Today’s lunch

Ten inch pepperoni pizza, Coke, Occupy literature, and Stax Records (not pictured).

All for $8.22 at Austin’s Pizza on the Drag.  I love that place.  Their upstairs bar is an oasis.

Creamy Greens Soup with Hot Italian Sausage

Greens Soup
2 Tbsp butter
1 large white onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 qt chicken broth
6 cups greens of your choice, roughly chopped*
1 cup cream
salt and pepper, to taste

For the sausage
4 hot Italian beef sausages
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. In a stock pot, melt the butter for the soup. Add onions and cook over low heat until translucent; do not burn. Add garlic and stir. Cook approximately two minutes, until fragrant.

2. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Toss in greens, reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until greens are just wilted and bright green. Remove from heat.

3. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, sauté sausages over low hear in butter and olive oil, turning frequently for even cooking. After about ten minutes, remove sausages to a cutting board with a slotted spoon. Cut into slices and return to pan. Continue to cook over low heat until the soup is ready.

4. Pour the greens and stock mixture into a blender or large food processor and purée until nearly smooth. Return to stock pot, add the salt and pepper and about 3/4 of the cream, and cook over low heat for a further five minutes, until nicely warmed.

5. Using a ladle, portion soup out evenly across four shallow bowls (I use pasta plates). Drizzle the remaining cream in a circle in each bowl, creating a nice garnish. Again using a slotted spoon to drain the oil, carefully place one quarter of the sausage slices into each bowl. Serve immediately.

Serves 4. This dish is surprisingly filling.

*I used fresh chard from the downtown Austin Farmers Market, half a head of lettuce I had in the crisper, and 2/3 of a standard bag of frozen spinach, which I thawed out under running, lukewarm water.

H-Town Meatball Subs

When I talk about “H-Town,” I usually mean Houston. Not so in this case!

The Inspiration, by Jackie

The Inspiration, by Jackie

This supremely filling meatball submarine sandwich is named in honor of the place I first tried it: Hummelstown, P-A. You see, my boyfriend hails from Hummelstown, and we spend Christmas there with his family. This year, stepmom Jackie (hayyyyyy!) treated us to Christmas Eve meatball subs, a fruit and cheese spread, Saranac Caramel Porter (my new favorite beer), and a truly amazing butterscotch bundt cake (I have the recipe! Watch out!). It was truly a feast; and that was all before the dinner of roast Cornish game hen and baked potatoes!

But that meatball sub. Man. It really stuck with me.

This week, the boyfriend brought home a big package of beef, fancy organic hot dog buns, and some sliced provolone. Here’s the result: a fast and filling weeknight treat!

H-Town Meatball Subs

1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 hot dog buns
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 large slices provolone cheese
2 cups Rio House Red Sauce (can be prepared ahead)
fresh basil (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large mixing bowl, stir ground beef, egg, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Worcestershire sauce until well mixed.

2. On a clean surface (I use a glass cutting board dedicated to raw meat), shape beef into balls, making twelve from your pound of meat.

3. Place meatballs on a greased cookie sheet and bake for thirty minutes at 350°.

4. Meanwhile, warm (or cook, if making afresh) Rio House Red Sauce in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently.

5. Open hot dog buns and drizzle with olive oil. Once the meatballs have cooked for approximately 20 minutes, place the open-faced buns in the oven to toast. When the meatballs are done (25-30 minutes), remove them from the oven along with the buns. Place a slice of provolone on top of each bun and return to oven until the cheese is melted (approximately two minutes).

6. Remove buns from oven and turn off the heat source. Place buns on serving plates, spoon three meatballs onto each, and top with warm sauce (and basil, if using). Serve immediately.

Serves 2-4, depending on their hunger! One was enough for me on both occasions, while Mr. Hummelstown wanted two–and he’s usually a light eater!

Stella’s Spaghetti Bolognese

So, I had a pound of beef, some pasta, and no idea what to make for lunch during the Ravens-Texans game (go, Ravens!). I hadn’t had Bolognese sauce since living in England more than five years ago, so I decided to give it a try. Pasta Bolognese seemed to be the most popular Italian dish in the UK a few years back, and it was on every Italian menu, as well as a lot of pub menus, not to mention available in frozen form at the supermarket! This Bolognese, while fairly straightforward, is far superior to the Tesco version. I will definitely be adding this one to my regular pasta rotation.

This classic sauce was registered in 1982 by the Bolognese delegation of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina and stipulates the ingredients as: beef (skirt steak), pancetta, onions, carrot, celery (stalk), tomato paste, meat broth, red dry wine (not bubbling), milk, salt and pepper to taste. There are, of course, multiple regional variations, however; let’s consider this the variazione del texan.

For this recipe, I cheated on on the soffritto, skipping the carrots altogether, added some spices I had on hand (an idea I got from Emeril Lagasse), and left out the pancetta (since I didn’t have–or want–any). I also used spaghetti instead of tagliatelle, a typically American modification (though I love tagliatelle!). Finally, I served the sauce on top of the pasta, which I mixed with the cream and butter, rather than mixing it all together as the Italians would be more likely to do. Eccola!

Stella’s Bolognese Sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
~4 oz. tomato paste (half a small can)
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp raw sugar

For the pasta
1 lb. spaghetti
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely grated parmesan

1. Add olive oil, beef, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper to a large skillet and stir over medium heat until just cooked through, breaking up the meat with your spatula.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook spaghetti until al dente, about 10 minutes.

3. As meat cooks through, add herbs and spices. Reduce heat to medium low. Add tomato paste and stir thoroughly. After about three minutes, as tomato paste is absorbed, add wine. Stir again and allow to simmer until alcohol is cooked off, about five minutes. Finally, sprinkle with sugar and stir again. You can cook this sauce for as long as you want, actually – just keep adding water and reduce heat to a simmer. It will become richer with every minute cooked.

4. Drain pasta and return to pot, away from heat source. Add butter, cream, and pepper, and stir thoroughly. Add half the parmesan and stir again, until cheese is absorbed into pasta.

5. Spoon spaghetti into pasta bowls and top with generous heaps of the beef sauce. Garnish with remaining parmesan, and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6, either as one of several courses, or as a main or single course.

Sauce refrigerates well for up to five days.