How to Cook a Filet Mignon

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Many people like to throw t-bones or ribeyes on the barbecue grill outside, and are happy with the results.

My husband used to be one of those, but in recent years he’s become more “picky” about beef, and so these days, if he eats steak, it must be grass-fed filets. As a result, I had to learn to cook filet mignons inside; it’s not always barbeque weather.

A filet is a cross-wise slice from a beef tenderloin. If you’re trimming one yourself, you can get about 6-7 intact filets from the main tenderloin, depending on the thickness of course.



For quite a few years I’ve ordered grass-fed beef tenderloins from various sources. It’s less expensive to buy them whole as opposed to two filets at a time. Plus, after trimming the tenderloin and cutting filets, you’re left with about 2 pounds of beef tenderloin that I usually turn into a stir fry.

I prefer my filets a good inch in thickness, but however the thickness, it’s important to cook them properly. My point with this post is to show how straight forward it is to pan-cook a filet to perfection.

Have your filets close to room temperature. Salt generously; you can season after cooking.

Have a large cast-iron skillet on hand with some grapeseed oil, long-handled tongs, and a plate topped with a rack. You’re going to be resting the cooked filets and you want them to “breathe” on all sides.

The skillet should hold the steaks without crowding. The maximum number I cook in my 10” cast-iron skillet is four, shown browning in bacon grease.

When you’re ready to start, place the skillet over high heat. Turn on the fan.

Pour in some grape seed oil – about 1 tablespoon per steak. When the oil is hot, place a filet in the skillet. Repeat with remaining steaks if cooking more than one.

Brown on that side for at least one minute, then turn them over and brown the other side.

Now here’s the deal. Many people at this point would place the skillet of browned filets in a hot oven to finish. If your steaks happen to be 3” thick you might have to do that. But I do something different. I take advantage of my stove.

Turn the filets back over and turn down the heat! Give them a couple minutes, turn them over, and let the insides cook for maybe a couple more minutes, and they’ll be perfect.

I used to use a meat thermometer to make sure the temperature didn’t go above 125 degrees. That is a very good technique, but it’s easy to learn when the steaks are ready by squeezing them with your tongs. If the steaks are mushy, then they’re still undercooked. Alternatively, if they’re getting firm, get them the hell out of the skillet.


Cover them loosely with foil. After at least 10 minutes of resting, generously season the filets with coarsely ground pepper or garlic pepper.

Today I served the filets with green beans cooked with shallots and tomatoes, and topped with pine nuts.

Also, there’s truffle butter…

Here is a garlic pepper I highly recommend.

Chocolate Yogurt Mousse

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My sister recently told me about a dessert she often serves to company. It’s a chocolate mousse made with Greek yogurt. The original recipe came from Maria Speck, Food 52. To serve, the mousse is topped with orange marmalade.

The purpose of my making this mousse was two-fold. Firstly, I wanted to try out the recipe, since it’s obviously beloved. But secondly, I wanted to attempt to duplicate the dessert my mother and I shared at a restaurant, that I mentioned in my previous post. It was a chocolate dirt pudding – chocolate mousse topped with crumbled cookies and served with mint chocolate ice cream, except we had them leave off the ice cream.

The mousse was so intriguing to me because it tasted like a chocolate mousse folded with sour cream or creme fraiche. Turns out, it could have been yogurt. In my memory, the mousse was so similar to this recipe.

The key to this recipe is using a good dark chocolate. Also, my sister suggests that if you don’t want a liqueur included, to use some kind of extract as a substitute.

Greek Yogurt Chocolate Mousse
Serves 4

6 ounces (170g) good-quality dark chocolate with 70% cacao, finely chopped
1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon or 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, or other good-quality orange liqueur
1 cup (240ml) whole Greek yogurt
4 teaspoons orange marmalade

Place the chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk just to a boil over medium heat. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate and leave it to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.


Stir with a spatula or a wooden spoon until you have a smooth ganache.

In a small bowl, beat the Greek yogurt with a small whisk or a fork until smooth.

Fold the yogurt into the chocolate mixture using a spatula until thoroughly combined, then stir in the tablespoon of Grand Marnier.
If you like a boozy dessert, add the second tablespoon.


Spoon the mousse into four small serving cups and chill until firm, or up to a day ahead, covered with plastic wrap.

