Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's the time of the Season for Chicken Soup

This is a slow day recipe.  The best part is fiddling with the broth, skimming slowly and ensuring a clear broth.  I end up using about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt and 1 Tablespoon of ground pepper for the entire pot.  Some Garlic powder and onion powder are also good additions.  But the entire soup is the vegetable broth.  DO NOT SKIP THE PARSNIPS!

                      Chicken Soup for what ails you

  1              pound  carrots -- cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (I cube them)
  1              pound  parsnips -- cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (again, cube them)
  1             large  onion -- cut into 1/2-inch dice (1 to 2) (1 pound)
  1            4 pound  chicken -- rinsed
                        Coarse salt and pepper                        
  2                  c  egg noodles -- optional

  1.  In a large pot, combine carrots, parsnips, onion, and chicken, breast-side down. Add enough water just to cover (about 12 cups). Season with salt. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 60 minutes. Skim any foam that rises to the top and discard. Never cover but do turn the chicken over after about 30 minutes.
  2.  Remove chicken from pot, and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from bones; discarding skin and bones. Tear meat into bite-size pieces, and return to pot. Cook until heated through. Taste, and adjust for seasoning

 3.  Cook noodles separately.  Add to bowl and cover with hot chicken, broth and vegetables

the bonus is that with a light meal you can have a great dessert

                            Bourbon Pecan Pie

  1        cup  sugar
  3        tablespoons  butter -- melted
  1/2     cup  corn syrup
  3        large  eggs -- beaten
  1 1/2  cups  pecan halves (enough to cover the bottom of the pie shell)
  2        tablespoons  bourbon
  1        teaspoon vanilla
  1        pie shell -- (9-inch) unbaked

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, eggs,bourbon and vanilla, and stir until all ingredients are combined.  Place the nuts in the unbaked pie shell. Pour mixture into an unbaked pie shell, and place on a heavy-duty cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and continue to bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until pie is set. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

An old favorite, updated

For 15 years I have used a basic tomato sauce recipe that I gleaned from Martha Stewart Living.  What I didn't realize is that the basic recipe had morphed into something different.  So I present the original and my revised version for your perusal.

They are both good, they are both cheap and they are both easy.

From Martha:
                   Perfect Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce

  2        tablespoons  plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1 1/2         pounds  baby pear tomatoes (or cherry or vine-ripened tomatoes) -- or one 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes
  8             ounces  thin -- best-quality spaghetti
  4        tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  4             cloves  garlic -- cut into 1/8-inch-thick pieces
     1/4      teaspoon  crushed red-pepper flakes
     1/4           cup  fresh basil or parsley leaves -- loosely packed and torn
                        Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)(optional)

1.   In a tall stockpot, bring 3 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil.

 2.   If using pear tomatoes, wash and stem. If using vine-ripened tomatoes, score bottoms with a small "X"; blanch 5 seconds in boiling water. Plunge tomatoes into an ice-water bath, then remove the skins. Using a chef's knife, cut flesh from cores, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips; place in a sieve set over a bowl. Press the cores of tomatoes through sieve; discard seeds. If using canned tomatoes, strain, and pass through a food mill.

 3.   Drop spaghetti into boiling water; stir. Cook until al dente, about 11 minutes, according to package instructions.

 4.   Place a 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat; add oil. Add garlic to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is lightly golden, about 30 seconds. Add red-pepper flakes and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until garlic is medium golden, about 1 minute.

 5.   Increase heat to high. Tilting pan at an angle, add tomatoes. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down, pear tomatoes begin to burst, or canned tomatoes begin to thicken, 5 to 6 minutes. If using pear tomatoes, mash a few with a spoon. If pear tomatoes start to get too dry, add a little water from the stockpot.

 6.   Drain pasta in a colander, reserving 1 cup liquid in case sauce gets too dry. Add pasta to sauce in sauté pan; cook until sauce begins to cling to pasta, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in basil; cook 30 seconds more. Divide among bowls, and sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

S(Internet Address):
And Mine:

                    Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce My Way

  4        tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  4             cloves  garlic -- thinly sliced
     1/4      teaspoon  crushed red-pepper flakes
     1/4           cup  tomato paste -- loosely packed and torn
     1/4           cup  red wine
  1                can  whole  tomatoes -- (28 ounce)
  1              pound  capellini
                        Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)(optional)

Press the canned tomatoes through a food mill. Set aside.

Place a 12-inch sauté pan on the cold burner and add oil. Add garlic and the  red-pepper flakes to the pan.  Let stand in the oil for 15 minutes then slowly raise the heat.  Bring the garlic to a slight simmer.

Add the tomato paste to the simmering garlic.  Cook for a few minutes, breaking up the paste into the oil.

Add the wine, bring up the heat and simmer until the wine and tomato paste have thickened.

Add the tomatoes to the mixture.  Bring to a simmer, season with salt and pepper.  Cover slightly and let cook for 30 minutes.

Drop spaghetti into boiling water; stir. Cook until al dente, according to package instructions.

 Drain pasta in a colander, reserving 1 cup liquid in case sauce gets too dry. Add pasta to sauce in sauté pan; cook until sauce begins to cling to pasta, 3 to 4 minutes. Divide among bowls, and sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

Optional:  Add 1 teaspoon of Penzey's Pizza seasoning to the sauce.  Or 1 teaspoon of Penzey's Pasta Sprinkles.

Optional:  After step 2 add 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms to the pan and saute until golden.  Proceed with step 3.

What I have found is
  • I really prefer to mill or blend (when I have a working blender, which I don't) whole canned tomatoes. 
  • The garlic and pepper flakes taste better when started in cold oil
  • Herbs are completely optional.  Good, but optional.
  • Red wine or red wine vinegar bring out the tomato flavor.  Or vodka and cream. 
The lesson is that the recipe is the suggestion, what is important is to find the method behind the recipe.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Knit! Girls short cardigan with lace yoke

After three tries at different projects for this yarn I found one that I thought worked nicely.  The yarn was Sensations self-patterning from JoAnn's, about a 3 weight.  I hope my granddaughter likes it.  The basic pattern was from Lion Brand yarns but I took a few liberties along the way.

 I try to keep measurements of the kids because sweaters are a lot like cooking - if you know the technique you can improvise.

