Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pizza For Me and Pizza For You

 The Bacon and Onion Pie with Ricotta and Olives.

 The Swiss Chard, Broccoli and Olive with Ricotta.

Tonight is a big TV night. No not the Oscars. On the Food Network on Cutthroat Kitchen one of the contestants is the son a couple I worked with at Fitzwilly's Restaurant back in the 80's. Their son is a chef. Very excited to see the outcome. And of course Downton Abbey is on first!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Chicken Cacciatore and a New Mixer

So image that you have to make a lot of cookies for a fund raiser. You finish mixing your first batch and you have the second batch ready to be mixed. Then your 24 year old Kitchen Aid mixer dies. There was a sound of something snapping and I could not lift the handle. It just fell. I was shocked. And sad. The mixer had been a bridal shower gift from my Mom. I really could not complain as it had lasted 24 years. But today it dies? I was mixing 5 different cookies! I was screwed. First reaction was of course tears. Next Chris said I should see if I could borrow my sister's until I figured out what to do. I called but she was out. Next suggestion was to buy a new one. Oh I did not want to go out today. I had so many cookies to make! We are 3 exits from a William Sonoma outlet store. I called and they had the 6 quart machine. Off I go. I put the 6 quart mixer in the shopping cart and then I think to myself that the 5 quart would probably be fine. What the hell was I thinking! Idiot. I buy it and I go home and I try to make a double batch of a recipe and the machine is struggling. It has no heart, no soul. I realize I made a huge mi$take in making thi$ purcha$e. My sister calls at that exact moment. I tell her my story and she tells me to return that mixer and get the 6 quart. I am so lucky I have a sister like Lenore. So I called the store and explained that I just purchased the mixer and tried it and it is not large enough for me. They told me I could return it. Oh, it it has started snowing by now. I clean the mixer up and repack it and return it. I purchase my 6 quart mixer and come home and make a triple batch of a cookie with no problem. All is good. I went to put the mixer in the cabinet where the previous mixer lived and it it too wide. This is when I poured my first glass of wine!
Lucy enjoying the 5 quart mixer box.

Now on to dinner. Dinner was an amazing recipe from Lidia's Favorite Recipes. Oh yes I forgot to mention my latest idea. You see I have a lot of cookbooks.
These are not all of them.

So I have decided that each week* I will feature one cookbook. (*And already a disclaimer - Next week, February 29 - March 6, will not be included in this as I will be baking many cookies on Saturday and Sunday and we will be eating from the freezer for that week!)

This week is Lidia's Favorite Recipes and tonight we had Chicken Cacciatore.  Delicious. I added zucchini in place of the mushrooms and added black olives too.

My version of Chicken Cacciatore.

1 chicken cut up
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
All-purpose flour for dredging
4 tbsp cup vegetable oil
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup dry white wine
One 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. or 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into 1/2-inch strips (about 1 cups total)
1/2 pitted black olives

Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper. Dredge the pieces in flour, coating them lightly and tapping off excess flour. Heat the vegetable oil in a wide braising pan with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until a piece of chicken dipped in the oil gives off a very lively sizzle. Add as many pieces of chicken to the pan as will fit without touching (do not crowd the chicken; you can always brown it in batches). Remove the chicken pieces from the skillet as they brown, adding some of the remaining pieces of chicken to take their place. After browning all the chicken and removing it from the skillet, add the onion to the fat remaining in the pan and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Pour the wine into the pan, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and oregano, season lightly with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Tuck the chicken into the sauce, adjust the heat to a gentle boil, and cover the pan. Cook, stirring a few times, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini and peppers, and toss until the peppers are wilted but still quite crunchy, about 8 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt.

Add the peppers and zucchini to the chicken pan.  Add the olives.

Cook, covered, until the chicken and vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (Check the level of the liquid as it cooks; there should be enough liquid to barely cover the chicken. If necessary, add small amounts of water to maintain the level of liquid as the chicken cooks.) Serve the chicken pieces nestled between the vegetables on a platter.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lasagna alla Norma

The today was the first Friday of Lent. Lasagna alla Norma was our first meatless meal.
I started saving recipes that I wanted to try during Lent on my pinterest page, Recipes For Lent. Tonight's recipe is from The Italian Dish blog. I did make a couple of changes to the original recipe. I used regular lasagna noodles. I used Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce and I added some roasted zucchini and homemade ricotta.

