Monthly Archives: December 2015

One More Post ….Spinach Fettuccine with Peppers and Salami

This year has flown by. So much has happened that it’s hard to believe that it has only been a year. It’s been a year filled with many good things. The bad things weren’t really bad, just things that happened for the best, as my mother always said. We buried two cars, but got two very nice sensible ones to replace them. We continued at our part-time, semi-retired, jobs and were able to drive to Florida for a long overdue visit with family. We now know that we really like apartment living and have only replaced a few things that we got rid of too hastily. Oh, and the kitchen has been full of love and the recipes I’ve shared have been stellar examples of that. Here’s one more ….

We had lots of leftovers from Christmas Eve and the time had come to use them or loose them. A few carefully chosen items went into this pasta dish. It was simple, easy, and oh so tasty. It was also a riff on another quick pasta dish that I shared long ago…I think I might like this new version even better. Red and green bell pepper strips joined some peppered salami to become a decadent sauce for some spinach fettuccine.IMG_0958

The rest of the ingredients were standard fixtures in the Kitchen of Love…Mama D’s Trinity joined in and  got the party started.IMG_0966A touch of heavy cream and some milk created a sauce that enveloped the dish luxuriously.IMG_0979A generous sprinkle of Pecorino Romano and it was ready to eat.IMG_0982And eat it we did, Papa D and I. We ate it all…the New Year will be here soon and we’ll focus on the healthier side of the kitchen again. Right now, this was the perfect dish to warm a Winter’s Night that finally felt like a Winter’s Night.

This recipe was literally made with what was on hand. Quantities could go in any direction that works for you. I used a combination of milk and cream because I only had a little cream. More cream would be delightful, if you dare. I aimed to keep the peppers onions and salami in similar size pieces mostly because it’s easier to eat that way. So, without further ado, here’s a simple way to say goodbye to the year.

Spinach Fettuccine With Salami and Peppers
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Spinach Fettuccine With Salami and Peppers
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water 1 minute less than package directions. While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook for 7 - 8 minutes, until the onions are golden and the peppers are soft.
  3. Add the salami and the garlic and cook another 3 - 4 minutes.
  4. Pour in the milk and cream and simmer for 5 minutes or so until the sauce thickens slightly. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the cheese and continue to cook until the cheese melts.
  5. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Toss to coat and cook for a minute or two more.
  6. Divide the goodness into two pasta bowls. Sprinkle one tablespoon of the cheese on each bowl and serve.
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The coming year will hold many wonderful things, including the arrival of our third grandson. I know there will be new adventures in the kitchen and in the world. I’ll be sharing the best of everything with you. That’s part of my resolution…to be grateful for the best year yet, and to share my gratitude with my friends… Happy New Year!

                                                              Love, Mama D

 

Savory Seasoning Trio

“Omne trium perfectum.” Latin scholars know that this means that three makes a perfect set.  That may or may not always be the case, but in Mama D’s Kitchen a set of three makes a very nice gift.

I love to bake and cook at the holidays…giving homemade gifts is something that I have done for years. It never gets old, though the variety and quantity changes from year to year. As I planned out what to make this year, things kept coming up in groups of three. Cookies, chocolate bark, and savory snack mixes all came out in threes. I hope to share many of these “perfect sets” with you and I’m starting with a trio of seasoning blends.

I love lemon. It is bright in taste, its acidity brings out the best in many dishes, and it just looks pretty. This Lemon and Herb blend uses dried fresh lemon zest at center stage. IMG_0899Six large lemon gave up their vivid yellow dresses to make enough zest for the recipe. The naked lemons then were squeezed to yield a hefty cup of juice that thanks to the freezer will be flavoring many a dish to come. Once the lemon peel was dry, it joined a fragrant array of herbs to become a wonderful seasoning.

Lemon Herb Seasoning
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Servings
4 Ounces
Servings
4 Ounces
Lemon Herb Seasoning
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Servings
4 Ounces
Servings
4 Ounces
Ingredients
Servings: Ounces
Instructions
  1. To dry the Lemon Zest: Spread the zest of 5-6 lemons on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and allow to air dry for 24 hours.
  2. Combine the dried lemon zest with the rest of the ingredients. Spoon into spice jars and cover tightly.
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Cajun flavors are always a spicy boost to many dishes whether they come from New Orleans or not. I like a Cajun blend that features plenty of the pepper trio; white, black, and red (a.k.a. cayenne) and lots of dried thyme. This delivers on both of those fronts with more than a token dose of onion and garlic. You know that you can always play with the amounts here to suit your own taste. Try it on fish or chicken to bring a bold taste to a simple protein.

