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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cottage Pie, Spinach and Caramelized Onion Quiche and Sausages

We are so incredibly lucky to have our grandkids about three hours away.  It's possible to head over to Columbus for just a day or a whole weekend.  And, vice versa.  The kids can come over here for just a day or for a weekend.  Well, maybe weekends at Grammie and Grampy's will wait a bit until Bradley and Rosie are just a bit older and a bit less likely to pick all the breakables...  At any rate, we headed to Columbus to celebrate Bradley's birthday.  Six years old.  Big, Big, Big!  Bradley loves the color orange.  I was determined to create a dinner with as much orange as possible. 

As luck would have it, I'd purchased the Hoosier Mama Book of Pie at the Indiana History Center gift shop.  I'd read it cover to cover and had a huge list of recipes I wanted to try.  Cottage pie would be perfect.  My intent was to sprinkle the top with cheddar cheese.  Camille suggested that I mix it into the garlic mashed potatoes and create truly orange potatoes.  Brilliant.  Then, there was the persimmon pie.  Persimmons are orange.  I had a whole bag of them in the freezer from last fall's crop.  We had dinner. 

Breakfast would be the sausages from Carnivore that David loved so much last time.  Ah, wait.  Hoosier Mama had a sweet Italian sausage recipe.  We'd have a taste test.  Epicurious provided Hannah's pancakes.  And, Hoosier Mama provided a recipe for quiche.  Caramelized onion and spinach quiche.

In between cooking and eating we got to go watch Bradley play soccer.  It's three on three without a goalie.  He scored six goals.  Way to go!!!

What did we think of all the recipes?  Here goes:

Sweet Italian sausage.  It was really close but Hoosier Mama's edged out Michael Symon's by a smidge.  The deciding factor was a bit too much salt in the MS recipe.
Spinach and gruyere quiche.  May have been the best quiche I've ever had.  Just wish I'd made a homemade crust to go with it!  I did make the homemade crème fraiche.
Hannah's pancakes. YUMMM!  Not so great warmed up the next day.
Cottage pie.   Everyone had seconds.  Need I say more?
Cheddar garlic mashed potatoes.  I love mashed potatoes to start with.  These are absolutely incredible.  Making homemade crème fraiche made the difference.
Persimmon pie.  We all loved it.  I found it a bit spicier than my Grammie's recipe for persimmon pudding.  The kids had so much fun with the whipped cream that I tinted orange...

Connie and I would both choose pie over any other dessert.  I'll take the Hoosier Mama Book of Pie over any other pie cookbook I've ever seen.  The flavors of the dishes were perfect.  The directions were clear and easily followed. 

Sweet Italian Sausage


1 T fennel seeds
1 1/2 t whole coriander seeds
1 lb ground pork (70% shoulder, 30% fat)
2 t chopped fresh oregano
2 t chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 t Kosher salt
1 1/2 t hot giardiniera relish
1 t freshly ground black pepper
3/4 t sugar
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t red wine vinegar


Toast then grind the fennel and coriander seeds.  Mix all of the ingredients with the exception of the red wine vinegar.  The recipe calls for using the paddle attachment on a mixer.  I prefer to use my hands so I can tell more easily when the sausage feels right.  Once all of the ingredients have been incorporated, add the red wine vinegar.  Mix for about another minute.  Test for seasoning by browning a small taste.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.  Wrap in parchment paper followed by plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.  Either brown patties or crumble and brown

Crème Fraiche


2 c heavy cream
2 T buttermilk


Pour the ingredients into a glass canning jar or another non-reactive container.  Mix well.  Cover with a cloth and leave on the counter for twelve hours.  The mixture will thicken.  You can store the mixture in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.  This can be used in most recipes calling for sour cream. 

Spinach and Caramelized Onion Quiche with Gruyere


for the base (this makes the base for two quiches):

1 1/2 c whole milk
1 c crème fraiche
1/2 c heavy cream
9 large eggs
1 t kosher salt
1 t freshly ground pepper
1/4 t ground cayenne pepper

for the caramelized onions:


1 medium yellow onion
1 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 t olive oil


Peel and slice the onions.  Use a heavy pan to caramelize them.  Melt the butter and add the olive oil and onion.  Cook the onions covered for 15 to 20 minutes using medium low heat.  They will be soft and translucent.  Remove the cover and increase the heat to medium.  The rest of the cooking process will take about an hour.  Be sure to add some water or more olive oil or turn the heat down if the onions get dry or are cooking too quickly.  You want the end result to be dark mahogany caramelized onions. 

for the quiche:

1 9" pie crust
1 egg white, beaten
3 oz baby spinach
1/4 caramelized onions
3 oz Gruyere, shredded


Blind bake the pie crust in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.  To blind bake, place a coffee filter in the bottom of the pie crust.  Fill the filter with dry beans.  Remove the pie crust from the oven and lightly brush the bottom with the egg white.  Layer in the spinach, onions and Gruyere.  Pour in half of the quiche base.  Bake 45-55 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Make sure you cool the quiche for 15 minutes prior to serving it. 

