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Baccala alla Vicentina - Meatballs&Milkshakes

This year’s Feast of the Seven Fishes is probably going to be reduced by a couple courses to maybe 5 or even just 3. The important part of the Feast is that it’s an odd number of courses. The most traditional of my courses is the baccala alla vicentina, which is one of my favorites. After a long soak in water, the rock-hard dried cod is magically transformed back into fish and then gets cooked with potatoes and blended into an amazing spread. It’s not pretty while it’s cooking and the whole process is pretty smelly, but it turns into an amazing dish.

Bay Scallop Crudo with Tangerine - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Next up, bay scallop crudo with tangerine and sea salt and a bowl of shrimp bisque. The sweet bay scallops are slurped down with a tangerine juice reduction and some fruity extra virgin olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt over the top. The bisque gets it’s flavor from sherry or marsala and if possible, homemade shrimp or seafood stock.

Spicy Crab Pasta - Meatballs&Milkshakes

I will most likely round out my Feast of the Seven (or Five) Fishes with some baked clams and a spicy crab pasta that has become a favorite. I’m hoping to get some really delicious dungeness or some other special crab to really take this one over the top for the holidays. Maybe I’ll even experiment with some lobster. Happy holidays!

For more Feast of the Seven Fishes ideas, check out last year’s menu.

And just to let you know, I’ve started a new Facebook page for Meatballs&Milkshakes, so you can follow the blog there! “Like” Meatballs&Milkshakes to keep up to date with recipes in your feed!

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Well, it’s been a challenging couple of weeks on the M&M front; first the hurricane and then my computer decided to die on me. Consequently, I feel like Thanksgiving has snuck up on me. I don’t think I will be making a full Thanksgiving meal this year, however I will do a Thanksgiving-inspired menu. I might include this Angel Hair with Butternut Squash and Sage as a side dish, because there really should a pasta to make it a holiday.

This Farinata would make a great gluten-free appetizer to snack on while the rest of the meal cooks. You can change the toppings to suit your mood, but I liked the olive and cheese combination.

Eggplant Caponata is always a good appetizer as well, and this version is a little Thanksgiving-inspired, with the use of cinnamon.

We usually make a vegetarian option which tends to be a Lasagna or some Stuffed Mushrooms. I always make extra though, because invariably the meat-eaters want them too.

Butternut Squash Soup flavored with apples and sage is a fantastic way to start the meal. I can’t get enough butternut squash in the fall.

Thanksgiving requires a mashed vegetable of some sort,  so I either go with these Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Crispy Prosciutto or some Parsnip Puree.

And of course, we can’t forget the cranberry sauce. I ALWAYS make this Brandied Cranberry Sauce so I have plenty leftover. Stay tuned for some Turkey Pot Pie!

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While we are in the midst of trying to sell the apartment, I’ve been falling back on old favorites. Last night, I made a version of this Puglian specialty, orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage and every time I make it, it brings me back to a night in southern Puglia. The meatiness of the sausage is comforting and warm on a cold fall night.

Fall always means lasagna time for me…I love making it for company too, because I can put it in the oven when they come over and spend time with people, rather than in the kitchen. My favorites for fall are mushroom and roasted carrot and butternut squash.

My favorite fall fruits are definitely pears, and I love to make crostatas with pears and gorgonzola this time of year. I make big batches of dough and freeze them for later, so I can just defrost and put together the filling when I’m running low on time.

Cold weather makes me really crave a good Sunday breakfast, and there’s no better breakfast than egg and pancetta sandwiches on homemade sage biscuits. I still have a couple of these tucked away in the freezer, and I can’t wait to have one this Sunday.

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We have been having a long heat wave here in NY, and I can’t quite bring myself to heat up the kitchen again until it breaks. I’m thinking about some no-cook or quick-cooking meals, and of course, the first thing I think of is salad. I love a beautiful caprese salad with fresh tomatoes and basil. Mozzarella gives it a little substance, so you’re not left hungry.

Of course, gazpacho is a staple of no-cook menus, and I loved this one with watermelon. The shrimp skewers are optional, but if you would like to get outside and grill, go ahead. This would also make an excellent summer lunch with the caprese.

I’ve made this capellini with tomatoes and basil several times since I posted it. It’s light and refreshing, and best of all, it’s done basically in the time it takes to boil water.

If I really start wanting some protein, I might make this ginger glazed salmon. It takes a little longer to cook, but I can do the glaze in a wider pan cut the cooking time down to 15 minutes. Having people over? This looks elegant but it’s so quick.

I still have a little of this blueberry frozen yogurt left in the freezer, and I think I’m going to have to finish it up this weekend. Nothing is better to cool down than some frozen treats.

Unless it’s white wine sangria. This is staple at my apartment all summer. Actually, all year round but in the summer it’s extra perfect.

