Tag Archives: heavy cream

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!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Girl Scouts Thin Mint Chocolate Mousse Pie

Girl Scouts Thin Mint Chocolate Mousse Pie

This Girl Scouts thin mint chocolate mousse pie is absolutely delicious!  The oh so chocolaty mousse is light and lucious and melts in your mouth. The texture’s of the pie are undenialbly one of my favorite aspects of the pie. It goes from the cool, silky mousse to the crunchy cookie crumble in the crust with subtle hints of mint.

Although you do bake the thin mint crust for a mere 8 minutes, this is a no-bake, no fuss, chocolate mousse filling. The crunchie crust is made with puréed Girl Scout Cookies, butter and sugar. In the same food processor that the thin mint cookies were just puréed, the chocolate mousse starts off with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.  Then boiling heavy cream is streamed into the opening at the top to melt the chips as they spin into a smooth and creamy chocolate delight. This chocolate is cooled to room temperature and folded into whipped heavy cream for the finale. It’s one of those special dessert’s that’s so uncomplicated you’ll find yourself making it more than just once.

Having my daughter’s Girl Scout troop in my kitchen making this thin mint chocolate mousse pie was so much fun! We are very fortunate for our wonderful leader, Jen Swenson, who is generous with her efforts and time with the troop. It’s one of those precious things in life that the girls will treasure always.

Those of you who love the good ole mint-chocolate flavors will go crazy for this dessert. Those of you who aren’t partial to that flavor combo might be surprised how suble and sweet the thin mint crust is …tamed by the butter maybe! And like I told Maisy in the show, you can always just eat the chocolate mousse middle!

If you are looking for some appetizer’s to start off this Girl Scouts Thin Mint Chocolate Mousse Pie extravaganza you should try my Salsa 101 or Best Guacamole Ever!  Maybe you are more in the mood for Zucchini Torta or a main dish like one of my all time favorite’s Stuffed Peppers or Chicken Piccata…both dishes you’ll add to your week day meals once you have your first bite! Enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients for Girl Scouts Thin Mint Crust Pre-Heat oven to 350º :

  • 28 Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies – 1 3/4 sleeve …(a few left over for nibbling on)
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 10″ pie plate, or 9″ spring form pan, OR 9″ pie plate & cups for the extra chocolate mousse you will have

Directions for the Girl Scouts Thin Mint Crust:

  1. Melt 5 tbsp butter, set aside
  2. Add 28 cookies to the food processor and pulse 3-4 times until they are a fine crumb
  3. Pour in melted butter and 2 tbsp sugar and pulse 10 seconds to combine
  4. Turn out crumb mixture into a 10″ pie plate, or 9″ spring form pan
  5. NOTE: If you only have a 9″ pie plate NO WORRIES just add the excess chocolate mousse to cups or glasses, topping with cookies crumble and set the same in the frig for 4-6 hours or even freeze for a later date!
  6. Press cookie crumb mixture all along the bottom and up the edges of the pie dish forming the crust
  7. Put the pie crust into a 350º oven for 8 minutes
  8. Take out and completely cool

Ingredients for Chocolate Mousse:

  • 3 cups heavy cream – 2 cups for whipping the heavy cream/ 1 cup for melting the chocolate chips in the food processor
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 bag mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions for the Chocolate Mousse:

  1. Wipe thin mint cookie crumbs out of food processor and add mini chocolate chips
  2. Add vanilla and pinch of salt
  3. Add 1 cup heavy cream to small sauce pan and bring to a boil
  4. Place cover on food processor, turn on and slowly add hot cream thru opening at top
  5. Keep it running for about 20-30 seconds until chips are melted and creamy
  6. Empty out into a bowl to cool, only cool to room temperature NOT COLD because the chocolate will solidify and it will be difficult to fold into the whipped cream
  7. When chocolate is close to room temp add 2 cups heavy cream to a large glass bowl with 1/4 cup sugar and begin to whisk with electric beater
  8. Whisk the cream until stiff peaks, 3-5 minutes
  9. Fold 1/2 cup at a time of the room temp chocolate into the whipped cream until there’s none left
  10. Pour out chocolate mousse into the COMPLETELY cooled baked pie crust and smooth out top with a offset spatula
  11. Sprinkle thin mint cookie crumble over the top and place into the frig for 4-6 hours
  12. Slice and serve with whipped cream…yum!

