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Here I am one post back giving you some notes from my kitchen and I’ve screwed up already.  I got a number of complaints that I put up Steve’s inviting photo of sausage rolls from my December DeGustibus at Macy’s Cooking School class but then I didn’t offer the recipe.  I have now been appropriately chastised so here is the recipe.  It is not my recipe – it belongs to my English friend, Stuart Clarke.  He always serves these yummy rolls pre-dinner with cocktails.  And, always with ketchup – no fancy dipping sauces.  The DeGustibus class was holiday entertaining and I can tell you that not only were these a favorite of our guests, they were a big hit with the kitchen and cocktail crew.  Fortunately, we made a lot of them and were delighted to see every single piece gone by the end of the evening.

 

Makes 18 to 24 small rolls

          You will find some version of these rolls anyplace that the British have put down stakes.  They are snacks, cocktail treats, lunch staples or just a filling treat whenever hunger strikes.  They are quick to put together if you cheat and use ready-made pastry – puff pastry works extremely well – and sausage straight from the market.  You can also make these as large or as small as you want.

 

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out dough

¼ teaspoon salt

6 ounces chilled unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes

½ cup cold water

1 pound pork breakfast sausage

3 tablespoons minced yellow onion

1 tablespoon minced fresh sage

1 teaspoon minced flat leaf parsley

1 large egg

 

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Add the butter and, using quick on and off turns, process until the butter is incorporated into the flour in tiny balls.  With the motor running, slowly drizzle in ½ cup cold water, processing just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  You may not need all the water.

Lightly flour a clean, flat work surface.

Scrape the dough out onto the floured surface.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a large rectangle.  Fold the two smaller ends up toward the center of the dough so that they meet but don’t overlap.  Turn the dough a quarter-turn and again roll out to a rectangle.  Repeat the folding process and then gently form the dough into a plump, but slightly flat circle.  Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Line a baking sheet with a silicon liner or parchment paper.

While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling.

Remove the sausage meat from its casings.  Combine the sausage meat with the onion, sage and parsley in a medium mixing bowl.  Using your hands, smash the seasonings into the meat until well blended.

Place the egg in a small bowl and whisk to blend it well.  Set aside.

Lightly flour a clean, flat work surface.

Place the chilled dough in the center and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a rectangle about 24-inches long and 5-inches wide.

Place the sausage meat down the center of the rectangle.

Using a pastry brush, lightly coat one long side of the dough rectangle with the beaten egg.  Pull the other long side up and over the sausage filling and pat it down onto the egg-washed edge to form a log shape.  Carefully turn the log over so that the seam is on the bottom of the roll.

Using a sharp knife, cut the log, crosswise, into as many 1-inch long pieces as you can.  It should be somewhere between 18 and 24.  Place the pieces on the prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 1-inch between each one.

Using the pastry brush and the remaining egg, lightly coat each roll with egg wash.  Carefully cut 2 slits into the top of the pastry, taking care that you do not cut down into the sausage.  At this point, you may freeze the sausage rolls for up to 3 months.

Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Serve hot.

 

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Watermelon_Radish_Chips_IMG_0415

The other day we were experimenting with egg rolls and dumplings and I remembered that I had some turnips in the back of the fridge.  Why not pickle them for a refreshing crunch with the steamed dumplings and fried egg rolls, thought I.  So I rummaged around in the fridge and found a bag of 5 healthy looking, perfectly round “turnips.”  As I began to trim one, I thought this doesn’t look like a turnip, but I continued to peel it so I could do some paper thin slices on the mandoline.  As I began slicing what should appear but the most beautiful explosion of red in the center.  I didn’t have turnips at all but watermelon radishes.  I had to find my grocery recipe just to check if I had completely lost it and there it was turnips @ $1.99 a pound.  Felt a little saner, but by then I had lost my interest in pickling.  So, before I fried the egg rolls, I decided to fry the radish slices and make some salty chips to accent our Asian treats.  You know what – they were sweet and crisp and made a perfect accompaniment.  But I still have 4 radishes left to pickle and that will happen on another day.

