Natural Sausage with Zucchini and Eggplant

natural sausage with zucchini and eggplant

At this time of year, we are wondering what to do with all the zucchini.  Using natural sausage and Chinese eggplant, I transformed this ordinary vegetable, which is actually a fruit, into a memorable dish.  Garlic and Aidells’ Spicy Mango with Jalapeno Chicken Sausages give this common garden plant a dramatic bite, with a sweet aftertaste.  Eggplant is a perfect accompaniment to zucchini, and carmelized onions compliment all.  This is a simple, mouth-watering treat indeed.

My pastors are bringing their prolific zucchini to our services now, and I am thrilled. Our church body experiences this benefit every growing season.

Throughout the year, we experience the results of what this couple’s hands accomplish in the realm of the Spirit, but during harvest time we reap what these same faithful hands produce in natural soil.  Their charitable action is steadfast, and it can be concretely seen in the vegetables and fruits, with which they fed our physical bodies.

This particular squash reproduces rapidly; it can quickly grow beyond what is satisfactory.  When it gets over-sized, it contains too much water; its seeds are large and tough; there aren’t enough recipes to utilize this inundation.  (Learn more about its biology and history at Zucchini Bread, 2017/07/31.)

Our pastors watch this fruit/vegetable prudently; thus, readily picking it before it grows beyond its prime, whenever possible.  Our church is like a prototype of their healthy garden.  Pastors Monte and Dawn care for us like prized plants: watering with the word, observing diligently, pruning with exceptional wisdom and love…We are indeed well-tended.

I can’t express gratitude enough that our Lord saw fit to place me under their protection; it is here that I became equipped to fulfill my purpose as a food historian.  I invite you to access the bread of life at our website alfc.net

Meanwhile eat heartily, by cooking this delicious recipe.

Aidells’ Spicy Mango with Jalapeno Chicken Sausages

Natural Sausage with Zucchini and Eggplant  Yields: 4-5 servings.  Total active prep time: 45 min.

2 1/3 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 medium yellow onion, cut evenly in 1/8 inch slices

12 ounces natural sausage, cut diagonally  (Aidells’ Spicy Mango with Jalapeno Chicken Sausages are the best here; available at most local supermarkets.)

1 lb Chinese eggplant, cut in 1/2 inch cubes  (See photo below.)

4 cloves of garlic, minced  (For convenience, use 2 frozen cubes of garlic from Trader Joe’s.)

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is important for health reasons; available in nutrition center at local grocery store.)

3/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste

chopping eggplant

2 carrots, thinly sliced at a diagonal

1 1/2 lbs of zucchini, cut in 1/2 inch cubes

  1. Clean vegetables, using an inexpensive, effective spray of 93% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide; let sit 3 minutes.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  2. In a sauté pan, heat 1/2-1 tsp of oil; when a small piece of onion sizzles, add all onions and carmelize over medium/low heat, stirring every 2 minutes until color starts to form; then, stir every minute, until dark brown; when finished, deglaze pan with 2 tbsp or more of water (scrape the fond, or cooked-on juices, off the bottom of pan with a spatula); set aside when finished, adding to the bowl of meat described below.  Watch onions carefully, while performing the next steps.
  3. Rinse vegetables; cut them and meat, as described in the above list of ingredients; set all aside in separate bowls.  Mince garlic, if using fresh.
  4. finished product

    Heat 2 tsp of oil in another frying pan over medium heat.  When a piece of sausage sizzles in pan, add the other sausage slices and brown quickly, watching carefully as not to burn; place in a large bowl, carefully saving juices in the pan.

  5. When meat is removed, heat 2 tsp more of oil with the left-over juices, add eggplant, mix oil in well, and deglaze pan (scrape off fond left over by meat) with 2 tbsp or more of water.  Cook covered until soft, stirring every couple of minutes; deglaze pan again; transfer eggplant to the bowl of meat.
  6. Heat 2 tsp of oil in same pan; add carrots; cook for 3 minutes, or just until tender, stirring occasionally.  Mix zucchini into carrots; cook covered until limp, stirring several times.
  7. When vegetable is done, blend in garlic, salt and pepper; cook until you can smell the garlic.  (If using frozen, make sure it is melted and distributed well.)  Mix in meat, onions, and eggplant; adjust seasonings; heat thoroughly.  Serve with delight.

