Today's hearty recipe for Italian Sausage and Mushroom Breakfast Casserole comes from The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook by Alexe van Beuren and Dixie Grimes. Van Beuren's story of unexpected Main Street revival in her town of Water Valley, Mississippi, is captivating, and our cooking columnist calls Grimes' collection of Southern recipes, "Creative comfort at its best."
Italian Sausage and Mushroom Breakfast Casserole
Reasons to make a breakfast casserole: Your in-laws are in town, and you need to spend the early morning vacuuming. High school boys are spending the night, and it’s better to serve them something contained rather than getting roped into standing next to the stove for a solid hour making pancakes to order. Someone needs sustenance in the way of food and the whole neighborhood knows it, which means the recipients of largesse might have 18 lasagnas and nothing for breakfast.
This particular casserole is savory enough for dinner, but the eggs make it breakfasty. Teenage boy approved.
Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 × 13-inch baking dish with butter. In a skillet set over medium heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon, until browned throughout—10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Discard all but 1½ tablespoons of the grease in the pan. Add the fennel and mushrooms and cook, stirring, until the fennel is soft, 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, vermouth, oregano, nutmeg, salt and pepper. In the bottom of the prepared baking dish, spread half of the bread, and top with half of the cooked sausage, half of the fennel mixture, and half of the grated cheese; repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the plastic from the dish and bake until the casserole is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Excerpted from The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook by Alexe van Beuren and Dixie Grimes. Copyright © 2014 by Alexe van Beuren. Photographs by Ed Anderson. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter Publishers, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Read our review of this book.
Chocolate enthusiasts take note: Our cooking columnist describes Alice Medrich's cookbook, Seriously Bitter Sweet: The Ultimate Dessert Maker’s Guide to Chocolate, as "the perfect love letter to this dark, dense, divinely delicious delicacy." This recipe for Bittersweet Decadence Cookies yields soft, ultra-rich cookies and can be modified to use up to 72% chocolate.
Bittersweet Decadence Cookies
Makes 36 cookies
Ultra-chocolatey and richer than sin, slightly crunchy on the outside with a divinely soft center, these are not delicate or subtle, but the jolt of bittersweet is irresistible. I reorganized and revised the original recipe from one in a newspaper—to make the cookies more chocolatey and intense—by reducing the sugar and butter. Now I’ve revised it again so that I can make it with higher-percentage chocolates without compromising that perfect contrast of textures. For the best cookies of all, chop your own chocolate for the chunks, or use a premium brand of chocolate chunks rather than ordinary chocolate chips. You can choose a chocolate for the chunks that contrasts in sweetness with the chocolate in the cookie batter.
Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets (see Note) with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together thoroughly; set aside.
Place the 8 ounces (225 grams) of chocolate and the butter in a large stainless steel bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water and stir frequently just until melted and smooth. Remove the chocolate from the skillet and set it aside. Leave the heat on under the skillet.
In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together thoroughly. Set the bowl in the skillet and stir until the mixture is lukewarm to the touch. Stir the egg mixture into the warm (not hot) chocolate. Stir in the flour mixture, then the nuts and chocolate chunks.
Drop slightly rounded tablespoons of batter 1½ inches apart onto the lined cookie sheets. Bake until the surface of the cookies looks dry and set but the center is still gooey, 12 to 14 minutes. Slide the cookies, still on the parchment, onto racks, or set the pans on the racks. Let cool completely. Store in a tightly sealed container.
Note: I am fussy about cookie sheets. These cookies will have the best flavor and texture if they are baked on sheets lined with parchment paper, which insulates them just enough but still allows the cookies to be a little crusty on the outside and soft within. Cushioned pans and silicone liners make the texture of the cookies too uniform for my taste. Pans with dark surfaces (even if they are nonstick) tend to scorch rich chocolate cookie bottoms before the centers are cooked.
To use higher-percentage chocolate to make cookies that are increasingly bittersweet, without sacrificing the texture or the pretty gloss on the surface of the cookies, adjust the recipe as follows.
