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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

What Can I Cook For Dinner Next Week?

Planning your menu before you go shopping is a practical skill that will save you time and money. At this time of year, you want easy to prepare meals that utilize what is in season and you want to cook healthy meals most of the time. This does take a little planning but well worth the time. Here are a few ideas to help you plan next week’s menu.

Fish Parmigiano

Serve this fish entrée with basil pesto pasta and yellow summer squash.

Ingredients

4 white fish fillets (about 6 oz each), such as flounder, tilapia, halibut, etc.
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 to 1 ½ cups Italian seasoned panko crumbs
Olive oil plus olive oil cooking spray
1 cup Marinara sauce, heated
4 slices mozzarella cheese

Directions

Cover a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil and coat with olive oil cooking spray.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush each fish fillet on all sides with the mayonnaise.

Place the coated fish in the panko crumbs and press the crumbs into the fish on all sides.

Place the fillets on the prepared baking pan and drizzle the top of each fillet with a little olive oil.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and place hot marinara sauce on each fillet (about ¼ cup on each) and top with a slice of cheese.

Return the pan to the oven and cook about 5 minutes more or until the cheese is melted.

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta

Serve this pasta entrée with a tomato salad.

Topping

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Cauliflower

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, chopped fine
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 minced garlic cloves
12 ounces short pasta
1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

For the topping:

Combine the breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat.

Cook, stirring, until the mixture is well toasted and golden-brown.

Stir in the thyme; remove from heat, and reserve.

For the cauliflower:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium baking dish, combine the shallots, cauliflower, garlic, salt and red pepper.

Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the cauliflower is tender and browned.

Remove the dish from the oven and stir in the cream and Parmesan cheese. Set aside while the pasta cooks.

For the pasta:

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and return the pasta to the pan.

Turn the heat to very low and add the cauliflower sauce. Heat for a minute or two and pour into a pasta serving.

Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping over the top of the pasta and serve.

Pork Chops Pizzaiola

Pizzaiola is a term used for a Neapolitan style pizza tomato sauce. I like to use it over pork cutlets or beef steak. Mashed potatoes and a green vegetable are good sides for this entrée.

Ingredients

For the pork

4 boneless pork chops, about 4 oz each
1 egg, beaten
1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

For the sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bell pepper, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ½ cups crushed Italian tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 basil sprig

Directions

For the pork:

Trim the pork chops of all fat. Pound them between sheets of plastic wrap until about a ¼ inch thick.

Beat the egg with a little water. Season the pork with salt and pepper.

Dredge the pork cutlets in the Italian breadcrumbs. Place on a plate and refrigerate until ready to cook.

It is important to refrigerate the breaded pork for a few hours, so that the breading stays put when the pork is cooked.

For the sauce:

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and add the onion, bell pepper and garlic.

Cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and let the sauce simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.

To cook the pork:

Cover the bottom of a large skillet with a thin coating of olive oil. Heat.

Add the pork cutlets and cook until brown on one side, turn and cook the second side until brown.

Drain the chops on paper towels. Place on serving plates and top with the Pizzaiola sauce.

Dinner Frittata

I usually make extra grilled vegetables, so I can use them in a frittata or quiche.

Serve this entrée with an Italian Mixed Greens Salad.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 cups leftover grilled potatoes, peppers and onions
See recipe link 
1 cup cooked spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
6 large eggs beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
3 slices of your favorite cheese

Directions

Preheat the broiler

Heat the oil and butter together in an ovenproof nonstick skillet.

Add the potato and pepper mixture and cook until hot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Scatter the crumbled bacon over the mixture.

Pour the beaten eggs over all and cook until the eggs are set on the bottom.

Distribute the cooked spinach over the top of the frittata.

Break the cheese slices into quarters and place them evenly over the spinach.

Place the skillet under the broiler and cook the frittata until the cheese melts.

Remove and let rest for 3 or 4 minutes. Cut into serving pieces.

Chicken Piccata

Serve this quick cooking chicken entrée with noodles dressed with butter, Parmesan cheese and parsley and a green vegetable.

