Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti

I’ve been making Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti for years and didn’t know it. This incredibly simple pasta dish, which literally means “cheese and pepper spaghetti”, has received a lot of foodie attention recently for some reason.

Classically made with Pecorino Romano (Romano cheese from sheep’s milk) and fresh coarse-ground black pepper, it can also be made with milder Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan). Pecorino Romano is a bit sharper and saltier than Parmesan. No cream-based sauce or garlic here, just olive oil, butter, cheese, pepper, and pasta…spaghetti is preferred, but any long pasta will do…I like spaghetti or bucatini. Ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta…and no prep involved!

Here’s how to make it. Really, no salt is needed as the Romano (or Parmesan) and salted pasta water provide enough salty flavor on their own. Pair with a small chopped or Caesar salad and a slice of sourdough garlic bread and you’ve got an easy, elegantly simple dinner that won’t leave you with that “stuffed” feeling. This recipes serves 2-3 people.

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces of spaghetti or any long pasta such as bucatini or linguine
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • About 1/2 tbsp fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cups of grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmigiano Reggiano) cheese plus more for serving

Directions:

  • Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add about 1-2 tbsp Kosher salt. Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Important: Save about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid before draining.
  • Heat the olive oil and unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until foam from the butter subsides. Don’t let it brown.
  • Add the coarse ground pepper and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.
  • Add the cooked pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, tossing to coat. Sprinkle the Romano on top and continue to cook, tossing, until the cheese is melted and the pasta is well coated, about 2 minutes. Add more liquid if necessary to keep it all moist.
  • Taste. Season with salt if needed. Divide among 2-3 bowls, twirling and nesting the pasta and serve immediately with additional cheese.

Chicken Orzo Soup with Spinach

Very simple, very fresh, very clean. This soup is not super filling and would fit into anyone’s low-calorie, low-carb diet. As with almost any soup, the key to the best flavor lies with the stock. If your stock is not savory and flavorful, your soup is doomed. Take it from me, after many epic culinary fails from bland stock, this is the key. If you don’t have the time to make your own stock, use a good, low-sodium store-bought stock. I like to use Low-sodium Roasted Chicken Better Than Bullion. I buy mine from Amazon, though it is available at some grocery stores. Also, adding the bouquet garni of fresh thyme sprigs, rosemary sprig, Italian parsley sprigs, and a bay leaf is invaluable for taking this soup to the level of flavor that is truly satisfying.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white onion, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup carrots, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup celery, 1/4 inch dice
  • 3 medium white mushrooms, 1/4 inch slice
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • Herb bouquet garni – 1 sprig of rosemary, 2 sprigs of thyme, 3 sprigs of Italian parsley, 1 bay leaf wrapped and tied in cheesecloth.
  • 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked Orzo, about 1/3 cup uncooked
  • 2 cups of baby spinach, de-stemmed
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast – rotisserie chicken works well
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese for service
  • Sliced green onions for garnish

Directions:

  • In a large sauce pan, bring the stock to a boil over medium high heat. Add the onions, the carrots, the celery, the mushrooms, and the red bell peppers. Bring to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the bouquet garni and continue cooking for 20 minutes.
  • Cook the Orzo in salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain.
  • Turn off the heat. Add the cooked, shredded chicken, the spinach, cover, and let sit for 20 minutes. Taste and season with salt and white pepper.
  • Add the cooked Orzo and heat for 5 minutes.
  • Ladle the soup into warm bowls and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Add some sliced green onions and serve.

Soup and Salad Night: Beef Barley Soup, Chopped Salad

Soup and salad for dinner always works. It’s simple, its not too heavy, and there’s usually soup left over for lunch the next day. The recipe calls for beef chuck, use your choice of good beef…I used rib eye chucks…less cook time required. Also, you make make this in an Instapot (slow cooker). After browning the beef, cook on Low for about 6 hours. The chopped salad and dressing are Cobb inspired.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of beef chuck, trimmed of fat, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup carrots, peeled, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup white onion, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup celery, 1/4 inch dice
  • 3/4 cup haricot verts (thin green beans), 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tsp garlic, thin sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp herbes de Provence
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 4 cup of low-sodium beef stock or broth
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked pearl barley (about 1/2 cup dry)
  • 2 tbsp corn starch (optional)
  • THE CHOPPED SALAD:
  • 2 slices of thick bacon, cooked, 1/2 inch chop
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, 1/2 inch chop
  • 2 ounces of sliced deli ham, chopped
  • 1 small avocado, 1/2 inch chop
  • 1 cup vine-ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, 1/2 inch chop
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled or chopped
  • THE DRESSING:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • THE BEEF BARLEY SOUP:
  • Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, brown the beef chunks, seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Add all the remaining ingredients, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook for about 1 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender.
  • Add the cooked barley and cook, covered, for another 30 minutes.
  • If you want the soup thicker, mix 2 tbsp of corn starch to 1/2 cup of water, mix well, and stir in to the simmering soup until thickened.
  • Remove the bay leaves. Taste. Reseason if necessary and serve.
  • FOR THE CHOPPED SALAD and DRESSING:
  • Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small food processor. Process until smooth. Taste. Reseason if necessary.
  • Wash and dry the chopped Romaine. Place in a salad serving bowl. Toss with the 3/4 cup of the dressing, reserve some for the table.
  • Place all the remaining ingredients in separate small bowls at the table for the guests to build their own salads.

