Rigatoni with Ricotta-Sage Pesto

The Milk Street cookbooks much like the America’s Test Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated cookbooks are almost foolproof when it comes to ingredients, flavors and photos. Obviously this is my palates opinion but I think if you read through a few of them, you’d likely agree. After our trip to Greece I got my sister-in-law (SIL) the Milk Street Tuesday Nights Mediterranean cookbook for her birthday. It seems she cooked her way through it with raved reviews. So I went ahead and checked out the Milk Street Tuesday Nights Weeknight Suppers. Flipping through it in the car I quickly realized that I was going to need to own it, that’s how many recipes struck me as delicious. This recipe was the first one that I made from the book and if you like sage, then this will be your your jam.

Rigatoni with Ricotta-Sage Pesto

INGREDIENTS

6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup chopped fresh sage

3 cups lightly packed fresh parsley

2 tsp grated lemon zest

1 ounce finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta

salt and pepper to taste

12 ounces rigatoni

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

DIRECTIONS

In a small microwave safe bowl, stir together the oil and sage, making sure the sage is completely submerged. Microwave on high just until the oil is hot and the sage is fragrant, about 1 minute. Cool to room temperature.

In a food processor, combine the sage oil mixture and the parsley. Process until finely chopped, about 15 seconds. Add the lemon zest and Parmesan and process until well incorporated. Transfer to a large bowl, stir in the ricotta, one teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper.

Bring your water to a boil and add pasta, cook until pasta is al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid, drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the ricotta mixture, then stir 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. The mixture should be creamy; if needed, adjust with additional cooking liquid. Serve with walnuts and additional Parmesan.

Birthdays Part One {Good Food}

We celebrated both mine and my brothers birthday with the family adults last week. STAKE on Coronado is a chophouse that features aged American and Japanese Wagyu along with other prime cuts. That is kind of redundant because I think wagyu means simply, Japanese cow. But don’t hold me to that.

If I am being transparent, the price range is up there. I was worried that it would be hard to enjoy knowing how much everything cost. That was until I had my first bite of Japanese Wagyu, and then it all made sense.

We managed to get to the restaurant early and have a drink at the bar. I was getting cabin fever so It felt so good to get out.

The family trickled in and we were seated. Ordering a bunch of stuff to share, ahi poke, crab cakes, wedge salad, potatoes, duck and the Wagyu.

We each chose our preferred knife. I went with one made in Japan.

We chowed down while sipping local Syrah.

And then, we were introduced to the best bite of steak in the world.

That piece on the right my friends, was the most incredible bite of steak I have ever had. It was like butter. Rich, umami and intense steak flavor, with melt in your mouth marbling. I am now forever ruined because I know that the rib eye in the fridge will never compare to that bite of meat.

With barely any room for dessert, we persevered with some carrot cake and a lemon tort.

Then we toasted to another year around the sun.

Definitely a dinner to remember.

Speaking of things to remember. This book was so good.

I am not a huge Stephen King fan. I think I’ve liked one or two of his books, same with his movies.

This one however, is so good. We started by listening to the audiobook, but I couldn’t wait for the next road trip to finish it. So I picked it up at the library and finished reading it. I fell in love. I hope that they do it justice if they turn it into a series or a movie. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a new book.

Chrissy’s Newest

In another life we are best friends with Chrissy Teigen (and fam) and Stu Holden (and fam) and it’s amazing. Days full of laughter, kids, cooking and soccer, that is, as the kids say “my jam”.

But since this isn’t another life, I settle with making Chrissy’s recipes and live vicariously through their IG stories, sigh.

I recently tried two recipes from her newest cookbook and per usual, they are delicious.

Thai Beef Jerky and Pink Pasta. The Unicorn milkshakes in her book were requested so that might have to happen soon.

However, the Thai beef jerky was finger lickin. Sticky, sweet and a tad spicy, we ate it with a salad and called it dinner.

*note that her recipe calls for MSG and you can get that at any Asian market or even Vons probably, but I didn’t have any, so I didn’t use it. Still good.

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more)

3/4 teaspoon MSG

2 lbs. boneless skirt steak

vegetable oil for frying

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and MSG.

Cut the skirt steak, against the grain into 1-inch wide strips.

Toss the steak and marinade and let sit at room temp for 30 minutes. * I marinated the meat for a few hours in the fridge and then pulled it out and left at room temp for 30 minutes before cooking.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Arrange a rack on a rimmed baking sheet and spray with nonstick spray. Lay the beef in a single layer. Discard any leftover marinade.

Bake until the meat has shrunk some, about 1-1/2 hours.

Line a large cutting board with paper towels. Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large 4 quart pot. Heat the oil until it reached 350 degrees. Working in batches, fry the meat, stirring it as it cooks, until it darkens and crisps, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Drain on the paper towel lined cutting board, and let cook at least 10 minutes before eating.

Let’s Talk Food

Yes, I know we all just ate an excessive amount of food.

