Tag Archives: Garlic

{ Pasta Puttanesca }

Pasta Puttanesca with Grated Parmesan Cheese

After having dinner at La Stalla (read post below), I met up with my girlfriend Jennifer to go out and celebrate St. Patty’s Day in the typical fashion of chugging Irish Car Bombs and drinking pints of green beer! And since Jen and I are always looking for an excuse to dress up themed (cowboy hats to country concerts, Santa hats at Christmas time, ect…), we used St. Patty’s Day as an excuse to rob party city of everything green and sparkly. In major cities, where there are large celebrations for St. Patty’s Day, girls decked out in green apparel like this are the norm. However, we found out that in small rural towns (such as the one we live in), people are not as crazed about drinking holidays and don’t feel the need to get dressed up…at all. I didn’t even see people wearing green tee shirts! That being said, you can imagine just how much Jen and I stuck out in the crowd with our glitter green top hats! We got dirty looks from girls who wanted the attention, and free drinks from the boys giving us the attention. Long story short, our St. Patty’s Day shot glass necklaces were rarely hanging from our necks and certainly put to use, and we ended up requiring a ride home (top-of-the-morning to you dad!) after just two short hours at the bar.

Once we got home, I went scavenging for food and was bitterly disappointed that I had no leftover Puttanesca from dinner. Nothing other than more Puttanesca was going to satisfy drunk-food craving and so I set about to make my own from scratch (much to my mother’s dismay when she say the stove in the morning, with dried linguini caked onto the burners). I make this Puttanesca dish pretty frequently, because it is super easy and relatively inexpensive.

Puttanesca means “food of the whores” in Italian, because it was a staple dish among the poor made with cheap ingredients commonly stocked in the pantry. I choose to make my Puttanesca without anchovies, although they are commonly used in traditional Puttanesca dishes and can be added to my recipe. Tonight, I modified by recipe slightly by adding mushrooms and substituting arugala with baby spinach based on what I had available in my house. The dish turned out incredible, and certainly hit the spot.

If you want a little bit of protein, feel free to add some sliced chicken breast over top the dish! Otherwise, serve hot with Pecorino cheese and enjoy.

{ Ingredients }

  • 8 ounces linguini pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup pitted Spanish kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like spice)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh arugala (or baby spinach)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

{ To Make the PastaBring a large pot of water to a boil, and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add pasta and cook according to directions on package.

While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the parsley, olives, capers, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes to skillet and sautee for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and juices and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in arugala (or baby spinach) and simmer for 1 minute more, until the greens wilt slightly.

When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the skillet, combining with sauce. Top with grated cheese and additional red pepper flakes for spice.

**Tip: Do not rinse the pasta after draining it because the sauce does not stick as well to the noodle. The starch is necessary and binding so do not rinse it off.

Tossing the Linguini in with the Puttanesca Sauce

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Lemon-Herb Roasted Turkey *****

I can officially do anything.

This is the exact thought that ran through my mind as I pulled my perfectly roasted 16-pound turkey out of the oven today. Of course I’m exaggerating slightly—I don’t think that I can solve poverty in India, or bring peace between North and South Korea (or North Korea and the rest of the world for that matter) but in terms of the culinary world, I have conquered my biggest fear and feel ready to take on any challenge.

I decided to take on the daunting task of cooking “the bird” because I simply got too impatient to wait another week for thanksgiving food. Once Starbucks starts playing Christmas music and Sarah Lee pumpkin pies hit the shelves at the supermarkets, my internal clock starts counting down for turkey and stuffing. So I sent out a facebook message to 13 of my girlfriends inviting them over for a potluck style thanksgiving meal before we all went home for break. I had each of them sign up to bring a side dish and agreed to make the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and stuffing myself. Obviously, everyone was down for this epic feast and so the night before the dinner I found myself face-to-face with an enormous 16 pound turkey. (For the first time ever, I actually asked for assistance to my vehicle at the supermarket). I put “the bird” in the sink, took off the plastic wrap, and then just stared at it in sheer panic…I didn’t even know where to begin. So naturally, I got on the phone and called my mom. She walked me through removing the giblets (reminiscent of my 7th grade frog dissection) and then told me to stuff it with whatever herbs and veggies I wanted. She recommended not to do stuffing as that greatly increases the cook time (especially for a turkey as big as mine) and also because it can cause a health issue if the stuffing absorbs any bacteria from the raw turkey meat. So I kept it simple and stuffed my turkey with sage, rosemary, Spanish onion, garlic, celery, and lemon. Then I made a nice lemon herb butter to drizzle on top so that the outside would get golden and crispy (recipe follows). I tied the legs together with some twine, brushed on the butter sauce, and covered it in foil before putting it in the fridge for the night.

