Sloane Taylor - Sweet as Honey, Hotter Than Hell

What’s Cooking – 2015 Archives

December’s Choice

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!

This is my favorite time of the year. I love all the excitement and secrecy, but it sure does get hectic and costly. Studs is the money man in our home and no one rules a wallet better than him. So to keep his purse strings happy and save my sanity, I plan several easy meals to keep us going. Below is a tasty offering that works great for dinner if takeout isn’t in your diet.

• Tomato Soup
• Grilled Mozzarella Cheese Sandwich
• Tossed Salad
• White Wine – Pinot Grigio or Riesling

tomato soup

Tomato Soup

1 can of your favorite brand for 2 people
Chicken stock
Dollop of sour cream
A sprinkle of basil

Open the can and pour into a saucepan. Should your canned soup require adding 1 can of water, instead add ¾ can chicken stock. Mix well and heat to a slow boil.

To serve, pour soup into a cup, then add a dollop of sour cream and the basil.

Revved Up Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Mozzarella Cheese Sandwich

The following directions are for one sandwich:

2 slices Italian bread
2 slices mozzarella cheese
2 slices Provolone cheese
2 slices tomato
1 heaping tbsp. grated Parmesan
¼ tsp. garlic powder
Sprinkle of ground thyme
2 tbsp. butter/margarine or so
Thin ham slice optional

Preheat a heavy 8-10 inch skillet or griddle over medium heat.

Spread the butter or margarine on the outside of one slice of bread per sandwich. Set it in the hot pan and then layer on the cheeses one slice at a time. The tomato should be in the middle with the second cheese slices placed on top.

Sprinkle with garlic powder and thyme. Cover with the second slice of bread, and butter the outside.

Fry until the bottom slice is browned to your taste. Flip the sandwiches and fry the other side until it reaches the right color. You made need to add a bit more butter or margarine.

Serve the soup and sandwich for an easy tasty meal and relax with the wine while you share quiet time with your loved ones.

November’s Choice

Each Thanksgiving we have at least twenty people for a sit-down dinner. I cook the meal and the guests supply the appetizers, deserts, and wine. So turn on the football game, grab your aprons, and let’s start cooking!

• Roast Turkey
• Stuffing
• Mashed Potatoes
• Candied Sweet Potatoes
• Sautéed Broccoli
• Corn
• Cranberry Sauce
• Gravy
• White Wine – Riesling

Turkey Breast

Roast Turkey

Turkey
Butter
2 leeks including some green – chopped
2 large onion – chopped
15 baby carrots – chopped
4 tomatoes – chopped
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. dried marjoram
1 large bay leaf
Bacon strips to cover breast
Chicken stock

Disposable pan
Cooking rack
Cookie sheet – for stability

Place unopened turkey on a cloth lined cookie sheet and thaw in refrigerator 7 hours per pound or one day for every four pounds of frozen turkey.

Thanksgiving Morning

If turkey’s not completely thawed, set in a large pot of cold water to complete. Dispose of packet inserted in cavity. Rinse well, then pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Cooking times:
10 – 18 lbs. 2 – 2½ hrs.
18 – 22 lbs. 2½ – 3 hrs.
22 – 24 lbs. 3 – 3½ hrs.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a large frying pan. When the foam subsides, lay the turkey on its side breast down. Brown the breast until golden, first one side then the other. Be careful moving the turkey around, it’s heavy and awkward.

Set disposable pan on cookie sheet. Insert cooking rack. Add chopped vegetables. Place turkey on rack breast up. Lay bacon slices over breast to cover well. Pour in enough chicken broth to cover the pan bottom by 1 inch. Cover the turkey and pan edges with aluminum foil, crimping the sides well.

Remove from oven at the predetermined time. To test if the bird is done, use a paper towel or pot holder and shake hands with its leg. The leg should move freely. If you use a meat thermometer it should read 185° when inserted in the thigh. For an accurate reading, be sure not to touch bone. Tent with foil and allow to rest 30 – 45 minutes before carving.

Stuffing

1 package bread stuffing cubes plain or seasoned
½ pound Jimmy Dean Original Sausage in the tube
1 rib celery chopped
½ medium onion chopped
1 stick butter
Chicken stock about 2 cups maybe a little more
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 egg

The stuffing may be prepared a day or two in advance up to the baking point.

Fry sausage, breaking into small chunks until lightly brown.

Melt butter in a medium size skillet. When the foam subsides add the celery and onion. Sauté 3-4 minutes, be careful not to let it brown.

