I just made this up….yesterday. I am sure many people do something similar, but this is all me:
Ragu of Pork and Veal
In a large Dutch oven, sauté one large sweet onion and one medium-sized regular onion cut into very thin rings.
Sauté in a few healthy tablespoons of olive oil and include four cloves of garlic
minced (I just pour oil in the bottom of the pan until it looks right, but not an elephant’s foot bath.)
Add oregano, and basil. A little marjoram. And kosher salt to taste.
When almost at the point of caramelization, add 1/3 cup good balsamic vinegar.
Allow vinegar to mostly cook off, leaving a darkish sauce in the bottom.
Add to this two grated carrots, two fresh bay leaves, and 6 ounces of chopped baby Bella mushrooms.
Next add one package of ground veal.
Add one package of ground pork.
(Both should be no more than a pound.)
As the meat cooks down and browns slightly (ground veal and pork do not brown like ground beef), add one-third of a cup of 2% milk or half-and-half.
Allow the milk solids to cook off as if you would with a Bolognese sauce, and when all simmered and brown and delicious, add two 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes. One can should contain purée. (And buy good tomatoes – it does make a difference.)
Add one small can of tomato paste. (6 oz)
Cook on medium low for about 15 minutes or until it starts to gently bubble up from bottom
Adjust salt and pepper, add rough chopped fresh basil and Italian flat leaf parsley to taste. (for me that means a fistful – love both)
Simmer on very low for a couple of hours
Cook spiral pasta, as in the spiral shaped pasta that is called cavatappi. You can also use ziti.
Cook pasta according to directions and drain. Do not rinse
Get out your giant pasta serving bowl and ladle some of the sauce into the bottom. Next add on top of that sauce a third of the pasta you cooked – I cook the whole 16 ounce box.
On top of pasta add a healthy sprinkling of shredded Italian cheese – I like the six cheese Italian blend
Ladle more sauce on top, and repeat the layers twice more.
Top off with a little more sauce and cheese and some more fresh parsley.
…But it has been ages since I gave you a recipe. So today, dear readers: banana bread.
It is another recipe born out of leftovers/things to use up.
Seriously, it is the only time I make it. Today, it was either use the super ripe bananas hanging on their hook or toss them. So Banana bread it is. This is not super sweet. I did not include nuts because I think that is so banana bread cliché but if you like nuts, use 1 cup chopped pecans or black walnuts.
3 Mashed bananas (super ripe)
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Smart Balance oil
3/4 cup 2 % milk
3 Tablespoons buttermilk powder
2 1/4 cups flour (white all-purpose not whole wheat – whole wheat makes it chewy as in overly glutenous)
1/4 cup milled bran
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
grated peel of medium orange
Pre-heat oven 375 degrees.
Oil and flour loaf pan.
Mix milk, brown sugar,oil, eggs. Add buttermilk powder. Add mashed bananas, mix until smooth. Add spices. Add rest of dry ingredients. Mix until blended and smooth. Fold in raisins and dried cranberries (and this would be where you added nuts if you want them). Add grated orange peel.
Pour into pan. Bake at 375 for 50 minutes (50 minutes is with my oven, yours might be more or less – keep an eye on it)
When bamboo skewer (looks like a giant toothpick if you do not know what I am talking about ) comes out clean, your done.
Take out of oven and cool 15 minutes. Then take out of pan and cool on a baking rack until completely cooled. Enjoy!
This is not super sweet, but using brown sugar gives it a richer flavor I think. And yes, I love Nordic Ware pans.
Happy 2013 to one and all! Let’s start the new year with a recipe!
So this holiday season I broke in a new hot crab dip recipe. Not everyone in my house like artichoke hearts, so I had to find a recipe without them.
I received Martha Stewart’s cookbook Martha’s American Food as a Christmas present. Truthfully it is a cookbook well worth purchasing or giving, but I have a habit of fiddling with recipes (even ones uniquely my own). And I hate to say it because some giant hand bearing a whisk might pop out of the sky and smote me, but I improved Martha…or one of her recipes I should say.
