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A Great Pizza Crust Recipe

pizza crust

Ah. There is nothing better than a great pizza on a nice Sunday afternoon with a great bottle of wine. And this pizza crust is easy to make and ready to go.

For those who care, this pizza is one of my favorites, with onions, garlic, sausage, a little green pepper and some mushrooms, with way bunches of cheese (Provalone and mozzarella and some pepperoni and basil on the top. You can, of course, make your own.

Just so you’ll understand, I made this after a rather unpleasant and (I hope) providential visit to the hospital late last week, so pardon me if this is a bit short today. We’ll try making up for things as we go along here.

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Shrimp and Curry Soup

shrimp and curry soup

Shrimp and curry soup is something that originally came from a New England and Soup Factory Cookbook, something I used for more than a number of good soups. And after trying it a few times and making some adjustments, it turned out to be as good a shrimp soup as I’ve ever tried. And while I tend to keep my own home made curry around, it works just as well with good ol’ curry powder from the grocery store. The main thing is to try the curry, adding more or less to suit your taste.

The secret here, by the way, is not the shrimp or the curry, but the wonderful way the soup uses okra, which adds color and otherwise just brightens up the whole soup. It’s amazing and really represents something new (for me) in a soup. Don’t even try making this without the okra.

Otherwise, while it looks like there is a lot going on here, there really isn’t much going on that you wouldn’t find in almost any good soup. 

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Brussels Sprouts with Leeks, Lemon and Pasta

brussels sprouts with leeks, lemon and pasta

One of the great troubles I find in cooking is getting good side dishes to go with whatever else I’m serving. With few fresh vegetables available from local sources, you really don’t have a lot to choose from. But this one, you can serve either as a light main serving or as a side, depending on the situation, and the Brussels sprouts with leeks and pasta are very good in both cases.

I saw the first such recipe on a Bon Appetite site and after researching it, found several others that were similar, and decided to make my own version, with a little bit more pasta and a lot more lemon and garlic. You can play with this recipe a good bit without ruining it, and come up with your own version, if you like. It’s really that easy. And I love the nice brownness that really makes the Brussels sprouts come alive.

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Red-Eye Shoulder Stew

red-eye shoulder stew

Red-eye is one of those things that the folks in the South, particularly, can’t (or don’t) do without for very long. Me? I can usually get by ok without that good ol’ red-eye gravy, but I can tell you this: if you’ve ever had really good red-eye gravy, then eventually you’ll  be back for more. It has that magnetic pull to it that you just can’t stay away from it forever.  All that’s to say that it was that bacon/coffee mixture that prompted me to start looking for a great stew that could use those same flavors. 

So first of all, if you’re not from the South, you probably have no idea what red-eye gravy is. In a nutshell, it’s a pork fat gravy (usually from ham, bacon or sausage) that’s made with very strong coffee. I’ve seen it used a lot of ways, but mostly it’s just served with the ham itself, and it’s great that way. But this time around, I had some beef shoulder, some veggies and I wanted to see if I could make a shoulder stew with coffee that would have some of the great red-eye taste. 

That’s pretty much how it came to be, and while it may not be necessary, I made this in a slow cooker, so in the end, it really took very little effort and the taste was extremely good (though I may mess with the spices a bit more next time around). And yes, the coffee definitely comes through.

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Swedish Meatballs, Perfect for Christmas

swedish meatballs

Meatballs are one of those things I really love (as you can see by the many posts I’ve pout here) and these Swedish meatballs are one of my favorites. They’ve got an interesting texture, unlike meatballs of any other kind I’ve had. The sauce, however, is the winner here. There are a couple of ways you can make it, assuming you have some really good mushroom soup handy, but you can also make it with just good old mushroom soup from the can. 

If you have good creamy mushroom sauce, skip the milk in the recipe below and just add some sour cream to give it that nice body. If you have mushroom soup, add the milk and you’re fine. You can also add pre-cooked shredded mushrooms to the mix, if you like.

I’m guessing the soft texture that comes with the meatballs is from 3/4 cup of milk that’s added to the meatball mix, because there doesn’t seem to be anything else different. In fact, as far as I know, I don’t remember seeing milk in any other meatball mix, come to think of it. Whatever the cause, the meatballs come out fresh and will definitely win your heart. Promise.

The Swedish meatballs are great for Christmas and also can make a delicious appetizer, if you wish.

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Lemon Garlic Shrimp Alfredo

lemon garlic shrimp alfredo

This lemon and garlic shrimp Alfredo is, believe it or not, a great Christmas dish around our house, in part because you can still get some very good shrimp this late in the year. And there really isn’t any reason I can think of to have a nice lemon garlic and cheesy Alfredo sauce just about any time of the year. Period.

The dish starts with a garlic lemony Alfredo sauce, which is nothing but butter, garlic, cream, a little lemon juice and zest, and cheese. And apart from waiting for the cream to reduce a good bit, there really isn’t much to make it. The shrimp I like to fry in some pancetta and (a little more) garlic, which takes only a little time, as well. (You can serve the pancetta with the shrimp or not — your call.)

Add a little fettuccine and your done. It’s a very nice, quick fix dinner or as a small plate for lunch.

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A Little Vegetarian Minestrone

Minestrone

Minestrone is a staple throughout Italy, and while we will from time to time feature others of this soup, this particular vegetarian version is actually one of our favorites, for a lot of reasons. Unlike a lot of this soup, this minestrone has plenty of good bean broth for starters and lots and lots of fall roast vegetables. 

If you’re not as well-versed in minestrone (like most people aren’t) it is actually a very ancient soup made mainly from whatever veggies you happened to have around the kitchen. This version, like most these days in Italy, has tomatoes and beans and broth from the beans as the main ingredient, which gives it a very vegetable taste that we happen to like a lot. And fortunately, the broth itself really doesn’t take so very long to make. And this one has leeks, turnips, carrots, onions, celery and a little basil and oregano to spice up the flavor. 

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