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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Honey Mustard Ginger Chicken With Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half, lengthwise
3 scallions, chopped (including the dark green stock)
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thin
1 knob ( about 2 inches) of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Ginger powder
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp honey Dijon mustard
1 cup water or chicken stock

2 small sweet potatoes washed and cubed

Instructions:

Season both sides of chicken with salt pepper garlic powder and ginger powder.

Cover iron skillet or Dutch oven with 2 tablespoons of olive oil get pan nice and hot.

Pan sear chicken for about 3 minutes on both sides. In the last-minute add your garlic and ginger slices. Remove the chicken pieces and set aside.

Mix honey, mustard, two tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 – 1 cup of hot water deglaze your pan with the mixture add chicken and sweet potatoes bring to a simmer and then place in the oven for 40 minutes covered.

Serve chicken with sweet potatoes on the side drizzle with the sauce or if you’re not doing paleo go ahead and serve it over a nice dish of white rice.

Turkey Chili Layered with Smokey Rich Flavors

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Did everyone try the South Beach Diet ten years ago? My close friends and I surely did. I couldn’t imagine starving myself and depriving myself of much of the food they said we couldn’t eat in those first weeks. So, naturally I modified and scoured the internet for food they considered acceptable; turkey chili was top of the list. Soon all my guy friends were ordering batches of it from me on a weekly basis. I don’t think I ever lost weight from the diet, probably didn’t need to at the time, but these guys sure did and they loved the chili.

So here’s my recipe but first, full disclosure: this recipe is kicked up a bit by roasting, sautéing and grilling my veggies before they go in with the turkey just to give them an extra layer of smokey rich flavors. I never did this for the boys back in the day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion chopped
  • 1 cup celery stalk finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic oven roasted and chopped
  • 2 pounds ground turkey 70% lean
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes chopped with seeds kept in
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh or dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of hot Hungarian paprika
  • 2 to 4 small sweet red peppers or 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (optional)
  • dash or two of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup of bone broth
  • 1 32oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 to 2 15 oz. cans of beans depending on your preference (kidney, black or pinto)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large heavy pot or dutch oven heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and celery. Fire roast the peppers or grill on pan while oven roasting the garlic. I oven roast the garlic by wrapping it in aluminum foil with a little olive oil and place in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or so. Once those two are done, add your garlic and peppers to the onions and celery. (You may want to do this ahead of time). Add your spices and herbs and sauté for another 5 minutes until mixed well. Add the ground turkey and cook until lightly brown breaking down the meat with a wooden spoon.

Add the tomatoes, broth and tomato sauce, bringing to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the beans (do not strain) and salt and pepper to taste. Stirring, cook for another 10 minutes. Serve in bowls with grated cheddar, fresh oregano and green onions – or any combination you prefer. I sometimes top mine with homemade tortilla chips and a slice of avocado, lime and cilantro.

I should note that I also like to make my bone broths ahead of time (following Thanksgiving and Christmas I had a lot to work with) and freeze them in ice trays, ziplock bags and repurposed quart containers. I also slow-cooked this for another 4 hours in the oven on low (about 275 degrees Fahrenheit) just to be sure all of those flavors get married, make love and have babies! If you do this too you may want to add another cup of broth, it’s up to you!

I hope you and your friends enjoy this recipe as much as we will tomorrow in the snow!

Happy eating and stay warm!

I still get orders for this dish and when I do, I usually get about 4 quarts out of the recipe. I will add more broth as needed if I’m slow cooking it in the oven as liquid tends to evaporate. This batch is filled to the rim and topped with chopped green onions and flat leaf on parsley!!

Post-Holiday Cooking: Here’s a Quick & Easy Sausage & Egg Pie Recipe

wp-1484173950945.jpgFrom stuffing, basting, patting, pricking, roasting and toasting, most of us foodies who refer to the holiday season as the “Olympics of Family Cooking,” have taken a deep sigh of gratitude for the love and joy that was shared amongst our family and friends.

All the gifts have been opened, clothes tried on (and modeled on the living room runway) and Google Home was streaming music at our demand when I noticed that I was starving! But, I was also tired and didn’t have the energy to create breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  But clearly, we all needed to eat.

So, here is a quick go-to recipe I like to use that comes loaded with the right amount of nutrition, salty savoriness, and warmth.  This pie oozes with comfort and cozy post-holiday sit-around-the-house goodness.  I like to think of it as alinner (lunch and dinner) dish or a classic brunch dish too.

– Don’t worry, you’re not required to make your own pie crust, I promise.

Ingredients:

1 Pie Crust (for the inquiring minds, yes, I used the type you buy and roll out).
1 tablespoon of butter
1 good-sized shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
4-6 sun-dried tomatoes loosely chopped
8 ounces of Italian sausage or chicken sausage (remove the outer skin and crumble)
1 three-finger pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of oregano or thyme (or both)
3 – 4 handfuls of fresh spinach or kale
2 cups of freshly grated California cheddar cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup of heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat and saute shallots and garlic until translucent. Add salt, oregano and thyme. Add the crumbled sausage, sundried tomatoes, and cook until browned. Add the spinach or kale and cook until the greens wilt and set aside.

