Mushroom Cambozola Pasta

You never go wrong with pasta and you never go wrong with cheese. Combining both must then be a surefire win! This recipe was created when I discovered some cheese and mushrooms in the fridge that would have gone bad in a few days so I had to use them somehow. The result was delicious and filling enough to induce a food coma. Try it for yourself and report back with your results!

This was made with mushroom ravioli, but fettuccine would also work

Ingredients: (4 servings)
1 lb. Pasta – ravioli, penne or fettuccine all work great!
1 cup Cambozola cheese (or blue cheese)
1 tbsp Gorgonzola
8 oz. Cream Cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 oz. Brandy
1/2 cup frozen Green Peas
1 pint Mushrooms (portobello, shitake, or chanterelle varieties work great!)
Handful of Walnuts
1 small Shallot
3 Garlic Cloves (pressed)
1/3 cup red wine
2 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt

Slice the mushrooms. Chop the shallot finely and press the garlic cloves. Add the butter and olive oil to a large skillet or saute pan. Heat it to medium-high and add the mushrooms. Stir after a few minutes and let them continue to cook. When they start to get a darker color after about 4-5 minutes, add the shallot and lower to medium heat. After another minute, add the garlic and let it cook for about a minute before adding the red wine. Let it continue cooking until most of the wine is gone. Take it off the heat and toss in the walnuts. Set aside.
Start boiling water with the salt for the pasta in a large pot. Cook the pasta according to instructions.
Mix the cheeses with brandy and cream in a saucepan. Heat while stirring until it all melts and then add the green peas. Let it simmer while stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce and let it simmer a bit more.
Layer the sauce with the pasta on the plate and then add the mushroom-walnut mix on top before drizzling a little bit more sauce on it. Cutting some fresh parsley over it will add some color and freshness of flavor.

Baked Pear with Almond Cream & Brandy Caramel Sauce

This became an instant favorite when I made it the first time. It can be done very simply if you use pre-made ingredients, but require a little more work if you want to do everything from scratch. Nothing about it is difficult, though!

3-5 Pears (depending on size)
2 tbsp Brown sugar
2 tbsp Butter (unsalted)
2 tbsp Almond paste*
¼ tsp Cardamom seeds (crushed)
1/8 tsp Anise seeds (crushed)
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
¼ cup Sliced almonds
1 ½ oz. Brandy
Caramel Sauce*

Mix the sugar, butter, almond paste, and a little more than 1 oz. brandy in a bowl. Add the anise and cinnamon after crushing them with pestle and mortar or other method.
Cut the pears in half length-wise and scoop out the center with a melon-baller or spoon. Cut a thin slice off the bottom to create a flat surface. Place the pears in a deep dish with the centers facing up.
Distribute the mixture to the center holes of the pears and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Last, add the sliced almonds on top of it all. Put a half tbsp of butter at the bottom of the dish.
Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve with almond infused whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

*These items can easily be made at home (recipes below) or purchased pre-made.

Almond Paste Recipe:
4 oz. almonds
2 bitter almonds or 2 drops of bitter almond extract
3 oz. powdered sugar
1/2 egg white (optional)

Blanch the almonds by putting them in boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. Let them dry on a paper towel and then remove the skins.
Grind the almonds finely and mix with the other ingredients until you have a smooth paste and then roll it up in some wax paper. Store in the refrigerator.

Caramel Sauce Recipe:
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Butter (unsalted, room temperature)
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
Splash of Brandy

Place the sugar in a thick-bottomed sauce pan

and heat over medium heat while stirring. When it starts becoming clear and amber-like in color, add the butter and stir until melted. Then add the cream and allow it to boil for 2 minutes. Add a splash of brandy and stir again. Let sit and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Just thinking about this dessert reminds me of orgasms in my mouth. When it comes out just right, there is simply no other way of describing it. What’s even better is that it is so easy to make and can be prepped in advance. This is another item where you pretty much mix it up and toss it in the oven!

½ cup unsalted butter
4 oz. dark (unsweetened or semisweet) chocolate
4 eggs
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder

1. Melt the butter in a bowl. Using a microwave works great.
2. Chop up the chocolate and stir into the butter. Microwave for a few extra seconds if needed
3. In a separate bowl, crack 2 eggs and add 2 additional egg yolks (save the extra egg whites for an omelet or scramble!). Add the sugar and beat it until it becomes a light, thick, fluffy foam.
4. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate-butter mix with the flour and beat until smooth.
5. Grease up 4 ramekinsBellemain Porcelain Ramekins, set of 6 (4 oz, White)""“> with butter, making sure you cover the surface completely. Dust the cocoa powder on top. (You can mix it with a little flour if needed or substitute flour altogether for the cocoa.)
6. Pour the batter into the ramekins. At this point you can just cover them and place them in the fridge until you are ready to bake them.
7. When you are ready to bake them, heat the over to 450°F. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet. (I like to cover them with aluminum foil as I put them in the fridge beforehand and then I use that foil to place underneath the ramekins to catch any potential overflow. Bake for about 8 minutes, making sure you don’t overbake them. It is fine for them to be a bit loose and jiggly!
8. After you take them out of the oven, let them sit for about a minute. Then place the plate that you are going to serve them on upside down on top of the ramekin and flip them over. Wait a few seconds before removing the ramekin so that the cake settles a little bit. Serve immediately!

I like adding some whipped cream with this. A few drops of vanilla extract in the cream makes it even yummier! I also like to serve it with a raspberry coulis, but you may have even more ideas. I would love to hear about them.
Enjoy and please post your results below!

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Burrata with Cucumber Mint Salad

Tonight’s appetizer was born out of the philosophy of creating with what’s at hand. I only had one small heirloom tomato left and was making dinner for three people so after diving into the fridge I came up with this recipe, which ended up being a big hit.

Chop up some hot house cucumber with fresh mint leaves and add some finely chopped leek and shallot. Toss with a little salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Then chop up some kalamata olives and heirloom tomato and add to the mix. Place a bed of the mix on a plate and place some room temperature burrata cheese on top. Decorate with fresh mint leaves and serve. Let me know how it turned out for you after you try it!