Sunday, December 29, 2019

Yotam Ottolenghi's Seeded Chicken Schnitzel

Once a year I go through my spice cabinets. Today was the day and let me tell ya, there was a lot of ridiculousness going on in that cabinet: THREE huge jars of paprika, THREE jars of cajun seasoning, and FOUR jars of various sesame seeds. Why was I thinking?

To remedy this issue, I've made a list of the spices I have on hand and took a photo to store on my phone. My hope is that I will remember to reference this photo before buying any addition spices. Otherwise, the cabinet may explode.

Now, in all seriousness, it is imperative that I use up all these sesame seeds. I remembered Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe for Seeded Chicken Schnitzel and decided today was the day.

Not only does his seeded breadcrumb chicken look absolutely delicious, but it also uses SIX tablespoons of white sesame seeds and TWO tablespoons of black sesame seeds. That is about one and a half jars of sesame seeds, friends! Woohoo! Plus it uses panko, sunflower seeds, coriander seeds, as well as cayenne, and turmeric. All of which I had little bits of that needed using up.

It's worth noting that you should use coriander seeds, not ground coriander. You will be rewarded with the most heady citrusy aroma while crushing them up in a mortar and pestle. It's intoxicating.

This is a beautiful breading, folks. Just look at all the gorgeous color and texture. It's flavorful (you can really taste the coriander, as well as the seeds) and so very crunchy with so many different textures. This is lovely with a squeeze of lemon on top, but would also be nice with aioli or some kind of dipping sauce.

Ottolenghi says, "If you get hooked on this simple supper dish- and I believe the chances are pretty good - make an extra batch of the seed and breadcrumb mix. It keeps well in an airtight container for about 1 month and is really useful to have on hand. It works as well on strips of white fish or sticks of butternut squash as it does on the chicken."

Seeded Chicken Schnitzel
Adapted from Simple
by Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves 4-8

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each piece cut 
into 3 long strips (1.5 pounds)*
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
salt and black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/3 cups panko crumbs
6 tablespoons white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
4-1/2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, roughly chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds, roughly crushed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
about 7 tablespoons or more sunflower oil, for frying
1 lemon, quartered, to serve

*Notes: I used chicken tenderloins that I pounded thin in place of chicken breast. This recipe makes quite a bit of breadcrumb mixture. You could almost cut the breadcrumb mixture in half and/or make the whole batch and save half, using only what's needed. I ended up throwing away about one and a half cups breadcrumb mixture because it had been with the raw chicken and couldn't be used again.

Place the meat between two bits of plastic wrap, then, one at a time, gently flatten them with a rolling pin; they should end up about 1/2 inch thick (or alternatively place the meat in a plastic bag).

In a medium bowl, mix the flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt and some black pepper.

Put the eggs into a second bowl.

In a third bowl, mix the panko, both sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Dip each bit of chicken into the flour and gently shake off the excess. Now dip it into the egg, then into the seed mix, to coat well. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Put enough oil into a large frying pan to rise 1/4 inch up the sides and place over low to medium heat.  Once hot, add the chicken in batches and fry for 5-6 minutes total, turning after 2-1/2 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate while you continue with the remaining batch and serve hot, with wedges of lemon alongside.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Tessa's Omeleta {American-Style}

Early this year I tried Tessa's Omeleta Horiatiki with potato, feta, and oregano. Needless to say, this omeleta has some of my all-time favorite ingredients: egg, potato, and feta. I instantly fell in love. Tessa's recipe went right to my favorites list for the year.

This time of year is full of reflection and I feel a great amount of comfort & joy in recipes that are loved so well they become part of my regular rotation.

This time of year is also as busy as can be and I find a great amount of comfort & joy in recipes that are easy to make, yet delicious.

This time of year is also the time I go COMPLETELY out of my way to stay out of the store. So, it is with the GREATEST amount of comfort & joy that some version of this recipe can be made with ingredients found at home.

This time of year is also for Christmas vacation, sleeping in, and enjoying LOTS of leisurely breakfasts, my all-time favorite meal.

