Category: Fall

Alyce’s Lamb Shanks on Mashed Ginger Rutabaga and Next Day Lamb Stew

Alyce’s Lamb Shanks on Mashed Ginger Rutabaga and Next Day Lamb Stew

I like a pasta bowl for lamb shanks and sides…sit them up in the rutabagas to show them off.

 If you’re a bit unsure about lamb shanks… what they are or how to cook them, here’s the deal:  they’re pretty much like cooking a tiny pot roast on a big old bone.  Whatever treatment you’ve given beef chuck roast is probably going to work with lamb shanks–which are from way up on the lamb’s leg.  Since the meat is tough, it needs to be braised (cooked in liquid) and the braising liquid of choice is often wine, though it needn’t be.  A stiff stout would work, as would broth, tomatoes, cider and water…whatever floats your shanks.  Add root vegetables and/or onions, celery, garlic, and you’ve an entire meal.   Even just onions and wine with a bit of dried rosemary will give you something well worth eating.  Most recipes call for two lamb shanks per person; there isn’t a lot of meat on one.  I find that given the vegetables and sauce inevitably cooked with them that one is plenty.

I start  lamb shanks on top of the stove and finish them in the oven, cutting off about a 1/2 hour cooking time compared to all oven braising.   They can also be done totally on top of the stove, paring down the cooking time even more to about an hour total. Because I wanted a simple rutabaga mash as a base, I cooked the rutabaga separately stove top just like you would mashed potatoes, except I added fresh ginger and garlic to the cooking water.  You could certainly cook the rutabaga in the pot with the meat for ease of preparation; add them for the oven time only.  Or, if you wanted, you could mix up a bit of couscous (in place of the rutabaga)  while the lamb rests or even make a salad in place of green beans. I added potatoes mostly because I wanted them for the next day stew.  It won’t take much (and actually there are vegetables in the sauce) to finish this meal.  Then, there’s

way fast shanks in the microwave

If you’re interested in under an hour (really),  folks have also been microwaving lamb shanks with great success since 1989 thanks to THE NEW BASICS COOKBOOK (Workman, 1989) written by Silver Palate gurus Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. These shanks are done in 30 minutes.  Just for fun, here’s  the info for microwaving the shanks:  (And by the way, I microwave my chuck roasts for chimichangas.)

In a 2 qt microwave-safe casserole, cook 2T olive oil at full power for 2 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup chopped red bell pepper, 3/4 c chopped onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 sprigs rosemary (1/2 t dried), 1/2 tsp salt, freshly ground black pepper, 3/4 cup dry red wine, and 1T tomato paste.  Cook, uncovered, 5 min.  Remove 1/2 of the vegetable mixture and set it aside.   Lightly oil 3 small lamb shanks with a bit more olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  Arrange shanks in a triangle over the vegetables remaining in the casserole.  Cover, and cook for 20 min.  Turn the shanks and cook another 10 min.  Spoon the reserved vegetables over the shanks, cover, and cook 2 minutes.  Remove the casserole from the microwave, and let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.  Serves 2-3.

 Still a great all-purpose cookbook( above recipe courtesy THE NEW BASICS)

If you’d like to try them my way, do what Dave and I did:  put on some great music, pour yourself a glass of wine, and throw this in the oven to braise while you put your feet up and talk through the day.  While you can sure eat lamb shanks alone, they’re worth sharing.  And, wonder of wonders, if you didn’t eat the third lamb shank, you can make a beautiful stew next day…recipe down below.

wine

While the French like Bordeaux with lamb, I am partial to a softer, rounder wine here like Burgundy (Oregon Pinot Noir to be exact; good French Burgundy is out of my price range generally speaking) or a (red) French Côtes du Rhône, which is a Grenache blend.  These wines, for my palate, compliment the softer, sweeter notes in the root vegetables. So, yes, you’ll need two bottles of wine for this meal.  One for you and one for the pot.  (Not a bad deal.)  Ask your wine shop about an inexpensive–under $15– Côtes du Rhône; there are lots of tasty values.  The Oregon Pinot will be pricier for the most part (though there are some $20-$30 bottles), but really worth it for a splurge or birthday.  These wines will be $40-$50 and up and are often cellared for several years before drinking.  So if you head toward the Pinot for you to drink, pick up something less expensive for the pot.  Which ones:  I love most Oregon Pinots, but have soft spots for PriveKen Wright and Sineann,

Try this: 

 alyce’s lamb shanks with mashed ginger rutabaga, new potatoes, and lemon-crumbed green beans               serves 2-3

Raw lamb shank

Let them brown well on each side
  • 3-4 lamb shanks
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (plus extra for vegetables)
  • 4T olive oil, divided
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 2 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped
  • 4 large carrots, trimmed
  • 3 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1 750 ml bottle red wine; I like Cotes du Rhone
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1t Herbes de Provence
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 large rutabaga, trimmed and peeled
  • 6-8 small red potatoes  (No recipe given for steaming potatoes or beans.)
  • 2-3 cups fresh green beans
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1t butter
  • 1/2 t grated lemon rind
  • 2t chopped fresh parsley

  1.  Mix flour with salt and pepper in a shallow, large bowl.  Place one shank at a time in the bowl and, using your hands, cover with the flour-salt-pepper mixture.  Repeat with remaining shanks.
  2. Meantime, heat over medium heat 2T of the olive oil in a heavy, oven-safe pot (you’ll need a lid or heavy-duty aluminum foil; this must be covered).  Place the shanks in the pot and let brown well–10 minutes.  Turn over and brown the other side.  Remove shanks from pan and set aside.
  3. Add remaining 2T olive oil, heat and add vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, garlic), sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and saute briefly–5 minutes or so.  Add herbs–  bay, rosemary,  thyme, the tiny bit of crushed red pepper, and Herbes de Provence.  Pour in wine and chicken stock and bring to a boil.

