Today I made the glaze for the ribs after removing the last of the fat from my collected drippings.
To my concentrated drippings I added the rest of my cheap balsamic vinegar (yes, cheap, only suitable as a marinade and for concentrating). And an equal part of water with 2 cups of dark brown sugar and proceeded to further concentrate the glaze.
After a couple of hours I had a thick vinegary sauce.
I also whipped up the dressing for my cole slaw that I’m planning to make on Saturday morning, since it is always better if you make it a day in advance. The dressing is very simple; I prefer a vinegar base to a creamy sauce. Sugar, vinegars (white wine, red wine, apple cider, and raspberry because I ran out of the red), and oil go into the blender.
This will keep in the fridge easily.
We’ve also been trying to minimize other food in the fridge, so have been keeping dinners simple this week: M-pizza, T-brats, W-sushi, and my hubby suggested cold cuts for dinner and my grad has friends over so I whipped up my version of Italian subs. It is fresh baguette, olive oil, olive tapenade, Prosciutto, hot capicola, peppered salami, fresh mozzarella, and basil.
One of the reasons I like to watch food TV is for inspiration. About a month ago my husband and I were watching an Italian themed Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives; one of the items they showed was a prosciutto pasta roll. I have tried to find that show to link it to no avail. The recipe looked good but slightly bland. It was simmered cream on the bottom of a baking dish and then lasagna noodles rolled up with sliced prosciutto and fontina. And then cream poured over the top, sprinkled with Parmesan and baked. You can tell from my description that something was missing.
I scribbled some notes immediately and finally got around to trying it.
Rather than just cream, I melted butter with 2 cloves of minced garlic until it was very fragrant. Then I added the cream and brought it to a simmer.
When I made my original notes I wrote that it would need either nutmeg or crushed red pepper; smelling the bubbling cream, I quickly decided on freshly ground nutmeg along with a bit of tomato paste.
After a few more minutes of simmering I put a little in the bottom of the baking dish and set aside the rest.
I had set out a couple of square dishes to soak the pasta sheets. Once they were soft I layered each with Boar’s Head prosciutto piccolo (a more cost effective option since I used a pound), shredded fontina (I started with sliced based on the show and quickly decided that shredded was better), and sliced basil.
Then I rolled them up and cut them into ~1½” chunks and placed them in the baking dish.
When the pan was full, I poured the remainder of the sauce over the top and generously sprinkled the entire dish with Parmesan.
I baked it at 400F on convection bake for 20 minutes. Although I was worried that it would be dry, the result was perfect and delicious.
1 pound fresh egg pasta dough, or lasagna sheets, softened
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 clove garlic, minced
1½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon tomato paste
⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg
salt & pepper
1 pound prosciutto, sliced very thin
1 pound fontina, shredded
¼-½ cup basil leaves, sliced
Parmesan cheese, grated, for topping
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the cream and bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce the sauce a bit, about 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and the nutmeg; stir to incorporate. Continue cooking the sauce until it is the consistency of buttermilk, about 2 minutes. Spread a small amount in each baking dish. Set the remainder of the sauce aside.
To form the pasta roses:
On each pasta sheet, layer prosciutto, fontina, and basil, then roll the sheet up like a jelly roll and cut into sections, ~1½-2″ wide. Set in a single or individual baking dishes.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Pour the remaining sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a light brown crust forms on top. Remove from the oven; let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
That’s what I decided to call them anyway, Pumpkin Ravioli with sage butter. My husband’s parents have been taking care of some family matters and as a result missed Thanksgiving with us (I know it was really hard to resist the garage turkey). They arrived back so I decided to do a special Sunday dinner and try to make something that I had not attempted before. As you know from my posts it is fairly recent that I have attempted and tackled homemade pasta. For several years I have been considering a recipe that I found at Williams-Sonoma, that also just happens to be in the pasta cookbook I received last Christmas: Pumpkin Ravioli.
