Recipes

Pasta with Sweet Marinara

When you’re tapped out from cooking the complicated dishes that come along with the holidays, this simple spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce does the trick. It has five ingredients, takes no time to prep, and fills your home with the savory-sweet smell of simmering tomatoes. Pair it with roasted vegetables (or, heck, microwaved peas & carrots) and you’ve got a comforting, complete meal with minimal effort. This is the only way I make red sauce. Serve with your favorite type of pasta.

Ingredients

  • 1 large can diced San Marzano tomatoes (such as Cento), or any organic brand such as Trader Joe’s
  • 1/2 stick butter, preferably unsalted & organic
  • 1 onion, sliced into large chunks (or halved)
  • 1 package (1 lb) pasta of your choice
  • vegetables for roasting or steaming to serve on the side (I like roasted carrots)

DIRECTIONS

Slice onions thickly and saute in a pot over medium-low with the butter, stirring.

Add the diced tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Cover and lower the heat; simmer on very low for at least half an hour, longer if you have the time and want the flavors to blend. This is a good dish for a Sunday when you have time to let it simmer (stirring occasionally) for an hour while it mushes up and makes your house smell amazing. By simmering this long, the onions have a chance to turn soft and sweet and that’s what really makes the sauce come together.

This recipe easily doubles for a crowd. If you’ve got four or more people to feed, use two onions, two large cans of diced tomatoes, and 1 whole stick of butter.

To roast the carrots, simply slice a few into a baking dish lined with foil, and roast in the oven at 400 for 20 minutes or until they’re browned and tender.

I like to drizzle mine with honey for the last five minutes of bake time so they get a little bit of glaze to them. Make sure you watch them so that they just caramelize but don’t burn.

Ladle the sauce on top of your preferred pasta — here I used rotini, because it holds the chunky sauce well — and serve with a side of veggies.

Delicious!

 

News

Giving thanks for food & sustainable eating

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know I did. Since I’m assuming we’re all going to be noshing on leftovers for a few days, instead of posting recipes I wanted to share Mark Bittman’s list of food-related things to be thankful for this year. As he says, we’ve come a long way in terms of getting American food back on a natural, sustainable track. And even though there is plenty of work to be done and lots to still be concerned about, what better time than this food-focused week to reflect on the strides we’ve made and on some of the simple pleasures allowed by cooking and sharing a great meal?

Courtesy: New York Times

Here’s his list, in no particular order:

