Fresh Tomato Sauce Using My Food Mill

Fresh Tomato Sauce Using My Food Mill

I love the taste of pasta tossed with fresh tomato sauce. It’s one of those guilty pleasures in life worth the time and effort. Even though it’s not exactly fresh tomato season, you may want to save this article for a day this summer when you are wondering what to do with that bushel of ripening tomatoes. The beauty of tomato sauce is you can use bruised and even slightly over ripened tomatoes.

If you use several varieties of tomatoes your sauce will have a richer flavor. Another way to add flavor depth is to roast some or all of your tomatoes first. I sometimes opt to roast cherry tomatoes before adding them. They take far less time to roast.

One question I get asked a lot is whether I go to the trouble of peeling all the tomatoes before I cook with them. The answer is no. That’s because I use a food mill which removes all the peelings for me!

Ingredients

10-15 pounds fresh tomatoes
fresh basil
salt
pepper
crushed red pepper (optional)
sugar (optional, helps cut the acid)

Directions

Chop tomatoes into large chunks and add to large stock pot.

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Cook down on medium heat for 45-60 minutes. This time will vary depending upon how much water is in your tomatoes and how thick you like your sauce.

In batches, run cooked tomatoes through a food mill to remove all skins and seeds.

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Add seasoning (whatever you prefer) and simmer 10-15 minutes longer.

 

fresh tomato sauce with basilCook pasta in salted water to desired doneness. I prefer some bite to my pasta.

Toss hot pasta with sauce. Taste and season as needed. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

brad nierenberg rigatoni recipe

Less is more when it comes to fresh tomato sauce. But that’s just my opinion! If you’ve never used a food mill, they work great for sauces and soups. And, if you are ambidextrous, it counts as an arm workout too!

What’s your favorite way to prepare tomato sauce?

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Pasta with Cauliflower – Not Very Colorful – But Very Satisfying!

Pasta with Cauliflower – Not Very Colorful – But Very Satisfying!

My friends and family know how much I love to prepare pasta. I learned while in Italy that you can use nearly anything to flavor pasta so I frequently raid the fridge or pantry to come up with something new to me. My latest pasta adventure featured cauliflower.

Ingredients
1 head fresh cauliflower
1 pound pasta (any shape you like)
Olive oil
1 cube chicken boullion
3-5 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-2 cups breadcrumbs
Salt, pepper
Grated parmesan cheese

Directions

Break up cauliflower into florets and blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Drain – but keep the cauliflower water and cook your pasta to al dente in it.

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In a large, flat pan over medium heat sauté garlic, chicken bouillon cube, and red pepper flakes in a splash of olive oil. Do not burn the garlic. Break the chicken cube up with your utensil.

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Toss drained cauliflower into pan with garlic and pepper mixture. You may need to add another small splash of olive oil.

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When the pasta is ready and the cauliflower is cooked, but still firm to the bite (5-6 minutes), toss the pasta in with the cauliflower. Add some of the pasta water to moisten. While pasta is finishing up, mix some olive oil into 1-2 cups of breadcrumbs and sauté until light golden in color.

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In a large serving bowl right before you are ready to serve, mix the toasted breadcrumbs in with the pasta/cauliflower combination. Top with parmesan cheese and season to taste.

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The cauliflower really works with the pasta. It is a little too white in color. I think next time I will try this with orange, green, or purple cauliflower to add some interest.

That’s all there is to it! Quick dinner, kind of healthy, and delicious!

If you have a favorite way to serve cauliflower, please let me know. This is the season it tastes best and I am always looking for new ways to serve it up.

Roasted Tomato and Bacon Pasta

Roasted Tomato and Bacon Pasta

I learned a few things about pasta when in Italy. First, the pasta is the star so don’t drown it. Second, never overcook it. Third, salt the water well. Fourth, finish it off in the pan with your toppings. Fifth, you can make a pasta dish out of just about anything. I even had penne tossed with fresh strawberries, olive oil, and parmesan cheese served to me once. For the record, it was delicious!

When faced with a crap load of fresh tomatoes, I’ve had to find multiple ways to use them up. One can only slice and eat so many tomato sandwiches! Since I love BLTs, I decided to try something similar as a pasta dish. Like I said, you can mix just about anything with pasta! Sorry there are no measurements. This is one of those thrown together deals!

