The Food That Sings

Nana’s Spaghetti July 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jlcouch @ 12:18 am

Nana's SpaghettiThis is a family favorite that I’ve brought into my home courtesy of my grandmother Audrey Dempsey.  Where she got it from we don’t quite know, but I like to think that some Italian friend secretly passed it on to her straight from her vault of authentic family recipes.  What makes this recipe so special is that it is a true Bolognese sauce that has a deep and rich beef flavor.  You’ll see that there is only very little tomato in the sauce. Leave it to simmer on the stove to really build its deep flavors.


For the paste:

1 green pepper

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

The vegetable paste in the food processor

1 stalk of celery

1 large carrot, peeled

For the sauce:

1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1lb of ground sirloin

1 8oz can of tomato sauce

4 bouillon cubes

1/2 cup red wine


1.  Chop all vegetables and add to the food processor.  Process all of the vegetables until they have formed a paste.

2.  Over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Saute vegetable paste until cooked through.  Approximately 10 minutes.

3.  Add sirloin. Use the back of your spatula to break up the sirloin. Cook through until there is no more pink.  Approximately 10 minutes.  Meanwhile dissolve the bouillon cubes in water (according to package directions).

4. Add tomato sauce, bouillon cubes, and red wine.  Bring to a boil and then let it simmer for about 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serve over spaghetti with freshly grated Parmesean cheese.


Roasted Cauliflower with Indian-Spiced Barbeque Sauce May 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alisonfsu @ 3:42 pm
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I have been trying to eat more vegetables. When I stroll up and down the vegetable aisle, I rarely select cauliflower because I think that it has very little taste. Well, with a little roasting and tangy “barbeque” sauce, my cauliflower was transformed. I was impressed with how much flavor roasting the cauliflower brought out, and was scraping the plate for every last bite. The cauliflower has a slightly burned look on the top of the florets after cooking, but they do not taste burned and provide a crunchy treat. I hope that you too will give cauliflower a chance!

Roasted Cauliflower with Indian-Spiced Barbeque Sauce

Adapted from Bon Apetit


1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 2-pound head of cauliflower, cored and cut into  1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Roasted cauliflower

1/2 cup of ketchup

1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar


Preheat the oven to 400. Toast ground cumin in a small skillet over medium heat until it begins to smoke and is darker in color, about 2 minutes. Set aside. Toss the cauliflower and 1 tablespoon oil in a large bowl. Transfer the cauliflower to a medium baking sheet. Roast until tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

While the cauliflower is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add ginger and garlic; saute until fragrant, approximately 3 minutes. Add ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, and toasted cumin. Bring mixture to a boil, slowly whisking to blend. Reduce heat to low and simmer.

Remove cauliflower from oven and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with enough barbeque sauce to coat, approximately 2-4 spoonfuls. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 side-dish servings with extra barbeque sauce


Coffee Rubbed Grilled Cheeseburgers May 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alisonfsu @ 1:25 am
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Everyone can make a tasty burger, but I was looking for a rub that would take it to the next level. This coffee rubbed burger is incredible! The spice mixture carmelizes and produces a sweet and spicy coating that locks in the juice. My husband grilled up 4 perfect burgers and we had to resist eating all of them! The spice rub makes enough for another meal, I think that I am going to try it on chicken breasts. The six ingredient spice rub is easily found in your pantry and will produce a burger you can entertain with!

Coffee Rubbed Grilled Cheeseburgers

Adapted from Bon Apetit

Ready to eat!

Coffee Spice Rub
1 tablespoon freshly ground coffee (I used Dunkin’ Dark)
2 teaspoons brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


1 pound lean ground beef
4 slices of aged cheddar
1/2 Vidalia onion, cut into thick slices

For spice rub:

Mix all ingredients into a small bowl. Store left over spice mix in an airtight container at room temperature.

For burgers:

Form the meat into 4 patties. Using thumb, make a slight indentation in the center of each burger. Coat both sides of the burger with the dry rub. Place Vidalia onions in an aluminum pouch on the grill seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill burgers over medium-high heat until desired temperature. Add the cheese to each burger before taking them off of the grill.

Dress the burgers with selected condiments and onions. Enjoy!


Grilled Lemon Chicken with Mediterranean Tapenade April 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alisonfsu @ 12:13 am
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Warm weather = grilling in our house! Since bathing suit season is around the corner, I wanted to find some healthy recipes that do not sacrifice flavor. I made the tapenade recipe and used the sauce for two grilled chicken breasts, even though the recipe is originally written for four. If you are looking for a light and tasty grilled weeknight meal, this is the one for you! Enjoy!

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Mediterranean Tapenade
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Tapenade waiting for the chicken.

