Savoury Oat and Parmesan Cookies

I celebrated christmas again recently with my best friend.
It was February and we had not seen each other since December 14th.
We got about an hour and forty five minutes together.
We live about 15 minutes away from each other.
This is sad.
I totally understand it and then I kind of don't. We are busy. We are so busy. There is always something. Even meeting up with my best friend I squished it in between going to the running track and a family movie night (to be fair, it was family day weekend so what's a girl to do?) We work. We parent. We hustle home. Then there is winter. And I remember how the same thing happened last winter. We got a nasty ice storm just a couple of days before christmas and that set the tone for the entire 80 days to follow. Cold, icy, snow and more snow... and nobody wanted to do anything because it just felt so hard to get anywhere. You really do feel like hibernating. The bare essentials - get to work - get food - and that is it. This year the winter hasn't been quite as brutal but it hasn't exactly been easy. The cold has been relentless this year. This has taken it's toll.
Here we are looking down the barrel of March. The calendar has just as many events on it as it did throughout February, maybe even more. And yet something feels just a little bit different in my soul. I've noticed that night time is not chasing my back on the way home from work. I looked at the forecast for this week and it looks like we have a couple of days that are sitting right around the 0C mark. We've got a tidy little week off nestled in about two weeks before easter long weekend. If I had to put a word on that barrel that I'm looking down right now (the one for March - remember?) it would be 'Promise'. Promise is a funny word because it is not a definite. March might not bring me everything that I am hoping it can but at least there is the hope.
Back to our hour and forty five minutes christmas celebration. My best friends gift had been sitting, ready and waiting for months... except for this. Her cookies. These I made on the day that we met. I made sure that they were just cooled enough that I could put them into little freezer bags - 3 to a bag, the perfect portion amount - so that she could take them home and freeze away. She loves this kind of thing and I love doing it for her.

I can tell you that these come together easily and would be great for a party when they would all get scarfed up. I wouldn't bother with them if it was a dinner party thing and there were lots of other courses that could over shadow these little delicacies though - plus who wants to bake cracker cookies when you have a whole dinner party to get ready for? Serve these cookies with some Boursin, Blue Cheese (if that's your thing) or a spreadable something or other. As part of an appetizer or tasting party  - olives, grapes, cheeses, meats, spreads - Lovely.

Oat and Parmesan Cookies adapted from thekitchn

1 cup old fashioned oats (I used quick oats BTW and it was fine)
1/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 lg eggs (or two egg whites if you've just made ice cream and you've got extra whites hanging around looking for something to do)
1 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp paprika
pinch black pepper
1 cup parmesan cheese grated (if you happen to throw in a little cheddar by accident I wouldn't be too upset)
coarse salt (maldon or sea salt)

Preheat oven to 350°F
Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicon liner.
Combine the flour, salt, basil, baking soda, paprika and pepper together. Mix well and set aside.
Combine the oats and warm water and mix well.
Add in the olive oil and brown sugar and mix thoroughly until the brown sugar has dissolved.
Add in the egg and mix well.
Add the flour mixture to the oat mixture and mix until combined.
Add in the parmesan cheese and mix to combine.
Form into balls of about 1 1/2 tbsp or so then squish down into a cookie shape. Place on the baking sheet (they don't spread very much so they can be within an inch of each other) topping each with a little bit of coarse salt (might need to press it in a little)
Bake for about 15 - 17 minutes turning half way through baking. Cookies should be just turning golden brown at the edges.
Cool completely.

Chocolate Pudding and a slew of other things not remotely related to Valentine's Day

I wonder what cruel god or energy force thought that putting holidays which could involve doing things outside (As far as I'm concerned walking to somewhere inside falls into that category) in February was a good idea... in Canada. Yes, let's definitely put family day in February. Just happens to be one of the coldest weekends to date this year. Let's go family day skating... nope. Let's go family day hiking... nope. Let's go family day skiing... nope. Can't even go somewhere on a plane to a place where I can forget that it's beyond freezing back home because it's only a long weekend. This couldn't have been in May? July?
Thank you. Rant is now over.

I will instead bore you with a myriad of things that I have found interesting over the past little while

This movie was fun
And I'm looking forward to this one
Enjoying this tune
LOVING this tune
There is just no excuse for this.
I want this
I really want this
Argh Let's all take a moment here... let people live their lives and get over our own issues/obsession with how celebrities look.
I am learning to perfect my weekend morning cup of coffee. Happier and happier.

My Mom knocked christmas gifts out of the park this year:

And Pudding:

Chocolate Pudding adapted from the kitchen

1 cup whipping cream
2 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup sugar
1 scant tsp instant coffee granules
4 oz dark chocolate (I used 72%), finely chopped
3 tbsp dark cocoa powder
3 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp salt
pinch of cinnamon
3 egg yolks

In a heat proof bowl mix together the cocoa powder, corn starch and salt. Whisk in the cream until completely blended. Whisk in the egg yolks until completely blended. Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed pot heat the milk, coffee granules, cinnamon and sugar over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat up and heat until the milk begins to simmer.
Gradually and slowly pour the heated milk mixture into the cream mixture whisking constantly until it's all mixed together.
Pour the whole mixture back into the heavy bottomed pot and heat until it starts to bubble. Let it bubble for two minutes whisking constantly to keep it from sticking. Remove from heat and cool slightly whisking every minute or so to keep it from forming a skin on the top.
Once it cools to almost room temperature place in a large bowl or into individual bowls. Cover with plastic wrap, placing the plastic wrap right onto the pudding and sealing up the sides as well (this way it won't form a skin). Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
*** If you put yours into a big bowl like I did, don't be afraid to whip or whisk it up a little before serving. It lightened it up a lot.

This was supposed to be Banana Oat Snacking Cake but ended up being Pretzel Chocolate Brownies

I have to start this post by stating that I have decided to experiment with using only 1 space after a period. This decision has been made in an attempt at hiding my age.
Looking back over my last few posts I have realised that there are only baked goods and sweets showing up here. It's given me pause to think about why that might be. Obviously we have cooked more than our fair share of meals and we have not been eating cookies and ice cream for dinner every night. Not any night in fact. I think that recently I have felt completely uninspired at best and disengaged at worst. The odd thing is that I have made some really good stuff. In the fall I let myself experiment with lamb by making a roast leg of lamb which turned out beautifully. A pork dish seasoned with a generous marinate of worcestershire and soy sauce, garlic, ginger and pepper sauce. Rave review. Recently I threw together some leftover roast chicken and slow cooked vegetables to make a pasta sauce. Beautiful. So why do I feel uninspired and apathetic about what I have churned out? And why don't I post about them even when they turn out well. Here are some of my ideas:
1. I don't feel like the pictures will turn out well. It is kinda hard to take an inspiring shot of sauce on pasta (am I wrong here?) or a hunk of meat on a plate... or in a roast pan. Perhaps I need to expand my photographic horizons or just start taking pictures of vegetables and leave it at that
2. I'm tired from making all the damn food (I don't actually think this is true) but I am tired
3. I don't even feel like eating the food myself (this is true unfortunately. Hummus and toast usually wins... and have I told any of you about my new obsession with grapes and cherry tomatoes?)
4. I am feeling uninspired and apathetic about life and I can't even blame winter for that one - although it certainly is not helping
5. My kids are using the computer too much. Perhaps I need to have my very own computer - one of these will do fine, thanks for asking
6. There is not enough room in my brain. I need an upgrade to get more space... or something needs to go to clear some space... no kids... no job... just tossing around some ideas. In truth, I think that this is probably the best answer so far.  It's not that there is no down time it's that the down time is still parenting and all the taxiing to this, that and the other in addition to the chores that need to get done - well that's not really head clearing time is it

These are some classy ass measuring cups that my Mom got me for Christmas.  Awesomest.
So there it is.  Mystery solved. Here is the funniest part - my kids don't even really like the stuff I'm baking. At least they are not terribly interested in eating it. I think they've grown totally accustomed to it and would much rather have a snickers bar than home baked cookies. I had to send about 80% of this snacking cake to school with kid #1. Her friends at school probably think that home baked stuff is a novelty and that it tastes much better than the orea cookies my kids are constantly begging for. She is 14 so after sharing with all of her friends I have some new love interests and someone else wants to make me a superhero costume... my super power being doing shit with bananas and chocolate - meh, could be worse.
For the record - I had to go back through this post and erase an extra space after almost every single period. Including the one in the first paragraph.

