I needed a quick and filling dinner the other night and went to the pantry for a can of beans and can of tomatoes. I also grabbed the remains of the focaccia I made over the weekend – any rustic loaf will do. From the freezer, I pulled out some German sausage (you can use any link sausage you have around – Italian, Chorizo, etc).
This is dish that can be done as a dump and go, as my Mom would call it, or you can go all out with a Dutch oven by sautéing onions, adding garlic and even a splash of red wine vinegar before browning the sausage and tossing in the beans and tomatoes and covering the top with the bread and placing it in the oven for 30 minutes. It just depends if you want to be a French peasant or a member of the bourgeoisie.
My way is simple and substantial and that’s what exactly what I needed Monday night.
Simple Bean, Sausage and Tomato Cassoulet
1 – 14.5 ounce can Great Northern or Cannellini beans
1 – 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
½ loaf rustic bread or focaccia
4 – 6 inch links of sausage
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Tear the bread into bite sized pieces and place in a 9X13 pan. Pour in the can of beans and the can of tomatoes (with all their liquid) and mix together with your hands. Remove the meat from the sausage casing and cut into bite sized pieces, tucking the sausage pieces among the bread and beans. Leave some of the sausage peeking out of the cassoulet so it can brown.
Bake for 45 minutes. It will be bubbling and golden when done. Check at 30 minutes and if the bread is toasting too quick, lay aluminum foil over the pan. Don’t put it on tightly, as you are looking for a combination of some toasty, crunchy bites of bread and some soaked with the tomato and meat juices.
I’m enjoying the bread machine Michelle’s mother gave me and put in the ingredients for focaccia dough before an English Premier League soccer game started so I could start baking once the game was over.
The big thing about using the machine is keeping the yeast away from the liquid and salt (no pre-proofing). I first put in liquids (water, olive oil), then the dry ingredients (salt, flour, herbs) and, finally, the yeast in last. If I was adding chopped olives, I would add them in about 15 minutes into the dough cycle or use the raisin bread cycle.
I don’t use bread machine/rapid rise yeast. Because rapid rise/bread machine yeast rises faster, sometimes there could be a difference in the final product if using active dry yeast, but that can be fixed with giving the dough another rise period. Bread machine yeast only needs one rise before it is good to go. Fresh yeast should just be crumbled on the top and it will also require two rises.
This makes a slightly thicker loaf than my other focaccia recipes and is perfect for sandwiches.
Bread Machine Focaccia
1 cup warm water
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried, ground rosemary
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
coarse grey salt
Place water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, garlic, 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon ground, bread flour and yeast in the pan of the bread machine in the order listed. Select Dough cycle; press Start.
Remove dough from bread machine when cycle is complete. Well oil a 9×13 pan and pat dough into pan. Use your fingers to dimple the dough every inch or so. Brush with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with remaining rosemary. Sprinkle coarse salt over the top.
Cover focaccia with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 30 minutes before preheating oven. If using active dry yeast, you may need to let it rise for 1 hour or until almost doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
My friends Charlotte and Thomas recently had a trip to Vermont and they brought me back some maple syrup. So, of course, I had to have pancakes for breakfast.
I used a recipe that uses self-rising flour, as I usually have some on hand for biscuit making. But the leaveners don’t last forever, so it does need to be used up and replaced regularly.
This is a recipe that is easy to scale up or down, depending on the numbers of folks expected to be eating. The batter can also be made and refrigerated overnight, so you’re ready to go as soon as you’ve warmed up the griddle.
Pancakes with Self Rising Flour
2 cups self rising flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups milk
¼ cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
chopped nuts or sliced fruit, optional
Stir together flour and sugar.
Beat eggs lightly then add milk and butter. Stir. Add in vanilla. Add liquid to the flour and beat until smooth.
Use 1/3 cup measuring cup to portion out the batter for the griddle. Pour out on a well oiled, hot griddle, sprinkling on the fruit or nuts while the first side cooks. Bake until edges look dry and bubbles on surface pop. Flip and cook through.
Batter can be refrigerated overnight. Remove from the fridge while griddle warms. Stir vigorously before using.
I spent a lot of time in Greece while in college, as my Dad was stationed there. The flavors of the roasted chicken we got there still resonate in my mind – garlic, lemon, oregano. While Greek oregano has its own special taste and aroma, using generic dried oregano will work in this dish.
I used a deep cast iron pan instead of a roasting tray. I warmed it the oven while the stove preheated, so it sizzled a little as the potatoes went into the pan. As the chicken cooks, the potatoes will soften and become creamy in the pan juices, so expect your guests to fight over them.
