Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sausage, Feta & Sage Pasties

My grandmother made pasties, a pasta with mashed potato and cheese filling that, as most Grandma's cooking is, a warm memory from my childhood. She made it look easy to make them, as she did everything she cooked. She really did! I wish I'd bothered to write down more of her recipes when she was alive, because I can't duplicate many of them now, even with the Internet as a resource. I got to thinking lately that these pasties can be filled with other things, so I cooked up these-sausage and sage pasties, because I grow sage and love both sausage and sage. The pasta, though, is the recipe I got from Grandma

2 cups flour
2 tsp minced fresh sage
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs + 1 for brushing pasties
2 T olive oil
Water as needed to make dough workable

1 pound Jimmy Dean or other sage sausage
3/4 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onion

Olive oil
Roughly chopped fresh sage
Pepper, optional

Combine dry ingredients; flour minced sage, salt, and baking powder. Lightly beat 3 eggs. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add eggs and 1 tablespoon olive oil. With your hands, or a fork, combine all ingredients until soft dough forms.

Put dough on flour covered cloth and knead until all ingredients are well blended. Brush with the remaining olive oil, wrap in plastic wrap and let set for 30 minutes. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil to cook pasties in.

While the dough rests, brown 1 pound of sausage, remove from heat, stir in feta cheese and chopped green onions and set aside.

If you have a pasta machine, run pasta through it until it's very thin, 1/8 inch. Otherwise, roll out on flour covered cloth until it's 1/8 inch thick. Using biscuit cutter, cut 3-inch circles. Brush with the remaining beaten egg. Put about 1 tablespoon of the sausage-feta-onion mixture in the center, fold over and press edges with a fork to seal.

Drop pasties into the boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes, remove with slotted spoon, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on roughly chopped sage, add freshly ground pepper to taste if you wish. Eat while hot.

Browning the sausage while the pasta rests saves time. I read online that this makes the gluten relax, but learned by trial that if you skip this step and try to roll out the dough, it springs right back and so, is much harder to shape.

You could probably use any other kind of cheese, I love feta, and it goes so well with these ingredients.

I also use this pasta to make wide egg noodles, which in our family is the only thing you can use in Turkey Noodle soup after Thanksgiving. My brother once used store noodles and nobody would eat it. We sat and stared at it like he was feeding us dog food.

Sage is a great plant. I can still pick it even though it's November and we've had some freezes. The leaves, either fresh or dried, I use in dishes year-round. My cockatiel, Bruno (a female, but we didn't know that until she laid eggs) loves sage, too:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

More Fall Comfort Food - Corn Fritters

My Mom made these when I was growing up, and they are the only thing I can think of that's deep fried that I still eat. I tore this page out of her recipe book after she passed away:

Looking at all the dripples and stains on it, it was a well-loved recipe!

Corn Fritters

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsps salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1/4 cup chopped green onion

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Combine beaten eggs with milk, add to flour mixture and stir until smooth. Fold in corn and green onion.

Drop from tablespoon into oil or shortening (gasp!!) heated to 350-375 degrees.

Fry until golden brown. These are rather fun to watch because when they are brown on one side, they turn themselves over to cook on the other.

Sometimes they will split open and grow little "appendages". If the oil is too hot, they will cook on the outside and be gooey on the inside. Lift out with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

I added a dab-a couple of tablespoons-of chopped jalapeno to this batch, but my kids, who grew up eating these and love them, too, said they didn't taste any different, so I didn't add it to the ingredients.


I haven’t made ghee for a couple of years, you know, life gets busy, you let things slide, but this is one thing I shouldn’t have ignored. The recipe is ridiculously easy, but you do have to keep and eye on it.


1/2 – 1 lb. unsalted butter

You can find a lot of directions for this online-most of them probably work.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan on medium-low heat-it depends on your stove. It will begin to boil-actually, it can get quite explosive at first, then it settles down to serious business.

