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For the pan:
Generously butter a 9″ springform pan and sprinkle it with 1/4 cup of panko. Set aside.

For the ragu:

half a large sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
half a red Cubanelle (or bell) pepper, diced
3-4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 pound hot sausage (my favorite locally is Longhini)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce (I like Tuttorosso)
2/3 cup frozen baby peas
1/2 cup Chardonnay (or other dry white wine)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Add butter and olive oil to cover the bottom of a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add diced onion, carrot and celery. Cook about 5-7 minutes or till the onion starts to get some color. Add pressed garlic clove; cook for just one more minute. Next add pepper and mushrooms, continue to cook a few minutes. Add tomato paste; cook for another minute or two, then add 1/2 cup of Chardonnay and 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Let the liquid cook down for a few minutes, then add the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. When the sausage is completely cooked, add the tomato sauce. Combine, then add peas. They’ll warm through in just a few minutes. Once they do, remove the pan from heat, transfer ragu to a large bowl and clean the pan so we can use it to make the risotto.

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For the risotto:
2 oz. mushrooms, diced
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 1/3 cups Arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 3/4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon or so of butter to finish
freshly ground black pepper

Once again, add butter and olive oil to cover the bottom of your trusty large sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, add garlic and cook for just one minute more.

Add the rice and stir continuously till it starts to turn slightly translucent at the edges. Add wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any the bits from the bottom. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for a couple of minutes. Add mushrooms.

Meanwhile, heat the stock. It’s handy to use a large glass measuring cup in the microwave. Pour about a half cup or so of warm stock into the rice and continue stirring over medium heat until absorbed, then pour the same amount again. Repeat and keep stirring till you’ve used up all the stock. By then, the rice should be tender. This should take about 30 minutes, total. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F midway through this process so it will be ready to go once we assemble the torta.

Add a good tablespoon or so of butter and two tablespoons of Pecorino Romano;  stir to combine. Remove from heat.

For the assembly:
8 oz. ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced

For the topping:
Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter with 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

Let’s put it all together:
Divide the rice in two in the sauté pan.
Evenly press half the rice into the springform with a spatula.
Next add a layer of the ragu.
Add a layer of fresh mozzarella slices.
Cover with remaining rice, then spread buttered panko topping evenly over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes. You’ll want to see the edges of the pan turn a bit golden–23 minutes was the magic number here. Slice, serve, mangia!

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Do you love a pistachio muffin? I do, but those green things we’ve eaten in bakeries and cafeterias–though they hit the spot–aren’t remotely close to the real deal. Part of being small batch authentic is using the best ingredients and techniques in what I bake and cook. So, no green food coloring here. No pistachio pudding from a box. I took about half of an 8 oz. bag of pistachios, shelled them, measured them, chopped them and made these seven beautiful, naturally green-tinted muffins. If you’re a pistachio fan, you really must try them, too!

KATTY’S PISTACHIO MUFFINS
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup shelled unsalted pistachios–¼ cup chopped fine, ¼ cup a bit more coarse
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
½  a lemon, zested

Cream butter and sugars. Add egg, vanilla and almond extracts; mix well. Add sour cream and milk. Combine dry ingredients including 1/4 cup of finely chopped pistachios; gradually add to creamed mixture, stir till moistened. Now stir in the more coarsely chopped pistachios and lemon zest.

I’m a big fan of my Wilton silicone baking cups for making muffins. Brush seven of them with melted butter, then spoon the batter to the fill line.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes seven of the most delicious pistachio muffins you’ve ever had!

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Someone in my life bought a huuuuuge five-plus-pound pot roast (thanks, Mom, who exactly are we feeding?), so off we go, first to the stovetop, then straight to the oven for a long (4 hours) winter’s nap. It cooks right down to delicious tenderness unattended once you get the party started.

