Italian Sausage & Mushroom Ragu with Pappardelle

I love Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street television show and cookbooks. I recently joined their mailing list too. I have received a million emails from them since about offers and products, etc., but getting recipes like this one makes it worth the spam. 😉

This was our Election Day comfort food meal. It was quick and absolutely delicious. Perfect. The recipe was inspired by chef Vitaly Paley of Portland, Oregon, via 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Julia Rackow. I used cremini instead of portobello mushrooms and modified the proportions. I loved how the mushrooms lightened up the meaty sauce.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 2 T salted butter
  • 7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and finely chopped or portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed, caps finely chopped
  • 2 large shallots, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, preferably bulk (I used sausage links and removed the casings)
  • 1 cup full-bodied, dry red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 1/2 to 16 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 16 oz dried pappardelle or tagliatelle
  • minced fresh parsley, for garnish, optional
  • grated Parmesan, for serving, optional
  1. Finely chop the garlic and mushrooms in a food processor.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet over medium, heat the butter and garlic until the butter has melted and the mixture has begun to sizzle. (I used a wide enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the shallots have softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking the meat into small pieces, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any accumulated fat, if necessary.
  5. Increase to medium-high and add the wine. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the broth, cinnamon, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Continue to simmer until the broth has reduced by about half, 5 to 6 minutes.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside, covered.
  9. While the sauce simmers, in a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
  10. Add the pasta and 2 tablespoons of salt and cook until the pasta is al dente.
  11. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking (pasta) water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot or a serving dish.
  12. Add the sauce to the pasta (I layered it) and toss to coat. If needed, add a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce. (I did not add pasta water but kept it to add when reheating the leftovers.)
  13. Serve garnished with parsley. Pass grated Parmesan at the table, as desired.

Weeknight Meatballs

The large size of these meatballs prevents them from becoming overcooked in the oven- genius. I also loved the store-bought marinara shortcut. We ate them with an entire loaf of sourdough baguette garlic bread which was essential. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I used ground turkey and modified the proportions. Easy and delicious comfort food. Everyone absolutely loved it!

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings, about 12 to 14 meatballs
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups panko
  • 3/4 cup milk or water
  • 1 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 oz Parmesan, finely grated (about 3/4 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lbs ground turkey or ground beef (20% fat) (or other ground meat)(I used 1 2/3 pounds ground turkey)
  • warm homemade or store-bought tomato sauce (I used 28 oz jar of Rao’s marinara)
  • basil leaves, chiffonade or torn, for serving
  1. Place rack in top third of oven; preheat to 425°, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly brush a large rimmed baking sheet with oil.
  3. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, vigorously stir eggs, panko, milk, salt, garlic powder, several cranks of pepper, Parmesan, and remaining 3 T oil in a medium bowl until nearly a smooth paste.
  4. Mix in one quarter of meat (combining just a small amount of meat in the beginning makes it easier to incorporate the rest without overmixing).
  5. Add remaining meat and mix well to thoroughly combine, but don’t overwork it.
  6. Using oiled hands or a large cookie scoop, form into 12 to 14 large meatballs and place on prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake meatballs until well browned underneath, about 15 minutes. Using a stiff metal spatula, pry up and turn over meatballs (they may want to stick a bit). Bake until browned on second side and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each one registers 160°, 4–7 minutes.
  8. Divide meatballs among plates and spoon some sauce over. Alternatively, warm the sauce in a large, shallow pan and place the meatballs into the sauce.
  9. Top with basil and more Parmesan.

Sour Cream Maple Cake with Maple Buttercream Frosting

We have enjoyed this wonderful “snack” cake on a couple of occasions this fall. It is dangerously easy to make and was incredibly moist and very tasty. I forgot to drizzle the top with maple syrup on both occasions. Not necessary!

The recipe was adapted from Bake from Scratch magazine, via the Washington Post. The frosting is a little bit salty- which we liked- but the salt level can be adjusted to taste. We ate it chilled. Great.

Yield: One 9×9-inch cake, about 16 pieces

For the Cake:

  • cooking spray or unsalted butter, softened, for greasing the pan
  • 2 1/2 cups (344 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) pure maple syrup, preferably dark grade (I used grade A amber)
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) canola oil
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (200 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably dark grade, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (to taste)

To Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, with the rack in the middle.
  2. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan. (I used cooking oil spray.) Line the pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over the sides of the pan (the overhang will give you handles to lift the cake out after it’s baked). Lightly spray (or butter) the parchment.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the maple syrup, oil, milk, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, sour cream and vanilla, and stir with a rubber spatula just until combined and no streaks of flour remain. (There will be some lumps in the batter; this is okay.)
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan on the counter eight times to release air bubbles.
  6. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until deep golden and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, covering with foil after 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning. (It may dip in the middle, don’t worry.)(I baked mine for 30 minutes but would add 2 to 3 minutes next time to decrease the amount of dipping.)
  7. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Using the parchment overhang as handles, remove from the pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. In the same (cleaned-out) bowl you used to make the cake, beat the butter with a handheld mixer on medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. (You can do this in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, if you prefer.)
  2. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until combined.
  3. Add the sour cream, maple syrup and salt, and beat at medium-high speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not overbeat. (Add 1/4 tsp salt, taste and add the additional 1/4 tsp, to taste.)
  4. Spread the frosting onto the cooled cake. Drizzle with additional maple syrup, if desired, and serve. (I preferred to serve it slightly chilled.)

Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

I do have a favorite pumpkin loaf but I can’t resist trying another recipe- especially if it involves cinnamon-sugar. 🙂 This one incorporated lovely spices as well.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I increased the amount of cinnamon-sugar topping and baked the batter as muffins rather than a loaf. I love the portion control of a muffin.

Makes: 18 standard muffins or 1 large 9×5-inch loaf

For the Batter:

  • 1 15-ounce can (1 3/4 cups) pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable or another neutral cooking oil or melted butter (115 grams)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 (330 grams) cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • heaped 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • heaped 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • two pinches of ground cloves
  • 2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons (24 grams) granulated sugar (use 1 T for a loaf)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (use 1 tsp for a loaf)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter 18 muffins wells or a 6-cup loaf pan or coat it with nonstick spray. (I used 8 outer wells in one pan and 10 in another.)
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, butter or oil, eggs and sugar until smooth.
  4. Sprinkle baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinanmon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves over batter and whisk until well-combined.
  5. Add flour and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula, just until mixed.
  6. Using a 3 tablespoon scoop, ration the batter into prepared muffin wells, or scrape into a loaf pan, and smooth the top(s).
  7. In a small dish, whisk or stir sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle over top of batter. (I sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon over each muffin top.)
  8. Bake muffins for 15 to 17 minutes, and a loaf for 55 to 75 minutes, or until a tester poked into all parts of cake (both the top and center will want to hide pockets of uncooked batter) come out batter-free, rotating the pans once during the baking time for even coloring. (I rotated the oven racks between the two muffin pans as well.
  9. Cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes and then remove, or cool completely in the pan(s). The latter provides the advantage of letting more of the loose cinnamon sugar on top adhere before being knocked off. 

Note: The muffins (or loaf) keep well at room temperature. The original recipe recommends covering the cut edge of the loaf with a piece of foil or plastic and leaving the top exposed to best keep the lid crisp as long as possible.

Chickpeas & Kale in Spicy Pomodoro Sauce

This dish was also named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s “40 Best” in their 40th anniversary issue. It was super delicious.

The recipe was contributed by Missy Robbins of Lilia in Brooklyn. She was also named a “Best New Chef” in a previous issue. The genius of this dish is that Robbins substitutes chickpeas and kale for pasta in her spicy pomodoro sauce. It still tasted rich and indulgent for a “healthy” dish. I increased the amount of garlic and incorporated my CSA red kale. The inclusion of fennel seeds added subtle sweetness. We ate it with a crusty baguette to soak up all of the sauce- a little bit less healthy but crazy good.

I hope to make this dish repeatedly with my CSA kale. I absolutely love dishes that make kale a crowd-pleaser! 🙂

Yield: Serves 4

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant 
but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and 
the sauce is thickened, about 25 minutes.
  4. Stir the kale into the sauce and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt.
  6. Spoon into bowls and garnish with herbs. Top with finely grated pecorino and serve hot.

Marcella Hazan’s Sicilian-Style Swordfish

This was such an elegant, fresh, tasty, and quick-cooking dish. It is part of a recipe collection that Food and Wine published for their 40th anniversary titled “Food & Wine: Our 40 Best-Ever Recipes.”

The recipe was contributed to this special issue by Marcella Hazan. I modified the ratio, using less swordfish but the same amount of sauce. By serving the fish over a bed of rice, the rice absorbed all of the extra deliciousness.

Yield: Serves 3 to 4

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons table salt (I used coarse salt)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds swordfish steaks, cut 1/2 inch thick (I cut 1-inch thick steaks in half)
  1. Light a grill or preheat the broiler.
  2. Make the Sauce: In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice with the salt until the salt dissolves. (I used coarse salt- which took quite a while to dissolve.) Stir in the oregano. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season generously with pepper.
  3. Grill the swordfish steaks over high heat (as close to the heat as possible), turning once, until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side (6 minutes total).
  4. Transfer the fish to a platter. (I covered the platter with a bed of rice first.)
  5. Prick each fish steak in several places with a fork to allow the sauce to penetrate. Using a spoon, beat the sauce, then drizzle it over the fish (and rice, if desired). Serve at once.

Coconut-Creamed Corn & Farro

In contrast to the fresh corn dish in my last post, this dish was quick and easy to prepare. It was an “out of the box” vegetarian meal that we all enjoyed. We ate it with roasted broccoli on the side. Nice.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions. The crispy onions were a fun topping- my son has been adding them to his sandwiches ever since. 🙂

Yield: 4 servings

  • 6 ears of corn, kernels removed and cobs discarded
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño chile, thinly sliced
  • 1 3″ piece fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into matchsticks
  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 cup farro or other grains, such as freekeh or quinoa, cooked
  • 3/4 to 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 T store-bought crispy onions
  • lime wedges, for serving
  1. Cook 1 cup farro according to the package directions. (I cooked 1 cup of Trader Joe’s farro in 2 cups stock for 10 to 12 minutes.) Let rest for an additional 5 minutes; set aside.
  2. Cut kernels from corn; set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering. (I used a 12-inch stainless pan.)
  4. Cook chile, ginger, garlic, and 2 sliced scallions, tossing, until softened and fragrant, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add turmeric and cook, stirring frequently, just until darkened and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add reserved corn and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, tossing occasionally, until corn is beginning to lightly brown, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add cooked farro and cook, tossing often, until heated through and beginning to crisp around the edges, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add 3/4 to 1 cup coconut milk; season with salt, to desired consistency. Bring to a simmer and cook, adding 1–2 T water if needed to loosen, until flavors have melded, about 3 minutes.
  9. Transfer corn mixture to a plate. Top with crispy onions and sliced scallions. Serve with lime wedges alongside for squeezing over.

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