So, on day 2 of my 16-day Christmas vacation, I raided the fridge and came up with this Christmasy version of Tessa's Omeleta, keeping the potato crust (because that is a must) and adding some steamed broccoli for the green, some chopped cooked bacon for the red, and some good ol' American cheddar cheese to bring it all together.

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Adapted from Food From Many Greek Kitchens
by Tessa Kiros
Serves 4

1/8 cup olive oil
1 small potato, peeled, cut into 1/8 inches rounds
3 eggs, scrambled
steamed chopped broccoli
couple pieces chopped cooked bacon
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and black pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste

Note: This recipe is halved to make a personal pan sized frittata.

Heat the oil in a small 6" or 8" inch nonstick skillet. Add the potato rounds and fry gently on both sides until golden (but not too crisp) and completely cooked through. Salt and pepper lightly. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if using. 

If you have a broiler, preheat it now. Pour the eggs into the skillet, shuffling gently so that they can leak down and around the potatoes. Add the broccoli, bacon, and cheese and cover with a lid until the eggs are set throughout but still runny on top. Keep an eye on the heat to ensure that the bottom doesn't burn but forms a golden crust. Take the lid off and place the skillet 4 inchesor so under the broiler. When the omeleta is no longer runny, remove from the heat and leave it with the lid on for a couple minutes. Loosen the edges and slide it out of the skillet onto a serving plate. Serve hot, with a grind of black pepper, to taste.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Ina Garten's Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread can be a tricky thing. The dough tends to be a crumbly mess and takes quite a bit of finesse. I've tried my hand at shortbread half a dozen times with various results.

This time around I read up on some tips. Proper shortbread is a few simple ingredients: butter, flour, sugar, salt, and maybe vanilla. The first ingredient, butter, is the most prominent ingredient and it holds a fair amount of moisture. One of the secrets to achieving the desired crumbly texture and sweet flavor is to allow the dough to dry out, or rest. Chilling, or resting, the dough allows the moisture from the butter to evaporate, and with less water in the dough, the sugar concentrates. Since the dough is comprised of only three essential ingredients, this is a crucial step to ensure that all the flavors stand out.

Also, I didn't want to overwork the dough and have tough, hard cookies so I took a slightly different approach than Ina. I didn't use my stand mixer because I feel like I tend to overmix with it. Instead, I used my hand mixer until the dough started to come together and then I used my hands to warm up the butter in the dough and help everything come together.  This was a successful approach and the dough came together quickly with the warmth from my hands. Our hands are our best tools, and since the first recorded recipe for shortbread was printed in Scotland in 1736, I'm positive this is the way to go.

Ina calls for you to shape the freshly mixed dough into a flat disk and chill. For the life of me, I can't understand this step. First, it's entirely unnecessary and second, it has you kneading the tar out of the dough, essentially overworking it. Why not shape the dough into a rectangular log so that when you remove the chilled dough you can simply slice it and bake it? So I did it my way.

When I went to slice the dough  I was worried that it would crumble apart. It did not. It sliced like a dream and baked up the most beautiful shortbread cookies I've ever made! This is a fabulous recipe! The cookies themselves are GINORMOUS, but have the perfect texture and flavor, especially with the added chocolate. This is going to be my new go-to shortbread recipe. The only thing I might do differently next time is experiment with making them smaller. These cookies as written are about 2 inches wide and one inch thick. Too big, even for a sweets lover.

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Food Network
Recipe by Ina Garten
Makes 20-24

3/4 pounds butter, at room temperature (3 sticks butter)
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6-7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer as I did), mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat dish (or skip a step and shape the dough into a rectangular shaped log so that you can immediately slice the cookies once the dough has chilled). Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. 

Roll the dough 1/2" thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter (or do things much simpler by following my directions above, making a log with the dough and slicing the dough into cookies once chilled). Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet (I used parchment) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (mine were done in 20 minutes), until the edges begin to brown. You do not want to overcook these cookies so check frequently and pay close attention! Allow the cookies to cool to room temperature.

When the cookies are cool, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put 3ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it is completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.

