Monthly Archives: February 2013

Haveej Polo (Persian Chicken, Carrot and Rice Pilaf)

I will admit that other than the chicken being grown within 100 miles of my house, there is nothing particularly local about my making this dish at this time of year.  Although the chicken is local, the star of this meal is the carrots.  They add a good bit of sweetness, so make sure you add in enough salt when seasoning.

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It is a pilaf, mixing together rice, chicken and carrots, served topped with tadig (the crispy crust that forms on the bottom of the pot).  We served it with a caesar salad to add some green and some sharpness to the meal.

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Haveej Polo

1 1/2 lbs carrots

3 ounces sugar

1 cup hot water

1 1/2 lbs basmati rice

1 very large to 2 medium onions, sliced or chopped

1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 tsp saffron

canola oil

Kosher salt

Directions

Wash and grate the carrots.  In a large skillet (there are A LOT of carrots, so think really large skillet), heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat, add the carrots and cook for 3 – 5 minutes.  Dissolve the sugar in the hot water and add to the carrots.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated.  Set aside.

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Rinse the rice and the place in a large pot of salted water.  Heat until the water comes to a full boil, this should take about 20 minutes and the rice will be just shy of cooke through (it should still have a firm bite).  Drain and rinse with cold water.

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While the rice is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until golden. Add the chicken, season with salt and cook until the chicken is cooked through.

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Prepare the saffron (grind and then dissolve in 1 Tbsp hot water).

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Add to the chicken and onions and mix thoroughly.

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In a really, really big bowl, mix together the rice, chicken and carrots.

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Melt 1/2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp water in the bottom of the rice pot over medium heat.  Add the rice mixture and press down.

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Cover with a kitchen towel or padded lid and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about another 40 minutes.

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Remove the pilaf to a serving bowl.  The bottom should have formed tadig – a nicely browned crust.  Serve with a piece of tadig on top.  Enjoy.

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Serves 8 – 10.

Categories: Carrot, Main Dish, Persian, Recipe | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Mjeddrah – Lentils, Rice & Onions

I am in Vermont now, cross-county skiing with my daughter. But I want to share this with you, I made it a little while ago…

When I was in college, my housemate’s father was Lebanese and she would make a wonderful dish for us – mjeddrah. It was simple – rice, lentils and onions. So much flavor for so few ingredients.

For years I would make it, sometimes successfully, others a complete fail. Mostly based on the relative cooking times of the lentils and rice. Recently I found a recipe for mjeddrah by Yotam Ottolenghi; it was a bit more complex in flavor than any others I had tried, but the combination of spices he used was one I am very familiar with and really enjoy. In his recipe, he calls for cinnamon and nutmeg; I have replaced them with advieh, a Persian spice with similar characteristics. If you do not have advieh, you can go back to his version which is half cinnamon and half nutmeg. He also calls for whole cumin and coriander seeds – my family did not enjoy the whole toasted seeds in the dish (you can see the seeds in the picture below), so I have converted them to ground amounts in my version of the recipe.

Mjeddrah

– adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi

250ml sunflower oil

4 medium onions, thinly sliced

250g green or brown lentils

200g basmati rice

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 Tbsp advieh

1 tsp sugar

salt and black pepper

350ml water

Put the lentils in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and cool for 12-15 minutes, until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain into a colander.

Heat the sunflower oil in a medium-size, heavy-based saucepan. When very hot, add 1/3 of the onion. Fry for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon, until the onions are a golden-brown color and crispy. Use the spoon to transfer the onion to a colander and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with 2 more batches of onions.

Wipe the saucepan you fried the onions. Add the rice, olive oil, spices, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and plenty of black pepper. Stir to coat the rice with the oil and stirring the spices through.

Add the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on very low for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat, lift off the lid and cover the pan with a clean tea towel (or put on a quilted lid cover) and seal tightly with the lid and let sit for 10 minutes.

Mix in 1/2 the onions.

Serve topping each dish with more onions. Enjoy!

Serves 4.

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Categories: Kosher, Main Dish, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Roasted Vegetable Scrambled Omelet (Jerusalem Artichokes, Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts)

I still have more of Farmer Kim’s Jerusalem artichokes, so it is time for another creation.  I roasted them with two of my favorite winter veggies – cauliflower and brussels sprouts, then bound them together with eggs and cheddar in a scrambled omelet – yum!

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Roasted Vegetable Scrambled Omelet

(note: the pieces of all three vegetables below should be about the same size after being prepped)

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets

1 pint Brussels sprouts, cut in half

1 pound Jerusalem artichokes, cut in 1″ chunks  (from Farmer Kim)

2 to 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

salt (I used black sea salt)

10 medium or 8 large eggs (from Farmer Kim)

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Put all the prepped vegetables in a large bowl.

