"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Penne with Sausage, Rosemary, and Mushrooms; Endive Salad; Spaghetti with Browned Garlic


I was going back over my cookbook, and find that there are a number of recipes which I have not yet posted.

Penne with Sausage, Rosemary, and Mushrooms

I had actually written this recipe for the Sausage alone, but have also cooked it with pasta and it is delicious:

* 3 links hot Italian sausage

* 1-2 Tbsp. rosemary leaves (they are not exactly leaves, of course, but to distinguish from powder which you do not want)

* 1 pkg. mushrooms (your choice, although I usually take the standard supermarket fare, the portobellos are best), cut in half or quarters if they are big

* 1/2 – 3/4 cup Amontillado sherry (I like Amontillado because it is not too sweet, not too dry, very good for cooking)

* 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil

* 1 cup half-and-half

* 1/2 cup whole milk (or nonfat) yoghurt.  I like the whole milk kind because it gives a more creamy consistency and does not break up over heat

* 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

- Fry the sausage until browned and well-cooked in a large skillet (iron is best)

- Let cool, then cut into 1-2” pieces and reserve

- Drain half of the fat from the skillet, add the olive oil, the rosemary, and the mushrooms

- Sautee the mushrooms until nearly done, then add the sherry, raise the temperature to high, cook until the sherry has almost evaporated.  Taste, and add more sherry if required, repeating the procedure.  Also add salt as necessary.

- Remove the mushrooms and reserve

- Add the cream and yoghurt and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, scraping up the sausage and mushroom bits from the bottom of the pan to make a flavorful cream sauce

- Add the sausage and cook over very low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to be sure that the cream does not separate.

- Boil the penne, plate, and put the sausage mixture on top of each serving, sprinkle with the parmesan, grind pepper over each serving, and serve.

Belgian Endive Salad

Belgian endives are not always available, but if you see them, buy them.  They have a slightly bitter taste – not unpleasantly bitter, but a bitter that you find, for example, in broccoli rabe.  This taste is perfectly complemented by the vinaigrette sauce and the honey – sweet and sour. 

* 4 endives (discard the outer leaves if they are discolored or wilted, but generally in a good store they will be ready to eat; and take off all the good leaves for the salad.  When you get down to the core (this will be something like taking the leaves off an artichoke), you will find a hard stem, which you can throw out or chop up and put in the salad)

* 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil

* 2-3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

* 1 tsp. Maille (or other French Dijon) mustard

* 1 Tbsp. honey

* 2 tsp. ground cumin

* 3-4 dried figs, chopped into small pieces, perhaps 1/4 inch

* 3-4 dried prunes, chopped into small pieces

* 1/2 cup roasted pecans (I prefer to buy the pecans unroasted, then roast them myself by placing in iron skillet over high heat, dry, no oil, until lightly browned on all sides)

- Make the vinaigrette by combining the oil, vinegar, mustard and mixing well (I use a wire whisk)

- Toss the endive leaves into the vinaigrette and mix well.  If you see that you have too little sauce, use a separate mixing bowl and combine more of the oil, balsamic, and mustard in the same proportions as above.

- Plate the vinaigrette leaves, and place the figs, prunes, and roasted nuts on the top, spreading interestingly

- Sprinkle with cumin

- Drizzle the honey over the mixture on each plate

- Grind black pepper over the mixture and serve.

Baba Ganouj

This is the classic Middle Eastern eggplant dish which is remarkably simple to make, and required only a few tricks to come out exactly like what you will find in the best restaurants.  The key is to leave the skin of the eggplant on, perforate it, and broil so that the skin blackens.  The smoky taste will permeate the meat of the eggplant through the perforations (punched with a fork).

* 1 lg. eggplant, halved, holes poked in the skin with a fork

* 1/2 lemon (juice)

* 2-3 Tbsp. tahini (tahini is available in most supermarkets.  Often the oil will be at the top once the jar is opened, so you will have to use a long spoon to stir well, and mix the more solid tahini with the oil before you use)

* 1 small clove of garlic, chopped

* 8 medium black olives (American ones, without the vinegar or brine)

* 1 Tbsp. olive oil

- On a baking tray, place heavy duty tin foil, and lubricate it with a little olive oil so that the eggplant will not stick

- Place the eggplant on the tray, place in an oven which has been preheated to 450F

- Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the eggplant is soft to the touch

- Broil for an additional 10-15 minutes until the skin is very browned, if not blackened in spots

- Remove from oven, chop into large pieces, and put in a blender

- Add the tahini, lemon juice, and chopped garlic with a pinch of salt

- Blend until a creamy, smooth consistency.  If you find that there is not enough liquid for easy blending, add a little water

- Taste while blending and adjust for salt, lemon, and/or tahini

- Serve on a medium serving plate.  Smooth out the mixture so that it covers the plate evenly

- Place the black olives in any pattern you wish, drizzle olive oil over the plate, grind pepper and serve

Spaghetti al Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino

(Spaghetti with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Hot Pepper Flakes)

This is one of the simplest and most delicious of all pasta recipes.  In fact I may have posted it before, but cannot find it in my cookbook, so I thought I would post again.  It requires only one trick and attention – browning the garlic.  If done properly so that the garlic browns, each piece has a lovely caramel flavor with no strong garlic taste and no bad taste of burning.  Too little cooking and the garlic is too strong.  Too much and it is blackened and you have to start over.  But just right……delicious!

* 10 lg. cloves of garlic, sliced into medium thickness.  In French these slices are called “rondelles”.  Try to get the size of the garlic pieces as equal as possible, for this will help the sauteeing to the right amount

Also called rounds, a type of cut that creates round or oval, flat pieces by cutting a cylindrical vegetable crosswise. A regular crosswise cut produces a round slice and if the cut is made at an angle, it produces an oval slice.

Rondelles Glossary Term

* 1/4 cup olive oil (approximately).  The oil should cover the bottom of a medium-large frying pan with about 1/8” oil.  You should be generous, don’t worry about too much oil because you will be using it for a half-pound of spaghetti

* 5 shakes of hot pepper flakes.  If you don’t like too much hot taste, then put in a few shakes, then taste while sauteeing

* 1/2 lb. spaghetti

- Place the rondelles of garlic into the oil with the pepper flakes and cook over medium-high heat in an iron skillet.  You can use other skillets, but since the amount and distribution of heat is important in this recipe, an iron skillet is best. 

- Stir the garlic frequently and WATCH CAREFULLY.  Since the garlic will continue to cook after you turn off the heat, you want to be sure that you turn it off before the garlic is completely brown.

- Cook the pasta, drain, and place into a large mixing bowl

- Pour the oil mixture over the pasta and toss well.

- Taste for salt, adding when necessary

- Plate, add grindings of black pepper and serve.

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