Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

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Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza baked hot and bubbly and garnished with fennel fronds.

I say start the new year with pizza! Yes, that’s right, crispy, cheesy, flavour-packed Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza. We can not make just any pizza, it truly needs to be a cast-iron pizza to start the new year right. It creates the best golden and crisp underside that you’ll ever create at home, and you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making all your pizzas this way. Most new year resolutions include some form of healthy eating, but I think the new year (because it’s gonna be great) deserves full-on, carefree, in your face deliciousness. The sausage and fennel combination has not only become my new favourite, cooking it in a cast-iron pan tips it over the edge of my pizza nirvana. So move over plain ol’ pepperoni pizza… grown-up pizza just walked in.

A cast iron skillet full of of ingredients for Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza.
Pizza dough, marinara sauce and fennel ready for Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza.

With the new year upon us, we have no choice but to be hopeful for a more user-friendly year. Even though I can consider 2020 a good year, it hasn’t been without its frustrations, and for many people, it has been a year of hardship and heartache. While we can’t eat cheesy, sausage laden pizza all the time, it’s a good reminder to enjoy a few of the simpler things that we can. It’s also great fun to create homemade pizza at home with loved ones lending a helping hand.

All the best in 2021, let’s eat!

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza garnished with fennel fronds and cut into slices on a black cutting board.

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza garnished with fennel fronds and cut into slices on a black cutting board.
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Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Course Main Course
Keyword baked, cast iron, cast iron pizza, fennel, garlic, Italian sausage, mozzerella, olive oil, pizza, pizza dough
Cook Time 14 minutes
Resting time 5 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 8-10 ounces pizza dough homemade or store-bought
  • 8 ounces Italian sausage about 2 links, casing removed
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1/3 cup marinara sauce homemade or store bought
  • 3 ounces shredded mozzarella about 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced plus fronds for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Set oven rack to its uppermost position. Preheat oven to 475°F.
  • Drizzle room temperature pizza dough with 1 tbsp olive oil and press out to a 10" round. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a 10" cast-iron skillet. Add Italian sausage and cook over medium, breaking up any large pieces. Once cooked and slightly crisp remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • With the heat still on medium/low, immediately lay pizza dough in the pan, stretching out to the edges using a spatula or spoon if necessary. Top dough with marinara, then mozzarella, fennel, garlic and sausage. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and check the underside which should be starting to brown and crisp. Transfer pan to oven and bake until bubbling, about 10-14 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with red pepper flakes, and fennel fronds or fresh basil. Lift out of the pan and cut into wedges and serve.

Notes

-The dough will press out better on a wooden surface such as a cutting board as opposed to granite or super-smooth surfaces.
-I prefer a thinner crust and opt for 8 ounces of dough vs 10.  It is 10 ounces pictured in the blog.
-Makes one 10" pizza, however, a 12" cast-iron skillet would work too, just use the 10 ounces of dough.  There's plenty of topping, so there's no need to adjust unless you'd like more cheese.
-The original recipe from Bon Appétit suggests garnishing with fresh basil, however, I enjoy using fresh fennel fronds instead, but it's a matter of preference and both are delicious. 

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Stroganoff Meatballs

Stroganoff Meatballs

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Stroganoff Meatballs in a red casserole dish resting on a wooden tray lined with a white kitchen towel.

This a casserole that I’ve made time and time again. I love it because it makes enough for six people or provides plenty of leftovers, which is important for me as a shift worker. It’s also a comforting, family-style meal that is fantastic served over mashed potatoes. Stroganoff Meatballs is a great fall/winter recipe that you’ll want to make over and over.

Raw beef meatballs rolled and arranged on a baking tray in preparation for Stroganoff Meatballs.

For this recipe, you’ll notice that I insist you use a beef soup base such as Knorr OXO Beef in a Mug and not regular beef bouillon powder. This is not a sponsored post, but I’ve tried both beef bouillon cubes and regular beef bouillon powder. They just don’t have the same beef flavour that the soup base does, and it makes all the difference. I do hate to be so particular on an ingredient, but for this recipe I must insist that you use beef soup base such as Knorr OXO Beef in a Mug.  It’s worth the little bit of fuss, enjoy!

