pasta bolognese

January 24, 2013

prep time: 20 minutes       cook time: 20 minutes       makes 4 servings

ingredients
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. rigatoni or penne (about 3 cups)
8 oz. lean ground beef
1/3 c dry red wine
1 14-oz. can petite diced tomatoes
2 T tomato paste
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

directions

  1. heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. add onion, carrots, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 6-8 minutes.
  2. meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. add pasta and cook according to package directions. drain.
  3. add beef to the vegetables and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 3-4 minutes. increase heat to medium-high, add wine and cook until almost evaporated, 1-1.5 minutes. stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, and nutmeg; reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. remove from the heat and stir in salt and pepper. serve the pasta with the sauce.

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scalloped potato gratin

January 22, 2013

prep time: 20 minutes       cook time: 50 minutes      makes 4-6 servings

ingredients
1.5 c heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground nutmeg
butter
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices (about 4-6 medium/large potatoes)
salt (or garlic salt) and ground black pepper
1/2 c grated parmesan
1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese/gouda
4 strips bacon, chopped

directions

  1. preheat the oven to 385 degrees.
  2. in a saucepan, heat up the cream with thyme, garlic, and nutmeg.
  3. while cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish. place layers of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper after every other layer. repeat until potatoes are used up.
  4. remove cream from heat, then pour a little over the potatoes. top with some grated parmesan. make 2 more layers.
  5. bake, uncovered for 50 minutes.

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total time: 3 hours     makes 30 cookies

ingredients for cookie
2 sticks (1 c) of unsalted butter at room temperature
1 c granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp kosher salt
3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
dipping caramel (recipe follows)
1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
12 oz. chocolate chips

directions:

  1. in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. beat until light and fluffy. add in egg and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the bowl, if necessary. add in vanilla. beat until smooth. with mixer on low, add in salt and flour. mix until completely incorporated and dough is uniform. pull dough together and shape into a cylinder with a diameter of about 2.5 inches. wrap in parchment paper and freeze for at least 25 minutes.
  2. preheat oven to 350 degrees. slice dough into 1/8 inch disks and place on baking sheets, about an inch apart. once you have made the desired amount of cookies, wrap up the cookie dough, freeze, and save for another time. use a tiny circle shaped cookie cutter or a large round cake decorating tip to cut a hole in the center of each disk. refrigerate for an additional 10 minutes. bake for 8 minutes, or until crisp. let cool completely.
  3. add coconut into the caramel. warm the caramel in the microwave for about 10 seconds if necessary. take cooled cookies and gently dip them completely in the caramel. place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. freeze until set, about 5-10 minutes.
  4. melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals, stirring well after each interval, until fully melted. place the caramel coated cookies in the chocolate. use a fork to pull them out of the chocolate and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. use the chocolate still on the fork to drizzle stripes over the top of the cookies. refrigerate until set.

dipping caramel ingredients

1.5 c granulated sugar
4 T corn syrup (or honey)
6 T water
pinch of salt
6 T butter
6 T heavy cream (DO NOT use plain whipping cream)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract

directions

  1. in a heavy bottomed saucepan with high sides, combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. whisk until combined, and set over medium-low heat. swirl the pan every now and then to help distribute the heat. when the sugar dissolves completely, raise the heat to medium. when it comes to a boil, watch very carefully for the bubbles to become more viscous (this means that the water has evaporated and that it is ready to go through the candy stages). as it is bubbling away, you want it to turn a deep amber color. when it does, remove from heat and, working quickly, use a spoon to scoop up a small amount of the candy and drop it into a small glass of water. if the bob turns hard like a lollipop, then it is ready. if the blob is still soft, put the pan back on the heat. keep testing until the candy is hard. remove from heat.
  2. whisk in butter, heavy cream, and vanilla. if the caramel isn’t smooth right away, return the pant to low heat and whisk until smooth.

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okra with tomatoes

January 9, 2013

prep time: 15 minutes       cook time: 15 minutes      makes 6 servings

ingredients
1 tsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 lb sliced okra
1 – 8 oz. can of canned diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes can be substituted)
1 – 15 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste

directions

  1. cover bottom of skillet with olive oil and place over medium heat.
  2. add garlic, onion, cayenne pepper in the skillet and stir until fragrant.
  3. stir in green pepper. cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. stir in okra and allow to cook for 5 minutes more.
  5. stir in both the diced and stewed tomatoes.
  6. season with salt and pepper.
  7. reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until all vegetables are tender, about 5-7 minutes.

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