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Pasticiotti For Fiesta Friday #53

Party time

Party time

This is week 2 of the Epic Fiesta Friday First Year Anniversary Party and we are bringing the main course and dessert.   I wanted to bring a very special dessert to the party, so I made Pasticiotti with chocolate filling.  I love these pastries, they are very special to me because it is a recipe that has been passed from generation to generation in my family.  It’s a great party dessert because it’s small, you don’t need a plate and fork, a napkin will suffice and they are pretty neat to eat.  Angie@The Novice Gardener has been working hard on this mega party and thank goodness she has two co hosts to help, so a big thank you to Nancy @Feasting With Friends and Selma @Selma’s Table for always being there to help and doing such a great job of hosting.

Pasticiotti is an Italian pastry, it’s a pastry crust baked in a pustie tin filled with either chocolate or vanilla filling, similar to a pudding. I grew up eating these and always looked forward to my Father bringing home a big box from the local bakery. For years I have gone to Court Street bakery in Brooklyn when I want an Italian pastry, they have been around for over half a century and the pastries are delicious and as close to my childhood memories as I have found. I wanted to try and make my own so I asked my Mother if she had a recipe, she did, it is a very old recipe from my Aunt Dee, Mom said that the recipe was handed down from my Great Grandmother. It was in Italian and measurements were not exact and I am sure it was not originally written using cups, teaspoons and tablespoons. My Aunt who was a great cook took this recipe and made it her own. I was a bit nervous making it, having never tried my hand at anything like this before, it was surprisingly easy and turned out absolutely delicious. The first time I made these I used tartlet pans and they turned out fine. Since then I have purchased pustie tins and they come out even better,  I think its because of the shape of the tin, the pudding is heavy and the crust delicate and the tins are smaller at the bottom becoming larger at the top similar to a brioche mold.There is a distinct flavor in many Italian Pastries and I found out it is from an extract called Fiori Di Sicilia, it is unique in that it is both citrusy and floral.  You can find it at Bakers Catalog (King Arthur Flour)  but you can also add a little orange zest instead and it works just fine. If you do plan to make these invest in pustie tins, they are inexpensive and worth having even if you only make these every now and then, I found mine here. One more very exciting bit of news, this recipe will be featured in The Global Family Reunion cookbook that will be unveiled at the Global Family Reunion event which is being held at the World Fair Grounds in New York in the early summer. The proceeds from the sale of the cookbook will benefit research to help find a cure and treatment for Alzheimers.

Pustie Tins

Pustie Tins

Pasticiotti with Chocolate Filling

Makes:  approximately 18

The pastry crust:
4 cups Flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups light brown Brown Sugar (Not packed)

pinch of salt

1 cup (8 oz)  cold leaf lard or vegetable shortening (I used lard because thats what the original recipe used)

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup cold whole milk

Beat one egg with a teaspoon of sugar to brush on the pastry before baking

In mixing bowl add the flour, brown sugar,baking powder, and salt, whisk to combine making sure any clumps of brown sugar are incorporated.
In measuring cup add the milk and egg, beat egg and milk together then add the vanilla and stir to incorporate
Measure  or weigh (I like to weigh) your lard and add to dry ingredients, use a pastry cutter to cut the lard into the flour mixture it should resemble crumbs. Add the milk, egg and vanilla and with a fork combine. Working quickly gather the dough into a cohesive disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour even overnight.

Ready for the tops

Ready for the tops

Chocolate Filling:

1 cup flour

2 cups sugar

2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa

pinch of salt

4 cup warm milk or water (the original recipe used water)

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon fiori di sicilia or if you don’t have add 1/2 tsp orange zest (optional)

In medium saucepan add flour,chocolate, sugar, a pinch of salt and whisk to combine. While whisking add the warm milk and keep whisking until its combined and there are no lumps. Turn flame to medium and whisking constantly cook until mixture thickens, add about 1 cup of hot mixture to beaten egg yolks and add back to saucepan. Continue cooking on medium heat, stirring or whisking constantly until it becomes very thick. Once the filling is very thick remove from heat stir in the vanilla and optional fiori di sicilia or orange zest, pour into a bowl. Lay some plastic wrap directly on top of the filling and let it come to room temperature on the counter top, then refrigerate until cold. Note: I like to make the dough and filling the day before and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

