A Simple and Savory Bolognese

img_20180213_210823-011452353602.jpegWhat can you do with all those leftover celery stocks and carrots from your winter soups?  Chop a few up and throw them in with a tomato sauce and a pound of ground beef and you’ve got a Bolognese that is simple, warm, comforting and satisfying.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion chopped
2 large celery stocks finely chopped
2 large or 4 medium carrots finely chopped
3 large cloves of roasted garlic or raw
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
1 cup bone broth or red wine (or both)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon of turmeric – (not traditionally Italian but it is my new obsession to aide with inflammation)
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 handful of chopped fresh parsley (flat or curly – I combined them in this recipe)
6 or 7 large basil leaves chopped
Grana Padana cheese grated
1 pound fresh pasta

Directions:

Heat heavy deep pan on medium, with olive oil and saute onions, celery, and carrots – add salt, pepper, red pepper, and turmeric – until soft, add garlic for another 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add tomato paste until mixed in completely. Deglaze the pan with a bit of bone broth and/or wine until evaporated. Add meat and cook through, breaking up lumps with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining broth/wine and stir for about a minute. Add the tomato sauce and bay leaf. Cook on low or in the oven at about 275 F if using a Dutch Oven for about 1 hour.

Serve over your favorite pasta and top with fresh basil, parsley, and Grana Padana cheese.

Last weekend we visited the Farmer’s Market in Cold Spring, NY and picked up a delicious spinach fettuccini from the Knoll Krest Farm, Hudson Valley Farmhouse.  Here’s a little look:  I admit it may be my new favorite pasta.  It melted in my mouth like butter!

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Basil Pesto: So Simple & Savory For Summer Dishes

Basil Pesto by Dena Ferreira, Photo by Jason Homa Photography

Basil Pesto by Dena Ferreira, Photo by Jason Homa Photography

Ingredients

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (I triple wash them first then dry)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (I often use walnuts or a combination of nuts)
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Directions

Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add a little more than 1/3 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.

Great over pasta dishes, tomatoes, fish, beef, sandwiches, salads and crostinis.

Basil Pesto Preserve by Dena Ferreira, Photo by Jason Homa Photography

Basil Pesto Preserve by Dena Ferreira, Photo by Jason Homa Photography

Beefy Nachos with Guacamole: A Satisfying and Fun Last Minute Dish

Beefy Nachos with Guacamole, Photo by Jason Homa

Beefy Nachos with Guacamole, Photo by Jason Homa

Monday nights a lot of friends go to a NYC Mexican restaurant for “Fajita Night,” but this is not the Mexican food I grew up on in California. Fajitas came later and were more common in the Texas region that was once Mexico (ode to Joaquin Murrieta Carrillo).  I was raised on handmade tortillas, (my friend Amy Sierra’s mom used to make them) with chorizo and eggs, chile relleno, refried beans, tacos, salsa picante and enchiladas.  This is what I considered “real Mexican food.”  Everyone is entitled to their taste.

One of my favorite (and real simple to make) snacks was nachos.  I thought about them last night on our way home and stopped and grabbed a couple of avocados, vine tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, lime and a variety of corn and sweet potato chips and here is what I came up with.

Again, before I let Jason go at them, he took this beautiful photograph.  It was one of our quicker shoots, since, by the time we ate, we were starving. This recipe is for my brothers, my mom and dad and all my friends in Cali!!!  Good eats, good times and good memories!

Oh, and if you’re in the Bay Area of northern California, here were some of my favorite spots:

La Pinata

Tito’s Mexican Restaurant

La Taqueria

Beefy Enchiladas with Guacamole

Preheat Oven to 325

1 Lb. Ground Beef
1 Cup Beef Broth
1 Tbsp. Flour or Cornstarch
1/2 Lb. Sharp Cheddar Grated
1/2 Lb. Monterey Jack with Peppers Grated
1 Yellow Onion Minced
3 Cloves of Garlic chopped
1/8 Tsp. Hot Hungarian Paprika
1/8 Tsp. Smoked Spanish Paprika
1/8 Tsp. Cumin
1/8 Tsp. Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1/2 Small Jalapeno or Serrano Chile (more if you like to sweat a little)
Salt & Pepper

Guacamole
1 Large Haas Avacado
1 Tsp. Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1/2 Small Jalapeno or Serrano Chile
1/2 Juice of Lime
Dash of Cumin
1/4 Yellow Onion Chopped
1 to 1 1/2 Tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Chopped and Seeded Vine Tomato
Salt & Pepper

Final Topping
1 and 1/2 Medium Vine Tomatoes Chopped
1 Tsp. Chopped Fresh Cilantro

Be creative:  Add your favorites at this point.  I have to be careful with how spicy I make it for some guests and others love it when I load on more chile peppers.

In a skillet coat bottom of pan with olive oil.  Saute onions and garlic until caramelized. Brown meat in a separate oiled skillet (I coat the meat with a tablespoon of flour or cornstarch).  Once browned, add to caramelized onion mixture and adding jalapeno, paprikas, cumin, and oregano, mixing well.  Add beef broth, while stirring, add the cilantro and bring to a boil.  Simmer on low while preparing guacamole and chips.

For the guacamole I simply cut my ingredients into quarters and throw into my food processor until the texture is to my liking.  (I prefer a slightly chunky guac).

Assemble chips of your choice in a pyrex baking pan, layer with grated cheeses, repeat and pop in oven for about 5 minutes until cheese is melted through. Using a slotted spoon, top with beef mixture and put the nachos back in the oven for another 5 or 10 minutes (watch closely).  Take out and top with guacamole and tomatoes.  Serve immediately while catching up on Game of Thrones or The Good Wife!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Portuguese Beef Stew

Image

This is the perfect dish for feeding hungry friends and family!  Whenever I make it I imagine my two brothers pushing past me to get firsts, then seconds of this stew.  My granny Mary used to make it during the colder months in California and bring it over on a Tuesday night – her day off.

Granny Mary

Hugs & Kisses wtih Granny Mary

Ingredients:

4 pounds bottom round, well-trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup olive oil (plus more if needed)
2 large onions, diced (2 cups)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup Portuguese dry red wine
1 pound potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
1/2 pound baby carrots (about 2 cups)
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon Portuguese sea salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas, thawed or 1/2 pound fresh haricot verts trimmed and halved
1 pound cooked egg noodles

Preparation:

In a large glass bowl, coat the beef in the flour. Heat a few tablespoons of the oil in a large French Oven over medium-high heat. I prefer using the Le Creuset French Oven.  Brown the meat, a few pieces at a time, adding more oil as necessary. If not using a French or Dutch Oven, transfer to a 4- 6-quart slow cooker, otherwise remove meat, set aside to add back later. Add the onions to your French Oven and cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and coat the onions; remove and set aside to be added back with the beef or transfer to slow cooker. Pour the wine into the French Oven and scrape up any browned bits; add to the cooker or leave in French Oven, adding back your beef and onions and stir in your potatoes, carrots, haricot verts broth, salt, thyme, and bay leaf. Cover and cook in the oven on 325°F for 7 hours.  If you’re using a slow cooker cook on low for 7 ½ hours or on high for 4 hours. Add the peas and heat through.

Serve over egg noodles.

Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

Prep time: 35 Minutes

Other: 7 Hours, 25 Minutes

Beef Stew

Beef Stew, Photo by Jason Homa