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.

Printable Recipe

Medoc Stuffed Cabbage

November 14th, 2014

Chou Farci 1

In the Medoc region of France stuffed cabbage is called Chou Farci.  But stuffed cabbage is called many names by numerous cultures.  The Polish name for stuffed cabbage is Golabki or Galumpkis.  The Czech name is Holubky.  The Serb and Croatian name is Sarma.  How then did my Mother come up with the name Habacha?  I have no idea where that originated.  But I do remember how wonderful her cabbage rolls tasted.

Chou Farci 2V

So naturally when I received Mimi Thorrison’s new cookbook,  A Kitchen in FranceI was excited to try her version of stuffed cabbage.  Instead of individual cabbage rolls, she makes one large stuffed cabbage with layers of meat and cabbage leaves.  She uses the ruffled Savoy cabbage which, when fresh, has a bright green color.  I had a hard time finding a bright green savoy cabbage, but did finally find one at my local supermarket.  Use the prettiest bright green leaf for the bottom layer as this is what will be seen when it is inverted.

Chou Farci 3Once the cabbage leaves totally enclose the filling, it is ready to go into the oven.  “It’s all wrapped together in a pretty parcel” in Mimi’s words.  I have to say that this pretty parcel was a lot easier than wrapping individual cabbage leaves.

Chou Farci 4Once cooked it is ready to be inverted onto a serving plate.  You can see now why you should use a pretty cabbage leaf for your base.  I also reinforced that leaf with two others underneath it to keep the filling intact.

Chou Farci 5The meat and sausage filling studded with vegetables was delicious and the cabbage leaves held up well.   This was another successful recipe from my new favorite cookbook.

CHOU FARCI

1 head Savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, finely diced
2/3 pound ground beef
2/3 pound good quality bulk pork sausage
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon Rabelais spice (see Note) or ground allspice
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup canned whole tomatoes, crushed, with their juices
1 large egg

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Meanwhile, core the cabbage leaves and separate them, discarding any coarse outer ones.  Cook the leaves in the boiling water for 8 minutes.  Drain and set aside to cool.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 7-inch souffle dish or charlotte mold with butter.  Put a large pretty cabbage leaf, domed side down, in the dish.  Top with another leaf and continue arranging the leaves until the entire base and sides are covered.  You won’t use all of the leaves at this point (reserve enough for 4 to 5 layers).

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Cook the onion and carrots until softened, 4 minutes.  Add the ground beef, sausage, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, spice and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring once or twice, until the meat is browned.

Pour in the crushed tomatoes, with their juices, and simmer until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the meat mixture has cooled, discard the thyme and bay leaf.  Add the egg and mix well.

Put a layer about 1/2 inch thick of the meat in the cabbage-lined dish and top with a cabbage leaf.  Repeat until you’ve used all of the meat and filled the dish, about 4 layers.  Finish with a final layer of cabbage, making sure to tuck in the leaves on all sides.

Bake for 40 minutes.  To unmold, invert a plate over the souffle dish, flip the plate and dish, and remove the mold.  Serve immediately, cut into slices.

Note:  Rabelais spice is a mix of allspice, nutmeg, and curry – a traditional spice in France since 1820.

Printable Recipe

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta From Mamma Agata

July 30th, 2014

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta 2

 

Back in early June we attended a Blogger event put on by Larry of Big Dudes Eclectic Ramblings.  The theme was Italian. We dined waterside and pretended that we were on the Amalfi Coast.  Larry loaned me one of his Italian Cookbooks to take home so that I could test some recipes.  I almost didn’t want to return it to him.  The cookbook is Mamma Agata: Traditional Italian Recipes of a Family that Cooks with Love and Passion in a Simple Genuine Way.  I loved the cookbook for many reasons.  The recipes are simple.  There are many tricks revealed to make your food delicious and the illustrations are numerous and beautiful.

Mama Agata Cookbook

 

Mamma Agata is an institution on the Amalfi Coast of Italy.  She has cooked for many famous people including Humphrey Bogart, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy.  In recent years Pierce Brosnan has found the delights of Mamma Agata’s simple but delicious Italian food.  As have thousands of others who have attended her fabulous cooking school.  Together, with her daughter Chiara and son-in-law Gennaro, they will spend a day with you at their breathtaking villa teaching you how to cook true Italian food and pairing it with just the right wine.

