Friday, May 17, 2013

Homemade Breakfast Sausage

Family’s coming for Memorial Day weekend so it’s kitchen time big time! I’ve decided to plan breakfast outside on the deck and I’m hoping that we can fire up the grill for the sausage. So I broke out my neglected copy of Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman for a Breakfast Sausage recipe.

The process starts with butchering five pounds or more pork shoulder which is tedious, no way around it. But it does yield five pounds of sausage, so it goes a long way. I trim all the fat off that I can because I want lean sausage. Leaving the natural fat from the shoulder gives a juicier sausage and saves time so just bust through it if you’re not trying to make a leaner version.

I let the cubed meat chill in the freezer while I minced garlic and grated ginger. I have this grater that has the perfect size rasp on it. A microplane is too fine and the larger holes are too big. I love ginger but I was skeptical about ginger and sage for a breakfast sausage for the average appetite.

Grated Ginger

But the ginger is brilliant in it.

grater for ginger

I doubled the amount of garlic called for in the recipe. Then I tossed the meat with the aromats, kept it in the fridge and put the grinder attachments in the freezer like I did with the bologna. Once everything was thoroughly chilled I ran it through the grinder in two batches and was ready to paddle it in the mixing bowl.

ground pork with Kitchen aid paddle attachment

Whenever I use the paddle attachment for my mixer I flash back to culinary school and my pastry chef instructor Somchet, pronounced Saahmshet. For about a year my friend thought I was saying ‘some chef’ every time I referred to Somchet, as though there was a vast menagerie of anonymous chefs circulating l’Academie de Cuisine. But my fave misunderstanding stemmed from Somchet’s Thai accent. She would get in front of the class to do her demonstration and any time she used the paddle attachment she held it up and said ‘you get your paahdoww…’ So one of my classmates came to believe it was a French term.

So grab your ‘padeaux!’ Hook it up to your mixer and use it to mix the pork mixture with water until everything is evenly distributed and has a sticky consistency. Now you can cook it off as loose sausage, stuff casings, or do this – I rolled mine up into logs with plastic wrap.

breakfast sausage wrapped in plastic wrap

Then I froze them and cut some discs off and cooked ’em. The first grill test left them a little tough, but we’re going to lower the temp and see if results are better. From frozen I could saute them in a pan with four minutes per side and they came out great. The seasoning is peeeerfect.

homemade breakfast sausage recipe

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Future of Food?

Exploring this question was the lofty goal of a symposium I attended at University of Notre Dame hosted by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies (has link to symposium brochure). So with some jeans, high-heeled sneakers and organic instant oatmeal I hit the road.

Aside from being personally horrified out about how we’re producing and consuming food, I wanted to see the Notre Dame campus, where my grandfather was an undergraduate and played baseball until going off to war as a Marine, ultimately in Okinawa.. oh, and there was the convenient stop through my college town of Pittsburgh on the way back. But back to the horrified part.

So the US is growing increasingly urban and suburban and in the DC/Chesapeake area, I’ve seen so many small farms turn into developments. As a matter of fact and as fate would have it, I now live in such a development. So despite efforts from folks in recent years to buy food more locally, it’s increasingly difficult with the production coming primarily from large production farms while smaller ones get less assistance and struggle with challenging logistics, market factors, cicadas, you name it.

It’s all resulted in vegetables that travel way further than most inner city kids ever will, and most certainly not to the inner city kids themselves where there are the ‘food deserts,’ in which urban residents can find convenience stores and fast food restaurants on the blocks that once held grocery stores.

The good news is that there have been some creative and enterprising folks out there coming up with more sustainable and responsible ways of producing food (google vertical farming/growing); and they are ways that can be implemented on various scales and closer to people who need access to the food. Can these solutions compete with big, subsidized agribusiness? And are they possible predictors of how we’ll be making food in the future? First up that day to address it, a terribly amusing cynic.

