Another Jamie Oliver dish that was wonderful.  Next time I think I would cut out the first few steps of making the red sauce by just using some of what I’ve canned from the summer, but great recipe nonetheless.

2 knobs of butter
• olive oil
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• a large handful of fresh marjoram or oregano, roughly chopped
• ¼ of a nutmeg, grated
• 8 large handfuls of spinach, thoroughly washed
• a handful of fresh basil, stalks chopped, leaves ripped
• 2 14oz cans of good-quality plum tomatoes, chopped
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• a pinch of sugar
• 14oz crumbly ricotta cheese
• 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 16 cannelloni tubes
• 7oz mozzarella, broken up

for the white sauce
• 1 pint of crème fraîche
• 3 anchovies, finely chopped
• 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Then find a metal baking pan or ovenproof dish that will fit the cannelloni in one layer so it’s nice and snug. This way you’ll get the right cover of sauce and the right amount of crispiness on top. When I cook this at home I just use one pan to cut down on lots of washing up! Take your metal pan or a saucepan, put it on a high heat and add your butter, a drizzle of olive oil, one of the sliced garlic cloves, a handful of marjoram or oregano and the grated nutmeg. By the time the pan is hot the garlic should be soft. Put as much spinach as will fit into the pan. Keep turning it over; it will wilt quickly so you will be able to keep adding more spinach until it’s all in. Moisture will cook out of the spinach, which is fine. By cooking it this way you don’t lose any of the nutrients that you would if boiling it in water.

After 5 minutes, put the spinach into a large bowl and leave to cool. Place the pan back on the heat, add a little olive oil, the other clove of sliced garlic, your basil stalks and the tomatoes, then fill one of the empty tomato cans with cold water and add this too. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, add a pinch of salt and pepper and the sugar, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until you get a loose tomato sauce consistency. Then take the pan off the heat and add the basil leaves.

By now the spinach will have cooled down, so squeeze any excess liquid out of it and pour this back into the bowl. Finely chop the spinach and put it back into the bowl. Mix it with the liquid, add the ricotta and a handful of the Parmesan, and then use a piping bag to squeeze the mixture into the cannelloni. You can make your own piping bag by getting a plastic sandwich bag and putting the spinach mix into the corner of it. Then twist the bag up and cut the corner off. Carefully squeeze the filling into the cannelloni tubes so each one is filled right up – really easy.

Lay the cannelloni over the tomato sauce in the pan. Or you can pour the tomato sauce into your ovenproof dish and lay the cannelloni on top. To make the white sauce, mix together the crème fraîche, anchovies and the 2 handfuls of Parmesan with a little salt and pepper, then loosen with a little water until you can spoon it over the cannelloni. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and the mozzarella pieces, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden and bubbling.

This adaptation of a Barefoot Contessa recipe had us licking the bottom of bowls the other night.  I was trying to think of a way to make her white bean soup a little bit more “manly” for the Hubby and the result was wonderful.  With a little crusty bread, you’ll have a full blown meal on your hands.

  • 1 pound dried white cannellini beans
  • 4 cups sliced yellow onions (3 onions)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large branch fresh rosemary (6 to 7 inches)
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 hot italian sausage links, casing removed

In a medium bowl, cover the beans with water by at least 1-inch and leave them in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. Drain.

In a large stockpot over low to medium heat, saute the onions with the olive oil until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes. Add the drained white beans, rosemary, chicken stock, and bay leaf. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the beans are very soft. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown the sausage, breaking it up wiht the back of a wooden spoon (about 10 min).

Remove the rosemary branch and the bay leaf. Pass the soup through the coarsest blade of a food mill, or place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely pureed. Return the soup to the pot to reheat and add salt and pepper, to taste, as well as the sausage. Serve hot.

This is by far my favorite lasagna recipe.  It has an amazing white sauce mixed in with the meat sauce that just puts it over the top.  The butternut squash also adds a refreshing change to this classic dish.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

4 slices of thick bacon

• a pinch of cinnamon
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 carrot, finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 2 handfuls of fresh herbs (sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme)
• olive oil
• 1 1/2 lb. ground turkey
• 2 14oz cans of good-quality plum tomatoes
• 2 glasses of red wine or water
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 butternut squash, halved, deseeded and roughly chopped
• 1 tablespoon cilantro seeds, bashed
• 1 dried red chili, bashed
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 14oz fresh lasagne sheets *
• 14oz mozzarella, torn up

for the white sauce
• 1 pint crème fraîche
• 3 anchovies, finely chopped
• 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
optional: a little milk

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a large casserole-type pan slowly fry the pancetta and cinnamon until golden, then add the onion, carrot, garlic and herbs and about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix together, then add the beef and pork. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the canned tomatoes and the wine or water. Add the bay leaves and bring to the boil. Then get some greaseproof paper, wet it and place it on top of the pan with a lid placed on top as well. Then place in the preheated oven for 2 hours or simmer on the hob over a gentle heat for around an hour and a half. Rub your butternut squash slices with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the bashed-up cilantro seeds and chili. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for the last 45 minutes of cooking the sauce. When the sauce is done, season to taste and put to one side. Mix together your crème fraîche, anchovies, and a handful of Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. You may need to loosen the mixture with a little milk.

Turn the oven to 400ºF. To assemble the lasagne, rub an earthenware lasagne dish with olive oil, lay some sheets of lasagne over the bottom and drape them over the sides. Add a layer of meat, a little white sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Break the butternut squash into pieces and use this as one layer, then repeat the layers, finishing with a layer of pasta covered in white sauce. Tear over the mozzarella and sprinkle with some extra Parmesan. Cook in the preheated oven for 30–35 minutes, or until golden.

*Note: Jamie uses fresh pasta, and while I think that is wonderful, I usually make this with your run-of-the-mill boxed pasta sheets.  If you make it the night before, you don’t even have to boil the pasta…just let it sit in the pan with all the other layered goodies and they will soften naturally.

Baby Grant is growing so fast!  He’s sitting up on his own and babbling up a storm.  He’s also eating baby food.  So far everything I’ve made has been super easy and can just steam on the stove while we’re eating dinner and be mashed up for the next day.  His favorite so far?  Pears.  The site that’s been most helpful is this: http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com.  It has a whole list of what foods are appropriate for which age and various recipes.  The best part is that it tastes SO much better than what’s in those nasty little jars and is very cost effective.  I can’t wait till he can eat finger foods!

 

For some reason whenever I think about pots of soup I always think about that scene in Macbeth where the three witches are standing over their cauldron.  I don’t know why– I don’t have visions of overtaking another’s throne or of being taken down by a C-Sectioned man.  Maybe it’s a morbid curiosity over what the fates are brewing up.  Brewing up some goodness of my own, throughout the cold weather I usually make about a pot of soup a week.  This is one of my favorites….

8 ounces bacon, chopped

1/4 cup good olive oil

6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
12 cups chicken stock
6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)
10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 pound sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmeruncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.

 

These are my famous Aunt Lois’ pancakes.  I can’t say enough about them or her.  They’re both tender, sweet, tangy, and everyone always looks forward to meeting them.  She’s wonderful and they’re wonderful.  I hope you enjoy this small piece of her as much as I do.

1 Cup Buttermilk
1 cup Flour
1/4 tsp. oil
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
2 T. Sugar
2 Eggs

Mix all ingredients and then add enough water to make a loose batter consistency (will easily slide off the back of the spoon).  Heat a skillet over high, add a pat of butter and then pour out your batter into the desired size.   Cook for a minute or two each side until golden brown and serve immediately.

Tired of mashed potatoes and so many other often repeated potato dishes, these oven fries are one of my absolute favorites.  They’re crispy on the outside, soft and puffed on the inside…and the flavor….

Preheat oven to 425F.  Cut the potatoes into wedges and toss with olive oil and about a teaspoon of fresh rosemary and a tablespoon of fresh chopped garlic.  Place on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 30 min or until golden brown and then flip them over onto the other side.  Cook for another 20 min, or until golden brown.

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