Well… it appears that my body has found its optimum weight – 190 lbs. That, of course, is not my personal optimum weight, so I need to change things up, a bit. Victor dropped another pound, so he’s doing okay – after going through this a few weeks ago.

It’s funny how the body reacts to things… how it gets comfortable at different weights… I was at 165 for the better part of 20 years, and after quitting smoking the first time, hit 200. After quitting smoking the second – and final time – I made it up to 230 and stayed there for the longest time before inching my way up to 240.

I’m 50 pounds lighter than my all-time high with another 20 to go to meet my optimal weight. These are probably going to be the difficult twenty to lose.

In the grand scheme of things, it all centers around my love of food. People are divided into two groups – eat to live and live to eat. I live to eat! I can’t seem to get enough of new foods and flavors, of new ideas and old standards. I just need to keep working on eating less of everything. Of cooking less. Of not thinking I have to clean my plate.

I’ll get there. And I’ll get there because we’re not dieting – we’re eating what we want – within reason – but we’re not denying ourselves, not making some foods bad and some foods good. We’re being realistic. We’re in it for the long run.

And the long run around here is going to include pasta – especially homemade pasta.

I saw a shrimp and lentil cannelloni recipe on La Cucina Italiana that looked interesting. Looked interesting, because the site is in Italian. My knowledge of the Italian language is pretty sparse, although I’m getting better in the culinary end of things.

One of the benefits of having cooked for so many years is learning culinary terms of other languages. Of course, it can also make one a bit cocky. I have done more than my share of French cooking in my time, and the first time we went to France I was pretty confident I could order any meal. Needless to say, when presented with an actual French menu, my American Kitchen French was no match for the real thing. Live and learn.

Nowadays, I rely on Bing or Google to translate the pages.

From La Cucina Italiana

What I see when I first get there…

Cannelloni con gamberi e lenticchie


500 g latte
450 g gamberi rossi
300 g lenticchie piccole
300 g pomodori pelati
50 g misto aromatico (sedano, carote, cipolla tritati)
20 g scalogno
20 g burro
20 g farina
8 cannelloni secchi
noce moscata
brodo vegetale
vino bianco
olio extravergine d’ oliva
sale fino e grosso

Durata: 2 h 20 minLivello: MedioDosi: 4 persone

Per la ricetta dei cannelloni con gamberi e lenticchie, soffriggete il misto aromatico in 2 cucchiai di olio con un pizzico di sale grosso e, dopo 2’, unite le lenticchie, una spruzzata di vino bianco e 4 mestoli di brodo. Cuocete le lenticchie per 1 ora, bagnandole con il brodo in modo che non si asciughino. Sgusciate i gamberi, eliminando il budellino nero e il carapace e tenendo da parte le teste. Mondate lo scalogno, affettatelo a rondelle e tenetene da parte un po’ da tritare.

Schiacciate uno spicchio di aglio con la buccia e rosolatelo in una padella con 2 cucchiai di olio, lo scalogno a rondelle e un pizzico di peperoncino per 1’; unite le teste dei gamberi schiacciandole bene, sfumate con 3 cucchiai di Cognac e, quando è evaporato, aggiungete i pomodori pelati, cuocete per 8’, quindi bagnate con un mestolo di brodo e proseguite la cottura per 15’. Filtrate il sugo al setaccio, quindi portatelo a bollore e fatelo restringere per 15’, regolandolo eventualmente di sale.

Frullate 200 g di lenticchie con 120 g di brodo, quindi passate al setaccio la crema per eliminare le bucce. Tenete da parte 4 gamberi interi e tagliate gli altri a pezzi; tritate lo scalogno rimasto e unitelo alle lenticchie intere e alla crema di lenticchie, aggiungete i gamberi a pezzi, qualche foglia di timo e amalgamate tutto. Dividete a metà i 4 gamberi tenuti da parte e marinateli con olio, il succo di mezzo limone, un pizzico di sale e qualche foglia di timo. Preparate la besciamella facendo sciogliere il burro in un pentolino, incorporate la farina, lontano dalla fiamma, quindi il latte, un pizzico di sale e una grattugiata di noce moscata, facendo addensare per 5’.

Cuocete i cannelloni in acqua bollente salata per 3’ e raffreddateli in acqua ghiacciata. Raccogliete la crema di lenticchie e gamberi in una tasca da pasticciere e riempite i cannelloni. Mettete in una pirofila uno strato di besciamella, adagiatevi i cannelloni ripieni, ricopriteli con altra besciamella, aggiungete un filo di olio e infornateli a 180 °C per 15’. Guarnite i cannelloni con il sugo, i gamberi marinati e, a piacere, con qualche lenticchia.

