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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie

01/20/2019

~ Florentine-Style Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Sauce ~

IMG_7613Creamy cheese sauces have a place in my food world -- not a big place, but a place.  My attitude toward them is to use them judiciously, in a manner that does not overpower the dish being served, and, in moderation, so as not to tip the scale.  To my credit, I have developed my own versions of more than a few:  Easy Boursin, Trendy Rasta PastaClassic Mornay, Silky Parmesan-Sherry, Dreamy Gorgonzola, Basic Asiago, and a Kid-Friendly Cheddar.  It is my opinion that, for the most part, all store-bought cheese sauces are a compromise, so, don't debate it, just grate it -- take the few minutes required to make your cheese sauce from scratch.

"A la Florentine" = in the style of Florence, Italy.

"A la Florentine" is an Italian term which refers to egg, fish or seafood dishes prepared "in the style of Florence, Italy", meaning:  they are presented on a bed of spinach and topped with a creamy sauce, usually Mornay sauce, which contains Parmesan cheese.  What about the chicken Florentine we all love?  Well, it originated here in America and was made famous by upscale French restaurants back in the 1960's, where it remains ensconced today.  I for one am a spinach lover, and I am here to tell you:  eating spinach in this context is a downright decadent, indulgent, somewhat noble experience.  If you are convinced you don't like spinach -- get over it.

The green thing called Florentine = spinach (fresh vs. frozen):

IMG_7572As a spinach lover, I'm grateful to whomever developed the process for industrially cleaning and packaging it washed, dried and in bags. Why? Handling spinach "au natural" is labor intensive from the standpoint it must be meticulously cleaned of sandy grit, and, it can't get overly-wet while doing that because it loses its integrity quickly. Then, the tough stems need to be snipped.  While I recommend using fresh spinach for most Florentine recipes, if all you have is frozen spinach, worry not, all sorts of Florentine-style dishes turn out uncompromisingly fine using frozen, and, it's perfect for this creamy, full-flavored, cheese sauce.

1 lb. fresh spinach, cook & drained = 1 1/2 cups = 1, 10-ounce box frozen

6a0120a8551282970b0223c84e9c88200c 6a0120a8551282970b0224df3654e5200b~ Step 1.  I can think of many instances to use fresh spinach, but this quick-and-easy weeknight-meal sauce is not one of them -- frozen chopped spinach yields the right amount every time with no need to cook it.  Thaw the spinach overnight in the refrigerator or in a colander placed in the sink with cold water dribbling over it.  Once thawed, wad the spinach up in several layers of paper towels and squeeze as hard as possible to remove as much liquid as possible.  Kept covered in the refrigerator, this task can be done a day ahead. 

Looking for a cheese sauce for pasta, veggies, chicken, fish or seafood?  If so, try mine.  It's great w/cheese, lobster or mushroom ravioli too.

IMG_75764  tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon each:  dehydrated minced onion and garlic, and, garlic and onion powder

1/2-3/4  teaspoon each:  sea salt and red pepper flakes, to taste

1-1 1/2  cups heavy or whipping cream, to control consistency

1  cup whole milk ricotta cheese

4  tablespoons finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1, 10-ounce box frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained

fresh pasta or ravioli, your choice

a garnish of red pepper flakes

IMG_7578 IMG_7578 IMG_7578 IMG_7578 IMG_7589 IMG_7589 IMG_7589 IMG_7589~Step 2.  In a 12" nonstick skillet over low, heat the olive oil.  Add and stir in the dry seasonings. Add cream to skillet and increase heat to bring it to the point of steaming or barely simmering. Stir in the ricotta and the Parm-Regg.  Simmer very gently for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the spinach and continue stirring until spinach is heated through.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.

In a world full of so much wrong, one thing is very right: 

IMG_7610Florentine-Style Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Sauce:  Recipe yields 2 1/2 cups sauce, enough to coat 1 1/2-2 pounds pasta or ravioli.

Special Equipment List:  small colander; paper towels; microplane grater; 12" nonstick skillet; large spoon

IMG_7567Cook's Note: Knowing how to make a super-quick cheese sauce is indispensable for any number of reasons. Friends can drop by without notice, a snowstorm requires some pantry cooking, or, the craving for something rich, creamy, cheesy and comforting must be quelled. For another cheese sauce that takes about the same time to make and is appropriate for pasta, vegetables, chicken, fish or seafood, try my recipe of ~ Easy Boursin Sauce for Pasta, Seafood & Veggies ~.  My refrigerator is never without Boursin.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

01/17/2019

~ Du Pain, du Vin, du Cinq Boursin Cheese Recipes ~

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3d2399a200bBoursin cheese has been the star of KE the past ten days, and, it has enjoyed a delicious run. While some might question, or find themselves bored with, my little foray into Boursin (a most delicious form of French cheesefeed), there is always a reason behind one of my obsessions.  In the case of the plethora of Boursin recipes, there are three reasons.  #1.  When someone asks, I always answer, and, I did --  with my recipe for Boursin mashed potatoes.  #2.  In our food world, food is expensive -- if I'm going to recommend purchasing a special or pricey ingredient, I'm going to provide a variety of ways to use it.  #3. In my food world, every recipe has a story, and every ingredient does too, and, the history of Boursin cheese is quite interesting.  Read on:

