Tag Archives: Dinner

The Return of Cheesy Pasta

Happy Monday, friends! Today’s post is a bit of a throwback but with a twist. Remember this? A Sunday dinner, to me, is always made up of some sort of pasta and carbonara sounded like just the kind of warm sleep-inducing dish I needed. And when The Boyfriend requested tortellini, I knew exactly what to make.

On the menu:
Tortellini carbonara
Adapted from Epicurious.com

1 lb. multi cheese tortellini
12 strips of bacon, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 medium sized yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Cook tortellini in salted boiling water until cooked, according to package directions. Drain. Save 1 cup of pasta water.

Saute bacon in a LARGE skillet until crisp. Drain bacon on a paper towel and reserve 3 Tbsp of grease in the skillet. Add mushrooms, onions, and garlic to the skillet and cook until mushrooms are softened. Add 1/2 cup pasta liquid to the skillet and raise heat so the liquid boils. Whisk egg yolks and cream together in a small bowl. Add pasta, cream mixture, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese to the skillet and mix together quickly so the pasta is completely coated. Keep constantly stirring the mixture and scraping the bottom of the skillet for ten minutes over medium-high heat until the egg is cooked. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more reserved pasta water. Add bacon and mix in. Cook for another 3 minutes. Plate pasta immediately and sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese on top.

And in case the cup of cream, 12 slices of bacon, and 4 egg yolks didn’t tip you off, this is not a particularly healthy dinner. Maybe don’t make this one twice a week.

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Ahhhh Autumn

Oh friends. It’s fall. The season of sweaters, roast chicken, and snuggling up with blankets and mugs of apple cider. It is my FAVORITE season of all! And to celebrate the first few weeks of deliciously cool weather, I made risotto. Here tis.

On the menu:
Butternut squash, rosemary, and blue cheese risotto with chicken and pancetta
Adapted from Epicurious
Serves 3

3 1/2 – 4 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tsp rosemary, diced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups baby spinach leaves, packed
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
2 chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch cubes
4 oz pancetta, diced
1/4 cup mushrooms

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Cover and reduce heat to low.

Melt butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 3-4 minutes, until pieces are tender. Add squash and rosemary; saute for 8 minutes. Add rice and stir for 2 minutes. Add wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 3 cups of broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until rice is tender and risotto is creamy and slightly soupy, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls as needed to maintain consistency and stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

Heat a small frying pan with the mushrooms in it. Once mushrooms have cooked down, around 5 minutes, add pancetta. Cook for 5 minutes. Add chicken. Cook until chicken is browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the spinach, cream, and both cheeses into the risotto. Plate and top with chicken/pancetta mixture.

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Hello, Autumn. Lovely to see you again.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that it legitimately feels like fall, that I have a brand spanking new stove (I think I will name her Bertha?), and that I feel a crazy intense desire to be back in the kitchen. All is right with the world! Okay, so I could use a tiny bit more money. Details.

On the menu:
Mom’s tomato soup

1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 medium sized carrots, grated
1/2 large green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup butter
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 quart tomatoes, peeled* and chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 tsp sugar
1/4 cup flour

Saute celery, onion, carrots, and green pepper in butter in a large, heavy pan until they are slightly softened. Add 4 cups of the chicken broth, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and sugar. Bring heat up to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Blend flour with the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken broth. Gradually add flour mixture to soup. Simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the soup thickens and the vegetables are tender. I like to serve this soup with tiny grilled cheese sandwiches, cause frankly, everything is cuter in miniature.

Note: the key to this soup is making sure all of the vegetables are chopped to relatively the same size.

*To peel a tomato: boil a pot of water. Make a small X in the top of the tomato, barely piercing the skin. Drop the tomato into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove it and immediately drop it in icy water. The skin will peel right off.

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Do Gooder

I’ve posted about my not-so-exciting-but-maybe-inspiring dinners before, but this time I have an ulterior motive. This post is a dedication! To the woman who could look into the fridge and whip up something that looked restaurant quality; the woman who taught me to trust my eye and write my own instructions down in the cookbook next to the typed ones; the woman who showed me that roasting a chicken with lemon and herbs is easy as pie; and most importantly, the woman who introduced me to popcorn with Sno-caps. My lovely friend, Joelle.

Joelle is currently traveling through Mozambique and South Africa, working with charities along the way, and chronicling her amazing adventures here at Afternoon Tea Comes Early. She’s one of the most inspiring people I know, and when I look into my fridge and pull out something like this, I always think of her. Safe returns, J!

Fried eggs over romaine hearts and sauteed mushrooms and grape tomatoes, with parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper

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Blue Smoke

This week I participated in my second Restaurant Week venture, with a delicious pay off (every once in awhile you get a RW dud where it’s clear you’re getting the establishment’s dregs… cough SMITH & WOLLENSKY cough).

