Prosciutto, Tomato, and Olive Spaghetti

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I love trying new recipes. One of my favorite places to find new dishes to try is Pinterest, where I came across this recipe for Prosciutto, Tomato, and Olive Spaghetti.

Ingredients
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 shallots, finely minced
  • 1 cup black olives, pitted
  • 3 to 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste or concentrate
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
  • reserved pasta water (optional)
  • 2.5 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound prosciutto, preferably Parma or San Daniele
Preparation
  1. In a large pot, bring 8 cups of cold water to a boil. When it boils, add salt and pasta. Cook according to package instructions, stirring often to loosen up the sticky strands.
  2. Drain the cooked spaghetti, but save about 1 cup of the pasta water. Set aside.
  3. Wipe clean the same pot and set over medium heat with olive oil. When oil is hot, lower heat to medium-low and sauté garlic and shallots until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Increase heat to medium again, add olives, and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and cook until soft, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the wine and stir until the alcohol has evaporated, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in tomato paste and butter until dissolved.
  8. Put the pasta back in the pot and gently mix until each strand is coated in the sauce. Add reserved pasta water if the sauce seems too dry.
  9. Toss with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
  10. Serve on warmed plates and garnish with prosciutto slices.
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A Birthday Tradition: Sweet and Sour Pork

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Every year on my birthday, my mom would make sweet and sour pork. It was my favorite childhood dish and I requested it for my special birthday dinner every year. I’ve carried on the tradition and still make it every year for my birthday, along with lemon meringue pie.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs. pork, cut into bite size pieces – I use pork tenderloin
3 T. vegetable oil
1 med. onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
Pineapple – I use fresh pineapple
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion, pepper and celery in oil for a few minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan, brown pork, seasoning with garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Prepare sauce and pour over pork. Add veggies. Cover and simmer for 45 min or until tender.

For the sauce:

3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. ketchup
1 T. corn starch
1/4 c. – 3/4 c. chicken broth

Combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, lemon juice and ketchup. Mix well. Dissolve cornstarch in broth. Stir until thickens and clears.

Serve the Sweet and Sour Pork with white rice.

Recipe: Goat Cheese Eggplant

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Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorites. This dish is a variation of the classic with panko bread crumbs and goat cheese. I really like that you don’t have to make a huge portion – this recipe lends itself to smaller portions depending on how many people you want to serve.

Ingredients:

One eggplant, peeled and sliced into rounds

1 c. panko bread crumbs

1/2  c. grated parmesan cheese

2 eggs, slightly beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

Montrachet goat cheese, sliced into rounds

Vegetable oil, for frying

One jar of your favorite tomato sauce – you can also make homemade tomato sauce if you prefer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel and slice the eggplant. Combine the panko, parmesan and salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Beat eggs in a separate bowl. In a skillet, heat the oil and prepare for frying. Dip the eggplant in the egg before dredging in the panko mixture. Fry both sides of the eggplant until the panko breading is golden brown. Place fried eggplant onto a sheet pan and layer goat cheese between the eggplant. Place the sheet pan in the over to keep warm.

Prior to plating, ladle tomato sauce onto the plate before topping with the stacked eggplant rounds.

Recipe: Eggplant Fries

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I pinned this recipe for Eggplant Fries several months ago on Pinterest and decided to make them last night. They were amazing. If you love eggplant you have to try this recipe.

3/4 cup flour
2 tsps garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fresh parsley, minced
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, fresh ground
oil for frying
3 baby eggplants or 2 medium eggplants
salt for seasoning
honey

In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, dried oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper until thoroughly mixed. In a heavy-bottom medium saucepan, heat at least two inches of oil to about 350F. Peel the eggplants and slice into 3/4-inch thick fingers. Toss the eggplant slices a few at a time in the seasoned flour until well coated. When the oil is ready, drop a few sticks of eggplant into the oil – they should begin sizzling immediately. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan or have the oil temperature drop too much. When they begin to brown (about a minute) flip them over and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute. Remove the eggplant fries from the oil and let drain on a cooling rack. Serve hot with a shake of salt and a drizzle of honey.

