Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Marinara Sauce by Colleen

Hi Barb --
Here is another recipe for Feast Everyday from the food blog The Italian Dish. Laddie introduced me to the blog. Not every recipe on it is a winner, but this one is really good.

I usually triple or quadruple the recipe in a big pot and then freeze smaller portions. It is ridiculously simple and fast to make. I often use San Marzano crushed tomatoes because they are going to end up pureed anyway and they are slightly less expensive than the whole tomatoes.

I do use a little chili pepper per Charlotte's request, although it is good without. The sauce has great flavor and is a good consistency - not too thin and not to thick - in terms of coating pasta.


Marinara Sauce
(from The Italian Dish)

you can add a little red hot chili pepper to the sauce, if you want a little zip ---

makes 2 cups

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1/8 cup grated carrot
1 28-ounce can San Marzano Tomatoes
1 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoons dried thyme
a few fresh basil leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

In a large heavy pot, gently heat olive oil, onions, sea salt and a little freshly ground pepper (and the chili pepper, if using) and saute over low heat until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add garlic and saute for a minute. Add carrots and saute another 5 minutes.

Add the San Marzano tomatoes and their liquid and break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon (or
just crush them with your hands, like I do).

Add the herbs and sugar, if you are using it. Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 20 to 30 minutes,
until the sauce has thickened.

Puree the tomato sauce either with an immersion blender right in the pot, or transfer the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth.

If you want to make a double batch, the sauce freezes very well.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chive Cheese Bread

 Chive Cheese Bread

I continue to experiment with the No Knead recipes in Jim Lahey's book --- mostly making variations with whole wheat, rye and buckwheat.  But our chives in the garden are going crazy this Spring, so I decided to add them to his basic cheese bread.  

This bread is quite good --- the mild onion flavor of the chives goes well with the Fontina cheese. Black pepper adds a spicy element. 

 You can make the recipe without the chives and it would be excellent, too.

Chive Cheese Bread
(adapted from Jim Lahey's No Knead Bread cookbook)

400 grams bread flour
200 grams 1/2 inch cubed Fontina cheese
1 t. salt (taste your cheese and if it is salty use a little less)
3/4 t. yeast
1 1/3 cup of 55-65 degree cool water
lots of chopped chives --- 1/2 cup
lots of black pepper, at least 1/2 t.
extra flour, cornmeal or oat bran for dusting

20 hours before you want to bake the bread, mix together the flour, cheese, chives, salt and yeast in a large bowl.  Add the water, and mix to form a wet dough.  Add more water if needed, if you have low humidity. I added about 2-3 T.  more. 

Cover it with plastic wrap, so it doesn't dry out, and place in a warm room overnight to develop grow and develop flavor.  It will get bubbly. 
Generously flour a surface, and turn it out, and grab the edges into the center until you have a ball and can turn it over.  Use a flat scraper if needed. 
Place the dough on a very generously coated cotton kitchen towel --- use lots of  flour, or cornmeal, or oat bran --- otherwise, your dough will stick to the towel. 
Cover it loosely and place it in a warm place to rise.  I put it in a gently warmed oven (i.e., I turn it on for a minute, then turn it off) and place a tray of water in the bottom of the oven, to create a moist atmosphere. 

It will take at least an hour and maybe two to double and keep an impression when you touch it.  Remove it about a half hour before you think it will be ready so you can preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Half an hour before the end of the last rise, place a clean dry covered dutch oven in to preheat. 

Carefully remove the hot pot, carefully remove the cover, and carefully place the dough into the pot. 

Cover it again and return to the hot oven.  Bake for 1/2 hours.

Remove the cover and bake again for 10 -15 minutes until dark golden brown.

Remove from oven and remove cover and let it cool enough so you can get the bread out with a spatula.  (My stuck to the bottom -- due to the cheese --- but after it cooled down a little it popped out.)

Let it cool on a rack for at least hour before slicing.

The inside will be loaded with cheese and have the mild taste of onions --- similar to a onion bagel but not quite as strong.  It will be chewy and moist. 

Tom loved it. It's on the make-again list.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Chocolate Cream Pie by Colleen

Colleen's Chocolate Cream Pie
Hi Barb ---

Here is a link to a chocolate cream pie that I've made a few times the past two weeks. A friend made it for me for my birthday once and Charlotte, William and Buddy just LOVE it.


I do change the crust recipe to use a whole box of Nabisco chocolate wafer cookies with 1 stick of butter but leave the sugar amount the same.

I also use more whipped cream for the topping: 2 cups whipping cream with 1/2 cup powdered sugar plus a teaspoon vanilla, whipped stiff.

