Thursday, April 16, 2015

Beans with Pancetta and Onions

I thought we were having just leftover for dinner. I was surprised when Chris asked if he should have heated this dish up, as it was not a leftover. Yes this was suppose to be tonight's dinner but I was glad we had the leftovers because it would not have been enough on it's own. But that does not mean it was not a very tasty dish. On Palm Sunday one of the things my brother-in-law, Ralph, served was a dish similar to this. Chris loved it. He loved the beans. He loved the pancetta so I knew I had to make this for him. The beans were a smaller bean than a cannelini bean. I never used them before. The pancetta was cubed and browned in some olive oil. Diced onions were added and sauteed and then the beans and parsley were tossed in the pan. Quick and easy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Polenta Pasticciata, Baked Polenta with Meat Sauce

Tonight's dinner was from Biba's Italian Kitchen. It was one of the recipes that my Mom had marked that she wanted to make. I do not know if she ever made this. But as I was eating tonight I imagined her and my Father enjoying this meal. The polenta, as simple a dish as it is, was the perfect base for this amazing sauce to rest on. I did not follow the recipe as it was written in the book. Mushrooms are not used in our kitchen. But damn it was delicious without them. And I suppose I cheated by using Instant Polenta but seriously it is so much easier and faster!

My version of Polenta Pasticciata, Baked Polenta with Meat Sauce from Biba's Italian Kitchen.

Instant Polenta, prepared according to package
1 pound mild sausage
1 pound ground pork
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup finelly minced yellow onion
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper to tast
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Prepare the polenta. Spread it 1/2 thick on a cookie sheet and let it cool.

Remove the casing from the sausage and chop very fine. Heat the butter and oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat when the butter foams add the onion and cook stirring 3 to 4 minutes until the onion is pale yellow. Add the sausage and the ground pork. Cook, stirring to break up the meat with a large spoon until the meat loses its raw color, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it's almost reduced, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir the tomato paste into the broth and add to the saucepan together with a cup of water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until the sauce has a medium thick consistency, 1 to 1 1/2 hour. If the sauce reduces too much add a bit more water. At this point the sauce can be made several days ahead.

Preheat the oven to 400. Warm the polenta, slice and serve with a generous serving of sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Manzo al Latte, Beef Braised in Milk

Excuse us while we take a break from our featured cookbook. Do you have cookbooks that you turn to and always find a good recipe? Every Night Italian by Guiliano Hazan is one of my go to cookbooks. Yes it is written by Marcella Hazan's son. I have not made a recipe out of the book that I would not make again. Tonight we had Manzo al Latte, Beef Braised in Milk. I have made Pork Loin Roast braised in milk but never beef. And why not? This was so delicious. The meat was tender and the sauce was the perfect consistency and was not heavy.

Manzo al Latte, Beef Braised in Milk from Every Night Italian -

2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 2 or 3 pieces to fit comfortably in the pot
Freshly ground black pepper
1 med. yellow onion, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 med. carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup whole milk

Heat the butter and vegetable oil in a heavy breathing pot, then add the pieces of beef and brown on all sides. Remove the meat from the pot and season it with salt and pepper.
Lower the heat to medium-high and add the onion and carrot and cook stirring for a couple of minutes. Add the vinegar and let it bubble away until it has reduced by half scraping up with tasty bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Add the milk. As soon as it begins to boil lower the heat to a steady similar and return the meat to the pot. Cover with a lid slightly askew and cook until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork about an 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. Turn the meat every 20 minutes while it is simmering. if all the liquid evaporates before the meat is done at a little water. When this is done the sauce should be a dark walnut color and the consistency of mustard. If it is too thin, remove the meat and raise the heat to reduce the sauce until it thickens. Slice the meat, return it to the pot to coat with sauce and serve.
This dish can be made up to three days ahead of time reheat over gentle heat adding 2 tablespoons of water if necessary

Monday, April 13, 2015

Chicken Stew with Puttanesca Sauce

This week's featured cookbook is Biba's Italian Kitchen by Biba Caggiano. This was the last cookbook my Mom bought me. When she gave it to me there were slips of paper with recipe names and page numbers stuck in the book. She said that those were recipes she would like to try. I still have the papers in those pages. 
Chicken Stew with Puttanesca Sauce was the most delicious dinner I have made in a very long time. Wow Wow Wow! The sauce was delicious. Not as spicy as it could have been but I had to stop myself from taking a third slice of bread to sop up the sauce. The meat was so tender. I was happy. Chris was happy. And the cats were happy. Yes, we gave them a little of the chicken meat. It was so good we had to share it. Chris said this recipe can be put in regular rotation. Using one whole cut up chicken we have enough for 2 meals.

