It’s summer and OH. SO. HOT. And I honestly haven’t really been in the mood to cook or do anything lately except lie down in the AC or chill on the beach – but a girl’s gotta eat, right?
I’ve also been a bit blue because my Dad is in the hospital and having double bypass heart surgery on Monday morning which is a bit scary..and too much to deal with.
So I decided I needed a dose of some comfort food this weekend to cheer me up and bring me a little closer to home with Dad. 🙂
I had a few samples of RedPack petite diced tomatoes on hand and thought they would be perfect for a comforting baked pasta dish – something that reminded me of what Mom used to make for us for dinner.
So I whipped up a Cheesy Skillet Beef Goulash – made with ground beef, tomatoes, onion, garlic, elbow macaroni and three cheeses – all cooked together in one skillet, then baked into a pot of bubbly, cheesy goodness.
Super simple to make and definitely comforting at that. I think I’ll get through the weekend and Dad’s surgery just fine…after I have some of this deliciousness..and maybe a nap in the A/C. 🙂
One of my favorite recipes to make for a summer BBQ or outdoor party is Shrimp and Veggie Pasta Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette. It has a light, lemony herb dressing with fresh basil, parsley, dill and tarragon, along with a touch Dijon mustard, Champagne vinegar, olive oil and fresh lemon.
I love using big seashell pasta and adding plenty of fresh veggies including cucumbers, celery, roasted red peppers, grilled corn and scallions for crunch, and adding fresh sautéed shrimp, which you can also grill if you prefer. It goes perfectly with grilled chicken, burgers, skewers and fresh fruit like watermelon, pineapple and mango.
First cook your seashell pasta, drain and set aside. Then you can either grill the shrimp or sauté it for a few minutes in a large sauce pan with some fresh lemon, herbs, seasonings and olive oil and let cool while you prep the other ingredients.
Season and grill the corn, shave off the kernels and add to the salad with the rest of the veggies (celery, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, green onions). Feel free to sub whatever fresh veggies you like to the salad to make it colorful and healthy!
Make the Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette by whisking together some extra virgin olive oil, Champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, fresh lemon, salt and pepper and chopped fresh herbs.
Pour over the pasta, veggies and shrimp in a large mixing bowl and fold together. I like to put the salad in the fridge and let the flavors meld together – you can really taste the fresh herbs and zingy lemon when you let it sit together for a bit.
So easy, so light and refreshing and perfect for a backyard BBQ or beach party.
Shrimp & Veggie Pasta Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings
Serving Size: 1 cup
1 pound of pasta (medium-large shells or rotini)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 pound small shrimp, peeled, cleaned and deveined, tails removed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
Sea salt, to taste (for shrimp and salad dressing)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh herbs, roughly chopped (tarragon, basil, parsley)
2 fresh sweet corn cobs or 1 cup frozen
1 cup English cucumber, diced
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced
2 lemon wedges, squeezed for garnish
Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions (usually about 9-11 minutes for al dente). Drain, rinse under cool water and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Slice scallions and cook until soft about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add one more tablespoon of oil then add shrimp, red pepper flakes, Old Bay seasoning and sea salt; sauté together stirring constantly until shrimp are opaque, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set pan aside to let shrimp mixture cool.
In a large mixing bowl add salt and pepper, vinegar, mustard, garlic, lemon juice and zest. Use the KitchenAid® 3-Speed Hand Blender with the whisk attachment to blend ingredients together and slowly pour in the olive oil in small amounts until the dressing is emulsified and mixed well. Chop the fresh herbs, mix into the Lemon-Herb dressing and set aside.
Prepare the fresh corn by grilling it – add a little olive oil, salt and pepper, then char it over a medium-high grill for about 15 minutes. Shuck the cooked kernels off the cob and set aside in a separate mixing bowl. If using frozen sweet corn, simply boil in 1-2 tablespoons of water in a small pot over medium-high for 3-4 minutes, then drain and place into a bowl, set aside.
Add the cucumbers and celery to the accompanying mixing bowl of the KitchenAid® 3-Speed Hand Blender, and pulse a few times until chopped into a small to medium dice. Chop each vegetable separately to avoid overfilling the blender bowl. Chop the roasted red pepper into medium diced pieces. Throw all the chopped veggies into a bowl and set aside.
