Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Italian Inspirations Recipe Contest

My recipe made it to the top 5 in the contest being run by Johnsonville Italian Inspirations!

MY RECIPE,  which was submitted will now be cooked by a Chef and then judged based on taste.

The next time I write about this I hope it's with good news.

Thank you Johnsonville for giving me this opportunity to shine!

Buon Appetito

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pesto Crusted Roast Beef

I love Sundays when there is nothing to do but be lazy and relax.
This translates for me into a day of cooking a really delicious meal for my family, without the rush of getting everything onto the table for "dinner time". I can take my time and play all day in the kitchen!

Sunday's  rules are different from the weekday rules.

When we were kids we ate our Sunday dinner no later than 3 in the afternoon.
Our parents didn't have to deal with softball practices, or soccer games, or any other sports activities. Sunday was a day of rest and there were no activities planed, except  for Church and family!

Today our schedules are so busy, it doesn't matter what day of the week it is!
Give me a rainy Sunday when everyone is sleeping in, cozy and relaxed without running off somewhere and I am so happy.

It gives me the opportunity to make a Sunday dinner like we had when we were kids.
First you start with an antipasto, then a pasta, followed by a meat, with the vegetables and a salad.

This past Sunday gave me the perfect opportunity to make one of those big Sunday meals.
I haven't made a roast beef in a very long time. The other day my son, Stephen said it would be nice to have roast beef so he could make sandwiches with the left overs.
So for this Sunday dinner I decided to make a Roast Beef and wanted to give it a different twist.
I seasoned the meat with salt and pepper. With a pastry brush I spread pesto all over the roast. More chopped garlic went all over the roast and then I rolled the roast beef so it was coated with french onion flakes. I don't know why I had these in my pantry, but they were there and I thought, why not?
I put the roast in a preheat 450 degree oven for 15 minutes and then turned the heat down to 350 degrees. I added a couple of peeled carrots, an onion and mushrooms to the pan with beef stock and 1/2 cup of Sweet Vermouth.

I cooked the roast until it reached an internal temperature of 135- 137 degrees and then let it sit, tented.
In my opinion, the meat was a little overdone after letting it rest.

Next time, I'm taking it out at 125 degrees, letting it rest so the roast will be medium rare. This was more of a medium to medium well.  It was still tasty, tender and most delicious.


Buon Appetito

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Beets, Glorious Beets!

Love beets? We do!  We love them roasted, pickled and even raw!
This salad of mixed baby greens with frisee, sliced thin raw beets and goat cheese is delicious.
It was dressed with EVOO and a drizzle of Aged Balsamic Vinegar. A pinch of sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh lemon zest was all that was needed for seasoning.

Buon Appetito

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spaghetti and Chopped Clams

As much as I always love to use fresh products whenever available some days that can be a challenge depending on the kind of day I am having. There are days where I run out of hours. I had meant to go shopping and just never got to it,  and then there are those days that I had planned to eat out and for some reason it just didn't  happen.
For the reasons mentioned that's why you can always find a can of chopped clams in my pantry.  In a pinch, I can serve up a dish of linguini or spaghetti with clam sauce in under 30 minutes. Rachel Ray would be so proud of me! LOL!

This can is a time saver and will make a quick, easy and delicious dish of pasta.
I drain the can and reserve about 2 cups of the clam juice. Then I rinse the chopped clams.
Chop 4 - 6 cloves of garlic and add them to your pan with 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add two anchovies to the garlic and cook on low heat. I know some of you are turning your noses up at the addition of anchovies. Please try it. They will add such a nice flavor to the dish. You will not taste the anchovie. It just kicks up the flavors a notch.
You don't want the garlic to burn or get any color. This will make the garlic bitter. Cook until the anchovies fall apart and the garlic is tender.
Add the can of chopped clams.
Season the clams with salt, black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Cook the clams in the garlic for about 5 minutes. This doesn't take long!
Add chopped flat leaf parsley ( I chopped a handful and added it) and at this time added a little bit of the clam juice.

It's that simple.
Cook your pasta in salted water. The water has to taste like the sea!
There was a box of spaghetti in the pantry. I cooked it as per instructed on the box less one minute.
Remove the pasta from the cooking liquid.
Remember to reserve one cup of the pasta cooking water.
Add the cooked pasta to the clams and toss making sure all the pasta gets hit with the clam sauce. If you need more liquid add some of the reserved pasta water.
Divide the pasta into individual serving dishes and top with a little fresh parsley.
If you like, you  could also add some grated cheese. I don't do that, but hey if you like it, who am I to tell you that you shouldn't. You won't find the cheese on my table, but you will find extra red pepper flakes!

