Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thanksgiving in August

Its a cool, rainy day here in New York. Despite the fact that it is August, autumn decided it wanted to show us Yankees what is waiting in the wings for us come September.

And speaking of weather, I am home sick today under it.

I still needed to make something for dinner and was not in the mood for anything strenuous despite craving comfort food. So, I took out my Crockpot and decided to make something that reminds me of Thanksgiving dinner (one of my favorite dinners each year). I have been taking cookbooks out of the library all summer and one I am currently reading is Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes. The author, Beth Hensberger, adapted the gravy for this dish from a Marcus Samuelsson recipe, and that is why it also caught my eye. It also caught my eye because I am a huge fan of sweet and savory together.

Turkey Cutlets with Sweet Potatoes


For the gravy:
One package of turkey gravy mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons half and half
1/4 cup dried cranberries

For the meat and vegetables:
3 medium-size sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3 inch thick slices
4 ounces of French green beans (fresh), trimmed
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 pound turkey breast cutlets
salt and pepper to taste

1) In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the gravy mix, water, wine, and cranberry sauce, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and whisk until thickened and the cranberry sauce has melted. Stir in the half and half and dried cranberries. Set aside.
2) Spray the inside of the crock with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the sweet potato slices in the bottom of the crock. Then add the green beans and the slices of garlic. Salt and pepper the turkey cutlets and then roll up each cutlet, placing them in a layer on top of the vegetables.
3) Pour the warm cranberry gravy over the cutlets and vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, until the turkey and the sweet potatoes are tender.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summertime...and the Livin' is Easy

Its not that I haven't been cooking this summer.

In fact, I have week's worth of back posts to add here between now and September!

Being on the lam of this blog was both good and bad. I am having an amazing summer and the days have been filled all the goodness that is summer. However, I am disappointed in myself for not sharing all the good summer eats with everyone.

I sense that fall is in the air as the sun goes down a little sooner and the vegetables in the garden have all peaked for the most part. The air was cooler here in New York this weekend, so I took advantage of that and decided to throw together a summertime roast of chicken and vegetables on this lazy Sunday.

This is definitely one of those Mark Bittman recipes where you can interchange the vegetables and herbs depending on what you have in your summer garden. I have so much oregano that I am definitely going to be drying a good deal of it once summer ends. Rosemary would also work nice with this dish, as would dill.

Greek Style Roasted Chicken

3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of one lemon
1 pound of chicken thighs
1 onion, cut into thick slices
1 green pepper, cut into strips
handful of baby carrots
6 baby red bliss potatoes, scrubbed
1 clove of garlic, whole pieces peeled
1 lemon, sliced
fresh springs of oregano
salt and pepper to taste

- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- Salt and pepper the chicken and vegetables
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl except the lemon wedges and mix
- Place ingredients on a shallow roasting pan and cover with lemon wedges
- Cook for 3o minutes - take pan out and discard any watery juices
- Cook for another 30 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender and the onions have started to caramelize
- You can take the whole roasted garlic cloves and spread it on bread to have with the dish

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Caribbean Cooking!

The best way to come back after a small hiatus is with a post about my amazing supper club! This month's theme was Caribbean cooking, so we gathered at my place and enjoyed some amazing dishes on the patio!

There were only three of us today - summertime is so busy for everyone and we aren't even meeting in August for that reason, but I admit tonight the intimacy of the small supper club was quite enjoyable.

For main dishes, we ate corn fritters, curried rice, bacon, and cabbage, a salad of hearts of palm, avocado, and mango, and jerk chicken with pasta in a cream sauce. For dessert, there was FLAN. And oh were the flans amazing! I give the cooks credit since flan is not an easy dish to make. These were so perfect, and I want leftovers for breakfast with my coffee! One was a coconut flan and the other was a cream cheese flan.

The recipe I am posting is for the salad. It was the quintessential summer salad and a last minute dish Jo made...and I am glad she did decide to make it! It was like summer in my mouth!

