Cheesy Stuffed Shells by Scott

Not only has my boyfriend been learning to speak Italian, but he has also been cooking the most amazing Italian food. This is one of his recipes and is easy to make along with being delizioso.

Ingredients:

For the marinara:

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole

24 oz tomato puree

salt and pepper to taste

basil leaves, fresh and torn

1 tsp red chili pepper flakes

1 tsp sugar

For the shells:

1 box jumbo pasta shells

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated

1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano

10 oz spinach (boiled and diced)

Pepper to taste

Directions:

Add all ingredients for the marinara together and simmer for 1 hour. Once marinara is done, heat oven to 350F and boil pasta shells. Mix cheeses with spinach and pepper. Once shells are done, rinse with cold water to make them easier to handle. Place shells on paper towel or clean kitchen towel to absorb water. Take a baking sheet and place a portion of the marinara on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Stuff each shell with the cheese mixture and place in baking pan until the pan is full of shells in a single layer. Top with the remaining marinara and sprinkle some Parmigiano Reggiano on top, bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Linguine alla Carbonara

After watching Frankie make a big pot of Linguine alla Carbonara on one of my favorite shows, Better Things, I had craving for the delicious, creamy pasta. I have made it a couple times since and it is a very simple dish. The recipe I use is from Lidia Bastianich’s cookbook titled Lidia’s Italian-American kitchen. Lidia explains that you often see this dish cooked with cream. However, that is not the traditional style. Traditional carbonara is made with egg yolks. The heat of the pasta is enough to cook the egg yolks.

Ingredients:

6 ounces slab bacon

2 TBS olive oil

2 large yellow onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick (about 3 cups)

1 1/2 cups hot chicken stock

1 pound linguine, I use spaghetti noodles, you can use whatever you prefer

3 egg yolks

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Coarsely ground black pepper

Directions:

Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the linguine.

Cut the bacon into 1/4 inch thick slices, heat the oil in a large heavy skillet and add the bacon, cook for about 6 minutes. Bacon should be soft in center and lightly browned.

If there is more than 3-4 TBS of oil in the skillet, remove to make 3-4 TBS of oil. Add the onions with the bacon and cook for about 4-5 minutes, the onions should be wilted but still crunchy. Add the stock, bring to a boil and adjust to simmer. Reduce the sauce by half.

Cook the linguine semi-covered until cooked to your desire.

Ladle off a cup of the pasta water. If the skillet is large enough to accommodate sauce and pasta, fish the pasta out of the boiling water and drop it into the sauce, stir to coat. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, check the seasoning, add salt if necessary. Add chicken stock or pasta water if there is not enough sauce to coat the pasta.

Meanwhile, separate your eggs and whisk each yolk slightly, you will want to keep them separate as they need to be added one at a time.

Remove the pasta from heat and stir in each egg yolk separately. A salad fork and spoon works well for this part. Stir vigorously while each yolk is added to avoid the eggs becoming scrambled.

Add the cheese and black pepper. Serve immediately

Pugliese Chicken and Potatoes

My daughter in Venice

Another recipe found on cookingwithnonna.com. My BF made this one for me and I tried to replicate it this weekend. My version was not as good as his but my son said the chicken was cooked perfectly. I used boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of the bone-in chicken so I put the potato mixture in first and cooked the chicken with a little less time. The flavors of the herbs, olives, tomatoes, and wine are delicious. I will keep trying this one until I achieve perfection.

Igredients:

1 1/2 pounds skinless, bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks

3 Idaho potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup Gaeta olives or mixed olives, pitted

4 cloves garlic

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

2 TBS dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup dry white wine

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Combine all ingredients except the wine into a bowl and mix. Pour into a 9X13 baking dish and pour wine over mixture.

Bake for 60-75 minutes until the meat pulls away from the bone.

Rice with Tomato Sauce – Risotto al Pomodoro

Scott and I in Napoli

Happy Saturday! I hope you are all having a great weekend.

Something about rice with tomato sauce, I just love it. Spanish rice….yummmm; and now Italian rice. My boyfriend made this delicious meal for me the other night and this rice was on the menu.

The recipe comes from a website named cookingwithnonna.com. It has lots of great recipes but way too many advertisements. I do not blame anyone for making a living but it is sometimes hard to navigate. Sorry Nonna!

