November 28, 2011

Sausage and Fennel Ragu

I am not going to lie - my first trip to the grocery store after my CSA had ended was pretty exciting. I was craving fennel like it was my job; into the cart! The cauliflower looked great; join the fennel in the cart! Sweet potatoes are on sale; excellent, into the cart! I also haven't been eating much meat, and was kind of craving it, so I picked up a half a pound of sweet Italian sausage. This ragu from The Kitchn was the perfect thing to make with the fennel and sausage. My adaptation is below.

Sausage and Fennel Ragu
Adapted from The Kitchn
Makes 10+ cups

Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 sweet onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced (I am still using CSA garlic and the cloves are gigantic!)
1 fennel bulb, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice (I used Muir Glen organic because I had a coupon)
1 26.46 oz box Pomi strained tomatoes (I have seen these popping up at my local grocery stores and was immediately intrigued because they are Italian; after using them I am infatuated as well!)
Generous pinch of Giada's Tuscan Herb Mix
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
cooked pasta, to serve (I used cavatappi)
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to serve

1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Crumble in the sausage and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until browned, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot frequently (use a wooden spoon to break the sausage into bite-sized crumbles). Add the onion, garlic, fennel and carrot. Mix thoroughly and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are beginning to be tender.

2. Add the diced tomatoes and the box of strained tomatoes. Stir to combine, raise the heat back to medium and bring to a simmer. Add the dried herbs, a pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, lower the heat to a bare simmer and partially cover the pot with the lid. Cook for at least an hour, stirring occasionally and scrapping the bottom of the pot.

3. After an hour, the ragu should be thick and rich. Taste for seasoning and serve over hot pasta.

November 27, 2011

Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

Anyone who has ever been to an Indian restaurant with me knows that I always order aloo mutter (peas and potatoes). Even if it isn't on the menu, I order it and, luckily, the kitchen has never refused to make it. The other dish that always interests me is aloo gobi (cauliflower and potatoes). When I saw a recipe for Indian spiced cauliflower and potatoes on the Smitten Kitchen blog, I knew I had to try it.

The recipe is originally from Gourmet magazine and is really a keeper (oh, Gourmet, why did you have to fold!). I didn't cut my cauliflower small enough, so they didn't roast properly, but the potatoes were creamy and delicious. I didn't have any cumin seeds, so I used half fennel seeds and half caraway seeds. The caraway flavor didn't really work (it was a little too discordant), but the fennel! Oh, the fennel! It turned into candy! I might just roast fennel seeds for fun now that I know what a treat that they turn out to be! I also left out the jalapeno because I am mortally terrified of hot peppers. I did mean to throw some chopped parsley on top for color and a little bit of freshness, but I forgot. (Cilantro is the classic accompaniment to Indian food (the seed of the cilantro plant is called coriander), but I don't keep cilantro on hand.)

One final note, if you have never worked with turmeric, it turns everything yellow (as you can see from the photo), so be careful what you stir it with, what kind of container you put the leftovers in, etc.

November 21, 2011

Roasted Golden Beet and Kohlrabi Farrotto

I woke up craving roasted beet farrotto the other day and luckily I had bought a bunch of beets the last time I was at the store. The golden beets may not have made a pretty pink dish like the red ones, but it was delicious regardless!

I used my second version of Mario Batali's recipe from Babbo. The beets only measured 8 1/2 ounces, so I chopped up half of a kohlrabi (from the CSA 3 weeks ago) to make a pound of vegetables.

November 17, 2011

CSA Week 8 Autumn

In the last CSA bag of the year, we have:

mustard greens
baby kale
sweet potatoes

November 14, 2011

Mushroom Risotto with Peas

I received an email last week from Giada (well, not technically from Giada, but from her mailing list), announcing a Facebook contest where you chose one recipe of hers from a list of 50, cook it, take a picture and submit it for judging. I figured I do that on a regular basis with the blog, so I might as well submit a photo!

