Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Day-Black-Eyed Peas and Gluten Free Jalapeno Corn Bread

Simply Delicious!
RINGING IN 2012 with Black-Eyed Peas is known to bring you an abundance of Good Luck for the new year.  Whether you believe this or not, it is definitely a great meal on a cold winter's evening. An article I read a few years ago from the Boston University paper from the school of Theology stated; "Eat poor on New Year's and eat fat the rest of the year."  From good luck to prosperity! Hmm?  It sounds promising.

Tapping into some Southern roots with this dish is a sure way to satisfy all your taste buds.  I have no Southern roots myself, but I suppose, if you're born anywhere near the South, you may just have some memories of a delicious dish with Black-Eye Peas.  I do remember my Nana (surrogate mother, Mima), who had African/Cuban roots herself, and she made a delicious pot of black-eyed peas during the holidays with a Caribbean flair.  I wish I would have taken the time to write down her recipe, but the memories of her delicious dish, are fond memories and my taste buds still remember the delicious flavors from her black-eyed peas dish. 

I looked up several recipes for Black-Eyed Peas, and the most popular one that I found is named "Hoppin' John.  I'm not sure of the history behind this name, but I'm sure you can find something on the Internet that may describe the origins behind it.  I found this link to be interesting and glad to read that it was originated in West Africa where my Nana's ancestors were from. It makes me feel connected to her, and all the good times we had together when she was alive.  Life is Good with such great memories!'_John

This is not an authentic recipe as I adapted several variations to suit my style of cooking.  Enjoy!

Five ingredients and 5 simple steps
A pot of Black-Eyed Peas; Delicious!

Hoppin' John and Sadie -Black-Eyed Peas with Rice and Corn Bread Recipes

Note: all ingredients are best when organic

Bean Recipe

1 pound black-eyed peas (dry)
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, whole with paper removed
2 bay leaves
2 ham hocks with meat (ask your butcher for smoked ham hock)
8 cups of water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350*F

  1. Rinse beans several times and discard water (about 4-5 times).  No need to soak beans overnight.
  2. In a Ceramic Bean Pot or a Dutch oven; heat olive oil and saute onions until translucent; add garlic, bay leaves, ham hocks, beans and water.  Bring to a boil.
  3. Cover pot with a lid or foil, and place in oven for 3 hours. Remove from oven and set aside to slightly cool.
  4. When beans are slightly cooled; in a colander, drain beans.  Reserve bean/ham stock.
  5. Remove the ham hock and shred the meat.  Add meat to drained beans; keep warm and set aside.
While beans are in the oven: you can prepare the rice and corn bread

Brown Rice Recipe

1 1/2 cups of organic brown rice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 vine riped tomatoes (organic), chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt (add more to taste; I cook with low salt)
1 tablespoon Cajun Creole Seasoning (if you prefer less spicy, add 1 teaspoon, and be sure you buy salt free, organic spices)
1 teaspoon Hungarian Paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

  1. Wash rice thoroughly, until water is clear.  Cook rice in rice-cooker, if you own one.  *Cooking rice on stove top: Add 3 cups of water in a pot; add rice, and bring to a boil.  Cover pot, and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook about 10 -15 minutes, until rice is tender. 
  2. In skillet, on medium heat; add olive oil, red bell pepper and saute until onion and bell pepper are tender.  Add chopped tomatoes and remaining spice ingredients.  Cook on low heat until tomatoes are tender. Do not overcook as you want to keep some of the tomato juices for the rice and beans. 
  3. Taste for seasoning; at this point, you can add more spices or salt to satisfy your taste buds.
  4. Carefully add cooked rice to tomato sauce; spoon in 1/2 cup of the reserved bean/ham stock, and carefully stir rice into tomato sauce.  Gently add the beans and toss until rice and beans are completely married.
Serve with Jalapeno Corn Bread
Jalapeno Corn Bread

Sadie's Gluten Free-Corn Bread Recipe

1 cup organic corn meal (Bob's Red Mill is my preference)
1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (Thomas Keller's "Cup4Cup" brand is my preference)
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon gluten-free baking powder (be sure to buy sodium free, gluten free and aluminum free baking powder for all your baking needs)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 egg
1/4 cup jalapenos, chopped

Preheat oven to 400*F
  1. Combine all dry ingredients, and sift (you can sift ingredients with a wire whisk).
  2. Whisk milk, olive oil and egg.  Add chopped jalapenos and stir.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until blended (do not over stir).
  4. Spray medium size Cast Iron pan with oil or a Pyrex pie pan; add corn bread mixture and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown

Happy New Year's and all the Best to Everyone in 2012! 

