Tag Archives | cooking

Spiced Pumpkin Wedges with Spinach, Apple & Pine Nuts

Spiced pumpkin wedges with spinach, apple & pine nuts
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Recipe By Silvia Baldini— A lovely sustaining and tasty fall salad. Sweet roasted and spicy pumpkin is topped with layers of crunchy apples, woodsy pine nuts and a load of spinach. I'm in love with this dish.
Servings
4/6 people
Servings
4/6 people
Spiced pumpkin wedges with spinach, apple & pine nuts
Print Recipe
Recipe By Silvia Baldini— A lovely sustaining and tasty fall salad. Sweet roasted and spicy pumpkin is topped with layers of crunchy apples, woodsy pine nuts and a load of spinach. I'm in love with this dish.
Servings
4/6 people
Servings
4/6 people
Ingredients
PUMPKIN
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium pumpkin, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 6-8 wedges
SPINACH
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
  • 1 tart apple (Granny Smith or similar), peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons runny honey
  • 1 pound washed spinach sliced in ribbons
  • 5 tablespoons double cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch fresh ground black pepper
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 400F Put coriander, cumin, fennel, cinnamon and chilli with the salt into a mortar and pestle and crush until finely ground. Add the garlic and olive oil and pound to a paste. Rub this spice mix evenly all over the pumpkin wedges. Arrange in a single layer in a roast until tender, about 40 minutes.
  2. Make the spinach topping when the pumpkin is nearly done. Toast the pine nuts in a dry heavy frying pan over the low heat, shaking the pan once or twice, until nutty and golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Put the oil in a large pan over medium heat. When it's hot, add the onion and chilli and cook until soft and wilted, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the apple and garlic ad cook until the apple starts to turn gold, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, honey and two tablespoons of the pine nuts. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes, then pour in the cream and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Arrange the roast pumpkin onto a serving platter, pour over the spinach sauce and sprinkle over the chopped cilantro and remaining pine nuts. Serve at once.
Recipe Notes

THINK AHEAD

You can bake the pumpkin a day ahead; reheat gently in a 300F oven, about 20 minutes. The spinach sauce is best made just before serving as it loses its bright green colour if you leave it sitting around but it takes only a few minutes if you have your pine nuts ready and toasted and your spinach chopped.

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Welcome Back to School

The 10 stages of a mother summer holiday. 

  • Euphoria
  • Peace
  • Euphoria dissipation
  • Panic
  • Screaming Phase
  • Swearing Phase
  • Bribing
  • Alcohol
  • Euphoria
  • Peace

Welcome back to school!
Of course with peace and back to school we also get back to lunches, dinner, snacks and the dreaded stinky soccer shoes. I don’t know what to do about smelly shoes, but I know how to cope with meal’s prep anxiety.
I personally enjoy cooking for my family because I believe nourishing is the best part of being a woman and a mother.
The food I like to cook straddles both my vision, and passion for eating well and my love for taking care of family and friends. I truly enjoy cooking wholesome recipes that are good for the mind and body. Then I find immense joy in sharing my recipes. Essentially, I believe in the power of food to nourish the body and in the power of women to nourish loved ones. I also know how hard it is to find the time to shop and cook healthy but delicious meals for a family every day.
This is way I’m excited to be working and to be sharing my recipes with RealEats.com
RealEats is a prepared meal subscription service that makes it quick and simple to eat real food. Meals are vacuum-sealed in food-safe, recyclable pouches to lock in the freshness, flavor and nutrients, then shipped directly from our kitchen to consumers weekly. Meals stay fresh for seven days when refrigerated, and can simply be reheated in a pot of boiling water, ready to eat in under 10 minutes.

The first 3 meals are $30  Among many yummy recipes you can try my shrimp, beans and pancetta, a shiitake chicken and a braised chickpeas and tomatoes vegetarian stew, a brilliant meat free dish. It’s served with a delicious spinach couscous for extra energy. This toothsome and tender chickpeas stew is seasoned to perfection. The tenderness comes from the slow and low cooking; the punchy flavors come from the healthy and powerful blend of spices. The braised chickpeas and tomatoes vegetarian stew is a brilliant meat free dish. It’s served with a delicious spinach couscous for extra energy.

If you are still not convinced you can read the raving reviews in The Manual or watch me tomorrow live on Good Morning CT at 9 when I demonstrate how easy it is to prep a meal in less than 8 minutes.

Of course if you feel euphoric enough to get back in to the kitchen and cook for the family click on this link to get the recipe for my satisfying shiitake chicken. It’s a delicious one tray dinner the whole family will love!

 

Shiitake Mushrooms, Lemon, Parsley One-Tray Dinner
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Shiitake Mushrooms, Lemon, Parsley One-Tray Dinner
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium organic lemon, juiced
  • 6-8 thyme sprigs
  • 1 lb. Shiitake mushrooms cleaned, stemmed and halved if too large
  • 1 organic lemon sliced
  • 1 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • extra lemon slices and parsley for garnish
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven at 450F. Line a thick rimmed oven tray with parchment. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper then place on the lined oven tray. Drizzle the chicken with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and half of the lemon juice and add the thyme sprigs.
  2. Place the chicken in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until the chicken begins to brown, then pull out of the oven.
  3. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, toss the cleaned mushrooms with the lemon slices and two tablespoons of the olive oil, one teaspoon of the sherry vinegar, the garlic and the thyme, then scatter around the browned chicken. Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the mushrooms are browned at the edges.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, mix the remaining olive oil with the 1/2 a cup of parsley the 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Season the sauce with salt.
  5. When ready to serve, squeeze the remaining half of the lemon on the chicken then spoon some of the parsley sauce on top of the chicken and mushrooms. Serve with the remaining sauce. Garnish with lemon and extra parsley.
Recipe Notes

I adore Shiitake. Of course fresh porcini would  make a wonderful substitute. I have also used marsala instead of the sherry vinegar for a slightly sweeter finish.

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Summer Vegetable Ratatouille

A Ratatouille is a beautiful summer excuse to transform humble ingredients like onions, garlic and herbs in to a glorious and delicious  dish. This recipe is very healthy but packed with big flavors. I use zucchini but you could add eggplant, peppers and thin slices of potatoes for a more powerful version.