 4.  Return lamb shanks to the pan. Reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook on stovetop 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
5.  Place covered pot in oven and bake another hour or so until meat is quite tender…maybe even coming off the bone if you like it like that.  (Meantime, make the rutabaga mash (see below for recipe) new potatoes and green beans–no recipe provided for these.  I do like a bit of bread crumbs with lemon and pepper on my beans.  What I do is throw a piece of great white baguette in the food processor and then toast those crumbs in a bit of butter and grated lemon peel.  When the beans are steamed and salted, and peppered, I top them with the lemon-crumb mixture)

Making a sauce and serving up:

1.  Remove the cooked shanks to a warm dish and cover.  Place back in oven to keep warm while you make the sauce and mash the rutabagas.

  

 

Cover and return to oven to keep warm while you make the sauce.

2.  In the pan you should have a 1/2 pot of lovely gravy with soft carrots, onions, and so on.   If you can do it, spoon off a bit of the fat and remove the small sticks leftover from the rosemary and thyme.  Taste and see if it needs seasoning.  If you have an immersion blender, haul out the power tools and blend this sauce a bit—as smooth as you’d like.  If no immersion blender, you can carefully transfer some of the sauce and veggies to a food processor or simply mash away with a potato masher.  Taste again and adjust seasoning if needed.
3.  In a large shallow bowl, place half of the rutabaga mash and carefully sit a lamb shank, bone up, in the mash, so that it stands at attention. Spoon a generous serving of sauce on meat and mash.  Repeat with the remaining serving(s).
4.  Add steamed potatoes and green beans, if serving.  Garnish with chopped parsley.
5.  Serve hot.  Let leftovers cool completely, cover well, and refrigerate 1-2 days until you make stew.

mashed ginger rutabaga   2 servings

Bring a 2-3 qt saucepan 1/2 full of water to a boil.  Add a 1″ piece of fresh ginger and 1 peeled garlic clove, as well as a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Meantime, trim and peel one large rutabaga, which looks like a large turnip…with gnarly roots.  Just for fun, know that Brits call these babies swedes and Scots call them neeps just as they do turnips.  Cut the rutabaga into 1/2 inch pieces and add to the boiling water.  Cook until tender, about 20 minutes, and drain.  Remove garlic and ginger; discard.  Mash rutabaga well with a tablespoon of butter using a potato masher or a mixer.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasoning. (Remember these vegetables will have a hearty sauce on them.)
Cut up the cooked new potatoes for the stew; they go in toward the end or they’ll disintegrate.
leftover lamb stew                    serves 4

  •  2T olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and sliced into  1/4-1/2″ moons
  • 1/2 large turnip, peeled and diced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 large mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Leftover lamb braising sauce
  • Leftover new potatoes, cut up
  • Leftover lamb, cut off the bone and chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • Drop or two of hot sauce if needed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. To an 8 qt stock pot, add olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Add fennel, turnip, carrots and mushrooms.  Cook for 5-7 minutes until just softening and beginning to brown a bit.  
  2. Pour in broth, water, and braising sauce and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add potatoes,  and lamb.
  3. Let cook until vegetables are quite tender…20-30 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt, pepper, or hot sauce as needed.
  4. Serve hot garnished with parsley and with some baguette for dunking.

two dog kitchen and what else I’ve been cooking:

   Pan-Roasted Brussel Sprouts and New Potatoes with Parmesan and Onions

I blogged this on my other blog, Dinner Place, The Solo Cook

When do we get to walk?  This computer stuff is getting old, Mom.
Testing a new bread machine.

Leftover grilled chicken with pomegranate seeds, berries and cabbage-spinach salad with sherry vinaigrette
Our Gab

Zabaglione…will make again and blog…

Chickadees, in bitter cold, grab seeds and break them with their beaks while standing on metal feeders.  Brr. You think you have food problems.

Sing a new song, and cook lamb!
Alyce

50 Women Game-Changers Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian, #32 – Sullivan’s Island Shrimp Bog

50 Women Game-Changers Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian, #32 – Sullivan’s Island Shrimp Bog

 
 Big bunch of bacon. (This is good.  I’m married to someone who eats anything with bacon.)  Next:  tons of onions.  Rice. Lots of shrimp, ahhh.  All cooked together in one lovely mess called a bog.  For those of us with no real connection to the south-eastern coastal states, a bog brings to mind cranberries in Maine or Wisconsin, even.  Or being stuck at work, as in:  “I’m all bogged down writing that article.”  But this bog, this “Sullivan’s Island Shrimp Bog,” is just what it sounds like:  mounds of steamed shrimp mixed up on top of a velvety oh-so-thick tomatoed, oniony, spicy rice–perfect for brunch or a lunch bunch.  If the words “comfort food” weren’t so over-used and so inappropriate (comfort food being food you had a gazillion times as a kid…), I’d call this comfort food extraordinaire.  Comfort food x100.

Just for fun, here’s the wikipedia definition of a bog:   A bog, quagmire or mire is a wetland that accumulates acidic peat, a deposit of dead plant material—often mosses or, in Arctic climates, lichens.

Food for thought, I’d say.  Read on:

From Gourmet Live’s 50 Women Food-Changers, #32 Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian (of the Edible Communities magazines fame) comes this jambalaya or sopa seca-like dish that will be one of your go-tos for days like Super Bowl or Book Club Supper.  Or make it just for you; halved it was a beautiful supper for two with lovely lunch leftovers.

Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian published the book Edible, A Celebration of Local Foods in 2010 after a long and successful career designing, writing, and publishing locavore food magazines…. (as well as lots of other impressive things)  Local peeps are familiar with the free edible TWIN CITIES.

In Tracey’s own words….

Then, in 2002, we decided to launch our first magazine, Edible Ojai, which was very well received. From 2002 to 2004, we worked on a plan to expand and have multiple magazines, calling it Edible Communities. In the early stages of that plan, we thought we would do the additional magazines ourselves, perhaps up and down the California coast. Then, in January of 2004, Saveur magazine included Edible Ojai in their “Top 100” for the year and within a week of that issue hitting newsstands, we had calls from over 400 people asking us for an Edible magazine in their community. That is when we decided it would be better to change the model so that each magazine could be locally owned and operated by people in the communities we published in.
Edible Communities officially started in May 2004, with the launch of Edible Cape Cod. (courtesy dailygreen.com Read more) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hence the eventual cookbook and hence our sweet bog recipe. Buy the stuff; make it soon!

by the way:  sullivan’s island is near charleston, south carolina

                          sullivan’s island shrimp bog : 6 servings        

   Cooks’s Note:   I halved this and made it in a 3.5 qt cast iron, lidded pot:  we couldn’t stop eating it.  There was plenty for two of us and probably enough left for tomorrow’s lunch if Dave doesn’t get up in the middle of the night and eat it.  fyi  I exactly halved the spices (as well as all else) and we found them perfect–a bit spicy without being too hot.  This is perky, bright and addictive.  Drink beer with this unless  you have a great off-dry riesling.

ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 pound sliced bacon, finely chopped
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne, plus more if needed
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken broth, plus more if needed
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp (40 count), shelled and deveined I used cooked shrimp in shells
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges
procedures
  1. In a fine-mesh strainer, rinse the rice well under cold running water. Drain well; set aside.
2.In a large heavy Dutch oven or stockpot, cook the bacon over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined dish; set aside. Pour off and discard all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat remaining in the pot. Add the onions to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the drained rice, salt, nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne and stir for 1 minute.
3.      Stir in the broth, tomatoes with liquid, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Stir in the cooked bacon and the shrimp and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is cooked through, adding more broth if the rice seems to be drying out, about 10 minutes. Stir the bog with a fork. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Sprinkle with parsley, garnish with lemon wedges, and serve immediately.

Check out how the other bloggers are honoring the 50 Women Game-Changers:
                                                     *******************


Sue – The View from Great Island   
Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan –
The Spice Garden              
Heather – girlichef
Miranda of
Mangoes and Chutney 
 Mary – One Perfect Bite
Barbara –
Movable Feasts              
Jeanette – Healthy Living
Linda –
Ciao Chow Linda              
Linda A – There and Back Again
Martha –
Lines from Linderhof       
Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits,
Veronica –
My Catholic Kitchen     
Annie Lovely Things
Nancy –
Picadillo                        
Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook

Val – More Than Burnt Toast       
Joanne – Eats Well With Others
                                                   ***************************
If you liked this recipe, you might like:

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood return next post,friends.  But while the pups are off, listen to a great young singer I’m listening to tonight… Jeremy Anderson.  His new album is out (click on his name)  and he does all the tracks himself.  Sometimes 12!! He’s got some music on itunes, too.

 Sing a new song, make this shrimp and listen to Jeremy,
Alyce

Turkey Pot Pie or Last Ditch and Best Effort for Thanksgiving Leftovers

Turkey Pot Pie or Last Ditch and Best Effort for Thanksgiving Leftovers

Turkey Pot Pie

You might have lived when pot pies were a regular feature of your mom’s menus.  Maybe you had them instead of TV Dinners.  I have a sketchy memory of frozen pies from the grocery @10 for $1. This undoubtedly dates me in an unkind way.  I did not have a mother who refused to cook; she cooked a lot.   That didn’t mean we never had a frozen pot pie.  I remember liking them, though I maybe haven’t tasted one in fifty years.

If you go out to eat at any number of restaurants these days, you’ll find homemade pot pies are on lots of menus and people order them over and over.  Definitely comfort food.  Certainly fattening.  But oh so filling and often luscious.  They’re full of all kinds of things–poultry, vegetables, roast beef, sea food, etc.

Before Thanksgiving, I set out to make the best turkey pot pie (using leftovers) I could.   No more expensive restaurant versions and certainly no more frozen pies.   I invited a group of people for a turkey and roasted root vegetable dinner and then had my way with what was left.  I discovered it was a. simple and b. better than the 10 for $1 ones from Garofalo’s on Crawford Avenue.  I served it up with a side of lemoned broccolini and a scoop of my red hot cranberry sauce, as well as a handsome glass of Oregon Chardonnay or maybe a French Côtes du Rhône–a lovely, medium-bodied and inexpensive wine that flatters oven-roasted vegetables, as well as pork or poultry.  (And lots else)
Dave and I both liked the pie better than the meal from which it came.  Go figure.

Feel free to take this filling and top it with biscuits–even Bisquick biscuits– in a 2 qt greased rectangular glass casserole dish.  (I made chicken pot pie often for my kids growing up…usually with biscuit topping.)   Or buy the Pillsbury pie dough from the refrigerator section.  But do make it.  You’ll be glad you did.  I promise. *If you’d like to make my crust, use the recipe I made for Kathy’s Apple Pie; that’s a good all-purpose crust.
Here’s how:

Alyce’s Turkey Pot Pie

There are three parts to this recipe:  1.  Crust  2.  Filling  3.  Sauce

2 9″ pie crusts* (Plus 1T melted butter -or 1 egg white beaten with a bit of water- brushed on top crust before baking.)  Made or bought.

Filling:

1 Tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery with leaves, diced
4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each fresh thyme and tarragon (or 1/2 t each dried)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage (or 1/4 t dried, powdered sage)
2 cups chopped roasted root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, potatoes, winter squash, etc)
2 c chopped cooked turkey, white or dark meat


Sauce:  (Basically a velouté with added cream or milk)

2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon each ground sea salt and ground white pepper
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup (8 ounces) chicken stock
1 cup milk, cream or half and half

1.  If you have made or bought pie crusts, put one in the pie pan (trim and pinch) and place the other between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap.  Refrigerate the pan and the wrapped dough while you make the filling and the sauce.
2.  In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat and add onion, celery, and mushrooms.  Cook until vegetables are softened, 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic during last minute of cooking and stir in herbs.
3.  Take out pie pan with bottom crust and spoon onion mixture evenly over the bottom of the dough.  Top with chopped vegetables and turkey.

Spoon onion mixture into pie pan.

 

Top with roasted vegetables and turkey.  Pour on sauce.

 

Add the top crust and brush with butter or egg whites.  Make slits for steam.

4.  Make sauce (see below) and pour over the turkey and vegetable mixture.  The turkey and vegetables should be just about covered.  If not, drizzle in just a little more chicken stock, milk, or cream.
5.  Take the top crust out of the refrigerator and place on top of the filled pie.  Trim edges and pinch together edges of the two crusts.
6.  Brush entire top crust with butter or an eggwhite beaten with a bit of water.  Make several slits in the top crust (for steam to escape) and bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
7.  Place pie on rack and cool 15 minutes or so.  Slice and serve hot with broccolini (squeeze lemon on top) and cranberry sauce.

