Thursday, December 28, 2006

Have you tired...Manchego?

Yep, I'm back on the cheese wagon. Have you tried this cheese; Manchego? "It's Spain's most popular cheese and is made only on the plain of LaMancha from the milk of the Manchega sheep which graze on the shrubs and grasses of the Dahesa and produce a thick, aromatic milk that gives Manchego a unique and distinctive character. The "La Mancha"region is a vast high plateau, more than 600 meters above sea level, which extends from east to west and north to south, adjoining the provinces of Toledo, Cuenca, Ciudad Real and Albacete, all in the Castile-La Mancha Region southeast of Madrid." From the Iberian Foods website.

If you haven't had a chance to try it, please do, it's a delightful cheese with a mellow flavor, it has a dry texture much like Parmesan. I thought it tasted like a sharp Irish ceddar, but CB thought it tasted like Parmesan. It can be stored in the refrigerator in wax paper for up to two weeks. A recent recipe in the Everyday Food Magazine featured this delicious cheese.

Ham and Manchego Panini with Dipping Sauce

Serves 2; Prep time: 20 minutes; Total time: 20 minutes

4 slices country bread
4 ounces thinly sliced ham
2 ounces Manchego cheese, coarsely grated (1/2 cup)
4 tsp olive oil
3 tbs apricot jam
1 tbs Dijon mustard

Top each of 2 bread slices with ham, Manchego, and remaining slices. Brush tops of panini with 2 teaspoons oil.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-low. Place panini in skillet, oiled side up. Cover; cook until golden brown and cheese has melted, 5 to 8 minutes per side, pressing down with a spatula 3 to 4 times during cooking.

Meanwhile, make dipping sauce: In a small bowl, mix together jam and Dijon. Serve panini with sauce on the side.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gingerbread Biscotti with White Chocolate and Peppermint

I'm exhausted. The holidays have officially kicked my ass. I'm so glad that we are officially a year away from the next holiday season. Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays, but being married to an only child in an Italian family is very difficult, especially during the holidays when everyone needs to spend time with the boy wonder. Yes, it's all very sweet, and I truly enjoy the company of most of his family, but they are exhausting, and the fact that everyone has to have a party or a get together of their own, and none of them can just plan one big party is so annoying. My whole family gets together on Christmas morning, there's no driving from house to house, we all go to one house, wham bam thank you ma'am, and the whole family is done in one stop. Not so much with his family, we need to go over the river and through the woods, over here, over there, etc, etc.

I had just about lost my mind with exhaustion by Christmas Eve night, which didn't bode well with going to Midnight Mass with his mother, who I'm convinced doesn't really like me. She gave me the hairy eyeball every time I cracked up, which of course happened every three minutes, which in turn cracked CB up. She looked at me as if to say, do I need to put you in the car? Then looked at CB as if in pity that he needed to spend the rest of his life with a woman who would find humor in the house of God, who would find a reason to chuckle at a mass celebrating the birth of Christ. At this point I should probably explain that this is a woman who walked out of the movie Happy Feet because she thought it was too violent. Yes, animated G rated movies rub this woman the wrong way. She is in serious need of a chill pill the size of my foot.

So this post has absolutely nothing to do with Gingerbread, or biscotti it's simply a rant disguised as a recipe post. Enjoy.

1/4 C butter
3/4 C packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 C molasses
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 C finely minced candied ginger (optional)
White chocolate coating (optional) for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl beat together butter and sugar until there are no lumps of sugar. Beat in the eggs, then blend in the molasses. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Blend until smooth. Fold in the almonds (and candied ginger if using).

Divide the dough in half onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Spray your hands generously with nonstick spray (dough will be sticky) and form each half into a log about three or four inches wide and one inch high. Place them two inches apart. Bake dough for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Cool logs for 10 minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut each log into one-half-inch slices. Place the slices cut-side down on baking sheet and return to oven to toast. Remove after 10 minutes and flip all of the cookies over. Toast an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Optional white chocolate coating: Melt coating or white chocolate chips according to package directions. Dip cookies halfway into coating, or use a spoon to drizzle quickly back and forth. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint before the chocolate has set. Let set completely before storing.

Makes 2 th 2 1/2 dozen

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chocolate Pecan White Chocolate Biscotti

A few of the bloggers that I read pretty religiously recently did a joint blogging event where they all made biscotti, they chose one recipe and modified it as they saw fit. I have never made biscotti before, and was always very intimidated by the the fact that you not only had to cook it once, but after it was cooked, you then needed to cook it again.

I can't remember whose blog I ripped this recipe from, but their biscotti was chocolate almond flavored that she had modified from an Epicurious recipe. I wanted to change it a little, so in place of almonds, I used pecans, and in place of bittersweet chocolate chunks I used white chocolate. I am thoroughly impressed by how these came out and I think that I will be making more variants on this recipe in the near future.

2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp b. soda
1 tsp salt
6 Tbs unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 C sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 C roasted chopped pecans (unsalted)
3/4 C white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or butter and flour.

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, b. soda and salt together in a bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter until creamed and very fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well combined. Slowly stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough. Stir in pecans and white chocolate.

Divide dough in half. Form each half into a log about 2 inches wide and lay on prepared sheet. Remold if necessary on sheet and flatten the logs slightly. Bake for 35 minutes or until outside feels firm. Remove sheet from oven but leave oven on. Let logs cool for 15 minutes.

