Sometimes you want it, need it, have to have it. Even though it is decadent, you won’t rest easy until the deed is done. It will consume your thoughts, until you consume it. And you can go out of the house to get it, or you can get it at home. No, silly, I am talking about Penne al a Vodka, the ultimate cream-based pasta dish.
Talk of eating Spaghetti Bolognese has been going on in my house for days.
My boys are reading a book called The Uglies in which a character named Tally goes on a treacherous journey and packs 41 packets of instant Spaghetti Bolognese.
They have only two questions: “Mom, what is spaghetti Bolognese? And can we eat some RIGHT NOW?”
I didn’t remind them I made it twice last fall—a delicious recipe from Epicurious that everyone liked—but there was nothing to help them remember it. It was eaten, swooned over, and, no sooner than the dish hit the sink, immediately forgotten.
But thanks to this book, The Uglies, it has been an obsession all week.
Now admittedly, my pantry and fridge are what we can call “well stocked.”
But when it was done, I realized that what I’d made tasted just as good as, and maybe better than, the original, complicated recipe—and I didn’t have to spend 2 hours in the kitchen stirring.
The first thing you should do is open a bottle of wine. Maybe this is how you start cooking every meal anyway. An inexpensive red would do (head to Trader Joe’s), something appropriate for a Thursday no-company sort of night.
You are going to use only a little bit of wine for the recipe, so pour yourself a glass—might as well get this weeknight non-party rolling. Besides, it will make helping with homework a little easier.
Take a sip and you may notice immediately that the kids’ voices seem softer and further away. And by voices I mean whining, crying, screaming, fighting. If this isn’t your household skip ahead to the next paragraph. If it is your house, pour a little more wine—you only need 3 tablespoons for this recipe. By the way, I’m not saying if it is my house or not.
Begin cooking now. Put up a pot of water for the pasta. You can use any kind of long noodle you have. Trader Joe’s has taglietelle, which I love, but feel free to use linguini or spaghetti, and when the water boils, salt the water well.
Once the stress of your day starts to melt away, you will begin to hone in on the smell of the olive oil: green, deep; the onions: sweet, savory; the garlic: buttery, warm; the thyme: earthy, strong. Brown your ground chicken (or any ground meat you’d like), add the luscious tomato sauce (see previous my blog, Getting Sauced), and simmer away.
When this comes together, the sauce simmering simultaneously with the pasta boiling, it will transform your Thursday night supper into something special. So, pour some more wine for you, put out extra grated parm for the kids, and enjoy.
And you never know what treasures your kids’ book hold.
Thursday Night Chicken Bolognese
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
1. In a large pan, heat the oil and cook the onion over medium-high heat until tender.
I am a salad lover, it’s true. But admittedly, no matter how delicious I think the veggies are, I am really in it for the dressing. The greens are merely a vehicle to get the dressing from plate to mouth, the best way, second only to a spoon.
I have a friend, whom I will call “C,” who is very wise, and also pretty healthy. She loves to hike, bike, and camp, and goes out of her way to make sure her meals are healthful and beautiful, flavorful and simple. C also goes out of her way to make sure that lots of children in our community eat well by connecting them to local, organic, fresh ingredients, and instilling in them a deep appreciation for what comes from the earth. And she also has a talent for this salad, amongst other things.
Over the years I have tried to duplicate C’s salad, and although she has shared the list of ingredients, if without exact amounts (a little of this, a little of that), it just wasn’t the same. The juice of a lime (what size?), grapeseed oil (I tried canola and olive—I doubted her and am humbled), a little salt, and some nice spoonfuls of sugar. Those things combined with tender lettuce, thinly sliced cukes, bits of cilantro, some creamy avocado, and there you have it—light, crunchy, soft, fresh, and very, very green.
Start with the softest most buttery greens you can find: Bibb or Boston lettuces are ideal. Second best would be red or green leaf lettuce, if you must, but try to steer clear of any crunchy or spicy greens such as romaine, or arugula. Not that it would be bad, but it would counter the delicateness of the dressing.
