At Mimi's Table

. . . lessons from an older and wiser girl

Lemon Pasta from John Alberti

It doesn’t get any easier than this. Lemon Pasta is inexpensive to make, easy and quick to prepare, and is a delicious lemony, cheesy pasta delight. Lemon Pasta is a perfect main dish or as a side dish served alongside any lightly grilled protein.

I discovered this recipe watching Hoda and Kathie Lee while I was getting a mani/pedi. Devine intervention. I love lemon, in whatever form it comes. Lemon has such a pleasing and uplifting scent. Any lemon carcasses are put through the garbage disposal for a lingering, fresh-smelling aroma. Take a look at a lemon-sour cherry coffee cake I love to bake: Macrina Bakery Lemon Sour Cherry Coffee CakeSeriously delicious.

The ladies were cooking up dishes made with lemons and the Alberti twins, John & Tony. While downing shots of Limoncello between bites of pasta and Limoncello cake. Looked like a very happy show! Then, Huda and Kathie Lee always have a happy show.

Anyway, I can’t take credit for Lemon Pasta. John Alberti gets all the credit. (As well as the photo.) It’s such an easy and basic recipe. I’m certain every Italian nonna around the world has made something very similar, if not the exact recipe. Don’t leave out the fresh basil. In addition to lemon, I love the flavor and smell of basil – a refreshing and sensory herb. A girlfriend of mine sent me home with a hunk from her garden that I used here. Thanks, Cindy!

I prepared half the recipe for us served with a leftover salmon filet and a big green salad. No garlic bread, unless you love your carbs. There are plenty of carbs in the pasta. (I love carbs, but we need to watch our dietary intake.  Garlic bread is now on our “I have to have now it or I’ll die” list.)  Or it can be made with low-carb pasta or pasta made from quinoa or whole wheat. There are so many options available now.

Get out the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, basil, and linguine. Buon appetito!

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Lemon Pasta from John Alberti
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
It doesn't get any easier than this. Lemon Pasta is inexpensive to make, easy and quick to prepare, and is a delicious lemony, cheesy pasta delight. Lemon Pasta is a perfect main dish with a big green salad, or as a side dish served alongside any lightly grilled protein.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound linguini
  • ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • Salt & Pepper as needed
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook linguini according to package directions to slightly less than "al dente."
  2. While the pasta is cooking, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and basil in a large saute pan. Heat over medium heat.
  3. With tongs, lift the cooked pasta out of the pot and into the saute pan with the lemon sauce. Use tongs to integrate the sauce and pasta. Remove the saute pan from the heat.
  4. Add grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Lift with tongs until incorporated. Add the fresh basil, and toss again to incorporate.
  5. Serve with extra grated Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh basil.
Notes
Lemon Pasta may be served as a main dish with a big green salad, or as a side dish for lightly grilled fish or meat.
Substitute any pasta alternative for linguine: quinoa, bean, gluten-free, whole wheat. Cook according to package directions.

 

 

Copyright, At Mimi's Table 2013-2019, All Rights Reserved

Jessica’s Outstanding Roast Turkey

at mimi's table thanksgiving turkey with jessica

I have always prepared the Thanksgiving meal, even if it was cooked at my daughter’s house. Last year, I roasted the turkey at my home and carted it over to Jessica’s house. She prepared the side dishes.

This year, Jessica decided to stuff and roast the bird herself! She and I discussed techniques, but it was all her doing. Could not have been prouder of my girl! She used the same recipes we’ve created for 20 years or more. (Stuffing recipe is 50+ years old.) Hers was a much better turkey than I’ve roasted for a long time. Moist, beautifully browned and juicy.

For your dedication and bravery! For your outstanding skills! For a WONDERFUL BIRD! You are beautiful and bold!

I, your mother, present you with the 2017 Turkey Cup!

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Congratulations, my darling. You deserve it!

What were Jessica’s tricks of the trade, you may ask?

She didn’t brine her turkey. (Egads) She bought a lovely 21-pound Butterball, which is self-basting. She used a Martha Stewart concoction of white wine and butter to baste her turkey during the first two hours of roasting.  (3 sticks of butter melted in 1 bottle of Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc held warm on the stove burner as the basting continues.) Cheesecloth is drenched in the wine/butter mixture and the cloth is gently placed over the breast and drumsticks during the first two hours of roasting. Then the cheesecloth is removed. And in addition to her roasting – she tented the turkey breast and tops of the legs in between the first two hours to keep the skin from browning too quickly. Genius!

Jessica also put a piece of aluminum foil in the roasting pan underneath the turkey so the bird didn’t flop around during the steady rotation and basting in the pan. GENIUS!

