Sausage Stuffed Onions

Recipe 7 of 103

I like sausage and I like onions, so this recipe seemed to make sense. redonionsApril requests that you use her fresh sausage recipe but as I struggle to source the proper meats for this project I opted for store-bought for this recipe. Ideally you’ll want to get a spicy italian pork sausage.

Here is what you will need

pre heat oven to 400°

4 medium red onions ( about 8 ounces each) peeled. stem ends trimmed, root ends trimmed but left intact

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

maldon salt

1 head garlic

small handful of fresh thyme sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon leaves

1/2 cup fresh italian sausage (remove from casings)

1 cup heavy cream

Ready your onions, rub them all with olive oil and saltonionprep1Arrange them in a single layer in oven safe casserole or stock pot. Peel the outermost layers of the garlic, so the cloves are exposed. Add garlic, sprigs of thyme and 1/3 cup of water to potonionprep2

Cover and bake in oven for about an hour, until onions are softened. You should be able to insert a knife in the center of the onion easily. Remove onions to a baking sheet and let them cool enough to handle, keep oven on.onionsoftWhen the onions are cool enough to handle use a small spoon to remove the centers of the onions. Don’t remove too much and or too little. Stuff the onions with the uncooked sausage, set aside.onionstuffed

Keep the centers of the onions adding them back to the pot the onions cooked inonioncenters

Squeeze the soft garlic cloves from the whole head of garlic and add to the onion centers, as well as the cream, teaspoon of salt and thyme leaves. As you see here I spaced out and added more sprigs, avoid this and you won’t have to fish out the stems later after they’ve cooked. Bring the mixture to a boilonionjizzAdd the stuffed onions to the boiling mixture, liquid should come half way up the onions, adjust as needed by adding a bit more water or removing some of the liquid.onionsimmerReturn to oven uncovered, bake for about 40 minutes, basting every 10-15 minutes.bastingCheck seasoning, add salt if needed. April says to bring the pot to the table and dig in. I felt like the broth was screaming for some kind of grain so I cooked up some farro. oniondoneThe broth is amazing, the onion to sausage ratio was a bit off for me, I would like more sausage less onion. Onions overwhelm this dish, so if you’re not a big fan of them you might pass on this one. The spicier the sausage the better to balance the sweet of the onions. The broth is the star for me, I dropped my immersion blender in the pot after removing the stuffed onions and ended up with a silky, rich soup to die for.

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Banoffee Pie

Recipe 6 of 103

Banoffee Pie? New to me, how about you? It’s creation dates back to an English Pub called the Hungry Monk in the 1970’s in East Sussex. As I read the recipe I stopped at “caramelized milk” and I had a wtf moment. I read further and all I could think was, this is starting to sound white trash in a way and I love it! Caramelized milk is sweetened condensed milk in a can that has been boiled for 4 hours. I have never been a fan of sweetened condensed milk (aka SCM cause I’m tired of typing it), it reminds me of all those overly sweet dessert bars that were huge when I was a kid, if I see SCM in a recipe, I move on to something else. Admittedly I was curious about the process of caramelizing in the can, so I let my snobbery go and I dove into this recipe openly. Lets start with the caramelized milk. Boil two 14 ounce cans, labels removed of SCM for 4 hours. Make sure there is always at least 2 inches of water above the top of the cans. Rumor is, if the water gets below the top of the can they can explode. I didn’t want to test the rumor so I obeyed April’s advice, checking the water every 20 minutes or so.caramelmilk1This is what it looks like when its donecaramelmilk2

Still super sweet but it takes on a deeper caramel flavor. You could put this on all sorts of dessert items. Or just eat spoonfuls right out the can in the middle of the night….Jim!

On to the crust, here is what you will need.

1 1/2 cups AP flour

1/2 powdered sugar

1 stick unsalted butter chilled and cubed

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large egg yolks

crust1Pulse in a food processor the flour, salt, sugar and butter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs, add the egg yolks, pulse until it looks like a crumbly dough. Pour onto your work surface and form into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours. crust2

This dough came together instantly, very easy to work with. Do not knead it to death, just ball it up into a disc, done. OK ready for the cool part? April grates her dough like cheese!! Brilliant! I love her method for this, no rolling out dough, yippee!crust3Cut your chilled dough into a few chunks and grate like cheese, press the grated dough into a fluted 10″ tart  pan with a removable bottom. Work quickly, you don’t want your warm hands to soften the dough too much. If it does get a bit warm while you’re working, let it rest in the fridge to cool down again. Prick the dough with a fork after you’ve got it all pressed into the tart shell.crust4Line your dough with a circle of parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake for 15 minutes at 350°, when edges are golden, remove beans and paper and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown all over. Let crust coolcrustdoneLets assemble this pie. Here is what you will need.

