Boretti Valentine’s Lunch

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Last Friday I was invited to a Valentine’s day lunch at the Boretti showroom. I was very excited to go considering my kitchen is practically my office. And since we recently bought an apartment here in Amsterdam but we won’t receive it till June, we are busy looking and planning how we are going to remodel it and fill it up. As it was for Valentine’s, I could bring my husband. We arrived at the showroom which was not far from Amsterdam and I immediately felt like a kid in a candy shop. While I was going gaga over the kitchen stoves, ovens and fridges; my hubby was going gaga over the BBQs.

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The lunch was divided into two groups, one group helped make the appetizers while the other was given a tour of the showroom. We were the first group to be given the tour. Boretti is known for their kitchen stoves which come in a gorgeous range of colors and styles. Lately their BBQs have become quite popular. They are big, American style BBQs. One even comes with a mini fridge. A dream for anyone who likes to cook outdoors. They also make coffee machines, induction cooktops which are getting more popular nowadays and wine coolers. They also produce the M-system line which is more affordable and is produced in the same factory. After buying a Boretti product you can visit this showroom where they can provide you with extra information or instructions on how to use and take care of your product.

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After the tour was done, it was our turn to help prepare the next course. Chef Ben Van Beurten made some delicious pasta and salmon. He was telling us how his preference for cooking goes to the induction cooktops because it’s faster to cook with them and it’s easier to control the heat. After we ate, we learned a bit about latte art. This is something we were very excited about since we’ve been trying it at home with no luck. We actually made hearts and we were quite proud of ourselves. At home however is another story, we just need to practice more.

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Boretti

De Dollard 17, Watergang

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Tagliatelle Alla Puttanesca

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It’s been such a long time since I’ve made this pasta. This is my mom’s favorite. She would make it often at home and order it when we would go out for Italian food. This is my version of it. It’s quick to make and it is full of flavor. And since this weather has me craving even more carbs, I made a caramelized balsamic onion focaccia to serve it with (and to munch on, till it was dinner time).

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

300gr of dried tagliatelle or the pasta of your choice

1 small tin of anchovies (30grs), chopped very finely. Reserve the oil.

2 garlic cloves, minced

Pinch of onion powder

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 bird’s eye chili, finely chopped

5 tomatoes, chopped

100gr of Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

2 tablespoons of dried oregano

1 tablespoon of dried basil

Pepper

4 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Grated Parmesan or Grana Padano for serving

 

In large pan over medium heat, add the anchovy oil and olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the anchovies, chilies and garlic. Cook for 1 minute.

Then add the tomatoes, Kalamata, oregano, basil, onion powder and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time until it becomes a sauce. I didn’t add any salt as the anchovies and Kalamata were salty enough for me.

While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta as instructed on the package.

Once the sauce is done, add the chopped parsley and taste for seasoning. Then add the drained pasta and toss to coat it.

Serve with some grated Parmesan or Grana Padano. Enjoy.

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Eggplant Bolognese (Vegetarian)

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A vegetarian version of this traditional meaty dish. It still packs a lot of flavor because the garlic and eggplants are roasted in the oven. And besides the red wine, I also added a bit of port. If you want to save time, you can also roast the garlic and eggplant the day before.

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

1 head of garlic

2 eggplants (medium sized) cut into small cubes

1 red onion, chopped

3 tablespoons of olive oil

500gr of tomato pure

1 shot of port

1 cup of vegetable or chicken stock

1 cup of red wine

3 tablespoons of dried oregano

2 tablespoons of dried basil

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons of sugar

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Extras:

350grs of dried pasta, I used Armoniche pasta

Grated Grana Padano for serving

Fresh basil for decoration

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil.

Trim the top off the head of the garlic to expose the top of the garlic cloves. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and wrap it in foil.

Place the chopped eggplants in the prepared tray with the garlic. Drizzle some olive oil over the eggplant and add some salt. Roast for 1 hour. Stir the eggplant half way.