Cottage Pie

for the Cheddar Garlic Mashed Potatoes
makes 14 cups (I cut this in half)


8 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 1/2" cubes
1 c crème fraiche
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/4 - 1 c whole milk
1/2 c - 1 c roasted garlic
1 c grated extra sharp Cheddar cheese


Cook the potatoes in a large saucepan or pot over medium high heat for about 15-20 minutes or until they're tender.  Drain them.  Mash them with a potato masher and add in the crème fraiche and butter as you mash.  If they're too thick for your taste, thin them a bit with milk.  Stir in the garlic and Cheddar cheese. 

for the filling:


10 T unsalted butter, divided
2/3 c peeled and chopped carrots
2/3 c chopped celery
2/3 c chopped onion
2/3 c chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs lean ground beef
1/2 t ground cayenne
2 1/2 c homemade beef stock
1 c frozen peas
2 1/2 T Worcestershire sauce


In a large skillet, melt two tablespoons of the butter.  Add the vegetables and sauté until they're softened.  Remove them to a bowl and put the ground beef into the skillet.  Brown it and drain it.  Remove it to the same bowl.  Melt the balance of the butter.  Add the flour and stir.  Cook for about ten minutes until the roux is thickened and slightly browned.  Slowly stir in the beef stock.  Once the sauce is thick, add back in the vegetables and beef.  Stir in the peas and Worcestershire sauce.  Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish or 9x 13 glass baking dish.  Top with the cheddar garlic mashed potatoes and drizzle with 2 T of melted butter.  Sprinkle with a bit of paprika or cayenne pepper to add color.  Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Nutella Liqueur

Tax season is finally over.  Never thought it would end.  I've felt like Lucy in the chocolate factory.  Except the chocolates are to-do's following me around on my calendar.  I could only wish they were big, wonderful dark chocolate center and dark chocolate exterior truffles....

In the midst of the chaos came the email from Secret Recipe Club.  You've been assigned Manus Menus.  Cool, I'd find something easy to do.  Then, I fell in love with her pasta al forno recipe.  I must've looked at it a dozen times. The problem was that I really didn't have time to make it.  Alas, it's for a couple of weeks from now.  I can taste it right now.  Cheese, tomatoes, pasta.  MMMMM.  On I went looking for something else.  Margarita chicken wings.  Now, do those sound yummy or what???  How about a watermelon margarita?  Or fish fillets with Tahitian vanilla sauce.  Caramelized red onion and taleggio pastries.  Lamb gozleme - kind of like lamb in pita.  Tarts with cotechino - a homemade sausage.  Back through I went, looking for something quick and easy that'd work with my ingredients and time.  Ah, ha!  Nutella liqueur.

Into the pantry to dig out the Nutella.  On to the kitchen.  Where the jar of Speculoos butter from Trader Joe's was sitting.   Ok, what if we had a liqueur off?  Yup, great idea on my part.  Now, I have not one but TWO killer liqueur recipes.  We've made a lot of infused vodka recipes.  But, I've not tried liqueurs.  Now, I'll try more :-)

I might note, this is one of the few times I've left a SRC blog open the whole time I've been assigned it.  There are just a ton of recipes there I'd like to try...

What did we think of the liqueurs?  Connie preferred the Nutella.  I preferred the Speculoos.  Both were VERY good.  Here's how you make them:

Nutella or Speculoos Liqueur


3/4 c Nutella (at room temperature)

1/2 c sugar
1 1/4 c heavy whipping cream
2 c vodka


In a heavy saucepan, melt the Nutella and the sugar. 

Slowly whisk in the whipping cream then allow it to simmer for a few minutes. 

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool. 

Whisk in the vodka.  Store in the refrigerator and use within three weeks.

