Tomato and Fennel Stewed Italian Turkey Sausages

Stewed SausagesThe first time I made this recipe was a few months back.  It was sooo good, and when I went to find it on my blog to replicate it, I realized I had never posted it!  Alas, here it is.  This stew is great as is, over rice, or over quinoa.  Also, once you have eaten all the sausages out of it, just throw the remaining sauce in a Ziplock and freeze it for the next time you make a pot of pasta and need something delicious to mix in.  This was adapted from a recipe in Food & Wine.  My second time making it I added kale, and thought it added a lot of yum to the stew so I included it here.  Feel free to leave it out if you don’t have it or want it, or replace it with another sturdy green, leafy veggie that holds up to cooking.

(Note – sorry for the subpar photos these past two posts.  My sister “borrowed” our camera and has yet to, ahem, return it.  No, just kidding.  She really did borrow it one week ago, but we haven’t seen each other yet so she is still taking care of it.)

Here’s what you need:

12-15 Italian turkey sausages (you can do sweet or hot depending on your preference; I have always done Jennie-O turkey sausages, but you could do pork or chicken if you prefer)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, diced

3 bulbs fennel, greens trimmed, washed and chopped into large chunks

1 28-oz can San Marzano whole tomatoes

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 cup white wine

3 dried chiles de arbol (or you can skip this if you don’t want any heat)

1 jar or can of prepared tomato sauce (Trader Joe’s arrabiatta is really good in here)

2-4 large handfuls chopped Tuscan kale, ribs removed

(Oh, and did I mention this is a pretty easy, and flavorful recipe?)

Here’s what you do:

1.  Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot (I used my large Le Creuset).  Brown all the sausages and transfer to a plate.  (You may have to do them in batches, and they definitely won’t be cooked through yet.)

2.  Add the fennel to the pot and cook until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.  Then, add the onion and garlic (and a little more olive oil if needed) and continue to cook until the onion softens.

3.  Add the San Marzano tomatoes by squishing them with your hands into the pot.  Pour in the liquid from the can.  Add the fennel seeds, wine and chiles.  Stir it all together.

4.  Nestle the sausages into the tomato/fennel mixture, then pour the other can/jar of sauce on top.  Press the kale on top of that and cover the pot.  Cook for about 45 minutes at a medium simmer covered (moving the sausages around occasionally if you want).  Remove the lid, cook another 5-10 minutes, and eat.

Enjoy!Stewed Sausages

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Indian Spinach Saag

Spinach Saag Patrick and I are on a healthy eating kick, so I’ve been trying to put together a couple of tasty dishes on Sundays that we can eat throughout the week.  Spinach has been a popular, repeat ingredient.  Last weekend I made a spinach pie, which was tasty, but was nowhere near as good as the spinach dish Arava Talve made for Passover that I was trying to emulate.  Alas, it won’t make the blog.  This week, Indian food sounded good, so I made Spinach Saag, a flavorful dish of chopped spinach.  It’s usually made with chunks of paneer, an Indian cheese, but I made mine simple and filled it out with some plain yogurt.  Here’s the recipe!

Here’s what you need:

1 medium onion, diced

2 tablespoons butter, divided

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons ginger, minced

1/2 teaspoon each of ground turmeric, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, and garam masala

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 pounds baby spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped

1 cup plain Greek yogurt (you can do lowfat – I did full fat because that’s what I had)

1 teaspoon salt

Here’s what you do:

A tip:  I’m not usually one to cut up and measure out all of my ingredients beforehand.  I usually chop as I go.  But with this recipe, and the short amounts of time the various ingredients end up in the pan, it made more sense to prep everything except the spinach before I turned on the heat.

1.  Melt one tablespoon butter in a heavy pot (I used my Le Creuset).  Add the onion and cook until softened over medium-high heat, about 7 minutes.

2.  Add another half tablespoon butter and the garlic.  Cook until the garlic softens and becomes fragrant, another 3-5 minutes.

3.  Add the rest of the butter, the minced ginger and the spices.  Stir into a paste and allow the flavors to meld and the ginger to cook, about 3 minutes.

4.  Working on batches, add handfuls of the chopped spinach to the pot and allow it to wilt.  I did this by adding a few handfuls, putting on the lid, waiting a couple of minutes, then adding a couple more handfuls and stirring the cooked stuff to the top.

