Hot Italian Sausages with Roasted Cauliflower in Lemon-Mustard Sauce

I got this delicious cauliflower recipe from this paleo site. I used toasted almond slivers in place of pecans, and it turned out amazingly!  It’s quite addictive!  It’s also vegan and gluten free.  The sausages, obviously, are not.


Stella’s Spaghetti Bolognese

So, I had a pound of beef, some pasta, and no idea what to make for lunch during the Ravens-Texans game (go, Ravens!). I hadn’t had Bolognese sauce since living in England more than five years ago, so I decided to give it a try. Pasta Bolognese seemed to be the most popular Italian dish in the UK a few years back, and it was on every Italian menu, as well as a lot of pub menus, not to mention available in frozen form at the supermarket! This Bolognese, while fairly straightforward, is far superior to the Tesco version. I will definitely be adding this one to my regular pasta rotation.

This classic sauce was registered in 1982 by the Bolognese delegation of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina and stipulates the ingredients as: beef (skirt steak), pancetta, onions, carrot, celery (stalk), tomato paste, meat broth, red dry wine (not bubbling), milk, salt and pepper to taste. There are, of course, multiple regional variations, however; let’s consider this the variazione del texan.

For this recipe, I cheated on on the soffritto, skipping the carrots altogether, added some spices I had on hand (an idea I got from Emeril Lagasse), and left out the pancetta (since I didn’t have–or want–any). I also used spaghetti instead of tagliatelle, a typically American modification (though I love tagliatelle!). Finally, I served the sauce on top of the pasta, which I mixed with the cream and butter, rather than mixing it all together as the Italians would be more likely to do. Eccola!

Stella’s Bolognese Sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
~4 oz. tomato paste (half a small can)
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp raw sugar

For the pasta
1 lb. spaghetti
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely grated parmesan

1. Add olive oil, beef, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper to a large skillet and stir over medium heat until just cooked through, breaking up the meat with your spatula.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook spaghetti until al dente, about 10 minutes.

3. As meat cooks through, add herbs and spices. Reduce heat to medium low. Add tomato paste and stir thoroughly. After about three minutes, as tomato paste is absorbed, add wine. Stir again and allow to simmer until alcohol is cooked off, about five minutes. Finally, sprinkle with sugar and stir again. You can cook this sauce for as long as you want, actually – just keep adding water and reduce heat to a simmer. It will become richer with every minute cooked.

4. Drain pasta and return to pot, away from heat source. Add butter, cream, and pepper, and stir thoroughly. Add half the parmesan and stir again, until cheese is absorbed into pasta.

5. Spoon spaghetti into pasta bowls and top with generous heaps of the beef sauce. Garnish with remaining parmesan, and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6, either as one of several courses, or as a main or single course.

Sauce refrigerates well for up to five days.

Review: Shanita’s Salsitas

I’ve posted about this before, but now that Shanita’s is taking off like a rocket, I wanted to bring her delicious salsitas to your attention again.

You’ve probably noticed that I regularly eat Shanita’s Salsitas, both as your typical snack of chips and salsa and as an ingredient in some of my favorite Tex-Mex recipes; you may also be aware I am obsessed with her creamy garlic jalapeño salsa, Hal’s Hot Love, in particular. So let’s just start there.

This stuff is like salsa crack. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t become a hard core addict after the first bite – it’s that good. I eat it straight up with home-fried El Milagro tortillas (above); I eat it on scrambled eggs for breakfast; I pour it over my grits; I use it to spice up my take-out; and, of course, I slather my enchiladas in the stuff. I gave my mother a jar last time I went home for a visit, and she sat down with a bag of Fritos (hey, it’s East Texas) and consumed half the jar in one sitting (the pepper doesn’t fall far from the plant).

But Hal’s Hot Love is not Shanita’s only contribution to the local salsa scene. She also makes several other, equally delicious varieties. These are currently available for sale on her new web site: Ki’s K.O., a chile arbol and tangy garlic salsa that doubles as a versatile dressing for salads, crudités, and anything grilled (pictured above and on the salad up top); and Seymour Rockin’ Harissa, a North African-inspired fiery garlic pepper paste that delivers a fantastic kick to all kinds of dishes (pictured below). Check out the recipes section of Shanita’s blog for plenty of tasty ideas, including these amazing Tomates Rellenos Tapas featuring Seymour Rockin’ Harissa.