  • Start — as many of those involved in the food movement did — with Marion Nestle, the nutrition and policy guru and an all-around heroine. (Her daily blog, Food Politics, is always worth a look.) Put simply: eat per Marion’s advice and you’ll be eating better. (You’ll probably live longer, too, but as Marion might say, “the studies are incomplete.”)
  • For low-income people, better eating often starts with WIC and SNAP. It’s a shame we need these food assistance programs, but it’s great that we have them, and we must fight to preserve and improve them.
  • There are more than half as many farmers’ markets as there are McDonald’s. The markets are gaining ground, and fantastic groups like Wholesome Wave are making them more affordable.
  • You gotta love food markets like Oakland’s People’s Grocery and the Park Slope Food Co-op, for their daily demonstration that corporate supermarkets aren’t the only way to shop.
  • Hooray for the Environmental Working Group, our best watchdog on misallocated subsidies, ethanol policies and a variety of conservation issues.
  • Let’s thank Europe. I agree, Europe is wholly un-American. But food-wise, we have more to learn from them than the other way around.
  • Examples of how to move forward on food policy and agriculture while clinging (if by a carrot paring) to worthwhile traditional ways abound.
  • While we’re over there, let’s thank H.R.H. Prince Charles, who’s smart and outspoken enough to make you reconsider the notion of royalty. A couple of other admirable non-Americans are the United Nations’ Olivier De Schutter, a key figure in recognizing and promoting agro-ecological agriculture, and Vandana Shiva, who fights for food as nourishment, not commodity.
Courtesy: New York Times
  • Back home: Will Allen and the Milwaukee-based Growing Power, Malik Yakini and the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, and Nevin Cohen of the Five Borough Farm are, along with the other pioneers of the urban food movement, making a difference.
  • Journalists. Especially Barry Estabrook (of the blog Politics of the Plate), Tom Philpott (Mother Jones) and Tom Laskawy (Grist), old-school guys who dig up the food stories you need to read. In her blog and her book (both called “Superbug”), Maryn McKenna routinely scares me half to death. Then there’s Raj Patel, a social justice writer who focuses on food; his “Stuffed and Starved” is a classic critique of the world food “system.” (Raj is also, by some accounts, the Messiah. But I know him and he’s not that great.)
  • Can’t mention Estabrook (or his book “Tomatoland”) without a shout out to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who showed that farmworkers could fight for and win better working conditions.
  • Speaking of fighting, Just Label It and others are involved in the much-needed struggle for better food labeling.
  • If Michael Pollan had done nothing other than say, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” we’d still owe him a great debt. But his new edition of rules (“An Eater’s Manual”) features the typically gorgeous art of the great Maira Kalman.
  • We also owe the Humane Society of the United States, Mercy for Animals and PETA (they can be extreme and, I think, even silly, but still…). All decry animal abuse on a daily basis, sometimes at physical risk to their employees. It’s tough work; it isn’t pretty; but as awareness increases so will the cry for change.
Courtesy: New York Times
  • For his long-range view and persistence, you have to love Wes Jackson, whose Land Institute is advancing perennial agriculture as an alternative to input-heavy annual monoculture.
  • Few views are as long-range as those of Wendell Berry, who’s pushing 80. The farmer, poet, novelist and essayist is a leading voice for sustainability and common sense, and perhaps the first scribe of the food movement.
  • Serious thanks to Bill McKibben, who’s trying to keep the earth in good enough shape to grow things on it, and Tim DeChristopher, who put his freedom on the line (and lost it) protesting oil and gas leases on public land.
  • And to Bill Marler, who, as the leading food safety attorney in the country, is trying to keep the things we grow from killing us. Check out Michele Simon on Marler’s Food Safety News, too.
  • The Rudd Center has spearheaded the movement for a much-needed soda tax. When that happens … well, woo-hoo: we’ll know that serious and lasting change has come.
  • For better and still improving school lunches, let’s thank Ann Cooper (the Renegade Lunch Lady), Kate Adamick, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act and (why not? it’s Thanksgiving) Michelle Obama. (At this point, a nod to the world’s most famous walking advertisement for a plant-based diet: Bill “Mr. Slim” Clinton.)
  • With Washington on the agenda, a shout out to Ezra Klein, the hardworking economics and politics writer whose daily WonkBlog is indispensable. (The food link: I met Ezra when he criticized my mah-po tofu. No one’s perfect.)
  • Four D.C. lawmakers with the guts to fight Big Ag: Senators Bernie Sanders (a national treasure), Jon Tester, an organic farmer, and Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Chellie Pingree. There are others, but not enough; next year there should be more.
  • Let’s acknowledge all real farmers, stewards of the earth, as well as those fishers and ranchers who get it: there are plenty, and their numbers are increasing.
  • Much movement in the right direction is thanks to groups like Food and Water Watch and American Farmland Trust (“No Farms, No Food”).
  • But you don’t need to be a farmer to grow food: check out Roger Doiron and his plan for “subversive plots” that will not only lead to greater individual self-sufficiency but will also point to a better way of growing and eating.
  • Finally: Thanks to anyone who’s started a small farm in the last five years, and anyone who’s supported one; anyone who cooks, and especially anyone who teaches others to cook. In these realms, let’s thank FoodCorps, SlowFood USA and Cooking Matters, all doing great work. As are millions of individuals. Bless you.

Find this entire article here. Happy Thanksgiving!

Recipes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce (with a kick)!

It’s such a weird feeling for me to not be cooking the meal this Thanksgiving, but in truth I couldn’t handle it this year. Between 10-hour workdays, a major move, a husband juggling two jobs, and the fact that my recipes and pots are NOT unpacked, I’m lucky I managed to unearth the simple ingredients and saucepan needed to make my favorite side: Cranberry Sauce with a kick!

