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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Dinner Is Roasting In The Oven

Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Oil 3 baking dishes, each just large enough to accommodate the fish, the broccoli and the rutabaga cubes.

Oven Roasted Salmon

Ingredients

2 salmon fillets, about 12 oz total

Topping
1/2 cup panko crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

Combine the breadcrumbs with the oil and the seasoning ingredients.
Press the breadcrumb mixture evenly on the salmon.
Place in the preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Oven Roasted Rutabaga Wedges

Rutabagas are in season now, so they make a good choice for a vegetable side. If you are not a fan of rutabaga, use Yukon Gold potatoes in this recipe.

French Seasoning

I use a blend that comes prepared and contains the following herbs:  shallots, chives, green peppercorns, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil, and bay leaf.

1 rutabaga, about 1 ½ lb
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon French seasoning or seasoning of choice

Directions

Peel the rutabagas and cut them into 2″ chunks and place them in the prepared baking dish.
Add the rest of the ingredients and toss with a spoon until all the pieces are evenly coated.
Spread the rutabaga in a single layer in the baking pan, making sure there is plenty of room between the pieces of rutabaga to allow them to brown.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then remove the foil, lower the heat and continue baking, stirring 2 or 3 times during the process, until the rutabaga is fork tender and starts to caramelize around the edges, about 15-20 minutes.

Oven Roasted Broccoli Florets

Ingredients

12 oz bag of fresh broccoli florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Place the broccoli in the prepared baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Toss well and roast for 15 -20 minutes in the preheated oven until crisp-tender and the edges are starting to brown, tossing occasionally.

Pour the cheese sauce over the broccoli or serve it on the side.

Really Easy Cheddar Cheese Sauce

ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Combine all the ingredients in a glass dish and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir well. If all the cheese is not melted, repeat the process.

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Tri-Tip Steak

Tri-tip steak is cut from a tri-tip roast, which is a small, triangular cut from the sirloin. It is also known as a triangle steak, bottom sirloin steak, or Santa Maria steak. Each steak is boneless, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick, and should be nicely marbled. Tri-tip is a good cut of meat because of its rich beef flavor, tender texture, as well as a cheaper price tag than similar steak cuts. It’s also a lean cut of meat, making it a healthier red meat option. The tri-tip was popularized in California and while it is now more widely marketed, you may need to request it from your butcher. Because tri-tip steaks are leaner than most cuts, consider marinating them.

So How did America discover this cut of beef? According to Steven Raichlen’s BBQ Bible, the story goes like this:

The year was 1952. The scene? An old Safeway store, long since razed, in this agricultural town of Santa Maria on California’s Central Coast. A one-armed butcher (really!) named Bob Schutz had the idea to spit-roast a crescent-shaped cut from the bottom of the sirloin that was normally ground into hamburger or cubed and sold as stew meat. “Are you nuts?’ a co-worker scoffed. “It’ll be tough as hell.”

But Schutz persevered, seasoning the meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then threading it onto the spit. What later slid off the rotisserie blew the Santa Marians away. Carved across the grain, it was moist, tender, and satisfying—with the rich sanguine flavor of costlier beef.

I wish I could say tri-tip was an overnight success. But this cut might be the most popular cut of beef you’ve never heard of.

Here is my recipe:

Ingredients

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2-pound beef tri-tip steak

Directions

In a large, plastic ziplock bag, blend the soy sauce, brown sugar, olive oil, water, garlic, and pepper. Place the beef tri-tip in the marinade. Seal the bag, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a heavy ovenproof pan with olive oil and heat.on high until pan is very hot, then add the tri-tip, fat side down. Turn heat to medium and sear the beef on all sides, about 4 minutes.

Put the pan with the beef in the oven and cook it for about 10 minutes a pound, checking with an instant-read thermometer until it reaches 125 degrees F for medium-rare. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Serve the steak with your favorite sides. Mine are onion rings and a salad with blue cheese dressing.

