Not much of a post this week – just a quick snapshot and link.
Chopped romaine with blanched petit green beans, roasted hazelnuts, cubed leftover roast chicken breast and some chèvre. Tied together beautifully with this blueberry vinaigrette (although I added a tsp. of toasted hazelnut oil)
Tender crumb, full of chewy cranberry, tender pistachios and orange-y goodness. Made with the usual suspects (except the white chocolate – it didn’t make it in.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line your muffin tins. Get out your ½ cup scoop and set it in a large glass of hot water. If you don’t have a scoop, a pair of soup spoons will do just dandy. Sift your dry ingredients on to a parchment sheet or flexible cutting board (to be able to easily add it to the wet later.)
Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs.
Then the vanilla, zest, pumpkin, and buttermilk.
Next the cranberries and pistachios.
Finally, stir in the flour mixture to just barely mix. Scoop the batter into the muffin liners, being sure to swirl the scoop (or spoons, use one to scoop the other to scrape the batter into the liner) in the hot water before each scoop.
Bake 25-30 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test.
Creamy goat cheese, earthy sweet beets and crunchy bitter escarole topped with a strong vinaigrette is one of my favorite salads.
First up – the beets. Peeled, cut into 8ths. Mixed with some olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper and herbes de Provence.
I roasted them for 45-60 minutes at 375, with a parchment hat. That probably has a technical chef name for it, but I don’t know what that is. I still had to check halfway through and add some water. (When are they done? They’re like potatoes – test ’em with a fork.) When they’re done, they’re hard to resist – little earthy bites of candy.
While they cooled, I made the dressing: Mix a teaspoon of good dijon mustard, a pressed garlic clove, salt, pepper and a 1/2tsp of sugar with 1/4 c. good balsamic vinegar. Then, slowly drizzle in about 1/2c. good olive oil until you get a nice thick emulsion.
Alrighty, salad time! I chopped up the escarole and sliced some medallions of chèvre. Next come those cooled beets and a drizzle of dressing and it’s time to eat! This is also really good with some added hard boiled eggs, or chicken. We’ve even skipped the goat cheese and used cubes of the apricot stilton from Trader Joe’s. Deelish!
So, please forgive me but this is more a story of what I tried than an actual recipe. It must be the cooling weather but I am obsessing on shepherd’s pie and pot pie and pasties. So I was browsing the interwebs and its plethora of awesome food blogs and came away with general idea: a pasty is pie crust filled with meat onion and potato, or more. So after a grocery store run, I set off.
First up? The crust. Just a double batch of Martha’s pâte brisée, only going with half lard/half butter for the fat.
Only thing is, the lard is WAY softer than the butter, so with the second round in the cuisinart I whirred the butter several times before adding the lard.
I added the cold water by hand, and then divided the dough in to 9 balls, wrapped ’em in wax paper, flattened them and put them in the fridge for a couple hours.
Next up, the filling. Not even remotely traditional. I diced one celery stalk, half an onion, one large russet potatoe, two medium carrots and sliced 4 oz of button mushrooms. Then, browned the lean (10%) ground beef and added the veg until they were halfway cooked.
I let that cool in ice box, and took a little nap. A couple hours later, it was assembly time. I heated the oven to convection 400*. And rolled out, then filled the dough.
Sealed those mofo’s up.
Brushed them with an egg wash.
And baked them for forty minutes. At the halfway point, I flipped the trays. Meanwhile, I started the gravy. I had put aside about half a cup of the filling, and put that in a saute pan with the other half of the onion, sliced in to thin half-moons. I cooked them with about a teaspoon of butter on low for about thirty minutes, until they were browned and tender and almost falling apart. Here I debated – just use a flour slurry, or go for the Bisto? I went with the bisto. Stirred that in and cooked until thickened. Then, after I tasted it, I realized it needed some more flavor, so I added some beef broth base. Then we were done.
These are tasty. But very, very rich. As in, now I want to go take another nap rich.
Fresh cranberries. I LOVE this time of year, in part because of the fresh cranberries. And cranberry and orange? Heaven in my book, absolute heaven!
I thought I’d try a scone with fresh cranberry instead of the treacly sweet dried kind, and some orange. Google led me to our Lady of Excellence and Butter, Ina Garten. These are delicious, and on the cakey side more than the biscuity side. I’m too lazy for a round cutter, so wedged discs it was for me – and I like to brush on my glaze while the scones are still hot – it dries as a pretty shine, and keeps them from drying out if you’re planning to take your sconage to your co-workers the next day.