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, an historian of food and apparently everything else, can cruise through history of the universe like the delighted animated characters in a movie whipping around on an oh-so perilous but joyful ride. There was a ‘proliferation of lipids,’ and industrial techniques transforming the North American prairie from a desert to a bread basket. Ultimately we were concluding that genetic modifications are widening the wealth gap which leads to ‘unintended diliterious results and global violence’ as well as a ‘let’s all get to the trough’ cheapening of food mentality which ultimately equates to ‘rubbish for all.’

And before you could say poppycock, he was proclaiming the gloooories of fat with dramatic, leeengthy rolling vowels out of the side of his mouth with the grand British presentation you’d expect from such a professor – only multiplied by a factor of 10. In other words, I bought (one of) his book(s). 

Stick with me! There were many great speakers but I’m growing prolific and you are probably just trying to surf the internet for good recipes, so I will cover two more dudes, briefly, and finish up with some cool links and a Breakfast Sausage recipe that I’m trying out this week while I make plans for Memorial Day weekend entertaining. [Though if you’re interested in more, drop a line because I’ve got more.]

But first! If you don’t already know about Will Allen, his urban farming and Growing Power in Milwaukee then you must click the links and buy his book as well.

The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen

He is a hero. I was thrilled to meet him at this symposium. He took time to talk with any of us who were interested and his story is fascinating. I was born in ’70 and grew up just outside Northwest DC and have really never heard the personal stories about how the area became home to so many freed slaves from the South and that Will Allen and his classmates transferred from from a segregated school to sophomore year at Richard Montgommery High in 1964 when it became integrated.

Here is a terribly blurry picture I took with the flash off. I did not inherit my father’s surgeon hands, but hey, it’s a picture of Will Allen at our meeting.

Will Allen of Growing Power

Another pioneer in urban gardening and farming, and self titled Gangsta Gardner, Ron Finley is revitalizing and providing food for urban areas in LA. And he’s a hoot, so subscribe to his newsletter and also read ‘Drive-Throughs are Killing More People than Drive-Bys.’ 

Check out Bell Aquaculture, a land-based, sustainable fishery. They’re growing perch like those that are indigenous to the Great Lakes in great quantities and in ways that prevent any escape of farmed fish into the wild or for wild fish into the farming system. All of this somehow allows them to raise these fish without any antibiotics. I had some of their perch for lunch that day and it was delicious.. of course I chowed down lunch and didn’t take pictures until I was just about decimating this rhubarb pie.

Rhubarb Pie Remnants

Alright, one last wonderful thing to check out: this beautiful community Prinzessinnengarten that was created on a neglected, bombed out site in Berlin…

… and then go buy yourself about 5 pounds of pork shoulder and trim and cube it up because we’re going to have Breakfast Sausage with biscuits soon. In the meantime and in the interest in having one decent picture, I’ll end with a picture of returning home to our river beach and many blessings.

Evening Sun at Fairview Beach


Breakfast Sausage with Fresh Ginger and Sage

I'm going to attempt to grill mine, which is likely to have modest results at best, but breakfast sausage can be used any which way. Just use it as crumbles or form patties or stuff it into sausage casings. My plan is to roll mine into logs in plastic wrap and then freeze them so I can cut disks out of it. I might throw it on the grill semi-frozen to help it keep together. I'll follow up soon!


5 lbs/ 2.25 kilograms boneless pork shoulder, diced
1.5 oz/ 40 grams kosher salt (about 3 Tbsp)
5 Tbsp/ 50 grams ginger, peeled and finely grated (or 1 Tbsp ground dried ginger)
5 Tbsp/ 50 grams fresh sage, finely chopped
1 Tbsp/18 grams garlic, minced
2 tsp/ 6 grams ground black or white pepper
1 cup/ 250 milliliters ice water

20 feet/ 6 meters sheep casings, soaked in tepid water 30 minutes and rinsed (optional)


- combine all ingredients but water and toss to distribute the seasoning; chill until ready to grind
- grind mixture through the small die into a bowl set on ice (keep everything cold - I chill my grinder attachment)
- add the water to the meat mixture in the mixer bowl and mix with paddle attachment until the liquid is incorporated and the mixture has developed a uniform appearance, about 1 minute on medium speed
- saute a small portion of the sausage and taste for seasoning; make adjustments to mix as needed
- stuff sausage into the casings and twist to 4-inch/10 cm links, or shape into patties; refrigerate or freeze until ready to cook; or roll into a log, wrap in plastic and freeze, slice into patties
- gently saute or roast the sausage to an internal temperature of 150 degrees F/ 65 degrees C

This recipe is from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cussing Isn’t Cute

Apparently when a nice Catholic girl sets down her pink Kate Spade and out of the blue starts dropping f-bombs like some insane hockey dad, it can be shocking to some people. Who knew?