Summer Vegetable Ratatouille
Print Recipe
Recipe by Silvia Baldini
Summer Vegetable Ratatouille
Print Recipe
Recipe by Silvia Baldini
Ingredients
  • 3 medium ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small peeled and roughly chopped carrot
  • 1 small peeled garlic clove
  • 4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons 3 tsp fresh thyme, basil, parsley finely chopped
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 3 medium yellow squash
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Servings:
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a food processor add the chopped tomatoes, shallot, carrot and the garlic. Chop all the vegetable but stop before they become a puree', leaving a rough texture.
  3. Pour the chopped vegetables, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and half of the chopped fresh herbs into a medium baking dish. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Using a mandolin, or a really sharp knife, thinly and evenly, slice the vegetables. Make the slices thin, about 1/8’ (3mm) thick.
  5. Make mini-stacks of about 20 slices in sequence. Arrange a few stacks at a time into the prepared baking dish in a concentric spiral from the outer edge to the inside, fanning them out a bit so that you can see the top 1/8” of all the slices. “Stand” them up a little, so you can it as many vegetable slices in as possible, but you may still have some leftover veggies. Save the smaller rounds for the center of the dish.
  6. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and season with more salt and pepper. Sprinkle the remaining chopped herbs. Cover the dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to it just inside the dish rim, directly on top of the vegetable arrangement.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes -1 hour
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6 Three Day Weekend Free Give Away Passes To The County Living Fair In Rhinebeck

The COUNTRY LIVING FAIR RETURNS TO RHINEBECK, NEW YORK, JUNE 2-4

I’m so excited to be part of the Country Living Fair this year and very honored to be cooking on the stage where I’ll be doing a demo on Spring Power Lunches.

The Country Living Fair brings the magazine’s content to life and gives readers access to a unique shopping experience featuring more than 200 vendors from 25 states, including antiques sellers, food purveyors, artists, furniture makers, crafters, and more. Guests will also have a chance to meet Country Living editors and their special guests; attend cooking, crafting, and DIY demonstrations, workshops, and book signings; sample locally sourced, artisanal food; and shop the Country Living General Store.

Don’t miss out on this fabulous three day event!  Come And Meet Me On:

Friday, June 2 @ 2:30 pm on the Kitchen Stage


The Fair is  June 2, 3, 4 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Gates open for Early Bird ticket holders at 8:30 a.m. Friday & Saturday at the Duchess County Fairgrounds at 6550 Spring Brook Avenue in Rhinebeck, NY 12572 for more in formations click on the  Country Living Magazine link.

The 2017 Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck is sponsored by The 2017 Ford Experience Tour, Jelly Belly®, and JOANN Stores, and is produced by Stella Show Management Company. For tickets and additional information, including a list of vendors and discounted hotel rates, contact Stella Show Management Co. at 1-866-500-FAIR or www.stellashows.com.

I love the fair and I cannot wait to meet all the amazing artists, chefs, crafters and designer that will be there, plus I’m giving away 6 3-day weekend passes to the Country Living Fair. 

To be eligible simply share this post and leave a comment here or tag me and share on my Facebook page or on my Facebook StrawberryandSage page on my  Instagram or my Twitter account, and let me know WHY I should give YOU a 3 day weekend pass to the event…  Contest runs through Tuesday, May 30th and the winners will be announced on May 31st

 

See You The Fair!

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Puberty Class

Euphoria has been building in our home. The infamous puberty class is happening today. Questions have been flying in for months as well as large packs of manly Axe Deodorant. I have spent hours at the local pharmacy waiting for my son to choose between Gold Temptation, Anarchy For Him and yes, something named Excite Deodorant Stick.

Secretly I want my boy to remain cute, cuddly and stinky forever but as a mother I feel the responsibility to give him the chance to grow up in to a strong, confident, respectful, kind and hopefully succesful man.  The way I see it, we have enough puberty-trapped, spoiled men-children disrupting our lives at the moment.

Below you’ll find some of the questions my husband and I answered this year. My younger daughter of course felt the need to jump in abundantly and she was not shy with her queries. The creatures  seem to be the most curious at inopportune times and/or when guests, grandparents or church ladies are close by, but we have learned to deflect when necessary and to answer with— I hope — honesty and humor.

If you feel the need to sit with your family and have “the talk” or any talk, consider making my recipe for a lighter version of a lasagna tray made with pane Casarau. Pane Casarau is an ancient flat bread from Sardegna. The airy flat layers are simply delicious, salty and crunchy. They are made of flour, yeast, water, and salt. The dough is rolled out thin and baked, then split into two layers which are baked again. The result is a thin, crispy cracker like, bread. This crispy bread is great on its own or served together with a fresh but dry pecorino and thick slices of prosciutto. It’s also delicious when layered in this version of the ultimate family comfort food, my easy and light ragu’ and mozzarella lasagna. This lasagna is healthier, lighter than the original version. The Casarau bread while satisfying has less gluten than pasta resulting in a more digestible dish.

I believe ancient wisdom is always the best ingredient therefore I cannot wait to sit around the family table tonight and dispense my knowledge. I’m sure the discussions will not disappoint. Happy Wednesday to all the ladies working hard at growing boys in to good men, not an easy task. #RESIST

 

Puberty Questions:

Does it hurt to get a baby created?
Why do you have sex?
How do you have sex
When you are going through puberty would a person have mood swings?
When do you start having your period?
When do you start growing hair under your armpits?
Does it feel good to have sex?
What happens if puberty doesn’t happen to you?
Why does puberty happen?
Why do people stop doing puberty?
What is it called when you have a tingling in your private part? Is it called an orgasm?
Can a man have a woman’s part and a woman have a man’s part?
What is an orgasm?
What are the side effects of sex?
What makes semen?
What color is sperm?
If I had all the symptoms of a period would I get it soon even if I’m only 10?
What do men and women have to have to make a child?
Does the flow of the period last days?
How many hormones are in the human body?
What age do you start have and stop having baby?
Why do girls go through more things than boys do?
Why do you have a half cup of blood when you have your period? Why not ¼ or 3/8?
How does the HIV virus go into other person by having sex?
What are AIDS?
What happens when a man’s penis becomes hard?
Why is it wrong to have sex before you are married and who came up with the idea that it is?
How do you know someone is in love with you?
Why do people have sexual change of feelings about a man or woman?
How do I know it’s time to wear deodorant?
Why can some women can’t have baby?
Is it normal for a 5th grader to have pubic hairs?
Why does my penis get big? I mean I know what’s supposed to happen but why does it happen randomly?
Do you have to have sex?
I just wanted to know if the sack behind penis ever runs out of sperm?
Why are kids mental when there parents are related?
Is having sex the only way to have a baby?
What are the positions for having sex?
Where do you have sex?
How does sex change your life?
How large does your penis grow when you hit puberty?
How do condoms work?
Can a man to man make babies?
Will my personality change in puberty? Will I become unnaturally gloomy?
Can puberty be disturbing sometimes?
Where does the liquid from the boy’s penis come from?
How are ferternal twins born?
My question is, what happens to your body after experiencing “it”!
For breast feeding where does the milk come from?
When is the right time to start wearing bras?
What happens if one of your breasts is bigger than the other? Is that bad?
Will it hurt when my body changes?
Why are we even talking about these things?

