Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chocolate Affair

So there is something I must confess. I'm having an affair, in fact, this affair has been going on for the past 26 years... My lover is sweet, smooth and totally addictive. I'm talking about chocolate! I sometimes like to think about when the love first started and honestly, I don't know if it was the fist bite at my Kinder chocolate bar or my nonna's chocolate cake that's smeared with Nutella (as if the chocolate cake it'self isn't decadent enough) I just love it in any way shape or form. If you have been following me on 'Laura in the Kitchen' for a while then you know how much I just love chocolate and that I have shared quite a few recipes with you over the years that showcase this delicious ingredient. So let's go down memory lane with a few of my favorties and hopefully (if you're not already) you will fall in love with them as much as I have.

The first one I wanted to share is my chocolate covered strawberries. Now I know some people might ask "what's so special about this?" well my friend, if you haven't ever eaten one than you're pretty much missing out on one of the best things in life! There is something so amazing about a juicy strawberry and that sweet chocolate coating, it's a match made in heaven! Another great thing about this recipe is that it's seriously so quick and easy to make it's kind of ridiculous,  you can get your kids to make them as you're making the rest of your meal and you won't believe how good they are!

The next recipe is my fudgy brownies. Let me start off by saying that in my opinion, there are three different kinds of brownies out there in the world, a cakey brownie which is light, fluffy, chocolaty  and soft (and of course the recipe can be found on my website if that's the kind of brownie you prefer) then there is a chewy brownie which is a combination of a cakey brownie and a fudge brownie (still working on perfecting a recipe for that and when I've got it down, you can expect it in your subscription box). And then there is the fudgy brownie which in my opinion, is the best brownie if you're into that deep fudge coating on the roof of your mouth with densness and fudginess. Its magical I tell you and this particular recipe has become the favorite brownie recipe of all my friends and for good reason, I mean look at  them!! 

The last recipe I'll leave you with today is my chocolate mousse. If you want to eat something that is smooth, incredibly light in texture yet rich in flavor and pretty much tastes like you're eating a chocolate cloud (don't ask me how i know what a chocolate cloud tastes like) then this recipe is the one for you! A bit more involved to make compared to the other recipes but the results are so worth it,  it's a real treat, you must make this! I have catered engagement parties, birthday parties and bridal showers this past year and this was on the menu for dessert for each of those occasions. It's a real treat but the taste is something I almost can't even describe (look up at the sky, Laura is out of words, there must be purple pigs flying) 
With Valentine's day coming up, if you feel like getting fancy make this dessert, it has to set all night in the fridge so make sure you do it the night before. 
I must go, I have a date with a chocolate covered strawberry.
 Happy Eating! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Oh Pizza Dough, How I Love you!

So let's talk pizza dough for a minute (if you know me, then you I know I could talk about it for hours.. days..weeks...months...years...ok get it?!) Pizza dough is one of my all time favorite ingredients that really comes in handy for multiple uses. Now obviously you need to start by making some really good dough, I will now direct you to my pizza video to see how it's done! (I feel so Tony Soprano right now for some reason...) 

Ok, so now that you know how to make good pizza and you're pretty much a pro, let's talk about a few of my favorite way to use it. Now of course making some traditional pizza is a must, I mean come on, especially now that you can throw the dough up in the air, you got this!

Summertime for me means lighting the grill and grilling up burgers, meat, veggies and pizza! That's right, I said pizza, I'm Italian and.. that's pretty much all I have to say about that. You can top grilled pizza with pretty much anything your heart desires, for me, prosciutto, olives, mozzarella and arugula is pretty much my favorite combination so that's what I'm going with most of the time. You need to try this like now! I know it's not summer but I'm sure you've got a grill pan around your kitchen somewhere so whip it out and make this baby! 

Homemade focaccia rolls are the best soft, moist rolls in the universe! These are what we served most of our sandwiches on at the restaurant and people used to come in all the time to buy dozens of these, that's how good they are, the perfect bed for some chicken and broccoli rabe.  I will warn you though, these are dangerous to have around the house because you wont be able to stop yourself from eating them, well I can't anyway, maybe you have better self control. 

Garlic knots, oh my goodness gracious are these unbelievably good! If you want something full of flavor, crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, and just overall amazing, these are it. I have no other words for them. Do everybody a favor and make them immediately, please! 

