Sausage and Potato Breakfast Casserole

This is a great dish for a brunch. It’s like hash browns with sausage gravy.

Sausage and Potato Breakfast Casserole
(serves 6)

8 oz. chopped broccoli
1 lb. Bulk Breakfast Sausage
2 Tablespoon All Purpose Flour
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon dried onion
1 ½ cups Whole Milk
1 1- lb. Package Frozen Shredded Hash Brown Potatoes
1 ½ cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9″ x 9″ x 2″ glass baking dish.

If using fresh broccoli, steam or boil for 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain well. If using frozen broccoli, thaw completely.

Cook sausage in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until brown, breaking into small pieces with back of spoon. Mix in flour, garlic power, and dried onion. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture thickens and comes to boil, stirring to scrape up browned bits on the pan. Remove from heat.

Arrange potatoes in prepared dish. Top with broccoli. Sprinkle lightly with salt and  pepper. Cover with 1 cup cheese,  then the sausage mixture. 

Bake casserole for 50 minutes. Top with remaining ½ cup cheese. Return to the oven to melt cheese and finish cooking, about 10 minutes.


Green Sauce (Salsa Verde)

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But not Mexican Salsa Verde. This is Italian Salsa Verde – a full flavored green sauce for veggies, potatoes, grilled chicken or fish. Do not run away because it contains anchovies. It’s not fishy but those little fishies pack a lot of good umami, amping up the flavors of the other good things, like parsley.

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Green Sauce
(makes about 1/2 cup)

1 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley leaves
1 small clove garlic, peeled
1 slice soft Italian bread, trimmed of crusts and cut into small pieces
2 anchovy fillets (packed in oil, not packed in salt)
1 Tablespoon capers in brine, drained
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (use a good one, you are going to taste it)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
salt, maybe (lots of salty things in here)

Process parsley and garlic until finely chopped. Scrape down bowl. Add bread, anchovies, and capers. Process again until everything is finely chopped, scraping down the bowl as needed to get it all chopped. With the processor running, drizzle in olive oil and vinegar. Process until reaches sauce consistency, about 30 seconds. Taste for salt; you probably won’t need much. Store in the fridge for up to a week. Bring to room temperature before using – the oil will solidify when chilled.

A few Tablespoons are sufficient to dress 1 pound of green veggies.

Mussels Baked with Tomatoes and Potatoes

Sadly not my local seafood market. These are HUGE mussels on display at the River Market in Valdivia Chile

Dropped off the map recently. Went to Texas to visit family. Not much cooking going on there, though I did make a damn good Greek lamb stew for the fam. Did manage to snag some epically good BBQ at Pecan Lodge in Dallas. Boy, if you are near there, check it out! Delicious. Seriously delicious. Just expect to wait in line – it’s also very popular. Back to reality…my husband breaks his collarbone. Yeah, that’s been fun. And, we just broke ground on our new house in the mountains and we had relatives visiting from Chile. Whew!

Just had to share a photo of the spread at Pecan Lodge. That beef rib weighed nearly 1 1/2 lbs! No, I didn’t eat it by myself.

I made this because mussels were on sale. I love mussels. Actually, I like most food that comes from the sea. Mussels are cheap, very nutritious, and amenable to many preparations. Most mussel lovers know of moules frites. This is a bit different, a casserole. Hearty and tasty. The original recipe came from Marcella Hazan and I pulled it out of Gourmet. And I tweaked it. Because that’s what I do.

Mussels Baked with Tomatoes and Potatoes
(serves 4)

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds potatoes, scrubbed
1 14-16 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
3 pounds mussels, debreaded and scrubbed
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
4 Tablespoons panko crumbs
4 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
salt & black pepper
non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a 2 quart deep gratin dish with cooking spray or grease with a little olive oil.

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover with water, add about ½ Tablespoon salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender but not soft. Drain and run cold water over the potatoes to cool. Set aside while you cook the mussels.

In a large pot, cook the mussels, covered, over medium heat until they open. It takes about 5 minutes for most of them to open. Remove the open ones to large bowl and cook for another 2 minutes. If a mussel doesn’t open, discard it.

While the mussels are cooling, peel the potatoes and slice in ¼” slices. Lay the potatoes in the gratin dish and season with salt and black pepper.

As soon as the mussels are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the shells and set the meat aside in a medium bowl. Add olive oil, parsley, garlic, 2 Tablespoons bread crumbs, 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Mix to combine well. Taste it for seasoning and adjust if needed.  Spread the mussels on top of the potatoes. Top with the drained tomatoes. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Cover with the remaining bread crumbs and cheese. Spray generously with cooking spray (see Note). Bake for 20 minutes until the top is golden. Let the dish sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: Being a small person, I try to cut back on the fat (which adds lots of calories) where I can. If you want to make this richer, toss the bread crumbs for topping the casserole with an additional 2 Tablespoons olive oil rather than using the cooking spray.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Shepherd’s Pie

Here’s a recipe I created for a St. Patrick’s Day cooking class. Nope, nothing traditional about this. But, it sure is tasty! Get your corned beef in the deli – you can buy a small amount of it and it’s already cooked. Or, if you cook a whole corned beef for St. Patty’s Day, you can reserve a little bit for this recipe. It’s a good way to stretch a small amount of leftover meat into a hearty meal.

St. Patrick’s Day Shepherd’s Pie
(serves 6)

non-stick cooking spray
1 pound carrots chopped
1 cup chicken broth, preferably unsalted or low-sodium
¼ medium head of cabbage, cored and chopped (about ¾ pound)
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
7 oz. corned beef, chopped
2 Tablespoons oil
2 Tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
¼ cup milk
2 Tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400° F. Spray an 11x7x2″ baking dish with cooking spray.

Place the carrots and chicken broth in a 3-4 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until carrots tender, about 15 minutes. Place the cabbage, peas, and pearl onions in a large bowl. Start the potatoes cooking in a large pot of water.

When the carrots are done, pour them and the cooking liquid over the other vegetables.Place the saucepan back over medium heat. Add the oil. Sprinkle in the flour and mix with oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the vegetables, all the liquid in the bowl, corned beef, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix to combine and pour into baking dish.

When the potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes), drain them, and put back in the pot. Add milk, butter, salt, and pepper. Mash until fairly smooth. Spread on top of filling. Bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle on shredded cheese and bake until cheese has melted.