Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

mushroomsdish.jpg

Baked Stuffed Mushrooms

When I make stuffed mushrooms it’s always a last minute thought. And that’s okay. Because it takes near nothing to do.

You can make this recipe with 5 mushrooms, 12 mushrooms, 20. As long as you have a shallot (my favorite for this) or an onion (and some breadcrumb) you’re ready. Turn on the oven to 375 or 400. Line a sheet pan with foil. And go!

They are so tasty, and look so enticing and elaborate, you’ll never use a mushroom in any other way. (Well, of course, you will.)

Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

12 medium to large white or cremini mushrooms (I love having the usual array of mixed sizes)

1 shallot

Olive oil for sautéing and drizzling

1/2 cup panko

2-3 sprigs parsley, leaves minced, stems discarded

salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Line a sheet pan with foil. Drizzle a thin film of olive oil on foil. Gently pop out the stems of the mushrooms and line up the empty caps on the sheet pan. Mince up the stems. Peel and mince the shallot. Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a medium frying pan. Sauté the chopped stems and shallot. Season with salt and pepper. When softened — about 2-3 minutes — add the breadcrumb & parsley. Drizzle a little more olive oil. Stir and coat crumbs with mixture. Add a little more salt. Take off heat. Let cool for a minute or so.

Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over caps, and very lightly salt caps. Using a small spoon, spoon mixture into caps until heaping. Place pan with mushrooms in the oven. Bake for about 10-15 minutes until tops are golden or lightly brown.

mushroomspan.JPG

Baked Stuffed Mushrooms

 

 

Beans & Macaroni aka “Pasta Fazul”

BMFinished

Beans & Macaroni

My mom says she thinks Beans & Macaroni was an every Friday night dish when she was growing up — for Catholics, Friday was a no-meat day. Both my parents grew up in Brooklyn during the 1930’s & 40’s. My grandparents were from Italy and all cooking was Italy influenced. 

Beans & Macaroni is also the oft-dialect-named Pasta “Fazul” or in real Italian: Pasta e Fagioli. This is a very simple dish — deceivingly so, because the flavor is surprising and addicting. AND you’re eating awfully-good healthy.

You start by putting on the pasta pot to boil. Add your pasta, then start the other ingredients. That’s how long it takes. No time!

BMpastaboiling

pasta boiling

Try it. It’s a surprise (if you didn’t know it already) and when you’ve got a couple of garlic cloves, a can of beans, and a 1/2 lb. of pasta— you’re in!

BMingredients.JPG

beans and macaroni ingredients

I added the “prohibited” meat, a 1/4 lb. of chopped pancetta.

BMpancettagarlic

pancetta and garlic in oil

Also, not in my mom’s original recipe: some fresh herbs added at the end: basil, parsley, sage, or rosemary— just a little… of just a couple.

Beans & Macaroni (Pasta Fagioli — “Pasta Fazul”)

1/2 lb. small cut macaroni i.e. elbow or ditalini

1 15-oz can cannellini beans

1/4 cup olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled & cut in half

1/4 cup minced pancetta (optional)

salt & pepper to taste

3-4 sprigs Italian parley, leaves minced, stems discarded

1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves minced, stems discarded

grated cheese to pass at table

Fill a pasta pot with water and bring to a boil. Season water with salt and pour in pasta. Cook until “al dente” (done but not mushy).

Meanwhile, add the can of beans and its water to a small saucepan, add an additional  3/4 can of water. Season beans with salt & pepper. Bring to a simmer. After it’s hot, take a potato masher and mash down the beans one or two times only– so you get a little mush, but mostly left with whole beans (this thickens the whole dish a little). In another small saucepan, add the olive oil and garlic (& pancetta if using) until garlic gets just a little golden (and pancetta is cooked through), then shut off.

Drain pasta and add drained pasta to a medium serving bowl. Add the beans and its water. Add the olive oil, (cooked pancetta), and garlic. Sprinkle with parsley & rosemary, toss to combine. Serve in bowls. Pass grated cheese.

