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)




Monday, July 20, 2020

SPAGHETTI ALLA PUTTANESCA

In the Italian language, a puttana is a "lady of the night." This pasta dish is quick and easy to make. Perhaps that's how it got its name...because the ladies of the night could make this quickly between customers. I smash up the anchovies along with a clove of garlic in a mortar and pestle, and it gives that wonderful flavor without being overpowering. If you want more anchovy flavor, use one or two more. You can find the Italian olives in most supermarkets and of course in any Italian market.  


¼ cup extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 ½ cups pitted and chopped Italian green olives, preferably Cerignola or Castelvetrano
1 cup pitted and chopped Italian black olives, preferably Gaeta or Lugano
¼ cup capers, drained
3 to 4 anchovies, mashed in a mortar and pestle or use about 1 T anchovy paste
4 cloves garlic, mashed in a mortar and pestle or minced
½ cup Italian white wine (Frascati, Orvieto, or Pinot Grigio)
2 (28 oz) cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes
1 ½  lbs spaghetti
½ t red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T chopped fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling 
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a large pot, sauté the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 5 minutes until translucent.
Add the olives, capers, mashed anchovies, and garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the wine and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and hand-crush them, removing the hard center cores.
Alternatively, use an immersion blender to chop the tomatoes.

Add the crushed tomatoes to the pot and simmer for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook 7 to 8 minutes, until al dente. Drain the spaghetti, but save ½ cup of the pasta water.

Add some of the reserved pasta water to slightly thin the sauce, if needed.

Season to taste with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
Add the chopped parsley, basil, and drained pasta; toss to coat.

Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil, garnish with basil, and serve with grated Parmigiano cheese.

Serves 6



Tuesday, June 16, 2020

MUSSELS WITH GARLIC & WHITE WINE

This is a delicious and simple recipe to make. You won't find it better in any restaurant. Buy the best and freshest mussels you can find which makes all the difference.

Lee's Kitchen Tips: 
Ask your fishmonger if your mussels are wild or cultivated. If they are wild, make sure they have beards attached. Do not remove beards until just before cooking. Removing the beards causes the mussels to slowly die. Wild mussels have a slightly stronger flavor. Cultivated mussels do not have any noticeable beards and have a more delicate taste. 






2 lbs fresh mussels, beards attached
2 T unsalted butter
2 T avocado oil
2 large shallots or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine or white vermouth
1 t fresh thyme leaves or ½ t dried thyme
½ t red pepper flakes (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T chopped Italian parsley
Lemon wedges, for serving
Crusty Italian bread

Scrub the mussels with a brush under cold running water. 
Place in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
In a large heavy pot, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. 
Add shallots or onion and sauté for 5 minutes.                                                                  
Add garlic and sauté another minute. 
Add the thyme, and red pepper flakes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the wine and bring to a boil. 
Remove mussels from the refrigerator and using "kitchen-only" pliers, remove beards.
Add mussels to the pot, cover, reduce heat and simmer until shells open, about 5 to 6 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels.
Ladle into a warm serving bowl or two smaller warm bowls and garnish with parsley.
Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread for dipping.


Serves 2



Sunday, June 7, 2020

SPAGHETTI WITH WHTE CLAM SAUCE - Spaghetti alle Vongole Bianche

This recipe has a lot of fresh middle neck clams (from the Chesapeake Bay) and clam juice infused with white wine, olive oil, and finished off with butter.  Serve this with crusty bread for sopping up the juices.  Grated cheese is optional, but most Italians say that's a "no-no", but we like it with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.



4 to 5 dozen clams (top neck to the smaller middle neck clams).
¼ cup water
1 cup dry white wine
1 lb spaghetti 
¼ cup extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
1 small yellow onion or shallot, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t fresh oregano leaves
4 T unsalted butter
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
2 T finely chopped Italian parsley
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving (optional)

Fill a large bowl or with cool water.  Add 1 tablespoon of sea salt (not iodized salt) and let the clams sit in the cool water for 20 to 30 minutes, but no more.  Gently spoon then into a colander and rinse them a couple more minutes with cool tap water.

In a large pot that you will boil the pasta in, bring water and wine to a boil.  Add the clams, cover, and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, until clams open. 
Discard any clams that failed to open.

Pour clams and juice from pot into a large mesh strainer, set over a large bowl to catch the juices.  Remove all but about 16 to 20 clams from their shells and roughly chop.  Place them in a smaller bowl.  Leave the rest of the clams in their shells and place in a bowl, covered to keep warm.  Set all three bowls aside.

Meanwhile, in the same large pot, cook the spaghetti 7 to 8 minutes in salted water until al dente.  Before draining reserve two ladles of pasta water; pour one over the clams in their shells to keep then warm, and reserve another ladleful (in a glass or cup) to add to the almost-finished clam sauce.

In a large skillet large enough to hold the pasta and sauce, heat the olive oil or avocado oil over medium heat and sauté the onion or shallot for about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and butter and sauté another minute.
Add the chopped clams, clam broth (pour slowly so that any grit will be left behind), and reserved pasta water.  Cook one more minute.
Season lightly with salt and pepper and add the lemon zest and juice.
Add the drained pasta to the pan along with the parsley.  Heat for just a minute or two while tossing with a pair of tongs, until well combined.

Divide into 4 warm pasta bowls and garnish each bowl with the clams in the shells.  Pour the rest of the hot clam broth from from the skillet over each bowl.

Sprinkle with some of the parsley, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil, and serve with grated cheese, if desired.

