Baked Olives and Grilled Bread

It has been a long time since I posted anything on my blog.  Thanks to one of my blog followers that was at a “Gail’s Pizza Parties” last week who told me she really liked my blog posts and misses them, I am now dedicated to returning to blogging and adding new recipes weekly!

I thought I would share my recipes from “Cookin’ For A Livin'”, a cookbook developed by myself, my boss at the time, Pete Friedman, and an amazing photographer, Jon Hunter.

Cookin For a Living Intro30012018_3

Baked Olives & Grilled Bread is one of my favorite recipes that I developed in the lab/kitchen.  Not only is it an easy dish to prepare, it is also very colorful and healthy!

Cookin For a Living Intro30012018_2

Buon Appetito!



Grilled BBQ Pizza

Grilled BBQ Pizza

When most people think of October, they think of football, apples, cooler temperatures, fall foliage (New England), Halloween, comfort food, shorter days and more football.  When I think of October, I immediately think of “National Pizza Month”.

“Anyone in the business of serving pizza probably does not need to be reminded that October is National Pizza Month here in the United States. While the contribution of the first pizzerias in this country cannot be ignored, it was really the returning American soldiers who fought in Italy during World War II that brought a hunger for pizza home with them and pushed its popularity over the top. America’s love of pizza continued to grow and now October is the official National Pizza Month across most of North America.

First observed in the United States during 1984 (although many people incorrectly claim it was 1987), October was designated as National Pizza Month by Gerry Durnell, the founder of Pizza Today magazine, who chose that month because the first issue of his magazine debuted in October of that year. Durnell was a pizzeria owner in the small town of Santa Claus, Indiana when he realized there were no periodicals or tradeshow publications to support his growing pizza business or the industry in general. Creation of a national pizza-oriented magazine along with the introduction of a national pizza month served his purposes perfectly and solved the problem.

Today, National Pizza Month is observed each October across the USA and in much of Canada too. The designation might be a bit redundant in this country though, as nearly every month could be considered Pizza Month in the United States these days. People don’t really need a special month for pizza in a country where there are an estimated 63,000 pizzerias and 94% of Americans eat pizza at least once a month. The figures equal the consumption of about 45 slices of pizza per person in the U.S. each year and show that Americans definitely love their pizza as evidenced by devouring 100 acres of pizza per day, or 350 slices per second.”
– See more at: pizza.com

One of my favorite kind of pizza to create is Barbecue Pizza.  You can use either chicken or pork, and it is always great cooked outside on a grill, or on a preheated pizza stone in the oven, click on the link below for the recipe and grilling technique.

BBQ Pizza

I also thought I would share some of my favorite pizza photos with you.  I hope these photos encourage you to create your own pizza at home, once you do, it might be a while before you ever purchase pizza out again.

National Pizza Month

National Pizza Month

Bon Appetito!

Happy National Pizza Month – October


This is one of my favorites sauces to make, so quick and easy and yet so incredibly flavorful!  The history of this sauce is very interesting, one that most people are not aware of:

“LADIES OF THE EVENING:

Puttanesca sauce, most often employed for pasta, originated in Naples. It is made from tomatoes, black olives, capers, anchovies, onions, garlic, and herbs, usually oregano and parsley but sometimes also basil. It is an easy sauce, briefly cooked, and is very fragrant and spicy. Puttanesca translates as “in the style of the whore.” The name derives from the Italian word puttana which means whore. Puttana in turn arises from the Latin word putida which means stinking.

Restaurant encounter

Now I’ll bet your wondering how this tasty dish became associated with such sordid content. As is often the case when sifting through culinary history, there are multiple explanations. The first interpretation is that the intense aroma, (harking back to the “stinking” Latin definition), would lure men from the street into the local house of ill repute. Thus, the Napolese harlots were characterized as the sirens of the culinary world. Three additional accounts all hinge on the fact that Puttanesca sauce is easy and quick to make. The first is that the prostitutes made it for themselves to keep the interruption of their business to a minimum. The second is that they made it for the men awaiting their turn at the brothel. And the final version is that it was a favorite of married women who wished to limit their time in the kitchen so that they may visit their paramour. ”

SHRIMP IN PUTTANSCA SAUCE

I prepared this recipe when I was fortunate to be compete (and win) Food Network’s “Ultimate Recipe Showdown”, hosted by Guy Fieri, a few years ago.  However, my $25,000 winning recipe was Crawfish & Andouille Sausage Pizza.  Instead of shrimp for this dish, I used lobster, but if you choose shrimp, add about 1 pound raw, peeled and deveined, shrimp in place of the raw lobster tail.

