Sharing a seriously fun love for food

Month: February 2019

Hot Chicken Salad

Hot Chicken Salad

An old twist on the traditional chicken salad served hot! This dish brings plenty of crunch along with loads of tender chunks of chicken – a delicious savory chicken salad.

Quite possibly your Mother or Grandmother made this classic chicken casserole – mine certainly did. In the days of bridge clubs and canasta groups my Grandmother, Grace Pearl served this to her guests alongside one of her delightful cold salads.

It’s a simple dish to make and actually it’s just as good, if not better, the next day. To minimize the prep work pick up a roasted chicken at the market and you can pull this dish together in no time. Toss in celery, cremini mushrooms, sweet onion and toasted almonds for a little more crunch.

Then stir in luscious, creamy mayonnaise and add a gentle brightness with fresh lemon juice.

A little chopping then a quick stir and this dish will be off to the oven in no time.

And for good measure and one more touch of crunchiness, top it with crushed potato chips and a bit of cheese!

Then heat until the topping is toasted and golden and the chicken salad is hot and bubbly!

A recipe from the archives of the 50s and 60s – still comforting and classic!

Hot Chicken Salad

2 cups cubed roasted chicken

2 cups chopped celery, about 2 to 3 stalks

1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion

1-1/4 cup chopped cremini mushrooms, about 5 mushrooms

½ cup toasted sliced or silvered almonds

1 cup mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice. 1 small lemon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1-1/4 cup crushed potato chips

½ cup shredded or shaved cheese, fontina, Parmesan, cheddar or a blend

Mix the chicken along with the celery, onion, mushrooms, almonds, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Season with the kosher salt and pepper.

Spoon the chicken salad into a small baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with a cooking spray. (I use an oval dish that is 12” x 9” x 2” deep.)

Mix the crushed chips with the cheese. Sprinkle the chips and cheese over the top of the chicken salad.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes until the chips are toasted and the chicken salad is hot and bubbly.

Let the dish rest for about 5 minutes. Serve hot.

To reheat any leftovers, place the chicken salad in a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes. Serves 6.

Hot Chicken Salad, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

February 27, 2019
: Makes 6 servings.

An old twist on the traditional chicken salad served hot! This dish brings plenty of crunch along with loads of tender chunks of chicken – a delicious savory chicken salad.

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 cups cubed roasted chicken
  • 2 cups chopped celery, about 2 to 3 stalks
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1-1/4 cup chopped cremini mushrooms, about 5 mushrooms
  • ½ cup toasted sliced or silvered almonds
  • 1 cup mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 1 small lemon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1-1/4 cup crushed potato chips
  • ½ cup shredded or shaved cheese, fontina, Parmesan, cheddar or a blend
Directions
  • Step 1 Mix the chicken along with the celery, onion, mushrooms, almonds, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Season with the kosher salt and pepper.
  • Step 2 Spoon the chicken salad into a small baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with a cooking spray. (I use an oval dish that is 12” x 9” x 2” deep.)
  • Step 3 Mix the crushed chips with the cheese. Sprinkle the chips and cheese over the top of the chicken salad.
  • Step 4 Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes until the chips are toasted and the chicken salad is hot and bubbly.
  • Step 5 Let the dish rest for about 5 minutes. Serve hot.
  • Step 6 To reheat any leftovers, place the chicken salad in a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes.
Cheese Tartlets

Cheese Tartlets

Okay, fair warning – these little bites are hard to stop eating! Creamy cheddar touched with a mild note of spice then topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan and baked in crispy phyllo shells. They might be small but they deliver a mouthful of wonderful!

One of our favorite things – whether it’s an afternoon snack or a casual meal – is to nibble on small bites. Sometimes it’s a simple slice of cheese and a piece of fruit. But then there are times I like to include layers of taste and texture in that one tiny bite. These tasty tartlets answer that quest.

These heavenly little tartlets are made with things I keep on hand – a good sharp cheddar cheese, a dollop of cream, and a hint of spice from dry mustard and paprika plus a tiny splash of Worcestershire sauce.

Take this gooey goodness and pour them into mini phyllo shells and dust with grated Parmesan cheese. Oh my!

The mini phyllo shells are one of my favorite staples. You will almost always find them in my freezer. They create the perfect vessel for sweet or savory snacks and a quick “go to” for last minute desserts or appetizers.

Depending on your preference you can make the cheese tartlets straight up – strictly cheese if you’re a cheese purest – or toss in a slice of cherry tomato, olive or ham. Or mix it up and you’ve got a feast of flavors.

Easy and delightful! The cheese tartlets make a delicious pairing with your favorite cocktail!

Cheese Tartlets

Pulling together a smattering of

8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

1 tablespoon heavy cream

¾ teaspoon dry mustard

¼ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

15 mini phyllo shells, one package*

2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Optional additions – sliced cherry tomatoes, sliced green olives or sliced ham

Set a double boiler on a pan of simmering water over medium-low heat. Add the grated cheddar cheese and the heavy cream.

Cook stirring occasionally until the cheese is melted and smooth, about 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir in the dry mustard, the paprika and the Worcestershire sauce.

Place the frozen phyllo shells on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat liner or parchment paper. Place the tomatoes, olives or ham in the bottom of the shells. Using a small spoon fill each of the shells with the cheese filling.

Sprinkle each tartlet with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 7 minutes or just until the cheese starts to bubble.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes 15 tartlets.