Although it is posted on Foodnetwork, this is a recipe from WALKERSWOOD CARIBBEAN KITCHEN! Walkerswood has great recipes and great sauces.



For the dressing:

1/2 lime or lemon, juiced

1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

1 (14 or 15-ounce) can palm hearts, drained and sliced crosswise

2 ripe mangoes, peeled and thinly sliced

2 ripe avocados (or 1 large), peeled, stoned, and thinly sliced

1/2 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 Scotch bonnet or other hot chile pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped

1/2 lime or lemon (to be squeezed the avocado to prevent discolouring)


To make the dressing: Mix the first 4 ingredients and then drizzle olive oil in slowly while stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Assemble all the salad ingredients in a bowl and serve the dressing on the side.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Spaghetti Series - Spaghetti and Chicken Meatballs (#5)

I love al fresco dining in the summer. I have a lovely patio that is just meant for it! Last weekend the weather was beautiful and sunny, and I had a quiet evening to myself to enjoy dinner outdoors as the sun set. My garden has started to take off, and I was able to use the oregano I am growing in my chicken meatball dish. I realized that I had not posted a classic spaghetti and meatball recipe on this blog yet, and I was quite overdue. Enjoy!

Spaghetti and Chicken Meatballs
Meatball Ingredients:
1 pound ground chicken
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups Italian style breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, making sure everything is fully combined. Shape mixture into 12 meatballs. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and cook meatballs until golden brown, 5 minutes. They will finish cooking in the sauce (recipe below).

Sauce Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 small onion, diced
5 fresh basil leaves, torn
1 28 ounce can of peeled plum tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine

Heat oil over medium heat and add garlic and onions, sauteing until onion is translucent, 5 minutes. Add the basil and stir for another minute, allowing it to flavor the base of the vegetables. Add in plum tomatoes, squishing them with your hand before putting them in the pot with their juices. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, and wine, and let simmer for 1 hour on low heat. Add the meatballs 45 minutes into the cooking time and serve with your favorite spaghetti and fresh cheese on top.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Back to Blogging with Back of the Box Recipes - Supper Club!

I am BACK to blogging with this month's Supper Club Back of The Box Recipes theme! We gathered yesterday for this delightful spread of food. I had been ill for the past few weeks with a stomach issue that has finally ceased, and it was wonderful to be able to enjoy all the foods yesterday after having a week during the illness of barely being able to have liquids! I would say that the recipe I enjoyed eating the most, and they were all delicious, were the peanut butter and jelly muffins made by Marianne. The recipe is literally on the Gold Medal Flour bag, and I am going to the supermarket later to buy a bag even though I have plenty of flour. I must have that recipe!

There is not one dish I didn't love, and I would recommend all recipes. I made the Quick Dill Dip and the Salsa Macaroni and Cheese. Two websites that have a great collection are these:

The Meal:

Salsa Mac (Ragu), Bisquick Sausage Cheddar Balls, Impossible Green Chili Pie (Bisquick)
Tuna Noodle Casserole (Campbells), Corn Souffle (Jiffy)
Wild Rice with Cranberries (Craisins)
Ambrosia, Quick Dill Dip (Miracle Whip)
Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins (Gold Medal Flour)
Baker's Chocolate Brownies (Baker's Chocolate)
Strawberry Shortcakes (Bisquick)

Quick Dill Dip
1 cup Miracle Whip Light Dressing
1 16 ounce container Breakstone's fat-free sour cream
1 tablespoon dill weed
1 tablespoon dried minced onion flakes
1 tablespoon dried parsley

Directions: Mix all ingredients, cover, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or, ideally, overnight.
Serve with vegetable crudite and crackers.

Salsa Macaroni and Cheese
1 jar Ragu Double Cheesy Cheddar Sauce
1 jar Tostito's hot salsa
1/2 cup plain tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Chili Powder (I used my Penzey's 9000)
1 pound cooked elbow pasta (I used mini wagon wheels and it was fun)

Prepare pasta as directed. Mix in all other ingredients when pasta is cooked and drained. Yep, its THAT simple.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Bolognese Blues

I have the Bolognese blues.

