Cold Noodles With Tomato-Peanut Sauce, Pork & Peppers

I was reading the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle - one of four newspapers we subscribe to - and came across a recipe for a cold noodle dish that sounded pretty good. As luck would have it, we had all the ingredients in the house, so I decided to give it a try.

Final result?!? Meh.

It wasn't bad... it just wasn't really good. It was a little too bland. It lacked a punch. Probably the most flavorful part of the dish was one of the chicken meatballs I made the other day.

I used heirloom tomatoes and ground pork. Perhaps a sausage would have helped, but the blandness was in the sauce. I think it needs a bit of help. Some chilis... some ginger... even some nice, salty soy sauce would help.

I really liked the concept, so methinks I'll be trying this one again.

Oh... and a POUND of noodles for 4 people?!? Waaaaaaaaaaaay too much. A standard serving is supposed to be 2 ounces. Even an overly-generous 3 ounces per person would be really filling!

Cold Noodles With Tomato-Peanut Sauce, Pork & Peppers

adapted from the San Francisco Chronicle

Serves 4

  • 1 pound fresh lo mein, udon or dried spaghetti noodles
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for tossing with noodles
  • Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
  • 1 pound ground pork or sausage
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ pound Jimmy Nardello, red bell or other sweet peppers, stemmed and chopped
  • 1¼ cups unsweetened roasted peanuts
  • ¾ pound Early Girl or Roma tomatoes, chopped (about 3 or 4 large)
  • 5 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar or lemon juice (or mix of both)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro and/or mint, plus more if desired

Instructions: Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions then drain and rinse under cold water, then shake off as much water as possible. Transfer the cool noodles to a large bowl and toss with enough olive oil to coat them. Season with salt and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmery, add the ground pork, using the back of a spoon or blunt wooden spoon to break the meat into bite-size pieces and crumbles. Cook, tossing and turning every few minutes, until cooked through and you have a mix of crispy browned and tender bits. Season with salt and pepper, then fold in the peppers and cook, tossing and turning until the peppers are softened and tender but still have a fresh pepper taste (taste a piece or two), about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small serving bowl and let cool before serving.

Place ¾ cup of the peanuts, tomatoes, vinegar or lemon juice, garlic, fish sauce and remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste, season with salt, pulse, taste again and season again if needed.

Pour the tomato-peanut sauce into the bowl with the noodles and toss very well to combine. The noodles should look fully coated and there should be some sauce pooling at the bottom of the bowl. If there isn’t, or if the sauce looks too thick, add a few splashes of water at a time, tossing in-between. Season with salt again and taste until it’s sufficiently saucy and delicious.

Chop the remaining ½ cup peanuts. Serve the noodles in bowls with the cooled pork and pepper mix spooned over the top with the chopped herbs and peanuts.





Sausage and Polenta

Sausage and Polenta

It's the unofficial start of summer weekend - and the weather is actually cooperating. This is usually the weekend where people spend a fortune for their house at the shore - only to have it rain the entire time.

It's looking pretty good, for once.

Being retired, of course, means every weekend is a 3-day weekend. No... make that a 7-day weekend. One must be accurate in these things!

Monday will probably mean something on the grill, but in the meantime, there's plenty on non-barbecue to still be had.

Tonight was sausage and lots of stuff from the produce bin over polenta. Really basic throw-together food. Another one of those be=never-to-be-replicated meals we do so well around here...

The basic was 2 links of sausage, cut into chunks and lightly fried. I took it out of the skillet and added chopped fennel, chopped leeks, chopped mini bell peppers, sliced red onion, minced garlic, and a couple of diced radishes. When they were about 75% done, I added the sausage back in along with a hefty splash of red wine. By the time the wine cooked down, the polenta was ready and dinner was served.

Sausage and Polenta


Sausage and Lentils

Sausage and Lentils

This has definitely become one of my most favorite go-to dinners.

Lentils have always been a favorite food, and paired with really good sausages... well... it doesn't get much better. The sausages, of course, come from Martin's at Reading Terminal Market. They really are the best.

I've written this one out a dozen times, but here it is, again...

Lentils and Fennel

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, cut into small dice
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar - or vinegar of your choice
  • S&P

Cook lentils until lentils are just tender.

