Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Cold Weather Comfort

Easy Sausage and Pepper Stew

Ingredients

Olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
4 links spicy Italian pork sausage, or any style sausage, cut into one-inch pies
1 medium onion, diced
2 large bell peppers, cut into one-inch pieces
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into one-inch pieces
1/2 lb fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons tomato paste
28 oz container of finely chopped Italian tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Pour enough olive oil into the bottom of a Dutch Oven and heat over medium-low. Add the sausage and cook until brown on all sides, stirring the sausage pieces often. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, and tomato paste and stir until completely combines. Add the remaining ingredients, stir well, and bring the mixture to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer the stew for about an hour or until all the vegetables are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into individual bowls and serve with a slice of Italian beard.

America’s Culinary Food Stories-Rainbow Cookies

America is a melting pot that was formed by the hard-working people who migrated here from lands as far east as China and Japan, as far north as Russia and Europe. They utilized American supplies and prepared them in ways that they had prepared them in their homeland. True American food is a collection of these culinary traditions passed down from generation to generation”.Each culture brought their cooking methods, food, and spices to America. They farmed the soil, hunted game, and incorporated their ways into the food of America.

Although often called simply rainbow cookies in much of the continental United States, some local names for this special cookie are:

Neopolitan cookies
Seven-layer cookies
Tricolor cookies
Venetian cookies

In southern Italy almond paste cookies are abundant, but rainbow cookies weren’t found in this region or anywhere else in Italy. Although it is reported that recently some bakeries in Italy feature the cookie during the Christmas holidays. Rainbow cookies are an Italian American invention and most likely created to honor the color of the Italian flag. While it can be pretty difficult to pinpoint the exact history or creator, Rainbow cookies were made popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s by Italian-American bakeries, particularly those found in New York City, such as De Lillo’s and Ferrara’s.

Here is a modern twist video on this  old-time treat from CBS News:

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/rainbow-cookies-get-a-colorful-twist/

Rainbow cookies are also a common dessert for Jewish Americans. As Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe settled in New York at the turn of the 20th century, they often settled in areas that also had an Italian population. It was at this point that Jewish Americans were introduced to the rainbow cookie. The original rainbow cookie was made with butter and featured the Italian flag-like design in white, red and green. Jewish Americans adapted this cookie to suit their own Kosher dietary needs, substituting margarine for the butter. Jewish Americans were the first to change the original Italian flag design from a white layer to a yellow layer and the cookies are quite popular at Jewish delicatessens.

Italian American Rainbow Cookies

Ingredient

1- 8 ounce can almond paste
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup of sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 drops green food coloring
8 drops red food coloring
12-ounce jar apricot preserves
8 ounces semisweet chocolate

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dishes; line with waxed paper; spray the paper with cooking spray.
Break up the almond paste in an electric mixer bowl with a fork. Add butter, sugar, egg yolks and extract and beat with the mixer until fluffy, 5 minutes. Beat in the flour and salt.

Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir into the almond mixture with a wooden spoon, using a turning motion similar to folding.
Remove 1-1/2 cups batter; spread evenly into one of the prepared pans. Remove another 1-1/2 cups batter to small bowl; tint green with coloring. Spread into the second pan. Tint remaining 1-1/2 cups batter red. Spread in the remaining pan.
Bake 15 minutes or until edges are lightly golden; cake layers will each be 1/4 inch thick. Immediately remove cakes from the pans onto large wire racks. Carefully peel off waxed paper. Cool.

Place red layer on upturned jelly roll pan or large platter lined with foil. Heat preserves; strain. Spread half of the strained preserves over the red layer. Top with a white layer. Spread with remaining preserves. Cover with a green layer, top side up.
Cover with plastic wrap. Weigh down with a large wooden cutting board, heavy flat tray, or large book. Refrigerate overnight.
Melt chocolate on top of a double boiler over hot water.

Trim off the uneven cake edges with a sharp knife. Frost the top layer with half of the melted chocolate. Let chocolate dry. Turn the rectangle over and frost with the remaining chocolate. Let the chocolate dry. Cut the cake crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip into 1-inch pieces. Makes about 6 dozen. Store in a container in the refrigerator. Cookies freeze well.

Holiday Dinner

Rack of Lamb with Pomegranate Sauce

Servings 4

Ingredients

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
½ cup Panko crumbs
1 rack of lamb, “frenched”, about 8 ribs

Directions

Brush the meat area with mustard. Sprinkle it with rosemary and garlic. Press on the panko crumbs.
Place the lamb in a roasting pan with the ribs curving down. Set aside for 1 hour at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 450 F degrees.
Roast the lamb for exactly 20 minutes for rare or 25 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes, then cut into individual ribs and serve with the Pomegranate Sauce.

