Dinner for One

It’s been a long time since I prepared a dinner for only myself, in this typically busy house it’s more common to cook for extras. Today was an oddity, my eldest is off with his friends for the week enjoy the last bit of summer before they head in their separate directions, my youngest had an opportunity to go out with friends, and my husband is at a work event.

We had a busy weekend after arriving back from vacation, and today was actually my first full trip to the grocery store so I tossed my original plan for dinner and picked myself up something simple.


I chopped up my tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives, then brushed the naan with the oil from the marinated tomatoes and mozzarella.


I decided to cook on my grill pan over medium high heat, and after turning the bread I topped it with the tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives, along with my fresh basil and torn prosciutto.

    

At the end, I sprinkled it with cracked pepper and some pepper flakes and enjoyed it with my wine.


Perfect.

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Grad Party – Part 3

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.


Prosciutto Pasta Rolls

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. 



Baked Prosciutto Roll-ups

Paprika Recipe File

Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Source Shannon Stacey (inspired by Triple D)

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

DIRECTIONS

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.

Christmas Dinner

Merry Christmas to you and yours! I hope you had a wonderful day and dinner. 

Or Happy Holidays if you don’t celebrate Christmas, but are enjoying other festivities. 

As you likely know from reading my blog, I strongly believe that all food should be good and good food is real food. I try to hit an even higher standard for Christmas Eve dinner and this year I decided on individual Beef Wellingtons. It’s not something I have made before. 

I looked at several recipes for inspiration and ended using the recipe at the bottom. The ingredients are simple even though the taste is complex. 

Since I wanted them to be sized as individual portions I had to start with filet mignon, which you can buy at the meat counter for $18-25/lb. depending on the current market. I cannot fathom this price so I start with the whole tenderloin and trim it well then cut my own steaks. At $9/lb. the effort is worth it. 

I like my steak lean, but the most important part is removing the tendon. Overall, I ended up with 6 steaks (4-6 oz. each), three bags of extra steak (1 lb. each) including a chateaubriand that can be a small roast later, and only ½ lb. of scraps. I also had ~4 oz. of small pieces that I used to make the red wine sauce. 

    

  

I kept the steaks in the fridge overnight; no wrap needed.

I also started dessert, a Martha Stewart recipe, on the eve of Christmas Eve by making the sponge cakes. The ingredients were incredibly simple.

Any time you make a cake, it’s always best to prep the pans first.

With this recipe the butter was a close second, as it needed to be melted and cooled.

From there, I sifted my dry ingredients, and then beat the eggs and sugar. 

  
  

When they were very light I folded in the dry ingredients, followed by the butter. 

  

Baking them was very quick – 6 minutes.

   

On Christmas Eve, I returned to the steaks first, very quickly searing them in batches on high heat, then they went back in the fridge.

  

Then I washed and chopped my mushrooms, mostly baby bellas with a few wild mushrooms mixed in. 

    

All of the mushrooms went into a large skillet with oil, a few sprigs of thyme, and a healthy helping of fresh ground pepper to make the duxelle. (I love new words!) After a few minutes they release their moisture then dry and begin to brown. 

  

  

  

The next step of the beef was to set their shape. I laid out 6 pieces of Saran Wrap, each with 2 slices of Prosciutto, and then spread the Prosciutto with the duxelle, evenly divided. 

  

After seasoning the beef with salt and pepper I placed each one on a piece of Saran Wrap and folded, then tightly sealed them, and then returned them to the fridge. 

  

  

I returned to the cake by making the filling, again an easy set of ingredients. I started by separating my eggs. 

  

The mascarpone, powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt go right on top of the yolks, and then the mix is beaten until thick and creamy. 

  

The egg whites are whipped with a dash of salt and then folded into the chocolate mix. 

  
 

Each of the two cakes are cut into 3 equally sized rectangles. Place one on your serving tray and brush it with brandy and spread about a cup of the filling evenly over it. 