To use 61% to 64% chocolate:
Use 7 ounces (200 grams) chocolate. Increase the sugar to ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (110 grams).
To use 66% chocolate:
Use 6½ ounces (185 grams) chocolate. Increase the butter to 3 tablespoons (45 grams) and the sugar to ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams).
To use 70% to 72% chocolate:
Use 5½ ounces (155 grams) chocolate. Increase the butter to 3 tablespoons (45 grams) and the sugar to ¾ cup (150 grams).
For the chunks, use any chocolate you like, the same as or different from the batter. No alterations are necessary.
Popular nutritionist and Food Network host Ellie Krieger's latest cookbook, Weeknight Wonders, is perfect for health-conscious foodies with little free time to spend in the kitchen. This quick and easy shrimp recipe is packed with smoky Spanish flavor, and unlike most take-out, it's guilt-free!
Shrimp with Spinach, Garlic and Smoked Paprika
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
If you have yet to discover the glory of smoked paprika, this is your official invitation. Made from smoked red peppers, it is a key ingredient in Spanish cooking (where it is called pimentón). It imparts a deep ruby color and distinctive smoky flavor and aroma, instantly giving the simplest foods, like eggs, potatoes or grilled chicken, a huge wow factor. In this dish, it teams up with golden toasted garlic for doubly exciting seasoning for sautéed shrimp and spinach. You can buy smoked paprika in sweet or hot varieties, but I buy the sweet because I figure you can always add some heat if you want it—and I do add a touch here.
Rinse the shrimp and pat dry with a paper towel. Thinly slice the garlic. Coarsely chop the spinach.
Place the oil in a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden, about 5 minutes. Watch closely so the garlic does not burn. Transfer the garlic to a small dish using a slotted spoon, leaving the oil in the skillet.
Raise the heat to medium-high, add the shrimp, paprika, salt and cayenne to the skillet and cook until the shrimp turns pink and is nearly cooked through, about 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach, return the garlic to the pan, and cook until the shrimp is opaque throughout and the spinach is wilted, 1 to 2 minutes more.
SERVING SIZE 1 ¼ cups (6 or 7 shrimp)
CALORIES 260; Total Fat 13g (Sat Fat 2g, Mono Fat 7.8g, Poly Fat 2.1g); Protein 30g; Carb 6g; Fiber 2g; Cholesterol 215mg; Sodium 410mg
EXCELLENT SOURCE OF Iron, Phosphorus, Protein, Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12
GOOD SOURCE OF Calcium, Copper, Magnesium, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Zinc
In the spirit of Valentine's Day, we're sharing a recipe for a beautiful, rich and chocolately dessert that is so good, you won't even mind that it's not heart-shaped. This Warm Mocha Tart comes from Alice Medrich's swoon-worthy cookbook, Seriously Bitter Sweet: The Ultimate Dessert Maker's Guide to Chocolate, which has more than 150 decadent recipes. Who needs flowers?
Warm Mocha Tart
Serves 8 to 10
Two weeks of nonstop shortbread testing produced an unorthodox surprise: perfect shortbread made with melted butter. That shortbread became an exquisitely crunchy and flavorful base for lemon bars, a crust for cheesecake and, ultimately, my favorite sweet tart crust. I even bake brownie batter on top of it. This remarkable crust barely shrinks in the pan, so there is no need to weight or even prick it before baking. To ensure that the bottom remains crunchy, bake the crust fully, to a deep golden brown, before pouring in the filling.
At the same time I was playing with the new tart crust, I was experimenting with different cocoas, tasting and comparing natural and Dutch-process in all kinds of recipes. Voilà, rich warm cocoa custard in the simplest crust.
9½-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom
For the Crust
For the Filling
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. To make the tart crust: Mix the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add the flour and mix just until well blended. Don’t worry if the dough seems too soft. Press all of the dough very thinly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown.
4. Meanwhile, make the filling: Place the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and cream in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture is blended and smooth and begins to simmer around the edges. Remove from the heat and stir in the espresso powder and vanilla.
