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Archive for February, 2015

There’s nothing like fresh tomatoes. Straight from your garden or a real farmer’s market, fresh tomatoes are one of life’s amazing gifts. Sadly, this seasonal fruit (yes, fruit) has but a brief few months before they’re gone and you find yourself in the middle of February with some canned tomato paste and a sad face.

Now, no canned tomato is going to hold a candle to that summer Beefsteak. But here we are in (hopefully) the tail end of winter and our choices are limited. However, we do have some good choices! My favorite canned tomato is Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes. They actually do taste fire roasted, they’re organic, the cans are BPA free and they are the best tasting canned tomato I’ve tried thus far.

You can actally get them at a decent price from Amazon. If you do subscribe and save it’s $1.86 per can for 12-pack and you get them delivered to your door. If you’re an Amazon Prime member you can get them through the Prime Pantry program for $1.38 per can. If you’re a Costco member you can get them right now for $6.89 for a 6-pack which is only $1.15 per can – not bad at all.

Here’s some of the things I like to do with these ‘maters:

Bruchetta

Mix a can of fire roasted tomatoes with three cloves of minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Slice a loaf of French bread on the diagonal and toast in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes, then top with the tomato mix. Broil for 4-5 minutes. Top with shreds of basil and freshly grated parmesan.

Lazy Pasta

Cook 8 ounces of the pasta of your choice (I find small shaped pasta best for this purpose – fusilli, rotini, large shells, etc.) according to package directions. Drain and return to the pan and put on low heat. Stir in a can of fire roasted tomatoes, about two tablespoons of basil paste or a handful of shredded fresh basil to taste, a cup of shredded cheese (any good melting cheese will do) and about a half a cup of heavy cream. Heat through and salt and pepper to taste.

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Test subject Bill asked for Bolognese sauce last week. It’s always nice to get a request…and then NAIL IT. This sauce was a thing of beauty. I recommend serving it over homemade pasta for best results! Note: a good Bolognese takes time. Don’t rush it, and you will be rewarded.

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KKF Bolognese Sauce

1 lb ground beef

2 carrots, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

5 cloves garlic

2 t curry powder

2 small bay leaves

1.5 cups red wine

14 oz tomato paste

Bunch thyme, tied together tightly with string

2 T olive oil

1.5-2c water

½ cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Buzz your onion, carrot, celery and garlic in the food processor until you have a chunky paste. Warm the olive oil in a heavy saucepan and add the garlicky mirepoix. Hit it with a big pinch of salt. Cook gently for at least 20 minutes, letting the flavors develop. Add the ground beef (you’re using grass fed beef, right?) and give it a good strong stir, blending it well with the veggies. Let it cook, stirring frequently, for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and let it cook for another few minutes, then add the wine. Bring the mixture to a light simmer and hold for 15 minutes or so, stirring frequently, then add about half a cup of the water. Add the curry powder, thyme and bay leaves.

Bring the mixture back to a simmer and give it some time, at least 15 minutes, stirring frequently, before adding another half cup of water. Monitor your sauce, adding water as necessary when it reduces, and tasting and adjusting salt and pepper as desired. The longer you can let it go the better it will be. Mine probably went in this phase for about two hours.

You want to end up with a fairly thick, uniform sauce with very, very small chunks of the ground beef. You don’t want to see big chunks of anything. Once you are happy with the consistency and flavor of your sauce you are almost done. Just one more finishing touch…

Slowly stir in half a cup of heavy cream and let it just heat through before serving. Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and a smile.

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Pecan pie is probably my all-time favorite pie. Unfortunately because this pie is almost always made with corn syrup I usually either forgo it or eat it and then feel bad about myself. But I have found a way to make my pie and eat it too.

Pecan pie with no corn syrup. No GMOs to worry about and replacing it with a healthy substitute. That’s win-win in my book!

I started with this recipe. As you are probably aware, I can rarely leave a recipe as is. So I used pure maple syrup instead of the cane syrup they used. I also cut back on the sugar from 1 cup to ¾ of a cup. (As it turns out, it was still too sweet and next time I’ll scale back even further on the sugar.) Other than that, I left it as is.

I will admit that I used a store bought pie crust for this. (Serious kung faux pas.) But in my defense, I am mom to a now-crawling baby and am short on time and was not playing super mom that day. And it was an organic crust!

The pie turned out looking beautiful. (A little too perfect looking, thanks to the crust, but oh well. This post is not about the crust.) I was amazed. I delivered it to my Superbowl party friends with both pride and trepidation, because you are never sure how a pie turned out until it’s tasted. And bringing a pie with a slice missing to a friend’s house is just bad form.

The texture of the filling turned out nicely. Maybe not quite as spongy as is achieved with corn syrup, but it delivered on flavor and the texture was good. We felt like it did need more filling for the size of the pie and the amount of pecans, though, so I will probably ramp up the maple syrup and eggs for round two while still reducing the sugar. As I mentioned, it was very sweet.

In the end it was a successful first-time pecan pie. Yes, it was my first. And here’s another factoid – last Thanksgiving I made my first pumpkin pie. Shocking!!

I recommend giving this recipe a whirl and adding your own flair to it. It’s definitely a great place to start for a corn syrup free Southern pee-can pie!

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