Since I like leaving our conversations on a sweet note, the last recipe I'll share with you is for my sweet Italian zeppole. I have never made pizza dough without making an extra batch to make these babies, just how I never turn my fryer on without frying up a batch of these no matter what else I'm frying up that day and since I don't really whip out my deep fryer very often (I try to really limit my fried food intake to a bare minimum) these are something I always make whenever I am frying anything. You can coat them in pretty much any flavored sugar you like, my personal favorite way to eat them is when they are tossed in plain ole' granulated sugar because that's how my nonna made them for us when we were little and anything my nonna does is like the law for me. I haven't come across anybody that likes traditional doughnuts over these, and I think it's because the dough isn't sweet at all so any sweetness comes from what you coat them in and therefore the balance is pretty much amazing! 
So if your making some pizza dough this week, make an extra batch and try some of these recipes, you will be much happier after you eat some of this deliciousness!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Viva Las Vegas!

Hi everyone!! I have missed being able to sit down for a few minutes and chat a bit about what I'm working on - and just chatting in general (well in my head we are chatting in person but you know what I mean) Between the hectic Holidays, being sick for two weeks and being away for most of last week, I have barely had time to think, but I had sometime today so I figured I would share a little of my Vegas trip with you all. I was recently in Las Vegas (if you haven't guessed it yet) for some work meetings and to attend the CES convention, it was a pretty crazy busy, meeting packed few days but we managed to sneak in a Celine Dion concert (I'm still balling my eyes out over here) and of course, had to indulge in some good food! Las Vegas has some of the most wonderful restaurants and I really wanted to try and check out as many as I could and report back about the experience. We got there on Tuesday morning around 11am, and by the time we got to our hotel, it was 1pm, we had to go check out the show first and get our badges, walked around for a couple hours to check out some cool things and then headed to a much needed lunch! We headed to Carnevino which is an amazing restaurant owned by one of my favorite chefs Mario Batali. The restaurant is located in the Palazzo and it really is all it's cracked up to be. Incredible food, relaxing atmosphere and the prices were pretty reasonable. So this is what I had for lunch. 

This what we had as our appetizer, a delicious Caprese salad with incredibly good pesto and buffalo mozzarella. This is an all time classic and when made with delicious ingredients, it's one of the best things in the world! 

For my entree, I had Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe in red sauce. I am very familiar with this dish but i must say that this is the first time I have ever eaten it with red sauce and it was unbelievably good and so inspiring, I can't wait to make my own version of this, and you bet that once I have it perfected, I will be sharing it with you! I will say that I almost never get an appetizer when I eat lunch, but since we had not eaten since 7pm the night before, we were famished!! And as you can see, the portion was on point! A small little plate of this was perfect. So overall my experience at Carnevino I give it a 10! Loved it.

For dinner (at 10pm) we headed to Mon Ami Gabi, located in the Paris Hotel and Casino. I have been to Vegas a few times, the last time was in 2010 and this place was my very favorite. I was so excited to go back. The best thing about this place for me, was the amazing warm crispy baguette and whipped butter that they bring to the table as you get settled and read over the menu. This was my favorite part of the meal and never disappointed me, until we went back this time. I was so disappointed to see that the once crispy amazing (and completely addictive) baguette was no longer, it's now soft and not at all as yummy as it used to be. If you're not a bread lover (it's a blessing and a curse if you ask me) then this probably won't bother you at all, but as a complete breadaholic, this was disappointing. However, the rest of of the food we ordered was DELICIOUS!  

To start, I ordered the frisee salad with the poached egg, it's a classic combination that I just can't get enough of!! I have made my own version of this salad and I love making it at home when I'm in the mood to feel like a fancy pants. 

My husband ordered the mussles mariniere, oh my goodness are these delightful!!! Not much to say besides that. Do yourself a favor, book a plane ticket to Vegas, go this restaurant and get these mussels, that's all I have to say! 

As our entree, we shared the steak au poivre, black pepper crusted steak with a sweet yet tangy sauce and serves with their famous frites. This steak is as good as i remember but since it was pretty late, I only had about 3 of the little frites (not a fan of eating late - especially eating fried foods late). I would rate this place an 8 out of 10 simply because I was just really looking forward to that baguette. The portions for the appetizers were a good size, they were on a 6.5" plate which was perfect but the steak is a pretty big size so I suggest sharing. Overall, you have to give this place a try if given the chance, it's pretty awesome! 

On Wednesday we had a late lunch meeting (at 3pm) at Otto which is again another fabulous restaurant owned by Mario Batali and also Joe Bostiniach, this place is seriously good, this is what i got:

I went with a Margherita DOC pizza which is a margherita with buffalo mozzarella. In the picture it looks massive and it is a pretty good size (about 8") but it has the thinnest crust of any pizza I've ever eaten! It was so thin yet it held together beautifully and had such a lovely flavor from the brick oven, a bit of a splurge for lunch I admit, but since we didn't have dinner plans, I figured I would go ahead and enjoy it since it was basically the only thing I ate that day besides a couple oysters at a Youtube party. I give Otto a 10 for sure! Loved every single thing about it! 