Southwestern Crab & Black Bean Eggroll with Spicy Aioli and a Pico de Gallo Purée

These “egg Rolls” are made with 6-inch flour tortillas. They are also made in an air fryer, though can be deep fried if you want. There is only a small amount of crab, mostly black beans. The center is a stick of Jack cheese. The slaw is a cabbage and Jicama mix with jalapeños and cilantro. A lot of prep, but well worth it. I made the aioli, the cooked spinach, and the Pico de Gallo purée the night before. Makes about 8 eggrolls or so.

Ingredients:

  • The filling:
  • 8 thin 6-inch flour tortillas
  • 8 ounces of cooked crab meat, Dungeness, Snow, or King
  • 1 cup cooked black beans (if canned, drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup white corn, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cups of baby spinach
  • 1 cup fresh diced Roma tomatoes, cored, seeded, 1/4 inch chop + more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup red bells, 1/4 inch chop
  • 1/4 cup green onions, 1/4 inch slice – more for garnish
  • 2 tbsp jalapeños, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white onions, 1/4 inch chop
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Process all of the Pico ingredients in a small food processor until very smooth. Add the chopped cilantro and stir in. Taste. Reseason if neccessary.

  • Cilantro-Jicama Slaw
  • 1 1/2 cups green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 3/4 cup jicama, finely shredded
  • 1/4 cup carrots, finely shredded
  • 2 tbsp jalapeños, minced
  • 1/2 cup red onions, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Kosher salt to taste

Mix together the mayo, the sour cream, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Add to vegetables in a medium bowl and combine well. Taste. Reseason if necessary.

  • Spicy Aioli
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha sauce, more to taste
  • 1 tbsp shallots, mincef
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a small food processor. Process until very smooth. Taste. Reseason or add more Stiracha if needed.

  • The Eggroll filling:
  • Combine the black beans, the corn, the cooled chopped spinach, the red bells, 1/4 cup of sliced green onions, the chopped tomatoes, and the jalapeños in a medium bowl. Mix well. Gently fold in the drab and the chopped cilantro. Taste. Reseason if necessary.
  • Heat a flour tortilla in a dry skillet until soft. Spread about 2 tbsp of the spicy aioli across the middle of the tortilla. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the filling spread lengthwise. Add the jack cheese stick lengthwise on the filling. Roll up the tortilla like a skinny burrito (or eggroll) making sure the ends are tucked in. Secure with 2 toothpicks. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • If using an air fryer, rub or spray the eggroll with olive oil. Preheat airfryer to 370F. Cook for about 9 minutes, turning halfway until eggroll is crisp and golden brown. If deep frying, heat 1/2 inch of canola oil to 325F in a skillet. Fry, turning, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Drain on a paper towel if deep frying. Let fool slightly.
  • Remove to a cutting board. Trim off the ends of the tortilla to make the ends flat. Cut in half at an angle.
  • Spoon about 2 tbsp of the Pico purée on a plate, spread it around a bit. Stand one half of the eggroll on end next to the purée. Spread 2 tbsp of the spicy aioli on the plate. Lay the other half of the eggroll next to the aioli. Garnish with chopped cilantro, corn, green onions, and Cotija cheese. Serve with the Jicama slaw and sliced avocados or guacamole.

I Want a Bacon Cheeseburger!

Disclaimer and warning: This is my ubiquitous occasional burger rant. It is, of course, just my opinion. And, above all, it’s all good and just for fun!

So here’s the deal…I really prefer a burger that I can actually get my mouth around! However, it’s much more fun to build, look at, and photograph some highly-stacked monstrosity.