Transfer biscotti to cutting board. Using a serrated knife, gently slice logs diagonally into roughly 1/2 inch slices. Arrange cut biscotti on their side on baking sheet and return to oven for an additional 10 minutes.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Mish Mash Turkey Balls

I needed to make a quick appetizer on Friday night for CB's boss, his boss' wife and his coworker who were meeting at our house before we went out to dinner. Due to the fact that I have been partying like a freakin rock star every night all over the City, (occupational hazard: business development director = lots of drinking and entertaining possible future clients, business development director during holiday season = cirrhosis of the liver, hang overs, dehydration, no food in house to speak of) So about an hour before everyone showed up I turned to the freezer and rummaged through there to find anyuthing that may turn into a palatable appetizer. The ground turkey seemed like the winner out of what was tucked away in the artic temps. I defrosted the meat, then added a hearty amount of panko style bread crumbs, 1 egg, a spat of ketchup, a few shakes of worcestershire sauce, and a little parsley, sea salt, and pepper. Other things may have made it into the bowl, but I can't quite remember - (see: business development description during holiday)

When all ingredients were well incorporated I rolled them into little bite size balls and placed them in a 350 oven for 30 minutes, While still hot I grated parmesan cheese over the top. Everyone kept saying how great they were. That was a relief.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Special Delivery...Artisanal EVOO

Look-ie Here. The other Day Jeff from C for Cooking hooked me up with a special deal from Alejandro & Martin a new website/company selling artisanal extra virgin olive oils. As a promotion and gift for spreading the word about their website and product I received 4 bottles of their 2004-2005 olive oils FREE! I am so excited to be in on this great deal, and many many thanks go to Jeff for including me in his circle of foodie blogger friends.

The box contains bottles of olive oil from Andalusia Spain, Sparta/Corinth Greece, Pisa Tuscany Italy, and Central Coast California.

I cannot wait to read up on the oil and blog about each of them. The oils are broken down into four flavor profiles; Green & Grassy, Olivey & Peppery, Fragrant & Fruity and Mild & Delicate.

Can't you just smell it?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Have you tried ... Bergenost?

I love cheese! When I was little I used to eat so much of it that my nana's favorite thing to say to me was, "if you keep eating all that cheese you'll be bound up tighter than a drum; you won't shit for a week." Well, who cares? I still love cheese, and I still eat a little of it almost every day. I must say though that when I was little all we had in the refrigerator was Land O' Lakes cheese, the white, not the yellow. I've come to think of cheese almost like I think of wine, there is so much out there, I don't think that it's possible for me to know all the different kinds. In order to broaden my cheese knowledge horizons I have taken to buying a cheese that I have never heard of or seen before each time I go to Trader Joe's. This time I chose a creamy Norwegan style butter cheese, Bergenost. Let me just say that this cheese is excellent, it's soft and mild and what's best about it is it's spreadable. It's so soft that you can just spread it on your cracker, or crostini, whatever. It's not just me who thinks that this cheese is amazing, it won the gold medal at the Regional Judging of the New York State Fair Cheese Contest in 1999. Not too shabby.

I have also taken the liberty of looking up the wines that pair best with this cheese, and they are: Cayuga White, Dry Reisling, Semi-dry Reisling, Seyval Blanc, Vingoles and Hunters Red.

If you see this at you local market, give it a try, you won't be dissapointed.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Date-Oat Quick Bread

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my trip to New Orleans this past summer. While I was there I was really taken in by the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of that wonderful little City. I'm so happy to say that I am planning on going back again this summer, and I will be taking CB with me. I love traveling for work, I love the fact that my job gives me the opportunity to experience things that I might not have the chance to do on my own. I had wanted to go to New Orleans for so long, and I am so happy that I finally got the chance to go, and I'm even more psyched that I get to go back again and this time experience it in a different way with CB.

My neighbor from my old condo came over to my house a little while ago to return a pie plate. When she returned the plate, she brought it back heaping and overflowing with dates. I had never once cooked or baked with dates so I was at a loss for what to make with them. A little searching on the internet, and then a perusal through The Guide to U.S. Southern Cuisine yielded this recipe. Now, it's not exactly bourbon pecan bread pudding, but it does have a little of that flavor that I experienced when I went south this summer. Enjoy.

2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup quick rolled oats
1 package (8 ounces) dates, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl; add sugar. Stir in oats and dates. In a separate small bowl, beat egg with milk; stir in melted butter and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and stir until evenly moist.

Pour mixture into a greased 9 X 5 X 3-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center. Once the loaf has cooled, wrap and store overnight for best flavor.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tarte Tartin

This is one of the awesome recipes that I learned while taking my tart class last week. It really is a delicious dessert and actually rather pretty when plated well (note: above pic does not demonstrate pretty plating technique) I've never made this before, so making something completely different than what I am used to was nice. Also, this was my first experience with puff pastry. I would assume that you can make this recipe with pears or peaches or any fruit that will hold it's shape well.

1 10” circle of pastry, short or puff, chilled
½ C sugar
2 tablespoons sweet unsalted butter
2 pounds McIntosh apples, peeled cored and sliced in 1/8” thick slices
Pinch cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400
Melt the butter in a black cast iron fry pan, add the sugar, stirring constantly. Cook until a light golden caramel.

Arrange the apples round side down, with the narrower tips toward the center. Make another ring in the center. Be sure to have the apples snug in the pan. Some may have to be trimmed to fit. If you do trim the tips pile them in the center of the circle to make the center a bit higher.

Place pasrty over the apples and let soften a bit and tuck down between the fruit and the sides of the pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the apples and the pastry are completely cooked.

Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes. Carefully place a large platter over the pan and invert. This is very hot so take proper care. Serve warm with crème fraiche or ice cream.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Corn, Black Bean and Cilantro Salsa

Last night after a quick trip to America's Test Kitchen with Jeff and Stephanie from C for Cooking we headed back to my place for some wine (only the most expensive beaujolais for us, 3 buck chuck) I wanted to see what the taste difference was between the Charles Shaw selling for $2.99 and the popular Le Beaujolais Nouveau from Romanèche-Thorins selling for $10.99 would be. I actually thought that the $3 wine didn't drink like a cheap wine, I actually thought it was rather lovely. I'm also not the type of person who bases the value of a wine on it's price tag - my thought is if you like it, drink it, no matter what the cost.