8 to 10 small bananas

2 cans of caramelized milk

2 cups of chilled heavy cream

3 tablespoons of powdered sugar

1 vanilla bean split lengthwise

3 tablespoons grated dark chocolate

Grab your perfectly baked and cooled tart shell, layer the bottom with sliced bananas like this.banana

Add spoonfuls of the caramelized milkcaramelSpread the caramelized milk so it covers all the bananas like this, an offset spatula is the tool for this, get one.chillreadyAt this point chill the pie for at least 2 hours. April said to cover with plastic wrap, I did as she said and it stuck to the caramel and was a tragic mess trying to get it off the pie. Make your own call on this step.

Now on to the whoop cream! Yes I said whoop, get over it. Split your vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the vanilla caviar.vanillacaviarWhip the heavy cream, vanilla bean caviar and powdered sugar in a stand mixer. Whip until you have stiff peaks but not butter. whoopChill the whoop and spread another layer of bananas on your chilled piebanana2Top the pie with your freshly whipped creamwhup1Top with grated chocolatedone1Chill, serve chilled, keep chilled.done2So here are my thoughts on this pie. VERY SWEET! The bananas, cream and caramel are divine together and the crust is perfect. I would tweak a few things on the next go around, use less of the caramelized milk, no sugar in the whoop but use twice as much whoop. Maybe even add a layer of grated chocolate over the first layer of bananas? April says this pie would be the dessert for her last meal here on earth. My people loved it, sadly my Mom and Kid didn’t have the chance to try it yet, they are both huge banana cream pie fans, I’m guessing they will love this pie.

Cheers! I’m off to forage for food.

Asparagus with Parmesan Custard and Prosciutto

Recipe 5 of 103
She had me at custard….sweet or savory I love custard. Creamy, silky, decadent custard, throw in some salty prosciutto, crispy asparagus on grilled bread. done 🙂

You can make the custard a day or two ahead, or make a ton and always have it in your fridge for a quick bite of lusciousness. Here is what you will need for the custard. This recipe will serve 4 for lunch or 8 for small bitescustard13/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup whole milk

2 spring garlic gloves or 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

1 ounce freshly grated parmesan buy good parmesan reggiano and grate it yourself

1/2 teaspoon maldon salt

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

Preheat oven to 325˚

Combine the milk and cream, pour half into a small sauce pot, add garlic, parmesan and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute, take off heat and blend until smooth. I used an immersion blender for this step, right in the pan, you could just whisk it or get your blender out, do what works for you. In a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolk, whole egg and the remaining cold cream/milk mixture.hotcold Carefully whisk the hot into the cold, very slowly drizzle the hot mixture from the sauce pot into cold mixture in the mixing bowl, whisking vigorously so you don’t scramble your eggs. When both are combined pour into two 1 cup custard gratins or one 2 cup gratin, what ever you have will work. Ready a bain-marie aka water bath for baking, get some water boiling. Set a kitchen towel in a large baking casserole, place filled gratins in casserole and fill with boiling water about half way up the gratins like this.bainmarieThe kitchen towel prevents the gratins from vibrating and causing bubbles in the custard. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until custard has set, edges should be firm and the middle a bit wobbly. bakecustardLet the custards cool in the bain-marie, they will continue to set up. At this point you can keep these covered in fridge for a day or two.