This is a delicious dish. The only way it could be better would be to have been able to cook with live fresh clams in their shell!
Next time!
Buon Appetito

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bella Luna Ristorante

Ahhhh, Bella Luna Ristorante...Dean Martin songs come to mind...that's Amore...
This gem has only been open for 5 weeks and already there is a steady stream of people coming in filling up the tables. By word of mouth, at least that's how we heard about it, the restaurant has a following for good food in a friendly atmosphere with reasonable prices. The formula is very simple at Bella Luna,  serve great tasting food at reasonable prices, serve it with a smile and make everyone happy! 
If you like hot peppers ask for the roasted peppers with onions. The onions were so sweet and the peppers were deliciously hot.  I ate most of them and loved every wave of heat delivered with each bite!

We started our meal with a tri color salad and a couple of pasta dishes. We just wanted to taste as much as we could!
tri color salad with gorgonzola 

homemade pappardelle with lobster and spinach

homemade cavatelli with escarole, beans and sausage
The salad was crisp and the pasta's were amazing.  
After we had indulged in our first courses we moved on to the main event. 
The menu is extensive. There was so much to choose from. Decisions were hard to make. When everything looks so good you want it all! We knew that we would be back soon, so we were in control!
One of the specials tonight was a soft shell crab. We both love soft shell crabs. Bring it! Pan fried in a lemon and white wine sauce they were sweet and tender! 
soft shell crabs in a lemon and white wine sauce

There is nothing better than a great dish of Pork chops with hot and sweet vinegar peppers. The dish was a winner. I thought about only eating one of the pork chops and bringing the other one home but couldn't help myself! Before I knew it, my dish was empty with nothing to bring home. The pork chops were served with a lovely side of sauted escarole. We had a choice of potato, pasta or vegetable and decided on the vegetable. We also ordered a side of Broccoli Rabe. Both sides were perfectly cooked and seasoned well. 
Pork chops with Hot and Sweet Vinegar Peppers

Broccoli Rabe
Unfortunately Steve and I were too full to try anything from the Dessert menu. We were told that most items were made in the house. I wish we had room for something a little sweet at the end of our meal because based on the rest of our meal it could only have complimented what we had. I will definetely be saving room for the homemade cheesecake next visit!

Bella Luna does not have it's liquor license yet, so for now it's BYOB.

If you go, tell Ralph that The Food Crawl sent you! 

Bella Luna Ristorante
861 Midland Avenue
Yonkers, New York
914 751-5588

Buon Appetito

Friday, April 13, 2012

Il Sogno Ristorante

Ever pull in to the parking lot of a restaurant and wonder where the heck you are going or why?
Never judge a book by it's cover, right?
Il Sogno Ristorante in Port Chester, New York is one of those restaurants. I can't tell you how many times I have passed by it's doors never giving it a second glance.
A friend of mine, who considers himself another foodie suggestted a night out at It Sogno and let me tell you, it's a gem!
 It's very unasumming from the side of the road, but once you pull in and have a seat your mind will be changed.
While waiting for the rest of our group to arrive we were seated at the bar and greeted by Jimmy, the owner of the restaurant. He was quick with a warm greeting and a fabulous pour.
My martini was made perfectly and my husbands glass of wine was served at the perfect temperature.
My friend Frank had to jump in on the picture!  He's a handsome guy so I let him! lol
Jimmy quickly put out some thinly sliced salami and some toasted Italian bread for us to munch on while waiting for the rest of our group to arrive.
And here's my dirty appearing perfectly naughty!
When you are so comfortable at the bar and everything is perfect it's sometimes hard to make a move to your table. We contimplated eating at the bar, and while we sometimes enjoy that we felt that we would be missing a beat if we didn't venture into the dinning room.
Our waiter greeted us warmly and made us feel as if we the only people in the room. After being informed of the abundant specials of the evenng we were left to consider our choices.
We were even shown the special cut of veal that was being offered!
We wanted to try everything! I think we came very close to ordering many of the specials that were offered.
Our waiter offered us a beautiful platter of the pastas that each of us were considering, offering us each a taste of everything we wanted!
The whole wheat pasta puttanesca, eggplant napoleon, and tagliatelle with cream and truffles was something made for each of us. Each dish satisfied all of our palettes! Bravo!
There were so many specials to be considered.
If this was going to be right, it could be great!
A few of our choices were ...Bronzino, fish,  grilled and served whole, a double cut veal chop, served with potatoes and broccoli rabe, and a pounded chop served with a caprese salad! I was struggling with my order and finally decided on ordering the whole grilled roasted Bronzino fish.   I'm always looking to stick my fork into someone elses plate!  I love my friends who let me taste!