BMindividual.JPG

your serving of beans and macaroni

Roasted Tomato Pesto

tomatoes

This sauce has a lot of concentrated flavor: tomato, garlic, herbs, with a touch of creaminess. It’s easy to do. And it all takes place in your oven, with a quick stint in your food processor.

Use this sauce for your favorite pasta. It’s earthy, luscious, and unforgettable!

Roasted Tomato Pesto

10 fresh Roma tomatoes

3-4 garlic cloves, peeled, quartered 

salt to taste

about 1 tablespoon sugar

3-4 fresh oregano sprigs

3-4 fresh tarragon sprigs

3-4 fresh mint sprigs

(or substitute, sage, rosemary, or your favorite herbs)

olive oil to drizzle

2-3 tablespoons half & half

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a sheet pan with foil. Drizzle a thin layer of oil over foil. On a clear work surface, or cutting board, cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Over a bowl, push out all of the seeds into bowl. Place tomato “shell” on prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the rest of the tomatoes. Place a piece of garlic in some or all of the tomatoes. Season with salt, sprinkle with sugar. Scatter herb sprigs on top of and between tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes. Place in oven and roast for about 30-40 minutes, until tomatoes get wilted and browned in places. 

Remove from oven. Let cool. Pick out the herb sprigs, and about half of the garlic. When cooled, place tomatoes in a food processor and pure until smooth. Spoon sauce into your pasta serving bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of half & half, stir in until combined. Add hot, drained pasta. (Quantity is good for 1 pound.) Stir to coat.

Quick Tasty Mini Spinach Pies

FullSizeRender 53

mini spinach pies

This is one of those recipes that works great when you have a sheet of dough ready in your freezer. Like I did!

One sheet of puff pastry (preferably made with butter, and not hydrogenated oils — actually, Publix just came out with an all-butter puff pastry). It takes maybe 20 minutes at the most to thaw. In that meantime, you can put together the filling and preheat the oven, so when you roll out the dough and fill and shape your spinach pies, it’ll be just 20 minutes later when you’re eating.

BLOGSPinach1.jpg

mini spinach pies about to bake

Wow. Quick. Easy. Tastes great. And you know exactly what’s in the food you’re eating (as opposed to a fast PU at a quickie restaurant). Make your own snacks!

(I added some minced sorrel to my mixture, because my friend, Danusia, once made spinach pies with sorrel. That subtle addition of taste was so good! She gave me a plant this season and it’s been thriving. So, lucky me, I’ve got sorrel! But you don’t need it. Works fine without, too.) *FYI: that’s my sister in the video. My sous chef.

Enjoy!

BLOGSpinach2

mini spinach pies

Mini Spinach Pies

1-2 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, diced

6-9 ounces of spinach (I get triple washed)

4 ounces crumbled feta or goat cheese

salt & pepper to taste

1 egg, beaten for egg wash (add a little splash of water)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Sauté diced onion in the butter. When softened (about 2-3 minutes), add spinach and let it wilt — add a little salt. Drain. Remove to a mixing bowl and crumble in cheese. (Add a couple of sorrel leaves, minced, if you have it — or another herb you may love — mint? basil? or nothing else…) Season mixture with some more salt and some pepper.

Roll out your sheet of puff pastry…to about half as much thinner. Cut into 3-inch squares. Spoon some filling into each square, fold square in half in a triangle shape. Press edges to seal with your fingers, use a fork to press edges a bit more to seal. Place on a parchment or silpat-lined sheet pan. Brush with some egg wash. Poke one little hole in the top each for steam release while baking. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden. Eat.

 

 

Tasty Recipe for Cornish Hen

Henscooked.jpg

roasted Cornish hen

Oh, they are so little! They border on game, but aren’t really. Still there’s a slightly deeper taste to the meat (than, say, chicken). They cook up fast (because: oh, they’re so little!) and are so easy to make tasty.

