Wickwood's Kitchen ...
COMFORT FOOD FOR NOW
We are all eating healthier these days, but sometimes
you need something comforting, a taste treat, that gives you the
gumption to stay “on track” for the long haul. Sausage, cheese,
butter, intense tomato flavors, and chocolate are some of our
"A recipe is only a theme, which
an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation."
Madame Jehane Benoit
When we’re dependent on grocery store
tomatoes, we like to always have Roma’s on the windowsill. Many feel
that they don’t ripen but au contraire, to our mind. They redden,
sweeten and soften after three or four days in the sunshine. If we
really want to intensify their flavor, we’ll quarter them, drizzle
with a tiny bit of olive oil, and roast for 30-40 minutes at 400.
That said, this brings sunshine to cloudy days, especially atop a
few buttered noodles.
• 1½ pounds sweet Italian sausage
• 1½ pounds hot Italian sausage
• ¼ cup best-quality olive oil
• 1 large yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
• 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
• 2 yellow or orange bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and coarsely
• 8 fresh Italian plum tomatoes, quartered
• 1 cup favorite Tomato Sauce
• cup dry red wine
• ½ cup minced fresh Italian parsley
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• ¼ teaspoon Pimenton or smoked Paprika (optional)
1. Cut the
sausages into ½ inch slices. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over
medium-low heat and add the sausage. Cook stirring occasionally,
until the sausage pieces are well browned, perhaps periodically
2. Add the onion and garlic and cook another 5 minutes. With
a slotted spoon transfer the meat mixture to a deep casserole.
3. Set the casserole over medium heat and add the peppers.
Cook, stirring until the peppers are slightly wilted, about 7
4. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine and parsley and
season. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
Taste, add Pimenton, correct seasoning, and serve immediately
sprinkled with chopped parsley atop noodles or rice, or a mess of
This is a great basic white
lasagna to which you may add a little pesto, chicken, sautéed
vegetables, as you like. When
there is no tomato sauce, the other flavors, particularly the
cheese shine through. With no-boil lasagna this has become one of
our weekday dinners. Serves 6
|• 1 cup
minced shallots, about 9
• 1 stick unsalted butter
• ½ cup all-purpose flour
• ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
• 3¾ cups whole milk
• 1 cup rich chicken broth or store bought
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• ½ cup dry Marsala
• ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
• 1½ cups grated Gruyere
• 12 (7x3 inch) Barilla no boil egg lasagna sheets
oven to 350°F placing rack in middle
2. Cook shallots in butter in a heavy medium saucepan over
medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes.
Add flour and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, 3-4
3. Add nutmeg, then slowly whisk in milk and broth. Bring to
a boil, whisking, then simmer, stirring occasionally, just until
sauce lightly coats the back of the spoon, about 1 minute. Remove
from heat and cool to warm. Add eggs, Marsala, sea salt, ½ teaspoon
pepper, and ½ cup cheese.
4. Spread about 1¼ cups sauce over bottom of an 8x8 inch
baking dish. Cover with a layer of 3 lasagna sheets. Repeat layering
3 more times, and then top with sauce and remaining cheese. Bake,
uncovered, until browned 45-55 minutes. Serve immediately.
"Everything in a pig is good. What
ingratitude has permitted his name to become a term of opprobrium?"
Grimod de la Reyniere
SAUSAGE STUFFED FRENCH LOAVES
This old Silver Palate favorite is a great Saturday lunch or simple
mid-week supper. Serves 4
|• 2 fat,
long loaves French bread
• 8 ounces bulk spicy pork sausage
• 8 ounces ground beef chuck
• 1 medium-size yellow onion, diced
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
• ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
oven to 400°F.
2. Cut off the ends of the loaves and hollow out the core of
the loaves with your fingers. Process the soft bread in a food
processor fitted with a steel blade to coarse crumbs. Reserve the
3. Lightly brown the sausage in a heavy skillet over medium
heat. Add the beef and onion and cook until the beef is lightly
browned, just having lost its rosy color.
4. Combine the bread crumbs, meat mixture, egg, mustard,
parsley, fennel, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Spoon
the mixture into the bread shells; attach the bread ends with small
5. Melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the garlic.
Sauté for 30 seconds, then brush the loaves with the garlic butter
and wrap in separate pieces of aluminum foil. Bake until heated
through, 15-20 minutes. Cut into 1-inch slices or larger as you wish
and serve with a variety of mustards and chutneys.
