Dips and Sauces

Homemade Chipotle Mayonnaise for Artichokes: Naturally Gluten and Dairy Free

March 27, 2011
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My mom grew up in California. My grandmother grew up in California, and her mother before her and hers before her. Even though I grew up in chilly New England, California runs in my blood – and thanks to my mother’s cooking during my childhood, also my tastebuds. She is the reason why I love apricots and fresh figs and avocados and artichokes. And she and my dad together both taught me to love beautiful fresh produce. When I was home with my parents a few years ago as we were making some wedding preparations, I remember driving for a full hour down to a market on the shore – one that specialized in certain miniature apple pies we were going to purchase as favors for our guests – and there we stumbled upon the most perfect artichokes I have ever seen – she said they reminded her of California, and that was it, we went home with apple pies, and a giant bag full of fresh beautiful artichokes :)

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Gluten Free Potato Gnocchi with Truffled Pesto Sauce

January 28, 2011
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Woohoo!! I did it! My first successful gluten free gnocchi, ever! I’ve made gnocchi in the past, thanks to the wonderful instruction found in a Marcella Hazan cookbook that my mother handed down to me. I’ve usually gotten great results with conventional gnocchi. I’ve attempted gluten free in the past too – in fact several times. Ricotta gnocchi work easily gluten free because the only flour is a mere dusting on the outside of the little dumplings. But every trial of potato gnocchi always ended in dismal failure, watching in sadness as my gnocchi dissolved away into nothingness in the simmering water. All that hard work cooking the potatoes, making the dough, rolling and cutting into those cute little gnocchi dumpling shapes, all gone to waste in about 30s of time in a pot on the stove. It was discouraging and depressing. In fact so much so that I haven’t even attempted gluten free potato gnocchi in over two years. Until now.

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Roasted Tomato Soup and/or Sauce from Scratch

December 23, 2010
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After our first course of Christmas dinner, the picture above was exactly what I had in mind. Fresh, thick, bright red roasted tomato soup, with strong hints of garlic, garnished with basil and parmesan. The kind that warms the soul when the rain is batting against the windows, and each step outside is a slop! slop! in the slushy puddles splattering all over your new jeans – it’s easy to catch a chill then, and a warm soup was just the cure to take away some of the grumpies of the long Wintery week.

In a desperate attempt to call back the gods of Summer to return upon us with sunshine and warm temperatures, I enthusiastically purchased just about every bio (organic) fresh vegetable I could find in the store that weekend. I found myself with a couple dozen tomatoes and thought, even if it isn’t Summer outside, maybe we can direct a few of those last rays of sunshine hidden from us by the ever threatening clouds, and have them warm our stomachs if nothing else by preparing a fresh soup. Sorry Winter Solstice, as cool as you were with an eclipse and all, I still miss my sunshine.

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Homemade GF Fettuccine with Chanterelle Cream Sauce

October 21, 2010
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Where would Autumn be without chanterelles? I cannot believe that it was only a couple short years ago in grad school that I first came across this awesome mushroom, and fallen in love with it ever since. I tend to fall in love with lots of produce – in the Summer it’s strawberries and apricots and peaches, in the Spring asparagus…oh and we can’t forget pumpkin in the Autumn and Winter months as well. That’s not such a bad thing, is it? To go nuts finding as many tasty ways to use one incredible gift of nature? I don’t think so ;)

Chanterelles have been in season for a while now. I remember squealing with excitement when I first saw them at the market back in late August. I love using them for normal everyday cooking – toss them into an omelette, into risotto, or on pasta… Oh how I heart pasta. If I could, I probably would eat some type of pasta every day. My absolute favorite pasta is homemade egg pasta, which I taught myself how to make thanks to the wonderful Marcella Hazan and her fabulous cookbooks on Italian cooking. Converting the typical pasta recipe to gluten free is actually not so hard, though over time I did change things to make it a bit easier to incorporate the extra eggs needed. What better way to enjoy one of my favorite mushrooms than to share it on one of my favorite dishes?

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What’s in a Name? A Not-so-Italian Bolognese

October 6, 2010
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Bolognese, or at least the Bolognese I grew up with, is my mom’s pasta sauce (and no, this is not something she calls “California Style”). She makes it differently from me though. I love her sauce – she would make about 20 servings at a time, and then freeze it so we could pull it out and use it whenever we wanted. Perfect on top of pasta, with veggies, in lasagna, oh so many many delicious plates can be made with a simple bolognese sauce…I’ve played with her recipe a lot, and found that I tend to like it using fresh tomatoes, and adding in some wine – it’s still rich and tomatoey, I just like the flavor and texture a bit better this way. I hope she doesn’t mind :)

After reading a bit about bolognese, I’m pretty sure what I grew up with and this sauce are definitely not a traditional bolognese sauce. According to Wikipedia (obviously a most trusted source in all things culinary), authentic bolognese doesn’t actually have that much tomato in it. Not only that, but a traditional ragù from Bologna is made with milk! Actually, this sauce looks to be a pretty interesting hybrid of ragù alla napoletana and ragù alla Bolognese. Maybe I should call this an American ragù? Seems more fitting than trying to pass it off as an authentic bolognese. And just to go against traditions a bit more, I happen to like mine served alongside some creamy cheese polenta.

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Daring Cooks go Canning! Gingered Plum Butter

September 14, 2010
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Before coming to Europe, I thought that a plum was a plum was a plum. Boy was I wrong. Thanks to the wonderful varieties of produce available, I’ve learned that there are different types of strawberries, peaches, and beautiful plums. Plums can be as black as charcoal, reddish, purple, or even green and yellow. Round like little ping pong balls, or oblong like a football (an American football, that is). Not only do all these varieties look different, but they have their own unique tastes and flavors too. Each week this summer we decided to pick up a fruit that neither of us have had before, and buy some to see what we think. So far the results have been quite tasty, and by tasting so many different types of produce we certainly never get tired of any one fruit!

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