Monthly Archives: June 2015

Italian Night – Tagliatelle Pasta and Ragu Bolognese

I had wanted to make a few Italian recipes that we had made in our Tuscan cooking class since coming back home a couple of weeks ago. Everything just came together this for past Friday night’s dinner.  We were trying to get together with some of our local friends, our VT friends contacted me to come and stay the night and the final piece de resistance was the red wine I sent home from Italy arrived Friday morning oh and I had the day off.  Italian night was just meant to be!

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I love my new pasta dryer!

I made my shopping list out in the morning, I had planned on making it a little easier on me since I was cooking for 9+ people and I don’t have staff to help me with prep or clean up per say; my son and friends helped with clean up. I was going with Bruschetta, homemade; handmade pasta with a Bolognese sauce and tiramisu for dessert.  I know that was not going to be a truly “authentic” Tuscan meal but I live in NH and I am not Italian nor can I get the same ingredients locally, trust me I tried, I thought I would make it as close as possible. I had to find a substitute for Italian 00 flour; 1 part pastry flour to 3 parts AP flour was the answer.

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Homemade Tagliatelle Pasta – Flat cut pasta

1 cup pastry flour

3 cups all-purpose flour

4-5 large eggs

extra virgin olive oil

Combine flours in a bowl, on a clean work surface make a pile of the flour; make a well in the middle large enough for the eggs but make sure the edges are big enough to hold in the eggs. With a fork; start to scramble the eggs being careful not to break the sides of the flour ring. Once scrambled you can start to incorporate a little flour at a time; again being careful not to let the eggs escape. This process can take just a couple of minutes. Once you are able to use your hands; get in there and make your dough ball, scrape up the bits on your work area and re-flour lightly so you have a place to knead the dough. Before you start put a small amount of evoo on both sides of your dough ball; if the dough starts getting too yellow add a little more flour. Knead until the dough is soft and pliable but not sticky. Cut into 2 or 4 equal parts and work with 1 at a time.

Roll the dough on a clean lightly floured surface, this will probably take you the longest part of the process, you need to get the dough very thin and into a rectangle of sorts. Once thin enough fold into thirds or even fourths; depending on how long your dough is. Cut off the uneven ends and then decide what kind (size) pasta you want for dinner. I tried to make mine the same width as my pinkie. slice folded pasta and unfold once cut and either hang or lay out on a lightly floured surface till ready to cook.

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Ragu Bolognese

5 tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 tbs butter

1-2 carrots finely diced

1 onion finely diced

1 stalk celery finely diced

1-2 garlic pressed

1 lb ground veal or pork

1 lb ground beef

¼ lb pancetta or slab bacon

28 oz. can San Marzano tomato – crushed

1 cup milk

1 cup of red or white wine – I use what I have left over – if there is such a thing!

Kosher salt, freshly crack black pepper

Parmigiano-Reggiano grated

In a 6-8 quart heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter till melted. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned. Add all the meat and combine with the vegetables on high heat stir continuously till the meat is browned. Add the tomatoes, milk and wine and simmer over medium-low heat for 1-2 hours. Season with salt and pepper; to taste; and remove from the heat.

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Cook pasta in cold salted water until al dente and the pasta has risen to the top. Add cooked pasta to warmed Bolognese sauce toss till all pasta is coated and serve. Sorry I don’t have a picture of the final dish, we ate it immediately as it should be

Mangia Mangia!

Beef Sliders with Aioli and Caramelized onions

Happy Father Day to all dads out there including the 3 closest in my life my husband, my dad and my father-in-law!

I hope this first full day of summer is not the gauge of how the rest of the summer is going to turn out. Here in NH it is a cold rainy dreary kind of day so far. To take the slight chill out of the air and it being father’s day, I decided it would be nice to make my husband one of his favorite soups. I know mid-June is not supposed to be soup weather but turning on the stove top and also I had some overripe bananas in the fridge so I also turned on the oven and made a few small loaves of banana breads.

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Clam Chowder – recipe blog 3/15/2015

While I loved being on vacation and especially in Italy with my daughter, I did miss cooking in my own kitchen.  It kind of was a crazy week of weather here in NH this last week. Monday was cold and barely made it into the 60’s and on Tuesday it was very close to 80 pretty ridiculous even for us. This is probably why they say if you don’t like the weather here wait 10 minutes.

