Category Archives: Pasta

Crab Mac ‘N Cheese

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Wow!

I cannot believe it.  This is my 500th Post on this Blog and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate with my favorite comfort food.

I absolutely love Macaroni and Cheese and this is a very special dish meant for any occasion. The homemade bechamel sauce compliments the sweet jumbo lump crab meat perfectly. Serve it as a side dish or as an entree it’s a fantastic and budget friendly way to serve crab meat to a crowd with style.

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds conchigliette pasta*
1/4 cup butter
1 shallot, finely diced
3 cloves garlic,finely minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over
Chopped fresh parsley or crushed dried parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant and softened,for 3 minutes. Add flour and whisk until combined and golden, for about 1 minute. Add milk and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 2 minutes, until sauce is thickened and smooth.

Stir in 1/2 white cheddar, the mozzarella and Asiago until slightly melted, then remove from heat.

Add the bechamel sauce and crab meat to pot with cooked pasta and gently stir with a wooden spoon until completely combined.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan and bake until bubbly, for 20 minutes.

Garnish the dish with parsley and serve immediately.

*Cooks Notes:
Conchiglie [koŋˈkiʎʎe], is a type of pasta in which the name is derived from the Italian word “conchiglia” .Commonly known as “shells” or “seashells” , this pasta is usually sold in the plain durum wheat variety, and also in colored varieties which use natural pigments, such as tomato extract, squid ink or spinach extract. The shell shape of the pasta allows the sauce to adhere to it. A miniature variety called conchigliette is also available.

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Orecchiette with Broccoli

Photo Credit: http://www.emikodavies.com

Orecchiette originates in the sunny southern province of Puglia, Italy, where the weather is warm and the crops plentiful. This pasta’s round, concave shape led to its name, which means “little ears” in Italian. The ridged exterior and cup-like interior captures chunky sauces and scoops up small vegetables, making orecchiette perfect to serve with sautés—sautés that begin, of course, with extra virgin olive oil, of which Puglia is the largest producer of in Italy.

This is a simple dish from Puglia in Southern Italy, traditionally always prepared with orecchiette and broccoli rabe. We prepared this dish using the more commonly found vegetable, broccoli. When buying broccoli, choose vegetables that have a uniform green color with no major brown or yellowing spots. The broccoli stem should feel firm and the crown should be tight and springy; soft stems or limp florets are a sign of old broccoli. Store broccoli in the crisper drawer in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Broccoli should keep fairly well for at least a week.

Orecchiette also makes a nice soupy pasta when cooked in the same water with potatoes and a big handful of arugula, and garnished with garlic and chili in olive oil. When you yell “Dinner!” your family and friends will be all ears.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head broccoli,  trimmed and cut into florets
1/4 cup water, or as needed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
A squeeze of fresh  lemon juice
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
1 pound dried orecchiette pasta

Directions:
To blanch the broccoli: Prepare a bowl of ice water and have it next to the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a heaping teaspoon of salt. Add the broccoli florets and cook until crisp-tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately in the ice water.If you would like softer vegetables, cook for an additional 30 secondss.

Saute the garlic in oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1 minute. Add broccoli and a little water and cook,  stirring occasionally,  until the broccoli is bright green and soft, but still a little crunchy, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper to taste and a sprinkle of cheese. Stirring and cook until cheese is melted. Add a  squeeze of lemon juice and set it aside until the pasta is ready.

Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoon salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.

Add the pasta and 2-3 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water to  the saucepan with the broccoli and toss until combined then serve immediately with a handful of grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil over the top.

 

Cook’s Notes:
Pecorino cheese can be substituted for the Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired.

If fresh broccoli is not at hand, frozen broccoli that has been thawed and drained can be used in this dish. A 10 ounce bag will do.

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Lobster Fettuccine

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There is nothing like the simplicity of bringing together fresh ingredients for a spectacular meal.

We served this up, today, for Sunday Brunch.

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The F Word Weekly Challenge

Chicken Parmesan with Tomato Basil Sauce, Mozzarella, Spaghetti, & Broccoli Rabe.

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Gordon’s Recipe:

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Grilled Chicken & Mozzarella Ravioli

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A simple filling of grilled chicken meat and mozzarella cheese, makes a delicious ravioli that goes perfectly with a creamy Alfredo sauce for a light lunch or dinner. Fresh herbs like parsley and thyme sprinkled over as a garnish also adds color and flavor to the dish.

This was an experiment and exact measurements were not used, but I am perfecting the recipe, everything from scratch and will be sharing it with you all.

