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Category Archives: main dishes

Russian Roasted Pork Sausage

This is the sausage my Russian grandparents would make several times a year. It was served at every family gathering. They were from a small village outside of Minsk in Belarus. Preparing this phenomenal sausage today for our family and friends is a wonderful way to carry on traditions through the generations.

This sausage is not made with ground pork. Hand cut 1 inch pieces of pork butt or pork shoulder are used. The leaner cuts do not work. We tried. It needs to be fatty.

The meat is mixed with a special combination of spices and garlic. Then it is marinated a day. Fresh crushed spices and fresh minced garlic are more flavorful than ground spices or jarred garlic.

The meat mix is stuffed into casings and then simmered in lots of water. The final step is roasting and browning the sausage in the oven

Make sure not to boil or roast too long. This is a moist fatty sausage.

My family always made double this recipe which is for 20 pounds of meat. Our family today is smaller so 10 pounds is enough for us.

Ingredients

10 pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder

Hog casings, soaked in water and then rinsed inside and out

Spice and seasoning mixture:

1 tablespoon sugar

10 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

5 large cloves garlic, or more, minced

1 tablespoon dill seed, crushed

1 teaspoon ground allspice or 20 seeds, crushed

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or 2 whole cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon ground coriander or 20 seeds, crushed

1/2 bay leaf, crumbled fine

1 teaspoon ground mustard powder or 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, crushed

1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes or 1 dried hot red cayenne pepper, crushed

3/4 cup water

Steps

  • The spices that need to be crushed can be combined and broken into tiny pieces with a mortar and pestle or use a small bowl and the bottom of a small glass. Grinding these whole fresh spices give you better flavor than the ground spices.
  • Combine the dry seasonings in a small bowl, reserving 1 teaspoon salt.
  • Mince the garlic and add 1 teaspoon of the salt to it and mash it with the knife side
  • Cut the pork shoulder or butt into 1 inches pieces. Place in a very large ceramic or glass bowl
  • Add the water, garlic and seasonings to pork and mix well with your hands
  • Cover and refrigerate 1 day
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Make sure the hog casings are rinsed thoroughly under running cold water. Allow the water to run through the interior of the casings and look for holes. Cut out the sections with holes.
  • Tie a knot in the end of the casing.
  • Using an automatic sausage stuffer, slip the casing over the stuffing tube. I have an attachment to my Kitchen Aid stand mixer
  • Twist the links every 8-12 inches. You can keep the links connected or you can break off and separate each link from the stuffing tube. Twist the ends. Set the sausage links aside. Continue until all the meat is in the casings
  • Bring 1 or 2 large pots of water to a boil. Leave room for the sausage
  • Add the sausage to the water. Poke a few holes in each length. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 15-20 minutes. Skim any scum that rises to the surface.
  • Drain most of the water from the cooking pots but reserve some.
  • Remove sausage from the pot and place on shallow baking sheets. Maintain about 1/2 to 1 cup of water from the cooking pot in the bottom of the roasting pan. Cover with foil and roast about 15 minutes
  • Remove foil and roast till browned on each side, turning once, about 15 minutes on each side. Add and maintain the 1/2-1 cup cooking water to the roasting pans too. Sausage should be cooked till browned and tender. Do not overcook or it will be dry!
  • Serve the sausage links on a large platter. You can cut into pieces about 3 inches long if you like.

Here are some photos of the process

Gather your seasoning ingredients

Crush the whole spices with a mortar and pestle. You can make your own using a small bowl and small glass

Marinate the meat & seasoning mixture one day & stuff it into the hog casings the net day

Boil the sausage in a large pot of water

Roast the sausage on shallow baking pans in a 350 F oven

.

Voila! Enjoy our familiar taste of Russia!

Curried Chicken Salad

This is a main dish salad that can be presented in many forms. Add things like grape halves, walnuts, pecans, dried cherries or celery slices for a refreshing cold main dish, add pasta or cooked rice, spread it on bread as a sandwich or on crackers for an appetizer. Or just make the dressing and dip in fresh veggies!

