Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sorry, we've been a bit busy lately...

Hey, we've been on a bit of a "blog-cation" while taking care of dayjobs, housework, and other Summer stuff. But have no fear, we'll be starting back up VERY soon, with plenty of new recipes, tips, tricks (sorry, none of us REALLY juggle chainsaws), hints and more!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's a Memorial Day Cook-out!

Now THAT’s my kind of challenge! We have trying to eat as local as possible, and given the weekend of this challenge, there was only one way to go:


Heck, the great American cook-out originated in Western NY. From "real" hot dogs and classic mustards, to fresh salads and canned beer, nothing says "Honey! Hold onto the tater salad, I'm firin' up the grill!" like a traditional cook-out.

So go set up the sprinkler on the lawn, dust off the lawn chairs, put on your plaid shorts, and enjoy the "unofficial" start of Summer!

Cook-out Menu
*While we were able to get some local veggies and herbs, we're just a bit out of season for all of them. Our local farmer markets and grocery stores are great for local fruits and vegetables... when in season.

Here we go...
Barilla (Avon, NY Plant) Pasta Salad
1/2 lb. Barilla Plus Multigrain Rotini, cook as per package directions, drained and cooled.
1/2 c. orange, red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 c. red onion, diced
1 c. grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 c. celery, diced
1/2 c. seedless cucumber, diced
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 c. flat leaf parsley, freshly chopped
1” of pepperoni, diced
3-4 Tbsp Italian-style oil dressing

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine everything, except the dressing.
2. Mix in 2 Tbsp. of dressing and check coverage. You’ll want to just coat everything, but not drown it. Add additional dressing, if needed.
3. Move to a suitable bowl, cover and refrigerate. This is best when allowed to mellow in the fridge for a few hours prior to serving.

Marion (NY) Potato Salad

2-1/2 lbs. white potatoes, washed but not peeled, 1/2-3/4” dice
1/2 c. orange, red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 c. red onion, diced
1/2 c. celery, diced
1/4 c. flat leaf parsley, freshly chopped
2 large eggs, hard-cooked and chopped

2 Tbsp. spicy or Dijon mustard
4 Tbsp. light mayonnaise
1-1/2 tsp. dried dillweed
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1. Place the diced potatoes in a large pot, and cover with cold water. Add about 1 Tbsp. of kosher salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water boils, let the potatoes cook for about 15 minutes, checking for doneness after 10 minutes. Potatoes should keep the shape, and not be mushy. When done, drain and let the potatoes cool in a large mixing bowl.
2. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. Combine the remaining ingredients in the large mixing bowl, and stir in the dressing

4. Move to a suitable bowl, cover and refrigerate to allow the flavors to mellow for a few hours prior to serving.

"Really Local" Rhubarb Tart
3 c. fresh rhubarb, peeled, and cut into 1/2” pieces and blanched**
1 refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. tapioca
Fresh nutmeg
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
Whipped cream and honey, for garnish

** Due to the short baking time of a tart over a pie, I was concerned with how well the rhubarb would soften in the oven, so I decided to blanche the rhubarb for a few seconds in a pot of boiling water, and then quickly into an ice bath to cool. Peeling the rhubarb also helps. Oh, and did I mention the rhubarb is from our garden?

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Place rhubarb in a small bowl and sprinkle with the half of the sugar and the tapioca. If the rhubarb is particularly tart, go ahead and add the rest of the sugar. Let rest while the oven warms and the pie crust is prepped. This will draw some water out of the rhubarb.
3. Cover a baking sheet with parchment. (Tip: a few shots of cooking spray will help hold the parchment in place on the baking sheet.)

4. Carefully roll out the pie crust onto the parchment, and repair any tears or holes.

5. Spoon the half the rhubarb onto the center of the pie crust, leaving about a two inch border from the edge. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar, cinnamon, and a few grates of fresh nutmeg. Repeat with the rest of the rhubarb, and a bit more sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
6. Carefully start forming the pie crust into a tart around the rhubarb by folding and overlapping the edge. Brush the folded crust with the melted butter, and lightly sprinkle on a bit of sugar and cinnamon.
7. Place on the center rack of your 400 degree oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes, but start watching it after 25 minutes, until it is golden brown and delicious.
8. Remove from oven and cool before serving. Garnish with local honey and whipped cream (please, make your own if you have the time… from local heavy cream, or course!)
All that's left to do is grill up the white hots (you DO have enough propane, right? Go here and check.), serve up the salads, crack open a beer, and enjoy.... Ahhhh..... That's the taste of Summer...



