Summer is in full swing, and we all know what that means…TOMATO SEASON! I’m sure you all have a bountiful crop of tomatoes lying around from your garden..and if not, a plentiful supply of them from the farmers market or grocery store. So what better recipe to make with them than a gorgeous, easy Summer pasta dish?
Now I know this may sound weird, but I am not a fan of raw tomatoes. Never have, never will. Yeah, I am THAT person. But, when they’re cooked with a plethora of fresh ingredients to sweeten them up and break them down into a gorgeous sauce or salsa? I’m a huge tomato fan once they are transformed into some sweet and savory deliciousness…so here we go. Balsamic Tomato Basil Pasta with Fresh Ricotta.
This is truly Summer in a Bowl, my friends. This pasta dish is so simple and fresh you’re gonna love it. I made a lovely chunky sauce with a batch of chopped fresh tomatoes, simmered in 7 Barrels Balsamic Vinegar and their Sweet Basil Olive Oil (omg #LOVE!), with sautéed sweet onions and garlic, red pepper flakes and chicken stock. Then I tossed the pasta with a little bit of the pasta water, added the cooked balsamic tomato sauce, and topped it with fresh basil, some big dollops of fresh ricotta, and lots of Parmesan cheese. Juicy, sweet, tangy, savory perfection.
This is truly Summer in a Bowl, my friends. Made with fresh tomatoes simmered in 7 Barrels Balsamic Vinegar and Sweet Basil Olive oil, with sautéed sweet onions and garlic making a lovely chunky tomato sauce..topped with fresh basil and ricotta cheese and more Parmesan cheese! And it's so easy to make that you won't be slaving over the stove in this hot weather either. Juicy, sweet, tangy, savory perfection.
1 pound of pasta, reserving some of the pasta cooking water
1 tablespoon Seven Barrels Sweet Basil extra virgin olive oil
4-6 large tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Seven Barrels Traditional Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese, for garnish
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into pieces, for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add tomatoes, onions, garlic and red pepper flakes.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat, until onions begin to get soft and lightly browned and tomatoes release some of their liquid.
Place balsamic vinegar, chicken stock, and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk well. Carefully add it to the skillet and continue to cook for a few minutes more until the sauce slightly thickens; remove from the heat.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the tomatoes, and toss together over low heat for an additional few minutes until the sauce coats the pasta. Add a small amount of the pasta cooking water if the mixture is too dry, to your desired sauce consistency.
Place the pasta in large bowl and top with fresh grated Parmesan, ricotta cheese, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot, immediately with some crusty garlic bread.
Now that Fall is finally here, I’m so excited to start cooking comfort food again with flavorful seasonal ingredients like wild mushrooms, truffles, sage, prosciutto, toasted nuts, hearty greens, whole grains…yum. Fall is definitely my favorite season of the year when it comes to food 🙂
In particular, I love making homemade pasta and one-pot dishes, which is so easy to do with my KitchenAid® Gourmet Pasta Press that attaches to my KitchenAid® Stand Mixer.
It makes six different types of pasta in a snap: Bucatini, Spaghetti, Rotini, small and large Macaroni, and Rigatoni simply by swapping out a different disc for each pasta cut…how cool is that?!?
I decided to make a homemade Buckwheat Bucatini with Truffled Wild Mushroom Sauce, Prosciutto, Spinach, Pecans and Sage. I love Buckwheat pasta because of its rustic flavor, and it’s perfect for fall pasta dishes. Similar to the traditional Italian Pizzoccheri (flat buckwheat fettuccine), buckwheat noodles have hearty depth of flavor, and pair perfectly with warm fall flavors and ingredients like wilted greens, potatoes, cabbage, cheese and garlic.
My pasta dish is topped with a luscious savory sauce made with crispy prosciutto and sage, nutty toasted pecans, garlic, shallots and wild mushrooms (portabella, porcini, oyster, beech, cremini, and shiitake) that I sautéed in olive oil and butter, then made into a luscious sauce with chicken broth and truffle oil.
CLICK HERE TO SEE STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS AND THE FULL RECIPE ON THE KITCHENTHUSIAST BLOG!
I’d love to hear how you would use the KitchenAid Pasta Press and what recipes you would make! Share your take on my Buckwheat Bucatini & Truffled Wild Mushroom Sauce recipe on KitchenAid’s Instagram page using #MadeWithKitchenAid for a chance to be featured.
Spring is finally here in full bloom, and I’m so excited to cook with fresh, seasonal ingredients! One of my favorite pasta dishes to make for spring is this tasty and fresh Homemade Spring Fettuccine with Pancetta, Peas & Asparagus.
It features homemade fresh spinach and egg fettuccine made with flour, eggs and olive oil, topped with crispy pancetta, fresh scallions, garlic, baby green peas and asparagus in a tasty parmesan cream sauce.
