Saturday, October 10, 2020

PEAR TART - Crostata di Pere

 Mascarpone is a creamy Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. The cows are fed special grasses filled with herbs and flowers so they produce milk that is perfect for making this cheese. Mascarpone cheese can be found in grocery stores in 8-ounce (250-ml) containers.






1 ¼ cups pastry or all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 t finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of sea salt
4 T cold unsalted butter (½ stick), cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk
¼ cup cold cream or half-and-half (half cream)

Place the flour, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine.
Add the butter and pulse a few more seconds.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolk and cream until combined.
With the motor running, pour the egg yolk mixture down the feed tube of the food processor and pulse just until the dough comes together.

Turn out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap up, flattening and forming the dough into a disc. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.

Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll the pastry out to fit a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan. Press the dough carefully up the sides, then roll off overhang with your rolling pin and remove.
Cut a round piece of parchment paper, to fit in the bottom and up the sides of the dough. Place over the dough and add about 2 cups pie weights or dried beans on top of the parchment paper. 
Bake the crust for 20 minutes.
Let cool slightly and remove paper and weights.

Mascarpone Cheese Filling
¾ cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ t pure vanilla extract
1 T all-purpose flour

In a medium bowl, stir together the mascarpone cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla, and flour until well combined. Pour into the cooled tart shell and smooth the surface.

3 medium-size ripe Anjou or Bosc pears
¼ cup unsalted hazelnuts, chopped
2 T granulated sugar

3 T apricot jelly
2 T Calvados or peach brandy

Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.

Peel and cut the pears in half and remove the core with a melon baller or a spoon.
Arrange in the tart shell with the narrower ends pointing towards the center.
If necessary, trim the pears to fit into the tart.
Scatter the hazelnuts over the pears and sprinkle the sugar on top.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until golden and the pears are soft.

Heat the apricot jelly in a small saucepan, or microwave it just until warm.
Turn off heat and add the Calvados or peach brandy and mix to combine.
Brush over the pears.

Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cut each slice with a half pear on top.

Serves 6


BIG MAMMA (TERESA LAPETINA) AND HER SON, DANTE (DONDY)

 

Monday, September 21, 2020

PHILLY CHEESE STEAK SANDWICHES

There has always been the debate over the type of cheese used on a Philly Cheese Steak.  The three popular cheeses are Provolone, Swiss, White American, and the one I would never use - Cheez Whiz.  Cheez Whiz was introduced because of convenience.  I would say that the Provolone is my favorite cheese to use, but love all three.  





1 lb boneless Rib Eye Steak or New York Strip
½ t onion powder
½ t garlic powder
2 t avocado oil or other high smoke point oil
Sea salt and finely ground black pepper

Place steak in the freezer for about 2 hours. 
Slice the steak as thin as you possibly can with a sharp knife and then chop the meat.
Place in a bowl with the above ingredients, toss to combine, and refrigerate for one hour, while caramelizing the onions.

1 large yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
8 thin slices Provolone cheese, divided
1 o 2 T mayonnaise
2 Hoagie Rolls 

In a large cast-iron skillet, sauté onion in oil over low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until soft.  

Chop up 4 slices of the Provolone cheese and set aside.

Spoon onions into a bowl set aside. 

In the same skillet cook steak on high heat for about 3 or 4 minutes, until brown.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the onions back to the skillet with the steak and add chopped cheese.  Mix well in skillet.

Open rolls and place under a broiler for just a couple of minutes to brown. Be careful not to burn. Spread both sides of rolls with mayonnaise.

Divide the steak mixture between the 2 rolls, then top with the rest of the cheese slices.  

Heat under broiler for about one minute, or until cheese is melted but not burned.

Serves 2

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

ASPARAGUS WITH PIGNOLI & SHAVINGS OF PARMIGIANO

I love spring asparagus and this is a delicious way to serve them.  Use can substitute French green beans and it will be equally delicious.