As you can see, I made mushroom risotto with peas, and I think my picture turned out pretty well. I did fuss with the recipe a little bit (mainly because I didn't want a huge vat of it leftover); my adaptions are below.

Mushroom Risotto with Peas
Adapted from Giada
Serves 4


6 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used 2 cups leftover veggie broth and 4 cups chicken broth)
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (the package was 1 ounce and I was not about to half it!)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped (again, the package determined how much I used)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup vialone nano rice (or arborio)
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add the dried porcini mushrooms and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Remove the mushrooms from pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a cutting board. Set aside. Keep the broth at a low simmer.

2. Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet/pot/braiser over medium heat and then add the olive oil. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and garlic. Finely chop the porcini mushrooms and add them to the pot. Saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the the rice and toast for a couple minutes, stirring continuously. Pour in the wine and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir for about 2 minutes, or until the wine has been absorbed. Ladle about 1 cup of broth into the pan and cook, stirring continuously. (The risotto should be simmering ever so gently; lower the heat if necessary.) Continue adding broth by the ladleful once the previous amount has been absorbed, and stir, stir, stir! After about 20 minutes, start tasting the rice and stop adding broth once it is just tender, but still has bite. (Some days you will use all of the broth, some days you won't.)

4. Stir in the peas and the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with more cheese.

November 11, 2011

Sauteed Greens with Whole Wheat Couscous

I am falling behind on my greens eating, and to be perfectly honest, I am pretty sick of them. I remembered liking the way the greens turned out when I made this Epicurious recipe, so thought I would start with that and then switch it up a little.

The last time I made them, I put them over pasta, but I didn't feel like getting out a separate pot to boil water this time around. I wanted a one pot meal, so I decided whole wheat couscous would be my grain and I could cook it right in the pot with the greens! I also threw on a little bacon for good measure. If you don't want bacon, I might suggest feta cheese for its salty bite.

Sauteed Greens with Whole Wheat Couscous
Adapted from Epicurious
Serves 3-4


Extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
8 cups chopped greens (I used collards and tatsoi)
2 cups low-sodium vegetable (or chicken) broth
Scant 3/4 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Couple slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the greens by the handful, stirring to coat with the olive oil. Continue with the remaining greens. Saute the greens for a couple minutes, or until just starting to wilt.

2. Add the broth and the couscous to the pot. Cover and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until the greens are tender and the couscous is cooked, 5-10 minutes, depending on your greens.

3. Stir in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. After plating, top with the bacon.

November 10, 2011

CSA Week 7 Autumn

In the second to last week of my autumn CSA, we have:

Hakurei turnips
baby turnips
daikon radish

November 8, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread (Again)

I recently bought three bananas with the specific purpose of allowing them to ripen on my counter so I could try another banana bread recipe. Unfortunately, I did not purchase the other special ingredients that I would need for said recipes, so when the bananas proclaimed themselves ripe this weekend, I had to find a recipe that would work with what I had on hand.

I ended up choosing a recipe from my recipe binder that I had already tried once before, a fact which had slipped my mind. Looking back on my handy blog, I discovered that I made it in April and was pleased with the results. This time, I wasn't convinced. It still had a great crunchy top (and I may have picked the entire top off approximately 10 minutes after it came out of the oven, which is why there is no picture to accompany this post). But it was kind of flavorless otherwise. This time, I used 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips, and honestly, they didn't add anything (flavor, texture, nada) to the bread.

Another one bites the dust....

November 7, 2011

Kale Mac and Cheese

I have been craving mac and cheese for weeks, so this weekend, I finally decided to make a batch.

My thoughtful husband bought me two tickets to see Giada's cooking demonstration at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show this past weekend. My friend, Allison, came with me and we had a great time sampling cupcakes, cheese, granola, iced coffee, flavored olive oil and vinegars, peanut butter - you name it! After watching Giada's presentation, I was starving and started to work on this mac and cheese as soon as I got home.

