Single Skillet Pasta in Viking’s Stainless Steel Casserole Pan

Finished Skillet Dish Viking - Food in Jars

I’ve been cooking dinner on a near-nightly basis for the better part of the last two decades and over that time, I’ve come to understand a few essential things about myself. The most primary is that at my core, I’m a lazy cook. I’m not trading quality over convenience, but I am always making choices that I hope will make life just a little bit easier.

Viking Stainless Steel Casserole - Food in Jars

My inclination to reduce dishes and avoid unnecessary steps means that whenever possible, I opt for soups, stews, and other dishes that only require a single vessel. I will often cram things into a single pan when they might have been better off cooked separately. And any recipe that requires browning in batches is summarily discarded.

Skillet Pasta Ingredients - Food in Jars

Last month, a piece of cookware came into my life that has both encouraged my lazy ways and upped my nightly game. It’s a stainless steel casserole that holds just over six quarts. It is sturdy, has a low, wide profile that makes for quick evaporation, comes with a tight-fitting lid, cleans up beautifully, and it made by Viking (until they reached out about this pan, I didn’t realize they did more than large kitchen appliances). It’s the Viking 3-Ply 6.4 Quart Casserole Pan.

Sautéed Veg - Food in Jars

This pan has been on my stove top on a near-constant basis since it arrived. I’ve made a number of skillet chicken dishes in it (brown chicken in a single batch. Remove. Add onions and veg and cook until wilted. Return the chicken, add a little liquid, cover and braise until the chicken is cooked through). I’ve used it for pancakes, turkey bacon, and a large batch of eggs poached in tomato sauce.

Fire Roasted Tomatoes - Food in Jars

However, I think that the very highest calling for this pan is this skillet pasta dish. The original inspiration for this recipe is the single skillet pasta recipe from Martha Stewart that took the internet by storm a few years ago. This one isn’t quite as simple as just heaping all the ingredients in a pan and heating for nine minutes, but it’s pretty darn close.

Skillet Dish Without Pasta - Food in Jars

You start by heating a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. When it shimmers, add some chopped onion, garlic, red pepper, and kale and cook until all the veg is tender. Then you add some cubed chicken sausage (I used some that was already cooked through), a cup of liquid (white wine, chicken stock, or water) and a couple cans (or jars, if your pantry runs to such things) of fire roasted tomatoes and get it bubbling.

Adding Pasta - Food in Jars

Then you add eight ounces of uncooked pasta. I used whole wheat elbows, but any short cut variety you have in the pantry does the job. Cover the pan and cook until the pasta is tender. It will absorb the liquid in the pan, making for flavorful pasta and less clean-up for the cook.

Finished Skillet Pasta - Food in Jars

I’ve written the instructions out in an organized fashion for you, but this is more of a technique than a recipe that must be followed to the letter. You could do a version with braised fennel bulb and a pound of pork fennel sausage. A batch with artichoke would also be nice. The options are endless!

What would you make in a Viking casserole like this one?

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Upcoming Events – Eating Words! Greensgrow Farm! Local Mouthful Potluck!

a potluck plate

Hello friends! I took a look at my calendar today and realized that I have a few events coming up that I’ve neglected to tell you about. If you’re in the Philly area and feel the need to get out, talk to people, take a class or join me at a potluck, I’ve got a few options for you!

February 27 – I’m speaking on a panel at Eating Words: Philadelphia. It’s a one-day food writing conference put on by Edible Philly and hosted by the Culinary Literacy Center at the Free Library of Philadelphia. The conference runs from 9 am to 4 pm and costs $85 to participate.  The full schedule and to register.

March 19 – An introduction to preserving with natural sweeteners at Greensgrow Farm in Philadelphia. This hands on class is from 12 noon to 2 pm and all participants will go home with a small jar of jam made in class. More details and registration info.

March 20 – The first Local Mouthful Cookbook Club potluck! We’re inviting local listeners to cook a dish from one of the cookbooks we’ve featured so far this year (Lucky Peach’s 101 Easy Asian Recipes, The New Persian Kitchen, or The Indian Family Table). More info soon about time and location of the potluck.

I’ve also got my full schedule (at least as it stands right now) for April and May up on my classes and events page right now (June, July, and August coming soon). I’ll be all up and down the west coast in April, so check it out and mark your calendars.

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Cookbooks: Brodo

Brodo spine - Food in Jars

If you follow food trends of any stripe these days, you may have heard people talking about the many wonders of bone broth. When Joy and I went to the Natural Foods Expo last fall, we spotted several companies selling versions designed for sipping (though I tend to be skeptical of such things, I must say that Noma Lim was quite delicious).

I recently got a pitch for a kit hoping to make homemade bone broth even easier (though truly, it’s not that hard even without a kit and it’s far more affordable). And there has been a steady stream of books trying to help guide you towards doing it yourself.