The other night I was chatting with someone I’ve known for about a year and whom I hope to know for a long time. As a matter of fact, I was feeling so good about our friendship that I felt free to use my more colorful word choices. Somehow I have developed the notion that using profanity with someone is kind of like moving things to a more intimate friendship, like sharing a secret about your past, or that you like Yanni, or a flask or something.

So time it seemed, in my friendship with this person to make a conversation ‘funnier’ by lacing it, intensely with expletives. It went over like a lead f*&$ing balloon. He was stunned, unamused, and disappointed. Dis.a.ppointed. When I apologized he said it’s just surprising after you’ve had someone on a pedestal.

Yes. Apparently I had been on a pedestal. Which is great to learn of course, but, I just wish I had known, for at least a short while, that I had been there, before I hurled myself off of it. Some external validation would have been nice for an insecure nut like me before the self-flagelating phase began. Oh, well, they happened simultaneously and now I’m off my pedestal and back here on terra firma, having a blogging (personal, professional etc) identity crisis.

I imagine you’ve noticed that I’m not one of these gals who posted beautiful pictures of their children’s birthday parties and was OOOhverwhelmed with response from the whole worldwide web. I wasn’t one of the first 3,000 people to blog cleverly used mason jars or kale chips. I’m not vegan, I’m not in a restaurant, not allergic, not political. I’m part writer/publisher from my Discovery and National Geographic days (oh, and school), and part chef who thinks profanity is f$%^ing funny.

Here is one of my favorite Onion headlines of all time. The s-bomb is everything. And then there’s this guy who’s prolific potty mouth makes his blog a total hoot, and got him a shout out on national television from Gwyneth Paltrow.

His recipes look good too, so now I hate him. From what I understand, harboring tremendous resentment towards someone who is successful is a good way to ensure my own success. Energy well placed I call it.

So anyway, I am at crossroads. Keep it ‘professional’ or let it all hang out? Do I need a super salient blog identity? Do I get a degree in SEO? Do I, do I …. wait, I need more m&ms to think about this shit.

Oh, and I need to rinse my rice.

Dinner tonight is Persian rice, lucky us. And first – the night before or the morning of, you rinse and soak the rice. Running warm water and your hands through the rice is a nice, meditative way to think about what the hell you’re gonna do to make a living. Yoohoo.. Gwyneth, I’m heeere!!

She’ll write soon I’m sure. In the meantime, we’ll finish up this dirty talk with some squeaky clean white rice. First measure 3 cups of basmati rice into a a bowl or container – if you have one with a lid, that’s best. Then put the bowl in the sink and run lukewarm water into it. Agitate the rice slightly. The water will look cloudy and if you take a picture with the lights on right above and behind you, your big-ass shadow will be in the picture. You can relax now Annie Leibovitz. Your career is safe.

rinsing basmati rice

Pour off the water, rinse and repeat (literally) 4 more times until the water is much clearer. Like this:

clean basmati rice

The rinsing helps get rid of extra starch and soaking the rice in salty water helps toughen each grain of rice slightly so that when it’s cooked the grains are all separate and the rice is like sand. It sounds like a lot of salt, but most of it goes out with the water when you drain before cooking.

soaking persian rice

more soon from Identity Crisis Kitchen : )


Prepping Basmati Rice and Basic Cooking

Prep Time: 10 minutes


3 cups basmati rice
2 Tbsp salt
8 cups water


- rinse the rice 5-6 times until water runs clear
- cover rice with 8 cups water (or as covered as you can get) and salt and allow to sit overnight or for at least 2 hours
- to cook bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil
- drain the salty water off of the rice and cook in the boiling water for about 7 minutes; cook it the way you do pasta
- remove rice from the pot




Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Pimm’s Cups for Breakfast at Wimbledon

I’m thinking about hosting a small breakfast for Wimbledon viewing this summer so I experimented with making a Pimm’s Cup, one of the staple drinks at Wimbledon, polo matches and summer parties in England. I’ve had them when visiting England and at a wedding last year, but I’ve never made them. Naturally there are several versions, but since I have been toying with homemade ginger ale anyway I gave the Pimm’s Ginger version a whirl.