 

 

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Cacio e Pepe

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Utterly simple yet supremely satisfying, Cacio e Pepe is  the quintessential pasta dish from Roman cuisine. “Cacio e Pepe” means “cheese and pepper”.  Because the recipe is so elemental, it depends on using only three highest-quality ingredients possible. As the name suggests, the ingredients of the dish are very simple and include only black pepper, Pecorino Romano cheese, and pasta such as a long, thin spaghetti like tonnarelli or vermicelli.  A true cacio e pepe recipe does not needs any oil, cream or butter.

The cacio e pepe recipe is one of the most ancient Italian dishes. The legend of this recipe dates back to the days of  the Roman Empire. For centuries, cacio e pepe has been the perfect meal of the Roman shepherds. Dried pasta, aged pecorino and black peppers are easy-to-carry ingredient and hard to spoil.

One of the things I learned  from experienced cooks is that the most difficult recipes are the simply ones – the ones with less  ingredients.

If you were to watch a practiced hand make cacio e pepe, you might think the instructions were as simple as this: Cook spaghetti and drain. Toss with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper. Serve. But we all know that the simplest recipes can often be the most confounding, and so it is with cacio e pepe. The most important steps to be taken in preparing this dish is to leave some of the hot cooking water with the pasta and speed: If the water cools before melting the cheese, the sauce will clump.The heat melts the cheese, while the starches in the water help bind the pepper and cheese to the pasta, creating a creamy, emulsified sauce that coats each strand of spaghetti with flavor.

Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients:
Sea salt
1 pound spaghetti or tonnarelli
2 1/2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano

4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Salt the water. When the salt has dissolved, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the Pecorino Romano, the pepper, and a small ladle of pasta cooking water. Using the back of a large wooden spoon, mix vigorously and quickly to form a paste.

When the pasta is cooked, use a large strainer to remove it from the cooking water and quickly add it to the sauce in the bowl, keeping the cooking water boiling on the stove. Toss vigorously, adjusting with additional hot water a tablespoon or two at a time as necessary to melt the cheese and to obtain a creamy sauce that completely coats the pasta.

Plate and sprinkle each portion with some of the remaining Pecorino Romano and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Cook’s Notes:
And if you really want the full Roman traditional experience of eating cacio e pepe, make a crispy Parmesan bowl. Simply spread 3/4 cup Parmesan in a thin layer on the bottom of a non-stick saucepan and cook for three minutes, or until it becomes pliable. Remove the cheese sheet from the pan with a spatula and use a ramekin or small bowl to mold it.Arrange the cacio e pepe in its cheese cradle and top with more cheese.

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Shrimp Pomodoro

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Sesame Shrimp and Pork Meatballs with Noodles

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Shrimp and Pork Meatballs combined with bok choy, and lo mein makes for a fun twist on an old classic, and an awesome dinner for 4 in less than 30 minutes!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
¾ pounds ground pork
1/2 pound large (16-20 count) shrimp, devined, shelled and minced
1 egg white
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6  tablespoons soy sauce divided
¼ cup sesame seeds
4 tablespoons olive oil
One 8-ounce package lo mein noodles
1 bunch scallions
1/2 pound baby bok choy
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 medium red sweet bell pepper, sliced

Directions:
Mix the ground pork,  minced shrimp, and egg white with 2 tablespoons of the  soy sauce. With wet hands, form meat into 16 equal balls. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on a plate and roll the balls through, so they are completely coated with sesame seeds.

Heat half the oil in a large skillet and cook the meatballs over medium heat for 2 minutes. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Steam for 7 minutes., or until cooked through.

While meatballs steam, prepare the noodles according to package directions until al dente. Slice the scallions and bok choy. Heat remaining oil in a wok or skillet and stir-fry the ginger, garlic, and peppers for 2 minutes. Add the bok choy and the remaining soy sauce. Sauté for 3 minutes, or until peppers are tender. Stir in the noodles and green onions. Divide the noodles onto 4 plates and top with the meatballs.

Serve with extra soy sauce to taste, on the side.

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Spaghetti Squash alla Amatrciana

 

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Sugo all’amatriciana or Amatriciana Sauce, originathWUU97UI6.jpgting in a small town of Amatrice, located  in northern Lazio, a region of central Italy near the Adriatic Sea coast . The area is also known as the center of the food-agricultural area of Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park.

Sadly, the town was devastated by a powerful earthquake in August 2016.

1024px-amatrice_-_corsoView of Corso Umberto I in Amatrice before the 2016 earthquake.
Photo credit: Mario1952, August 2008.

This type of pasta sauce is known for its meaty contents. The traditional Amarticiana Sauce will typically include tomatoes combined with pork meat sautéed in olive oil, and seasonings and aromatics, which generally are minced onions, garlic if desired, a small amount of ground chile pepper, and a pinch of black pepper. The recipe when made in the manner of a true Amatrice sauce, is served with cured pork meat from the cheek of the pig, which is referred to as guanciale.

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Guanciale. Photo Credit: Food52.com

According to popular tradition, numerous cooks of the Popes down the centuries came from Amatrice. In the Amatrice style of cooking, this sauce goes particularly well as a topping for strand pasta such as spaghetti, bucatini, perciatelli, vermicelli or fresh ravioli.

In this version of the recipe, spaghetti squash offers a hearty twist with its noodle-like strands.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 large spaghetti squash*
Olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
7 ounces guanciale (cured pork jowl)*
One 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes*
1/2 cup tomato purée
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup  grated pecorino cheese, plus more for garnish
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat the over to 450º F.

Half the squash lengthwise (See Cook’s Notes).

Dice tthe guanciale into 1/2-inch cubes.

Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash on top of the foil lined baking sheet and drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the cut surfaces of the squash and season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the squash cut side done and roast the squash until tender, 25 to 35 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven or sauce pan, add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and spear in an even layer. Heat the pan to medium high heat. Fry the guanciale until crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the guanciale to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Add the onion to the sauce pan and sauté, stirring until soft and slightly caramelized, 6 to 7 minutes.

Add the crushed red pepper and garlic to the pan with the onion and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and the tomato puree. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until sauce is warmed through. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed. Remove from the heat.

Using a fork, rake the roasted squash flesh to create spaghetti like strands and add the sauce in the pan. Stir in half pecorino cheese and half the guanciale into the sauce.

Divide the spaghetti squash Amatrciana between four serving bowls. Garnish with basil and the remaining pecorino cheese and serve with a good crusty bread.

Enjoy!

*Cook’s Notes: 
Spaghetti squash is a group of cultivars of Cucurbita pepo subsp. pepo. It is actually a fruit that ranges from ivory to yellow/orange in color. The orange varieties have a higher carotene content. Its center contains many large seeds. Its flesh is bright yellow or orange.Starr_070730-7822_Cucurbita_pepo.jpg

Tip: When raw, the flesh is solid and similar to other raw squash. The thickness of rawsquash2.jpg squash can make it vey difficult to cut into. It may be helpful to prick the squash all over with a fork and place it on microwaveable dish and warm the squash up in 30-second intervals to soften the squash before attempting to cut it in half. It may take up to 5-10 minutes to achieve the desired softness.

Spaghetti squash can vary in size as well. When cooked, the flesh falls away from the fruit in ribbons or strands like spaghetti. Taking this aspect into consideration a wider time range for roasting.

Guanciale is an Italian cured meat prepared from pork jowl or cheeks. Its name is derived from “guancia”, which is Italian for cheek. The pork cheeks are rubbed with salt, sugar, and spices, such as ground black pepper or red pepper and thyme or fennel and sometimes garlic, and cured for three weeks or until it loses approximately 30% of its original weight. A well prepared guanciale is full-flavored, balanced between being well-seasoned and sweet. It’s flavor is stronger than other pork products, such as pancetta, and its texture is more delicate. Upon cooking, the fat typically melts away giving great depth of flavor to the dishes and sauces it is used in. Usually found in specialty markets and italian grocers and deli shops, it is what gives the sauce its characteristic flavor. If guanicale is not available, you can used bacon or pancetta as a substitute. The flavor will not be the same, but it will give the essence of a good Amatriciana sauce, but you will have to adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

San Marzano tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) is a variety of plum tomatoes that 450px-TomateSanMarzano.jpg originated from the small town of San Marzano sul Sarno, near Naples, Italy, and were first grown in volcanic soil in the shadow of Mount  Vesuvius.Legend has it that the first seed of this tomato came to Campania in 1770, as a gift from the Viceroyalty of Peru to the Kingdom of Naples, and that it was planted in the area of San Marzano sul Sarno.

San Marzano tomatoes work well in this dish, mainly because  the taste is stronger, sweeter and less acidic than Roma tomatoes. The most common brands of canned San Marzano tomatoes available in  local supermarkets and these include Cento, Nina, La Bella, Solania, Vantia, La Valle and Strianese.

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Lobster Tortellini in Anise Broth

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