Making the Pasticiotti

Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Flour work surface,Cut dough in half one half will be bottom crust the other top crust, place half of dough back in refrigerator while working. Have your pustie tins or fluted tartlet pans ready.Either roll or press the dough into the pans it should be approximately 1/4 in thick and should have a small overhang, if dough starts to warm put back in refrigerator. When you have put the dough in the tins, place in refrigerator while you roll out the dough for the tops, roll dough about 1/4 in thick and cut into rounds a little larger than the top of the tin. Take tins from refrigerator fill with the chocolate filling just slightly  below the top of the tin. Place the top on, press making sure the bottom crust and top crust are joined and trim off any excess. Brush with egg wash and place in freezer for a few minutes just to get the pastry cold. Remove from freezer place tins on baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven place on cooling rack and let sit at room temperature for 45 min to an hour or until COMPLETELY COOLED. Gently remove from the tins and refrigerate covered with plastic wrap or in an air tight container 4-6 hours or overnight.

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven






Uncle Steve’s Sauce, An Interview With Steve Schirripa And a Quick Delicious Meal

Uncle Steve's Sauce

Uncle Steve’s Sauce

I received no monetary compensation for this, I did however get 3 bottles of sauce. I volunteered to do this article and the opinion is 100% my own.

I don’t know about you but I watched every single episode of the Soprano’s up until the very last one. I went through withdrawal after it ended, there was a hole in my Sunday evening TV lineup. If you have watched the show you probably recognize Steve Shirripa aka Bobby Baccalieri, he was married to Janice, Tony’s sister played by Aida Turturro on the show.  A few weeks ago I was shopping at my local Whole Foods and had just gotten my salmon and was browsing and walking with my friend (also named Steve) and I had to do a double take, sitting there in the aisle was Steve Schirripa, he had a table set up with pots of his sauce and some of his entourage was there with him. When I saw him he told me to come over and taste the sauce, besides being star struck I was thrilled to have a taste. I will be honest, I don’t buy bottled sauce, I’m not a snob and I’m all for quick and easy but I really just don’t like the taste of the sauce I have tried. There is nothing wrong with it, really nothing wrong, it’s easy, and after a busy day at work opening a jar of sauce and having a bowl of pasta is a great thing, that is if you can find a jarred sauce you like. Up until that day I had not. I loved how they let you taste the sauce, dip a piece of Italian bread in, that was my favorite thing to do when I lived at home and my Mom made sauce. It immediately brought back very fond memories. Well, it is seriously good. There are three types, Tomato Basil, Marinara and Arrabiata. I bought a jar of the tomato basil which is the one I tasted, now one thing about me is that I am a little shy and become verklempt especially around celebrities so I just walked away thanking him and telling him I am a fan. My friend Steve went up to them and said that I had a blog, they called me over and I told them I would love to blog about his product, they also said Steve would be happy to do an interview and that I could contact them to set it up, I was thrilled. We exchanged cards and I was on my way. Fast forward, life got busy and I remembered I needed to email Steve’s team to set up the interview, I did and they immediately got back to me and asked if they could send me some sauce, the next day I got it. Look at how cute the packaging is and even a wooden spoon is included, you have to love that. Be sure to check out the website also for Uncle Steve’s products!!

So here is my interview with Steve Schirripa.  I really wanted to know more about his company and why he chose to get into the food business. The interview was conducted over the phone, I hope you enjoy I know I did. I have to say I was a bit nervous, he put me at ease and is the nicest most genuine person and really believes in his product. It was such a pleasure talking to him.

1. I know you are a very busy actor and wondered if you could tell us why you decided to segue into the food business.
Steve: My partner Joe Scarppinito had the idea to make the sauce as a tribute to my Mom who had passed away. Joe is an entrepreneur and said to me Lets do sauce!! So we set out to make the best sauce possible, I’ll be honest I don’t eat jarred sauce and we wanted to make a sauce that tastes good. The sauce is so good my wife makes it for me at home.

2.  There are many commercially prepared jarred sauces on the market, what sets your sauce apart from the rest.
Steve: Uncle Steve’s sauce is Organic, Gluten Free, Non GMO and it’s our goal to make the best sauce possible, it’s hard to find a good jarred sauce, with Uncle Steve’s what you see is what you get, you can see the list of ingredients everything is completely natural, no hidden stuff, it’s all good.

