Sauce Carrettiera, is in short, a miracle sauce. Contrary to popular beliefs about spaghetti sauce, this sauce takes almost no time to simmer and is ready to go by the time your pasta has finished cooking. It is quick, and spicy, and satisfying- the perfect meal for college students doing some late night studying or for parents who need a quick bite before dropping the kids off at soccer practice. In fact, it is the go-to meal for university students in Italy- it’s pretty inexpensive too!
This sauce’s miraculous powers come from two key ingredients: the fresh Parmesan cheese and the red pepper flakes.
The marriage of these two ingredients is celebrated so perfectly in this dish that I cannot imagine eating Carrettiera sauce without the cheese. It would be like peanut butter with no jelly; an ice cream sundae with no whipped cream. The heat of the red pepper is both mellowed and complemented by the Parmesan; it helps bring out the ‘umami’ flavor of the cheese.
So, next time you’re in a hurry, or just don’t feel like spending a lot of time cooking, try Carrettierra. The heat and immediate satisfaction will have your feeling as macho and spicy-hot as the muscular cart-pullers this sauce was named after- (Carrettiera originates from the Italian word for ‘cart-pullers’ and refers to the large, muscular, ‘macho’ men who spent all day doing this hard work and who came home to eat this spicy sauce for dinner).
Spaghetti alla Carrettiera
From: Chrissy Esposito
26-28 oz strained peeled tomatoes (like the Pomi brand) or canned, peeled tomatoes that have been blended until smooth (either with a food processor, blender, or immersion blender)
¼ cup good olive oil (it is okay to use good olive oil here because the sauce never goes beyond a mild simmer)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes- to taste (1/2 tea-1 tea)
1 pound spaghetti or thin spaghetti
4-5 oz chunk of Parmeggiano Reggiano, freshly grated
Put the water onto boil and while boiling simmer the garlic together with the red pepper flakes in a small sauce pot over medium-low to low heat.
Simmer the garlic and pepper flakes for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic (you want the garlic to cook for a few minutes, until it “releases its scent” and is no longer bitter).
Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt. You don’t want to over-do the salt because the Parmesan is naturally salty, you will want a lot of Parmesan on your pasta! Let sauce continue to gently simmer until the pasta is done.
Throw the pasta in when the water boils and when the pasta is done, the sauce is done! Drain the pasta, mix together, and serve with a ton of fresh Parmesan cheese.
I wrote about how I earned my first tip by making this breakfast in my blog last week. What I did not say though, was that this breakfast actually came out of desperation — our car battery had been dead for a week, and of course grocery trips were suspended indefinitely.
Saturday morning, I woke up to an empty fridge. Well, not entirely empty. There was still a couple eggs left, and that was it. I turned to the freezer, and was so happy to dig out a package of thick-cut bacon and a bag of hash browns. Yay!
I was too hungry to defrost the bacon in the fridge (didn’t even have the patience to use the cold-water method). I popped the entire package in to the microwave and waited, impatiently, for a whole two minutes. As soon as the bacon is separable, I threw three slices in a pan over medium-high heat. Soon enough they started sizzling, and the kitchen was filled with a wonderful aroma. Hmm, who needs coffee to wake up?
The beauty of cooking bacon in the morning is that you get a lot of tasty bacon fat to cook with, which was what I used to transform the frozen hash browns into a tasty side. Even better, crack an egg into bacon fat and your sunny-side-up will be just as good as it can get.
I could hardly wait to put everything on a plate and have a bite. Instant gratification! I learned something here: desperation can be the best inspiration sometimes, and that simple food can (and often does) taste great. Now I just wish a fairy would make this breakfast so I could wake up to it every single day!
Thick Cut Bacon, Parsley Hash Brown, and a Sunny-Side Up Egg
From: Danti Chen
3 slices thick cut bacon
1 cup thinly sliced potato sticks (or frozen hash browns)
1 tsp chopped parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp crushed pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Heat up a pan on high, and fry up 3 slices of bacon. Reduce the heat to medium and cook on each side for about 7 minutes.
Take about a table spoon of bacon fat, and put it in another pan on high heat. Throw in a cup of thinly sliced potato.