Dunk the cookies or drizzle the cookies as you wish, with as much chocolate as you like. I was afraid the cookies would crumble when I dunked mine (my chocolate was quite thick) so I used a spoon to coat the cookies. This is where you can be creative and put a small amount of chocolate or coat them entirely in chocolate. Have fun with it! Make it your own!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Giada's Sausage and Broccoli Pizza

You ever notice how you can make something 20 or 30 times, the same exact way, and yet it turns out differently from time to time? This happens to me frequently. I've made a lot of pizzas. They always turn out good. Then I made this pizza, the same way I always do, and it turned out extra fabulous!

Beautiful golden-brown crust rising up perfectly around the edges with lots of bubbles (I love bubbles on pizza crust), cheese perfectly melted, just the right amount of toppings, and a little bit of oil on top (some people like to blot that oil on top, not me - that's good flavor right there).

I was marveling at the pizza as I pulled it out of the oven. How in the world did the pizza turn out so well? I'll confess: I didn't even want to make the pizza so it definitely was not made with love. I also used the same ingredients as I usually do. So, what gives?

While I'm not sure why it turned out so well I can only hope that I can get the same results again because this pizza was INSANELY DELICIOUS! Golden brown pizza crust with my favorite Rao's sauce, spicy Italian sausage, broccoli, melty mozzarella, nutty Parmesan, topped off with red pepper flakes, fresh torn basil, and marinated garlic and olives. There's just a little bit of everything going on here. It's pizza perfection. The perfect treat for enjoying while we trim the Christmas tree.

Sausage and Broccoli Pizza
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt, to taste
One 28-ounce can tomato paste*
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing removed*
1 bunch broccoli, cut into bite-size florets (about 3 cups)
3 tablespoons flour
12 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
1 cup Parmesan
red pepper flakes, to taste
Optional: Marinated olives and garlic, for topping*

Notes: I only used about 1/2 to 1/3 pound of sausage. This recipe calls for making a homemade pizza sauce. I love Rao's pizza sauce so I used that. I also added marinated black and green olives and marinated garlic from the olive bar at my local Whole Foods.

In a medium bowl, combine the basil, 1/2 cup of the olive oil, the salt and tomato puree. Stir together until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to allow flavors to marry. (Or, alternatively, buy your favorite jarred pizza sauce - I used Rao's and I love it. My all-time favorite).

Preheat the oven to 500F. Place a rack on the highest level and also on the lowest level (you will be switching starting the pizza on the bottom rack and moving to the upper rack).

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the sausage and cook, breaking apart with a wooden spoon to form bite-size pieces, until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the broccoli to the pan and stir to mix with the sausage. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. 

Dust an upside-down rimmed baking sheet with the flour. Gently stretch the pizza dough and place it on the dusted tray. Continue to stretch out to 1/4" thick, leaving it a little thicker around the edges. Spread 1 cup of the sauce over the dough and top with the sausage and broccoli.  Spread the sausage and broccoli around evenly and top with torn pieces of mozzarella, filling in the holes and distributing evenly. Then top with the Parmesan. If using the marinated garlic, as I did, scatter it over the pizza. Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, if you wish.

Place the into the oven on the bottom rack first. You really want to cook the bottom of the pizza first. Bake for about 5-6 minutes. Then switch the pizza to the upper rack and cook for about 5 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Top the pizza with more Parmesan, torn basil, and marinated olives, if you wish. The olives really brighten up the dish and lend a fresh zingy flavor.

Tree Trimming Treats @ IHCC

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Ruth Reichl's Deviled Eggs

We love to have deviled eggs on just about any holiday. Fourth of July, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other get together. Everyone usually loves them and they are always the first thing to disappear.

My Mom used to make the very best deviled eggs. The problem is I can't find her recipe and I don't remember how she made them. I know she used mayonnaise, chopped pickle, a little pickle juice, and some paprika, but I can't quite master it.

So now I'm on the hunt for the very best deviled eggs.  I've tried a few recipes and so far none have come close.

I knew Ruth's version wouldn't be like my Mom's, but I still wanted to give it a try. Ruth's version is different than most in that it calls for 6 eggs, 1/4 cup mayo, 1 teaspoon Dijon, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. I was really drawn to her use of cayenne pepper, and since we love spicy food, I was really hoping for some deliciously spiced deviled eggs with a kick.