I’ve had plans to post about homemade ginger ale quite a few times, but none of my results so far were web-worthy. This time I simply made a ginger simple syrup and the experimental cocktail went down easy! I peeled and sliced the ginger and combined it 1:1:1 with water and sugar and let it simmer for about 45 minutes.

ginger syrup recipe for ginger ale

Quite honestly, I was lazy and haven’t strained it yet. I just scooped around the ginger slices to get the syrup to make the cocktail.

ginger syrup in pimms cup

Also on the scene was my beloved Soda Stream (wish I had one of the new slick looking ones). I whipped up some carbonated water and then it was 5 o’clock somewhere. I’ve been noodling through the table/decor.. should I tell folks to wear whites?! Would that be fun or annoying? At any rate, I decided to see how I could incorporate the purple and green Wimbledon colors. So I found some lavender colored hydrangea with nice green leaves…

pimms and soda stream

And I try to limit how much I use cut flowers and rely more on produce and plants for decorating. Fortunately citrus plays well into the color scheme. I call them Wimbledon Green Limes, and Tennis Ball Yellow Lemons.

breakfast at wimbeldon lighter

I also have this new fruit infusion pitcher and I’m so into it I might need to get one or two more. Right now I’m using it for lemon water, but I also want to do strawberry water, cucumber water, fruit infused tea, and it could be great to make a full batch of Pimm’s cocktails in one of those pitchers and have the fruit and mint in the infuser.

wimbeldon colors hydrangea


I’m still working out the menu, but I’ll try homemade English muffins soon, and try to decide what kind of strawberry dish I want to do. Those are probably must-haves.. the other 400 menu ideas will have to be edited between now and my fav sporting event of the summer. Don’t you want to host a Breakfast at Wimbledon party?


Pimm's Cup with Homemade Ginger Ale

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


For syrup:
1 cup ginger, peeled, sliced thinly
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

For cocktail:
1.5 oz Pimm's liquor
4 oz club soda
2 tsp ginger syrup (or to taste)
squeeze of lime
mint garnish


- combine the ginger, water and sugar in a pot, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for about 45 minutes - long enough to infuse ginger flavor, but not so long that syrup gets too thick
- allow syrup to cool and strain
- to make cocktail fill a glass with ice and add Pimm's and club soda
- spoon syrup in and allow to run down the side of the glass
- give a quick stir, squeeze in lime juice and mix in mint

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Red Apron Butchery

This was lunch today and it was good. reeeally good. The chef/owner, Nathan Anda and I worked in the kitchen at Equinox together. I don’t think that’s where he learned his charcuterie, but he learned it somewhere because my sandwich was perfect. If possible, visit Red Apron Butchery and get a beer with your sammich for goodness sake.

porkstrami at red apron butchery

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Things Chefs Never Tell You

A culinary school friend of mine posted this on Facebook today. It’s a survey of chefs conducted by the Food Network – ’25 Things Chefs Never Tell You.’

The first one ‘Chefs are pickier than you think’ was a relief to me! I read Thomas Keller and watch Anthony Bourdain and feel like a Faux Chef as I eat my vegetable chili and buy my boneless, skinless chicken breast. Now I love some of the typical cheffy things like foie gras, cod cheeks and truffles (and like all of the things they listed as aversions… ok, maybe not calf or chicken liver) and feel that when we slaughter an animal we should enjoy every part of it we can. But I’ve never eaten tripe or chitlins and don’t have any immediate plans to do so, aaaand yes, it’s just all in my head. I’m quite sure I would love chicken livers, but I didn’t grow up with it and for some reason I just can’t deal. OK?! There, I said it – I’m not an uber omnivore and am happy to eat vegetarian 90% of the time, which places me in a group typically loathed by chefs. Click on the Tony Bourdain link above to find one of his quotations likenening vegans to Hezbollah.

