pecorino romano cheese

So as many know I have a passionate love affair with carbs. But even a self proclaimed carb whore needs to cool it once and a while, that is usually near bikini season which ironically is spaghetti squash season; coincidence? I think not.

The amazing thing is that you still get the satisfaction of the noodles without the guilt and it’s way better than most gluten free pastas out there.

All you need to do to prep these babies are to slice them lengthwise, remove the seeds and guts and place in boiling water until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork (about 10-15 minutes). Allow to cool and scrape out the insides with a fork. Don’t rush the cooling process or you’ll burn yourself.

This dish is super simple and serves 4:

2 spaghetti squash prepared
1 cup fresh peas
12 asparagus spears (rough ends snapped off)
10 oz Mascarpone cheese
Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound of cleaned shrimp (tail on)

In a heavy pan (cast iron or steel) heat 1 tbs grass fed butter, 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. One it starts looking foamy toss in your seasoned shrimp (salt and pepper).

Lets blanch some shit. In a salted boiling pot add in your peas and cut up asparagus. Cook for 2 minutes and then immediately transfer to an ice bath (bowl of ice and water). Once cooled strain and set aside.

Your shrimp are done when they are no longer translucent and nice and pink. Toss in your veggies and mascarpone cheese. Once melted toss in your spaghetti squash.

Toss and coat evenly. Salt and pepper to taste. And lastly grate some of that beautiful Pecorino Romano on top. Serve table side for a pretty presentation.

Carbonara is an Italian pasta dish from Rome, based on eggs, cheese (Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano), bacon (guanciale or pancetta), and black pepper. Spaghetti is usually used; fettuccine, rigatoni, linguine or bucatini can also be used. The pork is cooked in fat, which may be olive oil, lard, or less frequently butter. The hot pasta is combined with a mix of raw egg, cheese, and a fat (butter, olive oil, or rarely cream), away from additional direct heat to avoid coagulating the egg. The egg should create a creamy sauce, and not curdle. Guanciale is the most commonly used meat in Italy, but pancetta and local bacon are also used. Recipes differ in the use of egg: some use the whole egg, others only the yolk, some a mixture. Cream is not common in Italian recipes but is often used elsewhere. Garlic in this dish is similarly found mostly outside of Italy. Other variations on carbonara outside Italy may include peas, broccoli, mushrooms, or other vegetables. Many of these preparations have more sauce than the Italian versions. 

As with many recipes, the origins of the dish are obscure. The dish forms part of a family of dishes involving pasta with bacon, cheese, and pepper, such as spaghetti alla gricia. It’s also very similar to the south Italian pasta cacio e uova, dressed with melted lard, mixed eggs, and cheese. The name may be more recent than the dish itself. Since it’s derived from carbonaro (Italian for “charcoal burner”), some believe the dish was first made as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers. It has even been suggested that it was created as a tribute to the Carbonari (“charcoalmen”), a secret society prominent in the early, repressed stages of Italian unification. It seems more likely that it’s an urban dish from Rome, although it has nothing to do with the Roman restaurant of the same name. The dish is not present in Ada Boni’s 1930 classic La Cucina Romana and is unrecorded before the Second World War.

Puttanesca “spaghetti in the style of a prostitute” I LOVE this slutty spaghetti. It’s packed with flavor and super fast and easy to make. I have read multiple stories of how this dish got it’s name.

It all began in Naples around WWII. One version is that with the limited ingredients and easy of the dish it was easy to make between clients for a lady of the night. Another version was it’s pungent and intense smell was meant to lure men in to the brothel, and the last was that the women in the brothel would make the dish for men that were waiting to be seen.

Either way it’s a little naughty and very delicious so let’s jump right in. Now with all recipes there are 958493 ways to make it, this is my way.

Ingredients:
A handful of cherry tomatoes
5 black olives sliced
2 tbs capers (I like the kinds packed in salt; rinse before use)
2 large cloves of minced garlic
4 anchovies (expensive in the jar; this is not something to skimp on)
Red pepper flakes to taste
Flat leaf parsley
Pecorino Romano Cheese

Boil a large pot of water and add a large pinch of salt. When the water boils add pasta and cook for about 8 minutes.

In a large pan, add some extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add anchovies and break them down, once they begin to melt add sliced tomatoes, I like mine a little blistered so cook them about 5 minutes.

Add in your sliced olives, garlic, red pepper flakes, and capers. When the pasta is done move it from the water to the pan and toss everything to get it all incorporated. I like to add a ladle of the pasta water to the pan to help make the sauce.

