Archive for October, 2009

From Dish Gwen:

Mashed taters

As much as I don’t want to admit it, fall is officially here. My bright green garden has turned brown and gray, and suddenly I have this enormous craving for apple cider all the time. Likewise, my CSA share no longer includes the colorful and fruity fare that I enjoyed cooking up over the summer, and for the past month my weekly share has consisted mainly of a few pounds of potatoes. And they’re adding up.

To say that I have 100 pounds of potatoes is a bit of an exaggeration, but there really are so many that I don’t have enough space to store them in my kitchen.
Whole potatoes
They’ve been living in a canvas shopping bag in my bedroom – call it New York living, or just call it gross. Time to get rid of the freaking potatoes.

I’m not going to pretend like mashed potatoes are hard to make – we’ve all made them before and there’s nothing particularly mysterious about them. This is the way I like to make them, and when I do I make a big batch so I can eat them for lunch the next day or freeze them for a later meal.


-Lots of potatoes, half sweet and half white
– garlic (3 cloves per pound of potato)
– Butter and/or olive oil (3 tablespoons per pound of potato)
– Fresh parsley, chopped (2 tablespoons per pound of potato)
– Salt (to taste, or 1 tablespoon per pound of potato)


Boiling potatoesTake all of your potatoes, rinse them off, and boil them in a big pot of salted water. Don’t peel or cut them, and don’t worry about scrubbing too hard or cutting out all the eyes – just pull off whatever you can with your hands. Boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes until they’re soft enough to mash, and strain off the water and give the taters another rinse if it looks like they need it (basically if there’s any grit left on them).

In a clean pot or large heavy bowl, mash up the potatoes (skin on) with butter or olive oil. I mash them about half-way, to the point that there aren’t any large chunks but so they aren’t super smooth either. Add in chopped fresh parsley and salt and mix thoroughly so the colors and flavors are consistent. Serve as a side with meat and a salad, eat it for lunch on its own, or include it on the menu as part of a big holiday meal.

Stop, or Dish Gwen will shoot!

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From Dish Erin:

plated pork

I realize the irony that my last post was an attempt to hang onto summer, and now I’m pretty much featuring the poster dish of fall.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for Halloween.  I carved a jack o’ lantern on Sunday and I’m knee deep in mini Snickers, Reese’s and Baby Ruth wrappers – viva autumn!

pork prep


Olive oil
2 pork chops
Salt & pepper
1 small apple, sliced
1 small yellow onion, sliced into half-rings
3/4 cup of white wine*
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Sprig of thyme
Pat of butter

For mashed sweet potatoes, I do a little half & half:
1 large sweet potato
1 medium sized white baking potato
1/4 cup whole milk or heavy cream
Pat of butter

Start by popping the potatoes in the oven at 350 degrees. They’ll take about an hour to cook. The pork will take about 20-25 minutes to come together, so plan accordingly.

In a cast iron skillet or deep sautee pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. While the pan is heating, salt and pepper the pork chops and rub liberally with cumin.

When the pan is really hot, throw the pork chops on and sear for 2-3 minutes (depending on the size of your chops), then flip and sear the other side for another 2-3 minutes. If your chops are really thick, sear the sides as well for about a minute to lock in the juices.

Once they’re nice and brown, turn down the heat to medium, and pour in white wine to deglaze the pan, then add the apples and onions, garlic, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a sprig of thyme and a touch more salt & pepper. Rock the pan gently to make sure all the onions and apples are nicely coated and well distributed in the pan. Cover and simmer for about 4 minutes until the apples are fork tender. At the very end, stir in a pat (or two) of butter and cook for one more minute, uncovered. Remove from heat.

pork cooking

Remove the potatoes from the oven, slice open, scoop out the potato into a bowl or pot, and discard the skin. Add milk, butter, dash of salt, and dash of cinnamon. Blend with hand mixer or masher until smooth.

To plate, Put a scoop of mashed potatoes in center of plate, place a chop to the side, and cover both with a heaping spoonful of onion-apple mix and pan juices.


ej with pork
*I’ve made this recipe with a substitution of 1/4 cup bourbon and 1/2 cup chicken stock for the white wine.  It’s absolutely delicious, but not everyone has bourbon in the kitchen.  What can I say, I love me a Manhattan.  If you have some, I highly suggest this variation, as it adds a richness and caramel flavor to the dish.


