Monday, May 9, 2016

08 May 2016 – Mother's Day

Mother's Day is always bittersweet for me, but a fun weekend with friends and family makes a difference. It was a very active weekend, to say the least. It began with a record breaking First Friday which celebrated everything Canton. The theme, "We are Canton," brought out a lot of people to enjoy all the things that make our city so special. Plus, the Thrillhammers performed, and they are always wonderful.

Saturday brought lots of errands and preparation for the Kentucky Derby Day event at the Rock Barn, one the biggest fundraisers of the year for the Cherokee County Historical Society. This is one of the best parties of the year, and they did not disappoint. There was a good crowd, festive derby hats, great food and, of course, the ponies! After the party, a few friends came over to One Britt, and we had a fun evening filled with laughter, music and fellowship.

On Sunday, we took Jeff's parents to Downtown Kitchen for lunch to acknowledge Theresa Brown on Mother's Day. She is such a kind and generous lady, and I am thrilled to have her in my life. There is no replacing your dear mother, but Mrs. Brown helps fill the void on this day. After lunch and a long weekend of running around, I headed to the grocery store to get supplies for tonight's Sunday Supper. Fortunately, we had already purchased a market bag from Whim Wham Art Farm, and I used a lot of their wonderful items for tonight's dinner. You can order them on Facebook, and Whim Wham delivers to the Cherokee County History Museum for pick up. This week's bag had one dozen farm eggs, fresh strawberries, mixed lettuces and greens, homemade Challah bread, turnip greens and kale. Everything is farm fresh, organic and delicious! I can't wait until Mary and Nicole, along with the other vendors, return to the Canton Farmer's Market at the end of this month.

I decided to go with an Italian theme for Sunday Supper, so I made a mixed green salad with scratch Italian dressing for starters. The main course consisted of a hearty baked penne with pork ragu sauce and zucchini. I transformed Whim Wham's melt-in-your-mouth Challah into garlic bread, and I used their strawberries to make a simple and refreshing parfait for dessert. No, it wasn't the lightest meal that I've ever cooked, but it was filling and comforting after a very hectic week and action-packed weekend. I hope your Mother's day was comforting and joyful as well.

The Menu:

- Mixed Greens with Scratch Italian Dressing

- Baked Penne Pasta with Pork Ragu and Zucchini

- Garlic Challah Bread

- Strawberry Parfait

The Recipe – Baked Penne with Pork Ragu


2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces diced pancetta
2 pounds pork shoulder, course grounded or cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 pound Italian hot sausages, casings removed
2 cups chopped onions
3/4 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery
6 large fresh thyme sprigs
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 cups dry red wine
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes in juice, tomatoes chopped
4 small zucchini sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/4 pounds penne pasta
2 cups grated fresh whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Heat olive oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, and sauté until crisp. Using slotted spoon, remove and reserve pancetta. Season pork with salt and pepper. Add half of pork to pancetta drippings, and sauté until brown. Transfer to bowl with pancetta. Repeat with remaining pork. Add sausage to dutch oven, and sauté until no longer pink, breaking up with spatula or wooden spoon. Add onions, carrots, celery, thyme, garlic, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low; sauté until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add wine and bring to a rolling boil, scraping up browned bits. Add pancetta and pork with their juices; boil 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice. Cover and cook until pork is tender, maintaining a gentle simmer and stirring occasionally, about 1 3/4 hours. Add zucchini slices and simmer while pasta is cooking.

Uncover pot, and spoon off any fat on surface. Gently press pork pieces with back of fork to break up meat coarsely. Season ragù to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 4 qt. glass baking dish, and coat with seasoned bread crumbs. Shake off excess crumbs. Cook penne in large pot of salted boiling water until tender but still firm to bite (around 8 minutes), stirring occasionally. Drain pasta and mix into ragù. If sauce is too thick, add a little of the pasta water. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and transfer to prepared dish. Sprinkle both cheeses over the top, and bake until heated through and golden, about 30 minutes. Turn the heat up at the very end if you like the top brown and crispy.
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