Meatless Vegetarian Pasta Sauce (Sugo Finto)

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Sugo Finto - "Fake Sauce" - uses celery, carrots and onion in a red wine tomato sauce to produce a rich, hearty flavor for pasta without meat. I learned this recipe at a Tuscan cooking class at Fattoria Corsignano near Siena, Italy. You won't miss the meat, I promise!

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Pasta Sauce, Meatless (Sugo Finto)
Cuisine Italian
Servings
Ingredients
Cuisine Italian
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Finely dice carrots, celery and onions.
  2. Sauté in olive oil until the onions are translucent and everything is well cooked and tender. Add a clove of diced garlic here if you like.
  3. Add red wine and stir in salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes to reduce.
  5. Add crushed tomatoes and cook, uncovered, for 30-45 more minutes to allow the flavors to blend, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
  7. Serve warm, over al dente pasta, and sprinkle with fresh-grated Parmesan.
Recipe Notes

Fresh basil leaves are a good garnish. Crusty bread and red wine are good partners!

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Rosemary Mozzarella Cubes Appetizer

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Another quick, easy, make-ahead appetizer to set on a buffet for holiday parties or any time. Goes great with wine.

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Mozzarella Cubes, Rosemary, Appetizer Recipe
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Servings
Ingredients
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine cheese, rosemary, pepper, garlic and oil in a bowl.
  2. Toss to coat.
  3. Refrigerate for at least an hour up to 12 hours before serving. The longer it chills, the more intense the flavor.
  4. Stir again to coat and serve alongside crackers, pickles and other items on an appetizer tray.
Recipe Notes

Don't use fresh mozzarella for this; it's much better to use the low-moisture variety.

A fancy, flavorful, green olive oil is best to enhance the strong, Italian flavors of this recipe.

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Tarragon Salad with Blue Cheese and Pears Recipe

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A salad based on one I had at Goldmarie restaurant in Munich. The recipe seems French, however, because of the French lettuce and French cheese. It's a perfect accompaniment to rich mains like steak and lobster.

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Salad, Tarragon with Blue Cheese and Pears Recipe
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine French
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine French
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Wash and dry the frisee, tarragon and pear.
  2. Gently separate 4 equal portions of frisee from the head and place in 4 individual serving bowls.
  3. Remove 10 to 12 tarragon leaves from stem and arrange on top of each serving of frisee.
  4. Whisk honey, vinegar and oil together for dressing. Drizzle about 2 teaspoons of it over each salad.
  5. Slice the St. Agur into four quarter-inch slices. Place one slice on top of each salad.
  6. Thinly slice the pear and arrange 1/4 of it around each bowl.
  7. Toast the nuts in a dry skillet. Chop and sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of them over each salad.
  8. Top each bowl with a small handful of sprouts. Serve chilled.
Recipe Notes

Substitute any sort of fancy lettuce for the frisee; cut broad leaves into thin slices.

St. Agur is really the best cheese to use for this; however, any buttery, double-cream blue cheese will do nicely as well. Do not use overly tangy, drier blue cheese.

This salad is perfect for a rich protein such as steak or lobster.

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Green Beans with Sauteed Radishes and Pine Nuts Recipe

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A simple vegetable side dish using fresh summer green beans and radishes plus the earthy tone of pine nuts. Makes a wonderful, light side for steak, chicken or pork, especially grilled proteins.

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Green Beans with Sauteed Radishes and Pine Nuts Recipe
Course Brunch, Side Dish
Cuisine French
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Brunch, Side Dish
Cuisine French
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat and add pine nuts in a single layer. Let nuts brown on one side, about 30 seconds or so. Shake the pan and brown them on the other side. Tend them carefully; they burn before you know it. Transfer them to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Blanch the green beans in salted water. Dry them with paper towels. Set aside.
  3. Warm the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Saute the radishes, cut side down, for 2 minutes. Shake the pan and continue cooking, shaking the pan occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes more.
  4. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring, until the liquid is evaporated, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Season the radishes with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Set them aside for now.
  6. Return the pan to medium heat and add the butter. Cook, swirling the pan until the butter begins to brown and has a nutty aroma, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add the onions, mustard and herbs. Stir until onions soften, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the green beans and radishes and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the beans are warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and sprinkle with the pine nuts. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

This recipe works well with asparagus, too.

