Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: July 2013

Cold soups make a fine first course, a light summertime lunch or even a dessert. They can be a simple purée of fruit or vegetables and liquid or a more complex creation involving spices, wines and liqueurs. But even at their fanciest, cold soups are easy to make, requiring only a blender and some basic ingredients.

Some recipes use stock (most savory soups are better for it), but water works, too. And there is usually no meat in any of them, except if you choose one for a garnish. Most cold soups can be made vegetarian or vegan without much trouble.

The smooth and creamy soups are best made ahead of time, so that they have a chance to chill thoroughly. In fact, you can prepare them even a couple of days in advance. (Just hold off stirring in cream or yogurt until you are ready to serve.) The gazpacho-type soups can be made at the last moment; they should feel hearty and thick. You can purée them, chill them or serve as a beverage. A sweet fruit soup is a simple way to take advantage of an abundance of summer fruit.

A variety of fruits lend themselves to soup—all kinds of berries, stone fruits (peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries) and melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon). While fresh fruit is always best and is mandatory when using melons for soup, frozen fruit can yield excellent results. In fact, making soup is one of the best ways to use up the surplus crop that fills your freezer. Even canned fruit works well.

The vegetables of summer — asparagus, corn, zucchini, avocado, cucumbers and tomatoes to name a few —can be turned into cold soups. The simplicity really lets the flavor of the featured ingredient shine.

Tips on bringing out the best flavor for chilled soups:

Because a fruit or vegetable soup has relatively few ingredients, the taste of each one is easy to detect, so the quality of the fruit or vegetable is critical. Under ripe, overripe, off-flavored or badly freezer-burned ingredients will produce poor results. Shop at a farmers’ market, if possible, and pick vegetables that look ripe with bright colors and feel heavy for their size.

Cold dulls flavor; you’ll almost certainly want to add more herbs, salt and pepper and maybe more acidity. Season generously to start and don’t be afraid to add more just before serving.

Vegetables, like beets and fennel, must be cooked until thoroughly tender so they purée easily. Cook the main vegetable with a little onion for sweetness and garlic for depth. Also add spices at this point. Fresh herbs added just before puréeing provide another layer of flavor.

When melons are puréed, they turn watery. Soups based on them often require no added liquid. For most other fruits, liquid is required:, such as water, milk (whole, low-fat and skim are all good), cream, wine, fruit juice (for example, apple or white grape juice) or some combination of these.

As sweet as it is, when fruit is diluted with liquid, it usually requires some added sugar, honey or agave. Soups can vary from tart, perhaps for a first course, to very sweet for desserts.

The most common additions to cold fruit soups are cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom. Add fat to most soups in the form of cream or olive oil. Fat not only helps carry flavors but also creates an emulsion for a smoother, more full-bodied soup.

Common sources of additional flavor are liquors, especially cognac and rum, and liqueurs-either a contrasting flavor such as Grand Marnier or Amaretto, or a brandy derived from the same fruit as the soup.

Garnishes include dollops of yogurt, sour cream, herbs and, for dessert soups, whipped cream and berries. Garnishes add texture and either reinforce the flavor (fennel fronds for fennel soup) or complement it (tangy sour cream and dill for earthy beet soup).

A blender’s tapered shape draws the ingredients to the blade, where they’re puréed evenly and finely. Keep the blender running for two minutes even after the soup looks puréed to be sure all the spices and herbs are pulverized.

A safety tip: When blending hot liquids, never fill the blender jar more than half full. Leave the fill hole cap ajar, cover the lid with a cloth, hold the lid on firmly and start the blender on low before increasing it to high.

Two-Color Melon Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cut up
  • 1 small honeydew, peeled, seeded and cut up
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup white wine, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • Prosciutto or another cured ham, for garnish

Directions:

Place the cantaloupe, orange juice, half the white wine and half the sugar in a blender or food processor and purée. Set aside in a separate bowl.

Place the honeydew, lime juice, remaining wine and remaining sugar in a blender or food processor and purée. Set aside in a separate bowl. Refrigerate both purées separately.

To serve, place the purées into separate pitchers or measuring cups. With one in each hand, simultaneously pour the two purées down opposite sides of each serving bowl, the purees will remain separate while being served and eaten. Garnish with sliced proscuitto.

Carrot Soup with Herbs

6 to 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (or 1-32-ounce box) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups (about 1 pound) ready-to-use baby carrots
  • 1 medium thin-skinned white or Red Bliss potato, scrubbed and quartered
  • 1 large handful whole fresh dillweed sprigs (including stems), plus 2 tablespoons chopped dill weed leaves (fine leaves only) for garnish
  • 1 small handful whole fresh chives, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped for garnish
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Herbed yogurt garnish, recipe below

Directions:

Combine the chicken broth, carrots and potato in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Lay the whole herbs over the vegetables and bring the mixture to a boil. Adjust the heat so the broth boils gently and cook, uncovered, for 13 to 15 minutes or until the carrots and potato are tender when pierced with a fork. Don’t undercook or the soup will not be as smooth as it should.

Set aside until cooled slightly. Using a fork, lift off and discard all the herbs. Using a slotted spoon, remove the carrots to a food processor or blender and remove the potato to a bowl to cool. Strain the broth and reserve. When the potato is cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the skin. Add the potato, butter and enough broth from the saucepan to the vegetables to facilitate processing or blending. Process or blend until completely smooth, stopping and scraping down the sides as needed; a processor will take longer and the soup will not be quite as smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Cool slightlyand add salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 48 hours before serving. If desired, thin the soup with a little water and adjust seasoning before serving.

To serve, add several teaspoons of the herbed yogurt to the center top of each bowl of soup. Partially swirl in the mixture. If desired, garnish servings with small sprigs of dill weed.

Herbed Yogurt Garnish

Stir together 2/3 cup regular or low-fat plain (unflavored) yogurt, 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill weed and 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives in a small bowl. Taste and add salt if needed. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours (so the herbs can infuse the yogurt) and up to 48 hours.

Fennel-Grapefruit Soup with Lemon Olive Oil

The fennel-grapefruit soup can be refrigerated overnight. Olive oil pressed or infused with lemon is available at most supermarkets and specialty food stores.

Servings 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon flavored olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • One 1-pound fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced, plus chopped fennel fronds, for garnish
  • Salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice, strained
  • Pinch of sugar

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons of lemon flavored olive oil. Add the sliced fennel and a pinch of salt, cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring a few times, until the fennel is softened, about 10 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the fennel is very tender, about 20 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the fennel soup in a blender until smooth. Transfer the soup to a medium bowl and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Just before serving stir the grapefruit juice into the fennel soup. Add the sugar to the soup and season with salt. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with a little lemon olive oil and chopped fennel fronds and serve.

 

Cool Tomato Soup

6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Pinch of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup fat free half & half
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, combine the plum tomatoes with the water, tomato paste, onion, garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper and granulated sugar. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the tomatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes. Add the half & half and simmer for 1 minute.

Puree the soup in a blender and pass it through a coarse strainer into a medium bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Refrigerate the soup until cold, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F. Spread the cherry tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, confectioners’ sugar and a large pinch of salt. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the skins start to wrinkle. Transfer the tomatoes to a bowl and toss with the dill. Let rest at room temperature until ready to serve the soup.

Ladle the cold soup into bowls, garnish with the roasted cherry tomatoes and serve.