I finally thought to take a picture of the sweater when I got to the lace portion.  The sleeves had been done separately on DP needles then added to body.   I love knitting in the round, mainly because I hate seaming.

The lace was k2tog, yo for one row then knit knit purl knit between.

Bottom and sides were seed stitch.  This does help the edges lay flat.

I found a button in my button box that matched beautifully.  The crocheted chain fringe adds some weight to the hem, plus who doesn't like fringe!

Total cost for yarn (free button) was $1.00.  I used two skeins to make a girls size 8.  The yarn was on clearance.  Total time invested - about 6 hours.  That includes ribbeting three rows because I wasn't paying attention!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cheap and easy, warm and wonderful.

this recipe classifies as truly cheap.  but it doesn't taste cheap.  and on a cold rainy day like today, with a loaf of fresh honey wheat bread, it was wonderful.

                          "Lobster" Corn Chowder

  2             strips  bacon -- diced
  1                cup  onion -- diced, 1 large
  1                Cup  celery -- diced
     1/2      teaspoon  red pepper flakes
  2        tablespoons  flour
                        house seasoning
  2               cups  chicken stock
  1                can  evaporated milk
     1/2      teaspoon  thyme
  1                Can  creamed corn
  2               cups  potatoes -- diced
  1            package  imitation crab or lobster (I do kind of pinch it apart so the pieces are more shredded)

Get out the heavy pot and start rendering the bacon!
Add the onion,celery, herbs and spices.  Let it sweat.  Enjoy the wonderful smell in the house.
Stir in the flour to coat everything.  Brown it a bit.
Now the chicken broth, stirring the entire time.  Then add the entire can of evaporated milk and the creamed corn and potatoes. Cover
Simmer, simmer, simmer until the potatoes are soft.
Stir in the fish and bring back to a simmer.

I think you could serve worms on toast if you first started with bacon and onions sauteeing together.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dinner times two

Sunday's pot roast became tonight's steak pie.  With the rain, cold and sleet (yep, sleet) this smells heavenly baking.  Oh, either one smells heavenly.

We had the roast with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.  The pie was accompanied with a wedge of iceberg lettuce dashed with Blue cheese dressing and Gorgonzola crumbles.

                              Beef Pot Roast

  3             Pounds  chuck roast
  4        tablespoons  flour
  2          teaspoons  house seasoning (equal parts  pepper, onion powder and garlic powder to 2 parts of kosher salt)
  2        tablespoons  canola oil
  1              large  onion -- chopped
  4                     carrots -- chopped
  2             stalks  celery -- chopped
     1/4           cup  tomato paste
  1                can  beef broth
     1/2           cup  red wine
     1/2           cup  red wine vinegar
  1         tablespoon  Worcestershire sauce

Heat oven to 300.
season the meat with the house seasoning then coat with flour
heat canola oil in heavy ditch oven. Add meat and brown thoroughly on all sides
remove meat.  Add onion, carrot and celery to pot.  Cook slowly until onions start to become golden.
Add tomato paste to the pot.  Stir and brown the paste until a film forms on the bottom of the pot
Deglaze with the wine, wine vinegar and beef broth, in that order.
Return the meat to the pot.  Add water to bring the liquid to the top edge of the beef.  Add the Worcestershire.  Adjust the seasonings
Place in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours.
Remove meat.  Sieve the solids from the liquid.  Remove the fat.  Thicken with Wondra flour for gravy.

                                 Beef Pie

                        Beef Pot Roast -- leftovers
  1                cup  peas and carrots, frozen
  2                     potatoes -- peeled and chopped
  1                     ready pie crust

Heat oven to 350
Cook the potato in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Set aside
Chop the beef, thin the leftover gravy with water or beef broth, stir in the carrots and peas, stir in the potato
turn out into a deep dish pie pan
cover with ready-crust.  Spray with cooking spray
Bake 350 for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.  Should be bubbly and golden.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

green tomatoes and jalapenos

Do you know what you get when you puree 3 quarts of green tomatoes with 6 of the atomic jalapenos we grew this year?

Drain cleaner.

This was a failed attempt to make some tomato-jalapeno puree to use in chili this winter.  I was going to freeze it in portions but this stuff would have melted the plastic bag.  It had core melt-down written all over it.  If we had any bugs left in the garden this would have had them packing up and taking the evacuation option.  The small taste I had by dipping my little finger into the slurry has not only seared my mouth but I think my fingernail melted.  Two gin martinis have not erased the heat.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Don't Panic!

We panicked.  Frost was predicted!!  Frost!!  My poor tomatoes! my poor jalapenos!
 my poor okra!

We picked them  Now I have a gallon of green tomatoes and about 1 dozen jalapenos to deal with.

Pickles?  Marmalade?  Relish?

How about chop them up, stuff into freezer bags and throw into chili this winter?  Green tomatoes make a nice substitute for tomatillos in green enchilada sauce and this will be a lot less mess.  But I will have to seed the jalapenos so there is the choking and coughing involved there.

What shall I do?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Dinner

Before starting anything, slice the onions, mushrooms and beef.  Salt and pepper the beef.  Start the water to cook the noodles.  the longest cooking time is the onions, which take about 15 minutes to fully caramelize.  I keep a bowl of onions that are already caramelized with Aleppo pepper in the fridge so I can stir in whatever amount I want in whatever I am cooking at the moment.  They (the onions) are really good in scrambled eggs or egg whites.

I think the beef is good in this but the whole thing with only the mushrooms would also be great. Omit the beef base and use something like Vegemite to get the meatiness.

And the beef is easier to slice thinly if slightly frozen.

                             Beef Stroganoff

Serving Size  : 6 

  1 Pound  sirloin steak, trimmed -- sliced 1/8" thick, against the grain
  8 ounces  mushroom -- sliced
  1 medium  onion -- sliced
  6 tablespoons  butter -- divided
  2 teaspoons  Worcestershire sauce
  1 cup  white wine
  2 tablespoons  beef base -- Knorr brand is good
1/2 cup  water
                        salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon  garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon  Aleppo pepper
  1 teaspoon  Dijon mustard
  1 cup  sour cream
  12 ounces  egg noodles -- cooked and tossed with butter and dill weed

Start the onions in a pan with 3 tablespoons of butter, salt, pepper and Aleppo pepper.  Caramelize then remove.

Toss the sliced beef with salt and pepper.