Here is the basic recipe (inspired by one of my first copies of Rachael Ray Magazine, from about 2006). I double this so everyone has plenty to take home with their leftovers.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick (add more if you like; I do!)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp grated orange peel
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

DIRECTIONS

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar, 1 cinnamon stick, fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp ground), orange peel and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved.

Stir in the cranberries and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.


Transfer the mixture to a bowl and remove the cinnamon stick (unless, like me, you let it simmer wayyyy longer than 10 minutes so that the sauce turns gelatinous and the cinnamon sticks practically dissolve). Let cool.

Enjoy! And have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Two gnocchi recipes

It’s taking us a lot longer to get unpacked and settled into our new house than we expected, so I’m posting a collection of recipes from other bloggers I love as inspiration. Who doesn’t need to expand their recipe box anyway? Gnocchi is one of my most-loved Italian dishes (it’s pronounced NYO-kee), and these are just a few variations I’ve been dying to try. And, once I figure out which box my pots and pans are hiding in, I will!

Pan-Fried Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage

Courtesy: SteamyKitchen

This recipe, from steamy kitchen, shows that gnocchi don’t have to those be hard-as-a-rock, boring-as-heck potato dumplings you may have experienced. With a lightness in the mixing, you can avoid the kind of overworked dough that often leads to tough, chewy gnocchi.

serves 4-6

  • 1/2 cup skim milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmegiano reggiano
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (use a microplane grater) (plus extra reserved for garnishing)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, sifted plus more for dusting (see sifting tip above)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 3 sprigs fresh sage, plus more for garnish
  • shaved parmegiano reggiano for serving (use vegetable peeler)

Preheat oven to 300F

1. Combine ricotta, pumpkin parmagiano, yolk, zest and salt in large bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle half of the flour on the mixture, gently turn with spatula a few times to incorporate. Dump mixture on clean, lightly floured countertop or you can still do this in the bowl. Sprinkle remaining flour on top of the mixture. Gently knead with your fingertips, just bringing together the mixture until flour is incorporated through. This only should take a minute or two. Any longer and you will be over-kneading.

2. Dust a clean, dry surface with a generous sprinkling of flour. Divide dough into 4 parts. Take one part and roll into a long, 1″ diameter log. Cut gnocchi into 1″ pieces.

3. Heat a large frying pan or saute pan with just 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add a few gnocchi – enough to cover surface but not touch each other. Fry on medium heat for 1-2 minutes, turn and fry for another 1-2 minutes. Remove gnocchi, place on large baking sheet to put into oven to keep warm. Repeat with rest of gnocchi.

4. When all gnocchi is finished, discard butter/oil in pan and clean pan with paper towel. Heat pan on medium heat and when hot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add the fresh sage. Let the sage brown and sizzle (but not burn) for a couple of minutes until very fragrant. Remove the sage and discard if you want (or keep it in to eat — as many people in the comments below like to do!) To the pan, add the balsamic vinegar and whisk. Let simmer on low for 1 minute and pour over the gnocchi.

5. Serve with shaved parmegiano reggiano and a sage leaf for garnish.

***

Butternut Squash & Mascarpone Gnocchi

Courtesy: FoodWishes.com

This recipe comes to us from the Food Wishes blog, and features small-plate gnocchi that are designed more for appetizers or sharing. I love that concept!

Ingredients for about 12 appetizer-sized portions
  • 2 cups cooked butternut squash
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese, or cream cheese, goat cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 oz (about 1/2 cup) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (if you’re going to use fake Parmesan cheese for this, don’t even bother)
  • 1 packed cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick unsalted butter for frying, used in batches
  • cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup sliced sage leaves

This blog has great how-to video recipes. His step-by-step instructions for making the gnocchi are very easy to follow, so I’ve decided to share them by video. Gnocchi really is very simple to make, so I hope you are all inspired to take a stab at them now!

***

News

Are apps making cookbooks obsolete?

