Archive for winter meals

Marc Vetri’s Pasta with Venison and Pear Ragu

A cook’s dream: impressive dish, with a complex flavor but truly simple!

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Me cook like Marc Vetri?    Trust me, it’s easier than you think.  Ok, not in all things, but you really need only one show stopper to justify bragging rights.  Here’s mine…..

Venison Pear Ragu with thanks to Marc Vetri

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb venison sausage

2 cups red wine

1-2 cups water

4 parmigiano rinds

2 firm, ripe pears

1 lb fresh pasta

1/4 cup grated parmigiano cheese, for serving

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in large pot.  Remove sausage from casing and brown for about 5 minutes.  Add red wine and parmigiano rinds and cook til liquid is reduced by half.  Add enough water to almost cover ingredients, turn heat to low, and simmer, covered about 2 hrs.  At this point, you can leave it for a day or so, or proceed with the recipe.  Peel and chop pears.  Heat remaining Tbsp oil in skillet, and saute pears, seasoning with salt and pepper til they sweat, about 5 minutes.  Add to ragu.  Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente, drain, and dump it into the ragu to blend thoroughly.  Remove rinds,  serve topped with parmigiano cheese.




Crockpot White Cabbage and Sausages

Crockpot white cabbage with English ‘banger’ sausages

This Christmas I learned that my teen daughter actually likes red cabbage; she wolfed down a sizable helping at Christmas Dinner.  Emboldened by her rekindled interest in Winter veggies, I thought I’d try improving on my baked white cabbage recipe – so as to make it appeal to her less mature teen palate.  (The recipe is kind of a riff on sauerkraut and wurst, only it’s less acidic and less salty.)

I took a number of the ingredients I would normally use for my crockpot red cabbage and apple recipe, played around a little, and came up with the following recipe, and because white cabbage smells horrid while it is cooking, I cooked it in a slow cooker to contain that distinct ‘cabbage-y’ smell.

  • 1 small white cabbage, sliced finely
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 tbsps olive oll
  • 2 tsps of sugar
  • Salt, pepper and any herbs you favor, to taste
  • Good pinch of mustard powder
  • Good pinch of coriander powder
  • Good pinch of Beck’s Devil Dust, to give it a kick
  • 1 tbsp of vinegar – I like rice vinegar but you can use cider vinegar or any of the sweeter vinegars, not malt vinegar
  • 1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth if you prefer
  • 2 or more large cooked sausages sliced into chunks (I used traditional English bangers from the Reading Terminal Market)
Start it in the pan and then finish in a crockpot; helps avoid that cabbage-y pong that lingers...
  1. Dice your cabbage
  2. Melt butter in pan and add oil and all your spices; stir oil mix for a few minutes until butter begins to brown
  3. Add cabbage and fry for about 5 mins
  4. Add stock and vinegar and fry for another minute
  5. Transfer contents of frypan to a crockpot.  I cooked the cabbage for 2 hours on a medium setting.  You can alter this depending on how crunchy or how soft you like your cabbage to be.
  6. About 15-20 minutes before serving cut up the pre-cooked sausages into bite-sized pieces and add to the crockpot.
  7. Serve once sausages are thoroughly warmed through.
This is an easy cook Winter warmer that also freezes readily.

Beef Stew by the Husband

We strongly encourage culinary interest in the men in our lives.  I am delighted to say that my husband has continued his run of taking over the kitchen on Sundays.

Poor guy. He’s the one who is forever missing specialty dishes at home when he travels for business. Then he comes home on a weekend and volunteers to take on Sunday dinner. He favors  hearty, manly foods like stews, braises, and lotsa meat. Last week, he pulled out his trusty Beef Stew recipe, courtesy of epicurious, and made a generous tub in advance of Hurricane Sandy’s arrival.

Now, I know better than to make unsolicited suggestions to someone who is willing to cook dinner for me.  At least not to his face.  But I have to say that the beauty of a stew is that all of the ingredients are tossed in together, simmered to tenderness and spooned out later.  This version requires a lot of different pots, many steps, at least one massive strain of hot ingredients through a colander, two versions of cooked vegetables (one for the stock, which is discarded, and one to simmer during the final hour of cooking and eat.)   In sum, an awful lot of fuss for a meal that, in my mind, should be simple.

However–and this is a biggie–you can’t argue with the results.  The stew is delicious, and I am spared both the cooking and the cleanup.  I am also given another night off, because this recipe makes enough for about 10 people, so I normally freeze half and save it for a(nother) rainy day.

He started by searing the meat, removing it from the pot, setting it aside,

preparing the braising liquid with wine, veggies, broth, and seasonings….

 Served with roasted golden cauliflower, crusty bread and a simple green salad, the stew was pretty great.  Followed by my brown butter apple tart (to be featured in upcoming post) we were well fortified to withstand the anticipated storm.