Tag Archives: italian

Individual Tiramisu

In keeping with last week’s “mini” theme I thought I would post a great individual dessert you can serve to a crowd.  These were the perfect sweet ending to an engagement party I threw that I will post about next week.  The best part is that they have to be made in advance, so while there are a lot of layers, they are easy to do and can all be made a day before.  I used 8 ounce glasses from Ikea but any small vessel will do, even plastic.  Grab a bunch of these mini spoons and you are good to go.  If you don’t want to do individual tiramisus then just follow the instructions without breaking up the lady fingers and layer in one large pan.  The special couple had a sentimental attachment to this dish but it turned out to be a real crowd pleaser – almost like coffee and dessert in one!

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Individual Tiramisu (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  elegant mini desserts
Special Equipment:  24 small glasses and spoons, hand mixer

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 24 ounces room temperature mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups of espresso (or 2 cups hot water with 6 tablespoons of espresso powder)
  • 1/2 cup coffee liqueur (like Kahula)
  • 36 lady fingers (found in the Italian section of your grocery store or in the cookie aisle)
  • cocoa for disting

Place the egg yolks, marsala wine and sugar in a heatproof bowl.  In a saucepan add several inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Place the bowl over the water (make sure its not touching) – this is called a double boiler.  Using a handheld mixer beat the egg mixture for 5 to 8 minutes, until the eggs have tripled in volume.  The mixture will be light in color and thickened.

Take the bowl off the heat (carefully) and fold in the mascarpone cheese, trying not to deflate the mixture (room temp is very important here so it incorporates easily).

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Set aside.  In a shallow baking dish combine the espresso and the coffee liqueur.  Break the ladyfingers into a couple of pieces (I broke them into quarters).  Spoon a small amount of the mascarpone mixture into the bottom of the glass.  Dunk two ladyfinger pieces into the espresso mixture, quickly so they don’t fall apart, and pile them into the glass.

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Repeat for 2 more layers and then dust with cocoa powder.  Repeat with the rest of the glasses (I did it in assembly line style which worked well).  Chill overnight and serve.

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Individual Tiramisu

  • Servings: 24
  • Print

Special Equipment:  24 small glasses and spoons, hand mixer

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 24 ounces room temperature mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups of espresso (or 2 cups hot water with 6 tablespoons of espresso powder)
  • 1/2 cup coffee liqueur (like Kahula)
  • 36 lady fingers (found in the Italian section of your grocery store or in the cookie aisle)
  • cocoa for disting

Place the egg yolks, marsala wine and sugar in a heatproof bowl.  In a saucepan add several inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Place the bowl over the water (make sure its not touching) – this is called a double boiler.  Using a handheld mixer beat the egg mixture for 5 to 8 minutes, until the eggs have tripled in volume.  The mixture will be light in color and thickened.  Take the bowl off the heat (carefully) and fold in the mascarpone cheese, trying not to deflate the mixture (room temp is very important here so it incorporates easily).  Set aside.

In a shallow baking dish combine the espresso and the coffee liqueur.  Break the ladyfingers into a couple of pieces (I broke them into quarters).  Spoon a small amount of the mascarpone mixture into the bottom of the glass.  Dunk two ladyfinger pieces into the espresso mixture, quickly so they don’t fall apart, and pile them into the glass.  Repeat for 2 more layers and then dust with cocoa powder.  Repeat with the rest of the glasses (I did it in assembly line style which worked well).  Chill overnight and serve.

Bolognese Sauce

I usually plan dinner parties weeks in advance – tinker with the menu, what wines to serve, what kind of tabletop I want to have etc until I settle on exactly the look, taste and feel I want.  However, there is something to be said for spontaneity and this sauce and the dinner party it spawned is a good reminder to me that I should trying to be less planned.  I have been working on my bolognese sauce for a couple of years, trying to meet my husband’s exacting standards.  I had been getting pretty close so when our good friend Dave was staying with us for the weekend I thought it would be a good way to try out the latest incarnation.  We were having a bunch of people over to watch the Patriots so the notoriously long cooing sauce could just sit and bubble away while the game was on.  Well smelling the sauce for a couple of hours drove my friend Baker to distraction – he offered up a deal.  Could he and his fiance Erikka stay and have dinner with us if he provided fresh pasta??  That was much too good for me to pass up and so suddenly a dinner for 3 because a party of 5 with a fresh pasta lesson to boot.  I was able to round up a nice salad to start and figured out some sort of dessert with what I had in my pantry.  Baker schooled us all on making pasta by hand (something that I am determined to conquer this year).