Carmelized Onions and Carrots

carmelized onions and carrots

Anything carmelized thrills our taste buds, for this cooking process brings out the sugars in foods, and our mouths savor sweetness.  Chef Gary Danko states it aptly: “Carmelization equals flavor.”1

Wikipedia defines this process as “the oxidation of sugar, a process used extensively in cooking for the resulting nutty flavor and brown color.”  It further defines it as a type of non-enzymatic browning reaction.

Foods which contain sugar lend themselves to this process; my recipe uses two such foods.  Carmelized onions are a blessed addition to my sautéed carrots, for the high sugar content of onions causes the above chemical reaction to easily occur.

Carrots also tend to carmelizes some, when cooked properly.  As far back as 1747, carrots were recognized as a sweet vegetable, for then the Prussian chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf discovered that they, as well as beets, contained small amounts of sugar.2

The presence of carrots in the Americas came directly or indirectly from Spain; their earliest appearance in these two continents dates back to 1543, when European vegetables were introduced into New Spain, to our south.  Our now common orange root subsequently found its way into North America; it was brought by English explorers, either coming up from these Spanish possessions mostly, or coming directly from England; there this vegetable had been established in the mid-sixteenth century by Flemish weavers, who were fleeing the persecution of Spain’s Phillip II.  Later in 1597, it was noted by English botanist John Gerard that carrots were also growing in Germany; their presence in the American hemispheres, however, came from the Spanish.3

multi-colored carrots

Joy of Cooking, copyrighted 1964, has a recipe for Carrots Vichy; this is a somewhat familiar recipe for thinly sliced carrots that are cooked, covered with a small amount of water (preferably water from Vichy, France), butter, and sugar.

Vichy is a spa and resort town in central France known since Roman times for its therapeutic springs.  During World War II, it was the home of the French State (Etat Francais), the seat of Nazi collaborationist government; it was chosen, because of its relative proximity to Paris (4.5 hours by train), it had the second largest hotel capacity at the time, and its modern telephone exchange, which made it possible to reach the world by phone.4

This town was also my home for four months during the fall of 1975!

Today we find carrots even in desserts.  We enjoy the familiar carrot cake in the West, while India knows halwa, or a fudge-like food made primarily with carrots, sugar, and milk.

My recipe is like a dessert, for it delights the child in us that loves that which is sweet.  Enjoy!

  1. Andrew Dorenburg and Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), p. 42.
  2. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1995), p. 158.
  3. Ibid., pp. 94, 97, 107.
  4. https://en.wikipediea.org/wiki/Vichy

beginning stages of carmelization

Carmelized Onions and Carrots  Yields: 3-4 servings.  Total prep time: 55 min.

Note: if desired, make these carrots several hours in advance, reheat just before serving, or better yet, using two pans, make a double batch of carmelized onions well ahead, for they keep in refrigerator for three days (I have even frozen them).

4 1/2 tsp oil   (Avocado oil is best here for flavor and quality; coconut oil is also very good-these are the most healthy cooking oils, for olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1/2 tsp butter

1 medium onion, halved at the root and stem, cut into 1/8 inch slices

6 extra-large carrots, or the equivalent  (Organic, multi-colored carrots are excellent and inexpensive at Trader Joe’s, see photo.)

4-5 medium/large cloves of garlic, minced  (May use 2 cubes of  frozen garlic; available at Trader Joe’s.)

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is important for optimum health; available in health section at most supermarkets.)

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, or to taste

  1. Be sure to cut onions in 1/8 inch slices, as thinner slices will burn easily.  Heat 1/2 tsp oil and 1/2 tsp butter in a large sauté pan over medium/low heat.  Do not crowd your pan with too many onions, or they will steam, producing water, and it will take longer to carmelize them. (Use two pans for a double batch.)  Keep heat at medium/low the approximate 45 minutes of cooking, or they will burn and/or dry out.  Be patient with cooking; don’t stop short of the perfect finished

    onions turning color during last 15 minutes

    product.