Making the sauce:  In a 2qt saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat.   Add salt, pepper, and flour.  Stir for 2-3 minutes for flour to cook a little bit and slowly whisk in chicken stock and milk or cream. Simmer, stirring often, until just barely thickened.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  A quick sprinkle of nutmeg is a possible addition, as is a drop or two of hot sauce.

Two-Dog Kitchen or Around the ‘Hood
                  A few really random pics from our Thanksgiving Trip to Illinois

Turkey Soup… of course…Yesterday!

Read my recipe for the above soup on examiner.com

 

Visiting with sister and niece on way home.

 

Grandpa and Grandma’s Dining Room

 

Turkey ready for its sauna.  4 cups turkey stock with lots of veggies at bottom of roaster makes for great gravy.

 

Dave’s Tomatoes with Smoked Oysters, Capers, and Horseradish

 

Making Turkey stock.  Yes, use the giblets and the neck., though our turkey had NO NECK!

 

Cranberry Bread

 

Pumpkin Bread with Candied Ginger and Pecan Topping

 

Cauliflower Gratinee from SILVER PALATE

 

Making a wine cork wreath in the garage.

 

Needs a bow.

 

Grandpa–a last mow of the yard.

 

Me–making homemade rolls.

 

 

Leftover pumpkin pie filling–in the microwave for a quick dessert.
Happy Thanksgiving!
Sing a new song on the First Day of Advent, friends….  
Prepare Him Room!
Alyce

 

Pie 101 —  Apple Pie              (Kathy’s Apple Pie)

Pie 101 — Apple Pie (Kathy’s Apple Pie)

Kathy’s pie

Why my Pie 101 — Apple Pie is called “Kathy’s Apple Pie”

My hairdresser works about a half-a-block from my house.  Her name is Kathy.  I chose her because… she works about a half-a-block from my house.  When we moved here, I cried at leaving Jen, my hairdresser of 13 years in Colorado.  So I didn’t even look for anyone special; I just chose the closest “girl” and tried her.  I mean, you’ve seen my hair.  What could go wrong?  And, if it did, how much time would it take to grow a bit?  Luckily, everything has worked out fine.  My hair’s just right.
When Kathy did it the first time, I sent Jen a pic on my cell phone.  “She’s got the color spot-on, but it’s a wee bit short,” said Jen.

My hair’s been the same for…let’s say for a while.  (With Britta last March.)

Outside Kathy’s shop is a sign that says, “Curl Up and Dye.”  Underneath:  “For Hair.”

Kathy and I hit it off right away.  We’re both “of an age,” though she still has a couple of kids running around sometimes at home.   She also has lots of dogs–more than I do.   There’s tons of great stuff about her, but I like her because you can just talk about anything when you’re in her chair:  houses, food, kids, husbands, church, jobs, horses, dogs, clothes, shopping, shoes, ETC.   She’s given me the info on great places to find and do all kinds of things, but mostly helped solidify my forever dedication to the lovely institution of the St. Paul Farmer’s Market where her family has a bagel breakfast sandwich and coffee stall.  (Dave and I frequent that hot spot.)  Sometimes we talk about whether or not it’s worth it for them to start baking their own bagels.  Having watched Dave make bagels (I don’t make them!), I lean toward buying them from the great bagel maker down the street–just like they have been.  Why mess with a good thing if you’re still making a tidy profit?

One time, in a whimsical voice, Kathy said, “Ah, gee.  In fall, I really miss apple pie.  My Mom always made great apple pie.”  She was sad.  I don’t think Kathy bakes apple pies, but I think she was missing her mom as much as anything.  So I figured next time I went to get my hair cut, I’d bring her a pie.  I make a lot of pies, though I rarely eat them.  In fact, pie makes people so happy that I don’t know why I don’t eat them. (Naturally, I eat the great coconut cream pie in the cafe on the square in Santa Fe… or my own cherry pie from our Colorado cherries.  I’m more of a chocolate woman overall.)

Late this morning, I started Kathy’s pie.  I had no idea how her mother made pie, but my pie wouldn’t be like Kathy’s mom’s no matter what, so I just baked the pie.  Pretty much like I always do, but with a little bit of a twist all around.  Lots of butter, great Honeycrisp apples, Penzey’s cinnamon right on top of the unbaked bottom crust.  Cream brushed top crust.   A recipe I’ll share.  You might like it for Thanksgiving.  If you make it now and don’t bake it, you can wrap it tightly in foil, freeze it, and bake it frozen (on a foiled sheet pan) early Thanksgiving morning.  It’ll take longer to get done, but done ahead is done ahead.

Kathy’s Apple Pie  makes 1 9″ pie; serves 6-8

2 9-10″ pie crusts (recipe below)

5-7 medium Honeycrisp apples, cored, peeled, and sliced thinly+
2t fresh lemon juice
3/4 t Chinese cinnamon, divided (some for crust and some for the apples)
1/4 t grated fresh nutmeg
1/8 t salt

3T flour
2/3 – 3/4 c granulated white sugar  plus 2 tsp for bottom crust and top crust (use 2/3 for sweeter
apples and 3/4 for tarter ones like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith)
2T cold butter, diced
1t heavy cream, half and half or milk

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place one pie crust in the 9″ glass pie pan, trim, and crimp (pinch) edges.
3.  Use about 1 tsp of the sugar and mix with 1/8 tsp cinnamon.  Dust the entire bottom crust with the cinnamon-sugar  mixture.
4.  In a large bowl, mix apples and lemon juice.  Add flour,  3/4 cup of sugar, the rest of the cinnamon, the nutmeg and the salt.  Toss gently, but well.  Carefully pour or spoon apple mixture into the crust.
5.  Drop the diced butter evenly over the apple mixture.
6.  Place top crust over the pie and trim so that there’s about an inch overhanging the pie.
7.  Pinch together the crust and either press edge of crust into the pie plate with the tines of a fork or crimp.
8.  Using pastry brush, brush top crust with cream or milk and dust evenly with the last teaspoon of sugar.
9.  Make several small slits (evenly spread) through top crust for venting the filling as it cooks. You can make a design; I made a “K” for Kathy and a few “arrows.”
10.  Bake 15-20 minutes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, and lower oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake another hour or so until pie is golden brown and juices are bubbling out of the slits. *  Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

+Honeycrisp apples, developed at “The U” here in Minnesota, hold their shape well.  Because of that, I slice them thinly.  They won’t get terribly soft and break down.  If you’re using a softer apple, cut them in larger slices.  Also, some folks like the skin left on their apples for pie.  Do as you like.

