Tag Archives: pasta sauce

Sour Cream White Bread and Spaghetti Sauce

I wanted to make a white sandwich bread and picked this sour cream white bread recipe found on “The Spruce” web site for something that was a bit different.

Sour cream replaces the egg, milk and butter found in many enriched bread recipes. The resulting bread was nice and fluffy and tasted great either served as an accompaniment to a bowl of pasta or with jam as a snack.

The bread is meant to be baked in a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan but the amount of dough I had (820 gm) seemed a bit excessive to me, so I made four (54 gm) buns with part of it. I didn’t bother using the egg white glaze suggested to give the loaf a glossy finish, though I did brush melted butter on the buns.

The dough rose beautifully during the bulk proofing in the oven with the light on, taking only one hour, and though my loaf shaping was a bit lacking, the final proofing took only 45 minutes and baked up golden brown. For some reason, I decided to slash the top of the loaf before baking but, obviously, I didn’t put my heart into the matter as the cut turned out pretty anemic.

 

 

The loaf pan was oiled and lined with a small sheet of parchment paper which made removing the finished loaf a breeze.

I didn’t want my buns to round up too much during proofing so I pressed them down after 15 min, as in my earlier hamburger buns, and let them continue proofing for another 30 minutes. I found the oven spring a bit disappointing though the crumb was nice.

While my bread was proofing, I made a quick batch of spaghetti sauce with a couple of 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes (with herbs and spices) and 4 hot Italian sausages. I doctored the sauce with some additional dried Italian herbs and hot pepper flakes and served them over ditali pasta. There was enough sauce for 2 two serving containers to be tucked away in the freezer for later. All in all, a very successful cooking day.

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Simple Spaghetti Sauce/ Sunday Gravy

A while ago I bought a big (100 fl oz) can of peeled, whole San Marzano tomatoes with the intention of making Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce with onion and butter. But you know what they say about ‘intentions’.

And then, a couple of days ago I was brainstorming an idea for a “Sunday sauce”, a pasta sauce that varies with the household making it. I was going to throw in some ground beef, a couple of pork chops, even a chicken breast, all of which transform a simple pasta sauce into a ‘gravy’. Then I realized that that pound of ground beef that I had in my freezer … wasn’t there after all. And I didn’t want to just use the chops and breast.

So I went to the market and ended up with five pounds of medium ground beef. At which point, I was faced with a variety of culinary possibilities. Three pounds were immediately portioned into freezer bags of one pound each and stored away for the future. I browned off the other two pounds and made a quick spicy beef burrito filling with half.

The second pound of cooked ground beef was drained well and frozen as well.

And now back to that can of tomatoes … I took out my dutch oven and sauteed a finely diced onion and a large clove of garlic slowly, over medium heat, in 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and 2 tbsp of unsalted butter until they were soft but not coloured at all. Then, I added about a teaspoon of dried basil (as I didn’t have any fresh), a half teaspoon of salt and a heaping teaspoon of sugar, and half the can of the tomatoes, crushed by hand and roughly seeded, along with their liquid. I had a bit of Parmesan cheese rind so I threw that in as well. After simmering the tomatoes, covered, for an hour …

… I pureed them with a hand blender and then simmered the sauce for another hour. Taste for seasoning. You might want to add another pinch or two of sugar if the sauce is too acidic.

The result was amazing.

Serve the sauce over pasta or polenta, as a dip for bread or pizza rolls/bites, dress a meatball sub or chicken parmigiana or use as an ingredient in a decadent pan of lasagna.

Pesto … What kind do YOU make?

Nothing new about this post. I had intended to make a different kind of pesto but my poor basil plants have gone to flower, cause I’m neglecting them. The big leaves at the bottom are turning yellow and dropping off. At least I’m watering every day which is a necessity in this hot weather and a hot weather alert is coming up again. I made a couple of tasty things while dealing with the visit from the handyman (and his wife and daughter who help out) who is here to weed the worst of the back.

PS: They got 1/2 the lemon curd rolls, all the cherry braid and the rest of the ciabatta bread that I’d baked earlier that day.

* * *

Of course, the classic Genovese pesto of basil, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan cheese with extra virgin olive oil is familiar to most people but you can mix and match your herbs, the nut used and even the oil.

Basil picked from my plants … FINALLY

For a strong tasting meat, like a leg of lamb, make a pesto with fresh parsley, toasted walnuts and walnut oil if you have it handy  … or just a nice neutral vegetable oil like canola. Butterfly your leg of lamb, spread the pesto over the meat, then roll it up, tie it and roast. The pesto will flavour the meat and keep it moist. If you put your leg of lamb on top of some potato wedges, the juices will flavour the potatoes. (Sorry, I dont’ have any pics to share.)

That reminds me. I really need to pick up a leg of lamb.

If you don’t want to buy a whole leg of lamb and butterfly it, pan fried lamb shoulder chops with a mint-cilantro pesto pasta is amazing.

Pesto garlic bread – Combine equal parts softened butter and pesto. Add some grated Parmesan cheese to the mixture as well, if desired. Spread over your favourite crusty bread and place the bread on a baking sheet under the broiler just until the bread is crunchy and the butter is melted

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta – serves 2

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 3/4-1 inch cubes
1/4 cup whipping cream or chicken broth if you want to watch your calories
2-3 tbsp pesto
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
150-200 gm fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti cooked according to package directions

In a large saute pan, heat up the oil over medium high heat. Saute the chicken cubes until cooked through.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the pesto, whipping cream and cheese. Mix well and add the cooked pasta.

Add salt and pepper as desired.

Serve with crusty bread and a salad.

VEGGIE Add-ins: Steamed broccoli florettes or halved cherry tomatoes sauteed briefly in the same pan, after the chicken was browned. Sauteed pepper strips or sliced mushrooms would also be great.

Butternut Squash – Ravioli and Soup

I hadn’t picked up a butternut squash in ages, so when I happened to spot a heap in my grocery store, before Christmas, I brought one home. And then forgot about it until I ran across it while looking for something else. The question was … what to do with it. I wanted to be creative but after the Christmas eve day and Christmas day meal preparation, I didn’t want to get TOO complicated.

And then I did.

(When I throw together the recipe for the soup, I may post it below. Or maybe I won’t. We’ll see.) DONE

Butternut Squash

Wash off the outside, cut into half. Scoop out the seeds and then cut each half into quarters. Place in a microwave safe bowl with about 1/4 cup of water and microwave on high for 5 minutes at a time until tender. (15-20 minutes should do it.) Peel and then puree.

I turned part of the pureed squash into a filling for home made ravioli.

Butternut Squash, Stilton Cheese and Bacon Ravioli in an Aglio e Olio (Garlic and oil) sauce

Easy Ravioli Dough – makes enough dough for 15 3 inch diameter or square ravioli with some leftover dough

1 cup flour
1 large egg, beaten lightly
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

Knead the dough for a few minutes, cover with food wrap and let sit on the counter at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Roll out to a thinness of 6 (out of 7) on pasta maker.

Butternut Squash, Stilton and Bacon Ravioli Filling – fills 15 3 inch diameter or square ravioli

4 oz/ 1/2 cup butternut squash puree
2 oz Stilton cheese, crumbled
4 strips bacon, fried to crispy and chopped
pinch of salt
grind or 2 of black pepper

Garlic and Olive Oil Sauce/Aglio e Olio

1 clove garlic, finely mince
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch or two of hot red pepper flakes (optional)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Mix the above together. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.

Fill ravioli and boil for about 2 minutes from fresh.

Saute minced garlic clove in extra virgin olive oil until just golden. Add cooked ravioli and toss to coat. A pinch of red pepper flakes may be added for a bit of a kick. Serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese.

The rest of the pureed butternut squash (~2 cups) became a curried sweet soup with the addition of some leftover poached pears.

Butternut Squash and Pear Curried Soup

Butternut Squash and Pear Curried Soup – serves 4

1 tbsp butter, unsalted
2 cups butternut squash puree
2-3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1-2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 heaping tbsp caramelized onions
1/2 cup sweet potato, coarsely chopped
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1 pear, peeled, cored and finely chopped*
sour cream to taste (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

* used ~1/2 cup leftover poached pear puree (cranberry mead, honey, sugar, vanilla pod, cinnamon stick)

In a large saute pan, fry the ginger, garlic and caramelized onion in butter, over medium heat until the garlic is translucent. Add curry and cumin powder and fry for about 1 minute more.

Add 2 cups of stock, sweet potato, pear and butternut squash puree. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender.

Using a stick or counter blender or food processor, puree the mixture until smooth. Return to saute pan if not using the stick blender and taste, adding salt and pepper to taste. If it’s too thick, whisk in additional stock and warm.

Stir in sour cream, if using.

Basic Marinara Sauce and Seafood Medley Marinara over Fettuccine

If you’re fortunate enough to have the freezer space, make a batch of marinara sauce, portion it out in 1 or 2 cup amounts and you’ll have the start of many great meals at your fingertips. Need ideas? This Food Network web site has 50 of them to start you off.

There are as many marinara sauce recipes as there are households in Italy, as far as I can tell.

The recipe below is an adaptation of Giada de Laurentiis’ though I’ve made several additions, as well as greatly reducing the amount of extra virgin olive oil she uses (1/2 cup!!).

Pureed and more rustic versions of the marinara sauce

I decided to combine 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce posted below with some chicken stock to thin it down, 300 grams of a frozen seafood medley (shrimp, octopus, clams and squid) and 250 grams of cooked pasta for a fast meal for 3. I threw in 4 oz of diced cremini mushrooms left over from shopping for another dish though it wasn’t really necessary.

All that seafood looks delicious, doesn’t it?

The finished dish

Basic Marinara Sauce – makes 9 cups of sauce

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 cups ground tomatoes
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 dried bay leaves
sugar, as needed

In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the celery, carrots, garlic, and the salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, dried basil and dried oregano, and simmer partially covered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.

Remove and discard the bay leafs. Taste and if too acidic or bitter, add 1/2 tsp sugar, stir through and taste again, adding more if needed.

Season the tomato sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste.

If you like a bit of spice, you can add some dried red pepper flakes to the individual containers depending on the recipe you use the marinara for.

Cool, then cover and refrigerate. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead.) Rewarm over medium heat before using.

NOTE: You may choose to puree the sauce when cooled a bit for a more refined sauce. I did so with half the batch but kept the remainder more ‘rustic’ in texture.