Once everything is nice and mixed up, I like to finish it with fresh parsley, and pecorino on top. You can always add some fresh olive oil for more flavor as well.

Porchetta [por-Ketta] is a savory boneless Italian pork roast. The body of the pig is gutted, deboned, arranged with layers of stuffing, meat, fat, and skin, then rolled, spitted, and roasted over wood. It’s usually heavily salted in addition to being stuffed with garlic, rosemary, fennel, or other herbs. It has been selected by the Italian Minister of Agriculture for a list of “traditional Italian foods of cultural relevance”. Although popular across the country, it originated in Central Italy, Ariccia near Rome being the town most closely associated with it. Across Italy, it’s often sold by pitchmen out of white vans, especially during holidays and events, and served in a panino (bread roll). It’s a common street food in Lazio, served as a topping for Pizza Bianca. It’s also eaten as a meat dish in many households or as part of a picnic. 

Porchetta is 1 of 2 iconic culinary products of the Lazio region, the other being the sheep cheese Pecorino Romano. Porchetta is also common in Abruzzo, where it’s slow-roasted with rosemary, garlic, and pepper. In Umbria. it’s stuffed with the pig’s chopped entrails mixed with lard, garlic, salt, pepper, and fennel. Porchetta trevigiana from Treviso was developed in 1919 - a pig is slaughtered when 1 year old, then stuffed with salt, pepper, wild fennel, garlic, and white wine, and roasted in an oven for 7 hours at 200°C. Porchetta also is a popular dish in Venetian cuisine and Sardinian cuisine. There it is known as “porceddu” and is roasted over juniper and myrtle wood fires. 

Making a gorgeous, creamy risotto takes thirty minutes of stirring hot stock into Arborio rice a half cup at a time until it’s absorbed. It’s not a good occasion to multi-task, so if you think your attention might be diverted, wait for a better opportunity. The reward is well worth the effort.  

This delicious risotto was perfect. I roasted bite-size pieces of butternut squash until it was tender and caramelized and stirred it in at the end, along with some grated pecorino Romano cheese. The mushrooms give it flavor and texture, and you can taste the hint of Madeira wine.

I give this recipe five stars. If you’re looking for a meatless meal, this is a winner. I’m eating the leftovers this morning as I write this, loving it all over again.

Mushroom and roasted butternut squash risotto, a recipe modified from Cooking Light magazine.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (¾-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash, 1 medium size works well
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 medium size shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
  • 1/3 cup Madeira wine or dry sherry
  • 2 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine squash and 1 tablespoon oil in a bowl; toss to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned and tender, stirring after 10 minutes. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup boiling water and porcini mushrooms in a bowl and let stand 20 minutes. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined colander over a bowl. Reserve liquid. Chop mushrooms.

In a medium size saucepan, heat chicken stock. Keep warm.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sliced cremini mushrooms and sauté until liquid evaporates and mushrooms brown. Add porcini mushrooms, shallots, and garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Add rice; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add reserved soaking liquid and wine; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring constantly.

Ladle in 1 cup stock; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Continue adding stock, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next (about 26 minutes total). Stir in reserved butternut squash, grated cheese, salt, and pepper.

2

Bacon & Brussel Sprouts Salad

Ingredients
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled or chopped
  • 4 dozen brussel sprouts
  • 1 cup almonds
  • (1 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese)
Déjà Vu

Had to get some angst out before Fluff Week, hope you enjoy the full thing!


“Hey hold the door.” Amelia yelled running to the elevator quickly before it closed. When she stepped in the corners or her mouth curled into a gentle smile at the sight of the ginger haired man standing in front of her. He was wearing dark wash jeans with a white shirt and his brown leather jacket that made his shoulders and chest look extra broad. He raise this eyebrows and laughed at the site of his girlfriend sprinting frantically into the elevator. “Well hey to you too” He said pulling her in for a gentle kiss. “I was just coming to find you.”

“Mmmm were you?” She said, still smiling as their lips pulled a part.

“Yeah, I’m gonna run to the grocery store and pick up a few things. I’m cooking you a special dinner tonight.” He tucked a piece of her chocolate brown hair behind her ear as the elevator door opened.

As the stepped of the elevator Amelia raised her eyebrows and asked, “What’s the catch?”

