Fettuccine Lemon Alfredo with Prawns

I’ve grown up in a very Italian family; pasta has its own section of the food pyramid. I thought it was only right that I should make a pasta dish. I decided to try making an alfredo sauce with fettuccine. To up the ante, I also thought I should try out some prawns as well.

I started by cooking the fettuccine in salty water. Adding salt adds flavor to the pasta and the dish as a whole. Once it was al dente, or so the fettuccine is cooked but still has a bite, I drained it and added some butter so the pasta wouldn’t stick together.

Next, I started to make the base of the sauce, with cream, butter, and lemon juice. As that cooked on low, I heated up another pan for the prawns. The prawns I used were deveined but still had their tails on. You can make this recipe with or without tails but you always want them deveined before you start working with them. The prawns cooked about three minutes on a side, or until they were pink.

Once the prawns were cooked, I added them, along with the fettuccine, to the sauce. Once they were combined, I also added lemon zest, parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper. I let this cook on a low setting for a few minutes until the sauce had thickened and coated the pasta.

I served this dish to family who absolutely loved it. Specifically, the alfredo was tangy with the lemon and the prawns weren’t overcooked. This recipe even pleased my family members who do not like Alfredo, so it must be a keeper. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit! 

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Italian Sandwich Cookies

Italian Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate and orange is one of the best combinations in a dessert: the bright citrus mixing with the creamy chocolate; it’s a match made in heaven. The chocolate cookies have orange in them and taste great with the fluffy, orange frosting. This recipe, which comes from one of my favorite Italian chefs, Giada De Laurentiis, will not disappoint at any event.

Italian Sandwich Cookies

To make the cookie dough, I creamed my sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Then, in another bowl, I combined the dry ingredients including orange zest. This recipe also called for cornmeal as well as flour which added a nice crunch to the cookie. Afterwards, I added the dry to the butter mixture and stirred with a wooden spoon until combined. As it turns out, using a wooden spoon decreases the amount of air that goes into the dough which in turn makes for a better cookie.

Italian Sandwich Cookies

I let the dough cool in the fridge for about an hour and then began rolling it out. I cut out round cookies and placed them on a lined cookie sheet. I used a spatula to transfer the cookies from my work surface to the cookie sheet which made it a lot easier and left the round shape intact. While the cookies baked, I combined orange zest, butter, powdered sugar, and a hint of orange juice to make the frosting.

Italian Sandwich Cookies

When the cookies had cooled and the orange frosting was fluffy, I began the process of making cookie sandwiches. I spooned a dollop of  frosting onto a cookie and topped with a second. When I pressed them together, I made sure that the frosting was evenly spread between the cookies. When I tried one, there was just enough of a crunch from the cookie to contrast the creamy frosting and the chocolate and orange flavors both shown. Next time, I might make my cookies a little thinner but otherwise, these cookies were delicious. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading

Potato Gratin

Potato Gratin

In French, potato is “pomme de terre” literally meaning apple of the earth which is odd considering how many differences there are between the two. In any case, a seemingly simple ingredient such as a potato can be brought to life with good ingredients, such as Potato Gratin. Here’s another French lesson: “gratin” signifies that a dish is topped with some kind of bread or breadcrumbs and browned. The twist on this dish is that we mash the potatoes instead of slicing them. This recipe combines the ideas of mashed and baked potatoes and the gratin transforms it into something new.

Potato Gratin

I started by peeling and chopping my potatoes and boiling them with some garlic cloves. This recipe taught me how important salt is to a recipe. Anytime you are boiling a carbohydrate, such as potatoes or pasta, the only way to add flavor is with salt. For these potatoes, I added two tablespoons of salt which boosted the potatoes’ flavor.

Potato Gratin

When a fork was easily inserted into a potato, I knew they were tender and ready to drain. I removed the garlic and returned the potatoes to the pan. Next, I added milk and sour cream and lightly mashed the potato mixture. Unlike when making mashed potatoes, I wanted these to remain chunky because it added texture.

Potato Gratin

Next, I added grated cheddar cheese until it was combined. I didn’t have to worry about the cheese melting because the potatoes were so warm, they took care of it for me. After I poured the mixture into a baking dish, I combined Parmesan, a shake of cayenne pepper, and panko breadcrumbs in a small bowl and sprinkled the mixture evenly over the top. Then, the dish went into the oven. The recipe I used said it should go about twenty minutes but after that time, the top had not browned much so I left it in for a good twenty minutes longer. If I had used a lighter topping of the breadcrumbs, it might have cooked in less time but in the end, I was left with the same result.