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It was one of the most fun nights in recent memory and the sauce was just perfect with the fresh pasta strands.  This sauce would actually be good on cardboard so if you don’t have fresh pasta just used boxed like I had planned to.  This makes a ton and freezes really well so you too can have an impromptu dinner party!

Bolognese Sauce (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  fresh pasta in the house!
Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
  • 5 ounces chicken livers, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 6 ounce can of tomato paste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • parmesan for serving
  • pasta (fresh or dried) for serving – its also great as pizza sauce!

Add the olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium temperature.  Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic to the pot and season with salt and pepper.

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Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned.  Add the chicken livers and the thyme and increase the heat to medium high.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the livers no longer look raw.

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Add in the ground beef, pork and lamb and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the pieces with your utensil occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, then add the tomato paste, pepper flakes and the parmesan rind (if you have one).  Cook the tomato paste for a couple of minutes until it is totally incorporated with the rest of the sauce.  Add the red wine, stir to combine, and then stir in the cream.

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Bring to a simmer and then turn down the heat to low and cook for 2 hours at a minimum, 3 to 4 hours if you have the time.  If at any time the sauce looks a little too dry you can add in a splash of wine or cream to loosen it up.   Remove the rind before serving. This sauce keeps well in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months.

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Bolognese Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
  • 5 ounces chicken livers, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 6 ounce can of tomato paste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • parmesan for serving
  • pasta (fresh or dried) for serving – its also great as pizza sauce!

Add the olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium temperature.  Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic to the pot and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned.  Add the chicken livers and the thyme and increase the heat to medium high.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the livers no longer look raw.  Add in the ground beef, pork and lamb and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the pieces with your utensil occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, then add the tomato paste, pepper flakes and the parmesan rind (if you have one).  Cook the tomato paste for a couple of minutes until it is totally incorporated with the rest of the sauce.  Add the red wine, stir to combine, and then stir in the cream.  Bring to a simmer and then turn down the heat to low and cook for 2 hours at a minimum, 3 to 4 hours if you have the time.  If at any time the sauce looks a little too dry you can add in a splash of wine or cream to loosen it up.   Remove the rind before serving. This sauce keeps well in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months.

White Bean and Arugula Salad

One last no cook dish before the summer is over!!  I actually make this year round since the ingredients are pretty season-less.  This dish is a great side to roast chicken, pistachio crusted pork tenderloin, or as part of a picnic.  Since its no cook it can also be served at room temperature.  I actually like the beans after they have sat in the vinaigrette for a while – let it sit for at least 15 minutes but overnight is even better.

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I would hold off on adding the arugula as it will wilt, until right before you serve.  I like to bring the left overs in as lunch even with the wilted arugula, it doesn’t change the taste it just doesn’t look as pretty.

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I know a lot of you are wondering why I used canned beans – the main reason is convenience, with them this dish takes 5 minutes.  However, I have to be honest with you all – I cannot cook dried beans.  Every time I try I end up with a mushy mess or under cooked beans.  Perhaps someday I will conquer them along with fresh pasta but until then, thankfully we have the can!  Check back in on Thursday where I am posting the PERFECT way to say goodbye to summer.

White Bean and Arugula Salad (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  Labor day picnics
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot, around 1 small shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 a lemon zested and then the whole lemon juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt, pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 handfuls of arugula

In a large bowl toss the beans with the shallot, thyme, lemon zest and juice and olive oil.  (Remember my trick and use the back of your zester to catch the lemon seeds as you juice it.)  Season with salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes.

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Let the beans sit in the vinaigrette for at least 15 minutes or up to overnight in the fridge (let the beans come to room temperature if you are storing in the fridge).  Don’t worry if it looks like there is too much liquid – the beans will take on some of it and it will leave some to coat the arugula.  When you are ready to serve toss in the arugula and serve.