  

Continue in this manner until you reach the top layer, ending with a brandy-brushed cake layer. This goes into the fridge too.

  

I have prepared brussel sprouts fairly frequently lately so I won’t bore you with the details. At this point I was simply cleaning them. 

  

And then I made the glaze for the cake: chocolate and hot cream. 

  

  

I also cleaned and seasoned my redskins while the chocolate melted. 

    

  

Once the chocolate was melted, I whisked it to smooth and then glazed the cake. 

  

About an hour before I wanted to serve dinner, I put the potatoes in the oven and started the red wine sauce (aka, gravy) I used the trimmings I mentioned earlier, a few more sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf, several peppercorns, and 3 sliced shallots. 

  

When the shallots were golden I added in a splash of red wine vinegar, let it reduce to almost dry and then add 2 cups of wine. I brought the wine to a boil and then simmered it until it was reduced to about ½ cup. 

  

Then I wrapped my beef in puff pastry, I recommend an 8-9″ square per filet, and only 2 per sheet – yes you will have some scrap, but they won’t be too thin at the end. I brushed the edges and the tops with an egg wash. 

  

  

  

  

At this point (about 30 minutes before dinner) the wine was reduced and I added in the broth to reduce again, ultimately to  about 1 cup. And I put the brussel sprouts in the oven. I roasted them with crispy red onions, salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. 

  

  

At 15 minutes before dinner, I put the steaks in the oven and strained the gravy. I returned most the gravy to the pan. I kept ~¼ cup into which I whisked about 1 teaspoon of corn starch and then whisked this into the rest of the gravy and returned it to a boil to thicken it. Take the beef, and everything else out of the oven when the internal temp of the beef is 135F (assuming you appreciate medium rare).

  

  

Dinner is served. 







Beef Wellington

Paprika Recipe File

Beef and Lamb, Christmas, Entrées, Season, Tested and Approved!

Makes Serves 6 ∙ Difficulty Hard ∙ Source Inspired by Gordon Ramsey

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 filet mignon steaks (4-6 oz. each)
  • Olive oil
  • 1½ lb. mushrooms, mixed
  • 4-6 thyme sprigs
  • 3 sheets puff pastry
  • 12 slices prosciutto
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the red wine sauce:

  • Olive oil
  • 4-6 oz. beef trimmings
  • 3 large shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ~4-6 thyme sprigs
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 15 oz. beef stock
  • 1 tsp. corn starch

DIRECTIONS

Quickly sear the beef in a hot pan with a little olive oil for 30-60 seconds until browned all over and very rare in the middle. Remove from the pan and leave to cool, then return to the fridge.

Finely chop the mushrooms and fry in a hot pan with a little olive oil, the thyme sprigs, and pepper. When the mushrooms begin to release their juices, continue to cook over a high heat for about 10-15 minutes until all the excess moisture has evaporated and you are left with a mushroom paste just beginning to brown (known as a duxelle). Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.

Lay 6 squares of saran wrap on a work surface and arrange 2 slices of prosciutto on each, slightly overlapping. With a palette knife, spread the mushroom paste over the prosciutto. Season each filet with salt and pepper then place one in the middle of each square. Neatly wrap the proscuitto and mushrooms, then the saran wrap around the beef to form a tight package. Chill for at least 30 minutes to allow the beef to keep its shape.

Cut each sheet of pastry in half, place on a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle large enough to envelop one of the beef fillets (~8-9″ square).

Remove the saran wrap from the beef, brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash, then wrap the pastry around each filet. Brush the outside with the egg wash. Allow to rest for at leat 15 minutes before baking, if more than 30 chill in the fridge.

Meanwhile, make the red wine sauce. Heat the oil in a large pan, then fry the beef trimmings for a few minutes until browned on all sides. Stir in the shallots with the peppercorns, bay leaf, and thyme then continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the shallots turn golden brown.