Potato Gratin

The potatoes were perfectly cooked and melded nicely with the cheese and topping. It tasted like a baked potato because of the sour cream and chunky potatoes but the topping made it feel special. The hint of cayenne complimented the cheese and potatoes but did not overpower it. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading

Garlic Herb Halibut

Garlic Herb Halibut

I grew up fishing with my dad every summer and bringing home salmon, halibut, and rock fish. Despite having had fish in many ways, I was never much of a fan. That is until I tried this oven-fried halibut recipe! Fish is a relatively healthy dinner recipe; it is packed with protein as well as many minerals the body needs. This recipe is also somewhat healthier than eating fried fish and has more flavor.

Garlic Herb Halibut

To begin, I carefully cut the skin off of the halibut and sliced the fillet into two pieces so that it became twice as thin as before. This way, the cooking wouldn’t take long and I didn’t have to worry about the fish burning in the oven. Then I mixed up the panko with basil, parsley, garlic, and onion powder. Both the herbs added beautiful color to the fish and the garlic gave a nice complimentary flavor.

Garlic Herb Halibut

I first dredged the halibut fillets in flour. I made sure all the sides were covered evenly. Then I dipped each fillet in egg and finally, the halibut was placed in panko mixture. Once both fish were thoroughly covered, I heated up a pan with some olive oil. I decided to cook each fillet separately so that there would be no pan-crowding. Each fish cooked for about two minutes on a side and for part of the time I pressed the fish against the side of the pan so the sides would be cooked as well.

Garlic Herb Halibut

When both fillets were golden brown, I put them in the oven for five minutes and served them with rice pilaf and lemon wedges. The fish was flaky and cooked through but also had a beautiful golden crust on the outside. My mother, who normally hates anything fish, loved this dish and has requested that it be made again! Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading

Chocolate Soufflé

Chocolate Soufflé

Chocolate Soufflé is one of those desserts you see at fancy restaurants and never even consider the possibility that you could make it on your own. As you dig in, steam escapes and with it wonderful, chocolaty smells. As it turns out, if you have a knowledge of melting chocolate and folding ingredients in, you are on your way to making a delicious soufflé.

Chocolate Soufflé

I started by melting the chocolate. I went with a bittersweet chocolate but semi-sweet works just as well. I placed the chopped chocolate into a glass bowl and put it over a pot of almost boiling water. You don’t want to burn your chocolate but you want all of the chocolate melted. Once it was smooth, I set it aside and got to work on the egg yolks.

Chocolate Soufflé

I first combined egg yolks and cream. Then I slowly added the chocolate to the egg mixture. You want to be careful so as not to scramble your eggs while doing this. When they were combined, I added cinnamon and flour. As it turned out, the cinnamon gave the soufflés a nice hint of spice to contrast the sweet chocolate.

Chocolate Soufflé

Beating the egg whites and sugar was easy and I was left with peaks not unlike snowy mountains. When the whites were beaten, I added half of the mixture to the chocolate and folded it in until combined. Then I added that back to the original bowl of egg whites and folded until I was left with a perfect chocolate soufflé batter. It took a little longer than I thought it would and I worried I had lost some of the air that I had incorporated in earlier but everything went fine.

Chocolate Soufflé

I poured the batter three-fourths of the way up and was surprised the recipe only made four instead of the six I thought it would. They baked for a while and came out puffed and once I had decorated with confectioners’ sugar, they were complete. They tasted dense and chocolaty just as you would expect from Chocolate Soufflé. Next time, I will be quicker with my chocolate because I waited a tad too long before adding it to my eggs which made it difficult to incorporate the other ingredients into. Otherwise, I think this recipe will be a new favorite for any upcoming events. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading

Peach Crostata

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crostata is an Italian tart usually made with a jam-like filling. I’ve always been curious as to the difference between a pie and a tart and as it turns out, a pie is made in a deep, angled dish whilst a tart is made in a shallow, straight-sided pan. In Italy, they make a similar pastry called a torta which has a pureed filling unlike the crostata which is known for chunky fruit such as apricots, peaches, or cherries.  Since it is peach season, I though this peach crostata would be perfect. The local grocery store in my area has proclaimed August “Peach’o’Rama” and stocks some of the juiciest, sweetest peaches around.

Peach Crostata

I began by making the dough by cutting butter into flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. I wasn’t so sure about the lemon but it added a nice tart flavor to the sweetness of the sugar. After the flour and butter combined, I added a egg and vanilla extract and mixed until the dough formed. Then I kneaded it and left it to chill in the fridge. You can actually leave this dough chilling for as long as overnight but to be honest, I’m not sure anyone would want to wait that long.

