Easy Homemade Jam
This is a basic jam recipe and it works with any fruit (other than citrus). You can make jam with whatever fruit grows well where you live. In each season, use the best fruit you can find.
Work in small batches. Three pounds of fruit will yield close to 2 ½ pints of jam. If you want more jars, make two small batches rather than one double batch. The quality of the jam will be much better.
You don’t need to process the jars in a boiling water bath for this recipe. Just store the jam in the refrigerator, where it will last for weeks.
You can also store the jam in the freezer. The Ball Company now makes great containers to store the jam in for the freezer.
The unprocessed homemade jam will not make you ill, because most jams are made from high acid fruits which are not susceptible to botulism.
I made Blackberry Jam using this recipe. It is definitely worth making because the jam has such a fresh and distinct blackberry taste. Not at all like processed jam.
For 2 1/2 pints
- 3 pounds ripe fruit, such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, plums, etc.
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 lemon
Clean and cut the fruit as you would for making a fruit salad or fruit pie. For example: remove the caps from strawberries and cut into quarters; or peel, pit and slice peaches into pieces; or trim rhubarb and chop it into chunks.
Using a potato masher, crush the fruit until soupy. Measure this puree and note the quantity. Put the puree in a wide, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot.
The puree should be no more than 1 inch deep in the bottom of the pot. I placed half of the blackberry puree in a strainer to remove the seeds before proceeding with the recipe.
For every two cups of fruit puree, add to the pot one scant cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Stir to combine and taste. Very tart fruit (such as sour cherries, some plums or blackberries) might need a little more sugar. Very sweet fruit (such as white peaches) might need a little more lemon juice. Adjust to taste.
Bring the fruit-sugar mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. After it boils, continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 12 to 14 minutes, or until thickened.
Check the consistency by turning off the heat and putting a spoonful of hot jam on a chilled saucer in the freezer for one minute.
When ready, the cold jam will form a light skin that wrinkles when you push your finger through it and it will cling to the saucer when you tilt the saucer upright.
If the cold jam is too runny, bring the pot back to a boil for another minute or two, stirring constantly, then check the set again.
When the jam is set, ladle it into clean half-pint jars or other air-tight containers. Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Fresh Strawberry Syrup
Delicious over pancakes, cheesecake, ice cream or crepes.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1-pint strawberries, stems and leaves removed
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Place sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat; stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar is completely dissolved.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely. Place half the berries in the jar of a blender; add the syrup. Puree until smooth and pass through a fine sieve or colander.
Chop remaining berries; stir into the strawberry puree. Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days or freeze in small containers.
Makes 12 – 15 muffins depending on the size of your muffin pan.
- 2 1/4 cups (9 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) fresh blueberries
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons butter
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F and either lightly grease 12 -15 muffin cups or use paper liners and spray the insides of the papers.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a hand-held or stand mixer, until light and fluffy and almost white in color.
Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix until incorporated.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed just until the batter is smooth. Fold in the berries by hand.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, using 1/4-cup for each muffin.
To make the topping:
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over the muffins.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center, comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a wire rack.
Summer Fruit Salad
Use summer fruits that are in season. I used about 6 cups of cut fruit in this recipe.
Fruit, sliced or cut into cubes
Mint-Lime Simple Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
For the syrup:
Stir together the sugar and mint and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the lime juice, and cool 30 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into an airtight container. Cover and chill syrup 4 hours.
For the salad:
Gently toss together the fruit in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup Mint-Lime Simple Syrup, and gently stir to coat. Taste to see if the fruit needs more syrup.
Serve immediately, or cover and chill until serving time.
Peach Barbecue Sauce
This recipe makes one of the best tasting BBQ sauces I have made. It is especially good for grilled chicken.
Yields 4 cups.
- 2 cups peeled and chopped very ripe peaches, about 4 medium peaches
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoons 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 apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups tomato ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons butter, cubed and well chilled
Process peaches in a blender 1 minute or until smooth and pour into a medium saucepan. Add all the additional ingredients except the butter. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low.
Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick. With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a few cubes at a time, until incorporated. Refrigerate covered until needed.
Belluno is a province in the Veneto region of Italy and is almost entirely occupied by mountain areas. The climate is among the most severe in the Alps. The Belluno area is representative of a typical alpine environment and a people who are proud of their traditions passed down from generation to generation through experience and oral narrative.
Belluno is one of the most important industrial sectors of northern Italy. The production of eyeglasses (Luxottica), home appliances (Zanussi and others) and bathroom fixtures (Ceramica Dolomite, Ideal Standard) are major industries.
Luxottica Group S.p.A., an Italian company, is the world’s largest eye wear company and is a designer, manufacturer, distributor and retailer of eye wear. Leonardo Del Vecchio and two financial partners launched Luxottica in Agordo, Italy in 1961.
Luxottica is the owner of Lenscrafters, Sunglass Hut, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical and Target Optical. Its best known brands are Ray-Ban, Persol and Oakley. Luxottica also makes sunglasses and prescription frames for designer brands such as Chanel, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, Miu Miu, Donna Karan, Stella McCartney and Tory Burch. Luxottica produces more than 130,000 eyeglass frames each day from six factory sites.
The cultivation of beans in the Lamon highlands and the production of Piave cheese in the Dolomites are important to Belluno’s economy. Large scale dairy cattle breeding in Belluno, began centuries ago by small mountain owners and valley sharecroppers. In more recent times, the Belluno area, like many other mountain areas in Italy, was hit with a serious economic crisis. In order to deal with the socio-economic downfall, a local parish priest, suggested a new form of joint management and the first social cooperative dairy was organized.
Piave is an Italian cow’s milk cheese, that is named after the Piave river. As Piave has a Protected Designation of Origin (Denominazione di Origine Protetta or DOP), the only “official” Piave is produced in the Dolomites area in the province of Belluno.
Piave is a hard, cooked curd cheese, offered at 5 different ages:
Piave Fresco (20 to 60 days aging – blue label)
Piave Mezzano (61 to 180 days aging – blue label)
Piave Vecchio (more than 6 months aging – blue label)
Piave Vecchio Selezione Oro (more than 12 months aging – red label)
Piave Vecchio Riserva (more than 18 months aging – black label).
Piave cheese has a dense texture, without holes, and is straw-yellow in hue. It has a slightly sweet flavor. Once fully aged, it becomes hard enough for grating and it develops an intense, full-bodied flavor.
Piave’s rind is impressed repeatedly in a vertical direction with the name of the cheese. Piave is sold throughout Europe and even in the US as a hard cheese. Its taste resembles that of a young Parmigiano Reggiano. The red label is aged at least 1 year and is called Vecchio (Piave Vecchio Selezione Oro), while the blue label is softer.
Piave Broiled Tomatoes
Makes 2 – 4 servings
- 3 medium tomatoes, sliced into 1/4” slices
- 3/4 cup | 175 mL panko breadcrumbs
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon | 15 mL fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup | 150 mL Piave cheese, finely grated
- 1/4 cup | 60 mL olive oil
- 1 teaspoon each | 5 mL each fresh herbs like sage, basil and parsley, finely chopped
Place tomato slices on paper towels to drain. In a medium bowl combine panko breadcrumbs, garlic, sage and Piave Cheese; stir to combine.
Preheat the oven to broil.
Arrange tomato slices on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Equally sprinkle breadcrumb mixture onto each tomato; drizzle with olive oil and place under broiler.
Broil for approximately 3 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove from the oven, top with fresh herbs and serve.
Makes 2 rounds
- 1 pound Pizza Dough, divided in half
- 6 ounces Piave cheese, shaved, divided in half
- 12 very thin slices lemon, seeds removed, divided in half
- 1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced, divided in half
- 2 tablespoons small sprigs fresh rosemary, divided in half
- Freshly ground pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Place a pizza stone on the floor of a gas oven (remove racks) or the bottom rack of electric oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F for 1 hour.