Pour the cooked pasta, shrimp and scallion mixture, corn and all the prepped veggies into a large mixing bowl and add the Lemon-Herb dressing. Gently mix all the ingredients together with a large spoon. Garnish pasta salad with additional chopped herbs, fresh lemon juice and additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or cooler until ready to serve.
Today was one of those days – rainy, overcast, dreary, and oh, Monday. I also had a ton of things in my fridge that I need to clean out and organize. What a better day than today to do that, and whip up something delicious with all those goodies that needed to be used up.
I had a whole spatchcocked chicken that I had already grilled and roasted last week, plus a bunch of spinach, shallots, some white beans and garlic. I thought I’d make a healthy and delicious Lemony Rosemary Chicken Pasta with Greens and Beans served in a silky, savory sauce made with lemon zest and juice, white wine, butter, olive oil and chicken stock; infused with red pepper flakes, rosemary, aged Ricotta Salata and topped off with some toasted walnuts for extra crunch.
It’s such an easy and satisfying dish to make and it’s super healthy too, with tons of protein from the chicken and beans, and vitamin c from the spinach and lemon..and the silky savory sauce is just beautiful – light and bright, perfect for Spring. I also used a whole wheat penne pasta for some extra fiber and nutty flavor to go with the toasted walnuts which give a super nice crunchy texture.
All you need is a glass of lovely white wine, and maybe some crunchy toasted bread with olive oil and more grated cheese to go with it. And forget that the sun isn’t out today. And that it’s cold and dreary. And that it’s Monday.
And just be happy where you are, right here. Right now.
This is a light and bright lemony pasta dish with roasted shredded chicken, sauteed spinach, white beans, garlic, shallots, and rosemary in a light wine and chicken broth sauce with grated ricotta salata cheese and topped with toasted walnuts for extra crunch.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, diced
1 1/2 bunches of fresh spinach
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine or dry sherry
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 cup aged ricotta salata cheese (or grated parmesan)
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (grilled or rotisserie)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
1/2 cup walnuts, crushed and toasted
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Wash and trim spinach, cut shallots and garlic, drain white beans, zest and juice lemon and set aside along with other prepped ingredients (broth, wine, half and half, cheese, rosemary, red pepper flakes.)
Heat olive oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute shallots for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute.
Increase heat to medium high, add spinach, red pepper flakes and rosemary; saute together for about 5 minutes until spinach is wilted, but still bright green.
Add the cannelini beans and saute, stirring together for another few minutes until heated through.
Add chicken broth, wine, lemon juice and zest and continue cooking with spinach and beans for a few minutes. Add the half and half and grated ricotta cheese, stir to combine.
Stir in the cooked shredded chicken and cook until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, keep warm on medium-low heat.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta and drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the saute pan with the chicken, greens and beans, adding the reserved pasta water and stir to combine.
Crush the walnuts into small pieces and toast over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes in a small saute pan until lightly browned and nutty flavor.
Serve the pasta in large bowls with additional grated cheese, toasted walnuts, and salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe calls for whole wheat penne but you can use any pasta you desire.
You can also experiment with other types of greens - chard, beet greens, dandelion greens, etc.
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese can also be used if you can't find aged Ricotta Salata.
Toasted pine nuts or breadcrumbs would also be great in place of the toasted walnuts.
As the New Year begins, so do New Years resolutions. Some of them we keep, some of them we don’t, but one of them we universally all decide is to eat healthier and shed a few pounds from all the holiday gatherings and fat-laden food. So, back to reality it is. Starting today. Holiday over. Back to work. Back to the gym. A pledge to living healthier, eating healthier and cooking healthier. A fresh start for the New Year. For my last hoorah, my Mom and I decided to make one last supper before the regimen begins: Gutsch’s Linguine and Clams. Who is Gutsch you might ask? He was a newscaster up in Rochester, New York and his amazing recipe became famous once it was published it in the newspaper about 25 years ago. Since then, it’s been a family favorite and a dish we make every year when I come home to visit the family.
Bacon. Butter. Garlic. Black Olives. Parsley. Clams. Pasta. Delicious melt-in-your-mouth flavor and OMG – so not a diet friendly dish. But you know what? You might as well enjoy your Last Supper and go all out, so that I did. And I enjoyed every last bite of it. Now, back to the New Year’s resolutions.
Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp and drain, reserving 1/8 c. drippings in the skillet. Set bacon aside.
Cook onion and garlic in drippings until tender, not brown. Stir in butter until melted**. Drain clams, reserving liquid.
Add clams, bacon, olives, parsley and black pepper and stir together.
Add half of the reserved clam liquid, heat through and keep hot over low heat**. Meanwhile, cook linguine and drain. Mix together with the clam mixture in the pan and place in a warm serving bowl. Top the pasta additional parsley and freshly cracked black pepper for garnish.
Serve this dish with a green salad, crisp white wine and some crusty Italian bread. Delish!!
**You can also throw a little white wine in with the clam liquid and let it simmer down and substitute olive oil for the butter if desired.
So it’s finally beginning to feel like Fall around here in the Big Apple. The temperatures have dropped into the low 50s and it’s been raining like crazy for days. Enough to make you feel a little bit down, but also the crisp air, wet leaves and grey skies kind of make me feel nostalgic and excited for the holidays coming ahead. (November is also my birthday month so celebrations are in order in a couple of weeks!)
Also this dampening weather is a great excuse to make some homey comfort food, curl up under a blanket and read a good book! I absolutely love Italian food and usually get a craving for Rigatoni Bolognese or Lasagna on chilly days like these. I thought I would do something a little different and make some yummy pasta with spicy Italian Pork Sausage, some bright and colorful peppers, a few handfuls of healthy iron-rich spinach, and a homemademarinara sauce with fresh basil, topping the pasta dish off with some fresh ricotta and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and red pepper to give it some extra zing (yes, I do like my food on the spicy side!)
It’s really an easy dish to prepare and after making my own sauce I can definitely tell a difference from store-bought pasta sauce, which this one puts to shame on all fronts! I bought some Campari Italian tomatoes that are sweet and little and absolutely adorable (I got them at Fairway on 2nd Ave but I’m sure you can find them at other grocery stores). And the homemade sauce is soooo good with the spicy sausage, savory sautéed peppers, onions, spinach and garlic! (And hey, a little bit healthier than a fattening super cheesy-baked pasta dish I normally crave!)
The fresh ricotta and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese give it a creamy, tangy contrast to the spicy, savory flavors in the dish. All you need is some crusty bread and a nice medium-bodied Italian wine such as Nero d”Avola (from Sicily and a bit fruity and herby), Barbera (from Veneto with hints of black cherry and licorice) or a Bonarda (from Northern Italy with hints of black fruits, violet and black pepper). If you prefer white wine, go for a Pinot Grigio or even a Riesling which is a little sweeter and a good balance for the hearty, spicy flavors in the pasta.
Rotelle with Sausage, Peppers, Spinach and Ricotta with Fresh Basil Marinara Sauce
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
I absolutely love Italian food and usually get a craving for Rigatoni Bolognese or Lasagna on chilly days like these. I thought I would do something a little different and make some yummy pasta with some spicy Italian sausage, some bright and colorful peppers, some healthy iron-rich spinach and to top it off, make my own fresh marinara sauce with some fresh basil, topping the pasta dish off with some fresh ricotta and grated Parmesan cheese and some red pepper to give it some extra zing (yes, I do like my food on the spicy side!)
Fresh Basil Marinara Sauce
3 pounds fresh plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled and seeded
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Sea salt, to taste
4 fresh basil leaves, torn into bits
1 pound Rotelle pasta (or sub Gemelli, Gigli, Fusilli or Festonati)
Sausage, Peppers and Spinach:
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ pound ground pork sausage (spicy or sweet, you choose)
½ onion, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
½ orange pepper, chopped
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
A few fresh basil leaves, torn
Ricotta and Parmesan Cheese:
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1/4 cup grated)
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
A small handful of minced chives, for garnish
Make the Sauce:
Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, and shock in ice water. Peel the tomatoes and cut in half, and de-seed. Place the tomatoes and sea salt into the large work bowl of a food processor and pulse on medium speed until tomatoes are finely pureed. Set aside.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes for a few minutes, then add the tomato puree and cook for about 25-30 minutes at a steady simmer (lower heat if it starts boiling), stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and cooked through. Add in the fresh torn basil and remove from heat and set aside.