In a pie dish roll out the pie crust and pinch the edges.   Add 1 cup of cheese on the bottom and then add the sausage mixture on top of that.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs and heavy cream and 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese (you can also use almond milk or any other milk/cream variation).  Season with a pinch of sea salt and mix well.  Pour the egg mixture over the sausage mixture.  Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.  I also added a little extra romano in this pie – I mean, can you blame me?  Take a brush and lightly coat the edge of the pie crust with some of your egg mixture for a crispy finish.  (not too much).

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Place your pie on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

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Special thanks to Mele Cotte for the inspiration of this recipe.  I use it in many reincarnations.

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Here is one I made with Kale

More Soup Please!

White Bean Soup with Kale and Italian Sausage

White Bean Soup with Kale and Italian Sausage

What happened to our early summer weather? Just when we New Yorkers were starting to forget about the coldest winter in recent years and beginning to complain about the humidity and heat in crowded elevators, temperatures suddenly drop?  And now we’re pulling out our sweaters again and craving hot bowls of soup?

Okay, fine.  So with my bones a little cold and wishing I’d not worn the linen skirt, I turned for comfort in my kitchen.

In my fridge I grabbed some summer greens, carrots and celery, four or five hot and sweet Italian sausages. Staring into the pantry I grab a can of organic cannelinni beans and a box of organic chicken stock.

Here’s what I came up with.

Ingredients:

1 pound kale, stems (and veins, if desired) removed and leaves washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 scallion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large cellery stalk, chopped
1 cans cannellini beans, (29 ounce), drained and rinsed
4-5 Italian sausage (I used two sweet and three spicy) removed from casing
4 cups water
2 cups chicken stock, or reduced-sodium canned broth
Sea aalt and black pepper
4 thick slices country bread
Grated Parmesan cheese, (optional)

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, scallion, carrot and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add sausage and cook until brown. Break up into smaller bits with a fork.

Add about half of the beans, and lightly mash with a fork. Add water and stock, and bring to a boil. Stir in kale, remaining beans, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer until kale is tender, about 20 minutes.

Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Grate fresh Parmesan and enjoy.

Baked Ziti a la Comfort Food

Baked Ziti

Ingredients
1 pound dried ziti pasta
Sea salt
3 1/2 cups Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
1 pound fresh mozzarella, half cut into 1/2-inch cubes and half thinly sliced
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and boil the pasta until al dente, tender but still slightly firm. Drain.

Baked Ziti

Toss the cooked pasta with the marinara sauce, cubed mozzarella, half the Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and pepper flakes. Transfer the pasta to an oiled baking dish – again, I used my Le Creuset. Cover the top of the pasta with the sliced mozzarella, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake until lightly browned and hot, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausages, casing removed and crumbled
1/2 pound spicy Italian sausages, casing removed and crumbled
1/4 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
3 1/2 cups whole, peeled, canned tomatoes in puree, (one 28-ounce can), roughly chopped
Sprig fresh thyme
Sprig fresh basil
2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add anchovy paste and dissolve. Add the sausage and cook until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and mix well.  Add the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and the herb sprigs and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Baked Ziti

What Do You Get When You Cook With a Portuguese Girl Who Loves Italian Food? Chicken Cacciatore with Sweet White Yams!

chicken cacciatore

While Jason and a friend watched movies on Netflix and my sixteen-year-old busied herself in her usual way, texting and taking photos, I sought my own solitude by cooking Chicken Cacciatore in the kitchen.

This dish was absolutely one of our favorites in 2014.  My only regret is that I didn’t make it more.  But hey, better late than never.  I love the colors of fresh green herbs and red bell pepper glistening in the Greek extra virgin olive oil, and their aroma, along with the garlic and Greek Oregano filled the air.  (Jason’s brother-in-law from Greece brought us the oregano and oil.  It is to die for)!

I prepared the Cacciatore in my Le Creuset French Oven – slow cooking it of course; set it on top of the stove and when it was done, family and friends were invited to serve themselves. The chicken was so tender and juicy; no knife was needed.

Ingredients:

6 boneless chicken  breasts, halved crosswise
2 large white yams, halved crosswise then quartered
2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 celary stock (optional)
8 baby carrots, halved (optional)
3/4 cup dry white wine (or 50/50 water to apple cider vinegar)
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves (I had to substitue flat-leaf parsley this time)
1 sprig of thyme

Directions:

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly. I do this by using a large vegatable plastic bag from the grocery store. Just add the chicken, salt, pepper and flour and shake!

In a large heavy sauté pan, (again I used the 9 1/2 Ct Le Creuset Oval French Oven) heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and sauté just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, sauté it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the bell pepper, onion, garlic and white yams to the same pan and sauté over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, include any juice resting in the plate, and turn them to coat in the sauce. Add the sprig of thyme.  Bring the sauce to a simmer.

Stop.   Wait!  Here is where I change it up.  Because I started cooking in the morning, rather than simmer for 30 minutes as the directions say to do, I turned the oven to 250 degrees and let the stew cook for approximately two hours.

Now, if you need this dish to be ready in 30-40 minutes, just pretend I didn’t say the above and follow accordingly:

Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.