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I am lucky enough to have a wonderful friendly neighborhood farmer who occasionally offers to his inner circle fine items he makes from his pastured meats like bacon, bratwurst and sausage. Recently I got a few pounds of an amazing somewhat hot Italian sausage that he made. At the same time, I ended up in possession of a large number of red, orange and yellow bell peppers (Sprouts had a sale on not-so-perfect but organic peppers).

There was only one thing to do.

Of course if I was going to make sausage and peppers I needed something to display them on. It had to be a potato, and for the most eye pleasing plating, they needed to be turned into hash browns. Welcome to the most delicious sausage and peppers ever. It’s simple and it’s satisfying. You’re welcome.

sausagepeppers

KKF Sausage & Peppers with Hash Browns

1 pound of the best quality sausage links you can get your hands on (raw)*

2 large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)

4 bell peppers (mix of red, yellow and orange), thinly sliced

4 T butter

2 T olive oil

1 T garlic powder

1 T onion powder

2 t paprika

salt & pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil and simmer the sausages for about 30 minutes. Shred the potatoes in your food processor. Move the spuds to a large bowl and stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and a little salt and pepper (you can always add more later.) Melt 2 T of the butter in a cast iron pan over high heat and add the oil. Spread the potato mix over the fat and cover. Let it sit, undisturbed for about five minutes, then reduce heat to low and give it another 8-10 minutes until the potatoes are mostly soft. Cover and set aside.

In another cast iron pan melt another 2 T of butter. When it is nice and hot add the sausage and brown them up on all sides. I usually let them go about two minutes or so, then roll them until they are brown and crunchy looking all the way around. Move to a cutting board and let them cool. In the leftover butter and juices from the sausages, add your sliced peppers. (You can add more fat if needed but usually what’s left is sufficient.) Sauté the peppers with about a half a teaspoon of salt until they are just softened.

While your peppers are cooking and your sausages are cool enough to touch, slice them on the diagonal in about one inch slices. When the peppers are done, add the sausages back to the pan and heat through.

To serve, layer a serving of hash browns (crunchy side up if you please) on the plate and pile peppers and sausage medallions on top. Delicious!
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*This is the most important element of this recipe. Your sausage and peppers will only be as good as your sausages.

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So for all the recipes I try and food that I make at home, you would think that I’d done a brisket before.

Nope.

Not a single brisket had ever graced my freezer, refrigerator or oven…until today. Now all I can think about it how do I get me another one. I emailed my farmer and was like “Hey…yeah…how’s going? Brisket. Thanks for the beef last brisket. You have anything left in your brisket like maybe some brisket? HELP ME!”

I don’t even have a picture because it was gone in like 10 minutes. Moist, tender, savory, falling apart deliciousness. No sugar, too, which is awesome for low carbers! I used Tyler Florence’s recipe here. Only change I made is that I did not use carrots – celery and onion only – and I turned down the heat to about 300. The first time I basted it seemed too hot for me. So 300 for almost 4 hours was perfect.

The veggies were pretty dead by the end of the cooking time, so I just strained them out and chucked them. They were all they could be contributing to the sauce.

So get yourself a grass fed brisket and get on with it already! Don’t deprive yourself for years like I did. Take a lesson from KKF – neglecting brisket is a kung faux pas!!

 

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You know it’s a busy semester when I don’t even have time to post blogs I’ve had written for a few months….whew! But it will be over soon. In the meantime, enjoy some eggplant….

Baba Ganoush

About a week after I made the Mahkloubeh lamb I had more eggplant to use and decided to give in and try the baba ghanouj. It was something I’d thought about doing for a good while and just never got around to. I should be slapped for waiting so long. Sara’s recipe is easy and so yummy, again I ate the whole thing. Not all at once. I used more Asain eggplant as I rarely see the traditional large supermarket version of eggplant in my CSA or at the farmer’s market. 

Baba Ghanoush

 1 large eggplant ( roasted whole over a charcoal grill fire, baked in an oven until it is thoroughly cooked. )

2-3 garlic cloves

1 cup tahini

½ cup lemon juice

¼ cup vinegar

salt to taste

These amounts are approximate and the best way is to try it and taste, then balance the flavor.

Process peeled garlic, salt, and lemon juice in food processor or blender until thoroughly mixed. Take peeling off the cooked eggplant and process. Add the tahini and blend. Doing this in the food processor will leave the seeds of the egg plant whole but if the blender is used the seeds are ground up. Add vinegar and if it is too thick add water to reach the right consistency. Serve in rather flat dish with olive oil, parsley and thin radish slices for garnish. Dip pita bread.

