Whoever said fruit doesn’t count as dessert clearly needs to revisit this idea. Berry desserts can be just as satisfying as a piece of chocolate cake, if not better! Using fresh summer berries and healthful swaps, the dessert recipes below will satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising your waistline. None of the recipes below are over 160 calories, providing you stick to serving sizes.
Summer berries are bursting with flavor and are packed with antioxidants that have been linked to stalling the aging process, protecting the heart and circulatory system and preventing mental decline. Mix berries into your morning yogurt, bake some into a pie or tart, experiment with savory recipes or eat them as a snack. There are so many ways to enjoy berries.
Health Benefits of Berries
When you read about all the health benefits from berries, you will want to add them to your menu everyday.
Loaded with vitamin C, blackberries also contain ellagic acid—an important phytonutrient that protects skin cells from damaging UV rays. Ellagic acid also prevents the breakdown of collagen in the skin that occurs as we age and is linked to wrinkling.
Blueberries are phytonutrient powerhouses. They contain: anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin, catechins and salicylic acid. If the latter sounds familiar, you may recognize it as the drug we’ve come to know as Aspirin. That’s right—blueberries contain natural aspirin, but it comes in a delicious package by Mother Nature where there’s no worry about harmful side effects. What’s more, blueberries are proven to reduce proteins that are linked with some forms of brain disease, making them weapons in the prevention of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, as well as other neurological disorders.
Raspberries, like other berries, contain an important compound that is more effective at alleviating inflammation than aspirin. Containing the phytonutrient ellagic acid, raspberries can help protect against pollutants found in cigarette smoke and may neutralize some cancer-causing substances before they can damage healthy cells. They’re delicious on their own, in a fruit salad, in a smoothie or on top of a salad.
Not only do eight strawberries contain more vitamin C than an orange, they are antioxidant powerhouses. Whether you want to evade heart disease, arthritis, memory loss, wrinkling or cancer, these berries have proven their ability to help. Plus, they’re just so easy to get into your diet on a regular basis.
A cross between blackberries and raspberries, Loganberries strengthen blood vessels, making them an excellent addition to help fight heart disease and developing varicose veins. They contain rutin, which research shows strengthens capillaries and improves circulation. They look like long raspberries.
Gooseberries—the berries that resemble green grapes—help you to feel happier. In recent research in the Journal of Experimental Neurobiology, scientists found that gooseberries contain a flavonoid called kaempferol that prevents the breakdown of the brain hormones, serotonin and dopamine. These brain chemicals naturally help us fight stress and keep our spirits up.
Caring For Berries
By nature, summer berries are small, soft and delicate, so cleaning and storing them is much more of a challenge than, say, a hearty melon or stone fruits.
Only rinse berries right before you use them. Water increases the likelihood they’ll start to mold.
Don’t soak: Place them in a colander and rinse water, grntly, over them instead of fully submerging them.
Give them a quick chill: You know how sun-ripened, warm berries have that delightful softness to them? Well, that is what makes them taste so good, but it’s also what makes them incredibly delicate and difficult to wash. So a good tip is to refrigerate them for an hour or so, when you bring them home from the market. They’re easier to rinse when they’ve had a chance to firm up just a bit.
After washing berries, let them rest in a colander in the refrigerator or another container that allows some air circulation. This will help them dry more quickly than if just placed in a bowl.
Avoid the crisper: Berries won’t last long, if kept in the crisper because the air has a higher humidity and doesn’t circulate as much as throughout the rest of the refrigerator.
This rich blackberry sauce can be a topper for almost anything — ice cream or frozen yogurt, waffles or pancakes or angel food cake are just some of the options.
This sauce is easily doubled or tripled for company.
- 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries or raspberries
- 4 tablespoons cranberry juice or apple juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
In a small saucepan, combine berries, juice, sugar and Worcestershire. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 8 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring often and mashing berries slightly with a fork. Serve warm or cool. Makes 8 -2-tablespoon servings.
Berry Pudding Cake
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Dash salt
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 cups assorted fresh berries (such as raspberries, blueberries and/or sliced strawberries)
Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Lightly coat six 6-ounce individual quiche dishes with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla and salt; whisk until light and frothy. Whisk in milk until combined. Add flour and baking powder; whisk until smooth.
Divide berries among prepared quiche dishes. Pour batter over berries. (Batter will not cover berries completely.)
Bake about 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm. If desired, sift a little powdered sugar over each serving.
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 cups fresh red raspberries
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup reduced fat tub-style vegetable oil spread, such as Smart Balance
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
- 3/4 cup frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed (optional)
- Fresh raspberries , optional
In a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cornstarch. Add the 2 cups raspberries; toss to coat. Using a potato masher or fork, lightly mash berries; set aside for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom or a 9-inch springform pan or line an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with foil and lightly grease the foil.
In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, vegetable oil spread, baking soda and cinnamon; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg white. Beat in all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour until combined. Stir in oats.
Set aside 1/2 cup of the oat mixture. Press the remaining oat mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or just until crust is starting to brown on the edges.
Spread raspberry mixture over partially baked crust. Crumble the reserved 1/2 cup oat mixture over the top of raspberry mixture.
Bake about 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
If using the tart pan, remove side of the pan. If using the springform pan, run a thin metal spatula around the edge of the pan; remove ring. Cut into wedges to serve.
If using 8x8x2-inch baking pan, use foil to lift uncut bars from the pan; cut into bars. If desired, top individual servings with whipped topping and garnish with additional fresh raspberries.
Glazed Strawberry Pie
- 1 recipe Oil Pastry for Single-Crust Pie, recipe below
- 6 cups strawberries
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Few drops vegetable red food coloring
- Fat-free frozen whipped dessert topping, thawed
Prepare Oil Pastry for Single-Crust Pie; prick bottom and sides of pastry generously with the tines of a fork.
Bake in a 450 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until pastry is golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Place 1 cup of the strawberries and the water in a food processor bowl. Cover; process until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan. Bring to boiling; simmer 2 minutes.
In a medium saucepan stir together sugar and cornstarch; stir in berry mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; stir in enough red food coloring to tint to a rich red color. Cool to room temperature.
Fold remaining strawberries into cooled mixture; pour into pastry shell, arranging berries so the point faces up. Cover; chill for 3 to 4 hours. Serve with whipped topping.
Oil Pastry for Single-Crust Pie
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup fat-free milk
- 3 tablespoons canola oil (or oil of choice)
In a bowl stir together flour and salt. Combine milk and oil in a large measuring cup. Add milk mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir with a fork until dough forms; form into a ball.
On a lightly floured surface slightly flatten dough. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Ease pastry into a 9-inch pie plate. Fold under extra pastry; crimp edge as desired.
Berry Ginger Shortcakes
- 3 cups fresh berries (sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and/or blackberries)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour or Eagle Brand Ultra Grain flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons healthy butter substitute, such as Smart Balance
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup refrigerated egg substitute or 1 egg
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 – 28 ounce container frozen fat-free whipped dessert topping, thawed
- 1/4 cup lowfat dairy sour cream
In a small bowl combine the berries and the crystallized ginger. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425 degree F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray; set aside.
To prepare shortcakes:
In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine buttermilk and egg substitute or egg. Add to the flour mixture all at once, stirring just until mixture is moistened.
On a lightly floured surface pat the dough to 1/2-inch thickness and pat the sides into an even 10 inch square. With a sharp knife cut the dough into 10 equal sized rectangles. (You can also cut them out with a biscuit cutter, reroll the dough and cut out more biscuits. I prefer my method because it is quicker and doesn’t waste anything.)
Place shortcakes on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Cool the shortcakes slightly on a wire rack.
In a small bowl combine the whipped topping and sour cream. Split shortcakes in half. Place bottoms on dessert plates. Divide the berry mixture among bottoms. Top each with some of the whipped topping mixture. Replace the shortcake tops.
Gluten Free Strawberry Cheese Tart
- 1 1/2 cups Gluten Free almond meal or flour (or grind an equal amount of almonds)
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons healthy butter substitute, such as Smart Balance, melted.