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Sprinkle with oil, salt and pepper to taste, mix well until the vegetables are coated with the oil, salt and pepper.  Place the vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet (you will probably need 2).

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Cook for about 45 minutes, until well browned, stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

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Beat the eggs in a bowl.  Mix in the shredded cheese.

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In a large skillet, preferably cast iron, cook the eggs over medium heat until they just start to set on the bottom.  Add the vegetables and mix all together until the eggs are finished cooking.

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Serve immediately.  We like ours with a touch of hot sauce, in this case it was sriracha.  Enjoy!

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Serves 4.

Categories: Breakfast, Cauliflower, Kosher, Main Dish, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Turkey (or Chicken) Vegetable Soup

As I usually do, I made turkey stock after Thanksgiving. I made A LOT of stock, which is in the freezer (hanging out with all my tomato sauce).  My friend Allan came and made us a wonderful turkey noodle soup.  Allan’s soups are always delicious, so I watched very closely as he worked his magic.  Then, when I decided to make some turkey vegetable soup to help ward off colds, I went to the freezer and brought out some more stock.

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Allan’s bouquet garni was wonderful, he made it from herbs I cut in the garden that day.  Today I used herbs I had dried from the garden.  I also opted to not use rosemary this time, but rather oregano. It still worked really well and imparted great flavor to the soup. Note:  I would not used store bought dried herbs, they are too finely crushed.

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I was only making a small pot of soup, feel free to increase all the quantities for a larger pot.

A note on vegetables – I prefer to feed my family organic vegetables whenever possible.  All the vegetables I grow are organic.  We have a few (very few) organic farmers locally, and they are worth any extra cost.  There are other farmers whom I know use as little chemical as possible, I buy from them as well.  Then there is other locally grown or organic produce from the grocery store, which of the two is preferable to me depends on the specific food item.  My general order of preference is:

  1. Grown in my garden
  2. Bought from local farmers who grow organically
  3. Bought from local farmers whose growing practices I know and approve of, even if they are not organic
  4. Non-local organic
  5. Local non-organic

There is nothing like chicken (or turkey) soup to calm the senses and heal both body and soul.

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Turkey (or Chicken) Vegetable Soup

1 quart of home-made turkey or chicken stock

Bouquet garni made from:

1 Tbsp dried basil (from the garden)

1 Tbsp dried parsley (from the garden)

1 tsp dried oregano (from the garden)

1 tsp dried thyme (from the garden)

5 dried sage leaves (from the garden)

1 bay leaf

1 parsnip, peeled and sliced/chopped (locally grown)

2 organic carrots, sliced

1 leek, white part only, sliced and chopped (locally grown)

2 stalks organic celery, sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Place the stock in a medium pot. Add the bouquet garni and vegetables.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to low, cover and simmer for at least 1/2 hour (longer is better).

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Serve with crackers or good bread. Enjoy!

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Serves 4.

Cooks note – You can add pasta or noodles, just increase the heat to a good simmer and cook until the pasta is cooked through.

Categories: Carrot, Leeks, Recipe | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Sweet Potato Beef Stew in the Slow Cooker

This is my last sweet potato post from my garden this season.  That makes me sad, but pleased that I have had enough to get me this far.

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For a while we had access to locally-grown, grass-fed beef.  During that period, I used to make a lot of beef stews.  One that I grew particularly fond of is a sweet potato stew.  Usually I make it with barley, but I do not have any barley in the house, so I am using short grained brown rice.  You can use either when making this.  Farro would also be good.

I was going to be making this on a day I would be commuting, so I prepped all the vegetables the night before.

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When morning came, all I had to do was put everything into the slow cooker and leave.  Nine hours later, I added the frozen peas, cooked it a little longer, and….

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Mmm-mmm!

Sweet Potato Beef Stew in the Slow Cooker

2 lbs stew beef, cut in cubes

2 cups onions, chopped

1 cup celery, sliced

4 cups peeled sweet potato, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 lbs) (from the garden)

2 cups carrots, sliced or cut into 1-inch rods

1 1/2 cups parsnips, cubed

4 cups low-sodium beef stock or broth

3/4 cup short grained brown rice, barley or farro

1/2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce

1 tsp dried oregano (from the garden)

28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice, crushed in your hands

1 1/2 cups frozen peas

1 tsp salt

Directions

Put all ingredients (except the peas) in the slow cooker.

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Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.  In the last 15 minutes, add the peas.  Finish cooking, and enjoy!

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Serves 6-8.

Categories: Carrot, Main Dish, Recipe, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Nutella French Toast

Everyone in my family loves french toast, and what better way to start off Valentine’s Day than with in some chocolate…in the form of  Nutella French Toast.  A friend at the University of Pennsylvania had suggested this to me – make a nutella-challah sandwich and turn it into french toast…I could not resist!