Stephanie, Jeff's wife is a pescetarian, meaning she doesn't eat animal meat, but does eat seafood. So for our appetizer and wine night I stuck to strictly vegetarian fare. This is a very lively fresh salsa that I made the night before. It is so simple to make, but also the taste is simple and fresh.

1 can black beans drained and rinsed
1 can corn drained and rinsed
1/2 onion diced
1 bunch of cilantro chopped
the juice of one lemon
olive oil to coat

Mix all together. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Artichoke, Caramelized Onion, Feta Bruschetta

One afternoon when CB and I were in Rome we stopped off at a little restaurant just outside of Villa Borghese, this was by far one of the more entertaining lunches we had. CB lived in Rome for a year while he was studying architecture so his Italian came back to him rather quickly after we got to Rome, I had taken six years of Spanish lessons, which helped me learn Italian faster when I started studying it in anticipation of our trip. So, we tried as much as we could to order in Italian whenever we were out at a restaurant or at a coffee shop. It was easy - when we couldn't figure out the words, the server would simply slip from Italian to English without hesitation. As we were sitting outside enjoying the warm weather and waiting for our meal, an older asian couple approached the restaurant and the outdoor tables where we were sitting. When the waiter greeted them, the gentleman of the couple looked at the waiter and in very accented English said "SPAGHETTI" and proceeded to mimic how one would eat spaghetti. One hand holding an imaginary bowl, and the other miming how one might put a fork full of spaghetti into your mouth. I thought it so funny that he would ask a waiter in a restaurant in Rome if he had spaghetti. When the waiter let them know that indeed they had spaghetti on the menu the couple sat down and proceeded to mime everything they wanted, from beer to salad and again with the spaghetti. It was so great to see a couple that didn't know one word of Italian, sit at an Italian restaurant and get exactly the meal they wanted just by acting out the process of eating and drinking what they were craving. Food was really the second language that brought all of us together at that little outdoor cafe that bright sunny Roman afternoon. This bruschetta is what we had as our appetizer that day - so simple and yet so wonderful, like most Roman food.

One small onion, caramelized
1 jar artichoke hearts (in oil) chopped
1/4 C feta cheese crumbled
1 loaf Italian bread cut on a bias and toasted

Mix the artichoke hearts, onion and feta together while the onion is still warm. Let set to meld flavors together. Toast the bread slices. When bread is tosted top with artichoke muixture and serve.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Drivel Goes to School: Tart Class

I spent three hours last night taking a Tart Class, I learned a lot. I even got to hang out with Jeff and his wife Steph, from C for Cooking who were taking a bread class next door. Unfortunately I'm late and running in a million different directions this morning. I'll blog all about it later when I can dedicate the proper time to the post, but above is a picture of one of the tarts that I made last night. Sort of makes you want to lick the screen doesn't it?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cranberry White Chocolate Quick Bead

I bought a big bag of cranberries right before Thanksgiving. I thought that I was going to make something with it for the holiday, but I just never got around to it. I'm glad I didn't, because it afforded me the opportunity to make this awesome sweet and tart bread. I adapted this recipe from a Joy of Baking recipe.

I became interested in cooking with cranberries this summer when I spent a weekend at my aunt's house in Pidgeon Bay. If you are wondering where pidgeon bay is, it is far, far, far, up in bumbfuck Maine. However, the 6 hour ride is worth it because it is just so beautiful up there. When we went it happened to be the height of wild Maine blueberry season, and when walking in my aunt's front yard, which consists of a rocky spread of land leading directly to the water, her whole front yard was covered in blueberry and cranberry vines. I went out in the morning and picked blueberries and cranberries and put them in my cereal. How cool is that.

Many people think that cranberries are grown in water, or in bogs, which is a common misconception. The American Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is a low-growing, vining, woody perennial plant with small, alternate, oval leaves. The plant produces horizontal stems or runners up to 6 feet (2 m) long. Short vertical branches 2 to 8 inches (5 to 20 cm) in height, called uprights, grow from buds on the runners and produce both vegetative and fruit buds. Each fruit bud may contain as many as seven flowers. (The Cranberry Institute (

This particular bread is great - the matching of the tart from the cranberry with the smooth sweet of the white chocolate is a great mixture. Also, it just looks so festive, with it's white and red.

4 cups (460 grams) sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup (200 grams) white granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of one orange or lemon (optional)
1 large
egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) (56 grams) unsalted
butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon pure
vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) milk
1 cup (120 grams) fresh
cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 cup white chocolate chips

Butter, or spray with a nonstick vegetable, a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). (Note: if you are using a dark colored pan reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C).)

In a large bowl whisk together the sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange zest. In a separate bowl whisk together the beaten egg, melted butter, vanilla extract and milk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix in the fruit and nuts. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Wrap in aluminum foil and store for a few days before serving. It can be frozen.

Makes one - 9x5 inch loaf

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chicken Cacciatore

Another Giada recipe. I've actually started watching her more and more since my trip to Rome. I just loved the food so much when I was there, and I want to have those flavors all the time now. This recipe is a bit of a job to make, but it is all worth it. I know that the recipe calls for bone-in chicken, but the next time I make it, I will definitely use boneless chicken, just because it's so much easier to work with and eat chicken when it's boneless.


  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.

