Posts Tagged ‘sausage’

Pear Ricotta Sausage Pizza (and Curious Chef product review)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

I’ve written a lot about apples this fall, but I’d be remiss not to mention that other star of late autumn fruit stands: the pear. From crisp Asian pears, perfect for salads, to sweet Bartlett pears, poached for dessert, and the boy’s favorite, toddler-hand-sized Seckels, we’d be hard pressed to take sides in a pear-apple face-off. We always enjoy the samples offered by Papa’s Orchard at the West End Alexandria farmers market, and the boy has been known to devour a Seckel (or two) before finishing our stroll through the market.

These sweet and savory pizzas also feature two other of my local farmers market favorites, grassfed lamb sausage from Valentine’s Country Meats and fresh ricotta from Keswick Creamery. The pizza crust was made from frozen dough I picked up from the Italian Store for pizza-making emergencies. Of course you could make your own, if you prefer. There are few better ways to get kids into the kitchen than with make-your-own-pizza night. Thanks to the kid-sized tools from Curious Chef (see below), the boy was able to help with rolling out the dough, slicing the pears, and of course, decorating the pies.

Recipe: Pear Ricotta Sausage Pizza

Ingredients:

  • pizza crust for 2 pizzas
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lamb sausage
  • 8 ounces fresh ricotta
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 sweet pears, thinly sliced
  • several fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • sea salt and black pepper

Instructions: In a skillet, crumble the sausage and cook over medium heat until browned. Drain excess drippings and set aside. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out pizza crusts and place on baking sheet or pizza peel, if you have one. Spread several tablespoons of ricotta over the crusts, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, each. (If your ricotta is particularly moist, use less oil.) Spread pears and onions around, sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper, and scatter sausage over the top. Drop a few more spoonfuls of ricotta over the pears. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Bake 15-20 minutes, until crust is lightly browned. Makes 2 pizzas. Enjoy!

curious chef pizza kitCurious Chef Product Review: We received the Curious Chef pizza kit to try out, as seen in the photos above. The boy was beyond trilled to have “my very own!” knife and rolling pin. The knife is made of sturdy plastic that actually can cut through an apple or pear, without fear of slicing off finger tips. Ever since our pizza making fun, when he sees me slicing something he gets out his own knife from his kitchen drawer and demands to help. The easy-grip handles make the tools perfect for small hands, and it’s nice to be able to set him up with his own cutting board and knife to keep him busy while I’m prepping the rest of the meal. Needless to say, Curious Chef gets a big thumbs up from the Foodie Tot. (My only complaint is that the white plastic isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but it’s more kid-appropriate than stocking up on fancier, and more breakable, items from somewhere like Williams-Sonoma.) View the full product line (and safety information) at CuriousChef.com.

*Disclaimer: all reviews are the opinion solely of myself and my son, and are not financially compensated in any way.*

At Market: Apple Sausage Skillet Cornbread

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you it’s officially apple season at the markets. Honeycrisps, gala, rambo, winesap, mutsu, braeburn, pink lady… — you may not find these names at the grocery store, but our local farmers markets offer an amazing variety of vintage varieties. And of course, we’ve been to orchards — picking at Crooked Run (Purcellville, Va.) and to the pumpkin patch at Butler’s Orchard (Germantown, Md.), where we picked up our most recent batch of honeycrisps.

Now that the weather is officially cold, there are few more comforting side dishes than skillet cornbread. Fortify it with (not-so-local) sausage and some of those apples, and it becomes practically a meal in itself. The base for this comes from a recipe recommended by Kristina at Tennessee Locavore. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time living “in the South,” it’s to trust a Southerner when it comes to cornbread. The recipe comes from Crescent Dragonwagon, who has authored an entire cookbook on cornbread — so if you’re looking for more ways to play with cornmeal, you might find inspiration there.

Recipe: Apple Sausage Skillet Cornbread
Adapted from Dairy Hollow House Skillet-Sizzled Cornbread in Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon

Ingredients:

2 links sausage,* such as Italian or chorizo
1 cup apple, diced
1 cup stone ground yellow cornmeal
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, break the egg and add buttermilk and oil, whisking to combine. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring until the dry ingredients are moistened. Gently fold in apples. Set batter aside.

