Sunday, February 28, 2010

Manfrigul Pasta Balls

Tonight I made Chris a Fried Pepper Panini and we both had some soup.

The soup was from... La Cucina! Manfrigul Pasta Balls. Interesting soup. The recipe comes from the Emilia-Romagna region. Fun to make, loved the little pasta balls and I have enough leftover soup for at least 3 lunches this week. The pasta was made with flour, eggs, Parmigiano, lemon zest and nutmeg. Just a delicious soup.

For breakfast this morning I made Whole Wheat muffins. The muffin recipe comes for the Mark Bittman blog. There was a video for the recipe and I was writing down the ingredients as he went along but I noticed on the video he had an egg out on the table but did not mention using the egg. I knew something was not right. It had to have an egg but he always mentions all the ingredients... So I checked another site for a Wheat Muffin recipe, Joy of Baking, and found a recipe very close to his and it used 2 eggs. So that's what I did. They are the most delicious muffins I have ever had. When I put the pan in the oven the pan was so heavy but the baked muffin is as light as air. Well maybe not as light as air but not that heavy.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Parmesan Chicken and Tortelli Filled with Swiss Chard

Today I was reading the Mark Bittman blog, Bitten which lead me to a recipe for Parmesan Chicken. There was a video featuring Mark Bittman and Jamie Oliver. I knew the last name would get your attention. This was so simple to make. It came out moist and the flavors from the herbs and lemon peel were delicious. I used organic chicken for this dish.

As a side dish we had Tortelli Filled with Swiss Chard, a recipe from La Cucina. The recipe comes from the Emilia-Romagna region. I made these last weekend and froze them. I did cheat with this recipe by using Wonton Wrappers for the dough instead of making fresh pasta.


For Filling:

1 bunch Swiss chard

1 1/2 lbs ricotta

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 egg

pinch grated nutmeg


For the Sauce:

1 cup unsalted butter, melted (I only dused 1/2 cup, 1 stick)

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Clean the greens, cutting away the stalks, and boil them just until bright green. Remove them from the water, squeeze them dry, and leave to drain.
Combine the ricotta with the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and butter. Chop the boiled greens and work together with the cheese mixture along with the egg, a pinch of salt and nutmeg. Arrange small amount of filling on the wonton wrappers and fold to form the Tortelli. Cook the Tortelli in lightly salted boiling water for 15 minutes or until they float (this took my tortelli only 5 minutes, I tasted one and it was cooked), then drain thoroughly. Combine the melted butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Arrange some of the tortelli in a single layer in a deep bowl. Spoon over some the sauce and repeat the layers using all the tortelli.

This was a big hit. There was a comment about the green stuff in the tortelli but they seemed to disappear.

We had a bottle of Fat Cat Pinot Noir with the meal. It was a simply delicious Saturday night meal.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Monkfish with Olives

Tonight we had Squardo Alla Matalotta, Monkfish with Olives from La Cucina. The recipe is from Sicily. My mom put monkfish in her sauce for Christmas Eve. I don't think I have used it in a recipe before. The dish had wonderful flavors. The recipe called for 2 lbs of fish but I used 1 lb for the two of us. The other ingredients I used the amounts the recipe had listed.

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 med onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced (I did not mince the garlic, just cut it in half for easy removal)
12 green olives, pitted and chopped
1 tbsp. capers
2 tbsp. flat leaf parsley
A few basil leaves
1/2 cup tomato puree (I added more than a 1/2 cup)
2 lbs monkfish or halibut fillet, sliced

Heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the onion and garlic.
Add the olive, capers, parsley, basil and tomato puree.
Stir, then add the fish and cook for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the slices.

We had couscous and zucchini and yellow squash as side dishes and Chris picked up a nice bottle of Gouguenheim Valle Escondido Torrontes.

And speaking of Chris, he has some great pictures of the birds who have visited our yard posted on his blog, The Bird Station. I can't wait for the Hummingbirds to come back!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pasta with Meat Sauce

Easy to prepare when I have the sauce in the freezer. The portion of sauce we had was a little light so we added some Paul Sorvino Marinara Sauce to it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sausage and Cherry Tomato Bake

I had made this dish last year and it was as good as the last time it was made. The recipe comes from the Jamie Oliver book, Jamie At Home. I did make sure we had enough bread because the sauce is delicious.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pane Cotto Escarole and Beans Casserole and The Bird Station

Have you ever dreamt of Escarole and Beans. Well I have. I have been looking forward to making this for a couple of weeks now. The recipe comes from The New Haven Register and I posted it last April. The greens, the beans, the bread. It's the stuff dreams are made of. At least my dreams.
Big news from The Bird Station blog. "Wingscapes", the company that makes the "Bird Cam" motion activated camera which I gave Chris for Christmas featured one of his photos on their website and their FaceBook page! Congratulations Chris!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Braised Beef Short Ribs

I took a break from the La Cucina cookbook today. I actually revisited some older blog posts that I had bookmarked. Tonight's dinner comes from Smitten Kitchen, Braised Beef Short Ribs. There are certain meals that remind me of winter and Short Ribs is one of them. Probably because having the oven on for 3 hours in the summer is not going to happen. This is an easy to prepare dish. The house smelled so good today. Kramer was beside himself trying to get to the ribs. Archie did not seem to notice...

As a side dish I made one of my favorites, Roasted Cauliflower. The last time I had Roasted Cauliflower was when I got it from La Rosticceria. I loved it and I wanted to try to make it myself. I found a recipe which seemed close to what I had from La Rosticceria. It was as good. Yippee! The recipe if from the We also had mashed potatoes.

Did a bit of baking this weekend. I made Hot Cross Buns. I got the recipe from my sister who got it from our mom. They came out perfect, nice and moist. Hot Cross Buns are the best part of Lent.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Homemade Rough-Cut Pasta with Leeks

Has anyone seen the film Food Inc? It will make you rethink your trip to the grocery store.

Tonight's recipe came from La Cucina. Its crazy how the recipes in this book are pretty simple to make and the results are so good. Homemade Rough-Cut Pasta with Leeks, Maltagliati Di Porro, from the Piedmonte region. I have been trying different homemade pasta recipes. Tonight I tried Giada de Laurentiis's recipe. 3 cups flour, 4 eggs, 1 tbsp. salt and 1 tbsp. olive oil. Winner! Next time I will try the recipe in La Cucina. That one calls for olive oil and lard... I checked online and Crisco is good substitute for lard and there is a now a non-trans fat Crisco.

Anyway back to the recipe...

For the sauce:
2 tbsp. butter
4 leeks, cleaned and sliced in rounds
1/2 cup heavy cream
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Roll out pasta in a thin sheet (set machine to last setting) and cut in medium-size squares. (Note: Have plenty of space set aside to spread out dish towels sprinkled with flour to place your cut pasta).
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a pan over low heat. Saute the leeks until softened.
Cook the pasta in lightly salted boiling water.
Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the leeks. Stir in the cream, add the cheese and serve hot.

We had a nice bottle of Coppola 2006 Syrah-Shiraz. I could really taste the black cherry and strawberry. Just not sure what a currant tastes like.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cod with Peppers

This should have been Sole with Peppers but amazingly the 2 stores I went to were out of sole. So Cod was substituted. Once again a recipe for La Cucina. This comes from the Calabria region. The recipe was simple and very good. Very, very good.

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced (oops I forgot to add this)
3/4 lb. sweet peppers, cored, seeded and minced
1 2/3 cups chopped fresh plum tomatoes (I used a can of plum tomatoes)
2 lbs. sole, cleaned, rinsed and dried

Heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the onions and garlic until they take on color, then add the peppers and tomatoes
Cook at low heat for 15 minutes, then add the sole.
Add salt to taste, cover the pan, and cook at low heat, shaking the pan from time to time.

