Homemade Tagliatelle

Do you ever have a day when you have no idea what to cook? As inspired as I am, even I have the occasional day where I am peering into the depths of my pantry, as if by looking some sort of idea will just pop into my head. It works, sometimes. On days where even staring into the pantry (or fridge and freezer) and nothing seems exciting, I recommend making pasta.  It is simple, satisfying, and guaranteed to please even the pickiest of palates.

You can make many different shapes, but I admit – I was feeling lazy. So I rolled it out and cut it into strips. I have been reliably informed this version of making pasta results in a shape called tagliatelle.

 

Ingredients:

2 C all purpose flour

3 whole eggs

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

extra flour for dusting

 

  1. Combine salt and flour, then make a mound with a space in the center (well) for the eggs

 

2. Add oil, eggs, and very slowly, starting from the edges of the mound of flour combine together all ingredients to form a dough

 

3. Flatten ball of dough to a disk, wrap in plastic, place on room temperature surface and leave sit at least 1 hr.

     

4. Cut the disk into 4 equal peices, then roll into balls. Working with one quarter at a time (refrigerate the remaining pieces during this time), roll the section out as flat as possible.

5. When you have, cut the dough into strips. If you wish, you can then take each strip and twist it a little.

6. Boil at least 6 quarts water and add a generous amount of salt.  When water is at a rolling boil, add your pasta.

7. When the pasta floats to the top, it is done. Serve immediately.

 

 

Quick Bone Broth

The weather is turning colder, and I feel a strong desire to cook heartier, more filling meals. One of the things I love to make are homemade broths and stocks – they are incredibly economical, you can customize them to your preference, you get a lot for just a bit of work, and they add so much flavor to even the simplest and plainest of food. There is a lot of room for flexibility as well -you can cook it for 3 hours, or for as many as 12 or even 24.  You can roast the bones first, or use fresh, raw bones. Add more vegetables, different herbs or spices – the choices are yours and they are endless. You will notice there is no salt and pepper in the recipe – that is deliberate to prevent over-seasoning whatever final dish you are preparing with the broth. This recipe is also easy to divide or multiply as needed.

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Ingredients: 

2 lbs chicken bones

1 lb chicken necks

6 frozen cubes of parsley

4 frozen cubes of basil

4 frozen cubes of garlic

1/2 lb carrots

1 head of celery

1 medium Spanish onion

small amount of oil for sauteing

 

  1. In a heavy stock pot (at least 8 qts) add a small amount of oil to the bottom of the pot. When it gets hot, add the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook on medium high for 7-10 minutes, or until the vegetables soften and get a bit of color on them.
  2. Add the cubes of frozen parsley, basil and garlic. Stir into the vegetables and let soften. Then add the chicken bones, necks, and water til an inch or two from the top.

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3. Bring to a boil, then lower flame til there are lazy bubbles floating to the surface every few seconds. Skim any scum from the surface as you are able to.

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4. Cook for about 3 hrs, or until the the broth is deep gold in color. Strain with a fine mesh strainer to remove as many impurities as possible.

Coq au Vin

The air is getting a tiny bit crisp, and I can feel autumn in the air. It’s one of my favorite seasons for many reasons – I stop to look and smile when I see the leaves change color as they wave on the trees, then dance in the air as they fall to the ground. I am thrilled at the abundance of late summer produce that beg me to prepare and and store them for a sweet taste of summer in the colder months soon to come. I love the High Holidays – happy times with family seated around the table enjoying delicious food and wine. This recipe is one that will grace my Rosh Hashanah table – it is easy to prepare and freezes well. Traditionally, coq au vin calls for chicken with bones in it, but it is still considered coq au vin if you use large skinless, boneless chicken cutlets such as these.  It is important to remember not to overcrowd the pan- use two pans, or work in batches if you need to. This recipe makes quite a bit, so feel free to halve the recipe if needed.