Add the garlic powder and crushed pepper to the potato. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. Add the chopped parsley.
In a separate pan, add about 1 teaspoon bacon fat, heat it up till sizzling.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and crack an extra large egg into the pan. Crack some pepper and add a pinch of salt on top. Cover, and turn off the heat. Let it sit while the potato and bacon finishes cooking, for about (15 & 14 minutes total). The egg should cook for no more than 6 minutes total with the heat off.
I grew up in a family where virtually nothing was wasted. My mother would save the tiniest sliver of Breyers ice cream that used to come in a square container, and sometimes, oh my God, we’d even take leftovers to amusement parks. I of course wanted those horrible hot dogs rolling around on those metal tubes all day. I often think how almost criminal it is that we have three refrigerators in our house that are so stuffed with food we can’t even see what’s growing in the back of each of them. Yes, I teach cooking classes so there’s always a lot of ingredients needed for classes and testing recipes, but it’s still no excuse for wasting precious food.
I decided that instead of dreading the monthly clean-out of moldy bits and pieces and the slimy gook from spilled jars, I should stage our own version of Chopped, where contestants are given a handful of secret ingredients and they have to come up with some brilliant dish. The difference of course is that I won’t try to make a four star dinner out of cheese doodles, octopus, gelatin and some sort of spiky fruit. I’m challenging myself to search the freezers and fridges each week for several ingredients and to figure out a dish in one hour. This kind of self imposed contest forces you to use a variety of skills – it could be searing, braising, frying or roasting, or whatever – in new ways and to really work the spices you have on hand.
Okay I admit, this first week I had a head start. I just finished doing a week of cooking demos on back to school healthy snacks and lunch options on Fox News (link to avocado video) and had great lime jalapeno guacamole left over. I had also had a huge package of 12 inch tortillas from making low fat baked tortilla chips on air. Quesadillas anyone? So I searched the fridge and found perfectly ripe yellow heirloom tomatoes, Iberico cheese and smoked prosciutto (similar enough to Iberico ham). Perfect ingredients to make a Spanish-ish Quesadilla. Here’s the recipe:
This Pumpkin Fondue is one of our absolute favorite recipes of all time. We’ve posted this one before, but in light of the demo it on TV the other day, I decided to bring it back from the archives. It’s too important to miss! If your Thanksgiving menu is still flexible, we highly encourage you to check this one out! Scroll down for the recipe and a video of the TV segment!
Pumpkins Stuffed with Everything Good – Our Way
From: Heide Lang, Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
8 strips bacon (¼ cup shallots may be substituted for vegetarian version
¼ pound stale bread cut into cubes
¼ pound cheese, such as gruyere, emmental, cheddar, smoked gouda, asiago, parmesan, or any combination, cut into ½ inch cubes
3 cloves of garlic pressed or minced
1/8-1/4 cup fresh chives or scallions
2 teaspoons or more fresh herbs (i.e., parsley, rosemary, thyme)
½ cup dried cranberries (optional)
1 sugar or Cinderella pumpkin weighing about 3 pounds
1 cup or more heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sautee shallots until they are crispy (about 15 minutes), or fry bacon until crispy. Set aside.
Combine chunks of bread and cheese, along with dried cranberries (this is optional, but will add beautiful color to the fondue). Season with salt and pepper.
Add bacon or shallots to the bread and cheese mixture. Combine well.
Add any herbs you choose, along with the chives or scallions, and garlic. Toss well.
Using a very sturdy knife, cut off the cap of the pumpkin, just as you would a jack-o-lantern.
Scoop out the stringy pumpkin and the seeds and generously salt the inside of the pumpkin.
Pack the filling tightly into the pumpkin (there shouldn’t be any air pockets).
Pour in cream until the bread mixture is saturated and there is a bit of liquid on top (but be careful not to have the bread “swimming” in heavy cream).
Put the cap back on and bake until the pumpkin is soft, about 60-90 minutes. Check the pumpkin after 45 minutes to see how soft it is. Continue baking until the ingredients are bubbling and the meat of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced with a fork. Do not let it burn, or the pumpkin will turn black and collapse as it cools. You don’t want all your good work ruined!