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Yes, it is a stretch to call these “from the garden”, but aside from the nutella, they are quite local…. the eggs are from Farmer Kim and the challah was made at our local bakery – Frankfurt Bakery.

I used a half a loaf of challah, you can use a whole loaf and double the recipe.

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We used a variety of toppings, sprinkled with powdered sugar, topped with sliced banana and maple syrup, and my favorite – with my home-made strawberry sauce (which was a strawberry jam that did not set up but has instead become my go-to breakfast topping).

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Nutella French Toast

1/2 loaf challah bread, sliced

Nutella

3 eggs (from Farmer Kim)

1/3 to 1/2 cup milk

cinnamon

butter for the pan

powdered sugar, maple syrup, bananas, other toppings

Directions

If the challah is large, slice the slices in half.

Spread the nutella on 1 slice of challah, place a similarly sized slice on top.

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Continue making the sandwiches until all the bread is used up.

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In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.

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Heat a griddle over medium to medium-high heat.  Spread with butter once it is hot.

Dip the sandwiches in the egg mixture and place on the griddle.

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Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.  Cook until the bottom is brown and the bottom slice cooked through, 2 to 5 minutes depending upon the heat.  Flip, re-coating the griddle with butter before placing the sandwich down.  Cook till the bottom is browned and the sandwich fully cooked through, again 2 to 5 minutes.

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Serve with your choice of toppings.  Enjoy!

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Serves 4

 

Categories: Breakfast, Kosher, Recipe | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Butternut Squash Bread

As with the rest of my late harvest, many of the butternut squash were attacked by bugs while I was in California in August. But I still ended up with a few squash to play with.  Today it is the Squash Bread recipe from Mollie Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook.  This is one of my go-to fun breads, I have been  making this bread as long as I have been growing butternut squash.

It is a yeast bread with a mix of whole wheat and white flour.  The squash gives it moisture and the molasses gives it earthiness. It is a great all-around bread:  as a PBJ, toasted with breakfast, with some apple-pear butter, you name it…

Butternut Squash Bread

Based on Mollie Katzen’s Squash Bread

1 large butternut squash (from the garden)

2 cups water, wrist temperature

1 package active dry yeast

A drop of molasses

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

3 Tbsp molasses

4 Tbsp melted butter

1 rounded Tbsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

~3 more cups whole wheat flour

~4 more cups unbleached white flour

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds.   Put it is a roasting pan cut-side down.  Add about 1/2 inch of water.  Cook for 1 hour, until a knife stuck into the shell goes in easily.

Remove and let cool.

Scoop out the meat and mash by hand or use a food processor until smooth.

Make the sponge:  Place the water in a large bowl.  Add the yeast and molasses. Beat in the flour.

Cover and let rise for 30-45 minutes.

Mix the following in a separate bowl:  the squash, molasses, butter, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Mix til well combined.

When it is room temperature, beat into the risen sponge.

Add the rest of the flour, one cup at a tim.  Knead.  Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise 1 hour, til it double in bulk.  Heat the oven to 375F.

before rising

after rising

Punch down the dough.

Knead on a floured surface.

Divide the dough in half and place in 2 oiled loaf pans.

Bake for 40-45 minutes – until the loaves sound hollow when thumped.  Remove from pans and let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy!

Makes 2 loaves.

 

Categories: Bread, Butternut Squash, Kosher, Recipe, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

Rotisserie-style Chicken in a Slow Cooker

Who doesn’t like those yummy rotisserie chickens you can buy at the store? (If you eat meat, that is)  But, they are loaded with salt and fat, so they are not the healthiest option.  But then again, they are so, so good. When I saw the recipe for rotisserie-style chicken in Stephanie O’Dea’s “Make It Fast, Cook It Slow,”  I had to try it.  I had a chicken from Farmer Kim’s farm in my freezer.  So, out came that wonderful tool, the slow-cooker!

To make this a healthy recipe, you actually remove the skin from the chicken before cooking.  This is a bit of a pain, but the skin is really not needed for the flavor of the bird.  I also did not worry about getting the skin off the drumsticks or wings, that was a bit more effort than I wanted to make.  There is also very little salt used, but the flavor of this bird is almost dead on to the high fat, high salt ones from the store.

The longer this cooks, the more tender the meat becomes.

Rotisserie-Style Chicken in the Slow Cooker

adapted from Stephanie O’Dea

1 4- to 5-pound whole chicken (from Farmer Kim)

2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp dried thyme (from the garden)

1/2 tsp dried oregano (from the garden)

1/2 tsp dried basil (from the garden)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp black pepper

4 whole garlic cloves

In a small bowl, make the rub – combine all the spices (salt through black pepper) and mix to combine.

Remove gizzards from chicken, remove skin.