Combine almond flour, sugar and melted butter. Press into bottom and sides of a 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F and bake tart shell for 15 minutes or until evenly brown. Cool before filling.
- 1 package reduced fat cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
Beat all the ingredients together until smooth with a hand held electric beater. Set aside.
Wash and dry 4 cups of fresh strawberries. Cut in half. You may need a little more depending on their size.
1/4 cup clear jelly, such as apple, warmed in the microwave.
Spread filling in cooled tart shell.
Arrange berries on top of filling in a circular pattern, end to end (with the rounded side of each strawberry facing the pointed end). You will have three circles and then fill in the center. Or you can make an arrangement that you like. With a pastry brush, spread a little warm jelly over each strawberry.
Chill before serving.
Mocha Cake with Berries
Serving 1 slice cake, 2 tablespoons topping, and 2 tablespoons berries
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee powder or 2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
- 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 5 egg whites
- Unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
- 1/2 of an 8-ounce container frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed
- 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries, blackberries and/or blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, the water and espresso powder. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves and mixture almost boils. Stir in the chopped chocolate until melted. Remove from heat.
Place egg yolks in a small bowl. Gradually stir the chocolate mixture into egg yolks; stir in vanilla (mixture may appear slightly grainy). Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup cocoa powder, the flour and baking powder. Stir in chocolate-egg yolk mixture until smooth.
In a large bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Stir a small amount of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten. Fold chocolate mixture into remaining egg whites. Spread in the prepared pan.
Bake about 30 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen and remove side of the pan. Cool completely. (Cake may fall slightly but evenly during cooling.)
To serve, cut cake into wedges. If desired, sprinkle dessert plates with additional cocoa powder. Transfer wedges of cake to dessert plates. Top with whipped topping and berries.
- Some Berry Good News For You! (marsupialmind.blogspot.com)
- It’s a very berry week (dishingitoutwithclarissa.com)
- Amazing Benefits Of Blackberries (avaclife.com)
- Healthy Summer Desserts Worth Indulging In (couchpotatoweightloss.wordpress.com)
- English Summer Pudding (nguyenkathy510.wordpress.com)
Think beans are just for cold weather?
Think again. In a crispy cool bean salad, beans are lighter, yet still as filling. This side-dish favorite can be prepared in countless ways. So pick your bean base from one of the choices below and then try one the recipes in this post:
Kidney: For a meatier main dish, mix these rich beans with barley, fresh green peppers and a can of tuna and then top with an olive oil and lemon dressing.
Black: For a Tex-Mex style salad, simply mix beans with corn, tomatoes, green onions, fresh cilantro and top it all off with a sprinkling of lime juice and olive oil.
Green: Crisp and garden fresh, green beans will give your salad lots of crunch. Toss them with cherry tomatoes, soft feta cheese and grilled corn. Add a lemon-mint vinaigrette to really bring out the flavors.
Pinto: Make a spicy salad by mixing pinto beans with cherry tomatoes, pepperoncini peppers, onions, celery and fresh parsley. Toss in an herbed vinaigrette and add a splash of Tabasco for extra flavor.
Garbanzo: A highly versatile bean, garbanzos are great mixed in couscous with roasted bell peppers, red onions, cucumbers and feta cheese. Toss in a honey-Dijon dressing to finish.
Beans are eaten around the world with all kinds of flavorings and accompaniments. Black beans, for example, seem well-suited to Mexican style salads, while the flavors of the Mediterranean—green beans, anchovies, basil, thyme and fruity olive oil—enhance creamy white beans. Indian flavors—cumin, ginger, yogurt and cilantro—are great for chickpea salads as are Middle Eastern flavors—garlic, parsley, olive oil and feta.
You can easily make these salads by opening a can or two of beans and mixing them with seasonings and your favorite salad dressings. However, 1 cup dried beans gives you 2-1/2 to 3 cups cooked beans and, with the exception of chickpeas which actually take well to canning, most beans suffer, becoming quite mushy when canned. When you use canned beans, you also miss a chance to add extra flavor to your salads. Including a few aromatic vegetables and seasonings in the pot when cooking dried beans is an opportunity to add depth and character to the final dish. If you do use canned beans, try a few brands to see which you like best. The organic ones taste better and usually have little or no salt. Just remember to always rinse canned beans well before using.
Most beans improve in flavor and texture when cooked a day in advance. If you plan to hold them for a day or so, refrigerate the beans in their cooking liquid once they’ve cooled. If kept at room temperature for too long, beans can sour and ferment.
To soak or not to soak?
Soaking dried beans in water overnight before cooking them has two benefits: most soaked beans cook faster—up to an hour less. Also, if the soaking water is poured off, the beans will be easier to digest because you’re leaching out and pouring off the oligosaccharides that cause gas.
If you are not good at planning ahead, there’s a quick-soaking method. Cover the beans with water and bring them to a boil. Boil for two minutes and then let them soak for an hour off the heat, drain, and then add fresh water and continue cooking.
Many people believe dried beans last forever. In fact, very old beans and those that have been stored in hot, humid conditions might never soften even after hours of cooking. Yet it’s almost impossible to tell the age of dried beans. If you have a good market that goes through beans quickly, you’d do well to buy them there. Heirloom beans are available by mail from small growers.
To salt or not?
A major debate exists in the culinary world on whether adding salt or acids to beans slows down the cooking time or toughens the beans. Cook’s Illustrated did a study and concluded that salt has no effect on cooking time or bean texture. Furthermore, they suggest that for maximum flavor, it’s actually essential to salt your beans at the beginning rather than the end of of cooking. Also, when soaking beans, Cook’s Illustrated says that by using salt water, the bean will cook up with softer and more pliable skins.
Tomato sauce, wine, lemon juice and vinegar, however, do prevent the starch on the inside of the bean from swelling and becoming tender. These ingredients can be added to bean salads, but not until the beans are fully cooked and soft. And speaking of acidic ingredients, don’t dress cooked beans until the day you are serving the salad. Though the beans need some time to absorb the flavor from the dressing, too much time in contact with the acidic ingredients—and this includes yogurt—will make the beans mushy.
After cooking the beans and letting them cool in their broth, strain them and mix them with summertime ingredients, such as basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and chiles from the farmers’ market. These salads are good for a light lunch along with some bread—crusty Italian with white bean salads, warmed tortillas with the black beans or and pita with chickpea salads.
Consider experimenting with a pot of cooked beans to create your own salad. Try some of the recipes below for a different side dish to add interest at your next BBQ. These recipes also make use of the many fresh vegetables that are available this time of year.
Basic Method For Cooking Dried Beans
Use this basic method to cook any type of dried bean, including cannellini, kidney beans, chickpeas, and more. 1 cup dried beans yields about 3 cups.
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 to 3 sprigs fresh herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, or flat-leaf parsley)
1 to 1-1/2 cups dried beans, sorted through, rinsed and soaked
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Wrap the bay leaves, garlic,and herbs in cheesecloth and tie with twine. Put the beans in a large pot and cover with water by 2 inches (about 2 quarts). Add the herb bundle and the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the beans are tender but not splitting and falling apart, 1 to 2 hours depending on the type and freshness the of beans. Cannellini and kidney beans take about 1 hour and 15 minutes; chickpeas may take up to two hours. Best way to tell is to taste one of the beans. Check occasionally to be sure the beans aren’t boiling and that they are covered with liquid; add water if needed. Discard the herb bundle.
Black Bean Salad
Serves 4 – 6.
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 small jalapeño, seeded, deveined and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 -3 big handfuls baby salad greens, well washed and dried
- 3 cups cooked black beans
- 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Making the dressing: I use an immersion blender – but a blender or food processor will work just as well. Combine the lime juice, vinegar, honey, jalapeño, salt, garlic and mustard. Puree and add the olive oil and puree again until everything comes together. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Set aside until you are ready to serve the salad.
