Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Spicy Italian Sausage & Kidney Bean Soup Recipe

I'm not big on most convenience foods, but I am a fan of sausages. I always keep a package or two in the freezer. They are quick to cook and combined with a few other ingredients they can take the leading role in soup, stew, casseroles or pasta dishes. I’ve paired them with everything from pears to rapini to make meals on the fly.

During the Fancy Food Show last month I got a chance to try Mulay’s Sausage at Food Fete. I was impressed by their products and especially founder Loree Mulay’s dedication to using high quality ingredients. Her Italian sausages were juicy but not greasy. “No one should see how laws or sausages are made” goes the Otto von Bismarck quote, but I'm not so sure about that. Loree spoke passionately about the sourcing of meat that goes into her sausages made according to her family’s recipes. She uses meat from animals never treated with anitbiotics. She doesn't use nitrates, MSG, soy, dairy, sugar, artifical flavors or colors and her products are gluten-free. These are sausages I would not fear seeing made. 

After receiving some sausages I was even more impressed, because cooking them up there wasn’t a huge pool of fat in the pan. I used Mulay’s Killer hot Italian sausages in a variation on a recipe from a favorite cookbook of mine, Elegant Meals with Inexpensive Meats.  My version has less liquid so the result is a richly spicy and flavorful soup that is almost the texture of chili. Note: If you use another brand of Italian sausages you may need to drain the grease after browning the meat. 

Spicy Italian Sausage & Kidney Bean Soup 
Serves 4


1 12 ounce package Killer hot Italian sausage
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup diced mixed mini peppers (red, yellow and orange)
1 clove garlic, pressed
28 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can kidney beans, drained
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/3 cup red wine


Remove the sausage from casings and crumble into a 4 quart pot. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink. Add the onions and peppers and continue to cook until the onion is completely translucent and begins to melt. Add the garlic and stir. Add the tomatoes, beans, water and fennel seeds. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the cover, add the red wine and simmer uncovered for 3 minutes. Serve with or without grated Parmigiano Reggiano. 


Disclaimer: Mulay’s Sausage provided me with samples of their products to use in recipes, I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Chipotle Lime Sweet Potato Salad Recipe

Recently I worked with Bolthouse Farms to create some recipes using a new yogurt based spread called MAIO which comes in three versions—plain, garlic and chipotle. I do recipe development for clients all the time, but only occasionally do you see those particular recipes reprinted here on my blog. I refuse to be compensated monetarily for anything on my blog, so I only share things here that I really want to share, never because I was paid. But this is such a unique and wonderful new product I’m really happy to tell you about it.

When I was in Sweden last month I enjoyed a variety of sandwiches and salads that used creme fraiche rather than mayonnaise. It's lighter and less oily than mayonnaise, but is unfortunately very high in fat and calories. MAIO is yogurt based and egg-free but also includes some olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and salt. It has a light creamy texture and fresh flavor and can be used in place of mayonnaise but is also much more versatile. I've found it also works great in cold savory recipes where you might use creme fraiche. Unlike mayonnaise or creme fraiche, MAIO has just one gram of fat per tablespoon, is low in calories, gluten-free and has no artificial flavors. It's available at Northern California Safeway stores in the refrigerated section. 

MAIO is great on sandwiches and used as a spread for wraps, but one of the ways I like it best is in this very simple sweet potato salad. I used the chipotle flavor for this recipe since sweet potatoes are so good with chile and lime. This is a salad I would never make with mayonnaise. It would be too greasy. I wouldn’t make it with a yogurt dressing either since those can sometimes separate. MAIO is perfect because it stays creamy and light. If you try it, let me know what you think! 

Chipotle Lime Sweet Potato Salad 
4 servings


4 medium sweet potatoes about 2 pounds
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup Maio chipotle
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 lime zest
1/2 small sweet white onion, thinly sliced
Cilantro leaves, optional


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into roughly 1-inch
chunks.Put sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, toss to coat and spread out in a
single layer. Roast until potatoes are just tender about 25 minutes. Let cool. 

Combine the Maio, lime juice and zest in a mixing bowl. Gently fold the sweet
potatoes and the onions into the dressing. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Note: If unable to find sweet onions, soak the onion slices in vinegar for about 10
minutes then thoroughly rinse and drain.  


Disclaimer: Bolthouse Farms is a client and I was paid to create recipes for them, I was not compensated monetarily to post this or any other content on my blog. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cabbage with Horseradish, Chives & Salmon Roe

Back in December I spent a few days in Seattle. I was very excited to check out new restaurants and in particular Renee Erickson's Bateau, considered one of the top new spots in Seattle. It’s a steak restaurant but the side dishes are no less glamorous than the exquisite cuts of heritage breed, grass fed and finished beef. One of my favorite dishes was the Cava-Butter Poached Cabbage with Horseradish, Chives and Ikura. I have no idea what the actual recipe is, but decided to recreate it as best as I could. 

Cabbage is a terribly under appreciated vegetable. Given a bit of care, it can turn into something really special. In this case, the buttery braising liquid, the horseradish, herbal freshness of chives and pop of salmon roe are the equivalent of giving cabbage the royal treatment. It’s such a fine combination of flavors and textures, I really didn’t see the point in changing it up very much. I used Sauvignon Blanc instead of Cava, because it’s what I had open, but I think any wine with some acidity would actually be fine, if you have sparkling wine, by all means use it.

This dish is served at a steak restaurant, but I served it with halibut roasted in parchment. The sweetness of the cabbage really complements the natural sweetness of fish and seafood. I think this dish would also go well with salmon, black cod, scallops or lobster. It's about the most elegant way to enjoy cabbage so serve it with something prepared rather simply and let it show off a little. 

Cabbage with Horseradish and Chives
Serves 4 - 6


1 small head green cabbage
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup Sauvignon Blanc or sparkling wine
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons chopped chives 
2 Tablespoons salmon roe, or more if desired


Discard any damaged outer leaves of the cabbage, quarter and remove the core. Chop the cabbage roughly, you should have about 8 cups.

Place the butter, wine and horseradish in a deep pot or Dutch oven and heat over medium-low heat. When the butter melts, add the cabbage to the pot. Stir then cover and cook over low heat for about about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cabbage is tender and wilted. Add salt and stir.

Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with chives and top with salmon roe. Note: I get salmon roe at a Russian grocery store but look for it at seafood markets or gourmet shop. If you can't find salmon roe, trout roe would work.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Halibut Roasted in Parchment Recipe

Recently Real Good Fish reached out to me to see if I would try their services and share my experiences. I was already considering subscribing and am very happy to tell you about them. Real Good Fish is like a subscription based community-supported agriculture program (CSA) where you get a box of fresh produce only in this case, it's a share of fish or seafood each week. It's dropped off at a convenient location in the San Francisco Bay Area for you to pick up. You get a heads up the day before so you know what you are receiving. Sometimes you will receive things you may not ever be able to find at retail like Ridgeback shrimp or California red abalone but the newsletter and website provide storage tips and recipes. 

So far I've received crab, abalone and halibut. It's always enough for 2-4 servings and costs $22. It's pretty much the freshest way to get your fish or seafood. It's all local, sustainable and the newsletter gives you details about who caught your seafood, the catch, and the like. 

This week it's California halibut. It's mild and a bit firm and very healthy. A portion of 3 1/2 ounces is less than 100 calories, low in fat and a good source of protein. Cooking it in broth or steaming it is a good bet. Cooking it quickly in parchment works because it's basically steaming in its own juices. I add a little bit of olive oil to keep things moist and some preserved lemon for flavor. It adds both acidity and salt, which is pretty much all the fish needs. Note that the time will vary depending upon how thick your fish fillet is. Be careful not to overcook it. You can always pop it back in the oven if needs another minute or two. 

Parchment Roasted Halibut
Serves 4


4 halibut fillets, about 4 ounces each
Preserved lemon, sliced with any pits removed
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil 


Heat oven to 400° F. Place the fish on one half of four 12- to 15-inch lengths of parchment cut into squares or a heart shape. Top each fillet with slices of preserved lemon. Drizzle each with a teaspoon of olive oil. Fold the parchment over the fish; make small overlapping folds along the edges to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes if a thin fillet of 1/2 inch or less, 10-12 if a one inch fillet, If it's over one inch, 15 minutes. 

Carefully cut the packets open, remove the lemon slices and serve.


Disclaimer: I am receiving seafood from Real Good Fish in exchange for sharing my experiences, I am not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.