Whether you devoured the traditional Thanksgiving classics, decided to go global with your menu, or maybe you just said f*ck it, and ran off to Vegas for drinks and chips, the other kind ch$ps.

It takes awhile to get back in the mindset to meal plan again, I know because I’m struggling.

But, I do have a couple of recipes for you to jot down, you know, for when you’re ready to eat again.

Starting with….

Whipped Feta Dip with Olive Oil, Thyme and Roasted Toms

*recipe adapted from https://www.spendwithpennies.com/whipped-feta-dip-with-roasted-tomatoes/

INGREDIENTS

TOMS

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic crushed

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (save some for garnish)

Salt and Pepper to Taste

CHEESE DIP

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled or cubed (room temperature)

4 tablespoons cream cheese ( room temperature)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium lemon zested & juiced

1 clove garlic minced

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven 400 degrees Place the tomatoes (toms) on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Add crushed garlic cloves and Thyme. Toss to combine, then roast for 20 minutes OR until tomatoes soft and begin to burst. Allow to cool as is, then remove the thyme and garlic.

While the tomatoes roast, prepare the cheese. In a small bowl, combine the minced garlic with the lemon juice, only if you want.

Combine the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed and smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing, followed by the honey. Then add the lemon juice and garlic mix, salt and pepper.

Process until smooth and airy.

Transfer to a serving dish. Refrigerate until the tomatoes have fully cooled. 

Top the Whipped Feta Dip with cooled, roasted tomatoes.

Serve with anything, pita, crackers, toast, or even just your fingers.

August

Does it seem like time is flying by? Somehow it’s the middle of August and back to school shopping has commenced. I really hope we make it and there isn’t a state wide “oh shit” and we all end up in lockdown again…sigh.

Still plenty of pool days.

A few weeks back we had a blast at Boots in the Park. It was an all day country concert at Waterfront park with five artists/bands. Our seats were amazing, the view was amazing and the reason we went, Old Dominion, were AHmazing! So much fun.

The fountains were on until the sun went down, it provided a cool down when needed.

Ryan Griffin
Dustin Lynch
Scotty McCreery

I made a couple of my favorite recipes to make for guests. One being Chrissy Teigen’s meatloaf from her cookbook Cravings. I am not a meatloaf fan, I mean….meat in a loaf, no thanks. I remember my mom making it when I was young and she put mashed potatoes on top, well I think that’s a memory. Anyhow, I had to douse mine in BBQ sauce to eat it. But this recipe has half ground beef and half spicy Italian sausage along with mushroom and onions. It’s really good, as good as meatloaf can get.

I also made this gazpacho, which is my most favorite of all time recipe for the cold Spanish soup. However, I did tweak a couple of the things from the original recipe to make it my own. It will not disappoint, I promise.

Here is what you need to do.

Grab 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled and wrap them in foil

3 large tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds)

1 medium cucumber ( I use

1 green anaheim pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 medium sweet onion, unpeeled

Throw all of the above ingredients and grill or roast until the skin in charred and they begin to soften. F&W says “about 8 minutes for the tomatoes, cucumber and bell peppers, 10 minutes for the garlic and 15 minutes for the onion.” However I think it takes longer, so allow 30 minutes for this.

Once they are cool enough to handle without you swearing as you burn your fingers, peel and discard any seeds or stems from the veg and then run a knife through them. Then toss them all in your food processor or blender.

Then grab.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1/4 cup chopped Italian Parsley and Basil, plus more for garnish

1 cup cold water

croutons

Salt and freshly ground pepper

While blending add the olive oil, then the vinegar (use sherry vinegar if you can). Taste for salt, i think it always needs more. Add the herbs and taste again. Pour into a big bowl, stir in the cold water and stick it in the fridge until cold and ready to serve.

Serve in individual bowls and drizzle with your best olive oil and garnish with herbs and croutons.

Then watch your guests happily slurp it up. It’s delicious

Please make this and tell me how much you LOVED It!

Sicilian for a Day

I took my first Sur La Table cooking class last weekend. The theme was exploring Sicily which is one place in Italy I have not been. There were six of us in the kitchen and it started out with our chef walking us through the footprint of the class.

After a brief introduction and a quick knife skill refresh for some (obviously not me because I am amazing) we started on our first course.

Caponata, the Sicilian sweet and salty version of ratatouille. The longer it sits the better it gets. Served on a toasted baguette with a drizzle of olive oil, it makes a wonderful starter.

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Second course was a Fennel and cara cara orange Insalata, now I am pretty sure those oranges are not Italian but…..I kept my mouth shut.  Raw fennel isn’t my favorite, I much prefer fennel seeds, but this salad shined.

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The main course was grilled hanger steak with castelvetrano olive tapenade. The castelvetrano olives are Sicily’s most used bright green snacking olive. It has a meaty, buttery and mild flavor, absolutely delish.