Place a large spatula under your creation and move it gently to a beautiful platter.
Serve as a side dish or an appetizer on small plates.
Few will admit this, but preparing Thanksgiving dinner stresses people out. We are living with non-stop information overload and everywhere online, on television, and on billboards we see pictures of that annoying perfect turkey with all the flawless trimming and a relaxed happy host just waiting for their guests to arrive. Nope! We tell ourselves it doesn’t matter, but it’s hard not to feel a little judged because, well, you probably are being judged kind of a little, or maybe even a lot depending who is coming. It’s like going to the hairdresser. Why we care what people think of our hair I’ll never know, but we often do!
So when WTIC Fox News Connecticut asked me to do a Thanksgiving cooking extravaganza for the next eight weekdays in a row starting today, I jumped at the chance to show viewers and our blog friends just how satisfying and easy it can be to host Thanksgiving (Ironically, I’m not hosting this year, but that’s okay because after this series my family will have had about a dozen trial turkey day dinners!). Each day, I will share the recipes and the videos with you, and give you clever ideas meant take the stress out of the day (don’t carve the turkey where people can see you).
We’ll start with appetizers, starters, side dishes and dessert, and work our way up to taking the fear out of carving and what to do with all that turkey meat come day three of leftovers when major boredom sets in.
Yesterday, we made Butternut Squash Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Shallots and Fig Goat Cheese Caramelized Shallot Squares made with puff pastry. These recipes are both huge crowd pleasers and don’t require a ton of time or skill. Watch today’s video to learn how to make these winner recipes as well (http://foxct.com/2013/11/18/try-a-new-thanksgiving-side-dish/)
Also, we’d also love to hear about your Thanksgiving success and disasters (especially if they’re funny. What are your favorite and worst Thanksgiving memories?
Fig Goat, Cheese, and Caramelized Shallot Squares
From: Heide Lang
1 ready-made defrosted puff pastry sheet
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
2 ½ cups of thinly sliced shallots (4 large shallots, or 6 small ones)
½ teaspoon salt
12-14 whole dried figs (3 ounces)
3 teaspoons honey
5-6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
¼ cup coarsely ground walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Roll out the puff pastry to a 10 X 13 rectangle. Poke a few holes in pastry with a fork (so it doesn’t puff up while baking.)
Pre-bake the puff pastry until it is just slightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
In the meantime, melt the butter with oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the shallots.
Cook the shallots on medium heat until they are soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently, especially if you are not using a non-stick pan.
Add the salt, and season to taste with pepper. Set aside.
Place dried figs in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and dry figs.
Slice figs 1/8 inch thick, and then coarsely chop them (you should have ½ cup of sliced figs). Mix with honey and set aside
Spread the shallot mixture evenly over the pre-baked pastry.
Sprinkle the goat cheese, followed by the figs and the walnuts.
Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese starts to bubble, about 15-20 minutes.
Let cool and cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.
From: Heide Lang
3/4 cup olive or canola oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ½ cups sliced shallots (6-12 shallots, depending on size)
Heat oil and butter in a 12-inch saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble.
Reduce the heat to low and add the shallots.
Cook until golden brown, about 30 minutes (add more oil if the shallots start to burn) stirring frequently.
Remove the shallots with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Pat down to remove excess oil. Once the excess oil is absorbed, place the shallots in an airtight container and use to garnish soups, vegetables, potatoes, and sandwiches.
Butternut Squash Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Shallots
From: Heide Lang
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups leeks, chopped
1/3 cup shallots, chopped
2 1/2 cups fresh butternut squash cut in 1-inch cubes
1 can pure organic pumpkin puree (no sugar added)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon cane sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons fresh ginger finely minced
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 Bartlett pear, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/3 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
4-5 tablespoons crispy shallots (see recipe below)
1/3 pound pancetta, sliced thin (optional)
Heat canola oil in a 6-8 quart pot. Sautee shallots and leeks over medium heat until they are soft and glassy, but not yet brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the butternut squash and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add the pumpkin puree and stir well.
