"Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we've lived."
-Jean Luc Picard

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spaghetti, Salad, Bread and Brownies

Yesterday, I made spaghetti and served it with some French bread, salad with a Balsamic vinaigrette, (not vinegar-ette, Sandy!) and some brownies for dessert. After seeing Anne Burrell make Bolognese sauce on her show, I decided to alter my usual recipe and try some of her suggestions.

Earlier, I had taken half a pound of smoked sausage out of the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator. (I had chopped it up before I put it INto the freezer.)

Here I am browning the sausage a bit. Then I scooped out the sausage, and placed it in the bottom of my crockpot while the chopped garlic had a quick turn in the skillet before joining up with the sausage. Then, I added 18 ounces of tomato paste to the skillet, and cooked that for a bit.

Once, the paste had a brownish-red color to it, I added 2 cups of red wine and 1 cup of water. I stirred that in and let it cook until the wine/water mixture had reduced by about half.

Then, I added poured this INto my crockpot on top of the sausage and garlic from earlier, and added three cups of water, some salt, pepper, a couple of bay leaves, and some dried Italian herbs. Yes, I do have basil growing in the Areogarden but, but Mr. Hairball has asked me to leave the basil alone for the time being. It seems I plucked off more than I should have a few days ago to make some basil-garlic vinaigrette. *sheepish grin*

I set my crockpot on high, and I left the lid ajar by about an inch so that the water could slowly cook off. I periodically added a cup of water and let it cook back down throughout the day. I fished out the bay leaves and adjusted the seasonings a bit before serving.

After I got the sauce in the crockpot, I made some French bread dough in my bread machine. After the bread machine finished its dough cycle, I shaped the loaves, left them to do their second rise, and baked them in the oven.

Mr. Hairball loves to eat crusty bread with just a small dish of olive oil for dipping. I forgot to take a picture of his bread plate so you could see the cut bread, so here's what it looked like on my plate of spaghetti. This bread would also make wonderful garlic bread!

I decided I wanted a Balsamic vinaigrette for the salad, so I mixed this up. The picture is at angle as I was trying to not have the cabinets reflected on the surface of the dressing.

It's just Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, garlic, olive oil, and brown mustard. I used a 3 to 1 ratio of olive oil to vinegar, a tablespoon sized blob of mustard, four cloves of peeled garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. I buzzed in up in my mini-food processor till the garlic was pretty finely chopped.

This is Mr. Hairball's salad. He prefers mozzarella cheese on his salad unless it's a Caesar salad.

A few days ago, I made some brownies. Mr. Hairball ate them all and asked me to make another batch. So I made a double batch which will hopefully last until this weekend. This picture is of the first batch.

I based this recipe on one from Domino Sugar.

This is for a single batch for an 8x8 pan. It doubles nicely. Use a 9x13 pan if you make a double batch.

Brown Sugar Brownies

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 Tablespoons softened butter
2 eggs
6 Tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa (Hershey's Special Dark works well in these)
1/2 tablespoon (1.5 teaspoons) instant coffee
1/2 cup AP flour
1 cup whole walnuts or pecan halves

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 8x8x2-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in cocoa, instant coffee, and flour. Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle nuts over the top evenly. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool in pan and cut into bars.

The Pantry

In light of the Swine Flu outbreak, I think all of us need to evaluate the status of our pantries. Here's a great post on this topic from a simple living blog that I have recently started reading:

down---to---earth: Preparing for an emergency