Easy sausage and kale gnocchi

Now it’s October and the weather is just starting to cool down here in California, I start thinking about these sorts of comforting midweek dishes.

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8oz kale
1 packet of potato gnocchi (about 14 oz)
1 small onion
Olive oil for frying
3 good-quality sweet or spicy Italian pork sausagemeat or sausages
200g tomato passata
Large handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
4 oz fontina cheese or mozzarella

Heat the oven to 400 F.
Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil. Shred the kale and remove any tough stalks then drop into the water with the gnocchi and cook for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse both under cold water.
Finely chop the onion. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan, then crumble in the meat from the sausages (discard the skins).
Add the chopped onion and fry for 7 minutes or until just soft. Add the passata and basil leaves and simmer for 3 minutes.
Toss the kale and gnocchi through the sausage mixture, then transfer to a 1.5 litre (7 cup) ovenproof dish. Tear over the cheese and season with salt and pepper, then bake for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Creamy spinach and sausage spaghetti

This is a real comfort dish, the soothing creaminess of the spinach paired with whatever flavor sausage you prefer. Thank you to Delicious Magazine for this recipe. I love sharing recipes I find online!

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Serves 3 to 4

12 oz spaghetti (or other pasta)
1 medium red onion
2 garlic cloves
4 good quality sausages
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
6 oz frozen spinach, defrosted
3oz crème fraîche
1 good sized lemon
Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, then add the spaghetti and cook for 9-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, reserving a 4 tablespoons of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, finely slice the onion and garlic and roughly chop the sausages into bite-size pieces. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and gently fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and sausages and cook for 2 minutes, then add the mustard and spinach. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the crème fraîche.

Zest the lemon, then stir into the sauce along with the pasta and reserved water.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, then divide among 4 bowls and serve topped with a grating of parmesan.

Hot mustard lentils with beets and spicy sausage

All my favorite ingredients on one plate. Such a lovely mixture of flavors and textures and so good for you too.

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Serves 4

1lb 2 oz raw beets (beetroot)
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tsp caraway seeds
1lb of lamb Merguez sausages or another spicy sausage of your choice
2 x 8oz pouches of the ready-cooked Puy lentils
3 oz watercress, stalks removed
FOR THE DRESSING
4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Colmans English mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 350 F. Top and tail the beets, then peel and cut into wedges.
Put the beets in a roasting tin, drizzle over 2 tbsp of olive oil and toss with the onion, garlic and caraway seeds. Roast for 45 minutes until the beets are tender and the onion is sticky and charred.
In another roasting pan, put in 2 tbsp olive oil and the sausages. Put these in the same oven about 10 minutes later, roasting for about 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. (Alternatively, broil the sausages until golden brown on all sides)

Make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients. While the beets are still warm, toss with the lentils and dressing.
Add the watercress and serve with the sausages.

Bacon, sausage and cheese muffins

Well, as it gets towards Christmas, I start thinking of lovely cozy breakfasts in front of the fire. Yes, even in Southern California we have fireplaces and use them a lot. These are steamy bites of savory goodness and are very addictive, so make double what you think you’ll need.

 

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1 cup cooked, chopped bacon
1 cup cooked crumbled sausage meat. I use mild Italian.
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 cup grated sharp or mature cheddar cheese
1/2 small yellow onion (diced)
8 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large skillet, cook the bacon. Chop into small-medium bits. Set aside. Using the same skillet, cook the crumbled sausage meat. Set aside.
Chop the onion (you can use other veggies if you choose).
Grease tin cups in a 12 muffin tin pan with butter or shortening.
Whisk together the eggs and milk, a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in the bread crumbs, cheese, sausage, onion and bacon, leaving just a handful of bacon and cheese for the topping.
Fill the muffin tip cups evenly with the mixture. Sprinkle the remaining bacon and cheese atop of the egg mixture for presentation purposes!
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, eggs should be completely cooked through (you can test with toothpick). To remove the muffins, run a small butter knife around the cups to loosen and pull up. Serve warm.

Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfast bread pudding

I am a bread pudding nut, and on these festive holidays, there is nothing nicer than to sit in the kitchen in the morning with the fire on, drinking champagne and smelling the aroma of something cooking slowly in the oven. The beauty of this dish is that it can be prepared up until cooking, the night before and refrigerated until needed.

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Serves 4

1 lb good quality pork sausage-meat
6 cups cut or torn up up French bread, about 1/2″ thick
3 cups whole milk
8 large eggs, organic preferably
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 sage leaves
5 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp maple sugar
butter for the pan

The night before- cook the pork sausage-meat until it is nicely browned. If the sausage is in links, then remove the casings and crumble the sausage.
Mince the sage and toss it with your torn/cut bread in a large bowl
Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper then pour it over the bread. Stir it around several times, let it sit, then stir again.
Butter a 9″ by 9″ baking dish.
Stir the bread again. Most of the liquid should be absorbed.
Spread half of the bread mixture in the bottom of the greased baking dish.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage-meat from the pan and spread it over the bread.
Now dot the cream cheese in with the sausage. Top with the remaining bread and pour any unabsorbed custard over the top.
Cover and stick in the fridge overnight. Go to bed.
The next morning…. Preheat the oven to 350 F
Pull the pudding from the fridge and drizzle the maple syrup over it, then sprinkle with the maple sugar.
Put it in the oven. Now it’s going to take a while as it’s dense, so go and enjoy yourself with your family while the aroma slowly seeps around the house.
It will turn a dark golden brown, be crunchy on top and puff up a bit. It might take up to 1 hour 30 mins, but check after 1 hour.
When you think it’s done, take it out of the oven and let it rest for a little bit. This goes really well with mimosas!

Rich and warming braised sausages

I adore sausages and of all meat, sausages and bacon are the ones I would miss the most if I ever became vegetarian. This is a hearty, flavorful and warming braise, great for those Fall and Winter evenings and all it needs is some good mashed potato to soak up the juices.

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Serves 4

2 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
12 of your favorite pork sausages
6 rashers bacon, rinds removed and cut into 1 inch lengths
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 to 1 tsp smoked paprika
1 x 14oz can chopped San Marzano tomatoes
10 fl oz chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp dark brown sugar (Muscovado is great)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 fl oz red or white wine
1 x 14oz can butter beans or another type of bean you like, drained and rinsed
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large non stick frying pan and fry the sausages gently for 10 mins, turning every now and then until nicely browned all over. Transfer to a large saucepan or a flameproof baking dish and set aside.
Fry the bacon pieces in the frying pan until they begin to brown and crisp then add to the sausages
Place the onions in the frying pan and fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes until they begin to soften, stirring often. You should have enough fat in the pan, but if not, add the other tbsp of oil.
Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more until the onions turn a pale-golden color, stirring frequently.
Sprinkle over the smoked paprika and cook together for a few seconds longer.
Stir in the tomatoes, chicken stock, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and herbs.
Pour over the wine and bring to a simmer.
Tip carefully into the pan with the sausages and bacon and return to a simmer, then reduce the heat, cover the pan loosely with a lid or aluminum foil and leave to simmer very gently for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Alternatively, you can cook it in the oven at 350 F for 45 minutes.

 

Simple summer stew of tomato, merguez sausage and cannellini beans

Such a simple, summery stew to serve with just a green salad. if you can’t find merguez sausage, try using chorizo.  This is so easy to throw together and full of flavor, thanks to the sausage.
 
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Serves 4
A splash of olive oil
6 Merguez or Chorizo sausages
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1lb 6oz ripe tomatoes
7 fl oz chicken stock
2 x 15 oz cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
A good handful Italian parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or Le Creuset braiser on high heat. Roughly chop the sausages and fry until browned and beginning to crisp around the edges. transfer to a plate and lower the heat to medium.
Add the onion to the pan and fry for about 5 mins or until softened, adding the crushed garlic to the pan after a couple of minutes so it doesn’t burn.
Quarter the tomatoes, then add to the pan with the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Season and stir, then simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the Cannellini beans to the pan with the browned sausages. Simmer for 10 mins or until the sausages are cooked through and the sauce is thickened.
Roughly chop the parsley, then stir through the stew. Divide it among 4 serving bowls. Sprinkle with ground black pepper and serve with some crusty bread and a green salad.

 

 

 

 

Easy baked penne

Everyone needs one of these meaty, creamy, cheesy dishes that are universally adored, easy to make and can be made as much for large crowds as for 4 people.

 

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Serves 4 to 6
8 oz penne pasta
1/2 lb ground beef, lamb, sweet Italian sausage or even chorizo
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 (24 oz) jar of good quality Marinara sauce or similar spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
6 oz Provolone cheese
6 oz shredded or sliced Mozzarella
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
chopped parsley

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown the ground beef or other meat.
Add the onion and cook until softened.
Add the spaghetti sauce and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in the sour cream.
Add the drained pasta and stir to coat

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Spray a 2 quart baking dish with non stick cooking spray.
Pour half of the pasta into the baking dish.
Top with half of the Provolone and half of the Mozzarella.
Pour the remaining pasta on top and top it with the remaining Provolone and Mozzarella and sprinkle the Parmesan on top.
Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Braised Turkish chicken

So many interesting flavors going on here, and all in one pot! I love “one-pot cooking.

Serves 4

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 large free range chicken thighs
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 red pepper, sliced in rings
1 small eggplant, diced into 1 inch chunks
1 green chile, sliced, with seeds
Handful of fresh thyme, tied together with string
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (I roast my own as they are more pungent)
4 oz of spiced Turkish sausage, or chorizo, skinned and sliced in 3/4 inch pieces
2 oz fine bulgar wheat
6 Medjool dates, pitted and sliced
2 tbsp tomato puree
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
17 fl oz chicken stock
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses or tamarind paste
1 small cinnamon stick
1 star anise

Pre-heat the oven to 375 F

Heat the olive olive oil in a heavy based saucepan until almost smoking and season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and a splash of oil.

Put the thighs in the pan, skin side down and cook until the skin is nicely browned.

Lift them out and then add the onions, garlic, eggplant, chile, thyme, cumin and sausage for about 12 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Add the bulgar and dates, followed by the tomato puree and stir well.
Pour in the red wine vinegar, followed by the chicken stock, pomegranate molasses, cinnamon and star anise and bring to the boil.

Turn the heat off and nestle the thighs back in so that the flesh is under the liquid but the skin is still sticking out.
Put a lid on the pan and put it in the oven for 40 minutes.
When you take it out, remove the lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Serve with great bread.

 

A "one pot meal"- Baked bacon wrapped sausages with sweet potato and fennel

A gem from the BBC Good Food website, and all thrown together in one baking dish.
How easy is this to do when you get home from work!

Serves 4

1lb sweet potatoes, roughly chopped into medium sized chunks
1 bulb fennel, chopped into 1/4 inch slices
3 large garlic cloves
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
8 good quality sausages of your choice
8 thick rashers of bacon
1 tbsp plain flour (or GF flour)
4 fl oz apple juice
2 fl oz dry white wine
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs fresh thyme or fennel fronds if you can find them

Preheat the oven to 400 F

Place the sweet potato and fennel in a large roasting tin with the garlic, celery seeds and brown sugar.
Drizzle over the olive oil and give everything a good muddle so all the vegetables are coated and seasoned well.

Wrap each sausage in a rasher of bacon so it looks mummified and then nestle them in with the vegetables.
Roast the whole lot in the oven for about 25 minutes

Lightly sprinkle over the flour and jiggle the tin until it’s disappeared and has been incorporated among the vegetables.
Pour over the apple juice, white wine and balsamic vinegar, add the herbs, then continue to roast for a further 20 minutes until everything is cooked through and the sauce is thickened.
Check for seasoning and serve immediately