Note: If making the sauce ahead of time, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Cook the pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for about 10-12 minutes until al dente. Drain and return to pot. Add fresh marinara sauce and toss to combine; throw in a little extra grated Parmesan cheese and set aside.
Make the sausage, peppers and spinach:
Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat.
Add onion and bell peppers to the bowl of your food processor and pulse at medium speed until chopped into a small dice.
Heat olive oil in the sauté pan, add garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté for about 1 minute on medium-low heat until lightly golden. Increase heat to medium high, add sausage and cook until well browned and no longer pink. Drain the cooked sausage mixture on paper towels and place in a large mixing bowl.
Heat additional tablespoon of olive oil and sauté onions and peppers until soft and onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add baby spinach and sauté for another 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted. Place the cooked veggies into the bowl along with cooked sausage mixture, add salt and pepper, fresh basil and stir together. Set aside to cool.
Prepare the ricotta and Parmesan cheese:
Stir together ricotta, salt, pepper and shredded cheese and stir to combine, reserving some of the grated Parmesan for garnish.
Scoop some of the pasta and marinara sauce into bowls. Top with Sausage, Peppers and Spinach mixture and stir to combine. Top the pasta with a few dollops of the Ricotta-Parmesan mixture, minced chives and additional salt and pepper, if desired.
Serve with some crusty Italian bread, a green salad and a medium to full bodied red Italian wine such as Nero d”Avola, Barbera or a Valpolicella blend.
Summer is here and it’s absolutely my favorite time of the year! The sun is shining, the trees are in bloom, and everyone is outside enjoying the weather making it prime time for entertaining family and friends with barbecue and cocktails by the beach, lake or even in the backyard by the pool. I’ve put together some party planning and decorating tipsfor the perfect summer outdoor beach party, along with some menu ideas featuring lots of fresh seafood, finger foods, and refreshing fruits and veggies.
One of my favorite recipes to make for a summer outdoor beach party is a Shrimp and Veggie Pasta Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette. It has a light, lemony herb dressing with fresh basil and tarragon, lots of veggies including cucumbers, celery, roasted red peppers, grilled corn and scallions for some extra crunch, and fresh sautéed savory shrimp. It goes perfectly with grilled chicken, burgers, skewers and fresh fruit like watermelon, pineapple and mango.
Spring is on the way, and there’s nothing I love to cook more than fresh greens. Broccoli rabe is one of my favorites, also known as cime di rapa (meaning “turnip tops”), rapini, broccoli di rapa and broccoletti in Italy. The young leaves of the plant are used in cooking along with the clusters of green buds that resemble small heads of broccoli. The flavor of the vegetable is slightly nutty, bitter and pungent and has tons of vitamin A, potassium, calcium and iron, with its peak season from fall to spring.
I decided to incorporate it into a cheesy baked pasta dish made with fresh sweet Italian sausage and three cheeses (ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano and mozzarella), along with some fun mushroom flavored pasta, tossed in truffle oil. I picked up some fresh broccoli rabe at the farmers market and sautéed it with some garlic, red pepper flakes and extra virgin olive oil until aromatic, then tossed it into a big casserole dish with the pasta, cheeses and a dash of nutmeg and lemon zest, and baked it into a big pot of golden bubbly brown goodness.
The dish is a perfect light one-pot dish, and is superb served with a glass of crisp Italian white wine, a simple Arugula salad tossed with lemon, S&P, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and crusty Italian bread with olive oil and red pepper flakes for dipping. Andiamo a mangiare!
1 bunch broccoli rabe, stems removed, chopped into large pieces
1 pound of pasta (dried ziti or penne, or chunky pasta of your choice)
2 tablespoons white truffle oil
Extra Virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced or sliced
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 pound ground sweet or hot Italian sausage
1 (15 ounce) container whole milk ricotta
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 egg, whisked
A dash of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest
Fresh ground black pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9”x13” or 10” round casserole dish and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set up an ice bath in a large bowl to the side. Cook the broccoli rabe in the boiling water for 1 minute and immediately remove and plunge into ice bath to cool for another few minutes. Pat dry and set aside. Add the pasta to the boiling water and let cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse pasta in cool water to stop cooking, while reserving ¼ cup of hot pasta water. Toss with white truffle oil and set aside.
Heat a large sauté pan with olive oil and bring the pan to a medium heat. Sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes for about a minute or two, until soft and aromatic. Add the broccoli rabe and toss with olive oil, add salt and heat through. Remove from pan and set aside.