5.  Once all the spinach is cooked, uncover and cook another 5 minutes to let all the flavors meld.

6.  Remove from the heat.  Mix in the yogurt and salt.  Enjoy today or let it sit overnight and allow the flavors to marinate!Spinach Saag

 

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Easy Shrimp Scampi

Simple Shrimp ScampiFor Valentine’s Day, Patrick and I asked Grandma and Grandpa if they were “free” for dinner.  Grandma said of course, and could we please incorporate shrimp or fish into anything we ate – regardless of the cuisine – at Grandpa’s request.

Grandpa’s response was too good to paraphrase, so here it is:We are not free, but we are reasonableWith that said, I knew I had to make a meal to remember.  I had never cooked shrimp before, so I pulled out my Cook’s Illustrated cookbook, did some research, and learned the ways to make shrimp taste the best.  This required Patrick and I to take a trip to the Santa Monica Seafood Market and to peel and de-vein 2 pounds of shrimp.  Despite the bit of work, the outcome was so delicious, and Grandpa liked the shrimp so much I wasn’t sure he would even share with my Dad, his own son.Simple Shrimp Scampi

Here’s what you need:

2 pounds extra large shrimp (about 21-25/pound), with their shells on, either frozen, or fresh/thawed at a place you trust

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons butter, divided into 1 and 2 tablespoon pats

4-6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dry vermouth

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons chopped parsley

Here’s what you do:

1.  First, a few tips on what I learned in my shrimp research.

(a) Shrimp is almost never sold “fresh.”  Rather it is caught, frozen, and then sold frozen or defrosted.  If the market isn’t known for fish, buy them frozen and defrost yourself.  If it’s a trustworthy place (e.g., Whole Foods, a fish market), then buying pre-defrosted is fine.

(b) Shrimp frozen with the shells on fare better than shrimp frozen without the shells.  Apparently it affects the texture.  That’s not to say that frozen, shelled shrimp wouldn’t be great, but if you want creme-de-la-crustacean, get them with shells on.

(c) When de-veining shrimp, you are actually just removing their intestines.  But they are small, so it isn’t too gross.  You will find these on the shrimps’ backs.  Simply cut a shallow slit in the back, put the knife under the vein, and pull out.  Patrick and I also actually removed the vein running through the belly of the shrimp too, using the same technique.  Not sure this was necessary, but we did it anyway.  To see how it’s done, I recommend watching a YouTube video on shelling and de-veining shrimp.

(d) Apparently stores use all different names for different types of shrimp.  Large, jumbo, extra large, etc.  So, the key to what to buy isn’t the name of the shrimp, but how many there are in a pound.  This recipe called for extra large shrimp, which, by Cook’s Illustrated standards, meant 21-25 per pound.  So best to figure out the number of shrimp per pound and go from there.

2.  Okay, let’s get cooking.  First, you need to prepare your shrimp.  If they aren’t defrosted, defrost them.  Then, remove the shells, the tails, and de-vein your shrimp.  Set them aside when you are done.

3.  Prepare the rest of your ingredients because the cooking part goes really fast and the shrimp will literally be ready to eat in minutes.  Mince your garlic, squeeze your lemon and add the vermouth to the juice, chop your parsley.

4.  Now, cooking the shrimp.  Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet until smoking.  Add half of the shrimp, cook until just opaque, about 1-2 minutes, and remove from the heat.  Repeat with the second pound of shrimp and another tablespoon of olive oil, and add to the bowl with the other cooked shrimp.

5.  Return empty skillet to medium-low heat.  Melt one tablespoon butter and add the garlic.  Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.

6.  Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice and vermouth, and stir well.  Turn the heat back to low, add last two tablespoons butter and chopped parsley, and stir well to combine and melt.

7.  Return cooked shrimp to the pan, and allow to cook in the juice for another minute or two.  Serve immediately and enjoy!Simple Shrimp Scampi

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2-Bean Chili Mac & Cheese

Baked Chili Mac & CheeseDoesn’t the title just sound like heaven in a bowl?  What’s better than some tasty chili or a creamy bowl of mac and cheese?  How about both put together!

This week, Britt and I decided to cook dinner for the family (although for a number of reasons, I ended up cooking with my sous chef, Freddy Lamb Lowenstein, who was essential in the tasting part of the process).

