Sharing a seriously fun love for food

Category: Sauces

Coffee Caramel Sauce

Coffee Caramel Sauce

The deep golden amber color just hints at the flavors tucked inside – a thick and creamy caramel sauce with gorgeous notes of coffee! An absolutely luscious dessert topping!

This is another recipe I found in my Mom’s collection dating back to the early 1960s. It differs from more traditional caramel sauce recipes. Not only does it include the addition of coffee but it also uses both white and brown sugars plus light corn syrup. But it doesn’t skip that creamy factor from butter and heavy cream!

The subtle and undeniable flavor of coffee comes together in duplicate forms – fresh brewed espresso and a tad of pure coffee extract. Stir in pure vanilla extract to deepen those flavors and you’ve got one scrumptious sauce.

A few tools and tips come in handy when you’re making a caramel sauce. A reliable candy thermometer is key to the right consistency of caramel sauce and candies. You also want a heavy saucepan and one that is deep enough to restrain any bubbling up or spatters while the sauce cooks.

Resist the urge to stir frequently. Only a few stirs to mix the ingredients together then leave it alone and let it do its thing. Too much stirring will cause the sugar to crystalize. And once the sugars have dissolved you can swirl the pan but do not stir – not even once!

As soon as the sauce hits the right temperature pour in the cold cream to stop the sauce from cooking. Having everything measured, ready to add and within arms’ reach makes this an easier task.

Making caramel sauce can be temperamental. It doesn’t take much of your time but it will want your undivided attention! You will be greatly rewarded!

Coffee Caramel Sauce

2/3 cup light corn syrup

¼ cup butter

¾ cup brown sugar

1 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon pure coffee extract*

2 tablespoons espresso or strong coffee

Pour the corn syrup into a small deep saucepan. Add the both of the sugars and the butter.

Using a spatula, pull the sugar into the center of the pan mixing into the corn syrup. You want to avoid the sugars cooking and crystalizing against the side of the pan.

Place the pan over medium heat and allow the sugar to melt into the syrup and butter, stirring only a few times, about 15 to 20 minutes. Once the sugar has completely dissolved do not stir but allow the caramel sauce to cook to a soft-ball stage, 236-degrees, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour in the heavy cream, stirring to mix into the caramel sauce.

Blend in the vanilla and coffee extracts along with the espresso.

Serve warm over ice cream, pound cake, angel food cake, cream puffs…. Refrigerate any leftover sauce.

Nielsen-Massey makes beautiful extracts, including a coffee extract. In a pinch you can use an equal amount of espresso powder, which can be found in the coffee aisle of most food markets. Makes about 2 cups of coffee caramel sauce.

Coffee Caramel Sauce, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

May 17, 2019
: Makes about 2 cups of coffee caramel sauce.

The deep golden amber color just hints at the flavors tucked inside - a thick and creamy caramel sauce with gorgeous notes of coffee! An absolutely luscious dessert topping!

By:

Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon pure coffee extract*
  • 2 tablespoons espresso or strong coffee
Directions
  • Step 1 Pour the corn syrup into a small deep saucepan. Add the both of the sugars and the butter.
  • Step 2 Using a spatula, pull the sugar into the center of the pan mixing into the corn syrup. You want to avoid the sugars cooking and crystalizing against the side of the pan.
  • Step 3 Place the pan over medium heat and allow the sugar to melt into the syrup and butter, stirring only a few times, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Step 4 Once the sugar has completely dissolved do not stir but allow the caramel sauce to cook to a soft-ball stage, 236-degrees, about 10 minutes.
  • Step 5 Remove from the heat and pour in the heavy cream, stirring to mix into the caramel sauce.
  • Step 6 Blend in the vanilla and coffee extracts along with the espresso.
  • Step 7 Serve warm over ice cream, pound cake, angel food cake, cream puffs…. Refrigerate any leftover sauce.
  • Step 8 Nielsen-Massey makes beautiful extracts, including a coffee extract. In a pinch you can use an equal amount of espresso powder, which can be found in the coffee aisle of most food markets.
Apricot Sauce

Apricot Sauce

Capture the succulent, sweet nature of apricots in this sauce paired with bright notes of citrus, a touch of spice and the gentle heat from horseradish that lingers on your palate.

Sauces elevate most any dish. Whether it’s a dessert, a side of vegetables or a gorgeous piece of tenderloin, a sauce can be the perfect accessory.

While looking for a sauce to compliment pork tenderloin, I started digging through some of the vintage cookbooks on my shelves. This discovery turned out to be an “ode” to both of my Grandmothers. I stumbled upon two versions of this recipe in my Grandmother Grace’s cookbooks, originally published in 1931. This sauce is a blending of those two apricot sauce recipes I found nestled among the pages.

Grace Pearl, second from left along with my Dad, Grandad and Great Grandparents at the Powell ranch. Those were two strong women who were both excellent cooks!