Just before you are ready to serve the salad, gently toss the salad greens with a small amount of the dressing. Arrange it on a platter. Now toss the beans and most of the almonds with the remaining dressing. Arrange the beans on top of the salad greens and finish by sprinkling with the remaining almonds and the crumbled feta cheese.
Bean Salad with Walnuts and Pecorino Cheese
If you can find yellow wax beans use half green and half yellow.
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 4 1/2 teaspoons Sherry wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil
- 1 ½ lbs green beans, trimmed
- 8 cups (packed) torn arugula leaves
- 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh savory leaves or fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
- 2 ounces semi-firm sheep’s-milk cheese (such as pecorino romano), shaved with vegetable peeler
Whisk shallot, vinegar and mustard in small bowl. Gradually whisk in both oils. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature and re-whisk before adding to the salad.
Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water just until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer beans to colander and cool.
Combine beans and arugula in large bowl. Toss with dressing. Transfer salad to serving platter; sprinkle with walnuts, olives, herbs and pepper. Top with shaved cheese.
Chickpea Salad with Yogurt Dressing
Serves four to six
If you use canned chickpeas in place of dried, don’t cook them. Add the turmeric and salt to them (but not the onion or bay leaves) and continue with the recipe as directed. Toast the whole spices in a heavy-based skillet just until fragrant; crush them with a mortar and pestle or grind them coarsely in a coffee grinder dedicated to spices.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, well rinsed (soaked and drained), or 3 cups canned (see note above), rinsed and drained
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 bay leaves, crumbled
- 1 small yellow onion, cut in half
- Kosher salt
- 3 small potatoes (about 8 oz. total)
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
- 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
- 1 medium-size hot green chile, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1/2 small red onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
In a deep, heavy-based pot, cover the chickpeas with 6 to 8 cups cold water. Add the turmeric, bay leaves, yellow onion and 1 tsp. salt. Over high heat, bring to a boil; reduce to a gentle simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 90 minutes; let cool in the broth.
In a heavy-based pot, cover the potatoes with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until tender, about 20 min. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut them into small cubes.
In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and sour cream. Add the ginger, cumin, fennel and chile. Mix well.
Drain the chickpeas, discarding the onion and bay leaves. In a serving bowl, combine the chickpeas, potatoes, cucumber and red onion. Mix in the yogurt dressing, cilantro and mint. Combine well. Let sit for 15 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve at room temperature.
Make Ahead Tips ; The beans can be cooked a day ahead (in fact, the flavor and texture will be even better). Cool the beans to room temperature, then refrigerate them in their cooking liquid; bring to room temperature and drain before assembling the salad.
Warm Kidney Bean Salad
Try this bean salad as a side with barbecue pork or grilled chicken.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups onion, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 2 — (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup green pimento-stuffed olives, sliced in half
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add oregano, vinegar and beans. Cook over low heat until beans are warm.
Remove from heat and stir in salt, parsley and olives. Serve warm or at room temperature.
White-Bean Salad with Zucchini
White beans add heartiness while chopped zucchini adds crunch to this vegetarian salad.
- 2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 pound zucchini (about 2 small), trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 4 ounces green beans, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal (3/4 cup)
- 2 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
- Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
In a medium bowl, place cannellini beans, zucchini, green beans, Parmesan, basil, lemon zest and juice and oil; season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
Note: Small zucchini are sweeter than larger ones, especially when used raw.
Green Bean Salad with Prosciutto
4 to 6 servings
The flavor of Prosciutto di Parma, the most famous of the Italian hams, makes a delicious addition to this summery salad.
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally in half
- 1 medium summer squash, cut in matchsticks (about 2 cups)
- 6 radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced and cut into thin strips
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Coarsely ground black pepper
Steam beans in steamer basket over boiling water until crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Empty into a colander and cool.
Drain well, pat dry with paper towels and transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
- Good Mother Stallard Beans (& Great Vegan Bean Book Review & Giveaway) (tastespace.wordpress.com)
- Bean Salad (chickpeabeets.wordpress.com)
- Corn and Black Bean Salad with Basil Lime Vinaigrette (thecocinamonologues.com)
- Arugula, Asparagus, and White Bean Salad (greatist.com)
- a delicious reminder… (theyellowbungalowla.com)
- Green Bean Salad (thesundaylunchproject.com)
Yes! Birmingham, Alabama
Labor shortages drew Italian immigrants to Birmingham’s coal and steel industries. These new Americans quickly became farmers, grocers and merchants, and the next generation became doctors, bankers and lawyers. Their collective history helped shape the culture of the growing city, which was enriched by their contributions to religion, sports, art, commerce and politics. Italian immigration into the Birmingham area was widespread during the late 19th and early 20th century as rural depression in southern Italy coincided with the availability of trans-Atlantic passage for immigrant laborers and industrial expansion in Alabama. Though many had arrived in the city’s early days, the heaviest waves of Italian immigration occurred after 1890, coinciding with major migrations of rural whites into the district. By 1910 the Italian community was the city’s largest single ethnic group, surpassing German and Irish populations which dominated the earliest influx.
One Immigrant’s Story
Recalling his decision to immigrate to the United States in 1906, Giuseppe Emilio Rocconi reflects, “Sometimes I feel that I went against my destiny.” Like the millions of immigrants that left behind their native countries, families and way of life to find better opportunities in the New World, Rocconi felt that his immigration to the United States altered what he imagined to be the natural course of his life. Thirty-four years later, Rocconi began to write, The Story of My Life (1958), the autobiographical narrative in which he describes his early life in Italy, his immigration to the United States and his work as a sharecropper and later a landowning farmer in the Mississippi Delta. Perhaps in writing his own story, Rocconi overlooked the fact that while America changed his destiny, his presence in America altered the country as well.
Immigrants like Rocconi, who were in search of the American way of life, did not necessarily find it in the South because they had settled in a place where they were not initially granted access to white privilege and where conditions required for fully achieving the American Dream did not exist. Thus, Rocconi depicts a close-knit Italian community that maintains traditions, remains isolated, homogenous and resists assimilation. Rocconi shows Italians relying on other Italians (rather than the larger community) for advice, job opportunities and support during difficult times. Despite this resistance, the Italian community, he describes, strives for financial progress and success. While Rocconi wanted to cling to Italian traditions and culture, he also wanted to achieve financial stability, to own property and to not be employed by anyone.
To tackle the labor shortage in the Mississippi Delta, representatives of the Sunnyside Plantation Company, negotiated “with an Italian immigrant agency in New York and with Italian diplomats.” for Italians to work for the Sunnyside Company. Ronconi settled with twenty-five other Italian families at Red Leaf Plantation, while another one hundred and fifty Italian families settled at nearby Sunnyside Plantation. According to Rocconi, the Italians settled in this area because “the land was our main occupation as it had also been that of our forefathers in Italy, and here too, where we had transferred, there was no other alternative but the land.”
The Italians at Red Leaf and Sunnyside depended on one another for financial and moral support. Without any other trade experience and no knowledge of other opportunities in the United States, they found themselves bound to the land. In a sense, they were financially enslaved to the company because they could see no other way out of their debts, which compounded in a vicious cycle. Rocconi relied on the help of his brother, other Italians and his wife, who he says he shared “a life full of disturbances, of misery, work and pain” in order to survive while living and working in deplorable conditions at Red Leaf Plantation.
During the flood in 1912, almost all of the Italian families at Red Leaf Plantation dispersed and moved to cities, such as Chicago and Memphis. When Rocconi found himself virtually alone on the plantation, he and his brother, Pietro, “decided also to leave.” From there, he moved to Ensley, Alabama, joining another group of Italian immigrants in that area. He “liked that place [because] it promised me a little of my country. Those rolling fields, the pure healthy air; it had really captivated me.” When Rocconi describes Ensley as “my country,” one must wonder if he is referring to America or to Italy. Did it remind him of what he had left behind in Italy? Or, was it more like what he had expected his experience as a farmer in America to have been like? Either way, Rocconi seems to be most comfortable in this area because he was not bound by a plantation company‟s harsh treatment. Source: Bethany Santucci, great-granddaughter of Giuseppe Emilio Rocconi, theme paper (B.A. Millsaps College, 2006, May, 2011).
