Super Simple Tomato Pasta Sauce

SpaghettiPlated

This one is for Becky.  She’s a CC-er; GPB-er; fellow native Coloradan; fellow West-Coaster; fellow mother-of-kids-in-NYC-and-SF and definitely a BFF-er! Knowing we were putting together this web-site, she forwarded this the other day:

BeckiesCartoon

Well, BFF, here’s a recipe from the legendary Italian cookbook author, Marcella Hazan. It’s been written about more times than can be counted.  Nonetheless, when you’re looking for big flavors and really REALLY simple, this can’t be beat.  Go for it, Becks!

Super Simple Tomato Pasta Sauce from Marcella Hazan

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 1 28-oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano, preferably)
  • 5 T butter
  • 1 onion (medium sized), peeled and cut in half
  • pinch or two of salt (I used 1/2 t kosher salt)

Combine the tomatoes, juice, butter, and onion halves in a saucepan.  Add the salt.  Place the pan over medium heat, bring to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes.  Stir occasionally and mash up the whole tomatoes with a spoon.

Before serving, discard the onion, then toss with about 1 pound of cooked pasta.

Here’s the scoop:  We like the recipe just as is, but you can add your own touch.  Maybe fresh herbs to the simmer.  Maybe cooked meatballs or sausage – on the side or mixed in.   Many folks say  a pinch of sugar should go in all tomato recipes.  We like grated parmesan on top….and tend to cut up the chunks of tomatoes into small pieces.  Go forth and create!

Recipe provided by Big Little Meals and Andy and Ann

Super Simple Quesadillas

If you’re living in our ‘hood  (which includes the lovely town of Sonoma, as well as Glen Ellen), you’ll recognize those fabulous, super thin flour tortillas as coming from Tortilleria Jalisco at 897 W Napa.  We couldn’t live without them – and hope if you’re elsewhere you can find an equally special tortilleria.  Andy is off to SF today with a bunch of them to use while staying with our grandsons for a few nights.  He’ll make egg burritos in the morning and maybe quesadillas for lunch.

After-SF-Stay Postscript: the grandsons, both teen and tween, refused the egg burrito breakfast.  Teen toasted himself a bagel.  Tween had a sweet potato muffin.  Grandpa Andy was despondent. 

Even our Tween and Teen grandsons can easily fix themselves these delicious, quick quesadillas without a recipe (maybe :), but if you want a little cheat sheet here it is.  

Super Simple Quesadillas

  • Servings: 1
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Directions

You need a skillet large enough to hold the flat flour tortilla and you need some grated cheese (queso fresco and cheddar, or whatever melting cheese you have), a little hot sauce, and some soft butter to spread lightly all over one side of the tortilla.  Heat the pan to medium, then place the tortilla, butter-side down, on the skillet.  Sprinkle cheese and a bit of hot sauce over half of the open tortilla, then fold once.  As soon as the skillet side of the tortilla has browned a little and the cheese has begun to melt, flip the tortilla over and lightly brown the other side.  Remove from the pan and cut into pie-shaped pieces.  That’s it!

Almond Crackle Cookies

AlmondCookies2I avoid cookie-making.  Now that our kids are long-since gone and our grandchildren are infrequent visitors, I figure I don’t have the patience or desire to bake cookies.  However (HOWEVER) I am now in love with Almond Crackle Cookies from Dorie Greenspan (whose new cookbook, Dorie’s Cookies just won a James Beard award).  The recipe is unusual, simple, and the cookies are delicious. Of course, I love all nuts (both human and non! 🙂  And,  in case you’re avoiding flour, they’re gluten free.  Plus, they freeze well and, put into a plastic zip-lock bag, will stay crisp and perfect for at least 3 days (no need to refrigerate).

Almond Crackle Cookies

  • Servings: 18 to 20 cookies
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Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients

  • 6 T sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups sliced blanched almonds

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 bakings sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Whisk the sugar and egg together well, then add the almonds and stir until the almonds are evenly coated.  Do not let it sit long before using and stir it occasionally while spooning the batter onto the sheets.

Use a 1 T measuring spoon and fill it almost to the top (2+ teaspoons worth).  Spoon that onto the baking sheet (go ahead – use your really clean fingers to scrape out the tablespoon measurer!) and flatten the cookie dough slightly.  Proceed with the remaining dough, leaving about 2″ between each mound of batter.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes (watch them carefully after about 12 minutes) –  or until the cookies look brown on the edges and crispy/crackled on top.  Transfer the baking sheets to a rack and let the cookies cool for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes use a spatula to remove each cookie from the sheet.