1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup pitted kalmata olives, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of red onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup of crumbled feta
A splash of olive oil
2 pinches of dried oregano
Fresh lemon
Salt and pepper

2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Mix the tomatoes, olives, onions, feta, balsamic, olive oil, and oregano, in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and allow to rest. Prepare the grill to medium-high heat. Brush chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a healthy squeeze of lemon juice on both sides. Grill chicken until cooked through, approximately 7 minutes per side.

The final dish- really tasty!

Top chicken breasts with the tapenade and serve.


BBQ Beef Stir-Fry April 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jlcouch @ 11:34 pm
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It’s stir-fry night at the Couch residence.  Once again I have been influenced by the media.  Last week’s Jamie Oliver’s Revolution featured his attempt to teach 1000 residents of Huntington, West Virginia to make a beef stir fry, and after watching person after person make and eat this, I decided to explore my own stir-fry recipes.  I am not always a fan of Sandra Lee from food network, but this hoisin sauce recipe was delicious and simple to make.  No more hoisin out of the jar!

Ingredients (serves 4)

Adapted from Sandra Lee (food network)

BBQ Beef Stir-Fry with Lo Mein Noodles

1 (1 1/2-pound) beef chuck (or sirloin) steak, sliced into thin strips

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 carrots, sliced about 1/4-inch thick

2 stalks celery, sliced about 1/4-inch thick

1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced

8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger root

1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic

1 head broccoli, cut into florets

1 (16-ounce) package lo mein noodles, cooked according to package directions

Hoisin Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon chopped ginger

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Stir-Fry: In a wok or large skillet over high heat add the canola oil. Add the beef and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Set aside on a plate. Cook lo mein noodles according to directions on box (approximately 3-4 minutes in boiling water)

To the same pan the beef was cooked in, add the carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, and broccoli and stir-fry until slightly tender but not soft, about 3 minutes. Add the beef back to the skillet along with half of the hoisin sauce (you’ll want to start with 1/2 and then add according to taste preference), and toss to coat the beef. Hoisin Sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk all the sauce ingredients until well blended.

Arrange the lo mein noodles on a serving platter and top with the beef stir-fry. Sprinkle a bit more hoisin sauce on the top of the dish.

Notes:  The single best ingredient to add fresh to an Asian dish is the simplest – ginger.  It is so easy to peel and grate, it stores well in your fridge or freezer, and it ads an entirely different dimension to the flavor when it is grated fresh rather than out of a jar.  You’ll be surprised how often you will use it.  I use it in everything from stir-fry’s to martinis.


Sole Meuniere April 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jlcouch @ 11:13 pm
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I love french food.  I mean, who doesn’t?  All that deliciousness!  All that butter!  I decided to take on the classic sole meuniere because nothing says spring more (in my mind) than fish.  This recipe was surprisingly simple and with the exception of the sole, all of the ingredients were in my pantry/fridge.  I will definitely be making this more often!

Classic Sole Meuniere

From Bon Apetit, April 2010

Classic Sole Meuniere

*2 servings


1/2 cup of all purpose flour

4 sole fillets (each about 3-4 ounces)

coarse kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter


1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

2 tablespoons chopped fresh italian parsley

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

lemon wedges


Place flour in pie dish.  Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt and pepper.  Dredge fish on both sides with flour; shake off excess. Place on platter.

Heat oil in large skilled over medium high heat until oil is hot and shimmers.  Add butter; quickly swirl skillet to coat.  When foam subsides, add fish and cook until golden on bottom, 2 to 3 minutes.  Carefully turn fish over and cook until opaque in center and golden on bottom, 2-3 minutes.  Divide fish between 2 warmed plates,tent with foil.  Pour off drippings from skillet; wipe clean with paper towels.


Place skillet over medium-high heat.  Add butter, cook until golden, 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in parsley and lemon juice.  Spoon sauce over fish.  Serve with lemon wedges.

* Served here with couscous and spring peas.


Caponata with Yellow Squash and Zucchini April 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jlcouch @ 1:04 am

I love recipes where you can eat it a number of ways.  This really works well for the various taste preferences in my house.  Recently I was watching the food network and saw Giada make a “caponata panini” with eggplant.  I decided to give it a try with what I had in my refrigerator:  zucchini, green peppers, and squash.  It makes a slightly sweet and delicious sauce that you can eat on pasta, over rice, or between two slices of french bread pressed.  My personal favorite was the latter.


Adapted from Giada’s recipe for Caponata Panini


Simmering Caponata

1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 yellow squash, cut into ½-inch cubes

1 red (or green) bell pepper, cored seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices

3 tablespoons raisins

1/2 teaspoon dried oreganoCaponata with Yellow Squash and Zucchini.  Try it on a panini!

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon drained capers

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the celery and squash and zucchini and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, raisins, and oregano to the pan. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, sugar, capers, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Season, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve over pasta, rice, on a hoagie, or between French bread slices (pressed like a Panini with cheese).