Friday, January 30, 2015

The Book Club - Mona Lisa

Yeah! The book club meeting was at my house this month. My book selection was Mona Lisa, A Life Discovered by Dianne Hales. I was looking forward to reading the book and hosting the meeting.

At first I was thinking just Italian food. But then I decided to refine it by just doing Tuscan food and wine. We started with an antipasto. Mortadella, Salami, Serrano Ham and Prosciutto. I love typing those names as much as I do eating them!

Assorted olives, an artichoke and red pepper salad and marinated mushrooms. Thank you to Whole Foods for slicing the meats perfectly and preparing the antipasto ingredients.  The bread was from Pasta Avest, I too was surprised I didn't bake the 18-hour bread, just ran out of time! But I did make the Black Pepper Breadsticks.
Rice Balls are not Tuscan but any excuse to make them... The Sauce was Marcella Hazan's Tomato, Onion and Butter Sauce. Perfect sauce every time!

Next we had Tuscan Bean Soup. The recipe is gluten free and dairy free. It was so easy to make. I made the soup Thursday night, I read somewhere that soups taste better on the second day. It was very good. I may be spoiled but I think it would have even been better with homemade broth! And I did use Tuscan Kale!

I got help on the wine selection from my nephew. Fontaleoni Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2012 and Tempo MOrellion de Scansano. Of course these are my favorite leftovers!

For dessert I picked up some gluten free cookies from Meriano's. I did not realize Pignoli Cookies were gluten free. That fact just made me so happy!

I fixed a citrus salad with mint. Just sliced Navel, Blood, and Cara Cara Oranges then topped the stacks with chopped mint.

And I have been wanting to make an olive oil cake for awhile. I had the blood oranges and I found this recipe - Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake. The original recipe made a loaf size cake. Not wanting too many leftovers, I made a half recipe and baked it in a cake pan. I loved this. Everyone loved this. It was so light. Yes, this will be made again!

We also had Date Almond Rolls. I have never had these before. Wow. Delicious! And there were Chocolate Cookies which I forgot to put on the table. I am eating on now as I type this and I am not sure what is in these cookies but it is hard not to eat another one. I will have to get this recipe!

It was a wonderful evening with good people, good conversation, good food and good wine. Excuse me but I have to get another one of those cookies!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sausage and Peppers

The snowstorm/blizzard is over. Thank God we did not lose power. We ended up with almost 2 feet of snow. Worked from home today which was nice treat for the cats. Dinner was already set for tonight. I roasted the peppers and sausage on Sunday and added some sauce that we had in the fridge. Keeping it simple tonight.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Chicken and Dumplings

Saturday night we had the Roasted Chicken. That meant we had a chicken carcass and some meat leftover. Perfect time to try a recipe I had pinned. From Cooking Light we had Chicken and Dumplings.

I made the broth using the carcass and celery, carrots, onion, parsley and peppercorns. What a delicious broth! After the broth was finished I sauteed the onions, carrots and celery along with the herbs, then added the broth and the cooked chicken. The recipe for the dumplings makes 16 dumplings so I made half the recipe. This dinner was very, very good. There is a blizzard expected for tonight. This was a perfect comfort food to take our minds off of the frenzy about the storm. This is New England after all. But yes I did get batteries and extra cat food just in case....

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Night Pizza

You know what I love about pizza? The toppings can be anything you have in the fridge. Tonight I made half the pie with bacon and onions. The other half was onion, acorn squash (leftover from last night) and Burrata Cheese (from last Saturday's dinner). Nice way to start the week off.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Roast Chicken, the English Muffin & A New Love in My Life

Let's start at the beginning of the day. Breakfast. Remember those very large English Muffins I made last week. Well this week I made them the correct size, still came out rather large, but added Cinnamon. Wow wow wow. Want to try them? They really are easy. Click here for a life changing experience, well sort of life changing.

Now on to dinner. A Roast Chicken. A simple meal but one that I am not quick to make. Why? Fear of serving raw meat? Maybe. But I have a meat thermometer so that should not be the issue. It is because I tend to over think the roasting of the chicken. But it is quite simple. Just put some lemon and herbs into the cavity and pop it in the oven. Ta Da! Don't believe me? Well read this recipe and you too will see how simple this is.
Side dishes were Roasted Acorn Squash and Roasted Potatoes. And dinner caught Archie's attention!

Now about that new love in my life. Bread pudding. Panettone Bread Pudding to be exact. My mother never made Bread Pudding, at least not that I can remember. We received a loaf of Panettone at Christmas and I wanted to find a use for it, other then toast. I put half of the loaf in the freezer and the other half was transformed into something so wonderful. The recipe is from Epicurious. I did not have enough Vanilla, I know I could not believe it myself. But I had Brandy extract. Oh yeah. That is the way to go. It was moist and the flavors were out of this world. The recipe is suppose to be prepared in a 13"x9" pan. Way to much for the 2 of us so I cut the recipe in half and used 2 round cake pans. Perfect!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Few Of My Favorite Things Revisited

Remember my post These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things? Well this is what I did with the leftovers. Chris said he liked this better than the original dinner. This disappeared really fast. Here is the recipe I used, it is from Cooking With Chef Silvio: Stories and Authentic Recipes from Campania. I have made a couple of changes to the original recipe.

3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup pecorino romano cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Leftover pasta
2 tbsp butter

In a bowl, beat the eggs, grated cheese, cream, parsley, salt and pepper until well combined. Stir in the spaghetti, then set aside. Spray pie dish with cooking spray, Pam is what I use. Pour the spaghetti mixture into the pan and spread evenly. Bake at 425 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes,or until it is firm and golden.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Meatloaf, My Way

I made this meatloaf recipe back in 2009. I have over time made a couple of changes. Here is what I think is the best version so far.

Ingredients -
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/4 cup 1 % milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup bread, soaked in a little milk, then chopped (I used Rye and Italian Bread)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 Swiss cheese
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Crispy Fried Onions, chopped
Method -
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saute pan heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion and carrots. Saute until tender. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, except 1/2 cup Crispy Fried Onions, and mix well. Place mixture into a loaf pan. Sprinkle 1/2 cup Crispy Fried Onions over the top of the meatloaf. Bake uncovered for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until no pink remains at the center of the meatloaf. If using a meat thermometer, the internal temperature of the meatloaf should be 160 degrees. After baking, let sit for 5 minutes before removing from pan and slicing to serve.