Creamed Onions

Creamed Onions

Creamed Onions, inspired by my Grandma Reilly, are put together in mere minutes then baked in the oven until bubbly making for the perfectly saucey side dish. My secret ingredient in the creamed onions offers a suble flavor bringing together the heavy cream, half and half, white wine, chicken broth, and mild Emmentaler Swiss cheese.

The secret addition in these creamed onions that give’s this dish that extra special something is evaporated milk. A small amount of Emmentaler is the other delicate flavor. Emmentaler is a very mild swiss cheese with remarkable melting qualities usually found in fondue recipe’s. I never got the recipe from my Grandma but thru many yummy test runs figured it out and have been making this recipe for over 15 years.

I began reminiscing about my Grandma’s Reilly’s holiday dishes when Pem McNerney, Living Editor, for The Source and other Shoreline newpapers recently sent me an email with a list of questions pertaining to Thanksgiving asking me if I wanted to elaborate, I was happy to oblige. Look for the hyper-links below the creamed onion recipe to help with your Thanksgiving Dinner!

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Ingredients for Creamed Onions:

  • 2 frozen bags (approx 2 lbs.) of white pearls onions 14 – 16 oz each bag
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup white wine- chardonay
  • 1/2 chicken broth
  • 1 small can evaporated milk (the 5 oz can)
  • 1/2 cup grated Emmentaler Swiss cheese
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated blk pepper OR white pepper

Directions for Creamed Onions:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add frozen white pearl onions
  2. Bring back to a simmer, and keep simmering for 20 minutes
  3. Mix corn starch and Emmentaler cheese in a small bowl, set aside
  4. Remove simmering pearl onions to the baking dish with a slotted spoon
  5. Drain water from sauce pan
  6. Using SAME pan (no need to clean) add heavy cream, half and half, evaporated milk, chix broth, and salt and pepper and bring to a low bubbling simmer
  7. Whisk in Emmentaler cheese-corn starch mixture until combined, 20 seconds…keep whisking until melted in and then…
  8. Remove from heat immediately and pour over onions in baking dish
  9. Stir to even coating onions and bake for 35 minutes on 350º until bubbly, it will be golden around the egdes
  10. Note: Grilled ribeye or Filet Mignon, creamed onions and a drizzle of truffle oil is OUTRAGEOUS! Enjoy! 🙂
  11. NOTE: These creamed onions get even better when re-heated because the onions break down a little and melt into the sauce…MMM!

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Thanksgiving Memories

When I think of Thanksgiving many nostalgic memories come rushing in. It’s easy to do with all the aroma’s of this festive season.  The first fond memories I had of Thanksgiving were going to Grandma Reilly’s house having her homemade pies and creamed onions! The blueberry pie with a crispy, flaky crust and oozing sweet blueberries was my favorite. Her lemon meringue pie at a very close second. Not that her creamed onions didn’t leave a huge impression on me. Unfortunately, I never did get her pie crust recipes but have spent many hours fooling with pie crusts until I got it right, my “perfect pie crust in 5 minutes” with a “blueberry pie” filling to emulate her’s! –  http://thetravelingepicurean.com/perfect-pie-crust-in-5-minutes/  and  http://thetravelingepicurean.com/best-blueberry-pie/ .

The hard thing about Thanksgiving is there are so many dishes to make it can be exhausting. There’s the dilemma of which one’s are tradition, which one’s your favorite and can I eliminate any of them? The best answer is don’t be a control freak or a kitchen hog and have everyone join in doing their part, laughing, mixing, tasting, working along side of you. It’s ok to delegate out some of those tasks. Then it doesn’t seem like work at all! This being said, one Thanksgiving in particular comes to mind. Years ago while living in San Francisco my dear friends Lisa, Bobby, Pam and John came out West with their children and parents to visit more family and invited us to stay with them as well.  