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Cold Summer Gazpacho Soup Recipe

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The best summer no-cook dish of all time: gazpacho, a chilled soup of fresh tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, lime and tasty seasoning. Serve with a fresh baguette for a perfect lunch on a hot day.

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Soup, Gazpacho Recipe
Cuisine Spanish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Cuisine Spanish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Put the tomatoes in a bowl.
  2. Peel and seed the cucumber. Finely dice the cucumber, celery, bell pepper and onion. Press or finely dice the garlic. Add everything to the bowl.
  3. Juice the lime. Stir in the lime juice, Sriracha sauce, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Roughly chop the cilantro. Place it in a blender with 1 1/2 cups of the tomato mixture. Pulse until smooth. Add back to the bowl. Mix well. If you like the gazpacho completely smooth, blend all of it.
  5. Chill for at least two hours and up to two days. Serve with a garnish of sour cream, Greek yogurt, fresh chopped scallions or cucumber. Lay a piece of fresh baguette or garlic toast alongside.
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Meatloaf Recipe

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Savory delicious family-style meatloaf, perfect for Sunday dinner or any night of the week. Easy to make and serves 10-12 people, this recipe can be modified to serve more or less. Makes great leftovers and freezes well.

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Meatloaf Recipe
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Tomato-Basil Glaze
Meatloaf
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Tomato-Basil Glaze
Meatloaf
Instructions
Tomato-Basil Glaze
  1. Combine all glaze ingredients in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by half. Cover and keep warm.
Meatloaf Proper
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions in the oil for 3 to 5 minutes until they begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute another minute or so until the garlic is soft. Do not overcook. It's better to undercook a little so the cooking finishes in the oven. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Place all the meatloaf ingredients except the bacon in a large bowl.
  3. With your hands, combine everything well. Do not overwork; the meat should still look like ground meat, not a paste.
  4. Line a 9x13 baking pan with aluminum foil. Form a loaf with the meat approximately 7x11 inches in the pan, leaving at least an inch between the loaf and the pan on all sides for even cooking.
  5. Brush the loaf with half the glaze.
  6. Place the bacon strips in a single layer to cover the loaf.
  7. Place in a preheated 375 F oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Use an instant-read thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature at the thickest part of the loaf is 160 F. Do not cook longer; overdone meatloaf is very tough.
  8. Remove from oven, cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Slice and serve with the rest of the glaze on the side.
Recipe Notes

Substitute 1/2 cup ketchup for the tomato-basil soup in the glaze, then just heat the mixture through instead of reducing it.

Typical sides are mashed potatoes and green beans.

 

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Spicy Cajun New Orleans Shrimp Recipe

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This spicy Cajun shrimp recipe is easy to prepare and quick to cook. Use over rice, grits or even a salad for a fresh seafood treat. Don't like hot food? I give options to make them milder.

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Shrimp, Spicy Cajun New Orleans Recipe
Marinate shrimp in a spicy Cajun seasoning mix then quickly fry it up with onions and garlic for a wonderful New Orleans treat.
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Fry bacon until crisp. Alternatively, place strips on rack on baking sheet and bake in preheated 375 F oven for about 30 minutes til crisp. Drain on paper towels, crumble and set aside.
  2. Mix shrimp with seasoning in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to marinate.
  3. Heat skillet on medium heat. Melt butter in 1/4 cup olive oil. Add onions. Saute for about 5 minutes until onions are tender and translucent. Add garlic and saute an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add marinated shrimp to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp begin to become firm and slightly pink, about 4 minutes. Add remainder of olive oil and saute for about 1 minute more to infuse the oil with the seasoning. Immediately remove from heat.
  5. Serve in a bowl over rice, grits or salad greens, drizzling the extra, infused oil around sides. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and sliced scallions on top.
Recipe Notes

I use Emeril Lagasse's Essence spice mixture. Use less seasoning for less spicy shrimp. For more spice, add cayenne pepper to taste. For no spice at all, use a seasoning mix without cayenne.

Do not overcook the shrimp. They turn hard and rubbery if overcooked.

Serve over rice or Asiago cheese grits. These shrimp are great over a green salad, too, even chilled.

 

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