Ingredients:

3 TBS extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

3 cups passata or tomato puree

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

Grated Parmigiano cheese

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan, add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add in the tomato puree and salt. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

In a separate saucepan bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add the rice and cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add cooked rice to the sauce and combine over heat for 1-2 minutes.

Grate Parmigiano cheese to garnish.

Damn that is easy!

Buon apetito!

Nanaimo Bars

My finished product last weekend
Standing in front of the House of Parliament in Victoria, BC

My mom was born in Canada. She moved to San Francisco and met my dad in her twenties. I was born and raised in California. However, I definitely consider myself a Canadian along with my USA roots. My mom and dad moved back to Canada 19 years ago. Tragically, we lost my dad a few years ago but mom still lives in Canada, on the beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia. She lives 30 minutes from Nanaimo. For that reason, I felt it was important that I learned to make the Nanaimo bar and post it on this site. I made them last weekend. It is very sweet and my children endorse this recipe. This recipe was found on Canadianliving.com.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 egg, lightly beaten

For the filling:

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 TBS custard powder (you can substitute vanilla pudding mix if you cannot find this)

1/2 tsp vanille extract

1 cups powdered sugar

2 TBS milk

For the topping:

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 TBS butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare a 9X9 or 8X8 pan by lining with parchment paper, assure it is covering all sides so that you can pull up on the bars when complete.

Mix graham cracker crumbs with coconut, walnuts, cocoa powder, and sugar. Add butter and egg and combine. Press into crumb mixture into prepared pan. Bake until firm, about 10 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack.

Beat together butter, custard powder, and vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar by adding in increments with milk as needed. Spread over cooled crust and refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

In heatproof bowl over saucepan filled with water, melt chocolate with butter and spread over filling. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until it is almost set then score the chocolate top with the tip of a knife so that the chocolate does not break when bars are removed.

Once completely set and cool, cut all the bars and serve or wrap. They last for 4 days if refrigerated.

Shrimp Scampi- “Scampi alla Buonavia”

Hello! Happy Saturday. I should be doing homework but instead I want to post a recipe.

Shrimp scampi was the dish my father would often order when we went to restaurants. I made it the other night in honor of him. I miss him everyday.

This recipe was found in the book that gave me the spaghetti and meatballs recipe on this website, I have since made it my own with alterations and I am sure I will do the same to this one.

It is a truly easy dish. Deveining the shrimp is the hardest part.

The next time I make it I will serve it over pasta instead of bread as the original recipe calls for it to be served on bread.

Ingredients:

  • 3 TBS olive oil, plus more to finish
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1 pound extra-large (about 25) shrimp, completely deveined, and cut crosswise into three pieces (note: I left them whole)
  • 1 TBS fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 TBS unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • 1 TBS fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp crushed hot red pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 slices of Italian bread, toasted and kept warm (or pasta)
  • 1 lemon, cut into slices

Directions:

Make sure the pan you use will fit all the shrimp in a single layer for proper heat conduction.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until light brown (about 2 minutes). Raise the heat to high and add the shrimp, toss until they are bright pink and seared on all sides (about 2 minutes). Add the chives, wine, butter, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes (shrimp should be barely opaque in the center and the sauce reduced by half). Stir in the parsley, crushed red pepper, and salt and serve over bread or pasta. Drizzle the sauce and serve with lemon slices.

I would use bread for an appetizer and pasta if you plan to make it a meal.

Enjoy!

Classic Trattoria Tiramisu

 


I was super lucky to get the opportunity to take my children to Italy in 2017 for my son’s senior year. My son ordered Tiramisu at many of the restaurants we ate at and he discovered all sorts of different versions. Picture above is my children in the Caffe Rivoire in Florence (opened in 1872) and enjoying their famous la cioccolata caldo (hot chocolate). 

This dessert is one of the main reasons I picked the online cooking class I attended yesterday. I tried to make Tiramisu last month and it was an epic fail. Yesterday I discovered that the reason the Tiramisu did not taste right to me the last time I made it is because I did not let it set for an appropriate time. A Tiramisu needs to set in the fridge for 4-12 hours before serving (preferably 12 hours).