Turns out Ruth's eggs are good, but not great. Upon tasting the filling, I found myself adding more mayonnaise. As a lover of all mustards, I thought the Dijon would be a welcome touch, but upon tasting immediately learned that regular yellow mustard was the way to go as far as deviled eggs are concerned. Mostly though, I thought the cayenne would be more prominent, or at the very least lend a slightly spicy kick, but alas I couldn't detect any heat either.

Deviled eggs seem quite simple, but I've found that everyone likes them a different way and they can, therefore, be quite hard to get just right. I'm still on the search for the perfect recipe.

Do you have a favorite deviled egg recipe?

Deviled Eggs
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
by Ruth Reichl
Makes 12

6 large eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
salt and black pepper, to taste
Optional: a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" star tip or plastic bag with the corner snipped

Start by boiling your eggs however you like. I like to place my eggs in a pan, cover with water, bring the water to a boil, cover the pan, shut off the heat, leave the pan on the burner and let them stay for 10 minutes. Then I immerse the eggs in cold water for about 30 minutes.

Ruth says to put eggs in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, cover with cold water by 1-1/2 inches, partially cover pan, and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to low, cover completely, and cook eggs for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let stand, covered for 15 minutes.  Then transfer to a bowl of ice and cold water and let stand for 30 minutes; drain.

Peel eggs and halve lengthwise. Carefully remove yolks and mash in a bowl with a fork (I like to blend all the filling ingredients in a bowl with my hand mixer).  Add mayonnaise, mustard, and cayenne and stir with fork until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Fill pastry bag, if using, with yolk mixture and pipe (or spoon) into egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika and chives, if desired.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

My Top Ten Favorites of 2019!

It's been a rough week or so in The Stirring The Pot household. I came down with both a sinus and ear infection, plus bronchitis, then I wasn't quite recovered from that before I came down with the stomach bug. I was still coughing and recovering from the stomach bug when I came down with a fever. So, I've spent the weekend sleeping and resting and can now say that I finally feel as though I'm on the mend.

We're supposed to be making dishes with ingredients we're thankful for, but I didn't quite feel like getting back in the kitchen, so I'm going to be sharing My Top Ten Favorites of 2019, all of which I'm very thankful for!

(click on the recipe title to be directed to the original post with recipe)
These may very well be my favorite recipe of 2019. They are the best chicken wings I've ever had, hands down. Cooked under a broiler, they are perfectly crispy on the outside and so very tender and juicy inside. Plus, Bittman's homemade buffalo sauce is complete perfection, flavorful and garlicky.

Surely this is not the first time you're seeing this famous tart. Do yourself a favor and make it.

These should speak for themselves. I mean if Jacques Pepin and Julia Child got together and created  a mashed potato recipe, then you already know it's gonna be THE ONE. Add in some homemade garlic powder, which has been one of my favorite ingredients to cook with this year, and you have a winner.

This pizza had me dreaming I was on a cliffside surrounded by good looking Italian men somewhere on the Amalfi coast (hey, Amalfi is know for its lemons, is it not)? If you love white pizza, this pizza is for you. Cheesy, with a hint of spice, lemon, and fresh basil. It's simply light and luscious.

Ina is known for being the Queen of Chicken, but I've also crowned her the Queen of Plum Desserts. Have you ever looked at the sheer number of plum desserts she has? No, well you need to. Then you need to come around to plums and realize that they make for one of the most amazing fruity desserts around, with their ability to be both sweet and sour. This recipe is a major winner! Sweet, sour, juicy plums topped off with a hefty dose of nutty crumble. This dessert is a dream!

Homemade hummus is one of the best dishes there is, as far as I'm concerned. And, if you're going to make it, then turn to no one other than Yotam Ottolenghi. Make his Hummus Kawarma with lemon sauce and crispy bits of ground lamb, which is oh so heavenly, OR make this Hummus with Ful, which is really like having two bean dips in one. Either way, you're in for a velvety delicious dip that has the most wonderful mouth feel! One of the best things on the planet for sure!

