Archive for the Category ◊ Pasta ◊

28 Sep 2010 Chinese Pasta Salad

Chinese Pasta Salad?  Is there such a thing?  I doubt it.  So what is this?!  I don’t know what else to call it! Chinese Pasta Salad is the name it came to me with and I welcome all suggestions for a new name 🙂 This cold pasta side dish is good.  Very good.  I made it for a potluck last night, and three people asked me to post the recipe.  Always glad to oblige! Cold noodles, in a sauce of sesame oil, maple syrup (Chinese?  I think not!), and soy sauce with chopped dry roasted peanuts (again, Chinese?  I think not), green onion and cilantro. I wouldn’t have made this if I hadn’t tried it first.  Believe me, with this dish, the whole is better than the sum of it’s parts!

An old coworker of mine, Mary Lou Stuart, brought this to an HR potluck at LifeScan on Tuesday, September 20, 2005.  I know the date because I still have the email with the recipe (and that horrible name).

I changed the method a bit, just to make it easier, but other than that, I made no changes. Please forgive me for mixing up my cultures and photographing this Chinese Noodle Salad (which isn’t) on a Japanese cloth.  Also, the cilantro looks a little old, in the picture, doesn’t it?  It is.  I forgot to take a picture the day I served this. This is a picture of what was left in the refrigerator container because it wouldn’t fit into the serving container.  So that cilantro has been sitting in the dressing for three days.  Yours will look much better. The world is out of alignment today.

Chinese Pasta Salad (not..)

1 lb. angel hair pasta, cooked and drained
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (Grade B, if you can find it)
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce (I have also used teriyaki)
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 bunch chopped green onions (6-8)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dry roasted peanuts.

Blend the maple syrup, sesame oil, and soy sauce in the blender.  Pour over cooked and drained noodles.  Add in chopped cilantro and green onions. Refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving stir in the chopped dry roasted peanuts.

Mary Lou said she sometimes adds about 2 cups of chopped cooked chicken to the salad (she uses a cooked rotisserie chicken).  I’ve done this once or twice (with a chicken breast poached in a bit of soy sauce and water/broth), but actually prefer this salad without the chicken.  Plus, it’s always nice to have something on the table for the vegetarians and vegans in the group.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  If you know Mary Lou Stuart, please forward this message to her. I have lost track of her.  If she is uneasy with her name being on this post, I will use a pseudonym.

24 Sep 2010 Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Who eats jarred spaghetti sauce?  I hope no one.  I don’t. Not ever.  Well, I’ve had a spoonful here and there, so I do know how bad it is.  Too much vinegar.  I like wine, tomatoes, onions, fresh mushrooms and fresh meat in my spaghetti sauce.  I’ve never used a recipe.  I learned from watching my Dad, who learned from watching the Galloping Gourmet (I think he also got permission to drink during the day from the Galloping Gourmet, but that’s a whole other story.)

My daughter, Abby, has asked me to write down my “recipe” for Spaghetti Sauce.  I put the word recipe in quotes because when I make spaghetti sauce, I just go for it.  It’s never really the same twice, but it always works out  (I’m not Italian, so I make no claims to an authentic Italian sauce).   Last week, when I made a big batch of spaghetti sauce, I carefully wrote down what I did so Abby can make her own spaghetti sauce while she is away at college.

If you haven’t made spaghetti sauce before, perhaps this “recipe” can be your starting point. Use this as a guide to add and subtract ingredients to suit your tastes. Over the years the amount of meat in my sauce has decreased.  I’d like to cut it my 1/3 more, but my son would get upset.  We all like mushrooms, so I use a good amount.  I don’t like green or red peppers, so I leave them out completely.  One thing I wouldn’t change is the “Super Six”, the must-haves for seasoning spaghetti sauce:  sautéed onions, garlic, celery, parsley, basil and oregano.

After the sauce is made, I let is sit overnight and then we usually have it for dinner. And, if I give in to the pleading of my older daughter, I’ll make a tray of lasagna, too, and then we’ll eat that for the next few days.  The remaining sauce I freeze in 3 or 4 cup batches.  This recipe will makes 10-12 cups of sauce.

I hope you never buy jarred sauce again.  Nasty stuff.  Too many preservatives.  Not enough flavor. This is so much better, so much better.

