spaghetti with Isaan sausage

Yesterday, Andy brought home a huge Christmas hamper filled with imported foods from Italy. I saw the spaghetti and the bottle of Passata di Pomodoro and decided to make a spaghetti with Italian sausage. But rather than try to find what I know will be an inferior Italian sausage, I decided to put in spicy Isaan sausage. Also called herb sausage, this product comes from the Northeast and has a distinctive taste. It is made of pork and spices–I tasted chilies and lemongrass among them. I bought two, already cooked and curled up so cozy, at the Seri Market, Paradise Park in Bangkok.

2 Isaan sausages cut into rings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 x 24 1/2 oz. (720 ml) bottle Mutti Passata di Pomodoro (tomato sauce)
4 tablespoons fresh holy basil, chiffonaded
black pepper to taste
4 portions spaghetti
lightly salted water
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Put lightly salted water on to boil. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions until al dente.

Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant and the onions are wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and sausage,  and cook until heated through, about 5-7 minutes. Add the black pepper to taste. Stir in the basil.

To serve, scoop cooked spaghetti into a bowl. Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese, about a handful. Then top with Parmesan to taste. Generously spoon sausage and tomato sauce on top. I liked it; the sausage had a strong herbal taste that complemented the tart flavor of the tomato sauce. The cheese was discreet.  I served it with a lettuce salad and a simple red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing.

from Bangkok with love: pavlova with tropical fruit

My last recipe post was over two weeks ago!

That’s because I was packing, cleaning out the refrigerator in the Teeny Tiny Apartment, flying to Bangkok,  and getting over jet lag. Now that I’m recovered, I’m baking again. I’ve always wanted to try making this pavlova with tropical fruit. It’s superb with raspberries but divine with mango, kiwi, and passion fruit.

Make sure you have this mis en place:

4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup superfine/caster sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons superfine/caster sugar
1 mango diced
1 kiwi sliced and quartered
2 passion fruit, seeds and pulp only

Preheat the oven 250˚F. Prepare a baking tray with a 6-8 inch circle drawn in the center of a sheet of parchment. I ran out of parchment so I used a silicone liner. It worked!

In Bangkok, it is “winter”–meaning it is cool and not as humid–perfect weather to make the meringue. To make the meringue, separate 4 eggs while cold. Allow the whites to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Whip the whites until foamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar and continue beating until blended. Add one cup of superfine/caster sugar one tablespoon at a time until blended. Continue whipping until the whites turn smooth and satiny. When you lift the beaters, the peaks should be stiff, the tips just curling over.

Scrape the meringue into the center of the circle. I didn’t want to draw on the silicone liner so I just guessed  the circle’s diameter would be  8 inches. Mound the meringue leaving a slight well in the center. Bake 60-75 minutes. Then turn off the oven and let the meringue dry out, about 2-3 hours. I was in a rush so I took it out after 1 hour before it had thoroughly cooled. As a result, the meringue crust was slightly chewy rather than crisp.

Beat the whipping cream with two tablespoons sugar. Spread the cream in the center of the meringue. If the shell cracks and breaks, don’t worry. In a bowl, gently toss the mango and kiwi together. Pour on top of the whipped cream. Sprinkle the passion fruit on top. Serve with a spoon!

Cake Baker’s Note: Choose wrinkled passion fruit as they will be the ripest. To cut open a passion fruit make the first cut at one of the poles. Don’t try to slice through the whole fruit but slice through the rind one hemisphere at a time. Scoop out the seeds and the pulp. Discard the “shells.”