Monday, January 16, 2017

Cannelloni Florentine with Puttanesca Sauce

In Facebook land, I have written about cannelloni three times. One time I wrote of a sausage sauce based on Marcella Hazen's five ingredient sauce. Another time, I described a Chicken Florentine with a cheesy mushroom bechamel sauce. The third was a gluten and carb free version using long slices of zucchini to replace the noodles. That is the beauty of cannelloni - you roll up a cheesy stuffing that contains whatever you wish and then you sauce it how you please before baking.  Somewhere out there someone (Not Me) makes a smoked oyster and pineapple variation.

This version will present the regular roll ups but will utilized a sauce that tends to the puttanesca side

This recipe prepares 14 roll up tubes in a 13 X 9 pan and 4 tubes in a side dish.

Sauce Ingredients:

One small onion diced fine (around one cup)
4 ounces baby portabella mushrooms diced small (around two cups)
28 ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
One 15 ounce cans tomato sauce
One 12 can tomato juice
1 head garlic, peeled and minced.
½ cup dry red wine (optional)
1 Tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste
2 to 3 Tablespoons minced fresh herbs (Oregano, Marjoram, or Basil, or combination)*
A full pinch of red pepper flakes*
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 rounded tablespoons capers
1/4 to 1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives
3 inch stripe of anchovie paste (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

*You may use a rounded Tablespoon or more of Italian seasoning if fresh herbs are not available. Some seasoning blends, such as Cento and King Arthur Pizza Seasoning include crushed red pepper flakes. If so, adjust the size of the pinch of red pepper flakes listed in the recipe.

Pasta and Stuffing Ingredients:

18 pieces Oven Ready (no boil) lasagne pasta
Two 15 ounce tubs of ricotta (whole or part skim)
8 ounces shredded mozzarella
4 ounces grated Parmesan
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 package (8 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, chopped and squeezed dry
3 Tablespoons minced parsley
4 grinds black pepper
Pinch of salt
Pinch fresh grated nutmeg

Sauce Preparation:

Put the olive oil in the bottom of a heavy large saucepan. Add the onion and stir to coat. Turn on the heat to medium. When the onion begins to sizzle and cook, add the mushroom evenly over the onion. Do not stir. This allows the mushroom to begin cooking without soaking up all the oil.
When the mushroom begins to soften and to give up its juices, stir and continue cooking until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms soft.

Add the tomato paste and stir in. Cook another minute. Add the olives, capers, garlic and herbs. If using the anchovy paste it goes in here. When the mixture becomes very fragrant, add the red wine and cook an additional minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato juice. Stir well and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.

Stuffing Preparation:

Mix all ingredients except the pasta. (Wasn’t that difficult?)

Roll Construction:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Use a tea kettle to heat water just to boiling and pour a little over an inch in the bottom of a 13 X 9 baking dish. One by one add 18 no boil lasagna sheets. Jiggle and use a fork to make sure they do not stick together. When the sheets have become flexible, remove them from the water and arrange in a single layer on dry kitchen towels. 

Use a large trigger ice cream scoop (doser) or a large spoon to put a ¼ cup amount of stuffing on each. 

Use the remainder to even out.

With the short side of the sheets facing you, spread the mixture evenly from the close end toward the other, but leave about two inches uncovered on the far end. Roll the sheets away from you and use the uncovered pasta to seal the tube.

Put 1 and ½ cups of sauce in the bottom of the dried out 13 X 9 pan. Spread the sauce evenly. 
Arrange 14 tubes, seam side down, in that pan. In the back up pan pour enough of the sauce to coat the bottom. Put the remaining 4 tubes seam side down in that pan. Cover all tubes with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the surface well with Parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake the large pan 45 minutes. Pull the small pan out five minutes early. Remove the foil and let stand 15 minutes before serving with additional grated Parmesan.

Either pan may be frozen before or after baking. If frozen before baking, thaw well before inserting in a hot oven.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Cheesy Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole

The original recipe for this came from a Bon Appetite, maybe thirteen years ago? I have made it so often I no longer need to look it up, and, like stew, each time is a little different. If you internet search I am sure you can find the original and you could compare it to this. It's all good.


1 head cauliflower
2 medium heads broccoli
5 ounces baby spinach
1/2 onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup half and half or milk
1 cup reserved vegetable cooking water
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 double handful shredded Italian Five cheeses
1 cup Panko
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
spray olive oil
salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the florets of cauliflower and broccoli from the stems, dividing the larger pieces into bite size pieces. Keep the two vegetables separate.

In a large pot (I use a dutch oven) bring 5 cups of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the cauliflower to crisp tender and remove from the pot with a spider. Place the vegetable in ice water to stop the cooking. Bring the water back to the boil and cook the broccoli identically and chill it as well.

Bring the water back to the boil. Put the spinach in the water and use the spider to dunk it until it wilts. Remove the spinach and turn off the heat under the water. By now the water will be tinged green. Reserve 2 cups of the liquid and pour the rest away. Put the dutch oven back on the stove and when the residual heat in the pot dries it, add the butter and turn the heat back on to medium low.