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From Dish Jess:

Butternut Squash Gratin

This recipe was conceived as a much richer incarnation of itself for a dinner party a couple years ago, in celebration of Dish Rachelle’s Saucy Little Boyfriend’s birthday. It was thick with cream and butter, and a delightful addition to a very indulgent foodie-filled potluck.

For this version, I scaled down the fat in hopes that these vegetables, fresh from the farmer’s market, would lend enough flavor to pack a punch on their own.


Sliced squashJulienned vegetables

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, halved and cut into ¼” slices
3 leeks, julienned
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
4 oz fresh goat cheese
¼ cup whole milk
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried thyme
½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped coarse
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°. Toss squash with 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a cookie sheet and roast 15-20 minutes, until edges begin browning.

In the meantime, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, oregano and thyme and sauté until tender, around 15 minutes.

Ready to bakeWhen the squash is finished, turn the oven to 375°. Use the rest of the olive oil to grease a square baking dish – I used a CorningWare dish about 2½“ deep.

Layer 1/3 of the squash, 1/3 leeks, and 1/3 goat cheese (crumbled or sliced thin) and repeat until all ingredients are used.

Pour the milk over the top and sprinkle with hazelnuts. Bake at 375° for half an hour, or until internal temperature reaches 140° and your kitchen is fragrant with leeks and hazelnuts.

Served with leftover vegetable barley soup, this was a healthy vegetarian meal that satisfied even my unapologetic inner carnivore. Viva vegetables!

Dish Jess goes veg

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Every so often, Saucy Little Dish will feature a guest blogger. This week it’s Dish Danielle’s lovely roommate Jessie, who is a Whisk & Ladle cook and a fantastic baker!

Cinnamon-Apple Upside-Down Cake

I have to be honest, cakes generally bore me (sorry, I’m just more of a pie person). However, I do love everything about cakes of the upside-down variety. I’m not sure if it’s the suspense of waiting to see the gooey, caramelized fruit or if it’s just the laziness of being able to throw everything in a cast iron and call it a day. Either way, they are just extremely fun cakes to make.

So this week, when I found out that I would need to contribute an apple upside-down cake to the Greenpoint Soup Kitchen, I was super excited. Since I had previously only made pineapple and pear upside-down cakes, I turned to the old trusty epicurious.com for some inspiration. I found an recipe for a butterscotch apple upside-down cake that seemed promising, but decided to axe the butterscotch at the last minute in favor of the more classic and fall-like cinnamon-apple combo. (Plus, all of the butterscotch/apple talk made me think of candied apples which for some reason did not sound appetizing in cake form.) Here is the recipe, with my slight tweaking:

• 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 2/3 cup baker’s sugar regular sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup 2% greek yogurt (or you could use sour cream)
• 1/2 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)

• 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon cinnamon
• 2 8-ounce Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

For cake:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until blended. Beat in flour mixture, then sour cream. Stir in chopped apple. Set aside while preparing butterscotch-caramel apples.

For apples:

Melt butter in 10-inch-diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add brown sugar and cinnamon; stir until melted and smooth and mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes. Add apple slices to skillet and cook until golden brown, using tongs to turn slices, about 3 minutes per side (there will be a lot of liquid in skillet). Remove skillet from heat and let cool 3 minutes. Using tongs, arrange apple slices in skillet in concentric circles or other pattern.

Apples in panApple pattern halfwayApples arranged

Carefully spoon cake batter in small dollops atop apples in skillet. Using offset spatula, gently spread batter evenly to edges of skillet (batter will seem to float on top of apples and pan juices). Bake until cake is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in skillet 10 minutes.

Apples and batterCooling cake

Run knife around edges of cake to loosen. Place large platter atop skillet. Using oven mitts or pot holders, hold platter and skillet firmly together and invert, allowing cake to settle onto platter. Serve cake warm.

Jessie with cake

Side note: If you live in Greenpoint/Williamsburg and are looking for a great cause to get involved with (or you just love to bake!) then you should check out the Dessert Corps Volunteer Program at the Greenpoint Soup Kitchen. They are lovely folks and I highly recommend it if you are interested.

