bolognese in the summer

Well I hope my happy hater from the other day isn’t too distressed by Bolognese sauce. Hope she doesn’t find a red sauce too angry….but I digress.

A true Bolognese sauce does take time to create. But it is one of the most delicious sauces you can put over pasta… ever. I shared Bolognese sauce before, but I am sharing this again because I change my recipe slightly sometimes.

I started my sauce first thing this morning. And that’s something that creates a memory smell for me for lack of a better description. When my father’s mother (Grandmom) used to babysit us when we were younger, and even when we were in high school she used to make her sauce first thing in the morning. (And no, this sauce is not her recipe it’s my recipe I never recall her making a true Bolognese.)

First you would smell the smell of a fresh pot of coffee (she would make it in one of those stovetop blue cornflower Corningware coffee pots). Then wafting up behind the fresh perked coffee aroma, was the smell of sautéing garlic and onion in her big sauce pot. She gave my mother that saucepot eventually, and I think my mother still uses it. It was hammered aluminum so it wasn’t like Farberware. To me those are the smells of home.

We are trying to empty out a chest freezer in the basement and I came across three 1 pound packages of ground meat. I usually use about three pounds of ground meat when I make a Bolognese.

Here are the ingredients:

THREE 1 pound packages of pork, veal, lamb, or beef. I’ll use whatever I happen to have handy.

TWO Onions. Chopped. 1 big sweet onion, 1 red onion.

SIX cloves garlic, minced. We like to keep the vampires away in my house.

DASH nutmeg or cinnamon- My late father always did it , so I do it.

Kosher salt to taste, ground pepper after you add the tomatoes.

TWO Bay leaves.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

ONE cup whole milk

ONE cup red wine or 2/3 cup red wine vinegar.

TWO cans crushed tomatoes – 28 ounce.

ONE 6 ounce can tomato paste

BIG bunch fresh basil and oregano from garden.

GOOD pasta and grated cheese.

I will start with I chopped up two onions and threw into my pan (I use one of my larger vintage Dansk touch ovens) with extra-virgin olive oil and some kosher salt.

After the onions started to get that translucent look, I added the three one pound packages of ground meat. Today I am cooking with ground pork and ground lamb which is one of my favorite combinations for a truly flavorful sauce. I added a little more salt and a couple of dashes of nutmeg.

After allowing that to cook for about 20 minutes I added 2/3 of a cup of red wine vinegar. I let that cook off and cook down for another 25 minutes approximately, and then I added one cup of whole milk. I then allowed the milk solids and everything to cook off slightly which was almost half an hour.

As I am doing the meat and the onion I do stir occasionally so nothing has the chance to stick to the bottom.

Next I add my tomato paste and stir it into the meat mixture.

Then I add the cans of crushed tomatoes one at a time. I stir thoroughly after each time. Now I add some fresh ground pepper and a big bunch of just roughly torn up basil and oregano from my garden.

My kitchen smells amazing. I don’t care if it’s July a good Bolognese sauce is perfect all year round. And I like making it in the summer because I can use all my fresh herbs.

Now the pot is on simmer and I will just let it go on simmer for a good couple of hours. Then I will turn it off. It will take a few hours for the sauce to completely cool down. At that point I will skim off any fat that rises to the top from the meat.

Then around dinner time I will slowly bring this sauce up to temperature again and serve with a good pasta, grated cheese, and a big green salad.

Good pasta does make a difference even with dry pasta. Today I am going Delco. Springfield Pasta and Mangia Famiglia grated cheese. (Mangia Famiglia is also one of my favorite sources for Italian sausage.)

A true Bolognese sauce is some thing that is truly amazing. and even in the summer it’s a great family meal option. And don’t be afraid to load up the fresh herbs. I forgot to mention I will finish this with some fresh flat leaf Italian parsley on top.