And it was much easier to collect the drippings for making gravy. We ran warm turkey stock over the pan drippings to release the tasty brown bits and added it to the gravy pot.  Phenomenal. GENIUS!

Awesome Thanksgiving meal. I’m looking forward to next year!  Love you!

Quick Blueberry Slab Pie

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I adore any sort of pie. Sweet or savory, it makes no difference. And I love blueberries.

My mother made the best pie crust for 60 years. For a two-crust 9″ pie it was 2 cups flour, 2/3 Crisco, 2 teaspoons sugar, pinch of salt, and 4-6 Tablespoons ice water. That was it! I made her crust for years until I got my Cuisinart and read online that all butter was a better way to go.

Phooey! I over mixed in the food processor. Beside the fact that butter is  more expensive, I didn’t care for the flavor of a butter crust. I know! Right? What’s wrong with me?

Lard makes everything better, especially pie crust. So I’ve settled on a new mix: 2 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup cold lard, 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, 1 Tablespoon sugar, pinch of salt, and 5-7 Tablespoons ice water.

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My kids and grandchildren were coming over for dinner Sunday. I always make dessert for a Sunday meal, particularly because the boys were coming. I love to spoil them!

I decided a slab pie would do the trick! Sweeten us up and leftovers! I wasn’t in the mood to make pie crust, and I’d have to make a lot for such a big pie. Alas, I reverted to refrigerated store bought pie crust. And fresh blueberries – how simple and quick is that. Just rinse ’em off and they’re ready to be baked up into a scrumptious pie!

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Here’s a tip!

If you decide to make this delicious slab pie or any slab pie, you’ll need two boxes of refrigerated pie crust. When you roll it out, place one circle on top of the other, and then roll it into a rectangle. And do the same for the top crust.

It was the perfect size. More than enough to drape over the sides of a jelly roll pan (15″x10″), and to crimp the edges.

A college roommate of mine bakes pies and desserts for her restaurant. She told me that store bought crusts are made with lard. Wow! That does make a difference. The finished crust is flaky and browns beautifully.

Admittedly, over the years I developed into a pie crust snob, believing homemade ones were the only way to go. After all, Mom did it all her adult life. I’ve had to rethink my attitude about refrigerated store bought pie crust. Think of it this way – I will bake more pies! Yes!!

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Let’s Bake!

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Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Roll the bottom crust and place it in a 15″x10″ jelly roll pan.

Put 2-3 pounds of fresh blueberries in a bowl. Add zest of one lemon – blueberries and lemon are remarkable. Mix and set aside.

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In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3 Tablespoons flour (or cornstarch or tapioca flour – I use tapioca to thicken fruit pies.) Mix and pour over the blueberries. Gently mix until all the berries are coated with the flour mixture.

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Pour the berry mixture into the crust. Really, I could have used 3 pounds of berries and will next time.

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Roll the top crust and place over the filling and edges of the pan. Crimp along the outside. And, using a sharp paring knife, cut vents along the sides of the top crust. And cut something cute in the middle -I designed an “M” for Mimi!

Brush the top with a beaten egg. I sprinkled demerara sugar on top. You can use regular sugar, but I like the color and texture of demerara on flaky pastry desserts. It also adds a little crunch.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the berry juices bubble and the crust is golden, brown, and delicious.

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I mean, seriously, in 20 minutes my slab pie was in the oven. Remarkable!

Try your hand at one. Don’t like blueberries, use sour pie cherries or apples, make a lemon meringue slab pie or how about strawberry-rhubarb? Yum!

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Mimi’s Fast & Easy Shrimp Fajitas

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During the hot days of summer, we are all looking for a flavorful, healthy and quick meal. I frequently turn to fresh seafood as an alternative to traditional grilled burgers and dogs or dinner salad.

A family favorite and crowd pleaser, you can’t go wrong with are Mimi’s Fast & Easy Shrimp Fajitas.

Oh, so simple! Oh, so quick! Oh, so DELICIOUS!!

I serve the fajitas, whether they’re shrimp, chicken or beef, with warm flour tortillas along sides of Mexican Rice or Refried Beans, and a simple green salad. As an added bonus, this dish is gluten-free, if you use gluten-free flour or corn tortillas. If you’re filled with ambition, you should make or learn to make homemade flour tortillas.Takes the “quick” out of it, but still. Some store-bought brands can be very good, like El Milagro. But like everything homemade, they’re just better tasting. I did make my own every week for many years to serve at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Awesome!

I think my Mexican-ex-mother-in-law would get a kick out the fact that I cook so much Mexican food – mainly inspired by her. My mom would make out-of-this-world tacos, but rarely ventured out of that comfort zone. When I married, I learned so much about Carmen’s Mexican cooking. She taught me a lot. She always made her own tortillas, and she was lickity-split! Amazing!

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Let’s Cook!