(This same basic recipe can be used for Humus by substituting Garbanzo beans for eggplant.) 

I plan to use this version for hummus the next time I make it. YUM.

But I wasn’t satisfied leaving this tasty spread on the side. A friend of ours provided us with some wahoo fish that he caught and I thought hmmm…what if…

Usually when I go off like that it ends badly. This time, however, it turned out quite well!

Mediterranean Wahoo with Baba Ghanouj

¾ pound wahoo filets (I’m sure any similar firm-fleshed fish would also work)

2 T butter

One lemon

1 T dried oregano

Baba Ghanouj

Feta cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Season fish on both sides with salt and pepper. (I try to bring my fish to room temp before cooking so it can cook more evenly.) Melt butter in frying pan. When pan is good and hot, add fish. Squeeze lemon halves over the fish. (Roll the lemon with your palm against the counter to get it loosened up and release more juice before cutting it in half.) Sprinkle on half the oregano. Turn fish after about 3-4 minutes depending on thickness and add the rest of the oregano. Fry another few minutes until done.

Plate with baba ghanouj and sprinkle feta cheese over all.

Wahoo with baba ganoush and veggies

I served mine with buttered green beans and carrots that I’d steamed with fresh dill. If I’d had some fresh tomatoes I would have tossed them in the pan with the fish.

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Since I’ve moved to the South, I’ve heard some interesting colloquialisms. One of these is “you put your foot in it.” Apparently this phrase has nothing to do with hygiene and everything to do with cooking up something that makes folks wanna slap their mama. So when someone tells you that you put your foot in, you say thank you. Or you say, “Oh, it was my pleasure, honey.”

While I was growing up on the Iowa farm, my husband spent his early formative years in Germany at Han Air Force Base. This time heavily influenced him and he’s been a German food lover all his life. One of these loves is schnitzel.

A few years ago I couldn’t have told you what a schnitzel was, only that test subject Bill loved them. Then recently we found a German restaurant close to home that serves up authentic German cuisine and he was able to indulge his schnitzel fantasies. I don’t really eat meat if I’m unsure of its origin (and if I don’t know, it probably came from a CAFO, which is not my style) but I had to have a taste of this pounded, breaded piece of meat that I heard about for the past nine years of marriage. So I sampled off of his plate.

Oh. My. God. Shut your mouth. I considered making an exception to my no CAFO meat rule. I still may do so. It was fan-frickin-tabulous. Crunchy and salty yet tender and moist. Heck yeah, this is something I could dig. I understood at long last Bill’s schnitzel obsession.

After that experience, making schnitzel myself has been on my mind. I found a good looking recipe. I had some Nature’s Harmony Farm pork chops in the freezer I could cut up and use. Finally I decided it was schnitzel time.

The process is fairly simple: pound your meat nice and thin. Heat your fat in the pan. Dredge the flat pork in the flour mix, give it a quick coat of egg wash, then dredge in bread crumbs (I used panko). Fry for 3-4 minutes per side. And for once, it actually was that easy.

flat pork and my new pounder

However, first I needed something to pound the pork with. My little wooden pounder I used for sauerkraut was not going to cut it. I needed something substantial. So I was forced to make a trip up to Williams-Sonoma. At first I thought I was out of luck, but a helpful employee assisted me in locating the perfect meat pounder. It’s heavy. It’s shiny. It can switch sides between flat and spiky. If Heaven’s host came to my house to cook, they would use this pounder to make schnitzel.

With my heavenly new pounder at hand, I proceeded to cut the bones out of the pork chops. It went faster and easier than I thought. When it came time for pounding, my new tool did the job in a matter of moments. A few quick pounds and my former pork chops were nearly see-though. Right on. Note to self: wear an apron next time…splattering raw pork is not an accessory.

Schnitzel assembly line

I followed the recipe pretty closely. At the suggestion of my friend Cathy (of Steak and Guinness Pie fame) I added nutmeg to the flour and salt mixture. As I mentioned, I used panko crumbs. I also used smoked paprika in lieu of regular paprika. (Love that stuff). For the oil for frying, I used half butter and half olive oil, although I may use lard next time. I tried to make the dill sauce that the recipe uses but something happened to my sauce and it didn’t come together. Maybe because I used yogurt cheese instead of sour cream. Ah, well. It didn’t end up making a difference.

Dredging, egging and dredging again, the flattened pork became dinner. The schnitzels fried up perfectly at about three minutes per side. The first ones out of the pan were the definition of golden brown and delicious. I noted that I needed about twice the oil/butter that the recipe called for in order to have proper browning. Note for next time – reoil the pan between batches.

