Thursday, July 17, 2014

Spicy Sausage Asparagus Pasta

Our dinners have been Farm Fresh lately! We are loving all the amazing produce that is popping up at Farmers Markets, neighborhood gardens and in my own back yard! In addition, this is the first year that I have been able to maintain a nice herb garden. I love that I can walk five steps and cut basil or lavender fresh from the stalk. 

After a successful trip to the Farmers Market a few weeks ago, I was determined to come up with a recipe that used everything in my basket, including arugula flowers which was a new item for me. Arugula flowers are my new favorite gem from the Market! they are cream colored with a purple vein running through the pedals. The edible flower is nutty and peppery, just like arugula leaves. They are very perishable though, so buy them and use them up fast. 

Another new item in the basket was a spicy pork sausage with sage from Fickle Creek Farms. This vendor is a must-stop now after trying their organic chickens....yum! I found asparagus, peppers, onions, arugula (with the flowers) and even a fresh pasta vendor. After 20 minutes in the market, dinner was planned!

Since most of you don't live in my area, you can use any type of sausage. Jimmy Dean's makes a Natural Sage Sausage that is a good alternative if you can't find any at your local Farmers Market. Asparagus season is pretty much over too, so broccoli or zucchini is a great substitution for this here. 

Spicy Sausage Asparagus Pasta

Yields: 4 servings

1 pound sausage (we used Fickle Creek Farms Spicy Pork Sausage with sage)
1 pound asparagus, *cooked, chopped (or other vegetable)
3 red bell peppers, quartered and de-seeded (or use 1 jar of roasted red peppers)
1 small red onion, diced
8 ounces elbow pasta (we used TruRoots gluten free)
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups fresh arugula
Arugula flowers for garnish
Parmesan cheese, shredded

If making the peppers, Preheat the broiler to high and move the rack to the highest setting in the oven. Place the quartered red peppers on a greased cookie sheet and broil until the skin of the peppers are very charred. Quickly remove the peppers and place in a brown paper bag and seal. Set this aside for 15-20 minutes. Once the peppers have rested in the bag and are cool enough to touch, peel the skin off the peppers, roughly chop and set aside.

*Cook the asparagus (or other vegetable), there are few options here:
  1. Roast the asparagus in a 375F oven for about 15 minutes
  2. Steam the asparagus in a steamer (stove top or microwave steamer)
  3. Boil the asparagus with the pasta, but this might increase the asparagus flavor intensely.
While the peppers are roasting/sitting, cook the pasta according to instructions. Drain and set aside.

In a large saute pan, cook the sausage, breaking it into small chunks. Remove the sausage, reserving about 1 Tablespoon of the grease in the pan. Add in the onions and cook for about 5-7 minutes until slightly translucent. Stir in the cooked asparagus, sausage, arugula, peppers and 4 Tablespoons of olive oil. Transfer all this to a large bowl (to stop the cooking) and mix gently until combined. Serve with Arugula flower garnishes (if you can find them) and Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

Well folks, that's it. I'm old! The birthday festivities were beyond incredible, and the fun continued into the 4th of July weekend. After several weeks of travel, fun and lots of great food, it is back to work and back to blogging!

I hope everyone enjoyed the 30/30 countdown on Kettler Cuisine! It was such a blast to put together and I have many people to thank, including several of the restaurants for making the food so photogenic and delicious (Kimbap and Trophy). For a full recap of my favorites, visit the Favorites tab above or go here.

While 30/30 was going on, I went to the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen to celebrate my big birthday with a dear friend!! Oh yea, it was beyond fantastic! The town of Aspen is a beautiful spot on its own, then sprinkle in top chefs, wineries and phenomenal food, and you have yourself one heck of a destination. I have so much to share that I will break it up into a few posts not to overwhelm everyone (and myself).

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

First and foremost, the memories! I was fortunate enough to share this experience with one of my closest friends, who just so happens to live 3000 miles away from me! But, we don't let distance, three time zones and busy lives interfere with our friendship. We met in Denver and hopped on a small plane up to Aspen. Everyone on our flight was heading to the Classic, including Michael Chiarello and a Tequilla distillery (yes, the entire flight smelled like Agave tequila). No complaining here :)

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

After a very quick (and intense) landing, we were greeted with blue skies and huge mountain backdrops. After checking in to the hotel and the Classic, we explored the adorable and beautiful town of Aspen.

