Fagioli al l’uccelletto (Beans Braised in Tomato and Sage Sauce)

beans braised with tomato and sageIngredients:

1 (796ml) can cannellini beans
1 (796ml) can crushed tomatoes
3 – 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
A few fresh sage leaves*
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Directions:

Begin by making a simple tomato sauce: gently sauté a few garlic cloves and some fresh sage leaves in olive oil. When the garlic is just beginning to brown, add the canned tomatoes, and let it simmer, always on gentle heat, until the tomatoes have reduced nicely to a saucy consistency.

Add the cannellini beans, season with salt and peppers, and allow them to simmer in the tomato sauce for about 10 minutes or so, just long enough for them to absorb the flavor of the sauce. Test for seasoning, adjust if need be, and serve your fagioli all’uccelletto immediately.

* Click here to learn how to clean sage.

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Cipolle al Forno (Baked Onions)

Baked OnionsIngredients:

8 medium sized onions
Salt and pepper
A few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped*
Best quality, fruity olive oil
Dry white wine (optional)

Directions:

Take each onion, and slice off both the top and root ends. Remove the outer, dry layers of the onion, then slice each onion in half across their midsection, against the grain so to speak, so their rings are exposed. Place the onion halves in a well-oiled baking dish, cut side up. Season very generously with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the parsley. Finally, drizzle the onion halves with best quality olive oil you can find/afford.

Place the baking dish in the oven set at 350 degrees, for an hour or more, until the onions are well reduced in size, very soft and slightly caramelized. Baste the onions with their cooking juices every so often as they cook. Be careful not to allow the onions to burn, which will give them a bitter taste. If you like, you can cover them with a sheet of wax paper for the first 30 minutes or so or If need be, you can lower the oven temperature.

About 5 minutes before they’re done, splash a bit of white wine on top of the onions. This gives the onions a very slight tang, which nicely balances their natural sweetness, and produces a little ‘sauce’ you can pour over the onions when you serve them. Let the onions cool slightly before serving.

* click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Italian Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Sausage and PeppersIngredients:

8 (4 ounce) links sweet Italian sausage or other sweet/mild sausage
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 (796ml) can of diced or crushed tomatoes
⅓ cup wine or beer
½ tablespoon of corn starch

Directions:

In a large pot, add the canned tomatoes and herbs, then cook on low while preparing the remaining ingredients. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown on all sides. Remove from skillet, and slice. Add the sliced sausage and any drippings to the pot with the tomatoes.

Add the oil to the same skillet that you used for the sausages. Stir in the onions and garlic, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peppers, and then stir in the wine/beer. Continue to cook and stir until peppers and onions are tender.

Once tender, add the vegetables to the pot with the tomatoes and sausages. Let everything simmer on low for an hour. If you find that the sauce is a bit too watery, take about 3 tablespoons of liquid from the pot and mix it with the cornstarch. Once dissolved, add this cornstarch slurry back to the pot. It will thicken up the sauce. Serve hot.

Classic Minestrone

minestrone 1

Ingredients:

¼ cup and 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced*
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, diced large
2 zucchini, sliced
1 (398ml) can cut green beans
4 stalks celery, sliced
12 cups vegetable/beef/chicken stock
2 (796ml) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme*
1 (796ml) can cannellini beans, with liquid
½ cup elbow macaroni
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Add the garlic, leek and onion to the pot, and cook until they become translucent. Add the carrots, zucchini, green beans and celery. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring the ingredients occasionally so that nothing burns. Add the stock, tomatoes and thyme, and scrape up the bottom of the pan to release any stuck bits. Bring the soup to a boil, then replace the lid, and reduce heat to low; simmer gently for 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in the cannellini beans with liquid and pasta. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

* click here to see how to properly clean these ingredients.

Fajita Spice Mix

Fajita SeasoningA fajita is a term found in Tex-Mex cuisine, commonly referring to any grilled meat usually served as a taco on a flour or corn tortilla. The term originally referred to the cut of beef used in the dish which is known as skirt steak. Popular meats today also include chicken, pork, shrimp, and all cuts of beef. In restaurants, the meat is often cooked with onions and bell peppers. Popular condiments are shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, cheese, and tomato. The northern Mexican variant of the dish name is Arrachera.

So I call this a Fajita seasoning mix, but it can be used with tacos, chilies or anything that you want to give a south western flair to. You will notice the addition of two ingredients that may seem a bit out of place. First, there is the cocoa powder; you won’t taste it in the finished product, but the subtle chocolate flavour helps round out the other spices and notes of the blend. The second it the starch. I add this to help thicken, ever so slightly, the sauce/gravy that is created when using this blend, especially in fajitas or tacos. When it comes time to using the blend, other than as a dry rub, I suggest adding 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice (more to taste), 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon water. This will give you the slight saucy consistency you want.

