Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spaghetti Squash Chicken Parmesan

This was the second time I have made this for dinner. I did not post it the first time. We both loved this and Archie is happy whenever we have chicken. I cut the Spaghetti Squash in half. I had to pierce the shell a few times and microwave the squash for 4 minutes because the shell was so hard to cut. Once it cooled I cut it in half and removed the seeds. I brushed the inside with olive oil and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. The squash was placed on a baking sheet, flesh side down and put in a 375˚ oven for 45 minutes, or until the shell can be pierced with a fork.

The sauce was Marcella Hazan's Tomato, Onion and Butter Sauce and I had the breaded chicken cutlets in the freezer.

Once the squash was cool enough to handle I shredded the inside of each squash half so that the spaghetti strands were loosened. Then I mixed in a little of the sauce and some Parmesan. The cutlets were sliced and put on top of the squash. More sauce over that along with some Mozzarella and Parmesan. Some basil and oregano sprinkled on top and back in the oven for about 20 minutes. Delicious!

And it is starting to look like spring at our house!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Roasted Flat Iron Steak with Olive Oil-Herb Rub

What a treat for a mid week meal. I worked from home today so I started dinner at 5:30 and we sat down at the table at 6:30. No stress from sitting in traffic for over an hour. It was fun preparing a meal mid week. I know I am a geek but this is what I enjoy doing.

The recipe was from Cooking Light. I have made it before using the Flat Iron Steak and a Flank Steak. Flat Iron wins hands down. It was so tender and delicious. The herb rub was the perfect blend of flavors.

Roasted Flat Iron Steak with Olive Oil-Herb Rub

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (1 1/2-pound) flat iron steak, trimmed
Cooking spray
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium beef broth

Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
Sprinkle salt and pepper over steak. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add steak to pan; cook 1 minute on each side or until browned. Add wine and broth; cook 1 minute. Spread herb mixture over steak; place pan in oven. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting steak diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Serve with pan sauce.
Side dishes were Roasted Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus.

As I am typing this I have a black cat sitting on my arm. Tomorrow night we will have his favorite thing for dinner. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Buona Pasqua

Dinner at my sister's house. Got to see the my nephew and his family. 
Wish it was a little warmer outside but it was a lovely day with the family. 
Too much food as usual but I did pace myself this time.
On Easter it is best not to forget about the pies at the end of the meal.
Why do we have Rice and Wheat Pie after such a big meal?
When the Angel asked the women why they were crying at the empty tomb 
they said it was because they knew how much Italian women
would have to bake and cook on this day.

Passatelli. I don't care what Ralph says this was and remains
my favorite Easter dish.
 Lenore out did herself with this Rack of Lamb. 
She made a glaze of orange marmalade and lemon juice. 
It cooked in a 300˚ oven for about 2 hours. 
She covered the tips with foil and basted every 1/2 hour.
This was the most delicious meat dish I have had in quite a while. 
The meat was moist and tender and the crust was crispy.
The flavor was light and not fatty. I am sure it is just me but 
I usually find lamb a little fatty tasting.

 Rice Pie and Wheat Pie. The crusts were perfect.

Buona Pasqua!

Friday, March 25, 2016

In the Kitchen And Thinking About Mom and Dad

I was at Bishop's the other day and they had red peppers on sale. Whenever I see red peppers on sale I think of my Dad. He would go to Shop Rite and then I would get a call asking if I could stop by on my way home. He just could not pass up buying red peppers if they were on sale. Sometimes I would just pick up the peppers and other times he would have already roasted them. I do miss making those stops on my way home from work.

So I had to buy the peppers. I made a variation of  a recipe from Cooking with Chef Silvio book.

Roasted Peppers

3 large red pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper
4 tbsp bread crumbs

Cook the peppers on a sheet pan at 450˚, turning frequently, until charred all around. Place them in a closed brown paper bag and let rest for 1/2 hour. You should put the bag in a bowl, there may be leakage. After a 1/2 hour take the peppers out, remove stems and seeds, and peel. Cut into 1 inch strips and place in a bowl. Add olive oil, 2 tbsp of parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Give it a good mix.
Place peppers in shallow baking dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs, and bake at 400˚ for 10 minutes, or until the tops turns light brown and a bit crusty. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp. of parsley and serve. These are perfect served cold in a sandwich made with Italian Bread, of course.

