Dining at Disney – Via Napoli

Yesterday we enjoyed another favorite, not for dinner, but rather for a very late lunch. We try to do this at least once during our longer trips at Disney to get a pizza “fix” which we enjoy at home at least once a week. Via Napoli, is our well-established favorite for this with their flour imported from Italy, San Marzano tomatoes, and in-house made mozzarella. In the future, we may have to try Blaze in Disney Springs…maybe.

The meal is simple, red sangria, an appetizer (prosciutto and melon this time), a family style salad, and a large pizza.


The melon and prosciutto is easy to do at home, the saltiness of the prosciutto and the melon are simply a perfect complement. This is a very elegant simple appetizer on skewers if you are looking for something unique. And the salad was loaded with tomatoes, cucumber, green and Kalamata olives, marinated mushrooms, and peperocini and peppadew peppers with a simple red wine vinaigrette was perfect in the heat of the day.


We followed this with a pizza with some of our favorite toppings; this is always the difficult decision since we love them all. We selected Italian sausage, pancetta, and pepperoni.

All good!


We rounded out the day with snacks as we got hungry.

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Disney Dining – Homecomin’

Day two we elected to try one of the many new restaurants in Disney Springs, Homecomin’. The house specialties are moonshine and fried chicken. 

We decided to start with drinks and fried green tomatoes. The drinks arrived quickly, I had a Muleshine in respect of the specialty and my husband opted for the Basil Smash. Both were good drinks, but slightly sweet.

  
The fried green tomatoes were simply awesome with a salad of spinach, watercress, and arugula.

My husband and I split the hangar steak cooked medium rare with a side of Southern coke slaw. The steak was cooked perfectly and they split the plate for us (just nice). Good call by the chef, the menu said asparagus and there was none on the plate; it’s out of season and would not have been as good as the tender zucchini. The slaw was crisp and fresh, but with it being Southern slaw, I was expecting a hint if jalapeño; definitely good, but no heat at all.

  

My boys had two different fried chicken meals, the famous fried chicken and fried chicken with doughnuts. The seasoning was good, the skin was amazing, but the chicken itself was a touch on the dry side. The mashed potatoes were creamy and buttery. My son said that the doughnuts tasted as if they were fresh from the apple orchard. (If you are not from Michigan, that is high praise.)

  
So, in summary, it was a good option for our late lunch/early dinner, the ingredients were clearly fresh and high quality. It won’t make my list of favorites, but it’s certainly an alternative for classic Southern food at Disney.

Grad Party – Part 4

Only 21 hours before the party and I think we are set. I finally made it through 18 years of pictures, I had been delinquent for the past 10. But that’s not why you are reading this, today I finished the cole slaw. I did two quintuple batches and ended up with 3 full trays. I didn’t want to have the veggies around for long so my mom and I picked those up this morning: 10 heads of cabbage (9 green and 1 red), 10 bunches of green onions, and 2 lbs. of carrots. When we got home we cleaned them all and peeled the carrots. 

  

Then we went to work on slicing the green onions and shredding the the cabbage and carrots in the food processor. 

I placed each batch in my large bowl and added half of the dressing I made the other day. As always, I seasoned well with salt and pepper. Stirring was a little bit fun, but I managed to keep it all in the bowl. I followed it with the other half of my ingredients and ended up with 3 trays which are now in my MIL’s fridge since I ran out of space. 

  

My mother arrived yesterday to assist and also brought home-made rolls, ~17 dozen. She made them in large batches too and while time-consuming, it is simple to make good bread. The start is active-dry yeast, proofed with a bit of sugar and warm water until it’s frothy. This gets stirred into flour to make a sticky dough, then kneaded with even more flour until smooth. 

        

Then you let it rest to rise for about 1½ hours (still using the same bowl that she used when I was a little girl). 

  

After it’s risen you punch it down, let it rest briefly, shape it into rolls, and then let them rise again before baking them. 

      
I’m so excited to enjoy one of these with a bit of butter. 


I also have signs made, soda chilling, and they put up the tent today. I’ll have one more post tomorrow on the outcome, let’s hope the storms miss us!

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.


Mmm… Paella

I originally published this last year and realized it is one of the many that the images were lost. Paella is a process and picture help if you haven’t made it before. So I have added them back and reposted for everyone to enjoy while the weather is beautiful. 

