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Archive for November, 2007

A few weeks back we hosted a little fall soirée weekend for our friends and family. We were particularly floored and extremely flattered our buddies from Amsterdam drove all the way to be here with us. The weather was crisp but not too cold with the sun streaming down on the course – perfect for golfing.

Along with Fattie’s help, I made a large Italian feast Saturday night for 40 peeps…..

This pasta disappeared fast.

Penne with Sausage, Artichokes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Recipe from Giada’s Family Dinners, by Giada De Laurentiis

You’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced, 2 tablespoons of oil reserved
  • 1 pound Italian hot sausages, casings removed
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages frozen artichoke hearts
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 16 ounces penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, plus additional for garnish
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 8 ounces water-packed fresh mozzarella, drained and cubed, optional
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation

Heat the oil reserved from the tomatoes in a large, heavy frying pan over a medium high flame. Add the sausage and cook until brown, breaking up the meat into bite-size pieces with a fork, about 8 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a bowl. Add the artichokes and garlic to the same skillet, and saute over medium heat until the garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth , wine, and sun-dried tomatoes. Boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces slightly, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook, stirring often to prevent the pasta from sticking together, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta (do not rinse).

Add the pasta, sausage, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the basil, and the parsley to the artichoke mixture. Toss until the sauce is almost absorbed by the pasta. Stir in the mozzarella, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve, passing additional Parmesan cheese alongside.

My Adaptation

  • Replace Italian sausage with spicy chorizo, sliced diagonally and browned on both sides
  • Omit artichokes
  • Add an additional 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • Add 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Add asparagus, sliced in 2 inch pieces

The small changes I made were due to the fact that it was a bit challenging to find two of the ingredients readily available here in Sweden. I know, are you kidding me right now? It proved hard to find frozen artichokes, and since canned/jarred artichokes lose their shape when cooked too long, I omitted them altogether. It’s a rare sight to see ‘Italian sausage’ in the grocery store, so I substituted with chorizo sausage.

At just about the final point when you toss all ingredients together, add the heavy cream, the additional Parmesan, and the asparagus. Heat through for 2 minutes while cheese melts, asparagus are warmed, and cream is incorporated. *All other steps are the same*

Get your forks ready.

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Who doesn’t love an antipasto plate? Sometimes something quick and simple can be intensely satisfying.

anti·pasto (an′ti päs′tō, pas′tō; än′tē päs′tō)

noun; an assortment, as of salted fish, marinated vegetables, meats, cheeses, and olives, served as an appetizer. [Italian : anti-, before (from Latin ante-; see ante–) + pasto, food (from Latin pāstus, past participle of pāscere, to feed).]

As most of you are aware and can easily deduce from the definition above, antipasto translated from Italian means, “before the meal” or “before the pasta”.

antiMy Italian friends have informed me to be creative and flexible when creating these scrumptious arrays of finger foods. Here are some of the nibbles we included in ours last night: roasted red peppers, large capers, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, marinated Parmesan cubes, fig jam, Italian salami, Serrano ham, Spanish Manchego cheese, Italian Taleggio cheese, Danish blue cheese, Andouille & Merguez sausages, served with toasted French bread and please, don’t forget the wine. Italian wine would be a perfect choice.

We were thrilled to receive these Italian wines as a welcome gift on my arrival to Sweden. The impressive & brilliant, 2003 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella Selezione Antonio Castagnedi.

The reviews list this wine as, nutty, with a dried fruit and clean mineral character on the nose and palate. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins, lots of flavor and a long finish. Nice dusky plumb tones in the glass. Nose of raisins, prunes, cherry, summer berries and vanilla. Very smooth – this wine is 15.5% ABV but this is not readily apparent on the palate. (Deceptively boozy). Plenty of dark sour fruits, chocolate, cinnamon, spice and a good lingering finish of kirsch and plum. Very nice. 5,000 cases made.

Wine: 2003 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella Selezione Antonio Castagnedi
Type: Red
Producer: Tenuta Sant’Antonio
Varietal: Corvina Blend
Designation: Selezione Antonio Castagnedi
Country: Italy
Region: Veneto
SubRegion: Valpolicella
Appellation: Amarone della Valpolicella

91 points. Around $50 USD here.

 

wine

Salute!

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Here’s another hottie boy with some tremendous talent. The 24 year old singer/songwriter, Jon McLaughlin.

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His CD Indiana, named after his home state in America, is certainly worth a listen.

jonmcl.jpg

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I’m not sure which one is tastier – the chef Tyler Florence or his recipe for these delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Must be a reason he was named, “Sexiest Chef Alive” by People Magazine.