In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Caramelized Onion & Mozzarella Crostini

Last night I made chicken cacciatore, it tasted great, I even took a picture of it, and planned on posting about it today, but I forgot my camera at home today, so no camera, no flash card, no images, no chicken cacciatore post. I started looking through the images I had on my computer to see if there were any pictures that I had not blogged about, low and behold (where do you think that term came from?) I had one image that I never blogged about. Mmm Mmmm Mmm I love caramelized onions. So what better way to shove it in my cake hole than to put it on a crostini and cover it with cheese? So I made the caramelized onions by cutting up an onion into long strips and then sautéing the onion in a little butter and olive oil over low heat until the onion releases its sugar and begins to caramelize, usually about 25 minutes. I put the hot onion on a toasted baguette and covered with mozzarella cheese and put in the toaster oven just long enough to melt the cheese. Yum.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mamma Speck's Pumpkin Bread

As God is my witness I will never make pumpkin puree from scratch again. I don't even know why I decided to tackle this task. Maybe it was the sad pumpkin just sitting in my foyer waiting to be tossed out on the street curb on trash day like a figment of Halloween past, or maybe I just had too much extra time on my hands, or maybe, just maybe I'm masochistic and needed some form of torture to put upon myself. Whatever it was, it will never happen again. It sucked. I first took the pumpkin and cut off the top, then cut down the sides of the pumpkin and created manageable pieces for me to scrape clean, peel and cut up. I did this for the whole pumpkin, then placed the pumpkin in a big pot and covered with enough cold water to cover the pumpkin; I then boiled the pumpkin for what seemed like three days, and then drained the pumpkin, cooled it, and then put it in the food processor. From this state I needed to strain it because it was so wet, the straining took forever, and halfway through I decided I had enough pumpkin puree and put the rest of the pumpkin in the garbage disposal. However, I did make this pumpkin bread with the homemade pumpkin puree, which sadly I thought tasted more like zucchini bread than pumpkin bread. Maybe I had the wrong kind of pumpkin, or it was too big, or it just wasn't meant to be, but from now on, it's canned pumpkin for me.

This recipe is from my friend (and former roommate) HL's mother who to this day I don't know her first name, because for the past 6 years I have been calling her Mamma Speck. She would make the best pumpkin bread, and send HL home with a loaf, which I'm sure was meant for HL, but I usually ended eating it and exclaiming with a mouth full of bread..."this is so damn good." HL and I lived together for a few fun filled years, but time passes and things change and our landlord doubled our rent and we couldn't afford to live in our apartment anymore. So we both took that chance and moved in with our boyfriends at the same time, boyfriends, which I am more than happy to say are now our husbands and we are both happily married.

The first year after we moved away from each other I received my very own pumpkin bread in the mail from Mamma Speck with her famous recipe in the package. This is Mamma Specks Pumpkin Bread.

1 1/2 C sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 2/3 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each clove, nutmeg, cinnamon
1/2 C oil
1/2 C water
1 C canned pumpkin
2 eggs

Mix together oil, water, pumpkin and eggs. Combine dry ingredients together then add to wet mixture. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sweet Potato Chips with Parmesan Sprinkles

I had one lonely little sweet potato in the refrigerator on Saturday, and since I was in an experimental mood I decided to see if I could make sweet potato chips out of the potato. I don't have a mandolin, so they didn't come out as good as they would have had they been thinner, but they were still pretty good. I asked for a mandolin for Christmas, so hopefully I'll get it and this recipe will be better next time I make it.

I peeled the potato and cut it into the thinnest pieces I could with just a plane knife, then salt and peppered them and fried them in a shallow pan with olive oil. As soon as I took them out of the oil and placed them on a paper towel I shaved a little parmesan cheese over them so that it melted onto the chips. This was very good.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pumpkin Seed Brittle

A lot of the food blogs that I read on a regular basis featured pumpkin seed brittle last month. I thought this was such a great creation. I took this recipe from Tartelette from her post where she featured it with Burnt Sugar Ice Cream. Her pumpkin seed brittle recipe was from Martha Stewart.

I don't have a candy thermometer, so the creation of this brittle was the result of two trials. The first of which resulted in one extremely scorched pan and enough swearing that CB ran clean across the house into the kitchen thinking that I had caused bodily harm. In the second trial I was determined to not burn the mixture, which led to me not cooking it enough, laying it on the cookie sheet, and waiting for it to cool, only to realize that I had made caramel with pumpkin seeds in it because the mixture would not harden. I called my mom who told me that I needed to get the mixture to "ball state" after some snickering and juvenile remarks about creating a sweet ball state I rolled the caramel like seed mixture into a ball and put it back on the stove top over high heat. I had no expectations at this point considering I was taking the mixture from liquid to solid to liquid state again, but after I got the mixture bubbling hot and dropped a few pieces into a bowl of water, and indeed they did reach the "ball state" I poured the mixture back onto the cookie sheet and within 30 minutes I was breaking the pieces apart and my pumpkin seed brittle was a success. Yes! Note to self, get a damn candy thermometer.

Pumpkin Seed Brittle, from Martha Stewart and Tartelette
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for baking sheet
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 cup fresh pumpkin seeds, rinsed well, dried, and toasted

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter an 11-by-17- inch rimmed baking sheet; set aside.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar and honey. Bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until mixture is medium amber and a candy thermometer registers 280°, about 6 minutes. Stir in pumpkin seeds. Cook until mixture reaches 300°, about 2 minutes. Pour onto prepared baking sheet. Let cool completely. Break into pieces.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spinach and Proscuitto Lasagna Rolls with Bechamel Sauce

First, let me first apologize for not writing all week. I was away the first part of the week at a conference, and then the second part of the week I was forced to play catch up at work for being out of the office. I'm sorry, but the good news is that I don't have to go anywhere this weekend so I can cook all day and night if I want.

Second, let me apologize for not having one single picture of this completed dish. I took some pictures as I was assembling the dish, but once it came out of the oven it was literally devoured and before I knew it there was none left and I hadn't taken a picture. Sorry. But the above picture does a really good job of showing how the lasagna rolls are lined up in the dish over the béchamel sauce, before they are covered with marinara sauce and cheese. I really enjoy this dish, because it is so easy to serve, you simply take one roll or two and put it on the plate, no cutting or trying to maneuver the first piece out.

