Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Capellini Pomodoro

This bowl of beautiful cherry tomatoes, fresh picked from the garden, talked to me the other night.

"Make us into something delicious, please" they said.
"But what? What can you do with cherry tomatoes, other than throw into a salad?" the Witch wondered.
"Pomodoro" they replied. "Capellini Pomodoro"

Pomodoro, well that's a fresh tomato sauce, so yes! Why not? Cherry tomatoes could very well become pomodoro sauce, after all its supposed to be fresh, light and NOT marinara. When I think pomodoro I think summer garden, fresh herbs, light pasta. Summer garden & its bounty, check! Fresh herbs, check! Light pasta, check! Capellini pomodoro it is!

I added a bit of white wine to enhance the tomatoes tart flavor and chicken stock to extend the sauce while keeping the oil low. A few cloves of garlic makes everything happy and its pastas best friend. In less than 10 minutes, from start to finish, I had a satisfying dinner that everyone enjoyed.

Capellini Pomodoro
Makes 2 servings
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c chicken stock
2 T white wine
fresh basil
salt & pepper
1/2 box capellini or angle hair pasta

Quarter the tomatoes and mince the garlic.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling salt it heavily, should taste as salty as sea water, and cook the pasta according to directions.

While pasta cooks make the pomodoro sauce by heating a sautee pan over medium high heat. Add the oil, once its hot add the cherry tomatoes and toss to coat evenly. Add the garlic, stir well and often to avoid burning the garlic.

Add the wine and stock, simmer until reduced by half. Add salt & pepper and basil.

Once pasta is al dente drain and add to the tomato sauce, tossing to coat evenly.

Serve with shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople Recipe calculator
2 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 296.3
Total Fat 8.6 g
Saturated Fat 1.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 5.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 822.8 mg
Potassium 216.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 47.1 g
Dietary Fiber 3.0 g
Sugars 1.0 g
Protein 8.2 g

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Raspberry Jam

Jellies and jams are a lot of fun to make. Oh sure, it might seem a little intimidating with all the steps involved, and it does seem a little daunting, the whole cooking food now, but preserving it to eat later. These 'old fashioned' techniques have served our mothers, grandmothers and beyond for many years, it helped them extend the harvest of hard won crops and provide food for families throughout the winter. Its a real shame that these 'old fashioned' arts are becoming endangered, and why not really? The Kitchen Witch will be the first to admit its a LOT easier to go to your local grocery & grab a jar of jam off the shelf, than it is to crush the fruit, boil the fruit, sterilize the jars, pour hot syrup into jars and process in a water bath. But once you've tasted homemade jams & jellies, no store bought jar will ever be the same.

The Kitchen Witch is NOT a jelly/jam/preserving specialist. She has, however, read a lot of material about the canning/preserving process and has enough kitchen skills, and equipment, to pull it off. The equipment was an inheritance from the Husband's grandmother in Nebraska. The Witch was delighted to be the recipient of a water bath processor, a pressure canner, tons of jars, rings & new lids as well as freezer containers, the fruit crusher/strainer and everything else you'd need to can a garden's bounty. All this equipment has been tried and tested by at least 2 generations before mine, and I feel a special kinship to those women when I use their canning equipment.

The fruit is straight from the Witches' back yard. Raspberries occupy a back corner of the yard and provide the bright red fruits for this jam. If you don't have a raspberry patch in your back yard, check farmers markets for fresh seasonal fruit or even craigslist, there are lots of people who have fruit trees in their yards and don't need, want or desire the actual fruits. Recently I've seen ads for crab apples, apples and other jamable fruits. All for free, I might add!

All the measurements are in pounds for this recipe, I feel that's the most accurate way of measuring the juice and sugar here, since all fruit produces different amounts of juice. One last note: please don't let the overwhelming amount of sugar used in jam/jellying scare you off. The sugar plays a few roles in the whole process; in addition to sweetening the fruits it also assists in the jelling process. Artificial sugar substitutes can not be used in this recipe, some natural sugars like honey can be used according to information out there. If you are looking to use honey in place of sugar please check a reputable source for the correct canning formula, its not as simple as 2 cups sugar = 2 cups honey, unfortunately. Here are a few good sources: Ball canning and home canning.

