Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Strawberries and Spring

 

Spring is here and so are luscious strawberries at very reasonable prices. Take advantage of this beautiful fruit and eat them as is or use them to make some delicious recipes. Below are some of my favorite ways to use strawberries. What are yours?

Strawberry Breakfast Cake

Topping

3 tablespoons unsalted butter,softened
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup self-rising flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Cake

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries

Directions

Grease a 9 inch springform pan and sprinkle the inside with a little granulated sugar. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the topping ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. With your fingers, rub the mixture into crumbs. Set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar together until creamed. Add the eggs, one at a time.

On low-speed add the sour cream and vanilla. Gradually add the flour, mixing until incorporated.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Top the batter with the sliced strawberries and sprinkle the topping over the berries.

Bake the cake  in the center of the oven for about one hour or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for several hours and then remove the cake pan ring. The cake can also be served warm.

Strawberry Preserves

Preserves are cooked the same way jam is, however, the only difference is that the fruit in preserves is cut into chunks, whereas with jam, the fruit is crushed. The texture of preserves is not as stiff as jelly or jam. It is easy to spread and makes a great topping for ice cream or pancakes.

Ingredients

1 quart of strawberries
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 long strip of lemon zest

Directions

Fill 4 pint jars with boiling water and place the lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside while you make the preserves.

Wash the strawberries and remove the leaves. Cut them in half and place the berries in a large saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon juice and zest. Stir well.

Bring the mixture to a boil and stir occasionally until mixture thickens, about 20-25 minutes or a candy thermometer registers 220 degrees F.

Remove the pan from the heat. Empty the pint jars and remove the lids from the water.

Fill the jars with the preserves and place the lids on the jars. Cool for a few hours at room temperature. Store the jars in the refrigerator for a few weeks or freeze them for future use.

Strawberry Almond Scones

Self-rising flour can be used for a quicker preparation. Leave out the salt and baking powder in the recipe, if using.

Ingredients

1 cup fresh hulled and finely chopped strawberries
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing on the scones
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the scones
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ cup toasted sliced almonds
½ teaspoon almond extract
Coarse sugar for the topping

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the chopped strawberries and cream and set aside while you make the dough.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 table knives in a scissor motion, cut butter into flour until the size of small peas.

Add the almond extract to the strawberry-cream mixture. Add the mixture to the flour/butter mixture and stir together with a fork, just until combined.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch circle. Cut into 8 triangles.

Lightly brush the tops of the scones with a little cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Transfer the triangles to the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Immediately place the scones on a rack to cool completely.

Strawberry Fruit Salad

Ingredients

1 pint strawberries, trimmed and sliced
2 large red mangoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 orange, zested, white pith removed and sliced
1 teaspoon honey

Directions

In a medium bowl, stir together the strawberries, mangoes, orange slices, zest and honey. Chill, covered, until ready to serve.

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Cooking The Italian Provinces – Reggio Emilia

Reggio Emilia is one of the nine provinces in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna and it is situated in Northern Italy, in the Po Valley area. Reggio is a center of art, whose symbols include the seventeenth-century Basilica della Ghiara (a Baroque style church built in 1597) and the famous Teatro Municipale. (a theater).

The economy of the province was for a long time based on agriculture and the province is known for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Lambrusco wine and Balsamic Vinegar. In the twentieth century Reggio Emilia saw a rapid development of small industries, particularly in agricultural mechanics. A few of those industries became large companies, with an international market. Reggio Emilia is also home to some fashion companies and the ceramic tile industry, For more than 100 years, a strong tradition supports building and banking cooperatives in the province, as well as consumers’ cooperatives. This industrial growth has attracted immigration from North and Central Africa, East Europe and the Far East (China, Pakistan, India).

The Autostrada A1 bridges were designed by Santiago Calatrava and opened in 2005-2006. A central arch bridge spans the Milan-Bologna high-speed railway line and the Autostrada del Sole A1 motorway, while twin cable bridges are at either end. The twin bridges pass over service roundabouts and access roads to allow connections with the adjacent Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana high-speed railway station. In 2009, the European Convention for Constructional Steelwork gave the three bridges a European Steel Design Award, stating that the twin bridges’ original visual effects at different angles give the two bridges “the aspect of huge musical instruments.

