Question: what do you make for dinner when you’re home alone and there’s no one to judge you for not eating a well-rounded meal?
What is this, you ask? Oh, just your average giant ball of mozzarella filled with softer mozzarella, double-coated in panko bread crumbs and fried to crispy, golden perfection. But that’s not all, certainly not. This masterpiece sits atop an equally delicious bed of romesco sauce which, for those who don’t know, is sort of like a red pesto where instead of basil you use roasted red peppers, and instead of pine nuts you use almonds. Its slightly sweet, slightly smoky flavor is a perfect pairing for a rich ball of literal fried cheese.
And as if this couldn’t get any better, to eat it, it’s highly encouraged that you toast a bunch of slices of Italian bread and dip away. After coming across the recipe here on Spoon Fork Bacon I added it to my “to try” list immediately and jumped in the first chance I got. In retrospect, this is probably a better appetizer or like, ~group~ snack than a dinner for one person, but I’m an adult and no one can tell me what to do, so hell YEAH I ate one for dinner. I optimistically fried two burratas that day, but alas I am only one person and finishing two was not in the cards for me. This was, however, one of my most successful frying experiences and I think I owe it all to the panko breadcrumbs, which are larger and flakier than regular breadcrumbs, and they just fry so nicely and evenly. They also make the best, crispiest chicken cutlets, but that’s for another day. I’m not tryna stretch this out we all know why we’re really here, so let’s get to it! (Right after 5 things to be happy about today!)
ONE. A chilly, rainy Sunday with nothing to do but get cozy and catch up on TV. TWO. Kettle cooked potato chips. THREE. Backyard string lights. FOUR. A good spring deep cleaning. FIVE. Rhubarb season finally arriving!! (unusual recipe coming soonish!!)
24 ounces roasted red peppers, drained
½ cup slivered almonds
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves
Juice of ½ lemon
Handful of minced parsley
Kosher salt and pepper
ROMESCO SAUCE STEPS
ONE. Blend all the above ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until heated through. Set aside.
FRIED BURRATA INGREDIENTS
2 medium-sized burrata balls
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Oil for frying
Parmesan and parsley, for serving
Italian Bread, for serving
FRIED BURRATA STEPS
ONE. Arrange the flour, beaten egg, and panko in 3 steps. Dredge both balls of burrata in the flour, egg, and panko respectively, then repeat in the egg and panko once more to ensure it’s fully coated. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 15 minutes to set.
TWO. In a large dutch oven, heat about 4 inches of vegetable or canola oil to 350ºF. Fry each burrata for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel, then sprinkle with salt.
THREE. To serve, spoon a generous amount of romesco sauce into a bowl, then top with a fried burrata. Sprinkle with parmesan and parsley, and serve with slices of toasted bread.
WELCOME! As you can probably tell by the title of this recipe, I recently came into the possession of an Instant Pot and boy do I have a lot to say about it. First off, I got my Instant Pot for $30 (THIRTY. DOLLARS!!!) because I got a bunch of Amazon gift cards for Christmas and this seemed like as good a purchase as any, right? Watching it deduct $75 from the list price made me feel like one of those extreme couponers and I finally GET IT. My first adventure was this chicken tortilla soup and after working out some of the kinks it turned out delicious, so I was feeling confident. I then came across this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis and thought, I can adapt this to my Instant Pot no problem!!
Well, as I’m sure you can guess, it was in fact a problem. But, the magic of this blog is that I work this out so that you don’t have to! Turns out, Instant Pots do NOT like flour, and if you add even the tiniest bit of flour to your sauce, it will sink to the bottom, burn, and tell you repeatedly that the whole thing is burning four to five times until you take everything out, scrub the inner pot, and the start over. Yeah. So, I did this several times and had several full on tantrums before it worked. I still get mad at myself very easily when cooking things don’t work out the first time I try them, which I know is a bad habit and one I am certainly trying to kick, but this was truly testing me.
Now, another note about Instant Pots is that while yes, they definitely cut down the cooking time on things like stews and short ribs that would otherwise take several hours, you have to factor in the time that the pot takes to come to its set temperature and pressure, which, according to the manual, can take anywhere between 10 and 40 minutes depending on the volume and starting temperature of the food inside it. So, if your ribs need to cook for an hour and 10 minutes total, remember to add in an average 30 minutes or so because the hour and 10 minutes doesn’t start until it’s come to full pressure. After several false starts, my short ribs had almost come to a full, high pressure cooking situation several times, and as a result, I ended up lowering my overall cooking time to take that into account. However, according to the chart that came with my pot, beef ribs should be cooked for about 20-25 minutes per pound, so you can use that factor accordingly.
In the end, this worked out and the lasagna was to DIE for, but I for sure gave myself a baptism by fire here. I feel as though my Instant Pot and I are destined to be enemies, but like ones that have some playful banter going, you know? I look forward to getting to know the ins and outs of this thing, and seeing how many day-long recipes I can turn into quicker projects. This recipe can also be started on a stovetop instead of the Instant Pot, and I’ve included those directions at the bottom as well.
Anyways, enough ranting, here are 5 things to be happy about today before we get to cooking: ONE. When it’s been a week since New Year’s and you’re still following some resolutions.
TWO. An afternoon iced coffee to give you that energy kick you need.
THREE. Waking up to rain on a Saturday morning with nothing to do but stay in bed and catch up on TV.
FOUR. When you hear your grandparents talk about things they used to do growing up.
2 Tbs olive oil
4 oz. diced pancetta
3½-4 lbs. bone-in short ribs
Kosher salt, to taste
2 medium onions
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 cups beef broth
2 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
2½ cups jarred pasta sauce (or your own if you feel like it!)