This was my original post idea... then I discovered that every single solitary photo I took blew huge chunks.
Banana oat snacking cake adapted form Bon Appetit
makes 1 8x8 square cake

1 1/2 cups oats (I used a combo of quick and classic rolled oats)
1 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg

1 1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs (I used 1 egg and 2 egg whites)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely chopped
5 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (or use chips)

Grease and flour an 8x8 square baking dish. Set aside
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Combine the oats, flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together.  Mix until combined and set aside.
In a large bowl beat together the brown sugar and eggs until they are a creamy caramel colour and smooth.  About 2 minutes.
Add in the melted butter and beat together for another minutes.
Fold in the flour mixture just until all the ingredients are wet.
Gently fold in the chopped banana and chocolate.  Fold in just until mixed.
Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake for about 35 minutes, turning half way through baking.
Cool in pan for about 15 minutes before removing.  Cool a little longer before eating or don't... eat it warm... with ice cream... thank me later.

This is the recipe that goes with the photos you are seeing...
Pretzel, milk chocolate brownies adapted from Alice Medrich via Sassy Radish

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne and a larger pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp dark cocoa
2 lg eggs cold
1 cup large chunks of milk chocolate
3/4 cup (or so) broken bits of pretzels

Preheat oven to 325°F
Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment or butter and flour it and set it aside.
Combine the flour, salt and cinnamon together and set aside
Combine the butter, sugar and cocoa together in a heat proof bowl. Place over lightly simmering water and stir until butter is melted and everything is combined. It shouldn't be too hot and will be gritty looking.
Add the eggs one at a time whisking well after each addition. Once the mixture looks silky add in the flour mixture and whisk just until it's mixed in and you can't see flour anymore.
Poor the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chunks and the pretzels on top of the batter.
Bake for about 28 - 33 minutes (mine was done around 28 minutes) depending on how gooey you want your brownies.
Cool before removing from the pan - unless you think it's cool that they break apart like mine did.

Clementine, bacon and maple (?) sugar cookies

It's interesting to note what inspires people and how inspiration and motivation can often be interpreted as one and the same thing.  Maybe they are the same thing.  In reality at least.  I think that adversity and/or the negative experiences we go through tend to inspire and motivate me more than the positive ones.  Sad but true.  I would venture to say that this is the case for more of us than we would care to admit.
The western world has been motivated to assemble in unity against terrorism and for freedom from censorship.  I had the odd experience of all of this outcry not quite sitting right with me.  Not being sure exactly why I felt odd about it, I started to let myself dwell on the situation and the issues that have arisen around the Paris incident.  Rolling it around, here is where my thoughts have gone up to now:
 - Is freedom from censorship the same thing as freedom of speech?
 - We talk about how powerful words are all of the time.  Our words affect people and can illicit a strong response - sometimes we can determine that outcome and sometimes we can't.  When does what we say become translated as hate?
 - We censor ourselves all of the time - every single day.  Journalists, artists, writers, researchers... you name it.  That censorship is based on the acceptable social norms currently in existence.  There are certain people groups and religious groups that I would never even consider writing negatively about.  However, that might not have been the case 75 short years ago.
 - No one should have to die for the things that those in the Charlie Hebdo offices died for.  Full stop.

I started to articulate what I was thinking to D.  I thought that maybe I was crazy to even be thinking this way.  Turns out that D, while not asking exactly the same questions, was definitely rolling things around as well.  He forwarded this article to me from The Intercept.  As I was reading it, I found myself feeling so thankful that I wasn't alone in feeling odd about this whole thing, I wasn't crazy either and that someone out there had managed to articulate their thoughts in a much more logical and concise way than I could have.  I'm not done stewing about this for sure but there are other things that are just as concerning... what about these guys?  Shall we march?

Look, cookies certainly are not at the top of the news food chain.  World crisis will not be widely affected by the baking of two more dozen cookies.  Still I make cookies.  Maybe I bake cookies for the same reason others watch reality tv or awards shows - for the record, I can't even force myself to sit through either one.  We do it to feel normal.  We do it because it helps us lose ourselves in something else.
Full disclosure:  I found that the cookies I made were a little too clementine overwhelmed.  The maple will be subtle no matter what (sometimes I wonder why I use maple syrup at all when I'm baking) but mine just turned into clementine cookies with a couple of weird bacon sprinkles on the top.  I have adjusted the amount of zest accordingly... feel free to add vanilla as well to round it out more.