Most of Birmingham’s Italians came from a small number of villages in Sicily. The town of Bisacquino alone accounted for about a third of those arriving. Cefalu, Sutera, Campofranco, Grotte and Palermo were also well-represented. Prior to 1898 most of those arriving came through the Port of New Orleans, followed after that by New York as the primary port of entry. By the mid-1920s changes to the immigration policy, including a literacy test and the establishment of national quotas sharply reduced Italian immigration.
Many of those arriving without family already in place began their stay in Birmingham at Egidio Sabatini’s boarding house near the new Terminal Station. Many of the workers were Italian and appreciated his Italian cooking. After settling in, it was easy for the immigrants to find work in the labor-starved iron and steel industries. Families settled themselves around the various industrial plants surrounding the city proper and the Italian neighborhoods grew. By the late 1910’s several families had started operating small grocery stores or fruit markets, typically in the underserved African-American neighborhoods. By the mid-1930’s there were over 300 Italian-owned groceries in the Birmingham area. Notable establishments included the Cantanzano Brothers’ grocery, the Grand Fish and Oyster Company, the Giardina Macaroni Company, the Italian-American Importing Company, Spina Importing, Simonetti Brothers and the Rouss-Maenza Wholesale Company. Meanwhile a small colony of Italian farmers began growing fruits and vegetables in the area now occupied by the Birmingham International Airport. Domenico Lusco had a thriving farm near West End and organized the Farmer’s Truck Growers Association.
Between 1901 and 1929 thirteen separate mutual aid societies were established to provide basic insurance against illness, injury or burial costs. The first of these was the Liberty Mutual Aid Society. Many of these clubs organized dances and other social events for the Italian community. One, the Societa Italiana Umberto Di Savoia Principe Di Piemonte (USPP) helped to get Columbus Day declared a state holiday in 1911. G. A. Firpo, vice-consul to the Italian Embassy in New Orleans established an office in Birmingham.
In 1912 an experienced social worker, Dorothy L. Crim, accepted a salary of fifty dollars per month to found a settlement house similar to Jane Addams’s Hull House in Chicago. Despite a host of obstacles to reform, the Ensley Community House, which opened the next year, served its community for fifty-six years. Located in the heart of the city’s Italian District, it sought to alleviate the problems many immigrant workers faced—especially the sense of alienation and isolation from mainstream American culture. Crim felt her greatest satisfaction came, when the families she helped in turn served others.
The Italian community supported two baseball leagues and several musical groups which performed at weddings and feasts. Notable Italian bandleaders included Philip Memoli, Bill Nappi and Saverio Costa.
The first Saint Mark Catholic Church was built in 1905 in East Thomas near the Ensley area. Reverend John B. Canepa was the first pastor. The founding parishioners were Italian immigrants, many who labored in steel mills, stoked furnaces and mined coal and ore. Some were small farmers or merchants, who sold produce and groceries along the city streets. As parishioners moved away from the area, the congregation declined, and Saint Mark closed in 1997. The original building still remains and can be seen at 1010 16th Avenue West in East Thomas. Upon the closing of Saint Mark, the remaining parishioners were promised that a new Saint Mark would be built in Birmingham. Much of the interior was removed with plans to install it in the future church.
A new Saint Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church was built and much of the interior came from the old Saint Mark church. Father Patrick Cullen was appointed pastor on December 8, 2000 and he continued the construction to its completion, celebrating Saint Mark’s first Mass on August 10, 2003.
Feast of Saint Mark Italian Food Festival in Birmingham, Alabama.
For years, many people in the community had hoped for such a “festa” or feast celebrating Italian culture in the traditional Italian style. After the success of the inaugural event in 2012, there was even greater anticipation of the 2013 festival. It was an event attended by over 3,000 Italian family members! “Everybody loved it last year and so we were determined to make it even bigger and better this year and really give people a taste of Italian culture and really good Italian food,” said Robert Sbrissa, one of the organizers. Plans are for the festa to continue to be an annual event, because these festivals and celebrations are important for preserving the Italian culture for future generations.
According to the organizers, “The food experience for the 2013 Feast was a real treat. We offered wonderful Italian favorites. We also worked hard to bring the highest quality and freshest menu items possible, just like Mama. We featured delicious samplings by some of our favorite local Italian restaurants as well as a freshly-grilled Italian sausage station complete with roasted peppers and onions.” These were some of the restaurants that helped make the event special: Tellini’s Italiano, Pelotoni’s Italian Restaurant, Tony’s Spaghetti House and Mr P’s Butcher Shop & Deli. Several of Birmingham’s noted Italian chefs prepared the food for the festa.
One of the biggest surprises was the contribution by Bernard Tamburello. Chef Bernard’s culinary magic and passion for his Italian culture brought authentic cuisine to the Feast of Saint Mark Italian Food Festival. He prepared main course items on site, including Chicken Marsala, Eggplant Parmigiana and Rigatoni Marinara.
Chef Bernard Tamburello blends his love of cooking with his Italian ancestry and culinary skills. In 1992, Tamburello, an award-winning restaurateur, had humble beginnings with Gus’s Hotdogs in downtown Birmingham. Later, Tamburello branched out and opened Bernie’s Grill in Chelsea in 2002, followed by Bernie’s on Main in Columbiana. In 2005, Tamburello launched La Dolce Vita [LDV] in Hoover. LDV allowed Chef Bernard to express his passion for Italian food and culture. He transformed the 1400 foot rental space with Italian accents of brick and slate and a full bar. The traditional recipes and Italian ambience, combined with Tamburello’s expertise, established the chef’s fame and faithful following.
In 2008 Tamburello launched the menu for his Tuscan steakhouse, Bellini’s Ristorante & Bar. Bellini’s had an authentic Italian atmosphere complete with a tiled floor, Tuscan brick walls, granite and polished wood. Tamburello has garnered numerous awards for his skills: Birmingham’s Top Restaurant in 2009 and Birmingham’s Top Wine list in 2009 and 2010. He has been featured in Birmingham Magazine and B Metro over 9 times, appeared on Fox 6 and ABC cooking segments and even prepared breakfast for Nick Saban and his wife Terry in their Tuscaloosa kitchen.
Birmingham’s Italian Food
Tomato Basil Soup
from Joe’s Italian Pizza, Pasta & Caffe
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 4 cups ground tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Melt the butter with the oil over low heat in a heavy bottom pot. Add the onion; wilt over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic during the last 2 minutes, stirring.
Add the tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover; cook over medium-low heat for 60 minutes. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Add basil.
Stir in the cream or half & half, simmer for another 30 minutes.
Garnish with fresh basil before serving.
Note: When tomatoes are in-season use fresh tomatoes, blanch for 8 minutes and process with food processor. In the winter, use a San Marzano-type canned tomato, drain half of the liquid and process in food processor.
Carciofi farciti di carne (Meat-stuffed artichokes)
Sicilian style cooking. Mary Jo Gagliano of La Tavolo, which is Italian for table, draws from her 40 years of experience creating delicious dishes for her family and friends, as well as inspiration and recipes from her family’s Italian heritage.
- 6 medium to large artichokes, trimmed
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 6 oz. ground lamb or veal
- 3 slices Italian bread, crust removed
- 1/2 cup whole milk, divided
- 1 large egg slightly beaten
- Salt and fresh ground pepper
- 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Marinara sauce, preferably Pomi Marinara
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a baking dish large enough to hold artichokes upright.
Trim crust from bread and pour 1/4 cup milk over the bread. Let it soak.
Trim artichokes one quarter from the top, discarding tops. Cut off stems and reserve. Remove outer leaves until they become lighter in color; reserve outer leaves. Insert knife into center and remove hairy choke, taking care not to pierce bottom of the artichoke (a grapefruit spoon works well).
Fill a large saute pan or Dutch Oven with water; bring to a boil. Add artichokes, outer leaves, stems and wine. Return to a boil, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain well.
