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Italian Free-Form Apple Tart (Crostata Di Mele Alla Romana)


Italian Apple Crostata

I have been taking an Italian cooking series at the Institute of Culinary Education and it’s been an amazing opportunity to make fresh pastas, risottos, sauces and classic Italian dishes and desserts. I’ve decided I want to start baking more and was thrilled to learn how to make a lovely free-form apple tart called Crostata Di Mele Alla Romana. This delicious dessert is basically an Italian version of an apple pie but without a pie dish, made on a baking sheet. Super easy and super delicious, and perfect for the holidays.

The handmade dough is rolled out on to a sheet pan, with a delicious warm apple, rum, butter and cinnamon filling, then topped with a lattice crust and sealed together around the edges with rolled dough. The crusty is golden and flaky, with a buttery cake-like texture and is topped off with sprinkled confectioner’s sugar. You won’t be able to resist the smell of warm apples and cinnamon that permeate the kitchen making this the ultimate comfort food for your friends and family. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Pasta frolla:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
3 large eggs

Apple filling:

3 lbs. tart apples, such as Granny Smith
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp dark rum
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Egg wash:

1 egg well-beaten, with a pinch of salt

For the dough, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until finely mixed in. Add the eggs and continue to pulse until the dough forms a ball. Shape into a disk, wrap the dough and chill it for at least 1/2 an hour.

For the filling, peel, core and slice the apples thinly. In a medium saute pan, combine the apples with the sugar, butter, rum and cinnamon and simmer uncovered, over low heat until the apples exude their juices, about 10 minutes. Continue to simmer until the filling is fairly dry, about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and set a rack in the lower third of the oven. Cover a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment or foil.

making the crostata

Divide the dough in half, roll half into a 12 inch disk and transfer it to the pan. Using a plate or platter as a pattern, cut the dough into a perfect 11-inch circle. Spread the filling to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the dough.

Cut rolled pasta dough

Roll 2/3 of the remaining dough into an 8 by 12-inch rectangle and cut into sixteen 1/2-inch wide strips.

Making the lattice crust

Brush the strips with egg wash and arrange them on the filling in a diagonal lattice. Use the remaining dough and scraps to make a long cylinder.

Making the tart dough edge

Egg wash the edge of the tart and apply the cylinder. With the back of a knife, make diagonal impressions in the cylinder.

Bake the tart until the dough is nicely colored, about 30 minutes.

Italian Free Form Apple Tart

Top with powdered confectioner’s sugar, let cool slightly and slice. Serve with French vanilla ice cream.

*Note: You can also substitute 2 1/2 lbs pitted sour cherries or blueberries, (fresh or frozen) for the apples.

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Big Pot ‘o Goodness: Pasta Fagioli


Pasta Fagioli

Cooking is one of my favorite things to do in the Winter – there’s something comforting about the delightful smells that warm up my apartment on a cold, dreary day. Pasta Fagioli is an Italian soup made with herbs, beans, pasta, tomatoes, garlic and broth, topped off with some fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. And it’s easy to make too – just throw all the ingredients in a large soup pot and cook it slow and low for an hour or so. The end result is a big pot ‘o goodness to warm up your toes.

Pasta Fagioli

Extra virgin olive oil
1/3 pound pancetta, diced
1 onion, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
1 cup chicken broth, low sodium
1 spring rosemary
2-3 springs fresh thyme
cheesecloth, for rosemary and thyme herb sachet
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pound ditalini pasta (or any short-tube pasta)
Basil leaves, torn for garnish
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish
Extra olive oil, for drizzling

Coat a large, wide pot with olive oil and add pancetta. Bring to a medium heat and cook the pancetta until it starts to crisp, 4-5 minutes. Toss in the onion and season with salt and red pepper; cook until the onion is soft and aromatic, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add tomatoes and 1 cup of chicken broth, rosemary and thyme sprigs (in cheesecloth sachet), season with salt and black pepper, and bring to a boil; then reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the herbs sachet and discard.

Add the cannellini beans and chickpeas to the pot and cook for 20 minutes more.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta two-thirds of the way until it is still fairly hard in the center. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Add pasta and cooking water to the pot with the tomatoes and the beans and continue to cook until the pasta is done, another 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with some torn basil leaves, grated Parmigiano cheese and drizzle with some extra olive oil for garnish.