Ingredients:

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5 full chicken cutlets, cut in half to make 10 individual pieces (boneless/skinless, cleaned of fat)
5 packages of button mushrooms (cut into quarters)
1 750 ml bottle of Cabernet or other dry red wine (not marsala or anything fortified)
2 large Spanish onions, diced
packed 1/2 C each fresh basil and parsley, minced
4-6 large garlic cloves, minced
Flour for dredging
4 tblsp black pepper and dried tarragon
2 tblsp salt
oil for sauteing
1) Prepare chicken breasts by making sure they are very dry by patting excess moisture off with a paper towel. Add the salt, pepper and dried tarragon to the flour, mix to combine, dredge cutlets, set aside. (as shown in picture above).
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2) Heat oil in the bottom of TWO high-sided frying pans (just barely to cover the bottom) and when hot add the onions. 5-7 on mid high til starting to get color.
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3) Add garlic and fresh herbs. Lower heat, cook, stirring often for 3-5 mins.
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4 )Add mushrooms, and stir to combine. Add1/4 C of  red wine, cook til mushrooms are just starting to shrink, about 10 mins. Remove from fire and reserve.
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5) Add oil to bottom of the same two pans, enough to make a thin layer, and in batches pan fry the cutlets (about 5 mins per side, but do not cook through) til you get light brown color on the outside.
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6) When all chicken is cooked, divide between both pans ( it’s okay if it’s a bit tight) and re-add the reserved mushroom mixture.
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7) Cook on low uncovered for about 20 mins, stirring carefully once or twice. It is done with the chicken is soft and cooked all the way through (cut a cutlet open if need be to test), mushrooms are only 1/4 of their original size, and the wine has reduced at least 1/3 of original amount.

Pepper Steak Ziti with Mushrooms

School has started again (my boys started school this past week; my daughter starts next week) and when dinnertime comes, they act like they haven’t eaten all day. They need something to eat that is healthy and filling -and in a hurry. The best way to distract your kids from their hunger pangs while this cooks is to do what I did: get them to help with the prep! They will be thrilled to help, and more willing to eat something they helped make!

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. pepper steak

3 portobella mushrooms, sliced

1 pk crimini mushrooms, cut in half

2 shallots, sliced thin

3 garlic cloves, minced fine

6 large fresh basil leaves, minced fine

1 C dry red wine

1 tsp. dried tarragon

1 tsp dried parsley

3 tblsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

32 oz vegetable stock

16 oz ziti noodles

olive oil for sauteing

 

To Prepare:

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Heat a chef pan or pot, and add a small amount of olive oil to the bottom. Add the shallots and saute on high heat til they just start to brown, then add the garlic.

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When the garlic starts to brown, lower heat and add 1/2 cup of the red wine.

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Add the portabello and crimini mushrooms, cook for 7-10 mins on medium heat, then add the pepper steak.

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After 5 mins, add your herbs, 1 C of vegetable stock, 1 tblsp of the salt and the black pepper. Stir well to combine, lower flame and let simmer as you prepare the pasta.

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Using the remaining vegetable stock, as well as an additional 3 cups water and 2 tblsp salt, boil the water for the ziti. Add pasta when water is at a roiling boil.

Cook pasta for 5-7 mins, then strain and add to the pepper steak mixture with 2 cups of the pasta water.

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Cook on medium high for 10 mins more, lid covered, stirring once or twice in between.

When pasta is done to taste, turn off flame and let sit covered for 5 mins. Stir and serve immediately.

Lamb Meatballs with Pepper-Tomato Broth

It’s been an interesting few weeks – we made the move from big-city Brooklyn to the suburbs of New Jersey.  I’ve been busy with all the things people need to do when they move, especially from one state to the other. Between making sure my husband had a way to commute to his job on Brooklyn everyday to finding ways to keep our children (9, 7, and almost 6) entertained, I am just starting to settle in. It took a bit of time to get used to my new kitchen, but things are coming together and delicious food is being made once more!

When I made this recipe, I served it with polenta (and it was completely delicious!) You could serve this with your favorite grain or starch – rice, pasta, or even quinoa would be just as tasty. Or you can eat it as is for a delicious, light summer soup.