This dish is another one that is at the very top of the list. In fact, of the two potato dishes in this roundup, this one is my favorite! First, you have a crusty baked potato skin coated in herbs and spices and then you fill it with a whipped feta topping?  It's total perfection. In fact, the potato never had it so good. This is quite easily the most flavor a potato has ever had. In fact, I'm adding the ingredients to my grocery list as we speak.

This is one of those dishes that you make and you know it's going to be good, but then you end up being absolutely blown away. This is hands down my favorite frittata dish. The reason: the sliced potatoes slide to the bottom of the pan and create a crispy potato layer on the bottom. Plus, feta cheese is my favorite. I look for any reason to eat some feta (see above). However, this dish would be easy enough to change up. Keep the potatoes and add different veggies, cheeses, and herbs. Delicious!

When I posted this recipe I said, "The bottom line is...Food Cart Curry Chicken is something I think just about anyone would love, very family-friendly, and this recipe is perfection. I highly recommend giving it a try!' I still stand by this. I think it could be part of every home cook's go-to chicken dishes!

This recipe for Baked Cheddar Olives is just special. It was my very favorite Ruth Reichl recipe and is one of my very favorite recipes of this year, if not the favorite. It's retro, it's fun, and it's so delicious! The best part is, it's cheap, easy, and made with pantry ingredients. Think of these like a cheesy cracker wrapped around a juicy little tangy olive. Absolutely perfect for the upcoming holidays! Once you pop 'em, you can't stop.

Can't wait to see what amazing dishes come out of The Stirring The Pot kitchen in 2020!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Giada's Calabrian Chile Pasta

When it comes to quick and simple weeknight meals, Pasta is King! Not only is pasta comforting and delicious, but it can be put on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Giada's Calabrian Chile Pasta is probably the easiest pasta dish around. From start to finish it can be on your table in about 20 minutes. The secret: you don't have to wait for a big pot of water to boil. For this dish, you cook the pasta in a skillet with about 1" of water, which takes only minutes to boil.

I loved this method of cooking pasta because not all of the water cooks out and the residual water, filled with the starch from the pasta, remains and helps to create a very silky smooth pasta sauce. All you have to do is add the Calabrian Chile Paste, Pecorino, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and chives. When you toss all that together in the pan you get the most luxurious pasta sauce, spicy and so silky and smooth.

I really liked this dish, and other reviewers on Food Network did as well. I enjoyed this method for cooking the pasta and will most definitely use it again. I am a little conflicted about the flavor of the dish. It was good, but I felt like something was missing. It definitely needs some garlic. I also think it needs more than a splash of lemon juice. I found I needed to add quite a bit to brighten up the dish. Overall, it was good, but it has the potential to be great. I'd like to play with the recipe a bit more, perhaps even trying different brands of Calabrian Chile Paste.

Calabrian Chile Pasta
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

1 pound penne pasta
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup grated Pecorino
1-pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons Calabrian hot pepper paste
1/3 cup chopped chives
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice, from 1/2 lemon or more, depending on taste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Optional: add garlic, to taste, if you wish

Note: I omitted the cherry tomatoes simply because the grocery store didn't have them.

In a 10-inch high-sided saute pan, bring 1 inch of water (about 4 cups) to a boil over high heat.  Add the penne and salt.  Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente, about 9 minutes (mine was about 7 minutes); there should be a little water left in the pan.

Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle the pecorino over the pasta; toss to coat. Add the tomatoes, chile paste, chives, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil, and toss.

Note: If you'd like to add garlic I think it would be best to saute a few minced cloves in the skillet before cooking the pasta.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Nigella's Clean Out The Pantry Granola Muffins (w/ Caramel Apple Granola)

We started I Heart Cooking Clubs back in the fall of 2009 with The Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson, as our very first chef. I fell in love with Nigella and the way she writes about food. I think we all did. I cooked a lot of delicious Nigella recipes, but my favorite Nigella recipe was, and continues to be, these Granola Muffins!

I made Nigella's Granola Muffins for the first time back in February of 2010. That time around I made them with a very simple oats and honey granola and I fell in love. I drizzled them with a touch of honey and gobbled them up.

Back in 2018, I made Nigella's Granola Muffins with oats and honey granola again, but changed things up by adding sliced almonds, dried cherries, and coconut chips. They were equally delicious and I loved the added texture of the added nuts and dried fruit.

