Nobody's Little Mrs.

Category: Delicious

Sunday Cooking with My Mother

Almost every Sunday during my childhood my mother made fresh pasta. She’d pull out the wooden board–handmade by my father for that specific purpose–and within minutes flour, egg, and water would turn into fresh dough. She would knead and re-knead it, let it rest. Then she cut it, rolled it out, cut it into smaller pieces and soon the table would be lined with tiny orrechiette, or cavatelli,  fusilli, or tagliatelle.

When I moved out on my own, my father made me a pasta board, knowing how much I loved to cook (and to eat homemade pasta). But, unfortunately, the only action my board ever saw was the rolling out of pre-made pizza dough purchased from the market! Life just seemed to take over and my parents visits never seemed to include enough time for a homemade pasta lesson.

It’s taken a while, but I finally managed to get that lesson from my mother and put my beloved pasta board to proper use. 

There’s no better way to spend a chilly winter Sunday than cooking with my mom. For now, enjoy these photos from a great afternoon in the kitchen. I’ll soon be sharing the proper recipe for my mother’s pasta dough.

Buon appetito!

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In the Kitchen: Migas

Perfect Ingredients: Migas

My first time eating Migas was only about a year ago, and even though I had no idea what a great plate of Migas tasted like, I knew that I wasn’t sampling the best. But I knew that I would love it when I tasted it, which in fact, was the case months later when I finally had the real deal. Delicious!–honestly I could eat Migas every day. So of course, the next step was to find a good recipe to recreate the scrumptiousness at home.

I found a few different versions–from Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe in her book It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook, to Ree Drummond’s (aka the Pioneer Woman) from her website (also available in her first cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl ), to a slew of random online cooking sites, and even a recipe on the package of the corn tortillas I bought!
Ultimately, I liked the simplicity of Gwyneth’s recipe and  tweaked it just a tiny bit.  It’s so delicious and so easy, I suspect I’ll be eating it pretty often!
MIGAS (makes 1 serving)
1. Add about 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil to a nonstick pan (at least 8″ in diameter)

2. Heat oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking (when a bead of water “dances” in the pan),  places 2 corn tortillas (cut into wedges) in the oil, along with 1 Tbsp of chopped white onion (or more to test). 

3. Pan fry the  tortilla wedges/saute the onions, until the wedges start to crisp and onions soften.

4. Crack two eggs directly into the pan and, with a wooden spatula, scramble the eggs together with the tortillas and onions. (Optional, you may also add crumbled chorizo at this point if you wish.)

5. When eggs are almost cooked, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle to cilantro (to taste) and add crumbled Cotija cheese (a couple of Tbsp). (Gwyneth suggested Queso Fresco, which is also very good. Cotija is drier and a bit more crumbly, so it’s a matter of taste.)

6. Transfer entire contents of pan to a plate, and top with your choice–sliced fresh avocado, pico de gallo, fresh salsa. Garnish with crumbled cheese (Cotija or Queso Fresco) and cilantro.
If you have your own favorite Migas recipe, please share it–I’d love to try more variations. If you try this quick recipe, let me know how it turns out!
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In the Kitchen: Taco Night

Perfect Ingredients, steak tacos

Forget the taco kits and powdered seasonings, there’s a better way to have taco night at home. With just a few ingredients you can make a tastier and healthier steak taco in just a few minutes.

Skirt Steak
Of course you can use flank steak or ground beef–or any other meat or fish for that matter–but when I make steak tacos I like to use skirt steak. You can also pre-grill or broil your steak, but it’s very easy to cook in a cast iron pan. Basically it’s a Mexican stir-fry.

White Onion
I find that for this simple recipe white onion works best as it’s flavor is not too sweet and complements the cilantro. Usually I chop the onion finely, but I don’t dice it.

Use as much or as little cilantro as you like. If you don’t generally like cilantro–try it anyway! A little of its flavor and fragrance really make this simple recipe delicious.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Honestly, I use extra virgin olive oil in almost everything savory that I cook. For a recipe like this you can use a lighter olive oil if you prefer.

