Lo Mein Primavera

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I cannot wait for the sun to come out!!! Due to the nasty weather this week the pool at the country club has closed, therefore I can't work the pool grille. Thankfully this weekend looks promising!

It was actually nice to have today off though because we made the transition from the beach house to our regular house for the rest of the week. I was able to help my mom pack up and get home early to do a little shopping and prepare dinner.

I recently bought the new Good Housekeeping magazine. It was cool to read because I was a part of a few aspects of this issue (although I worked more on the October and November issue). The first week of my internship I went to Grenwich Village for a photo shoot for the dishes featured in this issue. I stayed for the shoots of these 2 one-dish dinners:

It's so cool to see the final photos in the magazine after seeing the amount of work that goes into choosing the perfect shot.

I was browsing through the recipes and decided to make the Lo Mein Primavera for my mom and I. I tried to follow the recipe almost exactly, but of course I added a few simple changes. Here's the recipe with my changes:

1 pkg. extra-firm tofu
9 oz eziekiel fettucini (or any whole grain fettucini/linguine)
2 T. coconut oil
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, cut into half-moons
2 carrots, grated
1 bunch baby spinach
1/4 cup bragg's amino acids
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
chopped cilantro for serving

1. Cut in large chunks. Place on a paper towel lined plate and place another layer of paper towel on top. Place a heavy pot on top to press the tofu of excess liquid. Set aside while prepping the rest of the ingredients.
2. Cook the fettucini in salted boiling water until al dente. Rinse and set aside.
3. In a 12-inch non-stick skillet heat 1 T. oil on medium for a minute. Add the tofu in a single layer and cook about 10 minutes, until browned, turning once. Transfer to a plate.
4. In sames killet heat remaining T. of oil on medium. Add celery, pepper, and garlic. Cook a few minutes, unti ltender. Add zucchini and cook a couple more minutes, until tender, stirring.
5. Add carrots, soy sauce, and spinach. Cook until the spinach has wilted and everything is cooked through. Toss with the pasta, tofu, and garnish with chopped cilantro. For extra heat add some cayenne pepper!

This was a delicious healthy meal! I'm so glad we have enough leftovers to enjoy this meal again tomorrrow for dinner! Way to go Good Housekeeping :)

Slow Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

We had a couple of visitors over last night for cocktail hour before dinner (my uncle and his girlfriend visiting from NY).. My mom asked me what we should serve for cocktail hour and I immediately thought of Barefoot Contessa's tomato caprese salad. This is no ordinary caprese salad... The tomatoes are slow roasted with minced garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a bit of sugar, and crushed black pepper. After roasting away in a low oven for a few hours the natural sugars of the tomatoes come out and the flavors are perfectly enhanced.

Right before our guests arrived I assembled the salad with sliced fresh mozzarella that we got from a local Italian deli and fresh basil from our "garden" (aka basil plant on the balcony). The caprese salad was a hit! I eat these tomatoes like candy and will be snacking on them and adding them to my lunch sandwiches throughout the week.

You can find the recipe here. I followed the recipe exactly, except I left the tomatoes in the oven for a bit longer (almost 3 hours!).

Sun Sun Go Away Come Again Another Day.....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I know, I know.. Where have I been??? This is the longest time I have ever gone without blogging. But, hey.. I've been busy!!!!! As you all know, I have been job searching ever since my internship has ended at Good Housekeeping. I have had no luck until a couple of weeks ago. All of a sudden I received a bunch of calls in the course of 3 days. I scheduled interviews for basically whatever I could get and figured I'd see if any of the places seemed like a good fit for me.

I narrowed my potential career choice down to two... Di bruno brothers in Philadelphia and Battleground Country Club in Manalapan, NJ (only 20 min from my house). Both jobs were extremely different, but I trusted my gut feeling and went with the job in New Jersey. I felt really at ease with the employees of the company and felt that it was a place that I could really build my career. Di Bruno Bros may have been an interesting job, but I realized I may not be quite ready to make the big move out to Philadelphia.

Well, I started my new job as the pool grille cook and supervisor a couple of weeks ago. It was challenging at first to learn the ropes, but I quickly felt at home. It's not quite as glamorous as my internship at Good Housekeeping or any job I dreamed of having in food styling/food media, but I feel confident that I'm still doing what I love and I'm with a really good company that will treat me well. After labor day I'll move on to the country club restaurant and train to be a manager. I have always wanted to be a restaurant manager and feel that I will be really successful at this position given my customer service background (thank you, Nordstrom!) and culinary background. I'll keep y'all updated on how everything turns out!

