Oven Roasted Red Potatoes with Peppers, Cilantro and Thyme

Quick to make, Oven Roasted Potatoes are simple to make.  The usual recipe – garlic & Rosemary is nice, but gets a bit old.  This is one I’ve been using for quite a long time, and is full of interesting flavors, as well as texture and color.  Not only tastes great, but plates nicely.

Cilntro (aka Coriander)

Cilantro (aka Coriander)

Oven Roasted Red Potatoes with Peppers, Cilantro and Thyme

1 1/2 pounds small new red potatoes (about 15), washed well
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or olive oil, if you have it)
4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup diced red bell peppers
1/4 cup diced green bell peppers
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash well, and then dice the potatoes into bite sized pieces – about 1 inch.  I hardly ever peel the potatoes.  I like to leave it intact, as it gives good flavor, and texture.

In a large bowl mix the oil, garlic, and cilantro and thyme.  Add the potatoes and peppers and toss well.

Transfer the potatoes to a shallow baking pan, and arrange into a single layer.  Roast until potatoes are tender when tested with the tip of a knife, which should be between 25-30 minutes.

Serve hot, or cold, as these are great leftover.

Note:

I have sometimes made a ‘potato’ salad with the leftovers, adding in mayo, and eggs, with a bit of spicy mustard.

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Fettuccine Alfredo, History and Recipe

Todays post is by a guest poster — Enjoy!

This is an exerpt from Esquire Magazine. I made this myself for Christmas, wow. Add some garlic and lemon pepper to this to make it zesty. Cook some chicken on the side with more garlic and you’ve got yourself a wonderful meal. Some might view the additions as sacriligious, but it’s still good, and, to me, it’s the taste that matters. You have to walk a fine balance between being creative and being authentic, a question I plan to discuss in a future post, but it is a line you can indeed walk, if you know what you’re doing. Anyway, serve this along with a salad and crusty Italian bread. I personally dislike wine, but follow the instructions at the end, I’m sure they work. I drink a fine espreso after this, myself.

Fettuccine all’Alfredo is one of those dishes everyone I’ve ever met swoons
over. They imagine it to be the richest, most extravagant amalgam of
ingredients ever to send a palate reeling, but it’s also comforting, sensual,
and entirely satisfying, strand after creamy strand. Indeed, the dish was
created to restore the appetite of a woman, and I cannot imagine any woman not
being impressed by a man who knows how to tum out this classic pasta with
finesse.

This is a cute story: Back in the 1920s Alfredo Di Lelio ran a little
restaurant on Rome’s Via della Scrofa, not far from the Piazzo Navona. His
wife had just given birth to their first son, an experience that left her
exhausted, without an appetite, and therefore without milk for the baby, which
meant Alfredo had to stay up half night rocking a squalling infant. “It was
really a hell of a life,” he wrote. “So one day I decided to take the bull by
the horns and solve the problem once and for all.” He whipped up a dish of egg
noodles, extra-rich butter, and the best parmigiano cheese he could find.

Naturally, his wife gobbled up the noodles with gusto, and soon Alfredo began
serving the dish in his restaurant.

The dish became legendary when Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford visited
Rome in 1927 and ate at Alfredo’s place, proclaiming him the “king of
fettuccine” and presenting him with a golden fork and spoon as a memento. From
that moment the dish became part of a tradition among celebrities, who had to
eat at Alfredo’s when in Rome-and to get their photos in one of the two
competing Roman restaurants that now call themselves Alfredo’s.

What happened was that during the war Alfredo retired, handing over the
restaurant to two of his waiters, but afterward decided to open a new place
called Alfredo l’Originale. Over the years both places have claimed to be the
“original” Alfredo’s, but the Di Lelio family is still in charge of the newer
restaurant and has opened three outposts here called Alfredo, the Original of
Rome-one in New York, another in Philadelphia, and a third at the Italian
Pavilion in Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center-all serving the ilustrious dish
better than anywhere else I’ve ever had it. There’s no secret to making the
original fettuccine all’Alfredo, but most people botch it anyway. Alfredo’s
own printed recipe is deliberately vague: “water-salt-extra fine flour of the
highest quality, mixed by hand with fresh eggs-a most carefully selected
butter and finally Parmesan cheese, but not dried and aged Parmesan (I just
take the core of fresh cakes and grate it by hand).” That’s it? No
proportions? No pots or pans?