Ingredients for Stroganoff Meatballs arranged on a small wooden board on a white kitchen towel.

Author: Compelled to Cook, adapted from Companys Coming Casseroles cookbook 1985.

Stroganoff Meatballs
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 people 55-60 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 55-60 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Stroganoff Meatballs
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 people 55-60 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 55-60 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Ingredients
Beef Meatballs
Stroganoff Sauce
Servings: people
Instructions
Beef Meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix until incorporated. Roll into 1-ounce meatballs (about 2 tbsp each) and arrange on a large baking tray lined with parchment. Will yield about 38 meatballs.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven. Reduce heat to 350°F.
Stroganoff Sauce
  1. While meatballs are cooking, heat oil in a large dutch oven. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until most of the liquid has evaporated and starting to brown.
  2. Add 2 cups water and OXO soup base and heat to a simmer, stirring to dissolve. Whisk together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water. Add to pot, whisking constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and whisk in mushroom soup until smoothed out. Stir in sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, paprika and pepper.
  3. Add meatballs to the sauce and stir gently to coat with sauce. Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately over noodles, rice or potatoes.
Recipe Notes

-It is a must to use beef soup base (preferably Knorr OXO Beef in a Mug)  I have tried to use regular beef bouillon cubes and powder, however, they do not have the same level of beef flavour and are not recommended for this recipe.

-Meatballs can be made and cooked up to a day ahead.  Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.  Cook casserole for 40-45 minutes if using cold meatballs.

 

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Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties

Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties

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Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties panfried in a cast iron skillet and garnished with fresh herbs.

One of my favourite things is enjoying a leisurely weekend morning with nothing more to do than drink coffee and chat idly over a satisfying, belly bursting breakfast/brunch.  It’s the kind of time that I cherish because there’s no rushing, no chores, just good company, yummy food and belly scratches for the cat.  Even though my husband and I both love bacon, we couldn’t help but fall hard for these juicy and flavourful Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties.  They’re the absolute best thing for my perfect weekend morning. Easy, delicious, homemade and amazing with crispy fried eggs.

Uncooked Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties on a parchment lined tray ready for pan frying.

What makes a great homemade sausage patty?

-don’t overmix, over mixing will cause the mixture to be gummy and harder to handle.
-use dampened hands, fingers and ring molds to form the patties into neat rounds.  Just a dab of water goes a long way to keep the stickiness at bay.
-season appropriately with enough salt and spices.  Remember, plain meats need salt to bring out the flavour and additional spices and herbs enhance the meat.  Salt enhances the herbs too.
-don’t overcook the patties, they only need to be cooked through not cooked to death which will result in dry patties.
-use freshly ground pork if possible as it will be less weepy or watery than ground pork that has been frozen and thawed.
-measure or weigh each portion for uniform patties that will cook evenly.

Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    12-13 patties 30 minutes
    Cook Time
    8-10 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    12-13 patties 30 minutes
    Cook Time
    8-10 minutes
    Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      12-13 patties 30 minutes
      Cook Time
      8-10 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      12-13 patties 30 minutes
      Cook Time
      8-10 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: patties
      Instructions
      1. Crush fennel seeds with the bottom of a glass or chop with a knife to break apart the seeds.
      2. Combine crushed fennel with the remaining seasonings and 1/4 cup of water.
      3. Add ground pork to a large bowl and add seasonings. Mix until seasoning is evenly incorporated but do not overmix. I find it best to use my hands.
      4. Portion mixture into 2.5 ounces each. Form into 3.5" patties either using your hands or pressing into a ring mold (see note). Place on a flat plate or tray and separate layers with parchment.
      5. Add 1 tbsp of oil to your favourite medium-size skillet ( I used cast iron) and heat over medium until hot. Add patties to the pan without overcrowding and cook for 4-5 minutes per side until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and serve immediately. Or keep warm in a low oven and repeat with remaining oil and uncooked patties.
      Recipe Notes

      -I like to mix the seasonings with water prior to adding to the pork as I find it helps distribute them nicely without overmixing.

      -a small dab of water on your hands and/or ring mold between forming patties will keep the stickiness under control.

      -pre-formed patties can be frozen raw and will keep for at least a month well wrapped and separated with parchment paper.

