Category Archives: 18. Starch-Breads, Rice, Pasta and such

Spaghetti and Meatballs the Easy Way

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\spaghetti & meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs the Easy Way

Makes 6-8 servings and about 30 golf sized meatballs

 

Here is a dish that bases itself on simplicity and best of all, can be made one or two days ahead of time and then reheated very slowly. The sauce is extra creamy because of the butter in it and the meatballs are cheesy for a bit of a different twist. There are no added spices except for salt and pepper so that’s why I stress simplicity in nature. I made it for a friend of mine who just finished a brutal series of chemo treatments and could only taste and eat simple food. Pasta helps her settle her stomach and this was a perfect dish for her at this difficult moment in her life.  However, you don’t have to have been through that kind of hell to enjoy this dish. I used my 10 inch wide deep pot (though I wished I had a 12 inch wide pot) and my food processors. Processors make life in the kitchen so very easy don’t you agree? As well, if you wish a saucier dish, either cut down on the amount of spaghetti to use and/or add one more 28 oz. can of tomatoes plus some more butter to the initial recipe. And of course, if you wish to add your favorite seasonings to the sauce, that is always an alternative but it is very delicious just as stated and that also is what my friend requested.

 

Ingredients:

For the Sauce:

  1. 2- 28-oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes in their juice
  2. 1/2 C. unsalted butter (1 cube)
  3. 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and halved through the root end
  4. 1/2 Tsp. salt (or more if you wish)

 

For the Meatballs:

  1. 1 C. fresh breadcrumbs made in the food processor from crust less French or country-style bread
  2. 1/3 C. whole milk
  3. 8 oz. ground beef
  4. 8 oz. ground pork
  5. 1 C. ground in the processor Parmesan cheese (about 5 oz. of the shaved variety will do the trick)
  6. 1/3 C. finely chopped Italian parsley (about 1 bunch) once again I used the processor
  7. 1 Tsp. salt
  8. 1/4 Tsp. ground pepper
  9. 2 large eggs
  10. 2 large garlic cloves that you’ll use your garlic presser to add to the eggs

Spaghetti, etc. 

  1. 1 pound spaghetti (cooked per directions al dente)
  2. Fresh grated Parmesan cheese for serving
  3. More Italian Parsley for decoration

 

Instructions for the sauce:

  1. In a 10 inch or preferably a 12 inch deep pot, place a strainer over the pot and pour the canned tomatoes into the strainer so that the juice goes in the pot and the tomatoes are reserved. Place the tomatoes in the processer and pulse very briefly—just so that they become finely chopped.
  2. Place the tomatoes in the pot along with the salt and onions.
  3. Simmer for 45 minutes without a top. I used a splatter pan to top my pot.
  4. Taste the sauce and if you feel it needs more salt and ground pepper, go for it.
  5. Also, if you want a smoother sauce, you can use an immersion blender the process the sauce briefly. But you don’t want a too smooth sauce and you do want to have texture. So, I skipped this step totally and find that my sauce is definitely smooth enough.

 

Instructions for the meatballs:

  1. Combine the breadcrumbs and milk in a small bowl; stir till the breadcrumbs are evenly moistened. Let stand for 10 minutes
  2. Place the beef and pork in a large bowl, mix the two and add the 1 C. ground Parmesan and parsley. I use my hands for the mixing.
  3. Whisk the 2 eggs in a separate bowl; press the garlic into the eggs along with the 1 Tsp. salt and 1/4 Tsp. ground pepper. Whisk once more to make sure it’s all blended
  4. Add the eggs to the meat mixture and combine it all with your hands. Try not to man handle it too much.
  5. If the breadcrumbs have been soaking for 10 minutes, now’s the time to squeeze the milk from the breadcrumbs and save the milk. My breadcrumbs sopped up all the milk so I didn’t have any to reserve and actually I didn’t need any more to form the meatballs. It all depends on the bread you use.
  6. Add the breadcrumbs to the meat mixture; using the hands, quickly and gently mix the meat mixture just until all the ingredients are evenly combined. Do not over mix.
  7. Place this bowl, covered with saran rap, in the frig for at least 15 minutes but it could be even one hour.
  8. By this time, I think that your sauce has finished its 45 minute simmering gig and you can then take the bowl with the meat out of the frig. and start forming golf sized meat balls to put in one layer in the tomato sauce. If the meat seems to be sticking to your hands, you can dip the hands in some milk and the balls will form easier.
  9. Bring the sauce with the meatballs to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer till meatballs are cooked through—about 15 to 20 minutes.

