Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta From Mamma Agata

July 30th, 2014

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta 2

 

Back in early June we attended a Blogger event put on by Larry of Big Dudes Eclectic Ramblings.  The theme was Italian. We dined waterside and pretended that we were on the Amalfi Coast.  Larry loaned me one of his Italian Cookbooks to take home so that I could test some recipes.  I almost didn’t want to return it to him.  The cookbook is Mamma Agata: Traditional Italian Recipes of a Family that Cooks with Love and Passion in a Simple Genuine Way.  I loved the cookbook for many reasons.  The recipes are simple.  There are many tricks revealed to make your food delicious and the illustrations are numerous and beautiful.

Mama Agata Cookbook

 

Mamma Agata is an institution on the Amalfi Coast of Italy.  She has cooked for many famous people including Humphrey Bogart, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy.  In recent years Pierce Brosnan has found the delights of Mamma Agata’s simple but delicious Italian food.  As have thousands of others who have attended her fabulous cooking school.  Together, with her daughter Chiara and son-in-law Gennaro, they will spend a day with you at their breathtaking villa teaching you how to cook true Italian food and pairing it with just the right wine.

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta 1

 

I decided to try this recipe using sausage and peppers and homemade tomato sauce because the farm stand that I visit is just now getting in local peppers and tomatoes.  Using the freshest ingredients possible really does make a difference on your finished plate.  One of the tips that Mamma Agata offers when making her fresh tomato sauce is to start with a pan off of the heat.  Add the olive oil, garlic and basil all at once and then put it on the heat.  As it heats, the oils from the garlic are released and they along with the basil infuse the oil with their essence.

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta 3

 

Topped with shards of Parmesan, this really was one of the best pasta dishes that I have ever made.  If you want this cookbook it is probably best to go to Mamma Agata’s website to order it.  She ships worldwide and your copy will be signed.  When I tried to order it on Amazon the book prices started at $170.00.  What is up with that?  By the way, Larry made this dish also.  You can find his post about it here.

PAPPARDELLE CON PEPERONI E BALSICCA (SAUSAGE AND RED PEPPER PASTA)

Serves 4
1/2 lb. Pappardelle Pasta
2 1/4 lbs. of red and yellow sweet bell peppers
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small red or white onion, chopped
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
2 lbs fresh cherry tomatoes, quartered (I used only 1 pint)
5 fresh basil leaves, torn
2 pinches Sea salt
1 cup Mamma Agata’s Tomato Sauce (See Below)

Prepare Mamma Agata’s Tomato Sauce

Wash the peppers and remove the stems. Cut each pepper in half and remove and discard the seeds from inside the peppers.  Slice the peppers lenghwise, but not too thin and not to thick.

Saute the peppers in peanut oil for ten to fifteen minutes until soft.  This makes them easier to digest and also brings out the flavor.  Once the peppers are cooked, place them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

Wipe out the pan and add the butter and olive oil to it.  Once melted add the chopped onion and cook until golden brown.  Remove the onion to a small bowl.  Add the sausage to the pan and cook and sear on all sides.  When nicely browned return the onion to the pan, prick the sausage all over to release the juices and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the peppers to the pan, lifting the sausage so that it is sitting on top of them.  Add the cherry tomatoes, torn basil leaves, salt and the tomato sauce.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook the mixture for 30 minutes.  When done remove the sausage and cut it into rounds and return to the sauce.

Cook the pasta according to package directions to just the al dente stage.  Drain and add it to the pan with the sauce and cook gently for about 2 minutes to marry the flavors.  Serve in bowls topped with shaved Parmesan.

MAMMA AGATA’S TOMATO SAUCE

1 quart of vine-ripened roma tomatoes, pureed
10 fresh cherry tomatoes
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of fresh garlic
3 fresh basil leaves

Mamma Agata’s Secret
The Roma tomatoes used to make this sauce should be vine-ripened so they are sweet.  Sweet tomatoes are the key ingredient in many Italian dishes.  If the tomatoes are not ripe and sweet, we recommend adding a spoonful of sugar to sweeten the sauce.

Add the olive oil, garlic and basil to a large saucepan.  NOTE: When you add the olive oil, garlic and basil to the pan, do so all at the same time.  Do not heat the oil first, then add the garlic and basil to the pan, but rather place all three ingredients into the pan at room temperature and then heat the pan.

Heat the ingredients over a high flame to release the natural oils contained in the fresh garlic, greatly enhancing the flavors of the tomato sauce.  Be careful not to allow the garlic to burn or the oil to smoke.  If this happens, you must throw it out and start over.  The garlic and oil should only be on the high flame for one to two minutes before proceeding to the next step.

