Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday Batman!

Here's the deal - I have either been sick or away for the past few weekends. What that means is that cooking dinner has not been a priority. We are back to a normal, knock on wood, schedule so part of my weekends will be spent preparing food for the upcoming week. Tomorrow being Easter, dinner at my sister's house, I had to get my work done today. Shopping and cooking in one day. Oh and that sink full of dishes. Honestly cooking is easy. Cleaning up is hard.

Even though I did all that cooking we still needed dinner for tonight. I picked up Fava Beans, one of Chris's favorites, at Bishops. I made Sausage and Fontinella Cheese Meatballs and had a couple leftover from the dish they will appear in later this week. So I had Fava beans and meatballs. There was Pancetta and one onion left over from today's cooking. Dinner was coming together.

But I needed pasta. I made a batch of my favorite pasta from Tide and Thyme. Perfect pasta every thyme!
I sauteed the pancetta and onion. Tossed in the fava beans which were shelled, peeled and boiled earlier. Some butter. Some white wine, about a 1/2 cup. I let that cook down and added the cooked pasta and about a 1/2 cup of pasta water. Parmesan cheese on top and dinner was served.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Eleanor Lombardi's Pizzagaina

Okay, I missed my blog's anniversary. I didn't mean to but things happen.
I am pleased to have been blogging for this long. Granted, this year has been pretty light, what with the flu and the hand and well other things. But enough of the sob story. Let's talk dinner. Pizzagaina. Italian Easter Meat Pie. My mom's recipe. Yes, every one's mom made the best meat pie but this is my blog so we will discuss what I consider to be the best recipe.

For the crust I use the Pate Brise, from the Silver Palate Cookbook. I just leave out the sugar and add pepper, about a 1/2 tsp.

On the recipe card I have noted that this recipe makes two pies. I think my mom used 12 inch pie dishes. I ended up with four 9 inch pies and a small pie.

Pate Brisee - (this recipe is for 2 pies, top and bottom crusts)

6 cups unbleached all purpose flour

2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
22 Tbsp sweet butter, chilled

12 Tbsp vegetable shortening, chilled
1 cup ice water

Sift the flour, salt and pepper together into a bowl; add butter and shortening and cut them into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture is like coarse meal.
Sprinkle on and blend in enough of the ice water to make a workable dough, mixing water in lightly with a fork.
Turn dough out onto your work surface and, using the heel of your hand, smear the dough away from you, about 1/4 cup at a time. Scrape up the smeared dough into a ball, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hours.

Eleanor Lombardi's Pizzagaina

2 pounds baked ham, diced
1 pound pepperoni, skinned, diced and boiled, drained (boiling removes excess grease)
1 pound sweet sausage, fully cooked, drained
1 pound basket cheese, diced

Mix all ingredients. Roll out a quarter of the dough. Place the crust in pie dish. Use a pie dish with handles if you have one. You will want to check the bottom of the pie to see if it is browned. Add the half of meat and cheese mixture to the dish. Break and mix 3 eggs (each pie requires 3 eggs) and pour over the top of the meat. Roll out another quarter of the dough. Place on top of the meat. Crimp edges. Cut 3 slits in crust. Bake 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. (I baked mine for an hour and 15 minutes). Repeat this for the second pie.
With the meat recipe you may end up with enough for more than the two pies. Let just say it is one of those Easter miracles. I usually make enough dough for 6 pies just in case.  The crust recipe above is only for 2 pies. I prefer to make the crust in small batches. Making enough for 6 pies at once is more than my kitchen or I can handle.  The crust can go in the freezer so it is "like money in the bank."

This year Chris helped with the preparation. He cut all the meat and cheese. Boiled the pepperoni and cooked the sausage while I was preparing the crusts. I could not have done this without his help.

When the pies are in the oven keep an eye on overflow. The egg might spill out the slits. It may be a good idea to put some foil under the pie dishes on the lower rack. As long as the egg does not spill over you house will smell amazing. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Veal Stock Revisited

This week has been an interesting one for dinners. I was away this past weekend and did not cook. I have been paying the price every night. We had Chinese Sunday with leftovers on Monday. Tuesday we were suppose to have Lentil Soup which I had taken out of the freezer. Chris called when he got home and asked where the soup was because what he found in the fridge was a container marked - Veal Stock from Osso Bucco, 12/25/13. Excellent. I was sure I saw Lentil Soup. Anyway, we ended up having Baked Macaroni on Tuesday, not a bad substitute. But still there was the veal stock to deal with. This morning I heated up the stock and added some frozen veggies, there was already onions and carrots in the stock. I boiled some noodles. Tossed them in the pot and added some fresh spinach I had in the fridge. The house smelled so good at 7 AM! And what a fantastic dinner it was. It was nice to know that none of the Veal Osso Bucco went to waste.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bread and Vegetable "Lasagna"

Another one of my husband's favorite meatless dinners. The recipe is from Living the Gourmet. I omitted the garlic and served marinara sauce on the side.