Don’t stir, but allow it to continue to cook 20 to 30 minutes. It will develop a foam on the top and the solids will sink and start to brown. This is where you should watch it, if it starts to burn, you won’t have that golden delicious flavor and aroma! You have to kind of get a feel for when it’s done. I read in one post that it should smell like fresh-baked croissants-that’s a pretty good description.

Remove from heat and let cool for half an hour. Line a strainer with 4-5 thicknesses of cheesecloth; strain into sterilized jar. It does not need refrigeration.

This is what's left in the pan:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

This Is It

If, like me, you were a Michael Jackson fan, back then, but thought he had a fairly legendary-abnormal upbringing in the showbiz limelight with substantial authoritarian discipline, made some very bad decisions, and was pretty damned weird in his later years, go watch this show. It's well worth seeing; whatever was or was not true about his personal life, and no matter what anyone thought of him, his talent was phenomenal, and this film shows Michael's human side, not the side the media cooked and showered us with. I don't think my partner, Ron, particularly cared for him or his music, he went because I wanted to see it, and said he was glad he did because the movie was an insight into how incredible that concert would have been but never will be. I cried at the end. Like many ultra-talented performers, he had a tragic streak of self-destruction that cut his life short. What a waste...

Sometimes it just doesn't work...

Kahlua and Saveur have a recipe contest I thought I'd enter, so I made "Kahlua and Orange Mini Muffins". The recipe was pretty simple, basic muffins from my ages-old recipe file so I don't know who to credit:

6 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg at room temperature, beaten

I reduced the milk to 1/2 cup and added 1/4 cup Kahlua
I replaced the vanilla with 1/w tsp orange extract

Bake 375 degrees for about 12 minutes. They looked pretty good (excuse the crappy photo, I'm hoping for a new camera and better photo-taking skills for Christmas!):

but, alas, I forgot to put the sugar in, so I slathered them with a melted butter/sugar mixture and some chopped toasted walnuts. They just didn't work. The kids (my three adult male children, ages 26-28) ate them, don't ever get the impression that they outgrow the "eating machine" stage when they exit the teen years, they still are, but these weren't so good. I'm re-thinking my recipe entry ideas...

By the way, check out Saveur's other contests and sweepstakes, lots of fun to be had.


Fall Comfort Food, Or --

The only reason in the world I would buy Velveeta cheese!

Toasted Cheese Sanwiches with Tomato Soup

Really, I think Velveeta (how did they come up with that moniker, anyway?) cheese is junk, but in the fall, one of my comfort foods is toasted cheese sammies and tomato soup. It's been blustery here all day and will probably rain tonight. I thought I could hear it raining hard, but it turned out to be "Dream Aquarium" on my laptop!! Too warm to snow, which, being an avid skier, I would look forward to, but cold windy, rainy weather - bah!! I still have sage growing out front, though, and need to think of something to do with it before it freezes. Suggestions welcome...

Back to the subject, I do make toasted cheese sandwiches with Velveeta cheese. It melts fast and well in seconds for a gooey tomato soup dipping delight. I didn't really feel like cooking tonight, so I cheated and used Campbells:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pickled Beets, My Way

I grabbed some beets at the store this weekend, too. After cleaning them up, I boil them until nearly tender, about an hour. When they're cool enough to handle, the peels slip right off, then I trim the greens and root ends and slice them about 1/4 inch thick. You can also add sliced onions to this. Then I cover with half vinegar/half reserved beet liquid and refrigerate overnight at least. I sprinkle a little coarse-ground sea salt on just before eating. (I recall seeing a recipe where you put boiled eggs in this same liquid, but haven't tried it. I'm not sure it sounds very appetizing, maybe someone can advise me??)

Mmmm, Brussels Sprouts

After reading this on Foodbuzz a few weeks ago, I got a craving for Brussels Sprouts, so I picked some up this weekend. I steam them until they're nearly tender, then transfer them to a heated skillet with olive oil, the good, aromatic kind. After tossing them around in the oil for a bit, I added some basalmic vinegar, squeezed on some fresh lemon and added dried dill I harvested this fall and a little salt. My craving has been fulfilled!
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