Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tomato Sauce with Olive Oil, Cheese, and Chopped Vegetables

This will likely be my last post for a couple of weeks as I'm off for such much needed R&R. I tried to exercise restraint this week by not buying a ridiculous amount of groceries when I have so much going on and will then be gone (hence the lack of recipes this week!). This recipe serves the twin purposes of using up the leftover celery and carrots and relying on pantry ingredients. Of course, it's another Hazan recipe, so it's clearly delicious. It does take some simmering time, so it's not a quick meal, but it's worth the wait and doesn't require much attention.

Tomato Sauce with Olive Oil, Cheese, and Chopped Vegetables (from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

1 796mL can of whole Italian tomatoes
2/3 cup chopped carrot (about 2)
2/3 cup chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
2/3 cup chopped onions
1/3 cup + 2 tsps extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried marjoram (or 2 tsp fresh)
2 tbsp grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
2 tbsp grated romano cheese
450g pasta (she recommends spaghetti, bucatini, or perciatelli), cooked according to package

1. In a saucepan, combine tomatoes, carrot, celery, onion, and salt. Cook uncovered at a slow simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add 1/3 cup olive oil and raise heat, stirring occasionally, reducing the tomato to a pulp with your spoon. Cook for 15 minutes and correct salt if necessary.
3. Add marjoram, stir, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
4. Off heat, add grated Parmesan, then romano, then 2 tsp olive oil. Toss with cooked pasta and serve.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies

I haven't been baking desserts much lately. I don't remember growing up with a change in cooking habits depending on the seasons thanks to the wonders of air-conditioning, but now that I live in Montreal without any air-conditioning in my apartment, I pay more attention to seasonal weather both in terms of dress and cooking. The weather is starting to turn cooler again here, so the heat is no longer a hurdle to baking.

It's also been a while since I made brownies. I may have over-reacted to someone saying that I'd be providing brownies as part of the prize for an office pool and said there would be no brownies over the summer from me. I decided the cooler September weather is signaling the end of summer in Montreal and it is safe to make brownies again.

And what a wonderful recipe to break the baking and brownie drought. This brownie recipe may be the one that unseats all previous brownie recipes ... and that's saying a lot. I meant to save some extra for a special person and the brownie didn't even make it home, so I'll be baking another batch today. The same recipe twice in one week? That never happens around here.

I made very few changes to this Smitten Kitchen recipe. It's perfection as it is. I used milk chocolate chips and slightly less than 1/2 cup because that's what I had on hand. I also used ever so slightly more cream cheese because it's sold in 250g tubs here and not 8 oz tubs. Don't be afraid that it's cheesecake and brownies, it's a remarkably easy recipe that doesn't even dirty the mixer.

Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies (from Smitten Kitchen, adapted from Gourmet)

Brownie batter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
Cheesecake batter
250g cream cheese, well softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate)

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
2. (You could do this on the stove, but I found this method quicker.) Place butter and chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is melted.
3. Whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined.
4. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.
5. Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.
6. Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula.
7. Sprinkle chocolate chips over cheesecake/brownie batter swirl.
8. Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Veal and Tomato Ragout with Potatoes, Cinnamon, and Cream

Can we just pretend I posted some witty or amusing anecdote here about this recipe? It's good, it's rich, it's satisfying. I scaled back on the veal, but left everything else the same (well ground cinnamon instead of cinnamon sticks and dried parsley instead of fresh, but close enough!). I mostly went with this recipe because I was trying to use up the white wine, celery, onion, and cream that I had on hand ... I certainly wasn't disappointed!

Veal and Tomato Ragoût with Potatoes, Cinnamon, and Cream (from

2 pounds 1-inch pieces trimmed boneless veal stew meat (I went with 320g veal ragout meat ... I love Montreal, the veal selection is ridiculously good!)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
2 cups tomato sauce (I used strained tomatoes that had a little basil with them)
1 cup (or more) water
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or dried if slightly desperate)
2 cinnamon sticks (or 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon)
1 1/4 pounds white-skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup whipping cream
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place veal in medium bowl. Sprinkle flour over; toss to coat. Shake off excess. Sprinkle veal with salt and pepper.
2. Melt butter with oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Working in batches, add veal and sauté until brown on all sides, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer to bowl.
3. Add onions and celery to pot; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
4. Return veal to pot. Add wine and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
5. Stir in tomato sauce, 1 cup water, parsley, and cinnamon sticks; bring to boil.
6. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
7. Stir potatoes and cream into stew; season with salt and pepper. Cover; simmer until veal and potatoes are very tender, stirring often and thinning with more water if necessary, about 1 hour. Discard cinnamon sticks and serve.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gratineed Cauliflower with Butter and Parmesan Cheese

Resolution of the week: stop impulsively overbuying vegetables, even if they do have delicious results. I had some cauliflower that had been sitting in the fridge all week (99 cents and with the blue Quebec sticker!). I wanted to do something fancy, but in the end, I went with simplicity. I have yet to be disappointed by this cookbook. The dishes tend to be simple, but delicious. Good Parmesan is key to this dish (and some nice sea salt doesn't hurt!).