In a small bowl, add 1/4 cup of milk, soaked bread, egg, meat, salt and pepper. Mix, making sure bread is crumbled.
Place the leaves on a chopping surface, flesh-side up. Use a sharp serrated knife or grapefruit spoon to remove flesh from the leaves. Discard the leaves. Finely chop stems and crush slightly. Combine the flesh, stems and cheese in a small bowl and mix.
Stuff bread and meat mixture between each layer of artichoke leaves and into center. Spread flesh and cheese mixture over artichoke tops, drizzle with oil and place in baking dish.
Bake until golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Spread warm marinara sauce on a serving platter, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Swirl oil and sauce together.
Arrange artichokes in platter and serve warm. Pass the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
from Bernie’s on Main
- 2 lbs (about 2 large) eggplants
- Kosher salt
- 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- Olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 lbs of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
- 1 cup grated high quality Parmesan cheese
- 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
Cut eggplants lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange one layer in the bottom of a large colander and sprinkle evenly with salt. Repeat with remaining eggplant, salting, until all eggplant is in the colander. Weigh down the slices with a couple of plates and let drain for 2 hours. The purpose of this step is to have the eggplant release some of its moisture before cooking.
While the eggplant is draining, prepare tomato sauce. Combine tomatoes, garlic and 1/3 cup olive oil in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper to tasted and set aside.
When eggplant has drained, press down on it to remove excess water, wipe off the excess salt and lay the slices out on paper towels to remove all the moisture. In a wide, shallow bowl, combine flour and breadcrumbs.
Mix well. Pour beaten eggs into another wide shallow bowl. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat and pour in a a half inch of olive oil.
When oil is shimmering, dredge the eggplant slices first in the flour mixture, then in the beaten egg. Working in batches, slide coated eggplant into hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Drain on paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In the bottom of a 10×15 inch glass baking dish, spread 1 cup of tomato sauce. Top with one third of the eggplant slices. Top eggplant with half of the mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the Parmesan and half of the basil leaves.
Make a second layer of eggplant slices, topped by 1 cup of sauce, remaining mozzarella, half the remaining Parmesan and all of the remaining basil. Add remaining eggplant and top with the remaining tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.
Bake until cheese has melted and the top is slightly brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.
Yield: Serves 8.
Veal Scaloppine with Lemon
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound veal Scaloppine, cut from the top round, and flattened
- Flour, spread on a plate
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped very fine
- 1/2 lemon, sliced very thin
Put the oil and 2 tablespoons of butter into a skillet and turn on the heat to medium high. When the butter foam begins to subside, dredge the scaloppine in flour and cook them. Remove scaloppine from pan.
Off the heat, add the lemon juice to the skillet, using a wooden spoon to scrape loose the browning residues on the bottom and sides. Swirl in the remaining tablespoon of butter, put in any juices the scaloppine may have shed in the plate and add the chopped parsley, stirring to distribute it evenly.
Turn on the heat to medium and return the scaloppine to the pan. Turn them quickly and briefly, just long enough to warm them and coat them with sauce. Turn out the entire contents of the pan onto a warm platter, garnish the platter with lemon slices and serve at once.
Classic Sicilian Ricotta Cheesecake
- 2 pounds ricotta cheese
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 5 eggs
- 1/4 cup amaretto
- 1 ½ teaspoons orange zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. (150 degrees C.). Set rack in the middle of the oven. Butter and flour a 9 ½ inch springform pan and tap out excess flour.
Place the ricotta in a large mixing bowl and stir it as smooth as possible with a rubber spatula. Stir the sugar and flour together thoroughly in the ricotta. Stir in the eggs one at a time. Blend in the vanilla, orange and lemon zest and Amaretto. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 100 minutes until it’s a light golden color. Make sure the center is fairly firm and that the point of a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. The cheesecake will sink slightly as it cools. Cover and chill overnight.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup limoncello
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Lemon slices for garnish
Make glaze by combining sugar and cornstarch, blending in lemoncello and lemon juice until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened. Cook 3 minutes. Thin with a little water, if too thick.
Chill until cool but not set. Spread top of cheesecake with lemon glaze. Chill overnight. Garnish with lemon slices just before serving.
- West Virginia’s Little Italy Communities (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Baltimore’s Little Italy (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Western Pennsylvania’s “Little Italies” (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Philadelphia’s Little Italy (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Chicago’s Little Italy (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Cleveland’s Little Italy (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- New England’s “Little Italies” (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Italian American Neighborhoods – Boston (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Ybor City – Florida’s Little Italy (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Little Italy – Manhattan (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- The “Little Italies” of Michigan (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- The Hill” St. Louis’ Little Italy (jovinacooksitalian.com)
Tips For Grilling Chicken
To keep the chicken from sticking: grease your grill: Before you light the grill, spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray or brush it with oil. Use a marinade or rub the chicken with some oil.
Keep it hot: sear the chicken on a hot grill — this helps seal in the juices and makes it easier to turn over the chicken. Finish cooking over indirect heat.
Indirect Heat: cooking with indirect heat occurs when you use an area of the grill that is not directly over the heat source. Using indirect heat slows the cooking process down, which allows the center of the cut to cook thoroughly without burning the outside. On charcoal grills, coals are pushed to one side of the grill or banked into a ring around the outer edges. On gas grills, the side of the burner, which is below the area where the food will be placed, is turned off after the grill is preheated. Using one of the indirect setups will provide an area on the grill that is a low heat source. The meat is placed over the area in which there are no coals or over the burner that is turned off on a gas grill. Indirect heat is good for cooking whole chickens or larger pieces, such as a full chicken breast.
Direct Heat: cooking with direct heat occurs when you cook the meat directly over the heat source. The chicken is cooked quickly over medium or high heat coals or over burners set to medium or high heat on a gas grill. Direct heat is used when grilling food that cooks in 30 or less minutes, such as boneless chicken breasts and small chicken pieces.
Watch seasonings carefully: marinades and basting sauces, many of which have a high sugar content, will burn if the grill temperature is too hot or if exposed to heat for too long. A hot grill is normally not a problem with quick-cooking cuts (such as skinless, boneless breasts); longer-cooking cuts (such as bone-in chicken parts) should be cooked over a lower heat. And don’t start basting until the chicken is almost fully cooked.
Close the top: if your grill has a cover, always cook your chicken with the cover down. It will make your grill more oven-like and your food will cook more evenly. Also, because the cover cuts off some of the oxygen, you’ll have fewer flare-ups.
Be patient: resist the urge to continuously move the chicken around while it cooks. The chicken will cook more evenly and more quickly, if you follow the recipe cooking instructions or turn it over only once midway through the grilling.
Use the right utensil: use long-handled tongs or a wide metal spatula to move the chicken. Poking it with a fork will cause juices to escape.
Test for doneness: don’t risk serving undercooked chicken. When in doubt, make a small cut into the thickest part so you can be positive that it’s no longer pink inside. You can also use a meat thermometer to check if your meat has reached a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Let the chicken rest so that juices can be redistributed. The cooking process continues for 5-10 minutes.
Be sure to clean up: scrape your grill rack after each use; otherwise, the chicken will pick up charred bits from your last barbecue. Chicken has a tendency to stick to a dirty grill.
Promote good hygiene: proper hand-washing — 20 seconds with hot, soapy water — is absolutely essential before and after handling raw chicken.
Protect against cross-contamination: place the package of raw chicken in a plastic bag to separate it from other groceries. Take it straight home from the store and refrigerate immediately (35 to 40 degrees F). Set wrapped raw chicken on a plate on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so juices don’t drip onto other foods. Always thoroughly wash cutting boards, knives, utensils, and countertops after they come in contact with raw chicken. Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw chicken.
Make seasoning safe: always marinate in the refrigerator. If using a marinade as a basting or dipping sauce, set aside a portion before adding the raw food. Wash basting brushes with hot, soapy water after using on chicken. Discard leftover marinade that comes in contact with raw chicken, or bring to a boil for 1 minute before serving.
