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Friday
Jun072013

Super Foods Cookbook

Good morning! It's a rainy morning here in New York City. The usual cats and dogs are teeming from the gray clouds above. I'd like to bring a little color to this gray day for you... a little color in the form of food.

SUPER FOODS! I know it's been a little while since I last posted. I've been working. On this cookbook, in fact. It was released via Colavita's Facebook page last week, and I'd like to share it with you here and now.

First, pretty please with sugar in the raw on top, make your way to Colavita's Facebook page and like them. You'll be able to download all kinds of crazy goodness in the form of cookbooks. These cookbooks are usually produced by yours truly, so I have an agenda. 

And the agenda is stuffing you full of good for you food that also tastes amazing. Take for example the following, featured in the book:

The roasted beets and pineapples sit on a tart made of graham cracker crumbs and walnuts, with just a touch of sugar. A little tangy goat cheese and fresh mint make it all come alive. I made this from the Morristown satellite office and fed it to The Box and John for dinner. The Box and John don't do veggies. But they did this tart. And went in again for seconds. You should do it too.

Or how about:

This pasta is so simple your pet monkey could do it. The giant stove top wok is an asset, but not a requirement — a regular skillet or frying pan works just as nicely. As a bonus, if you're in a time crunch, you can use frozen shrimp. So get that pet monkey to work! I mean, he WAS just lying about on the sofa diminishing your supply of Kettle Chips, was he not? This is a better use of his time.

If you're into grains, you'll love this salad Farro, Beet Greens and Salmon Salad:

Did you know you could eat the green tops of beets? You can – and they are packed with vitamins and actually taste good. The cucumber and mint dressing give this salad a light and summer taste. Throw it on your outdoor picnic table this summer, with some Watermelon Mojito's on the side... Hey, I'm here to help.

I can't leave out breakfast, my favorite meal of the day. These Blueberry and Oat Pancakes are not your run-of-the-mill breakfast cake, although they will keep you running around the mill, as they're packed with good, energy-providing grains. A little blueberry balsamic syrup gives these cakes a tangy sweetness.

But this isn't all you'll get! If you call now, you get this FREE set of Japanese kitchen knives! 

No, you won't. Sorry, I got carried away. But you WILL get more recipes. The above are just a few of the featured dishes. Have I won you over? If so, click here and download your PDF. These recipes are perfect for summer time. Perfect for outdoor parties. Perfect for feeding families, or even just yourself. I've tried all of them and they have my stamp of approval. I hope they get yours too.

Monday
Jul022012

Meatballs and Muffins, Muffins and Meatballs

Sometimes I can't decide what to eat - it's the age-old, "salty or sweet" question, which is often solved by either a literal or metaphorical (in terms of taste combinations) chocolate covered pretzel.

But a woman cannot live on chocolate pretzels alone. Trust me, I've tried. You need some more nutrients.

And, being Italian, what better thing to supplement chocolate covered pretzels with than meatballs? Yes - meatballs! Now, it being July 4th, you may be wracking your brains for various foodstuffs that you can throw on the grill. For me, I've always found that time awaiting the grill to be sufficiently heated a bit tedious.

Elana fires up the grill, back in the day.Myself and my guests might like munchies. Snackables. Whatever you wanna call it.

Enter MEATBALLS. These are mini bison meatballs with dill and fresh parsley. You can throw tiny toothpicks in them and serve them with a side of this yogurt dipping sauce.

Bison Meatballs
makes about 20 mini meatballs - for more, double the recipe! 

What You Need:
1/2 lb ground bison meat
4 small fingerling potatoes, boiled and peeled
4 scallions, chopped (white parts only!)
2 eggs
fresh dill - chopped (as much as you like)
fresh parsley - chopped (as much as you like)
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper to taste
Olive oil

What To Do:
Remove the potato skins andbBoil the potatoes in a pot of water until they are very soft when pierced with a fork. Remove them from the water and set aside to cool.

Place the ground bison meat in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, the crushed red pepper flakes, the dill and the scallions

Add the cooled potatoes, crushing them with your fingers as you add them to the meat.

