Monday, November 12, 2018

Baked Cheese and Sausage Ziti #BakingBloggers

The perfect weeknight family meal or Sunday supper, this baked cheese and sausage ziti is quick to put together but full of flavor. Comfort food at its best.

Food Lust People Love: The perfect weeknight family meal or Sunday supper, this baked cheese and sausage ziti is quick to put together but full of flavor. Comfort food at its best.


For many years, nay, for my whole life, my mom has been singing the praises of cooking in cast iron. She has an enviable collection of cast iron pots of every size and shape, an amazing array.

When I was younger, she’d offer me a pot or two, but I couldn’t be bothered with what I thought were the difficulties of keeping cast iron clean. Plus, before I lived in Dubai, I simply didn’t have enough luggage allowance for all of my shopping, never mind bringing back a very heavy iron pot from Houston.

Finally, just a few years ago, Mom kindly offered again and I accepted the 13 1/4 inch (34cm) beauty you see in these photos. Let me tell you, friends, I use it All The Time. And I regret the years before when I didn’t say yes to the cast iron. It’s actually quite easy to keep clean and is more nonstick than my actual “nonstick” skillets. So just for the record, I want to say, my mother was right and I was wrong.

Baked Cheese and Sausage Ziti

And while I am admitting my errors, let me also say that this pasta is probably actually penne, not ziti. A little research after the fact revealed that while ziti can have ridges, most don’t. But who has ever heard of baked penne? So baked ziti it is. Either way, your family will be fighting over the crispy bits.

Ingredients
3 medium cloves garlic
1 medium onion, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 lbs or 680g fresh hot Italian sausage, casings removed
2 (14.5 oz or 411g) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb or 450g  uncooked penne or ziti
3/4 cup or 75g grated Parmesan cheese

For baking:
1/4 cup or 25g grated Parmesan
1 cup or 110g grated mozzarella

For garnish – finely chopped parsley (optional)

Method
Adjust oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, until just al dente. Scoop out a cup of the cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta and return it to the warm pot you used for boiling it.

Mince the garlic and onions.

In a large iron skillet, add the olive oil, garlic and onion. Cook over a medium heat until the onion softens, being careful not to let the garlic burn.

Add the sausage meat and cook until it is browned, breaking the sausage into small pieces as you stir.



Add in the two cans of the seasoned diced tomatoes. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 8-10 minutes.



Remove the pan from the stove and tip in the cooked pasta stirring well.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese and the cup of reserved pasta water. Taste the mixture and add salt if needed and a few generous grinds of black pepper from a pepper mill.



Sprinkle the mozzarella and additional Parmesan over the top and put the skillet in your preheated oven.



Bake for 30 minutes, covering the skillet with foil, if it begins to brown too quickly.



To serve, sprinkle with a little finely chopped parsley, if desired.

Enjoy!

Food Lust People Love: The perfect weeknight family meal or Sunday supper, this baked cheese and sausage ziti is quick to put together but full of flavor. Comfort food at its best.


This month my Baking Bloggers group is sharing cast iron pot recipes, both savory and sweet. Many thanks to our organizers, Sue of Palatable Pastime and Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm.


Baking Bloggers is a friendly group of food bloggers who vote on a shared theme and then post recipes to fit that theme one the second Monday of each month. If you are a food blogger interesting in joining in, inquire at our Baking Bloggers Facebook group. We'd be honored if you would join us in our baking adventures.


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Food Lust People Love: The perfect weeknight family meal or Sunday supper, this baked cheese and sausage ziti is quick to put together but full of flavor. Comfort food at its best.
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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Hot and Sour Chicken Soup #FoodieExtravaganza

Hot and sour chicken soup is a restaurant favorite that is quick and easy to make at home. With bits of chicken breast and cubes of tofu, it’s high in protein with a comforting spicy and flavorful broth that will cure whatever ails you.

Food Lust People Love: Hot and sour chicken soup is a restaurant favorite that is quick and easy to make at home. With bits of chicken breast and cubes of tofu, it’s high in protein with a comforting spicy and flavorful broth that will cure whatever ails you.


Aside from its healing properties, hot and sour chicken soup also brings back fun and fond memories for me.

Many years ago, my sister lived near a Chinese buffet restaurant we adored. It had The Best pork ribs and Sichuan green beans, my favorite things to eat there, but everything else was pretty tasty as well.

When my eldest nephew was old enough to eat real food, my sister would scoop the little cubes of tofu out of the hot and sour soup for him, blow on them to cool them off, then set them on his plate. It was a lot of fun watching him trying to pincer grasp the tofu with his plump baby hands and get it to his mouth. Considering how soft and slippery tofu can be, he did a great job. Those were good times.

This month, my Foodie Extravaganza group is making chicken soup in honor of National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day on November 12th. Make sure to scroll down past my recipe to see the rest.


Hot and Sour Chicken Soup

This version of hot and sour soup is adapted from two separate recipes from Ken Hom’s Foolproof Chinese Cookery and Joanne Chang’s Flour, Too. Both of these wonderful recipes use pork. I have used boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead.

Ingredients
2 small boneless chicken breasts (about 9 oz or 250g by weight)
2 tablespoons canola or other light oil
1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 chilli pepper, minced
2 tablespoons sliced onion tops (white part only – save green for garnish)
5 cups or 1.2L chicken stock
7 oz or 200 grams tofu (bean curd), medium firm
3 1/2 oz or 100g shiitake mushrooms
Salt

For the chicken marinade:
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine or substitute dry sherry
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch each of salt and sugar

For the egg mixture:
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Pinch salt

Just before serving:
1/4 cup or 60ml Chinese black (mature) vinegar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili bean sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

For garnish:
Chopped cilantro
Sliced chilli peppers
Sliced green onion tops
Slivered ginger

Method
Combine your marinade ingredients in a small bowl.


Slice your chicken breasts very thinly and add them to the marinade. Mix well and set aside.


In a measuring cup with a spout, whisk the eggs with the sesame oil and the pinch of salt. You can use a bowl but the spout will making pouring the egg into the soup much easier. In another small bowl, mix together the vinegar, light soy, the dark soy, the chili bean sauce and the sesame oil. Set aside.



Clean and finely slice the shiitake mushrooms. Cut the tofu (aka bean curd) into 1/2 in or 1 cm cubes.



In a deep saucepan, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, ginger and green onions and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Be careful not the let the garlic color.

Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 more minutes.



Add the stock and bring the soup to a simmer.

Add the tofu and mushrooms and bring the soup back to a simmer over medium-high heat.



Now add the egg mixture in a very slow, thin and steady stream. Use a chopstick or a fork to pull the cooked egg slowly into strands.

Turn the fire off under the soup and stir in the vinegar mixture.

Serve each bowl garnished with cilantro, green onion tops, sliced red chili peppers and slivered ginger, as desired.

Food Lust People Love: Hot and sour chicken soup is a restaurant favorite that is quick and easy to make at home. With bits of chicken breast and cubes of tofu, it’s high in protein with a comforting spicy and flavorful broth that will cure whatever ails you.

Enjoy! 

Food Lust People Love: Hot and sour chicken soup is a restaurant favorite that is quick and easy to make at home. With bits of chicken breast and cubes of tofu, it’s high in protein with a comforting spicy and flavorful broth that will cure whatever ails you.


How will you celebrate National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day? Try one of our delicious recipes!


Foodie Extravaganza celebrates obscure food holidays by posting delicious recipes your family will love. Posting day is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you're a home cook looking for tasty recipes, check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board!

 Pin it! 

Food Lust People Love: Hot and sour chicken soup is a restaurant favorite that is quick and easy to make at home. With bits of chicken breast and cubes of tofu, it’s high in protein with a comforting spicy and flavorful broth that will cure whatever ails you.
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