Italian Genovese Sauce: Time to Get Cozy

“Sometimes, the best meal requires you to forget that time exists”

–Elizabeth Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

                                                                                                       

Cooking is all about time. When to throw in the pasta, when to take out the casserole, how to make a dinner for a family of six in forty-five minutes. But what happens when there is no limit on time? When you have all day to make a meal, as if time doesn’t exist.
Neapolitan Genovese Sauce via The Road Home

 

For Neapolitans and their immigrant descendants, what happens is Genoaise. Or, for those not familiar with Neapolitan dialect, sauce Genovese. Genovese is a mysterious sauce, steeped in time and history. No one can agree on the origins of a dish named after Genoa but created in Naples. Perhaps it’s the mystery of the dish that makes it so alluring. For me, it’s the magic of leaving onions, pork, and stock to simmer and discovering three hours later that something new and comforting has taken its place.

 

Neapolitan Genovese Sauce via The Road Home

 

There are dozens of variations of Genovese sauce (mine clearly being the best!) but all Neapolitans agree on one thing: that Genovese sauce is not meant for Spring and Summer. It is not a dish that you serve to friends at a picnic or for a buffet. Genoaise is Fall and Winter. Fall for when you need a dish to slow you down and bring the colors of the leaves outside your window to life. Winter for when you need a warm, long hug after a day of snow shoveling and driving on half-plowed roads. Genovese nudges you to discover coziness and revel in it as if nothing else existed.

 

Neapolitan Genovese Sauce via The Road Home

 

So, I will leave you to try this sauce for yourself, with a reminder to take things slow every once in a while and let the simplicity of fresh pasta, grated cheese, and cooked down onions heal you.

Neapolitan Genovese Sauce via The Road Home

Genovese Sauce

From: Christina Esposito

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 – 2 pounds boneless pork loin roast
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, sliced 1/8” thin (about 6 small – medium sized onions)
  • 4 – 4.5 cups of beef stock or broth (enough to cover the meat and onions)
  • Splash of tomato sauce (1/8 cup) – Optional
  • Pecorino Romano grated cheese
  • 1 pound fresh pasta (fettuccine)

Directions:

  1. Sear the meat (you can use either beef or pork, but I’m partial to pork because it tenderizes so beautifully with this sauce). Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a medium sized sauce pot and jack the heat up to medium high. While the oil is warming, salt and pepper the meat. Then, when the oil is shimmering, like seeing heat in the desert, add the meat. This should make a loud noise, but that’s good- it’s the noise of juices being sealed into the meat. Remember to rotate the meat around to get all the sides nicely browned. The goal is to brown the meat, not fully cook it.
  2. When the meat is seared, add ¼ cup of the beef stock to scrape up all the bits of meat and ‘brown stuff’ from the bottom of the pan. This brown stuff is ‘fond’, the meat drippings that will melt into your sauce and make it go from good to great.
  3. Add the garlic. Let it cook for just a minute so it releases its scent.
  4. Add the onions and rest of the beef stock (so that the onions and meat are just covered with stock). Throw in a dash of tomato sauce too if you have it and simmer away! Let the sauce simmer for as many hours as you have to give, stirring it every now and again. If the stock evaporates and sinks way below the onion level add some more. Don’t forget to season and remember that the stock may already be salty.
  5. When the onions and meat are beyond tender, it’s time to puree the sauce (at least two to three hours later). Take the meat out and set aside. Then, with either an immersion blender, food processor, or regular blender, puree the onions and broth together.
  6. Mix sauce with the fresh pasta and serve with the cut meat on the side. Sprinkle liberally with Pecorino Romano. Sigh with happiness.

In The Fridge: Cooking Corn at Midnight

If ever there was a day to write an “in the fridge” post, it was last week. We came home a day early from New Orleans in the wake of  “Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Turned-out-to be-Barely-Cloudy-in-New Orleans Karen (it was petering out to sea as we were boarding the plane, only we were delayed because of ‘high winds’ at Newark international. Do I need to point out the irony? Oy).

 

CornCastIronSkillet

 

I’m always fearful when I open the door to our house after a trip. Something a little scary always happens when we’re gone, only this time I was hardly worried since my parents were house sitting for all but the last day. I walked in and there was this vague scent of musty vegetables. I put a deliriously tired Francesca to bed and then went to investigate. It took me a good long while to realize the freezer wasn’t completely closed from ice build-up, which happens from time to time. Everything was still vaguely cool, but definitely not frozen.  Most things had to be thrown away, but there was a lot of corn that was still cold. Fortunately, I remembered a recipe I taught once for a farmers market class – Lime Ancho Corn Soup  – which I once modified during a class for a student who didn’t eat any dairy.