To serve, spoon a teaspoon of marmalade onto each serving. It was truly a magical combination. I added whipped cream, but that did nothing for me.

My sister told me not to bother to use raspberries; they get lost in the strong chocolate flavor. During the summer, she uses peaches tossed with rose water as a topping. Lovely.

Now, on to the chocolate dirt pudding. I added scoops of mint chocolate ice cream to the chilled mousse, and sprinkled crumbled Colpa Degno cookies over the top.

Wow. Let me first say that I’m not a huge fan of mint chocolate ice cream. However, this dessert was out of this world.

My husband’s favorite sweet flavor combination is mint and chocolate, so he was really happy with my blogging experiment.

There is just something about this mousse! With the yogurt, it’s thick and chocolatey, but not overly sweet. And with the crumbled cookies, it was outstanding.

 

Greek Yogurt Chocolate Mousse

Serves 4
6 ounces (170g) good-quality dark chocolate with 70% cacao, finely chopped
1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon or 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, or other good-quality orange liquor
1 cup (240ml) whole Greek yogurt (2% is also okay, but don’t use nonfat)
4 teaspoons orange marmalade

Place the chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk just to a boil over medium heat. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate and leave it to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir with a spatula or a wooden spoon until you have a smooth ganache.

In a small bowl, beat the Greek yogurt with a small whisk or a fork until smooth. Fold the yogurt into the chocolate mixture using a spatula until thoroughly combined, then stir in the tablespoon of Grand Marnier.

If you like a boozy dessert, add the second tablespoon.

Spoon the mousse into four small serving cups and chill until firm, at least one hour, or up to a day ahead, covered with plastic wrap.

To serve, spoon a teaspoon of marmalade onto each serving.

Colpa Degno Cookies

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There is a lovely restaurant called Powder that I take my mother to when I visit. It helps that it’s close to where she lives, because if I visit at any time between October and May, who knows how much snow I have to contend with getting anywhere not close.

My mother lives in Park City, Utah, which is known for its powder-like snow, thus the name of the restaurant. The restaurant is in the Waldorf Astoria, which doesn’t really seem to fit in my mind with the quaintness of Park City. The Waldorf makes me think of New York City for some reason.

In any case, when I last visited Mom in December, we dined at Powder and luckily didn’t have to deal with a blizzard.

The food has always been superb there, and the service slow but good. It seems like we have always ordered their charcuterie and cheese platter to start. Here are three of them I happened to document.

The first hurdle is always my mother fainting over how the waiter pronounces charcuterie. Being French, it’s still hard for her, even after 65 years of living in the U.S., to hear French words mis-pronounced. I’ve given up trying to convince her that charcuterie is a difficult word for Americans to say.

Also being French, my mother has a daily chocolate requirement, or at least enjoys a sweet after lunch. So after our cheese and you-know-what goodies, including an outstanding paté, we perused Powder’s dessert menu.

I ordered the Chocolate Dirt Pudding, but without the mint ice cream. She thought it would be too rich, like that’s ever stopped her!

This is what it looked like, after we both attacked it like we were starving. Not the prettiest dessert, but the black cherry fudge sauce was indescribable. Neither of us tasted the cherry part, interestingly enough, but it didn’t matter. The sauce, which was really a pudding, was fabulous.

After getting back home, I looked into Colpa Degno cookies, which were the crumbled “dirt” on the pudding. Turns out the name roughly translates to “worth the guilt.”

From Food52: Created by Megan Fitzroy Phelan, currently an owner of Richmond, Virginia’s lauded Longoven restaurant, and formerly a Sullivan Street pastry chef, these cookies are small and addictive and so delightful that they are well worth any remorse you might feel from eating a half dozen or so.

The actual cookie recipe is in this book:

I’m not much of a cookie or dessert maker, but I really wanted to recreate the dessert, including the mint ice cream, for my husband’s birthday. He loves chocolate and mint together, and he deserves a sin-worthy treat! And it all started with my making Colpa Degno.

Colpa Degno Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies

1 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 scant cup (40 g) unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Whites from 2 large eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (100 g) milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup (100 g) dark chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt with a fork in a medium bowl to combine.


Whisk together the egg whites and the vanilla with a fork in a small bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg whites; stir the mixture with the fork until it just begins to come together.

