Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Basil’

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic | Relishing It

I’ve mentioned here before that my husband and I were high school sweethearts.  We’ve been together for many years, and if there is one dish that describes “us”, it is this spaghetti sauce.  We’ve been making it together for as long as I can remember.  And even though it has gone through a few subtle changes over the years (because I certainly wasn’t canning my own tomatoes in my dorm room), it has remained much the same as it did those many years ago.  Many of you have been asking for this recipe, so I figure it’s time to to finally write it down and share it.  I mention on here fairly frequently that one dish or another is a family favorite.  But this one is the family favorite.  If the kids get to choose a meal, this is what they pick.  Valentine’s Day rolls around, and this is what we have.  It’s a bit odd, because this dish is ordinary, yet very special to us.

Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic | Relishing It

Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic | Relishing It

A couple of things need mentioning.  As I’ve said, I can my own tomatoes.  I use roasted roma tomatoes for this sauce.  I love how thick and rich they become, compared to regular tomatoes with their abundance of water.  This sauce can be made with any variety of tomatoes, though I’ve settled on roasted romas as my favorite.  The key here is to know what to do if your sauce has extra liquid in it that you don’t necessarily want. Watery spaghetti sauce is, to be honest, gross.  Too much liquid, and it just doesn’t cling to the pasta.  My point, is that you should do your best to find some good quality canned roasted tomatoes.  Muir Glen is my recommendation, if you don’t can your own.  Canned San Marzanos are also another excellent choice.  Whatever type of tomatoes you choose, crushed or whole, etc– give them a few pulses in a food processor to break them up (or use your hands) so they aren’t chunky.  If the sauce is too watery near the end of the cooking time, remove the lid and let it reduce a bit.  Adding another dollop of tomato paste will also help.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic | Relishing It

One more thing,  I normally don’t use fresh basil in this sauce– instead I pull a bit out of my freezer that I’ve preserved for the winter.   In the summer, when my basil is plentiful, I chop it and freeze it in muffin tins and ice cube trays.   Then I vacuum seal it.  When I need a bit of basil in the winter, I  just pull one out and pop it into whatever it is that I’m making.  I love this method.  So, if you happen to have a freezer full of the same, use it!  If you don’t, I’ve tested it with fresh basil, so you will know how much to use– feel free to add more, if you like.  Just please don’t used dried– the flavor is not even comparable.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic | Relishing It

This sauce has a wonderfully earthy flavor from the herbs, garlic, and the crimini mushrooms.  It’s a complex array of flavors that I heighten by using a bit of anchovy.  As I’ve mentioned before, don’t be scared to use it.  It adds such a nice umami flavor.  The other integral ingredient is the bay leaf.  The almighty bay leaf, in my opinion.  It adds such a unique flavor that this sauce relies upon.  When the sauce is finished simmering, swirl in a tablespoon or two of good olive oil– it’s the perfect finish to the sauce.  I hope you and your family enjoy this dish as much as we do.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic | Relishing It

The Recipe: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic

(serves 4-6)

2 pounds grass-fed ground beef

1 medium white onion, chopped

1 large bulb of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped  (yes, the entire bulb!)

1 quart roasted roma tomatoes, crushed

1 dried bay leaf

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

5-6 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil (about 17 large basil leaves)

1 tablespoon double-concentrated tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped anchovies

8-9 ounces crimini mushrooms, thickly sliced

1-2 tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing ( California Olive Ranch, is my favorite)

Parmigiano-reggiano cheese and hot pepper flakes, for serving

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat brown the ground beef, then drain the fat.  Return the pan to the heat and add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper to the beef.  Sauté for a couple of minutes until the onions are somewhat tender, stirring frequently.  Then add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, tomato paste, anchovies, and bay leaf.  Stir.  Then finally add the mushrooms.   Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, covered.   Stirring frequently and carefully, as you don’t want the mushrooms to break apart.  Monitor the amount of liquid near the end of the cooking time.  Remove lid to reduce, if it seems too watery.  If it seems too thick, be patient– the mushrooms release a lot of liquid during the simmering time.  When it is done, remove the bay leaf and stir in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano cheese and hot pepper flakes, if desired.  Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator, or freezer.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Caprese Salad with a Basil Vinaigrette | Relishing It

Now I’ve mentioned here before how much I love tomotoes, but just in case you’re new to Relishing It, let me emphasize this.  It’s not just that I love tomotoes– I’m obsessed with them.  Every summer I wait.  And wait.  And wait until the first ripe tomotoes show up at the farmers’ market.  And then I try to fit them into almost every meal.  For the record, I don’t buy tomatoes when they’re not in season for a number of reasons.  First, obviously, is the taste.  Out-of-season tomatoes tend to be stiff and flavorless.  Second, I have serious ethical concerns about the industrial tomato industry, which is where many of our “winter” tomatoes come from.  Take a look at ‘Tomatoland’, a brilliant book by Barry Estabrook if you’re interested in just how terrible the industry is.  Here’s a link to the NY Times review.  Now that THAT is out of the way…

Caprese Salad with a Basil Vinaigrette | Relishing It

I love creating all sorts of dishes with tomatoes.  This heirloom tomato tart is among my favorite summer dishes.  And this tomato Jam is a versitle spread for both sweet and savory things.  If you’ve ever wanted to make your own homemade ketchup–this recipe is a good one to try.  I also can salsa every year to share with family and friends, and can a huge supply of plain tomatoes that help get us through the winter.