May fave way is to make a quick pesto of your favorite herbs. Add as many as you like — or use just one. Pulse in a food processor with a little garlic. Add salt and a little olive oil. Press the pesto under the breast skin.

HensJim.jpg

Jim, Karen, and Chuck dressing hens in my class

Hens-Barbara.jpg

Barbara & Vickie getting hens ready in my class

I rub some butter all over the bird. Add some thyme leaves to the pan and some quartered lemons. Stuff a few lemon pieces inside the bird.

Hensstuffedraw.JPG

ready for the oven 

Season well with salt and roast at 400 degrees for about 40-45 minutes. Instant read should say 180 (a bit more than the 165 for chix). And ta-da!

I know some people could go with a whole Cornish hen for a serving, but I split them in half down the breast line and serve each person half a hen (so there… you have a new band name: Half a Hen). 🙂

Yum, yum, yum, yum.

Roasted Cornish Hen in 5-Herb Vinaigrette (serves 4)

2 Cornish hens

1/4 cup parsley leaves

1/4 cup oregano leaves

1/4 cup mint leaves

1 tablespoon sage leaves

2 garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped 

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

2 lemons, 1 zested/1 quartered 

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2-3 thyme whole sprigs

salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

You can roast hens whole of to spatchcock: cut the backbone out of the 2 hens so that they can lay flat, skin side up, spatchcock-style. Line a sheet pan with foil. Place a grate into the pan — or use without.

Add the parsley, oregano, mint, sage, and garlic to the bowl of a processor. Pulse until minced fine. Scrape into a medium mixing bowl. Add thyme leaves, lemon zest, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. Stir to combine.

Loosen breast skin from hens. Stuff pesto until skin of the breasts. Place hens on sheet pan. Rub with butter. Season with with salt & pepper. Toss thyme sprigs, and lemon quarters on top. Roast for about 45 minutes until golden brown and instant read thermometer reaches 180 degrees. Cut each hen in half, down the bread line. Serve hot.

Italian Easter Pie or Pizza Rustica

FullSizeRender 23.jpg

Easter Pie or Pizza Rustica

I remember that exciting time when Easter pies lined the glass counters of Italian bakeries in New York. These savory pies — also known as Pizza Rustica — showed up just before Easter. They’re an elaborate, rich celebration of cured meats at the end of Lent.

Pie baked in pan.JPG

Easter Pie or Pizza Rustica

The pie is over-full with chunks of salami, mortadella, cappacollo, ham…that’s my version. You can mix up the meats to include pepperoni or soppressata, or prosciutto.

Pie chopped ingredients

Chopped cappacollo, salami, ham, mortadella, & mozzarella

They meats are mixed with ricotta, eggs, parmigiano, and — in my version — provolone for a little sharpness. 

Pie ricotta mix

Meats mixed with cheeses

The whole pie is baked in a flaky crust and served in slices for an appetizer — or part of your Easter lunch or dinner.

Pie dough on top.JPG

Pie egg wash.JPG

Pie out of pan.JPG

The pie keeps well, refrigerated, for a few days. You can sneak irresistible tasty slivers for as long as a week.

Don’t worry if it looks involved — it’s not hard! It’s authentic — one of those rustic culinary traditions that Italians look forward to every year (including me). Once you taste it, you’ll make it one your traditions, too. Let me know how it goes. : )

Buona Pasqua!

Easter Pie or Pizza Rustica

For the Pastry:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

pinch salt

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup cold dry white wine

For the Filling:

2 cups ricotta

3 eggs, plus 1 more egg for egg wash

1/2 lb. mozzarella, diced

¼ lb. mortadella, thick sliced, cut into small dice

¼ lb. capacollo, thick sliced, cut into small dice

¼ lb. salami, thick sliced, cut into small dice

1/4 lb. ham, thick sliced, cut into dice

1 cup grated Parmigiano or Pecorino

1/4 lb. diced pecorino or provolone cheese

salt & pepper to taste 

1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Put the flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Cut the butter into cubes and add to flour. Pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the chilled wine. Process until a ball of dough forms — about 15-20 seconds. If ball isn’t forming, add a tablespoon or more wine.

