of chicken cutlets, I should have gotten 3 pounds, but I was trying to be frugal. On Sunday I made my Mom's Chicken Cutlets. I love having these in the freezer.

Tonight I topped the cutlets with some of that sauce from Sunday night's pizza along with some Mozzarella and Parmesan. Popped in the oven for about 25 minutes. Oh, this was so delicious. They tasted just like what I remember my Mom's tasting like.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Escarole, Sausage and Bean Soup

The fall means cooking "comfort foods" for dinner.  One of ours, well one of mine, is Escarole, Sausage and Bean Soup. I like just about anything with Escarole.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage
2 small onions, cut into wedges
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 19-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 small head escarole, tough stems removed and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Cook the sausage, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.
Add onions to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6 minutes.
Add the wine and broth and bring to a boil. Add the beans, escarole, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the escarole wilts, 3 minutes.
Spoon into bowls and top with the Parmesan.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

We Do Love Pizza

Was that pizza last Sunday a fluke? Well, one way to find out is making it again! Even made it in the heart shape.

One pie was onion, pancetta and bacon, guess who's pie that was. 
And the other was hot and sweet peppers, artichoke hearts and olives. Both had Mozzarella and Parmigiana cheese. They were both delicious. So we will be making our pizzas using this recipe from this day forward.

Being Sunday I had to do some bread baking. Kept it simple and used the 18 hour recipe. This is a no fail bread.

Last night we ate dinner with Lenore and Ralph. Ralph has a few fig trees that he got from my Dad. They were small and probably in coffee cans he received them. Last night Ralph gave me a bag with some figs from these trees.
This is the stuff that dreams are made of. As I bit into the fig I was back in my parent's yard standing next to my Dad who was waiting to see if I liked the fig. It was delicious and perfectly ripe. A lovely food memory.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chicken, Pancetta, Apples and Leeks

Before I get to dinner, I want to say Happy Birthday to my sister Lenore.

I know I have told you all about the restaurant that Chris and I worked in when we met, Nancy Lee's. There was a dish on the menu, Chicken with Leeks and Bacon. It was delicious. Well, I took it up a notch tonight. Bacon, no I used Pancetta. Pancetta always wins out over bacon. And the apples were a nice addition

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy Anniversary Heart Shaped Pizza

Have you seen this month's Bon Appetit? The photo on the cover is a of a pizza baked in the type of pan that I use. A rectangle baking pan. That is how my mom did it and that is what I do. Now in the article they describe a step that I remember my mom doing, but I have not up until tonight. Put the dough in the pan and let it rise again. Okay, this was the missing link in why my pizza did not match what my mom put on the table. I was not doing that last step. There was a snap to crust. It was crisper than before. Chris agreed this was the way to proceed in making pizza. A note to my nephew Nicholas- you have to try this! And I added some Parmesan cheese to the crust before the sauce. I followed the Bon Appetit recipe for the sauce, minus the anchovies. This was the best pizza I have had since I was little and eating my mom's pizza on a Sunday night. I still used the Jim Lahey recipe for the crust. I was not about to stray from that recipe.

And the heart shape was because today is our Wedding Anniversary!

And while we are on the subject of Jim Lahey I made his Pane Integrale, Whole Wheat Bread recipe.

We had our egg and cheese sandwiches on it for breakfast this morning.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pork Chops and Homemade Apple Sauce

I made an amazingly delicious apple sauce to accompany tonight's breaded pork chops. The moist and delicious pork chops. The Apple Sauce was Alton Brown's recipe.

This is my version of his recipe, I just used different apples.

6 Macintosh apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
1 cup unfiltered apple juice
2 tablespoons cognac 
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a sealable microwave-safe container, combine apples with all other ingredients. Close lid, leaving one corner of lid open to allow steam to escape. Microwave on high for 10 minutes.

Using a hand blender or potato masher, blend to desired consistency. Serve hot immediately or chill for later use.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Spicy Sausage Pasta

I found the recipe for Spicy Sausage Pasta on the blog, Kevin & Amanda. Loved this dish. One pan to wash. Perfect for a Friday night. The spice level was not too much. The sauce was delicious. I used some of the homemade Chicken broth that I had in the freezer. And I used Al Fresco Chicken Sausage, with Roasted Pepper and Asiago.
1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb smoked sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced

1.5 cups diced onion

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 (10 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, Mild

1/2 cup heavy cream

8 oz Campanelle pasta

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions

1. Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

3. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.

And 23 years ago tonight was our wedding rehearsal dinner. It was held at the Guilford Tavern, which sadly is no longer open. Today I received 2 dozen roses from Chris.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Beef and Barley Onion Soup

Remember the Braised Short Ribs? Well, there was stock left over. I do believe that is what made this soup over the top delicious. I found this recipe, Beef and Barley Onion Soup, which I was pretty sure Chris would like.

