Category Archives: holiday dinner

CT Style Holiday Show with Ryan Kristafer & Sarah Cody Making Bolognese!

CT Style Holiday Show with Ryan & Sarah Making Bolognese!

Holidays are for bringing family and friends together and making special dishes! On the CT Style Holiday Show this past Friday I show you guys an all time favorite of mine for bolognese. If you missed the live show you can watch it on Christmas day when WTNH Channel 8 airs the taped version or click on the link above.

I am truly grateful to have such a wonderful platform as CT Style to try and insire all of you in the kitchen and share my recipes. Having such creative and enthusiastic anchors at WTNH Channel 8 right by my side make it all that much better! On Friday, I wanted to show my appreciation by making Ryan Kristafer and Sarah Cody an extra special holiday treat by serving my light as a feather homemade gnocchi with the bolognese.

This bolognese sauce is like no other that I have ever had. Over the years I have worked hard to perfect this recipe matching a dish I used to have in Urbino, Italy, where I spent a couple of semesters abroad in college. Now all you have to do is follow my recipe and savour over the most amazing and unique bolognese sauce you’ll ever have.

 

I want to thank The Traveling Epicurean followers for supporting this culinary journey of mine in my efforts to inspire all of you in the kitchen. There’s something about igniting a passion that brings people together with good food and good company building memories that last a life time. Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Blessed 2018 New Year!

There are definitely some other great recipes you ought to check out that would be great with the homemade gnocchi and bolognese like Crab Balls with Homemade Thousand Island, or Best Buffalo Chicken Dip, and for dessert don’t forget the Drunk Blondie Bars with Bourbon Caramel SauceChocolate Crackle Cookies or the Pavlova!

 

 

CT Style with Ryan Kristafer & Sarah Cody Getting Ready for Thanksgiving!

CT Style with Ryan Kristafer & Sarah Cody Getting Ready for Thanksgiving!

It was a special day on CT Style with Ryan Kristafer and Sarah Cody sharing one of my favorite childhood dishes in memory of my Grandma Reilly. I never did get her recipe for her Creamed Onions or pies but she was the inspiration behind my recipe that I have been making for over 20 years now. Cooking in The Bender KItchen, hanging out with Ryan and Sarah was the perfect way to start my Thanksgiving holiday this year!

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that can truly drive you crazy if you don’t do any planning because there are just too many side dishes to make. Needless to say, a little planning goes a long way!

On CT Style I wanted to show you some of the dishes that are total time savers for this Thanksgiving. My Icebox-rolls dough can be made 4 days ahead, shape and rolling out the rolls, dredging in green onions the day before. These icebox dinner rolls are then ready to pop into the oven when your guests arrive giving your house a warm and fuzzy feeling with aromas of homemade baked bread!

The yummy Best Brussel Sprouts Ever are drizzled with olive oil, chopped garlic and roast for only 25 minutes on 350º without any flipping or fussing. These can be made the night before because the sprouts keep their bright green color and crispness when re-heated the next day!

My Perfect Pie Crust in 5 Minutes is to die for and can be made 1 month ahead, put into the freezer and thawed in the frig 2 days before you need it! Roll out the pie dough the night before Thanksgiving and then bake your delectable Chocolate Pecan Pie the night before and violà! Not to mention, the Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe is a melt in your mouth gourmet recipe …it may just be the hit of your holiday!

Finally, there was talk of a Creamed Onion competition recently at Page Hardware in Guilford with owner Andrew Page when we were discussing future cooking demos at Page in the new year! So there just may be a “Creamed Onions” competition coming as well! Page has quite the array of high tech steam ovens, stoves and so much more…it’s almost difficult to pay attention to conversation surrounded by all the beautiflul stainless steel! You really have to check them out. I will keep you all posted on The Traveling Epicurean Cooking Demos and the “competition” in their amazing kitchens at Page in January of 2018!

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Let me know how your recipes turned out and about any new ones that you tried! xxoo

 

 

 

CT Style Making Oysters in Pernod Sauce with Teresa & Scott!

No better way to start out my week then on “CT Style” In The Bender Kitchen with Teresa Dufour and News 8’s newsest ancor Scott McDonnell! It was a fun meeting Scott and having him there in the kitchen too and Teresa’s aura goes without saying…radiant! Summer is still in full swing so oysters were on my mind and here on CT Style I show you how to make my Oysters in Pernod Sauce with Fresh Spinach.