Add salt, pepper, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook over medium heat for one minute.
Add the pear and broth and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is hot, turn down the heat to a steady simmer on a low-medium flame. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the pears and squash are soft.
Puree in a food processor, or with an immersion blender (you may also use a blender, but be sure to let the soup cool to lukewarm first).
Add sour cream and mix well.
Fry pancetta (optional) in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, until crisp, and pat between two towels to absorb grease.
Serve with crispy shallots and/or crumbled pancetta on top.
Last night, my Sharia class had the most depressing movie party a class could ever have. I had briefly mentioned I might make Baklava, to lift the mood but (spoiler alert) Baklava takes like a year make, and I had literally no time. Cookies, on the other hand, take 10 minutes and de-stress like none other. I can’t write a real post because I still have no time. So, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, speak for yourselves.
Do you have no time? Do you make cookies? Tell me all about it in the briefest comments you possibly can 😉
2 tsp vanilla extract (optional because I forgot to buy it and it turned out fine) (not really optional though) (also, I suspect Jack Daniels or Jameson would make a great substitute – somebody should try it out)
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 cups dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350
In a medium-large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and soda and spices.
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar on high, until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
Mix in egg, vanilla and pumpkin also for about 3-4 minutes, until blended. Don’t freak out if it looks curdled, it will do that, and it will be ok.
Slowly add the dry ingredients until just mixed. Then slowly mix in chocolate chips.
Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet.
Bake until edges are golden brown. The recipe I was working off said 10 minutes, mine took like 25. Start checking at 10 – you’ll know.
Cool on sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to baking rack and eat them all!
Most people think I’m a little bit strange when I tell people that Halloween is my favorite holiday. It’s really simple. I adore the foods of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and Easter, not to mention all the glorious casual picnic foods from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but I just love the theatre and whimsy of Halloween.
This great holiday, after all, is not about gifts or how perfect the table looks for relatives. It’s about fun, and magic, and theatre. It transcends age. We will have 8-year-olds and 16-year-olds side by side at our house all enjoying the same silly food and wearing goofy costumes. What could be better? I get to take my apron off and think solely about what would make kids of all ages happy. The pressure is off to be perfect. All anyone cares about is that the offerings are funny, maybe a little “scary” and of course colorful.
So here’s part of our line-up for All Hallow’s Eve at our house. We’ll offer our friends and fellow trick-or-treaters Mad Scientist Bubbly Brew, followed by cauliflower brain dip, and darling little “pumpkins” made of clementines and celery. There will be other things, but these are my favorites. I hope this sampling of our Halloween inspires you to think like a child even for just one day. Happy Halloween everyone!
Have you got any special halloween foods you make at your house? We’d love to hear about them! Comment below to let us know!
From: Heide Lang
One dozen or more Clementines
Several stalks celery
Peel Clementines and place on a fun Halloween platter.
Cut a stalk of celery into small pieces for the pumpkin stem. Stick a celery piece into the top of each peeled Clementine and serve!
Creepy Cauliflower Brain Dip with Guacamole
From: Heide Lang
4 ripe avocados peeled and pitted
½ cup chopped onions
1/8 cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup cilantro (optional)
1 4 ounce can finely chopped seeded jalapeno chilies**
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
1 cup of tomatoes, diced and seeded (or canned diced tomatoes in the winter)
1 large cauliflower
1 package of red licorice string
Place all guacamole ingredients but tomatoes in a food processor or in a medium sized bowl. Puree in the food processor or puree in bowl using an immersion blender until very smooth.
Drain tomatoes thoroughly through a sieve and gently blend into the avocado mixture using a spatula.
Remove all of the leaves from the cauliflower and remove the stem so that there is a hollow area, but most of the florets are intact. (Use toothpicks to hold the sides together if it starts to fall apart).
Put the hollowed out cauliflower into a snug fitting bowl. (For a really scary presentation, wrap the bowl in cheesecloth stained with red food coloring.)
Fill in with the guacamole and decorate the florets by weaving the licorice between the florets to make the veins and arteries. You may also sprinkle a bit of red food coloring on the “arteries” as well but be careful not to overdo it.
