Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Interview with Award-Winning Cookbook Author Jackie Newgent

Last week I did a video interview with registered dietitian and award-winning cookbook author Jackie Newgent; on ways to spice up ordinary food.

I’m always looking for new and exciting things to do with food and still retain their nutritional values. So I jumped on this wonderful opportunity. In the video Jackie gives some good healthy tips like: using turkey instead of beef to make burgers and mixing in red bell peppers for added taste.

Somehow when reading the initial offer I totally missed the part about the video being sponsored by Hellman’s Mayonnaise. To be honest…I have nothing against mayonnaise..I eat it…not often but when the situation is right I’m ok with it. I believe in the whole “everything in moderation” theory. A little mayonnaise is not going to kill you but do I believe in mayonnaise being “good for us”. No, not really.

That being said take a look at this quick video interview with Jackie Newgent and then make your own decision on what role mayonnaise plays in your life.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Raspberry Mascarpone Tart & Ricotta Pancakes

Below are two treats I made this weekend.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Raspberry Mascarpone Tart with Chocolate Cookie Crust
(adapted from Aglio Olio & Peperoncino)

200 gr (1 cup) digestive biscuits (I used chocolate cookies)
100 gr (1/2 cup) butter, melted
200 gr (1 cup) mascarpone cheese
3 tbsp whipping cream
3 drops natural vanilla extract, or 1/2 tsp vanilla
Confectioner's sugar to taste
400 gr (2 cups) fresh raspberries
2 fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)
50 gr (1/4 cup) raspberry glaze (which is simply melted raspberry jam)

Blitz the biscuits in the food processor until they form coarse crumbs. If you prefer you can put them in a sealed ziploc bag and bash the hell out of them with a rolling pin. Tip into a mixing bowl, add the melted butter and a tablespoon of water, and work in with your fingertips until clumpy.

Start by spooning about half the mixture in the center of a loose-bottomed tart dish or tin. Using the back of a large metal spoon and your fingers, press down firmly and evenly. Gradually add more mixture as needed to line the base and sides of the pan. Any leftover mixture can be frozen and crumbled over softened ice cream).

Refrigerate the lined pan for at least 1 hour, or overnight if convenient. Whisk together the mascarpone, cream and vanilla, sweeten to your liking with the powdered sugar, and refrigerate until needed. Shortly before serving your meal, spread the mascarpone cream over the chilled tart and return to the refrigerator.

Just before serving, lift the tart carefully out of the pan, and place on a serving dish. Heap the raspberries on top, sprinkle with chopped mint leaves and either dust with more icing sugar if you like, OR use a pastry brush (or a crumpled-up paper towel) to coat the fruit with the raspberry glaze.

Ricotta Pancakes with Warm Blueberry Compote
(adapted from A Taste of Italy)

1/2 lb ricotta cheese

1/2 cup flour
1teaspoon sugar
pinch salt
2/3 cup milk
3 eggs, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg yolks with ricotta and vanilla.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Beat egg whites until stiff.  Fold whites into ricotta mixture.  Heat griddle until drop of water sizzles.  Cook as regular pancakes.

Blueberry Compote
(adapted from Noble Pig)

11/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2-1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and cornstarch, then set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, water and salt.  Bring mixture to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a simmer and stir in lemon juice-cornstarch mixture.  Simmer, stirring, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes more.  Cover and set aside.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Penne Alla Primavera...My Submission for Presto Pasta Nights

Here's another good one from Mario Batali's new cookbook: Molto Gusto.  We made this early in the week for dinner and just loved it.  Loaded with fresh vegetables and relatively easy to make this was a perfect weeknight meal for us.  

I'm sending this over to Janet of The Taste Space to be included in this weeks' Presto Pasta Nights roundup.  Don't forget to check Janet's blog on Friday; there's sure to be some great pasta dishes.

Penne alla Primavera
adapted from Molto Gusto by: Mario Batali

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
2 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced 1/2-inch thick 
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced 
8 ounces asparagus, stalks sliced 1/2-inch thick on a bias, tips reserved separately
1 cup frozen peas, thawed 
4 scallions, white part only, thinly sliced 
Maldon or other flaky sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper 
1 pound penne rigate 
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley 
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil 
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint 
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until barely golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the carrots, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.

Add the sliced asparagus and cook for 2 minutes, then add the asparagus tips, peas, and scallions season well with salt and pepper. Cook stirring, until all the vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. 

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in another large pot. Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until just al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the water. 

Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the vegetables, stirring and tossing over medium heat to mix well. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and allow to steam together for 2 minutes.

Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and a splash or two more of the reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce, then stir in the herbs and serve immediately, with grated Parmigiano on the side.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some News...

I've been asked by the people at to become a preferred blogger.  What does this mean exactly:  Just that I will be working with CSN doing product reviews and giveaways.  I see this as a win win situation for all of us.  CSN gets some well deserved recognition for selling things like dinnerware sets and housewares; I get to review some cool new products and my readers (that's you) get the chance to win during the giveaways. 

So don't hesitate; stop on over to and take a look around.  If you see something you'd like me to review (under $80) let me know.  I'm open to suggestions. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Two New Appetizers

For some reason I have a hard time coming up with interesting ideas for appetizers.  More often than not if guests offer to bring something to my house I will tell them bring an appetizer.  I think I focus so much on dinner and dessert that by the time I get around to the appetizers I'm spent.

So last weekend my husband and I decided to do an entire meal of just appetizers.  It was a lot of fun and really allowed me to focus my attention on this part of the meal. We made several recipes; all from Mario Batali's new book Molto Gusto.  Comprised of mostly small plate meals this book was perfect.

