Spaghetti Alla Carrettiera

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!

 

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This sauce’s miraculous powers come from two key ingredients: the fresh Parmesan cheese and the red pepper flakes.

 

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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.

 

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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).

 

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Spaghetti alla Carrettiera

From: Chrissy Esposito

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Law, Leaves and Baklava

Every semester I promise myself that this is the semester I’m going to take it easy and every semester I don’t do that even a little. This semester, for example, I was supposed to accomodate 35 work hours a week by taking easy classes, but that was before I showed up to day 1 of the most amazing and demanding classes I’ve ever taken in my life. The unexpected final addition to the schedule was a positively life changing class on Shari’a, Islamic law. I decided to indulge my inner nerd, and last night I ended up making baklava at 1:30 in the morning.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

While it might be ever so totally true that this wasn’t even kind of a class assignment, we WERE assigned a mock divorce court last week (complete with costumes and props) as an in-class exercise and – what do you know? –the mock plaintiff just so happened to own a baklava company! Unfortunately we were representing her mock husband and bringing in baklava for the other side was too time consuming to be justified. But I didn’t have homework last night and so for class tomorrow I will be setting the mood in style.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

Besides, baklava is secretly a perfect fall food. With walnuts, honey, cinnamon and thin sheets of phyllo that could easily represent falling leaves, you could not possibly get more seasonally appropriate. I can’t lie, phyllo is a pain in everyone’s butt to work with, but I can promise the results will be well worth it. I may or may have nibbled on a store bought substitute while I waited for this to be ready and I can assure you, there’s truly nothing like homemade.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

Do you have any unexpected fall recipes? Or stories of classwork-turned-recipe? Let me know in the comments below!

The Better Way to Eat French Toast

Francesca just had surgery yesterday and while it was a pretty low-key procedure, she was supposed to be out of commission for about a week. We had grand plans to lift her spirits and nurse her back to health, so it was a bit unsettling to find her running around the house this morning and having her drag *me* out of bed this morning. She appears to be the healthiest person in the house right now. That said, we had already promised her a special breakfast this morning so even though she’s doing a terrible job proving she deserves it, we’re committed to french toast and bacon, at least for brunch (oh how we suffer).

 

Look at her... so sick...

 

Right before my birthday this past spring, I spent a beautiful weekend in Dingle, Ireland also pretending I needed to get well. I was thoroughly fake-stressed, and wanted a weekend of complete relaxation to welcome my 22nd year in style so, when the impending time came, I’d be ready to face the real world head-on. I spent the weekend biking, listening to traditional Irish music, and chatting with strangers in cozy pubs, but a large portion of the credit for the weekend’s “healing” powers goes to the Goat Street Café’s French Toast with Brie and Maple syrup. I swear that no combination of flavors has ever sung so beautifully and harmoniously together – they resonate through your heart like music from a particularly good traditional music session, and with similarly strong healing powers (as long as you don’t have an actual illness). You would never think to put these musicians together, but boy can they play. So to celebrate the art of pretending to get well, we’re putting an East Coast spin with Challah French Toast with Brie and Maple Syrup – and we’re adding a trad playlist to play while you eat. Whether you’re recovering from the Tired Tuesdays or post-sleep hunger, I assure you this is just the cure you need.

 

French Toast with Brie and Maple Syrup – The best french toast I've ever had (on The Road Home)

 

And we want to know – what makes you feel better when you’re pretending to be sick? Or do you have any fun spins on traditional breakfast foods? We want to hear all about it!

 

From the Fridge: Spanish Quesadillas

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.

 

Spanish-Inspired Quesadillas, featuring Smoke Prosciutto and Iberico Cheese | The Road Home

 

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.

 

Spanish-Inspired Quesadillas, featuring Smoke Prosciutto and Iberico Cheese | The Road Home

 

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:

 

Spanish-Inspired Quesadillas, featuring Smoke Prosciutto and Iberico Cheese | The Road Home

 

Spanish-Inspired Quesadillas, featuring Smoke Prosciutto and Iberico Cheese | The Road Home

 

Hubeners Butter-S’s

In Germany it’s an old and absolutely loved tradition to bake Christmas biscuits. There are million different kinds of biscuits. And we love to make them. With friends, with family, with children, … There are families, who bake 10, 15 or 20 different kinds. And every little biscuit gets some chocolate on top of it, or jam or any other decoration. Weihnachtsbäckerei…. That means „Christmas bakery“, but it means so much more: a warm kitchen, the smell of Christmas, children with flour in their faces, a Mum preparing the dough, .. I’m sure, you get the idea.