White Bean and Arugula Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot, around 1 small shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 a lemon zested and then the whole lemon juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt, pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 handfuls of arugula

In a large bowl toss the beans with the shallot, thyme, lemon zest and juice and olive oil.  (Remember my trick and use the back of your zester to catch the lemon seeds as you juice it.)  Season with salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes.

Let the beans sit in the vinaigrette for at least 15 minutes or up to overnight in the fridge (let the beans come to room temperature if you are storing in the fridge).  Don’t worry if it looks like there is too much liquid – the beans will take on some of it and it will leave some to coat the arugula.  When you are ready to serve toss in the arugula and serve.

 

Burrata Pasta and Cooking Local

I am still on the no to low cook march – DC is hitting historic heat levels and I know most of the rest of the country is too.  So why not do as little cooking as possible and take advantage of nice summer tomatoes?  This pasta dish I came up with last month when I was in Boston cooking for my mom.  We had found some beautiful cherry tomatoes at Allendale Farm, an urban farm that was one of my favorite places growing up and even more so now as an adult who cooks.  Then I grabbed some fresh pasta at Boston Public Market flavored with parsley and garlic.  Last but not least we had some super creamy burrata from Russo’s in Watertown, MA in the fridge.  If you have never had burrata you need to run out and get some – its like mozzarella and cream had a baby and it just oozes and runs yummy cheesy goodness everywhere.

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Delicious on its own, I thought burrata could actually stand in and make its own sauce since it’s so creamy.  Inspiration struck and it delivered a delicious pasta dinner where all you have to do is boil water.  I replicated it back in DC and it proved one of my fundamental cooking rules – if you are going simple, you have to use the highest quality ingredients.  I made this dish using grocery store tomatoes and cheese on dried pasta – NOT the same.  It was still good, don’t get me wrong, but please if you make this please do run down good ingredients.  It reaffirmed that spending a little more and frequenting local purveyors really does make all the difference.  I will have to make this again soon using the best ingredients DC has to offer and see if it stacks up to the Boston version.  So remember – cook local!

Burrata Pasta (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:   local summer ingredients
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 pint of local cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • pinch of sugar
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh pasta (or dried if that’s all you have)
  • 2 small or one large ball of burrata (approximately 8 ounces) at room temperature
  • a couple of sprigs of basil
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

In a bowl toss the halved cherry tomatoes with the crushed garlic, red wine vinegar, sugar, olive oil and some salt and pepper.  You can do this right before you boil the water or leave it out for several hours – the more time you leave it the more the flavors will combine and the more juices the tomatoes will give off.

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Boil a pot of water and cook the pasta – if it’s fresh pasta that should only take a couple of minutes, dried takes longer but just follow the instructions on the box (short cut pasta is best here).  Drain the pasta and add to a large serving bowl.  With clean hands, rip up the burrata over the pasta letting any cream or small pieces fall into the bowl.  Once its all ripped up toss the pasta with the burrata.  Add the tomatoes and any juices accumulated and toss again.  Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cut ribbons of basil and top the pasta.

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Burrata Pasta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 pint of local cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • pinch of sugar
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh pasta (or dried if that’s all you have)
  • 2 small or one large ball of burrata (approximately 8 ounces) at room temperature
  • a couple of sprigs of basil
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

In a bowl toss the halved cherry tomatoes with the crushed garlic, red wine vinegar, sugar, olive oil and some salt and pepper.  You can do this right before you boil the water or leave it out for several hours – the more time you leave it the more the flavors will combine and the more juices the tomatoes will give off.  Boil a pot of water and cook the pasta – if it’s fresh pasta that should only take a couple of minutes, dried takes longer but just follow the instructions on the box (short cut pasta is best here).  Drain the pasta and add to a large serving bowl.  With clean hands, rip up the burrata over the pasta letting any cream or small pieces fall into the bowl.  Once its all ripped up toss the pasta with the burrata.  Add the tomatoes and any juices accumulated and toss again.  Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cut ribbons of basil and top the pasta.

