Penne with garden Fresh Tomatoes and Basil plus Mozzarella


Our garden seems to choose every year what it will do well and what it won’t. One year, it was zucchini. Another year, basil. This year seems to be tomatoes. So with the overabundance of tomatoes and a few small basil leaves, we wanted to make something that would be quick and easy and not super hot, since of course it’s late August in Missouri.

Luckily, J found this super simple recipe on the Food Network. We’ve talked about how we love lots of Emeril Lagasse’s dishes before (here, here and here) and he did not disappoint this time either.

Print Recipe
Penne with garden Fresh Tomatoes and Basil plus Mozzarella
Servings
people
Ingredients
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Put a large pot of salted water on for the pasta. Meanwhile, prepare your sauce.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute or less.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, just until they begin to release some of their juice.
  5. Cook the pasta in the pot of salted boiling water for 12 to 13 minutes until al dente (you're best bet is to follow the package directions).
  6. Drain the pasta. Add the pasta and basil to the pan with the tomatoes and toss.
  7. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  8. Serve the pasta in bowls, equally distribute the fresh mozzarella between the bowls. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the bowls of pasta and serve immediately.
  9. We reserved some mozzarella to top the pasta and then drizzled it with Balsamic vinegar.

My opinion:
So very tasty and perfect for a hot summer evening. Next time we might add additional veggies like onions or zucchini.

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Robert Irvine’s Eggplant Parmesan


I’m rather picky when it comes to Italian food. I blame my trip to Florence for spoiling Americanized Italian food for me forever. Luckily, there are a few recipes that measure up to my expectations and one of them is this delightful Eggplant Parmesan from the Food Network with a few modifications.

Ingredients:
eggplant, peeled (we particularly enjoyed an heirloom variety) and cut into disks
2 cups buttermilk
4 cups vegetable oil (we used our deep fryer)
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder (we used a bit more)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (we used about 2 tablespoons, since we didn’t have fresh oregano)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or minced fresh if you have it)
1 teaspoon ground white pepper (we used a little more of this too, about 2 teaspoons)
1 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 cups egg wash (which for us, was four eggs and one cup milk)
1 pound penne or fusilli pasta, cooked (we used bowtie because that’s what we had)
2 cups red sauce
Grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling (we used Mozzarella)
cooking spray of your choice (we used Pam Olive Oil spray)

Directions:
To bread the eggplant, first add the eggplant disks into the buttermilk and allow to soak, 1 to 2 hours (we let it soak for about an hour and a half).
Next, over medium heat, bring the oil to 350 degrees F in a wide shallow saucepan or deep fryer; then hold the oil warm until frying. Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan powder, garlic, parsley, oregano and pepper in a bowl. Remove the eggplant from the buttermilk, and then coat with flour and tap off the excess. Dip the eggplant in the egg wash and finish with the breadcrumb-Parmesan mixture, coating well. Repeat the process with each eggplant, and then fry in the preheated oil. Allow the eggplant to brown, and then flip the cooked eggplant to ensure even cooking. Once golden brown on both sides, remove the eggplant and place on paper towels to allow the excess oil to drip off.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Drain the cooked pasta and once all the water is removed, toss with 3/4 cup of the red sauce. After tossing the pasta with the sauce, portion the pasta on plates. Place the cooked eggplant on a cooking spray covered baking sheet and finish with the remaining sauce. Add some cheese and bake, 4 to 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. After baking, place the eggplant over the sauced pasta and serve.

My opinion:
This is the best and simplest Eggplant Parmesan recipe we’ve found. I wouldn’t hesitate to serve this to friends and family.

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

This wonderfully, light and decadent creme brulee was the perfect end to Christmas dinner. It’s adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe on the Food Network.

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar plus 6 tablespoons

Directions:
Split and scrape the vanilla bean. Heat the heavy cream, milk, and vanilla bean in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof mixing bowl and beat until pale yellow in color and all of the sugar has dissolved. Temper about 1/2 a cup of the cream mixture into the egg mixture and whisk vigorously to incorporate well. Add the remainder of the cream mixture (1/2 a cup at a time) to the bowl and whisk vigorously to incorporate. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Boil a teakettle of water. Pour the custard into 6 (5-ounce) oval ramekins or gratin dishes, and place the dishes in a sheet pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come up half way on the sides of the ramekins. Place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes, turning the sheet pan around after 15 minutes to ensure even cooking. To test for doneness, jiggle the pan slightly to see if the custard is set. (If it giggles slightly, it’s cooked, If it looks like a hula dancer, it needs to cook another 5 minutes. Keep checking after five minutes.) When it is set, remove the custard from the oven and let cool at room temperature before placing them in the refrigerator for 2 hours to completely cool. (We found it best to leave it cool overnight.) Once the brulee has cooled, evenly spread 1 tablespoon of sugar over each ramekin and using a blowtorch, caramelize the sugar to form a candy coating. Be sure to keep the blowtorch moving in a circular motion to prevent the sugar from burning. Serve once the sugar has cooled and is hard like candy.

My opinion:
This dessert is decadent. We tried using a candle lighter and found it wasn’t really hot enough. If you want to make this more than once, consider investing in a real blow torch. This recipe is worth trying at least once.