5. Just before the crust is ready, whisk the egg thoroughly into the hot chocolate mixture.
6. Pour the filling into the hot crust and turn off the oven. Leave the tart in the oven until it quivers like tender Jell-O in the center when the pan is nudged, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a rack.
7. Serve the tart warm or at room temperature.
Espresso Walnut Tart: The same tart in a walnut cookie crust produces a subtler but still delicious effect. You could also make it with toasted skinned hazelnuts—then I would omit the espresso powder.
Reduce the butter to 6 tablespoons (85 grams) and add 2 teaspoons brandy and 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (or a heaping teaspoon instant coffee powder or crystals) with the sugar, salt, and vanilla. In a food processor, pulverize ⅓ cup (35 grams) walnut pieces with ¾ cup (105 grams) flour until fine. Substitute this mixture for the flour. Proceed as directed.
Either natural or Dutch-process cocoa works well here. The former has a livelier, more complex, fruity flavor, while the latter has a cozy old-fashioned flavor reminiscent of chocolate pudding. You choose.
You may recognize Ellie Krieger from her popular Food Network show, Healthy Appetite. She's back with her fifth cookbook, Weeknight Wonders, and she's ready to further prove that quick and healthy aren't necessarily mutually exclusive terms in the world of food. A registered dietitian with an impressive Ivy-League education in nutrition, Krieger's collection includes 150 recipes that focus on "fresh, minimally processed, additive-free [and] low-fat" ingredients, and each can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. If you love the combination of sweet and savory as much as I do, then this chicken is a must-try.
Peach Chicken with Crispy Bread Crumbs
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
This dish has the savory, crispy-coated appeal of breaded chicken cutlets, minus the messy, unhealthy frying and with the added bonus of a sweet peach topping. The chicken is dipped in a homemade Italian dressing, then coated in freshly toasted seasoned bread crumbs, topped with the peaches and baked until delightfully browned and crisp but still lusciously moist from the fruit. Toss some asparagus with a little olive oil and salt and pop it in the oven for a few minutes before you put the chicken in for a roasted asparagus side, or try it with Asparagus “Pasta” (page 246) or Pan-Steamed Broccoli with Lemon, Garlic, and Parsley Gremolata (page 253).
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
If using fresh peaches, pit them and slice each one into 8 slices. Otherwise, thaw frozen peaches in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove.
Place the bread in the bowl of a food processor and process until fine crumbs form. Place them in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until they are crisp and toasted, 3 to 4 minutes.
Combine the bread crumbs, sesame seeds, ½ teaspoon of the paprika, and ¼ teaspoon each of the salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Mince the garlic and place it in a small bowl along with the oil, vinegar, oregano, sugar, onion powder, and remaining ¼ teaspoon each paprika, salt, and pepper. Whisk well to combine.
Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Dip the chicken in the vinaigrette, then press it into the bread crumb mixture and place it in the baking dish. Sprinkle any remaining bread crumbs into the pan, on and around the chicken, then drizzle the remaining vinaigrette on top to moisten the crumbs.
Distribute the peaches evenly across the top of the chicken and drizzle with any accumulated peach juices. Bake until the chicken is cooked through and begins to brown, 12 to 13 minutes.
SERVING SIZE: 1 chicken breast, ½ cup peaches, and ¼ cup additional crumb mixture
CALORIES: 480; Total Fat 20g (Sat Fat 3g, Mono Fat 12.2g, Poly Fat 3.0g); Protein 42g; Carb 32g; Fiber 5g; Cholesterol 110mg; Sodium 620mg
EXCELLENT SOURCE OF: Fiber, Magnesium, Manganese, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Protein, Selenium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K
GOOD SOURCE OF: Copper, Iron, Riboflavin, Thiamin, Vitamin A, Zinc
Take advantage of the hearty vegetables available all winter with this week's recipe from Sarah Copeland's Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite. Don't fret, meat-eaters, Copeland assures us that "this book is here to exalt vegetarianism in pursuit of the delicious, not the dogmatic," and her flavor combinations are top-notch, making these veggie-centric meals you can truly look forward to.