In the same pan, heat more olive oil over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and sauté for about 3-5 minutes until soft and light golden brown. Add ground sausage and cook until browned, drain off any excess fat.
Return the cooked pasta and broccoli rabe into the large sauté pan with the sausage and onion mixture.
Toss the ricotta cheese with whisked egg, nutmeg, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the cooked pasta, broccoli rabe and sausage-onion mixture in the large sauté pan, mixing ingredients together well. Stir in ¼ cup of pasta water to make a light sauce.
Place the pasta mixture into the greased casserole dish. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish.
Serve with a glass of crisp Italian white wine, a simple Arugula salad tossed with lemon, S&P, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and crusty Italian bread with olive oil and red pepper flakes for dipping.
I don’t know about you, but Thai food is one of my favorite foods ever. I love the harmony of flavors and textures in Thai food that all play together like a perfect symphony. One of my all time favorites is Thai Peanut Noodles – similar to Pad Thai, but with a smooth peanut sauce with a hint of heat. I decided to kick it up a notch by adding some Spicy Thai Chicken that pairs perfectly with the creamy peanut-y noodles.
This dish is a gorgeous combination of spicy, savory and sweet with a marinade base for the chicken made with sesame, honey, soy sauce, garlic, and chile sauce, mixed with acidic notes of rice vinegar. It’s the perfect marriage of varying textures from the chewy noodles, crunchy peanuts and water chestnuts, all bathed in a smooth and luscious damn-good-peanut-sauce. Then to perfect it even more, it’s topped with fresh bright flavors of cilantro, lime and scallions. It’s so good, it just might be illegal. And don’t be ashamed to dig in right out of the pan. Grab some chopsticks, a pal or two and go to town. It’s rustic Asian comfort food at its best. Serve with a sweeter wine such as a Riesling, which pairs nicely with the spicy Asian flavors in this dish.
2 pounds chicken breast cutlets, sliced into thin strips
1 can water chestnuts, diced
1 package Thai Rice Noodles (flat, wide or Pad Thai)
Prepare Spicy Chicken Marinade:
In a large mixing bowl, add all nine ingredients (sesame oil through dried ginger) along with sliced chicken breast and mix together thoroughly, coating chicken well. Top with plastic wrap and let chicken marinade in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
Once chicken is done marinating, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook Thai noodles according to package directions, drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan over medium heat, spray with cooking spray and saute chicken for approximately 8 minutes until cooked through and no longer pink. Add diced water chestnuts and saute for another minute or two until soft and heated through. Note: Make sure to drain and discard extra marinade off the chicken before sauteing to allow the chicken to brown in the pan and not steam. Reduce heat to low, cover and keep warm.
Make the peanut sauce: combine soy sauce, peanut butter, broth, garlic-chile sauce, honey, salt and lime juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat, mixing and stirring well until sauce is smooth and blended. Toss noodles together with peanut sauce.
Add the peanut noodles into the large pan with the cooked chicken and water chestnuts, toss together well with tongs to blend the flavors and ingredients. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top, and garnish with chopped peanuts, cilantro, and sliced scallions. Add additional red pepper flakes or garlic-chile sauce for extra heat, as desired.
A sweet German Riesling wine would pair well with the spicy acidic flavors in this Asian dish.
I love cooking with honey – not only in the Fall or dead of Winter, but all year around. It’s such a nice substitute for regular sugar and gives a warm, homey flavor to almost all types of recipes. I recently picked up a copy of The Fresh Honey Cookbook, by Beekeeper, Caterer, Chef and Spokesperson for The National Honey Board and Café owner Laurey Masterson of Asheville NC. I fell in love with her vibrant recipes using different varieties of honey throughout all 12 months of the year – she offers honey-tasting tips and recipes featuring seasonal ingredients for dishes both savory and sweet.
Each chapter is organized around a specific honey for the month including orange blossom, tupelo, avocado, eucalyptus and blueberry honey and more. In January, she has a recipe for Meyer lemon and Honey-Marinated Chicken Skewers, Pork Tenderloin with Orange Blossom Honey Mustard and Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic. In the Summer, she features delicious fresh recipes for Grilled Garlic Shrimp with a Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce, Vermont-Style Summer Squash Casserole, and Broiled Peaches with Sourwood Honey.
