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Posts from the ‘Sauces’ Category

Thanksgiving Preparation

Photo by James Ransom

Photo by James Ransom for food52

I don’t know where the time went, next week is Thanksgiving. It dawned on me today so I started prepping. I make the same thing every single year, no change there would be a coup if I did. Part of me didn’t want Thanksgiving to get here even though it’s my favorite holiday, it’s my first without Izzy and Nando and I feel sad.  That said I have started prepping, write the shopping list, order the turkey, make what I can in advance, bread cubes are drying in oven as I type this. Took a whole chicken out of the freezer to make stock. There is a lot of work and planning that goes into one meal and I do what I can in advance. Is that what you do? I usually have 8-10 here for Thanksgiving. How many do you have over?


What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Do you cook/host the meal or go to friends or relatives. Have you started preparing? Would love to know what everyone does, I know that some of you from other countries do not celebrate Thanksgiving. What is on the menu at your house? Traditional or non traditional or a mixture of both. Here is my menu with links to the recipes.

Butter and herb roasted turkey


mashed potatoes- yukon gold, sour cream. butter salt and pepper

brussels sprouts- oven roasted

corn – steamed and served with some butter

homemade potato dinner rolls

cranberry sauce- use the recipe on the ocean spray package but sub fresh squeezed orange juice for the water and add some orange zest.

pumpkin and pecan pie – I usually just use the pumpkin pie recipe on the can of LIbby’s pumpkin, may do something different this year from my good friend Johnny at Kitschen Flavors.

I have a pretty strict time line making as much as I can in advance.

Done in advance:

Make chicken stock (need for dressing)

Make cornbread and air dry (2 days before I make the dressing)

Dry bread cubes for dressing (doing that today)

Cranberry sauce made ahead and refrigerated (making it this weekend)

Make compound butter for turkey (Monday)

Make pie dough and refrigerate (Tuesday)

Day before:

Prep the turkey putting the compound butter under the skin, and refrigerate.

Make dressing cover refrigerate.

Make the bread dough, form into rolls, cover and refrigerate until a few hours before baking them.

Make the pies plus an extra for a friend, the apple and pear tart

Thanksgiving Day:

We eat late around 5:30 or 6PM. I’ve heard that most eat early like lunch time. This is actually the easiest day, I have already done a lot of the work. Set the table, get the wine ready, refrigerate the white, let the red breathe/decant.

Turkey goes in at around noon – I get at 18-20 lb turkey and it’s done in 3 ish hours because of the fast cooking method I use in my graniteware pan.

Peel potatoes and cut and let sit in cold salted water until ready to boil. (Usually around 4PM)

Make the corn and brussels sprouts.

Bake the dressing

Bake the rolls right before dinner is served so they are hot.

Whew, it’s a lot of work but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Love Thanksgiving!!

Izzy And Nando

Izzy And Nando


A Meatball Hero For Super Bowl Sunday And A Giveaway!!

Meatballs in Tomato Basil Sauce

Meatballs in Uncle Steve’s  Tomato Basil Sauce

The wonderful and very generous people at Uncle Steve’s NY’s have offered to send a lucky reader a trio of sauces (see photo below). This is a terrific gift and you will have the opportunity to try Uncle Steve’s sauce for yourself. To say thank you I am making Steve his favorite meatballs with pine nuts and raisins and I am serving as a meatball hero. My Mom also made these so when Steve mentioned it was his favorite Sunday Supper it reminded me of my Mom also. The meatballs are first fried and then simmered in Uncle Steves Tomato Basil sauce. I am really loving this, I kid you not it tastes like my homemade sauce. I will still make my own but this sauce is a great alternative when you are in a hurry or just don’t feel like cooking.

All you have to do to win is leave a comment below. The sauce will be sent to you directly from Uncle Steve’s NY and the winner will be chosen through a random drawing via The drawing is only open to those living in the Continental US, I am so sorry my dear friends overseas. The drawing will be on Friday February 6th.

Uncle Steve's Sauce

Uncle Steve’s Sauce

I used my recipe for Meatballs and added pine nuts and raisins, simmered in Uncle Steve’s Tomato Basil sauce and served on a soft roll with lots of melty cheese, now that’s a sandwich!!

Putting it all together

Putting it all together


1 lb ground beef – 80% I like chuck

1 lb ground pork or loose Italian sausage meat, sweet or hot

handful flat leaf parsley chopped

1/2 cup grated cheese – parmigiana or romano or both

2 eggs lightly beaten

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup pine nuts lightly toasted

1/4 cup raisins

salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix together, gently, don’t knead the meat or press on it. Form into balls I like them to be about the size of a hand ball. Heat some oil, olive works nicely in a skillet add some meatballs and fry until they are nicely browned on all sides, make sure there is space between each meatball while frying you don’t want to over crowd the pan. When done place in pot of sauce and simmer. Because I used already made sauce I didn’t cook as long if you are cooking the meatballs in homemade sauce I like to simmer for hours, literally hours maybe 3 or 4 hours on medium low heat.