Add 2 T. butter to pan and quickly sear the beef.  Remove while still rare, leaving juices and butter behind.  Sprinkle the Worcestershire over the beef and set aside.

Add the last tablespoon of butter and the sliced mushrooms.  Start them with a little salt and pepper, then add back the onions.  Cook until the mushrooms are tender and reduced.  Add the garlic powder.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine, then add the beef base, mustard and water.  Bring to a simmer.

Return the beef and all the accumulated juices to the pan.  Bring everything up to a simmer.  Simmer 10 minutes to tenderize the beef.

Just before serving over buttered dill noodles stir in the sour cream and gently heat through.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fast and Slow - two meals out of very little

I have been trying to cook with what I have on hand because, brother, I have stashed a lot of stuff. 

Saturday night we try to eat a light dinner because of snacks with the horror movie later that evening.  I had leftover broccoli in the fridge and a 10 pound bag of onions I had just gotten at the wholesale club.  I was dying to cook some onions, slowly, with Aleppo pepper.  Two big onions filled my skillet, which had 2 tablespoons of butter melted in it.  I added a pinch of salt and the Aleppo and let it slowly turn into red gold.
Broccoli-cheese puffs

Into two individual dishes went the broccoli, chopped.  About 1/8 cup of the onion goodness in each, followed by 1/4 cup of shredded sharp cheddar.  I whipped 4 eggs with 1 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of self-rising flour, seasoned this with some salt, pepper and nutmeg, then poured it over the vegetables and cheese.  Into the oven for 25 minutes at 350 and dinner!

Today I went back to the freezer for turkey legs left from the fresh turkey that I dismembered last Christmas.  These were seasoned, browned and braised in white wine with all the usual suspects (onion, carrot and celery).  I put them in a 275 degree oven for 4 hours.
the bacon

I started this with two strips of bacon in the pan, browned then removed.

The turkey legs had been severed at the ankle, allowing me to remove those pesky leg bones and "needles" after cooking.  I seasoned them with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.
the legs, minus the ends
 About two small onions, 4 carrots and the inside of a bunch of celery heart that I found wilting in the vegetable drawer went in to brown up.  Then white wine, a little water a little pinch of salt and some pepper.

When it was done, I removed the meat, removed the skin and bones from the meat, then shredded the meat into bite-size pieces.

The vegetables in the pan were smashed with the potato masher to make the sauce.  The meat was added back to the pan and the whole thing tasted again for seasoning.


white wine and Penzey's poultry seasoning

Served with steamed brussel sprouts and smashed yukon gold potatoes.  All that was missing was the cranberry.  The best thing - the house smelled divine the entire afternoon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2 pounds of Sirloin, more than two meals

This is a one meat-two+ meals thing.  The sirloin in the marinade grills up beautifully but keep it on the rare side since leftovers are going to become Savory Sirloin with Peppers and Onions. 

 Grilled Sirloin in Kentucky Bourbon Marinade

1 cup  beef stock
1/3 cup  bourbon
1/8 cup  soy sauce
3 cloves  garlic -- minced
3 green onions -- sliced (these are totally optional and I've often used chives because they grow in my garden
                        fresh ground pepper
2 pounds  sirloin steak, trimmed and tenderized

Combine the stock, bourbon, soy sauce, garlic, onions and pepper in a bowl. 
Pour over steak and allow to marinate 4 hours, refrigerated.  Turn after two hours.
Grill over medium, medium low heat until rare.

Save half the steak for Savory Sirloin.

This is NOT a chinese pepper steak.  It really pops with some chopped pickled banana peppers on it but since we really like things that are vinegary that may be personal.  I did envision it as an open-faced sandwich and provolone melted over it.  Maybe Italian beef?

Savory Sirloin Beef with onions and peppers

 Leftover Grilled Sirloin in Kentucky Bourbon Marinade -- (1/2 recipe) sliced thinly against the grain
3 medium  onion -- sliced
1 Large  red bell pepper
4 tablespoons  butter
1/8 teaspoon  garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon  onion powder
                        salt and pepper
2 tablespoons  Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon  Tabasco sauce

Start 2 T. butter in a hot skillet.  Add the sliced onions and salt.  Caramelize slowly over low heat.
Add the sliced peppers, raising the heat.  Cook until tender and colored on the edges.
Add the sliced steak, seasonings, Worcestershire and Tabasco and the remaining butter.  Lower heat to warm without cooking.
Serve over toast, noodles, rice, potato, whatever you fancy.

Now the cost - I got the sirloin at about $3.50 per pound because I bought an entire sirloin and had it cut into 1 pound pieces, about 1 1/2" thick.  The thicker cut makes it more versatile.  Slice it raw and it becomes strogonoff or pepper steak.  Whole it grills, braises or sautes.  And there are a lot of steaks in a whole sirloin.  Red bell peppers were $1.50 this week and are a nutritional powerhouse, onions are about $2 per pound and I used 1/2 pound.  Bourbon is always around the house, as is butter, and it didn't take that much.  Beef broth was a little beef base dissolved in warm water.  Garlic, pennies.   So for less than $10 dollars I got two meals for two and leftovers of the Savory Sirloin to make a casserole with rice (also a leftover in the fridge) for lunch for two.
You should see what I can do with a chicken!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The garden is coming to a close

The heat and the drought have played a number on the harvest.  But we still have Okra.  Lots and lots of okra.  So tonight it was the major player in dinner.  We had Okra stewed with Tomatoes, Smothered pork chops and buttered rice.  A little trip to South Carolina.

I love those little Philly Cream Cheese Minis.  I like to keep them on hand to stir into sauces.  And I used Penzey's Cajun seasoning on the chops.  For chicken base the Sam's club Tone's chicken base is my choice.  I haven't found a good beef base but the chicken is great.  If the recipe only calls for a little chicken stock, rather than open a can or carton I will mix up the chicken base in hot water.

                            Okra and Tomatoes

  2             slices  bacon -- diced small pieces
  1              small  onion -- peeled, chopped
  1              clove  garlic -- minced
  1                can  diced tomatoes - (15 oz ea)
  1 1/2           cups  tomatoes -- diced
  2          teaspoons  chicken base
  2               cups  cut (1") fresh okra -- Top removed, cut lengthwise into 1" pieces
                        Freshly-ground black pepper -- to taste
  1              pinch  cayenne

Cook bacon until crisp and remove.  Saute onion and garlic in bacon fat until tender.  Add tomatoes, chicken base, and pepper.  Stir well and let simmer for about 20 to 40 minutes.  Adjust seasoning if needed.
Meanwhile wash okra and cut into pieces.  Add the okra and simmer until okra is done, about 20 more minutes.
This recipe yields 4 servings.

