Filet Mignon with Balsamic Reduction and Goat Cheese

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Too much of a good thing is impossible. At least when it comes to goat cheese.

I am a goat cheese fanatic, and I am always looking for new ways to incorporate this rich and flavorful cheese into my recipes. Plus, for those that are lactose intolerant, it’s an LI friendly cheese!

Now, although Pleadings & Pasta likes to create original dishes, sometimes you come across a flawless recipe that needs to be shared with everyone. This recipe is one of those.

Ms. Giada De Laurentiis is my culinary muse, and her effortless approach to cooking is embodied in this recipe for a filet mignon with balsamic reduction and goat cheese.

The tangy balsamic reduction brought me back to my epic dinner at Acqua al 2 in Florence, Italy where I had a similar dish. The goat cheese melts so beautifully and makes for a fancy, but easy meal.20131014-122808.jpg

Eat with all of your heart,

G

Nutella Banana Fold-Overs

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Sometimes you just want dessert. Warm, gooey, chocolatey dessert.

However you don’t have a whole afternoon to dedicate to making a decadent dessert. So in honor of a visit to a dear friend and fellow chef in training, I made these nutella banana fold-overs as the perfect finish to our meal.

As a young girl I grew up on Nutella sandwiches. All of the kids in the lunch room would ask me how I convinced my mom to make me “chocolate sandwiches” and at the time, I had no idea how I was so fortunate. But, later on I learned Nutella is a staple of many European households, and growing up Italian-American, we were no exception to this rule!

Although I don’t eat Nutella as often as I did when I was a kid, it is still such a special treat for me and this recipe is a great way to get your Nutella fix.

Nutella Banana Fold-Overs

1/2 cup Nutella

Frozen phyllo dough or pastry dough equivalent

Sliced Bananas

1. Defrost the dough, and cut into squares

2. Fill with nutella and a few bananas

3. Fold over into a triangle shape, bake on 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

4. Serve warm (be careful though, I wasn’t patient and burned my  mouth in the process since it was fresh out of the oven)

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Eat with all of your heart,

G

Rosemary Rack of Lamb

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Fall is here.

With the changing leaves, and chilly temperature comes the desire for rich, flavorful dishes to usher out the light, refreshing ones of summer.

Rack of lamb has always intimidated me with its fancy presentation, and the ability to truly destroy it by over or undercooking it. However, I took up the challenge and the result was juicy, tender, and downright delectable.

Rosemary Rack of Lamb

Pleadings & Pasta 2013

1 Rack of Lamb

Olive oil

5-7 Sprigs of Rosemary

4-6 cloves of garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Generously salt and pepper the rack of lamb. Crumble the rosemary sprigs and rub vigorously into the meat on both sides. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and put in fridge for 2 hours.

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2. Remove lamb from fridge and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, still wrapped.

3. Heat up a skillet to medium to high heat. Remove lamb from wrap, and brown the lamb on both sides (about 3-4 minutes per side). Meanwhile heat up the oven to 400 degrees.

4. Transfer the rack to a pre-heated cookie sheet wrapped in foil and place in pre-heated oven.

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5. Cook for 12-15 minutes and then flip and repeat. Regularly check the lamb to determine how cooked the inside is. Some of my guests prefer their lamb more “well” whereas others like it more rare.

6. Remove and transfer to a cutting board. Slice according to the bone, and serve with mashed potatoes, asparagus, or your side of choosing!

 

 

Eat with all of your heart,

 

G

Mac and Goat Cheese

Sometimes the 10 year old inside of me craves a big, heaping bowl of Mac n’cheese.

It’s then that the adult in me reminds me that although satisfying in the moment, I won’t feel so good afterwards.

So, to satisfy my craving for this indulgent comfort food, I whip up a healthier and more lactose friendly version I like to call Mac and Goat Cheese.

Mac and Goat Cheese

By Pleading and Pasta 2013

2 small logs of goat cheese (one herbed and one regular)

1/4 cup of almond milk

1 lb of pasta (I like elbow macaroni but you can sub your favorite cut including whole wheat and gluten free varieties)

1 package of sweet cherry tomatoes (or some from your garden!)

