Give me a cold day. Any cold day. Let me have time and peace to stir together something that incubates in my oven gently easing its teasing, come-hither aromas throughout the house and drawing near all who enter. Add an entrancing, captivating book waiting for me during that 3-hour parole and I am a happy girl. Ok, include a balanced, but lofty bottle of wine and the deal is sealed.
Upcoming cooking classes: see above, top right corner-CURRENT CLASSES. Come cook and eat. No shopping and no cleanup. I promise.
NOTE: After this post, More Time will be on vacation for a wee while. I’ll see you when I get back!
About once a year I invite folks for a slow-down-your-life, stay and chat Sunday brunch for which the menu is short and sweet: a few quiches–each different, all made ahead and warming as folks have a first drink, a big bowl of fresh fruit cut up and maybe mixed with some fresh mint, a basket of muffins and/or rolls or a skillet of crispy potatoes (recipes below), and a choice of “osas” (OH-sahs)—MIMosas, POMosas, Bellinis, CRANmosas, and so on (choose your own juice or fruit and top with sparkling wine.) A big pot of coffee is turned on just before guests’ arrival, brunch music is tuned in, and everything is laid out on the table or counter all happily self-serve. Plates are at the start, food in the middle, and flatware is wrapped and tied in napkins, placed in a basket at the end of the buffet so no one must juggle plate, flatware, and dishing up food all at the same time. Drinks are set-up in their own stations and guests sit wherever they like, moving around at will, as conversations wax and wane, or when they’re hunting seconds.
Recipe for Blueberry Muffins from my book (below)
This class, taught at Mountain High Appliance (formerly Shouse) in the Jenn-Air Kitchen (or at home if I have just four students!) focuses on the main portion of a basic make-ahead brunch that you can embellish (i.e.muffins, coffee cake, green salad, bloody marys), but also gives you the happy opportunity to create your very own breakfast sausage and a warm, boozy bread pudding for dessert–which, according to Ina Garten, is what people will remember anyway. (I think people will remember the comfort of being together.) The Menu, then, which can be divided between guests for potluck, looks like this: Continue reading
|Italian sausage, red peppers, grilled eggplant, onions, garlic…a little fresh mozzerella. Throw in some pasta and–
Note to readers: for an updated, totally done on the grill version, please click here
Coming off a plane, I’m often greeting thoughts like, “Did I leave anything at home that’ll work for dinner?” I usually stop by the store anyway for fresh produce or something to fix quickly. Yesterday, as I traveled home from Minneapolis, I remembered a couple of eggplants wilting in the crisper. Odd phrase, eh? In other words, they needed to be used. What else? Italian sausage in the freezer that I had put in at Christmas, but hadn’t yet cooked. Sounded like a grilled pasta sauce night to me. Mid-winter, I often am jonesing for something grilled. I have two grill pans: one is a square Calphalon and the other is a large, rectangular cast-iron grill that is flat on one side and ribbed on the other to siphon grease off the food or to provide the ubiquitous grill marks.
I did run in for veggies for a chopped salad…bibb lettuce, radicchio, cilantro, parsley, red pepper, tomatoes… I already had a little blue cheese.
Right now, the eggplant is sliced, salted and dribbling its dew (weeping copiously? bawling like a baby?) into a towel. I’m about to start the pasta water, heat the grill, and start grilling cut pieces of sausage. Oh, and a Seghesio Barbera’s waiting on the table. (If you don’t know Seghesio, grab one of their zinfandels next time you’re in the wine shop and try that with grilled sausage and peppers, pizza or anything grilled.) The recipe isn’t written, but will come together as I cook…and I’ll place it below the pics…. Enjoy!
|Slice the eggplant thickly, salt and let drain on toweling.|
|Ah, California wine.|
|Ah, Italian tomatoes!|
|Indoor grilling of cut Italian sausage and eggplant|
|Sauteed red peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes…a little wine didn’t hurt.|
|Cook some pasta.|
|The sauce comes together with the addition of the grilled eggplant and sausage|
|Adding the mozzerella and fresh basil to the hot pasta. Mix this with the sauce and…
Vieni a mangiare! (Come and eat!)
