Category Archives: Pork

Pulled pork, stuffed pork chops, crowned pork, pork carnitas, pork cutlets, pork braised in tomato sauce

Easy Pulled Pork Sliders on CT Style!

Easy Pulled Pork Sliders on CT Style!

Showing you how to make summer sauces, a Bourbon BBQ & a Green Goddess Sauce, to go with Easy Pulled Pork Sliders topped with broccoli slaw is what I was doing today on CT Style! Teresa has that baby glow going on and Ryan always with the funny one liners, doing the cooking segment on CT Style is one of my favorite things about being The Traveling Epicurean.

The Easy Pulled Pork Sliders are made with tenderloins instead of a giant pork shoulder. The reason I love to do this is it’s so darn EASY! The tenderloins are cut in 1/2 then coated with a mixture of light brown sugar, Colemans Dry Mustard, onion & garlic granules, s & P. Placed into a large baking dish with a small 7.5 oz. can of cola poured into the dish. The Coca-Cola helps to keep it moist and gives it a little caramel flavor. It’s baked for 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 hours, cooled and shredded apart. At that time the Bourbon BBQ Sauce has finished simmering and just waiting to be poured of all the pulled pork and warmed thru…YUM! This recipe can easily be duplicated in your crock-pot as well!

I featured my homemade BBQ sauce on CT Style today because I really wanted to emphasis how easy it is to make your own BBQ sauce at anytime and not have to worry about making a trip back to the store when you can whip it up yourself! Add in some Bourbon and wow, how great does that taste. It’s definitely an adult taste so if you need to you can easily divide up the sauce for the kids adding in bourbon to the adult sauce only.

Now the green goddess sauce goes with out saying and once you taste it you’ll understand. This sauce will jazz up just about any dish you are making, grilled swordfish, salmon, chicken, beef, lamb, pork or veggies. It’s made all in a blender and when it sits in the frig for a few hours the flavors only get better.

The best way the make the broccoli slaw, in my opinion, is to buy the pre-packaged broccoli at the store and then just add mayo, cider vinegar (I also throw in some “seasoned” rice wine vinegar) and sugar and violá!

You’ll see how amazing these 4 recipes go together once to taste them in a slider…oh boy! Not to mention how gosh darn easy they are to make. You be the BBQ Slider King of the summer! Don’t forget to check out my oh so chocolatey homemade Hershey chocolate cake for dessert either…Enjoy!

 

 

#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!

Paleo Eggplant Lasagna at Christine’s

paleochrisnmePaleo Eggplant Lasagna at Christine’s

The crusty almond flour coating on the eggplant helps to soak up the meaty bolognese goodness getting ooey, gooey and decadent. Like making you feel warm all over on a winter’s day. That’s how my friend, Christine, describe’s her Paleo Eggpalnt Lasagna that we made at her house last week! She hit it right on the money.

It was Christine’s cross-fit community that introcuced her to this fresh Paleo way of living. Even though It did take a year before fully committing she has been following it for a couple of years and really loves it. Paleo refers to foods eaten during the Paleolithic times so basically if the cave man didn’t eat it, neither can you. There are different levels of Paleo, but true Paleo doesn’t allow any dairy or legumes. Not sure if being a true Paleo is exactly for me since I live for cheese and cetainly wouldn’t give up beans. Although, there are certain aspects of Paleo I think are wonderful like the fresh way of eating, nothing manufactured or processed! Like Christine say’s, everything in moderation.

This Paleo Eggplant Lasagna is definitly a guilt free dish that shouldn’t taste this darn good! You don’t even miss the cheese here because every bite is luscious! I highly recommend that you to get on the ball and check out this fresh Paleo way of eating. You won’t regret it one bit and may find yourself with a big ole smile on your face!

While you are on a freshness roll you may want to try my Guacamole, Pulled Beef and Mango Salsa, Salmon B.L.T Sliders, Seared Sea Scallops or Sweet Potato Fries with Green Goddess Sauce!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 recipe tomato-basil sauce (30 minute sauce) adding in an extra 28 oz can of puréed whole peeled tomatoes to the recipe OR Slow Cooked Old Style Italian-Tomato Sauce 101
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. gound veal
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 pkg. almond flour
  • s & p
  • coconut oil spray
  • grapeseed oil for sautéing the meats

Directions – Pre-heat Oven to 350º

  1. Make tomato- basil sauce and leave simmering on low, ready for the meats to be sautéed and added
  2. Sauté the pork, veal and lamb separately and drain the oil from each of the meats after each sautéing, this will take about 5 minutes each
  3. As each meat is finished draining stir it into your tomato sauce
  4. Peel and slice 2 lg eggplants approx. 1/8″-1/4″ thick
  5. Whisk 5 eggs in a medium bowl
  6. Add 3-4 cups almond flour in another bowl for dredging the eggplant
  7. Cover cookie tray with foil and spray with coconut oil
  8. Dip each eggplant slice into the egg, then dredge into the almond flour flipping a couple of times to get a good coating on there
  9. Then begin to lay the coated eggplant slices on the cookie trays
  10. No need to spray the tops of the slices
  11. Pop them into the oven for 20 minutes, just until tender
  12. Note: the tops of the eggplant slices will not turn golden when baked
  13. Begin to layer the pre-baked eggplant slices in a 13″ x 9″, 12″ x 8″ approx. baking dish
  14. Spray bottom of baking dish with coconut oil
  15. Begin with a sauce layer, then eggplant slices, meat sauce, eggplant, meat sauce and so on until you reach the rim of the baking dish ending with a meat sauce layer completeing the Paleo Eggplant Lasagna
  16. Change foil layers on cookie tray to clean foil
  17. Place the Paleo Eggplant Lasagna onto the foiled tray and bake for approx. 35 minutes still on 350º until bubbly all over
  18. As with a traditional lasagna you want to let it sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing after you take it out of the oven…Mangia, mangia!!

Secret Meatball Recipe at Glenn’s New Haven Apizza

Secret Meatball Recipe at Glenn’s New Haven Apizza

One of the most delicious meatballs you’ll ever have and the mammoth size will knock you for a loop! Glenn Proto, at New Haven Apizza & Bakery, right here in our very own Madison, CT, shared his mother, Annette’s, secret meatball recipe with me this week. The ingredients he use’s in his meatballs couldn’t get any fresher because he even grind’s his own meats for these meatballs. Freshly ground brisket, short ribs, 80/20 beef and Longhini sweet sausage are the main ingredients in his meatballs. Oh, but let’s not forget what he calls his “secret” to the meatballs, his addition of finely chopped pepperoni! Glenn says this is what give’s these authentic Italian meatball’s that extra special something!

Once we get past all the freshly ground meat that goes into Glenn’s meatballs the love doesn’t stop there, he then caramelizes red onions, adds in Ricotta fina (a special and costly ricotta from the very best Liuzzi Cheese in North Haven,CT, eggs, grated Romano cheese, Italian cubed up bread soaked in heavy cream, and fresh garlic and herbs! Wow, he doesn’t hold back on quality that’s for sure. What an incredible ingredient list for these most flavorful and succulent morsels. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word “morsels” either because the size of these meatball’s are cray cray! It was a blast rolling the meat mixture into bigger then baseball size meatballs with Glenn and his son Dylan. Isn’t it wonderful how the tradition carries on as Dylan and his siblings grew up making these incredible meatballs just as Glenn did. And now, we can add some of this lovely tradition into our kitchen’s since Glenn was so kind as to share his family’s recipe with all of us. He believe’s traditions and recipe’s are meant to be shared so everyone can enjoy them!

Hope you enjoy this secret meatball recipe show and remember he serve’s up 3 of these colossal meatballs in one “spaghetti and meatball” order from his restaurant! You might want to start with a few appetizer’s like my crab cakes, buffalo chicken dip, Mediterranean layered dip, spanakopita or my hummus!

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Glenn’s Mammoth Size Meatballs – makes approx 10-12 Colossal Size…Can make them smaller to yield more meatballs!