A CONNECTICUT YANKEE’S POT ROAST
3-5 pound pot roast
Kosher salt
black pepper
smoked paprika
2 large sweet onions, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
8 carrots, unpeeled, cut in thirds
3 stalks celery, cut in thirds
8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
2 sprigs rosemary
sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
3 cups beef broth
1 cup red wine (I used Gnarly Head Old Vines Zin)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously season the roast with Kosher salt, pepper and smoked paprika (optional). Heat olive oil to coat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear on all sides until browned, about 15-18 minutes. Remove to a plate.

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Add the onions  browning them on all sides–about 5 minutes or so keep stirring. Move them to a large bowl. Running low on oil? Add a bit more. Now do the same with the carrots and celery–heat, brown a bit, move to bowl. Last, drop the temp to medium, throw in the mushrooms, and when they’ve got some color on them (couple minutes), add the garlic and 1 tablespoon tomato paste and stir fast-fast.

Move the roast back to the pot. Pour in the stock and wine; add herbs. Add in all the rest of the vegetables.

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Put the lid on, then roast for 3 hours for a 3-pound roast. For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours. The roast is ready when it’s fall-apart tender.

Once the roast is done, remove it from the braising dish, leaving behind all the liquid and vegetables, then season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with your favorite mashed potatoes! It also makes a nice to-go box for someone special.

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You don’t need me to tell you we can make pesto out of herbs other than basil. But I’m here to share because I like how this came out and, selfishly, I’d like to document it so I can do it again.

I bought a rather large container of baby arugula to use for other things earlier this week, so it seemed the right time to change up the pesto game. It’s so easy! Here we go.

ARUGULA PESTO
2 cups arugula, loosely packed
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup pignoli (pine nuts), toasted
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
juice of one lemon
freshly ground pepper to taste

Add nuts to a small skillet over medium heat. Add nuts to pan; cook until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes or so, shaking the pan constantly. Set pan aside to cool a bit.

Add nuts and garlic to food processor; process till minced.

Add arugula, oil, salt and pepper; process until blended, scraping sides as needed. Add lemon and cheese; process until smooth.

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Toss with pasta of your choice–we had gemelli. Be sure to save a bit of your pasta water (or don’t drain the pasta all the way) to blend with the pesto when you initially toss the pasta and pesto together to coat. What you see on top is pure pesto, though.

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Oh, hey--since you’re already here, would you like a bonus round with this easy recipe? It’s called “what to do with a bag of spinach when you thought you were going to make stuffed mushrooms and only had four mushrooms left.” OOPS!

CREAMY SPINACH AND MUSHROOMS
an accidental side dish

1 9-oz. bag fresh spinach
4 mushrooms sliced (more would have been better, then we could’ve stuffed them, but this isn’t science, so, by all means, use more if you have them!)
1 clove garlic, pressed
butter to coat the bottom of a large saute pan
1 oz. cream cheese
dash of salt

Melt butter in large saute pan over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms. When those have cooked down and browned a bit, add the garlic and stir for just a minute. Add spinach. Cover so it steams down to the point you can stir it all together–this happens pretty quickly.

Add an ounce of cream cheese and a dash of salt. When the cream cheese has melted in to form a creamy sauce, it’s ready to serve.

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Let’s hear it for Yankee ingenuity! And Yankee thrift, too, I suppose. Cheers to that!

 

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Though temperatures reached above 50 degrees today, soup remains the perfect seasonal supper. For one that eats like a meal, complete with loads of fresh vegetables, you can’t go wrong with creamy chicken noodle. ♫ What do I care how much it may storm? I’ve gotta this soup to keep me warm. ♫ With much respect, and sincere apologies, to Dean Martin.

CREAMY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
2
 cups dry medium egg noodles
1.25 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in bite-sized chunks
Olive oil to coat the bottom of your pot
1 large sweet onion
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
handful of mushrooms (about 6), sliced
generous handful of baby spinach
1 box Kitchen Basics chicken stock (32 oz.)
1 sprig rosemary
a few sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
fresh parsley to garnish

Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil–turn to medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery. Saute till tender and you start to build some color at the bottom of the pan, about 15 minutes, then add garlic and saute a minute longer.

Meantime, bring a pot of water to boil to cook the noodles. Ideally, the noodles will be finished cooking by the time you’ve finished the soup.

