Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Unemployed guy is also caring a bit more about being frugal

When you're cooking with oil, food author Molly Stevens suggests saving your fancy olive oil—the cheap stuff will do just as well.

In her book All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking, Stevens explains:

[T]he best-quality, highest-priced, estate-bottled extra-virgin olive oils, especially any nonfiltered oils, should indeed not be used for cooking. First, the flavor and character will fade as you heat the oil, and if you've paid a hefty sum, it's a waste to pour it into a sauté pan. Second, any particles left in an unfiltered oil (as many of the best are) will burn and deteriorate when heated, and thus add bitterness to your recipes. Save these for drizzling over a plate of sliced summer tomatoes... or a hunk of rustic bread.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Minestrone Soup

I've been fascinated with Minestrone soup since watching a television show about the Centenarians of Sardinia. Read this great article here. In the oversimplified way that only people that know me understand, I can declare that the best way to live to be 100 years old is to drink wine, work hard outside, and eat minestrone soup.

Minestrone Soup (in a crock pot)


* 3 cups vegetable stock
* 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
* 1 (15-ounce) can white (cannellini or navy) beans, drained
* 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
* 1 celery stalk, chopped
* 1 cup onion, chopped
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
* 2 bay leaves
* Salt and ground black pepper
* 2 cups cooked ditalini pasta
* 1 medium zucchini, chopped
* 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen spinach, defrosted
* 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese


In a slow cooker, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, sage, bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.

Thirty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add ditalini, zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Remove bay leaves and season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle parmesan cheese over top.

Make sure two add two cups of cooked pasta. I cooked two cups of pasta first and added way too much. All of the broth subsequently disappeared. So if you want it to stay a soup, don't add any more than two cups of pasta.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers

We have a special Thanksgiving in my family. My mom puts together a three course meal that celebrates our Italian heritage in addition to the traditional fare. We have antipasti and other meats and cheeses for the first course, followed by homemade ravioli, meatballs, sausage, and sauce, capped off with the turkey and all the fixin's. The turkey this year came from Tendercrop Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts.

We always have lots of leftovers. This year I got a little creative and made a turkey pie with homemade crust. If you still have leftover turkey - give this a shot.

Aaron's Turkey Pie from Scratch

~2 cups of turkey (white and dark meat)
~2 cups of gravy (recipe below)
1 cup frozen peas
3 peeled and chopped carrots
1 Pie crust (recipe below)

Make the pie crust...

All-Butter Pie Dough from food and wine magazine


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup ice water


In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt. Add the butter and pulse until the size of peas. Drizzle in the water and pulse until the crumbs are moistened; turn out onto a work surface. Gather into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the pie crust is chilling make the gravy.


3 tbs flour
3 tbs butter
2 cups chicken stock

Melt the butter over medium heat and then add the flour. Whisk together until the roux is golden brown. Make sure your chicken stock is hot, and gradually whisk the stock into the pan until your gravy reaches your desired thickness. Add some salt or thyme if you like.

Mix the gravy, turkey, peas, and carrots in a bowl and drop into a 9 inch pie plate. Roll out the pie crust and put on top. Bake for 30 minutes at 425 or until the crust is golden brown.