Sunday, June 9, 2013

My visit to Italy

A few years ago, my sister Angie gave me a fabulous trip to Italy.  It was incredible!  The food, the people (except for one surly cab driver), and the sights.  Italy has been by far the most wonderful place I have ever seen.  I am still amazed that people in Rome can wake up every day and open their windows to a view of the Coliseum.  The first night in Florence, my sister Shari and I went looking for food around 10 pm.  We found a small cafĂ© in an alley and had the first of many great meals.  Our waiter thought we were highly entertaining and called up a few American friends living in the city.  I have no idea what time we got back to the hotel!  I don't remember what Shari had, but I vividly remember the beef and mushrooms over exceptional pasta that I ate.  Tonight's dinner brought back all the wonderful memories from our trip.

This recipe is my version of Zuppa Toscana at The Olive Garden.  I've been making it for several years and it is my daughters' favorite soup recipe.  I have Queen - Rock Montreal blasting from my B&O turntable and all is right in my world!

Note:  You may subscribe to my blog at the bottom of the page to be notified of my new recipe posts.  I am trying to keep to a once per week schedule, but have a couple of trips planned for the summer and my first grandson on the way around the first of August.  (I plan to have him in the kitchen as soon as possible!)

Italian Soup with potatoes, sausage, and kale 
1 pkg. Mild Italian sausage, (mine was 19 oz.)
2 lb. red potatoes, leave skin on, halve lengthwise and slice 1/4 in. thick
1 large yellow onion, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
6 cups chicken stock ( I used homemade with no seasonings, but canned low-sodium is okay)
1 bunch kale, stem and spine removed, torn into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, optional
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 rind from a good parmesan cheese wedge, (I save my rinds for adding to soups)
Grated parmesan for garnish when serving
Soup pot or Dutch oven
Remove casing from sausage and breakup links into smallish chunks. 
Over medium high heat in soup pot, brown sausage.  Add onions and cook until slightly translucent. 
 Add potatoes, chicken stock, parmesan rind, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.  Bring to a simmer and turn heat down to medium. Cook about 10 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.  Add kale, stirring to incorporate.  The kale wilts quickly, about 1- 2 minutes.  Turn off heat and add the cream.  Taste for seasoning and add the salt if needed.  Garnish with a little grated parmesan. 
This soup is even better the next day.  Reheat the leftovers slowly, do not boil.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My first post!

I should explain the story behind the name of my blog.  In my family, when you do something very well you are the Bitch.  My mom is the Gumbo Bitch, my sister's mother-in-law is the Pie Bitch, and so on and so forth.  I've been called the Gravy Bitch for years, it's a running joke in my family.  I come from a long line of good cooks.  Sometimes, I think my life began in the kitchen.  I don't remember a time when I wasn't in the kitchen with my Grandmothers, Mom, or my Aunts.  I have very early memories of shelling pecans at Memaw's kitchen table, or picking crabmeat from the shell at Mamaw's table. My first job was babysitting in Mauriceville, Texas.  I would cook while at other people's homes! This blog is for all the funny, smart and very capable women in my life! My daughters have been asking me for years to document some of the food they love.

Today I am making a frittata.  I usually don't plan too far ahead when I cook, mainly because I don't like to shop for groceries.  I crank up the music ( today Maroon 5), look in the fridge and pantry for inspiration.

Basically, a frittata is a quiche without the crust and I like lots of stuff in mine.


9 large eggs
1 small bunch green onions, chopped, about 1 cup
3 small hothouse or locally grown tomatoes (plum tomatoes will also work), sliced in half - lengthwise, seeded and chopped, about 1 cup
1 lb. fresh pan sausage, browned in non-stick skillet
3 oz. Pepper Jack cheese
3 oz. Baby Swiss cheese
3 Tbl. half and half
Freshly grated black pepper


10" non-stick skillet, oven-proof (no plastic or wooden handles)
large bowl
silicon spatula

Saute fresh pan sausage in non-stick skillet over medium high heat until browned and cooked through. You don't need any oil if using a non-stick skillet.  Remove cooked sausage from pan and pour off excess fat from sausage. Just leave a slight coating on pan.  Chop green onions and tomatoes, grate cheese.  Whisk eggs in large bowl, add all other ingredients including some freshly grated pepper. I used about 1/4 teaspoon. You don't need to add any salt to this dish, the cheese and sausage have plenty. 

Move oven rack to about 6 - 8 inches from top broiler elements.

Turn on broiler in oven to High, close door and let oven warm.

Heat skillet over medium heat, add egg mixture to pan and spread evenly.  Let cook about 10 -12 minutes without stirring until edges start to brown and mixture is firm at sides, but center is still runny. If you gently use spatula to move edge away from pan, it should be lightly brown at this point.

Turn broiler to Low and place skillet in oven.  Leave under broiler for about 5 minutes.  Top of frittata should be lightly browned and puffed.  Remove and cool in pan for 5 minutes on a rack.

Loosen edges from pan and slide onto plate.  If it doesn't slide out, tap pan on counter to loosen. Makes 8 generous portions.