Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween at Red Hen

We do not get many Trick or Treaters. Okay we do not get any. So Halloween we usually eat out. It's our little tradition. This year Chris picked Red Hen in Old Saybrook, or as I now call it, my new favorite restaurant.
We had drinks at the bar, a Dirty Martini for me. The dining room was small and cozy. The food was perfect. For appetizers we had the Bowl of Tiny Meatballs. (No photo??) They were served in an arrabbiata sauce and served on arugula. They were a spicy meatball! Note to Lenore - There was crushed red pepper in the meatballs. We also had the Rhode Island Calamari. Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

For dinner Chris had Braised Short Ribs with Gnocchi. The meat was delicious but the gnocchi were not as light as they could have been. The dish would have been better with noodles or polenta or mashed potatoes. Sorry just my opinion.

I had a special, Roast Cod. It was prepared with artichoke hearts, capers, olives, spinach and potatoes. I usually end up bringing leftovers home, something for lunch on Monday. Well I cleaned my plate.

Then there was dessert. White Chocolate Cashew Bread Pudding with Caramel Marsala. OMG. Crazy good. My mouth was so happy. The texture and flavors were perfect.

And the wine was a good pick too!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Tagliatelle con Fagioli e Pancetta

So I went to the library last week and took out some cookbooks. One was Biba's Taste of Italy. I have cooked from "From Biba's Italian Kitchen." This book, Biba's Taste of Italy, is packed with must try recipes. I found the recipe for Tagliatelli with Beans and Proscuitto. I had Proscuitto in the freezer but I had Pancetta in the fridge so I made a slight alteration.  Also I did not use heavy cream. I used low fat milk. This was delicious. Chris loved it! The noodle were homemade which I am sure added to the delicious flavors that were on the plate.
Tagliatelli with Beans and Pancetta, with my changes -

1 1/2 cups cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 pound pancetta, diced
1/3 cup diced onion
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
5 tbsp tomato paste diluted in 5 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 pounds tagiatelle noodles
1/2 cup parmigiano-Reggiano

Saute the Pancetta until crisp. Remove from the pan. Saute the onion in the butter.  Add the pancetta and the beans and stir for a minute or two. Add the diluted tomato paste and the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered stirring from time to time, until the sauce has a medium thick consistency, about 12 to 15 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add salt and the pasta, cook uncovered, until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite. Reserve some pasta water.
Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce. Add some cheese and stir until combined, adding pasta water if too dry. Adjust seasoning and serve with remaining Parmigiano.

To go with this dish I made Pizza di Scarola, the recipe is from Naples at Table: Cooking in Compania. The recipe calls for anchovies which I did not have. Constructing the Pizza was a little hard to follow. Mine turned out like a calzone, but I thought it should have been more pie-like. Maybe next time. And the recipe called for raisins. A lot of Italian recipes call for raisins. My mom did not use them. I added them to this but I think I will leave them out next time. Here is my version of Pizza di Scarola.

Pizza dough
1 head escarole
2 tbsp cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch hot pepper flakes
1/3 cup Gaeta olives, sliced
2 tbsp salted capers, thoroughly rinsed
2 tbsp raisins
Olive oil for baking

Method -
Wash and chop the escarole. Cut it into fine pieces. Saute in olive oil. Add crushed red pepper, cover and let steam and sizzle for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir and cook another few minutes until the heavy white ribs are just tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add the olives, capers and raisins. Cook uncovered for about 15 minutes. Cool before using.
At least 30 minutes before baking place an oven rack on the lowest level with a pizza stone and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Roll out the dough and place the filling on one half and fold over the other half. Sealing the edges. Brush the top with olive oil.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes until nicely browned.
Let it rest and cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ham and Toast Torte

On Facebook I follow Blog Gialozafferano. When the post for this recipe I had to make it. Toast Torte. Oh this was such a good dinner. I made it on Sunday, of course, and Chris heated it up as I drove through the worst rain storm I have seen in quite a while. This with a glass of wine were the perfect things to come home to.

Here is the recipe, thank you Google Translate, with my revisions....

Italian Bread Slices
Sliced Rosemary Ham
Sliced Grana Padano
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan
a drizzle of olive oil
4 tablespoons of bread crumbs
salt to taste

Line a spring form pan with parchment paper.
In a bowl mix the breadcrumbs, oregano, Parmesan, a pinch of salt and a little oil. Mix with a fork. Set aside.
We compose the cake by  making a layer of bread, than the cheese slices, then the slices of ham. Add some of the egg. Do another row and end with a layer of bread. Top with remaining egg and sprinkle the Breadcrumb mixture on top.
Bake in a hot oven at 375degrees for 20-25 minutes, until 'the surface you will be' golden. Let cool before cutting. This cake rustic 'also excellent cold as a snack!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Fagiolata can be translated as a "mess o'beans". I found this recipe in Naples At Table. Chris loved this. I loved it too.

This my take on the original recipe -
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
8 oz. fully cooked sausage, Salami, Soppressata or pepperoni, cut into bits size pieces
2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped, with juices
4 cups tomato puree
Hot pepper oil to taste
2 tbsp chopped parsley, or basil, sage or celery leaves
14 oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

In a large pot over medium heat, want the oil, add the onion and sauté until very tender, about 8 minutes.
Add the sausage and toss it with the onion over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree. Bring to a simmer then adjust the heat so tomatoes simmer simmer gently for about 20 minutes, until the mixture cooks down to a medium-bodied sauce.
Add the remaining ingredients. Heat through for about 10 minutes. 