Clementine, bacon and maple (?!) sugar cookies adapted from here
makes about 2 dozen

2 cups icing sugar
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 lg egg
1 tsp grated clementine or orange zest (no more than that!)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
dash of nutmeg
2 tbsp maple syrup

1 egg white
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp maple syrup
3 strips bacon - cooked until very crisp, drained and broken into small pieces

Combine the flour, salt and nutmeg together and set aside.
In a large bowl combine the icing sugar and butter.  Beat together until creamy.
Add the egg and clementine zest and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
Continue to beat on low and slowly add the flour mixture.  Beat only until combined.
Divide the dough into two portions.  Roll each portion into 3 inch round logs.  Cover each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 12 hours.
Preheat oven to 370°F
Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicon liner.
Slice each log into 1/4 inch discs.  Place the discs on the lined cookie sheet leaving some room between each for spreading while baking.
Bake for about 7 - 8 minutes.
Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Beat together the egg white, icing sugar and maple syrup until creamy.
Pour about a tsp of icing on top of each cookie and immediately sprinkle with a little of the bacon (might want to press the bacon down just a little to wedge it into the icing)
Leave cookies for a while to let the icing get solid.

Black and Yellow Chocolate Mousse Cake

Now that christmas is behind us and the pressure is off I feel like I can think just a little more clearly.  It's all an illusion of course but christmas seems to carry with it some brain cluttering expectations whether or not you embrace them (I'll leave you to guess which category I fall into).  After what felt like a record number of performances this December we really tried to keep expectations low.  Like really low.  We didn't have a big christmas day dinner (decided at about 4pm that we would glaze and bake the ham in the fridge and have it with leftovers) although D made his amazing omelet for breakfast which sustained us through the day.  We didn't go anywhere on christmas day - or boxing day for that matter. We watched movies, movies and more movies. Ate ham and leftovers again.  Two words: Track Pants.  I think that you get the idea.
Even with the aggressive no-christmas-craziness campaign I still found myself making 4 different kinds of cookies.  There was absolutely no reason for these cookies.  No one asked for the cookies and not one single person needs those cookies, especially at this time of year.  This is probably a good time to mention that because I work in a school I receive chocolates in amounts that are crazy - I donate and give to friends.  So why the cookies? It was the sheer guilt of tradition that motivated them.  Once they were done I realized that the blondies I made sucked (they lasted a day before I called it and they met their end) and that clementine/maple and bacon cookies become clementine cookies because clementine is a bully - I will post a recipe for these though.  From there I needed to find homes for the rest of the stuff because it was physically impossible for us to eat them all.  Merry christmas one and all.
Moving on:
These two articles entertained me: One and Two
This is the funniest thing I've discovered recently (trust me: keep going cause each page gets better and better)
I still need to make these for my bestest because she doesn't like chocolate and because I bake for her.
Can we talk for a moment about how much gushing is going on over this man and his music.  The album cannot be over hyped.
If you haven't gotten your fill of movies just yet then this might help you decide on your next rental.

Mousse cake Pre-Ganache
Mousse cake Post-Ganache
Way Way Way back in early December, D had a birthday.  We couldn't have been busier (all of us) but we still managed to squeeze some gifts and a special dinner in there.  I'm not totally confident about this but I think that D requested my own shepherd's pie concoction.  He did not request this cake - it's possible that he requested cheesecake and I didn't quite take it in... but that also might have been another year.  However, knowing that D loves chocolate mousse cake I decided to make something with chocolate mousse.  I liked the idea of the colour contrast between the layers.  The cake turned out to be surprisingly moist and lasted forever (because D ended up being the only one eating it after 2 days and refused to let it go into the green bin... which is fine because it was his birthday cake).

Chocolate Mousse Cake adapted from Martha Stewart
makes 1  9inch round cake

1/2 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 cup corn starch
pinch cinnamon
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°F
Butter and flour a round cake tin.  Set aside.
Combine the flour, cornstarch and a pinch of cinnamon. Set aside.
Beat together the egg whites and 1/4 cup of sugar until they are stiff and fluffy.
In another bowl combine the egg yolks, vanilla.  Begin to beat together and slowly add 1/2 cup of sugar.  Beat together for about 5 minutes until thick.
Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until incorporated.
Add the flour in 3 stages, thoroughly combining each time.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until the edges are golden and pull away from the sides of the pan and a tester comes out of the middle clean.
Cool completely before removing from the pan.