With my hard work nearly complete, it was time for the taste test. I crunched. I munched. I melted into the kitchen floor. It was beautiful. It was buttery, savory and delicious. It was tender. I PUT MY FOOT IN IT!!

Pork schnitzel with forgettable zucchini and spaghetti squash sides

So enamored with my schnitzel was I that I completely forgot to serve my sauerkraut with it. It was all I could do to hold myself together while I chewed. Pork schnitzel is….the second best thing I ever made.

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When I was home in Iowa for Christmas, a very sleepy baby took a long nap in my lap. A few months later, her mom supplied me with a couple of recipes that will become staples in the KKF household. Little Hannah will eat well as she grows up, this I am sure!

I’m not sure how we got on the subject, but Sara gave me a recipe for Mahkloubeh and Baba Ghanouj/Baba Ghanoush. Maybe it was all the eggplant I was getting from my CSA. Anyway, the recipe sat in my “Recipes” folder for a long time until I was looking for something to do with the one pound of ground lamb in my freezer.

I had never had lamb before. I ordered it from my CSA on a whim, then let it sit there for a number of months (a KKF habit). It turned out for the best, because this recipe made great use of the lamb and I ate the whole thing (not all at once).

Mahkloubeh (Upside Down Meat Dish)

1 lbs, cubed or ground meat (beef, lamb, chicken, turkey)(I’ve made it with beef and venison, the lamb is good too, but I have never personally cooked it with lamb)

2 Medium onions chopped

1 Eggplant or small head of cauliflower

2 Cups rice (long grain or basmati)

4 cups boiling water

½ cup pine nuts

salt and pepper to taste

Slice eggplant I ½” slices and peel (break cauliflower into flowerets. With a little oil brown the eggplant slices or the cauliflower and set aside. Cook onion in oil until soft but not brown, Put meat into pan with onions and brown meat. Place meat/onion mixture in Dutch oven or other heavy pan with straight sides. Arrange eggplant slices or cauliflower on top0 of meat mixture and cover with rice. Add salt and pepper then the water and bring to boil then simmer on low heat for 45 minutes. DO NOT LIFT THE LID. Let stand for about 15 minutes and while it is standing sauté pine nuts in a little butter or oil stirring constantly so as not to burn the nuts.

Turn the pot with the Mahkloubeh upside down on a platter, so the meat is on top and sprinkle pine nuts over the food.

It can be served to eat with plain unflavored yogurt or ketchup on it. (I’ve never had it with ketchup)

Lamby Ricey Eggplanty goodness

I (obviously) used my lamb, I had only one small onion so I used that, several Asian eggplants from the CSA box and 1 ½ cups of rice (adjusted the water to 3 cups due to the rice reduction). This smelled great as it boiled away. It didn’t flip over very pretty but once I started digging in it didn’t matter. Also, I forgot about the pine nuts but I guess it was not a deal breaker since I plowed through it without a second pignoli thought. This was absolutely delicious and so simple. I had a little lamb…and it was tasty.

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Gimme Guinness Pie

When my friend Cathy first posted her famous Steak and Guinness Pie recipe, I thought it sounded fantastic. But really I had no idea, no inkling, not a single clue of the bacony savory deliciousness that awaited me.

This is Cathy’s recipe as it was given to me:

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     Steak and Guinness Pie

     2.2 lb Round Steak (stew cubes)
     1 T Flour
     1 tsp Brown Sugar
     5 Onions, chopped
     300 ml Guinness
     ½ pkg Bacon (I use almost a whole one)
     Chopped Parsley
     Deep Pie Crust (Pillsbury is best)

     Time for cooking and prep: 3-3 ½ hours
     Oven Temp 350*

     Cut steak into bite-sized cubes, roll in seasoned flour (flour, parsley).  Cut bacon into tiny pieces, cook and when at desired crispness add onion and beef until browned. Do not drain, unless it’s absolutely not your style. Place meat mix into deep casserole dish, add and mix in raisins (optional, makes for a sweeter taste 1 handful) and brown sugar. Pour in Guinness, cover dish lightly. Bake for 2 ½ hours in oven at 350* or simmer on low heat on stove top same time. Stir occasionally and add more Guinness as needed if gravy gets too thick. Line pie dish with ½ crust, bake it for 3-5 minutes without adding mix. Add beef mix, cover with other ½ pie crust and bake for 10 more minutes. Serve after cooling for a while, extremely hot! If you prefer a more sweet pie, use Murphy’s Irish Stout instead.