Take dough out of the processor and divide into two pieces—about 2/3 and 1/3. Flatten each into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes, or as long as overnight. 

In a large mixing bowl mix together the ricotta with the grated cheese. Stir in the mozzarella, mortadella, capacollo, salami, ham, and diced cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a small bowl, beat together the 3 eggs. Season eggs with salt. Stir into ricotta mixture, and combine well. 

Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Roll out the larger piece of dough to fit a the pan, with dough coming about half-way up the sides of the pan. “Dock” the dough by poking a fork all around the dough. Fill with the ricotta filling. Roll out the smaller piece of dough and place on top. Crimp the edges to seal it together with sides of the bottom pice of dough. . Cut about 4-5 steam slits in a circle around the center into the top dough.

Beat the last egg with a teaspoon o f water. Brush lightly on the dough.

Bake for about 1 hour until the crust colors to golden. Let pizza rustica sit for about 15 minutes before unsealing the sides of the springform pan. Let cool for another 30 minutes-1 hour before cutting into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature. The pie keeps, refrigerated, for a few days.

 

Easy Cream Puffs with Ice Cream

FullSizeRender 19

puffs ready to fill

It’s funny how the most complicated recipes become so uncomplicated after you do them a few times.

I used to be intimidated by cream puffs. You start on the stove? Then mix in your mixer? You have to pipe the batter? And they have to bake properly so they puff up and remain almost empty inside?

Yes. All true. But it all happens very easily.

Here’s my recipe for the batter they call pate a choux. You can make cream puffs or eclairs — depending on the shape that you pipe.

And here’s a tip. No need for piping on the puffs. You can use 2 teaspoons to make a small (and doesn’t need to be perfect) round of batter on your baking sheet.

After they come out of the oven. Poke each one with a toothpick to allow steam to release. If you don’t do that, the steam may stay inside and might make the inside too wet.

Cut them in half side-wise. Dollop some vanilla ice cream, and put the top on. Of course, you can fill them with pastry cream instead. But if we’re keeping this easy, ice cream does the trick! You can also dust them with powdered sugar, or not (optional)…

IMG_7705.JPG

…but do drizzle some chocolate sauce on top of each serving.

IMG_7706.JPG

Cream Puffs w Ice Cream & Chocolate Sauce

1 cup water

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)

pinch salt

1 cup flour

4 eggs

1 pint vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the water, butter and salt in a medium saucepan until bubbling. Take off heat and add the flour. Whisk to combine till incorporated. Put back on the heat and whisk until mixture dries a bit and pulls easily from the sides of the pan.

Transfer mixture to the bowl of a mixer using the paddle attachment. Add the eggs one at a time until each is fully incorporated. Mix until you have a smooth batter, but don’t overmix. Place batter into a piping bag with a small tip with a round hole (or use a ziplock bag and cut a small hole in the corner). Work with half of the batter at a time. (Or instead of piping, use 2 teaspoons to spoon batter onto baking pan.) 

On a parchment-lined sheet pan, pipe small balls about an inch and a half big. (Batter should fill 2 sheet pans.) Bake until golden about 20 minutes. Let puffs cool and poke each one gently with a toothpick to allow steam to escape.

Cut each puff in half. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of ice cream to bottom half. Cover with top half. Serve 2-3 to each person. Drizzle chocolate sauce. 

Chocolate Sauce:

3/4 cup chocolate chips (preferably bitter or semi-sweet)

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

1/2 cup heavy cream

Melt the chocolate, cream, and instant espresso in a small heavy saucepan until combined and smooth. Drizzle sauce lightly over filled cream puffs.

**************