Tonight was book club.  I brought over dessert. I had not made my Mom's Apple Squares in a very long time.  I had a large jar of Apple Sauce from the Bishop's.
I love this recipe. The house smelled so good. Chris came upstairs and asked what I was making. Mom's baking always made the house smell so comfortable. I think I achieved that with these Apple Squares.

Eleanor Lombardi's Apple Squares

Flour Mixture-
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks of butter, chilled
3 egg yolks, beaten
Apple Sauce Mixture -
1 3/4 cup apple sauce
grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Crumble in the butter. Add the egg yolks. The dough will be crumbly. 

Place 1/2 of the flour mixture in the bottom of a greased pan. I use the 8 inch Pyrex Square dish, that was the dish my Mom used. 

Mix the apple sauce, lemon, cinnamon, and cloves in a bowl and spread this mixture over the flour mixture in the pan. Top with remaining flour mixture. Bake 350˚ for 45 to 60 minutes. You want a little browning along the sides of the pan and the bottom to look slightly browned. Let cool and cut into bars.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Let Them Eat Meat Pie

Funny thing when you have a cat, I was working on this post the other night. I did not finish it and was planning on working on it in the morning. Well Archie, decided to walk across the keyboard and published this post. I did not realize it until I was at work the next day and received the post in my email. I read the title and thought, "What?" And it gets better, someone commented on the post. Lucky Archie is so cute!

Anyway here is the blog post -

Tonight we finally ate the Pizzagaina. Oh it is so worth the work and money. The crust, fugettaboutit. Spot on is what I would call it. The filling did not disappoint. I added some Sweet Capicola just because.

And I could not serve just Pizzagaina. I made a Caesar Salad using Romaine and Radicchio. The dressing was a variation of Lidia Bastianich's recipe. I left out the anchovies and the garlic.
Caesar Salad Dressing from Lidia's Italian American Kitchen-

2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 cloves of garlic
4 anchovy fillets
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 hard-boiled egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
fresh ground black pepper

Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and anchovies in a blender or work bowl of a food processor. Blend until smooth, adding some of the 1/3 cup olive oil if there is not enough liquid to move the mixture around the blender jar. Add the mustard, hard-boiled egg yolk, salt, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and remaining olive oil if any.  Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste the dressing; if it's a little too tangy, pour in a splash or two of olive oil and blend until it's incorporated.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Beans and Sausage

"This is really good." That's all that needs to be said about this dinner. Simple and pure comfort food. The recipe is from Every Night Italian by Giuliano Hazan.

From Every Night Italian, Salsicce e Fagioli - Beans and Sausage

1 1/2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves
1 1/4 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound pork sausages links

Put the olive oil and garlic in a heavy bottomed sauté pan large enough to hold the sausages in a single layer. Place it over medium-high heat and sauté the garlic cloves until lightly browned on all sides.

When the garlic is browning, coarsely chop the fresh sage. When the garlic has browned discard it. Add the chopped sage to the pan and cook stirring for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and beans. Season with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the sausages are already fairly salty.

Add the sausage. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium-low. Cover the pan and cook at a gentle simmer until the sausage feels tender when pricked with a fork, about 20 minutes. Check the pan occasionally and add a little water if all the liquid in the pan evaporates before the sausages are done. Do not be concerned if some of the beans become mashed during the cooking. It only adds to the lusciousness of the dish. Serve hot.

We drizzled our dishes with additional extra virgin olive oil and served with toasted Italian bread.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Stuffed Artichokes

This could be a perfect dinner.  
The recipe is from Food Blogga.
This is one of my favorite recipes.
It was very close to what I remember my mom making.
Wonderful food memories for a Monday night.
And yes we had a Meatless Monday!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday Dinner

Did you ever go to dinner at someone's house with the intention of documenting all the dishes and you start off well with photos and asking detailed questions about the dishes and then the food is so good that you stop taking photos and you just enjoy the food and the wine and the conversation. Well that is what happened today. We had dinner at Lenore and Ralph's house. Palm Sunday Dinner to be exact.
We started of with cocktails and then Ralph poured one of my Dad's Merlot's. It was very, very good. It brought back memories of the house and the basement and all the wine he made.

Then there was the antipasto. Seriously this could be the meal alone. No jars were opened for this. Everything was homemade. The Roasted Peppers, the Pickled Eggplant (sliced very thin), the pickled mushrooms and the Giardiniera.  Seriously who does this? It was so fresh and clean tasting. There were the cheese, including a provolone that I loved. There was the prosciutto and a most amazing thing. Cinghiale Salami. What! Yeah. I got to bring some of that home!
There was the tuna and olive and sardines and bread and I am sure I forgot something.

Next was the pasta dish. Homemade Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli served with Parmigiano Cheese and Olive Oil. Yes I had two servings of this. And this is when I stopped being a food blogger and just ate and enjoyed the meal.

There was the main course. Roasted Chicken, delicious. Green Peas, from the garden, and Butternut Squash, also from the garden.  There was a little person at the table who loved the peas!

We finished off with Zeppoles. Lenore cut them in quarters so I had a 1/4 Chocolate and 1/4 Vanilla.

I also got a heads up one next week's Easter menu. One of my favorite things will be on the table. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

We Are Back And We Are Baking!

The laptop is back and running nicely, thank God for Apple Care! So what did I do today?

It was Pizzagaina day at our house. I use to make these on Good Friday but I will see my brother Stephen tomorrow for Palm Sunday dinner, so it made sense to bake them today. I started at 9:30AM and took the last pie out of the oven at 2:30PM. 
I made the dough earlier in the week and froze it.

Last night I was up until 11PM cutting all the meat and cooking the sausage. Today I just added the cut up Basket Cheese to the meat mixture and started baking. 

Luckily I have my Mom's rolling pin because my rolling pin of 35 years just did not want to roll easily. It seemed like there was an issue with the handle and the roller. Time to look for a new one. 

Towards the end of the pie productions I decided to try muffin size Pizzagainas. It took a couple of attempts with the dough but this an idea I will revisit next year. 

Of course I could not stop with the pies. I made Stuffed Artichokes too. More on those later this week. 

Dinner? Seriously there was NO WAY I was about to cook dinner. We had our usual Pizzagaina baking day dinner.  Pizza. 

Tonight we ordered from New Haven Apizza & Bakery. A Sausage and Pepper Pie and Eggplant with Mozzarella Pie. Wow they were delicious.

At the end of the day I checked my FitBit. And those are all miles and steps in the kitchen! Does it count if it is in one room?

And here are some more photos from the Pizzagaina Baking Day. The recipe is at the end of this post. I am heading to bed!

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. The dough and also be frozen.

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

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."

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. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Flounder Piccata

What to make for dinner on a Friday during Lent can be a tough call. How much pasta can we eat in one week. Beans or veggies are good but they are not usually requested.  Fish is something we do not eat enough of and I have no explanation why we don't. Tonight we had Flounder Piccata from and it was a huge hit. I loved it. Chris loved and a couple of cats were very excited about dinner. The fish with the breading was so light and the sauce was perfect. And under 300 calories per serving. Nice! For sides we had Roasted Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus.
Flounder Piccata recipe from (serves 4)-

4 flounder fillets (17 oz total)
freshly ground black pepper
2 large egg whites
2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
olive oil spray (about 1 tbsp worth)
1 tbsp light butter
juice of 1 lemon, lemon halves reserved
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fat free chicken broth
1 tbsp capers, drained
sliced lemon, for serving
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Season fish with salt and pepper.  Heat oven to 200°.
In a shallow bowl, beat the egg whites. Place the bread crumbs in another dish. Dip each fish fillet in the egg whites, then bread crumbs.
Heat a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Spray a generous amount of olive oil spray on one side of the fish, and lay it in the pan, oil side down. Spray the other side of the fish generously to coat and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until fish is opaque and cooked through. Set aside on a platter in a warm oven until you make the sauce.

Over medium heat in the same pan, melt butter, add the lemon juice, wine, chicken broth and the reserved lemon halves, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Boil over high heat until the liquid is reduced to half, about 3 - 4 minutes. Discard the lemon halves, add the capers and spoon the sauce over the fish; place a slice of lemon on each fillet and top with fresh parsley.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Another Satisfied Customer

Visited my nephew and his family this weekend. 
Of course I brought cookies. 
Can't show up empty handed.