 

limezestancho2

 

I took out my cast iron skillet, turned up the flame, and voila re-created this great, fast, and easy side dish that combines blackened corn with lime and ancho chile powder. This dish can also be converted into a salad by chilling the corn and adding red onions, tomatoes and avocadoes as well.

 

 

corncastiron

 

 

I was feeling very jet lagged and very bummed to be cooking at midnight, but of course very happy the next day to have the corn with roasted capon. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for a refrigerator mishap to make this dish. Enjoy!

 

 

cornsaladplate2

 

 

Question of the Day: Have you ever turned around a refrigerator disaster like this? What did you do? We want to know!

 

 

Burnt Corn with Lime and Ancho Chile Spice

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 pounds (about 4 ½ cups,) frozen or fresh organic corn*
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 limes
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ancho or chipotle chili powder divided
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 medium red onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 avocados diced (optional)
  • 2 tomatoes coarsely chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat canola oil in a non-stick pan, preferably cast iron.
  2. Add corn. Mix well to assure all the kernels are coated with oil.
  3. Add the salt, stir and cook on medium high for 10 minutes, or until the kernels start to brown and even burn in some places. (It will smell vaguely of popcorn and may even pop a kernel or two, so be careful!)
  4. Zest both limes (you should have 2 teaspoons of zest)
  5. Add the zest and the juice of one lime to the skillet. Mix well and then add the ancho powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir well and serve. You may also serve the corn as a light and healthy salad by letting the corn cool for at least an hour in the refrigerator and adding red onions, avocado and tomatoes. Sprinkle the juice of the second lime over the salad, mix well and serve.

Maftoul – The Cooking Tool!

During my time in Morocco, I lived with a mother and daughter who cooked as well as they broke out  in song while cooking. One of their favorite ingredients to prepare was what we know as couscous in its numerous forms; on Friday afternoons, we had our communal tajine of couscous, and occasionally, we started lunch with a small dish of Palestinian maftoul. One of the best feelings in the world is running your fingers through a bag of maftoul fresh from the marketplace on a sunny Saturday afternoon – mostly because it is not as small as couscous to get stuck between your fingernails!

 

Maftoul – Israeli Couscous Moroccan Style with Chicken, Tomatoes, Saffron and Lemon | Soyeon Kim for The Road Home

 

So what on Earth is maftoul? Maftoul originated from the Palestine/Israel area as hand-rolled bulgur wheat the size of uneven peas. You most likely know the close sister of maftoul: the pearl Israeli couscous, or ptitim in Hebrew. Maftoul is rarely mass produced and almost always handmade, thus only available in Middle Eastern grocery stores. In most recipes, maftoul can be replaced with the mass-produced Israeli couscous. Regardless of whichever one you cook with, I cannot stress how important it is that food has absolutely no political affiliations.

 

Maftoul – Israeli Couscous Moroccan Style with Chicken, Tomatoes, Saffron and Lemon | Soyeon Kim for The Road Home

 

You can make your own hearty dish with maftoul  in your own kitchen. This Levantine cuisine-inspired dish is easy to cook and  takes some time to simmer on the stove, meaning you have the time to clean your counters and stick your utensils in the dishwasher before even finishing cooking! Or if you are me, try to beat the incredibly difficult Level 50 of Candycrush and again, fail miserably.

 

Maftoul – Israeli Couscous Moroccan Style with Chicken, Tomatoes, Saffron and Lemon | Soyeon Kim for The Road Home

 

Be warned! This dish calls for saffron and white wine. A tiny bunch of saffron can be replaced with one teaspoon of turmeric. White wine can be replaced with white grape juice or chicken stock. My alcohol intolerance is personally a big fan of the white grape juice substitute. Final fun fact for all: alcohol actually remains in large percentages in foods unless it has been cooked for at least 3 hours. SCIENCE!

 

 

 

 

Israeli Couscous with Chicken, Tomatoes, and Lemon

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup matfoul or Israeli couscous
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise into 6 slices
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 strips lemon peel (2 inches each)
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or substitute)
  • 1-1/2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add couscous, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl, and return skillet to heat.
  2. Cook chicken, smooth side down, until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip, and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate, reserving drippings in skillet.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, add onion, and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, garlic, lemon peel, and saffron, and cook, stirring frequently, until tomatoes begin to break down, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Return chicken to skillet. Add wine, and cook for 4 minutes. Add stock, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and couscous, and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until couscous is tender and chicken is cooked through, 12 to 14 minutes. Stir in peas, and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve immediately with lemon.