       

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      Easy Homemade Baguettes

      Easy Homemade Baguettes

      EASY HOMEMADE BAGUETTES

      Easy Homemade Baguettes stacked two high and one sliced with butter in the foreground.

       

      Homemade bread is easy!

       

      Glorious, chewy, crusty bread is at your fingertips with these Easy Homemade Baguettes. The recipe is credited to Dan Leader’s 4-hour Baguette and I’ve done little to alter the recipe other than reducing the amount of salt and put it in my own words. Many types of bread can be made within 4 hours, so you may be wondering why this recipe is anything special. A traditional French Baguette starts with some kind of “starter” usually consisting of a partial amount of the flour, water and yeast. This starter is left to ferment for many hours and often overnight, making it a lengthy process. The benefit of using a starter is to promote more flavour and a better texture. Dan Leader’s 4-hour Baguette is a wonderful recipe because it creates a similar result in much less time.

      Dough rising in a glass bowl for Easy Homemade Baguettes

      Dan Leader does this in a couple of ways. The first being the delayed addition of the salt. The salt is added after the dough has rested and hydrated. Salt inhibits yeast growth, so by adding it at a later stage allows the yeast to develop better, creating more flavour. The second is an additional rise after folding the dough. The folding helps to stretch out the gluten strands and therefore helps to create a nice texture. The additional rise also helps with yeast development and better flavour.

      Dough resting and rising on a wooden board with a bench scraper in the background.

      Adding ice to a hot pan placed below the baking rack will ensure a lovely crust on your baguettes by allowing the dough to rise fully before a crust forms.

      Food 52 calls this a genius recipe and I can see why. A few deliberate actions in the recipe saves a whole lot of time and produces wonderful results. If you love homemade bread, this recipe is a must try. Enjoy!

      Baguette dough rising in a metal baguette pan on a linen kitchen towel.

      Are you new to baking, wanting to improve your baking, or maybe you just want to make baking more convenient and fun?  Have you ever thought of creating a baking station?  The rather handy and informative Porch website has a great article on how to do just that.  It provides unique and inspiring ideas of how to create, organize and have fun with a baking station.  It’s a great idea and a good read How to Create the Ultimate Home Baking Station 

      Three Easy Homemade Baguettes are baked golden and resting on a wooden board with a linen kitchen towel.

      Three Easy Homemade Baguettes are baked golden and resting on a wooden board with a linen kitchen towel.
      Easy Homemade Baguettes
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        3 baguettes 4 hours
        Cook Time
        25 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        3 baguettes 4 hours
        Cook Time
        25 minutes
        Three Easy Homemade Baguettes are baked golden and resting on a wooden board with a linen kitchen towel.
        Easy Homemade Baguettes
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          3 baguettes 4 hours
          Cook Time
          25 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          3 baguettes 4 hours
          Cook Time
          25 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: baguettes
          Instructions
          1. In a large bowl stir together water and yeast and allow to ferment for about 10 minutes until foamy.
          2. Add 2 3/4 cups of flour and stir until moisture is absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate.
          3. Flour your work surface with a sprinkle of the remaining flour. Dump out dough onto your work surface and sprinkle with salt and a tablespoon of flour to knead the dough without it being too sticky. Continue kneading the dough and adding flour by the tablespoon until dough is smooth but still a little tacky, about 8 minutes. Using a bench scraper to lift the dough off the counter helps until it becomes less sticky. The exact amount of flour is dependant on your working conditions and existing moisture in the flour you are using.
          4. Place dough in a large lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for 60 minutes until double in size.
          5. Remove dough to your work surface and using your fingers push and spread dough to remove air pockets and to shape into an approximate 8"x 6" rectangle. Fold the long sides of the dough into the centre and then fold the top and bottom into the centre. Place the folded dough back into the bowl, seam side down. Cover and allow to rise for 60 minutes.
          6. Preheat oven to 475℉ and place a heatproof pan or cast iron skillet on the rack below your centre baking rack. If using a baking stone, place it in the oven to preheat as well.
          7. Divide dough into 3 equal portions and roll each into an approximate 14" log. Allowing the dough to rest for 60-second pauses between rolling will help the dough relax and hold its shape when rolled. Place shaped logs onto a baguette pan. Alternatively, you can lay logs onto lightly floured parchment that sits on a rimless baking tray. Leave enough space between the logs to pinch the parchment and lift up, creating pleats between the logs. Place rolled kitchen towels on both ends of the parchment to provide support. Cover and allow to rise for 50 minutes.
          8. Using a sharp knife or bread lame, make at least four 4" slashes across each loaf. Add ice cubes to the hot pan in the oven and place baguettes on centre rack above. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and baguettes sound hollow when tapped. If using parchment, remove towels and pull parchment by the corners to flatten. Place pan in the oven as indicated above onto your preheated baking stone or simply on the middle rack if not using a stone.
          Recipe Notes

