Category Archives: Hearty

Italian Easter Pie

ProciuttoA Lot of EggsPie CrustMozzarellaRicottaPecorino Romano
Cheese & Meat MixEggMeat, Cheese, EggInto the CrustDSC_1030Top Crust
Pizza RusticaSoppresatta

Italian Easter Pie, a set on Flickr.

A traditional Italian Pie served on Easter – also known as Pizza Rustica. They’re all similar in the fact that it’s meat and cheese baked into a crust. The differences lie in the type of meats and cheese used and the crust it’s baked in. This is a simple version that features ricotta, mozzarella, pecorino Romano, soppressata, dry sausage, prosciutto, and is baked in a pie crust. Very tasty, easy, and makes a great addition to the Easter spread.

..Happy Easter..


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Mezzi Rigatoni Tossed w/ Sausage, Grape Tomatoes, and Fresh Mozzarella

Leftover ingredients + forced creativity = awesome unexpected dinner. I had sausage from the Scarpariello frozen and fresh mozzarella + sauce leftover from pizza Friday night. Plus, I wanted to use some of the goodies that I made recently like chicken stock and roasted peppers. A little kitchen alchemy and viola a new dish is born!

Prep time: 5mins
Cook time: 15mins

Get yourself:

  • 1lb Sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1lb Mezzi Rigatoni
  • 2C Tomato sauce
  • 2C Fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 1C Roasted peppers, drained, rinsed, sliced into strips
  • 2C Grape tomatoes
  • 1C Chicken broth
  • 6 Cloves roasted garlic, mashed or 3 cloves fresh minced
  • 1T Olive oil
  • 1T Capers, non-salted
  • 1T Dry oregano
  • 1T Chopped parsley
  • 1t Garlic powder
  • 1t Asian Chili-Garlic sauce
  • 1t Smoked paprika
  • S&cracked pepper

Printable Recipe

Split open the casing and pull out the goodness

Mix it up so there aren’t any big chunks and give this a rough chop

Heat the oil and garlic over medium-high for ~2mins

Toss in the sausage and brown

Once you have some nice caramelization on the sausage…

Sprinkle on your smoked paprika

Toss in the whole grape tomatoes

These little guys are great; they burst in your mouth while eating

A little special effects for the dinner table

Add in the roasted peppers and capers and saute for ~1min

Your pasta should be in the water by now…

For the sauce…

Add in tomato sauce, chicken broth, oregano, and s&p…

…and if you want some heat add in……some chili garlic sauce

Believe me when I tell you a little goes a LONG way

This stuff is badass; you can pick it up at Shop Rite in the ethnic food aisle

Stir it all up

Bring to a boil for ~2mins

Reduce to simmer for ~10mins

Sauce should have thickened a bit

Taste and adjust for seasoning (add in the garlic powder if you feel it needs it)

Drain pasta and add back to pot

Place over medium-low flame

Quickly toss in your fresh mozzarella, parsley, and stir it all up

Mozz will begin to melt

Keep stirring

Scoop some of that oozy, cheesy deliciousness into a bowl

It’s like a festival of goodness happening on the plate and in your mouth…

…little grape tomatoes burst sweet juice that balances out the brine and tang of the capers, as well as the saltiness of the sausage…

…creamy, silky, melty, oozy fresh mozzarella bonds everything together…

…mezzi rigatoni’s large empty cavity is like a basket that fills up with goodness…

…smoked paprika gives the dish a great smokey earthiness and the chili sauce heats it all up…

…you’re gonna have to taste it for yourself…

Enjoy!

(Post) Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day Objectives: RELAX and EAT.

…and so we did…all day.

We decided to kick things off with leftover cinnamon rolls from the Pioneer Woman (wifey froze half of the disturbingly delicious cinnamon roll dough from last time). Perfect.

And so the deliberate yet destructive eating began…

Our next venture was Oreo cookies…homemade, super chocolate-y, creamy, straight up milk dunkin’ OREO’s!…yea that’s right I made ’em and even colored the center…pause. Thanks to a little inspiration from Smitten Kitchen, I whipped up a big batch of V-day O’s, all pun intended…

The day turned to night…

We started dinner off with a lite, weight watchers friendly appetizer…

Swiss fondue with homemade bread

Take bread, dip repeatedly in warm, melty, gooey cheese. groan.

Repeat.

