Monday, September 27, 2010

I find most themed months to be dumb. October as "National Pizza Month" is an exception.

Just a couple of recipes to enjoy now that it actually feels like fall...

Mushroom-Sausage Ragu
I found this in the latest Food & Wine magazine. Although I haven't actually tried it yet, it seems like something I would love (I really enjoy mushrooms, polenta [If anyone has a good polenta recipe, please let me know], and water chestnuts). I'll report back.
Servings: 4

1 cup dried morel mushrooms
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 sweet Italian sausages
1/2 pound shitake caps, quartered
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 thinly sliced shallots
6 water chestnuts, sliced 1/4" thick
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Soak the morels in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water until softened. Rinse and pat dry; reserve the soaking liquid. In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp. of the oil. Add the sausages, cover and cook over moderate heat until no longer pink within; slice 1/4" thick. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet. Add the shitake, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the shallots and morels; cover and cook for 4 minutes. Add the water chestnuts. Pour in the morel soaking liquid. Add the sausages and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Off the heat, swirl in the butter and sprinkle with parsley. Serve over polenta.

Butternut & Sweet Potato Bisque
I posted this recipe a couple of months ago, but the 65 degree weather begs for a reprint.
Servings: 4

1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 medium sweet potato, cooked, peeled and cubed (I used new potatoes)
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 tbsp. minced fresh ginger (I used dry)
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375. Cut squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds and gooey stuff (as if cleaning a pumpkin). Sprinkle butter or olive oil, salt and pepper on both halves. Put about an inch of water in a baking pan and then place squash, cut side up, in the pan. Bake for about 75 minutes. If using sweet potato, cook at the same time (since I used the small, red new potatoes, I just peeled and cooked them on the stove top about 40 minutes into the squash cook time). 2. When the squash and sweet potato have cooled a bit, scoop out the good stuff and put the peelings in the compost pile.

3. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown. I also added celery...just because I really like celery.

4. Add squash, sweet potato, corn, ginger, brown sugar, coriander, salt, pepper, and 3 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until squash is tender (15-20 minutes).

5. With slotted spoon, transfer solids to food processor or blender and process to a smooth puree. Return puree to saucepan and stir to blend with liquid remaining in pan. Serve hot. (You might consider adding sour cream, cheese, fresh herbs, or cream fraiche on top).

And on those nights that you opt for a homemade or delivery pizza, try these pairings:

Rosato + Vegetables: A vegetable topping makes for a fairly light slice - even with all that cheese - so go with a lighter side of wine. Rosato (the Italian term for dry rose) is a tasty choice.

Pinot Noir + Mushrooms: There's no better pairing than Pinot and mushrooms - they're all about earth and spice. A little oregano makes the match even better.

Barbera + Fresh Tomatoes: Barbera, a medium-bodied red from Italy's Piedmont, is berry-bright and only moderately tannic (I think this means "acidic")- great with fresh tomatoes and herbs.

Chianti + Prosciutto Arugula: Good Chianti is savory and spicy, so it's good with salty cured meats like prosciutto or peppery greens - or both together.

Primitivo + Pepperoni: Big southern Italian reds like Primitivo are juicy and full-bodied, just the wines for a classic slice like this one.

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