While lentils simmer, cut fennel bulb into 1/4-inch dice.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet and add leek, carrot, fennel, garlic, and celery. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

When vegetables and lentils are cooked, stir lentils into vegetables and cook until heated through. Stir in vinegar. Add S&P, as desired.

It's quick and easy.

What's not being quick and easy is redoing this entire website.

The theme I was using was causing problems - you've obviously noted how slow it had become - so I'm working on redoing the entire thing.

The 2300+ blog posts will pretty much handle the changeover without a lot of individual attention - the older posts will not render as nicely as the last few years, but... as I get to them I can make them better. The 1500+ cookbook pages, on the other hand, are going to require a lot of individual handling.

Such is life.

It's been a lot of fun looking at the site and seeing how it has changed since I stared the official food blog in 2005.

Fourteen years of blog posts... and many more to come!


Sausage and Lentils

Sausage and Lentils

Lentils and fennel have become a definite go-to around here... I make up a batch, top it with whatever, and whatever is left over becomes a cold salad. It's a culinary win-win.

Tonight's version included the other half of the roasted butternut squash from last night's gnocchi. Recipes are meant to be played with - and stuff in the refrigerator is meant to be used.

Lentils and Fennel

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut into small dice
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 roasted butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • S&P

Cook lentils in broth until lentils are just tender.

While lentils simmer, cut fennel bulb into 1/4-inch dice.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet and add leek, carrot, fennel, and celery. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

When vegetables and lentils are cooked, stir lentils into vegetables and cook until heated through. Stir in vinegar. Add S&P, as desired.

Serve with chicken, sausage, whatever - or just on its own as a main dish or side.

I grilled a couple of broccoli rabe sausages - on our semi-refurbished grill.

It matters not that it is raining outside.





Toad in the Hole

Toad In The Hole

Over the years, I have seen a lot of references to a British dish called Toad in the Hole. Like Figgy Pudding or Spotted Dick - or any number of English recipes - the name belies the actual dish.

We've been watching a lot of BritBox and other British shows, lately, and after getting all of our sausages the other day, decided it was time to make a Toad in the Hole - the ultimate in non-Italian sausage dinner.

I found several recipes on and took the better parts of two to make the dish - one for the actual dish and another for the requisite onion gravy. One of the interesting factoids about the dish is it traces it's roots back to the 1700s. I decided to mess with 300 years of tradition and add peas to my batter. Stick with tradition. Don't do as I did. It won't puff and rise as it should.

But the dish itself was pretty good!

Toad in the Hole

For the toad in the hole

  • 1 large cup plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup free-range eggs
  • 1 tbsp malt vinegar
  • 125g/4oz beef dripping (you can substitute with vegetable oil)
  • 6 just cooked top quality sausage

For the gravy:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 150ml/5fl oz dark ale or beer
  • 250ml/9fl oz beef stock
  • 50g/2oz cold butter, cut into cubes

To make the toad in the hole:

Whisk together the eggs, flour, milk, malt vinegar, and salt, beating out any little lumps of flour. The consistency should be about that of ordinary double cream, but no thinner. Rest for 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F.

Put the dripping or lard in a roasting tin and leave it in the oven until it is smoking.

Pour in the batter - it will sizzle softly in the hot fat - then arrange the sausages in the batter.

Transfer the tin back into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until puffed and golden. Serve with onion gravy.

To make the gravyL

Whisk together the eggs, flour, milk, mustard and seasoning, beating out any little lumps of flour. The consistency should be about that of ordinary double cream, but no thinner. Rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

Carefully remove the skin from each of the sausages. Wrap each piece of skinned sausage meat in a piece of cured ham.

Put the dripping or lard in a roasting tin and leave it in the oven until it is smoking.

Pour in the batter - it will sizzle softly in the hot fat - then arrange the sausages in the batter.

Transfer the tin back into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until puffed and golden. Serve with brown onion and madeira grany.

To make the gravy:

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onions until soft.

Add the sugar and tomato purée and cook for five minutes.

Add the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ale and stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 25 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the butter a little at a time, whisking to combine to make a glossy sauce.

Remove the toad in the holes from the oven and divide onto plates. Pour over a generous amount of gravy and serve.