  • 2 1/2 lbs. of ground beef (.75 lbs ea. of ground brisket, short ribs and 80/20 ground beef)
  • 1 1/4 lbs. Longhini sweet sausage
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pepperoni
  • 2 cups Italian bread after soaked in heavy cream and squeezed slightly  (1 lb. about 1  loaf of Italian bread, cubed and soaked in heavy cream)
  • 2-3 cups heavy cream – to soak cubed up Italian bread
  • 3 lg eggs
  • 1 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 3/4 cup ricotta (ricotta fina if you can get it)
  • 3/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/3 heaping cup finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup caramelized red onions (finely chop 2 med. size red onions and sauté on medium/high with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter for 5 minutes and then twenty minutes on low with adding 1 tbsp sugar and 1/4 tsp salt)
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp finely ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400º
  2. Cube up the Italian loaf of bread to 3/4″ pieces
  3. Add cubed up bread to 2 – 3 cups heavy cream – should be enough to have all the pieces get saturated and soak for approx 15 minutes
  4. Add beef and sausage to a large bowl and combine with your hands
  5. Add in the pepperoni and the rest of the ingredients in the list and combine with your hands – Don’t over mixed meat …just until combined
  6. Begin to roll meat mixture into desired size meatballs dipping your hands in the left over the heavy cream to help smooth the edges of the meat while shaping them
  7. Place the meatballs onto a cookie tray..they can be right next to each other
  8. Note: the larger they are the longer you will bake them
  9. Bake for 45-60 until the tops are crispy and brown …mangia, mangia!

 

Lazy-Man’s Lasagna! – World’s Best!

Lazy-Man’s Lasagna! – World’s Best!

This world’s best lazy-man’s lasagna is the ultimate pasta dish because there is no fussing, layering or baking. It has all the ingredients and flavors of a traditional lasagna but without all the work! It’s done all-in-one pot and takes two minutes to put together after the ground meat is browned. It’s made with a tomato-basil sauce, homemade or store bought for convenience, rigatoni pasta, ricotta, mozzarella and a sautéed ground meat of your choice. The hardest part here is browning the meat, then it’s easy peasy from there on in.

When I first had this lazy-man’s lasagna it was made with ground beef. That’s the beauty of this pasta dinner you can customize it by browning up what ever your favorite meat is. I’ve actually made it with ground turkey, beef, Italian sausage and even a meatloaf mix of meats. What ever you decide I promise you it’s going to be delicious! In the show I used my favorite sweet Italian fennel sausage from Liuzzi Cheeses in North Haven, CT. I took the the sausage out of the casing and then browned it.

Usually, I serve up this lazy-man’s lasagna immediately after I combine all those yummy ingredients. Although, you can easily pour it out into a baking dish and top with one cup of shredded mozzarella to bake immediately or cover with foil and into the frig until you are ready. Granted, I do love to put together a tray of layered lasagna for the holidays but for those in between days when you want those gourmet flavors but don’t want to go through all the work this world’s best lazy-man’s lasagna is your dream come true.

You can check out my Live TV Cooking Segment on “CT STYLE”, WTNH – Channel 8 where I make Lazy-Man’s Lasagna in The Bender Kitchen with hosts Teresa Dufour and Ryan Kristafer!

If you are looking for something hardy and gourmet you should check out my Boeuf Bourguignon or Indian Spice Tomato-Cream with Snap Peas, Pulled Beef Taco’s with Mango Salsa, or for a lighter note you could check out my Swordfish with Black Bean Salsa or Asian Shrimp and Noodle Salad and for something sweet you just can’t beat Pavlova! Mangia Mangia…enjoy 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. rigatoni pasta, zit rigati or your fav pasta!
  • My 20 minute tomato-basil pasta sauce recipe or a favorite store bought brand
  • 2 lbs ground meat OR 3 cups after browned of: ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, meatloaf mix, or sweet fennel sausage (Liuzzi makes my favorite sweet and spicy Italian fennel sausage)
  • 1 lb. whole milk ricotta (really easy to make your OWN HOMEMADE – check it out!)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella – 2 cups to mix into the lazy-man’s lasagna plus additional 1 cup to sprinkle on top if you are going to put the pasta into a baking dish to bake later
  • grated Parmesan
  • fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Brown the ground meat in a sauce pan on medium high heat
  2. Drain the meat to remove excess oil in a small strainer over a bowl
  3. Put the meat back into the pan on medium high heat add 1/3 cup of red wine to de-glaze the sauce pan scrapping up the little brown bits stuck the bottom of the pan
  4. Keep the browned meat on warm
  5. Heat tomato-basil sauce through – you want it hot to melt the mozzarella
  6. Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente …(Having a pinch of firmness to it so it’s not overly cooked)
  7. Drain the pasta and put it back into the same pan
  8. Immediately add 2 cups of hot tomato-basil sauce, 1 lb. of ricotta, 2 cups of mozzarella, 3 cups of browned meat and begin to stir
  9. Add another 1-1 1/2 cups of tomato-basil sauce
  10. Mix ingredients until combined and pour out into a serving platter
  11. Sprinkle with Parmesan and julienne fresh basil…mangia mangia 🙂

