Blueberry Crumble Pie


I used to think that our family was a strictly pie-for-Thanksgiving family. We make some pretty nice pecan and pumpkin pies every November, but for the rest of the year, we stick to cookies, cakes, and frozen desserts for our special occasions. There’s some logic to this; pies are a ton of work and unless you have a lot of practice, the idea of rolling and crimping a pie crust can be slightly daunting. You can’t just whip together a pie like you can a batch of bar cookies.


Then, we took a trip to Scandinavia and tasted the best berry pie in all of Oslo. Inside a single-serving pie crust was a rich blueberry filling that tasted and smelled exactly like wild-blueberries—the perfect complement to a simple crumble topping.


Obviously I had to make a pie like this at home, so barely a week after getting back, 40 of our closest friends were sitting alongside us at the neighborhood pool eating cake, cupcakes, and blueberry crumble pie for one final summer potluck before the eight soon-to-be college freshmen scatter across to world to Seattle, Rochester, Davis, Madison, Tel Aviv, and Boston. Some of those friends I’ve known since I was just three, and sitting there with all of them made me feel so lucky to have grown up with such great friends.

Not a single crumb of this pie was left over from that night, because between the thick layer of blueberries that burst into a jam-like filling in the heat of the oven, the flaky layer of pie crust, and the sweet, buttery crumble, it’s easy to see why it was such a hit.


On a final note, a few of you have asked what will happen to this blog once I’m at Tufts. At the moment, I don’t have any more recipe posts planned, and I have a feeling I’ll be pretty busy studying and exploring Boston. That being said, if I have some free time and a post idea in my head, I may pop in! Thank you so much to each and every one of you for reading and cooking along with me for the past 15 months.


 

Blueberry Crumble Pie

Adapted from Joanne Eats Well With Others

Crust from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Makes one 9-inch pie

Crust:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ tablespoon granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen and cut into ¼ inch cubes

2-3 tablespoons ice water

Blueberry Filling:

2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

5 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Crumble:

3 tablespoons brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

¾ cup all-purpose flour

For the crust:

  1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter to the bowl and rub the butter quickly into the flour using your fingers until the butter is in small bits and uniformly distributed into the flour. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the water over the flour and fold gently with a rubber spatula. If the dough still doesn’t come together, add up to 1 tablespoon more of water. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured countertop and gather it into a six inch disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
  2. Once the dough has chilled, unwrap the dough and place it on a lightly floured countertop. Roll the dough out into a circle of even thickness, 12 inches in diameter. Carefully fold the dough in half, then half again, then place it in a nine-inch round glass pie pan. Fold any excess overhang of the pie crust under itself to create a rim on the top of the pan, then crimp the edges using a pincer grasp on your dominant hand and your index finger on your non-dominant hand. Place the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes to chill.
  3. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the chilled dough from the freezer and place a double layer of aluminum foil in the base of the pie pan with an ample overhang. Fill the bowl of aluminum foil with ceramic pie weights or dried beans, then bake the pie crust in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and carefully lift off the foil and pie weights. If the crust has collapsed at all, gently nudge it up the edges of the pan with a butter knife or small spoon.

For the filling:

  1. While the pie pan of dough is in the freezer, prepare the filling. Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the blueberries and toss to combine, then let sit for 20-30 minutes while the pie crust chills and bakes.

For the crumble:

  1. While the pie crust bakes, assemble the crumble. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter until smooth. Add the flour and stir until incorporated.

To assemble and bake the pie:

  1. Once you have removed the pie crust from the oven, turn the oven temperature up to 375F. Pour the blueberry mixture into the prebaked pie shell. Using your fingers, break off pieces of the crumble topping and scatter them over the surface of the blueberries in an even layer. Bake the pie on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 55-75 minutes until the filling is bubbling, the berries have begun to break down, and the crumble is golden brown. Remove the pie from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before slicing and serving.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Sunday Dinners

Starting in May of 2006, when I was just ten years old, my dad and I started making dinner together every Sunday night. We didn’t anticipate that this would be such a long standing tradition, but one Sunday night turned into two, and here we are just over eight years later. Last night was the final Sunday dinner before I leave for college—an event that made me choke up in the pasta aisle of Trader Joe’s. That doesn’t mean, of course, that there won’t be more dinners during the summer and winter vacations, but it is the first real break in a tradition that has meant so much to me.

Making tomato sauce, winter of 2008-2009.

The food and cooking was one of the reasons why I loved making Sunday dinner, but it was always so much more than that. Sundays were about spending a few minutes in the morning planning the menu and making a list, one person with a cookbook and a pad of paper and the other rummaging around in the cabinets to see if we still had a bottle of sesame oil hiding behind the red wine vinegar.

Chocolate Soufflé, September 27, 2009. Modeling done by Aidan, pre-growth spurt.

No Sunday dinner would be complete without a trip to the grocery store, a route that we biked the first few years, then started driving when it came time for me to practice for my driving test. Dad would head to the butcher counter, and I to the international foods aisle before meeting in the produce section for the final decision of the morning: romaine or spring mix?

On the first Sunday, we made breaded, pan-fried Tilapia with roasted red potatoes and salad, which we also made the second week. Thankfully we started to branch out on the third week, and soon no cuisine was left alone. A few highlights from our dinners include sweet potato and potato gnocchi, French onion soup, falafel, homemade ravioli, Thai curries, aloo gobi, carrot and walnut pizza, grilled pizza, Vietnamese bun, all types of pastas, risottos, and polentas, lettuce cups, mushroom bourguignon, and a nearly unheard of quantity of salad.

Stuffed mushrooms, roasted sweet potatoes, and rustic dinner rolls, probably fall of 2008.

In the summers we would explore the berries at the farmer’s markets before bringing home cardboard trays of loganberries, ollalieberries, raspberries, and marionberries to turn into brilliant containers of fuchsia and eggplant-colored sorbets that the four of us would eat together at the table, Aidan’s spoon clattering against the edge of his bowl in a race against melting berry juice.

Chocolate Pots de Crème, winter of 2008.

Above all, I owe so much to my dad for devoting much of his weekend to fold ravioli with the precision of an engineer and the patience of an Italian grandmother. He rescues the burning walnuts that I often neglect on the stove and closes every drawer that, despite my intentions, stays open every time I reach for a spoon or measuring cup. I am so lucky to have a family that shares their love of food with me every single Sunday, and I am going to miss these dinners more than I ever thought I would back when I was ten years old and making our very first Sunday dinner.

Our last Sunday dinner was a good one: Arugula, apple, and feta salad, grilled Portobello mushrooms, Cacio e Pepe spaghetti, and almond-crusted chicken (for the meat eaters). For dessert, two sorbets: one made with blackberries and the other with golden raspberries. It was a bittersweet evening, but I know that the next time I’m back in Palo Alto, Sunday dinner will start again like it never stopped.

 

 

 

 

Fresh Pasta: Malloreddus and Fettuccine

About once or twice a year I get the urge to make fresh pasta. I don’t make it all that often because it’s a pretty involved process and our (very active) family of four can put away a significant amount of pasta, so you really have to be ready to spend a chunk of the day pretending you’re Lidia Bastianich behind your kitchen counter. When I want to take the extra time to roll out fresh pasta, I seize the opportunity, because there is nothing quite like a hot plate of pasta that just minutes ago was rolled out on the countertop. The pasta strands are unbelievably light and tender without being mushy, and the clean wheat flavor really shines through a simple sauce.

There are two main types of pasta dough that Italians make: pasta all’uovo, or fresh pasta dough made with eggs, and pasta fresca di semola di grano duro, or fresh pasta made with semolina flour. A few nights ago for dinner, I made fettuccine from pasta all’uovo and malloreddus from semolina dough. Although the ingredients for the two pasta doughs vary slightly, the mixing and kneading process is quite similar. The steps below are shown using the pasta all’uovo.

The dough can be made either in the food processor or on the countertop with just a fork—the food processor will save you some time and effort, but I almost always use the countertop method because I would rather spend a few extra minutes kneading pasta dough rather than use up precious dishwasher space to clean the food processor.

Start with a mound of flour, then create a deep cavity in the center of the mound with your fist.

Pour the eggs into the cavity, then pierce the yolks with the tines of a fork, and begin gently beating the eggs while slowly incorporating more flour into the beaten eggs.