 

Pane Casarau Lasagna Bake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6/8 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6/8 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Pane Casarau Lasagna Bake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6/8 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6/8 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 cups tomato sauce you can use Pomi strained tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 8/12 crackers pane Casarau I used 1 and 1/2 square pack available at Trader Joe's
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 2 cups meat ragu'
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella sliced
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven at 350°F. Spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9-by-12-inch lasagna pan. Wet the Pane Casarau crackers with the vegetable stock or the water to soften them. Then cover the tomato sauce with one layer of the Pane Casaurau. You can break the bread to fit pan.
  2. Spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bread and season highly with salt and pepper. Add a thin layer of ragu' sauce and spread. Sprinkle with a couple of teaspoons of the grated pecorino and parmigiano. Add 4 to 6 thin slices of the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with basil leaves.
  3. Cover with a layer of the softened Pane Casarau and repeat for 2 or 3 more layers using all the ingredients. Top with a layer of tomato sauce and sprinkle evenly with the grated cheeses.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minute, or until the cheese on the top is melted and slightly golden brown. Drizzle with olive oil to finish.
Recipe Notes

I used a square version of Pane Casarau from Trader Joe's.  You can find the bread online at hwww.amazon.com/Pane-Carasau-Flatbread-Classic-gram/dp/B007W5OUB6

I have made the lasagna without ragu' and I increased the amount of tomato sauce and the mozzarella.

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Food Science For Girls

I have a badass little daughter. She loves science, math, singing songs from Matilda the musical, unicorns and all things rainbow. I’m fond of cooking and since cooking is also a science, we teamed up for her school fair project. I knew she had her eyes on the rain and clouds experiment so after some digging in our pantry we managed to turn a tin of spun sugar in to fluffy clouds and butterfly pea flowers tea in to pretty rain. We filled the glass with bright yellow lemonade, we topped the lemonade with a cloud of spun sugar and we poured the hot blue tea on to the sugar.  We wanted to prove that as a cloud gets full of water or mass, the water has to go somewhere and will break through the cloud and start to fall to the ground. As we poured our hot tea over the spun sugar cloud, we watched the sugar/cloud disappear and change its composition; we were mesmerized by the blue tea slowly dripping like rain in the yellow lemonade and then turning in to a lovely and might I add, yummy rainbow. The cotton candy will melt and the lemonade will react with the tea and change color. The color of the butterfly pea flower tea changes depending on the pH of whatever it’s mixed with. That, dear ladies, is culinary science! If you add, as suggested by one of the parent at the fair, a generous shot of vodka, its’ also a mother’s helper.

Our cloud was not the only disappearing act. Last week our administration revealed the budget outline  known as the skinny budget. The cuts in the proposed educational budget are fast and furious;  among other debilitating cuts, they include eliminating support for after-school programs and teacher professional development.  If science, and the dreams of your children are important to you, download this handy pocket-sized action guide and get to work on your next project.  Your kids can help you writing postcards while sipping on rainbow tea(the non alcoholic one, that is). #RESIST

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One-Pot Lamb, Lentils and Chickpeas Stew

A woman’s place is everywhere, therefore we need all the help and stamina we can get to get to gallop through the day and win our battles. Lentils and Chickpeas are a ginormous source of energy and they taste darn good when slow cooked with savory ingredients. I like to combine them with ground lamb, tomatoes, potatoes, cumin and a pinch of smoked paprika for an easy all inclusive one pot family dish.

One Pot Lamb and Lentils Stew
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
One Pot Lamb and Lentils Stew
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot diced
  • 1 medium celery stalk diced
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground lamb you can also use small cubes
  • 3 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 pound black lentils, rinsed
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme chopped
  • 1 cup peeled and cubed potatoes
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan and add the carrot, celery and onion. Cover and cook for until softened, which should take just a couple minutes. Then add the garlic and lamb and cook, stirring and crumbling the ground lamb or turning the lamb chunks as needed, until browned on the outside but still pink on the inside, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and wine and cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid evaporates.
  2. Add the lentils, chickpeas, cumin and paprika and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, thyme, potatoes, chicken stock and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper and cook on medium heat for 45 minutes, or until the lentils are soft but not mushy, sorta like cooking pasta until it’s al dente. Stir with a wooden spoon from time to time.
  4. Remove and discard the bay leaves, season with salt and pepper and serve sprinkled with the parsley.
Recipe Notes

Add some sliced avocado and fresh spinach for extra green power. Leftovers are outstanding spooned on flat bread—we call it lamb pizza.

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Beetroot, Orange and Spinach Juice

Time to reset, clean out and get back in my jeans. Beetroots are packed with iron, folic acid, magnesium and antioxidants. Combined with orange juice and spinach in a delicious, gorgeous, deep red juice, they’re sure to kick start my day.

beetroot-juice-silvia-baldini

Beetroot, Orange and Spinach Juice
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 glasses 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 glasses 5 minutes
Beetroot, Orange and Spinach Juice
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 glasses 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 glasses 5 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 medium red beets roughly chopped
  • 5 medium oranges peeled and segmented or roughly chopped
  • 1 cup spinach leaves, rinsed
  • 2/3 cup cold water
Servings: glasses
Units:
Instructions
  1. Push the beet, oranges and spinach through a juice extractor. Stir in the water and serve. If you don't have a juice extractor, use a high-powered blender and then strain it through a fine-mesh sieve.
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Simple Pancake Stack

Everyone has a favorite pancake recipe and this is mine. It rises high and with a soft, sponge like texture, ready to soak up creamy butter and syrup. Add bananas, or berries and a dollop of whipped cream for a truly decadent breakfast. Sometimes I have the kids prepare and weight all the ingredients the night before. Wet ingredients  in a bowl and dry in another bowl, even the eggs. Then in the morning we are ready to go.

Simple Pancake Stack
Print Recipe
Recipe by Silvia Baldini
Servings Prep Time
8 medium pancakes 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes resting time
Servings Prep Time
8 medium pancakes 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes resting time
Simple Pancake Stack
Print Recipe
Recipe by Silvia Baldini
Servings Prep Time
8 medium pancakes 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes resting time
Servings Prep Time
8 medium pancakes 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes resting time
Ingredients
Pancakes
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour sifted
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp melted and cooled butter
To serve (optional)
  • unsalted butter or whipped butter
  • maple syrup
  • powdered sugar
  • whipped cream
Servings: medium pancakes
Units:
Instructions
  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a bowl. Put the milk, eggs, and cooled melted butter into a second large bowl and mix with a whisk.
  2. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently combine. Do not overwork the pancake batter. It doesn't matter if the batter isn't smooth. Rest the batter for at least half hour for higher and fluffier pancakes.
  3. Heat a griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add a pat of butter and reduce the heat to medium-low or low. When the butter is melted, pour the batter into the pan in batches of 3 or 4 rounds and cook for 1 minute, until small bubbles begin to appear on the surface. Turn the pancake and cook until golden brown. Transfer to a plate and keep warm in a low oven. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  4. Serve with butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar or even whipped cream.
Recipe Notes

You can add a sliced banana or some berries to the batter right before cooking or some chocolate chips, a teaspoon of poppy seeds and honey.