Serves 4-6.

Recipe adapted from Anne Burrell, Cook Like a Rock Star

Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes


Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, one of my favorite holidays of the year. Celebrating thanks with friends and family around the table with a feast of delicious food – it doesn’t get any better. There’s so much for me to be thankful for: my health, my job, my friends, family and loved ones, the roof over my head, the amazing places I have traveled to and the people and things I have experienced along the way, and the mere fact that every day is a new adventure, with hopefully many more to come.

Throughout the years I have collected my favorite recipes from my family, friends and cookbooks, as well as created a few of my own. I want to share these with you to enjoy just as I have, wishing all my readers a delicious holiday filled with thanks this year..Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Soup with Blue Cheese Toasts

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 tbsp minced shallots
3 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small baguette, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
blue cheese crumbles

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add onions, celery, carrots and shallots. Saute over moderate heat until onions become transparent. Add canned pumpkin, broth and water. Cook until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and puree the mixture in a blender or processor. Return the mixture to saucepan, add chopped thyme and cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reheat over low heat until hot, do not boil. Place baguette slices on baking sheet and broil until golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven and sprinkle the toasts generously with blue cheese crumbles. Serve soup with toasts floating on top as garnish.

Serves 4-6.

Recipe from Whole Foods Market

Orange-Romaine Salad with Walnuts and Bacon

1 (10 oz.) package of chopped romaine lettuce
6 green onions, sliced
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
1/4 c. walnut pieces or pine nuts (lightly toasted)
4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Orange Vinaigrette
1/3 cup of red wine vinaigrette
1/3 cup of fresh orange juice (from 1 orange)
2 tsp sugar or sweetener

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts in an even layer onto a baking sheet and roast for approx. 15 mins until golden brown. Set aside.

Preheat a saute pan and cook bacon until crispy, crumble and set aside.

Slice green onions, and peel and section oranges.

To make orange vinaigrette, whisk together red wine vinaigrette, fresh orange juice and sugar.

Toss together all ingredients, top with crumbled bacon and toasted nuts.

Serves 8.

Butternut Squash Puree

3 butternut squash, halved and seeded
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 small shallots, halved
4 tablespoons orange blossom honey
6 sprigs fresh thyme
pinch of ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Heat oven to 400° F. Place the squash skin down onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Season with the salt and pepper and top with the shallots, honey, thyme, pinch of cinnamon and butter.

Cover the squash with foil. Roast until softened, 45 to 60 minutes. Uncover and set aside until cool enough to handle. Working in batches, scoop some of the softened squash and shallots from the peels into a mixing bowl.

Puree the squash mixture with a blender until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl. Repeat with the remaining squash and shallots. Serve warm.

Serves 6-8.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple and Food Network.

Broccoli Casserole

2 eggs, beaten
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tbsp butter, melted
3 cups of broccoli, chopped (frozen or fresh)
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine first 7 ingredients, fold in the broccoli. Transfer to a greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish.

In a medium saute pan, melt 2 tbsp butter and add bread crumbs, stir. Toast breadcrumbs until lightly golden, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the broccoli mixture and bake for 30-35 minutes until bubbly and heated through.

Serves 8.

Buttery Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

1 head garlic
drizzle of olive oil
3 lbs. baking potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold)
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tbsp minced chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the head of garlic in half and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap garlic in foil and place in a small baking dish, bake for 30-45 minutes until the garlic cloves are soft. Set aside.

Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks and bring to boil in a large covered saucepan with salted water. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender and pierce easily with a knife. Drain the potatoes well and return to the pan, over medium-low heat to remove any excess moisture.

In a large mixing bowl, place potatoes, butter, squeezed roasted garlic bulbs and half of the milk. Whip with a hand blender on high speed, slowly adding in the rest of the milk until potatoes have a creamy consistency.

Mix in the chives, salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with additional butter if desired.

Serves 6.

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma, Comfort Food

Creamed Corn with Bacon and Garlic

4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
2 cups of sweet corn (white and yellow mix)
1 tbsp bacon fat or olive oil
2 tsp garlic, chopped
2 tbsp sweet onion, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
sweet paprika, for garnish
2 tbsp chives, chopped fine for garnish (can also substitute fresh mint)

Cook bacon in a pre-heated saute pan over medium-high heat, drain on paper towels and set aside.

