Linguica and Ricotta Frittata

Linguica is something I didn’t know anything about until meeting my husband.  Coming from a small town south of Boston, he grew up on this Portuguese meat.  Whenever we are back East, no visit is complete until he has a linguica and cheese omelette at least once.  When I was at the Paulina Meat Market the other day I noticed some homemade linguica sausage in the window, I knew I couldn’t pass it up.  The day I got the sausage we had half of a link thinly sliced with cheddar cheese and bread as a pre-dinner snack.  The next morning I decided to make a breakfast frittata, as I know that I will never be able to make an omelette that compares with what the diners in New Bedford make.

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Ingredients:

– 8 eggs, beaten

– 1/4 onion, diced

– 1/2 jalapeno, diced

– 1/2 cup linguica sausage, diced

– 1 medium tomato, diced

– 1/8 cup of red wine

– 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, center stem removed.  More for garnish.

– Red pepper flakes

– Salt and pepper

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Ricotta ingredients:

-1/2 cup of ricotta cheese

– 1 pad of butter

– 1/2 tsp minced garlic

– 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin

Directions:

1. Make ricotta cheese: Sauté over medium heat in heavy skillet mushrooms and garlic in butter for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir into ricotta cheese.

2. In large oven safe heavy skillet, sauté onions and jalapeno with thyme, a dash of red pepper flakes, and salt/pepper to taste for 5 minutes.  Add red wine and cook.

3. Add linguica and sauté an additional 5 minutes before adding tomatoes.

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4. Turn heat off to skillet and spread linguica and onion mixture evenly on bottom, pour eggs into skillet.

5. Dollop ricotta cheese mixture onto eggs throughout.

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6. Cook in oven at 350 for 20 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.

2013-09-28 10.25.12Enjoy!

 

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

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On the weekends we like to make the most of our Breville Barista Express, making what we consider a latte.  We bought it as a Christmas present for ourselves last year and have not been disappointed with the purchase.  It has even turned us into bean snobs, right now we only order in beans from Brooklyn.  You can taste the difference and the grind is so much better than any bean from Starbucks.

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With a little crisp of Fall in the air I wanted to make the ever famous Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I browsed a lot of recipes online before settling with these proportions below.  I tried to make it both healthy and light in flavor as I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m drinking the uncooked filling of a pumpkin pie.

Ingredients: 

– 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened

-1 cup of coconut milk (from a can, I like Trader Joe’s light version)

– 2-3 Tbsp up to 1/4 cup Pumpkin puree (I used the Libby’s brand)

– 2 Tbsp vanilla extract

– 1/2 to 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

-1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground cloves

-a few dashes of nutmeg, freshly ground if you have it

– 2 Tbsp amber agave syrup or maple syrup, more to taste

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Directions:

1. In a small heavy sauce pan heat above ingredients (I used heaping proportions of spices and agave) without bringing to a boil for 5 minutes.  Mix well.

2. Use as a creamer in coffee, steam for a latte mixed with a shot of espresso, or pour over ice with a shot of espresso for an iced version.

3. Since the mix can be light depending on how heavy you are with proportions, you will want to add a bit to the coffee for a fuller pumpkin spice flavor.  I added half coffee and half heated creamer.  The best flavor match-up is a shot or two of espresso and a cup of the creamer, warm or over ice.

4. Garnish with pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg.

5. Store the extra in the fridge for a few days in a sealed container.

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Enjoy!

 

Tomato Cooked Chicken with Shiitake Ricotta Topping

For dinner tonight I wanted to make something that had a lot of flavor as well as used up some random vegetables and ingredients I had in the fridge.  The dish turned out even better than I thought it would, so much flavor and depth.  My husband was pretty reluctant to let me put kalamata olives in it, but it really brought the dish to a new level.  If you are really opposed to the olives, you can add some capers to enhance the flavor or skip altogether.  To serve I roasted some vegetables on the side, but it would go great over a bed of rice or roasted spaghetti squash.