This is a recipe from Giada's Family Dinners cookbook. I still have no idea how that woman is so skinny.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg

1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1 large egg, beaten to blend
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)

To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the bechamel sauce.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.
Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour the bechamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll. Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the bechamelsauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer.

Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

When I was first planning my wedding I would spend a lot of time on a wedding planning website called The Knot. The website was great for information sharing among people in your geographic region, you could post questions about florists, photographers, tailors, pretty much anything wedding related, and get feedback and advice from local brides and brides to be. I knew that I would get a lot of information about wedding planning from this website, what I didn't know was that three years later I would still be talking to some of these women on a weekly basis. We don't communicate on The Knot anymore, we have our own little MSN group now and we lovingly refer to ourselves as The Beanies, because we were all Beantown brides. I'm not sure how many Beanies are currently in our MSN group, but I'm particularly close with a handful of the girls. With the crazy schedules all of us keep it's hard to get everyone together, but last night some of the girls came to my house, to eat, drink, share stories, and laugh. It was great.

I made my pumpkin soup last night; I've made this soup every year for the past three years, but I made a mistake with it last night. I used 100% pumpkin when I usually use pumpkin pie mix, so it wasn't as sweet and aromatic as it usually is. Had I realized this I would have just added some cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice into the soup, but I forgot. So, I wasn't as happy as I usually am with this soup, but when made correctly it's a real crowd pleaser.

And when you're two bottles or so deep in red wine, do you really taste the difference anyway, Huh?

Creamy Pumpkin Soup
16 oz can pumpkin (100% pumpkin or pie mix depending on if you want it sweet or not)
14 oz can chicken broth
1 large onion diced
2 carrots shredded
2c half and half or evaporated milk
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt

In pot combine broth, onions, carrot, baking soda, salt and pepper. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Add pumpkin and milk/half and half, simmer until hot. Serve.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Caramel Apples That I Totally Didn't Make

I didn't make these. I just feel bad about not posting. I've not been cooking this week, for various reasons. I have a lot of stuff to do, at work, at home, at the gym, etc., this bettering yourself shit can really tire you out. I'm sorry for the melancholy post I just feel like a hamster on a wheel, I'm running my ass off and the scenery isn't changing.

It started on Sunday, which was a beautiful fall day, I stayed at my Nana's house the night before, and woke up early and ran in the crisp cold air, it was great I ran down the main street to the center of town, then took a left and ran back with the river on my right, it was great. It really was an amazing morning, I showered, changed, ate breakfast drank coffee, and then headed outside to rake my Nana's yard. I felt like I was 12 years old again, when I used to rake my Nana's lawn and she would give me $10 so I could go downtown and buy myself something. It was when I was in the middle of raking that I got the call from CB.

He was on his way to come and get me when he was hit by a car that ran a red light. The car hit him in the driver’s side and sent him into a spin in the middle of the intersection. He is ok, thank Christ, he is ok.

But it's at moments like this that your perspective changes, that for split seconds you wonder what your life would be like without the one you love, without the face you wake up to every morning and go to bed to every night. It is also at this point that you become so God damn mad that people can be so oblivious, inconsiderate and self centered. That people get behind a wheel in a car and drive it without considering the consequences of their actions, or inactions. It's very simple, you learn it in grade school Green Means Go; Red Means Stop, Motherfucker.

So now, we are faced with buying a new car, not exactly what we were hoping to do six weeks before Christmas, but here we are. I'm so grateful that CB wasn't hurt, that the only thing that we are dealing with right now is the impending insurance claims, trade-ins, and price haggling, it's ok, because CB was not hurt. It's ok.

This is a picture of the caramel apples at the farm stand when Chris and I went pumpkin and gourd picking at the beginning of the month. I always think that caramel apples are a good idea, until you try to eat them. Then you end up with caramel all over your nose and chin, and usually all over your hands. And if you have fillings, you'll most likely have them ripped from your teeth.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Fettuccine with Butternut and Gorgonzola Sauce

I don't know why it is that no matter how kick ass a pasta recipe is, I can't make it look remotely as appealing in a photograph. This picture does this pasta no justice. I personally thought it was awesome. The combination of butternut squash with gorgonzola was such an interesting pairing that I never tired of the flavor combination. This recipe was featured in this month's issue of Cooking Light however, I would not consider this a "light" dish, it was rather heavy and with a whole container of cheese included in the sauce, I think the editors over at Cooking Light were stretching just a leeetle when they dubbed this "light."

In anycase, it still kicked ass.
Eat up!
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups vertically sliced onion
3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced object
3 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, divided
8 cups hot cooked fettuccine (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, squash, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper; sauté 6 minutes or until the squash is almost tender. Add minced garlic; sauté 1 minute. Cover and set aside.
Bring 2 cups milk to a boil in a saucepan. Combine the remaining 1 cup milk and flour, stirring well with a whisk; gradually add to boiling milk, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup cheese, and stir until smooth.