Once the garlic is roasted, press it to push out the garlic cloves. Chop them.

Place 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the roasted garlic, eggplants, port and red wine.  Let it cook for about 3 minutes while stirring. Then add the tomato puree, stock, oregano, basil, bay leaves, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir to mix it and let it cook for about 20 minutes until it becomes a sauce. Taste for salt and pepper, and remove the bay leaves.

Cook the pasta as instructed on the package. Then place the drained pasta in the pan with the sauce and mix it until well combined.

Serve with some grated Grana Padano and fresh basil leaves.

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Panzanella with Tomato & Kalamata Ciabatta

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Panzanella has been on my to-make list for a long time. I finally made it yesterday along with the bread that goes in it.  I used a tomato & kalamata ciabatta recipe that I found on Food&Wine. I slightly adapted it to fit what I had in my kitchen. The best part of making bread is the smell that fills out the house. Luckily, I made the full recipe for the ciabatta which makes 2 loaves and I only needed half a loaf for the salad. Why? Because half a loaf disappeared into my belly as soon as it came out of the oven and another big chunk of it disappeared into my husband’s belly as soon as he came back from work. I toasted the bread in a pan with olive oil so it would still remain a bit crunchy as I ate it. I added some edible flowers for an extra pop of color.

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The recipe for the ciabatta makes 2 loaves and the recipe for the salad serves 2.

Ingredients:

For the ciabatta:

5 tablespoons of olive oil

2 red onions, chopped

4 tablespoons of tomato puree

7 cherry tomatoes, seeds removed and quartered

80gr of pitted Kalamata olives, quartered

Salt

Pepper

3 packets of dry yeast (7grs each)

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 ¾ cups of warm water

2 ½ cups pf all-purpose flower

¾ cup semolina

For the salad:

½ a loaf of the tomato and kalamata ciabatta

7 tablespoons of olive oil

100gr of feta, chopped or crumbled

½ cucumber, thinly sliced

150grs of heirloom tomatoes, quartered or chopped depending on their sizes

1 bunch of asparagus

½ red onion, thinly sliced

Edible flowers (optional)

Salt

Pepper

For the dressing:

¼ cup of olive oil

¼ cup of apple cider vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

1 teaspoon of mustard

1 tablespoon of honey

Salt

Pepper

 

To make the ciabatta:

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and cook over medium heat until they caramelized a bit. This will take about 8 minutes. Then add the tomato puree and cook for 4 minutes. Add the olives and tomatoes. Mix well. Finally add some salt and pepper. Let it cool down.

In the bowl of the stand mixer, add the yeast, sugar and water. Let it stand for 10 minutes until it becomes foamy. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, flour and semolina.

Mix on low speed with the dough hook attachment for about 6 minutes until the dough starts to pull from the edges.  Then add the cooled kalamata and tomato mixture. Mix first with a spatula and then for 1 extra minute on low speed just until it’s mixed in. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it stand in a warm place for 1 ½ hours until it doubles in volume.

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F. Scrape the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. It will be very soft and sticky. Divide the dough into 2 even pieces and shape each piece into a loaf of about 20cm long. Place the loaves on a parchment paper lined baking tray and bake for 25 minutes until they are lightly browned. Transfer them to a rack and allow them to cool down. You should have a piece while it is still warm, I had half a loaf.

To make the dressing:

Just place all of the ingredients in a jar, cover it with a lid and shake it until it emulsifies. Set aside.

To make the salad:

Chop half of a ciabatta loaf into cubes. Pour 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the ciabatta and cook until it becomes crispy. Stir from time to time. This will take about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer it to a plate and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Sauté the asparagus until crisp-tender. The time will depend on their thickness. Since I got very young ones, I didn’t have to trim them. Add salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the onion, tomatoes, cucumber, feta and asparagus. Add the ciabatta and dressing. Mix well. Serve immediately. You can decorate it with some edible flowers.

