Tag Archives: summer

Panzanella with Italian Sausage

I’m a huge fan of throwing a bunch of stuff in a bowl and calling it something.  Panzanella has been floating around the back of my mind for some time now.  I was first inspired by several panzanella recipes on foodgawker, and then I did some research on Wikipedia.  Turns out that panzanella is an Italian way of using up leftovers and cleaning out your produce drawer.  What follows below is really more of a method than a recipe.  Adjust the amounts of things to your tastes, swap out veggies for what you have on hand, and add whatever protein strikes your fancy.  Or, skip the protein and make this into a flavortastic light side dish.  🙂

If your bread is not very old, or if you like crunchy bread, toast your cubes a bit in the oven before assembling the dish.  This panzanella is extremely versatile.  Next time I make it I think I will add some chopped fresh basil, and perhaps some shaved parmesan or some torn up fresh mozzarella.

This dish came together unbelievably fast, and turned out delicious and satisfying.  As an individual who pretty much hates vegetables, it’s a compliment to this recipe that I cleaned my plate of all its squash, peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes.  The bread soaks up all the flavors but does not get soggy because it’s day-old (or toasted, whichever you prefer).  My bread was actually several days old, so stale and crunchy that I was afraid it would ruin the dish (it didn’t).  For that reason, I didn’t toast it.  However, next time I make this–because, oh yes, there will be a next time–I will use slightly less stale bread and toast it for a minute or two while the veggies are broiling, just to try a different texture.

Panzanella with Italian Sausage
Inspired by Wikipedia, The Bitten Word, Baked Bree, and Macheesmo

1 yellow summer squash, sliced
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
1 small head broccoli, chopped
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into eighths
12 ounces Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 a day-old baguette or other crusty bread, chopped into 1-inch chunks
Extra virgin olive oil
White wine vinegar (or your favorite)
Salt and pepper to taste

Set oven to high broil setting.  Place all vegetables in a sturdy roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place under broiler until vegetables are tender and starting to brown, about 10 minutes.  (Alternatively, you could grill your veggies.)

Meanwhile, place the Italian sausage in a skillet, and cook over medium-high heat until well browned, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar to taste.  Allow the bread to soak up these liquids a bit.  Add crumbled sausage and its juices to bread cubes and stir to evenly distribute.  Add broiled vegetables and their juices to bowl, and stir well to combine flavors.  Set aside a few minutes to allow bread to soak up juices.  Enjoy!


Homemade Fudgsicles

This post is for my dad–a true Fudgsicle fanatic.  🙂

Food blogs this time of year churn out recipes for frozen goodness at an alarming rate.  My Google reader feed has been awash in these recipes, but alas, I have not been able to try any of them for lack of equipment.  Until now.  While my very own Kitchenaid ice cream attachment remains a (near constant) daydream, I recently treated myself to a set of Tovolo Goovy Pop popsicle molds.  Now, now I could finally satisfy my craving for homemade frozen goodness!

What better way to break my molds in than with a recipe for homemade Fudgsicles?  When I saw this recipe on Baking Bites, I knew I had to try it.  With no preservatives and no ingredients I can’t pronounce, these popsicles are ridiculously easy to make and even more ridiculously delicious.  If you are a chocoholic (or related to one), I recommend whipping up a batch of these, stat!  Cold, creamy, chocolatey, with exactly the right Fudgsicle texture…frozen hard enough to last a while, but soft enough to get some nice big bites to melt on your tongue.

The only downside to this recipe is that it is MESSY when you get to the pouring-into-molds part.  Then again, is that really a downside?  I mean, as a culture, have we gotten ourselves into such a state that we can’t handle a little bit of mess from time to time?  If the mess really bothers you, you can always use a small funnel and a ladle to fill your molds.  If you’re like me, though, a Fudgsicle-stained apron (and, erm, face, and hands…) is a culinary badge of honor.  🙂

Mmmph.  About these photos.  The camera I am currently using appears to be having a tantrum, and thus was quite uncooperative today.  That, and I am learning that popsicles are just dang difficult to photograph, especially by oneself!  Not a total loss, though.  I think the photos do an adequate job of conveying the texture and richness of the fudgsicles, though they’re certainly not foodgawker-worthy.  On a happy side note, I discovered that my photo-editing software can generate collages.  So, enjoy!  🙂  (If you want to see a really great photograph of these popsicles, check out Baking Bite’s photo!)

