Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where Have I Been?

Someone please tell me it's still January. OK, no excuses, I have been cooking, I just haven't been able to get it all down here.

Today is the Galley Slave's birthday (no mention of age here). So this is a picture of one of his favorites. Nothing better than pasta with a Basic Red Sauce and calamari. Happy Birthday!

Here's my basic, it doesn't get any easier than this, you can embellish your heart out sauce. Enjoy and we are on track now.

Red Sauce (AKA Spaghetti Sauce)

1 small onion diced (about 1 – 1 ½ cups)
2-3 garlic cloves minced
1 - 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 – 14.5 oz. can diced Fire Roasted tomatoes
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Coat a heavy pan with about 3 tblsp olive oil and place on a med. High burner. Add the onions and sauté until they become clear, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to mix in being careful not to burn. Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste. Be sure to taste your mixture before adding much salt, the canned tomatoes have salt so you shouldn’t need much more. When the mixture begins to bubble turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve over pasta of your choice. I prefer whole wheat pasta because it’s a great source of fiber and tastes delicious. If using whole wheat pasta cook it for 1 minute less than the box suggests. That way it won’t be overdone and gooey. Of course fresh parmesan cheese is good here too.

The EmbelishAsYouWish part.
If you like meat, then brown some Italian sausage (sweet or spicy) or ground beef. I usually brown the meat in the olive oil first, then continue with the onions, etc. This lets the flavor of the meat work it’s way into the sauce.
Veggies- yeah! They are great in red sauce. A favorite is mushrooms. I like the cremeni (baby portabellas) but you can use white ones or fancy ones. Just slice the mushrooms and add them after the sauce has cooked for about 25 minutes. Add some zucchini or yellow squash. Cut the squash in rings and add just after the mixture starts to bubble and before you turn it down.
I also tend to like spicy so I add the red pepper flakes. It doesn’t take much and they aren’t really hot but they do add a little kick, especially with veggies.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!!

Wow, 2011 already. We are back on-line after a whirlwind December. As usual we all make New Year's resolutions revolving around dietary improvements. I always have the best intentions but somehow I'm not good with adhering to said intentions. This year I resolve to not make resolutions, this way I can't be disappointed. Okay, this is the lazy approach, but I am a realist.

I discovered something exciting to try for the new year. Grilled romaine lettuce. I've never tried this before but am always willing to experiment. The Galley Slave actually saw this recipe in "Bon Appetit" magazine so we gave it a whirl for New Year's Day dinner. Excellent choice.

Here's a real shocker. It was so good I didn't make any embellishments or adjustments to the recipe. The pickled onions are slightly sweet but when you pour the dijon/blue cheese vinaigrette over them they mellow to a tangy flavor. When you grill the romaine it picks up a slightly sweet flavor and the blue cheese just melts it all together.

Here's the link to the recipe. Grilled Romaine

Well, I did make a little adjustment. I only used about 1/4 cup blue cheese in the dressing mixture and then put just a couple extra pieces on top for garnish. I thought this was quite enough and I adore blue cheese, but that's still personal preference. I also used a Champagne wine vinegar because that's all I had. I think you could use any kind of vinegar and am thinking Red wine vinegar might be an interesting twist. Other than that, the recipe is perfect. I did only fix 1 romaine heart quartered for 2 people and I cut the pickled onion recipe in half using 1 medium size red onion. I made the entire vinaigrette recipe as written and had plenty leftover for another time.

I served this on New Year's with a calamari pasta and it was good, then I served it again with flank steak and chimichurri and it was better. This is more of a side dish than a salad and was excellent served with the meal. What a great way to start 2011!