Friday, October 21, 2016

Chicken, Sausage, Peppers, and Potatoes – Name That Dish!

It’s kind of nice when the name of a recipe is simply what’s in it, as is the case with this pan of roasted chicken, sausage, peppers, and potatoes. As soon as you see the words, you know exactly what you’re getting into. 

The only problem is, “chicken, sausage, peppers, and potatoes,” uses up a lot of characters on Twitter, so if you did have an idea for a shorter and/or catchier name, I’m all ears.

By the way, the two most important things here are not on the ingredient list. That would include a large, heavy-duty roasting pan, as well as a very hot oven. Hopefully, you have something similar to what I used, but if not, you can divide everything up between several smaller casserole dishes; or even use those large, disposable aluminum pans.

I went with hot Italian sausage here, since it so highly-seasoned, but you can really tailor a dish like this to your personal tastes, by switching up what you use, as well as the herbs, and seasonings. No matter what you include, just be sure to season generously, and leave it in the oven long enough. We want everything beautifully caramelized, and our chicken fork tender. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 portions:
4 large Italian sausage links
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more as needed
6 to 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large handfuls, seeded and cut sweet peppers
1 sliced small red onion
1/2 sliced yellow onion
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
2 generous teaspoons dried Italian herbs (I actually used an “Herb de Provence” herb blend, which included rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, basil, parsley, and lavender)
fresh Italian parsley to garnish, optional

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles – Better Than Certain Coffees and Beers

This is a very unlikely post, considering the fact I’m not a big fan of snickerdoodles, and generally loathe adding pumpkin spice to non-pie things, such as coffee and beer. Despite that, I had a feeling the pumpkin spice would work perfectly with the buttery, cinnamon sugar cookie, and it did.

Unfortunately, a quick Google search showed I hadn’t invented it, and there were thousands of variations; from thin and chewy, featuring crisp edges, to much taller, pillowy versions. I decided to go thin, and adapted this snicker doodle recipe, from Averie Cooks.

One common denominator was the use of baking soda, plus cream of tartar, instead of baking powder. Since that’s pretty much what baking powder is, I don’t see what the big difference would be either way, but I thought I would mention in case you refuse to go out and buy cream of tartar. Either way, I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy! 

Ingredients for about 18-20 Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (6 1/2 ounces by weight)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon fine salt)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger 
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

For the rolling sugar:
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
*plus a few extra pinches of the pumpkin spices, if so desired

For the icing:
1/4 cup powdered  sugar
stir in enough milk, lemon juice, or other liquid to achieve brushing consistency

Friday, October 14, 2016

How to Make Berbere Spice and What to Do with It (Partial List)

I love berbere spice, but it never occurred to me to make my own. I usually get it pre-mixed from the fancy grocery store, and it’s never disappointed, but I’ve wanted to feature it in a recipe, so I figured I’d also show how to make a batch from scratch.

Well, sort of from scratch. To make this “for real,” you need to buy the whole spice seeds/pods, toast them, and grind it yourself. It does make a difference, but I rationalize not doing all that extra work because I usually toast the spices during the cooking process anyway.

I’m not exactly sure what dried chili pepper(s) would be most authentic, but many people are saying that the New Mexico chili I used does a nice job. They have a nice, sweet, earthy flavor, and are sort of medium spicy. If you can’t find it, they say California or ancho chilies can work.

Like I said in the video, please use the ingredients and amounts below as an outline, and adjust this to your tastes. Once you’ve perfected your formula, you’ll be the proud owner of one of the most delicious, and versitle spice mixes ever. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients (everything can/should be adjusted to taste):
1/2 cup ground dried New Mexico chiles
1/4 cup paprika
1 generous tablespoon cayenne
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

For the chicken:
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, seasoned with salt and berbere spice to taste
2 teaspoon melted butter
1 lime, juiced
2 teaspoon tomato paste
1/4 chicken broth, or as needed
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp berbere spice
salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sausage Pasta Fazool (Pasta e Fagioli) – Perfect for “One of Those Days”

It’s not completely accurate to say this is my recipe for sausage pasta fazool, since I’ve probably never made this the same way twice, but that’s just the kind of dish it is. In fact, I rarely even make it on purpose, but rather as a way to use up leftover meat. Regardless of what you use, this is classic Italian-American comfort food at its finest.

Having said that, if you were going to make this intentionally, this particular array of ingredients does work quite well. Sausage is always a great choice for a sauce, since not only do we get our meat, we also get all the associated garlic, herbs, and spices for free.

Speaking of the herbs and spices, I went with “sweet” Italian, because I really like how the anise and fennel seeds work with the beans, but any variety of fresh or dried sausage can be used. So, don’t feel like you have to wait for “one of those days” before giving this a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large or 4 smaller portions:
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces sweet Italian sausage
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3/4 cup dry macaroni
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 to 4 cups chicken broth, or as needed
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cups chopped Swiss chard
1 (15-oz) can white beans, drained
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese