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Home Cookin' (February 6, 2003)

Home cooking. We think weeknight dinners, comfort food in a comfortable setting. It's home. It's family, friends, over for a small but rewarding meal. Sure, hard-edged gourmet is fabulous, but really... wouldn't you rather have a simple, beautifully cooked dish most of the time? We would, and while it sounds easy, it's a challenge not to get stale with the same old friends, meat and two veg with dessert.

Three great women cooks have produced three amazing cookbooks just in time to rescue you from leftover meatloaf again, and their talent elevates home cooking to new levels without adding fuss or unnecessary bother.

Sara Moulton is not only a television celebrity and chef, star of the food Network's Cooking Live and Sara's Secrets, but also a working mom with picky kids. Her new book, Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, is bursting with recipes for every meal, from breakfast through to dinner, and every course from hors d'oeuvres to dessert and on... and many of these are child-friendly as well!

Ina Garten, a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa, left her high-powered White House job in 1978 to pursue her dream of operating a specialty food store in New York's fabled Hamptons. It was of course a smash hit, and, it follows, so are her readable, wonderful cookbooks. Garten's latest, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, is her most enticing yet; it's a personal collection of favourite dishes for everyday cooking!

We love Toronto's Lucy Waverman; she's a fabulous cook, writes great food columns with wonderful recipes and also happens to be a really lovely person! Lucy also produces amazing cookbooks on a regular basis, and her latest is just what the food doctor ordered to perk up weeknight dinners at home. Waverman prides herself on fresh tastes and quick, foolproof techniques for really easy home cooking, and it's all there in her Home for Dinner.

Hey, forget the reservations tonight... we're staying home!

On today's menu:

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (72 KB)


Pasta Pizza

Well, what would you expect from the Executive Chef for Gourmet Magazine and Food Editor for Good Morning America? Great, interesting and fun food, and this dish is just the ticket. Sara Moulton learned about this recipe from a test cook in Gourmet's kitchen and loves its ridiculous simplicity. Grown-ups love it and, best of all, the kids think it great, even when you pile it high with vegetables! From Sara Moulton Cooks at Home.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer

  • ¼ lb capellini (125 g)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (15 mL)
  • ½ small green bell pepper, sliced into thin rings
  • ½ cup tomato sauce (125 mL)
  • ¼ pound Italian Fontina cheese, thinly sliced (125 g)
  • 2 ounces proscuitto, thinly sliced (60 g)
  • Fresh basil sprigs for garnish

Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. Add the capellini and cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain well. Heat the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the bell pepper and cook 30 seconds per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the capellini to the skillet, distributing evenly and pressing down hard. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, until the bottom is golden, about 25 minutes. Invert the "crust" and cook the other side, covered, for 10 minutes longer.

Spread the tomato sauce over the "crust," leaving a ½-inch border. Arrange the Fontina on top, overlapping the slices, and top with the bell pepper rings and proscuitto. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and garnish with the basil sprigs.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
In keeping with the spirit of budget-minded fare, choose an inexpensive wine: for this dish, a medium-bodied dry red with good acidity (to cope with the tomatoes) – Chianti, Valpolicella, Beaujolais or Ontario Gamay.


Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

Ina Garten told us that Italians often eat their vegetables as "antipasti," that is, before the main course. She goes on to say, "This is a very easy first course that I sometimes serve in the classic Italian way, topped with a singe flared egg." We'd settle for any way the Barefoot Contessa wants to serve it! Recipe from Barefoot Contessa Family Style.

  • 2½ pounds fresh asparagus (about 30 large)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (25 mL)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt (2 mL)
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper (1 mL)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (125 mL)
  • 2 lemons cut in wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

If the stalks of the asparagus are thick, peel the bottom half of each. Lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and return to the oven for another minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
This dish cries out for Sauvignon Blanc – a medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire (Quincy, Menetou-Salon), New Zealand or Pays d'Oc.


Chocolate Trifle

Oh. Lucy... is it your Scottish heritage that produced this sinful version of what we all love as "the inevitable English dessert"? Talk about gilding the lily, darling, this desert is to die for, and oh heavens, it's soooo easy. Serves 8, but you won't see any left after a dinner for four or certainly six! From Home for Dinner, and we add... dessert too!

Serves 8. Oh sure...

  • 1 plain chocolate cake
  • 2 oranges, peeled and separated into segments
  • ½ cup orange liqueur (125 mL)
  • 1½ cups whipping cream (375 mL)
  • 8 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped (250 g)
  • Candied orange rind

Slice cake ¾ inch thick and cut out 8 rounds using 3-inch cookie cutter. Fit each round into individual glass bowl.

Place a few orange segments on each piece of cake. Pour 1 Tbsp (15 mL) liqueur over each serving and let soak for 1 hour.

Bring cream to boil in small pot. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Remove from refrigerator and whisk until cream holds soft peaks.

Spoon white chocolate whipped cream onto oranges, completely covering them. Garnish with candied orange rind.

Candied Orange Rind

Combine ½ cup (125 mL) water and ½ cup granulated sugar in small pot. Boil for 3 minutes or until slightly syrupy. Add slivered rind of 1 orange (do not include white pith) and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until translucent. Lift out rind with slotted spoon and dry on parchment paper.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos or 10 Year Old Tawny Port or a demi-sec champagne.


We wish to thank the following for permission to publish material and photographs:

Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc., for Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, ©2002 by Sara Moulton. Photography by Elizabeth Watt.

Clarkson N. Potter, Random House Inc. for Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style. ©2002 by Ina Garten. Photography by Maura McEvoy, ©2002 by Maura McEvoy.

Random House Canada, Limited for Home for Dinner, by Lucy Waverman. ©2002 by Lucy Waverman. Photograph by Colin Faulkner.


Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (72 KB)




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