Buon appetito!

beef mac and cheese…my way

Beef Macaroni and Cheese

1 stick of butter

A few tablespoons of Wondra gravy flour

Dash of nutmeg

A couple of dashes of Tabasco

1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

8 ounce bag of shredded Swiss and Gruyere cheese

8 ounce bag of shredded mixed cheddar cheese

6 ounces chopped Velveeta cheese (the kind that comes in a block)

14 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes

12 ounce can of vitamin D evaporated milk

1 – 1 1/3 cups buttermilk

1 lb ground beef

1 small red onion, chopped small

1 pound bag of Gemelli pasta

Salt and pepper to taste

I have never written this down, so bear with me.

First I sauté the pound of ground beef in a nonstick pan with the red onion. Salt and pepper to taste. Because I am using a nonstick pan I don’t grease it. Remove from heat.

In another pan I make my cheese sauce. It starts with a roux which is butter and flour. I just eyeball the flower and I use Wondra which is a great flower to use for things like this and gravies because it’s very fine. So I say a few tablespoons, it’s either that or a few dashes.

After the flour and butter have kind of cooked together, I had a dash of nutmeg and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce. Then I add the buttermilk.

I incorporate everything together whisking constantly and then I add the can of milk. Next I add the Swiss and Gruyere mix, whisking constantly until it’s incorporated. After that I add the cheddar and then I stir in the Velveeta chunks. As everything comes together you may have to add a little more milk. It just depends.

After it’s creamy and smooth I add the can of tomatoes which I do not drain. I then let the cheese sauce kind of meld together and I keep on stirring it. When I think it’s the proper consistency I turn it off and put a lid on it.

In a big Dutch oven I cook the pasta as per the package instructions and then drain. First I put the pasta back into the Dutch oven. Then I stir in the ground beef mixture. Then I slowly incorporate the cheese sauce until everything‘s together.

I always make a little more sauce than I am expecting but you just let your pasta sit for a few minutes with the lid on in the Dutch oven and the heat off on the stove and a lot of the moisture from the cheese sauce will be absorbed.

Serve with a salad and it’s magically delicious.

Thanks for stopping by.

vintage cookbooks

I love vintage cookbooks. Some of my favorites are these local or regional ones that are put out by nonprofits, schools, churches. They are usually for fundraising.

I scored three the other day, all local to Chester County. This one from Grove Methodist is the best of the three. It could also be because that is one of my favorite little churches in Chester County.

My cookbook is from 1991. I can’t wait to try some of the recipes. This is one of those cookbooks that doesn’t have any Michelin stars attached, it’s just good home cooking.

You can find these little gems in many places – I found this one on eBay. I had seen it in somebody’s house years ago and I don’t know what made me think of it but I went looking for it.

I figure since we are still home so much because of COVID-19 some new recipes are in order! Thanks for stopping by happy Thursday!

just a good dinner.

I love Mexican food and the flavors of the American Southwest. And sometimes I just crave this one particular no name meal I make.

My cousin asked me what I called what I made for dinner, and I couldn’t exactly tell her because I don’t know anybody else that makes it. It’s kind of pork carne asada inspired burritos meets enchiladas. Those are the things that inspire this yummy winter dinner.

So this is my attempt to write it down. I always remember how to make it but so many people keep asking me I figured I would try to get it written down.

I sautéed pork (six small boneless pork chops sliced as if I was making fajitas) with 1 sweet onion, cilantro, 1 red onion, a couple jalapeños (not seeded), bell peppers, Mexican spices (Tajin seasoning and Hatch chili powder, garlic powder, Goya Adobo, oregano, basil) , 2 limes grated for zest, juice of two limes and 1/4 cup water.

Then I make a little Mexican inspired tomato sauce with chili powder, red onion, jalapeños, cilantro, grated lime zest, juice of one lime, small can diced tomatoes, 1 6 oz can tomato paste.

Next I lined a 9” x 12” pan with non stick foil and rolled up in large tortillas one at a time the pork mixture, shredded Mexican cheese and fat free refried beans. Line up side by side – you can fit six. Layer on tomato sauce, top with shredded Mexican cheese blend, a little more sauce. Cover pan with foil and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes.

