Posts tagged ‘boil’

October 2, 2011

Spaghetti with Italian Sausage and Creamy Tomato Sauce

It’s starting to cool down (well, maybe not in Houston) but my mind-set say it’s time for Fall, and with it comes a new array of dishes for the colder weather.  Pasta is my all time go to, there is so much you can do with it and I always fee like it’s a perfectly balanced meal, especially when you add a side salad.

Instead of starting from scratch with ground pork or beef, I start with hot Italian sausage, which already has a great base of spices and seasoning.  It just needs a little doctoring up, and you have a great base for any pasta sauce.  I love the heartiness of this dish, and the spice you get from the sausage.  The auburn color of the sauce reminds me of the leaves changing in Vermont, and it pops with the addition of the fresh green basil and the creamy specks of Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients

  • 18 oz hot Italian sausage
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground back pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 6 roma tomatoes, diced with seeds and juice removed
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 chicken bullion cube
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 lb. spaghetti pasta (or whatever’s your favorite)
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese (I highly urge you to buy the real stuff, not the cheese in the green can that shall remain unnamed)
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves for garnishing

Method

  • Heat medium size skillet to medium~high
  • Peel the casing off the sausage and crumble into skillet
  • Add fennel, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes
  • Brown sausage and continue to break it up with a wooden spoon into bite size pieces, it doesn’t have to be even, just break it up as much as you can.  Takes about 5-10 minutes for sausage to cook through
  • Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel lined plate, leave the oils and juices in the skillet, you’ll use this to cook the onions and garlic
  • Lower heat to medium~low and add onion, garlic salt and pepper, cook for 10 minutes (this is sweating the onions, you want them to become translucent, not brown)
  • Add canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, tomato paste and stir for 1 minute
  • Add bullion cube, water, sugar and cooked sausage
  • Simmer on low for 10 minutes
  • While sauce simmers, place large pot of water on high and bring to a boil for the pasta
  • Once boiling, add 1 tbsp. of salt and pasta and boil for 9 minutes, or longer depending on the type of pasta you’re using.  I like mine al dente, so I boil mine about 30-60 seconds less than what the package recommends.
  • Strain pasta
  • Add cream to sauce and stir, then remove from heat
  • Usually I would recommend stirring the pasta in with the sauce, but tonight I wanted to put it on top so you could see the vivid color and velvety consistency of the sauce
  • Top with parmesan cheese and basil
  • Repeat for seconds!

Feel free to use different sausage or mild Italian if you’re sensitive to the heat.  I don’t find this dish too spicy, but it would be for kids, so just mellow it out to match your taste.  Happy Fall!

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September 28, 2011

Simply Salsa

I have a few salsa recipes in my repertoire, and I promise I will share all of them with you over time.  This is one of the easiest, and it’s a perfect way for me to use up the peppers in my garden, as I can’t possible add jalapeños to every dish.  Peppers seem to grow like weeds in Houston, they love the heat and humidity, and they seem to survive no matter what I do to them.  If case you didn’t know I’m probably the only person you know who can kill a cactus (yes, I did).

When the peppers are cooked their sharp heat softens, and they take on an unexpected balance of sweetness and deep pepper flavor without the heat.  The cilantro adds a nice freshness and gives the salsa vibrant specks of deep green. This salsa can vary in heat depending on the peppers; so if you have a batch of really spicy ones, only use 4-5 jalapeños.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 jalapeño peppers
  • 2-4 serrano peppers
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 8 roma tomatoes
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lime juice (half a lime)

Method

  • Fill large pot half way with water (one big enough to cook pasta)
  • Drop in peeled gloves of garlic, onion, and jalapeños.  There’s no need to chop or dice any of the ingredients, the food processor will take care of that later
  • Bring water to a light boil and let vegetables cook for 10 minutes
  • Drop in whole tomatoes and boil an addition 5-10 minutes until the skin of the tomatoes start to split
  • Remove from stove and pour all contents into strainer.  You aren’t going to save any of the water, so you can do this directly in the sink
  • Let cool for 5-10 minutes until cool enough to touch
  • Remove tomatoes skins and pepper stems and put all the contents into a food processor.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender, but BE CAREFUL!  Blenders don’t have vents so the hot contents will explode if you put it on high.  Take a cloth and hold firmly on the lid while pulsing slowly.  I would also recommend waiting another 5 minutes to cool, believe me, salsa burns are not fun.
  • Pulse on high for 15 seconds
  • Add lime juice, salt and cilantro and pulse until mixture is smooth
  • Taste test, it may need a little more salt and the only way you’ll know is by trying it!
  • Serve warm with tortilla chips