Adding the peas to the batter kept it from rising to its full potential - but... It still worked. I think the batter could use any number of different flavorings - different herbs and spices to compliment different types of sausages - but the onion gravy is a must! It made the dish.

For a first time, it wasn't bad, at all, and it's given me some ideas for the future.


Sausage and Squash

The End Of Week Thirty-One

The weight-loss results weren't what I was hoping for, but considering I had a pretty food-centric week, only gaining a pound is pretty good. It's just reinforcing the simple fact that portion control is really important and even though nuts may be healthy, eating half a bag of cashews is not.

Victor caught a head cold that really knocked his socks off so he missed the gym for five days. I caught a tapeworm on Tuesday and ate more than a couple of these disgusting madeileines I buy for his mom and then ate cashews like they were the last food on the planet, watching bad TV while Victor slept.

On a positive note, though, our trainer was really pleased with our weight progress, today.

We move on...

Victor made a huge batch of sauce yesterday, and while we didn't eat it last night, we did have spaghetti, so tonight, it was about having some of the sauce and sausages - without the pasta. I'm trying to regain the balance.

We had a nice, big, butternut squash, so I cut it up and roasted off a bit of it. The rest went into the 'fridge. I'll figure out something to do with it this weekend.

Into the skillet went a bit of onion, bell pepper, carrot, and fennel. I sautéed it until the veggies were cooked fairly well, and then added 2 cloves of minced garlic and a bit of salt & pepper. When the garlic started cooking, I added some wine and let it cook down a bit. Then went in the sausages and sauce, and the butternut squash.

It got all nice and hot and onto the plate it went. A bit of freshly-grated pecorino on top, and we had a great dinner.

And now on to Week Thirty-Two!




Chicken and Chorizo with Pasta

Wednesday Macaroni

I was reading through my twitter feed, today, and came across a really great article by Ellie Slee entitled The Joy of Cooking Without Pictures. The tagline that made me click the article was "Here I am writing about how Instagram ruined cooking for me and weird old cookbooks with no pictures helped me get my kitchen groove back."  I immediately got what she was talking about.

I see food pictures that are so flippin' perfect that no human could have possibly made them - or, at least not in my house. I get perfect picture-taking. I get the art of photography. What I don't get is the picture taking precedence over the product.

Back in my hotel opening days, we'd always have photographers coming in taking pictures for brochures and ads and the like. They were always perfect people in perfectly-fitting clothes and perfect smiles sitting at perfectly-set tables with perfect drinks and plates in front of them. Okay. The hotel is selling illusion, it's selling style, in some cases, it's even selling dreams. I get that. But what always set me off was when it came to photographing plates and tray set-ups for the cooks and Room Service staff. These were supposed to be tools for the staff - to make sure the trays went up properly with the right items, condiments, and the like. I would set the trays up and then the photographer would come over and completely rearrange things, add stuff, take away stuff - all to take a lovely staged picture. It could really be a battle constantly asking them to take the picture I had set up - and to stop trying to make it the cover photo of Gourmet Magazine.

As Ms Slee explains in her article, cook book photos and other food photos can really be intimidating for a home cook. They're setting up a level of perfection that often can't be achieved, causing unmet expectations and feelings of inadequacy. It can flat-out want to make a person stop cooking.

Or, as in the case of Ms Slee, it can change how you cook and change your expectations. Cooking without pictures. Opening up a copy of Joy of Cooking - and just following the recipe can be totally liberating. There is no preconceived notion of what a recipe has to look like. You get to make it and allow it to come out however it does.

I get wanting to take good pictures. I do it numerous times a week - and sometimes the pictures are stellar and other times, not so stellar. I think the difference with us, though, is the pictures aren't staged. It's a snapshot - usually on the kitchen island - of what we're  having for dinner. Sometimes I'm a bit sloppy in the dishing-up, sometimes there's a bit of smudge on the rim of the plate. It's Wednesday dinner at our house, not a Michelin 5 Star property.

The whole idea of this blog is to share food ideas. Yes, there are pictures, and often even recipes. More often than not, though, it's a picture with a description of what I did - not a step-by-step with measured ingredients and chiseled-in-stone time frames. I don't cook that way. I read recipes and then figure out what I'm going to do with it - which is rarely following it to the letter.