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potato_2220

            Although I hadn’t eaten a potato croquette in years nor had I made one either, I decided to use some leftover mashed potatoes to create some crispy tater tots to accompany some steaks I was cooking up.  Many years ago there was a small Italian restaurant, Capri, in Manhattan’s theater district that served extraordinary croquettes – usually with a beautiful veal chop.  Theirs were so light and delicate that they seemed impossible to replicate at home so I didn’t even try.  They only came back to my sensory memory when I bit into my version.  Not fluffy, not terribly light, and certainly not delicate.  But, they tasted pretty good.  Now that they are back on the menu I’ll try to refine my recipe – I promised Steve that I’ll get to light and delicate.

Here’s what I did:

I had about 2½ cups of cold mashed potatoes to which I added 2 large eggs, ¾ cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons of flour.  I beat the mix until very well combined and then seasoned with salt and pepper.  I whisked 2 eggs with a bit of milk in one shallow bowl, put about 3 cups of lightly salted bread crumbs in another, and then Wondra flour in a third.  I formed the potato mixture into logs – they were much too big I realized – and then dipped the logs into the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally into the breadcrumbs.  I fried them in olive oil and dusted them with sea salt at the finish.  If I’d used freshly made dry potatoes that I’d pushed through a food mill, formed the mix into smaller logs, and fried them a little bit less, I think they would have been the light and delicate croquettes I remembered.  I’ll ace it next time.

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grape leaf

 

Sarah Afana, who had come to New York to go to culinary school, came to me some time ago as an intern to help us on a couple of projects.  She quickly went from being an intern to being “the boss.”  Not only can she cook, she is an unbelievable baker, a whiz on the computer, and far more organized than I have ever been.  I don’t know what we’d do without her.
Earlier this year, she brought me a jar of grape leaves that had been canned by her family on their ranch in California.  I kept saying “we have to make stuffed grape leaves” but, until this past week, the job was left undone.  And, guess who did it…Sarah, of course.  The end result was delicious and very unlike any commercially canned I had tasted.  Here’s Sarah’s recipe along with some photos of her at work.    You can have the recipe, but you can’t have Sarah!

½ pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, finely diced
1 small carrot, peeled, trimmed, and finely diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
About 30 canned grape leaves, rinsed and dried or about 30 fresh leaves
1 lemon, preferably organic, cut, crosswise, into thin slices
3-5 cups chicken stock or canned  nonfat, low-sodium chicken broth
Juice of 1 lemon

Combine the ground beef with the onion, carrot, garlic, rice, pine nuts, parsley, and mint in a large mixing bowl.  Add the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, mixing to evenly distribute.
Working with one leaf at a time, lay a leaf, vein side up, on a clean, flat work surface.  Place about 1 tablespoon of the meat filling at the widest end of the leaf just below the center.  Fold the leaf up and over the filling and tuck in the sides.  Then, roll the leaf up and over the filling to make a neat, cigar-like roll.  As finished, place the stuffed leaf in a large Dutch oven, seam side down.
Continue stuffing the leaves until you have used up all of the filling.  Pack the stuffed leaves tightly into the Dutch oven.  You don’t want to leave any space between them as this will held hold them firmly in place.
When all of the leaves are filled, lay the lemon slices over the top.
Combine 3 cups of the stock with the lemon juice.  Pour the stock mixture over the leaves to cover by about ½-inch.  Add more chicken stock, if necessary.
Cover the leaves with a heavy lid or heat-proof dinner plate to keep them from rising as they cook.  Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 35 minutes or until the rice and meat filling is thoroughly cooked, adding adding additional stock if necessary.
Remove from the heat and set aside to rest for at least 20 minutes, still weighted.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

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grape leaf3

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