Friday, September 18, 2015

Italian Sausage and Fontina Biscuit Sandwiches

I'm feeling rather uninspired today, on this, my Friday morning "off" from my regular life. I've been feeling a bit like I lost myself in the bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived season of birthing and raising my 3 children and my husband and I are on a quest to get me back to thriving. One thing we've identified as essential is that I get some time to myself. Like totally alone. Nobody asking nothing of me. So that's what Friday mornings usually have in store for me lately. Frankly, it's weird. After having little voices and limbs demanding something of me every millisecond of every day for 6 straight years, the silence feels unnatural.

Maybe that's because it isn't exactly silent in here. Before you get some crazy idea in your head that I'm in a spa somewhere, feet up, typing while having my back massaged, let me assure you - it's not quite that glamorous. Actually, I'm sitting in a grocery store coffee shop on a busy highway while I wait for my luxury vehicle (ahem, minivan) to get itself a shiny new set of wheels. Also, did I mention there is a lady in here on her cell phone with not just a singular file folder but her entire filing system which she is pushing around in a giant shopping cart? She's anxiously shrieking into her phone about some real estate something or other that went haywire, all the while multitasking and yelling random things across the entire coffee shop to the other couple in her party. She keeps saying stuff like "I can't hear anything in here" and let me say aloud what the rest of us patrons are all thinking: "NEITHER CAN WE, LADY!!" Yikes. It makes me hope Graham and I never made a scene quite this big win our home purchase nearly went down the tubes.

Anyway, I feel like I'm in a bit of a cooking funk lately. It's probably mostly because my priorities right now are fast and easy and the recipes I gravitate toward don't usually fall into either of those categories. It's my spiritual gift - making uncomplicated things excruciatingly complicated. I was lamenting to my husband the other night "I need to start cooking something good again" to which he is supposed to respond "Oh honey, everything you cook is good!" Well, he didn't say that. Which is so totally crazy. Because, who in their right mind doesn't like eating wet, slippery pesto made out of shards of zucchini instead of basil? Umm. Everyone in our entire family, I guess. (That was a first for my pasta-loving crew!) Instead, he just kept quietly eating whatever slop I'd placed in front of him, one forkful after the other.

But school has started for two of my kids which means I have recently stumbled upon this thing called margins in my life. And they have magical powers like making me feel rested, less stressed, and more excited about cooking. More excited about most things, actually. Now that I'm no longer in survival mode 100% of the time, I think (hope!) I'm coming out of this cooking funk as I'm pretty sure a couple of the items I prepared this week were tasty. (Ask my family - they are my true jury). Unfortunately I didn't photograph them which is why I'm here posting a recipe I haven't made for like a year. Because it's been about that long since the cooking was exciting over here. But I promise this one is good. Like really good.

Although the title technically refers to it as a "sandwich," you're definitely going to want a fork and knife to eat it as it isn't the kind you can safely pick up. Unless you prefer all the fillings crumbled in your crotch. For some reason, this recipe always sounds good to me on Sunday nights. My husband grew up eating Sunday night scone dinners and this tradition has carried over on occasion into our married life (though not often enough if you ask me!) Sometimes I like this more hearty alternative because it provides protein and even a smidge of veggies along with the yummy scone-like biscuit, leaving me satisfied all around. I typically use jarred roasted peppers to make this a quicker Sunday night option. If you're hoping for seconds, definitely make a double batch of the biscuit portion. There always seems to be plenty of filling but never enough biscuit for the carb lovers over here.

Hopefully some more recent recipe success stories will be headed your way soon, but in the mean time, make these and pardon me as I work on amping up my cooking game.

Italian Sausage and Fontina Biscuit Sandwiches
(adapted slightly from Food and Wine Magazine)

For the filling:
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound hot Italian sausages, pricked with a fork
1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and minced
6 scallions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the biscuits:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold buttermilk
1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the sausages, cover and cook over moderate heat until nicely browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Drain the sausages and cut into 1/2-inch chunks.

Transfer the sausage to a microwave-safe bowl. Add the roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, scallions, olives, Parmesan and 1/4 cup of the Fontina to the sausage and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly butter a baking sheet. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Gently stir in the buttermilk until almost incorporated. Using your hands, gently mix the dough until blended.

On a lightly floured work surface, form the dough into a square. Roll or pat the square into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half and cut each half in half again to make 4 biscuits; transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with the cream and sprinkle with the Parmesan.
Bake the biscuits in the upper third of the oven for 10 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 400° and bake for about 10 minutes longer, until the biscuits are pale golden and just cooked through. Let cool slightly.

Rewarm the sausage filling in the microwave. Split the warm biscuits and fill with the remaining 1/2 cup of Fontina and the sausage filling. Close the sandwiches and serve.

Serves 4

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posted by kelsie