This is one of my absolute favorite salads in this book. Warm root vegetables, nutty farro, creamy yogurt, and toasty nuts flatter each other in this filling winter meal. Farro cooked like rice tastes almost buttery; toss with warm vegetables and it will satisfy to the very last grain.
Serves 2 to 4.
8 red or yellow baby beets, scrubbed and trimmed
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp/90 ml extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
6 young heirloom carrots or baby turnips, scrubbed, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 tbsp honey
1 sprig fresh thyme
8 oz/225 g farro
¼ cup/60 ml full-fat plain yogurt
Juice of ½ lime, plus more as needed
2 tbsp finely chopped assorted fresh herbs
1 tbsp hazelnut oil
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 heaping handfuls arugula or baby leaf lettuce
Small handful toasted hazelnuts
Flaked sea salt such as Maldon
3 oz/85 g aged Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/gas 6. Drizzle the beets with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and roast until they can easily be pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the foil.
Combine the carrots, honey, thyme and 1 cup/240 ml water in a medium skillet over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are fork-tender and the broth has reduced to a glaze, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Meanwhile, put the farro in a medium pot and add enough water to cover by about 2 in/5 cm. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to low heat and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel the skins with a paring knife and quarter. Slice the radishes as thinly as possible with a mandoline or a very sharp knife.
To make the dressing: Whisk together the yogurt, lime juice, herbs, hazelnut oil, olive oil, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper in a medium bowl. Taste with a leaf of arugula; adjust the salt, pepper or lime juice as needed.
Divide the farro among shallow bowls. Drain the carrots. Combine the beets, carrots and arugula in a large bowl; toss together; and arrange over the farro. Top with the radishes, drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with hazelnuts and flaky salt. Generously grate or shave Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top with a vegetable peeler. Serve warm.
The holidays may be over, but the cold weather is sticking around, so calories still aren't counting, right? In Wintersweet, Tammy Donroe Inman offers a collection of sweet treats focused on seasonal ingredients and rich flavors. Perfect for those "not into fussy holiday baking and elaborate concoctions," this book relies on simplicity, and the recipes are neatly arranged by ingredients so you can easily whip up something after a quick peek into your cabinets.
Inman's recipe for rice pudding adds some bright, fruity notes to a simple, yet always satisfying classic and can be tweaked to fit your mood.
Persimmon, Pistachio and Coconut Rice Pudding Parfaits
Back in culinary school, I had to submit an original dish to be critiqued by my instructors on originality, flavor and presentation. Here’s what I came up with: coconut rice pudding served in a papaya “boat” fitted with a triangular “sail” made from pistachio-coconut meringue. It tasted great—but it looked like something a preschooler might have made. In this new-and-improved version, I use raw persimmons instead of papayas, and no silly sails. Parfait glasses or jelly jars allow you to see the pretty layers. The result is whimsical and comforting. This rice pudding recipe makes double what you’ll need for the parfaits, but then you’ll have plenty left over.
Makes 6 Parfaits
5 cups (1.25 L) whole milk
13½ ounces (400 ml) coconut milk
1 cup (185 g) long-grain white rice (like basmati or jasmine)
1 cinnamon stick
2⁄3 cup (135 g) granulated sugar
6 ripe Fuyu persimmons or 3 very ripe Hachiyas or wild persimmons (about 1½ pounds, 680 g)
¼ cup (30 g) chopped, shelled, salted pistachios
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, coconut milk, rice and cinnamon stick over medium-high heat, stirring every few minutes to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 to 20 minutes more, or until the pudding is thickened but still creamy and pourable (think risotto). Remove the cinnamon stick. Let the pudding cool to room temperature.
When ready to serve, slice the Fuyu persimmons in half along their equators. With a paring knife, score the flesh on the cut-side all the way down to the skin in parallel lines about 1/2-inch (1-cm) apart. Do the same in the other direction, so you get perpendicular lines. Now you have little cubes you can spoon out of the skins when assembling the parfaits. (If using Hachiyas or wild persimmons, you can simply scoop out the soft, jelly-like flesh, removing any seeds.)
