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Category Archives: October
Italian Sausage With Green Peppers And Mushrooms For Sandwiches
A few weeks ago at a picnic, I had the most exquisite sandwich of Italian sausage and peppers and have not been able to stop thinking about that sandwich! A family friend served two slow cookers full of absolutely delectable sausage and peppers — one hot, one mild — along with baskets of those Italian rolls that are perfectly crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside. Seriously, I can’t stop thinking about how amazing that sandwich was!
I am so grateful that Jean shared her Italian sausage and peppers recipe. To me, what makes her recipe so special is that she adds mushrooms. These mushrooms add an unexpected dimension to the sandwich. Also, she adds her bell peppers at the last moment, which maintains their firm texture and distinctive flavor.
These sandwiches are delicious alone or served with a slice of provolone or mozzarella cheese.
Please note that the roll pictured here is not the crusty roll mentioned earlier. The store was out of them and these were the best rolls available today. I’ll plan ahead next time!
Italian Sausage And Peppers
From the Kitchen of Jean D’Angelo Kovach
- 1 small onion, whole
- ½ cup finely chopped onions
- ½ cup finely chopped celery
- 3 lbs button mushrooms
- 3 TBS butter
- 6 large green bell peppers, sliced into strips
- 5 lbs hot or mild Italian sausage (in casings or loose)
- extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 ⅓ cup water
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp sugar
- provolone or mozzarella cheese slices (optional)
- crusty Italian sandwich rolls
Yield: 12 – 16 sandwiches (depends on size of rolls)
In a sauté pan, sauté the chopped onions, chopped celery, and the small whole onion in olive oil until translucent. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Clean and slice the mushrooms. Bring a large pot of water to a boil Add the mushrooms to the boiling water and cook for two minutes. Drain the mushrooms immediately and then plunge them into cold water. Allow them to cool for a few minutes. Drain well and then pat them dry with paper towels.
Melt the butter in the sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté for several minutes allowing the moisture to evaporate and the mushrooms to brown. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
Slice the small whole onion (that was previously sautéed) into fine pieces. Add this onion and the bell pepper strips to the sauté pan. Sauté for a few minutes just until the peppers begin to soften. Remove the peppers and onion from the heat. Stir them into the mushrooms and set them aside.
If you are using sausage in casings, remove the meat from the casings and discard the casings. Break the meat up into small pieces with your hands or with a knife. Add some olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium high heat. Add the sausage and fry until well browned. Break up any large sausage pieces with a spatula or by crisscrossing two knives across the pan. Remove from heat and drain the grease drippings.
Transfer the sausage to a large pot. Add the fried onion and celery mixture to the pot. Add the wine, basil, parsley, garlic powder, and the water. Simmer, covered over low heat for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, add the crushed tomatoes, baking soda, and sugar. Stir until combined and simmer on low, covered for 30 minutes.
After the sausage has simmered with the tomatoes for 30 minutes, add the fried mushrooms and peppers to the pot. Simmer another 10 minutes. Add a little water if the mixture is too thick.
Serve the Italian sausage and peppers with crusty Italian sandwich rolls. Add a slice of provolone cheese to each sandwich if desired. This is one Italian sausage sandwich you won’t forget! Buon appetito!
Stuffed Cabbage Recipe (Balandeliai)
Stuffed cabbage has been popular among Eastern Europeans for centuries. A hearty comfort food that warms your body and fills your kitchen with enticing redolence, stuffed cabbage is known by many names.
Lithuanians call it balandėliai, Hungarians call it töltött káposzta, Czech and Slovak cultures call it holupky, and Poles call it golabki. Often referred to as “little doves” or “little pigeons,” my family always called them “blind pigeons,” while still others call them “pigs in the blanket.” Call it what you like, this dish is delicious comfort food!
Our balandeliai stuffed cabbage recipe serves eight to 10 people as a main course. It reheats exceptionally well and may even taste better the second day after the flavors have had a chance to meld together.
Serve it steaming hot in bowls with lots of its tomato sauce and a dollop of sour cream. Don’t forget a loaf of your favorite crusty bread to soak up the sauce!
Blind Pigeons (Balandėliai)
From the Kitchen of Peter Naujalis, 1929 – 1985
- 6.75 lbs ground pork
- 1 large head cabbage
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- ½ cup whole milk
- 3 ribs celery
- 2 medium onions
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 oz. saltine crackers (1 sleeve)
- 7 cups tomato puree
- 9 ¾ cups condensed tomato soup
- 4 cups water
- 2 tsp seasoned salt
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pennycress seed (also known as kolytos; optional)
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- ½ tsp msg
- ½ tsp pepper
- sour cream, for garnish
Yield: serves 8 to 10 as a main course.
