Minimalism. It seems to be the theme for 2012. I’ve been reading all sorts of blog posts and articles about people cleaning out their inboxes, unsubscribing from mailing lists, unfollowing blogs, deleting their cable, uninstalling apps from their mobile devices, and throwing out unnecessary items. I’ve gone through occasional purges in my life: stepping away from social media, canceling magazine subscriptions, throwing out old clothes by the bin-ful, chopping off my hair. There is something cathartic about cleaning out your real and digital life. A clean slate makes us feel ready to take on more challenges, start something new, and just feel fresh.
I realize that there’s probably a lot of noise in your life, so I want you to know — each and every one of you out there — how much I appreciate you returning to Turntable Kitchen. I’m waving from my little box in the cloud and doing a little dance, just for you. When I first started blogging, several years ago, I could hardly believe that ten people wanted to come to my website, no less two hundred or ONE THOUSAND! It feels surreal to — once in a while — realize that what I write here is read by people I do not know in real life. Some of you comment here. Some of you Tweet. Some of you Like stuff we post on Facebook. Some of you have sent me long, heart-felt emails! Some of you have made me shed a tear because you’ve said some really, really nice and encouraging things about what I write about.
Writing can be a solitary journey. But it’s when you realize that people are reading that it becomes a joint adventure. So back to minimalism. Of late, I’ve become more and more aware of my time. Of wanting to spend it wisely. And while some bloggers have been reflecting on wanting to spend more time away from their blogs, I actually want to spend as much time here as I’ve ever spent. I’m not saying that I don’t want to devote uninterrupted time to riding my bike, having dinner with my family, or going on a hike with a friend, but I also want you to know that this space is really, really important to me. It makes me happy. It lets me flex my muscles. It lets me explore my hopes and dreams. And the thing I love so much: cooking. In a much deeper way than if I weren’t here. With you guys. So I guess my takeaway is that I want to minimize: I think I’m going to cancel my cable, since I hardly watch TV anyways. And I think I’m going to unsubscribe from a few more mailing lists. And I think I will stop worrying about not responding to emails from people who aren’t really that important to me. But I’m not going to spend less time here, at least not if I can help it!
In that vain, I’d like to share a recipe with you that I think you’ll really love. It’s my favorite mix of casual and fancy. Sausages are Matt and I’s version of Mac and Cheese: they’re easy, delicious, comforting, and can be eaten in any number of ways. In this recipe, the sausages are cooked with white wine and whole grapes, which caramelize and deepen in flavor as they cook. The special touch? A tip I picked up from Mark Bittman: cooking Israeli couscous (large pearls) as you would a risotto (and adding a splash of cream to make it just a little bit over the top). Are you still with me, or are you running to the grocery store?
For the sausages and grapes:
2 sprigs of thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 uncooked chicken or turkey sausages (we used chicken and sage)
1/3 cup of chicken broth
3 cups of seedless red grapes, separated into bunches, with stems attached
1/4 cup of chopped shallots
1/3 cup of dry white wine
handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped (for serving)
1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook, turning, until they are browned nicely. This should only take a few minutes.
3. Pour in the broth and add a few sprigs of thyme, grapes, and diced shallot.
4. Place the skillet in the oven and roast for approximately 15 minutes, tossing the grapes and sausages midway through. Once the grapes begin to pucker and caramelize and the sausages are cooked through, remove the skillet from the oven. While the sausages are roasting, prepare the creamy pearl couscous (recipe, below).
5. Divide the couscous between plates. Top with sausages and grapes. Pour the wine into the skillet and stir around with a wooden spoon, scraping up the bits. Drizzle the sauce over the dishes and sprinkle with parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
For the couscous:
1/2 cup of Israeli (pearl) couscous
approximately 2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
1 sprig of thyme
1 tablespoon of minced shallot
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon of butter
1/4 cup of dry white wine
1. Add the butter to a medium stockpot, heated over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the thyme and shallots, and saute for a few minutes.
2. Next, add the couscous, stir and toast for about a minute.
3. Add the wine and let it boil off.
4. Pour in the broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring continuously (as you would when making risotto). Keep adding more broth and stirring until the couscous is soft and cooked.
5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the whipping cream right before serving.
Musical Pairings: Tame Impala – InnerSpeaker + Roasted Sausages with Grapes and Creamy Pearl Couscous ‘Risotto’
There’s more on the Turntable.