A few months ago, I spent some time doing volunteer work in Kenya through the volunteer agency International Volunteer HQ. I stayed with a Kenyan family and volunteered at an orphanage, Internally Displaced Persons camps, and with the Masai (warrior tribes in Kenya). It was an extremely moving experience. Read more.

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    The Joy of Cooking

    Filed under :Cookbooks, miso soup, Spaghetti, spaghetti pie, Sunday Dinners, The Joy of Cooking
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    Today, in theory, I was cooking for myself.  Chris was away, but with my Sunday free, I still wanted to make a Sunday Dinner.  The past couple of weeks have been really hectic, so I turned to The Joy of Cooking to give me some of that joy back.  I selected Becker Quick Miso Soup (p.125), Johnny Marzetti Spaghetti Pie (p.95), and Baked Figs with Ricotta (p.227).  Of course, my camera chose today to conk out so I only had pics of the miso soup (I start a photography class next month.  Then when these things happen, I’ll give a throaty laugh and magically fix said camera to take the most beautiful pictures ever).  However, two friends decided to pop by, so not only did I have lovely company, but one of them contributed an additional two pictures using his phone.

    The meal was a success, as any with the word “joy” should be, although I preferred the soup and pasta pie to the ricotta recipe.  The Johnny Marzetti pie was “made famous at Marzetti’s restaurant in Columbus, Ohio,” Joy explains.  I added mushrooms and adjusted timings, but otherwise stuck pretty close to the original.

    The miso soup was incredibly salty, probably because they used a broth base instead of water, so I added an additional cup of water to balance.  I’ve written the recipe as per my experiment, but I recommend you recreate it using 2 cups of water instead of 2 cups broth plus 1 cup water.  The soup paired perfectly with my creamy glass of milk, and would be tasty with some small shrimp thrown in.

    With fig season just past, I used delicious, plump Medjool dates instead of the specified figs.  I’m not a huge fan of either the ricotta mixture or the marsala sauce, although they did pair nicely together.  The cheese blend called for equal parts cheese and cream, and I scooped in additional ricotta to thicken the soupiness.

    All recipes adapted from The Joy of Cooking.

    Becker Quick Miso Soup

    2 cups chicken broth

    1.5 tbsps miso/ soybean paste (I used white miso)

    1 cup water (or to taste)

    3- 5 sliced mushrooms, optional

    1 green onion, chopped

    1 thin slice of lemon, to garnish

    (the Beckers also suggest a dash of hot pepper sauce to garnish, as desired)

    soybean paste

    miso/ soybean paste

    Bring the broth to boil.  Stir in miso paste, and add water to taste.  Add sliced mushrooms and green onions.  Continue boiling 1 minute.  Garnish with lemon.

    miso soup with mushrooms

    soup boiling away

    miso soup with mushrooms

    finished miso soup


    Johnny Marzetti Spaghetti Pie

    1 pound ground beef

    1 onion, chopped

    2 cloves garlic, chopped

    salt and pepper

    1 green pepper, chopped

    1 small container mushrooms, chopped

    1 28-oz can tomatoes, with juice

    1 15-oz tomato-based spaghetti sauce

    1 tsp oregano or pizza spice

    1 bay leaf

    1- 2 handfuls whole wheat spaghetti (or other pasta as desired), cooked and drained

    2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded, separated

    1 cup breadcrumbs

    Place ground beef, onion and garlic in large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook, breaking up beef with a spoon, until beef is mostly browned.  Add green pepper and mushrooms, cook 3- 5 minutes, until vegetables have softened.

    Add tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, oregano and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer 25 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  While simmering, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Remove bay leaf.  Stir in spaghetti and 1 cup cheddar cheese, letting cheese melt into beef mixture.  Transfer to 9 x 13″ baking dish.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over top, followed by bread crumbs.  Bake until top is lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

    pasta casserole

    spaghetti pie

    Dates with Ricotta and Marsala Sauce

    1/3 cup sugar plus 3 tsps sugar, separated

    3 tbsps water

    1/2 cup Marsala wine

    20 Medjool dates

    2/3 cup ricotta

    1/3 cup heavy (35%) or table (18%) cream

    Cut slit lengthwise in each date and remove pit.

    In small saucepan, bring to boil 1/3 cup sugar and water, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Remove from heat and add Marsala.

    Mix together ricotta, cream, and 3 tsps sugar.  Spoon cheese mixture into center of each date, and drizzle with marsala sauce.

    dates ricotta cream marsala sauce

    dates with ricotta and marsala sauce

    Anything Goes Salami Spaghetti

    Filed under :Basil, IFBC, Mushrooms, Olives, Pasta, Salami, Spaghetti
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    Spaghetti with salami

    Anything Goes Salami Spaghetti

    After two months travelling back and forth to London (UK), Cuba, Arizona, Montreal, Vancouver, Kelowna, Seattle and Israel, I’m finally home for a while, and thoughts of potential gastronomical delights taunt me.

    In our goodie bag from IFBC, we received a Creminelli Tartufo handcrafted Italian salami with black truffle.  I was eager to experiment with it, and also wanted to use up some other leftover ingredients, so I decided to cook up a big plate of spaghetti with a sauce incorporating the loose ends in my fridge.  The salami was delicious so of course I forced myself to *sample* while cooking.  It was all I could do to save some for an antipasti plate later, and for Chris to have some.

    Basil and Salami

    Tartufo Salami and fresh basil from my garden. The cutting board is also from our IFBC goodie bags.

    Feel free to alter the recipe as you deem fit.  The point is to make it work with your tastes and what you have lying around.  I haven’t included amounts as everything is to taste!  This spaghetti is REALLY good.  The flexibility of the recipe and sheer deliciousness ensures this won’t be the last time it graces my table.

    Anything Goes Salami Spaghetti

    Cook spaghetti in boiling water until al dente (still slightly firm).  Drain, put aside.  Return pot to stove over medium- low heat.  Add tomato sauce (jarred or home-made) and cream and mix together.  Add whatever ingredients you want; I added sliced mushrooms, green olives, chopped salami, and lots of fresh basil, which I grow in my kitchen potted herb garden.  Stir and heat through.

    Rose sauce

    Sauce coming together

    Put spaghetti on plate.  Pour sauce over top.  Garnish with additional basil leaves.  Enjoy with a nice glass of your preferred wine.