Monday, February 20
I’ve tried making bolognese sauce a few times in my life and was never impressed. I blamed the bolognese. But what I should have been blaming were the recipes I was trying. Today I have a recipe that is divine and completely changes how I feel about homemade bolognese sauce. This past Christmas I found myself with a half a pound of ground veal left over from making Swedish meatballs. I searched around the web for recipes to use up the veal and happened upon this recipe for veal bolognese from Food & Wine. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly but used it as a guide and oh my GOODNESS the resulting sauce was so, so good and flavorful and wonderful and, well, I am finally impressed by homemade bolognese sauce.
I think one of the reasons the sauce was so good was because I used half veal, half regular ground beef. But I’m quite certain the sauce will still be uber delicious with straight ground beef, as the veggies and spices are what really make this sauce shine. If you want to use veal, by all means do. But ground beef alone is a-okay.
Click here for the original recipe, which also includes butternut squash, which I am sure is delicious! Below is my version of homemade bolognese sauce, with some modifications from the original recipe.
Oh, one more note! I used a rigatoni-like pasta instead of spaghetti and really liked that shape of pasta with this sauce. Use whatever pasta you like, but the rigatoni is quite delicious.Homemade Bolognese SauceAdapted from a Food & Wine recipe.Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 1 pound ground beef or veal (or half pound of each)
- 2 slices of bacon, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup minced carrot
- ½ cup minced celery
- ½ cup minced onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press
- Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground sage
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil OR 1 tablespoon fresh basil (chiffonade)
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 15-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ¾ cup cream
- In a large cast-iron casserole (or pot), cook minced bacon in the olive oil over medium heat, for about 5 minutes until bacon is well cooked, stirring occasionally.
- Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Sprinkle evenly with a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes. Add the fresh garlic and stir.
- Add the ground meat along with the sage, parsley, bay leaf and oregano. If using dried basil, add that now as well. Season evenly with a few pinches of salt. Cook until meat is cooked through and no longer pink, stirring regularly.
- Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced significantly, about 3-5 minutes. Add UNdrained tomatoes and cook until liquid is reduced by about half, around 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaf. Add the cream and, if using fresh basil, the basil. Stir and add salt to taste if needed. Finish off with a few shakes of pepper.
Thursday, May 26
Today on the podcast I share my favorite pasta cooking tip along with a great pasta recipe. Afterwards comes the really good part – I chat with award-winning food writer, cookbook author and yogurt expert Cheryl Sternman Rule. Cheryl is fabulous and she shares all kinds of fantastic yogurt tips and recipes with us today. It’s a must listen! Cheryl’s done all kinds of cool things, from getting a masters from Harvard, attending culinary school, working at the Department of Justice as well as doing a Peace Corps stint in Africa. What hasn’t Cheryl done?! The best part about Cheryl, though, is her warmth and approachability and I’m sure you’ll fall in love with her just as I have. Thanks for being on the show, Cheryl!
- Cheryl’s book Yogurt Culture: A Global Look at How to Make, Eat, Sip and Chill the World’s Creamiest, Healthiest Food
- Cheryl’s book Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables
- Cheryl’s yogurt website Team Yogurt
- Cheryl’s blog 5-Second Rule
- Cheryl’s main website for everything wonderful she works on
- Cheryl’s Sour Cherry Yogurt Cake with Pistachio-Cardamom Crush
- Master Homemade Yogurt Recipe from Yogurt Culture
- NPR article about heirloom yogurt starters, a topic Cheryl touches on in the show
- Fraiche in Palo Alto
- No. 3, aka Green Noodles recipe
It’s easy to listen to the show!
- Via the web: Just click play below!
- Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.
- If you enjoy the podcast, please leave a rating and/or review on iTunes!
- Big thank you to d&m for providing the music for the podcast!
- Cheryl’s Headshot Photo Credit: Danielle Tsi
Thursday, August 20
Years ago I did a Call for Recipes for homemade mac & cheese. Many tasty recipes were submitted and I’ve used several with great success. There was one in particular, though, that caught my eye. It involved the microwave and seemed almost too easy. I finally tried the technique out last week and loved it so much it deserves its own post!