Chocolate Mousse adapted from Epicurious
make about 3 1/2 cups

1 1/4 cups whipping cream, chilled
3/4 cups whipping cream, room temperature
4 egg yolks
3 tbsp sugar
7oz chocolate (I used between 50 and 60% cocoa solids)

Heat 3/4 cups whipping cream over medium heat.  Remove just before it begins to boil.  Cool for 2 minutes.  Combine egg yolks, sugar and salt together in a bowl.  Pour the hot cream in a slow, thin, steady stream into the egg yolk mixture. Stir constantly until all the hot cream has been added.
Melt chocolate over a double boiler.  Add to the cream mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.  Set aside to cool until at least room temperature.
Whip the chilled cream until it forms stiff peaks.
Fold little by little into the chocolate mixture until all of the whipped cream has been added.
Pour over completely cooled cake.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill.

Chocolate Ganache adapted from Epicurious

1 1/2 cups semi sweet (55%) chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp salted butter

Place the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl.
Heat the cream until simmering.
Pour hot cream over the chocolate.  Stir until the chips are beginning to melt.
Add the butter while the chocolate is still warm.
Stir until everything is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Cool for a few minutes and pour over cake.

Caramel Apple Ice Cream

We are looking down the barrel of U.S. thanksgiving which is really not a thing at all here in Canada. It's just something we are aware of... and maybe do a little black friday shopping on Amazon.   We are in the dead of winter as far as weather is concerned.  Biking has been off the table this week and temperatures have dipped way below what we are used to.  I'm working really hard at not letting this affect my mood greatly.  I am looking at weeks of crazy christmas concerts and events and things that I have to plan and attend and still get organized for January work... and my family is currently checking out the 2015 potato calendar.  It's a real thing.
Here are some things that I thought were noteworthy over the last month:
1.  The Oatmeal's take on Net Neutrality
2.  Thanks to a Canadian quasi-celebrity we have all been talking a whole lot more about sexual abuse and harassment.  Let's hope that this talking continues and turns into a real change in the way society views the women in it.
3.  I've been geeking out to this song
4.  If I don't make this and this soon I just don't know what I'm going to do.
5.  This blogger beautifully summed up a lot of the food lies that women believe about other women. You know all of those food shots where an incredibly beautiful and thin woman about to eat something big and crazy.

I made this ice cream a good while ago and, in the spirit of not spreading food lies, I didn't eat very much of it.  I tested it and it was good.  Truth is I'm not much of an ice cream person.  In fact, lately food and I haven't been close but that's another story for another time.  Kid #2 won't go near this kind of ice cream if it were the last thing on earth to eat.  D basically won't touch ice cream unless it's chocolate or good quality vanilla (I totally get behind that).  So that left Kid #1.  She dutifully had a bowl or two but let out a sigh of relief when we had guests over because we served this ice cream with apple crisp.  It's pretty rich stuff and the texture and tastes worked well together.  Feel free to adjust the caramel to apple ratio if you think it might be too sweet for your liking.

Caramel Apple Ice Cream
makes 1 litre (or so)

1 1/2 cups whipping cream (the heavy stuff)
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks, whisked together in a bowl
1 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla or vanilla paste

Caramel Apple Sauce

3 - 4 sm/med apples - peeled, cored and diced
2 tbsp brown sugar (optional - depending on the sweetness of the caramel that you are using)
pinch of salt and cinnamon
1/2 cup caramel sauce (I made my own from here but you could even melt in some kraft caramels if it came down to it)

Add the diced apples to a heavy bottomed pan and heat over med/low heat.  As the apples start to cook you might want to add a dash or so of water to prevent sticking.  Add in the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Cook until the apples have gotten all mushy and soft and the liquid has cooked down (I simmered mine for about 10 minutes to dry it out a bit)  Remove from the heat, add in the caramel and mix well.  Set aside.