Empty bread cubes into a large bowl. Add sausage and vegetables with all their juices. Mix well.

Beat egg in a small bowl. Pour onto stuffing. Sprinkle sage and thyme across the top. Mix well.

Stir in chicken stock until mixture is very moist, but not soupy.

Spoon into baking dish, do not pack in, and cover tightly with foil. (This is your stopping point if you make this before Thanksgiving. Refrigerate the stuffing until you are ready to bake it.)

Thanksgiving Day

Remove stuffing from the refrigerator early in the day to allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the stuffing for a half hour. Remove foil and continue to bake until the top has browned.

Mashed Potatoes

1 small russet potato per person
Chicken stock
Butter
Sour cream
Milk
Pepper

The Day Before

Pour one inch chicken stock into saucepan. Peel and quarter the potatoes, then place in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by one inch. Put a lid on the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 25 minutes. Test for doneness by poking a fork into a potato. It should insert easily.

Drain potatoes. Mash well without adding other ingredients. Cool completely in a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

Thanksgiving Day

Remove potatoes from the refrigerator early in the day to allow them to come to room temperature. When you are ready to serve, microwave potatoes until hot. Stir in butter, sour cream, milk, and pepper to the consistency you prefer.

Sweet Potatoes

Candied Sweet Potatoes

32oz. can of sweet potatoes – my favorite is Royal Prince Candied Sweet Potatoes
½ cup brown sugar firmly packed
1 stick of butter
1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Drain the potatoes in a colander. Cut large pieces in half. Lay potatoes into a 13×9 inch glass baking dish.

Sprinkle brown sugar across the top, then dot with butter.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Scatter marshmallows over the yams and bake for 15 minutes or until the marshmallows are brown.

Services 8.

Broccoli Stir-fry

4 mini carrots sliced on an angle
½ cup olive oil – possibly more
½ medium onion sliced
1 inch piece gingerroot peeled and cut into strips
1 head broccoli trimmed and cut into florets
½ small sweet red pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips
½ small yellow pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips
2 large garlic cloves pressed
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 green onions sliced on an angle
5 mini Bello mushrooms cleaned and sliced into thirds
1 tbsp. lime or lemon juice

Have all the ingredients prepped and on the counter before you begin cooking.

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add onion, carrot and gingerroot. Sauté until carrot is almost soft. Test by inserting a toothpick into the carrot. Remove as many gingerroot pieces as you can find. Don’t worry if some are left in the pan.

Add broccoli, red and yellow peppers, and garlic. Sprinkle on red pepper flakes. Stir constantly to insure broccoli is well coated with the oil. Add more oil if necessary. Squeeze on the lime or lemon juice. Sauté 2 – 4 minutes, but be sure the broccoli and peppers still have crunch to them.

Blend in green onions and mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are heated through. Serve quickly.

Serves 4 – 6 so adjust accordingly.

From the corn through the gravy you’ll learn just how lazy I can be on holidays.

Corn

1 can of corn per 4 people – my favorite is Green Giant Niblets
butter

Drain corn, then pour into micro wave safe bowl. Lay 2 or 3 pats of butter across the top. Micro wave for 3 minutes, stir and serve.

Frozen corn

Follow package instructions

Cranberry Sauce

1 can of sauce per 6 people – my favorite is Ocean Spray Jellied

Lay the sauce into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator until ready to serve.

Gravy

1 jar of gravy for 4 people – my favorite is Heinz Home Style Gravy Roasted Turkey

Pour the gravy into a saucepan. Stir in a few tablespoons of the juice from the roasted turkey pan. Heat through and serve.

Have a wonderful holiday!

October’s Choice

Celebrate Oktoberfest American Style with this menu. Be sure to invite your family and friends. Have them contribute different types of beer for everyone to sample and enjoy.

The ribs and burgers work great on the grill, but you can also cook them on the stove.

• Barbecued Pork Ribs
• Hamburgers Sloane Style
• My Mom’s Potato Salad
• Baked Beans
• Cold beer

BBQ Pork Ribs

Photo by jackthumm

Barbecued Pork Ribs

Pork ribs 1 slab per 2 adults if you also make the burgers
Beer
Chicken stock
Barbeque sauce – Sweet Baby Ray’s is my favorite

Preheat oven to 325°F

Place ribs in a pan and in a single layer. Pour in about a half inch of stock and the same amount of beer. Cover tight and bake 1 – 1½ hours. You want the meat tender but not falling off the bone.

Carefully remove ribs from pan to a cookie sheet. Discard cooking liquid. Spread barbeque sauce over ribs.