 

Farro Puttanesca

All summer long I feel like I am looking for fresh salads that can multi purpose – as a side to grilled chicken one night for dinner, leftovers for lunch, eaten at room temp for a picnic, easy for a potluck…the list goes on.  Grain salads are great for this because even the sturdiest of greens will wilt under dressing and heat, and they are more satisfying if eaten on their own as a vegetarian meal.  Farro is my favorite grain by far – it’s Italian so of course yummy, it is also good for you and very easy to cook.  I featured it before in this salad and got rave reviews from readers.  This one is even better for summer months as it doesn’t require any oven usage, a must in my DC kitchen.  Puttanesca is an Italian sauce that is usually served over pasta (though makes a terrific topper for fish or chicken as well).  Rumor has it that ladies of the night used to make this tangy pungent sauce and put it out to attract customers.  I always like a saucy story to go with my food but have no idea if that’s where the name came from.  What I do know is that the mixture of salty olives, tangy capers, sweet onions, briny anchovies and juicy tomatoes make for a perfect summer salad.

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Farro Puttanesca (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  picnic must haves
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 cup farro
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 tablespoon rinsed capers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 1 anchovy (yes you can omit but trust me, keep it in)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • parsley

In a pot cook the farro in boiling salted water (like pasta) for about 20 minutes until tender, drain.  Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the capers, kalamata olives, tomatoes,.anchovy paste, and thyme and cook for 4 minutes more for the flavors to combine.

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Add the wine and turn to medium high and cook for another couple of minutes until the wine cooks out.  Add the drained farro into the pan, toss all together and serve with chopped parsley on top.  Can be served hot, room temperature or stored in the fridge for several days.

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Farro Puttanesca

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 cup farro
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 tablespoon rinsed capers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 1 anchovy (yes you can omit but trust me, keep it in)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • parsley

In a pot cook the farro in boiling salted water (like pasta) for about 20 minutes until tender, drain.  Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the capers, kalamata olives, tomatoes,.anchovy paste, and thyme and cook for 4 minutes more for the flavors to combine.  Add the wine and turn to medium high and cook for another couple of minutes until the wine cooks out.  Add the drained farro into the pan, toss all together and serve with chopped parsley on top.  Can be served hot, room temperature or stored in the fridge for several days.

Pasta Primavera

Spiralizing veggies is all the rage these days.  Pinterest is just loaded with zoodle recipes (zucchini noodles) and I get it – good for people trying to cut back on carbs or who are gluten free.  However, no one is ever going to convince me a plate of zucchini is going to be as good as pasta!  I mean it’s pasta people.  Far be it from me not to try out a new kitchen gadget though, so when my aunt put a Veggetti in my stocking at Christmas I started trying out different dishes with it.  One of my favorite has to be this Pasta Primavera.  Usually this dish has large chunks of veggies that are either overcooked or under cooked tossed with pasta as almost an afterthought.  Zoodles are the perfect antidote to this – if I spiralized the veggies they could commingle right alongside the real deal pasta and elevate this dish to another level.  While there is some cream and yes good old fashioned pasta in here because half the dish is totally made up of vegetables and feeds an army you can still feel good about it.  This is also a great dinner to make in the summer months when the zucchini and summer squash are really huge and tender.

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Now I like my little Veggetti – its small, dishwasher safe and under $10.  For those of you who are really serious about spiralizing there are gigantic versions that probably work a bit better, perhaps have less food waste.  These things can run you up to $250!  I asked around and this one from Williams Sonoma has good reviews and is still under $50 but will take up more space.  I say get a small one and see if you really use it before making a bigger money and space investment.  My little guy has two settings, thin and thick and I used thin for this dish.

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If you want to make this gluten free then by all means nix the fettuccine and add another carrot, zucchini and summer squash to the mix.  Just don’t try and pass it off as pasta…

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Pasta Primavera (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  zoodles zoodles everywhere!
Special Equipment:  a spiralizer

  • 1 large summer squash
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound fettuccine
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves thinly sliced

Spiralize the summer squash, zucchini and carrots.  Make sure to break off the strands every once and a while so they are not too long – you want them approximately the same length as the fettuccine.  Bring a pot of water to boil, salt it and toss in the fettuccine (cook as long as directed on the package, usually about 8 minutes).  Drain and set aside.  While the pasta is cooking heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions, some salt, pepper and the pinch of red pepper flakes to the pan and cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.

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Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the summer squash, zucchini and carrot and turn up the heat to medium high.  Toss everything together and cook for 3 minutes until the vegetables are just starting to soften.  Add the pasta to the pan and toss again until everything is combined.