Drop in the two eggs.

Now it's time to get dirty. Use your hands, people! That's why you've got 'em. Mix and mash all this wonderful gooey-ness together until it's holding.

Is it holding together? Good. Now, still using your hands, roll them into small balls and place them on a platter. Roll it all! You will be a master by the time this is over.

Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.

Drop in your meatballs, one at a time. Turn them around occassionally so that they brown evenly on all sides. Bison meat can be pink on the inside, but you are the master of your meatballs. Do you like them rare? Medium? Well done? For rare, I like to cook about 2 minutes on each side. I know meatballs don't really have a "side" being round, but just make it up.

Now keep in mind, bison meat has a lower fat content than beef. That means is will cook FASTER (also good for parties as your guests are HUNGRY people, I know they are). Because of this, bison tastes best at rare and medium cooked levels. It can dry out when it's well done. If you really like your meatballs well done, lower the heat and cook them slowly for a longer period of time.

Also, use tongs to rotate your meatballs...a fork will pierce them and then all the tasty juices will run away. Which is sad, especially when you've done so much work. Also, it's best to let the little guys rest for a few minutes before you throw 'em in your meatball hole. They like to settle, they've been through a lot in that skillet.

Now, I know I mentioned chocolate covered pretzels before, but instead I made muffins. You know that guests that ate all your meatballs? Well, they probably drank all your beer too. And they might be sleeping in your bathtub - watch out when you go in there in the morning! 

To be a nice host, you may want to offer them something in the morning. Something...healthy. With antioxidants. Heaven knows they need 'em.

Enter Goji Berry Oatmeal Muffins. They have lots of good grains, and Goji berries for antioxidant quality. If your guests choose to slather them with butter, just turn a blind eye. The bathtub is not the most comfortable place to sleep, after all. Here is the recipe:

Makes about 12 muffins

What You Need:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (the real stuff, if you can)
1/2 all-purpose flour (you can also use millet flour if you want to be healthier. I find it has a nice sweet taste)
1/3 cup dried Goji berries, soaked in hot water to rehydrate
1/2 cup salted pistachios
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (optional, but they're really good for you) 
3/4 cup soy milk (you can also use regular milk)
1 egg and 1 egg white
4 tablespoons of butter - at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt 
Drizzle of honey - to equal about 1/8 of a cup

What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin, or those fancy silicone muffin cups (I have them and I love them).

Soak the dried Goji berries in hot water for about 10 minutes.

While the berries are soaking, pull out your food processor, and throw in all your flours and the oats and the flaz seeds if you're using them. Give it a pulse or two to combine.

Add in the baking powder, baking soda and salt and pulse again.

Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until it is incorporated into the dry ingredients. The mixture should resemble a coarse meal, holding together in very small balls.

Now it's time to add the wet ingredients. Pour in the milk (soy or regular), the eggs and the honey. Blend until well combined. 

Drain your goji berries and add them, along with the pistachios to the batter. Blend just a tiny bit. You don't want to mash up the pistachios too much, it's nice to get a good CRUNCH in there.

If your batter is a little thick, you can add more milk.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 of the way to the top. You can sprinkle the tops with a few oats for decoration. It does look nice that way...

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Now wait for the bathtub sleepers to surface...

And if you're still looking for things to throw on the grill, may we suggest PIZZA? We just can't help ourselves.

Just a few of our options...

Friday
Apr202012

B is for BRUNCH

Lately, I've been enjoying hosting brunches. I get to feed people (one of my favorite activities) and people get to be fed by me (I'm assuming this is one of their favorite activities, but I really can't say for sure). Usually, my brunches involve people lounging on my couch and using foot stools as makeshift tables. Since my move to a studio apartment, I no longer have space for a kitchen table.

These cramped eating quarters seem to bother my guests not at all. They have become proficient in lap-balancing plates, dodging wine glasses on the floor, and throwing couch pillows at me if I set off the smoke detectors.