The scent of the house as this chicken roasts must be what Elysium is like!
Greek Style Roast Chicken with Potatoes
1 4 lb whole chicken
1 stick butter, divided
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Zest and juice of one lemon plus one additional lemon, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 to 4 russet potatoes
salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl, use a fork to mix 6 tablespoons of the softened butter with the garlic and lemon zest.
Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the inside of the chicken and stuff in the lemon halves. Gently separate the skin and work the butter garlic mixture under the skin and massage to work into an even layer over the flesh.
Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter with the olive oil. Stir in the lemon juice. Massage this mixture all over the outside of the bird.
Slice the potatoes into rounds and place in bottom of roasting pan. Place chicken on top, tucking the wings under to prevent burning. Pour over any remaining olive oil, butter and lemon juice. Sprinkle salt and oregano over chicken.
Bake for 90 minutes in a 400 degree F oven, basting every thirty minutes with the pan juices. The dish is done when the internal temperature of the bird is 165 degrees F. Let rest for 10 minutes before squeezing the roasted lemon halves over the chicken and slicing for serving.
I had a package of Boursin Gournay Cheese that I found in the back of the fridge and boneless chicken breasts were on sale, so we had basically all we needed for a chicken dinner. Toss in half the package of portobello mushrooms and we upped the deliciousness factor by twelve.
I used the Garlic and Herbs style of Boursin but every kind they have would work in this dish. If you don’t have Boursin, you can approximate your own by whipping half a package of cream cheese and mixing in garlic and herbs and a little salt.
This is a two person dish but can be scaled up for a larger dinner.
Boursin and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts
2 large boneless chicken breasts
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced thin
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons pecans, toasted and chopped
2.5 ounce package Boursin Gournay cheese, room temperature
⅓ cup flour
1 egg, beaten with a teaspoon of olive oil
½ cup breadcrumbs or crushed corn flakes
In a small skillet, sauté the mushrooms in butter until they’ve released their juices. Set aside to cool slightly while you pound the chicken breasts to about ¼ inch thick.
Stir pecans into the Boursin cheese. Stir the still warm mushroom with the cheese and pecans. Spread in a thick layer over the pounded chicken. Starting at the narrow end, fold up the chicken breast, tucking in the ends. Secure with toothpicks. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the stuffed chicken from the fridge and take off the plastic. Dredge them in flour, coat with egg and roll in breadcrumbs or corn flakes. Place coated chicken on a greased baking dish, seam side down. Bake for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the breast, until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F and the chicken is slightly browned.
Slice and serve.
After a long day of prepping my house for termite fumigation, I was craving cornbread. We had a gallon bag of corn on cobs from the freezer that Michelle needed to cut off, so I got her to give me about a cup of the kernels. I then pulled down the cast iron cornbread stick pans and started making cornbread.
Soften some unsalted butter as the cornbread cooks, to make slathering it on super easy.
We ate our fill and plan to use the leftovers in a batch of cornbread dressing – that recipe follows the one for cornbread sticks.
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup corn kernels (from frozen is fine)
1 cup of milk
1/4 cup Crisco shortening
Pinch off pieces of the shortening and place dollops in each slot on the cast iron cornbread stick pans. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F with the pans in the oven, melting the shortening.
Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Beat the egg into the cup of milk. Stir together the corn kernels and milk mixture, then add the dry ingredients and stir until all the dry streaks are gone. Pour the melted shortening into the batter. Stir to combine
Use a spoon to divided the batter into each of the corn sticks slots in the pans and bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans midway through cooking. Tops will be golden brown. Immediately remove from pans to cool.
Cornbread dressing is the second best way to eat leftover cornbread. The first way is to crumble it in a glass of cold milk and eat it with a spoon!
I usually put any leftover cornbread in the freezer as it takes a few pans before I have enough for a recipe for dressing.
Very flavorful and colorful.
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons pecans, toasted and chopped fine
6-8 cornbread sticks or 4 cornbread pieces, crumbled
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs like thyme or sage, 4 to 5 sprigs
Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. When oil shimmers, add the celery, onions, peppers, garlic and pecans. Cook 5 minutes then crumble cornbread into the skillet and combine with vegetables. Dampen the dressing with stock, you may not need the full cup. Season with fresh herbs, we used thyme. Reduce heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.
I like crunchy dressing, so after the meal I take any leftovers and form patties. Freeze them and then thaw them for a bit on the counter before warming them in a 350 degree F oven for about 30 minutes.
Yummy! A quick side dish for most any protein.