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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

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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

Chicken Teriyaki

There are only so many ways you can cook chicken before you start to resent Frank Perdue, and Murray, and that lovely couple Bell & Evans.

This wonderful recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen. Some really wonderful recipes in this book. This recipe may actually make my poultry resentment fade away.

The recipe is quick and flavorful, and different enough t make things interesting.  If you’re worried about the high sodium content, use low sodium soy sauce.

  • 2 T sake
  • 1/4 C mirin
  • 1/4 C soy sauce
  • 2 T light brown sugar
  • 2 t grated fresh ginger
  • Splash sesame oil
  • 1 3/4 pounds chicken thigh fillets (no skin or bones), cut or scissored into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 t peanut oil
NOTE: Don’t buy sake just for this recipe. You can use vermouth or white wine as a substitute.

Combine the sake, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, ginger and sesame oil in a dish that you can marinate the chicken in.

Add the prepared chicken pieces and let marinate 15 minutes.

Heat the peanut oil in a large shallow frying pan or casserole (that has a lid) over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces from the marinade to the pan. Saute them until they look cooked on the outside.

Add the marinade to the chicken pieces and bring to a bubble, turn down the heat to a gentle simmer, put the lid on and cook for about 5 minutes.

Remove the cooked chicken pieces with a slotted spoon (you could keep them in a bowl covered in aluminum foil to keep them warm) and turn the heat up under the pan to let the liquid boil down to a thick dark syrup.

Return the chicken pieces to the pan, stir well so that all the chicken pieces are coated in the sticky savory syrup. Serve with a comforting pile of sushi rice or rice sticks, perhaps some steamed baby bok choy or other veggies of your choice.

NOTE: In the cookbook, Nigella made this with Sushi rice. On the series that went with, she made it with rice sticks. I found them in Trader Joe’s, but a lot of Asian sections in the supermarket have them as well.

Ghiradelli Chocolate Pavlova

 

I want to dive into this picture and eat the whole thing!

We love pavlova in our house. Usually just a plain pavlova with some sort of fruit and whipped cream on top. But for Sunday dinner our guests included someone from Australia and someone from New Zealand. What better than a Pavlova smack down!? All the stops needed to be pulled for this battle!

 

Thanks to Foodbuzz Tastemakers and Ghiradelli Chocolates sending me a box full of wonderful dark chocolates to try, I decided to experiment with Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova. 

But, wait, we have a problem – the boy doesn’t like chocolate. HMMMMMM… the solution? Mix up the pavlova as I usually do, split the lovely, glossy meringue mixture in half, add half the cocoa powder and chopped dark chocolate that Nigella calls for in her wonderful Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova recipe and then make individual pavlovas.

With this recipe I made 8 WAY TOO BIG pavlovas – 4 plain and 4 chocolate. I could have easily made 8 of each and made them like little nests, but – well, go big or go home!

I used the same Nigella recipe that I used for my Darling’s birthday cake, just making a few adjustments.

  • 8 large egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 500 g (17.5 oz) superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar

For the topping:

  • 500 mL (2 cups) whipping or double cream
  • Raspberries
  • Sliced kiwi
  • Raspberry sauce

To make half the meringue chocolate:

  • 1 1/2 T cocoa powder
  • 25 g chopped dark chocolate

NOTE: The eggs should be at room temperature. This step makes all the difference in the world. Leave them out for a few hours before separating the eggs. Use the egg yolks for a creme brulee or a pudding. 

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Because I was making these smaller, I did them free form on the parchment.

Beat the egg whites and salt with the whisk attachment of a stand mixer or an electric beater until thick soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar, a scattered spoonful or two at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cornstarch and vinegar, and gently fold into the meringue.

This is where I made the split.

For the half that I was making chocolate, I sprinkled the cocoa and chopped chocolate over the top and gently folded. 

Make small (and far smaller than mine) mounds or meringue and using a spatula, shape them and make a small dent in the center of each pavlova to hold the whipped cream and fruit.

Place in the preheated oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 300°. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, during which time the meringue will puff up. Turn off the heat, open the door and leave to cool sitting in the oven — it should be left to cool in the oven until shortly before serving, or alternately it can be cooked ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for a week or so.

I whipped the heavy cream until light and fluffy and added a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a few teaspoons of sugar.

Onto the table were a pile of Pavlovas, a plate of freshly sliced fruit, a pitcher of raspberry syrup and a bowl of whipped cream. It was make your own Pavlova day!

You may be wondering about the smack down results. The only smacking were the smacking of lips and ooohs and aaaahs!

 Thanks you Ghiradelli and Foodbuzz Tasemaker for this tasty opportunity!

There’s still time to stop by my wonderful Giveaway ~ $100 American Express gift card! So simple – follow this link and leave a comment! Winner will be picked September 29th!

Pavlova with Strawberries and Raspberries

I think sometimes I get so caught up in life and work and cooking and laundry and cook-alongs I want to keep up with (very unsuccessfully, I might add) and every day cooking and blogging and, of course, my silly dog, that photos of recipes I tried get lost in the shuffle.

Such was the case with my son Tommy’s birthday cake. Yes, I know, I know, his birthday was in March and it is now July. And I know I did a spectacular post for his birthday dinner of Grandma Rosie’s Ravioli – and one would think that would have been enough cooking for one day but nooooooooooo – he wanted a pavlova for dessert.

Not being one tp deny my darling son any culinary request, I turned to the Domestic Goddess herself for help. Nigella Lawson’s pavlova recipes are terrific – though they really are basically all the same with a different fruit or adding some cocoa powder to make a chocolate pav. This particular version is adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess‘ Christmas Pavlova.

Not that I am trying to diminish the wonderfulness of MOI, but this recipe is so simple it isn’t even funny! It looks so spectacular and elegant no one would guess the simplicity in the process.

  • 8 large egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 500 g (17.5 oz) superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 500 mL (2 cups) whipping or double cream
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries

NOTE: The eggs should be at room temperature. This step makes all the difference in the world. Leave them out for a few hours before separating the eggs. Use the egg yolks for a creme brulee or a pudding.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw an 8-inch (20 cm) circle on the paper with a kitchen pencil. Turn the paper over so the pencil markings will not be against your pavlova.

NOTE: You really can just do this free form. Those of you who know me already know I am a bit kooky about things like this. If you tell me in a recipe I should do it, then gosh darn it I am going to do it – at least the first time!

Beat the egg whites and salt with the whisk attachment of a stand mixer or an electric beater until thick soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar, a scattered spoonful or two at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cornstarch, vinegar and rosewater, and gently fold into the meringue.

Pour the meringue into the middle of the circle . Using a spatula, roughly flatten the top and smooth the sides.

Place in the preheated oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 300°. Bake for 1 3/4 hours, during which time the meringue will puff up. Turn off the heat, open the door and leave to cool sitting in the oven — it should be left to cool in the oven until shortly before serving, or alternately it can be cooked ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for a week or so.

While the pavlova is cooking, wash, hull, and slice the strawberries. Sprinkle a little sugar over the berries. Wash the raspberries and set 1/2 aside. The other half add to a small pot, over a low flame until they breakdown and release their juice and begins to thicken.

NOTE: I strained this. I don’t like seeds. If the seeds don’t bother you, skip this step.

Whip the whipping  cream until thick and airy but not stiff. Once completely cooled, remove the meringue from the oven, gently move to a large flat-bottomed serving plate, removing the parchment paper. Make sure the flat side is on the serving plate. Pile on the whipped cream. Neatness does not count here.  It’s messy appearance is part of its charm.

Scatter the strawberries and raspberries over the whipped cream.  Drizzle some of the raspberry syrup over the berries. Dive in!

I love the berries with the squishy marshmallow of the pavlova. I could probably just eat the entire pavlova alone. Meringue has always been one of my favorite things. Enjoy!

Jam Doughnut Muffins

There has been nobody home for months. It has been too UNBEARABLY hot to even look at the oven, much less light it up. How happy was I to wake up chilly one morning and have the jones to get baking. Question was, what to bake, what to bake. 

I must admit here and now, that I a total sucker for jelly doughnuts, but the thought of piping jelly into the center was not doing it for me. Then I remembered in one of Nigella Lawson’s books – How To Be A Domestic Goddess – there was a simple recipe for a jam fille doughnut. Problem solved.

These were so simple and quick to put together.

  • 200 g self-rising flour
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 125 ml milk
  • 85 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • jam (just your favorite here!)

NOTE: The original recipe said strawberry. Not too  many strawberry jam fans in our house, so I just used a favorite. I sure it doesn’t matter much what you use here.

For topping

  • 125 g unsalted butter
  • sugar and cinnamon for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

With a fork, beat together the milk, oil, egg and vanilla extract. Stir this into the flour and sugar to combine.

NOTE: Don’t overbeat the muffins or they will be tough. Don’t worry about the lumps, they won’t be there at the end (neither will the muffins!).

Butter a mini muffin tin and spoon the mixture into each muffin cup, about 1/3 full.  With a teaspoon place a dollop of jam on top of batter. Top with more butter so cups are just about full.

NOTE: Nigella’s actual recipe says a dollop of jam about the size of a broad bean. It really needs more than that, and probably more than I used this time.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops feel springy and resistant and the muffins have puffed up.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and pour into a shallow howl. In another shallow bowl add the sugar.  As soon as the muffins are ready, remove them from their cups, dip them in the butter, and roll them in the sugar. Eat warm.

NOTE: I added cinnamon to the sugar. Yum! But this part needs to be worked on a little. I rolled the doughnut in the butter and then in the sugar, The sugar was VERY wet.

Trust me, this little glitch is purely an esthetic problem. I took two doughnuts off the plate for the husband and the rest were INSTANTLY devoured!