Hostess With The Mostess

I love hosting parties. There’s something about inviting people into your home to share good food, drinks and conversation. However, cooking can be quite time consuming when you’d rather be with your guests. Here’s an easy appetizer that can help with time efficiency in the kitchen and help to hold your guests over until the main course. These are my olive tamponade crustinis over goat cheese and mascarpone. To create the base of these small bites, I cut up a baguette into 1 inch thick crustinis. I laid them onto a sheet tray, drizzled them with some olive oil and popped them into the oven until golden brown. While these toasted, I started on my olive tamponade. In a food processor, I combined pitted green olives, kalamata olives, Rosemary, capers and garlic. I added some olive oil as I pulsed this combination. I wanted to keep a thicker texture to the olives so I didn’t pulse them for too long. After everything had combined together I started on my cheese mixture. I mixed together goat cheese and mascarpone. I can’t say I measured this to perfection, but I tasted as I mixed. You can find a balance that works best with your taste buds! I added some orange zest to this combination. No salt and pepper needed! There is enough salt from the olives and capers in the tamponade. Once the bread is all toasted and golden in the oven, it’s time to put these together! Spread some of the cheese mixture on the crustini and add some of the olives on top. I am an olive fanatic and goat cheese lover…so this appetizer really hit home for me! Try this out and let me know how you like it! The beauty of this recipe is that you can be creative with the cheeses you choose or toppings you add. Don’t be afraid to get creative! 

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Upside Down Pizza

This appetizer, I made at a family cookout after finding inspiration from Giada De Laurentiis. I am a huge fan of the food network and happened to watch her create a similar dish on “Giada in Italy”. I perceived this recipe as a creation of pizza backwards!

To create this dish, I cut up two large onions and cooked them down in a sauté pan with some salt, pepper and vegetable oil. Once they were soft and caramalized, I turned off the heat and drizzled some balsamic vinegar over the top. I flattened the onions on the pan and added dollops of whipped ricotta with lemon zest overtop the onions. I then put a sheet of puff pastry on top of the pan and pressed down (do you get how we are creating this pizza backwards now??). I cut off the edges and put the pan in the oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. When I took the pan out of the oven, the puff pastry had risen and browned. At this point you need a plate or pan that’s bigger than the sauté pan. Put the pan over the sautéed creation and flip it quickly. You now have your “pizza” or savory crostata. I let it cool and added some halved grape tomatoes, fresh oregano and arugula. This was a fan favorite and super  easy to create! Try it at home and let me know how it goes! 

Bolognese, Family Style

What’s better than a home cooked, hearty, Italian meal? Sharing the experience with family of course! My mom, dad and I worked together to create this delicious dish! The ingredients include…

1/4 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms 

1/2 cup of water 

6 tablespoons of olive oil 

1/2 cup chopped white onion 

A tablespoon of garlic 

A tablespoon of fresh rosemary 

1/2 lb of veal 

1/4 lb of beef 

1/3 cup of dried white wine 

3/4 cup of veal or chicken stock 

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper 

1/2 cup of fresh tomato sauce 

3/4 lbs of pasta of choice (fettuccine in our case) 

A tablespoon of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley 

2-4 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan 

AND now for how we put all of these ingredients together… 

We first rehydrated the porcini mushrooms in 1/2 a cup of water until they have softened. Chop up the mushrooms and save the water. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion for about 5 minutes or until softened. Then add the garlic and rosemary and cook until the fragrances release. Add the pork and veal. Break it apart and cook until they lose their “pinkness”. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rehydrated mushrooms and cook until the moisture evaporates and the meat begins to sizzle. Then raise the heat a bit (to moderate high heat) and add the wine as well as 2 tablespoons of the reserved mushroom liquid. Cook until the  liquid has evaporated. Add the stock and parsley and simmer for about 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 5-7 minutes. While it’s simmering, start the pasta water and bring to a boil. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta but save a cup of the water. Put the pasta in a large bowl, add the bolognese and stir well. Add pasta water if it is dry at all. Top with fresh Parmesan and parsley! (We added a touch more pepper as well as red pepper flakes for a bit of heat). Enjoy! 

Not only was this dish fun to make with my parents in my childhood kitchen, but it tasted good too! Salute!