This was a grand occasion, not only was I excited to be with my nostalgic East coast friend’s for this Thanksgiving holiday but they rented out The Historic Spreckels House in Sonoma, CA. It was breathtaking! We went wine tasting, played football on the grounds, and read lots of storybook’s to the little ones. The lasting impression for me here was all the fun we had in the kitchen. We all pitched in together to make a gourmet Thanksgiving dinner that could have been a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. My contribution to the dinner were my “Easy Icebox Dinner Rolls” that I dredged in chopped green onion and fresh rosemary. Nothing like adding to the aroma’s of roasted turkeys then with that of fresh baked breads. – http://thetravelingepicurean.com/easy-icebox-dinner-rolls-2/

The great thing about these icebox rolls is you can make the dough 4 days ahead. I call that brilliant! It’s key to staying sane on a holiday like Thanksgiving. These rolls have turned into tradition for me and my family, a dish that everyone asks about when ever they arrive. My friend Laura, and loyal Traveling Epicurean follower from Carmel, California will text me pictures of her “easy icebox rolls” every Thanksgiving. She writes, “it’s a family tradition and traditions create memories that last for generations.”

The most important thing about preparing for a holiday like Thanksgiving is timing. For instance, the pie crusts can easily be made a month ahead and put into the freezer. Take them out two days before to thaw. Roll them out, get them into your pie dish and back into the fridge until the night before when you can put together filling’s and bake.

Roasting the brussel sprouts on a cookie tray with chopped garlic, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper is another time saver. Set aside after roasting in a heat proof serving dish and warm right before sitting down. This is the most delicious way I have ever had brussel sprouts. Once you try this way you’ll be hooked. – http://thetravelingepicurean.com/best-brussel-sprouts-ever/

My tip of the day: “Wondra flour” for your gravy is a God send! Don’t waste your time fussing with a roux! Is it too lumpy, will it dissolve, is it too thick, did the raw flour taste cook out? Forget about it… Wondra dissolves immediately and gives your gravy a luscious sheen in mere minutes. Yeah!

It’s funny because most of my friends who came out to stay with me when I was living in San Francisco knew they were to bring a tub of Mashmallow Fluff and a shrunk-wrapped pizza from Modern Apizza in New Haven. A couple of my favorite’s that you couldn’t get out there. Yet, the side dish that baffle’s me the most on Thanksgiving is the marshmallow’s on sweet potatoes. It’s something i just can’t wrap my brain around. The fact is, my confusion of why someone want’s marshmallow’s baked on sweet potatoes doesn’t really matter because this dish has been around since the early 1900’s. It is a tradition for many family’s on Thanksgiving. That to me say’s it all. Now nuts in cranberry sauce? I won’t even go there.

How I love this holiday and sharing other friend’s traditions with my children. Last year my kids and I had a blast on Thanksgiving meeting my family out at  an early Thanksgiving brunch, then it was off to my friend’s Marco and Sheryl’s Lathrop Manor in Norwich, CT, where they also reside. At dinner time we sat down with a house full of their relatives and friends to Marco’s gourmet dinner. His buttery mashed potatoes were over the top!. Conversation at dinner had my kids learning about Benedict Arnold and Connecticut history. Come to find out Arnold actually lived in this Lathrop Manor in the seventeenth century working as an apprentice to the Lathrops, the first apothecary in Connecticut…in this part of the world! Their Lathrop Manor is being remodeling right now but you can check out this very cool house in one of The Traveling Epicurean shows called “Salmon B.L T’s at Marco’s” – http://thetravelingepicurean.com/gourmet-salmon-b-l-t-sliders-at-marcos/

This Thanksgiving I am looking forward to going to my parents house early. Having them spend time with my children, seeing my brother and his family, then off to dear friends for a second round of festivities later on! Making more fun memories unique to each one of us! Family, friends and food bringing us all together once again. May you be thankful for having the chance to spend precious time with your family and friend’s this 2016 Thanksgiving Holiday!!