Last, but not least, Porcini Rosemary Salt is making a return appearance. It’s divine on steak, but is wonderful in soups and pasta sauces as well.DIGITAL CAMERA

Porcini and Rosemary Salt
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This is a perfect seasoning for steak, but it is wonderful on eggs, in soups, or anywhere you want a subtle mushroom flavor. This is a lovely Hostess gift, but save some for yourself.
Porcini and Rosemary Salt
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This is a perfect seasoning for steak, but it is wonderful on eggs, in soups, or anywhere you want a subtle mushroom flavor. This is a lovely Hostess gift, but save some for yourself.
Ingredients
Servings: Cups
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in the bowl of a processor. Pulse until everything is ground. This will take a bit of time. The porcini will not completely grind so the end product will have small bits of mushroom, which makes it even more delicious. Store in airtight containers.
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These three seasoning blends make a wonderful gift for anyone who spends time in the kitchen, and don’t forget to save a jar of each for yourself.

Here Comes Christmas…But First: Ham and Turkey Au Gratin

The halls have been decked and the shopping is more than half done ( a new record for me). Mama D’s Kitchen will soon be alive with holiday goodies both sweet and savory. Before I get started on all the wonders that will find their way onto trays and into baskets and jars, I thought I’d share one more recipe with you.

I’m sure your Thanksgiving leftovers are long gone (if not it’s probably time to clean out the fridge)  but, another army of holiday meals lies ahead and this recipe would transform some of the leftovers into a delicious and slightly healthy supper. I give you Ham, Turkey, and Cauliflower Au Gratin.

The inspiration for this came from my teen years. My mother and I lived within walking distance of the Oak Park shopping area on Lake Street. We loved to browse in the shops and occasionally buy something from the sale racks. We would stop for dinner at a restaurant on Lake Street. Sadly, I don’t remember the name of it. All I remember was that they served a Ham and Turkey Au Gratin that was to die for.

I felt so sophisticated when it arrived at the table, bubbling and golden brown in an individual gratin dish. The cheese sauce was thick and rich and the slices of ham and turkey were juicy. I always burned my tongue because I couldn’t wait to taste it.

I’ve made versions of this through the years, but this time, I think I came up with a true winner. The ham and turkey actually came from the deli, but this would be a fitting finale for your holiday meats. I added cauliflower because I was also going for a “not macaroni” and cheese dish. IMG_0689An inspired rummage through the refrigerator resulted in the addition of beer to the cheese sauce. I actually made the cheese sauce with 1% milk. It cut back on the fat and thanks to the aforementioned beer, no flavor was sacrificed. I used Extra Sharp Cheddar because it packs a lot of punch in a modest amount ( about 2 cups for at least 6 generous servings). Every cheese sauce needs a little mustard, a dash of Worcestershire, and a splash of hot sauce, so I added all of the above.

While the dish from years ago didn’t have one, I wanted the extra crunch of a Panko crumb topping. A bit of grated Parmesan added to the wonderfulness of that crust.IMG_0697A bake in the oven resulted in a golden crust, bubbly sauce, and the perfect marriage of ham, turkey, and cauliflower. IMG_0700

This dish took me back to a simpler time, yet paid a bit of respect to my healthier habits of the present.

Ham and Turkey Au Gratin
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ham and Turkey Au Gratin
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Spray a rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. Combine the ham, turkey and cauliflower in the baking dish and set aside.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the shallots and cook for several minutes until the shallots begin to soften.
  3. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Add the beer to the pan and continue to whisk until a smooth paste forms. Allow to cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Slowly whisk in the milk. Continue to cook, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.
  5. Add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce to the pan. Cook until the sauce thickens which should take several minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the cheddar cheese. Once everything is melted, pour the sauce over the meat and cauliflower mixture. Stir to combine.
  7. Melt the remaining butter and toss with the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the top of the casserole. Top with the Parmesan cheese and give the top a light blast of cooking spray.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until everything is bubbly. Turn the oven to broil and let it go for 2 - 3 minutes until the top is golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
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A note here on using cauliflower as a starch alternative: This vegetable is a veritable blank canvas and because of its color and texture can make a credible stand in for potatoes or pasta… it’s all in how you cut and cook it. It is considered a super food by many and as the Recipe Archive will show has been a guest in the Kitchen on several occasions.

Let the holidays begin (or should I say continue) and don’t forget to take some time to reflect and be thankful for all the year has given you, and if it wasn’t all that you dreamed, remember, you get to start over very soon.