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The MemoriesAspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

The three-day festival didn't disappoint. We met chefs, winemakers, restaurateurs, celebrities and many, many fun (and slightly drunk) people. It will be hard to recap everything, but here are some of my favorite and most memorable experiences...

Cooking and Meeting Marcus Sameulsson
Probably one of the most vibrant and vivacious celebrity chefs there, Marcus Sameulsson hosted a cooking session on "The Whole Nine Yards," using all parts of a chicken. This was our very first session and experience at the Classic, so it set the bar very high!

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

He is extremely personable and an incredible talent in the kitchen. I was able to sneak a taste of several of his dishes, including his chicken soup!

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories
I'm excited for Marcus' soup!

Meeting Ali Larter
I told you there were celebrities everywhere! I met her, got a signed cookbook, AND talked about my blog with her. She interviewed Giada De Laurentiis during a session on the second morning and really surprised us with her wit, intelligence and strong female power! It was great to see a fellow blogger that also has a passion for entertaining and cooking, along with a full time job (and children).

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories
Giddy after chatting with Ali Larter

The Tasting Tent
Oh, the Tasting Tent! The things in this tent! We have never experienced such a concentrated location of inventive, delicious and satiating food. Then there was all the wine, and more wine, and even more wine. We had to pace ourselves....

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

The Tasting Tent opened twice a day for 2 hours. The first run was a learning experience, we were trying to get through as fast and as efficiently as possible. By the second run, we were experts. We focused on specific sections and took our time going through, getting to know some of the vendors and the back story of how they got there. (This also helped us from drinking too much too quickly).

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories
My best bud and I on the last run of the Tasting Tent.

Hugh Acheson's passion for Local
This guy is awesome! I don't have any other elequent descriptions other than he rocks! Even though he was born in Canada, he has earned a status among some of the top Southern chefs. He doesn't just cook Southern cuisine, but he immerses himself in it and constantly educates himself and others on the history, techniques and ingredients. The best thing about this guy, besides his laundry list of accolades and awards, is that he fully supports Local! He buys local, he eats local, he promotes local in pretty much all he does.

"Small steps will win this race and the first small steps are about your local sphere."
- Hugh Acheson

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories
Hugh Acheson, an accomplished and very friendly Southern Chef

Celebrity Sightings!!!
Oh, there were many. Mostly celebrity chefs like Giada De Laurentiis, Richard Blais, Andrew Zimmern (think Bizarre Foods), Gail Simmons, Michael Chiarello, Tom Colicchio, Jacques P├ępin, Curtis Stone, Scott Conant, Johnny Iuzzini (think sweet treats), and just about every Top Chef contestant and winner you can think of! But I also saw and met Stephen Merchant...hilarious!!

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories
The Hubby was a bit jealous on this one! I was so nervous to meet him :)

Overall it was an amazing trip!! We ate a lot....

And drank a lot....

But most of all, we had a great time together...

Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic - The Memories

Friday, June 27, 2014

30/30 - #1 Strawberry Pie

I'M 30!! Hard to believe that I have officially entered another decade of my life. Instead of being sad and depressed about getting older, I am excited! Life is good, especially in the kitchen ;)

So here it is, the favorite everyone has been waiting for, the #1 recipe in my Top 30 favorites - Strawberry Pie! Not just any strawberry pie, but my Grandma's Strawberry Pie!

30/30 - #1 Strawberry Pie

This pie doesn't just taste amazing, but it brings me back to my childhood every time I make or eat it. When I first started KettlerCuisine, this was one of the recipes I knew I had to post. I struggled with the recipe for a while since Grandma didn't leave very detailed instructions, but relied on my experience in the kitchen and my Aunt Liz to figure it out. I miss you Grandma!

During strawberry season, I make this pie almost every week. Poor Hubby doesn't get much variety on desserts during that time, but he doesn't mind it. At the peak of the season, I don't even add sugar to the strawberries, I just let their natural sweetness shine through. I couldn't think of a more fitting #1 favorite for the Top 30 than Grandma's Strawberry Pie.

I CRAVE it every year, I MAKE it every year, and I DEVOUR it every year! 

Find the recipe for Grandma's Strawberry Pie here.

30/30 - #1 Strawberry Pie

Here are other favorite strawberry recipes:

OK, now time for me to go celebrate! Hopefully you have enjoyed seeing me every day for the past month, but I am going to take a little break now and party!!