When the temperature of the oil begins to rise, add the tomato puree and fresh vine-ripened cherry tomatoes to the pan.  Be careful not to burn yourself or let the oil or tomatoes splash on you.  You should hear a nice sizzling sound and soon you’ll enjoy a wonderful aroma from the fragrant ingredients releasing the oils and combining.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook gently for 30 to 45 minutes.  MY NOTE:  My sauce was a little thin so I added about 1/2 of a jar of a purchased spaghetti sauce (Rao’s Marinara Sauce).

Printable Recipe

 

Cherry-Almond Tart

July 26th, 2014

Cherry-Almond Tart 1

 

I have long heard that cherries and almonds have a natural affinity.  One of the reasons the French leave the pits in their cherries when they make clafoutis is because the cherry pits give the dish an almond-like taste.  As much as I like clafoutis, that pancake like batter, that surrounds fresh cherries, I like this cherry-almond tart even better.  The recipe came from Patricia Well’s book At Home in Provence.

Cherry-Almond Tart 2V The pastry is easy to prepare.  It has a cookie dough consistency and is just patted into the pan; no rolling required.  One of the ingredients used in this tart is finely ground blanched almonds.  I had a bag of almond flour in my freezer, which is basically the same thing.  You can find almond flour at most speciality stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, The Fresh Market and some supermarkets.  The ground almonds are used in the pastry and in the filling.  The only change I made to the recipe was in the filling.  The filling calls for 1/2 teaspoon almond extract along with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  I find that almond extract is too strong, so I used 1 teaspoon vanilla and then instead of the 1 Tablespoon of kirsch (cherry liqueur), I used Disaronno; a bitter almond liqueur.

Cherry-Almond Tart 3 better

 

Oh my, this is now my new favorite dessert.  It is well worth the time it takes to pit the cherries.  The combination of the sweet cherries and the almond infused filling and crust is perfection.  Cherries and almonds are natural partners indeed.  I can hardly wait to make this again.  It is already gone.

CHERRY-ALMOND TART ( Adapted from Patricia Wells )

One 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom

The Pastry:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for preparing the tart pan
1/2 cup sugar
A pinch of fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons finely ground blanched almonds (almond flour)
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

The Filling:
5 tablespoons heavy cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon finely ground blanched almonds (almond flour)
1 tablespoon Disaronno, Amaretto or Kirsch

4 tablespoons finely ground blanched almonds (almond flour)
1 pound fresh cherries, pitted
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter the bottom and sides of the tart pan.  Set aside

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the butter, sugar, salt, almond and vanilla extracts, and almond flour.  Stir with a spoon to blend.  Gradually incorporate enough flour to form a smooth soft dough. ( The dough should resemble soft cookie dough.)  Place the dough in the center of the buttered pan.  With the tips of your fingers, press the pastry evenly on the bottom and sides of the pan.  The dough will be quite thin. You do not need to weight or prick the shell.

Place the lined tart pan in the center of the oven and bake until the dough is just slightly puffy and turns a very pale brown, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.  Do not turn off the oven.

Meanwhile, make the filling:  In a small bowl, combine the cream, egg, and vanilla extract and whisk to blend.  Stir in the sugar, flour, ground almonds, and the Disaronno.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of ground almonds on top of the prebaked pastry shell. (They will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.)

Arrange the cherries in a single layer in the pastry shell.  Pour the filling over the cherries.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of ground almonds.  Place in the center of the oven and bake until the filling is firm and the pastry is a deep golden brown, about 45 minutes.  Remove to a rack to cool.  Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.  8 servings.

Printable Recipe

Spicy Glazed Salmon

July 23rd, 2014

Spicy Glazed Salmon 1

 

Sometimes less is more.  With just 5 ingredients I was able to make a delicious dinner.  To be quite honest with you, I have not been inspired to cook lately.  It may be because of two solid weeks of cooking for a crowd.  But I also think it was because of the weather.  We were blessed with two weeks of near perfect weather for the first half of the month.  But when all of our company left, the skies opened up and rain started to fall for days on end.  When it wasn’t drizzling, it was just plain gloomy.  You can tell by the quality of my last post pictures.  Why bother making blog worthy food when it won’t photograph well. Just goes to show you how sick we food bloggers really are.

Spicy Glazed Salmon 3V

 

Well, the skies cleared yesterday afternoon and I was suddenly in the mood to cook, photograph and eat good food again.  This salmon dish has only three ingredients; salmon, peach preserves and Sriracha hot chili sauce.  The simple rice is enhanced with grilled scallions.  That’s it!  I made it in my grill pan because our gas grill was out of gas.  I’m sure it would be even better cooked outside.

Spicy Glazed Salmon 2

 

 

The peach preserves and Sriracha sauce gave a sweet and spicy kick to the salmon.  I will definitely be making this again.  It is nice to have my enthusiasm back.  I think I will make a cherry-almond tart today.