We thumbed through the newest Mollie Katzen book and stumbled upon a series of mac and cheese recipes.  One was called chili mac and cheese, and seemed like the perfect combination of protein and deliciousness.  The following recipe is adapted from The Heart Of The Plate.  I wasn’t cooking in my own kitchen, so the pictures are all Instagrammed.  They should convey the amazingness.Chili Mac

Here’s what you need:

1 pound macaroni (or other similar, small shape of pasta, like mini shells)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large brown onion (or red or white), diced

2 chili peppers (I did one pasilla and one anaheim), diced

4-5 cloves of garlic, finely diced

3-4 scallions, cut small

2 ears of corn, kernels removed

3 tablespoons chili powder

3 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

4 cups milk (I used 2%, but you could do 1% or whole)

3 tablespoons unbleached flour

1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

12 oz sharp cheddar, shredded

1 cup shredded or grated Parmesan

5 teaspoons salt

Here’s what you do:

1.  Boil water and cook the pasta until just al dente (I used the lower range of cooking time on the box).  Drain the pasta, toss with a little olive oil to keep from sticking and set aside.

2.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a large baking dish (about 9 x 13) with cooking spray.  (If you don’t have a large pan, you can do two smaller ones – that’s what we did.)

3.  Prep the ingredients:  Get all of your veggies ready, and grate your cheese.  Put the onions in one bowl.  Put the garlic, chili peppers, scallion, corn and spices (excluding salt) in another bowl.  Measure out your flour.  Microwave your milk until hot and steaming.  Mine took about 4 minutes.

4.  Add two tablespoons olive oil to a large pot (I used the one we cooked the pasta in).  Add the onion and cook over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the veggie/spice bowl of stuff and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the veggies soften.

5.  Turn the heat to low, add the flour and stir until you get a paste, about 15 seconds.  Drizzle in the hot milk, stirring constantly.  Continue stirring the mixture until it thickens, about 2-3 minutes.

6.  Add half of the cheddar and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan to the milk mixture.  Stir until the cheese is melted and smooth.

7.  Remove the cheese mixture from the heat, and gently stir in the pasta.  Add the beans and salt, and stir just to combine.

8.  Pour the pasta into the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining shredded cheddar and Parmesan.

9.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes until hot and bubbly.  You can finish it under the broiler for a minute or two if you want it a little crispy on top.  Serve immediately.  (We had ours with Italian turkey sausages for the meat eaters, sliced into pieces and sprinkled on top, and it was delicious.)  The pasta will serve 4-6 for a full meal.

Enjoy!Bowl of Chili Mac with Sausage

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Rugelach

Rugelach PinwheelsBelow is a recipe for the most delicious cookies you will ever taste.  I have to admit, they take a bit of work.  But even though the first time I made them, I told Patrick I wasn’t sure the effort was worth it, everyone proved me wrong.Making Rugelach

Grandma said they were amazing.  She also stopped eating the ones I gave her because Grandpa liked them so much she didn’t want to take them away.  Ashley couldn’t walk away from her fridge without eating two or three.  Patrick was obsessed with them – raw, cooked, hot, cold.  Nicki and Matt separately texted me to say they were so good.

I’m glad I tried to make these twice, so I could give you way better direction on how to make these without getting as frustrated as I was the first time.  This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen.Nuts on Dough

Here’s what you need (and FYI – I like to make a double recipe, but you can of course just cut this in half):

For the doubled batch of dough:

4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

2 8-oz packages cream cheese

1/2 cup (1/4 cup x 2) white sugar

4 cups (2 cups x 2) all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon (1/4 tsp x 2) salt

For the doubled filling:

1.5 jars of jam (I did half raspberry and half apricot the first time around, but ran out and threw some strawberry in the second time around – rasp and apricot are the most traditional flavors)

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups dried fruit, finely chopped (I did currants and dates the first time, about half and half; second time I did raisins and dates, about 2/3 raisins and 1/3 dates – both combos were great – raisins are the most traditional filling)

2 cups finely chopped nuts (I did a combo of pecans and walnuts both times -those are the most traditional fillings)

Here’s what you do:

1.  The night before, or a few hours before you actually want to prepare and bake the cookies, prep the dough and the filling:

– For the dough:  Make one batch of dough at a time.

