Sausages & Roasted Veggies in Agrodolce

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Today’s the last day of September and therefore the last day of our first month of the Kitchn Cookbook Club. We did an even better job than anticipated of cooking through Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat. We shared our Pasta with Clams & Sausage and Chocolate Cupcakes with Rosewater Cream, but we also made a gorgeous salad from her Avocado Salad Matrix, a nice roast whole chicken, and some green beans that we didn’t love. We still have a few more recipes bookmarked – the Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts in Agrodolce, the Autumn Panzanella Salad, and the Vietnamese Cucumber Salad in particular. We clearly won’t get to all of them before the end of the month, given that we only have a few hours of September left, but for dinner tonight we riffed on the squash and sprouts recipe.

The dish as written is vegetarian and would make a beautiful side dish – Samin says she serves it on her Thanksgiving spread! (Selim wants to do the same!) We decided to throw some sausages in the oven with the veggies to make it a full meal with a protein. I was initially attracted to the recipe because of the vinegar. I love vinegar and have learned from this book how the punch of acid improves most dishes by brightening other flavors. And now, I know what agrodolce means! “Agro” + “dolce” = “sour” + “sweet” in Italian. At its most basic, an agrodolce is a sauce of vinegar and sugar. It can be adjusted in many different ways – various vinegars, subbing honey or syrups for the sugar, and adding other ingredients, like herbs, spices, fruits, nuts, olives, and basically anything else!

We both loved this recipe and plan to add it to the regular rotation. The roasting and the vinegar really brought out the inherent sweetness of the vegetables. The sausages were a welcome addition and their fattiness stood up well to the vinegar. The end result is a little messy, but really delicious. We both independently thought that it would have been better if we’d cut the squash into cubes, instead of slicing as the original recommended. I think we’ll try that next time, but left the recipe with the sliced recommendation since that’s how we made it.*

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Sausages & Roasted Veggies in Agrodolce

(Adapted from Salt Fat Acid Heat)
Ingredients:
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 lb brussel sprouts
  • 5 Italian sausages
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/3 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fresh mint leaves
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Slice the squash in half, scoop out any seeds, and slice into crescents*. Halve these if too large. Place in a large bowl and toss with enough olive oil to coat and ~ 1/4 tsp salt and a few turns of fresh ground black pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet.
  3. Halve the brussel sprouts and do the same as above with additional olive oil, a pinch of salt, and pepper. Place them on a second lined cookie sheet.
  4. Place the sausages on another sheet, or on one of the previous ones if there is room without crowding. (Mine fit easily with the brussel sprouts.)
  5. Place the veggies and sausages in the the oven. Roast for 25-30 minutes, turning and adjusting the position of the cookie sheets in the oven about halfway through so everything roasts evenly. [Keep a close eye out towards the end – the brussel sprouts may cook faster than the squash. We like ours on the burnt side of crispy, but you may want to take them out about 5 minutes earlier.]
  6. Meanwhile, submerge the onions in the vinegar to macerate while everything is cooking (at least 20 minutes).
  7. In another small bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp olive oil, sugar, red pepper flakes, and garlic.
  8. Once the veggies are cooked, place them in large bowl. Slice the sausages into bite-sized rounds and place in the bowl as well. Whisk the onions and vinegar into the olive oil mixture and then, once well-combined, pour the mixture into the large bowl. Toss to coat.
  9. Serve on a platter topped with additional salt if needed and a handful of torn mint leaves.
Serves 4

Chocolate Cupcakes with Rosewater Cream

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In our last post, we mentioned how we started participating in the Kitchn’s Cookbook Club. Our first recipe was an amazing success, so we’re dipping our toes into a dessert today! This recipe is originally published as a cake, but we decided to make cupcakes instead. (Samin encourages that in the recipe, so don’t worry, we’re not improvising too much!)