We marinated the steak in olive oil, lemon, garlic, fresh herbs and red pepper. Showered it with flaky sea salt and then grilled to our liking, rare obviously.

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The tapenade started with poaching some garlic in olive oil and then we sat it aside to cool. The olives, capers, anchovies, lemon and red wine vinegar all got to know each other in the food processor. Just enough to marry the flavors but still have some texture. It paired very nicely with the grilled steak.

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Dessert was Cannoli tartlets and we actually started them early in the class. We made a basic pastry crust with the addition of some marsala wine. It hung out in the fridge for a half of an hour before we rolled out the dough and cut into small circles and then pressed them into a muffin tin. They baked for about 20 minutes until golden brown and firm.

The filling for the tartlets was a delicious mixture of mascarpone cheese, ricotta, vanilla bean paste, zest of an orange and powdered sugar all whisked together until combined.

The filling was spooned into the tartlet shells and then we sprinkled chopped dark chocolate pieces and pistachios on top. It was very tasty.

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It was a really fun class and I am looking forward to taking another one soon. At the end of class our chef asked me if I was a spy for the Food Network, I asked her why she thought that and she said it’s because my knife skills were great. Insert told you so.

I have already remade the hanger steak and it might be one of my favorite cuts right now, absolutely buttery and delicious.

 

 

 

Bolognese + Garlic Cream Sauce

You know what marriage is? it’s bumping into the same person in your kitchen day after day and not killing them. Also known as true love.

The other night I made a recipe that I got over a year ago with a wine shipment. Dunham cellars in Walla Walla, one of our favorites in town.  Most of the recipes we received from them looked good, but this one I knew I was going to make, I just needed an excuse.

The recipe read like it was a  Bolognese meets Alfredo sauce, where is the fault in that?  My first step after reading a recipe, any recipe is to pick it apart. Most of the time I will counter it with multiple other “similar” recipes and come up with my own ending.

The results were pretty fantastic. Sausage and garlic can do no wrong, just make sure you get an Italian sausage in casing that has fennel, otherwise you’re wasting your time with this dish. I am not sure what my final measurements were so I will give you the original recipe. Do as you wish but don’t leave out the sausage or the red peppers, trust me.

Oh, and for some reason the original recipe is named “Tagliatelle Bolognese”. I am not sure if the person who submitted this recipe couldn’t find Tagliatelle and just grabbed the nearest fettuccine and “forgot” to tell us, or they  just didn’t know. But the two are different. With that, it really won’t matter what you use, although if you can find fresh Tagliatelle than by all means use that. I couldn’t, well I didn’t want to drive down to Little Italy, so I used fresh Fettuccine that I found at Sprouts.

Happy cooking!

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Ingredients

Meat sauce

3 oz. ground beef (crumbled into ½” pieces)
• 3 oz. Italian sausage (crumbled into ½” pieces)
• 1/8 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
• 12 oz. Plum tomatoes (seeded, drained, chopped)
• 1 Tablespoon parsley, minced
• 1 ½ teaspoons garlic, minced
• 3 Tablespoons roasted red pepper (cut into ¼” strips)
• ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• Fresh ground black pepper
• 2 Tablespoons olive oil
• 1 lb. Fettuccine
• Parmesan, finely shredded
• Fresh parsley, chopped

Garlic Cream sauce

• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 cube butter
• 1 pint whipping cream
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Fresh ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:
Meat sauce: Preheat 12” sauté pan over medium high heat. Sprinkle salt over the bottom of the pan to aid in browning and prevent meat from sticking. Add ground
beef and sausage a little at a time. Meat should sizzle and smoke. Let meat brown on one side then stir. Cook to medium rare and drain off excess fat. Add all other
ingredients except olive oil. Simmer uncovered about 30 minutes until thickened. Stir in olive oil and set aside.

Cream sauce: Heat butter in a heavy gauge sauce pan until melted. Add minced garlic and simmer on low heat for 5 to 8 minutes. Add cream, salt and pepper. Let
simmer for 45 minutes until reduced in volume by 10%, stirring often.

Heat meat sauce, then add the cream sauce and heat until it bubbles and reduces. Cook pasta, drain and add to the sauce, thoroughly coating noodles. SERVE IMMEDIATELY. Garnish with shredded parmesan and parsley.

*recipe from Dunham Cellars

Chicken Pot Pie

I decided Easter was a perfect day for me to try my hand at making a pot pie. I told Shane that it will be our Easter tradition. Something the girls can complain about years down the road, having to eat moms chicken pot pie…again. I think that sounds like a great tradition.

I decided they would be indivual per Shane’s request and that I would not make the pie crust from scratch, at least this time because duh. I decided on this Ina Gartens recipe but I did a double crust. The filling was so good it could be eaten on its own so I knew adding pastry was going to make this dish extra ordinary…and it was. 

I only made a few pies so I had quite a bit of filling left and now it’s in the freezer for the next time I want to make one. The store bought pie crust was pretty good, it was no homemade but the easy factor was worth it!