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Tag Archives: sausage

Chicken, Sausage, and Capers on Polenta

29 Oct

Chicken, Sausage, and Peppers on Polenta 001

It was a year ago last Friday that I sat down at my computer and, with a short preamble, wrote down what I had for dinner that night. Thus began Dinner with Jonny. I started it solely for my own amusement, and that’s pretty much the same mindset I retain; I figure that if I’m entertained by what I write and share, then people who read my writing will be as well. If I, an amateur cook, make a kick ass dish, others might have similar success.

I also have kept in mind that a great many people are intimidated by cooking and I seek to ameliorate that problem by showing that a bit of levity and less convolution in trying to cook make the world a better place. The best teachers understand this as it relates to any subject, and as a teacher, I can’t help applying this principle to whatever I do.  For example, language acquisition scholars will tell you that, if you want to learn a language, have some drinks with native speakers of that language; it loosens you up, and after a few beers, you’ll forget that you’re shy about trying to speak another language (you’ll also realize that most native speakers love when people try to learn their language and you’ll make lifelong friends). While I won’t go on record that I promote alcohol consumption in learning new skills, the idea behind it resonates a truth: you learn more if you’re having fun, so lighten the fuck up, world.

Before I share the recipe for this beautiful and healthful dish, I think it’s high time that I share some insights about the general public that I have gleaned since I began writing this blog. You see, WordPress keeps statistics on a great many aspects of a blog: what countries read my blog, the busiest times of day, my most popular posts, etc.

One of the most fascinating features is the record of what search terms people use that bring up my blog via google, yahoo, or any other search engine. So for this blog post, I’ve decided to give you a sampling of the keyword searches that have brought up Dinner with Jonny in some regard since its inception. Just so you know, the three most common terms that brought up Dinner with Jonny are “burritos,” “torta rustica,” and “croutons,” in that order.

But here is a sampling of some less benign doozies, and reader discretion is advised:

  • drop your panties drink: ‘Tis fair enough, I suppose. A man’s gotta eat.
  • drink panty greaser: As an English teacher, I struggle understanding this, yet I’m intrigued. Is it a new form of Spanish fly?
  • forme pussys made of torta (sic): I have spent considerable time processing this one to no avail. If you have an idea, post it in the comments section.
  • cream my tight c**t: I’m guessing one of my creamy dishes helped this lady out marvelously. Hopefully.
  • roast chicken porn video: It must be southern. In fact, it has to be.
  • having cazzo for dinner: “Cazzo,” for your information, is “dick” in Italian. I admit, I have offered this to both my brothers a few times, but never literally.
  • pussy pot pie/ penis pies: If you search long enough, I bet you can find a penis pot pie, too, kids. Don’t limit yourselves.
  • Canada penty hot sexi porno lady (sic): It seems that I actually got Borat to read my blog. I’m honored.
  • make a frog sandwich: This could be a French delicacy or a French porno, if you think about it.

And my favorite,

  • candied nuts and students: It’s must be a fund-raiser or a person with considerable issues.

As always, my gimcrackery leads into an exceptional dish. This is yet another example of a Weight Watchers’ dish that’s easy to make, filling, and damn tasty. 1 1/2 cups of this is a 5 on the old Weight Watchers system (PointsPlus and 360° can fuck off very well), and if you serve it with two slices of tubed polenta, you’ve got a huge dinner for 7 points. I’m guessing you can make a sausage and pepper sandwich a la New Jersey just as easily, but you would need to adjust the points accordingly because of the bread.

Chicken, Sausage, and Capers with Polenta

Serves 4

Old Weight Watchers 7

Ingredients:

2 tsp. olive oil

3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast (two small or one large), cut into 1″ pieces

1 18 oz. tube of pre-cooked polenta (Trader Joe’s has a fine one)

cooking spray

1/4 lb. precooked turkey or chicken Italian sausage, hot or mild, cut into 1/2″ slices

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 bell peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained

2 tbsp. grated parmesan plus a bit more for garnish

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Saute the chicken pieces until they’re golden and no longer pink, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pieces to a bowl and set aside.

