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October 2009
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Pork Ragu with Penne

October 29, 2009   

Pork Ragu with Penne My all time favorite dish- okay one of them at least- is boar ragu I have at Arturos in Maplewood. It is simply the most delicious boar ragu I have had. Before going to Umbria last month, I was very excited about eating lots of boar- since that region is famous for it. We did have some boar salami and pasta dishes. They were all delicious but something about the one Dan serves in Arturos. It is consistently good and perfectly spiced. It a mixture of boar and mushrooms cooked in a bit of cream and herbs- perfect in my book.

While my cousins were visiting from Austin, I decided to replicate the dish- in my way. I used pork instead of boar and added pancetta to the mix. I simmered the meat in beef broth. I used a bit of half and half and finished the dish with some black truffle paste. All in all, it was a delicious dish- not the same as Dan’s but still good. We all ate it with a lovely red bottle of wine we brought back from Umbria- it was perfect.

I even served the pasta the next day to Sia and her friend- they ate it up in no time! Definitely give this one a try- you will love it too.

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup pancetta, chopped
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • ½ cup half and half
  • Salt
  • ½ pound penne, al dente- ½ cup spare pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons truffle paste or 1 tablespoon truffle oil

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the pancetta and sauté for 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Add the carrots, onions and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add the pork and separate with the back of a wooden spatula while sautéing the meat on medium high heat about 2-3 minutes. Add the beef broth and cook on medium low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, till a thick sauce is formed. Add salt and half and half. Add the truffle paste or oil. Mix well and add the cooked pasta and pasta water. Check for seasonings and serve.

Apple Gelato-A Healthy Treat

October 28, 2009   

Apple Gelato So, this is one of the things I did with the fabulous apples sauce I made the other day. I am amazed at the versatility of this apple sauce- as I write this I am preparing a pork loin dinner with a savory apple sauce (recipe will be posted soon) and potatoes.

I loved all the gelati I made in the past based on the corn starch ice cream recipe by Mark Bittman. I loved the idea of making healthy gelato. I have made chocolate cinnamon, pistachio cardamom and walnut saffron gelati in the past (amongst others). All of them have come out delicious. 

As we approach this delicious fall season- my favorite time of year, I have been making treats with pumpkin and apples. So while I had these ingredients in my head- gelato came to mind… I thought I could make apple gelato, especially once the apple sauce was made. I thought I would make vanilla gelato and once the frozen treat was done churning, I would mix the homemade apple sauce to it.

That is what I did and it turned out very delicious! The gelato part is sweet with an amazing taste of the vanilla bean I used. The apples bits are sweet and tangy at the same time and complement the vanilla really well. It would actually be yummy on top of a slice of pumpkin pie. I love the apple and pumpkin flavors together- I am definitely going to experiment with the two some more…

  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • ½ cup evaporated cane juice (sugar)
  • ½ vanilla bean, split in half
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk to mix in the cornstarch

Ice cream maker

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, sugar and the vanilla bean on medium heat. Once bubbles begin to form on the edges, add the cornstarch mixed in with 2 tablespoons milk. Cook till the mixture begins to thicken, about 2-3 minutes and forms a custard consistency. Remove from the heat. Strain and refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours.
Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers instructions. Take out in a bowl and mix the apple sauce. Freeze the gelato for at least an hour once it is done.

Homemade Baked Apple Sauce

October 27, 2009   

Homemade ApplesauceThis is first time I have ever made apple sauce. I never understood why someone would make iy- what is the point? You either eat them raw or use them in a dessert or maybe even cook them on the side with pork or duck.

Then I started writing this blog and apple season came along. Well, I had to come up with a few apple recipes- and I did.. I made the apple cranberry bread, which by the way is delicious. I was thinking what else to make when an apple ice cream came to mind. I was of course going to make my healthy gelato- but what else should I was I going to add to it??

That is when apple sauce came to mind. I looked for different recipes and that is when I came across Ina Garten’s apple sauce recipe-  I just love her recipes- don’t you want to invited to her house for a fabulous meal?

I adapted her recipe and came up with this. After the big saucepan came out of the oven and I tasted the results- I understood why people make their own apple sauce. It was absolutely delicious! Fresh, yummy and just the right sweetness and tartness. The wheels were turning in my head- all the things I can do with this- dessert topping, with a pork loin, on top of pancakes- sky is the limit… I can’t wait…

Try this recipe- it’s really good. I will be testing the apple sauce gelato tomorrow and posting the recipe soon- stay tuned.
read more …

Sauteed Okra with Onions

October 26, 2009   

Bhindi
This okra dish is very popular in Indian restaurants. It’s one of my favorite vegetables to eat but only when cooked Indian style. Okra has a very slimy wet texture if it is frozen or any water is introduced to the dish. Now I remember okra as a summer vegetable. This was back when we used to eat according to what was in season. Things have changed and I can get okra year round. Usually, this dish is made out of fresh okra and sauteed for a long time till the wet texture is cooked away. I have used frozen okra in this recipe since it is cheaper and easier to find. My Mom informed me of a way to get the slimy texture out of the frozen vegetable. I cooked it in the microwave for three minutes and that did the trick! Adjust time according to the intensity of your microwave, of course! The dish is finished with ‘aamchoor’ (dry mango powder) to give it a soft tart taste. I added fresh lemon juice instead. It works quite well. This is for those of you who want to incorporate more vegetables into your repertoire. This can be a side dish with fish, chicken or even a roast. Enjoy!

  • 10 ounces frozen chopped okra, thawed or fresh if you can find it
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 serrano chilies, cut and split in half
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1 teaspoon aamchoor

Line a large plate with a sheet of paper towel. Place the okra in one layer and microwave for 3 minutes. The reason for this step is to remove the wet slimy texture frozen okra has.
In a cast iron or non-stick frying pan heat the olive oil. Add the onions, serrano chilies and sauté over high heat. Add the okra. Stir constantly careful not to burn but brown evenly. Once the okra and the onions are dark brown and well sautéed, add the salt, turmeric, garam masala and cayenne pepper. Take off heat and add the lemon juice. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Brown Lentils with Fennel Seeds

October 25, 2009   

Brown Lentils with Fennel Seeds I love making lentils. At the Indian stores, there are at least 20 different kinds of lentils lined up on the wall. It can be quite confusing and overwhelming trying to choose which ones to take home. I have about 5 or 6 that I make constantly. 

These brown lentils are one of my favorites. I am always looking to cook them in a different way to change it up a bit. I like making them as they are particularly creamy and delicious. They cook fairly quick and are a perfect weeknight meal.

I made this dish with fennel seeds. I added them at the very end to give the dish a very fresh and delicate flavor. The half and half made the lentils even more creamy- really delicious!

My daughter loves all sorts of lentils and eats them happily with rice. I usually make rice with peas and serve it with the lentils- it is a complete meal. Whenever I am confused about what to make or don’t have much time, I go into my pantry and look at the lentil shelf. It is great to be able to make something at a moments notice without having to go to a grocery store.

This dish was delicious, creamy and very aromatic. We had it with rice and a big bowl of raita!
read more …

Raspberry Gelato

October 22, 2009   

Raspberry Gelato Okay, this is another really easy, healthy and a yummy treat to make. I love coming up with such desserts- I don’t mind how often Sia eats it. I love having healthy breads and such desserts in the freezer. My daughter has a big sweet tooth- gee, I wonder where she got that trait from? 

Since my daughter is always looking for something sweet after a meal, I feel compelled to come up with healthy things for her to eat. She loves ice cream- and prefers to eat it outside. I made this at home and gave her a bite and her eyes lit up! I can’t say that she only eats ice cream at home now but it’s a good start. She loves raspberries and it has just enough sugar for her to think this is a real treat. 

Fresh raspberries are still available in the stores and farms right now, so it’s a great time to make this easy dessert. It’s delicious with a drizzle of chocolate sauce or just by itself. As the weather changes, frozen raspberries can be substituted- although the fresh ones give the gelato a more intense flavor. Strawberries or even apples can be used. Speaking of apples- I think I will try a gelato for the holidays. Maybe one with cinnamon and nutmeg- like an apple pie! I will keep you all posted…
read more …

Apple Cranberry Bread with Orange Zest

October 20, 2009   

Apple Cranberry Bread with Orange Zest It’s apple season. They are all over the place. We all love apples in our family and usually just eat them raw. I never really cook with them or make apple sauce- well maybe some apple pie- once in a while.

This year since I am doing this blog I felt I should come up with a cake or a bread recipe that will can use any kind  of apples. 

While I was mulling it over in my mind, my neighbor dropped off a bunch of apples from a farm they visited over the weekend. I felt even more pressure to come up with a recipe. I finally got time to work on it after a week or so..

While I was looking online for ideas, I came across many apple cakes with a sweet crumble topping. They were all good but I wanted to make something different. I then came across a cranberry apple bread. It reminded me of a cranberry orange bread I used to buy a few years ago. I decided to combine all the flavors and came up with this bread.

I made it on Friday right before my cousins were coming over for the weekend. Well, it was gone on Sunday! Everyone loved it including my daughter. The texture was soft due to the grated apples. The cranberries and orange zest are a match made in heaven- absolutely delicious. The nuttiness from the whole wheat flour came through loud and clear and complemented the apple flavor really well.

The bread has very little sugar and only half a cup of extra light olive oil- so very healthy. Overall, I am thrilled with this recipe, especially because any kind of apples can be used. So, please try this one- it is truly delicious!

  • 1½ cups white whole-wheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup extra light olive oil
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups grated apples
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange zest

Heat oven at 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan and keep aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Keep aside. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add one egg at a time mixing in between. Add the grated apples, cranberries and orange zest and mix well. With a rubber spatula mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
Transfer the batter into the loaf pan and bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool the bread in the pan for 5 minutes before taking it out. Cool completely before serving.