Sunday, May 23, 2010

Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is an Italian, meatless, red sauce. This recipe is for a single batch, but when I make it, I usually double or triple the recipe so I have enough to freeze. Freezing makes it easy to pull out anytime I need it. I use it on pizza, pasta, or for a dipping sauce.

You don't have to have fresh herbs for this recipe, but if you would like to create an herb garden it is very easy and fun to do.


1 can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
3-5 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
1 celery stick
1/4 cup green pepper (finely chopped)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 T parsley
1 T basil
1/2 tsp fennel
pinch of thyme
pinch or oregano
3 T brown sugar
1/3 cup parmesan cheese

1. Saute the onion, garlic, celery, and green pepper in the olive oil approx 25 min.
2. combine with the rest of the ingredients and cook another 30 min or so.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Herb Garden

This is my herb garden. I didn't have room for all of the herbs I bought to go in there, so I had to decide which ones to include. After thinking about it for a minute, I decided I would include all the herbs I use for making marinara sauce. So, I guess it's kind of like an Italian herb garden.
I constructed it myself the other day with some left over brick my husband had from a job he did. It might not look real professional (as my husband, the landscaper, pointed out), but I like it, and it serves it's purpose.
I located it right outside my back door for easy access. So when I'm in the middle of cooking and I just need a little of this or that, it's real convenient.

Here's what it consists of:

(Petroselinum crispum neapolitanum)

Fragrant flavorful leaves are excellent for seasoning and as a garnish. A complementary flavor that enhances most dishes, especially sauces, salads, meats and vegetables. Dries well. A biennial grown as an annual; replant each year for best flavor.

Common Thyme
(Thymus vulgaris)

Fragrant foliage with a classic thyme flavor and aroma. Outstanding for seasoning poultry, fish and pork, in sauces and soups, and in herbal vinegar. Good companion plant for tomatoes. Dry or freeze leaves for winter use, or grow in a pot indoors.

(Rosmarinus offcinalis 'Arp')

Intensely fragrant leaves have a distinctive flavor. Great seasoning for meat or vegetable dishes, or use dried for crafts. Attractive in the garden and containers. May be wintered indoors in pots; needs high humidity.

(Foeniculum vulgare)

Highly aromatic and flavorful herb. Dried fennel seed is an aromatic, anise-flavored spice, brown or green in color when fresh, slowly turning a dull grey as the seed ages. For cooking, green seeds are optimal.[5] The leaves are delicately flavored and similar in shape to those of dill. The bulb is a crisp, hardy root vegetable and may be sauteed, stewed, braised, grilled, or eaten raw.

Italian Oregano
(Origanum vulgare)

Hot spicy aroma and flavor make this the classic pizza herb. Adds zest to Italian, Greek and Mexican cuisine and complements tomato dishes beef or lamb stew, soups salads or casseroles. Use fresh, dried, or fresh frozen. Harvest before flowering.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rhubarb Pie


(Rheum rhabarbarum)

Rhubarb is a herbaceous perennial. The only edible part is the leaf stem, or petiole. Both roots and leaves contain enough oxalic acid and soluble oxalates to make even a small portion toxic.

The edible petioles are red, pink, or reddish green. They are commonly used in pies and jam. The rhubarb plant becomes large and rangy and is not suitable for small gardens. It prefers cool weather and is adaptable to just about any well drained soil type. It requires five to six hours of sunlight, so you can grow it in partial shade. Once planted, it needs little care.

Rhubarb is planted as a crown at a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Space plants 3-4 feet apart in the row. Keep them well watered until established. Mulch to keep down weed competition.

Some harvesting can begin the second year after planting, with a full harvest in the third year. Cut 12-24 inch stalks in spring before they become tough due to warmer weather. Do not remove more than half of the plant. The harvest season continues for up to eight to ten weeks. Each plant should yield 3 to 5 pounds. Store stalks in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. If the plant produces weak and spindly stems, it is time to divide the crown.

Rhubarb Pie

Crust ( makes 2 pies)

2 ½ cups all purpose flour

1 ½ tsp salt

1/2- 3/4 cup cold water

1 cup butter

1. Use pastry cutter and cut butter into flour. Butter must be cold. Don’t over work.For a flaky pie crust, leave the fat pieces rather large, about the size of nickels or dimes. They don't have to be uniform.

2. Dissolve salt in cold water. This will ensure its even dispersal throughout the dough.

3. Add cold water all at once. Mix quickly (with cold hands) into flour and butter mixture. Keep mixing just until a shaggy mass forms.

5. Gather the dough into a smooth ball, section it off into four equal parts (see picture below), and chill it until it is firm. This allows the dough to relax and also firms up the butter.

dough sectioned off into 4 equal parts, roll to form balls


after dough has chilled

6. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface. Lightly dust the dough's surface with additional flour.

7. Using even strokes, roll dough to fit 9 inch pie plate. Turn it occasionally to produce an even shape and to keep it from sticking to the work surface. Work from the center toward the edges, rolling in different directions.

8. Cut the dough, if necessary, to fit the pan. Brush away all flour from the surface. (The flour could cause the dough to bake unevenly or to scorch.)

9. Add rhubarb filling.

10. Roll out the top crust in the same manner as the bottom crust. Cut slashes in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Firmly pinch away any excess dough.

If you choose a lattice top crust

1. Roll the pie crust and cut it into long strips.
2. Lightly place the strips going one direction on top of the pie and fold them back half way. Add strips the other direction one at a time, weaving them under and over the other strips.

Rhubarb Filling (makes 2 pies)
10 cups chopped rhubarb
2-3 cups white sugar

12 tablespoons all-purpose flour (alternately you could do 8 T. flour with 4 t. tapioca)

1-2 tablespoons butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

1. Put all ingredients, but only half the butter, in pan and simmer for approximately 25 minutes.
2. Let mixture cool a bit then put in bottom pie crust.
3. Dot the top with other half of butter.
4. Add top pie crust
5. Bake in hot oven 450f for first 10 minutes
6. Reduce to 350f for 35-40 minutes more. Bake until crust is golden brown.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
For strawberry rhubarb pie, you will use the same recipe just substitute half the rhubarb with strawberries (5 cups rhubarb/5 cups strawberries). Most likely you will use a little less sugar.