I recently had dinner at Morello Italian Bistro on Greenwich Ave in Greenwich for a friend’s birthday and was reminded why it’s one of my favorite local restaurants!
I remember the firs time I visited the building now occupied by Morello. The dome ceiling has a big brick pattern that I loved looking at. The beautiful atmosphere is still the same. Morello has a really cool bar and the set up of the restaurant is great. It’s just the kind of place where you can relax, feel catered to, and know you are about to take in an outstanding meal!
One menu item I just love is the Butternut Squash Ravioli. It is so light and healthy tasting with the best flavors. Some of my other favorite menu items are Baked Mac & Cheese and Chicken Breast Piccata, but you really can’t go wrong. Morello’s food is always fresh and very well prepared. For dessert, you must try the Bomboloni. These fresh doughnuts with orange-vanilla cream and chocolate sauce are to die for!
Years ago I found an article on risotto, which described step by step how to prepare this delicious dish. Risotto is an Italian dish that developed in the regions between the Alps and Tuscany, and is now appreciated all over the world.
The type of rice best suited for cooking a good risotto is the Carnaroli, but Vialone Nano and Arborio are good choices as well. Depending on the ingredients used, risotto can be a first course, a complete meal, or a dessert. It can easily be prepared in about 30 minutes.
The base for a risotto is made using one of the three types of rice mentioned above, oil or butter, and a battulo, which is an ingredient used t0 flavor a recipe and can include chopped onion, garlic, celery and/or carrot. You also need a cooking liquid and one or more types of cheese.
With this base you can make many different risotto dishes depending on your choice of ingredients such as beef, chicken or pork, fish or seafood, vegetables, legumes, or truffles.
Making a risotto is as easy as following six simple steps. I like to make risotto with seafood. The following recipe also includes one of my favorite vegetables, asparagus.
1 1/2 cups of rice
1 lb of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
4 cups seafood stock
1 bunch of asparagus
1/2 cup finely chopped basil and parsley
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the shrimp by removing the shell and deveining, if necessary. Rinse under cold water, pat dry, and set aside.
Set a few asparagus stalks aside to use as a garnish. Cut the rest of the asparagus into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal, discarding the bottoms. Steam all of the asparagus for 5 minutes, then place under cold water to stop cooking. Pat dry and set aside.
Place the seafood stock in a saucepan and heat, keeping it warm while you begin the risotto.
In a deep skillet, warm the olive oil. Add the onion (which is the battulo in this recipe) and sauté till translucent.
Add the rice and toast for 3 minutes .
Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook until the liquid evaporates. Add the warmed stock in 1/2 cup increments, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding more. Continue to cook, stirring, until the rice is tender and creamy, about 20 minutes in total.
Add the shrimp and cook till pink. Add the cut asparagus.
Add finishing ingredients, including the butter, cheese, basil, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Place the few whole asparagus on top of the dish with some parsley sprigs for garnish.
Serve this dish with your favorite crusty bread and a salad. Enjoy!
Everyone who knows me knows I don’t cook. I wish I had the time for it! My mom and grandma are amazing home chefs though. They take risks and are willing to try new things. I appreciate the craft of cooking well and hope my children follow in their grandmother’s footsteps when it comes to preparing food rather than mine!
If my daughters were to pursue cooking as a career, they would certainly have some impressive role models to follow. The world of professional cooking is still a male-dominated place, but thanks to women like Julia Child who paved the way for others, many female chefs have become household names and even celebrities in their own right. Three I really enjoy are Lidia Bastianich, Giada de Laurentiis, and Ina Garten, better known as Barefoot Contessa.
Lidia Bastianich is so much more than a famous television chef. She is a woman who turned her passion for food into a thriving entertainment business. She is the author of several cookbooks and founder of Tavola Productions, an entertainment company that produces great broadcast productions. Along with her son Joe, also a well known chef, Mario Batali, and Oscar Farinetti, Lidia opened Eataly, one of my favorite NYC spots. She teaches culinary classes and has her own line of high quality kitchen products as well as Nonna’s Foods, a platform which allows her to distribute her own food products. As if all that must not keep her busy enough, Lidia also produces award-winning wines at Bastianich Vineyard in Friuli and La Mozza Vineyard in Maremma, Italy. The sheer amount of drive Lidia must have to accomplish so much from her love of good food is so inspiring!
