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Ricotta Pasta with Fennel Recipe

Ricotta Pasta with Fennel

12.18.09 by Jackie

Ricotta pasta is ideal for cold winter days when you're in need of good comfort food. Ricotta is very mild, so I boosted the flavor with parmesan cheese and braised fennel. For extra protein, I added white beans and pine nuts. You can use any shaped pasta, but I happened to have some trottole pasta in the pantry so I went with that. I find the shape so cute; they are corkscrew curled rings with a center stalk. 

I usually make this dish with mascarpone, but after all the decadent holiday treats we've been eating, I was in the mood for something light. Even though the pasta isn't bathed in cream, it's not lacking in flavor.


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Vietnamese Tofu Stuffed Betel Leaves  Recipe

Tàu hũ cuốn lá lốt (betel leaf wrapped tofu in Vietnamese) is very similar looking to Greek dolmades. Instead of using grape leaves though, betel leaves serve as the packaging and delivery device for pan-fried tofu and vegetables. Betel leaves have a peppery taste, and when cooked they have the appearance, but not the texture of nori. The tofu mixture is similar to the filling I use for my vegetarian egg rolls.

The traditional way to prepare this dish is with extra lean ground beef (see tips), called thịt bò nướng lá lốt. However, Aunt Elise, who is a vegetarian, is visiting from Vietnam and taught me how to make the meatless version of the dish. Either way, it's an exotic and authentic taste of Vietnam.


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Saffron Pumpkin Soup Served in Mini Pumpkin Bowls Recipe

I remember having a delicious velouté de potiron au safran in a French restaurant back when I was still living in Paris. I remembered it had a very nice earthy flavor of pumpkin, chanterelles, walnuts and saffron. The flavors are perfect for Thanksgiving, and given the season, I thought I'd try to recreate it.

I roasted the pumpkin to enhance and accentuate the sweetness without overpowering the soup. Instead of using potatoes as a thickening agent as I normally do, I decided to add pan-fried plantains to complement the sweetness of the pumpkin.

To match the elegant flavors of the soup, I created bowls out of mini-pumpkins for serving. The final result was as visually appealing as it was delicious, and met with a round of "oohs" and "ahs" when I brought it to the dinner table. It's a great first course, and best of all, there aren't any plates to wash when everyone's done!

Veloute de potiron au safran


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Celery Risotto with Pistachio Pesto Recipe

Daddy's been dieting diligently lately, and he told me yesterday that he had a craving for celery risotto. Of course, I was happy to oblige. Unlike many of my other risotto recipes, which will probably never be considered healthy, I decided to make this risotto (almost) as good for you as it is good to eat.

To complement the very distinct flavor of celery, I added lemon juice and a pistachio pesto. I also threw in a little parmesan cheese for a nutty aroma and flavor. Daddy enjoyed it so much that I froze several portions of the risotto so that he can get his "fix" whenever he wants, whether he's on a diet or not.


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Baked Spinach Penne Pasta (Gratin de Pates Aux Epinards) Recipe

For me, baked pasta is the ultimate comfort food. What could be better than pasta and spinach mixed with creamy béchamel sauce and smothered in melted cheese? This dish is very similar to a spinach lasagna, but without the extra work of layering everything.

I've found that it's one of the easiest ways to get the girls to eat their vegetables. Each serving is packed with spinach, but who can tell, what with all the cream and cheese? I didn't say it's the healthiest way to get kids to eat their vegetables, just the easiest...


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