After much tinkering, here is as close as I can come to C’s Sublime Lime Salad:
· Juice of one large fresh lime, ¼ cup (pulp in, seeds out)
1. Assemble the lettuce, cukes, cilantro, and avocado in a salad bowl.
Here it is folks, up to the minute breaking news from right here in Aura’s Test Kitchen and pomegranatesandhoney.blogspot.com. I’ve been in the kitchen trying to reinvent Passover. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it can be done. No more matzo flavored chocolate cake. No more weird tasting egg-puffed chiffon cakes. No more getting dessert out of a can.
Chocolate Meringue Almond Bark
Blah. Blah. Blah.
2. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl and cream together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each one is added. Add vanilla extract, orange juice and zest, mixing well. Add flour, baking powder and salt, and mix until a soft dough forms and all ingredients are incorporated, making the softest, most beautiful dough you have even seen.
3. On a floured board, using a rolling pin, roll out a portion of the dough to approximately ¼ inch thick. If dough is too soft or too sticky sprinkle a little extra flour on the board and on the rolling pin. With a three-inch cookie cutter, cut out circles. Place a teaspoon of filling in center of each circle.
5. To shape, fold up the left and right sides and pinch it together into a corner. Fold up the third side and pinch the last two corners to make a complete triangle.
6. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cool before eating if you can.
I get a little restless this time of year. Winter has me longing for things I can’t have or do, such as: spending warm, late nights outdoors sipping iced tea while the kids play ball; leaving the house with my hair wet without freezing half to death; having a backyard full of herbs and tomatoes at my disposal. *Sigh.* That last one is the one that always gets me.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 6 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
- · 1 teaspoon each: dried oregano, basil, and marjoram
- · 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- · 1-28 ounce can whole plum tomatoes packed in juice
- · 1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- · 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- · ½ cup red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
- · 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
We live in a world where green+leafy=good, while white+ fluffy=bad. So although cake, cookies, bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes are quite possibly the most delicious things a person could eat, they have a reputation for being less than healthy. In fact, I have quite a few friends that hold up a hand in classic “stop” position and say, “No carbs.” Well, hi, my name is Aura, and I’m a carb-a-holic (but no need to pity another’s dietary choices.)
That’s right, you heard me. I wouldn’t in a million years share these with Cookie Monster. Now, before you jump to conclusions, wondering what kind of person would say such a thing, I can explain.
1 ½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temp.
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg, at room temp.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup assorted chocolate chips (see above)
1 cup chopped nuts, optional (pecans are my fave!)
When itcomes to recipes in cookbooks I am like a talent scout and can spot a starrecipe from a mile away. No, really. I can pick a recipe out of a cookbook like nobody’s business. And this recipe is a showstopper. You can see for yourself:
Admit it, you are rolling your eyes at the title of this blog entry. But that is because you haven’t tried this recipe. Yet.
Next, get a pitcher, preferably with a rounded bottom for easy stirring, and if you are going to double or triple the recipe get a very large pitcher or even a punch bowl to make this in.
Last, you will be tempted to throw in other fruit, perhaps at someone else’s recommendation (like the checkout person at the supermarket), but try to refrain from altering perfection. Although at the end, feel free to add a splash of sparkling water if you want something fizzy and festive.
This summer I went to Israel, lucky me. I stayed in the luxurious King Solomon Hotel.
And while my travel mates were gorging themselves on the chocolate rugelach for breakfast (and who can blame them), I was madly, wildly in love with the shakshuka.
So I put the chocolate rugelach in my purse for later (my grandma would be proud), but for breakfast, only shakshuka!
1. In a medium to large sized skillet warm the olive oil and the garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until garlic is sizzling. Make sure to keep it moving in the pan and do not let it brown.
“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Brillat-Savarin
Ahem, hello?*tap*tap* Is anyone out there? *tap*tap* Is this microphone even on?
What is there to say that hasn’t already been said about food?
We are defined by the choices we make. And as Americans in the 21st century we are lucky enough to have choices. We eat like kings all day, every day, all the time.
Maybe how we define ourselves as eaters also defines us in other ways too: vegetarian, vegan, organic, low-fat, kosher. Maybe you don’t eat dairy. Or gluten. Or carbs. Or pork. Or any red meat. Or processed foods. Or foods that have travelled more than 100 miles to get to your kitchen. Or maybe you eat everything (if so, please come over for dinner immediately).