Ingredients
Fresh tomatoes, sliced
Garlic cloves, sliced
Olive oil
Salt
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh basil, chiffonade cut
Pasta, I used cavatappi, but any shape would work. FYI: My favorite brand of pasta is DeCecco!
Bacon

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees

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Layer sliced tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast to desired doneness. I roasted this batch for about an hour. The longer they roast, the sweeter they get.

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Cook bacon until crispy and drain well. Crumble.

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Prepare your pasta. Cut the fresh basil into thin slices (chiffonade).
Toss hot pasta, more olive oil, salt, pepper, roasted tomatoes, and bacon together. Serve warm with parmesan cheese. And of course, hot pasta is always delicious with warm home baked bread!

Buon appetito!

Japchae – You’ll Wish Every Day Was Your Birthday!

Japchae – You’ll Wish Every Day Was Your Birthday!

Mind-blowing is not really the right word. I wonder if “palette epiphany” is a phrase? I hope so because I had a palette epiphany a couple of weeks ago during a potluck lunch celebrating a friend’s birthday. Pot“luck” is an apropos name for such an occasion because as luck would have it, a Korean neighbor introduced me to Japchae.

Japchae is traditionally served in Korea during a birthday celebration I was told. I think I could eat it every day, “un”birthdays included! Twice since that fateful day, I’ve prepared my own versions, once with beef and the second time with turkey breast. My neighbor served a vegetarian Japchae which was “lick your plate” delicious. I will need a lot more practice to perfect the timing and flavoring. But if I say so myself, they were not too bad for first-time attempts.

Unfortunately I do not have an “after” photo of the beef version. To be perfectly honest, I was so excited to try it, the bowl disappeared before I remembered to shoot a picture.

Ingredients – Serves 4

Dangmyeon (sweet potato starch noodles)
Beef, chicken, pork, or turkey (optional)
Shiitake mushrooms (soaked in warm water)
Garlic, minced
Sugar
Soy sauce (Korean if available)
Sesame oil
Toasted sesame seeds
Egg
Spinach
Green onions
White onion
Button mushrooms
Carrot (matchsticks)
Red bell pepper
Black pepper
Salt
Vegetable oil

Directions

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Slice into small bite-sized strips the meat and shiitake mushrooms. Place in a bowl. Marinate with 1 clove minced garlic, 1 tsp. sugar, 4-5 grinds black pepper, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil. Mix and place in fridge until ready.

Prepare the rest of your veggies as you would for any stir fry. Keep them separate from one another. They are all stir fried separately. I was lazy and bought a bag of carrot match sticks. Clean and slice mushrooms. Clean and cut bell pepper into matchsticks. Half a small white or yellow onion and then cut into thin slices. Clean and cut green onion into 1-inch sections.

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Separate egg yolk and save the white to use another day. Add a pinch of salt to yellow and stir in to break yolk. Heat nonstick frying pan. Turn off heat and add egg yellow. Roll in pan to thin it out. After the heat of the pan cooks it on one side, flip to cook other side. Takes about a minute per side. This egg garnish is called jidan. Let it cool and cut into very thin strips.

Blanch about 4 ounces of fresh spinach in pot of boiling water (a minute of less). I used bagged spinach so did not rinse it first. If you use un-bagged, then rinse it well before blanching. Run under cold water to stop the cooking. Squeeze out the water and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place in large bowl. Add 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil and mix well. Set aside.

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Use the spinach water and boil 4-6 ounces of noodles for about 8 minutes. Strain and rinse. They are super long so use a pair of scissors and cut them into shorter lengths. Not bite-sized, but long strands like boxed spaghetti length. Add them to the large bowl and season with 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar. Mix well. Set aside.

Time to stir fry! Heat your non-stick frying pan (or wok) to medium high. Add some vegetable oil. Judge your own cook times. The first time I made this I over-cooked some of the veggies.

Start with the onion and green onion. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 2 minutes or until translucent. Add to the noodle bowl. Set aside.

Reheat the pan, add more vegetable oil, and stir fry mushrooms for 2 minutes. Add to noodle bowl.

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Reheat pan. Add more oil. Stir fry carrots for 20 seconds. Add bell pepper to the same pan and cook 20 more seconds. Transfer to noodle bowl.

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Reheat pan with oil. Stir fry the meat and mushroom mixture you marinated until meat is no longer pink. Transfer to the noodle bowl.

You are almost finished! Grab your noodle bowl and add another minced clove of garlic, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, 1 Tablespoon sugar, ground black pepper to taste, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds. Mix everything together. Sprinkle more sesame seeds on top to finish.

