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A recent episode on America’s Test Kitchen featured Italian classics looked so good it inspired me to do all Italian food for our game night on Saturday. The manicotti recipe has a clever twist; they use no-boil lasagna noodles. Manicotti tubes are often difficult to fill, especially when parboiled; spreading the filling out on the sheet of lasagna noodle and rolling it up like a wrap is easier, quicker and I think it created a better pasta to filling ratio. The recipe includes a homemade tomato sauce, but it would be even easier to use your favorite jar sauce. 

 

The garlic bread recipe is fussy and takes far longer than a garlic bread recipe should take. The one part I do like about the recipe is that it you cook the garlic with a tablespoon of butter over low heat for 5-7 minutes. This makes the garlic less pungent and sharp and more sweet and mellow. 

Cheesy Garlic Bread
from the Episode: Italian-American Classics

The serrated edges on a bread knife can pull off the cheesy crust. To prevent this, place the finished garlic bread cheese side down on a cutting board. Slicing through the crust (rather than the cheese) first will keep the cheese in place.

Serves 6 to 8
5cloves garlic , grated
8tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1/2teaspoon water 
1/4teaspoon Table salt 
1/4teaspoon ground black pepper 
1baguette (18- to 20-inch), sliced in half horizontally
1 1/2cups cheese (shredded Italian blend)


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook garlic, 1 tablespoon butter, and water in small nonstick skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally, until straw colored, 7 to 10 minutes.

2. Mix hot garlic, remaining butter, salt, and pepper in bowl and spread on cut sides of bread. Sandwich bread back together and wrap loaf in foil. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

3. Carefully unwrap bread and place halves, buttered sides up, on baking sheet. Bake until just beginning to color, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set oven to broil.

4. Sprinkle bread with cheese. Broil until cheese has melted and bread is crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer bread to cutting board with cheese side facing down. Cut into pieces. Serve.


The tiramisu is a simple and easy recipe from Epicurious. I’ve made it half a dozen times and it has yet to fail me.

aunt enza's tiramisu Other | December 1996


Makes 6 servings.

Faith Willinger

ingredients
1 cup unsweetened espresso coffee (around 8-10 shots of espresso)
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup mascarpone
2 tablespoons Marsala (optional)
4 oz. soft ladyfingers
unsweetened cocoa or bittersweet chocolate for garnish
preparation
Prepare the espresso and cool completely. Separate the eggs, discarding the white from 1 of them. Beat 2 egg whites with 1 tablespoon sugar until it forms soft peaks. In another bowl, beat 3 egg yolks with the remaining sugar until thick and pale yellow. Add the mascarpone and Marsala to the egg yolk mixture and blend until well combined. Lightly fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture.

Dip ladyfingers, one at a time, in espresso coffee and line the bottom of a 2 quart bowl or serving dish with about 1/3 of the cookies. Cover with about 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture. Continue building the tiramisù making 3 layers of cookies topped with 3 layers of mascarpone mixture. Dust the finished tiramisù with unsweetened cocoa or chop up some bittersweet chocolate and use it to spell out AUGURI on top. Refrigerate at least two hours.

Note: The eggs in this recipe are uncooked. Food safety experts caution that consuming raw eggs can expose you to salmonella contamination. Immuno-compromised patients, the very young and the elderly should not eat raw eggs.


Lastly, it was after midnight and we were on our third game of Settlers of Catan (I won 2 out 3 games!) and what’s better than pizza? I had a batch of the basic dough I’ve blogged about before and I just tossed together a fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil pizza and an olive pizza. I love the thin crackly crust this dough makes.


 

Baked Manicotti
from the Episode: Italian-American Classics

We prefer Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles for their delicate texture resembling fresh pasta. Note that Pasta Defino and Ronzoni brands contain only 12 no-boil noodles per package; the recipe requires 16 noodles. The manicotti can be prepared through step 5, covered with a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped in aluminum foil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. (If frozen, thaw the manicotti in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.) To bake, remove the parchment, replace the aluminum foil, and increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Serves 6 to 8

Tomato Sauce
228-ounce cans diced tomatoes (in juice)
2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
3medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2teaspoon hot red pepper flakes , optional
Table salt 
2tablespoons chopped fresh basil  

Cheese Filling and Pasta
3cups part-skim ricotta cheese 
4ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
8ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
2large eggs , lightly beaten
3/4teaspoon table salt 
1/2teaspoon ground black pepper 
2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves  
2tablespoons chopped fresh basil  
16no-boil lasagna noodles (see note above)


1. For the Sauce: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Pulse 1 can tomatoes with their juice in food processor until coarsely chopped, 3 or 4 pulses. Transfer to bowl. Repeat with remaining can tomatoes.

2. Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes (if using) in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasoning with salt.

3. For the cheese filling: Combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper, and herbs in medium bowl; set aside.

4. To assemble: Pour 1 inch boiling water into 13 by 9-inch broilersafe baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels; discard water in baking dish and dry baking dish.

5. Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 1 1/2 cups sauce. Using soupspoon, spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered.

6. Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil. Remove baking dish, adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element), and heat broiler. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Broil until cheese is spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve.

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