fettuccine ai funghi

November 4, 2013 § 56 Comments

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The sauce for this recipe is silky smooth and deliciously creamy.   It is surprisingly light because only 1/2 cup of half & half is used. This is when using the stock from the pasta plays a huge role in keeping your pasta moist.  Along with a little butter and grana padano cheese (or Parmesan) the stock helps to create a creaminess without using too much cream (or in this recipe, half & half).  Keeping it light…

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Simple cooking, minimal ingredients and vibrant flavor.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 12 ounces good quality fettuccine (not quite a pound)
  • large pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, any color, chopped
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup Grana Padano cheese, grated (or Parmesan)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to desired taste

M e t h o d

Fill a large pot with cold water and bring to a roaring boil over high heat, toss in a large pinch of coarse salt and add the spaghetti.  Cook for 9 minutes stirring occasionally until al dente.  Prior to draining pasta reserve at least two cups of the cooking liquid and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add oil and butter, swirl to coat the skillet.  Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper;  sauté 20 minutes until mushrooms are browned and have released their liquid.  Add wine and thyme and cook for a few minutes until liquid has evaporated.  Remove pan from heat.  Add hot cooked pasta another sprinkling of salt, half & half and Grana Padano to the skillet, tossing to combine.  Add cooking pasta cooking liquid until desired moistness and continue to toss.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve right away.

Serves 4, generously…

sweet and sour red cabbage

October 28, 2013 § 46 Comments

I have been preparing this German-style cabbage recipe for years.  The combination of vinegars helps the cabbage keep its bright color.  Baking melds the flavors of the cabbage, onions and apples.   Wonderful served with small crispy roasted potatoes.

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Red cabbage, yellow sweet onion, two sweet apples and a splash or two of vinegar…exquisite combination.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head red cabbage (6 cups finely shredded)
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 sweet apples, peeled, cored and slivered
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • parsley, chopped, for garnish

M e t h o d

Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a large ovenproof skillet over medium high,  heat the olive oil and sauté the cabbage and onion until cabbage has wilted and onions are soft, 15-20 minutes.  Add the apples and sauté 5 minutes, add the vinegars and allow to evaporate.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes stirring occasionally.  Garnish with parsley and serve.

risotto with butternut squash and basil

October 21, 2013 § 52 Comments

Autumn is here and what a perfect evening for a steamy bowl of butternut squash risotto and a glass (or two) of Sauvignon Blanc.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 medium large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 large purple onion
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 quarts of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 3/4 cup of Grana Padano cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup of fresh basil, chopped

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M e t h o d

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat.  Add squash and sauté until beginning to soften and brown around edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer squash to medium bowl and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium and add remaining tablespoon of oil, purple onion and thyme.  Stir until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes.   Add risotto and stir to coat for one minute.   Add 1 large ladle of  broth and simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes.  Continue adding remaining broth by ladle, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next, stirring often, about 15 minutes.  Return butternut squash to the pot.  Continue to cook until rice is just tender but still very creamy, stirring gently and often, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in basil and 3/4 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to large bowl and serve with additional Grana Padano cheese.

Serves 4.

homemade tomato soup

October 14, 2013 § 53 Comments

For this particular recipe a medley of tomatoes straight from the vine went into this garden tomato soup.  A very sweet and firm fleshed tomato called “Plum Lemon”, which is a russian yellow tomato that looks like a lemon!  An heirloom striped tomato which looks like a bell pepper and also harvested were several plum tomatoes to add to the mix.  Straight from the vine and into the soup pot.

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The yellow ones are not lemons…they are yellow plum tomatoes!