The cake portion turned out well – nice and chocolately with a good texture and moistness. We really liked the combination of the chocolate cake with the rosewater icing. We personally love rosewater, but it can definitely be a polarizing ingredient. Using 3/4 tsp of rosewater in this recipe gave it a discernible rosewater flavor, but isn’t overwhelming. If you’re a rosewater novice, maybe start with a little less. Another update: I still don’t know how to ice cupcakes. I tried. Sorry. At least they taste good.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Rose Cream

(Adapted from Salt Fat Acid Heat)
Ingredients: 
  • Cupcakes
    • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 3/4 cups AP flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 neutral oil
    • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
    • 2 eggs, room temperature & whisked
  • Cream
    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 3/4 tsp rosewater
    • Optional: a drop or two of red food coloring, to give you pink icing
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in top third of oven. Place cupcake liners in a cupcake tin.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients for the cupcakes: cocoa powder, sugar, salt, flour, and baking soda.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the wet ingredients: vanilla, oil, boiling water, and eggs.
  4. With mixer running, slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Mix until the thin batter comes together.
  5. Divide the batter into the cupcake molds, filling roughly 2/3s full.
  6. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the whipped cream frosting. Refrigerate the mixing bowl and whisk attachment for at least 20 minutes.
  8. Then start by whipping the cream and rosewater together over medium-high speed until beginning to thicken. Then slowly add the powdered sugar with the machine still running. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
  9. Frost the cooled cupcakes with the cream frosting, either by spreading with a knife or by piping on top.
Makes ~18 cupcakes

Pasta with Clams & Sausage

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On Instagram a few weeks back, The Kitchn announced that they were creating a virtual cookbook club (ie: a book club, but with cookbooks…). I got really excited! I love cookbooks, trying new recipes, and getting inspired from different sources, but honestly sometimes I’m a little lazy about it. Frankly, a lot of times it’s easier to browse Pinterest or google “what should I make for dinner tonight?” I always am telling myself that I need to use my cookbooks more and trying to reign myself in from buying all the beautiful new ones. So, I joined The Kitchn Cookbook Club and have been eagerly awaiting the announcement of the first selection. And finally it arrived!

The first book selected was Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat. I was excited, like most of the group – Salt Fat Acid Heat has become a little bit of a cultural phenomenon. Ms. Nosrat now has a Netflix show, a column in the NYT magazine, and obviously a very popular book! This cookbook is less of a cookbook than most. It’s mostly an educational manual of food science with recipes and some general guidelines. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book – I learned a lot about some of the science of cooking! Honestly, I need to reread some of it to get these principles ingrained in my head even better. Now for my unpopular opinion – I found it a little disappointing as a cookbook. And really, she’s not going for traditional cookbook here so maybe that’s the point. But I was hoping for a bit more in terms of recipes. None the less, I really enjoyed the recipe I selected and had fun making it!

{Side note: if you’re interested in participating in the cookbook club, you can either request to join the FB group “Kitchn’s Cookbook Club,” or use/follow the hashtag #kitchncookbookclub on Instagram.}

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I love clams and have always loved traditional spaghetti alle vongole! My favorite part of the recipe section of the book is the fact that she shares variations of many of the recipes – the addition of the sausage was a variation that sounded excellent to me! I made a handful of adjustments, based on our tastes and my laziness (only cooking the clams one way instead of two). Most dramatically, I made homemade pasta, which was delicious in this recipe, but definitely makes it more of a two person endeavor and adds to your cooking time. [If you don’t want to make your own pasta with this recipe – skip all of the pasta-making steps, cook it in boiling water until just less than al dente, and then add it to the sauce as below.] I also added the lemon zest and omitted the lemon juice, added a little Aleppo pepper, and cooked the sausage in a separate pan. I was concerned that the sausage would release too much fat if I kept it in the main pot, but it probably would have been fine in retrospect. I really loved this dish! It has a great briny flavor without being too salty! I think I did a good job with all of the elements and can definitely see why she uses this recipe in the book about salt, fat, acid, and heat! They were all in beautiful harmony here!