Pour in the vinegar and let it bubble for a few minutes until almost dry. Then add the wine and boil until reduced to ~½ cup. Add the stock and bring to the boil again. Lower the heat and simmer gently until reduced to ~1½ cups. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve. Check for seasoning and return to the pan, reserve ¼ cup and whisk in the corn starch. Whisk the reserved liquid back into the pan and bring to a boil until the sauce reaches the desired consistency, then set aside.

When you are ready to cook the beef wellingtons, score the pastry lightly then bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and cooked. The internal temperature should be 135°F for medium rare. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve the beef wellingtons, with the sauce as an accompaniment.
Glazed Chocolate Layer Cake

Paprika Recipe File

Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts

Prep 45 mins ∙ Cook 55 mins ∙ Makes Servings: 10 ∙ Source Marthastewart.com

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CAKE

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for baking pans
  • Coarse salt
  • 5 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

FOR THE FILLING AND GLAZE

  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • Chocolate Glaze

DIRECTIONS

Make cake: Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Coat two 10 1/2-by-15 1/2-inch jelly-roll baking pans with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a bowl, whisk together flour and teaspoon salt.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs, yolks, and sugar on medium-high, 2 minutes; increase speed to high and beat until pale and thick, 5 minutes. Sift flour mixture over egg mixture; with a large rubber spatula, fold together until almost blended. Pour butter down side of bowl, folding to combine. Divide batter between pans; smooth with a table knife. Immediately transfer pans to oven and bake until cakes are golden brown and springy when pressed, 6 to 7 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Let cool completely.

Make filling: In a large bowl, stir together egg yolks, mascarpone, sugar, cocoa, and pinch of salt. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and pinch of salt until soft peaks form. With a large rubber spatula, fold one-third whites into mascarpone mixture; fold in remainder.

Invert cakes onto a work surface and gently peel off parchment. Using a serrated knife, trim cakes to measure 10 by 15 inches, then cut each crosswise into thirds. Place 1 cake layer, golden side up, on a platter; brush with brandy and spread with 1 cup filling. Repeat with remaining cake, brandy, and filling, ending with a layer of brandy-brushed cake. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Make Chocolate Glaze. Pour over top of cake and spread so it drips down sides (or spread along sides). Cover and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
Chocolate Glaze

Paprika Recipe File 

Makes 1 1/4 cups ∙ Source Marthastewart.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS

Place bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream over medium-high; when bubbling around edge, pour over chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes, then whisk until shiny and smooth.

Italian Panini

I thought I had already posted this recipe, but a quick skim reveals that I am incorrect. 

This was originally just a concept that my husband had last September; we loaded up a loaf of Pugilese bread from our local market and a sandwich was born. 

We wrote it up:

Italian Panini

Entrées, Sandwiches, Tested and Approved!

Prep 30 mins ∙ Cook 30 mins ∙ Makes 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 loaf Italian pugliese bread, cut in thirds (laterally), reserve middle third for another use
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Sage, fresh, coarsely chopped
  • ½ lb. Provolone
  • ½ lb. Capicola
  • ½ lb. Peppered salami
  • 8 oz. Sun dried tomatoes, drained, sliced, oil reserved
  • 8 oz. Roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 8 oz. Mozzarella, shredded
  • Basil, fresh
  • Arrabbiata dipping sauce

DIRECTIONS

Drizzle the bottom half of the bread with olive oil (from the tomatoes), sprinkle with sea salt and sage. Layered with provolone, capicola, provelone, peppered salami, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, red peppers, fresh basil, and more mozzarella.

Cook for 20 minutes on low in a panini press and then wrap in foil and cook at 300°F for 10 minutes.

Cut into 6 wedges and dip in the warm arrabbiata sauce.

NOTES

The middle third of the bread is unused, it makes a great appetizer with a bit of seasoned olive oil and fresh mozzarella.

