Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Portobello Spaghetti Sauce

What is it about gray winter days that makes pasta and sauce so appealing? Maybe it's the soft and filling noodles that are as versatile as the flavors you pair them with.

But how can you enjoy vegetarian spaghetti sauce while still satisfying a meat lover? Try using portobello mushrooms. Saute 1/2 a pound of sliced portobellos and then chop them in a food processor until they have a similar texture to ground beef. The rest of this recipe is pretty familiar, from pureed tomatoes and tomato paste, to fresh basil and garlic - and quite delicious.

Portobello Spaghetti Sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces portobellos, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
28 ounces imported crushed tomatoes in heavy puree
        (VOE - they're lower in salt than many domestic varieties)
6 ounces tomato paste
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
1-2 tablespoons dry red wine
1-2 teaspoons honey

In a large skillet, warm 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and then saute portobellos until lightly browned and soft. Place portobellos in food processor and chop fine. Set aside.

Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet, over medium heat, and then saute onion and garlic until they become translucent. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, thyme, wine and honey and stir thoroughly to combine.

Heat to slow boil until steaming, turn down heat, and then simmer on low for 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve over your favorite pasta.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

San Antonio's Sunset Station

We reached San Antonio's Sunset Station at St. Paul Square around dusk, and wound our way through an enormous crowd that drank, sampled appetizers, and socialized on the expansive patio at The Depot. We were headed to Aldaco's Mexican Cuisine - a Zagat-rated restaurant owned by the vivacious Blanca Aldaco, for lessons in margarita-making and an authentic Mexican meal.

The complex is a National Historic Landmark that includes 10 acres, 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space for events of all sizes, and a fully restored train depot, which reflects the grandeur of the early 1900s - when trains that passed through here linked San Francisco to New Orleans and San Antonio.

After we finished our meal, our host gave us a tour through The Depot, which has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation and transformation, complete with enormous stained glass windows, a grand staircase and amazing woodwork, painted with painstaking accuracy.

Yet, despite the grandeur of this stunning room, it managed to feel inviting and even cozy. And I could definitely envision a bride walking down those gorgeous stairs.