Paccheri with Peas & Barese Sausage Al Forno and the Value of Blogger Friends

It’s raining on this first day of spring. Not a cleansing healing  rain , but a gloomy one to me anyway. It’s like the world is crying. Japan, Wars both declared and not, The Middle East, unemployment, and even this cutie Knut who

Knut

decided to pack it in and leave us. Life is hard and no ever promised it would be easy. But our dreams , determination, faith and friends sustain us through the journey.When you don’t have those, you have nothing. I’ve been thinking of my friends, both real and virtual. Also how lucky I am to have many of virtual friends turn into real friends. They inspire , help, and lend a a shoulder to you in your hour of need. I’ve been thinking about Jeanne who lost her  beloved father this week, Marie who always has an encouraging word  , Barbara who has turned from more than  a web developer to a friend. There are many more friends real and virtual out there who are always there with tips, leads, and humor. These friends bring comfort to my life. You can say I’m in a contemplative mood these days.But I’m lucky to have my circle.

A good dish always soothes a troubled soul. Marie took me to Caputo’s at long last. Any ennui I felt lately vanished as we roamed the cheese room, and pasta aisles.Nobody knows Italian American food like Marie. She directed me to to the right purchases with advice on how to prepare the items.

So this Sunday as I wait for my Certain Someone to come back home from a business trip abroad, I  cobbled together this rich and comforting dish baked al forno ( in the oven). Using fresh Paccheri ( a large rigatoni) and Barese sausage ( small narrow sausage flavored with garlic and parsley, no fennel) simmered in white wine and finished off in the oven. Lots of cheese and heavy cream, lightly seasoned with nutmeg, and peas for spring.

Before the recipe I want to announce the winner of the $100 giveaway from US Wellness Meats. Congratulations Cheryl Lee Ferguson.I will email you with instructions to claim your prize.

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Paccheri with Peas & Barese Sausage Al Forno

  • 1 package of fresh Paccheri or Rigatoni
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella
  • 3/4 lb Barese sausage
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 qt heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • grated nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Boil salted water for pasta.
  3. In a skillet simmer your Barese until gray in color and almost done.
  4. Place sausages  on a baking sheet and brown in oven until done ( about 10 minutes ). Cut into small bite size pieces.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F.
  6. Boil Paccheri until al dente ( about 6 minutes). Remove from heat and drain.
  7. In a bowl beat the three eggs with heavy cream. Add salt and pepper. Season generously  but carefully as cream dishes diminish salt in flavor.
  8. In a another large bowl combine drained pasta, cream and egg mixture, Mozzarella Cheese  and chopped sausage.
  9. Place combined mixture in a baking dish or casserole . Top with shaved Parmesan,   a sprinkle of grated nutmeg,salt and pepper.
  10. Bake at 350 for approx 45 minutes to 1 hour. The cream egg mixture should not run if pierced with fork and the dish should be bubbling.

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Chorizo Rolls Made from Fresh Homemade Chorizo

I like to grind my own meat and make my own bread, I confess. Nowadays with ever increasing food safety issues and economy, its a sure bet to make your own ground meat. So having purchased a 9 lb pork belly and having some packs of LEMS Cured Sausage Seasonings,I did.After removing the skin and ribs from my whole pork belly , I put it through the grinder, and added their Chorizo mix, and let sit in the fridge overnight to meld the flavors. The end result was approx 7lb or so of ground sausage. Half went into the freezer for later use ( see economy!) , an the other made tray of our favorite stuffed vegetables and stuffed rolls.

Certain Someone and I love these, and with the seasons turning, there is bounty of wonderful vegetables to stuff . These stuffed vegetables make great leftovers and save me from cooking for a few days.

What I really wanted to do was make some soft rolls stuffed with the sausage and cheese. Sandy , the creator of BYOB, gave me a recipe for a soft roll,a while ago when I was working on some bread ideas for Chef at the caterer. I wanted a soft , time effective roll . Loving her recipe , I decided to add sausage and cheese to it. I can imagine so many uses. I actually made about 22 rolls with this recipe as I was stuffing them. They are pretty quick and easy and can be made in an hours time. Serve them up for entertaining while watching football games, to go for lunch, outings, etc. If you are not up to making your own sausage use store purchased fresh chorizo or other sausage.