Serves 2

Ingredients

Two 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded until thin and even
Coarse salt
Ground white pepper
1/4 cup finely ground all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
2 tablespoons small capers, drained
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and white pepper. Lightly coat in flour. Shake off excess.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the olive oil and butter, swirl them around the pan, and add the chicken.

Turn the heat to high and saute the chicken 2 minutes per side.

Pour in the wine, swirl it around the pan for 20 seconds, and turn the chicken over.

Add the lemon juice and capers, swirl them around in the pan and turn off the heat. Serve immediately.

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What I Am Cooking With My CSA Produce

My 2017 Jeta Farms Community Supported Agriculture shares started at the end of May with lots of fresh, just picked produce. So far this season, there has been a regular supply of Silver King Corn, sweet onions, cucumbers, green beans, squash of all types, tomatoes, eggplant, red potatoes, blueberries, blackberries and peppers. Looking forward to the rest of the season.

Grilled Patty Pan Squash

Ingredients

2 large patty pan squashes
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill and brush the grates with oil.

Cut each squash in half. Brush all sides of the squash with the pesto and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper,

Place on the grill and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the squashes over and cook another 5 minutes.

They should be tender but cook a minute or two longer, it they are not.

Place the grilled squash on a severing dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Summer Potato Salad

Ingredients

1 ½ lbs medium red potatoes
2 tablespoons pickle juice
1/2 cup finely diced sweet onion
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced bread and butter pickle slices
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water just until tender, about 10-12 minutes.

Drain and let the potatoes cool until they can be handled without burning your hands.

Peel the potatoes and slice thinly into a storage bowl. Add the pickle juice, stir and set aside for 30 minutes.

Add the onion, celery and pickles. Stir well and add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix together the mayonnaise and mustard and stir into the potato mixture. Garnish with parsley.

Chill the salad before serving.

Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

2 quart jars with lids ( I use recycled pickle jars)

Ingredients

1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
5–6 pickling (Kirby) cucumbers

Directions

Place the pickling spice in the boiling water. Take the pan off the heat.

After the pickling spices have steeped for 10 minutes in the boiling water, add the vinegar, sugar and salt and stir well.

Let the mixture cool to lukewarm.

Then, strain the mixture into a large measuring cup and discard the solids.

Trim the ends of the cucumbers, discard and slice the cucumbers into ¼ inch slices.

Firmly pack layers of onions and cucumbers into two clean quart jars.

Once the jars are full, pour the strained vinegar mixture into the filled jars all the way to the very top.

Put the lids on and close tightly. Turn the jars over onto a kitchen towel and let them sit for a half an hour.

Return the jars to an upright position and put them in the refrigerator.

After about 24 hours the cucumbers will begin to change color a bit – that is when they are ready to eat and they should last about a month in the refrigerator.

Oven Baked ”Fried” Green Tomatoes

Ingredients

2 to 3 medium-sized green tomatoes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Cajun spice
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, beaten

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a cookie sheet.

Place the flour mixed with Cajun seasoning in one shallow dish.

Add the egg to a second dish. Add a tablespoon of water and mix well.

Place the panko crumbs, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a third shallow dish.

Cut the tomatoes into ½ inch thick slices and pat dry with paper towels.

Sprinkle the tomato slices evenly with salt and pepper.

Dredge the tomato slices in the flour, then the egg and then in the panko mixture to coat evenly.

Place the breaded tomatoes on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, turning the tomatoes over with a with spatula after 10 minutes.

Serve with your favorite sauce.

Italian Frying Peppers

 

Ingredients

6-8 Italian frying peppers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove smashed and cut in half
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning.
Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Heat oil and garlic in a small saute pan. Lower the heat and add the whole peppers.

Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Saute slowly until lightly brown on all sides.

Serve at room temperature. These peppers are delicious as an appetizer, on a sandwich or as a side dish.

Blueberry Muffins

I almost always make these blueberry muffins with the farm’s sweet berries.

Makes 12 – 15 muffins depending on the size of your muffin pan.

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups (9 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) fresh blueberries

Topping

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F and lightly grease a 12-15 cup muffin pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a hand-held or stand mixer, until light and fluffy and almost white in color.

Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix until incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed just until the batter is smooth. Fold in the berries by hand.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, using 1/4-cup for each muffin.