Well, I’ve come up with an estimable home preparation that’s as close to the
mark as I think you’ll come. The key is in the ingredients and in the cooking
time. If you have no intention of going out to buy these kind of ingredients,
don’t bother with the dish at all. You may come up with a nice-looking plate
of noodles, but it’s like wearing a blue-flannel blazer with a polyester tie:
it’s a cheat and someone will notice.

NO STRINGS ATTACHED

If you have a pasta machine at home, by all means make the fettuccine fresh,
using nothing but flour and eggs (no water, no oil in the dough), but be aware
that Alfredo’s uses three different types of flour-semolina, durum, and a
high-gluten variety-for their noodles. Or buy a fettuccine freshly made at an
Italian pasta shop-and I don’t mean the “fresh” fettuccine put up in plastic
boxes and stored in the refrigerator section of the supermarket. Otherwise,
use a good imported brand such as De Cecco.

Put on a large pot of water (at least sixteen cups) to boil. While you’re
waiting for it to boil, melt one stick of sweet butter (not margarine) in a
saucepan and allow it to melt but not to sizzle. Add about four tablespoons of
heavy cream (not light cream, not half-and-half, not milk), and stir it in.

(You’ll notice that the original recipe does not contain cream, but I’ve seen
it added at the New York Alfredo’s; Americans seem to expect the dish to be a
little creamier.) Remove the mixture from the heat.

When the water is boiling furiously, throw in two tablespoons of salt. Then
plunge the fettuccine in the water. If it is fresh pasta, wait till the water
retums to the boil, then count to twenty: the pasta should be perfectly
cooked-al dente. If you’re using packaged fettuccine, figure on about eight
minutes in a rolling boil.

Drain the noodles well in a colander (do not rinse under cold water, which is
just plain stupid), then toss them into the melted butter and cream over low
heat. Grate into the mixture about one and a half cups of parmigano reggiano-

this is the true imported Parmesan cheese, and nothing else comes close. But
grate the cheese from the sweet, golden core, not from the harder, drier,
white part near the rind.

Toss together for about thirty seconds so that the cheese melts and the whole
thing comes together. Serve on a slightly heated plate. The consistency should
be satiny, and rich but not heavy, with the slight tang of cheese and the
lusciousness of butter, all buoyed by the slightly chewy texture of egg
noodles. Once you learn how to do this correctly, it’s like knowing the
“thirteen times” tables. Nothing to it really, but something so few ever
bother to master.

With fettuccine all’Alfredo, you should drink a good Italian red, like
Lungarotti’s Torgiano or Antinori’s Tignanello.
-John F. Mariani
From “Esquire” – March 1986

Christmas Wassail

Here We Come A Wassailing

Here We Come A Wassailing

Christmas Wassail

5 apples
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup port
4 12-ounce bottles of ale or dark beer, plus 1/4 cup
4 cinnamon sticks
4 cloves
1 Lemon, zest only
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Slice apples in half, and core.  Place the apples in a baking dish, and cover with one cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of ale, and the port.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes at 350F.

In a large pot, pour in the beer – 48 ounces (1.5 Liters).  Add in the cinnamon sticks, cloves, lemon zest, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground cardamon, and the ground ginger.  Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat to low.

One the apples have finished, pour the entire contents (including the juices) into the pot with the ale and spices.  Allow to simmer over low heat for 30-35 minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with a slice of fresh apple, and a cinnamon stick.

Christmas Wassail (Non alcoholic)

1/2 gallon (about 2 liters) apple cider/juice
1/2 gallon (about 2 liters) cranberry juice
1 quart (about 1 liter) orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-2 teaspoon ground cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
4 whole allspice

Add all the ingredients to a large pot, or a crockpot/all day cooker.  Stir well.

Over medium heat, continue to stir, to mix the spices in.  Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Keep this on low to keep warm, stirring occasionally.

Serve hot, with a cinnamon stick as garnish.

Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies (Spritzgeback)

Copper Cookie Press

Copper Cookie Press

I remember so vividly making spritz cookies (spritzgebäck.) at Christmas every year.  I loved making the tree shaped ones, as well as the stars.  We always made trees, stars, wreaths, and camels.  And always used food coloring — red, green, yellow, and sprinkled them with sugar or decoration. What I especially remember was eating the trees — one little tree ‘section’ at a time, until all that was left was the very tip, where there was a shiny candy “ornament”.

I always enjoyed making spritz cookies, because of the many different shapes that were possible – mostly because I really dislike making rolled out cookies — they take way too long and you are never finished when they come out of the oven — you have to decorate every single one.  Spritz cookies, on the other hand, are yummy tasty, shaped nicely, and handled minimally.  A bonus for Christmas time, imo.

There are quite a lot of cookie presses on the market — everything from electric and battery operated, to hand crank, press, gun, and screw extruders.  I’m most familiar with the type shown here to the left.   The bottom twists off so you can change the shapes easily, and spritzshapesfill quickly.  It’s easy to clean, doesn’t have a ton of moving parts, and if the one I have is indication of the length of time these last, mine is just about 50 years old (my Gram gave it to me about 12 years ago).  Take a look in your mother/aunt/grandmothers cabinets, and you may find one similar to this.  I’ve collected about 40 different shaped disks over the years, so you may find a fun assortment.

Using a old press such as this is simple, but needs a good bit of wrist movement.  Choose the shape you’d like to make, and then fill the cookie press 2/3’rds full, packing the dough.  Insert the screw and tighten.  Place the press on the cookie sheet, and twist one full twist around, and then slightly backwards.  Lift, and then repeat until you’ve filled the cookie sheet.  If the dough is too soft (warm), it will stick.  Put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes (20 or so), and then start again, (careful –  if the dough is too cold, it won’t extrude.)  Press the cookies onto a cool cookie sheet, not one just out of the oven.

Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies (Spritzgeback)

1 cup butter, softened
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg (yolk only)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Oven should be set to 350F

Mix butter and cream cheese together well.  Add sugar, and mix until fluffy.  Add egg yolks, vanilla and lemon peel.  Mix well and then gradually add in the flour and salt.

Using a cookie press, press the cookies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned.  If you don’t use parchment, just use an ungreased cookie sheet.

Allow to cool about 5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet, and then remove and cool completely.  These will keep fine in a tightly sealed container or bag, and freeze wonderfully.

Easy Cherry Almond White Chocolate Fudge

White Chocolate Chips

White Chocolate Chips

December has always been the time to make all those delicious recipes you’ve saved up for the Christmas season.   And this, in my house, is one of those.

I first had cherry almond fudge at my Mothers house one year when we were there for Christmas.  She had purchased it from a local candy maker, and didn’t have a recipe.  Once I was back home in New York, I did a search and came up with the following recipe.

I’ve never really changed it, though I do add a bit more chopped almonds. And I have had to substitute white chocolate chips for regular chocolate chips, as well as “white candy making disk” like things I found at a craft store in the candy section.

This recipe takes about 10 minutes to prep, and a minimum of 2 hours to cool, so it is relatively quick.  I really like to individually wrap each piece in candy foil, which makes a great presentation.

Enjoy!

Easy Cherry Almond White Chocolate Fudge

2 cups or 12 ounces white chocolate chips
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup candied cherries chopped
1 teaspoon almond extract

Use an 8×8 square pan — Spray with pam, and then line with parchment paper.  Alternativly, you can line the pan with the non-stick foil that is on the market nowadays.

Mix the chocolate and milk together, and then microwave on high, stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate is smooth.

Stir in the almonds, cherries, and almond extract.  Pour the mix into the pan.  Chill for at least 2 hours, but best after at least 6.

Lift out the fudge, or turn out onto a cutting board.  Remove the paper or foil, and cut the fudge into 1 inch squares.

Notes:

  • I like this with extra nuts – up to 3/4 cup chopped almonds
  • IF you can’t find white chocolate chips, replace them with chocolate chips, or white candy discs.
  • Hand wrap these in candy foil wraps.