Stretch half the dough into a large round on a wooden pizza peel.
Arrange half the cheese evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with half the lemon and onion slices. Sprinkle with half the rosemary and season with pepper. Drizzle with oil.
Turn the oven to broil. Align the edge of the peel with the edge of the stone. Tilt the peel, jerking it gently to move pizza onto the stone. When the edge of the pizza touches the stone, quickly pull back the peel to transfer the pizza to the stone. (Do not move the pizza once it is on the stone.)
Broil until bubbles begin to form in the crust, 3 to 4 minutes. Return the oven temperature to 500 degrees F and bake until the crust is crisp and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes more. (If not using the broiler, bake pizza for 10 to 15 minutes total.) Remove the pizza from the oven with the peel. Repeat with the second pizza. Slice and serve.
Piave Orzo with Peas and Asparagus
- ½ cup | 125 mL heavy cream
- 1 cup | 250 mL chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon | 5 mL lemon juice
- 2 teaspoon | 10 mL lemon zest, grated
- 1 ½ cups | 375 mL Piave Cheese, shredded
- 1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed into 2” lengths
- 1 ½ cups | 375 mL fresh or frozen peas
- 2 cups | 500 mL orzo | rice shaped pasta
- ¼ cup | 50 mL Italian parsley, chopped
- Additional shredded Piave cheese for garnishing
In a medium saucepan over medium heat bring cream, chicken or vegetable broth to a slow boil. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and Piave cheese, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring often, until the cheese is melted.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, add orzo and cook for approximately 5 minutes; add asparagus and fresh peas (add frozen peas the last two minutes of cooking), continue cooking until the pasta is al dente and the vegetables are tender – approximately 4 additional minutes.
Drain pasta and vegetables and return to pasta pot; stir in cream cheese sauce and parsley. Garnish with additional Piave cheese and serve.
Figs, Piave Cheese & Honey
- Wedge of Piave cheese
- 4 large figs
- Honey to drizzle, about 4 teaspoons
- 1 sprig of fresh mint leaves, optional
- Fresh cracked pepper
Cut the cheese in half and slice off the rind on both sides. Cut into 12-15 thin triangle slices.
Cut the top of the figs off and then into quarters. Place the Piave slices on a plate with the figs.
Sprinkle the cheese and figs with cracked pepper. Then, drizzle with honey – about a teaspoon on each fig – and garnish with fresh mint leaves, if using.
Serve on individual plates with a dessert fork and knife.
With summer comes summertime food: steaming corn-on-the-cob, burgers, barbecue, ice cream sundaes and crisp red watermelon wedges. It is also the time you can make certain summertime homemade foods that are not usually available at other times of the year, such as pickles, ice pops, green tomatoes and oven roasted tomatoes. These summer favorites will remind you of what time of year it is. What are your favorite foods to prepare in the summer?
Easy Homemade Pickles
Yields 2 quarts or 4 pints
This pickling technique is safe and very easy adapt. In addition to cucumber pickles, you can also use this recipe to pickle any sturdy vegetable including green beans, zucchini, carrots, celery, onions and beets. If you stick to the basic ration of one part 5 percent vinegar to one part water, you can season the pickling brine to taste. (Commercial vinegar contains 5% -20% acetic acid)
Salt is always a key component, both for flavor and because the salt helps to crisp the vegetables. Almost all pickle recipes contain spices and you can add any combination of black peppercorns, dill seed, coriander seed, cumin seed, mustard seed, allspice, mace, cinnamon or cloves.
Wash and trim the vegetables as you would for making a salad or a vegetable side dish. Cut them into bite-sized shapes you like—spears, sticks, chunks, rounds or chips.
You can pack the vegetables into storage containers with lids raw, blanched or cooked. Store the sealed containers in the refrigerator, where they will keep for weeks.
- 2-2 1/2 pounds fresh, firm vegetables, such as cucumbers, squash, green beans, etc.
