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

Red Currant Mojitos

Last weekend I ran down to Virginia Beach. Had to exchange a Christmas gift, and do a bit of pantry restocking. Got the chance to visit the new Ikea – I had my youngest with me and he chose the Swedish Meatball lunch over chicken nuggets at Chic-fil-A. Winning as a parent, y’all. For real real.

Stopped by all the usual suspects of my food shopping spots, although now it’s harder because we also have a Wegmans – Hampton Roads has really been stepping it up lately. Anywho, I can never resist getting something that I don’t see very often when I’m down there. Last time it was Buddha’s Hand (I made an ahhhhmazing infused vodka), this time I saw fresh red currants and couldn’t pass them up!

Usually I’ll bake with them, or just use them for garnishes on things because they’re so darned pretty. Since trying to get back on the blogging bandwagon, I’ve been going through and looking at what I haven’t posted in a while – and one of those things was a cocktail…

I just so happened to have a handle of Bacardi that needs has been hanging around in the liquor cabinet (word to Robin at VA ABC who pointed out I could get a handle for the same price as a liter during a sale last year). So I thought, why not?

I love adding different fruits to my fav cocktails to make a new twist on an old favorite, and the currants certainly didn’t disappoint. They added the most gorgeous red hue to the drink, and added a lovely hint of tartness. I don’t like my drinks super-sweet, but if you do – feel free to add more simple syrup. Which is great in itself, actually. A splash of that in seltzer water is delicious, and waaay less sugar than a soda.

And if you can’t find red currants – you could use raspberries or blackberries. Or just keep it simple, as a traditional mojito with the lime and fresh mint. In any form, it’s sure to add a little brightness to a dreary winter’s day. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Now that the holidays are over with and winter has REALLY set in – I’ve been having a hard time finding inspiration and energy…for anything! I have been trying to keep my spirits up, currently de-cluttering my studio room where I store all my props for the blog.

It’s a good idea to do a cleanse once in a while. I mean, how many shrimp cocktail dishes can one person possibly need? I have accumulated so many things over the last couple years at yard sales and the Op Shop, I didn’t even know what I had in there.

I came across a stash of some of my favorite cookbooks, cracked a few of the bindings, and felt instantly inspired to get in the kitchen. Which, I hadn’t felt in a while. It felt good. So, I went with it. And, this delectable Chocolate Chiffon Pie is what resulted from my efforts.

Chiffons are a rich, yet light and airy concoctions. Traditionally made by egg whites being beaten until stiff, then folded into a gelatin based mixture. In this case chocolate is the additive (although fruit chiffons are also divine), and it’s poured into a gingersnap crust and refrigerated until set. A dollop of fresh whipped cream on top, and a sprinkle of chocolate shavings finish each piece off just before serving.

Shoutout to Martha Hall Foose and both of her wonderful books (“Screen Doors and Sweet Tea” and “A Southerly Course“), which managed to light a fire in my heart and under my ass this week. Gonna try to keep it up, guys! Stay tuned.

Source: A Southerly Course by Martha Hall Foose

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.