Slice the polenta into eight disks. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay the slices on it. Bake these for 20 minutes. They should be ready when the main dish is ready to serve, fyi.

In the same skillet, add in the sausage and brown them briefly. Add the red wine vinegar until it almost evaporates in a minute or two, scraping the fun stuff off of the bottom of the pan. Add in the bell peppers, onion, garlic, and oregano. Cook this until the peppers get soft, about 6 minutes or so, stirring fairly often.

Stir in the tomatoes, broth, and capers, and bring it all to a boil. Return the chicken to the skillet and add in the parmesan. Reduce the heat a bit and let it simmer for about 5 more minutes until it thickens a bit.

Place two polenta disks on each plate and divide the chicken mixture between the four plates. Top with some parmesan and you get this:

Chicken, Sausage, and Peppers on Polenta 006

For those of you that read this blog regularly, thank you for letting me indulge in my passion for cooking, eating, and writing for the last year. Still, I hope none of you is responsible for those search terms above, either.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

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Cajun Jambalaya

3 Feb

Jambalaya 011

I have a few love affairs with certain cultures, and the culture of New Orleans is one of them.  Way back in the ’80’s when I was in high school, I rented a movie on VHS called The Big Easy starring Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin.  It’s a sexy legal thriller about the mafia and corrupt New Orleans cops.  The music, the accents, and the food depicted in it made me long to know more about it.  I told no one then, but I actually bought the soundtrack to the movie on cassette, and I still have it memorized.

From there, I developed quite an interest in New Orleans culture, and I got to know the music quite well. When I began playing the drums at 18, I practiced often to New Orleans-Zydeco-Funk music, and The Meters, Aaron Neville’s band, has had one of the most profound influences on my drumming.  Even more interesting is that, last year, a colleague of mine wanted to jam New Orleans music, and he asked if I had any knowledge of it.  Of any drummer he could have asked,  I have that background, which is a bit esoteric.  My wife and I went to New Orleans for our first time 6 months before Katrina hit, so I watched the tragic events that followed in tears, literally, because I love that city so much.  A big reason that I studied French all through college was partly due to my love of New Orleans, too.

It also happened that, as I got into that culture, a certain chef by the name of Emeril was festooning the TV channels with “Bam!”, heavy spice, garlic, and a laissez faire, confidence-building attitude to inspire amateur cooks at least to attempt to make good food.  I didn’t really start cooking regularly until my late twenties, but when I did start, I started with Emeril.  He made me want to cook.  Whatever one may think about him, just like Ringo on the drums, he got many people not to be intimidated by cooking and instead to try daring recipes.  I was one of them.

Jambalaya is the quintessential Cajun dish.  Simply put, it’s a spicy rice stew and, if made right, it’s a nut buster. For me, jambalaya is one of those dishes by which I will measure a restaurant.  If it’s on the menu and they make it well, I’ll be back.  If not, pox on them and their families.

The best part is that jambalaya is quite easy and somewhat cheap to make.  The recipe below is Emeril’s, and I really don’t mess with it because there is no need to.  I will say, though, that I will omit the shrimp sometimes just because I have to be in the mood for shrimp, but that would be my only alteration. If I don’t use shrimp, I add more chicken and sausage to it.

I put the recipe for Emeril’s Essence (the crack-like substance he “bams!” on everything) after the jambalaya recipe.  I always have a batch of it in a jar because I use it for a dry rub on steaks, chicken, whatever.

Cajun Jambalaya

Serves 4

Ingredients:

12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped (if you like shrimp; if not, omit and add more chicken and sausage)

4 oz. chicken, diced

1 tablespoon creole seasoning (like Emeril’s Essence, recipe follows)

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (whatever color you have works, dude)

1/2 cup chopped celery

2 tbsp. chopped garlic

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, or 1/2 can of diced tomatoes with some o’ the juice (my trick)

3 bay leaves

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. vinegary hot sauce, like Tabasco or Crystal

3/4 cup rice, rinsed

3 cups chicken stock

5 oz. Andouille sausage, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Makin’ It:

In a bowl, combine the chopped shrimp, chicken, and the creole seasoning.  Mix it together well and set aside.