Original post…

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of you that are Moms. Instead of my regular Sunday dinner, I was watching my son’s soccer game scheduled for 6PM. Sometimes that happens.

Our spring is always busy and this week was no exception. Last Sunday, I had a soccer game in the middle of the day so I had to do some creative work with the timing.

My boys also had a 5k run early last week so I selected a dessert that I could make quickly before they got home starving. Chocolate mousse. It’s quick, delicious, and needs at least 8 hours in the refrigerator.

The amazing taste of chocolate mousse has an inversely proportional relationship with the amount of work needed to make it. In brief, it’s really easy even though it tastes like it took hours to make.

I got up at 8, as my boys were starting the run, I lolly-gagged a bit, and still managed to have the mousse in ramekins in the fridge by 9. While the recipe states to finely chop the chocolate, I tend to use chips or just beat the candy bar on the counter; or in this case I used a mix of both.

Once the butter, chocolate, and liquor (bourbon this time) melt together, allow it to cool before stirring in the egg yolks. This is a good time to beat the cream and the egg whites with the sugar.

  

                    
Once those are ready to go, the chocolate will be cool enough to stir in the yolks and then the egg whites and cream (alternating).

        
From this point they go into the ramekins and into the fridge.


After we got back from the game at 3, I started on my prep work so that I could get the stock started. The stock used some of the scraps from the prep for the paella. I also had some leftover chorizo from another use, so that went in too. I started with the shrimp, reserving the shells for the stock. I doubled everything to so that I could use it for a couple of meals. Since everything get strained from the stock, there is no need to peel the garlic or carrots.

      

Everything goes into the pot.


Once the shells gain their pink color and the vegetables start to become tender, the water goes in and you bring it to a boil and then let it simmer.

  
This gave me the time to do my other prep for the paella. The key is a good soffrito: onions, garlic, celery, and then ultimately tomato.

  
My market had 3 different brands of Spanish chorizo, so I used them all.


I also made a spice blend with sugar, salt, and smoked paprika.


I cleaned my micro greens and rinsed my olives.

  
My favorite pan for paella is my 17″ cast iron skillet, and the easiest place to use it is my grill.


By this time, the stock is done and you pour it through a fine strainer and press the solids for this beautiful stock.

    

So once with everything prepped and the grill hot, I brought it all out to my bar height table next to the grill.


The chorizo goes in first and the aroma begins.


And when they are done, set them off to the side and add the shrimp to the pan.

  
They cook quickly in the hot skillet and it’s important to not overcook them. When they are done set them off to the side wth the chorizo and keep them warm.


The soffrito goes into the hot skillet until it cooks down with the wine being added in the middle.

  

Then add the stock and once it’s hot, the saffron. When it returns to a boil, the rice.

  

After the rice goes in, stir until it comes back to a boil, and then only turn the pan so that the rice cooks evenly. I also squeezed a couple of loaves of garlic bread onto the grill from our local bakery on the market and my MIL made a fabulous salad.

When I brought it inside, I added in the zest and juice of a lemon.

  
And I served it with a rosé Sancerre.


Dessert was accompanied with whipped cream and Baileys.

  
And as mentioned much earlier in this post, this meal did become a second; I put it in a wrap with queso fresco and grilled it. It also reheated VERY well in our lunch!


Back-Burner Stock

Makes About 3½ cups ∙ Source Bonappetit.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ounces charcuterie trimmings (such as ham, bacon, and/or sausage ends)
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro stems
  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled, halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped mixed vegetables (such as carrots, celery, and/or fennel)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander or fennel seeds
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Shrimp shells (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add charcuterie, onion, cilantro stems, garlic, bay leaves, vegetables, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, and shrimp shells (if using) and cook, stirring occasionally, until shells turn bright pink and vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes.

Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing on solids; discard solids.

Do Ahead: Stock can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.

