Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Pasta Sauce – Marinara

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes, Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

This is a very basic (and quick!) tomato sauce that takes very little time to cook and can be made ahead of time and frozen. It can be used with any pasta dish or in lasagna.

You will need the following ingredients to make this Marinara Sauce recipe:

Be sure to get both the onion and garlic chopped before you turn on the stove.

You’ll need about 1 cup of finely chopped onions for this recipe. Two small or one medium onion should do the trick.

Peel and mince 4 cloves of garlic. That’s a lot of garlic, but it does get cooked, so it’s not going to be too strong.

Fresh basil is essential for this recipe. Nowadays, most grocery store carry fresh basil year-round. You can wash it the same way you wash lettuce. Pull the leaves off the stem and throw the stems away.

Put the basil and the canned tomatoes, with their juice, in a blender and puree everything until almost smooth. Set the tomato-basil puree aside.

(As I filled the blender I thought, YIKES, this is way too full! With my hand pressed firmly on the lid of the blender I pressed the puree button. I was very lucky that my kitchen did not end up covered in tomato sauce. Next time I would puree this mixture in two batches!)

Heat ½ cup of olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.

That does sound like a ton of oil, but believe me it works. It gives the sauce a full, rich flavor.

Add the onions and garlic and cook until very tender, about 12 minutes.

The onions should not get browned. This is what they should look like after 12 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and basil that you pureed in the blender and 1 teaspoon of oregano plus 1 teaspoon of sugar. (Don’t skip the sugar. It helps balance the acid in the tomatoes.)

Bring the sauce to a simmer over a medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and continue simmering until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. This will take about 10 minutes.

Give the sauce a taste. You may need to add about ½ -1 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of fresh pepper.

The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. If you are storing it for future use, cool the sauce, then cover and refrigerate it. Gently re-heat sauce over medium heat before using it.

If you are going to be freezing this sauce, use small containers that would be enough for 1-2 serving.

Be sure to spray your plastic containers with cooking spray first so they don’t get stained by the tomato sauce.

(For more basic pasta sauce recipes, be sure to check out my Tomato Sauce Video or my Turkey Sausage Sauce photo-tutorial.)

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Turkey Sausage Sauce

Enjoy!

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Recipe: How to Make a Hamburger

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

The basis of a hamburger is, of course, the ground beef from which you make the “patties.”

In preparing the patties, I have tried all sorts of “add-ins” to mix with the beef – everything from dried onion soup mix, to eggs, to bacon fat, to grated cheese . The absolute best to add is…nothing at all! Why dilute that pure beefy taste?

When making your own hamburgers, start with 1 ¼ pounds of ground beef with 20% fat content. This will be enough for four big patties.

Normally I buy a lesser fat content, but for really tasty burgers, get the 20%.

(Using clean hands!) Divide the beef into four sections. Gently form each section into a round “patty” shape. It’s not necessary to tightly pack the beef into shape. In fact, you should try to handle the beef as little as possible.

Each patty should measure approximately ¾ inches thick and 4 ½ inches across.

Wrap the extra patties in plastic wrap and freeze them for next week’s dinner.

Before you start cooking the hamburgers, toast the cut side of the rolls. (Untoasted rolls get soggy very quickly.) Lay the rolls out on a baking sheet with sides and put them under the broiler.

It will only take a minute or two, so don’t do anything but stand there with pot holder in your hand, ready to remove the rolls from the oven. (They go from beautifully toasted to burnt in the blink of an eye. Then the smoke alarm goes off and ….you know the rest!)

Preheat your fry pan (on medium- high temperature) by putting a few drops of water in the pan. By the time they have evaporated, your pan will be hot.

Make sure the fry pan you are using is large enough to hold your hamburgers without squishing them together.

Cook the hamburgers (on medium-high) on one side then flip them once, and then cook them on the other side.

Cooking times on each side:

  • 3 minutes for RARE (caution-see note below!)
  • 4 minutes for MEDIUM
  • 5 minutes for WELL DONE

If you want to make a cheeseburger, place a slice of cheese on the flip side about 1 minute before the burgers are done cooking. The heat from the hamburgers will melt the cheese.

Serve your hamburgers with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, a dollop of mayonnaise and some salt and pepper.

Add some variation to your hamburger recipes thanks to this Tex-Mex cheeseburger video!

Enjoy!

****

Note:

Rare, medium or well done Hamburgers?

The USDA recommends that you always cook hamburgers so that the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees which is well done.

A friend from Canada describes why:

“…one thing I’ve learned from working in the food service industry (McDonald’s in Canada, in my case) for over 15 years is that the only safe way to cook hamburgers is to make sure they are fully cooked, not rare. This eliminates the possibility of there being any harmful bacteria in the burger – in particular, E. coli.In fact, it is standard practice at McDonald’s in Canada to verify a safe internal temperature with the first run of the products from the grill, before anything gets served to the customers. In my area, the minimum safe temperature for cooked beef patties is 156 degrees F. It may vary in other locations – in some areas, the safe temperature is 160 degrees, for example.”

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Chicken Parmesan

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Chicken cutlets are great as is but if you want to turn them into a real feast try making Chicken Parmesan.

Once you have mastered making chicken cutlets, there are just a few extra steps and ingredients needed to make chicken Parmesan.

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then make the chicken cutlets according to my video. When the chicken is all cooked take it out of the frying pan.

Set the cooked cutlets in a baking dish big enough to lay them flat in a single layer.

Using a spoon put about 1 cup of your favorite spaghetti sauce around the cutlets.   You can make your own spaghetti sauce from scratch or use a jar of spaghetti sauce.  I don’t like to drown the cutlets in sauce. You can always add more later if you want.

Top with 8 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese.

You can buy pre shredded Mozzarella…

Or fresh Mozzarella and shred it yourself.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of parmesan on the top.

The Chicken Parmesan is now ready to pop it into a 350 degree preheated oven for about 25 minutes.

When the cheese is all melted and bubbly it’s ready to serve with some spaghetti.


Enjoy!

P.S.

Vegetarians might like to try Eggplant Parmesan instead!

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Cheers!
Kathy

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