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DOUBLE DARK CHOCOLATE PECAN AND GINGER COOKIES

Very grown up cookies, with a double hit of chocolate and a hint of ginger. TrayChic gift for the holidays.

chocoalte-cookies-traychic-silviabadlin

Double Dark Chocolate Pecan and Ginger Cookies
Print Recipe
Servings
5 dozen
Servings
5 dozen
Double Dark Chocolate Pecan and Ginger Cookies
Print Recipe
Servings
5 dozen
Servings
5 dozen
Ingredients
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature 2 sticks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 and 3/4 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
Servings: dozen
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven at 350F. Prep baking sheets and lined them with parchment paper
  2. Melt 1 and 1/2 cup of the chocolate with the butter on double boiler over simmering water, or in the microwave on a low setting. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. Reserve the remains chopped chocolate to mix in the batter.
  3. Whisk the sugars and the eggs together in a large bowl for a couple of minutes. You can use a stand n mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Frankly, I like to make cookies by hand. It's good exercise and then I don't feel guilty licking the spoon. Add the vanilla extract the melted chocolate and butter mixture, and stir until smooth.
  4. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, making powder and the salt together, then mix into the cookie mixture and stir until smooth. Add the reserved chocolate chunks, the pecans and the fresh ginger and mix until combined.
  5. Using a desert spoon or a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, drop the batter on the lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly and bake in batches on the middle shelf until set. About 10-12 minutes.
  6. Let the cookies cool on the sheets on wire rack for two minutes. Transfer the cookies on parchment to racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.
  7. Stored in air tight containers the cookies will keep for up to a week.
Recipe Notes

Dry cherries, almonds, hazelnut or coconut can be added or substituted. White chocolate chunks work well too.

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Chocolate and Cinnamon Swirl Meringues

Chocolate Swirl Meringues
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Big, pillowy sugary treats. I like to add hot sugar to the egg whites to get the inside of the meringues chewy and marshmallowy while keeping the outside crispy and crunchy. They are delicious on their own or divine with a generous spoonful of softly whipped cream.
Servings Prep Time
4/6 large meringues 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 1/2- 2 hours
Servings Prep Time
4/6 large meringues 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 1/2- 2 hours
Chocolate Swirl Meringues
Print Recipe
Big, pillowy sugary treats. I like to add hot sugar to the egg whites to get the inside of the meringues chewy and marshmallowy while keeping the outside crispy and crunchy. They are delicious on their own or divine with a generous spoonful of softly whipped cream.
Servings Prep Time
4/6 large meringues 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 1/2- 2 hours
Servings Prep Time
4/6 large meringues 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 1/2- 2 hours
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups caster granulated sugar 300g
  • 4-5 large egg whites
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
Servings: large meringues
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven an 400F and line a think baking sheet with baking parchment.
  2. Put the sugar in a small tasting pan and heat in the preheated oven for about 7-8 minutes, or until hot to the touch.
  3. Place the egg whites and salt in a bowl of a free standing mixer fitted with a whisk. Remove the hot sugar from the oven and turn the temperature of the oven down to 225F
  4. Quickly tip the sugar on to the egg whites and whisk on a medium speed for 8 to 10 mines, until the meringue is very stiff, white and cold.
  5. Using a large metal spoon fold the cocoa in to the meringue, using three or four light strokes. The trick is to keep the mixture marbleized in the appearance.
  6. Spoon the mixture on to the prepared baking sheets in 4 to 6 large peak meringues. This is the fun part, don't smash the meringue, free from it.
  7. Cook in the middle of the shelf for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, or until crisp and dry. Remove from the oven a leave to cool on the baking sheet.
Recipe Notes

You  can use cooked and sieved raspberries, or chopped almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and desiccated coconut to swirl the meringues.

I cook the raspberries with  a spoon of sugar and half juice of a lemon until soft then I sieve the mixture. This is a basic coolie.

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Hassleback Potatoes

hasselback-potatoes-frame-silvia-baldini

My mother taught me how to use a knife and prep at a young age. I started helping her in the kitchen when I was 5 or 6. I would peel potatoes, carrots and apples for her. I shelled peas and beans, chopped herbs, I stirred sauces and I coated baking pans for her cakes. She was very adamant I should not waste anything. I had to learn to scrape the flesh from the peel of an apple and to squeeze a lemon till the last drop. While I prepped, my mother would cook and bond with me. Those were precious years where I learned mothers have infinite patience, women have been working for no money in the kitchen for years, and a savvy cook must know how to use and finish everything she buys to cook for the family.  Zero waste cooking, scrap cooking, frugal gourmet, it’s what thrifty and smart women have done for century.  I believe the ability to use all parts of produce, reinvent leftovers, not only reheat them in to a chewy microwave blob, repurpose everyday food scraps into useful ingredients, it’s what separates a real cook from the pretender.

Since we never threw away anythings, stale bread turned in to useful bread crumbs and crunchy crostini; used vanilla pods were saved in glass jars to scent sugar and baking powder; the rendered fat from the pancetta was reserved for frying delicious potatoes; we even kept espresso grounds in an air tight container to get rid of odors and to keep ants away. I believe cooking with scraps is a must not only for the thrifty but also our obligation to our enormously abused planet.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing some of my favorite frugal tips and recipes here on my blog as well as in an article, soon to be published, in Reader’s Digest.  Today, I’m starting with the basic.

Bread Crumbs:

To make my bread crumbs I keep the left overs loafs of breads out on the counter for at least a day. Once the bread is hard and stale I pulverize it in a food processor. If I’m in a rush and I don’t have stale bread I slice fresh bread and bake in the oven at 250F for 10 minutes and then pulverize it. I store the bread crumbs in air tight container for up to two months. I like to add dried herbs to the crumbs, or even grated lemon or orange peel, ground pepper, cayenne pepper or curry powder for a bit of a kick. If I add spices or herbs to the crumbs, I save them in parchment paper for up to one week. Bread crumbs are perfect for breading cutlets, to thicken soups and sauces, to soften meatballs mixes, to line molds and baking pans.

Croutons and Crostini:

I dice the stale bread in 1 inch cubes or for rustic croutons I tear the bread in to thumb size pieces. I toss the croutons with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then I place them on a lined baking tray, and toast them in an oven preheated at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. For an infusion of flavor I add chopped herbs, like rosemary and thyme, chopped garlic, chili pepper flakes, paprika or grated parmesan.
To make crostini, I cut the stale bread, I like to use old baguettes or italian crusty loafs, in to regular slices about 1/2 inch high. I drizzle with olive oil and toast the slices in the oven at 350F until golden brown. Both the crouton and the crostini will keep in an air tight container on the counter for up to two weeks.

Saving energy tip:

If you have an hot oven that’s finished being used and cooling down, put the bread crumbs or the crostini inside overnight. You will use the free heat that you have already payed for and save energy and gas!

Hassleback Potatoes:

Then there is the best ever recipe for hassleback potatoes, a big favorite at my Thanksgiving table. I have attached the recipe below, it’s always a winner.