Now I'm making them again using a seasonal Caramel Apple Granola from Trader Joe's. This granola has a mix of oats, sweet and tart apple slices, peanuts, and pumpkin-spiced pumpkin seeds and let me tell makes for a delicious autumn-inspired muffin!

I love these muffins for so many reasons. They're so simple, so versatile, and so delicious. They're also a great way to clean out your pantry. Have some leftover granola, dried fruit, or nuts? Go ahead and throw it in. Have fun trying different combinations! Whichever granola and add in's you chose you are sure to have a tasty treat! You really can't go wrong!

Granola Muffins
Adapted from Feast 
by Nigella Lawson
Makes 12

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups granola
Optional: Any kind of dried fruit, or nut, or chocolate chip for added flavor

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper muffin cups (I never line with cups, choosing to butter and lightly flour them instead).

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a wide-necked pitcher whisk together the buttermilk, egg, sugar, and oil. Pour this into the dry ingredients and mix lightly to combine. Fold in the granola and then fill the muffin tin. Bake for 25 minutes (mine only needed 20 minutes), until the muffins have risen and become golden brown. 

Remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Nigella's Toad In The Hole

It has been far too long since I've cooked with The Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson. To remedy that, I decided on an old-fashioned British classic, Toad In The Hole.

Toad In The Hole is a traditional dish that is basically links of sausage popping out of a popover batter.  The sausages are said to appear like toads poking their heads out of holes.

Now, Nigella changes things up a bit because according to her, "I really don't like the way that the sausages, when this is prepared in the traditional manner, go a spooky braised pink as they cook within the batter." So she removes the sausage from the casing and forms little patties.

Now, I've never tried the traditional way, with the links, but I can see Nigella's point and therefore chose to go with her method. In the end, I think it makes the dish a little more appetizing and also easier to eat.

Please do yourself a favor and try this classic dish.  It is incredibly simple to put together and requires very little ingredients. It makes for a comforting family meal, perfect for kids. Toad In The Hole is typically served with onion gravy and peas and/or mashed potatoes. The onion gravy truly brings together the flavors of the Toad In The Hole with the peas and mashed potatoes for a delightfully different meal. My favorite parts were the crunchy bits of the batter close to the edge!

Toad In The Hole
Recipe Adapted from Nigella's Kitchen
by Nigella Lawson
Serves 4-6

For The Toad In The Hole
1-1/2 cups milk
4 eggs
pinch salt
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
approximately 1 pound good pork sausages (6 in number)
1 tablespoon fat or oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnishing

For Onion Gravy
2 tablespoons fat or oil
2 onions, peeled, halves, and very finely sliced
2 teaspoons sugar
4 teaspoons flour
2 cups beef broth
splash of marsala, if desired

For the Toad In The Hole: Preheat the oven to 425F. Whisk the milk and eggs together with the salt, then whisk in the flour, beating to make a smooth batter. I find this way round makes for a lighter batter.

Press the sausage meat out of its casing (you may need to nick the skin with a knife), half a sausage at a time, rolling it in your hands to form a ball, and then squash gently to make a little, fat patty. You should get 12 patties from the 6 sausages.

Heat the fat or oil in a heavy-based, flame-safe roasting pan on the stove and brown the patties for about 1 minute each side; you need do no more than make them look enticingly brown.

With the patties and oil still hot, pour in the batter and quickly drop in the sprigs of thyme. Absolutely immediately put into the oven for about 40 minutes or until the edges of the batter have risen and turned golden, and the eggy middle has set.

Serve immediately, scattered with a thyme sprig or two or just a few leaves, and with gravy (if you feel you can only properly enjoy your popovers when they are sauce-sogged.

For Onion Gravy: Warm 2 tablespoons fat or oil and then cook 2 onions, halved, and very finely sliced, until soft (about 10 minutes). Add 2 teaspoons sugar, and let the onions cook, caramelizing a little for another 3 or so minutes, before stirring in 4 teaspoons flour, then 2 cups beef broth. When thickened and hot, add a glug of marsala (if you wish) to taste.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Ruth Reichl's Butternut Squash, Sausage, and Walnut Lasagne

When I first got my hands on Ruth Reichl's The Gourmet Cookbook, there were two recipes that jumped out at me, begging me to make them. The first was her Parmesan Walnut Salad in Endive Leaves, which I made straight away, and the next was her Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Lasagne, which I'm just now getting to because...well, it requires a lot of time and effort.