1 cup of chopped fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and set aside.

2. Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente.

3. Strain the pasta. Leave in colander and put the pot back on low to medium heat. Add almond milk and goat cheese. Stir until somewhat melted then add pasta, tomatoes, and basil.

4. Keep stirring until fully incorporated.

5. Serve hot and enjoy!

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This dish is quick, easy, and really hits the spot. Mix it up with different flavors of goat cheese or other garnishes!

Eat with all of your heart,

G

Buccatini in Sweet Potato Sauce

photo 2Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I love more than pasta in a traditional tomato based sauce. It’s my ultimate comfort food.

However, sometimes it’s great to mix up your favorite cut of pasta with the ingredients you have on hand to make something new, exciting, and unexpected.

Today I have a Pleadings & Pasta original recipe for you that’s just that! The following is a recipe for pasta in a sweet potato sauce. Yes you read that correctly. It’s creamy, comforting, and jam packed with antioxidants, Vitamin A, and other nutrients.

The best thing is, this has the rich creamy consistency of an alfredo or heavy cream sauce, but without the extra calories and heavy feeling afterwards. If you are lactose intolerant you can leave out the cheese, and this sauce is still just as delicious.

Buccatini con Sugo di Patate Dolci (Buccatini in Sweet Potato Sauce)

by Pleadings and Pasta, 2013

5 sweet potatoes (peeled, cut, and boiled)

Half of a yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/4 cup of soy milk (can use almond or regular milk as well)

1/4 cup chopped basil

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (parmesan)

Half package of pasta (I used DelVerde bucatini No. 6, really picked up the sauce nicely!)

A high quality olive oil for sautéing (I used Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

1. Boil the sweet potatoes until soft. Drain and put in a cup so you can use a hand blender/emulsifier to blend the vegetables.

2. Sautee garlic, onions, and basil in olive oil for 2-3 minutes until tender.

3. Bring water to a boil and put pasta in. Cook for 6-10 minutes until “al dente.” The DelVerde pasta I used is handcrafted in Italy in the Abruzzo region, and really seemed to pick up the sauce nicely.

photo 24. Remove the sautee from the heat and stir in with the boiled vegetables in the cup. Add the soy milk and blend with the hand blender until smooth. Add more basil if you would like and add salt and pepper to taste.

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5. Stir in parmesan and mix and taste. Add more if you would like.

6. Strain pasta, and put back into the pot. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top and add the sauce. Toss, and serve hot.

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Enjoy this with a fresh summer salad, refreshing glass of white wine, and wonderful company.

Lastly, I would like to thank La Cucina Italiana Magazine for selecting me to serve as one of their Blogger Ambassadors. Delverde and Lucini, both Italian brands, were kind enough to send over some of their products for me to try and I was excited to incorporate them into one of my new favorite original recipes. Grazie mille!

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Lucini’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Tuscany provided a robust nutty flavor to the dish.

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Delverde pasta, from the Abruzzo region, is made using bronze dies to cast the shape of the pasta. This makes for a pasta that truly clings to the sauces, making for a nice clean presentation. The pasta was perfectly al dente.

Eat with all of your heart,

G

This recipe is posted as an entry in the Delverde DISH YOUR BLOG recipe contest to try to win a trip to NYC. Some entrants may have received free sample products in addition to the opportunity to compete for the prize.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

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After just getting back from the grocery store, I suddenly had a craving for chocolate cake. I took a look at what I had purchased, what I had in my pantry, and didn’t have the ingredients I needed for a classic cake. So, I decided to accept the challenge and find a recipe that put together all of the ingredients I had on hand to make a rich, tasty treat.

Enter Miss Nigella Lawson. To be honest, I was skeptical about using olive oil in a dessert, but the final product was divine. Moist, flavorful, and not overly sweet. You can find her Chocolate Olive Oil Cake Recipe here. (Note there is a gluten free version as well!)

However, I made a few Pleadings & Pasta adjustments I would like to suggest to my readers.