Peach Crostata

I chopped the peaches and could tell by the color and texture that they were going to turn out great in this tart. I added sugar and flour to really get the juices flowing and to thicken it some and let that sit whilst I rolled out the dough. I first rolled out a larger round that would become the base of the tart. It took a few tries to get a truly circular pastry, but finally, I was able to roll it back onto my rolling pin and into the tart pan. After adding the filling, I rolled out the second piece of dough. Using a pizza cutter, I cut strips and made my very first lattice crust. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be and if it hadn’t have been for the heat and the fact that the strips started to break in half, it would have looked like one you would find in any pasticceria in Italy. I egg washed the crust and added demerara, which is a course sugar that you can find on many baked pastries.

Peach Crostata

While the crostata was baking, my house filled with wonderful smells and when it came out of the oven, it was a beautiful golden color. You could see the peaches poking through the top crust and slightly bubbling. It not only looked amazing, but tasted great too. The peaches were sweet and thick. I didn’t realize it, but the lemon zest in the crust brought this tart to a new level; you could taste it in every bite and it accentuated the peaches nicely. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

When I was a kid, I would watch a cooking show called Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home which was hosted by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, two acclaimed French chefs. In each episode, they would both create their versions of the same recipe and the best part was to listen to them banter back and forth about the correct way to make the dish. I recently acquired a cookbook of theirs and found a recipe for French Onion Soup.

French Onion Soup

In contrast to my suspicions, it is not difficult to make soupe à l’oignon; it takes time and patience. I started by chopping three large onions. They then went into a saute pan with oil and butter to tenderize. Adding oil to the butter helps keep everything from burning. The onions cooked for almost an hour in total, first at a low heat and later at a higher heat. I added thyme as well as brown sugar as requested by Julia Child which gave the onions a nice color and added a sweetness that really complimented the onion.

French Onion Soup

While the onions cooked, I toasted some baguette slices in the oven until they just started to brown. These would become the croutons ceremoniously found in onion soup. When the onions had caramelized and gone from filling the pan to just coating the bottom, I added liquids. Jacques’ recipe called for chicken stock which was new for me; in the past I have only used beef stock. What I found out was that the chicken stock adds a nice, light flavor unlike the overpowering beef broth.

I allowed the onions and stock to simmer whilst I prepared the ramekins for baking. I placed baguette slices in the bottom of each bowl and grated Gruyére cheese over the top. I thought it was interesting to put the croutons in before the onion soup but as it turns out, they float to the top during baking and they don’t burn because they are soaked in soup. I ladled soup into each ramekin and grated more cheese over the top. This layer browned in the oven and left a cheesy crust that looked and tasted delicious.

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Once they had finished cooking and had time to cool, it was time to dig in. Everyone who tried this recipe of onion soup loved it. The brown sugar paired with the onions and chicken stock had a sweet flavor that accentuated the tones from the cheese. The croutons were soaked through with soup and tasted delicious. I think if I made this recipe again I would saute the onions for a tad longer to get a little darker color but otherwise, this was a success. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken

Chicken has to be one of my favorite of the proteins because of its tenderness and flavor. This poultry dish, flavored with lemon, is one of the tastiest I have made. Before hand, I was tense due to this being my first main course dish for the project. At a meal, the main course is a pretty important component and I wanted to make sure it was done correctly.

Lemon Chicken

I started by making a lemon sauce. I sauteed garlic in olive oil for a very short period of time. Then I added wine, lemon, oregano, and thyme. The sauce smelled amazingly light and lemony. The addition of the oregano and thyme were the fresh, earthiness this dish needed to bring it to the next level. Making the sauce was fairly easy and once I was done, it wasn’t too thick and would go great over the chicken.

Lemon Chicken

I then started on the chicken. I dried them thoroughly and rubbed olive oil over each side. Then I sprinkled with salt and pepper and placed the chicken breasts in a pan. The recipe called for chicken with the skin on  but I chose to use skinless because it is healthier and you can still manage a nice golden color in the oven. I poured the lemon sauce over the top and baked in the oven for about an hour. The recipe said forty minutes but I by leaving them in longer, the chicken got a nice color and when probed with a thermometer, reached the required 180 degrees.

