Category Archives: Cooking

Slow Cooking – from Winter into Spring

Still loving my All-Clad slow cooker and the great collection of slow cooker recipes from the Williams-Sonoma blog.  

This past weekend, I made the last of the winter recipes – Stout-braised short ribs.  Served over gemelli pasta with butter and grated cheese.  Outrageous!  The recipe is located here:  http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/stout-braised-short-ribs.html.

A new article from Williams-Sonoma highlights the slow cooker’s versatility for preparing lighter, spring recipes – combining traditional spring meats such as lamb, with fresh seasonable vegetables.  See the full article here:  http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/slow-cooking-for-spring/    I haven’t yet tried cooking fish in the slow cooker, but the  salmon recipe looks quite simple – and tasty.  Definitely one to try!

Meyer Lemon Risotto

Continuing last year’s rhapsody about Meyer lemons, I’m thrilled to share this link from Simply Recipes:

http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/meyer_lemon_risotto/

And now I have to rush out and buy some beautiful Meyer lemons to make this dish. I was oogling them in the grocery store yesterday (if that’s even a word), but wasn’t sure how I’d use them. Well, here’s the answer!

Winter Cooking: OUTRAGEOUS Red Lentil Soup

Inspired by an article on Egyptian food in this month’s Food & Wine magazine, and by the fortuitous discovery of a bag of red lentils in my pantry, I made this OUTRAGEOUS lentil soup in my slow cooker.  Forgive the all caps, but my house has smelled so wonderful all day.  I can hardly wait for my husband to get home so we can eat dinner!!!

Egyptian Red Lentil Soup (photo from Food & Wine magazine)

Mise en place:

  • 1 lb dried red lentils (soak overnight in cold water, or use the hot soak method – boil for 2 minutes, then soak for an hour in the boiling liquid).
  • 4-5 large carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 4-5 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 t minced garlic (ugh!  my brand new jar of garlic was bad, so I had to toss it and resort to garlic powder….)
  • 1 t smoked Spanish paprika
  • 2 t chile powder
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t ground turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 carton broth – vegetable, chicken or beef (I used Wegman’s beef broth, because that’s what I had on hand)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I used Hunt’s Fire Roasted tomatoes; they complement the dish nicely!)

Optional:

  • 2 T soup base
  • 2 T Moroccan Harissa or hot sauce

Soffritto:  Saute the vegetables in olive oil until slightly tender; add the garlic and saute one minute more.  Drain the lentils; add to pot.  Add broth and seasonings.  Stir and bring to boil.  Transfer to slow cooker.

Cook:  In slow cooker, on high, for 3 hours.  Remove from heat; puree lightly with a stick blender.  At this point the soup tasted a bit bland to me, so I added the soup base and harissa.  Now, it’s OUTRAGEOUS!

Winter Cooking: Fragrant White Chili

I’m loving my new All-Clad slow cooker.  Unlike others I’ve had, this one is programmable and immediately launches into ‘keep warm’ mode at the end of the cooking cycle.  I also like the cast aluminum insert, since I can brown the ingredients on the stovetop directly in the insert, and then place the entire insert into the base for cooking.

 All Clad slow cooker with cast aluminum insert (photo from http://www.williamssonoma.com)

Here’s a recipe for a quick and tasty white chili.  It’s fragrant but not overly spicy –  the perfect dish for the end of football season!

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 t minced garlic
  • 1 can small white beans or cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or 1/2 broth and 1/2 white wine)
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 t smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 t ground cumin (or more, to taste)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 t turmeric

Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat until softened, 3 mins.  Turn heat to medium-high; add turkey and brown.  Lower head to medium again and add garlic; saute another minute.  Add broth, beans and seasonings.  Stir to combine.  Transfer to slow cooker ; cook on low for one hour.  Top with shredded cheese and sour cream or yogurt.

Now I get to spend my favorite Sunday with my honey, eating chili and watching the playoffs.  And if I say, ‘Go Birds,’ well, I’m not really cheating – since this week I’m cheering for the Ravens!

Winter Cooking: Pata e Fagioli

There’s something especially satisfying about winter cooking: soups, stews, braises. They seem perfectly suited to Sunday afternoons: cooked slowly, enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Today, in the middle of the ‘hurry’ season, I enjoyed an unhurried afternoon in the kitchen, attempting to perfect the simple yet delicious pasta e fagioli. Since pasta e fagioli (unlike so many other Italian dishes),was never a staple in my family, I don’t have a recipe. I’ve tinkered with a few cookbook recipes, but never found just the right one. So this time, I composed my own, pretty much by feel. I’m quite happy with the results

Pasta e Fagioli - Mise en Place

Mise en place:

A handful of carrots, a handful of celery stalks, a small onion – coarsely chopped
A teaspoon of minced garlic
A 4 ounce package of Cittero diced pancetta (available at Wegmans and so much easier than chopping your own!)
Two cans of beans. I used Goya ‘small white beans’ but Navy beans, ceci beans, cannellini or any other similar variety would also work.
A carton of low-salt broth
A 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 T chicken soup base
1/4 cup or so white wine
1/2 lb small macaroni. I like ditalini for this soup, but elbow macaroni or any other small pasta shape would also work.

Soffrito - onions, carrots, celery, minced pancetta

Soffrito: Saute the pancetta in olive oil until browned. Add the chopped vegetables, sprinkle lightly with salt, and continue sauteing until slightly softened. Add the garlic and stir for a minute.

Soup:  Add the beans, drained. Add the tomatoes. Rinse the can with the wine and add it to the pot. Dissolve the soup base in a cup of hot water and add it to the pot. Bring to a boil; then lower to a simmer.

Seasoning: Season with salt, pepper, parsley, bay leaf and lots and lots of chopped fresh rosemary. Simmer 20 minutes or so, until the vegetables are slightly tender.  Remove the bay leaf.

The soup improves overnight and also freezes well. Cook and add the pasta (al dente) just before serving. Serve with pecorino romano cheese, crusty bread and salad for the perfect wintertime Sunday early supper.

Pasta e Fagioli, ready to enjoy!

Meyer lemons, the scent of heaven!

A friend of mine just sent me a dozen beautiful Meyer lemons from his garden in California.  They smell like heaven!  I have always wanted to make Morrocan style preserved lemons.  Now, I get to try this fabulous recipe!

http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_preserved_lemons/