Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Friday Night, Orecchiette Alforno

I thought we needed a good "comfort food" night. This is a recipe I had made many times before, except it usually is called Penne with Five Cheeses. Quick story... We had been to Alforno restaurant in Providence RI before, that's where we went the night Tony purposed to me. One day a few years later I was watching the Bearfoot Contessa on the food network. She was making this recipe and she said she ate it at Alforno restaurant and loved it, she asked for the recipe and this is it. So I printed up the recipe and soon after we went to the restaurant and it was still on the menu so I ordered it. I was soooo good, it was made with a really good imported pasta that was cooked al dente. It's mixed with a creamy cheesy mixture and baked so the top gets slightly charred and the bottom half is so creamy and yummy...

Antipasto Platter with Homemade Ciabatta Bread

I wanted to do an appetizer with an array of different flavors and textures because the main dish would be just the one pasta dish. So I did some different olives, cherry peppers stuffed with cheese, artichoke hearts, caprese salad (stacked mozzarella, fresh tomato and fresh basil) and what I thought was going to be something different and ended up being a fancy biscuit. I saw this recipe for "Pancetta and Peccorino Cakes", and read the recipe quickly and it seemed like something different, and it looked like something that was going to be baked and crispy (which I wanted something crispy for the texture). It was good but I had made the homemade ciabatta bread and it was like having two breads. It was all very good and the bread was great, I love that book I got called "My Bread" by Jim Lahey. If you want to impress your friends you must try his recipes.

Orecchiette Al forno with Five Cheeses and Pancetta

Al forno is Italian for "baked or roasted". This is an easy and great recipe, it's not low calorie though. In a bowl add 2 Cups heavy cream, 1 Cup crushed canned tomatoes, 1/2 cup grated peccorino romano, 1/2 cup shredded Italian fontina, 1/4 cup gorgonzola, 2 Tbsp ricotta, 1/4 fresh mozzarella and 6 basil leafs chopped. Par-cook Penne or Orecchiette pasta, about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way done. Combine with the cream mixture and pour into a gratin dish then dot with a bit of butter to help it brown. Place in a pre-heated 500 degree oven and bake for 7-10 minutes until bubbly and brown on top. I like to add some thick cut pancetta that I cook ahead of time and chop, just add it to the cream mixture when you add the par-boiled pasta.

Frozen Chocolate Malted, Malted Milk Balls and Gourmet Smores Stack

Well guess what? I bought some malted milk powder and it was inspired by our NYC trip. When we stopped at Momofuko's Milk Bar for cake that night Tony had a chocolate cake that had malted milk crumbs and charred marshmallow between the layers. I got some malted milk powder when we got home. So I saw a recipe for the Frozen Chocolate Malted and decided to do that. So what goes with something like that??? I remembered Tony's cake had the marshmallows and so I made homemade marshmallow, homemade Graham crackers and made a double stack of the smores with chocolate rounds that I melted and formed into the same size round as I made the other two components. Put it in a low oven for about 5 minutes so everything is ooowy and gooey. I needed one more thing to make the plate look finished so I made the malted milk balls, which is just melted white chocolate mixed with the malted powder until it's thick enough to form into balls and then chill. Once the are hard dip them in melted chocolate and chill again.

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