Stepping Out

In the kitchen

Find culinary inspiration on a frigid winter weekend


Cozy up to some comfy winter nesting now that we’ve put the holidays behind us.

January is the ideal time to decompress and get into the kitchen to hone those “Top Chef” skills. And with the frigid temperatures, some tasty comforting foods are sure to warm the heart and soul — as well as help get everyone started on that New Year’s resolution to eat healthier.

Experiment with new culinary creations that incorporate bold flavors for delicious results. Nothing pleases the senses quite like a hearty meal on a chilly evening.

Try adding these recipes to your kitchen repertoire.

Campanelle with Prosciutto and Peas

12 ounces uncooked campanelle pasta

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large shallot, finely chopped

½ cup dry white wine

1/2 cup frozen peas

3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

Alfredo sauce

4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded

6 eggs

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In pot of salted water, cook pasta 2 minutes less than directed on package. Drain pasta.

In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and shallots. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until softened. Add wine; cook 3-4 minutes, or until most liquid has evaporated. Stir in peas, prosciutto, Alfredo sauce and cheese. Add pasta; toss gently. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes to coat pasta with sauce.

In saucepan, bring water to boil and add eggs. Cook 6 minutes. Transfer eggs to ice water and cool before peeling.

Top each serving with soft-set egg and black pepper.

Notes: Gouda or Gruyere can be substituted for Fontina. Unpeeled, cooked eggs can be stored in refrigerator up to one week.

Alfredo Sauce:

1 stick butter

1 cup heavy cream  

Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

2 cups freshly grated Parmesan

Pasta cooking water, as needed

In a saucepan or skillet, warm the butter and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Add the Parmesan and stir until melted.

Toss to combine, thinning with pasta water if necessary.

Kale and Sausage Soup

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 links linguica, chorizo, or other spicy sausage, split along the length and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 onion, diced

3 small or 2 medium red-skinned potatoes, skin left on and diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch (about 1 pound) kale, preferably cavolo nero, halved and chopped into thin ribbons

4 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1 rind Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (optional, but adds great flavor)

1 can white beans, like navy, cannellini, or Great Northern, drained and rinsed

Salt and pepper to taste

Set a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and sauté until the sausage is golden brown on all sides. Remove the sausage and drain on a paper towel.

Reduce heat to medium and add the onion. Sauté until the onion is translucent and then add the potatoes, about five minutes. Sauté until the edges of the potatoes are starting to turn transparent, about five minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add 1/4 cup of chicken broth and the kale to the pot. Stir to coat everything with chicken broth and then cover the pot with a lid. Stir the kale every three minutes until it is barely tender, adding more broth as needed if the pot becomes dry, about 12 minutes total.

Add the rest of the broth, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, cheese rind, and 2 teaspoons of salt. If the veggies aren’t quite covered, add extra broth or water. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until the kale is completely tender and the potatoes are cooked through. Add the sausage and white beans. Remove bay leaf and cheese rind. Taste for seasonings and salt.

Serve this soup in individual bowls with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top and a crusty slice of bread to sop up the broth at the bottom of the bowl.

Country Stew

5 pounds bone-in short ribs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 cups water

1 1/3 cups Zinfandel wine

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 beef bouillon cubes

6 large potatoes, washed, peeled and quartered

1/2 pound small fresh mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed

1 package (10 ounces) frozen whole green beans

1 can (16 ounces) peeled whole tomatoes, undrained

Dredge ribs in flour to coat; reserve leftover flour.

Heat oil in 8-quart Dutch oven on moderate heat.

Add half of ribs and brown on all sides. Once browned, remove ribs. Repeat instructions for remaining ribs.

Stir in the reserved flour. While stirring, add 1 cup water and wine and stir until thickened.

Return ribs to the pan.

Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper and bouillon and bring to a boil.

Cover and lower heat to simmer for about 1 hour, or until ribs are tender.

Remove ribs with slotted spoon and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add potatoes, mushrooms and beans. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Add ribs and tomatoes with liquid, and heat through.

Use slotted spoon to remove meat and vegetables to large serving platter.

Remove gravy to serving container and serve with ribs. Makes 6 servings.