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While at the local market they had a cooler with quick dinner ideas. They had some pretty great looking 80/20 beef sliders so I picked up a couple of packages along with some small buns from the bakery. Because of the size of the sliders it is really hard to put all the toppings we generally put on our burgers; lettuce, tomato, pickles etc. so I was in search of some ideas for an aioli of some sort. I came across one from Guy Fieri but his were not simple burger his were made with Kobe beef.  Pretty sure I have never seen Kobe beef in a local market here; but his aioli sounded delicious and he had added some caramelized onions so why not check it out.

They came out delicious and believe it or not we actually had a few leftover; I was worried about storing them bun and all but my son and his friend heated them up the next day and said they were still good so don’t feel you have to eat them all and you will have leftover aioli, the caramelized onions were another story, I made sure to use all of them up, they were SO good.

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Onions

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 large Vidalia onions, thinly sliced – I used my mandolin to slice them

2 tbs Jack Daniels – or whatever bourbon you have on hand – if you don’t have any buy a nip or two

3 tbs unsalted butter

2 tbs sugar

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

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Aioli

2 cups Mayonnaise

1 tbs tequila – again buy nip if you don’t have any on the shelf

2 tbs fresh lime juice

3 tbs pickled jalapenos – I couldn’t find them and didn’t want to make them so I added a little pickle juice.

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Burger

3 lbs grounds beef

Vegetable oil for the grill

1 tsp garlic salt

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

12 mini burger buns

Butter for the buns

12 lime wedges

Onions – heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, before it starts smoking add the thinly sliced onions. Stir to coat; lower heat to low and cook until the onions are golden, 30+ minutes. Remove from heat to add the bourbon scraping up the yummy browned bits with a wooden spoon. Return to low heat, add the butter and cook until melted. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until there is very little liquid left in the pan

Aioli – put all the ingredients in a food processor until combined; cover and place in the fridge until ready to use.

Sliders – if not already formed, form the patties into 12 4-ounce patties and about ½ inch thick. Oil the heated grill grates, add the burger and season with garlic salt, kosher salt and pepper to taste. Grill until browned and cooked halfway through, 3-4 minutes.  Flip and top with some of the caramelized onions and cook 3 more minutes for medium.

Buns – butter both sides of the buns and place on the grill to toast about 1-2 minutes.  Spread the aioli on the top bun, place burger on the bottom, cover with the tops and thread each lime wedge onto a skewer; pierce the skewers through the sliders.

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Sliders, Rum and Coke and a Strawberry Daiquiri – strawberries from our garden

Adapted from Guy Fieri for Food Network Magazine

Italian Bruschetta – Florence Cooking Class

Let me start off with Italy was awesome and everything I thought it was going to be! Let me next apologize for the delay in sending out my weekly blog. Last week I mentioned I wanted to travel light so I left my laptop at home. Well that would have all worked out fine and dandy had the airline Alitalia not understood the concept of how to cue lines and decided to sell my ticket plus several others to the people in the standby line versus us who were waiting 2½ hours in line to check in. So while being stranded another night in Italy sounds like a pretty cool place to be, I was less than thrilled or prepared for that matter. I got home last night around 10:30 versus Saturday night which had I been prepared I could have written my blog plus maybe a short novel with how much time I spent sitting in the airport. But enough about that, let’s get to why we are all here – YUMMY FOOD!

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I can say with some certainty that tomatoes, mozzarella and basil were the basis of pretty much every meal we ate, breakfast included. If it wasn’t a margarita pizza, it could have been caprese salad or bruschetta, or even in a sandwich form; the options were endless. We had the most amazing burrata ever. I want to learn how to make this; the Italian way of course.

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Caprese

A few interesting things we learned in the cooking class that I wanted to share. They like a specific bread for bruschetta, it is rustic and doesn’t have a lot of flavor so you taste nothing but the basil, tomatoes and garlic ahhhhhhh love or better yet Amare! When they use onions they do not add any garlic and vice versus. I definitely do not follow that rule; I add garlic to just about everything I make. This other is a huge no no with them but I can go either way with it. They take great offense to pineapple on pizzas. Not my first choice but I can deal.