  • In a food processor, combine the 2 sticks of butter at room temperature cut into small pieces with one package of cream cheese until creamy.  Don’t worry that the combo will be pretty sticky at first.  Just pulse together, open the food processor, push the sticky cream cheese down, and continue in this fashion until smooth and creamy.
  • With the food processor running, slowly add 1/4 cup sugar until combined.
  • Open the food processor, add 2 cups of flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Close, and pulse until a ball of dough forms.
  • Spread out two pieces of plastic wrap, and put half of the dough in each.  Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least two hours.
  • Repeat for the second batch of dough.

– For the filling:  Keep your food processor out and just rinse away and dough residue.  In a large bowl, mix together the sugars and cinnamon.  In the food processor, pulse the dried fruit until chopped up.  Add to the cinn/sugar mixture.  Again in the food processor, pulse the nuts until finely chopped.  Stir into the cinn/sugar/fruit mixture.  Cover and set aside until you are ready to assemble and bake the cookies.

2.  Prepping the cookie rolls:  Remove your dough from the fridge one at a time.  Flour a flat surface and place the dough on the surface.  Sprinkle a bit more flour on the top.  Then using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a “rectangular” shape about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  I will say now this is the most frustrating part, so just go with it.  Keep flipping the dough.  Keep adding flour to prevent sticking.  If it cracks, just smash it back together.  If it doesn’t have nice edges, just grab a piece of dough, stick it on top and roll some more.Rugelach Dough

3.  Once the dough is rolled out, spread enough jam on the dough to cover it in a thin layer.  This probably takes about 1/2 a cup or so.  You can combine flavors or do one set one flavor and one set another.Jam Spread On Dough

4.  On top of the jam, sprinkle about one-fourth of the nut/fruit/sugar mixture.  Then, on the long end, roll the dough into a pinwheel as tightly as you can.  Wrap the log in the plastic wrap the dough was wrapped in (or a new piece) and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Repeat with the other three pieces of dough, jam, and filling.  Try to save some of the sugary residue of the filling for baking.Nut Mixture on Dough

5.  Baking the cookies:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  On a baking pan, spread out a sheet of parchment paper.  Spray it with non-stick cooking spray.  Then sprinkle some of the remaining cinn/sugar onto the baking pan (or if you used it up, just a bit more sugar).

6.  One at a time, remove the logs from the fridge and cut into 1/4 inch circles.  Arrange on the pan with a bit of space between each cookie, and bake 15-25 minutes, until the tops/edges are slightly golden.  (The thinner the cookies, the less baking time needed – I recommend checking them at 17 mins to see if they need more time or not.)Cut Up Rugelach

7.  When the cookies are done, remove immediately to a nonstick sprayed cooling rack.  (If you wait to remove, they stick.  Don’t worry if they get a little misshapen when you remove.  The most important part is the taste.)  Repeat with the remaining logs until all cookies are baked.  Allow to cool (if you can) and then enjoy!  Store in airtight containers for up to two weeks, or freeze.  Rugelach

Enjoy!

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Tequila-Lime Linguine (CPK-Style-ish)

Tequila Lime LinguineThe LA Times includes a great column in the food section called Culinary SOS.  People from Southern California write in about tasty dishes they ate at restaurants in California and elsewhere.  The LA Times then posts the recipes for all to try.  Since Patrick has been back, we have been cooking a lot, and this has always been one of those dishes I can’t stay away from.  In fact, Irene, my college roommate, turned me on to this dish as she used to work at CPK in high school and this was one of her favorites.  My recipe makes the dish a bit lighter, but still with a great flavor.

Here’s what you need:

3 tablespoons soy sauce

4 chicken breasts, cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1 pound linguine (or really whatever shape pasta you like or have on hand)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Several handfuls cilantro, finely chopped (divided)

6 cloves of garlic, minced (or at least finely chopped)

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined, finely chopped (FYI – this recipe is not spicy)

3 tablespoons butter (you could sub vegetable oil if you like) (divided)

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons gold tequila

2 tablespoons lime juice (from about two limes)

1 and a half bell peppers, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup fat free half and half AND 1/2 cup 2% milk (feel free to mix up this ratio any way you like, or go really decadent and use the 1 1/2 cups heavy cream the recipe called for)

2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

lime wedges for garnish

Here’s what you do:

1.  Put the cut up chicken breasts in a bowl with the soy sauce.  Toss, and set aside to allow to marinate.

2.  Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package to al dente.  Drain, toss with the one tablespoon olive oil to keep from sticking, and set aside.