On to the next step, here is what you will need.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

16 asparagus spears, the thickness of a pencil, woody bottoms discarded

maldon salt

10 to 12 small tender basil leaves

1/2 a lemon (optional)

6-8 this slices of prosciutto

grilled rustic bread or baguette

parmesan custard

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan, get it smoking hot, add asparagus and quickly toss to sear on all sides, sprinkle with maldon salt. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, make sure not to over cook the asparagus, you want it to have a little crunch left in it.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny – check out my cool tattoo designed by my amazingly talented husband

Add basil leaves, making sure they get some time in the oil to crisp up.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

When the basil has crisped up a bit, rest on top of the asparagus so it doesn’t wilt away to nothing.  Slice up the bread of your choice and either grill or toast it.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Now its time to assemble this lovely little snack. I like the custard to be more room temp then super cold. Spread a spoonful of custard on your grilled bread, top with asparagus, prosciutto and basil.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Enjoy! All these elements together make for an amazing bite. The custard is so rich and decadent. The cheesy garlicky flavor is addictive, I will admit to snagging spoonfuls from the fridge several times a day while researching this post. Its all April’s fault! Thanks to Jenny for the food porn pics and thanks to April for introducing me to a new love, Parmesan Custard. 

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Juniper Berries

Recipe 4 of 103   All photos by Jenny 🙂
BrusSprt26z

How about some veggies after all that amazing duckiness? Brussels Sprouts…do you love or hate? I LOVE them! If cooked well, they are amazing. I see them on menus all over in various preparations, grilled, shredded, cold or hot, these little morsels are all the rage.

April does them very well. Here is what you will need to rock them like she does.BrusSprt05e

serves 4-5

1 pound medium brussels sprouts

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 large cloves garlic, halved lengthwise

2 ounces pancetta, sliced thin about 6 slices

1 teaspoon maldon sea salt. invest in this salt, its lovely

3-4 dried pequin chilies, chopped fine or fresh red pepper flakes

2 juniper berries, smashed and finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1/2 lemon

Start by cutting the bottom off the brussels sprouts, then cut in half.

Slice the pancetta, peel and slice the garlic. Crush and chop the chilies, thyme and juniper berries. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, add the garlic quickly tossing for about 30 seconds until garlic is browned, but not burnt.BrusSprt06fRemove garlic and reserve, add pancetta. Cook in the garlic infused oil until its crispy. reserve for later.BrusSprt11kIn the same pan while still very hot, add the brussels sprouts cut side down. Let them get a good sear, then turn them over. Medium heat turning and tossing them carefully every now and then until done about 8 to 10 minutes.
BrusSprt08hBrusSprt13m

When they’ve cooked to your liking, soft or a bit crunchy, turn off the heat. Add the salt, big flaky beautiful maldon salt.BrusSprt14nas well as the pequin chilies, juniper berries, thyme and a big squeeze of lemon. BrusSprt15oToss in the pancetta and garlic and serve right away.BrusSprt17q Taste and enjoy…….so good. The juniper berries add a floral spice that knocks you out. The pequin chilies are darling little gems, not too spicy at all. I urge you to seek them out, I found them at my local mexican market. Buy good pancetta at an Italian deli or a good fresh market, don’t get that crap that looks like spam…cause it taste like spam! I call it spamcetta, its gross…trust me. Make these right now, you will not regret it. The food porn pics are courtesy of my Jennay – of Absolutely Photography. Thanks for being my visual director so I can just get my cook on.

Cheers!

Duck Confit

Recipe 3 of 103

Duck Confit was a revelation for me while in culinary school.  First how easy it was to make and second how good it was fresh out of the duck fat. It’s rich, tender, crunchy, salty and delicious. Confit is something cooked in its own fat, duck legs cooked in duck fat, pork butt cooked pork fat aka carnitas – you get the idea right? Making it, is fairly easy and inexspensive. Duck leg/thighs are about $6 a pound (1 pound would be 2 leg/thighs) currently at whole paycheck, they are organic and air chilled, try to buy the best you can. They will have duck fat at most of their bigger stores too – if you didn’t already get some or buy on line. Like I said in the last post it will change your life. April’s recipe is encouraged in the book to go with her cassoulet. You cannot have cassoulet with out duck confit. Since I just did cassoulet for my birthday last month, I’m going to wait until much later in the year to show you guys her cassoulet. Which means I will be making duck confit again….yippee! Her duck confit is different from mine, I like her cooking method a lot. She serves the leg/thighs intact with super crispy skin, I prefer to pull the meat and crisp it up shredded.