3.  I heard that this is your Mother’s recipe, I am sure that her sauce is delicious but that’s a small batch for Sunday supper. How do you maintain the same distinctive and delicious flavor when preparing this for mass production.
Steve: Our sauce is made in small batches and we have good quality control, as a matter of fact we have thrown out an entire batch if it doesn’t meet our standards. We cook the sauce a long time and thats what gives it it’s distinct and authentic flavor.
When I was growing up Mom stayed home and cooked, now days Moms and Dads both work and our goal was not for you to stop making homemade sauce but when you are busy we provide you with the highest quality sauce that actually tastes really good and you can feel good about feeding this to your family.

4.  People from all over the US and world follow my blog, tell us where we can buy your sauce, how many states is it available and what stores?  I met you in Whole Foods Brooklyn and know it’s there, can my friend in Long Island get it at the Whole Foods near her?
Steve: We are in over 2000 stores and are growing every day. It’s amazing really because we have only been in business for a year. If you don’t see Uncle Steve’s sauce in the store go to the website here and put in your zip code we can tell you where to buy but we also have an online shop where you can buy sauce and other Italian specialty items. We are in Whole Foods in the New York area including Long Island and also New Jersey, we are heading to the West Coast, are in Florida, Oregon, Idaho, Rhode Island, Texas, Wisconsin and other states also.

5.  I have to ask,do you stay in touch with fellow cast members from The Soprano’s? I never missed an episode and it’s still my favorite show of all time. Have they tried your sauce? Just curious.
Steve: Yes I stay in touch with fellow cast members, Michael Imperioli, I just had lunch with Lorraine Bracco, Tony Sirico. Michael loves my sauce, he is an incredible cook and actually won a celebrity Chopped.

6.  I see you have an online shop on your site can you tell us about some of the products available online.
Steve: The online shop has the sauce, Gluten Free Pasta, vinegar and soon will have olive oil. You can also get gift baskets.

7. I know you have a Twitter account @unclestevesNY can you tell my followers if there are any other ways to find you on social media (FaceBook, Instagram etc…)
Steve: Yes you can follow on Twitter and Facebook but I am not big at keeping up on Social Media.

8. Do you come from a traditional Italian family where Sunday’s were always dinner at Grandma’s house?  If so, what was your favorite Sunday Dish when you were growing up?
Steve: Yes and I remember the fried meatballs with pignoli and raisins, it was my favorite food and the smell was amazing I can still smell it. I remember we couldn’t eat them until we got home from Church.

Rigatoni With Eggplant And Uncle Steve’s Arrabiata Sauce:

I have been craving eggplant, I thought that it would go nicely with the Arrabiata sauce. I decided to make a quick and easy pasta dish using Uncle Steve’s Arrabbiata sauce, some eggplant and rigatoni, top it with a nice big dollop of ricotta and a generous grating of pecorino romano.  Previously when I bought jarred sauce I had to doctor it, you know what I mean, add some basil, garlic, olive oil, why not just make it from scratch then right? Well this sauce does not need to be doctored, it’s great right out of the jar, I did add a pinch of salt but that doesn’t count really. The meal took less than 30 minutes to make, and was delicious. I cut the eggplant into bite size pieces and roasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper after the eggplant was done I added to the sauce that was heating on the stove. when your pasta is done add it to the sauce and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Thats it, a quick delicious meal in no time and this is a product you can feel good about feeding your family. Note: Uncle Steve’s Arrabbiata is spicy, they aren’t kidding, love it!!

The entire meal was done in 30 minutes. Here is what I did:

Wash and cut the eggplant into bite size pieces, pre heat oven to 425 degree’s line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread the eggplant on the parchment, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

While the eggplant is roasting, put your water on for the pasta, salt generously and bring to a full boil. While the pasta is cooking check on the eggplant, remove when it’s lightly browned approximately 20 minutes.

Look at the ingredients, natural, simple and good

Look at the ingredients, natural, simple and good

Get out your saute’ pan and add the sauce and eggplant and simmer for a few minutes. Remove the pasta from the water when al dente (I used a spider utensil) added directly to the sauce, let the pasta cook in the sauce approximately 2 -3 minutes. Serve with ricotta and grated cheese.

A bowl of goodness

A bowl of goodness fresh, natural and delicious!