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I’m not sure what the Korean phrase for “dig in” is, but if I did, I would add it here! I’d love to hear from anyone who tried making this or has their own version to share! Leave comments below!

Linguine with Meatballs – A Pre-race Feast

Linguine with Meatballs – A Pre-race Feast

Have you ever carbo-loaded the night before a long run? It’s a common tradition with a few of my friends. They recently took advantage of my enjoyment of cooking and requested pasta the night before their half marathon. The simple feast did not disappoint! The menu included linguine with meatballs and my first-ever attempt at focaccia.

First Was Batch Not a Total Success

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Okay, so the focaccia was a little on the crispy side, but practice makes perfect! Since I had never made it before, I found a recipe online that looked simple and tasty. Though it was flavorful, the too crispy outcome came, I believe, from my spreading the dough out too thin on the 9×13 baking sheet. Next time I will only use half the sheet. The only other alternation to the attached recipe is that rather than knead by hand, I used the dough hook on my stand mixer. I should have tried it by hand for a more tender result. Lessons learned and I will correct in the future.

Perfect Pasta and Meatballs

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Truth be told, I prefer my pasta dishes to most others. I’m a bit picky about the doneness of pasta. It’s a culinary skill to get it to the perfect bite. Most restaurants in my experience overcook it in the kitchen so that by the time it is plated and served, it’s overdone. But enough soap-boxing! Here is how I made my big tender meatballs and accompanying sauce! The meatballs are adopted from The Meatball Shop Cookbook and they are delicious. The ricotta cheese is a much better choice than Parmesan or Romano I think.

Ingredients
Meatballs:
olive oil
3 pounds mixture of ground beef, veal, pork (meatloaf mixture)
1 container (14-16 oz) ricotta cheese
2 eggs
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons dried
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1/2-3/4 teaspoons ground fennel

Sauce:
3 boxes Pomi or 3 large cans tomatoes
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1 large diced onion
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup or so red wine
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

I mix meatballs in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Form into golf ball size or preferred size balls. Drizzle olive oil and spread out over 9×13 cookie sheet. Place meatballs on sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes. (Turn over at 10 minutes.) They will finish cooking in the sauce.

In the meantime, saute the onion and garlic in a small amount of olive oil in a deep pot. Add the remaining ingredients and slowly cook for 20-30 minutes. Taste for flavor and adjust as needed.

Gently place meatballs in the pot of sauce and continue to simmer slowly until you are ready to serve.

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Cook pasta of your choice al dente. Drain pasta water (retaining a cup which you may want to add to your sauce to improve its flavor and consistency.) Return the drained pasta to the pot and ladle a few spoons of sauce to mix in with the pasta. Serve from a large shallow bowl or platter with meatballs on top.

My runner friends were content and energized for their run the next morning! I was worn out just thinking about all that early morning exercise!

If you want a pasta dish that’s a bit lighter and easier to throw together, try my bacon and roasted tomato recipe!

Buon appetito!

Cookbook Recommendations by Brad Nierenberg

Cookbook Recommendations by Brad Nierenberg

Every so often I like to curl up with a good book and a glass of single malt. This weekend, the books were from my overloaded stack of beloved cookbooks. I know I typically share a favorite recipe each week, but today I’m sharing a few old friends! I hope you will be inspired to share a bit about your favorite sources for recipes as well!

Mr. Food Cooks Pasta
Art Ginsburg
Copyright 1993 by Cogin, Inc.

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I picked up my copy of “Mr. Food Cooks Pasta” back before Borders went out of business. It was tucked away on one of those bargain shelves. It’s been one of my go-to sources ever since. The writing style is easy to read and conversational. And though this little black and white book lacks any pretty photos, I still find myself using it on a regular basis.

Mr. Food, Art Ginsburg, provides a guide for pasta shapes, includes a simple chart for sauces and uses for each shape, and the opening chapter on pasta “particulars” includes a brief history and cooking instructions. Next, one of the best sections, is a quick pasta recipe chart for “meals in minutes.” The follow-on segments include pasta appetizers and side dishes, pasta soups and stews, pasta salads, pasta main courses, family favorites, and pasta sauces.

Since I love to cook and eat pasta, it’s great to have this guide to an easy and delicious meal! I think I’ve made almost every recipe in the book at least once. Many of the dog-eared corners are turned down to save the ones I like best.