Heat skillet over medium high heat and cook sausage, breaking apart with your spoon, until browned. Spread cooked sausage evenly around the pan, and pour batter into the hot pan over the sausage. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until top is golden brown. Serve warm. Makes 8 servings. Top with a little butter and maple syrup, and enjoy!

* Note: I actually used a chunk of Soppressata di Calabria from Boccalone in San Francisco, diced small — but the husband thought the chunks were a little too chewy after being double-cooked. Next time I’ll stick with the fresh sausage.

What have you made with apples lately? Be sure to join in for Kids Cook Book Soup if you’ve made something apple-licious with your kids!

One Local CSA Summer (and a Buffalo Sausage and Kale Frittata)

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

one local summerThe first week of the One Local Summer challenge coincided with our first CSA (community supported agriculture) delivery of the season, from Virginia’s Potomac Vegetable Farms. Our farm is “ecoganic” — meaning they follow organic practices but are not certified — and has one of the few remaining farms in Fairfax County just west of Tyson’s Corner, as well as a second location in Purcellville. We love visiting our farm for the semi-annual CSA member potlucks, and as I mentioned previously, they will be hosting the newly-crowned RAMMY Rising Culinary Star of the Year Anthony Chittum for a Summer Solstice Farmland Supper later this month.

csa garlic scapes kale

While I love our CSA, I only get a half share to allow for plenty of farmers market shopping each week as well. This first OLS/CSA dinner featured garlic scapes, chives and kale from the farm, and sausage, eggs, cheese and broccoli from the Upper King Street farmers market. Our CSA pick-up is on Wednesday, so the first meal is usually something simple involving eggs or pasta. This week it was a sausage and kale frittata, with a side of steamed broccoli. Quick, fresh and delicious.

Recipe: Buffalo Sausage and Kale Frittata

buffalo sausage kale frittata

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. or 4 links buffalo sausage
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic scape, thinly sliced
  • several stems of chives, chopped
  • 1 cup kale, cut into thin ribbons
  • 6 cage-free eggs
  • 4 thick slices cheddar cheese, diced

Instructions: Heat olive oil in saute pan or skillet over medium high heat. Crumble sausage into pan and cook until browned, about 5-6 minutes. Drain excess oil. Add kale, scape and chives and cook until kale just begins to wilt, 1-2 minutes. Whisk eggs in mixing bowl and pour into pan. Fold in cheese and season with salt and pepper. Cook until eggs are fully set, and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Farms of Origin

  • Potomac Vegetable Farms (VA), kale, garlic scapes and chives
  • Cibola Farms (VA), buffalo bourbon fennel sausage
  • Tom the Cheese Guy (PA), eggs and cave-aged cheddar
  • Long Meadow Ecological Farm (VA), broccoli
  • bread from Breadline (DC)

One Local Summer is an annual challenge in which people around the world join together for 13 weeks of seasonal eating, supporting local farmers and exploring their local foodsheds. Visit FarmtoPhilly on Tuesdays for the weekly round-up.

Tapas for Toddlers

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

It’s no secret that tapas are one of my favorite foods and Jaleo, the first outpost of gregarious local chef Jose Andres’ growing empire is my favorite local restaurant. When you think about it, tapas (“little plates”) are really the ideal toddler-friendly meal, with small portions, varied colors and textures that catch their eye without being intimidating.

I recently posed a question to Chef Andres via the PBS Engage blog‘s “Five Good Questions” feature (a great read, by the way).

I am a long-time fan and Jaleo was one of the first restaurants we took my son out to eat in. He was a big fan of the (original) patatas bravas. I know you have young children too so I’m curious what their favorite tapas recipes are? Colleen

My girls love croquetas! I think all children do. Crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. They also love pan con tomate, the classic Catalan tomato toast. Many parents tell me that their children love tapas. They love the little plates and the fact that they don’t have to make up their mind and can try a little bit of everything. I think it also reflects the pure straightforward nature of Spanish cooking. Children respond to the pure flavors of dishes where ingredients speak for themselves. – Jose Andres

For our Los Reyes feast this week, I made the croquetas from Andres’ previous cookbook, Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America. The book includes all our favorites from the restaurant and is a great introduction to traditional Spanish flavors. (I don’t have his newest book, Made in Spain, yet, but it has even more inspiring recipes.) These croquetas are a fried, meat-filled (chicken and serrano ham) bechamel sauce, and while I added some finely chopped red peppers, they are still not exactly a healthy dish. But, as an occasional alternative to chicken nuggets (which the toddler thought they were, at first), these are a great treat. There’s not too much toddlers can do to help prepare this recipe, unless you put them to work rolling the dough into little logs. Of course, be sure to distract them away from the kitchen when you begin the frying.

Along with the croquetas, I adapted another Andres recipe for cider-braised chorizo, using a fresh non-alcoholic cider and adding carrots and garbanzo beans to make a main-dish stew. The toddler loves eating sausage with toothpicks, so this was designed especially for him. It would work for younger kids learning to eat with their fingers, too. Just use a mild chorizo or even a sweet Italian sausage if your little ones aren’t ready for the spicier ones. And we rounded out the dinner with a red pepper and orange salad and some citrus roasted olives. (My toddler actually hates olives, because he always thinks they are grapes and is then greatly disappointed by the salty taste. I’m sure he’ll come around eventually.)

Recipe: Cider Chorizo Bean Stew
Adapted from Jose Andres

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces chorizo, cut into 1/2-inch slices (or milder sausage)
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 carrots, cut in thick slices
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • fresh parsley, optional

Instructions: In a medium saute pan, brown chorizo over medium high heat for a 2-3 minutes. Add carrots and beans, cook 1 minute. Pour in apple cider and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 40 minutes, until cider reduces and becomes syrupy. Top with a little fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread to sop up the juices. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Update: Jose Andres cooked some recipes from Made in Spain on Martha this morning.

Virginia Market Week

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Last week was Virginia’s Farmers Market Week, so we celebrated by heading to three local markets last weekend. The toddler and I visited the McLean Market Friday morning, which is located in a shady corner of a park and had a nice mix of vendors, many familiar and a few new. The Middleburg ice cream truck was a fun touch. Westmoreland Berry Farm had giant blackberries and sweet raspberries – the toddler instructed me to keep them coming, one color in each hand. They also had one box of wilted squash blossoms (we were there shortly before closing time) that she threw in free since they were rather sad-looking. Mount Olympus Berry Farm had a rainbow of beautiful peppers (I picked purple and orange), tomatillos and purple and white cream peas. We got our favorite sweet potato bread from Grace’s Pastries, to eat along with the berries, cheese and watermelon for our picnic lunch. (At Clemyjontri, awesome playground a few minutes away.)

Saturday morning the toddler and I headed down to Old Town Alexandria. There were still a few dubious produce stands, including one with lemons and avocados, but I was pleased to see some well-known vendors, like Bigg Riggs, J&W Valley View and Twin Springs. I still have to dock them points on the lay-out though, with so many vendors smushed together in the front and wide open patches in the back, it made for tough going to get through to Bigg Riggs. But, peaches were everywhere. One vendor had a bin of squash blossoms and some small gooseberries still. We hit up the meat/dairy stands, with sweet Italian sausage from Babes in the Woods, Calhoun’s Country Ham, and Blue Ridge Dairy ricotta.

For brunch that day I stuffed my squash blossoms with the ricotta, fresh oregano and a bit of prosciutto, then coated in corn meal and fried. The corn meal was a little heavy – I might mix it into a batter next time instead of dipping in milk/egg and corn meal separately – but they were oh so good. (And that was my local corn meal, too!)

Sunday was a quick stop at the West End Market, where Norma’s had these lovely purple tomatillos. Since I already had the green ones from Friday, I had to pass them up. We picked up Hilldale’s organic chicken which isn’t cheap, but was far and away the juiciest chicken we’ve ever had.

I was sick all week so we stuck to simple meals and I really slacked off in the photo department.

Dinner #1: Grilled Tomatillo Chicken — We marinated the Hilldale chicken (breasts and legs) in a tomatillo-pepper salsa and grilled it, along with some corn on the cob from our CSA bag. Simple and so good!

Dinner # 2: Italian grill — Babes’s Italian sausages, peppers, pattypan squash and golden zucchini, all brushed with olive oil, fresh oregano, sea salt and pepper and thrown on the grill. The toddler is rejecting squash lately (last year he ate the golden zucchini straight from the market table) but loved the sausage. Served with watermelon agua fresca to drink, made from the final remnants of our Eastern Shore melon.

Note to DC-area bloggers: This is the week for the August Farm Fresh Recipe Round-up. Email me at foodietots at gmail dot com by midnight Weds. Aug. 13 if you have a favorite recipe to share!