- 2 cups 5-percent vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 whole garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed for quart jars, halved for pint jars
- 4-6 three-inch fronds of fresh herbs
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon whole-seed mustard
- 2 small dried red chili or slices of hot pepper
Trim and cut the vegetables.
Pack the vegetables snugly into 2 clean quart or 4 pint jars adding the garlic and fresh herbs at the same time. Then add the peppercorns, mustard seeds and hot peppers.
Combine the vinegar, water, salt and honey in a small pot. Bring to a boil and ladle the vinegar mixture over the vegetables to fill the jar. Seal the jars. Allow to cool overnight and then store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Creamy Fresh Blackberry Ice Pops
- 10 ounces fresh blackberries
- 2 cups vanilla frozen yogurt, softened
- 2 tablespoons honey
- One 6-piece ice pop mold
Place the blackberries into a blender or food processor. Cover and puree until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the blackberry puree through a fine sieve placed over a large bowl to strain out the seeds.
Add the softened frozen yogurt and honey to the strained blackberry puree and mix well. Pour into ice pop molds and freeze.
“Fried” Green Tomatoes
- 2 to 3 medium-sized green tomatoes
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Salt and pepper
Cut the tomatoes into thick slices and place them on paper towels to dry for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the flour in a shallow dish and add the seasoned salt.
Place the egg in a second shallow dish.
Place the panko crumbs to a third dish and add the paprika.
Sprinkle the tomato slices lightly with salt and pepper.
Dredge the tomato slices in flour, then egg and then in the panko crumbs to coat evenly.
Place on a greased baking pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, turning the tomato slices over and continue baking for 10 – 15 minutes more until the tomatoes are crispy.
Remove and cool on a wire rack.
If creole seasoning is not available in your area, you can make it. See the recipe below.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
- 1 tablespoon horseradish
- 1/2 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
Mix all ingredients together and whisk to combine.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. This sauce is also good with grilled fish.
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine and store in a jar with a tight-fitting cover.
Slow Roasted Summer Tomatoes
Slow roasting caramelizes and intensifies the flavor of the tomatoes. You can eat these “as-is” from the oven. They are also great served on crusty bread with a little olive oil or as a side dish. Perfect for adding to pasta, salads, sandwiches or used as a topping for crostini. Roasted tomatoes can be used in place of sun-dried tomatoes in recipes. They can also be frozen to be used at a later time.
- 4 pounds fresh vine-ripened plum tomatoes*
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- * Or as many tomatoes as you want to make. You can also use beefsteak tomatoes, heirloom and/or cherry tomatoes for this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty foil (be sure to line the baking pan because it catches the juices and helps with cleanup).
Wash and dry the tomatoes; cut out the stem core and discard. Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds, leaving as much pulp as possible.
If you are using large heirlooms, cut them into quarters or even eighths.
Place tomatoes, cut sides up, on the prepared baking pan. They can be placed closely together since they shrink considerably during baking.
Sprinkle garlic and olive oil evenly over the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake 6 to 8 hours or until the tomatoes are reduced in size but still retain their shape. They should have shrunk to about half their original size and still be moist.
The time the tomatoes take to cook will vary because of their size and moisture content, but they should be caramelized and crispy on the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool.
Roasted tomatoes will keep in an airtight container, 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator or up to 8 months in the freezer. Bring to room temperature before using.
Roasted Tomatoes in Olive Oil
- Slow-Roasted Tomatoes recipe (see recipe above)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Fresh basil leaves
- Thyme sprigs
Allow the Slow-Roasted Tomatoes to cool.
Clean and sterilize a 1-pint jar; set aside and let cool.
Layer the tomatoes in a jar with fresh basil leaves and some sprigs of thyme.
Pour olive oil in the jar until the tomatoes are covered by at least an inch or oil (the oil will seal the tomatoes for longer lasting). Store in the refrigerator.
Makes approximately 1 pint.
Cremona is a province in the Lombardy region of Italy and occupies the central section of the Padana Plain, so the whole territory is flat, without mountains or hills, crossed by several rivers and artificial canals, most of which are used for irrigation. The river Po, which is the longest Italian river, is a natural boundary adjoining the Province of Piacenza. The area is about an hour south of Milan by train.