Note: It’s hard to judge the correct seasoning so I add some salt and microwave a small piece to test for seasoning.

I simmered the meatballs in the sauce around 30 minutes. Slice open your bread, pre heat the broiler, brush the bread with olive oil and minced garlic, grate some cheese on both sides of the bread and put in the broiler until just very light brown, remove and add mozzarella to one side and put back in until the mozzarella is melted. Spoon meatballs and a little sauce on one side and close it up. Enjoy the sandwich and the game!! I don’t watch football so I will be enjoying my meatball hero while watching Downton Abbey.

Out of the broiler

Out of the broiler

Chinese Spare Ribs For Fiesta Friday #19


Chinese Ribs

Chinese Ribs

I love ribs, and really love the ribs you get in Chinese restaurants, they are sticky and a little sweet and tender, so delicious. I found this recipe on Martha Stewarts site. They are so easy to make,the  sauce is amazing and this recipe produces some exceptional ribs. I roasted the ribs for about 4 hours on 300, rather than a couple of hours at 325 degree’s simply because I had things to do and just left in the oven while I ran around.

So my offering for Fiesta Friday #19 is Chinese Ribs, serve with some of that delicious slaw thats here at the party. Our co hosts this week are Prudy@butter basil breadcrumbs and Sue@birgerbird and overseeing all of the party animals is the lovely and talented Angie@the novice gardener. I can’t wait to dig into everything that everyone brought.

Chinese-Style Spare Ribs
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Serves 6
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sambal oelek or other spicy chili sauce
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
4 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices

I changed the recipe just a bit, I like a little sweetness. I added a tbs (not packed) of dark brown sugar and 1 tbs of the Calmer Sutra Ginger honey. I would have added 2 tbs but thats all I had left. I did not have malt vinegar so used apple cider vinegar.

1 rack pork spare ribs, cut into thirds lengthwise
Coarse salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. In a food processor, pulse ketchup, hoisin, sambal oelek, vinegar, scallions, and ginger until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Season ribs with salt and coat both sides with sauce. Roast, bone side down, until ribs are tender but not falling off the bone, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Cut into single ribs and serve with slaw.

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

Semolina Yeast Herb Pancakes With Eggplant And Garbanzo Stew




A little different spin on the yeast and herb challenge for Fiesta Friday’s Challenge #1. These pancakes are Moroccan in origin, are so simple to make and really delicious. They are the perfect vehicle for whatever you would like to dip or scoop. I chose a roasted tomato,garbanzo and eggplant stew served with a cold yogurt, cucumber and mint salad. The pancakes only need one rise for an hour, the texture is different from your standard pancake because they are made predominantly with semolina. The basic recipe does not contain herbs but for this challenge I gathered some fresh herbs from the garden and added a little dried marjoram.

This very special edition of Fiesta Friday’s is hosted by the always wonderful Angie from The Novice Gardener and  co- host Catherine@Catherine Cuisine, Angie and Catherine will not only host, they will also judge, yes, there will be a winner and a gift. So exciting.


Serves 4-6depending on serving size

3 cups warm whey or water

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp instant yeast

1 3/4 cup semolina

1/3 cup flour

1 tsp honey

1 tsp salt

1 cup fresh herbs chopped (I used parsley, mint and chives) I used more parsley and chives than mint.

1 tsp dried marjoram

In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the warm whey or water with the baking powder. In a food processor, combine the semolina with the flour, yeast, honey and the remaining 2 3/4 cups of warm water; process for 30 seconds, until smooth. Add the salt and baking powder mixture and process for 30 seconds longer.  Pour the batter into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. I made this in the morning and let it rise for an hour then refrigerated until ready to make. Be sure to let it come to room temperature before making the pancakes.

Heat a crepe pan or skillet coated with olive oil until its hot, a drop of water should dance on the surface. Add the chopped herbs and marjoram and stir to combine.  Ladle some of the batter, it’s fairly thin,into  the pan and quickly spread so it makes a thin layer. Let it cook until bubbles appear then flip and brown on the other side. Keep in the oven on warm until ready to serve.



Eggplant and garbanzo stew

1 large eggplant skin removed and cut into approximately 1 inch cubes

1 small onion or 2 shallot minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (I used canned)

2 cups tomato sauce ( I made my own from roasted cherry tomatoes pureed in the blender)

1/2 tsp turmeric

pinch saffron

juice of half a lemon or a dried lime (if using dried lime make sure to use a knife and make slits)

1 tsp harissa or add to taste and heat tolerance.

