Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving - Remade

Or, what to do when you friends make enough Thanksgiving goodies to feed twenty but only invited six...and send copious quantities of leftovers home with you?  Improvise, of couse!

My turkey will be reborn as enchiladas smothered in green chile sauce tomorrow, so no problem there.  But the huge container of now-dry stuffing and a glob of mashed potatoes are another thing.  Instead of merely reheating them, making them even drier than before, I decided to put them together in a pancake, bound together with creamy ricotta cheese.  Really tasty!

I used approximately -
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup leftover stuffing
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper

Since the stuffing was really dry I combined it with about 1/4 cup of leftover gravy to soak and soften up.  Then I mixed everything together, formed the batter into patties, lightly coated them with flour, and fried them in a skillet in extra virgin olive oil.

The creaminess of ricotta and potatoes combined with the sausage-spiked stuffing was a very good combo. Thanksgiving almost tasted better the second time around!

Friday, November 13, 2009


A very common method of preservation in Italy is sott'olio, which means "under oil".  Vegetables in particular are "canned" this way to keep them through the winter.  My friend Giorgio preserves many various veggies - from rapini to carrots to grilled pumpkin.  He rolls up grilled eggplant and stuffs them in jars, and submerges roasted garlic cloves, too.  His strict advice is that the olive oil must completely cover the vegetables, and you should run a knife through the jar to release all air bubbles.  It is a simple process to keep food fresh, he says "foolproof", and the oil blocks air from getting in and spoiling the goods.

Jars of homemade verdure sott'olio make nice gifts, too.  Following are two recipes for enjoying yourself or giving away.

Cipollini Sott'olio
This is an onion version of the delicious lampascioni that my famiglia makes in Basilicata.

Baby onions
white wine
2-3 cloves of garlic
zest of 1 lemon or 1 orange (peels not grated zest)
salt, pepper, red chile flakes, bay leaf - any combination of herbs you desire
extra virgin olive oil
canning jars (I prefer jars with rubber gaskets and metal closures)
Peel the baby onions and put them in a saucepan.  Add about 1 cup or so of white wine, along with the seasonings of your choice.  Bring to a boil and simmer about 7 minutes.  Drain and cool completely.  Remove the garlic and lemon peels. 

Once they're cool, put them in a jar with a tight-sealing lid.  Pack them in fairly tightly up to the top of the container, but not into the neck.  Pour the olive oil over top to cover them completely.  Run a knife through the jar to release the air bubbles.  Seal the jars and store in a cool, dry place. 

Zucchini sott'olio
3 medium zucchini
bay leaf, clove of garlic, salt, thyme sprig
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil

Slice the zucchini at an angle to create oval rounds.  Lay them in an 8-inch baking dish, sprinkle with salt and add the bay leaf and sprig of thyme.  Bring the vinegar to a boil, then pour evenly over the zucchini.  Put a plate on top of them to keep them immersed.  Allow the zucchini to stay in the vinegar until completely cooled.

When cool, remove from the vinegar and pat dry with paper towels.  Discard the herbs.  Arrange the zucchini slices in the jar, adding thin slices of garlic if desired.  Pour in the olive oil to cover them completely, and run a knife through the jar to release any air bubbles.  Seal the jar and store in a cool, dry place out of sunlight.

If you read Italian you will find some other great sott'olio recipes here.

Photo credit: Vanz

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Roasted Sausage and Potatoes

La salsiccia con le patate al forno.

This is a great cool-weather meal where the simple flavors of each ingredient meld to make a delectable dish. 

In Basilicata (or southern Italy in general) it is made with lucanica, a regional sausage that could date back to the ancient Lucanians, or maybe the Greeks who inhabited that area of Magna Grecia.  In Greece there is still a similar product called Loukanika, but it is unclear which came first.  Either way, it is delicious, and it turns out just as good when using vegetarian sausages, too.

1 pound potatoes (I like to use the small red potatoes)
a handful of cipollini onions* (or - even better - half a jar of lampascioni if you can find them)
4 Italian sausages
salt and pepper
1/2 cup white wine
peperoncino flakes or chile oil, optional
olive oil

Clean the potatoes and halve or quarter them, depending on the size.  Put them in a baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cut the baby onions in half and mix them with the potatoes.  If you are able to use lampascioni, drizzle some of the oil from the jar over top, otherwise drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and mix well to coat.  Sprinkle or drizzle on peperoncino or chile oil if you want a spicy dish.  Lay the sausages on top, pour the wine over it all and cover.  Bake at 400 for about 35 minutes.

Obviously, this is a versatile dish and the flavors can be changed based on the type of sausage you use, or the spices you may want to mix in (such as garlic and rosemary).

*Peel the onions quickly and easily by immersing them in boiling water for about 20 seconds.  When cool enough to handle, the skins slide off.
Photo credit goes to cobalt.