The city of Cremona has a strong musical tradition. The cathedral, built in the twelfth century, provided a focus for musical activity and, by the sixteenth century, the town was the musical center of the region. Even now it attracts people to hear performances by ensembles and attend the many musical festivals and concerts. The city of Cremona is the birthplace of Stradivarius. The town became renowned for the violins and other musical instruments that were made here by many members of the Stradivari, Amati, Guarneri and Bergonzi families of luthiers, who were all prominent citizens of Cremona.
The principal economic resources of the province are agricultural. Rice is grown with the help of water drawn from the canals. Other crops include maize (corn) and barley and to a lesser extent, soya and sugar beet. Grapes are cultivated, wine is produced and there is also a silk industry. The farms in the province are some of the most productive in the country. Beef and dairy cattle are raised here. Beef serves as a main ingredient for local dishes and the milk is used to create traditional cheeses, as well as butter and cream. The area is famous for its food specialities, such as nougat (Italian: torrone) and mustard, the famed Mostarda di Cremona, a sweet and spiced fruit preserve, served with the classic stew called bollito misto.
Cremona’s location at the border of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna brings influences from both: charcuterie like cotecchino and salame; grana padana cheese; stuffed pasta specialties like marubini and tortelli di zucca and the tramezzini sandwich, made on spongy, white bread stuffed with ham, tuna, eggs and artichokes and slathered with mayonnaise.
Rice became known in Europe, after being imported from Egypt and west Asia. It was known to Greece (where it is still cultivated) by returning soldiers from Alexander the Great’s military expedition to Asia. Large deposits of rice from the first century A.D. have been found in Roman camps in Germany and the Moors brought Asiatic rice to the Iberian Peninsula in the 10th century. Records indicate it was grown in Valencia and Majorca. In Majorca, rice cultivation seems to have stopped after the Christian conquest, although historians are not certain.
Muslims brought rice to Sicily, where it was an important crop long before it is was grown in the plains of Pisa (1468) or in the Lombard plains (1475), where its cultivation was promoted by Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, and demonstrated in his model farms. After the 15th century, rice spread throughout Italy and then to France, eventually reaching all the continents during the age of European exploration. Rice is a main component in Italian cuisine.
Veal and Rice Croquettes
- 2 cups (440g/14 oz) short-grain rice
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup (50 g/l⅔ oz) grated Parmesan
- All-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Dry breadcrumbs
- 1 dried porcini mushroom
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 125 g (4 oz) minced veal
- 2 slices prosciutto, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 100 ml (3½ fl oz) white wine
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Cook the rice in boiling salted water for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain, without rinsing and cool.
Put the rice in a large bowl and stir in the egg, egg yolk and Parmesan. Stir until the rice sticks together. Cover and set aside.
To make Meat Sauce: Soak the mushroom in hot water for 10 minutes to soften, squeeze dry and finely chop.
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the mushroom and onion; cook for 2–3 minutes until soft. Add the meat and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes until browned.
Add the prosciutto, tomato paste, wine, thyme and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the parsley. Set aside to cool.
With wet hands, form the rice mixture into 10 balls. Wet your hands again, pull the balls apart and place 3 heaping teaspoons of the meat sauce in the center of each.
Remold to enclose the filling; roll in flour, beaten egg and then breadcrumbs. Chill for 1 hour.
Deep-fry the croquettes in oil, two at a time, for 3–4 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm while frying the remainder. Serve immediately.
Insalata di Riso
- 1/2 kilo / 1 pound of rice
- 1 jar Italian condiriso (or half cup of canned corn and some chopped green olives and cocktail onions), drained
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Juice of lemon
- Salt & pepper
- 3 cups chicken broth
Bring chicken broth and enough water to fill a pot large enough to cook all the rice, to boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. Add the rice and cook until tender. Drain.
While the rice is cooking, put the chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and lemon juice.
Add warm, drained rice to the vegetable mixture. Stir and let come to room temperature.