Michael Chiarello’s Coqueta, San Francisco

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I spent months waiting to make a reservation at Michael Chiarello’s Coqueta restaurant in San Francisco, California. My girls trip to San Francisco had been planned for months and I was anxious to get a reservation so we could eat at Coqueta while we were there. I met Chef Chiarello in Houston at a book signing for his cookbook, Bottega, and had been wanting to eat at one of his restaurants since then.

Coqueta did not disappoint. We loved the following Spanish inspired dishes.

Tortilla “Andres” with sweet onion, organic potato and piquillo pepper alioli.

Smoked salmon with queso fresco and truffle honey.

Sunny side-up egg with shrimp, crispy potato and chorizo dressing.

Whole Monterey calamari on the plancha with onion jam and squid ink alioli.

Crispy shrimp and chickpea flour pancake with saffron alioli.

Wood-grilled octopus with fingerling potatoes, pimenton and olive oil..

Arroz cremosa slowly cooked bomba rice with day boat scallops a la plancha and summer squash with blossoms.

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Fall Comforts: Apple Turnovers

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I’ve been reading Ruth Reichl’s “Comfort Me with Apples” and the title alone made me want to get in the kitchen and bake. Fall always reminds me of being home in Michigan, going to an apple orchard, drinking fresh apple cider and eating homemade donuts. Those memories come back to me each year when I make an apple pie with my mom or buy a jug of apple cider. Today I turned to Ina Garten’s Apple Turnover recipe to bring back my favorite fall memories.

Ina’s recipe calls for puff pastry sheets, but of course my grocery store was out so I adapted and used puff pastry shells. They worked just as well, but needed to be rolled out thin. I also substituted dried cranberries for dried cherries.

1 teaspoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/4 pounds tart apples, such as Empire or Granny Smith (3 apples)
3 tablespoons dried cherries
3 tablespoons sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on top
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch kosher salt
1 package (17.3 ounces, 2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the orange zest and orange juice in a bowl. Peel, quarter, and core the apples and then cut them in 3/4-inch dice. Immediately toss the apples with the zest and juice to prevent them from turning brown. Add the cherries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Flour a board and lightly roll each sheet of puff pastry to a 12 by 12-inch square. Cut each sheet into 4 smaller squares and keep chilled until ready to use.

Brush the edges of each square with the egg wash and neatly place about 1/3 cup of the apple mixture on half of the square. Fold the pastry diagonally over the apple mixture and seal by pressing the edges with a fork. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the top with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, make 2 small slits, and bake for 20 minutes, until browned and puffed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe: Rainy Day Rigatoni

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My favorite thing about reading food memoirs are the recipes that are hidden in the pages. I recently read Alyssa Shelasky’s book “Apron Anxiety” and had to try her recipe for Rainy Day Rigatoni. While I enjoyed the dish, it wasn’t everything I hoped it would be. It was better the next day and I think I will tweak it a bit next time by peeling the eggplant, adding garlic and more red wine to thin the sauce out some more. I could have done without the ricotta topping as well. The texture wasn’t doing it for me.

Ricotta topping:

2 c. sheep’s milk ricotta

1 c. whole milk

1 tsp. fine sea salt

1 tsp. coarse sea salt

1 tsp. course black pepper

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

1 T. dried oregeno

2-3 T.  extra virgin olive oil

Rigatoni:

3 T. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

Pinch hot pepper flakes

1 large eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 tsp. salt, plus more for the pasta water

One 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

1/4 c. red wine

1 T. sugar

1 pound rigatoni

1 c. fresh basil leaves, torn

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish

To make the ricotta topping: Beat the ricotta and milk together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until the mixture is light and fluffy. And the fine sea salt and mix well.

Place the mixture in a serving bowl. Generously sprinkle the coarse salt, pepper, thyme and oregano over the top. Drizzle with oil and refrigerate.

To make the rigatoni: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and saute until the onion is almost translucent. Add the eggplant and one teaspoon of salt and cook for 20 minutes, allowing the eggplant to get a little brown, moving it around with a spoon. Then add the tomatoes, wine, sugar and the remaining one teaspoon of salt. Stir often. Cook for 50 to 60 minute until the eggplant is very soft.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, throw in a handful of salt and cook the rigatoni according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta, then return it to its pot. Add the sauce from the skillet to the pot, mixing everything together. Add a dash of oil, and most of the torn basil leaves. Ladle into bowls and top with the remaining basil leaves and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Top it off with a scoop of the ricotta topping. Serve hot.