I think cooking is supposed to be fun, impromptu. I don't think it's supposed to be a chore, and I really don't think it's supposed to be an ordeal trying to make something look or taste like what someone else did. It should be about you.

And right now, it's about me and what I did for dinner, tonight.

I picked up a bag of pasta at Trader Joe's over the holidays and it's been sitting in the cupboard ever since. Tonight, it became dinner. I had a chicken breast and a single fresh chorizo sausage to start.

I diced the chicken and crumbled the sausage. into the skillet they went. When they were mostly cooked, i took them out and into the skillet went a diced fennel bulb, a small diced onion, and a minced clove of garlic.

Into the pan went some smoked paprika, a bit of cumin, and some S&P.

I added the meat back in and then added about a cup of red wine. Then, because I thought it needed something else, some olive tapenade that was in the 'fridge and a bit of cayenne to jack up the heat - the chorizo wasn't quite as spicy as I had hoped.

I brought it all to a simmer and let it cook while I boiled the pasta.

The drained pasta went into the pan along with a bit of grated cheese, and dinner was served - with a picture to prove it!

Read the article - link above - and then get into the kitchen and cook something.



Sausage and Rigatoni

Sausage and Rigatoni

It is so good to have sausages back in the freezer. Alas, the freezer is extremely F-U-L-L right now. I've mentioned before that we do not have another freezer downstairs because I would simply fill it up. We just don't need to have that much stuff in the house. We actually don't need all the stuff we do have - although I do like having options for cooking dinner... Right now, we have lots of options.

Options are good. It keeps me from getting into a total rut when it comes to cooking. That, and my subscription to the New York Times. I really do like having something to keep my mind fresh. Back in my actual cooking, menu, and recipe development days, I was a lot more creative - it's what I was being paid to do and how my mind was wired. Not so, today. I mean, I can still walk into the kitchen and cook dinner without thinking about it, but it's a lot easier to get the creative juices flowing when there are 14000 recipes at your disposal.

I'm lazy and spoiled.

Tonight's dinner was what I had planned for last night - except I had planned to use orecchiette. There was no orecchiette in the cupboard, but there was exactly the amount of mini rigatoni that I needed. Dinner was saved.

At any given moment there are close to a dozen different pastas in the cupboard - not counting egg noodles, Chinese noodles, rice noodles, and all those other non-Italian-type things. And I have several more arriving from Eataly any day now... I've actually had to move some things downstairs - the exact reason we don't have a freezer down there. At least with the grocery items right at the bottom of the stairs, I can see at a glance what we have.

Dinner was quick and easy - and helped finish off the old produce to make room for the new.

Sausage and Rigatoni

  • 2 hot Italian sausages
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 oz brandy
  • 6 oz arugula
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • cooked pasta of your choice
  • grated parmesan cheese, if desired

Grill sausages about 3/4 cooked. Set aside.

Sauté fennel and leek in a bit of olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes, or so.

Add wine and a splash of brandy. Reduce by about a third.

Stir in arugula.

Slice sausages and add to pan, heating them through.

Add cooked pasta and a bit of pasta cooking water, if needed. Add grated cheese, if using. Mix everything well.

Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as desired.

Really simple, lots of flavor, and ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. I grilled the sausages and then sliced them into thick hunks. You could cook them in the skillet but I really do like them on the grill. And cooking them about 3/4 the way through before making the pasta dish makes for a fully cooked - but not overcooked - sausage.





Mushroom Ravioli

Mushroom Ravioli

The Bayshore Diner was the full-service restaurant in the Westin San Francisco Airport when I opened the hotel in 1988. It was a '50s-themed diner with black and white checked floors, Wurlitzer Jukebox, and hostesses in poodle skirts and roller skates.

The waitresses were all in old-style diner uniforms, and the food reflected the era - burgers and shakes, hot dogs, and meatloaf with mashed potatoes. It was a lot of fun creating the meatloaf recipe. Our Executive Chef was from Germany and every meatloaf he made looked like a pâté. We finally had to take control and show him what an American meatloaf looked and tasted like. I think he was horrified.

Westin was still owned by United Airlines when I started with them. I was there for the end of the glory days. They've gone through several owners since those fun days, and - like almost every other hotel chain - are now owned by Marriott.