Chorizo and Shrimp Paella

Makes Servings: 4 ∙ Source Bonappetit.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 pound Spanish chorizo, casings and ends removed, sliced into rounds
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • ¾ cup dry white or rose wine
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Back-Burner Stock
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1½ cups bomba rice
  • 1 cup green olives (such as Castelvetrano), pitted, torn into large pieces
  • 1 lemon, plus wedges for serving
  • Radish sprouts (for serving)
  • Flaky sea salt

DIRECTIONS

Process onion, celery, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped; transfer to a small bowl. Add tomatoes to processor and process until smooth; set soffritto aside.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a 12″–14″ paella pan or skillet over medium-high. Add chorizo and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add shrimp to same skillet, season with salt, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plate with chorizo.

Heat remaining ½ cup oil in same skillet over medium-high. Add reserved soffritto and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8–10 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook until mixture is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add paprika, sugar, and 2 tsp. salt. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick, about 3 minutes. Add stock and saffron and bring to a boil.

Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid starts to simmer, about 5 minutes. Quit stirring; a film will form on the surface (this will trap steam, making a gooey cover over the rice, helping it cook evenly). Reduce heat to low and simmer, moving pan around every few minutes so the entire bottom gets equal time over the hottest part of flame, until liquid evaporates, 12–15 minutes.

Top with olives and reserved chorizo and shrimp. Finely grate lemon zest and squeeze lemon juice over paella, top with sprouts, and season with sea salt. Let paella rest 5 minutes before you dig in; serve with lemon wedges.

Paprika File

Dark Chocolate Mousse

Desserts, Ice Cream and Custards, Tested and Approved!

Makes 6 Servings ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Epicurious | 2004

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 Tbsp Kahlua, or other favorite alcohol (i.e., Bourbon)
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

DIRECTIONS

Combine the chocolate, butter, and kahlua in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not simmering, water, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool until the chocolate is just slightly warmer than body temperature. To test, dab some chocolate on your bottom lip. It should feel warm. If it is too cool, the mixture will seize when the other ingredients are added.

Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks, then refrigerate. Once the melted chocolate has cooled slightly, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl until they are foamy and beginning to hold a shape. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until soft peaks form.

When the chocolate has reached the proper temperature, stir in the yolks. Gently stir in about one-third of the whipped cream. Fold in half the whites just until incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites, and finally the remaining whipped cream.

Spoon or pipe the mousse into a serving bowl or individual dishes. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. (The mousse can be refrigerated for up to a day.)

Paprika File

Pasta Salad

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.


Pasta Salad

Salads, Tested and Approved!

Prep 1 hr ∙ Makes 8-10 ∙ Difficulty Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

DIRECTIONS

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, preferably 1 day before serving.

NOTES

When doubling the recipe – triple the meat

Paprika file

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

Roast Chicken with Artichokes and Gremolata Butter…aka really easy chicken dinner

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.

~1T. minced rosemary
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.

My plate!

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
★★★★★

Entrées, Poultry, Tested and Approved!

Prep 20 minutes ∙ Cook 1 hour 30 minutes ∙ Makes Yield 6 servings ∙ Source Bon Appétit | April 2005

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 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

DIRECTIONS

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.   

Paprika Recipe

Strawberry Pazzo Cake With Herbed Crème Fraîche

★★★★★

Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts, Tested and Approved!

Makes Serves 8 ∙ Difficulty Hard ∙ Source Epicurious | June 2013

INGREDIENTS

  • 1¾ cups Crème Fraîche
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary, freshly minced
  • 1-2 tsp. suar

Pazzo Cake

  • 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
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pound strawberries, fresh, hulled and halved

Balsamic Glaze

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tsp granulated sugar
  • black pepper, a few grinds of fresh

DIRECTIONS

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.

Paprika Recipe

Tournament Lunch

Earlier in the week our team manager suggested that we bring snacks for the boys to eat between our two Saturday games so that we wouldn’t have to deal with the traffic back and forth to the hotel which was a little further away than typical. My favorite thing to make for soccer potlucks is Sally’s Mac & Cheese, but being almost 4 hours from home and without access to an oven I had to be think of something more portable. One of our favorite quick sandwiches, Turkey Apple Wraps, is originally from Disney’s Family Cookbook: Irresistible Recipes for You and Your Kids originally published in 1996 (it is one of the cookbooks that started me thinking about food differently). I was able to scale it for the team and do most of the prep at home. It’s a forgiving recipe; I didn’t measure anything, rather I just approximated the amounts.