3.  Make the tequila-lime mixture:  In a medium saucepan, cook half of the cilantro, garlic and jalapeno with two tablespoons butter over medium heat until aromatic and garlic is turning slightly golden – about 5 minutes.  Pour in the chicken broth, tequila and lime juice, bring to a boil, and cook until the sauce has thickened and most liquid is gone, about 10 minutes.Tequila Lime Mixture

4.  Heat the remaining tablespoon butter in a large sauté pan and add onion and bell peppers.  Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat until the veggies have softened.

5.  Add the chicken and soy sauce to the pan and toss.  Then add the tequila-lime mixture and the cream and milk, increase the heat to a gentle boil, and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly (will thicken more the more fatty dairy you use), about 15 minutes.

6.  Turn down the heat and toss in the linguine, remaining cilantro and salt.  Mix well.

7.  Serve immediately with extra lime wedges and salt as needed.

Enjoy!

 

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Latkes

LatkesWhile Channukah is still a couple of weeks away, given our family members’ busy schedules, and the plan that we would be celebrating my birthday, we decided to roll Channukah in.  And of course, Channukah would not be complete without latkes.  For those of you new to this delicious food, latkes are fried potato/onion pancakes, enjoyed traditionally with applesauce and/or sour cream, and in our family, also ketchup.  I learned to make latkes from my Grandma Gloria, and have been working on the technique ever since.  Making latkes is a bit time consuming but well worth it in the end.  I recommend making latkes for your first time with someone that has done it before.  But if you can’t find a seasoned fryer, do not fear, I will provide as many tips as I can along the way.  This is adapted from a Molly Katzen recipe and serves 10+ (with other food).

Here’s what you need:

6 large russet potatoes (about 5 pounds)

1 very large brown onion (or two large brown onions)

3/4 cup matzo meal (or breadcrumbs, but this is Jewish food, so matzo meal is the best)

6 egg whites or 4 whole eggs (I did egg whites and was told these were delish)

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

lots of vegetable oil (I used safflower oil, which has a higher smoke point than canola, meaning it can get hotter without burning and getting funky, but canola works just fine too)

applesauce, sour cream, and ketchup for serving

Here’s what you do:

1.  Make the latke mixture:

  • Peel and wash your potatoes.  Then, grate your potatoes.  If you have a food processer with a grating attachment, this is best and easiest.  If not, get those arms working, and grate on the side of your cheese grater that you would do cheddar on.  Put in a very large bowl.
  • Peel your onion and grate it the same way you did the potatoes.  Add to the bowl.
  • Stir the matzo meal, salt, pepper and eggs into the potato/onion mixture.
  • Mix well and allow to settle in the fridge, 20 minutes up to overnight.

2. Time to cook the latkes.  Let’s get set up:

  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees (to keep the latkes warm while you cook, unless people are eating all of them as you go).  Get a large baking dish, or a couple of cookie sheets.  Line with paper towels.
  • Set up two frying pans (to get all the latkes done in about 35-45 mins) or one frying pan (will probably take about an hour to an hour and a half) on your stove.  Put towels on the ground and the counter tops.  (See, I said I would provide tips).  Wear clothes you can wash in the machine – they will smell like oil.  Put your hair up.  Put on an apron.  Get your potato mixture out of the fridge.  (Don’t worry if it’s brown, that’s just the potatoes reacting to the air, and they will cook up beautifully.)

3.  Pour about 1/4 inch oil into each pan (be sure the pans are dry).  Turn the heat up high and allow the oil to heat up and start sizzling – about 3-5 minutes.  Test to make sure the oil is hot enough by dropping a little potato mixture into the pan and making sure it sizzles all around.

4.  Using two spoons, take a large scoop of the potato mixture, squeezing off the excess liquid, and then drop it into the pan and pat it down into a flat pancake shape.  Continue until both pans are filled, allowing for space between each latke (about 1/4 – 1/2 an inch).  Allow the latkes to cook until the undersides are golden brown, about 2-4 minutes each.  When they are cooked, use a spatula to flip them over and brown on the other side.

