Tag Archives: Italian Food

I know, I know… it’s been a while

I know, I know… it’s been a while.  I’ve been sick – damn sinuses.  I’ve been depressed – damn Hurricane Sandy.  I’ve been extremely busy – damn job.

I can never seem to just sit down and write anymore.

My husband is needy.  I have 3 of the neediest cats on the planet – with all their meowing, and following me around incessantly – you would think I had kids!

Well, tonight is my attempt to get back into the swing of things – a.k.a. BLOGGING.

I’m on yet another diet – or should I say… healthy eating regime… and all I can think about is food.  Healthy and unhealthy.  I lost 16 pounds so far and I started January 15th but I have a bit to go.

Yesterday, I was driving by the diner and had a sudden urge for French Fries and Gravy – known as “Disco Fries” sans fromage to some.  It was hard to keep driving, but I did.

Then I thought about the meal I made Saturday night.  It was so yummy!  So good that my husband and I ate an entire pound of spaghetti.  Yes, you heard that right.  The whole pound!

That was a cheat if I do say.

So since that damn Pasta al Pomodoro taunted me with its goodness, I figured I would share the Bon Appétit recipe with all of you – hoping my weight loss group will read this, cook it and gain weight so I will win the challenge yet again!  LOL!

Image

 

PHOTOGRAPH BY Romulo Yanes

Pasta al Pomodoro – via Bon Appétit

 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 oz. can peeled tomatoes, puréed in a food processor
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 large fresh basil sprigs
  • 12 oz. bucatini or spaghetti
  • 2 Tbsp. cubed unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino

Preparation

  • Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-low heat. Add minced onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-4 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute more. Increase heat to medium, add puréed tomatoes and season lightly with kosher salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in basil sprigs, and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add spaghetti or bucatini and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.
  • Discard basil and heat skillet over high heat. Stir in reserved pasta water to loosen sauce; bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; add butter and cheese; toss until cheese melts. Transfer to warm bowls; serve with more cheese, if desired.
serves 4
  • Nutritional Information

    One serving contains: 
    Calories (kcal) 560.4 
    %Calories from Fat 34.5 
    Fat (g) 21.5 
    Saturated Fat (g) 5.8 
    Cholesterol (mg) 15.0 
    Carbohydrates (g) 76.2 
    Dietary Fiber (g) 6.2 
    Total Sugars (g) 8.3 
    Net Carbs (g) 70.0 
    Protein (g) 14.1 
    Sodium (mg) 426.8

By the way, I made a pound of macaroni.  Screw that 12 oz crap!

 

© 2013 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010

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Pasta with Spicy Tomato-Beer Sauce

I’m always looking for new recipes.  Whether they are my own creation, a tweak on someone else’s creation or just a recipe straight-up.

I wasn’t feeling well today so I decided to make one of my comfort foods – pasta.

I found this great recipe for Pasta with Spicy Tomato-Beer Sauce at saveur.com last week and decided to try it today.

It was delicious!  The perfect combination of flavors and spicy, spicy, spicy.  It takes a while to cook, so start early.

Here’s the recipe from Saveur Magazine.  I tweaked it a tad because it’s what I had on-hand – fabulous!  Bravo Saveur!

Pasta with Spicy Tomato-Beer Sauce

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup salt-packed capers, rinsed
8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
8 cloves garlic, smashed
6 oil-packed anchovy filets, chopped
4 red Fresno chiles, seeded and chopped – I used 2 long hot Italian peppers and a good dose of red pepper flakes
4 gherkins, chopped – I used 6 cornichons
2 red onions, chopped
1  28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained – I used crushed tomatoes
12 oz. bock beer, preferably Birrificio Italiano Bibock – I used a white beer
3⁄4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 lb. pasta, such as scialatielli or linguine – I used penne rigate
8 caper berries, for garnish
2 tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Heat oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add capers, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, chiles, gherkins, and onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until ingredients are browned, about 20 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and beer; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Purée sauce in a blender; return sauce to pan over low heat. Stir in olives and season with salt and pepper.

2. Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until al dente. Drain pasta and transfer pasta to sauce; toss to combine. Stir in a little pasta water to loosen the sauce, if you like. Serve pasta garnished with caper berries and parsley.

SERVES 4

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010. Recipe courtesy of Saveur Magazine.

Grilled Chicken Sausage & Peppers

Summertime always makes me think of cheese steaks at Midway on Seaside Boardwalk, funnel cake, zeppole and of course a nice sandwich of sausage and peppers.

If you have a grill, there is no reason to use the stove – it makes the house too hot in the summer and makes the AC work too hard.

I’ve been grilling my sausage and peppers for years.  The grill gives the dish a great flavor and it’s done in no time.

Last nice I decided to try a chicken sausage instead of my normal HOT sausage & peppers.  I bought the Premio chicken sausage.  Don’t buy the fully cooked one.  It will not be the same.  You can also use any combination of peppers you like.

Here’s my recipe.  I hope you try it and enjoy it!

1 large package of Premio uncooked chicken sausage (about 8-12 links)
2 cubanelle peppers, sliced into chunks (does that make sense?)
2 poblano peppers, sliced into chunks
1 jalapeno pepper, chunked
2 long hot Italian peppers – left whole
5 or 8 mini mixed color bell peppers, chunked – I used orange, red and yellow
1 large onion, thickly sliced
5 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
light agave syrup
salt & pepper
hot red crushed pepper
Italian seasonings
extra virgin olive oil
grated Pecorino Romano
a handful of mixed, fresh herbs – I used basil, oregano, rosemary & thyme
a grill fry pan – one with holes in it

Take out sausage and bring to room temperature.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine all peppers, onions, garlic, a large drizzle of agave, a few good shakes of Italian seasonings, salt & pepper & red pepper flakes to taste.  Drizzle with olive oil and mix well.  Adjust seasonings and amount of oil if needed.

Heat grill & cook sausage, flipping until browned all over and cooked through.  Do not overcook!  Meanwhile, place fry pan on grill and dump in pepper mixture. Cook until vegetables are charred and softened.  Remove when done and place back in bowl.

Add a handful of Pecorino and fresh herbs to pepper mixture.  Mix well and adjust seasonings.  Slice sausage and add to peppers.  Mix well and serve.

Serves 4 – 6 depending – maybe 8 – who knows.  All I know is that I served two and it was well received and almost gone!

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

My Life As A Jersey Girl

For the first 4 years of my life, my mom, my dad and I lived upstairs from my paternal grandmother (aka Nanoo) and my Aunt Mary (aka Mimi).

We lived in 3 rooms.  A large old-fashioned kitchen with a big white sink like you would see in the movie A Christmas Story, a large living room with a scratchy yet pristine couch, a smaller flowered love seat that pulled out into a bed, a big reclining chair and a console colored TV.  The bedroom was small with a full-size bedand a small closet.  That was the only closet space in the entire apartment!  Oh wait!  Maybe there was one in the living room.  I can’t remember.

My Nanoo in her kitchen

We had a half bath with a toilet that was so tiny, if you were an adult your knees would hit the pipe directly in front of the bowl.  Showers and baths were taken downstairs at my Nanoo’s but my mother used to bathe me in the large tub adjacent to the kitchen sink.

We had no air conditioning, so we spent most of our warm evenings on the porch swing chatting with the neighbors.  This is the late sixties and early seventies, when you knew your neighbors and actually spent time with them.  This is before everyone got too busy to see each other face to face, before families started moving away from each other instead of living on the same block or in the same house for that matter.

Playing the organ in my Nutley kitchen

This was a time when we all gathered for Sunday dinner at 1:00 in the afternoon to enjoy a giant pot of gravy with meatballs and sausage, and a huge bowl of macaroni (not pasta) that my mom and maternal grandmother (aka Grandma) slaved over for a couple of days just to get the perfect flavor.

My dad and I were always disappointed when mom made a roast beef or some other non-macaroni Sunday dinner.  It just wasn’t the same without the smell of pork and beef wafting through the house.

