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

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

Lime Glazed Sweet Potatoes

photo 3When I think of sweet potatoes I usually imagine changing leaves outside, snuggling into a warm sweater, and gearing up for the holidays. However, this nutritious staple can be eaten year round, and when dressed up with a summer twist, it hits the spot just right!

Lime Glazed Sweet Potatoes

1 lime

3 tbsps honey

olive oil

cilantro to taste

salt/pepper

3 large sweet potatoes

  1. After washing, cut the potatoes into very thin strips. I prefer them to be thinner because they cook quicker on the stove top. Leave skins on if you prefer.
  2. On medium heat, warm olive oil (enough to lightly cover the pan) and add sweet potatoes. Sautee for 5-7 minutes until cooked.
  3. In bowl, mix honey, lime, cilantro, and salt and pepper.
  4. Throw mixture into the sautee pan with the sweet potatoes and stir continuously until coated and the liquid evaporates. Make sure not to leave it or else it may burn with the sauce.
  5. After a couple minutes, remove from heat and serve!

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This side dish pairs nicely with a light seafood dish, or is great all by itself!

Eat with all of your heart,

G

Avocado Eggrolls

 

One of my biggest guilty pleasures in life is the avocado egg roll from the Cheesecake Factory. Honestly, I could sit down and order 3 orders and eat them in one sitting. Nothing compares to that warm comforting avocado and the to die for dipping sauce.

However, a quick google search will alert you to the fact that these babies are high in calories, and at over $10 just for the appetizer, can be painful to your wallet as well.

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Enter Pleadings & Pasta. Sure I wanted to create my own at home but I also wanted them to be healthier than the original. Guess what? The do it yourself recipe I whipped up will satisfy that craving immediately and it’s easy to make. Such a great way to kick start off your meal.

 

 

Avocado Eggrolls

By Pleadings & Pasta 2013

Store bought eggroll wrappers (in the fruit and vegetable section by the tofu)

Filling

Cilantro

Olive oil

1 red onion

2-3 avocados (depending on size)

Salt, pepper, and a dash of cumin

1 Lime juiced

 

Dipping Sauce

2/3 cup honey

1/2 lime juice

Cilantro

Spot of Sriracha (if you want a kick!)

 

  1. Mix the filling ingredients together in a bowl. I like to chop my avocados into nice big chunks, as it looks prettier for presentation purposes. Also, dice the red onions as small as possible so you balance the flavor out in the roll.
  2. Line a pan with aluminum foil (oiled) or parchment paper.
  3. Fill the wrappers with a tablespoon full of filling. You don’t want these to be overflowing to the point where the filling falls out.
  4. To wrap: turn the wrapper so there is a pointy edge facing you (as opposed to a straight line). Then, fold the pointy edge away from you over the filling. Then take the left and right side and fold it on top of the side you just folded. Then roll the entire roll closed and place on parchment paper or oiled aluminum foil.
  5. Spread olive oil over the tops of the wrappers. This makes for a crispier egg roll!
  6. Once you’ve filled all of the wrappers, place in an oven at 400 degrees. Cook for 15 minutes or until wrappers are crispy and a light brown.
  7. For the sauce: Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. This is one part of the recipe where your own interests will really effect if you add more or less of the ingredients. Some people like it sweeter others more tangy, so go ahead and be creative!
  8. Once done, serve hot (oh that warm avocado!) with the sauce.

I dare you to have just one. Spoiler alert: It’s impossible.

 

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

Bistro Sliders

 

 

 

Hamburgers for many foreigners are a symbol of American cuisine. What once was a basic beef patty, lettuce, tomato, cheese offering has morphed into a modern day art. Burger speciality restaurants have opened all across the nation, and chefs and restaurant goers alike are becoming more adventurous in their burger tastes. These “risk takers” range from lamb burgers to topping your patty with a fried egg.photo 4

Burgers are a great way to cover all of your food group basics in one meal, and allow you to truly be creative in your execution of the recipe. Plus with the fourth of July coming up, this recipe is a great one to try and share with your red, white, and blue clad guests.  I will be sharing some of my various burger hybrids on the blog but to start, I present to you the Bistro Slider. The mixture of flavors on this recipe was mindblowingly delicious. Savory, tangy, and down right delicious.

Bistro Sliders

By Pleadings and Pasta 2013

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup of sliced crimini mushrooms

Low fat feta cheese

Dijon Mustard or Trader Joe’s Garlic Aioli (a favorite!)