Combine squash mixture, pasta, and cheese mixture in a large bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon salt; toss well to combine. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup parsley, chopped walnuts, lemon rind, and the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Serve immediately.
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)

CALORIES 429(25% from fat); FAT 11.9g (sat 6.6g,mono 2.2g,poly 2g); PROTEIN 17.6g; CHOLESTEROL 26mg; CALCIUM 299mg; SODIUM 723mg; FIBER 5.4g; IRON 3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 65.5g

Friday, November 03, 2006

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Fresh Mint Leaves

I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast, but I'm like hot butter on your breakfast toast. That's right I kicked complete and total ass in the cookie contest at work. I had four entries, and out of 25 entries my four came in #1, #3, #4, #6. If it wasn't for that stupid bitch with the oatmeal cookies I would have had the trifecta. I'll get her next year. So this is the recipe that scored all the kudos at work. Like I said it is just plain old chocolate chip cookies but with one additional ingredient added to the mix. The special additional ingredient for this cookie was fresh mint leaves. I honestly thought that there was only going to be a hint of mint in each cookie, boy was I wrong, each bite tasted like an Andes candies, it was awesome, it was almost like a girl scout Thin Mint cookie. Seriously, try it. So, like in the post below, just take your regular Nestle Tollhouse CC cookie recipe and then add a big handful of roughly chopped mint leaves and fold in with the chocolate chips. Yummmmm.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Work is having a chocolate chip cookie contest today. The rules of the contest is that you need to use regular chocolate chip cookie batter and then one other added ingredient. No more than one other ingredient is allowed, so you can't add nutmeg and cinnamon becuase that would be two ingredients. I am probably the most competitive person you will ever meet, so unlike most people who made one batch of cookies, I made four, with four different additional ingredients. Be prepared for a lot of chocolate chip cookie posts this week. I actually ended up freezing two of the batters after I had made enough for the competition, because 10 dozen cookies is a little overboard.

So, for this particular cookie I used the Nestle Tollhouse cookie recipe and then added bananas that I had cut up and frozen previously. Freezing the bananas made it possible to keep chunks of banana in the cookies, and not just have the banana melt into the batter.

Monday, October 30, 2006

It's a Freakin' Winta Wonduh-Land

So, I don't have a food post today because CB and I spent the weekend in New Hampshire with HJ and GS. When we planned this trip back in September we assumed that we would do some fall hiking along the Appalachian trail, most likely a 4,000+ vertical climb, which would take about 3.5 hours to complete up and back. When we planned this trip I think we assumed we would be cold and need to dress properly for the elements; I don't think we ever thought we would be hiking though 6 inches of snow - snow which was falling on earth that had been saturated with 3 inches of rain the day before. It was cold, wet, mucky, hard to navigate, but beautiful all the same. It felt like it was December; it served to prepare us for the snow blanketed winter which will be upon us soon. There is just something so serene and beautiful about freshly fallen snow on tree branches; every turn we made along the trail showed us another beautiful snow covered landscape. It was just when you were admiring the beauty of nature that your hiking boot sunk into 4 inches of muck, nearly taking off your boot as you heaved your foot out of the soft wet ground. You know that sound your foot makes as it tries to free itself from the muck and mud, sort of a throoorupf sound? We heard that a lot. So, sorry for the lack of new food posts, but I was a little busy with nature and all this weekend.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Butternut Squash with Brown Butter and Rosemary

I pride myself on being a pretty smart person. I'm a college graduate, I'm well read, I'm up-to-date on local and world news, I have a reasonably large vocabulary; but there are certain things that stump me, that I am really fucking stupid at. These things include; weights, measurements and geography. I can add, divide, do long division, calculus, etc etc, but when it comes to measuring something, I for the life of me cannot read a tape measure.
For example, when CB and I bought our new house we decided to measure all the rooms in order for him to plug everything into CADD so that we could virtually move all the furniture around to see where the couch fit best, and the bed, bureau, etc. and also to see what the dining room would look like painted red before we actually painted it red. So we began measuring every frickin wall in the house, and while measuring the wall in the dining room CB held the end of the measuring tape and I walked along the wall to the end and then stopped and put the but end of the measuring tape up against the wall. He then asked, "what's the length?" my eyes darting about, looking at the tape measure, then looking back at CB, then looking back at the tape measure, beads of sweat beginning to form on my brow, tongue sticking out while I tried to count all the big lines and the little lines then my God trying to figure out what that translated to in inches and distance. I then looked up and said 72 inches and one big line and three little ones after it. This practice didn't last long; it was then that CB really realized when it comes to the school of measuring things I'm on the short bus. If you think this is bad, I'm worse at geography. Seriously. That whole sun setting in the west and shit screws me all up. I have no idea where north is, and even if I did I wouldn't know what the hell was up in the north anyway. Don't ask, I don't know, all I know is when it comes to Trivial Pursuit; I never get the blue pie peice.
Where the hell am I going with this? Well, when I went to the market to get the butternut squash for the risotto recipe (kick ass) I made last week, I needed to get enough squash so that after peeling it and gutting the insides out it weighed 1.5 pounds cut and diced. Needless to say I bought too much because I'm stupid when it comes to these things (see above). Needless to say I've been trying to come up with recipes which will use up the five fucking pounds of butternut squash that I came home with that day. This recipe was easy simple and used up a little bit of the squash that I had left over.
I'll gladly accept all butternut squash recipes - I still have like three pounds I need to use.
Take butternut squash pieces and cook them in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes to soften a little. After, add them to 1 tbsp butter and 1 tsp fresh rosemary which has been cooking a pan for a few minutes. Saute until cooked to your desired consistency. Mmm.
Obviously the amount of butter and rosemary depends on the amount of squash you are cooking. Adjust accordingly.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

Because sometimes you just need to chew your alcohol. Seriously, sometimes you need a drink and a cookie at the same time. This little nugget of heaven is for that time. Say you were on the train and someone pissed you off, maybe they stepped on your foot, or the man in a business suit decided it was more important that he sit instead of the seven month pregnant woman in front of him, or the eighty year old woman beside him. Maybe you've started to ponder what ever happened to chivalry, or better yet, common decency in said public places. Or maybe you don't need an excuse at all. Maybe, just maybe, you're Irish like me, so Bailey's is a suitable substitute for milk just about anywhere, possibly in your cereal, coffee, or cookies.

Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 c. butter1
  • /2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. Bailey's original Irish cream
  • 2 1/4 c. cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 (6 oz.) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. coconut
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans

Cream butter, sugars and egg until fluffy. Add vanilla and Bailey's Irish cream. Mix dry ingredients and blend into creamed mixture. Add coconut, nuts and chips. Drop onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

No Kitty this is My Pot Pie

I was a senior in college when my roomates and I discovered Comedy Central's show South Park. We loved it, we taped it, we watched it everyday, we waited for Wednesday to come so we could see the next new episode. It was the first season, we were never let down, the shows were pure genius, creating a catchphrase in every episode is no easy feat and they did it swimmingly. One such catchphrase, or textual content is as follows:

Cartman - Nooo kitty that's my pot pie!
Kitty - Meow...
Cartman's Mom - Well then I know a certain kitty-kitty who's sleeping with mommy tonight!
Cartman - .......what?

Will you ever look at pot pie the same way again? I think everytime I hear pot pie I think of this. Just like everytime I hear the word dreidel I hear Kyle's voice sing the dreidel song.

1 quart chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders, 2 packages
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
6 white mushrooms, quartered
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 package refrigerated biscuits in tube
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Reserve 2 cups of stock for vegetables. Cut tenders into 1/3's. Bring remaining stock to a boil in skillet, add chicken, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Poach chicken 6 to 8 minutes.

While chicken cooks, in a second large skillet over medium to medium high heat, add oil and butter. To melted butter, add onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms, adding veggies to the pan as you chop them. Add bay leaf and season veggies with thyme, salt and pepper. Saute 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add flour and cook another minute. Whisk in reserved 2 cups of stock forming a sauce around veggies. Stir in cooked chicken pieces, parsley and peas. Transfer the mixture to a large casserole, oval or rectangular. Open the biscuits and arrange them, edges touching, in a layer across the top of the casserole. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until biscuits are golden brown, then serve.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Dip

This is another recipe from the Healthy Cooking magazine that I picked up in the Chicago airport last month (while waiting for hours on end for my plane to arrive.) It's simple and delicious and just screams eat me, which is funny, because sometimes when I get mad, I scream "eat me" too.

It's great.

1 cup (8oz bar) fat free cream cheese
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp all spice (optional)

Cream the cream cheese until smooth, add the powdered sugar slowly until all incorporated. Add the pumpkin, and spices. Mix well. Chill for 1 - 2 hours. Serve with cinnamon pita chips and fresh fruit slices.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Apple Crostata

An Apple A Day

I firmly believe that eating right, getting lots of exercise and getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night is the veritable fountain of youth. As some of you may know I used to be fat. I'm not going to pussyfoot around the subject, I was fat. I was extremely unhappy and most of the unhappiness in my life stemmed from the fact that I was not okay with who I was; with the body that I was carrying myself around in. This unhappiness led to bad, horrible relationships; relationships where because I hated myself, I thought it was perfectly acceptable for people to treat me like shit, to take advantage of me, to abuse me, to make me feel as bad about the me on the inside as I felt about the me on the outside.

I guess you could say one day I just woke up. It's as simple as that. One day I just had had enough, I realized that happiness doesn't come from the acceptance or judgment of others. It comes from being the best person you can be; from respecting yourself and the body that God gave you, with all of it's amazing possibilities. This is when I decided to push my body, to see what was lying dormant within me. This is pretty much when I decided to become a healthy person, a marathon runner, an advocate for treating your body like a machine that needs to be fueled, not like an animal that needs to be fed.

Just last week I got the news that the doctor found two lumps in my Nana's breast. My Nana is 82. We will help her go through the process of needle biopsies, lumpectomies and if need be chemotherapy and radiation. Since I decided to change my life, and respect my body I have thanked God for legs that run, lungs that breathe and muscles that recover by running and biking for certain causes. My first two marathons I raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society honoring my friend's mother who had been diagnosed a few years earlier. Two years ago as my friend battled brain cancer I biked in his honor to help raise money for the Brain Tumor Society. This year it seems as if my body will most likely walk; it will most likely walk for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Society. I say; if you are blessed with good health, do something good with it.

This may not seem like the kind of recipe someone who complains about once being fat should be making, but an apple a day does keep the doctor away and this is a pretty fun way to eat that apple.

This is one of Giada's recipes, like I said; the bitch can cook, or better yet, bake.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt1
  • 0 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons ice water


  • 2 small Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • 1 Pippin apple, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon of water (for egg wash)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

To make the crust: Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a processor. Add the butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the ice water and pulse until moist clumps form. Gather the dough into a ball; flatten into a disk. (If the dough still crumbles and does not form into a ball, add another tablespoon of ice water.) Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

For the filling: Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the apples, 1/4 cup of sugar, and lemon juice in large bowl; toss gently to blend. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, dust a large sheet of parchment paper with flour and roll out the dough on the paper to an 11-inch round. Transfer the dough on the parchment paper to a heavy large baking sheet. Spoon the apple mixture over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the dough border over the filling to form an 8-inch round, leaving the apples exposed in the center. Pleat loosely and pinch the dough to seal any cracks. Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake the crostata until the crust is golden and the apples are tender, about 40 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack; cool for 10 minutes. Slide a metal spatula under the crust to free the crostata from the baking sheet. Cool the crostata to lukewarm. Sprinkle with the almonds and serve.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Butternut Squash and Pancetta Risotto - YUM!

So, the next time you're at home wondering what to make for dinner. MAKE THIS! Dear God make this recipe, it is so damn good. Yes, it takes a little bit of time to make, but this, this is worth waiting for. Have you ever seen Hell's Kitchen? This is that guy's recipe, the original recipe calls for pumpkin instead of butternut squash, but I didn't feel like giving a pumpkin a proctology exam and pulling all its guts out, so I just used squash and the recipe still KICKED ASS.