Educational Leaders

In 1991, the American magazine, Newsweek, named the Diana Preschool in Reggio Emilia, Italy, one of the 10 best schools in the world. As a result, the early childhood centers in this city gained international attention. So what did this little Italian community do to create a world-renowned system of early learning and how does it work?

Until World War II, Reggio was known more for the quality of its wine and ham than for the excellence of its schools. The Reggio Emilia preschools have their origins post-World War II when a small group of women set up a preschool that was the first established secular school for young children. This break with the Catholic church forged a new kind of school. Today, Reggio Emilia has over 35 of these preschools and educators around the world attend conferences and seminars in Reggio Emilia to learn about the system.

The Reggio Emilia Municipal Infant-Toddler Centers provide early childhood programs for children from birth to 3 years and 3-6 years. The philosophy supports a new way of thinking about children and families – where all children, especially those who could be marginalized, are considered full of potential and possibilities – and this seems to have struck a chord with educators around the world who are looking for different ways of providing education.

The Reggio Emilia approach promotes a rethinking of childhood and calls for society to value children’s possibilities, potential, capabilities and competencies. The Reggio Emilia Approach values:children’s relationships with other children, teachers, parents and their classroom environment. Project work, where children are engaged in explorations of their world and make choices about what they will investigate are encourages., Then together with their teachers and peers, students express themselves in what is called the “100 Languages” that place a strong emphasis on visual arts and active listening, where children’s voices, thoughts and opinions are valued (as much as the teachers’). Through these approaches to teaching and learning, the educators challenge and extend each child. They see all of the children as capable and that a teacher’s role is to enable children to reach their potential – not to fix children.

A Foodies’ Paradise

Among the first courses typical of the Reggio Emilia cuisine are cappelletti stuffed with meat and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pumpkin tortelli. Second courses include local specialties of meatloaf, rabbit alla reggiana and roasted stuffed pork. Typical of this area is also the fried gnocco served with salami and cheeses and erbazzone, a torte made with spinach and chard. Among the desserts, the favorites are sweet rice cakes and spongata reggiana with dried fruits, honey and raisins.

Spinach Tortelli

Ingredients

For the pasta

700g/1½lb ’00’ flour, plus extra for dusting
3 medium eggs
Semolina, for dusting

For the filling

200g/7oz spinach, cooked in salted water and chopped
200g/7oz ricotta
30g/1oz grated Parmesan
Large pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce

Small handful of pine nuts
Handful of sage leaves
50g/2oz butter
Parmesan, grated or in shavings

Directions

For the pasta:

Pour the flour into a mound onto a flat surface and make a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well and gradually mix with either a blunt knife or your hands.

When the dough becomes a thick past,e use your hands to incorporate more of the flour. Be careful not to make the dough too dry.

Knead until well blended and the dough is soft and flexible.

Let the pasta rest for about 20 minutes with a bowl inverted over it or leave it covered in plastic wrap.

For the filling:

In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta, parmesan and nutmeg and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To make the tortelli:

Divide the fresh pasta into four pieces and keep three portions under a bowl while you roll and stuff one-quarter.

Roll out the pasta into a long, wide strip either by hand or using a machine. When you can see your hand through it, it is ready for stuffing. Cut the strip in half.

Place teaspoons of the filling in a line down the center of one of the strips about 5 cm/2 in apart. Place the other strip directly on top.

Press the air out from around the filling by pushing down the pasta around them and sealing them in.

Take a small glass or round cutter with a decorative edge measuring about 7 cm/3 in across and cut out circles of pasta around each mound of filling.

They can be cooked immediately in boiling water or stored in fine semolina for up to two hours. You can also freeze them at this stage and then cook them frozen.

To cook the tortelli:

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and gently lower in the tortelli. Cook for about four minutes or until the pasta is soft but not floppy.