To make the topping:

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over the muffins.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove them from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Dinner in a Package

It has been very hot where I live for more than two months and the hot days will continue until the end of October. So during the hot season, I like to use the grill often – can’t you tell from several of my recent posts. The grill is amazing and you can cook so many things on it. Once the food is cooked, the chef can go back into a cool house and the clean up detail – well they practically have the night off.

Grilled Corn

For each ear of corn:

One sheet of foil a little longer than the corn

1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves or use basil butter

Salt and pepper

Directions

Remove the corn husk and wash the corn well.

While still dripping with water place the corn on the sheet of foil.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dot with the butter.

Sprinkle the basil leaves over the corn. Seal the foil package.

Place the package on a hot grill and cook for 12 minutes. Turn halfway through cooking.

Remove and carefully open the package to serve.

Fish and Veggie Grilled Packets

Until I started cooking fish on the grill with this method, I never realized how delicious and moist the fish would taste.

4 servings

Ingredients

16 oz Mahi Mahi fish fillets, about 1/2 inch thick and cut into 4 equal pieces
8 extra-large shrimp, cleaned and peeled
4 large sea scallops
4 fresh thyme sprigs
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 small red onion, cut into eighths
2 bell peppers, each cut into 12 thin slices
12 grape tomatoes, cut in half
Paprika, salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Extra-virgin olive oil
Lemon Sauce, recipe below

Directions

Preheat grill to medium.

To make the packets: lay two 18-inch sheets of heavy-duty foil on top of each other (the double layers will help protect the contents from burning); generously coat the top piece with olive oil cooking spray. Repeat with six more pieces of foil.

Divide the onions and bell pepper equally on bottom of the 4 pieces of heavy-duty foil.

Place a piece of fish on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, Add 2 shrimp and 1 scallop to each packet.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add tomatoes, garlic and chives to each packet.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Bring the short ends of the foil together, leaving enough room in the packet for steam to gather and cook the food.

Fold the foil over and pinch to seal. Pinch seams together along the sides. Make sure all the seams are tightly sealed to keep steam from escaping.

Grill the packets until the fish is cooked through and the vegetables are just tender, about 15 minutes.

To serve, carefully open both ends of the packets and allow the steam to escape. Use a spatula to slide the contents onto plates. Serve with the lemon sauce.

Lemon Sauce

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Dash or two of hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat on the grill or on the stove. Serve with the fish packet.

Grilled Peach Packets

For every 2 servings

Ingredients

2 large or 3 medium peaches, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup crushed Amaretto cookies
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
Two 12-inch squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil
Frozen yogurt, for serving

Directions

Place the foil pieces on top of each other.

In a bowl, toss together the peaches, honey, cinnamon and crushed cookies.

Place the butter in the center of the foil and top with the fruit.

Bring 2 sides of the foil up over the fruit and fold to form a seam across the top.

Grill the package over moderate heat until the fruit is sizzling, about 10 minutes. Open the package carefully.

Divide the fruit and juices between two dessert dishes. Top with a scoop of frozen yogurt.

Weeknight Dinner

Grilled Italian Sausage

Grill the sausage over indirect heat and the potato packets over direct heat. This meal saves lots of cleaning up in the kitchen.

Ingredients

1 ½ lbs Italian Sausage
Olive oil

Directions

Heat the grill for both direct and indirect cooking. Brush the sausage lightly with olive oil.

Place the sausage on the indirect side of the grill and close the cover.

Cook for 15 minutes and turn the sausage over. Cook for 15 more minutes. Slice and serve with the potato mixture.

Leftover sausage can be used in several ways. Add it to a pasta dish or omelet. It can be chopped and used in a stuffing for summer squash. And, it makes a great sandwich with some sautéed peppers and onions.

Potatoes, Bell Peppers and Onions

5-6 servings

Ingredients

4 medium red potatoes, cut into wedges, boiled until partially cooked
1 medium green pepper, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients.

Place the mixture on a piece of heavy-duty foil (about 18 inches square).

Fold the foil around the potato mixture and crimp the edges to seal.

Grill directly over high heat, rotating the packet several times, until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.