I created this recipe 16 years ago to match a yummy dish I had in New Orleans back in 2001. I have a knack for matching recipes in my test kitchen and that’s what I had done here. The flavors in this dish are a play on the traditional Oysters Rockefeller although with my recipe you don’t have to worry about shucking oysters. I buy my oysters already shucked, flash frozen in their own juices, at my local fish store.

On CT Style I actually used 1 whole quart of flash frozen oysters which contains about 24 oysters. I didn’t quite double the recipe but used 1 1/2 of the amount on the ingredient list. This is a very simple recipe and you will feel like a certified saucier once you taste the outcome.

As for the Pernod, this star-anise liquer is a whopping 40% alcohol although it mellows out quite a bit after simmering for 40 minutes. You’ll end up with a unique and really lovely flavor that’s going to wow you!

One of my favorite things when out a menu for a dinner party is how each dish balances out with the other. To compilment my oysters in Pernod sauce in Pernod Sauce on the CT Style set today I put together a platter of fresh watermelon wedges topped with a very good quality balsamic and feta cheese, sliced peppermint leaves and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. My neighbors have been inspiring me with their watermenlon dishes this summer hence the reasoning behind this combo and what a flavor explosion it is!

The Traveling Epicurean recently presented Oysters in Pernod Sauce with Fresh Spinach at a sold out Merrior-Terrior Event at the Madison Wine Exchange where I served up samplings made with fresh shucked oyters. Joe Dolce, Sommelier at The Madison Exchange teamed up with Joe Dimaggio from “Save the Sound” to hold this event. It also featured special guest and owner of Thimble Island Shellfish Company Life Long Waterman & Oyster Farmer, Jonathan Waters, who supplied the scrumptious freshly shucked oysters. Jonathan Water also talked about the remarkable story of the oyster and its history.

 

 

 

 

 

The oysters on the half shell served at this Merrior-Terrior event were each paired to a particular wine, spirit or beer that best complements their individual style. The pairings and commentary was presented by Court of Masters Certified Sommelier, Joe Dolce. It was tons of fun! You should look on the Madison Wine Exchanges website for up and coming events!

If you want to keep on the seafood train you should check out these recipes too like Lobster Mac N’ Cheese, Cold Cucumber Soup with Seared Sea Scallops, Salmon B.L.T. Sliders or Crab Cakes!

 

 

 

Ingredients for Oysters in Pernod Sauce with Fresh Spinach –                                            Makes 6 appetizers / 4 course size plates:

NOTE: On “CT Style” the finished sauté pan amount was 1 1/2 of the recipe with 1 Quart of Oysters-24, Raw flash frozen from my local seafood store… it’s all in how many oysters you like!

  • 1 pint shucked oysters, fresh or flash frozen raw oysters(12 oysters)
  • 1 package 5 0z. fresh spinach
  • 1 bottle clam juice plus juice from oysters
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream OR can of coconut cream
  • 1 cup half and half OR 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup Pernod plus 1 tsp to add at the end for extra flavor
  • 1/2 cup Vermouth or white wine
  • 1/4 cup plum tomatoes (pureed)
  • 1 garlic clove thru garlic press
  • 2 dashes Siracha
  • 1/4  cup grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp onion granules
  • 1/4 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary tied off with string
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp Wondra flour

Directions:

  1. Sauté/steam spinach for 3 minutes with 2 tbsp water
  2. Immediately remove spinach to a bowl of ice water to shock, stop the cooking and keep vibrant green color
  3. Place spinach in a small strainer to squeeze out water then place into a small bowl with paper towels to remove any excess water
  4. Add all the above ingredients EXCEPT grated cheese, oysters and spinach to a large sauté pan including the juice form the oysters but NOT the oysters themselves
  5. Note: Make sure to slowly whisk in the 1 tbsn sprinkling of Wondra flour
  6. Bring to a low simmer, keep simmering on low, stir every 10 minutes for 40 min. (do not BOIL or the cream will break and curdle!)
  7. Remove rosemary bundle and bay leaves
  8. Then stir in oysters and spinach and simmer 1-2 minutes just so the oysters cook thru
  9. Stir in the grated cheese
  10. Serve with hearty dense Italian bread OR rice noodles…mmm!
  11. Ganish with finely chopped tomato and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

 

CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Summertime Recipes!

CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Summertime Recipes!

 

 

 

 

Back on CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Ryan Kristafer and Teresa Dufour this past Thursday morning!  I feel so fortunate to be working with such a wonderful group of people at WTNH Channel 8 who make it so fun to share The Traveling Epicurean recipes with all of you.

My goal for this segment was to show you a couple of creative and really delicious ideas for all your summertime produce. Panzanella and Berries in Dreamy Cream came to mind.

One of the wonderful things about making these dishes is the abundance and variety you have to choose from at the farmers markets in the summer. The incredible flavors in this Panzanella recipe go without saying. All the aroma’s from the fresh herbs, basil, parsley, thyme & oregano to the fresh vegetables like the heirloom tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, red onions really get you salavating. The creaminess from the fresh mozzarella and the crunchy from the homemade croutons balance it all out.

As for the Berries in Dreamy Cream, you can whip this one up in a matter of minutes as well. I’ve been making this sauce for over 20 years and always get the same delightful response from guests after their first bite. You would never think that melting Fluff and cream cheese together could make such a delectable sauce on fresh berries. It’s a sensation you have to treat your self to and then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

For other scrumptious, easy go to summertime dishes you’ve got to check out my Salsa 101, Best Guacamole Ever, Zucchini Spaghetti,  Fresh Grarden Tomato Sauce or Roasted Garlic & Cannelini Bean Dip ! ENJOY!

Panzanella at Chef Marco’s

Panzanella at Chef Marco’s

Juicy heirloom tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and homemade golden croutons packed with garlic, purple onions, cucumbers and lots of fresh herbs make up this perfectly scrumptious summertime salad called Panzanella! Basil, parsley, oregano, thyme and a special dijon sauce really give this refreshing salad a delicious flavor and brightness.

I was recently able to coordinate schedules with my foodie friend Chef Marco so he could share his Panzanella recipe with you. Marco and his wife Sheryl, another big foodie, had this amazing dish at their house last summer and it still leaves a fresh impression on my mind. Probably because of all the fresh ingredients that come together with bursting flavor on your first bite.

Even though you can make this Panzanella all year long you couldn’t have a more perfect dish to make with the fresh summertime produce the local vendors offer at the farmers markets! Enjoy and make sure to check out Salsa 101, Salmon B.L.T. Slider’s, Lobster Mac N’ Cheese or Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie for your next get together!

You need to check out the WTNH Channel 8, “CT Style Morning Show” where I featured THIS recipe with Ryan Kristafer and Teresa Dufour! So much fun cooking with them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients for the Panzanella Salad (NOTE: it always a good idea to toast croutons the day before if possible)

  • 1 loaf sour dough bread or ciabatta loaf – make croutons out of the whole loaf using 3 1/2 cups only for this Panzanella Salad, saving the rest of the croutons in a ZipLoc baggie in the freezer for future panzanella dishes!
  • 2 lbs assorted tomatoes, reds, yellow, tiger, heirlooms, etc. cut into 1″ pieces – Ratio is a little more tomatoes to bread
  • 1-2 cup fresh mozzarella cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced European cucumber, sliced in 1/2 and seeded…run a small spoon down the center of the cucumber to remove inner seeds
  • 1/2 cup thinly slice purple onion
  • 2 tsp garlic puree -put thru garlic press (1 tsp is for the special dressing below, 1 tsp for Panzanella)
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • fresh herbs: 1/2 cup chopped basil, 1 tsp chopped oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/4 cup parsley…all finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 special sauce recipe below

Directions for the Salad:

  1. Pre-heat Covection oven to 400º
  2. Make special sauce recipe below and set aside
  3. Cut up sour dough or ciabatta loaf into 1″ cube and place on cookie tray lined with foil
  4. Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil all over the cubed up bread pieces and sprinkle with s & p
  5. Bake the bread until deep golden , about 12 minutes …keep an eye on it not to burn
  6. Let croutons cool completely
  7. Cut up tomatoes and fresh mozzarella into approx. 1 ” cubed pieces
  8. Cut cucumber in 1/2 length wise
  9. Peel and seed cucumber running a small spoon down the center to remove seeds then thinly slice cucumber half moons
  10. Cut 1 purple onion in 1/2 and thinly slice
  11. Put garlic thru garlic press
  12. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic puree, herbs and mozzarella to a large bowl
  13. Then add in the croutons, drizzle 1/3 cup of special sauce over salad
  14. Toss and serve immediately…MMM!
  15. NOTE: Add in everything but the croutons and special sauce until right before you are ready to enjoy the Panzanella salad! ENJOY!