Warm Holiday Wishes,                                                                                                                               The Traveling Epicurean                                                                                                                             Michel Vejar

Thanksgiving Pictures of The Spreckles House in Sonoma, California

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Lobster Mac & Cheese at David & Eileen’s

Lobster Mac & Cheese at David & Eileen’s

With this homemade gourmet lobster mac & cheese at David & Eileen’s you get the best of both worlds! Two of my very favorite things to eat all in the same dish! What more could you ask for? What, did someone say “smoked Gouda, please”? The Lobster goes with out saying and for those of you who appreciate that slightly salty, yet sweet and rich in every meaty bite know what I’m talking about. Then to add this succulent lobster to pasta that’s covered in a delicate, smokey, cheesy sauce put’s it right over the top!

When my dear friends David and Eileen suggested making lobster mac & cheese for my cooking show it was like bells went off. I thought it was a great idea. David had discussed the idea with our other foodie friend, Marco, who offered up his recipe to David. Marco and his wife, Sheryl, own an Inn near by called Lathrop Manor where Marco cooks up a five course gourmet breakfast if you’re a guest there.  Marco was also the chef in my “Salmon BLT Sliders at Marco’s Show” from this past summer. Needless to say, our group here loves to cook, eat and have fun. Even frequenting the Farm and Vine Dinner’s at The Ocean House together. 

Sharing family recipes, like Dave and Laurie did with their yummy “Caruso Salad” and the amazing lobster mac & cheese recipe between Marco and David is what brings friends together. Cooking, eating, laughing and enjoying each other’s company is the foundation of life in all cultures around the world . I am grateful to have such wonderful family and friends to do this with.

I hope you enjoy this homemade “Lobster Mac & Cheese at David & Eileen’s” show as much as we did making it! Have fun with this recipe. You may also want to check out my Caesar Salad for a side dish or some Arancini Reuben Balls, stuffed mushrooms ,or baked asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto for an appetizer. Although , we don’t have David’s incredible chocolate meringue pie recipe yet, you could check out a chocolate pecan pie recipe that’s to die for.

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Ingredients for Lobster Mac & Cheese at David and Eileen’s:

  • 2 Lobsters – meat from 2 – 1 1/2 lb. steamed lobsters
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 2 small onion finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp lobster base – OPTIONAL it gives a wonderful flavor to the dish… we did forget to add it in the show and the lobster mac & cheese was still delicioso!
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups smoked Gouda
  • 1 1/2 cups Cabot cheddar or similar
  • 1 lb. cellentani pasta or elbow
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp garlic granules
  • 1/4 tsp onion granules
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • s&p
  • 2 tbsp rm temp butter for coating the baking dish

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Directions for Lobster Mac & Cheese at David and Eileen’s:

  1. Per-Heat oven to 400º
  2. Coat the baking dish with 2 tbsp rm temp butter and set aside
  3. Cook Pasta til firm in salted water- al dente (2 minutes less than directions call for)
  4. Drain and rinse to cool pasta and set aside
  5. Melt butter in sauté pan
  6. Sauté the chopped onion til soft and translucent
  7. Add a s&p
  8. Warm milk in a pan on low heat
  9. Add flour to onions to make a roux
  10. Continue on stove stirring mixture for 1 minute to cook out raw flour flavor
  11. Gradually add warmed milk to roux while continuing to whisk so as not to get lumps
  12. Add in bay leaves
  13. Cook over medium heat while stirring until sauce thickens
  14. Taste here to see if you need more salt and pepper
  15. Add in lobster base
  16. Simmer for a few minutes
  17. Turn heat to low and add in smoked Gouda and cheddar while whisking
  18. Sauce should have consistency of heavy cream
  19. Mix pasta, sauce and lobster meat
  20. Transfer to an oven safe baking dish
  21. Add in heavy cream and 1/4 cup Parmesan and mix gently
  22. Make the breadcrumbs by combining breadcrumbs, Parmesan, onion and garlic granules, s&p and 2 tbsp olive oil
  23. Mix with you hands or a spoon and sprinkle evenly over the lobster mac & cheese
  24. Bake in a 400º oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly
  25. NOTE: The pasta will absorb a lot of liquid in the beginning when you first mix it, AND then when you bake it, AND as it sits, AND then as it cools, so it’s a good thing to have a little extra sauce in the beginning …it will keep absorbing -you don’t want a dry lobster mac and cheese sauce 🙂

 

 

Best Blueberry Pie!