Don't forget the Italian Bread with this dinner!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sausage, Eggs and Potatoes In Tomato Sauce

I am not sure where I even found the original recipe for tonight's dinner. Uova e patate pizzaiola. It might have been on Pinterest but I saw the photos, somewhere, and when I visited the sight it was written in Italian. So I made use of Google Translate. This was so good. The sauce was Amazing! First I sauteed a diced onion. Then I added a can of crushed tomatoes, seasoning it with oregano, salt and pepper. I had some Guy Fieri Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese Sausage. That got sliced up and put in the pan. Oh I had some sauteed red peppers and onions from our Steak and Cheese Sandwiches and yes that too went into the pan. The potatoes were slices and boiled until just tender. They were drained and added to the pan. Next I poached 4 eggs in the sauce.  Covering the pan, that took about 10 minutes. Lastly I removed the cover and added slices of Grana Padano cheese. Comfort Food! Italian bread is required.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lasagna Cupcakes

Time for Book Club! Our first book gathering was held at my house. We had read Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave. In the book the Mother makes a Lasagna that has a secret ingredient. The secret ingredient is Chocolate. Chocolate is added to the sauce. Really? I had never heard of this. A pinch of sugar, yes, but not Chocolate. Then I thought of a Mole Sauce and did some online investigating. I found a video of the book's author making sauce and adding Chocolate. Then I found a recipe from Sicily that added Chocolate to a Meat Sauce. So I did it. I added about a 1/2 teaspoon to about 3 cups of my Mom's Meat Sauce recipe. It was quite good. It added a little depth to the sauce.

I did not want to make a tray of Lasagna so I lined cupcake trays with parchment paper and layered the noodles (yes I cut the Lasagna noodles with a round cookie cutter), Ricotta, the sauce and Mozzarella cheese. I topped the cupcakes with sauce and cheese. A hit!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Meatball Pizza

A damn good pie. 
Homemade meatballs. 
Jim Lahey's pizza crust recipe.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Vegetable Frittatta Sandwiches with Bacon

I thought I would do a vegetable frittatta. I did make a frittatta with onion, zucchini and red pepper. But there was bacon in the fridge so I added it to the sandwiches. We used the Panini press to grill them. Just a delicious meal.

I had today off and it was the perfect day to have breakfast on the deck. Toasted Italian Bread with Nutella. I can not think of anything better!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pasta Pie

I think it is safe to assume that when you see posts about a pasta dish you will see this recipe a few days later. The Pasta Pie. The recipe is from a Chef Silvio's book, Cooking With Chef Silvio: Stories and Authentic Recipes from Campania. I used leftover pasta from Friday night. This was so damn good. The pasta was good the night I made it, but it was baked over the top.

3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup pecorino romano cheese
1/3 cup milk
1 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper
12 oz cooked pasta, cold
2 tbsp butter

In a bowl, beat the eggs, grated cheese, cream, parsley, salt and pepper until well combined. Stir in the spaghetti, then set aside. Place the butter in a deep pie tin and melt the butter in a 425 degree oven, and spread over the pan bottom. Pour the spaghetti mixture into the buttered pan and spread evenly. Bake at 425 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes,or until it is firm and golden.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Minestra Maritata

When my Mom started to forget things, I sat her down and wrote down her recipes. I got her recipe for Minestra Maritata but that piece of paper has disappeared. I am sure it will turn up some day, but until then I am searching for something that comes close to her recipe for Minestra Maritata. This recipe is pretty close. Time consuming? Yes. Saturday was the perfect day to make this. I put eight ziplock bags of this in the freezer! And it was good. But there was one comment. Chris remarked that he remembered having this at my apartment before we were married. That was my Mom's. Those amazing CARE packages she sent over! And he remembered the pieces of meat being larger. Yes, she did add ribs.... After we get through these 8 bags of Minestra Maritata I will make a batch hopefully closer to what we both remember.
Click here for this recipe.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pasta with Meat Sauce

 This is my Mom's Meat Sauce recipe. It is love on a plate.

Ingredients -
Olive Oil
Ground Beef
Sweet Sausage
Crushed Tomatoes
Boneless Chicken Thighs
Tomato Paste

Method -
Brown the ground beef and sausage in large pot in hot olive oil. Drain fat from pot. Add tomatoes. Heat to simmer. Add chicken thighs. Cover pot and simmer for about 3 hours. Season pot with oregano, salt, pepper, basil and parsley. If the sauce seems thin add tomato paste. Simmer about a half hour more. Shred the chicken meat into small pieces.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Chicken with Bacon and Leeks and a Rainy Day in the Kitchen

I do not even know where to start! Today the weather was rainy and windy. So I headed for the kitchen. Last night I started Jim Lahey's Olive Bread. I added chopped rosemary from the plant on the deck. I made Minestra for later in the week. Not one pot but two pots! I am stocking the freezer. I made a large pot of my Mom's Meat Sauce. I made a batch of Marcella Hazan's Tomato, Onion and Butter sauce using San Marzano Tomatoes from Bishop's Orchard. I made that Pasta Pie using last night's leftovers. I made a Frittatta, just vegetables.
I made Whole Wheat English Muffins and I baked the Olive and Rosemary Bread. I think I will sleep well tonight.
Dinner was an old favorite. Chicken with Bacon and Leeks. It was similar to a recipe from the restaurant where Chris and I. But I did not use heavy cream. Oh the chicken was so moist!
The side dishes were Aborio Rice and Olive Bread with Broccoli Rabe, Tomato and Burrata. Only problem was that I am the only one that likes Broccoli Rabe.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pasta with Sausage, Chicken and Vegetables

This started out as Pasta with Sausage and Peppers, Onion, Zucchini and Yellow Squash. Then I remembered I had some leftover Pollo all'Arancia e Olive. I hate to waste anything so that was added to the pan. This was so good. But I always make too much! What will I do with the leftovers? A Pasta Pie, of course!