In a large saucepan or skillet, heat the oil over high heat and add the onion, bell pepper, and celery.  Cook this for about five minutes.  Then, add the garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Cook this for a minute or two.  Then, stir in the rice and cook for a minute. Slowly add the broth and get it boiling.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook it, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the rice absorbs the liquid and becomes tender, about 15 minutes.  When the rice is tender, add the shrimp, chicken, and sausage.  Cook this until the meat is done, about 10 minutes more.  (At this point, I have even hit it with a 1/4 cup of white wine for good measure and it works out famously.) Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more Creole seasoning, if you want some more heat.

Spoon it into a bowl and serve with some French bread and alcohol of some sort, like red wine, a beer, or a Sazerac, if you have some class.

Jambalaya 009

Emeril’s Essence

2 1/2 tbsp. paprika

2 tbsp. salt

2 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. onion powder

1 tbsp. cayenne pepper

1 tbsp. dried oregano

1 tbsp. dried thyme

Combine all of the ingredients well and keep in an airtight container.

And that’s it!  This is a great dish to serve company, too, as long as you are sure that they like some spice.

Mardi Gras is next week, so it’s apropos to share a jambalaya recipe.  Go on Pandora and find a Mardi Gras station, cook some jambalaya, get your gin-and-juice on, and laissez les bon temps rouler.

A la prochaine, mangez, buvez, et ayez surtout la paix.

©Jon Marino 2013

Good Ol’ Meatloaf

4 Dec

Meatloaf on the plate 2

Who doesn’t like a good meatloaf?  Not many people I know.  Meatloaf like this tastes of the fifities, like the meatloaf Ralphie digs into after his mom saves his ass from his dad for cussing and beating the crap out of Scut Finkus in A Christmas Story.  This has American comfort food written all over it, and if you dare to make it for guests, which seems like a social or foodie faux pas, they will swear that you’re genius. Foodies can piss off.

It follows that, since I started this blog in late October, I would necessarily be writing about some serious autumn/ winter dishes.

If you have been raised in the U.S. in the last sixty years, you probably, not definitely, have run across this book:

Better Homes and Gardens

My mom had this with stained pages, the three-ring binder holes repaired so many times that great care had to be taken to leaf through it.  My wife’s grandma still has one from the fifties, with notes and all. It’s a treasure.  I read it everytime I get a chance just to see appetizer recipes about meat submerged in jelly.  Jesus.

In any case, this book can be had at any Target or online bookstore, and it is the quintessential book in terms of American cooking.  It has everything.  The meatloaf recipe in here just tickles the nether regions, no doubt about it.  My meatloaf is based on this.

The beauty of meatloaf is that, obviously, it’s a loaf o’ meat, which means you can put anything in it with some forethought of what flavors sound good to you, and you’ll get a creation with your stamp on it.  The more you talk to people about their meatloaf, the more you will realize the variety in what people do.  That’s the beauty of it.  Everyone has their own style.

You like cilantro?  Do it.  You like rolled oats in it instead of breadcrumbs, like my mom did?  Do it.  You like a few hard boiled eggs stuffed in the middle, Italian style and topped with marinara?  Do it.

Me?  I like the fifties tasting one.  So, here goes, and it’s based off of the recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.

Good Ol’ Meatloaf

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef, 90% or fattier, not leaner

1/2 lb. sausage of some sort without casings (not pre-cooked sausage)

2 beaten eggs

1/2 to 3/4 cup milk

2/3 cup dried bread crumbs or 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (see note below)

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup diced onion

2 tsp. dried parsely or 2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsely

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. oregano, crushed

Topping (you’ll need 2 portions of this)

1/4 cup ketchup

1 tsp. dried mustard

2 tbsp. packed brown sugar

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 375°.

In a big bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, onion, parsely, salt, pepper, and oregano.

(*Note about the breadcrumbs:  I used two Thomas’s English muffins crumbed in a food processor tonight and the result was a moist, juicy you-know-what.  White bread works too.  Wing it if you need to.  Normally, I use the dried bread crumbs, and I use enough to where the meat mixture is still wet, almost too wet to what you think should be normal, but this is what you want.  The wet meat mixture makes a moist meatloaf.)