Ingredients for ther Special Dressing:

  • 1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic puree
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup exta-virgin olive oil

Directions for dressing:

  1. Add first 4 ingrdients to a small bowl and slowly drizzle in while continuously whisking 1/4 cup olive oil (the dijon will help to emusify dressing)

New England Clam Chowder – My Secret Ingredients!

New England Clam Chowder – My Secret Ingredients!

This Creamy New England Clam Chowder bursting with clam broth flavor, tender clams, melt in your mouth potatoes and a hint of smokey from the bacon I can make 12 months of the year! My secret ingredients in this homemade New England Clam Chowder push it right over the top! My mother was whipping up creamy New England clam chowder when I was little so making homemade soups just comes naturally to me. This clam chowder recipe kind of reminds me of my no-nonsense crab cake recipe, no extra fillers! Topped with a little dollop of butter, a few dashes of tabasco and some oyster crackers brings me to chowda heaven!

My first secret ingredient in this New England Clam Chowder is dry cream sherry. De-glazing and simmering with dry sherry brings it to a whole new level. It really gives the chowder that extra something special everyone will be trying to figure out! If you have the time you really ought to pick up the Spnanish dry sherry called Amontilado for only $11 a bottle. It will last a while in your cupboard and help you to create amazing dishes.  I would never not think of putting a big splash of dry sherry into my chowder! You will understand why once you try it this way …you’ll never go back to sherry-less chowder!

My second secret ingredient is Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour, it’s a godsend. You don’t have to bother with a roux and worrying about lumps in your soup, sauce or gravy ever. It will change the way you cook! You can add the Wondra at any time during the creation of your dish and it magically dissolves. Now granted, sometimes we need a roux, like for making a gumbo and you need to devlop a nutty flavor from the roux working it into deep, dark golden color but we don’t want that here in the New England Clam Chowder so why add the extra work!

Sure it’s nice if it’s the right time of the year and you’ve set aside time to find and buy fresh whole clams to cook up for your chowder but my recipe can be made at the snap of your fingers, 12 months of the year and taste like restaurant quality chowder! It’s easy to do. I always stock my cabinets with snows clams and broth for chowder or linguine and clam sauce!

This New England Clam Chowder is especially great for parties like Memorial Day, which is right around the corner! Another great party dish you may want to add is Buffalo Chicken DipBEST Guacamole Ever, Salsa 101, Homemade Sweet & Tangy BBQ Sauce, or a gorgeous and most delicious Pavlova for dessert!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients (NOTE- Quantities can easily be halfed OR quartered …it’s still delicious!):

  • 6 cans “Snows” clams – 5 “chopped” clams & 1 “minced”
  • 5 Bottles “Snows Clam Broth = 6 cups broth (5 cups bottle + 1 cup comes from the cans after you drain the clams)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 3/4 cup good dry cream sherry -(the pink one) Spanish Dry Sherry “Amontillado” is one of my favorites (1/4 cup to de-glaze onion/celery and 1/2 cup to simmer with broth base)
  • 2 slices minced bacon (smokey flavor ONLY not maple)
  • 2 extra lg potatoes or 4 small diced to 1/2″ size
  • 1 celery stalk grated or finely diced
  • 1 whole sweet onion grated or finely diced
  • 1 bunch rosemary tied with string … just a flavor bundle – to be removed
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground pepper
  • 3 sprinkles of “Wondra-Quick Dissolving Flour”

Directions:

