Today was pretty much the ideal early spring day. It is hard to believe that I made this sauce when we were completely snowed in less than a week ago. I wanted to make something that could simmer on the stove for a few hours while we both worked from home. I love feeling of being snowed in and knowing that things are moving more slowly outside, if only for a day.
I had most of the ingredients, with a few changes, for a somewhat traditional Bolognese sauce. I used bison meat because I always have some in the freezer and whole grain pasta. Mario Batali’s recipe served as an inspiration. I wasn’t originally going to add bacon to this, but I only had about a tablespoon of olive oil and needed more fat. In the end, I really loved the subtle smokiness that the bacon added. This was a really great hearty sauce. Perfect for what may be the last wintery for day for awhile.
Spaghetti with Bison Bolognese
Inspired by Mario Batali’s Spaghetti Bolognese
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 chopped carrots
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 slices of bacon. finely chopped
1 pound ground bison meat
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp oregano
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 28oz can pureed tomatoes
½ cup water
1 cup lowfat milk
Heat the olive oil and add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook for about five minutes and add the bacon. Cook until most of the bacon fat has rendered out of the meat. Add the bison meat. When the meat is almost completely cooked through add the garlic and cook for about a minute more. Add oregano, red pepper, salt and black pepper and can on tomatoes. Stir to combine and add additional ½ cup of water and cup of milk. Simmer covered on low for at least 2 hours.
I am just under the wire in sending this dish over to the Second Annual Festa Italiana hosted by of the Marie of Proud Italian Cook and Mary Ann of Finding La Dolce Vida. They have already posted some amazing Italian dishes that you can check out here and here!
I have made many loaves of no knead bread and decided it was time to try no knead pizza dough. The concept and the method are pretty much the same. Shaping a blob of wet dough into a pizza shape is a little more challenging than dropping into a pot. I followed the great step by step instruction at Bakers Banter that advised pre-baking the dough. I had a few air pockets that I had to pop. J was laughing as I appeared to be beating the pizza back into the oven and into submission. I put a lot of toppings on this, but trust me this works.
Here what’s on the pizza:
Black Mission Fig Jam
Caramelized Balsamic Onions (2 sliced onions, cook over medium low heat with a tbs of olive oil until the onions soften and darken slightly, add 1 clove chopped garlic and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, cook for 1 minute and cool)
Arugula Salad (2 cups of arugula, 1 tbsp freh lemon juice, 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 kosher salt, 1/4 tsp ground pepper)
Prosciutto di Parma (1/4 pound thinly sliced, You only need a little so buy the good stuff.)
For the first layer, I spread the fig jam in a thin layer like a sauce. On top of the jam, I added the balsamic caramelized onions and goat cheese. I put a small amount of the lightly dressed arugula on each slice and draped the prosciutto over the top. In one bite, you get the sweetness of the bottom layer, the crispy acidity of the arugula and the mellow savory prosciutto. It’s a lot of flavor, but it’s the right flavors.
Lobster mac and cheese. I just love the thought of it, my two favorite things together. Despite the fact that cheese and seafood are tricky together, this recipe really works. I have wanted to make it since I saw it on Michael Smith’s Chef at Home series. Lobster is obviously expensive and this is a great way to stretch it. I probably used about ¾ pound of lobster meat in this. Although the recipe says it serves 6, I think this could easily serve 8-10 people. Even with only adding half the amount of cheese, this was incredibly rich. Next time I make this, and there will absolutely be a next time, I may serve this in individual little ramekins.
I made minimal adjustments that are noted below in parentheses.
Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
By Michael Smith, Chef at Home
1 box of penne pasta (I used elbows)
1 sticks of butter
2 x garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of white wine (I didn’t have any and used ¼ dry sherry)
1 can of evaporated milk
4 cups of milk
1 tbsp of paprika
2 tbsp of Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
8 oz of cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz of Monterrey jack cheese, grated (I omitted this)
Salt and pepper
2 x 1 lb. lobsters, cooked and shelled (I used about ¾ pound cooked lobster meat)
2 cups of breadcrumbs (I used 1 cup of panko)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Drop the pasta into boiling, salted water and cook until almost tender, about 12 minutes. Make sure the water tastes like a day at the beach, as the pasta will absorb it and become properly seasoned. The pasta should not be fully cooked; it should have just a touch of firmness when tasted. Drain well.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and cook for several minutes until it softens. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth paste forms. Continue cooking for a few more minutes, in effect toasting the mixture and adding flavour to it. Slowly stir in the wine and continue mixing until smooth and then add both milks, mixing well again. Continue whisking until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Add paprika, Dijon, cayenne, salt, pepper and cheeses and stir until melted. Roughly chop lobster meat and add to the cheese mixture along with the pasta. Stir well to combine and season with salt and pepper. Pour into a 9-inch by 13-inch ovenproof casserole or similar dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake until the mixture is heated through and the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 30 minutes. (I topped it with chives before serving.)