Remove all but 2 tbsp of bacon fat in the pan, add the garlic and onions and saute until soft and golden.

Puree 1 cup of corn in a blender, and add with the additional corn kernels into the pan with the onions and garlic, saute for 3-4 minutes.

Chop the bacon into a medium dice and add to the corn, garlic and onions mixture.

Finish the mixture in the pan with heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste, stirring through.

Garnish with paprika and chopped chives or mint.

Serves 4-6.

Roasted Turkey and Gram’s Sausage Sage Stuffing

1 c. butter (2 sticks)
¾ c. finely minced onion
12 c. coarse bread, torn into cubes, crusts removed
1 ½ c. chopped celery (stalks and leaves)
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. poultry seasoning (to taste)
1/2 tbsp. dried sage or 1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped fine
1 can chicken broth
¼ c. hot water
1 lb. pork sausage, browned and crumbled

12 lb turkey
butter, softened
salt
sage, dried
thyme, dried
basil, dried
fresh ground pepper (black and white)
cayenne pepper

In a large roasting pan, break up bread into coarse cubes (about 2-3 loaves). Heat a large heavy skillet over medium high heat and brown pork sausage until cooked thoroughly. Remove the sausage and pour over the large roasting pan full of bread crumbs.

Next melt 2 sticks of butter in the same skillet that the sausage was browned in and cook onions and celery until soft and lightly browned, stirring often. Add salt and pepper and stir again, remove from heat and pour on top of bread crumb and sausage in the roasting pan.

Add the chicken broth, poultry seasoning, sage, additional salt and pepper to taste and stir thoroughly throughout crumbs and stuffing mixture. Add ¼ c. hot water to stuffing until moist (not wet but not too dry of a texture). Cover roasting pan and let sit in the refrigerator over night.

The next day, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep the turkey by rubbing it all over with butter. Wrap ends of legs and wings with aluminum foil to prevent burning while cooking. Sprinkle salt, sage, thyme, basil, and three peppers (black, white and cayenne) onto turkey and rub in well.

Loosely stuff the turkey with stuffing just before roasting and add any leftover stuffing to a roasting pan. Cook the turkey breast down for the first 45 minutes, basting occasionally with poultry juices. Place leftover stuffing in a roasting pan, cover with foil and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, basting with turkey juices to keep it moist. Rotate turkey on its side and cook another 15 minutes, flipping sides and cooking on the other side for another 15 minutes. Flip the bird over breast up and keep basting and roasting the turkey about another 30 minutes until temperature reads 165 degrees in the breast and 170-175 in the deepest part of the thigh. Remove stuffing in roasting pan and turkey. Allow turkey to rest 20-25 minutes on a carving board before serving.

And don’t forget to make a homemade gravy with the crunchy brown bits and pan drippings (skim off the top layer of fat first), by adding a 1/3 cup of flour and 1-2 tbsp of butter, stirring for a few minutes to make a roux, then slowly add in the liquid (1-2 cups of chicken stock, some brandy or 1 cup white wine, 1 tbsp of cider vinegar and a little salt and pepper to taste) Whisk it into a creamy goodness right in the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat for about 7-8 minutes until it thickens, and serve hot on the side with the turkey and stuffing. Yum!

Makes 3 quarts of stuffing for a 12 lb turkey

Gram’s Stuffing recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook, 1962

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pie

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3-5 tbsp ice water

For the filling:
3 tbsp all purpose flour
3 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 3 tbsp ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (you can add additional ice water if necessary, up to 2 tbsp, 1 at a time); do not overmix. Form dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12 inch round. Place in a 9 inch pie plate, fold overhang under, and crimp edges. Prick dough all over with a fork. Place a sheet of parchment paper over dough and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edge is light golden brown about 15 minutes; remove parchment and weights.

Make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, eggs and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in buttermilk, nutmeg and cinnamon until combined. In a small saucepan, heat butter over medium, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown and most of the foam has subsided, 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately whisk into buttermilk mixture. Pour filling into pie shell and bake until set but still wobbly in center, 25-35 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, 2 hours before serving. Can be refrigerated and wrapped in plastic for up to 3 days.