                           Smothered Pork Chops

  4                     center-cut pork chops, bone-in or boneless
                        Salt and freshly ground black pepper -- or Cajun seasoning
                        Ground cayenne pepper
  2        tablespoons  olive oil
     1/4           cup  all-purpose flour -- spread on a plate
  2             medium  green bell peppers -- stemmed, cored, and membranes removed, cut into strips
  1                     yellow onion -- trimmed, cut lengthwise
  2             cloves  garlic -- minced
  1                cup  chicken broth
  2        tablespoons  cream cheese
  1         tablespoon  Wondra® Quick-mixing flour

Trim the excess fat from the chops and season well with salt, pepper, and cayenne or Cajun seasoning blend. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Dust the seasoned chops in flour, shake off the excess. Brown well, about 3 minutes per side, and remove them to a plate.
Add the bell peppers and onions, to the skillet, and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook  about another minute. Pour in the broth and simmer 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
Add chops to pan and move the vegetables to the top of the pork chops .  Cover the pan and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until chops are tender.
Stir cream cheese into the liquid in the pan.  When dissolved sprinkle the Wondra over the liquid and whisk in.  Bring to a boil to thicken

We still have okra, chard, some small tomatoes (really small) and there are still 2 basil plants.  I have already frozen basil but will probably freeze more.  We tried one of the jars of Okra Pickles and they were pretty good.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Where did my garden go?

 Over a month of temperatures in the 90's and no rain to amount to anything and my poor garden is a parched wasteland. 

The jalapenos did produce like mad until the past week.  I managed to make 8 half pints of jalapeno jelly and 5 half pints of pepper relish from the production of just four plants stuck in a bag of composted manure.

The tomatoes came on strong then the fruit got smaller and smaller.  I still have green tomatoes on the plants but they are about golf ball size.  And the plants are drying out.  All told we only canned 4 pints of salsa.
This flower is the one of the best reasons to grow okra.
 The okra is about 4 feet high and if I don't check everyday we find one the size of a banana.  We pickled two pints of okra, which is selling in the store for almost $5.  And the seed was saved from last year.  So I have no investment in the okra other than space and it has given me both gorgeous plants, lovely flowers and lots of tasty little green pods which we have steamed, stewed, fried and sauteed.
Another lovely okra blossom

 Among the tomatoes that I had started from seed was a cucumber plant.  The seed just hitchhiked in when I was setting out the little seedlings.  This plant has managed to get into everything and produce nothing until last week.  We found an almost perfect 6" cucumber lurking under the base. 

I had done 4 successive green bean plantings.  The first and second produced well. The third and fourth were flops.  The first planting is still setting beans but the dry weather hasn't been doing them any favors.

I lost all my squash and the majority of my cucumbers to squash bugs and blight.  The squash bugs were fierce this year.

The Swiss chard is puny but still going.  Hopefully we can cut that into the frost.
The sneaky cucumber

Tonight I am cooking pinto beans and cornbread, a recipe I got from Ree Drummond's website  Pioneer Woman.  She will have her own show on Food Network starting this weekend!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

It's 90 Degrees so of Course I'm making Bolognese

I am indulging in my favorite Saturday afternoon activity - cooking and watching cooking shows while I cook with a glass of wine in my hand.  I have been canning the meager bounty of our garden (shouldn't complain, last year we got squat) but this is different.  This is my very favorite meat sauce for pasta.  And it only gets better with reheats.

This is not a quick recipe.  This takes 3-4 hours to do correctly.  Longer if you double because the cooking times just double as well.

                         Classic  Bolognese Sauce

  4        tablespoons  unsalted butter
     1/2        medium  onion -- diced
  1              small  carrot -- diced
  1              stalk  celery -- diced
     1/4         pound  ground beef chuck
     1/4         pound  ground veal
     1/4         pound  ground pork
  1               cups  whole milk
  1               cups  dry white wine
  28            Ounces  whole tomatoes with juice -- milled or crushed

Mince celery, onion, carrot and garlic in food processor until a coarse paste.

Heat butter in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. Add vegetables and saute until  browned, about 20 minutes. Add ground meat and 1/2 teaspoon salt; crumble meat into tiny pieces with edge of wooden spoon. Cook, continuing to crumble meat, until  browned, about 20 minutes.

Add milk and bring to a heavy simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 15 to 25 minutes.

Add wine and bring to a heavy simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 15 to 25 minutes longer.

Add the crushed tomatoes and their juice and  bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low so that sauce continues to simmer just barely, with occasional bubble or two at surface,  about 3-4 hours.  Add additional water as needed during cooking.  Adjust seasonings with salt to taste.

Last week we canned salsa (5 pints), pickled Okra (2 pints) and Jalapeno Jelly (8 half-pints).  Jalapenos are still producing so I think I'll make jalapeno relish.  That should wrap up our hot and spicy needs for the winter.

I tried to take a picture of my bolognese but the camera lens fogged.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Finally, enough tomatoes for Salsa

There are a couple landmarks in the garden, in my mind.  The first batch of slow cooked green beans, the first summer squash on the grill, and the first tomato with salt.  But a secondary landmark has to be the first time there are enough tomatoes that we can make a batch of salsa fresco.

This year we had the bonus of our own hotter than hades in July jalapeno peppers.

Tonight I roasted off a couple of chicken breasts (you could do this on the grill but would miss the continual smoking and acrid odor of chicken fat on the walls of the oven), shredded them off the bone into a little of the reserved (what didn't pop onto the sides and floor of the oven) fat and served the meat on some fresh corn tortillas with the salsa fresco.  We have a lot of chicken left because this was totally about the salsa.

How to make the salsa - chop tomatoes, vidalia onion, cilantro and jalapeno.  Add some salt and lime juice.  Proportions are a matter of taste.  Given the incendiary nature of the jalapenos this year I used one pepper to 6 tomatoes.  And an entire bunch of cilantro.  But only half a vidalia. And about 2 Tablespoons of lime juice.  Only 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

I am thinking omelet with Mexican Cheese preshreds and salsa for breakfast.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Summer Kitchen

The threat of rain kept me from crock-potting on the porch, plus we went to see the last Harry Potter film today.  The film was great, cried like a fool.