With a sharp knife, carefully carve a circle into the center of the cabbage to remove its central core. Discard the core and one outer leaf. Rinse the cabbage under cold water and place it with the hole facing down in a stockpot. Add 4 cups of water to the pot. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, covered for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat, but leave the covered pot on the stove so that the cabbage has additional time to soften. Do not discard the water as
you will use it later.
Add the eggs, evaporated milk, whole milk, and crackers to the
pitcher of a blender and blend until combined. Add the celery, onions, and garlic. Blend on high speed until the mixture is a smooth purée.
Add the ground pork to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the seasoned salt, salt, pennycress seed, marjoram, mustard seed, msg, and pepper over the pork. Blend the seasonings into the pork with your hands until thoroughly mixed and distributed throughout the pork.
Pour the liquid mixture from the blender over the pork and continue blending with your hands until well combined. Set this pork mixture aside.
Remove the cabbage from the pot of water. Carefully peel the cabbage leaves off the head one-by-one (trying not to tear them) and place them on a large plate or in a bowl.
Since the stuffed cabbage needs to cook for several hours and the cabbage leaves will unravel if stirred too frequently, cooking with two separate stockpots is ideal. If your blind pigeons are only two or three layers deep, you will be able to
swirl the entire batch of them around the stockpot without
disturbing their cabbage jackets. If you place everything in one
giant stockpot, chances are, the very bottom layer will stick or burn.
Place two stockpots on your counter. Add 3 ½ cups of the tomato puree to each pot. Divide the condensed tomato soup between the two pots. Add two cups of the cabbage water to each pot. Stir each pot until the sauce is well combined.
Place a cabbage leaf on a cutting board or large plate. Mound some of the pork mixture in the center of the leaf — approximately ¾ cup to 1 cup — depending on the size of the leaf. Fold the thickest side of the leaf (with the heavy central vein) over the pork mixture. Fold the opposite side over the mixture, followed by the other two more pliable sides. Be careful to cover the pork mixture completely with the leaf.
Place the blind pigeon seam side down in the tomato sauce. Continue this process of folding the pork mixture into cabbage leaf jackets until all of the large cabbage leaves are used up or you run out of pork. Each time, place the blind pigeon seam side down in the tomato sauce. Tuck any remaining cabbage leaves into the sauce. If you have leftover pork, form it into balls and place them in the sauce.
Gently push the blind pigeons down into the sauce so they are
covered with tomato sauce. Place the stockpots on the stove and
heat over medium heat until the sauce boils. Reduce the heat to a
simmer and cover the pots with lids.
Simmer for 3.5 hours, very gently swirling everything around in the pot every 30 minutes (just enough swirling to keep the bottom layer from sticking to the pot).
Serve these blind pigeons in bowls with tomato sauce ladled over the stuffed cabbage. Top the balandeliai with a dollop of sour cream. Gero apetito!
Basil Pesto Sauce
Basil pesto is one of the simplest sauces to prepare, yet one of the most flavorful and fragrant. Our recipe contains only five ingredients and short of washing the basil, your food processor will do everything for you in mere moments.
This pesto sauce is delicious with pasta alone or tossed in with a few sun dried tomatoes. Its fragrance is intoxicating and no one will guess how easy it was to prepare.
We make a large batch with the basil we grow in our garden every summer. It freezes well for up to a year and is a great sauce to have in your freezer when you are looking for a quick dinner.
Simply heat in a saucepan until fragrant and toss with your favorite pasta. It’s that simple!
Combine it with our chicken piccata recipe for a zesty and delicious Italian dinner.
Basil Pesto Sauce Recipe
- 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 3 TBS pine nuts
Yield: about 2 cups.
Add the olive oil and garlic cloves to a food processor fitted with a large chopping blade and process until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process until the basil is finely chopped and well blended.
To serve, simply heat the basil pesto sauce over medium heat until fragrant and toss with hot pasta. Use about 1 cup of pesto sauce for every pound of pasta.
This pesto sauce is delicious alone or combined with sun dried tomatoes. Stir ⅔ cups of sun dried tomato pieces into 1 cup of basil pesto. Heat over medium heat until fragrant and toss with 1 pound of your favorite hot pasta.
Store the pesto sauce in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or freeze for up to one year.
