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Category Archives: Pasta

Bread Week, Day 2 -For Fun, Make This Light-As-Air Focaccia

For the second day of this all-bread week, I turn to a recipe I made recently for focaccia bread. I had purchased some Italian “00” flour from King Arthur Flour with the intent of trying my hand at making pasta, but then the whole kitchen renovation thing got started and I just never got to it. Now that the kitchen is done and I still have the flour I do still intend to make a go of homemade pasta, but first I tried the flour out in this focaccia recipe that King Arthur offers on the bag. If you have never had focaccia before, it is a flat-crusted, oven-baked bread that has a similar consistency to pizza dough and pizza crust. The primary difference between pizza dough and focaccia rests with the amount of yeast used. Pizza dough uses only a bit of yeast while focaccia uses more for a higher rise. I decided I wanted to give the bread a try out using the Italian-style flour to see how it would go.

King Arthur Flour Light-As-Air Focaccia

For the Dough:3 3/4 cups King Arthur Italian-Style Flour

3 3/4 cups King Arthur Italian-Style Flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup plus 2 to 4 tablespoons water

For the Topping:

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

Coarse salt

Your favorite herbs (fresh or dry rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, etc.)

For the dough, mix together the Italian-style flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and 1 cup of water and knead the dough briefly, for about 5 to 6 minutes, by hand or in the bowl of a stand mixer. If you’re using a bread machine, knead the dough for about 8 minutes. If you need the dough to be softer, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, to get the consistency you want. Cover the dough and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and fold it over a few times to redistribute the growing yeast.

Place the dough on a lightly greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and pat the dough into a rectangle of about 10 inches by 15 inches. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil and sprinkle it lightly with salt and your favorite herbs. Cover the dough with a piece of lightly greased plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Just before putting the dough in the oven, use your fingers to gently dimple the top of the dough, about every 2 inches. Bake the focaccia in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until it is golden brown. Remove the focaccia from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before cutting it into squares and serving.

The bread turns out perfectly, with a great rise and it has spectacular flavor. I used some dried Italian seasoning on top of the bread to give it some extra flavor and adding some good olive oil to the top works nicely. We all enjoyed the bread, and it can be great to use when you have a crowd over for a large dinner of spaghetti and meatballs or another Italian dish. I know some people use this as the crust for their pizza and I think it would work nicely for that as well. I have seen some people use it as a sandwich bread also. You could make this dough with all-purpose flour instead of the “00” flour, and I have seen recipes doing that, but this flour seems to lend itself nicely to the texture and feel of the bread.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on February 21, 2017 in Appetizers, Breads, Cooking, Dinner, Pasta, Pizza, Side Dishes

 

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A Romantic Weeknight Dinner That’s a Breeze – Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Sauce

It’s Valentine’s Day, and it’s a weeknight – not exactly a great recipe for putting together a nice, romantic meal with your special someone. The odds are pretty good that you both will be tired and maybe you will not feel like putting together a big meal. If you are like us, Sean has afterschool activities today until later in the evening, Michelle is working late at the office, and there probably won’t be time to do much of anything for dinner, so we’ll put it off until another night. However, it is not too late if you still want to throw something together for dinner, and nothing gets much easier than a nice pasta dinner. You can make a great dinner using this recipe for Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese sauce that I got from New York Times Cooking. It’s worth the little bit of effort you put into it to make a nice meal.

Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta

½ cup chopped onion

cup chopped celery

cup chopped carrot

¾ pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef)

Salt

Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill

1 cup milk

Whole nutmeg

1 cup dry white wine

1 ½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice

1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds pasta

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table

Put the oil, butter, and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well.

Add the ground beef, a generous pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir it well and cook the beef until it has lost its raw, red color.

Add the milk and let it simmer gently, frequently stirring, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a little grating — about 1/8 teaspoon — of nutmeg, and stir.

Add the white wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir them thoroughly to coat all the ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at a very light simmer, with just an occasional bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook the sauce, uncovered, for about 3 hours, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add about 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. In the end, however, no water at all must be left, and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste the sauce and correct it for salt.