Pomegranate Sauce

Ingredients

2 cups of water
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 garlic clove minced
¼ cup molasses
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into four pieces
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Set aside 2 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds. Place the remaining seeds, honey, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the temperature to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Strain the liquid over a bowl and in a colander and press the seeds until most of the flesh is extracted. Discard the seeds. Set the mixture aside.
Heat the oil in the sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until tender, about one minute.
Whisk in the broth and molasses. Add seeds.
Increase the heat to high. Boil the sauce until it reduces by half and is syrupy about eight minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk the butter into the sauce, one piece at a time, until well blended. Season the sauce to taste with salt and twists of the pepper mill.

Parmesan Rice Cakes

You can cook these patties in the oven with the lamb. Leave them in the oven to finish cooking after you remove the lamb.

Makes 6-8 patties

Ingredients

3 cups cooked rice
3/4 cup bread crumbs
3 eggs
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup onion finely minced
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper or to taste
Vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 F degrees.
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Oil a baking sheet.
Using a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measure, form the mixture into patties and place on the prepared pan.
Bake until brown and crisp about 40 minutes.

Cucumber And Tomato Salad

Ingredients

1 large cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced into 1/4″-thick half-moons
1 large tomato, diced and drained
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons red onion, minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Directions

Place cucumber slices in a colander; sprinkle with salt, tossing to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine yogurt, sour cream, onion, vinegar, sugar, and dill in a mixing bowl. Add cucumber slices and drained tomatoes; toss to coat. Let salad stand for at least 5 minutes before serving, or chill in the refrigerator for several hours.

 

Mediterrean Tuna Fillets

Ingredients

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
6 whole fresh San Marzano tomatoes
8 basil leaves fresh, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
Flour
2 tuna fillets, 5-6 oz each
Kosher or Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
12 kalamata olives pitted, left whole
1 tablespoon capers rinsed

3 oz cooked thin spaghetti

Directions

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil.
Add the onion and saute until it begins to soften about 3 minutes.
Add the minced garlic and saute until golden, about 2 minutes longer.
Stir in the tomatoes, basil, and 2 tablespoons of the parsley and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside.

Lightly season the tuna steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge each fillet in flour.
In another skillet, large enough to hold the fish in a single layer, warm the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.
Add the floured tuna to the skillet, raise the heat to medium-high, and cook, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides, about 2 – 3 minutes per side.
Pour the reserved sauce directly over the fish, reduce the heat to low, and add the olives and capers, and cook for another 5 minutes.
Divide the cooked pasta between two serving plates. Place tuna and sauce over the pasta and garnish with parsley.

Serve with Roasted Broccoli.

Big Batch Baking

Make this big batch of Jumbo Apple Muffins if you have a large family or to store in the freezer for a quick breakfast.

Jumbo Apple Muffins With Crumb Topping

Makes 20 Jumbo muffins

Muffin Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 lbs (4 cups ) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Topping Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granola
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

Mix the diced apples with the lemon juice and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray 20 jumbo muffin cups with non-stick spray and line the muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl, gently toss together the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, and buttermilk. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Avoid overmixing. Fold in the apples.

Use a ⅓ cup measure and fill each muffin cup with the apple mixture.

Combine the topping ingredients with your hands to form little clumps in a micing bowl.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the crumb topping on each muffin. Evenly distribute any remaining topping.

Bake at 425F degrees for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375F degrees and continue to bake for 25 minutes until tops are lightly golden and the centers appear set. Allow cooling for 10 minutes in the pan before moving to wire racks to cool.

Combine the glaze ingredients and then drizzle a little over each muffin.

Store muffins at room temperature in an airtight container or freeze well for up to 3 months.

