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Archive for the 'Food' Category

To Lasagna w/ Love

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My love affair w/ lasagna goes back to my childhood. My parents would make spinach noodles for lasagna that would stretch across the kitchen. My mom made her lasagna w/ these sheets of noodles, Bolognaise sauce, and bechamel sauce. 

The baking pan is the same one my mom used, however, I took a different, and easier path in making my lasagna, as you will see in my recipe. Also, rather than par boil the noodles, I used Ina Garten’s method of softening the noodles. She would put the dry lasagna noodles in a baking dish, and submerge them in the hottest water you can get out of the tap for 20 minutes.

Believe it or not, this was my first attempt at making lasagna, and I have to admit the results not only looked good, but tasted fantastic too! Like Garfield, I can’t resist a good pan of lasagna!!

 Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 pound box lasagna noodles (use what you need, depending on the size of your baking pan)

1 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes

2 pounds Italian sausage

2 pounds ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/3 pound fresh baby spinach leaves

1 medium yellow onion – medium dice

4 cloves garlic – pressed

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

salt and pepper

Procedure:

1) Soak noodles using Ina Garten’s method noted above.

2) Make tomato sauce w/ San Marzano tomatoes, 1 tbsp. of the olive oil, onion, garlic, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes. Salt to taste.

3) Brown the Italian sausage in the remaining tbsp. of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. 

4) Get all ingredients lined up in the order of layering, prior to assembling your lasagna. Reserve the parmesan cheese for the final step of baking.

5) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  

6) In a deep 8 x 11 inch baking pan, start assembling your lasagna (keep in mind the amount of ingredients you have will need to evenly cover 3 layers, and you’ll need a bit of the tomato sauce for the top and bottom): spread a small amount of the tomato sauce in the bottom of your baking pan, then add a layer of noodles, a layer of sauce, a layer of sausage, a layer of spinach leaves, then dab on a layer of ricotta. Repeat this process (noodles, tomato sauce, sausage, spinach leaves, ricotta) for the next 2 layers. Top the lasagna w/ the final layer of noodles and the remaining tomato sauce. Wrap pan tightly w/ aluminum foil.

7) Place lasagna on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 40 minutes, rotating pan front to back after 20 minutes for a more even bake. 

8) After 40 minutes, remove foil, evenly sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the lasagna, and continue baking, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. 

9) Remove lasagna from the oven, and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

 

Enjoy a taste of Italy! Buon appetito!! 

Bruno

Christmas 2023

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This was the best Christmas I’ve had in years! All the decorations at Paula’s house made the atmosphere very festive and cheery. The food was delicious too. Thank you so much Paula for such a memorable evening!!

Happy, healthy 2024!!

Bruno

Roasted Chicken Infused w/ Roasted Garlic, Basil and Tarragon

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Yep, another roasted chicken recipe! I was deprived of a working oven for almost a year, so I’m making up for lost time by using my new oven to cook some of my favorite eats, and roasted chicken is one of them.

This dish is an adaptation from one of my mom’s recipes, poulet a l’estragon. In her recipe she used a compound butter w/ tarragon, shallots, lemon zest/juice. Rather than using a compound butter, I roasted 1 1/2 heads of garlic, squeezed out the cloves, then made a paste w/ chopped basil and tarragon, salt and pepper. I then rubbed the paste under the chicken skin, and air dried it, uncovered, in the fridge for 4 1/2 hours. The chicken was roasted at 425 degrees F for 50 minutes, on bed of what I call purple potatoes, which are officially Dutch Blue potatoes.

The chicken turned out beautifully and tastes really good! Since tomatoes are at their peak right now, I made a tomato salad w/ fresh corn, red onion, some basil and tarragon leaves, and a mustardy vinaigrette.

I’ll definitely be making this meal again!!

Bon Appetit!

Bruno

 

Jamaican Jerk Chicken – Version #2

Roasted w/ baby purple potatoes; and red cabbage salad w/ granny smith apples, shallots, and tarragon vinaigrette. I like this version more than version #1. The potatoes get deliciously flavored by the chicken drippings, and the shallots in the cabbage salad are milder than the white onion I used in the first version. The rest of the recipe is the same. Some of the benefits of using a vinaigrette rather than a creamy salad dressing are: it’s lighter on hot summer days, the acidity keeps the apples from browning, and it softens the cabbage. In fact, the salad tasted even better after a few days in the fridge!

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cabbage salad

Cheers…

Bruno

Christmas Dinner 2022

Pork tenderloin stuffed w/ Armagnac-soaked prunes and apricots, and sauteed crimini mushrooms; pan roasted w/ butternut squash and Granny Smith apples. Served w/ pan roasted baby potatoes, and merlot sauce w/ Italian black summer truffles.