This recipe will make about a cup of spice mix.

Ingredients:

¼ cup chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon corn starch/potato starch/flour

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container. Can be kept for one to six months (depending on how airtight your container is).

Chimichurri Spice Blend

Chimichurri Spice

Chimichurri is a green sauce used for grilled meat, originally from Argentina.It is based on finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white or red wine vinegar. In Latin American countries outside of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, variations often focus on coriander leaf (cilantro) for flavor.

The origin of the name of the sauce is unclear. The Argentine gourmet Miguel Brascó claims that the word chimichurri originated when the British were captured after the British invasions of the Río de la Plata. The prisoners asked for condiment for their food mixing English, aboriginal and Spanish words. According to this story, che-mi-curry stands for “che mi salsa” (a rough translation is hey give me condiment or give me curry). The word then corrupted to chimichurri.

Another theory for the name of the sauce comes from the Basque settlers that arrived in Argentina as early as the 19th century. According to this theory, the name of the sauce comes from the Basque term tximitxurri, loosely translated as “a mixture of several things in no particular order”.

No matter where the word or sauce originated from, it is delicious as a rub over meats and fish or if you want to make it into a marinade or condiment sauce, whisk about ½ cup olive oil and 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar together with ¼ cup of the spice mix.

This recipe will make about ¾ cup

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons dried oregano leaves
3 tablespoons dried basil leaves
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried savoury leaves
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 to 2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl. Transfer to airtight container. Note: This spice mix can be made 1 month ahead. Store at room temperature.

Tu B’Shevat Treat – Seven Species Muffins

Seven Species MuffinsThis post is taken from Tori Avey, aka The Shiksa in the Kitchen. She has a great site that I encourage you to visit at www.toriavey.com.

Typical foods served on Tu B’Shevat include fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables. The almond trees bloom at this time of year, so almond-laden foods often make an appearance on the holiday table. Those who partake in a Tu B’Shevat Seder will eat at least 15 different types of fruits and vegetables. Chocolatey carob pods are sometimes included in the meal. It is also customary to include the Seven Species mentioned in the Torah: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.

Ingredients:

¾ cup golden raisins
½ cup dried figs*
½ cup dates*
1 ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup applesauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
2 eggs
⅓ cup light olive oil
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (¾ cup all-purpose + ¾ cup whole wheat flour will work too)
½ cup barley flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup pomegranate seeds
½ cup chopped walnuts
Nonstick cooking spray or paper muffin tin liners

Topping Ingredients (optional)

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

* To learn how to properly inspect these fruits, click here.

You will also need:

Blender or food processor, large mixing bowl, medium mixing bowl, standard muffin tin, ice cream scoop or small ladle, cooling rack

Directions:

  • If your raisins are particularly dry, cover them with water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat and let the raisins sit in the water to plump for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. If your figs have tough stems on them, remove them and discard.
  3. Roughly chop dates and figs. Set aside.
  4. Use a blender or food processor to blend together the following ingredients until very smooth: dates, figs, almond milk, applesauce, cinnamon and allspice.
  5. It may take a couple of minutes to blend all ingredients to a smooth consistency, depending on the power of your blender. The end result should be similar to the texture of apple butter or smooth fruit preserves. Set mixture aside.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, light olive oil, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, barley flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  8. Gently mix the pomegranate seeds into the dry mixture, making sure the seeds are well coated with flour.
  9. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the fruit mixture from the blender into the well.
    Add the egg mixture to the well.
  10. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the dry ingredients are just moistened and a lumpy batter forms. Do not over mix – if you do your muffins will turn out heavy and dense.
  11. Fold raisins and chopped walnuts into the muffin batter with a light-handed stir.
  12. Prep your muffin pan by spraying a small amount of non-stick cooking spray into the bottom of each muffin tin (not the sides), or use paper muffin cup liners. Divide batter equally into muffin cups, filling each cup to the top and mounding the surface slightly. I’ve found that it’s easiest to do this using an ice cream scoop.
  13. If you’d like to top the muffins, mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl using a fork. Sprinkle about a ½ tsp of cinnamon sugar mixture evenly across the surface of each muffin.
  14. Place muffins in the oven and immediately turn heat down to 375 degrees F. That extra heat blast at the beginning of the baking cycle will help to activate the baking powder and baking soda. Bake for 25-27 minutes until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let muffins cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and cooling on a rack. Do not let the muffins cool completely in the tin, they are quite moist and may stick to the tin if you leave them there too long. Serve warm.