One of the participants in the class yesterday asked why there is no alcohol in this version of the recipe and the chef said that alcohol is not traditionally used in a true Italian Tiramisu.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 TBS white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 package ladyfinger cookies (24)
  • 1-2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups of coffee, cooled and preferably espresso (if the coffee is not cool the cookie will fall apart)

Directions:

Separate the yolks and whites of all eggs and place them in two separate bowls. Using a mixer, beat the egg whites until fluffy.

Then, add the sugar and vanilla to the egg yolks and beat the egg yolks until pale yellow and creamy. Mix in the mascarpone cheese with the egg yolks and beat until smooth.

Fold the fluffy egg white mixture into the egg yolks gently.

Using a 8X8 or 9X9 cake pan, completely submerge each ladyfinger into the cooled coffee for 5 seconds and let the extra drip off then layer the coffee soaked cookies in the pan. If you have to break them to create a single layer on the bottom of the pan that is perfectly acceptable.

Spread half of your egg and mascarpone mixture over the single layer of cookies. Repeat another coffee soaked layer of cookies and spread the rest of the creamy mixture over the second layer.

Dust the cocoa powder on top, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to set.

 

 

Panzanella Salad

 

I had my first online cooking class experience yesterday. It was a lot of fun. I went through the cooking school named Cozymeal. They have cooking schools throughout North America and, due to the pandemic, the classes have moved online. I have been wanting to try one for awhile.

I choose an Italian cooking class. The chef, Chris, was very informative and taught the group many great techniques as well as the history of the food.  He even had an Italian opera singer Zoom in from his home whereas he sang a wonderful song.

This is the first of the three recipes we cooked. It is very simple and delicious. It comes from Tuscany.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 loaf of Italian crusty bread
  • 2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced and quartered
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil (10-15 leaves) rough chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TBS red wine vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F. Chop slices of bread into large crouton shape. Toss with olive oil (enough to lightly coat). Lay out the croutons on baking sheet in single layer with appropriate spacing between each piece to vent. Place in oven and toast until they appear toasted on all sides (10-15 minutes).

Place tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, 2 TBS olive oil, 1 TBS red wine vinegar in a bowl, mix and let sit for 20-30 minutes.

Once croutons have cooled, mix with marinade.

Other two recipes to follow (Tiramisu and fresh pasta dough with lemon cream sauce.

Buon appetito.

Squash & Gorgonzola Risotto

 

I posted this recipe last week, but while trying to make some modifications on this site yesterday I erased part of the post. Thus, I will post it again because this recipe is that good.

My boyfriend found this gem of a website named:

http://www.pastagrammar.com

Also, check out their You Tube channel, they have many entertaining videos that will teach you a lot of Italian cooking tips:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1tKrA3PQlDzKzmhgq7wPPQ

I reap the benefits from his find and his new found love of cooking Italian. Often, I come home to freshly cooked pasta and other delicious Italian intricacies.

This is one of my favorite dishes from the site so far, it is a northern Italian risotto. It calls for an easy to make homemade vegetable broth.

Ingredients:

  • 1 russet potato, quartered
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 carrot, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 tomato
  • Sprig of fresh parsley
  • 1 white onion
  • 3 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, cubed
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for grating
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh black pepper

Directions:

Begin by making the vegetable broth. Place potato, celery, carrot, tomato, parsley, half of the onion, a splash of olive oil, and a pinch of salt into a saucepan with water and simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Dice the other half of the onion. Heat 2-3 TBS olive oil into a sauté pan and sauté diced onion until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the cubed squash, stir frequently for 2-3 minutes, and salt and pepper to taste. Add a ladle of the vegetable broth and allow to simmer for 5-6 minutes. Add more broth if necessary to prevent burning.

Toast the rice by melting 1 TBS of butter into a saucepan and stir frequently for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook the alcohol off for a couple minutes.

Add the toasted rice into the squash pan and combine. Begin adding simmering vegetable broth in increments to maintain the ability to cook the rice and to achieve a certain consistency. Desired consistency is soft and not crunchy but not overcooked. This will take at least 15-18 minutes and will require your attention.

Once desired consistency has been reached take the pan off the heat and add 1 TBS butter, gorgonzola cheese, a generous grating of Parmigiano and combine. 

Allow to sit for 3 minutes then serve with another grating of Parmigiano to top the master piece off.

Godere!