She had a hot crab dip recipe, but looking at it I felt it needed some tweaking and additions, so I did that. My friends have all been asking for the recipe, so here it is. Note that my tweaks/additions appear in RED ink:
Hot Crab Dip
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter PLUS 2 Tablespoons
1 RED onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (NOT whole wheat)
1 1/2 cups of HALF AND HALF(Martha calls for plain milk)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
few dashes of Tabasco sauce
6 ozshredded mixedcheddar (some cheese companies offer a shredded blend of mild and sharp cheddar. Martha calls for 4 oz)
6 oz of soft cream cheese (from the tub but not whipped)
Grated zest of one lemon and juice of that lemon (Martha calls for 2 Tablespoons, I just use a small lemon and call it a day)
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce(Martha calls for 2 teaspoons)
16 oz lump crabmeat, checked for shells (Martha calls for 10 oz, but most crab I buy comes in 16 oz containers, so that is what I used)
4 Tablespoonsrough chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley (Martha calls for 2 tablespoons)
2 Tablespoons fresh dill rough chopped no stems
2 Tablespoons minced FRESH chives
4 Tablespoons minced celery
Salt and pepper (fresh ground)
8 oz loaf of rustic bread sliced into small bites crust removed
English cucumber slices(for serving with dip when finished)
Flat bread or thinly sliced French bread baguettes. (for serving with dip when finished)
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
In a generously sized saucepan (medium to large) melt the 1 stick of butter over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, celery stirring occasionally until soft and translucent (4 to 5 minutes)
Whisk in flour and cook while whisking constantly (or it will stick and burn) (about 3 to 4 minutes – Martha says 4, I found it took a little less. (medium to medium low heat)
Whisking constantly slowly incorporate half and half in a steady stream (I am not Shiva so I don’t have 8 arms or whatever so I did put my measuring cup down occasionally – Martha of course doesn’t do that). Stir and simmer over medium-low heat until thick and smooth (about 4 minutes).
Incorporate cheddar cheese, stirring well so it melts all evenly and then repeat with cream cheese. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, Tabasco, and Mustard powder. Incorporate well. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. (you won’t need much). You don’t have to over think or over cook this – you just need cheese completely melted and incorporated.
Remove from heat.
In a large mixing bowl combine crabmeat, fresh herbs**, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir in the cheesy-oniony mixture and fold together, check for salt and pepper (to taste – I cook with less salt these days so I found little adjustment necessary).
Pour this creamy and goopy deliciousness (it does taste good even at this point) into a buttered one quart oven proof dish.
In a small fry pan melt that 2 tablespoons of butter remaining. Toss in bread you cut up as per ingredient list, add salt and pepper and cook a little bit (couple of minutes tops) – bread will be goldeny and butter with a light coat of salt and pepper.
Arrange bread bits on top of crab dip in the casserole dish and bake in your pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes – keep an eye on your oven because this stuff can boil over at the end.
Remove from oven and let stand at least ten minutes before serving because when it first comes out of the oven it is like molten lava with a crispy golden crust on top.
Serve with flat breads, crackers, or thinly sliced French bread baguettes. Place a cucumber on top of cracker, bread slice, or flat bread and then dip on top of that.
I do not think I forgot anything, hope you enjoy this.
**Please note that if you like Cilantro, when you add your herbs to the crab as above, you can add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh cilantro too.
Before we get into the pie of it all, I must say you know that your blog is getting popular when you get hit with 261 items of spam overnight. Thank you WordPress spam filters for doing double time!
Anyway, sometimes a pie just comes together and my Thanksgiving pie was amazing if I do say so myself.
I made apple this year as per the request of my better half. I made a double crust apple pie with dried apricots, raisins, and cranberries soaked in Calvados. The crust was dusted with turbinado sugar and pink Himalayan sea salt.