In additition to being inspired by the recipe, I have had a ravioli form since we got married that I had not used. As intimidated as I was by pasta, I was equally intimidated by a filled pasta.
To go with the ravioli I decided on chicken apple sausage and roasted Brussels sprouts. It was a busy day with an early morning game and lots of shoveling so I was thankful to my boys who both helped in the kitchen. While my elder son shredded a chicken for the following night’s dinner my younger son cleaned the sprouts and I got to make the pasta dough.
The pasta recipe is from the same cookbook as the ravioli, and for efficiency I use the food processor.
Flour and salt:
Add the oil to the eggs and then pour them into the bowl of the processor.
And then mix, using the pulse function, adding flour as needed until it holds together but isn’t sticky.
Once it comes together, knead it for 10 minutes on your bread board until you have a smooth dough. Then let it rest.
If you have gotten out all of your ingredients ahead of time, there is enough time to put together the filling while the dough rests. Alternatively, you could make ahead of time and keep it chilled.
While the recipe calls for 1 small pumpkin (~1 lb.), I opted to use my frozen pumpkin (canned would be fine too).
I had a single container with 2 cups of pumpkin that I mixed with the egg yolk. (I had leftover pasta that I would have preferred to use so please look at my notes on how to adjust accordingly.)
And then I mixed in the rest.
Always better to grind whole nutmeg!
By that time my dough was ready to start rolling. I sat the layers aside between sheets of floured parchment under a damp towel until the dough was all rolled out.
To fill the pasta, I began by flouring the form.
Then 1 sheet goes on the bottom piece (with the holes) and then you press gently with the top piece to make the pockets for filling. Then fill each spot with about 1 teaspoon of filling. To make sure each ravioli seals well, brush the edges of each with a pastry brush and cool water.
Lay a second sheet over the top, gently lifting the edges and pressing to ensure no air bubbles are trapped. The use the small rolling pin to seal them firmly and cut the edges.
Firmly tap them out onto a floured parchment lined baking sheet(s). Refrigerate until you are ready to cook them or freeze them.
I clarified my butter and started roasting the Brussel sprouts before starting my water.
I also started browning some chicken-apple sausages that I sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon.
When the sprouts and sausages were done, I made the sage butter and boiled the pasta.
Dinner is served! With a wonderful salad from my MIL.
Egg Pasta for Baked and Stuffed Pastas
Entrées, Not Shared, Pastas, Tested and Approved!
Source Williams-Sonoma | The Pasta Book, by Julia della Croce (Weldon Owen, 2010)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose or “00” flour (see notes), plus more as needed
½ tsp., scant, fine sea salt
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. olive oil
To make the dough by hand, measure the flour onto a work surface, mix in the salt and shape the flour into a mound. Using your fingertips, make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the center of the well and add the olive oil. Using a fork, beat until the eggs and oil are blended, making sure the liquid does not breach the walls of the well.
Using the fork, gradually draw the flour from the sides of the well into the egg mixture and beat gently, always in the same direction, to combine the flour with the liquid. Secure the wall of the well with your other hand until the liquid has absorbed enough flour that it will not flow over the wall.
When the mixture is too stiff to use the fork, begin using both hands, gradually drawing in the flour from the bottom of the wall, until you have a soft, moist, but not sticky ball of dough. If the dough will not absorb more flour without becoming stiff, do not use it all. If it is too soft, add more flour, a spoonful at a time. Clean the work surface, dust it lightly with flour and flatten the ball of dough into a disk.
To make the dough with a food processor, fit a food processor with the metal blade. Add all but 1/2 cup of the flour and the salt to the work bowl and pulse to mix. You will use the reserved 1/2 cup flour later to adjust the consistency of the dough.
Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and remove any stray shells. Add the olive oil; there is no need to stir. Pour the eggs and oil into the work bowl. Process until the flour is evenly moistened and crumbly, about 10 seconds. Test the dough by pinching it; if it is very sticky, add more flour, 1 Tbs. at a time, processing until it is incorporated. After about 30 seconds total, the dough should come together in a loose ball and feel moist but not sticky.
