Little Lasagnas with Tomato, Burrata and Pesto

on Monday, March 5, 2012

This recipe was inspired by a photo I saw in La Cucina Italiana magazine, and although my version is much more simplified than the original, using store-bought ingredients, I can assure you nothing lacked in the flavor department, in fact it was so dreamy it got rave reviews, but then how could it not with creamy burrata adorning it!
Being able to purchase fresh lasagna sheets and good quality pesto is key to the simplicity and taste, a quick 2 minute boil for the pasta then cooled down in ice water and patted dry.
The ingredients consist of fresh pasta sheets that are scattered with roasted tomatoes along with their lovely juice, dollops of store-bought basil pesto (not pictured here), grated parmesan another drizzle of olive oil and of course the main character, burrata cheese!
You can do 2 or 3 layers at a time, what ever you so desire, you'll be assembling them on parchment paper that has been brushed with olive oil on a baking sheet, and because everything is precooked all you have to do is heat then up in a 450 oven until the burrata has melted and the edges are golden. Garnish with chopped basil and serve immediately!
This is fantastic for a dinner party just add a fresh green salad along with some crusty bread!
Here's a link to the original recipe inspiration if you want to make your own pesto and farro based pasta sheets.
Buon Appetito!

Stuffed Tomahawk Pork Chop

on Tuesday, February 28, 2012

There's a new market that opened up in my area and I've been like a kid in a candy store trying out  some of their different products and produce, cuts of meat, fish and fabulous bakery, I could go on and on about this place and I will at a later date as I've been invited to a private tour in a few weeks from now.
The first time I went I couldn't resist the tomahawk pork chops that were sitting in the meat case, these things are huge, think Flintstone style, and resemble a small axe, hence the name tomahawk!
Berkshire pork is prized for it's juiciness, flavor and tenderness, it's the prime rib of the pork loin and  weighs in at around 1pound!
I never cooked one before but the minute I saw it I knew I was going to stuff it so I asked the butcher to cut me a nice deep pocket, which he happily did!
My stuffing consisted of crumbled feta cheese, sliced sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, grated lemon peel and chopped fresh spinach. I used my indoor grill pan to brown it first before I stuffed it then seasoned it with salt, pepper and a sprig of rosemary. I secured the opening with 3 wooden skewers then finished baking it in the same grill pan at 375 in the oven until meat thermometer reached 145.
This is very impressive and easily feeds 2 hungry people, and the flavor? Well all I can say is that it's out of this world! Go try and hunt one down!

Buon Appetito! 

Roasted Salmon with Pan Seared Gnocchi

on Wednesday, February 22, 2012

This is not so much a recipe, but by placing these components together you create a fabulous meal! If you read my blog regularly you know I love my roasted tomatoes, I make them simply by placing foil on a rimmed lined baking sheet then adding shaved garlic and a very generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper over my sweet cherry, grape or Campari tomatoes, roasting them in a 400-425 degree oven.  The tin foil holds all that juicy, tomatoey, oily goodness that comes out, for fear any would burn off!
 For added flavor in this dish, capers and olives were tossed into the juice.
I always roast my salmon at 450 for 15 minutes, take it out and let it rest.
Have you tried pan seared gnocchi yet? I urge you to try it! I had leftover ricotta gnocchi in my freezer and right from the frozen state you saute it in a pan with melted butter and a drizzle of olive oil, the outside gets golden and crispy and the middle is soft. I learned this technique from watching Chef Jonathan Waxman in a live demo. It was the perfect companion for my salmon along with some sauteed spinach.
Don't waste the tomatoes! Toss them in fresh green beans with roasted cipollini onions, a delicious side!

Buon Appetito!

Roasted Veggie Pasta for a Crowd

on Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This is a nice choice for a buffet, a colorful combination of roasted veggies tossed with hearty rigatoni,  pasta. The best thing is everything can be prepped the day before including the pasta, and assembled the day of your party.
Bring everything to room temperature, mix it all together and warm it slightly in a low oven, it doesn't have to be pipping hot at all!
The more colors the better, and the more the merrier with the veggies! I used red, yellow and orange peppers, cauliflower, eggplant, artichokes, green beans, onions, peas, cherry tomatoes and sliced garlic all roasted separately, according to their kind on baking sheets in a 425 degree oven drizzled with generous amounts of olive oil, salt and pepper.
I like to roast my cherry tomatoes along with sliced garlic and plenty of olive oil on top of foil so the juicy oil gathers together and doesn't burn off on the baking sheet, that way you can toss that wonderful juice all in the mix as well.
Of course you'll want to add handfuls of grated romano cheese, more olive oil, fresh basil and parsley to finish it off, tasting along the way to get the flavors just right!
I get requests to make this all the time for parties, it's a welcome addition to a red sauced baked pasta, and it looks pretty too!
Buon Appetito!

