dinner

All posts tagged dinner

Shawna Coronado's Pumpkin Harvest

Shawna Coronado's Pumpkin Harvest

Also, happy World Pasta Day!  Good grief, so much going on.  We better get right into

Penne with Basil and Pumpkin Bechamel

Wow…so let’s see…  This recipe is my #meatlessmonday post for Meatless Monday. 

It’s also the last of the 2009 Nude & Eco-Cheap Cooking recipes for this year (boo!  I know, I’m bummed.)  I’d team up with the awesome Shawna Coronado for any cooking challenge anywhere and I am going to miss all her delicious veggies.  Still, as winter touches the Midwest, all her nude (no chemicals) eco-friendly veggies are going away and without the veggies, it’s hard to feed a family of four for less then $10.50! 

But, if she’s up for it, I’m would love to see a 2010 Nude & Eco-Cheap Cooking Initiative!

Oh, and before I forget,  it’s also World Pasta Day, which can only be celebrated by eating pasta.  Which is how we get to this crazy recipe  I dreamed up.  Continue Reading

Shawna Coronado's Pumpkin Harvest

Shawna Coronado's Pumpkin Harvest

Yep, that’s right.  It’s another #meatlessmonday and another installment of the 2009 Nude & Echo-Cheap Cooking Initiative.  Today we’re making

Pumpkin Soup

If you’re not familiar with the 2009 Nude & Eco-Cheap Cooking Initiative, that’s where I take the delicious veggies grown by the always awesome Shawna Coronado and turn them into a meal for a family of four that costs less than $11.50.  Can I do it?

Yes I can with this easy, but delicious pumpkin soup.

I actually love pumpkin season.  I think it’s kind of a shame that it only seems to be popular for about two months.  Still, every year people go NUTS for pumpkins: pumpkin desserts, pumpkin soups, pumpkin coffee drinks, pumpkin pizza, and so on.  Then even before the Thanksgiving leftovers are done…BOOM… everyone’s on to peppermint or sugar cookies or some other Christmas phase.  Anyway, I’m ranting.

The good news is that for the next month or so we can continue to enjoy pumpkin recipes like this one.

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JasperEating with Chef Jasper Mirabile

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen me mentioning a meal I recently had at Jasper’s in Kansas City, MO.  Some of you may have even gotten the chance to see the picture I took of some of the amazing food Chef Jasper made for us.  Others probably saw the repeated comments that at any moment, I was sure I was going to burst.  Despite the worries about my own mortality, that meal was sooooo worth it.

Jasper – The Tradition

To set the stage for this meal, I should let you know that the Mirabile family has been serving up outstanding Italian food to hungry Kansas Citians for over fifty years.  It all began in 1954 when Leonard Mirabile opened Jasper’s with his son Jasper.  According to their website, back then you could get a three course meal for seventy-nine cents.  (I can only imagine how fat I’d be if I could still get Chef Jasper to cook for me for seventy-nine cents…  Yikes.)

Since 1954, Jasper’s has seen a lot of change.  For instance, they moved from their original location on Wornall to Watt’s Mill on 103rd and State Line.  They have also gone from a neighborhood restaurant to one of the most decorated restaurants in the country, earning a Mobil Four Stars for dining excellence, the AAA Four Diamonds and DIRONA award (among others).  The restaurant has also seen a third generation of Mirabile, Jasper’s sons Leonard and Jasper, Jr., enter the restaurant business.

Chef Jasper – The Culinary Icon

However, Jasper’s is more than a restaurant.  If there is a food event in Kansas City, Chef Jasper is probably there.  He teaches numerous classes all over the Kansas City area, on such varied topics as making mozzarella to teaching kids the joy of cooking.  He has cookbooks.  He has a radio show on AM 710.  His smiling face can be found in any Hen House market.  He works with cheese producers to evangelize good, artisan cheeses.  He helps local food producers.  He knows everyone.

In other words, there may be no single name more synonymous with food in Kansas City (which is saying a lot, since Kansas City is starting to establish itself on the culinary map.)

Jasper’s – The Menu

And there I was with Mrs. WellDone at Chef Jasper’s invitation eating the best (and by several pounds of food the largest) meal I have ever eaten.

For reference, here’s the menu:

  1. Lobster cappuccino with pancetta and foam
  2. Shrimp Scampi alla Livornese Over Polenta
  3. An “Appetizer” of Eggplant Othello and Lobster Ravioli
  4. Half a loaf of good Italian bread
  5. Caprese Salad with Mozzarella Made Tableside, Heirloom Tomatos Chef’s Wife Grew, Basil, and a Homemade Balsamic Reduction
  6. A Pasta “Tasting” Consisting Of
    • Pasta Nanni with Prosciutto, peas, romano, mushrooms, and tomato sauce
    • Gagootsa sauce (Italian gourd) sauce over ditali pasta
    • Rigatoni with a Melon cream sauce
  7. For our entrees:
    • Five hour slow roasted pork shank
    • Chicken Saltimbucco
  8. For dessert:
    • Peach Napolean with Chef’s mama’s pastry cream
    • Death by Chocolate
  9. After Dinner Drink:
    • Homemade Amaretto
    • Homemade Limoncello
    • Homemade Anisette
  10. House Wine

With a menu like that, I don’t even know where to start describing everything.  It was all amazing.  However, in the interest of space, I will limit this article to the two times in the meal when the food was so good I lost the ability to speak English.  (Later, I’ll talk about more of the food and maybe sniff out a recipe or two.)
 

