Tag Archives: Italian

Due Lire Serves up a Delicious Wine Dinner

1 Oct
Massimo Di Vuolo behind the bar at Due Lire

Massimo Di Vuolo behind the bar at Due Lire

Since I had my son, getting out to restaurants has become harder and harder. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I still make a great effort to eat out three or four times a month, but when we do go out to a restaurant, we’ve started staying closer to the neighborhood. One of our absolute favorite staples is Due Lire. The genius behind owner, Massimo Di Vuolo and chef, Kevin Abshire, is one of those rare dynamics that is few and far between. Massimo brings forth his hospitality experience and expertise and Chef Kevin has developed a reintroduction to fine Italian dining. My husband and I may have become creatures of habit, but dear lord do Massimo and Chef Kevin make it easy to come to Due Lire time and time again.

This past Thursday, Due Lire hosted their first (of many, rumor has it!) wine dinners. I will save the suspense. It was amazing. Each course was thoughtfully created and expertly executed and the wine pairings were perfection. Oh, and it was only $65 a person, including tax and gratuity. It was also one of those great neighborhood experiences where people shared tables and got to mix and mingle with each other.

The menu started out with the antipasto, of fresh figs, citrus whipped mascarpone, honeycomb and brioche toast. This was all paired with a cataratto bianco blend from Tasca D’Almerita Leone Igt, 2009. The unoaked and vibrant flavors picked up on the citrus in the mascarpone. A sweep and delightfully light first course.

The primo course was straccetti al ragu’ di faraona, which was homemade rag-shaped pasta, guinea hen ragu’, porcini and fresh pomegranate. This was paired with Tenuta di Fessina Erse Etna Rossa, a level red that picked up the rich guinea hen and porcini. The homemade pasta was divine and held court among the other savory flavors.

Next up was tonno alla scapece, seared ahi tuna loin, scapece style zucchini, and a petite fennel salad. This was paired with a crisp Tasca d’Almerita le Rose di Regaleali. The crisp rose paired with the superbly prepared tuna was an amazing combination. The only thing that didn’t coordinate with this course was the crisp fall weather, but when planning for an event in September, you never know what it’ll be like outside!

The dessert course was poached pear, fried dunbarton blue pastry cream with a pistachio brittle. This was accompanied with a glass of Tasca d’Almerita Lamuri Nero d’Avola, a robust and juicy Italian red. The blue cheese pastry with the pears (poached in simple syrup) was perfect. I love sweet and savory together and the blue pastry was a well matched blend of those flavors.

Congratulations to the entire team at Due Lire (Massimo, Kevin, Kelly, Cyndi, and everyone else)- I know that it was a lot of work to put this first event together, but they really nailed it and everyone (literately, EVERYONE) was buzzing about when the next dinner would be. Whenever it is, I’ll be there. But I’m pretty sure I’ll be there in a week or two regardless. And so should you.

 

 

Sinfully Simple Lasagna

9 Oct

 

Lasagna from Women's Day

Lasagna from Women's Day

 

Growing up, my mom was known throughout my family, immediate and extended, for her signature lasagna. I have memories of her making pan after pan for large family parties out in eastern Long Island; she even catered my uncle’s wedding with lasagna. So needless to say, the term lasagna was always one associated with much labor and ferocity. But my God was it delicious.

As I started to dabble in the kitchen, lasagna remained one of those culinary entities that intimidated the hell out of me. Visions of bubbling sauce, boiling noodles, messy aprons danced through my head. But it was the New Years eve of my sophomore year in college that I decided to embark on the quest to serve lasagna at a party with friends.

I called my mom, got her recipe and set forth. It wasn’t pretty. But, it wasn’t that bad. Once I was able to wrap my brain around it (sauce, noodle, ricotta, cheese, sauce and repeat) I realized this could be a really fun dish to improvise and play around with.

Fast forward 10 years and I still enjoy making lasagna. I love to add veggies, flavor aspects, etc… And just recently, I discovered the most amazing tool out there to even further simplify this no-longer-as-scary-as-I-thought dish: no-boil noodles. I thought they were a myth. I thought they would taste like leather (and maybe to more refined pasta pallets, they do, but not to me).  Turns out, the no-boil noodles just got lasagna back into our monthly meal rotation. This is also a great meal because you get a ton of leftovers for lunch throughout the week.

So in honor of my mother, who I love, and her famous lasagna, here is my, ridiculousy easy version of her acclaimed favorite:

Sinfully Simple Lasagna

*Please note- I don’t, ever, follow recipes to a T, so you’ll have to forgive that when I share my recipes, they’ll look like I how I prepare them- lots of guesstimates.*

  • Box of no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 jars of tomato sauce
  • Veggies (I like carrots, spinach, and mushrooms- but add whatever you want here)
  • 1.5-2 cups of Ricotta cheese
  • 1 large log of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese
  1. First things first: turn on the oven to 350.
  2. In a large lasagna-like dish, wipe a bit of olive oil on the pan and then put a layer of sauce on the bottom.
  3. Add noodles so they don’t overlap but cover the pan
  4. Add more sauce
  5. Add dollops of ricotta throughout, on top of the sauce
  6. Add a thin layer of shredded mozzarella cheese
  7. Add veggies (here I would add spinach and mushrooms)
  8. Add another layer of sauce
  9. Add noodles again
  10. Add more sauce
  11. (Do you see the pattern here?!)
  12. Add ricotta
  13. Add veggies (here I’d add the carrots)
  14. Add a little more sauce
  15. Layer the top with mozzarella cheese and fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
  16. Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes to an hour (the top should be browning, melted and bubbling).

VOILA!