Add in the meat.  Wash your hands.  Look at the bowl again.  Wash your hands.  Contemplate why Hamlet delays killing Claudius, and then wash your hands again.  And now for the fun…

Mix this meat mixture with one hand until you can’t possibly mix it anymore.  In other words, mix this puppy up until you have a meat glove on you.

Then, transfer this into a loaf pan and pat it evenly into the pan.  When you’re done, it should look like this:

Meatloaf before sauce

In a small bowl, mix together the ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar.  Smear that over the top of this so it looks like this:

Meatloaf with sauce before oven

Put this in the oven for about 70 minutes.

After the 70 minutes, take it out of the oven and get rid of the fat pooling on top of it (usually in the corners), either by spooning it off or pouring it off, being careful not to burn yourself.

After, make the other portion of the ketchup mixture (ketchup, mustard, brown sugar), and layer it on there.  Put it back into the oven for 10 minutes.  You will get this:

Meatloaf out of the oven

Let it rest for at least ten minutes.  You can serve it from the loaf pan, of course.  I usually transfer it to a plate and slice it to serve.  You’ll get this:

Meatloaf out of the pan after the oven

And with some mashed potatoes and green beans, you’ll get this:

Meatloaf on the plate 2

Leftovers are unreal as the flavors all sort of get together and party through the night in the fridge.  If you want gravy, make some.  We usually skip it because it’s good enough on its own.

Drinks!  A red.  My wife, who is an office manager of a farm, brought home a Santa Ynez Cabernet Sauvignon called Three Saints given to her from her grower.  I’ve never seen it, but it’s damn good.  Dry, but needs to hang out a while and get its youthful edge out of it.

And that’s that.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino, 2012

Sausage and Beans with Mushrooms, a Favorite Anywhere, Anyhow

1 Dec

Sausage, Beans, and Mushroom

I think that sausage and beans have been around as long as men have been around.  Somewhere along the historical line, some guy (probably Italian or Spanish) looked at his male package and wanted to feed a representation of it to someone, perhaps to share goodness or sexuality, or to laugh inwardly at some gullible heel for a sophomoric prank.  Whatever may be the case, the results have been around for years, and no one is complaining.

Now that I’ve experienced and cooked an array of recipes across the cultural board, I tend to see concepts emerge.  I have written about the bread + meat + egg + sauce concept, or the ground meat + seasoning + starch concept.  The sausage and beans one is all over the place.  In the U.S., we have pork and beans, made popular through camping and through Something About Mary.  English and Irish breakfasts feature baked beans, eggs, and sausage, often.  In the few times I’ve been to Barcelona, Spain, they have a sausage called butifarra, served traditionally with white beans.  Pasta fagioli  in Italy (called “pasta fazool” in my family) is often made with Italian sausage.  Like a lot of Autumn meals, this is meant to warm, comfort, fill, and titillate.

This meal sort of riffs on all of these cultural traditions, and I made it for the first time tonight, kind of.  I have made pieces of it separately, but tonight I put them all together and got a “dish,” so to speak.  Here are the ingredients I had bought to get going on this:

Stuff for Italian Beans, Mushroom, and Sausage

I got a Sicilian chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s (chicken, tomato, and Romano cheese), white beans, a tube of pre-cooked polenta, some mushrooms, onion and garlic, and the means to cook them, like olive oil, butter, and spices.

From start to finish, you’re looking at 30 to 40 minutes, tops.

Sausage and Beans with Mushrooms

Ingredients:

1 tube of precooked polenta (Trader Joe’s: $1.99.  Albertson’s: $5.99.  Do the math.)

6 sausages, grilled, Italian or Sicilian or whatever you’re in the mood for.  Make it mild or earthy sausages, rather than sweet or spicy.

1 package chevre/ goat cheese

1 recipe Mushrooms a la Jonny (https://dinnerwithjonny.com/2012/11/13/sauteed-mushrooms-a-la-jonny/)

1 recipe Italian beans (recipe follows)

Italian beans:

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 tbsp. water

1 16 oz. can great northern or cannelini beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Makin’ the beans:

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a medium sauce pan or skillet and add the onion.  Saute it until it’s soft, 4 minutes, and then add the garlic and red pepper.  Saute this for 4 more minutes, and then add the water, the beans, and the salt and pepper.  Let it get happy for a few minutes and you’re done.