Heat grill to medium. Carefully rub vegetable or olive oil onto the grates. Lay ribs on grate and grill 10-15 minutes turning once and basting with sauce.

Hamburgers on Grill

Photo by jackthumm

Hamburgers Sloane Style

¼ pound per adult ground chuck
¼ pound per adult ground sirloin
4 dashes per adult Worcestershire Sauce
1 egg per 1½ pounds meat
chives snipped, fresh or jarred
Your favorite cheese
Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced medium, and sautéed in a little butter
Fresh rolls

Beat egg lightly in a small bowl. Combine the meat, Worcestershire Sauce, and handful of chives into a mixing bowl. When the mixture is well combined, break off clumps of the meat and form balls. Set them onto waxed paper, then cover with another sheet of waxed paper. Use a cake plate or large soup bowl bottom to press the meat into a patty the thickness you like. Refrigerate until ready to grill.

On medium heat, cook patties until they are done to your preference. Be sure to turn only once.

About two minutes before the burgers are done, spoon mushrooms across the top of the patty, and then lay on the cheese. Watch carefully so that the cheese melts but does run off the burger.

Use any type roll that suits you. Brush the insides with a little olive oil and grill a few minutes Dress the burgers with ketchup, mustard, lettuce, onion, and tomato.

Potato Salad

My Mom’s Potato Salad

1 medium red potato per person
1 hardboiled egg for every 2 potatoes
1 stalk celery for every 4 potatoes, chopped small
½ medium onion for every 4 potatoes, chopped small
Pepper
Mayonnaise – NO substitutes

Boil the potatoes in their jackets until just fork tender. Remove from pot as they are done and allow to cool.

While the potatoes are cooking, lay the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water, and place a lid on the pan. Bring to a full boil, then shut off the heat and allow to sit on the burner for 8 minutes. Peel, then slice in half widthwise and lengthwise. Slice into medium-size pieces. Set aside covered with plastic wrap or a paper towel to eliminate drying out.

Combine celery and onion in a large bowl. Grind in a healthy amount of fresh pepper. Stir in several large spoonfuls of mayonnaise. You have to gauge by the number of potatoes you use. Add eggs. Mix well.

Scrape the skins off the potatoes. Slice in half widthwise then lengthwise. Slice into the bite size pieces. Add two at a time to the mayo blend and mix well. Continue until all the potatoes are added.

Check the salad for dryness. It should be moist but not swimming in mayo. Add mayo as needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

My Baked Beans

Baked Beans

1 small can Bush’s Honey Baked Beans
1 small can Bush’s Homestyle Baked Beans
2 tbsp. dried mustard
2 tbsp. maple syrup – optional
2 strips bacon

Preheat oven to 325°.

Pour beans into a metal loaf pan or oven safe dish. Stir in mustard and syrup. Lay bacon strips on top. Bake in the center of the oven uncovered for 45 minutes – 1 hour or until desired consistency.

To cook on the grill:

Heat grill to medium.

Prepare as above, then place pan on top rack. Cook about 45 minutes – 1 hour or until desired consistency.

To serve – discard bacon.

September’s Choice

• Sloppy Joes
• Sweet Corn on the Grill
• Snazzy Sliced Tomatoes
• Crusty buns
• Cold Beer and Carbonated beverages

Sloppy_Joe

Sloppy Joes

1 lb. ground beef
½ medium onion chopped fine
1 celery rib chopped fine
3 tbsp. dried mustard
½ tbsp. molasses
3 tbsp. ketchup
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup chicken stock – plus more if required
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Brown ground beef in a medium sized frying pan. Be sure to break up any chunks. Add onion and celery. Continue to fry until beef is nicely browned. Drain in a colander.

In a medium sized saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients to taste, then add the beef and vegetables. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Monitor closely and add more chicken stock if sauce gets dry.

**It’s easy to cook Sloppy Joes on the grill. Follow the recipe above, just be sure to use heavy pans and stir frequently.

Serve on crusty buns.

corn

Sweet Corn on the Grill

1 ear fresh corn per person – do not remove husk
Water
Butter or margarine
Salt

Pour cool water into a container large enough to hold the sweet corn. Soak corn still in its husk at least 1 hour, but no more than 2 hours.

Set grill on medium high. Remove corn from the water and lay the ears on the grill. Roast until the husk is brown on that side, then turn and repeat the process. Total cooking time is about 20 – 25 minutes.

