Fresh, fast and frugal!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Ravioli with garden fresh vegetables...

Harvest time is here and you can get very busy!

So, sometimes dinner gets thrown together but that does not mean it can't be brainy...

Just gather some fresh veggies from the garden and mix it up with whatever you have in the fridge or freezer. Tonight its beef ravioli with diced red ripe tomatoes from the garden, new Ratte potatoes and a salad.

Never heard of Ratte? They are a French fingerling variety of potato about 6 inches long; creamy, earthy and rich with a hint of nut flavor, the 'La Ratte' potato is a culinary treat that's simple to grow in the home garden.

 ~Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Cooking with summer fruits...

In Europe, this time of year is full of flesh and I mean yummy purple plum flesh, juicy and sweet. Generally, Europeans love to cook with a variety of summer fruits and plums especially either fresh or dried. The best chicken cacciatore is made with dried plums - prunes. Check out Brainy Archives for summer fruit dishes!

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Beef or Chicken Minestrone Soup...

Choose a beef or chicken stock as a base and get cooking. Add to that base stock, your favorite vegetables (any kind of bean is optional) and include diced onion, garlic and tomatoes along with a pinch of salt then some dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano.

Boil your pasta preference on the side to add to individual bowls, put out the Parmesan and serve!

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Mark's Spaghetti de Tuna...

Whether you have heard of spaghetti de tuna or not doesn't matter... its just delicious and that's what matters most. Yes, Italians do make this dish. Italians living on the seaside eat a lot of seafood and pasta with it... ever heard of 'Frutti de Mare'?  That means fruit of the sea.

For this dish you will need: tomato sauce, canned tuna in oil, onion, red pepper flakes, garlic, fresh dried herbs and linguine. Essentially, the sauce is an Arrabbiata sauce... spicy hot tomato.

To begin, chop one onion and 2 cloves of garlic to saute in olive oil. Once browned, add one large can of crushed tomatoes, 1/2 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of red pepper flakes (1/2 depending on your taste buds or more if your brave), fresh dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano and the canned tuna un-drained. Let simmer while you start a pot of water to boil for the linguine. with Parmesan

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Mark's Brainy Summer Salmon Bake...

Fresh salmon with butter and lemon is summertime delicious!

For this delicious summertime dish you will need: a large fillet 'slab' of fresh salmon, lemon, butter, and olive oil, herbs: rosemary, dill, mint and oregano.

To begin, turn the oven to 400f, take a large roasting pan and drizzle the olive oil, lay in the 'slab' of salmon skin side down, top with garlic powder, lemon slices and herbs. Once the oven is hot, pop it in until the meat is just turning from dark pink to light pink. Turn the oven temp down to 350.

Next, add fresh washed asparagus spears laying them in along side the salmon. Drop in about four pats of butter and back into the oven until the asparagus is tender.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

What to Do for a Brainy Quick Asian Fix...

If you have red or orange peppers and spinach leaves in your fridge, purple onion in your pantry along with linguine pasta, some soy sauce and or Teriyaki sauce... you have all you need for a brainy quick Asian fix.

Just stir fry slices of peppers and onion together in a blend of olive oil and coconut oil until browned. Add fresh washed spinach leaves and you already have the basic mix to toss over a bed of linguine; top with soy sauce. Of course, you can spice it up any way you like...

If you would like to add meat, then move the veggies to a serving plater to keep warm while you quick stir fry in the same skillet any meat (beef/pork/chicken) or seafood you prefer. Bring it all back together and serve over linguine pasta or rice noodles.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

What makes good Italian food, makes good food...

If you have been disappointed eating out or cooking at home, it means that you either made or were served over cooked food, or worse under cooked food or experienced an over/under complicated recipe. And, you might have used or were served a dish which had ingredients that were not fresh but pre-made.

Many ingredients that are pre-made can be used but most are not good quality because they are cheaply made as in prepared and packaged.. boxed, jarred or frozen.

Yes, there are some good quality products out there to buy that are packaged, boxed, jarred and frozen but knowing the difference is not always easy though not so difficult.  Check the amount of salt, sugar and added ingredients.

Find products that have limited salt, limited sugar and limited added ingredients (added for flavor/color/texture/preservatives) whether artificial or not ...added ingredients are not always a good thing. You want to buy products that are 'clean' ... simple.

For instance, when making spaghetti, choose quality tomato sauce (making your own preferably) and pasta.  Most of all, be a masterful conductor in the kitchen and know when to finish your dish and serve! 

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken with Ravioli in Red Sauce...

On a quaint garden terrace in Italy, imagine that someone is having the same dinner as you are.... 


For this dish, you will need to buy a package of chicken breasts (as many per person), one or two package (s) of ravioli any kind you like (serving at least 4 per person). And, you will need to have: onion, fresh grated parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, tomato paste and heavy cream.    


Turn on your oven to F400. Take out a glass baking dish. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom and lay in your chicken breasts. Drizzle olive oil across the top of each, also sprinkle on garlic powder and a bit of salt. Slide into the oven to bake for about 8 - 10min. depending on the number of breasts used.