SPICY GLAZED SALMON (Country Living Magazine)

1/3 cup peach preserves
1 1/2 teaspoons chile sauce, preferably Sriracha
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets with skin on
3 green onions
2 cups rice, cooked

Heat grill to medium in one zone and medium-low in another.  To make glaze:  In a heatproof dish, microwave preserves until just warmed, 10 to 15 seconds.  Stir in chile sauce.  Transfer all but 3 tablespoons of mixture to a small dish and set aside to serve at the table.

Season salmon fillets with salt.  Grill fillts, skin side down, on medium heat zone for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, grill green onions on medium-low zone until sear marks appear, about 3 minutes.  Remove onions, chop, and stir into rice; set aside and keep warm.

Brush fillets with some of reserved peach glaze  using a metal spatula, flip each piece.  Continue to grill until flesh is cooked, 2 to 3 more minutes.  Remove and brush with more glaze.  serve salmon over rice and with dish of reserved glaze.

Printable Recipe

 

Tilapia with Lemon Vinaigrette and White Beans and Radicchio

July 19th, 2014

Tilapia with Lemon Vinaigrette 3

 

After two weeks with company, we are on our own again.  The house feels empty.  I am missing the chaos and children’s laughter and even the shrieks of discontent.  But the house is back in order and the refrigerator looks less like a dumping ground for a crowd with disparate appetites.  At one time we had 5 different kinds of milk; soy milk, almond milk, whole milk, 2% milk and skim milk.

Cameron at computerI have reclaimed my computer from my 3 year old Grandson.  He loves watching You tube videos of Thomas the Train.

Cameron and Rachel at River

 

We took the Grandkids to the Rocky Broad River one day to play and splash in the water.

Tilapia with Lemon Vinaigrette 4V

 

 

So now we are back to meals for two.  This recipe for Tilapia with Lemon Vinaigrette is one of our favorites.  It is a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and we have been making it for several years now.  It is always a collaborative effort.  I make the lemon vinaigrette and white beans and radicchio and David pan fries the fish.  It comes together in a flash.  The vinaigrette is perfect with the fish and the combination of white beans and radicchio is a stellar accompaniment. The bitterness of the radicchio is tempered both by sauteing and by being mixed with the mellow cannellini  beans.  It is a simple dish with lots of flavor.

TILAPIA WITH LEMON VINAIGRETTE AND WHITE BEANS AND RADICCHIO (Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

8 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 large head radicchio (about 12 ounces), coarsely chopped
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 (5 to 6-ounce) tilapia fillets
All-purpose flour, for dredging
Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots and saute until tender, about 2 minutes.  Add the radicchio and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add the beans and broth and cook until the beans are heated through, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Season the radicchio mixture, to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a 14-inch (or 2 smaller) nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper.  Dredge the fillets in flour to coat completely.  Shake off the excess flour and fry 3 fillets in each pan until they are golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

Spoon the radicchio mixture over the center of the plates.  Top with the fillets.  Drizzle the the vinaigrette over and serve immediately.  Serves 6

LEMON VINAIGRETTE

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup lightly packed Italian parsley and fresh tarragon leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Blend the lemon juice, parsley, tarragon, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor.  With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil  Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper.

Printable Recipe

Warm Avocado and Corn Salad

July 13th, 2014

Avocado and Corn Dish 6 H

 

I have been missing in action for a while I know.  The family is here for a two week visit and we have been spending our time on the water, at the park and activities in Asheville.  We have been doing a lot of cooking but I have been too distracted to take pictures.  Last night my DIL Kristen made a Southwestern feast with chicken and bean tacos, guacamole, Mexican rice and this warm avocado and corn salad.

Avocado and Corn Salad 4CV

 

Friends of our kids are here with their three children for a few days.  Christobal is a well known wedding photographer and took the above picture for me.  We were working with incandescent lighting but his impressive camera compensated well.

Avocado and Corn Dish 3C

 

Kristen used fresh sweet corn, ripe avocados, green onions and cilantro in this refreshing warm salad.  It was delicious with the tacos.  I am entering this salad in the Food 52 avocado recipe contest that is going on right now.  You may want to go to their site for some very interesting avocado recipes.

Avocado and Corn Dish 5C

 

Enjoy!

WARM AVOCADO AND CORN SALAD

5 ears of corn, kernels removed from cob
3 to 4 green onions, chopped, white and green parts separated
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lime
2 large avocados, cubed
Optional additions; 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, smoked paprika, or pickled red onions

Heat butter and olive oil in skillet.  Add corn kernels and white parts of the green onions and cook for about 7 minutes.  Add cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.  Add the juice of the lime and remove from heat.  Add the cubed avocados.  Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the green parts of the green onion and serve.  This is especially good with the addition of crumbled crisp bacon.

Printable recipe

 

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.

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