Refrigerate or cook: thaw chicken in the refrigerator; never leave it at room temperature. Never partially grill and finish cooking later; cook completely to destroy harmful bacteria.
Master Recipe for Grilled Chicken
If your gas grill has a smoke box that sits on or between the burners, put wood chips in it to give your chicken some smoky flavor. Or wrap some wood chips envelope-style in heavy-duty foil. Poke holes in the top and set it on the grill grates to produce some smoke.
- 1 whole chicken (4-5 lbs), butterflied
- 1 cup apple juice for basting
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons minced dried onion
- 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1-1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper
Combine all the ingredients and blend well.
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon onion salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 2 cups tomato ketchup
- 1 cup peach preserves, pureed
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons butter, cubed and well chilled
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the butter. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Partially cover with the pot lid to protect yourself and your kitchen from any sputtering. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a couple at a time, until incorporated.
Butterfly the chicken: remove the backbone, flatten the breastbone and tuck wings behind back. Using hands or handle of wooden spoon, loosen skin over breast and thighs and remove any excess fat. Pat the chicken with paper towels to dry. Sprinkle on the rub generously, rubbing it under the skin also.
Using a chimney starter, light 40 to 50 pieces of good-quality lump charcoal. When the coals are glowing, transfer them from the chimney to one side of the grill. Leave one side of the grill empty. (If you don’t have a chimney starter, stack the charcoal around some crumpled newspaper in a pyramid in the grill and light the newspaper. The coals will be hot in 20 to 30 min.) Place chicken skin-side down over cooler side of grill with legs facing the fire and cook until skin is lightly browned and faint grill marks appear, about 22 minutes. Baste the chicken with some of the apple juice several times during the cooking process. Using tongs or towel, grip legs and flip chicken (chicken should release freely from grill or use a thin spatula to loosen if stuck) and transfer to hot side of grill, skin-side up, breast facing into grill. Cover grill and cook until chicken is well-browned, about 12 minutes.
Heat one side of the grill to very hot and arrange the chicken on the other side. Close the lid and maintain the temperature of the grill between 230° and 250°F. Baste the chicken with some of the apple juice several times during the cooking process. Using tongs or towel, grip legs and flip chicken (chicken should release freely from grill or use a thin spatula to loosen if stuck) and transfer to hot side of grill, skin-side up, breast facing into grill. Cover grill and cook until chicken is well-browned, about 12 minutes
Finishing the Chicken
Cooked chicken should read 165°F in the meatiest part of the thigh or breast. You’ll also know the chicken is done when its juices run clear after being sliced into with a knife.
When the chicken is cooked, pour some of the barbecue sauce into a separate container (to avoid contaminating the whole batch) and brush it onto the chicken. Cook it an additional few minutes so that the sauce adheres to the chicken as a sticky glaze; watch the chicken carefully at this point and pull it off the grill if the sauce starts to burn. Remove the chicken from the grill, let rest for 5 -10 minutes on a platter and serve with some of the barbecue sauce on the side.
Grilled Chicken and Asparagus Salad
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3)
- 1/3 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- Fresh-ground black pepper
- 1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and discarded
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 cups loosely packed parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 heads Bibb lettuce (about 1 1/2 pounds in all), torn into bite size pieces (about 4 1/2 quarts)
Light the grill and heat to medium. Coat the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Grill the chicken for 5 minutes. Turn and cook until just done, about 4-5 minutes more. When the chicken breasts are cool enough to handle, cut them into bite-size pieces.
Toss the asparagus spears with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus, turning occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes, depending on the width of the spears. Cut the spears into 2-inch lengths.
In a blender, combine the garlic, water, parsley, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/3 cup oil. Puree until smooth, scraping down the side of the blender with a spatula as necessary.
In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, toss the lettuce, chicken and asparagus with half the vinaigrette. Put the salad on plates. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the salad, if desired.
Fennel Garlic Chicken Legs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
- 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 4 whole chicken legs (12 to 14 ounces each)
In a mortar, pound the garlic, fennel seeds, oregano and crushed red pepper with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt until a coarse paste forms. Add the 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil. You can also use a mini processor.
Make four 2-inch slashes on the skin of each chicken leg, cutting to the bone; make 2 slashes on the underside of each leg. Rub the paste into the slashes, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Light a grill. Brush the chicken with oil and season with salt. Grill over moderate heat, turning, until lightly charred and cooked through, 25 minutes.
Grilled Chicken Breasts with Lemon and Thyme
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 4 bone-in chicken breasts (about 2 1/4 pounds in all)
Light the grill. In a shallow dish, combine the lemon juice with the thyme, red-pepper flakes, garlic, oil, salt and black pepper. Coat the chicken with the mixture. Let rest for 30 minutes.
Grill the chicken breasts over moderately high heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Turn and cook until the chicken is done (165 degrees), about 10 minutes longer.
• Try any dried herb you like in place of the thyme: marjoram, oregano, rosemary or sage are all good choices.
• Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of bone-in breasts. Grill them about five minutes per side over moderately high heat.
• Use a quartered chicken instead of bone-in breasts. Cook the breast sections as directed above and allow 13 minutes per side for the leg quarters.
Grilled Chicken Thighs with Sweet Onions and Peppers
This dish is good at room temperature also.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 red onions, thinly sliced, lengthwise
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet red bell peppers stemmed, seeded, sliced lengthwise
- 1/2 cup Ruby Port
- 1/3 cup drained capers
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 12 chicken thighs (6 to 8 oz. each)
- Olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
In a large pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add onions and peppers, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very juicy and almost soft, 16 to 20 minutes. Add the Port, capers and thyme; cook uncovered, stiring often, until all the liquid has evaporated and vegetables are very soft and beginning to brown, 25 to 35 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
You can do this early in the day and wrap the pepper mixture in heavy duty foil, sealing tightly; heat the packet on the grill while cooking the chicken.
Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) and oil the grates. After preheating, turn one side of the grill off.
Brush the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Lay thighs, skin down, on the direct heat side of the grill. Cover and grill for 5 minutes on each side. Move the chicken to indirect heat. Cover and grill an additional 5 minutes on each side or until done.(165 degrees on a meat thermometer.)
Transfer to a platter. Spoon onion-pepper mixture over chicken and sprinkle with parsley.
- Rosemary Lemon Grilled Chicken (mouthbrothels.wordpress.com)
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- Grilled Chicken (justbecauseilovefood.wordpress.com)
It’s amazing what you can put on a pizza. You can serve many of your favorite garden vegetables on a pizza, everything from tomatoes, potatoes, corn and beans. Some may seem a little strange but, if you like the vegetable, chances are—you’ll like it on a pizza. When peppers, squash and cherry tomatoes are at their peak, there’s nothing like enjoying them on a pizza.
It doesn’t always have to be a red sauce, either. White pizzas can be made with a white cheese sauce or simply a coating of olive oil. You want to add just enough, so that your pizza is not dry, but not too much, if you want a crispy crust.
Except for tomatoes, partially cook your vegetables before putting them on a pizza. A thin light crust, one that is intended to be crispy, will not stay crispy, if the vegetables are expected to cook on the pizza.Top your vegetables with just enough cheese to hold things together.
The crust . . .
You can’t make a thin crust with bread flour. It’s too stiff and springs back too much. You need a soft, pliable dough with not too much gluten. You can do it with all-purpose flour. Better yet, add a 1/2 cup of rye flour to your pizza dough recipe made from all-purpose flour. Whole wheat flour is another good low gluten option.
Pre-baking the crust for 5 -6 minutes will also help the dough stay crusty.
Don’t want to heat up the kitchen, try grilled pizzas. Here are some tips:
Grilled pizzas are versatile and easy to accommodate everyone’s likes and needs. The cheese melts evenly and quickly and the crust gets crispy. What’s more, you get that smoky taste from the grill.
Because the pie gets topped right on the grill after the crust has been turned over, the ingredients must be prepped in advance. Take the ingredients out to the grill in small bowls on a cutting board or tray. Preparing different toppings in advance means you can make a variety of pies. Or make personal pies: one to suit each person.