We were so full no one wanted to order a desert. But guess what? Out came a beautiful platter of delicious biscotti with our coffee! These were home made!
And then another plate of Italian specialties. The heck with the diet. You have to take a taste, right?

and then a martini zabgone with strawberries. Who can resist?

We all gathered at the bar for a last hoorah and after dinner drink.

I can't wait for the next time we get together for a crawl. We're thinking lobster rolls!
Monica  thinks she doesn't take a good picture!  I think we look fabulous! xoxoxo

Il Sogno Ristorante
316 Boston Post Road
Port Chester, New York
914 937-7200

Thanks Jimmy!
Buon Appetito

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Peasant Food

The Italians are known for making delicious dishes with very few ingredients and most times the ingredients are fairly inexpensive. Only the freshest and most flavorful  ingredients are used resulting in simple but exquisite tasting dishes.  I am always excited by the enjoyment created when a peasant dish is served.
My mother was the queen at making something from nothing! She could turn a can (Yes, OMG! I said can!) of lentil soup into something that you had never tasted before, and you would want more!
If you like Italian Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, Garlic and Cannellini Beans keep reading. You will enjoy this dish and so will everyone you serve it to.

From start to finish this took approximately 30 minutes to prepare. Quick and easy!
This recipe will make 6 first course servings or 4 main servings.

6 pieces of Italian Sausage
1 Head of Broccoli Rabe
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large can of Cannellini Beans
(If you plan ahead use fresh beans instead of canned beans)
2 - 4 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 pound Orecchiette Pasta

Put a large pot of water on to boil.
This will be your pot to cook the pasta in.

Take the Sausage meat out of the casing.
On medium heat, heat your frying pan and add the sausage meat to the pan.
Add the chopped garlic and a little bit of the olive oil.  You can also add a little bit of wine, water or chicken stock to deglaze the pan if necessary.
Add the large can of beans, juice and all into the sausage.
After you have washed the broccoli rabe, cut it into pieces, and add to the beans. Drizzle with the olive oil.
By now, your water should be boiling. Add salt to the water and then add the pasta. Don't skimp on the salt in the water. Pasta cooked without salt is tasteless. Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than the recommended cooking time on the box. Strain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.

Season with salt, and pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Add the pasta to the broccoli rabe, sausage and beans.  If needed add some of the cooking liquid back to the pasta.
Spoon into individual serving bowls, top with freshly grated parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and enjoy!
Did I hear you say "Yum"?

Buon Appetito

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We're getting noticed!

Hi Friends!
I just found out that this little blog of mine got a shout out on The FoodNetworks latest episode of Chat n Dish!
It's a very proud moment for me and I just had to share!

Kc Quaretti from The FoodNetworks Chat n'Dish show highlights a lovely Salmon stuffed tomato and then gives a shout out to The Food Crawl Blog Spot for my Farfalle Pomodoro recipe.
Take 3 minutes to watch the clip for a great recipe from Chat n'Dish!
Here's the link for the Farfalle Pomodoro recipe that earned the shout out! It's definitely worth checking out!

Buon Appetito

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pico de Gallo

We had a wonderful time in Cabo san Lucas! What a fabulous vacation!
I will be sharing some wonderful food with you that was discovered on our trip.
I'd like to start with a very simple salsa, called Pico de Gallo.
I love this salsa. I had it with almost everything. The more heat the more I loved it!
I'd ask for it "caliente" and would get a Spanish lesson from our waiter. When referring to the heat in a dish you should ask for picante, not caliente. Perfect!

Today's Pico de Gallo was served with a blackened salmon fillet on top of baby spinach leaves and marinated artichoke hearts. I've also made this with Shrimp, almost like a ceviche served with salad greens. If I had a ripe avacado I would have sliced it and served it with this dish. My avacados are taking forever! And yes, I have them in a brown bag....grrrrrr.

With a few simple ingredients you can master this dish.
This is my interpretation of Pico de Gallo.

Ingredients needed

One red pepper
One green pepper
One red onion
One tomato, seeded
2 -3 Jalapeno peppers
2-3 green onions, (scallions)
Fresh cilantro
fresh squeezed lime juice
ground corriander
salt and pepper to taste
* One or two cucumbers, seeded- Opitional

Dice your vegetables very small and add them all to a serving bowl. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the finely diced vegetables and season with salt, pepper and a dash of ground corriander.

We like the flavor of cilantro so I added a handful of it after it was cleaned and chopped.

This can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. It never lasts more than a day in mine so I can't say how long it will last in yours. I don't like to add the tomato until I am serving it. I think they get too "cooked".