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Ingredients:

– 4 chicken breasts

– 1/2 cup white wine

-2 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced

– 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced

– 1/2 onion, diced

– 1 hungarian or green pepper, diced

– 2 roma tomatoes

– 1 8oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice

– 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme, center stem removed

– 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

– 8-10 kalamata olives, sliced

– 1 cup ricotta cheese

– 10-12 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

-salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Brown the chicken breasts in a hot skillet coated with olive oil about 4 minutes on each side, remove and set aside.

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2. Add garlic, ginger, and thyme to pan and saute a few minutes, add white wine and de-glaze the skillet.  Simmer for a few minutes to cook off the wine.

3. Add onions and peppers to skillet with a 1/2 tbsp of butter and saute with red pepper flakes.

2013-09-26 19.47.464. Add diced tomatoes and can of diced tomatoes with olives, stir and simmer until heated through.

5. Place chicken back in skillet and reduce heat to low, simmer for 10 minutes flipping once.

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6. While the chicken is simmering make the ricotta topping.  Heat small cast iron skillet and saute 1 tsp minced garlic and shiitake mushrooms with a pad of butter.  Simmer for 5 minutes before removing from heat.

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7. Mix mushroom mixture with ricotta cheese and dollop on top of chicken.

8. To finish dish, put skillet in the oven on broil to heat the ricotta for a few minutes, garnish with fresh thyme.

2013-09-26 20.31.03The mushroom and ricotta cheese topping was a complete after-thought.  I wanted to put the mushrooms in the red sauce, but forgot about them.  Turns out mushrooms, garlic, butter, and cheese is delicious,  I will definitely use this again in other dishes.

Enjoy!

Wine Cooked Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potatoes

The slow cooker is not to be under rated.  Making the main dish in the slow cooker allows for time to make sides, such as a soup and dessert for a complete gourmet meal.  I have a recipe from a good friend of mine that involves baking pork chops in white wine and chicken broth, the flavor in that dish is something I really love this time of year.  I used some of the basics from that dish to make this crock pot meal.

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Ingredients:

– 2 lbs of pork tenderloin

– 4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

– 1 tsp red pepper flakes

– 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, center stem removed

– 1 Tbsp butter

– 1 sprigs fresh thyme, whole

– 3/4 cup of white wine (I used a bottle of Chardonnay, which I don’t traditionally like for drinking but it works magic in this dish)

– 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

– 1 red onion, sliced into rings

– 2-3 large sweet potatoes

– Salt and pepper to taste

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Directions:

1. In a large skillet on medium heat, melt butter.  Add garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes  stirring until fragrant.

2. Add pork tenderloin to skillet and brown on all sides.

3. Line the bottom of the crock pot with half of the onion rings, place pork with all of the pieces of garlic, thyme, and pepper flakes on top and fill in the edges of the pot with potatoes.

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4. Top with the rest of the onion and thyme sprigs and pour in the wine and broth.

5. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

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The smell of this cooking was out of this world, something about cooking with wine perhaps.  The pork did not get a chance to rest, as when I pulled it out of the pot it was falling apart, so the moisture escaped to a degree.  I also cooked it for 6 hours, I think it would have been better to stop cooking at 4 hours.  Pour the extra juice from the pot over the pork when serving, if you are feeling ambitious you can make a gravy.  It was also spectacular tossed in with the “Curry Butternut Squash Soup”, the flavors compliment each other well.

Enjoy!

Gourd Centerpiece

Entertaining is about more than just the company, just the food, or just the celebratory event itself.  As I get older and have friends over for dinner or host a party, I try to make it more of a special event rather than a last minute occasion.  To truly entertain I like to go above and beyond to pull everything together.  The drinks should enhance what you are serving, music and lighting can set the mood, appropriate serving ware and food presentations make everyone feel special.  Decor doesn’t need to be anything grandiose, a little bit can go a long way.  I like to have fresh flowers around the house to bring a little more to the table (literally), but come Fall flowers are not as vibrant as they were throughout the spring and summer.

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I saw a picture of a centerpiece consisting of a hurricane with 3 little pumpkins in it and I thought it was so cute and festive for Fall.   So I took it a step further and bought a basket full of gourds to fill up the tall flower vase on our buffet.  Picking out the gourds was the best part, there are so many shapes, colors, and sizes.  To give it more height I added some willow branches I got from the grocery store.  I think it turned out pretty nice and it could not have been easier.  As long as I don’t get bored with it, I plan to keep it out all the way through Thanksgiving!

