Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Porterhouse Steak

The grill is open! And I was given the task of buying steaks to grill for dinner. I was filled with dread. I am not really the best person to pick out a steak. I usually opt for Skirt Steak but I did not feel that was what was needed for opening night of the grill. I went to Robert's and asked the butcher what he would suggest. "The Porterhouse", was the answer. And it was on sale!!!! I got a big one for Chris and a smaller one for me. I brushed the steaks with olive oil, pepper and kosher salt and let them sit for 2 hours. Chris popped them on the grill and it was like magic.
 I made mine disappear! 

I picked up Twice Baked Potatoes from the prepared food department. I had been doing spring cleaning today and I wanted this dinner to be as hands off as possible.

Nice wine pick for dinner. Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Homemade Pasta and Homemade Bread

Yes I went into the office today. Yeah on a Friday! Traffic was actually not too bad. I did leave 5 minutes early, but I did get in a 1/2 hour early. Whatever! Tonight's dinner came together quickly. But first I had to fix myself a Blood Orange Vodkatini.
Then I started dinner. I had made the pasta last week and put it was in the freezer. The leeks were also from the freezer. The last time I bought leeks I cut up the extra leek and cleaned and froze it. Nice. I walked into the house at 6:05 and dinner was on the table by 7:00!

Pappardelle with Arugula and Prosciutto, from Bon Appetit May 2013

Ingredients -
1/2 pound pappardelle or fettuccine
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, white and pale greens only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest plus more for serving
1 bunch arugula, thick stems trimmed, leaves torn (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces prosciutto, torn into 1-inch pieces

Method -
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 5-8 minutes.
Add pasta, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, and 3/4 cup pasta cooking liquid. Cook, tossing and adding more cooking liquid by 1/4-cupfuls as needed, until a glossy sauce forms that coats pasta, about 4 minutes.

Add arugula and 1/3 cup Parmesan, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Add prosciutto and toss again. Top pasta with more lemon zest and Parmesan.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Radiatori with Chicken Sausage and Arugula and Spinach

I made this recipe for the first time back in 2013. I should make this more often. It is delicious. I had to force myself to stop eating. It was a "just one more spoonful" type of dinner. Easy? Yes. Fast? Yes. And the sauce was perfect. I was glad I made bread this morning. More on that later.

Radiatori with Chicken Sausage and Arugula and Spinach

1 pound radiatori
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound Al Fresco Chicken Sausage with Red and Green Peppers
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 lb baby spinach, coarsely chopped and washed
1/2 lb arugula, coarsely chopped and washed
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/4 cup grated pecorino, plus more for serving

Method -
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook over moderately high heat,  until browned, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate.

Add the crushed red pepper and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and arugula with any water clinging to the leaves and season with salt. Cover and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Uncover and cook until the greens are tender and the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes longer.

Add the pasta to the skillet along with the sausage, chicken stock and pecorino and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid is slightly reduced and creamy, about 3 minutes. Serve right away, passing extra cheese at the table.

Today I worked from home and this morning I realized I did not have Italian bread for tonight's dinner. I did not want run to the store at lunchtime as I was planning on working through lunch. So I made bread. Not the Jim Lahey No Knead Bread. This recipe takes a lot less time! I made 3 loaves of bread which I started at 7AM and had in the oven by 12PM. The recipe can be found on Noshtalgia.

No Knead French Bread


1 pkg. dry yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. soft shortening
4 c. sifted all purpose flour

Measure flour into bowl, add water, then yeast. Let yeast dissolve thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Let set 10 minutes. Knead the dough 5 times letting it rest for 10 minutes each time. Turn dough out on floured board and divide in half. Let rest for 10 minutes, then roll each ball into a loaf. Make several diagonal slashes across each loaf. Let rise double. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Bundt Pan Roasted Chicken

Yes I did type Bundt Pan Roasted Chicken. A blog I follow, What's Cooking Italian Style, posted the recipe. It looked so good. I have a bundt pan, which I have not used in a while. After tonight the pan will be used more often. And it will be used to roast chicken. The skin is crispy and the meat is moist. Yes, this is perfectly roasted chicken.
I started by prepping the pan. I covered the hole with aluminum foil and then a piece of parchment paper, perhaps this was overkill, but I was not taking any chances of a leak. Next I spray the pan with cooking spray, Pam Olive Oil.
Next I cut an onion into quarters and doing the same with 2 lemons. Tossed some fresh thyme sprigs on top. The chicken was brushed inside and out with olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Then I placed the chicken in the pan or on the pan! A 4 pound chicken took about an hour and 10 minutes in a 425 degree oven. I did test the temp with a meat thermometer.