Lobster Quadrilles

Lobster Quadrilles and Grilled Portobello Salad

After last month’s grueling globe-trotting adventure, I was relieved to find out that the ingredients for this challenge were all within range of public transportation or bicycle.

We started our search for local delicacies in Wonderland:

The Mock Turtle sighed deeply, and drew the back of one flapper across his eyes.
He looked at Alice and tried to speak, but, for a minute or two, sobs choked his voice.
“Same as if he had a bone in his throat," said the Gryphon;
and it set to work shaking him and punching him in the back.
At last the Mock Turtle recovered his voice,
and, with tears running down his cheeks, he went on again:

“You may not have lived much under the sea—”
("I haven’t,” said Alice)—
"and perhaps you were never even introduced to a lobster—"
(Alice began to say, “I once tasted—” but checked herself hastily, and said, “No, never”)
“—so you can have no idea what a delightful thing a Lobster-Quadrille is!”

And delightful they are. However, unlike the Mock Tortoise, we don’t dance with our lobsters, we eat them. Just across the street from Wonderland (the last ‘T’ stop on the Blue line) is Revere Beach, where you can look out over Massachusetts Bay and see the lobster boats hauling their catch back to the docks. We bought three frisky crustaceans at a nearby fish market.

From Wonderland, we headed to nearby Chelsea, where good things were growing at Mario Cutone’s place.

"Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I saw
Was the sun through yellow curtains, and a rainbow on the wall”

Joni obviously wasn’t referring to a morning at the Cutone Mushroom ranch where they keep them all in the dark and feed them shitake-chow. Nevertheless, the Portobellos and shitakes there grow plump and flavorful.

"Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What would life be without homegrown tomatoes?
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love and homegrown tomatoes."

It’s too early in the year for homegrown tomatoes in these parts, but at Volante Farms in Needham, they get a head-start on the season with their high-tech greenhouses. We found fresh tomatoes and scallions there. And some farm fresh eggs next door at Owens Poultry farm.

Next, we went in search of cheese.

WENSLEYDALE: Ah, hungry.

MOUSEBENDER: In a nutshell. And I thought to myself, 'a little fermented curd will do the trick'. So I curtailed my Walpoling activities, sallied forth, and infiltrated your place of purveyance to negotiate the vending of some cheesy comestibles.

WENSLEYDALE: Come again?

MOUSEBENDER: I want to buy some cheese.

At Russo’s Farmstand in Watertown (where they actually do sell cheese) we found fresh Mozzarella and Ricotta made in Quincy from local milk. We found some butter from the Crescent Ridge dairy in Sharon, and some hot-house grown Boston lettuce too.

By this time, we had worked up a locavoracious appetite.

Grilled Portobello Salad:

  • 4 large Portobello Mushrooms (M. Cutone, Chelsea)
  • 2 large Tomatoes (Volante Farms, Needham)
  • 1 lb. Fresh Mozzerella (Purity Cheese Co. Quincy)
  • 1 head Boston Lettuce (Russo’s Farmstand, Watertown)
  • ¼ cup chiffonade of Basil leaves (picked on premises)
Clean the mushrooms and cut into 1/2” slices. Place in a bowl with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sliced scallions to marinate for several hours. Toss occasionally to mix, being careful not to break up the mushroom slices.

Slice the Mozzerella into 3/8” slices. Place in a bowl with a little olive oil and white wine vinegar and some thinly sliced scallions. Marinate for several hours.

Grill the Portobello slices for a minute or two on each side.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange the Portobello, mozzarella and tomato slices over a bed of lettuce.
Add dressing (below) and top with the basil leaf chiffonade.

  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp coriander seed
  • ¼ tsp black peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp chopped basil leaves

Grind the seeds and salt.

Blend the liquids and ground spices.

Stir in the basil leaves

Lobster Quadrilles:

Our Lobster Quadrilles are giant square parsley-pasta ravioli stuffed with lobster claws and mushrooms. This recipe is enough to make 6 Quadrilles - enough for 3 people.