Serves 8.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, November 2011

Spiced Mulled Wine

1 bottle red wine (Merlot or Cabernet)
1 tsp almond extract
2 cinnamon sticks, plus a few extra for garnish
3 whole cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp honey

Pour wine into a double boiler (a metal mixing bowl over boiling water in a saucepan) and warm over medium heat.

Add the almond extract, spices and honey and stir until dissolved. Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently, stirring on occasion.

Serve in heat-resistant glasses or mugs, garnish with additional cinnamon sticks, if desired.

Serves 4-6.

Classic Comfort Food:: Beef Stroganoff


Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff is a dish that always reminds me of home  – my mother used to make this on cold winter nights as a special treat for my Dad who is a total ‘meat and potatoes guy’ – obsessed with anything including beef, noodles and gravy. Maybe it’s a German-Polish thing?? She oftentimes prepared this dish with ground beef for a quick and easy dinner, but I’ve adapted her recipe a bit by adding a few extra ingredients to make my own savory version by adding some wine, fresh garlic and thyme. True comfort food for a chilly night, just like Mom made it.

Ingredients:

½ lb. fresh white mushrooms, sliced (2 cups)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp butter
¼ c. flour
2 lbs. round steak (sliced ¼”-1/2” thick)
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/3 c. red wine
1 1/2 c beef broth
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped fine
1 c. sour cream
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped fine
1 package wide egg noodles

Preparation:

Boil a large pot of water and cook egg noodles per directions. While water is boiling, heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion, mushrooms and garlic until soft in 2 tbsp butter and remove from pan. Cut steak into strips 2 ½” long and ¾” wide. Melt remaining 2 tbsp butter in pan. Toss steak strips in flour and coat. Brown meat in butter until well browned on both sides. Add salt and pepper, worcestershire, wine and broth. Simmer on low, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender (about 1 ¼ hours). Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, thyme and parsley and cook approximately 7 mins, until sauce thickens. Add sour cream, stir until smooth and remove from heat. Serve over hot buttered egg noodles and garnish with more parsley. Enjoy with some crusty bread, a green salad and a glass of red wine.

To make a casserole: combine beef stroganoff mixture with cooked egg noodles with butter and spoon into a greased casserole dish. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees in the oven and then top casserole with crunchy fried onions and bake 10 mins more until onions are crunchy and golden brown.

Serves 6-8.

Other Beef Stroganoff Recipes you may enjoy:

Epicurious Beef Stroganoff

Rachel Ray’s Beef Stroganoff

Williams Sonoma Beef Stroganoff 

 

Crazy Good :: Truffle Oil, Pancetta & Three Cheese Pasta


Truffle Oil, Pancetta & 3 Cheese Pasta

I can’t remember the first time I tried anything made with truffles, but now and then I find myself lusting after these lovely things – strange? maybe. but let me tell you why..

Truffles have an intoxicating scent and flavor that is indescribable, and make any dish the most delicious thing you will ever experience in your lifetime. I’m not even a huge mushroom fan, but truffles somehow induce euphoria every time I taste or smell them. Unfortunately truffles are pricey, and usually reserved for a special occasion or night out but I felt the urge to splurge and make this dish on an ordinary night, just because.

The nutty, savory and buttery flavor of the truffle oil goes perfect with the trio of parmesan, sharp cheddar and mascarpone cheese making a luscious creamy sauce for the pasta. The pancetta gives the pasta a nice smoky flavor with less fat than regular bacon, and the garlic and onion give it another layer of awesome flavor. Topped off with some golden brown buttery crumbs then baked to perfection, and you’ve got a truly divine, grown up pasta dish that will blow your Mama’s Mac and Cheese away.

Oh, and be prepared to swoon upon first bite.

Ingredients

1 stick of butter
6 slices of pancetta, chopped
1 c. of onion, chopped fine
1 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3 1/2 c. whole milk
2 1/2 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 8-8.8 oz container mascarpone cheese
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cayenne
Dash of sweet paprika
Kosher Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 c. japanese panko breadcrumbs
1/2 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley (or 1 tbsp dried)
4 tbsp white truffle oil
1 lb. tube pasta (macaroni, penne, rigatoni, or your choice)

Cheese Sauce

In a large saucepan, melt 1 tbsp of butter and saute pancetta over medium-high heat until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Remove pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Sauteed Pancetta

Add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and saute for another minute.

