Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fussili with Homemade Sausage, Chard and Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Homemade sausage! I have had this itch to make home made sausage for a long long time but I could never figure out where I would get Kosher sausage casings nor do I own a sausage maker to fill the casings. It dawned on me though that I could still make sausage and use it for a recipe that required me to de-case them. This revelation together with the fact that I found myself with some ground chicken that I needed to use up equaled the perfect opportunity. Ordinarily I would have preferred to make this with veal or beef but chicken was what I had so chicken it was. I marinated the chicken in the spice mixture for about 24 hours to let the seasoning really permeate into the meat and then used the sausage and some other yummy things like- slow roasted tomatoes- yum! and swiss chard (you knowwww how much I love chard) to make a delicious and relatively simply pasta dish. Of course you don't have to make your own sausage to make this pasta, you can substitute any sausage you have on hand but I felt really accomplished after making my own and I was able to ensure there was no junk and weird animal parts in my sausage. What you should not leave out from this dish are the tomatoes- their sweet acidity just goes so well here and really enhanced the dish. Enjoy!

1 lb Fussili pasta or any short pasta- Penne would be good too
1 lb Sausage (see below)
1 batch oven roasted tomatoes
1 package swiss chard, cleaned and chopped, or 10 oz fresh spinach
2 Tbl olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper

In a large well salted pot, boil the pasta, strain and set aside. In a large saute pan heat 2 Tbl of the olive oil. Add the sausage and break it up with a wooden spatula and let it cook over high heat until just browned. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain off the fat leaving just about 3 Tbl of fat in the pan. Saute the onion and garlic in the pan until the onions are translucent and add the chard. Cook until the chard has just wilted. Add the wine and cook for a minute and then add the broth and bring to a boil. Once its at a boil lower the flame and add the pasta, sausage and tomatoes. You aren't cooking the pasta you are just reheating it and allowing some of the sauce to permeate it. Cook until the sauce has absorbed into the pasta and make sure to season well with salt and pepper. Top with toasted pine nuts and serve!

For the Sausage:
1 lb ground  chicken thighs
1 Tbl crushed garlic
2 tsp harissa
1 tsp ground fennel
1 Tbl sweet paprika
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbl red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Mix all together and refrigerate overnight so the flavors can develop.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rainbow Pudding Trifle

I made this trifle so long ago that I forgot all about it and how yummy it was. It was the featured dessert at our anniversary dinner and it was a big hit (for a few days as you can see from the size of it) and sooooo simple to make. I replicated this dessert in mini for some company the next week and it really is impressive. I originally planned to make this with just strawberries but while I was shopping I saw beautiful persimmons and kiwis right next to them and I thought this would be so much prettier with three colors than with one. For the cake, I made a traditional pound cake but I have no idea what recipe I used anymore. You can use storebought pound cake or any pound cake or yellow cake recipe that you love. This trifle was originally made pareve but when I made it for company I made it dairy with real whip cream and dairy vanilla pudding. Of course, there is no comparison between the dairy and pareve versions but but that is not saying much because this pareve trifle is deeeelish. Enjoy!

1 recipe pound cake or yellow cake, cubed
2 pints strawberries, sliced
3 ripe persimmons, diced
3 kiwis, chopped
3 cups whipped cream or whipped topping
1 recipe vanilla pudding (see below)

Place the kiwis at the bottom of a trifle bowl. Top with pudding to cover and a layer of cubed pound cake. Add the persimmons and repeat the layer adding a layer of whipped cream if desired. Make the final layer with the strawberries and top the whole trifle with whipped cream. 

For the vanilla pudding:
3/4 cups sugar
3 Tbl cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups milk, or rice milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 Tbl margarine or butter
1 1/4 tsp vanilla 

In a sauce pan combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add milk gradually while stirring. Cook over medium heat till bubbly and cook another two minutes constantly stirring and then remove from heat.  Add a little hot mixuture into the beaten eggs to temper them and then immediately add yolks to sauce pan. Cook two more minutes stirring the whole time. Mixture will be thick and glossy. Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup

This soup was made during winter weather a couple of weeks ago that was frightful. The wind howled day and night, the rain wouldn't let up and the cold was biting. I thought that as in previous winters that it would only last a day or two but it carried on for the better part of two weeks and while I was grateful for the rain I was desperate for some sun. It was in the midst of this cold that I decided I needed to make a thick and delicious soup to keep us warm all week and as I perused the veggies in the supermarket the beautiful cauliflowers were calling my name. The soup is really simple in that you don't need any fancy ingredients, the only thing that takes a little extra time is roasting the cauliflower which I think is essential as the roasting brings out its sweetness and flavor. I served it to a rain beaten and just drenched crowd and the compliments came pouring in. Then, because I made so much of it, I got to enjoy it the rest of the week and didn't get sick of it once (an accomplishment for me)! Enjoy!

3 Tbl olive oil
2 head cauliflower, broken into big florets
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 large leeks, cleaned and sliced
3Tbl olive oil
1 large carrot, chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/3 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh dill
12 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 400. On a baking tray spread out the cauliflower with the garlic cloves and toss with 3 Tbl olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast for about 25 minutes until the cauliflower has some color on it and the garlic is tender. In a stock pot, saute the leeks in the oil until tender. Add the carrot, cauliflower, the garlic (squeezed from the skin) and the potatoes. Add the stock and season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Once the soup is at a boil, add the parsley and dill and season with salt and pepper. Cook the soup for about 45 minutes until all the veggies are tender. Puree with an immersion blender, check for seasoning and serve!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cheesy Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

These stuffed mushrooms were lunch one day after I came home with gorgeous Portabella's from the market. Though in the picture they kind of look like some weird croquettet, what lies beneath that golden layer of cheese is more oozing cheese flavored with basil and tomato and garlic and tasting delicious.If you don't like pesto you can flavor your filling with something else but this is just what I happened to have on hand and the result sort of tasted like a Portabella lasagna and we loved it. Nothing beats the meatiness and flavor of Portabellas in my book and when I see them I MUST buy them and then I spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking up how to devour them. This preparation was easy enough and really hit the spot. Enjoy! 

6 portabella caps
1 Tbl olive oil
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 Tbl basil pesto
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup mixed Mozzarella and Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400. Brush the caps with olive oil and place on a tray. In a bowl mix the ricotta, pesto, tomato, garlic and 1/2 of the cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper and stuff the mixture into each cap. Top each one with the rest of the cheese and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes until the cheese is golden.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Panko Parmesan Crusted Salmon

My new favorite way to eat salmon!! I don't actually get to eat salmon that often because its pretty expensive and when I do I usually just bake it with some seasoning and its good enough for me. But this may be my new go to salmon recipe especially when I have company. It's super flavorful, has contrast of textures because of the crunch of the coating and has a mild cheese flavor from the Parm and best of all, served whole it  really makes quite the impression without that much effort involved. The Dijon mustard adds a little sharpness that I really like but if it's too strong for you you can substitute a milder mustard and you can use a light mayo to cut back on calories. Serve this at your next dairy meal and it's guaranteed to be a hit!

1 side of salmon, about 2 lbs
1 1/2 Tbl Mayonnaise
1 Tbl Dijon Mustard
1 Cup Panko 
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
2 Tbl chopped fresh dill
2 Tbl dried parsley
1 Tbl granulated garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Rinse the salmon well and lay it on a baking sheet. Mix the mayo and mustard and spread it thinly over the salmon. Combine the panko, cheese, herbs and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Top the salmon with the crumbs pressing down a little so they stick the to the mayo mixture. Spray the top lightly with cooking spray or olive oil mist and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the center is just firm to the touch.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Salmon Pappardelle with Lemon Cream Sauce

Sometimes I make a dish that makes me want to hug myself in gratitude. This is one such dish. I have always loved the combination of salmon with pasta in cream sauce, it is my one exception where I will eat salmon warm because otherwise I must have my salmon cold. I have actually been dreaming about making this for probably a couple of years (I dream so big, don't I?) but I never have salmon around so I never get to make it. Well, this week I had some leftover baked salmon (by leftover I mean that I squirreled some away from the table to make sure I had enough to make my dream a reality) and I was ready to cook. I knew I was going to make a cream sauce but last minute I had a stroke of genius where I decided that a lemon cream sauce would go so well considering how well lemon goes with fish and how much I'm obsessed with lemons (we still haven't discussed that yet but I don't want to scare anyone.) The combination was DIVINE- just enough lemon flavor that it truly enhanced the salmon and gave the pasta sauce that little something extra. I threw blanched broccoli in for some color, crunch and vegetable factor not really thinking it would add that much but it really did. All together it was just such a great combination and a fantastically good meal. I highly reccomend using a thick pasta like a fettuccine, tagliatelle or papperdelle with this because the thickness holds up really well to the cream sauce but in a pinch you can use spaghetti. Enjoy!

1 lb. Papperdelle (you can also use Fettuccine, Tagliatelle or any long pasta)
2 Salmon fillet (or 2 cups leftover salmon)
1 small head broccoli, broken into florets
3 Tbl butter
1 cup light cream
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3 Tbl fresh lemon juice
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Season the salmon with salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 350 for about 12 minutes or until done. Remove and cool. Once the salmon is cool, cut into cubes. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the broccoli for just 2 minutes, strain leaving the water in the pot and run the broccoli under cold water to stop the cooking. Cook the pasta in the water from the broccoli until just al-dente. Meanwhile in a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the cream and lemon zest. Let the cream simmer for 5 minutes while whisking it until it thickens. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, parmesan, nutmeg, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Mix the sauce with the pasta and toss in the salmon and broccoli. Serve with another squeeze of lemon juiced over it.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Strawberry Muffins with White Chocolate Glaze

You can just drool from the title, no? Ripe strawberries in a light vanilla batter baked and then topped with a white chocolate glaze- HECK YES! As usual I made these because I had lots of strawberries that were a day or so away from going south so I whipped up a batch of these cuties. Upon tasting them though, while they had lots of strawberry flavor I found them to be not sweet enough for my tastes so instead of upping the sugar in the actual muffin I topped it with a white chocolate glaze. Together they taste perfect- strawberries and chocolate are just a natural and personally I actually like white chocolate with strawberries better than milk chocolate. Leave out the glaze for a slightly less sweet muffin and instead just top with a little dusting of confectioners sugar. Although I made these dairy they can totally be adapted to pareve- just substitute rice milk for the milk and use pareve white chocolate chips for the glaze and they will still be delicious. Enjoy!

3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk or rice milk
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup strawberry apple sauce (or just add another 1/4 cup oil)
4 cups chopped strawberries.

Clean and chop the strawberries. Using a masher or a fork crush some of them to release some of their juice. Set aside. Combine the oil, milk, apple sauce and eggs and whatever juice there is from the strawberries and mix well. Combine all the dry ingredients, mix well and toss in the strawberries. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. DO NOT OVER MIX. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and pour the batter into the cups. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes for mini muffins and 25 minutes for bigger muffins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool slightly, but drizzle glaze while they are still warm.

For the Glaze:
 3 oz or 85 grams of white chocolate or white chocolate chips
2 Tbl  light corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp water

Melt the chocolate with the corn syrup and water over a double boiler or in the microwave mixing carefully to make sure it doesn't burn. Keep melting and mixing until you reach the desired glazing consistency. The mixture shouldn't be too thin- it should be thick enough that it can be drizzled.