Leftover Mashed Potato Cheese Pancakes

What do you do with leftover mashed potatoes?  I mean, really – who does much with them??  There are recipes out there, of course, but if you are like me, you aren’t going to a darn thing with leftover potatoes, except eat them, and then 3 weeks later, after you’ve forgotten they are in the back of the fridge, throw them out.

This recipe is a perfect and easy solution.  Perfect for leftovers from Thanksgiving, or that roast you made on Saturday. It’s a quick put together for a weeknight meal, or with a breakfast of eggs on a Sunday morning.

I’m really trying to practice the frugality that I’ve learned over the years, and this recipe is great on the pocketbook.  Use leftover mashed potatoes – the remainder of the ingredients are usual pantry staples, with the cheese being about the only thing you might not have on hand.

Enjoy!

Leftover Mashed Potato Cheese Pancakes

2 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon butter

Mix together potatoes, egg, salt & pepper, flour and cheese. You can either make patties, by hand, or drop spoonfulls onto a hot pan, and then flatten with a spatula.  They should be about 1/2 inch thick, and around 3 inches diameter.

Melt the butter on a non-stick pan.   Cook anywhere from 5-8 minutes per side, until golden brown.  I prefer about 8 minutes, as they get nicely crispy.

Notes:

There are a lot of additions that can be made to these:

  • green onions or scallions
  • chives
  • minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • minced bell peppers (red, yellow, orange or green)
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • diced ham
  • bacon bits
  • Parmesan

Turkey, Avocado, Spinach and Bleu Cheese Flatbread Sandwiches

This is one of my favorite leftover turkey recipes.  It’s simple, quick and yummy.  I always make sure I have acocados, spinach and cheese in the house, just for leftovers from Thanksgiving.

I first made these one year when we had “leftover” Thanksgiving guests — they stayed for the weekend.  I needed something simple, because I was literally all cooked out from the day before.  I didn’t have flatbread, and instead used tortillas, but these were a big hit with everyone.

The recipe is a fluid one — it can be changed easily, depending upon what you have left from the big meal.  The last time I made this, I used leftover salad – lettuce, diced carrots, onions, tomatoes, black olives – in place of the spinach, tomato, onion that is in the recipe below.  It was one less thing to have to prep.

The recipe for flatbread is included below — literally, and I’m not kidding – 5-7 minutes prep, 6-10 minutes cooking, and these are ready.  They are quick, and so simple.  And once you make them, you really will be amazed at how often you will add them into your recipes, replacing sliced bread, or tortillas.

Oh, I can’t wait for this!!!

Enjoy!

Turkey, Avocado, Spinach and Bleu Cheese Flatbread Sandwiches

2 cups cooked turkey
2 green onions, chopped
1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1/3 red onion, minced
1/3 vinaigrette
4-6 pieces of flatbread (recipe below), or tortillas
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup Gorgonzola, crumbled * see note

Gently mix the turkey, onion, tomato, onion and avocado – you don’t want the avocado to become mush.  Add in the vinaigrette and stir gently.  To serve, put the turkey mixture into a flatbread or tortilla and top with the spinach and blue cheese.  Roll and serve.

Notes:

  • Replace the Gorgonzola with any type of bleu cheese you might like
  • Replace the Gorgonzola bleu cheese with gouda cheese, or, for that matter, almost any other kind of cheese that you may prefer
  • Use tortillas in place of the Flatbread.

Quick Flatbread

3 cups flour
1 cup cold water
3 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Combine all the ingredients, cutting in the shortening, and mix until combined and doughy.

Now, there are a couple of ways to do this:

  • Cut the dough into 5 equal pieces, and roll each piece into 6-8 inch circles

Or

  • Roll out the whole batch into a large rectangle.  Make a slice directly across the middle, so you have a top and bottom piece, and then cut those in 3rds, so you end up with 6 smaller squares.

Once you’ve gotten these rolled out and sized, prick the pieces with a fork — at least 7-8 times on each piece.

To cook, lightly oil a non-stick pan (Spray with Pam very lightly).  Cook over medium-high heat, and turn once.  These cook fast, so watch them carefully.  Be fully prepared to ruin the first ;)