Welcome to the new and improved Carano's Cucina. I make a lot of kick ass food and go out to some amazing restaurants. Take a look around and make yourself at home :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ten Minute Dinner

This is the easiest, quickest (other than calling for take out) dinner you will ever make it and it's delicious.  It was inspired by a recent cooking show that I was watching.  Olive pesto.  Much like regular basil pesto, this is an uncooked sauce so in the amount of time it takes you to boil pasta, that's how long this dish is to make.

I used linguine because it's my favorite and what I had on hand, but I think it would be pretty great with a wider pasta, like a pappardelle.  So get your big pot of water on to boil and make your pasta.  Don't forget to salt your water when it comes to the boil.

While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, drag out your food processor.  Now, you can chop everything with a knife or you can use a mortar and pestle if you prefer.  The food processor makes very quick work of this though so that's what I went with.   You will need about a cup of pitted olives.  I used Kalamata, but I think any good olive would be good.  Just don't use canned olives.  It definitely won't come out the same.  Frankly I wanted to use oil cured Moroccan olives, but they are difficult to pitt so I went with the already pitted Kalamata's.  You will also need a clove or two of garlic, the juice of one lemon, a small bunch of fresh basil (about 10 leaves or so) and a small bunch of fresh Italian parsley (about 1/4 cup).  There is no need to add salt to this because the olives are plenty salty.  But you may want to add some pepper to taste.

Put it all in the food processor and pulse until you have a small chunky consistency.  You don't want it completely smooth but a little texture is nice.

And here's the thing, this is so fast that you even have time to do the painful task of washing the food processor before the pasta is even done!   So set your sauce aside in your favorite zebra bowl and get that pain in the ass thing washed before dinner.  You'll be so happy you did, trust me!

Once the pasta is done, drain with just a little of the pasta water left in the pan (not much, just about a 1/4 cup but you can hold some more aside in case you need it).  And then toss the pasta and the olive pesto in the pan (or a big pasta bowl if you prefer).  

This is absolutely going into my go to recipes.  It was so easy and so good!   I suspect I will make it often and tweak it as I go.  I think it would be great with the addition of pine nuts or maybe some Parmesan cheese (although we did add it to the top after it was done).  Possibly the lemon zest in addition to the juice.  Maybe even some anchovy or hot pepper flakes.  The possibilities are endless!!!


Saturday, March 8, 2014

What Am I Doing at Deagan's Kitchen?

Lakewood.... it's far from where I live, so what am I doing at Deagan's Kitchen in Lakewood, Ohio?  Well, I was headed out for a night on the town, dinner and a play, with my friend Cindy.  We were going to see Carrie, The Musical at the very wonderful Beck Center in Lakewood and it was my job to find a place to dine beforehand.  So looking at places near the Beck, I found Deagan's Kitchen and we decided to give it a whirl.

When the day arrived though, we were both running late and were worried that we might not make it through dinner and to the play on time.  It was a dilemma, but we decided to give it a go.  We got to the restaurant and decided we would tell our waitress that we were in a bit of a hurry.  That worked out well.  She was more than happy to help us along.  We started out with the fabulous roasted nut appetizer.  These were cashews, walnuts, almonds (both regular and Marcona), and pecans.  They were roasted with rosemary and served warm.  I so loved these flavor bombs.  Warm nuts, seriously does it get better?  The aroma alone is intoxicating.

After our nutty appetizer, we decided, because of time constraints, to just get three small plates and share them.  This worked out quite perfectly.  We chose Crisp Eggplant.  These were slices of eggplant fried crispy and rolled with ricotta cheese.  It was served with arugula and stewed plum tomatoes.

We also chose Drunken Goat Cheese Crostini.  Big slices of bread with melted goat cheese.  Served with grapes. prosciutto and drizzled with a balsamic reduction.  I'm not sure what was drunken about it, but it was yummy.

And last but never least, the Shaved Brussel Spouts.  Oh brussel spouts!  I love them so and these were so incredible.  The shaved sprouts are served with bacon, walnuts, smoked blue cheese.  Oh seriously?  Yes, seriously.  I'm in love and I don't even really care much for blue cheese.  

I'd love to return to Deagan's and have an actual dinner but I am in no way complaining about the small plates we did partake in.  They are closed on Monday, but open every other day of the week.   Located at 14810 Detroit Avenue Lakewood, Ohio 44107.  It's been quite a while since I'd been to Lakewood and having lived there for a few years, I didn't recognize it at all.  So much has changed, for the better, which is not to say Lakewood was all that bad.  It as pretty nice when I lived there over 15 years ago.  But wow!  All the restaurants!  I think I need to spend more time there.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Are You Ready for Pronto?

Back in the summer, I had my yearly trek to the National Hamburger Festival in Akron.  It was there that I tried the Green Machine food truck's Italian Burger.  It was by far my winner that year.  It was delish!  Sundried tomato, balsamic caramelized onion, pesto aioli, smoked provolone and prosciutto on top of an Angus beef burger with lettuce and fresh tomato.  Seriously, what's not to love?  It probably sounds like too much, but it wasn't.  In fact, here it is...

Oh yes, look at that beauty!  I was hard pressed not to order it when I went to Pronto, the brick and mortar restaurant that was once the Green Machine.  It was on the menu.  But having had it once, I wanted to try something else.  And I'm also trying to be healthier so a burger and all those extras was probably not the best idea.

But before I get to ahead of myself, Pronto is located at 223 East Highland Road, in Macedonia, OH 44056, where Fat Casual BBQ was once located.  They are open Tuesday thru Saturday for lunch and dinner, closed Sunday and Monday.  It's small and quaint and only seats about 35 tops.  There is even an in house bakery for all the desserts.  The restaurant is billed at Modern Italian American Cuisine and to be honest, the lunch menu doesn't reflect that much.  Which is not a complaint, because the food was damn good.  I haven't been there for dinner, but the menu for dinner does have more Italian fare.  Chef Scott Wnek studied in Bologna, Italy so I can see that there is an Italian flair, just not exclusively Italian food.

I decided on the Vegetarian Sandwich, which was roasted eggplant and roasted tomatoes, arugula, balsamic reduction and garlic herbed goat cheese.  Simple, done well and delicious.  It was to be served with fresh cut fries and pesto aioli dipping sauce.  I asked for a side salad instead and for a small extra price, it was no problem.  It's that pesky healthier eating I mentioned earlier that made me do it!  

The man went with the Cuban.  A little bit of a different take, but a Cuban none the less.  Ham, dijon mayo, pickles, swiss cheese, moho sauce and pulled pork.

He got the fries and while it definitely looked like other plates that went by had a lot more fries, he was ultimately satisfied with the amount he had.  And that pesto aioli?  Fugget about it!!!  That's the stuff right there!  I took a bite of the sandwich and it was pretty damn good.  I liked mine better, but he said the same thing... he liked his better :)

And because the man has a sweet tooth, and there is an in house bakery, he had to try some dessert.   Yeah thanks, I did mention I was trying to eat healthier!  After speaking with our waiter, he went over to the bakery counter to scope out his choices.  He came back with not one, but two desserts!  A pecan bar and a lemon bar.  That probably sounds kind of dull but both were anything but dull.  I mean, come on... look at this thing of beauty!  It's a pecan bar dipped in chocolate!

Rich, nutty, buttery and Oh. My. God!!!  So incredible and the price was right at $1.99 (which was also the price of the lemon bar).  It was so good.  I had one bite.  OK, maybe two.  But I was good!   And the lemon bar did not disappoint.  It was tart and sweet, but not too sweet.  With a buttery crust and luscious filling.  Again, I only had a bite, or two, but loved both!

I think it's safe to say I'll be going back to Pronto!

Edited 3/7/14 - And go back we did!  A week later.  It was just as good as the first trip.  Want to know what we had?  Of course you do!

The first week we were given a coupon for a free soup with the purchase of an entree.  This week I was thrilled that the soup of the day was Butternut Squash Bisque.  Oh it's one of my faves and this was one terrific version.  There was a hint of nutmeg and finely chopped walnuts on the top.  *sigh*

The man decided he could not resist and had to get the Italian Burger that we had at the Burger Festival.  Can you even stand it??

 It sounds like a lot going on, but it is marvelous and does not detract from the deliciousness of the angus beef.  It has sundried tomato pesto aioli, smoked mozzarella, basil pesto aioli, crispy prosciutto, balsamic glaze and arugula.  It's served with fresh cut fries with basil pesto aioli and he was much more pleased with the amount of fries he got this time.  

Now feast your eyes on this!!   This was a special of the day and is not on the regular menu.  It's the Beef Tenderloin Salad.  Yes, salad.   Inside this glorious tower of decadence is arugula dressed in a balsamic dressing with a perfectly rare (but served cold) slice of beef tenderloin, one in each onion ring.  It also has sliced grape tomatoes, horseradish cream and balsamic reduction.  This was incredible!

And because the man always has to have dessert, he went over to the bakery counter again to check things out. This week he opted for the big ginger cookie (served warm and scrumptious!).

And the big chocolate chip cookie with an Oreo in the middle.  Also served warm.  It was melty and yummy and so comforting.  

Check out Pronto... I promise you won't be sorry!