Then today, I woke up and gave my roommate, Ariana, the cooking instructions for the turkey because I had to go to work. I told her to pre-heat the oven to 350° and put the turkey still covered in foil into the oven. I told her to do this at 1:00 so that it could cook for some time before I got home from work at 5 O’clock. When I turned on my phone at 5 O’clock, I received a text from Ariana saying:

“I couldn’t get the turkey in until 2:30, but its in the oven now and don’t worry….I took the foil off!”

Now I love Ariana to death, so I couldn’t get mad at her, but you can only imagine how fast I ran home from work. I just kept imagining my turkey black and smoking, completely inedible, and the chance of my apartment burning down. Well when I finally got home and saw my oven smoking, I thought the worst of my fears were a reality, but I managed to salvage the situation. I took the turkey out, scraped off the top burnt layer, recovered it in foil, and then put it back in on a lower heat. I let it keep cooking until 6:30, and then took off the foil and let it cook for another 30 minutes uncovered. When I pulled it out of the oven at 7 O’clock, it miraculously looked picture perfect. I couldn’t even believe it. I then let it sit for an hour and a half (covered) on the counter while I cooked the rest of my side dishes.

Now they say not to judge a book by its cover, so I didn’t have my hopes up yet (even though it looked pretty incredible). But when I popped a little piece of that warm turkey into my mouth, I was amazed that it tasted even better than it looked. I couldn’t have asked for a better first turkey experience!! And I couldn’t have asked for any greater people to share it with either. I am proud to say that we ate all of the turkey with the exception of maybe ½ pound of meat…which I happily ate the following day for lunch.

Turkey Stuffing Ingredients:

  • 1 large Spanish onion quartered
  • 1 cloves from an entire head of garlic, peeled
  • 1 lemon quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 stalks of celery with leaves cut into thirds
  • Bundle of sage leaves tied with twine
  • Bundle of thyme leaves tied with twine
  • Couple sprigs of rosemary

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Remove the giblets from the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out, patting dry when finished. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan and then liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the cavity with the bunches of thyme, rosemary, and sage, the quartered lemon, celery, quartered onion, and the garlic cloves.  Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture (recipe below) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.

Roast the turkey about 21 minutes per pound of meat, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. I liked letting mine cook for the last 30 minutes uncovered so that the outside browned and crisped up.

Remove the turkey from the oven and cover with aluminum foil, let stand for at least 30 minutes, or up till serving time. (Hint: the longer the turkey sits, the more the flavors develop and the juicier it is….but don’t let it sit at room temperature too long or bacteria can develop).

Slice the turkey and serve.

Ingredients Lemon Herb Butter:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves

Directions:

In a medium sauce pan, melt the stick of butter. Then whisk in the zest and juice of one lemon and the chopped thyme leaves. Remove from heat and brush on turkey.

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{ Tomato Basil Bruschetta }

Today was a fabulous day that ended with a fabulous dinner–as all truly fabulous days must! (I am certain that the quality and quantity of food that I consume in a day and my respective mood are positively correlated). Anyways, tonight my friend, Brooks, hosted a family-style Italian dinner. No, Brooks is not Italian (he is Brazilian) but yes, he is one of the best damn cooks I have encountered and therefore he can cook anything well–including meatballs and gravy! My little home-maker instincts kicked in earlier this afternoon, and I decided I would make bruschetta to bring as an appetizer…plus, my mom always said, “never go to a dinner party empty handed!” So I ran out to the store and bought bruschetta supplies….12 Roma Plum tomatoes, a package of cherry tomatoes, a bulb of garlic, and some basil. Then I came back home and set about making my mouth-watering creation. I did not follow a recipe to make this but I am going to give the approximate portions of everything that I used, so that you can make it and so I can replicate it again!
It was a huge hit and sadly there was none left totake home, but I’m glad everyone enjoyed it. I served it on diagonally sliced tuscan bread, which I first toasted in the oven on 350 degrees with a little drizzle of olive oil and oregano. I then generously topped each piece with the tomato mixture and garnished with basil leaves! For anyone who loves the tomatoes at Vilaggio (and who doesn’t?), these come out tasting practically the same!