Putting It All Together:

Preheat the oven to 450°.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray it with cooking spray or coat it with olive oil (depending on how sexy you want to get).  Slice the polenta tube into 8 slices.  Lay them on the baking sheet and spray the tops of them with a bit more spray (or drizzle with olive oil, you sexy thing, you).  Bake this for 10 to 14 minutes.  Remove from the oven and get ready to assemble the big shebang.

My wife, Angela, and I put our plates together differently.  For mine, I did this:

Sausage, Beans, and Mushroom

I put three of the polenta slices on the plate.  On one, I smeared some of the goat cheese, which gives it a tartness that’s beautiful.  On one slice, I put beans all around it.  On the last slice, I put the mushrooms all around it.  I lay the sausages in the middle. I ground black pepper all over it, too. For each slice of sausage that I cut, I took a taste of one of the three options.  In other words, I didn’t mix them all up and rather got three distinct tastes in one dish.  Right on, I say to myself.

The wife did this:

Sausage, Beans, and Mushrooms 2

She’s a goat cheese freak, so she slathered it on each polenta slice.  She also sliced the sausage first.  She piled on beans, mushrooms, and sausage, and got a beautiful dish with a rustic flair.

But there’s no green?  The food shows, like Chopped or Iron Chef, always emphasize that colors are important, like textures.  Yeah?  Well they can piss off.  This tasted out of this world, and we were full enough, to be sure.  This looks like home cookin’. Notice that the placemat is an olive green, which is good enough for me on a Friday night two weeks before Christmas vacation.

Drinks!  This is a great Chianti from Trader Joe’s:

Grifone

It goes perfectly with this because although the meal is chicken based, it’s rich, so it needs a good red to break it down, if you will.

And that’s that.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino, 2012

Nonna’s Pizza from Naples

12 Nov

Literally, I have been eating pizza like this my whole life.  My nonna I am sure learned it from her mom and her mom from her mom, and so forth.  When nonna brought the family over from Naples, Italy, (through a marriage of convenience, I might add) in the 1950’s, the recipes and traditions came with them.  Like so many first- and second-generation Italians, I am privileged to have grown up with food like this.  My passion for food and cooking is a direct result of it, and this is only one of many dishes that make up a large part of my identity.

When my pop, the oldest of nonna’s children, married my mom in the early 1960’s, nonna taught my mom multitudinous recipes in hope that she would carry on the traditions.  She did exactly that, and this pizza is one of them.  My family had this almost every week and I remember helping my mom cube the mozzarella and spreading the sauce on it.  When my pop used to take me to L.A. to visit his extended family, his aunt Franca made the same pizza for us.  Every Christmas Eve, this was (and still is, actually) dinner,  I think because we weren’t supposed to eat meat on that day.  Besides Chuck E. Cheese for friends’ birthday parties, I honestly do not remember ever ordering a pizza because THIS was pizza.

When my mom died of ALS a little over three years ago, my brothers and I eventually got around to dividing her estate and things amongst ourselves.  When the round robin had gotten to kitchen items and such, I saw my mom’s two giant 3-ring binders filled with recipes: recipes she never got to cook and ones that she wrote down but never had to look at because she had memorized them.  When my turn came up again, I chose the binders of recipes.  So much of my childhood is in those pages and I cannot overstate how special these are to me.  If you cook with love for your kids, write it all down for them, please.  It’s a gift from the heart that keeps on giving (kind of like Clark Griswold’s membership to the Jelly of the Month Club from his boss).

From start to finish, you’re looking at about three hours or so.  My guess is that this pizza is unlike anything you’ve had from a restaurant or parlor.  Something tells me that New York or New Jersey might prove me wrong on this, but in California, I am pretty sure I’m right.

Dough and the Ingredients

1 package dry active yeast

2 cups warm water

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

4 cups of flour, approximately

Makin’ It

Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the warm water.

In a big bowl, add the other cup of water, 1 cup of flour, the salt, and the oil, which will make a thin dough starter.

