30 November 2007

Penne with Sausage, Onion and Cranberry Sauce

I have a confession to make. This Thanksgiving (which was just my parents, my boyfriend and I), my mom and I sat around gossiping while the boys cleaned up the kitchen with the exception of two dishes - my fork and the cranberry sauce dish. I single-handedly polished off the can and, I have to tell you, I loved it.

So, naturally, when I saw bags of glistening, jewel-like cranberries at the grocery store, I had to snatch up as many as I could carry. This, unfortunately, left me with an unforeseen problem: What on earth am I to do with all of these (now frozen) cranberries?

While this particular recipe doesn't use up very many of them, they turn into a fantastic sauce, almost a ragu. The cranberries give the sauce an almost tomato-like flavor.

Penne with Sausage, Onion and Cranberries

1/2 pound dried penne or other small pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen and thawed
5 links sweet Italian sausage, sliced or crumbled
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 cup dry Sherry
3/4 cup chicken stock, preferably low-sodium or homemade
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pasta water

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the onion. When the onion is soft and translucent, add the cranberries, sausage, basil and oregano.
2. Cook until the sausage begins to brown and the cranberries are popping. Add the Sherry and turn the heat up to medium. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove and cooked-on bits. Once the Sherry is reduced by at least half, add the chicken stock and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the sauce is a bit tart for your taste, you can add 1/2-1 tablespoon of sugar to sweeten it.
3. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water.
4. Once the pasta is cooked, add the pasta water to thin the sauce. Toss the pasta and the sauce and serve.

- This is endlessly adaptable. If you have leftover roasted chicken or turkey on hand, that can be used in place of the sausage.
- I see no reason that you couldn't use dried cranberries in place of the fresh or frozen. I would probably chop them roughly before adding them to the sauce.
- Any dry white wine could be used in place of the Sherry.

27 November 2007

Salmon with Wine-Butter Sauce

It's difficult for me to say what I looking forward to more: cooking this meal, or eating it. It's been a while since I've made fish, and I was admittedly a little nervous about this salmon, but I'm happy to say, it was very tasty, and very simple.

Salmon with Wine-Butter Sauce

4 portions salmon, skinned, rinsed, and patted dry
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fruity white wine, such as Riesling
2 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably low-sodium or homemade
1 tablespoon butter

1. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and season the salmon with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sear the salmon over medium heat for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and the onion to the pan, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the onion is soft and beginning to brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the butter at the end of the cooking.

3. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping to remove the browned bits from the bottom. Add the garlic. Cook over medium heat until reduced by about half.

4. When the wine is reduced, add the flour and whisk to combine. Let cook for about two minutes to remove the raw taste from the flour, and add the chicken stock slowly, whisking constantly.

5. Once the sauce comes to a simmer, season to taste. If you like, add some dried or fresh parsley for color. Slide the salmon back into the sauce and allow to cook to desired doneness. Just before serving, remove the salmon from the sauce and whisk in a tablespoon of butter.

6. Serve with steamed white rice.

- If you're into the salmon skin, by all means leave it on. I just don't particularly care for it.
- Fish stock or vegetable stock can be substituted for the chicken stock - I used the chicken stock because it's what I had on hand.

I just finished reading.... Madeleine is Sleeping, by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum

25 November 2007

Quite Possibly the Best Christmas Cookies

For Thanksgiving, I decided to try a few new recipes, and one of them was Brandied Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies, from Garrett of Vanilla Garlic and posted at Simply Recipes.

Unfortunately, I had some camera problems and I wasn't able to upload my photos, but I can say that without a doubt, these were some of the tastiest cookies I have ever had. I did modify the recipe in a few ways - I used all vanilla extract in place of the brandy and vanilla extract, and instead of the white chocolate chips, which I generally find too sweet, I used 3/4 cup each of dark chocolate chips and white chocolate chips.