  1. Slice lg onion in 1/2, peel outer layer and grate OR finely chop whole onion
  2. Grate OR finely chop or 2 celery stalks, if grating….just grate the underside of stalk ending with ourter stringy rib section to discard
  3. Slice 3 slice of smoked bacon, then dice that
  4. Add diced bacon to large pot and begin to sauté on low, just want the bacon to become slightly golden…not dark
  5. Add in grated onion and celery and saute until lightly golden
  6. De-glaze with 1/4 cup dry cream sherry
  7. In 1 minute add in diced Yukon potatoes and all the clam broth from cans and bottles and 2 bay leaves and 1 tsp salt
  8. Bring to a simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender but FIRM because the potatoes will continue to cook even after you take them off the heat
  9. Tie off a bundle of fresh rosemary with cotton string
  10. At the 5 minute mark of simmering the potatoes ADD in the rosemary bundle and 1/2 cup of dry cream sherry and bring back to a low simmer
  11. At the last 2 minutes of simmering the potaotes ADD in 3 cups of heavy cream, 1/4 tsp finely ground blk pepper and possibly 1 tsp more of salt (you need to taste here to see if your chowder needs this addition of salt) and bring back to a low simmer
  12. Take the New England Clam Chowder base off the heat and gently stir in all the clams
  13. Remove the the rosemary bundle and the bay leaves and serve with Tabasco and oyster crackers
  14. If this is for the following day cool chowder completely at room temp allowing space with the cover for the soup to evaporate, place in frig
  15. When re-heat the soup watch carefully not to bring to a boil …just heat thru…mmm! Enjoy!

 

 

 

CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Teresa & Ryan Making Manicotti!

CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Teresa & Ryan Making Manicotti!

With Easter right around the corner I was excited to be back on CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Ryan and Teresa so I could share with you my family’s secret recipe for homemade manicotti. These delicate pasta crepes are the lightest manicotti you’ll ever have. They are oozing with mozzarella, covered in tomato-basil sauce and topped with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and are sure to turn heads at the dinner table!

Italian tradition always includes a yummy side dish to go along with the ham, leg of lamb, turkey, salmon or tenderlion like manicotti, lasagna, eggplant rollatini or parmesan. Comfort food bringing it all together, an Italian side dish makes such a nice compliment to what ever meat or fish you choose.

This homemade manicotti recipe is a poured crepe-like batter and in my opinion it’s a whole lot easier then making a tradition rolled out pasta. Making the pasta crepe is like making pancakes or French crepes. On my manicotti recipe page I show you detailed pictures of how to make them. The YouTube “Manicotti Show” that’s embeded there also includes very detailed instruction on how to make these walking you thru each step making it very easy for you to follow and learn.

I love cooking for everyone on the CT Style set who seemed to love the manicotti because there weren’t any left over…makes the chef very happy! The lettuce wedges with Roasted Blue Cheese & Buttermilk Dressing (stay tuned for an up and coming show on that one) and crumbled bacon were a big hit too and lets not forget those Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies! 

Once you introduce these delectable homemade manicotti into your family’s holiday dinner you’ll find it becoming part of your tradition too! Other wonderful side dishes you could add into your dinner, my Creamed Onions, Steak House Creamed Spinach or zucchini torta! Don’t forget about Ricotta Pie or Greek Baklava both crowd pleasers at parties! Enjoy and Happy Holidays! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eggplant Timbale at Adele’s

Eggplant Timbale at Adele’s

When Adele first told me about her lovely dish I was very excited to get this on camera for you. Actually seeing this eggplant timbale being unmolded when you release the sping form pan its baked in is a whole other story! It really is one of the prettiest dishes I have ever seen not to mention it’s absolutely delicious. The pasta filling is exactly like my “Lazy Mans Lasagna” and then you have the outer wrapping of the fried eggpant slices that bring the flavors to another dimension. 

I love this dish beacuse it’s fairly easy to make if you can plan ahead. Now if you have not been frying eggplant your whole life as Adele and I have there certainly would be no shame whatsoever in going to your local Italian deli around the corner and buying already fried eggplant slices! While you are there you can pick up the meatballs too. Then all you will need to do is assemble this magnificent dish. Taking advantage of this convenience allows for last minute planning here which can be a godsend! Trust me you will have as much fun as Adele and I did putting it together. When you present this eggplant timbale at your next holiday dinner the ooh’s and aah’s alone will have you sold!

