Appetizers

Hearty Fight-Over-It Sausage Appetizer

(Warning: Men beg for this after they’ve had it the first time.)
(from Bev Fleece)

Our dear Bev brought this appetizer to one of our Ya-Yo gatherings many years ago. Upon trying it, the Yo-Yos never left their positions, parked around the table where it was being served. This made it challenging for us Ya-Yas to partake, not to mention the scowls occurring on our husbands’ faces as if they had no intention of sharing with us.

Shockingly, our children now behave the same way. While this dish is delicious for men and women, its’ heartiness is what appeals to our boys.

Initially, Bev made it by rolling up the sausage mixture into portions of crescent rolls. Once baked, she’d slice the rolls as you would a loaf of bread, and we’d eat them that way. It was a little labor intensive, until my friend Anne Arnold investigated the below recipe. (She was so enamored with this appetizer after I brought it to a dinner party at her house, she began trying different variations. We were celebrating our friends, the Daltons’, visit from Atlanta for the weekend.) Thanks to Anne and our good buddy the Pillsbury Dough Boy, he’s taught us a much easier method.

His variation includes an additional variety of cheese, because for sure we all need more cheese…

Ingredients:
Appetizer:
2 cans crescent rolls
2 pounds of spicy pork sausage (Here in Louisville, Kentucky, we’re blessed with Purnell’s sausage, but Bob Evans or any variety will do. Plus if you don’t want it on the hot side, just use mild or medium sausage.)
2 packages of cream cheese
2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Sauce:
Equal parts of:
Dijon Mustard
Apricot Preserves
Honey

For this sized appetizer, try 1/3 of a cup of each of the ingredients. Stir and serve at room temperature with the sausage squares. The sauce is what makes the dish!

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large skillet, brown the sausage, crumbling it up into small pieces, over medium heat, stirring frequently, until no longer pink. Drain the grease and remove the sausage from the skillet. Add the cream cheese to the same skillet, cooking over low heat until melted. Add the sausage back in, stirring to coat.
  • Unroll one can of crescent roll dough into two long rectangles onto the bottom of an ungreased 13 x 9 (three quart) glass baking dish; pressing over the bottom of the pan and about ½ inch up the sides to form the crust. Spoon sausage and cream cheese mixture evenly over the crust in the baking dish. Sprinkle with the shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Unroll second can of crescent rolls and press to form the rectangle, covering the sausage and cheese. Press perforations to seal. (You can also use the crescent sheets which are now available in some groceries that are all one piece if you don’t want to fool with the perforations of the crescent rolls.)
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes ‘til the crescent dough is nicely browned.
  • Cool for 10-15 minutes.
  • Cut into squares and serve with the sauce. (Watch it disappear!)

New discovery: IF there are any leftovers (rarely happens), warm them in the oven the next morning and plop a fried egg on top. Oh my…

 

Stuffed Mushroom Caps

(from Chef Matt Weber at The Uptown Café in Louisville, Kentucky)

The Uptown Café, on the very eclectic Bardstown Road, is one of our favorite go-to restaurants and has been for years. We loved and were loved on by original owner, Nancy Shepherd, God rest her soul. Her very fun and cute daughter, Kelley Ledford now runs The Uptown. She graciously and patiently holds our window table when we run on “Hoagland time”. (Translation: a tad tardy.) God bless her!

Nearly every time we visit the Uptown we order the same thing: a split Caesar salad and their Linguine with Sesame Chicken and Broccoli. We get to where we crave it and have to dash over for a fix. When we’re really hungry, we order up the same appetizer. Every time: Stuffed Mushroom Caps. (Can you say, “Dogs of habit?” Like-wise my friend Mary always orders the Chicken Piccata.) We always pray whoever’s plating them will overserve the sauce as we not only gobble up the stuffed mushrooms, we bathe our bread in the to-die-for sauce.

Gracious Chef Matt and Kelley are gifting us with the recipe! Bon appetit!

First, figure out how many of these mushroom caps you wish to make. Chef Matt likes to use silver dollar mushrooms, white, uncooked. Buy 1 or more pounds, according to how many you want. Clean and pull out the stems to prepare for stuffing.

Mushroom Stuffing:
2 ½ pounds of Italian sausage
1 ¼ pound of ground chuck
½ pound of yellow onion, finely diced
1 oz. minced garlic
1 pound of goat cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 Tablespoon basil
1 heaping teaspoon of pepper flakes
2-3 dashes of Tobasco
¼ bunch of flat leaf Italian parsley
Scant teaspoon EACH of salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Sautee sausage and ground chuck until browned and drain. Set aside.
  • Sautee the onion and garlic together in olive oil until onions are translucent. Set aside.
  • Combine all of the stuffing ingredients by hand or in a mixer with a paddle. Depending on mushroom size, it usually takes about ½ ounce to fill each mushroom. (Cook as many as you wish to fill, shelling out stems prior to stuffing.) Yields: 9 and ¼ cups.

For an appetizer order, we usually receive about 6 stuffed mushrooms on a salad-size plate and they’re happily sitting in the sauce. Oh the sauce…

Brandy Cream Brown Sauce
2 cups heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoon chopped basil
4 oz. brandy, flamed
1 scant teaspoon EACH of salt and pepper
6 oz. of demi glace

Directions:

  • Heat cream, basil, brandy, salt and pepper until slightly thickened.
  • Whisk in the demi-glace. Note: A demi-glace or brown sauce base can often be found at your local specialty stores. Yields: 2 cups.
  • Uptown serves approximately ½ ounce of sauce per mushroom. Just make sure you have enough for the mushroom AND some to dip your French bread in.

My mouth is watering this very minute. I know where we’re going for dinner tonight!

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