Before you get to the grill, shape the dough into the right size. Simply put the dough on a lightly floured surface and dust the top with a little more flour. Dimple it with your fingertips to shape it into a thick, flattened disk. After that, it’s just a quick job with a rolling pin or your fingers to shape it into a rustic circle or oblong.
Sprinkle cornmeal on the pizza peel or baking sheet before transferring the dough to it. Give the dough a shake to make sure it will come free when it’s time to slide it onto the grill. Once at the grill, slide the dough onto the grill grates.
Close the lid and let the crust get brown on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a metal spatula to gently lift the dough and check for brown grill marks on the underside. Use a pizza peel or large metal spatula to turn the dough over.
Working quickly, top the dough with the prepared ingredients, leaving a 1-inch border. Close the lid and cook until the toppings are heated through, the cheese is melted and the crust is brown. Remove the pizza from the grill and cut it into serving pieces.
Sausage & Pepper Grilled Pizza
Prepare the Dough:
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough for the Grill
- 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup of warm water
- 1.5 teaspoons of rapid rise yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
Combine all the ingredients together in a food processor or electric mixer until dough forms a ball.
Place dough in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes.
Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Oil the grates.
Prepare the Toppings:
Cook 6 oz hot Italian turkey sausage (casings removed) in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, breaking up clumps with a slotted spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Roast 1 pint mini sweet peppers on grill until charred and softened, about 4 minutes. Remove to a cutting board. Halve peppers lengthwise and remove seeds.
Divide the dough in half and stretch each into a large circle and lightly coat 1 side of each with olive oil spray. Put crusts oil side down on the grill and heat until the bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Turn crusts over and spread 1 cup marinara sauce evenly over the top of each pizza.
Sprinkle pizzas evenly with 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella, cooked sausage and roasted peppers.
Grill until bottoms are golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 2-3 minutes longer. Remove to a cutting board.
Sprinkle with fresh arugula, if desired and cut each pizza into 4 slices.
Farmers’ Market Pizza
Note: Zucchini Preparation: salt and microwave for a minute or two before putting on the pizza– less sogginess– and they are cooked when the pizza is done. Use the same preparation with eggplant.
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour and
- 1 1/4 cups semolina flour.
- 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup marinara sauce
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup thinly sliced zucchini
- 1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
- 1 small red onion (3 ounces), thinly sliced
To make the crust:
Mix and knead together in an electric mixer all of the ingredients until a soft, smooth dough forms.
Let the dough rise, covered, for 45 to 60 minutes, then refrigerate it for 4 hours or overnight.
To prepare the pizza:
With lightly greased hands, stretch the dough into a lightly greased rectangular pan about 13″ x 9″ or into a greased round pizza pan. Cover and let the dough rest for 45 to 60 minutes.
Place a baking stone in the middle of your oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Spread the tomato sauce onto the dough and place the pizza pan directly on the stone.
Bake for 6 minutes and remove from the oven.
Distribute the cheese over the sauce, then place the zucchini on 1/4 of the dough, the corn on another 1/4, the tomatoes on 1/4 and the onions on the last quarter.
Return the pizza to the baking stone and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned.
Yield: 1 large pizza.
Pistachio and Mortadella Pizza
Makes Four 10″ Pizzas
- 1½ cups shelled pistachios
- 1/2 tablespoon grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to taste
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 lb. pizza dough, divided into 4 equal pieces
- Fine semolina, for dusting
- 4 oz. thinly sliced mortadella, cut into quarters
- 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1 oz. grated pecorino romano cheese
- 16 fresh basil leaves
Place a pizza stone under the broiler; heat for 30 minutes.
Puree pistachios, Parmesan, oil, lemon juice, salt and 1/4 cup water in a food processor until smooth.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, dust 1 ball dough with semolina.
Using your fingertips, press dough into a 10″circle about 1/4″thick, leaving a 1″ crust around the edges. Hold dough straight up, and with fingertips circling crust, slide fingers around crust in a circular motion as you would turn a steering wheel until dough in the center is stretched to about 1/8″thick; transfer to a semolina dusted pizza peel.
Spread 1/2 cup pistachio pesto over dough and distribute one quarter each of the mortadella, cheeses and basil over the top; drizzle with oil. Slide pizza onto stone; broil until cheese melts and crust is puffed and charred in spots, 3-4 minutes.
Repeat with the remainig three pieces of dough and toppings.
Cheese and Tomato Deep Dish Pizza
Pizza dough, tomato sauce and mozzarella are layered in a springform pan for deep-dish pizza.
Although traditional Chicago pizza has all the cheese on the bottom, here it is divided between the top and the bottom.
Use your favorite pizza crust recipe or purchase dough from a local pizzeria.
Chunky Tomato Sauce:
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes (the chunkier the better)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons red wine
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning or 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped Italian herbs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 16 ounces pizza dough (at room temperature)
- 4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided
- 3/4 cup chunky tomato sauce, homemade or store bought
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
To prepare the sauce:
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Let cool. You will not need all this sauce for the pizza.
To prepare the pizza:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Pour oil into a 10-inch round, deep-dish pan or springform pan. Place dough in the center of pan and work dough from the center outward, pressing to cover the bottom of the pan and halfway up the sides of the pan. Prick with a fork. Bake crust in the oven about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes.
Spread 2 cups mozzarella cheese on crust, top with 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese, Romano cheese and oregano on top. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pizza every 15 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and the cheese should be bubbling when cooked. Remove pizza from the oven and let cool 3 minutes. Remove pizza from pan using a large spatula, cut and serve.
- Fool Proof Homemade Pizza Crust (igeekoutoverclouds.com)
- Homemade Pizza Using A Pizza Stone (thehungrytarsier.wordpress.com)
- Homemade Pizza (courtneygd.wordpress.com)
- Last Night Was Pizza Cooked On The BBQ (bbqheresy.wordpress.com)
- #eczema friendly homemade pizza recipe (eczemaallergies.wordpress.com)
- Recipe for Home Made Pizza (vibesblog.wordpress.com)
- Fresh Margherita Pizza- Gluten Free (olivespantry.wordpress.com)
While the young people prepare to embark on a new path towards adulthood, parents are thinking: There’s a party to be planned! Where to begin? Who to invite? What about decorations? What food to serve? How will all those people fit in the house? Take a deep breath, make a pot of coffee and grab pen and paper.
Write down dates with goals in mind. You’ll want to keep track of expenses and check off each task as it’s completed. Sit down with your soon to be graduate and have an honest discussion about the expectations of the party. Only you, the parents, know what you can afford and how much space you have to create the perfect party for your young adult.
If you don’t think there will be enough room in your home for all your guests, order a tent from a reputable company near you. Make sure you have a clear idea of how many people will be attending and what the tent looks like. The company usually comes out early on the day of the event to put the tent up for you. You’ll need tables and chairs for food and for guests to sit and eat. They can be rented from the same company that rents tents or you can borrow them from friends.
More and more young people are planning the event around a theme. It’s usually something that brings to light a personal like or personality trait. The school colors are not always used these days. Ask your graduate if he/she has a preference. If not… go with the school colors.
Graduation and congratulatory decorations abound through the spring. Keep a lookout for unique items. If helium balloons are on your list, be sure to order early and don’t forget the weights to keep them on the tables.
A “Memory Corner” recreates the past 18 years of your new adult. Make a collage of photographs, childhood memorabilia with bits and pieces of all their favorite things. Display any awards, merits and scholarships acquired through their years in elementary and high school. Let your imagination run wild to create a unique display that will be the hit of the day.
Pick up paper products. Specialty stores abound when it comes to party items like paper plates, cups, napkins, fruit cups and plastic spoons, forks and knives. Customized napkins need to be ordered early, but most kids are happy with just the year on it.
Music always adds a festive touch to any party. Choose music that your child loves or even better, leave the task of selecting the music to your graduate.
Since this is a day to honor your child’s achievement, let him/her be your guide. Perhaps all or some of their favorite foods could be served. You might wish to have a chicken barbeque or grill hamburgers and hotdogs. Sandwiches, chips and baked beans are probably the most used menu, but I would go a different route to create a buffet unique to your child. Mexican food, Italian, Greek, Chinese… the possibilities are endless.