John does not come over for brunch. I have found that getting him to leave HIS couch (aptly nicknamed the "submarine" because of its vast size and risk of human submersion via pillow) in Hoboken to travel to the Upper West Side is like coaxing Punxsutawney Phil out of his cubby hole pre-February 2.

So he will not get this salad. Which is really just a shame. But you can! If you make it for yourself, that is. It's healthy, tasty and perfect for Spring. If you happen to have a porch with a Wisteria tree overhang, you really have everything covered. Except for the wine – which your guests should bring.

Kale and Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

What You Need:
Feeds 2-3 hungry people 

Kale: 1/2 bunch from the grocery store should do it. Chop it up into bite size pieces.
Red russet potatoes: about 6, quartered.
Multicolored carrots: I used yellow, orange and purple varieties. Peeled, and quartered.
Asparagus: Small bunch, maybe about 10-12 stalks. You can use more if you like.
Chicken or Turkey sausage: 2 links, removed from casings.
Fresh Rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe follows) 

What To Do:

First, we roast the root veggies. Heat up your oven to 350 degrees (I actually used my toaster oven for this purpose). Place your chopped veggies and taters in a bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt, fresh chopped rosemary and drizzle with olive oil. Mix it up, so that it all gets evenly coated.

Lay your seasoned, oiled veggies out on a cookie tray and place them in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until they turn both soft and crispy. You maybe want to give them a flip halfway through their cooking time.

Remove them from the oven and set them aside.

While the veggies are roasting, you can start up the sausage.

In a skillet or frying pan, heat up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. 

Add in the sausage and break it up with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle in a little more sea salt, black pepper and rosemary if you like. Allow the sausage to brown up a bit.

As the sausage is cooking, add in the 1/4 cup of white wine. Let the sausage cook in the wine until the wine is almost completely reduced. This should take about 15 minutes, at which point your sausage will be cooked and it will still be moist and flavorful due to the wine it has absorbed.

I preferred my asparagus steamed. And there's a super-handy trick for steaming green veggies like asparagus. Here's what to do:

Boil some wanter. Plunge your asparagus in the boiling water for about 2 minutes. You don't want them to be soggy. I hate soggy veggies. You want the crisp - they need snap. 

Ready a colander in the sink. Pour your asparagus into the colander, allowing the boiling water to drain out. Immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Your veggies will be bright green like a newly bloomed tree in spring time. You can thank me later. Or now...now's always good.

By now your root veggies should be roasted, your sausage cooked and your asparagus steamed. What to do now? Throw them all in a salad bowl and make some Lemon Vinaigrette

This Lemon Vinaigrette is the easiest, lemony-est dressing. I learned how to do it from the fabulous and informative staff at Salumeria Rossi.

What You Need:

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (first cold pressed, please!)
The juice from 1/2 lemon
Small tupperware bowl with a lid...or any container with a lid 

What To Do:

Pour the olive oil into a small tupperware bowl with a lid. Squeeze the juice from 1/2 of a lemon into the olive oil.

Place the lid securely on and SHAKE! SHAKE THE Buh-jeezus out of it! Alternately, if you are opposed to shaking (who are you?), you can wisk it up in a bowl.

The lemon juice will be nicely incorporated into the oil. Pour it over the salad and mix it all up. 

Pick out one piece of sausage and test it....and then one more....

 

 

Monday
Mar192012

Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti

I'm making a push on the blog for more authentic Italian recipes. If John and I (this is Elana here) are purporting to tell you what quality Italian food should taste like and where to find it, we should perhaps tell you how to make it.

The "making it" falls into my department. John's department involves eating, restaurant reservations, hair styling tips and wallet losing. How many of you have lost your wallet recently? How many times have you lost your wallet in the past year? This is a serious question, people. Because if you lose your wallet you may just have to stay home and eat.

And if you stay home and eat, you may need to know what to make. We would like to be the place you come to for quality Italian recipes.

The above pictured photo of Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti are such an example. Biscotti are traditional Italian cookies so named because they are "twice cooked." You can stuff your biscotti with any number of add-ins. I felt as though the sweet-tart flavor of the Gran Gala soaked cranberries was perfectly complemented by the salty, crunchy pistachios.