For dishes sides I sauteed spinach and made some minute rice.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vegetable Soup with Squash and Barley

Zuppa Di Legumi Con Zucca E Orzetto, Vegetable Soup with Squash and Barley, from the Puglia region. Another recipe for La Cucina.
When Chris first saw the soup he did not seem impressed. After his 2nd bowl I knew it was good. And was it good. I had Roasted Butternut Squash in the freezer and White Bean Puree from a previous soup. I used the puree with a little vegetable broth so we had another meatless meal.

1/4 cup olive oil
4 oz. yellow winter squash, peeled and cut into cubes
2 cups broth
1 celery stalk
1 carrot
1 garlic clove
1 medium onion
1/2 lb. legumes (chickpeas, cannelli, and/or cranberry beans), cooked, liquid reserved
6 oz. barley cooked in water
1 tsp. chili-pepper flakes or 1 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
Peasant-style bread, slice and toasted

Heat half of the olive oil in pot; add the squash and saute until it begins to take on a little color.
Add the broth, and simmer until the squash is done; set aside and keep warm.
Chop together the celery, carrot, garlic and onion. Heat the remaining olive oil in a pot and saute the vegetables; add the legumes and their water, then add the squash and barley.
Adjust for salt and add chili pepper flakes or parsley. Serve with slices of toasted peasant-style bread.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Baked Macaroni with Eggplant

Another recipe from La Cucina, The Regional Cooking of Italy. Timballo Di Maccheroni 1, Baked Macaroni with Eggplant. This recipe comes from Sicily.
Unfortunately the camera is in hiding... I think either Kramer or Archie might know its whereabouts. But back to dinner.
This was a delicious dinner. For being a baked macaroni dish it was very light. It used the sauce I had made on Sunday and put on the pizza. This dish will reappear in the blog at sometime. I cut the recipe in half but this is the recipe as it appears in the book. The recipe calls for lardo. I did not use lardo so this meal was meatless. Perfect for Lent.

3 eggplants, cut in thin lengthwise strips
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lardo, minced
1 garlic clove, crushed
3/4 lb. fresh plum tomatoes, chopped and seeded (I used canned San Marzano tomatoes)
3/4 lb. macaroni rigati
2oz. caciocavallo, sliced
tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a baking dish. Put the eggplant slices in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and leave for 30 minutes to make them lose their bitter juice.
Heat 1/4 inch of olive oil in a pan. Rinse and dry the eggplant slices and fry them; set aside.
In a saucepan heat the lardo and 2 tablespoons olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic; add the tomatoes and season with salt; cover and cook at low heat.
Cook the macaroni in salted boiling water; drain when al dente.
In the baking dish arrange alternating layers of macaroni, tomato sauce, eggplant, and caciocavallo, continuing the layers until no ingredients are left. Place pats of butter across the surface and bake for 10 minutes.
Unmold onto a serving dish and cut in wedges to serve.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

It was a cold winter's night... perfect for Chicken Noodle Soup. The broth was from the batch I made using my sister's chicken broth recipe. The chicken was from a rotisserie chicken I had picked up at the store. I sauteed chopped carrots and onions. Added the chicken broth, diced chicken, fresh chopped spinach and some frozen mixed vegetables. I seasoned the soup with thyme, salt and pepper. The noodles were prepared in a separate pan and added to the soup. It was warm and nourishing. Next time I have to remember the Saltines...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Meatloaf with Gorgonzola, Bacon and Onions

Today I had off for President's Day so I was able to make Meatloaf for dinner. I have made this recipe before and it always turns out quite good.
Saute one chopped white onion and 1/2 chopped red onion and one chopped carrot. Add the cooked vegetables to 1 1/2 lbs. meat and add 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 tbsp horseradish mustard, 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, panko bread crumbs and chopped cooked bacon. Mix then add Gorgonzola. Put in greased loaf pan. Coat with ketchup and sprinkle french fried onions. Bake 350 for 1 hour.

We had mashed potatoes and steamed zucchini as side dishes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pizza with Steak and Onions

Happy Valentine's Day!
I like pizza (actually any type of bread) and Chris likes Steak and Onion. It was the perfect combination. The pizza dough was from the My Bread book. I used a sauce that I made to go with our Ash Wednesday dinner. Check back for that recipe. I used Steak-Ums, white and red onions, Provolone and Mozzarella cheese. It was so good. I still think putting oil on the baking sheet really gives the crust an extra crispness.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Breaded Pork Chops with Swiss Chard and Ricotta

I was sure I had Panko breadcrumbs in the cabinet. I was sure I had some kind of breadcrumbs, but I was wrong. That is how dinner preparation began. I made breadcrumbs from some wheat bread. Dipped the pork chops into egg and then into the breadcrumbs, to which I had added sage, rosemary, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. I put the pork in a baking dish that I sprayed with Pam. Popped them in a 350˚ oven for 25 minutes.

I had some Swiss Chard and found a recipe in La Cucina for Torta Di Bietole E Ricotta, Swiss Chard and Ricotta. The recipe comes from Sicily. Very easy to prepare.

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 lbs. Swiss Chard
10 oz. ricotta
3 large eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a baking dish with olive oil. Parboil the Swiss chard until tender, about 5 minutes, and drain well. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan and add the chard. Cook until totally wilted.
In a bowl, crush the ricotta with the tines of a fork, add the eggs and chard, and salt and pepper lightly. Put this mixture in the baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.

Also served Israeli Couscous on the side.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pan Seared Diver Scallops

Tonight Chris took me out for dinner. We went to Friends and Company. We started off with cocktails, of course. For appetizers we shared Maryland Style Crab Cakes served with a Chipolte Aioli and Shrimp Fritters with a Mango Relish.

For dinner I had Pan Seared Diver Scallops and a Portabello Mushroom that was stuffed with lobster and crab meat. Wow! Chris had a Cajun seafood sauce which had lobster and shrimp in it which was served over rigatoni. Another delicious dish.

For dessert we split the Apple Crisp. I also had a hot chocolate with Peppermint Schnapps. Perfect ending to a long week.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

Instead of making the crust I usually make for the pot pie I used puff pastry. The recipe for the pie was from the Real Simple site.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Baked Macoroni

For my birthday dinner I made Baked Macaroni. It is my favorite meal. This time I used shells instead of elbow macaroni. It stayed in the oven a little longer than it should have but it was still delicious.

Kramer admiring my flowers!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Timballo Di Sfoglie

Beef and Vegetable Pie from the Abruzzo region. The recipe comes from La Cucina. My only complaint is the recipe used a few too many pans but the outcome was worth it. Here is the recipe which serves 6 (I cut the recipe in half). The recipe also calls for artichokes. One of us in not a huge fan so I replaced it with yellow squash. It was delicious. I also used a springform pan.

Unsalted butter

For the dough:
About 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
4 large eggs

For the sauce:
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. ground beef
2 lbs. canned tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped

For the filling:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
7 oz. zucchini, cut in rounds
3 artichokes, cut in pieces
1 1/4 lb. scamorza cheese, cubed
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Grease a 10-inch-round baking dish with butter.
Use the flour and eggs to prepare a pasta dough. Roll out a very thin sheet; cut the sheet in strips about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. Cook these in boiling lightly salted water for 3 minutes until very al dente, drain and dry on a cloth.
In another pan prepare the sauce: heat the olive oil in the pan and brown the ground beef. Add the tomatoes, onions and the salt to taste.
In another pan heat the olive oil and fry the zucchini and artichokes until golden, then combine them with the scamorza.
Mix the egg into the milk.
In the prepared pan, arrange alternating layers of pasta, scamorza, sauce, pats of butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and half of the egg mixture; repeat then end with a final layer of pasta and bake 50 minutes.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl

The day started with Blueberry Muffins. Recipe from Joy of Baking. Very light muffins. Very easy to eat more than one.