You decide.

Tyler Florence

My Big, Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies
courtesy of Tyler Florence, Food Network

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (8-ounce) block dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer; cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla and eggs. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and continue to mix until a smooth batter forms. Turn off the mixer and fold in the chocolate chunks using the spatula.

To form the cookies, scoop about 1/4 cup of cookie dough into your hands and roll it around into a ball; place them about 3-inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets; you should get about 4 cookies on each pan. Press down the tops of the dough slightly and bake until the cookies are light brown, 12 minutes for chewy cookies, or about 15 minutes for crispy cookies.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough/cookie sheets.

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It snowed a few days ago and in my optimism I thought it would melt by the days end.

Well, can someone be so kind as to gently remind me I’m in Sweden now?

The beautiful snow didn’t melt as I had planned; in fact, it kept coming down. And now 4 days later it’s still here.

Unfortunately, we haven’t put our winter tires on the cars yet; and since it’s the law here, going too far away without them is a little risky. So, I’ve been holed up at home these last few days making every effort and excuse for a jaunt out of the house.

Oh, what have I been doing to keep busy? Rearranging the junk drawers, doing laundry, scanning cookbooks, listening to music, relaxing, changing all the linens, scrubbing the bathrooms, creating a photo book online, vacuuming, surfing the web, chatting with friends, dusting, shopping online, organizing my closet, trying new recipes, skimming through all the magazines my mom sent me from the states, and getting all snuggled up, grabbing my iPod and going for long reflective walks in the snow.

A few things I saw on my chilly 2 hour walk today (in no particular order):

  • Fresh moose tracks in the snow
  • 2 gorgeous lakes
  • A cow patty
  • Icicles dripping from the tree branches
  • Not another human soul

A few things I wish I had seen:

  • The running tracks/trails around Forest Park
  • Lake Oswego
  • A beef patty with all the fixings from Giant Burger
  • Drip coffee from Starbucks
  • Shiiki



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I heard today is National Philanthropy Day. Now you can shop and make a difference.

7th on Sale

7th on Sale is back with a one-of-a-kind fashion experience that offers shoppers thousands of items direct from the world’s top designers between November 15 and December 6. You can shop online or in person at the New York shopping days. For the second time, a worldwide audience can bid online for celebrity-worn gowns, magazine-worthy home goods, brilliant jewelry and more. Look for new items daily. Once again, 100% of the money raised goes to services and housing for those living with HIV and AIDS.

Shop 7th on Sale now! Click here for more detailed information on 7th on Sale.

Some statistics from their site:

While incredible progress has been made in the fight against the epidemic, HIV/AIDS remains a constant global threat. AIDS is the world’s deadliest infectious disease among adults and is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

  • The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that there are now close to 40 million people living with HIV or AIDS worldwide.

  • Since the beginning of the epidemic, AIDS has killed more than 30 million people worldwide, including more than 550,000 Americans.

  • In 2002, HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of death among New York City women between the ages of 25 and 34.

  • 61 percent of young people living with HIV/AIDS are girls.

  • Around the world, 95 percent of people living with HIV do not know it.

  • By 2010, India will have between 20 and 25 million AIDS cases, the highest in the world.

*Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, UNAIDS, U.S. Centers for Disease Control

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I’m telling you, I adore boys who can sing. At this very moment my iPod is heavily weighted towards acoustic male singers.

EHutch

My latest obsession (easy now – there’s no stalking involved) is Eric Hutchinson.

Originally from the east coast, this twenty something performer has been called one of the most talented singer-songwriters that Boston has to offer and made the top 10 best album sellers on iTunes in September of 2007 (without a label!).

I had downloaded Hutchinson’s latest album, Sounds Like This, back in September and played it incessantly for 2 weeks. I knew I was pushing it when Fattie groaned in his cute accent, “Really? Again? Maybe we could hear something else tonight?”.

So, I’ve been patient for a couple months, laying low, mixing in other artists, but now it’s time to rekindle the love for this CD….His voice is spectacular.

 

Here’s a snippet of an editorial review:

‘You haven’t listened to Eric Hutchinson yet? Oh, you must not be a fan of intelligent pop music. Or is it that you hate hearing new music that is modern yet schooled in the prime of pop music’s yesteryears? For the last 3 years Eric Hutchinson has been cultivating his own brand of acoustic green-eyed soul. Now it is time for you to hear it. Notice the painstakingly placed lyrics, brimming with sarcasm and wit. Turn your attention to his carefully crafted, yet effortless melodies. He sings! He plays guitar! AND piano! He may very well be the next Stevie Wonder! …but probably not. ‘

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