Gourmet Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Gourmet Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

These gourmet sausage stuffed mushrooms are literally the easiest appetizer ever. Wipe the mushrooms off with a damp paper towel or mushroom brush, add your favorite sausage and bake for 15-20 minutes! There is no need for chopping or sauteing. You remove the sausage meat out of the casing it comes in, fill the mushroom caps and viola! In this recipe I used two pork sausages Italian garlic herb, and a chorizo sausage made with spices like chili and paprika. I also used two chicken sausages one made with jalapeño, fennel and cilantro and the other with feta and spinach that I bought at Whole Foods Markets.

There are so many specialty sausages to choose from out there that you can’t go wrong stuffing these baby bells! All the work is done for you so take advantage of these gourmet sausage products and stuff these mushrooms for an incredibly scrumptious appetizer that will continue to get raves from your guests.

Mushrooms are probably one of my favorite vegetables to eat. Give me Chanterelle mushrooms in a brandy cream sauce and I am in complete heaven. But here all you need is a simple button shaped mushroom with some room under the cap for filling.You can use a white button mushroom for these gourmet sausage stuffed mushrooms but what I prefer are Baby Bells because they are packed with flavor.

Another great specialty meat product called D’Artagnan offers many different sausages. One in particular is a mix of pork, duck, duck liver and egg white and is out of this world! This type of sausage is called Boudin and is very popular in New Orleans. It has distinct flavors that you might just start to crave after you have tried it. I really like D’Artagnan and I have found that Bishops Orchards Market in Guilford, CT carries a wide variety of their products. This brand offers a lot of duck products which Bishops also carries. Anything with duck or goose whether it be breast or liver is a no brainer in my book…YUM!

You can have these stuffed mushrooms for hors’ d oeurves before serving stuffed roulades of chicken on a garlic-bean puréeAsian shrimp & rice noodle saladturkey stuffed peppers or Chilean sea bass with green goddess sauce II for dinner.

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Ingredients – Makes 20-24 Stuffed Mushrooms:

  • 2 pkgs of baby bella mushrooms (2- 8 oz. pkgs. will get you 20 and 2-10 oz. will get you 24)
  • 1 lb. – a variety of your favorite flavored sausages
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper- (for after the mushrooms come out of the oven)
  • Fresh shaved Reggiano Parmesano
  • Fresh chopped chives for garnish

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400º
  2. Clean your baby Bella mushrooms off with either a damp paper towel or a mushroom brush … you should NEVER wash your mushrooms or submerse them in water because mushrooms are porous.
  3. Pop out the mushroom stems
  4. Drizzle 2-3 Tbsp olive oil across a cookie sheet and rub it with your hands or use a brush to smear all of the olive oil across the baking sheet
  5. Place all of the baby bella mushroom caps on the olive oil and roll them around lightly coating mushrooms then make sure they are all open side up on cookie tray
  6. Slice open the sausage casings to get the sausage meat out and place on a small dish
  7. Begin to gently fill mushroom caps with approximately 1 1/2 Tbsp of sausage per mushroom (some may be smaller and only need 1 Tbsp)
  8. Do not pack in sausage just lightly stuff mushroom caps
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes til slightly crispy on the edges
  10. DO NOT SALT the mushrooms before you bake them because all the water will release from the mushrooms and they will steam instead of baking
  11. When you take the mushrooms out of the oven THEN you can sprinkle a little salt
  12. The mushrooms will be juicy when you take them out of the oven so before you place them on a serving dish tilt them a little over the cookie tray that way some of the juice can drain out onto the tray and not on the serving platter
  13. Shave a little Parmesan and chives on the mushrooms and serve