Toss the sauce with cooked, drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter, and serve the meal with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.

I am not a pasta person myself, but Michelle loved this dish when I made it. She said the sauce was perfect and full of flavor. You do want to make sure that you taste the sauce along the way so you can make any adjustments regarding seasoning, water, etc. so it turns out perfectly. The longer you cook this sauce, the greater depth of flavor it will have so you might want to make this when you have time to set in on the stove for hours and let it go, with just the occasional check to see how it is cooking. Bolognese by definition is a pretty straightforward and mild sauce without a lot of spices in it, so the simplicity here lets it shine into a delicious meat sauce. That hint of nutmeg does make a difference so don’t be afraid to put in there. You can certainly let the sauce cook for only an hour or two, but it might not have the deep flavor to it that it will if you go for 3, 4 or even 5 hours. Just keep a watch on it to see if it needs water now and then. This meal is perfect with your favorite fresh pasta, a nice side salad and some homemade or store-bought dressing, some homemade bread (or your favorite store-bought) and a bottle of wine.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day, have a lovely Valentine’s Day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Holidays, One Pot Meals, Pasta, Sauce

 

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Recipes for Picky Eaters | Bon Appetit

We all have picky eaters in our households. For us, Sean won’t eat tomatoes, Michelle is not a big fish eater, and I don’t eat pasta and cheese ( I know, gasp!). Very often this means re-working recipes to make it fit everyone’s needs. Of course, there are some great recipes for the picky eaters in your life that mask some ingredients they may protest about but love once they eat them. I have done it myself, using some cheese in things I usually would not eat and they were quite tasty. In any case, Bon Appetit has put together 32 recipes for the picky eaters in your life to help them learn to love some great dishes. Check it out!

By the way, our kitchen is complete, and I can start cooking again. I’ll be doing a post on Wednesday about the new kitchen, and I already have some recipes that I can’t wait to post. See you then!

Source: Recipes for Picky Eaters | Bon Appetit

 

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17 Tips for Faster, Healthier, and Easier Weeknight Dinners | Bon Appetit

Coming up with ways to make easy, fast and healthy dinners can seem impossible sometimes. There are many days when the last thing you want to think about is what is for dinner and wish something could magically appear that you can cook quickly. Instead of turning to pizza delivery or fast food, start using some of these 17 ideas and tips Bon Appetit offers to keep healthy and easy dinner options right in your kitchen so you can throw something great together in just minutes and look like you have been thinking about it all day. Check it out!

Tomorrow should be the day our new appliances come, and hopefully, that will complete our kitchen. It’s been tough trying to cook meals just using an electric pressure cooker, a sandwich press and two small electric burners we borrowed, so it will be great to have a stove again that I can with each day. Fingers crossed it works out tomorrow, and I can get back to recipes!

Source: 17 Tips for Faster, Healthier, and Easier Weeknight Dinners | Bon Appetit

 

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Quick and Easy Christmas Dinner Menu Ideas and Recipes : Cooking Channel

If you are still looking for some quick and easy recipes to use for your Christmas dinner, Cooking Channel has 25 great ideas for you for side dishes, entrees, salads and more that are very easy to make and can help you round out a menu that is planned even at the last minute. Check it out!

 

Source: Quick and Easy Christmas Dinner Menu Ideas and Recipes : Cooking Channel

 

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More Than 23 Delicious Dinners in 5 Ingredients Or Less – Recipes from NYT Cooking

Like most people, finding time to cook regular meals during the holidays can be even more difficult then the typical weeks that go by. On top of everything going around to get prepared for the Christmas goes work, school, afterschool activities and more. For us, things have been really hectic around here as we are getting our kitchen renovated right before the holidays! I won’t be doing much cooking since the kitchen is going to be gutted and made over from top to bottom (something long overdue), but once it is done we will have a brand new space to work in and try new recipes. In the meantime, here are 23 great recipes from New York Times Cooking that use a minimal amount of ingredients and can be cooked quickly, both ideal for this time of year. Check it out!

Source: More Than 23 Delicious Dinners in 5 Ingredients Or Less – Recipes from NYT Cooking

 

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A Classic Michelle Favorite for Her Birthday – Chicken Parmesan

Michelle’s birthday was earlier this week and with every birthday we have in our little family, the person celebrating gets to pick what they might like to have for their birthday meal. Since she travels a lot for business, she doesn’t always get the chance to enjoy a lot of home-cooked meals so I wanted to be sure to make something for her that I know she really enjoys. Since I typically do not make a lot of dishes that involve cheese or pasta and these are two of her favorites, it seemed only fair that I make one of her all-time favorite dishes for her birthday – chicken Parmesan. Chicken Parmesan is one of those meals that many people say they love but not it is often relegated to something you order out when you go to an Italian place and are not sure about what to get. The fact is that it is pretty easy for you to make on your own, requiring just a little bit of effort and ingredients, so that you can make a good meal. I used this recipe from Melissa Clark at New York Times Cooking this go around to turn out a flavorful meal.

Chicken Parmesan

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, turkey or pork cutlets (or use chicken thighs for even more flavor)

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

2 to 3 cups panko bread crumbs, as needed

Kosher salt, as needed

Black pepper, as needed

Olive oil, for frying

5 cups Simple Tomato Sauce (see recipe below) or your favorite store-bought or homemade sauce

1 cup finely grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano

½ pound fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-sized pieces

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cutlets between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap. Using a kitchen mallet or rolling pin, pound the meat to even 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Place the flour, eggs and panko bread crumbs into three wide, shallow bowls. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Dip a piece in the flour, then the eggs (shaking off any excess), then coat with the panko. Repeat the process until all the meat is coated.

Fill a large skillet with 1/2-inch of the olive oil. Place the skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, fry the cutlets in batches, turning each halfway through the cooking process, until they are just golden brown in color, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the cutlets to a paper towel-lined plate.

Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle one-third of the Parmesan cheese over the sauce. Place half of the cutlets over the Parmesan and top the cutlets with half the mozzarella pieces. Top the cutlets again with half the remaining sauce, sprinkle with another third of the Parmesan, and repeat layering, ending with a final layer of sauce and Parmesan.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake the cutlets until the cheese is golden and the casserole is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Let the chicken Parmesan cool a few minutes before serving.

For the Sauce:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

¼ teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)

2 (28-ounce) cans whole or diced plum tomatoes

2 sprigs basil or 1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

¼ teaspoon black pepper

In a large, straight-sided skillet set over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until it is just lightly golden. Add the chile flakes if desired and cook for 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomatoes and the juices, basil or bay leaf, and salt and pepper.

Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thick and the tomatoes have mostly fallen apart, about 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the sauce at a steady simmer. If you are using whole plum tomatoes, mash them up with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to help them break down. Remove the sauce from the heat and discard the basil or bay leaf.

The recipe itself is quite simple; you just need to do some of the prep work to get the chicken ready for frying. I used as little oil as I could so that there is minimal grease and frying and the chicken turns out very nice and crisp thanks to the panko. The layering then becomes the key so that you can get a really nice mix of the Parmesan, crispy chicken, sauce and fresh mozzarella. The cooking process leaves you with very tender yet crispy chicken with a great blend of flavors. You could use breasts or thighs here or even use turkey or pork or eggplant instead if you prefer. The process is still the same no matter the protein. Pounding it flat helps to ensure even cooking overall. I served this with some pasta and having some nice crunchy bread or garlic bread and a salad to go with it can help to round out the meal. The recipe makes plenty (it says six servings, but I think there is more), and we had leftovers that make for great lunches or to have as a chicken Parmesan sandwich at another time. The sauce recipe is a nice one as well – very easy to make with a hint of heat – and it makes more than enough for the chicken, but you can always use your favorite tomato sauce from the store instead if you like.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on November 9, 2016 in Cooking, Dinner, Pasta, Poultry

 

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