Anyways, today was my day off and was a rainy and dreary day. Normally, I would be bummed out because that means I'm stuck inside and can't go to the beach or pool. However, today I was actually excited for the crappy weather because all I wanted to do was relax and watch sappy Lifetime movies with my mom. Sooooo..that's exactly what we did. Large mugs of tea were made as we cuddled with our puppies in front of the TV. Around 3:00, we started on dinner... yup, 3:00. What better thing to make on a rainy Sunday than homemade pasta?! This has to be my favorite thing to make (and eat!).

We started out by making the pasta dough:
-1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
-1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
-1/2 tsp. salt
-4 eggs
-1 T. olive oil
-3 T. warm water

Combine the flours and salt. Form a well and add the eggs, olive oil, and water. Whisk and incorporate. Knead the dough until smooth (5-10 min-- upper body workout number 1). Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for about 30 min.

While we were cooking, we snacked on some heirloom cherry tomatoes from the Asbury Park farmer's market. They were sooo sweet.. we ate them like candy:

Next, we took our large bunch of roma tomatoes (also from the farmer's market) and concasse'd them (aka blanched). To make tomato concasse, simply core the tomatoes and mark an "x" on the other end of the tomato with a pairing knife. Plunge them in boiling water for a mere 10 seconds and them immediately shock them in ice water. Peel off the skins and remove the seeds. My mom and I started removing the seeds and realized that these small roma tomatoes didn't have that many seeds, so we decided to save some time and skip this step. I simply roughly chopped the peeled tomatoes and set them aside for our sauce.

The other prime ingredient that we needed for our sauce was fresh basil. My mom and I skipped out to our garden (I kid you not) and picked a large bunch.

Yes, our garden consists of a large pot of basil on our condo balcony....

Did I mention we have a wine garden too? We apparantly grow empty wine bottles...

Finally it was time to make some PASTA!

Last week my mom and I bought this crafty pasta machine from William Sonoma. We chose to make bucatini (well... I chose to make bucatini). What is bucatini? It's a thick hollow spaghetti..my most favoooorite type of pasta! Well, let me tell you.. I got some workout making this pasta. This machine is not electronic and quite hard to use. In fact, my mom and I are considering returning it after all of the work it required (especially cleaning). We noticed as we were making hte pasta that it was all sticking together, despite the large amount of flour we were constantly sprinkling on it. We just prayed that it would all separate once it dried out a bit and was cooked.

I also browned some hot italian sausages to go with our pasta meal.
Unpictured was a fresh salad that we enjoyed with the rest of those cherry heirloom tomatoes, craisins, and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Ohhh, but how can I forget the sauce?! The best part of the meal!!!!!!!! It was so simple, yet sooo good. Usually I am not this simle, and when it comes to making a pot of sauce, my mom and I add tons of ingredients. However, this was a simple farmer's market sauce and contained only the simplest, fresh ingredients.

I started out by heating extra virgin olive oil in a large saute pan. I added about 5 small cloves of garlic (minced) and sauteed for 30 seconds, until fragrent (DON'T BURN THE GARLIC!) Next, I added those delicious peeled and chopped tomatoes. Seasoned it with a bit of salt and pepper and let the mixture simmer for an hour or 2. At the very end I added in torn basil from the "garden".
Oh so fresh and yummy! I'm sure you want to see a final picture of my plate with the pasta, sauce, cheese, and basil.............

Ummm.. well... I was hungry.. and um well.. I forgot to take a picture. I'M SORRY. I promise you, it was a beautiful plate that was devoured in minutes. My mom and I literally sat at the table after everyone was done and licked our plates...and everyone else's plates...and all of the pots. Ha, you think I'm joking...

Fried Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I made these zucchini flowers as a fun cocktail hour treat for my mom's birthday. It really brought back memories for my mom since her grandma used to make them all the time. While I followed my mom's traditional family recipe, I added my own little spin to make them extra delicious! I stuffed them with a ricotta cheese mixture before coating them in egg batter and frying them in coconut oil. Here is the recipe for this outstanding Italian treat:

15-20 zucchini flowers
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup pecorino or parm, grated
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 cup flour
2 large eggs
salt and pepper
oil for frying (any oil--I used coconut for its health benefits and sweet coconut flavor)
marinara sauce for dipping

1. Wash the zucchini flowers REALLY good-- You might find some bugs inside (yuck!).. Pat dry with paper towel
2. Mix together the ricotta, pecorino, basil, and a touch of cracked black pepper
3. Spoon about a teaspoon of the ricotta mixture inside each zucchini flower. Twist the tops to secure.
4. Heat a large frying pan over high heat and add about 1/4 inch of oil.
5. In a shallow bowl, mix the flour with salt and pepper to taste.
6. In another shallow bowl whisk the eggs.
7. Dredge the zucchini flowers in the flour and then dip in egg. Fry in the hot oil on all sides until brown. Drain on a paper towel. Fry the flowers in batches so the oil stays hot (you may have to add more oil for the other batches).
8. Serve with warm marinara for dipping!
9. Mangia!

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