Chicken Piccata Recipe
Chicken piccata is a simple dish packed with zesty flavor. Fresh lemons give this savory chicken piccata recipe a refreshing taste that complements lighter pasta dishes like angel hair with basil pesto and sun dried tomatoes.
Add a Caesar salad and a glass of pinot grigio, and you will think you are dining in the northern Italian countryside!
We butterfly boneless chicken breasts and cut them in half for this lemon chicken recipe since it takes only a few seconds to prepare each breast. Chicken cutlets already prepared by your butcher would work just as well and would save you the time of this extra step.
For the fullest flavor, ladle the lemon sauce over the chicken after placing it on individual plates. If you pour the sauce over the chicken while it is on a large family-style serving platter, you will lose the intensity of the lemon sauce, since most of it will remain on the serving platter. Don’t be modest with this sauce since it is the source of this dish’s bold flavor.
- 3 ¼ lbs chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
- 1 ½ cups Italian bread crumbs
- 1 cup flour
- 3 TBS evaporated milk
- 2 large eggs
- 3 lemons
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2 tsp fresh flat Italian parsley, chopped
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt, pepper
Yield: serves 6 to 8 as a main course.
Serving suggestion: serve it with a side of angel hair pasta tossed with sun dried tomatoes and our basil pesto sauce.
Place a covered casserole dish in the oven and preheat to 200°.
Butterfly the chicken breasts and cut them in half. Dust them with flour and then shake off any excess flour. Salt and pepper them generously.
In a bowl, beat the eggs and the evaporated milk with a fork or whisk until well blended. Place the bread crumbs on a plate. Dip the chicken breasts in the egg mixture and then roll them in the bread crumbs until each piece of chicken is coated thoroughly.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Either use two sauté pans or prepare the chicken in two batches. When the oil is hot, add the chicken breasts and fry them until golden brown; about three minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the pan and place it in the covered casserole dish to stay warm in the oven.
Add the butter, the juice of two lemons, and the parsley to a small saucepan. Heat on low until the butter is melted.
Slice the third lemon into thin slices.
To serve, place one or two pieces of chicken on a plate and top with a slice of lemon and a tablespoon or two of the lemon butter sauce. Buon Appetito!
Smoked Turkey Kielbasa Soup Recipe
This smoked turkey kielbasa soup with kale and leeks is a delectable soup for any season. I prepare it year round more frequently than any other soup — that’s how delicious it is and how easy it is to prepare. This soup is light and healthy, too!
Turkey kielbasa has become somewhat mainstream and you can find it on supermarket shelves under the brand of a famous sausage and bratwurst purveyor. However, if you live near a Polish market, going there to purchase turkey kielbasa will add so much more flavor to your soup.
To me, the supermarket variety tastes more like hotdogs than kielbasa — but, that is just my opinion. If you ever find yourself near the eastern Pennsylvania coal regions, Kowalonek’s has superb kielbasa. It’s worth the trip and I stock up with their specialties whenever I can.
Fresh dill adds the best flavor to this soup, but if your market is out of it, dried dill weed works okay. Luckily, I grow my own dill for the summer season and one of our local supermarkets usually has huge, gorgeous bunches of it.
I use reduced sodium chicken stock for my soup and enjoy it without adding additional salt. However, if you enjoy a more savory soup, you will need to add some salt to yours.
Smoked Turkey Kielbasa Soup With Kale and Leeks
- 2 lbs smoked turkey kielbasa, partially frozen
- 3 leeks
- 1 bunch whole kale (not the pre-chopped variety)
- 16 cups chicken stock
- 1 large bunch fresh dill or 2 TBS dried dill weed
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
Yield: 12 servings of 2 cups each.
Total preparation time: 2 hours.
Slice the partially frozen smoked turkey kielbasa into thin slices. Add them to a large stockpot. Cover with the chicken broth and add the pepper. If you are using dried dill weed, add it to the pot now. If you are using fresh dill, save the dill for later.
Bring the broth and turkey kielbasa to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and simmer for one hour.
While the broth is simmering, remove the outer layer of the leaks and discard it. Slice the leeks into thin disks between ¼” and ⅜” thick. Use the dark green portion of the leeks, too. Separate the disks into ringlets over a large colander placed inside a bowl or stockpot. Cover the leaks with water and swish them around in the water to loosen up any particles of dirt in the leeks. Allow them to soak and then drain the water. Cover them again with water and repeat this process until the water is clean. Usually, soaking and rinsing them three times cleans them.
While the leaks are soaking, pull the kale leaves from their thick stems. Discard the stems and slice the kale into manageable pieces, approximately 1 ½” by 1 ½”. Soak the kale in a large bowl of water and rinse it a few times to remove any dirt particles.