In the Nutley kitchen with my cousins

In the summers I swam in my Uncle Al’s pool next door.  He really wasn’t my uncle but calling a neighbor or a cousin aunt or uncle to show respect was an upheld practice.  My Aunt Ann (aka Tootsie) also had a pool that we would swim in.  She lived on the next block up the hill from us.

My Nutley childhood is full of fond memories of people, events, smells and daily life.  It was simpler time.

In 1971 we moved to the next town over.  It was only a 5 minute drive but it seemed like a world away.  No more running downstairs to see Nanoo and Mimi.  No more running up the block to visit Aunt Tootsie.  No more running across the Pipeline to visit my Tata (my Nanoo’s sister) and my 2 cousins that were my age, Bobby and David.

I was alone in Bloomfield.  No friends.  No family.  Just mom and dad.

My Poppy (my step-grandfather – really my great-uncle) helped my dad put up a 18 foot above ground pool.  It seemed like days that they were digging.  My dad

In my pool

was a perfectionist.  Everything had to be smooth and level.  When it was done, I couldn’t wait to jump in!

I spent day and night in that pool.  I was part fish.  I learned how to swim underwater first (I had been swimming since I was 2) and then I gradually mastered the art of freestyle.  My dad was a great swimmer who could hold his breath longer than anyone I knew.  He would stay under water for what seemed like hours but was really A LOT of minutes.  It was unbelievable.  No one could match or beat his breath-holding expertise.

One day a neighbor down the street came over with his daughter and introduced himself as Dick and his daughter Susan.  He thought that we might be the same age – and we were.  Susan was my first friend and more importantly, my first BEST friend.  But Susan is another story – I’ll talk about her later.

Back to my my new house…

We finally had air conditioning!  Two units!  We all slept downstairs until I got a little older, then we moved upstairs.  Then we had 2 units downstairs – one in the

My 1st bedroom at our new house

dining room wall and one window unit in the den (once my parent’s room, then the den, now my dad’s room) and one in each of our bedroom windows’ upstairs.

We could NEVER have all 4 on at the same time or they would trip a breaker.  Two at a time my father said.  So during the day we had the downstairs 2 running and at night the upstairs 2.

He used to come in my room to wake me up (I was NEVER a morning person) and bitch and moan because I kept the AC so cold.  He’d walk in and say, “Jesus Christ!  I can see my breath in here!”  I loved it cold in the summer so I could snuggle underneath the covers.

During the summer we spent most of our time in the half finished basement watching TV, eating, playing games (this is when I wasn’t in the pool).  We had another kitchen in the basement and my mom did most of her cooking downstairs 1.  because of the heat of the summer (even with AC) and 2.  because she wanted to keep the upstairs clean.

Did I mention that my mom (and her mother) were OCD, clean-crazy Italians? ALWAYS cleaning the house.  You could literally eat off my grandma’s floors – they were so clean and shiny.

We weren’t ALLOWED to use the front door.  The living room was for company

Sitting in the livingroom

only.  Food was definitely off-limits there.  I wasn’t allowed to sit on my bed after it was made.  My mother always said, “Beds are for sleeping, not for sitting.”

That about sums it up.

My bedroom floor was covered with an itchy indoor/outdoor block carpeting.  It was an ugly gold and I hated stepping on it.  My walls were hidden with white wood paneling and wooden beams framing my bed.  My furniture was a dark, early American clunky set that was popular in the seventies.  One wall had ceramic Hummel’s that my mom made but I was not allowed to put up posters or anything like that.

I loved Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson but posters of the Jackson Five or Puppy Love were out of the question.  Phyllis put her foot down.

We had a half bath upstairs complete with a built-in vanity and a little faux fur covered chair.  It had a big sink that I loved washing my hair in.  All my makeup (when it was time for makeup), hair stuff and other toiletries were tucked away in  3 out of the 8 cabinets.  I loved that part of the house!

The kitchen was an open galley-like kitchen with a wall oven and a stove top.  My

Singing away in the kitchen with Grandma & Poppy

mom set up a small “ice cream table” with 2 chairs so we had someplace to eat besides the dining room – which happened to be adjacent to the kitchen.

The living room had a wall of built-in bookcases and cabinets from floor to ceiling.  It housed all the books we loved to read:  Reader’s Digest, how-to books, nature books, encyclopedias and all the treasures that I bought from the Weekly Reader and various book fairs we had throughout the year at school.

The curtains on the front windows were made with material from Germany or Austria that one of my dad’s bosses brought back for my mom.  They were pretty, white, lace curtains covered by a heavier material drape.

The entire house was wired for sound.  I mean it was ahead of its time.  We had speakers in the livingroom, kitchen, basement and everywhere else – all hooked up to a stereo system complete with turntable, radio and 8 track.

It was cool!

I loved my new neighborhood and my new friends.

To be continued….

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

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Italian GRAVY! Not sauce.

I wrote this post back in March of 2011 – maybe even before then.

A friend of mine asked for my gravy recipe so I’m going to include it at the end.  Here you go Allie:

Gravy is my comfort food.  When I talk about gravy, I’m talking about the RED stuff you put on macaroni – not brown gravy.  If you’re a North Jersey Italian-AmericanGRAVY is where it’s at.

I was always taught that tomato sauce comes out of a can.  What you put into that tomato sauce makes it gravy.  I firmly believe this with all of my heart.  There was nothing better than a pot of my Grandma’s gravy (or my Mom’s) cooking on the stove on Saturday night and all morning Sunday.  We had our Sunday dinner at 1 pm in our house and the whole house smelled incredible.  Sunday was always macaroni day for my family.

On occasion I remember my mom making roast beef or some other dish on Sunday.  My dad and I were always very disappointed when we didn’t feast on Rotelli or Shells with a big piece of hot Italian sausage and a delicious meatball.  It was torture.

On Saturday night Mommy and Grandma would make the meatballs and brown all the meat in the oven.  My dad and I hung around the kitchen waiting for the meatballs to be ready.  We would grab a small Dixie cup and plop one of those bad boys atop and eat it like a hot ice cream cone.  When Grandma made the Brasciole I would steal the Pignoli nuts that she rolled inside and eat them by the handfuls.  My mother always had to hide the bottle.

Then the gravy-process started in that giant white, porcelain pot set on top of 2 grates so the gravy didn’t burn.  The browning of the garlic rocked as it wafted through the house and the neighborhood (if the windows were open).  Neither used onion or tomato paste (I do) so spices, herbs, crushed tomatoes, water, grated cheese, sugar and the magic ingredient “pepperoni” were all tossed in the pot, brought a strong simmer and cooked for an hour or so before adding all that yummy browned meat.

I watched like a ravenous dog waiting for a treat to drop on the floor as I stared at the CREATION.  Meatballs, hot sausage, sweet sausage, steak, pork bones (spareribs) and sometimes even a piece of veal were blended together to form, quite frankly, a mouth-watering masterpiece.  My mouth is watering now.  Fortunately I learned how to make a kick-ass gravy and meatballs to boot.  I actually went back to my great-grandmother’s recipe and made it my own.  When my husband tells me that I make the best meatballs and gravy that he’s ever eaten, it makes me glow with pride and happiness.

I miss the days when we spent every Sunday having a family dinner in the middle of the afternoon.  I miss that giant bowl of pasta and an equally giant plate of meat.  I miss the good Italian bread and the salad that we ate with or after our meal.  Those were the days.

It’s before everyone got too busy to make time for family.  Weekly quality time with a family who loved you and who you loved back.  The older I get, the more I long for those days as there are more and more of us in the earth than on it anymore.

Every time I smell my gravy cooking on the stove, it fills me with wonderful memories and actually transports me back in time.  I see it.  I hear it. I smell it and I taste it.
Gravy IS my comfort food.
GRAVY is my time machine.

GRAVY IS RED.

So here’s MY recipe… get cooking!