Feel free to mix up the pepper combination.  This is one of those salsas that can one day be blazing hot, and others as mild as bell peppers… it all depends on the time of year and the jalapeños.   Feel free to substitute more mellow peppers, which you can achieve with Ancho, Pasilla or Anaheim, all popular varieties you should be able to find in your local store.

September 21, 2011

Simply Grilled Steak with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Want a new spin on your traditional steak and potatoes?  Try adding a little wasabi!  The buttery potatoes have a slow-rising, distinctive heat, which contrasts well with the juicy steak.  In the summertime, there’s nothing quite like as satisfying as the smell of a big juice steak grilling over a hot fire.  One of my favorite things in the perfectly charred crust, all the seasoning from the grill in one perfect bite.   The grill may just be the best thing that ever happened to a steak.

To make my life a little easier, I bought mixed baby potatoes so I could avoid both peeling and chopping.  I also like the look of the potatoes skins mashed in, it makes it feel more rustic and the skins contain many essential nutrients, so why throw that away?   On a side note, I had a bad experience with my disposal and potato skins, so I try to avoid peeling at all costs… you can probably guess  how that turned out.  The small potatoes have a rich buttery texture so you have to add less milk and butter to get them to the right consistency.

Open up a nice bottle of red wine, relax, and enjoy your $40 steak house dinner in the comfort of your own home for a quarter of the price.

Ingredients

  • 2 rib-eyes, about 2 inches thick, ours we’re BIG steaks, so if you get smaller ones you’ll need to shorten the cooking time.  Here’s a helpful link on grilling steaks.
  • 1 tsp. salt per steak
  • 1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper per steak
  • 2 lbs. baby potatoes, washed (if they are varying in size, cut the large ones so they are all about the same, this way they cook at the same rate)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. wasabi (this varies depending on the heat you want, add a little less at first and try it, you can always add more but you can’t take it away)
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Method

  • Remove steaks from fridge 30 minutes before cooking and season well with salt and pepper.  Rub the spices in so they don’t fall off on the grill.  Then put them aside and let them warm up to room temperature.
  • Fill a medium size pot half full and bring to a boil on the stove
  • Once the water is boiling, add a generous portion of salt (at least a tablespoon) and add the potatoes.
  • Leave potatoes on a light boil with the lid off for 15-20 minutes.  Check by sticking them with a knife, it is goes in without pressure they’re done.
  • While the potatoes boil, turn grill on high
  • When the grill is hot, place steaks on rack and cook on high (~500F) for 5 min per side to sear
  • Then turn grill down to medium (~350-400F) and cook an additional 7 min per side to cook the middle
  • If you use a meat thermometer (which you should feel no shame in using, especially if you are new to cooking meat) 130F in the middle is medium-rare, 140 is medium.  It’s only about 1-2 minutes difference on the grill!
  • Pull the meat off and let is rest for 5-10 minutes before serving, this allows the meat juices to redistribute.  If you cut into it immediately all the juice will run out and you’ll be left with dry steak.
  • While the meat rests, it’s mashing time!
  • Add cream, butter, salt and pepper (to taste) and mash.  Please please please, buy yourself a 4 dollar masher.  Please do not use an electric mixer, this beaks up the gluten in the potatoes and leaves you with tacky, sticky textured potatoes.
  • Slowly add the milk, add about ¼ – ½ a cup, more or less depending on the texture you’re looking for.  I don’t mash my potatoes until they are completely creamy, I like a little texture, so a few lumps are ok with me… plus the skin helps give it a rustic feel.
  • Add the wasabi at the end and mix with a spoon, add it slowly and taste as you go along to get the appropriate heat level for you and your guests.  I didn’t want to use the powdered wasabi I found in the grocery store (maybe one of you have tried it, and if so please let me know how it is), so I stopped by my local Japanese restaurant and asked them for a small side of wasabi.
  • Once you’re finished mashing, your meat has rested and you are ready to dig in.
  • Enjoy!

 

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