Raspberry Jam
makes about 6-8 jars
2.75 lbs raspberry juice (fruit that has been pressed thru a mesh sieve) (about 5.5 cups)
2.12 lbs cane sugar
1 box pectin

Sterilize 8 jelly jars by washing them in soapy water, rinsing then boiling in rapidly boiling water for 10 minutes. Leave jars in hot water until ready to use.

Press fruit through a cone shaped fruit strainer. Discard seeds and pulp once seeds start to come through the holes in the stainer. Believe me its not worth the excessive seeds for the small amount of juice you get.

Heat the juice and sugar in a large pot. I use my pasta/stock pot. The syrup really expands as it boils so make sure you've got plenty of room for expansion.

Once syrup starts to boil sprinkle on the pectin packet. Stir well to dissolve the pectin powder.

Bring to a rapid boil and cook for 10 minutes. A rapid boil is when you can't knock the bubbles down by stirring. Stir every few minutes to ensure even cooking and avoiding scorch spots.

~*~Kitchen Witch Tip: Be sure to sterilize all implements that will come in contact with the jam by boiling in rapidly boiling water for 10 minutes minimum. Do not touch any surface that will come in contact with food, IE jars, use a jar lifter and don't touch the lip or inner surface.~*~

Using a jar lifter remove jar from boiling water. I like to work on a sheet pan lined with an old towel for ease of clean up as well as stability for the jars. Place a sterilized canning funnel on top of the jar and using a sterilized ladle, ladle hot jam syrup into the jar, leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Place a new lid on top. Do not reuse the lids, the sealing compound is only good once. Put a ring on top of the lid and tighten it to finger tight.

Repeat with remaining jam and jars.

Place sealed jars back into the boiling water bath and process in rapidly boiling water for 15 minutes.

Remove jars from water and allow to cool completely. This can take 12 hours or more. Once fully cooled check the seal by pressing on the lid, there should be no give nor should it make a clicking sound. If it does then a proper seal hasn't been achieved. This jar is still fine to eat but it should be consumed as soon as possible and stored in the refrigerator. Properly sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 years, if they last that long.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
makes 8 jars: 8 servings per jar
Amount Per Serving
Calories 71.5
Total Fat 0.1 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 0.0 mg
Potassium 29.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 18.0 g
Dietary Fiber 1.3 g
Sugars 15.8 g
Protein 0.2 g

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meatballs & red sauce

I love reading other peoples food blogs, I gain so much inspiration from seeing what everyone else out there is making. Meatballs were inspired by Jenn over at Jenn's Food Journey. Jenn makes delicious things, is a grilling guru and an all around great person. Check out her blog, you'll be glad you did.

I don't know why I don't make meatballs more often. These were a major hit, the little Witch ate 3 - which is saying a LOT! I had them leftover for lunch and they were fantastic, and this is coming from the queen of leftover hatred! They come together relatively quickly and make a weeknight dinner feel special. Meatballs will be making more appearances around here, that's for sure!

I sautee my onions and garlic before adding them to the meat mixture. Since these balls are on the smaller side they don't cook as long, and raw onions and garlic wouldn't have enough cooking time to lose their pungency. I also like the added flavors I get from browning them first, then deglazing with a splash of wine. The wine adds a nice acidity and allows all those yummy browned bits to end up in your meatball, where they belong.

The size of the meatballs is a personal preference. I've made large ones & small ones. The small ones seem to be our favorite, you get more yummy browned outside goodness with the small ones. And they fit nicely on a sub roll, too.

