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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

white plate blank slate

After a long break from Ladyberd's Kitchen, I'm blogging (and cooking) again over at white plate blank slate. Stop by the new site for new recipes, photos and blogging tips.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Lobster BLTs

It's been 19 months since my last post and a lot has changed. My amazing girls are now 2 and a half (cant forget the half) and almost 5! I've moved to a new house and just completed my new kitchen. The girls love helping me in the kitchen - just last night tiny one helped make me a turkey sandwich to take to the office for lunch. I showed her how to take a slice of turkey and lay it on the bread, then watch as she grabbed a slice, rolled it into a ball, mashed it in her tiny hands a few times, then squished it onto the bread... good thing she washed her hands first... but boy was she proud of herself!

As they get older, I get a bit more sleep and a bit more time to myself - which hopefully means time to get back to my blog. I've been cooking all along, just not as fancy and I haven't had time to take photos and write posts...

Perhaps I should re-title this Ladyberd and Baby birds in the kitchen... First things first though: a post.

One of the things I welcome most about summer are dropping prices on lobster. This past Memorial Day, I made a new favorite: Lobster BLTs with Saffron aioli. Steam and shell the lobsters the night before (or cheat and have your market steam them for you). Then this becomes a quick dinner with some steamed corn or potato salad.

Lobster BLTs
adapted from Lobster! by Brooke Dojny

1 tsp. white wine vinegar
pinch saffron threads
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
meat from 2 1-1/4 pound lobsters
8 strips of cooked bacon
Several leaves crisp lettuce (like Romaine)
1 tomato, sliced
Sliced avocado (optional)
8 thick slices challah

Mix the saffron and vinegar in a small dish and let sit for a few minutes so the flavors blend. Stir in the mayonnaise.

Spread one side of each piece of bread with butter and toast in a pan. when golden brown, remove from pan and place toasted side down on a plate.

Pile one fourth of the lobster on each of 4 pieces of the bread. top with two slices of back, lettuce, tomato and avocado (if using). Spread some of the aioli on the untoasted side of the remaining four slices of bread and put on top of each sandwich.

Serves 4.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Gnocchi with sausage and leeks


My kitchen broke. The dog ate my cookbooks... Those are about the best excuses I can come up with for my lengthy absence from this blog that was once such a big part of my life. They're not even good excuses. Heck, I don't even have a dog (if I did, my husband would probably be pretty happy if he ate a few of my cookbooks). But a lot has happened since my last post in April. My tiny one turned one... and started sleeping through the night (most of the time). My job changed. Then changed again. My manager changed. My husband's job changed.

Through it all, I have been cooking - a lot. Fortunately we are moving past the phase of baby food and I can serve one meal to my whole family at least a few times a week. This may sound ridiculous to the childless, but all you moms know exactly how monumental this is. Last night's dinner was Polish: kielbasa, pierogies and sauerkraut. And you know what?? Both kids ate kielbasa and pierogies. It made my day. These are the small victories that mean so much to working moms...

I have a stockpile of photos and recipes from the last few months, so it's time to get back to blogging. This one is a highlight - from a cookbook Mom gave me a few months back...

Note well: the gnocchi need to be started a day ahead so plan accordingly!


Gnocchi with sausage and leeks
Adapted from Fabio's Italian Kitchen by Fabio Viviani

2 leeks
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
6-8 Sweet Italian sausages
1 c. dry white wine
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 recipe potato-ricotta gnocchi (follows)
Good quality EVOO for drizzling

Preheat oven to 375F.

Clean the leeks well and slice pale green and white parts into thin rounds.

Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium heat and brown the sausages on all sides. Add the wine and reduce. While the wine is reducing, toss the leeks with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.

Once the wine has reduced and leeks are roasted, drop gnocchi in a pot of salted boiling water. Remove gnocchi as soon as the first ones rise to the top. Add to the pan with the sausage mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the leeks, a drizzle of good Extra-virgin olive oil and some shaved Parmesan.