  • 1 1/2 cup Lobster claw meat (Massachusetts Bay) steamed, shelled and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup Shitake Mushrooms (M. Cutone, Chelsea) finely chopped
  • 1 cup Ricotta (Purity Cheese Co. Quincy)
  • 1 egg (Owens Farm, Needham)
  • 2 Tbs chopped chives (picked on premises)
  • 1 clove Garlic finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs olive oil

Saute the garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil until they are soft.Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.


  • Home-made Pasta Dough (See Pasta Unplugged)
  • Flat leaf Parsley (picked on premises)
  • 1 beaten egg (Owens Farm, Needham)

Sort through the parsley and pick out a few dozen nicely shaped leaves.

Using a pasta machine, roll the dough out to the second-thinnest setting (#6 on Atlas style machines).

Lay out half the dough and arrange the parsley leaves on it.

Cover with the other half and press firmly to seal. Then roll the dough once again to the second-thinnest setting. The parsley leaves will be visible through the dough.


Assembly can be done on any flat floured surface, but a simple mold will make forming the lobster quadrilles easier. Mine is just a piece of pine board with a 3 1/2” x 3 1/2” x 1/4” chiseled recess.

The dough should be in one or more strips approximately 5 1/2” wide. Cut the dough into 5 1/2” squares. Lay one square of dough on a floured surface.

Put a generous scoop of filling in the center and spread it to about 1” from the edges.

The filling should be about 1/2” thick at the center. Brush the edge will a little of the beaten egg and place another square over it. Squeeze out any air and seal well around the edges.

Ravioli this size can break apart easily, so handle with care. Gently lower them into boiling water, one at a time. Cook in small batches for 3-4 minutes, or until they float to the top. Carefully remove from the water with a strainer and drain.

Arrange on a plate (2-3 per serving) and drizzle with parsley-butter sauce (see below)

Serve with a glass of chilled Chardonnay (Neponset Winery, Needham, MA)

Parsley-Butter Sauce:

  • 3 Tbs olive oil.
  • 3 Tbs Butter (Crescent Ridge Creamery, Sharon)
  • 1 clove garlic – finely chopped
  • ¼ cup flat-leaf Parsley – chopped (picked on premises)
Saute the garlic in the oil until soft and translucent. Lower the heat and add the butter. Remove from heat when the butter is melted and stir in the parsley.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gondwana Gold

I know I said I would post results of the Reunite Gondwanaland challenge on Earth Day - which is today.

I fully expected Bobby and Bill to come out with a tie - much as Bobby and Matt did.

But I have to be honest - Bill's "narrative" had me rolling on the floor, and since I'm leaving on a trip tomorrow (not following Bill's Gondwana route - staying on just one continent this time) and don't have the mental energy left to assign points and categories - I will just call this one.

Bill vs. Bobby C - round 1 goes to ....Bill
although Bobby's recipe is one I would more likely be able to make - and I really liked the volcanic plating!

Nice work, guys!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Around Gondwana in Seventy Two Hours

My pilot Joe was just topping off the fuel tanks as the orders came in over the wire.

“Where to, Boss?”
“Gondwana” I said.
“Where’s that?” he asked.
“Head south. We’ll pick up OJ in Florida, then head to Mexico.”
“OJ? Is this a jail-break?”
“No, just a grocery run.”

This wasn’t the first time my baby sister had sent me circling the planet for food. One time she had me deliver corn chips to her in Japan, by way of Bahrain. But this was for a greater cause: To reunite Gondwanaland.

For the next two days, Joe flew Miwa and I non-stop around Gondwanaland. We crisscrossed the scattered fragments of the ancient land mass scouring the docks and markets in search of Gondwanan foods and recipes. We brought back a plane-load of goodies and prepared a Gondwanan feast.


Ceviche prepared with fresh local ingredients is popular throughout modern Latin America. For this version, we imagined what it would be like with access to ingredients from all of Gondwana:
  • 8 Shrimp –boiled until pink and peeled (Australia)
  • ¼ lb. Tilapia – cut into 1”x1” pieces (Africa)
  • ¼ lb. Chilean Sea Bass – cut in ½” x 1” x 1” pieces (Chile)
  • 3 Lemons (Peru)
  • 3 Limes (Mexico)
  • ¼ c. Orange Juice (Florida)
  • 1 small Red Onion – finely diced (Mexico)
  • 1 Tbs. Fish Sauce (Thailand)
  • 1 Tbs. Sambal Oelek (Indonesia)
  • ¼ tsp. Murray River Salt (Australia)
  • 2 Tbs. Cilantro - chopped (Mexico)
  • 1 Kiwi (Thailand)

Toss and macerate the fish in a small bowl with the juice of two lemons. Marinate for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Drain and rinse.