Eat organic, eat local sustainable foods; support your community!

Buon Appetito!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tilapia with a Sweet Onion, Tomatoes and Tarragon Salsa

Tilapia is not a common fish that I would go out and buy to cook; as it is mostly farm raised and I prefer wild fish.  However, one of the chefs I was speaking to earlier this morning, was talking about the Tilapia Fish Tacos he had made last week and it was absolutely delicious, low in fat and very tasty.  So, I did a bit of research on Tilapia and this is one of the facts I found out about Tilapia that got me to the Market today, to buy some for dinner tonight: 

"Tilapia have very low levels of mercury, as they are fast-growing and short-lived, with a primarily herbivorous diet, so do not accumulate mercury found in prey. Tilapia is a low saturated fat, low calorie, low carbohydrate and low sodium protein source. It is a source of phosphorus, niacin, selenium, vitamin B12 and potassium."

Perfect.  Low in saturated fat, low carbohydrate and vitamin B12, just what I was looking for in a meal.  Now, let me just start adding ingredients to it to make it tasty and still keep it low in saturated fat.

Let the chef in the kitchen, apron on, hair in ponytail, heels on and ready to cook:
Baked Tilapia ready to serve!


1 pound Tilapia
3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1 medium sized organic sweet onion, chopped
1 medium sized organic tomato, seeded and chopped
1 Bay leaf
2-3 tablespoons fresh Tarragon, chopped (I add 3 tbsp, as I love the flavor of tarragon)
2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dry basil
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 lemon
3 tablespoons of capers
Salt and pepper (white pepper) to taste

Fish should be refrigerated until ready to cook.
  1. In medium skillet pan, heat oil on medium low heat; add onions and cook until onions are translucent. 
  2. Add chopped tomatoes to cooked onions with bay leaf, tarragon, basil, minced garlic clove and red chili flakes; cook for about 5 minutes while stirring. Add a little bit of salt and white pepper to taste.
  3. Let the mixture of onions, tomatoes and herbs cool completely (this can be made ahead and refrigerated; until ready to use). Squeeze 1/2 lemon juice and stir well.
  4. Preheat oven to 375*F
  5. Rinse Tilapia in cold water and pat dry with paper towel.
  6. Add some EVOO (1 tablespoon, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan) to a baking pan and place Tilapia on baking pan.
  7. Spoon cooled onion and tomato mixture on top of Tilapia and add capers on top of each fillet. Be sure you remove bay leaf and discard.
  8. Place in the center of the oven and Bake for 30-35 minutes
Serve this recipe with  1/2 cup of rice medley (brown rice, wild rice and heirloom red rice) and some sliced lemon!

Buon Appetito

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Croque Monsieur

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh baked bread in your home; it is truly blissful!  

I just finished baking Brioche, but not just any brioche; Thomas Keller's brioche, which is found in all his cook books in honor of his friend Jean-Louis Palladin; one of the greatest French chefs that immigrated to the USA in the late 70's.  You can read about Jean-Louis Palladin here 

Croque Monsieur
Bless the French for their incredible culinary cuisines; Croque Monsieur is definitely one of the best ham and cheese sandwiches our family loves.  For years, we have eaten Croque Monsieur or even a Croque Madame (notes on the Madame later) in fine restaurants, but nothing compares to eating this sandwich in France.  Our girls love, love eating Croque Monsieur whenever it is offered on a menu and lucky for them; they've had it in many of our travels such as: France, London, Canada and when we visit my home town of Los Angeles.  When we dine at Bouchon in Beverly Hills and they have it on their menu; we are definitely ordering it. We also loved Croque Monsieur at Anisette Brasserie located in Santa Monica, which sadly closed this year; but it was outstanding and one of our favorite places that made it very similar as our favorite restaurants in France.  In Seattle, well, we have yet to find a great Croque Monsieur we like in a restaurant, but we sure love it at home at the Laurenti Whitley Casa.

For the Brioche recipe; well, I cannot share Thomas Keller's recipe on my blog (it really is Jean-Louis' recipe), but you can purchase any of Thomas Keller's cook books and you are sure to find it in there.  Thomas Keller made sure to have the recipe [printed] in his cook books as it is the best brioche recipe and definitely, the best I've ever tasted.  You can find part of the recipe written without measurements at , but I highly recommend to buy one of his books (for the at-home-cook, buy Ad-Hoc, it's one of his easiest cook books to follow and with ingredients you can find in your local grocery stores.

Sadie's Croque Monsieur Sauce and Sandwich Recipe for 4

Mornay Sauce with Dijon
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup of whole milk
freshly ground nutmeg (dash)
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard "Grey Poupon" is my favorite
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

Making a roux for 4 Croque Monsieur sandwiches.
Melt butter on medium low heat, add flour and stir with whisk for about 4 minutes.  Slowly add milk while whisking; add nutmeg and mustard and continue whisking until roux is almost thick; add cheese and salt; continue to whisk until thick.   Set aside
(If holding sauce for a while, be sure to cover the surface with a plastic wrap so that it does not create a crust on top).

Ingredients for Sandwich
4 slices of a high quality black forest ham
4 slices of a high quality Gruyere
Freshly baked Brioche; cooled and sliced (4 slices for open faced sandwich or 8 slices for sandwiches)
1/2 cup grated Gruyere
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 sheet pan covered with parchment paper

Heat oven on Broil and while it is heating, build the sandwiches

1. Heat a skillet pan (preferably a cast iron skillet)
2. Brush melted butter on outside of bread
3. Build sandwich with a little bit of Mornay Sauce on the inside of your bread, gruyere cheese  and ham; top with second slice of bread. If making an open faced sandwich, do not add second slice of bread on top. Brown sandwich in skillet; carefully turning over to both sides. 
4. When both sides are toasted, place sandwiches on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper (the pan is covered with parchment, not the sandwiches).
5. On the top slice of your bread add Mornay Sauce and top with grated Gruyere. (For open faced sandwich, top with Mornay Sauce and Gruyere on top of the ham).

Broil sandwiches for 1-2 minutes until sauce and cheese begin to bubble and turn slightly golden in color.

Serve with French Fries or serve on its own.

Wait, did you think I forgot about Madame?  No, I did not.  Croque Madame is the recipe above, but with a fried egg to complete the top of the sandwich.  Place the egg on top of your sandwich after the sandwich comes out of the broiler. It's common to have it on an open faced sandwich, but I've seen it served with a full sandwich as well and it is just as delicious!

Bon Appetit

Friday, September 23, 2011

Summer Ends and Autumn Begins... Scalloped Potatoes with Beecher's Cheese

Welcoming Autumn in New England, where the Autumn colors dance in the wind as you drive by with a sigh.  Breathtaking!

Summer was absolutely fun this year with all my travel experiences.  I got to travel this summer to many places, but my most favorite was in Tegucigalpa, Honduras to visit an orphanage (N.P.H., Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos)  and I spent the most amazing time there with babies, children, teenagers, university students, grandparents, special needs kids and adults and all the volunteers that are called out by the name Tia's and Tio's, which is auntie's and uncles in Spanish.  My favorite time there, well, it was all great, but I did enjoy the kitchen of course.  I got to help cook with women that were wholeheartedly dedicated, happy and amazing women.  We cooked fresh corn tortillas daily, chicken soup with vegetables from the garden at the orphanage, beans and rice which are both a staple food in their daily diets and vegetable soups.  Feeding 500 people daily, three times a day, was a lot of work, but the joy in my heart being in a kitchen filled with women that truly enjoy their jobs and helping at the orphanage, was an incredible experience for me.  This is what true "unconditional love" is all about.  Breaking bread, well tortillas, with these women was a blessing daily. 

Another one of my favorite places this summer, was Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. My favorite restaurant there is Allium and Chef Lisa Nakamura, is an incredible chef de cuisine.  It's nice to live in Seattle, where you can do day trips to any of the San Juan Islands, ahh, the joys of the N.W.  Visit Allium at

As Autumn is here and we crave comfort food, our bodies feel the cold breeze coming in and we want a warm and healthy meal. This is a simple and delightful Scalloped Potato served in individual ramekins.