Add the dissolved yeast water and mix it up.  Slowly start adding the flour 1/2 cup at a time and mix until you get a good kneading consistency dough.

Place the dough on a floured board and cover with the bowl for 5 minutes.  Then, knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding flour on the board to keep the dough from sticking (some of it will stick a bit, but no worry).  If you have kids, let them help while you coach them with a glass of vino in your hand.

After 5 minutes of kneading, shape the dough into a ball and put it in a warm oiled bowl and put more oil on top of it (you should have an oiled dough ball).  Cover it, put it in a warm spot, and let it double in size, about an hour.  Punch it down and let is rise again.

Once it’s risen, cut it in half and you have enough dough for two cookie sheet-size pizzas.  If you only are cooking one, put the other half in an oiled bag and refrigerate for later use.

Sauce and Ingredients

1 can regular stewed tomatoes

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp salt and some cracked pepper

Makin’ It

You want to make the sauce right after you set the dough to rise.  You want it to sit and blend for a while.

In a bowl, squish the tomatoes into small pieces with your fingers.  Add the rest of the ingredients, stir it, cover it, and let it party for a while

Assembly

I made this one with mushrooms and sausage on it, but my mom only put cheese on it.

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Spread the dough lovingly on an oiled pan or cookie sheet (available pans dictate shape).

Next, cut a small ball of mozzarella into 1/2″ cubes and spread it over the dough.

Next, spread the sauce over the cheese to the edges.  This is the weird part of this pizza, obviously.  Most U.S. pizza is first sauce and then cheese, but this is a different idea with different results.

Here is where my mom would get it ready for the oven.  If you want only cheese, drizzle it with some olive oil and put it in there.

If you want toppings, knock yourself out.  I grilled up some Italian sausage (and sliced it, obviously) and sliced some mushrooms.

Drizzle it with olive oil and put it in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, checking to make sure the bottom gets crisp.

About 5 minutes before you pull the pizza out, sprinkle some parmesan or romano on it (my mom has romano only in her recipe, which means my nonna made a point of it, but we only have parm right now, so I’m sorry, ancestors.  Even in death, you still make me feel guilty for something). Anyway, when it’s done, it looks like this:

See the brown crusts in between the sausages and mushrooms?  That’s the cheese and this tastes better than it looks here.  It will make-a you scream-a and cream-a you pants, as my pop might say in his Italian accent.  Every time I have made this for people, they take a bite and look around saying, “Are kidding me with this?”  I’m not.

Cut it into squares and serve.

Drinks:  Beer or red wine.  I had a San Miguel, a Filipino beer, which makes sense to me only.

Enjoy.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

p.s. If you have any comments or you might want to follow this blog, don’t be shy.  I want to see where this all goes.

The Shame

11 Nov

Today was a date day.  We got grandma to watch the kiddo for five hours. We had a picnic overlooking the Nipomo Mesa on a clear, brusque day at Laetitia winery, 15 minutes up the road from us.

Some Trader Joe’s Eggplant Hummus with flatbread, goat cheese brie, the Trader Joe’s Napa Chicken Salad, crackers, a baguette, some Laetitia sparkling wine for the wife, and a Laetitia pinot noir for me…life is good.  This is why we moved to the central coast from Orange County: not a fake tit or humvee in sight.

But this was from 1:30 pm to about 4:00 pm.  After the winery, we went to the bowling alley bar (Rancho Bowl ’tis called in Santa Maria) and proceeded to drink a few Pabst Blue Ribbons on tap poured by Tommy, a 75 year old curmudgeon who knows everything about everything.  We love this place for obvious reasons.

By the time we left for home, ’twas around 6:00 pm.  The kid got dropped off by grandma, and bathtime was slated.  But because of our oddball picnic, I got hungry.  Of course, I could’ve made a sandwich or something, but when I opened the lunchmeat drawer, it beckoned me: a half chub o’ Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage waiting to be used.  Oh, the shame of even thinking about it…

So I constructed something called Eggs Zebediah, the name intending purely to ackowledge our sausage eating and inbreeding forefathers.