After a few minutes, you’ll end up with a shaggy mass of dough that you can begin kneading with your hands. After 15-25 minutes (or one episode of The Mindy Project), the dough will be smooth, supple, and feel like a dry earlobe. Then it’s time for the dough to rest; it takes at least 30 minutes for the gluten molecules to relax and allow for the dough to hydrate fully, so wrap the dough in plastic wrap, stick it in the fridge, and wait for a bit before you start rolling the pasta into the sfoglia, or pasta sheets.

As a comparison, the photos above show what the semolina dough looks like before and after kneading.

Once the dough has rested, it’s time to roll out the pasta dough. The dough can be rolled with either a rolling pin or a pasta roller, but the pasta roller is so much easier and faster to use than doing it by hand. The dough is cut into portions, then rolled starting on the widest setting to the thinnest setting, with about 3 passes though each numbered setting. The pasta dough is properly rolled when it’s smooth and thin enough that light can pass though it and your hand is clearly visible when placed beneath the pasta sheet.

Once you’ve rolled out the sfoglia, let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes so that it will cut more cleanly into fettuccine. While it’s resting, you can roll out the remaining portions of dough.

Cutting the dough into the fettuccine is the easy part. Either roll the pasta sheets like you would a yoga mat and cut crosswise into strips, or cut it on a fettuccine-sized attachment on a pasta machine. Liberally dust the cut pasta with all-purpose flour, then pile the noodles loosely on a dishcloth dusted with flour while you cut the rest of the pasta.

Thin, fresh pasta like this cooks almost instantly, so it needs just one to two minutes in boiling, salted water before it’s perfectly al dente. Toss it in a simple light sauce like pesto, butter, or a light tomato sauce (pictured above is a sautéed garlic and olive oil sauce), and serve the hot pasta immediately with a little parmesan.

Now for the semolina dough:

Semolina dough is much sturdier than pasta all’uovo, so I use it to create pastas like cavatelli, or small dumpling shapes like these malloreddus. Malloreddus are originally from Sardinia, and occasionally include saffron in the dough for color and flavor. You can sometimes find them sold as dried pasta, but they can also be made fresh. They’re much less time consuming to shape than any sort of noodle or filled pasta, but they do take a little bit longer to cook. The dough gets rolled into long ropes about half an inch in diameter, then cut into half-inch pieces, a little smaller than a piece of gnocchi.

To give the malloreddus a curved shape and ridged exterior, they’re traditionally rolled on the back of a wicker basket, but a cheese grater is commonly used as well with similar results.

Malloreddus take about eight to nine minutes to cook in the pasta water before they get tossed with sauce (pictured below is a brown-butter and shallot sauce) and served.

Pasta all’uovo for fettuccine

Serves 4

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

  1. Mound the flour on a countertop or large cutting board, then create a deep cavity in the center of the mound with your fist.
  2. Pour the eggs into the cavity, then pierce the yolks with the tines of a fork, and begin gently beating the eggs while slowly incorporating more flour into the beaten eggs.
  3. After a few minutes, you’ll end up with a shaggy mass of dough that you can begin kneading with your hands. After 15-25 minutes (or one episode of The Mindy Project), the dough will be smooth, supple, and feel like a dry earlobe. Then it’s time for the dough to rest; it takes at least 30 minutes for the gluten molecules to relax and allow for the dough to hydrate fully, so wrap the dough in plastic wrap, stick it in the fridge, and wait for a bit before you start rolling the pasta into the sfoglia, or pasta sheets.
  4. Cutting the dough into the fettuccine is the easy part. Either roll the pasta sheets like you would a yoga mat and cut crosswise into strips, or cut it on a fettuccine-sized attachment on a pasta machine. Liberally dust the cut pasta with all-purpose flour, then pile the noodles loosely on a dishcloth dusted with flour while you cut the rest of the pasta.
  5. Thin, fresh pasta like this cooks almost instantly, so it needs just one to two minutes in boiling, salted water before it’s perfectly al dente. Toss it in a simple light sauce like pesto, butter, or a light tomato sauce, and serve the hot pasta immediately with a little parmesan.

Pasta di semola di grano duro for malloreddus

Serves 4

1 lb. semolina flour

200 ml (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) filtered water

  1. Mound the flour on a countertop or large cutting board, then create a deep cavity in the center of the mound with your fist.
  2. Pour the water into the cavity, then use the tines of a fork to slowly beat the water into the semolina flour.
  3. After a few minutes, you’ll end up with a shaggy mass of dough that you can begin kneading with your hands. After 15-25 minutes (or one episode of The Mindy Project), the dough will be smooth, supple, and feel like a dry earlobe. Then it’s time for the dough to rest; it takes at least 30 minutes for the gluten molecules to relax and allow for the dough to hydrate fully, so wrap the dough in plastic wrap, stick it in the fridge, and wait for a bit before you start forming the mallorredus.
  4. Cut the dough into six pieces, then roll each piece into a long, even rope about ½ inch in diameter. Cut the rope into ½ inch pieces, a little smaller than a piece of gnocchi. Roll each piece off the ridged side of a cheese grater (see pictures in the post for more details), then place the malloreddus on a dishcloth dusted with flour.
  5. Cook the malloreddus in boiling salted water for 8-9 minutes, until al dente. Drain and toss with sauce, then serve immediately.

Click here for printable versions of these recipes!

Semolina Orange Tea Cake


I like to think of cakes in two broad categories: special occasion cakes and rectangular cakes. Special occasion cakes are nearly always cut into triangular wedges and involve multiple layers of ganache, cake, and frosting. They’re one of my very favorite things to make and eat, but they’re also a lot of work. Rectangular cakes, however, are a convenient way to bridge the gap between birthday parties. They come in the form of pound cakes, almond or fruit loaf cakes with glazes and dustings of powdered sugar, and tea cakes. You know, the cakes you can eat for breakfast with a cup of coffee or for afternoon snack with some tea.

This most recent recipe for tea cake that I found (from Jerusalem) is the perfect recipe for any occasion where you may need a simple dessert. There’s no butter to soften and cream painstakingly with sugar, just two bowls of wet and dry ingredients that get whisked together and baked in a loaf pan. Once the golden brown cakes emerge from the oven and perfume the air with scents of honey and orange zest, you brush them with simple syrup so that the outside is moist and sweet, even three or four days later. The semolina gives the crumb a little bit of crunch and the honey speeds up the caramelization process so that the crust is a rich golden color. The short slices make for convenient hand-held snacks when reading a book, but the cakes can be cut into longer planks as well to be spread with jam or marmalade.

Just because a cake doesn’t take all day to make doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious and impressive.


Semolina Orange Tea Cake

Adapted from Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Makes 2 short loaves or one taller loaf

¾ sunflower or canola oil

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)

Zest of two oranges

½ cup honey

4 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons semolina flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon table salt

Soaking Syrup

1 cup sugar

½ cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons water

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease your loaf pan or pans (see note below for details on sizing), then line with parchment paper along the base and longest sides. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, orange juice, zest, honey, and eggs. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, semolina, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan or pans, then place on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean, 45-60 minutes.
  3. About 10 minutes before the cakes are done, place the sugar and the water for the soaking syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Once the cakes come out of the oven, begin brushing them with the syrup. This may take a few minutes and may seem like an inordinate amount of syrup, but if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve survived either the SAT, college, doing laundry, or all of the above so I think you can handle brushing a cup of simply syrup into a cake. Keep at it and make sure to use up all of the syrup. Remove the cakes from the pan and let them cool completely before serving.

Note: This recipe will make either 2 short cakes or one taller one. For two smaller cakes, prepare two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans as directed in step 1. For a taller cake, only use one 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, prepare as directed, and pour all of the batter into the one pan. It will take an additional 20-30 minutes to bake fully.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Coconut Almond Macaroons

Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment:


Aside from the occasional Passover macaroon I haven’t had many of the traditional coconut macaroons, instead falling for the delicate French macaroons with almonds and butter-cream filling. Then an occasion arose where I needed a gluten-free cookie, but didn’t want to spend all day finding sweet rice flour, oat flour, and xanthan gum. Oh, and I didn’t want to use any eggs either—they were needed for breakfast the next day. The situation could have been a real disaster, but after a little brainstorming I came up with the idea for a coconut macaroon bound with almond butter and scented with almond extract.

The result was a rich, chewy cookie with flavors of almond and coconut that complimented rather than competed with each other. Better yet, they held together and baked wonderfully to a light golden brown; something that is not easily said about gluten-free and vegan cookies. Now I know I won’t be waiting until the next Passover dinner I attend to have another macaroon.


Coconut Almond Macaroons

Makes about 32 macaroons

1/3 cup creamy almond butter

1/3 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons almond milk

½ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 cup almond meal

¼ teaspoon table salt

1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the almond butter, oil, milk, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the almond meal, salt, and coconut and mix on low speed until fully combined, about 1 minute.
  2. Scoop 1 tablespoon-sized amounts of macaroon dough onto the prepared baking sheets, then bake in the preheated oven for 10-13 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool, then serve.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Panisses (Chickpea Fries) with Red Pepper Dipping Sauce

IMG_1851 The great pantry clean-out of 2014 is going pretty well; after a few batches of cookies and other baked goods all I’m left with is a jar of buckwheat flour and a little cornmeal. Today’s recipe utilized the strangest ingredient (chickpea flour) I had in the baking drawer, though it turned out so well I’m wondering why I was so hesitant to use it in the first place.

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Chickpea flour is commonly used in the Provencal street food called socca. With a nutty flavor and delicate texture, it’s difficult to make but a delicious snack when done correctly and served with olive oil. The less common use of chickpea flour in Provence is in a snack called panisses. For panisses, chickpea flour is cooked much like polenta into a thick batter, then poured into a mold and chilled until firm. Once it is cool enough to hold its shape, the batter is sliced into fry-like shapes and fried in olive oil and sprinkled in salt.

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What results is something that looks a bit like a French fry but under the golden brown, crisp crust reveals a creamy, slightly nutty interior that’s somehow light but filling. I knew I wanted to serve the panisses with a sort of dipping sauce–something to brighten up the more intense flavors of the chickpea flour–so I opened up The Flavor Bible to the “Chickpea” section (you think I’m joking, but there really is such a thing) and after a little research whipped up a red pepper dipping sauce with preserved lemon and walnuts that comes together in less than five minutes in the food processor. It provides the perfect contrast to the panisses, and makes for a nice accompaniment to roasted eggplant as well.

For those of you that love fries and ketchup, give this dish a try. It may look similar to the American classic, but the Mediterranean ingredients make this dish anything but traditional.

 

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Panisses

Recipe from David Lebovitz

Serves 6 as an appetizer

4 cups water

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 ¼ cups chickpea flour

About ¼ cup olive oil, plus a little for greasing the loaf pan

Sea salt, to finish

1. Lightly brush a loaf pan with olive oil and set aside.

2. Combine the water, sea salt, and olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the chickpea flour and cook, whisking constantly for 3 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat to low and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 8-10 minutes, until the chickpea mixture is very thick and holds its shape. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and smooth into an even layer. Let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

4. Once the batter has chilled, unmold it from the pan onto a cutting board and cut into French-fry sized shapes.

5. Heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, add some of the panisses in a single layer, without crowding, then cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat with the remaining panisses, then serve immediately with the red pepper dipping sauce.

Red Pepper Dipping Sauce

Makes about 1 ½ cups

12 oz.  jar roasted red peppers, drained (or roast, peel, and seed 8 oz. of red peppers, and add ¼ teaspoon of salt to the recipe)

2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon

¼ cup walnuts, toasted

Pinch of cayenne

2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Combine the red peppers, preserved lemon, walnuts, and cayenne in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. With machine running, drizzle in the olive oil and process until smooth and emulsified. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. The flavor will improve once it sits for 20-30 minutes. Serve with the panisses.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce

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As anyone who reads food blogs or has researched Italian cooking will know, this sauce is nothing new. In The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, the late Marcella Hazan outlines a recipe for what may be the most simplistic tomato sauce yet. Imagine a sauce made solely of simmered San Marzano tomatoes, butter, and onion—no olive oil, garlic, basil, or oregano to overpower the delicate tomatoes.

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You’re probably skeptical at this point, as I was too. There’s no browning of aromatics, rounds of deglazing the pan with wine, or other steps that cooks typically use to build flavor in a long-simmered sauce. It goes against the grain of loud, theatrical recipes designed to wow dinner guests. Yet once you try this balanced, fully flavored sauce you’ll know that Marcella was right all along. It’s smooth on the palate without any jarring bits of minced garlic—or worse chopped carrot or celery—and goes wonderfully with a pot of pasta. It’s all you need for lunch, along with your appetite and a little bit of parmesan.

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(You may be blanching at the significant amount of butter in the photo above, but I doubled the recipe for the sauce so that there was a stash in the freezer for future pasta nights when I’m on the other side of the country and Aidan’s at a loss for what to make for dinner. Besides, five tablespoons of butter for one batch of sauce is not an exorbitant amount, so trust the recipe and go with it—there’s still less fat in the recipe than in a batch of pesto.)

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After 45 minutes of slow simmering, you’ll see that the sauce has reduced slightly, and that the butter has fully melted and rises to the top of the sauce. The onion has done its job, so it gets discarded, and a pinch of salt is added for seasoning.

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I prefer a smoother sauce, so I used a food processor to break down the larger chunks of tomato, but you could absolutely leave it as is for a more textured sauce.

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Toss the sauce with hot al dente pasta—I prefer a short, tubular shape like rigatoni but I’ve seen longer shapes like spaghetti used with great success—and serve it immediately. Toss the pasta with just enough sauce to coat the pasta without leaving a pool in the bottom of the bowl, which works out to be about 1 ½ cups per pound of pasta.

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Add parmesan and serve immediately.

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Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce

Makes enough sauce for 1-1 ½ lbs. of pasta

1, 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano

5 tablespoons salted butter

1 onion, peeled and halved

Salt, to taste

  1. Pour the can of tomatoes into a large pot or saucepan, then gently crush by hand. Add the butter and onion, then place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, then simmer for 45-60 minutes, until the fat floats free on top of the sauce, crushing the tomatoes gently with a wooden spoon occasionally.
  2. Remove the onion from the sauce and discard.
  3. Adjust the salt according to your preferences. With the variety of salted butter that I used, I found I only needed 2 healthy pinches of salt, but add salt until the sauce tastes well-seasoned and like something you would like to eat.
  4. If you would like a smoother sauce, transfer the sauce to a food mill, blender, or food processor and process until it has reached your desired level of smoothness.
  5. Toss the sauce with hot, al dente pasta, about 1 ½ cups of sauce for every pound of cooked pasta. Serve immediately with parmesan cheese.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Chocolate Coconut Shakes

In case you missed it: this week on Kinsey Cooks is all about no-cook, no-bake recipes for meals that don’t heat up the house. Check out the other no-cook recipes below:

Avocado Salad with Nectarines and Walnuts

Strawberries with Burrata and Balsamic


If you’re looking for a cool summer dessert that doesn’t involve a pint of ice cream (not that there’s anything wrong with that), this is the recipe for you. This shake is going to be the best smoothie you’ve ever had: no fruit—specifically, no bananas—and no ingredients with alarming names (chlollera, anyone?), just creamy coconut milk, chocolate, and maple syrup blended up into a milkshake-like smooth with a swirl of whipped coconut cream on top for good measure. Aside from a little bit of advance chilling this comes together in less than five minutes, which is perfect for times when your interest in whipping, measuring, straining, and temperature checking is inversely proportional to your hunger.


With a small amount of added sugar and an abundance of healthy fats, this drink shouldn’t just be thought of as a dessert. You could enjoy it for breakfast or afternoon snack seeing as it’s nowhere near as sweet as some cereals or granola bars. No matter when you drink it you’re sure to enjoy it, because with one sip of this chocolaty shake with a hint of coconut you’ll already be planning your next batch.


Chocolate Coconut Shakes

Makes 2 large or 4 small shakes

1 13.5 oz. can of full-fat coconut milk

2 cups milk (use any variety that has fat: whole, 2%, soy, almond etc. Just don’t use skim.)

¾ cup ice

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate shavings, to garnish.

  1. Place the can of coconut milk, unopened, in the fridge. Divide the milk into two 1-cup portions and place each in a small Tupperware, then place in the freezer. Let the coconut milk chill in the fridge and the milk sit in the freezer for about 1 hour, until the milk in the freezer is just beginning to frost over.
  2. Open the can of chilled coconut milk and scoop out 1/3 cup of the coconut cream—it will be the thick white layer on the top. Place it in a medium bowl, then whip with a handheld mixer until soft peaks form, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside for later use garnishing the shakes.
  3. Place the remainder of the coconut milk with the milk from the freezer in a blender jar. Add the ice, cocoa powder, maple syrup, and vanilla then blend on high speed until smooth, which depending on your blender can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Pour the shakes into serving glasses, top with the whipped coconut cream and a few chocolate shavings, then serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Strawberries with Burrata and Balsamic

In case you missed it: this week on Kinsey Cooks is all about no-cook, no-bake recipes for meals that don’t heat up the house. Yesterday, I shared an Avocado Salad with Nectarines and Walnuts. Keep checking in this week for more heat-free recipes!

Someone asked me when I served this dish at our weekly Friday night pizza dinners if this is considered a dessert or savory food. It’s a really good question, because on top of a pile of sweet strawberries, there’s some salty, creamy cheese, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. While I don’t know if this is dessert or dinner, I do know that this is a delicious dish. It’s not a dish to be pigeon-holed. It’s what you eat alongside a piece of pizza and a selection of the many salads that are brought to Friday pizza night (this is California, after all). Maybe you’ll enjoy it as an afternoon snack when it’s 4pm and the idea of waiting until seven for dinner sounds unbearable. You could serve it at the end of a meal of grilled vegetables and fresh bread.


If you haven’t had a chance to try burrata cheese yet, there’s no better time to try it than this summer. Store everywhere, from Trader Joe’s to Whole Foods have started selling these balls of mozzarella filled with shreds of mozzarella mixed with cream. Fresh mozzarella is to burrata as Kraft singles are to sharp English Cheddar. It’s just that much better. With a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic reduction and a pinch of cayenne to add some spice, you can have something truly delicious in fewer than ten minutes that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.


Strawberries with Burrata and Balsamic

Serves 8 as an appetizer

4 cups strawberries, trimmed and halved

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon balsamic reduction or glaze, divided

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

8 oz. burrata cheese, torn into bite-sized shreds

  1. Place the strawberries, olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl and toss to combine. Pour the strawberries out onto a serving platter, then top with the shreds of burrata. Drizzle the remaining teaspoon of balsamic across the top and serve.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Avocado Salad with Nectarines and Walnuts

Summer weather is really starting to heat up around here, which makes spending hours in a hot kitchen less than appealing. Now is not the time for lengthy braises; it’s time to embrace all of the wonderful summer produce in its freshest state. That’s why this week all the recipes I will be sharing will be heat-free. Anytime you visit this site from Monday to Friday, you will find recipes that can be made without turning on the stove, preheating the oven, turning on the grill, or starting the microwave because the last thing anyone wants to do right now is raise the temperature of his or her house a few degrees.

To start the week off, I made this simple avocado salad with nectarines and walnuts. I saw the two stone fruits sitting on the counter and imagined how good the creamy avocado would be against the sweet, juicy nectarine with a tangy lemon vinaigrette.

Despite how simple this is to put together, it ends up being a beautiful appetizer. The slices of the avocado and nectarine have a similar curvature that makes arranging them on a platter easy and elegant.

A good amount of sea salt enhances all the flavors while adding a nice textural finish.

Finally, a handful of crunchy chopped walnuts provide a slightly bitter finish to the dish to balance all of the sweetness from the fruits. I always like to pair avocados and walnuts together because I think that their flavor profiles echo one another, and after a little bit of research, I found that both of them contain quantities of the carbonyl hexanal that contribute to a walnut-like aroma, confirming my observations.

This salad makes for a nice appetizer as is, though if you wanted to create a slightly more substantial dish, you could serve it on top of a bed of lightly dressed arugula or a slice of artisan bread. Next time, you need some food in less than five minutes, turn to this dish.

Avocado Salad with Nectarines and Walnuts

Serves 4 as an appetizer

2 ripe avocados, pitted and sliced

3 ripe nectarines, pitted and sliced

Flaky sea salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup chopped walnuts

Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Arrange the fruit on a plate: alternate slices of avocado and nectarine either on a large serving platter or 4 individual plates. Season the tops of the fruit with 4 pinches of salt.
  2. Make the dressing: Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Drizzle the dressing on top of the avocado and nectarines.
  3. Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the salad, then top with freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!