Homemade Pasta Fagioli

Homemade Pasta Fagioli

This homemade pasta fagioli dish is a traditional Italian soup where the recipe differs from family to family and region to region. Every single version is different which makes it nice because it’s very personal that way. It’s what ever you were used to having in your own home or at your relatives growing up. Originally, pasta fagioli was made without meat, then there were versions that started the dish off by sauteing pancetta and now there are so many different recipes floating around. It’s what ever floats your boat really! It’s supposed to be easy gourmet…what ever you have in the pantry and refrigerator will work.

Pasta fagioli is a savory comfort food that I just love. It consist of several universal ingredients like ditalini pasta,  cannellini beans, some kind of tomato base and a liquid of either chicken, or vegetable and I have even seen water used. It’s been considered a soup which is perfect for dunking that crusty bread but there are versions that make it more like a thick saucy “pasta” dish. The liquids do evaporate quickly after the pasta is added to the pot and cooked through so you have to be careful at this point to keep an eye on that if you want it to have a looser soup-like consistency.

The pronunciation of the word has evolved to “pasta fazool”. Then again, there are many variations of that as well 🙂 So enjoy this Italian soup…I know you will love it. If you need an appetizer to go with this gourmet homemade pasta fagioli you may want to check out my sea scallops wrapped in bacon, scallop cerviche, or even a refreshing fennel and citrus salad with tangerine dressingAnd how about some Pavlova with fresh pineapple and berries for dessert!

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INGREDIENTS For Pasta Fagioli (makes enough for many…15-20 side dishes):

  • 2 cans cannellini beans
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup ditalini pasta ( 1/2 if you want it looser soup-like consistencey …remember it just keeps getting thicker even after you take it off the stove as the liquid evaporates)
  • 1 qt. (4 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine-pinot grigio or what ever you are drinking -(1/2 to deglaze pancetta and veggies and 1/2 when you add stock
  • 1/3 cup each diced carrots, celery and onion
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 cups whole peeled tomatoes with some juice, broken up with your hands – NOTE: USE 3 cups if you are not using a cup of “leftover pork & sauce”
  • 1 cup pork in tomato sauce OR 1 lb. sausage taken out of the casing ready to sauté OR omit all together
  • 2 1/4″ sliced of pancetta diced up
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary and 2 of fresh thyme tied in up with string
  • Fresh basil -julienne to add at the end
  • grated Reggiano Parmigiano and some to shave for decoration
  • good olive oil to drizzle at the end
  • 1/2 tsp salt -add 1/4 tsp at the addition of sauteing veggies and 1/4 tsp when you add beans and broth
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes if you like a pinch of HEAT

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add diced pancetta to a large pan and begin to sauté for 8 minutes on med heat
  2. Add in broken up sausage to brown with the pancetta If you do not have “pork in sauce”
  3. On med/low heat add diced carrots, onion, celery and garlic with 1/4 tsp salt (along with 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes if you want a little heat) to the same pot with 1 tbsp olive oil extra – sauté til veggies are tender 10 minutes
  4. De-glaze with 1/2 cup white wine and simmer 5 minutes
  5. Add in beans, pork-sauce, whole peeled tomatoes, herb bouquet, chicken stock, 1/4 salt, 1/4 pepper and simmer for 30 minutes
  6. Remove herb bouquet from soup
  7. Take 4-5 ladles of beans out of the soup to puree for a little creamier then adding back in
  8. Simmer 5 minutes and add in 1/2 cup ditalini pasta
  9. Cook til pasta is cooked – approx 7 minutes
  10. Plate up and drizzle olive oil, sprinkle parmigiano cheese and fresh basil and mangia mangia!

