February 28, 2009

Black Pepper & Garlic Pizza Dough




Ingredients:
1 cup warm water
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 oz active dry yeast
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon freshly coarsely ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil

coarse-grain cornmeal for dusting
olive oil for greasing the bowl
mozzarella cheese and/or a combination of mozzarella, asiagio and Parmesan
assorted toppings (pictured: green olives stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, onions and pepperoni)
pizza sauce

Directions:

Pour warm water into a small bowl. Add sugar, and sprinkle in yeast. Stir the mixture until the yeast is dissolved. Let yeast stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. At the same time, soak the garlic in the olive oil. Microwave the oil (with the garlic) for 15 seconds after at least 10 minutes of soaking. Discard the garlic or use it in the sauce.

Place the flour the bowl of a stand mixer. Add salt, olive oil, black pepper and yeast. Using the dough hook and mix until the dough becomes a fairly smooth ball. At this point you can fold the dough onto itself a couple of times if you'd like. Coat the inside of a medium bowl with additional olive oil, and place the dough in the bowl, smooth side up. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 40 minutes. Remove plastic wrap, and use your fist to push down on the center of the dough. Fold the dough in half four or five times. Turn dough over, folded-side down, cover with plastic wrap, and return to the warm spot to rise again. Wait until the dough has doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500. Place 16-inch (or larger) pizza stone on lowest shelf position, for 30 minutes.


Punch down the dough and transfer to a clean surface. Divide the dough in half, and knead each half four or five times into a ball. Place one of the dough balls back in the oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Lightly flour a clean surface, place the dough ball on top, pat into a flattened circle, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let rest 5 minutes*. Begin to flatten and push the dough evenly out from the center until it measures about 7 to 8 inches in diameter. Leave a 1/2 inch border of unflatted dough around the edges of the circle. Lift the dough off the surface, and center it on top of your fists. Rotate and stretch the dough, moving your fists until they are 6 to 8 inches apart and the dough is several inches larger. Then place your fists under the inside of the outer edge, and continue to stretch the dough until it reaches about 12 inches in diameter. The dough will drape down over your forearms. Start over if the dough tears or gets to thin. Do this carefully, preserving the raised edge. Sprinkle cornmeal all over the surface of a pizza peel or parchment paper.

Place the pizza dough into a circle on top of the cornmeal-dusted peel. Distribute pizza sauce on the dough, leaving the 1/2 inch of raised dough bare. Sprinkle with cheese and toppings. Slightly tilt the peel (or a parchment paper covered upside down baking sheet), and place the front tip of peel on the back side of the stone. Slide the pizza off the peel (or slide the pizza with the parchment paper off of the baking sheet), centering it on the stone as best you can. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling. Repeat with remaining dough.

IMG_0053

I like to cool the pizza for a minute on a wire rack before serving. This helps the cheese set up a tiny bit so it doesn't pull off when you slice it. Using a thick sauce helps with that as well.

*Even thought it is tempting, especially if you are hungry, don't skip this step, it really helps the dough maintain elasticity so it doesn't tear when you stretch it.


My thoughts:
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I've been craving pizza for days! I was tempted to pick up some pies from Baltimore staple Matthew's Pizzeria but thought it might be more fun to make my own. It has been a while since I've made homemade pizza but it was worth the effort. I think that this dough was my most successful so far. In the past we've mixed the ingredients in the food processor then kneaded by hand but this time I decided just to dump all of the ingredients in the Kitchenaid and see what happened. The result: a perfectly elastic and tasty dough in less time with less effort. The garlic infused oil and the black pepper add some flavor the crust without being over powering, it sort of just accents the flavor of the sauce. It really was the best pizza dough I've ever made.

February 26, 2009

Zesty Pizza Sauce



Ingredients:
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper
salt

Directions:
In a large saucepan, saute the onions, red pepper flakes and garlic, in olive oil, 3-5 minutes or until fragrant. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, remaining spices and stir. Cook 30-40 minutes on low or until thickened to the point when you run a spoon across the bottom of the pan "parting" the sauce and virtually no liquid trickles into the middle. The thicker the sauce, the less likely your pizza will be soggy, even if your crust is very thin.

My thoughts:
I know that some people are tempted to use bottled pizza sauce but homemade is so easy (and cheap!) to make, there is really no reason not to. It does take a bit of time but it is mainly hands off and really not much more time than it takes to preheat the oven and assemble your toppings. If you are making homemade crust, make this while the dough is going through the second rise. It is fine if it is closer to room temperature than hot when you ladle it on the pizza.

