January Friday Dinner

Olive Oil Braised Red Onion with Bay Leaves

For 4-6


  • 1.5 lb red onions (about 3 medium), trimmed, halved vertically, and cut into 2/3-inch wedges
  • 3 dried bay leaves, each torn into 3 pieces
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dry white wine
  • salt


  1. Position rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Arrange onion wedges in an half overlapping single layer in a shallow baking dish. Evenly nestle the bay leaves among the onions
  3. Mix the olive oil, vinegar, white wine, and 1.5 tbsp water in a bowl and drizzle over the onions. Then sprinkle over 1 …tsp salt
  4. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil
  5. Braise the onions in the oven until completely tender, about 45 …minutes. Uncover the dish and continue to braise until all of the liquid has evaporated and the onions are darkly roasted and glossy, about 20… minutes. Remove the bay leaves and serve the onions warm or at room temperature
  6. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: salad, bread, grilled steak/pork chop …

NOTES: Fine cooking recommended to chill and toss with arugula, toasted walnuts, and lemon vinaigrette. Or mix with olive-oil packed tuna, capers and a touch of mayonnaise. Or top goat-cheese spreader crostini, which is what I served, I thought it was sophisticated, healthy and delicious! Use to be an onion disliker, but I think it’s starting to grow on me


Creamed Spinach with Bacon Bits

For 4-6


  • 1 lb fresh spinach, about 2 large bunches
  • 3 strips of bacon, uncooked, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cut off the thick stems of the cleaned spinach and discard
  2. Blanch the spinach in a pot of boiling water until the spinach is wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the spinach from cooking further. Squeeze the spinach to remove all the moisture. Chop the spinach and set aside
  3. Heat a large skillet on medium high. Add the chopped bacon and sauté until the bacon begins to render some of its fat. Add the chopped onion and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent
  4. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until sauce thickens.
  5. Combine spinach, bacon and onion mixture, and the sauce into one pan. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat and serve
  6. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: fish, chicken, steak …

NOTES: Bacon can be skipped if you prefer … Yummy source of green!!


Mac ‘n’ Cheese

For 6-8


  • 1 head of garlic, roasted
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound Cavatappi pasta
  • 0.5 lb sliced Applewood smoked bacon
  • 1 ½ cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Slice half inch off the top of the entire head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic head tightly in foil and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove garlic pulp by squeezing garlic head and smash to form  paste
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions
  4. Cook bacon completely and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon when cool. Reserve 1 tbsp of bacon fat
  5. Combine breadcrumbs, crumbled bacon, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and 2 tbsp of melted butter as topping, set aside
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  7. Saute shallots over low heat in reserved bacon fat for 1 minute. Add remaining 6 tbsp of butter and continue to sauté shallots in butter and bacon fat until translucent
  8. Add flour and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Increase heat to medium. Stirring constantly with a whisk, add milk and the roasted garlic paste
  9. Cook until sauce has thickened (coats the back of a spoon). Remove sauce from heat then add salt, pepper, nutmeg, Gruyere and Cheddar cheeses. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary
  10. Stir in cooked pasta and pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle topping to cover entire top. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until sauce is bubbly and topping is browned
  11. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: salad, soup, southern dishes  …

NOTES: Hearty and cheesy, makes great left over meal too!! Grating all those cheese was such a pain, I wanted to quit then. If possible, store-bought grated cheese would do. As with all pasta dishes, al dente is the key. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up eating mac ‘n’ cheese like many American kids, I lack the emotional/childhood attachment to it, although it was comforting and delicious, way too much work to my liking …


Balsamic Strawberries with Ricotta & Mascarpone Mousse 

For 8


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • freshly grated zest of one lemon
  • 2 lbs strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, or to taste


  1. Beat the cream until soft peaks form
  2. In a large bowl combine the ricotta, mascarpone, 1/2 cup  sugar, and lemon zest. Whip the mixture until thoroughly combined and smooth
  3. Slowly fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours
  4. Half an hour before serving, gently mix the remaining sugar and balsamic vinegar into a bowl with the quartered strawberries
  5. When ready to serve, fill a clear cup halfway with the strawberries and spoon over the ricotta-mascarpone mousse
  6. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: berries, scones, biscuits, pancakes, crepes …

NOTES: Depending on the grade of the balsamic vinegar you have on hand, you should really taste!!! I imagine it’d be more wonderful with super aged, thick balsamic. I think mine came out a little sour because I didn’t taste and poured in too much 😛 Also, don’t let the strawberries sit in the vinegar for longer than half an hour because you wouldn’t want acidity cooked berries! Nevertheless, I loved it and the sweet cheese mousse was super good. Left over was consumed with such joy and passion the following days. Definitely would make this again!!! It would be a sweet ending to any Italian meal or summer time. 


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Filed under appetizer, Dessert, Main Dish, Side Dish, Vegetable

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