Potato-ricotta gnocchi

6 medium baking potatoes
1/2 a whole nutmeg, grated (I used less!)
1 Tbsp. salt, plus pepper to taste
1 egg yolk
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup semolina flour
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 425F.

Bake the potatoes for an hour until they are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Cool for a couple hours then scoop out the insides. Mash until very smooth using a fork or potato ricer.

Add the nutmeg, salt, pepper to taste, egg yolk and ricotta. Mix to combin and refrigerate overnight, covered.

The next day, spread the semolina in an even layer on a baking tray.

Place potato mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer and add the flour on low-medium speed. Once the mixture has come together, remove it from the bowl and cut into fist-sized pieces.

Roll each ball into a cigar shape and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place on the baking tray and then refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to set. Cook as noted in recipe above.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Salt Lick Green Onion and Cheese Souffle


My last post was on the eve of my second daughter's birth: seven months and twelve days ago. It's amazing how much can change in so little time. Hurricane Sandy left her mark when little one was just seven weeks old. There was Newtown and more recently the Boston bombings... I was on maternity leave for nearly four months and have now been back at work for nearly four.

And it is work that led me to this post.

More specifically, it is work that led me to the Salt Lick.

Since returning to work, I've had three business trips - two to Texas and one to Michigan. The Michigan trip was a snowy disaster and one trip to Texas found me locked in my hotel room with a stomach bug. (The saving grace was a nice dinner when I recovered out with my two favorite people from work.) But the other trip to Texas was for a team meeting and I have a great team. These are people I would actually choose to hang out with if work hadn't thrown us together by chance. Needless to say, it made for some fun nights.

On one of those nights, the boss, a true Texas carnivore (not sure green is in his vocabulary), chose to take the team for some finger-licking good BBQ at the Salt Lick. I had heard of the Salt Lick during a recent season of Top Chef, so my little eyes lit up when he mentioned it. I had decided to buy the cookbook before we even arrived (my teammates laughed at my eagerness, but then several of the guys decided to tote home a copy for their wives!)

The barbecue was good - really good. Especially the ribs washed down with more than a couple pitchers of Shiner Bock. If I find myself in Austin again, I'm going back for more. In the meantime, I'll content myself with the book.


Green Onion and Cheese Souffle
from the Salt Lick Cookbook by Scott Roberts and Jessica Dupuy

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup milk, room temperature
½ cup grated Gruyère cheese
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
6 oz. pancetta, finely chopped (optional)
1 – 2 bunches green onions, cleaned and sliced on the bias into ½” slices
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
4 egg yolks
salt and pepper to taste
8 egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar

Pre-heat the oven to 375º F and butter a 1½ qt. soufflé mold.

Pre-heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the butter and melt until frothy. Add the flour, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, creating a roux.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk, whisking vigorously. Return the pot to the heat and bring this mixture to a boil so that the sauce will thicken. (This is a basic white sauce.)

Again, remove the pan from the heat and add the grated cheeses, stirring well to melt.

In a large skillet, cook the chopped pancetta (if using) over medium heat. When pancetta is fully cooked and a little crispy, add the green onions to the pan and sauté briefly. If you are not including the pancetta, simply sauté the green onions in a tbsp. of butter.

Add the green onions, mustard, and egg yolks to the cheese sauce. Taste this mixture and season with salt and pepper. (Be sure to season well or over-season slightly, since this mixture will be diluted by the egg whites later.) Let this mixture cool completely.

Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar in a copper bowl to soft peak stage. In three stages, carefully fold the egg whites into the soufflé base. Transfer the mixture to a buttered 1½ qt. soufflé mold. Bake at 375º F for 30 minutes, or until risen and lightly browned on top. The soufflé should jiggle only slightly when finished.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bucatini All'Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs

Well, this is it. Tomorrow, I officially become a mother of 2. This time around, it's quite different. I feel better prepared, ready for the challenge and joy of having a newborn. I'm not entirely sure how my 2-year-old will respond, but I think she'll do ok once she comes to grips with the fact that mommy can't pick her up for awhile.

There's one thing for sure: my freezer is stocked: sauces, chili, burgers, quick meals. (So the blogging may suffer for a bit...) Last time around, I didn't take this step. I thought I'd have time to cook - silly, silly, delusional me.

I'm still working but my last meeting ends in 90 minutes. Come 5 o'clock, I'm off til the New Year. Seems far off, but it'll no doubt fly by as I watch little peanut grow and grow and spend some extra time with big sister.

Hopefully I'll be back in the kitchen soon. In the meantime, here's a new favorite that sounds difficult but is actually pretty east to make. Excuse the less than stellar photos...


Bucatini All'Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs
Adapted from Giada at Home by Giada de Laurentiis

All'Amatriciana Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, diced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano

1 small (6-ounce) onion, grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/4 cup
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup
1/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1 large egg
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground veal
2 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into 16 (1/2-inch) cubes
1 pound bucatini or other long pasta

For the sauce: In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and reserve. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and the cooked pancetta. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the meatballs: Position an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the onion, 1/2 cup parsley, 2/3 cup Parmesan, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the beef and veal. Using your hands, combine all ingredients gently but thoroughly. Shape the meat mixture into 16 (1 1/2-inch-diameter) meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet. Make a hole in the center of each meatball and place a cube of mozzarella inside. Reform the meatball so that the mozzarella is completely covered with the meat mixture. Bake the meatballs for 15 minutes until cooked through.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl. Add the meatballs and sauce. Toss gently and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and Parmesan.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Rigatoni with chicken and creamy mushroom sauce


With 16 days (or less) until the arrival of my baby, my motivation comes and goes. Some days the nesting instinct is on a warpath and I'm cleaning everything in sight. Other days my swollen ankles leave me curled on the couch. The same goes for cooking. Last night I was a bit more motivated (I made pan-roasted duck breasts with farro risotto and caramelized figs - watch this space for the recipe). Aside from saying it was a great dinner, my fabulous husband said the nicest thing possible: "I don't know many women who would make this dinner 2 weeks before having a baby." Made my day!!!

Some days, I want to prepare big batches of stuff I can freeze for after baby's arrival. Other days, I'm more likely to take the path of least resistance. This recipe is quick and simple, and as you'll see from the picture, my 2-year-old liked it (though she picked out most of the mushrooms), which meant I only had to make one meal to feed all of us.


Rigatoni with chicken and creamy mushroom sauce
Adapted from Giada at Home by Giada De Laurentiis

1/2 pound rigatoni pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound assorted mushrooms, (such as cremini, shiitake and button), cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

While the water heats and pasta cooks:
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add to the pan. Cook chicken until lightly browned on all sides and cooked through. Remove from pan using a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the shallots and garlic to the pan, adding a little more olive oil if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the heat to high. Add the wine and cook for 3 minutes until all the liquid evaporates. Add the stock and reserved chicken simmer until liquid is slightly reduced. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the mascarpone cheese. Stir until creamy. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water, and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the mushroom mixture and the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss well to coat pasta, adding the reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Garnish with the chopped chives. Serve immediately.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Easy cheese danish


I've entered the final countdown (and yes, the song from the Rocky movie keeps playing in my head). Less than 30 days until my new baby arrives and just 17 days of work. The bathroom and laundry room renovations are done with the exception of the glass shower, but that should be installed early next week. Painters finished this morning so I can reassemble the second floor of my house over the next few days. Then I can focus on the baby...

In the meantime, I've got a freezer stocked with a fair number of quick dinners. I still have to throw together a big batch of Bolognese, but that'll be done soon... While stocking my freezer, I found some things I wanted to use up, including a package of puff pastry. These easy cheese danish were a perfect treat. I assembled them the night before and then just popped the baking sheet in the oven in the morning. My husband claims he prefers them to the ones from our favorite local bakery... impressive! Next time, I might try adding a little fruit as well, maybe some raspberry preserves...


Easy Cheese Danish
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 Tbsp.sugar
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg white beaten with a splash of water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolk, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!

Unfold puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together.

Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes or overnight.

Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

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