My two favorites of the night were the: Hot & Cold Summer Squash and Chickpeas with Leaks.  We served both bruschetta style.

Hot &Cold Summer Squash
(adapted from Molto Gusto)

5 Tbls olive oil
3 garlic cloves smashed
2 lbs zucchini or yellow squash sliced into 1/3 inch thick rounds (we cut the rounds in 1/2)
1/2 cup minced parsley
sea salt
2 Tbls grated orange zest
2-3 tsp hot pepper flakes
3/4 cup Pomi strained tomatoes, simmered until reduced by 1/2

Heat a 12 inch saute pan over medium heat until hot.  Add 2 tbls of oil then the garlic and saute for 1 minute or until golden brown.  Add 1/2 the zucchini and 1/2 the parsley, season with salt and saute until softened but not browned about 7 minutes.  Stir in 1 Tbls of the zest and 1/2 the pepper flakes. Transfer to a large bowl.  Proceed with the second batch.  When finished add to the first batch. 

Add the tomato sauce tot he zucchini and mix gently.  Add the remaining oil and mix gently.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes or up to an hour before serving.   (serve chilled or at room temperature)

Chickpeas with Leeks
(adapted from Molto Gusto)

2 cans chickpeas (15 ounces each) rinsed and drained
1 cup Leek Ragu (recipe below)
1/2 cup olive oil
sea salt
1-2 tsps red pepper flakes

Combine the chickpeas and leeks in a large bowl.  Add the oil and salt and red pepper to taste. Toss vigorously to combine.  (best served at room temperature)

Leek Ragu
(adapted from Molto Gusto)

1/4 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves coarsley chopped
1 lb leeks trimmed and cut into 1/2 in thick slices
sea salt
black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.  Add the leeks season with salt and pepper and cook until softened but not browned about 8-10 minutes.  Add 1/3 cup water, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook gently until leeks are soft about 15 minutes.  If necessary raise heat to cook of the rest of the liquid.  Taste the leeks and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Affair with Nutella...An Update

About 7 months ago I came clean and shared with you the details of my illicit affair. Since that time our relationship has continued to grow and get stronger. Then one day I was perusing the NYT and there in the food section was an article that made me doubt my love for Nutella.

His name was Nocciolata and they described him as being very similar to Nutella but a bit more saucy. It was at that moment that I knew my affair with Nutella could be in jeopardy. I needed to get my hands on Nocciolata and then only time or taste would tell.

After some inquiring I was able to get a sample of Nocciolata from Rigoni di Asiago. When he arrived at my front door I was taken aback by how thin he was compared to my beloved Nutella. Not that thin is bad or anything but I’ve always had a weakness for men a bit thick in the middle. Anyway, being the smooth operator that he is I was easily talked into enjoying Nocciolata in ways I’ve never tried with Nutella…ways involving ice cream and strawberries. (see below)

Knowing Nocciolata was au naturale/organic made it easy to indulge in him for several days before I realized I missed Nutella. It’s not that Nutella is better…as they are both equally as good…just different…and there is definitely something to be said for the bond created in a long standing relationship.

I’m not proud of all. But I am kind of glad I strayed from Nutella as it has made me want him even more.

Strawberry Ice Cream with Chocolate Hazelnut Swirl

1 cup unsweetened thawed, frozen strawberries
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread

Pulse strawberries in a food proccesor until they are small pieces.
Combine evaporated milk, strawberries with their juice, sugar, lemon juice and salt in large bowl. Pour into ice cream machine container. Follow manufacturer’s instruction for preparation.
Add chocolate hazelnut spread to the machine during the last 30 seconnds.  Just enough to swirl it in.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Foodie Family Vacation....Vegas

Two weeks ago, in honor or our birthdays (my husband and I both had one in June) the “kids” (my mom and uncle) decided to treat us to a weekend in Vegas. The only issue…they were coming with us.

As I’ve mentioned in the past it’s always an adventure going anywhere with the “kids”…well this time it was even worse. We flew…and for some reason, the “kids” don’t normally fly. I have no idea why…but after this trip I won’t question it any more. For everyone’s sake; the check in clerk, the TSA agent, and even the stewardess (who had to promise them cookies if they were quiet through the flight), it’s probably better they don’t.

Weeks before we even left I started getting emails with pictures of suitcases..."do you think these suitcases will work?"  For two people that don't travel much, they sure have a lot of suitcases to choose from.

Let me tell you it wasn’t fun going through airport security with these two. A million questions were asked…actually it was more like the same question asked a million different ways… “by no liquids allowed do they mean…” Yes, there were times (several) that I pretended not to know who they were. Like when my mother was randomly selected to be searched…that poor guard didn’t know what he was in for when he picked her.
All that aside we did have a great time and some great food. Here are some of our dining highlights:

Mixed Appetizers at Enoteca San Marco in the Venetian.

The Veal chop at CafĂ© Mortorano’s in the Rio.

Margherita pizza also at Enoteca San Marco.

We also had two of the most amazing salads ever at B&B in the Venetian (unfortunately I don’t have pictures): baby greens topped with fresh porcini mushrooms and shaved parmesan cheese. And a cucumber salad topped with pork belly in a lemon garlic vinaigrette. Both were like heaven on a plate.

My mother claims she’s ready to fly again…but I’m just not sure the world is.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Whole Foods Gift Card Winner...

The winner of the Whole Foods gift card is:

True Random Number Generator

7   Brandi. 

Please email me directly with your contact information. 

Thanks again to everyone that participated.