 Today I made a pressed sandwich using the giardiniera I made last week.  Cost for 4 servings - about $3.00.  We get the mini-baquettes at Sams 6/$2.89 and freeze them.   For a side we have Jacques Pepin's Butterbean Salad.

giardiniera, Chicago-style

8                     jalapeños (or serrano peppers) -- sliced thickly  (I only used 3, they were HOT)
2                     each -- diced: red  bell peppers, carrot, yellow onion, celery rib
1/4          head  cauliflower -- roughly chopped (broken into bite sized pieces. )
1/2             c  salt, kosher
3             cloves  garlic -- minced
1/2             c  pimento-stuffed green olives
1               tbsp  dried oregano
1/2           tsp  red pepper flakes -- (1/2 to 1)
1/2           tsp  celery seeds
                        freshly ground black pepper
1                  c  white vinegar
 1                  c  vegetable oil

combine the jalapeños, bell peppers, celery, carrot, onion and cauliflower in the biggest bowl you've got; stir in the salt. add cold water to cover vegetables; cover bowl. refrigerate 12 hours.

drain salt water; rinse vegetables. set aside in the bowl.

combine the garlic, olives, oregano, red pepper flakes, celery seeds and black pepper to taste in a medium bowl; set aside.  Pour the vinegar into a medium bowl; whisk in the seasonings. slowly drizzle in the oil and whisk until completely emulsified.

divide Vegetables up into glass jars and top with the marinade.  Refrigerate at least 48 hours before using. the giardiniera will keep in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 weeks.
For Sandwiches, chop up some of this in the mini-Cuisinart and use like relish.  I blanketed both sides of the bread with this before adding the meat, cheese, pepperoncini and sliced garden tomatoes, wrapping it up and pressing it in the fridge under the milk cartons.

Butter Bean Salad - because I cannot get enough beans

  1        can  drained butter beans (bit not rinsed) -- (15.5 ounces)
  1        tablespoon  Dijon mustard (whole grain is nice here)
  2        tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  3        tablespoons  chopped onion
  1        teaspoon  chopped garlic
  3        tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
1/2      teaspoon  salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Mix together in a bowl .

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Kitchen

We are entering what the weather geeks are calling a "Dome of Heat"  with a lot of exclamation points and that edge of hysteria to the voice.  I will agree that the heat and humidity make it uncomfortable and that the utilities are being maxed out with demand.

So I got up at 6am to bake my cookies - new recipe based on some internet research and the totally delicious St. Hildegarde Cookies from Simply Divine Bakery in Ferdinand, Indiana.  We got the cookies as part of our monastic shopping spree at Gethsemani.  Also got stinky cheese and fruitcake, arnica and herb ointment and a pocket Thomas Merton.

I got the cookies made and my recipe is pretty close to the originals.  I may have cut them a little too thin, it looks like 3/16 inch or 1/2 centimeter is the correct thickness.  But the taste is spot-on.  I noticed that the purchased cookies listed almonds in the ingredients but none of the web recipes had them.  Also, the spices were all over the place.  These are supposed to be clove-forward, crunchy and spicey.


                    St. Hildegarde's Longevity Cookies

     3/4           cup  butter or margarine (1 1/2 sticks)
  1                cup  brown sugar
     1/2           cup  almonds -- chopped fine (whizzed them in the tiny Cuisinart)
  1                     egg
  1                tsp  baking powder
     1/4           tsp  salt
  1 1/2           cups  flour
  1                tsp  ground cinnamon
  1                tsp  ground nutmeg
     1/2           tsp  ground cloves

"Let butter soften and then cream it with the brown sugar and almonds.  Beat in the egg.

Sift together the dry ingredients.  Add half the dry ingredients and mix.  Add the other half and mix thoroughly. 

Work dough into shape in plastic wrap and chill 2 hours or overnight.  Log should have flat sides, forming a rectangle

Heat oven to 350 (degrees).  Slice 3/16 inch thick and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.   Bake 12-15 minutes (till edges of are golden brown.)  Cool for 5 minutes, remove from cookie sheet and finish cooling on racks."

This made about three dozen cookies.  And they should improve with some age since they are spice.

So this was all done at 7am and the outdoor temperature was 85 degrees.  Oven off, lights out, minimal heat generation.   Which leads to the subject of this entry - the summer kitchen.

Before the second world war it was not unusual for homes in warmer climate areas to have a second kitchen removed from the main body of the house.  Our great-grandmother had her basement equipped with stove, sink and refrigerator for cooking and preserving in the heat of the summer.  We do not have a basement, nor do we have the land for an outbuilding but we do have the screened in back porch and crockpots.

Yesterday we made pinto beans with ham in one crockpot and green tomato chow-chow in a second.  The smell was divine and carried over to all the neighbors.  Today I have a small crock filled with those adorable ball zuchinni stuffed with ground beef, cheese and onion in a marinara sauce.  And because I still had meat and sauce left, as well as more zuchinni, a second pot is layered with sauce, squash, meat and more sauce and will get a topping of mozzarella.  The bowl is today's tiny garden harvest.
Harvest!  First cucumber, second tomato, Okra, squash,
a couple strawberries
and some jalapenos

Summer Kitchen
Stuffed squash cooking away!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Kitchen

We are in for a long spell of heat.  So I have broken out the crock pots for porch cooking.  There is a tradition in the south of a "summer kitchen".   And with the help of the crock pots that is what I am going to do with my back porch.

Today I made 2 lbs of pinto beans in one crock pot, and green tomato chow-chow in a smaller one.  I will admit that the chow-chow was an experiment because I still had some green tomatoes in the freezer from last year.  And you know how I hate to waste anything.

I did cook the cornbread in the oven but it was only on for 30 minutes.

                             Tomato Chow Chow - I halved this recipe and it still seemed a little runny.

