NOTE TO READER:
I know that this collection of recipes and ideas could be organized so that you could enter a key word and search and be taken directly to the recipe you want. I do know that. But I don’t know how to set that up, yet. So, I hope you are willing to find your way. If you use the SEARCH feature, with the little magnifying glass, on the left side of the Menu Bar, it will take you to the relevant blog posts. Recipes are currently listed by the date of the blog post in which they are mentioned, which means they appear here with the newest entries at the top.
WHY COOK PASTA ‘AL DENTE’? (8/1/12)
Cooking pasta al dente is healthier, due to its lower glycemic index. By retaining its firm character, the chemical bonds between the starches in the noodles remain strong. This means that they’re better able to resist the digestive enzymes your body produces and are absorbed more slowly into your system. This helps to prevent blood sugar spikes. It also helps you to feel full for longer, with a steady supply of energy. The simple fact that it takes longer to thoroughly chew and swallow each bite allows more time for your system to realize it’s full and send the associated messages to your brain.
BOLOGNESE SAUCE (8/1/12) (Wolfgang Puck)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
Pinch chili flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup tomato juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 pound penne pasta
Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Add the olive oil and heat. When the oil is hot, add the ground meat and cook until well browned, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme, and chili flakes and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Carefully add the white wine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until the white wine is almost completely evaporated. Add the tomato sauce and juice and simmer until thick, about 20 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
LEMON & WHITE WINE SAUCE: THREE IDEAS (8/1/12)
1/4 cup butter
4 TB flour
1 cup white wine
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
3 TB Dijon mustard
Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper, to taste
thyme or dill, chopped
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute until very soft. Add the flour and reduce the heat to low. Stir until completely blended. Very gradually whisk in the white wine and broth. Bring the sauce to a boil and then let simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, mustard (plus thyme or dill) and season to taste with salt and white pepper.
2 TB butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
2 TB fresh parsley, chopped
1 TB fresh lemon juice
Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir; cook 2 minutes. Add wine, broth and garlic to pan; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and juice.
2 TB flour
1 TB butter
1 TB olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth (or water and bullion cube)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
Heat butter and oil over medium heat Add wine and boil to reduce wine by almost half (about 3 minutes). Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg and lemon juice. Stir egg/lemon mixture into simmering wine and broth, whisking constantly until sauce is smooth and a little thickened (about 2 minutes). Add chopped parsley.
Please use FRESH lemons and parsley!
PIZZA DOUGH: THREE METHODS (7/20/12)
Hand Mixed Pizza Dough (Alexandra Guarnaschelli)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling dough
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 scant tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil,
plus additional for coating the bowl/greasing the trays
In a large bowl, combine the yeast and warm water. Stir to dissolve the yeast and allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes.
Using a sifter or fine mesh strainer, “sift” about half of the flour over the yeast mixture and blend until smooth with your hands. Add the salt, pepper and honey and mix to blend. Sift in the remaining flour and mix to blend.
Lightly flour a cutting board or flat surface. Turn the pizza dough onto the floured area and knead for 3 to 5 minutes. The flour should feel smooth and the ingredients fully integrated. Place the dough inside a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place, about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in volume.
Press gently on the dough and turn it onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, rolling each quarter into a loose ball. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow the dough to rest for an additional 15 minutes. Flatten each ball, one-at-a-time, and roll into a 6-inch round. Place each round in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Food Processor Pizza Dough (Emeril Lagasse.)
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour, plus more if necessary
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, combine yeast with water, olive oil, salt and stir well to proof. After 5 minutes, transfer to the bowl of a food processor along with flour, salt, and olive oil and process until the dough forms a ball. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If it is too sticky, add a bit more flour and process for another minute.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead dough for 2 to 3 minutes, adding additional flour if necessary to form a smooth and elastic dough. Dough should not be sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled 2 or 3 quart bowl and turn to coat dough with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and if you have one, place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.
Divide dough into 2 portions (for 2 (12-inch) pizzas) and form into balls. (See note below for calzones.) Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface, shape as desired and roll out to a thickness of 1/2-inch. Transfer dough to a pizza peel and top with toppings of choice. Transfer to the preheated pizza stone and bake until crispy and golden brown, usually 12 to 18 minutes (depending on the toppings). Remove from the oven with a metal peel or spatula and serve immediately.
Note: For calzones, divide the dough into 4 equal portions and form into 4 balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out into 4 6-inch circles. Place filling of choice in the center of one side of each circle, then fold dough over filling to meet edges of filled side. Crimp edges with a fork or your fingers, then cut a small slit in the top of the calzone to allow steam to escape while cooking. Cook on a preheated pizza stone in a preheated 475 degree oven for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until well-browned. Remove from the oven with a metal peel or spatula and serve immediately.
Standing Mixer Pizza Dough (Bobby Flay)
3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour), plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon sugar
1 envelope instant dry yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups water, 110 degrees F
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons
Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and beat until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a solid ball. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.
Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, add the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm area to let it double in size, about 1 hour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cover each with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.
BASIC PIE CRUST (5/23/12)
Most people find making pie crust daunting. There are a few secrets that will change all that. First, the butter, shortening, and water must all be very cold. Second, let the dough sit in the refrigerator (bakers call it “relaxing” the dough) for 30 minutes before rolling, and finally, don’t stretch the dough when you’re placing it into the pan. Follow these tips and you’ll have delicious, flaky pie crust every time. (from Ina Garten)
12 tbsp very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 TB sugar
1/3 cup very cold solid vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tbsp ice water
1. Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse until the dough begins to form a ball. Transfer dough to a floured work surface and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a floured work surface into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn’t stick to the surface. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust. Makes two 10-inch crusts.
CHICKEN POT PIE (5/23/12)
shredded chicken (or 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts or 4 skinless boneless chicken thighs, chopped)
2 cups of poaching liquid, chicken broth or water (may use less…)
4 TB unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour (I mix unbleached white flour & whole wheat pastry flour in canister)
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 large/2 small potatoes, diced
1 cup green beans (leftover beans, chopped; or frozen) or frozen green peas
salt & pepper
2 pie crusts (If you are making pie crust from scratch, start with that step. While it rests for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, you can assemble the filling.
If you are using ‘ready made’ crusts, remove them from refrigerator as you finish the filling. They need to come to room temperature for 15 minutes before you roll them out.
- If you poached the chicken, remove from pot & set aside to cool. Save 2 cups of poaching liquid. Discard remaining liquid.
- Melt butter over medium heat, in the same pot. Saute onion, carrot and potato until tender.
- Add the flour and stir, stir, stir…to combine the flour with the butter and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add one cup of the liquid, stirring as the sauce thickens, and then add remaining liquid a little at a time, until you like the creaminess of the sauce.
- Turn off the heat, stir in the chicken and green veg. Salt & pepper to taste.
- Let it rest. Set the oven temperature to 375°
You will need to flour your work surface before rolling out your crusts, because you don’t want them to stick. Give the ready made dough a quick pass with the rolling pin, working from the center out in each direction.
Line the pan with the bottom crust, gently tucking it in to the bottom corners. Scrape or pour in (depending on how thick you made the sauce) the filling and spread it evenly. Roll the top crust, lay it on and the crimp the edges together. Do your best to really seal (by squeezing with your fingers) the upper and lower crusts, so that the filling doesn’t bubble out. But know that I’ve made some really messy CHICKEN POT PIES and they were still delicious. A sheet of foil (on a baking sheet) under your pan/pie plate is a good idea; save yourself from an unpleasant oven cleaning task.
Make a few small cuts in the top crust with a sharp knife, for steam to escape and because it looks so professional when the filling bubbles out a little. One hour in the oven, checking after 45 minutes to see if it’s browning evenly. If you can wait 10 minutes or so, after it comes out of the oven, it will serve more neatly.
COUSCOUS CURRY (5/16/12)
1 & 1/2 cups white or whole wheat couscous , NOT Israeli style
3 cups chicken broth (use poaching water, low-sodium broth or if you are making a vegetarian version, omitting chicken, use vegetable broth)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large onion
2 or 3 carrots
2 zucchini (or any green vegetable, beans, asparagus, peas…)
3 TB olive oil
1/2 cup currents (raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots…)
1 TB curry paste or powder (more or less to taste)
1 quart low-fat vanilla yogurt
Use a large, heavy pot. Enameled cast iron dutch oven is perfect.
To poach the chicken…place chicken breasts in pot and add water to cover, plus an inch.
Bring to a low boil, simmer for one minute.
Turn off burner, cover pot, set timer for 20 minutes.
Chop onion and carrots into 1-inch pieces.
Slice zucchini lengthwise, then into 1-inch half-round pieces. (set aside)
Remove chicken breasts after 20 minutes, place on plate to cool.
Reserve 3 cups of poaching liquid and pour off the excess.
Add olive oil, carrots & onions to pot over medium heat.
Saute, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Add zucchini half moons, stir and saute for 2 minutes more.
Add broth, curry paste and currents; bring to a boil.
Simmer for 3-5 minutes, while you
Shred the cooled chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Doing this with your (clean) hands is quickest, but
you can also use the two-forks-pulling-in-opposite-directions method.
If you are using frozen peas, add them now, then
Turn off the burner again, add couscous and shredded chicken to pot.
Stir and cover tightly. Let rest for 5 – 10 minutes.
Fluff with a fork.
Serve with additional curry paste for added heat and
Yogurt for cooling the mouth.
Some sliced or slivered almonds add a nice crunch.
For children, keeping the spiciness on the mild side works well.
Children (and adults) love the slightly sweet yogurt.
That’s it. Keeps warm in the pot; does not need to be served piping hot.
A friend shared this one with me years ago and I thank her every time I use it. I’ve only done chicken breasts this way, but I would think it will work with thighs as well.I’ll experiment and let you know, but my guess is that the adjustment I note below will work.
This method is for boneless, skinless thighs & breasts.
FOOLPROOF CHICKEN POACHING (5/9/12)
Place 2 chicken breasts in a deep pan/pot & add cold water to cover them, plus an inch.
Put the pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
Turn off the heat, cover tightly and set timer for 20 minutes.
Remove chicken from pan, cool and then shred.
GUATEMALAN RICE (5/9/12)
3 TB canola oil
2 cups white rice (brown rice takes longer to cook & veggies can get mushy)
½ to 1 cup each, finely chopped onion & carrot
¼ to ½ cup finely chopped red pepper (this is ‘to taste’ & I prefer less red pepper)
½ to 1 cup frozen peas
4 cups chicken broth (homemade, canned/boxed or hot water & chicken broth packets)
White pepper to taste
Chop vegetables, (heat water in kettle,) measure rice.
Heat saucepan over medium high flame, then add oil & allow oil to heat.
Add rice to pan and sauté for approx. 2 minutes, over med-high flame, stirring almost constantly.
When most of the rice becomes opaque, add the chopped veggies (not peas) and continue to sauté & stir for another 2 minutes.
Add hot broth & white pepper.
Can add the peas now too, but I prefer to add them after rice is cooked.
Will come to a boil quickly.
Reduce flame to low, cover & simmer for approx. 12 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.
Add peas, on top of rice.
Re-cover pan & let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
Stir & serve.
SOFT TACOS (5/2/12)
shredded lettuce or any greens (baby spinach or arugula…)
sliced avocado (or mash it with lemon juice for simple guacamole)
diced tomato, plain [or for Quick fresh Salsa, mix diced tomato with a bit of finely diced onion, lime juice, S&P, chopped cilantro – or if you want heat, add some diced chile peppers]
sour cream is an option
so is commercial salsa
Once you have the ingredients chopped & ready, wrap the tortillas in a clean dishtowel and microwave for about a minute. They come out soft and hot and can be filled individually, to taste.
Instead of a microwave, tortillas can be wrapped in foil and heated in a 350 oven for 10 minutes or you can heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet and heat tortillas for 10-15 seconds, one-at-a-time, stacking & wrapping them in clean dishcloth to keep warm.
GUATEMALAN BLACK BEANS (5/2/12)
(can be made with pinto beans, add chili powder to taste)
2 large cans (or 4 smaller ones) of black beans
¼ cup canola oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
4-8 cloves of garlic
(add a pinch of salt, only if beans are unsalted, which is rare)
Place beans (with liquid) in large, heavy pot/saucepan, over medium flame.
Add oil & stir. Chop onion, peel garlic and toss them in.
When beans start to boil, reduce to simmer.
Cook for a minimum of 1 hour, longer if you have the time.
Add water as needed.
The onions & garlic will eventually melt into the broth.
You have to stir occasionally, or beans will stick to the bottom of pan & eventually burn.
I’ve found that using a burner plate (see note below) helps a lot.
Can be covered & left over a low, low flame for 20 minutes between stirs.
Shorter cooking time &/or covered cooking = beans with lots of broth.
Longer cooking time &/or uncovered cooking = beans with thicker broth.
Remember about adding water.
Either way, you can puree beans, (using immersion blender in pot, or working with standing blender, in batches) or you can serve them whole.
These beans freeze perfectly and thawing a bag of them has often “saved the day” for me at supper time.
use almost the same ingredients as soft tacos, with a few changes.
Instead of the smaller corn tortillas, you will need:
Flour tortillas, sometimes called Burrito-sized
and cooked rice.
Most people leave out the lettuce or greens, but I’ve tried it…
Any cooked rice can be used, even plain white or brown rice, cause there’s lots of other flavorful ingredients.
You can soften/heat the flour tortilla at the same time that you melt some cheese on it. Again, use a microwave (about a minute) – I put the tortilla on a paper towel on top of a dinner plate.
Heating in a large skillet works, however the tortilla will get crispy (which you don’t want – makes it harder to roll up the burrito) before the cheese fully melts, so just warm the tortilla & the cheese.
ROASTING A CHICKEN (4/25/12)
A roasting chicken, about 3-4 pounds
Rinse bird inside & out, and pat dry.
Basic method: season skin all over w/butter or olive oil, salt & pepper.
Place in a small roasting pan (with or w/out rack), in a shallow casserole, on a small rimmed baking sheet or in a preheated cast iron pan. (see Mark Bittman recipe)
Traditionally, tie legs (ankles) together & tuck wing tips under body.
A few simple, optional flourishes:
→ Herb butter (softened butter w/chopped herbs) or garlic cloves under skin
→ Quartered onions, lemons, fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme or oregano under or inside the bird
Roast @ 450° for 1 hr, basting occasionally or not basting at all.
To test for doneness: meat thermometer inserted in thigh registers 165°; or check for golden skin, legs that feel loose when jiggled & juice that is clear when you poke a sharp knife between leg & breast.
Let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Could roast vegetables like carrots, onions & potatoes with chicken; or serve with/on soft polenta; salad or other veggies to complete the meal.