*If it’s getting too brown, carefully lay a piece of aluminum foil loosely on top of the pie.

Prep note:  I usually prep the apple mixture and put  that aside.  Then I tackle making the crust.  I roll out the bottom crust and place it in the pie pan.  In goes the apple mixture and I set the whole thing aside while I take the second crust out of the frig and roll it.  I next roll the second crust loosely around the rolling pin (or you can carefully fold it in half and then in half again) and gently lay it on top of the buttered apples. Trim, crimp, and it’s ready for the oven.

Here’s the pie before baking.
I had enough for a coffee cup pie for Dave.

Double Pie Crust Recipe — Pâte Brisée*

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup salted butter, cut into 1″ pieces
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup iced water  (Use a 1 cup measuring cup and pour in 1/2 water; add ice and use quickly.)

*In food processor, place flour, butter and salt. (This may also be done with a pastry cutter or two knives.)  Pulsing, cut butter into the flour until there are 1/2″ sizes pieces (and some smaller and some larger) of buttered crumbs.
*With machine running, pour in water slowly.  When the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the machine, stop the machine, and turn dough out onto a well-floured board or counter.
*Gently and quickly pat dough into a ball and divide ball evenly in half.
*Wrap one half and refrigerate it.  Take the other half and press it into a flat disc.  Dust the dough with flour, and, with a floured rolling pin, roll from the center out to the edges moving clockwise around the dough until the dough is about 10″ in diameter.  Move the dough every few rolls of the pin so it doesn’t stick.  You may need to keep putting a bit of flour sprinkled underneath.
*Remove dough from frig and repeat for top crust.

All baked up with somewhere to go.

*The recipe for this dough is from an old CUISINART cookbook–one of those thin, small books that came with my first CUISINART in the early ’80s maybe… This was the first Pâte Brisée I ever used and I’ve been using it ever since. Thanks, Cuisinart!

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the Hood…..

Next Monday, November 21, I direct a pick-up choir at St. Frances Cabrini Church,  1500 Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN,  for an Ecumenical Thanksgiving.  Want to sing?  Show up at 6pm for rehearsal of easy anthem,”Simple Gifts” for worship service that begins at 7pm.  Hope to hear you!

This is up on the blog next–a braised leg of lamb with vegetables.  Perfect alternative Thankgiving.
The start of a neighborhood birthday/wine-tasting dinner….I did the lamb above.  It was potluck.
Friend Mac at the table Friday night.
Long night, eh, buddy?
We have a monthly concert series at Prospect Park–Here’s SHOUT! from Lake Harriet U Methodist
Today’s cardinal + flowering geraniums still living in neighbor’s window boxes!
Floor’s done and I’ve been painting.  The color, appropriate to the season, is “Pumpkin Pie.”
Gorgeous trees still golden ’til just a few days ago.
Last roses of summer….

We haven’t had any really cold weather yet and that’s unusual.  Several days ago, I finally cut the last of the roses and brought them in for a vase.  I rarely cut my flowers, thinking they look best where God placed them.  But when it’s going to be 22 degrees F, I cut them all!

Still blooming the second week of November

A foil packet salmon done in 20 minutes I wrote for Examiner.com.

Dave said, “This is the best salmon I’ve ever tasted.” I couldn’t believe how tender it was.

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Roasted Pork Loin and Hot! Cranberry Sauce

Roasted Pork Loin and Hot! Cranberry Sauce

 

New USDA regs say it’s ok if it’s a bit pink.

 

As a recipe tester for Cooks Illustrated, I get to make all kinds of things.  I mostly like them, but sometimes I don’t.  The note that arrives with each recipe always says something to the effect of:

If you don’t care for one or more of the ingredients in the dish or wouldn’t ordinarily eat it, please do not test this recipe…

So, for instance, if you hate hot stuff, don’t test the On-Fire Texas Chili.  I love to see the magazine months and months later to see recipes on which I’ve worked; I’m interested to see the final result-which may not be the recipe I saw originally.  I test recipes far out of season sometimes (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before–) and adore that out of time and place experience that has us eating turkey in March.  That was one of the best turkeys I’ve ever eaten, by the way, but felt like it took all day to make. If you didn’t buy the magazine last January or February, the recipe is online, but you must subscribe.

Testing recipes is much like my life as a church choir director that often has me reviewing Christmas cantatas over the summer when I’m less busy.  Even now, while I’m somewhat late getting started as I didn’t begin my new job until September, I’m singing daily about the baby Jesus while folks are buying Halloween candy and setting out their pumpkins.  Of course, I, too, am setting out my pumpkins despite adoring canned pumpkin.

Worth mentioning again:  buy canned pumpkin now if you need it for Thanksgiving pies or pumpkin bread.  There is, for another year, a shortage.

A bigger meal:  Add the pumpkin soup from the last post for a first course. For starters, serve something quite light like warmed olives and a few crispy chips; this is a big meal.

Want to bake a sweet something?  Make my pear or apple crostata for this fall dinner.

Not baking?  Purchased ginger cookies and a scoop of rum raisin ice cream.  Perfect.

Wine:  This is a meal for a splurge if you’re up for it:  buy an Oregon Pinot Noir.  Or try an entry-level bottle, which are now at entry-level prices.  For instance: Ken Wright’s under $30 beginner Pinot, which is not “beginner” at all.  Another option is a (French) Côtes du Rhone– many of which are so tasty, truly fallish, and under $15.  Ask your wine shop for a recommendation about which one.  Or just pick one to try.  You’ll probably be quite satisfied.  The 1/2 cup of wine you need in the cranberry sauce will be perfect out of any of these bottles.