I have tremendous respect for Bourdain and think he is a hoot, but I’m hoping that condemnation of the veggie-focused will change. Anyone can throw a steak on a grill; vegetables require skill, and love. So I think chefs will increasingly pride themselves on handling them… it’s also ecologically responsible. And have you looked at our waistlines lately? Swapping in a veggie burger every now and then would benefit everyone involved. Speaking of which, I discovered some local(ish) veggie burger makers at the Charlottesville food festival yesterday. No Bull Burgers are deelishious. Check their website for restaurants that serve them and stores that sell them.

TomTom Charlottesville Food Festival

I’ve made veggie burgers a number of times and it’s a complete pain. They usually involve a lot of ingredients and several processes like cooking lentils, soaking seeds, making ill-formed, sticky patties etc. I’ve tried to develop a recipe for one for this blog and haven’t settled on one yet, so No Bull Burgers are a welcome find – they don’t have tree bark, soy lecithin and whatever mystery mayhem that goes into the frozen grocery store variety.

That is why most chefs would order something like that before a pasta or a chicken breast. I can cook a chicken breast with my hands tied behind my back… unless it’s Thomas Keller cooking a Polyface Farm chicken, or a Persian jujeh kabob, I’m not going to pay someone else $12 – $24 to do it for me. Same goes for pasta… it’s so easy to make at home! Not so with housemade sausages, cheeses or breads or braises. Those take all day and it’s great to sit in a restaurant and have someone else deliver it to the table.

The fast food news is distressing. I didn’t see fellow chefs eating much fast food. A housemate of mine made frozen french fries every night for a year, but he didn’t make stops by BK really. It’s true that aside from bread, family meal and extras that come out of the fryer, there isn’t much to eat when at work, and when you work 80 hours a week you need to figure something out. So convenience foods come into play, but fast food?! See No Bull Burgers above.

Of course any chef wants to parlay into being a celebrity and have a tv show. That’s a hell of a lot easier than running a restaurant or catering business and you’re more appreciated for it and you have nice clean, buffed fingernails. Too bad that out of hours and hours of programming and irritating ‘food personalities,’ none of those tv shows focus on all of the hard working chefs out there. Very soon they’ll be working a crazy busy Saturday night and then rolling in early the next Sunday morning for an insane Mother’s Day brunch. Leave your server 20% and every now and then, send a pitcher of beer back to the kitchen ; ) I may be Faux Chef, but I can spot the glaring omission in the Food Network survey. That universal chef food group, the end of shift adult beverage they’ve worked so hard for.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Veggie Lasagna – oh just trust me

My father-in-law gives me that same look when I use fruit in any of my cooking… but I always remind him that, hey, I was a professional. And he always winds up liking whatever it is. So too was the case with my husband and this veggie lasagne which he found himself craving for the couple of days it lasted.

Somehow, even with something like lasagna that yields leftovers, I still get hungry and pounce on my plate before taking a picture. So unfortunately we have no finished lasagna money shot, but I prolifically snapped and soiled the camera and iphone while assembling, so at least we have those.

Let’s start with how I cheated. I used prepared tomato sauce, and no-boil pasta, and I’d do it again. I have other, scratch recipes that I lovingly prepare as well, but this is great for getting a delicious, healthy meal together when you’re staring down a 130 mile commute the next day.. let’s say.