In small parfait glasses or jelly jars, alternate layers of rice pudding and persimmon, ending with a layer of rice pudding. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios on top. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Any leftover rice pudding can be eaten plain straight from the fridge.
Variation: Try this with pomegranate seeds or cubed kiwi, papaya or mango substituted for the persimmons.
Yesterday we told you about The Plum Tree, Ellen Marie Wiseman's poignant debut novel about love and survival in Germany during World War II. (I love all the family photos Wiseman shared with us, so check out the post if you haven't already!)
Now I'm back for more on this book, because the author offered to share her family's traditional German Stollen recipe—and naturally I jumped at the opportunity! Keep reading for more information about this bread, along with a recipe.
Note: I'm told that In The Plum Tree there is no Stollen, as the ingredients would have been to hard to come by during the war.
Stollen is a traditional German cake or yeast bread usually eaten during the Christmas season, when it’s called Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen. It can be filled with dried fruits, nuts, candied citrus, raisins, currants, cherries, rum, or a ribbon of marzipan. My recipe, handed down from my Oma, is for a rich yeast bread filled with candied fruit. Unlike most Stollen, which is folded over before baking, my mother and I form ours into thick braids, just like Oma used to.
—Ellen Marie Wiseman
Work in dried fruit and let rise again, about ½ hour. Separate dough into six pieces, shape into long, skinny loaves, then braid three together to make two Stollen.
Brush with egg yolk and decorate with almonds and cherries. Sprinkle with Hagel Zucker. Bake at 375 until brown, about 25-30 minutes. If using confectionary sugar, dust after baking.
Carnivores like me don't get all the fun with Rachael Ray's The Book of Burger! Vegans and vegetarians can chow down on mushroom burgers that look so good, I almost would be willing to give up on beef patties. Almost.
And to top it off, her condiments make the whole thing pop.
Make the portobellos: Brush the portobello caps with a damp towel to clean them. In a large plastic food storage bag, combine the EVOO, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary. Add the mushroom caps and slush around to coat with seasonings.
Heat a grill pan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Shake the marinade off the mushrooms and cook the caps, turning once, 10 to 12 minutes, or until well browned on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Top the caps with the mozzarella, remove the pan from the heat, and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes to melt the cheese.
Place the mushrooms on the roll bottoms and top with pesto, a mound of baby spinach, and a few slices of red onion. Set the roll tops in place.
We're pretty serious about our burgers here in Nashville, but wherever you live, I'm sure you've got a "best burger in town." Armed with Rachael Ray's The Book of Burger, the best could be found on your own grill!
Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt is a self-declared burgerholic, and she swears this cookbook is burger bliss with over 200 recipes.
I fell in love with this burger when I created it for the Brooklyn Block Party I threw one summer—and I’ve been in love with it ever since. It has my almost-famous smoky BBQ sauce and my sweet ’n’ spicy pickles, which I can eat on just about anything. I also served it up to more than three thousand people at the 2012 Burger Bash at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival!
Put the chile, cucumbers, onion, and dill in a small food storage container and sprinkle in the mustard seeds and coriander seeds. Pour the hot brine over the pickles.
Cool, cover, and chill overnight, shaking every once in a while.
When you are ready to make the sliders, make the slaw: In a bowl, combine the cabbage, onion, vinegar, and oil; season with celery salt and salt and pepper. Toss until the cabbage is coated.
Make the BBQ sauce: In a small saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients and cook over medium-low heat to thicken and combine flavors, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sliders: Heat a large cast-iron pan, griddle, or grill pan over medium-high to high heat. In a large bowl, combine the beef, Worcestershire sauce, marjoram, thyme, chile powder, and beer; season with grill seasoning or with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Divide into 4 equal portions, then form each portion into 3 equal patties thinner at the center than at the edges for even cooking and to ensure a flat surface (burgers plump as they cook). Drizzle the patties with oil. Cook the sliders for a few minutes on each side, or until done to your taste. Baste liberally with the barbecue sauce during the last minute of cooking.
Place the sliders on the roll bottoms and top with a little slaw and a slice of pickle. Set the roll tops in place. Pass the rest of the pickles at the table.