Uplifting Photo of the Day Features The Sweetest Old Lady at a Wedding

I want to share this blog with you, it’s positive, uplifting and I really enjoy this site. A little kindness goes a long way and this blog will make you smile. There are great photo’s like the one below that melts my heart, uplifting stories and quotes. I thought this is a great way to start out on Monday. Enjoy everyone.

Kindness Blog

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Crab Cake And Slaw Appetizer For Fiesta Friday #52

crab cake and slaw appetizers

crab cake and slaw appetizers

Fiesta Friday #52, a very special occasion and a milestone it has been one year, can you believe it, yes one year ago Angie@The Novice Gardener got the brilliant idea to have a virtual party inviting food blogger friends. We share food/recipes and get to know each other. I have not participated from the beginning it’s been about 6 months but I have to say this is the nicest group of people, welcoming, kind and generous. I look forward to participating in Fiesta Friday every week and I want to congratulate Angie on this auspicious occasion. Because we are all party animals and the occasion merits it the party will go on for 2 weeks, this week is drinks, appetizers, amuse bouche, we are warming up for the grand finale next week when we bring the main course and dessert. The recipes should be created specifically for the party, no re blogging unless of course you have a great recipe and want to share it again with new photo’s and write up. My offering this week is crab cake appetizers loaded with crab meat. Each bite size crab cake is topped with a little bit of slaw with an Asian inspired dressing. Oh, I can’t forget to let you know that this weeks co hosts are no strangers to Fiesta Friday, thank you  Hilda @Along The Grapevine and Julianna @Foodie On Board for helping Angie on this special day.

This recipe is from one of the older Martha Stewart cookbooks and is my favorite recipe for crab cakes. I have tried other recipes and always come back to this one. It’s simple and delicious, the crab cakes contain some bread crumbs but are not breaded there is no doubt these are made with crab because there are very little fillers. I love to enjoy with a crisp salad or slaw but they make an excellent sandwich also. This recipe is easily adapted you can substitute and omit without dramatically changing anything. I usually omit the jalapeño pepper and will often substitute onion or shallot for the scallion if I don’t have. You can freeze them after you fry if you don’t need that many crab cakes, just re heat in the oven they hold up beautifully.

crab cakes

crab cakes

Crab Cakes

1 cup dried bread crumbs

2 large eggs lightly beaten

2 lbs lump crabmeat picked over for cartilage (I used jumbo lump and what they called regular lump)

1/2 cup cilantro or parsley chopped

4 scallions chopped

1 red bell pepper seeded and diced

1 yellow bell pepper seeded and diced

1 jalapeño pepped seeded and diced

1 cup mayonnaise

Optional but I like to add a little lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste

oil for frying

In a large mixing bowl mix together the bread crumbs, egg, crabmeat. scallions, pepper and mayonnaise and optional lemon zes. Season with salt and pepper.

Form mixture into patties (will make 24 small crab cakes or 48 appetizer size). Heat oil in skillet until hot, cook the crab cakes 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Place on platter or plate lined with paper towel or brown paper. Serve hot.


1/2 smallish green cabbage- shredded

1/2 smallish red cabbage-shredded

2 cups shredded carrot

Mix all the vegetables together in a bowl


1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbs mirin

2 tbs sesame oil

1 tsp minced fresh ginger

Juice of 1/2 lime

pinch of lime zest

1 tsp honey or sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all the ingredients together, pour on the vegetables and refrigerate until ready to use.




Chicken Kofta In A Korma Curry With Sonals Awesome Spice Mix

Kofta Korma

Kofta Korma

I received an email, from Sonal@SimplyVegetarian777, in case you don’t know who she is PLEASE check out her blog, Sonal very generously offered to send me some of her AMAZING spice mixes. I couldn’t type fast enough because I was so excited. I have mad respect for Sonal as a cook and a blogger and am mesmerized by not just her amazing Vegetarian recipes but by her gorgeous photography as well and she absolutely blew me away with her generosity, The other day I went to my mailbox and I didn’t even have to open it because I knew it was here, the aroma that came from my mailbox was intoxicating. She sent her curry mix, a tandoori marinade and Kasuri Methi. I agonized over what to make, perusing her recipes and then I remembered a recipe she actually chose for me to make, her vegetable korma, I love korma, as a matter of fact whenever I eat at an Indian restaurant it’s what I order every single time. Instead of making it with vegetables I thought I would make small chicken meatballs or kofta, kind of like an Indian version of Swedish meatballs. I am serving this with basmati rice but it can also be served with naan or flatbread. I put my own spin on Sonal’s delicious recipe, using what I had in my pantry and refrigerator, the changes were minor and the result was amazing. I attribute this to the expert blending of the spices, I also must add that this recipe is quick and easy to make and because I used a spice mix I didn’t have to measure lots of different spices,  the work was done for me and the results could not have been more delicious.

