Bolognese Sauce — I Did it My Way

Tags

IMG_6746

Sometimes you just have to make things the way you want them to be.  And that would go for Bolognese sauce.  Many American cooks my age, unless they were blessed with an Italian nonna, were raised with red sauce with meat and spaghetti because that’s what there was and it was cheap.  Meatballs might show up on a big day.  That’s what there still is if you go down to most of the local, inexpensive Italian places across the U.S.  They also usually make a pizza the town adores or eats anyway along with a bottle of cheap chianti for date night and American beer on tap for the rest of the time.

Soldiers returning from Italy after World War II brought with them their desire for the foods of a grateful but war-torn nation. Enterprising immigrants opened restaurants providing the soldiers with the foods they had developed a craving for and introduced the soldiers’ families to spaghetti and meatballs, sausage and peppers, ravioli, lasagna, manicotti, baked ziti and pizza.

Throughout the 50s and 60s, Italian food was becoming a part of the American diet and delicatessens offered salami, capocollo, mortadella, pepperoni, mozzarella and provolone, while spumone was a popular dessert, and variations of minestrone abounded. During the 70s and 80s, many Italian-inspired regional dishes became popular in America — Eggplant Parmigiana, Fettuccini Alfredo, Penne alla Vodka, Shrimp Scampi, Chicken Piccata, Chicken Cacciatore, Steak Pizzaiola, Osso Buco, Veal Marsala, Pasta Primavera, Fried Calamari, Saltimbocca, Caponata, Calzone and Stromboli. Grissini, semolina bread, risotto, broccoli rabe, arugula, radicchio, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano Reggiano, ricotta, olive oil, pesto, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, pizzelle, cannoli, zeppole, torrone, gianduja, panettone and espresso were common additions to meals.

courtesy lagazzettaitaliana.com

I’ve had a hankering for pasta lately.  Last week, Dave and I stopped for lunch at Panino’s  –one of our local red sauce joints, albeit with the largest variety of panini I’ve ever seen — and he couldn’t believe I ordered a plate of spaghetti and meat sauce. “What?”  I simply craved it.  It was absolutely edible, but it didn’t satisfy the hunger for what I really wanted on the menu:  bolognese.IMG_6255If I get a hankering for fresh pasta and Bolognese, then I just have to make myself. (Especially if Emily’s coming home for a few days.)  I learned to cook sauce in a few places. I had an aunt who learned from the Italian restaurant down below her Chicago apartment and passed a few tidbits onto me.  Of course I watched my mom, who made the best Irish spaghetti around with her home-canned tomatoes.  I also worked in an Italian restaurant nearly all the way through college, but mostly I read Marcella Hazan. THE CLASSIC ITALIAN COOKBOOK was published in 1973, which was the year before Dave and I married, and it was updated in 1992. Combined at that point with MORE CLASSIC ITALIAN COOKING, it then became  ESSENTIALS OF CLASSIC ITALIAN COOKING.  They’re perfect, pleasant, loving, precise, and delicious tomes dedicated to just exactly how to do that Italian thing the way it should be done.  Read this NYT article for more info on my talented long-distance, long-time mentor, who by the way never wrote in English.  Her dear husband translated all of her work. Continue reading

One-Pan Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes

Tags

IMG_6706

You know how when you’re in someone else’s kitchen, you’re a bit lost?  Your best and perfect meals just barely turn out?  (Where’s the whisk, the measuring cup, the plates, the vinegar, and why doesn’t she buy your brand of butter?)  I’ve got a new kitchen and it’s my own.  And I’m a bit lost. Not totally, but somewhat.

photo-66It’s not that  I don’t know it at all.  I know this kitchen REALLY WELL; I watched it being built from the studs up.  It’s just that it’s new. My stuff isn’t all put away…

WHERE ARE MY THINGS????

and I’m still looking for quite a few kitchen items.  Like the rest of my dishes and my every day glasses, which just turned up under the upstair’s bathroom’s sink.  My big fear is that all of these boxes just aren’t going to fit in this new kitchen.  Or maybe that I’ll just go on in a big mess, never sorting out the stacks and cartons in the garage, spare room, and basement.  I can see me at Christmas searching for the –this is no kidding — two-foot can of cookie cutters.  (I really haven’t seen it.) Continue reading

Apple-Cheddar Salad with Spicy Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette + A Little Frittata

Tags

IMG_6686

Dave and I often make a big frittata (open-faced omelet) in our 14-inch skillet if we have someone in for brunch.  Dave’s the better frittata maker, so if I can, I leave him to it.  Once in a while he’ll make one just for the two of us on a Saturday morning and we’ll then eat the leftovers for dinner with or on salad. Other times we’ll have it sliced up into slivers with wine, cheese, and fresh fruit.