2 boxes no-boil lasagna noodles (12-15 noodles total)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups parmesan cheese
Steps (stovetop directions at bottom)
ONE. Turn your Instant Pot to Sauté, then add the olive oil. When the olive oil is heated, add the pancetta and cook until crisp and rendered. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate. In the pot with the rendered fat and olive oil, sear your short ribs for roughly 4 minutes, meat side down, turning if necessary so all sides are cooked. Do this in batches if you need to! Transfer cooked ribs to a bowl and set aside.
TWO. Add all chopped vegetables to the pan and allow to sweat, scraping the brown bits from the bottom as you go. I learned this the hard way, the scraping of the Instant Pot is NECESSARY, otherwise you will continue to get an annoying “burn” message. Add kosher salt here (about 1 to 2 tablespoons) and cook until the veggies are translucent and soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.
THREE. Add the red wine, crushed tomatoes, broth, and tomato paste, then add the seared short ribs and pancetta, layering so that no tomato paste will burn to the bottom of the pot. Make sure that the meat is entirely covered by the liquid, but that the liquid is not going over the 2/3 limit of your pot! Tie together the rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves with twine and toss in on top.
FOUR. Securely close the top of your Instant Pot and set to the “Meat/Stew” setting, on Normal, and adjust the cooking time based on the amount of meat you’re cooking with. According to the Instant Pot cooking chart, it should be about 20-25 minutes per pound of beef ribs, so mine cooked overall for 1 hour and 10 minutes (if you count how many times it came up to temperature and then claimed it was burning lol).
FIVE. Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Once the meat is finished cooking, remove bones and herb bundle and shred the meat, placing it in a large bowl. Add 3 cups of the tomato cooking liquid to the meat and mix. Feel free to save the remaining sauce for pasta, however I would let it chill and then skim some of the fat off once it hardens. To assemble the lasagna, spread a thin layer of jarred tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Add a layer of 4 to 5 lasagna noodles, breaking them and arranging them as necessary to fit. Spread half the meat mixture over the first layer of noodles, then top with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and ½ cup of parmesan. Add another layer of noodles, the rest of the meat, and then another cup of mozzarella plus ½ cup parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles, 2 cups of jarred tomato sauce, 1 cup of mozzarella, and the rest of the parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.
*For the stovetop, simply complete steps one through three in a dutch oven or other large pot, then cook for 3 hours, uncovered for the last hour, before continuing with step 5.
Now bask in the praise of your dinner guests! YUM! xoxoxoxoxoxoD
If you’re even slightly a food person like myself, you’ve probably seen or heard about the new Netflix show Salt Fat Acid Heat. I admit that since its premiere, I have watched it through at least 3 times, crying, laughing, and planning food for the future. The premise behind the show comes from a cookbook of the same name, written by Samin Nosrat. Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat, the four elements of good cooking. Master the balance of these, master good cooking. The special is broken into 4, each in a different location and each tackling a different element. Unsurprisingly, the episode that I felt myself watching over and over again centered around Italy. Titled “Fat”, it tackled just what makes Italian food so good, from the olive oil, to the pork fat, to the cows milk cheese.
The recipe that caught my eye for sure was this focaccia, and even though I have a deep-seated fear of bread making, nothing was going to stop me from this. It is SO good, so crisp on the outside and light and airy on the inside, rich and salty and perfect for dipping in coffee (the Ligurian way) or eating straight from the oven. It reminds me so much of the Schiacchiata bread that makes the best sandwiches in Florence, which I’d get on my way home from school and finish eating before even getting to the steps of my apartment. I would give literally anything to be back there right now, but until then, this is pretty close to perfect. By the way, the original recipe can be found here, but I tried to keep this as close to the original as possible!
Before you go become your best bread-making self, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. Puffy winter coats. TWO. Keeping your room cold so that you can sleep with two cozy blankets. THREE. “Flannel Fridays”. FOUR. Apple cider cocktails. FIVE. Impromptu photoshoots.
2½ cups warm water
½ tsp active dry yeast
2½ tsp honey
5 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp large crystal kosher salt
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Salt, for sprinkling
1½ tsp kosher salt (for brine)
1/3 cup warm water (for brine)
ONE. In a medium sized bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey and stir until dissolved. In another large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add in the dissolved yeast mixture and the olive oil and stir until everything is just combined. At this point, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to ferment overnight or for at least 12-14 hours.
TWO. When the dough has finished fermenting and is more than doubled in size, spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil on an 18″ x 13″ baking sheet (a baker’s half sheet) so that the whole sheet is covered. Gently release the dough from the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula, and carefully add to the baking sheet. Add another tablespoon of oil and gently stretch the dough so that it covers the entire bottom of the sheet evenly. Because the dough will shrink at first, over the course of 30 minutes gently push the dough back to the corners until it stays.
THREE. Press your index, middle and ring fingers into the dough at an angle to make the signature focaccia dimples. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the warm water and salt until the salt has been totally dissolved. Pour this brine over the whole sheet evenly, and then proof for a final 45 minutes.
FOUR. About 30 minutes into this final proof, position your oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 450ºF. To bake, either place a baking stone on the oven rack with the baking sheet on top of it, or flip another baking sheet upside down and place the baking sheet with the dough on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is crisp and golden brown.
FIVE. To finish, generously drizzle olive oil over the top (it will sink into the bread), and sprinkle with flaky salt. Serve thick slices warm and try not to eat the entire sheet yourself, but if you do, I won’t judge.