Note: Use a fondue pot if you have one. I battled it out with the cheese in this sauce pot for a good 20mins. You see, stainless steel pots heat too quickly and if the cheese gets too hot too fast it seizes up. I had to beat the seize outta my cheese. Here’s the recipe (click the pic to enlarge)…

Needless to say, dinner did not come immediately after. As a matter of fact, we both fell into a deep food coma and woke up an hour later. Of course I get blamed…

“Why’d you let me sleep that long?!”

“I didn’t let you, I was sleeping myself.”

“But, I thought you were cooking dinner?!”

“Are you seriously hungry after we just inhaled a pound of melted cheese and a loaf of bread?!”

“Well, I’m not starving…but we have to eat dinner.”

“We’ll eat later, in the meantime let’s drink.”

Drink of the night….

Chocolate Covered Cherry Martini

This seriously tastes like a chocolate covered cherry…got wasted

Get yourself: 2oz Chocolate vodka, 20z Black Cherry vodka, 2oz half and half, 2oz simple syrup, 6t Maraschino cherry juice + 4 cherries, 1T Ghiradelli Double Chocolate-Hot Cocoa mix, Chocolate syrup.

To make: Combine all your liquids into a shaker over ice and shake. Line rim of glass with chocolate syrup. Place cherries at bottom of glass. Pour drink in. Dust top of drink by putting cocoa powder in a sieve and tapping it. Sit down. If standing, grab hold of something stable such as a counter top or banister or such as…drink, enjoy, thank me later.

Okay, now that we’re feelin’ loose…let’s, uh, cook dinner?

Dinner

Sherry Baby Bella’s

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan (s)mashed Potatoes

Porterhouse for Two — Ruth’s Chris style

I wanted some classic sides to go with the 2.5lb hunk of beast I was serving so I thought sautéed mushrooms and mashed potatoes would be perfect. Then I thought, that’s boring.  So I tweaked them a little and now, lucky me, I can never go back to the classic way because it just pales in comparison.

Sherry Baby Bella’s

These mushrooms are bangin’!

Get yourself: 1 shallot, 5T butter, 2T extra virgin, 6 cloves roasted garlic mash, 2 packages of sliced baby bella’s, 1/4 cup dry sherry cooking wine, salt and cracked black pepper, 1T fresh chopped parsley

To make: In a skillet over medium flame heat up your 3T butter and 1T of oil. When butter foam subsides toss in your roasted garlic mash and stir to break up. Then add your shallots and cook for 5 mins until soft and starting to brown. Now toss in 1T of butter, let it melt, and then add the mushrooms. Toss to coat. Let mushrooms cook down a bit and get nice and soft. Now, raise the flame to high, add in your sherry wine and cook for a few mins scraping bottom of pan to deglaze. Reduce flame to medium and stir all together.Continue to cook mushrooms, they should be shrunken and slightly browned at this point. Add your last T of butter and olive oil. This will create a buttery, and velvety sauce for the mushrooms. Kill the flame. Toss in your parsley. Put the fork down.

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan (s)mashed Potatoes

This recipe yields a batch of (s)mashed potatoes like no other. There’s a hint of roasted garlic and Parmesan and the texture is silky smooth. Roughly mashing the potatoes leaves some chunks of potato and skin which gives the dish  contrasting textures.

Get yourself: 3lbs new baby red potatoes, 1 cup heavy cream, 2T butter, 6-8 cloves roasted garlic mash, 1T extra virgin, 3 handfuls of grated Parmesan, salt&cracked pepper.

First things first, cook your potatoes until fork tender. I like to throw mine in a huge Pyrex bowl, add 1/4 cup of water to the bowl, cover, and heat in microwave for 6-8 mins/lb. They will pierce easily with a fork. Dump any remaining water from the bowl and smash the potatoes.

Leave it chunky (it’ll break down when you stir later). In a large pot heat your butter and roasted garlic mash. When foam subsides on butter add the heavy cream, black pepper and Parmesan. Stir to make saucy. Toss in your potato mash and stir until the potatoes are somewhat creamy and take on a sheen.

I’m warning you may be tempted to eat half before it even gets to the plate!

Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…our headliner this evening….

weighing in @ 2.5lb and measuring 2″ thick…

Porterhouse (for 2)

Get yourself: a big slab of Porterhouse beef (I put in a special request at the local butcher), 2T butter, 1T fresh parsley, oven-safe serving platter, s&cracked pepper.

