Photography ~ Cooking ~ Life

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bean Soup with Sausages

 Okay, so we loved this soup. It really is wonderful, though I have to admit to making my own slight changes to the recipe. A favorite chef once said, "take a recipe and make it your own". I'll never be able to say that I don't heed that advice.  lol

My changes to this recipe - Instead of stove top mine was made in the crock-pot (cooked on high for 5 hours), so the beans were only rinsed as opposed to soaking overnight. The browned sausage was added in about half an hour before serving (we use The Original Brat Hans Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage available at Whole Foods Market). I used vegetable broth instead of chicken, doubled the carrot and celery, and used tomato paste instead of sauce. With this batch I omitted the pasta, and I have to admit that I didn't puree any of the bean mixture.

Next time I might add just a bit more red pepper flake.

Pasta e Fagioli con Salsiccie
(Bean Soup with Sausages)
Nick Stellino

1 pound sweet Italian sausages, which have been browned, cut in half and then sliced in 1/4-inch slices, (in shape of a half moon)
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
2 cups tomato sauce
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken broth
1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked in water overnight and drained
1/2 pound pasta, Spaghetti, or Linguine, broken into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour the oil into a large stockpot, add the garlic, red pepper flake, rosemary, onion, carrot, and celery. Cook over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring well. Add the tomato sauce, bay leaves and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the beans and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring well. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 11/2 hours with the lid slightly ajar, stirring every 15 minutes.

After 1 1/2 hours transfer 4 cups of soup to a blender and process until smooth, then stir back into the soup, add the sausages and cook for 30 minutes more on low heat. If needed add salt and pepper to taste before serving the soup.

Optional: Once you add the processed soup back in the pot break up the dry, uncooked pasta in small pieces and add to the soup with the sausages.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Quirky BBC Movies

Over the past couple of nights hubby and I have been watching a BBC mini-series that was suggested to me. Up until then, I had never even heard of it. It's a little off the wall, but then we like that sort of thing. As long as it's not too off the wall. lol

It's called Lost in Austen, and is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice like you've never seen it done before. A very modern twist on the story.

I've read mixed reviews, and I guess I can understand how die hard Pride and Prejudice fans might be upset by this series, but I thought it was fun.

I will admit here and now that I've never read the book (I know - *faint* - I plan to remedy that soon), but I have seen one BBC mini-series (starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth), and plan to see another version soon (Keira Knightley).

I love the original story, but I like this off-beat take on it as well. It follows the basics of the original story, but there are some twists and turns (and slight changes of character) thrown in. And though technically not a time travel movie, the concept is interesting.  

A modern day woman, disenchanted with her life, finds herself transported to the storyline of her favorite book. She soon discovers that being there isn't as easy as she dreamt it would be.

If you like the basic story of Pride and Prejudice, if you like quirky BBC shows, check this out. Just don't say I didn't warn you. ;-)

Postcard Friendship Friday - Yaquina Bay Bridge

The Yaquina Bay Bridge (pronunciation - ye-kwin-a) is located in Newport, Oregon. It is one of the most recognizable of the US Rt. 101 bridges designed by Conde McCullough.

The bridge opened on September 6, 1936, at a cost of $1,301,016. A total of 220 people worked to pour 30,000 cubic yards of concrete and fabricate 3,100 tons of steel. The main span is flanked by identical 350 ft (107 m) steel arches. The rest of the structure is constructed of reinforced concrete. One concrete deck girder forms the northern approach, and a series of 5 arches makes up the southern part of the bridge.

The details of the bridge are typical of McCullough's style.

The back reads;

The channel is spanned with a 600-foot steel through arch, and two 350-foot steel deck arches. The north and south plazas are each 51 feet long and rise from the city and state parks. Total length of the structure is 3,260 feet, about 3/8 mile. The roadway is 27 feet wide with two 3 1/2' sidewalks. Main piers are carried 50 feet below zero tide level.

See other fabulous postcards at The Best Hearts are Crunchy.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Morning snow....

The extent of our snow 'event' here in the valley.

It snowed off and on all day, but we never did get much accumulation. After the first bout this morning, the sun came out and the snow nearly melted all away. After about an hour it snowed again. Then the sun came out again and melted everything (except for a few patches here and there) and it warmed up to 42. Later in the afternoon it dropped back down to 33 and we got more flurries. Looking out there now it's hard to believe we ever had anything to begin with. Colder temperatures are predicted for tonight, but no more snow showers are in the forecast.

It was fun while it lasted. 

Of course the idea of snow shut down nearly every school in the state. When I was a kid (right here in Oregon) it took a whole lot more than the threat of a snowflake to shut down schools. People in the mid-west and east would be horrified at the closures here in the NW.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grilled Flatbreads

Today has been cold and rainy, with some sleet and snow showers thrown into the mix. I've had a sinus headache nagging at the edge of my head. You know the type. The one that never quite makes it to a full blown headache, but stays there threatening all the same.

I haven't been motivated to do much of anything, but with the week half over I've been trying to putter away at a few jewelry designs, and also have been doing some baking and cooking. This type of weather is good for baking/cooking. I was really on a roll yesterday, and haven't done too bad on that front today either. lol

Last night I made flatbread.

This recipe is so simple that even if you've never made bread before, I highly recommend it.

I used lowfat yogurt (1%), and I cooked my flatbreads on a panini press (like I said, it's been cold and rainy), but the results are fantastic. Last night I served this bread with pumpkin risotto. The leftovers will be served tonight with Bean and Sausage Soup.

Grilled Flatbreads

You can roll these breads out using a rolling pin, but shaping by hand is less fussy, and creates an appealing rustic appearance with variations in thickness.

Yields twelve 4-inch breads.

2-1/4 tsp. (1/4-oz. packet) active dry yeast
1/3 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
9 oz. (2 cups) bread flour; more as needed
2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) whole-wheat flour
1 tsp. table salt
Kosher salt for sprinkling

Put 3/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°F) in a food processor and sprinkle with the yeast. Let sit for a few minutes so the yeast begins to dissolve. Add the yogurt, sugar, and oil and process for 3 seconds to blend. Add the bread flour, whole-wheat flour, and table salt. Process for about 20 seconds and then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Continue to process for another 30 seconds. The dough should form a mass, pulling away from the bowl's sides. If it's sticking to the sides, add more bread flour, 1 Tbs. at a time, just until the dough forms a cohesive, if slightly sticky, mass. (Try not to process more than 1 minute total.)

For easier cleanup, knead and shape the dough on a flexible cutting board or silicone baking liner dusted with flour instead of on your countertop.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface (see the tip at right). Knead by hand, flouring your hands if the dough is too sticky to handle, until it feels smooth and elastic, about 1 minute. Put the dough in a lightly oiled medium bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes. (If you're making the dough ahead, punch it down after it doubles, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.)

Prepare a medium-low grill fire; scrub the grill grate clean with a wire brush.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a bench knife or chef's knife, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Let the balls rest, covered with a clean towel, for about 10 minutes.

Using your hands, gently stretch the balls into disks (4 to 5 inches in diameter) and put them on two large lightly oiled rimmed baking sheets. Let the disks rest, covered with a clean towel, for 5 minutes. Brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.

Grill, salted side down first, until the bread develops golden-brown grill marks on both sides, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side (depending on the size of your grill, you may need to grill the bread in two batches). Serve immediately.
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