Baby Spinach Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette

Serves: 6

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Salad

1 pound baby spinach, washed and stems removed
3 hard-boiled eggs
3 baby beets. cooked
1/2 toasted chopped pecans
Half a red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Directions

Make the vinaigrette:

Heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Cook the shallot until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the vinegar and maple syrup. Cook until the mixture is slightly reduced. Season with salt and pepper.

Cool to room temperature.

In a salad bowl, place the baby spinach on the bottom. top with red onion, sliced egg and sliced beets.

Sprinkle pecans and blue cheese on top. Drizzle the vinaigrette over all and toss just before serving.

 

 

Chili Stuffed Peppers

Green Bell Peppers are in season and there are a lot to be found at the farmers’ markets and supermarkets. Take advantage of their low price and pick some up on your next shopping trip. What can you make with them? Certainly sauteing them in olive oil with onions makes for a great topping for any kind of grilled meat or fish. Stuffing them makes for a fine main dish. Here is a different way to stuff them.

Small Batch Pork and Bean Chili

You certainly can double all the ingredients for the chili to make a full batch. I like to keep this small batch on hand to use with hot dogs or nachos and for stuffing vegetables. This recipe makes use of leftover pork or beef.

For the beans:

If you don’t have time to cook beans, skip that step and use 1 1/2 cups drained and rinsed canned beans instead.

1 cup dried pinto or kidney beans
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt

For the chili:

Variation: add 1 cup of fresh corn kernels to the chili, when adding the tomatoes.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
11/2 teaspoons dried oregano
11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
8 oz leftover pork or beef, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 cups)

Prepare the beans:

In a medium bowl, soak the beans in enough water to cover by at least 2 inches and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the beans and put them in a medium saucepan. Cover with fresh cold water by about 1 inch. Add the onion, garlic, and oregano. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.

Add ½ teaspoon salt and continue to simmer until tender, about 30 minutes more. Drain and reserve 1 ½ cups for the chili and reserve the rest for another dish.

Make the chili:

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and pale gold, about 15 minutes.

Add the garlic, chili powder, oregano, cumin, cayenne, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste.

Add the pork, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, covered, until the meat is so tender that it falls apart, about 30 minutes. Stir the beans into the chili and simmer for about 15 minutes before using.

Chili Stuffed Peppers

For every 2 servings you will need:

2 green bell peppers
Pork and Bean Chili, about a ½ cup for each pepper
Grated cheddar cheese

Directions

Slice off the stem end of the peppers and remove and discard seeds and membranes.

Place the peppers in a glass dish, cut side down, add a few tablespoons of water, cover with plastic wrap and microwave the peppers on high for two minutes. Drain the peppers on a paper towel.

Stand peppers upright in the glass baking dish.

Spoon in the chili until it reaches the top of the pepper, cover the top with shredded cheese. Repeat until all of the peppers you are cooking are filled.

Cover the dish and bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Remove the cover and place some shredded cheese on top of each pepper.

Return the dish to the oven and heat until the cheese melts.

Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Dinner For Two From the Grill

Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Basil Butter

2 servings

Ingredients

Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground cracked black pepper
2 boneless rib eye steaks, each about 8 ounces and 3/4 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons basil butter, recipe below

Directions

Lightly brush the steaks on both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat (450° to 550°F). Oil the grill grates.

Grill the steaks over direct high heat, with the lid closed, until cooked to medium rare, about 6-8 minutes or until cooked to your likeness. Turn the steaks over, once, half way through the cooking process.

Remove the steaks from the grill and place 1 tablespoon of the basil butter on top of each steak.

Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Lemon Basil Garlic Butter

Makes 8 tablespoons

Ingredients

1/2 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Directions

Mix together all the ingredients until blended well. Form into a log.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a week. I keep the log in the freezer and it is easy to slice of a tablespoon or two when you need it.

Foil Wrapped Potatoes and Onions

2 servings

Ingredients

2 large red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed
Two ¼ inch thick slices of sweet onion, peeled
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Smoked Paprika
Aluminum foil

Directions

Tear off 4 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil about 12 inches long. Place one sheet of foil on top of another sheet of foil. Repeat with the other two pieces of foil.

