Showing posts with label pasta sauce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pasta sauce. Show all posts

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Weekday Bolognese Sauce #Recipe @PegCochran

This recipe comes from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything FAST.  It's a great cookbook with recipes that are fast but not boring and are still full of real ingredients. Many of the recipes are variations on a theme--you start with a base recipe and alter it this way or that way to produce different dishes.

While this bolognese did not have the incredible depth of Marcella Hazan's recipe which cooks for hours, it did have fantastic flavor and it's great to know you can pull it together on a weeknight!


2 TBL olive oil
1 lb. ground beef, pork or veal or a combination of all 3 (I used beef)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red or white wine
1/4 cup cream
1 lb. spaghetti or pasta of your choice
Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat 2 TBL oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add the meat, chopped onion, celery, carrot and onion. 

Brown meat

Add veggies to browning meat

When the meat is browned add 1/4 cup tomato paste and cook, stirring, about a minute.  Add wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.   Add diced tomatoes and let simmer until wine reduces by half.  Stir in cream and turn the heat as low as possible.

Add tomato paste, wine and cream

Boil pasta and drain, saving some of the pasta water.

Add some of the pasta water to the sauce if you want it saucier.  Pour over spaghetti, add grated Paremesan and enjoy!

As a variation, add 1 pound finely chopped mushrooms, or use half the meat and twice the amount of veggies, or omit the can of diced tomatoes.

These instructions are not exactly as Bittman wrote them--he gives a step-by-step timeline of what to do when.  I prefer having my chopping all done before I start, but that's up to you.


The entire town of Cranberry Cove is popping with excitement. Monica Albertson is baking cranberry goodies by the dozen and shopkeepers are decking out their storefronts for the first annual Winter Walk—an event dreamed up by the mayor to bring visitors to the town during a normally dead time of year.

But it’s the mayor who turns up dead during the grand opening ceremony, his lifeless body making its entrance in a horse-drawn sleigh. Monica’s mother and stepmother quickly become the prime suspects when it’s discovered that the mayor was dating both of them, and to make things worse, her half brother Jeff uncovers a clue buried near one of the bogs on Sassamanash Farm. Now it’s up to Monica to find out who really put the mayor on ice.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Nonna's Sunday Gravy #recipe @ljkarst #giveaway

Lucy Burdette: I had the pleasure of reading an early copy of Leslie Karst's new book, Dying for a Taste. I loved it and hope you enjoy it too--along with this amazing-sounding sauce! Welcome Leslie!


Nonna’s Sunday Gravy by Leslie Karst

Nonna Giovanna is the 86-year-old grandmother of my protagonist, Sally Solari. Tiny but feisty, Nonna is never happier than when, having spent the day cooking, she gets to scold guests in her thick Tuscan accent that they need to eat more: Mangia, mangia! Luckily for Sally’s family, however, when it’s Nonna’s mouth-watering Sunday Gravy on the menu, not much scolding is ever necessary.
This hearty, tomato-based stew is called “gravy” by many Italian-American families, as it’s traditionally eaten as two separate courses.

The sauce (i.e., “gravy”) is served over pasta as the primo, or first course:

And the braised meat is served as the secondo, or second course, with a vegetable or salad contorno (side dish):


(The following recipe is excerpted—with slight changes—from those included in Dying for a Taste. But unlike in the book, you get photos of the process, here!)


¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ pounds beef chuck or short ribs (slightly more if bone-in)
1 ½ pounds pork chops or shoulder (slightly more if bone-in)
1 pound sweet Italian sausages
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (2-3 cloves)
2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onion (2 med. onions)
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 28-oz. cans plum tomatoes
½ bottle hearty red wine (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
salt and black pepper

cooked penne, rigatoni, or spaghetti
grated Parmesan, Romano, or other hard Italian cheese


Cut the beef and pork shoulder into three pieces each and season with salt and pepper.

