Monthly Archives: April 2008

Bacon, Eggs and Cheese for Dinner?

Sometimes the simplest foods are the best foods. This recipe is yet one more way to use that big block of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Also I get to continue my obsession with Italian food. A perfect easy Sunday dinner.

Pasta alla Carbonara

½ pound fresh linguine
1 teaspoon olive oil
about 4 ounces diced pancetta
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg
½ grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
¼ cup diced fresh flat leaf parsley
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese curls

Fill a pot with water and set to boil. Heat a different pot on medium high and add the oil and pancetta. Stir the pancetta so that it browns evenly. While the pancetta is browning, hopefully the water has reached a boil. Add salt and the pasta, cook according to package directions. Add the minced garlic. When the garlic softens, turn off the heat. Beat the egg with the grated Parmesan. Drain the cooked pasta, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid and immediately add the wet pasta to the pancetta. Stir in the egg mixture, the parsley and salt and pepper. Toss till the sauce thickens. Add some of the pasta water if necessary if the egg mixture gets too thick.

Serve the pasta in a bowl with the Parmigiano curls.


Think Local, Buy Local

I decided to have some school friends over for dinner on Saturday night. I still have a ton of that Parmigiano cheese left so this was the perfect dish to top with curles of Parmigiano. Also I wanted to go to the local butcher and cheese maker because it is fun to shop locally and it is better for the environment.

Veal Milanesas with Polenta

1 pint grape tomatoes
handful of fresh parsley leaves
oil and balsamic vinegar
baby arugula
1 quart fat free milk
2 cups water
1 tablespoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
3 cups instant polenta
½ cup grated Parmesan
1 bunch fresh parsley, minced and divided
8 veal cutlets, pounded thin
salt and pepper
garlic powder
1 egg
Italian style breadcrumbs
Grated Parmesan
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese curls
Lemon wedges

Cut the grape tomatoes in quarters and mix them with the parsley leaves and oil and vinegar dressing. Season as necessary. Wash the arugula and set aside to dry.

Start the polenta. In a large stockpot, heat the milk, water, garlic power and salt and pepper. Once the milk mixture is scalding but not boiling, add in the polenta grains. With a large whisk, on medium, continue stirring till the polenta is thick and fully cooked. If the polenta is too thick add a bit more water. Cover and set aside till after the veal is cooked.

Season the veal cutlets with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Set up a dredging station. In the first bowl put the flower, in the second bowl make an egg wash with the egg and water and in the third bowl mix the bread crumbs, grated Parmesan and half of the minced parsley.

Heat half olive oil and canola oil on medium high in a large frying pan. Put in enough oil so that it will come up to half of the cutlet height.

Lay a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter. After dipping the veal into the flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs, on each side, lay them in a single layer on the paper. Once the oil is heated, fry the veal 2 to 3 at a time. After it is brown on each side flip it over and brown the other side. Drain the cutlets on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt.

While the last cutlets are frying, reheat the polenta, adding water as necessary to achieve a thick consistency. Add in the grated Parmesan cheese and the rest of the parsley.

To serve, place a mound of polenta in the corner of the plate. Lean two cutlets up against the polenta. Toss the tomatoes with the arugula and place a large mound over the cutlets. Sprinkle with the Parmesan curls and sprinkle with a tiny bit of lemon.

Berries with Mascarpone Cream and Balsamic Sauce

1 pint Strawberries
½ pint blueberries
½ pint black berries
4 chewy lime butter cookies
1 small container mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons honey
Pinch of salt
Balsamic Vinegar

To reduce the balsamic vinegar, heat on medium high until it gets thicker and sweeter. (This can be easy to burn and will make your house stink, so I like to buy reduced balsamic vinegar sauce from WholeFoods, to make my life easier.)

Wash and dry all of the berries. Quarter the strawberries and set aside.

Mix the cheese, honey and salt to form a sweet cream.

To plate the desert, place a cookie each plate and divide the cheese between the four plates. Pile the plate with the betties and drizzle the balsamic sauce over to for a pretty pattern. Use the Balsamic sparingly.

Behold the Power of Cheese

I brought back over 1 kilo of Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy. It is such a beautiful thing, a giant wheel of cheese. Probably my favorite part of Italy was aparativo. Basically aparativo is happy hour, but in a much better way than we do it here in the US. You buy one glass of wine and then there is a large free antipasto buffet. Delicious!

Parmigiano Antipasto Platter

Parmigiano-Reggiano, flaked into bite size pieces
Assorted dried meats and sausage: prochutto, ham, salami etc
Marinated and roasted vegetables: roasted red peppers, mushrooms, oven-roasted tomatoes
Crusty Italian bread
Dark Italian Pine Honey

Cut all of the ingredients into bit size pieces and arrange them rustically across the table. The honey with the bread and cheese is divine!

Sausage Fest

Normally when I come back from traveling I want to eat the opposite foods. However though I had a lot of sushi, I still crave Italian food. Also I brought back more than 1 kilo of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Broccolini Sausage

2 lbs Spicy Italian Pork Sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon capers, drained
12 pitted Nicoise olives
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
salt and pepper
2 bunches Broccolini
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Cut the sausage into bit size pieces. Add then to a large non-stick pan or pot on medium high heat. Let the sausage sit on the heat for at least 5 minutes, until it starts to brown, turn all of the sausage over and let the other side brown again. Add the garlic and sauté. Add the tomato paste, capers, olives and seasoning. Stir. Put the lid on and let the mixture cook for at least 10 minutes to meld all of the flavors and cook the sausage through. Once the sausage is fully cooked, add the broccolini, cut into bit size pieces. Stir it into the tomato sauce and cover again. Let the broccolini cook and steam for 5 to 10 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper to taste and add the Parmesan cheese. Serve with bread or pasta or a salad.