*Athens Phyllo Shells can be found in the freezer section of most food markets or purchased online. https://athensfoods.com

Cheese Tartlets, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

February 25, 2019
: Makes 15 tartlets.

Creamy cheddar touched with a mild note of spice then topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan and baked in crispy phyllo shells.

By:

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • ¾ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 15 mini phyllo shells, one package*
  • 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional additions – sliced cherry tomatoes, sliced green olives or sliced ham
Directions
  • Step 1 Set a double boiler over a pan of simmering water over medium-low heat. Add the grated cheddar cheese and the heavy cream.
  • Step 2 Cook stirring occasionally until the cheese is melted and smooth, about 15 minutes.
  • Step 3 Turn off the heat and stir in the dry mustard, the paprika and the Worcestershire sauce.
  • Step 4 Place the frozen phyllo shells on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat liner or parchment paper. Place the tomatoes, olives or ham in the bottom of the shells.
  • Step 5 Using a small spoon fill each of the shells with the cheese filling. Sprinkle each tartlet with the Parmesan cheese.
  • Step 6 Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 7 minutes or just until the cheese starts to bubble.
  • Step 7 Serve hot or at room temperature.
  • Step 8 *Athens Phyllo Shells can be found in the freezer section of most food markets or purchased online. https://athensfoods.com
Peanut Butter Bacon Bread

Peanut Butter Bacon Bread

A beautiful golden loaf of bread chock-full of roasted peanuts and delectable bits of bacon – yes bacon! All swirled in a luscious peanut butter batter.

It seems our love affair with bacon has gone on for years. This is a fun and utterly delicious recipe I found while digging through my Mom’s collection. This unusual recipe dates back to the late ‘50s and includes many familiar ingredients in a traditional quick bread and some that are unique.

Sweet and salty flavors play well together with a creamy peanut butter batter loaded with roasted peanuts and crispy bacon. The results will surprise you. At first bite it reminds you of a peanut butter cookie, not overly sweet but definitely full of peanut butter flavor. Then the crunch of the peanuts and oh, that bacon make for a delightful loaf!

If you can’t find unsalted roasted peanuts – most on store shelves are salted – it’s easy to roast your own. Look for raw peanuts, preferably without their trademark red skins. I buy nuts from North Richland Hill’s Farmer’s Market – a local farmer’s market. The nuts and dried fruits are some of the best I’ve ever come across. Roasting your own peanuts only takes about 20 to 25 minutes. Their nutty aroma will fill your kitchen in the most amazing way when they’re roasted to perfection! Roast a big batch and freeze any extra to maintain their freshness.

Then there’s that marvelous bacon! If you haven’t tried Pederson’s Natural Farms bacon, search them out. Two of my favorites are the applewood smoked bacon and the cherry smoked – both are wonderful! For this recipe you’ll need a 10-ounce package, about 9 to 10 slices. Anytime I cook a large batch of bacon I find the oven is the easiest – and the least messy – way to cook it. Spread the bacon out on a wire rack, flipping it occasionally until it’s crispy and crunchy through and through.

Roasted peanuts and crisp, crumbled bacon – hidden treasures inside this peanut butter bread!

Perfect for a brunch or luncheon, snack or dessert – this rich savory, salty, lightly sweet bread will surprise and delight!

Peanut Butter Bacon Bread

1 cup milk

1 extra-large egg

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon melted shortening

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup chopped roasted, unsalted peanuts

1 cup crumbled crispy bacon

Whisk together the milk and the egg.

Pour the sugar along with the shortening into a mixing bowl. Add the milk and egg and mix on medium-low until blended, about 2 to 3 minutes then add the peanut butter.

Continue mixing on medium speed for another 2 minutes then stir in the vanilla extract.

Reserve about 3 tablespoons of the 2 cups of flour to coat the nuts and the bacon. Whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and kosher salt.

Add the flour mixture to the batter in two batches and blend on low speed just until the flour disappears.

Toss the chopped peanuts and the crumbled bacon with the 3 tablespoons of flour. Blend into the batter on low speed.

Scoop the batter into a large loaf pan (9”x5”x3”) that has been greased, floured and preferably lined with parchment paper.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes then remove from the pan and finish cooling on the wire rack. Keep the bread refrigerated and warm to room temperature for serving.

Makes one large loaf.

To roast raw peanuts: Spread them out on a rimmed sheet and pop in a 400-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once or twice while they roast.

To cook bacon in the oven: Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty foil. Set a wire baking rack over the top and lightly spray it with a cooking spray. Lay the strips of bacon out on the wire rack and cook in a 400-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, turning 3 to 4 times while it cooks. You want the bacon very crisp.

Peanut Butter Bacon Bread

February 22, 2019
: Makes one large loaf.

A beautiful golden loaf of bread chocked full of roasted peanuts and delectable bits of bacon – yes bacon! All swirled in a luscious peanut butter batter.

