Archive for ‘Sausages’

September 23, 2011

Lowcountry Crush | Shrimp and Okra Pilau

My friends and I have been kind of fawning over Sean Brock, chef and owner of Husk and McCrady’s in Charleston, South Carolina.  Add to that that he was a James Beard Award winner in 2010.  And Bon Appetit named Husk best new restaurant this year.  Sean lives and breathes local.  And he’s just so cute.

And he loves pugs.

I am smitten.

I was so happy to see that he was featured in September’s Southern Living and that he gave up some great recipes.  I made his Lowcountry Shrimp-and-Okra Pilau for dinner tonight.  Fabulousness in a bowl, really.  Plus, Cherub’s first experience with okra was a successful one thanks to this recipe.  I used some local Schmidt’s Bahama Mama smoked sausage as well as the okra I picked up at the Worthington Farmer’s Market.  Don’t be afraid.  Okra is delicious, even when unadorned and not fried.

While you do simmer this dish for about 30 minutes in the middle, you can use that time to clean up the kitchen.  Because who has time to cook?  You do.

Wine pairing: Chateau Bonnet 2009 Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon – Muscadelle.

Playlist included Police Dog Blues, by Hugh Laurie.

January 30, 2011

Hangover Cure | Migas

Do not get the wrong idea: Persephone is not hung over.  She doesn’t get hung over.  Let’s just get that straight first.  But I do know that this is a malady that occasionally affects those fashionable folks who enjoy a nice meal with a few (extra) glasses of wine.

A sturdy, spicy breakfast lunch the next morning midday with a good strong bit of coffee is just what Persephone thinks you need, if you’re one of those fashionable folks.  And the refreshing thing about this is that you can be as creative as you like (or as creative as your refrigerator allows). The only basics you need are pork, eggs and tortillas.

For the migas this morning, it was a mash-up between a Spanish version that’s heavy on the pork products and the Tex-Mex version that’s heavy on the tortillas.  Typically the Spanish version uses breadcrumbs, but we have nine zillion corn tortillas in the fridge so there you have it.

To get started, I fried up some chorizo that was sliced into thick chunks, and a few slices of bacon that had been chopped into five or six pieces.  While this was frying over slowish heat, I soaked some corn tortillas in water that was seasoned with salt, some slices of jalapeno, and smashed garlic.  I also chopped up a couple of tiny potatoes and some fennel tops that we had in the fridge.  I whisked a couple of eggs together and added in a handful of watercress that was feeling lonely.   When the bacon and chorizo was just about crisp, I drained the tortillas and dried them then sliced them into thin strips.  I tipped in the tortillas, potatoes and fennel and let it cook a few minutes until most had crisped a bit (not too much, mind you) then added in the eggs and cress.  Stir and cook until the eggs are the consistency you like then divide into bowls and top with a bit of chopped cilantro.

This is pretty seasonal right now, but certainly in the warmer months, you might add tomatoes or kernels of  summer corn instead of the fennel and potatoes.  There’s also a plethora of cheese choices you can add to this everything from cojita and queso fresco (my favorite) to the shredded four cheese blends you get at the store (not so much my favorite, but entirely do-able).

Make sure you set a bottle of sriracha on the table for those that need a bit more help waking up and facing the day.

Playlist included Help, I’m Alive, by Metric.

January 16, 2011

Breakfast Tacos, San Antonio Style

I grew up eating breakfast tacos.  Notice I did not refer to these as breakfast “burritos.”  You won’t find vegetables in these.  They are not some sort of fancy omelet in a flour tortilla.  They are typically leftovers and eggs wrapped in a warm flour tortilla.  They usually consist of some combination of the following : Meat (carnitas, chorizo, bacon, brisket, carne guisada), beans (usually refried), cheese (usually grated cheddar), potatoes, and eggs (scrambled).

In San Antonio, where I spent my early years, breakfast tacos are more popular than donuts.  There are places you can pick up a dozen for work (you’ll always get brownie points for this).  My favorite little taco place (read: hole in the wall) has housemade flour tortillas and a seemingly endless variety of fillings for your taco.  My favorite: bean, egg and bacon.

Thousand Oaks Breakfast Tacos

Refried Beans (mine were pinto, that I pureed, then reheated in bacon drippings and seasoned with chili powder and ground cumin)

Scrambled Eggs (I used Holistic Acres)

Slices of meaty fried bacon (mine was Neuske’s)

Small (not burrito sized, y’all) flour tortillas (I heat mine directly over my gas burners on the stove. Use tongs if you must, but I’ve got asbestos fingers and do it by touch, flipping and rotating until they bubble).

