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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.

1 comment:

Debra Eliotseats said...

I am pinning this. Sausage recipe? Check. Creme fraiche alternative? Check. This may be the most complete recipe post of all time!!!!!