In batches, so as to not crowd the pot, fry the beef, pork, and sausages over a medium-high heat in half the olive oil (2 tablespoons) until golden brown on all sides. Nonna Giovanna likes to prepare her Sunday gravy in an enameled Dutch oven, but any large, heavy pot will do. (Note that it’s best to avoid cast iron, as the acid in the tomatoes can leach out the iron, imparting a metallic taste to the gravy. As you’ll see from my photos, however, I forgot this important fact, only remembering after the dish had been braising for several hours. Since my pot is well-seasoned, however, the dish tasted fine. But don’t you make the same mistake!) Remove the meat to a large plate once browned.

If needed, add the rest of the olive oil to the pot, and sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat until the onions are just beginning to brown.

Add the can of tomato paste and stir into the onions and garlic, and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the paste turns a deep, reddish brown (about 5 minutes).

Add the two cans of tomatoes, with juice, to the pot. Using a fork and sharp knife, cut the largest tomatoes into quarters and the smaller ones in half.

Then add the wine, sugar, and herbs, and stir.

Add the meat (along with any liquid on the plate) back to the pot, and stir to cover the meat. If needed, add water so that the liquid in the pot just covers the meat.

Simmer over low heat, partially covered, for 3 hours, stirring occasionally to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pot. When done, the meat should be almost falling apart and the sauce fairly thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the meat from the pot if you are going to serve it as a separate course. If not, you can cut the meat into smaller pieces and mix it into the sauce, being sure to remove any bones.

Serve the gravy over cooked pasta, topped with grated hard Italian cheese. Garnish with more of the chopped herbs, for added color and flavor. (See photos at top of post.)

Buon appetito!

Readers: Does your family sit down together regularly for a traditional meal prepared by your nonna (or abuela, or nana, or babushka)? If so, I’d love to hear about the dishes you eat! Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a copy of DYING FOR A TASTE!

BIO: Leslie Karst is the author of the culinary mystery, Dying for a Taste, the first of the Sally Solari Mystery series (Crooked Lane Books). A former research and appellate attorney, Leslie now spends her days cooking, gardening, reading, cycling, singing alto in the local community chorus, and of course writing. She and her wife, Robin, and their Jack Russell mix, Ziggy, split their time between Santa Cruz, California and Hilo, Hawai‘i. Visit her at Leslie Karst Author for more.


SYNOPSIS: After losing her mother to cancer, Sally Solari quits her job as an attorney to help her dad run his old-style Italian eatery in Santa Cruz, California, but soon finds that managing the front of the house is far from her dream job of running her own kitchen.

Then her Aunt Letta is found stabbed to death at Gauguin, Letta’s swank Polynesian-French restaurant, and Sally is the only one who can keep the place afloat. When the Gauguin sous chef is accused of the crime, however, Sally must delve into the unfamiliar world of organic food, sustainable farming, and animal rights activists—not to mention a few family secrets—to help clear his name and catch the true culprit before her timer runs out.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Spaghetti Sauce with or without Meatballs #lowsodium #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Finding a decent lower sodium red pasta sauce is harder than you might think. In the past, I've used Classico red pepper sauce when a shortcut was needed for an Italian dish. But the sodium count in that sauce is higher than I should be eating. I tried a few low or no salt sauces and found them lacking in taste. Honestly? They were terrible. So what's a girl to do? Make her own, in a big batch, in order to freeze some for the future. And keep in mind, you can adjust ingredients as you prefer.

Ingredients for the sauce

Three large cans diced tomatoes in juice, no salt added
One large can crushed tomatoes in sauce
Two large onions
3 to 4 cloves of garlic
Five carrots
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon or more hot red pepper flakes
Two bay leaves
1 tablespoon sugar, more to taste
1/2 cup red wine
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
One can tomato paste

Grind the carrots in your food processor, followed by the onions and garlic. Sauté all this in a large pot with 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil. When the vegetables are soft, add the tomato products, plus oregano hot pepper flakes, bay leaves, and red wine. 