Once you mix it up it’s good for a few days in the fridge so I brought the ingredients here in separate containers with a large bowl for mixing. The turkey and parsley went in first. (For different flavors other types of turkey are good. I really like peppered or blackened in this, but for boys I don’t normally feed I selected a simple smoked variety.)

After that I added in the mayo and a bit of salt and pepper.


Then I started on the apples.


Granny Smith apples stay firm in this and add tartness. It’s one apple per ½ lb. of turkey.

And finally stirring in dried cherries.
With the temp in the mid-40s we found a recipe center to duck into, warm up, and eat.


Turkey Apple Salad Wrap

Poultry, Quick Meals, Sandwiches, Tested and Approved!

Makes 4 servings ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Disney’s Family Cookbook, 1996

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ pound turkey breast, cooked and cubed
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise, rounded
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup raisins, dried cranberries, or dried cherries
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, freshly chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Tortillas or wraps

DIRECTIONS

Combine turkey, mayo, and vinegar; then mix in remaining ingredients. Pile on a tortilla or wrap and roll.

With nicer weather it would have been perfect.

Fresh Herb Pappardelle with Veal and Lemon

For Christmas my niece gave me The Pasta Book, by Julia Della Croce, printed by Williams Sonoma. I have been exited to enjoy it, but I had not yet attempted fresh pasta. 

It’s a serious confession, growing up my mother always made homemade egg noodles for chicken noodle soup and over the last couple of years has been making other pastas. The chicken noodle soup is one of my fondest memories and her other pastas have been wonderful.

I had given myself the excuse that I have access to such good dried pasta, I didn’t need to make it fresh. 

But…today this recipe caught my eye. The sauce was not complicated, dessert was going to be easy, and my neighbors were bringing the Caesar salad. 

I made dessert first, then the pasta, and finally the sauce. 

I could not have been more delighted with the results, I should have made fresh pasta sooner. Everyone was delighted with the results. I still don’t have a full size food processor, and I don’t have a pasta roller, so I followed the “by hand” instructions. I may be making some new investments for the kitchen. I don’t have pictures throughout making the pasta, my hands were too covered to touch the camera.  

   

 WS Egg Pasta I

Pastas
Prep 45 mins ∙ Cook 0 minutes ∙ Makes Servings: 6 ∙ Source Williams Sonoma | The Pasta Book, Julia Della Croce, 2010

INGREDIENTS

  • 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose or “00” flour, plus more as needed
  • ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

DIRECTIONS

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 1 lb. dough.

  
Rolling with a Machine:

Set up the pasta machine according to the manufacturer’s directions. Set the rollers at the widest setting and dust with flour to prevent sticking. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and slip 3 pieces back under the bowl.

Flatten the remaining piece into a disk and dust with flour. Turning the crank, feed the dough through the rollers. Fold the dough into thirds like aletter. Lightly flour both sides and feed it through again; this process further kneads the dough. Repeat the folding and rolling twice dusting with flour as needed.

Narrow the rollers to the next notch dust the dough with flour and pass it through the rollers again. Catch the sheet with your hand and carefully guide it onto the work surface. Narrow the rollers to the next notch and feed the dough through again. If the dough tears, start again at the widest setting.

Continue in this fashion, dusting with frour and repairing holes as needed. 

Rolling by Hand:

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and slip 3 pieces back under the bowl. Flatten the remainin piece into a disk and dust with flour. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough away from you Lift the dough, flour the work surface again, if necessary, and turn the dough 90°. Roll out again.

Continue rolling the dough until you can see your hand through it (see thickness below). Allow to rest for 10-20 minutes. 

  
For both methods:

Place the rolled out pasta onto clean work surface and fold into a loose flat cylinder. Using a chef’s knife or pizza cutter cut appropriate width for pasta. 