Scalloped Potatoes Sadie's Style

Serves 4 individual ramekins

4  medium red potatoes (1 per person)
1/2 cup grated or crumbled Beecher's cheese (this is a N.W. favorite, but you can substitute with your favorite cheese)
8 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (thyme, rosemary)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375*degrees
Wash and scrub potatoes clean; slice thinly (1/8 inch thick)
Prepare square ramekins (4 3/4” x 3/4”), by coating them with a light layer of butter.

Lay first layer of potatoes in an overlapping pattern in the ramekin dish.  In order, sprinkle salt, pepper and Italian Seasoning on potatoes.  Take about 1 tablespoon of grated cheese and sprinkle on first layer.
Repeat second layer as before.  Add 2 tablespoons of heavy cream to top layer and add leftover cheese on top.
Place ramekins on a sheet pan and bake uncovered for 35 minutes. 

Simple and delicious!

This recipe can be made one day ahead and reheated in the oven for 10 minutes at 400*degrees or in a microwave.  It also freezes well.  Another favorite in my house is the scalloped potato for breakfast.  If I make these the night before and cool them in the refrigerator; in the morning, I scramble 3 eggs with some cream and fill the ramekin until it reaches just below the lip of the ramekin. I place it in the oven for about 10 minutes at 400*degrees and add a little sprinkle of cheese on top to brown.  It's delicious! 

Buon Appetito!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Memorial Day Menu

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service (quoted by ).  We gather with family and friends to celebrate Memorial Day; we share stories of our ancestors that served in the military, share photos, attend parades and gather together and eat.  To enjoy everyone's company on Memorial Day, it is great to have a menu that we can prepare a day or two ahead of time.

Who doesn't love a menu that you can prepare a day or two ahead of your party?  My friend Dawn and her business partner Elizabeth posted a great menu for Memorial Day weekend that you can "Make Ahead"  of your party and on the day of the party, you can relax and enjoy your family and friends!

BBQ Pork Sandwich
photo by Sadie Laurenti Whitley
  For Complete Menu, go to 

Thank you Dawn for giving us permission to post your recipes on our blog.

Happy Memorial Day

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Egg Nests

Egg Nests, or as I have been calling them all morning, "Egg in a basket full of cheese!"  A great Sunday morning breakfast and very simple to make. 

Sometimes you have to be grateful for some downtime; as I have for the last 72 hours with a horrible case of fever, cough (bronchitis) and aches. Why?  Because thanks to our world of technology, we can be on our wireless iPads, computers, phones, Kindle, etc, catching up with news on Twitter, FB and all other Social Network media.  That's exactly what I have been doing in bed for the past 72 hours.  Following my friends on Twitter that attended the "blogher" event and reading recipes.  Such as the one that Simply Recipes posted over the weekend about Egg Nests  Great way to start a Sunday morning when you are ready to head back into the kitchen to cook. 

Egg Nests Ingredients
Organic Farm Eggs, A Fine Cheese & Salt, that's all!

And then, you whip the egg whites
and fold in the cheese!

Ready to bake in a 450*degree oven
Voilà !

  Ready to serve

Egg Nests or as I called them this morning;
 Egg in a basket filled with cheese!
Served it with a slice of Jambon!

This recipe was written from a French Cook Book for Children and Simply Recipes shared it on their site for all of us to enjoy!

Indeed, it was a great way to start a Sunday morning with my family.

Chef Notes:
1. Easy recipe
2. If you select a different cheese than what the original recipe calls for, as I did, be sure you reduce or omit the salt all together.  I chose to use a fine Ewephoria Sheep Milk Gooda (yes, spelled Gooda not Gouda), from one of my favorite Seattle cheese importers; which you can find on-line at   This cheese is considered the "candy" of cheeses, it's got an amazing nutty taste and it is delicious!  I omitted the salt in this recipe, because I knew this "Gooda" was going to give it enough flavor without the salt.
3.  I cooked the eggs in the oven a little longer (3 extra minutes) to get a medium doneness (I don't like runny eggs).  So, in total, I cooked everything for 9 minutes, instead of 6 minutes that the recipe states.

I give this recipe a 5 star!  Thanks to for posting this on Twitter!

Oh,  if you serve this
and the kids, (including your husband),
decides to play with their food;
this is the picture you will end up with!
A very Happy Face!