Sauce 4 – Basic Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce 1This is a traditional tomato sauce that I have adjusted to reflect a kosher kitchen: meaning that the salt pork and ham bone have been removed, and substituted with an equal amount of olive oil and the use of a beef marrow bone. Should you wish to make the sauce pareve, or vegetarian, you can leave out the bone all together. This recipe will make about 4 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onions, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
4 cups veal or chicken stock
1 beef marrow bone
Kosher salt, to taste
Sugar, to taste
——– For Sachet: ——–
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried thyme
3-4 fresh parsley stems
8-10 black peppercorns, crushed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°F. Tie the sachet ingredients into a cheesecloth sack using a piece of kitchen twine. In a heavy, oven-safe Dutch oven, bring the olive oil up to temperature. Add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until the onion is translucent but not brown. Add the tomatoes, the beef bone (if using), the stock and the sachet. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer the pot to the oven. Simmer in the oven, partially covered, for two hours. Remove from oven. Remove sachet and bone and purée sauce in a blender or food processor until smooth, working in batches if necessary. Season to taste with Kosher salt and a small amount of sugar — just enough to cut the acid edge of the tomatoes. Serve hot. If not serving the sauce right away, keep it covered and warm until you’re ready to use it.

Creole SauceCreole Sauce

Creole sauce, also referred to as creole tomato sauce, and sauce piquant in New Orleans, is a Creole cuisine, Bahamian cuisine and New Orleans cuisine sauce made by sautéeing vegetables in butter and olive oil. It is used in the American south and in Bahamas. This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

2 cups tomato sauce (see recipe above)
¾ cup chopped onions
¾ cup chopped celery
½ cup diced green pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Zest of 1 lemon*
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sauté the onions, green pepper, celery and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, bay leaf, oregano and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf, season with the salt, pepper and cayenne and serve right away.

* click here for my tips on zesting lemons and other citrus.

spanish sauceSpanish Tomato Sauce

This tomato sauce with a spanish flair can also be refered to as a sofrito – which in Spanish cuisine, consists of garlic, onion, paprika, peppers, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil. While there is no paprika in this recipe, the additions of the the mushrooms and olives add a nice earthy and salty kick. This sauce is great on meats and poultry, or even just over pasta. This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

2 cups tomato sauce
½ cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup chopped onions
¼ cup diced green pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tabasco sauce (or another hot pepper sauce), to taste
½ cup olives (black or green), sliced

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sauté the onions, green pepper and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until the mushrooms are soft. Add the tomato sauce, bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Season with the salt, pepper, Tabasco and olives, then serve right away.

Horseradish Vinaigrette

Horseradish DressingIngredients:

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 ½ teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped*
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped*
⅓ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil

Directions:

In a bowl, whisk together the horseradish, mustard, garlic, honey, salt and pepper. Add the vinegar, and then gradually whisk in the oil, until blended. Add the parsley and thyme, and mix to combine. Let the dressing sit at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to combine. Mix well before using.

* Please click here to learn how to properly clean fresh parsley and tarragon.

Red Raspberry Dressing

Red Raspberry DressingIngredients:

2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar ᶲ
1 shallot, chopped
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup olive oil
½ cup frozen raspberries*

Directions;

In a blender, add the raspberry vinegar, shallot, honey, mustard and salt, then pulse to combine. While the blender is running, gradually drizzle in the oil. Add the raspberries and pulse to combine. Let the dressing sit at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to mix.

* Click here to see COR’s stance on raspberries.
ᶲ If you can’t find raspberry vinegar or don’t have time to make your own, you can substitute apple cider vinegar or red or white wine vinegar.

If you want to make your own raspberry vinegar, here’s how:

Ingredients:

2 cups frozen raspberries*
1 cup good-quality vinegar (like red or white wine)

Directions:

Fill a clean pint jar with whole raspberries, pressing down slightly to fit in jar snugly. Add enough vinegar to cover raspberries. Cover mixture and let macerate at room temperature for 1 week. Set a strainer over a medium bowl; line with a double layer of cheesecloth. Pour vinegar mixture through strainer. Gather corners of cheesecloth and twist to release juices just until thicker juices begin to strain from cheesecloth. Discard cheesecloth with solids. Pour vinegar into a clean 8-ounce bottle or jar. Cover; chill up to 6 months.