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted shortening
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 1 cup crumbled crispy bacon
Directions
  • Step 1 Whisk together the milk and the egg.
  • Step 2 Pour the sugar along with the shortening into a mixing bowl. Add the milk and egg and mix on medium-low until blended, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Step 3 Add the peanut butter and continue mixing on medium speed for another 2 minutes then stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Step 4 Reserve about 3 tablespoons of the 2 cups of flour to coat the nuts and the bacon. Whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and kosher salt.
  • Step 5 Add the flour mixture to the batter in two batches and blend on low speed just until the flour disappears.
  • Step 6 Toss the chopped peanuts and the crumbled bacon with the 3 tablespoons of flour. Blend into the batter on low speed.
  • Step 7 Scoop the batter into a large loaf pan (9”x5”x3”) that has been greased, floured and preferably lined with parchment paper.
  • Step 8 Bake in a 350-degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  • Step 9 Cool the bread in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes then remove from the pan and finish cooling on the wire rack.
  • Step 10 Keep the bread refrigerated and warm to room temperature for serving.
  • Step 11 To roast raw peanuts: Spread them out on a rimmed sheet and pop in a 400-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once or twice while they roast.
  • Step 12 To cook bacon in the oven: Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty foil. Set a wire baking rack over the top and lightly spray it with a cooking spray. Lay the strips of bacon out on the wire rack and cook in a 400-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, turning 3 to 4 times while it cooks. You want the bacon very crisp.
Fried Walnuts

Fried Walnuts

These walnuts are so wonderfully crunchy with a little sweet, a little salty and kissed with a bit of spice. Irresistible!

This recipe has been on my list of “things to try” for years. I kept passing it by, wondering how good could these really be. Turns out they’re really good and something I should have tried these years ago.

I love virtually every type of nut but tend to cook with pecans more than any other. This past holiday season I was gifted with two beautiful bags of nuts from a dear friend, one full of gorgeous walnuts. This led me back to the fried walnut recipe. It’s a simple recipe with minimal ingredients. Walnuts tossed with sugar, Chinese five-spice powder and kosher salt.

Chinese five-spice – made with cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns – brings a subtle layer that lingers on the palate. Many recipes for fried walnuts only use sugar and salt. But I love the addition of the five-spice, it gently deepens the natural earthy flavor of the walnuts.

Rereading the various recipes for fried walnuts I wondered why – or if – it was even necessary to fry the walnuts. Could I roast them instead? But after one bite, the unbelievable crunch that comes from frying was proof enough. You can’t get a nut this crispy and crunchy from roasting.

There are a few kitchen tools that are handy to have on hand before you start. A wide, shallow stockpot is the perfect vessel for boiling the nuts and a colander works best to drain them. You’ll want two metal or heatproof mixing bowls – one large bowl to toss the boiled walnuts with the sugar and five-spice plus another to set underneath a sieve to drain the walnuts once they’re fried. A rimmed baking sheet works for spreading out the fried walnuts while they’re salted and cooling. A digital thermometer is also convenient to keep an eye on the temperature of your oil while you’re frying the nuts.

I don’t fry many foods these days but these walnuts are a delicious exception I’m willing to make!

Fried Walnuts

8 to 10 cups water

4 cups walnut halves

½ cup sugar

¾ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

4 to 5 cups vegetable or canola oil

½ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Bring the water to boil in a shallow stockpot. Add the walnuts and boil for 1 minute.

Pour the water and walnuts into a colander. Rinse the nuts with very hot water, shake the water out and rinse with hot water again. If you have an electric teakettle, it works great for getting water really hot to rinse the walnuts. You want the walnuts still warm to help dissolve the sugar. After rinsing, shake off as much water as possible.

Pour ¼ cup of the sugar into the bottom of a large mixing bowl, toss in the drained walnuts and add the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the walnuts are coated.

Sprinkle on the five-spice powder and stir to blend into the nuts.

Before you begin to fry the walnuts, set a large sieve over a metal bowl to drain the walnuts. (Don’t lay them out on a paper towel to drain after frying. With the sugary coating the paper towels will stick to the walnuts.)

Pour the oil into a deep saucepan until it is about 4” deep. Heat the oil over medium until it reaches 350-degrees. Working in batches, add about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of the walnuts to the hot oil. Be careful, the oil has a tendency to foam up and spatter when the nuts are added.

Fry the walnuts for about 2 to 3 minutes until the walnuts are crisp and golden brown.

Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the fried walnuts to the sieve to drain. Let the oil come back to temperature then add another batch of nuts. Drain each batch of the walnuts then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.

When you’re finished frying, sprinkle the kosher salt over the fried walnuts. Store in a sealed container for up to a week or bag and freeze.

Makes 4 cups of fried walnuts.

Fried Walnuts, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

February 20, 2019
: Makes 4 cups.

These walnuts are so wonderfully crunchy with a little sweet, a little salty and kissed with a bit of spice. Irresistible!

By:

Ingredients
  • 8 to 10 cups water
  • 4 cups walnut halves
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 4 to 5 cups vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Directions
  • Step 1 Bring the water to boil in a shallow stockpot. Add the walnuts and boil for 1 minute.
  • Step 2 Pour the water and walnuts into a colander. Rinse the nuts with very hot water, shake the water out and rinse with hot water again. If you have an electric teakettle, it works great for getting really hot water to rinse the walnuts. You want the walnuts still warm to help dissolve the sugar. After rinsing, shake off as much water as possible.
  • Step 3 Pour ¼ cup of the sugar into the bottom of a large mixing bowl, toss in the drained walnuts and add the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the walnuts are coated.
  • Step 4 Sprinkle on the five-spice powder and stir to blend into the nuts.
  • Step 5 Before you begin to fry the walnuts, set a large sieve over a metal bowl to drain the walnuts. (Don’t lay them out on a paper towel to drain after frying. With the sugary coating the paper towels will stick to the walnuts.)
  • Step 6 Pour the oil into a deep saucepan until it is about 4” deep. Heat the oil over medium until it reaches 350-degrees.
  • Step 7 Working in batches, add about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of the walnuts to the hot oil. Be careful, the oil has a tendency to foam up and spatter when the nuts are added.
  • Step 8 Fry the walnuts for about 2 to 3 minutes until the walnuts are crisp and golden brown.
  • Step 9 Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the fried walnuts to the sieve to drain.
  • Step 10 Let the oil come back to temperature then add another batch of nuts.
  • Step 11 Drain each batch of the walnuts then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Step 12 When you’re finished frying, sprinkle the kosher salt over the fried walnuts.
  • Step 13 Store in a sealed container for up to a week or bag and freeze.
Blueberry Cinnamon Smoothie

Blueberry Cinnamon Smoothie

Plump and sweet blueberries blended with creamy yogurt, spiced with a surprising note of cinnamon and an extra touch of sweetness from honey. A gorgeous and delicious concoction!