Meatballs & red sauce

makes 4 servings, 5 balls each
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 onion diced
4-5 cloves garlic minced
1/4 c bread crumbs
2-3 T milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
4 sprigs fresh oregano, 2 sprigs minced, 2 left whole
2 T white wine
kosher salt & pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
1 T olive oil

Dice the onions and mince garlic first. Heat a large non reactive skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and once hot, add the onions. Cook onions about 3-4 minutes then add the garlic, stirring well. Once the onions and garlic lose their raw smell and start to brown, deglaze the pan with the white wine. Scrape the bits of fond up off the bottom of the pan. Remove the onions & garlic from the pan and allow to cool slightly.

~*~Kitchen Witch Tip: A non reactive pan is either stainless steel or non stick. Reactive would be cast iron or aluminum. Because these metals are untreated by teflon or enamel (like Le Crueset) it will have a chemical reaction to the acid in the tomatoes, wine or anything acidic. It causes the dish to have a metallic, off flavor. If you're unsure about your pan please ask the Kitchen Witch on facebook or in the comments, she's happy to help!*~*

Combine the bread crumbs with the milk and allow to absorb for 5 minutes, while onions are cooling.

In a mixing bowl combine the ground beef, broken up with fingers for ease of mixing, with the egg, 3/4 of the cooled onions and garlic, soaked breadcrumbs, Parmesan, minced oregano, about 1/2 t kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Mix together well trying not to compress the meat too much. I find that using my fingers in a whisking motion helps keep things light and not compressed. Once the ingredients are thoroughly mixed form into balls. I used a cookie scoop to make smaller 1 oz size meatballs, perfect for sandwiches or pasta topping.

Cook meatballs in the same pan that the onions and garlic was cooked in. Heat pan and place meatballs in a circle. Allow to cook on medium heat until bottoms are browned. Turn meatballs 2-3 times for even browning.

~*~Kitchen Witch Tip: It is difficult to keep the round shape when pan frying meatballs, therefore if you desire you can bake them in the oven. In a 400 oven bake meatballs until golden browned and internal temperature is 175.~*~

In a blender combine the can of diced tomatoes, leaves of remaining oregano sprigs and remaining onions and garlic. Blend until smooth.

When meatballs are about 80% cooked remove from the pan. Pour the tomato sauce into the pan, deglazing and scraping any bits up from the bottom. Put the meatballs back into the pan, cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Serve on sliced bread for a sandwich or over cooked pasta.
NOTE: This does not make a lot of red sauce, its really more suited for sandwiches than pasta. If serving with pasta the Witch recommends doubling the sauce recipe.

Nutrition Facts
provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
4 Servings, 5 meatballs each
Amount Per Serving
Calories 428.5
Total Fat 30.5 g
Saturated Fat 11.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 13.9 g
Cholesterol 143.7 mg
Sodium 906.2 mg
Potassium 456.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 9.4 g
Dietary Fiber 1.0 g
Sugars 2.0 g
Protein 26.1 g

Monday, August 16, 2010

Roasted corn, potato & chipotle chowder

Another wonderful summer soup! This one was inspired by the veggies in the fridge that needed to be used up TODAY! You know the ones, usually a victim of a fantastic sale, in this case: corn, 5/$1. 4 ears and over 8 days later the corn was a bit past its prime. Not quite compost fodder, but also not hydrated enough to be eaten off the cob.

What do you do with corn that's dehydrated and needs to be used? Roast it in the oven! You could use the grill but I was lazy and wanted to stay in the AC. I've talked before about roasting peppers indoors, and the same steps apply to corn. A word of caution, as the corn roasts kernels will pop and explode. It's fairly loud, and as long as you keep your face a safe distance away, something that's not too hard to do around a hot broiler, you'll be fine. But be aware of some noises, its completely normal.

Chipotles were added for a few reasons, a bit of spice is always nice in a chowder, especially one consisting of corn and potatoes, which can be on the bland side. Chipoltes are dried, smoked jalapenos. The adobo sauce that they're packed in is tomato, onion and spices. The smoking of the chipolte adds an amazing flavor, reminiscent of bacon almost, and worked perfectly with the roasted corn and earthy potatoes. Finally, the chipolte and adobo sauce adds a delightful blush and burst of spiciness to the soup, elevating it to a delicious chowder that's full of veggies and flavor to boot.