To serve – peel back the husks. Roll the ears in butter or margarine, then sprinkle on a touch of salt, and enjoy!

Snazzy Sliced Tomatoes

1 tomato per two people
Red wine vinegar
Garlic powder or fresh garlic minced
Fresh or dried chives

Prepare this dish about an hour or so before serving.

Slice tomatoes ½” thick and arrange on a serving plate.

Drizzle vinegar over the tomatoes, then dust with garlic powder or fresh garlic. Sprinkle plenty of chives across the top.

Set on the counter away from sun or heat to flavor through.

This is really Studs’ recipe, but I hijacked it for you all. It’s a perfect summer meal and easy to prepare. Plus, the leftover Turkey makes marvelous sandwiches.

August’s Choice

• Turkey Breast on the Grill
• Baked Potatoes on the Grill
• Sautéed Broccoli
• White Wine – Riesling

Turkey on the Grill

Turkey Breast on the Grill

1 leek – chopped
1 large onion – chopped
10 baby carrots – chopped
3 tomatoes – chopped
Turkey Breast
Bacon strips to cover breast
Chicken stock

Disposable pan
Cooking rack
Cookie sheet – for stability and to prevent pan from burning

Thaw turkey breast in refrigerator for at least one day. Dispose of packet inserted in breast. If not completely thawed, set in a large pot of cold water to complete. Rinse well.

This method is for a gas grill. Preheat grill, both burners, on medium for 15 minutes. Total cooking time is 2 to 3 hours.

Set disposable pan on cookies sheet. Insert cooking rack. Add chopped vegetables. Pat turkey skin dry then place on rack breast up. Lay bacon slices over breast to cover well. Pour in enough chicken broth to cover the pan bottom at least 1 inch. Cover the turkey and pan edges with aluminum foil, crimping the sides well.

Place pan in the middle of the grill. Close lid.

Check the liquid level every hour of roasting. Add water as needed.

Remove foil after 1 ½ hours to allow turkey to brown a bit.

Remove from heat when done. Allow to rest 15 minutes before carving.

Baked Potatoes on the Grill

1 russet potato per person
Olive oil
Aluminum foil
Butter
Sour cream
Chives
Pepper

Wash and dry the potatoes. Rub a little olive oil over each potato to moisten the skin. Rip off aluminum foil square large enough to wrap each potato separately.

Place potatoes on upper shelf of grill or, if you have enough space, alongside the turkey pan. Grill for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Test for doneness by poking the potato with a toothpick. It should insert easily.

To serve, remove foil, slit potatoes open, press the sides together to allow potato to mound. Top with the butter, sour cream, chives, and pepper.

Sautéed Broccoli

1 fresh broccoli
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
1 glove garlic pressed
¼ cup parmesan cheese

Cut broccoli segments from the stem. Discard stem.

Preheat a frying pan over medium heat. Pour in olive oil, then add butter. When the foam subsides, add the broccoli pieces, turning them to coat well with the oil and butter. You may need a little more oil. Be careful not to add too much.

Add the pressed garlic over the top of the broccoli. Sauté until just tender, about 6 minutes.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.

July’s Choice

Sunday suppers are always a challenge with our busy schedules. We want a meal that’s tasty, easy, and doesn’t take an hour to prepare. This menu is perfect for that criterion. Make the salad the day before so the flavors blend.

• Pasta Salad
• Grilled Sirloin Steak & Cheese Sandwiches
• Mild Red Wine – Merlot

Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

3 cups dried medium shells, macaroni, or any curly pasta
1½ cups real mayonnaise
1 tbsp. sour cream
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder, NOT garlic salt
¼ tsp. thyme
1 cup celery, sliced thin
4 green onions, sliced thin include a large portion of green
2 large hard boiled eggs, chopped fine
¼ rounded cup Italian style or roasted red pepper, chopped

Cook pasta according to package directions. Be careful not to overcook. The pasta should be firm yet tender. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water until completely cool. Spread the noodles over a dish towel to dry thoroughly while you make the dressing.

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and thyme in large bowl, stirring well after each addition.

Add celery, onions, egg. Stir well. Lay red pepper on a paper towel to absorb a little of the oil. Move pepper to a cutting board, chop, and blend into the salad.

Fold in pasta. This may look like too much sauce, but it’s not. The pasta absorbs sauce as it sits. Spoon the mixture into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

Serves 6

Grilled Sirloin Steak Sandwich

Grilled Sirloin Steak & Cheese Sandwiches

4 fresh Kaiser rolls, cut in half
1½ pounds sirloin steak, about 1 inch thick
1 roma tomatoes, sliced into 4 pieces
4 slices mozzarella, provolone, or horseradish cheese, not too think
Olive oil
Garlic powder, NOT garlic salt

Preheat a heavy 8-10 inch skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.