Sauteed Onions, Garlic and Red Pepper

Stir in 3 tbsp of butter and let melt, then add flour and stir 1 minute to make a roux (thickener for the cheese sauce). Gradually whisk in 3 1/2 cups of milk and simmer until sauce thickens (stirring often) for 5 minutes, and then remove pan from heat.

Three Cheese Sauce

Whisk in cheddar, mascarpone and parmesan cheeses until smooth, and add a little more milk if the cheese sauce seems too thick. Sprinkle in a dash of nutmeg, a dash of cayenne and a dash of paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir and remove from heat.

Crumb Topping

In a medium skillet, melt 4 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Add panko breadcrumbs and stir through so that the butter coats all the crumbs, and they turn a light golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Toasted Breadcrumbs

Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh or dried parsley, set aside.

Pasta

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 13×9 casserole or glass baking dish with cooking spray or butter. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente for 5-8 minutes. Drain the pasta and shock with cold water.

White Truffle Oil

Place pasta into the casserole dish and coat with the truffle oil.

Add Pancetta to the Pasta

Toss in the pancetta…(mmmm!)

Three Cheese sauce

Pour in the cheese sauce…(dreamy!)

Baked to Perfection

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the pasta and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Heaven on a Plate

Let cool for a few minutes, and dig in! (you’ll never be the same)

Serves 8.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Pasta Favorites, 2010.

Smokin’ Chipotle Homestyle Meatloaf


Smokin' Chipotle Homestyle Meatloaf

Fall is finally here – the time of year when sweaters and jeans come out of the closet. Cooler mornings and evenings are a nice break from the Summer heat. And most of all, my craving for some homey comfort food is on the rise! When I think of classic comfort foods, Meatloaf is one of those meals that comes to mind. It reminds me of when I was a kid, when my Mom used to make it for dinner on a chilly night.

To spice things up a little bit, this recipe has a delicious smoky Chipotle glaze, with shallots and garlic, giving it a nice kick and a unique flavor. It goes great with a side of mashed potatoes and buttery corn or some roasted baby potatoes and root vegetables. You can make the glaze ahead of time, and even make a little extra to use as a barbeque glaze on chicken, beef or pork dishes. You might even want to experiment with a mixture of ground veal, pork and beef to give it more flavor – but this recipe works with ground beef because the Chipotle sauce gives it such a great flavor. Great with a dash of hot sauce too if you like it spicier!

Ingredients

Glaze:

¼ c Chipotle Sauce (Tavern on the Green)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp ketchup
2 tbsp light brown sugar

Meatloaf:

2 lbs ground beef
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 large eggs, whisked
1 tsp ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 c breadcrumbs or ground whole wheat cereal (Chex or Fiber One)
1 1/2 tsp Paula Deen House seasoning (salt, pepper, onion, garlic powder)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Preheat a small sauté pan over medium heat.

In a small bowl, mix together glaze ingredients and set aside.

Chop shallots and garlic. Melt 2 tbsp butter in sauté pan. Cook shallots for about 5 minutes until lightly golden brown and soft. Lower sauté pan heat to low, add chopped garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce,  breadcrumbs (or cereal), Paula Deen House seasoning; add onions and garlic. Mix well and place mixture in a baking pan coated with cooking spray, forming a loaf. (You can also place the mixture in a loaf pan if you want a perfect rectangular shaped meatloaf).

Brush glaze over meatloaf and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush additional glaze over meatloaf; cook another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let meatloaf rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve. Add additional glaze on top before serving if desired.

Serves 8.