Brody cover - Food in Jars

For those of you who don’t mind flying without recipes, you don’t need anything more to make bone broth (or stock, or regular broth, or whatever else you want to call it) than a big stock pot, some meaty bones (sometimes roasted, sometimes not), vegetables, and tasty, clean water.

However, if you like to have a bit more guidance, may I suggest the book Brodo, by Marco Canora? He’s a New York-based chef who started a bone broth take-out window in his restaurant Hearth and has created a lovely, smart book on the topic of making delicious, savory broths.

Brodo add-ins - Food in Jars

One of the reasons I like this little book is that it offers so much more than just a handful of broth recipes (there are actually 15 distinct versions). It also features bowls (I have the ginger beef bowl on my meal plan for next week), soup add-ins (I need to make the Infused Coconut Milk immediately), and risotto recipes.

Brodo back - Food in Jars

Now, just one thing. As much as I’m pleased that people are returning to the act of making their own stocks and broths, I do think that there’s a danger of becoming too precious about the process once it becomes as hot and trendy as bone broth has.

It is important to use good ingredients, but remember that the act of making broth or stock was originally intended to be one of frugality and making the most of your food. Don’t think you need to break your budget in order to add it to your homemade pantry. And don’t feel like you have to be bound to a specific recipe. Work with what you have.

Oh, and don’t forget! If you’re short on freezer space and you’ve got a pressure canner, you can make your broth shelf stable!

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One Month Until Naturally Sweet Food in Jars Arrives!

stack of three books

The official publication date of Naturally Sweet Food in Jars is exactly one month from today. Cue my pre-pub jitters!

I’ve been working hard over the last few weeks, putting together a really terrific book tour (my Classes and Events page is getting updated on a near-daily basis and I have a whole lot more to add). It’s shaping up to be a good combination of classes, demos, and book store conversations, and I do hope lots of you will come out to see me.

I totally understand those of you who want to pick up a copy of the book at one of my events, but if you don’t think you’re going to make it out to say hi, I’d love it (and so would Running Press) if you’d pre-order a copy! Here are just a few of your purchasing options!

Amazon | Powell’s | Barnes and Noble | Indigo | Books-a-MillionIndiebound

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Links: Ginger Pear Butter, Giveaways, and Winners

fermented wax beans

About a week ago, our under sink water filter sprang a leak, causing a great deal of mess and upheaval. We’re all cleaned up now, with a new filter that’s better than the old one, but it took a goodly amount of mopping, sorting, trashing, and general disruption to get back to normal. The whole experience feels like it’s an allegory for life. There’s turmoil, mess, and recovery, but in the end, you wind up in a situation that’s better than before.

assorted mason jar accessories 1 - Food in Jars

The two winners in my Mason Jar Accessories giveaway are #332/Maria C. and #452/Beth. Congratulations to the winners! The giveaway is taking a short break this week, but will be back next week. And thanks to everyone who shared dinner ideas and suggestions. It was most inspiring to read about the things you’ve been cooking lately!

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Canning 101: How to Make Jam With Frozen Fruit + Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam

frozen apricots - Food in Jars

It is mid-winter, which means that the pickings are quite slim for canners in search of fresh fruit to turn into jams and fruit butters. However, if you’ve got a preserving itch that must be scratched, take heart and turn to the freezer.

frozen apricots top - Food in Jars

Whether you’re using fruit you yourself tucked into the deep freeze or you’ve decided to rely on that which you can find in the cases at the grocery store, it’s possible to coax satisfying spreads out of previously as long as you remember a couple of things.

frozen apricots sugared - Food in Jars

First and most important, don’t defrost your fruit prior to combining it with the sugar. I’ve made jam from a wide array of frozen fruit in my time, and I’ve learned that my results are always better if I liberally dust the fruit with sugar while it’s still frozen.

The sugar draws away some of the water in the fruit, which helps it hold its shape better, while also providing some protection against browning. This is especially helpful in the case of light-colored fruit like apricots and peaches, which will turn grey and squishy if left to defrost on their own.

defrosting apricots - Food in Jars

The second tip for success when using frozen fruit in preserving is to use weight as your measurement tool. Because you’re going to sugar the fruit before it has defrosted, volume measurements for the fruit won’t be accurate. By using weight as your guiding measurement, you’ll be able to keep the proportions of fruit to sugar steady and set yourself up for success.

finished jam - Food in Jars

For those of you who made plenty of jam back in the summer and question why one would want to make jam from frozen fruit, I have four words for you. Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam.

This season bending preserve isn’t possible to make on the east coast without the aid of a freezer, but it is good enough that I try to stash four pounds of apricots in my freezer drawer each summer, so that I’m able to make it when Meyer lemons are in season. Oh, and if you can’t wait another year for this one, try freezing some Meyer lemon juice and zest right now, to save for apricot season.

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