Brush a light coating of olive oil on the inside of each half of the rolls. Sprinkle on a little garlic powder. Grill rolls oil side down until lightly browned. Remove to a cutting board.

Slice the sirloin into thin pieces lengthwise. You’ll end up with about 7 slices. Drizzle a little more olive oil in the hot pan. Add meat and sauté about 2 minutes or until done to your preference. Well done is not good for this recipe.

Turn the steak, add a tomato slice, and top with cheese. Cover pan until cheese melts.

Lay meat on the bottom buns, cover with the top one, and serve.

Makes 4 sandwiches

June’s Choice

Let’s talk Leftovers. That’s right, a tasty way to use those bits of beef you’ve frozen and promised yourself to reheat before they ended in the trash. This recipe works well with all types of beef and pork. Be sure to include any of the juices that have collected in your container.

• Shepherd’s Pie
• Salad
• Fresh Italian or French Bread

shepherds pie

The Filling

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 large carrot, chopped fine
3 gloves garlic, pressed
1 ½ pounds leftover beef, chopped bite size or smaller
4 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed, or 1 teas. dried
4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed, or 1 teas. dried
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
½ can tomato paste
¼ cup dry red wine
½ cup beef stock

These amounts are not absolute. Adjust the ingredients to your taste.

Pour olive oil into a large, hot frying pan and stir in butter. Sauté onion and carrot until the onion is translucent and tender, but not brown, about 5 – 7 minutes.

Add garlic and stir for about 30 – 60 seconds.

Blend in the meat, herb leaves, and pepper.

Stir in Worcestershire Sauce, stir, tomato paste, stir, red wine and cook for 2 minutes.

Pour the stock into the pan and heat through for 3 minutes.

You don’t have to be adamant on all the times. They are merely guides so you don’t rush the process.

Mashed Potatoes

5 russet potatoes
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup milk
3 ½ tbsp. soft butter
1 egg yolk
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ cup Parmesan cheese

Peel and quarter potatoes. Fill a saucepan with enough water to cover the potatoes by an inch or so. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender. Drain pan.

Add sour cream, some of the milk, all of the butter, and the pepper to the pan. Mash the potatoes. Add small amounts of additional milk until you achieve the consistency you prefer. Add the egg yolk and half the Parmesan cheese. Stir well.

Cover with aluminum foil to keep from drying out until you assemble the pie.

Assemble the Pie

Preheat oven to 400°F or 204°C

Scoop the meat into individual ovenproof dishes or a deep casserole. I prefer the individual dishes as this recipe freezes well or will hold in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Fill bowls no more than three-quarters full.

Spoon the mashed potatoes over the top and spread to the edges. This can be a little tricky. Don’t press down on the spoon or the juice will flood over the potatoes. Sprinkle with a generation portion of Parmesan cheese.

Set bowls on a cookie sheet to protect the oven should they boil over. Bake 20 minutes or so to lightly brown the potatoes and set the pie.

If you use the individual bowls, serve them on a dinner plate to protect your tabletop from the heat. The pie is extremely hot. Be sure to warn your diners so no one burns their mouth.

Tossed Salad

Lettuce from 2 different types torn into bite size pieces, red leaf and head are excellent choices
Tomatoes, chopped
Cucumber, peeled and sliced
Zucchini, diced
Green Onions sliced, be sure to add some of the green
Mushrooms, sliced

Combine everything, or any grouping you like. Cover with a damp paper towel and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Toss with your favorite dressing, for this menu I prefer Italian. Be careful not to add too much dressing or the lettuce will get soggy.

Serves 3

May’s Choice

I’m big on creating new recipes and making them easy. This menu fits that criteria and is wonderful served with a tossed salad, fresh Italian bread, and a good bottle of red wine.

• Curly Pasta Bake
• Italian Sausage
• Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce

Curly Pasta Bake

Curly Pasta Bake

1# Campanelle pasta or other curly pasta
8 cups Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce (see below)
¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese
¾ cup grated provolone cheese
¼ heaping cup grated parmesan

Coat the bottom of an ovenproof dish with 1 cup sauce. Add in dried pasta and 4 cups sauce. Mix well.

Sprinkle a ¼ cup of mozzarella and provolone across the top of the pasta.

Ladle over 3 cups of sauce.