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From Dish Rachelle:

Pasta with sausage, broccoli rabe and tomato sauce

We have some mind-meld happening at Saucy Little Dish – first a roasted poultry run, and now a cluster of tomato sauces. There’s certainly room for both: Dish Paige!’s Sopranos-inspired gravy is the classic day-long cooking project, while this weeknight bolognese is a great twenty-minute meal if you’re feeling pressed for time, but still want something saucy. Over the past few years, I’ve stopped buying jarred tomato sauces, unable to find one that tastes like tomatoes instead of sugar, preservatives, or artificial basil flavor (yuck). My Prego and Classico days behind me, I still love an easy dinner of pasta with sauce, and go through tons of canned San Marzano tomatoes as I experiment with varieties of meat-based and vegetarian sauces. I made this meal on a Friday after work before a birthday party. My dinner guest Bobert – whose appetite is legendary – prefers his meals with a good amount of protein, so I picked a sausage bolognese out of my bag of tricks, saving the tofu-seitan soufflee for another evening.

Cut onionIngredients (Serves 2-4):

4 links hot Italian sausage
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup white, yellow or vidalia onion, diced
1 small to medium-sized carrot, peeled and sliced into very thin rounds
2 cups good-quality diced canned tomatoes
1 bunch broccoli rabe, washed, stems trimmed, and roughly chopped
2 tblsp. finely chopped parsley
Salt & pepper to taste
Grated hard, salty Italian cheese for serving (like parmesean, pecorino, or asiago), to taste

I served this with Emilia Brand potato gnocchi, but you can use the pasta of your choice.


Boil water, add salt, and cook pasta according to package directions. In the meantime…


Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Remove each sausage from its casing over the pan, by slicing through the outer layer and peeling it off and letting the meat land in the olive oil. Discard casings. Break up meat with a wooden spoon and saute until pinkish-brown, roughly 4 minutes. Add garlic, onion and carrots, lowering heat to medium. Saute until meat is browned and onions are translucent, another 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir to mix. Let stand over heat 1-2 minutes, then add broccoli rabe. Adjust heat to medium-low, and partially cover with a large lid and cook until leaves are wilted, another 5-7 minutes. Stir to incorporate. Season with pepper and parsley. Taste before adding salt; the sausage will be significantly salted so you’ll probably need to add less than you think.

Before removing pan from heat, toss in cooked pasta and stir to coat. Serve immediately with cheese.

Your dinner guest might look skeptical, but then he’ll probably eat three servings.Bobert w/ gnocchi

I’ll keep turning them out!

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From Dish Paige!:


Like most people from New Jersey, I’m pretty much obsessed with The Sopranos. Of course, I’ve never had HBO so while the show was airing, I caught as many episodes as I could at other people’s houses and when the fourth season came out on DVD, I started at the beginning and just devoured every episode one right after the other. From then on when the next season would come out, I’d start at the beginning again, adding on the new episodes. Sometimes I feel like I can relate just about any situation in real life to an episode of The Sopranos, and by association turn just about anything into an excuse to make some Italian food. By this method, when I sat down on Sunday to plan what to do for this month’s Saucy Little Dish, I realized it would go live on Columbus Day and my thoughts immediately turned to the episode in season 4 when the New Jersey Council of Indian Affairs plans to disrupt the annual Columbus Day Parade and Silvio takes it as anti-Italian discrimination. And so it was decided: Sunday Gravy, courtesy of The Sopranos Family Cookbook.

Pork ribsFor the Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb meaty pork spareribs
1 lb veal neck bones
1 pound Italian-style sweet sausage
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
3 28-35 ounce cans Italian peeled tomatoes
2 cups water
Salt & pepper
6 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

For the Meatballs
1 lb ground meatloaf mix (a combination of beef, pork and veal)
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (I didn’t have any bread or bread crumbs so I used oatmeal and it worked just fine!)
2 large eggs
2 cloves very finely minced garlic
1/2 cup very finely minced onion
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

To Serve
1 pound rigatoni
freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Pat the pork dry and put the pieces in the pot. Cook, turning occasionally for about 15 minutes, or until the meat is nicely browned on all sides then transfer to a plate. Brown the veal in the same way and add it to the plate. Place the sausages in the pot and brown on all sides. Set the sausages aside with the rest of the meat.