Biscotti should be crunchy, not chewy. The make excellent dippers. Into hot chocolate, coffee, chai tea... They should be satisfying and dense. They (being a cookie) are also extremely portable. So you can take them on the go while you retrace your steps to find your lost wallet...

Anyway, here's how they go:

What You Need:
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar in the raw
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons anise seeds
8 ounces (1 cup) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries soaked in 1/4 cup Gran Gala (an orange liquor - make sure to reserve this and not throw it away, as you will add it to the dough!)
1 cup salted pistachios, roughly chopped

Glaze: 2 egg whites, beaten until foamy

What To Do:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

With an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the the sugar in the raw, granulated sugar and anise seeds. Add this to the flour mixture.

With the mixer on low speed, add the chilled butter, mixing until the pieces are the size of large peas.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, Gran Gala (not including the cranberries - remove those and set them aside) and vanilla extract. Add these wet ingredients to the dough, mixing until just combined.

Add the pistachios and cranberries, blending them into the dough evenly.

The dough will feel sticky. Don't be alarmed! Let it rest for 15 to 30 minutes before shaping it.

Now onto the baking:

Line two large baking sheets with parchment. Cut the dough into quarters. Using as little flour as possible on your work surface, roll each quarter into a log that's 13 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, working out the air pockets as you go.

Set the logs on the lined baking sheet about 3 inches apart.

Brush the sides and top with the beaten egg whites. Bake until golden brown and firm in the center, about 35 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking process.

Remove from the oven and set the cookies on their baking sheets to cool for about 30 minutes.

Baking Time Part the Second!

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. You can line the baking sheets with fresh parchment if needed.

With a serrated knife, slice the logs into 1/2 inch thick slices, cutting on a bias (slanted).

Lay the sliced cookies flat on the baking sheet.

Bake about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets if needed.

Flip the cookies over and bake until both sides are a rich golden brown, another 10 to 15 minutes.

Set the baking sheets on racks to cool completely.

You can store them in an airtight container for up to two weeks. But they shouldn't last that long, as you will most likely eat them as soon as possible!

*Based on a recipe found in Fine Cooking Magazine. But we made it ours.

Monday
Jan162012

Roasted Garlic and Parsley Pesto

Over the weekend I intended to make some hummus. Fava bean hummus with rosemary to be exact. I've done it before and it's fantastic. I dip huge chunks of fennel in it.

But....there's always a but, isn't there? Well, the fava beans went bad. Very bad. The kind of bad that makes you think, how can this happen to a bean?

As I was erasing all evidence of outlaw fava beans (and watching Sons of Anarchy), I thought what now? I've got all this ammo and no one to shoot! No wait, I mean I've got all this....oh you get it.

In fact this is what I had:

1 lemon
1 head of garlic
fresh rosemary
fresh Italian parsley
pine nuts

I stared at the head of garlic, contemplating the possibilities. The garlic regarded me peacefully....willing me to ROAST IT.

So I did. And then I threw it in the food processor with the above ingredients, olive oil, salt and pepper and smeared it ALL over that prosciutto bread from Madonia Brothers Bakery and called myself a genius.

Because I was. And you will be too if you can follow these simple instructions:

What You Need:
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 head of garlic, roasted (roasting instructions listed here)
fresh rosemary (as much as you want, I used about 1 tablespoon chopped)
fresh Italian parsley (I used an entire bunch, about 1 cup chopped)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup olive oil (more if you think you need it)
salt and pepper to taste

What To Do:

Squeeze the freshly roasted garlic insides out of their papery wrappers and into a food processor or blender.

Add the lemon juice and all the remaining ingredients.

Whirl it around until a nice paste forms.

Give it a taste to see if you've seasoned appropriately. At this point you can add either salt, pepper, olive oil or all three.

Throw it on some toasted bread wedges, put some Sons of Anarchy DVDs in and have yourself a party.