Add the chocolates and stir until well combined. The dough will be extremely sticky and as dark as black licorice.

At the bakery, we use a #60 scoop (like a small ice cream scoop) to scoop and ball these, but an ordinary 1 tablespoon measuring spoon works well too.

Pack the batter into the spoon by squashing and dragging the spoon against the inside of the bowl to make sure the rounds of dough are tight and compact – if the dough is too loosely packed, the cookies tend to really spread out and separate as they bake.


Place the rounds of dough on the parchment-lined cookie sheet a good 3” apart and bake for about 12 minutes or until the tops are glossy and set.

When the cookies are done, they will be quite gooey, but they will continue to cook as they cool.

Once they’ve cooled off enough to eat, they should be soft and chewy – if they’re hard or crisp, they’ve baked too much.


Cool the cookies on the paper, set on a wire rack, for 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Serve these cookies the day they are made.

Sneak preview to next post!

Mustardy Cauliflower Cheese

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Will Ottolenghi ever stop writing cookbooks?!! That’s rhetorical, of course. I certainly hope he continues, because I was enamored with the four I already owned, before I just had to buy Simple, his most recent, published in 2018. And I’m so happy I did.

I’ve already made many recipes from Simple. It’s that good. And, it doesn’t seem like a repeat of Jerusalem, Plenty and so forth. In fact, I’m not sure I spotted pomegranate seeds in Simple’s food photos!

One extremely intriguing recipe is called mustardy cauliflower cheese. I’ve seen cauliflower cheese recipes before, meh, but when Ottolenghi has one, I pay attention!

From Ottolenghi: This is the ultimate comfort dish, looking for a roast chicken, some sausages, or a pan-fried steak.

Mustardy Cauliflower Cheese
Serves 4
Printable recipe below

1 large cauliflower, broken into florets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 green chilies, seeded, finely diced
3/4 teaspoons black mustard seeds
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 1/4 ounces aged cheddar, coarsely grated
Salt
1/3 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Steam the cauliflower over boiling water for 5 minutes, until just softening. Remove and set aside to cool slightly.

Put the butter into a 9” round casserole pan or oven-proof dish and place over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 8 minutes, until soft and golden.

Add the cumin, curry powder, mustard powder and chiles and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the mustard seeds, cook for 1 minute, then pour in the cream.

Add 1 1/4 cups of cheddar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce slightly thickens.

Add the cauliflower, stir gently, and simmer for 1 minute before removing from the heat.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup of cheddar in a bowl and add the breadcrumbs and parsley. Mix, then sprinkle over the cauliflower.

Bake for 8 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cauliflower is hot. Turn the broiler to high and keep the pan underneath for 4 minutes, or until the top is golden and crisp.

Keep an eye on it so that it does not burn.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little – just for 5 minutes or so – before serving.

You can imagine what this cauliflower smells like, with the cumin, mustard, and curry spices!

Roast chicken would certainly be the perfect accompaniment. Or sausages.

Roasted Veg Vinaigrette

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Vinaigrettes are equally as important to me as their salad counterparts. With a proper choice of ingredients, one can really make a salad burst with flavor with a perfectly paired vinaigrette.

I’ve posted before on vinaigrettes made with reduced beet juice ( think salad of crunchy vegetables, lentils and goat cheese) and a vinaigrette made with a fresh pear (think baby greens with apples, bacon, and blue cheese).

I’ve posted on a vinaigrette made with strawberry vinegar, one made with pineapple juice, vinaigrettes with parsley or curry powder… the list is really endless because the possibilities are endless.

Recently I was inspired by a vinaigrette recipe made with roasted onion and shallot. And I got to thinking what I could add to that… because I can’t leave a recipe alone. This is one I created.

Beyond roasting the vegetables, which is left to your oven, the rest is easy!

Make a triple batch! You’ll love how versatile this is not only as a vinaigrette but as a marinade, or served with grilled leeks or asparagus.

Roasted Vegetable Vinaigrette

1 purple onion, peeled, quartered
1 red bell pepper, trimmed, de-seeded, cut into 8ths
6 shallots, peeled, halved
6 cloves garlic, peeled
Olive oil, divided
Salt
Pepper
Red wine vinegar
Tabasco sauce (optional)

Preheat the oven to a roast setting, or 400 degrees F.

Place the onion, red bell pepper, shallots and garlic cloves on a jelly roll pan or rimmed roasting sheet. Generously drizzle olive oil over the vegetables, about 1/4 cup. Season with salt and pepper.


Roast until vegetables show some caramelization and are tender. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool.

Place all of the vegetables and olive oil into a blender jar.

Blend until smooth, adding another 1/4 cup or so of olive oil.

Then add the red wine vinegar. I’m not offering amounts in this recipe, only because I like my vinaigrettes strongly vinegar-flavored. Most people I’ve cooked for do not.

If you want some zing, add some Tabasco sauce, taste away, and season more if necessary. I added more salt.

Make sure the vinaigrette is smooth. If you use cruets for your vinaigrettes, you are familiar with the problem with one little piece of garlic clogging the spout!

The salad I created to showcase this vinaigrette was simple. Butter lettuce, crab, avocado, green onions, and black sesame seeds.


It was a perfect pairing of tastes and textures.

I was lucky enough to have frozen crab legs left over from the holidays, so I used that crab. But grilled shrimp or scallops would also be divine.

Note: This recipe actually makes a fabulous dipping sauce if you omit the vinegar.

Café de Paris Butter

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Café de Paris butter is something I’ve never come across, until I saw it on the blog called Food is the Best Shit Ever.

I know, I’ve told friends of mine whose children I’ve taught cooking to that I’ll never swear on my blog, but that is the name of some Aussie guy’s blog.  And I love it. Not just because of great food, of course, but also because that’s what I’d call my blog if it wouldn’t embarrass my kids.

I’m pretty sure he owns a restaurant or at least cooks at a restaurant and he especially loves to grill. He’s got a great sense of humor, and is irreverent – two really important personality traits in my book. Here’s a batch of tacos he made using barbequed pork belly and chorizo. Brilliant.

A quote from the author’s ABOUT page: Food is “my thing” through and through. I’m up in the morning (that is not a euphemism… although, maybe it is) thinking about food. I go to work and cook food for people all day. I come home and cook dinner for family and friends. I cook some more on my days off. Sure I do other things… but I just can’t remember what they are right now.

So this “guy” (obviously) gives no historical reference to this butter other than it obviously being French. Maybe he’ll read this post and help us out and at least give me his name. Maybe it is Guy!

This butter uses anchovies and capers. I prefer jarred anchovies. My only capers were salted so I gave them a rinse before using.

You’re going to have to have some steaks on hand so you can devour this butter!

Café de Paris Butter
(enough for a few steaks. Remaining butter will last in the fridge for 2 – 3 weeks)

1 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 shallot or ½ brown onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
20 g Indian style curry powder
250 g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup picked parsley leaves, chopped
2 tbls lemon juice
1 tbls Worcestershire sauce
5 anchovy fillets
½ tbls baby capers
1 tspn sea salt
1 tspn ground pepper
4 – 5 basil leaves, chopped
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook the onion, garlic and curry powder over low heat until soft and fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Place all of the remaining ingredients through the basil and thyme leaves in a small blender jar.

Then add the cooled shallot mixture.

Process all ingredients until just combined. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Put a big ol’ spoon or two onto your steak as it’s resting.

I can honestly say that this butter is spectacular! I even added a little salt to it, which surprised me.

I used Penzey’s sweet curry powder, which I love when I’m not using individual spices, but I think there must be a high ratio of turmeric in it. The flavor of the butter is a little curry-strong, and it’s certainly quite yellow!

Next time I will cut back on my curry powder but, trust me, it did not keep me from enjoying the butter on the filets.

I also think that next time I will process the butter more. I don’t really like chewing on parsley! But the butter flavor is outstanding.


Thanks, Guy from Australia!

I googled Café de Paris Butter and it became popular at a brasserie of the same name, Café de Paris, in Geneva, Switzerland.
 

Spicy Scrambled Eggs

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In spite of owning Plenty, a wonderful Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook, I just had to purchase Plenty More, published in 2014. And I’m certainly glad I did.

For the blog, I’ve made zucchini Baba Ghanoush, and I’m especially intrigued by a membrillo and Stilton quiche, made with butternut squash, so that will be next.