If you are using fresh dill, remove the very bottom of the stems and then finely chop the dill. (I include most of the stems when using fresh dill.)
After the smoked turkey kielbasa has simmered for an hour, add the drained leeks and kale to the pot. Add the fresh dill. Stir, cover, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for another hour.
Remove from the heat and serve the smoked turkey kielbasa soup hot. Rye bread goes very well with this soup. Enjoy!
Roasted Cauliflower Recipe With Jarlsburg Cheese
Cauliflower is in season and gorgeous heads of it are appearing at roadside stands and farmers’ markets everywhere. I picked some up last weekend to make my roasted cauliflower recipe with Jarlsburg cheese and it was fabulous.
This dish has so much flavor and is so redolent that you might expected a complicated recipe, but it is not. There are only six ingredients and it takes no time to put this dish together. All of the time is in the roasting.
Whenever I roast cauliflower, I use this recipe. The only variation for me is in the final ingredient. While cheese is my weakness, I do sometimes skip it here. It just depends on the main course I am serving that day. With or without Jarlsburg cheese, this roasted cauliflower is absolutely delicious.
It is important to watch this dish closely after about 45 minutes. If your baking pan is on the smaller side or if you double this recipe, it could take up to one and a half hours to achieve a golden brown color. (The more the cauliflower is stacked in your pan, the longer it will take.) Ideally, the cauliflower should be only two to three florets deep.
Roasted Cauliflower Recipe With Jarlsburg Cheese
- 1 head cauliflower
- 4 cloves garlic
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ cups Jarlsburg cheese, shredded (optional)
- salt to taste
Yield: serves four to six as a side dish.
Total roasting time: 1 hour, 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Wash the cauliflower and break it into small florets. Place it in a large rectangular baking pan.
Roughly chop the garlic cloves and sprinkle them over the cauliflower. Sprinkle the crushed red pepper over the cauliflower and salt to taste. Drizzle with the olive oil. Toss the mixture until well combined and until all of the ingredients are coated with the oil.
Roast in the oven for one hour. Stir the mixture every 15 minutes to ensure that the ingredients are coated with the olive oil and roasting evenly. The cauliflower should begin to turn golden brown along its edges after about 45 minutes. After one hour, all pieces should be golden brown. (If the cauliflower still looks pale, stir and continue roasting for another 15 minutes or until it turns golden brown.) At this point, remove the tray from the oven.
Stir one more time. Top with the shredded Jarlsburg cheese and return the pan to the oven for five minutes to melt the cheese. Remove from the oven and serve the roasted cauliflower immediately.
Best Beef Stew Ever!
My aunt served this beef stew during one of the east coast blizzards last winter and it is one of those dishes that I can’t get off my mind. Until tasting her stew, I was not a fan of beef stew and would always opt for anything else that was being served. Well, not anymore!
This stew’s broth has a rich, deep intensity. The beef is succulent and the flavor that develops in the potatoes and carrots is wonderful. I like that the carrots maintain their firm texture and that the onions disappear into the stew’s thick broth.
Served with a light salad and crusty bread, this stew makes a satisfying, delicious meal.
This is an easy beef stew recipe and perfect for cooler weather. An added bonus is that any leftover stew is just as fabulous the next couple of days for lunch. I think you will agree that this is the best beef stew ever!
From the Kitchen of Karen Walker Haftl
- 2.75 lbs rib eye steak
- 1 cup flour
- 2 large onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 3 ½ cups beef stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 TBS fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 4 medium red potatoes
- 4 large carrots
- freshly ground black pepper
Yield: serves four to six as a main course.
Total baking time: 4.5 hours.
Preheat oven to 300°.
Slice the onions into thick slices. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan or Dutch oven and sauté the onions over medium heat until caramelized and golden brown. Peel the garlic and then press it (with a garlic press) into the onions and sauté for two more minutes until fragrant. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan and set them aside.
Slice the beef into 1.5” cubes and coat evenly with flour. Season with salt and pepper. Add more olive oil to the pan and heat. When the oil is hot, add the beef cubes and sauté over medium heat until browned on most sides. Remove the beef from the pan and place it in a Dutch oven.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine and then add the wine and any morsels from the pan to the Dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic to the Dutch oven and then top with the beef stock, bay
leaf, thyme sprigs, and more freshly ground black pepper.
Bake for two hours, covered.
