Monday, August 23, 2010

Birthday presents!

Hello my pretty pretty! I bought myself the very lovely food processor pictured here with my birthday money. I am so very excited. I can't wait to use this! It is the 7 cup model, which will help me immensely with pasta dough prep.

I am all about the traditional pasta method of cracking eggs into the well of a mound of flour, but when you make as much pasta as I do, this gets very time consuming. This will make the process much simpler and not as messy.

I am so very excited about my upcoming classes. September is pasta month. Again, we will be making fresh crab ravioli with a creamy shallot sauce, and farfalle (bowtie) pasta with a tomato vodka sauce. To die for! I am opening up Friday nights in September for my pasta classes, but if you want a Saturday lunch spot I do have one available!

The October soup classes are going to be great too. I also purchased a Silpat baking mat especially for this series of classes. To go along with the creamy tomato soup, we are making parmesan crisps, which will look absolutely lovely floating on the surface of the soup, and so easy to make. The Silpat is a genius non-stick surface, which will be fantastic for my crisps. Aaaahhhh I cannot wait for cooler fall weather! I still have Saturday, October 30 available, which would be 10:30 am till oh perhaps 12:30. First come first served!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Oppa bay go may

When I was a tiny small child, I must have really loved the "Happy Birthday" song, because even though I was a toddler with an extremely limited vocabulary, I made up my own words to the song.

"Oppa bay go may..." I sang at a birthday party, and it immediately became family lore.

I will celebrate my birthday this Saturday (it's really on Sunday though). It will be tons of fun, but weird for a very silly reason for me.

I will not be cooking a dang thing.

We are getting Hog Heaven BBQ. If you have never had it and you are a Nashville resident for shame!!! They do an amazing pulled turkey with their white mystery sauce. The sauce is positively divine. It has a horseradish kick, and I love me some horseradish. And, if there's any sauce left over (hahahhahhahaha does anyone have a straw?) it is wonderful on fish, pork, anything really.

Now, for the normal person, this wouldn't be a big deal, but I loooooooooove cooking, so the thought of not using my cooking muscles, and having ANOTHER PERSON'S FOOD IN MY HOUSE is just plain weird. But, at least the food is rather awesome.

Oppa bay go may y'all!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Have I mentioned how I do not like being in the kitchen in the summer? With the grill just outside on the patio, it just makes so much more sense to use it. A lot of Italian cooking is by feel, which is completely up my alley. As long as you know your seasoning ratios, it is a snap to create something wonderful in no time.

I love going to my local Farmer's Market with absolutely no meal plan in mind, and then create on based on the produce I find from my favorite farmers.

The easiest way to cook with the least amount of clean up is to make tin foil packages. All you need to do is chop up your veggies into roughly chopped pieces. You do not want to make them too small, because they may cook too fast and become mushy. I have always preferred my vegetables to be more on the al dente side. Place the chopped vegetables on good-sized piece of heavy duty tin foil. Here's the fun part. Go wild with your spices! Have a clove of garlic? Chop it up and throw it in there. As for oil or fat, a little goes a long way, as most vegetables have a decent water content in the first place. I would use no more than a tablespoon of oil or butter. I always zip the package up with a splash of either balsamic or white wine vinegar as well...perhaps a teaspoon or two. Add your salt and pepper to taste, but remember that a little goes a long way.

Seal up your package well, and throw it on your medium-preheated grill. After 10 or so minutes, you should hear it sizzling. It's ready! Carefully remove the package to platter, and carefully open the package. It should smell like heaven.

Now, if you want, you can throw a fillet or two of fish or chicken on top of the package before grilling...just be sure that the protein is on the thin side, so you are sure it is fully cooked. Have fun!

I'm off to make one of these awesome looking hats right now.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fall Class Scheduling!

With fall fast approaching, it will soon be time to begin cooking classes! I have already gone through my waiting list, so my schedule is looking pretty darn good. I decided to do my fresh pasta class again in September since it proved to be very popular and delicious. The September menu is as follows:

Caprese skewers
Fresh Farfalle pasta with tomato vodka sauce
Fresh Crab Ravioli with creamy shallot sauce
Panna Cotta

I do still have one September date available, so the first four happy, hungry people to send me a message will get those slots. The class would be on Saturday, September 25, starting at 10:30 and ending around 12:30 or whenever. I never push people out of my home when they are enjoying a leisurely lunch!

I also have one date still available in October. That month will be all about delicious soups, perfect for the colder months. I cannot believe I am talking about soup and colder months, especially when my air conditioner is doing a valiant job trying to keep me cool. The menu for October is as follows:

Classic Minestrone
Canederli in brodo (sausage spiked soup dumplings)
Creamy tomato with Parmesan crisps
Pizzelle with mascarpone and nutella

The available October date is Saturday, October 30 from 10:30 till 12:30 or whenever. Again, the first four to send me a message will get those available slots.

You will come away from the class with a full brain and belly, recipes in a handy dandy "Cucina di Tina folder" and great memories!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Dinner Party!

I had two of my besties over last Friday, to celebrate the marriage of one of them and to celebrate the awesomeness of the other. I asked my friend what she would like me to cook, and she told me her beloved liked meat and cheese. Cannelloni immediately popped into my mind, so that's what I made!

Here's the finished product above. Y'all - this was certainly not the easiest thing I have made, but it might be one of the yummiest. First, I made the pasta sheets fresh, by hand, using 00 Flour, eggs and lots of elbow grease. The sauces were home made too. Besciamella went on the bottom, and a fresh tomato sauce went on the top. The meat mixture was beef, cooked ham, ricotta cheese and one egg. Parmesan cheese and mozzarella were thrown on top in copious amounts for good measure. Doesn't it look just beautiful? I was so pleased with how it came out, and my guests devoured it. I made two pans, and it was a good thing I did, because we had two left over...perfect for lunch the next day!

I also served my roasted garlic-garlic bread with the cannelloni, and a green salad. If you try my garlic bread, you will never buy that garlic dust in a can again. You take a garlic bulb, place it on a piece of tin foil, and drizzle with olive oil. Place the tin foil package in the oven on 350 for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the garlic bulb. When you can smell the garlic, it is done! Take it out of the oven to cool. Grab a stick of butter, and leave it out so that it can soften. Once the garlic is cool, take a sharp knife and lop off the top of the bulb. You should be able to squeeze the garlic cloves into a bowl. Combine with the butter, and that is your spread! After I spread the mixture on the bread, I sprinkled oregano on the loaves. So easy and flavorful!