 

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My uncle, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, my great-great-grandfather, … were bakers. Their name was „Hubener“ and they had a little bakery in a little village. Every year they made Christmas biscuits to sell them (I loved those days, because we children always got a little piece of dough to make our very own biscuits). For generations they made the same ones: Hubeners Butter-S. Today I want to share this old family-recipe with you.

 

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Hubeners Butter-S – German Christmas Biscuits

From: Sophia Hermann

Ingredients:

  • 250 g butter 
  • 250 g sugar 
  • 500 g flour 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 pinch of baking powder

Directions:

  1. Mix those ingredients till you get a nice dough. 
  2. Then you need something to form the biscuits. We usually use a masticator or a mincer or how ever you might call it. It helps you to get pieces of a line, which you form in a S-shape. That’s just important for the name, but doesn’t really matter. 
  3. Then put them in the pre-heated oven at 200°C (392°F) for about 10 minutes. 
  4. When they are cooled down, dip them in melted dark chocolate. To melt the chocolate, I have one advice: put the chocolate in a bowl and the bowl in hot water. Then it’ll work out fine. 
  5. Enjoy the German „Weihnachtsbäckerei“ and let me know, if you like my family’s butter-S. Merry Christmas!

Countdown to Thanksgiving

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!

 

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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).
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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.

 

 

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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

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. 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.)
  3. Pre-bake the puff pastry until it is just slightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, melt the butter with oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the shallots.
  5. 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.
  6. Add the salt, and season to taste with pepper. Set aside.
  7. Place dried figs in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and dry figs.
  8. 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
  9. Spread the shallot mixture evenly over the pre-baked pastry.
  10. Sprinkle the goat cheese, followed by the figs and the walnuts.
  11. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese starts to bubble, about 15-20 minutes.
  12. Let cool and cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Crispy Shallots

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ½ cups sliced shallots (6-12 shallots, depending on size)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil and butter in a 12-inch saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and add the shallots.
  3. Cook until golden brown, about 30 minutes (add more oil if the shallots start to burn) stirring frequently.
  4. 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

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. Add the butternut squash and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the pumpkin puree and stir well.
  4. Add salt, pepper, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook over medium heat for one minute.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. Add sour cream and mix well.
  8. Fry pancetta (optional) in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, until crisp, and pat between two towels to absorb grease.
  9. Serve with crispy shallots and/or crumbled pancetta on top.

Easy Ghoulish Treats

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.

 

Witches Brew Punch with Dry Ice – epic halloween trick/treat | The Road Home

 

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.

 

Clementine Pumpkins | The Road Home  – cancels out the candy right?

 

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!

 

Witches Brew Punch with Dry Ice – epic halloween trick/treat | The Road Home

Halloween Cauliflower Brain with Guacamole - gruesome but great | The Road Home
Witches Brew Punch with Dry Ice – epic halloween trick/treat | The Road Home

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!

 

 

Clementine Pumpkins

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • One dozen or more Clementines
  • Several stalks celery

Directions:

  1. Peel Clementines and place on a fun Halloween platter.
  2. 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

Ingredients:

    Guacamole

    • 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)

    Brain

    • 1 large cauliflower
    • 1 package of red licorice string

    Directions:

    1. 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.
    2. Drain tomatoes thoroughly through a sieve and gently blend into the avocado mixture using a spatula.
    3. 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).
    4. 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.)
    5. 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

    Ingredients:

    • 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
    • Dry ice

    Directions:

    1. Fill container or punch bowl with a green or red beverage.
    2. Place gummy worms, spiders, etc, on the edge of the bowl.
    3. 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.)
    4. Serve immediately, adding additional pieces of dry ice every 10 minutes, or as needed.

    Roasted Pears in Cider and Port Wine

     

    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.

     

     

    Roasted Pears In Cider and Port Wine | The Road Home - SO delicious and ridiculously easy.

     

     

    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!

     

     

    Roasted Pears In Cider and Port Wine | The Road Home - SO delicious and ridiculously easy.

     

     

     

    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?

     

     

    Roasted Pears In Cider and Port Wine | The Road Home - SO delicious and ridiculously easy.

     

    Roasted Pears In Cider and Port Wine | The Road Home - SO delicious and ridiculously easy.

     

     

    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?

     

     

    Roasted Pears In Cider and Port Wine | The Road Home - SO delicious and ridiculously easy.

     

     

    Do you have any easy winner dessert recipes like this one? Let us know in the comments, below!