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Once the chicken was done, I allowed it to rest for ten minutes. This kept the juices from immediately leaving the pan when I cut into the chicken.  Then I served it with linguine and drizzled extra lemon sauce over the top. I recommend using a foil-lined pan when cooking the chicken because it will be a much easier clean up once you have finished. This chicken turned out tender and bursting with lemony juices. The herbs added so much flavor to the chicken and it was well received by everyone who tried it. What I liked is that you could serve this with pasta, rice, or even steamed vegetables. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!   Continue reading

Zucchini and Carrot Scapece

Scapece

Marinades are utilized in a variety of recipes with anything from meats to vegetables. The Italian scapece is zucchini and carrots marinated with mint and red wine vinegar. The result is a delicios side dish perfect for just about any meal. I am personally a fan of cooked zucchini and carrots and was interested to try a new spin. What I liked about his recipe was the simplicity of the procedure and the contrasting complexity of flavors in the end.

Scapece

I started by cooking zucchini rounds in olive oil. They didn’t take too long, only a few minutes per side. I had to do three batches of them because I didn’t want the zucchini to overlap in the pan. Once they had a nice color, I transferred them to a deep dish. I tried my best to reserve as much olive oil as I could from them but as it turned out, the oil that didn’t effect the marinading process. I sprinkled salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and thyme and the zucchini were done.

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Next I sauteed all the carrots in the same pan with a little more olive oil. I kept them moving in a pan with a spatula for a little longer than five minutes or so until they started to brown. When they were finished, they retained a slight crunch but were cooked through. I transferred them to the dish and added the remaining salt, pepper, garlic, and herbs.

Scapece

Then the red wine vinegar was added and the vegetables were given a stir. Once they had cooled, they went to marinate overnight in the fridge. I stole a taste just before and even without the time to soak up all the flavors, they were already tasting amazing.

Scapece

Once they had been allowed time to sit, they were ready to serve. Everyone thought the flavors worked well together. The addition of the basil helped bring the mint and vinegar together and gave it a nice, earthy taste. I was skeptical at first about how they would taste with the red wine vinegar but at it turned out, it was just savory enough. The carrots had a sweet taste that went perfectly as well. I really liked the versatility of this dish, it goes with chicken, pasta, virtually anything. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading

Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée

If I had to choose between becoming a restaurant or pastry chef, without even thinking I would choose pastry. There is something so inviting about having exact measurements, it reminds me of a science lab report. You have materials (ingredients), a procedure (instructions), and, in my case, a conclusion (this blog post). While some people consider it irritating, I enjoy the simplicity of baking, such as crème brûlée.

Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée sounds and looks like one of the most difficult things to make. I thought this as I was getting out the eggs, cream, vanilla, and sugar. Then I realized that it only has four main ingredients, unlike other recipes that call for everything but the kitchen sink. I started by heating the cream and vanilla. I used vanilla extract but you can also use vanilla beans or paste. I boiled the cream slightly and left it to cool.

Crème Brûlée

Then  I whisked the egg yolks and sugar until they turned a light color and were thick in texture.  By allowing the cream to cool, I didn’t have to worry about the eggs scrambling as I combined them. I added the cream slowly, so as to temper them which also prevented scrambling. Then I strained the egg and cream mixture into a measuring cup so that it would be completely smooth and so I would have an easier time transferring it to ramekins.

Crème Brûlée

I placed the ramekins into a baking dish just deep enough and poured each almost to the brim with the cream and egg mixture. Then I placed the dish into the oven and poured hot water halfway up the ramekins. By baking them in a water bath, I prevented the crème brûlées from cracking and the water also kept the oven moist.

Crème Brûlée

Once they had set in the oven, I allowed them to cool on the counter before transferring them to the fridge. One of the most important aspects of crème brûlée is that the custard is cool when you serve it. The only way to achieve this is to leave the ramekins in the refrigerator for a few hours, as hard as it may seem.

Crème Brûlée

When they were nice and chilled, I coated the top with a thin layer of castor sugar. Using a fine sugar speeds the torching process because the sugar broils faster. I used a kitchen torch to lightly sear the top of my crème brûlée just until I had a nice golden color.

Crème Brûlée

My mom’s very favorite dessert is crème brûlée which put more pressure on me to do well with this dish. When she tasted it, she told me it was as good as what you would find in a restaurant. I used twice the amount of vanilla the recipe required and it made the custard to die for. It was creamy, light, and so flavorful. The sugar topping cracked as we dug into it with spoons and it had the perfect taste.

Crème Brûlée

To be honest, I don’t normally like crème brûlée because normally, the custard is too eggy and the sugar too burnt. This recipe has changed my mind about the dish for good. This dish looks so beautiful and complicated. If you make this for a dinner party, your guests will be awed and you will know just how easy it really is. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading