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Italian Sausage with Lentils

done

Dear Mother Nature:

ENOUGH!

You’ve had you’re little joke!

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We get it. We live in Maine. Snow is part of the equation … except for, as my friend John Dwyer says, July 18th between 1:00 and 1:15.

We’ve shoveled the walk, and

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and shoveled the walk!

And although it doesn’t look that way, dug the car out! (And, no, Jeannie, that isn’t Jack Nicholson and this isn’t Shiningville)

We’ve spent many a quiet Saturday hanging around the house with no problem. A little puttering here, a little puttering there. But when you CAN’T go out. When your driveway looks like one of the faces of Everest, you’re suddenly bored to tears and pacing the house like a caged cat! Well, at least I am. The Dear one spent the last two days building new cabinets for the kitchen (yay, snow!)

Boredom sets in.

Binge eating is a possible solution, but then when it’s time to go outside, you won’t be able to fit into your clothes or get through the front door.

But cooking, cooking is always an option, and for me a cure to what ails me.

I wanted something warm and filling, simple, yet not too simple. Most importantly, it had to be made with what I had on hand. See, our snow has snow and while we may get a wee reprieve this afternoon, Sunday night we’re getting … what, you may ask? Yes, that’s right SNOW! And then Thursday? SNOW!

Wait, we were talking about what I had on hand … sausage, lentils, red wine? Nigella and Nigella Bites saved me and my frosty Dear One.

  • 3–4 T olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • sprinkling of salt
  • 500g Puy lentils
  • 1 fat clove garlic, squished with the side of a knife, and skin removed
  • 8 Italian sausages
  • 100ml red wine
  • 50ml water
  • flat-leaf parsley for sprinkling

NOTE: THIS IS A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF LENTILS! I used slightly less than half and still have some in the freezer for soup!

To cook the lentils, put 2–3 tablespoons of the oil into a good-sized saucepan (and one which has a lid that fits) on the heat and when it’s warm add the chopped onion. Sprinkle with salt (which helps prevents it browning) and cook over a low to medium heat till soft (about 5 minutes).

Add the lentils, stir well and then cover generously with cold water. Bring to the boil, then cover and let simmer gently for half an hour or so until cooked and most, if not all, the liquid’s absorbed. I don’t add salt at this stage since the sauce provided by the sausages later (and which will be poured over the lentils) will be pretty salty itself.

NOTE: You can cook the lentils in advance.

When either the lentils are nearly ready or you’re about to reheat them, put a heavy-based frying pan on the stove, add a little olive oiland add the bruised garlic. Cook for a few minutes then add the sausages and brown. When the sausages are brown on both sides add the wine and water and let bubble up.

NOTE: You can add some extra chopped garlic here.

Cover the pan, either with a lid or tin foil, and cook for about 15 minutes. Using a fork, mash the now-soft garlic into the sauce and taste for seasoning, adding a little more water if it’s too strong.

Remove the lentils to a shallow bowl or dish then cover with the sausages and their garlicky, winey sauce. Sprinkle over some flat-leaf parsley.

NOTE: OR … takes sausages out, add the lentils, mix, sausages back on top and sprinkle with parsley!

done 2

Hasselback Potatoes with Bacon

Potatoes Finished
A side dish. A side dish. Don’t you just find yourself making the same ones over and over again? Rice, potatoes, orzo (no comments, Marg!) I find that particularly true with POTATOES … mashed, baked, roasted, baked, mashed, roasted, and roasted again … B-O-R-I-N-G.
If this dinner was going all the way, the potato had to go all the way as well.  I had seen Nigella make these years ago and had tagged them in Forever Summer to try one of these days.
Always to be one to gild the lily, I added BACON. Bacon makes everything better!
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon, cut crosswise into 9 pieces
  • 2+ tablespoons butter, melted
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375º.

After peeling potatoes, place them in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning.

Lay the bacon pieces on a baking sheet and freeze until hard, about 30 minutes. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

Cutting Potatoes

Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and carefully transfer to a baking sheet; let cool slightly.

NOTE: This just gets them started cooking a little faster.

One at a time place potato lengthwise on a cutting board. Place wooden spoons lengthwise along the potato. Cut slices across the short side of the potato, about 1/8 inch apart. The wooden spoons will prevent your knife from cutting completely through the potato. You don’t want to cut through to the bottom of the potato.

Stuffed with Bacon

Once cut,place potatoes on a baking sheet and insert 3 pieces of the frozen bacon into the cuts of each potato, spacing the bacon evenly and letting it poke out of the top. Melt 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter and brush generously over the potatoes and in the cuts. Reserve any excess butter for basting. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.

NOTE: Okay, so I used more than THREE pieces in each potato. THREE? Seriously?