Refrigerate any leftovers for a future pizza or calzone or toss with some hot pasta for a quick meal or snack.

February 24, 2009

Fiery Jamaican-Influenced Chicken Chili



Ingredients:
1 lb ground chicken
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 chipotle chiles in adobe, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 onion, diced
15 oz canned dark red kidney beans, drained
15 oz canned black beans, drained
15 oz diced fire roasted tomatoes
10 oz diced tomatoes with green chile*
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Pickapeppa Sauce**
1 teaspoon dried summer savory
1 teaspoon dried chervil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon jerk seasoning
1 teaspoon hot Mexican chili powder
1 teaspoon ground jalapeno
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 teaspoon bourbon
1 teaspoon mesquite liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon smokehouse ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon sea salt



Directions:
In a skillet, lightly brown the ground chicken. Drain off any excess fat-there might not be any as ground chicken is very low in fat, don't be alarmed. Place all ingredients (including the chicken!) in the slow cooker and gently stir to distribute the spices. Place on low for 6-8 hours. You could also turn it up to high for the last hour or so if you want to speed things up a bit. Stir before serving.

topping suggestions:
tortilla chips
sour cream
chopped onion
sharp cheddar

*AKA Ro-tel. Or make your own by combining 2 oz canned green chiles with 8 oz diced tomato.

**Available online or in the hot sauce section of your local market.

My thoughts:
I set out to make a simple smoky chicken chili but when I was lifting out the spices, I decided at the last minute to add some Jamaican inspired flavors in as well. It really worked! They gave new depth to a traditional spicy favorite without being overpowering. Ground chicken really absorbs flavors more than ground beef or even pork. Every bite is as flavorful as the last, no bland bits of chicken here!

I served this with Northern-style cornbread.

February 22, 2009

Spicy Peanut Sauce




Ingredients:
2/3 cup pork broth, at room temperature
1/4 cup lightly salted roasted peanuts (see note)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1 green onion, green parts only, chopped
additional lightly salted roasted peanuts, chopped



Directions:

Note: I made this using my very powerful VitaMix with is able to turn nuts into a smooth paste. If using a regular blender, substitute about 3 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter for the 1/4 cup peanuts.

In a mixer, pulse the peanuts, garlic and oil until smooth. Add the broth, fish sauce and garlic sauce, pulsing after each addition. Pulse until very smooth. If using a VitaMix, continue mix on high until the mixture is hot-steam will come out of the top when you remove the lid- about 1-2 minutes. If using a less powerful blender, pour the sauce into a small sauce pan to heat through. Allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the green onion and chopped peanuts.

I used it on steamed Chinese eggplant, but I think it has potential as a (slightly thin) dipping sauce and I bet it would be great drizzled over green salads. Many possibilities for this one.

Yield: a little more than 1 cup



My thoughts:
Oh my is this a great sauce. It is rare that I am so taken aback about how good it tastes. I am not normally a big peanut or even, sauce fan but yum. So worth whipping up today. Or right this very second. It was actually just something I threw together for a quick dinner side dish but was so taken with it, I just had to write down what I did and share it with all of you. It is just so lovely and fresh tasting. Much more special than the simple ingredients list would lead you to believe. The peanuts are perfectly balanced by the spice so you don't get that "watered down peanut butter" effect that a lot of peanut sauces seem to give. My VitaMix (this sounds like a commercial, but seriously...) got it so smooth that I could not believe that it was made with whole peanuts. AND it heated it up in like 2 minutes. Freakishly good and easy. I think it would be just as good made in a regular blender (not a food processor, you want it to be smooth) but I'd skip straight to using prepared peanut butter. A little bit of coarsely chopped peanuts is fine but you don't want a thick or gloppy sauce. Anyway, while it was divine tossed with some steamed eggplant and roasted garlic, I am already plotting other ways to use up the leftovers.


It is also easy to vegan-ize, just use vegetable broth, leave out the fish paste and maybe add a dash of soy sauce or tamari instead.