A note about cooking pork loin: Unless done correctly (I don’t want to say “well” as we don’t have to cook it done anymore–145 degrees F is the USDA number today), pork can be dry and tasteless.  This particular recipe, however, which I often pair with roasted vegetables, is juicy and incredibly flavorful even leftover and/or warmed up.  Great for pork tacos the next day or chopped up in a frittata, it also makes lovely sandwiches.  We like it with my hot and spicy cranberry sauce.

Drizzle cut up root vegetables with olive oil, dust well with salt, pepper, and rosemary and roast at 425 F for 35-40 minutes or at 350 for closer to an hour.
This is easy, lush, and spicy–if you want it to be. (Recipe below) Good hot or cold.

So, just for a fun change from my own kitchen’s recipes, here’s one I’ve adapted from CI, and hope you enjoy.  A 3 or 3.5 pork pork loin feeds 6 generously and a 5 # roast feeds 8.  I like to carve the loin, place it at the center of a large serving platter, and surround it with roasted vegetables.  It can be placed at the center of the table or passed and everyone can help themselves.

Roasted Pork Loin and Hot Cranberry Sauce

  •  3-5# pork loin
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons coarsely-ground black peppper
  • 2 Tablespoons finely minced fresh or dried rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  1. Unwrap pork loin and set in roasting pan on a cooking sprayed or lightly oiled “V” Rack if you have one.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, pepper, rosemary, and salt.  Rub spice mixture over the pork and let sit an hour.  You can do this the night before and leave it covered in the frig, too.  Let the meat come to room temperature before roasting.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  (Make sure your oven is clean.)  Place roasting pan with pork on a  rack situated at the middle of the oven and roast 30 minutes.
  4. Lower emperature to 375 degrees F and continue to roast another 30-40 minutes.  Check temperature at this point and remove from oven to rest or continue roasting until thermometer reads 145 -150 before resting.  Let sit 15-20 minutes (tented with foil) before carving.  It’s fine if it’s a bit pink and it should be juicy.
  5. Serve with a side of my Hot! Cranberry Sauce (recipe below.)

Hot! Cranberry Sauce

serves 6

  • 1 pound fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 apple, peeled, and chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (leave out if you don’t like spicy food)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Water to cover
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

In a 3 qt heavy sauce pan, place 1 pound fresh cranberries, 1/2 lemon quartered, 1/2 large apple peeled and chopped, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup (or more to taste) brown sugar.    Add water to cover fruit, the pour in 1/2 cup red wine.  Bring to a boil, and lower heat.  Simmer for about 15 minutes until cranberries pop, fruit is softened, and mixture is thick.  Stir frequently  and add water if it becomes too dry.

Remove lemon to serve or let your sour puss friend eat it.  (Oranges can be used in place of lemons or in addition.)  Serve hot or cold.  Keeps well in refrigerator for several days.    If you do not like spicy food, leave out the crushed red pepper.

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood

Busy around our house as fall takes hold.  Temperatures are dipping down toward the 40’s at night and it’s pretty dark at 7:30 am this far north.  Fall gardening chores are in swing (trimming back and covering rose bushes and cutting back hydrangeas, etc) and the leaves are still falling.  My lilac trees continue to hold green leaves, but the oak leaves from the neighbor’s yard are all over.  Along the Mississippi River, the maples are shedding leaves rapidly.  Last week, I drove to work through nearly a maelstrom of leaves flying all over the car.  When the dogs and I walk, Gabby is loving playing through the carpet of brown.

 

Below:   I couldn’t have done this if I tried.  Setting down my music bag on a dining room chair the other day, the bag caught the edge of the fall-decorated table/cloth and pulled everything off without damaging a thing.

 

 

Et voila:  set for Sunday night supper for World Food Day.

 

Pumpkin bread time.  Set out early to defrost in its wrapping.

I had Sue for dinner Monday night to celebrate the end of Opus and Olives, Book Club for wine and cheese and apple crostata on Tuesday night, Choir on Wednesday, church music friends on Friday, and 6 for dinner Sunday night for World Food Day….  It was a cooking week, but mostly did things I’ve done before and didn’t take many pictures???  Too busy, I guess.  The beautiful thing was sharing so many moments with so many people I love.

The house will be in an uproar as the kitchen floor is taken up next week and the new wooden floor installed the following week.  In between, I get a new refrigerator to replace the nearly- new refrigerator that won’t open it’s freezer side because it’s too big for the space!  So silly and wasteful.  I bought a German refrigerator, a Fisher and Paykel.  It arrives Friday to go into the dining room until the kitchen is done!

$1159 is the 2-drawer dishwasher price!

I continue to do lectionary study at St. Frances Cabrini in Prospect Park on Thursday mornings with an ever-growing group of worship planners.  While I sometimes miss my old Bible study at Faith awfully (Love you all so!), I’m so thrilled to be part of a new group.  We’re also planning an ecumenical Thanksgiving service for Monday, November 21 at Cabrini.  Time tba.

Note re salmon:  Read yesterday’s NYT article about purchasing Pacific wild salmon.  
They appear to be infected by a virus that started in the commercial fish farms.

COOK THIS NOW : 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make  by  NYT columnist and long-time cookbook author, Melissa Clark. is the newest cookbook on my shelf.   Studded with sumptuous photos, this seasonal charmer will tell you  with a delightful “voice” exactly what to cook exactly now.  Get yours soon (or today as an e-book) by clicking on the title!

Meantime, we’re about to commence a bit of travel east and west while the dust flies in the house.  Might be a hiatus in the blog, but know I’m cooking another “The Big Night” feast with the gang in Colorado.  Keep watch for pics.

In memoriam…
Saddest week for organist and friend, Roberta Kagin, who lost her dear husband Craig Alexander last week.  The stories told about this man (one goal, nearly achieved, was to race past the police dept in Woodbury 100 times going over 100mph)  were so many and indicated a love for life I couldn’t help but admire to the nth degree. At age 84, he was still in-line skating to his volunteer job comforting families at the hospital surgery waiting room.  Go, Craig, go!  The rest of us:  Live, People, Live!!

