Holiday Cranberry Horseradish Sauce
Makes about 1 ½ cups
- 1 can jellied cranberry sauce
- 1 tsp grated orange zest
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
- 2-3 heaping tsp prepared horseradish (you could use freshly grated too, just remember it is stronger than the prepared stuff, so decrease amount by a teaspoon or so)
- 1 apple, peeled and grated (about ¾ cups)
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ tsp salt
Bring all of the ingredients to a boil, then turn down to simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes until it thickens slightly. Let cook completely, then keep covered in refrigerator. Calories: about 110 per ¼ cup.
Mushroom Ragu Makes about 1 1/2 cups
- ½ TBSP olive oil
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 package (10 oz.) sliced cremini mushrooms
- ¼ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- ¾ cup boiling water
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp chopped thyme
- ½ tsp finely chopped rosemary
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 2-3 TBSPs dry sherry
- 1 TBSP corn starch
- 1 TBSP soy sauce
- A good squeeze of lemon (about ¼ of a lemon’s worth)
- Salt and pepper
Add the dried porcinis to a bowl and cover with 3/4 cup boiling water. Let steep for 15 minutes. Scoop out the mushrooms and chop, reserving the mushroom liquid.
Sauté onions, mushrooms, herbs and a pinch of salt over medium heat until the onions are wilted, the mushrooms have given up most of their liquid and the pan is just moist, about 7-9 minutes. Add the garlic and a few grinds of pepper and sauté another minute or two until the pan is dry. Add in the tsp of tomato paste and cook 1-2 minutes until the tomato paste is a dark mahogany color. Remove the pan from heat and deglaze with the dry sherry, scraping up any browned bits in the pan. Strain the mushroom liquid into the pan. Bring to a simmer.
Dissolve the cornstarch in the tablespoon of soy sauce and a tablespoon of water. Add to the pan and stir 2-3 minutes over a slow simmer. The sauce will thicken as you stir. Turn off heat and squeeze in a quarter lemon. This sauce freezes well, so I will often make a double batch and stow half until I need it (like when I want it over a humble baked potato for dinner.) Calories: approximately 115 per half cup.
Mixed Mushroom Sauce
This sauce is great over pasta, but if I wanted to be truly authentic to the foods of Milan, I’d serve it over soft polenta. It also makes a terrific topping for toasted bread (which is how I ate it this morning!)
Serves 2 over pasta or polenta, more if a topping for bruschetta, and can be easily doubled or tripled
- 2 TBSP butter, in two pieces
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp minced garlic
- 1 TBSP minced shallots
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup dry white wine or white vermouth
- 8 oz mixed fresh mushrooms (I like a combination of cremini and chanterelles), sliced about ¼ inch thick
- 1/4 oz. of about 1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 TBSP finely chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
Soak the dried mushrooms in 1/3 cup boiling water for 15 minutes until soft. (DON’T throw out the soaking liquid – you’ll need it for the sauce.)
Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tsp olive oil in sauté pan. Add shallots, garlic and thyme and cook just until you can smell the garlic (about 1 minute). Add the sliced fresh mushrooms, and the soaked porcinis, giving them a quick squeeze to get some of the liquid out. Don’t forget to saving the soaking liquid. Add in a few grinds of black pepper, a good pinch of salt and sauté over medium heat until the mushrooms have given up all their water and the pan is relatively dry (about 10 minutes).
Once the mushrooms are pretty dry, turn up the heat and add the wine. Carefully pour in the mushroom soaking liquid, making sure to leave the grit in the bottom of the dish behind. Bring the liquid to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the pan, and add in the second tablespoon of butter and half the lemon zest. Turn down to low and simmer about 3 minutes. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper if necessary. Add in the remaining lemon zest and chopped parsley. Serve over pasta, polenta or toasted crusty bread. Buon appetito! Calories: about 185 per serving (for 2 servings).