Best Blueberry Pie!

There’s nothing like fresh blueberries simmering in a buttery, flaky pie crust with aromatic fruit juices getting bubbly and syrupy. It’s tough to let this mouth watering concoction cool for three hours when all you really want to do is scoop some vanilla ice cream over a slice letting the cream melt onto the crispy crust and gooey berries submerging oneself into pie heaven! This might just be the perfect dessert bite!

There are recipes out there that have you use flour as a thickener in some fruit pies but with this best blueberry pie recipe I think it’s important to use cornstarch. Blueberries release so much juice the best one for the job is cornstarch. You can add orange zest or lemon zest to brighten up the flavors and then there’s always cinnamon or nutmeg. Blueberries happen to be one of my favorite fruits and I feel that they are already flavorful enough so I only add one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to balance everything out. Blueberries are also considered to be one of the healthiest fruits out there offering up one of the highest levels of antioxidants of all fruits and vegetables so I think it’s a win-win here!

Cutting out decorative leaf shapes (or what ever shape you like) from the top sheet of pie crust is a no brainer for me because it’s so gosh darn easy to do, it looks like you spent all day on it and it’s very forgiving. When it bakes in the oven getting golden, crispy and slightly shiny from brushing on the egg wash it’s going to look and taste amazing no matter what!

This best blueberry pie recipe might just become your decadent dessert ritual for your holiday dinners! Making the “perfect pie crust in 5 minutes” a week or two ahead of time and popping it into the freezer until you need it is a great way to cut down on some of the work that’s involved in throwing a Thanksgiving dinner or any holiday feast for that matter. If you get ambitious you iphone pictures 2419can always add a chocolate pecan pie into the mix. To help save some time with the side dishes you might try these roasted brussel spouts. They are so delicious roasted like this you’ll never eat them any other way. Have fun and enjoy 🙂

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 1/2 cups blueberries (that’s after you have sorted thru bad berries…start with 5 cups to have enough)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 corn starch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cut up cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • “Perfect Pie Crust in 5 Minutes!” recipe
  • Parchment paper for rolling out pie dough
  • 1 1/2 ” – 2″ pie leaf cut outs or what ever shape cookie cutter you want to dress the top of the pie with instead of using a whole sheet of pie crust dough

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Trace the edge of the pie plate onto both pieces of parchment paper
  2. Roll out 1/2 of the pie crust at a time in between two pieces of parchment with circle drawing on the outside
  3. When the dough is rolled out to approx 1/8″ thick and the proper circle size flip pie dough over with parchment paper into pie plate
  4. Gently fit pie dough into dish without pushing down hard and place into the fridge
  5. Wash and dry blueberries, picking through them to remove any under and over ripe berries and stems
  6. Place berries in a large bowl and add 1/4 cup corn starch, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/8 tsp salt and juice from 1/2 lemon and toss until coated
  7. Put the bowl of blueberries into the fridge
  8. Roll out the other pie dough disc and cut out leaf shapes or what ever shape you want to be the top layer of the pie
  9. Lay down a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet with a sprinkle of flour and place leaf cut outs onto the cookie sheet
  10. Put leaf cut outs into the fridge
  11. Take out pie dish with pie dough from fridge and crimp edges
  12. Pour the blueberries into the pie dish and back into the fridge
  13. Whisk 1 egg with 1 tbsp of heavy cream
  14. Take the leaf cut-outs on the cookie sheet from the fridge and brush with the egg wash
  15. Take the blueberries in the pie dish out of the fridge and dot the pie with 1  1/2 tbsp of cut up cold butter
  16. Begin to place leaf cut-outs on top of the blueberries. Go along the edge of pie all around and then work your way in (you only need to gently push a couple of the edges of the leaf to crimped edges of the pie and to each leaf
  17. Put the pie back into the fridge for 15 minutes while you pre-heat oven to 400º
  18. Place blueberry pie on the cookie sheet that has a piece of parchment covering the bottom in case of spillage and pop into the oven for 30 minutes
  19. Turn the oven down to 350º and bake for another 40 minutes until a golden crust and juices are bubbly
  20. You must let cool 3 hours so the blueberry juicy can thicken properly
  21. Serve with your best vanilla ice cream and you will be one happy camper! 🙂

