Sunday, November 20, 2016

Spicy Italian Sausage and Broccoli Sauce for Pasta

I've spent the weekend planning my Thanksgiving Day and other menus for next week when we'll have family in town. Today's recipe is going to be featured one day for lunch or dinner. It's a new favorite, possibly the best new dinner I've come up with in awhile. It's not innovative - folks have been making sausage and broccoli sauces forever. But mine is a red sauce.

Here's what to love about it: it's, like, the easiest weeknight dinner that you will ever make; it's possibly the most comforting meal, ever, AND, AND, AND it's really good leftover!  One day at work I was liveblogging my lunch with an off-site coworker who either thought I had an overabundance of enthusiasm about my lunch or advanced to the nearest Whole Foods to buy the ingredients to make it for her own family.

If I bring it to work, I end up nukeing it to reheat. Otherwise, I employ my tried and true method of reheating pasta: heat 1-2 T water in saucepan or skillet, then add pasta and stir in. Cover and cook over low-medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until well heated. You need it thoroughly reheated but be careful as overcooking will turn it to mush. Taste for seasoning, adding parm, salt or pepper as needed. I had a friend in college who swore by her mom's fried spaghetti - a story that still makes me cringe.

Here's that recipe.

Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli
Print recipe only here

3/4 pound spicy Italian sausage*
2 cloves garlic

1 8-ounce package baby broccoli, cut into 2-inch long pieces
1 fourteen-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
8-12 oz penne or quinoa pasta (I use quinoa pasta for this all the time)

2-4 T freshly grated Parm or Grana Padano

Heat a saucepan over medium high heat. Add the sausage and garlic and saute for 6-8 minutes, breaking up the sausage and allowing it to brown all over. Add the entire can of tomatoes and juices to the pot, breaking up the tomatoes with your hands. Bring to a boil then turn down heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Prep a large bowl of ice water.

Add broccoli and boil for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to the bowl filled with ice water. Add the pasta to the same pot of water and cook until al dente. When the pasta has about 2 minutes left to cook, drain the baby broccoli and add to the saucepan.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, stirring completely. Add freshly grated Grana Padano and serve.

* A note on the sausage: I've been buying the Niman Ranch bulk sausage locally at Plum Market. Whole Foods also carries it sometimes. I like both because they're of the leaner variety.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Chili Shrimp for Any Family

Every once in awhile a new recipe catches my eye and I just know it's a keeper. This particular one from Mario Batali jumped off the page, likely because of the ingredients but also for the story behind its creation.

In Batali's place, a meal like this would be served by cooks to cooks in the wee hours of the morning, at the end of a busy dinner shift. I didn't ever experience this exactly - a pastry chef, I was routinely edged out of counter space by 4pm. But every one in awhile I would be around for the Family Meal, the meal the back of the house shares together before the dinner rush, and the end of a particularly long shift for me. "Shares together" is overstating things - we didn't actually all sit down and eat together. It more like we broke off in small groups for a short interlude. One line cook would take responsibility for preparing the family meal and it was always homey, delicious and really did feel like family time.

My only beef with Batali's recipe is that there's too much coconut milk. I love the stuff, but prefer lighter meals so I routinely use light coconut milk and much less of it than recommended.

Here's that recipe:

Chili Shrimp
Print recipe only here

Serves 4 as an appetizer

One pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 T red curry paste
2 T fish sauce
2 T sambal
2 T sweet chili sauce
1 T sesame oil or canola oil
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 T soy sauce or tamari
2 ounces light coconut milk
2-3 T cilantro, chopped

Combine shrimp, curry paste, fish sauce, sambal and chili sauce in a medium bowl and toss to coat.

Heat skillet. Add oil tand let heat for a minute, then add shrimp and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add green onion. Cover and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in soy sauce and coconut milk and cook another few minutes. Add cilantro and serve.

Serving suggestions:
Left to our own, we eat these with our fingers. For guests I griddle a few pieces of baguette, thinly sliced on the diagonal and lightly brushed with olive oil. Or, when served as a main dish to those who are not carb-adverse, with rice.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Get Thee to the Picklery

I thought I was making that word up, but no, a Picklery is a real thing! And yes, by real thing I mean a small business that, in spite of all efforts to induce profitability will only rise to prominence (The Prominent Pickle! I've named my Picklery!) as an cautionary tale told to cocksure entrepreneurs: "Yes, but Great Aunt Katie also took Econ 101 and that didn't prevent her from becoming homeless following the inevitable dissolution of The Prominent Pickle."

