Afghans – Kiwi Cookie Bars

These are wonderful cookie bars from New Zealand, which will absolutely amaze you with their sweetness and their texture. They are easy to make and will satisfy anyones sweet tooth. Children go crazy for these.


Ingredients


1/2 lb. Butter
1/3 cup Sugar
1 cup shredded Coconut
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Flour
2 Tbsp. Cocoa

1 1/2 cups Corn Flakes

Cream together the butter and sugar, and add coconut and vanilla. Combine the flour and cocoa and add to the previous mixture. 

Lastly add the cornflakes and mix gently. Bake in a buttered Pyrex dish for bars or lightly greased baking sheet for cookies for 15 min at 350F.


Allow to cool, cover liberally with chocolate icing and walnuts.

Salsa Pomodoro- This may be the perfect tomato sauce.

This is a recipe that I tried to recreate for years after tasting it on a trip to Italy. I had never tasted anything with such a lovely tomato flavor and it seemed so simple. 
However as we all know, simple is not always easy to figure out, but after much experimentation and much help from Marcella Hazan, who is a goddess, I found the right combination. It is so simple, you will think that I’ve left something out, but this is it.
Perfect with a choice of spaghetti or linguine.
Ingredients

1 stick or 8 Tbsp. of salted Butter
2- 28oz. cans of San Marzano Tomatoes loosely chopped, or fresh tomatoes if available
1 large Onion, peeled and cut in half
1 Tbsp. Salt
 
Melt the butter, add the tomatoes, onion, salt and cook uncovered for 1 to 1 ½ hours. 
 
When done, the onion can be removed and the sauce can be served as is, or the onion can be blended into the sauce for a more robust flavor. 
 
Serve over pasta with lots of Parmesano Reggiano.

Pasta with Red Pepper, Butter, Garlic, Olive Oil and Lemon

This is simple, quick and great. It is my meal, when I’m craving pasta but don’t have much time to prepare anything.

Please don’t even think about using bottled lemon juice as the kick comes from the fresh juice. Pure comfort food for me, and something I crave desperately when I’m traveling away from home.

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 clove fresh Garlic, crushed
Juice of one Lemon
2 tsp of Red Chili Pepper flakes 
Parmesan Cheese

Start your water in a large pot. While your waiting for the water to boil, blend all the ingredients in a deep serving dish. After the water begins to boil, add 1 tbsp of salt and add your pasta. I prefer long dry pasta like spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and pour into the bowl. Allow to sit for 30 seconds, to warm the oil/butter mixture and then toss, add parmesan cheese and serve.


Risotto alla Funghi Porcini

This dish can be made with dried or fresh wild mushrooms, and the most common is Porcini mushrooms. However, I have made it with fresh morels, chanterelles and it is still wonderful.

If you are using dried mushrooms, then make sure you follow the instructions for reconstituting them and retain the water for mixing into the stock.

Ingredients 

4  to 6 cups of weak Beef or Vegetable Stock with water strained from dried mushrooms added, if available
3 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil, don’t use extra virgin olive oil, the flavor is too strong
2 cups Arborio Rice
3 Tbsp. finely chopped white Onion.
½ cup Parmesan Reggiano
¼ cup of dried reconstituted Mushrooms chopped or 1 cup of fresh wild mushrooms, loosely chopped.
Salt and pepper to taste

Note: Follow the directions on the package to reconstitute the mushrooms and save the water they soaked in and strain it and add to the stock.

Begin by melting 2 Tbsp. of the butter and all the oil in a heavy saucepan. Then sauté the onion until it becomes clear.

Using medium heat, add the rice and stirring constantly, sauté it for 1 min. until it is completely coated with the oil and butter mixture.

Using a ladle, start adding in the simmering stock, ½ to ¾ cup at a time. Stir constantly until the stock is absorbed and then add more. If you are using the dried reconstituted mushrooms, then add them in along with the salt and pepper after 10 min. and continue the cycle until the rice is soft but still “al dente” Normally about 20 minutes, maybe more depending on the rice and temperature.