Add the juice from the remaining lemon and two limes and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and allow to marinate overnight. Arrange with Kiwi slices and serve with Moroccan Rolls (see below)


"Still like that old time Moroccan Roll
The kind of bread that just soothes the soul"

Yes, this is the legendary bread immortalized in Kyliomenolithic era song. A simple semolina sourdough, flavored with toasted sesame and anise.

"I know, it’s only a Moroccan Roll, but I like it, like it, yes I do."
  • ½ cup Sourdough Starter
  • 2 ½ cups Semolina (Morocco)
  • 1 Tbs. Sesame (Yemen)
  • 1/2 tsp. Anise seed (Thailand)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt (Mexico)

Mix the starter with 1 ½ cups of the dough and about ¾ cup of lukewarm water. Cover and put in a warm place to rise for several hours.

When bubbly, mix in the remainder of the flour, the sesame, anise and salt. Turn out on a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes – adding more flour or water as necessary to make a smooth elastic dough.

Cover and allow it to rise until double in bulk. Form into rolls and allow these to rise again until double in bulk. Bake at 400 F for 25-30 minutes.


This is what Satay would have looked like back in the good-old-days – before the continent got split up and you could still find all the ingredients at the local Gondwana-Mart. As the Aztecs knew, chocolate and hot peppers are natural companions.
  • 6 oz. Australian Sirloin – cut into ¾” cubes (Australia)


  • 3 Tbs. olive oil (Sicily)
  • 5 cloves Garlic – finely chopped (Mexico)
  • 3 Thai Chili peppers – chopped (Thailand)
  • 2 Tbs Ginger – chopped (Sumatra)
  • 5 Macadamia nuts – finely chopped (Australia)
  • 4 Brazil Nuts – finely chopped (Brazil)
  • 1 Tbs. Garam Masala (see below)
  • 1 Tbs. roasted Moka Coffee Beans – very finely ground (Ethiopia)
  • 4 oz. Coconut Milk (Sumatra)
  • Pan-Fried Peruvian Purple Potatoes – see below
  • Mustard Greens (Uganda)
  • ¼ tsp. Fenugreek seed (Turkey)
  • Sesame Oil (Yemen)
  • 1 Oz. 85% coca solids Chocolate (Ecuador)

Gently fry the garlic, peppers, ginger nuts and Garam Masala in the oil until the garlic is golden. Stir in the coconut milk and ground coffee. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is blended.

Add the cubed meat to the marinade and let marinate for at least three hours. Overnight if possible.Thread the meat onto bamboo skewers and grill.

Sauté the mustard greens in a little sesame oil and fenugreek until wilted.
Serve with Pan-Friend Purple Peruvian Potatoes (see below) and wilted mustard greens.


Garam Masala is the classic Indian spice mixture. There are as many variations as there are cooks in India. Similar spice mixtures are used as a flavoring base for curries across East Africa and much of southeast Asia.
  • 1 Tbs. toasted cumin (Iran)
  • 5 Green Cardamom pods (India)
  • 1 Tbs. black peppercorns (India)
  • 3-4 toasted Bay Leaves (Greece)
  • 1” piece of cinnamon stick – crushed (Indonesia)
  • ½ tsp. whole cloves (Madagascar)

Grind all ingredients to a powder. Store in a tightly capped jar.

  • 2 medium Purple Potatoes (Peru)
  • 1 Tbs. Peanut Oil (Brazil)
  • ½ tsp. Cumin (Iran)
  • Mediterranean Sea Salt (Spain)
Cut the potatoes into matchsticks. Heat the oil and fry the cumin for a few seconds, then add the potatoes. Stir fry until just tender. Do not brown.


To wash it down, we brewed some refreshing iced coffee (This time, from Guatamala), flavored with cardamom (India) and vanilla (Madagascar). We chilled the coffee with 100% organic Ice we harvested from a free-range Antarctic glacier. Gondwana was united at last.

I asked Joe to join us in the feast.
“No thanks” he said.
“What I really need right now is a Pan-Gondwanan Gargle Blaster”.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Reunite Gondwanaland

The Challenge: Reunite Gondwanaland

One of the most enduring features of our planet, Gondwana (or Gondwanaland) was a composite continent, made up of South America, Africa, Madagascar, Antarctica, India, other parts of South Asia, and Australia. At one time it even included Florida and most of Southern Europe.