Serve with Mexican inspired rice, sour cream, pickled jalapeños if you choose, more cilantro, etc.

peter’s peasant soup

Every time around this year and even into the winter my late father would make a soup. It was a pure peasant soup. It would be based around what he found fresh down on 9th street at the Italian market and from the local merchants there.

The soup would have cabbage, potatoes or turnips, onion, celery, carrots, tomatoes, fresh herbs, beans, and something cured like a small salami – a cured sausage. He liked soppressata. He would cut it into little chunks or rounds.

We were over at a friend’s house the other day and they have this amazing kitchen garden like I dream about but have no room for. So they gave us a bunch of fresh vegetables including Swiss Chard and fresh kale. Today’s vegetable box from Doorstep Dairy had a beautiful purple cabbage. So I knew I was making soup even though it’s somewhat humid out.

My father would often use a beef stock base but a lot of the time it was a chicken stock base. So last night’s roast chicken carcass went into the instant pot this morning to make bone broth. I also tossed in a little salt and pepper and zaatar spice blend.

While bone broth was cooking and cooling I chopped up all the vegetables. I threw them into my big Great Jones “Big Deal” pot. I really love their cookware and I have a few pieces now. I added a few cups of water, maybe four. I added salt and pepper and some fresh herbs. This morning I had picked basil, thyme, sage so that is what I used.

I left the vegetables almost completely covered on low and just let them cook down for probably 60 minutes. The tomatoes I used were a bunch of fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden. Probably about enough to fit in a pint container but I halved them. When the bone broth was finished (I just hit the setting for broth or soup) I fished out all the bones and the gizzards and disposed of them and added the broth to the pot.

Then I added a chopped up a small whole dry salami that I had purchased at the Tasty Table Market & Catering in Berwyn. After that I drained two cans of beans and tossed those in. You can use whatever canned beans you like. Things like cannellini beans, pinto beans, even black-eyed peas.

Now the soup sits on a simmer until some point this afternoon when I will start to cool it down and put into containers. Some I will freeze and some I will use now.

I have to tell you the soup smells really good. And it’s also a smell that I have memories of. Of course I’m a little more about cleaning up the kitchen as I go along then my father was and when he would make one of these soups it would look like a bomb exploded in the kitchen afterwards.

This soup is always best when it sits for a couple of days and then you heat it up because it gives a chance for the flavors to completely meld . All you do is serve it with a little crusty bread for the table and some grated cheese on top. It’s a basic peasant soup and it’s loaded with vegetables and you don’t really need anything else.

I hope you can follow along as to how I made this. There is no formal recipe it’s just some thing that my father made and his mother made and who knows how many other relatives in his family made.

I used my small Instant Pot to make the bone broth if you are curious about how much chicken broth to add. The small Instant Pot makes 3 quarts of broth. Now the soup condenses and cooks down because I let it simmer on a very low setting for a few hours.

Buon appetito!

corona cooking the good friday edition: salmon loaf

Yes…Salmon Loaf the finished product.

I know it’s one of those things that kind of reminds you of your grandmother. Salmon loaf. I’m told it was a big thing in the depression because canned salmon (or canned mackerel) was something that a lot of people could get a hold of and it stretched a meal.

Today in coronavirus land, I was looking to use things up. In my refrigerator, I had three foil packets of Harry and David cooked salmon. Each is about 4 to 6 ounces per packet. They came in gift baskets over the holidays. And they last forever in the refrigerator unopened but it’s not like nova or gravlax, so I’m always at a loss what to do with it. then I remembered things my mother used to make on Good Friday when we were little.

So I put Carly Simon on Alexa, and got to cooking. Yes Carly Simon. Sorry not sorry but her music is something I have always loved, along with Cat Stevens AKA Yusuf.

First preheat the oven to 350°F.

Next I made the white sauce to go with the salmon loaf after it is cooked.

