Making Minestrone with Nonni Laura (Video)

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Lunch at Nonni Laura’s

I’m a life long Italo-phile so it’s a real bonus that my hubby happens to have an Italian Nonni who’s still cooking up a storm at 93. Nonni Laura and I have always connected around our interest in food and cooking, she often calls to share recipes and always comes to every family event with jars of sugo (or polpette, or minestone or risotto or sherry wine cake….) for all of us, as well as platters piled with cookies.

On a recent afternoon, my husband spent the afternoon making minestrone soup with her and they were nice enough to capture it all on video, so not only do you get to meet the one and only Nonni Laura, but now you too can make minestrone like a true Italian grandma.

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Soup for Supper: Weeknight Seafood Chowder

Our recipe for “Quick dinner: Fantastic seafood chowder” (San Jose Mercury News)

This seafood chowder is really pretty quick to make and definitely feels like a little bit of luxury for weeknight dinner. Love that you can use any mix of seafood that you choose (fish, shrimp, clams whatever!). In thinking about this recipe our main goal was to avoid the clump factor that you can sometimes get with some of the traditional chowder recipes that call for a flour-based roux mixture to thicken them. So, this recipe leaves out the roux altogether and results in a chowder that lands on the more brothy side of things (which I personally don’t mind). It’s brothy but it does feel substantial if you keep the pieces fish and potatoes chunky and you’re generous with the amount of seafood that you add. But if you happen to be a chowder fan (like my dad for one) who prefers a texture with a bit more body, you can try this quick trick:  just mash some of the potatoes into the soup once they’re tender.

I absolutely love this with a hunk of good, sourdough bread and a tossed salad — glass of white wine or a beer wouldn’t hurt either 😉 ! Click here for our recipe in the San Jose Mercury News’ “Fast & Furious Weeknight Cooking” column.

Thai Turmeric Chicken

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Since it is still grilling weather in San Francisco, we thought this would be a great recipe to sneak in before the rains are (hopefully) upon us.  This chicken can also be baked in the oven if you do not want to grill it (or if the weather doesn’t hold up).  You can find out more at the The Mercury News – where this recipe was first featured this past summer. Continue reading

Comfort Food Cravings: Nonni’s Quick Chicken Parm

Chicken Parm

Yeah, Chicken Parm!

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Nonni Laura in the Kitchen

In my last blog post, I introduced you to the one and only Nonni Laura who showed you (via this video) how to make a humongous pot of minestrone, Italian grandma-style. Yum yum!

I wanted to share another of our very favorite Nonni recipes: this time ooey, gooey chicken parmesan, a true Italian-American classic…. and a meal near the top of my kids’ all time “most requested” list. It’s pretty hard not to love that magical combination of rich tomato sauce, melty cheese, herbed breadcrumbs and juicy chicken.

This particular version of chicken parmesan is mostly Nonni’s recipe, but with a few added tweaks and shortcuts by me to make it a bit more doable for busy weeknights.   [The recipe recently appeared in the “Fast and Furious Weeknight Cooking” column for the San Jose Mercury News.]

Hope you’ll give it a try…BTW the leftovers make killer sandwiches!

Get the recipe for Nonni’s Quick Chicken Parm.

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Nonni hugs are the best!


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Easy Weeknight Cooking: Asian Fish Parcels

asian-fish-parcels_blog-2This super easy recipe is one that our kids can make by themselves in the kitchen.  And easy in this case, doesn’t mean lacking in taste at all.  It’s the perfect combination of French technique (“en papillote) and Asian ingredients.  It’s kind of an origami project for the kids to wrap up the fish in foil or parchment.  The drama of opening the packets table-side always impresses everyone.  You can omit the chile paste if you want to, to make the dish more palatable to little taste buds.  Happy weekend!

Check out the recipe on San Jose’s Mercury’s Quick Dinner Weeknight Cooking section……

Sweet Treat: Souvla’s Greek Frozen Yogurt with Baklava Crumbles

Souvla Frozen Yogurt

Souvla’s frozen Greek yogurt with baklava crumbles is fun twist on an ice cream sundae.

After a very foggy summer in SF, it’s finally feeling like summer and I also finally got around to trying the signature dessert at the new-ish Greek rotisserie lunch spot Souvla in Hayes Valley. This sweet treat is a winner all the way — from concept down to the Greek coffee shop paper cups they serve it in — velvety, tangy frozen yogurt (Greek yogurt of course) drizzled with a touch of honey syrup and baklava crumbles. So many things to like all in one cup! And yes…. Souvla’s rotisserie situation did look pretty amazing so next time you know I’ll be checking out the spit-fired meats, veggies and house-made spreads!

Don’t you think this would be a fun & easy dessert to re-create at home using store-bought baklava and fro-yo? Not to mention a good excuse to drag out the ice cream maker and experiment with homemade frozen yogurt. Unlike a classic ice cream which requires making a custard (pans, thermometers, multiple steps and a good amount of precision), making frozen yogurt is really as simple as combining 5 parts yogurt with 1 part sugar (the sugar adds sweetness and also keeps the yogurt soft and scoop-able rather than icy), a pinch of salt and add-ins (if you like). Make sure everything is well chilled then dump it all in the ice cream maker and let it churn away. Very doable and an excellent project for kids to try.

Here’s  a basic frozen yogurt recipe from Serious Eats and a slightly more involved one from America’s Test Kitchen (via the Splendid Table podcast).

Fast & Furious Weeknight Cooking: Simran’s Chimichurri Black Beans

chimichurri-beans

These brothy, flavorful chimichurri beans are so versatile — a tasty base for soups and stews; a hearty sidedish; or, of course, a filling for tacos, quesadillas, tortas and yes… nachos! Simran developed this recipe after enjoying a similar dish when she was in Belize and it’s our latest article for our “Fast & Furious Weeknight Cooking” series for the San Jose Mercury News. Read the article and get the recipe right here. Continue reading