Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Asian Style String Green Beans

Let me start off by saying that I did not follow a recipe to make this side dish. I followed my sense of flavor and used what I had in the house to make these delicious string beans, or in the culinary world sometimes referred to as Haricot Verts.
I washed the string beans and then dried them off making sure there was no moisture on them. I got my big pan out and heated it up and added some vegetable oil to the pan and placed the string beans in the hot oil. There wasn't a huge amount of oil in the pan, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan and then some. I sprinkled the beans with course kosher salt and then "fried" the srtring beans. They will start to crinkle up a bit and get a little color on them.  I know, I know, I should be using a wok!
After they are "fried" I removed them from the pan and added ground turkey meat. I usually use ground pork in this dish. I then added 5 cloves of chopped garlic and a nice piece of ginger that I chopped. We love the flavor of the ginger. You can always adjust this, just keep tasting and add more if needed.
Cook the meat and the garlic and ginger until the meat is cooked through. As the meat is cooking I added a  1/2 Tablespoon of Chili Oil and 1/2  Tablespoon of Sesame Oil. Add soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. I used equal parts, about 1/8 cup of each...sorry I didn't measure.
When it's all cooked through and the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar cook off a little add the string beans back to the pan with 1/2 cup of pickled vegetables. I used Italian Gardiniera. It added a little heat to the dish and a little pucker power...it did the trick!
Mix it all together, and then just before serving sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds!

When ever I make this there is never any left! It's a winner! I hope you and yours enjoy this dish as much as we do.

Buon Appetito

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

∩ │◥███◣ ╱◥███◣
╱◥◣ ◥████◣▓∩▓│∩ ║
│╱◥█◣║∩∩∩ ║◥█▓ ▓█◣
││∩│ ▓ ║∩田│║▓ ▓ ▓∩ ║
•°*”˜˜”*°• From my house to your house •°*”˜˜”*°•
•°*”˜˜”*°•Happy Thanksgiving to family and friends•°*”˜˜”*°•

If you are reading this I want to thank you for taking the time to stop and visit this blog. With so many food blogs out there, I am thankful that you pop in and read mine. 

If I have been able to help you, or inspire you to cook a dish that you hadn't before,  I am thankful.
I am thankful that you have the confidence in me to try one of my dishes.

I am thankful for so many things.

But most of all I am thankful for  my beautiful family.
 They are loving and supportive in all that I do.
I am thankful for my dear friends. 
Some of you have known me forever.
You laugh with me and cry with me, and never question why.
I am thankful for the new friends in my life.
I love the bridges that we are building and all the common interests we share.

So Thank You for letting me be a small part of you lives. 
For this I am most Thankful.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sweet Swiss Chard

If you are looking for another side for Thanksgiving Swiss Chard is an easy and delicious vegetable to serve.
Swiss Chard is a leafy vegetable and has a long stalk like stem. The stems  can be a little stringy so I peel them.
I cut off the leaf part and then work the stem cutting it into pieces, as I cut the "stalk" into  2 - 3 inch pieces I peel away some of the tough fibers.
Clean the leaves by soaking them in a pot or in your sink. The dirt should fall to the bottom of the sink or the pot. Remove them from the cleaning water and clean them again. When you think they are clean, submerge them in more water and clean them again. There is nothing worse than biting into something that is a little gritty. I hate when that happens!
Cook the stems first as they will take longer to cook than the leafy part. After a few minutes of the stems cooking in boiling water add the leafy part of the vegetable to the boiling water. Once the leaf wilts I remove them from the water.
In a frying pan you are going to saute garlic and then add the cooked Swiss Chard to the garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Top with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and cover the pan until the cheese melts. Serve while hot!
You can make the Swiss Chard ahead of time, just wait until you are ready to serve them to saute them with the garlic and cheese.

Buon Appetito!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Asparagus Bundles

It's that time of year again, when everyone get's really busy. The Holidays are almost upon us.
I don't know about you, but I am always looking for something a little different to serve as a side on Thanksgiving, or for that matter at anytime!
The other night I made a delicous bundle of asparagus. It was a little bit of an after thought so I didn't have all the perfect ingredients or everything needed so I improvised. Let me tell you, my bundles were great. Sometimes you just make it happen using what you have! Here's what I had...

One roll of pie crust, yes you know which one I'm talking about. It comes in a box, and you keep it in the frig and when you need it you let it come to room temperature and unroll it!
2 bunches of thick asparagus, which I trimmed off the hard bottoms and then using my vegetable peeler, took off the skin on the sides of the asparagus.
3 slices of fresh mozarella cheese
a chunk of smoked gouda
a package of speck

I took two asparagus stalks and wrapped them in the speck. I cut up the cheese and put a piece of each cheese on top of the speck. I cut the pie dough into strips and wraped them up in the crust.
Place the asparagus on parchment paper, drizzle them olive oil and season with salt and pepper, (I had some left over truffle so I shaved some of it on top)
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until the crust gets a little color.

I served these bundles on top of the pasta I made the other night.  These are delicious on their own and will definitely find a way to the table for the holiday!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

Buon Appetito

Friday, November 18, 2011

Truffles, Truffles, Truffles

My husband absolutely adores Truffles. When it's the season he wants to eat Truffles on everything. He asks chefs to prepare meals around the delicious fungi!
The other day while dining at 87 Vines Restaurant in Yonkers, my husband had the opportunity to make a purchase. To his delight two salesman from Italy came in for our friend Gino, who is the proprietor of the restaurant, to take a look and sample some of the Truffles that they had for sale. It was my husbands lucky day!
After weighing the truffles and bargaining over the pricing my darling came home with a truffle that delighted us all.
While I know that this may not be the most appealing object to look at I have to tell you that the aroma and the taste emitted from the White Truffle is most magnificent! The only thing I had to do was decide what to make with this, that would compliment the flavor of the truffle and make my husband happy.
I decided to make a homemade tagliatelle pasta with a porcini and butter sauce with freshly grated parmesan cheese. It was a very simple sauce, and the fattiness from the butter was made to enhance the flavor from the truffle.
For the sauce I melted a stick of unsalted butter,  (1/4 pound), added 3 whole cloves of garlic. I slowly melted the butter letting the garlic cook in the butter without getting any color. Then I added 1/4 cup of porcini mushrooms, which had been soaked, and sliced, to the melted butter. Cook this on low heat.
While the pasta is cooking, remove the whole cloves of garlic and discard. Season the butter with salt, black pepper and a little grated fresh nutmeg.
Add the shaved truffles into the porcini and butter. Reserve some of the truffle to grate on top of the pasta. Before draining the pasta add one soup ladle of the pasta water into the porcini, truffle butter.
Drain the pasta.
Add pasta to a serving bowl and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and toss the pasta. As you are tossing the pasta to make sure it's getting coated with the cheese, start adding your butter sauce to the pasta. tossing so all the pasta gets a nice coat of the delicious buttery nutty sauce!
I didn't add more grated truffles to my portion. I thought it was perfect the way it was. I should have taken a picture of my husbands dish. He couldn't get enough!

P.S. If fresh truffles are not available you can always make this dish without. Just use extra Porcini mushrooms, and if fresh porcini is not available you can always find them dried in a good Italian market.

Buon Appetito

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This past weekend my sister and I made homemade ravioli. The recipe has been in the family forever. I can remember being a young girl watching my Nona, mother and Zia make these delicious meat filled ravioli. My sister and I had a very important job, we were sent to count the ravioli sheets as the were made.   How many?  they would ask us, and we'd run and count. Dozen or sheets? and we'd run back again and count all over. My sister Marlene still counts by the dozen, while I still count the sheets. It's funny how some things just don't change.
At the time when they made them they would proudly make 200 dozen.  That was a huge amount. Everything was done by hand. They didn't have a Kitchen Aid mixer with pasta attachments to help them make the dough! As Marlene and I got older we were honored to help turn the crank to get the sheets of pasta to the smooth consistency needed so they could be stuffed. Marlene decided that she likes the stuffing part, and I have become the master of cranking out the pasta.
With the help of machinery we are able to make a few hundred dozen in a day rather than a weekend. It's still a tremendous amount of work, exhausting actually, but we love working together. It brings us together, we miss those who are not able to be with us, especially our sister, Michele who lives in California.  We know that while we are working we have the company of two angels, our Nona and our mother. If we get stumped or stuck on something and the answer or solution comes to us, it comes from them. We know how proud they are of us, and it makes us happy to know that they are happy!
They never worked with exact quantities. I don't think they even had a recipe written out until we asked. I remember sitting with a bowl under my mother's hand trying to catch the amounts she was using, and then measuring,  just for a rough idea of how much she was using. We now know that the water needed to make the pasta is approximately 3 - 3 1/2 cups!
When we make the meat ravioli I always try to have equal parts of the meat. If I am cooking 5 pounds of beef, I'll also cook 5 pounds of pork and veal.  However, I will only use about 3 pounds of the sausage meat.  The onions are another story. The more onions, the more sauce. We use about 20 pounds of onions which I hand chop.
I remember them using porcini mushrooms while cooking the meat and there is no mention of the mushrooms on the recipe card.  I make sure that they are added. They give a very delicious flavor to the meat mixture and the sauce.
It's taken us years to interpret the recipe.
Here's what my mother had written down.
For meat stuffing...
Rosolare pork, beef and veal in olive oil and butter until brown, add onions, rosemary and bay leaves.
Saute sausage meat with garlic and spinach.
Seperate meat from the onions.
Chop everything, add parmigiano cheese, salt, pepper and one whole ground nutmeg. Add egg to moisten to hold together. If needed add breadcrumbs.
At least we have one measurement here! LOL! One whole nutmeg!
5 lbs flour
2 eggs all
6 egg yolks
little oil, salt, and luke warm water
mix all together

I started making the meat mixture on Thursday. I cut all my meats into chunks and cooked them with the onions and seasoning for about 4 - 5 hours.
On Friday, I seperate the meat from the onions. The meat chunks went into the food grinder and the onions and the sauce were reserved and put into containers. This is the sauce that is used on top of the ravioli.
On Saturday we mixed all of the gound meats together with the spinach, cheese and eggs and seasoning.
The pasta was made and let to rest for 1/2 hour before working it.

