Friday, May 28, 2010

Gambero dell'Aglio - Garlic Shrimp

A friend recently shared an untried recipe with me for garlic shrimp. The ingredients sounded delicious and simple, however the cooking method was sure to produce overcooked shrimp with the texture of rubber balls. I changed the cooking menthod and here is the recipe I am came up with for perfectly cooked shrimp and kept the great taste of the original recipe.

Melt 3 to 4 tablespoons butter in a heavy skillet and saute 5 cloves of mashed garlic and 1 pound of frozen shrimp, shelled and deveined over medium high temperature. Add 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (other lemon juice is fine too), and 4 tablespoons white wine (I use a particularly dry Pinot Grigio.) You want to reduce the liquids some while the shrimp cook.

Lower the heat and let the shrimp finish cooking. Once cooked, sprinkle chopped Italian parsley over shrimp and serve.
In our house, this serves 2 people.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spaghetti Carbonara with Asparagus

This is such a quick and easy dish to prepare and oh so good. A big favorite of my husbands.
In a large bowl, beat together 2 large eggs and 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook 1 box of Barilla Plus spaghetti until al den, adding 1 bunch bunch of asparagus that has been halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces, the last few minutes of cooking. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the hot pasta to the egg mixture; toss to coat.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add 5 slices of bacon that have been coarsely chopped, and cook until crisp. Stir in the garlic. add 1/4 cup dry white wine (I like to use VJB Chardonnay and cook until slightly reduced. About 1 minute. Stir the bacon mixture in the spaghetti, adding enough of the reserved pasta water to moisten; season with freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lemon Pasta with Shrimp

This dish is quick and easy to prepare, but it tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen.
Put the zest of one lemon in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil and let stand.
Boil 1 box of Barilla Plus spaghetti in boiling salted water. When draining pasta, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. add 4 or more minced large garlic cloves, and cook for a minute or two. add 1 pound of frozen large shrimp, and cook until pink. Perhaps 5 minutes or so. Add the cooked spaghetti, 1/4 cup lemon juice, the zest of 1 lemon, kosher salt to taste, and at least 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper. Toss to combine. Use a wire mesh sieve, and strain the lemon zest out of the reserved olive oil. You should have about 1.4 cup when you do. add the oil to the pasta. Add some (or all depending) of the reserved pasta cooking liquid so the pasta isn't dry. Stir in 1/4 cup fresh minced thyme and parsley. (About 2/3 parsley, 1/2 thyme). Serve immediately.
This would also be delicious with spinach or arugla added at the end to wilt.
Buon appetitto!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Spaghetti with Greens

A bowl of pasta does not have to mean big calories. To lighten up pasta dishes, try Barilla Plus or whole wheat pasta. It adds a hearty, nutty flavor.Tossed with greens, and topped with toasted pine nuts, kalamata olives and pecorino cheese, you have a delicious, satisfying meal without feeling guilty.

Toast 2 tablespoons pine nuts in a skillet over high heat, being very careful not to burn. They will quickly.

Heat 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 onions, thinly sliced and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. add about 14 cups trimmed and chopped swiss chard, spinach or other greens of your choice. Saute until it wilts, about 2 minutes. Add 4 minced garlic cloves and saute 1 minute. Stir in 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with their juice, 1/4 cup dry white wine, and black pepper or red pepper flakes to taste. Bring to a boil; decrease heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally. You are looking for the tomatoes to begin breaking down and the greens very tender. Perhaps 5 minutes will do the trick. Season mixture with salt.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water (salted if you want to) to a boil. add 8 ounces of Barilla Plus or whole wheat spaghetti. Cook according to package directions. Barilla Plus and whole wheat pasta takes a little longer to cook than regular pasta. Drain spaghetti and add to the greens mixture; toss to combine.