Dust a clean work surface with flour. Remove the ball of dough from the food processor and place it in the center of the floured surface. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a disk.
For both methods: Using the heel of your hand, push the dough down and away from you, fold it in half back toward you, rotate a quarter turn and repeat the kneading motion. After about 10 minutes, the dough should be smooth and elastic.
Shape the dough into a ball, cover with an overturned bowl and let rest for 15 minutes before you roll it out. The gluten in the flour will relax, making the dough easier to roll. Do not let it rest longer or it will be too dry. Makes 1¼ lb. dough.
Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Butter
Entrées, Not Shared, Pastas, Tested and Approved!
Makes 6 ∙ Source Williams-Sonoma The Pasta Book, by Julia della Croce (Weldon Owen, 2010)
2 cups cooked pumpkin (from a ~1 lb. Cheese or Sugar Pie pumpkin, calabaza or butternut squash, seeds and strings removed)
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or grana padano cheese
1 Tbs. ricotta
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
1 to 2 Tbs. dried bread crumbs
1¼ lb. egg pasta
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, clarified (see tip below)
12 large fresh sage leaves
2 Tbs. kosher salt
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving
Transfer the pumpkin puree to a bowl. Add the egg yolk, cheeses, nutmeg and sea salt. Mix well, adding the bread crumbs as needed to bind the ingredients into a cohesive mixture. Cover the filling and set aside.
Using a pasta machine or a floured rolling pin, roll out the pasta dough 1/32 inch thick, then fill and cut the ravioli.
Pour the clarified butter into a small fry pan and place over low heat. Add the sage leaves and heat until the butter is saturated with the flavor of the sage, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
In a large pot over high heat, bring 5 quarts water to a rapid boil. Add the kosher salt, gently drop in half of the ravioli and cover the pot. When the water returns to a boil, uncover and cook, stirring gently occasionally and reducing the heat as needed to prevent the ravioli from knocking against one another and breaking. The total cooking time should be 3 to 5 minutes. To test for doneness, transfer a single raviolo to a cutting board and cut off a corner with a paring knife; if the pasta looks cooked through and the corner tastes tender, the pasta is done. Using a large slotted spoon, lift out the ravioli, allowing a little of the water to cling to them so they remain moist, and transfer to a warmed large, shallow serving bowl; cover the bowl to keep the ravioli warm. Repeat to cook the remaining ravioli.
Drizzle the sage butter over the ravioli and serve immediately. Pass the cheese at the table. Serves 6.
Serves 6 with no leftovers (~8-9 ravioli per person); I recommend a double batch of pasta and a triple batch of the pumpkin filling when making pumpkin ravioli so there are leftovers or ravioli to freeze.
I have talked before about making pasta sauce, using fresh tomatoes is one of my favorites. On Labor Day after an enjoyable weekend with friends at their cottage, I did my shopping. It was very nice to sit in the sun by the water and make my list. By the time I got home it was close to 4 and then 5 to get back from the grocery. Thankfully pasta is quick.
One of the items I picked up was a pound of pancetta which I had sliced thick and diced when I got home.
I also had several tomatoes, some from the farmers market and some from my neighbor.
I started my pasta water boiling and used it to blanch my tomatoes so that they would be easy to peel.
While they cooled, I prepped my other ingredients.
I started by browning the pancetta, until nice and crispy.
While it browned I chopped my onion and Kalamata olives, and I peeled my tomatoes (making sure to stir the pancetta occasionally.)
When the pancetta was done I set it aside on paper towels to drain and proceeded to slowly cook the onion.
Meanwhile I opened my can of tomato paste, peeled my garlic, and coarsely chopped the peeled tomatoes.
When the onions were done I added the garlic and the pepper flakes.
Once they were fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes, I added the tomato paste and the chopped olives to the pan.