Tassie, my Mom’s Mother, grew luscious apricots that we devoured as kids. I struggle to find fresh apricots that match that sweet memory. But this sauce is a delicious reminder of those delicate stone fruits she grew.

Tassie, upper right pictured with her sisters and Mother. She was an amazing woman and fabulous cook!

I keep dried apricots on hand for snacking or as an addition to a cheese board topped with blue cheese. They’re also wonderful chopped up and tossed into quick breads. But it had never really occurred to me to transform them into a sauce.

And the result tastes as if you had stepped outside and picked them fresh off the tree!

Use quality dried apricots. Some of the best I’ve found are at the North Richland Hills Farmer’s Market and the good news – they ship!

Add brightness with fresh lemon and orange plus a subtle note of spice from Chinese five-spice – traditionally made from star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechwan pepper and fennel. A large dollop of creamy horseradish brings that delightful heat without overwhelming the apricots.

It’s an easy sauce to make and it’s a tantalizing addition to any meat!

Apricot Sauce

1-1/2 cups dried apricots

3 cups water

½ cup sugar

Zest of 1 lemon, about 1 teaspoon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Zest of 1 orange, about 2 teaspoons

2 tablespoons creamy horseradish (not horseradish sauce)

½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice

Combine the dried apricots and the water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 40 minutes.

Cool for about 10 to 15 minutes. Reserving the cooking water, scoop out the apricots using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a blender. Add 1 tablespoon of the cooking water.

Add the sugar along with the lemon zest, lemon juice and orange zest. Toss in the horseradish and the Chinese five-spice.

Process the apricots starting on low speed then raise to medium speed. Blend for about 1 to 2 minutes or until the sauce is fairly smooth. If you like a thinner sauce just add more of the cooking water.

Don’t toss out the apricot infused water. You can use it to cook wild rice or couscous, adding a subtle apricot sweetness. Serve the sauce warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups of sauce.

Apricot Sauce, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

April 15, 2019
: Makes about 2-1/2 cups of sauce.

Capture the succulent, sweet nature of apricots in this sauce paired with bright notes of citrus, a touch of spice and the gentle heat from horseradish that lingers on your palate. A beautiful sauce to compliment any meat!

By:

Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups dried apricots
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon, about 1 teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 orange, about 2 teaspoons
  • 2 tablespoons creamy horseradish (not horseradish sauce)
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice
Directions
  • Step 1 Combine the dried apricots and the water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 40 minutes.
  • Step 2 Cool for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Step 3 Reserving the cooking water, scoop out the apricots using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a blender. Add 1 tablespoon of the cooking water.
  • Step 4 Add the sugar along with the lemon zest, lemon juice and orange zest.
  • Step 5 Toss in the horseradish and the Chinese five-spice.
  • Step 6 Process the apricots starting on low speed then raise to medium speed. Blend for about 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sauce is fairly smooth. If you like a thinner sauce just add more of the cooking water.
  • Step 7 Don’t toss out the reserved apricot infused water. You can use it to cook wild rice or couscous.
  • Step 8 Serve the sauce warm or at room temperature.
Melba Sauce – Celebrate the Beauty of Raspberries!

Melba Sauce – Celebrate the Beauty of Raspberries!

Brilliant scarlet in color – this sauce is lightly sweet and uncomplicated!  The stars in this classic sauce are the raspberries. And they show that in a very beautiful way some of the best desserts are really quite simple.

Sauces can take a simple treat and elevate it to an elegant confection. This is a tasty example! Melba sauce – a vintage dessert sauce – is said to have been created to honor an Australian soprano, Nellie Melba in the late 1800s. It was served alongside peaches in a dish known as Peach Melba. But this gorgeous raspberry sauce is really wonderful flying solo!

It’s made with a short list of ingredients – raspberries, a touch of sugar, a little cornstarch to thicken and currant jelly for a vibrant shine.

It’s the perfect time for fresh ripe raspberries – they are in abundance in the markets. But you can also use frozen – or buy a large batch and flash freeze some for later!

The sauce comes together quickly. A quick cook until the cornstarch is clear and no longer cloudy in appearance.

The currant jelly melts into the berries producing a sauce that showcases the delectable red raspberry, almost glistening in appearance.

It’s splendid for topping a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream nestled in a delightful crispy phyllo shell. Simply marvelous!

Melba Sauce

3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries

3 teaspoons sugar

3 teaspoons cornstarch

¼ cup currant jelly

Toss the raspberries into a saucepan.

Add the sugar, cornstarch and the currant jelly.

Cook and stir over low heat until the juices of the raspberries release and the sugar and the cornstarch have dissolved, about 10 minutes.

Raise the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally. Cook until the sauce is no longer cloudy in appearance and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 to 15 minutes.

The sauce will have a slightly cloudy appearance until the cornstarch has cooked sufficiently and begins to thicken.

If you are not a fan of seeds in raspberries you can strain the sauce through a sieve.

Melba sauce can be served over pound cake, angel food cake or vanilla ice cream. For an elegant but easy dessert place a scoop of ice cream inside a phyllo shell and top with Melba sauce. (Athens Foods make wonderful phyllo shells and can be found in the freezer section of most food markets.)

Makes about 3 cups of sauce.

Melba Sauce, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

March 29, 2019
: Makes about 3 cups.

A brilliant scarlet sauce - sweet and uncomplicated! The star in this classic sauce is the raspberry. They show in a very beautiful way that some of the best desserts can really quite simple.

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup currant jelly
Directions
  • Step 1 Toss the raspberries into a saucepan. Add the sugar, cornstarch and the currant jelly.
  • Step 2 Cook and stir over low heat until the juices of the raspberries release and the sugar and the cornstarch have dissolved, about 10 minutes.
  • Step 3 Raise the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally. Cook until the sauce is no longer cloudy in appearance and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 to 15 minutes. The sauce will have a slightly cloudy appearance until the cornstarch has cooked sufficiently and begins to thicken.
  • Step 4 If you are not a fan of the seeds in raspberries you can strain the sauce through a sieve.
  • Step 5 Melba sauce can be served over pound cake, angel food cake or vanilla ice cream. For an elegant but easy dessert place a scoop of ice cream inside a phyllo shell and top with Melba sauce. (Athens Foods make wonderful phyllo shells and can be found in the freezer section of most food markets.)

 

 

Spiced Apple Butter

Spiced Apple Butter

My Mom loved apple butter and there’s something about this time of year that makes her memory feel especially close.

My Mom and Dad sitting on the back porch at the house on the Powell Ranch

Making apple butter is a true labor of love. It takes time to cook fresh apples into a thick, silky spread but it is definitely worth the time and effort.

As typically happens when I am in the market surrounded by bins of beautiful produce, I become captivated with the vast selection. Having more than a few apples left from baking my apple tart I decided apple butter should be on the menu.

Apple butter is made from crisp apples and vivid spices of cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Then it’s slowly cooked to create that depth of fragrance and flavor.

As I do with baking, I use a variety of apples to heighten the levels of taste on your tongue. This layering of apples captures the essence of the spices and develops into a dark amber spread.

The foundation of this apple butter is from an old recipe. In the original recipe the home cook is directed to press the soft apples through a sieve after the first step of cooking. But instead, take a shortcut and use an immersion blender. The apples turn into a glorious velvety sauce perfect for cooking into the butter.

The final phase of cooking takes at least an hour. You want the consistency to be luscious, almost creamy in texture. And here’s a simple trick to check and see if your apple butter is ready – drop a spoonful on a plate. If liquid separates from the butter, cook for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it holds together.

The plate on the left shows the consistency of the apple butter after one hour, the center after one hour and ten minutes and the plate on the right is perfectly set at one hour and 15 minutes.

This recipe makes 5 half-pints and can be doubled if you’re ready to get started making holiday gifts. You can refrigerate the apple butter or process the jars in a water bath if you’re looking for a longer shelf life.

Pull up a stool, put on your favorite playlist and soak up the intoxicating aromas – your patience will be rewarded!

Spiced Apple Butter

3 pounds of assorted apples*, about 6 apples

4 cups pure, unsweetened apple juice, such as Simply Apple

1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

* For this batch I used 1 Granny Smith, 2 Gala, 1 McIntosh, 1 Smitten and 1 Jonagold. Mix it up and use your favorite cooking apples.

Peel, core and slice the apples – you should have about 10 cups.

Combine the apples with the apple juice in a large kettle or stockpot. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat then cover the pot with foil or a lid. Cook for 30 minutes or until the apples are very tender.

Using an immersion blender, puree the apples until you have a very smooth sauce. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.

Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium heat and continue cooking uncovered for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. The time will vary depending on the juiciness of your apples. Stir the butter frequently. The last 15 to 20 minutes you will need to stir almost constantly to prevent the butter from sticking and scorching.

After an hour, drop a spoonful on a plate. If liquid separates from the butter, cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Cook, stirring until the butter holds together when a spoonful is dropped on the plate.

Ladle the butter into clean, sterile jars. Refrigerate or process in a water bath*.

Makes 5 half-pints.

*If you’re canning the preserves in a water bath, follow the directions provided by the manufacturer of your jars. Ball makes wonderful canning jars and has great step-by-step guidelines to canning safely on their website.

Spiced Apple Butter, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

November 2, 2018
: 5 half pints

Crisp apples are woven with vivid spices of cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, allspice and cloves creating a fruit butter that is full of fragrance and flavor.