Your mission is to “go around the world” in 72 hours, collect ingredients from the different continents and seas, and reunite Gondwanaland in your dishes. Plan, prepare, plate and present no later than midnight on Monday, April 20. Results of the judging to be posted on Earth Day.

Entries will be judged on plating (both porcelain and tectonic) and originality.

So grab your passports and weigh anchor, chefs, it’s time to set sail!

The challengers: Bobby C and Bill

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pasta Unplugged

Here's another post from Bill. This time out, he's demonstrating his take on a classic kitchen tool, La Chitarra.

Delicious noodles made by hand (and foot)

Last weekend was the debut performance of my new kitchen tool: La Chitarra. ‘Chitarra’ is Italian for ‘guitar’, but this is not a musical instrument. It is an instrument for cutting noodles.
I have always been fascinated by my mother’s antique Italian chitarra which has been in the family for many years. Chitarras or ‘Pasta Guitars’ are available commercially from various sources, but I decided to build my own future family heirloom. I built a sturdy wooden frame and strung it with 96 strands of piano wire.
This chitarra is double-sided. One side is for cutting thin noodles, the other side is for wider noodles. I decided to test out both sides by making a batch of Fettuccini and a batch of Udon.

Fettuccini Dough
  • 2 c. semolina flour
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Water (as needed)
  1. Dump the four on the counter, add the salt and make a well in the center for the eggs.
  2. Add the eggs and start mixing. Mix with your fingers at first, then start forming it into a ball with your hands. Add a little water if needed to hold it together.
  3. Knead by hand for at least 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Let it rest in a plastic bag for at least 2 hours.

Udon Dough
Udon dough is traditionally kneaded by foot. In an authentic Japanese noodle shop, this is done between sheets of plastic. For a batch this size, a one gallon freezer bag is just about right.
  • 3 c. bread flour (or Udon-ko if you can find it)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. water (plus more as needed)
  1. Mix the ingredients together in a large bowl. It will be very loose and crumbly at first.
  2. Gather the mixture together, mixing in a little extra water if necessary to hold it together.
  3. Turn the mixture out on a flat surface and knead by hand until it holds together in a ball.
  4. Put the ball into a 1 gallon freezer bag and throw it on the floor.
  5. Flatten the dough with your feet. Flip it over a few times and knead until the flattened dough fills the bag.
  6. Form the dough back into a ball and flatten it again
  7. Repeat for 10-15 minutes until the dough is very smooth and elastic.
  8. Flatten one last time and let the dough rest for at least 2 hours.
Roll out the well-rested dough on a liberally floured surface. Udon dough should be rolled to about 1/8” to make nice fat noodles. For fettuccini, roll the dough as thin as you can make it.
Cut the dough into sheets small enough to fit on your chitarra (in this case, 8” x 16”). They will stretch a bit when you cut them, so allow extra room at the ends. Sprinkle the sheets with flour, stack and cover them and set aside to rest for another 30 minutes or more.

Wipe the strings of the chitarra with a little oil to prevent sticking. Place a sheet of wax paper under the strings to catch the noodles.
Place a sheet of rolled dough on the strings. Gently roll with a wooden rolling pin to press the dough between the wires. Increase the pressure until the dough is almost cut through. Then slide the rolling pin back and forth a few times until you can see the shiny wires through the dough.
At this point, the cut noodles should start to fall through the wires to the wax-paper below. If they stick, you can help them along by rubbing your hand over the wires.

Tip the chitarra to dump out the cut noodles. Clean off any dough stuck to the wires. Wipe with some more oil and repeat until all the noodles are cut.
If you are not going to cook them immediately, toss the noodles with some extra flour to keep them from sticking.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

More of Guest Blogger Week - Damn Yankee Grits

In this dish, New York Cheddar meets Carolina Grits:
Recently, I was lucky enough to find ‘Cuba Cheddar’ at the local supermarket. There is no better cheddar than a sharp New York cheddar, and the cheddarati will tell you that the cheese from Cuba, New York is one of the best New York cheddars.

I also had a bag of stone-ground Carolina Grits that I smuggled north from my last visit. These are not the pasty instant grits we find around here. These grits have real flavor, aroma and texture. In this dish, the coarser texture holds up well and contrasts nicely with the creaminess of the cheese.