Bread and Vegetable "Lasagna", from Living the Gourmet.

About 9-10 sliced of bread – toasted
2 zucchini – sliced lengthwise
4-5 cloves of garlic – chopped
1 onion – sliced
2 large beefsteak tomatoes – sliced
16 oz. Mozzarella cheese – shredded
Grated Romano cheese
 2- 3 tablespoons of Olive oil

Toast the bread.

Heat a large frying pan with the olive oil.  Add the sliced onion and sauté until it is slightly golden.  Add the garlic and sauté until it is fragrant and set aside.

Add the sliced zucchini and sauté until it is slightly golden and set aside.

Preheat the Oven 350 degrees:

Prepare a baking dish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Place some slices of bread to fit the bottom of the dish.  Place zucchini, onion and garlic and slices of tomato.  Top with the shredded cheese and grated Romano; repeat this process until all of the bread and veggies are used.

Finish with shredded cheese, grated Romano cheese and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Preheat Oven 350 degrees:

Bake this for 40-45 minutes.  Let the dish rest for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

One Pot Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole

This was quite the dinner.
 I probably should have cut the recipe in half. 
The recipe does serve 6. 
So guess what we are having tomorrow night! 
And maybe some for later in the week...

From Closet CookingOne Pot Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole

4 strips bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
8 ounces pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Cook the bacon in a large pan over medium heat, about 5-7 minutes, set aside on paper towels to drain and drain the grease from the pan.

Cook the ground beef and onion in the same pan over medium-high heat, about 5-7 minutes, and drain any excess grease.

Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and pasta, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer covered until the pasta is al dente tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle on the cheese and simmer, covered, until the cheese has melted, about 2-3 minutes, and serve garnished with the bacon.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Funny, but this seems to be turning into a weekend blog!

Dinner was delicious. Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. The spiciness and saltiness of the sauce were a perfect blend. The sauce could have been eaten by the spoonful. Okay, I only had two spoons full.

From Williams-SonomaSpaghetti alla Puttanesca

1 1/2 lb. (750 g.) diced canned tomatoes with their juices (or ripe fresh tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped)
2 Tbs. Chopped red or  yellow onion
1/2 cup (1/2 oz./15 g.) firmly packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn
1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g.) chopped pitted Gaeta or other Mediterranean-style black olives
2 Tbs. Chopped, rinsed capers
2 Tbs. Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving
1/2 lb. (250 g.) spaghetti
1 1/2 Tbs. Butter or extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan or grana padano cheese for serving

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, half of the basil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the tomatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the olives, capers and parsley and simmer for about 1 minute longer. At this point, the mixture should be fairly thick. If it is still watery, simmer for about 5 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, according to the package directions.

Just before the pasta is ready, reheat the sauce until hot and remove from the heat. Stir the remaining basil leaves into the sauce along with the butter. Drain the pasta and transfer to a shallow serving bowl. Add the sauce, toss to combine, top with more parsley, and serve, passing the cheese at the table. Serves 2.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Baked French Dip Sandwiches and Lentil & Vegetable Salad

Happy Sunday! Sunday is now my favorite day of the week because I get to eat sweets. I gave them up for Lent, but my Mom always said you were allowed to break the fast on Sundays. I picked up a Nutella Brownie Sandwich from Merriano's Bakery. I only had half, saved the other half for Chris. It was not easy not eating the whole thing. I really miss chocolate.

For dinner, I made two excellent recipes. The first was the Baked French Dip Sandwiches. I found the recipe on This was the best sandwich I have had in a while. I added sauteed onions and peppers and then added the cheese, Provolone of course. The au jus was in the freezer from the last time I made short ribs. Fantastic sandwich.

The salad recipe was from In Pursuit of More. Living With (Just a Little) Less. I had the Lentils in the freezer so this was pretty easy to prepare. I used a simple balsamic vinaigrette that I made the other night. We loved this salad.