February 20, 2009

Chicken-Spinach Meatball Pasta Bake



Ingredients:
1 lb shells, cooked to package instructions
10-12 oz ricotta
4 oz sliced fresh mozzarella

sauce:
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
28 oz canned ground tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano or Italian herb mix
2 tablespoons olive oil


meatballs:
1 lb ground chicken
1/2 cup frozen spinach, defrosted
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano or Italian herb mix
1 egg or 2 egg yolks
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs
salt
pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix together the cheese mixture ingredients. Set aside. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Saute the onion and garlic until softened and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and spices and simmer on low. In a bowl, knead together all of the meatball ingredients. Form into small meatballs. Place on a broiler pan and broil, turning once, until pretty much cooked through. Place the meatballs in the sauce and continue to simmer about 5 minutes. Toss the cooked pasta and the sauce together. Pour half of the mixture in a 13x9 baking dish. Dot with ricotta. Top with remaining sauce. Bake, covered in foil, for about 10 minutes, then remove the foil and cook an additional 10 minutes or until bubbly.





My thoughts:
This a meal that was sprung from the need to use up some ingredients. I picked up some ground chicken for 99 cents that on its sell-by date and had bit of ricotta and mozzarella leftover from other recipes that needed to be used up. I also had a bag of herbs that a friend of the family brought back from Italy that I hadn't tried yet. I don't know much Italian but I am fairly confident that the mix includes oregano, basil, summer savory, and thyme. I was really happy with the end result. The meatballs and sauce had a ton of flavor and the leftovers were just was tasty as the meal was fresh. Perfect for a cozy evening at home.

February 18, 2009

Rachel's Sweet & Spicy Hot Mustard




Ingredients:
2 2/3 cups water
3/4 cups white wine vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup tarragon vinegar
1/3 cup brown mustard seeds
1/3 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup dry mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon malt syrup
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced



Directions:
Pour the dry mustard, mustard seeds and 1 cup of water into a nonreactive bowl. Refrigerate overnight.

soakedseeds

The next day, pour the remaining water, onion, garlic vinegars, sugar and spices in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Continue to boil until the mixture has reduced by about a quarter. Strain into a food processor or blender (I used my new Vita-Mix-it is amazing!)add the mustard seed mixture and blend until fairly smooth. Stir in malt syrup and pulse once. Decant into jars.


Yield: about 3 1/2 cups


My thoughts:

Homemade mustard is not something one sees to much of these days. While there are a lot of wonderful varieties available in any grocery store there is something special about making your own. Not to mention impressive, mustard is one of those things that no one really thinks of making at home. This particular mustard has some sweet notes but is also wickedly spicy. I wish someone had told me how easy mustard was to make! I just dived in and was overwhelmed by how great it turned out. I added my favorite vinegars and spices and ended up with my dream mustard.

This homemade mustard keeps for months in a regular jar, no canning or fancy equipment needed, just stick it in the refrigerator just like any other mustard you'd buy at the store.


Note: this recipe can easily and successfully doubled if you want to bottle it and give it as gifts.

February 16, 2009

Mongolian Pork




Ingredients:
4 lb pork tenderloin
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch chunk ginger, grated
1 onion, cut into thin slices
1 shallot, grated
1/2 cup broth
1/2 cup light soy sauce*
1/2 cup shaoxing cooking wine
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce*
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons black vinegar
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon five spice powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black sesame oil
1 teaspoon Maggi Seasoning

to serve:
cooked rice
chopped scallions

Directions:
Place all ingredients in the slow cooker. Give it a quick stir. Cover and cook on low for about 5 hours or until the pork is completely cooked through. Slice thinly then return to the slow cooker on high for 10 minutes before serving. Serve over white rice garnished with chopped scallions.

*I have been using Wan Ja Shan sauces to great success. They are easy to find and have a tasty, authentic flavor. They even have organic soy sauces!

My thoughts:
This my interpretation of a take-out favorite, Mongolian Pork. I think Mongolian Beef might be a bit more common but one of our favorite Chinese take-out places has a yummy Mongolian pork. Mongolian pork (or beef or chicken) isn't strictly authentic Chinese food, it is one of these Chinese-American take-out concoctions. Generally a rather saucy vegetable-deficient meat dish it is salty-sweet and wonderfully addictive. I think the pork is a little lighter tasting than beef and making it in the slow cooker is a breeze. If you pop some rice in the rice cooker as I did, the whole meal takes maybe 5 minutes of hands on time. Faster than actual take-out!


February 13, 2009

Double Chocolate Ginger Cake





Ingredients:
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup uncrystallized candied ginger*, chopped
½ cup cocoa
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup canola oil
1 ¼ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour one bundt pan. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Beat in the buttermilk, oil, vanilla and eggs until well combined. Fold in ginger and chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes on a wire rack, then remove from the pan. Cool completely before slicing.



