Archive for October, 2020

I’m really enjoying Ina Garten’s new cookbook, Modern Comfort Food. In this recipe, colourful peppers, fennel, sausages and cherry tomatoes are roasted until browned and delicious. Serve over cooked pasta or polenta. Cook’s note: I omitted the fennel and used all hot Italian sausages, instead of a mixture of hot and sweet.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for additive-free sausages, such as Free From brand. I used wine from Frogpond Farm Winery with a sulfite level of less than 10 parts per million. Genuine Parmesan cheese is additive-free.

Roast the sausages and vegetables separately for 20 minutes, add sausages to vegetables and roast for another 25-30 minutes

Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve with cooked pasta or polenta

Ina Garten's roasted sausages, peppers and onions


2 large yellow onions, cut into ½-inch (1.25-cm) wedges through the core

2 large red bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into ½-inch (1.25-cm) strips

2 large orange bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into ½-inch (1.25-cm) strips

2 large poblano or hot banana peppers, cored, seeded and cut into ¼-inch (0.64-cm) stiprs

1 medium fennel bulb, halved, cored and sliced crosswise ¼ inch (0.64 cm) thick

2 tbsp (30 ml) minced garlic (about 6 cloves)

1 tsp (5 ml) dried oregano

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

1 lb (454 g) sweet Italian sausage, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces

1 lb (454 g) hot Italian sausage, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces

1 pint (500 ml) red cherry tomatoes

1/3 cup (85 ml) dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio

½ cup (125 ml) julienned fresh basil leaves

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (204 C). Arrange two racks evenly spaced in the oven.

Put the onions, peppers, fennel, garlic, oregano, 1 tbsp (15 ml) salt and 1 ½ tsp (7.5 ml) black pepper in a large (14 x 18-inch/35 x 45-cm) shallow roasting pan. Add ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil and toss well. Don’t crowd everything in a smaller pan; the vegetables won’t brown. Separately, on a sheet pan, toss the sausages with 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil and spread them out in one layers. Place both pans in the oven for 20 minutes.

Toss the vegetables and transfer the sausages to the roasting pan. Add the tomatoes. Pour in the wine and roast for another 25 to 30 minutes, turning the sausages to brown evenly. Off the heat, sprinkle on the basil, toss well, taste for seasonings and serve hot with grated Parmesan on the side. Serves 6.

From Modern Comfort Food by Ina Garten

This recipe from Bowls by America’s Test Kitchen combines green beans, ground pork and water chestnuts, bathed in a mouth-numbing Sichuan sauce and served over rice. Cook’s note: I used radishes instead of water chestnuts, white rice instead of brown and orange and pineapple pieces instead of mandarin oranges.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure the peppercorns and red pepper flakes don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. Use tamari instead of soy sauce and check to make sure that the sesame oil, water chestnuts and mandarin oranges are additive-free.

Cook the beans

Add the pork and cook

Add the water chestnuts (I used radishes instead) and sauce

Sichuan stir-fry bowl


1 tsp (5 ml) Sichuan peppercorns

3 tbsp (45 ml) water

2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce

1 tsp (5 ml) sugar

1 tsp (5 ml) sesame oil

½ tsp (2.5 ml) cornstarch

1 tsp (5 ml) vegetable oil

12 oz (340 g) green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise

4 oz (113 g) ground pork

3 garlic cloves, minced

¼ to ½ tsp (1.25 ml to 2.5 ml) red pepper flakes

1 (8 oz/125 ml) can sliced water chestnuts, drained

2 cups cooked brown rice, warm

¼ cup (60 ml) fresh cilantro leaves

Mandarin orange segments (optional)


Process Sichuan peppercorns in spice grinder until coarsely ground, about 30 seconds. Whisk ground peppercorns, water, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and cornstarch together in bowl; set aside. Heat vegetable oil in 12-inch (30-cm) non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add green beans and cook, stirring frequently, until green beans are shrivelled and blackened in spots, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add pork and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon until no pink remains, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk sauce to recombine then add to skillet along with water chestnuts and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened, about 15 seconds.

Divide rice among individual serving bowls, then top with green bean and pork mixture and sprinkle with cilantro and mandarin oranges, if using. Serves 2.

From Bowls, by America’s Test Kitchen

Cooking pork chops can be tricky. You want the chops to be cooked but not grey, tough and overdone. This recipe from Food and Wine calls for the pork chop to be coated with salt and ground peppercorns, seared and then roasted. While the pork rests, make a quick sauce with butter, red wine and shallot. I used two chops that weren’t quite one inch (2.54 cm) thick, so I reduced the roasting time. A good meat thermometer is handy to have for this recipe.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure the peppercorns and the butter don’t contain colour. I used a red wine from Frogpond Farm Organic Winery that has a sulfite level lower than 10 parts per million.

Sear the salt and peppercorn-coated chops and then roast until just done

While the chops rest, make a butter, red wine and shallot sauce

Pork chops au poivre with red wine-shallot sauce


1 (1-pound/454-g) bone-in pork loin chop (1 inch/2.54 cm thick)

1 teaspoon (5 ml) kosher salt

1 teaspoon (5 ml) freshly ground peppercorn blend

2 teaspoons (10 ml) neutral oil (such as grapeseed)

3 tablespoons (45 ml) unsalted butter, divided

1 small shallot, chopped

¼ cup (2 ounces/60 ml) dry red wine


Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Place pork chop on a plate; pierce with a fork at ¼ -inch (0.64-cm) intervals. Flip pork, and pierce opposite side. Press salt and peppercorn blend evenly onto both sides.

Heat oil in a 10-inch (25-cm) ovenproof skillet over high. Add pork chop; cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer skillet with pork to preheated oven. Roast until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of meat registers 130°F (54°C), about 10 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven; transfer pork to a plate or carving board. Return skillet to heat over medium; add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) butter, and let melt. Add shallot; cook, stirring occasionally, until aromatic and translucent, about 1 minute. Add wine; bring to a simmer over medium. Simmer, undisturbed, until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) butter; remove from heat, and swirl skillet until butter is melted and emulsified into sauce. Carve pork; serve with sauce. Serves 2.

From Food and Wine

First published in 1983, this plum torte recipe from Marian Burros is one of the most popular on the New York Times cooking website. Besides being easy to make and delicious, it is also versatile. You can substitute any ripe seasonal fruit, such as apricots, cranberries, apples, peaches and pears. You can also vary the pan size, double or even quadruple the recipe and it freezes well.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure your butter does not contain colour. Use freshly squeezed lemon juice and make sure the cinnamon does not contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Place the batter in a pan, top with plum and sprinkle with lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon.

Plum torte


¾ to 1  cup (185 to 250 ml) sugar

½  cup (125 ml) unsalted butter, softened

1  cup (250 ml) unbleached flour, sifted

1  teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder

Pinch of salt (optional)

2  eggs

24  halves pitted purple plums

Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping


Heat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).

Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.

Spoon the batter into a springform pan of 8, 9 or 10 inches (20, 22 or 25 cm). Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.

Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. Serves 8. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees F/149 degrees C.)

From the New York Times