 

sauce in pot

 

Additional Hints:

  1. If you are making this ahead of time, cool slightly and chill in frig. uncovered till cold and then place a cover on it. Re-warm gently before serving.
  2. When you are ready to serve this dish, cook the spaghetti and drain it. I always run cold water over it when done so that it’ll stop cooking.
  3. When serving I use a huge serving dish which has been heated so that guests can help themselves. (You can also individual plate it.) However, for my platter, I remove the meatballs from the tomato sauce to a separate dish, place the cooked spaghetti in the middle of the platter, spoon the sauce over the spaghetti and surround this with the meatballs and some extra sprigs of Italian parsley. You can also throw some shredded Parmesan over it all and/or place a dish with the Parmesan to the side of the dish for guests to help themselves.
  4. Of course, DON’T FORGET the hearty red wine such as Chianti to go along with this dish. A baguette of French bread is also a nice addition. For the green stuff, I actually just make my Original Caesar Salad. Desert? Fresh black cherries and my no-churn coffee ice cream. Bon Appétit.
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Strawberry-Nut Quick Bread

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strawberry nut quick bread

Strawberry-Nut Quick Bread

Makes one 9 X 5 Loaf

I found some very sweet and tasty California strawberries at the Ketchum Atkinsons’ store at a nice price- under $2 for a 1 lb. Clamshell.  So, I of course ate some fresh but the thought of making this very tasty quick moist bread came to mind, so I did create a half a loaf, just for me.  With some whipped cream cheese as a topping, it was delicious.  Of course, I wanted to share this easy recipe so here it is.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 eggs
  2. 1 C. sugar
  3. 1/2 C. oil
  4. 1 ½ C. all-purpose flour
  5. 1 Tsp. baking soda
  6. 2 Tsp. cinnamon
  7. 1/2 Tsp. salt
  8. 1 ½ C. of your favorite chopped nuts
  9. 10 Oz. sliced strawberries –fresh preferably but they can be frozen

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 and oil well a 9 X 5 X 3 loaf pan.  I also sprinkled some sugar on the bottom.
  2. Beat eggs, sugar and oil until well combined.
  3. Mix together well the flour, soda, cinnamon and salt.  I use my whip for this.
  4. Beat or mix all until well blended.  Batter will be thick.
  5. Add the berries and chopped nuts.
  6. Spread the batter in the pan and bake on the middle rack for 55 to 65 minutes.  For half a loaf, I used the same sized pan so the break turned out a bit less thick and it baked in about 40-45 minutes.
  7. Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes and remove to a wire rack. 

For easy access and printing of this and past recipes, visit Margot’s blog http://blog.tempinnkeeper.com  Call Margot for personal cooking help or hosting

 @ 721-3551.

Margot is a self-taught enthusiastic & passionate cook. Having been an inn-keeper for 5 years at her own inn, she accumulated a lot of good recipes which she loves to share.

Nut Bread-the Quick Way

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Quick Nut BreadNut Bread the Quick Way

Makes one 9 X 5 inch loaf

 

If you don’t own a bread machine or want to go through the manual yeast ritual, quick breads are a breeze to make. What makes the bread “quick” is the addition of baking soda and/or baking powder in the stead of yeast.  There are a huge variety of quick bread recipes including Corn Bread, Boston Brown Bread, Onion Pan Bread, Irish Soda Bread, Banana Bread, Whole Wheat and Molasses Bread, and Nut Bread.  I happen to really like the Nut Bread.  The trick with quick breads is to do just the opposite of what you do with a yeast dough; you mix it as fast and gently as possible and then bake it.  If you handle it too much, it tends to make for a tough loaf.  So, don’t worry about a mixture that is lumpy—just make sure that there is no more visibility of the flour in the mix before pouring into your loaf pan.

Ingredients:

  1. 3 C. flour and I used 1 C. rye flour, 1 C. whole wheat flour, and 1 C. all purpose flour
  2. 4 Tsp. baking powder
  3. 1 Tsp. salt
  4. 1/2 Tsp. ground cinnamon
  5. 1 C. roughly chopped walnuts or pecans
  6. 1/4 C. melted butter
  7. 1 ½ C. milk
  8. 1 egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease your pan
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients—I use a whisk to do this-and add the chopped nuts.
  4. In a smaller bowl, whisk the melted butter, milk and egg till well blended.
  5. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients folding and stirring quickly and gently till you can’t see any flour anymore.  The batter should be lumpy and not smooth.
  6. Place the batter in the pan and bake for about 45 to 60 minutes.  Mine usually gets done in 45 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.
  7. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
  8. This freezes just fine and it also toasts nicely.
  9.  Adding a bit of raisins or currents, chopped dates, etc. can make a nice addition along with 1 tsp. vanilla and some ground cloves.  You can use your imagination here.