“Why’s there have to be a catch?” He put his hand around her waist pulling her closer, stopping right before their bodies could touch. “Can’t I cook dinner for the woman I love without having an ulterior motive?” Leaning down to reach her face to kiss her, Amelia turned her head so he would only get her cheek.

“Liar I know you, and theres definitely more to this.” She said not giving in.

“Amelia just give me a kiss so I can go make you dinner.”

“Nope.” She was the best at playing the stubborn game to get her way. “Not until you tell me why.”

“Not telling.”

“You know I hate surprises Owen.”

“You’re gonna love this one.” She shot her childish grin as he leaned in at another attempt for a kiss, but she wouldn’t budge. “You are the most stubborn woman on the planet.” He walked closer to her, backing her against the wall with both of his hands against it creating a barrier. He leaned in whispering in her ear. His voice got lower with a more demanding tone. “Now kiss me or your not getting your surprise.”

Owen had a way of making her melt like putty in his hands. Just the side of his voice sometimes made her want to crawl out of her skin in excitement. Butterflies were flying in her stomach as his warm breath hit her ear. “Ugh you suck.” She said as she turned her head to meet his lips. His tongue fought to make it’s way into her mouth. She allowed it for only a moment and then pulled away, they were still at work. He leaned in trying to reconnect their lips but her finger stopped him. “Nope. No more until I get my surprise.” She wore an evil, victorious grin as she stepped away from Owen and began walking to the ER.

“You’re gonna love it! I promise.” He called after her.

She turned around shooting him a flirtatious smile. “I better.”

____________

Owen walked into the mini mart that was just around the corner from his apartment. He only had to get a few things for his surprise dinner. He planned to make Amelia one of her favorites that he cooked herder her for her birthday and other special occasions, linguini with vodka sauce. Making his way to the aisle where the pasta was he thought about how weirdly quiet it had been for a Friday night, but he shook it off and made his way to where he needed to be. He looked down at his list and mentally checked off that he had already grabbed pasta, canned tomatoes, pecorino romano cheese, he had vodka at home, all he needed was sparkling lime water.

As he was picking out which brand to buy he heard the bell on the door ring. He looked up briefly and then went back to making his decision. When he finally settle on san pellegrino, Amelia’s favorite, he heard some commotion at the from of the store. He could here some bickering and then one man say “Give me my money.” It didn’t sound like an unsatisfied customer wanting their money back, but more of a threat for the man behind the counter. Owen slowly walked up to the counter so see what was going on, the fight escalating as he got closer. A man in a black hoodie and light wash jeans was arguing with the man behind the counter. “Everything alright gentlemen?”

“Yeah everything’s fine.” The man behind the counter said nervously. “I don’t have your money, give me one more day.” He leaned in a whispered quietly hoping Owen didn’t hear.

“You know what happens when people pay late.” The man in the black hoodie reached into his belt buckle and before he could aim at the man behind the counter Owen grabbed his arm. The two men began to wrestle for the gun. The man in the black hoodie was a little taller than Owen but about the same muscular build so Owen wasn’t completely over powered. The man managed to get out of Owens grasp with the gun still in hand. He pointed it directly at Owen, as Owen slowly put his hands up. “Listen you don’t have to-“ BANG.

The bullet flew into the left side of Owens chest as he fell against the front of one of the aisles. He started gasping for air and coughing as he held onto his chest at an attempt to stop the bleeding. His white shirt was now quickly turning a crimson red. He was fighting to keep his eyes open when another shot went off and he saw the man behind the counter fall to the ground. The man in the black hoodie jumped over the counter, grabbed the cash out of the cash register, and ran out the door. Owen slowly pulled his phone out of his leather jacket pocket. His blood was forming in a puddle around him as he managed to barley type the numbers 911. It rang once and then he heard the voice “911, What’s your emergency?”

His voice was shaking, he was barley holding on but managed to huff out between breaths. “4th…street…mini…market…shooting…” his voice trailed off into coughs, gasping for a single breath. At a failed attempt to push himself up, he collapsed into his pool of blood, his eyes flickering shut.

______________

At the hospital Amelia had just finished up her spot op notes and changed into her skinny jeans and army green long sleeved shirt with black pleather shoulders. Her chocolate waves were laying just below her shoulders, soft and messy from being in a pony tail all day. She grabbed her bag and cell phone and was about to call Owen when she realized she had a voice mail. She put it up to her ear, wondering who even left voice mails now a days when you can just send a text. She smiled when she heard the sound of his voice. His voice was music to her ears, she loved the way he sounded so passionate about whatever he was saying.

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