I like Newman’s marinara sauces, so I started with his Sockarooni which has lots of herbage and flavor, but which I kicked further into gear by adding a little hot stuff and sauteed mushrooms. Just (as usual) make sure to cook the shrooms in batches over high heat so the get a hard sear and don’t start steaming, because we want to add bulk and flavor to the lasagna but definitely not water.

marinara sauce with mushrooms

The lasagna my mother always made when I was growing up was from a recipe called ‘American Lasagna’ from a magazine or something presumably. Anyway, it calls for cottage cheese and cheddar cheese and I’ve come to love both of those in lasagna. I really like the larger curd in the cottage cheese as opposed to how fine ricotta is. And cheddar gives a hearty, sharp flavor that is addictive and you’ll find you sometimes miss it when eating other versions of the dish.

cottage cheese for lasagne

Then I’m trying this new (to me anyway) product out.. baby kale.

wegmans organic baby kale

I sauteed it over medium high heat for a few minutes (again, hot enough to keep it dry and not leach out water) and ran a knife through it a couple times.

sauteed baby kale

In it went with the cottage cheese.

cottage cheese with baby kale

I couldn’t justify buying two types of cheddar cheese, and I reeeally wanted to buy this horseradish cheddar, so I chopped some up for my lasagna and now have some around for snacking. It worked for me, and Brian liked it too, but I probably have an unusual affinity for horseradish and heat. So I’m writing the recipe with regular, unleaded sharp cheddar but if you want to run with scissors and eat an awesome ham and cheese sandwich the next day, try the horseradish version.

organic horseradish cheddar

I knew I was going to be making this, so I saved the rapini stems from cooking the day before. I chopped them up and sprinkled over the layers of lasagna as I assembled.

rapini stems

So onto assembly, with a new fav cheat – these Delallo organic, no-boil wheat pasta sheets. No boiling, no soaking. Nada, and it comes out delicate an supple.

delallo organic pasta

The box looks small but there are 15 sheets in there and they’re big enough to go across a 9×13″ pan. So you get three good layers of five sheets each. I started by spooning a bit of sauce and then a layer of pasta.

wheat no boil pasta

Then schmear a third of the cheese and kale business. A sprinkle of the chopped rapini stems (or olives or other leftover etc), sauce and repeat.

vegetable lasagna

After a few minutes I had this. And about 40 minutes after that I had a damn skippy lasagna that was devoured and never again photographed. Maybe next time.

vegetarian lasagna


Vegetale Lasagna with Baby Kale

Yield: about 8 servings

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


3 garlic cloves, minced
1 quart (about 6 oz by weight) baby kale (or any other leafy green)
12 oz mushrooms, medium thick slices
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
1 24 oz jar marinara sauce
1 lb cottage cheese (I use lowfat, large curd if I can find it)
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or chopped
2 cups green vegetable, cooked, chopped - or any other leftover
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1 (9-ounce) box DeLallo No-Boil Whole Wheat Lasagna (15 sheets)
salt and pepper to taste


- heat olive oil over medium high heat and add garlic, cooking for 30 - 40 seconds
- add baby kale, season with salt and pepper and saute until wilted and cooked through, about 2 minutes; remove to cutting board to cool and chop
- heat coconut or vegetable oil over high heat and working in batches, sear and cook mushrooms; allow to cool and mix into marinara sauce
- combine chopped kale, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup parmesan
- heat oven to 350 degrees and assemble lasagna starting with spooning a couple of tablespoons into the bottom of a 9x13" pyrex dish
- tile five sheets of pasta int he pan, spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture over top; and top that with a quarter of marinara sauce
- repeat two times and then sprinkle remaining parmesan on the top
- cover and bake for 40 minutes then uncover and bake another 10 minutes or so until bubbly

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Rapini with Creamy Mushrooms

This week marked the annual migration of the in-laws back to Virginia from Florida, so we celebrated my father-in-law’s recent birthday by taking dinner over. Peggy was convinced I had mixed broccoli and spinach together but it was one of my favorite veggies that has been easier to find lately – rapini, aka broccoli rabe.

Almost anything can benefit from creamy mushrooms, but for whatever reason the combination of them with rapini has particularly addictive quality. And it is uncomplicated to make, and can be done ahead. I set mine up in a French oval.

Rapini with Mushrooms

It’s not necessary, but after I trim the ends off the stems I then cut the slightly thicker stems from the leaves so I can let them cook separately. Blanche the stems in boiling salted water, remove to an ice bath; do the same with the leafy part. Or do all together – won’t hurt my feeling (I believe I have only one feeling left after what I left in a couple of kitchens ; )

Blanched Broccoli Rabe

While the rapini air dried on the towel I seared the quartered (or more) mushrooms in coconut oil over very high heat to get them to caramelize. Go in batches so the pan is never crowded and there is only one layer of mushrooms, allowing all or most to get a hard, golden sear on the bottom of the pan.