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For the Lamb Meatballs:

2 lbs ground lamb

10 oz plain panko crumbs

3  extra large eggs

1 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp onion powder

1 Tbsp dried tarragon

1 Tbsp dried parsley

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp rubbed sage

1 tsp porcini powder

1. Combine all ingredients well. Form into golf-ball sized balls.

2. Chill in fridge raw to firm up until you are ready to cook, about an hour. Make 3 dozen small meatballs.

 

For the Pepper- Tomato Broth

4 large beefsteak tomatoes, chopped

3 yellow bell peppers, sliced

3 orange bell peppers, sliced

2 medium white onions, sliced

1 750 ml bottle of Chardonnay ( you will want one not aged in oak -I used Abarbanel)

32 oz vegetable stock ( I used Imagine Foods Organic)

6 oz tomato paste

3 oz each dried tarragon and dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Oil for sauteing

1. Heat a large stockpot (at least 12 Q) and add oil. When oil is hot, add onions and cook on high for 5-7 mins, stirring often

2. Add the tomatoes and peppers, lowering flame to medium low. Cover and let vegetables sweat for 10-15 mins, stirring once or twice.

3. Add the wine, stock, paste, as well as the herbs and spices. Stir well to incorporate and bring to a simmer.

4. Simmer vegetables covered for 30 mins, stirring once.

5. Using an immersion blender, blend all ingredients well, making sure they are no large pieces left behind.

6. Raise tempertaure so a few, lazy bubbles appear on the surface, and add  the previously made meatballs directly into the broth. After 3 mins, take a spatula along the sides of the pot to stir carefully.

7. After 5 -7 mins, remove one meatball and cut in half. If the meat is cooked all the way through, it is done. Serve while hot.

Tuna Ceviche

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, and I am happy to finally be back and with a delicious recipe to share! There were many factors that kept me from posting, however, the reason why I was away for so long as due to health related issues. Thankfully, I am being treated and am well on the road to recovery.  Now that I am feeling better, I am eager to be in the kitchen and make delicious food once again.

One of my all time favorite foods is fresh tuna. Sear it, serve it as sashimi, grill it – it doesn’t really matter. One of the easiest way to prepare  fresh tuna, however, is ceviche. A ceviche is simple – take a  really, really fresh fish, cube it up, add an acid (usually in the form of fresh citrus) , some salt, pepper, and herbs,  refrigerate for at least an hour and serve. The acid ‘cooks’ the fish by changing the texture, and you have an extremely healthy dish. Pretty simple, right?

While the standard ceviche recipe calls for raw peppers, onions, and cilantro, I have found that I prefer my recipe to be a bit different.

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Tuna Ceviche

Ingredients:

1lb best quality sashimi tuna, cut into cubes while still mostly frozen

juice from 4 lemons

2 dozen kalamata olives, pits removed and cut in half lengthwise

handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely minced

3 Persian cucumbers, cut into quarters lengthwise and chopped

Sea Salt and Coarse Black Pepper

 

To prepare:

Note: It is VERY IMPORTANT to work with the fish while it is still mostly frozen, and that all the ingredients you work with stay cold. 

1) Combine the cubed tuna and the fresh lemon juice in a glass bowl. Add a little bit of salt and pepper. Place in the refrigerator and let ‘cook’ for about 30 minutes. 

2)  Add your olives and parsley, use a spatula or your hands to prevent breaking up the tuna. Return to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes.

3) 5 to 10 minutes before you want to serve it, add the cucumbers and add more salt and pepper if desired.

 

 

 

Homemade Tomato Sauce

The inspiration: A need for a delicious, minimally processed tomato sauce full of good flavor.

I love making things for myself -I like the concept of being able to control what goes into what my family and I eat. Processed foods have a time and place, but with all the additives they contain, I prefer to use them as little as possible. So I am always pushing myself to make more at home, and one thing we love is tomato sauce. We have meals that feature tomato sauce at least twice a week – grilled fish and brown rice with tomato sauce mixed in, or pasta with beef or chicken and tomato sauce are two examples that come easily to mind. The point is, for something I feed my family so often, I want to make it as healthy and flavorful as I can.

The innovation: Not adding sugar to the sauce, and not peeling the tomatoes first.

When I first started researching tomato sauce recipes, I got really discouraged – the recipe always calls for sugar, and to peel the tomatoes, or blanch then peel the tomatoes. I didn’t want to do either.  I didn’t want to add sugar because I wanted to make something completely healthy and as minimally processed as possible. I didn’t want to have to spend the extra time working on the tomatoes, either. This recipe is a chunky but not especially thick – if you are looking for a tomato sauce recipe like you see in a magazine or on TV, this isn’t it. It’s chunky with real tomato and fresh vegetables and herbs, and the small amount of sweetness comes from cooking down the onions and garlic. Using the best quality tomatoes will improve the sweetness as well.