I’m also a big fan of Giada de Laurentiis. My mom often uses Giada’s recipes and I think the appeal lies in her simple, easy-to-follow techniques for preparing amazing food. She really helps you feel like you can prepare something fantastic without a lot of complicated steps. Giada was born in Rome and grew up in a family that placed great importance on time in the kitchen. Her grandfather was a film producer as well as a restaurant owner, so perhaps Giada was destined to become a popular television chef. She was professionally trained at Cordon Bleu in Paris and eventually started her own catering company. She was “discovered” by a Food Network executive who read an article in Food and Wine Magazine about the de Laurentiis family in 2002. Her show “Everyday Italian” earned an Emmy and turned Giada into one of the most recognizable chefs in America today. She has also authored several cookbooks and has her own line of cookware. Giada’s enthusiasm for the food she prepares is infectious!
Ina Garten, better known as Barefoot Contessa, is another noteworthy woman of the culinary world. Unlike most well known cooks, Ina never trained to be a professional chef. In fact, she used to work in the White House Office of Management and Budget but felt the desire to do something more creative. One day, she read about a specialty food store for sale in the Hamptons, drove out to see it, and on a whim made the owners an offer she didn’t expect them to accept. They did accept, and Ina began the career that eventually led to her becoming a household name. After 18 successful years with her Barefoot Contessa food store, Ina sold the place to two employees and set about writing her first cookbook. It was a hit that she followed up with several more cookbooks before earning her own Food Network show. I think Ina Garten’s popularity with home cooks comes from her healthy approach to real food, using whole, fresh ingredients rather than anything artificial. She has a talent for making everything she prepares look delicious and simple. She also has a beautiful blog where she shares recipes and experiences. If you can’t travel the world to experience great food, Ina’s blog is the next best thing!
Whatever my girls decide to pursue in life, I hope they go after it with the same drive, passion, and creativity as these three talented chefs!
Not long ago, Jessica, my project manager, discovered a store in Montclair, New Jersey called Olive That and More. Specializing in olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and sea salts from around the world, Olive That and More is a foodie’s dream come true, but the store’s cleverly designed interior is the icing on the cake. With shelves and other components from the location’s previous tenant (a garden store) along with custom light fixtures created by the owner, Olive That exudes a rustic and welcoming atmosphere that encourages shoppers to taste, sample, and learn about all of the incredible products on display.
The staff at Olive That are very helpful and more than willing to answer any questions about their products or offer suggestions for cooking, serving, or buying gifts. In addition, the store hosts events such as tastings and sometimes partners with local chefs for special dinner events. Even their Facebook page is a great resource for recipes and ideas!
When you walk into Olive That, you immediately notice how many of the products are available for tasting. There are bowls of bread for sampling different oils and vinegars as well as salt shakers that allow you to taste different salts before purchasing. One of the more unique items available at Olive That is truffle salt. Jessica seems to have become addicted to the stuff, even keeping some on her desk at work to sprinkle over her lunch or add to a bowl a popcorn!
You may be thinking, “What is truffle salt?” The description from Olive That sums it up perfectly: All-natural Fusion Black Truffle Salt combines the distinct taste of black truffles with pure sea salt crystals to create an uncommonly delicious flavoring. A creative chef’s dream, black truffle salt adds a hint of earthy, mushroomy flavor to beef, eggs, potatoes and pasta.
Truffle salt is used as a finishing touch or garnish for cooked food, not an ingredient to add while cooking. It has an intense, strong flavor that truffle lovers are sure to appreciate! It’s lovely when sprinkled on vegetable soup or seafood; just keep in mind that a little goes a long way! Olive That offers two “strengths” of truffle salt: their original version as well as a stronger truffle salt. These salts are stored in large containers, and when the staff refills the smaller bottles of salt, the aroma fills the entire store!
I hope you have the opportunity to visit Olive That soon to experience their amazing products and learn from their knowledgeable staff!
