Posts Tagged 'sauce'

Meat and Mushroom Spaghetti Sauce

This is the best spaghetti sauce I have ever made. It is even better than the recipe I inherited from my mother. I combined several recipes, including my mother’s, to make it. What could be bad?  It’s got mushrooms:
meat sauce mushrooms
It’s got ground buffalo:
meat sauce buffalo
It’s got hot Italian chicken sausage
meat sauce sausage
Plus it’s got a bit of crushed red pepper to give it even more zing. And it’s low fat and one recipe makes a lot, so you can freeze it. (Oh, and it freezes well.)

One warning, though. I have made this numerous times. The last time was after I’d gotten rid of my slow cooker in preparation for the move that has not yet happened.  I figured that I could just make it in my giant trusty sauté pan. It was ok, but it lacked the depth and richness of the usual sauce. So you really need a slow cooker for long simmering to make this taste wonderful.

Meat and Mushroom Spaghetti Sauce

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (see note)
1 cup chopped carrot
1 chopped green pepper
½ pound button mushrooms, sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
16 ounces hot Italian chicken sausage
1 pound ground buffalo
1/4 cup no-salt-added tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried basil

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, carrot, and green pepper to pan; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
meat sauce veggies cooking
Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Place vegetable mixture in a 6-quart slow cooker.
meat sauce veggies crockpot
Crumble sausage and buffalo into skillet; sauté 6 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble further. Remove meat mixture from skillet using a slotted spoon. Add meat mixture to slow cooker. Stir next 9 ingredients (through basil) into slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 8 hours. Makes 9 servings at about 4.6 grams of fat/serving. Break out the pasta and enjoy.
meat sauce
NOTE: I chop the onion, carrot, and green pepper in the food processor so they’ll blend into the sauce.


Mumbai Green Sauce

I lived in Mumbai for a year, back when we Westerners called it Bombay. I recently acquired My Bombay Kitchen, which describes itself as Parsi home cooking. (Parsis are the descendants of Zoroastrians who fled Persia in about 937 A.D. and settled on the west Coast of India, finally concentrating in Mumbai.)  The recipes in the book are very much like the ones my Hindu neighbors prepared regularly, as much Mumbai as Parsi, and each time I prepare one I am brought back to a flood of memories of my time there and the neighbors who taught me about India and everyday life.

This green sauce, more properly a chutney, smells like my neighbors’ kitchens – coriander (cilantro), mint, coconut, garlic – being ground almost daily as an accompaniment to ordinary meals or to become the base of the rich curries and snacks that came from every kitchen. Serve it on a thali (a metal tray on which many meals are served) beside other savory curries; add besan (chick pea) flour to it to make a batter for shrimp.   My neighbors would grind the ingredients on a masala stone, a thick granite slab with a roughened surface. Squatting beside the stone in their saris, women would roll over the ingredients with a granite “rolling pin” until the ingredients made a fine paste, filling the room with an aroma that bespoke India to me.

The granite slab was far too heavy to bring home.  Now I grind in a food processor, although it doesn’t create the same paste-like texture it has that unmistakable fragrance. I may someday get a wet-dry grinder that, I understand, creates chutneys with the same texture as the beloved granite slab.  And I use the chutney in all sorts of ways that my neighbors wouldn’t have dreamed of.

Mumbai Green Sauce

½ cup grated fresh or frozen unsweetened coconut, or 1/3 cup unsweetened dry coconut (see Note)
1 cup (packed) fresh coriander, both stems and leaves
¼ teaspoon ground cumin seed
12 fresh mint leaves
1-3 green chilies, seeded – depending on your taste
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped.
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Juice of 1 lime
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar

If you are using dry coconut, soak it in warm water for ½ hour.  Drain coconut, saving soaking liquid.  Put all ingredients in food processor (or wet dry grinder if you are so lucky) and pulse until it is as smooth as possible.  Add a little of the soaking liquid or water if you need to.  But don’t add too much, you want this to be a little stiff, not a gravy.  This chutney makes 9 tablespoons, at 1.5 grams of fat/tablespoon.  It keeps well in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator for about a week.

NOTE: I grew up in Miami, where coconuts grew on trees and fresh coconuts were easy to find.  But in the frigid northwest, nary a coconut palm can be seen.  I have difficulty finding fresh coconut – when I buy them they tend to be sour or moldy. Dry coconut is not ideal, but it works.


And how did I use this divine chutney (which I now make almost weekly)?

I put it on some plain pan-seared steelhead trout and boiled potatoes to dress them up.


I jazzed up poached eggs on toast (with a little light butter).


I used it on sandwiches, from roast beef (where it didn’t work so well) to veggie (where it knocked my socks off. ) I added it to non-fat yogurt to make the dressing for a tomato and cucumber salad I took for lunch.


And I put it in an egg substitute omelet with a bit of goat cheese.


The Famous Jezebel Sauce

This is the famous Jezebel Sauce – a sweet hot jelly sauce that has multiple uses.  I first made it to serve at a buffet dinner, because I thought that the Cornish hens seemed a little plain and needed something to spoon over them to dress them up.  Well, the guests put it on the Cornish hens, and shortly they began to put it on the roasted vegetables, pot roast, and, to my great astonishment, the chocolate cake.  I used the little bit of leftover sauce on a pot roast sandwich.  I think it would be great spooned over reduced fat cream cheese or goat cheese as an appetizer served with crackers – which I am going to make for a gathering his week. And, in addition to its flavor, it’s beautiful and very easy to make and can be made ahead.


The original recipe, from Cooking Light, called for pineapple preserves, which I couldn’t find at the time.  So I used apricot-pineapple preserves, which gave it a more orange color, but I think it had much of the same flavor.

Jezebel Sauce

½ cup boiling water
¼ cup dried apricots
2/3 cup pineapple preserves
1/3 cup red pepper jelly
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon prepared horseradish
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Combine apricots and1/2 cup boiling water in a bowl.  Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain. Finely chop apricots.  Combine apricots, preserves, and remaining ingradients in a bowl.  Cover and chill.

This makes about 9 two tablespoon servings with 0 grams if fat/serving.

Smoked Cornish Hen with Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

I have a smoker – a useful item when it is hot and you want to make something interesting without heating up the kitchen.   It is an electric smoker, which I purchased because it seemed safer than my old charcoal smoker in this fire-prone region.  You soak wood chips in water – I used apple wood this time – and then place them around the electric elements before plugging in the smoker. The beauty of a smoker is that you can get that smoke-penetrating-the-meat flavor without the added salt that most commercial smoked products have.  It is also inherently a low-fat way of cooking. Any small amounts of remaining fat drip into the water pan below the racks.  I have smoked fish, leg of lamb, pork tenderloin, turkey, and later this year I plan to smoke a duck.

Given that it was a record-breaking 103, I decided to smoke a couple of Cornish hens that I was planning originally to bake.  I did not marinate or brine them, although I have marinated smoker-bound meats in everything from beer and wine to orange juice. I planned to make a hearty barbecue sauce, and I thought that the flavor of the marinade would be overwhelmed by the sauce. So I just cut them in half, took off the skins and fat, and put them in the smoker, filling the water pan that sits below the racks with a mixture of water and leftover wine.  I smoked them for about 2 1/2 hours. (You could also smoke them with the skins on, but it is sometimes harder to remove the skins after smoking.)

What you see on the rack below the hens are mushrooms.  I like to fully use the smoker space, so I usually tuck mushrooms or other smokable vegetables like eggplant around the main course.  Smoked mushrooms are good on sandwiches, and in salads and pilafs.

The smoked hens develop a beautiful color.  I used to think that Cornish hens were very high fat, and with skin on, they are a higher fat entrée.  But without skins, a half of a hen, the usual serving size, only has 4 grams of fat.

I am somewhat obsessed with blueberries. At this time of year, I buy them by the pound and try to work them into everything. The barbecue sauce originally came from Eating Well, another magazine you should consider reading. I left the jalapeno peppers out because I didn’t want a very spicy sauce, but added a little black pepper for some warmth.  This makes a fairly assertive barbecue sauce.

Blueberry-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Canola Oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup bourbon (confession: I didn’t have any bourbon so I used Southern Comfort)
2 cups fresh or frozen (unthawed) blueberries
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 Tablespoon of brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of molasses
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
a few grinds of black pepper

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat (In retrospect, I would have used a non-stick pan).  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden (about 3 minutes).  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add bourbon. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in blueberries, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, allspice, and black pepper.  Return to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.  This makes 2 cups.  They list the serving size as 1 Tablespoon, and 0 grams of fat/serving.  Realistically, you’d use more than this on your entrée.  I think I used about 1/4 cup.  This would make it about 2 grams of fat/serving.

And what is underneath the hens: a quick pilaf of brown and wild rice mix to which I added chopped up smoked mushrooms, green onions, and a handful of dried blueberries.  I estimate that the whole entrée had 8 grams of fat, including 1/2 hen, a cup of pilaf, and 1/4 cup of sauce.  I took the pilaf the next day for lunch with some chopped Cornish hen mixed in.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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