Taste and adjust for seasonings. Add as much pepper and lemon juice as you’d like.
Variations: You can add other herbs like basil and chives. Also add any other chopped raw vegetables, like zucchini or scallions, and/or tuna and feta cheese.
Risotto Ubriaco (Drunken Risotto)
Makes 4-6 servings
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons/30ml olive oil
- 1 cup/250ml smoked pork belly, diced into 1/2 inch (5mm) pieces
- 3 1/2 cups/875 ml carnaroli rice, unwashed
- 2 cups/500ml full-bodied red wine
- 6 cups/1.5L light chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons/30ml butter
- 4 tablespoons/60ml grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Heat the onion and garlic in the oil. Add the diced pork belly and stir to mix well.
Add the rice and toast it, stirring constantly to prevent sticking, for 2-3 minutes, until it is very hot but not browned.
Pour in the wine and simmer until the liquid is absorbed or evaporated.
Add the chicken stock, a ladleful at a time, letting the rice absorb most of the liquid before adding more stock until the rice is tender but firm.
Be careful toward the end not to add too much stock – the risotto should be creamy, not soupy. This process should take 16-18 minutes in total.
When the rice is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano; stir vigorously to fluff. Serve at once in individual bowls.
Italian Rice and Bean Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped fine
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 3 cups cooked or 2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern or cannellini white beans, drained
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth or stock
- 1 cup rice
- Grated Parmesan cheese
Cook rice according to package instructions.
While the rice is cooking, heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Add garlic, onion and celery and cook until soft, for about four minutes.
Add stock, tomatoes and seasoning and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer, stir in the beans and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in the cooked rice and serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese,
Radicchio and Fennel Risotto
- 1 litre (1¾ pints) vegetable stock
- 90 g (3½ oz) butter
- 225 g (8 oz) fennel, finely sliced
- 6 shallots, finely chopped
- 350 g (12 oz) arborio or carnaroli risotto rice
- 120 ml (4 fl oz) dry white wine
- 175 g (6 oz) radicchio, shredded
- Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
- 15 g ( ½ oz) fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 15 g ( ½ oz) fresh basil leaves, torn
- 75 g (3 oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra to serve if liked
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan and keep hot.
Melt half the butter in a large, deep frying pan, add the fennel and shallots and cook gently for 5 minutes, until tender.
Add the rice and stir well until it is covered with butter. Add the wine and shredded radicchio and season with pepper. Cook for 2 minutes or until the wine has evaporated.
Add a ladleful of hot stock to the rice and cook over a moderate heat, stirring, until it has been absorbed.
Continue adding the stock by ladle, stirring constantly, until it has all, or nearly all, been used and the rice is just tender. This should take about 18-20 minutes.
Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, parsley, basil, Parmesan and the remaining butter.
Cover and leave to rest for 1 minute, then stir again. Serve with more Parmesan if required.
Father’s Day can be a great day for the whole family. Plan a family event, getting everyone in the family together for a fun day. Since the weather is warmer and the days are longer, why not celebrate Dad’s special day outdoors with a delicious family BBQ? Of course, you will want to choose foods your Dad enjoys. The recipes I picked for this menu are easy to do and most of the preparation can be done a day before, so you have plenty of time to spend with Dad.
Beef & Shrimp Kebabs with Italian Salsa Verde
Serves 4 – Recipe is easily doubled.
- 12 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 pound filet mignon (beef tenderloin), cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons steak seasoning, divided (I like Pensey’s Chicago Seasoning)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 wooden or metal skewers 6 inches long
Soak wooden skewers in warm water for 30 minutes before using.
Place the shrimp in one bowl and add 1 tablespoon oil. Toss. Add 3/4 teaspoon steak seasoning and toss again.
Place the beef in another bowl and add 1 tablespoon oil. Toss. Add 1 1/4 teaspoons steak seasoning and toss again.
Thread the beef and shrimp on the skewers, alternating beef and shrimp.