Two other salsitas that we particularly like are her Little Irv’s Honey Fire, a sweet salsa verde made with roasted tomatillos that’s equally wonderful as a snack or drizzled over enchiladas, and Bubbie’s Haba Lava, which is habanero-based and very hot, indeed (it’s also Eric’s favorite, and I like it on my steak and eggs breakfast – see below). Look for these and other unique salsitas to appear in Shanita’s online store soon.

I’m also really excited that Shanita’s Salsitas will be debuting as a Participating Commercial Bottler at this year’s Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival this weekend! That’s right; in Texas we’re so serious about our salsa that we hold our annual hot sauce tasting festival and competition in August, hot on the heels of a record heat wave. What better opportunity to head out, heat up, and meet Shanita and her salsitas? Then you can be a typical Austinite and tell everyone about how you knew about Hal’s Hot Love before it was mainstream, or whatever.

Shanita’s web site says her salsitas are “affectionately made by hand in Austin, Texas,” and I can verify the truth of this statement. I’ve become a fan of Shanita both as a salsa slinger and as a person, and her small, local company packs a punch in more ways than one. Not only is she determined to deliver the freshest, tastiest salsitas directly to your door, but her ethos is one of cultural hybridity and culinary fusion. As she explains on her web site, “Growing up Jewish in a large family on the Texas-Mexico border, cultures blend in strange ways. Bar Mitzvahs become pachangas. Tortillas replace bagels. Jalapenos find their way into falafel.” Shanita’s Salsitas is all about sharing what’s best about Texas culture and food, one bite at a time. This growing company is one of my favorite local food producers, and I’m convinced it will soon be one of yours!

I dare you to try the Hal’s Hot Love. Double dare.

Shanita’s Salsitas
Shanita’s on Facebook
Shanita’s on Twitter

Bison Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

For this recipe, I used the famously easy Smitten Kitchen tomato sauce recipe, which I started before working on the meatballs. It takes about 45 minutes to cook, and the meatballs take only about 20 minutes including prep time, so this works out nicely.

1 lb ground bison
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp hot sauce (I used Cholula)
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, reserving a little for garnish
extra olive oil for pan

1. Preheat your oven to 325°. Grease a baking dish or oven-safe pan with olive oil.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Rolling the mixture in your hands, separate into 8 meatballs of equal size. Place in the pan and cook for about 15 minutes, turning once near the end of cooking.

3. Serve with tomato sauce and leftover cheese.

These are great over pasta or as a main course, as pictured.

Serves 2-4.

Poblano Pesto

I can’t even begin to tell you how fantastic this is.  You’ll have to trust me.  If you like pesto and chiles, you’ll love it.

Go, make it now.  I’ll be here waiting, eating all the pasta.

2 large poblano chiles
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup crushed cashews
1/2 – 1 cup fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
another 1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450°. Cut chiles in half and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush both sides with olive oil. Roast for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally, or until all peppers are very browned and bubbly.

2. Remove the chiles from the oven and carefully place them in a paper bag. Fold the top of the bag so that the chiles are sealed inside, and let them sit for about ten minutes.

3. Meanwhile, put all other ingredients except the olive oil into a food processor. Once peppers have steamed at least ten minutes, remove them from the bag and place them on a cutting board. Use a paring knife to carefully remove the charred skins, stems, and seeds, and toss aside.

4. Chop chiles and add them to the food processor, then blend while drizzling olive oil through the opening in the top of the machine, blades turning. You may need to stop a couple of times to scrape the mixture off the sides of the processor bowl. Blend well until all ingredients are finely diced and evenly mixed.

5. Serve over pasta, on crackers, or with any other dish you might usually use pesto. This will keep for several days in the fridge. To freeze for later use, simply omit the cheese and add it later when you reheat the pesto.

Makes approximately 2 cups.

If your chile is on the hotter side, serve this pesto in a dish that also incorporates some dairy, which will offset the heat. I made a bowl of spinach spaghetti and added a big dollop of mascarpone!