Rub the seasonings all over the chicken, inside and out.  Place the cloves in the cavity.

Place the chicken in the slow cooker, breast-side down.  Cover and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or low for 8 hours.  Remove from slow cooker and cut into serving pieces.

Enjoy!  Serves 4

Categories: Kosher, Main Dish, Recipe | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

This recipe is an adaptation of another fabulous recipe from Diane Morgan’s Roots cookbook; what an amazingly wonderful surprise this book has been!

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The sweet potato ravioli is a bit of a “cheat”, you use wonton wrappers instead of making fresh pasta dough for the ravioli.  It worked os well, I will no longer hesitate to try ravioli recipes.

The recipe calls for sage leaves in the butter sauce, I found the ravioli was strongly flavored with sage, so omitted the sage in the butter sauce.

Did I say yet that this was delicious?  It really was.  It tasted like something I would have been served at a fine restaurant, in fact, I had a similar dish at FARMiCiA in Philadelphia in December.

To round out the meal, I served it with sautéed kale.  We had a plateful of kale each!

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Sweet Potato Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

adapted from Diane Morgan

1 3/4 lbs sweet potato (from the garden)

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4-1/2 tsp dried sage, crushed

1 tsp Kosher salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 1-lb package of wonton wrappers, kept refrigerated until needed

Butter Sauce

1/2 cup unsalted butter

pinch of sea salt

grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat to 425F.

Cut the sweet potatoes in half and rub the cut sides with olive oil.  Place the potatoes cut-side down  on a rimmed baking sheet.  Roast until very tender when pierced with a fork, 30-45 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  Scoop out flesh and mash until completely smooth.

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In a small frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute until soft but not brown, about 1 minute.  Add the sage and crisp for 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and add the salt and pepper.  Mix into the sweet potato.

(sorry, I got distracted by Cammy and forgot to take a picture)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  On a clean work surface, you will work in batches of 4 ravioli, so lay out 8 wonton wrappers.  Keep the remaining wrappers covered with a damp paper towel to keep them moist.  For each raviolo, place 1 level tablespoon of sweet potato in the center of the wrapper.

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Lightly brush the edges with water.  Place another wrapper on top and gently press down around the filling to release any air pockets.

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Using a 2 3/4 in round biscuit cutter or ravioli cutter/press, press gently to seal the raviolo.

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As the ravioli are formed, place them on the parchment paper.  Repeat until all filling is used up.  WIll make between 18 and 32 ravioli.

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Make the brown butter sauce – in a small frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat until it just starts to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and season with the salt. Set aside and keep warm until ready to use.

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Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and gently add the ravioli.  Reduce the heat so the water boils gently and cook until tender, 4 to 5 minutes.

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Using a large slotted spoon or spider, transfer the cooked ravioli to individual warmed plates or shallow bowls.  Spoon the sauce over the ravioli and finish with a generous sprinkling of cheese.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Serves 4 – 5 as a main dish.

 

Categories: Kosher, Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetarian | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Pasta Sauce with Dried Mushrooms and Red Wine

I still have a freezer full of basic tomato sauce just waiting to be played with and added to.

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I wanted to make a full-bodied sauce, so I decided to add some of my dried mushrooms and red wine.  It came out a little bitter, but adding a little sugar did the trick and it became luxurious.  

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I also added tomato paste to this sauce along with the red wine.  Since I use tomato paste in quantities of 1 Tablespoon here, another there, I have switched to using sauce in a tube.  It is much nicer than always having paritally used paste cans in the fridge. I would always end up throwing away at least as much as I used.  Now I just use what I need and the rest stores in the fridge in the tube until I next need it.

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Since all of our children were home (too rare an occasion), I served it over a symbolic heart shaped pasta (aren’t these fun?!  The colors are from various vegetable dyes).  I added some good bread and sauteed spinach on the side.  A nice dinner we could all enjoy.

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Pasta Sauce with Dried Mushrooms and Red Wine

1 pint basic tomato sauce or marinara

1/4 cup dried mushrooms

1/2 cup cabernet sauvignon or other red wine you enjoy

1 Tbsp tomato paste

up to 1 tsp sugar, if needed

Directions

If the tomato sauce is frozen, defrost it.

Place the sauce in a medium saucepan.  Add the mushrooms, wine and tomato paste.

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Cook over low heat until thickened and the flavors blend, about  15 minutes to 1/2 hour.  Taste the sauce, add sugar or adjust seasoning if necessary. (see cook’s note)

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Serve over pasta.  Enjoy!

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Serves 4 – 6.

Cooks note – I like to make the sauce the day before, let it cool and store it in the fridge until I am ready to make dinner.  Then I reheat it.  This allows the flavors to meld even more.

Categories: Kosher, Pasta, Recipe, Tomatoes, Vegetarian | Tags: , | 3 Comments

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