The Food of Fall

Note from the editor – This post was written by Francesca, Heide’s 8-year-old daughter, and Gabrielle’s little sister. She requested that we fix the spelling, but you can see the original letter in all its glory below. Please direct all fan mail to the comment section!

 

leaves1

 

 

I recommend pumpkin spice syrup. The food of fall is better than any other season. Pumpkin pie, let’s eat! I love fall because of the fragrance in the air, the food, this shade of orange (fall leaf orange), all the colors of the leaves and of course, the pumpkin pie! Pumpkin pie I think is the best dessert ever! Better than ice cream!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

pumpkin

 

 

I think my mother’s recipe for pumpkin pie is the best! (Sometimes I like a touch of ice cream on top!) I don’t think I’ve ever tried pumpkin bread but I bet it’s great! I love everything about fall! Fall is my favorite season! When I go to dance class, I like to look out the window at the trees and watch them changing colors (there are a lot of trees on the way to dance class!). I love jumping in the leaves! I love going to Chester and Essex in the fall.

 

 

jumping

 

 

In Essex there’s this field by the ocean that I like to dance in (Irish step dance of course). I recommend going to Essex in the fall! Don’t waste the season while it’s here!

 

 

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As Seen At the Market

One of the things I assumed I would miss most when switching careers from journalist to cooking school owner was meeting interesting characters and walking into scenes you never dreamed you’d find yourself in, like walking up the steps of City Hall and interviewing Mayor Ed Koch during an election bid in 1981 at the ripe old age of 18.

 

 

Look at that hair....

 

But over the last two years, I realized my fears were completely and delightfully unfounded. If you really love to cook you can end up doing the same kind of research and probing as any journalist – you should see my library of cookbooks and magazine clippings!  Now, instead of hunting down subjects for a story, I’m hunting down ingredients and sharing recipes with people, from farmer’s markets to subway platforms. People always have a recipe to share, just like they had great leads to tell me in the past.

 

 

 

Of course you probably wonder how this relates to recipes and cooking, so I’ll step off memory lane and get to the point. Recently we started a new series of cooking classes called Spice Market, where we teach how to blend spices and herbs for exotic cuisines. Our first class took us to India, Morocco and Turkey, and we had to learn about ingredients even we rarely, if ever, used before, like asafoetida, preserved lemons and rosewater. Where do you get such ingredients? Some you can make yourself (come back soon and you’ll see a post on preserved lemons), but others, like rosewater, you may have to hunt for.

 

 

I googled preserved lemons and rosewater and was lucky enough to find a store called Sayad International specializing in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, not far from our house. The store was filled with exotically flavored ingredients, such as pickled wild cucumbers, Moroccan sardines, and dried hibiscus flowers. The store, which smells like Persian tea, dried fruits and spices was cramped and dark but full of discoveries. It’s the kind of place you say,  “I hope I remember this place next time I’m looking for [blank].” I can’t imagine we’d ever need Moroccan sardines, but I was thrilled to know that I wouldn’t have to travel long distances (or pay high shipping charges) if I did.

 

 

We’ve all passed over recipes because we don’t want to deal with finding a weird ingredient or an odd kitchen gizmo. Take these moments as opportunities for adventure. You can always order these things online, but your life will be so much richer if you jump in the car and track them down yourselves.

 

 

In honor of these adventures, I’m going to share a recipe inspired by the research I did for our first Spice Market class. The rosewater and mint really makes the watermelon come alive, and it’s the perfect, refreshing way to end a highly flavorful meal. So bring this tiny adventure into your home, and try to find mini food adventures where you live. You are almost guaranteed to have a great story to tell and maybe even a new recipe when you return.

 Enjoy!

Recipe!

Pomegranate-Watermelon Salad with Mint and Rosewater

Ingredients:

  • 1 small watermelon, weighing about 3 1/2 pounds (or a wedge of a larger watermelon)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of rosewater, depending on how strong a flavor you would like
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • 4 tablespoons pomegranate juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons fragrant honey (such as wildflower)
  • 12-15 small to medium sized mint leaves, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Cut watermelon into bite-sized pieces
  2. Add the pomegranate seeds
  3. MIx rosewater, pomegranate juice and honey in a bowl
  4. Pour over watermelon and seeds. Mix well.
  5. Cover and chill for about an hour before serving.