Ingredients:

a chub of sausage, made into patties

a Thomas’s Bagel Thin, toasted

two eggs, fried (I use cooking spray for this, thus giving myself some dignity)

a swirl of sriracha, or whatever sauce tickles your taint

Makin’ It:

Cook the sausage patties.

Fry the eggs.

Toast the bagel thin.

Split the bagel thin and place the sausage patties on each bagel half. Place one egg on each sausage-topped bagel half. Circle some sauce on each egg.  I ate it with a fork and knife and it was absolutely indulgent, especially when the yolk broke and I got to wipe it all up with a forkful of bagel, sausage, and egg.

Should I start a “stoner food” category?  Perhaps…

But, oh, how I feel the shame…

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

Image

Cock in the Hole

5 Nov

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I’m an Anglo- and Hiberno-phile (a lover of things English and Irish, that is).  I’ve been to Ireland twice and I have seen Toad in the Hole on a few pub menus, but I never ordered it.  For whatever reason, one day I remembered it on the way home from work…sausages in a pastry with gravy.  How can that be bad?  It can’t.  It’s one of the best dishes ever on an autumnal or wintery evening.  I mean, just look at it!  It’s just tits!

When I remembered the dish, I started doing some research.  I found a few recipes and sort of blended them all together (if you want the individual ones, let me know and I will look them up).  Toad in the Hole is traditionally made with bangers, English pork sausages made with breadcrumbs.  They are just not found around the central coast of California, except for one butcher in Arroyo Grande, who makes exceptional ones.  So, I thought that perhaps chicken and apple sausage might work  (I use Aidell’s from the supermarket…foodies can piss off).  Indeed, they do work famously, and I have thus created a new California/ English/ Irish fusion comfort food called Cock in the Hole because of its chicken sausage.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter melted

3 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon canola oil (or something equivalent)

1 pound of cooked chicken and apple sausages (or whatever your little heart desires in the sausage category) *Note: if you use uncooked sausages, brown them in a pan first to make sure they get cooked through!

Whisk together the flour, salt and pepper, and then make a well in the center of it.  In the well, pour the melted butter, beaten eggs, and milk, and whisk it until it’s smooth like a pancake batter.  Cover it and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

Make sure you have two racks in your oven. When you’re ready, coat an 8 x 12 baking disk with the tablespoon of oil, put it in the oven, and preheat the oven to 425 F (the dish will be piping hot when you put in the sausages and batter.).

For the gravy, you need:

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon of oil

1 teaspoon of superfine sugar or regular sugar

2 cups vegetable stock

2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon of mustard powder

2 teaspoons of flour

salt and pepper to taste

Toss the sliced onions with the sugar and oil, and put them in a single layer on a baking sheet.  When the oven is ready,  put the onions on the top rack.  In the heated baking dish on the bottom rack, carefully place the sausages in there and watch so you don’t get splattered.  Spoon the batter over the sausages in the dish evenly, scraping the bowl so everything is used.  Close the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the stock (or make the stock from bullion cubes) and add the Worcestershire sauce and the mustard powder to it, mixing well.

After 15 minutes, remove the onions, which should be roasted and brown and even black in some parts.

In a saucepan, heat a teaspoon of oil and add the onions and the flour.  Cook it about a minute or two until it’s pastey, and then start adding the stock little by little, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan.  After all of the stock is added, let it simmer until the Cock (or Toad, depending on the sausage and your sauciness) is ready.  Season it with salt and pepper.

After thje 30 minute timer goes off, it should be golden brown and fairly firm, as the picture above shows.  Let it rest a few minutes, and then slice the Cock between the cocks, and serve with a gravy boat with which to smother it.  I love roasted potatoes and green beans smothered in the gravy  with it.  Britons say that mashed potatoes are the key.  Whatever blows you hair back will work fine.

Drink:  Beer makes this heavenly, especially a Bass or a Harp.

One of the best parts of being American is that I get to simulate, interpret, and amalgamate.    I have served this to people and they have been blown away.  They might say it’s an inside-out hot dog, but I think that’s oversimplifying, like we Americans tend to do.  In any case, this has become a regular menu item in our house, and perhaps it will be in your house too.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.