Melanzane al Pomodoro

Celebrating Chef George's 24th Anniversary on PBS

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 Wed 8:30AM/2:30PM Sun 8:30AM

Cooking Melanzane al Pomodoro is perfect this time of year when farms are abundant with eggplant and tomatoes. My Eggplant Sauce recipe is without a meat/protein in the ingredients, but feel free to add grilled sausage, chicken, or shrimp if desired. If you are looking for that under thirty minutes to-cook-to-table dish without compromising flavor for time, this is it. And, you can create variations on this recipe, which is very easy to do. 

This pasta sauce is great served warm or chilled added with a tube shaped pasta.

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George's Eggplant Sauce

Makes 4 servings 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | from George Hirsch Living it UP! Cookbook

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups eggplant, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

8 cloves garlic, chopped

6 plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup pitted calamata olives, chopped

1/2 cup white whine

1 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano, thyme, hot pepper flakes

2 Tablespoons pine nuts

2 Tablespoons fresh basil

parmesan cheese to taste and fresh black pepper

Preheat a large nonstick saucepan.  

Add half the olive oil; then eggplant, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and bell pepper.  Cook until light brown.  Add the wine, chicken broth, olives, dried basil, oregano, thyme and hot sauce.  Cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

Top with remaining olive oil, fresh basil and pine nuts.

Excellent with a rigatoni or tube shape pasta.

keeping peace with Irish Coffee

I had an enjoyable afternoon tea with fellow Create TV host and Ireland’s TV chef, cookbook author Rachael Allen of Ballymaloe. Rachel and I exchanged our foodie stories and the like beginnings in our culinary careers. She shared with me her simplistic approach to food. I can't agree more. We agree that most are learning from this approach; getting back to the roots of growing and eating locally grown foods. The thing is, this in nothing new in Ireland, in fact they never lost their connection to sustainability. 

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Chefs Rachael Allen and George Hirsch, Adair Manor, Adair Co. Limerick, Ireland However, one topic of discussion is as serious as rugby or politics. I asked just about every person I meet in Ireland which brand of tea they preferred better, Lyons or Barry's. Barry's seemed to hold the lead during our filming. But then upon departure at Irish Customs I was told I was bringing home the wrong brand. They preferred Lyons. I can't be swayed, Barry's fan here.

So in keeping peace let’s drink Irish Coffee, a warming beverage on a chilly evening. Served first to arriving passengers in County Limerick, what is now Shannon International Airport. Ideal served with a slice of Chocolate Torta from George Hirsch Lifestyle. Sláinte! 

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Irish Coffee

Makes one serving

chefgeorgehirsch.com | from George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 ounce Jameson Irish Whiskey

1/2 ounce Baileys Irish Cream

1/2 cup hot strong coffee

Lemon wedge

Sugar to coat glass

Whipped cream

Prepare a sugar-rimmed glass by rubbing a piece of lemon or orange around the rim of a large wine glass. Dip 1/4 inch of the rim of the glass into a plate of sugar, coating the edge.

Place a teaspoon in glass. The spoon will diffuse the heat when hot coffee is poured into the glass. 

Add whiskey and Baileys. Pour coffee into glass over spoon. Remove spoon. Top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Meatballs for Goodness

After all these years, my nana's meatball recipe is still nurturing and comforting. I am delighted to share once again a simple recipe filled with goodness. Thank you nana for teaching me the essentials of a recipe, even those ingredients not listed here. 

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Nana’s Meatballs, as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

Makes 12 Jumbo, 24 large or 40 mini meatballs

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

3 pounds ground beef, 80 / 20 blend; can use combo of beef, pork, and veal

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 sweet onion, chopped fine

2 eggs, cracked and beaten

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 cups day old Italian bread, pulsed into crumbs

1/2 cup chicken broth, to soften bread crumbs (variable amount may have to add more broth just to soften crumbs) 

Fresh ground black pepper

* Note all ingredients should be very cold before blending. 

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In a mixer or by hand mix all ingredients until well blended. Dip hands in ice water before shaping into round balls.

Spray an oven-roasting pan with grease spray.