Other Meatloaf Recipes you may enjoy:

Aretha Franklin’s Holiday Meatloaf
Alton Brown’s Good Eats Meatloaf
Recipe Girl’s Turkey Meatloaf
Simply Recipes Classic Meatloaf
Kalyn’s Kitchen Best Meatloaf Recipe
Bobby Flay’s Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze

Slow Cooked Goodness on a Chilly Night


Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs

This is a really easy to make hearty meal for a chilly winter night. All you need are some gorgeous beef short ribs, onions, tomatoes, vinegar and brown sugar and a few other ingredients – throw them all in the slow cooker on low and let this dish stew for about 4-5 hours. Make sure you’re hungry – it’s filling, warm and delicious. Definitely food coma material!

slow cooked short ribs

1/3 c. water

¼ c. tomato paste

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp prepared mustard

2 tsp seasoned salt (Paula Deen’s House Seasoning)

2 tsp cider vinegar

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp beef bouillon granules

1 tsp chopped garlic

1 can Belgian mini baby carrots, drained

2 lbs beef short ribs

1 small tomato, chopped (or 1 small can crushed tomatoes)

1 small onion, chopped

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp cold water

1 small bag Yukon gold baby potatoes

In a 3 qt. slow cooker, combine the first 10 ingredients. Add the ribs, tomato and onion.
Cover and cook on low for 4.5 hours or until meat is tender.

Cook baby Yukon potatoes in boiling water for approximately 5-10 mins. Drain.
Cut in halves and quarters and add to slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch
and cold water until smooth; gradually. Stir into cooking juices. Cover and cook for 10-15
minutes or until thickened.

Serve in big bowls with some crusty French bread and a side salad. Add a glass of bold red
and you’ve got a heartwarming dish to get you through any cold winter night.

Crumbs of wisdom for good Stuffing


Gram’s Sausage Stuffing

This is a recipe handed down from my Grandmother that originated from Betty Crocker’s “New Picture” Cookbook written in 1962. My Mom still makes it every year and it’s a easy, delicious and classic recipe that I’m sure to hand down for years ahead.

Betty Crocker cookbook

Ingredients:

1 c. butter (2 sticks)

¾ c. finely minced onion

12 c. coarse bread, torn into cubes, crusts removed

1 ½ c. chopped celery (stalks and leaves)

1 tbsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tbsp. poultry seasoning (to taste)

1 can chicken broth

¼ c. hot water

1 lb. pork sausage, browned and crumbled

Preparation:

In a large roasting pan, break up bread into coarse cubes (about 2-3 loaves).

stuffing cubes

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium high heat and brown pork sausage until cooked thoroughly.
Remove the sausage and pour over the large roasting pan full of bread crumbs.

sausage crumbles

Next melt 2 sticks of butter in the same skillet that the sausage was browned in and cook onions and celery until soft and lightly browned, stirring often. Add salt and pepper and stir again, remove from heat and pour on top of bread crumb and sausage in the roasting pan.

onions & celery

Add the chicken broth, poultry seasoning, additional salt and pepper to taste and stir thoroughly throughout crumbs and stuffing mixture. Add ¼ c. hot water to stuffing until moist (not wet but not too dry of a texture).

poultry

Cover roasting pan and let sit in the refrigerator over night. The next day, loosely stuff the turkey with stuffing just before roasting and add any leftover stuffing to a roasting pan and cook for about 30-45 mins, basting occasionally with poultry juices.

stuffing mixture

Additional suggested ingredients for the stuffing are adding one of the following: giblets, apples,
oysters, pecans, garden vegetables, mushrooms, and chestnuts.

Makes 3 qts for a 12 lb turkey

A Few of My Favorite Thanksgiving Sides


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and there’s no guessing why – it’s all about visiting friends and family, being thankful for the wonderful things in our lives and of course, it’s all about the food.

Turkey and Dressing is the normal star of the table, but I love to experiment with the side dishes to mix it up and spice up the menu each year. Here’s a couple of recipes I plan on making this year (one tried and true, one a new experiment!)..would love to hear from all of you what your favorite side dishes are and what you’ll be making this year that’s a change from just mashed potatoes and green bean casserole!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon & Shallots 

brussel sprouts with bacon, shallots and balsamic vinegar

I made this recipe a couple Thanksgivings ago and it was an absolute delicious hit at the table! The crispy bacon, butter and shallots, mixed with the tangy vinegar gives the brussel sprouts an amazing trio of flavors and the roasting in the oven technique cooks down the balsamic into a glaze coating the crispy oven browned sprouts. The original recipe came from Williams Sonoma and I adapted it a bit by adding the balsamic vinegar and shallots. Thought you didn’t like brussel sprouts? Wait until you try this recipe.