Slice potatoes into rounds about ¼ inch thick. Place 1 sliced potato in the middle of each foil square and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil.

Sprinkle with salt and red pepper and top each with a slice of onion. Sprinkle generously with smoked paprika.

Fold the foil edges in and secure tightly. It’s important to get a good seal because the moisture will cook the potatoes and onions.

Turn the heat on one side of the grill to low. Place each potato packet on this side of the grill. Close the lid and cook for for 15 minutes.

Turn the packet over and allow to cook for another 15 minutes.

Place the steaks on the grill over the high heat side and follow directions above.

Remove the packets from the heat and carefully open each packet to serve.

Grilled Tomatoes With Mozzarella

2 servings

Ingredients

2 ripe plum tomatoes
2 teaspoons Italian salad dressing, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, divided
2 slices mozzarella cheese, cut in half

Directions

Wash the tomatoes and cut off the stem end.

Slice each tomato in half. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil.

Drizzle each half with Italian salad dressing.

Sprinkle each with salt, pepper and dried Italian seasoning

Place the foil with the tomatoes on it on the grill, close the grill top.

Grill for approximately 3 minutes. Open the grill and place a mozzarella cheese slice on each tomato half.

Close the grill and cook for two minutes more or until the cheese melts. Serve.

 

Cooking The Mediterranean Countries-France

The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients.

Provence is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the lower Rhône River on the west to the Italian border in the east, and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the south.The area also includes the Côte d’Azur, often known in English as the French Riviera.

The food of Provence resembles more closely the cuisine of Italy, Greece and Spain than typical Parisian fare. Emphasis is on locally grown vegetables, seafood, fresh herbs and olive oil, Provence is the birthplace of three well-known dishes: salade Nicoise, bouillabaisse and ratatouille.

There are many common traits between the French diet and the other Mediterranean countries, not only with regards to food choices, but also in the organization and structure of meals during the day. For example, there is no snacking in France, they eat three meals a-day, each with three courses, they eat together, portion control is common and they avoid “junk food”.

While the French embrace a wide range of foods, they keep things simple and like to use cheese, eggs, potatoes, butter, yogurt, as well as pasta and bread in their meal preparation. France is renowned for some of the world’s best wines and cheeses, and wine and food pairing is taken seriously in France even at informal dinner parties.

Beyond French wine and cheese is a mixture of traditional French dishes, many which come with long histories, regional variations and modern adaptations. The French cuisine is to a great degree a culinary art. Traditional French cuisine relies on basic combinations and together with butter are the basic ingredients for the creation of their well-known sauces, appetizers and entrees. Full fat dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables, in combination with small quantities of meat or poultry are the main ingredients in French recipes. Garlic, tomatoes, olive oil and Mediterranean herbs are used to enhance those ingredients. Such recipes often include:

Appetizer Course: Provençal tomatoes, Scallops Provencal, Tapenade
Soup Course: Bouillabaisse, French Onion Soup, Saffron Mussel Bisque
Main Course: Coq au Vin, Lobster Thermidor, Ratatouille, Poulet de Provençal
Dessert Course: Orange Creme Brulee, Plum Clafouti, Poached Pears

Traditional French Recipes

Madame Saucourt’s Ratatouille

Hotel Mas des Serres in Saint Paul de Vence.

Source: Mediterranean Grains and Greens by Paula Wolfert

Ratatouille, from the southeastern French region of Provence, is a stewed vegetable recipe that can be served as a side dish, meal or stuffing for other dishes, such as crepes and omelettes. The vegetables are generally first cooked in a shallow pan on high heat and then oven-baked in a dish. French chefs debate the correct way to cook ratatouille: some do not agree with sauteing all vegetables together, such as Julia Child, and argue the vegetables should be cooked separately and layered into the baking dish. The ingredients usually consist of tomatoes, garlic, onions, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, bell peppers, basil, marjoram, thyme and herbs.