Gratinéed Cauliflower with Butter and Parmesan Cheese (from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

1 medium head cauliflower
2/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1. Bring 4 - 5 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Trim tough leaves from the cauliflower. Add the cauliflower and cook uncovered until very tender, about 20 minutes.
2. While cauliflower is cooking, preheat the oven to 400F.
3. Drain cauliflower. Divide into separate florets.
4. Smear a baking dish with butter and arrange florets so they overlap slightly. Sprinkle with salt and Parmesan and dot with butter.
5. Bake on the uppermost rack until a light crust forms, 15 - 20 minutes. Let rest a few minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bolognese Meat Sauce

This sauce is delicious. I served it to a small group and even knowing that the recipe had spent all afternoon on the stove, people requested the recipe. Please note that this is not a super tomato-y sauce. The meat is the main player and after simmering for hours and hours, it's silky smooth. Patience is required for this recipe though, it shouldn't be rushed and it requires three simmer downs, so this is the perfect recipe for a lazy weekend, preferably when the weather is not inviting you to go outdoors and there's a Top Chef marathon to watch.

I tried to stick closely to the recipe. I'd noted on the chowhound board many discussions about this recipe. Apparently, an earlier Hazan version of this recipe had smaller amounts of onion, celery, and carrot, so I went with the lower amounts. The recipe also calls for 1/8 tsp nutmeg, but I remembered one of my guests previously had mentioned a sensitivity to nutmeg and I only had ground, not fresh, so I decided to forgo the nutmeg.

The original recipe calls for 340g of ground beef, but I could only find ground beef at the store in 520g packages, so I scaled up. I'm very glad I did because it ensured that I have enough for leftovers for a day or two! I'd estimate this scaled version serves 6. I did not scale up the pasta.

Bolognese Meat Sauce (from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp butter, divided
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrot
520g ground beef chuck (you do not want to use lean or extra-lean)
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup dry white wine
1 796mL can whole Italian tomatoes in their juices (the recipe calls for cutting them up, I have a feeling they would fall apart during simmering if I'd just left them whole)
1 box pasta (I used a 375g box whole wheat fusilli, rigatoni is also recommended)
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table

1. Put the oil, butter, and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on medium. Cook and stir until translucent.
2. Add chopped celery and carrot. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat.
3. Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well, and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red colour.
4. Add the milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. (If adding nutmeg, add it here. Do not rush this step. It could take 30 minutes to an hour to simmer down.)
5. Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated. (Once again, don't rush. The simmering could easily take 30 minutes.)
6. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down to low so that it simmers incredibly slowly with just an occasional bubble. Cook, uncovered for at least 3 hours, but longer is better, stirring from time to time. If it dries out, you can add 1/2 cup water or so.
7. Toss with cooked drained pasta, adding 1 tbsp of butter, and serve with Parmesan on the side.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tomato Galette

I know, I know ... I'm behind on posting and when I finally do get around to posting here I am putting up another variation on a tomato tart. I assure you this one is worth it though. How could you go wrong in fact with a sundried tomato paste, goat cheese, and fresh tomato slices? The original recipe calls for puff pastry sheets, but I used the Smitten Kitchen recipe for galette crust I found a few months ago. This time around I used yogurt (I'm still trying to use up the giant tub of Mediterranean plain yogurt leftover from the grapefruit yogurt cake) instead of sour cream and the crust was so much easier to roll out. I think I may start using yogurt for all my crusts and doughs given the success I've been having lately.

My only problem with this recipe is it is a bit watery. I tried draining the tomatoes while the crust was resting, but it just didn't do enough (of course I was using ridiculously juicy homegrown tomatoes courtesy of a wonderful friend). I can think of two things to try to combat the overflowing tomato juices next time around (1) sprinkle with breadcrumbs, but then you might lose some of the beauty of the dish or (2) oven roast the tomatoes a little before cooking. I'm leaning towards (2) if/when I make this recipe again. Other changes to the recipe ... I skipped on the oregano because I didn't have any fresh on hand and I was using goat cheese with herbs. I also used the full 125g container of goat cheese. Instead of a fresh red chili pepper, I just added a few dried chili flakes to the sundried tomato paste. I also did a quick egg wash on the crust so it would brown nicely.

Overall the end result was delicious and a thing of beauty. I love tomato season!

Tomato Galette (from Yotam Ottolenghi)
Crust from Smitten Kitchen

Crust (or you could use 375g puff pastry)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water
sundried paste
10 sun-dried tomatoes from a jar
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes (or more to taste)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
125g goat's cheese, crumbled
450g red, yellow or green tomatoes of various sizes, sliced 2mm thick
8 stalks fresh thyme
Olive oil
1 egg yolk

1. Place the flour in a large bowl and put in the freezer for 30 minutes. Cut the butter into cubes and put back in the fridge. If you don't have access to cold water, stick 1/4 cup water in a small bowl and put in the freezer as well (not long enough for it to freeze though!).
2. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes and either lightly salt and place on a rack to drain or oven roast at a low temperature (checking to make sure they don't burn! see recipe notes about sogginess issues).
3. Whisk together the flour and salt.
4. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough and using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture.
6. With your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
7. Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the sundried paste in the small bowl of a food processor and process to a rough paste; if necessary, add a little oil from the tomato jar to bring it together.
8. Preheat oven to 400F.
9. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round (I did this on parchment paper and then just transferred the parchment paper to the baking dish once everything was on it).
10. Spread a thin layer of the tomato paste over the pastry, leaving a border about 2 inches from the edge.
11. Sprinkle with the goat's cheese, and arrange the tomatoes on top, slightly overlapping but not too precisely. Make sure the tomato paste is covered by fresh tomatoes because it tends to burn.
12. Drop the thyme stalks over the tomatoes and drizzle with a little olive oil.
13. Fold the border over the filling, pleating to make it fit.
13. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk and 1 tsp water. Brush the crust with the egg wash.
14. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. (If using a puff pastry, your baking time may be much less. 15 minutes per the original recipe.)