Having breakfast on the go – or having none at all – has unfortunately become a way of life for most of us. This smooth and fruity beverage is a great way to start your day, whether you’re sitting at your table on in your car!

The food markets have been loaded this winter with gorgeous blueberries. Even in mid-February they are absolutely delectable! When buying fresh blueberries look for fruit with a deep color, no shriveling – something that happens with aging fruit. Then flip the carton over and check for any signs of mold or spoilage. But if you live in an area and all you have available are frozen berries, you can most certainly use them.

The ingredients for this cold beverage are quite basic, many items you might already have on hand. Milk and blueberry yogurt provide the foundation for this drink. The extra cold creaminess comes not from frozen yogurt or ice cream but a frozen ripe banana. Cinnamon and honey create a background that accentuates the blueberries in a delightful way.

Toss everything into your blender and in less than a minute or two you’ve made breakfast.

No need to skip your morning meal – grab a straw and go!

Blueberry Cinnamon Smoothie

¾ cup milk, 2% or whole

1 cup blueberry yogurt, regular or low-fat

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1 frozen banana

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon honey

Pour the milk into a blender along with the yogurt.

Add the blueberries.

Cut or break the frozen banana into 3 to 4 pieces and drop into the blender.

Toss in the cinnamon and drizzle the honey into the blender.

Start by processing on low speed for about 10 seconds. Increase the speed to medium high for about 20 to 30 seconds until smooth.

Cover and refrigerate any extra you have left over, then give it a quick stir before serving. Makes 2 large drinks.

Blueberry Cinnamon Smoothie, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

February 18, 2019
: Makes 2 large smoothies.

Plump and sweet blueberries blended with creamy yogurt, spiced with a surprising undertone of cinnamon and an extra touch of sweetness from honey. A gorgeous and delicious concoction!

By:

Ingredients
  • ¾ cup milk, 2% or whole
  • 1 cup blueberry yogurt, regular or low-fat
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
Directions
  • Step 1 Pour the milk into a blender along with the yogurt.
  • Step 2 Add the blueberries.
  • Step 3 Cut or break the frozen banana into 3 to 4 pieces and drop into the blender.
  • Step 4 Toss in the cinnamon and drizzle the honey into the blender.
  • Step 5 Start by processing on low speed for about 10 seconds. Increase the speed to medium high for about 20 to 30 seconds until smooth.
  • Step 6 Cover and refrigerate any extra you have left over, then give it a quick stir before serving.
Mediterranean Stew

Mediterranean Stew

This is a surprisingly fresh and light stew. Full of amazing flavors courtesy of gorgeous eggplant, fresh fennel and Kalamata olives. An unusual combination perfectly brightened with herbs and lemon zest!

If you overdid it on the Valentine’s Day candy this dish is a great antidote! I’ve flipped past this recipe for years and finally decided to give it a try – feeling it would either be wonderful or “what was I thinking”! It is wonderful!

There are recipes I try when the Engineer is out of pocket. Though he is far more willing to try new foods and dishes than he was when we first met, he still has his moments. (It’s a work in progress!) The ingredients are all things I love – eggplant, fennel, sweet onion, garlic, Kalamata olives, plump tomatoes – and a splash of white wine!

This is a great meal for a relaxing weekend. Once you prep the ingredients it comes together quickly. Start with the eggplant. Though it’s not always necessary to peel eggplant, I tend to err on the side of caution. Sometimes the peel of an eggplant can be tough and bitter.

Season the tender chunks of chicken with a simple sprinkling of kosher salt. The chicken is cooked in the essence of the fennel and onion. You can certainly use shrimp – just toss them in the stew the last five minutes or so – you don’t want to overcook them or they’ll become tough.

Infuse the freshness of herbs while the stew simmers through a bouquet garni.

It’s a simple thing to make – all you need is cheesecloth and kitchen twine. But if you don’t have access to fresh herbs you can use dried herbs.

Lemon zest and an additional pop of fresh parsley added at the end subtly elevate these spectacular flavors.

Serve with an extra dash of parsley, a sprinkling of Parmesan and a toasted baguette.

Mediterranean Stew

For the bouquet garni:

6 sprigs fresh parsley

6 sprigs fresh thyme

3 bay leaves

For the stew:

1-1/2 to 2 pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into 2” pieces

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 medium eggplant – about 1-1/2 pounds, peeled and cubed into 1” pieces

1 large fennel bulb, cored and sliced very thin – about 2 cups

1 large sweet onion, chopped, about 1-1/2 cups

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

¾ cup dry white wine

1 can Italian or San Marzona tomatoes – 28-ounces, broken up into pieces

2 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon concentrated chicken base – such as “Better Than Bouillon”

¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives

Zest of 1 small lemon, about ½ teaspoon

2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus additional for serving

Shredded Parmesan for serving

To make the bouquet garni:

Gather the parsley, thyme and bay leaves together and wrap them up in a piece of cheesecloth.