After the pasta has been worked through the machine and is the right size and thickness it goes to the table where the stuffers are waiting to work! We will try to recruit any and all!

The trays get stuffed, then trimmed up and put on a tray.

They are then put on a sheet so they dry out a little, and then flipped hours later.

We work until all the meat mixture is gone. Usually there is pasta left over.
This year we made a few with spinach and cheese.

And when the spinach and cheese was gone we made the left over pasta "dough" into tagliatelle.

We've started a little tradition of our own when making these.
 In the past we would order out for food to eat for diner. Who wanted to cook after working hard all day. One year while making these at my mother's house my husband was in shock that we were going to order out for food. He insisted that we put a pot of water on and eat some of the ravioli that we had been making all day.  We were like, what? eat them now? lol  I'm so glad we did!
So now, every time we make them, after we count them and there is an odd number of sheets that can't be divided and packaged up (we like to put 10 dozen into one package)  they go into the pot of waiting hot water. I can't even begin to tell you just how delicious they are!

We love carrying on the traditions that were shown to us. My hope is that my children learn from us and one day show their own children the special "magic" that can be created through love of family and honoring traditions. Through this love and magic the family traditions will never be forgotten, nor will the people who started them or the people who kept them alive. ❤❤ 

 Buon Appetito
 Lorraine ❤❤ 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Super Fabulous Espresso Crusted Stuffed Flank Steak!

Yes, you read it right. Espresso coffee was used to make this delicious stuffed Flank Steak! You are going to want to make this!

I'm not the most masterful at plating my food. That is where a true chef shines! The artistry of plating and making everything on the plate look like something that you can't live without is sometimes lacking when I serve food to my family. Some nights it's all I can do to get it on the plate while everyone is sitting around waiting to eat! Never mind when I grab my camera to take a picture and delay serving the food!
While watching television one day I saw an Italian Chef making a stuffed flank steak.  Never having made one before I was very intrigued. She lost me when she started putting raisins and nuts in the stuffing. However, the idea of making a stuffed flank steak stuck with me, and I decided to play!
 I started with a nice piece of flank steak. Then I made a pocket with a sharp knife and continued to cut through the entire piece of meat. Until the meat was open like a book.

Once I butchered the meat I pounded it to get it just a little bit thinner so it would be easier to roll up.

I seasoned the meat with salt and pepper and put it to the side.
Now for the stuffing!
I chopped up some fresh spinach and a handful of fresh parsley. To that I added some goat cheese, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and a little clove of garlic.
I set the spinach mixture aside and took 2 large portabella mushrooms and chopped them.
Now it was time to stuff the meat.
I spread the spinach mixture on the meat and then added the chopped mushrooms.
I then rolled the meat up, trying to pull it together so that it was tight. You want to roll this like you would a jelly roll.
Then I tied it up as best I could.
Now for the shocker...I rolled the roast in some freshly ground espresso coffee!
In a dutch oven I melted one tablespoon of butter with a tablespoon of olive oil. I seared the meat on all sides.
Once the meat was seared I took the roast out of the dutch oven and added a pint of fresh tomato sauce, 1/2 cup of red wine,  2 - 3 porcini mushrooms,  and some wild mushrooms and let the wine cook off a little. I added the roast back to the liquid.
Cover the roast and finish the steak in a 375 degree oven for 30 - 40 minutes.The temperature of my roast when done was a rare to medium rare.  If you like your meat done to a different temperature keep it cooking in the oven.
I let the meat rest for 15 minutes and then sliced it and served it with the mushroom sauce and a side of ricotta cavatelli that was tossed with the sauce from the meat.

It was a hit! Everyone loved the flavor! The espresso coffee added a hint of smokiness, you've got to try it to believe it!

Buon Appetito!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mt. Olympus Lamb Chops

My sister Michele sent me some fabulous salts and seasonings. When I opened the package I was so excited to find these very special seasonings.
One of the seasonings she sent is Mt. Olympus Greek Style Seasoning.  Michele loves lamb, and she swore that this seasoning would transform a chop into something fabulous!

Here's what I did to make the lamb chops.

2 tablespoons of Mt. Olympus Greek Style Seasoning
3-4 cloves crushed garlic
3-4 tablespoons of fine minced onion
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
1/2 cup of olive oil
Juice from 3 lemons
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and then let the lamb chops sit in the marinade. It will be more like a paste.  Let them rest in the mixture for at least an hour, and then flip them over and let them rest for another 1/2 hour or so. I like to let my meat stand at room temperature before cooking.
Put the lamb chops on a baking sheet and place them in a 425 degree preheated oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes turn the chops over and bake another 10 minutes. These chops were a good 1 1/2 inch thick. My family likes them medium to medium rare. If you prefer them to be cooked at a different temperature, just keep them in the oven a few more minutes.
Take them out of the oven and let them rest for a few minutes. (This rarely ever happens in my house. )
Place the lamb chops on a platter and serve with some fresh sliced lemon.
I served these with some fresh spinach and a rutabaga and leek puree.  Very yummy!
Buon Appetito