 

Chilled Corn Soup with Roasted Chilies

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 10 ears sweet corn
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, olive oil, or butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1 medium potato
  • 4 cups water or broth
  • Roasted jalapeno (or any spicy chili), diced

Directions:

Using a large hole grater over a very large bowl, grate off the corn kernels. Use the blunt side of a knife blade to scrape remaining liquid and corn bits into the bowl after you grate each cob. Set aside the raw corn puree.

Chop onions. In a large pot heat oil or butter over medium heat. Add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion wilts, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the potato. Add potato and water or broth to the pot. Bring to a boil. Cook until onions and potatoes are very soft, about 10 minutes. Add corn. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Roast chilies in the broiler or on a grill. Set aside until cool and remove the skin. Be sure to use gloves when handling hot chilies.

Puree with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor (do this in small batches to avoid splashes and burns).

Chill the soup thoroughly.

Add salt to taste. (Do this at the temperature at which you plan to serve the soup; chilled soup will need more salt than hot soup because cold dulls flavor.)

You will need to add a fair amount of salt, if you used water as your base liquid. Keep adding salt, about 1/4 teaspoon at a time, and tasting until you notice  the corn flavor coming through.

Garnish with roasted sliced jalapeno chilies before serving.

 


Many of the dishes humans have eaten for generations — such as rice and beans or tomatoes drizzled with olive oil — have withstood the test of time, not simply because the ingredients taste delicious together, but because they’re more nutritious together than they are on their own. The concept is called “food synergy” and it explains how two foods can be greater than the sum of their parts. Here are a few of the most powerful food synergies currently known to science.

Eggs and Cheese

The vitamin D found in egg yolks makes the calcium in dairy more available to your body — important not only for bones, but for heart health as well.

Rosemary and Steak

Marinate your steak with rosemary before cooking. The herb is rich in antioxidants such as, rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid, that help neutralize carcinogenic (cancer causing) compounds known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that form when steak reaches a temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Tomatoes and Olive Oil

Cancer and heart disease-fighting compounds called carotenoids (the most well known of which is lycopene) are found in abundance in tomatoes. They’re fat-soluble and, as such, they’re more available to your body when you eat them with fats such as, olive oil or mozzarella cheese.

Garlic and Fish

Both of these foods fight inflammation and disease, but together they’re even more powerful. Research has shown that a combination of garlic and fish lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol more effectively than eating the foods on their own.

Raspberries and Chocolate

Scientists have discovered that when raspberries and chocolate are paired together, their disease-fighting flavonoids (quercetin in raspberries and catechin in chocolate) are even more effective at thinning the blood and improving heart health.

Turmeric and Black Pepper

The spice turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties — it’s being studied for its potential to fight cancer, improve liver function, lower cholesterol and avoid Alzheimer’s disease. When you combine it with black pepper, your body absorbs much more curcumin (turmeric’s active ingredient).

Salmon and Red Wine

Plant compounds in grapes known as polyphenols do more than promote good circulation — they also help your body absorb more of the brain-healthy omega-3s in fish.

Oatmeal and Oranges

Phenols (a type of plant compound) in oatmeal and vitamin C in oranges, both lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. When eaten together, their ability to improve cholesterol and prevent heart disease is four times greater than what they’re capable of individually.

Lemon and Spinach

The vitamin C in lemons helps your body absorb more of the plant-based iron found in spinach, a mineral that prevents mood swings and promotes happiness.

Red Wine and Almonds

Together, the antioxidant resveratrol in red wine and the vitamin E in almonds boost the body’s ability to thin the blood and improve the health of blood vessel linings.

Vinegar and Sushi Rice

Vinegar decreases rice’s ability to raise blood sugar levels by 20 to 40 percent.

Beet Greens and Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a good source of vitamin B6, which helps your body absorb the magnesium found in beet greens (B6 helps facilitate the transfer of magnesium across cell membranes). These nutrients work together in the body to ease the symptoms of PMS and ADHD.

Green Tea and Lemon

The vitamin C in lemon makes more of the catechins (a type of antioxidant) in green tea available to your body.

Banana and Yogurt

Bananas contain inulin, which research indicates fuels the growth of yogurt’s healthy bacteria (which helps regulate digestion and boost immunity).

Apples and Cranberries

These Thanksgiving staples are rich in a wide variety of antioxidants such as quercetin and anthocyanidins. Research shows that when you eat these foods together, their antioxidant activity is significantly higher than if you eat them separately.

Chicken and Carrots

Chicken contains zinc, which is what your body needs to efficiently metabolize the beta-carotene in carrots into vitamin A, a nutrient you need for healthy skin and eyes and a strong immune system.

Fish and Broccoli

Fish contains the mineral selenium and broccoli is rich in a disease-fighting compound known as sulforaphane. Research shows that selenium and sulforaphane together are 13 times more effective at slowing cancer cell growth than when eaten alone.

Whole-Grain Bread and Peanut Butter

Together, these two foods contain all nine of the essential amino acids that your body needs to build bones, muscles and hormones.

Broccoli and Pine Nuts

The vitamin C in broccoli helps keep the vitamin E in pine nuts effective.

Blueberries and Walnuts

Blueberries contain phytochemicals, known as anthocyanins, that protect the brain from oxidative damage and walnuts are a rich source of omega-3s that make you smarter. Research has shown that these compounds are even more powerful at sharpening memory and improving communication between brain cells when they work together.

Garlic and Onions

The organosulfur compounds in garlic and onions are more powerful in combination than solo. Together, they help remove plaque from arteries and keep blood vessels flexible and healthy.

Source: The Happiness Diet, published by Rodale, 2011.

Recipes for Some of These Nutritional Twins

 

Dark Chocolate Dipping Sauce

This warm, velvety sauce is naturally sweetened with honey or agave nectar. Use it to dunk slices of healthy fruits, such as apples, cherries, orange slices, raspberries, strawberries, bananas, dried apricots or pineapple. It also makes a rich-tasting topping for low-fat vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon cholesterol-free butter spread
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional)

Directions:

Cook the first 4 ingredients in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until mixture is smooth. Whisk in peppermint extract, if using. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate. Reheat before serving.

Italian Style Salmon with Braised Broccoli

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds wild Alaskan salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 4 portions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 heads broccoli (1-1 1/2 pounds), trimmed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons raisins
  • 2 tablespoons pine (pignoli) nuts
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

Season salmon with half the rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon salt at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour before cooking. Cut the broccoli into florets with 2-inch-long stalks. Remove the tough outer layer of the stalk with a vegetable peeler. Cut the florets in half lengthwise.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large wide saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add raisins, pine nuts and the remaining rosemary; toss to coat with oil. Cook, stirring, until the pine nuts are fragrant and beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss to combine. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the water has almost evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon, skinned-side up, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the salmon over, remove the pan from the heat and let stand until just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes more.

To serve, divide the broccoli among 4 plates. Top with salmon and spoon raisins, pine nuts and any liquid remaining in the pan over the salmon.

No Knead Anadama Corn Bread

Anadama Corn Bread is made with molasses, an unrefined sweetener that imparts much more flavor than white sugar. It rounds out the rough edges in the whole wheat used to boost the fiber and vitamin content of the bread.