First, I love my cake to be extra chocolatey so I added an additional tablespoon of cocoa, and also after cooking the cake for about 15 minutes, I topped the cake with dark chocolate chips. Don’t put them on top before cooking it a bit or else they will sink to the bottom and burn to the baking dish. The extra chocolate makes the dessert even more indulgent!

Lastly, I sauteed some fresh berries in sugar and a little bit of water to make an outstanding topping for this rich cake. I think this cake could be even better with a dash of espresso. Definitely will be trying that on the next bake around!

Eat with all of your heart,

G

Baked Garlic and Herb Lobster Tail

photo-1One of my favorite indulgences is lobster. When I’m celebrating a big event, it’s always my go to dish of choice. There’s something about it that just feels celebratory and grand.

Fresh lobster is by far the best for cooking, and makes for a delicacy when served. Unless you live near the ocean, very fresh lobster is hard to come by. When you do find it, it’s usually very expensive. So I was on a mission to find a way to prepare frozen lobster in a way that would make it taste as divine as fresh lobster.

Since embarking on my mission, I’ve discovered several new ways to cook my lobster beyond the bland steaming method, and I think you’ll enjoy the fruits of my experiment. On deck today, we have the Baked Garlic and Herb Lobster Tail. If you have never tried baked lobster, you’re in for a treat.

Baked Garlic and Herb Lobster Tail

by Pleadings & Pasta © 2013

*Note, the recipe below is for one lobster tail. Multiply accordingly based on the number of lobster tails you have.

Ingredients

1 frozen lobster tail, defrosted

2-3 tablespoons of butter at room temperature, (amount depending on preference)

4 basil leaves

2 cloves of roasted garlic*

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Take the defrosted lobster out of the fridge and with a set of kitchen scissors (not regular scissors) cut through the shell upward. You will want to start at the base (away from the tail) and cut upward toward the tail in a straight line. Right before you reach the end of where the meat meets the tail, stop.

2. Pull back the shell and pull the lobster meat up and on top of the shell. Now take a knife and cut an incision in the lobster meat down the center. The same way (vertical) that you cut the shell. Congrats, you just completed butterflying a lobster!

3. Take the garlic* (see recipe for roasting below) and mix together with chopped basil leaves. I was thrilled to use some of the fresh basil from my garden. Press the two together in the bowl to allow the flavors to combine. If you have a mortar and pestle, this will be a great time to use it. Add the paste to the room temperature butter and combine thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Place the lobster tail meat side up on a cookie sheet covered in foil. Stuff the lobster (where you made the incision) with the garlic herb butter. Some people really love butter on their lobster so if this isn’t enough whip up more of the mix and stuff the tail until it’s overflowing.

5. Place the lobster tail in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Lobster tail will be done when it is a bright red color. Take out, and serve immediately with a side of choice! I recommend a hearty potato dish and a salad as a nice compliment.

Now if you want to be able to cut into your lobster with a fork and knife, I recommend removing as much of the shell as possible during the butterflying stage, as opposed to just pushing the meat up and over the shell. Pushing the meat over the shell provides a more artistic presentation, but removing most of the shell is more practical for eating purposes.

Either way, once you bite into this lobster, it will be hard to justify paying market price at the local seafood restaurant when you can make this delicacy in the comforts of your own home.

Roasted Garlic Recipe

Such an easy recipe! Roasted garlic adds depth to so many dishes and this recipe can be used in some of your favorite recipes that call for garlic.

Ingredients

1 head of garlic

Olive oil, salt, and pepper

1. Cut the top of the head of garlic off exposing the cloves. Peel off any unnecessary skin on the garlic.

2. Place head of garlic on aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, and salt and pepper. Close up the clove in the aluminum foil (wrap it up like a ball) and place on a cooking sheet.

3. Preheat oven to 275 and let the garlic slowly roast for 45 minutes to an hour.

4. Remove, let cool. Then peel garlic. You can save the garlic in a jar of olive oil in the fridge for a few days for use in other recipes!

Quick Gardner’s tip: Before you cook the garlic, if you take one of the stray cloves and plant it in the ground, you will be able to grow your own bulb of garlic! It’s so easy to grow, and you can even use the snapes (top of the garlic) to cook with as well.

Eat with all of your heart,

G