 

Hasselback Potatoes
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Hasselback Potatoes
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Ingredients
  • 4-6 medium yukon yellow potatoes
  • 1 tbsp Butter melted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Peel and halve the potatoes in half. Place them on a chopping board, cut side down. Slice the potatoes one at the time thinly, but be careful not to cut through the potatoes. I place a chopstick along each sides of the potato to prevent the knife going all the way through.
  2. Combine the oil and the melted butter. Place the potatoes cut side down on a lined baking dish in a single layer. Coat the potatoes with the oil and butter mixture using a brush.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes basting frequently with the remaining oil and butter. Combine the crumbs and the grated cheddar cheese.
  4. After 45 minute sprinkle the potatoes with a little salt and the combine crumbs and cheddar cheese. Bake for an extra 15 minutes or until golden brown.
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Burned Crumbs and Anchovy Paste Spaghetti

Burned Crumbs and Anchovy Paste Spaghetti
Print Recipe
Servings
4 people
Cook Time
8/12 minutes
Servings
4 people
Cook Time
8/12 minutes
Burned Crumbs and Anchovy Paste Spaghetti
Print Recipe
Servings
4 people
Cook Time
8/12 minutes
Servings
4 people
Cook Time
8/12 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • salt for cooking water
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes optional
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Boil the water with the salt. When the water is boiling add the spaghetti and cook al dente. While the pasta is cooking, warm the olive oil in a skillet on medium heat.
  2. Add the anchovy paste and mash in to a paste. Add the garlic cloves, stir in the crumbs and cook until browned and dark brown. Discard the garlic cloves.
  3. Drain the pasta, toss in a bowl with the bread crumbs and anchovies mixture, sprinkle with the chopped parsley and if desired some chili flakes. Enjoy with a cold beer and good friends!
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Friday Winner

Thank you for all the great comments and posts about why you would love to attend the Taste of Fairfield  on Sunday October the 9th, the scrumptious event organized by TownVibe and Fairfield Magazine !

We worked hard to read through all the comments; Then we realized we have a bit of a soft spot for cute romantic couples, so Kirsten won the two free tickets and she will be celebrating with her foodie husband on his birthday at the Southport’s Delamar Hotel.
TRAY CHIC!

taste-of-fairfield-silvia-badinil-1

There is still time to buy your tickets online at tasteoffairfield.com
General Admission tickets cost $50: including food, drink, and entertainment. VIP Admission—with access to the Black Rock Galleries Fusion Lounge costs $100 and includes ongoing food service, drinks from VIP bar, entertainment, private parking, and a TV.

For more information you can contact TownVibe at 203-431-1708 or Robin Phillips at rphillips@townvibe.com

After reading all your comments I got really hungry, so I decided to make a quick late dinner and wouldn’t you know it! my fridge was full of cheese. Tuesday, after listening to my wise foodie and glutton friend Alina, I had stopped by at Liuzzi in Hamden, Ct and loaded up and I mean, loaded UP, with fresh mozzarella.

liuzzi-silvia-baldini

So what does a hungry chef make late at night with a lot of fresh, gooey mozzarella in less than 15 minutes?

Mozzarella in carrozza

mozzarella-carrozza-silvia-baldini
Mozzarella in carrozza is the ultimate italian, comfort food. Bread, cheese, salt, egg, bread crumbs, FRY. Yeassss! move over grilled cheese.I have attached the recipe below. It’s so easy and good once you make it and bite in to it, you will never go back. Carrozza means chariot. So even if this sandwich is perfect for a quick dinner or a cozy meal, I think it is truly a royal treat. You can also add some prosciutto for extra saltiness and substance, but I’m kind of a purist and I like to bite trough the crunchy and salty bread, in anticipation of a mouth full of the warm and melty mozzarella.

mozzarella-carrozza-plate-silvia-baldini

Happy Friday!

Mozzarella in Carrozza
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Mozzarella in Carrozza
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Ingredients
  • 8 slices white bread
  • 2 medium fresh mozzarellas
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Arrange 4 slices of bread on a wooden board. Whisk the 2 eggs in a shallow dish. Prepare the bread crumbs on a piece of waxed paper. Cut the mozzarella in even thin slices.
  2. Arrange the slices of mozzarella on the bread, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, then cover with the remaining four slices and press to close well.
  3. Dip the sandwiches one by one in the egg mixture and then coat with the bread crumbs, making sure to shake the excess off.
  4. Heat up a pan with the oil and then gently fry the sandwiches until golden brown and crunchy. The Mozzarella will be warm, almost melted and should form ribbons when pulled.
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Mozzarella in Carrozza

Mozzarella in Carrozza
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Mozzarella in Carrozza
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Ingredients
  • 8 slices white bread
  • 2 medium fresh mozzarellas
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Arrange 4 slices of bread on a wooden board. Whisk the 2 eggs in a shallow dish. Prepare the bread crumbs on a piece of waxed paper. Cut the mozzarella in even thin slices.
  2. Arrange the slices of mozzarella on the bread, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, then cover with the remaining four slices and press to close well.
  3. Dip the sandwiches one by one in the egg mixture and then coat with the bread crumbs, making sure to shake the excess off.
  4. Heat up a pan with the oil and then gently fry the sandwiches until golden brown and crunchy. The Mozzarella will be warm, almost melted and should form ribbons when pulled.
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Kit Kat Cake

I made a Kit Kat cake for my daughter 8th birthday and it was  a huge success. You can find similar cakes on Instagram and Pinterest but this is my decadent version. It’s homemade, it’s fun to bake, it’s easy decorate and it tastes like a birthday cake should; sinful, gooey and of all things chocolates. It’s definitely a show off kind of cake. Kids go crazy for it and adults turn into kids when they see it.

kitkatcake

The base for the layer cake is similar to an Italian sponge cake, except I use baking powder in my version. Sponge cake is an airy and fluffy cake. It’s the base for many desserts. You can slice it, fill it and layer it. (Hello Zuppa Inglese)

Italian-sponge-cake-pan-di-Spagna-silviabaldini

It’s best if you make it the day before and cool it well. It keeps for up to 3 days in an air tight container and it can be frozen.

Now, if making a sponge cake intimidates you, just bake two vanilla box cakes, I won’t tell anyone, but I encourage you do give it a try. Once you learn to make a sponge, it will become your go to cake, I promise.

The filling for the cake is a chocolate custard. Yum! If you don’t’ want to make a custard (but why not!), then use a chocolate frosting.

Finally, I use Nutella to cover the whole cake and to glue the bars, but again you may use frosting if you prefer or if you have a nut allergy.

Once your cake is assembled, just have fun decorating it with the Kit Kats and the M&M’s. I love Smarties too, but they are hard to find in the USA.

Finally, if you are making the cake for adults you can soak each layer with rum or an orange liquor before spreading the custard, it gives it a delicious boozy extra kick!

I’m sharing the recipes below. If you have any questions, email me! I love hearing from you and if you bake this fab cake share it on your socials and tag me #silviabaldini #traychic #sharefood

Happy Birthday to all and happy end of the summer!

