Spaghetti Puttanesca — the “Bad Girl’s” Pasta

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July 24,2015 I posted pasta puttanesca — the summer version — you don’t  cook the sauce, just toss the ingredients.  Here’s the winter version which is just as delicious and easy, easy easy!!!  I used Rachael Ray’s recipe but honestly there’s a million puttanesca recipes online.  Just google it.

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The Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish.    Mimi:  What can I say?  When I’m feeling lazy (that’s my version of being a “bad girl”), this is a go to meal.  Other than using Kalamata olives, I followed Rachael’s recipe to the letter.  Some people don’t serve this with grated cheese because anchovies and cheese don’t go together.  I kind of like the cheese.  Sue:  In our family, serving the cheese would be a big no no!  Traditional Italians do not put cheese on this pasta.  When I make it I leave the capers out  — no one in our family likes capers.  Cheese? … capers? … like I always say:  “to each his own”.  

Mimi Makes a “Better Bean Salad”

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It’s like Christmas morning for me every time I see the new issue of Bon Appétit Magazine in my mail box.  I immediately set myself to finding sides to jazz up mid-week meals.  This salad is in the August 2015 issue, click here to try it yourself:  Better Bean Salad.

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The Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish.  OK, so here’s what I had to eliminate or substitute in this recipe:  kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass stalk, a variety of beans.  I eliminated the kaffir lime leaves and used lemon grass paste and just green beans.  This was still a diva-licious dish.  This dressing is so flavorful, I’m going to make it as a “relish” for fish, chicken and pork in the future.  Sue:  The string beans were obviously blanched perfectly … just look at that color.  How can you go wrong with peanuts, ginger and lime, what flavor!! This is perfect for our Asian salmon, but maybe not for mid-week … this isn’t a salad you just throw together.

 

Mimi’s Mid-Week Attempt at Creativity

My dinners were getting a little “ho-hum” so, I scoured months of Bon Appétit and Food & Wine magazines to introduce a little variety.  I found this salad in Bon Appétit July 2014 — a nice refreshing summer blend.  (Go here for the recipe:  Summer Salad)

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Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish.  If you checked out the recipe in Bon Appétit you will notice mine looks absolutely nothing like theirs.  I couldn’t find fava beans.  We love Great Northern White Beans and I substituted them.  Pea shoots are impossible to find within 100 miles of Buck Hill Falls!  Finally, surprising to me, Wegmans had not a single head of Bibb lettuce.  Still a great salad!!!  Sue:  Snow peas or blanched sugar snap peas would also work great in this dish.  I love them because they taste great cold and have nice crunch.  I would probably substitute cannellini beans because I always have them in my pantry.  Wegmans didn’t have Bibb lettuce?  That’s insane, I can’t believe it.

 

I rarely make scallops;  I don’t really like them.  In an adventurous mood, I decided to give this dish a try.  Click here for the recipe in Food & Wine Magazine:  Cilantro Scallops.

 

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final_300dpiDivas “dish” on Mimi’s dish.  When you marinate the scallops, don’t leave them in the marinade more than 15 minutes — it’s not a ceviche, you grill these!  We probably could have used a hotter flame to develop a nice golden brown crust on them.  I thought it would be good to serve the scallops on tortillas  that were  “crisped up” under the broiler.  After squeezing the lime juice on the scallops, just pile 1/2 of a scallop and some avocado on a wedge of the tortilla and create one delectable bite!  Sue:  I only like scallops pan seared.  It’s hard to get them just right on the grill … unless, of course,  you have a barbecue addiction like Bobby Flay!

Mimi Experiments with Dandelion Greens


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We eat salad almost every night so I am always searching for something a little different to serve.  As always, my devotion to Bon Appétit Magazine paid off with a bitter greens salad.  Click here for the recipe to try it yourself Bitter Greens Salad.

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The Divas “dish” on Mimi’s dish.  For real, how bad can any salad be that has pancetta, cheese and corn in it?  I would have raved about this but for the greens — two words on dandelion greens:  never again!  This was my first attempt at working with them and we found them tough, unpleasant, unappetizing (maybe sautéed they are better).  I am opting for the arugula the next time I make this.  Sue:  I have never had dandelion leaves in salad, only in soup.  True story:  my husband’s grandfather, who was from Naples, Italy, would pull his truck to the side of the road when dandelions were blooming and pick all of the leaves and bring them home to Mimi (my husband’s grandmother!) to add to her soups.  Diva-licious!!!