3 sticks of butter (relax - this makes A LOT of scones)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. heavy cream
1 1/4 c. chopped fresh cranberries
For the glaze
1 Tbsp. orange zest
1/4 fresh orange juice
2 c. powdered sugar
Crystal sugar for the top.
For the orange honey butter
6 Tbsp soft unsalted butter
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp. orange zest.
Preheat oven to 375*. Line two cookie trays with parchment.
Cube the butter and stick it in the freezer. Whir the dry ingredients and the orange zest in the bowl of your food processor. Add in the super cold butter and whir til it looks like crumbs. (Ten or twelve pulses). Put in to a big mixing bowl.
Mix the eggs, vanilla and cream. Add that and the chopped cranberries and gently fold the dough together. Divide the dough in to 3rds, and for each third gently roll it in to a ball, then roll it to a disk about 7" across. slice in to 8 wedges. Repeat for the other two, and place them on the cookie trays.
Bake about 20-25 minutes. They should be golden brown and sound hollow when thunked. While they're baking, mix together the glaze. It should be about the consistency of maple syrup.
When you remove the scones from the oven, let them cool 5 minutes. Then use a pastry brush and coat them - top, sides and all. While the glaze is still moist, sprinkle with the chunky sparkly sugar.
Mix all the ingredients for the honey butter, and serve it with the scones.
So, planning the menu this week I intended to make Budget Bytes’ super amazing lentil and sausage stew. Only it was a hellacious day. And when I got home, these bewitching comfort-in-starchy-skins were staring at me from their basket above the counter. I answered their Siren’s song, dammit. The base of this perverted autumn classic is the sausage and mire poix with a veg stock/maizena sauce, a layer of frozen chopped spinach, and then the topping with those luscious spud sirens smooshed to submission with butter, olive oil, parsley, garlic salt and chopped kalamata olives. Screw you, Tuesday. This is delicious.
Torta di Pastore (Shepherd's Pie)
An italian sausage and chickpea base, layer of chopped spinich and luscious kalamata parsley mashed potatoes.
2 tsp Penzey's Tuscan sunset (or just Italian Seasoning)
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp veg stock base
1 tsp corn starch
1 c water
1/2 c. chopped parsley
¾ c chopped frozen spinach
5 potatoes, mashed with
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 - 1/2 c. (almond) milk
garlic salt & pepper
¼ c chopped kalamata olives
¼ c minced parsley
Make your mashed potatoes, stirring in the olives and parsley last.
Preheat oven to 375*. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet on medium high. Add the italian sausage, and cook until no pink remains. (Drain oil here if necessary). Add the chopped vegetables, tomato paste and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring occasionally for five minutes. Add the garbanzos, herbs and fennel. Mix the water, corn starch and veg stock base and stir in to the pan, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until sauce is thickened. Stir in the chopped parsley and remove the pan from the heat.
Transfer filling to a 9'x9" square pan. Sprinkle with the frozen chopped spinach. Then layer on the mashed potatoes. (Or pipe them on with an 8B French star tip if you are a total spaz like me.) Sprinkle with some grated pecorino romano or the like. Slide in the oven, bake 50 - 60 minutes, until the potatoes are beautifully browned.
We are so lucky to have this amazing Italian deli and food shop in town, Roma Imports. They make their own sauces, sausages, desserts, and carry salume and pasta like that reginette in the photo that we otherwise just would not find here.
We are in love with their Count Dracula sausage, and it is my favorite to use when making what my Italian-American friends call “gravy” (and what the rest of us call pasta sauce.) It is a beautiful thing, bursting with juicy porky goodness, seasoned with lots of hot pepper and garlic. YUM!
Since we don’t do the whole primo/secondo thing at our house, we like to slice the sausage in the sauce after it’s cooked. It serves more that way, I think. But hey, I’m a cheap ass. Ask my husband.
Count Dracula's Pasta Dinner
Spicy sausage tomato sauce served with reginette noodles, whose wavy edges really hold the sauce.