Fire-Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
From A RED letter day
Makes about 1 1/3 cups sauce
- 3 red peppers (about 1 ¼ lbs, or about 10 oz. of peeled and seeded flesh)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped onion (½ a small onion)
- 1 small clove garlic, sliced
- ½ tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1 ½ TBSP toasted slivered almonds
- 1 tsp white balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar or good white wine vinegar (red balsamic will change the beautiful color of the sauce)
- 1 ½ TBSP creamy goat cheese
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
Roast the peppers: The easiest way to do this is on an outdoor grill, but since I don’t have a grill but do have a gas stove, I do this on my stove top. I lay the pepper on the grate over a medium flame, watch them carefully and turn them until they are charred on all sides. And I never walk away from them (it is an open flame after all). If the prospect of this makes you a little nervous or you don’t have a gas stove, these can be done under the broiler, and I have even done them under the broiler in my toaster oven. They don’t get as much char, but they do roast nicely, and the end result is basically the same. You can also buy the peppers already roasted. For me, playing with kitchen pyrotechnics has a certain appeal and making them myself is ultimately cheaper, especially if red peppers are on sale.
Once the peppers are charred all over, put them in a bowl and seal it well with cling film so the peppers steam a little. This will help the skins come off more easily. Let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Once they are, peel them and remove the seeds and pith carefully. There may be some steam left inside the pepper, and the liquid inside could still be quite hot. I peel them over a bowl so any juices are saved. Do NOT peel them under running water or you’ll be washing a lot of good flavor down the drain.
When you have everything cleaned, add it to the blender, along with any accumulated juices in the bowl (I strain the bowl over the blender). Puree the peppers and set aside. Don’t clean the blender — you’ll be using it again to puree the final sauce.
In a nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil and sweat the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes. You don’t want to color, just soften. Add in the thyme and sauté for a minute. Add in the pepper puree, vinegar, salt, pepper and ¼ cup of water. Bring to a gentle boil, cover and turn down to a low simmer for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes turn heat off and pour the sauce into the blender. Add the almonds, goat cheese, lemon juice and zest. Puree the sauce until it is smooth (using good “hot liquid in blender” technique – center plug out, cover hole with towel, and start on low before turning to high or all that pretty and hot orange sauce will be all over your pretty white kitchen walls and you.)
Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed, or adding a little more lemon juice if you like. Calories: about 240 in 1 1/3 cups sauce, or 60 per 1/3-cup serving.
Quick tomato sauce
Makes 1 cup
- 5 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled or unpeeled (the sauce will be chunkier if you don’t peel, which is fine too.)
- 1 fat clove or garlic squashed but not so much that it doesn’t hold together
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- ½ tsp dried marjoram (use dried thyme if you don’t have marjoram)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, plus one big or two medium whole basil leaves
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- A small pinch crushed red pepper
- Large pinch of salt, and a few good grinding of pepper
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat (I use my nonstick – works well with this). Add in the shallots and a pinch of salt. Cook until the shallot softens a bit, add the squashed garlic clove, and cook for another minute until you smell the garlic. While you are waiting for the shallots and garlic, squeeze the peeled tomatoes into a bowl to break them up. (I suggest you do this in the sink, or it may look like you murdered someone in your kitchen – these babies squirt!)
Add the tomatoes, marjoram and chopped basil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to the pan. Bring to boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20-30 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Remove the garlic and taste the sauce for seasoning, adding more if necessary.
Carrot-Ginger Dressing (adapted from Food Network magazine) Makes about 1 cup
From The unemployment 20
- 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
- 2 TBSP chopped peeled ginger
- 1 TSP packed light brown sugar
- 2 TBSP rice vinegar
- 1 TSP fresh lemon juice
- 2 TSP soy sauce (low sodium if you have it, regular if you don’t)
- Salt to taste
- Optional: 2 TSP sesame oil – I leave this out because I have a friend who is severely allergic to sesame and it’s just bad manners to feed something to a guest and then watch them swell up like a balloon at the Macy’s parade….entertaining, yes — polite, no. You can substitute another oil if you want, and the dressing tastes just fine without too.
Put the carrot and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Reserve ½ cup cooking liquid, then drain the carrot.Put the cooked carrots and reserved cooking liquid in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the ginger, brown sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce and 1 pinch of salt (and sesame oil if using). Blend again until smooth. Keeps in a jar in the fridge a good long time. Calories: about 15 per 2 TBSP.
Suggestions for uses: Salads, obviously, and goes particularly well on a hearty green like spinach. Toss in some cut up leftover chicken, your favorite crunchy raw veggies, maybe some sliced grapes or apples and a few toasted almonds and you have a great lunch or light dinner. This is also a nice light dip or sauce for grilled shrimp, fish or tofu.