I think that pot pies are so homey and comforting to have in the winter. They are a little time consuming but really worth it. Chicken pot pies are J’s favorite. I am kind of indifferent to chicken, but I just added mushrooms to this and all was well in the world. It may be a little strange but the frozen peas in this were also really good. Have frozen peas always been so delicious, and I didn’t know it? The best part of pot pies are of course the crust. Next time I make these, I would probably drape a little more pastry over the sides even though it is a little decadent with all that butter.
For the crust, I used Martha Stewart’s trusty pate brisee recipe. You can find it here.
4 boneless chicken breasts
4 diced yukon gold potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 clove chopped garlic
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sherry
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp fresh dill
2 tbsp heavy cream
salt and pepper
You will need 5-6 heat proof bowls
Boil lightly salted water in a medium sized pot. Boil the potatoes until they are slightly tender but not fully cooked. Reserve the potatoes and poach the chicken. Dice the chicken and reserve.
In a large pot heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil, saute one onion until it is translucent, add carrots, celery. Saute until the vegetables are slightly tender, add the mushrooms and garlic. Add the butter and cook until melted and add the flour. Stir to coat the vegetables. The mixture will thicken quickly, add the sherry and stir. Add the chicken stock, potatoes, chicken, bay leaves and frozen peas and salt and pepper. Heat through and bring to a simmer. Stir in the fresh herbs and cream. Turn off the heat add allow it to cool before ladling into the heat proof bowls.
Roll out the pastry dough and cut into circles at least 1/2 inch larger than the bowl’s circumference. Brush the sides of the bowl with egg wash and place the dough over the top. Make a few slits in the top for heat to escape. Brush the top of the pastry with the remaining egg wash and bake at 375 until it is golden brown.
My mushroom obsession has been well established here. I put them on pizzas and in soup, lasagnas, you name it. I love this pasta dish because the flavors of the mushrooms are really enhanced by the other flavors. The shitakes cooked in the bacon fat were amazing. Of course anything cooked in bacon fat is amazing, but this really brought out the woodsy smokiness of the mushrooms. The crisp bacon also adds a nice crunch to the texture of the pasta. The mushroom mixture would also be really good over simple roast chicken breasts. You could pair other mushrooms with this but the shitakes are essential for their flavor, and the stems are used to make the broth. They are very woody, and it pains me to waste them. So, I decided it was time to incorporate them in a recipe. I thought they added another layer of mushroom flavor to the sauce.
4 slices of bacon
2 tbsp olive oil
3.5 oz. shitake mushrooms sliced, reserve the stems
8 oz. cremini mushrooms
2 Portobello mushroom caps, sliced into bite sized pieces
1 garlic clove finely minced
3 tbsp good quality sherry
1 bay leaf
2 cups of water
3 tbsp crème fraiche
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper
¾ pound of spaghetti
Cook the bacon in a large pot or saucepan over medium high heat until crisp, drain on paper towel. Add additional olive oil (the exact amount needed will vary depending on the fattiness of the bacon, the bottom of the pan should be covered), add the mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms time to brown on each side and add salt and pepper.
In a small separate pot bring water, shitake mushroom stems and a bay leaf to a boil. Allow to reduce until you have about a ½ cup of liquid. Strain and reserve. In another large pot, bring pasta water to a boil and cook until al dente.
Add the chopped garlic to the mushrooms and cook for a minute. Add the sherry and reserved mushroom broth. Allow to reduce slightly and add the crème fraiche and taste for salt and pepper. I found I really needed to add a lot of pepper, about ½ tsp and 3/4 tsp of salt. Remove from the heat and add the drained spaghetti to the pot and chopped fresh dill and reserved bacon. Use tongs to combine. Serve immediately with additional chopped dill and bacon if desired.
I went to the grocery store yesterday for a major shopping. We were out of just about everything and it made everything seem appealing to me. They happened to have some great looking ground lamb. I immediately thought of this lamb kebab recipe that I had seen on Jamie at Home. J gave me the cookbook of the same name for Christmas. I just love his show, and I never thought Jamie was hot until I saw his amazing garden…yeah, I have issues. I love when he randomly cooks over a small fire in his yard. Anyway, when I got home, I realized that I actually didn’t have many of the ingredients for this particular recipe (including skewers). So, I turned the meat into burgers with a spice blend. I am not sure how the flavor of these compares to the original (I have never had sumac), but these were delicious. I cooked them in a cast iron pan on high until they were about medium, and they developed a perfect crispness to the outside. Although I added a good amount of seasoning to these, the flavor of the lamb really came through.
I served these with a light lemon sauce and roasted red peppers on a whole wheat flatbread with a wedge of lemon. The lamb is very rich, and I found the squeeze of fresh lemon juice was really essential. I think that next time a make these I will add a bit a bit of fresh greens dressed in lemon juice.
Spiced Lamb Burgers (inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Lamb Kebabs)
1 pound ground Lamb
½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 finely minced garlic clove
Zest of one lemon
½ tsp paprika
1 tbsp fresh thyme
¼ finely chopped rosemary
Combine the ingredients using your hands and shape into four burgers. Heat a dry cast iron skillet on high. (I covered the pan when I flipped the burgers to help speed the cooking time). After removing from the pan, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Lemon Yogurt Sauce
¼ tsp finely minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Pinch of finely chopped rosemary
¼ cup plain yogurt
Salt and fresh pepper
I have been mushroom obsessed lately. I love pretty much every kind of mushroom, but lately shitakes have been particularly appealing to me. They can be a bit expensive but I find that I don’t really need that many of them to add a lot of flavor, especially in soup. I had never cooked maitake mushrooms before, and I added one to this soup as well. The flavor may have been too delicate to taste it distinctly with the woodsy shitakes. Next time, I may try it on its own in a delicate broth. This soup cooks very quickly and is great for a weekend lunch.
1 maitake mushroom
½ cup sliced shitake mushroom caps
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
2 chopped cloves of garlic
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp honey
½ tsp ground pepper
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
2 quarts chicken stock
2 bundles of long Chinese egg noodles (they usually come in a package of 4)
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Saute the mushroom in about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. The mushrooms will shrink up considerably. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for about a minute. Pour the chicken broth over the mushrooms and bring to a boil. Add the celery, carrots, sesame oil, soy sauce, pepper and honey. Return to a boil and add the noodles. Cook until the noodles are soft and taste for salt.
Sometimes, I just really enjoy my own cooking. There are things that I can get nostalgic for, like my grandmother’s eggplant parmigiana or my mom’s onion soup. But, I really love my lasagna. I make several different versions but lately, I have been obsessed with mushrooms and wanted to incorporate them. Fresh mushrooms roasted in the oven shrink up a bit and just get more mushroomy. It is key to save a handful for the top of the lasagna to get this effect. If I didn’t use a really garlicky homemade sauce, I would add some roasted garlic to the spinach. For a lasagna, this is actually pretty light and it is full of good-for-you veggies and whole wheat pasta.
1 pound whole wheat lasagna noodles
3 cups tomato sauce (I used a very garlicky homemade sauce)
2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
1 package defrosted and drained frozen spinach
1 cup part-skim ricotta
3 tbsp goat cheese
½ tsp garlic powder
fresh mozzarella cheese (about 1/4 pound)
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Place lasagna noodles in a large bowl and pour boiling water over the top. Allow to stand for about five minutes. Mix the ricotta, goat cheese, egg, pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Layer sauce, pasta, ricotta cheese, spinach and mushrooms (reserve some mushrooms for the top). You should be able to get three layers depending on the size of the dish. Top with fresh mozzarella, mushrooms and grated parmesan. Bake at 350 covered with tin foil for at least an hour. I like to slightly brown the top and set the oven to broil for the last 2 minutes with it uncovered.
This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was traditional pizza which is kind of funny because I have been making flatbread pizza by modifying last month’s recipe for lavash crackers. This dough was very easy to work with and shape even though I used about half whole wheat flour. I failed on getting a picture of me tossing the dough but I honestly didn’t get much height. I topped one pizza with tomato sauce, a bit of goat cheese and fresh mozzarella. I’m a little obsessed with goat cheese on pizza. It really adds something to the flavor of fresh mozzarella. I topped the other with sautéed onions, fresh thyme and goat cheese. When it came out of the oven, I added sliced pears and a slightly sweet balsamic vinegar reduction (I added a little brown sugar and reduced the vinegar over low heat). This was sooo good. It was one of those combinations that just tastes like it was meant to be when you bite into it.
~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~
Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).
4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled – FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast – FOR GF use 2 tsp
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar – FOR GF use agave syrup
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting
I am late on my Barefoot Bloggers post for last week, but I actually made this and just never got around to writing about it. I stayed really close to the recipe on this, I just left out the pancetta. This was really good and rich. The saffron gave this a surprising amount of flavor (it was worth the trip to Trader Joe’s). I would definitely make this again. It was really easy if you can make the time to stir it.
Below is Ina Garten’s recipe from the Food Network
* 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
* 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
* 2 ounces pancetta, diced
* 1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
* 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 1 teaspoon saffron threads
* 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.
In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan. Mix well and serve.