This soup had a slight tanginess to it as well as an herbal infused flavor which came from sprigs of fresh cut greek basil and thyme.  I chose to keep the sprigs whole and remove at the end in order to keep the soup texture silky smooth.   Both the thyme and greek basil seem to have a toughness about the leaves and I was looking for a nice smooth finish.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • a few fresh thyme sprigs
  • a few basil sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • sprinkling of pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • a pinch of sugar (optional)

M e t h o d

Place the oil and butter in a large heavy bottomed pot and heat until butter melts.  Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until soft, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, thyme, basil, salt and pepper and stir to mix.  Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes have collapsed, 6 – 8 minutes.

While the tomatoes cook, heat the stock until beginning to boil.  Using 1/2 cup stock in a cup, whisk the flour to make a smooth paste.  Add the flour paste and the remaining broth to the pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for several minutes on very low heat, stirring frequently.  Turn off heat and cool enough to handle.

Using a hand blender (or blender) purée the soup until well mixed.   On several occasions I have read by adding a pinch of sugar to tomatoes rather it be a sauce or soup, helps to soften the acidity of the fruit and boost the tomato flavor.  I did add a pinch of sugar and I can not say if this had an effect on the soup or not.  It was so delicious and it seems using fresh tomatoes right off the vine you can not go wrong.

At this point I passed the soup through a sieve to catch the skins and bits to achieve a silky smooth texture.  I think this step is optional, it was wonderful even left a bit rustic and chunky.

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Topped with oven toasted croutons, fresh grated pecorino cheese and a few greek basil leaves.

Serves 4.

roasted tomatoes and herbs

October 2, 2013 § 54 Comments

We are finally enjoying red, ripe and juicy roma tomatoes from the garden.  I am still so puzzled as to why my tomatoes have taken so long when friends of mine living in the same city are at least 30 days on the other side of their harvest.  All I can say is I am happy to have them!

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And still more to come!

I have been wanting to slow roast tomatoes for weeks and after bringing in a dozen or so roma’s I knew exactly what I was going to do.  No doubt these were going to be good, however, after the first bite I was completely smitten.  I had to stop myself because I was going to finish off the whole lot and never mention a word to my family I had roasted them.  The aroma in the house was a dead give away and coming to my senses I knew I had to share.

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Crispy sage is such a lovely delicacy.  I added several large sage leaves to the roasting pan, along with thyme, greek basil and thinly sliced garlic.  We enjoyed the tomatoes alone as a side, however,  I can imagine how perfect they would be tossed in spaghetti.  Of course I thought that, how many pasta recipes can one blog have?  I’m up to 18 and I have only had this blog for 7 months!

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 6 or 7 tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • several whole sage leaves
  • 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • large sprig of basil, chopped
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • sea salt

M e t h o d

Preheat oven 325°F.  Drizzle olive oil onto parchment lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle the herbs about and toss around with a spatula.  Add the sliced tomatoes and garlic and continue to toss around until well coated.  Evenly space the tomatoes about the pan, cut side down, sprinkle with salt and roast for one hour.

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strozzapreti carbonara with charred brussels sprouts

September 23, 2013 § 54 Comments

Spaghetti carbonara is one of my favorite pasta dishes.  I love the flavors of bacon, egg and grana padano cheese combined with a good quality spaghetti.  Also, having “breakfast for dinner” in spaghetti form is always a pleasure.  This is a nice spin on the basic carbonara.  The brussels sprout leaves are cooked until crispy and charred before tossing in the pasta.

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This recipe was featured in the latest issue of Bon Appétit.  It was stated “the key to this dish is getting a good char on the brussels sprouts, which helps balance the richness of the porky, eggy sauce.  Salt draws moisture out of the leaves, which might make them soggy, so do not season them” (while charring in the skillet).

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I found by removing the outer leaves first then carving out the core a little I was able to easily separate most of the leaves from each sprout.

