Tortellini with Yogurt, Mint & Smoked Paprika Oil

September 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have been obsessed recently with a cookbook I’ve had for a few years now but have re-dsicovered: Rozanne Gold’s Radically Simple. The techniques and processes are so basic (with very short ingredients lists) yet the results taste so sophisticated. I was looking for a pasta that veered from typical tomato-based sauces and I was super-impressed with this dish. I can’t believe something I made tastes so exotic (it is a riff off a Turkish dish).

1 pound fresh cheese or meat tortellini
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 cup plain Greek yogurt, room temperature
1/3 cup torn fresh mint leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook 8 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine 5 tbsp. of the olive oil, the smoked paprika, garlic, and a large pinch of salt. In another bowl, whish together the yogurt, 2 more tbsp. oil, salt to taste. Drain the pasta well, shake dry. Toss the pasta with the remaining 1 tbsp oil and add salt and pepper. Divide among 4 bowls. Top with the yogurt, mint, and drizzle with the smoked paprika oil.

I heated my oil ingredients up for a minute to try and draw out a little more of the garlic.

I used orecchiette instead of tortellini since I was serving this as a side dish with lamb and didn’t want the meal to get too heavy. But I bet this is even better with the stuffed pasta and I am definitely trying it that way.

She also recommends topping with some grated pecorino.

Because I served mine immediately, I did not toss the pasta with olive oil, salt and pepper and this was fine. I also served this with a spicy wine braised lamb that was the perfect accompaniment–the yogurt and mint make this a really cool pasta and a nice balance to the spicy meat.


Parrano Cheese

September 25, 2012 § 1 Comment

Like most everyone I’m sure, I have a love-hate relationship with the cheese samples at Whole Foods. My trips there always start out so innocently–running to grab some milk or ice cream celery when we are out.Even if you try to enter at the produce section, you’re assaulted by enticing treats. I typically can’t resist whatever I try so I go home with some new finds–like Kenny’s Farm House Tomato Basil Cheddar. My last visit ended with a nice wedge of Paranno cheese and I have been loving it.

Parrano is a cow’s milk Dutch Gouda cheese. It has a semi-firm texture like cheddar but the taste is much milder with nutty notes like Parmesan and is salty and maybe even a little smokey or sweet? Mostly I can just eat this plain but it’s an easy topper for crackers and because it melts so well, I even added it to my eggs with some bacon as well. You really can’t go wrong.

And speaking of bacon…I don’t want to create any chaos here but GET YOUR FILL NOW before the bacon shortage hits!



Sunday Night Supper: A Family Feast In Pictures

September 24, 2012 § 1 Comment

Last night, my fiance and I were treated to a lavish Sunday night supper at his parent’s home. Called out of the the blue and for no other reason than to catch up and watch some football, it’s easy to see how it’s the little moments and spontaneous get-togethers that knit a family. So after a glorious hike at Radnor Lake (if you haven’t been, you must. Like now. Stop reading. Get in your car) we headed over to be spoiled and stuffed.

Appetizer Spread


I wish I could capture the smell of these croissants baking

I’d die for anything with this much cheese

Lime juice over seared Sea Bass

Patiently waiting

Cilantro Mango Salsa

Oh they’re done. So buttery, so flaky!

They look so harmless now

If you can pull your tongue in and imagine this, they tasted even better than they look

Tell me this fish does not look Bon Appètit magazine-picture-perfect


Quite an upgrade from the square bamboo-esque plates seen in every other picture on this blog.

Le chef de cuisine

Why did there have to be mini pecan pies??


General is rewarded.







Spaghetti Squash

September 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Kindled by my City House experience, I ran out the very next day to purchase, cook and consume my very own spaghetti squash. It was eye-opening—who knew a vegetable could so utterly transform with just a little heat? I decided to bake mine because even though the cook time was longer than microwaving, most of the time was hands-off.

This is what your squash will look like

Preheat your oven to 375° while you take some time hacking this thing open.

Cut lengthwise. Pierce the squash with a knife and pop in the microwave for a minute to soften the squash before you cut.

Once you scoop out the flesh and seeds inside, brush with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for an hour at 375°

While that’s baking, why not separate some of the squash seeds and sautee with salt and pepper in a little bit of butter?

I personally prefer pumpkin seeds but these will certainly suffice as a salty crunchy snack while the real deal is still going in the oven

Now this is the really cool part. After about 50 minutes to an hour, the flesh will be very tender to the touch and fall away easily from the skin. When you rake your fork down it literally shreds it into perfect spaghetti-like strings!


If you are cooking for one, this squash yields a lot of “spaghetti”. Like dinner and lunch and then dinner and lunch again. So you may want to mix-up the way you serve it.

