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fresh egg pasta and italian sausage

fresh egg pasta and Italian sausageThe other day I ‘attempted’ to make fresh pasta and absolutely failed!  The more I tried to rectify the situation, the worse it got.  It’s in these situations I’ve learned to walk away and try again at a later date when my mind is free from the noise.  I’ve been making my own pasta for years but every once in a while, something leads me down a path that I inherently know will result in disaster.  Continue Reading →

Roasted Vegetables & Sausage

 vegetable sausage roastLooking for a Sunday-style roast but without the fuss?  As much as I adore a Sunday roast, it’s an all day thing or close to it.  Sure, you can leave the roast in the oven and putter around the house or go out for a quick lunch, but realistically, you need to be nearby to make sure all is going well.  And, perhaps that’s the whole purpose of a Sunday roast – to keep everyone at home.  It lends for more family time; chatting while the dinner is in prep mode.  For me, though, my kids are too far away for them to pop over for the afternoon.  Unless we have our friends over, it’s just the two of us so a chunk of meat has to be given careful consideration to make sure there’s no waste.  Continue Reading →

Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions on Quinoa Polenta

sausage with peppers & onions on quinoa polenta by The Culinary ChaseI bought a bag of sweet baby peppers the other day and knew that if I didn’t use them soon, they would go off. Sausage, peppers and onions are perfect for a sandwich (hoagie) but I was thinking of something more for dinner. I’ve made many versions of polenta over the years but as I was grilling the peppers, it suddenly occurred to me that I could use quinoa, too. Before you go and turn your nose up at the notion that quinoa isn’t a substitute for polenta, let me say this, it can! Especially when you have a sauce like this over it. If you want it to be creamy like porridge, then you’ll need to add mascarpone and more water or chicken stock. I know, if you’re an Italian reading this, I can imagine you gesticulating and horrified that I even made the correlation. That said, confirmation from Mr. S. to make this again is all I needed to hear.

Serves 4
4 bell peppers, roasted or grilled
large onion, sliced
olive oil
450g Italian sausages (casing removed)
1 can Italian cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Quinoa Polenta

1 cup white quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

sweet baby peppersAfter roasting or grilling the peppers, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When cool enough to handle, peel skin and remove seeds. Cut peppers into strips and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions with a pinch of sea salt and cook until soft. Remove from pan. In the same pan, add sausage meat. Stir, breaking up chunks of meat and cook until meat is browned. Add tomatoes and stir. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes then add onions and peppers. Simmer until heated through.

For the quinoa polenta, rinse quinoa in cold water, drain and add to saucepan. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered 12 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter. Stir and add cheese.

Arrange quinoa on a plate and spoon over the sausage sauce. Top with chopped parsley.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Use bulk Italian sausage meat to save time from having to remove the casings. If you can’t find canned cherry tomatoes, use chopped tomatoes and cook 10 or so minutes longer to allow the juice to reduce. Enjoy!

Sausage Stuffed Mushroom Caps

sausage stuffed mushroom caps byThe Culinary ChaseThere are oodles of recipes for stuffed mushrooms but most require too much cooking for my liking.  I want a simple yet mouth-watering appetizer to whip up while I chat to my friends.  Sausage and mushrooms are perfect companions and pair them with garlic and fennel…it becomes a snack your guests will find hard to say no to.  The thing with this recipe is not to be too concerned with exact amounts.  Add more cheese if that ‘floats your boat’ or more garlic or hot Italian sausage instead of mild.  You get the picture.  Experiment with flavors you enjoy and serve these sausage stuffed mushroom caps at your next soirée.

medium-sized mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
1/4 cup or more of fontina cheese, coarsely grated
hot Italian sausage, squeezed out of their casings
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 teaspoons fennel seed
balsamic vinegar

stuffed mushroom caps by The Culinary Chase1. Preheat oven to 400f.
2. In a bowl combine cheese, sausage, garlic and fennel seed.
3. Brush insides of mushrooms with balsamic vinegar and place a tablespoon or so of the sausage mixture.
4. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: These were so darn scrumptious! These mushrooms were perfect for three bites (ok, maybe 2) although you could go smaller but then you wouldn’t be able to savor the taste as well. You be the judge and let me know. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Kale

spaghetti squash with sausage & kale by The Culinary ChaseFor the love of kale!  I can’t seem to get enough of this green veggie.  This queen of greens is super nutrient rich with an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K.  Keep in mind, though, that flash cooking helps kale to preserve its nutrients.  Spaghetti squash has been around for years. I’ve used it with lemon and pistachio, and in a casserole.  Spaghetti squash, like the name infers, gives you spaghetti-like strands when cooked. You can use it as a substitute for practically any pasta dishes. I’ve even seen it used in mac ‘n cheese! This recipe is a winner…two hands down, no doubt about it!