Serves 4

Friday, May 22, 2020

LEMON SORBET WITH PROSECCO - Sgroppino al Limone

Traditionally, sgroppino is a refreshing aperitif that is said to have originated in Venice, Italy and is served blended, but this is another way to serve it as a dessert. With the abundance of lemons on the Amalfi Coast, I think it could have been invented there. This is so refreshing on a warm summer evening.




1 cup chilled Prosecco
¼ cup chilled limonello
¼ cup chilled plain or lemon-flavored vodka 
Good-quality lemon sorbet

Fresh mint leaves


Pour ½ cup Prosecco into each champagne flute or Irish coffee glass. 
Equally, divide the limoncello and vodka into each flute or glass.
Add 2 to 3 scoops of lemon sorbet.

Top with mint and serve immediately.

Serves 2 

Monday, May 4, 2020

BRUSCHETTE WITH RCOTTA, ARUGULA, & PROSCIUTTO

This is now one of my husband's favorite bruschette.
Bruschetta (with an "a") is singular and bruschette (with an "e") is plural. Since it was just the two of us, I only made 4 appetizers. This also makes a nice lunch with a glass of vino.


1 loaf Italian bread cut into ½-inch slice
Extra-light olive oil for brushing onto each slice
1 whole clove garlic
Fresh whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature
Freshly ground black pepper
A handful of baby arugula
4 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Brush each slice of bread on both sides.
Heat a griddle or grill pan to medium-high heat. 
Grill the bread until brown on both sides.
Remove and rub the top side of bread with the garlic clove.
Spread with some ricotta, season with a little black pepper, add a few arugula leaves, and top with a slice of Prociutto.

Drizzle with a little exta-virgin olive oil and place on a platter or board and serve. Buon appetito!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

NEAPOLITAN PIZZA

Many years ago I served my first homemade, Neapolitan-style pizza to my husband and children.  The dough was pressed into a large sheet pan, like pictured.  It was served sizzling hot and speckled with sweet Italian sausage.  The crust was so crispy, even in the middle.  I made sure the anchovies were in two sections where my husband could easily pick them out.  My children and I do not particularly like them on pizza.  I once served a four types of pizza...Napolitan, Margherita, Pizza Bianca, and Riviera to my husband's parents and grandparents.  They loved them all!  My recipes for pizza dough and pizza sauce are on 9 Aug 2018 on this blog.



One recipe for pizza dough or already-prepared dough
One recipe for pizza sauce or store-bought pizza sauce

3 links sweet or hot Italian sausages, cooked, cooled, & sliced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
Pitted black Italian olives
Sliced pimiento green olives
1 green bell pepper, sliced into circles
Sliced sun-dried tomatoes, in oil
Thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
8 oz ball fresh mozzarella cheese, broken into small pieces
Freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Press dough into a sheet pan.
Ladle on some pizza sauce.
Top with some or all of the above toppings.

Bake the pizza in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Cut into 12 slices

Friday, March 6, 2020

CASA LASAGNE BOLOGNESE AL FORNO

I use a combination of Asiago and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in this lasagne. Asiago is similar to Parmigiano because it has a slightly nutty and sweet flavor. The Ragù is enough for two lasagne or enough for another meal or two with pasta. I start out making the Ragù one to three days before I assemble the lasagne. Many times, I freeze the unbaked lasagne to have another evening. Just remember to bring it out to defrost before baking. This style of lasagne is also known as Tuscan Lasagne.  You can also substitute Pecorino Romano for the Asiago.



Ragù
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil, divided
¼ lb pancetta, diced
2 lbs lean ground beef
½ lb ground pork
½ lb ground veal 
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 (13-oz) can tomato paste

4 T unsalted butter

2 cups whole milk
2 t dried oregano
8 leaves fresh basil, torn or chiffonade
¼ t nutmeg
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ t red pepper flakes (optional)

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic 
until fairly fine; like a minced soffritto.

In a Dutch oven, add the 1 tablespoon of the oil and cook the soffritto over medium heat 
for 10 minutes. Spoon mixture into a very large bowl and set aside.

In the same Dutch oven over medium heat, add the rest of the oil and cook the pancetta until golden.
Add half of the ground beef and brown until crumbly, about 10 minutes.
As the meat cooks, break up any chunks with a wooden spoon into small pieces. 
Spoon into the large bowl with the soffritto
Repeat with the rest of the beef, then spoon into the bowl with the cooked vegetables.
Repeat with the pork and veal and brown; leaving in the pan.
Return the browned beef and vegetables to the pot.
Add the wine, stirring up browned bits on the bottom of the pan. 
Add the chicken stock, water, and tomato paste; mix in well.
Simmer very gently, partially covered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Add the butter and rest of the ingredients and simmer another 15 minutes.


Besciamella (Béchamel)

6 T unsalted butter
6 T all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
1 ½ t sea salt
½ t grated nutmeg

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until foaming; add flour and cook, 
whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Do not brown.
Gradually whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a gentle boil, while whisking constantly. Add salt and nutmeg, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, and
simmer 2 minutes, until it thickens slightly.
Turn off heat and set aside.

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
Mix the above cheese together in a bowl.

1 lb fresh lasagne sheets


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.


Spread a layer of ragù in the bottom of a lasagna pan. 

Cover with a sheet or two of pasta, a layer of besciamella, a layer of grated mixed Parmigiano and Asiago, and a layer of ragù.
Repeat 3 more times, ending with a layer of besciamella.

Sprinkle the last of the grated cheeses over the top.


Cover loosely with parchment-lined aluminum foil or spray your inside of the foil with oil and bake in the oven for 1 hour. 
Remove foil, add a little more cheese, and continue to bake another 15 minutes
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 to 12 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serves 6 to 8