Broccoli Bolognese with Orecchitte

  Serves 4

1 large head of broccoli (1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lb.), cut into florets. Stalk peeled and coarsely chopped. (I just bought a package of florets)

Kosher salt

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

4 garlic cloves, smashed

12 oz. fresh sweet Italian sausage (about 3 links) casings removed

Crushed red pepper flakes

16 oz. orecchiette

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 1/2 cups Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving if desired

Cook broccoli in a large pot of salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to a colander and let cool (save pot of water for cooking pasta). Chop broccoli into small pieces, set aside.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, shaking skillet occasionally, until it starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add sausage and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes and break meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally and continuing to break up sausage until it’s browned and cooked, 6-8 minutes.

Bring reserved pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until barely al dente, about 9 minutes (set a timer for 3 minutes less than the package instructions. It will cook more in the skillet.)

Meanwhile, ladle about 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid from pot into skillet with sausage and add blanched broccoli. Keep mixture at a low simmer, stirring often and mashing with spoon to break up sausage even more, until pasta is finished cooking.

Using a spider or slotted spoon transfer pasta to skillet, then ladle in 1/2 cup pasta water. Cook, stirring, until pasta absorbs most of the liquid and is just al dente, about 4 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted. Gradually add Parmesan, tossing constantly until you have a glossy, emulsified sauce.

Chicken Fricassee with Spring Vegetables

This recipe is from the March edition of Southern Living Magazine, and as with all other dishes prepared for this blog, it would not appear here if it wasn’t packed full of flavor and reasonably easy to make. (I have to confess that Sandy cut all the vegetables and prepared everything for me so that I just had to cook. Very wonderful indeed.) So…give it a chance. Although it calls for eight thighs, I cooked five, and kept the sauce and vegetables volume true to the recipe. I think it worked out for the better. Enjoy!

8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided

3/4 tsp. black pepper, divided

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 (8-oz.) pkg. cremini mushrooms, quartered

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices (about 2 cups)

1 cup coarsely chopped leek (from 1 medium leek)

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup heavy cream

8 oz. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)

Hot cooked egg noodles

Chopped fresh chives

  1. Pat chicken dry, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Place flour in a large ziplock plastic freezer bag; add chicken to bag. Seal bag, and toss to coat with flour. Heat oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Remove chicken from bag, reserving flour in bag. Shake excess flour mixture from chicken, and place, bone side up, in skillet. Cook chicken until deep golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a plate and keep warm.
  2. Add mushrooms to hot drippings in skillet; cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add carrots and leek; cook about 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved flour; cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add chicken stock and wine; cook, stirring often, until sauce thickens slightly, about 6 minutes. Stir in cream and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; add chicken, bone side down, nestling chicken into sauce mixture.
  3. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until sauce has thickened slightly and chicken is almost cooked through, about 15 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with asparagus, Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and asparagus is tender-crisp, about 10 minutes.
  4. Serve chicken, vegetables and sauce over hot cooked noodles, and garnish with chives.

Salmon and Belgian Endive Bundles

Once again I’ve turned to my favorite cookbook “The Silver Spoon” for today’s lunch. The sweetness that comes with cooked garlic and endive is a perfect match for salmon. I joke that Sandy is not a huge fan of salmon, so I try and hide it. She loved it! So once again, I’ve managed to find a recipe that is easy, yet presents itself as complicated. I served it with pan roasted cauliflower and a tossed salad.

Serves 4

5 Tbsp. olive oil

5 Tbsp. dry white wine (leaves plenty for the cook to drink!)

4 salmon steaks

1 head Belgian endive, cut into strips

1 garlic clove, chopped

14 ounces puff pastry dough, thawed if frozen

all-purpose flour, for dusting

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

salt and pepper

Combine 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and the wine in a dish, season with salt and pepper, and add the salmon, turning to coat. Let marinate for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the remaining olive oil in a pan, add the Belgian endive and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Divide the dough into four and roll each piece out on a lightly floured counter. Drain the salmon and place a steak on each piece of dough. Divide the Belgian endive among them, then fold the pastry over and press the edges to seal. Prick with a fork, place on a cookie sheet, and brush with the egg yolk. Bake for 30 minutes.

Shrimp and Grits

We bought this bag of Palmetto Farms Stone Ground Grits while we were in Savannah, and this afternoon I decided to give them a try. If you’ve read any of my other recipes, the one thing I value second behind a knock-out flavor, is the ease with which the dish is created. This meets all two of my requirements. The only thing I changed is the use of bacon. I gave up pork products a few months ago, so instead of the bacon, I cooked the bell pepper and onions in 4 Tbsp. of butter. Enjoy!

For Grits

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups milk

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup Palmetto Farm Grits

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

For Shrimp Topping

1 cup diced bacon

1/2 cup thinly sliced onion

2 tsp. hot pepper sauce

1 lb. medium peeled shrimp

1 cup thinly sliced green bell pepper

sliced green onions (scallions) for garnish

For Grits:

Bring chicken broth and milk to a boil. Stir in grits and salt and return to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cheese. Keep warm.

For Shrimp Topping:

Cook bacon in skillet till crisp. Remove bacon and all but 2 Tbsp. of fat. Add peppers and onions. Cook till tender. Add shrimp and cook till pink. Return bacon. Add hot pepper sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve shrimp mixture over warm grits. Garnish with green onions.

Orecchiette With Sweet Sausage And Escarole

So much flavor! This recipe from Food and Wine magazine takes some time and dedication in the kitchen, but the pay-off is huge. The only bit of advice I’ll offer is to make sure you rinse the escarole completely. Cut the ends off the heads and rinse.  After chopping into pieces, put in a bowl and rinse. You’ll find a lot of sand left behind in the water, and this is what you don’t want in your dinner. Outside of that….the layers of deliciousness are plenty. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 Lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

1 fennel bulb, minced

2 large yellow onions, finely chopped (4 cups)

4 garlic cloves – 2 smashed and 2 minced

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 cups dry red wine

One 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

2 heads of escarole (2 Lbs.) coarsely chopped (rinse, rinse, rinse)

1 cup dry white wine

crushed red pepper

1 Lb. dried orecchiette

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Add the sausage and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until browned, 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add the fennel, half of the onions and the smashed garlic to the casserole and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are golden and softened, about 10 minutes. Add the red wine, tomatoes and 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Return the sausage to the pot and cook over low heat until the sauce is thickened. 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. Add the remaining chopped onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and softened, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped escarole in batches, stirring until each batch is wilted before adding more. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and the minced garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the white wine and a pinch of crushed red pepper and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the escarole is tender, about 40 minutes. Stir the escarole mixture into the sausage ragu.
  3. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot and add the reserved water, 5 cups of ragu, the remaining 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and the 1 cup of grated cheese. Season with salt and black pepper and crushed red pepper and toss to coat. Serve with additional cheese. Reserve the remaining ragu for later use.

Chilled Corn Soup with Seared Scallops and Crisp Onions

Sandy outdid herself yesterday with this recipe, which comes from Sunset Magazine. She made the soup one day prior and put it in the fridge to chill, then right before the meal, made the crispy onions and seared scallops. The soup, which is well balanced with the addition of the vinegar, has a sweetness that compliments the saltiness of the onions and the light sear on the seafood. Wow…I was blown over and so was our guest!

Serves 6


1/2 tsp. cumin seeds

1 Tbsp. salted butter

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion

4 cups corn kernels (from 4 or 5 cobs)

About 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

About 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

About 2 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar


1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced into half-moons


6 dry-packed scallops (free of brine and preservatives, and brown better when you cook them)

1/4 tsp. each kosher salt and pepper

Ground black pepper

  1. Make soup: Toast cumin seeds in a medium-wide pot over medium-high heat until slightly darker and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Lower heat to medium and add butter. When better melts, stir in onion. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add corn, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 2 cups broth. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer until corn begins to soften and break down, about 15 minutes.
  2. Working in batches, whirl corn mixture in a blender, covering lid with a towel and holding it down, until very smooth. Add cream. Chill until cold, about 2 1/2 hours, or overnight.
  3. Stir 2 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar into soup. If soup is too thick, add a little more (chilled) broth until it’s as thin as you like. Taste, and season with more vinegar and salt if you like.
  4. Meanwhile, cook onions: Heat oil and ground cumin in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion slices and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown, 10 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat if they start to brown unevenly. Lift onions from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Reserve 1 Tbsp. oil for the scallops.
  5. Cook scallops: Lay scallops on a paper towel-lined plate and bring to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and let stand 5 minutes longer. While scallops rest, divide chilled soup among chilled bowls.
  6. Heat a large (not nonstick) frying pan over medium heat, When hot, swirl in reserved onion-cumin oil, then arrange scallops in a single layer in pan with ample space between them. Cook scallops without moving them until golden and crusty on the bottom, about 2 minutes; then turn them and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let scallops sit in pan 1 minute.
  7. Set a scallop (or two) in each bowl of chilled soup. Top with a small tangle of fried onion strings, and coarsely grind pepper over all.