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I like to buy raw shrimp in the 20-25/pound range that have been shelled and deveined. It makes the process simple and quick. You can use frozen shrimp – it doesn’t take long to thaw. All you do is put the frozen shrimp in a bowl and fill it with cool tap water. In about 20 minutes, the shrimp are ready to use. I plan on 1/3 pound of shrimp per person. One pound will feed three gracious eaters or two voracious ones.

Sometimes even cleaned and shelled shrimp can leave behind bits and pieces of the black vein running down the middle. I always run the tip of a paring knife down along the track to make sure the black stuff is gone. According to seafood sources, you don’t have to. But why wouldn’t you? It looks awful. And it’s good to run your fingers through the water to check for any pieces of shells wandering aimlessly around.

Rinse the resultant shrimp well in cold water, drain well, and layer on a baking sheet lined with a double thickness of paper towels. Place a paper towel on top, and pat dry. It’s good to have the shrimp as dry as possible so they’ll sear well in a hot skillet.

Now, spray the tops lightly with cooking spray. Season lightly with salt and pepper. If you want to add some spice, it’s a good time to sprinkle with any or all of your favorite Mexican spices: ground cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper. Whatever you prefer. Set aside while you prep the vegetables.

at mimi's table shrimp fajitas vegetables

For one pound of shrimp, I use one medium onion cut in half and then into strips. One red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into strips. One large jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced. And one clove of garlic, minced.

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The next step goes quickly. Have a serving plate or serving bowl at the ready for the vegetables as they come off the heat.

Heat a griddle over or a large skillet to medium-high heat. A cast iron griddle or skillet would be ideal, but not imperative. I use a 12″ iron skillet when I’m cooking one pound of shrimp, and a larger griddle over two burners when I cook larger quantities.

Add two tablespoons of olive or neutral cooking oil to the skillet and spread it around to cover the bottom. Add the sliced onions, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and cook quickly, stir-fry style, until the edges begin to brown and the onions begin to wilt. Quick cooking will help the onions keep their shape and stay crunchy.

Add the red peppers, jalapeno, and garlic to the skillet. Again, quickly stir-fry the vegetables until the peppers are heated through and the garlic becomes fragrant.

Put the cooked vegetables in your serving bowl or plate. (I use a flat oval 3-quart Pyrex dish.) Set aside and keep warm. Don’t cover with foil or plastic wrap, because the veggies should keep their bite. Covering them will steam them, and the vegetables will be mushy. Still delicious, but you know. I usually put them in an unheated oven or in the microwave.

In the same skillet over medium-high heat, layer the shrimp in a single layer, seasoned side down.

Cook for 2-3 minutes until the shrimp just begin to turn pink and a little carmelization is happening around the edges.

One-by-one, flip the shrimp to cook on the other side – 1-2 minutes max. The shrimp should be cooked through, but tender. Overcooking will make them tough. Sprinkle with the juice of half a lemon.
Spoon the shrimp over the cooked vegetables.

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And there you have it!
Fresh, fragrant, juicy, steamy, delicious!
And QUICK!

Here are some condiment
suggestions for the fajitas:

Let’s Eat!

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Cheese Enchiladas in Mole

at mimi's table ultimate cheese enchiladas jeff mauro

This recipe comes under my blog heading of “Tasty Tryouts.” Recently, I decided to try different recipes I discover on cooking shows, food magazines and blogs and share my new favorites with you.

Ultimate Cheesey Enchiladas is a recipe from Jeff Mauro (The Sandwich King), who is one of the hosts of Food Network’s The Kitchen, and winner of Food Network Star in 2011. His recipe appealed to me because I love Mexican food and I adore anything that resembles molé. (Eating Rick Bayless’ molé at his Chicago restaurant, Frontera Grill, is on my bucket list.)

My Mexican mother-in-law introduced me to molé in the 1970’s when she made enchiladas with leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Wow! My taste buds were changed forever, and her enchiladas became a family and friend staple made with turkey or chicken. I developed a craving that was intensified with every bite. Here’s Carmen’s way of making Turkey Enchiladas in Molé.

While Mauro’s enchilada sauce is not a true molé, it’s awful close to the real thing – a dark rich sauce flavored with cocoa, ancho and chipolte chile powders and it’s quick to put together. I would substitute his in a heartbeat for anything molé based.

There’s a generous helping of cheesy goodness for the enchiladas. This time in addition to the cheese I added some leftover shredded chicken and roasted Anaheim or long green peppers commonly used for chili rellenos (a recipe I have yet to master).

Normally, I use flour tortillas rather than corn. In the old days, I made my own, as did my mother-in-law. But now, I rely on tortillas from El Milagro, corn or flour, you can’t go wrong with this brand. I’ve eaten them since my childhood, and nothing else store bought comes close. If you’re adventuresome, many Mexican grocers sell their own homemade concentrated molé in paste form that can be reconstituted with chicken stock. A good idea to try one.