She also goes into detail about her experience as a beekeeper and teaches readers how bees make honey, how it’s harvested, what they can do to help the bee population and what is going on in the hives throughout the year.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes from the book for the chilly months of the Winter season. Enjoy!
roasted delicata squash with tuscan kale
Delicata squash is naturally sweet and pairs so nicely with the kale and the other tastes of Italy and the Mediterranean. This recipe calls for pine nuts, which are quite expensive these days, but the buttery texture and flavor is so delicious that I am reluctant to suggest an alternative. This dish is great as a lunch salad or as a warm side dish. She recommends pairing this with her Deviled Beef Bones recipe made with Eucalyptus Honey (recipe follows).
3 Delicata squash (about 3 pounds total)
Extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound bow-tie pasta
2 bunches Italian (Tuscan Lacinato) kale
½ cup pine nuts
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut into 1-inch chunks (there’s no need to remove the edible skin). Arrange on a baking sheet and spray or brush with olive oil. Season with the salt and pepper. Roast 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Allow to cool.
3. Fill a large pot with water, add salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
4. Remove the leaves of the kale from the stems and cut into large pieces. Set up a steaming basket over boiling water, and steam the kale just until bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking and keep them bright green.
5. Toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat until light brown, 3 to 5 minutes. (Stay nearby while you’re toasting. Left unattended, they can easily burn.)
6. Combine the pasta, kale, squash, and pine nuts in a large bowl. Toss, and then add the cheese. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Enjoy!
deviled beef bones
Laurie grew up with these wonderful beef bones, which were leftovers from the standing rib beef roast served at her Mother’s Blueberry Hill restaurant. The fat rib bones have a lot of meat and are enough to make a substantial meal out of them. They are served in a barbecue sauce that is a dark, wintry mixture featuring Eucalyptus Honey, which resembles molasses or Louisiana cane syrup. It is then combined with mustard and served as a delicious sauce for the beef bones.
Eucalyptus Honey varies from light amber to very dark brown, depending on where the eucalyptus is growing. It has a stronger taste then the lighter honeys, but is very pleasing to folks who have a more adventurous palate. This dark honey is perfect for the chillier days of Autumn and Winter.
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon eucalyptus honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6-8 whole beef rib bones, cooked
Preheat the oven to 425°F if using cooked ribs, or 450°F if using uncooked ribs.
Combine the dry mustard, salt, Dijon mustard, vinegar, honey, molasses, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Whisk well.
If your ribs are already cooked, place them on a baking sheet, brush with the barbecue sauce, and cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Finish them under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes until crispy.
If your ribs are not cooked, place them in a baking pan, brush with the barbecue sauce, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F. Brush the ribs again with the sauce and return to the oven for 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove the ribs once more and brush with more sauce. Turn the heat to broil and broil for 5 to 7 minutes, until the ribs are crispy (but not burned!!). Serve warm.
pears with blue cheese, toasted pecans, and chestnut honey vinaigrette
I get excited by the proliferation of pears in the market in the winter. I imagine what it would be like to live in Washington or Oregon. And so, though they are not local to me in December, pears are available and abundant and become the foundation for this delicious salad. Sweet, salty, bitter, and sour: All four tastes are in this salad, which makes it a memorable one for your guests.
This recipe uses a Chestnut Honey, which is one of the stronger honeys prized in Tuscany as a local taste. Italians appreciate many more bitter flavors than we do, and it has a big taste explosion for your palate. The color, flavor and smell of Chestnut Honey varies depending on the source of the Chestnut trees. Descriptors go from light and slightly pungent to extremely strong, breathtaking and lingering.
For the vinaigrette
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey, preferably chestnut honey
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
¼ cup pecan pieces, toasted
4 ripe but firm pears
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (Maytag)
1. To make the vinaigrette, combine the orange juice, vinegar, and honey in a small bowl and stir with a wire whisk until well mixed. Drizzle the oil into the bowl in a thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended. This will take 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. To make the salad, toast the pecans in a small dry saucepan for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, watching carefully and tossing often so they don’t burn.