For easy access and printing of this and past recipes, visit Margot’s blog http://blog.tempinnkeeper.com  Call Margot for personal cooking help or hosting

@ 721-3551.

Margot is a self-taught enthusiastic & passionate cook. Having been an inn-keeper for 5 years at her own inn, she accumulated a lot of good recipes which she loves to share.

 

Irish Soda Bread

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Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Makes 16 servings

 

I know that St. Pat’s has past and gone, but I discovered this most delicious and easy recipe that I honestly think can be used any time of the year.  It is delicious the next day toasted and topped with honey, jam or whipped cream cheese.  It uses half the usual amount of flour called for in most soda bread recipes and therefore is on the lighter side and I believe is the reason that it keeps better.  I hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 ½ C. All purpose flour
  2. 1/2 C. sugar
  3. 2 Tsp. caraway seed
  4. 1 ½ Tsp. baking powder
  5. 1/2 Tsp. baking soda
  6. 1 Tsp. ground cinnamon
  7. 1/2 Tsp. salt
  8. 1/2 Tsp. currants or raisins
  9. 1 ¼ C. buttermilk *
  10. 2 eggs
  11. 1/2 Tsp. vanilla

Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350
  2. Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan
  3. In a medium large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.  I use a whisk to do this.  When well mixed add the raisins or currents.
  4. In a small bowl whisk the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla till well blended.
  5. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients; add the liquid ingredients and mix quickly till blended and no more flour is showing.
  6. Pour into the cake pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.  Mine was done in 45 minutes.
  7. Place pan on a rack and let sit 10 minutes before removing the bread.
  8. * If you don’t have buttermilk, do this: take 1 ¼ C. milk minus 1 ½  Tblsp. and briefly heat the milk in the microwave—about 1 minute.  Then add 1 ½ Tblsp. white vinegar and let it sit while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

 

For easy access and printing of this and past recipes, visit Margot’s blog http://blog.tempinnkeeper.com  Call Margot for personal cooking help or hosting

@ 721-3551.

Margot is a self-taught enthusiastic & passionate cook. Having been an inn-keeper for 5 years at her own inn, she accumulated a lot of good recipes which she loves to share.

 

 

Pommes de Terre a la Provence

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Pommes de Terre a la Provence

One medium sized one will fill two 4 inch ramekins and will serve 2

Many of you may already know this, but Pommes de Terre in French literally means apples of the earth—and so what would that be?—a potato of course.  I just have always thought that’s such a cute name.  This is a very delicious dish and so easy to fix.  I’m sure it’s not light in calories or cholesterol, but every now and then a splurge is OK.

 

Ingredients:

  1. 1 medium sized baking potato (Idaho of course), peeled and sliced relatively thin.
  2. Crème Fraiche- 1/2 C. total will do.  *see below for recipe you can make yourself–much better and more economical however you have to start making this the day before making this dish.
  3. S&P to taste.
  4. Chopped Italian Parsley for topping.

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pam oil or butter spray the ramekins
  3. Place some of the potato slices on the bottom layer. It’ll probably be around 3 slices.
  4. Spoon the Crème Fraiche over this layer, sprinkle lightly with S&P and continue doing this for however many layers will fit in the ramekin. You might need to make some more Crème Fraiche.
  5. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for approximately 1 hour.
  6. Top with chopped parsley.
  7. If you wish to add a cheese to this mixture to accompany a meat or fish dish that has no sauce involved so that it wouldn’t conflict with a more complicated potato sauce, that would be very easy to accomplish.  You might think of Parmesan, Cheddar or Blue Cheese mixed in with the Crème Fraiche. You don’t need much to make a culinary imprint.  Also, spread a little on the top before putting in the oven.

 

You can also make this dish with other types of potatoes and/or just using  one large dish.  You will have to adjust your cooking times of course and I think for a larger dish, it could be as long as 2 hours or until tender.

  • Creme Fraiche-homemade: Easy but start making it the day before you make this dish. In a small bowl whisk 1/2 cup heavy wipping cream with 1/2 cup sour cream.  Cover well and leave out in a warm place for 12 hours.  Then stir and place in the refrigerator for another 12 hours.  At this point it should be perfect–thick, creamy and delicious.
  • Fresh Herbed Cream Sauce: No cooking here — simply blend 1/2 cup creme fraiche with 1 teaspoon each finely sliced chives and fresh tarragon. Add about 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serves up to 6 people. Streak a little over pieces of grilled, baked or poached salmon, sole, or scallops. Herbs could be pureed with a little shallot and stirred into the cream for a pale green color.
  • Pan Sauces: Stir a generous tablespoon into defatted pan sauces after pan grilling poultry, fish or vegetables. Bring to a simmer, taste for balance, and pour over foods.
  • Soups: Reduce the amount of cream called for in your favorite creamed soup by half and substitute creme fraiche.
  • With Fruits: A few spoonfuls of creme fraiche lift fruit flavors. Try over berries, ripe peaches or nectarines, or on sauteed pears. The cream could be lightly sweetened, flavored with a little lemon, orange or vanilla.
  • Imagination is everything. Try creme fraiche in other dishes as well. Streak it over mousses and jelled sweets or savories. Finish an appetizer plate of marinated leek or grilled scallions and asparagus with a zig zag of creme fraiche. It is classic in Beef Stroganoff instead of sour cream.

