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Tuesday
Nov182014

Make Ahead Buffet Mashed Potatoes

Are you one of those people who find it stressful at Thanksgiving to get the bird and the mashed potatoes and the gravy and everything else on the table at the same time?  Well, there are tricks to help you at least eliminate the stress about the mashed potatoes.  Here are three that I find very helpful:  you can make the mashed potatoes hours ahead of the meal and stick them on low in a crockpot. They keep very well until dinner time.  Or, if you don't have a crockpot, you can place them in a large bowl, set them over a pot of simmering water (effectively creating a double boiler) and let them stay warm that way.  Another way is to make these absolutely declicious Buffet Mashed Potatoes, a recipe that I want to share with you because I've been making these for about 20 years.  You can make them the day before and refrigerate until ready to bake or you can even make them ahead and freeze them. Totally takes the stress out of the mashed potatoes.


ceramic plate from Fifty One and a Half


For this recipe, you simply bake your potatoes until soft and scoop out the insides and then mash them.  I like to put them through a ricer first before mashing, but you can skip that step if you want.  A ricer just makes them smoother, I think.  If you don't have a ricer, it's nice to have one, especially if you ever want to make homemade gnocchi.  You can also use a box grater and use the largest holes.  

These potatoes are bound together by the addition of cream cheese and eggs.  The top is dotted with a little butter just before baking.  It is a luscious, delicious potato dish and I hope you give it a try.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Buffet Mashed Potatoes

for a printer friendly recipe, click here

from Polly Clingerman

These potatoes take the stress out of mashed potatoes - you can either make them ahead and refrigerate or you can actually freeze them.

6 servings (This recipe is easily doubled.  If you double it, use a 9 x 13 pan.)

4 large baking potatoes (about 10 ounces each)
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 medium onion, very finely diced
3 eggs
3 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons butter

Wash potatoes well and bake at 400° F for about 1 hour or just until soft.  Halve them and scoop out the insides.

Put the potatoes through a ricer (or grate with a box grater using the largest holes). I like to do this step because I think it makes the potatoes smoother, but you can skip it if you don't want to do it. Add cream cheese and beat until smooth with mixer at medium speed.  Add onion, eggs, flour, salt and pepper and beat until smooth. Spoon the mixture into an ungreased 1½ quart ovenproof dish. At this point, you can let the casserole cool and refrigerate it up to one day, or wrap it and freeze it.


scooping and ricing the potatoes
 

To serve, if frozen or refrigerated, bring it to room temperature.  Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Dot the top of the potatoes with butter, cover with foil (I like to use Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick foil) and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until the top is a little golden. 

 

for a printer friendly recipe, click here

Tuesday
Nov042014

Mom's Pasta Sauce with Pork Chops

 

When I was growing up, this was often how we ate pork chops - simmered in tomato sauce and served with pasta. When I introduced this dish to my husband, he loved it right from the start. It's a simple dish but giving it the time it deserves is what is essential.

You must use bone-in pork chops for this dish.  Please don't use boneless loin chops. Find the best bone-in pork chops you can - it will be worth it.  There is so much more flavor when you leave the bone in cuts of meat, especially for long simmered dishes like this one.  The chops I use are the T-Bone steak equivalent to pork - they contain a bit of the tenderloin on the chop.  After they simmer for so long, they are fork tender and delicious. 

 

Decent browning is another essential in this dish - when you brown chops, don't crowd the pan and be sure to brown them until you get a decent sear and they release easily from the pan.  All this browning goodness adds up to extra flavor and doing it right is worth it. 

For the sauce, I use San Marzano tomatoes because the flavor is so great. They are a low acid tomato from Italy. You can buy them in a can and puree them yourself or you can buy them already pureed, which I prefer right now. My favorite is this Passata from Cento.  It is definitely a convenience item, but the flavor is fantastic.

 

Paccheri pasta - the preferred shape on the Amalfi Coast


For the pasta you can use whatever shape you like.  We have really taken to this shape that we had while on the Amalfi Coast a while back - it seemed like it was the preferred pasta of the region and was in all the shops and restaurants.  It's called Paccheri which means "slaps" and it is like a jumbo flat rigatoni.  It's awesome. If you can't find a place that carries it, you can find it here.   Whatever pasta you use just don't oversauce it. A little sauce goes a long way.  

 

To serve, toss the pasta with just a little sauce and then serve the chops on the side in a separate bowl with the remainder of the sauce.  

 

Mom's Pasta Sauce with Pork Chops

for a printable recipe click here

This sauce can be served with up to about one pound of pasta

The cooking time for these pork chops will depend on the thickness of the chops you use. Adjust accordingly.

Ingredients: 

  • 4 thick bone-in pork chops (I used center cut loin chops, bone in) 
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 24 ounces pureed San Marzano tomatoes  
  • ½ teaspoons red hot chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoons dried oregano

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Season the chops on both sides well with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown the chops in two batches.  You want a nice golden brown crust on both sides.  Don't move them for a few minutes, to make sure you have a nice browning going on and then you can flip them.  Remove from the pot and lower heat.  Do not wipe out pot.  Add 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and the onion and cook gently for about 5 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Increase heat to medium high, add the white wine and cook for about 3 minutes, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the pureed tomatoes, oregano and a little salt and pepper.  Place chops back in pot, making sure to coat the ones on top in the tomato sauce if they are not fully submerged.  Don't worry if they are not totally covered by the tomato sauce because you will rotate them halfway through the cooking.  Cover the pot and place in the oven and cook for about 1 hour.


take time to brown the pork chops properly

 

Remove the pot and carefully remove the chops to rotate them - the top ones go on the bottom and the ones that were on the bottom can go on top.  Place cover back on and cook for one more hour.  Check for doneness. This will depend on how thick your chops are and what cut you used.  They should be very tender. When I use extra thick chops, I will cook them for almost 3 hours.  If they are not tender, you can cook for another 20 minutes and keep checking the tenderness.  Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if you like. 

To serve, I take a ladelful of the sauce and toss with some pasta.  I place this pasta, lightly sauced, in a serving bowl and the chops with the rest of the sauce in a different bowl.  People can serve themselves and add as much sauce to their pasta as they like.  Serve with lots of grated Parmesan cheese if you like.

 

Tuesday
Oct212014

Apple Rosette Pie 

 

 

I'ts hard to see the enormous amount of apples in the farmer's markets right now and not think of apple pie. I was going to make a straight up apple pie for you with a cheddar cheese crust but then I decided to make it a little more fun.  Instead of adding the cheese to the crust, I put it in the filling and made pretty rosettes on top from thin apple slices instead of a pie crust.  

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