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I thought, as many of you might, how good can noodles be made from zucchini? Won’t they be soggy? Wouldn’t they make everything else taste weird?

But these things kept popping up everywhere. In food magazines. On Pinterest (I know, I know). People raved about them. Raved, I tell you. So, after wondering for months whether I should try this crazy-sounding vegetable noodle trend, I took the plunge, made the leap, and jumped right on in.

With much skepticism, I ordered my bottom of the line, super cheapo “spiralizer” on Amazon.fr, and it arrived a few days, maybe a week, later (Same day delivery in France? Hahaha!). It looks like a two-ended pencil sharpener — and that’s exactly how it works. After cutting off the end of the zucchini (no peeling necessary), you just twist and twist until most the dang thing has magically (!) turned into spaghetti-like strands.

The second time I did this, I learned that you need to use your kitchen scissors and cut them ever 12 or 14 inches or so, or it’s impossible to pull off the Italian twirl and eat. So you twist and cut, twist and cut, twist and cut until you’ve got a pile of zucchini spaghetti.

One mediumish zucchini was the right amount for me.

All you do is heat up your sauce (in this case, was just 2 cups of Turkey and Mushroom Sauce that I took out of the freezer), and when it’s bubbly, throw in your zucchini spaghetti for 2 minutes or so or until they reach your favorite al dente-ness.

That is all you do. They are indeed wonderful little spaghettis. I loved this so much I made some the next night, too. The only deal is with these flimsy pencil sharpener contraptions is you’re limited to zucchini and maybe carrots because of the size.

I’m already thinking about an upgrade.

Turkey and Mushroom Italian Sauce

This is a lighter take on the spaghetti sauce my mom used to make. Like most meat sauces, this is better the next day, so plan accordingly.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ pound/8 ounces white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • ¼ red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Put the olive oil, onion and garlic in a medium-size stockpot over medium heat and cook until the onion starts to become translucent and you can smell it cooking, 5 to 10 minutes.
  1. Add the mushrooms and let them cook and soften — they won’t get brown and crispy but they’ll softly cook in about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper as you go.
  1. Add the red bell pepper and carrots and cook until these soften, about 10 more minutes.
  1. Put the ground turkey in the stockpot, stir and let cook through, another 5 minutes or so. Now add the tomatoes, tomato paste and spices and stir until combined. Let cook for about an hour.

Cowgirl Tip: When I make this, after it’s cool, I divide it into 2-cup portions and put them in plastic freezer bags and keep them in the freezer.

 

 

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Chicken and Stars

January 10, 2016

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Chicken and stars, chicken and stars, chicken and stars.

That’s what I had for dinner for three nights in a row when I returned to Paris, because along with a suitcase stuffed with corn and red chile flour tortillas, I brought back a rather nasty bronchitis.

I’ve never made Chicken and Stars soup before, but it popped into my head as I reluctantly unpacked, jet lagged and wishing I could do December all over again because, well, Texas, tacos, 80-degree days, teaching cooking classes for Central Market and Lake Austin Spa, and spending time with some of the best people I know. The only thing that I figured would ease my homesickness – and lingering sickness — was a batch of something I’ve not eaten since I was very small.

First, I’d need to make stock, since I’d used up the last of what I had before I left. It’s so easy to make, you really don’t need a recipe, but you do need to block off some time for simmering, which is the key to a rich stock. There is no such thing as a quick stock.

A short bus ride on the 123, a pop into the big Monoprix for a whole chicken, some celery, onion, garlic, carrots, and parsley, and I was on my way. I threw all of it in a big stockpot along with a few peppercorns and some Bay leaves and let it cook for about four hours. Besides skimming off the icky brown stuff that rises when you boil the stock, there’s really nothing to do. It simmers on its own after that.

My Chicken and Stars soup, as you’ll see below, is bare bones, nothing fancy, which is exactly what I wanted. You may add thyme or more Bay leaves if you’d like.

After I finished my soup — and the final season of “The Killing” on Netflix — I went back to the store and bought another round of ingredients for more stock. Tortilla soup’s up next, along with season 2 of “Mozart in the Jungle.”

I know. My glamorous life.

Chicken and Stars

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion (see note)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • 8 cups/2 quarts homemade chicken stock
  • 2 cups cooked and chopped chicken
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ cups dried pasta stars
  • fresh chopped parsley for serving
  1. Put the olive oil, onion and garlic in a large stockpot over medium-high heat and cook until the onion becomes translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the carrot and cook until it softens, about 5 more minutes. Now add the celery and do the same. Cook for another 5 minutes or so until it softens along with the other vegetables.
  1. Pour in the stock and add the chicken. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Let cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until warmed through.
  1. Add stars and cook until they’re al dente, about 5 minutes. Serve with chopped parsley on top.

Note: For this soup, I chop my onion, celery and carrot in very small dice, about 1/8th of an inch, no larger than the size of the stars. It takes a bit longer, but I like to keep everything small in this soup. It’s easier to eat — and it makes this very simple soup seem kinda fancy. 

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Homeward Bound: Le Texas Tour

November 4, 2015

My suitcase is sitting near the door, and it’s not packed yet, but it will be soon. I’m coming home to teach another big round of cooking classes all over our great state of Texas. Yay, yay, yay!!!! I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. As usual, it’ll be a bit of a whirlwind, […]

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Cauliflower and Potato Pakoras

November 2, 2015

If you ever go with me to an Indian buffet, I will embarrass you. I will load up my plate with rice and dal and pakoras and palak paneer and whatever else I can find until there is room for nothing else. I will get bowls of all of the chutneys. The mint, the tamarind. I’ll pour […]

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Pappa al Pomodoro

October 25, 2015

The other day, as I was embracing the idea of fall and wearing a sweater (not a coat yet), we had a very rude, unwanted guest show up. A high of 46 degrees is not fall, thank you very much. Thankfully, the heat in the building had been turned on the day before, so inside […]

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Stuffed Eggplant

October 16, 2015

I’ve been on an eggplant kick lately, and even more so because people keep asking me what to do with it. In Paris, Dallas, everywhere I go, it seems. I don’t know why eggplant comes up in conversations. But it does. Unless you’re talking about the cute miniature ones that you can sometimes find in […]

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Spinach Tortillas

September 7, 2015

Because I’m crazy about spinach. Because I love tortillas. A mashup — because why the hell not? Truth: I was going to make flour tortillas anyway, and realized I had about three handfuls of spinach left in the bag, and thought it might be fun to make them spinachy. I swapped out the spinach for part […]

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Parmesan Zucchini Chips

September 4, 2015

You know summer’s coming to a close when the zucchini won’t stop zucchini-ing and they’re practically giving the stuff away at every grocery store and market you see. It’s still a bit too warm in Paris, and I’m keeping the fan blowing in the bedroom 24-7, but leaves are already falling, which is a very good […]

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Peach Galette for One

August 13, 2015

No need to adjust your screen. The uneven folds and flopped over parts, which leaked on the parchment paper (and in doing so, created a crispy sugary bottom), were not intentional, but it’s fine. Really. There’s a lot of hope involved in baking. You hope that what you pull out of the oven is what you’d […]

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Carrot-Zucchini Galettes with Avocado Salsa

August 7, 2015

I’m just back from a weeklong yoga retreat in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain, where the meals were modest and vegetarian, and often without dairy or gluten, due to the dietary needs of some of the other yogis. Which made me start thinking again about what brings flavor to a dish, and what’s necessary and […]

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