And if I make it outside to grill this weekend? I think it’s going to be lamb burgers as a change from regular burgers. The cool yogurt and mint sauce helps in the heat too.

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Pictures are always a little more difficult on the road, but I tried my best given the lighting….here are the cooking adventures. Puglia is the home of burrata, so of course I had to make some burrata and tomato crostini. I also did some mozzarella and tomato crostini because these little bocconcini were so delicious. Both had local olive oil and salt on top, and they were absolutely amazing.

I saw some really beautiful zucchini with the blossoms still attached at the little supermarket, so I combined those with some fresh langoustines from the fish guy and some onion and fettuccine.

And of course, Puglia is known for orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe. So I had to have some while there, along with some artichokes (which were not a great success because I couldn’t get them to cook through after being on the stove for an hour and a half!). For the orecchiette recipe, stay tuned because I have my official version later this week!

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I’m back from Italy, and now it’s time to share the amazing meals we had. After a long day of travel, it’s no wonder I forgot to bring the camera to our first dinner at Alberosole in Bari. You’ll have to take my word for it, it was delicious and we feasted. The next day, we were off to some more towns in Puglia, and lunch was at Il Fornello da Ricci. It was an incredible lunch and we didn’t hold back even though we were probably still full from dinner the night before.

We started with the antipasto, which was as decadent and delicious as advertised. Then we moved on to pasta, which included a squid ink pasta with pea pesto and these ricotta gnocchi with truffle shavings. Then there was some lamb and a millefoglie. I was definitely ready for a nap after this one, but it was worth it.

We had many other wonderful meals in Puglia, but I didn’t bring the camera for all of them. The one that I would recommend if you’re ever in the area is the Restaurant at Grotta Palazzese in Polignano a Mare. The food may not stand out, but it’s a truly unique experience because you eat in a beautiful grotto with the waves crashing all around and the candles flickering on the cave walls.

While in Puglia, we visited two wonderful wineries that were gracious enough to give us tours of their facilities. The Cantele Winery outside Lecce gave us a tour of their property, showing us the entire production line. It’s worth trying their wines if you can find them.

We also made it to the I Pastini Vineyard after getting lost countless times. Their vineyards were incredible and they showed us the trulli (a traditional home from Alberobello and nearby) on their property. I can recommend their whites and their Fiano in particular.

Our last dinner in Rome was at Roscioli, a fabulous restaurant where I had such trouble deciding what to get because everything sounded incredible. I ended up starting with the artichoke salad and the salumi (the best salumi I’ve ever had, by the way). And of course, I had to have the carbonara because…When in Rome…

We stayed near the Campo de Fiori, and what better place to go food shopping! I brought back a new ravioli cutter and gnocchi board, so stay tuned for their debut!

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I suppose the most memorable recipe I’ve posted in the first year of Meatballs & Milkshakes has to be my Shaved Asparagus Salad because it won Best Spring Vegetable recipe on Food52 at this time last year. They have been nice enough to spotlight me here and I can’t say enough good things about their wonderful site.

For Christmas, the Feast of the Seven Fishes was definitely another memorable moment– I made seven fish dishes in one night! And we had delicious chocolate pudding to end the night, it doesn’t get much better.

Some of the recipes that really stick out in my mind over the year are obviously pastas. This linguine bolognese that I made for Valentine’s day was unbelievable and it still makes my mouth water.

This tagliatelle with shrimp and cabbage was a recreation from one of my favorite restaurants, and it got some press over on Serious Eats, another of my favorite blogs.

Of course, it all started with my homemade pappardelle with duck ragu. You can see that hopefully my pictures have improved a bit…the recipes were yummy even then though!

And of course, I made my first pork shoulder, slow roasting it and shredding it for tacos which were a big hit. Who knew pork could be so good!

While we’re talking meat, I can’t forget this beef stew that I made…it was by far the tastiest beef stew ever with amazingly delicious carrots. They soaked up the beef juices are were almost better than the beef itself. Almost.

And of course we can’t forget my obsession with the Flour cookbook this year. I made all sorts of cookies from it, including these yummy oatmeal raisin cookies

and chewy chocolate cookies. I’ve almost baked my way through all the Flour cookies, and they’ve all been amazing. Definitely a go-to cookbook that I recommend buying.

As far as other desserts go, there were a lot of pies but the ones I’m looking forward to again most are these: the mini strawberry rhubarb pies that were great for individual servings straight from the freezer, and the quick berry pie. Both are great for summer and I’m hoping it will be another good one!

I’m off to Italy for a week, but I’ve left a couple posts for you while I’m away….and hopefully I’ll bring back some new Italian inspiration! Bring on the broccoli rabe and orecchiette!

