Saturday, October 21, 2017

Italian Sausage and Peppers




















My Sweetie Pie has a life long friend who happily lives "just down the street" from us.  When I say life-long, I mean 50 plus years of solid friendship, an oddity these days in so many transient relationships.  It's fun to be in their company and listen to them talk of their schoolboy pranks, glory days, and senior problems.  And food.  Oh, we miss good homemade Italian food. 

I didn't have the good fortune to grow up Italian, but I did have the good fortune to live in an area where excellent Italian food abounded and beautiful women with joyous and generous hearts shared their recipes with me.  Now this platter of Italian sausages and peppers may be considered skimpy by some standards, grins, but there were only four of us for dinner and we had other food.  But I've been in homes where the platter was heaping and food almost falling off the edges.  And leftovers don't go to waste.  These make super submarine sandwiches (or hoagies, depending on where you live) or work up delicious in an omelet.  Or better yet, make any leftovers into an omelet and serve in a crusty roll with some provolone cheese.  Oooooh.  Swoon.

Like so many recipes, not a real recipe but a list of ingredients, and you adjust according to your family's preferences and needs.  This is what I did


ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND PEPPERS

4 sweet Italian sausage (can use hot sausages or a combination)
2 each green and yellow pepper, sliced
2 large onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed
a pinch of rosemary, oregano, or basil or a combination, optional
a good splash of olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine all your ingredients on a roasting pan and give them a good tossing about to combine them.  Roast for about one hour, turning occasionally, or until the sausages are nicely brown and cooked through.  


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sweet, Cakey Cornbread


Sweet, Cakey Cornbread
Well, as my hairdresser would tell me, my roots are showing.  This time though we're talking about cornbread, and I mean Yankee cornbread, sweet and delicious, made to go with Sunday's Boston baked beans dinner, fried chicken, or steaming bowls of chowdah.  And if it's not sweet enough for you, slather on the honey butter, all drippy and sticky and wondrous.  Food of the gods, I'm telling you, grins.

















This cornbread, as the title suggests is cakey, not crumbly, with a finer texture.  It holds up well to lots of butter!  I happen to use white cornmeal this time but the yellow cornmeal works very well and near as I can tell it's just a difference in color.

One caveat:  As much as I love this recipe, it is not that great for cornbread dressing.  Look to our southern cousins for a recipe, where there is less sugar and can really showcase the savory seasonings.  Good stuff!  You need both in your life to be complete.

SWEET, CAKEY CORNBREAD

1 cup cornmeal
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar (I told you this was sweet!)
2 tablespoons baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 eggs
2 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease and flour a 9" x 13" pan.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown on top and toothpick tests clean. 

COOK'S NOTES:  This makes delicious corn muffins.  Reduce cooking time, checking maybe after 20 minutes or so.  I use cupcake liners for easier clean up.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Bisquick "Danish"


Bisquick "Danish"































The older I become, the more I appreciate simpler things. Perhaps it's a sign of maturity and gained wisdom or more the result of my body getting older and just tiring more quickly. Grins, it doesn't matter. What I can say with certainty is these "Danish" are delightful. Of course they aren't going to taste like Danish made with puff pastry, but if you want something with a lot of wow power with little effort, these are for you.

I made two flavors, apricot and raspberry, and took them to work, and before I knew what had happened, people were cuing up to sneak away two at a time. No concerns about leftovers because there weren't any. However, when I make them for home, we do need to store leftovers overnight and wrapped in a tight container they are as good the next day, maybe a little softer, but still quite delicious.


























EASY DROP DANISH

1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups Bisquick (or similar brand or your DIY copycat mix)
2/3 cup milk (or half and half for a richer flavor or a mixture)
1/4 cup of preserves (of your choice)

Mix butter, sugar, and biscuit mix together until crumbly.  Stir in milk just until dough forms, probably like 25 strokes.  Don't overwork the dough or the biscuit can become tough.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls on greased, or parchment lined, sheet.  Make a shallow well in the center of each biscuit and fill the well with a teaspoonful or so of the preserves.

Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes or until biscuits are a pleasing golden brown.

Drizzle with glaze while Danish are still warm from the oven.

Glaze
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon warm water (or enough to liquid to make the glaze easy to drizzle)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

I drizzle the glaze from the tines of a fork.



Saturday, September 30, 2017

Irish Potato Pancakes

Irish Potato Pancakes

Our weekday mornings are typically crazy, looking for that first cup of coffee, and searching our souls to find that first cheery word and hint of smile. We always do of course, but some days it takes a while.  One thing that brings immediate cheer is a hearty, country-style breakfast, a rare indulgence, but when we pull out all the stops and treat ourselves, there are, afterwards, sighs of contentment and insincere promises of never eating such a big breakfast again.

A hearty breakfast that includes Irish potato pancakes and no-knead English muffin bread
I have the most amazing friends, Jackie McG, and her dear husband John, who visited me and Sweetie-Pie one March day and Jackie taught me to make Irish potato pancakes, the way her beloved mum taught her.  I still don't make them as good as that day as Jackie stood there watching me, her red haired head tilted and her blue eyes bright with a twinkle and a beatific smile as she watched me muck about in the mashed potato.

Even without her gentle coaching to add more flour, you're making a dough, don't be afraid of 'em, these turned out very well and are a satisfying addition to a meal.

IRISH POTATO PANCAKES

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1-2 large eggs
1/4 cup flour, more or less to make the mixture dough-like
a bit of finely diced onion (or chive or green onions/scallions)
salt
pepper

sour cream or creme fraiche or (optional but nice)
enough oil or shortening to fry the patties in

Mix the first six ingredients together.  The flour part can be kind of tricky on exactly how much to add.  You're looking to make a dough of sorts, so it's thicker than a pancake batter but probably not quite as heavy as a biscuit.  Depending on the type of potato you use will affect the amount of flour you need, so it's hard to give an exact amount.  Pat the dough out into patties.

Preheat your skillet, adding enough oil or shortening to fry the patties but not drown them because you'll be cooking on one side until golden brown and then turning and cooking the other.  If you're making a big batch, put cooked patties on an oven-proof plate and put in a 200*Fahrenheit oven.  I put them on a paper towel to soak up any additional grease.