Poaching the chicken is the first step

  • Place 4 chicken breasts, cut in halves crosswise, in a large cooking pot of boiling water with 1 quartered onion, 1 bay leaf and several black peppercorns.
  • Once it’s boiling again turn the heat off and cover. Or place on an extremely low flame. The remaining heat of an electric cooktop works well
  • Using an instant read thermometer check the temperature in the thickest part of the breast after 10 minutes. Once each piece reaches 155 F remove it from the water and cool. It’s temperature will rise to 165 F as it rests on a platter or in a colander.
  • When cool either shred the chicken or cut into bite size cubes. Your choice. I prefer shredded!!

Dressing

In a large bowl mix together

1 cup light Hellman’s mayonnaise

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon Madras style curry powder

4 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Add chicken to dressing. Serve cold

This curry dressing is the same recipe as the curry dip we made at Strongbow’s Turkey Inn which is located in Valparaiso Indiana. Serve as a dressing or dip for fresh veggies like we did at Strongbow’s!

Voila! I hope you enjoy this as we have!

Fried Eggs with Yogurt & Lemon

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I love this very popular recipe from Food52. Julia Turshen developed it! I am not adapting her recipe. I’m copying it to share.

Serves 1 but easily multiplies

1/4 cup plain yogurt (Greek or not, your choice)

1/2 lemon with a lot of juice in it!

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 eggs

1 tablespoon roughly chopped leafy green herbs such as basil, dill, chervil, chives, thyme and or parsley

1. In a small bowl combine the yogurt and a big squeeze of juice from the lemon half and whisk together. Season to taste with salt and pepper and adjust the lemon to taste too. Scrape the mixture to a plate and spread and swoop it so the yogurt covers most of the plate.

2. In a nonstick skillet over medium high heat warm the olive oil. Crack the eggs into the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a few drops of water (less than a teaspoon) into the skillet, being sure to let the water hit the bottom of the pan and not the eggs, and immediately cover with a lid.

3. Let the eggs cook until the whites are cooked through but the yolks are still a bit wobbly, just a minute or two. Transfer the eggs to the prepared plate setting them on top of the yogurt, then pour the remaining olive oil from the pan over the top. Squeeze whatever juice remains in the lemon half and scatter the herbs over all.

Serve immediately!

Eggs, yogurt, lemon, olive oil, fresh herbs, salt and pepper are all you need

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In a small bowl combine yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper

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Scrape the yogurt mixture onto a plate and spread around as a base for the fried eggs

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Fry the eggs in olive oil with a bit of water added and cover with a lid!

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Place the eggs on the yogurt and then pour over the olive oil from the pan and the remaining lemon juice and lastly the fresh herbs! Voila!

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Homemade Labneh/Yogurt Cheese

Spread this yogurt cheese on toasted or crispy bread and top it with roasted cherry tomatoes, onion and garlic like I have here. Drizzle with thick aged balsamic and sprinkle with flaked sea salt


Raw grape tomatoes are a tasty topping too! Especially these sweet yellow ones from the farmers market

IMG_1900IMG_1901Labneh spread on crispy bread and topped with raw tomatoes, thick balsamic and flaked sea salt

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Thick spreadable labneh


Labneh is a form of yogurt. You can strain regular yogurt to make Greek yogurt which ends up a bit thicker. If you strain it further to a spreadable consistency you get labneh! So simple!

So why bother? It’s a cows milk alternative to spreadable goat cheese. It’s cheaper than goat cheese and other spreadable cheeses. It’s super easy and you get your calcium and protein big time!

I like this for lunch but also cut into bite size pieces as an appetizer

My source for this recipe is an Egyptian girl at Mattersofthebelly.com  Check her post for more details! It’s authentic!

I like labneh spread on crisp bread and topped with:

1. Raw tomatoes, thick balsamic and flaked sea salt or

2. Roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic and onion drizzled with balsamic and sea salt or

3. A delish jam of your choice or

4. Drizzled honey and flaked sea salt

If you want to order the absolute best homemade jam go to Plumtreejam.com for a variety of fruit jams made in Portland Oregon. #plumtreejam

Ingredients:

16 oz whole milk yogurt

1 pinch salt

cheesecloth or sterile gauze

  • Place a colander over a large bowl.
  • Line the colander with 3-4 layers of cheese cloth or gauze
  • In another medium bowl combine yogurt and a 3 finger pinch of salt
  • Pour yogurt into cheesecloth and enclose it into a ball and tie up with a string or twist tie
  • Cover the colander and bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  • Continue straining to your desired consistency. Overnight is good for me
  • Scrape the labneh into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Yogurt is straining through cheesecloth and a colander into a bowl

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Cover the yogurt with plastic and refrigerate overnight

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This is the consistency I like to spread on crispy bread

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Voila! I hope you enjoy this taste of the Middle East!

 

 

 

Eggs in Purgatory with Capers

Just in time for a grand and easy to make Fathers Day Breakfast!

Bring out your grandmothers cast iron!


Eggs in Purgatory is a spicy briney tomato sauce and a perfect complement to some mellow eggs. I discovered this recipe online from Karen Palmer at Food52.com

This dish is an Italian style Shakshuka which is a Middle Eastern food made with a salsa type tomato sauce. Eggs in Purgatory has chili flakes added to your taste for heat and capers to give a briney almost fishy flavor. It’s like adding anchovies to tomato sauce which wouldn’t be a bad addition to this sauce either! 

Italian Puttanesca is a tomato sauce with added capers and anchovies for a briney flavor. Italian Arrabbiata is a spicy tomato sauce with added chili flakes. Eggs in Purgatory is a blend of both of these flavorful tomato sauces.

Add some toast with rhubarb jam to complete breakfast or brunch that combines the salty with the sweet. I like to sprinkle flaked sea salt over my rhubarb jam toast to add to the salty component. 

2 tablespoons olive oil

A pinch or more hot pepper chili flakes

1/2 cup chopped onion or shallot

Kosher salt

Black pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced with 1/2 teaspoon salt

1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon capers and 1 tablespoon of the caper brine

1-2 anchovies, rinsed and patted dry and then minced, OPTIONAL

4 eggs

Shaved or grated Parmesan or Romano cheese 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
  • Heat an 8-10 inch cast iron pan over medium heat
  • Add the olive oil
  • Sauté the chili flakes and stir quickly with a spoon or spatula until fragrant, less than a minute.
  • Add the onion and sauté until translucent, turning down the heat as needed to prevent browning.
  • Add the garlic and sauté only a 1/2 minute while stirring. Do not brown or burn!
  • Add the tomato sauce, capers and brine. If you want to add the anchovies, do it now.
  • Simmer uncovered until thickened, simmering slowly. About 20-30 minutes. 
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • With a large spoon place 4 indentations in the sauce. Place an egg in each cradle
  • Bake 9-10 minutes or less until the whites just turn white and still jiggle when shaken. 
  • Serve with grated or shaved Romano or Parmesan  cheese
  • You can sprinkle with chopped parsley or cilantro if you like 
  • Toast up some crusty bread of your liking
  • Voila!

Buttermilk Or Sour Cream Waffles


These recipes are from the Joy of Cooking cookbook. They both are prepared the same way.  Only a few of the ingredients are different. 

My favorite way to eat Waffles is with butter and homemade maple syrup. But they’re also yummy with fruit jam, fruit syrup, or fresh fruit. I usually make the Buttermilk Waffles. We always keep buttermilk in our frig. It’s yummy to drink too! 

Buttermilk reminds me of a drink we had in Istanbul called ayran. It was made with yogurt, water and salt. Served cold it’s refreshing! You can find it anywhere in Turkey and other Arab countries. The basic recipe is whisking together 2 cups Greek yogurt, 2 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt. Yum!

