Saturday, April 24, 2021

Sheet Pan Italian Sausage with Shallots and Apples

Yesterday marked the end of my lightning mess. My computer got zapped in the storm 3 weeks ago and I was holding out to see if new iMacs were rolling out. Turns out they are, but they are just the entry level iMacs. With a smaller screen and lower resolution that what I had before, they are not for me.

The larger, 27" iMac that I had is still for sale at the Apple Store. But it has the old Intel chips and a design that has gone unchanged since 2009 (Obama's first year in office). It will likely soldier on until this fall....but I can't wait that long. For the last 3 weeks I've been hunched over my MacBook Air...and using the small screen 8 hours a day was starting to get tedious.

So I bought myself a Mac mini (super high performance at half the cost of a high-end iPhone), which has the latest and greatest silicone from Apple, and an LG 32" monitor. What an upgrade! When you're 68 and wear glasses, this enormous screen is welcome relief. I really missed being able to have two documents up on the screen, side-by-side, as I am doing now writing this blog.

Today's recipe is from Lidey Heuck. And I'm here to tell you this is an absolutely perfect cornucopia of flavorful pleasures. Hot Italian sausage. Delicate shallots. Roasted apples, a Granny Smith and a Honeycrisp...for the perfect combo of tart and sweet. And then they are all tossed with whole-grain mustard and apple cider vinegar. Be still my heart. And my tongue.


6 medium shallots, trimmed on both ends and peeled
1 Granny Smith apple
1 Honeycrisp apple
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more as needed
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 pound Hot Italian sausages
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
1 to 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, to taste


    1. Heat the oven to 425º. Cut the shallots lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Core the apples and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Place the shallots and apples on a sheet pan, drizzle with the 1 tablespoon olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes, until the shallots are just starting to brown at the edges.
    2. Meanwhile, place the sausages on a plate. Using a fork, prick a few holes in each sausage. Drizzle the sausages with olive oil and toss to coat.
    3. Add the rosemary and mustard to the pan with the apples and shallots, and toss, spreading everything out into one even layer. Arrange the sausages on the pan, evenly distributed, and roast for 30 minutes, flipping the sausages and tossing the apples and shallots with the juices released from the sausages halfway through, until the sausages are browned and the shallots are tender and caramelized.
    4. Transfer the sausages to a serving platter and discard the rosemary sprigs. Pour the vinegar over the apples and shallots and toss well, scraping up any browned bits from the pan. Transfer to the serving platter with the sausages and serve immediately.

    Wine pairing: Zinfandel

    Grogs and Goldie, 1956


    Saturday, April 10, 2021

    Grilled Chili Lime Chicken

    Thunder, feel the thunder
    Lightning then the thunder
    Thunder feel the thunder
    Lightning then the thunder


    For the first time in 11 years of blogging, I am composing this blog on a laptop. That is because for the second time in 3 years, we took a direct lightning strike during Monday's big storm. It wiped out a bucketload of electronics, including my relatively new iMac. It is painful to be writing this blog on a screen that is just 83 square inches when I am used to 383 square inches.

    Thank you for suggesting I should just get a new one. But it is not that easy.  It appears that we are just days away from Apple introducing a new iMac (the current design was last refreshed in 2014). It is supposed to be blazing fast thanks to new Apple silicone chips and the rumors are it will have a screen that is 20% larger (which means 460 square inches). It's also rumored to have Face ID, the greatest invention since sliced bread (which means no more passwords!) So I must wait for Tim Cook to give his new sermon on the mount.

    Thank you for suggesting that I should be using surge protectors. But please be advised that I have more surge protectors than Google. Remember, this is lightning strike number 2 in 3 years. But like Covid, I discovered that the lightning can evolve into a new variant. In 2018,  Lightning 1.0 entered the house via the electrical wiring. 

    In 2021, Lightning 2.0 struck the ground and entered the house via an Ethernet cable...frying almost every device that was hard-wired to the Internet. Given that I have a need for speed (I'm a gamer), the vast majority of devices in the home were connected via Ethernet. The few devices that did operate on WiFi were mostly untouched.

    Thanks to the fabulous crew at Sight & Surf, we were only down 2 days. The only painful part left is composing on this laptop. While my computer screen is small, I'm going to share a Susie Bulloch recipe that is huge! She came up with one of the best chicken marinades I have ever tasted. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are not the kind of thing that gives me thigh sweats...but this marinade takes chicken to a place it has never been before. Lightning then the thunder!


    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

    For the Marinade
    4-ounce can of fire roasted green chiles
    2 green onions
    2 garlic cloves
    4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
    2 teaspoons cumin
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon black pepper

    1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth. Put chicken breasts and marinade into a gallon-sized zip lock bag. Place bag in your fridge and let marinate for 6-8 hours.
    2. Prepare grill for direct cooking over high heat.
    3. Remove breasts from zip lock bag and discard marinade. Grill the chicken for 4-5 minutes, then flip breasts over and grill 4-5 minutes more.
    4. Remove breasts from grill and tent with foil, letting them rest for 5 minutes.
    5. Serve.

    Wine pairing: Zinfandel

    Grogs and Goldie, 1956


    Saturday, April 3, 2021

    Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers


    Here's a mash-up that uses the spices from "Tacos from Scratch" and coverts the "Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers" to a dish from south of the border. The orzo pasta is replaced by rice (and if you are feeling lazy like me, I just use Uncle Ben's precooked Ready Rice to save me an extra 30 minutes of cooking). 

    I will admit that this is an elaborate recipe....mostly because a lot of the work goes into getting the seasoning of the ground beef to be absolutely authentic and astounding. If authentic and astounding are not your jam, you can make the recipe a lot easier by omitting the spices in the beef prep part and substitute a packet of taco seasoning. If you were making this for young kids, that is acceptable. But if you are an adult and like drinking adult beverages with your meals, go for authentic and astounding.

    As I noted with the Italian version of this recipe, this is meant to be served as an entree. So when you go to the grocery store, check out the green, red and yellow bell peppers. You want to buy the biggest, honkin' peppers they have, regardless of color. It's time to run with the big dogs.


    4 big bell peppers, 1/2-inch trimmed off tops (see photo), core and seeds discarded
    tablespoon salt

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 small onion chopped
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    2 tablespoons chili powder
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 pound ground beef
    1/2 cup tomato sauce
    1/2 cup chicken broth
    1 teaspoon brown sugar
    2 teaspoons cider vinegar

    1 cup cooked rice
    One 14-1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
    2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
    Sliced jalapeños 

    1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and then submerge bell peppers. Cook until peppers just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove peppers from pot, drain off excess water, and place peppers cut-sides up on paper towels. 
    2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350º.
    3. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, spices and salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
    4. Add ground beef and cook, breaking meat up with wooden spoon and scraping pan bottom to prevent scorching, until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and breaking meat up so that no chunks remain, until liquid has reduced and thickened (mixture should not be completely dry), about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
    5. Transfer mixture to a bowl with the rice; stir in tomatoes, 1 cup cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
    6. Place peppers cut-side up in 9-inch square baking dish. Using soup spoon, divide filling evenly among peppers. Top with sliced jalapeños and sprinkle each with 1/4 cup of remaining cheese. Bake until cheese is browned and filling is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

    Pairing: Cerveza por favor

    Grogs and Goldie, 1956