When you make this eggplant timbale for your next holiday dinner you’ll need some easy holiday appetizers like Baked Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto, Crostini w/Gorganzola, Tomato & Basil, and Goat Cheese, Fig Jam, Fresh Pear & Mint in Pre-Baked “Fillo” Cups! My Gourmet Caesar Salad is a must, and some Zucchini Torta would be a nice surprise for your guests also! This Chocolate Pecan Pie is to die for and don’t forget my chewy chocolate chip cookies for the kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS for Eggplant Timbale:

  • 1 lb. rigatoni
  • 8 meatballs broken up into 3/4″ pieces
  • 9 prepared/cooked eggplant parmesan slices (w/o sauce)
  • NOTE: If you are making your own eggplant you can switch out the bread crumbs to flour-either way will be delish….she dips her eggplant slices in flour first, then egg and then she fries the eggplant same as in my eggplant parm recipe except she doesn’t use bread crumbs
  • 2 cups shredded part skim or whole milk mozzarella, plus 2/3 – 1 cup for topping (use the packaged mozz. here not fresh)
  • 2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 3 extra lg eggs whisked
  • 8 cups tomato-basil pasta sauce (4 cups to mix in with pasta, 2 cups to top timbale and 2 cups to serve on the side for extra)
  • (1)- 9″ spring form pan

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450º
  2. Cook 1 lb. rigatoni pasta until ADENTE, a little firm because you will continue to cook the pasta when you bake it in the oven
  3. Drain the aldente pasta BUT do not rinse!
  4. Add cooked pasta to a large bowl
  5. Add in whisked eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and mix to combine
  6. Now pour sauce in and mix gently to combine again
  7. Add in broken up meatballs and gently mix
  8. Spray spring form pan with Pam
  9. Lay prepared eggplant slices all around pan meeting in the center like a flower with edges folding back out of pan
  10. Add pasta mixture into the center of the eggplant drapped spring form pan
  11. Fold over the eggplant slices covering the pasta filling
  12. Add the last 9th piece of eggplant to cover the opening in the middle where the eggplant doesn’t reach
  13. Pour 2 cups sauce over the top of the eggplant timbale, sprinkle with parm & then 2/3 – 1 cup sliced mozzarella
  14. Put timbale into pre-heated 450º oven and bake 5 minutes
  15. Turn oven down to 400º and bake 20 minutes more until bubbly
  16. Take out and let sit 15 minutes…very important to do this
  17. After 15 minutes release spring-form pan from eggplant
  18. Carefully slice timbale and serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan and a side gravy boat for extra sauce

Tortellini at The Gulla’s

Tortellini at The Gulla’s

You know this labor of love is so worth the effort when you taste how tender and flavorful these homemade tortellini are! The delicate, circular shaped pasta are stuffed with a purée of sundried tomato, mozzarella, and Reggiano Parmesan and served in one of my all time favorites, a tomato-cream sauce.  I introduced Steve to another easy and scrumptious sauce, Gorganzola Dolce-Cream Sauce that’s garnished with fresh thyme and a drizzle of truffle oil! 

This past weekend I was at The Gulla’s house with Steve and his son Maximo making their homemade tortellini. Steve dedicates a few hours every Christmas Eve making these little gourmet bites for his family’s Christmas dinner. Making these tortellini is definitely a labor of love because you are creating each little amazing folded bundle of pasta by hand.

Having a Smart pasta machine like Steve’s really cuts down on the labor of making tortellini as the pasta comes out of the machine in long ready-made sheets in mere minutes. It’s a very cool process putting out smooth sheets of pasta in 3 minutes flat but you can also learn to make Steve’s tortellini using homemade pasta too if you don’t own an Smart pasta machine. I have a homemade pasta recipe below for all of us without a pasta machine who don’t want to miss out on learning how to make these incredible tortellini.

As Italian legend goes on how the shape of the tortellini came about dates back to the days when Venus, the Goddess of Love, was traveling to a small town in Italy between Modena and Bologna. She was staying at a tavern where the Innkeeper was so taken by her beauty he peeked thru the key to her room one night and got a glimse of her navel. He rushed to the kitchen and created a pasta in the likeness of her belly button. And that’s how the shape of the tortellini came about, the belly button pasta! Who Knew?

While you are working hard forming these wonderful tortellini you may need a little sip of something to get you through like a Metaxa Mojito! And for easy nibbles you can pick on some Mango Salsa, Sweet Potato Fries and Green Goddess Dip II,  Best Guacamole Ever or some delicious Mediterranean Layered Dip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGRDIENTS for making PASTA in The Smart Pasta Machine:

  • 3 parts flour
  • 1 part semolina
  • 180 ml OR 3/4 cup of water for 2 lbs flour in pasta machine
  • 1 egg and 1 tsp water whisked in a small bowl – set aside until ready to form tortellini

INGREDIENTS for Sun-dried Tomato FILLING:                                                                                         NOTE: THIS FILLING IS UNBELIEVEABLY DELICIOUS!…try it on crostini OR on crusty bread!