Use an ice cream and scoop up meatballs; roll by hand until they are shaped round. Do not over handle as to not over warm up meat. Repeat until all meat is used up. Do not over crowd meatballs to make it easier to move them while baking. 

Refrigerate meatballs for at least 30 minutes to chill. Prepare Tomato Sauce below.

Pre heat a large heavy gauge sauté pan to high heat, or if making a large quantity of meatballs brown in a hot oven at 425 degrees F. 

Roast meatballs for five minutes in oven or on stovetop just until they begin to brown. If roasting gently shake pan to move meatballs to turn over, or use a spatula for meatballs if browning in sauté pan. Continue cooking for a few additional minutes (or less if mini) or until meatballs are brown on the outside. Meatballs will not be fully cooked and will continue to cook in tomato sauce. 

Remove meatballs with a spatula and add to gently simmering sauce and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes. 

For the Tomato Sauce:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 

1/2 cup minced sweet onion

6 cloves garlic, minced 

2 (28 ounce) cans crushed San Marzano Tomatoes

2 (6.5 ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 Tablespoon dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon oregano

Fresh ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons each fresh chopped parsley and basil

In a large saucepot sauté add olive oil, onion, and garlic over medium heat until light brown. Stir in crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Season with dried basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, pepper, and half of the parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cooked browned meatballs and top with fresh chopped parsley and basil before serving. 

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Creamy Tomato Soup as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

Join me on GHL Mondays + Fridays Tune-in Create TV 8AM + 2PM

One of the most popular types of comfort food combinations is the soup and sandwich. And, one of the most popular soup/sandwich combinations is tomato soup and grilled cheese. For my Vintage Classics episode on GHL I prepared Creamy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese with farm fresh bread, cured French ham and aged cheddar. For the ultimate tomato soup I combined a mix of fresh ripe San Marzano plum tomatoes and canned San Marzano tomatoes. During peak harvest season when there is a plentiful supply of farm fresh tomatoes available I would use all fresh, but during shoulder seasons I will mix with high quality San Marzano canned tomatoes. 

Once all your ingredients are assembled comfort can be achieved in about thirty minutes. Mmm Mmm Good!!! 

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George’s Creamy Tomato Soup

Makes 6-8 servings

 chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle 

5 large ripe San Marzano Plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 Tablespoons sweet butter

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2-4 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

2- 15 ounce cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes

4 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon each dried thyme, basil

hot sauce, sea salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 cup half-and-half 

Pre heat a large 4 quart soup pot.

Add olive oil, onion, garlic and fresh plum tomatoes. Stir and sweat 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the butter and when melted, then add the flour, sir and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the canned San Marzano tomatoes, stir, and simmer 5 minutes. 

Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, thyme, and dried basil, simmer for 5 minutes.

Add fresh basil and simmer for 5 additional minutes. 

Remove bay leaves and take the soup off the stove. For a creamier soup use a food pulser and puree slightly leaving a few chunks of tomatoes. Return back to stove and bring back to a boil, and add the optional half-and-half. 

Lower heat and simmer 2 minutes.  

Add hot sauce, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Served topped with crunchy croutons and a few drops of olive oil.

Grilled Garlic Shrimp

Know Your Fire Fridays

Itch'n for grill'n? Time to light up the grill and cook up an easy dish. 

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George Hirsch Skewered Garlic Shrimp

Grilled Garlic Shrimp

Makes four servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

12 large Shrimp (size U15) peeled deveined, tail left on, skewer each shrimp through tail and front

2 Tablespoons Olive oil

1 Head

Caramelized garlic

Juice from one lemon

1 Tablespoon honey

3 springs Fresh Rosemary

hot sauce to taste

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Chef George's Grilled Garlic Shrimp Salad

Pre heat grill to a very high heat.

Mix all ingredients for shrimp marinade and pour over shrimp.

Cook shrimp on hot grill and place rosemary sprig on top of shrimp while grilling. Cook two minutes on each side, turning once. Baste the shrimp with any remaining marinade. Do not over cook.

Remove shrimp from grill and serve with grilled vegetables or salad.

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