Ingredients

5 pounds eggplant
5 pounds zucchini
5 pounds sweet onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
1 quart extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed herbs: rosemary, savory, peppermint, thyme, and celery
1 bay leaf
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups dry yet fruity white wine
2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, cored and seeded
5 pounds red bell peppers
A few drops of red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs for garnish: basil, parsley, thyme

Directions

Stem and peel the eggplant. Cut the flesh into 1″ cubes and place them in a deep kettle filled with very salty water. Keep submerged with a non-corrodible plate for at least 1 hour

Stem and peel the zucchini. Cut the flesh into 1″ cubes and place in a deep colander. Toss the zucchini with salt and let stand 1/2 hour.

In a very large heavy skillet or heavy-bottomed roasting pan cook the chopped onions in 1/2 cup water and 1 cup olive oil until the onions are soft and golden, about 30 minutes. Add the garlic, chopped herbs, bay leaf, sugar, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the wine. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes.

Coarsely chop the tomatoes with their skins in the work bowl of a food processor. Add to the skillet and continue cooking at a simmer for 11/2 hours. Whenever the onion-tomato mixture starts to stick or burn, “deglaze” with a few tablespoons of water and scrape with a wooden spoon.

Grill the peppers; when cool, peel, stem, seed and cut into small pieces. Set aside.

Rinse and drain the eggplant and zucchini and lightly press dry with toweling.

Slowly heat the remaining 3 cups of olive oil in a wide pan or fryer until medium-hot. Add the zucchini in batches, and fry until golden on all sides. Transfer the zucchini with a slotted spoon to a colander set over a bowl to catch any excess oil. When all the zucchini has been fried, fry the eggplant in the same manner. From time to time return the drained oil in the bowl to the pan.

Spread the zucchini, eggplant, and peppers over the simmering onion-tomato mixture and pour in the remaining wine. Cover and cook at a simmer for 11/2 hours. From time to time remove the cover to help evaporate some of the liquid.

Place a colander over a large bowl and pour the contents of the skillet into it to drain. Stir carefully to avoid crushing the vegetables while trying to encourage any trapped oil and juices to drain. Quickly cool down the captured juices in order to remove as much oil as possible. If there is a lot of juice, boil it down until thick. Reserve all the frying oil and oil from the vegetables for another use. Pour the juices over the vegetables, taste for seasoning, add vinegar, and carefully stir to combine. Serve hot or cold. Sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Coquilles St-Jacques

“Although coquilles St-Jacques simply means “scallops” in French, in the idiom of American cooks, the term is synonymous with the old French dish of scallops poached in white wine, placed atop a purée of mushrooms in a scallop shell, covered with a sauce made of the scallop poaching liquid, and gratinéed under a broiler. This rich, classic recipe was a signature dish of most of the small French restaurants in New York when I came here in the late 1950s. While working at Le Pavillon back then, I must have made it thousands of times. These days, most chefs, myself included, have moved away somewhat from that dish, favoring lighter preparations. But I’ll tell you one thing: last time I made coquilles St-Jacques, it was for students at Boston University. I prepared two dishes for them: scallops cooked in a modern way, served with a green herb salad, and also the classic, gratinéed version. Now, these were not chefs-in-training; they didn’t know what they were supposed to like. And there wasn’t one student who didn’t choose the old way over the new. It just goes to show: Truly good food never really goes out of style.” —Jacques Pepin, chef, cookbook author, and PBS-TV cooking series host

Serves 6

Ingredients

8 oz. button mushrooms, minced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 small shallots, minced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoons minced tarragon, plus 6 whole leaves, to garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup dry vermouth
1 bay leaf
6 large sea scallops
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup grated Gruyère
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

Heat mushrooms, 4 tablespoons butter, and 2⁄3 of the shallots in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat; cook until the mixture forms a loose paste, about 25 minutes. Stir the parsley and minced tarragon into the mushroom mixture; season with salt and pepper.

Divide mixture among 6 cleaned scallop shells or shallow gratin dishes. Bring remaining shallots, vermouth, bay leaf, salt, and 3⁄4 cup water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add scallops; cook until barely tender, about 2 minutes.

Remove scallops; place each over mushrooms in shells. Continue boiling cooking liquid until reduced to 1⁄2 cup, about 10 minutes; strain.

Heat broiler to high. Heat remaining butter in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add reduced cooking liquid and cream; cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add cheese, juice, salt, and pepper; divide the sauce over scallops.