Grandma’s Gravy Via Jacqui 

x virgin olive oil
5-6 garlic cloves minced or sliced
1 handful of fresh basil torn or much less dried basil
1 handful of fresh oregano chopped or much less dried
1/2 handful fresh thyme or less dried
a pinch of red pepper flakes or more
red or white wine
1 can tomato paste
sea salt or grey salt & pepper to taste
1/2 handful sugar or more depending how sweet you like it
3 -4 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes (I like Tuttarosso, Luigi Vitelli, Whole Foods brand or Rienzi)
water – 1/2 can of each can used
1 large onion minced (red or yellow)

Meat:  meatballs (RECIPE HERE), pork & beef brasciole, 1 stick pepperoni – cut in half then in pieces, sausage – also you can add spareribs or a piece of pork, steak etc.
1 c or more of grated pecorino romano

Salt & pepper all meat (except meatballs).  In a large stockpot or dutch oven heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil & brown meat on all sides.  Set aside in a large bowl.

Deglaze the pot with a little red wine and allow to burn off while scraping brown bits off bottom of pot.  Add 2 tbsp olive oil and heat.  Add onions and stir.  Cook until starting to get translucent.  Add garlic, red pepper flakes, any dried spices and a pinch of sugar.  Cook, stirring until garlic starts to brown.  Add can of tomato paste and stir to combine.  Cook for a bit, stirring.

Add crushed tomatoes and approx 1/2 can water per can of crushed tomatoes (for desired consistency).  Add wine (maybe 1/2 c), fresh herbs, salt, rest of sugar, a couple of pieces of pepperoni and grated cheese.  Stir to combine.  Cook until bubbling then lower to a simmer.  Make sure to stir occasionally – do not burn.  Cook for at least a half an hour – ideally 1 hour.

Add all meat and accumulated juices after an hour and cook over low heat – stirring occasionally.  Cook for 1-6 hours.  The longer you cook it, the better it will taste. 

Serve with pasta.

From Jacq’s Kitchen

© 2012 J. H-M. and CultureChoc2010.

Broccoli Rabe & Chicken

Chez moi, we love anything with broccoli rabe.  The dishes are endless.

Last night I realized that I had a fresh head of broccoli di rapa in my fridge, took out some chicken breast and started my creation.

Jacq’s Chicken & Broccoli Rabe

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
flour for dredging
Herbes de Provence
salt & pepper
1 head of broccoli rabe, rinsed and cut up (remove hard stems)
6 garlic cloves, sliced
hot crushed red pepper, to taste
1 chicken bouillon cube
extra virgin olive oil

Butterfly and / or pound breasts to desired thickness.  Season chicken with salt, pepper and Herbes de Provence.  Dredge in flour and shake off excess.

Add olive oil to a hot non-stick pan and cook breasts until they are browned and cooked through.  Do not overcook or the chicken will be dry!  Set aside to keep warm.

Meanwhile, blanche broccoli rabe in salted water for a couple of minutes.  Reserve 1 cup of cooking water – set aside.

Drain greens in a colander – set aside.  In the same pan that you blanched in, add olive oil and heat.  Add red crushed pepper, the bouillon cube and garlic.

Cook until garlic turns golden (do not burn).  Add drained greens, salt to taste and the cooking water that you reserved.  Cover and steam until broccoli rabe is tender and the flavors meld.

Pour over chicken and serve.

Serves 4.

At least that’s what I think I did!  Enjoy!

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Orange

There are some great recipes in Bon Appétit‘s May 2011 issue.

Since I always gravitate to Italian food this month’s article called Maximum Emilia was a godsend.

Bon Appétit May 2011

I came upon a recipe for Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Orange – and even though I doubted the flavor combination – I decided to try it out since I had all the ingredients in my fridge.

The end result was a creamy (but not heavy), delicious pasta with wonderful flavors like salty prosciutto and the sweet orange which seemed to dance on my tongue and interact beautifully.

Here is the recipe via Epicurious.  Let me know how you like it.

Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Orange  Bon Appétit | May 2011

by David Downie

Two seemingly disparate ingredients pair perfectly in this brightly flavored and creamy sauce.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

ingredients

12 ounces egg tagliatelle or fettuccine (preferably fresh)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 1″ pieces
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

preparation

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute before al dente, about 2 minutes for fresh pasta, longer for dried. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto; sauté until browned, about 3 minutes.

Add reserved pasta water, orange juice, half of zest, and cream; bring to a boil. Add pasta; cook, stirring, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and divide among warm bowls.

