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Giovanni Rana Pasta and Sauces

pasta1

TORTELLONI PROSCIUTTO w/ MARINARA

I recently had the opportunity to try the new line of Giovanni Rana fresh pastas and sauces. If you live in NY or Italy you may be familiar with Giovanni. From what I read online, he is a very popular guy and has a restaurant in Chelsea Market. All varieties of pasta tasted great but my favorites were the spinach and the mushroom ravs. I don’t have an Italian grandmother but if I did I imagine her bolognese sauce would be just like Giovanni’s. I was really impressed.

pasta2

FETTUCCINE PAGLIA E FIENO w/ BOLOGNESE

ranaThe best part is that you can have dinner on the table in 10 minutes. No exaggerating. The pasta cooks in under 4 minutes.  Find the Rana products in your local safeway supermarket –refrigerated section.

Thanks Gio!

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Risotto with Leeks, Shiitake Mushrooms & Truffle Oil


This was the  first recipe I made with items from my Full Circle organic produce delivery. Mike is not a fan of truffle oil but he loved this dish. All the ingredients worked together magically!

Tip: It was hot out and I was not about to turn on the oven… so for the mushrooms I just sauteed them in a pan!

shrooms & onions                     leeks & cream                              rice & stock

Recipe link
Bon Appétit | September 2007

Redd Wood

Famed chef Richard Reddington has opened a casual Italian eatery in Yountville down the street from his Michelin star restaurant REDD.

We arrived early on a Friday night and the restaurant was pretty empty except for the mini bar area which was standing room only. The tables around us seemed to be filled with locals as they knew the staff and brought plenty of their own wine. We were seated in a cozy corner booth that had a view of the entire restaurant. We decided to get a sampling of eats to share. We started off with the grilled artichokes with balsamic & Parmesan cheese which was crazy good but messy. I wouldn’t recommend ordering if you are on a first date. The balsamic glaze ended up all over our fingers and dripping down our arms (but maybe this just happens to us :) ).

Next, potato gnocchi w/ duck leg, rosemary, olives & pancetta. There was no real sauce just the natural juices from the duck. LOVED this.


Of course we had to try one of the wood fired pizzas. We went with the basic fresh mozzarella, tomato & basil. I was expecting this to be my favorite part of our meal but it wasn’t. It was good but the crust was a little over-charred which left a burnt taste in my mouth. Minor mishap.


We finished with the chocolate caramel tart w/ praline & sea salt which was highly reccomended by our server. It was super rich so we had a hard time finishing it. If you are a chocolate lover this dessert is for you!

I didn’t know what to expect when we arrived since the reviews I had read were hit and miss but I really enjoyed the food, service and vibe so I will definitely return.

Rating: 

Website: http://www.redd-wood.com/

Redd Wood on Urbanspoon

SPORTELLO restaurant & DRINK cocktail bar

On our second evening we ventured to the waterfront area for dinner and drinks at Sportello and Drink, both owned by one of Boston’s most renowned chefs Barbara Lynch.

Sportello (Italian for counter) is a modern Italian take on a diner. The restaurant is composed of almost all counter seating with an open kitchen. The vibe is young and hip…you have to be to sit on a stool for 2 hours : )

We started with the beat, avocado & crab salad and they brought some of the softest bread I’ve ever had along with a cheese, oil & jam concoction that was to die for.

    

Mains included: tagliatelle pasta with sauce bolognese and fried basil for me and anson mills polenta with wild boar ragu for Mike.

 

We finished things off by splitting an ice cream sandwich composed of salty pistachio cookies and chocolate gelato (grand combo). All the food was simply prepared and presented but tasted fantastic. I would come back here in a heartbeat. Bravo Barbara!

Website: http://www.sportelloboston.com/

Sportello on Urbanspoon

Located under Sportello is the bar Drink. This was the first time we had been to a bar that specializes in the art of cocktails. When you arrive you can’t just belly up to the bar and yell at the bartender. You have to wait for the hostess to show you to a spot either at a stool at the bar, or at the standing only counter tops that run along the walls. Then a server will come and take your order. There is no drink menu (except if you have wine) you simply tell your server your favorite flavors, liquor, or mood you are in and they will return with a drink prepared especially for you by a mixologists. We normally don’t drink cocktails so we had no idea what to order but our server returned with two really nice drinks without much input from us: Gimlet (gin/lime) for Mike and a Bohemian (vodka/grapefruit) for me. This was the perfect ending to our night out.

Website: http://drinkfortpoint.com/

Ratings:

Drink on Urbanspoon

Shrimp and Fingerling Potatoes in Tomato Broth


My bread was super happy to slop up this broth. It was tasty and hearty but next time I would add some more variety of fish. Maybe scallops and halibut.

Recipe link
Bon Appétit | February 2009

Grilled Pizza

I’ve read articles about grilling pizza for years. We finally gave it a go. I don’t know if I’ve said it before but pizza may be my favorite food. I can eat it daily. To make life easy we used Trader Joe’s pre-made pizza dough. A 1 pound ball produces one large regular crust pizza with a crispy outside and soft inside or two thin crust pizzas. We had 2 balls one white and one wheat so we tried both sizes. It was much easier to make two small pizza’s… being able to flip raw dough onto the grill without making a mess takes mad skilz.

What we made:
Wheat pizza dough with onions,peppers, shrooms, buffalo mozz and tomato sauce.
White pizza dough with tomato sauce, buffalo mozz, fresh basil, crushed black pepper and sea salt.

Step by Step Instructions

The directions say to brush the raw dough with olive oil before grilling. We used olive oil mixed with crushed garlic cloves to add a little zing.

It was time consuming to make but well worth it. The pizza turned out delicious. Just like those fancy artisanal pizza joints with brick ovens.

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Creamy Tomato Soup

tomato soup

We just received a copy of a new cookbook published by Mike’s family friend. The book is filled with mouthwatering classic Italian recipes that are simple and quick to prepare. The prominent theme throughout is the importance of eating together as a family and it stresses the benefits of getting children involved with cooking at home at an early age. Recipes come complete with kitchen tips, weekly menus and shopping lists for people on the go. It also includes useful sections that help you decide what to make with the items you have in your fridge and how to turn leftovers into a delicious meal.

The first thing we decided to make was the tomato soup because we had some ripe heirloom tomatoes that needed to be devoured. The soup turned out lovely and surprisingly light. We paired it with a grilled cheese panini. Delightful!

If you’re looking for easy, healthy and flavorful dishes pick up a copy of Cooking Dinner: Simple Italian Family Recipes Everyone Can Make by Rima Barkett & Claudia Pruett

Recipe for Creamy Tomato Soup
Adapted from Cooking Dinner by Barkett & Pruett

1/4 cup olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 celery rib, chopped fine
4 fresh basil leaves
1 small sprig fresh oregano
1 small sprig fresh thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
dash ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28-oz can quality diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, optional

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic,onion,carrot and celery. Saute 5-8 minutes, stirring often. Add herbs, salt, pepper and wine, reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes more. Add diced tomatoes and 1 cup broth. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 min. Remove from heat. Remove herbs and blend soup with an immersion blender or in small batches in blender. Be careful of hot liquid! Add remaining broth and cream. Reheat over low heat until barely boiling. Taste and adjust salt/pepper.

*We used 1/2 canned and 1/2 fresh tomatoes. Makes 4 small bowls or 2 large.


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