Paprika Recipe

Today, we modified our own recipe and made sandwiches for each of us. It was similar…

I used sliced buttered olive sourdough bread, brushed with an olive oil-balsamic mix.

Onto that I layered kalamata tapenade, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil, prosciutto, more basil, peppered salami, more fresh mozzarella, and last another slice of buttered olive sourdough bread, brushed with an olive oil-balsamic mix.

Perfect sandwiches after slowly cooking on the panini press. 

Play with your food! Enjoy!

Fresh Pasta with Clams and Hot Italian Sausage

As promised, last Wednesday’s dinner…since I discovered making my own pasta I have really been excited to continue to try different types. The recipe I had selected caught my eye and my husband’s, so when he suggested it I quickly put it on the menu. As plans became clear, my husband had a friend from work joining us, but as usual that didn’t prevent me from trying something new.

The recipe said that the pasta dough should be made and then allowed to sit at room temperature for an hour; in a note it also mentioned that the pasta could be made in advance. With our schedule, it was no-brainer to make the pasta on Tuesday, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, and allow myself the time to pick up the clams fresh on Wednesday.

The recipe was originally designed as a Valentine’s Day dinner for two; it only called for 1 pound of littleneck clams! My rule is usually about 1 pound per person (8-10); as you can guess, I made a few edits, and there are few more in the recipe below to make it that much better.

I bought Italian Semolina past to make sure it would be accurate, but when I got to the kneading I began to worry that it would not gain that elasticity that is needed. I need not have worried.


After making the dough, I let it rest in the fridge until I was ready to roll it out on Wednesday. Aside from the initial cuts it is all done by hand. 


It took me about 45 minutes; the way I have written the recipe it may take a little longer as a thinner pasta would be better. Try to get some help, it would be fun with a partner.

When working with clams, you will see recipes that say “scrubbed” – do not skip this! Clams live at the bottom of the ocean and will fill your meal with grit if you don’t wash them. I always put them in a large bowl of ice water and pull them out, scrub the shell with a soft brush, rinse them under running water, and the place them in a colander layered with ice to keep them fresh until they go in the pan.


Once they were clean I chopped my parsley and sliced the garlic.


Water always takes a bit of time to boil, so I got that started. Then I put together a quick salad with spring greens, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, and cherry tomatos.


Last, but not least it was time to put together the main dish, starting with the hot Italian sausage.


Once it’s brown drain the excess oil and add the garlic. 


By now your water should be boiling, you want to start the clams and pasta at about the same time. Add the clams to the sausage with the wine and cover it with a lid. I like to use my deep skillet with the glass lid so I can shake them up and see when they open.


Once they are open, stir in the butter and parsley, then the pasta. I shelled my clams at this point for easier eating.


Stir it all together and serve.

Fresh Pasta with Clams and Hot Italian Sausage

Entrées, Pastas, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!

Makes Servings: 6 ∙ Source Bon Appétit | February 2016

INGREDIENTS

Dough

  • 2¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus more
  • 1 cup semolina flour, plus more
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup water, warm

Assembly

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lbs. hot Italian sausage, bulk or with casing removed
  • 8-10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 5-6 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS

Dough

Combine all-purpose flour and semolina flour in a large bowl. Add oil and warm water and mix with a fork until a stiff dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8–10 minutes. Wrap tightly in plastic; let sit at room temperature 1 hour or refrigerated overnight.

Cut dough in 8 pieces. Working with one piece at a time and keeping remaining dough wrapped in plastic, roll dough into a 10-12″ log. Cut on a diagonal into ⅓-½” pieces; dust with all-purpose flour.

Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll out between your palms to make about 3″ strands that taper at the ends. Dust pasta with semolina flour and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel until ready to use.

Assembly

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage and cook, breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon (or mix ‘n chop), until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain excess oil, then add garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add clams and wine; cover. Cook, shaking skillet occasionally, until clams open, about 5 minutes; discard any that do not open.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 3-5 minutes (dependent on thickness). Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Add butter, parsley, pasta, and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to clams. Cook, tossing and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes.