IMG_6698 IMG_6700

Last Saturday, he made a luscious breakfast using leftover roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, lots of sautéed onion, bacon, and two different cheeses.   It was his first try at cooking on the new Blue Star range and it was wondrous!  Tucker, shown here in the almost-finished kitchen,  always prays for something — anything — to drop. There are a couple of frittata posts on the blog (some new photos needed, I know)  and you’re welcome to use one for a recipe or to substitute Dave’s Saturday ingredient list to create your own: Continue reading

10 Easy Meals For Two Weeks–Dinners Are Planned!

IMG_4344

My daughter-in-law Jami is home for a couple of months with a new baby.photo-64 While this is a wondrous and incredible moment in time, she also has to come up with meals.  Just like many other people who talk to me about food, she says she simply has a hard time coming up with anything for dinner for her family.  Her husband, our son Sean, has often done the cooking in their household, but Sean is working nights and the dinner is, to coin a phrase, now on Jami’s plate.

IMG_6184I’m not sure why this is the case for so many people when the stores are full of food, the tv is even more full with its cooking or food shows, the internet is jammed with food blogs and magazines and recipes galore, but I can relate.  Here are a few thoughts followed by a group of recipes that might help solve the problem. Continue reading

Ina Fridays — Main Courses — Chicken Noodle Soup

Tags

IMG_6672

On the first Friday of each month, I blog Ina Garten recipes with a fine group of writer-cooks.  Scroll down to the bottom for links to the other posts and come back the next two months for November desserts and December appetizers.

I’m thrilled to eat Chicken Noodle Soup nearly anytime.  Ask Dave.  I’ll eat it even if he makes it and Dave doesn’t usually make soup.  How about you?  Is there anything better when you’re hungry or don’t feel well?  It’s a whole meal in a bowl and I often add extra vegetables to add taste, nutrition, and fiber.  I don’t mind eating it a couple days in a row or for lunches for several.  I’m ecstatic if I look in the freezer and see a container waiting for me when I’m wondering what’s for dinner.  Does chicken soup really increase health?  I don’t know for sure, but I know I’m happier and feel better when I’ve had a big bowl.

The 12th-century Jewish physician, Maimonides, started the chicken soup-as-medicine trend when, in his book, On the Cause of Symptoms, he recommended the broth of hens and other fowl to “neutralize body constitution.” According to Maimonides, boiled chicken soup also played a role in curing leprosy and asthma, and–as a Jewish grandmother might put it–“putting some meat on your bones.”

In Jewish Food: The World at Table, Matthew Goodman reports on a 1978 study conducted at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach that confirmed at least part of Maimonides’ prescription: “chicken soup proved more effective than simple hot or cold water in clearing congested nasal passages.”

courtesy My Jewish Learning

I made this big pot of goodness when our kids and grandkids were coming down to visit earlier this week after the sudden loss of our sweet golden retriever, Miss Gab. (Click for the sad tale.)  This comforting potion was justly the first real meal cooked in our new kitchen, which is almost done now.  (Phewee –I include a few more photos interspersed throughout the post.) Continue reading

Baking in the Almost-a-Kitchen–So Long, Miss Gab

IMG_6393

                In memoriam:  Miss Gab.  July 4, 2008 – September 26, 2014

Our world is made up of many things--special times, prayers, phases, people, schools, skies, places, music, mountains, meals, oceans, books, travels, and, for me, dogs.  If you’ve read this blog long, you’ll know the dogs often figure prominently in the stories and cooking adventures at our house; they always have.

(Below:  May, 2009:  Fiona, our first female golden, with puppy Miss Gab on top of her and then Miss Gab and Tucker with friend Newman)

IMG_0612

(Below:  puppy Tucker with Britta, under Miss Gab, and his own grown-up happy self)

IMG_6394

And while I don’t often enough chronicle loss and pain here in a what appears to be a cooking blog, I can’t move on, cook, or write without a tribute to our Gab–so long part of the Two-Dog Kitchen.  Maybe I just need to get it down so that I can see it here, maybe make some sense of it.  But there’s no sense to this story.  You’ve guessed this isn’t a happy tale. Continue reading

Favorite Zucchini Recipes from More Time and Dinner Place

Tags

This time of the year it’s tempting to fast forward and begin a bit of food talk about autumn roasted vegetables, spiked hot chocolate, chili, or pumpkin bread.  My blogging friend Lydia Walshin reminded me of this today.  But out west and up high (and elsewhere, too) where the vegetables are just now thinking about coming in –if they come in at all– we’re loving the lush summer extravaganza of corn, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, beans, cucumbers, and sweet bell peppers to name just a few.  It’s still summer; my tomatoes are just beginning to ripen.  I’m eating Colorado peaches for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The best corn of the year just arrived in the grocery this week.  And you’re trying to figure out what to do with all that squash, right?
.
(Above: Fried Egg Skillet with Zucchini and Salsa” – a one-dish breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just sauté the zucchini and onions, break the eggs on top, cover, and cook until the eggs are just how you like them.)
.
523430_556210914415423_1803089925_n
Zucchini might be my favorite vegetable; I eat is several times a week year-round– often for breakfast in my egg-white omelet or even stuffed into a sautéed veggie wrap. This post highlights my own favorite zucchini recipes from the last few years. I’ll probably include a few with yellow squash, which are just as prolific and delectable.  If there are photos you can’t abide, know that I KNOW they need to be redone and smile at them for me.  In the meantime, eat zucchini!  (By the way, said friend Lydia has published a lovely, quick book all about lovely ways to cook zucchini.  Check it out here.).
Here we go, beginning with morningish meals, including the one above at top:

Continue reading

Ina Fridays — Soups, Salads + Sides — Grilled Salmon Salad Redux

Tags

IMG_6629The first Friday of the month, I group-blog Ina Garten recipes with a great group of writer-cooks. Scroll down for more info and to click on the links for more soups, salads or sides.  Come back October 3 for Ina Fridays main dishes….

Finding a way to cook and blog when there’s no kitchen in the house is an effort. A problem.  Perhaps a puzzle.  A frustration, despite looking forward to the kitchen I’ll have by mid-October. I hope. We’ve been gone to Europe (a few pics at bottom) and had a new grand baby (ditto) since I last posted…and, in the meantime, the kitchen was gutted and the rebuilding was begun.

securedownloadAbove:  East wall.  Long pipe is the vent from the basement to the roof for the hot water heater.  Shorter pipe–at right–is the vent for the range hood.  This wall used to be all cream, melamine “Euro-style” cabinets that were incredibly easy to keep clean. (Wipe off with clean dishcloth or spray with Windox and paper towel dry on really industrious days.)  I had them when we lived in Europe and then loved them in this house.  They fell victim to the hue and cry to update.  (What does that mean?  Does anyone tell that to the people in colonial houses in Williamsburg?)

One of the oddest things is that I keep starting to go to the kitchen.  Which isn’t there.  It seems my world is in that room, though as a musician I know that’s only part of my life.  But my feet, my heart, my mind…continually move toward a now nonexistent room.  The construction has also cut off our living room (plastic-shut for dust/dirt), filled our guest room, master bedroom, laundry room, and garage with boxes, and often prohibits us from entering the house due to ladders, men on stilts, spray guns issuing forth, load of wood in the entry, and so on.  In other words, we  SHOULD HAVE MOVED OUT.  WHAT WERE WE THINKING? Continue reading

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Zucchini–Going on Vacay

IMG_6328

More Time will be on vacation for a few weeks after this post.  If there’s a possibility of a bit of writing and posting while I’m gone, I’ll be in touch! In the meantime, check out my fb page and enjoy the rest of your summer, friends.

When I have a really busy weekend coming up, this is the kind of meal I throw together on Thursday or Friday Night.  A lovely, big roasty sort of meat — or maybe a hefty oven-cooked chicken — is just the thing to tide us over without another hour or two in the kitchen. Sandwiches, tacos, salads, frittatas or cold slicing and snacking fill in the meals for the next few days. (I also give instructions for a yummy leftover hot meal –pork and mushrooms over rice with a rich sauce.) You’re free to do whatever it is needs doing. Like cleaning out your kitchen or packing for a trip, going to garage sales, or hiking and biking (or chatting on the porch) if you’re on a vacation or at the cabin.

IMG_6334

A couple of weeks ago, I made two crispy pork tenderloins and we ate off them for days.  I’m likely to buy these in cryopac at Costco where they’re a great value two to a pack. (You actually get two 2-packs and can freeze half.)  I wrapped them up in bacon, browned them on the stove top and threw them in the oven to finish cooking while I sautéed a big bunch of zucchini.  Over the following days, we ate barbecued pork sandwiches, tacos, and then threw some in a Cobb-type salad as a last resort. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 50 other followers