Tag Archives: Giada de Laurentiis

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles #BrunchWeek

Welcome to the fourth annual #BrunchWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! Eight amazing sponsors are helping us host a GIVEAWAY of some incredible prizes for multiple winners. CLICK HERE to enter!

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

We are waffle people in my house, and these particular waffles are beyond delicious. At least, they are this time. The first time I made them? Not so much. So, the original recipe calls for using a store-bought waffle mix and just adding water. And I thought, “Water?! Water has no flavor! I’ll use buttermilk instead.” It made the batter so ridiculously thick I could barely work with it, and the waffles were so dense and dry we could hardly choke them down (our water intake was noooo problem that morning!). I knew the flavors were spot on, but that texture. Blech!

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

I determined to try again, but this time from scratch. I turned to King Arthur Flour, because why wouldn’t I in this situation, right? And I’m incredibly happy to report that this is the way these waffles should be made. Now they are perfect. You can adjust the amount of pancetta here – four ounces is a good amount to know it’s there, but if you want it chock full, I’d go with six to eight ounces.

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

Like I said earlier, the flavor is fantastic. Salty pancetta spikes a slightly sweet batter warmed with a background note of cinnamon, garnished with walnuts for crunch and of course finished off with maple syrup. I hope you enjoy them!

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

Sources: adapted from Giada at Home by Giada de Laurentiis and The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Ingredients:
4-8 oz. pancetta chunks, depending on how much pancetta you want in your waffles
2 large eggs
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbs granulated sugar
2 tbs baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
Maple syrup, for serving

Directions:
Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned and crisped and the fat has rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Do not discard the rendered fat!!
Preheat your waffle maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Don’t spray it with cooking spray (we have a plan!)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk just until combined. A few lumps are okay. Use a spatula to fold in the reserved, cooked pancetta.
Pour the now cooled (or at least cooler) rendered pancetta fat into a small bowl. Use a silicone pastry brush to grease your waffle iron with the pancetta fat. Pour the batter into your waffle iron and cook as per manufacturer’s instructions. When waffles are done, remove to a plate and repeat with remaining batter, if necessary, remembering to grease the waffle iron with more pancetta fat between each batch of waffles.
To serve, place a waffle on a dinner plate and garnish with walnuts and drizzle to your heart’s content with maple syrup.

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Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

Merry Christmas Eve!!! I had every intention of being a good and proper little food blogger for today’s post – you know, writing it up and scheduling it yesterday evening. But Santa showed up early to our house yesterday, generously gifting us with busted pipes under the kitchen sink! I guess there’s no uncertainty about which list we were on this year.

Panettone for bread pudding

So the best laid plans went to smithereens, and today shall be spent blogging yesterday’s work and mopping up my kitchen floor – AGAIN. Ah, well, there are certainly worse things that could have happened in life; perhaps later, for a little perspective, I’ll watch It’s a Wonderful Life (or, the movie my dear husband alternately titles Let’s All Stuff on George Baily, Over and Over and Over – except, um, he doesn’t say “stuff”).

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

This delicious bread pudding could cheer just about anyone up. It’s a festive Christmas-y bread pudding, with eggnog (though the haters could certainly sub in more milk and some heavy cream), and panettone, that almost-too-sweet-but-we-love-it-anyway Italian holiday bread that I never ate growing up. Because, you know – that whole not being Italian thing.

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

But, I loved this bread pudding and found it the perfect balance of sweetness and spiky booziness. Matt took the leftovers to his coworkers and the report back was one of adoration. If you’re looking for a last-minute, easy dessert for tomorrow, I’ve got you covered. This will feed a decent number of people and they will love you for it.

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

And with that, I am off until Sunday! May your holiday be happy, safe, and delicious! Love you guys!!

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

{One Year Ago: Mexican Wedding Cookies}
{Two Years Ago: Arugula Pesto, Smoked Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza}

Source: adapted from Giada’s Family Dinners by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:
BREAD PUDDING:
1 (1 lb.) loaf panettone bread that has gone a little dry or stale, cut into 1-inch or so cubes
8 large eggs
1 ½ cups whole milk
2 ½ cups eggnog
1 cup granulated sugar

SAUCE:
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
3 tbs granulated sugar
¼ cup Amaretto liqueur
2 tsp cornstarch

Directions:
First make the bread pudding. Grease a 9×13” baking dish. Arrange the bread cubes, plus any dried fruit that fell out when you cut the bread, in the prepared dish.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk, and sugar until well combined. Pour the custard over the bread cubes, and press the bread cubes gently to submerge. Let stand for 30 minutes, occasionally pressing the bread into the custard mixture.
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Bake the pudding until it puffs and is set in the center, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently. In a small bowl, mix together the amaretto and cornstarch until smooth. Whisk it into the cream mixture. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
After the bread pudding has cooled slightly, spoon it into serving bowls and drizzle the sauce over each serving. Enjoy!

