Sunday, December 13, 2009


I'm not going to lie. I have been on a bit of a hiatus from my kitchen lately or at least from blogging about what I have been up to in my kitchen. Well today the dry spell ended! I woke up this morning with cooking and Christmas on my mind. Weird I know, but what can you do? After breakfast and a lot of coffee, I dedicated the rest of my day to my long lost friend and to the spirit of the season. On today's menu: marinara!

Last year around this time I was fortunate enough to receive a Kitchen Aid mixer complete with the pasta attachments. Since then I have been making loads of fresh pasta and experimenting with tomato sauce. Marinara is simple enough and everyone has their own formula. Once you've found yours, I promise you'll be hesitant to buy anything in a jar again. Especially if you are crafty enough to jar your own.

Now as far as tomatoes go, I personally like to use canned when it comes to marinara. For one, canned tomatoes are much quicker and easier; no boiling or peeling required. Also, they have spent their shelf life swimming in their own juices giving them a rich flavor that can be hard to achieve with fresh. For an even richer sauce, feel free to add meatballs. I promise it will be worth it and should have a post up with a great recipe soon.

The base for the recipe below is found in Giada DeLaurentiis' Everyday Pasta and yields about 2 quarts of marinara. So long as you have a large enough pot, I say double it! Or you can be as ambitious as I was today and sextuple it! You can always freeze the extra or can it as I mentioned. I'll let you guess what a number of my friends will be receiving for Christmas this year...

basic marinara sauce
yields about 2 quarts

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stocks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more taste
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium - high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are tanslucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the parsley and thyme and saute for about 2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

mad men brownies

I don't know what it was about this weekend, but it left me wanting chocolate. Brownies specifically. Maybe it was the uber grey weather. Or maybe it was just the itch to make something simple...and with frosting. Either way my house is slowly filling with the unmistakeable scent of chocolatey goodness as I type. I've deemed these Mad Men Brownies only because of their simplicity. I imagine this recipe would be something you could find in a dusty old Betty Crocker cookbook. Also, I'll be watching the show tonight and the theme seemed fitting. Now if I could only find an apron to match my lovely housedress...

mad men brownies
yields approximately 16 brownies

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 white flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch square baking pan. Stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium sized bowl. Add eggs and beat well with spoon.  Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, beating until well blended. Stir in nuts if desired. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Spread frosting evenly on top. Cut into squares and enjoy!

3 tbls butter, softened
3 tbls cocoa
1 tbl light corn syrup or honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tbls milk

Beat butter, cocoa, corn syrup and vanilla in a small bowl until well blended. Add powdered sugar and milk; beat until smooth. Makes about 1 cup of frosting.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

chanterelle mushroom & leek soup

I've been feeling a little under the weather this week which always makes me want to eat soup. Lots and lots of soup. Thankfully I have an awesome roommate who also likes to cook. And thankfully she made some amazing soup this week. The result was so amazing that I decided I needed to write about it, even if I didn't cook it myself.

The soup kick was actually less a result of me contracting the swine flu (kidding...) and more a result of scoring a grocery bag full of some beautiful chanterelle mushrooms. I first learned about chanterelles while reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. The author, while seeking out the sources of the foods he eats, stumbles upon a chanterelle mushroom in his backyard. Unable to identify it, he ends up tossing it only to find out later that it was indeed the real deal and not a poisonous look-alike. Fortunately we had nothing to worry about since our bag of mushrooms came to us from a skilled mushroom hunter; one I hope my roommate remains in touch with for completely selfish reasons.

After some debate and the mushrooms staring at us from the countertop for a few days, we decided soup was the way to go with quantity of shrooms we had. Below is the recipe my roommate decided to try and I have to say, it was absolutely delicious! Enjoy!

chanterelle mushroom & leek soup

3 tbl butter
3 tbl olive oil
1/2 lb potatoes, skin on, but into 1/4 pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs chanterelle mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp towel, stems trimmed
1 c sweet onion, copped
1 leek, washed well and sliced
1/4 cup white wine
7 c chicken broth
1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
3 tbl fresh parsley
salt & pepper
1c half and half
2 tbl flour

Heat olive oil and butter in a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium - high heat. Add potatoes, cover and cook until they are a bit tender and starting to brown a bit, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chanterelles, onions and leeks and cook for 5 minutes, while stirring frequently. Add white wine and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes. Pour in chicken stock, chili flakes, parsley, salt and pepper and stir. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Puree approximately 3 cups of soup in a food processor or blender. Return pureed soup to pot. In a small bowl, whisk flour with half and half until well blended. Pour into soup pot and continue to simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

veggie burgers & beet chips

Between weddings, birthday extravaganzas, and just general fun I have been enjoying quite a few three day weekends this summer. This past weekend was no exception. Only this time I actually got to stay home and enjoy Seattle in its beautiful fall glory. Friday was spent reconnecting with some of my favorite people and Saturday wound down with some quality house sitting which included truffle popcorn (something for a later post maybe?) and movies on a GIANT boy TV.

By the time Sunday rolled around I was ready to get into the kitchen and a had a fridge full of veggies just waiting there for me. I also had a recipe for veggie burgers that had been calling my name. I decided it was finally the day. Especially since I could try my hand at beet chips again for a side (I totally burnt my first batch).  Here's a peek at what went down if you want to give it a try! Enjoy!

veggie burgers

While shredding veggies via an old fashioned grater is no fun, it is worth it.

4 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, grated
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, shredded
1 small zucchini, shredded
1 small summer squash, shredded
1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 c rolled oats
1 egg, beaten
1 tbl soy sauce
1/3 c plain or seasoned breadcrumbs
1 1/2 c all purpose flour

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in the carrots, zucchini and squash and continue to cook and stir for another 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Mix in cheese, oats and egg. Stir in soy sauce. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

1 hour later...

Place flour on a large plate. Add breadcrumbs to cooled mixture and mix with hands. Form the veggie mixture into 3" to 4" patties. Drop each patty into the flour lightly coating both sides. Cook patties in remaining 2 tsp of olive oil over med high heat about 5 minutes in each side, until heated through and nicely browned. Serve immediately.

beet chips
Now, the first time I tried to make these, I fried a crisp and not in a good way. Slice the beets as thinly as possible to ensure they crisp and check them frequently as they bake.

2 medium to large red beets
2 to 3 tbl olive oil
sea salt
herbs de provence (or dried rosemary)

Preheat oven to 250. Peel beets with a vegetable peeler leaving stems on and thinly slice beets with a mandolin food slicer. Toss beet slices in a bowl with olive oil salt and pepper. Arrange beets in a single layer in a shallow glass baking dish. They can touch just don't overlap them too much. Sprinkle with herbs de provence (or rosemary). Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until the chips have started to curl and crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve immediately.