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Using a good quality pasta will made a difference in the outcome of your recipe.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed, leaves separated
  • 12 ounces good quality strozzapreti or small pasta
  • 2 ounces of guanicale (salt-cured pork jowl) or pancetta, finely chopped
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup Pecorino, plus more for serving
  • 2 large egg yolks, beaten to blend

M e t h o d

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Working in batches , add brussels sprout leaves and cook, tossing occasionally, until charred in spots and crisp tender, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Cook pasta in a large pot until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat.  Add guanciale or pancetta and cook, stirring often, until slightly crisp, about 4 minutes.  Add pepper and cook, stirring until fragrant.  Immediately add 1/2 cup pasta water, reduce heat to low and gradually add butter, swirling skillet and adding more pasta water as needed, until a tick glossy sauce forms.

Add pasta to skillet and toss to coat.  Add Pecorino, toss to combine.  Remove from heat, mix in egg yolks.  Add brussels sprouts leaves and toss.  You may need to add a little more pasta water to thin sauce.  Serve pasta with more Pecorino.

Serves 4.

spicy sausage, yam and spinach soup

September 16, 2013 § 62 Comments

This is a recipe I haven’t prepared for over 10 years.  I came across this long lost recipe tucked away inside a cookbook I have not lifted off the shelf for ages.  Right away I added the ingredients to my next shopping list.

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I can not even remember where the recipe came from, but, it is hand written by me in a very short, almost undecipherable manner.  I set out to make sense out of it and it all started coming back to me as I was cooking and it took me back 10 or 12 years.   The smell, the taste, the preparation all represents a time when my son was a toddler and life seemed so simple.  I revisited this soup over and over back then, and I can not imagine how I lost track of it for all these years.

I used a very spicy sausage this time and it was delicious.  You may tone it down a bit if your palate doesn’t handle spicy too well.   I couldn’t remember if I made it with sweet potatoes or yams, so I chose the latter, however, I think sweet potatoes would be a nice offset to the spicy sausage.   Knowing a roux is always made with butter, I decided to try to achieve the same results using olive oil, and it worked!    If you would like to use butter instead of olive oil, omit the olive oil and use a 1/2 cup (full stick) of butter.  Final note,  the  recipe calls for cream and  I substituted whole milk and it was perfect.  This is a one pot dinner.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 4 smoked sausages, I used chicken – julienned
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup celery, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 quarts stock
  • 2 yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup of milk
  • handful of chives, sliced
  • handful of parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

M e t h o d

Heat olive oil over medium high heat and add sausage, onions, celery and garlic.  Sauté for 5 minutes until well combined.  Sprinkle in the flour, a little at a time stirring constantly until a blonde roux forms.  Add stock one large ladle at a time while stirring until soup consistency is achieved.  Add sweet potatoes or yams.   Bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Additional stock may be added to retain proper consistency.   Add milk, chives and parsley.  Season to taste using salt and pepper.  Once potatoes are tender, serve in individual bowls.  Put a handful of spinach in the bowl, then ladle the soup on top, garnish with additional chives and parsley.

risotto with sun gold tomato sauce

September 11, 2013 § 65 Comments

We are experiencing an interesting tomato season here in Seattle.  I planted five varietals late June (once our temperatures stayed above 50°F overnight) and we are just now reaping the rewards of our harvest.  Four months!  Is that normal?  All the saplings I put into the ground were approximately 12″ in height.  The Sun Gold continued to grow until it reached at least 8 feet tall!  I was staking, tying and propping every other day.  The Sweet 100’s did not get quite as tall, however it’s circumference is at least 4 feet.    I also planted 3 heirloom varietals and they seem to be a bit more “normal” and are presently crowded with green tomatoes (and they are not a green varietal).  We are suppose to have temperatures in the low 90’s this week so hopefully we’ll get some color tomatoes.