My version of Lasagna alla Norma

For the roasted eggplant and zucchini:

1 large eggplants, cut into barely one inch cubes
1 zucchini sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoons sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with Pam (cooking spray).  Place the eggplant ingredients in a large bowl and toss everything together well. Place the eggplant on the baking pan. Roast the eggplant for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from oven and set aside. Repeat this with the sliced zucchini, roasting for only 20 minutes, turning the zucchini over half way through the cooking time.

For the sauce:
2 cups canned imported Italian tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
5 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste

Put the tomatoes in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato. Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt. Puree the sauce with an immersion blender.

For the lasagna:
1 boxes of lasagna noodles cooked according to the package
1/2 cup Homemade Ricotta
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon oregano

In a baking pan, place about ¾ cup of the sauce in the bottom of the pan and spread it out to cover the entire bottom. Place noodles in one layer, covering the whole pan. Add sauce and spread on the noodles, making sure they all are covered. Place a fourth of the eggplant on the tomato sauce, a fourth of the ricotta for one layer. Repeat three times more. For the last layer, place noodles on top and cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and oregano and Parmesan. Cover tightly with nonstick foil or use regular foil, spraying the underside with cooking spray. 

Bake for about 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for about 15 minutes before slicing to serve.

Hope everyone has a relaxing weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chicken Parmesan

On Monday, I was off from work so I made my Mom's Chicken Cutlet recipe. Tonight we had Chicken Parmesan with some of those cutlets. I had some tomato sauce in the fridge and some home made ricotta cheese. Yum, yum, yum! I put the dish together before I left for work and Chris just had to pop it in the oven. Oh this was really good. The chicken was moist. The sauce was delicious and the ricotta, well forget about it. The all the ingredients made for a perfect balance of flavors.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Vegetable Frittatta Sandwich

Today is Ash Wednesday. No meat for dinner. Honestly it was not even missed. This was one awesome frittatta. Onion, zucchini, red and yellow pepper. We certainly did not need any meat. The frittatta was fluffy and light. I put it on the panni press to toast the bread. And put some spreadable Parmesan and a little American Cheese on the sandwiches.
 See even today could be Valentine's Day! Or does it look more like a chicken?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Meatball Soup

I saw a recipe for Meatball Soup online not too long ago and I knew Chris would love it. I decided to use my own recipe and I can not tell you just how good this was. It was 10 degrees out tonight so everything about this soup was comforting.

The meatballs were made from a pound of beef, a pound of pork, a cup of chopped up Italian bread, an egg, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. The ingredients were mixed and formed into meatballs, about an inch in diameter. They were just browned in a little olive oil. They would be cooked through in the soup.

For the soup I sauteed chopped onions, carrots and celery in olive oil until tender. Chicken broth and the browned meatballs were added to the pan. The broth simmered for about 1 and 1/2 hours uncovered so the liquid thickened a bit. I added chopped escarole and simmered that for 20 minutes. Then I added cooked pasta. To finish the soup I seasoned with the pot with salt and pepper to taste.

We had enough for tonight and we will have this again tomorrow night. And yes I did cut the carrots into the shape of hearts.  Why can't every day can be Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Belated Valentine's Day

Yes we are celebrating Valentine's Day a day late. Yesterday we went out with Lenore and Ralph and had a late lunch at Malone's. Neither Chris nor I were hungry for a dinner last night. So tonight we had our Valentines Day dinner. And what a dinner it was...
I started the 18 Hour Bread yesterday and baked it today.

For dinner I made Braciole in Marinara Sauce. Still trying to master the art of tying the Braciole with twine.

3 cups of tomato sauce ( I had 3 cups in the freezer!)
1 tbsp. oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1 cup chopped Italian Parsley
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 3/4 pound Braciole
Salt and Pepper
flour for dusting
1/4 olive oil
1/2 dry red wine

In a medium saucepan, combine the tomato sauce oregano and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer while you assemble the braciole.

In mixing bowl, mix cheese and parsley. Lay pieces of steak on a board and season with salt and pepper. Divide the cheese mixture evenly over the meat. Roll up each piece like a jelly roll and tie with butcher's twine. Season with salt and pepper and roll in flour to coat.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Place steak pieces in skillet and brown evenly. Transfer to plate and repeat with remaining rolls. Pour off the cooking oil. Add the red wine and stir the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Add the simmering tomato sauce and bring to a boil Add the beef rolls and simmer uncovered 10 to 15 minutes, until the meat is cooked through.

The side dish was Broccoli Rabe, which was steamed and then sauteed in olive oil and seasoned with salt and crushed red pepper. I toasted some of that 18 hour bread and topped that with the Broccoli Rabe. Some Burrata cheese on top with a drizzle of olive oil. The stuff that dreams are made of, well my dreams!