Posts Tagged ‘sauce’

For those who are veggiephobic, this post is for you.

I get that some people, my son included, do not like tomatoes.  My roommate in college hated tomatoes.  Would not touch anything red on her plate.  This was a bit of a conundrum because 90% of the meals I could cook back then involved canned tomato in some form.  I think it was my (attempt at) Jambalaya that converted her from a tomato-tyrant to lycopene-lover!  The same trick has not been as successful with my son, mostly because my Jambalaya contains another food phobia of his: seafood.  Shrimp to be exact.  He gags at the sight of any aquatic species on a plate.  I wonder if he is trying to avoid accidentally eating Nemo?

To get those good wholesome tomatoes in his system, they had to be sweet and invisible.   I would need a cloaking device: the oven.

Roasting any vegetable (I know tomatoes are fruit, but that’s not important here) will concentrate the natural sugars and begin to caramelize them.  Humans, especially children, seek out sweet foods; this tells our brains that this food is fuel.  Bitter and sour indicate a possible threat, like poisons and broccoli.   Treat your less palatable vegetables to an artificial sun tan in your oven or on the grill.  They will be less likely to send off alarms, hissy fits, and tantrums at the dinner table.

This roasted sauce has five ingredients.

  • organic tomatoes, halved and cored
  • red bell pepper, halved and seeded
  • olive oil
  • salt (to taste)
  • herbs: Greek or Italian herb blend, or fresh basil and oregano

Set the tomatoes and peppers cut side down in a roasting dish.  Brush the skins with oil.  Roast at 350ºF until soft, about half an hour.

Let the pan cool before carefully removing the skins from the tomatoes and peppers.  Put the pulp and any juices into a blender or food processor.  Add a pinch of salt and herbs to your taste.  Blend until smooth.

Pour the blended peppers and tomatoes in a pot, bring the mixture to a slow simmer and reduce to whatever thickness you like.  Store in the fridge in non-reactive containers up to a week or use it immediately with pasta.  If you reduce it further, it would make a great pizza sauce.

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Tackling A Béchamel

It takes a courageous heart to put yourself in a position of making a casserole and not having a great sauce to bind it together.

I’ll just make my own…

This is not for the faint of heart. 

The pan started with some olive oil and onions, these would be a supporting player to the bits of leftover roast chicken.  Once the onions yielded their liquids, they were removed to the casserole dish.

Butter and more oil jumped in next as I lowered the heat.  About two tablespoons of flour were at attention on my cutting board, then whisked into the hot fat.  I held my breath waiting for some hint of colour to appear.  I stood over the stove with a whisk in my left hand and a wooden spoon in my right. 

Milk was carefully whisked in, only about the same amount as the flour at first.  It started globbing together into the most unfavorable mess I’d ever seen.  I can save it, can’t I?!  More milk then water, then a bit more milk – all the while stirring and whisking madly between curses.  Wait!  It’s a thick sauce now.  Woo hoo!

Let it cook, but stir it gently so the milk will not scorch.  The flour needs to cook.  It bubbles and I stir it around in return.  A quick rasp of my whole nutmeg joins the party paired with a dash of garlic powder, salt and pepper.  The aroma of the nutmeg when it hits the steaming white sauce is intoxicating.  Tummy grumbles.

Now for some cheese, I grated a good 1/2 cup of pecorino and grabbed some italian blend grated cheese from the fridge (which I meant to use for pizza).  Stirred in the cheese and the strings wrapped around the spoon.

Toss some whole wheat pasta, chicken, and the sautéed onions into the sauce – dump this into the casserole dish and top with a mixture of breadcrumbs, olive oil, parsley salt and pecorino cheese.

Bake to a golden perfection.

Enjoy and know you have won the battle of béchamel!

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Being a FN junkie, Iron Chef is one of my favorite shows (both the original Japanese version and American version hosted by Alton Brown) and every so often I play Iron Chef in my kitchen (c’mon, like you haven’t!).    There’s no one playing with me (except my furry friend Pepper, else I would look crazy blabbering on to myself whilst chopping veggies), although I would like to take on Chef Cat Cora someday.  Anywho, tonight was my Iron Chef night, battle Kale.  

I’ve never cooked with kale before and since it’s one of those dark green leafies, I thought kale needed a try.  For those who were like me, never purchased or cooked with kale previously, it tastes like a cross between broccoli and spinach.  Kale consists of tight curly foliage on long stems, the stems were completely removed for my recipe.  The price was good for a first time buy (88 cents per bundle), however try to find organic kale if you can which may be more or less this price range.  Kale is a cool weather crop and will be most abundant at farm stands in spring, and with any luck in my garden too.  Kale has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is high in vitamins A, C, and K.  On to the recipe…  

Kale with Penne

Kale with Penne


Lucky for me, hubby had cooked up the ground turkey before I arrived with the children after work, that cut my prep time in half!  (Thanks dear xoxo)  Top it all off with shavings of pecorino cheese, heaven!  

Kale with Penne

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 bundle of fresh Kale, washed, cut into 1/2″ pieces, remove stems
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced smallish
  • 1 slice thick bacon or a few thin slices pancetta, diced fine
  • sea salt and fresh black pepper
  • 3-4 sage leaves, Julienne
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
  • penne or your favorite pasta, cooked to al denté

Brown the turkey with a little salt and pepper over medium heat, just until it’s cooked.  Remove to a plate for now, you can drain it on paper towels if you like.  

In a large skillet with a lid, turn the heat to low (to medium-low) to render the bacon.  Take the little pieces out as they crisp up.  Add the onion, stir it around for a minute or two while you raise the heat to medium then add the carrot, tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Cook until the carrot gets a bit floppy, then add the sage, turkey, sauce and a tablespoon of water to the pan.  Quickly cover the pan with the kale and the lid.  You want to steam the kale for 5 minutes.  This way you won’t lose anything from the green leaves because the sauce and water from the veggies will provide the steam.  Otherwise, any leached nutrients would be tossed out!  Wouldn’t that be sad?   

Give it some love half way through the 5 minutes, see if you want more salt or pepper.  If you like spicy pasta sauce, add some red chili flakes, oh dear!  

Once everybody is tender in the sauce, serve it over the cooked pasta, and don’t forget some cheese over top for a little salty bite.  The kale came out quite mellow compared to its raw state, and with so much fiber it holds together pretty well during cooking.  The turkey is a great compliment as it doesn’t overthrow the subtle kale flavor.  You could leave the turkey out completely and it would still be a fabulous dish!  Substitute pasta for gluten-free pasta or rice, for an even healthier meal (one slice of bacon split 3-4 ways is not going to kill you).   

This one is a keeper for me, I hope you will try some kale too!

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