White Sauce – 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, a 1/4 cup of sour cream, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of dill, a good dash of Tabasco sauce, 1 tablespoon of milk, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper. All you do is whisk it together and refrigerate it until you serve the salmon loaf.

Salmon Loaf– If you don’t have Harry and David cooked salmon to use, 1 large can of red or pink sockeye salmon will do. I would say you need a good 14 ounces of salmon. You also need 1 can of cream of celery soup, 1 cup of Panko breadcrumbs, 1 small sweet onion chopped fine, 3 ribs of fresh celery diced, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1 egg beaten, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of dill weed, 4 tablespoons of whipped cream cheese or the equivalent of block cream cheese mushed up, a little salt and pepper to taste, some potato chips, and Tabasco sauce.

Mix the cream cheese with the Tabasco sauce (just a dash or two to taste), the lemon juice, the beaten egg, the mayonnaise, the cream of celery soup, the celery, and the onion. Next incorporate the salmon which should be pre-fork mashed in its own little bowl. Finally add the breadcrumbs and a little bit of salt and pepper – about a teaspoon of salt and pepper together. I think I used less.

Take a loaf pan and grease it. I used butter because it happened to be out on the counter. I’m sure you could use olive oil. Spread the loaf mixture evenly into your prepared and greased loaf pan and crumple potato chips over the top.

I will note we rarely have potato chips in the house, we just happen to have them from a take out order a couple of days ago.

Then all you do is throw it into your preheated 350°F oven and set your timer for an hour. For those of you who don’t know the size of a loaf pan it is roughly 9“ x 5“. serve with the white sauce and a simple salad. Note that you’re not actually taking the entire loaf out of the loaf pan it will fall apart you get your servings out and refrigerate the rest in the loaf pan once it’s cooled.

Thanks for stopping by.

Salmon Loaf just before going into the oven

from roast chicken to chicken soup

The other night we had a roast chicken. I hung onto the carcass and threw it into the instant pot yesterday and made bone broth from it.

This morning I got out the broth, removed the fat, and added the rest of the chicken that was left over to it and set that container to the side while I prepped the vegetables.

I chopped up one of the remaining onions that I have and threw it into the soup pot with a little bit of olive oil. To that I added a bunch of diced celery, and a small bunch of sliced up carrots, and some fresh new potatoes. I added a little salt and started to cook the vegetables down.

As the vegetables started to cook down I added a chopped bunch of mixed kale and baby bok choy and some other greens that had come in a farm box. To that I added a can of white cannellini beans.

Then I added the broth and the bits of chicken and a bouquet garni of fresh herbs from the garden. The chicken soup simmered away for a few hours and now it’s cooling to be eaten later in the week.

white chocolate oatmeal hazelnut cookies

I seem to have created something new. I had wanted to make my white chocolate cinnamon cookies with oatmeal, but then I decided I could improve on it. And I didn’t have any cinnamon chips. So I did improve my recipe and changed it up…and…taa daa! The 2019 White Chocolate Oatmeal Hazelnut Cookies were born.

RECIPE:

1 cup of butter softened (2 sticks)

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup quick cook oatmeal (plain no flavoring)

2 cups white chocolate baking chips

1 cup dried currants (I used Sunmaid Zante Currants)

1 cup chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350°

Cream together until well mixed butter and both sugars in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla, beat until light and fluffy. Add 2 tablespoons buttermilk.

Add cinnamon, salt, baking soda.

Mix in 2 cups of all-purpose white flour until mixed well. Stir in oatmeal, followed by white chocolate baking chips, and finally the hazelnuts.

I chilled my dough about an hour.

Drop by rounded teaspoons on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. (I line my cookie pans silicone baking sheets for the most part now.)

I actually like to roll might dough into about 1 inch balls instead of “drop”. I place them a couple inches apart on the sheet.

Bake at 350° for 10 to 11 minutes depending on your oven.

Do not overbake and please cool these cookies at least five or six minutes before removing from baking sheet to cooling rack to cool completely.