This weekend's Bolognese sauce battle has been in the works for months at my request, and I am home instead of being in Connecticut at a farm house with my beloved families (my two friends since grade school and their parents).

The head cold I had from 3 weeks ago manifested itself into my body, and I am on the mend from not having an appetite for a week now and only eating simple foods (hence lack of posts here on A Twist of Spaghetti). After getting scolded this morning by my doctor for not taking care of myself and being run-down, I sent my beautiful Bolognese sauce to battle without me.
I slept throughout the day and will sleep early tonight, drinking lots of water in between.

I did make some pasta to be topped with my sauce so I could post it here. I had a few bites, and I have to say this is a winner. I think I have a good shot at first place this despite my absence and hope that my family enjoys it. I miss them so very much tonight.

Bolognese sauce is a wonderfully rich "sugo" that takes time and attention to make right and perfect. You cannot rush the sugo, and the trick is to layer the sauce at each phase with lots of flavor. This is my recipe adapted from others - I am proud of how it has grown since I started making it over 8 years ago! It really is better the day after since it has time to sit with all the flavors and aromatics.

Amy's Winning Bolognese Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
2 slices of thick, center cut bacon
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sage
2 pounds of ground beef, pork, and veal mixture
1 cup dry red wine (I used Shiraz)
1 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 14 ounce cans of beef broth
1 1/2 cups canned tomato puree
3 splashes of Worcestershire sauce
3 splashes of low sodium soy sauce
splash of heavy cream or half and half
grated pecorino romano, for serving

1) Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon and saute until beginning to brown, about 6 minutes.
2) Add onion, celery, carrots, thyme, and sage, sauteing for 5 minutes.
3) Add ground meat mixture to brown, breaking up meat with back of fork, for about 10 minutes.
4) Add wine and bay leaves, simmering until liquid is slightly reduced, 10 minutes.
5) Add broth and tomato puree. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce thickens, about 2 hours, stirring constantly.
6) Once sauce has thickened, add the splashes of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce and the nutmeg.
7) Blend sauce with a few pulses in the food processor for a good texture.
8) Splash in some cream before serving and top with grated pecorino romano. You can use whatever pasta you wish...I really like mine with rigatoni or rotelli.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti

Giulia Melucci, author of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti (a memoir of good food and bad boyfriends), is not just an amazing writer and amazing cook, she is an amazing person.

If you have not read the book, I suggest you go on Amazon immediately or head to your local bookstore. Whether you are male or female, heartbreak is universal, so I recommend this book to anyone, especially a foodie!

Why is she an amazing person? I had emailed her last week and she responded within 24 hours with words that were kind, supportive, and truly funny! I am meeting her next week at a book signing and cooking demo and look forward to writing more about my interaction with her and posting some photos from the special event.

In the meantime, I am making her recipes! And wow, are they fantastic! This weekend I made an adapted version of a delicious pasta sauce called Lachlan's Rigatoni with Eggplant. He was a bad boyfriend but a good cook. Enjoy!

Lachlan's Rigatoni with Eggplant (adapted from Giulia Melucci's ex-boyfriend)
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 large (28 ounce can) crushed tomatoes (I used Red Pack's Italian style)
1/4 cup red wine
1 tablespoon sugar (tomatoes, wine, and eggplant are acidic, do not omit this!)
1 pound rigatoni (I used rotelli primavera to be healthier), cooked al dente
freshly grated Romano cheese

1) Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and red pepper and saute until onion is translucent.
2) Add the eggplant and 1 teaspoon salt and cook for 20 minutes, allowing the eggplant to get a little brown.
3) Add crushed tomatoes, wine, sugar, and the remaining salt. Place lid half open on the pot and simmer for 1 hour.
4) Serve over hot, cooked pasta with grated cheese on top.