Optional: Remove clams from shells prior to stirring in pasta.

Paprika Recipe File

Savory and Sweet

A New Year’s party also needs appetizer treats, not just dessert. So, I also decided to make a savory treat. My MIL brought these over for Christmas Eve and I had to send the boys away from the kitchen just to ensure that the rest of us got to enjoy a few. She didn’t really have a recipe, but I have put one together to make it easier to share.

Proscuitto Pear Cups

Prep 30 mins ∙ Cook 15 mins ∙ Makes 48 cups

INGREDIENTS

  • 24 thin slices proscuitto, cut in half
  • 2 pears, diced in ¼” cubes
  • ~5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • olive oil
  • crushed black pepper
  • 8 oz. crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 T. chopped fresh thyme

DIRECTIONS

Press ½ slice of proscuitto into 48 mini muffin cups and bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes to form crisp cups.

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While they bake, sauté the pears in a touch of olive oil with the sprigs of thyme and a couple quick grinds of black pepper.

When the cups are done set them on your serving tray and put goat cheese in the bottom of each cup. Follow with a layer of pears. Sprinkle the remaining goat cheese over everything and then follow with the chopped thyme.

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Happy New Year! Welcome 2016 and goodbye to 2015!

Not Your Ordinary Saltimbocca

My first comment is that everyone should go get the Essential New York Times Cookbook Classical Recipes for a New Century by Amanda Hesser, copyright 2010. Each time I go to this cookbook it’s a success.

On a regular basis, my husband tells me that I should consider easier options for Sunday dinner so that I can enjoy the day and not be chained to the kitchen. The simple answer is that I do enjoy a day I get to spend in the kitchen. Today however was almost 70, sunny, in Michigan, in November and enjoying  some if it outside was high on my list of things to do. So I pulled out this cookbook knowing that within its pages of over 1000 recipes I would find what I was looking for. I flipped to the the section Beef, Veal, Lamb, and Pork and began to read. I considered a few different options, stews that I wouldn’t have to watch, I had Beef Burgandy or Stroganoff in my head, and then I landed on the Saltimbocca recipe, with the proscuitto nestled inside the veal.

I continued my reading and proceed onto the recommended pairings, she recommended a few different items, I had potatoes and a vegetable so that’s where I headed in the book, both also simple. The author also recommended panna cotta for dessert, I recalled that in the intro she mentioned that this cookbook contained the best Panna Cotta she had ever tasted, a bit of flipping and I confirmed that this was indeed the one she was referring to, with buttermilk as a main ingredient.

All of the recipes were as easy as promised. I made the panna cotta first, when I got home from the grocery store, I started at 1, it was in ramekins in the fridge by 2.

I then relaxed, read outside, did a few other Sunday tasks, but overall enjoyed my afternoon. At 5 I got my ingredients for dinner out, and began the potatoes, once those were in the pan, I started on the zucchini. At 5:40 the oven was preheated and the potatoes went in. The zucchini only took a few minutes longer to prep and I set it off to the side. I pounded out the veal and folded in he proscuitto as described; I set those off to the side as well. At 6:35, I put the zucchini in the oven, and then at 6:45, I began the veal cooking it in batches so as not to crowd the skillet.

Everything was done at 7, and we started the meal with a goat cheese, dried cherry, and pear salad from my MIL (perfect as always).

The meal was perfect, each item exactly as promised.


Nesting the proscuitto inside the veal protects it from the skillet and still keeps the veal moist. The sage adds a subtle touch of flavor.


Saltimbocca

prep 15 mins ∙ cook 10 min ∙ makes 4 servings ∙ difficulty Medium ∙ source Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 561

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 thin slices proscuitto
  • 4 small veal cutlets, pounded very thin
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 sage leaves
  • Sea salt
  • Splash of dry white wine

DIRECTIONS
1. Place 2 pieces of prosciutto on each piece of veal so they hang over the ends and overlap in the middle. Fold each piece of veal in half, securing it wit toothpicks in 2 places.