  2. Let cook for about 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes (see above photo for the beginning stage of carmelization).  While these are cooking, you may start carrots as directed in step 5; be sure, however, to stir onions regularly.
  3. Onions will start sticking to the pan at about 30 minutes; after this, stir every minute; the trick is to let them cook long enough to brown, but not burn.  May have to lower temperature and add a little more oil if they start to burn.  (See photo for color of onions starting to change during this last 15 minutes.)
  4. Onions will be deep brown in color when done (see bottom photo).  When cooking is complete, deglaze pan by adding water, stock, or wine; then, immediately scrape fond on bottom, using a wooden or plastic spatula made for high temperatures, incorporating these browned bits and carmelized juices into onions.
  5. Meanwhile scrape cleaned carrots with a sharp knife; this preserves the vitamins which are just under the skin, as opposed to peeling them.  Thinly and evenly slice them at a diagonal, set aside.
  6. If using fresh garlic, mince now, set aside.
  7. carmelized onions finished

    Heat 2 tsp oil in another large skillet over medium/high heat; when a piece of carrot added to pan sizzles strongly, or “jumps in the pan”, add half the carrots and distribute oil evenly.  Do not crowd pan, or carrots will steam rather than sauté; cook this vegetable in two batches.  Lower heat to medium immediately.

  8. Cook until carrots are soft, about 10 minutes, stirring somewhat frequently.  When carrots are cooked, deglaze pan by adding liquid (water, stock, wine, or balsamic vinegar); then, immediately loosen fond with a wooden or plastic cooking spatula; this adds incredible flavor.  Seat aside in a bowl and repeat steps 7-8 with remaining carrots.
  9. When carrots are cooked, stir into carmelized onions, which are finished.  Heat thoroughly.  Add garlic to hot mixture, cooking only until it smells pungent (or if using frozen garlic, cook only until it is dissolved and evenly distributed).  Do not burn garlic, for details on cooking garlic, see Tomato/Feta Chicken (2016/07/25).  Season with salt and pepper.
  10. May set aside and reheat just before serving.  Leftovers are great!

 

Parmesan Dover Sole

pan of baked Dover sole

Over a month ago I was celebrating a belated Christmas get-together with Carol, a friend of 31 years.  Our time in each other’s company is always rich; my desire for our merrymaking was that my food would do the honors, blessing our long-term bond.  This delicious dish answered this ambition beyond my expectations.  I share it here for your use with those close to you.

Friendship and food are both treasured gifts.  When we mix the two together, life explodes.  I always endeavor to meet my guests’ particular needs, thus making each dinner engagement unique and exceptional.

For instance Carol doesn’t like hors d’ouvres, as they were never served in her family of origin; for her they take away from an acute appetite for the main meal.  Consequently, we just partake in tea and conversation for the first half hour of our gathering.

This sensible person has a heightened awareness of taste.  She knows good food and eats with purpose, maximally enjoying each bite.  This takes concentration; my friend allows herself this luxury; thus, we spend much of our repast in silence, focusing on gastronomic pleasures.

This discipline was first displayed to me when I was 20 years old, while waiting on table in my father’s restaurant.  (Joy unspeakable happened to me then, as I served the public with our exceptional ailments.)  My About Page on this website notes that which is true for each of us, for it details the unfolding of my destiny, which has been happening throughout my entire life; I was born a food historian.  An excellent example of this is what I learned about the gift of hospitality, while serving the public in my youth; during that instructive time, a young couple showed me what a treasure stillness brings to eating.

Tourists peopled my family’s eatery in Glacier National Park and this unique pair was probably there on their honeymoon.  I initially approached their table with rousing emotion, my usual display of a genuine heartfelt welcome; my spirit, however, was quickly corrected.  This excitable enthusiasm, which was normally highly pleasing to those on holiday, was not appropriate in their presence, for there was a holy reverence about them.  My sensitive response was an immediate change of demeanor.  Throughout their lengthy feast, I watched them with awe, as they indulged in each other’s company and our kitchen’s delights, in their unparalleled way.

I intuitively knew how to respect them with a quiet spirit.  However, this was so foreign to me that I felt like I was walking on egg shells, but oh the glory of it all!