Cailean was the lovely person who shared the recipe with me. I checked with her and she has no clue where she got the recipe from, although there are many permutations of it online. She knows she didn’t make it up herself, but she did notice that her version doesn’t have butter, which is different than most other similar recipes. So, we’re just going to give Cailean credit. Sound good? Great!
You’ll still need the stovetop to cook the noodles, but the sauce gets cooked in the microwave. I kid you not, in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the noodles you will be done making the homemade mac & cheese. It’s super awesome and takes up as much of your time as boxed mac & cheese. Which begs the question, why would you ever go back to boxed mac & cheese after this?!Microwave Homemade Mac & CheesePrep timeTotal timeRecipe originally from reader Cailean, but I've added a few things and written it in my own wordsAuthor: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 16-ounce package of pasta, small shells or elbow macaroni
- 2 cups milk
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Two pinches nutmeg (optional)
- 2 cups shredded cheese (Cheddar is great on its own, but doing half gruyere-half cheddar is nice. For more mild flavor, half monterey jack-half cheddar nice, too.)
- ½ cup Panko bread crumbs (optional)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter (optional)
NotesServes 6-8. A good rule of thumb for pasta is 2 ounces uncooked pasta per person.3.3.3070
- Put the water for the pasta on to boil.
- Shred cheese. In a good-sized microwave-safe bowl, whisk together well the milk, flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg (if using). Stir in the cheese.
- When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, cook the milk-cheese mixture in the microwave on full power 1-2 minutes at a time, whisking after each time. Keep cooking until cheese is fully melted and you have a nice, smooth sauce (probably about 5 minutes total).
- Drain pasta, return to pot then add sauce and mix well.
- If you want to top the mac & cheese with breadcrumbs, boil the pasta in a wide, oven-safe pot (like my Le Creuset 5½ quart). After the mac & cheese is all mixed together in the pot, sprinkle evenly with panko bread crumbs (about ½ cup or so) then drizzle with butter. Place pan in oven under high broiler and cook until breadcrumbs start to brown, a few minutes. If you don't have an oven safe pot, feel free to transfer the mac & cheese to a 9" x 13" casserole dish before adding the bread crumbs and broiling in the oven.
Tuesday, April 8
For our very first date, Nate and I went to the Davis Square Bertucci’s in Somerville, MA. Once we were married, if we ever went out to a restaurant (which was rare), it was usual to Bertucci’s or John Harvard’s. I think one of the reasons I love Bertucci’s so much is because of our personal history associated with it, but I still love going to that restaurant whenever we can because they do make some good food. Those dinner rolls and that margherita pizza…YUMMMMM.
One of those times early in our marriage when we went to Bertucci’s I ordered a tortellini dish that was served with sausage, mushrooms in a light cream tomato sauce. This was one of the very first restaurant copycat recipes I created at home and definitely one of the first things I cooked that gave me some confidence in the kitchen.
It’s been years since I’ve made what we call Bertucci’s Tortellini, but I threw it on the menu a few weeks ago and IT WAS SO GOOD. I made sure to write down measurements for you since the recipe I had posted on the site was pretty lame and directionless.
This is a nice and easy dinner to prepare that tastes wonderful. (I think I had thirds the other night.) The only thing missing from this recipe is Bertucci’s dinner rolls!
Tuesday, April 16
Spaghetti is definitely a go-to meal around here and my kids could eat it every day, much like myself as a kid. Once, when I was in 3rd grade, my dad and I found ourselves home alone for a week. We ate spaghetti every night. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. My dad was lucky I was a clueless 9-year-old.
While I am grateful to know that my kids will always eat spaghetti (it really is a good option on a busy night), I must admit that Nate and I are less enthusiastic about the dish. I don’t know, it’s just kinda boring. The razzle dazzle of spaghetti has finally worn off for me. Sorry, Dad! 😉
Last week, however, I decided to try to make spaghetti more interesting. The result was delicious! I used a recipe for spaghetti carbonara from Christina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love cookbook and it came out beautifully. The ingredients are simple, the taste is flavorful, and the sauce is creamy without using actual cream.
Nate and I both really liked this recipe. I actually loved it. The girls stuck with classic boring spaghetti that night, but I don’t think they even tried the carbonara, little stinkers. Owen, however, ate three servings and couldn’t get enough!Easy Spaghetti CarbonaraAdapted from Big Bowl of Love by Christina Ferrare (I changed a few of the ingredient amounts and also some of the technique based on my experience with the recipe)Author: Jane MaynardRecipe type: Main Dish, PastaIngredients
- 2 cups peas (original recipe calls for fresh, I used frozen)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces diced pancetta
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallot (or regular onion if you don’t have a shallot on hand)
- 8 ounces spaghetti or linguine (fresh is yummier, dried is fine)
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 1½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish
- If using fresh peas, remove the peas from their pods and set aside. For frozen, run warm water over the peas to separate them, drain, then set aside.
- In a cold, large, heavy pot, pour the olive oil and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the pancetta, cook over medium heat until pancetta is crisp. Remove pancetta and set aside. Add shallot to the pan and saute until crispy. Remove from heat, add pancetta back to the pot and set aside. I am lazy, so I cooked the pancetta then just added the shallot/onion to the pan without removing the pancetta. I added the shallot before the pancetta got crispy then cooked until the onions were softened. Once cooked, turn off heat and set pan aside.
- Cook pasta to package directions. Be sure to salt the water – 1 tablespoon salt per 3 quarts of water. Three minutes before pasta is ready, add peas. Drain pasta and peas, reserving 3 cups of the pasta water and set aside.
- The original recipe tells you to add the pasta to the large pot with the shallots and then mix in the sauce ingredients. I did it this way and found that the cheese was very clumpy. It tasted good, but I didn’t get a smooth sauce. So, I am modifying the directions. Return the pancetta/shallot pan back to the stove and turn the heat on to medium-high. Immediately add ½ cup pasta water, ½ cup milk and ½ cup parmesan cheese. Whisk well. Add remainder of the parmesan cheese and milk and keep whisking. If the sauce is too thick or gooey, add pasta water ¼ cup at a time until sauce is creamy. Reduce heat to low then stir in the peas and spaghetti.
- Serve topped with additional parmesan cheese and mint leaves if desired.
Tuesday, February 26
Growing up in New Jersey, I was surrounded by Italians. Literally surrounded. Three Catholic churches in our small town, 4 or 5 Italian restaurants in a 1/4-mile distance (keep in mind, there is just one traffic light downtown!) and last names like Pagnani and Martorana galore! Living around so many Italians meant lots of Italian food at community and school parties, specifically baked ziti. Baked ziti is to New Jersey as funeral potatoes are to Utah.
Needless to say, I ate some really delicious baked ziti growing up. Which makes it all the more disappointing that almost every time I’ve tried to make it, it just isn’t up to snuff. Well, I tried a recipe from my Real Simple | Best Recipes cookbook and I’ve finally found my winning ziti recipe! Woohoo! Move over, Italian mamas from New Jersey.
In case you are wondering, the recipe is also really easy to make. I wouldn’t have it any other way.Lasagna-Baked ZitiFrom Real Simple | Best Recipes with my notesAuthor: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 12 ounces ziti, cooked to package directions (for some reason my grocery store did not have ziti, so I used penne)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ⅓ onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped or pushed through garlic press
- ½ pound lean ground beef or italian sausage
- salt and pepper
- 1 26-ounce jar marinara sauce (I had a bunch of No-Cook Pizza Sauce left over and that made up the bulk of my sauce, with some leftover jarred sauce to make up the difference. The sauce was delicious!)
- 1 bunch or 1 small bag spinach, thick stems removed (about 4 cups)
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (I did more than 1 cup…probably about 1½ or so)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Drain cooked pasta and add it back to the pot.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Cook onion until soft and clear (4-5 minutes), then add garlic and cook about 1 minute more. Add the beef, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, breaking up the meat, until the meat is cooked through.
- Pour meat mixture into large pot of drained pasta. Add sauce, spinach, ricotta and ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese. Transfer to a 9×13 casserole dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Bake until ziti is hot all the way through and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.