My re- interpretation: Homemade Tomato Sauce

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Recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce

4 lg cloves garlic chopped

6 stalks celery rough chopped

1 lg Spanish onion rough chopped

6 fresh sage leaves rough minced

1 small handful fresh tarragon leaves rough minced

8 fresh basil leaves rough minced

Olive oil for sauteing

5 lb ripe Roma tomatoes (look for ones that are bright red and only the slightest bit soft or not soft at all) cut into quarters

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (look for a can that says Imported from Italy)

2 packages crimini mushrooms cut into halves

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 of 750ml bottle of dry red wine ( I prefer Burgundy)

 

1) Heat olive oil in the bottom of a 10Qt or larger stock pot. Add garlic and onion, cook on high heat til they have a golden brown color.

2) Lower heat, then add celery, fresh herbs and mushrooms with the red wine, cover with lid and leave sweat for at least 30 mins, or until vegetables look more tender.

3) Add fresh and diced tomatoes, season with salt and pepper ( use a little now, adjust later as needed) and let cook covered at a low simmer for at least 1 and a half hours. The vegetables should be tender, and there should be a significant amount of liquid in the pot.

4)At this point, take a immersion or hand blender and blend everything into the pot together very well, til mixture is chunky. Cook a bit longer, about 30-40 mins, then turn off heat and allow to cool completely before storing away. This will make a large quantity of sauce – I filled 4 2lb deli containers.

Gluten Free Pancakes with Mini Chocolate Chips

The inspiration: A blizzard, and having my whole family home for breakfast

Most of the day yesterday and into much of the day there was a large snowstorm ( they call it Juno. Why I am not sure). But in any case, we got a good foot or so of snow, and my husband had off work and my kids had off school. When the family is all together for breakfast, I treat us all to homemade pancakes. I find it too difficult trying to get three kids and a husband out the door every morning to cook a hot breakfast, and this is the only one everyone agrees on.

The innovation: Making a family favorite healthier using Michael Ruhlman’s Ratios

There was one problem with me just getting into the kitchen and whipping up a batch of homemade pancakes, though. I was now on a primarily gluten-free, lower fat, lower sugar, lower processed/refined product diet. So how was I going to make pancakes for everyone and not be tempted to have one myself?  I decided to make them gluten free, and to keep the percentages exact, I turned to my culinary bible, Ratios. I primarily use this when I am baking, so I don’t end up with a disaster on my hands. I have a gluten free flour blend that is a 1:1 exchange for wheat flour. I doubled the recipe, used Earth Balance for butter, almond milk for regular milk, and gluten free flour for all-purpose, but the percentages are his- and once again they gave me a beautiful end result.

The reinterpretation: Gluten Free Pancakes with Mini Chocolate Chips

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Ingredients:

2 C unsweetened vanilla flavored almond milk

4 large eggs

1 stick Earth Balance (4 oz)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 3/4 C  gluten free flour (make sure it is a 1:1 for wheat flour)

6 Tblsp turbinado sugar

4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp salt

Pam or other oil cooking spray

Mini chocolate chips (optional – I used Enjoy Life’s Mini Chips)

 

To prepare:

1) Melt the Earth Balance and set aside

2) Combine the wet ingredients- almond milk, eggs, and vanilla extract.

3) Combine the dry ingredients- flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. If you find there are lumps in the baking powder or flour, sift them out.

4) Combine the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and add the melted Earth Balance. Whisk together to make sure all ingredients are incorporated.

5) Ladle mixture into desired size pancakes into a frying pan sprayed with Pam. Add chocolate chips and cook til bubbles start to appear, then flip over. Cook for about 2-3 minutes more.

 

 

 

 

Arroz con Pollo (Rice and Chicken)

The inspiration: A trip to the local market

I went to the local market down the street from my house for one thing. Just one! Does that ever happen to you – you need one thing and walk out with a whole cart load of stuff you have to have? That’s what happened here. I saw the corn and peppers outside, and I had to have them. Then of course I needed everything else I bought too… Anyway, I came home with a whole box of delicious produce and now had to decide what to make.

