Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ring out the old..Happy New Year!

Throughout the world, at the stroke of midnight on January 1st, bells will toll, loved ones kiss, champagne flows, Auld Lang Syne is sung, and another year is laid to rest as the New Year is embraced.

So, ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow. Wishing you all a happy & healthy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Roasted Butternut & Sage Orrichette

Years ago I snipped a recipe out of Cooking Light magazine and came across it again just recently. I’ve adapted it a bit to our taste. It’s very simple to prepare and even if you’re one of those non-squash eaters out there, this just may change your mind! I prefer to use butternut, but acorn squash or pumpkin works equally as well. The addition of roasted tomatoes to the sage roasted squash just rounds out this dish beautifully. If you missed the post on how I roast my summer tomatoes, you can find it here.
Any pasta will work with this, ditilani, cavatelli, or small shells, if it’s kept to similar size of your squash cuts. We simply enjoy orrichette.

Sage Roasted Squash

1/4 tsp sea salt, divided
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
few sprigs of fresh thyme, diced
4 sage leaves, chopped
olive oil
1 medium sized butternut squash, halved & seeded
3 cups (1-inch) cubes pre-roasted and peeled butternut squash
2 fennel & cheese sausages, casings removed *opt or try some diced prosciutto
1 cup shallots, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
½ cup roasted plum tomatoes ( that you hopefully have in your freezer from the summer garden)
10 oz orrichette or pasta of choice
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup provolone cheese, grated
1/3 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 425°.

Roasting Squash

Combine sea salt, rosemary, thyme and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over inner side of butternut squash. Sprinkle with salt/herb mixture. Place squash on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until just tender and lightly browned. Once cool enough to work with, cut squash into bite sized pieces & set aside.

Cook the sausage filling in a large skillet over medium heat until lightly browned.. Remove sausage from pan, reserving 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Increase heat to medium-high. Add shallots and garlic to pan; sauté until tender. Combine squash mixture, sausage mixture, roasted plum tomatoes, shallots & garlic and set aside.
Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt.. Drain well.
In a large skillet combine 1 tsp olive oil, flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt over medium-high heat Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a gentle boil. Cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add provolone, stirring until cheese melts.

Add pasta, sausage, shallots, garlic, roasted tomatoes and top with cubed squash to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lobster Fra Diavolo

Another day of shoveling, last minute shopping and more shoveling. Who ordered all this white stuff anyway? Come in from shoveling and bitter cold and warm your souls with some Lobster Fra Diavlo…. Fresh lobster, jumbo shrimp and scallops sautéed with shallots and garlic in a spicy and very flavorful marinara sauce. Served over linguine, and shared with good friends, it’s fabulous!

One of my favorite seasonal dishes served very hot or to your taste. I’ll guarantee you’ll thaw out in no time. Serve with a nice dry red, and be merry.

2 fresh (1 ½ #) lobsters
3 oz olive oil
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 medium shallots, minced
2lb cooked shrimp
½ lb fresh scallops, diced
1 TBL fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 TBL Italian parsley, chopped
¼ tsp white pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes – start with ½ tsp if the heat is too much for you :)
2 tsp tobasco sauce
4 cups marinara sauce
½ cup dry red wine
1 lb linguine

·Boil lobsters, cool & pick all the lobster meat from tail, body and claws. Set aside
·In a skillet, heat olive oil, garlic & shallots briefly
·Add lobster meat, diced scallops, herbs and spices. Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.
·Add marinara sauce, red wine & cooked shrimp. Bring to just a boil, then lower heat and let simmer 5-8 minutes.

·Serve over warm linguine & toss well. Enjoy!

When I came in from scurrying around in the snow doing last minute shopping, I found a delicious surprise waiting for me under the Christmas tree. Yes Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus! What great friends we have. Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

For the Chocoholics in all of us

You can begin your diet next year. Here’s a favorite family chocolate delight that’s sure to be a hit on any dessert table.
These are not like any brownie you’ve ever eaten. They are rich, calorie packed masterpieces and nothing can take their place. They are best served directly out of the refrigerator. I wrap these separately in candy foils. Be sure to grab a few and hide them away just for when that chocolate craving strikes your fancy! Happy holidays.

3 1/2 TBLS cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
10 TBLS butter
3 TBLS corn oil
5 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups ++plus 2 TBLS light brown sugar
3 eggs ++plus 1 egg yolk
6 TBLS (3 fluid oz) B & B Cognac Liqueur


9 oz semisweet chocolate
6 fluid oz corn oil
1/2 oz ( 1 TBLS) B & B Cognac Liqueur

Butter and flour well 9 inch pan. Sift together cocoa, flour, salt and cinnamon. Melt butter, corn oil and chocolate over a double boiler. Place melted chocolate mixture in a mixing bowl. Aloow to cool 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and beat well. Add eggs in slowly. Add B & B Liqueur. Slowly add dry ingredients, mixing well until incorporated.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes. Do not overcook.