February is American Heart Month. Keeping this in mind, I went to the Web MD website with a list of the 25 Top Heart Healthy Foods. These foods are loaded with heart healthy nutrients that help protect your cardiovascular system. By eating a variety of foods, including fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts and more, you are getting the different nutrients which are needed to protect your heart and
blood vessels. I am very conscious of the meals I prepare and the ingredients I use in those meals. I buy fresh herbs, produce, and vegetables and use olive oil when I cook. We eat fish more than once a week and eat plenty of fresh fruit, so I am definitely into eating healthy.
I decided to highlight a few of the foods they recommended in the Web MD article. It would be well worth your time to read the entire article. You might be surprised to see that many of the foods are ones you probably already eat regularly!
I have a great recipe featuring a popular heart-healthy food. This tuna dish is a favorite in our house, especially when my husband returns from an offshore fishing trip with fresh tuna. The original recipe is from a Williams Sonoma cookbook titled “Essentials of Grilling,” a great book to have! I have changed it some to suit our tastes, of course, and I hope you enjoy it!
Soy sauce, less sodium preferred
½ cup White Sesame seeds
½ cup Black Sesame seeds
4 Ahi Tuna Steaks, 6oz each, 1 inch thick
1 cup crème fraiche
2 tsp. wasabi powder, or to taste
Chopped chives for garnish
In a shallow dish, add the soy sauce. On a piece of wax paper, mix the white and black sesame seeds. Dredge each piece of tuna in the mixture, then place in soy sauce, turning to coat. Add any left over sesame seeds to tuna, cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hrs.
To make wasabi crème, in a small bowl stir together the crème fraiche and wasabi powder. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Add chives just before serving.
Grill your fish, turning once, until it is seared on the outside and rare on the inside, 3-5 minutes per side. If you prefer your tuna cooked through, leave it on the grill for 1 – 2 minutes longer per side. You can also cook the fish in a heavy skillet on high heat.
Transfer the tuna steaks to warm individual plates. Garnish the wasabi crème with the chives, and pass at the table.
Serve with grilled or lightly steamed asparagus, dressed with an olive oil and herb mixture of chopped basil, parsley, and black pepper. Enjoy!
Here we are at the start of the New Year, when many people are feeling more health conscious! Between the television shows, tabloids, and fitness club offers, we’re all reminded of our options for eating and staying healthy. Hopefully, the motivation to create healthier eating habits and consistent exercise routines will turn into long-term commitments that last throughout the year.
I recently came across a recipe for kale and knew I wanted to try it. Then I thought, “Why not write about healthy eating in general?” While looking through magazines and websites for ideas and recipes, I came across a Cooking Channel article called Superfoods: Nutrient-Rich Foods to Eat Every Day. These superfoods are known to prevent disease, help control weight, and maintain overall health.
Here are a few of the 21 foods recommended by the Cooking Channel. To see the rest of the list, click here for the full article.
I hope you enjoy this recipe for kale from Giada DiLaurentiis. She is a favorite chef and author of mine! Her cookbooks are great, and her recipes are delicious and easy to follow. Her Spicy Parmesan Green Beans and Kale will convince you that eating healthy doesn’t mean eating bland or boring!
Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, green beans, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and continue cooking until the green beans are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and the kale and continue cooking until the kale has wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and the Parmesan cheese. Toss to coat and serve immediately.
SERVES: 6 (SIDE); Calories: 138; Total Fat: 8 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 5 grams; Total carbohydrates: 15 grams; Sugar: 5 grams; Fiber: 4 grams; Cholesterol: 1 milligram; Sodium: 830 milligrams
Located at 934 Hope St. in Stamford, Olio is a favorite restaurant of ours not only because it’s practically in our backyard, but because the food is fantastic! My husband and I take advantage of their take-out option at least a couple of nights a week and are never disappointed.
Chef/owner Steve Costanzo, along with his business partner Moira Hyland, have created a wonderful menu that includes a lot of locally produced and/or organic items. The menu changes with the seasons to offer foods such as fish, meat, poultry, pasta, and salads at the peak of their availability. The food is fresh and you simply cannot go wrong with anything on the menu. The spare ribs are to die for! Olio offers a warm atmosphere and reasonable prices as well.
Olio is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday and for brunch on Sunday. They only accept dinner reservations for groups of six or more, so keep that in mind when planning a visit. On Tuesdays, Olio diners enjoy 1/2 price bottles of wine with the purchase of an entree while on Wednesday evenings the menu features the Chef’s special 3 course meal.