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 pounds of assorted apples*, about 6 apples
  • 4 cups pure, unsweetened apple juice, such as Simply Apple
  • 1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • *I used 1 Granny Smith, 2 Gala, 1 McIntosh, 1 Smitten and 1 Jonagold. Mix it up and use your favorite cooking apples.
Directions
  • Step 1 Peel, core and slice the apples – you should have about 10 cups. Combine the apples with the apple juice in a large kettle or stockpot.
  • Step 2 Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat then cover the pot with foil or a lid. Cook for 30 minutes or until the apples are very tender.
  • Step 3 Using an immersion blender, puree the apples until you have a very smooth sauce.
  • Step 4 Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.
  • Step 5 Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium heat and continue cooking uncovered for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. The time will vary depending on the juiciness of your apples. Stir the butter frequently. The last 15 to 20 minutes you will need to stir almost constantly to prevent the butter from sticking and scorching.
  • Step 6 After an hour, drop a spoonful on a plate. If liquid separates from the butter, cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Cook, stirring until the butter holds together when a spoonful is dropped on the plate.
  • Step 7 Ladle the butter into clean, sterile jars. Refrigerate or process in a water bath*.
  • Step 8 Makes 5 half-pints.
  • Step 9 *If you’re canning the preserves in a water bath, follow the directions provided by the manufacturer of your jars. Ball makes wonderful canning jars and has great step-by-step guidelines to canning safely on their website.
Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Cream Gravy

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Cream Gravy

Simply seasoned, moist and tender. In search of a great pork chop!

Pork chops have long had a reputation for being dry and flavorless. To be fair, it’s not totally their fault. For years home cooks were taught to fry or roast pork until the internal temperature was at least 160-degrees. The fear was around a foodborne illness specific to pork. The prolonged cooking left the pork tough and without a drop of juiciness – something no one really wanted to eat. Luckily methods of raising pork and processing have improved greatly through the years.

There is also a better understanding of cooking temperatures needed to safely prepare pork. All these factors prompted the USDA to adjust the guidelines in 2011. Recommended temperatures were reset from 160-degrees internally to 145-degrees, with a three-minute rest. The change certainly makes for a better chop.

And brining is also key to a tremendous flavor. Unlike a traditional wet brine these chops are dry brined and the process is ridiculously easy. They are seasoned with nothing but kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper followed by an overnight rest in the fridge.

Then a quick sear followed by a quick roast in the oven. Rest. Plate. Pass the gravy.

Awww – cream gravy. The sauce of the South. Daunting, mysterious but really quite simple. The two tools you need are a heavy skillet and a whisk, preferably a flat whisk so you can get into the corners of your pan. Cream gravy starts by melting a small amount of fat – either bacon renderings or butter – in a heavy skillet along with any bits of fond. What the heck is fond you might ask? It’s those golden, bits of meat and rich drippings left over from cooking. Never throw those out when making gravy!

Whisk the flour into the melted fat until it’s smooth and golden brown in color. Then whisk in the milk. Check for seasoning, adding kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to suit your taste. Cook, whisking until it is thick and creamy. Whisking is the secret to smooth, velvety gravy!

Two great treasures of the South – pork chops and cream gravy!

Pan-Seared Pork Chops

4 bone-in pork chops, 1” thick

2 to 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ – 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

The day before you plan on cooking the pork chops, rinse the chops under cold water, pat dry and place them in a dish in a single layer.

Generously season each side with the kosher salt and pepper. Depending on the surface size of your pork chops you might need to use all the kosher salt. If you like a spicier chop, use all the pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.

When you’re ready to cook, pull the chops out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature – about 20 to 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Pour the olive oil into a large skillet that has been lightly sprayed with a cooking spray. Heat the pan over a setting between medium and medium high until the oil is hot. Place the pork chops in the pan and cook without moving for 5 minutes. If your skillet isn’t large enough to hold all the chops, cook in batches.

Flip the chops and cook an additional five minutes. Transfer to a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes. Check with an instant read thermometer in the thickest part of the chop – the internal temperature should read 145-degrees.

Transfer the pork chops to a serving platter and cover tightly with foil. Let them rest in a warm place for at least 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle back into the meat. While the chops rest, make the gravy.

Cream Gravy

2 tablespoons butter or bacon renderings

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste

Melt the butter over medium heat using the same skillet you used to cook the pork chops. Whisk in the flour, scraping up any bits left in the pan. Cook until the flour is golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Pour in the milk, whisk until smooth. Add the kosher salt and black pepper.

Continue cooking until the gravy has thickened, whisking frequently – about 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve warm!

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Cream Gravy

October 1, 2018
: Serves 4

Simply seasoned, moist and tender. Two great treasures of the South – pork chops topped with cream gravy!

By:

Ingredients
  • For the pork chops:
  • 4 bone-in pork chops, 1” thick
  • 2 to 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • For the cream gravy:
  • 2 tablespoons butter or bacon renderings
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
Directions
  • Step 1 For the pork chops:
  • Step 2 The day before you plan on cooking the pork chops, rinse the chops under cold water, pat dry and place them in a dish in a single layer.
  • Step 3 Generously season each side with the kosher salt and pepper. Depending on the surface size of your pork chops you might need all the kosher salt. If you like a spicier chop, use all the pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
  • Step 4 When you’re ready to cook, pull the chops out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature – about 20 to 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
  • Step 5 Pour the olive oil in a large skillet that has been lightly sprayed with a cooking spray.
  • Step 6 Heat over a setting between medium and medium high until the oil is hot. Place the pork chops in the pan and cook without moving for 5 minutes. If your skillet isn’t large enough to hold all the chops, cook in batches. Flip the chops and cook an additional five minutes.
  • Step 7 Transfer to a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes. Check with an instant read thermometer in the thickest part of the chop – the internal temperature should ready 145-degrees.
  • Step 8 Transfer the pork chops to a serving platter and cover tightly with foil. Let them rest in a warm place for at least 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle back into the meat.
  • Step 9 While the chops rest, make the gravy.
  • Step 10 For the cream gravy:
  • Step 11 Melt the butter over medium heat using the same skillet you used to cook the pork chops. Whisk in the flour, scraping up any bits left in the pan. Cook until the flour is golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Step 12 Pour in the milk, whisk until smooth. Add the kosher salt and black pepper and continue cooking until the gravy has thickened, whisking frequently – about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Step 13 Serve warm!
Fresh Tomato Sauce

Fresh Tomato Sauce

I’m on a quest to enjoy as many summer vegetables as possible before the season is over. And I’m always looking for quick and easy pasta dishes for busy days. This hits the mark on both fronts – a light, fresh tomato sauce that requires no cooking. None.

There are dozens of fresh tomato sauce recipes. This is a wonderful version and it’s ridiculously simple. Grab beautiful red, ripe Roma tomatoes and brighten them with fresh basil and parsley. Throw in garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, an added touch of heat from red pepper flakes and a handful of grated Parmesan cheese.

For this garden fresh sauce, a couple of notes on ingredients. Use a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil – Olio Santo is always a great choice. The flavors are clean and pure providing a perfect compliment to the tomatoes and herbs. And you only want to use fresh herbs. Since you’re not cooking the sauce, the notes of dried herbs won’t have time to fully develop. Luckily, it’s relatively easy to find fresh basil, parsley and Roma tomatoes year-round in food markets. So don’t limit yourself to the summer solstice to enjoy this quick pasta dish.

This recipe makes about 7-cups of fresh sauce, enough for 2 pounds of pasta. If you don’t need quite this much to feed your group,  just cut the recipe in half. You can also refrigerate or freeze any leftover sauce then gently reheat it when you’re ready to dish it up.

Toss this simple sauce with your favorite curly noodle. Rotini or fusilli are great options to capture and tuck all the garden-fresh goodness in those crevices.

Dinner is on the tables in less than 20 minutes!

Fresh Tomato Sauce

4 pounds fresh, ripe Roma tomatoes – about 12 to 14, stemmed and quartered

2 cloves garlic, halved or 2 teaspoons minced

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2-1/2 to 3 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste plus extra for cooking the pasta

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

2 to 3 teaspoons brown sugar

1 packed cup fresh basil leaves

1/3 packed cup fresh parsley

1-1/3 cups grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving

2 pounds Rotini or Fusilli pasta noodles

Place half of the tomatoes in a blender and puree until slightly smooth – using the blender tamper if needed – about 20 to 30 seconds.

Add the remaining tomatoes along with the garlic, olive oil, 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons of the brown sugar.

Process until the remaining tomatoes are finely chopped and the sauce is somewhat smooth – about 1 minute – then toss in the basil and parsley.

Process until the herbs are blended into the sauce, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Check for seasoning and if needed, add the remaining salt and brown sugar. (Brown sugar helps to smooth out the flavor and enhance the tomato flavor.)

For the pasta:

Add a handful of kosher salt to a large pot of water– the water should taste salty. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender. Cooking time will vary depending on the type of pasta. For rotini or fusilli, usually about 7 to 10 minutes.

For 2-pounds of pasta – Transfer the cooked pasta to a large bowl with about 2 to 3 cups of tomato sauce.

Add 1-cup of the Parmesan cheese and toss along with the pasta and tomato sauce. Ladle in more sauce and remaining cheese to thoroughly coat the pasta. Let the pasta rest for about 5 minutes to soak up some of the sauce. Top with additional grated Parmesan cheese for serving.

Refrigerate or freeze any leftover sauce. When ready to serve, gently warm in a saucepan over medium heat. Makes about 7 cups of tomato sauce – enough for 2 pounds of pasta.

Fresh Tomato Sauce, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

August 24, 2018
: 6 to 8

Ridiculously simple - a light, fresh tomato sauce that requires no cooking. None.

By:

Ingredients
  • 4 pounds fresh, ripe Roma tomatoes – about 12 to 14, stemmed and quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved or 2 teaspoons minced
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-1/2 to 3 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste plus extra for cooking the pasta
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 packed cup fresh parsley
  • 1-1/3 cups grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 2 pounds Rotini or Fusilli pasta noodles
Directions
  • Step 1 Place half of the tomatoes in a blender and puree until slightly smooth – using the blender tamper if needed – about 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Step 2 Add the remaining tomatoes along with the garlic, olive oil, 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons of the brown sugar.
  • Step 3 Process until the remaining tomatoes are finely chopped and the sauce is somewhat smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Step 4 Toss in the basil and parsley then process until the herbs are blended into the sauce, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Step 5 Check for seasoning and if needed, add the remaining salt and brown sugar. (Brown sugar helps to smooth out the flavor and enhance the tomato flavor.)
  • Step 6 For the pasta:
  • Step 7 Add a handful of kosher salt to a large pot of water– the water should taste salty. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender. Cooking time will vary depending on the type of pasta. For rotini or fusilli, usually about 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Step 8 For 2-pounds of pasta – Transfer the cooked pasta to a large bowl with about 2 to 3 cups of tomato sauce. Add 1-cup of the Parmesan cheese and toss along with the pasta and tomato sauce.
  • Step 9 Ladle in more sauce and remaining cheese to thoroughly coat the pasta. Let the pasta rest for about 5 minutes to soak up some of the sauce. Top with additional grated Parmesan cheese for serving.
  • Step 10 Refrigerate or freeze any leftover sauce. When ready to serve, gently warm in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Step 11 Makes about 7 cups of tomato sauce – enough for 2 pounds of pasta.
Cherry Preserves

Cherry Preserves

Plump red cherries floating in a thick, sweet ruby syrup – what a wonderful way to preserve this last bit of the season!

There are so many methods for making jams and preserves. This recipe is similar to the one I use for strawberry preserves, capturing the whole beautiful cherry.

It’s perfect for breakfast and excellent as a dessert sauce or topping for cheese as an appetizer.

The added bonus with this recipe – it gives you some control over the thickness of the syrup. After cooking the cherries, remove them from the kettle and cook the syrup 10 minutes or a bit more if you like a thicker syrup. Just keep in mind the syrup will thicken after it is chilled. And don’t cook past 220-degrees or the preserves will be sticky.

The hardest part in making preserves is patience. As with the strawberry preserves I make, there are several stages including an overnight rest. Take the time to let the sugar fully dissolve. But this recipe is a bit forgiving.

If the sugar didn’t fully dissolve while cooking it will settle on the bottom of the dish overnight. Simply pour the cherry preserves back into a kettle and heat until the sugar has melted before ladling the preserves into your jars.

If you don’t own a cherry pitter go grab one. I use Oxo’s pitter – it is a single-purpose tool worth having on hand. It’s the quickest way to get the pits out of this lovely stone fruit.

Cherry season is short but really sweet – go and capture the goodness!

Cherry Preserves

2 pounds fresh cherries, pitted – about 7 cups

4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon butter

Place the cherries in a large kettle or stockpot. Add the sugar and stir to blend together. Let the cherries and sugar set at room temperature for about 3 to 4 hours.

Heat the cherries and sugar over low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 45 minutes. Stir frequently to keep the sugar from scorching while it melts.

Once the sugar has dissolved add the butter and turn the heat up to medium. The addition of butter helps to minimize any foam from forming. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Let the cherries boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Using a slotted spoon remove the cherries from the syrup and transfer to a heat proof shallow dish. (A 9” x 9” baking dish works well for this.)

Bring the syrup back to a boil and continue to boil for an additional 10 minutes to thicken slightly. If you want a thicker syrup boil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until the temperature reaches 220-degrees, but not over or the syrup will be sticky. Keep in mind the syrup will also thicken as it chills.

Pour the syrup over the cherries, and allow the mixture to cool. Once cool, loosely cover and let the cherries stand at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours. Swirl the pan occasionally but do not stir.

If the sugar didn’t fully dissolve while cooking it will settle on the bottom of the dish, as it stands overnight. Simply pour the cherry preserves and any sugar back into a kettle and cook over medium until the sugar has melted, about 5 to 10 minutes. Ladle the cooked preserves into four sterilized 8-ounce jars. You will have a bit extra leftover.

Keep refrigerated or process in a water bath following the jar manufacturer’s directions. Ball makes wonderful canning jars and has great step-by-step guidelines to canning safely on their website.

Cherry Preserves, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

August 15, 2018
: 4 half pint jars

Plump red cherries floating in a thick, sweet ruby syrup – what a wonderful to preserve the last bit of the season!

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fresh cherries, pitted – about 7 cups
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon butter
Directions
  • Step 1 Place the cherries in a large kettle or stockpot. Add the sugar and stir to blend together. Let the cherries and sugar set at room temperature for about 3 to 4 hours.
  • Step 2 Heat the cherries and sugar over low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 45 minutes. Stir frequently to keep the sugar from scorching while it melts.
  • Step 3 Once the sugar has dissolved add the butter and turn the heat up to medium.The addition of butter helps to minimize any foam from forming. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Step 4 Let the cherries boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Step 5 Using a slotted spoon remove the cherries from the syrup and transfer to a heat proof shallow dish. (A 9” x 9” baking dish works well for this.)
  • Step 6 Bring the syrup back to a boil and continue to boil for an additional 10 minutes to thicken slightly. If you want a thicker syrup boil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until the temperature reaches 220-degrees, but not over or the syrup will be sticky. Keep in mind the syrup will thicken as it chills.
  • Step 7 Pour the syrup over the cherries, and allow the mixture to cool. Once cool, loosely cover and let the cherries stand at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours. Swirl the pan occasionally but do not stir.
  • Step 8 If the sugar didn’t fully dissolve while cooking it will settle on the bottom of the dish, as it stands overnight. Simply pour the cherry preserves and any sugar back into a kettle and cook over medium until the sugar has melted, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Step 9 Ladle the cooked preserves into four sterilized 8-ounce jars. You will have a bit extra leftover.
  • Step 10 Keep refrigerated or process in a water bath following the jar manufacturer’s directions. Ball makes wonderful canning jars and has great step-by-step guidelines to canning safely on their website.
Slow-Roasted Fresh Strawberries

Slow-Roasted Fresh Strawberries

One of my favorite things as a kid had to be fresh strawberries. It was a fruit that neither of my Grandparents had in their gardens, as the climate in the Texas Panhandle wasn’t ideal for growing them. In the small rural town where I was raised, strawberries only appeared in the food markets in the spring and summer months. Mom would clean and slice those plump red berries before tossing them a generous handful of sugar. The juices would release from the strawberries creating a syrup that she would spoon along with the sweetened berries over her ice cream or shortcakes.

I discovered roasted strawberries a number of years ago. I can’t take credit for this idea but the least I can do is share it. There are a number of versions for this technique. They range from roasting in a very hot oven to roasting with a cooler temperature plus adding extra flavoring or nothing but berries and sugar. This is a version I use – it’s somewhere in the middle.

The strawberries slow roast as the sugar melts. They slowly collapse into a juice that is enhanced with a touch of pure vanilla and almond extracts leaving their beautiful notes in the roasted fruit. The process is easy and the only skill you need is patience.

Slow-roasted strawberries are fabulous over yogurt for brunch or served as a dessert topping. The depth of flavor is hard to describe – an almost a sweet, earthiness surrounded with a luscious nectar!

Slow-Roasted Strawberries

2 quarts fresh strawberries, about 8 cups

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

Rinse, remove the stem, hull the strawberries and slice them in half. Place the berries in a large bowl then add the sugar, the vanilla extract and the almond extract.

Stir well to combine. Let the berries sit for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow the sugar to dissolve slightly. If you like a thicker juice, cut the sugar to 1/2 -2/3 cup depending on the sweetness of the strawberries.

Pour the strawberries in a 9” x 13” baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with a cooking spray. Roast at 300-degrees for 1-1/2 hours stirring the berries 2 to 3 times while they cook.

Serve warm or chilled.

Refrigerate the strawberries until ready to serve.

Slow-Roasted Strawberries

May 14, 2018
: Serves 6-8

Slow-Roasted Strawberries have a depth of flavor that is hard to describe – an almost a sweet, earthiness surrounded with a luscious nectar! The process is easy and the only skill you need is a little patience!

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 quarts fresh strawberries, about 8 cups
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
Directions
  • Step 1 Rinse, remove the stem, hull the strawberries and cut them in half. Place the berries in a large bowl then add the sugar, the vanilla extract and the almond extract.
  • Step 2 Stir well to combine. Let the berries sit for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow the sugar to dissolve slightly. If you like a thicker juice, cut the sugar to 1/2 -2/3 cup depending on the sweetness of the strawberries.
  • Step 3 Pour the strawberries in a 9” x 13” baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with a cooking spray. Roast at 300-degrees for 1-1/2 hours stirring the berries 2 to 3 times while they cook.
  • Step 4 Serve warm or chilled.
Raisin Sauce and Maple Baked Ham

Raisin Sauce and Maple Baked Ham

Growing up, ham was normally reserved for company or holiday meals. My most visible memory of my Mom preparing a gorgeous ham was one she made for company. Mom had toiled away all afternoon, readying the evening meal for her guests. She pulled her gorgeous ham from the oven, left it to rest on the counter and we made a quick run to the market. When we returned our beloved German Shepherd was sitting at the top of the stairs gnawing on the bone, enjoying a late afternoon snack. On all eight pounds of ham.

I love a good ham. But often the presentation is nothing more than a slab of meat on a platter. If you look through any cookbooks dating from the 1930s through the 1970s you will typically find chapters on sauces. There was a reason and they weren’t just for dessert. There were luscious sauces served with vegetables and meats. Pull those recipes back out – they are such a simple way to elevate the taste of any meal.

Raisin Sauce is a perfect example of a beautiful vintage sauce. It’s a wonderful addition to any baked ham, but it’s also fabulous served with a pork tenderloin or pork roast. This sauce comes together in less than 30 minutes with simple ingredients – golden raisins, fresh oranges, spices of cloves and mace plus currant jelly and it can easily be made ahead.

You don’t need a special occasion or even company to enjoy this spectacular dish!

Raisin Sauce

1 cup sugar

½ cup orange juice

1 cup golden raisins

1 large orange, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar

¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon mace

1 cup currant jelly

2 teaspoons cornstarch

¼ cup water

Combine all the ingredients except the cornstarch and the water in a medium saucepan.

Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a gentle boil, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low and continue simmering until the raisins are very plump, about 15 minutes.

Dissolve the 2 teaspoons cornstarch with ¼ cup cold water. Add to the raisin sauce and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve warm over ham, pork tenderloin or pork roast. Refrigerate any leftover sauce.

Maple Baked Ham

1 fully cooked spiral cut ham, about 4-6 pounds

1 cup maple syrup

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup orange juice

1 orange, sliced

Place the ham cut side down in a large roasting pan, add the orange slices.

Whisk together the maple syrup, the brown sugar and the orange juice. Pour over the ham.

Cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for about 1-1/2 – 2 hours (approximately 15-20 minutes per pound). About halfway through the cooking time, spoon the maple glaze back over the ham and continue cooking. The last 30 minutes, remove the foil and cook until the ham is heated through and the internal temperature is around 140 degrees.

Serve with warm Raisin Sauce.

Turkey Pan Gravy

Turkey Pan Gravy

Your bird is out of the oven so whatever you do, don’t throw out those pan drippings from your roast turkey! Your guests will want gravy and not just any gravy. Pan gravy should be rich in flavor from gorgeous drippings, whisked into a buttery roux resulting in a silky creation.

There are some handy tools you should have at your fingertips for making gravy:

The sturdy roasting pan that was a must for roasting turkey now goes to the stovetop to make the gravy.

One of my favorites tools in making pan gravy is a fat separator. Pouring the pan drippings off the roasted turkey through a fat separator literally pulls the fat away, capturing only the good stuff for your gravy.

I use a flat whisk for starting the roux and keeping the gravy smooth as it thickens. A whisk will break up any lumps or clumps in your flour, creating that beautiful, smooth gravy that is picture perfect for your table.

The last item is very elementary, a pint size jar. I always keep one on hand in the event I need to add a bit of flour to thicken the gravy. You can add flour to room temperature stock, shake it until it’s smooth and pour it into your hot gravy. Never, ever add flour directly to hot liquid! The results are not pretty.

If you want to make the gravy in advance, start by making the roux in a deep skillet then add the stock reduction (reducing the stock enhances the flavor). Then when you’re ready to serve, reheat the gravy and top it off with the separated pan drippings.

Pan Gravy

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour, more if needed for thickening

¼-1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste

*5 cups turkey or chicken stock, more if needed

Pan drippings from the roast turkey

While the turkey is roasting pour 5 cups of turkey or chicken stock into a saucepan and set over medium heat to reduce down to about half. This takes about 45 minutes and brings out the best of the stock. After your turkey is done and resting on a cutting board, pour the drippings from the roasting pan into the fat separator.

Beautiful rich pan drippings from the roast turkey enhanced from the added stock and white wine.

Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted add the flour and whisk until you have a smooth roux. Season with the pepper and cook for about five minutes or until the flour starts to turn golden, stirring frequently.

If you brined your turkey, check for seasoning before you go near the salt! Most likely, you won’t need to add any additional. Pour in the pan drippings taking care to not add the separated fat back into the gravy. Whisk until smooth. Add the additional stock reduction, about a cup at a time whisking into the gravy. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes until the gravy has thickened, adding more stock if needed to reach your preferred thickness.

Don’t be concerned if the gravy is thinner or thicker than you would like. If you want thicker gravy, add an additional 2 tablespoons flour along with one cup stock and shake in a jar until smooth. Slowly pour the flour and stock mixture into the gravy, cooking for an additional 10 minutes. If you want a thinner gravy, simply add a bit more stock.

For leftovers, gently warm over medium-low heat, adding more stock to thin if needed.