The only thing on that plate that I ate were the oyster and giant shrimp (fine I also had one more oyster, too good to only have one,) and of course I enjoyed a glass of champagne. Youtube knows how to throw a party! 

On Thrusday, we skipped lunch because we had a meeting to run to, so we had an early dinner since we were leaving early the next morning, we decided to go to Olives located in the Bellagio, owned by the wonderful Todd English. 
When I found out we were going to Vegas, this place was on the top of my list of places to check out. I read the menu online and pretty much already knew what I was going to get when we got there. 

I started off with a Bibb Lettuce Salad with walnuts and buffalo mozzarella, kinda saddens me to say that this was not at all worth the 14 dollars I paid for it. While it was good, there was nothing exceptional about it and the mozzarella was regular cow's milk mozzarella and definitely not buffalo. For sure this was a good salad, but I just feel like it could have been better. 

For my entree, I chose one of the specials which was a filet of Bronzino with a cannellini bean ragout with artichokes and a shaved asparagus salad. The first thing I will say is that I was totally shocked by the gigantic portion that was presented to me. From reading it off the menu  I thought it would be something delicate and a perfectly portioned filet not the big portion i received. While the flavors were on point, I found the cannellini beans and potatoes to be totally under cooked therefore I couldn't eat them (insert sad face here) and while the fish was perfectly cooked, I could only eat one filet not both so it made me kinda sad to leave it behind. I am someone who prefers smaller portions, I feel like you can enjoy the food more and I don't like leaving a restaurant feeling like I need to unbutton my pants or they'll burst. However,  now that I know they serve large portions, if we end up going back there my husband and I will definitely be sharing an entree. But on the other hand, this dish was 45 dollars so I totally get that they wanted to give you what you paid for. But I say, cut the portion and the price in half (and make sure the beans and potatoes are cooked though) and it will be perfect. Overall I give this place a 7 out of 10, good food, not exceptional, but the experience is what counts. 

So I hope you all enjoyed this blog post about my eating experience in Sin City, I'm off to Los Angeles this week to attend the TASTE awards (Laura in the Kitchen was named an Honoree this year!) and I will keep you all posted on my facebook page about what I'm up to. So make sure you follow me there. But until then, I'll be living on my treadmill trying to get back into my normal routine from all eating all this fabulous food and overindulging.  Talk to you all soon! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sick And Tired Of Being Sick And Tired!!

Hi there to all my wonderful friends!! I hope you have all had an amazing New Year celebration and just overall a wonderful Holiday Season! My Holiday Season was great up until Christmas Day, it seems like Santa decided to bring me a terrible cold as a present this year and boy has it been terrible. I am not one that gets sick often, in fact, besides a migraine once in a while, I haven't really had a cold in a few years. I am the kind of person that is always on the go and doesn't like to slow down, but this cold knocked me right back on my behind and I haven't been able to do a thing for a week and a half now! I apologize for the lack of action on 'Laura in the Kitchen' this week, it's just that I barely even had a voice so filming was out of the question and as shocking as this sounds to everybody that knows me, I haven't even gone into the kitchen very much at all because I've had no strength to even think about dicing or sauteing anything. I truly am so lucky to have such a wonderful husband who has been by my side taking care of me, keeping up with household chores, cooking for me, reminding me to take my medicine and all of that. I can't imagine how I would have been able to make it through the worst days without him, he pretty much rocks my world!

So since I haven't been in the kitchen cooking or doing anything for that matter, my sweet hubby was doing some of the cooking for a while and I must say that I did enjoy it quite a bit! He mostly whipped up some soups, he made my Nonna's Chicken Soup, a pot of Italian Wedding Soup and he also made a yummy Soba Noodle Soup with just a bunch of leftovers from the fridge. The chicken soup and Italian wedding soup were my recipes that he just followed (he did an incredible job!) but the Soba Noodle Soup was something he whipped up from leftovers and it was super yummy and I was super impressed. So, if any of you aren't feeling so good these days, I really suggest you getting someone to make you some homemade soup, it might not totally heal you but it does make you feel so much better! I will be back to blogging more often this upcoming week once I get off the couch and get some energy back! 
Check out the soup episodes if you haven't already, sick or not they are totally divine and you must make them! 

This is my nonna's famous chicken soup! 

This is my husband's fabulous creation! 

Italian wedding soup!