Boursin is classified as a French "specialty" cheese.  This soft, spreadable cow's milk cheese has a creamy, buttery texture and a full flavor, similar to cream cheese.  Boursin was the creation of François Boursin in 1957, in Normandy.  It was "his take" on the French tradition of serving cheese with an assortment of minced, fresh herbs, which guests sprinkled atop the cheese to suit their own palate. When purchasing Boursin, if the package does not say "all natural Gournay cheese", it is not authentic Boursin.  "Gournay" is the word François Boursin picked (naming it after the town he grew up in) when he was required to declare its origin to customs officials.  

The Boursin brand was first advertised on television in France using the slogan, "Du pain, du vin, du Boursin", meaning, "some bread, some wine, some Boursin".

~ Buttery-Rich and Cream-Cheesy Copycat Boursin ~

IMG_7362~ Mushrooms Stuffed w/Garlic & Fine Herbs Boursin ~

IMG_9836~ Herbaceous Caramelized-Onion & Boursin Burgers ~

IMG_7487~ Easy Boursin Sauce for Pasta, Seafood & Veggies ~

IMG_7567~ Buttery-Rich & Boursin-Cheesy Whipped Potatoes ~

IMG_7290"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos Courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

01/15/2019

~ Easy Boursin Sauce for Pasta, Seafood & Veggies ~

IMG_7567Knowing how to make a super-quick cheese sauce is indispensable for any number of reasons. Friends can drop by without notice, a snowstorm requires some pantry cooking, or, the craving for something rich, creamy, cheesy and comforting must be quelled.  This five-minutes to make sauce is as delicious as it is easy, which is what makes it more than worthy of a blog post.  Both Joe and I love it tossed into pasta (sometimes with some chards of roasted chicken thrown in too), it's a fantastic sauce for seafood (if you're not a purist about cheese and seafood together), and, kids (or at two out of my three) eat steamed vegetables drizzled with it.  I rest my case.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3ad8985200dBoursin is classified as a "specialty" cheese, but, I classify it as "party cheese" -- serve it at a party with crackers or toasts and people flock to it.  This cow's milk cheese has a creamy, buttery texture and a full flavor, similar to cream cheese, which makes it perfect to serve with wine or cocktails.  The Boursin brand is available in five flavors, (Garlic & Fine Herbs is my favorite). Whichever one you choose, there are two constants in each variety of Boursin:  garlic and peppercorns.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3ce3d7c200bBoursin was the creation of François Boursin in 1957, in Normandy.  It was "his take" on the French tradition of serving cheese with an assortment of minced, fresh herbs, which guests sprinkled atop the cheese to suit their own palate. Here's one last bit of trivia: When you are purchasing Boursin, if the package does not say "all natural Gournay cheese on it", it is not authentic Boursin.  "Gournay" is the word François Boursin picked (naming it after the town he grew up in) when he was required to declare its origin to customs officials.  The Boursin brand was first advertised on television in France using the slogan, "Du pain, du vin, du Boursin", meaning, "some bread, some wine, some Boursin".

IMG_7519For my, Boursin cheese sauce:

2  tablespoons salted butter

1/2  teaspoon each: dehydrated minced garlic and onion, garlic and onion powder, sea salt and white pepper

1  cup whole milk

2  5.2-ounce wheels Boursin cheese

IMG_7521 IMG_7521 IMG_7521 IMG_7521 IMG_7521 IMG_7521 IMG_7521 IMG_7521~Step 1.  In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Stir in the spices.  Add the milk and adjust heat to steaming -- do not simmer or boil.  Add one wheel of Boursin to the milk mixture, break it up into pieces with the side of a large spoon and stir until Boursin has melted into the mixture.  Add the second wheel of Boursin and repeat the process.  Remove from heat.

Toss 3/4-1 cup sauce into 12-16 ounces cooked pasta:

IMG_7554Easy Boursin Sauce for Pasta, Seafood & Veggies:  Recipe yields 2 cups/16 ounces cheese sauce, which is enough to sauce 1 1/2 -2 pounds pasta.  Reheat sauce gently on the stovetop or microwave.  Does not freeze well.

Special Equipment List:  1-cup measuring container; 1 1/2-quart saucepan w/lid; large spoon

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3ad8985200dCook's Note: While I am almost never without Boursin in my refrigerator, my ~ Buttery-Rich and Cream Cheesy Copycat Boursin ~, is almost as quick to make as Boursin sauce. Making a case for making Boursin is easy:  Sans the spices (which I have on hand all the time), you can make twice as much for half the price.  Example:  One wheel of store-bought Boursin costs almost $8.00.  I can make two wheels for slightly less than $4.00. Suffice it to say, "it makes cents".

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)