Sunday, August 25, 2019

Giada's Fusilli with Fresh Pomodoro

My friend Carol gave me some lovely homegrown tomatoes from her garden and I knew I wanted to make something special with them. At first I was tempted to make my very favorite tomato sauce on the planet, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Roasted Tomato Sauce, but I'm all about trying new things lately and Giada's Fusilli with Fresh Pomodoro really caught my eye.

I loved the idea of grating tomatoes to make a fresh sauce and let's face it, the sauce has two cheeses (fresh ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano) so, I was pretty much sold. Plus, can we talk about these long twirly fusilli noodles? They are so fun!

This is the perfect summer recipe for those ripe juicy summer tomatoes that are everywhere right now. It's one of those dishes that strikes just the right balance, satisfying and creamy from the cheeses, yet light and fresh from the tomatoes. Plus, the fusilli pasta is light and bouncy and just plain fun to eat. My daughter raved about it and I even caught her hiding the leftovers!

Fusilli with Fresh Pomodoro
Adapted from Giada In Italy
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 6

1 pound fusilli
1-1/2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes (about 4 large tomatoes)
1/4 cup oliveoil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
3 fresh basil sprigs
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta, plus more for serving
1-1/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook 2 minutes less than the package directions, about 8 minutes (mine cooked about 13 and was still very al dente). Drain well, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the flesh of the tomatoes until you are left with just the skin. Heat a large straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the grated tomatoes, the whole basil sprigs, and about a teaspoon of salt to the hot oil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the garlic and basil sprigs, and stir in the ricotta. Add the pasta, followed by the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir to combine and coat everything in the sauce.

Cook for another 2 minutes to finish cooking the pasta and thicken the sauce slightly, adding some of the reserved pasta water if it looks dry. Stir in the chopped basil and serve topped with additional ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Shrimp Tacos with Crispy Garlic and Salsa Mexicana

These Shrimp Tacos with Crispy Garlic and Salsa Mexicana are the perfect refreshing meal on a hot summer day! Simple and easy to make, these tacos come together in no time at all.

First, we're going to make a quick salsa using ripe garden fresh tomatoes, serrano pepper, garlic, green onion, cilantro, and lime juice. The salsa is fresh and delicious, even more so when the flavors have some time to meld together. Now let's cook the shrimp! We're talking big flavors here!

You can't cook shrimp without lots of butter and garlic and this recipe doesn't disappoint. It starts with butter and three large cloves of garlic. Next comes 2-3 thinly sliced serrano peppers. We are packing some heat here, folks! If you can't take the heat, then you might want to cut it down to one serrano, or maybe even half a serrano. Toss the shrimp in and within minutes you will be sitting down to enjoy the perfect summertime meal!

Shrimp Tacos with Crispy Garlic and Salsa Mexicana
Adapted from Rick Bayless Website
Serves 4-6

2-3 fresh serrano chiles stemmed, seeded, and cut into long slices
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2/3 cup chicken broth
 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
vegetable oil
12 fresh corn tortillas
4 ounces (1 cup) shredded Mexican melting cheese*

Note: I elected not to use the cheese.

Salsa Mexicana
1 small garlic clove, peeled
fresh hot green chiles to taste, 1 or 2 serrano
1 medium-large round red, ripe tomato (1/2 pound total)
1/4 cup loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro
1 small green onion, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
salt, to taste

Heat the butter in the skillet over medium heat, add the garlic and stir for a minute. Stir in the chile strips, black pepper, and broth. Raise the temperature to medium-high and boil until the mixture has reduced to just a few tablespoons and is noticeably thicker, about 8 minutes. 

Add the shrimp and stir until the pieces are nearly cooked through about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, taste and season with salt, usually 1/2 teaspoon. 

Lightly oil the tortillas, lay them by pairs on a griddle or skillet over medium heat, flipping to warm through. Top each pair with a portion of the cheese (if using) and let melt, then top with a hefty amount of the filing and serve.

For the Salsa Mexicana: Drop the garlic and chile pieces one at a time into a running food processor, letting each get finely chopped before adding the next. Cut half the tomato into quarters and add it to the food processor, along with cilantro. Pulse 4 to 6 times until you have a coarse puree. Scrape the mixture into a bowl. Cut the other half of the tomato into 1/4" pieces and add to the bowl along with the green onion. Taste and season with lime juice and salt. This salsa is best if eaten with an hour or two but it will keep for a number of hours in the refrigerator.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Giada's Lemon White Pizza

So, white pizza has always been a favorite of mine. I don't like lots of pizza sauce on my pizza. In fact,  I'll just go ahead and admit that I don't even really like pizza sauce on my pizza. There, I said it. Feel free to call me crazy.

I'm just there for the cheese. And the crust. Giada's Lemon White Pizza reminds me of Italy and all the lemons on the Amalfi Coast. There is nowhere I'd rather visit than the Amalfi Coast. It's number one on my list of travel destinations. Maybe one day.

In the meantime, I'm getting my lemons from the Kroger here in Georgetown, KY. It's not the same, but I have a good imagination. I bought the best ricotta I could find, some fresh mozzarella pearls, and some fabulous Parmigiana-Reggiano. We have a Murray's cheese shop inside my Kroger so I am able to get my hands on some quality cheese.

The pizza comes together quickly. Warm the dough and let it rise. Roll it out on the backside of a large baking sheet.  Mix the ricotta, lemon zest, salt, and oregano. Spread it all over the pizza crust. Top with fresh mozzarella. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Top with a drizzle of olive oil (I say so), Parmigiano-Reggiano, red pepper flakes, and torn basil. Give it a squeeze of lemon if you really wanna get wild. Take a bite and close your eyes...

The pizza is light and delicious. There is a hint of lemon and the blend of three cheeses makes it so creamy. The fresh basil really adds a touch of freshness. Keep your eyes closed. It's summertime in Amalfi and there are good looking Italian men everywhere. You can hear their accents, you can feel the breeze, you can smell the sea. You have a delicious slice of pizza in one hand and a glass of Limoncello in the other. It is paradise.

Lemon White Pizza
Adapted from Giada's Italy
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

1 (16-ounce) ball of store-bought pizza dough
1 cup whole milk ricotta
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Place the pizza dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and allow it to rest in a warm place for 1 hour.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450F.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, lemon zest, salt, and oregano. Set aside.

Using a touch of flour to prevent sticking, stretch out the pizza dough to an 11 x 6" inch oval. Turn a rimmed baking sheet upside down and drizzle with the olive oil. Place the dough on the baking sheet. spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Divide the mozzarella evenly over the ricotta.

Place the pizza on the lowest rack in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pizza to the upper rack and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Remove the pizza to a rack and sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano, basil, and red pepper flakes. Cut into pieces and serve. 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Ina Garten's Plum Tart

When I think of Ina Garten I think of two things. Number one: she cooks a lot of chicken for Jeffrey (she is definitely the Queen of Chicken).  Number two: she makes a lot of desserts with plums.

Plums are definitely underrated so you tend to notice when someone makes a lot of plum tarts and plum cakes and plum jam, like Ina does. The world should listen to Ina because the woman definitely knows good food and can be relied upon. So, PLUM DESSERTS for everyone! Really, people. Plums are both sweet and tart and they make some fabulous desserts. Please jump on the plum train while they're in season. You'll be so happy you did!

This plum tart is dead simple! It's so easy a little kid could make it. So you really have no reason not to give it a try. The crust doesn't require any rolling or any fussing about whatsoever. In fact, the crust is more of a crumble that is just pushed into a tart pan. Then you just cut the plums and place them on top before covering it with more of the crust which serves as a "crumble topping." It could not be any more simple!

Now, I am absolutely crazy for a crust loaded with brown sugar and chopped walnuts and this recipe definitely hits the mark on that. The plums and the walnuts pair wonderfully together. I also love a fruit dessert with a heavy hand of crumble on top and this recipe does not disappoint! In fact, this recipe may very well have more crumble topping than any other! Serve this alone or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it will receive rave reviews!

Plum Tart
Adapted from Food Network
by Ina Garten
Serves 6-8

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
12 tablespoons cold butter (1-1/2 sticks), diced
1 egg yolk
2 pounds firm, ripe plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise (about 6 medium)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly. 

Press 1-12 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9-1/2 inch springform or tart pan. Arrange the plums in the pan, skin side down, to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.

Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums. Bake the tart for 40-50 minutes, or until it's lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.