Ginsburg is not Italian to my knowledge, but no matter, whether lemon linguine or chicorina soup, this cookbook is a winner in my book.

Barefoot Contessa at Home
Ina Garten
Copyright 2006 by Ina Garten

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Quentin Bacon’s photography in Ina Garten’s fifth cookbook is true food porn! After the cook’s lengthy introduction (and to be honest, I’ve never read it) she leads right into chapters entitled soup and sandwich, salads, dinner, vegetables, dessert, and breakfast.

She includes a nice section of small places to visit in the Hamptons for food. These are places she mentions on her cooking show and would be fun to add to your traveling itinerary if vacationing in the area. The last section called menus takes all the recipes from the cookbook and puts them together into menus you can try at home. I think this is brilliant!

I have not come close to recreating all the yummy recipes in this extensive cookbook, but the ones I’ve made do not disappoint. Her Sunday Morning Oatmeal is a regular in my rotation and I have zero desire to ever try another recipe for coconut cake after falling in love with hers. Where I think she really shines though is in the dinner section. From cornish hens to Asian salmon, there are several delicious and doable recipes in this section.

Holiday Cookies
Martha Stewart
2006 Issue

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Okay, so Martha Stewart’s annual holiday cookie magazine is not exactly a traditional cookbook, but if you could see the tattered pages you would know I use it often. It’s really the perfect cookie guide!

This 2006 version includes more than 100 cookie recipes and the breakdown is spot-on (as my British friends would say). The table of contents features a photo of each cookie and they are categorized as soft and chewy, crisp and crunchy, light and delicate, crumbly and sandy, cakey and tender, rich and dense, and finally, chunky and nutty. Likewise, the recipe index in the very back is alphabetized by cookie with a picture of each one for easy reference.

I wish I had the time (and calorie allowance) to make and test each and every cookie, but rest assure I have given it the old college try! It’s great to have one consolidated source to find a recipes for chocolate chip cookies identified as crisp, chewy, or cakey. After all, some days you prefer one type to another!

If you don’t own your own copy to savor, keep an eye out for this magazine next fall. A complete cookie guide is a must-have for every home baker!

What are your favorite cookbooks? I hope you’ll share the titles below!

“Fall”ing in Love Again with Kale

sausage-kale-fettucineIt’s Fall again, and that means no one will question why you want to incorporate kale or pumpkin into every plate. Sometimes both! I’d personally start with kale, because there will be plenty of time in November for pumpkin pies, lattes, quesadillas (no, really!), cake, and anything else you can sneak pumpkin into. But kale is one of best ways I know of to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall. It is the perfect accompaniment to pastas, soups, and stews.

In this seriously simple recipe http://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipe/fettuccine-with-sausage-kale/, Rachel Ray serves up Fettuccine with Sausage and Kale for four people.

All you’ll need are: ­

1 lb fettuccine
1 lb spicy Italian sausage, removed from the casings
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1 large bunch kale, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan

When making this, I added an extra half ­pound of sausage (sweet Italian), but that’s a personal preference. Also, try boiling the fettuccine in vegetable or chicken stock, rather than water, for additional flavor.

TIP: I always buy DeCecco pasta. It is not much more expensive than other brands, but IMO it is a much better product. I am friends with a few Italians and this is the brand they use. Who am I to argue with a native?!?!

As you can imagine, the directions for this are simple. I modified them a bit to reflect my own preferences.

1. Bring stock (or salted water) to rolling boil. (Always salt your water after it starts to boil. That way it comes to a boil faster.)

2. Cook pasta until the noodles are slightly under-cooked. Seriously, there is nothing more disgusting than over-cooked pasta. Save a couple ladles of the pasta water before you drain your noodles.

3. Drain.

4. While preparing pasta, saute sausage on medium­ low until browned. Break it up as you go. Make sure you pan is large enough since you will soon be dumping your cooked pasta in there too.

5.  Add 1/2 cup of pasta water and the heavy cream.

6. Simmer until reduced to a consistency you like.

7. Add kale; stir until wilted. This won’t be very long.

8. Add your pasta and simmer for a few moments longer. This way your pasta (the real star of any pasta dish) soaks up all that good flavor. Never. And I mean NEVER dump plain pasta onto a dish and ladle your sauce or topping over it.

9. Add a handful of Parmesan and gently incorporate. Give it a taste. Add salt and pepper if needed.

10. Serve and enjoy promptly!

P.S. I was not paid by DeCecco to mention their brand. The simple truth is, that’s what I use!