5. When the second side is browned, transfer the latkes to the large baking pan lined with paper towels and put it in the oven.  (You will continue to add to the pan in the oven as you make more and more.)  Once you have a single layer of latkes on the paper towel, put another layer of paper towel on top and continue laying them in.Cooking the latkes

6.  It’s okay if the latkes in the pans cook at different speeds.  (In fact, it’s better, so you don’t burn all your latkes.)  Whenever one is ready to flip or is done, go for it.  And whenever a space opens up in a pan, add another latke to cook – no need to empty a pan before refilling.  And if the oil starts to get low (the bottom should always be fully coated) just add more and keep in mind that it needs to heat up a bit.  It’s okay to make some extra crispy and some a bit softer – your guests will all have different preferences.

7. Once you have finished cooking all the potato mixture, serve the latkes topped with applesauce, sour cream or ketchup.  (Also great with brisket juice.)

Enjoy!Latkes with Sour Cream and Apple Sauce

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Magic One-Pot Pasta

Magic PastaThanks to our friends Kate and Kei, and everyone’s friend – Ms. Martha Steward – Patrick and I were lucky enough to enjoy a delicious new pasta dish.  And it’s magical because the pasta cooks in one pot, with the other ingredients, and makes its own sauce.  The ingredients are simple, but the results are delicious.  I altered Martha’s recipe slightly since her instructions called for 12 oz of pasta and I am not much of a fan of having a quarter of a box of pasta left over uncooked, and to follow Kate and Kei’s genius idea of adding sausage – but feel free to leave it out to make this vegetarian.

Here’s what you need:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1.25 pounds turkey sausage, casing removed

1 lb linguine, fettuccine, spaghetti or thick spaghetti (one box – or you can follow Martha and do 12 oz, cutting down the liquid later on)

16 oz cherry tomatoes, halved

1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

5 cloves garlic, sliced

1 large sprig, or 2 smaller sprigs, basil, plus more for garnish

1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (this adds a little heat, so feel free to turn it up or dial it down)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups broth (chicken or veggie – if you don’t have any, that’s okay, you can just use water and up the salt a little if needed)

3 1/2 cups water (if you only did 12 oz pasta, you should cut this down to 2 1/2 cups)

2 teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Here’s what you do:

1.  Brown the sausage in a pan with the 1 tablespoon olive oil, breaking it up into bite sized pieces.  Cook until completely cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.  (Alternatively, you can use pre-cooked sausage and skip this step, or do no sausage and make this vegetarian.)

2.  Add the sausage, pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil sprig, crushed red pepper, 2 tablespoons olive oil, broth, water, salt and 4 tablespoons Parmesan to a high side skillet or a pot.One Pan Pasta

3.  Bring the pasta mixture to a boil.  Allow to continue boiling and cook until the pasta is al dente, stirring every minute or so with tongs.  The package should tell you how long it takes to get to al dente – for my thick spaghetti it was 11-12 minutes, which cooked it perfectly.  At this point, the liquid will have boiled down to a thick sauce.  Remove the basil sprig and discard.

4.  Allow to stand for 2 minutes, then serve topped with basil garnish and additional Parmesan.

Enjoy!

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California Style Warm Bread Casserole with Kale, Turkey Sausage, Dates and Almonds (also known as stuffing)

Kale Sausage Stuffing with Dates and AlmondsFor Thanksgiving, the NY Times posted an article providing a recipe for each of the fifty states.  California’s recipe, not surprisingly, incorporated kale, dates, and sourdough bread, and was inspired by California chef Suzanne Goin (try her restaurants, including Lucques, where Patrick and I got engaged).  I upped the kale in this recipe, and just slightly decreased the butter.  We ended up with a warm bread casserole/salad/mixture that was delicious with the turkey or on its own.

Here’s what you need:

1 pound loaf of sourdough bread

7 tablespoons olive oil

1 package of your favorite turkey or chicken sausage (cooked or uncooked, about one pound) (I did a mild Italian turkey and chicken sausage from Applegate farms)

2 cups diced onions (about one large onion)

1/2 sprig rosemary

1-2 teaspoons thyme leaves

1 sliced hot pepper of your choice

salt and pepper

2 bunches lacinato kale (the dark leafy kind, not the curly kind – also called Tuscan kale or cavolo nero)

10 Medjool dates

1 cup sherry

2 cups stock (I did chicken stock)

2-3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup sliced almonds

Here’s what you do:

1.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Cut the sourdough bread into thick slices.  Cut off the crust.  Then cut into 1 inch cubes.