Anyhoo, I was at the farmers market last weekend and they had gorgeous Kirby cukes so I came home, settled on a recipe from Food and Wine, doctoring it just slightly to use Apple Cider Vinegar, and made us some fine pickles. The following day I used the same recipe with haricots verts and carrots, both equally delightful. And yes, Virginia, they do need to be haricots, not your garden variety green bean. For one, les haricots fit perfectly into a pint sized jar. Two, it's like getting all long things in Tetris - they fit together snugly with, like, no wasted space.

This week I was back at the market, and spent the afternoon cleaning and trimming haricots, carrots and pickles.

Here's that recipe:

Quick Spicy Pickles
Print recipe only here

Stuff to pickle:
4-5 Kirby cucumbers, washed and quartered
8 oz haricots verts, cleaned (I like leaving the tails)
7 carrots, peeled, washed, quartered and trimmed to fit pint jars
1 quart sized canning jar
2 pint sized canning jars

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
3 T Kosher salt
2 T white sugar
2 T coriander seeds
2 cups water
2-3 red chilis, washed and halved
7-8 garlic cloves, smashed gently
10-12 dill sprigs, rinsed and trimmed

Combine vinegars, sugar and salt and place in sun to heat until sugar and salt dissolve.
Prep and trim all veg.
Place one red chili half into each jar. More if you really want to feel the heat.
Add 2-3 cloves garlic to the Quart jar and 1-2 cloves to each pint jar
Add coriander seeds to vinegar and stir
Pack veggies into jars
Pour vinegar over veg until covers completely
Cover and refrigerate 24 hours.

Note: the carrots take 48 hours to be good.

Keeps up to one month.

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Kind of Bar

There are several wonderful things about Sundays. One is having time to cook a few things for the week. The other is The Good Wife, a show that ensnared me with its legalese and fantastic supporting cast. Elsbeth Tascoini! Meryl Streep's doppleganger daughter! That dude who ended up on Downton Abbey! Eli Farking Gold! They resurrected Denny from Shondaland to smile his Denny smile at Alicia and Kalinda made thigh high boots workplace appropriate. The only possible upside of the series coming to an end is that Logan Huntzberger will be have time off to visit Stars Hollow.

Anyhoo, during the week I have to be very organized in order to eat and cook well, and so Sundays usually involve a fair amount of gathering and prepping. I've been trying to eat smaller meals  - and more of them. Since I cannot possible prepare that many meals in day I wind up turning to the Kind bar 1-2 times a week to fill in as a mini meal.  I'm a big fan of the Kind bar, especially their line of 5g of sugar ones. But I had a sneaking suspicion I could create my own without too much effort. So today I did.

I used the recipe creator at Livestrong to try and get the bars to be in line with the nutrition on a standard Kind bar and got pretty close. In my sophomore effort I intend to try to boost the protein. You can add other ingredients as you like. I think pumpkin seeds would be a nice addition.

Here's that recipe:

Pinch Bar
Print recipe only here

1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
3/4 cup whole raw almonds
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened flake coconut
1/4 cup dried sour cherries, chopped
2 T bittersweet chocolate chips, chopped
4 T natural peanut butter
3 T honey

Preheat over to 350. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving several inches overhanging on the sides.

On one baking pan, place the almonds and toast for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and reserve until cooled.

On a separate pan, toss the oats, coconut, and sunflower seeds for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

In a small saucepan over low heat, stir the peanut butter and honey together until it softens and is smooth.

Roughly chop the sour cherries and chocolate chips and transfer to a medium sized mixing bowl.
Roughly chop the almonds, leaving them mostly whole. Add all dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and toss to combine. Add the peanut butter mixture and stir well to combine. Press the mixture into the prepared pan, using a glass or bottom of a measuring cup to pack it down well. Refrigerate about 15-30 minutes. Remove from fridge and cut into 16 bars. Store covered in fridge for several weeks.

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