Sonal's Spice Mix

Sonal’s Spice Mix

You MUST make note that Sonal’s awesome and delicious spice mixes will soon be available to all of us, yes she is marketing and selling her spice mixes, small batch hand mixed and utterly delicious. Keep watching her site  for more information on how to order.


Adapted from Sonal’s recipe for Kofta

1 lb ground chicken

1 egg

1 tbs greek yogurt

1 heaping tbs dried bread crumbs

1 tsp minced ginger

1/2 small onion minced

1 clove garlic minced

1 tbs kasuri methi

2 tbs cilantro chopped or parsley is fine too

1 tsp garam masala

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and form into small balls which you set on parchment lined baking sheet. Heat your fry pay or skillet with some oil. Add the kofta with space in between each and fry until nicely browned on all sides. Remove from oil and place back on parchment sheet and put in warm oven (170 degree’s) until you are ready to add to the korma.

Korma Paste:

2 tbs cashew nuts soaked for 10-15 minutes in 1/4 cup warm water

2 tbs unsweetened coconut flakes (I only had sweetened and it still turned out great, not sweet at all)

2 tbs milk powder or you can use(almond milk. coconut milk, milk, soy milk) (I used half and half)

1/2 onion chopped roughly

1 small tomato (I used 6 cherry tomatoes)

1 small piece ginger (I used the equivalent of 1 tsp)

garlic 2 small or 1 big clove

Place everything in the blender and process until it’s a thick smooth paste

Look at the gorgeous color

Look at the gorgeous color

Making the Korma:
2 tbs ghee, butter or oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 1/2-2 tsp Sonal’s curry spice mix
1 1/2 cups water
Place ghee,butter or oil in a saucepan, heat on medium high until hot. Add the cinnamon stick and bay leaf and heat for a couple of minutes, add the Korma paste and cook about 5-7  minutes on medium heat, don’t brown, you want it to retain it’s yellow color. Add the curry spice mix and continue to cook for another few minutes, add the kofta and water and cook on medium high heat for about 15 minutes uncovered. It will thicken nicely. Serve with rice or naan or flat bread and maybe some pickled vegetables.

An Invite to the First Fiesta Friday Anniversary

The Novice Gardener

first fiesta friday anniversary invitation

Just one more week and Fiesta Friday will celebrate its First Anniversary! Are you as excited as I am? Of course you are!

We’ve been brainstorming, my co-hosts and I, on how to properly celebrate this milestone. After many great ideas were thrown in, we’ve decided that our First Fiesta Friday Anniversary needs to be celebrated in a big way, by having a non-stop party that will span 2 weeks.

Let me explain. We’re throwing the biggest block party ever. A Fiesta Friday Block Party. A Fiesta Friday on steroids. Ain’t no party like it ‘coz a Fiesta Friday Block Party don’t stop! Not for 2 weeks! That means Fiesta Friday #52 and Fiesta Friday #53 will BOTH be the designated 1st Anniversary Fiesta Friday parties.

And since it’s a block party, everybody who is a friend of a friend of a friend is welcome. That means all of you…

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Cannellini Bean,Kale And Bacon Soup For Fiesta Friday #51

Bean and Kale Soup

Bean and Kale Soup

It’s cold out and a big pot of steaming hot soup is in order. I tend to be short on time and sometimes patience so a laborious process during the week is not in the cards for me. I used canned beans for this soup. there I said it, no soaking dried beans overnight, waiting hours for them to cook, good old canned cannellini beans and you know what the soup is delicious. This is really a simple rustic soup, one I had growing up, white bean soup with some sort of green in it and usually ham hock or bacon is a wonderful childhood memory. The soup is substantial and really no recipe is required so I will list the ingredients and amounts that I used but you can tailor the soup to your own taste. It is also delicious without the bacon for our lovely vegetarian friends. I made another loaf of sour dough bread and am serving it toasted with some melty delicious raclette. Bon Appetit!!