Tuesday, October 23
I have two stories of Italians from New Jersey for you today, both of which culminate with a delicious, easy go-to recipe for you!
When I was in high school, a native-New Jersey Italian from church taught all the teenagers how to make tomato sauce. It was fast, it was easy, it was fresh-tasting and delicious. And when Mike was teaching us how to make that sauce, I’m sure he thought we weren’t paying attention. But I was and the technique stuck with me from then on. He just simply sauteed garlic and onion in olive oil, added some canned tomatoes and tomato paste, a few spices and that was it!
On to the second story of Italians from New Jersey. A few years later when I was in college, my friend Patti was talking to me one day about how her new roommate didn’t really know how to do anything, you know, like pay bills, do laundry, all that “adult” stuff. I’ll never forget the culminating comment, “She can’t even throw together a simple chicken parmesan!” Spoken like a true Italian from Jersey, no? Anyway, when she said that to me, I just nodded and said, “Yeah, that’s crazy!” but inside I was thinking,”Hmmmm, I wonder how you throw together a simple chicken parmesan?” Thanks to Patti, I figured it out and it became one of my classic go-to meals.
Which brings us to the promise of this post…an easy, go-to recipe! This chicken parmesan recipe is a great one to have up your sleeve. Essentially all you need is a couple of eggs, some bread crumbs, frozen chicken, pasta, a few basic spices, parmesan cheese and Hunt’s tomato paste and petite-diced canned tomatoes. Yes, I’m working with Hunt’s. And, yes, I actually do always have Hunt’s petite diced tomatoes in my cupboard, even before I started working with them. I love the petite diced tomatoes. They are perfect for making sauce and the FlashSteam process makes the tomatoes taste flavorful and fresh. You would never guess my sauce is made from canned tomatoes!
So, get your cupboards stocked up and “go to” this recipe next time you’re in a dinner bind!Chicken Parmesan, a Pantry Go-To ClassicFrom Jane Maynard, created after hearing Patti describe making chicken parm over the phone years agoAuthor: Jane MaynardRecipe type: Main DishIngredients
- 1 pound chicken tenders (if you use boneless, skinless breasts, be sure to pound them flat)
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs
- ½ cup fresh shredded parmesan
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- 2 eggs
- slices of fresh mozzarella
NotesNote: I usually start cooking the sauce before I start prepping the chicken, so it can simmer while I make the pasta and chicken.3.2.2807Homemade Tomato SauceFrom Jane Maynard, thanks to Mike’s inspiration even more years ago!Author: Jane MaynardRecipe type: Main DishIngredients
- Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
- Whisk the eggs in a soup/cereal bowl. In another cereal/soup bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, paprika, oregano and basil. Dip each raw chicken tender in the egg to coat, then place in bread crumbs and coat well. Place on lined cookie sheet.
- Cook for about 15 minutes, until they are JUST cooked through. Top with mozzarella cheese sliced and cook until cheese is melted, about 2-3 more minutes.
- 1 shallot or ½ onion, diced
- 3-5 fresh garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press
- 2 cans Hunt’s petite diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 – 2 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon kosher or coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots/onions. Cook until soft, a few minutes. Add garlic and saute for about a minute. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to the point where the sauce still simmers (usually medium-low). Simmer for 15-20 minutes. While the sauce is simmering, you can smash the sauce up a bit with a ricer or pastry blender, to break up some of the tomatoes. I like my sauce chunky, so I just do this a little bit.
- Serve chicken with tomato sauce and cooked pasta.
Tuesday, July 31
My mother-in-law Pat made a super yummy orzo salad for us on the Cape last week. It was simple and oh-so-tasty. A definite keeper of a recipe and perfect for summertime!
Pat said normally the feta is all mixed in, unlike what you see in the photo. But a certain brother-in-law of mine doesn’t like feta (what the what?!?!), so we sprinkled it on top so Cuyler could pick it out easily. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, Pat’s a good mother-in-law.