Strawberry Flats Forever

One of the challenging things about cooking for large crowds is learning to order the right amount of food to feed, say, 300 people, a talent you’d certainly learn quickly in any restaurant kitchen or you’d go out of business.

 

There used to be a lot more where these came from... but my daughters ate them all.

 

But since my joy in life comes from teaching others to cook and I don’t own a restaurant (although I think about opening one all the time), I haven’t quite gotten that skill down. Even if I had it down, it’s really unlikely I would manage to order just the right amount. It’s in my genes to make too much food. It’s the Mediterranean in me – watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding and you’ll understand my views on feeding a crowd. The Romanians on my father’s side were just the same: there was never such thing as too much. If anyone left a family gathering growing up without being totally stuffed, that meant the mothers, aunts and grandmothers in the kitchen didn’t do their job. I’m the same way.

 

Try this at home.

 

So as per usual when I was planning for a cooking demonstration at New Haven’s Wooster Square Market last week, our hands-down favorite open air farmer’s market in our area, I ordered way too many organic strawberries to accompany the amazing vanilla-almond custard Gabrielle adeptly made before the crowd.

 

Strawberries in water - our accidental art piece. People tried very hard to steal these.

 

When the day was over, we had a flat and a half of extra just-picked, perfectly ripe, sweet, bright-red, wonderfully imperfect organic strawberries. Mark brought the girls down to the market to make an emergency extension cord run (long story) and stayed until we were done with our demo. And when I wondered out loud what we should with so many strawberries that wouldn’t last for days the way supermarket strawberries do, my husband just said two wonderful words: Strawberry Margaritas.

 

Perfect.  Mark never uses many words, but what he says always matters. And that was certainly true on Saturday.

 

I always tell the girls – and they’ve heard it so many times growing up it’s practically in their DNA – that most things in life worth experiencing – having children, a great career, friendships – require hard work and dedication. But on rare occasion that isn’t really true. Sometimes miniscule effort can bring pure joy in a ridiculously short period of time. Strawberry margaritas are like that. And the amazing thing is that you don’t have to buy Tezon Añejo to get that joy, unless of course you want to be beyond overjoyed in which case, go ahead, buy the top shelf stuff. But for us it was a warm lazy Saturday afternoon and I didn’t feel like buying great tequila, so I used what we had in the house, which was entry-level.

 

Jose Cuervo... cheap, but seriously sufficient.

 

I’ll give you the specific recipe, but it is really better to remember the simple ratio for margaritas. You’ll want to be able to do this at the drop of a hat. Think thirds: one third a cup each of tequila, triple sec, and lime juice* in the blender. It’s that simple.

 

 

This is almost everything that goes into them.

 

Add a tablespoon or two of sugar if you have a really sweet tooth (otherwise leave it out) and ½ cup of ice if you want them to be slightly less strong… so you don’t get too too lazy afterwards.

 

Just seconds away...

 

Blend well and add a cup or so of ice, and voila! the perfect, simple margarita.

 

So pretty... and it tastes so much better.

 

So sit back and relax. Enjoy the fruits of your minor labor the way Mark did on Father’s day as he sipped perfection in a glass. Cheers!

 

Colander of Strawberries

 

Strawberry Margaritas

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup triple sec
  • 1/3 cup tequila
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 ½ cups fresh, preferably fresh picked organic strawberries
  • ½ cup ice (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix on high for 30 seconds, or until thoroughly blended. 
  2. Serve straight or on the rocks, depending on whether you added ice to the blender.  Feel free to double or triple the recipe depending on your thirst and size of the crowd!

To Market To Market

As I started thinking about Cityseed’s fabulous farmer’s market in New Haven’s Wooster Square and as I looked through the hundreds of pictures I’ve taken in recent weeks, I was struck not only by the vibrant colors, the luscious fruits and vegetables, but the remarkably diverse and colorful people who come to this special place Saturday mornings.

We’ve met so many wonderful people at our booth who genuinely care about food and are meticulous about the quality of ingredients they use in their everyday lives. My hats off to them. For those of us who live in or near New Haven, we owe a lot to market manager Rachel Berg, and her tireless staff for running this market so perfectly week after week and making these local and organic foods accessible.

I will be posting a photo essay on the market seasonally since it is such an integral part any foodie’s life; here are some moments of this past glorious summer and just a hint of autumn.

One of the things I just love about the market is that it is one-stop-shopping; you can and should pick your menus for the week based on what the local Connecticut farmers are harvesting that week.