Christmas dinner 2022

Happy, healthy 2023!!
Bruno

Pork Rojo

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To satisfy my craving for pork with peppers and onions

Pork Rojo

Rojo sauce ingredients:

2 New Mexico chiles (rehydrated)

1 chipotle chile (rehydrated)

2 Fresno chiles (fresh)

4 cloves garlic (pressed)

1/4 cup small basil leaves (Thai and Genovese)

3/4 tablespoon dried oregano

3 Roma tomatoes (diced)

Procedure:

Puree’ all ingredients in food processor until smooth.

Pork Rojo ingredients:

2 pork tenderloins (approx. 2 1/2 pounds total weight)

4 bell peppers (3 orange, 1 red)

1 large yellow onion

10 ounces crimini mushrooms

Procedure:

1) Julienne the onion and bell peppers.

2) Slice the mushrooms.

3) Trim the tenderloins; slice each tenderloin in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise into large pieces.

4) In a large frying pan, brown pork pieces on all sides, then place in a bowl and spoon on some rojo sauce until all pork pieces are lightly coated. (Save remaining sauce for other uses)

5) Sauté the mushrooms, peppers and onions until mushrooms release their juices and onions start becoming translucent.

6) Return pork to the pan and simmer everything until liquid reduces by half (approx. 15 minutes).

7) Serve over brown rice.

Yield: Approx. 4 to 6 servings (depending on your hunger level)

 

Happy cooking!

Bruno

Bye Bye Basil

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There was a frost warning here last night, so I figured it was best to pick some basil leaves just in case. I picked what I needed yesterday for my dinner pizza, and what was left over I chopped up to put in some mango salsa. The oregano was harvested today to be dried for upcoming recipes this fall and winter. 

It was good year for basil. I was able to make 3 medium jars of pesto, and a bowl of pistou in addition to picking some leaves occasionally for various dished I needed it for. 

The zinnias and other flowers loved the wet summer we had here in St. Louis. I love it that they’re continuing to bloom and providing some nice color to the browning scenery in my yard.

That’s it for now. I hope your gardens were bountiful too this year. 

Cheers!

Bruno

Mushroom Hunting in the Dordogne Region of France

My brother and sister-in-law went mushroom hunting in the forest near their home and found some treasure! Here are a few photos of their outing:

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Happy Hunting…

Bruno

Jamaican Jerk Chicken; Jasmine Rice w/ Lime; Red Cabbage Slaw w/ Green Apple, Onion, Pine Nuts and Mustardy Vinaigrette

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When I’m running errands around town, I’ll occasionally drive by a Jamaican BBQ place called Mi Hungry, but I’ve yet to try their food. One thing for sure is it has made me crave some jerk chicken. To satisfy that craving, my most recent cooking project was, you guessed it, delicious, aromatic, roasted jerk chicken! After removing the backbone and flattening out the chicken, I rubbed jerk seasoning under the skin, then let it air dry, uncovered, in the fridge for 5 hours for a crispier skin. 45 minutes in a 425-degree Fahrenheit oven, and my bird was ready! Served w/ jasmine rice enhanced w/ some lime juice/zest, and a cooling red cabbage slaw … it was heaven on earth!!

One of these days, I’ll travel to Jamaica for the real deal. Until then, this will have to suffice.

Bon Appetit!

Bruno

P.S. – A Cotes du Rhone blanc was a nice pairing for this meal.

Roasted Basque Chicken

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Every week during this pandemic, I have been doing a cooking project to feed my belly w/ good eats. Lately, because of the frigid weather I’ve been craving richer, heavier meals (think creamy pasta). The last few days have been spring-like, so my cravings have turned to lighter fare. One of my favorite ways to find new recipes is to look at images on the internet of what I’m craving, and if the image is mouth-watering, hopefully I’ll find a link to the recipe. Here’s a link to the original recipe by Gemma: Basque Roast Chicken (Chicken Basque Style Recipe) | Caribbean Green Living.

My add-ons, substitutions and omissions: I did not use the Noubess seasoning; substituted the whole chicken w/ 3 1/2 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs; used 6 Roma tomatoes (quartered), instead of the canned tomatoes; only used 6 cloves of garlic (pressed); and added 2 large carrots (sliced), and 3 jalapenos (quartered lengthwise and sliced). Total cooking time was 57 minutes. I loosely tented the chicken w/ foil after 30 minutes (removing the foil for the last 15 minutes) and turned on the broiler for the final 2 minutes. It was delicious served over fragrant jasmine rice.

Happy cooking!

Bruno