Valentine's Day Breakfast Ideas

on Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, wouldn't this be cute to serve for breakfast? It's so easy to do you'll have it plated in no time!
I got the heart idea from Martha, the directions are here. I used good quality multigrain bread from a bakery and I sprinkled my eggs with a dry tuscan herb mix that I have, plus salt and pepper, along side it is applewood smoked bacon, our favorite!
They remind me of "Moonstruck Eggs" which I adore and make on special occasions, I did a post on them here.
And for you chocolate lovers out there, these triple chocolate scones are to die for, I only made them twice, they're too dangerous to keep around!
Dutch-processed cocoa powder added to the dough along with white and dark chocolate chunks, need I say more?
Here's the recipe!

Making Calzone

on Sunday, February 5, 2012

Calzone, the perfect stuffed pizza folded over and baked, usually made as an individual serving and stuffed to perfection with various meats, vegetables and cheese, it's the ultimate pizza pocket!
Start out with a pound of pizza dough, you can make your own or buy a good one, cut it into 4 equal pieces then let it rest to room temperature covered with a towel.
While your dough is resting you can get your filling ready, I like to use roasted veggies, always some spicy Italian sausage, precooked and sliced and a few different cheeses like fresh mozzarella, asiago and ricotta.
Oh, and some pretty green spinach and usually fresh basil I mix in with the ricotta.
Assemble your calzone with the ingredients of your choice, I made a vegetarian version and a meat one. Load your filling down the middle, not quite to the end, leaving some room for crimping. Take the top of the dough and fold it right over the filling to resemble a half moon, then crimp the edges.
Have your oven preheated to 400 degrees, then place the calzone on a baking sheet that has been brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with dry polenta or corn meal, doing this will ensure a nice crispy crust, and we like a nice crispy crust don't we?
Make sure to brush the uncooked dough with olive oil, a little cracked pepper and a sprinkling of grated cheese before baking.

Bake for around 30 minutes or until a rich golden color develops. Warning!  Your house will smell amazing!
For my veggie version before each bite I swiped my calzone in some olive oil and balsamic glaze, crazy good!
The meat version was draped with warmed homemade marinara, the perfect companion.
Now go and make some calzone!

Buon Appetito

Winter Vegetable Torte

on Thursday, January 26, 2012

I love my springform pans I use them for so many things, I think I have every size they make. They're great for layering vegetables that are "glued together" with various cheese, as in this torte.
This recipe was born from small containers of roasted vegetables I had tucked away in my fridge, and one large sweet potato, and I must say it turned out mighty good, a different variation than my zucchini, eggplant version.
You can't get a better side dish because everything is all contained in one flavorful wedge!

I started with very thinly sliced sweet potato, then each layer a different veg, sprinkling grated cheese in between and ending with the sweet potato on top.
I used a 6 inch springform pan that was deep and allowed me to have many layers, just remember to press down in between, place the pan on a baking sheet so you won't have drips in your oven when cooking and cover the top with foil. Roast at 425 for 20 minutes, then take the foil off and roast another 15 minutes until the top is golden. Let it rest for 30 minutes before you slice it into wedges.
Use your imagination and the vegetables of your choice, here's a list of what I used for my winter vegetable torte.
 No doubt I will be making this again!
Buon Appetito

Playing with Portobello's

on Thursday, January 19, 2012

Large portobellos are so meaty and satisfying, it's the perfect vehicle for pasta topped stuffing. 
Tiny star pasta called stelline, tossed with garlic, red, yellow and orange peppers, fresh herbs and  cheese of your choice. For a nice light lunch or dinner, it's delicious served with a salad, or you can have it as a side dish to accompany your favorite protein, either way you'll love it, and it looks pretty too!
The topping could be made in advance then arranged on the mushrooms at the last minute.

  In a small  pan drizzled with olive oil add minced garlic, finely diced red, yellow and orange diced peppers. Stir in fresh herbs like basil and parsley and your favorite shredded cheese, I used romano and asiago. Toss in your precooked tiny pasta.
The mushrooms I slightly precooked in a 425 degree oven until they started to wilt a little.
Top each mushroom with the pasta mixture, then place under the broiler for up to 5 minutes or until the topping is golden or mushrooms are warmed through. 
Portobellos also make a fantastic meatless lasagna, stack three high and fill each cap with a layer of marinara then top with a mixture made up of of ricotta, grated romano, mozzarella, asiago, basil and parsley.
 Prepare mushrooms as above.
Spoon more marinara over the top and bake for around 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven or just until warmed through.

Buon Appetito!