Method is based on the procedure used in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables and Gluten-free Ingredients By Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (2 packets) granulated yeast
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 3 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • Water

Directions:

Whisk together the cornmeal, wheat germ, flours, yeast, salt and vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

Combine the water and molasses and mix them with the dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a food processor (with dough attachment) or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). You may need to get your hands wet to get the last bit of flour incorporated, if you’re not using a machine.

Cover (not airtight) and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next week.

On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece. Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

Allow the loaf to rest for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough), covered loosely with plastic wrap, on a pizza peel prepared with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper. Alternatively, you can let the loaf rest on a silicone mat or greased cookie sheet.

Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler pan on any other rack that won’t interfere with the rising bread.

Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top crust with water. Using a serrated knife, slash the loaf with two quarter-inch-deep parallel cuts.

Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone (or place the silicone mat or cookie sheet on the stone). Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler pan and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 30 minutes, until richly browned and firm.

If you used parchment paper, a silicone mat or a cookie sheet under the loaf, carefully remove it two-thirds of the way through baking (after 20 minutes), allowing the bread to finish baking on the baking stone. (Smaller or larger loaves will require some adjustments in resting and baking time.)

Allow the bread to cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Blueberry Tart with Walnut Crust

12 servings

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted (see Tip)
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (see Tip)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
  • Pinch of salt

Filling

  • 8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, divided
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries

Directions:

 You will need a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan.

Preheat oven to 325°F. 

To prepare crust:

Coarsely chop walnuts in a food processor. Add graham cracker crumbs, sugar and process until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.

Whisk egg white in a medium bowl until frothy. Add the crumb mixture, butter, oil and salt; toss to combine. Press the mixture onto the bottom and a 1/2 inch up the sides of the tart pan. Set the pan on a baking sheet. Bake until dry and slightly darker around the edges, about 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

To prepare filling:

Beat cream cheese, sour cream and 1/4 cup maple syrup in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth.

When the crust is cool, spread the filling evenly into it, being careful not to break up the delicate crust. Arrange blueberries on the filling, pressing lightly so they set in the filling.

Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup over the berries. Chill for at least 1 hour to firm up.

Tips

Make Ahead : Refrigerate for up to 1 day.

To toast walnuts, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F, stirring once, until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes.

To make crumbs, pulse graham crackers in a food processor or place in a large sealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. (You’ll need about 14 graham cracker squares to make 1 cup of crumbs.)

Homemade Peanut Butter

Below is a recipe for homemade peanut butter — 100 percent natural — that factors in the conventional peanut butter flavors that wowed the Cook’s Illustrated judges, but also boasts the natural goodness of freshly roasted peanuts. Pair it with the Andama Corn Bread for a Nutritional Twin.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound raw peanuts in the shells, roasted (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil

Directions:

Roast peanuts according to the instructions in Easy Roasted Peanuts in the Shell Recipe below. Opt for a longer roast if you want a robust, dark-roast-flavored peanut butter.

Allow the peanuts to cool slightly before shelling and skinning them by rubbing them between your fingers. (A dry salad spinner can help make quick work of spinning off the skins . Spin about a cup of peanuts at a time.)

Add the peanuts, salt, honey and molasses to a food processor and process for a couple of minutes, scraping the sides down every now and then. Continue to process, as you slowly add the oil in a stream, until the mixture is fully blended and smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should last 2 to 3 months.

Roasted Peanuts in the Shell

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound raw or green peanuts in the shells, rinsed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoonkosher salt

Directions:

Toss peanuts with oil and salt until well-coated.

Spread out onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 15 to 25 minutes (depending on how intense you want the flavor) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Shake the pan a couple of times during roasting to stir the peanuts. Watch carefully to prevent scorching. Let peanuts cool a few minutes before serving, as they will harden and become crunchier.

 


For easy summer meals, visit a local farm stand or farmers’ market and build your menu around what’s available right now, starting with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers or melons. They can make delicious main dish salads or they can be stuffed with tuna fish, egg salad or chicken salad. There is nothing more delicious than a Greek Salad with hummus and pita bread or topped with deli chicken or cooked shrimp. When fruits and vegetables are this perfect, you don’t need to do very much to them.

It’s summer and the living’s easy. So why spend any time in front of a hot stove ? You won’t have to with this dinner’s recipes, which require no baking, sautéing, frying or boiling.

This menu is also great for entertaining.

Some Summer White Wines for This Dinner

Sauvignon Blanc

The clean, light taste of a Sauvignon Blanc makes it one of the best summer wines. Whether this wine is drunk alone or paired with food, it makes a great refreshing summer wine. With its herbaceous qualities, it goes well with summer salads, light flaky grilled fish and shellfish. This white wine is also the best summer wine for pairing with tomato-based dishes. Sauvignon Blanc is also sometimes called Fume Blanc.

Riesling

A semi-dry Riesling with its slight sweetness is the classic grape of Germany and many of the best Rieslings originate there, however, you can find excellent domestic Rieslings from California and the Northwest.

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris is the white grape version of a Pinot Noir and makes one of the best all-around summer white wines. Some of the best Pinot Gris is from France, but in the United States look for an Oregon Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris is also called Pinot Grigio in some areas and is made from the same grape. The Pinot Gris from California is often called Pinot Grigio because of its similarity in style to the wine of Italy. Pinot Gris is fruity and citrusy with a slight mineral taste. Pairs well with seafood, summer pasta dishes, salads and grilled meats and vegetables.

Appetizer

Assorted Olives

Prosciutto and Pear Bites

Italian crusty bread.

 

Prosciutto and Pear Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 firm pear, such as D’Anjou
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 slices prosciutto

Directions:

Zest the lemon and stir the zest into the olive oil. Let sit while you prepare the appetizer.

Juice the lemon into a large bowl and add the two squeezed lemon halves into the bowl as well. Fill with cold water.

Core, quarter the pear and cut each quarter into 4 slices (16 slices total). Add each slice into the bowl of lemon water to prevent browning, while you cut the others .

Cut each prosciutto slice in half.

Drain the pear slices and wrap a piece of prosciutto around each. Drizzle with the reserved lemon-infused olive oil before serving.

Main Dish

Tomato Salad with Pickled Shrimp

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds assorted tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/3 cup diagonally sliced celery
  • Vinaigrette, recipe below
  • Pickled Shrimp, recipe below
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed celery leaves
  • Garnishes: lemon slices, fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Arrange tomatoes and sliced celery on a large chilled platter. Sprinkle with table salt and black pepper to taste. Drizzle with some of the Vinaigrette. Spoon Shrimp over tomatoes. Top with celery leaves. Serve with remaining Vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup spicy tomato juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

Whisk all the ingredients together. Start with 1/4 teaspoon of celery salt and taste the dressing. The tomato juice, you use, may be salty and you do not want to add too much. You can always add more.

Pickled Shrimp

Purchase shrimp cooked from the fish counter or deli.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1  1/4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound peeled, medium-size cooked shrimp
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Stir together lemon slices, onion, olive oil, vinegar, dill, parsley, Italian seasoning and garlic in a large bowl; transfer to a zip-top plastic freezer bag. Add shrimp, turning to coat. Seal and chill in the refrigerator 2 hours but no more than 6 hours. Remove shrimp, discarding marinade. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Side Dish

Black Bean Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1- 16 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped pimento or roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

Directions:

Combine beans, pimento or roasted red peppers, onion and parsley in a salad bowl.