Chicken Raspberry Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

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At the beginning of summer, I compiled all my summer produce recipes and categorized them by produce item for you in a Summer Produce Recipe Round-Up. And that is when I realized just how much I’ve been neglecting the lovely little raspberry on this blog. Oops!

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Since raspberry season has rolled back around, I think it’s time to correct that. And thus, for the remainder of this week, I will be bringing you raspberry recipes. Starting with this scrumptious dinner salad.

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I tend to associate raspberries either with sweets, or with just snacking. But let us not forget how tart they can be, which makes them perfect for savory summer meals. Here in this salad they are featured twice: pureed as part of the salad dressing, and then left whole and tossed in as a component of the salad itself.

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I *really* loved this one. Even though my northeastern US summer hasn’t been all that hot, taken as a whole, I’ve been obsessing over light dinner salad fare the past couple months. I just haven’t wanted to turn on the stove much, I guess. This one was perfect. Enjoy!

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{One Year Ago: Banana Pudding}
{Two Years Ago: Homemade Ranch Dressing}

Source: adapted from Weeknights with Giada by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:
2 whole chicken breasts, butterflied open
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking the chicken
1 pint of fresh raspberries, divided
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs honey
1 large head of butter or Boston lettuce, cored and torn into pieces
4 oz. baby spinach or baby arugula
¼ cup shelled pepitas, toasted and cooled

Directions:
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Preheat a grill pan, outdoor grill, or sauté pan to medium-high heat. Brush or drizzle your cooking surface with oil, then cook the chicken until nicely browned and just cooked through, about 8-10 minutes total, flipping once halfway through. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes while you make the dressing.
For the dressing, add ½ cup of the raspberries to a blender, along with the ¼ cup olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and salt and pepper to taste. Puree until very smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Slice the chicken thinly. Now assemble the salad. In a large bowl add the lettuce, spinach or arugula, plus the remaining raspberries. Lay the chicken on top, then drizzle dressing over all. Add the pepitas as garnish. Toss the salad to coat it with dressing, adding more as needed. Serve immediately.

Genoa Salami and Kalamata Olive Calzones #SundaySupper

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Welcome, welcome, it’s time for some #SundaySupper, y’all! Our theme this week is Stuff, Roll, and Wrap, which seemed perfect for me because I’ve been craving burritos like nobody’s business lately. But then I realized that by sheer coincidence, or fate, or something, this week’s Sunday Supper lined up with my already planned Pizza Week. So I just can’t do a burrito for today. It has to be a calzone. Hopefully, you understand…

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Calzones fall into that irritating category of foods that usually smell and look better than they actually taste. You order one out, the smell is intoxicating, you’re all but drooling when it’s served to you, you take a bite…. Annnnnndddd, disappointment. The taste is usually quite a let-down.

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Not so with this one, my friends. Turns out, this problem is fairly easy to rectify at home. in fact, I’ve always found calzones to be so easy to make at home, and to make really well at home, that I really can’t fathom how restaurants and take-out places manage to screw them up so much.

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As you can probably guess, this one is really amazing. Cheesy, gooey, salty, and full of flavor. Try it soon. You’ll love it. Promise.

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And please do not forget to check out the rest of my wonderful #SundaySupper crew!

Source: adapted from Weeknights with Giada by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:
Cornmeal, for dusting
Flour, for dusting
1 lb. pizza dough
8 oz. fontina cheese, shredded
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for dusting
4 oz. thinly sliced Genoa salami, chopped
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
1 large egg, beaten
Fresh ground black pepper
8 oz. tomato sauce
½ tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Sprinkle a heavy baking sheet with cornmeal.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out your dough into a 13-inch circle, about ¼ inch thick. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine the fontina, parmesan, salami, roasted red bell pepper, olives, and olive oil. Spoon the mixture onto half of the prepared dough, leaving a 1-inch border.
Beat the egg lightly in a small bowl, then use a pastry brush to lightly brush the egg around the border of the dough.
Carefully fold the unfilled side of the dough over the filling, and pinch the edges together to seal. Brush the top with egg, then sprinkle with black pepper and parmesan. Use a sharp paring knife to cut a few slits across the top of the calzone, to let steam escape.
Bake the calzone for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes. While the calzone is baking, make the dipping sauce by combining the tomato sauce with the oregano, salt and pepper. Pour into a bowl or into individual ramekins.
When the calzone is ready, cut into slices and serve with the dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Starters and Snacks