Blue Smoke East 27th St, between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue, New York, NY. Blue Smoke specializes in barbeque, with regional specialties from across the country. In the basement of the restaurant is Jazz Standard, a renowned jazz club with live music every night of the week.

Grilled octopus over wild rice

On the menu:
Grilled octopus over wild rice with hazelnuts and cherry tomatoes
Chicken wings with blue cheese sauce
Kansas City Spareribs with coleslaw and pit beans
Peach and raspberry crisp with buttermilk ice cream
Sour cream cheesecake with blackberries and mint

Peach and raspberry crisp with buttermilk ice cream

Verdict: I should preface by telling you that I am a BBQ snob. I know… shocking. The best ribs I’ve ever had are the face-meltingly good babyback ribs at Kirsty’s Red Dog Tavern in Inlet, NY way up north in the Adirondacks, and at Black-eyed Sally’s BBQ and Blues in Hartford, CT. Everything else pales in comparison.

So while the ribs at Blue Smoke were good, it was the pit beans that became the star of the show. They had a beautiful smoky-sweet flavor and were nestled between delicately tender shreds of pulled pork. I could’ve eaten a bowl of the beans alone. The octopus was also surprisingly delicious for a BBQ joint, and proves that the kitchen is much more skilled than BBQ diners might anticipate.

Another point worth mentioning is the outstanding Blue Smoke Original Ale. Just give me a pint of Blue Smoke, a bowl of pit beans, and I’m happy.

I’m a simple girl, folks.

Sour cream cheesecake with berries and mint

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Classy Ladies

That is one giant shaker of Old Bay, but we're not complaining

In addition to my incredible birthday lunch, I was treated to an equally delicious birthday dinner. I got an e-mail a few weeks ago about a special deal at Choptank in Manhattan from Tasting Table (on a side note, if you live in New York and you don’t get these e-mails, you are SERIOUSLY missing out). For $36 you get half a dozen crabs and a growler of beer. I said, a GROWLER of beer. That’s a half gallon, people. One half gallon of beer.

Please don’t judge me.

Anyway, I knew this was what I wanted for my birthday. When the waitress laid out the newspaper, handed us little wooden hammers, and set down a roll of paper towels, I knew I made the right choice.

They pour those crabs out on the table in front of you from a paper bag! Love it.

Choptank 308 Bleecker Street between Grove Street and Barrow Street, New York, NY. Choptank is named after the Choptank River in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay. The food is mid-Atlantic inspired and seafood-centric, and just down-home enough to make me want to go back again and again.

On the menu:
Homemade potato chips with Old Bay, served with crab dip (a free starter!)
Middleneck Clams with garlic Butter, herbs, and country toast
Tasting Table special: 6 crabs plus a growler of Lionshead Deluxe Pilsner, served with red potatoes and fresh corn
Thousand layer cake with fudge frosting
Hamburger cookies with frosting and vanilla ice cream

Thousand layer cake

Verdict: The clams! The clams! Oh lord, the clams! The crabs were a lot of work (a LOT of work) and not really worth the effort, but oh man, the clams. I could’ve eaten three dozen. They were served in a steam pot full of melted butter with just a pinch of red pepper flakes and a hint of garlic. Becca and I both agreed we’d like to pour that sauce on everything from steak to cardboard. It was that good. Choptank gets its seafood from a New York fish market, but their baked goods are imported: the cake from a local bakery, and the cookies are delivered straight from Maryland where hamburger cookies are a local specialty.

Hamburger cookies - essentially black and white cookies but amaaaaazing

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It’s Greek to Me

The heat has been making headlines all over the place here in New York City, and as I mentioned before, it makes me want to stay far out of the kitchen (i.e. the only room in the apartment without a fan or AC unit). But I’m hungry, people. And I miss cooking. I miss it a lot.

So tonight I recreated one of my favorite, most basic dishes from Aladdin’s Natural Eatery in lovely Rochester, NY with very minimal prep and stove time. It’s a twist on traditional souvlaki but it was delicious and gave me enough leftovers for two extra meals. TAKE THAT OPPRESSIVE HEAT! I’m still eating. Can’t nobody hold me down.

On the menu:
Steak souvlaki salad
Serves 3

1 lb flank steak
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
4 oz feta cheese
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp dry white wine
4 cups mixed greens (I used a bag of ready-made salad)

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 tsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over high heat, until you can see slight heat ripples in the oil. Season steak liberally on each side with plenty of salt and pepper. Don’t be shy now! Seriously. Coat it. Sear steak for 2 minutes on each side. Lower heat to medium and cook steak for 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat. Let rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing into bite size pieces.

In the same skillet you cooked the steak in, add the wine and turn heat to low/medium. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the brown bits. Add onions and coat in the wine sauce. Let cook for around 6-8 minutes, or until onions have softened and the wine has cooked down.

Plate salad, place steak on top of lettuce, and crumble feta cheese over top. Lay onions on top. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and pour on top of the salad. Serve immediately.

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