But one recipe I bookmarked on the first read-through is Spicy Scrambled Eggs. Nothing exceptional except, well, it is. There are spices, herbs, eggs, tomatoes, a chile pepper and did I mention spices?!!


From Ottolenghi: Many of my brunch dishes were devised BC (before children), so food-meets-the-need-to-soothe was often in mind when cooking on a Sunday morning. A few dishes have remained part of the weekend breakfast repertoire since we started turning in early on a Saturday night. This is one of them.

Spicy Scrambled Eggs
Serves 4

2 tablespoons sunflower oil
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 small onion, finely diced
1 1/4″ piece fresh ginger, peeled, finely chopped
1 medium red chile, seeded, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
4 medium tomatoes, peeled, cut into 3/4″ dice
8 eggs, beaten
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2/3 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Urfa chile flakes

Put a large, preferably nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and add the oil, cumin, caraway, onion, ginger, and chile. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft.


Add the ground spices, tomato paste, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and for and stir for 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 8 to 10 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.


Add the eggs, turn down the heat to medium-low, and continuously, but very gently, scrape the base of the pan with a wooden spatula.

You want to end up with large, curd-like folds and you want the eggs to be soft and very moist.

Cook the mixture for a total of about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle with the green onions, cilantro, and chile flakes.

Serve at once.


Enjoy!

Tomato Basil Soup

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There was a little bistro here in my town – a sandwich, soup, and salad kind of place. It was successful, but the owners eventually retired and moved to Texas to be closer to their extended family.

The one thing I always ordered was their tomato basil soup. It was rich, tomatoey, and perfumed with sweet basil. And I don’t typically order soup at restaurants.


This is my attempt to recreate something hopefully similar, and definitely good, based on the following criteria.

1. I believe in using good quality canned tomatoes. Summer fresh tomatoes are lovely, but can lack in sweetness, or worse yet – can be tart.

2. I’m adding a carrot to provide a sweet boost, something I learned from making an Italian tomato tart.

3. I’m including a few sun-dried tomatoes for sweetness; they also help thicken.

4. Dried basil goes into this soup. I know that it seems unsophisticated, but I feel both fresh and dried herbs have their places in cooking.

Tomato Basil Soup
printable recipe below

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, halved
2 – 28 ounce cans San Marzano whole tomatoes, or other high quality brand
6 sun-dried tomato halves, jarred in oil
1 tablespoon (or more) dried sweet basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces heavy cream

Melt the butter in a large enameled pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and sauté for about 5 minutes.


Add the garlic halves and stir for about 30 seconds, then pour in the canned tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes.

Simmer the tomato mixture for at least 30 minutes, uncovered. Cook longer if there’s still too much liquid; you’ll be adding cream later.

Stir in the sweet basil and salt, and season to taste.

Let the soup cool. Then pour the soup into a large blender jar, along with the cream.

Return the puréed soup to the pot and heat through before serving.

Even with the cream, the soup remains tomato-red, and definitely rich in flavor.

If more richness and creaminess are desired, you can always add a little sour cream or creme fraiche.

Alternatively, crumble a little goat cheese on top.

This soup is fairly quick and definitely easy. If you don’t have sun-dried tomatoes, just use a good quality tomato paste instead, about 3 tablespoons. I like tubular tomato paste for a small job.

Add more dried basil if the soup isn’t basil-y enough. You should definitely taste the tomato-basil combination!

 

 

Bourbon Slush

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In August, a bunch of us partiers got together at a friend’s house. I kid about the partying, cause we’re not exactly dance floor type folk at our age. It was more about wandering around our friend’s beautiful garden talking flowers while the guys played horseshoes.

Being August, it was hot. To help cool us off, our hostess prepared a specialty drink, which she always does, often with some new flavored vodka, or something muddled… it’s always really inspired.

This time, I was hesitant. The drink was a bourbon slush. I can hardly stand the smell of bourbon (or any brown liquor for that matter) let alone the taste.

But, I did want to taste it, out of courtesy at least. And, it was good! To serve, Sheila was scooping the bourbon slush out of a plastic container and placing the granita-looking mixture in copper mugs.

So while we walked around and discussed gardening, cause we’re that hip, we slurped away on our slushes. They were such delicious and refreshing. Like a grown-up version of an Icee!

