Saturday, February 23, 2013

Italian Sausage and Vegetable Stew

Warm and hearty for cold winter day.  Use sweet or hot Italian sausage according to your preference.

Olive oil
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium onions, diced
1 lb Italian sausage (sweet or hot), casings removed
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 large carrots, diced
3 cups tomatoes (canned or thawed if frozen)
2-3 tsp dried oregano
3 cups cooked red and/or white beans
Chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot.  Add the garlic and onion and saute over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add the sausage, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks.  Once the sausage is well cooked, use a baster to remove excess fat if desired.  Add the pepper, carrots, tomatoes, oregano, and beans, plus enough chicken stock to achieve a good consistency.  Simmer until vegetables are tender.  Once vegetables are cooked, add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Best Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I've roasted a lot of sweet potatoes in my time.  They're always good.  Some are even really good.  But I think these here are the best I've made.  And they're super simple.  The secret is walnut oil instead of olive.  Olive oil roasted sweet potatoes are good.  But walnut oil roasted sweet potatoes are fantastic.

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
Walnut oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl with plenty of room for mixing.  Drizzle with walnut oil - enough to coat nicely but not enough to be too drippy.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix until well coated.

Pour the sweet potatoes into a baking dish or two; you want to get them more or less in a single layer.  You don't have to be precise about it, but don't pile them up too much.  Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring well once or twice, until nicely tender.  Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pizza with Dried Tomatoes, Feta, and Chicken

Every summer I dry some of the tomatoes from our garden.  My five-year-old actually enjoyed just snacking on them sometimes (they come out crisp), but I also really enjoy having a ready supply of these tasty morsels available all winter - and basically for free.  Here I combined them with feta and chicken for a savory winter pizza.  Skip the chicken for a lighter vegetarian version.

1/2 cup dried tomatoes
1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups cooked shredded or diced chicken
2-3 oz. crumbled feta
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the dried tomatoes in a bowl and pour enough boiling water over to just cover them.  Let them soak for 5-10 minutes, then drain and, if desired, chop.

Pain the pizza crust lightly with olive oil.  Spread the tomato sauce over it, then add the chicken, dried tomatoes, feta, and rosemary.  Top with the mozzarella, if using.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is done and the cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gingery Asian Vegetable Soup

Good for lunch or a light supper, this veggie-heavy soup has a wonderful savory, gingery broth.  It's vegetarian as presented here, but you could substitute shredded cooked chicken for the tofu if you like. I pulled snap peas and red peppers from the freezer to combine with storage carrots, but substitute other vegetables if you like.

1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 large shallot or small onion, finely chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp grated ginger root
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
1 1/2 cups diced red pepper (frozen is fine)
1 cups snap peas or edamame (frozen is fine)
Vegetable stock
1/2 cup soy sauce
14 oz. firm tofu, cubed
4 oz. noodles, in roughly 2-inch lengths (lo mein, vermicelli, whatever you like)
Hot sauce (optional)

Heat the sesame oil in a soup pot.  Add the shallot, garlic, and ginger, and saute for about 2 minutes.  Add the vegetables and 4-5 cups of stock and bring to a boil.  Add the soy sauce, tofu, and noodles and reduce heat to moderate.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles are done and veggies are tender.  Pass hot sauce at the table if desired.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Spicy Latin-Style Vinegar-Braised Beef

The flavors here will take you somewhere zesty and a little Caribbean.  Serve chunks of meat with sauce over noodles, grits, or mashed potatoes, or shred it for tacos.  Feel free to substitute shanks or short ribs for the roast.  This would also be excellent with pork.  This recipe is very loosely adapted (and much simplified) from How to Cook Meat by Christopher Schlesinger and John Willoughby.

2 1/3 - 3 lb pot roast (eye of round, half brisket, rump roast, chuck, etc)
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder (or more to taste)
2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celeriac
1 cup red wine vinegar
Beef stock

Remove the roast from the fridge 1-2 hours before you plan to begin cooking.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Combine the garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, black peppers, and 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a small bowl to form a paste.

Pat the roast dry, then spread it all over with this paste. Place the roast in a pan and brown it in the oven, 10-15 minutes per side.

While the roast browns, heat a little olive oil in a Dutch oven.  Add the onions, carrots, and celeriac and saute over medium high heat until nicely browned.  Deglaze the pot with the vinegar.  If needed, remove from heat while the roast finishes browning.  When the roast is browned, add it to the pot with the veggies.  Add beef stock until the liquid covers the meat about three quarters of the way.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to very low and simmer for at least 2-3 hours.  When the meat is done it will be very tender.

Once the meat is cooked, remove it from the pot and cut it up.  If desired, strain the cooking liquid, then reduce to make a sauce.  Alternatively, just serve the meat over mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or grits with a bit of cooking liquid spooned over it.

Serves 5-6.