Assemble your taco with a base of beans, a spoonful of egg and a slice of bacon.  Fold in half as you would a soft taco.  Nothing more complicated than that.  Serve with hot sauce or pico de gallo.  This morning I didn’t have salsa so I used Sriracha for the heat.

Playlist included Give Back the Key to My Heart, by San Antonio boy, Doug Sahm.


January 13, 2011

Winter Kitchen | Zuppa di Cavoli

Every winter kitchen needs a good, sturdy soup.  This zuppa, made with lacinato kale, pancetta and fennel, is amazingly versatile.  The leftovers even result in perfect little hors d’oeuvres.  Who knew?

While this recipe contains the classic French base (i.e., carrot, onion, celery), the ingredients are cooked slightly differently than most other soups I make resulting in a surprisingly different flavor.  Regional and cultural differences in cooking techniques really get me going.  This is because I am a food nerd, but again, you all know this.  You don’t have to be, though, to enjoy this truly delicious Italian soup.

Zuppa di Cavoli, Four Ways, Inspired by Flavors of Tuscany

1 c dried canneloni beans (you could use canned, but I wouldn’t recommend it)

Small bunch of thyme

3 oz pancetta chopped (you could substitute bacon)

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 carrot, scrubbed and chopped

1 rib of celery chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small bulb of fennel, trimmed of  stalks and root end, thinly sliced

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November 8, 2010

Sunday Dinner, Porch to Table | Roasted Pumpkin with Italian Sausage

If you have friends or family coming over for an unexpected Sunday dinner at your house, don’t be alarmed.  You may already have what you need and have to look no further than your front porch

I couldn’t bear to just let the beautiful green Hokkaido pumpkin go to waste that we brought home from Rennick’s Family Farm a few weekends ago.  I came up with a dinner that requires almost no clean up aside from a pasta pot, but is still kind of a showstopper.  You’ll be surprised how easy this recipe is, requiring only about 15 minutes of hands-on time.  Italian sausage, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and lots of fresh sage and thyme roasted in the pumpkin for about an hour turns these ingredients into a melange of marvelous Fall flavors for a bed of pasta.  Serve with a nice wine, some crusty ciabatta and a good olive oil, you’ll have a table full of happy company amazed at your skill in the kitchen.

Roasted Hokkaido Pumpkin Stuffed with Italian Sausage and Mushrooms

1 large, about 4 pounds, or 2 medium about 2 or 2 1/2 pounds heirloom pumpkins (Long Island Cheese or Green Hokkaido are good choices)

1 pound Italian sausage, a combination of sweet and hot, if you like, sliced in 1-inch pieces

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October 3, 2010

The Big Sunday Breakfast

There’s something magical about the big, stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast I enjoyed on the weekends growing up in Texas.  Demeter and Zeus really know their way around a kitchen.  So breakfasts like this one are really up there in terms of comfort foods for me.   How happy was I that we could find OH so many local products to recreate the kind of breakfast that will give you a nice food coma to nurse for the rest of the afternoon?  Let me answer that: very.  

One of the first things I was dying to try this week was making my own butter.  I get it: you think I’m off my rocker for trying something like that and that you would never have the time to do it yourself.  Let me ask you a question: do you have ten minutes on the weekend?  You do?  Do you have a food processor?  You do?!?  Well guess what?  You’ve got no more excuses.  It’s a totally great thing to do with your kids, if you got any.  It’s downright fun! (I realize now, that was more than one question.)  



In a food processor pour in heavy cream (we used, of course, Snowville, because it’s the best tasting stuff around here) to the liquid fill line.  Flip on processor.  Process for approximately 3 to 4 minutes, stopping the machine and scraping down the sides two or three times during the process.  First you’ll have whipped cream, then really firm spreadable whipped cream, then butter!   

Cherub is not the best photographer, but she tries.


Remove the butter to a very clean kitchen towel over a bowl.  Wrap up the towel and twist to squeeze out all the liquid.  Buttermilk!  I am such a food nerd.  

At this point you can do whatever you want to it, salt some, leave some plain for baking, add some herbs or a wine reduction (awesome).  It’s tremendous and I think a lot cheaper than the stuff you get at the store.  Plus, it’s freezable, so you can make a bunch and chuck it in the freezer until you need the rest of it.  I’m sold.  

The Big Breakfast, in Pictures:  

Fried eggs from Manchester Farms, sausage from Curly Tail Farms, grits from Stutzman Farm, scratch whole wheat (from Flying J Farm) buttermilk biscuits, sausage gravy (keep the sausage drippings, sprinkle a bit of flour over them while still hot and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, pour in milk and whisk, adding more until you get the gravy the consistency you like, season with salt and pepper), homemade butter and local honey.  And Silverbridge coffee.  Thank goodness for the coffee.  







