It's no surprise to our loyal readers that Autumn is my favorite time of year. All my senses sing with joy every time I gaze upon a tree with changing colors or catch a glimpse of the harvest moon and of course enjoy the abundance of fall fruits and vegetables that grace our farm. Gathering freshly picked persimmons, pomegranates, variety of squash, quince and herbs such as rosemary and sage comforts my soul just thinking of the aromas that will engulf my kitchen.
Recently I'm discovering the joys of becoming a lazy cook! Yes, and I love it. Before, I was very proud of my ability to cook fresh food everyday. However, I'm noticing especially this time of the year, I really do enjoy minimal cooking but still wanting to reap the satisfaction of comforting, filling, fall/winter dishes. I'd rather spend my days reading a good book, gazing out of my window at the sycamore trees whose leaves have changed from green to variety of shades or yellow, orange and red. Or sitting next to the fireplace sipping on a hot cup of coffee spiced with cinnamon.
Knowing autumn ingredients are around for a short time, I'm propelled to get into the kitchen and make the most out of pumpkin, sage, mushrooms, brussle sprouts, quince and similar ingredients that are best enjoyed this time of year. And of course, I'm already planning for Thanksgiving! Aren't you?
Here is my little secret: when I have time, usually weekends, I will make a base of caramelized onions tossed together with mushrooms and sausage. During busy weekdays, I will use this base and stir fry it with cooked rice, or toss it with pasta or even wrap it in puff pastry. I'll sprinkle in some fresh ingredients such as sage or basil and tomatoes to change up the flavor and finish it up with creme fraiche. I have even placed spoonfuls of this base in-between sandwich bread with cheese to create a hearty panini.
Versatile, delicious, hearty, and easy base to be enjoyed through out the week in a variety of servings. For your pleasure, this post includes three different recipes, using easy to make onion, mushrooms and sausage base.
Happy Autumn Days!
Ingredients for sausage and mushroom base
Ingredients and quantities for herbs, vegetables, and sausages may be changed to one of your choice. Minimize ingredients if serving fewer people and days
4 sausages of your choice (I prefer spicy Italian or Louisiana)
2 lbs. mushrooms sliced thin stems and head
2 medium size onions sliced into slivers or cubed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm olive oil and toss in onions. Stir frequently and saute until onions are caramelized and amber brown; usually 7-9 minutes. Sprinkle in salt, stir, and remove onion to transfer to a large glass bowl with matching lid. In the same pan, add sausage pieces removed from casing. Break up sausage with spatula and cook for 5-6 minutes. Transfer sausage to glass bowl with onions, preserving oil and juices of sausage in the pan. To the same pan, toss in mushrooms and salt; stir fry until all the juices have evaporated and mushroom is cooked- approximately 10 minutes. Add mushrooms to same glass bowl. Toss together well all ingredients; cool, cover and store in the fridge until needed. If cooking with ingredients for the day, below are some suggestions:
Rice and Pasta Options:
2 cups of sausage and mushroom base prepared above
2 cups cooked rice (white or brown) or any cooked pasta of your choice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 cup chopped tomatoes
*optional 1 cup chopped fresh bell peppers or 2 Jalapenos if you like more heat!
1 tablespoon high quality coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
dash of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat, warm coconut oil or olive oil. Toss in tomatoes and bell peppers/jalapenos (if using). Sauté for 2-3 minutes and add basil or sage. Sprinkle a dash of salt and black pepper. Add sausage base and mix together well all ingredients. Gently stir in cooked rice or pasta. Cook all ingredients for 5-6 minutes and serve.
Puff Pastry Option:
1 sheet puff pastry (follow instructions for thawing)
2 cups sausage base
1 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
1 teaspoon sage- chopped
one egg yolk beaten in a small bowl for egg wash
1 baking sheet; grease surface with olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, toss together sausage base, sage and cheese. Lay flat pastry sheet on a cutting board. Use egg wash and brush all 4 sides of pastry sheet. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of sausage mix along inside edge of one side of sheet; usually sheet is a rectangular shape, therefore, fill the longer side vs. shorter side. Using both hands, roll pastry sheet tightly to form a log to seal in sausage mix and fold over pastry over itself to fasten all ingredients with in it. Using a very sharp knife, cut log into 1 inch pieces and place on flat baking sheet. Using remaining 1/2 cup of sausage mix to fill in cut sections that have less filling in the such as the end cuts.
Bake in the oven for 20-23 minutes until crust is golden. Top with a small teaspoon of Creme Fraiche and serve with any roasted vegetable of your choice. This is a main meal or a great appetizer snack.
Panini grill press
Slices of white bread of your choice such as sourdough, challah, rye
Cheese of your choice such as fontina, parmesan, mozzarella, asiago, etc.
Freshly chopped basil
Preheat panini grill as instructed. Spread butter on both sides of bread and top one bread with 2-3 tablespoons of sausage mix; sprinkle desired amounts of basil and cheese. Top with second slice of buttered bread and place onto panini grill and press for 3-4 minutes until bread is golden and crunchy. Enjoy!