Sounds yummy? It was. So what I did was make a double batch of pie crust (I have given you pie crust recipes before so I am not doing again now), pulled out my vintage deep dish pie dish and threw my apple mixture in, sealed it up, did an egg wash and a little dusting (turbinado sugar and the pink sea salt) and voila! Yummy deliciousness!
I used about 8-10 small MacIntosh apples peeled, cored, sliced thin. Tossed them with 1/4 cup flour, 2 tablespoons corn starch, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, juice of 1 lemon, fresh grated ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, mace, and 1 1/4 cup of dark raisins, chopped dried apricots, and dried cranberries that had been soaked overnight in Calvados.
I cut my vents, added my pie bird and in it went to a pre-heated oven on a cookie sheet. 400 degrees for 15 minutes, and then 350 degrees for somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes (I forget – so if you are trying to replicate, you will have to simply keep an eye on your pie.)
My yam and pumpkin soufflé topped with toasted butter pecans was a big hit too – another made up mish mosh of a recipe, but I think I am keeping that one to myself for now. And oh yes, I roasted my turkey the way I saw my late father do it time and again, and guess what? It was not dry!
For the record, this chef is on strike for a few days. Executing a fabulous Thanksgiving is like giving birth…and LOL my friend Pamela did just that. (She had a baby girl!)
No, I will not be shopping today. Black Friday is against my religion. For the most part so are malls. For those of you shopping, ditch the mall and check out Main Street. I think supporting independent merchants, small businesses, and BARN sales is where it is at!
And if you are looking for that perfect hostess gift for holiday parties, or a fun present, consider my recently Blurb published photography book chestercountyramblings….four seasons!
Oh lordy I have so many tomatoes! It’s “almost” pomodoro time – yep – simple and sweet. And you slice the garlic, not chop. Sautée some onions, add fresh herbs….it will be delicious…this is not quite a pomodoro and only “almost” because I have meat and do add a little tomato paste, but omit the meat and paste and it will be more traditional.
Simple, fast, fresh.
A few cloves of thin sliced garlic (today I used six)
3 small onions sliced (3 little yellows from the farmers market in thin slices and then rings)
fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces, divided
tomatoes (I have half a pint of yellow cherry tomatoes and a bunch of ripe red)
fresh mozzarella (bought this crazy amazing mozzarella from the Hamptons home)
4 sausage patties (Italian sweet – they were in the freezer – or you can omit meat altogether)
a small amount of dried porcini mushrooms reconstituted in white wine
pasta of choice
Brown the sausage. Remove from pan, drain out on paper towels.
Toss a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in pan and cook garlic and onions. Until sort of starting to caramelize (a golden brown color but not burnt).
Add the reconstituted mushrooms, juice and all.
Add the tomatoes. (which have been chopped, except for cherries, which were halved)
Add basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, a dash or two of hot pepper flakes and a dash of smoked paprika
Cook down a bit. Add some paste. The smallest can is 6 oz – use one of those if you use paste. Add cooked and now crumbled sausage back to sauce.
Cook your pasta.
When you put pasta and sauce together add chopped fresh herbs (basil, parsley, oregano) and diced up fresh mozzarella.
Serve with a nice bottle of wine if you so choose, some crusty bread and a simple salad of arugula and romaine.
In last September’s New York Times Magazine Mark Bittman wrote an article called Bye,Bye, American Pie. No it wasn’t the impetus for this post, but it is a good read. This post takes inspiration from the farmers where I have been vacationing until a few hours ago: the farmers of Eastern Long Island, NY. One farm in particular called Balsam Farms in Amagansett.
I feel like I have been cheating on my favorite Chester County Farmers, but I have to tell you the produce I bought while on vacation is truly amazing. I think there is something with the fertile yet sandy soil that makes a difference.