Fish Cooked In Crazy Water


While the dish originated from fishermen of the Neapolitan area, who sautéed the catch of the day in seawater together with tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, The term itself most likely originated from Tuscany; where the local peasants would make wine, but had to give most to the landlord, leaving little left for them to drink. The peasants were resourceful, however, and mixed the stems, seeds, and pomace leftover from the wine production with large quantities of water brought it to a boil, then sealed the mixture in a terracotta vase and let it ferment for several days. Called l’acquarello or l’acqua pazza, the result was a water barely colored with wine, which the fisherman may have been reminded of when seeing the broth of the dish, colored slightly red by the tomatoes and oil.
Acqua pazza became a very popular dish with tourists on Capri Island in the 1960s.
The pezzogna fish (also known as “occhione” or “big eye” because of the size of its eyes) is caught in the Bay of Naples and is highly prized for its delicious taste.
Marcella Hazan was introduced to the dish by her friend from Amalfi, Pierino Jovine, and her first reaction was, “Who wants to eat fish in water?” Here is the link to her recipe:

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/fish-in-crazy-water

And here is my version

Pesce All’Acqua Pazza

Ingredients for 2 people

1 lb fish fillets (red snapper, flounder) cut into serving portions
Salt and pepper
4 mini plum tomatoes (Marzano) or cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (peperoncino)
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sliced red onion
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

Dry the fish fillets on paper towels and season them with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil and lightly fry the garlic, onion, and peperoncino in a skillet with a cover that is large enough to fit the fish, until the onion softens. Add the tomatoes, white wine, and water. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low and add the fish. Cook, covered, 10 minutes for thin fillets or 15 minutes for thicker ones. Serve immediately, dressed with the cooking liquid and topped with the parsley.

Here is another example of my cooking philosophy – never waste food. I had extra zucchini squash and leftover cooked cauliflower, so I decided to use them for side dishes with this fish recipe.

Cauliflower Cakes

Makes 6

Ingredients

2 cups mashed cauliflower
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Butter

Directions

Combine the mashed cauliflower, cheeses, and seasoning.
Heat a stovetop griddle to medium/high heat. Coat with butter.
Form the cauliflower mixture into 6 patties about 3 inches across. Coat the patties in the panko crumbs.
Cook until golden brown & set, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Zucchini Pancakes

These are so good that I usually double the recipe.

Makes 8-4 inch patties

Ingredients

2 cups grated zucchini
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, grated
2 green onions, finely minced
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch or flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Butter

Directions

Place the grated zucchini on a kitchen towel and sprinkle the zucchini lightly with kosher salt. Let rest 30 minutes.
Squeeze the excess moisture out of the zucchini with the towel.
In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini with the egg, garlic, green onions, and arrowroot powder. Stir in the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Season with black pepper to taste.
Brush a large stovetop griddle pan or large skillet with butter. Scoop 1/4 cup of the zucchini mixture onto the griddle and pat it flat with a metal spatula. Add as many patties as you can to the pan without letting them touch each other.
Cook until golden brown and crispy on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and keep the cooked pancakes warm in a low oven until all the pancakes are made.
Extras can be wrapped in foil and stored in the refrigerator for a week. Believe me when I say the leftovers are delicious reheated for breakfast and served with a fried egg on top.

 

 

Italian American Classic – Wedding Soup

Folklore tells us that what has come to be known as Italian Wedding Soup began as a dish traditionally served to the bride and groom at their wedding reception. However, that story is not exactly true. Italian Wedding Soup gained its name, not from the occasion that might bring it to the table but rather from the harmony of its ingredients. The name of the dish in English, “wedding soup”, actually means “married soup” (minestra maritata) in Italian. The modern Americanized version of wedding soup is a far lighter dish than the original, which was a rib-sticking dish intended as the main (and sometimes only) meal of the day. The Italian Wedding Soup history also has ties with America, where it was brought here by the Neapolitan immigrants. In Italy, the soup went out of fashion around the time the immigrants took their recipe with them to America. There are many, many versions of this soup. Below is my version of the dish and the one my family loves. This soup tastes better if made a day ahead.

Italian Wedding Soup

For the meatballs:

1 pound lean ground chicken
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 medium stalks celery with leaves, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
12 cups chicken broth
1 cup small pasta, such as ditalini
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
10 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with cooking spray.

For the meatballs:

Place the ground chicken, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Italian seasoning, Parmesan, cream, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork.
Form 1 inch balls (I use a small cookie scoop) and drop the meatballs onto the prepared pan They don’t have to be perfectly round. Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

For the soup:

Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the garlic, onions, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the pasta and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the Italian seasoning and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and cook for 1 minute. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with grated Parmesan.

