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real life test kitchen: spicy bean stew with winter greens

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My Sunday routine usually consists of cooking a big pot of something we can enjoy that night, and use its leftovers for lunch most of the week. It has to be something yummy, that reheats easily. And, considering the freezing temps we’ve been facing nearly every day this past month, it better be something warming. This Bon Appetit recipe for Spicy Beans and Wilted Greens stew totally does the trick. The two things that make this baby taste really delicious: anchovies (my newly discovered secret ingredient) and Parmesan rind. I found the BA version a bit heavy on the greens, and on the second time I a made this opted to leave out the arugula completely. I didn’t miss it one bit.

Here’s my take on Spicy White Bean Stew with Winter Greens

WHAT YOU NEED:
¼ cup olive oil
4 anchovy fillets
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 sprig rosemary
1 or 2 pieces of Parmesan rind (about three inches big) plus shaved Parmesan for serving
1 pound dried white cannellini beans soaked overnight, drained
1 bunch of kale, ibs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
1 bunch flat-leaf spinach, trimmed, coarsely chopped

HOW TO MAKE
1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook anchovies, chiles, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until garlic is soft and anchovies are dissolved, about 4 minutes. Add onion, celery, and rosemary; season with salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
2. Add Parmesan rind, beans, and 10 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more water as needed, until beans are beginning to fall apart, 2.5 to 3 hours.
3. By now you should be able to crush the beans with a wooden spoon to give the stew a creamy consistency. Mix in kale, spinach, and half of arugula; season with salt and pepper. Cook until greens are wilted, 5–8 minutes.
4. Serve with additional Parmesan for sprinkling.

real life test kitchen: old fashioned lasagna bolognese

Here’s something worthwhile to do during the next snowmageddon: make lasagna bolognese from scratch. It will occupy hours of your time, make your house smell wonderful, and please your family more than a cup of hot chocolate.

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I had been wanting to try Bon Appetit’s October cover story for some time, and actually decided that this was the perfect dish to serve at the Christmas pot luck we attended. I followed their instructions faithfully, but decided NOT to make my own noodles. Perhaps another year.  The results were outstanding, and tasted even better as leftovers the next day.

First, make the Bolognese sauce — which honestly is wonderful enough on its own to serve over pasta for a week.
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What you need:
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef chuck
1 pound ground pork
4 oz. pancetta (Italian bacon), finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup whole milk
1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided

How to Make:
1. Pulse onion, carrot, and celery in a food processor until finely chopped.
2. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add beef, pork, pancetta, and vegetables; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until moisture is almost completely evaporated and meat is well browned, 25–30 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
3. Add wine to pot and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, about 2 minutes. Add milk; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until moisture is almost completely evaporated, 8–10 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes and 2 cups broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, adding water by ½-cupfuls if sauce looks dry, until flavors meld and sauce thickens, 2½–3 hours.
5. Let sauce cool, then cover and chill at least 12 hours or up to 2 days.

Second, make the bechamel sauce — a good technique any home chef needs to know.
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What You Need:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, warmed
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Kosher salt

How To Make:
1. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute.
2. Whisk in warm milk, ½-cupful at a time. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, whisking often, until the consistency of cream, 8–10 minutes; add nutmeg and season with salt.
3. Remove from heat, transfer to a medium bowl, and press plastic wrap directly onto surface; let cool slightly.

Third – Assemble the lasagna!

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1. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 13×9” baking dish with butter.
2 Cook your noodles — don’t use the no-boil kind. Be sure to make them al dente. When finished, lay them out on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Try not to overlap them, or they will stick together.
3. Reheat the sauces if needed. Combine Bolognese sauce and remaining 1 cup broth in a large saucepan over medium heat, and heat until sauce is warmed through.
4. Meanwhile, if you made the béchamel ahead of time, heat in a medium saucepan over low heat just until warmed through (don’t let it boil).
5. Spread 1/4 cup béchamel in the prepared baking dish. Top with a layer of noodles, spread over a scant 3/4 cup Bolognese sauce, then 1/2 cup béchamel, and top with 1/4 cup Parmesan.
6. Repeat process 5 to 7 more times, starting with noodles and ending with Parmesan.
7. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake lasagna until bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 50–60 minutes.
8. Let lasagna sit 45 minutes before serving.

More Shelterrific lasagna recipes can be found here!

thanksgiving roundup 2013! our favorite posts on the best meal of the year

Did you look the calendar today? Thanksgiving is next week! If you’re schedule is like ours this baby is creeping up on you fast. Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving posts from years past that may be of use this holiday season.

Above, the most yummy Brussels sprouts, ever.

More Thansgsiving help from Shelterrific:

What we learned hosting Thanksgiving last year.

How do you cook your bird?

How do you take your cranberry sauce?


Leftover ideas: sweet potato pancakes

What to do with leftover pumpkin

Brendon’s pecan pie

Leftover love


Prize-winning pumpkin pie

Domino’s One Hour Thanksgiving

Bourbon sweet potato Bundt cake

Cider glazed sunchokes and carrots

Chilewich’s lovely chargers

Super smart apron

real life test kitchen: siracha mac and cheese

On Halloween we hosted a small handful of sugar-loaded kids and their exhausted parents. I wanted to serve something simple, that we could dish out in bowls and eat on the porch while doling out candy to trick-or-treaters. This recipe from Shutterbean fit the bill nicely. After all, mac and cheese is kinda like candy for grown ups. Despite its recent legal troubles in California, Siracha is a hot, of-the-moment, ingredient (pun intended). This Thai hot sauces makes just about everything taste better, from scrambled eggs to roasted sweet potatoes. After trying this recipe I can add one more thing to its plate — spicing up mac and cheese. Plus the bright red drizzle on top seemed to fit the theme of the night — creepy! Below is my take on the recipe from Shutterbean, which was originally adapted from the Mac + Cheese cookbook.

Siracha Mac and Cheese

What You Need:

For the sauce
3 cups milk — I used 1%
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt

For the pasta:

3/4 pound dried elbow pasta
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups grated Havarti
2-3 tablespoons Sriracha sauce, plus more for drizzling
1 bunch chopped green onions (both green and white parts)
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

How To Make:
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a large caserole dish. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until a little less than al dente.

2. Heat the milk in a pot over medium heat until it just starts to bubble, but is not boiling, 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

3. . Heat the butter over medium heat in a separate, heavy bottomed pot. When the butter has just melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

4. . Slowly pour the warm milk, about 1 cup at a time, into the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly until it gets thick.

5. Once all the milk has been added, set the pot back over medium-high heat, and continue to whisk constantly. Once the sauce is thick enough to stick to the spoon it’s done. Add the salt and stir. Shut off heat.

6. Mash together the ginger and butter in a small bowl until fully combined.

7. Add the cheese and ginger butter to the sauce and cook over medium heat. Stir until the cheese is barely melted, about 3 minutes. Add the siracha and pasta and cook another 5 minutes. Add the green onions and stir to fully combine.

8. Pour the mac into a 14-inch casserole pan and sprinkle with panko. Bake until hot and bubbly and the topping is golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with more sriracha. Spoon into bowls and serve.

real life test kitchen: marcella hazan’s tomato sauce with onion and butter

I pinned this recipe, for Macella Hazan’s most famous and insanely easy tomato sauce recipe, years ago but somehow never got around to making it until this past weekend. The time was ripe, in more ways the one, to pay tribute to this grand dame of Italian-American cooking. Hazan passed away a couple of weeks ago, and like many greats who fade from our memory, it took her death to remind us how influential she was. The New York Times obituary put it beautifully and simply — like many of her best recipes — saying she changed the way Americans cook. She didn’t believe in complicated things, only the purest, freshest ingredients cooked to bring out their unique flavors. Her tomato sauce with onion and butter recipe is Hazan at her best. The rest bout of unseasonably warm temperatures has yielded a bumper crop of plum tomatoes in our garden beds. I could think of no better use for them to put them in this simple sauce. Mine took a little bit longer, because I started with fresh tomatoes. But the who endeavor was done in about an hour and half, and it required so little effort, I can’t imagine why I didn’t do it sooner. This sauce is wonderfully familiar — which makes me realize that it must be used in countless restaurants all over NYC. It tastes even better the next day.


Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter


What You Need:

2 cups of canned or stewed plum tomatoes in their juices — see note below on what to do if you’re using fresh tomatoes like I did
5 tbls butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt to taste

How to Make
1. Put the tomatoes in a large sauce pan, and add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very low flame.

2. Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.
3. Simmer for about 45 minutes. Taste and aalt. Discard the onion before tossing with pasta.

4. Serve with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table.

If you’re using fresh tomatoes:

1. You’ll need about 2 lbs of tomatoes.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
3. Drop tomatoes in and boil for one minute.
4. Drain and cool down with cold water.
5. Peel off the skins and discard them.
6. Quarter the tomatoes and add them to a pan.
7. Add a dash of salt, and cook on a meduim-low flame for about 30 minutes. Add a splash of water or olive oil if things dry to quickly.
8. Once the tomatoes have broken down nicely, you can continue the recipe as above.