Ice cream:
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the sugar gently over med/low heat for just a minute.  Add in a little of the cream and mix well to dissolve the sugar.  Once dissolved, add in the rest of the cream and all of the milk.  Continue to heat until it almost comes to a boil, turn the heat down to about a half of what you started at and add a little of the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks, stirring constantly.  Continue to add the hot cream to the egg yolks in a very small, steady stream until the yolks are warmed up (about a half a cup of the hot cream).  Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the hot cream. Place it back onto the stove and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture heats up enough to coat the wooden spoon (you should be able to run your finger over the back of the spoon and have the mixture remain in place without running).
Remove from heat and run it through a sieve and into a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap (press down so it is right on the warm custard mixture all the way around and even stuck to the sides of the bowl) and cool completely to room temperature.  Place in the fridge overnight.
Once refrigerator cold, pour into an ice cream maker and run for about a half hour or until the mixture reaches a soft serve consistency.  Pour everything into a freezer container and stir in the caramel apple mixture.
Soften for a few minutes before serving.

Sausage, Cauliflower and Fennel Gratin

There are a couple of things that I want to get out to you before the weekend hits.  It's canadian thanksgiving this weekend and it's not so much that I'm looking to give you some great ideas to plot down onto your feast table but more that I've got these things scratching around the back of my head needing to get out.  I want the weekend off.  I want to spend a little time reconnecting with my 13 (!) yr old kid.  I would love to see my husband for a while - we've been texting so I know that he is out there somewhere.  A long weekend really can't go by without a long, enjoyable run in there somewhere.  Maybe a colourful bike ride through the trails.  These things will cause me to 'give thanks'.  Laundry, cooking, baking, cleaning... only by necessity.
I did a weird thing a couple of days ago.  I made ribs.  Ribs are great, awesome even.  Ribs are totally easy and always get gobbled up quickly and.... I NEVER make them.  I'm not sure what exactly possessed me but there I was with two racks of ribs in my hands at the butcher shop and... Oh look, they've come home with me too.  After a few minutes of stupid easy prep and about 3 hours of low heat roasting later I had some happy people around me.

This is not a recipe you want to serve with ribs.  I guess you might want to serve it with turkey but not ribs.  You definitely want to serve it with some crusty, toasted, garlicky buttered bread... but not ribs.  Ribs need to be with ribs.  It's own thing.  Ribs are the thing that wants to take over the world and no matter what you do they will crush you.  They will over power you and they will be better than you ever imagined you could be even in your wildest dreams.  A delicious but subtle, colourful yet meek, meaty but textured dish like this is just destined to sit sad and lonely in the fridge until those damn ribs are gone.  Then, and only then, will this lovely dish get anything close to the recognition it deserves.
I used honey garlic sausages and I used romanescu cauliflower (or broccoli depending on who you talk to.  I like it because it looks like little pine trees but the white fluffy cloud regular cauliflower will do just fine.

If you happen to be someone who likes a little something weird at your thanksgiving table, or you are looking for a non-turkey kind of table, or you are really not observing the whole turkey table, cornucopia thing at all then you might just want to give this recipe a whirl.

Sausage, Cauliflower and Fennel Gratin adapted from

1 lb sausage (I used italian honey garlic), casings removed
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 cup fennel, coarsely chopped
2 - 3 cup cauliflower, broken into medium sized floret pieces (does that make any sense?)
1 cup spinach, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup honey
1 veggie boullion cube
1/4 cup (scant) juice (I used part of a leftover juice box - apple/grape - from my kid's lunch kit)
3 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper sauce

1/2 - 2/3 cup Bread Crumbs
1/2 - 2/3 cup parmesan, shredded
good dash salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375° F
Butter a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.
Bring a large pot with about 2 cups of water to a boil - add the cauliflower and steam with the lid on for 2 minutes. Drain the cauliflower and set aside.
Heat the same large pot over medium heat.  Add about 2 - 3 tbsp oil and the sausage and onion.  Cook briefly together and then add in the garlic, celery and fennel.  Turn the heat down a bit and cook together for about 10 minutes, until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are softening.
Add in the tomato and spinach and continue to cook until the spinach becomes wilted.
Add in the honey, bouillon cube, juice, worcestershire sauce, oregano, thyme, cumin, salt and pepper sauce.  Mix well and continue to simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes or until the liquid is about halved.
Add the cauliflower to the sausage.  Mix well and pour into the prepared pan.

Combine the bread crumbs, parmesan, salt and pepper together.  Mix and sprinkle over the sausage and vegetables.
Cover and bake for about 25 - 30 minutes or until the edges are browned and bubbling.
Cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

My Favourite Cookbooks

  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
  • The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • More-with-Less Cookbook
  • Moosewood Cookbook

About Me

My Photo
Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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