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Spring is definitively here, and maybe we’re already into summer with temperatures hitting close to 90 degrees today. It’s time for some no-cook or quick cooking recipes so that I don’t overheat the apartment with the stove. One of my favorites from the cleanse earlier this year was this salmon with pepita pesto. The pesto is really quick and just requires a food processor, and the salmon cooks in less than 10 minutes. It’s delicious and very healthy…perfect for a day like today!

This wonderful fava bean and pecorino salad with mint would pair nicely with the salmon, and it’s a light and refreshing salad for warm days.

A quick and simple pasta is also a good bet when I want dinner in 10 minutes. This spaghetti with cherry tomatoes tastes like spring, with the first good tomatoes of the season. Cherry tomatoes usually have more flavor early in the season than other tomatoes, and when you can get delicious ones, the simplest recipes will show them off the best.

A spring menu would not be complete without a fruit dessert, and this berry pie is so quick and easy.  No need to have the oven on as long as you would for a crisp or regular fruit pie, this flavorful pie is one of my summer night favorites!

And if you absolutely need some chocolate, these broiler s’mores are done in 2-3 minutes and you’ll wish you made more!

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I am always a fan of pasta for a quick weeknight dinner, and so it’s not surprising that I already have several blog posts to choose from. I always love pesto and I have a recipe here, but I also loved this avocado pesto because it was a rich, creamy, and different version of the usual pesto genovese.

As you may have guessed, I LOVE meatballs. I’m pretty sure spaghetti and meatballs is one of my top 5 all-time favorite meals. In fact, just talking about it now makes me want it this weekend. These meatballs are light and flavorful, and the sauce gets extra depth from braising the meatballs in it. I think you’ll love it as much as I do.

This Spicy Pasta with Crab is a new favorite, and of course it’s a Mario Batali recipe. It’s so quick and easy and I just love crab in any form. Use good egg noodles like a tajarin or tagliatelle and it’s even better. You could even use fresh pasta for this one, it would be a great complement to the crab.

This one definitely makes my top 5 meals as well. I love a delicious bolognese, and these fresh spinach linguine were so wonderful with the meaty sauce. The slow cooked meat is so flavorful and it absorbs into the pasta, creating a heavenly dish that transports me to Italy. It’s a lot harder to get me to eat veggies when I could just have seconds of this…

And then there are gnocchi. I love these little pillows of pasta, especially when they are in pesto. They’re also great in other sauces, but they have a way of soaking up pesto that no other pasta does. I keep some in the freezer for a quick meal on a night when I don’t want to cook, and they work beautifully from the freezer directly to boiling water.

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It was a great first year for my latest project, Meatballs and Milkshakes. I had a chance to make both namesakes for my blog, spaghetti and meatballs and affogato milkshakes.

My recipe for shaved asparagus salad won on Food52 and I got all sorts of prizes. (And my recipe will be in print in October 2012!)

I had a great guest blog from Gareth with some music to go along with it, a favorite song around the apartment which reminds me that I still have not blogged about the trip to Ravello and Positano. Well, at least I’ve still got things to do in 2012.

There were a lot of favorites that came out of the kitchen this year, including prosciutto and goat cheese stuffed dates, scallop crudo, burrata and tomato crostini, seared scallops with spinach and pine nuts, chicken with porcini mushrooms, veal saltimbocca, and beef stew.

Of course, I can’t forget all the great pasta– linguine with bacon, peas and mint, pappardelle with duck ragurisotto with spinach, lemon and bay scallops, gorgonzola and mushroom tajarin, linguine carbonara, pesto, spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, gnocchi, and carrot and butternut squash lasagna.

I learned that I loved burrata, Di Palo, and Eataly, and surprisingly, I don’t actually hate all ricotta. I made a surprising amount of pasta by hand and got a ricer for gnocchi.

It wasn’t all Italian all the time, however. There were a lot of cookies, including nutella chocolate chip, chewy chocolate chip, double chocolate, chocolate chip hazelnut, jam thumbprints, and spice cookies.

We celebrated Gareth’s birthday with a delicious chocolate layer cake. We had peach and raspberry crisps and crostatas. I brought zucchini bread on vacation and we had a beautiful and delicious berry pie.

The fall meant apple picking and with it, the bounty of apple-inspired recipes such as apple oat muffins, pork chops with apple chutney, apple pie, butternut squash soup, and apple butter.

Thanksgiving was quickly followed by Christmas and then the whirlwind into New Years.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes was a great success, and my favorites were the marinated sardines, shrimp bisque, and baccala alla vicentina. The chocolate pudding will also be made regularly.

A lot of great friends came over for some really delicious meals and I’m looking forward to more in 2012. Up on the docket are braciole, lasagna, and maybe some healthy dinners like salmon and brown rice in the next couple of weeks….have to balance out the pasta somehow…

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