Back To School Recipes

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Bresaola and Cucumber Finger Sandwiches Recipe

These charming finger sandwiches were probably the only thing I could have prepared in the tiny kitchen of the Roman apartment we rented while in the capital city of Italy last week. But it didn't stop me for preparing yummy sandwiches for Aria and me, using local products such as ricotta pannarella and black Angus bresaola meat.

Bresaola is salted lean and succulent beef that is air-dried until the meat turns dark red. It originated from the Lombardy region in Northern Italy. And I first discovered out-of-this-world ricotta pannarella while ordering a cheese platter in a restaurant in Rome. We asked the waiter to give us his best selection and I have to admit it sure was!  Now I'm just hoping I'll be able to find some back in the US!

I prepared the finger sandwiches with crust-free, sliced white bread, a mixture of caramelized fennel and ricotta, sliced cucumbers and of course, freshly-made mozzarella cheese and delicious bresaola meat. 


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Mac and Cheese Shepherd's Pie Recipe Recipe

We've been experiencing rainy days in the Bay Area and I thought a little comfort food would warm us up. I couldn't decide between a shepherd's pie or mac and cheese, so I went for a combination of the two.

To keep the dish vegetarian, I prepared the bottom layer with a mixture of vegetarian protein crumble, tomatoes and onions; you could opt for regular ground beef if you prefer. Instead of topping the dish with mashed potatoes as you would in a standard shepherd's pie recipe, I added creamy mac and cheese. Needless to say, the richness of the dish was a huge hit even baby Aria asked for more!


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Caterpillar Roll (Avocado Sushi Recipe) Recipe

Lulu and I recently went to a Japanese sushi bar and enjoyed platters of delicious rolls. When I came home, I was determined to serve the same gorgeous-looking sushi for the family. I reinterpreted the caterpillar sushi with a combination of hoisin sauce and kaffir lime sauce. The caterpillar outer layer is imitated with thinly sliced avocados. Unlike most of the "fancy" sushi rolls you'll find at restaurants, this one's vegetarian.

I have to admit I was very proud of how they turned out. And to my surprise, it wasn't that complicated. Sometimes, improvisation ends up with beautiful results!

Don't forget to enter your name and email address to be able to participate in my Haute Potato Cookbook contest. I will pick one winner next Monday. And if you already have a copy, I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave a review on Amazon. Thank you!


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Roasted Chicken and Apple Panini Sandwich Recipe Recipe

My morning ritual of working out, listening to the French radio via podcast and reading the messages on PhamFatale.com has grown by one activity; gathering the ripe fruits and vegetables from our garden. The past few weeks we've had gorgeous, sweet apples, which my baby Aria has fully enjoyed. I usually end up with a little leftover apple sauce, which I used to make these panini sandwiches.

After this long weekend, my husband's youngest sister is heading back to school (she's entering third grade already!), so I packed her lunch and prepared a hot sandwich that can also be eaten cold. Balsamic roasted chicken breast strips, smeared with the aforementioned leftover homemade apple sauce and cheddar cheese are nestled between two slices of pizza lavash. With a little grilling and pressing, you'll have a panini that is packed with flavor and pretty healthy to boot. This is one "back to school" sandwich you may start packing for yourself as well.

I hope your Labor Day weekend was as relaxing as ours!


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Tomato Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Recipe

My husband Lulu's little nieces from Oakland are staying with us for a week. I'm going to make their favorite dishes and we prepared a lot of fun activities so they have a memorable stay with us. This morning, we took several large baskets and they helped me pick fruits and vegetables for lunch. We gathered so many tomatoes, I decided to make tomato sauce to store for the winter. But as I was preparing mac and cheese for the children in the evening, I changed my mind and added the tomato sauce to a modified version of the kid-friendly dish. 

I spread a layer of tomato sauce at the bottom of the dish and also flavored the béchamel sauce with fire-roasted tomatoes. They impart a light sweetness and pleasant tanginess that complements the flavors of the cheese and sauce very well. So not only did I coerce the kids into going outside to do a physical activity, I also snuck some veggies into a dish they can’t resist. Pham Fatale indeed!


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