Monday, April 11, 2016

7 Years!

Seven years ago, about this time of night I had finished baking a lot of Easter Pies. I poured a glass of wine and wished I could pick up the phone and call my mom and tell her about all the baking I had done. That is when I started this blog.

Let's take a little trip down memory lane. Here is a list of some blog firsts, some favorite posts, and recipes, and some sad things, and some happy things.

The first post -  Twas the night before Easter…

The first post with a photo - Lucia At Home

The first post with a recipe - Pane Cotto

The first post with a family recipe - If I knew you were coming I would have baked a cake.

The first post with my Mom's Baked Macaroni recipe - Mom's Baked Macaroni

Blog post I am glad I just reread-  "Wow This Is Delicious!"

The first post with Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe - 100th Post!

The first post with a photo of a cat - Roasted Chicken Purses

The first time I made 18 hour bread - Pasta with Meat Sauce...

One of my favorite photos of my Dad - Fettuccine Primavera

Learning how to can tomatoes with Dad - Canning Tomatoes with Dad

The Food Blog Challenge and one of my favorite photos of my Mom and me - Challenge #1: Ready, Set, Blog!

A day with my Dad - Roasting Peppers with Dad and a Visit to Whole Foods

A sad post - Dinner?

There is a bird in our house! - Vegetable Soup with Squash and Orzo

Meeting one of my favorite cooks - Lidia!

My favorite post Christmas Dinner - Deviled Bones

The most viewed blog post - Hell's Kitchen Chicken Parmesan

The saddest post of all - My Dad

My parent's 10th great-grandchild - The Circle of Life

Realizing I need to adjust how I cook, aka cooking for two - A Funny Little Dinner

Favorite work lunch - I Confess

Proud God-parents - The Baptism

Cooking Australian - Italy vs Australia 

Of course - One More Hug...

Book Club at my house! - The Book Club - Mona Lisa

My favorite new recipe - Chicken Cutlets and Roasted Green Beans

A recipe I never thought I would make - Book Club, Delicious!  

A day trip - Arthur Avenue AKA Disneyland 

The Stuffed Artichoke Saga - By George, I Think I've Got It! 

I could have picked out a lot more but I doubt anyone will even get this far in the post. Do I have anything on a wish list for next year... not really other than putting meals on the table that Chris likes. Well I might like to try making a decent pignoil cookie.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Italian Beef Sandwich with Au Jus

What is your canned tomato of choice? Mine is  Tuttorosso. It was the brand my Mom used. So that is why I use it. This recipe is from the Tuttorosso web site. It was perfect for today. I had some computer stuff to take care of so the slow cooker was the perfect cooking tool.
Saying this was a good dinner would be an understatement. It was amazing. I cut the recipe in half and have enough for tomorrow night and some to put in the freezer.
Here is the recipe and please make sure you follow Tuttorosso on Facebook to find even more recipes.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 to 5 pounds boneless chuck roast
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 green bell peppers, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup roasted red bell peppers, cut into strips
1 jar banana peppers, cut into strips
1 cup beef stock
2 beef bouillon cubes, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can Tuttorosso® Crushed Tomatoes with basil
1 (28 ounce) can Tuttorosso® Peeled Plum Italian Style Tomatoes, drained and cut into half horizontally and then sliced vertically
8 hoagie rolls
8 slices provolone cheese

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium high heat.  Sprinkle the chuck roast with salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning.  Brown the roast on all side and transfer to the slow cooker.

Top with green bell peppers, yellow bell pepper, onion, garlic, roasted red peppers, banana peppers, beef broth, beef bouillon cubes, crushed tomatoes and tomatoes.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  About 30 minutes before the meat is done cooking, transfer the roast to a cutting board and shred with a couple of forks.  Return meat to slow cooker and cook an additional 30 minutes.

Spoon the shredded meat, peppers and onions on the bottom half of the roll.  Spoon some of the sauce over the meat.  Top with a slice of cheese and the top half of the roll.

Option: Leave sandwich open-face and top with cheese.  Place under broiler to melt the cheese.

Serve with Au Jus sauce for dipping.

Tonight's side dish was Oven Baked Parmesan French Fries. Yes, you read that right! From Michael Chiarello on the Food Network site. There was not a crumb left on the dish.

