Brainy Gourmet

Brainy Gourmet
The Doctor is into Delicious!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Italian Sausage in Marinara over Penne!

Italian food stirs the imagination...

This dish is so awesomely delicious that you can imagine never eating anything else for the rest of your life. The key is in the sausage. Quality Italian sausage is best bought from the local deli or butcher and it should be meaty... not overly seasoned; no fennel. The other key aspect regarding the sausage is that the casing used is also quality casing; you don't want it to be rubbery or chewy.

Besides really good Italian sausage, you will need: black olives, one med. red pepper (roasted) one large onion, and penne pasta.  To get started, saute the onion and pepper 'chopped' in olive oil until browned on the edges. Have your sausage cut into bite sized chunks or crumbled. Add to the skillet with the onion and pepper pushing them aside while you brown the sausage.

Bring back in the onion and pepper covering the sausage while you open a can of crushed Red Gold tomatoes unless of course you have either fresh garden tomatoes to use and one handful of black olives. Generously, sprinkle in dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano. Stir and cover, let this simmer on med heat while you prepare the pasta; simmering the sauce for a good 25 min.

Add the penne pasta to salted boiling water. Once tender, drain and ladle onto a serving plate and or bowl. Pour out the hot bubbly Italian sausage sauce onto the pasta and serve.

Put on the Parmesan... ~ Tutti a Tavola!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dumplings are a World Food!

Dumplings are simple, filling and frugal... no wonder you can find them everywhere either as mounds of fluff, globs of gooey goodness or as a lazy pierogi, or gnocchi...

For light fluffy dumplings, all one has to do is follow the recipe on a box of Bisquick or make one's own by using 1 cup of any pancake mix to 1/2 cup of regular flour, buttermilk and one egg.  If you want to have them more fluffy, skip the egg; and less fluffy, add more regular flour and another egg.

As for the ole fashioned little stones, the kind that stick to your ribs, here is the recipe: dumpling mixture: 2 cups of flour, 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder, a pinch of salt, 1/2 cup of cold milk, 1/4 cup of cold buttermilk, add one egg and beat. Since its consistency that you are after, you may find that your dough is either too creamy or too stiff. If too creamy, then add more flour. If its too thick, dilute with cold water, slowly... even drip by drip!

The dough should look like this for fluffy - it should follow the spoon or whisk up as you pull away...and, for thicker or solid dumplings, the dough should break away rather than follow the whisk/spoon. Lastly, the key to good dumplings is to drop the dough into a boiling stew of beef or chicken, cover and let them cook.

Ask your grandmother or neighbor.... everybody has a dumpling recipe somewhere!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

World Foods ~ Beet Root Soup from Poland!

Yes, that is the Palace of Culture where I defended my PhD. While in eastern Europe, I learned how to cook frugally and to make and to eat beet root soup. Which, is very good on a fall or winter evening; hearty and full of flavor that comes from fresh beet root cooked in beef hock with bone in for creating a rich beef stock.

Begin by starting a stock from the beef hock or by pulling any stock for that matter out of the fridge or pantry - 4/5cups. To that, add one whole onion chopped which was firstly sauteed in butter and olive oil or beef fat as that would be the traditional means for cooking the onion.

Once the onion is browned on the edges, add to the stock. Next, drop in a pinch of salt along with dried herbs: rosemary and mint. 

Lastly, wash and peel two large fresh beet root and cut into chunks or even shredded to be added  directly to the beef hock stock with onion.  Cover and simmer for 2 hours on low heat. Serve along with a rolled pancake filled with hot ground meat and a side of blood sausage.

* a richer flavor will come through if you prepare the stock the day before...

~Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tomato infused Tagliatelle with Creamy Alfredo Sauce and Scalloped Parsnhips

Simple Alfredo, with root veggies... of course! It was my grandfather who showed me how to find parsnips in the wild. They have a nutty flavor when sauteed.

For this dish, you will need: boneless, skinless chicken breasts, one whole onion, tomato infused Fettuccine or Tagliatelle pasta, heavy cream, sour cream, Parmesan cheese and, 2 parsnips.

To begin, saute on med. heat one chopped onion, boneless thin sliced chicken breasts strips in 4-5 tbs olive oil, 2 tbs butter, and seasonings: garlic powder (organic), sea salt, and fresh dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano.*You can crumble up already cooked chicken breasts instead of the uncooked chicken strips; that is, if you have some left over from yesterday's roast chicken i.e.

Once the onion and chicken breasts are fully cooked and a little crispy brown on the edges, add 1/2 cup of heavy cream, and one dollop of sour cream as well as a generous sprinkle of Parmesan or use 1/2 cup of fresh grated. Cover and let simmer on low heat while you prepare the parsnips and pasta.

As for the parsnips, wash and then peel away (using a potato peeler) the skin until you see a nice white root. Next, shave the parsnips with the peeler into thin scallops; then in a separate smaller skillet brown in a drizzle of olive oil and a pat of butter until just slightly tender.

Set, the parsnip shavings aside and start the water for the pasta, once it boils, add a pinch of salt and then the pasta, stirring occasionally.When the pasta is tender, drain and ladle onto a low lipped serving platter. Pour out your creamy chicken Alfredo sauce, top with the sauteed parsnip shavings and call everyone to dinner...and don't forget the Parmesan!

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Cooking in Stressful Times ~ Will Give You Energy and Sense of Purpose!

If you are facing stressful times (or displaced by recent events) then cooking for yourself can help you overcome stress and uncertainty. How? Cooking helps you feel like you have more control of not only your caloric intake but also your general health, as explained by Clay Routledge, Ph.D. of Psychology Today.

And, even if you are not facing stressful times, cooking at home saves money, its healthier... how? Once you begin to cook for yourself you will make better food choices and thus you will use healthy ingredients at home. Soon, you will start to feel better; mentally and physically. 

Routledge describes a greater sense of purpose and energy that people feel once they take control of their diets. Ultimately, when it comes to cooking for yourself, just have fun with it ...that's always been the Brainy Gourmet's advice. You're the product of your habits and that's what life is. So, be Brainy about it!

The best "Brainy Gourmet" way to get cooking, to relieve stress and get healthy, is to fill a large pot of water, drop in a few pieces of chicken, (or whole), one onion, a couple of carrots and a dash of salt and you have ~ Chicken soup that can feed up to ten people!

Source ~

*If you are among those fairing well and considering helping displaced persons wherever they are, pass on this helpful and meaningful information. You will give them more than just a meal for one night! Along with the information above, you might share a bag of groceries so that they can get cooking.

Friday, September 15, 2017

TGIF ~ From Rome with Love!

If you could go to Rome for your Friday night 'eat out'; which would you order?

Eggplant Parmesan...

Or, Chicken with Penne in Creamy tomato sauce...

Or a Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo...

And, the cheese... as much as you like!

~ Tutti a Tavola!

*All dishes can be found on the Brainy Gourmet Webpage in Brainy Archives -!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Being Brainy with Raclette ~ A Visit to the French Swiss Border!

Along the French Swiss border, one can clearly notice the local preference for cooking with Raclette. Though traditionally Swiss, this semi-hard cow's milk cheese is most commonly used for cooking and or melting on both sides of the border and definitely not for slicing .

The smell is pungent, the taste is strong and yet also buttery. It all sounds wildly European. That is why this cheese is great for cooking. Looking into my fridge, there was a small amount left of the Raclette fondue. And, I had left over pasta and cooked chicken breasts as well. On the fresh side, there was a package of crisp green asparagus and some lovely Bavarian mushrooms.

To begin, on med heat I sauteed chopped onion in olive oil and 1 tbs of fresh creamy butter sprinkled with dried herbs. I then pushed the onion aside in the skillet and on high heat seared strips of chicken breasts (skinless/boneless). I reintroduced the onion, reduced the heat and added the left over Raclette along with 1 1/2 cup of heavy cream.

To that... the left over pasta and another tbs of butter then covering to let simmer while I prepared the mushrooms and asparagus... washing and slicing/cutting off ends. A quick stir fry in butter until browning around the edges appeared and then poured in about 2 tbs of chicken stock, turning up the heat to high for 4 min.

 ~ Tutti a Tavola!