Friday, March 31, 2017

Carbonara with Crispy Prosciutto

Carbonara is one of my husband's favorite pasta dishes, and since we had extra prosciutto and Parmesan after our recent Italian breakfast, it made for a perfect easy dinner.  Although prosciutto isn't the most common pork product you see in carbonara recipes, it ended up working really well -- the flavor is amazing and it got nicely crisp in a little hot oil on the stove top.  The key to a creamy sauce (instead of scrambled eggs) is just to work quickly as you toss the hot noodles into the raw egg-and-cheese sauce.  Make sure to save some of the cooking water from the pasta -- you can add it a little at a time if the pasta looks too dry. 

Carbonara with Crispy Prosciutto

12 ounces spaghetti or another long, thin pasta
1-2 T olive oil
3 ounces or so thinly sliced prosciutto, sliced into thin ribbons
A handful of frozen peas, thawed
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 cup (or so) finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with a little salt.  When it boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining.

While the pasta water boils, heat the olive oil in a skillet until shimmering.  Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring often, until it starts to get a little crispy.  Add the peas, stir to combine, and keep warm on very low heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, whole egg, Parmigiano Reggiano, and pepper.  

Drain the pasta, and immediately transfer it to the bowl with the egg-cheese mixture.  Working quickly, toss everything together with tongs.  Add some of the reserved pasta water as needed to make a creamy sauce.  Stir in the prosciutto-pea mixture, taste, and adjust for seasoning.  Serve hot.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Italian Breakfast and Pizza

Last year this time we were in Italy, so we decided to recreate the wonderful breakfasts we enjoyed there: chocolate and almond croissants from Trader Joe's (surprisingly good!), Prosciutto di Parma, soppressata, Parmigiano Reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, bread, jam, fruit, and espresso.  Glorious!  Definitely a splurge, but so worth it.

Because I bought far too much meat and cheese, we had plenty of leftovers.  We used some of them on the pizza below, which has homemade basil-pecan pesto, buffalo mozzarella, and soppressata as toppings -- so good!

Basil-Pecan Pesto

1/2 cup pecans
1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil
1/4 cup + 2 T extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of salt (more to taste)

1. Place the nuts and garlic in a food processor or mini chopper, and process until they just start to break down.  Add the cheese and pulse another few times.
2. Add the basil and pulse a few times.  Then add the oil, lemon juice, and salt, and pulse until the pesto is as chunky/smooth as you like it.  Taste and add more of anything to make things taste perfect!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mix-In Muffins

This is a really fun recipe because you get a bunch of flavors of muffin out of one recipe.  The muffins are also made for freezing, so you can stash a big bag in your freezer and thaw just a few at a time when you're ready for them.  Alternately, they'd be fun to make for a potluck or brunch party since everyone can have their favorite flavor.  I made chocolate chunk, cranberry + lemon zest, blueberry, and jam + coconut flakes, but really the sky is the limit!

Mix-In Muffins (adapted from Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook)
Makes 1-1/2 to 2 dozen muffins (depending on size)

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Your choice of mix-ins such as blueberries, cranberries, chocolate chips, jam, dried fruit, coconut flakes, cinnamon chips, raspberries, etc.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Whisk together the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla.  Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined -- be careful not to overmix.
4. If you'd like to make just one kind of muffin, add about 1-1/2 cups total of your chosen mix-ins.  Otherwise, divide the batter in half.  Fill the muffin tins about halfway full, and then add in a few berries, chocolate chips, or other mix-ins, or a small spoonful of jam.  Then top with the remaining batter, and add a few more of your mix-ins on top, either keeping the muffins consistent or topping them with something different...your choice! I made blueberry muffins, chocolate chip muffins, cranberry muffins, and jam-filled muffins topped with coconut flakes.
5. Enjoy warm! Or, when the muffins are fully cooled, stash them in the freezer for quick and easy breakfasts.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and freeze until just hard.  Then pack in gallon-sized freezer bags, removing as much air as possible before sealing the bag.  Thaw at room temperature overnight when ready to eat.