Posts Tagged ‘“italian”’

16th August
written by Steph

Linguine alle Vongole

I’ve said it before on this blog, but I’ll say it again: yes, you can eat pasta during the hot and humid days of summer! I realize the thought of a thick, heavy dish doesn’t necessarily appeal when the weather is breaking 100º, but there are ways to lighten up your pasta dishes to make them appropriate and appealing. The big thing is cutting back on the sauce – rather than something heavy or creamy, summer is the time when I turn to “barely there” sauces that are more like a drizzle and explosion of fresh ingredients. Your tastebuds and your A/C will thank you!

This simple dish of linguine and clams will whisk you away to Italy (where I’m sure they eat pasta all year round, regardless of soaring temperatures), all from the comfort of your own home. For inspiration, I combined two recipes, one from Rasa Malaysia, and one from Mario Batalli, courtesy of Epicurious. Some of you may be a bit leery of cooking shellfish at home, but I assure you nothing could be simpler than this dish. Best of all, this dish only has about 15 minutes of active cook time, so you won’t spend your time slaving in front of a hot stove. Elegant and simple, this is summer dining at its best! Ingredients (for two)
  • 1.5 lbs of fresh littleneck clams, cleaned and scrubbed (see below for info on cleaning clams)
  • 8 oz linguine… use the best you can afford
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp of crush red pepper flakes (add more if you like your dishes spicier)
  • ½ cup white wine (we used Riesling, which I’m sure is a sin, but it worked for us… use whatever you like to drink)
  • 6 tbsp of parsley, finely chopped (+ 2 extra tbsp for garnish)
  • juice from ½ a lemon
  • salt to taste
15th May
written by Steph

Spicy Mediterranean Pasta

This week has been ridiculously long, so I sent an email out yesterday afternoon to some friends suggesting a casual get together of cocktails and a light dinner. I thought it would be nice to catch up in a low-stress setting.  Now, the weather here in Nashville has been kind of wonky – chilly and brisk one day, only to be muggy and gross the next – and yesterday was definitely a case of the latter.  So I had to come up with a dinner that would be satisfying but not heavy and overly rich.  So, I came up with this spicy pasta dish, and it wound up being a huge hit.  As you can see from the pictures, it looks quite elegant and fancy schmancy if you plate it on a platter and serve it family style, but I promise it’s super simple.

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 1 lb of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • ground coriander seeds
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced (not minced)
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 small red peppers, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
  • 3 large tomatoes, peeled and roughly seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 16 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • ½ tbsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 cup of vodka
  • zest and juice from ½ lemon
  • feta cheese
  • fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • spaghetti noodles (or other noodle of your choice)
9th January
written by Steph

The finished product

The finished product

I'm assuming that those of you who are smart enough to read this blog are also smart enough to assemble a pizza on your own (plus we've held your hand before), so this will be a bit of a departure from our normal recipe series in that I'm not going to walk you through the steps here one by one.  Instead, I'm going to tell you what toppings we put on this so-called "Supreme Pizza" and focus on one of the more important parts of this dish: the sauce.  You see, when it comes to pizza, I'm insanely picky - sure it's hard to screw up, but it's also hard to get REALLY good pizza - and more often than not I'm let down the sauce component.  Most pizzas are too saucy, or rely on sauces that are too thick and akin to tomato paste, both of which are sins that will have me turning up my nose.  My favorite kind of sauce is one that tastes like true tomatoes and that are light and liquid-y rather than goopy.  Turns out I'm in luck, because this type of sauce is actually really easy to make yourself (and will have you shunning all of that tinned/jarred sauce nonsense). (more…)
4th November
written by Steph

Bacon, Caramelized Onion, & Fig Pizza

Bacon, Caramelized Onion, & Fig Pizza

Ever since discovering the fresh pizza dough at Trader Joe’s, we’ve been into making pizza in a big way.  Prior to this, we were using the pre-rolled (and it would seem pre-baked) crusts from the deli section of Kroger that were kind of like chewy crackers, and were just not very good.  We could have made the dough from scratch, I realize, but as much as I love to cook, I don’t really do baking, and anything that involves dough and yeast… it makes me VERY uncomfortable.  Much better to just get the dough pre-done and worry only about rolling it out.  Of course, if you’re in the mood for thin crust, then you can always use a flour tortilla, which is something we’ve also done quite frequently in the past, and it works out quite well, provided you’re not using a lot of wet/soupy ingredients on your ‘za (as there’s nothing particularly wet about the ingredients used in this pizza, it would be a great candidate for the thin crust treatment).  And yes, in Nashville, homemade pizza is really the only way to go, as there is really a dearth of good pizza places here.  It is sad, and you can be sure that we will go overboard on correcting our lack of pizza in our life when we visit New York City next week! I admit that I came up with the idea of this pizza all on my own on one very hungry day, but as with most things, if you input them into Google, you find that others have thought of it before.  I offered up a potential recipe for you guys to follow in the Week 1 Mealplan post through such a search strategy, but pizza is so easy, I didn’t bother following one for this. (more…)