 

Gourmet Frittata

Gourmet Frittata

The Frittata first came about as practical dish in theory for using up those leftovers in our frig but when adding in some lovely melting cheeses and a pinch of dairy it turns into something much more then that. Not to mention this Italian egg dish is just as delicious served room temperature as it is warm.

Making a gourmet frittata is as easy as can be leaving you with lots of room to be creative. The measurements do not have to be exact at all to get wonderful results. You can use 10-12 eggs, and mix in heavy cream, half and half, sour cream, or even creme fresh. You can also change out the cheeses to one that you prefer. Use feta or goat cheese, cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper jack, Colby-jack, Swiss or Gruyère, Parmesan and so on. It’s nice to mix it up too using a combination of these cheeses. I really love using up the leftover veggies in the fridge and don’t mind sautéing up one or two more to enhance the leftovers.

By no means does this homemade frittata have to remain a vegetarian either! Pack in the meat using chunks or slices of ham, cooked sausages, bacon, steak and well that list goes on too. I think the trick here is not to fuss too much, be sure to add a little dairy and be sure not to over cook the frittata thinking that it’s not done enough because you see a little movement in the center when taking it out of the oven. Remember it will keep cooking after you take it out of the oven and it will also congeal a bit with the cooling process. Enjoy the show and making this yummy gourmet frittata! You may want to try some grilled Asian Salmon or Caesar Salad with this frittata too.

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Ingredients:

  • 12 extra-lg eggs
  • 1/2 cup half & half, heavy cream or creme fresh
  • 1 1/2 cup gruyere cheese ( 1/2 cup is for the topping) OR 1/2 cup cheddar, 1/2 gruyere with addtional 1/2 cup mix of each for the topping
  • 1/3 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 8 oz. pkg baby bella mushrooms sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped or sliced onions
  • 6 small tomatoes sliced 1/8″ thick to decorate top of frittata before you bake it
  • 1 tsp salt (1/2 tsp into eggs & 1/4 tsp each for onion/mush. and 1/4 tsp when you add kale)
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp Siracha (or more…to taste)

Directions :

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350º
  2. Wash and dry kale leaves
  3. Remove kale leaves from the ribbing (stalk) as shown in show
  4. Slice mushrooms, onions, kale and tomatoes – set aside
  5. Whisk 12 eggs, then whisk in 1/2 tsp salt. 1/4 tsp finely ground pepper and half and half
  6. Add 3 tbsp olive oil to 10″ cast iron pan or oven proof pan on med/high heat
  7. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes
  8. Add mushrooms to onions and 1/4 tsp salt, then sauté another 5 minutes on med/high
  9. Add in kale when juices begin to release from the mushrooms along with another 1/4 tsp salt and sprinkle of pepper, and a few shots of Siracha
  10. Sauté kale mixture for 5 minutes while stirring just to wilt slightly
  11. Add 1 cup of gruyere and 1/2 cup of parm to egg mixture and give it a quick stir
  12. Turn off heat on cast iron pan and add in egg mixture
  13. Give it a stir to the veggies and egg mixture
  14. Then top with 1/2 cup more gruyere cheese and decorate with sliced tomatoes
  15. Put into the oven and bake for approx. 23 minutes
  16. Take a peak at the 20 minute mark to make sure that the top hasn’t gotten golden
  17. You only want slight golden on outer edge
  18. Take out frittata and let sit for 20-30 minutes
  19. NOTE: the frittata will keep cooking after you remove it from the oven
  20. Slice and serve with a sprinkle of grated Reggiano Parmesan on top

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!