And then, what I get when translated:

Cannelloni with shrimps and lentils


500 g milk
450 g red Shrimp
300 g small lentils
300 g peeled tomatoes
50 g mixed aromatic (celery, carrots, chopped onion)
20 g shallots
20 g butter
20 g flour
8 Dried Cannelloni
Vegetable broth
White wine
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt Fine and large

Duration: 2 h 20 minlevel: Mediumdoses: 4 People

For the recipe of cannelloni with shrimps and lentils, saute the aromatic mixture in 2 spoonfuls of oil with a pinch of coarse salt and, after 2 ‘, add the lentils, a splash of white wine and 4 ladles of broth. Cook the lentils for 1 hour, wetting them with the broth so that they do not dry. Shelled the prawns, eliminating the black devein and the carapace and holding the heads aside. Wash the shallots, slice into slices and keep a bit of chopping.

Crush a clove of garlic with the peel and brown in a pan with 2 tablespoons of oil, the shallots with washers and a pinch of chili for 1 ‘; Add the shrimp heads and mash them well, blend them with 3 tablespoons of Cognac and, when it is evaporated, mix the peeled tomatoes, cook for 8 ‘, then douse with a ladle of broth and continue cooking for 15 ‘. Filter the sauce through the sieve, then take it to a boil and make it shrink by 15 ‘, adjusting it eventually to salt.

Blend 200 g of lentils with 120 g of broth, then sieve the cream to remove the skins. Keep aside 4 whole prawns and cut the others to pieces; Chop the remaining shallots and add to the whole lentils and lentil cream, adding the prawns to pieces, a few leaves of thyme and mix everything. Divide in half the 4 prawns kept aside and marinateli with oil, the juice of half a lemon, a pinch of salt and a few leaves of thyme. Prepare the béchamel by dissolving the butter in a saucepan, incorporate the flour, away from the flame, then the milk, a pinch of salt and grated nutmeg, thickch for 5 ‘.

Cook the cannelloni in boiling salted water for 3 ‘ and cool them in iced water. Collect the cream of lentil and shrimp in a pastry bag and fill the cannelloni. Put a layer of béchamel in a baking dish, lay the stuffed cannelloni, cover them with other béchamel, add a little oil and inform them at 180 ° C for 15 ‘. Garnish the cannelloni with the sauce, the marinated prawns and, to taste, with some lentil.

It’s a lot of fun figuring out what one is supposed to do. Most times, I rely on the picture and the base ingredients and then just make something up – as I did tonight.

When I told Victor of my plans, his first response was Do you want me to make the cannelloni pasta? I did answer in the affirmative. We tossed spinach and squid ink pasta back and forth and spinach won – because he then made ravioli that we’re having tomorrow night.

Spinach Pasta

  • 4oz spinach
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk

Trim stems from spinach, discard stems. Rinse leaves in cold water, do not dry.

In a medium saucepan with a pinch of salt, cook spinach over medium heat covered, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Drain spinach and let cool, then gently but thoroughly squeeze out excess liquid and very finely chop.

On a clean work surface, mound 1 cup flour and form a well in the center.

Add 1 egg, 1 egg yolk and spinach into the well. Using a fork (or your fingers) gently break up yolk and slowly incorporate flour . Continue until the liquid is absorbed, then knead for 10 minutes.

Wrap dough tightly in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes

After the dough has rested:

CannelloniTake the spinach dough and divide into 3 equal pieces (cover the other two and set aside)

Set the rollers of pasta machine at the widest setting then feed pasta through rollers 3 or 4 times folding and turning pasta until it is smooth and the width of the machine.

Roll dough through the machine, decreasing the setting one notch at a time (do not fold or turn the dough this time) until pasta sheet is a scant 1/16 inch thick.

Cut sheet into 6″ lengths, lightly dust both sides with flour. Layer sheets between floured pieces of parchment or wax paper.


Using the recipe as a guide, I made a filling of cooked lentils, tomatoes, onion, carrot, celery, fennel, garlic, brandy, and shrimp. I pureed most of the lentil filling and then stirred it back into the rest and added the chopped shrimp.

I then made the cannelloni.


Four fit perfectly in the 8″ casserole.


Instead of the standard béchamel, I made a sauce of butter, flour, white wine, and clam juice.


Very simple – and very tasty.

It was covered and went into a 350°F oven for about 35 minutes.

It came out ooey, gooey, and really good!


Silky smooth pasta, rich and flavorful sauce and filling. The flavors all complimented each other really well. Every bite was fun.

We’re losing weight, slowly but surely, and eating well at the same time. We’re living life and enjoying it – without stressing over good foods and bad foods, ridiculous diets, and unachievable goals.

And, in the grand scheme of things, that’s what’s important to us.