Total Time:
30 min
Prep:
15 min
Cook:
15 min

Yield:3 to 4 servings
Level:Easy
Ingredients:

1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 pound lobster tails (either warm water or cold water)
10 to 12 kalamata olives
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed under cold water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small shallots, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup red Italian wine
2/3 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 pound Italian capellini pasta
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley leaves

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat and season the water with salt.

Cut the lobster tails lengthwise, remove the meat from the shells and chop into 1-inch pieces. Pit and chop kalamata olives and rinse the capers. Set aside.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and heat through. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for an additional 30 seconds; do not brown the garlic. Add the tomatoes, wine, chicken stock, basil, parsley and anchovy paste. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the capellini to the boiling water.  Cook about 5 minutes, or until al dente.  Strain in a colander, do not rinse.

Stir the chopped lobster meat, capers, kalamata olives, butter, and pepper, to taste, to the tomato mixture. Cover the pan and simmer the sauce until the lobster meat is cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Place the cooked pasta in a large serving bowl, pour the sauce over the pasta and toss. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and the chopped parsley, if desired, and serve.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/lobster-in-puttanesca-sauce-recipe.html?oc=linkback

Lobster in Puttanesca Sauce

Bon Appetito!

Happy September Calendar Photo – Shrimp (and or lobster) in Puttanesca (Ladies of the Evening) Sauce


WREG “Live at 9” – Making Fresh Mozzarella & Grilled Caprese Sandwiches

Fresh Mozzarella

1 pound fresh mozzarella curd*
6 cups water
3 tablespoons kosher salt

Slice the curd into thin slivers and place in a large mixing bowl.

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil over high heat, add the salt and bring back to the boil.

Gently pour enough boiling water over the curd to cover, let it sit for a few minutes to temper the curd. Use 2 wooden spoons to gently gather the curd together in the center of the bowl. Use the spoons to scoop the mass out of the water and hold it above the bowl, allowing the weight of the cheese to cause it to stretch back down to the water. Repeat lifting the cheese and letting it stretch until it looks smooth and shiny.

To shape the cheese, lift the cheese out of the water and roll it into a tight ball. Pinch the bottom of the ball to seal the seam. The surface of the ball should be smooth and shiny.

Place the form balls into an ice-water bath to cool. If more flavor is desired, salt can be added to the water bath.

Wrap finished mozzarella balls highly in plastic wrap. Serve within 24 hours for optimum flavor and texture.

*Mozzarella curd is available at specialty cheese shops, or on the web at www.goldenagecheese.com.

Grilled Caprese Sandwiches

Yield: 4 sandwiches
Prep time: 10 minutes
Grill time: 4 minutes

8 slices Italian Bread
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, stems removed
2 tablespoons pine nuts
¼ cup Mazola® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
Salt & pepper to taste

 

Combine the basil and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth.

Brush pesto mixture on one side of each slice of bread. Layer tomatoes on 4 slices and add salt and pepper to taste. Top with mozzarella slices and remaining bread slices; firmly press sandwiches together.

On a preheated grill over medium high heat, place sandwiches on an angle and cover (close grill cover if grilling outside or use either a pan lid or a metal bowl, inverted, if grilling inside). Cook 2 minutes, rotate 90° and continue cooking an additional 2 minutes, covered. Flip sandwiches over and repeat process as above. Serve on a bed of leafy greens, if desired.

Grilled Caprese Sandwiches

Buon Appetito!

 


Friday evening I posted a picture of our dinner on Facebook.  This post was followed by several requests for the recipe; here you go!

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp Scampi

Scrimp Scampi

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

1 pound Italian Capellini
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, rinsed & drained
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, preferably 25-30 count
Freshly shaved or grated Parmesan or Asiago Cheese

Bring a large stock pot of water to a rapid boil over high heat; add salt and capellini. Cook according to pasta directions, do not overcook pasta.

While pasta is cooking, add extra virgin olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, about 1-2 minutes, add chopped shallot, garlic and red pepper flakes (if desired). Sauté 2-3 minutes (do not let garlic turn brown), or until shallots are soft. Add drained tomatoes, fresh herbs and shrimp. Cook an additional 4-5 minutes, or until shrimp turns pink, remove from heat.

In a large pasta bowl, toss drained capellini with sauce, top with shaved cheese.

Buon Appetito!!!

Quick & Easy Shrimp Scampi


Season’s 52 Goat Cheese Ravioli Copycat

I just LOVE Season’s 52 Restaurant…the food is aways fresh, healthy, and of course, seasonal.  Last month Bob took me there for my birthday and I had this wonderful appetizer, goat cheese ravioli….YUM!!!!  Last week I had a dinner party and thought that would be the perfect first course for my party.  So I searched the internet and found a couple of copycat recipes…then the fun began…making it my own.  I was very surprised that the ravioli is actually made with egg roll wrappers, thus making it very very easy for any home cook to prepare.

First off, know that this probably isn’t something you would make during the week after working all day, but for a fun Saturday or Sunday cooking experience, it really is very easy, just a little time consuming.

Preparing the filling is what you will do first.  One thing I LOVE about this ravioli is you can make them up way in advance and they will be fine in the refrigerator until ready to use.  You will need 1 11 or 12 ounce log of goat cheese, mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, one egg, white pepper, fresh basil and whatever other shredded cheese you would like (I also used some shredded provolone.  Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.

Thinly sliced fresh basil

Thinly sliced fresh basil

On a clean work surface, place 1 egg roll wrapper and brush with an egg wash (1 egg plus 1 teaspoon water).

Eggwash

In center of wrapper, place one scoop of cheese mixture and lay another egg roll wrapper over cheese.  Press and seal the edges, pushing out all the air pockets.Press edgesUsing a knife or a ravioli cutter, trim ravioli.  If desired, place a small bowl over ravioli and trace bowl for a perfect circle.DSC_0006Perfect circle

Repeat until all wrappers are used or filling.  My recipes makes 9 ravioli, or one full package of egg roll wrappers.  Place raviolis on a sheet pan, cover and refrigerate until ready to poach.Prepared raviolis

Ingredients for Sauce

To prepare the sauce, in a large sauté pan add 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter, cook over medium heat until butter is melted.  Add 1-2 small shallots or ½ onion, finely chopped, garlic and white pepper.  (I had a package of baby portobello mushrooms in the frig, so I thinly sliced them and added them with the shallots and garlic).  Cook until shallots are soft, about 3-5 minutes.  Deglaze pan with white wine (of drinkable quality) and simmer until wine has reduced by half.  Add tomatoes, chicken stock, and a couple sprigs of fresh thyme, simmer 10 minutes.
Portobellos and ThymeAt this point you can either turn off the heat until ready to prepare the raviolis or cook them (yes it really is that easy…you know the saying, “less is best”)!  When ready to cook the ravioli, remove from the frig, bring sauce up to a boil, place 2-3 ravioli in sauce (depending on your pan) and poach 1 minute.  Poached RavioliRemove ravioli with a slotted spoon and place in bowl or plate.  Repeat until all ravioli’s are cooked.  Ladle remaining sauce over ravioli.  Top with a drop of lemon infused olive oil (not necessary but very yummy) and top with freshly grated cheese.

DSC_0028In a bowl

Season’s 52 Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli Copycat

Yield: 8-9 Servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Ravioli:
1 one pound package egg roll wraps
11 or 12 ounce log of goat cheese
4 ounces ricotta cheese
¼ cup shredded mozzarella
¼ cup shredded provolone
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
Egg wash (1 egg slightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water)

Sauce:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, sliced thinly
1 glove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ cup dry white wine, of drinkable quality
1 14.5 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock
few springs of fresh thyme
¼ cup fresh spinach, cut into thin strips
Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Lemon oil, for a gourmet touch

Ravioli:
In the bowl of a food processor, add cheese, egg, pepper and basil, process until combined.

Place one egg roll wrappers on work area, brush with egg wash. Place 2 heaping tablespoons cheese filling in center of each roll. Lay another egg roll wrap over cheese. Press and seal the edges, pushing out all air pockets. Trim ravioli with a round cutter and place on a baking sheet. Repeat until until filling is all used (should make 8 or 9). Place raviolis in refrigerator until ready to cook.

Sauce:
In a 5 quart stock pot over medium heat, add butter and oil, cook until butter is melted. Add shallots, garlic, and white pepper. Cook until shallots are soft, about 3-5 minutes.

Add wine and simmer until wine has reduced in half. Add tomatoes and chicken stock. Simmer 5 minutes. Keep sauce over medium low heat until ready to cook ravioli.

To cook ravioli:
Place ravioli on slotted spoon and into the simmering stock to poach for one minute. Remove from stock, place in bowl. Continue cooking remaining ravioli. Add spinach to stock, simmer 1-2 minutes (remove thyme sprigs). Ladle sauce over ravioli, sprinkle with grated cheese and a drop of lemon oil.

Buon Appetito!