When the tomato paste began to darken I added the red wine vinegar and the chopped tomatoes, and then brought them to a boil. And then reduced it to a simmer and covered it up so that the tomatoes would fall apart.
Part of my inspiration was the basil I keep in my flower bed which is growing out of hand. I cut several sprigs so that I would have one cup of chopped leaves.
I also got out my remaining ingredients, and boiled my pasta.
In the meantime my sauce had thickened.
I added the pasta, Parmesan, pancetta, and basil to the sauce and stirred.
With a little extra cheese on top and fresh bread with butter, dinner was served.
Fusilli with Fresh Tomato and Olive Sauce
Beef and Lamb, Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!
Prep 15 mins ∙ Cook 45 mins ∙ Makes 6 ∙ Source Bon Appétit | August 1999
In a large pot (suitable for the pasta) bring about 6 quarts of water to a boil. Cut a very shallow “X” (try to just cut the skin) in each tomato and then immerse in the boiling water for ~1 minute. Remove from the water with a sloted spoon and allow to cool until safe to touch. Peel the tomatoes, coarsely chop, and set aside. .
Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. (If using meatballs or pancetta, brown, remove from pan with a slotted spoon, and set aside to drain; remove excess oil.)
Add onion and heat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Then add garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Stir in olives and tomato paste then continue cooking for a few minutes longer. Add tomatoes and vinegar, season to taste with ground pepper, then simmer unil tomatoes have fallen apart, at least 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions.
Stir the cooked pasta into the sauce toss with 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese, (meatballs or pancetta if using), and fresh basil then toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper (NO salt with pancetta). Serve with remaining Parmesan cheese.
Stirring in the basil at the end keeps it fresh and green in your dish.
My son says that these words do not go together. Pie is sweet dessert and spaghetti is savory dinner, but he’s learned to trust me and ate it anyway.
I mentioned to my husband that I had been seeing a lot of baked pastas in springform pans lately and that I really wanted to try one. He reads about food almost as much as I do and came across this recipe on another blog (smittenkitten.com). The Romano and black pepper with a touch of greens sold me on the dish.
As always, it is always helpful to gather all of your ingredients before you get started. One of the things you will see in this picture is my pasta, I have recently take to making sure that I use good Italian pasta (if I’m not making it); the instructions are all in Italian, but the flavor is worth it. Of course certain shortcuts are fine – my market sells some of their cheeses shredded for the same per pound price.
As the recipe instructs the broccoli rabe goes into the pasta water first; you can see I use a pasta pan which allows me to remove the broccoli without dumping the water.
I wrapped it all in a white rag and wrung it thoroughly to remove all of the water before I tossed it in a small food processor to mince it.
I had my eggs and milk ready and mixed in the cheese and broccoli rabe as instructed, followed by the pasta.
Once well mixed, it went into the wrapped springform and I topped it with the remaining broccoli rabe and cheeses.
Coming out of the oven the smell was wonderful and the look was beautiful.
It easily came out of the springform pan and I served it with a Caesar salad and Italian sausage that I braised in white wine.
Spaghetti Pie with Pecorino and Black Pepper
Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!
Source Smittenkitchen.com – NOTE: I have only made minor edits to her recipe and the following is in large part her text – Enjoy!
½ pound broccoli rabe, chopped into few-inch segments (discard tough stems)
Heat oven to 425°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and this is very important, wrap the outside of the springform, focusing on the places where the ring meets the base, tightly in aluminum foil. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe to the pot and boil for 1 to 2 minutes, until it has some give. Fish it out with a large slotted spoon and drain it well. Set aside.
Add spaghetti to boiling water and cook until 2 minutes shy of done, so very al dente, as the spaghetti will continue cooking in the oven. Drain well and let cool slightly.
Wring all extra moisture out of the broccoli rabe and blot greens on paper towels to be extra careful. Mince rabe into very small bits. You’ll have about 1 cup total.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs and milk together with salt and pepper. Stir in all but 1/2 cup of each cheese and chopped rabe. Add spaghetti and toss to coat.