Here is what you will needconfitstuff

2 duck leg/thighs with plenty of fatty skin

3 cups rendered duck fat:)

12 black peppercorns

12 juniper berries

4 dried pequin chilies

1/2 cinnamon stick

1 sprig of thyme, leaves only

4 cloves of garlic peeled

1/2 cup kosher salt

Place the peppercorns, juniper berries, chilies and cinnamon in a mortar. crushCrush them with the pestle to a corse consistency.crush2Add the thyme leaves and the garlic and crush into a pastecrush3Add the salt and mix well. Put the duck on a plate and sprinkle with the spice/salt mixture, covering all sides and pat into legs gently.marinateCover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours up to 48 hours. I buy duck leg/thighs in bulk so I made a ton.marinate2These have been marinating for 48 hours. April does hers for 24 hours, I pushed it to 48, mostly because I couldn’t cook them the next day so they carried on for one more day in the fridge, not a big deal. Next rinse off all of the spice mixture and pat each leg dry.

Assemble them all in a single layer in the pan.ready4fatAdd the rendered duck fat so it just covers the duck legs.simmerApril is very casual about this next part, which I really enjoyed. In school we had to check the temp on the fat every 15 minutes to make sure the fat stayed at 200 F, we cooked it for 3 to 4 hours. April says keep it at a low simmer so you see a bubble here and there and cook for 2 1/2 hours or until the meat comes away from the bone with a twist of a fork. Her method does allow for the leg and thigh to stay a bit more intact, which is better for service as a whole piece. The meat is just as tender as the longer method I was taught in school. Both methods work great, choose the one that fits your final outcome for service. Your house will smell amazing, like Thanksgiving Day, seriously it does. When your legs are done, remove from the fat and drain on a cooling rack if you’re going to shred them. If you’re keeping them intact let them cool completely in the fat, store them this way for up to several weeks. To serve the legs whole and crispy, heat a small amount of duck fat in a saute pan and fry the legs skin side down until the skin is super crispy.duck2I shredded mine. I freeze it in 2 portion servings, wrapped in foil then plastic. Thats why I make a ton at a time:) It’s always there for me, I love it. shredLooks like carnitas, right? So good!!!! To crisp up the shredded duck confit, same as the intact legs, small amount of duck fat in saute pan.crispyI made a couple of salads, I love duck confit in a salad.spinachSpinach, Dried Cherries, Stilton Cheese and Crispy Duck Confit with a Vanilla Bean & Roasted Shallot Dressing.eggonitThe most over used culinary trend right now. Put an EGG on it! I call this the Breakfast Salad. Sliced romaine tossed with caramelized tangy onion dressing, slices of duck fat fried potatoes, pancetta chunks, poached egg and you guessed it…duck confit!

Thanks for reading, I promise I will shut up about duck for a while.

Cheers!

Duck Fat Potatoes

Recipe 2 of 103

Duck fat is like pure gold…really….trust me. Potatoes cooked in duck fat are golden and crispy with soft creamy centers..to die for.
crunch2Nutritionally duck fat is similar to olive oil , it is low in saturated fat, with a good combination of poly and monounsaturated fats. Duck fat has a high smoke point and can be re used over and over again. Dare I say it…better than butter?!?! Buy some, you will not regret it. I hoard it and use it often, you will too.

What you will need to enjoy the awesomeness of potatoes fried in duck fat.

2 1/2 pounds large russet baking potatoes  (2 large halved lengthwise or 4 small, peeled and rinsed)

Kosher salt

2 cups rendered duck fat, gently warmed until liquid

Maldon or another flaky sea salt

Peel and rinse potatoes. Place potatoes in a pot filled with cold water so they’re covered by an inch or two of water. Add kosher salt so the water tastes a bit less salty than the ocean.Potatoboil Bring to a boil over high heat, than lower heat to keep a vigorous simmer. Cook the potatoes until you can insert a butter knife without to much resistance. April says “don’t get too poke-happy or they’ll get waterlogged” do what she says. This should take about 15 minutes. Drain in colander and let rest so the steam can escape.coolpotatoPreheat oven to 450 F. While the potatoes release their steam, heat your duck fat gently in an oven proof pan, cast iron dutch oven or a saute pan with straight high edges will work nicely. Heat duck fat on high heat, let the fat simmer for about 5 minutes. Test with a piece of potato to make sure fat is hot enough, the potato should sizzle and crackle and continue to bubble. If the fat isn’t hot enough the potatoes will stick.fry1Carefully add all the potatoes to the fat, let them brown on all sides this should take about 10-15 minutes.fry2 When each one has a light golden crust on all sides, carefully place pan in oven and roast  for 10-15 minutes, turning them over once in that time. They should come out looking like this.fry3Remove from hot fat with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, immediately sprinkle with sea salt and let cool a bit. Serve at once or just stand over the plate and eat them all like we did with a garlic aioli and chopped green onions.donepotatoWe being Jenny and I and yes we macked out, they were heavenly. Photo credit to Jenny from Absolutely Photography, sad part is I did the photo editing….its been so long since my photoshop days, apologies to my Jennay. Cool your duck fat to warm and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Place in clean container, keeps in fridge for a week or freeze for up to 6 months. Don’t freeze this batch just yet….Duck Confit is next and it will change your life.