 

Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ

Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ

Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ is real fine homemade gourmet BBQ with a mustard base sauce that makes you pucker, all awhile biting into a succulent piece of pork rib that just melts in your mouth. The savory hickory smoked flavor of their ribs is something you will definitely be back for with out a whole lot of time lapsing in between visits. The mustard-vinegar based sauce just grows on you and you can’t really put your finger on it so you just keep dipping into this sauce for another lick. I recently had the opportunity to eat here when my son Reilly and I met up with his tennis team in South Carolina for his National Team competition.

Well, I tell you, when I travel I want to visit places to eat where their heart and soul is served up to you on a plate.  To taste different foods from other regions is one of the most wonderful opportunities we get when we travel. If you are not into this kind of thing you ought to open your self up and try to appreciate new tastes and ways to prepare foods that have become traditions for people in that region. That’s what makes the world such a diverse place with so many different flavors to soak up.

I decided that during our stay in South Carolina I wanted to accomplish a few of things before heading back. First off, was having Southern BBQ, of course! The second was to get my son, Reilly, to Carowinds Amusement Park in North Carolina which would be an easy task since we were flying in and out of Charlotte and the third was to get in a couple rounds of golf! My friend Luanne, one of the other tennis mom’s, had the same point of view as me on the whole Southern BBQ thing and tasting new foods from where ever you happen to be traveling especially if you are miles away from where you live. On one of the afternoons at tennis practice much of our group was ready to hit up Chic-fil-A AGAIN! I am happy to say that didn’t even enter my mind nor did I go there during our stay in South Carolina. I looked at my friend Luanne , we began to laugh and said lets go, lets do REAL BBQ. She had already looked it up on her phone and it wasn’t far from The Cayce Tennis Facility so off we went in my rental car.

It was the tastiest meal I had on this trip to South Carolina and it totally lived up to my BBQ standards. I ordered the pork ribs, collard greens, and coleslaw and needless to say I wore much of it that mustard based BBQ sauce all over the front of my white with navy blue pinstripe cotton dress I had on. Too funny but it was definitely worth it…should have gotten a picture of that 🙂 The ribs  were moist and falling of the bone tender slathered in their mustard-vinegar sauce and I can’t help but love that hickory smoked flavor. The collard greens were delicious, earthy but not too bitter and the chopped style coleslaw was a refreshing balance with the mustard sauce from the ribs. Each item complemented one another very well! I did buy a bottle of Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ sauce to take home with me. They have quite the assortment of sauces to choose from (shown below) but I bought the one I had that day. To my surprise I was able to get the yellow mustard stain completely out of my dress before it dried.

On the last day Reilly and I headed to Carowinds Amusement Park and he had the time of his life bravely riding on several loop coasters over and over again! We actually found another gourmet BBQ eatery in downtown Charlotte which was a bonus. I was also able to get in two rounds of golf during our stay so it was a wonderful trip all around. Don’t you forget to treat yourself to Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ when you are in Cayce, South Carolina …you won’t regret it!

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BEST Manicotti Ever Recipe

BEST Manicotti Ever Recipe

Yes, I am giving up the good’s on this one and I know you will appreciate it because this is one of my very favorite secret recipes that has been in our family for generations! My mother Maria taught me how to make these homemade gourmet manicotti when I was young and now I am thrilled to pass this very special dish on to you.

These are the BEST homemade manicotti I have EVER tasted and I know you will love them too. They are a poured pasta, a crêpe so to speak and are light and fluffy.  I’m partial to Liuzzi’s homemade whole milk ricotta, and I user a mix of mozzarella’s from Scamorza, which is a slightly salted/dryer mozzarella to whole milk and skim milk mozzarella. I start off with either my tomato-basil pasta sauce or my pasta sauce 101 for the homemade manicotti. These are an especially festive and a special dish to make for the holidays.

This manicotti batter is poured like a crêpe. It’s light and airy like a crepe but definitely different in texture. The texture of the crêpe is a pasta texture, creamy and soft. These manicotti shells (crêpes) are truly gourmet and you’ll will appreciate how delicate a dish this really is when you make them for your own family and friends. My turkey meatballs would go great with this holiday dish also.  A spread of spiral ham or roasted lamb with gourmet manicotti and turkey meatballs …who’s better than you?!