  2               cups  apple cider vinegar
  1                cup  sugar
  1         tablespoon  dry mustard
  1         tablespoon  turmeric
  1         tablespoon  mustard seeds
  1         tablespoon  celery seed
  1           teaspoon  cayenne pepper
  1              piece  ginger -- (1-inch) peeled, grated or chopped
  2             pounds  firm green heirloom tomatoes -- cut into quarters
  2             medium  onions -- diced

Combine everything in the crock pot and simmer for 3-4 hours on high. Allow to cool to room temperature. Place in a serving bowl and serve.
                           Beans and Cornbread

                        Bean Ingredients:
  4               cups  Pinto Beans ( one 2-lb bag of dried beans)
  1           Ham Hock
  1           teaspoon  Salt
  2          teaspoons  Ground Black Pepper
 1           jalapeno pepper, scored
4            Tablespoons  minced onion

 Cornbread Ingredients:
     1/4          cups  Shortening
  1                cup  Yellow Corn Meal
     1/2          cups  All-purpose Flour
  1           teaspoon  Salt
2            Tablespoons  sugar
  1                cup  Buttermilk or soured milk
     1/2          cups  Milk
  1              whole  Egg
  1         Tablespoon  Baking Powder
     1/2      teaspoon  Baking Soda

BEANS: wash beans and place in the crock pot with the ham hock, salt, pepper, jalapeno and minced onion.  Cover with water to 1" above the beans.  Turn to low and set to cook.  After 4 hours check the water level and add more if needed.  When the beans are tender, remove the ham hock and pick the meat off the bones and fat.  Return the meat to the pot.

CORNBREAD: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat shortening in an iron skillet.  Combine dry ingredients, whisking to combine.  Combine wet ingredients.  Pour wet into dry and mix.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes.   Pour into hot pan, smoothing surface with spatula. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

We ate the beans on top of the cornbread, garnished with the chow-chow and some diced vidalia onion.  It was very, very good.  And the house stayed cool.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One Jalapeno

Dinner tonight had only one jalapeno from the garden.  But this is a recipe you have to try.


              Pan Seared Salmon with Chipotle Bourbon Glaze

Serving Size  : 4    
                        salt and pepper
  4                     salmon fillet
  3        tablespoons  butter
     1/2           cup  honey
     1/3           cup  bourbon
     1/2      teaspoon  chipotle powder
  1           teaspoon  lime juice
salt and pepper the salmon

melt butter in a skillet
Place the salmon in the skillet and sear 2 minutes, skin side up.  Remove

Add the honey, bourbon, chili powder and lime juice to the skillet and reduce. 
Return salmon to the skillet and heat 3-5 minutes, until salmon reaches desired doneness.

I used white pepper on the fish.  I used fish without skin.  The glaze smelled like everything Kentucky - ham, tobacco, hot peppers.  I served this over rice that I had cooked with one chopped jalapeno, adding broccoli and vermont cheese powder at the end.

Make this for yourself and see.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes!!

the heat and humidity has made me sluggish.  i can't even bother to capitalize.  dinner is a salad made with imitation crab (it's indiana and fresh crab is a pipe dream) and a baguette.  but the tomatoes are loaded - i counted 67 tomatoes on 8 plants - and i have the cornmeal. so two are being sacrificed as fried green tomatoes.

first - i don't slice my tomatoes, i wedge them.  this makes it easier to handle them, gets more in the pan and each piece gives more flavor of tomato and less of fry stuff.  i flour then buttermilk then cornmeal the wedges, each step being seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, onion and cayenne.  and i use corn oil.  corn oil is, in my opinion, the best for southern fried foods.  unless you are using peanut oil.  which is also good.

the imitation crab salad is made with a lot of celery, vidalia onion, the fish, a little mayo, lemon juice  and old bay.  maybe a little extra cayenne because i like it.  i am swimming in citrus because we just made a pitcher of sangria, which will be ready tomorrow.  come on over.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Harvesting and Salvaging

We are picking green beans every other day, cooking them the third day.  All from the 2/3 of our 4 x 4 plot.  The beans have been marvelous; tender and bursting with green beaniness.  Several of the onions have been sacrificed to the alter of the beans and all to the good.

But the onion flowers have been an amazing surprise in the garden this year.  Perfect, round and white.  With the most incredibly fleshy stem rising up to support them.  Combined with the trellis we added for the cucumber it has made a  very picturesque scene.

My current obsession is the tomatoes.  Green tomatoes.  Fried green tomatoes.  I bought a bag of Hodgson Mill organic Cornmeal just for these tomatoes.  And it makes really good corn tortillas.  And Cornbread.  And Johnnycakes.  It does not make the best polenta because it is so finely ground.  But it's not bad with enough Parmesan and butter.  Wow - I am thinking johnnycakes with maple syrup for breakfast tomorrow!

Big Flashing Red Alert!!  My raspberries are disappearing!!  I had three (3) ripe raspberries this morning and tonight there are none!!!  I think it is the birds......thinking about a cat.

This recipe came from Yankee Cooking and is my favorite.

Serving Size  : 8  

1 cup  Stone ground whole grain cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1  teaspoon  sugar
boiling water

Combine first three ingredients. Pour boiling water over mixture very slowly, adding just enough to swell the meal. Let it sit several minutes, then add enough milk so mixture will drop from a spoon. Heat greased pancake griddle or iron skillet and spoon batter onto hot surface. Turn to brown other side. Serve with maple syrup and butter.

NOTES : Some New England cooks make johnnycakes from white or yellow cornmeal, but many prefer a special johnnycake meal that is milled in Rhode Island. In 1906 Charles Kenyon purchased a mill built in 1886 and expanded what had been a local miller's trade into a commercial business. Today the mill still supplies many New England kitchens with johnnycake meal, plus an assortment of other stone-ground flours.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blueberry, Raspberry, Strawberry or Blackberry

Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast should never be Fiber One.  One day of the weekend should have a proper indulgence and I think I found it.

I found a recipe similar to this in a blog on my Kindle last night.  When I copied it out ( you cannot clip in the blogs) I discovered some areas that could be improved.  I acted on it this morning and this is the improved version. 

The sweet, buttery aroma blended with the freshly ground coffee brewing created one of those moments of comfort that a cold bowl of cereal can't touch.

The wonderful thing about this is that it is all assembled in the food processor.  The only other utensils are the baking pan, a measuring cup, a measuring spoon and a knife.  The buttery sweet dough flavor is optional - there is, after all, 1 1/2 sticks of butter in the cake.  And if your butter is salted then I'd omit the salt.

                           Blueberry Crumb Cake

  2 1/4           cups  flour
  1 1/4           cups  sugar
     3/4           cup  butter -- 1 1/2 sticks
     1/2      teaspoon  salt
  1                cup  sour cream -- or yogurt (I had about 1/4 c of sour cream and filled in the rest with whole milk yogurt)
  1           teaspoon  baking soda
  2                     eggs
  1           teaspoon  baking powder
     1/2      teaspoon  buttery sweet dough flavoring --( King Arthur catalogue, which I love)
  1 1/2           cups  blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 and spray a 9" square pan with cooking spray - flouring lightly.

Process the flour, sugar, butter and salt for 8-12 pulses to create crumbs.  Remove 1 cup of the crumbs and set aside.

Stir the baking soda into the sour cream or yogurt.

Add the eggs, baking powder, buttery flavoring and sour cream or yogurt (with the baking soda) to the processor.  Process 6-8 seconds. No More!

Carefully fold in the berries - there is a blade still in there.  Then turn out into the prepared pan.
Sprinkle the reserved crumbs evenly over the top.

Bake 45-50 minutes - a knife inserted in the center should come out dry.
  "this cake is assembled in the food processor in a matter of minutes"
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NOTES : Intensely buttery coffeecake with a lovely crumb topping.  This would adapt well to various berries.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Meat and Three Veg

First a plug for Farmers' Markets.

We have a very small farmers' market in the church parking lot at the corner of Oaklandon Road and Fox Road.  It opens early in the spring with bedding plants, meat, cheese and honey.  The people are lovely and their offerings are even more-so.

So a special thanks to:
Brendle Honey
Engleking's Country Beef Shop (and eggs) (and the fabulous bacon pork burgers)
Blue River Natural Foods for cheeses, organic cheeses and eggs
Tuttle Orchard for fruit, vegetables and flowers
Millers Produce for plants, herbs and vegetables

Now back to our regularly scheduled entertainment.

We harvested our first green beans last night.  About 30 pods, each perfection in their beanness.  I would have taken a picture but we ate them.  (With a side of grilled pork chop and butterbeans cooked with bacon and a freshly harvested onion.)

By tomorrow we will have quite a few more but the first ones are always the rarest treat.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Easy Easy Easy fruit jam

I am so late to this game.  Everyone but me knew about this.  For years I struggled to boil, toil and trouble my jam into existence.

Now I know about "Freezer Jam"!!

With my food processor, some sweetening agent, a bottle of easy lemon, fruit of choice and the Miracle of Pectin I have fresh tasting fruit purees thick enough to stay on my english muffin.

It started with a special on a crate of peaches - After sitting on the table for two days I knew something had to be done.  They were a little to firm to eat out of hand and grilling is not a popular option here. 

I was going to make regular peach jam but came across the magic pectin while cruising the grocery on a sugar quest.
strawberry (from my garden)

both jams with the magic ingredient.  These containers
started out full.

the first few peaches I peeled.  But boiling the fruit did not make the peel any easier to remove.  So after that I dipped the fruit in hot water to scald then just chopped it up into the food processor.  This worked out well, the skins adding extra color.

For every 2 cups of fruit I added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of pectin. Stir to combine and thicken slightly - kind of like instant pudding - then into containers for the freezer. (I understand that sweetener such as Equal are also effective.)

I have plastic containers from hot and sour soup that I reused for this.  The freezer jars for jam are just too small for this stuff.  This isn't as sweet as cooked jam and retains the taste of fresh fruit.  I made some poundcake, which I covered with fruit.  Bought some plain yogurt, which got layered with fruit.  Ice cream - fruit.  Toast - fruit.  Cereal - fruit.

Sometimes I'm slow but do catch on eventually.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June garden update

Wow - the rain, the heat and the humidity have combined to make the garden grow like it was on steroids.  We have picked 4 quarts of strawberries and it looks like that we may be over the peak.  Lettuce has been plentiful, as have the snap peas.  But the peas are done now.

New to the garden this year was chinese celery (also known as chinese cabbage or chinese broccoli).  We did not like it very much.  But it did very well, grew quickly and produced. 
the center is the missing chinese celery

tomatoes grown from seed with raspberries in the background
But the taste was very bitter, and a little stringy.

The tomatoes from the farmer's market have set fruit, but the seed grown haven't.  The seed grown plants are twice as sturdy and should bear well.

the raspberries ( all 36 of them) are filling out.  I have no idea when they will ripen.

commercially grown tomatoes in the bag of compost


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The first among many - gardening in a tiny space

I garden in bags, pots and tiny four foot square raised beds.  I garden along the house.  I garden in empty salad clamshells.  For the price of the seeds, which were from on-line sources, I play in the dirt.
From the back - shallots, chard, broccolini, okra.  With an onion or two from last year.

Green beans on the left, soon to be green beans in the middle and radishes that want to become green beans later.  Also the cucumber on the trellis.
Advance guard
the rest of the family
The first.  Already claimed by a grandchild. Glowing in its red perfection.  The rest, waiting and soaking up today's sunshine and the plentiful rain

Greens - the forward quadrant is all lettuce, which grows as quickly as I can cut it
We have had four salads from this lettuce and probably 3 dozen radishes.  Considering the price of organic produce this has probably paid for itself.  Once the green beans start we will have them every other night.  And I did get carried away with zucchini, planting them in 4 places, but I like the way the plant looks with its prehistoric leaves.

The strawberry bed has been netted, I think birds can smell the ripe fruit for at least 2 miles.  Out of 6 raspberry canes planted, two survived the winter, so we may have a berry or two.

Oh, I also planted 10 tomato plants, 6 started from seed and 4 from the produce people at the farmer's market.  4 jalapeno plants and about 5 million volunteer cherry tomatoes.

Volunteers on the left, enlistees on the right.

and I almost forgot the snap peas, dill, yellow peppers and basil.