Once that mixture has simmered for 15 minutes, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar depending on your taste, and the chopped parsley and basil.

Simmer the sauce for 1 to 2 hours. I used some of it for spaghetti and meatballs, and saved the rest for a giant pan of stuffed shells.

Here's my recipe for low-sodium meatballs:
1 1/4 pound organic ground beef
Three squares of low sodium cornbread (I had some in my freezer, made using my regular cornbread recipe, only replacing no sodium baking powder for the regular baking powder, and cutting the salt)
One egg
1 teaspoon lower sodium Worcestershire sauce (I like the Annie's organic brand, 75 mg per teaspoon)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
One large garlic clove, crushed

Crumble the cornbread. Mix all the ingredients together, taking care to distribute everything so you don't leave little packets of garlic or spices. In a 350 oven, bake the meatballs until browned, about half an hour. I did mine on a cookie tray lined with parchment, so the cleanup was very easy. Turn the meatballs halfway through so both sides brown.

Mix the cooked meatballs with the sauce and serve with a little fresh grated Parmesan. (I'm sorry to say that we ate this dinner before I remembered to take a photo:). 

All the tomato products added up to about 1500 mg of sodium, and there are probably 15 servings in the pot. Compare that to the sauce I formerly used, Classico spicy red pepper, 310 mg for half a cup. 1500 for the jar, which serves five.

KILLER TAKEOUT is coming in April, but available for pre-order today!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cleo Coyle Shares a Recipe for Italian Stew from a Reality TV Guest

Cleo Coyle, pasta eater,
is author of The Coffeehouse
After coming home from a trip to Italy, Kerry Milliron, a longtime friend of mine, told me about a traditional Italian dish called spiedina. I asked him if he would share the recipe, and he was happy to provide the details. (I was equally happy to make the stew, take digital photos, and go into a food trance of enjoyment as I ate it.)

This old school Italian stew is a very simple one to make. It also brings me right back to my childhood when my Italian-born mother and aunt would make a long-simmering meat sauce for Sunday’s pasta. If you make it, may you and your loved ones eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

Watch Kerry on
the Discovery Channel!

You can see my friend Kerry Milliron as a guest in an episode of the new reality show Cash Cab, airing tomorrow (Wednesday), March 14, at 9:30 AM. If you're curious and you have the Discovery Channel in your cable mix, check out the show and have fun. :) 

I don't have a picture of Ker (just his lovely wife, Julie, in the photo below), but if you forced me to give you a celeb lookalike, it would have to be Jason Statham of the Transporter movies. In other words, if you see a man who looks like this...tell him Cleo Coyle says buon appetito!

(Kerry is a true Renaissance man, IMO. He's been an actor, dancer, poet, author. He's a devoted husband who cooks with passion and lives with joie de vivre. He also happens to be a publishing exec at Random House, and none of the above ever stopped him from having fun on the streets of NYC or Italy.)

Kerry's Spiedina: 
An Italian Stew

Text below courtesy of Kerry Milliron 

Spiedina is a simple stew that I first tasted in Ortona, on the Adriatic coast of Italy. The root of spiedina, in Italian, literally means skewered, and the nearby mountain town of Guardiagrele is famous for their skewered grilled meats. 

The Ortonians--whose more temperate clime allows them nearly year-round access to fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, etc.--probably found the spitted meats of Guardiagrele tasty but dry, and used them to add gusto to some of their local recipes. Their version of spiedina combines chunks of meat with a thick tomato base, for a rich ragout that's as quick and simple as bakery pizza.

~ Kerry

Kerry Milliron lives with his wife,
Julie, in New York's East village  

Julia Milliron in an ancient kitchen of Herculaneum, Italy, a
Roman town destroyed 
 in 79 AD, along with Pompeii, by the volcanic  eruption of Mount Vesuvius. (Photo by Kerry Milliron.)