For the sauce:

Toast the pine nuts in a dry, deep frying pan. Add the sage leaves and butter and melt the butter taking care not to burn it.

Add about a tablespoon of the pasta cooking water and stir together to emulsify the sauce. Add twist of black pepper. Remove from the heat.

When the pasta is done, drain it gently and toss with the sauce in the deep frying pan.

Let the pasta rest in the sauce for a few minutes. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Roast Pork with Balsamic Vinegar

By Kathy Bechtel (http://www.chefbikeski.com/)

Ingredients

4 bay leaves
1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 5-lb bone-in pork roast

Directions

Combine the first six ingredients in a small bowl.

Place the roast in a sealable plastic bag – it should just fit into a gallon bag. If not, place in a roasting pan. Pour in the marinade and seal the bag.

Turn the bag over a couple of times to move the marinade around and cover the meat on all sides. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Remove the pork from the bag and place in a roasting pan. Put into the preheated oven. After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 375F°.

Roast until the internal temperature of the meat is 130F°, about 90 minutes in total. Check at 60 minutes, just to see what the temperature is.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Torta di Riso

Ingredients

4 cups whole milk
3 large pieces of lemon rind (only the yellow of the rind)
Cinnamon stick
Quarter of a vanilla pod or 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup Arborio Rice
1 tablespoon Sassolino Liquor or rum
Zest from a whole lemon
4 eggs
4 teaspoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons bread crumb
1.5 tablespoon brown sugar
Confectioners’ sugar

Directions

In a medium sized pot, add the milk, lemon rind, cinnamon stick, quarter of a vanilla pod, and a half cup of sugar.

Bring ingredients to a boil over medium heat, occasionally stirring so that the sugar dissolves in the milk.

When the milk begins to boil, lower the heat to a simmer, remove any skin from the surface of the milk, and mix in the rice.

Cook over low heat (approx. 30 minutes), stirring occasionally. Once the rice soaks up the milk and becomes congealed and sticky, take the mixture off of the heat.

Allow the rice mixture to cool and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Remove the lemon rinds, cinnamon stick, and vanilla pod from the rice pudding and add the remaining half cup of sugar and the Sassolino liquor. Combine thoroughly.

Zest a whole lemon into the rice pudding. Be careful to only zest the yellow of the rind and none of the white pith.

Using a fork, whisk 1 egg in a separate bowl and slowly mix it into the rice pudding.

Repeat this step with the remaining eggs. Do not try to add all 4 eggs at the same time or the cake won’t hold together.

Butter the interior of an 9 inch springform pan.

Sprinkle on a thin layer of 2 teaspoons brown sugar and bread crumbs on the pan as evenly as possible.

Pour the cooked rice mixture into the pan and sprinkle on a thin layer of 2 teaspoons of brown sugar on top.

Bake until the torta is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Allow the torta to cool for 20 minutes.

Using a butter knife, cut along the edges of the pan. Remove the pan ring. Turn the torta over onto a serving plate and remove the pan bottom.

Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Torta di Riso is better made one day ahead.

Happy St. Pat’s Day

For the past two weeks I have seen more articles on how to prepare corned beef and cabbage than I could ever want to see. Well it is a tradition. Don’t worry I am not going to tell you how to cook corned beef, no – I am going to skip right to dessert. How about making some Shamrock cookies? Don’t forget to have some tasty rye bread on hand for leftover corned beef sandwiches. I have a great recipe for you.

Sugar Cookie Dough

Makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for rolling out the cookie dough
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 inch shamrock cookie cutter
Glaze for the cookies, recipe below

Directions

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until smooth.

Add the egg and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated (the dough will be stiff).

Shape into a disk and refrigerate, wrapped in plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

Heat the oven to 350° F.

Divide the chilled dough into four pieces. Work with one piece of dough at a time and keep the rest covered in the plastic wrap.

On a floured surface, roll out one piece of dough to a ¼ inch thick. Using a 4 inch shamrock cookie cutter, cut out the shapes and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets.

Roll up the scrapes and place in the plastic wrap.

Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough and re-rolling the scraps until all the dough is used.