Pasta Nanni – The First Moment of Silence

The first time I lost the ability to speak was when I took the first bite of the pasta nanni.  It came served on a long plate with three individual sections, one for each of the pastas on the tasting menu.  I didn’t know what it was, and frankly, I was far more excited about the gagootsa sauce.  However, I think the nanni was closest to me, so I started with it.

Mere words defy the flavor of the pasta.  I can tell you there was salty Prosciutto, earthy tomato, sweet peas, savory mushrooms, and rich cream.  But those are just words.  They cannot convey how perfectly those ingredients worked together.  The saltiness of the Prosciutto was perhaps the lead flavor, but the tomato sauce and the peas wouldn’t let that flavor dominate.  Then there was the touch of cream, giving the dish just enough richness to take it from great pasta to something magical.

As a side note, I have two regrets from the evening at Jasper’s.  The first was that I shared any of that pasta with my wife and the second was that I saved some it for later.  See, our entrees arrived with the pasta course, so there was other pasta, pork osso buco and my wife’s chicken to eat.  All the while, the pasta nanni got cold and while it was good when I got back to it, it was nothing compared to when they first brought it out.  Plus, I think my wife ate all the Prosciutto.  Which is a crime in some places I think.

To this day, I still want more.  I will not consider my life complete unless I can go back to Jasper’s and eat that pasta again. 

Chef Jasper’s Chicken – Pure Bliss

The second moment of bliss so intense words failed me was when I ate my wife’s chicken dish.  When she ordered chicken Saltimbocco, I laughed. 

When I saw it on the menu, I didn’t think it was anything special.  It’s a Roman dish of chicken breast, ham, a little cheese, and some tomato sauce.  Traditionally, it’s rolled, but Chef Jasper says that it dries out the chicken too much so he left it unrolled.  There’s also a sauce made from lemon, stock, white wine, butter, and sage.  But still, when I saw it on the menu, I wasn’t excited.  I came for the big, the fancy, and the impressive dishes with hard names to say (ie osso bucco.) 

Don’t get me wrong, the pork was fantastic, but the chicken Saltimbocco was unreal.  It just worked.  The chicken was moist and the ham was perfect for adding a bit of salt, a bit of pork fat, and a bit of flavor.  The tomato sauce was gently nestled on to the chicken and added a nice bit of earthy tomato taste.  Then there was just enough cheese to top the dish to add a bit of extra saltiness and keep the dish together. 

Then there was the sauce.  That slightly citrusy, slightly tangy, slightly sagey butter-lemon-sage sauce.  To be honest, I shouldn’t like the sauce.  Citrus and wine together are about my least favorite sauce pairings, but there was I soaking it up with a piece of bread.

More than the ingredients, that dish worked because of the artistry.  You can probably find a frozen dinner with the same ingredients as that chicken Saltimbocco, but you probably can’t find a hundred chefs in the world who could make them absolutely sing like Chef Jasper.  I just can’t get over how there should be nothing special about an unrolled rolled chicken dish, but in a master’s hands, it was simply sublime.

Like the pasta, I would say that I wouldn’t consider my life complete unless I went back and had that dish it again, but I took care of it already.  So that part of my life is complete.  Though I am kinda jonsing for it again.

Chef Jasper Mentioned Melon Pasta Special

Also, I should mention the Rigatoni melon, which was the completely odd, but absolutely fantastic pasta dish with a sauce of melon, parmesan cream, and a little bacon.  If that sounds familiar, you might have seen Rachel Ray make it in her magazine, though Chef Jasper assures me his was the better version because of the bacon.  I refuse to argue against either Chef Jasper or bacon.

What amazed me was that dish its utter potential for chaos.  When you mix sour/salty parmesan cream with sweet melon and salty/fatty bacon, you should have a mess on your hands.  However, in the hands of a master, that combination was something both my wife and I loved.

And so that just part my meal with Chef Jasper.  I plan to talk about so many other parts of that dish and everything I learned from talking with him.  But for now, I need to go.  I hear some pasta nanni calling my name.

The logo was taken from Jasper’s website.

Roasted Red Peppersa

Roasted Red Peppersa

Homemade Creamy Tomato Red Pepper Sauce

Happy 2009 Nude & Eco-Cheap Cooking Initiative and happy #meatlessmonday!  Hopefully you are enjoying many a meatless dish tonight, but if you’re out of delicious meatless ideas have I got one for you?!

This one is super simple and delicious.  I was actually inspired to make it when eating at Em Chamas (please no nasty comments about getting meatless recipes from a Brazilian barbecue…)  They have this fantastic cheese ravioli dish on their buffet made from a sauce of tomatoes and roasted red peppers that was just terrific.  Right next to it, they have a tomato-based chicken stroganoff that is light, creamy, and more than a little tangy.  So I got the idea to blend them together and make a delicious creamy tomato red pepper sauce.

