Sausage, Fennel, & White Bean Minestrone
Yield: 6 servings
3 Tbl. Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, cracked black pepper to taste
1lb. bulk sweet Italian sausage (or links squished out of casings)
1 lb. bulk hot Italian sausage (or links out of casings)
1 large bulb fresh fennel, thinly sliced
½ tsp. fennel seed
1 sm. onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. each dried oregano & basil
6-7 c. chicken stock
One 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, crushed with hands
One 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed (or 1 ½ c. fresh cooked white beans)
4 cups packed (approx. ½ lb.) coarsely chopped spinach (or chard, kale, escarole)
Chopped fresh basil
Parmesan or mozzarella cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat and add all of the sausage meat. Cook for 10-12 minutes, breaking up with a spoon, until well-browned. Pour off any excess fat from the pan and add the fresh and dried fennel, onion, carrot, garlic, oregano, and dried basil, and cook for another 5-6 minutes or until the veggies have softened. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes and simmer half-covered for 30-40 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed, and add the cannellini beans and spinach. Simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes and serve topped with fresh basil cheese and cheese.
Cooking Raw Beans:
Soak beans overnight at room temperature in plenty of cold water (more than double by volume). Drain the beans the next day and place in a large pot, adding fresh cold water to cover. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce to a simmer and half-cover the pot. Continue cooking until the beans are completely tender….this will take about 45-60 minutes depending on the amount & variety of beans. Drain and use as desired. Cooked beans may be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, or frozen in Ziploc bags to use at any time!
Slice crusty loaf into ½” slices. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high and add enough olive oil to fully coat the bottom of the pan. Add the bread and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until nicely crisp and golden. Remove bread pieces from the skillet and rub generously with whole peeled garlic cloves. (Alternatively these can be toasted in a 375 oven on a baking sheet for 15 minutes).
Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding
Yield: 4 servings
2 Tbl. unsalted butter, cut into small bits
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbl. + 2 tsp. cornstarch
1 ½ c. whole milk*
½ c. heavy cream*
1 large egg yolk, whisked well
1 tsp. pure vanilla
Sweetened whipped cream
Combine the butter, brown sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and gently melt stirring over low heat until moistened. In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and ¼ c. milk until completely smooth and no pills remain….whisk in the egg. Add the remaining 1¼ c. milk plus the heavy cream to the sugar mixture then whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Cook while stirring over medium heat until the pudding just begins to boil, at which point reduce the heat and simmer for one minute or until the consistency of fudge sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Pour the pudding into a large shallow dish or individual dessert dishes. If you wish to prevent a skin from forming cover the pudding with plastic wrap pressing it directly onto the surface. Refrigerate and chill for at least one hour or up to 3 days and serve with fresh sweetened whipped cream! *Note: pudding can be made using all whole milk or with a blend of half & half or light cream. Lighter puddings can be made using a blend of whole and reduced-fat milk.
Homemade Whipped Cream
¾ c. chilled heavy cream
2 Tbl. Confectioner’s sugar
Whisk together in a chilled bowl until soft peaks appear. Keep chilled if not using immediately.