Seriously, and it sounds like sacrilege, but the tomatoes I have had kick the rear of Jersey tomatoes.
And another interesting thing to note is in a lot of cases this organic produce I have been purchasing is less money than some of what I buy locally in Chester County. I figure that is well worth mentioning since everything having to do with the Hamptons is equated with super expensive.
So this pie is all mine oh me oh my. The recipe is not an exact science, and I am trying to get better with that.
Peach Apricot Pie
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup oatmeal (Quaker quick oats will do – but PLAIN – no flavored stuff!!)
1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sugar (white)
3 tablespoons of ice water
dash of cinnamon
dash of ginger
Mix all dry ingredients. Cut in butter after cutting butter into teeny pieces. Incorporate butter into dry ingredients until little crumbs are formed. Add the water. Bring it all together into a ball of dough that is not over-mixed, wrap well in plastic wrap so it is air-tight and refrigerate for 2 hours.
As you are getting ready to bring your dough out, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
After the crust is sufficiently chill, roll out between sheets of plastic wrap lightly dusted with flour. Place crust carefully in a pie plate – I guess mine is a 9 inch – I have vintage glass pie plates and this was one that was shallow as opposed to deep crust. Fix your edge of the crust by gently crimping with a fork and put crust in pan back in refrigerator to stay cool while you assemble the filling and streusel topping.
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup of brown sugar
Peach Apricot or peach preserves
5 or 6 regular sized peaches
5-8 small apricots
Slice up the fruit into thin slices. Sprinkle a little lemon juice over them to keep them from turning brown and toss gently with sugar, corn starch, flour, spices. Set aside.
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup oatmeal (same kind as above)
3 tablespoons of butter diced up
1/3 cup sugar (white and brown mixed together)
cinnamon and ginger to taste
Mix all the stuff together for the streusel topping in a small bowl until uniform crumbs are formed. Set aside.
Remove crust from fridge and pour fruit gently and evenly into crust. Dot fruit filling with dabs of preserves. You aren’t completely covering the top with preserves, you are dotting. Evenly distribute streusel topping over this and bake for approximately 35 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees depending upon your oven. You may wish to create foil “hood” to cover crust edge so it doesn’t burn.
Cool pie before serving on a counter or table or wherever it can cool off unmolested by pets or humans. Serve with whipped cream sweetened with honey and ginger or vanilla ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers.
When it is hot, even I don’t want to cook as much. So today I was feeling like pasta salad, but I wanted something different from spiral pasta or say, tortellini. I opened the freezer and grabbed a bag of mini ravioli. Why not? If you can make a tortellini salad, why not use mini ravioli?
So I created a vinaigrette and added a bit of fresh lemon juice, some mustard and a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise and whisked it together. If you wanted to you could use a store-bought salad dressing. I would suggest if that was the case, an Italian or Caesar or Balsamic vinaigrette.
I cooked the mini ravioli to the minimum of cooking time as per the package. I drained them and put them in a bowl to cool.
In another bowl I took a Vidalia onion, cucumber, a couple of tomatoes, fresh green beans blanched and chopped, half a jar of roasted peppers chopped up, fresh herbs (parsley, basil, and dill), a cup or so of chick peas (“ceci”), and a small jalapeno pepper (seeded, cored, and diced), tossed it in the dressing, and then gently folded in the cooled mini ravioli.
I adjusted for salt and pepper, et voila! Not your mama’s pasta salad.
I may toss some fresh crumbled queso fresco on it when I serve it. Or I might just leave it as it. I love queso fresco.
*Important to note is to NOT overmix this or the ravioli will literally rupture. Do NOT over dress this or the ravioli will fall apart from that too.
I think it tastes pretty good!
Hmmm I just realized about a year ago, Conde Nast contacted me to use another one of my everything but the kitchen sink recipes in a cookbook being published in the Fall of 2012. I need to follow up about that – I do not even know what the cookbook is to be called…..