Entrees and Mains

All things Sweet

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting

So if you’ll recall, yesterday I mentioned being extremely excited for the much-anticipated Baylor/OU game? Well. My friends, it did not disappoint. My Bears blew away the OU Sooners! It was utterly fantastic. My pizzas, on the other hand – not so much. Oh well…

making pumpkin cupcakes

pumpkin cupcakes before baking

And now we should talk pumpkin cupcakes. Because you should make these cupcakes, very soon. They are unbelievably moist, earthy, warm and comforting. Pairing them with chocolate frosting was the right thing to do. Even better, the frosting used cream cheese and sour cream, which of course made it deliciously tangy, a tanginess that served as a perfect counterbalance to the earthy pumpkin flavor. So great!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

My original plan was to make mini cupcakes. However, I only have one mini cupcake pan (for 24 minis), yet there is enough batter for 48 mini cupcakes, thus requiring me to make the two batches separately. Someone, meaning myself, did not have time to make two separate batches on the particular day I made these, so I grabbed one of my standard, 12-cup muffin tins and filled it with the remaining batter. This recipe works beautifully for both regulars and minis, I’m happy to report. Try it either way and enjoy!

pumpkin chocolate mini cupcakes

pumpkin chocolate frosted cupcake, eaten

{One year ago: Chocolate Meringue Pie}

Sources: Cupcakes adapted from Smitten Kitchen; Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from Weeknights with Giada by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:
CUPCAKES:
1 stick (8 tbs) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

FROSTING:
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup sour cream
Mini chocolate chips, for sprinkling

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 standard or mini cupcake pans with the appropriate liners.
In a stand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.
Add the eggs 1 at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Add the vanilla extract and the pumpkin puree. Beat until just combined.
Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners, about 3/4 full. Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes for the standard cupcakes and 12 to 14 minutes for the minis. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely.
While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. To a medium bowl, add the confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese, butter, cocoa powder, and sour cream. Using an electric mixer, beat on low speed until smooth. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
When the cupcakes are completely cooled, use a butter knife or small offset spatula to spread a generous amount of frosting on each cupcake. Sprinkle a few mini chocolate chips on top of each cupcake.

Peach and Cherry Frittata

Peach and Cherry Frittata

This dish… doesn’t make any sense. In a perfectly rational and logical world, this flavor combination would not work. For reasons fortunate and unfortunate, the world is not perfectly rational and logical. Today, that is a fortunate fact, because it means we can enjoy this paradoxical breakfast dish.

peaches and cherries

peaches and cherries

So yeah, I totally wasn’t expecting that I could put sweet fruit into eggs, top it with tangy goat cheese, bake it off, drizzle it with maple syrup, and then eat it and enjoy it. But that’s kind of exactly what happened. Everything came together on the fork and it just… worked. It was flavorful and balanced and I really don’t know completely why. So tasty though!

before baking: peach cherry frittata

This is the last peach recipe for the season for me, but I’ve got two more scrumptious cherry desserts to share with you next week. So stay tuned for that!

Peach Cherry Frittata

And give this one a try very soon – it sounds odd, but it really is delicious and so perfect for a summer brunch. And on that note, I shall sign off and wish you a wonderful weekend!

Peach and Cherry Frittata

Other Peach recipe you might enjoy: Peach Cobbler, Salmon with Tamarind-Peach Barbecue Sauce, Peaches and Cream Crumble Topped Pie, Peach Sour Cream Pancakes

{One year ago: Spicy Coleslaw and Pulled Pork Sliders}

Source: adapted from Weeknights with Giada by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:
6 large eggs
¼ cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbs chopped fresh thyme leaves
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tbs canola oil
1 large peach, pitted and cut into chunks
8 oz. fresh sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
4 oz. goat cheese
Maple syrup, for serving

Directions:
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, thyme and salt until smooth.
Heat the oil in a 10-inch cast-iron or otherwise oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture and, working quickly, evenly distribute the peaches and cherries in a single layer over top of the eggs. Crumble the goat cheese into chunks with your fingers and sprinkle it over the eggs and fruit. Cook without stirring for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to set. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the frittata is slightly puffed and the egg mixture has set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes.
Cut into wedges and serve with maple syrup for drizzling.