Serves 2 to 4
adapted from Simply Recipes

3 lb. spaghetti squash
3/4 lb. sausage (small chunks removed from casing)
1/2 cup minced red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped kale (cut away thick spine and discard)
1 cup (or more) grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon oregano
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

chopped kale, onions & garlic by The Culinary Chase1. Preheat oven to 375°f. To prepare the squash, cut in half lengthways and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Smear olive oil on each half and then season with salt and pepper. Place, cut side down, on a baking tray and roast 35 minutes. Remove from oven, turn squash halves upside right and fluff with a fork.

spaghetti squash2. In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about a couple of minutes. Then add sausage and oregano and cook until sausage starts to brown. At this point add the kale and stir until the kale wilts. Add garlic and cook for a minute more.

kale & sausage by The Culinary Chase3. Add spaghetti squash strands to the pan; stir to combine. Once heated through add the Parmesan. Serve immediately.

kale, sausage & spaghetti squashThe Culinary Chase’s Note:
If you don’t have time to roast the spaghetti squash in the oven you can place it, cut side down, in the microwave (10 to 12 minutes). Just remember to poke the skin with a fork.  Add chili flakes for added heat or chose a spicy Italian sausage.  Enjoy!

Fennel Risotto with Lamb Sausage

Fennel is one of those vegetables you can use alone or as a spice, garnish or herb.  Its subtle anise flavor pairs well with apple and cheese; shellfish (lobster or crab); asparagus and garlic; orange and mint; potatoes and onions and so forth.  It’s deliciously light served as a salad, in a pasta, or in ouzo braised cabbage with pork. Its floral component ushers me into the warmth of summer…something I could use right about now!  Fennel is an excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of fiber.  For more health benefits, click here.  Fresh fennel sprigs can be wrapped in foil, sealed, and kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Serves 4
adapted from Food & Wine

4 cups chicken broth mixed with 4 cups of water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
1/2 small fennel bulb, (core removed) and finely chopped
1 small shallot, minced (1/4 cup) 
2 cups carnaroli or arborio rice 
1/2 cup dry white wine 
One 1-inch-thick slice of white bread, cubed 
3 tablespoons whole milk 
2 cups lamb filling (see recipe below)
2 tablespoons butter 
salt and pepper

Lamb Sausage: 
1 lb. ground lamb  
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
3 fennel bulbs—halved, cored and chopped 
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled  
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
2 tablespoons minced rosemary
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns

To make the risotto, bring the broth and water to a simmer and keep hot.  In a saucepan, heat half of the oil. Add the fennel and shallot and cook over moderate heat until golden, 5 minutes. Stir in the rice. Add the wine and simmer, stirring, until absorbed. Add 1 cup of the hot broth and cook, stirring, until absorbed. Continue adding the broth 1 cup at a time and stirring until it is nearly absorbed before adding more. The risotto is done when the rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.   Stir the butter and cheese into the risotto; season with salt and pepper.  Serve with the sliced sausages atop. 

Lamb filling:  In a frying pan, toast the fennel seeds over moderate heat for 2 minutes; crush and transfer to a medium bowl. In a food processor, finely chop the fresh fennel and garlic. In a frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the fennel-garlic mixture and cook over moderately low heat until softened, 10 minutes. Add to the bowl with the minced rosemary, crushed red pepper, cracked peppercorns and 1 tablespoon of salt. Let cool, then mix in the ground lamb.  

To make the sausage, combine the bread and milk. Mix in the lamb filling and form into four 1-inch-thick logs. In a nonstick skillet, heat the remaining oil. Cook the sausages until browned and cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes. Slice the sausages.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  As much as I adore risotto, the homemade sausage is the crowning glory for this meal!  Once the sausages were sliced, I pan-fried until lightly browned.  Enjoy!