3. Cut the pears in half from the stem to the blossom end. Remove the core, and cut each half in half again.
4. Arrange the pear quarters on individual salad plates. Sprinkle with the cheese and toasted pecans and, just before serving, drizzle with the vinaigrette.
easy tarte tatin
I love tarte tatin, the inverted apple pastry, but I am not the best baker in the world, as I’m not really patient with careful measuring. Frankly, I am much more comfortable cooking than baking. But this recipe will produce a grand result even if you’re not a serious baker. And if you have any leftovers, they make a great breakfast.
Get the best tart local apples you can find. With that start, you’ll do very well.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup honey, preferably eucalyptus or local honey
3 pounds tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into wedges
Unbleached all-purpose flour, for the pastry
Ice cream for serving (optional)
1. Following the instructions on the package, thaw the puff pastry. This will take 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of pastry. You should be able to unfold it without breaking. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the honey. Stir well to blend thoroughly. Carefully arrange the apple wedges in the bottom of the skillet in a decorative pattern, taking special care on the first layer, as it will end up being the top of the tart. Take care, also, to fill in any holes with other apple pieces. Continue to layer the apples until you have used all the apple slices. Since they will shrink as they cook, you want the uncooked apples to be higher than the edges of the skillet, so add more if needed.
3. Cook over medium heat on the stove until the juices bubble up and change from clear to a rich amber color, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the heat and the consistency of your apples. As they cook, press the apples down with a rubber spatula; once the juices are visible, baste the apples with the juices. Keep an eye on them and don’t allow them to burn. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
4. Preheat the oven to 475°F.
5. Roll out the thawed pastry on a floured surface, until it is a square that can comfortably fit over the skillet. Lay the puff pastry over the cooked fruit, making sure that the pastry completely covers the apples. Tuck the pastry into the sides of the skillet, sealing in the apples.
6. Bake the pastry-covered skillet in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry puffs up and turns a golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
7. Place a serving platter on top of the cooked pastry and, holding tight, flip the skillet over so that the tart comes out of the skillet and ends up on the platter, pastry side down. Remove any of the cooked apples that might have stuck to the skillet and tuck them into the tart as needed.
8. Serve with ice cream, if you like, though it is perfect just as it is.
“Excerpted from The Fresh Honey Cookbook (c) by Laurey Masterton, photography (c) by Johnny Autry, used with permission from Storey Publishing.”
I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anything more delicious on the planet than a big creamy bowl of luscious Mac and Cheese. It’s one of those foods that takes you back to your childhood, bringing a huge dose of comfort on any dreary day.
Welcome the launch of the new cookbook Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese by authors Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord – who have taken this classic comfort food to a whole new level. Melt fuses gourmet ingredients with a wide array of pastas and handcrafted cheeses for rich, creamy and elegant comfort dishes that will appeal to all mac and cheese lovers alike and to cheese lovers everywhere. Their recipes are grown up versions made with artisanal cheeses and gourmet pasta combinations that will put your Mama’s Mac and Cheese to shame.
Inside the cookbook you’ll find a whole chapter dedicated to Cheese and another to Pasta: they discuss their research on the history and origins of all the different types of cheeses available and how to choose, prep and pair them with gourmet ingredients, wines and pastas for the maximum amount of flavors. You’ll also find some great recipes for fresh, unique Salads including Asparagus Salad with Ricotta, Fava Beans and Mint and Farfalle or Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo. A whole chapter of Stovetop Delights has recipes made with creamy, velvety cheese and pasta combinations such as Beef Stroganoff with Egg Noodles or Moody Blue and Roaring 40s with Honey Roasted Delicata Squash and Sage Butter with Rotini. There’s plenty of Hearty and Satisfying Mac and Cheese recipes with baked combinations full of texture and flavor too: Aged Mahon Gratin with Chorizo, Shallots, Spinach and Cavatappi or Cahill’s Irish Porter Cheddar with Bacon and Stout. They have another recipe chapter dedicated to Sweet dishes such as Sweet Potato Kugel and Fromage Blanc with Chevre, Peach and Ghost Pepper Canneloni.
If you’re a sucker for a creamy pot of Mac and Cheese like I am, you definitely need to try the recipes in this book – it will open your eyes to all the gorgeous gourmet combinations you can create if you just get a little bit creative and think outside the box (the BLUE box, that is!). Definitely a keeper – and great for the chilly months ahead to keep you cozy and comfy with a big old bowl of cheesy goodness.
Check out the trailer below with Stephanie and Garrett discussing the concept behind the book!