Kit Kat Cake
Print Recipe
birthday cake delight
Servings Prep Time
20 people 40 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25/30 minutes 24 hours cooling time
Servings Prep Time
20 people 40 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25/30 minutes 24 hours cooling time
Kit Kat Cake
Print Recipe
birthday cake delight
Servings Prep Time
20 people 40 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25/30 minutes 24 hours cooling time
Servings Prep Time
20 people 40 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25/30 minutes 24 hours cooling time
Ingredients
Sponge Cake
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 10 large eggs room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Custard for filling
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour sifted
  • 3.5 ounces baking chocolate semisweet or dark
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 medium grated lemon zest
Decorations
  • 3 packs kit Kat bars get a couple of extra packs for safety
  • 1 bag M&M's smarties or jellybeans are fun too
  • 1 medium Jar nutella chocolate frosting can be used instead
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven at 350, butter and flour or spray with baking spray two 10 inches baking pans.
  2. Put the eggs, sugar and lemon zest and vanilla extract in a bowl of your stand mixer. Beat the eggs until very fluffy and pale yellow (about 15 minutes on medium/high speed). To test that it has been beaten enough, let some of the mixture fall into the bowl, it will make stiff ribbons.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder on top of the egg mixture, a little at a time, and fold it gently with a wooden spoon. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Don't smooth the top or bang the pan on the counter, leave it as it is!
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Remember: do not open the oven for the first 20 minutes!)
  5. Turn off the oven but leave the cake inside (put a wooden spoon to keep the oven door slightly open) for at least 10 minutes so it can cool down slowly. After that, remove it from the oven, let it cool 10 more minutes, loosen around the edges with a knife, then flip the cake on a wire rack upside down (without the pan) to cool completely.
Chocolate Custard
  1. Melt the Chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave, set aside.
  2. Heat milk in a medium heavy saucepan with the lemon zest until bubbles appear around edge.
  3. Beat egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl with wire whisk or mixer until pale yellow and thick. Beat in flour until well mixed.
  4. Gradually beat in hot milk; pour all back into saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over moderately high heat until mixture thickens and comes to boiling, lower heat. Mixture will be lumpy in the beginning, but lumps disappear during cooking and stirring.
  5. Add the melted chocolate and stir well.
  6. Continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes, over low heat, stirring constantly. Mixture will be quite thick.
  7. Chill at least 2 hours. If filling becomes too stiff after it's chilled, gradually stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons cream or milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Assembly and Decoration
  1. Slice the 2 cakes in 4 even layers. Place the first layer on a cake stand or a card board round mat if you plan to transport the cake. You can spread a dollop of cream on the cake stand base or on the cardboard to glue the cake.
  2. Spread enough chocolate cream to cover the surface on the top of the first layer then place the second half of the cake on top of the cream. Repeat the process until you have all for layers stacked.
  3. With a metal spatula or a knife cover the whole cake in an even coat of Nutella or chocolate frosting. This will be the glue for your Kit Kat bars.
  4. Break apart approximately 36 Kit Kats, 2 at the times. Begin to place them around the cake and cover the diameter. Tie with a ribbon, if desired. Top with M&M's.
Recipe Notes

Make the cakes the day before. Keep overnight in an air tight container. You can bake them 3 days ahead or even freeze them.

Make sure your layer cakes are not taller than a Kit Kat.

You may want to freeze your Kit Kats to avoid fingerprints.

You can use your favorite frosting instead of the custard and the Nutella.

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How to Keep the Party Going

Christmas is gone, lips have locked under the mistletoe, the Tiffany ball has dropped, 2016 has made an entrance.  Here we are, some/many pounds heavier, with a bit of a hangover, decorations to take down, a long cold winter pushing in and no good holidays till Valentine. I say the hell with it.
There is no better time than now to get some glitter on and attack the next few months and extra pounds with some tasty but clean foods and listen to some good advice not only on how to keep the party going but also on how to start the New Year with positive energy.

Janet-horton-silvia-baldiniI personally foresee sunshine, no remorse and unquestionably no sad or limp vegetables in the future. To confirm my predictions I contact Janet Horton. Janet is a one of the most accredited psychics in NY. She has been successfully reading cards in Manhattan for years.
She has a huge and devoted following and she is the trusted psychic to the stars and to the exclusive Broadway set. For years she turned her tarots upstairs, at Raoul’s on Prince Street, one of my favorite hangouts in the city.  I find her on LinkedIn and after a quick exchange of emails we set up a phone meeting.

I call Janet Horton in the morning and she graciously agrees to give me a reading and a prediction on the outlook of 2016 for women, specifically for my women readers. She pulls two cards, and I immediate feel a surge of positive energy and relief coming from her voice. Janet takes her reading very seriously, and she tells me she is extremely pleased with what she has uncovered, she affirms she couldn’t have turned 2 better cards.

LoversAcePent3

The Lovers and the Ace of Pentacles.

She continues explaining the Lover Card represents perfection, harmony and attractiveness. The Lovers card also symbolizes the establishment of a personal belief system and becoming clearer about your own values. This is a time when you are figuring out what you stand for and what your personal philosophy on life is. This card means a lot to women in 2016.
It means they will connect with someone that gets them; they will feel more attractive and will connect with a special soul mate.

Then Janet talks about the Ace of Pentacles. She tells me this card is one of the most important ones in the deck. It expresses financial matters, empowering, balance, new opportunity, and it’s very positive. In short it means money is coming in. That’s good news for all of us! She also adds that the Ace of Pentacles is about manifestation of your goals, and that you are moving into a more positive state of mind about what you are capable of achieving. Your ideas are ready to be turned into something tangible. Figure out what will work and make it a reality.

I couldn’t be happier with Janet positive reading. She was truly surprised to get both these cards. I can hear a little bit of a snicker and skepticism coming my way, let me just add, many years ago, she predicted I would marry at 38 a very detail oriented, math obsessed man.
And wouldn’t you know it.
I thank her and I make an appointment to see her in a couple of Mondays.

If you are interested in a personal reading you can find Janet on Sunday evenings at La Lanterna
in the Village from 6 to 11 pm and at Winnie’s Jazz Bar in the Refinery Hotel on Monday evenings
6-10PM  I suggest you make an appointment to see her because she books really quickly and she is also busy finishing her novel titled “Behind the Veil.” A murder mystery set in Manhattan in 1939.
The plot revolves around a Psychic that predicts a murder and she consequently becomes in danger of being killed her self.
You can contact her via email at TarotbyJanet@gmail.com , by phone on her office number at
201-963-3173 or on her mobile at 201-360-9958.  She is also available for events, parties and phone readings by appointment.