Pumpkin and Pancetta Risotto
Recipe courtesy Gordon Ramsay's A Chef for All Seasons

Ingredients1/3 cup chopped pancetta
2 to 2 1/2 cups light chicken stock
2 large shallots, chopped
1 pound pumpkin flesh, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Scant 1 cup risotto (Carnaroli, Arborio, or Vialone Nano)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons mascarpone
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a dry non-stick frying pan and, when hot, fry the pancetta until browned and crisp. Drain and set aside. Heat the stock to a gentle simmer in a saucepan. In a large saucepan, gently sauté the shallots and pumpkin in the oil for about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook for a further 2 minutes to toast the grains. Pour in the wine and cook until reduced right down.

Now pour in one-fourth of the stock and stir well. Cook gently until the liquid has been absorbed,then stir in another ladleful of stock. Continue cooking and stirring, gradually adding the stock,until the rice grains are just tender and the risotto is creamy. The whole process should take about15 minutes. About 2 minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the pancetta, mascarpone, and half the Parmesan.

Check the seasoning, then serve in warm bowls, sprinkled with the remaining Parmesan.


Monday, October 16, 2006

On The Road Again

I'm on the road again traveling for work. I'll be back Thursday will an amazing risotto recipe. It's worth the wait. Until Thursday, take care.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Paprika Pork

Remember how a few weeks back I raved about a little book that I bought for $5 at Brookline Booksmith titled 101 Simple Suppers? Well, I'm raving again, this recipe is also from that book and yes, it was simple and delicious.

Our friendly neighbor across the hall took care of our cat V and all my potted herbs while CB and I were in Rome, so last night we had him over for dinner as a thank you. This meal came together in about 20 minutes, but you let it simmer for over 30 minutes, so it takes about an hour to make in total. I've never cooked pork before, so I'm pretty proud of my first attempt.

2 tbsp olive oil
3 onions thinly sliced
1lb 5oz boneless pork
2 tbsp paprika
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
4oz sour cream
freshly chopped parsley to garnish.

  1. Heat oil in the pan, add the onions and saute on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened and lightly colored.
  2. Cut the pork into bite size pieces, add to the pan and stir over a fairly high heat to sear and brown all over. Stir in the paprika, cook briefly, then add the stock and bring to a boil.
  3. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 30-35 minutes until the pork is tender. Stir in the sour cream and simmer 2 more minutes. Sprinkle the parsley over the pork, the serve with rice and a green vegetable, (I had peas).

Per Serving: 357 calories, protien 36.5g, carbs 11.3g, fat 18.7g, saturated fat 7.6g, fiber 1.3g

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Window Shopping, Roman Style

I don't think, in all my days I'll be able to express what this trip meant to me. It was amazing, and exhausting, and filled with sites and sounds and smells and tastes I have never experienced before and can only pray I experience again. It was the kind of trip that changes you. It was the kind of trip that will come back to you on a lazy afternoon when you smell basil and tomatoes wafting from a kitchen window. The kind of trip that will come back to you when you smell incense drifting out from church doors. The kind of trip that comes back to when you hold a sip of red wine in your mouth and savor the tannin flavor. It will be the kind of trip that sneaks up on you and fills you with memory when you least expect it.

Rome is a dichotomy in terms. It's ancient and modern at the same time. Its a slow stroll down a cobblestone street and a speeding blur of lights all at the same time. Its locals sipping coffee at bars with tourists clamoring about. Its neighbors speaking in Italian too fast to understand and tourists speaking in Italian too fumbled to comprehend. Its truly amazing in every sense; all senses.

I understand why Rome lures people back time and again. I can only hope I'll be back some day.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Ciao! I’m off to Rome

I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than by traveling and experiencing something new with the person that you have vowed to experience everything with for the rest of your life.

I mean isn’t that what marriage is; experiencing things together, discovering things about each other and yourself together, pushing your boundaries together, doing things together that you wouldn’t have the guts to do alone, constantly discovering together?

Two years ago today I was anxious and nervous. I was nervous about the kind of wife I would be. Could I give everything to a marriage and still retain the fierce independence that stokes the fire of my being everyday. Could I take on the responsibility of someone else’s happiness; could I make him happy? Would making him happy make me happy?

Two years ago today I stood outside the church waiting for the music to queue me to walk down the aisle. As the doors to church opened and the music played and the people stood in anticipation, there you were, at the end of the aisle. I saw you and all the fears and doubts I had on the other side of the door were gone; this wasn’t about me, it was about us. From now on I had a partner someone to make the laughter louder, the tears less salty, the hard times not so hard, and the good times all the better.

Two years seems to have gone by too quickly, but the best part is we have each other forever and that seems like a good amount of time.

Happy Second Babe.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Eggs and Crab in a Basket

Sometimes you just need breakfast for dinner. Last night was one of those nights. I had seen the hearty boys make a recipe similar to this a few weeks ago and was looking for an excuse to make it. That excuse presented itself when I realized that I had a dozen eggs that needed to be used before my trip next week. Viola - an excuse for breakfast at dinner time.

1 tbsp butter
melted 12 wonton squares
6 oz lump crab meat
6 large eggs
6 slices smoked gouda cheese (or whatever cheese you want)
Salt and pepper (I also put fresh chives in between the layers)

Preheat oven to 375Brush the muffin cups with butter and line each with 1 wonton square. Brush the squares with more butter and place the second wonton on top of the first at an angle so that all of the points show. Divide the crab among the muffin cups. Place a piece of cheese on top of the crab and sprinkle some chives on top as well. Break 1 egg into each muffin cup. Sprinkle chives on top and salt and pepper.

Place in the bottom half of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the egg white is firm but yolk still liquid. Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes before carefully removing the baskets from the tin.

I got distracted and let the eggs sit in the oven a bit too long, so my yolks were not runny, as I would have liked them to be, next time I will pay closer attention and get runny yolks.