I am bringing a big pot of soup to Fiesta Friday #51, it’s so exciting we are almost at the 1 year mark and Angie@The Novice Gardener and her lovely co hosts Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook and Juju @cookingwithauntjuju promise another fantastic party, how could it not be with so many great cooks.

Soup, bread and Cheese

Soup, bread and Cheese

Cannellini Bean, Kale and Bacon Soup

Serves 6-8 generously

6 cans (15 oz) cannellini beans drained

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 onion diced

2 thick slices of bacon cut into small pieces

1 head kale (I used Tuscan) chopped

32 oz stock (chicken or vegetable)

2 cups (approximate) water

2 sprigs fresh thyme

In large pot add a little olive oil, heat on medium high and add onions, saute until softened and add garlic, continue to saute until the garlic softens, add the bacon cook for another 5 minutes and add the kale, let the kale wilt. Now add the liquid (stock and water), beans and the thyme. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium, continue cooking for about an hour to an hour and a half  or longer until the beans break down a bit and the kale is soft.  I like to mash some of the beans to thicken the soup, I just use a big spoon and mash on the side of the pot, leaving some beans whole. Serve hot.




My First Ever Sourdough Loaf And I’ll Bring To Fiesta Friday #50


Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven

I must tell you I was very nervous about this loaf, but with Ginger’s expert advise and soothing reassurance by jove I did it. A beautiful crusty sourdough loaf. Now the original recipe used whole wheat flour, I got mine out of the fridge and the first thing I noticed was a little bit of a rancid smell, that got tossed so I had to improvise. I used bread flour, barley flour and wheat germ. I think the resulting loaf is wonderful and I hope that Ginger is proud of me.

The loaf is so good I decided to bring it to Fiesta Friday #50, a milestone really, 50 consecutive parties and Angie shows no sign of slowing down. Full speed ahead and we are only 2 weeks away from a full year of Fiesta Friday’s. Amazing isn’t it, so this week the party is hosted by the effervescent and ever present Angie@The Novice Gardener and our lovely co hosts are Selma @Selma’s Table and Sue @birgerbird. Enjoy the bread everyone and I am also bringing some hand churned butter from my CSA to slather on!!

In conclusion, this bread is INCREDIBLE, the crust is crisp, the inside is soft, it has complex flavor because it’s sourdough. This recipe is a keeper and well worth the effort. I am now more comfortable with levain and will be making this loaf on a regular rotation.

Dough after an overnight sit in the fridge

Dough after an overnight sit in the fridge beautiful dough

The recipe calls for 3 cups whole wheat bread flour, since I didn’t have whole wheat flour here is what I used: Next time I make this loaf I am going to weigh the flours and include that in my notes.

3 cups bread flour

1/2 cup barley flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

It’s a very soft dough, you have to work quickly when transferring to the hot pot. I didn’t really have to shape it since the dough is soft it kind of conformed to the shape of my pot nicely.

I did not get a photo of the dough in the pot, it’s hot, you have to work quickly, slashing the top, sprinkle with a little flour, get the lid back on and put back in the oven. Don’t be tempted to lift the lid while baking, leave it be it has to build up steam. I was so tempted to do that but held myself back. Was dying to see what the bread looked like.

crust is so crisp

crust is so crisp

Side Note: The levain I had left after making the bread dough was put in the fridge and will be fed today to make yet another loaf of delicious sour dough bread. I also want to make note that I am decreasing the amount of salt in the recipe to 2 1/2 tsp.  Also, I used an oval 36cm, 4 Qt pot. Smaller would also work.

Big loaf

Big loaf


Making Levain, A Gift For Nando A New Kitchen Toy, Community Pick On Food52

I follow a lot of blogs, love them all and wish I could make every recipe on all of them. Sometimes I see a recipe and think this is something I have to make right away, usually it’s a recipe that challenges me. This is the case when I saw Ginger’s great recipe on her wonderful blog Ginger And Bread  she posted a recipe for WholeWheat Sour Dough Bread, which is baked in a cast iron dutch oven and looks so crusty and delicious I had to make it. The challenge for me is making levain, I have never made it before and a good friend sent me some that she made which I promptly killed in what can only be characterized as a slow painful death. So far Ginger’s levain recipe has proven to not only be simple but it actually works and I have not killed it. Now I did not own a cast iron dutch oven but have wanted to get one for a long time so I decided to buy one (ended up with two) I went to my favorite home goods store Williams Sonoma and found a great deal on both, a Le Creuset oval Cocette, (4 qt) in a lovely shade of green and then I saw a very reasonably priced Lodge round cast iron dutch oven, the Lodge is on back order but I got the Le Creuset today. Love it and I will use it to make this wonderful sour dough loaf.  I will post the photo’s of the bread after I make it,  hopefully tomorrow. The dough is doing a slow rise in the refrigerator overnight.