With such a positive out look on 2016 I move on to the next issue.  Exercising and getting back in to my jeans. I call upon Jill Valente.  Jill is my favorite instructor at SoulCycle.  She describes herself as a dancer for life.  She is stunningly beautiful and motivating. I love taking her classes. When I ride with her I feel, not only the pounds literally melt away, but I also recharge my positive attitude.
Jill is focused on making every class a journey, filled with amazing songs, hard work, passion and sweat. Let me also add, when not on the bike, Jill is busy teaching her daughter how to be a rock star and making sure people don’t confuse her identical twin boys.

I ask Jill for some advice on how to squeeze back in to some form of non-elastic pant and she writes me back a.s.a.p. I can feel the sweat starting to percolate from my back.  Jill thinks that dealing with post holiday weight gain is tricky mainly because we have all fallen into so many bad habits. We have been indulging and enjoying special foods and while that’s fabulous, it categorically should be done only once a year. Then she writes: “…after the holidays I like to attack those extra few pounds slow and steady. I am not a fan of cleansing or completely restricting your diet because I just don’t think that’s a realist habit to maintain.  I pick a few problems foods that I have been indulging in and I cut them out week by week. Right now I’m having a huge issue with eating too much pizza so on week 1 of January I cut out pizza, week 2 will be bagels and week 3 will be sweets. After I return my body to better foods and/or I have reached my normal weight I start to introduce them back in moderation”.  Jill also writes me her thoughts about exercise. She says: “The trick to exercise and staying fit it’s finding something YOU LOVE! There are so many incredible options nowadays that it is easy to find the one that best suits you. Obviously my heart is with SoulCycle but I also do a lot of hot vinyasa yoga and love to power walk outside. People often ask me how to prepare to come to a SoulCycle class and there is one thing you have to do…BOOK A BIKE!!! There is no preparation, there is nothing you have to do or be, you just have to SHOW UP and that goes for almost anything!”.

Jill you are right! I have booked my bike already. The more the better! Here’s Jill schedule in CT,
I hope to see you there.

With my butt in check I finally attack the elephant in the room. That would be food, not me.

We all have been eating and drinking too much. It’s time to clean out the fridge and our arteries. Like Jill, I don’t believe in cleansing, or in completely eliminating and restricting food. I like to eat and I like to be happy. I say life is too short to crunch on a celery stick. I believe in smaller portions, fresh produce, good oils, no snacking on empty calories and a good dose of planning. That means think a week in advance what you are going to have for dinner.  Change your protein every night. Plan 7 good and satisfying dishes, shop for all the ingredients, make enough to have left overs for lunch, spend some time in the kitchen prepping them and enjoy dinner time with your family.

blacyepeas-soup-silvia-baldini
This is my 7 day plan:

  1. Orange lentils and carrots soup, Meyer lemons roasted salmon and brown garlic long beans.
  2. Whole grain pasta with a chick peas rosemary sauce, poached chicken and charred broccoli
  3. Black-Eyed peas and pancetta minestrone, roasted lemon and rosemary potatoes salad
  4. Herbs and prosciutto frittata, salad and lemon steamed zucchini
  5. Fennel steamed Mussels, rice and peas
  6. Black lentils, feta, avocado and pistachio salad with baby spinach and pomegranate seeds
  7. Quick grilled flat iron steak, a crunchy green salad and steamed parsley purple potatoes.

beans-chinese-silvia-baldini

You can shop for all the ingredients in less than 45 minutes. Prep all in one day, and cook each meal every evening in less than 30 minute. I pay attention to my portions and I load the plate with vegetables.
I give out small desserts to the kids/husband. Something simple, a couple of cookies, a chocolate pudding or a scoop of ice cream and I keep my fruit bowl filled with good seasonal choices.

In January I love to cook with a lot of lentils, black eye peas, pomegranate, fish, long beans and even longer noodles. These ingredients are eaten at the beginning of the year and they are meant to bring wealth, good luck, long lives and good health. You can watch me on CTSTYLE talking about my 10 favorite lucky foods and making my very simple but delicious and filling black lentil and avocado salad.

lentils-silvia-baldini

I also believe in keeping a little of the party going. Just because the holidays are over it doesn’t mean you have to leave in darkness and gloom.  The Italians believe in wearing red to encourage good and plenty of sex during the year. I say why not!
My friend Jana Platina Phipps, the famous and much admired TrimQueen, decorates her table and her house with her exquisite trim creations. She has an impeccable eyes and even more fabulous collections of napkin rings created out of vintage brooches. Read about Jana and drool over her creations in my sharing corner.

IMG_9349

Finally the recipes are below.  Feel free to email me with any cooking question you might have, or questions about a 7 day plan, but mostly I hope you have a sparkling, healthy, wealthy 2016.
Keep the party going!

Black-Eyed Peas and Pancetta Minestrone
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6/8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes overnight soaking
Servings Prep Time
6/8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes overnight soaking
Black-Eyed Peas and Pancetta Minestrone
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6/8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes overnight soaking
Servings Prep Time
6/8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes overnight soaking
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cubed pancetta
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1 large Onion finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery finely chopped
  • 4 cups washed green spinach leaves kale, cabbage or swiss chard can be used
  • 1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas soak overnight in water
  • 6 cups chicken stock vegetable, beef can be used
  • 3 sprigs parsley chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. In a pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the pancetta, onion, celery, garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, until the vegetables are softened, 10 minutes.
  2. Add the soaked black-eyed peas and stock, bring to a boil. Add the parsley, bay leaf. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat until the black-eyed peas are tender, 25 minutes.
  3. Add the spinach or whatever green you are using and cook for 5 additional minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Season and serve.
Recipe Notes

Finish with olive oil. You can add some cooked small pasta or rice to the finished dish. Freezes well

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Black lentils, Feta, Avocado and Pistachio Salad
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6/8 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6/8 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Black lentils, Feta, Avocado and Pistachio Salad
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6/8 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6/8 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 cups puy lentils
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 3 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 4 tbsp pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup toasted pistachios nuts
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp pistachio oil avocado oil or regular olive oil can be used
  • 2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Cook the lentils in salted boiling water for 12/15 minutes. Drain and set aside in a large bowl to cool.
  2. Add to the lentils the avocado peeled and chopped, the crumbled feta, the spinach leaves, the pomegranate seeds and gently toss.
  3. Combine the lemon juice, the pistachio oil, the balsamic vinegar with salt and pepper and pour on the salad. Toss again.
  4. Sprinkle the pistachios, parsley and mint on the salad. Taste for seasoning and serve.
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Brown Garlic Long Chinese Beans
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Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 mintes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 mintes
Brown Garlic Long Chinese Beans
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 mintes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 mintes
Ingredients
  • 1 large bunch long chinese beans
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 large peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy-sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 medium juice of a lemon
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Wash and trim the beans. Cut in 4 to 6 inches pieces.
  2. Add the sesame oil to a pan and the garlic. Brown slowly on medium heat. Add the beans. Shake a couple of times. Add the soy-sauce, the fish sauce and the lemon juice. Simmer for 7 to 8 minutes until cooked but still crunchy. Season with salt and pepper and add the cilantro.
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Zucchini, Speck, Lemon, Pasta

zucchini-pasta-silvia-baldini

Zucchini, Speck, Lemon, Pasta
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4/6 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4/6 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Zucchini, Speck, Lemon, Pasta
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4/6 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4/6 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 medium zucchini sliced or cubed small
  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • 3/4 cup speck or pancetta julienned or cubed small
  • 1 lemon grated zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint chopped or julienned
  • 6 tbsp fresh robiola cheese in a pinch cream cheese works well
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • parmesan
  • 12 ounces short pasta penne, strozzapreti
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Boil salted water in a large pot, add pasta and cook al dente.
  2. Meanwhile lightly sauté the zucchini and the garlic in olive oil, add speck or pancetta and cook for a couple of minutes then season, remove garlic clove and set aside.
  3. Combine lemon zest, mint in a serving bowl.
  4. Drain the pasta and reserve a cup of the cooking liquid. Put the past back in the cooking pot dress with olive oil salt and pepper.
  5. Add the robiola cheese and melt it mixing the pasta on a very low flame and using some of the cooking liquid to get a creamy consistency.
  6. Add the zucchini and speck to the pasta, mix lightly then put the pasta to the in the serving bowl with the lemon zest and mint. Mix, add parmesan pepper and serve.
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Back To School Survival Guide

I have had this Julia Child picture, framed and hanging on my wall for years. It makes me smile, it reminds me to slow down, and it’s a delightful prompt for someone like me who has a bit of a hard time asking for help.

juliachild-silvia-baldini

 

“Back to School” is one of those times I wish I had a team of professional handlers, shadowing me and making my life just a little less muddy. I don’t. Therefore the last couple of weeks have been, more or less, hell and spent arming the whole family with new soccer shoes, tennis outfits, cellos, violins and let’s not forget, discovering the virtues of my new favorite, Mode Podge Glue and did I mention consulting about new cute outfits?

I also have had to organize 2 birthday’s celebrations, inclusive of multi-layered, glittery cakes, I have been at one open house, a welcome back coffee, I had a drum stick drama and I worked on a lengthy time line project. I cannot wait for week 3 in September.
I have commiserated with many of the parents and apparently I’m not the only one with these kinds of issues. Generally speaking back to school is a war zone for all.

One place where I do better than the organizational inferno of my kids closets and their activities, it’s the kitchen. My pantry is ready to go and my fridge and freezers are stocked up for lunches, snacks, dinners and post games hunger freak-outs—I didn’t know, before becoming a mother and a wife, men turn in to famished werewolves immediately after sport practice.

Furthermore, since I suspect, you are like me at home and don’t employ a swarm of chefs and pot washers ready to chop, prep and clean at your command, I thought you might enjoy learning about my 5 favorite, ready to go meals and pantry helpers that make my life easier and my dinners more enjoyable.

roasted-tomatoeas-silvia-baldini

  1. Roasted Tomatoes Sauce It’s a simple, healthy, quick but brilliant way to make a tomatoes sauce. The full power, garlicky flavor and the smooth consistency make it a perfect versatile companion  for pastas , soups and a phenomenal base for sauces and stews. I make it in large batches and freeze it in my latest obsession, stand alone ziplock bags.
  2. Bolognese- We all have a bolognese recipes. This is my version and It reminds me of home. My kids know the taste so well by now, if I change the recipe even by one ingredient they complain. It’s a slow cooked project I usually do once a months on a weekend. I like to lace a mix  of equal parts of double ground veal, pork and beef with a small amount of cumin and nutmeg and once it’s cooked and cooled  I freeze it in pre weighted portions. I use it on pasta, rice, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, polenta or semolina.
  3. Olive Oil Frozen Herbs- This is my favorite last minute flavor trick and a great way to preserve all the herbs I grow in summer. I wash, dry and chop finely my leafy herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro and tarragon.  I put them in ice cube containers packing at least half of the cube and cover them with good olive oil. I then freeze them, pop them out and keep them in ziplock bags ready to use in sauces and sautés. Read more about Olive Oil in my sharing corner post about Alina Lawrence, she is the fab owner of Olivette.
  4. End of Summer Minestrone- I make huge pots of this healthy and hearty minestrone. It’s loaded with beans and good vegetables. I add cooked orzo, barley, pasta or rice and finish it with parmesan and crispy pancetta for a full power one dish meal.
  5. Mashed Potatoes for the week-I keep a container of home made mashed potatoes in the fridge. They last for a good 5 to 7 days. They are a smart and efficient way to produce a meal in less than 10 minutes. Just add bolognese, cheese, a fried egg, peas and bacon, sausages for a cozy dinner or use them to top left over stews, grilled salmon,  or really what ever you  have in the fridge, sprinkle them with a mix of cheddar and parmesan, then brown them under the broiler for a couple of minutes.

So welcome back to school with an empathizing nod to all of you trying to get a last minutes cello delivered to your door!

Roasted Tomato Sauce
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8/12 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8/12 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Roasted Tomato Sauce
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8/12 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8/12 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 lb full flavor ripe tomatoes
  • 4/6 peeled garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch basil leaves
  • salt and pepper
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven at 350F
  2. Halve the tomatoes and arrange them in an oven proof dish lined with parchment. I like them tightly packed but not on top of each other.
  3. Season with the salt, drizzle the olive oil evenly. Scatter the garlic and basil on the tomatoes.
  4. Roast for 45 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and lightly charred. Pass through a sieve or a food mill and discard the seeds and the skins. Use immediately as a great pasta sauce or preserve in zip lock bags and freeze.
Recipe Notes

The seeds and skin of the tomatoes are best removed as they can cause allergies and irritate the stomach.

Tomatoes cook and taste better if the pepper is added after cooking.

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Bolognese My Way
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Servings Prep Time
12 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour plus
Servings Prep Time
12 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour plus
Bolognese My Way
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour plus
Servings Prep Time
12 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour plus
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup grounded prosciutto or mortadella
  • 1 pound double ground veal
  • 1 pound double ground beef
  • 1 pound double ground pork
  • 1/2 tsp grounded cumin
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 small glass red wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato concentrate
  • 4 cups tomato passata
  • 2 cups chicken or beef stock
  • 1 bouquet garni tie bay leaves, parsley, rosemary, basil, thyme together
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Warm a couple of spoons of table spoon of olive oil in a large heavy bottom pan then add the onion, clergy and carrots and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until soft but not colored. Add the prosciutto or mortadella and keep cooking for an extra 10 minutes on a low flame. Then rise the heat and brown the veal, pork and beef turning frequently.
  2. Add the wine and deglaze the bottom and reduce the alcohol for a couple of minutes, lower the flame.
  3. Season with the nutmeg, cumin and salt and pepper. Add the tomato concentrate and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the passata, the stock and the bouquet garni.
  4. Cook on slow heat for at lest an hour. Taste for seasoning and fish out the herbs before serving or freezing.
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End Of Summer Minestrone
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