"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." ~ James Beard

November 14, 2011

Kate's Sausage with Smashed Potatoes and Cornichons



  1. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the sausages to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornichon brine, mustard, remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  6. Add the potatoes, cornichons, onion, and parsley to the bowl and mix, mashing gently. Cut the sausages into large pieces and serve with the potatoes.

Sausage Lasagna

Only a small amount of turkey sausage was needed to give big meat flavor to this lasagna. We kept a thick fluffy cheese layer by combining part-skim ricotta with low-fat cottage cheese and a lesser amount of part-skim mozzarella cheese. Fresh basil in the sauce and cheese filling keeps this tasting light and fresh.


1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus 2 whole sprigs
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) container 1 percent low-fat cottage cheese
1 (15-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 ounces lean sweet Italian-style turkey sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
9 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles, 5 1/2-ounces, (recommended: Barilla)
1 1/2 cups part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese, 6 ounces
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small pot bring the tomatoes, wine, whole basil sprigs, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste, to a simmer; cook until slightly thickened, 10 minutes; set aside.

2. Meanwhile, puree the cottage cheese in the bowl of a food processor until smooth. add the ricotta, spinach, 1/4 cup chopped basil, scallions, nutmeg, and salt and pepper and pulse until just combined; set aside.

3. Coat a large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray set over medium heat. Cook the sausage and onion, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into small pieces, until the meat is browned and the onion tender, 10 minutes.

4. Assemble the lasagna: Mist a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with 3 noodles, half the ricotta mixture, half the sausage and 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers with sauce, noodles, remaining ricotta and sausage and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Top with remaining noodles and sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the noodles are tender and the sauce is bubbling around the edges of the pan, 1 hour.

5. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and continue to bake until melted, 10 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup basil. Serve.

Chile Cheese Casserole

This breakfast dish was inspired by the Mexican dish, chilaquiles. By using baked tortilla chips, a mixture of eggs and egg whites and just a bit of sharp Cheddar and pepper jack, the fat is low while the flavor is high.


  • Cooking spray
  • 4 cups baked tortilla chips, 2 1/2 ounces
  • 6 egg whites
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (4-ounce) can mild chopped green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, about 2 ounces
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, about 2 ounces
  • 1/2 cup prepared green salsa verde
  • Reduced-fat sour cream, optional
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a rectangular 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Coarsely crush the chips by hand and spread half of them into the bottom of the baking dish.

Whisk the egg whites, eggs, milk, ancho powder, and pepper in a large bowl until well combined. Stir in the chopped chiles, chopped cilantro, and 1/4 cup each of the Cheddar and pepper jack cheeses; pour into the pan. Sprinkle the remaining chips over the egg mixture. Bake until the casserole is set around the edges but a little loose in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.

Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of each cheese and continue to bake until the cheeses are melted and the casserole is set in the center, about 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve with the salsa and, sour cream, if using. Garnish with whole cilantro leaves.

Green Beans with Bacon Vinaigrette



  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the green beans and cook until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool; transfer to a serving bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool, then break into pieces.
  3. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the skillet and return to medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar, mustard, oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add to the green beans, along with the bacon, and toss to combine.

Rachael's Herb Roasted Turkey Breast

Although sage is the herb most used with turkey, I love the flavor and aroma of fresh bay (laurel) leaves. Fresh bay leaves are now widely available in supermarkets. Since the leaves are a bit woody, and no fun to eat, I baste my turkey with bay-infused butter and roast the breasts right on top of the leaves, which perfumes the meat.


  • 1 small (golf-ball sized) onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 lemon, scrubbed clean
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • Large handful fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup, from 12 stems)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pan
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 boneless turkey breast halves, skin on (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds each)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup apple or regular brandy (recommended: Calvados)
  • 2 to 3 cups apple cider
  • Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a roasting pan and set it aside.

Put the onion into the bowl of a mini food processor. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from the lemon in thin strips, being careful not to cut into the bitter white pith. Add the lemon zest to the food processor and reserve the whole lemon for another use. Chop the onion and lemon zest until fine. Add the sage, parsley, olive oil, and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until it forms a coarse paste.

Put 2 of the bay leaves and the butter into a small pan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is bubbling. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the turkey breasts on a work surface. Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh from 1 end, being careful not to pull it completely off, creating a pocket. Season the turkey breasts generously with salt and pepper. Stuff half of the herb paste under the skin of each breast, and spread it evenly under the skin. Transfer the breasts to the roasting pan, and slide 2 bay leaves underneath each one. (The heat of the pan will release the bay leaf oils and flavor the breast.) Using a pastry brush, baste the breasts with half of the bay butter. Place the turkey in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 400 degrees F. After 20 minutes, baste the turkey breasts with the remaining butter, and roast for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through, and a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast registers 170 degrees F.

Remove from the oven, transfer to a platter, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving while you make the gravy.

Put the roasting pan over the burner on medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the pan juices, and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the apple brandy, and scrape the pan to lift the bits that are stuck to the bottom. Cook for a minute to burn off the alcohol, then, while stirring, pour in the apple cider. Bring to a simmer, and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the turkey breast on the diagonal, and serve with warm gravy.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Feta and Almonds



  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the bulgur according to the package directions; transfer to a medium bowl and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the almonds, scallion whites, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, place the mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet, rub with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Roast, stem-side up, until tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Dividing evenly, top the mushrooms with the bulgur mixture and sprinkle with the Feta. Roast until warmed through, 2 to 4 minutes more.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the greens and cucumber and toss to combine. Drizzle the mushrooms with olive oil, sprinkle with the scallion greens, and serve with the salad.

November 13, 2011

Sara's Rigatoni with Tomatoes, Raisins and Pine Nuts



  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, spread the pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast, tossing occasionally, until golden, 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, raisins, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Simmer until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the capers.
  5. Toss the pasta with the tomato mixture and pine nuts before serving.