Since then, God has given me a friend with whom I can practice what these two taught me, forty odd years ago.  Carol and I uphold veracity in all of life’s dealings; thus, even our eating is veracious.  Because of the honesty in our souls, we engage in veneration to God as we consume food; therefore, you can see my need for a dish that would rise to our integrity, which I knew would be present at this gathering.

My heart’s desire was met in this Parmesan Dover Sole recipe; how facile and pleasing it is beyond words.

sauce cooking

Parmesan Dover Sole   Total prep time: 1 1/3 hr/  active prep time: 50 min/  baking time: 30 min.  Yields: 3-4 servings.  Note: you may double this recipe, leftovers are great, however fish only keeps for 3 days.

1/2 tsp oil  (Coconut oil is best here for flavor and quality; you may also use avocado oil; olive oil is carcinogenic, when heated to high temperatures.)

1 medium yellow onion, halved at the root and cut in even 1/8 inch slices

5 medium cloves garlic, or to taste, minced  (May substitute 2 cubes frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s for easy prep.)

1 lb Roma tomatoes, chopped small  (Organic is best; the organic Roma variety is not that much more expensive than regular tomatoes.)

1/2 tsp sugar, optional  (This brings out the flavor in the tomatoes.)

1/2 tsp salt  (Real Salt is so important for your body’s optimum health; this product is available in the health section at most leading grocery stores.)

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

1/2 tsp Better Than Bouillon  (Either this chicken or vegetable flavored base will do; this product is available at most grocery stores.)

3/4 cup boiling water

Spray oil  (Pam coconut spray oil is ideal, available more reasonably in our local Winco brand.)

1 lb Dover sole fillets, or other type of whitefish, such as flounder  (Dover sole is a type of sole that has very thin fillets, which is ideal for absorbing sauces; see Thai Coconut/Lime Flounder, 2016/12/05.)

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved

Rice, steamed according to directions on package

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  (If you prepare dish ahead of time, do steps 2 through 9 before hand; then, begin preheating oven 1 hour before serving.)
  2. beginning stages of caramelization

    Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium/low heat; add onions and caramelize, by stirring every several minutes until color starts to form (see photo); then, stir every minute until dark brown (see photo below).  Do not crowd onions in pan, or they will sweat, taking much longer to cook.

  3. If using fresh garlic, chop and set aside.  Spray tomatoes with an inexpensive, effective vegetable spray, a mixture of 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide; let sit for 3 minutes; rinse well.  Go to next step.
  4. Meantime dissolve Better Than Bouillon in the hot water, set aside.
  5. Chop tomatoes in small pieces and place in another frying pan; add garlic, bouillon mixture, sugar, salt, and pepper, stirring well.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; then, turn heat down to medium/low; simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until a sauce is formed, with the tomatoes somewhat chunky (see above photo).  Adjust seasoning when sauce is complete. (I encourage you to read tips about cooking properly with garlic in Tomato/Feta Chicken, 2016/07/25.)
  6. finished product

    Begin steaming the  rice while tomatoes are cooking.  (If you are preparing this ahead of time, start this starch when you put cold fish dish in preheated oven, 50 minutes before serving.)

  7. For a single recipe, spray with oil a 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 3 inch pan, or 2 ½ quart baking dish; for a double recipe, use a 9 ½ x 13 x 2 inch pan.  Place fish fillets in bottom of pan.  Note: it is not necessary to wash pieces of fish or meat; only poultry carcasses, where blood is captured inside, need washing.
  8. Pour prepared sauce over raw fish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, see top photo.  (Refrigerate fish dish, if making it ahead.)
  9. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 50 minutes-time varies if fish is cold from the refrigerator.  Fish is done when its center is opaque and it flakes with a fork.
  10. Enjoy this incredibly good dish!  Leftovers are also delicious.

Thai Coconut/Lime Flounder

Salad with leftover Thai flounder

salad with leftover chilled Thai flounder

A long-awaited-for marriage took place in my church in October.  A feast at my bountiful table was part of my wedding present to our venerated couple.