Spaghetti Alle Vongole

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This is one of my favorite pasta dishes and an Italian classic. I hardly ever order it at a restaurant just because it takes no effort to make at home. It is prepared in about 15 minutes. By the time the pasta is cooked, the vongole is ready and you just have to combine it all.

As cravings go with me, most of the times they don’t disappear like they do for my hubby. They keep hunting me until I satisfy them. A couple of years ago, we were in Italy on holiday. On our last dinner there, I saw this dish on the menu and all of the sudden I had to have it. Unluckily for me, they were sold out! As soon as we were back home, I went to get some vongole and made the dish at home.

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I’ve been craving vongole lately so I have made this dish 3 times in the past month. If you are not familiar with cooking vongole, make sure that the shells are not open when you buy it. You’ll discard of the ones that are open, so you want to get your money’s worth. I like to squeeze some lemon juice in the end, even though it is traditionally not added. I made it last on a Saturday in which after running errands all day, I didn’t feel like spending much time cooking. It was gone in less than 5 minutes. Yes, I eat very fast!

This recipe serves 2.

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Ingredients:

500gr of Vongole

2 cloves of garlic, minced

14 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

½ bunch of parsley, chopped

250ml white wine

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

260gr of spaghetti

Chili flakes to taste

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Juice of 1 lemon (optional)

 

Rinse the vongole under cold water for a couple of minutes. Discard of any that are open and don’t close when you tap them.

Mince the garlic, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and chop the parsley.

Cook the pasta as instructed on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, add the olive oil to a large pan with a lid. Over medium heat, add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the vongole and the white wine. Cover with the lid and let it cook till the vongole start to open, about 4 minutes. Stir. Discard of any that haven’t opened. Turn the heat off.

By this time the pasta should already be done. Add the drained pasta to the pan with the vongole. Add salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste. Then add the lemon juice and parsley. Stir until everything is combined. Serve right away.

 

Farfalle Aglio e Olio with Charred Cauliflower & Breadcrumbs

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I’ve been craving a lot of charred cauliflower lately. I’ve been adding it to pasta dishes, salads and also just eating it by itself as a snack with some lime juice on the side. I love simple pasta dishes like aglio e olio. Adding charred cauliflower and spicy breadcrumbs, are nice little extras that give some more bite to the dish.  They say toasted breadcrumbs are the poor man’s parmesan but I don’t think there is anything poor about it. Toasted in olive oil with some salt, already adds a nice taste and if you want more, you can add any kind of herbs. It’s crunchy, salty goodness. An easy vegetarian dish, perfect for a weeknight dinner!

This recipe serves 3.

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Ingredients:

For the cauliflower:

1 cauliflower, cut into florets, then thinly sliced

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt

Pepper

For the breadcrumbs:

3 slices of toasted bread

Dried chili flakes, to taste

3 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt

For the pasta:

400gr of farfalle pasta

1/3 cup of olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

Salt

Pepper

For the toppings:

1 bunch of parsley, chopped

Zest of 2 lemons

Juice of ½ a lemon

 

Place the cauliflower slices in a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Then place it on a pan, over medium-high heat. Cook until the cauliflower gets charred, stirring from time to time. This will take about 7 minutes. Set aside.

While the cauliflower is getting charred, cook the pasta as instructed on the package.

To make the breadcrumbs, place the toasted bread in the food processor. Pulse until you get crumbs. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan, over medium heat. Place the breadcrumbs, add salt and dried chili flakes to taste. Cook until the breadcrumbs get a golden color. Set aside.

Add 1/3 of a cup of olive oil to a pan, over medium heat. Add the minced garlic cloves. Cook for a minute or 2 until the garlic becomes fragrant. Then add the cooked pasta, charred cauliflower, salt, pepper and toss to combine. Finish it by adding the parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix it well. Taste for salt and pepper.

Divide the pasta into 3 plates and top each plate with some of the breadcrumbs.

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