Complete sourcing can be found on the Farms and Producers page.  

In a nod to my Texas roots, the playlist included Twenty Cycles to the Ground by Molina & Johnson.  Jason Molina (of Magnolia Electric Co, from the great lakes area) and Will Johnson (of Centro-matic from that hotbed of music Denton, Texas).  Gosh, I just love Will’s voice.  He’s the music version of comfort food for me.

September 17, 2010

Comfort Food with a Newark Edge: Ironbound Estofado

It shouldn’t surprise you that the woman that’s married to the Lord of the Underworld knows a lot about New Jersey.  I don’t know what you’ve heard, but it’s a place with a lot of family, tradition and culture.  And a place that loves its food: it’s a melting pot.  One of those places is Newark, where our family roots run deep.  Spanish and Portuguese influences are strong.  These flavors resonate deep within in me.  Perhaps it’s the immigrant in me and maybe in Americans, in general.  We should all embrace our mongrel past.

With this dish it is officially fall in PK.  Although I hear the Spaniards do this kind of a dish year round.  This beef stew with chorizo and root vegetable mash is chock full of the cheapest cut of beef – boneless chuck roast – plus a couple of links of chorizo for spicy flavor.  Then add in some veg from the garden (or your local Whole Foods) and you’ve got yourself an inexpensive, flavorful, and super-satisfying comfort dinner with a twist.

This afternoon I dove in and pulled up a huge bunch of parsnips from the garden and threw them in the sink to rinse (along with a frighteningly large, oddly colored spider that was subsequently released back into the wild as opposed to washed down the disposal).  These spider-free parsnips became the base for the lovely root vegetable mash that accompanied our stew.  The great thing about this – for those of you that want fewer carbs – is that it’s mostly vegetables, not just potatoes.  And for those of you that say, “Pshaw, I care nothing about the carbs I consume!” then this mash is the most marvelous thing you can eat with the lovely meat gravy you have left after simmering your roast for many hours.  Enjoy, eaters.

Ironbound Estofado

1½ Boneless Chuck Roast (or whatever’s cheapest at your butcher – really!)

½ red onion sliced in thick rings

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, cut in very large chunks

2 medium Brandywine tomatoes (isn’t that perfect?) or ½ pound tomatoes, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped

2 links of chorizo sausage, quartered

6 c. water

Olive oil, salt, pepper

2 T. Butter, 2 T. Flour

Fresh chopped coriander (really, people, this time it’s not optional)

In a large, heavy bottomed pasta pot, heat a good glug of olive oil.  Add in your roast that has been generously seasoned with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium high heat to sear each side, four to five minutes a side.  It should get nice and brown and release from the pot easily.  Remove roast and set aside on a plate. 

Dump in the onions to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all that goodness (a.k.a., the fond) up off the bottom.  Then after three or four minutes of stirring the onions, add the garlic, tomatoes, and peppers.  Cook for another minute or two, stirring to incorporate.

Add back in the roast, along with any juices that collected on the bottom of the plate.  That’s more goodness, readers.  Add in the chorizo.  Pour in 6 cups of water.  Raise heat to high and bring to just below a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for four to five hours, uncovered.  If you feel like flipping the roast over halfway through, do it, but really there’s no need to mess with it.  It should be fine.

Just before serving, make yourself a bit of Beurre Manié to mix into the stew. PK tip: this is seriously one of the greatest things you can learn.  Mix equal parts of softened – not melted – butter and flour (use your fingers to make it into a paste) and then drop the whole chunk of thoroughly mixed fat and flour into a stock or stew that needs thickening.  After a few minutes of simmering, this results in a lovely body to the sauce, plus the flavor of yummy, yummy butter and no clumps.  Nailed it.

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve the roast, peel and cube one large russet potato, two large carrots and three large parsnips.  Rinse under cold water, then cover with water, add a generous pinch or two of salt and bring to a boil.  Boil for 10 to 12 minutes or until the parsnips and carrots are soft.  Drain, add in two tablespoons of butter, and a splash of milk or half and half.  Use a potato masher to roughly mash the vegetables.  You’re not looking for a pristine purée here, just an incorporation of the three vegetables.

To serve place a large spoon of the vegetable mash in a warm, shallow bowl (hear that one before?), then top with a couple of spoons of the sauce from the stew along with a generous chunk of the roast, a few pieces of sausage and some of the soft carrots.  Top with a bit of chopped cilantro.

Serve this with what we served it with: an inexpensive Monastrell.

Maybe while you’re cooking, you’ll fancy a listen to the mighty, mighty White Stripes’ Icky Thump.

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