I made a few changes in the original recipe. I did not use the mushrooms. And I did not add the slice of bread and place the bowl under the broiler. I do not have soup bowls that can go under the broiler and they do not have them in stock at Bed Bath Beyond, yes, I stopped on my way home to see if I could pick up 2 bowls. So we just sprinkled the cheese on top.

Wow Wow Wow. This was delicious. I am sure it would be just as good with a canned beef broth, but I was happy to be able to use the stock up.

This is my version of Beef and Barley Onion Soup-

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil, divided
2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup chopped shallots or onion
2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 (12-ounce) lean boneless sirloin steak, cut into 2-inch strips
4 cups water
2/3 cup uncooked pearl barley
1/4 cup dry sherry
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
10 1/2-ounce beef stock
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, shallots, and ginger; sauté 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the sugar, and beef. Sauté 10 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add the next 4 ingredients (water through consommé); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 50 minutes or until barley is tender. Stir in 1 teaspoon sesame oil.
Sprinkle bowls of soup with shredded Swiss Cheese.

This Note is from the original recipe. Note: This soup will freeze well for up to two months. Pour into an airtight container, leaving enough room for expansion (usually an inch or two at the top). To reheat, thaw completely in the refrigerator; then place contents in a saucepan over low heat, adding some liquid if necessary.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

One Tray Bake

Who doesn't love Jamie Oliver recipes? Super easy to follow and the results are always delicious. This is such a good recipe. The flavors were perfect. Even the burnt on pieces at the bottom of the pan were enjoyed.

Small ciabatta loaf
8 chicken thighs or drumsticks (I used a whole chicken cut into parts)
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
Bunch of basil, leaves picked
1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves, skin on
Handful of black olives, stoned
Olive oil
1 dried red chili
8 slices of pancetta, or thin-sliced smoked streaky bacon

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚.  Get a deep roasting tray big enough to fit all the chicken in one layer. Rip the ciabatta into medium-sized chunks and place in the tray with the chicken, tomatoes, basil, garlic cloves and olives. Add a generous drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and the chili. Toss to mix up well, then reposition the chicken on top. Bake in the oven, turning the chicken after 30 minutes.

2. After another 30 minutes, drape the pancetta or bacon on top of the chicken and return to the oven for 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and falling off the bone.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pollo alla Cacciatore, Hunter-Style Chicken

For tonight's dinner, I returned to La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy for Pollo alla Cacciatore, Hunter-Style Chicken. There a a couple of recipes for Cacciatore in the cookbook, but this is our favorite.

Pollo alla Cacciatore, Hunter-Style Chicken

2 tbsp. Unsalted butter
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 chicken, cut in pieces 
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 lb. Plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I used a can of crushed tomatoes)
1 red pepper; cleaned of seeds and chopped
Salt and pepper 

Method- Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan and add the onion. When it is golden, add the chicken pieces and let them brown. Pour in the wine, add the tomatoes and peppers, adjust the salt and pepper. Cover and cook at low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Farro and Beet Salad

Not quite a meatless Monday at our house tonight. I picked up our favorite BBQ Sauce

I shredded the pork that was left over from Saturday night. Mixed the pork with the BBQ Sauce. A couple of rolls and some sliced cheese. Done!  This was a perfect quick fix dinner.

Now about the Farro and Beet Salad. When I was at Bishop's the other night I saw beets with the greens still attached. My brain started churning and I came up with tonight's salad. I roasted the beets, they were so small and cute. The greens were sauteed in olive oil, seasoned with the usual salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. The Farro was prepared following the instructions on the bag. The greens, Farro and roasted beets were mixed with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. The seasoning were adjusted and it was done.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Maiale al Latte

Well, I don't know how you spend a rainy Saturday but I was in the kitchen, and at the Vet with Lucy. I got an eblast from Tasting Table this week with the recipe, Maiale al Latte. The recipe originates from Emilia-Romagna. I was intrigued. I was leery about milk, but wow. Okay, it did boil over in the oven. Drats. But the meat. My God the meat was amazing. So tender, knives are not needed. And the flavors! Rosemary, Sage and Lemon. My taste buds are smiling.

And while I was in the kitchen I tried a new cookie recipe. Buttery Nutella Rolled Cookies. The recipe is from Cooking With Nonna. Oh, I love that blog! I think I have a new favorite cookie recipe. Seriously, this IS my new favorite cookie.

Now about the Vet visit with Lucy. Anyone out there have any experiences with epileptic fits in cats. Lucy had a seizure last night and I googled epileptic fits in cats after it happened, hoping nothing would show up. But what I read was exactly what happened. It was scary. Very scary. We will get the blood work results on Monday. Fingers and paws crossed.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Take Out!

A rather long day at work. Even though I worked from home at 6pm I was not about to make dinner. Jei Mei came to the rescue. Chris had Szechuan Beef and Egg Rolls and I had a special order, Szechuan Tofu. Wow, it was really good. We had some Fried Dumplings too. Perfect dinner and super easy clean up.