*You could also use crystallized candied ginger but the end result will be a bit sweeter.

My thoughts:
For this recipe I took a very traditional, old-fashioned buttermilk and cocoa chocolate cake added chocolate chips to up the chocolate flavor and ginger to add an unexpected spiciness. The result? An unusual and rather adult cake that is equally approprate to serve for a special occasion and as a midweek pick-me-up.

February 11, 2009

Luscious Homemade Caramels




Ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup dark rum

additional sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:
Thoroughly grease 2 loaf pans or one 8x8 inch baking dish. Bring cream, butter, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan, whisking occasionally to dissolve the salt, then remove from heat and set aside. Cook the rum, corn syrup, and sugar in a heavy saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture is a light golden caramel. Carefully add the cream mixture and simmer, stirring frequently, until candy reaches 245 degrees(soft-ball stage). If you were to drop a bit of the mixture into a cup of cold water it should form a soft but obvious ball at this stage. The ball should be about the texture you'd want the final caramel to be. Pour into prepared pan(s) and allow to cool. Slice into 1x1 inch squares. Sprinkle with additional salt if desired.


My thoughts:
These are particularly decadent, creamy and flavorful caramels. Caramels are impressive to give but fairly easy to make, the trick is not to over cook the caramel so it becomes hard. Of course, if you do overcook it, you can just say you meant to make toffee and dip it in chocolate.

February 09, 2009

Tangerine Cupcakes



Ingredients:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup tangerine juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
zest of 1 tangerine


tangerine frosting and candied tangerine slices


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease and flour 6 wells in a cupcake pan. In a large bowl, cream the butter, zest and sugar. Add the egg, mix thoroughly. Add flour, baking powder and salt to the butter mixture. Add the milk and juice to the rest of the batter and beat until well combined. Fill each well 2/3 of the way full.




Bake 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted the center of a cupcake comes out clean or with just one or two dry crumbs. Cool briefly in the pan, then remove cupcakes to wire racks to cool completely before icing with tangerine frosting and topping with a candied tangerine slice.



My thoughts:
This time of year tangerines are really at their peak. Juicy and sweet they make a great change from the usual oranges. They also adapt well to to baked goods. Tangerine juice is rather sweet but there is a touch of tartness there that really makes for a delicious, light tasting cupcake. As for the cake itself the crumb is tender and light and the zest provides little bursts of flavor in every bite. The perfect alternative to a chocolate dessert.

Tangerine Frosting with Candied Tangerine Slices



Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons tangerine juice
2 egg whites
1 tangerine cut into thin slices
pinch salt

Directions:
Beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks using an electric mixer. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring sugar, tangerine and water to a boil, stirring occasionally.

IMG_0040

Continue to boil until it reaches soft ball stage (when a drop of the syrup forms a soft ball when dropped in cool water)while continuing to stir occasionally. Strain out the tangerine slices (and zest). Keep the mixer running (you need a stand mixer or a friend to complete this next step) while you pour a continuous stream of the molten syrup into the egg whites. Continue to beat for about 5 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy, glossy and cool. Allow the tangerine slices to cool and harden on a wire rack. Frost cooled cupcakes, top with tangerine slices.

*If your icing isn't very orange, you can add a drop or two of food coloring to help it along.



My thoughts:
I love this icing because it bursting with tangerine flavor. I also love it because while you make the syrup for the icing you are also candying the tangerine slices for the garnish. The slices help flavor the syrup and give it a faint orange tint. Tangerines also candy well, the skin is relatively thin and the pith is less bitter than other citrus fruits. Great on tangerine cupcakes.


February 07, 2009

Coulotte Steak with a Mushroom Cognac Sauce




Ingredients:
2 coulotte steaks
1 tablespoon butter
2 shallots, minced
4 oz crimini mushrooms, finely diced
1/3 cup cognac
1/2 teaspoon super fine flour (like Wondra)
sea salt
coarse ground pepper

olive oil

Directions:
Rub both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Let sit 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet. Add the steak, turning once until desired level of doneness. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.

Add the butter and shallot to the drippings in skillet, and cook 1 minute, stirring often. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook until liquid evaporates and mushroom mixture is golden. Add cognac and scrape any bits off the bottom of the can that you can. Add juices collected from the sitting steaks (if desired), flour and cook until the liquid reduces.


Slice the steaks and arrange them on a plate. Spoon sauce over steaks. Serve hot.

