Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorite Dinners of 2013

I have heard people say that 2013 was not a good year. Well this year has ended with me being sick with a virus that is "going around."  I do not usually take part in group activities and this is one activity I wish I had been left out of. But other than getting a lot of sleep the past few days and getting sucked into Candy Crush and Pet Rescue I had time to pick out some of my favorite dinners from the past year. I am sure all of these would also be on my husband's list, but I do not think he would actually make a list.

So with out further ado may I present my favorite meals of 2013.

January 27-  Sausage, Escarole and Beans and...

February 5 - Leftover Spaghetti Con Capicola E Pangrattato

March 4 - Minestra Maritata

 April 23 - Eggplant Balls and Pappardelle

May 28 - Bread and Vegetable Lasagna

May 25 (If Chris had a list this would be his choice for May) - Pasta Pie

July 21 - Cold Antipasto

August 12 - Italy vs Australia

October 29 (Looks similar to Sept. selection) - Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

November 19 - Cinghiale in Umido

November 25 - A Most Amazing Soup

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

Now when I say slow roasted I mean slow roasted. The pork went in to the oven around 1:30 at 250˚. Dinner was on the table at 8:15pm. But the wait was so worth it. The flavor of the herbs was not overpowering. And the meat was so moist!

Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder, from La Cucina

Ingredients -
20 fresh sage leaves
3 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only
3 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves only
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2  tablespoons wild fennel pollen (see note)
1 1/2  teaspoons medium-coarse sea salt
1 1/2  teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 (3 3/4- to 4-pound) boneless pork shoulder (with skin, not tied)*
2  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white or red wine

Method -
Heat oven to 250º.

Finely chop sage, thyme, rosemary and garlic together (you can do this by pulsing in a food processor or by hand). Place mixture in a small bowl, add fennel pollen, salt and pepper, and stir together well.

With a sharp knife, score pork skin in a crosshatch diamond pattern, making 1/8-inch deep cuts 1 inch apart. With a paring knife, make about 10 incisions (about 1/2 inch deep) all over the pork and stuff with about 1/3 of the herb mixture. Brush oil over skin and rub all over with remaining herb mixture.

Set pork skin side up in a roasting pan. Roast for 2 hours.

Pour wine over pork and baste with wine and accumulated juices. Continue roasting, basting once every half hour, until skin is well browned and the meat is spoon-tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours more. (Ours was in for 4 1/2 hours)

Remove from oven and let meat rest 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

* I used a Picnic Style Pork Shoulder with the bone in. That is probably why mine took extra time.

Side dishes were Arborio Rice and Roasted Acorn Squash.

Today was the year anniversary of my Dad's passing. I was fortunate to have him as a father and I miss him every day.  I just want to live my life following his example. Work hard, spend my free time learning something new and have at least one glass of wine with dinner.


I try not to stray from the subject of food on this blog. After all food is comfort and food is love. What better way to show someone that you love them then putting a warm healthy meal on the table. Today being the one year anniversary of my Dad's passing. I need to write more. 

His passing was actually harder on me than my Mom's. My mom had Alzheimer's for so long. But my Dad was so vibrant up until the last couple of days.

He was my superman. He never rested. He was always reading or learning how to do something new. He had a tree trunk in the yard that he use to chop away at with the ax just to keep active. Lunch on Saturdays were always filled with him catching me up with the latest financial articles or the hot news story in Inc and Fortune. I picked him up little post-it notes so he could mark the pages he wanted me to read.
I still have not been able to watch a western on television. I bought figs this summer but could not eat them. I have not made pasta fagioli all year. 

Today we had a mass said for him at his church. But there was a whole lot of snow that got in our way.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Today the weather outside was frightful... well it was if you drive a car like mine. So I worked from home. And dinner was already made. I made this on Sunday so I just needed to pop it in the oven to heat up. We had rice as a side dish. With the recipe that follows I was able to get 2 meals. I froze the other dish.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs, from Bon Appetit.