Salt and pepper to taste

A generous handful of parsley and a few mint leaves chopped

Toss the eggplant in olive oil and bake in 375 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until browned. In saucepan sweat the onion and garlic in some olive oil, add the garbanzo’s and saute briefly just to warm and coat with the oil, now add the tomato sauce, turmeric, saffron,harissa and lemon and let simmer for 30 minutes, watch carefully and add liquid if necessary, you don’t want it too dry.
Add the eggplant and simmer for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and mint right before serving.

Yogurt,cucumber mint salad

2 cups plain greek yogurt ( I like full or reduced fat not non fat)

1 cucumber peeled and cut into small pieces

1- 1 1/2 tsp dried mint

salt and pepper to taste

Delicious meal

Delicious meal


Fiesta Friday Challenge

Fiesta Friday Challenge



Small Plates- Tapas

Cheese, wine and bread

Cheese, wine,olives and bread

Tapas anyone?

Tapas anyone?

I was recently inspired to make tapas after reading a post on the very beautiful blog Laura’s Mess. She and friends/fellow bloggers get together and prepare a feast frequently and it’s like a culinary tour of the world. I decided since I love the food of Spain and I am particularly fond of small portions that I would make tapas. You can eat a variety of foods and variety is the spice of life!!

For this meal I made some of my favorite Spanish dishes, they are simple and very tasty and I find that when you set out platters of a variety of food for friends it’s fun, add some good wine to the mix and it’s a great party. You can also make some of the food in advance. The meatballs and tomato sauce and the polenta keep very well for a day or two, I also boiled the potatoes for the patatas bravas a day ahead and fried them the day of, you can also make that yummy sauce ahead.

I am not going to post recipes for all,most of the recipes are not mine,  but I will provide the link to the recipe if you want to make. I served the polenta with the meatballs and tomato sauce, the grilled merguez goes beautifully with the patatas bravas.  The shrimp, well they are great on their own and don’t forget  the cheese and olives and bread with some good olive oil for dipping. Wash it all down with wine I chose Rioja. Sangria would also be lovely with this!!

Here is the menu:

Patatas Bravas

Albondigas- Spanish meatballs (Recipe calls for pork, I used pork and beef)

Merguez (grilled)

Roasted Tomato Sauce (No recipe needed see below for instructions)

Gambas Al Ajillo- Spanish Garlic Shrimp

Cheesy Manchego Polenta

Assorted cheese. bread, olives

Lots of wine

Oven roasted tomatoes for sauce

Oven roasted tomatoes and garlic

Sauce-fresh tomato, garlic,thyme and olive oil

Sauce-fresh tomato, garlic,thyme and olive oil

The tomato sauce is very simple, pre heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread cherry tomatoes and at least 3 cloves garlic on sheet pan,  I used assorted heirloom, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and sprinkle generously with thyme. Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes or until the tomatoes and garlic are softened and caramelized. Crush with fork or masher and add the meatballs, simmer on low heat for approximately 45 minutes to one hour. Serve with polenta.

Manchego Polenta

Manchego Polenta

Polenta ( You can easily half the recipe if doing tapas)

Serves 4-6 depending on serving size

4 cups whey or water

1 cup polenta (corn meal) I used stone ground

pinch of salt

1 cup grated manchego cheese

2 tbs butter

2 tbs heavy cream, creme fraiche or mascarpone

black pepper (2 or 3 turns of the pepper mill)

In saucepan add the whey or water and pinch of salt, bring to a rolling boil. Whisk in the polenta, don’t dump it all in add slowly while you are whisking it thickens very quickly. Lower heat to low and continue whisking until its done. It takes approximately 3-5 minutes for regular cornmeal and 7-10 minutes for stoneground. Remove from heat add the butter, cheese and heavy cream. Stir until its all incorporated. Cover pan and set aside.



I baked the meatballs at 375 degree’s for 30 minutes then finished on stove top simmering in fresh tomato sauce.


Mixed Beef And Pork Ragu With Rigatoni

A bowl of pasta

A bowl of pasta

I saw a post the other day from The Seasoned Traveller for Pappardelle With Pork Rib Ragu and it immediately brought me back to my childhood, one of my favorite Italian dishes my Mom made was a mixed meat ragu, Mom used both beef and pork and it was delicious the meat was so tender it literally melts in your mouth and the sauce is rich and thick.  Laura (The Seasoned Traveller) made a mouthwateringly good ragu and served it with pappardelle, imagine that ribbon like pasta with the thick rich meaty sauce. Delicious right?  Laura inspired me to make a ragu, I used beef short ribs and pork country ribs. Now I don’t know if technically that is the correct name for those ribs but thats what I know them as. They are meaty with just the right ratio of fat to muscle. It’s one of my favorite cuts of pork. I first sauteed the ribs in a little olive oil, then added some garlic and basil, tomato and slow simmered for about 3 – 4 1/2 hours until the meat was falling off the bone. I decided to make Rigatoni to serve with this thick rich sauce, the pasta is not delicate and neither is the sauce, its a great match. I make this the day before I serve it, the meat is quite fatty so I refrigerate overnight, scrape off most of the fat, reheat and adjust seasoning before serving. Added bonus there is something about an Italian sauce that always tastes better the next day, it’s that much more delicious.