Caprese Salad with a Basil Vinaigrette | Relishing It

Basil Vinaigrette | Relishing It

As much as I love to use them as an ingredient, nothing beats eating them in their natural state.  They are so juicy and slightly tender.  A sprinkle of salt brings out their amazing robust flavor.  I love a good caprese salad.  However, I’ve discovered that I’m not a huge fan of eating whole basil leaves.   A few here and there are fine, but I much prefer the basil flavor to come through in a delicious vinaigrette that I can let my tomatoes and fresh mozzarella swim in.  Every bite gets a little basil burst.  It works for me, and I hope it works for you!  Enjoy!

Caprese Salad with a Basil Vinaigrette | Relishing It

The Recipe:  Caprese Salad with a Basil Vinaigrette

Heirloom tomatoes, big and small

Fresh mozzarella

Extra basil leaves, for garnish

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Basil Vinaigrette:

(makes enough for a small platter)

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, sliced

1/2 cup packed fresh basil

2 large anchovy fillets in olive oil, minced

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and pepper, to taste

To make the Basil Vinaigrette:  Place all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a mini food processor.  Pulse it a few times to finely chop the basil.  Scrape the sides, as needed.  Slowly add the olive oil and continue running the machine until the vinaigrette is a relatively smooth consistency.  Use immediately, or store covered in the refrigerator for a few days.  Let it come to room temperature before using.

Arrange the heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella on a platter, using as many as you would like (double the vinaigrette recipe, if making a larger portion).   Pour the dressing over and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Eat immediately.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!  Have a lovely weekend.

xo

Laurie

Read Full Post »

Here’s a little insight into what’s going on in my head– and I realize this is not normal– but the highlight of my week usually involves hitting the local farmers’ markets with my family.  Aria, my two-year-old daughter, loves it as much as I do.  We pretty much have to drag the home-body boys (Aanen and Radd), who protest all the way.  Well, maybe not all the way.  Once they’re out of the  house, I think they enjoy it, too.    

Anyway, late Summer is when the market really shines– so many different varieties of produce to choose from!  Last weekend I snagged these gorgeous purple potatoes.  Look at how vibrant they are!  This is nature.  This is food.  And it still amazes me.  Despite what some sources say– and I know it’s probably just in my head– I feel like purple potatoes have a more earthy flavor that a plain-old white ones.  If not, well then they’re just more interesting.

This potato salad keeps it simple, yet looks fantastic.  The point is to let the beautiful colors and fresh flavors be the center of attraction, rather than cover everything up with a glop of mayo.  The addition of the herbs (especially the mint, do NOT omit the mint!) make this salad taste like Summer.  The subtle flavor of creme fraiche lets the produce shine, yet adds that creaminess you expect in a potato salad.  The radishes give a contrasting delightful crunch.  If you don’t have creme fraiche, you can use sour cream, but you’ll notice a bit more of a tang.  I love to finish this salad with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.  It just works and it’s one of my favorite potato salads.

The Recipe:  Creme Fraiche, Herb, and Purple Potato Salad

1 – 1 1/2 pounds new purple potatoes

handful of parsley, mint, and basil chopped (around 3/4 cup total)

5-6 green onions, chopped

6  large radishes, chopped

1/2  lemon

1/3 – 1/2 cup creme fraiche

3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

kosher salt and cracked blacked pepper, to taste

To steam the potatoes:  I prefer steaming to boiling– the potatoes retain less water this way.  Put potatoes in a steamer basket placed in a saucepan with a tight lid.  Make sure to put enough water into it.  Steam potatoes until nearly done, then turn off heat and let them sit for 10 more minutes.  The potatoes will continue to cook with the heat turned off.  The cooking time will vary based upon the size of your potatoes, so be sure to check it.  I steamed mine for 25 minutes, and let them sit for another 10 minutes.  Yours may take less time.  Just be sure to check them by inserting a sharp knife into them.  Be sure your saucepan doesn’t run out of water.

Sprinkle potatoes with a bit of salt and let them cool.  Meanwhile, chop the herbs, radishes,  and green onions.  Add them to the cooled potatoes, along with the creme fraiche, olive oil, and a squeeze of the lemon juice.  Don’t squeeze the full amount right away.  Taste as you go along, and definitely feel free to adjust measurements to your liking.  You may want a bit more creme fraiche and olive oil.   Be sure to season with salt appropriately, as the salt really brings all of these flavors together.    Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today.  Have a great weekend!

Laurie

Follow me on Twitter!

Read Full Post »

For this post I decided to make crostini from start-to-finish… not just a variety of toppings, but the whole bread-baking process.  Yes, it’s easier to simply find a wonderful crusty bread from a nearby bakery (and I often do this), but there’s something therapeutic about baking bread.  While it takes more patience and planning, in the end I found it to be so much more satisfying.  The smell of fresh bread throughout my house alone convinced me to do this more often.  Just look at this loaf!