It’s nice to serve a refreshing salad with pasta like my Caesar Salad then maybe an appetizer like crab cakes and sides like Roasted Beet Salad with Mint and Feta or Yogurt Chicken Kabobs. A light pavlova dessert with fresh pineapple and berries would make the perfect end for this manicotti dinner.

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Ingredients:

    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 cup water
    • 1/4 Tsp salt
    • 4 extra large eggs
    • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
    • 3 lbs. Liuzzi whole milk or “fina style” (a finer ricotta), or your favorite
    • 5 0z. shredded whole milk, 5 oz. park skim and 5 oz. Scamorza mozzarella mixed together
    • (you can also do 8 oz. whole milk and 8 oz. part skim shedded and mixed)
    • 5″ cast iron pan or 5″ non-stick pan
    • Baking pan approx. 11″ x 16″

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl whisk 1 cup flour, 1/4 Tsp salt with 1 cup water (approx. 20 whisks)
  2. Add in 1 egg at a time and whisk about 5 whisks per egg
  3. Put cast iron pan on stove on medium/high heat (a 7 out of an 11)
  4. Put a couple of Tbsp of olive oil in a bowl with a paper towel
  5. Rub pan with olive oil-saturated paper towel in between cooking poured pasta batter
  6. Pour in a ladle of batter into hot pan, approx. a little less than 1/4 cup laddle
  7. Pick up pan and swirl around 3 times and place back down onto stove
  8. Wait about 25 seconds and flip pasta crepe over, you can use a flexible pastry knife to help you get under it…it will be easy to flip and will not ever be stuck
  9. You never want the pasta crepe to be golden on the edges-that would be over cooking them…they should look like the photo above light in color
  10. Immediately flip over onto floured board and flip a couple of times to cool a little
  11. Repeat dredging saturated paper towel into pan to coat and then pour another 1/4 cup ladle of batter into pan.
  12. Repeat this over and over until you run out of batter…this amount will make 16 manicotti
  13. When you are done lay out a work board to roll manicotti’s on
  14. Put ricotta in a bowl so it’s easy to work with
  15. Pour about 2 cup of tomato sauce into the baking pan
  16. Lay out manicotti crepe and scoop 1/4 cup ricotta going across the center of the circle as shown in the photo
  17. Lay a piece of mozzarella in the center and roll up manicotti
  18. Place rolled manicotti on top of sauce in pan and continue on until all the pasta crepes are done
  19. Pour another 2-2 1/2 cups of sauce on top of roll manicotti’s, sprinkle with parmesan and cover with foil
  20. Place in frig until you are ready to bake
  21. Or cover with saran and then foil and put into the freezer until your event is near and then pull out two nights before and put into the frig to thaw
  22. When you are ready to bake your manicotti put into a 350º oven and bake for 45 minutes
  23. The manicotti will be bubbly when you take it out of the oven and need to rest for 5 minutes before serving

Bolognese Sauce Easy Gourmet

Bolognese Sauce Easy Gourmet RECIPE

025This homemade gourmet bolognese Sauce is like no other that I have ever had. Over the years I have worked hard to perfect this recipe to match a dish I used to have in Urbino, Italy. So all the hard work is done for you and now all you have to do is follow my recipe and savour over the most amazing and unique Bolognese sauce you’ll ever have.

During my college years I had the opportunity to go school in Urbino, Italy for a summer and fall semester. Urbino is a little Renaissance town located in the Marche region of Italy. It was two hours East of Florence (near the town of Pesaro on the east coast). It’s where black and white truffles are prevalent. The picture above is of Urbino, The Palazzo Ducale which now houses part of The Marche National Gallery. This renaissance town of Urbino is also where the great artist Raffaello was born in 1483. I had the opportunity to study renaissance art, restoration and language in Italy at the University of Urbino …being an art major and all I was in heaven living here!