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Add the cream and again toss to combine.  Taste for salt and pepper and let cook for another minute or two so the flavors can blend.  Add the tomatoes and basil at the end, toss and serve.

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Pasta Primavera

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

Special Equipment:  a spiralizer

  • 1 large summer squash
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound fettuccine
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves thinly sliced

Spiralize the summer squash, zucchini and carrots.  Make sure to break off the strands every once and a while so they are not too long – you want them approximately the same length as the fettuccine.  Bring a pot of water to boil, salt it and toss in the fettuccine (cook as long as directed on the package, usually about 8 minutes).  Drain and set aside.  While the pasta is cooking heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions, some salt, pepper and the pinch of red pepper flakes to the pan and cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the summer squash, zucchini and carrot and turn up the heat to medium high.  Toss everything together and cook for 3 minutes until the vegetables are just starting to soften.  Add the pasta to the pan and toss again until everything is combined.  Add the cream and again toss to combine.  Taste for salt and pepper and let cook for another minute or two so the flavors can blend.  Add the tomatoes and basil at the end, toss and serve.

 

 

 

Veal Saltimbocca

I often get in the trap of boneless chicken breasts, flank steak and pork tenderloin on repeat for weeknight dinners.  They are all quick, easy and pretty lean but when I saw veal cutlets or scallopini the other day I thought them perfect for a break in my routine.  These cook super fast so really the only hassle is “sewing” the prosciutto and sage to the cutlets.  Set up a little assembly line like below and  do it in the morning or the night before and then just dredge and cook, cutting the time to dinner even more.  This would be delicious all sitting over a bed of pasta or rice to sop up the sauce, or served with a green salad and some crusty bread (uh again to sop up that sauce).  I always order this when I see this on a menu but now I may just add it to my own weeknight repertoire!

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Veal Saltimbocca (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  mixing it up, veal style
Special Equipment:  toothpicks or short skewers

  • 1 pound veal scallopini
  • 5-6 ounces prosciutto
  • several sprigs of sage
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • zest of lemon
  • juice of lemon

First prepare the scallopini – salt and pepper the veal then top with a slice of prosciutto (you may have to cut the slices to fit.  Lay several sage leaves on top.  Using a toothpick or small skewer (a regular skewer cut in half works as well) thread in between the veal and the toppings to affix them to each other.

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Do this for each piece of veal – it doesn’t really matter what it looks like, just make sure the veal can lay pretty flat and that the prosciutto wont fall off the veal.  Dredge in the flour and shake off the excess.  In a large skillet heat over medium high 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add as many veal pieces that comfortably fit in the pan and cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook for 2 minutes more.

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Remove to a plate and repeat with the rest of the veal, adding more olive oil if needed.  Once all the veal is cooked reserve it on the plate covered with foil.  Add the white wine to the plan and deglaze any browned bits.  Swirl in the butter, lemon zest and juice and let cook together for about 3 minutes until it thickens a bit and comes together as a sauce. Carefully take out the skewers, pour the sauce over the veal and serve.

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Veal Saltimbocca

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  toothpicks or short skewers

  • 1 pound veal scallopini
  • 5-6 ounces prosciutto
  • several sprigs of sage
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • zest of lemon
  • juice of lemon

First prepare the scallopini – salt and pepper the veal then top with a slice of prosciutto (you may have to cut the slices to fit.  Lay several sage leaves on top.  Using a toothpick or small skewer (a regular skewer cut in half works as well) thread in between the veal and the toppings to affix them to each other.  Do this for each piece of veal – it doesn’t really matter what it looks like, just make sure the veal can lay pretty flat and that the prosciutto wont fall off the veal.  Dredge in the flour and shake off the excess.  In a large skillet heat over medium high 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.

Add as many veal pieces that comfortably fit in the pan and cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook for 2 minutes more.  Remove to a plate and repeat with the rest of the veal, adding more olive oil if needed.  Once all the veal is cooked reserve it on the plate covered with foil.  Add the white wine to the plan and deglaze any browned bits.  Swirl in the butter, lemon zest and juice and let cook together for about 3 minutes until it thickens a bit and comes together as a sauce.  Pour over the veal and serve.