So, I've adapted this recipe for two reasons: one, I don't care for hazelnuts BUT I do love walnuts, and second, I wanted to add a little bit of sausage for flavor. Hence, Butternut Squash, Sausage, and Walnut Lasagne. I also read the reviews and decided to amp up the onion and garlic, add red pepper flakes, and add some more cheese, in the form of Gruyere. Mozzarella and Parmesan are good and all, but Gruyere belongs in this lasagne since it's nutty flavor pairs beautifully with both the walnuts and the butternut. Feel free to play with the flavors and adapt the dish how you like!

Just so you know, we're talking about layers of fresh pasta sheets covered in chunks of tender butternut squash seasoned with spicy sausage, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, walnuts, sage, and parsley; creamy bechamel sauce; and three kinds of cheese: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Fresh Mozzarella, and Gruyere.

I mean I don't wanna get in the habit of writing love letters to chefs, but I could definitely write Ruth a love letter about this lasagne. The flavors and textures are simply incredible, friends! This is an amazing dish and one that you could definitely entertain over the autumn months.

Now, I knew that I would really like this dish, but I wasn't expecting to be bowled over with flavors and textures. While there is plenty of butternut squash in this dish it is not overwhelming in any way. You get the flavor of the butternut, along with the spicy sausage, the creamy bechamel sauce, and all the cheeses, and you wanna know what's really nice in this dish? The crunch from the walnuts. It goes a long way in creating such wonderful texture in this dish. You have both creamy and crunchy, plus little nuggets of butternut along with way. Drop the mic, folks. This is a total winner!

Thanks, Ruth, for another absolutely amazing dish!

Butternut Squash, Sausage, and Walnut Lasagne
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
by Ruth Reichl
Serves 6-8

For Filling:
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 pound ground sausage, spicy or another flavor
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 cup walnuts, toasted, and coarsely chopped 
any broth, optional

For Sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon or more, to taste, minced garlic
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
1 Turkish bay leaf 
1 teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste

For Assembling:
2 cups coarsely grated fresh mozzarella (about 8 ounces)
1 cup finely grated Parmesan-Reggiano (about 2 ounces)
1 cup grated Gruyere (optional)
12 oven-ready (no-boil) lasagne noodles or 3 or 4 fresh pasta sheets

Notes: Feel free to change up this lasagne however you see fit. I loved this with the spicy sausage, but you can definitely make this vegetarian, spicing it up with red pepper flakes, or without! 
Make the filling: Melt butter in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add onion and sausage (if using) cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add squash, garlic, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes (if using) and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is just tender about 15-25 minutes. (I used a little broth here and there while I was cooking the squash so that the ingredients wouldn't stick to the pan). Remove from heat and stir in parsley, sage, and nuts. Taste the mixture and make sure the flavors are where you want them. Let cool. 

Make the sauce: Preheat oven to 425F. Butter a 13x9 baking dish. Set aside. Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, for 3 minutes to make a roux. Add milk in a slow stream, whisking constantly.  Add bay leaf and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes. Whisk in salt and pepper and remove from heat. Discard bay leaf. (Cover the surface of sauce with wax paper if not using immediately). 

To assemble the lasagne: Toss cheeses together in a large bowl. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in a buttered baking dish and cover with 3 lasagne noodles (or a fresh sheet of pasta), leaving space if using separate noodles (pasta will expand). Spread with 2/3 cup sauce and 1/3 of the filling, then sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese.  Top with more noodles, 2/3 cup sauce, 1/3 filling, 1/3 cheese. Repeat layering one more time, using the remaining ingredients. Don't fret.  None of this needs to be exact!

To bake: Tightly cover the baking dish with buttered foil and bake lasagne for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more.  Let lasagne stand for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Garnish with sage and/or parsley, if desired and enjoy!