Grilled Eggplant-Sausage Pasta with Fresh Mozzerella serves 6 (8-10 for a first course)
- 1# pasta such as penne, mostaccioli, tortiglione or rigatoni
- 2 T olive oil, divided
- 1# Italian sausage (sweet or hot), cut into 2″ pieces
- 1 large eggplant, peeled, and sliced into 1/2-1″ pieces (salted and drained on toweling)
- 1 large onion, chopped coarsely
- 1 red pepper, chopped coarsely
- 8 oz fresh, whole mushrooms, wiped, trimmed and cut into halves
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28 oz can tomatoes (I like Italian-canned tomatoes) or 4 chopped fresh tomatoes-in summer only
- 1/4 c red wine or water
- sprinkle ea of salt, pepper and crushed red pepper
- 1 T honey
- 1 pint container of fresh mozzerella
- 1/2 c fresh chiffonade (julienned) basil (or 2t dried basil); save out a little for garnish
- 1/2 c Parmesan, grated (opt)
- Bring pot of well- salted and peppered water (10 qts) to boil, reduce heat and hold. (Bring it back to boil soon as you get part-way through making sauce.) I like 1 T dried or fresh basil in my water, too.
- Heat oven to 250 F and place oven-safe bowls or plates in to warm.
- Heat grill to medium (10 min) and wipe with an oiled paper towel. Add sausage and eggplant.
- Meantime, heat saute pan with rest of oil and add onion, red peppers and mushrooms. Cook until nearly tender and add garlic. Saute together for 1-2 minutes and add tomatoes, wine, salt, pepper, red pepper and honey. Stir, bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Taste and adjust seasonings. (More salt and/or honey will cut the acidity of the wine and tomatoes.)
- Bring water back to boil and add pasta. Cook 11-13 minutes or til al dente. Drain and place back in pot. Add mozzerella and most of the basil, saving some for garnish. Cover and hold.
- When sausage and eggplant are done, chop eggplant coarsely and add both to sauce. Simmer 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings again. Add sauce to the pasta mixture and stir gently, breaking up large hunks of mozzerella.
- Serve in warmed pasta bowls. Garnish with reserved basil. Pass Parmesan, if using.
Cook’s Note: If you’re making this in the summertime, why not grill all of the ingredients and just use fresh tomatoes (skip wine/water, honey) for a very light al fresco meal? You could cook the pasta in the morning before the temperature rises, store it in the frig, and bring it out in time to let it warm to room temp.
Two-Dog Kitchen or What’s Goin’ on in the ‘Hood:
Back from Minnesota trip where we almost froze literally; my skin is still peeling. The day I left Colorado, it was -20 in St. Paul. We’re not talking wind-chill. I was so glad Dave wasn’t coming that day. A 6 hour delay in our airport first…. Hey, I had a wonderful time reading the NYT cover to cover, getting a good start on a novel, enjoying a long lunch, and–not so fun–listening to my fellow travelers talking on the phone all day. (There are so many private spots in the airport; why?)
House hunted for the third time! and this time made an offer on a house:
|The view from what might be my new kitchen window. Lots of birds!!!|
Still job-seeking…like a million? other Americans. I’m grateful to our president for his positive, healing speech last night.
More travel soon….family birthdays, inspections on new houses… and so on.
Sunny and warm here. Ah, Colorado!
Happy 80th Birthday to Gene Morgan!
|Here’s Dave’s Dad, Gene, and his Mom, Lorna, at Emily’s college graduation–all smiles.|
Sing a new song,
- I used a small pork shoulder (well trimmed!) for the basic bean cooking, keeping out pound and a half – or so to make the sausage.
- I bought duck (legs) confit for a horrible price at Whole Foods. (Worth it if you’re rushed.)
- I had my talented husband take the extra pork and make French garlic sausage, as no one that I could find sold it nearby. I found directions on-line, but later noticed Julia had one.
- I (sob sob sob) skipped the lamb, despite having some lamb stew meat frozen in my big garage freezer.
I did not document the process precisely as there was not one inch of unoccupied space in my galley kitchen during the two days before Christmas. My pictures are helpful, however, and I will bring together the recipe I think I made. Also, I have some in the freezer and can unthaw it and look at it if needed. If you live nearby and want to taste this, let me know! What’s beautiful about this sort of dish, is that just like your own favorite baked beans or chili, it’s never exactly like any recipe.. it’s how you liked to make it that day. It changes with the year, the availability of ready cash for duck confit, the wine vintage and with how your heart is cooking.
Preheat oven to 325 (350 for altitude baking) Take bean mixture out of the refrigerate and warm up over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the rest of the chicken stock. Taste. If you season now, remember that you will soon add sausage that is well-seasoned. Add boned duck. Pour mixture into a large Dutch oven or very large casserole and bake for about 2 hours.