Guest Post from Debbie Aidinis
Cacciucco is one of my favorite meals, especially when the weather turns colder. I originally had this for dinner years ago in a restaurant and loved it. I always try to make meals I enjoy, so I searched through cookbooks and found a few recipes that were close to the restaurant meal I’d liked. This is a hearty stew that tastes just as good -if not better- the next day. I serve it with crusty bread seasoned with an olive oil mixture and placed in oven until it is crispy. This bread is delicious when dipped in the Cacciucco broth.
For this recipe, I prefer to use prawns, when available, with the shells still on. The flavor is superb in the stew. Another option is using lobster tails with the shells on. I also like to use Halibut as the fish, which is a very mild white fish. As always, everyone has preferences when cooking with seafood and this dish lends itself to many variations in the type of fish used. The amount of seafood used can also be adjusted to your own liking.
Cacciucco — Mediterranean Fish Stew
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery with leaves, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 oil packed anchovies
1 can (14 ½ oz) San Marzano plum tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
Pinch of Saffron threads
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
4 cups fish stock (see Note)
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
1 ½ to 2 lb white fish fillet, such as Halibut, skin removed
12 little neck clams, cleaned
12 black mussels, cleaned
8 jumbo shrimp or prawns shelled and deveined
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Warm Crusty Bread
Lobster Tails with shells, cut in half lengthwise
Note: If fish stock is not available, you can substitute 2 cups (16fl oz) bottled clam juice plus 2 cups vegetable stock.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy deep skillet. Add onion, celery with leaves, and carrot to skillet and sauté. Add red pepper flakes and thyme. Chop anchovies and add to skillet. Sauté until anchovies have melted, about 3 minutes. Add wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, breaking them up with your hands or a wooden spoon. Add the fish stock and 1 cup of water. Add the saffron, bay leaf, rosemary, basil, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add some of the reserved tomato juice if you want more liquid or tomato flavor. Adjust seasoning if needed.
Cut the fish into 2 inch pieces, add to broth, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add clams, mussels and shrimp. If using any additional seafood, add to mixture at this time. Cover and cook until shrimp is pink and clams and mussels have opened. Discard the bay leaf before serving.
Slice bread in half to open, and spread with a mixture of olive oil, chopped basil, parsley, black pepper. Place in the oven at 400 till crisp and brown. Cut bread into long pieces.
Ladle the stew into bowls, place bread on the side, and serve.
One night, my husband came home with three cake pops from Stick and Pop. He meant for our two daughters and me to each have one of these adorable little treats, but after taking one heavenly bite, I selfishly decided to keep them all to myself! I love chocolate and anything surrounded by chocolate, and these cake pops were too yummy to share!
These moist morsels of cake on a stick make the perfect treat for nearly any occasion. They are well packaged and great for kids, making them ideal party favors for birthdays or school functions. Any time I need a hostess or housewarming gift, I pick up an assortment of cake pops knowing they will be well received, unique, and appreciated. Stick and Pop offers a big selection of flavors and designs to mix and match for different events, from birthdays to weddings, and holidays from Christmas to Halloween.
Stick and Pop also offers Minis, bite-sized versions of their delicious cake pops, and Cups, which are made from layers of cake, icing, chocolate, and toppings.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but cooking is not something I often find time for in my busy schedule. As a matter of fact, I do so little cooking that I’ve been teased about burning water! The truth is, I can cook, I just can’t usually fit it into my daily routine of family and work.
On those evenings when I do have some more free time to plan and prepare a nice dinner, I usually turn to my Williams-Sonoma cookbooks. I love the imagery in these books as well as the recipes themselves.
These dishes can be prepared by anyone and really make you feel like an accomplished cook. There’s such a nice sense of satisfaction that comes with presenting your family with a meal that looks and tastes amazing! Williams-Sonoma has a great brand in general, from the cookbooks to cookware to prepared foods, they offer high quality products that both look great and perform very well.
Browsing through all of the gadgets and kitchen products offered by Williams-Sonoma just makes you crave the idea of cooking. From a design perspective, I can easily imagine filling a kitchen with these great items. They are thoughtful and smart, and just so well presented.
Do you have a favorite source for recipes and/or kitchen gadgets?