I acquired a case of the Bayshore Diner plates when I was transferred to open the Westin Indianapolis. That was also in 1988. I had 12 - I'm down to 5. After Indianapolis, I was supposed to head off to Disney World and open The Swan - since I didn't get my transfer to Shanghai that I had already started the State Department application for.

Indianapolis was my hotel swan song, however. I ended up walking out, never to work in a hotel, again. In fact, I have kept a key-ring from the Westin Indianapolis since that fateful day in 1989 when I left to remind me just how horrible the hotel business really is. Westin Key Chain

Today, I can laugh at it. I'm retired. I don't have to do a damned thing! But there were times when I thought I wanted to get back into it - and a quick reality-check was all it took to keep me away.

I don't have a lot of hotel souvenirs - a rocks glass from the Hyatt Lake Tahoe, a couple of ashtrays, and a score of name tags - plus several plaques and going-away pictures and the like that just collect dust downstairs in the basement. They're not going to make the move back west. I'm having way too much fun in the present to keep hauling around my past.

That being said, my Trader Joe's hand-made apron that Barb made will always be with me!

Trader Joe's apron

It's awesome!

To think this all started with a plate! Enough waxing nostalgia... Dinner!

My impulse buy at the grocery store today was a package of portobello mushroom raviolis. I had taken the last Martin's sausage link out of the freezer this morning without a plan - and the ravioli became the plan. Along with a package of assorted mushrooms and an onion, dinner was served!

And it really was that easy! I sautéed the sausage, onions, and mushrooms in a drizzle of olive oil, and when they looked good, I added a bit of minced garlic. Then I added some white wine and let it cook down.

Once it was pretty much evaporated, I added 2 cups of chicken stock and let it reduce by half. A bit of salt & pepper and a bit of freshly-grated parmesan cheese, and the sauce was done.

I cooked the ravioli, added them to the sauce to soak up a bit of the liquid, and dinner was served!

All of those ravioli were only 270 calories, the sausage another 140. Mushrooms are almost negligible.

If you pay the slightest bit of attention, you can still eat fun food and lose a bit of weight!





Fava Beans and Eggplant

I made a bean salad the other day with dried beans I had picked up down at Reading Terminal Market. Real simple  - soak beans overnight, cook, drain, make stuff. I also had some dried fava beans that were a gift, so I decided to soak those as well - and make something with them.

Fava Beans - or broad beans as they were once known - have what amounts to two shells - the outer pod that holds x-amount of beans - and a covering over each bean. The covering is edible. It's just not very good. It's tough and totally detracts from the silky bean within. With fresh beans, it's rather easy to just pop the bean out of the covering. With dried favas, it's not. They have to be soaked and then cooked - and then the second covering comes off - making for a mushy bean.

I made my bean salad with the good beans and set the fava-mush aside.

Today, I decided that I would make a refried bean of sorts - and then I looked over to the three eggplants in the basket. An idea came to mind - a roasted eggplant and fava bean refried bean of sorts!

I took a medium eggplant and put it whole on the grill outside and let it cook for about 45 minutes. I let it cool, put all of the innards into the food processor along with the fava-mush and gave it a whirl. Next, I added some olive tapenade, roasted garlic, fresh herbs form the garden, Grains of Paradise, salt and pepper, and processed it until smooth. It then went into a skillet to heat through and thicken just a bit.

In another skillet, I added some cut up sausage - one roasted red pepper and one broccoli rabe and provolone - and then added escarole, garlic, red pepper flakes, and some S&P. I cooked it all down and added a splash of white wine.

The eggplant and favas had a bit of a muddy color, but the flavor was outstanding! It was rich and creamy without being rich and creamy - lots of fiber and protein and potassium.

It came out really good!

Sausages and Artichokes

I am pretty certain my 23 and Me Ancestry is wrong. I'm Sicilian - pale, peeling, cancer-prone skin be damned. I mean... how else can you explain my gravitation to - hell, it's almost an obsession - with Sicily and Sicilian food? The only thing I don't do is watch The Godfather like it's home movies.

Tonight's dinner comes from another of my favorite Sicilians, Nick Stellino. We watch his show on PBS and laugh all the way through it. The guy is a showman, for sure. And a good cook. He's another person who takes a few simple ingredients and makes them sing - and that's usually how he is describing things.

