Soutzoukakia Smyrneika with Olives (Greek Lamb Meatballs)

I discovered this dish at one of my favorite Greek food blogs and knew I had to try them one day. Until I can pony up the cash for a trip to Greece, cooking more Greek food at home will have to do. The dish is charming, rustic, and man does it hit the spot: lamb meatballs in a sauce of tomato and olives.

Soutzoukakia Smyrneika with Olives

I was very tempted to add a little more here and there to pump things up a bit, but resisted the urge and am glad for it. The ingredients make this sound simple in flavor, but it is really to the benefit of the final product–the sharp flavor of cumin cuts through the distinct, delightful lamb flavor, which all just sings in a mellow, but perfectly complementary sauce focused on tomato and olive (lamb and olive is a combo that… click to read more…

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Butternut Squash and Sausage Lasagna

I’m not sure what it is about baked pasta dishes, but I can’t think of one that isn’t comfort food. Rich, creamy dishes like macaroni & cheese and pastitsio readily pop into my head. Another common craving: lasagna. I didn’t feel like putting in the time to make a good bolognese sauce to make that lasagna happen, so instead I opted for a lasagna with a bit of an autumny twist. The usual pasta, Bechamel, and cheese remain, but in place of a meaty, tomatoey sauce, I cooked up a butternut squash-centric sauce with a bit of Italian sausage.

Butternut Squash and Sausage Lasagna

The sauce reminded me a bit of a hearty squash soup I had made last season. It had sweet, smoky, spicy notes that warm… click to read more…

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Grilled Beer Bratwurst with Tangy Apple Slaw

While I try to have a lot of variety in my cooking, there’s still a ton I haven’t tried. For some reason, German food has been stuck in this category for a long time and I’ve been meaning to remedy this for…just as long a time. Finally though, after hearing mention of beer brats at work, I couldn’t take it any more and decided to try to dress up this comfort food to be more than what most view it as: a glorified hot dog (so don’t go putting bratwurst in hotdog buns! Its better than that!).

Grilled Beer Brats with Tangy Apple Slaw

This is a simple meal to prepare, and its really big on flavor. The brats are parboiled in a mixture of beer, shallots, and spices (think the sweet but savory, clean flavors of juniper and caraway) before they get crisped up with the smoky flavor of the grill, leaving the beer mixture to reduce to a thick sauce. These are served alongside… click to read more…

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Penne with Ragù of Roasted Tomato and Sausage

There’s something homey and comforting about a good pasta dish. I’m not sure what it is, but its the kind of meal that just always does it for me. While I had visions of bolognese sauce dancing in my head, I knew I didn’t have the time to make it this week, so instead, I opted for something with a similar feel that was a bit more summery fare. Plus, after seeing Jeff’s roasted tomato & sausage penne, my mind was pretty much set that I had to do something similar.

Penne with Ragù of Roasted Tomato and Sausage

With tomato season coming to a slow end, I can’t find myself getting enough of them. In sandwiches, salads, or sauces, I just need more. I’ve never had tomatoes like I get here in North Carolina. So with my usual, weekly bounty of approximately waymorethanIshouldhavebought, I thought a… click to read more…

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Chicken & Shrimp Jambalaya

I’ve never been to New Orleans, but have always been smitten with its cuisine. Ingredient-wise, it seems simple and unassuming, but the opinions and passion about the right way to do it–well that’s another story. Whatever the case, its all delicious to me. I’ve only come close to doing a Cajun/Creole dish before, borrowing some of the style/flavor, but not going all out. I felt long overdue to actually try a real dish, so I opted for one of the well known stars: jambalaya.

Chicken & Shrimp Jambalaya

Jambalaya has its roots in paella. The core idea: its a rice dish with a very strongly flavored stock, a hearty mix of proteins (e.g. in my case, chicken, shrimp, and andouille sausage), and a very zesty blend of herbs, spice, and of course, the Holy Trinity (pepper, onion, celery). It sounds deceptively simple–almost kind of plain, but then you smell it and taste… click to read more…

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Smoked Ham, Asparagus, Peas, and Swiss Chard Paella

Like I’ve said before, a strongly flavored stock is key to a good paella. For this one, I chose to go very porky and made a strong pork and garlic stock, accentuated with orange and saffron. Really, I just had pork on my mind and so it was bound to show up somewhere. With a strong porky backbone, I decided to let spring-time produce (asparagus, peas, Swiss chard) shine. Since I was smitten with this general flavor combo in the past, I thought I’d revisit it in paella form.

Smoked Ham, Asparagus, Peas, and Swiss Chard Paella

The flavor was incredibly rich and both the pork stock and smoked ham gave the rice an unctuous quality. In contrast, the more sharply and brightly flavored, crisp asparagus, peas, and swiss chard gave a wonderfully fuller flavor profile that kept this feeling light and springy, all… click to read more…

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