 

 

Asian Scallops With Stir-Fry Noodles

2 servings

Ingredients

12 sea scallops (10 oz)washed, dried and side muscle removed
½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
2 teaspoons sesame oil
5 oz curly soba noodles
2 carrot sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 celery stalk sliced thinly on the diagonal
Half a medium onion finely diced
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon peanut oil

Sauce
1 clove garlic, grated
½ cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Directions

Cover the noodles with cold water and let sit until hydrated-30 to 45 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Cover mushrooms in hot wat and let sit for 30 minutes. Drain and slice thinly, discarding the stem.
Combine the sauce ingredients in a measuring cup and set aside.
Heat peanut oil in a medium deep skillet or wok. Add the carrot, celery, and onion. Stir-fry about 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the mushroom and sauce. Stir-fry until thickened. Add the drained noodles and mix until the noodles are completely coated in sauce. Keep warm.
Heat the sesame oil in a small skillet and add the chili flakes. Heat for a minute and add the scallops. Cook the scallops for about two minutes on each side,
Divide the noodles between two serving bowls, top each with half the scallops, and serve immediately.

Easy Pumpkin Pie For Thanksgiving

Pat-in-the-Pan Pie Crust

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons water

Crust Directions

Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a 9-inch pie plate. Whisk together the oil and water, then pour over the dry ingredients.

Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened. Pat the dough across the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides.

A flat-bottomed measuring cup can help make the bottom even. Press the dough up the sides of the pan with your fingers, and flute the top.

Chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Filling Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add all the pie filling ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.

Pour the filling into the chilled pie crust and bake for about 60 minutes.

The crust should be light golden brown and the filling should be set.

Remove the pie from the oven and let cool completely before loosely covering and transferring to the refrigerator to fully set overnight.

Jumbo Ginger Spice Cookies

Add these fall-flavored treats to your Thanksgiving table.

Makes 9 Jumbo Cookies – the recipe is easily doubled for larger families.

Ingredients

2 cups (212g) medium rye flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ginger
½ teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
3/4 cup (149g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (99g) vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/4 cup (85g) molasses

Topping
granulated sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Measure the rye flour by spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.

In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices. Blend on low until the ingredients are well mixed together.

Combine the egg, oil, and molasses in a measuring cup. While the mixer is running on low speed, pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture until completely combined.

Use a ¼ cup scoop to form the cookies and drop them onto the parchment paper at least two inches apart.

Bake the cookies for 20 minutes, switching the pans after 10 minutes.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and sprinkle the tops with about 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar while very hot. Let cool at room temperature for several hours.

Store cookies, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days or freeze for longer storage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Salmon

Roasted Pecan Salmon Fillets

Ingredients

12-14 oz salmon filet
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Dijon coarse mustard
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
Wedges of fresh lemon

Directions

Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Place the fillet skin-side down in a greased baking dish.

Combine the mustard and honey in a small dish and spread on top of the salmon.

Press the nuts on top of the mustard coating and sprinkle with parsley.

Bake at 400°F 15 minutes or until cooked through. Cut the fillet in half and serve with wedges of fresh lemon.

Italian Green Beans and Potatoes

Ingredients

10 oz Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into one-inch lengths
Salt and pepper
½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes

Directions

Parboil the green beans in boiling salted water until almost tender, 3-4 minutes, Drain.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the potatoes and garlic and cook covered until tender and the potatoes are turning golden brown around the edges about 5-6 minutes. Add seasonings, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in drained beans and saute gently for about 5 minutes over low heat. Serve with the salmon.

Italian Pot Roast

Serves 8

For the beef
3-4 pound chuck beef roast
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Flour for coating meat
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the sauce
1 large carrot, diced (about 1 cup)
1 large celery stalk, diced (about 1 cup)
1 bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
1 onion, diced (1 cup)
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup medium-bodied Italian red wine
2 cups low sodium beef broth
Two 28-ounce containers of chopped Italian tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 lb. pasta

Directions

Trim most of the outside fat from the meat. Pat dry with paper towels. Season generously with the salt and pepper and lightly rub with all-purpose flour.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the roast and brown on all sides, 10-12 minutes. Transfer the meat to a platter.

Reduce the heat to medium and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes. Add the tomato paste and seasoning and stir for about 1 minute.

Add the wine and stir to incorporate the vegetables. Add the beef stock, the tomatoes, the bay leaf, and the roast with any juices accumulated on the plate. Bring to a boil.

Cover the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer on very low, turning and basting the meat every half hour or so, until the meat is very tender about 4 hours. (You can also put the pot into a 300°F oven and turn the roast every hour.)

Boil the water for the pasta.

Remove the meat from the pot and place it on a cutting board, covered loosely with aluminum foil to rest for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust sauce seasoning, remove bay leaf, and keep the sauce hot.

Cook the pasta.

Cut the meat into thick slices and place them in a deep serving dish. Spoon some of the sauce over the meat and reserve the rest to add to the cooked pasta.

Toss the pasta with the remaining sauce and serve with the roast.


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