" title="click to view in an external page.">An InLinkz Link-up


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Maple Mustard Porter Ribs with Grilled Fingerling Potatoes and Tarragon Lime Carrots

I'm feeling like I should rename this blog KateMightCook.   Feels like forever since I really dug into the kitchen and prepared a meal.  Sunday morning we finally got our hair cut.  We were both on the verge of having to buy rollers.  Connie had a fro when he was a teenager. Me, I had LONG straight hair.  It won't accept a perm and has a bountiful number of cowlicks.  Much better short at my age.  Then, we delivered a carload of stuff to the Fairview rummage sale.  The service was about ready to start so we got to sneak in the sanctuary and say hi to Mom and the rest of the MOPS crew.  Finally, we were off to the office.  Saturday our broker/dealer's website was down.  All day.  Connie needed it to prep for my appointments next week.  We were WAY behind.  So, we dug in and worked on reviews.  And worked.  And worked.  Finally, about 4:00 I said if we were going to eat the ribs before 9:00 we'd better go home.

Over the last few weeks I've bought a few new cookbooks.  Cooking with Beer, Adventures in Grilling and Simple Fresh Southern.  The first two I could pretty much make everything in.  The last, not so much.  My menu was Maple Mustard Porter Ribs from Cooking with Beer, Grilled Fingerling Potatoes from Adventures in Cooking and Braised Carrots with Tarragon and Lime from Simple Fresh Southern.

What did we think?  I think I could eat a whole rack of the ribs by myself.  They were that good.  You need to make sure the sauce has an opportunity to caramelize on the ribs.  It's just about perfect.  No, actually it is perfect.  I wouldn't change a thing.  The potatoes were very good.  A four on a scale of one to five.  They didn't get grill marks but they tasted wonderful.  The carrots were also very good.  I used a bit too much lime juice but they hit the spot.  And, the best news is that we had enough leftover for Monday night's dinner!  Now, I might note that the leftovers weren't quite as good...

Maple Mustard Porter Ribs

1 c porter (we used Guiness stout)
1/2 c maple syrup
3 T Worcestershire sauce (ok, I confess, I totally missed this)
2 T spicy brown mustard
1/4 t crushed red pepper
2 lbs pork baby back ribs
salt and pepper


Combine the beer, maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and crushed red pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring it to a strong simmer and cook until it's reduced to 3/4 cup.

We used our Big Green Egg so did not follow the original recipe from here on out.  The original calls for covering a half sheet with foil, putting the ribs on the half sheet, slathering them with sauce, wrapping more foil over them and baking them at 350 for 50 minutes. Then, it has you broil the ribs with the meaty side up, slathering them with the sauce.  Instead, we grilled them.  I started them meaty side down, flipped them and flipped them again.  Each time I slathered them with sauce. 

adapted from Cooking with Beer

Grilled Fingerling Potatoes


3 lb fingerling potatoes (small red skins will work)
1/2 c plus 2 T white wine
olive oil
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 T whole grain mustard
2 T minced flat leaf parsley
1 T minced fresh tarragon
salt and freshly ground pepper


Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise.  Cook them over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  You should be able to easily pierce them with a fork or knife, but they should not be fully cooked.  Drain them and toss them with the 1/2 c wine. 

Heat your grill.  Allow the potatoes to come to room temperature.  Meanwhile, mix the dressing ingredients:  mayonnaise, mustard, parsley and tarragon. 

Brush the  potatoes with olive oil.  Grill about 5 minutes per side.  I used a grill basket so didn't get great grill marks.  You'll do better if you grill directly on the grate.  Remove the potatoes from the grill and toss them with the dressing. 

You can serve them hot or cold.  Both are delicious!

adapted from Adventures in Grilling

Braised Carrots with Tarragon and Lime


1 T olive oil
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 t kosher salt
2 lbs carrots, cut into 2-3" lengths, 1/3" in diameter
1/2 c white wine (preferably Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
leaves from three sprigs fresh tarragon
grated zest and juice of 1/2 lime


In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.  When it is shimmering, add the onions.  Cover the bottom of the pan with the onions to give them as much surface area as possible to caramelize a bit.  Sprinkle on about 1/4 t of salt.  Once the onions are lightly caramelized, remove them from the heat and transfer them to a dish.  Put the carrots and wine in the pan along with 1/4 t of salt and the pepper.  Cover the skillet and simmer the carrots for about six minutes or until they're tender.  Remove the lid and add the tarragon.  Cook the carrots until the liquid has almost evaporated.  Add in the onions, lime juice and salt and pepper.  Toss and serve.