Sausage and Spinach Turnovers

February 21st, 2015

Sausage Turnovers 1

What a fun meal!  I am going to adapt this idea to all kinds of different fillings.  Meat pies, or pasties, have a long tradition.  When Cornish miners migrated to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the 1800’s they brought this meat pie recipe with them.  It was later adopted by the wave of Finnish miners who followed.  It was easy to eat while underground.  The miners reheated their hand pies on shovels set over mining candles.

Sausage Turnovers 4VI have mentioned before that David’s Mother’s family were Finnish and settled in the UP.  Their last name was Syrjanen.  David’s Grandfather Gus Syrjanen founded the Trenary Home Bakery that is still in operation today.  It is known for its Trenary Toast.  There is also a family connection to designers and architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen.  When we were in the UP researching family history we enjoyed eating pasties at several small restaurants.  At the time, David did not love them, but the version I made this time was a real hit.

Sausage Turnovers 3 Better

It was probably the hot chicken sausage that did it for him.  Most pasty recipes use ground beef and potatoes, which can be rather bland.  This was very tasty with the sausage, onions, red bell peppers and spinach.  The crust was made from Pillsbury pie dough so was easy to assemble.  You could make your own pastry but I needed a quick dinner the night that I made these.  They were perfect over a tossed salad.

Sausage Turnover 6

Pasties or hand pies are so versatile.  You can fill them with anything.  How about a Mexican filling with ground beef, cumin, salsa and cheese.  Or make it vegetarian with black beans and cheese.  My DIL Kristen made a version using pizza dough, seasoned chicken, sour cream and cheese.  There are so many possibilities.

SAUSAGE AND SPINACH TURNOVERS (Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine )

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 Medium red potato, peeled and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 (3.5 oz.) links of hot chicken Italian sausage, casings removed
3 cups bagged washed baby spinach
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil.  Add potatoes, bell pepper, and onion to pan; saute 4 minutes or until onion begins to brown, stirring frequently.  Add sausage; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.  Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts.  Stir in basil, crushed red pepper, and salt.  Remove from heat.

Cut dough into 4 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a 5-inch circle.  Spoon about 1/2 cup sausage mixture on half of each circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border.  Fold dough over sausage mixture until edges almost meet.  Bring bottom edge of dough over top edge; crimp edges of dough to form a rim.

Place turnovers on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Combine 1 tablespoon water and egg white in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk; brush evenly over dough.  Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons cheese over each turnover.  Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or until golden brown.  Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

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Puff Pastry Tomato-Parmesan Hearts

February 12th, 2015

 

Puff pastry hearts edited
Happy Valentines Day.  I know that most everyone is making chocolate desserts for Valentines Day, but I decided that I wanted something a little bit different. I love chocolate but I also love a good appetizer to be served before a decadent dinner of steak with bearnaise sauce, truffled mashed potatoes and asparagus with prosciutto and parmesan.  These bites would make the perfect beginning for that romantic dinner.  Actually that is just my fantasy dinner.  We will be in North Carolina celebrating our Grandson’s 4th birthday on Valentines Day.  Perhaps he will have a chocolate cake.

Puff Pastry hearts 3V

But I did make these last night before our dinner of Veal Saltimbocco with Julia Child’s scalloped potatoes and snow peas.  These puff pastry hearts are really very simple.  It just takes a little patience to spoon the topping of tomatoes, shallots, and Parmesan cheese on the pastry hearts.  I tried to maintain a heart shape with the red tomatoes.  My heart cookie cutter measured 1 1/2 inches, but you could use a larger cutter if you prefer.

Puff Pastry hearts 2

Wishing everyone a lovely holiday with your loved ones. I am linking this to Foodie Fridays at Rattlebridge Farm.

PUFF PASTRY TOMATO-PARMESAN HEARTS (Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine)

3/4 cup finely diced seeded plum tomatoes (about 2)
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon champagne or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 to 3 grinds of black peppercorns
1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
Cooking spray or parchment paper
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh small basil leaves for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl.  Place the sheet of pastry dough on a work surface lightly dusted with flour.  Cut the dough with the 1 1/2-inch heart cutter into about 20 pieces.  Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or a piece of parchment paper.  Top each heart with a small amount of cheese and a small amount of the tomato mixture.

Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 15 minutes or until golden.  Sprinkle tarts evenly with salt.  Sprinkle with basil leaves, if desired.

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Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

January 19th, 2015

Sweet Potato Soup 1

It has been quite a week.  Even with a simple kitchen remodel, daily tasks can revert to chaos.  We were able to use our kitchen during the facelift, but because of a leak under the sink, washing dishes was a problem.  I ended up washing dishes in the sink in the garage.  We have eaten simple soups, grilled steaks with baked potatoes and homemade pizza.  This sweet potato soup was one of my favorites.  Not only was it easy, but it was delicious.  When you are in the middle of a project, cooking sweet potatoes in the microwave is a blessing.  Add them to some chicken broth, seasonings, and a quick whir in the immersion blender and dinner is ready.  The bacon, shaved parmesan and parsley is just an added bonus if you have the time.

Florida Kitchen New

Here is a sneak peek of the kitchen remodel.  I will show you more later because not everything is finished.  The contractors were one door short on  the order.  The cabinet to the right of the stove is missing a door.  We also need the contractors to come back to re-adjust shelf heights in one cabinet.  Other than that, we are very pleased with the results.  The cabinets are a shaker style with a subtle bead board panel inset in each door.  To break things up, I requested glass doors in the cabinet over the dishwasher.  I store all of my glassware and cream colored dishes there.   Because we still have soffits over the cabinets, I decided to get creative on top.  I bought inexpensive corrugated metal letters spelling out “Dinner” to add an industrial element to the design.  I already had a “Bon Appetit” sign and black and cream plates on the other wall above the stove.  More later.

Sweet Potato Soup 2

This creamy sweet potato soup came together so quickly, that I thought to myself,” I need to have these ingredients on hand at all times for a quick and easy meal”.  David is not always a fan of sweet potatoes, but this soup convinced him otherwise.  It is thick and hearty.  The crisp bacon and Parmesan shavings complement the whole bowl to perfection.

On another note, hold all of your family and friends close.  We have just lost a dear friend from our college years to cancer.  John will be missed.  My, where have the years gone and why do we have to start dealing with the lose of friends?  I am not ready.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm.

CREAMY SWEET POTATO SOUP ( Cooking Light )

2 pounds sweet potatoes, halved lengthwise (about 2 large)
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt ( I added more )
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves

Place potatoes, cut sides down, in an 11 x 7-inch microwave safe baking dish.  Add 1/4 cup water; cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Cool slightly; discard potato skins.

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add oil; swirl to coat.  Add onion; saute 1 minute or until translucent.  Stir in cumin and red pepper.  Add stock to pan; bring to a boil.  Add sweet potatoes and gently mix in breaking them up slightly.  I used an immersion blender to puree the mixture.  If you do not have an immersion blender,  mix half of the mixture at a time in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Return to pan to reheat.

Divide soup evenly among 4 to 6 bowls; sprinkle cooked bacon and Parmesan cheese evenly over top.  Garnish with parsley, if desired.

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Venetian Fish Soup

December 3rd, 2014

Venetian Fish Soup 1

I don’t know about you, but after the Thanksgiving holidays I crave food that is totally different from that table of white carbs and sweet desserts.  Also, for health reasons, David is trying to eat better.  So he has been on a seafood soup kick lately.  He spends his mornings at the gym and then comes home and throws something together like this Venetian fish soup.  Similar to bouillabaisse or cioppino, this fragrant fish soup is vibrant and alive with flavor.

Venetian Fish Soup 2V

Shrimp and fish fillets are the protein in this soup.  Combined with vegetables, clam juice, crushed tomatoes and white wine, you have a relatively light bowl of goodness.  If you wanted to add some carbs to the mix you could add a piece of garlic infused toasted baguette to the bowl before you add the soup.  But for lunch we liked it just the way that it was.

Venetian Fish Soup 3

The recipe came from Food and Wine Magazine.  David adapted it slightly.  But I am showing it here as it was written.  I am fortunate to have him in the kitchen doing his healthy cooking.  Maybe it will offset all of the cookies I am getting ready to make.

VENETIAN FISH SOUP

1/2 pound large shrimp, shells removed and reserved
2 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups bottled clam juice
2 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in puree (from a 28-ounce can)
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
5 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt or more, depending on the saltiness of the clam juice
2 bay leaves
2 pounds moderately firm white fish fillets such as cod, halibut, ocean perch, orange roughy, or pollack (cut in pieces)
Freshly ground black pepper

Put the shrimp shells and the water in a small pot; bring the water to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Strain the shrimp stock into a bowl.  Discard the shells.

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat.  Add the carrots, onions, fennel, celery and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine; cook until it almost evaporates, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the shrimp stock, clam juice, tomatoes, red-pepper flakes, 4 tablespoons of the parsley, the thyme, salt and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes.  Taste for salt and, if needed, add more,  Remove the bay leaves.

Add the fish, shrimp, the remaining tablespoon parsley and the pepper to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until the fish and shrimp are just done, about 2 minutes.

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Onion Tart

November 19th, 2014

Onion Tart 1

I am still enthralled with Mimi Thorisson’s A Kitchen in France, so bear with me for another recipe from this astounding cookbook.  To quote Mimi, ” I always have a big bowl of onions on my kitchen table in various shades and sizes.  To me they are as beautiful as any vase of flowers and as necessary as running water or a working stove”.  This tart transforms the essential onion into an even more beautiful presentation.  Besides that, it is easy.

Onion Tart 2V

I used a store-bought puff pastry for the crust.  The combination of slow cooked onions, balsamic vinegar, honey and bacon make for a flavorful topping.  I would even consider serving this cut into small pieces as an appetizer for Thanksgiving.

Onion Tart 3

Mimi made her tart in a 10-inch round tart pan.  I have this 7.5″ x 11.5″ rectangular pan that I thought made it very festive.  Although I loved this tart there are a few changes I would make next time.  I thought the amount of oil, butter and bacon grease made it a bit too full of fat.  Also if your tart pan has a removable bottom, I would put it on a cookie sheet because the fat leaked out of the bottom.  But the flavor was sublime.  This is the kind of dish that I would choose for a light supper with a salad and a glass of wine or as the aforementioned appetizer.

ONION TART

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling ( I would suggest 1 tablespoon )
2 tablespoons unsalted butter ( I would suggest 1 tablespoon )
3 1/2 ounces bacon, cut into lardons or diced
1 pound onions, thinly sliced ( I used 3 onions )
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
All-purpose flour for rolling the dough
8 ounces puff pastry, homemade or store-bought

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the bacon and fry until browned, about 3 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium-low, add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Add the honey, balsamic vinegar, and thyme, increase the heat to high, and boil to reduce for 2 to 3 minutes.  Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick.  Line a 10-inch tart pan with the pastry and prick the bottom several times with a fork.  Trim the edges.  Scoop the onion mixture into the tart shell.  ( Place on baking sheet ).  Bake until the pastry is crisp and golden, about 20 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before drizzling with olive oil ( If needed ) and serving.

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