Thursday, April 13, 2017

4-13-17 Out of the park!

4-13-17   Out of the park!

Sometimes you hit a home run when you least expect it, which is what happened tonight.  This morning I saw a post on Facebook for Penne pasta with spinach and sundried tomatoes, and that set the wheels spinning.  I like cooking with sundried tomatoes in oil – spinach not so much.  As the day wore on a recipe evolved in my head:

Pasta with chicken, asparagus, and sundried tomatoes in a cream sauce


1.     Pappardelle
2.     Asparagus
3.     Chicken tenders – marinated for 30 minutes
4.     Sundried tomatoes in olive oil – 4 or 5 coarsely chopped
5.     Shallots – one thinly slice
6.     Garlic
7.     Basil – fresh (I used frozen cubes from last summer’s garden.)
8.     Celery
9.     Sweet Vermouth
10. Red pepper flakes
11. Heavy whipping cream

For the Marinade:
1.     Finely chopped garlic
2.     Fresh basil finely chopped
3.     Salt and pepper
4.     Oregano
5.     Dry white wine
6.     Balsamic vinegar glaze

Salt and pepper the chicken and place in a small bowl.  Coat with olive oil, Balsamic vinegar glaze, and wine.  Add the garlic, basil, and oregano and mix well.  Cover and place in refrigerator for about 30 mins.

When ready, brown the chicken in olive oil over high heat, remove, and set aside.  Save the marinade.

Cook the Shallots, garlic, and celery in olive oil until soft.  Add red pepper flakes and the tomatoes and cook for 5-10 minutes.  Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the pan, along with the marinade and a splash of wine and cook over low heat.  About 5 minutes before the pasta is ready add the heavy whipping cream, stirring frequently.

Add the past to the pan and mix well.


Patience gave this a 25 on a scale of 1-10.  Enough said.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017



My first thought was to try creating an Italian – Mexican fusion, combining some of popular flavors of each cuisine.  But Patience encouraged me to think carefully about what I wanted to do.  I wanted the main component to be Italian sausage, mushrooms, and onions sautéed together with garlic and basil, classic Italian spices and herbs.  This would be wrapped in a flour enchilada and baked in the oven with an enchilada sauce.  However after the sausage-mushroom enchiladas were prepared I decided to  replace the enchilada sauce with diced tomatoes with garlic and basil, creating my own version of a Mexican Manicotti, or an Italian Enchilada.

Whatever the name, it was delicious.


1.     Italian sweet sausage, casings removed
2.     White mushrooms, sliced
3.     Onion, chopped
4.     Olive oil
5.     Garlic and fresh basil
6.     Sweet Vermouth or dry red wine
7.     Diced tomatoes
8.     Flour tortilla
9.     Grana Padana cheese


In olive oil over medium high heat cook the sausage, mushrooms, and onions, with the herbs and garlic, stirring frequently until the mushrooms begin to brown.  Add the wine and continue cooking until the wine is cooked off.

Mix the diced tomatoes with salt, pepper, basil, and olive oil.  Add ½ of the tomatoes to a 9x11 baking dish.  Fold the sausage mixture in the tortillas and place in the baking dish.  Cover with the remaining tomatoes and a generous sprinkling of cheese and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes.


Patience loved this, and that is all that matters.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Last Minute Pasta for One

Fusilli longhi with assorted tomato sauce

Patience is out, and I was faced with a choice: a Tuna salad sandwich, or pasta for one with a hodgepodge sauce.  After a careful 3 seconds of consideration I chose the pasta.  For today's lunch I made  bruschetta with some Del Monte diced tomatoes and thought what remained could be the basis of good and quick ssuce.  I checked the pantry for some left over uncooked pasta that always seemed to accumulate, and found the perfect amount of long fussilli, a little less than 1/4 lb..

1. Diced tomatoes
2. Pasta
3. Olive oil
4. garlic, chopped onion and celery
5. Basil, Oregano
6. Kalamata olives  chopped
7. Red pepper flakes
8. Sweet Vermouth or dry white wine
9. Padana Grana cheese for grating

Prepare the Sophritto in olive oil - onion, celery, and garlic, then add the tomatoes and cook over low heat.  Add the tomatoes, herbs, seasoning, and cook while waiting for the pasta to cook.  About 5-10 minutes later add the olives and the wine.  Toss well with the pasta and serve with Gran Padana and red wine of choice.

Note - the timing of adding the various ingredients to the sauce is purely arbitrary and when I'm cooking it varies every time, as does the amount.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Pasta with Asparagus-Ricotta cheese sauce

2-16-17   Pasta with Asparagus-Ricotta cheese sauce

The red color of the pasta is the result of cooking it in the same water I used to cook beets just moments earlier.


1.     Shaped pasta
2.     Asparagus cut into 1” pieces
3.     Olive oil
4.     Shallots and garlic
5.     Chicken broth – about 1/3 cup
6.     Ricotta Cheese – about ½ cup
7.     Fresh lemon juice
8.     Fresh Cilantro chopped


Cook the shallots in olive oil until soft, and then add the asparagus and garlic followed by the broth.  After several minutes add the Ricotta cheese and mix thoroughly into the other ingredients.  Add the cilantro and some lemon juice and reduce to low heat.  When the pasta is ready, add it to the pan with the sauce, mix well and serve with a cilantro garnish.