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Now for my changes (just because that’s how I am).  I used half pork stew cubes and half beef stew cubes. Partly because that’s what I had and partly because test subject Bill loves pork. I used about 12 ounces of my own homemade bacon (which is now gone, need to smoke some more….) I didn’t have parsley so I used a little bit of par-cel that I got in my CSA box. I did not use the raisins. And finally, since I’m Kitchen Kung Fu, I made the pie crust rather than used a purchased one (as per Chicken 3 1/2 ways).

I have to tell you, when I was staring down that ginormous pile of chopped onions I was thinking this is never going to work. This is going to be onion pie. Test subject Bill will ask me how to spell irroconcilable differences. But Cathy’s recipe was a classic, so I kept going. Cutting up all that bacon was a chore, but I was sure I was going to be rewarded. I did pour some of the resulting grease out of the pan, but only because my pork side that I made the bacon out of happened to be particularly fatty and there was a LOT of fat.

While I had the meat and onion mixture simmering on the stove, I got to work blending my flour and butter and salt for the crust. I knew there was no way I would be able to fit all that filling in a regular pie plate so I opted for a rectangular casserole dish, and I’m glad I did. I still couldn’t fit all the mix in when it came time to add. No worries, it didn’t go to waste.

Guinness Pie from Heaven

 As usual, I laid the bottom crust, baked at 350 for about ten minutes. Then I added the filling and the top crust and baked it for about another 15 minutes, maybe a little longer. I think it took longer because the size of my pie was bigger and the top crust was still a little cold. But when it was finally done a picture perfect golden brown and delicious meat pie emerged from the oven. It smelled the way a warm blanket on a winter evening feels.

While we didn’t think we could wait to dive in, we had to. We wrapped up the tempting finished pie and drove over to our friends’ house to share it with them. I figured the last thing I needed was a whole Steak and Guinness pie being added to my behind, so I should go have it added to multiple behinds.

To say it was a hit is a woefully sad understatement. Seconds were a given. The crust was a hit. The bacony, beefy, porky, not-offensive-oniony filling was a spiritual experience. Tender, just the right saltiness, and mixed with the crust…it cannot be properly expressed in the English language. I could have died then and there and have been satisfied. If I was carrying a piece of this pie, I would be able to get in the express line for heaven. Angels would be jealous.

I think this might be the best thing I ever made.

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Cooking With Heart

And I don’t mean that metaphorically. I saw a blog post a while back  about grilled beef heart, which emboldened me to try heart if I got the chance. As luck would have it, I did. Nature’s Harmony Farm had some odds and ends for sale as add-ons to the monthly CSA so I decided to go for it.

Honestly, the heart sat in my deep freeze for a long time. It was big. It was scary-looking. It was kind of funky. But eventually the guilt got to me and I put it in the fridge to thaw. In the mean time, I searched out some recipes calling for heart.

I settled on Beef Heart Braised in Red Wine .  It called for wine, after all, how bad could it be? With much trepidation, I removed the heart from the package and stared at it for a while. It was kind of like a train wreck, grotesque yet I couldn’t look away. How the heck am I going to cut up this monstrosity, I wondered.

The recipe said to trim off excess fat and – um – arteries. There didn’t seem to be much for arteries left on my heart, but there was a ton of fat. I felt kind of bad cutting off all that good pastured fat, but I was following the recipe and catering to test subject Bill, who doesn’t like to see or bite into a whole lot of fat.

I trimmed and trimmed and trimmed until I was satisfied, then as the recipe called for, I cut the heart in half, then sliced it. In case I forgot exactly what I was cutting up, I sliced through a portion that looked like a bunch of small arteries. That was kind of cool, in a Discovery Channel kind of way.

I dredged the heart pieces in flour and into a buttered frying pan they went. The recipe said that they should fry for 30-45 second per side, but I couldn’t even fit all the pieces in the pan at one time so I worked as fast as I could. Using my homemade beef stock and CSA box carrots, I added the rest of the ingredients and left it to simmer. It smelled fantastic!

Heart sliced...with artery example

It didn’t make a thickened sauce as much as I’d expected with the wine, beef stock and flour so it was a little thin. Wary of some comments on the recipe about the strong flavor not being for the faint of heart – um, hehe – I took my first taste. It required chewing but it wasn’t rubbery, which was good, and I didn’t think the flavor was that strong or undesirable, although it maybe did have a bit of an after taste. Test subject Bill said it reminded him of liver. (I wouldn’t know because I’ve never had liver. I know, I know…it’s on my list.)

 Test subject Bill went back for seconds, so I count it as a success. If I happen upon a heart again, though, I think I may use the crock pot to try to make it a little

Beef Heart Braised in Red Wine

more tender. I wonder how it would be with this homemade barbecue sauce I made recently…

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