Roast Chicken with Truffle Polenta and Endive Salad

If you read my post from Tuesday on The Red Hen, a delicious Italian place in DC, you know that on our visit there Patrick and I were caught in the happy conundrum of wanting to order everything but really needing to just pick one entree. Roasted Half Chicken with Black Truffle Polenta, Smoky Bacon, Scallions & Warm Frisee Salad had to be sacrificed in order to get the short ribs but I promised Patrick I would try my hand at it the next night.  This is one of my all time favorite things about going to restaurants – being inspired by a menu or decor and then taking it home to put my own twist on it.  This trial run was a winner and will definitely be added to our rotation.  Two things to note – first, I actually had truffle polenta on hand from our trip to Italy but you could easily make regular polenta and flavor it with truffle oil or butter.

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Sure you could just have non truffle polenta but where is the fun in that?  That woodsy, luxe flavor really compliments the chicken so try and find some truffle to jam in there.  Secondly, I could not find frisee so had to go with the curly version of endive (I hear a sigh of relief from my Aunt Carol who is a frisee HATER!).

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I think the endive was a little bitter for this and frisee would have been better but it’s sort of hard to find so I would use any hearty green you can get your hands on.  The bacon and scallions need something that can stand up to them.  This is a whole meal in one so all I added was a nice bottle of Virginia wine from our favorite, Greenhill Winery and Vineyards.  Now just I need to get back to The Red Hen to try the original!

Roast Chicken with Truffle Polenta and Endive Salad (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  The Red Hen
Special Equipment:  kitchen twine

  • 5 pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • a couple of sprigs of herbs (I used sage and thyme)
  • 1 head of garlic, halved lengthwise
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large scallion or 2 small ones
  • 1 head curly endive or frisee
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 cup truffle polenta (or regular polenta)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or truffle butter or oil if you used regular polenta)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken cavity, then stuff the chicken with the herbs and garlic head.  Tie the legs together with kitchen twine then rub the outside of the chicken with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Salt and pepper the chicken and place in a roasting dish or on a cookie sheet.  Roast for 1 1/2 hours – you know the chicken is done when you pierce the skin by the leg and the juices are clear.  Let the chicken rest under tin foil for 10 minutes before slicing.

 

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While the chicken roasts cook the bacon for 5 minutes over medium high heat in a skillet until browned and crispy.  Let drain on paper towels and then crumble the bacon.  Cut off the dark green parts of the scallion and toss.  Cut the light green and white parts into 1 inch lengths, then into thin ribbons lengthwise.

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In a small bowl combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the red wine vinegar and the mustards with a whisk.  Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.  When the chicken is almost done bring 4 cups of water to a boil, then slowly whisk in the polenta.  Turn the heat down to low and stir often.  After about 15 minutes the polenta should have taken on most of the water and no longer have a grainy texture.  Season with salt and serve with a pat of butter.

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Toss the endive with the dressing, bacon and scallions and serve along the polenta and chicken.

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Roast Chicken with Truffle Polenta and Endive Salad

Special Equipment:  kitchen twine

  • 5 pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • a couple of sprigs of herbs (I used sage and thyme)
  • 1 head of garlic, halved lengthwise
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large scallion, cut in one inch lengths then cut into thin ribbons lengthwise
  • 1 head curly endive or frisee
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 cup truffle polenta (or regular polenta)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or truffle butter or oil if you used regular polenta)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken cavity, then stuff the chicken with the herbs and garlic head.  Tie the legs together with kitchen twine then rub the outside of the chicken with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Salt and pepper the chicken and place in a roasting dish or on a cookie sheet.  Roast for 1 1/2 hours – you know the chicken is done when you pierce the skin by the leg and the juices are clear. Let the chicken rest under tin foil for 10 minutes before slicing.

While the chicken roasts cook the bacon for 5 minutes over medium high heat in a skillet until browned and crispy.  Let drain on paper towels and then crumble the bacon. Cut off the dark green parts of the scallion and toss.  Cut the light green and white parts into 1 inch lengths, then into thin ribbons lengthwise.  In a small bowl combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the red wine vinegar and the mustards with a whisk.  Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

When the chicken is almost done bring 4 cups of water to a boil, then slowly whisk in the polenta.  Turn the heat down to low and stir often.  After about 15 minutes the polenta should have taken on most of the water and no longer have a grainy texture.  Season with salt and serve with a pat of butter.  Toss the endive with the dressing, bacon and scallions and serve along the polenta and chicken.