  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella – whole milk or part skim
  • 1/4 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil

Purée these ingredients with an immersion blender or add to food processor and pulse. Start with 2 tbsp of olive oil and add a little extra if needed to purée til smooth texture

DIRECTIONS FOR FORMING THE TORTELLINI WITH SHEETS OF PASTA MADE FROM THE PASTA MACHINE:

  1. Begin to cut 2″ circles with your cookie cutter out of the machine made sheets of pasta
  2. Brush top 1/2 of the circle edge with a whisked egg
  3. Place 1/4 tsp of sun dried tomato filling in the middle of the circle pasta
  4. Fold the circle in 1/2
  5. Press to SEAL the 1/2 circle of pasta…VERY IMPORTANT to SEAL this edge!
  6. Take 1/2 circle and wrap around your pinky having each end meet
  7. Press these two ends together to seal and form one continous circular shape
  8. Fold down top of circular pasta to form tortellini
  9. Place in a bowl as you finish each one until you gone thru all the pasta sheets
  10. Bring large pan of salted water to a boil and add fresh pasta
  11. Cook pasta for 8 minutes, test pieces of pasta for proper doneness
  12. Serve with tomato-cream sauce or Gorganzola Dolce-cream sauce, garnish with thyme and truffle oil … mmm!

INGREDIENTS FOR TOMATO-CREAM SAUCE:

  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 1/4 cup POMI “strained tomaotes” – 1 med box – 26 oz.
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Sauté finely chopped garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil for 3 minutes, add in POMI strained tomatoes, salt & oregano and simmer for 15 minutes. Add in 2 cups of heavy cream to tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer for 15 miutes more. Serve with cooked tortellini, garnish with fresh thyme (and truffle oil.

INGREDIENTS FOR GORGANZOLA DOLCE-CREAM SAUCE:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Gorganzola Dolce cheese
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
  • fresh thyme leaves
  • truffle oil

Add heavy cream, Gorganzola, and vermouth to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. When it comes to a simmer whisk the melted cheese into the cream and simmer 10 minutes. Serve with tortellini, garnish with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves and a drizzle of truffle oil.

INGREDIENTS for Easy Homemade-Handmade Pasta- (Recipe from “Pasta at Vin’s“)

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 1/2  – 5 lg eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the kneading attachment on your food processor and add the flour
  2. Add the salt and olive oil
  3. Turn on the food processor to slow
  4. Add in 1 tbsp of water
  5. Begin adding in 1 egg at a time with the processor still on slow
  6. Add in the rest of the eggs
  7. Keep the food processor going on medium speed to begin kneading the dough
  8. Let knead for about 8 minutes until the texture turns into a smooth consistency
  9. Remove the pasta dough and place onto the counter
  10. Knead briefly with your hands and let sit for 1/2 hr.
  11. NOTE: Vin does not cover his pasta dough while it sits for the 1/2 so it can begin to dry out  a little bit
  12. Sprinkle some flour onto the counter or work surface and cut pasta dough into 8 pieces
  13. Begin to roll out each piece of dough to your desired thickness, into long lasagna-like sheets
  14. Sprinkle more flour on top of each thinly rolled out pasta piece and begin to cut out 2″ circles with your cookie cutter
  15. Brush top 1/2 of the circle edge with a whisked egg
  16. Place 1/4 tsp of sun dried tomato filling in the middle of the circle pasta
  17. Fold the circle in 1/2
  18. Press to SEAL the 1/2 circle of pasta…VERY IMPORTANT to SEAL this edge!
  19. Take 1/2 circle and wrap around your pinky having each end meet
  20. Press these two ends together to seal and form one continous circular shape
  21. Fold down top of circular pasta to form tortellini
  22. Place in a bowl as you finish each one until you gone thru all the pasta sheets
  23. Bring large pan of salted water to a boil and add fresh pasta
  24. Cook pasta for 8 minutes, test pieces of pasta for proper doneness
  25. Serve with tomato-cream sauce or Gorganzola Dolce-cream sauce, garnish with thyme and truffle oil … mmm!