My thoughts:
Coulotte (culotte) steak, also known as top sirloin cap is a flavorful, tender cut of steak. It is a little tricky to find but it is well worth seeking out. This mushroom sauce is easy enough to do on a weekday but the cognac really makes it seem special, perfect for a homemade romantic meal. The steak has this great meaty, robust flavor that the mushrooms and cognac really complemented.


As you might remember from last summer's "My Grill Friday" posts, we are big fans of local Roseda Beef. It is dry aged and made from Black Angus cattle. Honestly, I could take or leave beef until I had some steaks from Roseda. Luckily for you, they are offering a special coupon to readers of Coconut & Lime- spend $25 and receive TWO FREE coulotte steaks! Just enter the coupon code "coconut" at checkout. This is a great way to try this delicious cut of meat. I used Roseda coulettes for this recipe and they were divine, easy to cook and really flavorful. The steaks are delivered within 2 days and are flash-frozen. Most defrost quickly in the refrigerator so it is not too late to place an order for Valentine's Day. They are also running a Sweetheart Special with a selection of classic steaks any of which would be perfect for a romantic meal.





Note: I have seen tri-tip erroneously listed as being a different name for the coulette but tri tip is a different and larger cut that has a large strip of fat on one side. These are smaller, more marbled steaks.

February 05, 2009

Nutella Cheesecake Squares


Ingredients:
crust:
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt

filling:
16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup Nutella
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 large eggs,at room temperature

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease or spray with baking spray an 8x8 inch pan. In a small bowl, add the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa, oats and salt, mix thoroughly with a fork. Press into bottom of the pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to flatten and press firmly. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the egg and flour, beat until smooth. Pour about 2/3 of the batter into the 8x8 inch pan. Add the Nutella into the remaining batter and mix throughly. Spread on top of the first cheesecake layer. Bake 25 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.


My thoughts:


I don't tend to join in on most of the group food blogging events that seem so popular right now but I love Nutella and just couldn't resist. While the American version of Nutella is widely available, I like to go to our local Italian market and pick up a jar of imported Italian Nutella. The two are fairly similar in flavor but the Italian version doesn't have hydrogenated oil and (perhaps because of this) is a little thicker. It also seems to be a bit more chocolate-y. Anyway, I am sure whatever local version of Nutella you have available would work fine in this recipe.

I had originally came up with the recipe a couple of months ago only to find that I was totally out of Nutella and that I hadn't yet replaced the 8x8 inch pan I had dropped. The horror! Then I got distracted by other cooking and a never ending cold and forgot all about it until I saw someone mention WND on twitter. So I dragged out the recipe and made it this weekend. It was as tasty as I had hoped. The cheesecake is rich and creamy and has a great chocolate-hazelnut flavor. The bottom crust is very chocolate-y and the oats add body and crunch. The crust is also a great alternative to the more traditional graham cracker or shortbread crust which can be kind of bland or boring. In this case, the crust brings out the flavor of the bars without overpowering it.




February 03, 2009

Tomato & Kielbasa Alphabet Soup



Ingredients:
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup shredded cabbage
28 oz crushed tomatoes
16 oz kielbasa, sliced
10 oz alphabet or other small pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
black pepper

Direction:
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Set aside. In a skillet, saute the sausage slices. Set aside. Meanwhile, saute the onion, carrots and celery until the onion and celery are soft and the carrots are softening. Add the broth, tomatoes, pepper and cabbage. Add the kielbasa and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Ladle into bowls and add the pasta to each bowl. Refrigerate leftover soup and pasta separately.


My thoughts:
Winter is the perfect season for soup. I made this soup when my mom came for lunch and it was perfect, well spiced but not too spicy and the sausage made it hearty enough to serve as a meal.


Note: I like to cook the pasta separately from the soup because the longer the pasta sits in the soup the more liquid it absorbs and it can become soggy. This is especially and issue if there are any leftovers. This way the pasta remains the perfect texture and you can control the amount of pasta in each bowl.

February 01, 2009

Classic Northern Cornbread




Ingredients:
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup polenta
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Spray with baking spray or grease an 8x8 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, polenta, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, buttermilk and canola oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean or with just a few dry crumbs. Cool on a wire rack.

My thoughts:
In the North, sweet cornbread reigns supreme while in the South, a more savory cornbread prevails. For this cornbread on impluse, I stirred in some polenta (coarse cornmeal) for some texture interest and I really enjoyed how it turned out.