Damn Yankee Grits

2 c. grits
6 c. water
3 Tb. Butter
Freshly ground black pepper
5-6 cloves garlic - chopped
8 oz. New York Cheddar - grated
1 Andouillle Sausage - diced
1/2 c. milk
3 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Bring the water to a boil and stir in the grits. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Stir more often toward the end of the cooking time, and lower the heat if necessary to keep it from sticking.
3. Meanwhile, fry the sausage until browned and crispy. Remove from the pan and drain on some paper towels.

4. When the grits are done, remove from the heat and stir in the butter, garlic and sausage and season to taste with some salt and freshly ground black pepper.
5. Add in all but ½ c. of the cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the milk and eggs and pour into a casserole. Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 1 hour.
6. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Guest Blogger Week Continues - Vodka Riggies - and dessert

One thing this family DOES know is food! You will hopefully soon see recipes from Regina's Mom, Bobby's cousin, and Matt's brother. Today's Guest Blogger is Regina's cousin Susan.

Sue & Scott's Vodka Riggies Recipe


1 small onion (Bermuda is called for, but I've used anything in season), diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 lb. of prosciutto ham, diced (bite-size)
4 oz. vodka
1 can diced tomatoes
4 bay leaves
3 oz. heavy cream
Olive oil
Box of Rigatoni (or Ziti) pasta, cooked and drained

Sautee prosciutto and garlic. Add onion and continue to sautee until onions are soft.

Add vodka - mixing well, then stir in diced tomatoes and bay leaves. Let simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Remove bay leaves once simmering is complete, then mix in heavy cream.

Place cooked pasta in a large serving bowl, add vodka mixture and combine well.

Serve with a nice green salad.

Hope you like it :)

(and even though Susan did not send photos of her Vodka Riggies, she sent this real live package in the mail instead...and they did not need re-crisping - they were just perfect!!! We will work on her to get this recipe to share with you one of these days. In the meantime - we aren't sharing anything more than the pictures.)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Guest Blogger Week -Italian Veggie Saute

Our Guest Blogger today is Joan Hawley of Lazy Girl Designs. A friend of Regina's, Joan's favorite food is chocolate, and she knows her way around the kitchen just as well as her way around the sewing room. As Joan would say - let's raise a cuppa and enjoy... Thanks for joining us, Joan.

Italian Veggie Saute
2 medium onions, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
2 yellow squash, chopped
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, chopped/diced (fire-roasted diced is good)
1-2 tsp oregano
1-2 tsp basil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Just a bit of oil and butter

Italian Veggie Sauté is one of my all-time favorite and go-to veggie dishes due to its ease in making and versatility in using. The end result is a nice flavorful medley, perfect as a side dish, great topped with feta or parmesan, and wonderful on top a bed of rice. I’ve baked it atop chicken breasts, too.

Whether you make a little or a lot, the basic principle behind it is to aim for equal parts onion, zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes. Use what you have on hand or is in season. Use fresh tomatoes when possible, otherwise try diced ‘fire roasted’ tomatoes from Hunts or Muir Glen (organic).

After sautéing the onions, this recipe comes together quickly, so I like to chop the zucchini and squash and set it aside. Then I heat the oil/butter as I chop the onions. I like to use my food processor to chop the veggies so they are consistent in thickness and will cook evenly. And it’s fast, and I’m Lazy, so it’s a good match.

A few notes about the rest of the ingredients. Whenever I start a sauté, I like to use a little butter with the oil to help caramelize the onions just a tad. Use a little or a lot of oregano and basil – you know what you like. The same could be said for the garlic as well.

I use a 3 quart sauté pan. Don’t use an aluminum pan if possible. This dish is going to simmer on the stove for a while and the acid from the tomatoes will react with aluminum.

Let’s get started:

Heat oil and butter in sauté pan over medium high heat.
Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add garlic and sauté another minute or two.

Add zucchini, squash, and spices.

Top with tomatoes.

Cover and cook a few minutes to release juices from the veggies.
This will also allow the tomatoes to carry the spices down to the bottom of the pan for you and get the party started.

Stir, reduce to low heat, cover and simmer for 15-25 minutes as needed to soften the veggies. Stir occasionally.

Serve any way you like. My favorite is a topped with feta cheese. Enjoy!