Country Pork Ribs

Country Pork Ribs


Mixed Meat Ragu

4 meaty pork country ribs

4-6 beef short ribs

olive oil for pan

fresh or dried basil (8 leaves fresh and approximately 2-3 tsp dried basil) I never measure so its approximate do according to taste

2 cans (28 oz each) good whole tomatoes I like San Marzano – pureed in blender, run through food mill or broken up with your hands

1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes

1 shallot minced

3 cloves garlic peeled and smashed

peperoncino or crushed red pepper a generous pinch

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in dutch oven, add the short ribs and sear, remove and sear the pork ribs, remove to plate. Add the shallot and saute until it softens, then add the garlic and lightly brown, if using dried basil add to the oil with the garlic also add the crushed red pepper when it is almost done. Add the crushed tomatoes and you can either put the whole tomatoes in the blender or food processor to puree or break with your hands or use a food mill. Add the whole tomato puree to the pot, season with salt and pepper, add the fresh basil. Now add the meat, bring to a boil then reduce to medium and simmer for 3-4 1/2  hours or until meat is fall off the bone tender.

To serve I remove the bones and leave the meat in nice size chunks, I don’t like to shred it. I add some of the sauce to a saute pan. add the al dente pasta and let it cook a minute or two in the sauce. Divide into bowls, add meat and a little more sauce and finish with a nice grating of cheese either parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano or both.

Meaty and Delicious

Meaty and Delicious


The Basics- Hollandaise Sauce



Julia Child calls this one of the Mother sauces. I love Hollandaise, probably because it’s a crucial component for my favorite meal, Eggs Benedict and right there with that is asparagus with Hollandaise. It’s creamy, buttery, citrusy, I could almost drink it, well not really but I do really like it. The classic method of preparation is to whisk over a double boiler which is how the recipe will be written here. I can’t always be bothered to do this and I take a shortcut, blender Hollandaise, pouring the hot butter into a whirring blender or food processor (much like the mayonnaise) the hot butter heats the yolks and is blended into a delicious creamy thick sauce.

Asparagus with hollandaise

Asparagus with hollandaise

Hollandaise Sauce

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups

3 egg yolks

big pinch of salt

1 tbs lemon juice ( I like it very citrusy so I add some lemon zest also)

2 tbs cold unsalted butter

2 sticks ( 8 oz) unsalted butter melted

salt and pepper to taste

Beat the egg yolks with a wire whisk in a stainless steel saucepan for a minute or two until they thicken lightly and turn lemon colored. Whisk in the salt and lemon juice and add 1 tbs cold butter. Set over moderate low heat and whisk continuously at moderate speed. remove pan from heat now and then to make sure the yolks aren’t cooking too fast. When they cling to the wires of the whisk and you can see the pan between strokes, remove from heat and stir in the 2nd tbs of cold butter. Start beating in the melted butter by little dribblets at first, until a good 1/2 cup of the sauce has thickened, then add the rest of the melted butter a little more quickly as the sauce thickens into the consistency of heavy cream. Taste and correct seasoning.

I cut corners because I cannot really hand whisk so I thought why not try a blender or food processor. It comes together in minutes and works well. I whiz the egg yolks, lemon, lemon zest and salt until light and creamy, now add the 2 tbs of cold butter and whiz together and  drizzle in the melted butter with the blender or processor running, stop when thick and creamy. If you have leftover sauce, refrigerate no more than a day or two and heat GENTLY in double boiler.

Troubleshooting Hollandaise:

If you have added the butter too fast for the egg yolks to digest it, or if you’ve kept the sauce over heat too long, it can thin out or separate. To bring back to a creamy state, whisk briefly to blend and add a tablespoon into a bowl, whisk in a tbs of lemon juice and whisk vigorously until creamy. Now whisk in very little dribbles of the turned sauce gradually increasing the amount until is is all creamed and has reconstituted.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict




Bernaise Sauce with steak is one of lifes great pleasures. It is basically hollandaise with some vinegar, shallot and taragon. To make Bernaise to a small saucepan add 1/4 cup white wine vinegar and 1/4 cup white wine, 1 tbs minced shallot, 1/2 tsp dried tarragon, 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until it reduces to 2 tbs. Use this in place of the lemon juice and reduce the butter to 1 1/2 sticks. Optional add chopped fresh tarragon at the end.