Pour into prepared springform and sprinkle remaining broccoli rabe and cheese on top. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and a knife inserted into the center of the pie and turned slightly will not release any loose egg batter into the center. If the top of your pie browns too quickly before the center is set, cover it with foil for the remaining cooking time.
Turn on your oven’s broiler. Broil the pie a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until browned on top. Cut along springform ring to loosen, then remove ring. Run a spatula underneath the pie to loosen the base and slide onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges.
A few important cooking notes:
You must wrap your springform tightly in foil or you and your oven floor will end up in a very bad mood.
ONLY cook your pasta until it’s two minutes from done as it will continue cooking in the oven
Remove every extra drop of moisture from the broccoli rabe or it will take very long to set.
Good aged pecorino makes all the difference here in providing a salty, funky kick. You can use parmesan if it’s all you’ve got, but you might find that you need more salt if you do.
Tomorrow we are headed off to a potluck for the holiday, I think we’re at over 17 people so I doubled my recipe for pasta salad. This is one of the first recipes I got from my MIL and I still love it even as my palette has changed.
I always start with the pasta so that it has time to cool. I do put a little bit of the dressing on it to make sure it doesn’t stick while it cools.
Then I move onto the veggies.
Again, stirring in a little more dressing after each addition.
If I only make a single batch I use pepperoni; this is the only meat in the dish so when I increase in scale I triple the meat and normally mix in dry salami with the pepperoni.
I really like the fresh mozzarella in the salad, but it sticks together (still easier than chopping).
And then the salad supreme and more dressing.
After that I let it set overnight in the fridge and adjust the dressing and salad supreme before serving.
Salads, Tested and Approved!
Prep 1 hr ∙ Makes 8-10 ∙ Difficulty Easy
1 lb. rotini pasta, cooked
1 lb cheese tortellini, cooked
1-2 heads of broccoli, cut into bite-size flowerets
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size flowerets
1 lb. mozzarella, cubed or fresh “pearl” size
6-8 oz pepperoni (and/or dry salami), diced
1 bottle italian dressing
½-1 bottle Salad Supreme
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, preferably 1 day before serving.
This past week, both of my son’s lacrosse games interfered with karate, so I wanted to ensure that I had some time for myself to practice on my own. I selected a meal that would require minimal effort, and with snow flurries randomly appearing through the day I also wanted to stay inside – it’s May this is crazy!
Roasted chicken is certainly one of the easist meals to make, while it can be as simple as salt, pepper, and butter, I selected one with artichokes and lemon and updated it with some cremini mushrooms.
As usual, my first task was dessert, Strawberry Pazzo Cake With Herbed Crème Fraîche. The topping is best if you let the rosemary meld with the Crème Fraîche for at least 4 hours in the fridge; the sugar is the other ingredient for the topping, but it isn’t used until you whip it.
Mix it all together and let it chill in the fridge.
And then onto the dinner drink – my husband made sangria.
I hope you’re fans of my favorite school, but if not you are forgiven. The ingredients we show here are more suggestions than. Any sort of a fixed recipe. I don’t think it’s ever the same…
We always strain the juice when adding it to the pitcher on top of the sliced fruit.
Some simple syrup and cranberry juice add some sweetness. (We do normally make our own simple syrup; I really wanted a margarita on Cinco de Mayo and he said he didn’t have time).
Everything goes into the pitcher, and again, this is best if you prepare it at least a few hours in advance.
Final, after my practice I moved onto dinner. The first thing to make is the Gremolata (in layman’s terms: lemon garlic herb butter) and for that I had softened my butter earlier.
Note the pictures have double what the ingredients call for in the recipe below; I am using the extra chicken to make sandwiches later in the week.
This is my standard tool for zesting a lemon, the important thing is not to get the white pith, which is bitter, in your zest. The garlic and the zest go on top of the butter.
And then it was time to clean and chop the parsley and add it to the butter mix.
Add salt and pepper.
To really flavor a chicken, it is good to get your mix above and below the skin; for best results dry the skin with paper towels. I placed both chickens in my large cast iron skillet.
For the butter that will go on the chicken, I put it in a separate bowl so that I could repeatedly stick my hands in it and not get any of us sick.
And then I thoroughly salted and peppered the skin.
I used canned artichoke hearts which need to be rinsed well, and I cut them in half.
I surrounded the chicken with the artichoke hearts and set it in the oven.
I also prepped the cremini mushrooms and the rest of the parsley to add later.
Back to dessert…I cleaned and halved a pound of strawberries.
As with many cakes, you first mix the dry ingredients.
And cream soft butter with two kinds of sugar.
And then add the wet ingredients.
Finally, mix in the dry ingredients.
The batter is poured into the pan and then you press the halved strawberries down into the batter and then it goes into the oven.
While it baked, I prepped my asparagus and basted the chicken.
With only 20 minutes left on the chicken, I added the mushrooms and the parsley and stirred them into the artichokes.
As it continued to cook, I made the balsamic glaze for the cake; still simple, it has three ingredients boiled together.
And immediately after the cake comes out of the oven, 2/3 of the glaze goes directly onto the cake (do not over bake it!).
Time for dinner and a glass of the sangria. Serve over ice (especially in the summer).
My mother-in-law made another beautiful salad.
And dinner is served.
Just before serving dessert I whipped the Rosemary crème fraîche with a heaping teaspoon of sugar. It. Will still be very thick, just beat it to stiff peaks to avoid making butter. To serve, drizzle with the remaining glaze.
Roast Chicken with Artichokes and Gremolata Butter
½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, chopped, divided
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 4-5 pound chicken
1½-2 cans artichoke hearts, halved
8 oz. cremini mushrooms
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix butter, ¼ cup chopped parsley, lemon peel, and pressed garlic in small bowl to blend. Season butter mixture with salt and pepper.
Place chicken on heavy large rimmed baking sheet; pat dry with paper towels. Gently slide hand under chicken breast skin to loosen from meat. Spread 2 tablespoons seasoned butter under skin and 1 tablespoon over chicken; sprinkle skin with salt and pepper. Arrange artichokes around chicken and transfer to oven; roast chicken 40 minutes, basting halfway through.
Add mushrooms and ¼ cup parsley to artichokes around chicken; baste with drippings. Continue roasting until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180°F, about 25 minutes longer. Remove chicken to a cutting board for carving and stir in remaining butter and lemon juice into the artichokes and mushrooms. Carve chicken and top artichoke mushroom mix.
Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts, Tested and Approved!
Makes Serves 8 ∙ Difficulty Hard ∙ Source Epicurious | June 2013
1¾ cups Crème Fraîche
1 Tbsp rosemary, freshly minced
1-2 tsp. suar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the pan
1½ cups all purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp coarse sea salt, preferably gray salt
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, fresh, hulled and halved
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
4 tsp granulated sugar
black pepper, a few grinds of fresh
For the Crème Fraîche:
Stir together the crème fraîche and the herbs. Refrigerate and let sit for 30 minutes or overnight.
For the Cake:
Butter a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or 8-by-8-inch enameled cast-iron baking pan (if cooking in the grill) or standard 8-by-8-inch baking pan (if baking in your oven). (Don’t put a standard baking pan inside your grill or over a fire.) Ignite the coals, turn a gas grill to high, or preheat an oven to 350°F.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars on medium speed until the mixture looks creamy, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix just until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until smooth with a creamy texture.
Pour the batter into the buttered pan. Arrange the strawberry halves, cut-side down, on top of the cake batter. Don’t overlap the berries; use just enough strawberries for one layer and set aside the rest to use as garnish
TO BAKE IN A GRILL: When the grill reaches 350°F, slide in the cake, resting the pan on the grill rack, close the grill’s lid and let it bake for at least 20 minutes with the grill lid closed. Test the cake: It’s done when a skewer inserted into the center (but not in a strawberry) comes out clean and the cake is golden brown on top.
TO BAKE IN AN OVEN: Bake for 10 minutes and then decrease the heat to 325°F and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes. The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the center (but not in a strawberry) comes out clean and the cake is golden brown on top.
For the Glaze: While the cake is baking, in a small pan combine the balsamic vinegar, sugar, and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat and remove from the heat right away. Set it aside until the cake has baked. It should be the consistency of maple syrup; if it thickens too much before the cake comes out of the oven, stir in a few more spoonfuls of vinegar. As soon as the cake comes off the heat, drizzle the top with about two-thirds of the balsamic glaze.
Whip the Crème Fraîche with the sugar, making sure not to over beat.
When the cake has cooled, cut it into wedges if baked in a skillet; if baked in a standard baking pan, cut it into squares. Drizzle more balsamic glaze over the cake if you like. Top the cake with a spoonful of Herbed Crème Fraîche. Spoon any remaining crème fraîche into a bowl and set on a platter with leftover halved strawberries to pass so guests can add extra if they like.
Once again, I considered writing up Sunday dinner, but I have to go to a specialty shop to find tamarind paste, so I thought it would be a better option to talk about the other meal that I made this weekend. While most of us are familiar with making sandwiches the night before for school lunches, it’s good to know that there are some sandwiches that get better if you make them in advance instead of just soggy.
During soccer and lacrosse seasons we thrive on sandwiches that can be prepped in advance in some way. This particular sandwich is one that is better if you make it the day before and it is equally good served cold and room temperature.
The ingredients are fairly simple, and for a shortcut you can purchase an artichoke tapenade in addition to the olive tapenade or you can make your own olive tapenade for a complete home-made taste.
On Sunday, I mixed it up a bit based on what I had onhand. I started with the artichoke spread.
The ingredients are chopped in order and then mixed well together in a bowl. And the olive tapenade; I made a few extra sandwiches so I mixed Kat Kora’s tapenade with my own. (My tapenade is a mix of olives (some garlic-stuffed), a sun dried tomato, basil, oregano, and red-wine vinegar.)
And then I sliced the fresh mozzarella; it’s best to let it drain.
From here I moved to sandwich prep. I used rolls that were ~4×4″ today, but I’ve also used small loaves and large loaves.
Each of these gets about a ½ cup of the artichoke spread.
Which is topped with mozzarella.
And then salami and the olive tapenade (~2T.).
And the best part, I wrap them in Saran wrap and eat them later. My husband and I split one, but the boys eat a whole sandwich after all of their activities. They pack well in coolers and are truly best the next day.
Artichoke, Fresh Mozzarella, And Salami Sandwiches
Entrées, Sandwiches, Tested and Approved!
Makes 4 sandwiches ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Bon Appétit | August 2003
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, packed in EVOO, chopped, drained (oil reserved)
3/8 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/8 cup Romano cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup basil, freshly chopped (large bunch – this is the quantity of chopped basil)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, from tomatoes
4 ciabatta rolls, split in half lengthwise
12-16 ounces fresh mozzarella, water packed, drained, sliced
8 ounces peppered salami, thinly sliced
8 Tbsp olive tapenade (green or black), (Kat Kora’s is good!)
Chop artichoke hearts and tomatoes with oil in food processor; transfer to bowl. In same processor bowl, chop basil, then add to artichoke mixture. Mix in cheeses. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide artichoke mixture among bottom halves of rolls. Top with cheese, then salami. Spread top half of each roll with 2 tablespoons tapenade. Place atop salami. Press sandwiches lightly to compact and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate sandwiches at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.
I considered writing up Sunday dinner; it was really good, but I think it’s important that everyone know how to prepare a spaghetti sauce from scratch as I did this evening. I was recently discussing this with a friend who is switching to a lower salt diet, I suggested to her how to make a basic tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes.
