Let me just start by saying 2014 was an interesting year. Let's see.. The
flu right after Christmas. The fractured hand in February. A case of
food poisoning in April. And let's not forget that fractured ankle in
June. Seriously, my New Year's resolution for 2015 is to stay in one
piece! But this is a food blog so let's get to the point. Top Twelve
Best Dinners of 2014 -
January 18 - Becco. Even as I type this it was one of the most memorable meals I have had.
February 23 - Short Rib Pot Pie. I don't think I need to even say anything about this.
These meatballs are from Luca Manfé's My Italian Kitchen. They are his mother's meatballs and they are delicious! I did make 2 changes in the original recipe. I only used one egg, not adding the 2 egg yolks called for in the recipe and I put some Mozzarella cheese in the center of each meatball. I figured it couldn't hurt. Delicious!
So I have this homemade Ricotta that I am trying to use up. Chris gave me My Italian Kitchen by Luca Manfré. In it I found the recipe for Orecchiette with Zucchini, Ricotta and Mint. I had the Ricotta, the fresh mint and I have always wanted to make orrechette. Well I am on vacation so...
One of the other cookbooks Chris gave me was MasterChef. In it was a recipe for homemade Orecchiette. Okay first mistake was to use a new pasta recipe. I should have made my usual recipe. The MasterChef recipe was rather dry, but next time... Making or should I say shaping the Orecchiette took a while to get the shape right. I actually watched a couple YouTube videos of "older" Italian women making Orecchiette. Holy cow I was ready to give up after watching them. It was like they were on speed. It took me an hour and a half to make this pasta, just shaping it. Perhaps with practice I can reduce my production time.
Okay back to Luca's recipe. Pretty easy to follow. I make pasta with zucchini quite often. The addition of the mint lightened up the dish and I actually had the fresh mint in the fridge. Oh, I did make one change. I added a little white wine after adding the pasta to the saute pan. Sorry I could not help myself.
Ingredients - 1 16 oz. package of Orecchiette 3 tbsp. olive oil 1 shallot, finely minced 2 zucchini, ends trimmed, cut in half and sliced into half-moons Salt & Fresh ground pepper 1/4 cup white wine 1 cup ricotta cheese 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves Parmesan cheese Method - Heat 2 tbsp oil in saute pan over medium high heat. Add the shallots and zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Orecchiette and cook until al dente. Transfer the cooked pasta to the pan with the zucchini, adding some pasta water and the white wine. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the ricotta and the mint and turn off the heat. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.
Yes it is Sunday. Doesn't feel like a Sunday but I can deal with some time off. I had the pizza dough in the freezer. I sauteed some onions and cooked bacon for the topping. I had a little spinach left from our salad on Friday night. That got sauteed and seasoned with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. The sauce was just crushed tomatoes and oregano. The crust was put in the pan and then I let it rise in the pan for an hour. Some Parmesan was sprinkled on top and the sauce was spread onto the crust. I made half of the pie just bacon and onion. The other half had the spinach, some onions, fresh ricotta and olives. Parmesan and Mozzarella was sprinkled atop the whole pie and a bit of olive oil was splashed on top. Delicious!
We opened a bottle of wine which I gave Chris for Christmas, Apothic Dark. Very, very good!
Eating the day after Christmas seems unnecessary. But we must eat. And I had to keep it light. One of the nice things about having Christmas dinner at our house is that my sister gives us a pot of Cappelletti. I love this soup so much. Tonight we had the soup with a salad. The salad consisted of green leaf and baby spinach. I picked up Cherry Tomatoes and fresh Blueberries. Everything else was leftover. There were roasted nuts, some of the homemade Ricotta and olives and mint that were not used for the Crostini. I used one of my new cookbooks for the salad dressing. A Lemon Vinaigrette from My Italian Kitchen by Luca Manfré. It was perfect for the day after the Christmas and Christmas Eve feasts!
Dinner for four the day after consuming shall we say large meal. I tried to keep it on the small side. I really did try. Keeping it as simple as I could. What can I say. I guess I just can't keep it too simple...
We started with appetizers and cocktails.
Arancini, filled with Mozzarella with a side of Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter.
Christmas is the one holiday when I like to prepare and consume too much food. It is a holiday that is packed with memories of delicious dishes prepared by so many amazing cooks that I have been fortunate to know. I try to recreate at least one or two of those memories each year to share with others or at least enjoy myself. This year I had a lot of delicious memories starting of course with Christmas Eve dinner at my sister's house. There was a lot of seafood, I was trying to keep count but stopped counting when the fried smelts were put on the table. Lots of good wine and of course cookies!
The Fish Sauce with Fresh Pasta. That would have been enough.
But then there more...
Frittelle di Baccala
Baccala Salad, I like the spicy one!
Seafood Polpettes, my contribution to the dinner.
And Christmas Cookies!
Thank you to Lenore and Ralph for another memorable dinner!
I was driving home and I called Chris to discuss what we were ordering for dinner. Tonight was suppose to be Chinese takeout. But one of our phones was going dead. Okay, make it quick we will discuss what we eat when we meet up at home. No problem. As I am driving I think hopefully there are ravioli in the freezer.
And there was! And there was a container of steamed Broccoli Rabe. This meal was coming together. There was even a little pancetta and prosciutto in the fridge and an open jar of roasted red peppers.
I fried up the pancetta added the prosciutto and let that get crisp. Next I added the roasted red pepper and the Broccoli Rabe. Some salt, pepper, a little butter and of course some white wine. I let that cook for a bit and when the ravioli were done, I added them to the saute pan with a little pasta water. Delicious!
Well the tree is up. I have caught Lucy clawing at it once. Archie was comfortable under the tree.
Again a day filled with holiday activity so I made a quick soup, Lentil Soup from the Mark Bittman App, Mark Bittman's How to Cook . Perfect for a chilly evening. The bread, well that was from Meriano's Bakery. Seriously did you think I was going to make bread today too!
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 celery stalk, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 cup lentils, washed and picked over
1 bay leaf
6 cups chicken stock
Fresh ground pepper
Put the oil in a large deep pot over medium heat. When hot, add the
onion and cook, stirring frequently until soft, just a minute or two.
Add the carrot and celery and keep cooking and stirring until brightly
colored and hot about 2 minutes.
Add lentils, bay leaf and stock; sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.
Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cook stirring
occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
For breakfast I want to use up the cranberries I had in the freezer from our Thanksgiving Dinner, which I just realized I never posted, sorry.... I found this recipe on twopeasandtheirpod.com. These are the best scones I have made in long time.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup half and half
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tablespoons half and half
oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
or a silicone baking mat, set aside. (I used my Scone Pan, yes I have a Scone Pan!)
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your
fingers. Whisk into the flour mixture.
Add cold butter pieces to the flour mixture. Cut in butter using a
pastry blender, fork, or your hands. I prefer to use my hands. Mix
until you have pea size chunks of butter.
In a small glass measuring cup, whisk the half and half, eggs, and
vanilla extract together. Pour over dry ingredients and mix with a
spatula until moist. Gently stir in the fresh cranberries. Transfer
dough to a floured counter top and knead until dough comes together.
Shape dough into a large circle. Use a floured rolling pin to roll
out the scone dough. Cut dough into wedges and place on the prepared
baking sheet. Brush each scone with half and half and sprinkle
generously with turbinado sugar. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until scones
are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.