You simply make the dough in your KitchenAid 14-cup food processor,
knead it and cut it into a few pieces,
then use the KitchenAid pasta attachment to roll it out the pasta sheets
and cut into lovely fresh fettuccine
served with a gorgeous Parmesan cream sauce with fresh veggies all tossed around with the pasta and cheese right in the pan. YUM.
It’s so delicious and easy to make and tastes like Spring in a bowl!
I made myself a pledge to focus on being healthier and happier since the New Year has started… getting more sleep, balancing work and life better, focusing on my business and my brand with a revived passion, reaching out to friends and family more often, traveling more, eating healthier and getting more walking around the city in, and just choosing to be happy every day, no matter what. NO EXCUSES.
BUT, see the thing is…I hate diets. They never work and I slowly grow tired of counting calories and feeling deprived and end up eating like a maniac and ruining all the good i just did by torturing myself on the diet in the first place. So I’ve decided to go in a different direction by simply cutting sugar out of my diet, eating more healthy lean proteins and fresh veggies and cutting DOWN on carbs, not fully out. It seems to lessen the pain of a diet and I truly feel better and am more conscious of what I eat by tracking the amount of carbs I’m taking in. So far, so good.
So I decided I wouldn’t fully deprive myself of the carb-laden pasta dishes I crave in the Winter and that I’ve been missing out on, and made a Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom & Bacon FettuccineAlfredo that’s absolutely to die for. I used some lower-carb fettuccine pasta (Carba-Nada, which I got on Amazon for $10 and it only has 17 grams of carbs in 1.5 cups of pasta...LOVE IT). I sautéed some chicken breasts, shallots, garlic, bacon and added some spinach and mushrooms to make the base for the pasta. Then I made a delicious Alfredo sauce with half and half, unsalted butter, whipped cream cheese and shredded Parmesan cheese, thinned down with some water to make a semi-healthier version of this luscious, velvety (and usually super rich and fattening) pasta sauce.
I hope you’re getting through the Winter OK yourselves, and if not, whip up a batch of this deliciousness. Guilt-Free. You’ll be just fine, I promise. 😉
1/4 cup - 1/2 cup water, as needed for desired sauce consistency
CHICKEN, SPINACH & MUSHROOM PASTA
Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions, drain and set aside. Reserve some of the pasta water to add back in to the pasta sauce later on, for consistency.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy and cooked through. Drain on paper towels, crumble and set aside.
Rinse and pat dry chicken breasts, brush olive oil on and season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.
Drain bacon grease from saute pan and raise heat to medium high. Saute chicken breasts, about 6 minutes per side, until a nice browning occurs and chicken is cooked through. Set aside, and keep warm with tented foil. (NOTE: You may also grill the chicken if desired at the same cooking time).
In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of butter and saute shallots for a few minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add sliced mushrooms and saute for another few minutes until they are soft.
Defrost frozen spinach in microwave for 5 minutes, drain and then add spinach (you can also add fresh spinach now) to the pan with the shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes until all cooked through, add crumbled bacon and season with freshly ground black pepper. Turn heat to low and keep warm while making the Alfredo sauce.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter, cream and whipped cream cheese over medium-low heat.
Add shredded Parmesan cheese and season with freshly ground black pepper. If sauce seems too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water to the sauce to thin it down to desired consistency.
Pour the Alfredo sauce into the pan with the spinach and mushroom mixture, slice the chicken into slices or chunks and add to the sauce and stir together well.
Serve hot over the pasta (or you can mix the pasta into the sauce ahead of serving, whatever you prefer).
So here it is, the last day of the year 2015..oh how time flies, and so much has happened! I’m so thankful for all the wonderful opportunities that have come into my life and the lessons learned along the way. Here are some of my Top / Most Popular posts from The Artful Gourmet blog this year — and wishing everyone a safe and Happy New Year 2016!
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.”
Today is one of those dreary Fall days where it’s cold and rainy and I’m in need of a little pick me up from some classic comfort food. One that involves BACON. And CHEESE. And PASTA. And all those yummy yums that aren’t that good for you. I was looking through some of my family recipes and this one came up that looked perfect for the mood I’m in today. It’s a sinfully good baked Pierogi casserole that my family used to make around the holidays – I remember sitting around the table with my family devouring this tasty dish with absolutely no shame. It’s not fancy. It’s easy to make. Has layers of flavor from the crispy bacon, earthy mushrooms, creamy sauce and tangy sauerkraut. And it’s so darn GOOD.
Traditional Pierogies are like Polish or Ukrainian Ravioli, made with fresh made dough that is filled with potatoes and cheese, meat or sauerkraut, and usually boiled or sauteed in butter with golden brown fried onions. This recipe takes the main ingredients of Pierogi (butter, mushrooms, sauerkraut, bacon, fried onions, pasta and cheese) and blends them together into a bubbling baked one-pot dish of goodness you’re gonna die for. It’s the ultimate comfort food perfect for a chilly dreary day that will keep you coming back for more…trust me.