Salt and Pepper
Use to taste.

Corn Tortillas
Corn tortillas not only add flavor and texture to your tacos, but they’re also very authentic

To prepare your skirt steak, cut against the grain into strips.

Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a  medium or  large size (depending on how many you are feeding) and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (but not smoking) add the beef. (To test if the oil is hot enough, add a drop of water to the pan–if it sizzles and dissipates, the pan is ready.)

Spread the beef around so the pieces cook evenly. When the beef is about halfway cooked, add the onion.

When the onion becomes translucent, about five minutes or so, the steak should be just about cooked through. At this point, add some chopped cilantro and stir into the steak and onions just until it wilts just a bit. Don’t overcook at this point and let the cilantro darken, it should still be a vibrant green when ready. Remove the pan from heat and set aside for a moment.

At this point, heat up the tortillas. Depending on what brand you buy the directions may vary, but generally speaking, I wrap four to six tortillas in a dampened paper towel and microwave for about one minute.

You can, of course, garnish your tacos to your liking, but personally, I like to use either Mexican Queso Fresco, or Cojita cheese (usually easily found in the international or Latin section of your supermarket) and maybe some Pico de Gallo (I like the Goya brand), and Cholula or Tapatio hot sauce. For a variation, diced avocado and thinly shaved radish provide a really refreshing flavor as well.

If you give this recipe a try, I’d love to know how you like it. If you have any other taco night ideas, I’d love to hear them!!


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In the Kitchen: Perfect Pasta Sauce

Perfect Ingredients: Simple Tomato Sauce

leather apron by Crate & Barrel

Growing up in an Italian household, I have come to consider the most perfect form of comfort food a simple dinner of pasta and a salad. I could literally have some form of pasta as a daily meal without ever getting bored. Of course, homemade pasta is ideal, though not necessary. What is essential however, is homemade sauce–and it’s much easier than you might think. 
There are endless types of sauces to suit any palate, the most basic of which is a simple tomato sauce with basil. The ingredients shown here are what you will need to achieve a delicious sauce of your very own in just a few steps. 
As I was never handed down a written recipe, but rather learned watching at my parents’ side in the kitchen, this is not a formal recipe. What it is, though, is a starting point–for you to personalize your own homemade tomato sauce, and perfect it as you go! 
Yellow Onion and Olive Oil
Select a sweet yellow onion for the best flavor and use only high quality extra virgin olive oil–they are the most aromatic. 
In a deep pot, heat about 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Then add the onion; I like to cut the onion in half and place the two halves in the oil. I do this because I prefer to have the onion flavor the sauce, rather than have pieces of the onion in the sauce. If you like, you can dice the onion instead. In either case, cook the onion until it softens a bit and becomes somewhat translucent, but not browned.
Whole Peeled Tomatoes
The better the tomatoes, the better your sauce. Obviously, when you have so few ingredients in a recipe, inferior quality in any of them can affect your final product. I only use tomatoes from Italy, and San Marzano are the best tasting. Look for whole peeled tomatoes. 
Once the onion has cooked in the olive oil, add one large can of whole peeled tomatoes. Let the tomatoes cook for 5 to 7 minutes to soften a bit, and then take either a potato masher or a pastry dough blender to break up the tomatoes. Set the burner on low and let the sauce simmer, uncovered. (Though I would suggest a splatter screen.)
At this point, add the fresh basil. I love basil, so I use a small bunch. Be sure to wash the basil well and pat dry, then pick the leaves off, discarding the stems. Alternately, you can finely chop the leaves and add them to the sauce that way.
Salt and Pepper
After about 10 to 15 minutes of simmering taste your tomatoes and add salt and pepper to your liking. Continue to simmer the sauce until the extra liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens. (If your tomatoes are particularly watery, or if you like an extra thick sauce, you may add a small can of tomato paste. Again, go for Italian tomatoes.)
You’ll know when your sauce is ready, but in total it shouldn’t take you more than an hour and fifteen minutes. Let me know how yours turns out and Buon Appetito!
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