Friday, March 7, 2014
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
In my posting yesterday for Eggplant and Beef Meatballs, I promised to include my recipe for homemade Marinara sauce in today’s posting. Although I love the convenience of jarred sauces, nothing beats fresh sauce. This is my go-to tomato sauce. It’s so simple to make and tastes so much better than anything in a jar. Over the years, I’ve discovered that the brand of canned tomatoes used makes all the difference. Cheap brands don’t cut it. My canned tomatoes of choice is San Marzano. When I discovered this brand, there was no going back to any other brand after that. Anytime San Marzano goes on sale, we stock up. I’ve developed this recipe using basic pantry ingredients, which includes dried herbs. Of course, if I know ahead of time I’ll be making a sauce, I replace the dried herbs with fresh. The main secret to success with this recipe is “slow simmering.” You can throw all the ingredients together in 5 minutes, but you will need “at least” an hour of slow simmer time to really develop the flavors. You can simmer on the stove-top; or put everything in the crockpot to slow cook. If you’re going to go through all the trouble of making homemade meatballs, eggplant, chicken parm or lasagna; why dummy it up with “sugary” jarred sauce? Top off your masterpiece with a masterpiece! Don’t have an hour to spare? Make up a double batch over the weekend, simmer 4 to 6 hours in the crockpot, then freeze; this way you’ll always have fresh sauce ready to serve. Mike doesn’t like tomatoes or tomato sauce, but when I tell him I’m making the sauce, he does a “happy dance.” He loves the flavors in this sauce. Trust me, there will be no going back to jarred sauces after you try this!
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Whenever we order subs from an Italian restaurant, we always have a tough time deciding what kind. Do we want a meatball sub, or an eggplant sub? Well, I don’t make that decision anymore. With this recipe, we get the best of both worlds. It’s not meatless; cooked eggplant is added to the ground beef mixture before shaping into balls. Adding vegetables to meatballs yields such a moist and tender texture. Unless you have a really discerning palate, you would probably never guess what was added; on the other hand, there seems to be this “magical” ingredient that heightens the flavor and makes the taste so memorable. The meatballs are so soft, they literally melt in your mouth. Whether you serve them alone, atop spaghetti, or in a sub, they’ll steal the show. After browning, I put them in a slow cooker with homemade marinara sauce and let the flavors really develop. Then I toasted a sub roll, rubbed a little garlic over the cut surface of the bread, added some meatballs, sauce and freshly shredded mozzarella and baked just until the cheese melted. The contrasting textures of the crusty bread and the moist and delicate meatballs marry for an exciting sensation. And the taste? You will relish each and every bite!
Monday, March 3, 2014
Tomorrow, March 4, is known as Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday (which is the start of Lent). In Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand, the day is also known as “Pancake Day” or “Pancake Tuesday,” as it is common custom to eat pancakes on this day. Pancakes are associated with this day, as pancake recipes were a way to use up rich foods, such as eggs, milk and butter, which were forbidden during the 40 day abstinence of Lent. On Pancake Day, pancake races are held in villages and towns across the UK. In Olney, England, the Pancake Race dates back more than 500 years. The tradition is said to have originated when a housewife from Olney, Buckinghamshire, was so engrossed in making pancakes that she lost track of time until she heard the church bells ringing for the shriving service. She grabbed her head scarf (required in church) and ran to the church, still apron-clad, with skillet and pancake in hand. In the years to follow, neighbors joined in and it became a race to see who could reach the church first and collect a “Kiss of Peace” from the bell-ringer. Even today, pancake races remain a common festive tradition in the UK. Participants with frying pans race through the streets tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan while running. In other parts of the world, Shrove Tuesday is celebrated differently. In New Orleans, it is known as Fat Tuesday and is celebrated with the Mardi Gras. In Rio de Janeiro it is also celebrated with a similar carnival.
So, in anticipation of Pancake Tuesday, today I am sharing a recipe with you for Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes.