Sunday, March 15, 2009

A new sign of spring, and weekend cooking

As I type this, it is 55 degrees outside. Hard to believe that back on Wednesday we had high temperatures in the single digits!

Sunday morning was so nice that I went running, even though I did a challenging 17 miler the previous day. The temperature was right around freezing, but skies were clear and the winds were light. A gorgeous morning, no doubt.

My legs were tired, so it was a slow and easy run, and I put in 5 miles total. There was another pretty sunrise. I saw both of the eagles at the nest, cardinals are singing like crazy, and I heard another owl ("The owls are not what they seem!"). A very good morning!

And today there was a new sign of spring; I have officially removed the flannel sheets from my bed and replaced them with my regular summer sheets! I am really hoping I don't need the flannel anymore this season, so call me a cautious optimist. :)

This just in; cooking is fun.

In weekend cooking news, on Saturday I made a recipe from my "Urban Italian" cookbook. This is called "Rigatoni Pugliese," supposedly a pasta dish in the style of the Pulia region of Italy.

The dish consisted of Italian sausage, homemade tomato sauce, chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), and borccoli rabe (or in my case, broccolini, as I couldn't fine broccoli rabe!).

Rigatoni Pugliese from "Urban Italian"



What made the dish interesting was that you pureed half of the can of chickpeas and added it to the tomato sauce and Italian sausage mixture. This created something of a rich, luxurious, and creamy texture without the addition of extra fat. Tossed with big rigatoni noodle, you have some very good and hearty stuff! It only took an hour from start to finish, so it was a quick and easy dish as well. Definitely worthy of making again.

For tonight's dinner, I found some beautiful, meaty short ribs at one of my favorite small town meat markets ($3.49 a pound, as opposed to $8.99 a pound at a major local grocery store for short ribs about half the size). This recipe was also of the Italian variety, however it came from a different book. I made Mario Batali's "Short Ribs in Barolo" from his "Molto Italiano" cookbook.

Anyhow, the braise was as simple as it gets; pancetta, short ribs, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, wine (not Barolo, however, just an inexpensive zinfandel), some of my homemade tomato sauce, fresh thyme, and some bay leaves. The only real secret is to brown the hell out of the meat (I had my windows and porch door wide open!) to get some good color, then brown the hell out of your veggies, and then deglaze the pot with the wine and scrape up all of those tasty bits that your browned the hell out of! Cook low and slow until tender.

Mario's braised short ribs



Mmmm...so good. The beef came out tender and succulent, and the beefy, tomatoey, winey braising liquid could stand on its own as a pasta sauce. Yum! Another winner recipe worthy of making again.

Now I've got some great leftovers for my lunches this week. :)

Until next time,

Jean
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