Quick Dinner: Homemade Philly Cheesesteak

Philly-Style Steak Sandwiches

2 sandwiches

Ingredients

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 small bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 boneless rib eye steak, about 10 ounces and about 1 inch thick, trimmed of all fat
2 hoagie (Italian sub) rolls, split
2 thin slices white American cheese, each folded in half
2 thin slices provolone cheese, each folded in half

Directions

Cut the steak into paper-thin slices.
In a medium bowl combine the onion, peppers, garlic, olive oil, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly. Set aside.
Heat a skillet (with a cover) and add the butter. Add the steak slices and cook quickly, about a minute on each side. Remove the steak to a plate and add the vegetables to the skillet.
Cook the vegetables until they are soft and tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. While still in the pan, divide the vegetable mixture into two long piles. Divide the steak slices in half and place on top of the vegetables. Place a folded slice of provolone cheese and a folded slice of American cheese on top of each steak mound. Cover the pan and heat on low just until the cheese begins to melt.


Brush the cut sides of the rolls with a little olive oil and toast under the broiler just until lightly brown. Place one steak mound on each role and serve.

Mixed Green Salad With Homemade Ranch Dressing

Dressing

1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons. fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Salad
1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce
1 bunch arugula
8 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced into half moons
¼ of a red onion sliced thin

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, buttermilk, lemon juice, garlic, hot sauce, and pepper; stir in the chives.
In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, red onion, and cucumbers. Drizzle with some of the dressing and serve the remaining dressing on the side.

Shepherd’s Pie

Have lots of leftovers from Thanksgiving? Here is a delicious recipe to use some of the leftovers in a new way. For the topping, I use a mixture of potatoes and cauliflower to reduce the number of carbs in the dish. If you are not a fan of cauliflower use all potatoes. Don’t forget the leftover cranberry sauce to add as a side.

Filling Ingredients

4 cups cubed leftover turkey
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, finely diced
Half a green bell pepper, diced
1 cup leftover green beans, diced
2 cups leftover turkey gravy

Topping

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
2 cups leftover mashed cauliflower
1 tablespoon melted butter.
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Choose either an 8×8-inch or a 9×14-inch oven-proof pan, depending on how much food you have. Oval gratin dishes or a casserole dish also work well, as do individual baking dishes. Butter the dish well.

To reheat the filling before putting the casserole in the oven.

Combine the filling ingredients in the baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and heat in the microwave until warm (not hot), about 4 minutes on high.
If you don’t wish to use the microwave, reheat the mixture in a saucepan and pour into the baking dish.

To make the topping:

Thoroughly combine the mashed potatoes and cauliflower. Mix in the melted butter and cheddar cheese. Spread the topping over the filling in the baking dish, spreading it to the edges of the dish. Place the baking dish on a foil covered cookie sheet. The filling may bubble over.

Bake, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. You will know it is done when the pie filling is bubbling hot and the topping turns golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Stuffed Pork Chop Dinner


Stuffed Pork Chops

For two servings you need

Ingredients

Freshly ground black pepper
2 one-inch thick boneless pork chops (about 6 oz each), trimmed of all fat and butterflied
½ cup creamed spinach (see recipe below) (leftover or frozen and defrosted)
4 slices Prosciutto di Parma
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Half of a 9 oz.package of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 large or 3 medium shallots peeled and halved
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°F.


Pound the butterflied pork lightly just to even out their thick areas. Season the pork chops with black pepper.

Place ¼ cup creamed spinach on half of each pork chop. Fold the uncovered side over the filling. Wrap each chop with two slices of prosciutto.


Heat the oil and butter in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, add the chops and brown the bottom side. Turn the chops over, add the garlic, artichokes, and shallots to the pan and cook until the second side is brown.

Stir the vegetables occasionally. Add the thyme and place the pan in the oven. Cook the pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a chop reads 140°F, about 6-8 minutes.

Creamed Spinach

This is the recipe I use for creamed spinach. I made it for Thanksgiving and had some leftover.

8 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup cream cheese with chives and onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Two 16 oz packages frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry

Directions

In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Add onions; cook and stir 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and stir in cream cheese until melted. Add cream and salt and pepper to taste. Add spinach; cook, covered, 3-5 minutes or until the spinach is soft, stirring occasionally. Can do ahead and reheat in the microwave.

Oven Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

4 servings

Ingredients

1 large head of cauliflower
Olive oil
1 large garlic clove, grated
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

Remove the outer leaves and trim the stem end.
Hold the cauliflower with its stem on a cutting board.
With a sharp knife, make one cut through the center of the cauliflower to divide it in half.
Cut each half into two 3/4-inch thick slices. Save the ends for another recipe.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the cauliflower steaks on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the Italian seasoning evenly over the cauliflower. Top each cauliflower steak with 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.

Roast the cauliflower steaks in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until tender and golden.


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