When the butter melts and begins to bubble, add the onion and stir until the onions turn translucent, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the garlic, flour, and nutmeg and stir as you cook the roux for three minutes. Add a large pinch of salt and and pepper. Add the chicken stock and stir as the mixture begins to boil. Add the dairy and continue to stir. Add one cup of the reserved cooking water and stir as the sauce comes to the boil. Add the Italian 5 cheeses and stir until the cheese has melted. If the sauce is tight, add more of the reserved cooking water. Taste test and adjust the salt if necessary. Turn off the heat.

Spray grease a 9 X 13 casserole. Add the cauliflower, broccoli, and spinach into the sauce and mix well. Turn the mixture out into the greased casserole. Mix the Panko and Parmesan together and thoroughly cover the top of the vegetables. Use spray olive oil to dampen the breadcrumb mixture.

At this step you can cover the casserole and hold it, refrigerated, for up to 48 hours.

Place the uncovered casserole on the middle shelf of the heated oven and bake until the bread crumbs begin to brown and the sauce is bubbling, 45 minutes to an hour.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Tuscan Chicken in an Italian Cheese and Garlic Cream Sauce

My previous post hailed from Provence. This post comes from the internet. I saw a recipe post for a creamy Tuscan chicken. The idea struck me a wonderful, but the recipe was boring and based upon short cuts. That caused me to do a little workup for a full flavor version. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did cooking it.


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each cut in half*
1 small onion, diced
5 to 6 ounces of picked and stemmed fresh spinach
1/4 cup each shredded mozzarella, 5 cheese Italian bland, and grated Parmesan
6 petals of oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, julienned, with 2 Tablespoons of the oil 
1 rounded Tablespoon of capers
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup thin sliced mushrooms
1 pint cream
1 to 2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning (I used the Penzy's Tuscan Sunset)
salt and pepper


In a heavy bottomed saute pan, heat the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes just to the smoking stage. Generously season the chicken breasts and brown them on both sides. Do not attempt to fully cook the breast pieces. Remove the chicken and tent it with foil. Do not clean or empty the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium low and saute the onion and mushrooms until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, seasoning, tomatoes, and capers. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes until the mixture knocks you down with aroma. Add the cream and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and add the spinach and cheeses. Stir frequently as the spinach wilts and the cheeses melt.

Return the chicken breast to the sauce, with any juices, and spoon sauce onto the chicken. Simmer until the sauce thickens and the breasts have no pink in the interior. (FDA says 165 degrees)

Serve over noodles, rotini, or orzo.

* This dish would be better with thigh meat, but breast was what I had.

Sausages Provencal

By now readers of this blog have realized I favor several different cuisines. I have posted Southwestern dishes, Indian dishes, Vietnamese/Thai inspired dishes, and many, many Mediterranean based dishes. Today's dish has Provence stamped all over it. Provence is that part of France on the Mediterranean and adjoining Italy. You could call it the olive oil part of France to distinguish its cuisine from the classic butter, butter, butter cooking in the rest of France. Think lavender and thyme and anchovies and saucy red wines and tomatoes and oranges.

This dish features sausages. Most types other than hard sausage or sweet sausages will work, from Ekrich smoked sausage through the spinach and sundried tomato varieties you find at Sams or even kielbasa. The apple stuffed and cheese stuffed varieties can be used, but really do better in other uses. You can even add a second ethnic influence if you choose to use sweet Italian sausage, chorizo, or andouille. Basically, this one has room to use what you have or prefer.


8 ounces to 1 pound of sausage, sliced in 1/4 inch rings
1 28 ounce can of high quality diced tomatoes with juices
1 onion, sliced thin from root to sprout
1 bell pepper in a contrasting color, seeded and sliced strips approximately 1/4 inch wide
1/4 cup of drained and pitted kalamata or nicoise olives
1 to 1.5 Tbs. Herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper
2 splashes of fish sauce or one 3 inch stripe of anchovy paste
1 splash of Sriracha or a pinch of red pepper flakes
extra virgin olive oil


Set the oven for 275 degrees.

Add two to three Tablespoons of olive oil to the bottom of a Dutch oven and heat it over medium high heat to the shimmering stage. Add half of the sausage rings and brown both sides of the rings. Remove the fried rings to a separate bowl and add the remaining sausage. Brown the sausage and remove the rings to the same bowl. Turn the burner to medium and add the onion and the sweet pepper strips. Fry the onion and peppers until the edges begin to brown. Add the garlic and spices and continue to cook until very fragrant.

Add the olives and the tomatoes. Cook until the liquid begins to boil and then add 1/2 cup of water and the reserved sausage rings. Bring to a boil and cover. Place the Dutch oven in the preheated oven and bake for an hour. Reduce the oven to 200 degrees and continue to slow cook until time for service.

Serve over cheesy polenta or wide butter noodles.