I followed a recipe from a blog named The Kitchen Sink Recipes. I didn't have any goat cheese on hand (or any cheese other than a block of extra sharp cheddar and a tiny bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano for that matter), so I just used a larger quantity of cheddar. The resulting cheese sauce was (unsurprisingly) pretty one-note, and I was too impatient to get the sauce to thicken (I was whisking for 10 minutes!), so it wasn't thick and creamy. But, the kale worked wonderfully with the baked pasta and because I am all alone, I got to pick out each and every bit of browned crispy rigatoni sticking up out of the pan. Actually, I have been wanting to try this baking sheet mac and cheese from Food 52 because the crunchy pieces are my favorite!

Ultimately, this fulfilled my craving, but in the future, I think I would find a different mac and cheese recipe I liked and just add kale to it.

November 4, 2011

Winter Greens Soup

Work has been so crazy the past two weeks that I haven't felt like cooking when I finally get home from the office and I have been worried that all of my CSA produce will turn slimy and smelly, resulting in a one way ticket to the trash can. Last night, I decided this needed to change. I poured a glass of wine (a delightful Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon), cranked some music and started cooking!

My first priority was to do something with last week's kale and collards (especially because I got more this week). I found this soup recipe on the LA Times website and thought it sounded like a good starting point. I adapted the soup to use what I had on hand and I used vegetable broth, instead of water, because when you start dinner at 7:45pm, you don't have an hour to spare for soup simmering!

I was extremely happy with the results; the tiny amount of rosemary adds a large amount of flavor, so don't leave it out.

Winter Greens Soup
Adapted from the LA Times


2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 cups winter greens (kale, collards, mustard, chard, etc) de-ribbed and chopped
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. In a large, heavy soup pot (Dutch oven), warm the olive oil over medium low heat. Add the onion and carrots, cover and cook until softened, about 12-15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

2. Add the greens, a handful or two at a time, giving them time to soften slightly before you add the next handful. After all the greens have been incorporated, add the vegetable broth, water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the rosemary and chickpeas. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until the greens are tender.

3. Stir in 1/3 cup cheese, season with salt and pepper and serve, adding more cheese to the individual bowls. (Be warned, soup that has been simmering in a cast iron pot for 30 minutes is HOT, please don't burn your tongue like I did. It hurts.)

November 3, 2011

CSA Week 6 Autumn

In Week 6 of my autumn CSA we have:

mustard greens
collard greens
sweet potatoes

November 2, 2011

Butternut Squash Stuffed Cabbage

Last week I went to my favorite after work destination, Casa Nonna, with my friend Meghan. For the last couple months, Casa Nonna has been offering a traditional Italian aperitivo, where they supply a selection of free appetizers while you drink.

(Random side note: one of my favorite, and perhaps first, aperitivo memories is from a trip to Siena in college with my friend Jo. We had wandered into some bar and after realizing the food was free as long as we ordered a drink, we couldn't have been happier. The theme for the rest of the trip was "sorpresa de frutta," thanks to our kind bartender!)

Casa Nonna always has a nice spread and one of the appetizers on this particular evening was cabbage rolls stuffed with butternut squash and sage. They were delicious and I thought it might be a good use for the butternut squash and cabbage from my CSA.

In my quick search on the internet, the only recipe I could find is from a blog called The Prudent Foodie. It looked easy enough, so I gave it a try. The rolls turned out ok, but my one complaint is that the recipe doesn't state how long to boil the cabbage before you try to roll it. Being from a predominantly Italian family, I haven't had any experience with cabbage rolls, so didn't quite boil them long enough. They rolled ok, but the large end of the rib didn't cook all the way through, so the end result required a lot of chewing. I also didn't think the tomato cream sauce worked with the rolls. I think a sage cream sauce or sage butter sauce would have worked better.