Combine remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously. Pour dressing over beans. Mix gently and set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Dessert

Ginger-Mascarpone Icebox Cake

Pair with some bright-flavored fruit, such as blueberries or slices of mango or peach.

Serves twelve.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. gingersnap crumbs, about 2-1/4 cups (from about 40 Nabisco brand cookies)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 oz. light cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain lowfat yogurt
  • 2/3 cup sugar; more for the pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup minced candied (crystallized) ginger
  • 1 lb. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray or grease it lightly. Dust the pan with a little sugar and shake out any excess.

Combine the gingersnap crumbs and butter, rubbing them together with your fingertips to combine thoroughly. Sprinkle half of the crumbs over the bottom of the pan and pat down evenly; reserve the rest.

With an electric mixer, whip together the cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, vanilla and candied ginger until smooth, scraping down the sides. Add the mascarpone and heavy cream and whip until the mixture is thoroughly combined and just holds peaks. Don’t over whip or the mixture may separate.

Carefully spoon half of the mascarpone cream over the gingersnap crust, spreading it evenly to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle half of the remaining crumbs over the mascarpone cream in the pan.

Top with remaining mascarpone cream and finish with the remaining crumbs. Gently tap the pan on the counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, warm a sharp knife under hot water and dry it off. Cut one slice, clean the knife and warm it again before cutting the next slice.


Open Pit Mine – Mesabi Range

Italian immigrants began settling in Minnesota 200 years ago and at the beginning of the 20th century the largest concentrations were living on the Iron Range, in the Twin Cities, Duluth and Stillwater. Early arrivals tended to be from northern Italy. Railroad workers hired in Chicago and sent northward, took up residence in St. Paul and Minneapolis and later in other towns. Railroad jobs led others to Cumberland and Hudson in northern Wisconsin and many immigrants moved back and forth between these towns and the Italian communites in Minnesota.

First mined in the 1880s, the three ranges – the Vermilion, Mesabi and Cuyuna that make up Minnesota’s Iron Range – provided an economic core for northeastern Minnesota. They also drew waves of immigrant workers, creating the state’s most diverse melting pot and a distinctive cultural legacy that still defines the region. Although mining has declined since the 1960s, the mines and the tight-knit communities they fostered have developed a new industry focused on cultural-heritage tourism.

Hand drilling holes into boulders for setting explosives.

On the Mesabi, iron ore was originally mined both underground and in open pits above ground. Few skills were required. Many Mesabi Range miners were immigrants, recruited by mining companies, including the Oliver Iron Mining Company, a subsidiary of the United States Steel Corporation. From 1900 to 1980, the Mesabi Range contributed about sixty percent of the country’s total iron ore output. Production peaked in the 1940s, when more than 600,000 tons were shipped to serve the nation’s needs during World War II. Production remained high in the 1950s and then began to decline. It had taken less than 100 years for industrial demand to deplete the supply of high-grade ore.

Living and working conditions on the Iron Range were poor and mining companies openly discriminated against immigrant miners by giving them the most dangerous and lowest paying jobs. New immigrants were easily exploited because they did not speak English, had little money and were far away from their families and social support networks.

1918 Miners’ Homes

The history of the American labor movement is peopled by immigrants to this country. Finnish, Southern Slav and Italian immigrant laborers were prominent in labor movements in the logging and mining industries of Minnesota and its neighboring northern states of Michigan and Wisconsin. The Range, as the three ranges were jointly nicknamed, was a major site of strife between owners and laborers and a fertile field for labor organizing.

Picture

Miners were paid not for their time but for the amount of ore produced.

The Mesabi Range is where much of the strife occurred and where historic battles between labor and management were fought. Two strikes on the Mesabi — one in 1907 and another in 1916 — are legendary in the struggle for workers’ rights and fair wages. The 1907 strike was the first organized, widespread strike on the Iron Range. The immigrant miners had little experience with unions or large-scale strikes. Previous work stoppages had been unplanned reactions to localized problems. The Western Federation of Miners (WFM), an organization connected to several bloody, mining-related labor struggles, sent its first organizers to Minnesota in 1905 at the request of local activists. By June 1907 the WFM had organized fourteen locals. Although the union had been planning a strike, the immediate cause was the layoff in July of 200 union members by the Oliver Iron Mining Company. A strike was called on July 20 and, in early August, strikebreakers were brought in and “deputies” were hired to protect them. By mid-August, sufficient numbers of strikebreakers, combined with improved economic conditions, broke the strike. Despite minor hostilities between the strikers and the deputies, the strike was relatively peaceful.

Mining Camp

Forty miners walked off the job on June 3, beginning the 1916 strike. The unorganized miners soon realized they needed help. Unlike the 1907 strike, this time the Western Federation of Miners was not interested in organizing the miners. Instead, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) responded, sending in some of their top organizers. Many of the strikebreakers from 1907, ironically, became instrumental in the 1916 strike.The 1916 strike was marked by violence. The civil liberties of strikers were violated, mine guards and police used force to intimidate strikers, union leaders were jailed, economic pressure was exerted on merchants who extended credit to strikers and, finally, the Oliver Iron Mining Company refused to negotiate with the strikers. The strike was called off on September 17. The miners did win some important short-range reforms from the mining company, but the company’s anti-union attitude persisted for another quarter century. A more serious altercation occurred at the Stevenson Mine west of Hibbing, when laborers protested the discharge of an Italian foreman. The strikers, most of whom were Italians, Finns and Southern Slavs, reportedly harassed the “loyal employees” who wished to continue working. To reduce tensions, officials closed the local saloon and brought the county sheriff and 42 deputies to the scene. The presence of so many armed men quelled the “enthusiasm” of the strikers and within a week they were back at work.

Filomena D’Aloia (right) and Luciano Cocchiarella with homemade bread from an earthen oven

Today, there’s no better place to learn about the Range’s legacy than at the Ironworld Discovery Center in Chisholm. Interactive exhibits in this mining museum, set on the edge of an abandoned mine pit, include everything from the early geology of the region to the story of taconite (iron ore). Wall-sized pictures show the men and women from 43 nations who transformed a dense wilderness into an industrial society in less than 100 years. Mary Ellen Mancina-Batinich directed an oral history project called, Italian Voices, that collected interviews in the late 1970s with the men and women who emigrated from Italy to Minnesota. The interviews provide a window into the world of the ordinary Italian immigrants, ranging from iron miners, labor activists, women at home and at work, small businessmen and women and people from all walks of life. Just some ot the stories include: a boardinghouse keeper found her kitchen in a mess after Saturday-night revelry and refused to cook on Sunday; an iron miner pried frozen ore from his car in 40-below temperatures and a grocer who made sausage, brewed wine and foraged for mushrooms and dandelion greens to sell in his store.

A few more stories:

Jeno Paulucci was born on July 5, 1918 in Hibbing, Minnesota. He was born just a couple years after his parents immigrated to the Iron Range from a small mining town in northeastern Italy, called Bellisio Solfare. Jeno began his career selling olive oil door to door. During Prohibition, his family ran a speakeasy out of his family’s basement on the Iron Range. Jeno did all he could to help, even making most of the wine himself.

After this chapter in his interesting life, he moved to Duluth at the age of 16 and began a job bartering fruit and vegetables on First Street. Jeno enrolled in the Hibbing State Junior College’s pre-law program. However, he had an offer for a job selling wholesale products, and left his education without a second thought. On a sales trip with this company, he learned to grow Chinese bean sprouts, with which he decided to start his now worldwide company, Chun King Foods. Today, Jeno’s business is worth $450 million. Just 15 years ago he started yet another brand, Michelina’s frozen meals, named after his mother.

The Amato family’s pathway from southwestern Italy to Minnesota’s Iron Range is a long one. Their story is told through the recollections and documents of Melanina Amato Degubellis. In 1901, Giuseppe Amato and his two brothers came to northeastern Minnesota where they worked as miners. After years of saving in Italy, his daughter, Melanina and her mother, Concetta set out to join Giuseppe in Minnesota. However their inability to speak English got them lost on their journey. With the help of many Italians along the way, the family was reunited in Chisholm, Minnesota. While such a detour was exceptional, the importance of others during their journey was not.

Robert Mondavi

Founder the Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi’s parents emigrated from the Marche region of Italy and settled in the Minnesota city of Hibbing. Mondavi was born on June 18, 1913, in Virginia, Minnesota. His mother ran a boarding house for local Italian laborers and his father was the proprietor of a grocery store and later, a saloon. However, a Prohibition law was enacted in 1919, which outlawed the sale of beer and liquor, threatening Cesare Mondavi’s business. The law allowed for individuals to produce up to 200 gallons of wine though, so Mondavi’s father decided to become a grape wholesaler for the many Italian families who wanted to continue enjoying their traditional wine with meals. Cesare Mondavi’s business often took him to the West Coast. So, in the early 1920s, the family relocated to Lodi, California, south of Sacramento. 

These kinds of stories are what makes oral history interviews such compelling reading and, more importantly, provide information that would not necessarily be obtained elsewhere. The traditional historical accounts from working-class people are sparse, making the oral interviews even more crucial in trying to interpret the past of all Americans—not just those who left behind written records.

Pork is King on the Iron Range

Iron Range Porketta

Not to be confused with Italian porchetta, Iron Range porketta is a fennel-and-garlic-seasoned pulled pork originating in Minnesota. The pork butt is butterflied to speed up cooking and cutting a crosshatch in the surface of the meat ensures that the seasoning—a mixture of granulated garlic, crushed fennel seeds, salt, and pepper—will penetrate the meat. Before roasting, the meat is topped with sliced fresh fennel for a second layer of flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds, cracked
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 (5-pound) boneless pork butt roast, trimmed
  • 1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded, bulb halved, cored and chopped
  • 8 crusty sandwich rolls

Directions

1. Combine fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons pepper and garlic in a bowl. Butterfly pork and cut 1-inch crosshatch patterns, 1/4 inch deep, on both sides of the roast. Rub pork all over with spice mixture, taking care to work spices into the crosshatch patterns. Wrap meat tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 or up to 24 hours.

2. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Unwrap meat and place in roasting pan, fat side down. Spread chopped fennel evenly over the top of the roast. Cover ­roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil. Roast pork until temperature registers 200 degrees F. and a fork slips easily in and out of the meat, about 4 hours.

3. Transfer pork to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes. Strain liquid in the roasting pan through a fat separator. Shred pork into bite-size pieces, return to the pan and toss with a 1/2 cup defatted cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reheat gently. Divide meat among rolls and serve.

Prepping the Porketta

BUTTERFLY: Slice through the pork parallel to the counter, stopping 1/2 inch from the edge. Then open the meat flat like a book.

CROSSHATCH: Use a chef’s knife to cut a 1-inch crosshatch pattern 1/4-inch deep on both sides of the meat.

Italian Sausage with Pasta and Herbs

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups zucchini, cubed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 oz rotini pasta
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons dried herbs (basil, sage, parsley)
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Directions:

Cut sausage diagonally into one-inch pieces and cook in a large skillet over medium heat, brown evenly, about 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Heat olive oil in the same skillet and add zucchini and red pepper. Cook over medium heat until tender but still crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.

Cook the rotini according to package directions. Drain and reserve one cup of cooking water. Add pasta to the skillet with the vegetables and stir in ricotta.

Add 1/2 cup pasta water and stir until creamy. Stir in sausage. Add more water if mixture is too dry. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and Parmesan. This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.

Iron Range Pot Roast

This type of seasoned pork roast was popular with Italian immigrants who came to northern Minnesota to work in the iron mines, hence this recipe’s name.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb boneless pork shoulder roast
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch slices
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup beef broth

Directions:

Mix together seasonings (Italian through pepper) and rub over the entire pork roast.

Brown roast in a little oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, turning often to brown evenly. Place potatoes and garlic in 3½ to 4-quart slow cooker; pour broth over and top with browned pork roast. Cover and cook on “low” for 8 to 9 hours, until pork is very tender.

You can also brown the roast in a Dutch Oven, add potatoes, garlic and broth. Simmer on top of the stove for about 4 hours or until very tender. Recipe serves 6 to 8. 

Pork and Olive Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 1 (1 1/4-lb) pork tenderloin, “silverskin” removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 (1/2-inch-thick) baguette slices
  • About 1/3 cup green or black (or both) olive spread, also called olivada or tapenade
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Combine Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub all over pork. Add pork to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes.

Leave pork in skillet, place pan in the oven and roast, turning occasionally, until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in center of the pork reads 145 degrees F. about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove pork to a platter and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes.

Reheat skillet over medium-high heat. Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits in the pan with wooden spoon. Cook until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Slice pork crosswise into 24 slices. For each bruschetta, place one pork slice on each baguette slice. Top with about 1/2 teaspoon olive spread and drizzle with pan juices. Serve warm.

This recipe serves eight (3 bruschetta each).

Read About Life On the Iron Range

New York Times best selling novelist, Adriana Trigiani’s novel, The Shoemaker’s Wife, captures the immigrant experience of the early 1900′s. Much of the novel takes place on Minnesota’s Iron Range.


Celebrate summer with desserts made with fresh fruit. Cutting back on high-fat, sugar-laden treats, like cakes, pies and brownies is a good idea, but no one wants to skip dessert all the time. Fresh melon chunks, sliced peaches, papaya and ripe berries give your meal a nutritional bonus and satisfies the sweet tooth. Here are some ideas for combining summer fruits with low-fat ingredients to make dessert special- go heavy on the fruit and light on the extras to keep it nutritious.

Summer favorites like cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon are sweet, juicy and flavorful enough for dessert right off the vine. Adding a scoop of sorbet or sherbet to a melon wedge along with a splash of raspberry syrup or lime juice turns fresh melon into a tasty dessert. Melons are virtually fat-free, low in calories and provide a good source of vitamins A and C. With only 50 calories per cup of melon cubes, they’re a nutritional bargain.

Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries signify the peak of summer sweetness. Take advantage of their vibrant color and flavor to jazz up any fruit salad, or top a dish of mixed berries with a scoop of vanilla yogurt or whipped topping for a healthy treat. Sprinkled over frozen yogurt or layered with low-fat pudding they make a beautiful and great-tasting sundae or parfait. Berries average about 60-80 calories per cup. They’re an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber.

For a quick, appealing dessert surround a wedge of angel food cake with slices of fresh peaches or nectarines. Add a small scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt and top with fresh berries and a drizzle of lowfat chocolate syrup. Peaches and nectarines have only 50-65 calories each. They provide vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber.

The key to including dessert is to enjoy a treat without overloading on calories, fat and sugar. As with many things in life, moderation is key, so you’ll need to stop yourself before you overindulge. Try sensible portions; you can eat 1 slice of pie and still be in your calorie range for the day.

Not every chocolate cake or banana nut muffin is created equal. Look for desserts without a lot of butter, sugar or creamy frosting. Since feeling guilty can ruin a good meal, try some healthy alternatives instead of your “regular” desserts.  I have included a few in this post for you to try.

Desserts for everyday:

  • Low fat cookie
  • Frozen 100% juice bar
  • Fresh berries with low fat topping
  • A one ounce piece of chocolate
  • Frozen grapes
  • Angel food cake
  • Pudding made with skim milk
  • Low fat ice cream or sorbet
  • Fruit salad
  • A fresh fruit smoothie

Some tips to baking healthy desserts:

  • Egg substitutes or egg whites instead of whole eggs.
  • Use applesauce or prune puree to replace half the oil or butter when baking to add moisture into your cakes and breads without adding more fat.
  • Less sugar. A lot of recipes call for much more sugar than is needed. Cut back by 1/3. Sugar altenatives for baking are a good option also. You might even like it better.
  • Fruit-based desserts. Although you still have to be careful, these desserts often have less calories and fat than other desserts.

Baked Peaches and Blueberries with Pecan Topping

Pecan halves form a top crust and provide crisp contrast to the soft fruit. Serve warm or chilled, on its own or with a scoop of ice cream.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh berries, picked over and rinsed
  • 9 cups (loosely packed) peeled, pitted and sliced ripe peaches
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca (granulated or instant)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

Topping:

  • 1  1/4 cups rolled (old-fashioned-not instant) oats
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1  1/2 cups pecan halves

Directions:

Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F.

In a large bowl, mix together the blueberries and peaches (plus any juices they’ve released), tapioca, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish.

Combine the oats, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Distribute the pecans on top of the fruit in the baking dish and sprinkle the oat mixture over the nuts.

Set the pan on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch spills if the fruit bubbles over.

Bake until the fruit is tender and the juices are thickened and bubbly, 35 to 45 minutes. If the nuts begin to get too dark before the fruit is done, cover the top loosely with aluminum foil.

Set on a rack and cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Frozen Raspberry Tart

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup dark chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 cups fresh raspberries
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup sugar or sugar alternative for baking
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries, strawberries, and/or blueberries

Directions:

Coat a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray; set aside.

For crust:

In a small bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared tart pan. Set aside.

For filling:

Place raspberries in a food processor or blender. Cover and process or blend until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to extract as much of the mixture as possible (you will need about 1 cup). Discard the solids.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating about 3 minutes more or until stiff and glossy peaks form (tips stand straight).

Add about one-fourth of the egg white mixture to the raspberry mixture, whisking until smooth. Add the lightened raspberry mixture to the egg white mixture in the bowl. Using a whisk, gently fold together until no white streaks remain. Pour filling into crust; smooth the top. Cover and freeze for 8 to 24 hours.

To serve, let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the sides of the tart pan. Cut into wedges. Garnish with fresh berries.

Almond-Tangerine Panna Cotta

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate or cranberry juice
  • 1/2 cup tangerine sections (3 to 4 tangerines)
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh cherries

Directions:

Place four 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins in a shallow baking pan; set aside.

In a small saucepan stir together 3 tablespoons sugar and gelatin. Stir in milk. Heat over medium heat until gelatin is dissolved, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Whisk in yogurt and 1/4 teaspoon of the almond extract until smooth. Pour mixture into custard cups. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours or until set.

For sauce:

in a small saucepan stir together 1 tablespoon sugar and cornstarch. Stir in pomegranate juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in tangerine sections, cherries and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Cool.

To serve:

Immerse bottom halves of custard cups in hot water for 10 seconds. Using a small sharp knife, loosen panna cotta from sides of cups. Invert a serving plate over each cup; turn plate and cup over together. Remove cups. Serve panna cotta with sauce.

Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Yield: 36 bars

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup reduced fat butter alternative, such as Smart Balance
  • 1-8 ounce package light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar or sugar alternative for baking
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Powdered sugar (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan and spray foil with cooking spray; set pan aside.

In a small saucepan stir together the 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and the cornstarch. Stir in blueberries and orange juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and set aside.

For crust:

In a large mixing bowl stir together the 2 cups flour and the powdered sugar. Cut in the butter alternative until fine crumbs form and mixture starts to cling together (mixture will still be crumbly). Pat mixture firmly into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in an electric mixer bowl beat cream cheese, the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the 1 tablespoon flour until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Pour over hot baked crust, spreading evenly. Spoon blueberry mixture in small mounds over the cheese layer. Use a thin metal spatula or table knife to marble the mixtures together.

Bake for 20 minutes more or until center is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Remove uncut bars from pan by lifting foil to a cutting board.

Cut into bars and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 days. If desired, sift powdered sugar over bars just before serving.

Lemon-Cornmeal Pound Cake with Berries and Cream

16 servings

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar or sugar alternative for baking
  • 8 tablespoon butter or reduced fat butter alternative, softened
  • 3 large eggs or 3/4 cups egg substitute
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large egg whites
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour for the pan

Topping:

  • 1  1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1  1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, optional
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 10-inch tube pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flour.

To prepare cake:

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine flour with the next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl.

Combine 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until blended; stir in lemon zest and vanilla.

Combine buttermilk and 3 tablespoons lemon juice in a small bowl or measuring cup.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl; beat at high speed using clean, dry beaters until stiff peaks form. Gently fold half of the egg whites into batter. Gently fold in remaining egg whites.

Spoon batter evenly into prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare topping:

Combine berries, honey and lemon juice. Chill 30 minutes.

Beat cream, if using, with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Serve cake with berries and cream.


grillingkabebsreplacement

Some Helpful Tips When Grilling With Skewers

Tools:

  1. Tongs that are long enough to keep hands safely away from the grill but short enough for easy handling. The tongs are also useful to hold a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil to coat the grill grates.
  2. A good grill brush with a long handle to clean the grill thoroughly.
  3. Skewers: there are many choices, including round or flat wooden sticks, double-pronged skewers, metal baskets and more. The most-common and least-expensive option is the round or flat wooden skewers.

Bamboo/Wooden Skewer

Double Pronged Metal Skewer

Skewer Tips:

  1. Metal skewers are sturdy and reusable but get hot; it’s safest to remove food before serving. To serve on skewers, choose disposable wood; they can burn, though, so they need to be presoaked.
  2. When using metal skewers, leave a little space between pieces of food so the metal will heat, speeding up the cooking time. With wood, make sure the food pieces are lightly touching, to protect the wood from the flame.
  3. Before grilling with wood skewers, either soak them in water for at least 10 minutes or cover the tips in foil. Another option: Fold a piece of heavy-duty foil in thirds, place it on the edge of the grill and rest the ends of the skewers on the foil so they don’t burn.
  4. If you are using wooden skewers, especially round ones, try using two sticks per kabob. This will add stability to the kabobs, which can be heavy, and make it easier to turn them while grilling.
Circular Skewers

Circular Skewers

Cooking Tips:

  1. Cut the food in pieces that are the same size and thickness so they will get done at the same time.
  2. Alternate protein pieces with fruits or vegetables, as this enhances the flavor combinations.
  3. If you are cooking foods that require different lengths of time to cook properly, try skewing all the protein on 1 skewer and the vegetables on the other. For example, if you’re cooking chicken that takes 10 minutes versus tomatoes, which take only 2 or 3 minutes, put them on different skewers. This will allow you to cook each set of ingredients properly without over or under cooking the other.
  4. Turn the kabobs frequently during cooking to allow all sides to cook evenly. As a general rule, most kabobs require approximately 10 minutes to cook, which is 2.5 minutes on each of the 4 sides.
  5. Use a fork to easily slide the food from the skewers when it is time to serve the kabobs and don’t forget to hold the hot skewer with a pot holder.
  6. For additional flavor, try marinating your ingredients in a sauce for approximately 30 minutes before grilling. Popular marinades include teriyaki, sweet and sour, honey mustard or lemon garlic. You can buy ready-made marinades from your local grocery store or you can make your own.
  7. Throw away any leftover marinades after you remove the food. If you wish to serve a dip on the side, use a batch of marinade that did not touch the raw ingredients. This can prevent illness.

Shrimp and Fennel Kebabs with Italian Salsa

Serves 4

Italian Salsa

  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons capers, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Kebabs:

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 28 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut into 12 wedges
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 12 wedges
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

To prepare salsa:

Combine the salsa ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Set aside at room temperature.

To prepare kebabs:

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Oil grill grates.

Combine 2 teaspoons oil and shrimp; toss to coat. Thread shrimp evenly onto 4 (12-inch) skewers. Thread 3 fennel wedges and 3 onion wedges alternately onto each of 4 (12-inch) skewers. Brush vegetables with remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Sprinkle shrimp and vegetables with salt and pepper.

Place vegetable skewers on the grill rates and grill vegetables 12 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally. Place shrimp on the grill and cook shrimp 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until done. (Shrimp turn a light pink when cooked)  Serve with salsa.

Summer Pork Kabobs

This recipe also works well with chicken.

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless pork loin chops, 3/4 inch thick (1 lb)
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into 12 (1-inch) pieces
  • 8 medium mushrooms
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 12 pieces
  • 1/2 cup low sugar apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Directions:

Heat gas or charcoal grill and oil grill grates. Sprinkle pork chops with seasoned salt; cut each chop into 4 pieces. Alternately thread pork pieces, zucchini, mushrooms and bell pepper equally onto each of 4 (12- to 14-inch) metal skewers.

In small bowl, mix preserves and vinegar.

When the grill is heated, place kabobs on a gas grill over medium heat or on a charcoal grill over medium coals. Brush kabobs with preserve mixture; cover grill. Cook 5 to 7 minutes.

Turn kabobs; brush with preserve mixture. Cook covered 5 to 7 minutes longer or until pork is no longer pink in the center. Meat Thermometer should register 160°F.

Grilled Vegetable Kabobs

8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 medium yellow squash
  • 1 red and 1 green bell pepper, seeded
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 8 ounces fresh whole mushrooms
  • 2 medium ears sweet corn
  • Olive Oil cooking spray

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions:

Cut zucchini, squash and bell peppers into 2-inch chunks. Cut red onions into wedges. Combine the cut vegetables with the tomatoes and mushrooms in a bowl.

Cut the corn into 1-inch pieces and cook in boiling water for 5 minutes. Add the cooked corn to the other vegetables.

Mix the vinegar, mustard, garlic and thyme in a measuring cup and pour over the vegetables. Mix well.

Heat gas or charcoal grill and oil the grates.

Thread vegetables on skewers. Place the skewers on the grill over medium heat.

Baste occasionally with extra sauce.

Grill 20 minutes, turning several times or until tender. Remove to a serving platter and pour any remaining sauce over grilled vegetables.

Pizza Chicken Kabobs

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb uncooked chicken breast tenders (not breaded)
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 package (8-oz size) fresh whole mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons Italian salad dressing
  • 1 teaspoon pizza seasoning or Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce (homemade or store bought)

Directions:

Heat gas or charcoal grill and oil the grates.

On each of two 12-inch metal skewers, thread chicken, bell pepper and mushrooms alternately, leaving 1/2-inch space between each piece. Brush kabobs with salad dressing and sprinkle with pizza seasoning.

Grill kabobs, covered, over medium heat 9 to 11 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in the center (160 degrees F. on a meat thermometer.). Remove to a serving platter and sprinkle with cheese.

Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan, heat pizza sauce over low heat. Serve kabobs with warm sauce for dipping.

Rosemary Swordfish Skewers with Sweet Pepper Salad

Use a colorful assortment of bell peppers in this salad.

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 small assorted sweet peppers, 2 sliced into 1/4” rounds, 2 cut into strips
  • 1/2 small onion, cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced, soaked in ice water
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 4 ounces arugula (about 8 cups loosely packed)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound 1”-thick swordfish steaks, trimmed, cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 4 bamboo skewers (soaked in water for 1 hour before using) or 4 metal skewers

Directions:

Build a medium fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Oil the grill grates.

Bring oil and garlic to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until garlic is toasted and light golden brown, about 6 minutes (remove from heat if garlic is cooking too quickly). Pour oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl and let cool. Discard garlic.

Combine peppers, onion, jalapeño, vinegar and 1/4 cup garlic oil in a large bowl. Add arugula; toss to coat. Season salad with salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Place an equal number of swordfish cubes on each of  4 skewers. Brush fish with remaining garlic oil; sprinkle with rosemary and season with salt and pepper.

Grill swordfish until opaque in the center and lightly browned in spots, about 2 minutes on each of the 4 sides.

Divide salad among 4 plates. Place a skewer atop each. Garnish with lemon quarters.


Gelato is that dense, super-rich, intensely-flavored Italian version of ice cream. There’s really nothing else quite like it.

Gelato is a delicacy that dates back thousands of years. The earliest beginnings of frozen desserts are recorded in 3000 B.C. when Asian cultures discovered they could consume crushed ice with flavorings. Five hundred years later, it became a custom for Egyptian pharaohs to offer their guests a cup of ice sweetened with fruit juice. Italians joined in as the Romans began the ritual of eating the ice of the volcanoes, Etna and Vesuvius, and covering it with honey.

It was during the Italian Renaissance, when the great tradition of Italian gelato began. The famous Medici family in Florence sponsored a contest, searching for the greatest frozen dessert. A man named Ruggeri, a chicken farmer and cook in his spare time, took part in the competition. Ruggeri’s tasty frozen dessert of sweet fruit juice and ice (similar to today’s sorbet) won the coveted award. The news of Ruggeri’s talent traveled quickly and Caterina de Medici took Ruggeri with her to France. Caterina was convinced that only he could rival the fine desserts of French chefs – and had him make his specialty at her wedding to the future King of France.

Caterina de Medici

In the late 1500’s, the Medici family commissioned famous artist and architect, Bernardo Buontalenti, who was also known for his culinary skills, to prepare a beautiful feast for the visiting King of Spain. Buontalenti presented the King of Spain with a visually pleasing, creamy frozen dessert that we now call gelato. Buontalenti is considered the inventor of gelato.