Sheila offered ginger ale and club soda if you wanted to top off the bourbon slush, but I enjoyed the slush as is because it was so hot outside.

According to Sheila, a bourbon slush is not something new. In fact, could it be called vintage? Perhaps like an Old Fashioned? Supposedly, it was a popular drink way back when, often served at holiday parties.

At Christmas time, I decided to make bourbon slushes. When I though about something bubbly to add, based on the fact that there are citrus flavors in a bourbon slush, you can bet I reached for Fresca as my mixer!

So here’s the recipe that our dear friend Sheila uses.

Bourbon Slush
printable recipe below

1 – 12 ounce can frozen orange juice
2 – 12 ounce cans frozen lemonade
7 cups water
3/4 cup white sugar
2 cups strong tea, decaffeinated
2 cups bourbon, nothing fancy
Fresca, optional

Set frozen juices out for a while until they soften a bit. Then mix all of the ingredients together except the Fresca.

Put in freezer in Tupperware-type container with a lid. Place in the freezer overnight.

To serve, use an ice cream scoop or spoon and place in cold-proof cups!

If desired, top with Fresca. This was actually a great combination!

Well, believe it or not, these are just as good at Christmas time!

I served the slush with panetonne, but it would work just as well with a cheese and charcuterie platter, or a bratwurst.

These aren’t strong drinks, so bourbon lovers could add another splash.


Thanks, Sheila!
 

 

Sausage Stuffing

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When I started following food blogs, I realized some authors had initiated them for the purpose of cataloging family recipes. Therefore the blog was their family cookbook essentially.

I didn’t think much of that concept, because I really didn’t have family recipes. My recipes were those I followed after I got married, when I began cooking seriously, based on saved recipes, those from cookbooks, or these days, recipes online as well.

Every day or two that I cooked, I made a new recipe. Thus my motto – so much food, too little time! There was always something to learn from a recipe, whether a technique or new ingredient.

And then there were holidays, like Thanksgiving. Of course I always made a turkey, but I never made it the same way, which also led to various-tasting gravies. But the side dishes were always different. When my daughters were really young they didn’t take part in the leisurely Thanksgiving meal, so it was an opportunity make new festive dishes – sometimes embracing our favorite global cuisines!


But when my daughters got older, they had Thanksgiving requests. Fine with me, but then I had to figure out what they were requesting. Like their request recently for sausage stuffing. No clue. What kind of sausage? What else is in it? No memory. Was it cornbread? Sourdough? Not sure.

Well great. Now I’m wishing that I’d documented this mysterious Italian sausage stuffing for my own purpose! So this recipe is one I’m (maybe) recreating so that next year I can remember it! I’m pretty sure it’s French-bread-based, and I remember using cognac and cream in the stuffing, inspired by a French recipe ages ago.

And the reason I didn’t post it before Thanksgiving is that I don’t only cook turkeys in November. This stuffing doesn’t have to be stuffed in a bird, either. It makes makes a nice side dish, prepared in a baking dish.

Italian Sausage Stuffing
Serves 4

1 baguette
2 tablespoons butter
16 ounces Italian sausage, crumbled
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup of cream, or more
1 tablespoon cognac
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

If you’re baking the stuffing in a baking dish, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease an 8 x 8” baking dish; set aside.

Remove the crusts from the baguette and crumble the bread. Measure 2 cups; set aside.


Heat the butter in a
large skillet. Cook the sausage over medium heat until no pink shows. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a bowl.

Using the remaining fat, saute the onion for about 5 minutes, now allowing too much caramelization. Stir in the garlic, and place the sautéed vegetables with the sausage.

Stir the bread crumbles into the sausage mixture gently, then pour the cream and cognac over the top. Stir again gently, and check to see if the stuffing is moist. You don’t want it wet, but it also shouldn’t be dry.


Add the remaining ingredients. Spoon the stuffing into the baking dish and bake, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes.

The top should be golden brown.

If you prefer, any kind of whole-grain bread can be substituted for the French bread, and I’ve even used raisin bread in stuffings.

Plus, pecans and dried cranberries can be included as well.

And as I mentioned, you don’t only have to make stuffing on turkey day. Here I’ve served it with a turkey cutlet, but it’s just as delicious with chicken.

The stuffing is moist but not mushy, which is to my liking.