 

 

#1 Meatball at Kevin & Jori’s

#1 Meatball at Kevin & Jori’s

It was definitely worth the wait to find out how to make Kevin and Jori Smith’s oh so sucullent and flavorful meatballs! It took a little patience to sync our schedules thru this busy holiday season but we were finally able to tape these #1 Meatball winners from the recent competition,  “Lisa & Vin’s 2016 Meatball Throw Down”! It’s a team effort between Kevin and Jori that produces one of the best meatball’s I have ever tasted. Watch out Dan Holzman from “The Meatball Shop” in NYC for these amazing meatballs will turn heads!

Come to find out Kevin and Jori won Lisa & Vin’s Meatball Competition the year before as well! Once you have your first bite into these melt-in-your-mouth meatballs you will know exactly why.

Not only were we eating Kevin and Jori’s amazing meatballs while taping the #1 Meatball show but Vin made is homemade pasta we call “The Trucals” from the show “Homemade Pasta at Vin’s”. Vin makes his pasta with a special roller called the trucal iron hence the name “The Trucals”.  This trucal iron that belonged to his grandfather cuts thick strands of pasta as you roll over it making for a hardy, chewy, yet tender strand of pasta.

If it couldn’t get any better then that Kevin added in an incredible garlic-basil bread and Jori her luscious tomato-basil salad with fresh Burrata cheese! Talk about the perfect meal…OMG! I am truly excited that I am able to bring you Kevin and Jori’s winning meatball reicpe. I know you will love them as much as I do!

You will need to have some amazing desserts up your sleeve to live up to these meatball standards like my Drunk Blondie Bars with a Caramel Bourbon Sauce, Chocolate Crackle Cookies, OR my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe! Then there’s Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie or a Chocolate Pecan Pie where you’ll always need just one more little fork full! LOL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Bottom photos courtesy of Gianni Esposito)

Ingredients for #1 Meatball Makes Approx 55 Meatballs:                                                                -Note: this is a large recipe… you can 1/2 the reicpe for a lesser amount of course and remember meatballs FREEZE really  well, raw or cooked!

  • 6 lbs meat: 2 lb. ground beef 80/20, 2 lb. ground veal, 2lb. ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 whole heads roasted garlic (Keep garlic heads in foil the whole time for this meatball recipe)
  • 3 cups grated pecorino romano grated cheese
  • 2 3/4 cups homemade ciabatta bread crumbs – 2 loaves of ciabatta – the bottom 1/2’s
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Prociutto di Parma
  • 4 lg basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 7 eggs (Kevin likes 1 1/2 egg per lb of meat)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400º
  2. Drizzle 2 heads of garlic with a tbsp of olive oil wrap in foil, place into oven for 35-40 minutes
  3. Slice loaves of ciabatta in 1/2, save tops for garlic bread – recipe for spread below
  4. Cut up bottom havles in small cubes, place on a cookie tray and bake until golden approx. 12 minutes
  5. Cool bread cubes then pulse to a crumb in a food processor
  6. Add ground beef, veal, and pork to a large mixing bowl
  7. Add in chopped prosciutto, salt, Percorino cheese, and bread crumbs
  8. Mix with hands to start combining
  9. Add in 7 lg eggs to meat and again mix with hands to combine, folding meat over and over
  10. Squeeze roasted garlic bulbs out of their sleeves and put into food processor or little chopper with olive oil and 4 basil leaves and purée
  11. Add this mixture to the meatball mixture and again mix folding over and over to combine
  12. Roll into 2″ size meatballs
  13. Pour 1/2″ high olive oil into large sauté pan and heat on med/high – MUST BE OLIVE OIL!
  14. Add in 8-9 meatballs at a time, don’t over crowd pan
  15. Cook on all sides until golden approx 6 minutes
  16. Remove to plate and serve with pasta, you can find Vin’s homemade pasta, “The Trucals” which are sooooo worth the effort!
  17. Serve with garlic bread too…mangia mangia 🙂

Garlic Bread Spread:

  • Ciabatta tops
  • 3/4 stick softened butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pecorino grated cheese
  • 4 basil leaves chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped

Mix all ingredients above, smear onto ciabatta halves and bake for 12-15 minutes on 375º YUM!