Bucket list: Try the real deal at Scarpetta’s. This will have to do for now.
Scarpetta’s Tomato-Basil Spaghetti
Yield: 2-3 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
4 ripe plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
One 12-ounce can of San Marzano or organic whole tomatoes
Pinch of crushed red chili pepper flakes
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
8 fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly crosswise into a chiffonade
8 ounces dried spaghetti
For the Basil-Garlic Oil:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 whole cloves garlic
10 whole fresh basil leaves
Pinch of red chili flakes
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Ease the tomatoes into the pot and boil for about 15 seconds, then promptly move them to the waiting ice water. Pull off the skin with the tip of a paring knife. Cut the tomatoes in half and use your finger to flick out the seeds.
2. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until quite hot. Add the fresh and canned tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and season lightly with the salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes to soften. Then, using a potato masher, chop the tomatoes finely. Cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened.
3. While the tomatoes are cooking, make the basil-garlic oil. Heat a small saucepan over low heat with 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic cloves, basil leaves and pepper flakes. Keep the heat on low to allow the ingredients to warm slowly and release their flavors. When the garlic is lightly browned, turn heat off and let cool for 10 minutes. The longer you let the oil sit, the more infused the oil. Strain the oil, discarding the solids.
4. To cook the spaghetti, bring a large pot of amply salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente and drain, reserve a little of the pasta cooking water.
5. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and cook over medium-high heat, gently tossing the pasta and the sauce together with a couple of wooden spoons and a lot of exaggerated movement until the pasta is just tender and the sauce, if any oil had separated from it, now looks cohesive. (If the sauce seems too thick, add a little pasta cooking liquid to adjust it.) Remove the pan from the heat and toss the butter, basil and cheese with the pasta in the same manner.
6. Drizzle with just a bit of the basil-garlic oil on each plate and serve immediately.
- The sauce yields about 2 1/2 cups. You may use the leftover as dipping sauce for baked mozzarella sticks or spread on bruschetta.
Recipe adapted from Steamy Kitchen
When you think you’ve got no time to cook a simple, healthy, and savory meal, think again. This dish might prove you wrong.
Sautéed Chicken with Mushrooms and Green Beans
Yield: 2 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
8 ounces pound green beans, trimmed
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 chicken tenderloins, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1. Set a steamer basket in a large saucepan; fill with enough water to come just below basket. Bring to a boil; add green beans, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook chicken until opaque throughout, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, and loosely tent with aluminum foil.
3. Place mushrooms and 1 tablespoon butter in skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, about 7 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining tablespoon of butter, lemon juice, and parsley. Top chicken with mushrooms, and serve with green beans alongside.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I have tried one of their famous desserts while visiting California a couple of years ago. Anything paired with caramel sauce is just simply divine!
Bananas Foster Bundt Cake
Yield: 12 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 banana, peeled and sliced
2 bananas, mashed
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2. Butter and flour a 12 cup bundt pan. Pour the melted butter into the bottom, sprinkle on 1/2 cup of the sugar, and top with the sliced banana. Set aside.
3. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, beat together the remaining sugar, room temperature butter, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Mix in the mashed bananas. Slowly beat the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until everything is fully incorporated.
5. Pour the batter over the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool thoroughly in the pan before turning the cake out onto a plate or stand.
Recipe adapted from Hungry Couple
I love everything about Italian food, this one in particular. The combination of rustic braised chicken and aromatic vegetables make this dish very comforting.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 chicken tenderloins, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1. Mix flour, salt and pepper in shallow dish. Coat chicken evenly with flour mixture.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet. Add mushrooms, onions and bell peppers; cook and stir 5 minutes on medium heat or until tender.
4. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Return chicken to skillet. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until chicken is heated through. Serve over cooked pasta or rice, if desired.
Recipe adapted from McCorkmick
This is a very popular dish for Filipinos and it’s usually served during Christmas or New Year’s eve dinners. I felt a little nostalgic when I made this…and I am missing my hometown even more.
Yield: 8-10 servings
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
1 pound dried elbow macaroni
1 recipe sweet-style bolognese sauce, recipe here
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 ounces neufchatel cheese, softened and cubed
salt & pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×13 baking dish and set aside.
2. Cook the noodles a little shy of al dente. Drain and toss the noodles with the sweet-style bolognese sauce. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and spread the pasta evenly.
3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Quickly stir in the flour to form a smooth roux. Once the roux is smooth and bubbly, slowly pour in the milk, briskly stirring to make a smooth sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens.
4. Season with salt and pepper. Add the ground nutmeg and stir in the cheeses. Whisk until all the cheese has melted.
5. Turn off heat and pour the cheese sauce over the pasta, coating evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the topping has slightly browned.
6. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve with garlic toast.
Recipe by JG