Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tomato Basil Soup-creamy with NO cream!

One more Michael Chiarello Recipe....yes, he's that GOOD!
I made this last week and could not get enough of it! I paired it with fresh mozarella and tomato paninis and we had a super easy, yummy, and satisfying meal.

12 large (about 4 pounds) tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
12 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped yellow onions
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, plus few leaves torn for garnish
2 cups cold water
For the bruschetta:
1 loaf country-style bread
Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Prepare the tomatoes. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, 1/4 cup of the oil, the vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper, to taste. Spread the tomatoes out on a non-reactive baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes in the oven until very dark in spots, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove and allow to cool a bit.
Prepare the bruschetta. Cut the bread crosswise into slices about 1-inch thick (you will need 8 slices). Lightly brush the slices on both sides with oil and season with salt. Place the slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until the bruschetta are golden brown and just beginning to crisp, about 6 minutes.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining 1/4 cup oil, the onions, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions are very soft, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the 2 cups basil leaves and saute with the onions for about 1 minute.

Add the roasted tomatoes and water to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Puree the tomato mixture in a blender. Start the motor at a slow speed and increase gradually. Alternatively you can use an immersion blender right in the pot. The mixture should be very smooth. You should have about 8 cups. You can prepare the soup to this point and refrigerate it. When ready to serve, pour the soup into a medium saucepan and bring it to a slow simmer over medium heat.
Serve the soup. Place 1 bruschetta in the center of each shallow soup bowl. Pour the soup around each bruschetta. Garnish with torn basil leaves.

Skirt steak wtih bleu cheese fondue

One more Michael Chiarello recipe....this one is MOUTH WATERING.

1 1/2 pound skirt steak, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices, room temperature
2 cups jarred pesto
Gray salt and freshly ground black pepper
Blue Cheese Fondue, recipe follows
Soak 15 wooden skewers in cold water for 30 minutes. Heat the grill.

Thread the meat onto skewers, season with salt and pepper, and coat with the pesto. Grill to desired doneness. You can also cook the meat to medium rare then finish it off in the oven just before the party.

Cook's note: Have the butcher slice the skirt steak for you. Serve cooked meat skewered into a loaf of bread for a fun presentation next to the Blue Cheese Fondue. Other garnishes (like apples, etc.) can be arranged stabbed into the loaf as well.

Blue Cheese Fondue:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 pound Cambozola blue cheese, crumbled, or other blue cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small pan over medium-low heat, cook the butter, thyme, and garlic until the garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to let the garlic brown. Add the cream, raise the heat to medium, and bring the cream to a simmer. Cook until the cream is reduced by 1/3. Lower the heat to maintain a slow simmer. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the pepper and pour into a fondue pot set over low heat.

Michael Chiarello's Stuffed Portobellos

Michael Chiarello. My favorite chef of all time....anything that has his name attached is nothing short of delicious. These are easy and delicious. Enjoy.

12 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed and gills removed
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
sea salt, preferably gray salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan
4 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
4 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
12 (1/2-inch) slices fresh mozzarella, roughly 1 to 1 1/2-ounces per slice
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the portabellas in the balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup of olive oil, gray salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the mushrooms on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

While the mushrooms are cooling mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan, herbs and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil.

Place 1 slice (2 if the mushrooms are large) of mozzarella in the cupped side of each mushroom. Distribute the bread and herb mixture evenly over the mushrooms and return to the oven to roast for 5 to 6 minutes or until the mozarella is molten and the bread and herb topping a nice golden brown. Serve either hot or at room temperature and enjoy.

Michelle Anslinger's Italian Wedding Soup-Better than Giada's!

Italian Wedding Soup-Courtesy of Michelle Anslinger

If you know Michelle, the title alone should be enough said, and if you don't know her, then well, you know me, and that should be enough said. This is amazing.....ENOUGH SAID!

· 1 pound dark green (I used swiss chard, but Ive also used kale or spinach...they all end up tasting about the same) cut into large bite-sized pieces
· Salt and pepper to taste
· Extra-virgin olive oil
· 4 cloves garlic minced
· 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
· 1 medium onion, chopped
· 1 can cannellini beans
· 1 quart veal or chicken stock
· 2 cups beef stock
· 1/3 pound orecchiette or similar pasta
· 1 pound ground turkey
· 1 egg
· 1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
· 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano
· 2 to 3 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

Saute the onions, carrots and 3 cloves of garlic in the olive oil until soft (about 5 min).
Add the beans, stocks and season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil and then add the pasta. Once you've added the pasta reduce heat to simmer.
Make the meatballs by adding the turkey, egg, bread crumbs, cheese and sage together and then form them into bite size meatballs. Then drop the meatballs into the simmering soup and cook for 5-10 minutes or until pasta is cooked through.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lightened Fettuccine Alfredo?? WITH BACON????

Yes. It's possible! I've made this recipe many times when either I have been short on time or short on ingredients, and it's been a wonderful treat!
Instead of bacon, I use pancetta, and it's glorious!!

1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh fettuccine
2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
2/3 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
2. While pasta cooks, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings. Add garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Sprinkle flour over garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly; cook 2 minutes or until bubbly and slightly thick, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low. Gradually add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in salt and reserved 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add hot pasta to pan; toss well to combine. Sprinkle with bacon, parsley, and pepper.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Beer Bread

Beer Bread, courtesy of Michelle Anslinger
This bread goes amazingly well with any soup for a completely satisfying warm meal! I had this at Michelle's house with her Italian Wedding Soup and it was so delicious. I will post her recipe for Italian Wedding Soup soon, and let me tell you, it is the BEST recipe for it I've tried including Giada DeLaurentiis' version!
I've tried different beers with it, and I honestly use what I have on hand, which is usually Michelob Ultra. But every beer I've tried it has always turned out great as well.
NOTE: Self Rising Flour is just the equivalent of 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
plus 1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder and 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt.
3 C Self Rising Flour
1/2 Sugar
1 12oz bottle of beer
1/4 C Melted Butter
Preheat oven to 350. Mix first three ingredients together, and pour into a 9x5 greased loaf pan. bake for 45 minutes or until done. While still warm, pour melted butter over bread and serve.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Perfect Winter Soup

Italian Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta E Fagioli)
(Courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen)

This soup does not hold well because the pasta absorbs the liquid, beomes mushy and leaves the soup dry. You can, however make it in two stages. Once the beand are simmered with the tomatoes, before the broth and water are added, the mixture can be cooled and refrigerated for three days. When ready to complete the soup, discard the parmesan rind (otherwise it will become stringy), add the liquid, bring the soup to a boil and proceed with the recipe. Or, you can just add more liquid, and less pasta so that when you re-heat, there is less pasta to absorb the liquid, and since the pasta expands, you will have more than enough in there. I use cavatelli pasta. It’s smaller, and absorbs less water, and tastes better with the soup. Rao’s makes the best pasta, it’s more expensive, but worth every penny. I also add more celery and onions to this as desired b/c I happen to enjoy extra veggies. Also, Muier Glenn tomatoes are preferred b/c they are stored in an enameled can, increasing flavor, and decreasing chance of aluminum exposure.


1 T extra virgin olive oil
3 ounces of diced pancetta or bacon
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
4 medium garlic cloves, minced or passed through garlic press, about 1 heaping T
1 t dried oregano
½ t dried red pepper flakes, or more depending on your taste
3 anchovy fillets, minced to a paste (I never have used this and it turns out fine)
1 (28 oz can) of diced tomaotoes
1 piece of parmesan cheese rind, about 5 inches by 2 inches
2 (15.5 oz) cans of cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
3 ½ cups of low sodium chicken broth
2 ½ cups water
8 oz small pasta shape ( cavatelli, ditalini, tubetini, orzo, etc.)
¼ c chopped fresh parsley leaves for serving
Ground black pepper for serving
Grated parmesan cheese for serving


-Heat oil in a large havy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering.

-Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, 3-5 minutes.

-Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 5-7 minutes.

-Add the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and anchovies and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

-Add tomatoes, with their liquid, scraping up any browned bits from the pan bottom. -Add the cheese rind and beans; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer to blend the flavors, 10 minutes.

-Add chicken broth and water and 1 t salt; increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (or according to pasta cooking time).

-Discard cheese rind. Off the heat, stir in 3 T of the parsley; adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.