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fried (not) Italian Chicken in the Oven with Hazelnuts

A guilt free fried chicken and very tasty.  Everyone loves fried chicken once in a while, but with our health conscious society and adopting "healthy options" in our daily nutrition, this recipe is not just delicious, but very satisfying and guilt free.

I learned this recipe many years ago when I was just starting to play in the kitchen in my 20's.  I had several friends from Greece and from the middle east at the time and I learned from them, to use yogurt in savory cooking.  At that time, I had no idea that yogurt could be used for cooking other than for a breakfast item.  I did not grow up eating yogurt at all; as a matter of fact, the first time I ever tried yogurt was in my 20's with my friends and it was not a store purchased yogurt in a container, it was the real thing, made at home by my friends whom had learned these skills from their mothers & grandmothers.    It was beyond delicious!  They served it with fruit at the bottom of the bowl or honey and then yogurt on top.  Nothing else, that was it and it was delicious.  I learned how to make yogurt from my dear friends and then I learned to incorporate it into my savory and sweets.  Have you ever tried a brownie made with yogurt?  It's delicious and very healthy!

Spending time in the kitchen and recreating recipes is one of my passions; it's actually, every chef's passion.  You recreate a dish that is to your liking with your favorite herbs, spices and ingredients.  This recipe is written with Italian spices and with hazelnuts, but you can change it to be a Moroccan fried chicken with Moroccan spices and add walnuts or almonds, an Indian fried chicken with Indian spices, a Greek fried chicken with oregano and served with yogurt Tzatziki sauce or a Mexican fried chicken and serve it with salsa and beans or even better, a Jamaican/Caribbean fried chicken and topping it with a mango salsa!  I've tried all these at home through the years and it is quite delicious, but it is also fun to feed my family different meals by changing the spices and the side dishes.  Create what you like by changing the spices in this recipe and enjoy a different way to eat a healthier and tastier meal without the guilt.  

Fried Italian Chicken Breast in the Oven with Hazelnuts

Leftovers you say?  Oh yes!  Next day for lunch, slice the chicken breast and eat it on a bed of organic greens! 

Salad for lunch


Buon Appetito!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Indian Curry Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs are one of our favorite protein treats at home.  I love that you can play around with spices, herbs and create a new flavor with deviled eggs.  I have made so many different flavors through the years and most recently; creating a Southwestern, Moroccan and Indian flavored deviled eggs. 

When I was in culinary school, we had to create a quick appetizer in 30 minutes and present it to our chef instructor as a two bite appetizer.  The rule was that we had to use whatever was available to us in a "mystery basket".  When the chef instructor started the clock; the first thing that I thought of was making deviled eggs, so I quickly grabbed a few eggs, boiled them and looked around the class "mystery basket" to see what I could find to create a gourmet and different deviled egg.  There was no mayonnaise available and I certainly did not have the time to make my own in just 30 minutes, but I did find a fresh bottle of "school-made" Harissa (a Tunisian hot red pepper sauce), Bells and Whistles went off in my head and I quickly created this delicious tasting deviled egg with Harissa.  It was so tasty and I got a high score on my two bite deviled egg.  Not only did I get a high score and a high five from my instructor, but I was asked to make 300 deviled eggs for a special function at school...Oh yeah, that was the first time working with so many eggs and I was so nervous that they would not turn out as the one that I had made in class in 30 minutes.  Well, I succeeded in creating the same flavor for the 300 deviled eggs and received many praises.  Ever since, I have loved making different flavored eggs and the bonus is, that my family enjoys them as well.  A healthy protein treat for everyone to enjoy!

Indian Curry Deviled Eggs with sprinkled paprika and fresh leaf of oregano
Indian Curry Deviled Eggs

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gateau Basque Recipe made Gluten Free

Gateau Basque is a French dessert with a bit of history.  Gateau (pronounced Ga-toh) in French means cake (s), sweet or savory.  Basque is a region sandwiched between France and Spain; a place well known for gastronomy experience and its beauty. 

This dessert is a cake filled with a vanilla custard and a favorite fruit preserve.  The sponge cake is very similar to a torte, but since it is made with flour and baking powder, it is denser than a cake and not as dense as a torte.  It's a perfect consistency and it is so very delicious!

The original recipe is from Food and Wine website   

I decided to make this dessert gluten-free, so I mixed my favorite flours together (for cakes and cookies) and reduced the amount of sugar to create a perfect and delicious cake.

Gluten-Free flour mixture can be found in this Blog under my recipe "British Christmas Cake"

Chef Notes:  The gluten free flour mixture is more than you need for this recipe.  Keep remainder gluten free mixture in a tin for future use. Also, remember to use a gluten free baking powder; if you decide to bake this gluten free.

Gateau Basque

Cake, Custard and Fruit, Oh my!

The beauty of a cake
Bon Appetit

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sadie's Vegetarian Lasagna

Lasagna is a layered Italian casserole with meats, cheeses, vegetables and sauces.  In Northern Italy, you will most likely be served a lasagna with a white sauce known as Bechamel; it is made with butter, flour and milk with a dash of nutmeg. In the Southern parts of Italy, you will be served a lasagna with a red sauce made out of tomatoes or ragu, which is a tomato and meat sauce. 
I love both sauces and I find them to compliment each other in this recipe. I have made this vegetarian lasagna for years and it is far from traditional; but it is delicious. 
After many years of making this recipe, I finally took it from my head and wrote it on paper.  This recipe will be added to my cook book and I thank my friend Hayven A. for asking me if I had a vegetarian lasagna recipe; which I did, but it was in my head.  So I took the time to write it down and it feels great to have this complete on paper. I'm sure it will run its course of editing, but at least I have it down on paper.  Thank you Hayven for encouraging me to get this done and I hope when you make this recipe that you and your family will like it.

Sadie’s Vegetarian Lasagna
Where North meets South (white sauce and red sauce) in the Laurenti Kitchen

4 tablespoons plus extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
½ cup sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped (reserve olive oil )
4 medium sized zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 whole red onion, diced
4 medium sized carrots, grated
2 portabella mushrooms, diced
1 packet (1oz.) porcini mushrooms, hydrated for 20 minutes, discard water and chop
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces of fresh baby spinach
2 cups ricotta cheese, drained
2 – 3 cups of mozzarella cheese, grated
½ cup parmesan cheese
1-28ounce can of Marinara sauce (I like Trader Joe’s brand)
1 pound lasagna noodles (I use the no cook from Trader Joe’s when I don’t make it myself)
Béchamel sauce  recipe: go to (
Preheat oven 425*F
Place sliced zucchini on a sheet tray (cookie sheet); combine reserved olive oil from dried tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of EVOO and brush both sides of zucchini with oil.  Place sheet tray on top rack and bake for 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Turn zucchini over and bake until golden brown. Roasting the zucchini helps to bring out the sweetness of the zucchini and reducing the amount of moisture in the vegetable.  It also enhances the flavor in the lasagna with its sweetness.  When done, remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Reduce oven temperature to 350*F
In a large sauté pan, over medium heat; saute onions in reserved 2 tablespoons of EVOO, until golden. Add grated carrots, chopped sun dried tomatoes, both types of mushrooms, garlic, herbs, nutmeg, salt and pepper and place lid on sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until carrots are tender (al dente).  Remove lid and cook for another 5 minutes while stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced by 25% (the mushrooms are very moist and when cooked with a lid, it will release some of its moisture). The liquid from the mushrooms will add a rich flavor to the vegetables.  Add salt and pepper to taste again (if needed).  When done, remove from heat and carefully stir in roasted zucchini to the cooked vegetables.  Let cool.
Make Béchamel sauce:  I like Mario Batali’s recipe, it is very similar to mine and very tasty. Go to web site for recipe: 
In a 3 quart (13x9x2) pan, coat bottom of pan with tomato sauce (marinara) to keep pasta from sticking to the bottom of pan.
First layer: pasta, a good coat of tomato sauce, mixed vegetables, a handful of fresh spinach to layer vegetables, dollop ricotta over spinach (using a tablespoon, dollop ricotta every 2-3 inches apart), sprinkle mozzarella.
Second layer: pasta, a good coat of béchamel sauce, mixed vegetables, a handful of fresh spinach to layer vegetables, dollop ricotta over spinach (using a tablespoon, dollop ricotta every 2-3 inches apart), sprinkle mozzarella.
Alternate layers with tomato sauce and béchamel sauce and ending with a little of both on top (be sure to coat top layer of pasta well with sauces) and add mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
Bake for 45 – 55 minutes until bubbly and cheese is golden brown.  Set aside for 15 minutes before serving.
Buon Appetito!
Chef Notes:
Use fresh herbs if they are available, instead of dried herbs. If using fresh herbs, be sure to increase amount using as dried herbs are more potent than fresh herbs.

When I am not making my own tomato sauce and pasta, I like using Trader Joe’s Marinara sauce and their no cook lasagna noodles. Bonus for an easy bake lasagna.
Use a ladle to spoon in tomato sauce and béchamel sauce on each layer instead of a spoon.
I prefer not to steam or cook the spinach before layering this lasagna.  I prefer that the spinach cooks together with the vegetables in the oven, so that it releases its vitamins in the baking process rather than loosing it in the pre-cooking state. If you want to steam or cook your spinach beforehand, you can.
Place a sheet pan underneath the lasagna pan to catch drippings (makes it easier on oven cleaning).
Always be sure that you let your lasagna sit to cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.  This helps all the juices to quiet down and become absorbed by the pasta and ingredients.  Also, so that you don’t serve a saucy and super hot lasagna that will burn your mouth of your guests and family.       


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sadie's Cannellini, Chicken, Swiss Chard and Kale Stew

I love winter soups and stews!  This is a very nutritious, light and perfect winter stew for the family. 

My garden this summer consisted of several different organic vegetables; some of our favorite greens in the garden this year were the Italian Kale and Rainbow Swiss Chard.  Kale is a member of the cabbage family, but it does not grow a head like cabbage, it is a leafy plant, but the flavors are very similar (tastier) than cabbage.  The kale that we grew in our garden this year was a deep green/purple color and a flat leaf, not the curly leaf as found in most grocery stores.  Our kale did survive the winter storm and the cold weather, so I cut the few leaves that were still in the garden for this delicious stew.  Swiss Chard is a member of the beet family and it is a beautiful green leaf with reddish-purple, yellowish veins and stalk.  It is delicious in soups, salads or as a roll stuffed with rice...mmmm, delicious!

Kale and Swiss Chard are very nutritious and known as a great source to have in your diet during the winter as it is high in vitamins A, C, folic acid, calcium and iron; all the wonderful vitamins we need during the winter season. 

This is a very easy stew to make and the prep time took me about 10 minutes.  My family loves these green vegetables and this recipe sure complimented the greens well! 

An excellent winter stew filled with lots of great vitamins!

Cannellini, Chicken, Swiss Chard and Kale Stew

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
1 chicken breast, cut into bite sizes (1 inch)
3-4 leaves of kale, chopped into bite sizes (1 inch)
3-4 leaves of swiss chard, chopped into bite sizes (1 inch)
1 garlic clove, minced
32 ounces of chicken stock (preferably organic)
28 ounces plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded and chopped
2 (15 oz) cans of cannellini or fresh made cannellini (see recipe below for fresh)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon sage
(Chef notes on herbs: I used fresh herbs and used approximately 1-2 tablespoons of each after they were chopped finely)
2-4 tablespoons of tomato paste to thicken stew


Preheat oven to 350*degrees

In an 8 quart oven proof soup pot; on medium low heat, add the olive oil (evoo) and saute the onion until tender.  Add the rest of the ingredients except the tomato paste to the soup pot.  Bring to a boil and return the heat to low.  Stir frequently and adjust flavor of soup with salt or herbs after 15 minutes, to allow the chicken to cook thoroughly. Place the oven proof soup pot with lid in the oven and cook for 45 - 50 minutes.  Return to stove top; on low heat, stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (at a time) until the stew thickens to your liking.  You may not need to add the tomato paste, but we like our stew slightly thick.  Serve with your favorite bread.

Yields 6-8 servings

Chef Notes:  I used a ceramic bean pot to cook this stew and it turned out delicious.  I love using my ceramic pots to cook all sorts of stews in the oven.  If you own one and it is stove top safe as well as oven safe, I would recommend to use it; the flavors turn out tastier.

Cannellini Beans

1 pound dry Cannellini beans
4 fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, whole

Soak beans overnight.  Drain beans and discard water. Place beans, sage, olive oil garlic and 12 cups of water in a soup pot.  Cover with the lid and cook on medium-low heat for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until tender.   When beans are tender, drain the beans and store in the refrigerator until needed for stew or in a salad. 

Chef notes:
This recipe makes more beans than needed for stew.  It is always great to have fresh beans on hand.  If you want to freeze the beans, be sure to keep the liquid they were cooked in and when cooled, place them in a freezer proof container (I use Pyrex) or a ziplock freezer bag with liquid.  If you use a freezer bag, be sure to seal with a little air in the bag, so that there is room for expansion in the freezing process for the liquid.  Place the bag flat in the freezer on a sheet pan, until fully frozen; then remove sheet pan.  Having a sheet pan underneath the bag will collect any liquid if you did not seal it properly.

                       Buon Appetito!

Toad In The Hole

Oh the curious Toad-In-The-Hole British recipe.  Yes, that is right, "Toad in the Hole."    It is very peculiar to me, why this tasty dish would be named toad in the hole, but, leave it to the British to come up with the most humorous names for dishes.  I found several interesting notes on the Internet on this dish and some that I will not write as it is not very appetizing.  It is an 18th century recipe that apparently has a lot of arguable points on the naming and the origin of this dish.  I reckon that this recipe in the 18th century, was a way to stretch a meal by adding batter to the meat, just as Italians in southern Italy would stretch their meals by adding more sauce to the meat and pasta dishes.    It is a very popular and a well known dish amongst the British; it is such a great "Pub" food item along with Bangers and Mash.  In our home, my family truly enjoys toad in the hole as dinner, lunch or even as a breakfast meal and we often have "Bangers and Mash with Heinz Beans" - yes, this is the only can of beans that I will open in my house as it is a MUST according to my husband (no argument there). 

When I prepare Toad-In-The-Hole for my family, I sometimes make them individually in a muffin pan,  so that we can enjoy them for breakfast and lunch.  It's a great idea to have in the refrigerator for an after school treat as well. 

When Jamie's recipe calls for "Quality Sausage", truly, we all mean "Quality Sausage"! and that would be a British version of sausage also knows as "Bangers" which is most delicious. Bangers are white in appearance, and are composed primarily of pork butt, a small amount of breadcrumbs, and water. They are normally pleasantly spiced with both sweet and savory spices. The average banger will have both salt and pepper, as well as sage, ginger and mace or allspice. Spices differ depending upon the brand.

Now, we call the English sausage at home as a "British" banger sausage, but the Irish will probably argue that they are the ones that introduced this version of sausage to the British.  No arguments from me, I'm just glad they exist!
You may be able to find the English sausages (bangers) in your local grocery stores or at a specialty store that sells British groceries.  If you cannot find these sausages, I am sure that whatever your choice of sausage, it will be just fine for this recipe.

I used Jamie Oliver's recipe for Toad-In-The-Hole with this very tasty "Onion Gravy" recipe that accompanies the toad in the hole quite deliciously.  I will direct you to Jamie's web site for the recipe

Whatever the history or the origin of this recipe, I will assure you, that you will really enjoy it.  Hey, here in America, I make these for Superbowl!!  Enjoy Mate!

Toad-In-The-Hole and Onion Gravy

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sadie's Simple Leek Soup

Leek Soup

Holidays are over and you want a break from the starches and creams for the night; here is a recipe you will love.  It's a simple, clean soup without the starches and the cream; an easy recipe that will satisfy all your taste buds.

My family loves leeks; they will eat anything made with leeks.  I read that in the sixteenth century A.D., the Welsh made leeks their national symbol because they were convinced that the leeks they wore on their helmets to distinguish them from their enemies; strengthened them and helped them win wars. True or not, leeks are a gem in my kitchen and any recipe with leek, is a winner!

The fragrance and the flavor of leek is mild compared to its relative: garlic and onion.  If you have never used leeks in your dishes in the past, I would highly recommend cooking a recipe with them and taste for yourself.

I usually make a Potato and Leek soup with a cream base, but today, we wanted something simple, clean and tasty.  I used 4 ingredients to make this recipe, now that is simple!

Sadie's Leek Soup


1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 leeks, sliced
1 32oz organic chicken broth/stock
salt to taste


In a medium soup pot, sweat onion and leeks.
Puree the onions and leeks with 2 cups of chicken broth/stock; in a food processor or use a hand held immersion blender. 

Add the remaining chicken broth/stock to the soup pot with the onion and leeks and heat for about 20 minutes on medium low heat.  Add salt to taste. 

Serves 4 - 6

                                                       Buon Appetito!!