Ingredients:

Water to steam
1 pound large Brussels sprouts
2 ounces thin-sliced pancetta or bacon (3-4 slices)
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon premium unsalted butter
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste

Preparation:

Add water to a large pot with a steamer basket and bring to a boil.

Trim the sprouts: Slice off the base and remove the outer leaves. Cut each sprout in half lengthwise through the core, then make V-shaped cuts to remove the core. With your thumbs on the either side of the V, twist the sprout to open up the leaves a bit. Steam the sprouts for 5 minutes until bright green and tender.

Meanwhile, saute the sliced pancetta or bacon over medium heat in a small skillet until the edges have started to brown, breaking it into pieces with a spatula while it cooks. Remove the cooked bacon and reserve the bacon grease, adding a teaspoon of butter and then add the shallots and cook until soft and golden.

Drain the water from the steamer and plunge sprouts into ice water to stop the cooking, pat dry with paper towels and return the sprouts to the hot pan. Stir in with the pancetta and shallot mixture, including the fat in the skillet. Add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook until the vinegar reduces and the sprouts are brown on the bottom, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and hot sauce and toss well.

Put the entire mixture in to a casserole baking dish and cook in the oven for 20 mins on 350 degrees until golden brown. Take out of the oven, drizzle a little more olive oil on top, stir well and serve.

Serves 4-6.

Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Potato Gratin

Everyone loves mashed potatoes and gravy for Thanksgiving but this year I decided I’m going to make a Gratin, but mix it up with not just potatoes and cheese, but adding some butternut squash and sweet potatoes to give it a kick and blended flavors of 3 of my favorite veggie sides. The decadent consistency of the garlic Gruyere cream sauce with this trio of veggies is a delicious twist on this classic French potato dish.

Ingredients:

1 garlic clove
½ tsp. sweet paprika
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of nutmeg
1/3 lb. baking potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
1/3 lb. butternut squash, peeled and very thinly sliced
1/3 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Thoroughly rub garlic on the bottom and sides of a shallow porcelain gratin dish or medium sized glass casserole dish. Coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle the nutmeg and paprika in the heavy cream and stir. Peel the potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash and cut them into thin slices.

Layer the potatoes in the dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese and then 1/3 of the cream. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a second layer using the squash, another 1/3 of the cheese and then 1/3 of the cream. Sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Add the top layer using the sweet potatoes, the last 1/3 of the cheese and final 1/3 of the cream. Top it off with a dash more salt and pepper. Sprinkle the entire top of the casserole with fresh Parmiagiano-Reggiano cheese and chopped parsley or thyme.

Bake uncovered, about an 50-60 minutes until the gratin is golden brown on top and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

Wild Rice with Pecans and Cranberries

Wild Rice with Pecans and Cranberries

My mom always used to make a wild rice casserole over the holidays with either chicken or shrimp which is delicious as a main course or buffet dinner, but for a Thanksgiving side, this recipe is a bit lighter with tart cranberries to complement the turkey and some pecans for extra crunch.

4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon grape seed oil
3 large shallots minced
2 cups wild rice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 bay leaf
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup pecans toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

In a saucepan over medium low heat bring stock to a simmer. In a heavy 2-quart flameproof casserole over medium heat melt butter with the oil. Add shallots and sauté until translucent, add rice and stir until the grains are well coated about 3 minutes.

Stir in the simmering stock, dried cranberries, bay leaf, thyme, sea salt and white pepper. Bring to a simmer then stir and cover. Transfer casserole to the oven and bake 45 minutes. Remove from oven.

Remove and discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Stir in the pecans and parsley. Serve hot or warm.

Serves 4-6.

Cheddar and Herb Biscuits

cheddar biscuits

I found this recipe on Food Network website for The Neely’s Cheddar and Herb Biscuits. Having lived in the South in Atlanta for over a decade, I grew a love for fresh, homemade buttery biscuits. They definitely beat your standard prepackaged rolls from the grocery store and are delicious hot out of the oven with a little bit of real (yes, real!) butter. This version is made with buttermilk and fresh herbs (chives and parsley), mixed with tangy shredded cheddar and a dash of cayenne for a spicy kick. Yum!

