Quick Lentil Garlic Sausage Cassoulet

I like to think of this as a cassoulet for cheaters. It takes nearly no time at all compared to the traditional fare that would take probably three days just to get the beans softened, then seeking out handmade sausage and duck confit. This was a fairly simple, cheap rendition – and no, not nearly quite as delicious but if you’re not going to make the real stuff, you might as well enjoy a variation.

1 can lentils
1/2 lb bacon – fried and chopped
1 medium onion, minced
2-3 medium carrots, diced
pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 lb garlic sausage or kielbasa cut on a diagonal (about 1/3″ thick)
2 cups breadcrumbs combined with 2  tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven 350F. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add minced onion, carrots, celery, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir occasionally until vegetables are soft and lightly coloured, 7-8 minutes. Add garlic, sage and thyme, and stir 1 minute. Transfer to oven-proof pot or casserole dish with lentils and chopped bacon.

Distribute sausage evenly over lentils (or stir in, as you like). Top with breadcrumbs, cover with lid/foil and bake, about 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 10 minutes.

Sorry no photos – I made this over the short time I had lost my iPhone 😦 but for pics and the full recipe, see Bon Appetit.


Mushroom Fig Rouladen

I went to every butcher in the neighbourhood looking for a quality piece of rouladen. I was shocked when no one knew what it was, much less what cut of meat it was or how to even go about producing one (a flattened cut of top round, so I now know). Sadly, and ironically, Safeway is the only place that has them but also includes them as part of their regular beef section, so there must be demand for it?

Disappointment aside, they were also on sale so I bought more than I maybe should have and wasn’t really prepared to eat 14 meals of the same pickle, mustard, onion, bacon stuffed dish. So I found something new. I figured, it’s just beef… why not fill it with something else? Ooooh. Smart, I know 🙂

And so mushroom fig rouladen was born… and still packaged away in my freezer because, let’s face it, after three meals of anything, it’s been done and needs to just hang out for a few months until my tastebuds and my stomach are ready to bear it again.

8 rouladen
2 lbs mushrooms (you can use any but I like shittake because they hold up better and give a sweet, earthy flavour)
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp fresh sage
salt and pepper
1/2 lb dark figs

Saute mushrooms with butter and garlic until mushrooms are browned. Add thyme, sage, s & p, and figs and mix well. Remove from pan. Add stuffing to rouladen and roll. Fold in the ends at the start of your roll but don’t worry about securing it (often recipes say use toothpicks, etc. but they hold together pretty well). Reheat pan with grapeseed oil to med-high and cook rouladen.

Deglaze pan with 1/4 cup red wine, 2 plus cups of beef/veggie stock (I just use veggie stock for everything – it’s easy and most versatile), 1/4 cup flour (mixed with some stock before adding) and 1 tbsp dijon mustard.

I put it on some pasta noodles with a side of rot kohl and baked squash but if you can find spaetzle, I highly recommend.

Source: I started here but I couldn’t actually say this was the recipe I followed, besides maybe the gravy.


Scallops on Potato, Garlic and Kale Mash

This warm, wintery dish is a beautiful blend of flavours and textures, with the grainy mashed potato (with UBC Farm garlic), the bright, firm kale, and the smooth freshness of local Qualicum Bay scallops. True, I’m still using UBC garlic that I bought back in September (maybe October?). It’s dried to preserve it for months (although they’ll say 4-6 weeks) and I’ll admit, it started to sprout in January but it’s still a million times better than what you’ll find in most grocery stores.

6 leaves fresh kale
3/4 cup chicken or veggie stock

1 1/2 lbs young potatoes
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp warm milk or more stock
salt and pepper

2 tbsp grapeseed oil
20 large Qualicum Bay scallops
1/2 cup dry riesling
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
2 green onions

Trim leaves of kale of tough stems. Cut in half lengthwise and slice widthwise, about 1/4″.Bring 3/4 cup stock to simmer in wide skillet. Add kale and cook until just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Boil potatoes and garlic until cooked. (There’s a whole paragraph on this in my recipe… seriously. If you’ve never made mashed potatoes before, this blog isn’t for you.) Add butter, milk/stock, kale and its cooking liquid, salt and pepper to taste.

Season scallops with salt and pepper. Place oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Sear scallops on each side, until just cooked and browning. Place scallops on a plate.

Deglaze with white wine and simmer to reduce by half. Add cream and reduce until lightly thickened. Add green onions, mustard, salt and pepper. Voila.

Source: EAT magazine, Jan/Feb 2010


Pumpkin Spice Chèvre Cheesecake

I had a sugar pie pumpkin to use up and a giant, Costco-sized round of Saltspring Island chevre… What to do but make cheesecake!? Only basically my favourite thing in the world… Be warned though – I’m not sure if it was the cake itself, or the gingersnap, pecan crust (but probably both), I had the most wicked bout of heartburn in my life and had to give most of the cake away.

1/4lb gingersnaps
1/3 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 lb cream cheese (substitute chevre – room temperature)
3 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup pecan halves
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven 350F. The recipe says grease the pan but really, with that crust, do you need to? I think not.
Add gingersnaps, pecan halves, brown sugar and melted butter in a food processor and pulse to combine. Transfer to 9″ springform pan and using your fingers, pat the mixture into the bottom and evenly up the sides. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

Mix brown sugar and spices. In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy (electric mixer recommended – I’ve never had such a good workout…). Add brown sugar mixture and beat until smooth. Add in eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Add pumpkin and beat until smooth. Pour batter onto chilled crust.

Bake until set or until knife inserted in the centre comes out clean – about 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Set aside 10 pecan halves and coarsely chop the remaining. In a skillet, over med-high heat, melt the butter, add all pecans, and sprinkle with sugar, stirring until sugar melts and nuts are toasted and caramel coated. Transfer to a plate and let cool (ensuring your 10 halves are not sticking to other pieces). Just before serving, sprinkle chopped pecans over cheesecake and arrange halves evenly around perimeter.

Source: EAT magazine, Nov/Dec 2009

20130202-101422.jpg pumpkin cheesecake pumpkin cheesecake with sauce


So here is my first attempt at camembert. I think I left it to age a bit long (four weeks, as recommended), but the skin practically melted off its firmer insides and it was so potent with ammonia, I could barely eat it. I did make mac and cheese with it though (using a whole round), which was quite delicious. I have made blue cheese since, and managed to get a smaller curd with better results (less loose and  pocketed) but next time, I’m also going to try just introducing the mould to the formed cheese after salting, and see how it grows.

20130202-101216.jpg 20130202-101229.jpg 20130202-101240.jpg

Sun chokes

So I picked up some sunchokes (or Jerusalem artichokes) from a Squamish farmer at the Farmers Market last Saturday. They are quite delicious – the mild, milky, nutty taste of a regular artichoke, with the texture and consistency of a potato. I simply baked them with a bit of olive oil and salt but using them in future,  I think I’ll puree them, maybe make a nice soup or addition to a seafood chowder. I just found whole frozen pink salmon at Safeway on 2-for-1 (until March 7, I think), so I’ll be making chowder soon…

And while I appreciate that they abound in health benefits, and I do recommend them, they are not to be consumed in mixed company in any large quantity (read, as little as a half cup).

“Sunchokes are very rich in inulin, a carbohydrate linked with good intestinal health due to its prebiotic (bacteria promoting) properties. These health benefits come at a price; the food can have a potent wind-producing effect. Sunchokes also contain vitamin C, phosphorus and potassium and are a very good source of iron.”

No kidding.