Sheet Pan Supper

Sheet pan suppers are all the rage these days, promising quick and simple meals in one pan and utilizing only the oven. I took advantage of the NYTimes recipe for sausage and potatoes and gussied it up a little.


First roast some Yukon gold potato wedges with fresh shallots, olive oil, salt and pepper. After 20 minutes, add fresh Italian pork or chicken sausage cut into 3 inch lengths, and spread out on sheet pan. After 30 minutes in a 425 oven, everything should be roasty toasty. Toss the sausage mix with a couple of large handfuls of fresh arugula and toss. Squeeze a lemon all over the mixture and add seasoning if needed. I added a little creme fraiche when I served. This was a delicious meal that was a perfect choice for one of the first cold nites of the fall…

Happy Appies…

The Hubs and I were in charge of wine and pre feast snacks for Thanksgiving, so part deux of my kitchen based marathon was on Wednesday. I had five items to produce for the menu I planned. All pretty easy to execute. I also had to pack each item for travel, and didn’t want to have to mess around with bringing containers home unless critically necessary, so disposable was way to go.

  
The Old Standby

Blue, chèvre, Brie, Manchego, cheddar served with baguette slices, candied lemon, grapes and blackberries, sliced apple and red pears. I always like my cheese tray to look full and casual, not laid out like a terraced garden. Another bonus on Thursday came in the form of an hour plus commute, that allowed the cheese to come up to perfect temp for eating.

  
The Fail Safe

A Caprese salad is always a safe choice for diner satisfaction, and transferring the ingredients to a skewer is a fun way to convert a salad into an appetizer that’s portable and kid friendly too. 

  
It’s also fun to include dressing and garnish in one by filling teeny tiny food grade syringes with balsamic syrup and evoo!

 
You can purchase on Amazon, just search for flavor injectors.

The Classic with a Twist

  

You can miniaturize (is that a real verb?) almost any set of ingredients and salad is no exception. Caeser salad is really good because there are limited ingredients. I simply shredded some Romaine, and put it in a zip top bag with a damp paper towel. On arrival you can just pour the dressing, transported in any old jar, into the bag, reseal and shake. “But it’s missing the cheese and the crouton” you say. That’s the other way to have fun here. You can make Parmesan crisps very easily!

  
Just toss a little flour with shredded Parmesan and place on a non stick pan, medium heat with a little pan spray on it. As the cheese melts you can move it into shape as desired.  Cook till brown and then flip, about 45 seconds. The crisps keep really well between two paper plates, wrapped in plastic wrap.

The Savory and Satisfying

  

For the first hot appetizer, I turned to corn, “we call it maize”, but it’s actually polenta!

   
 
Follow the directions on the box and add cheese or other ingredients as you see fit. I topped the polenta with savory mushrooms cooked with a little Italian sausage, garlic, butter and some sage, and then stirred in a tablespoon of mascarpone.Totally creamy and yummy. 

 
I garnished with some green onions, but chives would work also. The polenta and the mushrooms can just be put in reveal able containers and nuked in the microwave when needed. And lastly…

The Wild Card

Of which there are no pictures extant! How did that happen? 

Well, I’ll just have to tell you all about it!

My brothers favorite option from any Chinese restaurant is always Crab Rangoon. So I decided I could do a deconstructed rangoon. I mixed canned crabmeat with a little mayo and Tabasco and 8 oz of non fat cream cheese and baked along with the turkey. Wednesday nite, I heated about a cup of vegetable oil in a deep skillet and then cut refrigerated egg roll wrappers into triangles. Drop the triangles into the oil for about 20 seconds and flip…like magic, wontons! So instead of pockets of crab and cream cheese, you have wonton chips and dip.

So that’s how I used about eight different types of cheese from the cheese centric trip to Trader Joes last week!


Charred Eggplant with Sausage

  

Well I had a handy eight pack of eggplants that had been hanging around for a while and while creating the grocery list this afternoon, I also found a couple of Italian sausages…hmmm, says I.

  
 

So I cut the washed eggplants in half and tossed them in olive oil and some salt and pepper. The Hubs put them on the grill and proceeded with his cocktail and scouting of backyard wildlife. I directed “char the s_ _ _ out of them” While he did the aubergines, I browned the sausage with some basil and garlic. Once cooked, I spun it once or twice in the cuisinart and added toasted panko. See?

   
 

Here’s the aubergines, fresh off the grill. 

  

 Nicely charred as directed. Then I flipped them cut side up and layered the sausage/breadcrumb mixture all over. I added some torn mozzarella and grated Parmesan and bopped it back in the grill to get all melty… 

 

  
You can scoopy doop out the inside of the eggplant , now mixed with sausage and cheese. Oh and there were two really hot peppers in there for flavor only! 

The Twelve Posts of Christmas Pt. 9 – Pasta alla Norcina

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On The first full day of ” yoga pants vacation”, last Saturday, the Hubs and I were doing our best imitation of Slug 1 and Slug 2. We were channel surfing and came across America’s Test Kitchen on WGBH. We didn’t see the beginning but got sucked in nonetheless and watched Christopher Kimball and his intrepid chefs make Pasta alla Norcina. I think the beginning of the episode featured fresh made sausage, but we are NOT going there…once they assured us we could use fresh ground pork from your grocer’s meat case, I was on the case.

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The recipe starts out by having you brine the ground pork. WHOA…yes, you read that right.and here’s the strange part of the brine, it has baking soda in it! Ok, I’ll bite.

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And instead of browning crumbled sausage, you make a pork patty, brown the outside and THEN chop it up. It gets cooked in the cream, with some pasta water to thin it out.

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The recipe continues by browning mushrooms in the pork leavings, adding white wine and garlic and rosemary, putting the sausage back in and adding a truly obscene amount of cream ( hey, it’s the holidays…). The pork finishes cooking in the cream with some pasta water added as needed. Tossed with the orichiette pasta, some parsley and a little lemon juice.

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The reason for the brining is to keep the ground pork from drying out while cooking and the secret ingredient is definitely the nutmeg. This dish really showcases the cuisines of the north of Italy, closer to Austria and Switzerland than the sunny Mediterranean.