Scatter remaining mozzarella and provolone over the mixture.

Dust on parmesan cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.

To Bake:

Remove dish from fridge 2 hours before baking.

Preheat oven to 325°F

Bake 30 minutes or until hot.

Leftovers freeze well. You made need more sauce or a little chicken stock when you reheat.

Serves 4

Italian Sausage

Italian Sausage

5 Italian sausage links – mild or hot
½ cup chicken stock
Red and/or yellow peppers cleaned and cut into strips
Olive oil
Oregano

Preheat oven to 350°F

Pour the chicken stock into a baking dish. Nestle the sausage in the stock. Bake for 30 minutes.

Turn the sausage, then lay the pepper strips on top. Sprinkle with oregano and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cook for 30 minutes.

Leftover sausage freezes well. Later, use them for sandwiches on crusty rolls and smothered in the tomato sauce. Serve with French fries for an easy meal.

Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce

Spaghetti-Sauce

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped fine
1½ tbsp. garlic, pressed
4 cups tomato puree or sauce
1 six-ounce can tomato paste, pesto type
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup dry red wine
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 bay leaf2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a 3-4 quart saucepan over medium heat until it shimmers. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and transparent, 6-8 minutes. Do not let them brown. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Pour in the tomato sauce and all remaining ingredients. Stir well after each addition.

Bring sauce to a boil, turn heat down, and simmer for 1 hour. Be sure to stir often of the bottom will burn.

Remove bay leaf.

This sauce is excellent for all your favorite Italian pasta, poultry, and meat dishes. It also freezes well.

Spring is supposed to be coming. Maybe someone should tell Mother Nature. Because most of the USA is still facing freezing temps and snow, I think two soups are in order that make a perfect start for dinner or an ideal lunch when a salad and fresh bread are added. Stay warm!

March’s Choice

Mushroon Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 lb. fresh mushrooms – use 2 or 3 different types
8 tbsp. butter
2 small shallots or scallions, finely chopped
6 tbsp. flour
1 qt. chicken stock*
¼ cup dry sherry
2 egg yolks
½ cup heavy cream
White pepper**

Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Pull the stems and caps apart. Put pieces in a food processor. Run until chopped. The mix will almost look like a paste. Or fine dice the mushrooms by hand.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 10-12 inch skillet. Add mushrooms and shallots and sauté for 3 minutes. Set the skillet aside.

In a heavy 6-quart saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the flour. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Do NOT let this brown too much or it will be bitter. The roux should be no darker than a caramel/tan.

Remove the pan from the heat. Allow to cool 10-15 seconds, then pour in the stock while whisking constantly. Return the pan to a medium-high heat and stir until the soup base thickens and is smooth, approximately 12-15 minutes.

Stir in the mushrooms and sherry. Simmer for 15 minutes, but be sure to stir occasionally.

Blend the egg yolks into the cream with a whisk. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of hot soup at a time until you’ve added ¾ cup. Reverse the process and slowly whisk the now-warm mixture into the soup.***

Bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and season with pepper.

Serve from a tureen or in individual bowls.

This recipe makes 6 bowls.

*You can substitute up to half the amount with dry white wine
**In this recipe white pepper is used for its slightly sharper taste. There is no need to make a special trip to buy white pepper. Black pepper will work fine, just use a little more.
***This may seem like extra work, but if you don’t do it the yolks and cream will curdle.

Potatoe Soup

Potato Soup

5 cups white potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 cups leeks, sliced thin, include 2” of green
¾ cup celery, chopped
¼ heaping cup carrot, scraped and chopped
5 cups (40 oz.) chicken stock, my favorite brand is Kitchen Basics
½ tsp. marjoram
½ tsp. thyme
2 pinches allspice
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ cup heavy cream
3 tbsp. chives, finely cut – parsley works well, too

Simmer the potatoes, leeks, celery, carrot, herbs, and stock in a heavy 6-quart saucepan until the vegetables are tender, 30-40 minutes.

Run the soup though a food processor to break up larger chunks or mash by hand. Do not use a blender. The soup will be too smooth. Return soup to the saucepan.

Season with pepper. Pour the cream into a measuring cup. Stir in 3 tablespoons of hot soup at a time until you’ve added ½ cup. Reverse the process and slowly stir the now-warm cream into the soup. This may seem like extra work, but if you don’t do it the cream may curdle.

Heat the soup thoroughly, but do not to boil it.

Ladle into a tureen or individual bowls. Garnish with chives or parsley.

Leftovers freeze well.

Serves 8