Fennel-Lemon Marmalade

Recipe 1 of 103

James brought these home for me…Meyer Lemons…lots of them. mlemonsI thought to myself…what to do with all these beautiful fragrant luscious lemons. At the time I was reading a girl and her pig, I received the book and the lemons on the same day. These two simple happenings brought me to this project.

Fennel Lemon Marmalade

What you will need.

7 to 8 large thick skinned lemons – wash well

5 1/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons fennel pollen (find on line or at whole paycheck aka whole foods)

Assemble your clean lemons in a large pot of water, enough water to cover them while they bob around. Cover the lemons with a plate to keep the submerged. I used my deviled egg plate, worked perfectly. boilemon2

Boil for about an hour, you want them soft but not bursting. Check water as the hour goes to see if it needs replenishing. With a blunt knife, check to see if you can easily pierce them, if so they’re good to go. Reserve 1 1/4 cup of the water. Take them out and let them cool until you can handle them comfortably. Cut them in half, they should look like this. Sorry this photo is blurry.pulp2Scoop out all the flesh into a bowl. pulpCut the rinds into flat pieces and scrape off the white pith.pith2This is the point where I realized the thick skinned lemons would be much easier to work with. The meyer lemon skin is so thin and dainty, it really was like doing surgery, trying not to rip the rind to shreds. More on the final result with meyer lemons later. This step takes awhile be patient – make sure to remove the pith…… pith = bitter. Here is an after shotpith3Julienne the rinds thinly like thisjuliennePlace your expertly sliced rinds in a pale pink Le Creuset ( jk, I know not everyone is lucky enough to own this beautiful piece of cookware, I still squeal with girly glee every time I use it, thanks Jennay ) or a 4 qt sauce pot with reserved water from the boiling of the lemons. Grab a chinois/strainer, you will need a medium mesh chinois/strainer, do not use a fine mesh, you won’t get enough of the pulp through. strainPush the pulp against the side of the chinois to get as much pulp through as possible. You want very little left in the strainer, like this.strain2The sauce pot should have the lemon rinds, reserved lemon water from boiling 1 1/4 cups and all the pulp you could muscle through your chinois. Stir in 5 1/2 cups of sugar (if using   meyer lemons do 5 cups of sugar) over a high heat, when the mixture begins to simmer, set your heat for a low simmer and cook for 1-2 hours, the mixture will darken as it cooks. Starting out like thiscolor1its getting close to donecolor2

to test if the mixture is done, spoon a small amount on to a plate, let it cool. If its sticky and gel like its done, if its loose and runny keep cooking a bit longer.testwhen you nail the consistency, stir in the fennel pollen and let cool. At this point you could process them in jars and they’d keep for up to a year. If you’re going that route I would double the recipe.color3

This recipe will yield about 5 cups. It will keep in the fridge for a month. Slather all over toast and or scones. Add it to your next cheese plate instead of fig jam. The longer it sits the more bloomy it becomes and you can really taste the fennel pollen. I used it as a layer in some shortcakes with fresh strawberries on top. OMG it was so good. I have gifted a few friends with this lovely marmalade, hopefully they’ll comment and share their thoughts on it. This was my first adventure into Marmalade, there are several different methods on making it, I found April’s easy and the outcome was divine. I’ve made it with both meyer lemons and regular thick skinned lemons. The flavor is much sweeter and mild with meyer lemons, both were great tasting, if you want more of a tart twang use the regular lemons.

Try it and let me what you think.