Another caveat on any burger of mine: the order in which it is built. Also, I still like to stick to the basic, traditional ingredients…lean ground beef with nothing mixed in, American cheese, iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes, pickle chips, and sliced white onions…I know, I’m channeling In N Out now. Mixing a bunch of crap into the ground beef constitutes Salisbury Steak or Meatloaf. Fruit (other than the tomatoes) does not belong either.

In my world, I do allow leeway with the cheese…cheddar or Swiss works sometimes…in any case, the cheese should be allowed to melt.

Burgers can be griddled on a flat top, or, grilled on a wood or gas grill…I love a char-broiled burger! Finally, I like to put real mayo, ketchup, and thousand island dressing on my burgers.

When I have the time, nothing beats grinding your meat. I have a Kitchenaide grinder attachment and it works great. I try to get a 75/25 mix by combining beef chuck and ribeye. Grinding brisket and short rib is great also. In any case, grinding your own beef and cooking it the same day can’t be beat.

I like to cook my patties in a very hot, cast iron skillet and use a meat press to help get that nice, brown crust on it. I cook mine medium, slightly pink in the very middle. Besides salt and pepper, I have a salt-free burger seasoning I make that goes on after I turn the patty. The recipe for the seasoning is listed below.

With that being said, here is my recipe for a great cheeseburger…actually, a bacon cheeseburger…here ya’ go…the build from bottom up:

  • Bun, brioche works the best, though I used a Kaiser roll here, griddled brown
  • Thousand Island dressing
  • 1/3 lb – 1/2 lb Ground beef patty, 80/20 or 75/25 – seasoned with a Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, these were cooked in a large, cast iron pan with a heavy meat press
  • 2-slices of American cheese
  • Kosher dill pickle slices
  • Ketchup
  • 2-thick slices of Hickory or Applewood smoked bacon, cooked crisp
  • Fresh, vine-ripe beefsteak tomatoes, 1/4 inch slice
  • White onions, 1/4 inch slice
  • Iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • Real Mayonnaise
  • Griddled bun

BURGER SEASONING MIX: (this is enough for several burgers)

  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp granulated or powdered onion
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Chicken Tortilla Soup with fresh-made Tomato Chile Broth

The Tomato Chile broth in this recipe can be used for any number of soups or stews. I like to make a bigger recipe and freeze about half of it. This broth comes out a bit picante (spicy) for some, so sometimes (for my spice-timid wife), I’ll thin it out with a little more chicken stock. To kick it up, add a couple habaneros and/or dried guajillo chiles to the broth recipe. Also, maybe garnish the end soup with slices of fresh jalapeño. Note: I listed the chicken breast as optional, leave it out if you prefer and add another vegetable of choice like carrots…as I prefer.

Ingredients:

  • FOR THE TOMATO CHILE BROTH:
  • 1 medium poblano, roasted, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 medium Anaheim chile, roasted, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 medium dried Ancho chile
  • 1 medium jalapeño, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled, quartered
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed
  • 4 sprigs of cilantro
  • 3 cups of low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup of dry Sherry
  • 1 – 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, juice included
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • FOR THE CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP:
  • One recipe of Tomato Chile broth (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup of low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white onions, 1/4 inch chop
  • 1/2 cup carrots, 1/2 inch chop (optional)
  • 2 tsp fresh garlic, thin sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp New Mexico chile powder
  • 1 – 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, juice included
  • 6 ounces of boneless chicken breast, 1 inch chop (optional)
  • 1 cup of cooked black beans, or 1 cup of cooked pinquito beans
  • 1 cup frozen white corn
  • 1 cup zucchini, 1/2 inch chop
  • 1/2 cup Mr. T’s Bloody Mary mix
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • Kosher Salt and white or black pepper
  • Fresh baked or fried tortilla strips
  • Grated Cotija cheese
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Chopped avocado

Directions:

  • MAKING THE TOMATO CHILE BROTH:
  • Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan or small stock pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, and simmer uncovered for 2 hours. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to another clean saucepan. Discard the vegetables. Cool the broth if not using immediately. You should end up with about 3 cups.
  • MAKING THE CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP:
  • Place the Tomato Chile broth in a large saucepan. Add the chopped onions, chopped carrots (if using), the chopped chiles, the sliced garlic, the cumin, the chile powders, the diced tomatoes, and the chopped chicken (if using). Bring to a simmer, cover, lower heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the cooked beans, the frozen corn, the chopped zucchini, the Mr. T’s, and the lime juice. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and season with Kosher salt and white pepper. Serve with fresh baked tortilla strips, grated Cotija cheese, chopped cilantro, and chopped avocado.