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Chorizo Rolls

  • 1 /2 lb Chorizo cooked and drained
  • 3 balls of fresh Mozzarella cut into cubes
  • Dried Thyme for dusting

The Dough from Sandy

  • 2 cups warm milk, about 115 degrees F
  • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/4 cup warm water, about 115 degrees F
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons white sugar, to taste
  • 2 packages instant yeast (about 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
  1. Combine milk, butter, water, sugar, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir in flour until a soft dough forms. Knead until smooth; add flour if necessary until no longer sticky.
  2. Roll into rope and divide into 25 pieces; form into balls.
  3. Flatten each ball with hands and stuff with 1 tsp of cooked drained choirzo and 1 piece of cheese.
  4. Seal ends with finger tips and gently shape roll.
  5. Place on parchment with sealed side down.
  6. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets and press down to flatten slightly. Let rise about 20 minutes.
    Preheat oven to 375 F.
  7. Brush rolls with egg yolk and dust with Thyme, if desired. Bake for 15 minutes.
  8. Cool on rack.

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I submit these rolls to BYOB.

Homemade Duck Sausage Caramelized Onions Apples and Gruyere Tart


If you keep up with me via Twitter or Facebook, you know I am in the process of auditioning for the new American version of Master Chef with Gordon Ramsay on Fox. Things are going well so far and its been a crazy few days. Some people have been asking what I brought to my casting call. This post is going to be short and sweet, but I just wanted to share and thank everyone for their support.

Well here it is. I got high marks for this one. Enjoy.


Homemade Duck Sausage, Caramelized Onion, Apple and Gruyere Tart

With Frisee, Dried Cranberries and Pumpkin Oil Vinaigrette

By Courtney Nzeribe

Equipment Needed

4.5 inch tart forms

Kitchen Aid stand mixer, meat grinder and sausage stuffer

Homemade Duck Sausage

1 duckling de-boned with meat and skin from legs, breast, etc.

Natural casing (hog or lamb)

1 tbsp juniper berries

1 tbsp Garlic Powder

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp green peppercorns

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp mustard powder

½ tsp ground sage

A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme, and marjoram

Soak casing in cold water for a few hours to remove any salt preservatives.

De bone a duck removing breast meat, skin, thigh/ leg meat. Reserve the carcass, wings, and extra fold of skin at cavity. Place the carcass, wings and skin, and bones in a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper and roast at 450 to render some fat. Roast until golden and crispy. Set aside and reserve fat for later.

Using the Kitchen Aid meat grinder, grind small pieces of the duck meat and skin, on coarse grind first. Once done add seasonings and grind once more on a finer grind. Chill meat until ready to stuff into casing.

Prepare Kitchen Aid with Sausage Stuffer attachments. Take the casing and attach the stuffer funnel to one end and run under cold water to flush insides. Add the sausage funnel to mixer and roll the casing onto the length of the funnel. Tie off the end of casing in a knot. Follow Kitchen Aid instructions to stuff sausage. Once all meat is stuffed, cover the sausage with plastic wrap and chill for a few hours or overnight to let seasonings blend.

Caramelized Onions and Apples

1 large onion

1 apple

* 2 tbsp of Duck Fat (see Homemade Duck Sausage recipe)

¼ cup Cognac

Sea salt & black pepper to taste

Fresh Thyme

Thinly slice the onions. Peel and chop the apple. In a large skillet, heat the duck fat. Add the onion , salt, pepper, and thyme and sauté on med low heat stirring occasionally until they start to sweat and become translucent. Add the apples. Every few minutes add some cognac to deglaze the pan and continue to sauté and stir on low heat until soft and slightly browned. Total cook time is about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Tart Assembly

Puff pastry to line forms ( I made my own)

2 cups Farmers cheese

1 cup shredded Gruyere

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

Pinch of fresh grated nutmeg

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Baked Homemade Duck sausage

1 cup Caramelized Onions and Apples

Egg wash (1 egg beaten lightly)

Roll out puff pastry and cut and fit into tart form. Chill until ready to fill.

Bake the homemade duck sausage in a roasting pan with a little water at 450 F until golden and crispy. Set aside and let cool. Slice on diagonal.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a small bowl mix Farmers Cheese, Gruyere, eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the caramelized onions. Fill chilled tart shells with mixture and add the slices of duck sausage. Brush edges with egg wash. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

Frisee, Dried Cranberries with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

Wash and spin dry the Frisee. In a bowl mix ½ cup Pumpkin Oil , ½ cup Balsamic Vinegar, 2tbsp Peanut Oil, ½ tsp brown sugar. Add fresh ground Black Pepper and sea salt and beat until emulsified.. Toss the Frisee with some vinaigrette. Add dried Cranberries.

Plate the tarts with the dressed Frisee. Garnish tart with sprig of fresh Thyme or Rosemary and a few cranberries.



Pytt I Panna ( A Swedish Hash) with Marx Foods Elk Sausage


I love Marx Foods offerings and contests. Recently they asked for all bloggers to leave a comment on what they would do with their game sausage sampler. They would pick 11 lucky people and ship them a sausage variety from the sampler to create a recipe by June 5. Then the polls would open and the votes begin. I was hoping for the boar variety to make a timbale or sartu ,but I got the Elk with Pears and Port Wine. When I think of Elk, I think of Sweden where the consumption is huge. Elk is low in fat and cholesterol and perfect alternative for red meat eaters who need to watch those things.
My Certain Someone ,as most of regular readers know has a house in Sweden. One of his favorite dishes to make for his boys on Poker night is Pytt I Panna( Swedish Hash), which literally translates to” small things in a pan”.Of course he uses the frozen variety. Both the Swedes and Danes have their versions and there are really no rules for Pytt I Panna, except that it contains leftover meats, cubed potatoes, onion, and bacon. Pytt I Panna is then topped with a fried egg and garnished with pickled beets and gherkins. It may not look like much, but its good and hits the spot. A lot of people use the ready made frozen variety but I wanted to make mine from scratch and more home style. The Elk sausage, while not a traditional meat for this dish, was really good. Certain Someone would have liked my potatoes smaller, but really loved the sausage and his plate was cleaned. So whether you want a quick brunch, hangover cure, or simple meal at home with your friend and loved ones with lack of pretension, try this humble dish and enjoy.The Elk sausage really raises it up a level.

Home style Pytt I Panna with Elk Sausage
serves 4
3/4 lbs chopped smoked bacon( slab cut)
2 3/4 cups chopped onion or approx 1 &1/2 onion
4 Elk Sausage with Pear and Port wine, sliced in to 1 inch pieces
6 medium potatoes boiled with skin , and chopped small
salt and pepper to taste

Parsley chopped
4 eggs fried to garnish
Picked beets for garnish
Gherkins for garnish

In a large skillet, brown bacon . When bacon is halfway done, but not golden, add elk sausage and brown. Bacon and sausage will continue to cook until golden and done. Remove meats from the pan and set aside. At this point you want to save the oils from the sausage and bacon and leave in pan. Add the onions to the hot oil and start to saute. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Toss and stir occasionally to cook evenly and brown a bit. When potatoes and onions are soft and well mixed , add the meats( bacon and elk sausage) and continue to cook to brown.
I an separate fry pan fry up your eggs for each serving. Plate the Pytt I Panna and top each serving with a friend egg. Garnish with beets and gherkins.

Glamah Does Sweden …Day 1


This trip would be my 3rd visit to Sweden. Once alone to meet my uncle and cousins, and the last few with Certain Someone for weddings, meeting friends,etc. Getting there this time around was challenging. I had a connection via London but arrived later due to weather delays.British Airways informed me that there were no more available direct flights to Stockholm. They rerouted me via Schipol in Amsterdam.Lots of waiting around,coveting the new shops in the controversial Terminal 5.From a professional perspective this has raised the bar in Duty Free shopping. Anyway I finally arrive in Stockholm, funky, irritated, but full thanks to a upgrade on the last leg(meals and wine, would you believe American tried to charge me $6 for wine !Used to be complimentary).I had been travelling 20 hours.Another fellow Chicagoan who had the same fate as me told me our bags were still in Amsterdam.I found one bad and waited with a mob to trace the other. They took my paper and said the other(with my dress for the wedding) would be delivered to me me.Certain Someone and our friends were waiting for me.I was never so happy to see him. Talk about weary traveller.

We woke and started the 2 hour drive to Tierp to close on the house. Tierp is a small town near the summer house that can be best be described as somewhat “rural” and full of older people.We went to the supermarket\cafe for coffee and quick bite.Now you have to be black to understand this. I was waiting for the stares.There were a few, but Lo and behold I saw a “Sistah” in the market. She looked right past me.Then I saw a “Brothah”. I felt better and the people were nice. A few stared , but maybe because I was so Glamah!.The real estate agent and soon to be former owner were very warm and offered to speak English. I told them to go ahead in Swedish and take care of business. Just put my name on the deed! Hahaha. I reminded Certain Someone that I was his SAMBO( which is a shortened way in Swedish meaning legal partner, not derogatory as I first thought when I heard it)!The former owner offered to introduce us to our neighbors and advised us on shopping for supplies etc. He recommended Uppsala (I say upps upside your head, I say upps upsides your head…) for the nearest dose of real shopping: Uppsala is a lovely ancient University town with a Castle and Cathedral that are breathtaking from a distance. The owner was amused when he saw me get excited seeing another black person on the street. I reminded him how would he feel if he was in the most rural of Africa and felt “different”, he agreed and admitted he would welcome the site of a fellow Euro.

We drove along the country gravel road and what I saw took my breath away. Certain Someone had managed to buy a paradise! It was lovingly cared for by the former owner and his family for 35 years.A beautiful yellow wooden summer house on 1.5 acres of land with a guest house, outhouse,woodshed,work shed, etc. Apple, pear, and plum trees, deers, and all sorts of more flora and fauna, and impish magpies galore.A five minute walk and your by the Baltic Sea. The former owner was distressed that the water line had receded this year. So getting the boat out will be difficult because of the shallow waters.Around the boathouse is a spot that the government used to spy on the Russians. There is a listening post by the dock. All I kept saying throughout the walk through, was this would be great for a party(the last thing the former owner wanted to hear from the American)! I mean it was huge! Three bedrooms in the main house. The city girl in mna had to adjust to nature, but I loved it.My creative mind started running away with improvement plans. There is a huge rock pile that I wan to use to build a stone BBQ range.There is even a spot for bonfires. Its to arid and against the law to start them now. My only regret is that we cant use it all the time. His parents will use it more than us.And perhaps short term vacation rentals down the line.This area is going to be hot soon because the prices are way more favorable than the popular archipelago region and the new highway makes it a straight shot.Our neighbors were an elderly couple that had lived there forever.The man grew up there and the wife had been there for 40 years. Their property looked more farm like. Since they live there all year round they will kind of keep an eye on things. If we did give a party it would most likely freak them out(hundreds of Swedish yuppies\ brats with loud techno blaring, just kidding ) , so we need to be considerate.The former owner bought a farm and has a new project to occupy him. We invited him to check in anytime, and he invited us to his new farm.I know it was hard for him to part with this charming property.Memories.To bad we wont be here for Midsommar!We drove back sleepy from the sun and all the sensory overload.

Some friends were coming for a BBQ at our friends house that evening. Since everyone was working Certain Someone and I did the shopping and menu planning. He paid,I planned and executed. Food is expensive in Sweden.We spent $100 for what I probably have gotten for $75 back home.I made skewers of shrimp with pineapple,pineapple and Halloumi,Halloumi,mushroom,pepper kebabs, a quick thin sliced pork cutlet marinated in Hoisin, brown sugar, pineapple,spices,oil, sausages,ribs,etc. They didn’t marinate for as long as I would have liked but the result was fabulous. Our host BH made a warm potato salad with mixed greens,feta, and asparagus. Delish. A foodie friend of theirs chipped in with a nice dressing for the vegetable kebabs an being the grill master. I introduced them to something new as they never had pineapple on the grill before. I also made rum cocktails with spiced rum, lime, pineapple,and lime. Delish!I apologized for taking over my hosts kitchen, but she said she was happy I was in her kitchen.What can I say, I thrive in the kitchen.Can you believe this is only DAY 1 on a Monday? Tomorrow moving day.