Bake until just beginning to brown, about 12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets on the oven racks after 6 minutes.

Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.

I usually just slide the parchment paper with the cookies on it onto the kitchen counter and let them cool.

When thoroughly cool, frost the cookies.

Glaze

I use the corn syrup in this recipe, so that  the glaze will set and not stay sticky.

Ingredients

1 cup powdered/confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1-2 tablespoons water
6 drops green food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and 1 tablespoon water.

Stir in the food coloring a few drops at a time until you reach the color desired. Add additional water, if you want the glaze a little thinner.

Yield: 1/2 cup of glaze.

Homemade Sourdough Sandwich Rye Bread

Makes 1 large, 2-pound loaf

Ingredients

1 cup sourdough starter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 3/4 cups rye flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 teaspoons regular salt
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in the large bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment until the dough comes together in a ball around the paddle.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough until smooth, soft and somewhat sticky. Remove the dough from the bowl and grease the bowl with oil.

Return the dough to the bowl and cover the bowl. Let it rise until puffy, 60 to 90 minutes.

Lightly grease a large bread pan (or other 2-pound capacity loaf pan). A 10″ x 5″ loaf pan; or a long covered baker or 13″ pain de mie pan, without the covers, all work well here.

Gently deflate the dough and shape it into a log the length of your chosen pan. Place it in the prepared pan, and let the dough rise until it’s just about doubled in size, 60 to 90 minutes.

The dough should crown about 1/2″ over the top of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes, loosely cover with aluminum foil after about 20 minutes to prevent it from getting too dark.

The bread should be golden brown when finished, and its internal temperature should register at least 200°F on a digital instant-read thermometer.

Remove the bread from the oven, turn it out of the pan, and allow it to cool completely before slicing.

Using Up Those Leftovers

A survey of my freezer containers, indicated leftover pork and turkey breast were getting old. Time to use them up. I also had 2 cooked baking potatoes in the refrigerator. Since I hate just heating up leftovers, I had to get creative. Sandwiches are always a good meal and so is pasta. I had plenty of dried pasta shells in the pantry, so I decided to come up with a filling for them using the leftover turkey breast meat. Potatoes and eggs – one of my favorites. So here is what I came up with for a few brand new meals.

Pork Sandwiches

For leftover pork.

Leftover pork from a roast or scaloppini dish makes an excellent sandwich.

See original recipes for pork

https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2017/02/24/what-to-cook-in-february/ Or https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2017/02/13/sunday-dinner/

Ingredients for each sandwich:

2 teaspoons prepared basil pesto
2 slices sourdough or ciabatta bread or rolls
2 slices provolone cheese
2 thin slices leftover cooked pork
½ jarred roasted red pepper, drained and sliced
2 large basil leaves
2 teaspoons butter

Prepare the sandwiches:

Brush one side of each slice of bread with pesto. Place the pork slices on top of the pesto covered side of the bread. Add the roasted red pepper, basil leaves and cheese.

Place the second piece of bread, pesto side down, on top if the cheese. Press the sandwich together. Spread the butter on the outside of the bread slices.

How to cook the sandwiches:

In a Panini Press:

Preheat the press. Place the sandwich in the press and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions until golden and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.

On the stove:

Preheat a skillet to medium low. Add the sandwich and press a heavy pan on top to weigh it down. Cook until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Turkey or Chicken Stuffed Pasta Shells

Ingredients

32 large dried pasta shells
Paprika

White Sauce

4 cups milk
4 tablespoons instant flour or all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Filling Ingredients

3 cups finely diced, cooked chicken or turkey
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 clove garlic, grated
½ cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

In a large saucepan combine the milk with the instant flour, butter and salt, Put the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring often.

Once the mixture boils, stir constantly until slightly thickened. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the shells. Cook them for a few minutes less than the package directions say. They should be pliable but not soft.

Drain and place the shells on kitchen towels on the counter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large baking dish that can accommodate the 32 shells or use two smaller dishes.

To make the filling:

Combine all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and add i cup of the white sauce. Stir well.

To assemble the dish:

Pour half of the remaining white sauce into the prepared baking dish.

Fill the shells with the turkey mixture, about 1 tablespoon for each. If you have any filling left over, you can add to the shells in the dish later.

You want to be sure you have filling for all the shells distributed evenly.

As you fill the shells, place them in the baking dish. When all the shells are in the dish, pour the remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle lightly with paprika.

Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake the shells for 45 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Potato, Onion and Rosemary Frittata

This recipe is a good way to use leftover cooked potatoes. This frittata makes a delicious, quick dinner and all you need is a green salad to complete the meal.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
2 baking potatoes, cooked and sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
6 large eggs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the broiler. While you prepare the fritatta.

In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs. Add the cheese and mix.

In an oven-proof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add potatoes and rosemary and sauté until the potatoes are golden.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the vegetables from the pan to a plate and set aside.

Add the butter to the skillet clean and melt over medium heat.

Add the beaten egg mixture and cook for a minute. Spread the sautéed vegetables on top of the eggs,.Let cook for 7-8 minutes or until the edges are set and the top is still slightly wet.

Place the frittata under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the top is set and golden.

Remove the skillet from the oven and let rest 5 minutes. Turn the frittata out onto a platter or serving dish and cut into wedges.

March Madness Snacks

The University of Oregon defeated Ohio State University 46–33 in 1939 to win the first-ever NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Final Four, as the tournament became known, has grown in size and popularity since then. Today, the NCAA basketball tournament has become the most popular sporting event, after the Super Bowl.

For the first 12 years of the men’s tournament, only eight teams were invited to participate. Today, the tournament breaks into four regions of 16 teams. The winning teams from those regions comprise the Final Four, who meet in that year’s host city to decide the championship.

The NCAA held its first women’s basketball tournament in 1982. The women’s tournament started with 32 teams, but now the women’s format echoes the men’s, with play in four regions culminating in a Final Four held in a single location. The championship is played the day after the men’s, concluding the college basketball season.

Yesterday was Selection Sunday and the madness begins on Thursday. Here are some recipes to help you cheer.

Cheesesteak Sandwiches

4 large sandwiches

Ingredients

1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
Half a green bell pepper, finely chopped
8 very thin sandwich steaks (usually sirloin)
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 slices American cheese or your favorite cheese
4 long hoagie rolls, about 8 inches long (I like Martin’s for these sandwiches)

To make the toppings:

Heat a griddle or a large, heavy frying pan, over medium heat. Add oil to the pan and, when it begins to shimmer, add the garlic, onion and green peppers and stir to combine.

Cook, stirring every so often, until they begin to soften, approximately 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove to a bowl and set aside.

To make the steaks:

Place the steaks between pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until uniformly thin.

Turn the heat to high until nearly smoking. Season the meat aggressively with salt and pepper.

Place the steaks on the griddle, working in batches if necessary, and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until well browned but very rare. Remove to a serving platter and allow to rest.

To make the sandwiches:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Place the sub rolls in the oven to warm.

Return sliced steaks to the griddle or frying pan, over medium heat, and place the onions and peppers on top of the steaks. Turn heat to low and cover each steak with sliced cheese.

To serve:

Remove the rolls from the oven and fill each sub with a mixture of 2 steaks, vegetables and cheese. I usually cut these sandwiches in half and arrange on a serving platter.

If serving to guests, keep them warm on a hot plate.

Deviled Eggs and Smoked Salmon

Ingredients

6 large eggs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
6 oz smoked salmon slices
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Directions

Place the eggs in a saucepan just large enough to hold the six eggs. Cover with cold water and place the pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and cover the saucepan.

Let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes. Drain the water from the pot and add some ice cubes and cold water to cover the cooked eggs.

Let them cool until you can handle the eggs without burning your fingers.

Gently tap the eggs in several places and remove the shells. Place the peeled eggs on paper towels to dry.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks and place in a mixing bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork. Add the onion, celery, mayonnaise, mustard and salt and pepper. Mix well.

With a spoon fill each egg where the yolk had been with some of the mixture.

Place the eggs on a platter and chill.

To serve:

Arrange the eggs and salmon on a serving platter. Sprinkle chives over both and serve.

Spanakopita Triangles

Let the package of fillo dough sit in the refrigerator overnight to defrost. Any remaining dough can be kept in the refrigerator well wrapped in plastic for four weeks or be refrozen, so don’t worry that you are not using the entire package.

Makes about 16 triangles

Ingredients

One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 scallions (green onions), minced
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
48 sheets Fillo Dough, thawed
Olive oil
Tzatziki, recipe below

Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach with the scallions, parsley, dill, cheeses, eggs, salt and pepper until smooth.

Keep the fillo dough not being used, covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying, while you work on the triangles.

Spread one sheet of the dough on a cutting board and brush with some olive oil. Place a second sheet of dough on top and brush with oil. Repeat with a third sheet.

Cut the layered fillo in half lengthwise. Place one tablespoon of filling about 1″ from the corner of each strip. Fold one corner of fillo diagonally across to the opposite edge to form a triangle.

Brush lightly with oil. Continue to fold the triangle onto itself. Brush the outside of the triangle with oil and place the triangles seam side down on parchment covered cookie sheets at least 1” apart.

Repeat until all the filling is used up.

Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Rolls can be made ahead and reheated just before party time.

Serve hot with Tzatziki Sauce.

Tzatziki

Ingredients

1 cup peeled and seeded cucumber, finely chopped
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place the chopped cucumber in a fine mesh colander and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Place the colander over a bowl and let the cucumbers drain for one hour.

Turn the cucumbers over on paper towels. Squeeze all the water out.

Combine the cucumber and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Quick and Easy Almond Bark

Ingredients

16 ounces slivered almonds
16 ounces high quality baking milk or dark chocolate (such as Valrhona )

Directions

Toast the almonds in a 9″x 13″ baking pan at 350 degrees F for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove to a bowl and cool.

Line the same baking pan with a piece of parchment and set aside.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl with a cover in the microwave on high for about 2 minutes. Uncover and stir the chocolate with a spatula until smooth.

Stir in the nuts, a little at a time, until they are all incorporated and covered with chocolate.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Spread the mixture to the sides of the pan and press down with a spatula until smooth.

Cover with another piece of parchment and press down to flatten. Chill in the refrigerator until hardened.

Cut into serving pieces and store in a cool place.

Stuffed Cabbage For Dinner

Just about every cuisine in the world has a cabbage roll dish. Meat fillings are traditional in Europe where beef, lamb or pork are used and seasoned with garlic, onion and spices. Grains, such as, rice and barley, eggs, mushrooms and vegetables are often included. Pickled cabbage leaves are used for wrapping, particularly in Southeastern Europe. In Asia, seafood, tofu and shiitake mushrooms may also be used. Chinese cabbage is often used as a wrapping.

Cabbage rolls are a favorite in Polish cuisine and are called, gołąbki, which literally means “little pigeons.” My mother-in-law was of Polish heritage and liked to make this dish in the traditional way.  I have tried many recipes for cabbage rolls but they have not always been to my liking. This recipe comes about with my adjusting and readjusting the ingredients until I got to this version. Now, my husband and I really like this dish. Hope you do, also.

Stuffed Cabbage

Ingredients

1 large head of cabbage

Braising Sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced
Half a sweet onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (chili) flakes
One 26 – 28 ounce container chopped Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Meat Filling

1 garlic clove, minced
Half a sweet onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 large egg, beaten to blend
½ cup dried breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the cabbage:

With a sharp knife remove some of the core and gently remove eight large leaves from the head. You may have to cut away some of the core in stages to remove the leaves without tearing them.

Reserve remaining cabbage for another use.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Place the cabbage leaves in the boiling water and cook until pliable, about 5 minutes. Drain and place on a kitchen towel.

Using a paring knife, cut a narrow V-shape into the base of each leaf on either side of the rib in order to remove the thickest part of rib (this will make the leaves easier to roll).

For the sauce

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and bay leaf and cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the red pepper, tomatoes, brown sugar and vinegar; season generously with salt and black pepper.