Mad Scientist Bubbly Brew
From: Heide Lang
Clear glass container or punch bowl
Artificial green or red drink, such as Gatorade or Hawaiian Punch (You may also use a clear liquid like seltzer or Sprite, died with food coloring, if you want)
Gummy worms, plastic spiders or any other creepy creatures you wish
Fill container or punch bowl with a green or red beverage.
Place gummy worms, spiders, etc, on the edge of the bowl.
Add a few small pieces or pellets of dry ice, just enough to get the brew bubbling and smoky. If it comes in a big brick, you will need to chip pieces off of it. (Do NOT pick up dry ice with your bare hands. Use tongs to handle it or protective rubber gloves if you must pick it up with your hands.)
Serve immediately, adding additional pieces of dry ice every 10 minutes, or as needed.
There is nothing like finding a dessert that’s beautiful, easy and unbelievably delicious. We all know that it isn’t always so easy. There are a lot of desserts that fit only one or two of those stipulations. A genoise cake, for example is beautiful and delicious but certainly NOT simple.
That’s why this dessert is so special. Did I mention that it’s fairly low-calorie as well? I used to make roasted pears with pomegranate juice and red wine, which was very good but it just didn’t quite have the depth a great autumn dessert should have. I tinkered with apple cider and port wine instead and added ginger, cinnamon and cardamom to create this gem of a fall treat. I honestly haven’t met anyone in any of my classes who hasn’t gone crazy over this one. You may also want to prepare this if you are having an open house as well. The combination of pears, port, cider and spices says cozy autumn like nothing else. I bet it will sell your house in a flash!
The best thing about it is that your friends and family will not only love it but they will be so honored you spent so much time making them a special dessert. The truth (note, I am whispering) is that it will take you about 15 minutes to get in oven. Don’t worry. Your secret will be safe. Who am I going to tell?
Oh, and be sure to save any extra sauce to pour over French toast, pancakes or waffles over the weekend. The recipe purposefully makes more sauce than you will need for the pears alone so you can have leftovers. Who could ask for more?
Do you have any easy winner dessert recipes like this one? Let us know in the comments, below!
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).
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.
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.
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!
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
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds (about 4 ½ cups,) frozen or fresh organic corn*
½ teaspoon kosher salt
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)
Heat canola oil in a non-stick pan, preferably cast iron.
Add corn. Mix well to assure all the kernels are coated with oil.
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!)
Zest both limes (you should have 2 teaspoons of zest)
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.
When most households say they have a secret ingredient, they generally mean something normal like love, mayonnaise or grandma’s special seasoning mix. But in my house, where we are not normal, I learned from a very young age that everything (every single thing) tastes better with whiskey. All of my favorite family standbys – Irish Whiskey Potato Soup, Jack Daniels Fudge Pie or Bourbon Sweet Potatoes – owed their indescribable special to what can only be considered the world’s greatest spirit. Some of these I grew up with, some of them were added over the years, but there’s a rich, nutty, I-don’t-even-know (is amber a flavor?) that has defined almost every food I’ve ever been obsessed with. And now that I’m 21, I’ll happily drink a well margarita, and only believe in cheap vodka, but even in my young age, I take my whiskey very, very seriously.
I could wax poetic for hours about cooking with whiskey – fun for all ages, and I have yet to find a food it doesn’t improve. But in my nearly 6 months of being 21 I have never yet written about a cocktail, so I’m going to celebrate my impending half birthday with a simple fall cocktail my friends and I dreamed up. I’ve actually wanted to make this for weeks but I decided to wait until it was seasonally appropriate. All it takes to make it is to heat up a cup of apple cider and add 1/8-1/4 cup of whiskey (afterwards, of course, so it doesn’t evaporate). And it tastes like a fall serenade swirled up your mind and heart and dropped them in… I don’t know, a fiery maple tree or something. Ireland wins my love all day every day so I used Bushmills but I bet this would taste amazing with Scotch too. Extra points if you mull the cider but I’m lazy so I won’t fault you if you are too.
Do you have a fall drink you make? Whether it’s spiked or child appropriate, we want to hear about it! Let us know in the comments below!