Class Pizza - artichoke hearts OK

Class Pizza Abbi and I made – artichoke hearts OK

I would like to recommend to anyone traveling to Italy to take a cooking class. The one we took in Florence was jammed packed with history and information and yummy food. We met some very nice people and I am very happy we signed up.  We went with Taste Italy Food and Wine Tours. Oh yeah I haven’t even brought up all the wine we drank, I mean tried. First night walking around Rome we picked a restaurant randomly and ordered their bruschetta and a glass of wine. We ended up enjoying both so we ordered a margarita pizza and another glass of wine. Our waiter was SO disappointed in us, he told us next time we have to order the bottle of wine; it is less expensive that way. SO that is how the rest of the trip went.

Just sharing how adorable my daughter is

Just sharing how adorable my daughter is

Italian way to make bruschetta

3-4 ripe from the vine tomatoes chopped

Rustic bread sliced and toasted

1 Clove of garlic chopped (I personally would use 2-3)

Bunch of fresh basil ripped and chopped with the garlic

Extra Virgin Olive oil – the extra virgin means first press of the olives – we learned that in class

Black pepper

Salt

Toast bread dry, set aside. Chop several tomatoes and place in a bowl. Chop basil and garlic together add to the tomatoes, add about 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Only add salt when serving. Side note, they did say we could rub garlic on the toast if we wanted to.

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Burrata – Best I have ever had!

I don’t know how to make burrata just yet but I will learn and share, if you haven’t tried it or know what it is, it starts as mozzarella and ends with a creamy curd center mozzarella ball . I have had it before and liked it, now I LOVE it! I hope it’s not only awesome in Italy.

Fettuccini Alfredo – Leaving tonight (Fri) for Italy

I am feeling especially loved this week! I will have been in Rome for one day while you are reading this. The week of my departure, it was just too damn cute; my in-laws were waiting for me when I got home from work to say Arrivederci. Our friends that we met up with in Montreal came and spent the night, no less their anniversary night with us, my dad came to visit me, and my Mom wished me safe travels. My Co-workers were so happy for me and excited for the stories and pictures for when I get back. I went out last night with some good friends and hopefully meeting up for lunch with some more good friends; just feeling loved; I must admit it brought ought a funny comment from me. Damn you guys do know I am coming back right? Yes my husband made it quite clear that I had to come home!

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It all started when I made the decision that I would go visit my daughter before she ends her time in Japan later this year. We talked a lot about either going to her “home” in Japan or maybe meet somewhere else; like somewhere in the middle; cut the flight time for both of us. I looked up all direct international flights from Logan in Boston and from her local airport and of course Tokyo. That at least narrowed it to a few countries.

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We chose Italy which was really a no-brainer; my dream is to eat my way from the North to the South or vice versa I’m flexible either would work for me. While this trip is not my “dream” trip it will definitely be an awesome adventure that I get to share with my baby girl who is turning 25 while we are in Florence. And what a better way to spend her birthday than to attend a 7 hour cooking class. It includes a walking tour of a food market to purchase our items of course, then we are brought out to the country to an old farmhouse where we will make our 5 course dinner and dessert while trying the local vino. Yeah it sounds amazing, I will report back if it is as awesome as it sounds.

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My husband was insistent that I write my blog sitting at a café in Rome; while I LOVED the idea, I mean really; how flipping cool would that be. Unfortunately since I was traveling alone I decided packing super light was the only way to travel and since we were spending time in two or more cities; I wasn’t going to lug my laptop. Next time during my “dream” Italian trip, damn straight I will be sitting at several café’s writing and sharing everything around me with you.

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It was delicious but this picture looks like it needs more pepper

In honor of my trip I am going to share my quick version of Fettuccine Alfredo that I made for my guys this last week with the homemade pasta I brought back from Montreal.

Alfredo Sauce

1 pint heavy cream

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano

Freshly cracked black pepper

Broccoli – cooked in the pasta water till aldente – optional

Shrimp – cooked in the Alfredo sauce or cook in garlic butter before adding – optional

Cook pasta according to directions using fresh or boxed works fine

Heat the heavy cream over medium low heat in a deep straight sided saute pan

Add butter and whisk gently to melt, do not boil but simmer for about 5 minutes or so to thicken. Sprinkle in the cheese and stir to incorporate; Season with freshly cracked black pepper.

Add cooked pasta to the pan and Mangia Mangia!

Arrivederci – I need to go pack now, I leave tonight!