Reduce heat and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened slightly, about 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and set aside.

For the meat filling

In a large bowl combine all the filling ingredients and season with black pepper. Mix gently with clean hands until incorporated; set filling aside.

To assemble the cabbage rolls:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Divide the meat filling into 8 equal portions.

Shape the filling into a log about 3″ long and 1″ wide. Starting at the base where you cut the V, place a portion of the filling meat and fold in the sides.

Roll like a burrito into a tight cylinder. Repeat until you’ve rolled the cabbage leaves.

Oil a 13 x 9″  baking pan. Place the cabbage rolls in the baking dish in rows side-by-side.

Top with the braising sauce; Cover with foil and bake the rolls until tender, about, 1½ hours.

Set aside the dish, covered, to rest while you cook the asparagus.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

This recipe is easily multiplied (each pound of uncooked potatoes yields about 2 cups mashed potatoes).

Ingredients

1 pound Yukon Gold or russet potatoes
Cold water, for cooking, enough to cover plus 1-inch
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cream
3 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste

Directions

Scrub the potatoes well and peel them. Cut potatoes into 1 inch pieces place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water, then stir in the salt.

Cover and bring to a boil on high, then reduce the heat to maintain a low boil until the potatoes are tender and a knife moves easily through the center, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes.

In a small pan, gently melt the butter, cream and salt to taste and mix together, keep warm.

Return the drained potatoes to the cooking pot, turn the heat to medium and let the excess water cook off for a minute or two, shaking the pan occasionally.

Mash the potatoes until smooth. With a spatula, slowly turn the hot cream-butter-salt mixture into the potatoes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve immediately.

Note: the potatoes can be prepared earlier and reheated in a casserole dish in the oven along with other dishes you are cooking.

Oven Roasted Asparagus

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Break off the woody bottoms of the asparagus and wash in cold water.

Arrange trimmed asparagus in 13 X 9 inch dish and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon zest.

Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 20 minutes.

Springtime Dinner

Besides a wide selection of spring vegetables, my market had American raised grass-fed, organic lamb on sale. Lamb is traditional for spring and it is tender at this time of year. I think lamb benefits from a simple marinade with lots of fresh herbs added. Grass-fed lamb has a sweet, clean taste with the flavor of herbs and grasses eaten on the pasture. It is never greasy and the texture is firm and tender.

One of the best ways to cook lamb chops is to grill them. They cook quickly — just a few minutes per side — and are best cooked to medium-rare, with an internal temperature of 120 degrees. Once you take the chops off the grill, let them rest a few minutes. They’ll continue to cook and the temperature will rise a few degrees.

Grilled Lamb Chops

2 servings

Ingredients

4 loin lamb chops, about 1 ½ inches thick, as much fat as possible removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 lemon, cut in half

Directions

Place the lamb chops in a glass dish with a cover. Add the oil, garlic, rosemary, oregano and black pepper. Toss the lamb in this mixture.

Cover the dish and refrigerate for at least four hours.

Remove the dish from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling.

Prepare an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.

Add the salt to the lamb chops and place them on the grill. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side or to taste.

Remove the meat from the grill to a serving plate and squeeze the lemon juice over the lamb. Let rest five minutes before serving.

Cucumber Yogurt Salad

3-4 servings

Ingredients

2 large cucumbers
4 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
Half a sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
½ teaspoon agave syrup
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Peel the cucumbers and cut them in half. Remove the seeds with a spoon and slice the cucumbers.

In a medium bowl combine yogurt, minced onion, garlic, dill, vinegar, agave, salt and black pepper.

Add cucumber and feta cheese to the yogurt mixture and toss until combined well.

Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Refrigerate several hours before serving.

Roasted Beets and Carrots

4 servings

Ingredients

3 large beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 sprig fresh rosemary
kosher salt and black pepper
Balsamic Glaze with Figs

Directions

Heat the oven to 375° F. Toss the beets, carrots, oil, honey, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in a one quart baking dish. Cover the dish with foil.

Roast for about 45 minutes or until tender. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze before serving.


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