Le Creuset

Le Creuset

So here is my levain, rather shaggy looking right?  This is Day 6, my kitchen is quite cold so it didn’t rise very much but Ginger said thats ok, be patient.

shaggy levain

shaggy levain day 6

On Day 8 I put the levain in the refrigerator for 2 days, when my dutch oven arrived I took it out, fed it again (1 cup flour and 5 tbs water) and let it sit in the oven with the light on. Here is how it looked when I got it out the next day. Can’t wait to make the bread.

fed and puffy

fed and puffy

My really good friend Jocelyn (Daisey Angel’s Mom) got Nando a gift, he is blind and lately is not getting around very well and she found this amazing device called Muffins Halo. A woman with a blind dog invented this to keep them from knocking into walls and bumping their heads. Ingenious right? Here is Nando with his Muffins Halo on, he is still getting used to it but already he is not bumping his head when he wears it. This was the best gift ever.

Nando in his Halo

Nando  not happy at first in his Halo

He can drink his water with it on

He can drink his water with it on he’s liking it

Finally I was so happy to see that my recipe for White Pasta With Garlic Parmigiano Breadcrumbs was picked and photographed by Food52. That was such a nice surprise today. I love this recipe, it’s so easy and delicious. I posted this recipe a while back on the blog, had not really thought about it until I saw the contest for Best Family Recipes. This was something my Mom used to make only without breadcrumbs that was my idea. It’s so simple pasta, ricotta, milk and parmesan cheese. It’s great like that but thought bread crumbs pan toasted with butter,olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and grated cheese would be wonderful on this simple pasta dish.

Photo by James Ransom for Food52

Photo by James Ransom for Food52

White Pasta my photo

White Pasta my photo


No Recipe Required Cream Of Broccoli Soup

Cream of Broccoli soup

Cream of Broccoli soup

We had slushy snow yesterday and today is almost 60 degrees in NYC, the weather is just plain weird,  in the winter I want soup and even though it’s like Spring today I made this because it’s quick and easy and when the temps plummet tomorrow I will have a steaming hot bowl of broccoli soup ready for me. I am also on a low carb diet and need warming satisfying food that are not laden with carbs. Looking in the fridge I had quite a few vegetables I needed to use along with a couple of small potatoes. Although I am calling this cream of broccoli it really has other vegetables in it also and no recipe required. I am keeping it super simple, will puree add a little butter and a little cream just to make it decadent, a tiny grating of nutmeg, some salt and pepper and there you have it. Garnish however you like, I simply grated some cheese on top.  Soups on!

Note: I made this a throw everything in the pot sort of soup, you of course can saute your onions, oven roast the vegetables and this will add a more complex flavor. It would be delicious like that but I just made a simple soup without the steps. Just have to add very excited tonight is the season premiere of Downton Abbey, love that show!!

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Serves 6-8

Water, vegetable or chicken stock your choice

broccoli (1 head)

potato (2 small)

carrot (I had some white/yellow carrots to use) orange will change the color (I had 5 very small carrots)

onion 1 large

Optional 1-2 tbs butter

Optional 1/4 cup heavy cream

Salt, pepper pinch of nutmeg is optional also.

Vegetables ready to boil

Vegetables ready to boil

Throw everything in a soup pot, boil until the vegetables are soft and very tender, fish out the vegetables separating from the broth, set the broth aside. Let cool a bit, puree in food processor or blender adding a little broth as needed . Add the puree to soup pot and enough of the broth so it’s the thickness you like. Add a little butter (I added a generous tbs, and about 1/4 cup heavy cream. Season with salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg if you like.NOTE If you want to freeze this soup freeze the puree without the butter and cream, add that later when you heat if so desired.

Cream of broccoli soup

satisfying bowl of soup