Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pasta add-ins

We eat a lot of noodles with red sauce at our house (it's the only way I can get my kids to eat zucchini, bell pepper and carrots), so I've had a lot of time to figure out what add-ins we like.

I take 1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I like Ragu Robusto line) and 1 14 ounce can of tomatoes as my base.

Then, I saute in a little olive oil:
1/2 pound chicken sausage (note: Arizonans, I love Sprouts' "Mild Arizona Chicken Sausage")
1/2 pound ground beef
1 bell pepper (yellow is my favorite)
2 stalks celery
handful of baby carrots
1 zucchini, grated (I'm not a fan, but in the sauce, it just melts away)
1 med onion
3-4 garlic cloves, minced

At the end, if I'm feeling really fancy:
1 T fresh oregano
1/4 c of basil

Then, I add, oh, a lot of goat cheese (1-2 ounces) to Nate's and my portions.

Do you have pasta add-ins?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bean Cassoulet with Fennel Spiced Chicken and Roasted Vegetables

Here's a picture for this recipe, but I don't think it makes it look very appetizing. Really, it's quite tasty, and my kids didn't even notice that they were eating vegetables.

Bean Cassoulet with Fennel Spiced Chicken and Roasted Vegetables
Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello,

12 medium Brussels sprouts 2 to 2 1/2 cups
2 medium red onions
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium parsnips
3 medium carrots
3 celery stalks, peeled
Finely ground sea salt
1/4 cup Fennel Spice Rub, recipe follows

1 (4 pound) chicken plus 2 bone-in chicken breasts I've used 1 chicken (w/o the additional chicken breasts), which adds more flavor, but I prefer the convenience of 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts when I'm making it for my family
2 to 3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 pound pancetta, cut into strips about 1/2-inch thick and 1-inch long, optional
1 pound giant white beans, such as Corona, precooked or canned with liquid I use 2 cans undrained

Trim the Brussel sprouts by removing the tough outer leaves and stems. Halve lengthwise. Cook the Brussel sprouts in a cast iron casserole or oven-proof skillet in boiling salted water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. I use a Dutch oven.

Peel the onion, cut through the stem into 6 equal wedges, and trim any ragged tops. Wipe dry the casserole dish and heat 1/4 cup oil in it. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onions. While the onions are cooking, halve the parsnips lengthwise, then in bite-size wedges and add to the onions. While the parsnips and onions are cooking, cut the carrots and celery in the same manner as the parsnips and add to the vegetables already cooking in the casserole dish. Continue cooking the vegetables until lightly browned on all sides, 1 to 2 minutes, turning as needed. Add the cooked Brussels sprouts to the dish. Season with salt, to taste. Cook until all the vegetables are well browned, about 10 minutes, turning as needed. Remove the vegetables to a bowl and season with 2 tablespoons of Fennel Spice Rub to coat. Remove the vegetables from the casserole dish and set aside. I deglaze the pan with 1/4 c of cup of chicken broth and poured over vegetables.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the chicken into bone-in serving pieces (2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, and 8 half pieces of breast). Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil in the casserole dish over high heat. Season the chicken pieces well on both sides with the remaining Fennel Spice Rub. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chicken pieces skin side down, in batches if necessary. Cook until the chicken is dark brown on all sides, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the dish. Tilt the pan and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and pancetta, and cook until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the beans and their liquid into the casserole dish with the pancetta. Bring to a simmer. Add the reserved vegetables and the chicken, skin side up. Roast, uncovered, until the chicken is fully cooked and the surface is nicely browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before serving warm.

Fennel Spice Rub:

1 cup fennel seeds
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons white peppercorns
3 tablespoons grey salt ummm, I don't know what this is, so I just use kosher salt

Put the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns in a heavy pan over medium heat. Watch carefully, tossing frequently so the seeds toast evenly. When light brown and fragrant, pour the seeds onto a plate to cool. They must be cool before grinding, or they will gum up the blades. Pour the seeds into a blender and add the salt. Blend to a fine powder, shaking the blender occasionally to redistribute the seeds. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar in a cool, dry place, or freeze.
Yield: 1 1/4 cups

I think everyone knows me, but hopefully, that will change as we get more contributors. I love all food. Really, anything--oh, except for parts of animals not commonly consumed in this part of the world--so, no monkey brains for me, thanks...

I love trying new recipes, especially with ingredients I haven't used before. My world was a little rocked when my oldest son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies (dairy, soy, egg, peanut, seafood). I took it pretty hard that I might never be able to enjoy pizza or Chinese food with him. Silly, huh?

So, I'm always on the look out for recipes for him, but I also enjoy trying stuff that won't work for him (I like to load up the freezer with portions of safe meals for him, so I can still make other things). My goal is to post recipes that are Top 8 allergen-free but don't taste like they're hypoallergenic.

I'm excited to have such a great group of cooks on our blog!