 

ACC’s DC – The Red Hen

The Red Hen – 1822 First Street NW

With the DC restaurant scene getting better, and bigger, by the day it can be hard to keep up with all the new hot spots to try.  Especially if you are like me, and live and die by reservations.  Most new places don’t take them at all, and if they do they are impossible to come by unless you want to eat dinner at 10pm.  Since it opened its doors in 2013, I have heard nothing but good things about The Red Hen.  Food critics, friends and fellow bloggers all raved about this restaurant to a person.  While the Red Hen does take reservations. it only does so for a small amount of tables, preferring to leave tables available to walk ins.  Which is great for a neighborhood restaurant to do…just not when it isn’t in your neighborhood!  Finally the other day Patrick and I decided to head over to Bloomingdale and see if we could get in.  On a Friday night.  When we were starving.  Usually this ends up in a hangry fight, tears and Chinese delivery at home but the restaurant gods were shining on us that night and they were able to seat us right away (we got there around 6:30pm).

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They have a pretty large bar to wait at, or sit and eat at if you don’t get lucky.  By the time we left, the place was totally packed with a line of people waiting outside so if you can stand eating at early bird special hours it’s worth it.  Even if you are not hungry, I would recommend stopping by the bar and checking out their very cool selection.  Mostly local beers and a heavy on Italian wine menu, as well as craft cocktails means there is something for everyone. I had to order a Negroni, as it’s my favorite Italian cocktail, and their version did not disappoint.  I will say the prices on the bottle list I felt were a little high for the price of the food but we were still able to find something reasonable to go with dinner.  One thing The Red Hen is known for is their list of orange wines – if you have never tried one this is the place to do it.  If you like the flavor of red wine and the body of white wine, orange wine is for you.

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The menu has a “Small Things” category as well as an “Appetizers” list that has more substantial plates.  We started with the Whipped Ricotta Crostini with Balsamic Brown Butter & Truffle Honey as our “small thing.”  YUM.  The Red Hen has managed to perfect a tecnique that has always mistyfied me.  How do Italians make grilled bread slathered with cheese stay so crispy?  In Venice, the little Ciccetti bars would have crostini lined up on the counter and they would sit there for hours yet when you take a bite the bread has maintained its integrity.  Perfect to pair with a bubbly glass of prosecco.

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As an appetizer we went with the Fried Cauliflower ‘Sicilian Style’ with Horseradish Yogurt, Pecorino Romano & Breadcrumbs.  I was thrown by horseradish in the description but they use a very light hand so it doesn’t overwhelm the dish and just adds a nice nose tingling heat to the background of the dish.  This cauliflower is addictive like french fries.

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The rest of the menu is devoted to pastas (made in house of course) and entrees.  It’s a small selection but very seasonal.  Luckily we had snacks to tide us over because it took forever to decide what we wanted to order – always a good sign when you want to ask for one of everything!  I had the Casarecce with Asparagus, English Pea Crema, New Potatoes, Lemon, Basil & Pecorino Tartufo, which was like an Italian love letter to spring.  Patrick went for the Grilled Beef Short Rib with Braised Shelling Beans, Peperonata, Feta, Basil, Chimichurri & Balsamico.  They braised the short ribs and then threw them on the grill at the end so they were tender and falling apart but still had a little char on the outside.  Just outstanding.  He was torn between that and their Roasted Half Chicken with Black Truffle Polenta, Smoky Bacon, Scallions & Warm Frisee Salad so I told him to go short rib and I would try and recreate the chicken dish at home.  It was pretty successful and will be Thursday’s post, so stay tuned.

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Usually I am too stuffed for dessert but in the name of research we asked for the menu.  Nothing really jumped out at us until our waitress suggested the Maple Custard with Caramelized Hazelnut Crumble.  Not something I would normally pick but she said that whenever she goes to another restaurant she orders dessert to see if there are any out there as good as this one.  SOLD!  It was as good as advertised and I am not even a big hazelnut person.

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Bottom line – don’t let its popularity or lack of a reservation put you off on The Red Hen.  With warm service and perfectly executed Italian food, this place is worth the wait.