Broil until browned on top, about 3 minutes; garnish each with a tarragon leaf.

French Cassoulet

This hearty dish from southwestern France, known as a cassoulet, is a one-pot meal. A slow-simmered mix of beans, pork sausages, pork shoulder, pancetta and duck topped with a bread crumb crust , takes its name from the earthenware casserole in which it was traditionally made.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 lb. dried great northern beans
10 tablespoons duck fat or olive oil
16 cloves garlic, smashed
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 large ham hocks
1 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1″cubes
1⁄2 lb. pancetta, cubed
4 sprigs oregano
4 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
1 cup whole peeled canned tomatoes
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
4 duck legs
1 lb. pork sausages
2 cups bread crumbs

Directions

Soak the beans in a 4-qt. bowl in 7 1⁄2 cups water overnight.

Heat 2 tablespoons of duck fat in a 6-qt. pot over medium-high heat. Add half the garlic, onions, and carrots and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add ham hocks along with beans and their water and boil. Reduce heat and simmer beans until tender, about 1 1⁄2 hours.

Transfer ham hocks to a plate; let cool. Pull off meat; discard skin, bone, and gristle. Chop meat; add to beans. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons duck fat in a 5-qt. dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork and brown for 8 minutes. Add pancetta; cook for 5 minutes. Add remaining garlic, onions, and carrots; cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Tie together oregano, thyme, and bay leaves with twine; add to pan with tomatoes; cook until liquid thickens, 8–10 minutes. Add wine; reduce by half. Add broth; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, uncovered, until liquid has thickened, about 1 hour. Discard herbs; set dutch oven aside.

Sear the duck legs in 2 tablespoons duck fat in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat for 8 minutes; transfer to a plate. Brown the sausages in the fat, about 8 minutes. Cut sausages into 1⁄2″ slices. Pull duck meat off bones. Discard fat and bones. Stir duck and sausages into pork stew.

Heat the oven to 300˚F. Mix beans and pork stew in a 4-qt. earthenware casserole. Cover with bread crumbs; drizzle with remaining duck fat.

Bake, uncovered, for 3 hours. Raise oven temperature to 500˚; cook the cassoulet until the crust is golden, about 5 minutes.

Crêpes Suzette

Credit for inventing Crêpes Suzette is claimed by French restaurateur Henri Charpentier, who in 1894, at age 14, while an assistant waiter, accidentally set the sauce aflame when serving this dessert to the Prince of Wales. Once the fire subsided, the sauce was so delicious that the prince asked that the dish be named for a young girl in his entourage, Suzette.

Serves 6

For the Crêpes

6 tablespoons flour
6 eggs
6 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Unsalted butter, as needed

For the Sauce

3 oranges
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
10 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons Cointreau
1 tablespoons Kirsch
1 teaspoon orange flower water
5 tablespoons cognac

Directions

Make the crêpe batter:

Whisk together flour and eggs in a medium bowl. Add milk and cream, and whisk until smooth. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Prepare the sauce:

Use a vegetable peeler to remove rind from 2 of the oranges, avoiding pith; mince rind and set aside. Juice all the oranges and set juice aside. In a medium bowl, beat butter and 1⁄2 cup sugar on high-speed of a hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add rind to butter and beat for 1 minute. Gradually drizzle in juice, 2 tbsp. of the Cointreau, Kirsch and orange flower water, beating constantly until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes more.

Make the crêpes:

Heat a seasoned crêpe pan or small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Grease pan with a little butter, then pour in 1⁄4 cup batter. Working quickly, swirl batter to just coat pan, and cook until edges brown, about 1 minute. Turn with a spatula and brown other side for about 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining batter, greasing pan only as needed.

To serve:

Melt orange butter sauce in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until bubbling. Dip both sides of one crêpe in sauce, then, with best side facing down, fold in half, then in half again. Repeat process with remaining crêpes, arranging and overlapping them around the perimeter of the pan. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Remove pan from heat, pour remaining Cointreau and the cognac over crêpes, and carefully ignite with a match. Spoon sauce over crêpes until flame dies out, and then serve immediately.


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