Two Recipes

Two Recipes

A really old picture of Chef Bella. Sophie's toddler hand flashing the number two.
A really old picture of Chef Bella. Sophie’s toddler hand flashing the number two.

It’s been a while since I did any recipe blogging. I feel like putting on my chef’s hat tonight and jotting down a couple of recipes that have been working for me lately.

First, a local friend asked for my marinara recipe after I brought her a batch while she was recovering after the birth of her newest baby. I keep forgetting to type it up for her and while I’m writing down recipes, I remembered, so I’m just going to record it here. I figure if one person wants it, then maybe someone else will want it too.

Basic Red Sauce

This is a very simple recipe. It’s now my standard method after years of tweaking. It’s one my Sicilian husband likes and some of the kids will eat. And it’s easy to throw together.


olive oil
one large onion, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp fennel
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
splash of red wine (optional)
salt and pepper


1. Sautee onion in olive oil on medium high heat until soft and the edges are slightly browning.

2. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and fennel seeds and stir until you can smell the garlic and fennel blooming.

3. Add tomatoes and rinse out the cans with some red wine (or white if you don’t have any red on hand).

4. Add oregano and basil and turn down to medium low and simmer for a good long time, at least half an hour, an hour is better, two or three hours or more is awesome. The longer the better. Last time I made this sauce I was in a rush and the sauce didn’t simmer long enough and it was watery and bland.

5. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over the pasta of your choice.

I think the fennel and red pepper flakes make this sauce. Sometimes I add some tomato paste right after the onion and garlic and let it roast until it’s nice and brown. If I’m in a hurry and know I can’t simmer for very long, that helps to add a depth of flavor.

Quick Sourdough Brown Bread

This recipe is an adaptation of Charlotte’s Colonial Brown Bread. My kids love it and request it often. It came about because I often have a bunch of sourdough starter that needs to be used because it’s outgrowing the container but I don’t have time to go through the process of baking a true sourdough or even a yeast-enhanced sourdough. This bread is really a soda bread, as you can see. But it’s got a much richer, yeastier taste. I put in a little less sugar, I’m trying to limit how much we use. Sometimes when I add rye I also add a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder to make it a sort of faux-pumpernickel.


1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup rye (or white, or cornmeal, or whatever flour you want, really)
1/3 cup brown sugar (I use either light or dark, whatever’s on hand. I sort of prefer dark though)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk
2 cups sourdough starter 100% hydration (that means that it’s made with equal parts water and flour)


1.Mix dry ingredients well.

2. Stir in sourdough starter and milk.

3. Pour into greased baking pan.

4. Bake for an hour at 350 until a toothpick comes out clean.

5. Enjoy hot out of the oven with butter. Nice to pair with a big pot of soup on a cold day. Works really well as toast too.

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  • I’ve never baked my own bread and am a bit nervous, but really like this recipe.
    Question: where do you get sourdough starter?

  • Gina,

    You can bake it without the sourdough if you follow the link to Charlotte’s original recipe. It’s really yummy and easy and that’s how I made it the first twenty or so times I baked it. I only adapted it to sourdough because I wanted to use up extra starter.

    As to where I get my sourdough, I made it from scratch. You can harvest wild yeast with just flour and water and patience. I wrote about it here. And this page explains the process in detail. Basically, you just add water to flour and let it sit on the counter. Every day you remove half of the mixture and add in more flour and water in a 1:1 ratio of flour to water. The instructions say half a cup, but I hated going through so much flour, so I used much less and it worked fine. Some sites I’ve seen say rye or whole wheat are better because they have some wild yeast already on them.