Do it all with joy and sing a new song,
Alyce

Curried Pumpkin Soup or Julie Used to Live Here

Curried Pumpkin Soup or Julie Used to Live Here

 

I adore pumpkin in nearly any form.  I think I love pumpkins because they appear during my birthday month.  Maybe not, though.  Because, truly:  I love to eat them.  Almost any way.  While I’m sure pumpkin soup has been around a long time (A quick peek at my historical cookbooks, however makes no mention of it.  American Cookery 1796 has a recipe for Pumpkin Pudding.  Fanny Farmer, 1896, lists only pumpkin pie.  The  Household Searchlight Recipe Book, 1931, has listings for canning pumpkin, making pumpkin custard, jam, and pie with cheese crust–but no soup,) I had never tasted it until 1985 when we went to live in Spokane, Washington, and my God’s gift of a neighbor, Joyce Smith, made pumpkin soup in the pumpkins for a holiday meal.  Ten years later, I traveled right here to St. Paul, and good cook Lani Jordan whipped up a pumpkin-peanut butter soup for Sue’s birthday lunch.

My own soup was years later coming.  Late 90’s maybe.  By now, it comes in several guises.  I sometimes blend cooked, ripe pears and apples into the mix.. or other batches contain a touch of vanilla and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds on top.  One memorable pot was ladled into bowls with my sweet-crunch  “Go Nuts” as garnish.  I’ve also been known to use a mix of squashes and vegetables (also cooked dried beans) with the soup and up the heat factor, as well.

While, according to an old Craig Claiborne book, you can steam unpeeled pieces of pumpkin and later peel and mash them, I’m by now definitely attached to opening a can.  As are many women.  And…
Pumpkin anything is pretty simple if you’re willing to used canned pumpkin.  I also adore butternut squash soup, but if you want to make butternut squash anything,  you have to peel and cook the rock-hard thing.  Which takes a lot of effort.  I buy a new peeler every year because the winter squash wreaks havoc with them.  Even Paula Deen gets one of her boys to peel her squash.   (My children don’t seem to be waiting in the wings to peel my squash.  Where are you?)   Your other option is to pay through the nose for already cut-up butternut squash.  I’m not doing that.   But pumpkin!  Well, that’s why God made Libby’s, right?  (Or go ahead and roast or microwave a whole one if you have to, but after trying it once,  you’ll head to the grocery store canned aisle.)  I seem to be on a pumpkin jag lately–both in this blog and in Dinner Place.    So!  Go ahead and make pumpkin soup.  Did I say it’s quick?  (Doubles or triples easily for a larger group.)

CURRIED PUMPKIN SOUP

serves 4  (or 6 small first course servings)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup each chopped onion and celery
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1-2 inch pieces (don’t peel)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (more if your curry powder is mild)
  • 1 quart (4 cups, 32 ounces) low sodium chicken broth or stock
  • 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream for garnish
  1. Heat olive oil in a 4-6 quart small stockpot over medium heat and add onions, celery, and carrots.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper and cook five minutes or so until somewhat softened.  Add parsley and garlic during last minute of cooking.
  2. Pour in chicken stock and stir in pumpkin and applesauce.  Add curry and ginger.  Stir well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir again.
  3. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer until the vegetables are quite tender.
  4. Puree using immersion blender in pot or pour soup into food processor or blender and puree in small batches.  Whichever method you choose, be quite careful; the soup is hot.  If using blender, hold down a doubled up dish towel over the lid to keep it tightly in place.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls, top with a sprig or two of parsley and drizzle  with a bit of heavy cream to create an attractive pattern.

*I keep a variety of small jars of curry powder, but like Penzey’s Maharajah curry powder as the spices are the ones I enjoy and the heat is moderate.  If you use a hotter powder, use a bit less.  If you use a milder one, you might want to add a few drops of hot sauce.  You can also make your own curry powder from ground tumeric, coriander, cumin, cardomom, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, etc.  Or you can read The Surly Vegetarian and get a great recipe for curry.

{printable recipe}

Two-Dog Kitchen and Life in the ‘Hood

Cooks just want to have fun:  Making pie crust cookies.

 

The last of Wendy’s heirloom tomatoes that ripened on the windowsill in my dining room for two weeks.

 

Under 5 minutes in the microwave:  great acorn squash.

 

Rustica Bakery, Minneapolis:  on BA’s list of ten best bakeries in the U.S.   Yep.

 

Rustica Bakery’s almond croissant.

 

Rustica Bakery:  a bit more elegant garnish, eh?  This is their latte.

 

58 years in the neighborhood, Troos comes to check Dave’s work on the vegetable garden.

 

Under the bushes he dug out, an old glass jar appears.

 

Appears to have been buried by Julie in 1965.  Troos doesn’t remember Julie.

 

One of the thousands of crazy, crazy squirrels in Tangletown this year.

 

This is a tiny bush with precious blooms in my south garden.

 

This chickadee cracks her seeds between her toes.

 

 

All cleaned up for Opus and Olives Sunday night downtown with 850 other Friends of the St. Paul Library supporters.

 

Lani and Jeanne after dinner having fun.

 It’s been a warm week.  Two days we even had the AC on to cook and sleep.  Weird October.
We have guests for dinner two nights coming up,a trip south with a friend to pick up a new puppy, Book Club here Tuesday, rehearsal on Wednesday and also Taize service in conjuction with Cabrini Catholic Church in Minneapolis.  Come worship@ 6:30 (Wed, 10/14) at Prospect Park United Methodist.  Take an hour bite out of your life to unplug, sit quietly, and reflect.  It’d do ya good.  Sounds like we’ll need it too.

Sing a new song of fall…leaves and pumpkins and wind and cooler temperatures,
Alyce

Pasta with Eggplant and Pancetta

Pasta with Eggplant and Pancetta

What’s in your frig?  Make pasta for a cool fall evening.  Pancetta helps.

We lived for four years in Dayton, Ohio.  How at home I felt there.  The flora and fauna welcomed me warmly (and coldly) as, indeed, the atmosphere felt just like northern Illinois where I grew up.  The summers were wilting (and our air conditioning never worked right) and the winters were damned cold.  Gray.  A long period of waiting for spring was how some approached it.  I felt differently.  I adore late fall; Thanksgiving is my favorite season.  I’m entranced with Advent and greet it positively every year, knowing my walk to the stable will be a new one.  Again.

