Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Restaurant Week: Dolce Enoteca

Dolce Enoteca on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week here in LA is turning into restaurant month... with most of the participating restaurants opting to extend their prix fixe menus for another couple of weeks. Last Friday night we went to Dolce Enoteca, one of the Dolce Group restaurants. The place described is often described as being pretty "sceney", but it wasn't as elegant or cool as I was expecting it to be, the tables were really close together, and it was really loud. Most of the food was good. I started with the tuna tartare, which I thought was a weird dish for an Italian restaurant. But, I can almost never pass up a tuna tartare. Both of my dining companions got the fried squid and veggies for their app. They were good, but the apps were probably the least exciting part of the meal. Also, both the apps were fried, with heavy wonton skins for the tuna tartare and a large portion of deep-fried calamari, it left us feeling fuller than we should for a first course.

My entree was the pumpkin ravioli which was great. The pasta was light and the filling very flavorful. The sauce was a buttery but also very light. The shrimp linguini dish both of my companions ordered was uninspired, but still light and flavorful, although my ravioli was the best.

I loved my dessert: super light and crispy tiny canoli with a ricotta cheese filling specked with chocolate chips and candies citrus. They may have been better than my mom's.... the chocolate lava cake was super chocolaty, almost too much "cocoa" taste for me. The tiramisu wasn't very good: it was too light and airy without enough richness and flavor to it.

Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante
8284 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA

Friday, February 6, 2009

Baked Pasta

I made a delious baked pasta recipe a few weeks ago to bring to a friend's house. It was a great dish for that.. I was able to grab it from the oven and put it directly in my car. It rested in the car and by the time I arrived, it was ready to serve. The original recipe is actually a Baked Ziti with Sausage recipe from AllRecipes.com but I made a couple of modifications, one of which was pureeing the onions which I think really made a difference. You could leave out the sausage for a vegetarian dish and probably use a ziti, penne or even maybe a medium-sized shell pasta. I used a rigatoni because the supermarket here didn't have ziti, but it came out great. Try to pick a pasta with lines as opposed to a smooth pasta because the lines will hold the cheese, sauce, and/or meat.

Baked Pasta

  • 1 (16 ounce) package dry ziti pasta or other shape

  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage, ground or links (optional)

  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce, divided

  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

  2. Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the ziti, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.

  3. While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. If you are using a link sausage, cut the links into 1/2 inch pieces before cooking. Add the sausage, and cook and stir until brown, about 10 minutes. Drain sausage and set aside.

  4. Put the chopped onion, garlic, and about a 1/4 cup of the ricotta in a food processor and puree. Add the rest of the ricotta, egg, and spices, and puree until smooth. Add to a large bowl.

  5. If using ground sausage, stir the cooked, ground sausage into the ricotta mixture. If using linked sausage, don't mix in the sausage. If using no sausage, ignore this part!

  6. Stir the drained pasta into the ricotta mixture and add 1/2 of one jar of the pasta sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  7. Now it's time to layer the dish. Cover the bottom of your baking dish with 1/2 jar of sauce, then layer in 1/2 of the pasta/ricotta mixture, then the sausage link slices if you have them, another 1/2 jar of sauce, then 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Then layer the remaining 1/2 of pasta, 1/2 jar of sauce, then 1/2 of the cheese.

  8. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.

  9. Bake in the preheated oven until heated through, about 20 minutes. Uncover; return to the oven and bake until cheese is melted, 5 to 10 more minutes.

Mexican Sloppy Joes

I just made such a delicious, quick, healthy, cheap meal that I have to share it with you. Of course, I was just throwing things in a pan and not thinking anything great would come out of it so I don't have exact measurements but here goes:

Mexican Sloppy Joes (for one)
Delicious and less than 300 calories!
  • 1.5 Tablespoons diced onion

  • 4 oz lean ground turkey (I crumbled up a pre-portioned turkey burger, you could use beef if you prefer).

  • A little less than a Tablespoon of taco seasoning. I keep a big container of this in the house.

  • A squeeze of Contadina pizza squeeze (I like to keep this in the fridge, that way I can always throw together an English muffin pizza). You could also use a little tomato sauce or ketchup for this recipe.

  • I used Orowheat (or Thomas') on the east coast Double Fiber English muffins for a bun, but you could use any bun or bread really.

  1. Spray a pan with olive oil spray and heat it up. Add your onions for a minute.

  2. Crumble in the meat, add the seasoning and sauce.

  3. Cook until browned and place on the bottom of the toasted English muffin or bun and top with the other one.