Buttermilk Waffles

  • In a medium bowl whisk together:

1 3/4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

  • In a medium bowl beat together until thick and lemon colored with a hand mixer:

2 egg yolks

  • Add and beat in:

2 cups buttermilk

6 tablespoons butter, melted

  • Combine the 2 mixtures with a few quick strokes
  • In a small bowl beat until stiff:

2 egg whites

  • Fold egg whites into batter
  • Drop by large spoonfuls onto hot waffle iron 
  • Use about  1/2 cup batter per waffle 


Sour Cream Waffles

  • In a medium bowl whisk together:

3/4 cup flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

  • In a medium bowl beat until thick and lemony:

3 egg yolks

  • Add and combine:

 2 cups sour cream

  • Combine the 2 mixtures together with a few quick strokes
  • In a small bowl beat until stiff:

3 egg whites

  • Fold egg whites into batter. With a large spoon add about 1/2 cup batter to a hot waffle iron to make 1 waffle

Cheese and Tomato Lasagna


This is a full of flavor lasagne that’s not glorpy or heavy! It’s similar to the light lasagne of Italy which is all about the pasta, not the thick sauce! 

Look up the recipe at Cooks Illustrated or America’s Test Kitchen. These two links will both take you there. You do need a subscription to have access to their recipes. If you don’t have one, take advantage of their one month free offer! I love these sites! They are a great source for recipes, testing and product recommendation, and will always provide interesting background info!

Here are some photos I took while making this lasagne along with basic instructions:

Cheese Sauce

  • In a medium bowl whisk together 

4 oz or 2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese

8 oz or 1 cup cottage cheese

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 cloves garlic minced

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cheese sauce:

Tomato Sauce

  • In a skillet heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Sauté 1 chopped onion. Add and sauté together until onions are softened:

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • Add and cook about a minute:

4 cloves garlic, minced

8 or more anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry and minced (I use the entire can)

Sautéed onion and herbs:

  • To the onion add and simmer 20 minutes:

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese

Tomato sauce nearing completion:

Lasagna

You will need:

14 curly type regular lasagna noodles, such as Barilla

8 oz or 2 cups fontina cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 cup Pecorino Romano 

  • Use regular lasagne pasta, but don’t cook it! Instead soften them! Use the curly variety 
  • Place 14 noodles in a 9×13 inch baking pan. Pour boiling water over the noodles to cover them
  • Use the tip of a sharp knife to keep the noodles separated 

This is the pasta brand I used and the pasta soaking in boiling water:

  • When the pasta are bendable, place the container in the sink and run cold water over them. Drain or lift them out of the water and dry the pasta on towels

Pasta dryIng on kitchen towels:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle of the oven
  • Place 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan
  • Cut 2 noodles in half crosswise and set aside.
  • Layer 3 full noodles lengthwise over the sauce with one end up next to the short end of the pan.
  • Place a half noodle at the other end of the pan perpendicular
  • Spread half of cheese sauce over noodles
  • Sprinkle 1/2 cup grated fontina cheese over cheese sauce
  • Layer noodles next in the same manner but switch the half noodle to the other end of the pan
  • Spread 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce over the noodles
  • Sprinkle 1/2 cup fontina cheese over sauce
  • Place 3rd layer of noodles with 3 1/2 noodles, again switching the short noodle to the other end from the last time
  • Spread remaining cheese sauce and then 1/2 cup fontina 
  • Layer 3 1/2 noodles and again switch their placement. This is to make the layers an even height
  • Spread the remaining sauce over the noodles.
  • Mix 1/2 cup fontina with 1/8 teaspoon cornstarch and sprinkle it on
  • Finally layer the 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano on top
  • Spray a sheet of foil with oil and place it oil side down on the lasagne
  • Bake at 375 for 35 minutes
  • Remove lasagne from oven
  • Increase temp to 500 and remove foil. 
  • Return lasagne to the oven and bake 10-15 minutes until lightly browned
  • Remove from oven and let sit 20 minutes before serving
  • I have made this lasagne ahead and refrigerated it before baking. Bring it to room temperature before placing it in the oven

Cheese Sauce layered over first layer of pasta:

Fontina layered over tomato sauce:

Fontina layered over cheese sauce:

Final layer of the lasagna: Pecorino Romano!

Cover the lasagne with an oiled sheet of foil and bake at 375 degrees!


The final stage is to remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 500 for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Then let rest for 20 minutes before serving. 

Voila!