5 russet potatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel potatoes and cut into half-inch thick slices (lengthwise) cut again into 1/2-inch thick fries. Place the potatoes into a pot with cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring up to a gentle boil and simmer until a paring knife tip goes through easily. Cooked about 3/4 of the way through.

Drain carefully and put in a bowl. Add olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss well and lay out in 1 layer on nonstick baking sheet. Bake until light brown.

When brown, sprinkle with Parmesan and continue to bake until well-browned and crispy and the cheese is melted and caramelized, about 6 to 7 more minutes. Remove and let cool for 2 minutes. Serve.

And even though I had things I had to do today I did find time to make some Focaccia bread!
Focaccia recipe by Anne Burrell

1 3/4 cups warm water, 105 to 115 degrees
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm, not hot or cool, place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, at least 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 1/2 cup olive oil and the yeast mixture on low speed. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for 5 to 6 minutes on a medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft. Give it a sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.

Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface, then knead it by hand 1 or 2 times. Again, give it another sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.

Coat the inside of the mixer bowl lightly with olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, at least 1 hour.

Coat a jelly roll pan with the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. (Chef's Note: This may seem excessive, but focaccia is an oily crusted bread. This is why it is soooooooooo delicious!).

Put the dough onto the jelly roll pan and begin pressing it out to fit the size of the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with the olive oil. Continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan. As you are doing so, spread your fingers out and make finger holes all the way through the dough. (Chef's Note: Yes, this is strange. But when the dough rises again it will create the characteristic craggy looking focaccia. If you do not make the actual holes in the dough, the finished product will be very smooth.)

Put the dough in the warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. While the dough is rising a second time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Liberally sprinkle the top of the focaccia with some coarse sea salt and lightly drizzle a little oil on top. Bake the dough until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool before cutting and serving.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Lasagna Bread (Scaccia)

I have to thank Heidi for letting me drive her to her doctor's appointment. If I had not done so I would not have found this recipe. I found the recipe in Saveur Magazine, nice selection of magazines in that waiting room. When I saw the magazine photo I took a photo of it and the directions with my phone. I later found the recipe online, but they were missing the folding diagram that was in the magazine.
I made the dough this morning before I ran out. I got home around noon and it needed a little more time. I let it sit for another 2 hours and the results were perfect.

I rolled the dough out as thin as I could, using my Mom's rolling pin. I added the sauce and the cheese. Let me say a little about the cheese.

The grocery store did not have caciocavallo cheese, which I have seen there on previous occasions. I stopped in to the Madison Cheese Shoppe. They did not have it either, but they suggested a Pecorino Tosca and Picante Provolone. I tasted both and loved the combination.
From Saveur Magazine, Lasagna Bread (Scaccia) -

Ingredients -
1 1⁄4 tsp. sugar
1⁄4 tsp. active dry yeast
2 cups durum wheat semolina flour
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
All-purpose flour, for dusting
2 cups whole peeled canned tomatoes in juice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1⁄2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. caciocavallo cheese, thinly sliced

In a large bowl, whisk 1⁄4 teaspoon sugar and the yeast with 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the semolina flour, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the 1⁄2 teaspoon salt until the dough comes together. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, pour the tomatoes and their juice into a blender and puree until smooth. In a small saucepan, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Pour the tomatoes into the saucepan along with the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the basil, and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 450°. Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough into a 1⁄16-inch-thick, 26-by-18-inch rectangle, and position the rectangle so that a long side is nearest to you. Spread half the tomato sauce over the middle three-fifths of the rectangle, then sprinkle the sauce with half of the caciocavallo slices. Fold the two plain sides of the dough over so their edges overlap in the middle of the rectangle by 2 inches.
Spread the remaining sauce over the left two-thirds of the dough, and sprinkle the sauce with the remaining slices of caciocavallo. Fold the right hand, plain third over the sauce, then fold the left hand side of dough over, like completing the tri-fold of a letter. Fold the dough crosswise to create a 9-inch-long rectangular pie. Transfer the pie to the prepared loaf pan, pierce the top with the tines of a fork, and bake until dark brown on the top and lightly charred at the edges, about 1 hour. Immediately invert the pie onto a rack, remove the loaf pan and parchment paper, and let the pie cool in this position for 10 minutes. Invert the pie right-side-up before serving.

And we did have dinner tonight! Chicken Piccata. From Giada De Laurentiis. This is one of my go to recipes. Fast, easy and really delicious!


2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.