Roasted corn, potato & chipolte chowder
makes 8 servings
2 ears corn, roasted
2 green chilies roasted & peeled
2 chipolte in adobo finely minced
dollop of the adobo sauce from the can (1T approx)
4 small yellow potatoes diced
1/2 onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 t cumin
3 T butter
4 T flour
2 cups milk
4 cups chicken stock
4 oz grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
kosher salt & pepper

Roast the corn and green chilies in an oven under the broiler until the corn is slightly charred all over and the chilies are blackened and blistered. Allow to cool. Peel chilies and finely dice. Cut corn off the cob, discard cobs.

In a large soup pot heat the butter until melted. Add the onion and garlic, cooking until the raw smell cooks out, about 5 minutes.

Add the flour and whisk well to incorporate. It will be quite dry, this is ok.
SLOWLY whisk in the milk, about 1/2 cup at a time. The 1st addition of milk will make a very thick paste, each further addition will smooth it out, whisk constantly to avoid lumps.

Add the potatoes, corn, chilies and chipoltes along with the chicken stock and stir to incorporate. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Once potatoes are tender and cooked through add the cheese and stir well to melt cheese into soup. Once cheese is melted and thoroughly incorporated, soup's on.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
8 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 239.1
Total Fat 10.8 g
Saturated Fat 6.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.1 g
Cholesterol 33.9 mg
Sodium 938.3 mg
Potassium 476.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 27.3 g
Dietary Fiber 2.8 g
Sugars 4.4 g
Protein 9.3 g

Friday, August 13, 2010

Minestrone soup

Soup might not be something you think about too much in the middle of summer, but I love it any time of year. Not only is soup delicious, but its a fabulous way to feed your family both an inexpensive and healthy meal. This version of minestrone is a lighter stock based soup rather than the tomato based that you may be used to. I prefer the lighter broth version for summer, the tomato based type tends to be heavier and more chili like, in this Witches' opinion.

All of the veggies in this soup, except the zucchini and the can of beans, came from the farmers market. The zucchini came from my garden, the can of beans came from the store. There's no real method or reason behind the vegetation I used in this soup,, nothing screams MINESTRONE!; I simply used what was available from the market and garden and relied on oregano and thyme to flavor the base. There's just something about the way the heady scent of oregano perfumes the broth and weaves the flavors of the veggies together. Potatoes might not be traditional to minestrone, but I had them, and enjoy them more in soup than pasta. Pasta tends to get too swollen and over cooked while the baby gold potatoes stay firm yet creamy.

When topped with the pungent flavor of Asiago or Parmesan cheese its pure heaven in a bowl. Add a bit of homemade bread for dipping and dinner's on. Summertime is the perfect time for a bowl of goodness, especially when its as delicious as this minestrone is. Enjoy!

Minestrone soup
makes 8 large servings
3 tomatoes, peeled and diced (2.5 cups)
2 carrots diced
1 onion diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 bell pepper diced
1 zucchini diced
1 can cannelloni beans (white kidney beans), drained & rinsed
10 cups chicken stock
1/2 c white wine
4 sprigs each thyme and oregano
1 T olive oil
kosher salt and pepper

Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, put in an ice bath immediately to stop cooking and loosen skins. Peel skins and dice tomatoes. Reserve.

Dice all veggies, drain & rinse the beans. Bundle the herbs together & tie together for easy removal.

Heat a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the oil, once hot sautee the carrots, onions and bell pepper, stirring often, for 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic, stirring often, and cook another 5 minutes or until the raw sharp garlic smell cooks out and it starts to take on a nice toasty aroma.

Add the chicken stock, stirring up any veg that may be sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add salt and pepper along with the herb bundle and remaining veggies and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the herb bundle before serving. Taste for season adding more salt & pepper if needed. Serve with fresh Parmesan cheese and bread.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
8 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 113.7
Total Fat 3.4 g
Saturated Fat 0.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 1,474.2 mg
Potassium 497.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 16.7 g
Dietary Fiber 4.1 g
Sugars 1.7 g
Protein 5.2 g

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


For over 30 years the Kitchen Witch has hated, despised and been revolted by mayonnaise. Why, I really don't know. Something about the texture, gloopy and gloppy, the flavor, kinda sour and strange, and the fact that 'everyone' said that I SHOULD like it was enough to convince me that I would NOT indeed like it, thankyouverymuch! Then one day an epiphany struck: most everything that's store bought is better, much much better, when homemade. The Kitchen Witch wondered about mayonnaise, would homemade be better than store bought? There was only one way to find out, that was to make some!

Turns out that homemade mayo isn't that hard, as long as you have a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. I've tried 3 batches of mayo now: the first was in the blender using Alton Browns recipe, the 2nd was Alton's recipe again but in the stand mixer and the last was this recipe provided by Aunt Ruth and Uncle Gene - slightly Kitchen Witched, of course. Here's my findings:

The Alton recipe has great flavor. The blender method did not work for me, it could be because my blender has a large carafe. There were chunks of unprocessed egg yolk in the blender version and it also broke & separated. It was NOT pretty I guarantee you that.

I remade the same recipe in my KitchenAid stand mixer and had much better results. The mayo didn't separate and had a nice emulsion. I also liked how Alton's recipe calls for adding the vinegar in 2 installments to denature the yolks which allows them to emulsify the oil better. Fantastic tip AB!

The 3rd is the one I'm posting here. I added a few things from AB's recipe to this one to make it more my own. It calls for a whole egg vs the yolk only and the emulsification was easier to achieve but it wasn't as thick as the yolk only version. It is however the one that I photographed so I'm posting it for you all :)

All in all I have to say that homemade mayonnaise is a lot better than store bought. The lack of artificial anything is fantastic and the flavor is astronomically better. I liked the consistency of the yolk only version so I'll be playing with these recipes more. Look for more mayo posts to come soon. Best of all I can now say that the Kitchen Witch is no longer a mayo hater, as long as its homemade that is.

makes about 20 servings, 1 tablespoon each
1 egg
1/2 t dry mustard powder
1/4 t paprika
dash ground red pepper or cayenne
1/2 t kosher salt
1 c oil (canola is fine)

Mix the vinegar & lemon juice together In a small bowl. Divide the oil into 2 bowls, 1/2 c each. Set aside.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer add your egg, spices and 1/2 of the vinegar mixture. With the whisk attachment beat the eggs until they are foamy, about 30 seconds.

Turn the speed up to 10 on the mixer and SLOWLY, and I mean slowly, add the oil, a few drops at a time. You'll want to slowly drizzle the oil in as the emulsification starts to take form.

~*~Kitchen Witch Tip: If you have a turkey baster use it to dispense the oil into the eggs. It will make your mayo making a lot easier. No baster? No problem! Simply use a bowl that will pour out in a small stream. The key to successful mayo is the slow introduction of oil to make an emulsification.~*~

Once you've added the 1st 1/2 cup of oil scrape down the sides, add the remaining vinegar mix, whisk until incorporated well. Then start to add the last 1/2 cup oil SLOWLY.

You can really see the mayo starting to come together here, its getting thick and rich.

The entire process takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Don't rush this or you will end up with an oil slick on top of some foamy eggs. I tried to outsmart it & rush things, it didn't go so well. Its gross, believe me.

After 20 minutes of whisking on HIGH speed you've got mayo!

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople Recipe Calculator
20 Servings, 1 Tablespoon each
Amount Per Serving
Calories 100.6
Total Fat 11.2 g
Saturated Fat 0.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 6.5 g
Cholesterol 10.6 mg
Sodium 10.9 mg
Potassium 4.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 0.2 g
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g
Sugars 0.1 g
Protein 0.3 g
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