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta 1

 

I decided to try this recipe using sausage and peppers and homemade tomato sauce because the farm stand that I visit is just now getting in local peppers and tomatoes.  Using the freshest ingredients possible really does make a difference on your finished plate.  One of the tips that Mamma Agata offers when making her fresh tomato sauce is to start with a pan off of the heat.  Add the olive oil, garlic and basil all at once and then put it on the heat.  As it heats, the oils from the garlic are released and they along with the basil infuse the oil with their essence.

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta 3

 

Topped with shards of Parmesan, this really was one of the best pasta dishes that I have ever made.  If you want this cookbook it is probably best to go to Mamma Agata’s website to order it.  She ships worldwide and your copy will be signed.  When I tried to order it on Amazon the book prices started at $170.00.  What is up with that?  By the way, Larry made this dish also.  You can find his post about it here.

PAPPARDELLE CON PEPERONI E BALSICCA (SAUSAGE AND RED PEPPER PASTA)

Serves 4
1/2 lb. Pappardelle Pasta
2 1/4 lbs. of red and yellow sweet bell peppers
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small red or white onion, chopped
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
2 lbs fresh cherry tomatoes, quartered (I used only 1 pint)
5 fresh basil leaves, torn
2 pinches Sea salt
1 cup Mamma Agata’s Tomato Sauce (See Below)

Prepare Mamma Agata’s Tomato Sauce

Wash the peppers and remove the stems. Cut each pepper in half and remove and discard the seeds from inside the peppers.  Slice the peppers lenghwise, but not too thin and not to thick.

Saute the peppers in peanut oil for ten to fifteen minutes until soft.  This makes them easier to digest and also brings out the flavor.  Once the peppers are cooked, place them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

Wipe out the pan and add the butter and olive oil to it.  Once melted add the chopped onion and cook until golden brown.  Remove the onion to a small bowl.  Add the sausage to the pan and cook and sear on all sides.  When nicely browned return the onion to the pan, prick the sausage all over to release the juices and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the peppers to the pan, lifting the sausage so that it is sitting on top of them.  Add the cherry tomatoes, torn basil leaves, salt and the tomato sauce.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook the mixture for 30 minutes.  When done remove the sausage and cut it into rounds and return to the sauce.

Cook the pasta according to package directions to just the al dente stage.  Drain and add it to the pan with the sauce and cook gently for about 2 minutes to marry the flavors.  Serve in bowls topped with shaved Parmesan.

MAMMA AGATA’S TOMATO SAUCE

1 quart of vine-ripened roma tomatoes, pureed
10 fresh cherry tomatoes
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of fresh garlic
3 fresh basil leaves

Mamma Agata’s Secret
The Roma tomatoes used to make this sauce should be vine-ripened so they are sweet.  Sweet tomatoes are the key ingredient in many Italian dishes.  If the tomatoes are not ripe and sweet, we recommend adding a spoonful of sugar to sweeten the sauce.

Add the olive oil, garlic and basil to a large saucepan.  NOTE: When you add the olive oil, garlic and basil to the pan, do so all at the same time.  Do not heat the oil first, then add the garlic and basil to the pan, but rather place all three ingredients into the pan at room temperature and then heat the pan.

Heat the ingredients over a high flame to release the natural oils contained in the fresh garlic, greatly enhancing the flavors of the tomato sauce.  Be careful not to allow the garlic to burn or the oil to smoke.  If this happens, you must throw it out and start over.  The garlic and oil should only be on the high flame for one to two minutes before proceeding to the next step.

When the temperature of the oil begins to rise, add the tomato puree and fresh vine-ripened cherry tomatoes to the pan.  Be careful not to burn yourself or let the oil or tomatoes splash on you.  You should hear a nice sizzling sound and soon you’ll enjoy a wonderful aroma from the fragrant ingredients releasing the oils and combining.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook gently for 30 to 45 minutes.  MY NOTE:  My sauce was a little thin so I added about 1/2 of a jar of a purchased spaghetti sauce (Rao’s Marinara Sauce).