Happy Orzo salading!Orzo Salad YumminessAdapted by Pat Maynard from a recipe from Jean Harford of Gregg LakeAuthor: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 8 ounces orzo, cooked and drained well
- 1 small red pepper chopped
- shaved carrots
- parsley (and dill if desired)
- 2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 cup black beans or chick peas, rinsed and well drained
- 1 small can sweet corn, drained
- ground black pepper
- 8 – 10 sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped or sliced
- ¼ cup feta, crumbled
- ⅓-1/2 cup Greek salad dressing (Ken’s Steakhouse and Newman’s Own are great)
- Mix orzo with dressing once it has cooled a bit, breaking up any clumps. Refrigerate while you put together the other ingredients. Combine with orzo and refrigerate to combine flavors. Can adjust by taking away any of the above ingredients and adding others such as grape tomatoes, shrimp, cucumber,green onion or black olives.
Wednesday, July 18
As you know, I was looking for chicken marsala recipes a few weeks ago. It really is one of my favorite Italian dishes and, surprisingly, I’ve never tried making it from scratch. A few of you shared some delicious looking recipes – thank you!! I’m excited to try them!
For my first pass at chicken marsala, I used the Cook’s Illustrated recipe combined with a few of the recipes that you shared. The result was a delicious, solid recipe that I will definitely be making again…after trying out a few of the other recipes you shared, of course!
Without further ado…the recipe!Chicken Marsala #1Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and a few other recipesAuthor: Jane MaynardRecipe type: Main Dish, Poultry, PastaCuisine: ItalianIngredients
- 4 chicken breasts, cut into halves and pounded thin (some of thicker pieces I also cut horizontally to make them thinner from top to bottom, and then pounded them out)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- Olive oil or vegetable oil (~1/4 – ½ cup)
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced or pushed through a garlic press
- 1½ cups sweet Marsala wine
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into pieces
- fresh or dried parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place an oven-proof dish in a 200 degree oven.
- Mix flour, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Dip chicken pieces in flour to cover and shake of excess.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place a few chicken pieces in pan in one layer and cook until starting to brown, a few minutes. Flip and cook until lightly browned on side 2 and chicken is cooked through. Place in oven and repeat the process until all chicken is cooked, adding oil if needed between batches. You’ll want to reduce the heat of the pan to medium during or after the first batch.
- Add a bit more oil to the pan then saute mushrooms and onions until soft and mushrooms have released their water and the water has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic and, if you are using dried parsley, about 1 tsp parsley. Cook for about 1 minute.
- Remove pan from heat and add the marsala wine and broth, deglazing the pan, then return the pan to high heat. Bring to a boil and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in accumulated chicken juices and whisk in butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste and, if using fresh parsley, add 2 tablespoons parsley. Add chicken to pan and simmer on low heat for a few minutes.
Tuesday, April 3
When we lived in Boston, there was a small Italian restaurant in the North End that I loved to go to (no idea what it’s called, unfortunately). I often would order their penne in cream sauce with broccoli and chicken. It was simple and oh so delicious. I’ve been having a hankering for this dish, so I tried throwing it together myself this week.
The results were yummy. It’s still not like what I ate in the North End, but this is a delicious recipe nonetheless. Plus, the cream sauce is nice and neutral, so you can really take this dish wherever you want it to got…chicken, pancetta, your favorite veggie, mushrooms…go crazy! I personally really like the simplicity of steamed broccoli and grilled chicken.Simple Cream Sauce for PastaAuthor: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 1 cup white wine
- ~ 2 cups cream
- Half of a small onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press
- salt & pepper to taste
- tablespoon or so of oil
- fresh, shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
- Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, then add white wine and simmer until wine reduces to about about half. Add cream and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid scorching the bottom. Salt and pepper to taste. The sauce will remain pretty thin, which is fine for when you mix it with the pasta later. If you really feel like thickening it up, you could add a bit of flour, but I would resist doing this since the sauce will thicken as it cools on your plate.
- Mix with one package of cooked pasta of your choice and whatever toppings you desire. If you want it a little "saucier" don't use quite the whole package of pasta. I love this with steamed broccoli and grilled chicken breast mixed in. I also like to toss in a handful of fresh, shredded parmesan cheese at the end, stirred into the pasta.