Zucchini Olive Pizza

zucchini olive pizza

Here’s a confession for you – as much as I am all about cooking and baking from scratch, pizza dough is one thing I never make in my own kitchen. I have made it several times before, both successfully and unsuccessfully, but it’s been years.

zucchini and olives

Almost seven years ago, Matt and I moved into our current apartment, and into a neighborhood that boasts a terrific, authentic NYC, mom-and-pop pizza joint. They make their dough from scratch, and they will sell you their unbaked dough in aluminum tins. It’s some of the best pizza dough I’ve tasted, and that includes eating lots of pizza on a trip to Italy back in college. Though I should say, for full disclosure, that trip did not include Rome or Naples.

zucchini and olives

But anyways, the pizza dough up the street is outstanding, and since discovering it, I’ve felt no real need to make it in my kitchen. I like supporting a local business. I like saving the time and being more spontaneous about our pizza making and eating. And since they sell very large New York style pizzas, one tin of dough gets me two pizzas at home. Win!

zucchini on pizza

Typically I’ll buy a tin of dough, for $3, cut it in half, use one and freeze the other. Although I have learned that you absolutely CANNOT tell them that you freeze their dough. I made that mistake once.

Zucchini Olive Pizza

I don’t know why, but the guy who makes the dough gets extremely offended at the very notion of placing their prized goods in a freezer. When I bought my first batch, I nonchalantly mentioned freezing some of it, and he suddenly turned into the Soup Nazi from “Seinfeld”! I seriously thought he wasn’t going to sell me any! I hastily assured him I would never freeze the dough (with fingers crossed behind my back, of course) and got the heck out of there.

Zucchini Olive Pizza

I guess he wasn’t too offended (or just doesn’t remember me) because we’re going on seven years of buying (and freezing! Shh!) his dough. This is one of my favorite summer pizzas to make with it. It’s perfect for all you zucchini gardeners who have it coming out your ears. I’ve only made it in the oven, so those are the instructions I give, but I feel certain this could easily be adapted for the grill. Let me know if you try it that way (or any way.) Enjoy!

zucchini olive pizza

Source: adapted from Giada at Home by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:
1 lb. pizza dough, at room temperature
1 large (8 oz.) zucchini, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tbs chopped fresh oregano leaves
6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese, preferably fresh
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup pitted Kalamata olives

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 450 F. Grease a baking sheet or pizza pan.
Roll the dough out to fit the pan. Prick all over with the tines of a fork. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Arrange the zucchini slices in a single layer on top of the parbaked dough. Sprinkle 1 tbs oregano, cheese and olives on top of the zucchini. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle the pizza with the remaining tbs oregano. Let rest for about 5 to 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Lemon Risotto

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I absolutely love risotto. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really introduced to it until my mid-twenties. But that’s to be expected given that my familial ancestry isn’t anywhere near Italian, and my more recent ancestors who migrated to the US never lived anywhere near an Italian-American enclave. So it’s unsurprising that Italian food wouldn’t really be in our genes.

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Not to worry though, I have certainly begun compensating for my childhood lack of risotto in recent years; it’s taken a little bit of practice to know exactly when it’s done, but I’m very comfortable making it now, and I do so often. This may sound weird, but I think my favorite part of risotto is the stirring. I don’t know why, but I find it so therapeutic. I love to stand there, rhythmically stirring for twenty minutes, feeling serene and calm and lost in my own little world. And I see the fact that you can’t leave the stove as a plus. If your phone is beeping texts and emails at you, you can ignore it in good conscience, because you’re stirring risotto. If your spouse needs you for something, well, he/she will just have to wait, because you’re stirring risotto. So it’s this lovely excuse to escape all the demands life throws at us for twenty minutes.

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I keep seeing and hearing of all these recipes that call for making risotto in the oven, or in the slow cooker, specifically to avoid the stirring step, and I just think that’s so crazy! Don’t they know they’re missing the best part of risotto?!? Don’t deprive yourself of the stirring!! Nooooo!! Okay, I hope no one has completely written me off as insane by now. This is just one of my quirks, I suppose. Yeah, we’ll go with that. 😉

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This risotto is quite excellent – very light with good, clean flavors. The lemon flavor is rather intense though. If you love lemon, you’ll have no problems with it. If lemon isn’t so much your thing, then I would halve the amount of juice and zest called for. But it’s a great cheery dish to have on a cold winter night. Enjoy!