Tossed with garlic, olive oil, cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese

Now your mouth knows this is not real pasta, the texture is tough and the taste is nutty and sweet. That doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable with traditional spaghetti accompaniments but I preferred the Moroccan spices inspired by Smitten Kitchen.

Tossed with garlic, cumin, salt and cayenne browned in butter and tossed with fresh chopped cilantro.




City House, Nashville

September 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

I have a bucket list item to cross off: City House Sunday Night Supper. It was a wonderful place to bring our out-of-town guests since the building itself is gorgeous and rustic (much larger than it appears on the outside), has a really cool atmosphere (complete with hipster servers, eclectic music mix and attractive guests) and an amazing ever-changing menu (which includes an entire dedicated “pork snacks” section). I love the shared plates style so you can sample as much of this yummy, creative cuisine as possible.

Popcorn Big Hoss Dry Rub, Belly Butter

The popcorn was a quick and tasty way to whet our appetite. Rich and salty… methinks we were onto something with our gourmet toppings here.

Octopus, Peppers, Chilies, Sausage, Garlic, Oregano, White Wine, Bread

I am normally a huge octopus fan–the meaty texture, the smoky taste. But I am more accustomed to lighter Greek/Mediterranean preparations since I found this pairing with the sausage a little too salty.

Milk Braised Butt & Biscuits, Black Pepper

This. Pork. Butt. Is. Delicious. I think this was my favorite bite all night. The meat was perfectly tender and succulent and the biscuit was buttery and a pleasant surprise accompaniment.

Spaghetti Squash, Fontina Fonduta, Bread Crumbs, Lemon, Parsley

I was so impressed by this spaghetti squash that I ran out and bought one the next day and cooked it. I’m not kidding, I’ll document it here. This pairing was better than anything I made though since there was melted cheese all over but it was kept bright by the lemon and parsley.

Pizza, Sausage, Ricotta, Garlic, Oregano, Parm, Chilies

This pizza had my two most favoritest components: extra thin, crispy crust and ricotta cheese. I could’ve eaten the whole thing myself.

Pork Meatballs, Tomato Ragu, Grana Padano, Focaccia

Our waiter informed us that the pork meatballs are actually included on the menu every Sunday. They are popular for a reason–super soft with an acidic perfect tomato sauce. I only wished I had more bread and sauce to mop up!

Wine on the River

September 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

When I found out that Wine on the River would fall on the same weekend my best friend was set to visit, I felt like the stars were aligning. What could be better than sipping all different wines outside taking in gorgeous views of Nashville with someone you’ve known since (practically) birth? Not much. But you definitely did not need out-of-town guests as an excuse to take advantage of this event. Unsurprisingly, tickets sold out and the bridge was packed. The goal is simple: sample wines and spirits from different regions around the world–plus there’s fun music and tasty eats. I will definitely have to make this a new annual tradition in Nashville.



Something new I hadn’t seen before, Darcie Kent Wine Kegs.

Tennessee’s Own

I was this close to trying the Pumpkin Spice Moonshine but once I took a whiff, I chickened out. I guess I’ll have to take a trip to Corsair Distillery to redeem myself.

The music started out classical and by the time this thing was ending it was a full blown dance party to Stevie Wonder




Grilling something. Despite just coming from lunch, I was tempted to try whatever they were grilling up.

Spinach and Quinoa Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese and Diced Dates

September 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

What to do with spinach and quinoa that you are bored with and don’t want to eat? You add blue cheese, bacon and sweet dates of course! Now, you and I both know that blue cheese and bacon do not a healthy meal make so I really wasn’t even planning on sharing this. So I’m telling you this as a warning: don’t do what I did kiddos. I remember this day exactly, I had already had pancakes for breakfast so I guess it was really a curse-you-diet kind of day…

First, get a big pot of water going for the quinoa and cook per instructions. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes once done.

I like to add 1/2 tsp tumeric to my quinoa. This adds a little flavor and also makes it this nice, bright color.

Then sautee the spinach. Harmless so far.

I would do a very hearty handful, this stuff always disappears when cooking.

Oh, but then here comes the bacon.

I oven bake my bacon at 375° for about 12-15 minutes. Break apart into smaller pieces.

And it’s all over with the blue cheese…

Crumble however much you like. There are no measurements and no judgements here.

I kept the dressing very simple: tbsp balsamic vinegar, tbsp olive oil, tsp honey, tsp dijon mustard

This was the right ratio but don’t feel the need to use all of it since you don’t want to mask the taste of the ingredients!

And then mix it all together and toss in some sugary, sweet diced dates, just for the heck of it.

How can something so wrong taste so right?

Now don’t say you got it from me–can’t have my name associated with so decadently transforming what could be a healthy lunch.

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