Friday, January 19, 2007

Spaghetti with Chicken Ragu

This recipe adapted from Everyday Italian is very easy and delicious. The only thing I altered in the recipe is I used spagetti instead of linguine. I like linguine, but I didn't have any in my kitchen so spaghetti it was.

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
4 cups Marinara Sauce, recipe follows
1 pound linguine or spaghetti
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the juices evaporate and the chicken is golden, about 10 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Add the rosemary and mix well. Add the marinara sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the flavors blend, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Add the linguine to the ragu and toss to coat, adding some reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

Marinara Sauce:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves

In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)
Yield: 2 quarts

Monday, January 08, 2007

Peach Cream Tart

As if the many cookbooks that I own are not enough, I also have been watching the Food Network every day for new recipes and ideas on cooking. This is the Peach Cream Tart recipe I saw on the Paula Dean Show a couple of weeks ago. I made this dessert twice already and both times it came out perfect. The first time I made it for our New Years Day party and it was a big hit, everyone loved it. Not bad on the first try!

Peach Cream Tart


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

2 tablespoons sour cream


About 6 medium peaches, peeled and sliced*, or 1 (28-ounce) can and 1 (16-ounce) can sliced peaches in light syrup, well drained

3 large egg yolks

3/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour


1/2 cup peach preserves or jelly, warmed1 tablespoon frozen lemonade concentrate

Preheat the oven the 375 degrees F.

To make the crust, place the flour, butter, and sour cream in food processor and pulse to combine. When the dough has formed a ball, pat with lightly floured hands into the bottom and sides of an ungreased 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and 1/2-inch sides, or a round au gratin dish. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Let cool while preparing the filling. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

To make the filling, if using fresh peaches, peel and thickly slice the peaches. Arrange the fresh or canned peach slices in overlapping circles on top of the crust, until it's completely covered. Overfill the crust, as peaches will draw up during cooking.

Combine the egg yolks, sour cream, sugar, and flour and beat until smooth. Pour the mixture over the peaches. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until the custard sets and is pale golden in color. Cover with an aluminum foil tent if the crust gets too dark.Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack to cool. When cool, remove the side wall of the pan. To make the glaze, combine the preserves or jelly and lemonade. Spread with a pastry brush over the top of the warm tart. Serve the tart warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!
New Years Greek Bread (Vasilopita)

I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

The traditional cutting of the Vasilopita is to celebrate the coming of the New Year in the Greek tradition. On New Year's Day families cut the Vassilopita to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year. A coin is hidden in the bread by slipping it into the bottom before serving. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time, in order of age. Pieces are also sliced for the Church, and your house.

This year I received the piece with the coin!

2 pkg. active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

2 tsp. sugar

5 T. flour

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/4 lb. butter 1 T. Crisco

1/3 cup orange juice

3 eggs (beaten)

2 to 2 1/2 lbs. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 to 3/4 tsp. masticha ( found in Mediteranean Markets)

1 egg sesame seeds

In a small bowl dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm (105 to 115 degrees) water . Add 2 tsp. sugar and 5 to 6 T. flour to make a thick mixture. Stir until smooth. Cover and put aside in a warm place for about 10 minutes. It will foam and rise.

Heat milk to warm. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Add butter and Crisco and stir until they melt. Take off heat, let it cool a bit. Add orange juice and beaten eggs.

Put about 1 1/2 lbs of the flour in a large bowl. Add salt and masticha. Make a well in the center and pour the above liquid into hole. Mix either by hand or in electric mixer. Add the yeast mixture and mix. Put dough hook onto your mixer if you have one or else by hand continue mixing and kneading, adding the remaining flour. Add enough flour to make a moderately, but not too stiff dough.

Grease or oil a clean bowl. Put dough in bowl, cover with waxed paper and a clean towel. Put it in a draft free warm place and let it rise until it doubles in size - about 2 to 3 hours.

Punch down and knead a few minutes. Cover dough and let rest for 10 minutes. Form into one large round loaf and put into an 11 or 12-inch round greased pan or separate into two loaves and put into two 9 or 10-inch round greased pans. Make sure you spread the dough so that it touches the edge of the pan. Cover and let it rise again until almost doubled - about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Beat one egg and brush the top. (You may, with some reserved dough, write the year on top.) Sprinkle top with sesame seeds.

Place in lower part of oven and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on size.