My Mom Polly’s Spaghetti Sauce

Olive oil, as needed for sauteing
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cups diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup minced parsley
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes (recently I have use the “Muir Glen” brand, but for years I used whatever was on sale at the grocery store.  If you have them, use blanched, chopped tomatoes from your garden.  If you don’t like  chunky spaghetti sauce, then substitute the same amount of tomato sauce.)
2 16-oz cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt (add more later if needed)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 ½ lbs to 2 lbs of ground beef (or a mixture of your choice of ground beef, sausage, pork, veal.  Use at least 50% ground beef.  I have used ground turkey before, and don’t recommend it. I found the flavor to be too mild for this robust sauce)
1 lb sliced mushrooms
2 cups red wine (any robust red wine), optional, of course

Heat about 2 T. olive oil in a large skillet.  Stir in chopped onions and sauté for 6-8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and starting to caramelize. Stir in chopped celery and sauté for another 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and parsley and sauté for another minute.  Do not let the garlic brown or burn.  Pour mixture into a large stock pot, and turn on heat to medium.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, basil, oregano, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 30 -60 minutes, stirring occasionally (the longer the simmer, the richer the sauce). Meanwhile, in the skillet, add another tablespoon or two of olive oil and sauté the sliced mushrooms.  Add the mushrooms to the tomato sauce after the sauce has simmered at least 30 minutes.  In the same skillet that browned the onions and the mushrooms, add the ground meat.  Brown the meat, and then drain the fat off (to drain put the cooked meat in a colander over a bowl).  Stir drained, cooked meat into the tomato sauce, along with 2 cups of red wine, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  Taste, and more salt, pepper and brown sugar if needed. Serve immediately over hot noodles and topped with grated Parmesan cheese, or let cool, refrigerate, and chill overnight. Warm up only as much sauce as needed for your next meal.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, I always like it when you stop by!  Leave a comment and say HI!

18 Sep 2010 Meatball Beef Stroganoff

Ex-husbands can be real %#$!!s. At least mine can.  After he let loose, and then hung up on me, I decided to go for a pedicure.  Unfortunately my nail salon is not known for having the most recent magazines with the biggest pictures, so I stopped on the way to treat myself to a glossy dose of gossip.  Wouldn’t you know I would walk by the cookbook section on the way to the magazines?  And there, on the discount table, jumping up and down was The Meatball Cookbook Bible, with a price LESS than that of most magazines.  What was I to do? I walked out with the 512 page cookbook.  (It was on sale for $4.99!)  My day was looking up!

The nail ladies seemed a bit befuddled by my reading material. I think they discussed it between themselves in Vietnamese.  You’d think I was the only person EVER to read a $4.99 Meatball Bible while getting a pedicure…

The Meatball Bible has turned out to be well worth the $4.99 investment.  I’ve made five recipes so far, and all five have been winners.  How often does that happen?   Now let’s get to the disclaimers. I am not talking gourmet cuisine here.  Each recipe is based on some sort of ground meat, noodles, and pantry staples.  The pantry staples, meat, spices and extras are well chosen and harmonious. These recipes work and the results are family-friendly, comfort food and there’s nothing wrong with that, is there? There’s a lot good with that, actually.  A lot of good.

Note….I am on leftovers now.  I have plenty of meatballs and noodles, but I am out of sauce.  Next time, I’ll make more sauce.  Upping the sauce by 50% would probably be perfect.

Meatball Beef Stroganoff

1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk (whole milk, preferred)
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, very finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 lbs ground beef (80% lean)

salt and pepper to taste
Pam, or some other sort of vegetable oil spray
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 – 1 lb sliced mushrooms (optional)
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock, heated in microwave to very hot

2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup sour cream (not non-fat)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

To serve:  1 lb. broad curly egg noodles, cooked according to package directions (or any other pasta)

Combine egg and milk in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk until smooth.  Add in breadcrumbs.  Mix well. Set aside to soak.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute for 3-5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.  Sir in garlic and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.

Add half of the onion mixture, and the ground beef to the breadcrumb mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Blend meatball mixture together by tossing gently.  Do not compress mixture, toss.  Form meat mixture into approx. 2 inch meatballs.  Roll balls lightly between palms.  Place formed meatballs on a foil covered, rimmed baking sheet.  (If desired, meat mixture or meatballs can be refrigerated for a few hours or overnight–be sure to remove remaining onion mixture from the pan and refrigerate that, too.)

Preheat broiler.  Spray meatballs with vegetable oil (Pam, or something similar). Broil meatballs for approx 6 minutes.  Shake pan, or turn meatballs half way through the cooking time.  While meatballs are browning, finish the sauce.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to frying pan with onions.  Turn on heat to melt butter. If desired, add some sliced mushrooms to the onion mixture and saute for 3 minutes.    Sprinkle flour over onion-mushroom mixture.  Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 3 minutes.  Turn heat off.

Working quickly, add hot beef broth to mixture in frying pan in 3 additions:  add approx 3/4 cup stock, stir until sauce is smooth, then add another 3/4 cup and stir until smooth, then finish with remaining stock, stirring until smooth.

Turn heat back on under the frying pan.  Whisk in the tomato paste and mustard.  Bring mixture to a simmer and simmer for 3 minutes. Taste sauce.  Add salt and pepper, if needed. Add hot meatballs to simmering sauce.  Continue to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Turn off heat, stir in sour cream and sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Heat sauce, but do not bring sauce back to boil, or the sour cream with curdle.