I fell in love with beets this summer since they were so plentiful and were offered in so many colors; orange, white and of course that beautiful dark purple that turns a gorgeous pinkish lavender color when pureed with a bit of cream. We ate them in chilled borschts, we caramelized them for salads with avocado and goat cheese, and sometimes we just ate them roasted with a just a sprinkle of sea salt and coarse pepper.

There is also no better place to buy so many other herbs, vegetables and fruits as well.

Or ingredients for a refreshing salad of arugula, lettuce, tomatoes and red onions.

You can also pick up gorgeous wild flowers, sunflowers and the most spectacular dahlias to decorate your table with too. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to pick up some of the finest baked goods in Connecticut at the Sono Bakery.

One of the reasons to go to the market, of course, is the people watching. It’s some of the best in New Haven.  The shopkeepers and the customers have a lot of pizzaz and personality.

People find many ways of transporting their goods home too; most, of course, are environmentally friendly; You see re-usable bags  and wheels of every kind.

Of course, pampered pets enjoy the morning at the market too. And why not?

I hope I’ve whet your appetite to visit the market, or one nearest your home. But I’m warning you; they’re addictive. Supermarket produce will never look the same again.

If you live nearby and plan to visit the Wooster market, please be sure to come by and say “Hi” to us next time you’re there. We’d love to see you. If you live far away, find your local market and get to know your local growers. They are wonderful people who care about the land and the food we eat.

For now, enjoy these last pictures of autumn’s beginning; I love all things apples and pumpkins, and I promise to have some recipes for you in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, get out there and pick some apples or pumpkins. It’s good for you.

I’m going back into the test kitchen right now so I can come up with some great pumpkin recipes. I’ll be back soon!

Check In

I did it! I finally arrived at college last Monday, I managed to set up my bedding on the top bunk, I connected to campus WiFi and, most importantly, I found a group of friends who are willing to make bruschetta with me tomorrow afternoon. In 18 years I have never once felt this proud of my accomplishments.

So even though I haven’t had much time to explore New York yet, I thought I’d just give a quick update on life in the big city! It’s scary how many opportunities there are to eat here. There’s a Pinkberry within walking distance of my dorm and a farmers’ market across the street from me (with 10 varieties of eggplant!). My room is also conveniently placed across from the community kitchenette, so I’m going to keep cooking. And the good news for you is that my new kitchen is equipped with nothing more than 4 electric burners (2 of which function) and a microwave. So if I can make something here, you can certainly make it at home. I also have many new friends who are kosher and/or vegetarian, so you’ll reap the benefits of my new culinary challenges.

What I can tell you after a week is that Tom’s Diner (the Seinfeld Diner) makes much better milkshakes and pancakes than one would expect from a tourist trap (Order the Broadway Shake. It’s made with chocolate and coffee ice cream, and it’s not on the menu. And if you were wondering, they will serve it at breakfast. Not that I would know…), and I can also tell you that little green plums are not quite as good as little purple plums, but that skinny cucumbers are much better than regular cucumbers, and that okra comes in red, and that fairytale eggplant is  adorable.

My new camera has yet to arrive, so the pictures will get better and more frequent. For now enjoy a few snapshots of the week, featuring the local farmer’s market and Yoko Ono’s Wishing Tree at the Museum of Modern Art. I can’t wait to start sharing restaurants and recipes!

Sugar High: A Mini Anecdote

I love my family for only taking foodie vacations, but after a while the calories will catch up to you. So I was actually a little relieved when my high school friends and I settled on New Hampshire for our post-grad bonding trip, rather than what would have inevitably become an expensive and calorific gastronomic tour of Quebec. We brought The Chef along to chaperone (cook), but I thought we were planning to spend our days on our feet hiking, swimming or at least antiquing. And we did…

mostly.

What I failed to realize, was that the house we rented, on a strict college student’s budget, was a whole hour from Mount Washington, but a mere seven minutes away from the biggest budget basher known to mankind: the world’s longest candy counter.

It’s very dangerous to let me loose in a store like Chutters. With whole bins of cappuccino jelly beans, peach-apricot fruit slices, cognac cordials, chocolate-covered pretzel balls and chocolate-covered gummy bears (tasteless in one sense, so tasty in another) I was like a kid in a… never mind.

Candy here is stored in big jars, and sold by the pound, but I was assured that a pound of candy was a lot, so I set a budget in my mind, and set out filling my bag with what was, to my mind, a very reasonable amount of candy. I took a break from candy buying to take pictures, and 1/2 an hour later joined my friends at the checkout counter. All four of them spent exactly what they planned to… I rang up to almost twice as much.

I call this a mini anecdote, but really it’s the story of my life.

The End.