Tie the bundle together with kitchen twine to secure the herbs inside the cheesecloth. Loop a long piece of the twine through one the ties. Hang this piece of twine outside the Dutch oven – this makes it easy to remove the bouquet garni when the stew is finished.

Spread the chicken breast out and season with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Set the chicken aside while you cook the eggplant.

Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large Dutch oven. Warm the oil over heat slightly above medium. When the oil is hot drop in half of the cubed eggplant. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes until the eggplant softens and is cooked down a bit. Transfer to a bowl. Add an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook the remaining eggplant then transfer it to the bowl with the first batch.

In the same pan add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chicken.

Stir in the sliced fennel and the chopped onion. Cook until the chicken is mostly cooked through and the fennel and onion are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour in the white wine and stir to deglaze, removing any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomatoes, the chicken stock and the concentrated chicken base.

Return the eggplant to the pan along with the olives, the bundle of herbs and the remaining kosher salt and the black pepper.

Bring the stew to a boil over medium heat then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 35 minutes. Remove the bundle of herb and stir in the lemon zest and the chopped parsley. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Note: If you don’t have access to fresh herbs you can add 1 teaspoon dried parsley and ½ teaspoon dried thyme along with the bay leaves.

Mediterranean Stew, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

February 15, 2019
: Makes 6 servings.

This is a surprisingly fresh and light stew. This beautiful stew is full of amazing flavors courtesy of gorgeous eggplant, fresh fennel and Kalamata olives. An unusual combination perfectly brightened with herbs and lemon zest!

By:

Ingredients
  • For the bouquet garni:
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • For the stew:
  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into 2” pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium eggplant – about 1-1/2 pounds, peeled and cubed into 1” pieces
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cored and sliced very thin – about 2 cups
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped, about 1-1/2 cups
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 1 can Roma tomatoes – 28-ounces, broken up into pieces
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon concentrated chicken base – such as “Better Than Bouillon”
  • ¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • Zest of 1 small lemon, about ½ teaspoon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus additional for serving
  • Shredded Parmesan for serving
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the bouquet garni:
  • Step 2 Gather the parsley, thyme and bay leaves together and wrap them up in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie the bundle together with kitchen twine to secure the herbs inside the cheesecloth. Loop a long piece of the twine through one the ties. Hang this piece of twine outside the Dutch oven – this makes it easy to remove the bouquet garni when the stew is finished.
  • Step 3 Spread the chicken breast out and season with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Set the chicken aside while you cook the eggplant.
  • Step 4 Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large Dutch oven. Warm the oil over heat slightly above medium. When the oil is hot drop in half of the cubed eggplant. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes until the eggplant softens and is cooked down a bit. Transfer to a bowl. Add an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook the remaining eggplant then transfer it to the bowl with the first batch.
  • Step 5 In the same pan add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chicken.
  • Step 6 Stir in the sliced fennel and the chopped onion. Cook until the chicken is mostly cooked through and the fennel and onion are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Step 7 Pour in the white wine and stir to deglaze, removing any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  • Step 8 Stir in the tomatoes, the chicken stock and the concentrated chicken base. Return the eggplant to the pan along with the olives, the bundle of herbs and the remaining kosher salt and the black pepper.
  • Step 9 Bring the stew to a boil over medium heat then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 35 minutes.
  • Step 10 Remove the bundle of herbs and stir in the lemon zest and the chopped parsley. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Step 11 Serve with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
  • Step 12 Note: If you don’t have access to fresh herbs you can add 1 teaspoon dried parsley and ½ teaspoon dried thyme along with the bay leaves.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Sweet red strawberries dipped in dark, rich chocolate – simply scrumptious!

And they are perfect for Valentine’s Day! If Cupid’s holiday has snuck up on you and you find yourself in need of something delicious for the special ones in your life – this might be your answer. It’s easy and the results are delectable. So swing by the market, grab some fresh ripe strawberries and a bag of chocolate chips. Magic is within your reach!

When I was catering with my sweet friend Jane, we made hundreds of chocolate dipped strawberries and they were always a hit! I’ve read a lot about tempering chocolate but honestly most of us simply don’t have the time to become chocolatiers. (Though that would be a fabulous job!) This method of making chocolate covered strawberries is ridiculously simple and only requires a few simple steps. The ingredients are very basic – fresh strawberries and chocolate chips. Yep, that’s it. I use bittersweet chocolate but if you prefer semi-sweet or dark chocolate, by all means use your favorite.

When buying strawberries, look for berries that are ripe and really red, especially towards the top – this is the only part of the berry that will show once they’re dipped in chocolate.

Start by washing the strawberries then spread them out on a thick towel to dry. And before you start dipping them in chocolate gently dry each berry with a paper towel – you want to make certain they are really dry. This is the most tedious part of the process but it’s really important. Water is not a friend to melted chocolate. When water gets into melted chocolate it will cause it to seize and become a hot mess.

When melting chocolate go low and slow. Overheating can scorch chocolate turning it bitter and take away its smooth, glossy sheen. You can melt chocolate in the microwave, but the same rules apply – low and slow. Either way, keep an eye on it and stir it frequently. On the stovetop it only takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

Once the berries are dry and your chocolate has melted, then gently hold those red beauties by their stem or leaves and dip into the chocolate goodness.

At this point you can leave the strawberries simply draped in chocolate or grab your kids – or the kid in you- and add your favorite sprinkles.