Courtesy: New York Times/nytimes.com

An interesting article in the New York Times about cookbooks vs. apps:

For many cooks, the pleasure of Thanksgiving is in the planning. In early November, the recipe folders come out, along with dreams of learning to perfect a lattice pie crust, and the cookbooks covered with splatters and sticky notes that evoke holidays past.

Fast-forward two weeks, to the sweaty hours when the sticky notes have curled up and blown away, the cookbooks are taking up all the counter space, and the illustrations for cooking a turkey in “Joy of Cooking” are revealed to be no more informative than they were in 1951.

If the people developing cooking apps for tablets have their way, that kind of scene will soon be a relic. And so will the whole notion of recipes that exist only as strings of words. Many early cooking apps were unsatisfying: slow, limited, less than intuitive and confined to tiny phone screens. Even avid cooks showed little interest in actually cooking from them.

But with the boom in tablet technology, recipes have begun to travel with their users from home to the office to the market and, most important, into the kitchen.

With features like embedded links, built-in timers, infographics and voice prompts, the richness of some new apps — like Baking With Dorie, from the baking expert Dorie Greenspan; Jamie Oliver’s 20-Minute Meals; and Professional Chef, the vast app released last month by the Culinary Institute of America — hint that books as kitchen tools are on the way out.

Read the rest of the article here.

What do you think? Are you dusting off your cookbooks less and less often in favor of firing up the Epicurious app? What are your favorite smartphone and tablet apps for cooking and recipe searches?

Uncategorized

Chocolate Avocado Muffins

This is another re-post recipe, because my husband and I are MOVING into our new house today!

Courtesy: eatmedelicous.com.

This delicious-looking recipe comes to us courtesy of eatmedelicious

Double Chocolate Avocado Muffins
Adapted from Muffin Tin Mania

Makes 12

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium-sized ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup unsweetened plain soymilk
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a food processor or high powered blender such as the Vita-mix, puree the avocado, maple syrup, soymilk, oil, and vanilla extract together until smooth. Add the avocado mixture to the dry ingredients; mix until all the flour is combined. If the mixture is too dry, stir in additional milk. Fold in chocolate chips.

Divide the batter between 12 medium-sized muffin cups, and bake for about 22 minutes, or until a tester comes out with just a few crumbs. Let cool before unmolding.

Courtesy: eatmedelicious.com.
CSA 2011 · Recipes

Brussels Sprouts Gratin & Maple-Cayenne Roasted Brussels Sprouts

OK. Not everyone likes Brussels Sprouts. I know this. But, I’m among the rare 5% of people who LOVES them … and luckily, so is my husband! Today, I’ve got two recipes for the little green guys: Maple-Cayenne Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and a rich Brussels Sprouts Gratin.

Maple-Cayenne Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup if you wish.

Trim stems and outer leaves from Brussels Sprouts (about 2 pounds). Cut in half and toss on baking sheet with at least a tablespoon of Olive Oil. Season with Kosher Salt.

In a small bowl, mix together one tablespoon of real maple syrup and a dash of cayenne pepper. (You could also use red pepper flakes if you prefer).

Roast the Brussels Sprouts in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender, stirring at least once. Drizzle with maple-cayenne mixture and roast for one more minute. Remove from oven and serve warm.

***

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

This really is quite rich. I feel compelled to warn anyone with acid reflux disease or lactose intolerance that they want to medicate accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP butter, cut into pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, outer leaves and stems removed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter a 2-quart glass baking dish. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the Brussels Sprouts and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the Brussels sprouts and coarsely chop.

Transfer to the buttered baking dish and toss with the red pepper flakes (if you are using them), and salt and pepper to taste, then spread out evenly. Pour the cream on top.

Sprinkle with the cheese and breadcrumbs and dot with the butter pieces. Bake the gratin until bubbly and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

The other night when I got home from work after 9, (lots of late nights recently), the gratin rounded out a nice dinner of leftovers that also included buttered toast and roasted potatoes.

Lazy lady dinner.

My Gratin recipe was inspired by this Food Network version.