3.  Place the cubes on a large baking dish.  Drizzle four tablespoons olive oil over the cubes and use your hands to squeeze it in.  Bake for about 12-15 minutes until slightly browned.  Place into a large bowl.Bread cubes

4.  In a large pot or Dutch oven that can go into the oven itself (I used my Le Creuset), heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the sausage.  If you are doing pre-cooked sausage, cut it up into small diced pieces before cooking.  If you are doing fresh sausage, remove from the casing and break up.  When cooked, remove from the pan (with a slotted spoon if you did fresh sausage to separate from the fat) and add to the bread bowl.

5.  Get the kale ready for cooking.  Wash it thoroughly.  Remove the leaves from the tough stems.  Throw the stems away and roughly chop the leaves.

6.  Add 1 to 2 more tablespoons olive oil to you pot and cook onions, rosemary, thyme and chili over medium heat until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes.  If the kale doesn’t fit in the pot all at once, then add half, toss it around a bit until it gets smaller, and then add the rest.Onions and spices with chili

7.  Remove the sprig of rosemary and add the kale/onion mixture to the bread bowl.  Mix to combine.

8.  Cut the dates in half, remove the pits, and cut in half again.  Stir into the bread mixture.

9.  Return your pot to the stove and boil the sherry on high until it is reduced to about half.  Pour in the stock and boil until it too is reduced to about half.  Add the butter until melted.

10.  Pour the liquid over the bread mixture and stir to combine.  Stir in the almonds.

11.  Return the bread mixture to the pot and bake for 10-15 minutes covered.  Then uncover the pot and bake another 15 minutes until the top is browned.

Enjoy!

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Pineapple Coconut-Milk Upside Down Cake

Pineapple CakeIn the spirit of Thanksgiving and all of its cooking glory, today I am posting the three dishes I brought to our Thanksgiving feast.  Thanks to the continuing generosity of Lynda and Tom, each year we have a warm, welcoming and delicious place to celebrate this holiday.  This year I made a carrot cake (recipe here), this upside down cake, and some California-style stuffing (recipe here).  The top of this cake is sweet and caramelized, the cake itself was best described by my sister Brittany as “tasting like a madeline.”  The original recipe called for flaked coconut, which probably made this more of a coconut pineapple cake – but since Garren isn’t a fan of flaked coconut, and frankly you don’t need it – this turns out to be more pineapple tasting with the richness of coconut milk baked in.

Adapted from the LA Times

Here’s what you need:

One large cast iron skillet

3 tablespoons butter, plus 1 stick butter at room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 20-oz can pineapple rings

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups coconut milk (from a can, you will have a bit leftover – if you add two tablespoons of chia seeds, and let it sit in the fridge overnight, you will have delicious pudding for the next day – just add your favorite sweetener and a bit more milk of your choice to thin it out)

Here’s what you do:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Heat the three tablespoons butter in your skillet over medium heat.  Add the brown sugar and stir until melted.  Remove from the heat and spread the caramel mixture across the entire bottom of the pan (this will eventually be the top of the cake when it’s done).Melting the sugarMelted Sugar

3.  Arrange the pineapple slices so they cover the pan.  Here is what I usually do (depicted below):  Arrange the slices in a circle around the edge.  Then, put a slice in the middle.  Then cut the remaining slices in half, in half again, and in half again (so you have 8 pieces) and arrange them into the holes.Arranged Pineapple Slices

4.  Beat the remaining stick of butter in a large mixing bowl until pale.  Add the sugar and continue mixing until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat to combine.  Stir in the vanilla bean.  (To scrape a vanilla bean, just grab a sharp knife, split it in half, then scrape out the beans – they will kind of stick together like black molasses until you mix them into the batter and then get that beautiful speckled look of vanilla bean).Cake Batter

5.  In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt with a fork.

6.  Working in batches, add some dry mixture to the butter/egg batter until combined.  Then stir in some coconut milk.  Follow by dry and then by coconut milk.  Continue until all is combined (about four rounds).

7.  Pour the batter over the pineapple and spread out evenly.  Bake for 45 minutes until the top is golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

8.  Allow to cool.  When the cake has finished cooling, place a place underneath.  Invert the pan, tap it like a drum, and slowly lift it up to allow the cake to pull away.  If there are any straggling pineapple pieces in the pan, just return them to the cake.Pineapple Cake

Enjoy!

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