The combo of cilantro, ricotta, and lemon makes this a winner.  I don’t know how much the “beet water” contributed.  Next time I’ll make it cooking the pasta in plain water to see if there is a difference.

Friday, December 9, 2016

12-8-16 Gnocchi w mushrooms, asparagus, & sundried tomatoes in cream sauce

Dinner tonight would be Risotto with mushrooms and asparagus.  With a glass of chilled, crisp Pinot Grigio at my side, and music from my iphone filling the kitchen, I began working.  I began by preparing and cooking the vegetables before turning my attention to the rice.  Once they were “settled down” in the skillet and quietly cooking I looked in the pantry, and to my dismay there was no risotto.  There was Jasmine rice, wild rice, brown rice, couscous, barley, and some mystery stuff, but no Risotto.  Now at this point, a lesser man than me would have panicked, but the tiger in me took over, after several minutes of wailing and cursing I calmed down and went to plan B.  The vegetables would be transformed into a red creamy sauce, and gnocchi would replace the Risotto.



1.     Gnocchi
2.     Mushrooms- sliced
3.     Asparagus
4.     Leeks – thinly sliced crosswise
5.     Olive oil
6.     Garlic
7.     Oregano
8.     Basil
9.     Sweet Vermouth
10. Sundried Tomatoes – chopped
11. Tomato paste – about 1 tablespoon
12. Heavy Whipping cream – about ½ cup
13. Parmigiano cheese for grating


Cook the leeks in the olive oil until soft, then add the mushrooms, tomatoes, and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring frequently.  After several minutes add the  Asparagus, spices, tomato paste, and wine.  Continue on high heat, until the mushrooms begin to brown, then reduce to low heat.  Add the cream to the sauce about 5 minutes before adding the gnocchi to the boiling water.


Sometimes I think one could serve cardboard with heavy whipping cream and it would be delicious.  In this case the gnocchi did just as well.  It is one of those meal I want to share with others.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

11-29-16 Penne with Zucchini, leeks, and sundried tomatoes

After 4 days of turkey and stuffing, as good as it was I needed some pasta.  But saying I want pasta is like saying I want beef, or vegetables.  There are so many ways they can be prepared.  My first thought was to use some of the porch tomatoes for a sauce, but Patience requested I use them in a salad, which I was happy to do.  There was nothing in the kitchen that inspired me, and since I was planning on a trip to Midtown Market for some Provolone and Mortadella I thought I’d see what I could find there.  And BINGO, as soon as I saw the Leeks in the produce section I knew what I would do, and I did it.


1.     Penne pasta
2.     Zucchini sliced crosswise
3.     Leeks sliced crosswise
4.     Sun dried tomatoes in olive oil coarsely chopped
5.     Olive oil
6.     Garlic 11or 2 cloves crushed
7.     Fresh Dill
8.     Celery
9.     Chicken broth
10. Sweet Vermouth
11. Parmigiano cheese


Cook the Leeks and celery in olive oil over medium heat until soft.  Add the zucchini and garlic and cook over high heat until the zucchini is browned on both sides, stirring frequently to prevent burning.  About half way through this I added about ¼ cup of chicken broth and ¼ cup of Sweet Vermouth.  Continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add some finely chopped fresh dill.  When the pasta is ready add it to the pan with the “sauce”.  Add some pasta water if it is too dry.


What a sweet dish, literally.  The sundried tomatoes and the sweet vermouth gave it a distinct, and savory flavor.  It was fun to cook, and more fun to eat.

And the tomato salad?


Sunday, November 20, 2016

11-19-16 Front Porch tomatoes and Angel Hair Pasta

The promise of an overnight freeze led Patience and me to pick every ripe and almost ripe tomato from our porch garden, along with all the basil, dill, and parsley.  Looking at a large bowl overflowing with cherry and grape tomatoes it was clear to   me what had to be done.  And it was surprisingly simple.



1.     Cherry tomatoes – whole
2.     Olive oil
3.     Garlic – 1 clove crushed or minced
4.     Onion – ½ medium onion chopped
5.     Celery  - about ½ stalk chopped
6.     Fresh Basil
7.     Heavy whipping cream – not much, about ¼ cup or less
8.     Angel Hair pasta


Cook the onion in olive oil for 1-2 minutes then add the garlic and celery and cook for several more minutes until soft.  Add the tomatoes and basil and cook over medium high heat until they begin to break down – about 8-10 minutes.  A few minutes before the pasta is ready reduce the heat and add the cream.  When the pasta is ready drain and add to the pan, mix well and serve with grated cheese and garnish with fresh dill.    Add some pasta water if needed.


In spite of my abundance of humility I have to say this was delicious and I look forward to serving it again.  Of course Patience agrees with me.