{ Ingredients }

  • 12 roma plum tomatoes
  • 1 package of grape tomatoes
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green onions
  • 10-15 basil leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
{ To Make BrushettaHalve all of the grape tomatoes and place in large mixing bowl. Cut an X into the top of each plum tomato and then bring a medium sauce pan of water to a boil. Add the tomatoes 2-3 at a time for one minute each and then remove from water and peel back the skins. Cut off the tops and remove seeds, chopping into small pieces.
Add these pieces to the mixing bowl of grape tomatoes. Repeat until all of the plum tomatoes have been done. Chop the green onions and basil, and mince the garlic gloves, adding all ingredients to mixing bowl. Then add the olive oil and vinegar and a few generous sprinkles of Kosher salt. Mix well to coat all tomatoes. Allow to sit and then serve on toasted bread!
But let me also mention the delicious main course that took place tonight. Brooks was head chef (as he should be in his own kitchen) and I enjoyed playing sous chef for a change! The menu included a Baked Brie Bread Bowla Mixed Green Salad with Petit Tomatoes and Red Onion tossed in Homemade Dijon Vinaigrette, Spaghetti with Gravy, and Homemade Meatballs! Ohhh, and i forgot about the Brownie Sundaes for dessert. Talk about a feast….
The meatballs were unreal. I am Italian and I think my mom makes the best meatballs ever, but these were a close rival and they were incredible. Plus, Brooks made them in a cupcake pan, and I tend to love anything that comes out of a cupcake pan so I was instantly happy. Here is a photo of the meatballs, just after coming out of the oven….

Meatballs Post Oven

You can see the fat drippings in the bottom of the pan, which is abundant considering that Brooks uses a combination of Veal, Beef, and Italian sausage to make his meatballs….plenty of fat there. After he spoons out each little masterpiece from the pan he pours the drippings into his pot of gravy, which instantly thickens the tomato sauce. He then places each of the meatballs into the pot of gravy and allows them to finish slow cooking amid the tomatoes for another 20 or 30 minutes. The sauce absorbs the flavor of the meat, and the meat absorbs the moisture and acidity of the sauce….it’s a beautiful marriage a meatball and gravy!
The salad was simple but the homemade dijon dressing really took it to another level. It was very similar to the much coveted secret sauce from La Sandwicherie!! (see post) and the bite of the dijon mustard with the greens was great. Here is a look at my beautiful plate of food…

Spaghetti with Meatball topped with Ricotta and Parmesan Cheeses

As you can see, we finished off the meatball with a scoop of ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese shavings!!! WOW! Even “Big Nick”–clearly fully Italian–approved of Brooks creation, despite his former doubts. So delicious.
Now for my little confession….and I’m praying that no one from the dinner party reads this (although I secretly hope that some of them follow my blog!). As sous chef, I was in charge of cooking out the pasta. And believe me, I can cook out a perfectly salted and al dente pasta in my sleep. I know how to cook pasta like people know how to spell their name….it is just a part of me…second nature. Anyways, I salt the water with the large salt container, add the pasta, and start to cook. But, when I taste the pasta it isn’t salty! So naturally, I add more salt. A few minutes later I taste the pasta and it almost tastes sweet. I can’t believe it, so I reach for the salt one last time and realize that it is actually a container of sugar. His sugar container looks just like my salt container at home. So instead of salting the pasta, I have been coating it in sugar water. Before I start to panic, I reach for the morton’s and begin a generous pour just hoping that the salt will mask the sugar. Thankfully, it did and no one noticed. I couldn’t even taste the problem myself! Anyways, funny little secret that no one knows…..yet, at least!

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{ Roman-Style Chicken Fettuccine }

Roman-Style Chicken Fettuccine with Parmesan and Basil

(Adapted from Giada De Laurentis)

All week my mother has been pestering me to cook dinner for the family. She knows how often I cook for my boyfriend in Miami, and she gets jealous that I don’t cook as often here at home. Whatshe doesn’t seem to realize is that she is the reason I don’t cook at home. Why should I have any motivation to make a meal when she makes some of the most incredible food that I have ever tasted? If she was serving up Kraft Mac&Cheese every night, I might be more inclined to offer up my culinary services. But when her idea of a Greek dinner includes Kafta, tabouli, hummus, tahini sauce, cucumber salad, tzatziki, and fresh pita all made from scratch…well, I just step aside and play taste tester. However, tonight I was in the mood to cook and so I decided to make one of my favorite pasta dishes, which is Roman-Style Chicken Fettuccini. I got the original recipe from Giada De Laurentis, but I made many of my own modifications to simplify the recipe without compromising the flavor (the recipe below is my version). This dish is incredible and tastes even better on the second day, so if you are making it for company then I would make it the night before. It is very similar in flavor to a chicken cacciatore, but without all the time and work. I don’t like working with chicken on the bone so I used chicken breasts in my version, but for extra flavor you could use a couple of chicken thighs, as the original recipe calls for. If you are eating this the same day that you make it, one of my favorite aspects of this meal is that it is so quick yet tastes like it has been cooking for hours. Everyone can’t help but love this dish, so definitely try it….it’s one of my all time favorites.