  

Thickness (Width):

  • 1/32″ thick – Tagliatelle (¼”), Papparadelle (¾-1″), Maltagliati, Stuffed Pastas, Cannelloni, Lasagne
  • 1/16″ thick – Fettucine (¼”), Trenette (3/8″)

Fresh Herb Pappardelle with Veal and Lemon

Beef and Lamb, Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Prep 30 mins ∙ Cook 40 mins ∙ Makes 4-6 ∙ Source Williams-Sonoma | The Pasta Book, Julia Della Croce, 2010

INGREDIENTS

Herb Pasta

  • WS Egg Pasta I Recipe
  • 3 tbsp. Italian Parsley, freshly chopped

Veal-Lemon Sauce

  • 1 lb. veal, partially frozen and cut into thin (¼” thick) strips 1″ long and ¼” wide
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • ½ lb. fresh white mushrooms, brushed clean and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • 1½ cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. freshly chopped thyme
  • 1 lemon zest strip, three inches long and one inch wide
  • 2 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt for cooking pasta

   
 

    DIRECTIONS

    To make the herb pasta dough, follow the Egg Pasta 1 dough as directed and incorporate the parsley with flour when mixing in the salt. Let dry for 30 minutes to 3 hours.

    Pat veal dry with paper towels and set aside. In a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the shallots and sauté until tender, about two minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms. Sauté gently until softened, about two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallot and mushroom mixture to a plate and set aside.  

     Raise the heat to high and add the veal to the pan. Sauté until the meat colours on the surface, about two minutes.  
    Add the sherry and reduce the heat to medium. Sauté until most of the alcohol evaporates, about three minutes. Add the broth, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the thyme and immediately reduce the heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover, add the lemon zest and chopped parsley, and return the mushroom mixture to the pan. Season with sea salt and pepper and simmer, uncovered, until the veal is tender and the liquid is reduced to about 1
    ¼ cups, about 15 minutes longer. Remove and discard the lemon zest. Add the cream and heat, stirring, just until small bubbles begin to forma
    round the edges of the pan.  
    Do not let the cream boil. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.In a large pot, bring five quarts of water to a rapid boil. Add two tablespoons kosher salt and the pasta and cover the pot.

      
    When the water returns to a boil, uncover, cook for about a minute or until tender and then drain. Add the pasta to the sauce in the pan and toss until the pasta is well coated with the sauce. Transfer to a warmed large, shallow serving bowl or individual shallow bowls and serve right away.

      
    Double Ginger Sticky Toffee Pudding

    Makes Servings: 8 ∙ Source Bonappetit.com

    INGREDIENTS

    Cake

    • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
    • 10 ounces Medjool dates, pitted and chopped (about 2 cups)
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
    • 3 large eggs, room temperature
    • ½ cup chopped crystallized ginger

    Toffee Sauce And Assembly

    • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • Demerara sugar (for serving)

    Special Equipment

    • A 9-cup Bundt pan

    DIRECTIONS

    Cake
    Preheat oven to 350˚. Thoroughly butter and flour pan, making sure to get into all curved or detailed places. 

     Toss dates and baking soda in a small bowl to coat, then pour in 1 cup boiling water. 

       

      


      
     Let mixture sit until dates are very soft, 10–15 minutes. Mash dates lightly with a fork (mixture will be thick but not smooth and homogenous).

    While dates are soaking, whisk baking powder, salt, and remaining 2 cups flour in a medium bowl.

    Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat brown sugar, fresh ginger, and remaining ½ cup butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition before adding the next.  

     Then alternating, add dry ingredients and date mixture in 2 additions each, starting with dry ingredients and ending with date mixture. Fold in crystallized ginger. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth surface.  

    Bake cake until top is firm and springs back when gently pressed with your fingers and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35–45 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Let cake cool in pan 10 minutes before turning out onto rack, then let cool another 20 minutes (cake should still be warm).

      
    Toffee Sauce And Assembly

    Bring brown sugar, cream, butter, salt, and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to melt butter. Cook, stirring, until mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon, 5–8 minutes. Let cool slightly.

      
    Poke holes all over warm cake with a toothpick. Wipe out Bundt pan; pour a third of sauce into pan. Carefully invert cake back into pan. Poke holes in bottom of cake and pour more sauce over. Let sit until cake absorbs sauce, 15–20 minutes.

    Turn cake out onto rack (it may not come out at first but will eventually release) and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Serve cake with remaining toffee sauce. If the sauce has cooled by the time you’re ready to serve, gently reheat just to warm through.

      
    Do Ahead: Cake can be made 1 day ahead; store tightly covered at room temperature. Cover and chill leftover sauce. Gently reheat before serving.