Welsh Rarebit

There are special recipes to consider now that the fall and winter seasons are coming upon us. One of those recipes is Welsh Rarebit. I love English “Pub Grub” comfort foods and a well prepared Welsh Rarebit soothes and relaxes like few others dishes can do, especially on a cold day.


O.K. Men! This may not be a romantic nosh, but once in a while you have to treat yourself.



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Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons of Room Temperature Butter

2 Tablespoons of All Purpose flour

1 Teaspoon of Mustard (use your favorite spicy brown, Dijon, whatever)

1 Teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce

½ Teaspoon each of Salt and Pepper

½ Cup of Dark Beer (Aficionados of this dish love to use a porter, but I prefer Shiner Bock)

¾ Heavy Cream or Half n’ Half

6 Oz. Shredded Cheddar Cheese (do not use aged cheese)

8 Slices of bread (I prefer seedless rye)

Step 1:  In a 2 quart pot, melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Let the roux cook for at least 1 – 2 minutes. Remember, you can’t put cold butter into a hot pan. It will turn brown and nasty in seconds. It’s better to use room temperature butter and melt it over medium heat.

Step 2: Add the beer. The beer will cool off the pot, which will allow you to add the cream without shocking it. Go ahead and add the cream and all other ingredients except the cheese

Step 3: When the mixture has heated (not boiling) you can add the cheese and stir. The cheese will melt and absorb the liquid creating a silky smooth cheese sauce. If you let this mixture boil (or used aged cheddar) the sauce will be gritty instead of smooth and creamy.

This is also a good time to toast your bread.

Step 4: Move an oven rack to the highest position and turn on your broiler. Spoon the cheese sauce over each toasted slice. I like to put my slices of bread on a cookie sheet. Watch as the cheese starts to bubble and create a brown crust. It can go from golden brown goodness to black burnt yuck very quickly. Have your oven mitts ready to remove the cookie sheet instantly.

Step 5: Eat and enjoy. It washes down especially well with the same beer that you used to make the sauce.

I could not get my hands on a bakery quality loaf of seedless rye bread and had to opt for a country white loaf as evidenced by the photo. It was still quite yummy, and so was the beer.

Is your recipe different? Let me know how this came out.

Pasta, Grandma’s Way: An Exquisite but Simple Italian Tomato Sauce

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Ciao amici! I know there are as many different versions of tomato sauce as there are households in Italy, so here’s mine. It was handed down from my grandmother, who was raised on a farm south of Rome.  Meatballs, of course, constitute another blog post.


Psst. If you’re not a Latin Lover, you can certainly pretend when you serve her this delight.


Ingredients for Tomato Sauce:

2 medium onions

2 12oz. cans of crushed tomatoes

1 head of garlic

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

2 cups of soup stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable)

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

¼ cup of red wine (not a cooking wine – choose something you would drink)

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of flour

salt and pepper to taste

1 pound of dried pasta (I’m prefer Barilla Pasta, but use whatever you prefer)

Step 1. Peel the garlic and dice the onions. Pour the olive oil into a pot over medium heat. Then put the garlic in right away. The oil doesn’t have to be hot yet, because you don’t want to cook garlic over high heat. When the garlic is golden -not brown – remove it and set it aside.

Step 2. Put the onions in the pot and cook for 5 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent. Then put in the tomato paste and wine. Once the tomato paste has spread throughout the mixture, it’s time to deal with the garlic again. Squeeze the cooked and softened garlic through a garlic press, and add the crushed tomatoes and stock.

Step 3. Turn the heat two notches below medium.  Cover the pot, leaving the cover slightly askew. Let the sauce bubble and simmer for about twenty minutes, stirring every five minutes.

Step 4. In a small skillet or frying pan, melt the butter and add the flour. Let it cook until it has an almond or beige color. Now you have a roux.  Remove it from the heat.

Step 5. Put 5 ladles of sauce into a blender and blend until smooth. Empty the blender into a second large pot.  Repeat until all of the sauce has been transferred.

Step 6. Now that your original pot is empty, pour the roux into the pot, along with three ladles of the now-smooth sauce. Beat the mixture with a wire whisk, hand-held mixer or immersion blender.

Step 7. Once the roux has been completely blended into the sauce, put all of the sauce back into the original pot. Salt and pepper to taste, and let it simmer until the pasta is ready.

Step 8. Make your pasta according to the directions on the box. Remember to salt the water after the pasta has been placed into the boiling water.

Step 9. Enjoy!

Yes, this is a lot of sauce.  However, you can freeze it in Tupperware for up to 60 days.  Think of all the great dinners you can get out of this!  Eggplant and chicken parmigiana, Ziti, lasagna, Manicotti….o.k. I gotta go. I’m hungry.

How to Dice or Slice an Onion

Many entrée recipes call for onions, from ordinary Country Stew to Chinese Fried Rice. If you don’t know how to properly handle this versatile little bulb, you’re in trouble.  But the steps below will help you out.

First you’ll have to go to the kitchen. You can do it! You’ve been in there before to grab a beer or to see if there are any potato chips left. Get an onion from the fridge – an onion is the round white thing that looks like a baseball without seams – and get ready to begin.

Dicing

  1. Put the onion on a cutting board.  Your wife or landlord won’t thank you for cutting up the counter top.
  2. Slice the onion in half lengthwise. Cut off the top, but not the bottom fuzzy part. Peel it and your onion should look like the one in the picture.
  3. First cuts:  On the same plane as your original cut make two more cuts from top to bottom, but don’t slice all the way through.  Now your half onion has been divided into thirds, but is still held together.
  4. Second cuts:  Now make cuts perpendicular to the first ones – take a look at the picture. These cuts (along with the next ones) will determine the size of your dice.

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5.  Third cuts:  Turn the onion ninety degrees.  You took off the top before, and now you’ll continue from that point and cut from top
to bottom.  Basically you’ve just cut a grid into the onion.

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6.  The result will be fine diced onion bits, ready for cooking.
7.  This technique can also be used on shallots and garlic.

For a French Cut

  1. Slice the onion in half lengthwise. Cut off the top AND the bottom fuzzy part.
  2. Peel and slice from top to bottom, just like the Third Cuts in the Dicing technique. You should wind up with half-circles (perfect for French Onion Soup).

Food Processors

Never, ever use a food processor to dice an onion!  The cell walls of the onion break down too much, resulting in a mush that tastes terrible when cooked.

Tools

This is going to be a painful and frustrating experience with a dull knife, so you’ll need a sharpener handy. But you don’t need an expensive electronic gizmo; hand sharpeners sell for around ten dollars. That’s right men, there are tools in the kitchen! Therefore, it is a manly domain (I can hear some of you grunting like Tim Allen on Tool Time).

In my next installment we’ll use these techniques to make a French Onion Soup that’s guaranteed to make the woman in your life purr.

Hope this helped your onion skills.  Try it out, and feel free to leave a comment letting me know how it worked for you.  Good luck!