Melt chocolate, corn oil and B & B Liqueur over a double boiler.
Allow brownies to cool thoroughly and cut into shapes, or 1 inch squares. Place brownies on cake racks over a sheet pan to catch drippings. Pour warm glaze to coat each brownie. Chill until glaze sets. Save all the excess drippings if desired.. (great over vanilla bean ice cream!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Seven Fishes Feast - Baked Zucchini and Shrimp

Twas the night before..

As you probably can imagine, living in New England has it’s plus’s as well as pitfalls (such as most recent ice storm) but there is no denying we have the greatest selection of seafood in the country. With the holidays quickly approaching, deciding on the Christmas Eve ‘feast’ is no easy task.
Lobster, clams, shrimp, mussels, salted cod, along with abundant fish selections.
Christmas Eve is mostly a communal affair with my family—with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, godmothers friends and more family gathering in the kitchen, resulting in very large quantities of assorted seafood dishes all lovingly prepared along with the cooks’ comparing ingredient notes of their respective specialties.

I suppose it will sound a bit odd coming from a New Englander.. but my favorite seafood of all isn’t the lobster. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy lobster, but if I have to be truthful, clearly it’s shrimp for me. Baked, fried, stuffed, scampi, you name it, I’ll be the first to order it! The Christmas Eve menu in our family will include many shellfish dishes and I’d be hard pressed to skip any of them, they are all so good! My sister’s baked stuffed shrimp is always a favorite, as is my Uncle Pete’s shrimp bake. From me, they always expect to see me appear with my lobster pie. But this year in addition to my lobster dish I will be preparing a baked shrimp dish that we just love. I really enjoy the simplicity of this dish and ease of preparation that I make typically in trays, as it disappears pretty fast off the serving table, but for this post I made it in individual ramekins as I’ll be making 3 trays of this in ten short days. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does and don’t feel you need to wait until Christmas Eve to make this one.. it’s yummy any time of the year :o)

This dish was a favorite of my Dads’ and why I will be submitting my Baked Zucchini and Shrimp to my friends, Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita and Joe of Italyville who are jointly hosting a virtual Seven Fishes Feast, the traditional Christmas Eve feast celebrated by many Italian families. They’ll be giving away a fabulous basket full of goodies too! For the details of this fun event, CLICK here. Thanks for hosting this wonderful event Maryann & Joe. I just can’t wait! Buon natale!

3-4 small zucchini
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup crumbled stale crusty bread
3 TBLS grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, thyme, rosemary, summer savory and mint diced together
½ tsp tobasco sauce
pinch of hot pepper flakes
thoroughly cleaned shrimp ( for two individual ramekins I used 8 jumbo shrimp, divided. Use a lot more when making this by the tray)
Sea salt & ground pepper
lemon wedges

·Preheat oven to 425 degrees

·With a mandolin or sharp knife, thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise. Finely
chop the herbs if you haven’t already and mix together with the crushed
breadcrumbs. Add Parmesan cheese, tobasco and pepper flakes tothe bread crumb

·Brush ramekins or other individual ovenproof dishes with some of the olive oil.
Place a layer of the sliced zucchini on the bottom and sprinkle with bread crumb
mixture. Arrange 4 shrimp on top of each, sprinkle a bit more of the bread crumb
mix over them. Add only a bit of sea salt & ground pepper and lightly drizzle
olive oil over the crumbs. Cover with next layer of zucchini slices and remaining
bread crumbs. Drizzle again lightly with olive oil and a bit of salt. Cover
ramekins with foil. Pop into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cooking time
will vary with ovens and whether or not you use fresh shrimp or precooked/frozen
/thawed shrimp. Just lightly brown crumb topping. Either are equally good. Serve
hot along with a bowl of sliced lemon wedges. Happy holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chicken Fennel & Rice Soup for the soul

My name is Jady and I am a recipe addict! Or I should say.. was.

A few months ago, after a recent move I made the decision that it was time to sell a rather large cookbook collection I've had for over 25 years. Why was I saving recipes from twenty five years ago? Cooking styles have surely changed over these years that more than half of the bookmarked recipes were for things I would never make any more. I was thrilled to find a wonderful cookbook dealer who assured me, my library of 900 treasured books would all go to good homes.. Of course before I made my decision I had to go through them all one more time because there was one favorite recipe that I couldn’t be without. Enough already! Admittedly, this is how a recipe addict thinks, but in addition to my favorite recipes I got into the habit years ago, of sticking family recipes into my books as well, along with family pictures that were very special to me. They just brought an instant smile or warm remembrance of a special event that called for a certain recipe, whenever I reached for my books.

My daughter came to visit in the midst of all this madness and suggested that I put my favorite recipes on to the computer, but I couldn't even begin to fathom the length of time that would take, and what if I forgot to do backups? Well it ended up taking me 3 weeks to go through each & every book, sort the keepers and separate the ones I would part with.