It's my most favorite way of cooking. It's amazing that the cooking of my youth was moremoremore and how many more flavors can I get into this dish?!? In my dotage, I now appreciate letting ingredients speak for themselves.

And this dish speaks volumes! Nick served this as a side dish - with larger chunks of artichoke. I thought it would make for a great pasta dinner.

I used Martin's sausage made with white wine, garlic, and lemon. The flavors blended perfectly with the dish! Available at Reading Terminal Market.

I've copied the recipe here, because this is one of the free recipes on his website.

Braised Sausage with Artichokes

adapted from Nick Stellino


  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced thick
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 6 large artichoke hearts, cleaned and cut into one inch pieces - fresh, preferred, but canned or frozen will work
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon, zested in really thin long strips
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1½ pounds sweet Italian sausage, each link cut in half
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1½ cup chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • Freshly grated Pepatto Cheese
  • 1 pound pasta, cooked and drained


Time your cooking so you have pasta cooked and drained as the dish is finished.

In a large sauté pan set on medium heat, heat the oil until hot. Add the sausages and cook for three minutes browning them on each side. Take the sausages out of the pan.

Reduce the heat under the pan to medium low add the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes and cook until the onion is soft, about three minutes. Add the artichoke hearts, red pepper flakes, parsley and lemon zest then toss until well coated and cook for two to three minutes.

Increase the heat to high and add the browned sausages and cook for two minutes, stirring well. Now add the wine and cook until it has reduced by a third.

Add the chicken stock and bring it all to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 35-40 minutes until the sausages and artichoke hearts have cooked through.

Turn off the heat and add the softened butter stirring well until it has melted into the sauce.

Mix the sausages and artichoke hearts with the cooked pasta and place into a large serving dish. Top with lots of fresh cheese.

Buon appetito!

Things that stand out about the dish... The lemon zest... Every now and again you get a pop of fresh lemon. It's really mellow and not at all tart - just lemony. I don't own a real lemon zester so I just peel with a veg peeler and cut into really thin strips. A real wow.

Another thing is the garlic. Again, noticeable every few bites or so, but sweet and mellow. The butter at the end adds a silky richness - don't leave it out!

All-in-all, a very successful dinner.

Now to go see what else Nick has up his sleeve.....





Sausage and Escarole

I had no idea when I walked into the kitchen what I was going to make for dinner.

I had gone grocery shopping this morning and knew what we had in the larder... It was really more a matter of how I was going to throw a few things together. I zeroed in on the sausage - fresh onion and apple pork - and then the escarole. A huge head that's going to take many meals to consume. I figured Nonna won't eat the escarole, so I pulled out some small shell pasta and then a can of cannellini beans. She won't do beans, either... I figured I could start the sauce and then pulls some out for her and finish it off with all the goodies we like.

My new ingredient, today, was a bottle of Passata. Passata is a tomato puree of sorts, made with uncooked crushed and strained tomatoes...

no skins or seeds that you don't need...
Acapulco Gold is bad ass...

Oh, wait... where was I?!?

Back to Passata... I have seen it in recipes, lately, and thought I'd see what the hype was all about. So far, I like it. It tasted like ::drum roll:: tomatoes. The Wegman's Passata is organic, made in Italy, and, at $2.99 for a 24oz jar, is a mere 20¢ more than three cans of their 8oz sauce - without the added salt and herbs and such. And... It's in a glass bottle with a resealable top. As handy as the little tube of tomato paste...

It tastes like tomatoes.

I'm thinking that we could put up a few dozen bottles of this this summer from our garden bounty. I did a fresh chunked tomato sauce last year... I could break out the food mill... It's really easy to sit back in February and think of all the things you're going to do in August...

On the other hand... I will be retired...

Tonight's dinner...

I cooked up leeks and sausage and added about a cup of passata.  A bit of salt & pepper. I pulled some out for Nonna and then added cannellini beans, a bit of crushed red pepper, some chopped  escarole, and cooked little shell pasta. Parmesan cheese on top. Nonna just got the pasta in her sauce.

I heated everything through and called it dinner.

Naturally, I had more than enough, so Victor packed the leftovers up for lunch, tomorrow.

Life is good!