Ingredients -
3 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2" pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
1 celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups dry red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon)
5 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs oregano
1 sprigs rosemary
1 dried bay leaves
2 cups low-salt beef stock

Method -
Preheat oven to 350°. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 Tbsp. drippings from pot.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, then add short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add all herbs. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, 

Cook until short ribs are tender, 2–2 1/2 hours. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls over rice with sauce spooned over.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Steak Pizzaiola And An Amazing Bread

I was not planning on doing a lot of cooking today. But yesterday, along with the cookies, I made a large pot of chicken stock. I ended up with 14 cups of stock. And I had the meat from the bird so today I made 2 regular size Chicken Pot Pies and one small one. And I made a Chicken and Pastine Casserole. Oh and we are having Short Ribs later this week so I prepared them, that way all Chris has to do is heat them up. 

And making the pot pies meant I had a little left over crust. So I made little cat pie crust crackers!
Then there was the bread. I found this recipe at Jam Hands, love the name of the blog. The bread was Artisan No Knead Pizza Bread. You all know I love the No Knead recipe. Well this adds a whole new dimension. Gosh is was so good. It was so good that we are having Grilled Cheese tomorrow night on this bread. Oops sorry to ruin the surprise.

And then there is dinner. Steak Pizzaiola. A simple meal. Two nice cuts of meat. Some tomatoes, oregano, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and olive oil. In a 400˚ oven for 20 minutes. That's all there is to it.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Breaded Pork Chops

Yeah that is a paper plate you see in the photo. On a Saturday night! Well I did a little baking today. I can't believe I even made dinner! But a very good dinner was served. Breaded Pork Chops. The chops were breaded with a mixture of Panko and plain bread crumbs, rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. I browned the pork chops in some olive oil on each side along with some sliced onions and added a little white wine to the pan. After the wine reduced I popped the pan in the oven for about 15 minutes. Perfectly cooked. I had some stuffed acorn squash in the freezer from last week. Kept it easy. And why keep it easy? Well like I said I did a little baking...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bacon and Onion Calzones

Something about this crust, Jim Lahey's recipe. Perfect. Thin and crisp. The bacon and sauteed onion, always a winning combination. And a light marinara sauce. The perfect end to a busy day.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Acorn Squash Soup with Kale

Do you may remember last week when I purchased a lot of acorn squash. Tonight I  used one of the bags of puree to make this soup. Easy to prepare, having the puree already made, and perfect for a chilly December night.

Acorn Squash Soup with Kale, from Martha Stewart

Ingredients -
4 strips bacon, 4 ounces, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound kale, thick stems removed, leaves finely chopped (about 8 cups)
4 cups Acorn Squash Puree, or 2 packages (12 ounces each) frozen winter squash puree, thawed
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Method -
Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside.

Add onion to fat in pan, and cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add kale; cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add squash puree and 3 cups water (or more if necessary to achieve desired consistency); bring just to a boil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve, garnished with reserved bacon.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Baked Pork Ribs and a Movie

Hey where have I been? It has been a very busy food week and I had no posts. Let's just say I was in a food induced coma. Way too much wonderful food in too short a time span. Looking forward to a few "normal meals", at least until Christmas Eve....

Before we get to dinner I do have sneak peak of one of my favorite meals. I went to my sister's house to learn how to make Cappelletti. A lot of work but so worth every moment...

Dinner was one our of favorites. Baked Pork Ribs with Hoisin Barbecue Sauce. The recipe is from Epicurious.com. Succulent!

Baked Pork Ribs with Hoisin Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients -
4 pounds baby back pork ribs
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup bottled chili sauce
1/4 cup Sherry
1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil

Method -
Place ribs in large roasting pan. Pierce meat with fork. Sprinkle with Chinese five-spice powder and onion powder; rub mixture into meat.
Whisk remaining ingredients in small bowl to blend. Pour sauce over ribs, turning to coat. Turn ribs meat side down; cover pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake ribs, covered, until just tender, about 30 minutes. Uncover and turn ribs meat side up; bake until ribs are cooked through, basting occasionally, about 35 minutes. Cut meat between bones to separate ribs and serve.