Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Smoked Sausage with New Potatoes and Thyme

When you have a food blog, most people assume everything you eat is gourmet. Nothing could be further from the truth . . . at least, in my case. I eat at Mickey D's often--but selectively. And, here in the South, I love Bojangles, a fried-chicken chain which often puts KFC out of business if it is near-by.

When I began teaching in the late 1970s, I lived on Swanson's Frozen TV Dinners. They were prepared in tin-foil trays for easy oven baking and clean up. The main compartment contained the meat, and the two smaller ones a vegetable and a dessert. Fried chicken was my favorite.

Microwaves were then still new. And expensive. That's when I began to learn to cook on my own ....

Today, with microwaves in every kitchen, it is easier than ever to find a decent-tasting frozen entree. Since my mother died, my father has discovered the frozen food section of the grocery store. For anyone in their 80s, how convenient to have a good, hot meal that actually tastes good in a matter of minutes! He loves Stouffer's. And so do I.

But, I digress ....

One can only live on "fast" food for a limited time. And then I want "real" food. LOL.

Last week I worked a 40-hour week in my "part-time job." By week's end, I wanted a "real meal." For me, a "real meal" is more about what you don't do than you do ... no microwaving. No take out. And a real veggie. Comfort food.

Since I work in a grocery store, I get first access to items marked down or I'm privy to what will eventually go on sale. This week it was sausages. I grabbed a package of all-beef Kielbasa. A can of sliced, new potatoes. And a can of sliced beets. From those ingredients, I put together a meal I savored. Along with a good, cold Stella Artois (well, actually two --- it gets hot here in the South!).

This is basically an "open-and-dump" recipe. But it's packed full of flavor. Warm. Filling. 

(One odd thing I noticed right away: the size of the sausage. I checked the packaging and it's no longer a 16-oz. package. It has diminished to 13 oz. but for the same price. Some brands have gone quite savvy. Instead of offering one single link, they package two to make it look like more.)

I've also made this with smoked turkey sausage and it's just as good. (Smoked sausages are already cooked. Don't use raw sausages.)

  • 1, 13-oz. package smoked sausage, (kielbasa, turkey, etc.)
  • 1, 14.5 oz. can sliced new potatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup sliced yellow onion
  • 2 small-medium cloves sliced garlic
  • Fresh thyme stems, 2-3
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Smoked paprika (optional)
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • 1, 14.5 oz. can sliced beets
  • 1 orange, washed

Slice the sausage on the diagonal. To a frying pan, add a drizzle or two of olive oil. When hot, add your onions and sautee just until they begin to brown. Add the sliced garlic and the sausage. Cook several minutes over med-low heat until warmed through. Add the undrained can of sliced new potatoes. Mix through. Pepper to taste.

Simmer on low until liquid begins to thicken and coat the sausage mixture. OR you can dust with a bit of Wondra flour or cake flour to hasten the process OR smash a few of the sliced potatoes to thicken thte sauce. A few minutes before pulling from the heat, add the whole sprigs of thyme and mix through. Allow to rest five minutes or so to allow the thyme to just fragrance the dish.

In the meantime, drain your sliced beets. Arrange on each plate and, if desired, give a grate or two of fresh orange zest.

Plate. If desired, give a slight dusting of smoked paprika and a dollop of sour cream on the side.

Notes: While I have not done it, I reckon one could sub a can of white beans for the potatoes.
I use Del Monte-brand sliced new potatoes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chef Gordon Ramsay's Scrambled Eggs

I like Gordon Ramsay. Yes, he can be a bit intense and just plain mean. But, then, I figure those to whom he's "mean" are those who volunteered for his services and knew full well what they were getting themselves into.

For the past several days I've been watching his "The F Word" series shot in England. I can't get enough. What I'm enjoying most about the series is seeing the real side of Chef Gordon Ramsey. He is devoted to his children and his passion for well-prepared food spills over from his restaurant as he endeavors to educate Great Britain about its indigenous foods and to get women and families back into the kitchen.

I saw him make these eggs a year or so ago. And then Frankie over at Frankie Cooks made a similar version (both videos follow this post), but he did in a frying pan.

I skipped the cream in the original recipe, but a bit of Boursin cheese added at the end would be delightful.

These are wonderfully light and custardy. And, no, they are not raw. The addition of butter keeps them velvety and smooth. The traditional American version can be found here: Kitchen Bounty: Scrambled Eggs

I served them over my skillet bread recipe (I have a new version coming soon that uses semolina flour and powdered buttermilk)

  • 1 small saucepan
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 good tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chives (optional)

Crack the eggs into the cold saucepan. Add about half the butter. Turn heat to medium. Break yolks and begin stirring with a heat-proof spatula. After about two minutes, you should begin to see "curds" forming. The trick now is to take the pan off the stove and stir a bit using the residual heat from the pan. Continue stirring, scraping the bottom. When just about done, stir in the remaining butter. The mixture should be custardy and not soupy. The whole process should take about 4-5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Plate.

Scrambled eggs.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hard Boiled Eggs

Breakfast doesn't have to be boring. And with warmer weather, it's fun to to move it outside on a patio or deck.

Here, I've simply boiled two eggs. On each, I placed a bit of mayonnaise on the warm yolk, salt and pepper, and topped each with a halved grape tomato and a flurry of torn basil leaves and a few chives. A slice of avocado would do well, too, Next time, I'll add a bit of smoked paprika. Maybe a drop or two of hot sauce ... lots of possibilities.