Growing up in California, grilling was a year-round experience. Â Here in Seattle, grilling is much more pleasant in the summer and early autumn. Â This summer, sadly, the temperature hasn’t gotten about 75 yet. Â So this California girl stares out the window, watching it drizzle and dreams of tortilla chips and guacamole on a sunny porch, tanned legs, and clinking cocktail glasses. Â Oh, it isn’t all bad in Seattle, I promise. Â We have beautiful springs full of cherry blossoms, but nothing will take the place of those too-hot California summers in my head. Â In spite of Seattle’s sunless skies, I decided that I was barbecuing, even if it was pouring outside. Â I invited friends, who brought over yummy vegetables to grill, and I decided to try Phyllis Diller’s recipe for barbecued chicken.
It’s a simple recipe for barbecue sauce, but it was tangy, spicy, sweet, and received rave reviews from the entire group. Â A few recipe notes: I used ketchup that had no high-fructose corn syrup and, instead of hot pepper sauce, I used 4 liberal squirts of sriracha since I like my barbecue sauce on the spicy side.
So, while Seattle doesn’t have many sunny days, I can still eat barbecued chicken and lick my fingers like I did during my childhood. Â And this time, my mother wasn’t there to give me the “you’re being rude at the dinner table” look!
I don’t know about you, but I am always in need of quick, weekday meals. Â Since my mom gave Kevin and me a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day we usually have some dough chillin’ in the fridge. Â Lately, we’ve been rolling out the dough from the original recipe and making pizza crusts. Â After a quick preheat, lunch or dinner is ready in a matter of minutes! Â There’s only one problem: I’ve always been on the fence about prepared pizza sauce, and when I tried experimenting on my own, my sauces were runny or flavorless, so I always caved in to convenience and bought the over-priced pizza sauce at the store even though I knew it was something I could make on my own.
Enter the California Heritage Cookbook’s recipe for pizza sauce. Â It’s one of the few vintage cookbooks I own that has a recipe for pizza, so I decided to put it to the test. Â Well, I will never buy pizza sauce again. Â This recipe yielded a thick sauce that was both sweet and spicy. Â And, it freezes perfectly too! Â Take that, Thursday evenings.
(adapted from The California Heritage Cookbook, c. 1976)
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 28 oz. can tomato puree
1 12 oz. can tomato paste
1 tbsp. of each of the following fresh herbs, chopped: fresh oregano, basil, thyme, and parsley
1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1.Â SautÃ© garlic and onion in olive oil on medium heat for 5 minutes, or until soft.
2. Add tomato puree and paste and cook over low heat for another 10 minutes.
3. Add herbs and pepper flakes and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
4. Spread on pizza dough along with your favorite toppings. Â (We had fresh mozzarella and prosciutto.)
5. Freeze any extra sauce for up to 2 months.
I know that the title of this post is an oxymoron, but that’s how I feel about Pasta e Fagioli. Â It’s a simple, yet hearty dish, but with a few additions, its the type of meal that looks beautiful and modern, while satisfying almost everyone around the table. Â Most of the recipes I saw in my research were for a soup, but not the one from The Vintage Epicure, which is the base recipe I used for my version. Â You’ll see that I couldn’t resist putting bacon in mine, but one could easily leave it out and use olive oil without losing much flavor.
This dish turned out to be a powerhouse. Â Not only did it feed Kevin and me for three nights, each evening the flavors became even more lovely and complex. Â We both decided that this recipe will definitely become a staple in our house.
Pasta e Fagioli
(very loosely adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure) serves 6
1.5 cups dried beans (I used a mixture of beans that included kidney, black, and navy beans as well as some lentils)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 slices bacon, drippings reserved
1 tsp. oregano and basil, chopped
1 medium can diced tomatoes
1 lb. elbow macaroni (or whatever pasta you’d like!)
2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
1. Combine beans with 6 cups of water and soak overnight.
2. The next day, pour beans and liquid into a dutch oven along with 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, bay leaves, and garlic cloves. Â Simmer beans until they are tender–about 2 or 3 hours. Â When the beans are tender, discard bay leaf and smash garlic cloves with a spoon until they are incorporated into the bean mixture. Â At this point, the beans should have some extra liquid–about the consistency of a hearty stew.
3. Â Cook bacon and set aside, reserving bacon drippings.
4. Dice onions, celery, and carrots andÂ sautÃ©Â in bacon drippings for 10 minutes. Â Add basil and oregano and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Â Add to bean mixture. Â At this point, add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Cook pasta in boiling water as directed on package. Â Drain pasta and add to bean mixture.
6. Serve with gratedÂ ParmesanÂ cheese, chopped parsley, and finely-chopped bacon.