I brought in a fair amount of Sun Gold’s and a few Sweet 100’s today and decided to make a risotto for dinner.  This was sensational.  The tomatoes along with the red wine vinegar gave the dish a subtle tang and the Grana Padano cheese was a perfect match for bringing out the flavor and adding a bit of creaminess to it’s texture.  A very lovely Tuesday night dinner.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 6 cups Sun Gold or Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 basil sprigs (I used Greek basil) + a little extra for garnish
  • 1 thyme sprigs
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

For the risotto:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups risotto
  • 6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, on a steady simmer
  • 1/4 cup Grana Padano cheese or Parmesan,  freshly grated

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M e t h o d

The sauce.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, stirring often, until soft and translucent, 6-8 minutes.  Add garlic, basil and thyme sprigs and cook stirring often, until fragrant.  Add tomatoes and vinegar.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes release their juices and a sauce forms, approximately 15 minutes.  Discard the basil and thyme sprigs.  Add a sprinkling of salt to taste (and do taste it) set aside.

The risotto.  Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for two minutes until soft.  Add the risotto and stir for one minute making sure all of the grains are well coated.  Begin to add the hot stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently.  Wait until each addition of stock is almost absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.  Reserve 1/4 cup of stock to add at the end.  After approximately 25-30 minutes, when the risotto is tender but not soft, add the reserved stock, tomato sauce and Grana Padano.   Serve right away with an additional sprinkling of Grana Padano and basil.

Serves 4.

spiced chicken thighs with garlicky rice

September 9, 2013 § 57 Comments

Surprisingly, this went together not only with ease, but rather swiftly, which was especially nice after working two 12 hours days in a row!  I didn’t think I had it in me to put together a sit down dinner, however, it had been a few days since the three of us shared a meal at the table.

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Broiling chicken in the oven is a rarity for me although after preparing this I realize how suitable the broiler is for a busy day, not to mention the chicken turning out to be succulent and flavorful.  I found the recipe in a Cooking Light magazine and followed it exactly how it was written.  The garlic rice was wonderful, something we will be making often.

I n g r e d i e n t s 

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 cup basmatic rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • sprinkling black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs

M e t h o d

For the rice…melt the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Add garlic and sauté until aromatic.  Add rice coat well with garlic and oil.  Add 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 12 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Let stand for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and fluff the rice.  Stir in the parsley and black pepper.

For the chicken…Preheat broiler to high.  Combine sugar, chili powder, paprika, cumin, ground pepper and a pinch of salt.  Sprinkle half of spice mixture over chicken.  Place chicken on a parchment (or foil) lined baking sheet.  Broil 6-8 minutes.  turn chicken over and sprinkle with remaining spice mixture.  Broil another 6-8 minutes or until done.  Remove chicken and reserve the pan drippings.  Let chicken stand 5 minutes.  Spoon dripping over chicken and serve with garlicky rice.

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Serves 4.

steamed broccoli and pea soup

September 3, 2013 § 44 Comments

Broccoli (and peas for that matter) can be quite insipid as a side dish.  We do like steam broccoli as long as there is a good dipping sauce made up of yogurt and sweet chili sauce or a garlic rosemary aioli.  Every week I toss a few different green vegetables in the shopping basket and sort out the cooking later, which most likely is a steamed side.  This particular evening was perfect soup weather.  Deciding to keep it light (no cheese or cream), fresh and of course easy, I set out to make broccoli soup.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 large head of broccoli, approximately 4 cups
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
  • 3-4 cups of stock, chicken or vegetable
  • 4 slices of good quality bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1/3 cup pecans or pistachios, toasted and chopped
  • small handful of chives, finely chopped
  • a splash of cream or half and half (very optional)

Steam the broccoli and peas in a large pot until tender.  Drain and place in a blender…if you are using a hand blender return the broccoli and peas to the pot.  Puree until nicely mixed and mashed.  Meanwhile, cook bacon until crispy, then chop into little bits.  Place the nuts of choice in a non-stick skillet and toast them while occasionally giving the pan a good shake.  Once your green puree is back into the pot pour enough stock in until desired consistency.  Cook for 5 or 10 minutes.  Serve with a drizzle of cream (or not), chopped bacon, nuts and chives.
Serves 4.

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