Transfer the potatoes to the oven and bake until the outsides are browned and crisp, about 40 minutes, basting halfway through with the reserved melted butter.

Season with salt and pepper.

Fattoush Salad #SundaySupper

Ready to serve

One of the things I long for during the long, cold, dreary winter is meat on the grill.

Nothing smells better. Nothing tastes better. Well, only if you’re a carnivore at heart, of course.

One of my favorite things on the grill is lamb … lamb chops, to be exact. And to bring this end-of-the-winter, let’s-celebrate-the-spring feast together for me nothing is better than a Fattoush Salad from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson.

The salad is bright and fresh. Great, simple ingredients, simply dressed.

To make the salad gluten free,  just skip the last step and don’t add the pita bread.

This is another one of those do-ahead dishes that just gets better as it sits waiting for you to devour it! And devour it you will!

  • 2 pita breads
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise and chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • Generous handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 6-8 T olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt
  • 1 t Sumac powder to sprinkle over finished salad

Ingredients

NOTE: I used an English cucumber and had to cut it into eighths, not quarters. I find they’re much less watery.

Panorama

Gently, but thoroughly, mix the chopped red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley and garlic together.

Waiting

Dress the salad with the olive oil, lemon juice and a little salt.  Refrigerate until almost ready to serve.

You want to have the pita bread still slightly warm and crisp, so this final step should be done just before serving.  Split the pita bread in half and toast or put in the oven for five minutes.  They should be crisp, but not completely brittle.

Using scissors, snip, or just break apart with your hands, the toasted pita bread into medium to small pieces and stir into the salad mixture.

NOTE: This was a lot of salad for two people. Knowing I’d be using the rest of this salad for lunch the next day, I sprinkled the pita shards on top so they would be eaten then and wouldn’t be a yucky, soggy mess in the salad the next day.

Done

Sprinkle over the sumac so it is noticeable but not too thick.

This is part of another wonder Sunday Supper. This week’s theme ‘Free for All’ hosted by Beate at The Not So Cheesy Kitchen. Check out the rest of the posts if you get a chance!
Breakfast
Breakfast

  • Dairy, Egg, Gluten, Nut & Soy Free Brown Rice Breakfast Pudding by girlichef
  • Dairy & Nut and Sugar Free Blueberry Tangerine Muffins by Vintage Kitchen
  • Dairy, Egg, Gluten, Nut, and Soy Free Homemade Mango Jam Recipe by Masala Herb

Main Courses

Sides
Breads

Treats

Drinks

sunday supper Sneak Peek: 45+ Fabulous Summer Berry Recipes for #SundaySupper

Love Buns

What better for Valentine’s Day than Nigella’s Love Buns from Feast. So easy to put together! Everything in the food processor!. The frosting is a little fiddley, but it’s just time consuming.

Cupcakes

 

  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon soft butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk

Take everything you need out of the fridge in time to bring to room temperature — this apparently makes a huge difference to the lightness of the love buns later — and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put all of the ingredients for the buns, except for the milk, into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pulse while adding the milk down the funnel to make a smooth, dropping consistency.

Divide the mixture into a 12-bun muffin tin lined with muffin papers or heart-patterned cases, and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. They should have risen and be golden on top; you want a little peak if possible.

NOTE: The casings don’t look really full, but they really do rise quite a bit.

Let them cool a little in their tin on a rack, and then take them carefully out of the tin to cool in their papers, still on the wire rack.

Now for the topping. The problem with the topping is you make more than you need for the 12 cupcakes, but if you halve the quantities, you don’t have quite enough.  My solution was to top the cupcakes, and with the leftover topping, I melted chocolate in a double boiler, some cream and the topping. Made a great hot fudge sauce for icecream.

Topping

 

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Heart-shaped sprinkles or colored sugar to decorate

This is a frosting that has a kind of meringue base, by which you whisk egg whites over heat until they’re stiff and gleaming. So make a double-boiler with a heatproof bowl that will fit snugly over a saucepan of barely simmering water, and put all of the ingredients for the frosting, except for the vanilla and sprinkles, into the bowl. Whisk everything with an electric beater until the icing becomes thick and holds peaks like a meringue. This will take about 5 minutes, so be patient.

Take the bowl off the saucepan and onto a cool surface and keep whisking while you add the vanilla. Then keep whisking until the mixture cools a little. You want a proper peaked and whipped covering here, so spoon some frosting over each bun and then dollop another spoonful over in a swirly fashion. Immediately shake over your choice of sprinkles, as the icing will set very quickly.

NOTE: I have made these many times before. For some reason, after adding the vanilla, the topping wasn’t as stiff as it had been. Sigh. Still very yummy though!