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Belle Auguri

Family, food, travel, and celebrating la vita bella!

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My Favorite Pinterest Recipes

As anyone who has ever used Pinterest to find recipes can tell you, there are some great recipes and there are a lot of losers!  This post is dedicated to the winners.

Before LB was born, I made a special board full of recipes that we had made several times, that always turned out well, and that were easy enough I could make them while tending to the baby.  Once I went back to work, we continued to make these recipes all throughout the spring semester, only taking a break once summer started!

You see, we like to cook a variety of things (no “pizza night” for us).  So even though I made a list of about thirty recipes, it still felt like we were being super repetitive.  I did have the great idea to make a summary shopping list with the ingredients for each recipe that we don’t usually keep on hand (or that we might run out of easily like eggs).  Each week it used to take me an hour to draw up a grocery list but with this summary I could do it in five minutes.  Plus I would place a magnet on each recipe we planned to make that week, so that I wouldn’t forget (#newmombrain).  Here’s what my list looked like: summary ingredients list.

I hope you enjoy these recipes!  Next up, I’ll have to write a post dedicated to special recipes that might take longer but are totally worth it.

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Dinner Recipes

 

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Erbazzone – a spinach & mushroom pie

Last night I attempted a pasto squisito called “Erbazzone” that originated in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy (where the culinary capital Bologna also lies).  I actually first heard of the dish last week while studying Italian using my Babbel app.  Although it costs money, I’ve been loving the lessons on Babbel!  I’ve used DuoLingo for a year which is a fabulous free program, but I’ve finished all the lessons on there.  I’ve also completed all five levels of Rosetta Stone, which is super expensive and the conversations feel so outdated.  On Babbel, they talk about Facebook and lots of FOOD!

Anyway, the way the pretend people described erbazzone in the lesson made my mouth water, and I just knew I had to find a recipe for it on Pinterest.  I decided to attempt the one from Kitchen Joy that is adapted from Mario Batali’s recipe.  The plan was to follow the recipe exactly, but an hour into the recipe with a crying baby in the other room and at least another hour to go before dinner would be ready, I decided to make a few changes to make it go faster!  Instead of putting some of the pancetta, garlic, and shallots to the side, it all went into the pan.  I did blanche the spinach separately while wishing I had noticed sooner that it all needed to be blanched because I would have bought frozen spinach!  I also threw in all the Parmigiano-reggiano I had grated, because there’s no way I would ever taste the pie and think, “this doesn’t need more cheese.”

The recipe was a big hit with PB!  It took too long to try out on LB, but we’re still working on getting him to eat leafy greens anyway.  If you are looking for a (slightly) more complicated recipe than your usual supper, and you have some spare time, I would recommend trying erbazzone!  Plan for 2.5 hours start to finish so that you can take your time and enjoy the process.  There’s some down time in there too, and I would recommend you make a side to go with the pie.  But you can clean the kitchen, sew some drapes, read a good book, or write a blog post instead! 😉

Some changes I would make for next time are to use a different pie crust recipe and less expensive ingredients.  Here is my modified recipe.

Pie Crust (From A Year of Pies cookbook / Design Sponge)

  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour (replace up to 1/2 cup with cake flour)
  • 1.25 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (cold!)
  • 0.75 cup ice water
  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or a fork.
  3. Use a fork to incorporate the water, a little at a time.  Stop as soon as the dough comes together – you might not need all the water.
  4. Separate the dough into two equal parts and make two balls but try not to overwork the dough or the crust will be tough.  Flatten the balls into disks and put into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  You want them to be cold for when you roll them out or else they’ll stick.

Erbazzone

  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 2-3 slices of bacon, cut into pieces (If you omit, add 2 tablespoons oil to the pan.)
  • 1 small onion (about .5 cup), diced
  • 0.5 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 20 ounces frozen spinach (two boxes, or 2 pounds fresh spinach to be blanched)
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Start by making your pie crust.  You can work on the filling while it chills in the fridge.
  2. Heat a large skillet to medium-low with the tablespoon of oil.  Add the bacon bits and wait for the fat to render.
  3. Add the onions and cook until they turn translucent or even a little brown (5-10 minutes).  Salt and pepper the onions a bit to encourage them.
  4. While the onions cook, squeeze the water from the spinach using a colander or dishtowel.  The more you can dry it out, the better.
  5. Add the mushrooms into the pan and after another 3-4 minutes add the garlic.
  6. Mix in the spinach and let it cook for 5 minutes.  This will dry it out even more and incorporate the oil and pan flavors into the greens.
  7. Take the pan off the heat and transfer the filling to a large bowl to cool slightly.
  8. At this point, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, and roll out your dough.  There’s a lot of filling so roll it a bit larger than you would for a standard pie (about 13 inch diameter or as large as you can fit on your pan while not falling apart).  Place one piece of dough on your pan on a Silpat or parchment paper.
  9. After 5 minutes of resting, stir in the Parmesan and the eggs to your filling.  Be careful that it’s not too hot because you don’t want the eggs to cook!
  10. Dump all the filling (carefully) onto the piece of dough on your pan.  Leave an inch border all around.  Wet the edges using a bit of water, and place the second piece of dough over the top.  Press the edges together and roll them toward the center (see picture above).
  11. Cut a few holes in the top, and if you want it to look very pretty, brush the top of the pie with egg wash or a little oil.
  12. Bake the pie for 40 minutes.  Let it cool for 5-10 minutes before enjoying!

Serves 4 as a main course, 6-8 if served with sides

French Kids Eat Everything

Last month I finished reading French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon, and it was really quite interesting!  Le Billon tells the story of moving her family (with two young children) to a remote part of Brittany, France, where her husband grew up.  A lot of what she writes isn’t advice but simply stories about her experiences, the various things she tried with her girls, and the traditions of that particular region.

While I found several of her stories shocking (it was considered rude to interrupt dinner when her husband had to go to the ER for a severe allergic reaction) and the French views on breastfeeding and attachment parenting disappointing (it’s rarely done and usually frowned upon), there were a lot of really fantastic ideas to help kids develop a healthy attitude toward food.  By “healthy,” I don’t mean specifically focused on diet or nutrition.  I mean that eating should be enjoyable:

  1. Families should try to eat together, at the table without distractions, for at least one meal a day.
  2. Meals shouldn’t be rushed.  This is a social time!
  3. Variety is important.  Don’t eat the same meat/vegetable/grain more than one time each week.  Trying new foods should be exciting, not scary.
  4. Cooking is a time to be enjoyed.  Slow down and savor the art.  Set the table and even light a candle.  Put on some music.  (Le Billon recommends French artists Yann Tiersen and Francis Cabrel who I’ve been enjoying.)

My son is only 10 months old, but this book has inspired me to encourage his developing tastes before neophobia (the fear of new foods) sets in around two years old.  Right now, he eats everything!  He even enjoyed some baked oysters recently when we were at the beach.  But I realized that I need to be more adventurous.  I don’t eat a lot of seafood, and so I’ve made a special effort recently to cook more seafood at home.  I’ve started with lighter fish like tilapia and cobia, but plan to work my way up to more adventurous offerings!

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Little Bear at 7 1/2 months old.  We’re still working on eating neatly!

I’ve also been taking it slower in the kitchen.  It’s summer now and I’m not teaching, so while I still go into the office to work five days a week, I have a little more time at home.  I’ve gotten to try several new dishes and am embracing this time for “marvelous meals” (pasta squisti) as Dianne Hales writes on her blog La Bella Lingua.  Perhaps some will stick around and become part of our regular repertoire in the fall!

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