A sample menu: Grilled chicken, your best potato salad or Caesar salad with creamy dressing, crusty rolls, a vegetable plate that includes celery and carrot sticks, broccoli, cauliflower, olives, a mixed fruit salad in a watermelon bowl an, of course, the cake.
If you’re expecting a large crowd, place bowls of M&M’s mixed with peanuts on the tables, mints or another finger food. FYI: You can purchase just the color of M&M’s you need at specialty stores. This makes for a colorful addition to the table decorations, especially in school colors.
Find a great cake decorator who creates unique, one of a kind cakes. Have the cake decorated to coordinate with the theme. Order early to assure you get just what you want. You can keep costs down by making your own cake. (See below)
It’s best to not include liquor or beer unless all the attendees are over 21. The temptation for young people to drink may be too great. Keep the drinks to sodas, iced tea, lemonade, punch or coffee.
- Create a timeline.
- Ask a friend or two to help you out with kitchen duties and to run last minute errands, such as picking up the cake, getting the balloons, flowers, etc.
- Create a list just for the menu and food preparation. Put the list on your refrigerator to remind you what needs to be done and when.
- Do as much cooking beforehand. Meats can be cooked and stored in the freezer.
- Clean and cut vegetables the day before, place in large bags or plastic containers.
- Confirm all orders a week before the party. Don’t allow a glitch to occur that day.
- Set up as much as possible the day before the party.
- Don’t forget to: Have Fun!
Suggested Party Menu
Minted Citrus Tea
This recipe serves 10. It is easily doubled.
- 3 cups boiling water
- 12 fresh mint sprigs
- 4 tea bags
- 1 cup sugar, or sugar alternative such as Truvia (Stevia)
- 1 cup fresh Florida orange juice
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 5 cups cold water
- 1 Florida orange, sliced for garnish
- 1 lemon sliced for garnish
Place the tea bags and mint sprigs into a large pitcher. Pour the boiling water over them and steep for about 7 minutes.
Remove and discard the tea bags and mint leaves, squeezing out excess liquid. Stir in sugar until dissolved and then stir in the orange juice and lemon juice.
Pour in the cold water. Serve over ice cubes, garnished with orange or lemon slices.
Arugula, Frisee and Red-Leaf Salad with Strawberries
- 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 12 cups baby arugula, washed and dried
- 12 cups red-leaf lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces
- 12 cups frisee, trimmed, washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
- 8 Belgian endives, leaves separated, washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
- 4 pints strawberries, washed, dried, hulled, and quartered
- 2 cups walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
In a large salad bowl add the arugula, red-leaf lettuce, frisee, endive, strawberries and walnuts.
In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, oil and thyme; season with salt and pepper.
Pour half of the dressing over the salad and season with additional salt and pepper; toss to combine.
Taste and add more dressing, as desired
- 2 sirloin, skirt, or flank steaks (about 2 pounds each)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 2 large loaves Italian bread, halved lengthwise
- Garnish: fresh basil and romaine lettuce leaves
Let steaks stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Heat grill to high. Brush grates with oil. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Grill for 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest for 10 minutes. Thinly slice steaks across the grain.
Meanwhile, drizzle tomatoes with oil; season with salt and pepper. Brush bread with oil. Grill tomatoes until lightly charred and soft, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Grill cut sides of bread until lightly charred, 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Layer sliced steak and grilled tomatoes over bottom halves of bread. Garnish with basil and romaine leaves, drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Sandwich with top halves of bread. Cut each loaf crosswise into 6 sandwiches.
Baked Italian Cheese Sandwiches
- 8 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 2 white country loaves of bread—ends discarded, each with at least eight slices
- 1 pound sliced provolone cheese
- 1 pound Fontina cheese, coarsely shredded (about 5 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 325°F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, mix the halved tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake the tomatoes cut side up for 1 1/2 hours, until soft and starting to brown. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the tomatoes are very tender and slightly shriveled but still juicy. Let cool. (This can be done a day or two ahead)
Increase the oven temperature to 375°F. Brush 16 bread slices with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil; arrange 8 of the slices oiled side down on a large rimmed baking sheet. Top with the provolone, cover with the tomatoes, 4 cups of the Fontina and the remaining 8 bread slices, oiled side up. Press gently on the sandwiches and bake for about 15 minutes, until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.
Preheat the broiler. Toss the remaining Fontina with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and sprinkle on the sandwiches. Broil 3 inches from the heat for about 1 minute, until the cheese is melted. Transfer the sandwiches to a serving platter. Cut into smaller pieces, if desired.
Potato Salad with Cipollini Onions, Olives and Fennel
Yukon Golds are the best potato for this salad.
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 pounds baby Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved
- 1 pound cipollini onions, peeled and left whole
- 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
- 1 cup picholine olives, pitted (2 1/2 ounces)
- 2 small fennel bulbs, very thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved (2 cups)
Heat a large skillet or Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Add oil, garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add potatoes, onions and red-pepper flakes. Cook until onions are golden, about 7 minutes.
Add stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until potatoes and onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove potatoes and onions with a slotted spoon. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid.
Combine reserved liquid, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Pour over warm potatoes and onions. Stir in olives and let cool to room temperature.
Add fennel and parsley and combine. Season with salt and pepper. Top with Parmesan.
Mix well. Best served at room temperature.
Note To ensure maximum flavor, toss potatoes with dressing while they’re still warm.
Charred Corn Salad
- 8 large ears of corn, shucked
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for brushing on the corn
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- 2 jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced
- 6 tablespoons torn mint leaves
- 6 tablespoons torn parsley leaves
Heat grill to medium high. Brush the corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning, until crisp-tender, about 12 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the onion and lime juice and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the syrup, jalapeño and the 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt and pepper.
Working in a large bowl, with a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cobs. Add the onion dressing and toss. Add the mint, parsley and toss again. Serve warm.
- 5 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 10 egg whites
- 1 cup white sugar plus 2 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1 1/3 cups shortening
- 1 3/4 cups milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Creamy Butter Frosting
- 1 cup butter
- 8 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly spray a large (18-by-12-inch) sheet cake pan (or you can use a slightly smaller jelly roll pan) with nonstick baking spray. Be sure to get in all the corners of the pan.
Measure sifted flour, add baking powder, 2 teaspoons salt and sift together three times. In a separate large bowl beat egg whites until foamy, add the 1 cup white sugar, gradually, and continue beating until mixture stands in soft peaks.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer cream shortening, add 2 1/2 cups white sugar, gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture, alternately with milk, a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla and the beaten egg whites and beat thoroughly into batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared sheet cake pan. Use a large offset spatula or knife to even out the surface. Bake for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes.
Place a large cutting board covered with parchment paper on top of the cake pan, then invert the cake, allowing it to turn out onto the cutting board. Let the cake cool completely before decorating.
When thoroughly cooled, at least 2 hours, brush cake to remove any loose crumbs. You can also cut the cake in half to make two layers, if desired.
Prepare Creamy Butter Frosting and spread the cake with frosting. You can tint the frosting, write on top of cake and add graduation decorations.
To Make Creamy Butter Frosting:
Cream 1 cup butter or margarine; add part of the confectioners’ sugar gradually, blending after each addition. Mix in 4 teaspoons vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Then add remaining sugar alternately with milk, until the right consistency for spreading. Beat after each addition until smooth. Makes about 5 cups.
(While frosting cake, keep bowl of frosting covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying.)
- Sweet dreams: Cressida Bell’s magical cake decorations (telegraph.co.uk)
- Eight great Pinterest-inspired graduation gifts, goodies and party crafts (swrnn.com)
- Graduation Cupcakes (hiphostessblog.com)
- Graduation brunch a family tradition (video) (victoriaadvocate.com)
- Hip Tip: Use Balloon Ice Packs to Keep Bevies Cool (hiphostessblog.com)