Category Archives: sauce

Spinach Turnovers, yeah they’re French

A few years ago someone secretly slipped a burned DVD under my door. I popped it in the player and I found out it was all of the episodes of Julia Child’s The French Chef. Not to look fortune in the mouth I immediately made this dish and then just as immediately forgot about it. If you’re looking for an impressive dinner that is different and fun, this one is for you. Don’t get intimidated. If this is too confusing here is Julia herself doing it.

Side note: Always check your oven before turning it on. The day before making this I had a thanksgiving party and someone thought it would be hilarious to put a plastic turkey in my oven. Well it was hilarious but I had to quickly move dinner to Kris and Laurels house as black smoke was emanating from my oven.batterjunkie-11
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Pastry for 2 – 9” crusts, (unbleached pastry flour)
9 -12oz. fresh spinach, washed (Yield 2 cups blanched, drained- squeezed dry, chopped)
 4 oz. fresh white small mushrooms, quartered
½ cup diced small prosciutto
1 TBSP butter
Sauce Bouillée:
1 medium onion, diced
1/4  cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 and 2/3 cup hot milk
1 egg
Salt & pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
For Cream Sauce:
Remaining Sauce Bouillée
1/2 cup or more cream or milk
Salt & pepper to taste
1/3 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
2 eggs separated save the yolks
1 tsp. water
Wash the spinach and plunge into a large kettle of boiling water for about 2 minutes. Then immediately toss it into cold water. Squeeze the water out, dry it between towels and chop it finely. You need at least 2 cups of spinach toss in a large sauce pot.
In a fry pan sauté, thinly slice mushrooms  and prosciutto with 1 TBSP butter until tender. Set it aside.
In a sauce pan sauté onion over low heat in 1/4 cup butter until translucent. Take out half of the onion and throw it in the saucepan with the spinach. (this will make sense later)
For Sauce Bouillée:
Add the flour to the remaining onion and cook the roux over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. Whisk in the hot milk a little at a time. This sauce is going to be THICK, just how you like it. Take the pan off the heat and beat in an eggSalt and pepper to taste and add a pinch of nutmeg. Put about a 1/2 cup of the sauce in with the spinach and onion in the other saucepan. Mix together over low heat for about a minute. Set aside.
For Cream Sauce:
Stir 1/2  cup or more of cream into remaining Sauce Bouillée until it is thinned to a sauce consistency. Simmer for about 10 minutes stirring slowly. Remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with a bit of the Gruyère and let it melt a bit, then stir it in. Set aside and when we are ready to serve we’ll warm it over low heat and stir in the rest of the Gruyère. 
To assemble the pastry:
Now you’ve got the parts lets make a long pie! Roll the dough into a 10” by 15″ rectangle about 1/4″ thick. Trim the edges so that it is even and square, saving cut scraps. Lay the dough on a lightly floured surface. Beat egg yolk with 1 tsp of water and glaze the pastry with the mixture.
Spread half the spinach mixture on 1/3 of the pastry lengthwise. Keep a 1/2” edge bare so you can seal it. Place mushrooms and prosciutto on top then spread remaining spinach over mushroom mixture forming another layer.
Fold the pastry up and over and seal the edges with your fingers, then press with tines of fork.
Place on greased baking sheet and cut pastry scraps into strips. Glaze turnover with an egg glaze of 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water. Decorate with strips laying them on a diagonal or leave them off if you ain’t that fancy. Trim edges that hang over. Glaze again with your egg mixture. Press all of the edges with a fork.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until nicely browned and crisp.
Slide it onto a board to cut diagonally. Now add the rest of the Gruyère and warm up the cream sauce. Pour a healthy dollop over each slice of turnover.
Serve that mamma jamma hot to happy people!batterjunkie-2

Our family Pesto

Pesto one of those universal foods that almost anyone can get behind, and here it is folks for your cooking enjoyment. Pesto comes from the Genoese word pestâ which literally means pounded or smushed. Long ago this dish was made by grinding together the ingredients in a mortar and pestle. Since we generally don’t have the time or patience for that, we used a blender. We’ve been making this since I was a bambino growing up in northern Italy.

2 c. fresh basil leaves
1/3 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
3/4 tsp. salt

Add to:
500kg (12-16 oz.) Rotini or spiral pasta, cooked al dente, drained leaving 1-2 T. cooking liquid
1-2 T. butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T. grated Romano pecorino cheese may be added if you’ve got it lying around. I find that if you don’t already have it, Romano adds a lot of cost to a relatively inexpensive meal, so your call cowboy.

I can’t really get my head around making the directions for this interesting. Let me put it this way, I could already be done with the directions, I’m just stalling so you keep reading.

Blend the living crap out of the first 5 ingredients. 2 cups of basil is hard to judge so I generally use about 2, 4oz boxes from Trader Joe’s.

If you’re in a part of the world without a Trader Joe’s, firstly, I’m sorry for you, but secondly I’m sure in your country, basil is not more expensive than Salmon which it is in the US.

Once the ingredients are nicely blended add them to 12oz or so of the pasta being careful to leave a little of the water in which you cooked the pasta. Add the butter and grated Parmesan and Romano if you’re a high roller! Mix it all together in the pot, and you got yourself a home-cooked meal to die for.
 Make sure to mix the pesto in with the noodles before you take it out of the pot. That way they get coated better.

(no picture available as I was too busy eating!)


Pasta alla vodka sauce

This is super easy. For those of you who are kitchen phobic, this vodka’s for you! For those of you who think that everything’s better with booze, also your recipe. Ok, lets get started.

2 cloves garlic
1 big ass leek (you can also use a shallot)

1/4 yellow onion

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 400gr (14.5-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained

3 fresh tomatoes

1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup vodka (rum also works pretty well)

1/2 cup cream

1 Tbsp all purpose flour 
250gr pasta of your choice

So first you chop up all of your ingredients. Ok don’t chop up the vodka. If you attempt to chop the vodka this may indicate you’ve had too much to drink. If this is the case, set down the knife, get a cup of coffee, and go kick the dog for a while or whatever it is that drunks do.

Once you’re sober, heat up a large sauce pan with the olive oil in it. Throw in the onion, garlic, and leek. Make sure they are all finely chopped. Let that cook for about 5 minutes.

Then cut the tomatos into big chunks (I quartered them) and throw them in the pot. Add in your can of peeled whole tomatoes. Make sure to drain them like you did that bottle of vodka earlier. Sprinkle with pepper flakes. These are optional if you’re a total wiener and can’t handle the heat. I believe however that if you can’t handle the heat, you best get out the kitchen.

Where were we? I like “where were we” it’s kind of like veni vidi vici. Well, in this cause you’re about to conquer your taste buds.

Add in the cream and vodka. I know you were wondering when I was going to get there. Let it all simmer for about 5-10 more minutes. The sauce should turn a brilliant orange color, or if you’re colorblind like me, it turns mauve.

Cook and drain the pasta of your choice during or before you make the sauce. I used big fatty shell-shaped pasta which I have loved since I was a small child. I think there is something magical about how the shell can hold the sauce, a great vehicle of flavor.

Serve up the pasta and plop on some of this amazing sauce. You will delight and astound onlookers and tasters.There, that wasn’t so damn hard, was it?

Tomorrow night I’m going to Marina’s to learn some Cuban and Andalucian cooking! I can’t wait and I bet, neither can you.

Until next time,

Labels: pasta, Italian, vodka, sauce