Bolognese a/k/a Meat Sauce a/k/a More Please….

Showing the parmesan rind.
Bolobnese, showing the parmesan rind.

One of life’s truisms is that everyone loves pasta, don’t let them tell you otherwise – that is just an attempt to make you walk away from the pasta bowl to save more for them.  Honestly.

Even so, not everyone loves the same kind of pasta.  Some like their noodles al dente (“toothy), others mushy (not me!).  Some like red sauces, some white.  Some red sauces have sugar added, others would rather gnaw on a pine cone.  Some choose a smooth marinara, others a chunky Bolognese.  This recipe is in that last category, a nice, chunky Bolognese – with no sugar added.

If you follow any of my recipes, you are probably aware that I consider a recipe more of an advisory opinion that a “you must do this….this way….now”.  And that is quite true with sauces, partially for the reasons set forth above:  everyone has their own preferences.  So, here comes by basic recipe.  You can add, subtract and substitute all day long and make it your own.  But I suggest beginning at the beginning.  Make this base, what I consider “essential” recipe, then modify it to your own liking.  Oh, and this recipe makes 6 quarts of deliciousness.  As you will see below, I use my vacuum sealer  to make individual quart bags to freeze for later.  They lay flat, and thaw quickly, but you can also use mason jars.  I do not suggest storing red sauce in any of your plastic containers (to be honest, I don’t recommend plastic containers at all), because the sauce will stain the containers and depending on quality, you may even end up with a chemical taste in your sauce.  Ew. (Jimmy?  Jimmy Falon??  Where are you?)

Continue reading “Bolognese a/k/a Meat Sauce a/k/a More Please….”

Candied Walnuts shown, but Pecans work great too, gf

Candied NutsThese nuts are fantastically versatile, I use warm winter spices at Christmas and for the boat in the summer I spice them with some heat and salt, which makes the beer even tastier.  You’re in the mood for some Asian food?  Substitute the spices with some Chinese Five Spice with the sugar base.  Yummy.  Oh, and if you are making the Bananas Foster recipe, use the base recipe.  🙂

And yes, these nuts are going into the Athletic Training category, too. Why? You ask…well let me tell you. Nuts are a great snack to carry around during the day and candied nuts are even better. For that purpose you might (or might not) want to alter the recipe by cutting back on the sugar, but I don’t really see a reason to.

Ingredients

1 lb. unsalted nuts
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 c. dark brown sugar (can substitute light brown)
1/4 c. Maple Syrup (the real thing is best)
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cayanne pepper
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

ALTERNATE 1:

1 lb. unsalted nuts
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. Agave Syrup (the real thing is best)
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. Chineese 5 Spice

ALTERNATE 2:

1 lb. unsalted nuts
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 c. Agave Syrup (the real thing is best)
1/4 c. Mexican Chili Powder
1 Tbsp. Cayanne
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 lime (Spritz over the warm nuts when they are removed from the oven the last time, do not mix into the butter)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees
Line a flat 1/2 sheet pan with parchment paper
Spread your nuts out on the parchment, try to leave a space between the nuts for even toasting. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until you begin to smell the nuts. You do not want to over-roast, so watch them carefully and check your over frequently after about 5 minutes. The type and size of nut you use will make a difference, so this step is more of a how-to guide. Trust your nose, when you smell the nut, take them out of the oven and set aside. Keep the parchment on the baking sheet, you will use it again, and keep the oven on!

If you have a dutch oven, use it. If not, any heavy bottom pot works.
Heat the butter over medium low heat. Once melted, add the sugar and all spices. Mix and incorporate. Add the nuts and stir to coat. Keep on the heat, stirring once a minute, for about 4-5 minutes. You are trying to get the spiced butter into all the nooks and crannies while cooking down the butter but keep an eye on it, the slightest burn to the butter and the entire batch will have an awful burned smell….which is not wanted here. Okay, so once the nuts start to dry out and are fully warmed, pour the maple over the nuts and stir. Remove from heat, allow to rest for just a minute. Spread the nuts back out on the parchment lined baking sheet and pop back into the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes, remove from over and let rest on the baking sheet until fully cooled. Enjoy!

Salmon & Dill Cakes with Cucumber Mint Sauce

Salmon & Dill Cakes with Cucumber Sauce

Salmon & Dill Cakes with Cucumber Sauce

These salmon cakes can be made ahead, covered and kept in the refrigerator for a few days for a quick lunch or dinner because the salmon is pre-cooked. The cucumber sauce will last several days also, and actually be better day 2 than it was when fresh. Of course, for best flavors and highest nutrition value, begin with fresh everything. (This post utilizes the “//” which is my marking for best choice on the left//okay choice on the right. Read the “Athletic Training and Food” section on for a complete explanation.)

Cucumber Dill Sauce

1 fresh cucumber
1/4 c. chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
8 oz. plain Greek yogurt // low-fat sour cream (the fat-free variety is evil, but can be used)
pinch of salt

1. Peel the cucumber and remove the seeds, if any (English cucumbers are perfect for this recipe, but not necessary.)
2. Grate the cucumber with a cheese grater and set in a fine mesh strainer to allow the water to escape. Alternatively, you can use paper towels, but try not to lose to much of the vegetable that will stick to the towel. Set aside for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt.
3. Chop the shallot, dill and mint and place in a bowl; mix in the yogurt//sour cream. Taste and salt if the flavors need to be enhanced a tad.
4. Refrigerate.

Salmon Cakes

6 Salmon Filets
1/2 c. Lemonaise Light (or Veganaise or something similar)//mayonnaise
1/4 c. chopped fresh dill
1/4 c. chopped caperberries (the large ones are best for this recipe, if you use the small, they don’t really need to be chopped)
2 Omega-3 eggs, lightly beaten//2 eggs
olive oil
1 lemon
1/4 c. or so of gluten free flour or cornmeal (I used potato starch for the ones in the picture)
Salt & Cracked Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place the salmon filets on the baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Crack pepper on the salmon and sprinkle each filet with a pinch of sea salt.
3. Bake in the over on the medium rack until just pink, about 15-20 minutes, but check for doneness. Do no overcook and dry out the salmon, it has the opportunity to cook again once it’s made into a patty, so being a bit undercooked is better than being overcooked.
4. Remove from the over, and place the salmon, still on the parchment, on a rack. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze 1/2 of the lemon over the hot salmon allow to cool to room temperature.
5. While the salmon is in the oven, chop the dill and caperberries. Mix into the Lemonaise Light and set aside.
6. When the salmon is completely cooled, place in a large bowl and flake apart with a fork.
7. Add the beaten egg to the salmon and mix until incorporated.
8. Add the Lemonaise/herb mixture and mix. Cover with a plastic wrap to keep it moist and refrigerate (this will help the patties stay together, but is not necessary if you don’t have time).
9. Place the cornmeal or flour in a shallow bowl.
10. Make small patties from the salmon mix, about an inch thick, and dredge into the flour or meal. Place on a plate or tray.
11. When you are ready to make the patties, light fry each in a castiron skillet if you have one, with a bit of oil over medium low heat, about 3-4 minutes per side. Cover while it is cooking. It is important to keep the heat low because you only want to warm the pre-cooked salmon and give the outer surfaces a nice crisp. Just before removing the salmon cake from the skillet, squeeze the lemon over it again.
12. Serve with a dollop of the cucumber sauce and a side salad with champagne vinaigrette dressing.

OPTIONS
1. Serve on a multigrain roll for added substance.