The bread I chose for this appetizer is crusty on the outside, but has a soft-yet-firm interior.  It keeps well, which means you can bake it long ahead of time if you’re hosting a party and need to get other things prepared.  To turn it into crostini, I grilled the bread and added two fresh, colorful, and oh-so-tasty toppings.  For the first, I was so happy to be able to use garlic, basil, and a batch of the first tomatoes of the season from our farmers’ market.  This is the first fresh-tomato post of the Summer– it will not be the last.

For the second, I threw together a simple herbed-ricotta topping with thinly-sliced radishes.  I love ricotta cheese, and unabashedly admit that I often scoop and eat spoonfuls while standing in front of the open-door refrigerator.  If you can find one locally, buy it.  Mixing in the fresh herbs gives it a nice flavor-burst.

The Recipe:  An Honest Loaf

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

2 cups lukewarm water (110-115°F)

2 cups unbleached bread flour

1/2  cup whole wheat flour

1/2  cup semolina, plus extra for dusting

2 teaspoons salt

Put the yeast and water into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in 1 cup of the bread flour to make a batter.  The mixture will begin to bubble, letting you know that the yeast is working.  Let the mixture sit at room temperature for about an hour, until it is frothy and has risen in the bowl.

Add the white flour, whole wheat flour, semolina, and salt to the starter and stir well.  When the dough is gathered, but still shaggy, turn it out onto a floured counter and knead it for a couple of minutes, dusting with flour if necessary; the dough should remain somewhat sticky.

Put the dough in a mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.  The dough will rise a bit in the bowl.

The next day, remove the dough from the bowl and punch it down to get the air out.  Knead the dough again for a few minutes, and form it into a smooth ball.

Select a linen-lined basket or low, wide bowl large enough to contain the dough when it doubles in size.  Place a linen napkin in a bowl, if that’s what you’re using.  I used a regular flour-sack towel and my bamboo salad bowl and that worked just fine.  Make sure to dust linen or napkin heavily with white flour before you add the dough.  Set the dough ball in the basket or bowl, dust the top with semolina, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise at a cool room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, or until doubled in size.  The longer and cooler the rise, the better the texture of the bread will be.

Preheat oven to 450°F – make sure it’s thoroughly preheated!  I am a true believer in a oven thermometer.  If you don’t have one — pick one up.  They’re cheap.  Sprinkle baking sheet with semolina.  Ease the dough onto the baking sheet by carefully inverting the basket or bowl over the sheet.  This part was tricky.  Remove the basket or napkin.  The top of the dough will have a light coating of flour.  Sprinkle on a bit more.

With a sharp, thin knife or razor blade, quickly slash a large  “X” in the middle of the dough, about 1/2 – inch deep.  Immediately put the pan into the hot oven and bake for 15 minutes.  The loaf will puff dramatically and the crust will have begun to form.

Turn down the oven to 400°F and bake for 45 minutes more, or until the bread is dark and crusty.  Remove the bread from the oven and put onto a cooling rack.  Wait until the bread has cooled completely before cutting.  In fact, this bread gets better the longer you wait to cut into it, unlike a baguette.  It will be even better the following day.

Source:  Adapted from David Tanis’ Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys

The Recipe: Crostini with Tomatoes, Garlic, and Basil & Fresh Mozzarella  and  Herbed Ricotta with Radishes

 

Tomatoes, Garlic, and Basil Topping:

2 large farmer’s market tomatoes, diced

3-4 cloves minced garlic

7-8  fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 “glug” of red wine vinegar (about 1 tablespoon)

1 “glug” of good extra-virgin olive oil (about 1 tablespoon)

sprinkle of red pepper flakes (as much as you can handle)

kosher salt to taste  (make sure you don’t under-salt this — salt really brings out the flavor of tomatoes)

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Let sit  at room temperature for a 1/2 hour or so. The flavors will combine wonderfully.  Re-season, if necessary.

 

Herbed Ricotta

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese (buy some that is made locally, if possible.  The flavor is usually superior)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 scallions, finely chopped

Handful of mixed herbs, finely chopped — I used, mint, basil, chervil, parsley, chives and dill.  Use whatever you happen to have.  You should end up with about 1/2 cup finely chopped herbs.

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and let sit for about 20 minutes.  Add more salt and pepper, if necessary.

Pre-heat the grill.  Slice the loaf of bread.  Brush with olive oil on each side  and top with a sprinkle of salt.  Grill for just a few minutes on each side, until you get the color you like.  Top with a slice of fresh mozzarella and the tomato, garlic, and basil topping.  The bread will soak up the juice wonderfully.  Top another piece of crostini with the herbed ricotta and a few thinly sliced radishes.  Enjoy with a lovely cocktail, of course!

Thanks again for stopping by Relishing It today!  As always, I enjoy reading  your comments.  Let me know if you’ve been busy in the kitchen with any of these recipes.  Have a great weekend.

Laurie

Follow me on Twitter!

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: