We arrived in Bologna on a rainy October night, and asked the hotel desk for a dinner recommendation. Da Nello, he said. A restaurant just off the main square. And then he said, “Tortellini en Brodo is very good. My favorite this time of year.” Apparently this soup is served when the weather turns cold, and since Bologna is the birthplace of the tortellini, I thought I should try it.
This is a photo of the soup that night. They brought me this steaming bowl of tortellini and a jar of grated Parmesan cheese, which the server indicated that I should sprinkle over the top. The tortellini were very small–about the size of my thumbnail and chewy rather than soft. I doubted this serving would fill me up, but by the end, I was happy, warm and in possession of a new traditional recipe.
We found the food in the Emilia-Romaga region to be simple, yet incredibly flavorful. I think it is because they use very high quality ingredients. So when you prepare this ready-in-ten-minutes soup and because there are only three elements, be sure to use high quality ingredients.
1 quart low-salt chicken broth, good quality. [Note: I use Swanson's and have good results.]
1 8 oz. package fresh tortellini from the grocer’s, often found near the deli section
Heat the broth to a low bubbling boil, then slide in the tortellini. Cook for 5-8 minutes until pasta is tender (but don’t overcook). Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese (not the stuff in the green bottle–use high quality, please).
When it’s raining or cold outside, it’s a Soup Night inside. And this one is a good candidate because it is chunky, hearty and has lots of vegetables and flavor. It is — as are all soups — generally better the next day, so you can use that as your excuse for making a big batch and serving it twice.
This soup was originally published in Bon Appetit, but I have made changes over the three billion times I’ve made it. Well, maybe I haven’t made it that many times, but I’ve made it for our own supper, potlucks, soup parties and everytime I bring it somewhere, someone asks for the recipe. Here it is.
Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini–Yield: 8 servings, 1 1/2 cups each
(That’s the official name, but we just call it Tortellini Soup.)
1 lb. Italian sausage (I use Jimmy Dean’s Sage sausage as a back-up.)
1 coarsely-chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4 cans (14.5 oz) beef broth
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cups (5 medium) chopped, seeded, peeled tomatoes, or 1 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes (see note below)
1 cup thinly sliced carrots (about 3)
1/2 tsp. basil leaves
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 medium–8″ long)
1 bag of dried tortellini (8 oz)
1 pepper, preferable a sweet red or golden pepper
Grated Parmesan Cheese (I used cheddar tonight, which is what you see above.)
If sausage comes in a casing, remove casing and brown sausage in a 5-qt. soup pot. Remove sausage; drain. In 1 Tbs. of drippings, sauté onions and garlic until tender. [Cook's note: I just throw in the onions and garlic to the almost browned sausage and keep stirring.]
(They call for peeled seeded tomatoes. Sometimes I do peel mine, but other times, I just cut them up, then pop out the seeds with my thumb.)
Add beef broth, water, tomatoes, carrots, basil, tomato sauce and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 30 minutes. Skim fat from soup.
(If you use the full 16 oz. package of dry torrellini, you will have less of a soup and more of a casserole; try using just half of the package for a more soupier soup. Fresh tortellini can also be used, but it won’t be as delicious, as the dry pasta soaks up the broth and flavors of the soup.)
Stir in zucchini, tortellini and pepper. Simmer covered an additional 35-40 minutes or until tortellini are tender. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of each serving.
NOTE: I added crimini (brown) mushrooms this time around, cuting them into chunks. This is strictly optional. If you use the Jimmy Dean’s sausage instead of the Italian, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to amp up the flavors.
My daughter informed me that these are all over Pinterest, but I found them by following a series of links to *this* page, where I swear this cook has photoshopped her cookies to look that good. Or maybe she’s just a better baker than I am, or maybe it’s because I substituted a cube of butter for some of that shortening — thinking it would taste better — but forgot how soft it makes cookies. So note to self: don’t swap out the shortening. Now, prep your stuff.
I couldn’t find baby chocolate-dipped pretzels, so if you think I was going to dip them all, you don’t know me very well. Spend your time where it counts, and improvise the rest. So I cut all my sort-of-mini pretzels in half. Antlers are kind of hoary looking, aren’t they?
I purchased minty white chocolate M&Ms for the nose. They come in a package with red and white. We ate all the white ones, while saving the red ones for this project. I had also purchased mini M&Ms for the eyes. We decided we liked brown and blue, and that the reindeer with the green eyes looked like Zombie Reindeer (so that would be for a different holiday).
Make up a double batch of the dough in the Christmas Kiss cookies. Roll them into 1-inch balls, but I have to admit that I used my cookie scooper, which I think is 1 and 1/2 inches. Place a couple of scoops of sugar in a large plastic baggie, drop in the balls of cookie dough, and shake lightly to coat them with sugar (so much easier than rolling them around in a dish).
Flatten them slightly with the bottom of a glass, then pinch their “nose” slightly, to get that elongated shape. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. QUICKLY set in a matching pair of antlers, then do the nose, then the eyes last. Or get someone to help you: my husband did all the antlers while I was throwing on noses and eyeballs.
Let cool on the cookie sheet. When mostly cool, transfer to a rack.
NOTE: you can see I used parchment paper on this batch. You can buy it in rolls from the grocery store or (now) from Costco. If you don’t use parchment paper, the world won’t end. However, you may want to transfer your cookies to the cooling rack when they are still sort of warm, instead waiting until they are really cool.
1 3/4 cup flour (I use 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, and 1 cup white flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Form into balls about 1 inch in diameter, roll in granulated (white) sugar. Bake in 350 oven for about 8-10 minutes or until set. Take out of oven and immediately press a chocolate kiss into center. Remove to wire rack to cool. Kisses will get soft as they take on the heat of the cookies, but will firm up again as the cookies cool.
I found this on the web, and decided to try it out for my monthly treat for the ladies at church. That’s usually never a good idea, but it turned out fine. I do think, though, that these could benefit from a little something or other to make them pop: maybe a touch of cinnamon? nutmeg? If you figure it out, leave a comment and let me know.
I had just purchased a huge bag of fresh cranberries and wanted to bake something using them. I found scads of recipes on the web using dried cranberries, but few with fresh cranberries. I adapted one to make these cookies.
I think these bake up best when the dough is cold, so if you are going to have everything at room temperature, please leave time to chill the dough before baking.
1 cup cold butter, or barely softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
rind of one orange, grated (about 1 Tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 bag (12 oz) white (or vanilla) chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, washed & picked over, then coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degree F.
Measure out cranberries, then place in a wire mesh strainer and rinse, picking out the wrinkled or barely ripe berries. Place in a food processor and pulse one or two times, or until coarsely chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, it can be done by using a heavy knife, but it is tricky. Be of good courage.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until it is light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in vanilla extract and orange rind. Mix well, then add in oatmeal. In a separate bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture until blended, but don’t overbeat. Add chopped fresh cranberries, walnuts, and white chocolate chips, stirring well to incorporate throughout.
Drop by large tablespoonfuls onto parchment-covered cookie sheet about 2 inches apart; cookies will be about the size of a small plum. (I put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator at this point to chill before baking, but if you chilled the dough after mixing, you should be fine.)
Bake for 19 minutes, or until edges are lightly brown. Let set 1 minute outside of the oven, then drag the parchment sheet with cookies on it, onto a rack to let them cool. Yield: about 24 large (3″) cookies.
Cook’s Note: Parchment paper can be purchased at any grocery store. I noticed that Costco carried it last time I was there. One recipe said you could just grease the pan, but be vigilant during baking so the cookies don’t burn.
This dish hails originally from Martha and I pretty much make it like she says, but don’t worry so much about the proportions. If I think it needs more tomatoes, I add a few. Likewise with the olives. This goes together quickly and is good for a crowd. Once I served it to over 50 people, and they all liked it (although I did see a few olives left on plates–guess they didn’t like those).
Cook’s Note: Like I’ve said before, I think the chicken breasts these days are beyond one person’s serving size, so I “fillet” them into thirds by slicing them on the diagonal, with the blade closer to horizontal than vertical.
This is the yield from two chicken breasts. While the recipe originally called for 4 chicken breasts, I find that by filleting the chicken and leaving the amounts of the vegetable mixture the same, this will feed four nicely.
2 cups grape tomatoes (1 pint) *I like to cut some of mine in half, the long-way. I have used Roma tomatoes cut into large thumb-sized chunks and that works just fine too. Different flavor, though.*
16 Kalamata olives, pitted and drained *The ones from the grocery store are bigger than the ones from Trader Joe’s, so use 20-25 of the Trader Joe’s olives.*
3 Tablespoons drained capers
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (although Martha calls for chicken breasts with skin)
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Toss tomatoes, olives, capers and 2 Tablespoons oil together in a medium bowl.
Rinse chicken and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over high hot until hot. Add 1 Tablespoon oil and heat until hot, but not smoking. Place chicken in skillet; cook until golden brown, then turn chicken over to sear the backside briefly.
Place chicken in oven-proof baker. Add tomato mixture all around. Roast until chicken is cooked through and tomatoes have softened, about 18 minutes.
Note: Martha says to use an oven-proof skillet, then you can just add the tomato mixture to the pan and pop that in the oven. Now you have options.
It’s baking time again, not only because I’m completely thrashed from grading papers and need a break, but also because this Sunday I teach the women in my church. The lesson is on Faith and we have a saying that Faith is like a seed (that needs to be nourished and fed). And there’s also that connection between faith and mustard seed which we all know about, but I wasn’t going to make mustard. So poppyseed it had to be. I got the base recipe from a Cooks Illustrated book, but sometimes they can over-analyze a recipe, so I tried to be easy with this one, and just enjoy the making of it. My changes are incorporated into the recipe below.
How much flour you use may be a bit of a guesstimate. The dough should be soft, but not sticky. The overall yield was about 54 cookies, but those first warm ones go fast. This is a light, delicately flavored cookie.
1 pound butter, or 4 sticks, softened by sitting them out on the counter (resist the temptation to use margarine!) If you microwave the butter, it may get too runny, so be careful.
2 cups white sugar
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon lemon rind (one medium lemon)
4-5 cups flour (I used all five)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup sugar for outside of cookies
Prepare your oven by adjusting the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions, then preheating your oven to 375 degrees. Prepare the sheets by lining them with parchment paper (now sold at Costco!).
Cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed, scraping as needed, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the eggs, extract, lemon juice, lemon rind. Beat at medium speed until well combined, less than a minute.
Stir together the 4 cups flour, salt, baking powder and poppyseeds. Add to creamed mixture and mix until just blended together. A light hand will yield a tender cookie. Test for stickiness. I ended up adding about another 3/4-1 cup flour. You don’t want them so stiff they turn out to be cardboard, but you do have to shape them for baking.
Place the 1/2 cup sugar in a large bag. Using a 1 1/2″ cookie scoop, scrape them out of the bowl and dump into the bag of sugar. Shake gently, then reach in and with your hand, shake the extra sugar off and put the rounded mounds onto the parchment-covered cookie sheet. (They say that if you don’t have parchment, you can use a nonstick cooking spray, but be aware that the bottoms of your cookies will be darker.)
Using one of those papers from your butter cube, butter up the bottom of a drinking glass that’s about 2″ across, then dip the glass into the sugar.
Flatten the cookies just until they reach the edge of the glass. (They will be about 5/8″ thick.)
Bake for 16 minutes, switching the cookie sheets mid-way through baking, as well as turning them around, so the cookies bake evenly.
Bake until the edges are golden brown and the middles are just set and very lightly colored. The range the book gave was 15-18 minutes, but 16 was about right for us.
If you are using parchment paper, slide the entire sheet — cookies and all — onto a wire rack for cooking. If you are not using parchment paper, let them cool on the sheets for about 3 minutes, then move them to the wire rack.
Note: the original recipe called for 2 Tablespoons poppyseed, so if you really like it, you can add some more. I was happy with the amount we had.
These are best made if a couple of grandchildren can be around to help you douse the balls of dough with some cinnamon-sugar and put them on the cookie sheet. Barring that, you can always place the cinnamon-sugar mixture in a bag, drop the balls of dough in that way, then put them on the cookie sheet. Shown here is a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. If you don’t have that, just lightly grease the pan for the first batch, then keep cooking along.
from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion book
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups sugar
scant 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
In a mixer bowl cream together the shortening, butter, sugar, vanilla and baking powder, beating until smooth. Add the eggs, again beating until smooth. Add the nutmeg, salt and flour (mixed together), scraping the bowl occasionally.
Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl (or a large plastic bag).
Roll the dough (about 1 Tbls each cookie for regular size, double that for larger cookies) into balls, then roll it in the cinnamon-sugar (or toss it lightly in the bag, very gently). Place on prepared cookie sheets and bake for 8 minutes (10 minutes for the large), or until golden brown around the edges. Cool on rack and store in air-tight containers.
I was casting around for a buttermilk roll recipe, as I had to do a luncheon for seventy people and I wanted to order the local bakery’s buttermilk rolls, but alas, the tight budget prevented that option. This one did the trick, as it has a good “heft” and bite to it, as well as that slightly tangy taste that buttermilk gives. I’d make it as written once, then if you wanted to cut that flavor, I suppose you could up the sugar by a tablespoon or two, but you’re on your own for that variation. This one is a little odd because it calls for yeast AND baking powder AND baking soda, but I suppose the soda’s there as a companion to the buttermilk; I always see them together in my recipes.
Can I remember where I found this? Nope–one of the mindless tired nights trolling the web, but there aren’t too many buttermilk rolls out there that you’d want to make. This one has the notation that “they got it from their neighbor” and “it doubles and triples well,” but my mixer could only handle the single version (I know because I tried the double. Don’t do that at home) but after I figured out the logistics, I was on my way. If you measure the dough (see below), each batch makes about 18 rolls. As breads go, this one’s an easy one.
One last thing. Don’t use the bread machine yeast as it has dough conditioners in it. In my experience (strictly anecdotal) I think it makes the bread go stale faster. Try for the regular kind. (Sorry about the blurry picture.)
2 cups buttermilk (100-110 degrees F)
2-3 packages dry yeast, or about 2 1/3 Tablespoons dry yeast granules
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 – 6 cups flour (I used the full six cups of flour)
shortening, for baking sheets
cornmeal, for baking sheets
In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a heavy duty mixer, dissolve yeast and sugar in warmed buttermilk. Add 1 cup flour, and beat until smooth. Allow to set for 5-10 minutes, until mixture starts to foam and bubble. Add salt, baking soda, baking powder, and olive oil.
Stir to dissolve, and add 3 more cups flour, 1 cup at a time, and mix until smooth. If using mixer, replace paddle beater with dough hook.
Add fifth cup flour, 1/4 cup at a time, while kneading; dough will still be rather sticky.
Add sixth cup flour, 1-2 Tbsp at a time, while kneading dough, until dough is no longer too sticky. I used nearly the full amount of 6 cups flour.
If using mixer, dough will begin to form a ball around the dough hook. If kneading by hand, dough will no longer stick to bowl and hands too much, though it may still be slightly sticky. Use more or less flour as necessary to reach this state. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to oil top of the dough. Cover, and let rise in a warm place, 80-90º F, until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.
Punch down dough, and knead by hand for about a minute to incorporate surface oil.
Here’s where the measuring comes in. Divide dough into one-ounce pieces, about the size of a large walnut, for small rolls, or two ounce pieces, a little larger than a golf ball, for normal size rolls. I used a scale and made 2 1/2 ounce pieces, which yields about a 3″ diameter roll–a good sandwich size.
Shape pieces by hand into smooth balls, as shown above, by pulling the dough around to the underneath. Then roll them around underneath your hand on the counter. The resistance of that surface is needed. Alternatively you could use a glass-topped stove, or a large smooth cutting board, but no flour. Apply some slight pressure downward as you roll the ball under your hand. When you feel it kind of come together, stiffen up (my husband said they felt “cold” in his hand) and when turned over there is a little dimple, they are ready. Check out the video, above. I figure it’s about 20-25 circles of the hand that does it. No need to count–figure out what it “feels like” and go for that.
Place about one inch apart on greased cookie sheets that have been sprinkled with cornmeal.
Brush the rolls with cold water, or mist them using a spray bottle. I forgot this step once, and the world didn’t end.
Rising rolls, covered with the souvenir dishtowel from Zabar’s in New York City
Let rolls rise in a warm (80 degrees F+), draft-free place for 30-45 minutes, until doubled in volume. A good place to do this is your oven: if the oven has a pilot light, just place the baking sheets in the oven. If you have an electric oven or one with an electric ignitor instead of a pilot light, turn on the oven for 45-60 seconds, and turn it off before placing the baking sheets in the oven.
Remove the baking sheets from the oven, and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake rolls for 16-18 minutes, checking after 16 minutes, until a medium, golden brown.
Remove rolls from baking sheets, serve immediately, or cool to room temperature on wire racks if you plan to freeze them. If you are going to freeze them, place cooled rolls in plastic freezer bags, preferably double bagging them.
To reheat, thaw for about a half hour, and heat in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.
This recipe makes about 60 mini-rolls or 30 large rolls, or 18 even-larger (2 1/2 ounce) rolls. Here’s the little sandwich we made for the luncheon, using 1 1/2 ounces of lunchmeat (or about 3 pieces of thinly-sliced Hillshire Farms pieces of turkey). Since we were making these a week ahead, we slipped them into ziploc sandwich bags, then into larger bags.
Serving Size: 1 (1223 gram–I think this must be the smallest roll; I didn’t check)
Servings Per Recipe: 1
Calories from Fat 15 — 15% Daily Value
Sugars 1.6 g
Total Carbohydrate 17.7g — 5%
On our regular Friday night date, we went to California Pizza Kitchen to share a salad and a mushroom pizza, our usual. But CPK had a new salad on the menu, and I came right home and tried to duplicate it, with a couple of twists. Since I didn’t measure too many of the ingredients, a lot of this is sort of “throw a little of this in, then throw a little of that.” If you want the original, head to CPK, but this is a good approximation.
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
Cook the quinoa in the water, according to package directions. Rinse under cool water, then drain. Alternatively, you could cook the quinoa ahead of time, then chill it before use. It also freezes very well. [Check other salads on this site for more detailed directions on how to cook quinoa.]
Place the quinoa in the bottom of a large sloping bowl, suitable for tossing a salad. Douse the quinoa with some dressing: you can use any vinaigrette from this site, or any purchased light vinaigrette would do. For this salad I used Brianna’s Real French Vinaigrette and added a splash or two of red wine vinegar, as I think the ratio of vinegar to oil is a bit too low in many commercial dressings. I buy both of those things at Ralph’s.
To the bowl, add the following:
About 2-3 cups baby greens, loosely chopped
1 large tomato or three medium on-the-vine tomatoes (from Costco), chopped
1/2 small jar of sun-dried tomatoes (about 2 ounces, from Trader Joe’s. The variety I chose were already cut into strips so I just threw them in.)
1-2 ounces (about a handful) of toasted pine nuts (also from Trader Joe’s. You can buy regular pine nuts, then toast them slightly either under the broiler and a watchful eye, or tossing them lightly in a non-stick skillet)
2 ounces feta cheese–I buy mine in a brick (keeps fresh longer) lop off about an inch worth and crumble it by hand
Chopped red onion. I cut off 2 slices for a large salad, each slice about 1/4″ thick. Then I chop those slices into a medium dice, of about 1/4″
Then I tossed everything lightly. Check for the salt/pepper balance. I found it needed quite a bit more salt than pepper. Since I always like to heighten the flavors a bit on grain salads, I used a light shake of cayenne powder, then tossed really well. My cayenne is on the old side, so I use two light shakes. To make sure I know how much is going in, I “shake” it into the lid, check (that I haven’t dumped half the bottle in), then sprinkle it over the salad. Serve with a La Brea baguette, or some other fine piece of bread.
I think you could add some deboned rotisserie chicken to this, if you want to move it beyond vegetarian. I always have some chicken in the freezer, ready to go, but it’s really a fine salad by itself.
This is my recipe blog. I am Elizabeth, someone who likes to cook and wants to share her tips, tricks and good eats with friends and family. I have cooked for my family for years (three meals a day, for multiple years) and now cook for my husband and for enjoyment.
In the childhood memories of every good cook, there's a large kitchen, a warm stove, a simmering pot and a mom.
~ Barbara Costikyan