22nd March
written by Steph
Pasta alla Vodka

Pasta alla Vodka

Warning!  The following recipe (which I adapted from one posted over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks) is SO good that I cannot be held accountable if you should find yourself eating three times your regular portion size, simply because you can’t bear to stop tasting it, luxuriating in the tangy, creamy, slightly sweet sauce.  This recipe is quick, easy and oh so delicious… but it is quite rich, so while moderation is the key, I defy you to resist going back for seconds… or thirds!  [Simona, I fully expect you to try this recipe.  If anyone can be guaranteed to have vodka on hand, I am betting it is you! 😉 ] Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 – 3 cloves (or tablespoons!) of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of vodka
  • 1 can of tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes, or even tomato sauce)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt & pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes  (they’re HOT, so add as many shakes as your mouth can take… we’re wusses, so I tend to just shake it 2 – 3 times over the pan, and call it a day)
  • ½ tsp of dried tarragon
  • ½ tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan/Romano/Asiago (i.e., firm Italian cheese)
  • lots of pasta… probably the entire package/box (I finished off many boxes, using penne, rigatoni (or was it rotini?), and some spinach-stuffed ravioli)
11th February
written by Steph
Steph's Take on Taryn's Jamie Oliver Parsnip Pasta

Steph's Take on Taryn's Jamie Oliver Parsnip Pasta

OK, here’s the thing: my friend Taryn has two Jamie O. pasta dishes that feature pretty prominently in her “cooking for company” repertoire.  The thing is, I think that over the years, I’ve slowly begun to amalgamate these two dishes, so that I’m no longer sure which ingredients belong in each dish independently.  Instead, I just chuck a bunch of things into a pan and call it a night.  A delicious night, but one that might differ significantly from what you’d get if Taryn were cooking.  So really, I guess this is Steph’s Take on Taryn’s Jamie Oliver Parsnip Pasta… But fear not!  Taryn is likely to comment on this post and point out all the ways in which I’m steering you wrong.  For what it’s worth, however, the way I made this dish was perfectly delicious so you could follow my directions and still be successful! So, parsnips in pasta.  You’ve probably never thought to do that, right?  Well, you really should try it because it’s really quite yummy.  Also, as is my M.O. when it comes to cooking, this recipe comes together really quickly, and is perfect for a weeknight meal. Ingredients (for 2 generous portions) •    2 – 3 Italian sausages, casings removed •    1 – 2 parsnips, peeled and thinly shaved •    6+ mushrooms, thinly sliced •    1 tbsp olive oil •    2 tbsp butter •    salt & pepper •    good quality flat “tangly” pasta (e.g., fettuccine or tagliatelle) •    grated parmesan or romano cheese, for garnish •    sprigs of parsley, for garnish (optional) (more…)
3rd February
written by Steph
Fantastic Fish Lasagna... So says Jaime, so say I!

Fantastic Fish Lasagna... So says Jamie, so say I!

For Christmas, my good friend Taryn gave me a copy of Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook Cook With Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook.  It’s a gorgeous book, and each recipe is devoted a full-page picture.  Jamie also covers a bunch of techniques (such as cutting veggies, keeping knives sharp, various popular herbs & their uses, etc.,), and provides recipes for each major course. I first amused myself by flipping through the book, just looking at the pictures to get some ideas for dishes I might make.  One thing I noted was that several of the dishes seemed to be geared to a more European market, because many of the ingredients were not ones you’d find in your average grocery store (whereas I know they’re readily available in standard UK supermarkets).  Also, Jamie has the tendency to use weights for ingredients rather than our traditional measurements of cups, which was also interesting.  Certain recipes in this book I’m sure I’ll never make (sorry, but I doubt I’ll be making my own pasta anytime soon, no matter how good it looks!), but many recipes did catch my eye.  One I couldn’t get out of my mind, so I decided that I would give his Fantastic Fish Lasagna a go.  Some of you might be shocked to read this, because generally I’m not one to go for a fish dish.  Still, it looked mighty good (and called for mild, white fish), so I decided to make this dish in order to break in Taryn’s cookbook.  I think she’d be proud of me (plus, it’s not gnocchi, so she really can’t complain!). Below is my translation of the ingredients used, as well as my own personal method for making this dish.  Elements of Jamie’s method were difficult to follow (e.g., the final dish clearly has shrimp in it, but he never actually mentions when you’re supposed to add anything other than the shrimp heads… which he then throws away.), so I assumed certain things and hoped for the best.  It wound up turning out well, so I think if you follow my notes, you should be fine if you attempt this dish.  I think when Jamie says he will make you a better cook, he is assuming you are already a pretty decent one to begin with!  I will not make such an assumption! 😉 (more…)
27th January
written by Steph
Thin Crust Tortilla Pizza

Thin Crust Tortilla Pizza

When it comes to pizza, in my mind, the thinner the crust the better.  When Tony & I went to Chicago, we steered clear of their pies and instead focused on dim sum, since deep-dish really isn’t our thing.  But, I’m also not a baker, and we don’t even own a rolling pin, so making homemade dough is out of the question (also, would I be able to get it acceptably thin?).  Enter tortilla pizzas.  If you don’t mind a pizza that has a wafer thin crust, then this is just the thing for you.  These pizzas are quick to make, cheap, super easy, and can be completely customized to suit your pizza topping needs.  Below is a list of what we used to make our pizzas this weekend, but clearly you can add or remove things based on your personal preferences. Ingredients (for 1 pizza)
  • 1 burrito sized flour tortilla
  • pesto
  • sliced fresh mushrooms
  • thinly sliced red onion
  • fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • balsamic vinegar
Notice the total lack of quantities for this recipe?  That’s because this is one I’m winging! (more…)