Cheese Enchiladas in Molé is not difficult to make, but there are several steps. Don’t be intimidated. It’s a delicious recipe well worth trying. We loved it! Thanks, Jeff! Tasty, indeed.

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Let’s Get Cooking!

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Roast the chiles on all sides until the skin blisters on all sides. Remove to a plastic bowl covered with plastic wrap or into a ziploc bag. Let the chiles steam until easy to handle.Remove the skin, seeds and inner membrane.
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Dice the chiles. I used one. Or you can skip this step and substitute a can of roasted green chiles from the store. I think you get a better flavor with the real deal, but I also had lots of time on my hands. HA!


Second step, make the molé. The sauce requires a roux of oil and flour. Because the flour can brown very quickly, I like to have all my ingredients measured out and at the ready once the roux is thickened.

So, in a small bowl add:

  • 2 Tablespoons ancho chile powder;
  • 1 Tablespoon chipolte powder;
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder;
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican oregnao;
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder (not garlic salt);
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin.
  • Mix and set aside.

Measure 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth or stock or homemade stock. Set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed 3-quart pot heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil (canola is fine, too) over medium-high heat. Add 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour and whisk the oil and flour until it begins to foam up. Continue whisking until the roux becomes slightly thickened. (2-3 minutes) Don’t let it brown.

Add the spice mix and continue to whisk until the spices become fragrant. (1-2 minutes). Don’t overcook the mixture so you don’t burn or seize the cocoa.

Add the chicken stock. Continue to whisk until the molé is slightly thickened. You don’t want a paste, but a smooth, rich sauce. Add 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar. Stir to combine. Ladle 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9″x 13″ pan. Set aside.

Mimi's Tips

See! There’s really nothing to it. Be forewarned, the chipolte powder has a bit of a kick. If you like it hot, leave it be. I you want a milder molé, use regular or mild chili powder in its place.

at mimi's table cheese enchiladas in mole oaxaca cheese
Shred 16oz of oaxaca; 4oz of sharp cheddar cheese, and 4oz of Monterey Jack cheese. Place in a deep bowl and mix chicken and/or roasted green chiles, if you’re making that addition.

I neglected to take a picture of the shredded cheese in a bowl. Sorry. But here is the star of the show: Oaxaca Cheese. You can find it in any Mexican grocery. I found mine at Kroger. Substitute mozarella, if needed.

According to cheese.com:

Oaxaca, also known as Queso Oaxaca, Asadero or Quesillo is a Mexican name for a semi-soft, white, string-type, Hispanic-style cheese made from cow’s milk. Similar to a Mozzarella, Oaxaca is a stretched curd cheese, kneaded and sold in long ropes gently wound in balls.

One of the artisanal cheeses, Oaxaca has savory mellow buttery flavour and is a great melting cheese. The little salty and mild flavour make it is one of the most popular cheeses for preparing quesadillas. In addition, Oaxaca is an excellent stuffing cheese in baking recipes. In both texture and flavour, it can be compared to a young Monterey Jack cheese. Although the cheese lacks a strong flavour, its mild taste is a favorite with kids.

Learn more about the Oaxaca region of Mexico.

at mimi's table cheese enchiladas in mole wilt corn tortillas

Let’s “wilt” corn tortillas:

Yellow or white corn tortillas, it really doesn’t make a difference. Mauro uses yellow. I used white.

In a medium skillet or iron skillet, heat 1/2 cup of oil until it sizzles when you put a tortilla in. Fry the tortilla for 5 seconds on each side. Yes, 5 seconds per side. You don’t want the tortillas to crisp up, but to “wilt” or pliable to make filling them easier.

Remove the wilted tortillas to a baking sheet lined with paper towels in a single layer, putting paper towels between the layers. For 12 tortillas, I used 3 sheets of paper towels.

This is a standard technique for any enchilada you wish to conjure up.

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Whenever I make enchiladas, I like to roll them on a small baking sheet. Doing so keeps the filling confined, nice and neat. Put 1/4 cup of the filling in the center of the tortilla. Tightly roll the tortilla around the filling, tucking the cheese inside. Place the enchiladas in two rows of six each.

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Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas. Bake uncovered in a 375º oven for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle on the remaining cheese filling.

Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.

I served the gooey, cheesy goodness with sour cream, jarred pickled jalapeno peppers, and a thinly shredded, undressed romaine salad topped with tomatoes. You can also add a side of Spanish rice and/or refried beans, if you want to fill out the plate.

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Olé Molé!!

Delicioso!!

Buen Provecho!!

Mimi