Give the berries a quick chill to set and they’re ready eat! 

A perfect sweet treat for any special person in your life this Valentine’s Day – young or old!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

1 package bittersweet, semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips, 10-ounces

2 quarts fresh strawberries, rinsed and dried thoroughly

Pour the chocolate chips into a small saucepan.

Place the pan over low heat, stirring as the chips melt. As soon as most of the chocolate chips have melted remove the pan from the heat. Continue stirring and the remaining chips will melt in the warm chocolate.

Holding a strawberry by the leaves or stem, gently dip it into the melted chocolate covering about 2/3 of the berry.

Place the chocolate covered berries on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. You can add sprinkles, dragées or sanding sugar to the chocolate dipped strawberries. Simply sprinkle them onto the chocolate as soon as you transfer the berries to the baking sheet, while the chocolate is still very soft.

Chill until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes to an hour. Makes 3 to 4 dozen chocolate covered strawberries. You can keep any leftover berries wrapped and chilled.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

February 13, 2019
: Makes 3 to 4 dozen chocolate covered strawberries.

Sweet red strawberries dipped in dark, rich chocolate. Scrumptious!

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 package bittersweet, semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips, 10-ounces
  • 2 quarts fresh strawberries, rinsed and dried thoroughly
Directions
  • Step 1 Pour the chocolate chips into a small saucepan. Place the pan over low heat, stirring as the chips melt.
  • Step 2 As soon as most of the chocolate chips have melted remove the pan from the heat. Continue stirring and the remaining chips will melt in the warm chocolate.
  • Step 3 Holding a strawberry by the leaves or stem, gently dip it into the melted chocolate covering about ¾ of the berry.
  • Step 4 Place the chocolate covered berries on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper.
  • Step 5 You can add sprinkles, dragées or sanding sugar to the chocolate dipped strawberries. Simply sprinkle them onto the chocolate as soon as you transfer the berries to the baking sheet, while the chocolate is still very soft.
  • Step 6 Chill until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes to an hour. You can keep any leftover berries wrapped and chilled.
Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate. Rich and fluffy with a cloudlike creaminess that melts in your mouth. It’s a simple yet elegant dessert.

Chocolate mousse might sound daunting to make but think of it as a twist on chocolate pudding. Thickened with beaten egg yolks, egg whites and luscious heavy cream the chocolate mousse takes on a light fluffy texture..

Bittersweet chocolate brings an unbelievable depth of flavor and the butter delivers that richness you’re expecting. Throw in a splash of Cognac and you’ve hit dessert heaven!

This chocolate classic comes together quickly and easily with a few up front steps and tips. My Mom always used a double boiler when making sauces and puddings. Her double boiler was clear glass on top and bottom and it fascinated me. I wish I still had it! Melting the chocolate in a double boiler creates a gentle heat and less chance of scorching the chocolate, leaving it bitter tasting. I’m a huge fan of All-Clad – they make double boiler inserts that fit into their saucepans, doing “double duty”. But if you don’t have one on hand you can rest a metal mixing bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water. Be careful – the bowl will get hot and is not as stable sitting on top of a pan as a double boiler insert would be.

When you add the beaten egg yolks to the warm chocolate and butter, start by adding a small amount of the chocolate to the egg yolks to temper them. This gradually warms them so that they don’t scramble when the two are combined.

To make certain you get the volume you’re after with the egg whites, wash the beaters thoroughly after you tackle the egg yolks. Beat the whites before the cream to avoid any of the butterfat from the cream from getting into the egg whites. Any amount of fat can prevent egg whites from producing the volume you’re after. Beat the egg whites just until soft peaks form. But if you get carried away, don’t stress. Just add another egg white and gently beat it in until you get those soft peaks.

Serve it right away or chill it to a thick, beautiful fluff. A handful of simple steps and you and your special Valentine are in for a delectable treat!

Chocolate Mousse

8 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate, such as Ghirardelli – broken into pieces

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

3 extra-large eggs, separated

1 tablespoon good Cognac or brandy

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Combine the bittersweet chocolate and the butter in the top of a double boiler set over medium-low heat. Stir frequently as the chocolate and butter melt to keep the chocolate from scorching.

While the chocolate melts place the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until the yolks are thick, light and lemon-colored – about 3 to 4 minutes.

Once the chocolate and butter have melted add a small amount to the beaten egg yolks, whisking to blend in the chocolate and temper the eggs.

Then add the egg yolks to the chocolate and butter, whisking to combine. Stir in the Cognac and set aside to cool.

Place the egg whites in a medium mixing bowl and add the kosher salt. Using clean beaters, beat on medium speed until the egg whites are fluffy and form soft peaks – about 2 minutes.

Pour the heavy whipping cream into a large mixing bowl and beat, starting on low speed until the cream starts to thicken. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the beaten egg whites to the bowl with the cream, and then add the melted chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold the chocolate into the cream and egg whites.

Take care to not deflate the whipped cream or egg whites but fold in until they are blended into the chocolate.

Divide the chocolate mousse into 6 dessert cups or pour it into one large serving dish. You can serve the mousse right after you make it. Or cover in plastic wrap and chill it for a day or two – the mousse will thicken into a fluffed, creamy goodness.

Makes 6 servings.

Chocolate Mousse, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

February 11, 2019
: Makes 6 servings.

Chocolate. Rich and fluffy with a cloudlike creaminess that melts in your mouth. It’s a simple yet elegant dessert.