But, in Ohio, summer seemed to disappear without a trace one wet day in October.  It happened in such a way that a week or two later, you wondered what had happened.  There were weeks of cool, sunny times and God’s great leaves flying.  Lovely Saturdays at the farm watching cider being pressed.  Nights on hayrides with bonfires later for hot dogs.  A morning you dug out the sweaters.  Any time, though, an 80 degree day could still pop up.  Really.  And then, one day on the way to work, you knew that day wasn’t appearing.  At all.  Anymore.  It had been raining for a week or two, getting colder all the time.  It just rained itself right into winter.  And gray it was.

We’re on the edge of that here.  Mostly the days are still perfect.  A light sweater or short jacket needed sometimes.  Flowers still in bloom—somewhat.  The yard is drooping mightily, though, and the window boxes have definitely seen better days.  I broke down and bought mums and pansies, but haven’t gotten them all out yet.  And, truthfully, taking care of the yard (and watering) is beginning to seem like yesterday’s diapers.  But today it’s rainy and there’s no sun.  At all.  Gabby still has her head hanging out by the window in case that German Shepherd or Black Lab has the nerve to walk by on the sidewalk.  But soon she gives up and puts her head down on the rug near my chair.  The other doggies are staying home more these days.

The oven can stay on for bread now.

What will I do with these?

Why does it have to rain, Mom?

Droop.

 A bunch of green tomatoes appeared on the back porch from the gardening neighbor.  We won’t have enough sun or heat to ripen them.   I go around turning lights on during the day.  Think of making a big pot of beef vegetable soup.  Planned activities are a girls’ night at Scusi and then out to a movie.  Not a picnic or outdoor concert or backyard cook-out.  This morning I ordered a long down coat and tall, warm boots.  I’m looking for a freezer so I can make Christmas cookies ahead for Drop in and Decorate.  We’re getting our floors redone before snow flies.  That’s what time it is.

 

Oh, we’re not at the point of storing the patio furniture.   Or of skipping Saturday breakfast on the porch.  But it’s coming.  And I’ve just woken up to it.  I still get up and put on capris and flip flops.  Sometimes I change.  Not always.

Last night, it was cold enough for a filling and warm dinner of whatever’s in frig for pasta.  I occasionally blog these instant meals (and lately I’m doing it often) because that’s how so many of us have to eat.  If we can even get THAT much cooked.  I have friends who are happy to have time to pull out cheese, apples, and crackers because that’s all there’s time or energy for.  But listen, 15-20 minutes will give you this admirable and filling meal.  You’ll be busy the whole time, but you can put on Vivaldi while you do it and you’ll definitely have time to set the table in a welcoming way.
 

Well maybe not quite like this, but why not set an attractive table?

 If you must (and who knows?), throw all of the vegetables in the food processor (except the tomatoes) and get it done even faster.  (Note:  I keep chopped pancetta on my freezer door all of the time.  There’s almost nothing it won’t do.  And, yes, a bit of American bacon will work.)

As this is more a method than a recipe, I write it in steps.  Read it through to understand the process and then make it yourself.  Boil the pasta, fry the pancetta (or bacon or ham), add vegetables, garlic and herbs, put it together and serve with cheese.  So there.  Maybe you need read no further.  But go on.

Pasta with Eggplant and Pancetta  serves 2  generously with a bit leftover for someone’s lunch

1.  Put a covered 10 quart stockpot 3/4 full of salted and peppered water on to boil. Sprinkle with a pinch of crushed red pepper and dried oregano.  Add  1/2 # whole wheat pasta when the water is boiling and cook about 10-11 minutes until al dente.  Drain and reserve.
2.  Meantime, in a large, deep skillet, brown about 1/4 cup of chopped pancetta or bacon.  When it’s crisp, remove it to a plate lined with paper towels.   Leave fat from pancetta in the pan.
3.  Into that same pan, add 1 large chopped onion, 1 large chopped carrot, 1 chopped medium yellow squash or zucchini, 1/2 cup chopped, peeled eggplant, 1/2 sliced or whole fresh spinach leaves,  and 1/2 cup chopped red or yellow pepper.  Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste) and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.  Vegetables can be changed to suit what’s in your crisper.  I do think you need onions, garlic, something for bulk like squash or eggplant, and fresh herbs of some sort.
4.  Cook vegetables until they’re softened and add 3 cloves garlic, minced.  Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add 2 chopped ripe tomatoes (or a cup of cherry tomatoes) and 1/4 cup chopped parsley and/or basil.  Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon dried oregano and 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper.  Return pancetta to the pan and stir well. 
5. Add drained pasta to skillet.  Mix and toss well, using tongs, and taste for seasoning.
6. Serve in pasta bowls with grated  Parmesan or Romano cheese at the table.

Wine:  We had a little Barbera leftover from burgers on the grill, so we drank that.  A big Chardonnay would work, as would Zinfandel or even a Cabernet Sauvignon.  While we think of big reds as the province of big meats, they stand up and support a hearty, vegetable-filled pasta–especially if it’s topped with a strong cheese like Parmesan or flavored with a warm, deep meat like pancetta.

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood

The singing fellowship:

Choir came to lunch Saturday.  Chicken chili, sangria, brownies.

Good bud Kim all but moved in to the kitchen to keep things going.  Love you, Kim!

Nope, we didn’t sing.  Just visited and ate.  Rested our pipes.

Fall–Time for Grooming.   Didn’t much like it.  But they looked good for the choir.

Exhausted after their baths and trims.  What did we have to do that for? And what’s with the bandanas?

 My life is currently full of playing catch-up at work.  Reading all the fall lectionary texts so I can choose appropriate music.  Off and on for a couple of weeks, the dining room table is full of music, bibles, notes, computer, etc.  I run back and forth trying to familiarize myself with the music library at church.  What’s there?  What’s possible to learn (and do well) with only two rehearsals?  Listening to anthems online. Listening to the choir.  Attending one lectionary study at Cabrini Catholic church  and one Bible Study with the neighborhood women.  Praying for a co-worker, who had to undergo emergency surgery.  Looking at a choir retreat in November.  Dreaming of the cantata much later than I typically do.  And I’m sooo excited and…

 I’m so busy …  Being grateful, grateful, grateful for the opportunity.  Thanks, God.

Sing a new song,
Alyce