Printable Recipe

 

Bangers and Colcannon with Brown Sugar Guinness Gravy

March 13th, 2014

Guiness Sausage and Colcannon 1

 

If you want to try something a little different for St. Patricks Day, I highly recommend this riff on the traditional corned beef and cabbage.  The colcannon is a mixture of cabbage, mashed potatoes and bacon.  If you are lucky you can find authentic bangers which are British pork sausages.  They got their name because they are said to make a bang sound when they split while cooking.  But the star of this dish is the brown sugar and Guinness Stout gravy.

Guiness Sausage and Colcannon 2V

The sausages are cooked in the beer and then the beer and brown sugar are thickened with a butter and flour mixture.  The taste is excellent with both the sausages and the potato, cabbage mash.  Unfortunately, I did not put much of the gravy on my plate when I photographed it.  I corrected that mistake when I dug into it.

Guiness Sausage and Colannon 3

As far as I know the original recipe came from Tara at Smells Like Home.  You can visit her site to see a better picture of the dish with the gravy.  If you can’t find bangers, any mild sausage will do.  I used an Italian turkey sausage.  The dish is garnished with scallion tops.  It is well worth a celebration.

BANGERS AND COLCANNON WITH BROWN SUGAR GUINNESS GRAVY

For the bangers and gravy:
6 Irish bangers (or mild sausage)
12 oz Guinness beer
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter mashed with 1 1/2 tbsp flour
Pinch of Kosher salt
1-2 tbsp chicken stock, as needed

1. In a 12″ sauté pan, brown bangers on all sides over medium heat. Add beer to pan, reduce to a simmer. Braise bangers until they are fully cooked and the beer reduces by half, about 10 minutes.
2. Remove bangers from the pan and whisk in brown sugar, butter/flour mixture, and salt until the mixture is smooth.  Bring gravy to a gentle boil and reduce to a simmer until thickened.  If the gravy thickens too much, add 1-2 tbsp of chicken stock as needed.

For the Colcannon:
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed(I used Yukon Gold, but russets would do too)
2 3/4 tsp Kosher salt, divided
4 oz bacon, diced
3 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 cup heavy cream

1. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water.  Add 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Boil until potatoes are fork tender, about 10-12 minutes. Drain and keep warm in the saucepan you boiled them in.
2. While the bangers brown and potatoes boil, cook bacon in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until almost crisp, rendering as much bacon fat in the pan as you can.  Add 2 tbsp butter, allow to melt, and then add the cabbage. Sauté mixture until cabbage is almost tender but a slight amount of crunch remains, about 10-15 minutes while stirring occasionally.
3. Add heavy cream and 1 tbsp butter to the pot

Printable recipe

Roasted Sausages and Grapes

January 28th, 2013

There are very few dishes that The Barefoot Contessa does not do well; foolproof recipes so to speak.  Her new cookbook Foolproof; recipes you can trust is a case in point.  One of the recipes she includes is this recipe for Roasted Sausages and Grapes.  The recipe comes from Al Forno, a restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island.  Al Forno is known for its wood-burning ovens and hardwood charcoal grills.  This is a dish I would cook in my fireplace in Lake Lure.

But unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your outlook, we are in Florida without a fireplace.  And fortunately this recipe can be cooked in a 500 degree oven. The  combination of sausages and grapes is a genius idea.  The following picture shows the sausages and grapes ready to go into the oven.

The roasted grapes make a sweet counterpoint to the spicy sausages.  The final touch is a balsamic vinegar reduction that brings it all together.  We absolutely loved this combination.

I served the sausages and grapes with creamy mashed potatoes and zucchini cakes.  This is an easy recipe and a satisfying winter meal.

ROASTED SAUSAGES AND GRAPES

1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian pork sausages
1 1/2 pounds hot Italian pork sausages
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 pounds seedless green grapes, removed from the stems
1/2 cup good balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the sausages, and simmer for 8 minutes to remove some of the fat.  Remove to a plate.

Melt the butter in a large roasting pan on top of the stove.  Add the grapes and toss them to coat with butter.  Transfer the sausages to the roasting pan with tongs, nestling them down in the grapes in one layer.  Place in the oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, turning the sausages once, until they’re browned and the grapes are tender.

Transfer the sausages and grapes to a serving platter with tongs and a slotted spoon and cover with aluminum foil to keep them hot.  Add the balsamic vinegar to the roasting pan and cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes to reduce the balsamic vinegar slightly.  Pour over the sausages and grapes and serve hot.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.