Can’t picture a 2.5lb porterhouse, see for yourself…

To make: All it takes to cook this is a quick sear ea. side over high heat and then it gets finished in the oven. First you will take the meat out at least 15mins before cooking so it gets to room temp. Preheat oven to 450F. Next, liberally salt and pepper the beef.  Heat a cast iron skillet grill pan until smoking hot. Sear the steak on one side for ~3mins then flip. Place 1T of butter on top of beef. Place skillet in middle of oven and check for doneness after 8-10mins. Once beef is done, put 1T butter on oven-safe platter and put under broiler for a few mins (watch that butter doesn’t burn). Take out and sprinkle with parsley.  Then place meat on platter and carve.

Make sure you have your stove exhaust on high bc this steak will hiss and smoke like crazy!

And there you have it…

be VERY careful, the plate is hot!

Texas Gravy

A ubiquitous dish steeped in tradition. Although modern, overcomplicated, and pretentious versions have pervaded kitchens everywhere it’s OK. Why? Well, because Chili is that dish that lends itself perfectly to personalization. It’s a great dish, but like an Italian and Sunday Gravy, chili often becomes the victim of harsh judgment since almost everyone has a chili reference they compare to or certain chili rules like no beans or must use dried whole chili peppers which are first toasted then ground to a powder. This is limiting, but for those like me, chili is an art form open to interpretation so no true version should exist. I mean rules are meant to be broken, right? So let’s stop yearning for the perfect and best of everything and just eat!

With that said…

You will need:

2lbs 85% lean ground beef @ room temp

10 Slices hickory smoked bacon cut in 1/4’s

4 Sweet bell peppers – mixed colors (GYRO)

2 Vidalia Onions – chopped

4 Cloves fresh garlic

4 Cloves roasted garlic mash (~1T)

2T Dried Greek oregano

2t Kosher salt/1t crushed black pepper

1T Rendered duck lard

2T Soy sauce (Don’t forget about the Umami dimension of flavor)

4T Worchestire

1 Lager beer (I used Dos Equis)

1 28oz can diced tomatoes (I used Tuttarusso)

2 Cans Red Kidney beans (optional)

Chili Powder Mix:

4T Chili powder

3T Smoked paprika

1T Ancho chili powder

1T Cocoa chili powder

1T Garlic powder

2T Liquid Smoke

4t Garam Masala (Secret ingredient)

2t Cumin

1.5t Chipotle powder

Let’s Make Some Texas Gravy!

Ok, first things first, heat up that duck fat

Believe me, it’s worth it

Brown your beef. Be careful you don’t kill it

As soon as it’s uniformly brown kill the flame and set aside

Should look like this…Cover, we’ll come back to this in a bit

Bacon baby!

Grab ~10 slices and quarter

Fry in a heavy bottom pot

Preferably in the same pot you’re cooking the chili

Get it going, try to separate the chunks so they cook evenly

Goal is to get nice crispy pieces that will hold up in the chili

Reserve about 2T of that fat for sautéing veggies

Once crisp, toss on paper towels to absorb some oil

Heat the bacon fat over medium-high heat

Toss in your chopped onions

Cook for ~5mins

Add the chopped garlic and roasted garlic mash

Stir to combine

Careful, you don’t wanna you know what…

Dice up your bells

Toss into the onions and garlic, along with the bacon and stir

Grab dos dos equis –  they don’t call it dos for nothing

One for you, one for chili

Dump it in and bring to a boil for ~5mins

Drop to simmer and prep your spice mix

Time to spice things up a bit…

Grab all of your dry spices and herbs

Add to a bowl big enough to stir

Add your ground beef to the pot and then toss in the spices

Mix really well

Where there’s smoke there’s flavor!

Add to pot and stir

Add your tomatoes and stir it all together

A voice in the distance, starting to smell good in here!

Thanks babe

I hope it’s not to spicy for me though

Uhh…sure babe I made it just right no worries…

Ok good, because you know how much I hate spicy

It’s chili for crissakes not a Bolognese!

Cover and let it simmer for ~1hr

Take a peek…

Once I feel it’s done I let it cool and refrigerate overnight

I know you can’t believe I’m not eating it right away, but honestly…

I think it tastes better the next day

When it’s time to serve, heat as much as you want in a sauce pot

Toss in a handful of shredded sharp cheddar and white American (trick I got from craftsteak in NYC)

Stir until melted

I serve my chili with some white rice

Go make some if you’re into that

Fill up an oven-safe bowl or mug and top it with shredded cheddar or your cheese of choice

Put under broiler for ~2mins until browned and bubbly

Some Tostito scoops, dollop of sour cream, sliced pickled jalapeno, onion rings…

Toppings are endless

It’s a little spicy, don’t cry about it you’re eating chili…

Man up!

Enjoy!