By:

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate, such as Ghirardelli – broken into pieces
  • 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 3 extra-large eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon good Cognac or brandy
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Directions
  • Step 1 Combine the bittersweet chocolate and the butter in the top of a double boiler set over medium-low heat. Stir frequently as the chocolate and butter melt to keep the chocolate from scorching.
  • Step 2 While the chocolate melts place the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until the yolks are thick, light and lemon-colored – about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Step 3 Once the chocolate and butter have melted add a small amount to the beaten egg yolks, whisking to blend in the chocolate and temper the eggs.
  • Step 4 Then add the egg yolks to the chocolate and butter, whisking to combine. Stir in the Cognac and set aside to cool.
  • Step 5 Place the egg whites in a medium mixing bowl and add the kosher salt. Using clean beaters, beat on medium speed until the egg whites are fluffy and form soft peaks – about 2 minutes.
  • Step 6 Pour the heavy whipping cream into a large mixing bowl and beat, starting on low speed until the cream starts to thicken. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Step 7 Add the beaten egg whites to the bowl with the cream, and then add the melted chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold the chocolate into the cream and egg whites. Take care to not deflate the whipped cream or egg whites but fold in until they are blended into the chocolate.
  • Step 8 Divide the chocolate mousse into 6 dessert cups or pour it into one large serving dish. You can serve the mousse right after you make it or cover in plastic wrap and chill it for a day or two – the chilled mousse will thicken into fluffed, creamy goodness!
Chocolate Waffles with Whipped Raspberry Ricotta

Chocolate Waffles with Whipped Raspberry Ricotta

Crisp waffles with a light touch of chocolate and vanilla, topped with a creamy whipped raspberry ricotta cheese.

Valentine’s Day is less than a week away so why wait – start by celebrating with these beautiful chocolate waffles. Waffles are a quintessential brunch item and make a perfect palette for creating something special. Looking for a great brunch idea for Valentine’s Day I decided something with chocolate seemed to be in order. But often any deviation from the classic takes a turn to something so cloyingly sweet it’s too much even for a dessert! But this waffle strikes a gentle balance of chocolate and sweetness – and not too much of either.

Start with our basic waffle recipe then add a rich dark cocoa powder. Add a splash of pure vanilla and chocolate extracts plus some espresso powder to highlight the subtle tones of chocolate. Just enough sugar is stirred in to play off the cocoa powder but not so much that the result tastes like you’re making dessert.

The waffles are cooked until they have that light crunch then topped with a heavenly whipped ricotta – a delicate blend of ricotta with a touch of cream, pure vanilla paste, a dash of warmth from ground cinnamon and lightly sweetened with dark brown sugar. Fold in some raspberry jam and it’s a delightful compliment to the chocolate waffles.

Some quick notes on ingredients. Always use a high quality pure vanilla extract – yes, it makes a difference. Chocolate extract is a wonderful thing to keep on hand. It deepens chocolate flavors without overpowering other flavors. Nielsen-Massey is my go to for extracts and flavorings, their products can be found online or in specialty food stores.

Espresso powder is essentially instant espresso and available in most food markets in the coffee aisle. Espresso and coffee actually boost the flavor of chocolate. Though you don’t want to add regular ground coffee you can use brewed espresso or strong, dark coffee – just adjust the amount of milk you use in the waffles.

The vanilla paste used in the whipped ricotta is pure vanilla, thicker than a vanilla extract. It lets you to add the gorgeous flavor without thinning the topping and the specks of vanilla bean pop through!

Though I used raspberry jam in the whipped ricotta but you can certainly add your favorite fruit jam or serve it as is. It’s delicious either way.

And if you want a bit of decadence you can certainly swirl on some chocolate sauce!

No need to go out for brunch – put on the coffee and whip up a batch of chocolate waffles for your special Valentine.

Chocolate Waffles with Whipped Raspberry Ricotta 

For the waffles:

2-1/2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup cocoa powder

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon instant espresso

2 extra-large eggs

2-1/2 cups milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon chocolate extract

¾ cup vegetable oil

For the whipped raspberry ricotta

1 carton ricotta cheese, 15-ounces

¼ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons raspberry jam

For garnish – fresh raspberries, maple or chocolate syrup

To make the waffles:

Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and chocolate extracts plus the vegetable oil.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, kosher salt, cocoa powder, sugar and instant espresso.

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and whisk just until blended.

A few lumps are fine. Let the batter rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat a waffle iron on medium setting. Lightly spray with a cooking spray and ladle about ¼ cup batter into each well.

Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes until the waffles are crispy on the outside.

For the raspberry ricotta:

In a medium bowl add the ricotta cheese, the cream, vanilla paste, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Using a hand mixer beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffed, about 2 minutes.

Fold in the raspberry jam.

Serve the waffles with the ricotta cheese, fresh raspberries or chocolate sauce.

You can make the batter ahead and refrigerate overnight. Serves 4 to 6.

Chocolate Waffles with Whipped Raspberry Ricotta, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

February 8, 2019
: Serves 4 to 6.

Crisp waffles with a light touch of chocolate and vanilla, topped with a creamy whipped raspberry ricotta cheese.