Kerry's Spiedina: 
An Italian Stew


Salt & pepper
1 Pound of cubed beef tenderloin*
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped onion
1 clove chopped garlic
6 inches of dry (hard) Italian sausage (If you can't find dry sausage, try pepperoni instead.)*
1 28-ounce can of crushed Italian tomatoes

Step 1: Grill (or saute) your beef cubes until nicely browned, and set aside. 

Step 2: In a large saucepan over med-low flame, heat olive oil, and saute chopped onion, garlic, and your chunks of dry, hard Italian sausage for about 5 minutes. (If sausage begins to smoke or burn, temporarily remove it.)

Step 3: Stir in can of crushed Italian tomatoes, add browned beef cubes, and simmer, partially covered, over low flame for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally (about every 15 minutes). NOTE: If the stew boils over your pot, lower the flame and take off the lid completely. If the stew appears to be cooking down too quickly (if it becomes too thick or dry too soon) just add a bit of water and continue cooking. Don't try to rush the process, the stew should slow-cook 90 minutes to 2 hours for the most flavorful results.

Serve with crusty bread and a robust beverage. Store leftover stew in refrigerator.

Final Notes from Cleo...

* When I made Kerry's recipe, I upped the beef cube amount to 1-1/2 pounds. 

* If you can't find dry (hard) Italian sausage, ask the folks in your grocery store's deli section to help you locate it or try substituting pepperoni. 

* As with all stews, this one tastes even better the second day. Spices continue to blend, offering an even more flavorful experience. On Day 1, I ate the dish as a stew with crusty bread and red wine. On Day 2, I ladled the reheated stew over a big bowl of spaghetti because it makes a delicious meat sauce for pasta. 

Thanks again to Kerry for sharing his recipe. ~ Cleo

Perito, Italy  (Photo by Kerry Milliron)

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of

To get more recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or 
learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rigatoni with Chicken Thighs and Sausage

Baby, it's cold outside! Brrr. The temps are headed for 18 degrees! Time for hot chocolate with whipped cream and hearty meals that stick to your ribs. I don't cook pasta very often, but the frigid weather had me longing for a nice dish of al dente pasta with a hearty sauce. The only problem is that I'm often at a loss for a good sauce. Yes, I know about the stuff in jars, but homemade is always better.

So, I did what I often do when it comes to pasta sauces. Checked out recipes. Too light, too summery, too exotic, too spicy -- in the end, I made up my own and it's a nice week night dinner that doesn't take long to prepare. The most time consuming part is cutting up the chicken thighs -- but they don't take long to cook, so I figure it balances out. It's a very easy sauce to make, so don't shy away.

Rigatoni with Chicken Thighs and Sausage

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
6 boneless chicken thighs
1/4 cup flour
2 pork sausages, sliced (I used Bratwurst!)
1/2 cup white wine
1 leek, sliced (1/3 cup chopped onion would be fine)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon oregano
28 ounces diced tomatoes (2 small cans or 1 large one)
salt to taste
heavy cream
8-10 ounces rigatoni or penne

Cut the chicken thighs into 3/4 inch squares, trimming any fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and turn, then add the flour and turn several times to coat.

Heat the olive oil and brown the chicken thighs. Add the sliced sausage. Scoop the meat out and set it aside.

Pour the white wine into the pan to deglaze it and add the leek, garlic and oregano. When the leek and garlic have softened, add the diced tomatoes and return the meat to the sauce.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.

Simmer the sauce gently until the chicken is cooked through. This doesn't take long! Don't overcook the chicken. In fact if you're waiting for everyone to arrive, bring it to a simmer and turn it off. Reheat when everyone is ready to sit down to eat, making sure the chicken has cooked through.

Salt to taste. Remove from heat and pour cream into the sauce -- Rachel Ray style -- by pouring it in a circle twice (eyeball it!).

Ladle sauce over pasta and enjoy!