Chicken Stew with Puttanesca Sauce from Biba's Italian Kitchen

Ingredients -
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
One 4 pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces, washed and tried on paper towels
Salt to taste
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 - 2 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
Dried red pepper flakes to taste
8 - 10 pitted black olives, thinly sliced
2 tbsp capers, rinsed

Heat the oil in a wide bottomed casserole over medium heat. When the oil is very hot, slip the chicken pieces without crowding them. Cook until the chicken is golden on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes. You may have to do this in batches depending on your pan size. Transfer chicken to large platter.

Discard half of the oil in the casserole. Add the anchovies and stir quickly a few times. Add the tomatoes and bring to a gentle boil. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Return the chicken to the casserole, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pan partially. Simmer 40 to 50 minutes, turning the chicken pieces and stirring occasionally. Add the olive and the capers, and simmer 5 to 10 minutes longer. If the sauce is a bit thin, transfer the chicken pieces to a large platter, rise the heat under the pan, and boil the sauce down to a thicker consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Chicken Cutlets and Roasted Green Beans

Last week I saw this video on Facebook and I knew I had to make this recipe.
I, unfortunately, do not have any "food" memories of my Nonnie. I was named after her, thank you Lenore and I remember her as being a loving Nonnie. But no food memories. She passed away when I was in First Grade. I remember going to her house and sitting on the radiator in the kitchen but that is all. I remember her bedroom bureau as being large with hidden compartments. But no food memories. I will have to check with my sister to see if she had any food memories.

I am so glad I made this recipe. This Chicken dish was amazing. 
I loved it. Chris loved it and Archie loved it too.
It was as good as my Mom's recipe.
I especially liked the Lemon Dressing that is added at the end.
What I liked best about it was that it was baked and not fried.
Please watch the video for the recipe.

Our side dish tonight was our new favorite vegetable recipe. Roasted Green Beans.
I know that they have been the rage on food sites but this was our first time trying them.
It will not be our last.

2 lbs green beans
2 tablespoon olive oil (or just enough to lightly coat beans)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Wash, dry well, and trim green beans.
Put green beans on a jelly roll pan.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Use your hands to be sure all the beans are evenly coated and spread them out into 1 layer.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until beans are fairly brown in spots and somewhat shriveled.
Serve hot or at room temperature.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Happy Blogiversary!

It's okay that I did not receive any cards. Surprisingly this is an untapped event at Hallmark. Six years ago tonight I started this little blog. It has become an important part of my daily life, well almost daily. What amazing culinary delight did I plan for tonight? One of my favorites... Reservations!

I started the night of with a SGT Pepper. There are not enough 'o's in smooth to describe this. Smoked pepper infused local organic Rime vodka dirty martini garnished with Sriracha blue cheese stuffed olives.
For appetizers we had Mac & Cheese Bon Bons. What an amazing idea. Fried Mac & Cheese. What's not to love. Tasso ham, orzo pasta, artisan cheese served with a red pepper coulis. Along with the Bon Bons we had Crisp Calamari served with Snap peas, daikon radish, napa cabbage, carrots, lemon ginger aioli.

For dinner Chris had the Shoulder Tenderloin and
I had the Caesar Salad with Grilled Steak. Delicious!

 And we had dessert. A Chocolate Lava Cake. So good!

 And tomorrow I will be back in the kitchen!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

When Life Gives You Paté Brisee ...

A side effect to making my Mother's Pizzagaina recipe is that I end up with a surplus of Pate Brisee. Not that I have a problem with that. The dough freezes nicely. While I was baking the Pizzagaina on Saturday, I decided to make a tart for this week. Tonight we had the fried potato and zucchini tart. I added some provolone cheese and some feta cheese.  A flaky crust surrounding fried potatoes, right there this is a winner, and sauteed zucchini which gave the tart a spring-like look. I am just not sure if and when spring will actually arrive in this area.