2 T avocado oil
1 cup pignoli (pine nuts)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 t sea salt
2 bunches asparagus, trimmed of tough ends
1 t freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano  cheese
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 T extra-virgin olive oil

Heat the avocado oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add pignoli and garlic and cook stirring constantly, until golden.  About 1 to 2 minutes.  Do not let them burn.  Transfer to a small bowl.

In the same large skillet, bring enough water to cover asparagus to a boil.  Add the salt, stir and add the asparagus.  Cook until just tender, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Drain and add to a large bowl of ice water.

Meanwhile, shave  the Parmigiano and set aside.
When asparagus are cool, pat dry with paper towels and place on a oblong platter or au gratin dish and squeeze on the lemon juice.
Season with the cracked pepper.
Top with the pignoli and garlic.  Finish up with the Parmigiano strips and serve.

Serves 4 to 6

Sunday, August 23, 2020

SPICED ESPRESSO FRAPPE

This Sunday with breakfast, we felt like having a refreshing iced coffee with chocolate hazelnut spread and the little kick of grated ginger.  Make your coffee the night or day before and pour into 2 plastic ice trays so they are ready to go in the morning.  The sugar is optional. . .it may be sweet enough for you without.


3 cups freshly brewed espresso coffee or strong coffee, cooled and frozen into cubes (2 ice trays)
2 cups almond milk
¼ cup granulated sugar (optional)
½ cup chocolate hazelnut spread (I use Nutella)
½ t freshly grated ginger
½ t ground cinnamon
¼ t freshly ground nutmeg

Add all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into 4 chilled glasses and serve with a straw.

¼ cup brandy can be added for an after dinner dessert-frappe



Tuesday, August 18, 2020

SPAGHETTI WITH PESTO SAUCE - Spaghetti al Pesto Genovese

In this recipe for Pesto sauce, I added some spinach to tone down the strong flavor of basil and to make it even healthier and the color brighter.
You can make it with just basil leaves and just one type of grated cheese. . .the choice is yours, but this is delicious!



½ cup pine nuts (pignoli)

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 cups packed basil leaves, about 3 large bunches
1 cup packed baby spinach, about 1 small bunch
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb spaghetti

Place pine nuts in a non-stick skillet and over medium heat, toast the nuts until golden.  Do not walk away because they burn easily.  Let cool.
Pulse pine nuts in a food processor until they are completely smooth.  Scrape down the sides from time to time.
Add olive oil and garlic and pulse until the garlic is finely chopped.

Chop basil and spinach very roughly, then add to the processor.  Pulse, stopping every few seconds to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Scrape pesto into a bowl and add the cheeses and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water for 7 to 8 minutes, until al dente.
Drain spaghetti, reserving about ½ cup of the pasta water.
Pour pasta back into the pan, add some of the pesto, add some of the pasta water to slightly thin the sauce.

Serves 4





Tuesday, July 28, 2020

LINGUINE WITH SHRIMP SCAMPI & HERBS

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
Normally I do not recommend cooking with extra-virgin olive oil. Save the good stuff for salad dressing, pasta salads, and finishing on already prepared food. This dish is cooked over medium heat and you can use extra-virgin olive oil if preferred.

Extra-virgin olive oil has a smoke point of around 375 degrees F (191 C).

Avocado oil has a smoke point of around 400 degrees F (204 C).
Peanut oil has a smoke point of around 435 degrees F (224 C).
Extra-light olive oil has a smoke point of around 468 degrees F (242 C).



½ lb linguine
4 T unsalted butter
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
½ to ¾ lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
½ cup white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or white vermouth
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup minced Italian parsley
2 T minced chives
6 large basil leaves, minced

Cook the linguine in boiling salted water until al dente, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Save ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil.
Add the diced onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and shrimp.
Cook until the shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, wine, parsley, chives, basil, and pasta water.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil for a minute, then add the cooked and drained linguine.
Toss to combine.

Divide between two warm pasta bowls and serve.

Serves 2 as a main course and 4 as a first course (primi piatti)