If you are using fresh mushrooms, then add them in for the last 5 min., of cooking only.

Now, turn off the heat, add the rest of the butter and the Parmesan cheese and serve in individual shallow bowls and serve immediately. You may add additional cheese at the table.

Italian Sausage and Peppers

Since it\’s a bit cloudy today and cool, maybe an Italian sauce would be in order. This sauce is hearty, easy to make and really good for those autumn nights. I will often make this at least once a week, because it is quick and no drama after a long day at work. And…it is great the day after.


If pork doesn’t work for you, this can easily be made with Italian turkey sausage as well. Serve it with rigatoni and lots of Parmesan and/or Romano cheese.

Ingredients

2 lbs of Italian Sausage links, hot or mild, cut into 1-inch pieces.
2 28oz cans of diced or crushed Tomatoes; San Marzano’s are best.
4 Tbsp Garlic, mashed and roughly chopped.
1 Onion, chopped
1 Red Pepper, chopped
4 Anchovy fillets, finely chopped – optional
2 tsp Chili Flakes
2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Freshly ground Black Pepper
½ cup Marsala wine
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
¼ tsp ground Nutmeg

Begin by browning of the sausage pieces in olive oil. Make sure they are cooked well, so the sauce will not be greasy. Then drain in a colander and set aside.

While the sausage is browning, heat your cast iron or heavy gauge sauce pan and add the 3 Tbsp of olive oil and then add the garlic, onions, chili flakes, anchovy filets (if desired) and peppers.

Cook until they are caramelized and soft. Add in your browned and drained sausage. Stir well and add the Marsala wine and cook until reduced slightly. Then add your tomatoes and nutmeg and simmer for 2-3 hours or as long as you like.

Stir occasionally, to keep it from sticking, and add water if it becomes too thick.

Serve with a hearty Italian red, like a Brunello

Meatloaf, Old Fashioned Goodness

As the weather starts to cool and evenings become crisp, I like a simple old-fashioned meatloaf.
This is real comfort food and when served with mashed potatoes and vegetable, it’s a well balanced meal. As an added benefit, this also makes wonderful sandwiches the day after.

Ingredients

2 lbs. of lean ground Beef
2 tbsp. Italian breadcrumbs
1 Egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 small sautéed Onion
2 Tbsp. freshly chopped Parsley
1 Tsp. Salt
Fresh ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and lightly coat the inside of a 9-inch loaf pan with a small amount of olive oil.

In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until just translucent.  Then add onion to beef with all of the other ingredients, and mix with your hands until mixed thoroughly.

Put into the loaf pan, and at this point you have the option to cover the top of the meatloaf with either ketchup or a mixture of apple sauce with 1 Tbsp of Dijon mustard.

Then put into the preheated oven and cook for 45 to 60 min. The loaf is done, when it separates from the side of the pan. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly before attempting to cut.

The perfect Chili Paste to have with your dumplings.

This is so easy and you can make a fantastic chili paste that is healthy and free of any artificial ingredients. Most store bought brands have preservatives and chemicals. This one is just chili paste and nothing else.


This is a fiery chili paste, which was shared with me from my friends in New Delhi. It is wonderful and a must for chili and garlic lovers.
Ingredients

1 lb. Red Bullet Chilies (Ripe jalapenos), or other hot red chili
2.5  oz. fresh Garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Juice of two Lemons
2 Tbsp. of Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Salt
1tsp Sugar – Optional
Grind everything together in a food processor and store in the refrigerator in a glass jar. It is better after aging for a few days to a week. It will keep for months.

Chinese Pan Fried Dumplings

I love making these, number one because they are so good and number two because it\’s fun. This would be a great weekend project for the kids.

This recipe is simple, but needs to be followed quite closely. Be sure to arrange all the ingredients, before you begin preparing the dish.


This should allow you to make 15 to 24 dumplings. You may freeze any leftovers that are uncooked, and the skins will keep well in the refrigerator or freezer.

Ingredients


Dumplings:
1 package of Dumpling Skins. Easily found at any Asian market.
½ cup each of fresh Bean Sprouts, Bamboo Shoots and Bok Choy. All finely chopped.
8 oz of Shrimp or Pork, or both, ground
1 inch piece of fresh Ginger, chopped very fine or grated.
½ tsp Sugar
1 Tbsp. Light Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1 tsp. Corn Starch

Dipping Sauce:
4 Tbsp. Light Soy Sauce
3 tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp finely chopped Green Onion
2 tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
Chili Paste, optional

Begin by finely chopping all of the ingredients to stuff the dumplings. The ingredients must be finely chopped so they can cook properly.

Take a dumpling skin and lay it flat, then add about 1-1 1/2 tsp of filling, wet the edges of the skin with water and fold over, crimping with your finger. Set aside and continue. You may also use a dumpling press, which is easy to find at any Asian market. Make as many as you want, as they freeze very well.

After the dumplings are stuffed, heat a non-stick pan with the oil and then add the dumplings to the hot oil, with their flat side down. Put as many in as will fit, leaving a little room for expansion. Brown the bottoms over medium heat, being sure not to burn them. Then carefully pour in 3 to 4 Tbsp. of water, quickly cover and cook on medium/low heat for at least 15 min., or until all the water is absorbed.

Remove carefully and serve with the dipping sauce and hot chili paste if desired.

Makes 15 to 25 dumplings

Moroccan Chicken with Onions and Honey

This is a very favorite dish of mine, which I found in Claudia Roden’s wonderful book, “Arabesque”. It is pure Moroccan simplicity which blends the ingredients to create an end result which is much more than the sum of its parts.  This dish never fails to impress and it makes the entire house smell wonderful and cozy.

Ingredients

1 lb of Shallots or baby Onions. The frozen baby onions work very well, and save you a lot of prep time.
1 Onion, chopped
½ tsp Saffron
1 tsp ground Ginger
½ tsp ground Cinnamon
8 Chicken Thighs, skinless, with bone in
1 ½ Tbsp Honey
4 oz blanched Almonds
Salt and Black Pepper
4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil


Heat the oil in a sturdy iron casserole pot, which has a top, and then sauté chopped onion until it is translucent. Stir in the saffron, ginger and cinnamon. Then add in the chicken, salt and pepper and coat well with the mixture. Allow it to cook slightly but watch it carefully that is doesn’t burn.

Add in one cup of water, the shallot/baby onions, stir and allow to cook covered for 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces and set aside. Add in the honey and add a decent amount of additional black pepper and cook until the water is gone and the mixture is thick and caramelized. Then add back the chicken pieces, cover with the sauce, sprinkle on the almonds and serve with couscous.

Serve with a dry Sancerre or Chablis.

Fettuccine with Chicken Florentine

Florentine means to be served with spinach, and its name would imply that it’s from Florence, yet I’ve never seen it in any restaurant in my travels in Italy.


I would guess it is a variation on Fettuccine Alfredo, which is a wonderful dish. I like the freshness of the spinach and feel it adds an interesting contrast to the cream.

This perfectly blends the cream, butter and freshness of the spinach to create a wonderful meal.


Ingredients

2 Chicken Breasts, boneless
2 cups of loosely torn fresh Spinach
8 oz of Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp Butter
1 green onion finely chopped
Parmesan Cheese
1/2 lb Fettuccine

Prepare the fettuccine as directed, but make sure it’s leaning towards very al dente. Drain pasta add a little butter, mix and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and when hot, add the chicken and green onions and sauté until almost done. Add the spinach and wilt it for a few minutes and then add cream and bring to a boil until it thickens.

Add in the cooked fettuccine, Parmesan cheese. Toss thoroughly and serve immediately.

This would be perfect served with a Sauvignon Blanc.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes