Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day.  Today it's important to remember that in many places in the world, women are not free, rather they are treated as property.
Here in the US, I celebrate those who came before me so that I can vote, own property, have a bank account, and be free to make my own choices for my life.

Susan B. Anthony worked tirelessly for women to obtain the right to vote.  Women marched, they protested, and they persisted.
Every time you go into the voting booth, it's because women marched, so that we could vote.

When we go to work, we are guaranteed equal pay under the law.  Lily Ledbetter fought for this for 19 years.  
"We sought justice because equal pay for equal work is an American value. That fight took me ten years. It took me all the way to the Supreme Court. And, in a 5-4 decision, they stood on the side of those who shortchanged my pay, my overtime, and my retirement just because I am a woman." Lilly Ledbetter

Opening a bank account, buying a home and living a free and independent life are all possible because women before us believed in the protections of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  They protested, and resisted. Today we all live in the shadows of the generations of women who fought for social justice, and equality.
We still have a long way to go but today I celebrate the women in my life, and the women who came before me.  We will persist.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

It Never Rains in California

This was the view from our kitchen this morning.  We here in San Diego are in for 6 straight days of rain.  After years of drought, I think we will have our water problems solved for the moment, although there will be problems with this much rain in a short period of time.
And, as usual here at Casa Phillips, it's time to make some soup.  Soup is one of those delicious foods that soothes your insides when your outside is cold and wet.  Today it's minestrone.  Minestrone is different in every part of Italy--literally it means 'without stock' and many cooks in Italy make theirs with water instead of broth, adding rinds from Parmigiano Reggiano and lots of herbs to the pot.

Mine began with sweet Italian sausage in my Cuisinart Multi-Cooker.  If you have a slow cooker, this is a great way to make soup, just set it and forget it.  In the Multi-Cooker, you can saute everything then turn it to slow cooker and you're done.  If you decide to use another protein, chicken, or pancetta will work here.  Or you can make this vegetarian by using olive oil to saute and then vegetable broth for the liquid.
Brown the sausage and remove any excess fat

Next in is the battuto; onion, celery, carrot and some tomato
Saute everything until the onion begins to soften
I add stock, and this is my go to when I don't have homemade, it's a concentrate so you can add as much as you like with water
Parmigiano Reggiano rinds (cut into cubes) zucchini, and some leftover green beans go in
1/2 a head of escarole, cleaned, and then cut into 1/2-inch ribbons---this is about 4 cups

Four hours on high

Serves 6 to 8

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped, including the leaves
1 tablespoon dried sage leaves (or rosemary or thyme)
1/2 cup canned chopped tomatoes
8 cups broth or water
3 medium zucchini, cut into dice
Rind of Parmigiano Reggiano cut into small pieces
1 cup green beans, ends snipped, and cut into 1-inch pieces
One 14.5-ounce can small white beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups chopped greens (I used escarole, but chard, or kale, or spinach works here)
salt and pepper
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish

In a Dutch oven, cook the sausage until it is no longer pink.  remove any excess fat from the pan, add the onion, carrot, celery and sage leaves, saute for 5 to 6 minutes until the onion is softened.  Add the tomatoes, and saute another 2 minutes.  (If you are using a slow cooker, saute everything, add it to the slow cooker, then proceed)
Add the broth, zucchini, rind, beans, and greens, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low in the slow cooker.  Season with salt and pepper and serve garnished with additional grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  
Cook's Note:  If you want to add pasta, cook it first before adding it to the pot since it will absorb some of the liquid.  
Cook's Note 2:  Instead of canned beans you can add lentils or split peas (about 1 cup) not only do they add bulk, but they also thicken the soup.

Soup is a great way to use up leftovers, too.  That leftover rotisserie chicken would be perfect in this soup, or any leftover vegetables from other dinners can be tossed in.
Ciao for Now.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Soup is Good Food

I've had a love for wild rice since I was a child.  Growing up in an Italian household, it wasn't something we had very often, so it seemed a bit exotic.  My first encounter with it, was when my mom decided to stuff Cornish game hens---it was a very 60's meal.
As the weather has gotten colder, I'd been thinking about making a chicken and wild rice soup, and it was a winner here at Casa Phillips.  The great thing about wild rice is that you can cook a pound of it, and then freeze what you don't use to toss into other dishes later.
When wild rice is cooked, it splits, giving you a soft center with a crunchy exterior.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Serves 6
This is a great way to use up leftover chicken or holiday turkey.

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 medium carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped including the leaves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
2 cups cooked wild rice
salt and pepper

In a Dutch oven, heat the butter, and saute the onion, carrots, and celery for 4 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables have softened.  
Add the flour, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, whisking constantly.
Gradually add the broth, and bring to a boil.  

Add the chicken and wild rice, and simmer for 10 minutes.  
Season with salt and pepper and serve.  The soup can be refrigerated for up to 4 days, or frozen for 2 months.  

You can jazz this up by adding some heavy cream for a more luxurious mouth-feel, or add some other vegetables, like sauteed mushrooms, zucchini, or spinach.  Buon appetito.


1 1/2 pounds thick cut bacon
I posted this photo on my Facebook page and as with most photos of bacon, I got a lot of requests to know what I was cooking.  So, I'm posting this short blog post to give you the recipe for some awesome bacon jam.  Even my friend in South Africa wanted to know what was I doing.  So here you are.

Bacon Jam

1 1/2 pounds thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large sweet yellow onion
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Creole mustard (or whole grain with a few drops of Tabasco)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (see note)

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. (you can either leave all the drippings, or take out all but 2 tablespoons---I left them for flavor---it's a holiday, OK??)
Add the onion and garlic if using, and saute until the onions are softened, about 3 minutes.  
Add the syrup, balsamic vinegar, mustard and Worcestershire and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes (this will depend on the surface area of your pan---if it's a 12 inch pan, this will take about 25 minutes, smaller, will take about 40) until the mixture has thickened and is jam-like.
Taste and add sherry vinegar to taste---this will depend on your maple syrup---no maple syrup in containers shaped like women, please--that's NOT maple syrup.
Cool the jam, put into a food processor and pulse on and off for a more jam like consistency. Refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 1 month.  Delicious on burgers, sandwiches, and a cheese platter.

Beautiful and delicious!
Ciao for now.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Not Your Nonnas Panettone

 When I saw this photo on author Elizabeth Minchilli's instagram, and she described it as panettone with ground coffee and chocolate (sans the dried fruit) from  Roscioli Caffe,  I was hooked.  It just so happened, I had 10 pounds of butter, 3 dozen eggs, leftover chocolate from a binge of toffee making, and a recipe that I'd developed for traditional panettone.  Since the dough needs a long slow rise in the refrigerator, I began to make it yesterday afternoon.
First things first, chopping the block of chocolate.  Originally 11 pounds, I've used over half of it already. Best to use a serrated knife to chop the chocolate.

Into the mixer
Adding the chocolate and espresso powder

Doesn't look like much at this stage, but it's well mixed
Into a bowl to rise on the counter
Ready for its slow refrigerated rise
Good Morning!

These needed about 2 hours to rise on the counter since it's cold in my kitchen today

Peeking into the oven about 45 minutes in


Not Your Nonna's Panettone
Makes three 6-inch panettone

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
2 packages (3 tablespoons) dry active yeast
1/2 cup honey 
8 large eggs
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
7 cups all-purpose flour plus more for shaping
3 cups chopped chocolate (no chocolate chips---most of them don't melt)
1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of water
Raw sugar for sprinkling over top

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle or dough hook, mix together the water, yeast and honey.  When the mixture is bubbling, add the eggs, butter, vanilla, and espresso powder.  Add the flour and chocolate, and mix until blended.  Turn into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours.  (Make sure you are using a large bowl, because this will rise out of a smaller bowl)
  2. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and let rise overnight.  
  3. Cook's Note:  At this point shape into 3 balls and freeze for up to 2 months.  Defrost in the refrigerator and proceed.  
  4. Coat the inside of 3 panettone bakers with non-stick cooking spray, and shape the dough into 3 balls. Put into the bakers, cover with plastic wrap and let rise on the counter until doubled.  Cook's note: today my kitchen was pretty cold, so it took 2 hours: depending on the atmospheric conditions in your kitchen this may take 1 hour.  
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, put the bakers onto a baking sheet and bake the panettone for 45 minutes, lower the heat to 300 and bake an additional 15 minutes, until the bread is crisp onthe outside, and sounds hollow when hit on the top.  Allow to cool completely. 
                                                                  Buon Natale tutti!