It is not very hard to make, but there is considerable chilling time involved, so it is defiinitely a "make ahead" dessert or make in the morning if you want it for dinner.

It is an old-fashioned dessert.  But sometimes that is nice.  Kind of like whoopie cake.  All I know is the kids will fight each other to get the last piece!

  --- Colleen

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Beef-Broccoli Lo Mein by Tom

Beef-Broccoli Lo Mein

Monday is often my time to cook as Barbara is usually off painting.  This Monday was no exception, except Barbara was at the lake house and I was waiting for David to go play golf.  While waiting, though, I thumbed through our very well worn cookbook "The Best of Cooking Light Everyday Favorites", and came across this beef-broccoli lo mein recipe that caught my eye.  What made it interesting to me was the fact that it used pasta instead of lo mein noodles.  A different kind of twist.  The rest of the ingredients were pretty standard, but all sounded good.  I actually prepped everything except the pasta prior to playing golf, and then threw them all together when I returned.  This made for an easy meal to make.

This dish has all of the taste characteristics of the authentic version of beef with broccoli without the crunch of lo mein noodles or the fattiness of the sauce.  Since it came from "Cooking Light" you can bet it is nutritious and low in fat and caloric content.  Barbara had seconds, so I know it was good!  David stayed for dinner and enjoyed it as well.


Beef-Broccoli Lo Mein
(Cooking Light)
Serves 6

8 ounces of uncooked spaghetti (I used buccatini instead)
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves minced
3 cups chopped broccoli florets
1 1/2 cup sliced onions
1 pound flank steak cut across the grain into thin strips
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic paste or sauce

Heat the peanut oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the ginger and the garlic and saute approximately 30 seconds.  Next add the broccoli and the onions and saute for at least three more minutes.  The onion should just be starting to soften.
Cook the pasta per the directions on the box without salt or oil in the cooking water until the pasta is al dente.  Drain the pasta in a colander and then put into a large bowl that has the dark sesame oil in it.  Thoroughly mix the pasta with the sesame oil and then set aside.

Next add the flank steak strips and saute for another five minutes or so, or until it is well browned and cooked to your liking.
Dump the pasta into the saute pan.  Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, oyster sauce and chili-garlic sauce.  Stir the mixture constantly to both reheat the pasta as well as to get the remaining ingredients thoroughly infused with the vegetables and flank steak.  This will take another couple of minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, and plate it up...and enjoy!  Barbara made a nice green salad to go along with this, which was a perfect complement to this dish.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Chicken Marbella from Silver Palette

I made a big batch of Chicken Marbella (from the popular Silver Palette cookbook from the 80's) to have on hand while our household was turned upside down during the last 3 months with contractors here working on our master bathroom. 

Chicken Marbella has many fans, and probably just as many people who don't understand why people like it.  It has olives, capers, prunes, lots of garlic and oregano, tangy vinegar and fruity olive oil, white wine, bay leaves, brown sugar. 

We are fans! But think it is even better if you add some heat to counteract all of the sweetness -- we use hot cherry peppers or red pepper flakes.

We do batches of legs and thighs, with the bone in (versus chicken quarters) but you could do whatever chicken part you like. 

The first time, while it is still hot from the oven, we serve it with grilled asparagus.  Then cool it down and freeze it in 4 cup containers we can pull out to make quick additional meals.

Next, we make the leftovers into a pasta dish, using penne and the pan juices, and the meat removed from the bone. It is good either warm or cold.

But, our new favorite version uses Tom's Graduate School Chicken technique:  We put basmati rice in the bottom of a casserole with the appropriate amount of chicken stock to cook the rice, add sliced hot cherry peppers, then layer the leftover Chicken Marbella with pan juices on top, cover it and bake it for an hour until the edges of the rice get brown and crispy like paella. 

Note:  Chicken Marbella must be marinated over night to keep it moist, so plan ahead.

Chicken Marbella
(Silver Palette, page 86)

Serves a lot! Good for a party dish.

4 Chickens, 2.5 pounds each, quartered
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice (we used the whole jar)
6 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine (be generous)
1/4 Italian parsley, finely chopped

Our addition -- Optional:  sliced hot cherry peppers or dried red pepper flakes, to taste

In a large bowl combine chicken quarters, garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves.  Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly.  Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them. 
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices.  Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juices.

With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter.  Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices, and sprinkle generously with parsley.  Pour remaining pan juices into a sauce boat and serve along with chicken.

To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in cooking juices before transferring to a serving platter.  If chicken has been covered and refrigerated, allow it to return to room temperature before serving.  Spoon some of the reserved juice over chicken.