Sunday, March 20, 2011

Playing catch up from the past week

Even though I've only had a couple entries this past week, don't you worry - I've been busy, both inside the kitchen and out. I just wanted to share a few things from this past week. If you remember, last Sunday I made a homemade tomato sauce, some of which I've put in the freezer for later and some of which I kept in the fridge for immediate use.

Mushroom Tomato Pasta
With some mushrooms that needed to be used and a bottle of red already opened I thought this would be an easy way to make something a little more interesting than just pasta with sauce. There isn't necessarily a recipe here - but saute some sliced mushrooms in a little olive oil and garlic, and then add red wine to add some extra flavor to the tomato sauce. Mushrooms cook pretty quickly, so I wouldn't even start this part until your water is already boiling and you've added your pasta to the pot. Once the mushrooms have cooked in the red wine for a couple minutes you can add some of the tomato sauce you made earlier in the week.

Add the pasta back into the sauce - be sure you haven't overcooked the pasta because it will keep cooking if you have it in the sauce for too long. You also shouldn't need any additional seasonings, like salt and pepper because you would have already seasoned your tomato sauce to your liking!
Simply grate some fresh parmesan over the top and viola, you're done! Serve and enjoy with a nice glass of red wine (because like I always say, only cook with wine you'll actually drink!)
With a busy schedule sometimes it helps to have dishes like this that I can easily put together. Another tip of mine is to create more than one portion of dishes when you're preparing them. Then you can easily grab one to bring for lunch during the work week, or heat one up after a long day at work when you don't have time to cook a new meal. You can do the same thing with something like fruit salad! I love having a variety of fruits, but when I buy 3 or 4 kinds to make a fruit salad I want to spread it out and not eat just strawberries one day and watermelon another. So I spend the time on a single day cutting everything up and dividing into tupperware - like I did yesterday, at right, with red grapes, strawberries and watermelon! Despite the fact that none of these are "in season" it was delicious!
And finally, I enjoyed a lovely meal out with my parents in Arlington last night. My mother and I discovered this restaurant sometime last year and have been wanting to get back there with my dad for a while now - fantastic Italian food and a nice atmosphere.

Buona Vita
450 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA
We arrived to find that the restaurant was extending their restaurant week deal through the end of March, so after looking at the extensive menu selection my father and I decided to take advantage of the 3-course menu. Although the prices are a bit high, if you're looking for a good Italian restaurant for a special occasion, this is a great place to check out. The bread basket they bring to the table when you sit down is great - 2 different kinds of bread, both warmed and served with balsamic and oil for dipping!
We started off sharing a Caprese salad - nice presentation, but it's not exactly the right time of the year for this dish. The tomatoes didn't have that fresh-picked-from-the-garden taste - and I would've liked more fresh basil. One of my biggest complaints when I order Caprese out is that the ratio of mozzarella to tomato is always off - not enough tomato so you end up with lots of mozzarella left to eat on its own. The balsamic was a nice touch.
My primi course was a roasted asparagus dish with polenta and mozzarella. I would've liked to have seen a couple more stalks of asparagus, but they were cooked great - not too much and still a little firm. The polenta was deliciously creamy, which worked for this dish (rather than a firmer polenta).
My father's primi was Steamed Mussles in a Sorrento Lemon Broth. For those that don't know where Sorrento is, it's the citrus capital of Italy - so the name of the dish worked, and explained perfectly just how lemony these mussels were. The mussels were on the small side, but were packed full of flavor. My favorite part - the lemony broth left at the bottom after the mussels were gone, perfect for dipping their delicious bread into.
Next came our main courses:
My mother ordered the same dish that she got last time we came here, Paparadelle con Funghi y Salvia because we both remembered it being absolutely delicious. It's a homemade pasta with a combination of different types of mushrooms in a creamy sage sauce that's not too rich.
I have a hard time not ordering gnocchi when it's on a menu, so I, of course, went for the Potato Gnocchi Sorrentina with Tomatoes and Mozzarella. It was a huge portion, given how heavy gnocchi can be - but I totally appreciated how much tomato sauce it came in, because I love how the sauce covers each little individual gnocchi perfectly. The sauce also had a bite to it - a little spice cooked into the sauce, which probably helped me to eat less than I could've.
Finally, my father ordered the Veal Saltimbocca over Fettucine Alfredo and he ate every single bit of what was on this plate. I only tried the fettucine, but it was tasty - the creamy sauce wasn't too rich and the fettucine was cooked perfectly al dente! Saltimbocca means - with prosciutto, mozzarella and sage - and my dad was completely happy with his selection. These dishes are all great examples of how their food portions are good, but not huge and overwhelming.
Because we got the 3-course restaurant week menu, we also got two desserts - a cannoli and a tiramisu. Both were good, but not great. The tiramisu was served in a stemless wine glass, which was a strange serving dish for this dessert. The creamy pudding-like mixture was delicious, but the bread part of the tiramisu, usually lady fingers, was a bit dry and thick. The espresso flavor also didn't seem as strong as it usually is. I'm fairly picky about my cannolis - this one was good, had a slight hint of lemon flavor, which was a nice surprise. I could do without ordering dessert next time though.

1 comment:

  1. The Academic ChefApril 25, 2011 at 3:31 PM

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