Our bride Dina was particularly interested in learning how to cook, with ease, for her new groom.  My bright idea was to begin my dinner gift in the kitchen with teaching her how to make the meal.  I prepared all the steps, just like you might see on a cooking show: the ingredients were set out in small individual dishes, along with the corresponding pans and utensils. All was in place for the lesson to flow naturally.

My priceless inheritance from my parents was a gene that “knows” food. Therefore I intuitively conceived this delicious dish, which was specifically geared for her husband’s dietary needs.  An exquisite, ultra simple recipe resulted.

Surprise and hesitancy occurred upon my friends’ arrival, as I informed Dina that she was going to make dinner, under my close direction.  She, being true to form, rolled up her sleeves with courage.  Her nervousness soon dissipated, for the facility of my simple instructions comforted her.  Joy unspeakable resulted: a chef was born! I have observed, as an aside, that this woman approaches all of life’s challenges with this same spirit.

Are you timid about stepping into the unknown, either in or out of the kitchen? May you receive encouragement to advance in faith; start by trying my recipes. They look lengthy at times, but are effortless!  The cause for this seeming protractedness is my inclusion of practical details, which make food preparation easy and enjoyable.  You’ll sense that you are in  cooking school, when you use my receipts, as I teach at every point.  Rest assured-I will educate you for the joy of cooking.

My favorite way to serve this smooth flounder, with its slight bite, is over a good pasta (however I used rice for my newly weds); either will bless the taste buds. Also, cold leftovers of this fish top off a salad superbly.

This feast pleased Dina and Dale; and me as well!

Thai coconut lime flounder dinner

Thai coconut/lime flounder dinner

Thai Coconut/Lime Flounder  Yields: 4 servings.  Total prep time: 40 minutes.

Note: flounders close relate to soles; thus, you may substitute any sole here (also see Parmesan Dover Sole, 2017/03/27).

1 tsp coconut oil  (Other oils will do, but coconut is best for flavor and quality here.)

1 medium yellow onion, halved at the core, and cut in even 1/8 inch slices

1 lime, juiced

7 oz Extra Thick Coconut Cream, or half of a 14 oz can  (This is available at Trader Joe’s.)

3/4 tsp dried, crushed red pepper  (Save spice jars and refill yearly with fresh, cheap “bulk’ spices.)

1/4 tsp salt

4 fillets of flounder, approximately 1 pound  (Wild-caught is best; may substitute a pound of sole, which is a close relative to flounder.)

Boiled pasta or steamed rice

  1. beginning stages of caramelization

    Start cooking rice, according to directions on package.  If using pasta, begin boiling water in a big pot; to which you add 2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp oil-any kind of oil will do.

  2. Place 4 individual dinner plates in oven; set the temperature on warm.
  3. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium/low heat; stir in onions well; caramelize, by stirring every several minutes until they start to turn color (see photo); then, stir every minute until dark brown (see photo below); watch carefully while going to next steps.  (Do not crowd pan with onions, or they will sweat, taking much longer to cook.)
  4. Meanwhile roll lime on counter; press down hard with your hand, until the meat of the fruit is broken down and softened; juice lime; set aside.
  5. Place whole can of coconut oil in a small storage container, stirring thoroughly, until milk and cream are completely blended.
  6. Add half of the coconut cream (7 oz), lime, red pepper, and salt to caramelized onions.  Stir well and slowly bring to a soft boil over medium heat.  If preparing for guests, you may choose at this point, to set aside coconut/onion mixture and heat it 15 minutes before serving.  If you are waiting, be sure to have the plates warm, rice cooked, or water boiling when you start to cook the flounder.  (Note: you can freeze leftover coconut cream, or use within a week.)
  7. finished caramelized onions

    Start cooking pasta in boiling water about 1o minutes before dinner time. Boil until it is al dente, about 7 minutes, do not over cook. Drain and place on heated dinner plates when done.

  8. Meanwhile add two fillets of flounder (more if using smaller sole) to hot coconut cream/onion mixture, which has been heated over medium temperature.  Poach briefly on each side, only until color in center is opaque.  Do not overcook.  Remove to heated dinner plates, on which you have placed pasta or rice.  Repeat this step with the remaining fillets.  Cover with sauce.
  9. Serve it forth!