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala in its most basic, traditional form is a simple variation on Italian scaloppina dishes. That being said, my preferred method does not include bacon, or cream, or mascarpone, or breading, or any other vegetables other than shallots and mushrooms…oh, and fresh parsley! I’ve tried to describe a basic, classic version. You can thicken the sauce a little with a cornstarch slurry, or just reduce the sauce to a thicker consistency, leading to a more intense Marsala flavor, making essentially a pan reduction sauce. After all, it is called Chicken MARSALA. I also prefer to season this a bit pepper forward, your choice though.

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 12 ounce boneless chicken breast, cut in 4 equal (3 ounce) cutlets
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • About 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 cup cremini or white mushrooms, 1/4 inch slice
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock, cooled if using cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch, (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

Directions:

  • Cover the chicken cutlets with plastic wrap (or put them one at a time in a large freezer bag). Carefully pound them to about 1/4 inch thick. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour shaking off the excess.
  • Heat the olive oil and unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil and butter is hot, sauté the cutlets until they are golden brown on each side. Do not overcook as they are thin and will become tough. Remove to a plate, cover loosely with foil and keep warm. Lower the heat.
  • To the same pan, add the mushrooms and minced shallots and sauté over low heat for about 7 minutes, season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Add the Marsala and turn up the heat, bring the Marsala to a simmer for about 3 minutes to cook off the alcohol and begin to thicken.
  • At this point, you can whisk the cornstarch into the cooled stock, add to the pan bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 1 minute. If not using the cornstarch slurry, reduce the sauce over medium heat for about 5 minutes until it coats the back of a spoon. Taste the sauce and reseason with salt and pepper if neccessary.
  • Return the chicken breasts to the pan, coat both sides of each completely with the sauce, and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Add the chopped parsley and serve 1 or 2 cutlets over buttered egg noodles or steamed white rice, spooning the sauce and mushrooms evenly over the chicken.

Joe’s Special Breakfast Scramble

I love breakfast scrambles! I enjoy making them and I love eating them. Scrambles are wide open to doing your own thing…put what you want in them. This is my take on an iconic breakfast scramble called Joe’s Special. Original Joe’s is a long-time San Francisco restaurant (there are 3 now I think) started in 1937 and still owned by the original owner’s grandchildren. They have an elevated diner-style menu serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. I’ve tried to keep this recipe true to the original, described on the menu as follows: “Joe’s Special $17.95…Ground Chuck Sautéed with Onions, Spinach, and Eggs…with Mushrooms $19.95”. Quite a price change from 1937 when it was 70 cents! I serve mine with Yukon Gold Home Fries, toast, and a side of sliced tomatoes. Leave off the Home Fries and this is relatively low-carb and low-calorie. It does take a bit of pre-prep, but once that is done it comes together fairly quickly. Easy to make for a crowd as well. This recipe serves 2 people.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces of lean ground beef
  • Olive oil
  • Unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Seasoning mix (a pinch each of black pepper, granulated garlic, onion powder, paprika, and chile powder)
  • 2 tbsp minced white onions
  • 1/2 cup white mushrooms, 1/4 inch slice
  • 1 cup (packed) fresh baby spinach leaves, de-stemmed
  • 3 large eggs, scrambled with milk
  • 3 tbsp whole milk or half and half
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped chives

Directions:

  • Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the crumbled ground beef and minced onions to the pan. Brown thoroughly. Drain. Return to pan, turn down heat, season with salt and seasoning mix. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  • Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the skillet. Add the sliced mushrooms and spinach, season with salt and pepper. Sauté on low, stirring, for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Make a well in the middle of the skillet, add 1 tbsp of butter, then the eggs, then the cooked ground beef and the Parmesan cheese. Cook, stirring until the eggs are set and the ingredients are evenly distributed. Taste, reseason if neccessary. Serve immediately and garnish with chopped chives. Serve alongside Home Fries (recipe below), fresh sliced tomatoes, and toast.

Home Fries

  • Slice 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (leave skin on) into 1 inch square chunks.
  • Place the potato chunks in a medium saucepan. Cover the potatoes with water, add 1 tsp of salt, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 9 minutes. They will cook quickly due to the small size. Don’t let them get mushy.
  • Drain well, then put them in a large bowl, then into the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.
  • Heat about 1/4 inch of canola oil in a large skillet. When oil is hot, carefully add the potatoes to the oil and cook over medium heat until browned on all sides. Add 1/4 cup of diced white onions, cook, turning, for another 2 minutes. Season with a little salt and seasoning mix (see egg recipe above). Place in a paper towel lined serving bowl, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve immediately or hold warm uncovered in the oven.