Yes, I still have a very nice collection, but now actually manageable, and space in my new kitchen. I've been slowly putting some of them into computer files.. but it's just not the same for me. I actually prefer having a book with my hand scribbled marginal notes from years ago in it.. There definitely are memories connected with them and as I gazed at my faded writing and that smudge of cinnamon and butter encrusted on the pages, I’m transported back to that time years ago when I baked my first apple pie for my own daughters during the holidays. And yes, what about all those hand written recipe cards with recipes from my mom’s collection, my Nonna's recipes brought from Naples? Uncle Pete's famous lobster pie recipe? Auntie Ella's arancine or baccala salad. I’ll always hang on to those. Whenever I make Ma's delicious apple pie I get out that recipe card, even though I know it like the back of my hand. My newest cookbook, a birthday gift from my daughter, Top Chef-The Cookbook, with an inscription.. ‘this will just be a start to your new collection of cookbooks :) Bon Appetit’. So whether old or new, collecting cookbooks and recipes will always remain in this addicts life!
A fabulous read you may find here by Marcella Hazen I read on fellow bloggers site,Andy's Diner clearly hits home.. I too am my familys cook, and darn proud of it!

I started this post with the intention of sharing a favorite soup recipe ”Chicken, Fennel & Rice' but obviously my thoughts went off in a different direction. Let’s just blame it on the flu I have been fighting for the past week! Because of this, very little cooking has been done here, but it’s given me the chance to thumb through my recipe boxes and to make one of my favorite soups when feeling a bit under the weather. This is a soup that won’t just let you stop with one bowl. A rich flavorful broth, with a hint of anise from the fennel.. and rice for body.

¾ cup chopped fresh fennel
½ cup diced onions
¼ cup celery, diced
½ cup washed & sliced leeks
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ diced red or orange bell pepper
½ diced green pepper
½ cup dry white wine
2 TBLS Sambucca
8 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
½ tsp ground anise seed
fresh thyme leaves
a splash of tobasco sauce
sea salt & lots of ground pepper
a cup of chicken, cooked and diced or fennel & garlic sausage (casings removed)
1 cup rice

Saute fresh fennel, onion, celery and leeks (and chicken sausage if using) in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add garlic, red and green peppers, wine and Sambucca. Simmer for 5 minutes.. then add chicken stock, ground anise seed, sea salt & ground pepper. Bring it all to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the rice, cooked chicken and simmer another 20 minutes. Serve very warm with lots of crusty bread. Just what the doctor ordered! Enjoy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Celebrating the Season- Chocolate Pizzelles

I thought it might be nice to share how we celebrate a part of this season..

Part of our holiday season will begin this weekend.. our town has a 'Tree Lighting' ceremony. Though we haven't had any snow yet, but a few flurries.. thank gawd!! :o) It's very hometown.. everyone comes out for it... Santa will arrive...carols will be sung.. candles will be lit that everyone will carry..& of course the tree lighting will take place... and in our church, the sound of the lovely bellringers perform their magic.. and later a potluck dinner & Xmas cookies for all! Here's a shot of of last years tree in our village. How do you celebrate this season?

I've been busy baking cookies.. 20 or so of us bake assorted Xmas cookies and make up trays upon trays that we will deliver to over 200 elders, & shut-ins this year. It's a very special project for me.

I'll try and get a few of these recipes up in the coming days. But one cookie that will always be made each holiday for us are pizzelles. So in addition to my regular vanilla, anise, almond or lemon pizzelles, I wanted to try chocolate too this year. If you enjoy pizzelles as much as we do, you might like to try this one too. I think it's become my favorite flavored pizzelle yet. I didn't want it to be just another chocolate cookie, and I think the addition of cinnamon, nutmeg and orange added just that special touch. I'd be hard pressed to describe this wonderful flavored cookie but have to say my house smelled so good while baking them! And taste? Delicioso! Enjoy!

Chocolate Cinnamon Pizzelles

6 eggs
1 1/4 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
zest of one orange
2 1/4 c flour
3 TBL Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa
3 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp orange extract
XXX Confectioners' sugar as desired

Sift flour, baking powder, salt unsweetened cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder into a bowl and set aside.

Blend together eggs, oil and sugar until sugar dissolves into a creamy batter. Add orange zest and orange extract. Once mixed, slowly add the seasoned flour mixture and blend well. Drop by teaspoon onto hot griddle. Close the cover and cook 30-45 seconds..depending on your pizzelle maker. Lift each baked pizzelle gently with a light spatula onto a toweled cookie sheet. Allow to cool flat (or roll over cannoli tins to fill with ricotta cream later). Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

For a super pictoral on how to make pizzelles, pop on over to my good friend Maryann's blog Finding La Dolce Vita. Thanks for the tips on using my new pizzelle maker too Maryann :o)