Lettuce of choice (leaf lettuce or spinach works)

Slider buns

1lb Lean ground beef

Salt, pepper, and olive oil

 

`1. Take the ground beef and mix a few drizzles of olive oil, and salt and pepper together. (I’ve gone back and forth on the use of eggs to bind burgers and for this particular recipe, I go without it and they turn out delicious!)

2. Heat a skillet on the stove top to medium heat and form the patties to fit in the cup of your palm. You want them to be small enough to fit on your slider buns

3. Cook thoroughly (about 4 minutes each side until inside cooked to your preference) and remove from heat.

4. Meanwhile toast the slider buns (Can be done on the stovetop by buttering and heating over warm heat, or in the oven, or a toaster. It’s up to you!)

5. Create the mushroom topping. Sautee the crimini mushrooms in a little olive oil until cooked through (approximately 6-8 minute). If you are feeling daring add a dash of soy sauce or terriyaki sauce for flavor.

6. Spread dijon mustard on the buns. Then lay lettuce, patty, mushrooms, feta, and bun in that order.

7. Serve with sweet potato fries or a fresh salad and enjoy!

I kid you not, I sat in my kitchen making “yum” noises the entire time I ate these burgers. The combination of flavors is that good.

What’s your favorite burger combination? Better yet, how daring have you been in your search for the perfect burger toppings?

Eat with all of your heart,

G

Zucchini Flower Poppers

photo 3One of the delicious Calabrese traditions I grew up with was sitting down for a plateful of Nonna’s famous fried zucchini flower fritters before our main course. If you haven’t tried a zucchini flower before, you are missing out! These flowers are delicate, flavorful, and beautifully colored, and make for a great appetizer to any  meal.

Since my zucchini plant has been blooming with many flowers this season, I took it as a sign that it was time to fry up the delicious zucchini flower fritters I grew up on, but with my own Pleadings & Pasta twist.

photo 2So I took to reconstruct the traditional recipe but with a more modernized pub flair. I am a big fan of jalapeño poppers, but often find them to be a bit too heavy for my liking. So, instead, I took the concept of the jalapeño popper, “Mediterraneanized” it, and arrived at the delicious and comforting Zucchini Flower Poppers recipe below.

The great thing about this recipe is it’s customizable, easy to make, and is a perfect summer recipe to accommodate all of the summer blooming zucchini blossoms. Also, it gives you that to die for combination of warm gooey cheese in the middle of fried goodness, but with a lighter feel. Watch out though, that means you’ll probably want to (and be able to) eat more of them!

Zucchini Flower Poppers

by Pleadings & Pasta © 2013

Ingredients

  • 12-13 zucchini blossoms; delicately rinsed and stamens removed*
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil or your other favorite fresh herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup of flour
  • 3/4 cup of beer (whatever is on hand, preferably a lighter or wheat beer)
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Rinse off your flowers and let them dry completely. This will help in the frying process. You can let them air dry on a paper towel or alternatively in the fridge to keep them fresh and prevent wilting
  2. Continue by mixing the goat cheese, chopped herb, salt and pepper together and set aside
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour and beer  together. Add a pinch of salt to the mixture. The consistency should be like that of pancake batter.photo 1
  4. Start filling the zucchini blossoms with a mound of the goat cheese mixture.. Be careful not to tear the flower petals. I noticed it was easiest to insert a rolled up ball of the  mixture right inside that wasn’t too large so it sat at the bottom inside of the flower. Push the petals together to close up the flower so the filling doesn’t escape during frying.
  5. Fill a pan or pot with several inches of olive oil or frying oil of choice. Heat to medium heat, or approximately 350 degrees.
  6. Place the filled zucchini blossoms into the batter until fully coated, then lay them into the hot pan of oil. After 2-4 minutes the first side will be brown, and you can flip them over for another 2-4 minutes. Remove from the heat once golden brown and let them drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
  7. Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese as a finishing touch and serve!

photo 2This Pleadings & Pasta original was by far one of my favorite creations, and it’s sure to become a favorite of yours too. And of course, wash down the delectable poppers with the beer you used for the batter to bring the pub atmosphere into your very own kitchen.

A quick gardener’s note for those using flowers from their own garden. I am a new gardener, and I was hesitant to start picking the beautiful flowers I worked so hard to take care of before they became bright green zucchini.photo 1 However, rest assured you can pick the male zucchini flowers (skinny stem with stamen in the middle) as they only serve the purpose to pollinate the female flowers and never will become zucchini. So once your female flowers are pollinated, don’t let them the male flowers go to waste and fry up a few with the recipe above!

Eat with all of your heart,

G