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with onion and garlic
1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
3 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 medium white onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp. Penzey's Tuscan Sunset seasoning (or plain old Italian seasoning, or1 1/2 tsp each dried: marjoram, basil, oregano, and 1 tsp rosemary)
1 Tsp. Fennel seeds
1/3 bottle soft red wine (TJ's 3-buck-chuck Syrah or Merlot, for example)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 pounds long pasta (spaghetti, reginette, linguini, whatever floats your boat)
Preheat the oven to 350*. Get out your big enameled dutch oven, or your crock pot. Open the canned whole tomatoes, dump them in and smoosh them with your clean hands (or your potato masher if you're a big wimp). Dump in the other tomatoes and sauce, and add the garlic and herbs. Set aside.
Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium. Add the olive oil and the veggies and sauté until they begin to soften. Add them to the sauce. Now turn up the heat to medium high and brown the sausages on all sides. When they are on their last side, pour the wine over them and cook it down for just a couple minutes while you deglaze the bottom of the pan. Toss all that in to the sauce. Stir. Cover and put in the oven (or the crock pot on high) for two and half to three hours. Go past that at your own risk (the tomato starts to taste burn-y) or else have that oven at 300* from the get-go and cross your fingers.
About half an hour before you're ready to have dinner, put on the pasta pot and follow the package directions to cook the noodles of your choice. While the water is heating, take the dutch oven out of the oven and remove the sausages to a plate to cool a few minutes. While they cool, take your stick blender or your potato masher and puree the sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust any seasoning (need more garlic? more herbs? more hot pepper? Possibly salt?) Once they're cool enough to handle, slice them or dice them and put them back in the sauce. Or, leave them whole. Since we don't do the whole primo/secundo thing at our house, I like to dice them up so I get yummy sausage in every bite.
When your pasta is done (don't overcook it!!), reserve about half a cup of the pasta water before you drain it. Return the pasta to the pasta pot, and put in a couple cups of the sauce and the pasta water. Stir it all together. Serve, garnished with a good freshly grated pecorino romano and red pepper flakes, and extra sauce on the side.
This sauce is also really good over polenta. It freezes beautifully, too.
Tried this out this week after seeing the White On Rice post featured on Tastespotting. The recipe’s here – it is exquisite. Try it. I used buttermilk instead of sour cream, and an 8 inch pan with a parchment collar (I wanted it taller), and went chiffon-style on the batter. But this is truly one of the best cakes I have ever had. Office mates LOVED it!
Had to make one for work and one for home, or I’d never hear the end of it.
One of the ladies at work made her own Sunday for a family breakfast, and it was huge hit there, too. YUM!!
Bill is full of catchy little sayings – “What’s the word, hummingbird?” and “Don’t let your meat loaf.” They make me groan and laugh at the same time. He also decided we should call these duchess potatoes, “tater titties”. Despite all this I love him, Pa. And I’d rather have duchess potatoes than tots any day.
That being said, meatloaf is a popular dish at our house. For dinner and then sandwiches the next day (With mayonnaise -something else Bill taught me. I always thought ketchup was best, but I was wrong!)
We’re partial to ground turkey in our house – the old beef/pork combo is just too rich for us.
Want to try it?
Meat Loaf, Don't Let Your
Easy turkey meatloaf with a spicy sweet tomato glaze, served with a chunky tomato sauce.
(Ok, ok - I just totally made up those glaze measurements because I just squirt them both on and then smear them about.)
For the sauce
1 14oz can diced tomatoes with onion, celery & bell pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1&1/2 tsp worsteshire sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp ginger powder (or better yet, a quarter-size piece of candied ginger slice)
Preheat oven to 375*. Line a small cookie sheet with silver foil and spritz it with non-stick spray.
Grate the onion in the mixing bowl. Chop the pepper, add to bowl along with the egg and bread crumbs. Mix with a fork. Add the ground turkey. Mix gently with your hands. In the bowl, form the mixture in to a general loaf shape. Invert the bowl on to the prepared cooking sheet and touch up the loaf shape.
Squeeze the ketchup and sriracha on to the loaf, and using your fingers since they're already dirty, mix the two sauces and spread them evenly on the top, ends and sides of the loaf. Slide a meat thermometer in to that bad boy and in to the oven he goes. Should be done (165* ) in about 35-40 minutes.
Let it rest for five minutes before serving.
For the sauce
Once the loaf is in the oven, put all the sauce ingredients in a sauce pan on low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meatloaf is done. Serve with the slices.
You could cook this in a loaf pan, but cooking it "open style" on the cookie tray makes for that yummy crust and glaze on three sides of the loaf instead of just the top.
Be careful with your ground turkey selection - read those nutrition labels because some can be 80/20. If you're going that route, may as well do a ground beef meat loaf!