Serve pasta in individual bowls; sprinkle each serving with chopped kalamata olives (about 1/4 cup all together), pecorino cheese to taste, and the toasted pine nuts. Makes enough for 2 to 4 main course servings, depending on the type eaters you are feeding.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Stracotto - Pot Roast with Porcini Mushroom, Red Wine and Rosemary Infused Sauce

In the winter, I love braised meats. The beauty of this type preparation is that once you add all the ingredients, you can walk away and forget about it for several hours. Braising delivers moist, tender meat every time and succulent pan juices that are delicious over polenta or potatoes of any kind. In Italian, stracotto literally means "overcooked."

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pat a 5 pound boneless beef chuck roast dry with paper towels and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a couple tablespoons olive oil in a heavy 6-quart pot or Dutch oven. Add beef and brown on all sides, about 12 minutes or so. You do not want to rush this step. It is what creates the deep rich flavor in the finished dish. remove the beef form the pan to a large plate.

reduce the heat to medium and add 2 chopped onions to the pan and saute until tender, perhaps 5 minutes, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan as you do. add 6 coarsely chopped garlic cloves and saute for 1 minute more. Stir in 1 cup dry red wine and boil for 1 minute.Stir in 1 14-ounce can of low-salt beef broth and 1/2 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms.

Return the beef to the pot, cover and put in the oven. Braise the beef until fork tender, about 3 hours. be sure to turn the beef over halfway though the cooking time.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, spoon excess fat off the top of the pan liquid. Transfer the liquid and vegetables in the pot to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. In a medium heavy sauce pan, combine the sauce with one large rosemary sprig. Bring to a boil, then season the sauce with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. let gently simmer until meat is done resting.

The sauce is amazingly flavorful and infused with the fresh rosemary at the end brings it to a whole other level. A real taste sensation.

Limoncello Cheesecake

Cut this refreshing, light and decadent cheesecake into small squares or larger ones, and you have the best snack or dessert you can imagine. The limoncello pops in this dessert, and I especially love the light creamy texture. The biscotti makes a flavor enhancing crunchy crust You can make your own limoncello liqueur or use store bought.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. spray the bottom of a 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Break 8 ounces of store bought biscotti (flavor of your choice) into pieces and grind them into fine crumbs in a food processor. Add 6 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon lemon zest. Process until the crumbs are moistened.

Press the crumb mixture over just the bottom of the prepared pan and bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Place pan on a cooling rack and cool the crust completed.

Clean the food processor bowl and blend 12 ounces of whole milk ricotta (drain if necessary first) until smooth. Add two 8-ounce packages of room temperature cream cheese and 1 1/4 cup sugar, and blend well, stopping if necessary occasionally to scrape down the sides.

Blend in 1/2 cup limoncello, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 2 tablespoons lemon zest.

Add 4 large eggs and pulse until just blended.

Pour the cheese mixture over the cooled crust in the pan. Place the baking pan in a large roasting pan and pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the smaller pan.

Bake until the cheesecake for about 1 hour. the middle might wiggle slightly when the pan is gently shaken. This is fine. It will firm up more as it cools.

Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. refrigerate for about 8 hours or even over night so the cheesecake is really cold. Cut the cake into small squares as a snack, or in large squares for a plated dessert.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pork Milanese with Caper and Lemon Sauce

Our daughter Jen made us this entree when we
were visiting over Christmas. It's simple to prepare and very good. The room temperature creamy sauce, loaded with flavor from the capers and lemon, makes your mouth happy. A delight served over the hot pork chops.

You can also prepare the pork by pounding boneless chops thin, in the manner of the Parmesan Chicken recipe below.

To prepare to sauce: Combine 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese and 3 tablespoons mayonnaise. Slowly add 1/4 cup whole milk, stirring as you go, until all the milk is Incorporated. Add 1/4 cups capers, drained and chopped, 1 lemon, zested, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the Pork Milanese: Combine 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a bowl or shallow dish. In a second bowl, lightly beat 2 large eggs. In a third dish, place 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Season with pork with salt and pepper.

Dip the pork, 1st in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs.

Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, place the breaded pork in the skillet. Cook until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer pork to a serving platter and serve with the sauce.