Gorganzola Dolce Cream Sauce with Fresh Thyme

Gorganzola Dolce Cream Sauce with Fresh Thyme

This Gorganzola Dolce cream sauce with fresh thyme couldn’t get any easier and your dinner guests will think you secretly went to culinary school and became a saucier! Gorganzola Dolce cheese originated in Northern Italy, and is made from cows milk. It’s a mild, creamy, and sweet cheese great for spreading on baguette slices or even crackers. It’s moister than Stilton and definitely more buttery than Roquefort. It’s decadent really, one of my very favorite cheeses of all times along side of Taleggio…another amazing Italian cheese!

I came up with this recipe because I serve it on my homemade gnocchi (potato pasta) with truffle oil and fresh thyme. You won’t believe how easy this is to make. You can make it to go over any kind of pasta you like and pair it up with grilled steaks or sautéed chicken along side.

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Ingredients: Makes enough for 1 lb. pasta

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp of Gorganzola Dolce Cheese
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup extra dry vermouth or white wine
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Reggiano Parmeggiano to sprinkle on top at the end
  • Truffle oil

Directions:

  1. Pour heavy cream into a medium sauce pan on the stove over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  2. Add in the gorganzola dolce cheese and whisk just to combine.
  3. Add in the vermouth and simmer for 5 minutes on low
  4. Turn off and stir in 1 Tbsp of fresh thyme leaves..set aside til pasta is ready
  5. Cook 1 lb. of your favorite tubular, shaped pasta, or gnocchi and pour sauce over
  6. Serve with a sprinkle of Reggiano cheese, a drizzle of truffle oil and more fresh thyme leaves sprinkled on top

You may want to serve some appetizers with this dinner like:

Jumbo Crab Cakes

Jumbo Crab Cakes

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Curry-Yogurt Dip & Asparagus

Curry-Yogurt Dip & Asparagus

Homemade Ricotta

Homemade Ricotta

What an easy process it is to make homemade ricotta and it’s so worth it..just wait til you taste the fresh creaminess of those warm curds. It’s amazing how effortless this really is. All you do is bring whole milk and heavy cream to a boil, take it off the heat, add white vinegar and salt and watch the curds and whey separate into a luscious homemade ricotta. All the work is in waiting for the curds to form and the whey to completely drain through the cheese cloth. You’re likely to become a ricotta snob and never buy store bought ricotta ever again! Put a dollop of your homemade ricotta in the middle of a bowl of penne dressed with tomato sauce and voilà you are a culinary genius. If you are going to stuff pasta shells with this ricotta you should make my slow cooked pasta sauce 101, authentic Italian meatballs, pasta crepes from Mama Maria’s manicotti or lazy-man’s lasagna! Then you can end with a “BEST” blue berry pie ever recipe 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp white vinegar
  • Cheese cloth

Directions:

  1. Wet the cheese cloth and ring it out
  2. Set up a large bowl with a fine mesh strainer inside
  3. Drape the damp cheese cloth over touching the strainer as shown in the photo…making sure all of the ends of the cheese cloth hang over the edge of the strainer
  4. Add the 4 cups of milk and 2 cups of heavy cream to a large heavy bottom stainless steel pot like all-Clad
  5. Bring to a boil on medium/high heat stirring every few minutes
  6. This will take about 20 minutes
  7. As soon as it starts to boil take off the heat and add the vinegar
  8. Stir for 30 seconds
  9. Add the salt
  10. Stir for 30 seconds
  11. Let it sit in pan for 20 minutes
  12. Then pour cheese curds and whey into the cheese cloth and let sit for 1 1/2 hrs
  13. You will need to drain the liquid after the first 10 minutes and then again at the end
  14. Gather the ends of the cheese cloth, twist and squeeze the fresh ricotta gently to get the last of the excess liquid out as shown in the photo
  15. Use right away in pasta shells, lasagna, on toasts or put into a container and into the frig
  16. This will last in the frig for 4 days