While the beef stew is in the oven, and just before it has been cooking for two hours, peel and slice the carrots into large chunks. Wash and dice the potatoes (peel them, if you prefer peeled potatoes). Chop the parsley.
After the stew has been in the oven for two hours, remove it from the oven. Find the thyme sprigs. Pull the thyme leaves from the sprigs and discard the stems. Add the potatoes, carrots, and parsley. Stir the stew; cover it; and return it to the oven.
Bake for two and a half more hours, covered. Remove the bay leaf and skim off any fat from the top of the stew. Serve hot.
Lithuanian Chow-Chow Recipe For Your Autumn Harvest
This chow-chow recipe makes delicious use of autumn’s harvest of cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and peppers. Our Lithuanian recipe is dressed with a fragrant blend of vinegar, sugar, prepared mustard, and spices that gives it robust flavor and vivid color.
This chow chow relish is an unexpected alternative to salad and one that will keep you coming back for seconds. If you enjoy a little heat, add a few hot peppers. If you prefer mild flavor, stick with bell peppers. Since we grew peppers in our garden this year, we substituted about half of the bell peppers for others that we grew: Hungarian yellow, Hungarian paprika, and chervena chushka peppers.
Fall is a great time to make chow-chow for two reasons: the vegetables are in season and the nights are cooler. Since these vegetables need to sweat in salt overnight and since they take up so much space, finding room for them in your refrigerator in the summertime could be challenging. Since autumn nights are cool, we stored our covered vegetables overnight on a screened-in porch.
Allow plenty of time to prepare this chow-chow recipe as you will need it to clean all of the vegetables and for the actual canning process.
From the Kitchen of
Emilija Gvazdaitytė Naujalienė, 1886 – 1966
- 6 heads cauliflower
- 3 heads cabbage (about 13.5 pounds)
- 7 large bell peppers
- 40 assorted mild or hot peppers (or 8 more bell peppers)
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 lbs pearl onions (raw, frozen pearl onions can be substituted if fresh are unavailable)
- 3 cups salt
- 16 cups white vinegar
- 8 cups cold water
- 6 cups prepared mild yellow mustard
- 4 tsp celery seed
- 4 tsp mustard seed
- 2 TBS turmeric
- 8 TBS flour
- 15 cups sugar
Yield: 19.5 quarts
Day 1: Since we did not have a bowl large enough to handle this volume of vegetables, we divided our vegetables into three equal portions. We mixed two portions in 16” stainless steel bowls and one portion in a deep lasagna pan. Dividing them into three portions makes processing on day two much easier.
Clean the cauliflower, separate the heads into small florets, and place the florets in your bowl(s). Shred the cabbage into narrow strips (using a vegetable slicer or sharp knife) and add it to the cauliflower. Slice the ribs of celery into small pieces and add them to the cauliflower and cabbage. Peel the pearl onions and add them. Remove the seeds from the peppers, cut the peppers into pieces comparable in size to the sliced celery, and add them to the other vegetables.
Pour the salt over the vegetables and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and store them in a cool place overnight.
Day 2: After the vegetables have sweated in the salt for 15 to 18 hours, carefully drain the water from them.
Sterilize your jars by boiling them in a waterbath canner or large stockpot. Drain and keep warm until you are ready to fill them. Heat your canning lids in water and keep them hot, but do not boil.
To maximize vegetable crispness, it is important to work quickly. As soon as the vegetables boil, they are ready to be placed in jars; topped with liquid; covered with lids; and sealed with bands. It is easier to process this much chow-chow in three batches. If you process yours in three batches, then simply divide the remaining ingredients into three to proceed. Our instructions are based on three batches.
After draining the vegetables, place the first batch of them in a large stockpot. Mix ⅓ of the flour and sugar together and pour this mixture over the vegetables. Top with ⅓ of the remaining ingredients: vinegar, water, prepared mustard, celery seed, mustard seed, and turmeric. Mix thoroughly and place the stockpot on the stove.
Heat on high, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to a full boil. Immediately remove the pot from the stove.
Using a slotted spoon and funnel, quickly fill the jars with vegetables and then top them with liquid from the pot. Use a canning spatula or knife to press out any air pockets in the jars. Wipe the mouth of each jar; top it with a lid; and seal it
tightly with a band. Place the jars on a surface where they will not be disturbed until the lids seal and the jars are cooled.
Repeat this cooking and canning process with the other two batches.
After the lids have sealed and the jars are completely cooled, it is okay to remove the bands from the jars. Store the chow-chow in a cool, dark pantry for up to 12 months. Serve chow chow relish cold and refrigerate after opening.