Serve sauce and meatballs over drained hot noodles. Makes four yummy, family friendly servings.

BTW  I haven’t tested this, but the book says that this dish can be made up one to two days ahead and then reheated in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, which makes this a great dish to make for the mom with a new baby (and a toddler or two), or the lady down the block with the right broken ankle (right ankle, can’t drive), doesn’t it?

Enjoy supper with your family tonight. There should be smiles all around.

11 Sep 2010 Zucchini Pasta

I have debated back and forth about posting this recipe…  Pros: it uses up zucchini, which is very important this time of year.  The pasta recipe is good.  Simple, straightforward. Good.  Cons: It’s not GREAT; it’s good, but it’s lacking Emeril’s “Bam”!  I made this for the first time at my friend’s beach house this summer.  We all liked it, but we all thought it needed something else.  Garlic?  Shallots?  Lemon Peel?  Egg yolk?  Not sure…

When we returned from the beach my friend kept asking for the recipe and I kept thinking about making it again.  So it had to have something, right?  I sent my friend the recipe (I had no intention of posting it), and I made it again.  The results were the same.  The pasta was good, not great, but…

…for the last two nights I have had leftover homemade pizza, leftover beef rice bowl, and leftover ribs in the refrigerator, along with the leftover Zucchini Pasta.  Two nights in a row I’ve chosen leftover Zucchini Pasta over all my other choices.  So this dish has to have something, right?  Maybe it’s just comfort food.  End of the summer comfort food.  Yes, that must be it.

This recipe is from a Pasta Cookbook I received as a birthday present and took to the beach to read. (I read cookbooks like novels. Who’s with me on that?) The cookbook is called “Homestyle Pasta” by Bay Books (I don’t think that’s a person and I couldn’t find a link!!)  I’ve changed the recipe a bit, but only to reduce the amount of pasta.  The original recipe called for 1 lb. of pasta.  That’s too much pasta, and not enough zucchini and cheese.

Did I mention how easy this is to make?  While the pasta boils, stir up the zucchini…

Did I mention that my two year old grandson can’t stuff this into his mouth fast enough?

Zucchini Pasta

1/2 lb. fettuccine (the original recipe called for 1 lb of pasta)
1/4 cup salted butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lb. zucchini (about 3 medium), grated
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the fettuccine in boiling salted water per package directions. Drain pasta and keep warm.  Melt butter in a large frying pan, saute the garlic for one or two minutes.  Stir in grated zucchini and saute until zucchini is soft, about 3 minutes.  Stir in drained noodles and grated cheese. Toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Good. Fast. Easy. End of the summer comfort food.  And you now have three less zucchini.  HEY! You could attach this recipe to the zucchini you drop off on your neighbor’s porch after dark tonight!

Enjoy these last days of summer.  Enjoy your harvest 🙂

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

29 Aug 2010 Fresh Tomato Lasagna

Every morning, every good, calm morning, I browse the food blogs.  Most mornings I print off a few recipes.  The recipes then sit around for awhile and I revisit them from time to time.  Eventually, I do try some of the recipes.  Very few of the recipes I repost “as is”.  Some recipes show promise and I work with them for a bit (I have been working on a recipe for Orange Creamsicle Cookies for a few months now).  I probably post (or plan to post) about 50% of the recipes I test.

This morning I found this recipe.  This afternoon I printed it off, picked two pounds of tomatoes from my garden, and went to the store for some fresh mozzarella.  This evening I made the recipe (since our temperatures have finally dropped about 25 degrees in the last two days, I was OK with turning on the oven for 45 minutes).  This lasagna was creamy, cheesy and fresh tasting,  lighter than regular lasagna, but still rich.  Since there are so few ingredients in this lasagna that, if you decide to make it, be sure your tomatoes are the BEST and your olive oil is the best you can get.  Although this pan of lasagna looks very small,  it would certainly serve four people.

The original recipe can be found at SortaChef, One Hot Cat in a Woodfired Kitchen.  I changed the Bechamel Sauce to more closely resemble one I have made many times before and really like the flavor of (adding nutmeg, allspice and Parmesan cheese).  I also added some chopped fresh basil (thanks to a suggestion from my friend, Jeanne) and oregano, and changed the method a bit.

Fresh Tomato Lasagna

2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes (don’t use tomatoes purchased at the supermarket)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, preferably buffalo, sliced thinly or shredded
4 Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles
3-5 cups water at 150º (use half hot tap water and half boiling water)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
4 teaspoons chopped fresh basil (more or less to taste)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (more or less to taste)
approx. ¾ teaspoon salt

For the Béchamel Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk (I used 1%, but whole milk is traditionally used)
¾ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon finely ground pepper (or more to taste)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
dash of allspice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375º.