          -The exact amount of flour needed is dependent on many factors such as humidity and type of flour. Keep a small portion of flour aside and add by the tablespoon until the dough is smooth yet still tacky.  By all means, use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to knead the dough if desired.

          -Use an upside-down baking tray if you do not have a rimless one.

          -A baguette pan is an inexpensive investment that allows the loaves to brown evenly on all sides.

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          Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

          Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

          I promised!

          Yes, not too long ago I promised to build up my “cookie” category because who doesn’t want more cookies?  Today’s Coconut Oatmeal Cookies are made just for me!  That’s right, they’re not Christmas cookies made for giving, chocolate chip for my husband or spicy oatmeal for my brother.  Nope, they’re golden with crispy, buttery edges and a slightly chewy centre. Pure coconut and oatmeal goodness, and they’re just for me. This wonderful Coconut Oatmeal Cookie is MY favourite and not made enough in my opinion.  It’s wonderful to bake for others and I truly love to do so, but today I’m thinking of myself.  I really don’t need to eat a bunch of cookies all by myself, but these are oh so good and I do like to have a little treat once in a while. Luckily they freeze wonderfully!!

          What makes a good cookie?

          I suppose one could say that depends on what kind of cookie your making, but many cookies start off in a similar manner by creaming the butter and sugar first.  So here are a few tips,

          1. Use room temperature butter, do not substitute margarine or shortening. Sure they will work, but butter just tastes better.

          2. Cream the butter and sugar well, ensuring the sugar crystals are evenly coated. This helps give a tender texture to the cookie.

          3. Mix dough until just incorporated and dough sticks together. 

          4. Measure out dough or use an Amazon cookie scoop where applicable for each cookie to ensure each one is the same size for uniform baking.

          5. Do not overcrowd on the pan.  Allow the cookie enough room to spread and brown evenly all around.

          6. Do not over bake.  This can be difficult as cookies are still soft when removed from the oven so it’s hard to judge sometimes.  I bake one tray first according to the recipe and adjust if needed before baking more.

          7. Use parchment paper or Amazon Silpat mat  to prevent cookies from sticking.

          8. Bake one tray at a time using the middle rack.  This takes a little more time, but every cookie will be the same.

          Author: Compelled to Cook, recipe adapted from Best of Bridge BL’s Cookies.

          Coconut Oatmeal Cookies rest on a blue and white striped napkin that is draped through a white wooden tray. A small glass bottle of milk sits to the side and a canister of cookies lays in the background.
          Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            54 cookies 20 minutes
            Cook Time
            10-12 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            54 cookies 20 minutes
            Cook Time
            10-12 minutes
            Coconut Oatmeal Cookies rest on a blue and white striped napkin that is draped through a white wooden tray. A small glass bottle of milk sits to the side and a canister of cookies lays in the background.
            Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              54 cookies 20 minutes
              Cook Time
              10-12 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              54 cookies 20 minutes
              Cook Time
              10-12 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: cookies
              Instructions
              1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
              2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.
              3. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.
              4. Add egg and molasses and beat to fully incorporate. Stir in vanilla.
              5. Add flour mixture, oatmeal and coconut. Mix until just combined and dough comes together.
              6. Line baking trays with parchment or silpat mat. Using a 1 ounce cookie scoop, scoop out dough, spacing 2 inches apart.
              7. Bake one tray at a time on the middle rack for 10-12 minutes.
              8. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on tray for 2-3 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.

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              I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com