Better yet, you can make it for less than $11.50 as part of the 2009 Nude & Eco-Cheap Cooking Initiative.  If you’re not familiar with the challenge, Shawna Coronado grows chemical and pesticide-free (ie nude) vegetables and I turn them into a dinner for a family for four for less than $11.50.  Ready for the recipe?

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The White Album- Perfect Music to Listen to for a White Meal

The White Album- Perfect Music to Listen to for a White Meal

Okay, so the fashionistas all agree that you can’t wear white after Labor Day, but, I’m wondering about eating white after Labor Day.  Think about it.  If you can’t wear white, you’re probably wearing darker colors and if you spill… yikes!  Who knows…maybe tomorow the manner experts are going to outlaw fettuchini alfredo, sugar cookies, and White Russians!!

Just in case, maybe you should try this all-white Labor Day menu.  It’s not exactly the most waistline-friendly, but that’s not my fault.  I was trying to think of what was white and, of course, I thought of heavy cream!  It’s not my fault this meal is so creamy and delicious.  I have to make sure every one gets one last white meal during Labor Day.

You know, just in case.

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Eggs on Tortillas

Eggs on Tortillas

This #meatlessmonday, I wanted to do something simple like

Scrambled Egg Tostadas

Why go with something so homey?  Being meatless doesn’t necessarily mean being complicated.  In fact, when my wife and I went vegetarian, our strategy was to take dishes we ate all the time and swap out the meat for something similiar.  Given how much we loved Mexican, this dish was only natural.

I love making egg tostadas because they are so easy.  They’re filling and can be made in about 10 minutes.  So they’re perfect for the vegetarian and the #meatlessmonday fan who needs to get dinner on the table and wants to do it without meat.

If you want to make these tostadas for yourself, all you need are a few simple ingredients and literally about 10 minutes.

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Finished Lasagna

So I was hanging out on Twitter today and saw one of my Tweeps, amoyal, mention that today was #MeatlessMonday.  I had never heard of this particular Twitter tag,  but I got pretty excited since it’s so close to what I want to do with Vegan Weekend.  Anyway, never one to let a good Twitter tag go, I figured I couldn’t not start doing #MeatlessMonday posts.

(For the record, I’ve already been reminded Mondays are hard enough, so giving up meat is just cruel.  I, however reminded my friend I wasn’t asking him to give up caffeine! ;))

So, the long and short of it is that you can be 100% sure that every post I write on Monday will be completely meatless.

Like today’s recipe for:

Lasagna Made With Italian Sausage Match Meat

Using delicious Match Meat flavored Italian Sausage, Mrs. WellDone, BWD, Jr., and I made our own lasagnas this evening.  Me, I like lots of sauce, garlic, and mushrooms.  Mrs. WellDone likes lots of cheee.  BWD, Jr. likes noodles and that’s about it.  So we all made our own.  And to get some protein and the flavor of meat, we used Match Meat Italian Sausage.

The Italian Sausage Match Meat was perfect.  It was spicy like Italian sausage should be and it crumbled like Italian sausage, so the texture was ideal, but at the same time, there was a ton less grease, making it healthier, too.  I know that to a lot of people going without meat may seem like a huge deal, but no one missed!

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Tonight I had a great time cooling with @ShellyKramer in her fantastic kitchen (currently being remodeled.)  It was fun to chat about recipes and try a new pork recipe.

The pork was not a 100% success.  It was a bit tough, but all in all good times were achieved.

I also made some rice on the side which I enjoyed, my wife hated because it was overcooked and Shelly hated because it was undercooked.  There’s just no pleasing everyone. 🙂

I also made creamed spinach.  That was pretty simple.  Just spinach, sauted onions, chicken broth, cream and garlic.  We didn’t have any ouzo, but it was still pretty good.

More to come later!

Braised Short RibsSo, somehow this week has become braised week…but hey, braising leads to some really delicious food, so why not go with it?  Tonight you can make…

Asian Braised Short Ribs

Okay Cara…this one is for you!

Short ribs are some of the most flavorful pieces of meat that you can get your hand on.  They are thick, meaty, but they can be a little tough.  Of course, that just makes them excellent candidates for braising, which will break apart those tough meat fibers and add some awesome flavor at the same time.

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Looking for something to do with your chicken?

How about making

Chicken Taco Filling

This recipe restored my faith in slow cooked chicken.  It uses dark meat, in this case thighs, because they are juicer and they have better flavor than white meat.  As it turns out, this is one of my family’s favorite taco fillings, though because it is stewed, it takes a while to prepare.

The good news is that making Mexican chicken is something that can be done the night before.  Simply prepare the liquid, add the chicken, and let it simmer for about two hours. If it is not going to be eaten immediately, remove the chicken and put it into a storage bag with about half a cup of the juice to keep the chicken moist in the refrigerator.  Save the rest of the liquid in a second plastic storage bag.  Continue where noted in the recipe for an amazing Tex Mex meal.

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