Friday, February 23, 2007

Salsa di Ricotta per Frutta (Ricotta Sauce for Fruit)

From an Italian cookbook about Abruzzo. The recipe was given to me from my mom.

Apricots with Ricotta Sauce

Ricotta Sauce for Fruit
1 pound whole milk ricotta, drained
1/4 cup sugar or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Rind of 1 orange, minced
Juice of 1 large orange

Place all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with a plastic blade. Process until smooth. Chill before using. Serve the sauce over berries or fresh fruit. Makes 2 cups.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Frittata with Peas and Mozzarella

This is a quick creation we did one night when we were hungry and tired and out of food. It's based on the basic Italian frittata with peas. The measurements are approximate because nothing was actually measured.

Frittata with Peas and Mozzarella

Frittata with Peas and Mozzarella
Serves 2

Olive oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 cup frozen peas
Italian herbs, such as basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary
Log of mozzarella, sliced

Heat medium skillet with olive oil. Beat together the eggs and Parmesan and herbs and pour into skillet. Swirl the skillet so that the egg mixture is evenly distributed. Add peas in an even layer. Cook until the edges start to brown and pull away from the pan. Top with slices of mozzarella and place the pan under the broiler for a couple minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve with salad and bread for a light meal.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Italian Baked Beans

We made these for the first time yesterday, and they are wonderful! A variety of beans can be used in this dish: cannelini, cranberry, or pinto beans. Because we were running out of all of the above, we used a little of each. Serve these beans with a dark green and either crusty bread or rice. For dinner, we made red chard and french bread as accompaniments. The leftover beans and chard were served at lunch with a new batch of rice.

Italian Baked Beans

Italian Baked Beans

2 cups (about 1 pound) cannelini, cranberry, or pinto beans
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 small cloves or 3 large cloves garlic
12 leaves (about 2 sprigs) sage
Boiling water
Salt and pepper

Soak beans overnight. Place beans in a casserole with olive oil, garlic, and sage and top with boiling water until water sits 1 inch above the beans. Cover and bake at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This Week's Menu

This week contains Valentine's Day, so we'll have a special Valentine's dinner menu. We also weren't able to finish all of last week's menu selections, so we'll start with the Veggie Stroganoff from last week. We didn't have enough food for lunch, so I've included a couple of lunch selections and a quick bread for breakfast.

Banana Bread with Dried Apricots

Hummus Club Sandwiches
Penne with Chickpeas in Tomato Sauce

Veggie Stroganoff
Farmer's Market Fresh Pasta (Walnut-filled this week)
Baby Lima Bean and Spinach Gratin
Fish (not sure what yet)

Valentine Dinner

Honey Carrot Soup
Deviled Crab Boules with Buerre Blanc

Steamed Asparagus
Fresh Fruit with Ricotta Sauce

Honey Carrot Soup
--Honey Carrot Soup

Crab Boulee and Steamed Asparagus
--Crab Boule

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Oscars Party

Right now, I'm in the midst of planning the menu for the Oscars Party I'm hosting on February 25th. The Oscars start at 4pm and go on for hours, so it'll involve serving snacks and a meal. The Oscars are being hosted al fresco this year in LA, and the style is Mediterranean, so I'm trying to build upon this theme with the menu. These are some ideas I have to start with, but let me know if you have any to add! I'll be updating this as time goes on.

Appetizers & Finger Foods
Traditional Popcorn
Maple-Chile Popcorn
Cinnamon Sugar Popcorn
Cheese Fondue with Steamed Veggies and Toasted Baguette Slices
Mini Roasted Red Pepper Philo Pies
Stuffed Grape Leaves
Marinated Brie and Olives

Main Dishes

Mediterranean Galette
Layered Vegetable Terrine
Caprese Salad with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls

Double-dipped Chocolate Strawberries


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Creamy Pumpkin-Sage Potato Gnocchi

We brilliantly forgot one ingredient from each recipe we planned to make this week, so I made dinner on-the-fly with ingredients already stocked in the cupboard, refrigerator and freezer. It turned out very well!

Food 006

Creamy Pumpkin-Sage Potato Gnocchi
1 lb. fresh potato gnocchi
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig fresh sage, chopped
1 can pureed pumpkin
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil in a large pot and cook gnocchi until they float or according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat until hot. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add sage and saute for another 30 seconds. Add pumpkin and cook until heated through. Add maple syrup, salt and pepper. Turn off heat. Add creme fraiche and mix until all lumps are gone. Add hot gnocchi and mix well. Serve hot, topped with grated parmesan.

This Week's Menu

It is the beginning of February, and in California, this is often a time when spring starts to pop its little head. Indeed, it is in the high 60's today in the Bay Area. However, the produce available reminds us that we're still living in the height of winter. Warm, hearty foods make the soul happy. This was my theme for creating our dinner menu this week. Because I'm only feeding two people here, the leftovers from dinner will also feed us for lunch. My best friend also recently mailed me a pouch full of Iranian saffron, and I intend to use it!:

Spiced Oatmeal
Saffron-Lemon-Almond Bread

Vegetable Kofta (From Heaven's Banquet) served over Rice
Farmer's Market Fresh Pasta (happens to be smoked salmon this week)
Monkfish in Saffron Broth over Baby Spinach and Red Potatoes (from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2007)
Tuscan Baked Beans (from Joy of Cooking) with Sauteed Greens and Crusty Bread
Vegetable Stroganoff (From Heaven's Banquet) over Wide Wheat Noodles
Homemade Pizza with leftover toppings

Some of these recipes may be appearing soon, so keep checking back!
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