I don’t use a recipe for sauce, I just tend to start cooking. The basics are of course garlic and tomatoes – where you go from there is up to you.
For tonight’s dinner I also picked up some fresh sweet Italian sausage that I started on the stovetop, with a simmer in red wine and water, once the water was mostly reduced I put the whole pan in the oven to brown up the sausages.
While they were simmering I started my sauce. I decided on a kicked up vodka sauce based on the ingredients I had on hand. In addition to the garlic, I included dried porcini mushrooms, proscuitto, and a shallot.
I always start my olive oil first, and make sure it’s hot (shimmering, but not smoking) before I add any ingredients. I typically start with garlic but bacon, or in this case proscuitto, comes first.
And then the garlic with a healthy dose of pepper flakes (I ended up adding more) followed by the shallots and mushrooms.
Once those had a yummy scent I added crushed tomatoes.
And vodka (4 oz. per 28 oz. can of tomatoes). And after a quick stir I let it simmer. Ultimately, I stirred in cream (2 oz. per 28 oz. can of tomatoes) and Parmesan into the sauce, made penne pasta, sliced up the sausages, and stirred it all together with the sauce (adding just as much as needed/desired).
Dinner is served, I have lunches for the week, and extra sauce for another use. With a Caesar salad and a glass of wine – perfect.
My kids are weird, not a terrible surprise their parents are weird too. What I’m referring to in this case is that they eat everything…really.
Several years ago we went to Disney World and stayed at Old Key West Resort, although I can’t remember their exact ages they were young, instead of ordering from the kids’ menu we allowed them to pick an entrée and split it. One evening we dined at Olivia’s which is the resort restaurant and the boys selected Penne Pasta with Asiago Cheese with shrimp. They insisted that we try it and they indeed had selected well, it was delicious. It was one of the first meals that I decided I could recreate at home. The menus were paper, I made a few notes, folded it up and brought it home where it earned a space in my cookbooks.
I made it, it tasted exactly the same and was an immediate hit. But our tastes have changed over the years and the last time I made it, well over a year ago, it seemed bland and it fell off of the radar. On Sunday, I was doing my weekly planning and my older son mentioned that it had been a really long time since I had made Olivia’s Pasta. I consented and opened the recipe:
Today I implemented my plan, I would make it, but it wouldn’t be the same, it would be better, and with a bit of warmth. I removed the tails from my shrimp and set them in the strainer to dry. I went outside and clipped some fresh parsley and basil, then pressed 5 enormous cloves of garlic into a cold skillet. I poured some of the olive oil from my sun-dried tomatoes into the skillet and drained the rest of the oil.
While the water for the penne came to a boil, I chopped my ingredients and seasoned the shrimp with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Just as I threw in the pasta, I heated up the garlic and oil while stirring to make sure it didn’t burn, as soon as it was fragrant I threw in the shrimp. Once it was about ½-cooked, I added the sun-dried tomatoes and most of the fresh herbs and continued cooking until the shrimp was close to done. I tossed the spinach on top and covered the skillet for about a minute to start the wilting. I then stirred in the spinach. At that point the pasta was just finished and I poured it into the bowl and topped it with shrimp mixture and the remainder of the fresh herbs.
I stirred it all together with the asiago and served it with my favorite Italian white, Fazi Battaglia Verdiccio.
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained and julienned, reserve oil
1 Tbsp. basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1½ cups asiago cheese, freshly grated, divided
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
While cooking pasta…
2. Season shrimp with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
3. Heat 2-3T. of olive oil from tomatoes with minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, add shrimp and continue to sauté until turning pink (will not be completely cooked at this point.
4. Add sun-dried tomatoes and most of the basil and parsley, continue to sauté until shrimp is just cooked.
5. Add spinach, cover for about 1 minutes and then stir until it just begins to wilt.
6. In a large bowl combine pasta, shrimp mixture, and asiago cheese.
7. Serve with Parmesean.
If using dried herbs instead of fresh, add in with the shrimp.