Peas, dill etc.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cooking from the pantry

The weather is cool, cloudy and drizzly and soup sounded really good.  But the heavy soups of winter weren't appealing and  I did not want to make a trip to the store for anything (since I am still in shock over the price of the new curtains to replace the small mishap from washing and drying the panels from the dining room when they said dry clean only).  I started with a corn and crab chowder from Rachael Ray then adapted it to what we had on hand.
                          Corn and Crab Chowder
Serving Size  : 4    

  1         tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil
  4             ounces  bacon -- minced (3 slices)
  2               cups  Potatoes O'Brien -- frozen
  3         small ribs  celery -- chopped (3 to 4)
  1                cup  onion -- chopped
  1         Tablespoon  garlic -- minced (2 cloves)(I used Easy Garlic already minced in oil in a jar)
  1           teaspoon  dried thyme
  1           teaspoon  Old Bay Seafood seasoning -- Generous
  2          teaspoons  chicken bouillon granules -- Tone's chicken base
  2               cups  water
  2               cups  2% milk
  3        tablespoons  butter
  1 1/2           cups  creamed corn
  3        tablespoons  flour
  6             ounces  crab meat -- 1 can undrained
     1/4      teaspoon  cayenne

Render the bacon in olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Add  the onions, celery and garlic - sweat vegetables.  Add the thyme and the Old Bay, stirring to release the flavors.  Then add the frozen potatoes, chicken base and water (or stock) and cayenne.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook 20 minutes. 
Add the milk and the crab meat with the juices.  Season with cayenne.  Cover and simmer again for 20 minutes.
Blend the butter with the flour and blend into the hot liquid.  Bring to a soft boil to complete thickening the chowder and serve.
                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 568 Calories; 29g Fat (46.3% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 90mg Cholesterol; 1261mg Sodium. 

This was delicious and rich without being heavy.  I made a loaf of pumpernickel bread to go with it.

The window panels shrunk so evenly it was undetectable until I hung them.  Then they looked like flood pants.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Meatballs, meatballs, meatballs

It's raining, again.  After a day of frenetic activity in the yard and garden we are once again trapped inside.

I thought about laundry - but it's caught up.  I thought about reading - but can't sit still.  I thought about cooking.  Yeah, let's fill the house with nice aromas and get something good for lunch as well.

I had picked up 2 pounds of ground chuck as a loss leader this week so my obvious choices were either meatloaf of meatballs.  Other things lured me as well, but meatballs have been on my mind. (and if that's Freudian I just don't want to know about it)
           Lotsa Meatballs

2 pound  lean ground beef
3 cloves  garlic
2 large  eggs
1 cup  grated Parmesan cheese (I admit, there is a green can in my fridge)
1 1/2    tablespoons  chopped fresh Italian parsley
                        Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups  Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 cups  water -- room temperature
1/2  cup  olive oil

In a large bowl, combine beef, garlic (grate into mixture, throw ends into pan with olive oil). Add eggs, cheese, and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Continue mixing with your hand until well combined. Add bread crumbs and mix well. Add water, 1 cup at a time, and continue mixing until mixture is quite moist.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour to allow everything to hydrate.

Shape mixture into 2-inch balls**. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Heat the olive oil with the garlic ends until fragrant, removing garlic before it browns. Working in batches, add meatballs to skillet. Cook until browned and cooked through, turning, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a baking tray and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

**Shape some into 1/2 inch balls for soup - about 24 balls make 1 batch of soup.  Bake these directly, without browning in oil, for 20 minutes.

Cool all the meatballs and Package according to serving desires.  Freeze or eat.  I am going to freeze these in bags of 4, which will make 1 meal for two with a meatball left over for lunch for someone.
As you can see, I ended up with 23 lovely, large, light and luscious meatballs as well as the 24 meatballs that I used for soup that day.  The impetus for the soup was half a clam shell of baby spinach that was too old for salad.  Did I ever mention that I hate to throw anything out.

Italian Wedding Soup

Serving Size  : 4    

24  small   (1/2 inch) Lotsa  Meatballs(Mine were too big because I used a 1 t. cookie scoop)
2  tablespoons  good olive oil    (EVOO)
1 cup  minced yellow onion
1/2 cup  diced carrots (1 carrots) -- cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup  diced celery (1 stalks) -- cut into 1/4 inch pieces
4 cups  chicken stock
1/2  cup  dry white wine (Chuck Shaw Sauvignon Blanc is my white cooking wine)
1/4 cup  orzo
1/4 teaspoon  dill weed -- dry or twice as much fresh
12 ounces  baby spinach -- washed and trimmed

Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.

  "Easy once you have the tiny meatballs"

NOTES :  "Baking the meatballs is optional.  They can be made small and cooked in the soup, which adds to the flavor.  But also adds to the fat."

Did I mention that the house smells scrumptious?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Meatless Monday: You are never too old to learn

Tonight's recipe comes to us courtesy of Sandra Lee.  Oh, I know, she is not held in a lot of respect but I do love her.  Semi-homemade validates a lot of people and opens up a world of cooking.  But tonight she has helped me come close to solving a problem that has plagued me for ages - why can't home made pizza be as good as take-out.

The answer is, of course, that our home ovens cannot come close to the temperatures of the commercial pizza oven.  But like computer problems, Sandra came up with a work-around:  the phased cooking method.

Bake the crust a little bit, bake the fillings until the moisture is gone, add cheese and bake again (this was my little addition).  Genius!!

                             Fresh Veggie Pizza
Servings: 4    
                        Nonstick cooking spray
1/2  pound  fresh pizza dough -- I make a dough from Mario Batalli recipe
                        All-purpose flour -- for dusting
2 tablespoons  olive oil
1/2 cup  Tomato Sauce -- Prego, Bertolli, your choice
2 cups  shredded Pizza cheese -- this is one 8 ounce bag
1/2 cup  white mushrooms -- sliced (they come this way from the grocer!)
1/2 cup  zucchini slices -- lengthwise slices with vegetable peeler
1/4 cup  green pepper -- diced or red pepper
1/4 cup  red onion -- sliced or yellow or white, what the heck, it's onion
                        Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 13 by 18-inch baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Roll out pizza dough on a floured work surface into a rectangle about the same size as the baking sheet. I kind of lift and pull the dough at this point.
Place the dough onto the baking sheet, brush with olive oil and using a fork, dot holes all over the crust. Let rest for 10 minutes then bake in oven for 8 minutes.
Remove the pizza crust from oven and top with the sauce, half the cheese and the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Bake pizza for 15 to 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and vegetables are browning along the edges.
Top with remaining cheese and bake until golden brown and bubbly - 10-15 minutes

This was awesome.  The staged cooking finally got past the soggy factor.  The two of us ate an entire pizza, and yes I know it was 4 servings.  But it was Veggie, for crying out loud.  Give me a break.