Ingredients }

  • 1 ¼ pound chicken (I use chicken breasts)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons capers

{ To Make the PastaSeason the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is ot, cook the chicken until golden on both sides; about 4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Keeping the same pan over medium heat, add the prosciutto and the peppers and cook until the prosciutto is crisp and the peppers browned (about 5 minutes). Then add the garlic and continue to cook for an additional minute, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the wine, and herbs, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Shred the chicken using two forks, and return the shredded chicken to the pan. Then add the chicken stock and capers and bring mixture to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Serve over fettuccini pasta and sprinkle with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.

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{ Linguine All’Amatriciana }

Linguine All'Amatriciana

When I come home from college, I bring my appetite because my mom is truly a fabulous cook. She is the one who really got me interested in cooking and food in the first place…I mean lets face it, serious “foodies” are not the kind of people who were raised on SpaghettiOs and Ramen Noodle Soup. In fact, I had never even tasted jarred tomato sauce until college!! My mom always cooked gourmet meals when I was growing up and so she taught me to appreciate the flavors of fresh herbs and vegetables at an early age, which slowly developed into a passion as I got older.

Although I love all of my mom’s food, I love her pasta dishes the most! Tonight, her and I cooked out a box of linguine and made a trio of pasta sauces to have a little Italian pasta sampling of sorts! I made my Pesto recipe (which I have blogged about), and my mom made an impromptu Walnut Sage Sauce (which I will blog about) and an Amatriciana Sauce (which I am blogging about). This Amatriciana sauce is an excellent and easy red sauce to make for any kind of pasta, even though I prefer it with linguine. The pancetta gives a great hearty depth of flavor to the sauce and the San Marzano tomatoes are so sweet and delicious. It is really important that you spend the extra $1.50 and buy the San Marzano tomatoes for this dish, because other brands do not taste the same. There isn’t too much more to say about this simple sauce other than that it is delicious, so enjoy!

Ohhh, there is just one more thing that makes this sauce even better…it freezes really well! So if you set some aside before tossing in the pasta, you can put it in the freezer and enjoy it a couple weeks later!

{ Ingredients }

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces Pancetta (cut into small bits)
  • 1 ½ large Spanish onions (diced)
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 (28-Ounce) cans San Marzano tomatoes, passed through the food mill

**Seeds make the sauce bitter

  • 1 pound linguine
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for garnish

{ To Make the PastaCoat a large saucepan with oil and allow pancetta to cook over low heat until brown and crispy. Remove and set aside the pancetta and then increase saucepan to medium heat, adding the onions and crushed red pepper. Season generously with kosher salt, to taste. Cook onions until they are translucent and turning golden. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 1 hour, tasting periodically. Adjust the salt, as needed.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water (should be as salty as the Dead Sea) to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook al dente (about 1 minute less than the instructions on package call for). Then drain the pasta and add it directly to the pan of sauce. DO NOT rinse the pasta because then the sauce will not adhere to it!! Stir to coat the pasta with sauce, then add in the cheese and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toss to coat and serve with additional shaved Parmesan and fresh chopped basil!

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{ Pesto }

Linguini with Pesto

Over the past two years I have both made and tried several different pestorecipes. However, being a college student on a budget, I could only make pesto when I had enough money to buy the outrageously expensive pine nuts (ohh how I dreaded buying the pignolis!!). But as my mom always says, “budgeting inspires creativity,” and sure enough I found a substitute for pine nuts….WALNUTS!! Same great taste, quarter of the price! This recipe, which is my own, uses equal parts of pine nuts and walnuts, giving the dish a greater depth of flavor and making it more affordable. I use this sauce on everything…pasta, grilled chicken, roasted veggies, sandwiches, and even as a salad dressing (equal parts pesto and balsamic vinegar). If you’re using it over pasta, add more olive oil (between a cup and a quarter to a cup and a half) so that the sauce is thinner, and when using it as a spread on sandwiches only add about a cup of oil so it is thicker.

Buen Provecho!

{ Ingredients }

  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 4 cups packed basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup good extra virgin olive oil –Possibly 1 ½ if you like your pesto thinner

{ To Make PastaPlace the walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade. Process for about 30 seconds and then ass the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. While the food processor is running, slowly pour the amount of desired olive oil through the feed tube into the bowl and process until the pesto is pureed. Then add the Parmesan and pulse for one minute. Serve or store in fridge!

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