Thursday, February 15, 2018

Pasta fagioli

I really don’t have a recipe for this, but I don’t think you really need one. The key is a delicious stock. So, here’s what I did.

For the stock

3 tbl of extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 inch slice pancetta, diced
1 onion diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 of a small cabbage, chopped roughly (optional)
2-4 cloves garlic, minced fine
Big handful of parsley
1 big carrot, cut in 2 pieces
2 pieces of the rind from the parmigiano reggiano
1 Tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried basil 
1 big bay leaf
1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes 
2 packets Goya cubitos en polvo caldo de pollo
6 cups water 

Heat the oil in a heavy dutch oven and saute the pancetta til brown. Add the red pepper flakes, onion, celery, and cabbage, and sauté til the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, parsley, marjoram, and basil, and sauté another minute or so. (You could put it in a slow cooker at this point.) Add the water, tomatoes, bay leaf, and parmigiano rinds. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer 2 hours or more. 

For the soup
1-2 carrots chopped 
2 cans canellinni beans 
1 tsp dried rosemary 
1/2 lb small pasta like ditilini or mini farfalle
1 cup grated parmigiano (don’t buy pre-grated. It has no flavor!)
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach (Optional. I just happened to have some)

Add the chopped carrots, beans with their liquid, and the rosemary. Bring up to boil, reduce heat, and simmer partially covered 20-30 minutes.  Bring back to the boil and add more water if it’s too thick.  Add the pasta and cook til almost done. Add the spinach and cook another minute. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese. Keep stirring until it’s well incorporated. You don’t want it to fall and stick to the bottom. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas open house

Last night we had a Christmas open house for some friends and neighbors. We had about 16 people, although we had invited about 10 more who were either out of town or busy. I am blessed to have good friends who pitch in. Connie brought meatballs in cream sauce and ham and cheese party rolls Kathleen brought her almond torte. Here’s the rest of the menu: Mini Tomato Pies , artichoke-asiago bites , Italian meatballs in a piquant tomato sauce , mini corn cakes with smoked salmon , homemade onion dip with chips, cream cheese with hot pepper jelly, cheese board, prosciutto and sopresotta tray. For sweets we had creme de menth brownies, pecan tassies, and an almond torte. We didn’t have many leftovers, so I think it was a success.

Italian Meatballs in Piquant Tomato Sauce

Italian Meatballs-baked

I love to do a double recipe of these meatballs. I use a 1 tbl scoop to portion them. Then I bake them on cookie sheets,lined with release aluminum foil, about 15 minutes in a 350 oven. Remove, cool and freeze in freezer bags or add to sauce. Whenever you want meatballs, just pull out a bag and throw them in the sauce. Simmer until defrosted and heated through.
Serves 4-5

1 lb ground beef
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup ground parmesean or asiago cheese
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup ham, pancetta, or prosciutto, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
milk to moisten, about 1/4-1/2 cup
grated rind of 1 lemon

I do all the chopping in the food processor: First grate the cheese, measure & add to bowl. Chop garlic cloves, put in bowl. Chop onion and add to bowl. Chop parsley & add to bowl, then pancetta. Add all remaining ingredients to bowl & mix all together. Make 1 small meat ball & cook for 30 seconds in the microwave. Taste & correct seasonings. Form into meat balls (1tbl each) & bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

Piquant Sauce
2 tbl extra virgen olive oil
1 large can tomato sauce (I like Cosco’s organic)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced fine
2 tbl brown sugar
1 tbl balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute garlic in oil and then add remaining ingredients. Let simmer to reduce til fairly thick. Add meatballs and stir to coat in sauce. Place in a chafing dish or slow cooker and serve hot.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Pecan Tassies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon butter, melted
One 3-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
Nonstick cooking spray
1 large egg
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of fine salt
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

With an electric mixer, beat the 1/2 cup butter and the cream cheese until smooth. Add the flour and beat until fully combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, egg, brown sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth. Set aside.
Shape the chilled dough into 24 balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Press each ball into a cup of the muffin pan, spreading evenly and up the sides, then spoon 1 teaspoon of the pecans into each muffin cup. Fill each cup with the egg mixture until evenly distributed, about 1 teaspoon in each. Bake until the filling is set, about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then remove from the muffin pan.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Miss Debbie’s Hot Italian Sausage Minestrone

This is the most delicious soup. My family loves it. I got the recipe from my dear friend Debbie. If you’re have fresh basil, add a it at the end with the spinach. You can use a big handful. You can also add some chopped zucchini or squash to it too. 

Serves 8-10

1 lb hot Italian sausage (removed from its casings)
1-2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 fat cloves of garlic, chopped (optional if you don’t want to use the garlic salt)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried basil 
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1-2 carrots, sliced
1-28oz can whole tomatoes 
1 can kidney beans (I prefer cannellini beans or great northern)
1 tsp garlic salt (Omit if using fresh garlic)
1/4 tsp salt (increase to 1 tsp if not using garlic salt)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tbl chopped parsley
3 cups water

1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed
6 oz small pasta, cooked

Brown the sausage; add celery and onion and saute til translucent. Season with some salt and pepper. Add the basil, oregano, and bay leaf, and cook for a minute more. Add all the remaining ingredients except the spinach and pasta. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook 45 minutes. At this point it can be frozen or refrigerated, but reheat before proceeding.  Add thawed spinach and pasta and heat 15 minutes. Serve with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Roast Turkey

I just saw this today on America’s Test Kitchen, and I think that I’ll try it for Thanksgiving.

Rub turkey under skin and inside with 4 tbl  salt and 4 tsp sugar. (4 tsp on each breast, 2 tsp on  each leg) Truss and let stand uncovered in fridge overnight. Paint turkey with a paste of 1 tsp baking powder & 1 1/2 tsp oil. Make a shield from aluminum foil for the breast. Preheat oven, pizza stone, and roasting pan without a rack at 500 for 30 minutes. Add 2 tbl of oil to pan. Add the turkey and roast at 425 for 45 minutes. Drop temp to 325 and remove shield. Roast til breast registers 165 and thighs are 175 (about 90 minutes for a 12lb turkey). Let rest 45 -60 minutes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Artichoke Asiago Squares from Anna Olson

These were pretty good, but next time I’m going to bake them in phyllo cups.

cup jarred marinated artichokes, drained
1 cup thawed and squeezed dry frozen chopped spinach
1 cup chopped green onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tsp chopped dry  oregano (optional)
4 large eggs
¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
½ lb(s) grated Asiago cheese (I think parmigiano reggiano would be much better)
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over the sides.
2. In a food processor, pulse artichokes, spinach, onion, garlic and oregano, if using, until finely chopped but not puréed. Pulse in eggs, then pulse in breadcrumbs, Asiago, cayenne, mustard, salt, and pepper. Scrape mixture into prepared pan, spread to level and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until set. Cool to room temperature before slicing into squares and store refrigerated.
3. Square can be served at room temperature or warmed in a 325 F for 10 minutes.

I cooked these in mini-cupcake tins. Much nicer presentation! Spray tins well with cooking spray and put a heaping tablespoon of the mixture in each cupcake. Press down slightly and sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs. Bake 12-14 minutes at 350. Let cool 8-10 minutes and run a sharp knife around each before unmolding. Let cool completely and refrigerate if not serving immediately.