Big game tonight. We started with a couple of appetizers. Rosemary Thyme Pita Chips and Eggplant and Feta Rolls. The Eggplant and Feta Rolls are from
figtree appetizers blog. I have been wanting to try this recipe for some time. I liked it. The Rosemary Thyme Pita Chips are from Food52 site. Came across this yesterday and I am really glad I found this recipe. Quite good.

For dinner I made BBQ Pork Spare Ribs. The recipe is from

BBQ Pork Spare Ribs

2 lb. pork spare ribs

1 onion


1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/3 c. water

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. red pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. chili powder

1/3 c. ketchup

Place spareribs (meat side down) in roasting pan. Cover meat with thinly sliced onion. Pour sauce over meat. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until done. Last 10 minutes of cooking you can remove cover to "crunch up" the top slightly.

For a side dish again I found a recipe on Food52 yesterday. Mashed Salt and Vinegar Reds. Nice, but I would add more vinegar.

Mashed Salt and Vinegar Reds
Serves 4

1 pound dark red-skinned potatoes (about 4 medium)

3 tablespoons good quality olive oil, divided

4 scallions, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

pinches of coarse, flaky sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

small handful of thinly sliced, dark green scallion tops

1 teaspoon chives, chopped

Cut the potatoes into quarters, place in a pot of cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat; simmer until potatoes are tender, and can be easily pierced with a fork.

While the potatoes are on the stove, saute the white and pale green parts of the scallions in one tablespoon of olive oil, over medium heat, until they begin to soften and melt; remove from heat, and set aside.
Strain the cooked potatoes, and transfer immediately to a large bowl; sprinkle with the vinegar while the potatoes are still hot, and let sit for about a minute or two; stir in remaining olive oil, cooked scallions, salt and pepper; smash ingredients together with a potato masher until they just begin to hold, but are still very rustic looking, and chunky (add a little more olive oil at this point if the potatoes seem a little dry - you want them to glisten).
Transfer to serving bowl; sprinkle with dark green scallion slivers, and chives; add extra salt and pepper to taste, and serve warm.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Gnocchi a la Vodka

It seems like someone's birthday is coming up this week so tonight we ate out. We went to Quattros in Guilford. We always have a good meal there. We started with Fried Calamari, Crab Cakes and Bruschetta. The Bruschetta is amazing.
For dinner I had Gnocchi a la Vodka. It was homemade potato gnocchi that was so light. It was like eating puffs of air. The gnocchi was sauteed with shrimp in a vodka cream sauce. Fantastic.
Sorry but the restaurant was not lit for food photography. It was a fun night with good people and lots of good food!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Escarole and Bean Pizza

Picked up 2 pizzas from Pasta Avest. Chris had The Works and I had the Escarole and Bean. I love escarole and beans.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Grilled Chicken and Roasted Pepper Panini

Grilled the chicken on the panini grill. Than put the chicken, roasted peppers and provolone cheese on the bread and grilled the sandwiches.

The perfect on pan meal.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Crispy Prosciutto and Scallion Frittata

I came across this recipe on It was a winner.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 1-inch pieces
8 large eggs
3 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Heat oven to 350° F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, Parmesan, and pepper. Add the cooked scallions and prosciutto.
Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and stir to distribute the ingredients. Bake until browned around the edges and puffed (a knife should come out clean), 15 to 20 minutes.

We made wraps with the frittatta.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Manicotti with Chicken Sausage

Frozen Manicotti. Sauteed chicken sausage. Sauce left over from Saturday night's dinner. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Baked 20 minutes. Fast and quite good. Perfect for Monday night.