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Panna Cotta with Berries

Panna Cotta finished

Let’s make dessert.

Sure. What do you want for dessert?

Panna Cotta. Please. I love Panna Cotta!

You love Panna Cotta? Well, if you love it, I’ll make it for you.

PANNA COTTA? SERIOUSLY!? I can’t make Panna Cotta! Off to the bookshelf I go to find a recipe that isn’t going to make my head explode by just looking at the recipe! And to the rescue came Giada de Laurentiis and an easy to make Panna Cotta from Everyday Italian.

It was silky and smooth and really yummy. Easy to put together and not a lot of fussy ingredients.

When a Panna Cotta lover tells you it was the best Panna Cotta they’d ever had, you know you’ve done well!

  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1 T unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 3 C whipping cream
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 1 T sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 C assorted fresh berries

Place the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.

Pour milk mixture into a heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves but the milk does not boil, about 5 minutes.

Mixing

Add the cream, honey, sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Pour into 6 wine glasses so that they are 1/2 full. Cool slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours.

Spoon the berries atop the panna cotta and serve.

HOW EASY WAS THAT!?

Pork Chops Agrodolce

Pork Chops Agrodolce

I have seen this recipe many times – on the Williams-Somoma website, Giada de Laurentiis, Mario Batali – and all had a certain appeal. That wonderful combination of sweet and sour. And that sweet and sour comes from two of my favorite ingredients – balsamic vinegar and honey! What could be better? Oh, one thing – it’s so quick to make! It’s one of those meals you can do last minute if on a work night you decide to torture yourself and invite a friend around for dinner!

Ingredients

Best part, it’s just a few ingredients, and pantry ingredients really. Couple this with potatoes or couscous and a salad and you are DONE!

  • 4 bone-in pork chops, each about 1 lb. and 1 inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/2 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 C chicken broth
  • 2 T unsalted butter

Seasoning Pork

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper.

Cooking Pork

In a large nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chops and cook, turning once, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the honey, vinegar and thyme and cook until the liquid is thickened and reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer.

NOTE: The balsamic vinegar gets very dark, very quickly, and will go from dark to burned even quicker, so be careful!

Basting

Return the pork chops to the pan, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover and cook, turning the chops occasionally and basting with the sauce, for about 15 minutes more for medium doneness. Transfer the chops to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer until the sauce is syrupy, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the sauce over the pork chops and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Pasta alla Checca … sorta …

There’s just a last hurrah of summer left. A few lovely tomatoes, definitely some beautiful basil. I wanted to cook something that really showcased the freshness of 2 of my all time favorite ingredients.

And along came Giada de Laurentiiis and her Checca Sauce from Everyday Italian. Granted, this is a very loose interpretation of her original recipe, but the inspiration is all Giada.

Now, according to her recipe in the book, and as I have written below, the sauce is made in a food processor. And I suppose you could make it in the food processor and it would be fine. But I decided to hand cut everything so that it was slightly chunkier.

  • 8 ounces pasta
  • 4 scallions (white and pale green parts only), coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 (12-ounce container) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 (1-ounce) piece Parmesan, coarsely chopped
  • 8 to 10 fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 4 ozs fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

NOTE: I used more than a 1/2 pound of pasta. I also used vine-ripened tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes,4 tomatoes should do it. I removed some of the seeds and pulp so it wouldn’t be too watery..

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, 9 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the next 7 ingredients in a food processor. Pulse just until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped (do not puree).

NOTE: I chopped the tomatoes, basil, garlic and cheeses by hand. I really preferred the more rustic approach to this dish.

Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water. Toss the pasta with the tomato mixture and fresh mozzarella in a large bowl. Add some of the reserved pasta water (about 1/4 cup) if the sauce looks dry. Serve immediately.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

From the time I was a child, Sunday night in my house has always traditionally been a pasta dinner. Truthfully, I get so tired of meatballs and sauce. I also wanted a pasta without meat to satisfy the vegetarians …

It’s also been a slow-ish summer for me cooking-wise. Haven’t reached for the books on the shelves recently – and, after all, isn’t that the whole point of this blog?

So, it had to be pasta, had to be good … running REALLY late (as always), so it had to be quick.

You don’t get quicker, or tastier, than Giada de Laurentiis’ Sundried Tomato Pesto from Everyday Italian. Not many ingredients, simple prep, and delicious. Must have been … every morsel was gone, always the sign of a successful dinner!

This pesto is also great as a spread … yum, bruschetta … just leave out the step at the end adding in the pasta water. Oh, and don’t make or add the pasta!

  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 C (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 C freshly grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped.

Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan.

Add the pasta to the pesto and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve.

 

NOTE: And you’re DONE! In the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta, dinner is ready. Add a loaf of bread and a salad and you’re off to the races!