 

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

While it’s starting to feel a bit more like spring here in DC, it’s still pretty cool in the evenings, meaning warm comforting dishes are still in demand.  Nothing beats a classic spaghetti and meatball dinner, which can please just about anyone in your family.  My dad used to make this dish for me when I was little and it’s the first thing I remember cooking right alongside him.  I have flirted with a lot of other recipes, most of them much more complicated, but none were as good as my dad’s.  One big change from what he used to do is broiling the meatballs versus cooking them in a skillet.  It uses a lot less oil but also is a lot cleaner because you don’t have hot oil spitting at you.  I find that the meatballs stay together a lot better this way as well once added to the sauce.  I may have taken some liberties with the fennel seeds and parm rind but the student should always try to surpass the master right??  This dish really is best if you have the time to let the meatballs and sauce cook a while together, hours if you have them.  The good news is that it’s just as good if not better reheated so you can make them and then freeze and pull out whenever you want some comfort food.  Paired with a caesar salad (my dressing is awesome and so easy) and some garlic bread it’s a great end to the day.

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  my dad’s cooking
Special Equipment:  none

For the tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • two 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • more basil and mozzarella boccochini for serving (optional)
  • 1 pound spaghetti

In a large skillet or wide dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and a pinch of salt and cook for about 7 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add the tomato paste and stir to combine.  Cook for another minute or so then add the wine to deglaze and get any bits off of the bottom of the pan.  If you have a parmesan rind throw it in there along with the basil and sugar.

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Add in the cans of tomatoes, being careful not to splatter any on yourself.  Stir to combine and then increase the heat to medium high until bubbles form.  Turn the heat back down to low and let simmer while you make the meatballs.

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While the sauce simmers combine the beef with the rest of the meatball ingredients.    This is easiest to do with your hands but don’t over work the meat, combine just enough so all the ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.  DSC02904Turn on your broiler.  Using your hands form meatballs around the size of golf balls and place them on a baking sheet (if you have cooking spray it never hurts to coat the pan so the meatballs easily come off).  DSC02906Place the baking sheet in the broiler and cook for about 15 minutes until the meatballs are nice and brown.  Add them to the sauce, I like to use tongs for this, being careful not to break the meatballs.  Nestle them in and use a spoon to make sure the meatballs are covered in the sauce.  At this point you could serve the whole thing but I like to let it all simmer together for at least another 30 minutes if not an hour.  The more time you give this the more the sauce will flavor the meatballs and vice versa.  When you are near ready to serve, boil the pasta, drain well and serve the meatballs and sauce on top along with the chopped basil and mozzarella if you have it (remember to fish out the parmesan rind if you used it).  The meatballs and sauce will last in the fridge several days or frozen for 6 months.

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Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

For the tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • two 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • more basil and mozzarella boccochini for serving (optional)
  • 1 pound spaghetti

In a large skillet or wide dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and a pinch of salt and cook for about 7 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add the tomato paste and stir to combine.  Cook for another minute or so then add the wine to deglaze and get any bits off of the bottom of the pan.  Add in the cans of tomatoes, being careful not to splatter any on yourself.  If you have a parmesan rind throw it in there along with the basil and sugar.  Stir to combine and then increase the heat to medium high until bubbles form.  Turn the heat back down to low and let simmer while you make the meatballs.

While the sauce simmers combine the beef with the rest of the meatball ingredients.    This is easiest to do with your hands but don’t over work the meat, combine just enough so all the ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.  Turn on your broiler.  Using your hands form meatballs around the size of golf balls and place them on a baking sheet (if you have cooking spray it never hurts to coat the pan so the meatballs easily come off).  Place the baking sheet in the broiler and cook for about 15 minutes until the meatballs are nice and brown.

Add them to the sauce, I like to use tongs for this, being careful not to break the meatballs.  Nestle them in and use a spoon to make sure the meatballs are covered in the sauce.  At this point you could serve the whole thing but I like to let it all simmer together for at least another 30 minutes if not an hour.  The more time you give this the more the sauce will flavor the meatballs and vice versa.  When you are near ready to serve, boil the pasta, drain well and serve the meatballs and sauce on top along with the chopped basil and mozzarella if you have it (remember to fish out the parmesan rind if you used it).  The meatballs and sauce will last in the fridge several days or frozen for 6 months.

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