By:

Ingredients
  • For the waffles:
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon chocolate extract
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • For the whipped raspberry ricotta:
  • 1 carton ricotta cheese, 15-ounces
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons raspberry jam
  • For serving: fresh raspberries, maple or chocolate syrup
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the waffles:
  • Step 2 Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and chocolate extracts plus the vegetable oil.
  • Step 3 In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, kosher salt, cocoa powder, sugar and instant espresso.
  • Step 4 Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and whisk just until blended – a few lumps are fine.
  • Step 5 Let the batter rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Step 6 Heat a waffle iron on medium setting. Lightly spray with a cooking spray and ladle about ¼ cup batter into each well. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes until the waffles are crispy on the outside.
  • Step 7 To make the whipped raspberry ricotta:
  • Step 8 In a medium bowl add the ricotta cheese, the cream, vanilla paste, brown sugar and cinnamon. Using a hand mixer beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffed, about 2 minutes.
  • Step 9 Fold in the raspberry jam.
  • Step 10 Serve the waffles with the ricotta cheese, fresh raspberries or chocolate sauce.
  • Step 11 You can make the batter ahead and refrigerate overnight.
Pasta with Broccoli, Spinach and Sausage

Pasta with Broccoli, Spinach and Sausage

A luscious sauce with hints of Parmesan cheese and a subtle kick of heat surround tender bites of broccoli, creamy spinach and Italian sausage. This is an amazing pasta dish  – one that stands on its own. And best of all it can be made in a single pot – pasta and all!

This fabulous pasta is a blend of two recipes – one from Emily who is always on top of great menu ideas – and an older recipe from one of my favorite Food & Wine books simply titled Pasta.

Both versions include Italian sausage and broccoli plus a kick of heat, a generous dose of fresh garlic and Parmesan cheese. Emily’s recipe adds fresh spinach and the heat in her dish comes compliments of Calabrian chili paste – a thick Italian chili paste made from dried Peperoncini, aka chili peppers .

Though you can use penne pasta, the orecchiette marries into this dish in a beautiful way. The orecchiette – which means “little ears”- becomes slightly creamy as it cooks and its curved shape grabs the right amount of sauce in every bite.

Pour in some half and half to finish the sauce and you have found your way to a beautiful pasta  filled with loads of flavor and layers of texture!

It’s an easy dish that’s deliciously rich, warm and filling!

Pasta with Broccoli, Spinach and Sausage

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound bulk mild pork or chicken Italian sausage or 4 links, casings removed

2 small heads of broccoli

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic, about 4 to 5 cloves

2 cups chicken stock

2-1/2 to 3 cups water

1 pound orecchiette or penne pasta

¼ shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

1 tablespoon chili paste, such as Calabrian*

2 cups half and half

¾ pound fresh baby spinach

Warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the Italian sausage, breaking it up into pieces and cook until the meat is browned. Transfer it to a bowl lined with a paper towel to drain.

Trim the florets from the broccoli heads, discard the stems. You should have about 6 to 6-1/2 cups of broccoli florets.

Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and warm over medium heat. Add the broccoli florets, ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt, the pepper and the minced garlic. Cook until the broccoli is tender crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the sausage.

Pour the chicken stock and 2-1/2 cups of the water into the pan and bring it to a boil. Add the pasta and the remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook until the pasta is just starting to become tender – about 1 minute short of the recommended cooking time. Use the last 1/2 cup of water only if needed to finish cooking the pasta.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the cooked sausage and the broccoli along with ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese and the chili paste.

Pour in the half and half, stirring to blend into the pasta. Toss the spinach into the pan and cook until the spinach has wilted,  the pasta is tender and the sausage is cooked through – about 10 minutes – stirring frequently.

Serve with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

*Calabrian chili paste is an Italian chili paste made from dried Peperoncini – chili peppers. It can be found in specialty food markets or online. You can substitute with other types of chili paste or in a pinch you can use sriracha or red pepper flakes.

Pasta with Broccoli, Spinach and Sausage, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

February 6, 2019
: Makes 4 to 6 servings.

A luscious sauce with hints of Parmesan cheese and a subtle kick of heat envelops tender bites of broccoli, creamy spinach and Italian sausage.

By:

Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound bulk mild pork or chicken Italian sausage or 4 links, casings removed
  • 2 small heads of broccoli
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic, about 4 to 5 cloves
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2-1/2 to 3 cups water
  • 1 pound orecchiette or penne pasta
  • ¼ shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste, such as Calabrian*
  • 2 cups half and half
  • ¾ pound fresh baby spinach
Directions
  • Step 1 Warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the Italian sausage, breaking it up into pieces and cook until the meat is browned. Transfer it to a bowl lined with a paper towel to drain.
  • Step 2 Trim the florets from the broccoli heads, discard the stems. You should have about 6 to 6-1/2 cups of broccoli florets.
  • Step 3 Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and warm over medium heat. Add the broccoli florets, ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt, the pepper and the minced garlic. Cook until the broccoli is tender crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the sausage.
  • Step 4 Pour the chicken stock and 2-1/2 cups of the water into the pan and bring it to a boil. Add the pasta and the remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook until the pasta is just starting to become tender – about 1 minute short of the recommended cooking time. Use the last 1/2 cup of water only if needed to finish cooking the pasta.
  • Step 5 Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the sausage and the broccoli along with ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese and the chili paste.
  • Step 6 Pour in the half and half, stirring to blend into the pasta. Toss the spinach into the pan and cook until the spinach has wilted, the pasta is tender and the sausage is cooked through – about 10 minutes – stirring frequently.
  • Step 7 Serve with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
  • Step 8 *Calabrian chili paste is an Italian chili paste made from dried Peperoncini – chili peppers. It can be found in specialty food markets or online. You can substitute with other types of chili paste or in a pinch you can use sriracha or red pepper flakes.