Caramelized Mushrooms

Then I made a garlic cream by sauteeing chopped garlic in olive oil and then adding what I consider to be a modest amount of heavy cream. Allow to reduce a bit…

Garlic Cream

Add the mushrooms and reduce a bit more. Then arrange the rapini in an oval or other oven-proof dish, top with the mushroom cream and cover with foil. If making ahead, refrigerate and then pop into the oven, covered at 350 for 15 minutes or so while your significant other grills something and you pour a glass of pinot noir rose… optional, but strongly suggested.






Thursday, March 21, 2013

No Rise Grilled Flatbread

This is such a go-to recipe for me. It’s easy and requires virtually no planning; can be done on a grill or in a pan on the stove and yields fresh, steamy bread. How delightful is that?!

It’s a recipe from Douglas Rodriquez’s book Latin Flavors on the Grill and he titles it No-Rise Grilled Chicama Flatbreads. Chicama is a town in Peru… He doesn’t go into the ifs or whys that’s his inspiration for this bread, but I’d like to go if this is indicative of a visit.

All you do is prepare the dough, portion and grill. The recipe calls for 6 portions, but that makes very large pieces, about twice the size of a typical pita, so I often portion out more if I’m not feeling too lazy. Also, when I’ve made for company I’ve portioned and rolled them out, stacked with wax paper and refrigerated for a couple of hours before grilling. It rises a bit, but it works out fine. You could of course cook them ahead, but then your guests don’t have the privilege of ripping a steamy piece just as it comes off the grill.

Just get the grill hot so that the rack is hot, and then turn down to a medium low fire. When I made these the other night I skipped brushing the olive oil on them in an effort to be leaner – it probably wasn’t worth editing out, but they’ll grill up either way.

grilled flatbread

Just lay them out on the grill and let them go for about 4 minutes, flip and go for another 4 minutes.

no rise grilled bread

Of course nosh on one while cooking the next batch. We had them with orange chipotle glazed chicken and some chimichurri… the chicken recipe is a work in progress.

Flatbread with chipotle chicken


No-Rise Grilled Chicama Flatbreads

Yield: 6 large flatbreads

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 16 minutes


1 Tbsp active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp light corn syrup or honey (I've used agave as well)
4 cups all-purpose flour (I used wheat flour this time)
1 1/2 tsp salt
olive oil for brushing
sesame seeds (optional)
fresh rosemary, minced (optional)


- prepare a medium low grill
- in a medium bowl combine the yeast with the water and corn syrup or honey and let rest 10 minutes until foamy
- stir in about 3 1/2 cup of the flour and the salt
- add remaining flour a few tablespoons at a time, adding only until you have a sticky dough (I needed to ad more flour)
- transfer to a floured surface and divide into 6 portions
- Rodriguez says to flour your hands and press and pull each portion until it is an oval of about 5 by 7 inches - I lightly use a rolling pin to make it easier, and I find to get the right 'flatness' that they come out much larger than 5 by 7
- dust each oval with flour and stack on a plate with a piece of oiled parchment (or wax paper) between each oval [At this point it can be wrapped and refrigerated for about 2 hours.]
- when ready to cook, brush both sides of each oval with olive oil
- press finger tips into the dough to make small indentations and sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or rosemary
- arrange ovals on grill and cook for 4 minutes; flip and cook 4 minutes more and remove to a serving platter

from Douglas Rodriguez's Latin Flavors on the Grill

Monday, March 4, 2013

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

These shrimp are the third part of the recipe Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Grits Cake, Country Ham, & Redeye Gravy from Not Afraid of Flavor. Brian soaked his skewers and braved the elements to grill them the up for the beginning of a Valentine’s dinner. To serve just reheat the grits cakes, top with grilled shrimp and drizzle with the redeye gravy vinaigrette and country ham.

Shrimp, Grits and Redeye Gravy