Not Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs

These are not Italian Meatballs and Spaghetti…why? Well, according to most sources, Spaghetti and Meatballs is not a native Italian dish. Meatballs? Yes. Spaghetti? Most certainly! Oh, you can find this combination at some restaurants in Italy that cater to Americans. But not at traditional Italian restaurants in Italy. Seems like a silly semantics issue, but nonetheless, it is what it is…or, something like that. This recipe for meatballs and a basic tomato sauce is Italian. They’re the right size to be called that, golf ball size (unlike the unwieldy giant balls found in some American recipes). And, the ingredients are authentic (to the best of my knowledge). After years of making Italian meatballs (including many epic fails) I settled on this version that is easy, savory, fresh, includes a basic tomato sauce recipe, and lends itself well to being served atop spaghetti. Among other things, I substituted lean ground beef for ground veal and Italian sausage for the pork part of it. Please keep in mind when baking the meatballs…the size, the temperature, and your oven will vary. Just remember, it’s OK to under-bake them a little as they will finish cooking in the sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Panko crumbs
  • 6 ounces of cream
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup white onions, minced
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 12 ounces of lean ground beef, 85/15 grind
  • 12 ounces of Italian sauce, I use 3 Johnsonville Italian sausages, skins removed, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh minced parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 large egg
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • Fresh made Tomato sauce, recipe below
  • About 1 pound of dry spaghetti
  • BASIC TOMATO SAUCE:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 medium leaves of fresh basil
  • 1 clove of garlic, thin sliced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • One 32-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes (drained and run through a food processor) or crushed tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup red wine

Directions:

  • Soak the Panko crumbs in the cream in a mixer bowl
  • Prepare the tomato sauce. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil, sliced garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 2 minutes, do not let the garlic burn. Add the tomatoes, heat and cook about 10 minutes. Use right away or cool in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • In the meantime, heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat and add the canola oil. Sauté the onions until they are translucent. Add the sliced garlic for another 30 seconds. Add the rosemary, remove from the heat, mix, then cool completely in a bowl in the refrigerator.
  • Crumble the ground beef and Italian sausage while adding it to the mixer bowl. Add the cooled onion mixture, the grated Parmesan, chopped parsley, and egg. With the mixing paddle, begin mixing at low speed, adding some Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated, about 5 minutes.
  • Heat some olive oil in a small frying pan and cook a small sample of the mixture. Taste. And reseason as neccessary.
  • Form into golf ball sized meatballs and place on a baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. I made mine a tad smaller.
  • Preheat the oven to 375F. Bake the meatballs until well browned, about 18 minutes, turning halfway through. Please keep in mind that if you want bigger meatballs, the cooking time will need to be increased.
  • Add the browned meatballs to the simmering tomato sauce. Simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Cook and drain the spaghetti, place back in the pan in which it was cooked. Add 1 cup of tomato sauce to the spaghetti and toss thoroughly.
  • Plate portions of the spaghetti. Top with a few meat balls and sauce, add some fresh cracked black pepper, garnish with Parmesan, and serve.

Beef Tenderloin Stroganoff

(2-3 small servings)

We love Beef Stroganoff. This is a scratch recipe I’ve made for years trying to stay true to some classic methods I’ve read about over the years. Typically, thin sliced top round or sirloin is used…and typically it is not braised, ie, cooked for a long time. Even with top round, if you slice it really thin, brown it quickly then drop it back in the sauce and serve right away, it is pretty tender. Using beef tenderloin as I do in this recipe…well, tenderness is not an issue. This is very flavorful and almost as good as my childhood when my Mom made it with Campbell’s Golden Cream of Mushroom Soup!

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces of beef tenderloin, sliced into 1/4 inch strips about 2 inches long
  • 1 tbsp of canola oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup white onion, quartered, 1/4 inch slice
  • 3 ounces of white button mushrooms (about 3-4 medium) halved, then sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef stock
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

Directions:

  • Preheat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the canola oil and raise the heat. Season the beev with salt and pepper. Quickly brown the beef strips on both sides, about 1 minute on each side. Do not allow to cook all the way. Remove beef to a bowl and set aside.
  • Lower the heat, and add the unsalted butter. Add the onions and mushrooms. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring for about 2 minutes. Lower the heat and continue to cook for another 20 minutes until most of the liquid cooks out.
  • Whisk in the tomato paste and stir in, cook for 1 minute. Add the flour, stir in and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the beef stock, whisking constantly, bringing it to a boil. Turn heat to low.
  • Add the Worcestershire, the lemon juice, the mustard, and the sour cream. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Add the chopped parsley.
  • Cover and hold warm or serve immediately over cooked white rice or buttered egg noodles.