Homemade Fudgsicles
Recipe from Baking Bites
Makes 6(ish) Fudgsicles
2 cups milk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup granulate sugar
2 Tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Stir over medium heat just until sugar and cocoa have dissolved.  Pour into molds and freeze until solid.

Note: if you don’t have popsicle molds, never fear!  You can use little paper cups or ice cube trays and plain popsicle sticks for the handle.

Sweet Corn Chowder with Wheat Germ Flax Biscuits

So, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from blogging.  For past six weeks I’ve been going through some “stuff”–you know, the kind of “stuff” that we humans all go through from time to time–the result of which was that I didn’t feel much like blogging.  Oh, I made some food, ate some food, even took some pictures of food.  When it came to blogging, however, I just couldn’t muster the creative energy.

The happy news for me is that I’m on the other side of the “stuff,” or at least on a different side of it, and ready to blog again.  As an act of penance for ignoring my readers for so long, I have included not one but two recipes in this post.  🙂

It’s summer in Maine and in lots of other places, so sweet corn is on my mind.  Since local fresh sweet corn has been surprisingly expensive this year, I’ve been satisfying my corn cravings with frozen sweet corn.  You can do almost anything with frozen corn than you can with fresh, so I frequently use frozen sweet corn kernals to save myself some of the trouble involved with shucking, cleaning, and cooking fresh corn.

Today for an early supper I made a pot of sweet corn chowder, and baked some biscuits to serve on the side.  While this is in no way a low-calorie meal, I am rather proud of the fact that it is entirely homemade and contains some very healthy and interesting ingredients.  The chowder is my own recipe, which I painstakingly wrote down as I created it today.  The biscuits are adapted from “Baking Illustrated,” which is the best resource for home baking I have ever found.  The chowder is a delicious New England-style chowder (not thick, not overly rich) with chunks of bacon, onion, and corn simmered in a delicious broth.  The biscuits are made with whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and flaxmeal for a nutty flavor and a tender, delicate texture.  These were fairly easy recipes to make on a lazy Friday off from work, and it turned out to be the perfect mid-day meal.  I am envisioning what to add to the chowder next time: clams, or perhaps a bit of lobster? 🙂  The biscuits, too, are so light and tasty that I think they’d be delicious underneath some berries and whipped cream for a lovely summer shortcake.

Wheat Germ and Flax Biscuits
Adapted from Baking Illustrated

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup raw wheat germ
1/4 cup flaxmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
3/4 cup plus 4 Tablespoons plain, nonfat yogurt

Preheat the oven to 450F.

In a large bowl, blend flours, wheat germ, flaxmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Stir in the yogurt until dough gathers into a ball .  Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured surface.  Quickly form dough into a ball.  Cut ball in half, then cut each half in half again to make a total of 4 evenly-sized quarters.  Cut each quarter into 3 even pieces.  Working quickly, gently shape each piece into a ball and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  The biscuits can be baked immediately, or covered in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.

To bake, place baking sheet in preheated oven.  Bake about 12 minutes, or until tops of biscuits are light golden brown.  Serve.  (Makes 12 biscuits.)

Becky’s Own Sweet Corn Chowder
8 oz. of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 16-ounce bag frozen sweet corn
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet or pot, render bacon fat over medium-high heat until bacon is browned and crunchy.  Pour off all but two tablespoons of bacon fat and return skillet (with bacon in it) to heat.  Add onions to bacon in skillet and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic to onion-bacon mixture and cook, stirring contantly, about 30 seconds.  Add frozen corn to skillet (no need to thaw prior) and cook over medium heat until corn is thawed and hot, stirring frequently, 5-8 minutes.  Stir in the chicken broth and simmer about 5-8 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and stir in the milk.  Heat the chowder until hot, but DO NOT BOIL.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.  (Makes enough chowder for 3-4 hungry people.)

Corn on Foodista