 

Bon Appetit

Mini Macaroni and Cheese alla Italiana

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Mini Macaroni and Cheese alla Italiana

Makes 6 Ramekins (4 ½ inch variety)

 

I heard this recipe on NPR—it’s that of the beautiful Nigella Lawson-and I thought that it would go beautifully as part of one of my catered dinners. So, thanks go to NPR and Nigella. Everyone loved this dish as I also did.  And I think you also will. It’s a delicious twist on our ole’ Mac & Cheese.

 

Ingredients:

  1. Butter spray for the ramekins
  2. 1 C. grated Gruyere
  3. 1 Tblsp. cornstarch
  4. 4 oz. fresh mozzarella (not buffalo) chopped
  5. 8 ounces pennette, or chifferi or elbow macaroni (I found some small pasta made by De Cecco—but Barillo also makes some)
  6. Salt for the pasta water
  7. 1/4 C. white vermouth or wine
  8. 1 ¼ C. chicken broth
  9. 1/4 C. mascarpone

10. 1 Tsp. truffle butter/paste or a few drops truffle oil (very expensive so actually I ground up some fresh mushrooms and along with a dash of Worcestershire sauce, mixed these ingredients with some soft butter and used that. It seemed to work).

11. 3 Tblsp. grated Parmesan

12. Ground white pepper or black is OK too

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray butter the ramekins.
  3. Toss the grated Gruyere with the cornstarch in a bowl.
  4. Boil the pasta according to the package directions, however, cut the cooking time by several minutes—so that the pasta is very al dente but still eatable. I watched it very carefully. Drain it and keep it in your colander for later.
  5. In a very large pan that will eventually hold the pasta in it, heat the vermouth to a boil and then add the chicken broth.  Let it come to a boil again and take it off the burner and whisk in the cornstarch-tossed Gruyere.  This mixture will melt into a mass of gooey cheese strings.  Add the Mascarpone and whisk again. Then add the truffle oil/butter stirring it in the sauce. Lastly add the pasta and the chopped mozzarella.  Stir once again to make sure everything is well mixed.
  6. Ladle the cheesy pasta into the sprayed ramekins trying to get an even amount of pasta and sauce in each. (The sauce will seem very liquid but don’t worry; the pasta will suck it up in the oven. Sprinkle the Parmesan on the top and then with pepper.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes in the hot oven.  Let stand 5 minutes before eating.  (I filled the ramekins with the pasta, etc. but left most of the liquid out because I was not going to serve them right away. I saved the liquid in a separate container. Several hours later, when I was ready to bake the ramekins, I put in my saved liquid in each ramekin and then baked them.  They turned out just fine.)
  8. Lastly, Nigella says that you can broil these ramekins as well but I thought that baking them would be better.

Couscous with Cinnamon, Cardamom and Dried Fruit (of your choice)

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Couscous with Cinnamon, Cardamom and Dried Fruit (of your choice)

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

  1. 1 ½  C. couscous
  2. 3 C. chicken stock or water
  3. 1 cinnamon stick
  4. 5 cardamom pods or 1/2 Tsp. ground cardamom
  5. S&P to taste
  6. 1/3 C. minced dried apricots (and/or raisins, figs, etc.)
  7. 1/3 C. hot water
  8. 1/2 stick butter (4 Tblsp.)
  9. 1/2 C. pine nuts

10. Minced fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish

 

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, warm the 2 ½ chicken stock or water with the cinnamon, cardamom, S&P while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Soak the dried fruit in the 1/3 C. hot water
  3. Place 1 Tblsp. butter in a small skillet and turn heat to medium.  When it melts, add the pine nuts and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned lightly—about 5 minutes.  Set aside.
  4. Place 2 Tblsp. butter in a medium saucepan and turn the heat to medium-low. When it has melted, add the couscous and cook, stirring, until it is coated with butter, about 1 minute.
  5. Strain the stock or water and add it all at once.
  6. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to its minimum.  Cover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, 5-8 minutes.
  7. Drain the dried fruit and gently stir them into the couscous along with the pine nuts and the remaining butter.
  8. Fluff with a fork and serve.