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Pasta with Clams & Sausage

(Adapted from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat)
Ingredients: 
  • Pasta
    • 2 cups AP flour
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Clams & Sausage
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, diced & reserving the root ends
    • 1 bunch parsley (3 whole sprigs & 1/4 cup finely chopped)
    • 4 lb littleneck clams
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 1/2 lb ground spicy Italian sausage
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
    • 1 lemon, zested
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 2oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
    • Salt & pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare the pasta: on a clean, dry counter-top or in a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt and form it into a volcano (a mound with a crater scooped out in the middle). Crack the eggs into that center well/crater.
  2. Using a fork, slowly mix the egg into the flour. Try to keep the eggs within the crater, pulling in more and more flour. (If you fail, don’t worry, life will go on.) Once the egg is mixed into the flour enough that it’s not trying to run away anymore, switch to use your hands. Fold together until well combined. Now add the olive oil.
  3. Continue kneading the dough, stretching and folding, for at least 5 and up to 10 minutes. By this point, the dough should be smoother and elastic, so that you can form into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, and up to two hours.
  4. Once the dough has set, roll out and divide into quarters. Using the pasta roller attachment on the stand mixer, flatten out (to #5 if using KitchenAid’s model). Let the flattened dough rest on a floured surface.
  5. Cut into spaghetti (or linguine or whatever pasta shape you desire). [Follow your particular pasta roller/cutter’s instructions for doing these things.] Tip: keep your hands and the surface of the dough lightly floured during this process.
  6. Now get to work on the clams/sausage/sauce. In one pan, cook the sausage until cooked through. Then remove to the side and drain of excess oil.
  7. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat in another large pan. Add the root ends of the onion, 3 sprigs of parsley, and one layer of clams. Pour in the white wine and cover. Steam for 3-4 minutes, until clams open.
  8. Remove the clams to the side with tongs or a slotted spoon and repeat until all of the clams are cooked. Discard any clams that do not open.
  9. Strain cooking liquid and set aside. Once the clams are cool enough to handle, remove from shells and coarsely chop. Place the chopped clams into the cooking liquid.
  10. Now, generously salt and bring another pot of water to a boil.
  11. Rinse the pan, then heat another 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced onion, a pinch of salt, and several turns of fresh ground black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes. Follow this with the garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for just another 2 minutes.
  12. Now return the chopped clams and liquid to the pan, along with the lemon zest and sausage. Allow to cook together for 5 minutes over medium heat and then taste.
  13. Once the pot of water is boiling, add the noodles and cook for only 1-2 minutes. After this time, move the noodles into the pan with the clams, sausage, and liquid. (Reserve the pasta water.) Allow the noodles to continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring to coat the noodles with the liquid and spread out the. Add additional pasta water if needed to keep it nice and juicy.
  14. Taste and adjust for salt, acid, and spiciness as desired. Add butter and Parmesan cheese, stir them to melt and coat the pasta.
  15. Serve topped with chopped parsley and more Parmesan if desired.
Serves 4-6

Lemony Chicken & Orzo

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After I typed up the recipe portion of this recipe, I looked up at our most recent posts and apparently we’re going a little overboard with the lemon (Lemon Blueberry Muffins, Lemon Blueberry Skillet Cake)! So sorry, but we’re featuring lemons again tonight. This is one of those recipes that got passed around because it’s just so good! My sister saw it on Half Baked Harvest and made it for my parents earlier this summer. My mom thought it was so good (and easy!) that she decided to make it for us in the week or so after we came home with the baby. We loved it too and now I have to add it to my repertoire (and share it on here…)

It’s a great dish that feels a little fancier than what we normally have on weeknights, but really isn’t that much work! It uses one pot and takes maybe 30 or 40 minutes to completely come together. And your protein, starch, and vegetable are all right there in the one pot! Win, win, win!

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Lemony Chicken & Orzo

(Adapted from the always delicious Half Baked Harvest)
Ingredients: 
  • 2+ tbsp neutral oil
  • 4 (bone-in, skin-on) chicken thighs
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bunch kale, destemmed & roughly torn
  • 2 lemons (1 zested & juiced, 1 sliced)
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Generously season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp oil in cast iron skillet, dutch oven, or another stove & oven – safe dish over medium-high heat. Once hot, sear the chicken thighs, starting with the skin-side, for ~5 minutes on each side. Then remove the chicken to the side.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium. [If there isn’t enough oil/chicken grease, add another tbsp. We had plenty!] Add the garlic and orzo and cook, tossing frequently, for just 2-3 minutes.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Follow this with the chicken stock, lemon juice, lemon zest, and kale. You might have to add the kale in batches, pushing them into the liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil.
  5. Return the chicken to the pan. Nestle them into the liquid with the skin exposed and top with lemon slices. Place in the oven and cook for 15 – 20 minutes.
  6. Serve topped with an additional sprinkle of salt if desired.
Serves 4