     

     

    Roasted Pears In Cider and Port Wine | The Road Home - SO delicious and ridiculously easy.

     

     

     

     

     

    Pears in a Port Wine Cider Glaze

    From: Heide Lang

    Ingredients:

    • 1/1/4 cups Ruby Port
    • 1 1/4 cups Apple Cider
    • ½ cup Sugar
    • 1 ½ Cinnamon Sticks
    • 2 teaspoons Grated Orange Peel
    • ¾ teaspoon Ground Cardamom
    • ¾ teaspoon Ginger Powder (or one teaspoon fresh finely chopped ginger)
    • 6 Ripe Bosc or Red Star Crimson Pears, with stems, peeled
    • Vanilla Ice Cream

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
    2. Stir port, apple cider, sugar, cinnamon sticks, orange peel, cardamom and ginger powder in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.
    3. Using a small melon baller, core pears from bottom of wide end.
    4. Trim bottoms flat and stand upright in 8 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish.
    5. Pour all but a ½ cup of the sauce over pears. Set aside the remaining ½ cup for later.
    6. Roast pears until tender when pierced with a knife or skewer, basting pears with sauce every 20 minutes, for about 1 hour.
    7. Using spatula, transfer roasted pears to serving platter.
    8. Return the pan juices to the saucepan.
    9. Simmer until reduced to 2/3 cup, about 5 minutes.
    10. Strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl, discarding all solids. (This is optional. The sauce will simply be smoother if you filter out the orange zest before serving.)
    11. Spoon glaze over pears.
    12. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

    Caramelized Shallots

    I was a bit of a rebel at cooking school, which was kind of surprising considering I was pretty much a nerd in high school. I was always asking a lot of questions, especially ones that began with “Why do we have to….?” One of the hallmarks of great French cooking, I learned very quickly, was that shortcuts were pretty much a no-no. We learned, for example, how to prepare mayonnaise and whip egg whites stiff by hand instead of using mixers or hand blenders just so we would know how if we needed to in the future.

     

    Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

     

    For chefs in a commercial kitchen this may come in handy on occasion, but I think every minute home cooks spend in the kitchen should be enjoyable. This means you should take shortcuts and even cheat a little sometimes. Otherwise, I know for a fact you will avoid certain ingredients, like shallots, which are tedious to peel since you need so many more them than onions, and slicing or dicing may them burn your eyes. You should never avoid such a wonderful ingredient such as shallots since they add so much flavor, being a little less bitter than onions and really sweet when caramelized.

     

    Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

     

    So I’ve come up with a an easy way to caramelize massive amounts of shallots with very little labor after being inspired by a  12-Hour Rabbit Bolognese recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Great Britain (a book by the way everyone should own). He just puts all the ingredients whole into this rabbit stew and the onions just fall apart and assimilate during braising. So smart. I thought that perhaps I could achieve the same results with shallots if I just peel large shallots, quarter them and slowly cook them in a bit of oil. It works!

     

    Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

     

    So what, you say?  Shallots cooked this way are a great replacement for onions in stews, or in pureed soups, mixed in with vegetables or mashed potatoes (see Stoemp). You could also add these to a pot pie, fill puff pastry cups with shallots and add a bit of goat cheese for a easy elegant appetizer, or again really use them anywhere you use cooked onions. Today, for example, I used them for a meatloaf. First I added a bit of cognac to the shallots, and let the alcohol burn off. Then I pureed them before adding them to the ground beef and other ingredients (you can also just chop them – fine or coarse – or leave them just the way they are).  There’s really no end on how you can use them.

     

    Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

     

    Do you have any go-to ingredient or spice that adds pizzazz to everyday meals? Let us know in the comments, below!

     

     

     

     

    Caramelized Shallots 1-2-3

    From: Heide Lang

    Ingredients:

    • 8 large shallots, or 12 smaller ones peeled.
    • 4-5 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil (or another oil with a high smoke point)

    Directions:

    1. Cut off the root of the shallots and quarter them
    2. Heat a medium size sauté pan and add 4 tablespoons of oil.
    3. Add the shallots and coat them with the hot oil. Break up the shallots with a firm spatula as they cook until all they have all fallen apart.
    4. Cook over a low-medium heat until the shallots start to brown, about 25 minutes. Add the last tablespoon or more of canola oil if the shallots stick to the pan
    5. Remove the shallots from pan and add to your favorite vegetable, stew, soup, or any place else you would use cooked onions. (You may chop or puree them as well.)