 

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The innovation: not using onions or garlic for flavor, but still managing to get a delicious, well-rounded flavor

Since starting the FODMAP diet, the biggest challenge I have is to get intense flavor without using garlic and onions ( big no-nos on the diet) It has led me to start exploring with different herb and spice combinations I normally wouldn’t use. In this case, the strong herbal flavor from the parsley (you can use cilantro but I am not a fan) leaves AND stems plus the addition of red chilis added great flavor – not too hot, but with a definite kick. The use of vine tomatoes (more expensive but more flavorful) also boosted the flavor as well.

My reinterpretation: Arroz con Pollo

 

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless dark chicken meat

3 ears fresh corn, kernels cut from the cob

2 red bell peppers, sliced

2 orange bell peppers, sliced

3 vine tomatoes, diced

2 red chili peppers, minced fine or ground with a mortar and pestle (I prefer a mortar and pestle)

half a bunch of fresh parsley (about 1 cup), minced fine

2 C water

1 C white rice

Salt and pepper

 

To Prepare:

1) Get a large stockpot (at least 6 qt) very hot, and add your chicken. Sear on both sides, each side about 7 mins, adding salt and pepper while you sear. Remove from pot and set aside.

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2) Lower flame to low, and add the corn as well as the red and yellow peppers. Cover and let sweat til vegetable soften, about 15 mins.

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3)Add the tomatoes, chilies, and parsley, stirring well to incorporate. Cover again and let sweat for about 5-7 mins, or til tomatoes start to soften.

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4) Add the seared chicken meat, mixing into the vegetables, and lower flame. Add a bit of salt and pepper and taste. Cook for about 15 mins, or til chicken is mostly cooked through.

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5) Add the water and the rice, stir well, and bring fire to a low simmer. Simmer for 20 mins, or until the rice is soft but not mushy. Serve immediately.

Salmon Pan Bagnat

The inspiration: Leftover salmon, gorgeous mixed greens, and wanting to make a quick and easy meal

Leftovers- you have to love them or hate them. Every Shabbat, I prepare baked salmon for my family and there is always some leftover on Sunday. But I was tired of making my usual salmon-with couscous, salmon-with-rice, or salmon-with-pasta using the leftovers. I wanted something with bold flavor, something that would use my leftovers and I wouldn’t have to do more than make a knife (or my hands) dirty.

The innovation: Substituting salmon for tuna, gherkins for cornichons

Pan Bagnat is the classical tuna and vegetable sandwich of southern France. Traditionally, it has hard-boiled eggs, mixed greens or romaine lettuce, roasted squash or peppers (maybe both), cornichons or Nicoise olives and canned tuna. However, like much of Provencal cuisine, the one hand and fast rule is to use whatever is the freshest, the best tasting – and what you have on hand. Works for me! I had salmon to use up, as well as some delicious vegetables and greens. Cornichons add a slightly sour/tart taste that works in perfect contrast to the Dijon in the vinaigrette, but since I was using mixed greens that were slightly bitter and the Dijon together, I was sure the gherkins would add a welcome sweet/tartness to the pan bagnat. You can always omit the gherkins, but I wouldn’t recommend substituting pickle spears or sour pickles. If anything, if you don’t like pickles, add Nicoise or Kalamata olives or capers for a similar taste profile.

My interpretation: Salmon Pan Bagnat

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Ingredients: 

For the vinaigrette:

2 heaping tsp genuine Dijon mustard 

1 and 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar 

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together, set aside in fridge to chill 

For the pan bagnat:

1/2 of a French baguette

1 baked or grilled salmon fillet, about 6 oz, already cooked and cooled

large handful of mixed greens

1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut into slices

1 Roma (plum) tomato, cut into slices

2 gherkin pickles cut in half lengthwise 

Olive oil to brush on baguette

Sea Salt 

Black Pepper

To prepare:

1) Brush the insides of the baguette with a light layer of olive oil and sprinkle a tiny bit of sea salt and black pepper on top

2) Mix the vinaigrette with the mixed greens til coated very lightly and add to the baguette. You may have extra dressing – that is fine, save it.

3) One layer at a time, add in the cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles.

4) Flake the cooled salmon into large pieces and add to the baguette. 

5) If desired, add the remaining vinaigrette. At this point, it is traditional to wrap the sandwich tightly in foil and refrigerate for an hour.  However, if you are hungry- bon apetite!