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Source: adapted from Giada’s Kitchen by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
3 tbs unsalted butter, divided
2 large shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley

Directions:
Zest the lemon and set the zest aside. Now juice the lemons.
In a medium saucepan, combine the stock and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Put the heat between low and medium-low. You want to warm the stock, but do not allow it to boil at all.
In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to thoroughly coat it with the butter. Once it’s fragrant, about a minute or two, add the white wine and remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice. Stir and simmer until it has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the warmed stock to the rice and stir until it has almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until each batch has nearly evaporated, until the stock has been used up completely. This will take about 20 minutes total. You must stir the entire time, as that releases the starches in the rice and makes the final dish very creamy and delicious.
When the rice is done, turn the heat to low, add the remaining 1 tbs butter, 1/2 cup of the cheese, the lemon zest, plus salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and melt the butter and cheese.
Serve garnished with parsley and the remaining 2 tbs cheese.

Beans and Greens Soup

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A question to all you food bloggers out there: do you ever make a recipe, love it, want to share it, but then don’t know what to write about it? You sit down to put the post together and find you don’t have an entertaining story to tell about it? And all you can think to say about it is something along the lines of it’s-so-good-you-should-try-it-soon? And you don’t want to have the post be all in that vain, because then your readers will be thinking, “thanks Captain Obvious, I doubt you would have blogged it if it wasn’t great. Don’t you have anything else to say?”

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Because that’s the spot in which I stand with this soup. It’s one of my favorite simple soups, it is really good, I do think you should make it soon, but I can’t for the life of me find anything witty or charming to say about it. I could blather on about how delicious it is, but that would get old; or I could prattle on about how I never even tried escarole until a few years ago but now I absolutely love it, but that’s just sad.

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So I’ll just leave you with the recipe and this uninspired post. Please know that the recipe is not so dull, even if this post rather was. It’s simple, classic Italian peasant food that is comforting and warm and will kind of make you feel like you live in a simpler time (if such a thing ever even existed) and if nothing else, it may transport you to some old-world, rustic Italian village for half an hour.

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Source: Giada’s Family Dinners by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:
2 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. escarole, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 ounce chunk of Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Shredded Parmesan, for serving
Olive oil, for drizzling
Crusty bread, for serving

Directions:
Heat the 2 tbs olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds. Add the escarole and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, beans, and Parmesan chunk. Simmer until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with up to 1 tbs shredded Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp olive oil per portion. Serve the bread alongside.

Spicy Calamari Stew with Garlic Rubbed Ciabatta Toasts

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It’s somewhat unfortunate that after I’d committed this recipe to the weekly menu I read an article in Slate Magazine about the idea of restaurants defrauding the public by subbing in pig anus for squid in their deep-fried calamari appetizers. Now, to be clear, there is NO evidence that this has ever happened, much less on a regular basis.

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The article was really about urban legends and how they get started and then spread like wildfire, and this idea was used to illustrate the point. Thus, it is an urban legend and not true.

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In fact, the article was entitled “Rump Faker” which means two things: 1) you had to have been between the ages of 12 and 29 in 1992 to get the joke, and 2) that it is not true. I was around 13 when that song came out, so I very much got the joke. I knew the song well. I also knew the less popular but still catchy middle school teacher rendition, “Just Learn Your Verbs.” Or was it called “Verb Learner”? I digress.

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Even though it’s an urban legend and there’s nothing to worry about the next time you feel the urge to order fried calamari, the very notion is disturbing – enough to make me slightly pause before including squid on my grocery shopping list.

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But, I can assure you, there are no butts in this stew! This dish is deceptively simple and easy to throw together, it’s extremely tasty (we raved for quite awhile), and very elegant – perfect for a date night. Serve some chilled white wine alongside, light some candles, throw on some sexy music, grab your other half and you’ve got yourself one romantic evening.

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Source: adapted from Giada’s Kitchen by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:
3 tbs olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dry white wine
2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp crushed chili flakes
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. squid, cleaned, bodies thinly sliced, tentacles cut in half lengthwise
1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced
Olive oil, for drizzling
2 to 3 whole garlic cloves, peeled

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium to large soup pot. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds. Turn the heat to low. Slowly add the white wine and cook for 1 minute, then add the tomato sauce, thyme, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to medium and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, cook 8 minutes, maintaining its gentle simmer and not boiling. Stir in the squid and cook another 2 minutes, until opaque. Turn the heat to very low after 2 minutes. If you overcook squid, it becomes quite rubbery and unpleasant.
While the stew simmers, drizzle the bread with olive oil. Toast until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the top of the toasts with the whole garlic cloves. Serve immediately with the stew.
Of course you can eat this with a spoon and the bread alongside, which is quite tasty, but my personal favorite way was to tear the bread into chunks and dip it into the stew, scooping up some calamari in the process and eating it that way.