This recipe makes a little over 4 1/2 dozen cookies. They seem to be an instant crowd pleaser in my house, so I hope you like them too!

sweet potato gnocchi with a sage corn pancetta cream sauce

I’m going to admit this pasta dish rocks. I’m also going to admit I didn’t use anyone’s recipe it came together as I started to plan it.

I have written down both the recipe for the sauce and the pasta as best I can. I hope it comes together for you like it did for me.

I think the sauce is amazing and could easily be translated to a fettuccine or something.

The Creamy Pancetta Sage Sauce

  • • 4 ounces diced pancetta (Wegmans sells it)
  • • 4 tablespoons butter
  • • 2 small vidalia onions chopped
  • • 1 small red hot pepper diced (no seeds!)
  • • 2 ears of cooked corn off the cob
  • • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • • 1 pint light cream (2 cups)
  • • 2 tablespoons Wondra flour (super fine for sauces)
  • • 2/3 cup fine grated Parmesan
  • Melt the butter. Add the onion and the red pepper and some salt to taste. Add the corn. Chop fine the fresh sage and add that. Cook until the onion starts to get translucent.

    This should all be low to the bare minimum of medium heat. You don’t want anything to burn.

    Add the flour. Stir briskly in the pan so nothing sticks and the flour is absorbed.

    Add the wine. Stir briskly. Let that cook for a minute or two and add the light cream.

    Allow the sauce to come together and stir constantly until an even warm temperature. You want it to come to almost a boil but not a boil because you don’t want to scald the cream.

    Add the Parmesan cheese gradually till all incorporate it and let it cook on low a little while longer. Let it cook down, and it will cook down some and thicken a bit. It doesn’t get stand your spoon upright thick, but it thickens in consistency.

    Gnocchi

    The gnocchi are an approximation. I make my pasta by feel.

    • 1 1/2 cups of leftover mashed sweet potatoes.
    • 2 cups of semolina flour
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • A few dashes of extra-virgin olive oil

    Combine everything in a bowl and bring your dough together. After everything is evenly mixed place a damp cloth over the bowl that your dough is in and let it rest for an hour.

    Roll out between your hands thin “snakes” of dough and with a sharp knife cut even sized bite-size pieces.

    Your pasta should be laid out on a baking sheet covered with a silicone baking pad. You should have enough for two layers of bite-size pieces and the layers should be separated with parchment paper and covered with parchment paper and a linen towel and put in your refrigerator until you are ready to cook your pasta.

    Fresh gnocchi only take a few scant minutes to cook in boiling water. They will rise to the surface as they cook.

    As you remove your gnocchi add a little bit of sauce in between and then finish with sauce on top.

    Mangia!

    summer sauce

    I made this yesterday and everyone keeps asking for the recipe. There isn’t one per se but here’s how it evolved:

    2 lbs of ground sausage sautéed in olive oil with 2 sweet onions, 6 mild/medium chili peppers, 2 long hot peppers, 5 cloves garlic minced, 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes from the garden halved, sea salt to taste.

    Next I added a huge handful each of fresh basil and oregano from the garden and a 10 ounce package of fresh crimini (baby bella) mushrooms chopped up.

    Cook on medium low and stir a lot until sausage is cooked through.

    Add two cans (28 ounce) of canned tomatoes- what I had on hand was crushed, add 1 small can of tomato paste (6 ounce size), and a good dash of red wine or red wine or balsamic vinegar.

    Reduce heat and allow to burble on the stove, stirring frequently for at least another hour. Adjust for salt and pepper if needed. I didn’t find it needed it.

    This is the kind of sauce that if I had fresh eggplant, that would have been peeled and chopped up and added as well.

    It’s not complicated and it’s easy to make your own homemade sauce. The chili peppers came out of the garden as well and the end result was a flavorful but NOT a spicy sauce. It just tastes fresh. It will be dinner later this week over spaghetti or some shape pasta. Serve with a salad and you are good to go.

    Easy summer dinner.

    Leftover sauce can be frozen.