Recipe provided by Big Little Meals and Andy and Ann

Best of the Besties: Pork and Brussels Sprouts w/Chile Lime Sauce

Pork_SwPotato_BSproutsOur first Best of the Besties’ recipe posting comes from Janet and Larry who sent (via USPS!) a whole packet of their favorite recipes…just when we needed them most.    A great suggestion when fixing this easy dinner is that you can easily make substitutions for the pork tenderloin.  For example, use boneless chicken or salmon or perhaps pork loin, instead of the tenderloin (did you know that pork tenderloin and pork loin come from entirely different parts of the pig?  I didn’t until I read up on it yesterday).

Pork and Brussels Sprouts with Chile Lime Sauce

  • Servings: 4
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adapted from Chef Gregory Gourdet

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 # brussels sprouts, stems removed and halved
  • 1 # sweet potatoes, cut into about 3/4″ x 4″ wedges
  • 1 small red onion, quartered
  • 1 pork tenderloin (or substitute boneless chicken or salmon)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp pepper, divided
  • 5 T olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 c – 3/4 c cilantro, chopped for serving

Sauce

  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/4 c lime juice
  • 2 tsp of very finely minced ginger
  • 1 or 2 Fresno chiles, roughly chopped (if you can’t find these red chiles, substitute jalapenos, reducing the amount slightly; and A&A recommend taking out the seeds)
  • 1 or 2 T of soy sauce or teriyaki sauce (or try fish sauce)

Put all the sauce ingredients into a blender, mix, and set aside.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Put the brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes in a lidded- container, add half the olive oil and 1/4 tsp each of the salt and pepper, put the lid on the container and shake gently to coat.  Then spread the veggies on a “Pam-ed” baking sheet. Put the onion, round part down, on the sheet and gently pour some drops of olive oil on them.  It’s best to put the brussels sprouts cut side down and not stir them as they roast. Put the veggies in the oven and roast for about 30-45 minutes, gently turning the sweet potatoes once or twice.

While the veggies roast, rub the tenderloin with the remainder of the salt, pepper, and olive oil.  About 15-20 minutes before the veggies are to come out of the oven, heat a skillet until hot, then add the pork tenderloin and brown it on all sides, then lower the heat and cook until it is done – a total of 10 to 15 minutes. You want the pork done but still juicy (which can be tricky with tenderloins).

Remove the veggies from the oven.  Slice the meat into chunks, and put them on a nice big serving platter.  Put the veggies around the pork, sprinkle the chopped cilantro over everything and pour the sauce over it all.  Serve.

from A&A: I just read an article in Fine Cooking mag that reminds us that pork is now safe if a little pink remains.  And, if you’re reheating the meal, just put everything into a covered skillet over low heat.  Also, we used an O’Henry sweet potato; that’s why it’s yellow-ish rather than the more expected orange-ish.  Recipe brought to you by Janet and Larry – and Big Little Meals

Chile Verde

ChileVerde1

Our daughter, Sara, and son-in-law, Joe Hargrave, own several Tacolicious restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area. I adapted this from their Tacolicious cookbook, which Andy and I recommend highly…especially since we helped test recipes for it 🙂

Chile Verde

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

  • 5 tomatillos, hulls removed and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno (or more if you’re daring), stemmed, SEEDED, and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 c cilantro, chopped
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, chopped or sliced, whichever is easier for you
  • 1 poblano chile, stemmed, seeded, and cut into strips – about 1/2″ by 2″ (don’t worry about exact size!)
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 4 c water
  • 2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into about 1 1/2″ cubes.

Directions


Put the tomatillos, jalapeno, garlic, and cilantro into a blender or food processor and puree until almost smooth, adding a touch of water if necessary.

In a large, heavy pot (Staub? La Creuset? cast iron? Gotta have one of those!) heat the oil. Add the onions and Poblano chile and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened. Add the tomatillo mixture and saute, stirring, for 3-4 more minutes. Then add the water and cubes of pork. Return the mixture to a boil; then turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer for 2-3 hours. OR a still simpler way: if your pot and lid are oven-proof, put it on a low rack of the oven, covered, and roast at 275 degrees for about 3 hours. You want the pork to end up so tender that you can pull it apart with forks.

If you’re using the pork and broth later, let the mixture cool and then chill it, so the fat accumulates at the top and can be easily removed.  Or, if you’re using just the pork for tacos or burritos, remove it from the broth and shred it, moistening it with a bit of broth. Then refrigerate or freeze the broth.

Now you’ve got this d-lish pork dish that can go so many directions: you can put the meat in a corn tortilla, add a little cabbage, cilantro, onion, lime and have a simple taco – or put it in a flour tortilla with some beans and have a burrito; you can serve the broth and pork over rice (adding a touch of lime juice and some chopped onions and/or cilantro makes it even better!); or you can add some chicken broth and some canned hominy and shredded cabbage, and you’ve got a take on posole. Yum yum yum.

As with everything we send your way, it will be good warmed up and freezes well too.

Recipe provided by Big Little Meals and Andy and Ann

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