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley leaves
3/4 cup grated sharp yellow Cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cayenne together using a whisk. Add the herbs, cheese and buttermilk. Stir together until dough forms. Once dough has formed, using an ice cream scooper, scoop out dough onto baking tray. With a brush, lightly butter tops. Bake for 15 minutes.

Serves 4-6.

Recipe from The Neely’s – Food Network

Lobster anyone?


Luke’s Lobster – East Village, NYC

Lukes Lobster E Vlg

One visit to Luke’s Lobster, in the East Village, NYC and you’ll see why this new casual seafood shack has become such a big hit in New York. The restaurant opened in October 2009, by Maine native Luke Holden, and all of their seafood is imported from Luke’s father’s business in Maine, Portland Shellfish. Luke’s aim is to keep prices reasonable compared to its competitors which has enticed New Yorkers to splurge for their famous Lobster Rolls.

luke's sign

An A-frame menu stands outside the doorway with menu specials for the day sprawled in chalk handwriting and inside this small seafood shack is one center table, seating six, surrounded by an L-shaped stool bar along the walls and windows seating approximately 10-15 more. Not very large inside, but Luke’s Lobster fits the New England seafood shack image, with a trendy East Village location on 1st Ave. and 7th Street.

lobster, shrimp and crab rolls

The most popular menu item is their signature Lobster Roll, followed by their Crab Roll and Shrimp Roll, which are all offered a la carte for $7-14, or as a “Schooner Combo” including chips and a pickle for $9-16 (Lobster is the most expensive, Shrimp the least). Besides their famous Rolls, the menu also offers two homemade rich and creamy soups in bread bowls: Maine Lobster Bisque and New England Clam Chowder. The Empress Crab Claws can be ordered solo (4 for $5) or in a combination basket such as “Taste of Maine” including a trio sampler of each Seafood roll (1/2 portion), two crab claws, chips and a drink for $20. Order “Noah’s Ark” for two and you get the same sampling for $38. They feature Maine Root Soda in a variety of flavors, and Miss Vickie’s Chips, a Maine-based potato chip company, to keep the New England heritage and theme consistent in this trendy seafood shack.

Upon visiting last weekend, Luke’s seemed to be fairly empty around 10 pm on a Saturday night, which seemed a bit surprising, if not concerning, considering this was my first visit to the shack (a bit late in the season which could be the reason for its empty stools). But no complaints to the bare establishment, as we ordered and were served in less than 10 minutes. My friend and I ordered the “Noah’s Ark” which looked authentically “shack-like”, served in a plastic basket lined by a sheet of wax paper, including 3 decent sized half rolls of Shrimp, Crab and Lobster. The two mini crab claws were served in a plastic sauce container along with another filled with cocktail sauce on the side for dipping. I dove in to the Lobster Roll first, and on first bite, tasted succulent and sweet Lobster meat, lightly seasoned with savory spices, on a perfectly toasted, buttery roll. The meat was fresh and light, with only a dab of mayo and a special secret seasoning which was refreshing and delicious. The Shrimp and Crab rolls had nice, medium-sized shrimp and chunks of crabmeat, and the portions were just right. The Sea Salt & Vinegar chips that came with it had a nice, tangy, salty flavor to accompany the rolls, and the Maine Root Soda (blueberry) added a refreshing, homespun flavor to the meal, as if we were sitting near the ocean on a summer day.

All in all, the service was quick – the baskets were delivered to our stools, by a friendly server with a smile, but the atmosphere seemed a bit mediocre (the fluorescent lighting a bit annoying and the bare stools next to us begged for some more patrons to liven the place up a bit) and the menu is a bit limited. I would recommend a visit to this tasty gem, but in the summer time when seafood is a bit more tempting as menu fare and earlier in the evening when the East Village is humming on a steamy summer night, to make the experience a bit more authentic and exciting. But who isn’t in the mood for a juicy lobster roll anytime of the year right?

Overall atmosphere rating = 7 out of 10

Overall food rating = 8 out of 10

Overall service rating = 7 out of 10

Locations: Upper East Side (7th St and 1st) and East Village (E. 81st and 2nd)

Delivery: UES only

Reservations: No

Website: www.lukeslobster.com

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