Back to the soup: add mushrooms, continue cooking and stirring for the next 5 minutes. Add chicken and salt; saute about 7 minutes. Add chicken broth, bay leaves and season with pepper to taste. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer.

In a separate medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, add flour and cook, stirring constantly till flour has browned a bit, about 1 1/2 minutes. While whisking, slowly add in milk. Then whisk in cream, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when it begins to bubble

Remove thyme and bay leaves from soup. Pour milk/cream/flour mixture into soup; add spinach just to wilt. Add cooked noodles. Garnish each bowl with fresh parsley. Stay toasty and enjoy!

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’tis the season for baking, staying cozy and being jolly. And what could possibly get the job done better than a spicy gingerbread bundt, lovingly painted with a bourbon brown sugar glaze?! Let’s make it happen!

KATTY’S GINGERBREAD BUNDT WITH BOURBON BROWN SUGAR GLAZE
adapted liberally from King Arthur Flour

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, spices, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

Using your mixer, beat together butter and sugar till fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add molasses and combine.

Add dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Start and end with flour. Mix till smooth.

Pour batter evenly into well-greased Bundt pan. I have a Nordic Ware heart shape I’m quite fond of.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Definitely check at 55–that’s all it took in my oven.

While the cake is in the oven, it’s time to make the glaze.

BOURBON BROWN SUGAR GLAZE
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water

To finish:
2 tablespoons Maker’s Mark
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together butter, brown sugar and water. Bring to a boil for two minutes, continuing to whisk. Remove from heat; add Maker’s Mark, cinnamon and ginger.

Once you’ve taken the cake out of the oven, let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Then cover it with a rack and invert it to remove it.

While the cake is still warm, brush it generously with the glaze. Let it cool completely before serving. But we did enjoy giving each slice a quick go-round in the microwave to warm it, then served with Ashley’s vanilla ice cream.

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No Ashley’s near you? Froyo of Middletown always carries a dozen Ashley’s flavors. And Sweet Cream’s in Wallingford has a whole store of it.

This is one of those cakes that tastes good day one, better day two and potentially mindblowing day three, once all the flavors have a chance to soak in and meld. Hope you love it, too!

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If I must be known for something, I’m OK if it’s for my chocolate chip cookies (CCCs) in general. But these Oreo bombs? They’re crazy good and pretty much two-and-a-half cookies in one. With the pleasing combo of crispy and chewy, plus a whole ‘nother cookie inside, they’re huge–both in size and flavor! They’re especially wonderful right out of the oven. Let’s live large and bake some, shall we?

Cookie Monster is taking Metro North to my house right this minute!

Cookie Monster riding train

“Me on me way to Katty’s Kitchen! All aboard for New Haven and Oreo bomb CCCs!”

 

KATTY’S OREO BOMB CCCs

1 stick butter (salted), softened
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
½ cup dark chocolate Valrhona Guanaja feves, chopped
13 Oreos (just regular, not Double Stuf, please–otherwise, it will be even more challenging to cover them with cookie dough!)

Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add lightly beaten egg and vanilla; mix just till egg is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a separate bowl. With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients. Mix only until combined: do not overmix. Fold in chopped chocolate.

If you want to refrigerate these to bake later, make sure you roll the dough around the Oreos first, while the dough is still pliable, before you chill them.

I used my medium scoop, but made it a heaping scoop so there’s enough dough to completely cover the Oreo. Make it easy: split the scoop of dough in half, flatten it and wrap it around.

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Use a heaping scoop of dough.

Your unbaked Oreo bombs will look like this. Don’t stress if you break an Oreo inside. They bake up the same, regardless. These bombs get BIG, so I put just six per cookie sheet to give them room.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Bake for 11-14 minutes (14 in my oven) or until golden brown around the edges but still soft, almost not-quite-done, in the center. At the halfway mark, turn the sheets front to back and switch racks (7 and 7, up the river, down the river).

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This recipe yields 13 ridiculously, joyously, big, beautiful, AHM NOM NOM NOM Oreo bomb CCCs. You’re gonna love them!