Drain off most of the fat from the pot, add the garlic and cook for about two minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and discard the garlic. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add in the cans of tomatoes, squishing up the whole tomatoes before they go into the pot. Add the water, salt and pepper to taste. Add the pork, veal and sausages back into the pot along with the basil. Bring the sauce to a simmer then partially cover the pot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for 2 hours. If the gravy/sauce becomes too thick, add a little more water.

Meanwhile, after about an hour and a half, begin to make the meatballs by combining all the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl. Once thoroughly mixed, shape the mixture into 2-inch balls. Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the meatballs and brown them well on all sides, and transfer to a plate.

After the gravy/sauce has been simmering for 2 hours, add the meatballs and cook for 30 minutes until the gravy/sauce is thick and the meats are very tender.

To serve, remove the meats and set aside. Toss the cooked pasta with the gravy/sauce, and sprinkle with cheese. Serve the meats as a second course, or reserve them for another day.

Makes about 8 cups.
Paige! & sauce

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Pan de Muerto

From Dish Amelia:

Pan de Muerto

Pan de Muerto is “Bread of the Dead”: a traditional Mexican sweet bread made for Day of the Dead, which is coming right up. I made this last year by hand for some reason (why – why did I do that?) but it is far simpler in the mixer of course. Like most yeast breads, it doesn’t really require too much effort or active time – it’s just the rising that takes so long. I did this over three days; first I made the starter, then the dough, then came the shaping and baking. This recipe is adapted from Diana Kennedy’s book From My Mexican Kitchen which is just my style, offers a ton of steps and lots of information, and is a fabulous and useful work. This bread is beautiful, special, tastes wonderful and is perfect with coffee or hot chocolate. I should also mention that this dough is perhaps one of the best things you will ever touch.

Fresh yeast

Fresh yeast


4 scant cups flour (plus extra for bowl and work surface)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 T fresh yeast, or 1 scant T dry yeast (fresh yeast smells amazing and has a texture unlike anything else, and I have found it surprisingly easy to come by in Greenpoint markets)
1/2 cup + 2 T water
3 Lg eggs lightly beaten
unsalted butter for greasing bowl

Put flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the mixer bowl and gradually beat in water and eggs. Mix about 5 min till shiny, sticky, elastic dough forms. Turn it out and form into a round cushion. Grease and flour a clean bowl and place cushion in here and cover with a well greased wax paper sheet and a towel, and let rise somewhere warm, 2 hours.

Dough cushionStarter in the bowl

Getting your hands dirtyDough

1 cup sugar
7 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1 lb or 4 scant cups AP flour (plus extra for board and bowl)
8 yolks, lightly beaten with 2 T of water
about 1/4 cup water
grated zest of 1 orange
1 tsp orange flower water

Tear starter into pieces and put in mixer bowl with the butter and sugar. Mix with dough hook and alternately add yolks and flour. Beat in water and flavoring. When it becomes shiny, sticky, and smooth turn it out and form into a cushion again. Get underneath this and wrap it around you. Stay there for several hours or overnight, if you have time. Put the cushion into another clean greased and floured bowl and cover with greased wax paper and a towel and set somewhere warm, or in the fridge (where it is not warm, but it can rise extra-slowly).

Once it is all risen, let it come to room-temp.  Liberally grease 4 baking sheets or however many you need. I made one big Pan de Muerto one and two small ones but you can figure this out however you like. If you make three, like I did, divide in half, and then divide one of those in half. Take the section of dough you are using, cover the others, and divide into 4 quarters, take three quarters and form this into a cushion.

Form and cover a new cushionBreaking up the doughBones and skull

Form the other pieces into “bones” and a “skull”: Make the “bones” by rolling out a snake about as long as your cushion is wide and pinch it in the middle and at the ends, to make knobs. Push eyes into the skull.

Glazed bread ready to bakeGlaze

4 egg yolks well beaten
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar

When it rises a couple hours later, preheat the oven to 375 and arrange the bones and skull onto the cushion. Brush with glaze. Bake until springy to the touch and golden. Let cool, then brush with melted butter and dust with sugar.

Amelia and bread

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