Need a Break? Make Mimi’s Pasta Puttanesca

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A favorite in our house is:  pasta puttanesca.  But maybe not in the summer when you are craving a cold or room temperature dish?   Make the puttanesca but don’t cook it.  Diva-licious!

Shopping List
6 on the vine tomatoes
1  80z jar pitted kalamata olives
1  8 oz jar capers
1 tin flat anchovies
Extra virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb pasta
Fresh basil

Preparation

  • Rinse, dry and coarsely chop tomatoes, place in large bowl
  • Cut in half lengthwise 1/2 cup kalamata olives, add to tomatoes
  • Rinse and drain 1/4 cup capers, add to tomatoes
  • Coarsely chop 3 anchovies, add to tomatoes
  • Add 1/3 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Add 1 – 1  1/2 tsp crush red pepper flakes
  • With a hand-held potato masher, mash all of the ingredients together, but leave it a little “chunky”.  Cover with plastic, do not refrigerate.
  • When you are ready to eat, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  Drain, add to tomato mixture and thoroughly combine.
  • Chiffonade about a cup of fresh basil leaves and gently stir into pasta before serving.

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A Diva “dishes”.  Chiffonade means cut in thin strips.  Don’t make my mistake of buying olives with pits … what a pain in the neck slicing them!  Add the anchovies to taste.  I used 6 filets … we love them.  Experiment, see what you like.  I used 1  1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes — again, personal preference, we like spicy food!  Use any pasta you prefer.   This dish I used casarecce and have also tried buccatini.  The thicker pastas go better with this recipe.  Let this sit for up to 4 hours and allow the flavors to meld and emerge.  I usually recommend a sangiovese with pasta.  But, this dish is so savory I wanted a little balance and chose Two Angels Cabernet Sauvignon 2010.   My experience of this wine was dark fruit and chocolate. I felt it really complemented the pasta.

Mimi’s Easy pre-weekend Dinner

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We have a fun-filled weekend ahead in Buck Hill Falls, the Men’s Member Guest Golf Tournament.  My husband and stepson (two-time champions) play together  and, a special treat for me this year, my daughter-in-law will be visiting as well!  I plan on cooking up a storm (and, of course, posting everything.)  So, I decided to take it a little easy and made one of our sort of fancy…  really easy … favorite dinners on Wednesday night: niçoise salad with grilled tuna for my husband and grilled salmon for me.

 

I love preparing  this meal you can do a lot of the work ahead of time and just assemble everything when you are ready to eat.  Lots of time to relax!

Preparation:

At any time during the day:

  • Boil six small potatoes
  • Hard boil and peel two eggs
  • Blanch 2 handfuls of green beans
  • Cover everything separately with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve

When you are ready to eat dinner:

  • Whisk together 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt
  • Toss with rinsed and thoroughly spun dry baby greens

On a medium hot well oiled grill pan:

  • Grill salmon for about 5 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other
  • Quick grill tuna about 2 minutes on each side

Make a bed of lettuce on each plate, place the fish in the center and assemble potatoes, green beans, hard-boiled eggs and a few oil cured black olives around it.

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The Diva “dishes”:

  • If you happen to have small new potatoes in various colors it makes a nice presentation.  Boil them whole and, when cooled, cut them in half lengthwise.
  • Here’s how to perfectly hard boil eggs.  Cover the eggs with water in the saucepan.  Bring the water to a full boil.  Remove from the heat and cover with a lid.  Allow to stand for 12 minutes.  Plunge the eggs into a bath of iced water for a few minutes.   Voila! Perfectly cooked eggs.
  • When you oil the grill pan, use canola oil it’s tasteless and doesn’t smoke up the house.
  • Two minutes on each side makes very rare tuna.  You can watch the tuna as it cooks and bring it to the temperature you prefer.
  • Use any kind of olives that you like.

Low Cal for Swimsuit Season

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Follow the Diva to our website to get swimsuit ready!

http://www.mimiandsue.com/What-to-Eat-Wednesday-05072014.html

I’m on a salmon kick lately (and it’s my husband’s favorite fish. He doesn’t care if he has it for lunch and then I make it for dinner.)  So here’s two incredibly easy dishes for your “What to Eat Wednesday” celebrations.

Herbed Salmon 

or

Salmon with Herbs and Pistachios

and a Diva Dishes.   Lord knows with all the cheese and butter I eat I should think about “swimsuit ready”.  So, these recipes are really timely Sue, especially since I made my salmon with white wine and butter and there’s 3 heaping tablespoons of creme fraiche in those mashed peas!  WARNING:   my version is not low call for swimsuit season!

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Salmon with Mashed Peas and Tarragon Butter