Remove, and gently squeeze/spoon mayonnaise over the top coating each one also coating each with fine parmesan cheese (from a shaker table top container) and then a handful of fresh grated parmesan cheese finishing with a generous sprinkle of dried herbs: rosemary, mint, oregano and a bit of sage. Bake in the oven uncovered for about 25 min. depending on thickness and number of the breasts used.  

For the ravioli preparation, take out a small stock pot and fill with water. Put this on the stove on high flame, add a pinch of salt. Once it boils, add the (thawed if using frozen) ravioli, stirring occasionally. While the ravioli boil take the chicken breasts from the oven, cover and set aside while you start the sauce for the ravioli.

Melt 2 tbs of fresh butter and 3-4 tbs of olive oil in a small skillet on a med heat/flame. Add diced onion and saute until browned, then add 1/4 cup of tomato paste and 1/2 -3/4 cup of heavy cream, a dash of salt, garlic powder and fresh dried herbs.  If it appears to thick, just add unsalted chicken stock.

Check the ravioli to make sure they are tender and ready to be drained. Finally, ladle the ravioli onto a white low lipped serving dish. Cover with the sauce and garnish with chopped fresh parsley or dried parsley flakes.

Serve with the chicken! ~ Tutti a Tavola!

What is the Brainy Gourmet really all about?

If you are new to this blog and just don't 'get' it; then, maybe you have not been to the Brainy Gourmet webpage to read more about what the Brainy Gourmet is and how you can be one too.

The premise of this blog is simple... to encourage cooking at home for yourself, family and friends by providing fast, frugal and flavor filled food.  Its not about being 'cheap' but about being smart in the kitchen... being a wise home chef which is truly a blessing to you and yours.

This blog is not 'health guru' oriented because inasmuch as eating healthy is good for you its not a science nor a special act as in requiring a special performance using specialty items which can only be purchased at specialty stores that cost more than you can afford on a daily basis.

I have always encouraged not following a recipe but learning to cook by exploring basic ingredients and your taste preferences: sweet and or savory or a blend. This is what every brainy gourmet cook does.

This blog simply encourages being a brainy gourmet; sharing with you how easy and wise it is to choose available fresh food items from any store (including Aldi) which are of nutritional value: meats/fish, green vegetables along with some carbs and fruits; cook them at home in minutes and then sit down to a delicious meal... every day.

Cooking for yourself, family and friends has been proven to reduce stress, improve health, digestion and overall wellness. So be a brainy gourmet. Check out the brainy food ideas on this blog by going to Brainy Archives or follow the Brainy Gourmet daily using the Brainy App.

Hope this has been a blessing to you!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Brainy Pork Tenderloin Medallions in Sauce with Vermicelli...

Oh the taste of Italy...

For this dish you will need: one and half pound pork tenderloin, vermicelli pasta, beef stock, jarred sun dried tomatoes, green olives, dried plums, heavy cream, garlic, purple onion and dried herbs.

To begin, chop and saute one whole onion in olive oil along with one clove of minced garlic. As the onion browns, thickly slice the pork loin into medallions. Push aside the onion and garlic to lay in the medallions... browning on both sides.

Next, pour in 1/4 cup of beef stock and then add as many sun dried tomatoes and dried plums as you like and 1/4 of green olives. Sprinkle in the dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano. If you are brave, also sprinkle in some red pepper flakes, garlic powder and paprika.

Lastly, spoon in 4 tbs of heavy cream and simmer while you cook the vermicelli...

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Anything with Linguine is Brainy...

Linguine pasta is great for a number of Italian and Asian dishes...

Start by stir frying chopped onion and or green/red pepper in olive oil, add  thin cut strips of meat or seafood i.e. shrimp if you prefer, include a green vegetable or two, diced tomatoes or chili peppers and the kind of spices you would use for either Italian or Asian (one or the other) style sauce to top the linguine with.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Mark's Brainy Baked Barbecued Chicken...

Make your house smell like a 'ranch' house... nothing like baked barbecued chicken.

For this dish you will need, as many chicken/thighs pieces as you will have guests or family; and you will need your favorite barbecue sauce, dried herbs, garlic powder and sea salt.

To begin, marinate the chicken pieces in the glass dish or baking pan that you will use to bake in. Coat the bottom with olive oil and a squeeze of barbecue sauce. Lay in the chicken, gently sprinkle on the garlic powder and sea salt but be generous with the dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano.

Then, pre-heat the oven to 375f. Pop in the oven for a little more than 1 hr and all the while your house will smell like a southwest ranch. Prepare any side you like to this simple summer favorite...

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Lamb chops on the grill or in the skillet...

For this dinner, you will need to buy: as many lamb chops as you will need (per guest), and a preferred side dish and salad mix.

Marinate the chops in olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, sea salt, along with a few garlic cloves and a little red wine or Worcestershire sauce, and rosemary for about 25-30 min.

To begin, either sear as in pan fry the chops in olive oil or lay on the hot grates of your outdoor grill.  Once the meat is seared on both sides in the skillet, let simmer with a bit of beef stock while you prepare a side and salad. If grilling, reduce heat and move chops to upper grates, topping with a squirt of liquid ...beef stock.

~ Tutti a Tavola!