Urbino was a magnificent place to be for all those months (which never seemed long enough) allowing me to fall in love with their art, their culture and the people there in Italy and what it’s really all about …big kinds hearts with a passion for enjoying life, and an amazing culinary appreciation!

The tender Prosciutto di Parma to mouth watering homemade pasta dishes found most places in Italy is to die for but there’s one bolognese dish in particular that I had in a restaurant in Urbino made with “strozzapreti” pasta which really stood out for me. The sauce was made with sautéed ground veal, ground pork, veal stock, heavy cream, red wine and fresh rosemary where the aromas alone will knock your socks off!  This is the dish, the bolognese sauce, in which I have derived my recipe from and the one in which I wish to share with you.  You should note that homemade gourmet bolognese recipe is NOT to be made with BEEF because it completely changes the flavors and does not taste at all like the oringinal bolognese recipe from Urbino.

I recently found this uniquely shaped pasta that they served the bolognese sauce with in Urbino called “StrozzaPreti” at one of my favorite local specialty shops, a gourmet cheese shop called Fromage right here in Old Saybrook, CT.  See, you can make my bolognese sauce and have it with the original pasta it was meant to be with. And while you are there you should pick up some white truffle oil to drizzle over the pasta sauce.

If you want this recipe to be gluten free you could always substitute out the pasta or gnocchi with a rice noodle and if you can’t have heavy cream you can substitute that with coconut cream and it would be just as delicious.

A marriage made in heaven is this bolognese sauce on my light and fluffy homemade potato gnocchi! Or try it on your own homemade pasta, and don’t forget a Caesar Salad! Last but not least you will need to tame that sweet tooth with a dessert like Pavlova, or Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie! Enjoy! 🙂

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INGREDIENTS: Serves 10-12 people or more if for appetizers.    

NOTE: THIS SAUCE FREEZES AMAZINGLY WELL so if you have sauce left over freeze in a container right away and all the hard work is DONE!

  • NOTE: DO NOT USE BEEF …this recipe will NOT have the right flavors if you use beef
  • 1 lb. ground veal
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1/3  cup grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup grated celery
  • 1 cup grated Vadalia Onion
  • 2 extra lg garlic cloves
  • 2 cups whole peeled tomatoes and juice
  • 2 slices applewood smoked or plain bacon cooked and finely chopped (approx 3 Tbsp finely chopped)
  • 1 1/2 cups good red wine
  • 2 cups heavy cream (or 2 cups coconut cream)
  • approx. 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1  1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Reggiano Parmesano cheese and more to finish
  • 1  tsp  and 1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • White Truffle Oil (Optional)
  • 1 lb. dried Egg fettuccine or Strozzapreti pasta found at Fromage

Directions:

  1. Add 3 tbsp olive oil to lg pan on medium/low
  2. Add grated carrots, celery, onion and smashed garlic cloves to olive oil and sauté for 12 minutes til light golden and soft
  3. Deglaze by adding 1/4 cup red wine, stir, add 1/2 tsp salt and continue to sauté until wine evaporates
  4. Add these cooked veggies to food processor with 2 cups whole peeled tomatoes and juice
  5. Pureé and set aside
  6. Add 3 tbsp olive oil to same pan and bring to med/high temp and then add 1 lb. only of veal/pork (1/2 veal, 1/2 pork)
  7. Keep on med/high temp and brown meat
  8. Deglaze first batch of meat with 1/4 cup red wine, stir, reduce and set aside in a med bowl
  9. Add 3 tbsp more olive oil back to same pan to brown next 1 lb. of ground veal/pork
  10. Repeating steps 6-9
  11. Put all browned meat back into pan and add in 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, pureed tomato/veggie mixture, and 1/4 cup red wine, 3 tbsp finely chopped crispy bacon, and 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  12. Cover (leave small opening for steam to evaporate) and simmer for 1 1/2 hrs. stirring every 20 minutes making sure to let steam from inside cover drain out of pan when you lift it off to stir
  13. Add in 2 cups heavy cream, 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary, 1/2 cup red wine and s&p to taste and simmer for 5-8 minutes …just need to warm thru
  14. Boil 1 lb. pasta and add to bolognese sauce …mangia mangia!