But it was Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, a famous restaurateur, who made gelato famous all over Europe. Procopio moved from Palermo to Paris and opened a café that soon became the hub for every novelty, from exotic coffee, to chocolate, to a refined gelato served in small glasses that resembled egg cups. The Procope, as the café was known, soon became hugely successful and gelato spread throughout France and into other parts of Europe.

Gelato made its way to the Americas for the first time in 1770, when Giovanni Basiolo brought it to New York City. At this point, there were two types of gelato – one made by mixing water with fruits such as lemon and strawberries (also known as Sorbetto), and another made by mixing milk with cinnamon, pistachio, coffee or chocolate. By 1846, the hand-crank freezer was refined and changed the way Americans made this frozen dessert. The freezer kept the liquid mixture constantly in motion and kept it cool throughout, making a product that was no longer granular, but creamy. This is where the history of industrial ice cream began, as the product contained more air and was less dense. Gelato did not make a name for itself in the U.S. until the late 1900’s – although its popularity still had a long way to go.

The process of making gelato has evolved over thousands of years. In the beginning, gelato was made with a few simple ingredients. Egg yolks were used as the main stabilizer and were added to other raw ingredients, such as sugar and milk (sometimes water for sorbetto), heated in a large pan/bowl and then chilled. Flavor ingredients (fresh fruit, nuts, chocolate, etc.) were then added and the gelato was batched. Batching gelato is also known as the process in which the gelato is frozen and air is incorporated into it to give it its dense, smooth texture. This tedious old fashioned process only allowed gelato makers to be able to make a maximum of 4 or 5 traditional flavors and the shelf life was not long. Few gelato makers still use this process, as technology has redefined the traditional gelato making process without compromising taste and flavor.

1906 Gelato Makers

At the turn of the 21st century, a new way to make gelato, known as the Hot Process, was introduced. Widely used today, the Hot Process involves the use of a pasteurizer, which heats the gelato ingredients up to 85°C/185 F for 5 seconds and then drops the temperature to 5°C/41 F. This controlling of the process allows for stabilizers and emulsifiers to perform properly and creates a microbiologically safe mixture.

After the going through the pasteurizer process, the gelato is placed in a batch freezer. Here, the mixture is quickly frozen, while being stirred, to incorporate air that produces small ice crystals necessary to give gelato a smooth, creamy texture with a satisfactory percentage of air. There are some gelato machines that contain both a pasteurizer and a batch freezer, which can simplify the process. The Hot Process is generally used for gelato because it can allow for more flexibility in the customization of a recipe and offers a slightly longer shelf life than all of the other processes.

In the 1980’s, the Cold Process was developed to provide a simpler gelato making process. The ingredients used in the Cold Process are already microbiologically safe which eliminates the need for a pasteurizer – not only saving gelato shops costs, but also space, as it is one less piece of equipment. In the Cold Process, the raw ingredients are mixed with a Cold Process base and flavor, and placed directly in the batch freezer, where the gelato is batched and prepared for serving. While the shelf life is slightly less than the Hot Process, the Cold Process is the answer to the gelato makers’ need for a process that achieves a greater amount of gelato in a quicker timeframe without compromising taste. 

While the gelato market continues to develop, the needs of the gelato maker have continued to grow and/or change. The Sprint Process is the newest process to make its way into the industry, offering an even easier and quicker way to produce gelato without the intervention of a skilled gelato master. The Sprint Process is simple; add a liquid ingredient (water or milk) to a prepackaged mixture containing all of the raw ingredients including, flavors, stabilizers and emulsifiers. Then, the mixture is poured into the batch freezer. The Sprint Process allows little room for error and provides complete consistency in flavor every time. For gelato shop owners producing large varieties of flavors in a short period of time, the Sprint Process works best. On the downside, the Sprint Process doesn’t leave much room for flavor experimentation and creativity.

Regardless of the process used, when the gelato has completed its cycle in the batch freezer, the next step is extraction into the gelato pan. Here’s where the difference in presentation between gelato and American ice cream reveals itself. Gelato is extracted using a spatula, rather than an ice cream scooper. The spatula helps to create creamy waves of gelato that are visually appealing in the display case and truly give gelato its artisanal feel.

In some instances, gelato makers do not immediately serve their gelato, but utilize a blast freezer. The blast freezer contributes to the life of the gelato by freezing it at a lower temperature than a standard freezer. This also helps it maintain its artisanal presentation.

 

The final step in all gelato processes is decoration. Here the gelato maker can add to the gelato texture, flavor and appearance by adding toppings and fillers (also known as Arabeschi®).

Home Gelato Maker

Making Gelato At Home

Thankfully, we don’t have to travel all the way to Italy every time we crave a scoop. Mario Batali shared a few tips on how to make gelato successfully at home.

• Use Whole Milk – Batali points out that cream tends to coat the tongue and mute the taste of other ingredients. Whole milk delivers cleaner and more vibrant flavors.

• Look for Overripe Fruit – Overripe fruit might not be great for eating, but they’re fantastic for delivering intense fruit flavor in gelatos. Here’s where to use those last few bruised peaches or the slightly-shriveled cherries.

• Under-Churn the Base – Gelato is supposed to be less airy than American ice cream and should actually end up fairly dense. Batali recommends stopping the ice cream machine when the mix looks like a thick custard and then freezing.

Italian Pistachio Gelato

Yields: 1 quart

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Pistachio Cream (see recipe below)

Directions:

In a small bowl combine 1 cup milk, cornstarch and sugar. Using a wire whisk, combine the ingredients until the cornstarch is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

In a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 3 cups milk and the vanilla extract. Stirring occasionally, heat the mixture to almost a boil; stir in the cornstarch mixture and let simmer from 5 to 8 minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, preferably overnight.

Prior to using the custard mixture, pour the chilled custard through a strainer into a mixing bowl to clear out any clumps that may have formed. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Prepare the Pistachio Cream (see below).

Whisk the prepared chilled Pistachio Cream into the strained and chilled custard. The gelato mixture is now ready for the freezing process.

Transfer the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions, remembering Batali’s recommendation to under churn.

When the gelato is done, either serve immediately or transfer to freezer containers and freeze until firm.

Pistachio Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup hot water 
  • 7 to 8 ounces raw unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Directions:

In a medium-size saucepan, bring water to a boil.

Place the pistachio nuts, sugar and olive oil in a food processor. Blend/process, adding the hot water (1 tablespoon at a time to control the consistency of the cream) until pistachios are a smooth, creamy consistency that blends freely in the blender (You may not need all of the hot water).

NOTE: Stop the processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during this process.

When done, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes approximately 1 cup.

Chocolate Gelato

Chocolate Gelato

Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped

Directions:

Bring 2 1/4 cups milk just to a boil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat. While milk is heating, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and 1/4 cup (cold) milk in a bowl until smooth, then whisk into boiling milk and bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking. Boil, whisking frequently, 3 minutes (mixture will be very thick). Remove from heat.

Place choclate in a bowl. Bring remaining 1/2 cup cold milk to almost a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat and then pour over the chocolate in the bowl. Let stand until chocolate is melted, about 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Stir into the cornstarch-milk mixture and force through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cool slightly, stirring frequently to prevent a skin from forming, then cover with wax paper directly on the surface of the mixture and chill until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours (overnight is even better).

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker, then transfer to an airtight container and freeze until hardened, about 3 hours. Let soften 5 minutes before serving.

Note:  Gelato keeps 1 week.



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