Are there any flavors that you thought wouldn’t go together but were pleasantly surprised when they did?

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Vanilla Rice Mousse with Strawberries

Never running out of options for summer desserts, I found this easy mousse recipe in La Cucina Italiana…  

Mousse di riso con fragole = vanilla rice mousse with strawberries.

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons rice flour (see note)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, seeds scraped out
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3/4 pound strawberries, cut into 1/8-inch cubes
  • Puffed rice cereal, for garnish

 

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup milk and flour.

 

 In a small saucepan, combine remaining 3/4 cup milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds. Over medium heat, whisking frequently, bring mixture to a simmer, about 3 minutes. Immediately whisk in rice flour mixture, then, whisking constantly, allow mixture to come to a boil; cook, whisking, until thickened, about 2 minutes more. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; put bowl on a wire rack and let mixture cool, about 20 minutes.

 

 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Remove and discard vanilla bean from cooled rice flour mixture; whisk in 1/4 of the whipped cream. Repeat once. In 2 additions, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in remaining cream. Refrigerate mousse until chilled, about 45 minutes or up to 4 hours.

 

 To serve, spoon mousse into serving bowls; top with strawberries and a sprinkle of cereal.

 

 NOTE: Rice flour can be found at some large supermarkets, specialty grocers and health food stores.
I didn’t have Puffed Rice so I garnished with mint leaves from the garden.

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.  Recipe courtesy of La Cucina Italiana May/June 2011.

Shells with Ricotta & Roquefort

Pecorino Romano and a glass of wine

Image via Wikipedia

Stupor-induced cooking is not necessarily a bad thing…

After deciding NOT to go back out on Friday night after I had just got home from an after-work drinking fest, I looked around my kitchen hoping for some notion of dinner that was not too complicated but tasted good.

I didn’t want Chinese again – I ate it earlier that week and in the tradition of ordering way too much Chinese food, I was totally sick of it.

I found a quarter of a box of small shell pasta and some leftover ricotta not yet affected by the blue mold growing on the top of the container.  I boiled the pasta and threw it together with a host of “on hand” items lingering in my pantry just waiting to be used.

I came up with a most delicious and quick macaroni that I hoovered down with the same enthusiasm of a five-star dinner.  I’ll try my best with the measurements.

Jacqui’s Shells with Ricotta & Roquefort

1/2 box small pasta shells
1/4 to 1/2 large container of part-skim ricotta
a good size chunk of Roquefort, broken up
grated Pecorino Romano
Truffle Oil
gray salt & pepper

Boil macaroni until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a bowl mix ricotta, Roquefort, Pecorino, salt & pepper together.  Top with drained, hot pasta, add Truffle Oil and mix well until a creamy mixture is achieved.  Adjust seasonings.

Serves 2-4.

I hope you enjoy it.  Let me know what you think.

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

In Search of the BEST…

While I consider myself to be a rather good chef, I am always in search of the perfect “dish”.  A way to improve which is already yummy and a constant longing for perfection of taste.

I think I’ve perfected my gravy and meatballs, Lasagna, New England Clam Chowder, Soft Polenta and Vodka Sauce to name a few, but I still cannot get 2 plates to the level that I expect them to be.

  1. Bolognese Sauce
  2. Shrimp & Grits

Let’s talk about Bolognese…  I’ve tried a ton of recipes – all good but none great.  Due Amici in Brielle, NJ has a great Bolognese that I can’t seem to duplicate no matter how hard I try.  I search and search for the ideal recipe to no avail.

As far as the fabulous southern dish… I ate the best Shrimp & Grits in Charleston, South Carolina but can’t seem to get it right.  The first recipe I made was done with a homemade fish stock –  it was good.  The second was made with prosciutto and the grits were very close to the way I make Polenta – this dish even better but not stupendous.  I’m going to try a spicy Andouille version next.

I want to prepare knock your socks off Bolognese and Shrimp & Grits (not together mind you) but I need your help.  Can anyone out there recommend any great recipes?

Sincerely,
Desperate for the Best

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net