2013-09-20 18.31.52As the weekend approaches, hopefully you will be inspired to add a little taste of fall to your home…even if it’s just for you to enjoy.

Curry Butternut Squash Soup

This soup is a staple at my parents’ house during the fall.  A hearty favorite to warm you up on those brisk days after picking apples or working in the yard.  Of course I had to make some small changes, to add a little something special.  With the shiitake mushrooms fresh from the farmers market as a garnish the soup is over the top.  This is best to make this soup when you have time to let it simmer before blending to enhance flavors.

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Ingredients:

– 2 medium-large butternut squash

– 2 Tbsp butter

– 1 large onion, diced

– 3 large cloves of garlic, sliced

– 2 1/2 tsp curry powder

– salt and pepper to taste

– 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

– 2 Tbsp fresh chopped ginger

– 6-8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

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Garnish Ingredients:

– 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

– olive oil

– 1 clove garlic, minced

– 1 tsp fresh thyme, center stem removed

Directions:

1. Peel and cut the squash into 1-2″ cubes.

2. Over medium heat in a large pot saute onions, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and butter for about 5-10 minutes.

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3. Add curry and let the fragrance develop over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes.

4. Add squash and stir well, heating about 5 minutes.  Add broth and bring to a simmer for 2 hours if able, at least 30 minutes if you are short on time.

5. Puree with immersion blender until silky smooth.  If you haven’t invested in an immersion blender, you are really missing out.

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6. Make garnish for serving:  Slice shiitake mushrooms and heat in a small heavy skillet with butter, garlic and thyme for 10 minutes on medium-low heat until cooked through.

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This is the complete first of fall meal: Wine cooked pork tenderloin with sweet potatoes (recipe to come later this week),  topped off with homemade apple pie for dessert.2013-09-22 19.29.27

Apple Pie

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Last year I got a recipe book that belonged to my Mimi, a very well loved Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.  When I was leafing through the book a recipe fell out for apple pie.  No regular apple pie, according to the article (a cut-out from Family Circle) it is the “Best of the Best”.  I have adopted this as my standard apple pie recipe.  Above is a picture of the first time I made the apple pie, so beautiful!

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As for the apples, I’m not exactly sure what type of apple is a good “baking apple”.  I’m very spoiled by the orchard at my parent’s house, we usually get several large bags of apples from the hundreds-thousands they pick every year.  I only know which ones to bake with after my mom separates them for me and instructs me on what to do with them.  Since I don’t have any apples from my parents yet, I went to the store and bought the cheapest apples I could find to bake with today.

 Ingredients:

– 2 1/2 pounds of apples peeled, cored, and sliced very thin.

– 1/3 C firmly packed light brown sugar

– 1/3 C granulated sugar

– 2 Tbsp flour

– 1 tsp ground cinnamon

– 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

– 1/4 tsp salt

– 1 pkg pie crust mix

– 2 Tbsp butter

– water or milk

– sugar for sprinkling

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Directions:

  1. Place apples in a large bowl, mix sugars, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Gently toss to cover apples and let sit for 10 minutes until a juice forms.
  2. Prepare pie crust according to directions and roll into 2-12’ rounds.
  3. Pour apple mixture into pastry and dot with butter.  Moisten bottom edge of pastry with water and cover with other pastry round.  Pinch edges to seal and cut slits into top.
  4. For crispy top brush with milk or water and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
  5. Bake in oven at 425 F for 40 minutes.

2013-09-22 16.33.02So you may notice that a few of the slits on this pie are extra wide…that would be because I forgot to dot with butter and had to sneak it through the slits after it was in the oven for about 5 minutes…oops!

I have found that the pre-made pie crusts are just as good tasting as homemade, so I definitely go with store bought to save time and effort.  I have also found that it is worth it to buy the name brand, such as Pillsbury.  It seems to get a nicer golden hue when baked compared to the generic brands.  I used a generic today completely on accident, note the lack of awesome hue in the crust compared to the first image of this blog.