2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium non-stick pan until foamy. Add the veal packages and sage leaves, and cook for about 1 minute on each side, turning once, until slightly brown. Season with salt as the packages cook, and sprinkle white wine into the pan as they finish. Discard sage and serve.


NOTES

Heat the oil and butter over medium heat.

These are perfectly crispy, I added extra garlic since we love it. I used a large cookie sheet rather than a roasting pan.


Italian Roasted Potatoes

prep 20 mintues ∙ cook 1 hour 15 mintues ∙ makes 6 servings ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 300

INGREDIENTS

  • 2½ pounds waxy potatoes (about 6 medium), scrubbed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine potatoes, garlic, oregano, and oil in a large roasting pan. Stir until potatoes are well-coated, and spread them evenly in pan.

2. Place in the oven, and roast until the potatoes are golden brown and crisp, 1 to 1¼ hours. (If the potatoes are crowded in the pan, they will take longer to crisp.)

3. Remove potatoes and garlic from oven, and transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle with salt to taste, and serve immediately.

NOTES
Use a coarse sea salt at the end.

This recipe was the only recipe that concerned me, I knew the flavor would be good, and the recipe notes assured me it would not be mush, but…  As you can see from the nip ages I could not find baby zucchini, only small, so I also cut them in half. My only edit would be to reduce the olive oil to ¼ cup.


Baked Zucchini with Herbs and Tomatoes

prep 20 minutes ∙ cook 20 minutes ∙ makes 6 servings ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 250

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 firm baby zucchini, or 5 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick sticks
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 scallions, white part only, thinly sliced
  • Leaves from 3 inner stalks celery
  • 6 basil leaves
  • About ¼ cup flour
  • 2 whole ripe plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine zucchini, onion, and scallions in a colander. Tear celery and basil leaves into small pieces and sprinkle on top. Sprinkle flour over all. Using one hand, press and toss ingredients together until well mixed and coated (it will get a little moist, but not gooey). Add tomatoes, season with salt and toss once more.

2. Pour half the olive oil into a medium baking dish or ceramic pie plate. Fill dish with zucchini mixture, then grind pepper over top. Sprinkle remaining oil on top, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until ingredients are just cooked but still firm.


Although Amanda recommended a blueberry sauce, I opted for blackberries, I described both options in the notes.

Panna Cotta

cook 15 minutes ∙ makes 6 servings ∙ difficulty Medium ∙ source Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 840

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 package powdered gelatin
  • 1⅔ cups buttermilk
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh fruit for garnish

DIRECTIONS
1. Place the cream and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 7 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let stand for 5 minutes.

3. Stir the gelatin into the warm cream until dissolved. Stir in the buttermilk and salt and remove from heat.

4. Ladle the mixture into six 6-ounce ramekins. Refrigerate, loosely covered, until set, at least 2 hours.

5. To serve, run the tip of a small knife around the edge of the ramekins to loosen the panna cotta, and unmold onto individual plates.

6. Let stand until almost at room temperature, about 1 hour. Surround with fruit and serve.

NOTES
From the cookbook:

To unfold, dip the ramekins in a bowl of hot water for 30 seconds then dry the bottoms of the ramekins before inverting onto serving plates and tapping out the panna cotta.

For serving, I brought, ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, added 1 cup blueberries and 1 star anise pod, turned off the heat, and let the mixture steep 20 minutes (remove the star anise before serving the sauce).
My notes:

For serving, I set 24 blackberries aside and brought the remainder to a boil in a small saucepan with 3 tbsp. sugar and 3 tbsp. water and let them boil until the berries were soft. I remove it from the heat and crushed the berries. Just prior to serving I stirred in the remaining fresh berries.