Wednesday, March 30, 2011

'Warm Glow' Pasta Sauce

This pasta sauce recipe was a figment of my imagination in that I never made it before entering it in a newspaper recipe contest. It was the 3rd time that I entered the annual contest. The first 2 times were not winners, so I conjured up this recipe as a joke. The newspaper is published in a town which had a large number of inhabitants of Italian heritage. I assumed that each family of such a heritage had a family recipe that was traditionally treasured and needed another one like a hole in the head.

After being awarded 2nd Place in the category in which needed to entered by a professional chef who judged that category, I made a batch. It really tasted great. However, here's another aspect of the judging; the judge never made it either and agreed with the ingredient list because he had worked in the Southwestern United States and was familiar with the chiles that are ingredients of chile puree.

Category 4. Entree (Fish, Vegetable, Pasta)

            'Warm Glow' Pasta Sauce 
        1993 Prize Winner   2nd Place

            1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
            1 large onion, coarsely chopped
            2 ribs celery, finely chopped
            4-6 garlic cloves, minced
            2  28 oz. cans tomato puree*
            16 oz. chile puree (recipe follows)
            1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
            2 tsp. dried basil
            1 tsp. dried oregano
            1 tsp. sugar
            salt & black pepper, to taste

            * should contain no herbs and spices

            Saute onion and celery in olive oil using a saucepan large enough to hold all ingredients. Add garlic just as onions are transluscent, and saute 1 minute longer. Add tomato puree and chile puree. Bring to a slow boil, then turn down heat to a simmer. Add parsley, basil, oregano, salt, black pepper and sugar. Simmer for about 1 hour. Add water if sauce gets too thick. Serve over 1 lb. of your favorite pasta, cooked according to package directions.

Chile Puree:

            2 dried pasilla chilies*
            2 dried guajillo chilies*
            1 medium onion
            2 Tbs. olive oil
            2 Tbs. flour

            * mildly hot chilies available at better supermarkets, Latino stores, or by mail order

            Roast chilies under broiler for about 3 minutes to bring out flavor. Then put them in a bowl, pour boiling water over them, and soak for 1/2 to 1 hour. Reserve water used for soaking. Remove and discard stems from chilies. Cut chilies in pieces. Cut onion into chunks. Put chilies, onion, and reserved water to cover solids in a blender. Blend until smooth and thick. Use judgment when adding water. Heat oil in saucepan. Add flour to oil and whisk till smooth. Add blended chilies and onion to saucepan, stir until all ingredients well mixed. simmer for about 5 minutes. Chile puree may be made ahead of time and refrigerated until needed.

1993 Times Herald Recipe Contest Entry

Surimi Soup

Surimi Soup – My Way*

Surimi is a term meaning "formed fish" in Japanese and refers to fish pulp that's formed into various shapes. Most surimi found in North America is made from Alaska pollock, a fish with a lean, firm flesh that has a delicate, slightly sweet flavor. It is found in supermarkets and some other stores where it is labeled as crab legs or lobster. Make sure that you read the label so that you are aware that it is not really crab or lobster.

Note that ingredient measurements are not exact, and that does not matter as long as the cook does not go to extremes.


Canola oil
½ tsp. turmeric
1 small onion (golf ball sized), diced
1 or 2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 Tbs. flour
2 cups of water, add as needed until sufficient
Grinds of nutmeg
1 teaspoon chile powder (not chili powder) or more according to taste
¾ cup of frozen corn (optional, I had this in the freezer)
1 lb. surimi, torn by hand
Heaping ½ teaspoon Italian seasonings
Kosher salt, pinch
1 12 fl. oz. can evaporated milk
Water from rinsing evaporated milk can, as needed


Heat the canola oil in a tall sauce pan, and add turmeric and chile powder when oil shimmers. Add onion and then garlic when onion is translucent.

Add flour briskly whisking it to make a roux. Add a little of the water at a time allowing the roux to thicken and adding water as needed. Grind in the nutmeg.

Add the corn, chopped surimi, salt, and evaporated milk plus water swirled in the milk can. Bring heat to a simmer for several minutes. Serve.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Salsa Arrabbiata (Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce)

This recipe used chiles bought a store that caters to local Hispanic people and the inventory is both Italian and Hispanic people. Although the ingredient list includes ripe poblano chiles, I'm not sure that's what they were because I've seen mislabeled produce at the store in the past. These chiles looked like elongated red bell peppers and were larger than poblanos that I've seen in other store. I tasted the placenta of one of the chiles and it was hot.

Note that no sugar has been added, and it is not sweet. This sauce is viscous and can be thinned with water or vinegar. It can be used in sandwiches, soups, and stews.

Salsa Arrabbiata
Hot Pepper Sauce – made with ripe red poblanos and bhut jolokia chiles

Made Saturday night 26Mar11

5 Ripe poblanos, roasted and peeled
2½ steamed ghost peppers (bhut jolokia)
5 microwaved* garlic cloves
~ 1 tablespoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
Kosher salt, 2 or 3 pinches
1 inch chunk fresh ginger root, peeled, thinly sliced and microwaved*
Olive oil and 1 shot glass water added resulting in desired viscosity

Combine all ingredients in a wide-mouthed glass jar that will accommodate an immersion blender. Blend until fine and desired consistency is achieved. Store covered in the fridge.

The Italians use ‘arrabbiata’ with culinary names to indicate spiciness. Arrabbiata means 'angry' in Italian, and the term just tickled my funny bone.

* Microwaving partially cooks the garlic and sliced fresh ginger so that they are more easily processed by immersion blender.

The Blog Mission

The Blog Mission is to share the results of kitchen experiments, successes and failures, with those who wish to be creative in the preparation of food and condiments. Posts on this blog will not necessarily appear on a daily basis.

 My personal culinary motto is "Cook like a peasant, dine like a gourmet." I belong to the "What if...?" school of cooking specializing in "cuisine impromptu." I have no formal culinary training so you may wish to take what is presented at this site with a grain of salt.

Some of the creations here may not have units of measure associated with all the ingredients in a list for a recipe. One is expected to use one's gut feeling about quantities of ingredients included in a recipe of a prepared dish or condiment.

If one becomes a regular visitor to this site, one will soon realize that I have a strong preference for preparations that contain pungent chiles (hot peppers or peperoncini, you choose the term).

Welcome to my world of culinary endeavors.