Monday, April 21, 2008


This situation happens all the time: experiment with a new recipe, it calls for fresh herbs, and you purchase a packet (they are expensive) and you end up only using a tablespoon of the stuff. Then you're left with tablespoon after tablespoon of excess and no where to put it! I mean, sprinkling herbs over salad or adding a pinch here and there will only get you so far. What can you do with an excess of herbs?

This was the precise culinary conundrum I found myself in after making a Tuscan Bean Soup (see post: SOUP FOR SPRING). I had plenty of fresh Sage & Rosemary sitting in my refrigerator. And recently, I have been monitoring my monthly expenses, so I was determined to maximize all of my purchases.

So...I made an Herb Butter! This way, I could save the herby spread in the fridge and enjoy it with many loaves of bread to come. Economic & Gourmet-sounding (and tasting)! Perfect! The uses of herb butters are endless I'm sure, you can do the obvious, like spread them on toast to add a fancy touch to any breakfast or sandwich, or you can use them to spread over fresh fish before you grill. I'm still thinking of other ways to use it! Anyone else have any suggestions?

The great thing about making butters, is that there are infinite possibilities! You can make butters with Shallots, or Garlic, or sweet butters like Strawberry Butter or Cinnamon & Brown Sugar. This is my first time making any kind of a spread, so the more I make, the more I can share! Here is the recipe for Rosemary/Sage Butter Spread. Also note that I mixed in EVOO to the Butter to A) make the sauting of herbs easier & B) to make the once cooled concoction easier to spread right out of the fridge!


1 stick of butter
4 to 6 circles of EVOO in the pan
3 to 4 springs of Rosemary, Chopped
8 to 12 leaves of Sage, Chopped

  • In your non-stick pan, heat 4 to 6 circle of EVOO on low heat.
  • Add chopped herbs and lightly saute them for about 3 minutes
  • Add stick of butter, cut the stick into a few pieces to help the melting process.
  • After the butter melts, continue to saute lightly over low heat for about a minute or so, to incorporate.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO USE TOO MUCH HEAT! You don't want to burn the butter
  • Use right away or place in a covered container and refrigerate for later use.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008



I revamped the below entry after experimenting further with the soup.Changes are in bold.

As I had some friends over on a random Tuesday night--I made Antipasto to start out with, and it was a heavy spread (see post: DINNER DATE IN A HURRY). So I wanted to follow up with something light, and as importantly, something that I could make fairly quickly AFTER enjoying the Antipasto and finishing up the wine.

I borrowed this recipe from Giada de Lauretiis, it's her "Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup". I, of course, tweaked it a little. You can get the original recipe from I added pancetta for flavoring and because pancetta releases so much fat, I did away with any use of Butter that Giada recommends. Also I quadrupled the amount of sage (4 leaves) and rosemary (2 to 3 sprigs). I reduced the amount of chicken stock she recommends (4 cups) to 2 and 1/2 cups because it was way too watery the first time I made it and I didn't use all 4 cups either! To further alleviate the wateriness, I added another can of Cannelloni Beans, bringing the total for the recipes up to 3 15 oz. cans. Also, I was about to use some dry white wine as well (as I think this is the secret to good soups), but while I was cooking and talking with my friends, I forgot to add this! So this time when I made the soup, I used a Dark Beer (only thing I had on hand, but hey, beans & beer are a great combination!) so I added about 1/3 of a bottle of beer, so about 4 oz. or 1/2 a cup. I think it added some depth that the initial soup was lacking. I also added a Parmesan Rind the pot to simmer when you add the Chicken Stock. Otherwise a very tame, light soup, appropriate for a Spring night. Here is the revised recipe, all changes in bold.


1/4 lb pancetta, cubed
2 to 3 sprig's worth of Fresh Rosemary
4 to 6 leaves of Sage, very chopped
3 to 4 shalllots, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, halved
1 tablespoon of butter---NO BUTTER NEEDED because of the fat from Pancetta
2 tablespoons of EVOO
Salt & Pepper
1 Parmesan Rind
2.5 to 3 cups of Chicken Stock
3 oz. of Cream---ALSO REDUCED CREAM
3 15 oz cans of Cannelloni Beans

  • In Pot (make sure it holds at least 8 cups of liquid) heat tablespoon of EVOO over medium/medium-low heat. Add cubed pancetta. Allow this to cook and the fat to render from pancetta for about 2 minutes.
  • Add chopped Shallot to the pot and saute for about 3 minutes or until the shallots are translucent. Season only with a few pinches of Salt, NOT Pepper.
  • Add the Fresh Rosemary & Fresh Sage. Saute for about 30 seconds, just to incorporate.
  • Add the 3 cans of Beans (drained), mix and coat the oil with the beans.
  • Add 1/2 cup of Dark Beer. Simmer for a few minutes.
  • Add 2 to 3 cups of chicken stock to the pot & the 8 halves of garlic cloves as well as a Parmesan Rind. Bring to a boil.
  • Allow this to simmer for at least 10 minutes. No more than 15 is needed.
  • Using your food processor or blender start to blend the entire soup in batches---BE CAREFUL HOT LIQUIDS EXPAND WHEN BLENDED, so please do not fill to the top! If you have an IMMERSION BLENDER this would the be the ideal recipe for it! Do not worry if all the Rosemary & Sage do not get blended. You might have big pieces of the herbs, but that's OK.
  • Once all is blended, place back in pot & add 1/2 cup (4 oz.) of Cream & Pepper. Allow to bring to a boil again just for a moment to allow everything to incorporate evenly.
  • Serve with Crusty Bread, toasted with EVOO.


When you're having someone over for dinner on a weeknight, you don't have all day to prepare complicated dishes. I think a great way to entertain in this situation is to fall back on the old-favorite: the Antipasto dish!
Antipasto is all about the choices you make and interesting presentation. There really is no cooking involved (or there doesn't HAVE to be any, but some are more ambitious than others).
HERE'S HOW I ARRANGE MY ANTIPASTO: purchase your favorite cheeses, maybe 2. I always serve baby Mozzarella. Then select some olives--a mix is always nice. Then you can select some sort of vegetables, a favorite is Roasted Peppers, but roasted or marinated Artichoke Hearts are always nice as well. You can always throw in some nuts--I like Walnuts. Set out some nice olive oil & balsalmic vinegar--use your good EVOO. Also essential is good bread, whatever you prefer, toast if it's not fresh. Meats round out the Antipasto nicely--I like to include just one (economical)--last time I chose Chorizo Sausage, and just warmed up the sausage on our Grill Pan while snacking on the rest of the spread. Other popular meats are usually cured meats like Salami, Proscuitto, Sopresatta. And of course, esential to a good antipasto, is the plating & presentation. Living in tiny apartments doesn't afford us the luxury of hainvg specific plates and tableware for the occasional Antipasto night--but just use what you have. You can use a cutting board to display the bread and use teacups to hold the pesto & dips. Speaking of dips these babies are a great way to liven up your spread use: olive tapenade, hummus, baba ganoush, etc. But my favorite is FRESH PESTO! This is how you make it--the hardest part is cleaning up the mess. Oh and invest in a Parmesan/Zester, very useful.


2 handfuls of thoroughly rinsed and thoroughly dried Basil Leaves
2/3 cup of Grated Parm
2/3 cup of Pine Nuts (don't have to be toasted)
1/3 to 2/3 cup of Good EVOO
Dashes of Salt & Pepper

2 cloves of garlic

Juice from Half a Lemon
Zest from Quarter of a Lemon

  • mix together in food processor--serve! mmmmm.