Italian Sausage Soup

Much of the East Coast is getting bogged down with rain today. And, I’m feeling it. I made and photographed this recipe a couple of weeks ago – and meant to share it last week. However, I lost a very close friend last week kind of suddenly. I say “I” – but I really mean our whole community – as everyone is mourning the loss of our dear Laura. I haven’t really felt like doing much of anything the past few days, besides moping around the house, with the occasional uncontrollable sobbing. I’m getting there. Grief just sucks, ya’ll.

Needless to say, a couple of rainy days to stay in my pajamas is just what the doctor ordered. Figured I could at least take a few minutes to share this recent recipe find with you guys! And, what better meal is there to enjoy on days like this, than a warm bowl of filling soup?

I came across this recipe in the Loaves & Fishes cookbook by Anna Pump, another favorite which was lurking in the “lost pile”. All of her cookbooks are phenomenal. She was a close friend of our Majesty The Queen (Ina Garten) and collaborated at Barefoot Contessa in the Hamptons with Ina for years, as well as running her own successful shop and bed & breakfast. She too passed rather suddenly back in 2015, and I will always treasure the books and recipes she left behind. But, I digress… As I’d mentioned, I made this substantial soup a couple of weeks ago now – and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since!

It came together really quickly, with simple ingredients that are easy to find – or you may even have on hand already. It was also really quick to cook too. Most soups take ALL DAY to have a really deep flavor. But the addition of two kinds of sausage, both ground and link, really pack a punch in that department – yielding a soup that tastes like its simmered for hours, in less than one.

I served it along side some warm crusty rolls and a simple fresh green salad to round out the meal. Everyone really enjoyed it, and it will definitely be one I make again soon! Might try adding cannellini beans the next go-round.

Source: The Loaves and Fishes Cookbook – Anna Pump

It’s always so hard to see summer go. If you’ve been keeping up with me on Insta, you know that it was a crazy whirlwind couple of months spent in the sun and on the water. Our “Flat Bottomed Girl” got quite a few more nautical miles under her belt,  and I cooked and shared all kinds of goodness with friends (and strangers!) out at our local hangout of Little Beach, on neighboring Assateague Island.

Boatside Bistro was in full effect, y’all! I find myself cooking on the boat more than I do in my kitchen from the months of May – September.  I think the pinnacle was catching fish offshore, cleaning and fileting them on the boat, then turning into fish tacos and enjoying on the beach. However, we had alot of great meals out there this season, and which of them was the best is still a topic of debate…

At any rate, the days have finally started to turn brisk. And while we must say goodbye to some things that fill our heart and soul, there are always others to look forward to. Like watching the vibrant green marsh fade into a rich gold hue – with the occasional burst of salicornia in the mix. It’s an edible plant that grows in abundance in our marshes here on the island, appearing green in the summer months and then turning a vibrant red hue in autumn. It’s crunchy, and briny, and tastes of the sea. Not to mention it’s beautiful!

I have fun harvesting it and coming up with new ideas how to use it. Vodka infusion is a favorite (can you say pickle shot, y’all?), adding it to salads, or chopping and adding to pimento cheese. A few weeks ago I helped harvest a haul to brew a stout with at Black Narrows Brewing, which was absolutely delicious!

It just so happened that I had a bunch of beans after the beer release at the brewery, which I then took to the Chincoteague Oyster Festival with me the next day – and whipped up this super simple salicornia mignonette…

A “mignonette” is just fancy French term for a vinegar sauce that is traditionally served with oysters. I used a red wine vinegar, some chopped shallot, and threw in some chopped salicornia. Talk about tasting the “salt life” – was a hit all around. And I felt so fancy coming up with it!

Which brings me to something else we have to look forward to in the fall and winter months – oyster season! What do you guys look forward to the most?

Oysters with Salicornia Mignonette

1 dozen oysters, on the half shell
crushed ice
lemon wedges

For the mignonette:
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely minced
2 Tbsp chopped salicornia (about 15 “bean” stalks)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl or ramekin. Mix to combine. Let sit for 20 minutes to let the flavors mingle and meld together.

Meanwhile, place the crushed ice in the bottom of a shallow serving dish. Carefully lay the oysters on top of the ice for serving.

Serve the mignonette alongside the oysters with the lemon wedges.

With Super Bowl Sunday coming up this weekend, I thought it was only pertinent that I share one of my favorite easy appetizers. Honestly, it’s probably my favorite appetizer. Ever. During football season I probably make it close to every weekend. For years now.

It’s all of your favorite things about pizza, in a creamy dip form, that is approximately one million times easier than making traditional pizza. The recipe is easily scaled up, making it convenient to feed a large crowd. I also love that it is layered, and not mixed together – making for a nice presentation.

As far as toppings go, you can certainly get creative. But, I like to stick with classic options – pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, green peppers, red onion (they, along with the peppers, lend a  lovely little crunch). I serve with store-bought pizza crust that I’ve cut into bite size pieces, but it’s equally good on crackers if you don’t have that on-hand.

Add this to your line-up this weekend, you won’t regret it!

Source: adapted from Taste of Home

Buffalo Fried Oysters

Moving into 2019, getting more locally-centric recipes up on the blog is definitely on my agenda. And here on Chincoteague Island, it really doesn’t get any more locally-centric than the Chincoteague oyster, does it?

Renowned for it’s saltiness – you’ll find them gracing the menu at top-tier oyster bars all over the country. And, you can find them gracing the menu at the Davis table pretty often as well. Sometimes we get lucky and a waterman friend has a surplus, gifting us with a peck or two. Or, I scoot down the street to Gary Howard Seafood, where they’ve always got fresh oysters (along with lots of other great seafood) at a very reasonable price. Either way, they’re easy to come by this time of year here on our little island – even when nothing else is!

Of course they’re wonderful to eat on the half, or a fancier application like Oysters Rockefeller is always a hit. But, hard pressed, I’d say “single-fried” is our favorite way to enjoy them. This recipe adds a spicy twist to that local standard, which would be ideal for those gaming get-togethers coming up in the next couple of weeks!