Pour 3-5 cups very hot water (about 150 degrees) into a loaf pan or casserole dish and slip the no-boil noodles in one at a time. Let noodles soak for 15 minutes.

Make the Béchamel sauce. Heat milk in microwave for one minute. Melt butter in a quart-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is barely melted whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Turn off heat. Whisk in one third of milk and incorporate thoroughly before adding the next third.  Be sure the sauce is smooth before you add more milk. Once you have successfully added all the milk and the sauce is hot and smooth, add in the salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice. Whisk in the egg.  Turn heat back onto medium and cook sauce for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover tightly with a lid and set aside until ready to use.

Slice 8 ounces of Buffalo mozzarella (or other fresh mozzarella) into ¼ inch pieces. Slice the tops and bottoms off of the tomatoes and discard or reserve for another use. Cut the rest of each tomato into ¼ inch rounds. Coarsely chop the basil and oregano.

In glass loaf pan build the lasagna in this order:

  • A layer of uncooked tomato slices, pack as many in there as you can.  Drizzle with your finest olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 t. salt, 1 t. basil and 1/2 t. oregano.
  • 1 lasagna noodle
  • ¼ of the mozzarella
  • ¼ of béchamel sauce spread evenly to all edges of the pan
  • Continue the sequence with remaining noodles and filling, finishing with a layer of tomato slices drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, basil and oregano.

Bake at 375º for 40-45 minutes, until béchamel has puffed up and the edges are bubbling.

Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen, and my garden, today!

10 Jul 2010 45 Minute Pasta with Turkey Sausage

I think this is the fifth pasta recipe in my teaching-19-year-olds-how-to-cook series. We’ll have to move onto another type of food shortly.  In defense of pasta though, it  reheats really well; so one batch could feed a college student for 3 or 4 days. Pasta is almost a universally liked food, so the roommates, friends, study groups (wishful thinking…) will like it too.  It’s not too expensive.  It’s relatively easy and foolproof and most substitutions usually work out fine.  Yep, pasta is a good starting point for a new cook!  If they know how to cook five or six good pasta dishes, they should be set right? So far we’ve done one veggie, one chicken, one cheese, one beef, this sausage one…

I’ve been making this pasta dish for a number of years. I think I found the original recipe on Epicurious.com. The original recipe had some cannelloni beans in it, but the kids just picked them out so I no longer add them (but I am leaving them in the recipe in case they grow up and decide beans are a good thing to eat). I was thinking that a few mushrooms in place of the beans might be a good idea so maybe next time I will try that.  If you don’t have a shallot, just leave it out.  I don’t expect college kids to have shallots on hand in their apartments, but maybe they will surprise me.

The real problem with this recipe, for 19 year olds in California, is that it calls for 1 cup of red wine. OOOPS.  We made it with the red wine yesterday, but when they are out on their own I have advised them to use chicken broth (not that I have tested that). Ohdearrrrr…, my recipe is contributing to the delinquency of my minors!

ANYWAY, as written below this is a really GOOD 45 minute refrigerator-to-table recipe. It’s good enough for company. I’ve served it more than once to guests, and some of those guests have gone home with the recipe. Serve with a salad, some bread (easy, Easy, EASY if you have any of those Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbooks), and dessert (of course!).

45 minute Pasta with Turkey Sausage

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot chopped (if you have it)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 lb Italian Sausage (or Turkey Italian-style Sausage), casings removed
1 cup of red wine (or any kind of broth–or even water)
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 lb. Penne Rigate Pasta (thin tubes, although bow ties, elbows or any other pasta shape would work, too)
1 can Cannelloni beans (optional, or substitute 1 cup sliced mushrooms–add after onion is sauteed)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or 1 tablespoon dried)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet until hot. Add in chopped shallot (if using) and onion. Saute until limp (clear looking). If using stir in one cup of sliced mushrooms and saute for 3 minutes. Add in sausage, or turkey sausage (be sure to remove the casings first). With a wooden spoon or spatula (or even kitchen scissors), break up large hunks of sausage into small bite-sized pieces. When most of the redness of the sausage has gone, stir in 1 cup of red wine, broth, or water. Increase heat to high and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes. During this time, make the salad or the veggies and cook the pasta. To cook the pasta bring salted water to a boil, add pasta, and cook for the time instructed on the package. Drain pasta when done, reserving about a cup of the pasta water. When sauce has simmered for 30 minutes, stir in drained pasta and drained cannelloni beans (if using), grated cheese, and chopped (or dried) basil and simmer for 3 minutes. IF the sauce seems too thick, stir in some of the reserved pasta water. You want the pasta to be perfectly coated and a little bit saucy (your personal preference will dictate how much pasta water to add, if any). Serve immediately, pass more Parmesan cheese at the table, if desired (I always desire!).

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today,