GNUDI WITH BUTTER AND SAGE
This is one of the signature dishes at The Spotted Pig in NYC and we
repeatedly order it. It’s rich, so just a few with a big arugula
salad more than satisfy. Our version serves 4-6.
|• 2 cups whole milk
ricotta (fresh is best)
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1½ cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
• ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 1½ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 stick unsalted butter
• 24 fresh sage leaves
1. Stir together the ricotta,
eggs, 1 cup cheese, nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper. Add
flour stirring to form a soft, wet dough.
2. Shape dough on a lightly floured surface with floured
hands into 2, 1inch thick ropes. Cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
with a lightly floured knife. Set aside in 1 layer on a parchment
lined baking sheet.
3. Bring 6 quarts of water, with 2 tablespoons of salt, to a
boil. Cook gnudi a few at a time stirring occasionally until cooked
through, 3-4 minutes. Lift out with slotted spoon and drain in
4. Meanwhile, melt butter and sage in a 12-inch heavy skillet
over medium low heat until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Toss gnudi
with brown butter and sprinkle with remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Serve immediately. Sublime.
BIG EASY JAMBALAYA
Springtime always makes us think of New
Orleans ... Mardi Gras, The Heritage Festival, and strolling along
Royal Street at sunset with the air filled with a different fragrant
kitchen aroma every few feet. This is easy cooking, casual like the
city itself. If you have sausage, you add it, or chicken, or shrimp,
or zucchini ... just go with the flow. Serves 6.
|• 1 tablespoon olive
• 2 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 2-inch
• 3 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2 teaspoons Tabasco
• 1½ cups chopped yellow onions
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 6 cloves garlic, peeled
• 1 cup seeded and chopped red bell pepper
• ¾ cup seeded and chopped canned tomatoes
• 4 cups chicken broth
• ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
• 1 cup thinly sliced green onions, green and white parts
• 2 cups brown rice
1. Heat the oil in a large
saucepan over medium high heat. Season the ribs with 2 teaspoons
salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon Tabasco. Cook, covered
until well browned on all sides, about 45 minutes. Be careful
turning the meat watching for spatters.
2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ribs to a bowl and
drain off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat in the pot. Add the
onions and sauté, scraping the brown bits off the bottom, until
translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and sauté
for 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the
tomatoes and ribs to the pot and cook, covered, over medium-low heat
for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Pour in the broth and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes
more. Stir in the parsley, green onions, rice, the remaining salt,
black pepper and Tabasco. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, over
low heat until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 30
minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered for 5 minutes.
Serve immediately. Lip smacking allowed.
CHOCOLATE BOURBON BUNDT CAKE
This past Christmas, The Women of Wickwood
had great fun baking for two days and sending off 40 Christmas boxes
to Company A, First Platoon in Iraq. We were afraid that we might
get arrested by the Booze Police for sending this, but nope, and,
clearly, it was their favorite. It’s no wonder as it’s so chocolaty
and moist and not shy on bourbon ... a real keeper.
sticks unsalted butter, softened. More for greasing pan
• 2 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting pan
• 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, good quality
• ¼ cup instant espresso powder
• 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 cup bourbon and more for dousing
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 3 large eggs
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• Confectioner’s sugar or softly whipped cream for garnish
1. Butter and flour a 10 cup
Bundt pan. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Over simmering water, melt chocolate. Let cool.
3. Put espresso and cocoa powders in a 2-cup (or larger)
glass measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to come to the 1 cup
measure. Mix until powders dissolve. Add whiskey and salt, and let
4. Using an electric mixer, butter until fluffy. Add sugar
and cream until well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time,
beating well between each addition. Add vanilla, baking soda and
melted chocolate, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.
5. On low speed, beat in a third of the whiskey mixture. When
liquid is absorbed, beat in 1 cup flour. Repeat, ending with whiskey
mixture. Scrape batter into Bundt pan and smooth top. Bake until
cake tester comes out clean, about 70 minutes. Transfer cake to
rack, unmold after 15 minutes and sprinkle warm cake with more
Bourbon. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream. YUM.
Note: We like Ghirardelli 60% or 70% cacao for baking.