To celebrate the official release of Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, they are giving away yet another $500 set of Le Creuset cookware and a $100 gift certificate for Murray’s Cheese. No purchase is necessary to enter the giveaway.
Red Hawk Macaroni with Prosciutto and Raspberry Jam
Red Hawk, perhaps the most popular cheese made by California’s Cowgirl Creamery, is a mellow and complex washed-rind cheese. While it deserves its moment in the spotlight, it doesn’t fare well with complicated pairings; rather, this triple-cream appreciates a modest presentation that allows its pungent, meaty notes to speak for themselves.
For this dish, we decided to let Red Hawk’s heartiness take center stage, accompanied by only a bit of salty prosciutto and a touch of tart jam. You’ll be surprised how these two ingredients accentuate what makes Red Hawk so beloved—an understated intensity that puts it at the top of many cheese lovers’ top 10 lists.
8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
1 full wheel Red Hawk, rind intact, chopped into chunks
4 thin slices prosciutto, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons raspberry jam (plus more per your indulgence)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix pasta, cheese, and prosciutto. Sprinkle with salt and a few good turns of the pepper grinder. Toss until well combined.
4. Lightly oil four 8-ounce ramekins and fill them with equal amounts of the pasta, cheese, and prosciutto mixture. Add a scant ½ cup of cream to each ramekin.
5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place your ramekins onto the sheet.
Slide into oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until the cream has thickened into a nice gratin. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes. The cheese is supposed to bubble over the edges of the ramekins—that’s part of the charm of this dish. And it’s why you lined the baking sheet with foil.
6. Top each ramekin with 1 tablespoon raspberry jam before serving. Add more spoonfuls of jammy goodness if you see fit.
Additional pairings for the cheese: honey, panforte, dried apricots
Penne with Garrotxa, Serrano Ham, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Native to Catalonia, Spain, Garrotxa is a throaty, goaty cheese that imparts an almost Cheddar-like tanginess. A gray mold blankets this pasteurized flavor titan, which gets its smooth earthiness from the lush coastal grasses that feed the goats raised to make it. Cutting away the rind on this firm cheese is easy, and a sharp knife run down the sides will shave off the moldy exterior without sacrificing much of the Garrotxa beneath.
Here, Garrotxa coalesces with two other signature Spanish ingredients, sun-dried tomatoes and Serrano ham, to create an ethereal cheese gratin polished with just a touch of butter, milk, and crème fraîche. This recipe isn’t your typical melty, creamy macaroni and cheese; rather, it’s a drier dish that allows the ingredients to mingle coyly while remaining somewhat independent.
Serves 2 to 4
8 ounces penne
1 pound Garrotxa, shredded
¼ cup milk
½ cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
6 ounces Serrano ham slices, torn coarsely by hand into chunks
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander. Set aside.
3. In a saucepan, combine cheese, milk, crème fraîche, and butter. Cook over medium-low heat until cheese is mostly melted and you have a creamy sauce. To keep the cheese sauce from breaking, remove the sauce from the heat before the cheese is entirely melted. Season with pepper, adding more to taste if you like.
4. In a shallow buttered casserole dish, toss pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and Serrano ham. Pour the sauce over the pasta, then stir together until combined. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbling around the edges. Serve immediately.
Alternative cheeses: Ibores, Twig Farm Goat Tomme, Bardwell Farm’s Equinox
Wine pairings: Txakoli, Catalonian white wine, Grüner Veltliner
Additional pairings for the cheese: fig jam, picholine olives
Recipes: Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord, Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company Photos: Matt Armendariz, Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company
About the Authors
Stephanie is a freelance food writer, recipe developer, and multimedia producer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared on KQED, NPR, the Huffington Post, and a host of other outlets. Stephanie can be found most regularly on her food blog, The Culinary Life, where she explores the boundless world of flavor and texture.
Living in the city of Sacramento, Garrett McCord works as a food writer and recipe developer. His blog, Vanilla Garlic, looks at how life and food intertwine. His writing has appeared publications such as Saveur.com, The Huffington Post, Gourmet Live, the James Beard Award winning Epi-Log, Cheese Connoisseur, and the Sacramento News and Review and Edible Sacramento. He holds a master’s in English Composition from California State University, Sacramento, where he studied the rhetoric of the Slow Food Movement.