    Cozy Spuds for Chilly Days

    One of the best things in life is when you get to try brand new dish or ingredient you didn’t even know existed. I was driving Gabrielle back to school for the fall semester (actually it was our second trip the week after labor day because Gabrielle can never fit all of her stuff in the Honda Odyssey in one trip!) and we decided to have a leisurely lunch in New York before saying goodbye. We set very simple but specific parameters for the meal. The restaurant had to be cozy and unpretentious. We didn’t care if it was famous at all, but it had to serve real food. So Gabrielle put our conditions into the magical search known as Google and out popped Petit Abeille. This tiny restaurant seats only about 20 people and it was a bit gritty and cramped, but the aroma of onions and fried things from the open kitchen made us feel like we were in our own kitchen. It smelled like home cooking, a rarity I’m afraid for most restaurants.

     

    Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

     

    There were many great things on the menu, including lot of offerings featuring real Belgian waffles, including one with fried chicken, which we naturally ordered.

     

    Fried Chicken to Accompany Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

     

    There were the usual omelet brunch yummies as well, but our eyes were especially drawn to the chalkboard, which explained a food we had never even kind of heard of.

     

    Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

     

    We ordered a second fried chicken with stoemp and it was heaven. I love fried chicken sometimes more than life, but I practically ignored my chicken and just inhaled the potatoes. What a brilliant idea and a damn nearly perfect fall food. You have potatoes, cream, butter, and root vegetables all working together to create a cozy rich feeling in your mouth and tummy. And the potatoes were properly salted too! Go Petit Abeille!

     

    Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

     

    Stoemp is a richer version of a similar dish from the Netherlands called Stamppot, which also consists of mashed potatoes, other vegetables (especially root ones), cream, butter bacon, onions or shallots, herbs and spices. You can use any combination of dairy fat, onions/shallots and vegetables you like, but I decided to use two vegetables – kale and spinach – that I don’t really love because I figured all the cream and butter and bacon would more than offset bitter or “good for you” taste from the vegetables.

     

    Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

     

    I couldn’t wait to get home to work on my own version of stoemp, which was good the first time around, but needed more butter, bacon and cream. What doesn’t, really? Here’s my final version, with an added bonus. Most people don’t know this, but there is actually a science to making mashed potatoes. This recipe shows you how to make proper mashed spuds. Russet, Idaho and Yukon make the best mash because they are not waxy and are less likely to lump together. Here, we use russets because I think they yield the tastiest and smoothest mashed potato. You should also dry mash your potatoes first and coat them with some fat (usually butter) before adding milk and cream. It keeps the potatoes from getting gluey and weird as long as you don’t over mash and can live with some lumps.

     

     

    Stoemp – Road Home Style

    From: Heide Lang

    Ingredients:

    • 6-8 strips bacon (local, if possible)
    • 1 large onion or two medium onions coarsely chopped
    • 4 pounds russet potatoes peeled
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • ½ cup heavy cream
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves
    • 1 cup chopped fresh kale*
    • 1 teaspoon or more of salt
    • ½ teaspoon pepper

    Directions:

    1. Heat a medium size saucepan and add the bacon. Cook until crisp over medium heat.
    2. Remove bacon from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the fat.
    3. Crumble the bacon with your fingers when cool, and set aside.
    4. Drain all but 3 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan.
    5. Add the onions to the bacon fat and cook until they are brown and have caramelized, about 30 minutes.
    6. Add the kale and spinach to the onions and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
    7. Cut the potatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on their size. You want to make sure the potatoes are the same size so they cook evenly.
    8. Place the potatoes in salted cold water* and bring to a boil. Lower temperature to a simmer and cook until a fork easily goes through the potatoes, about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the potato.
    9. Drain the potatoes in a colander and “dry mash” without the milk or butter for two minutes over a low flame.
    10. Add the butter and gently mix into the potatoes without mashing (you don’t want to over mash the potatoes or they will be gluey).
    11. Combine the milk and cream in a small saucepan and warm milk.
    12. Gradually add warm milk and cream to the pot and mix thoroughly.
    13. Mash potatoes until smooth or coarse, your preference.
    14. Mix in the bacon, vegetable mixture, salt and pepper until combined well.
    15. Stoemp is best served fresh, but may be made several hours ahead of time.

    * You may also add any other root vegetable or greens you like.

      ** Add enough salt so that the water tastes like the ocean. You can always add more salt to the dish once it is assembled, but potatoes like everything else tastes MUCH better when properly cooked with salt during the process instead of after the fact.