Prepare an outdoor grill for moderate heat. Oil the grill grates. Place skewers on the grill and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until the steak is cooked medium rare and the shrimp turn pink, turning the skewers over once.
Italian Salsa Verde
- 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
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
To prepare the salsa verde: combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Set aside to let the flavors develop.
Summer Potato Salad
- 2 ½ lbs small to medium red potatoes
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup pickle juice from the jar
- 1/4 cup minced pickles
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- ½ cup finely diced sweet onion
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
Place the potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt in a large pot of water.
Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes.
When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and cut them into thick slices. Place in a bowl and pour the pickle juice over the warm potatoes and let sit for one hour.
Add the pickles, celery, onion and mayonnaise. Mix well. Add salt if necessary. Add the parsley and mix. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the salad for a few hours.
- 6 ears corn, husked and cleaned
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Cut the kernels off the cobs with a sharp knife.
In a large serving bowl, toss together the uncooked corn kernals, tomatoes, onion, celery, basil, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Refrigerate for several hours or overnight to allow the salad to marinate. Serve chilled.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
- Refrigerated pie crusts (or your favorite pie crust mix) for a double 9 inch pan, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon milk
In large bowl combine:
- 2 1/2 cups hulled, sliced strawberries
- 2 1/2 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour or other pie thickener
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Fit one pastry crust into a lightly greased 9 inch pie pan and place the pan on a baking sheet.
Add the fruit mixture and dot with the butter.
Cover with the top crust and flute the edges. Make several slits in the crust with a knife.
Brush the top crust with the milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until golden and the pie juice begins to bubble through the slits.
Let cool on the baking sheet (to catch the drips).
Summer is a wonderful time to entertain and enjoy the outdoors with your friends. Serving appetizers and drinks are a great way to entertain when it is hot. You want easy to prepare recipes so you are not in the kitchen for hours and you want to use simple, common ingredients that you usually have in your pantry or refrigerator. Below are a few of my easy to make suggestions.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the bread
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 2 large tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped oil cured Italian olives
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 1 baguette, cut diagonally into 1/4 inch-thick slices
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl; except the bread slices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Lightly grill the bread slices and then brush them with olive oil. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of the tomato mixture onto each bread slice and arrange on a serving plate.
Oven Fried Zucchini and Yellow Squash Rounds
- Olive oil cooking spray
- Homemade Marinara Sauce, (see recipe here)
- 2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
- 2 medium yellow squash, ends and neck trimmed
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ cups dried Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil, for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
Cut the squash into ¼ inch thick slices.
In a plastic bag, combine the flour, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs and milk together.
In another shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and cheese.
Place the squash slices in the bag with the flour and shake until they are coated.
Next, place each slice in the egg and then into the breadcrumb mixture.
Place the squash rounds on the prepared baking pan and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 10 minutes or until crispy.
Serve with warm marinara sauce.
- 4-ounces of cream cheese, quartered
- 1 heaping tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1 packed teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped pitted black and green Italian olives
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- Sea salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Toasted crostini, pita chips or crackers for serving
Place the cheese quarters in a medium container. Sprinkle the thyme, lemon zest, olives and sun-dried tomatoes over and around the cheese. Sprinkle the cheese with a little sea salt.
Pour the olive oil over the mixture. Squash the mixture with a fork and cover the container. Let the cheese marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Bring the cheese mixture to room temperature about 45 minutes before serving. Put the marinated cheese mixture into a serving dish.
Arrange crostini, pita or crackers around the dish with a couple of small knives for serving.
Serve with fresh celery, radishes, carrots and thin, crispy crackers.
Makes 8 servings.
- 8-ounces canned tuna
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup chopped red onion
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers, washed and drained
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, onion, parsley, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Place the tuna in a food processor and pulse to break it up.
Turn the speed to low speed and add the olive oil mixture, a little at a time, until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the mixture is smooth.
Pour into a small serving bowl and chill. Serve with fresh-cut vegetables and crackers on the side.
Brindisi, a province in the Apulia (Puglia) region of Italy, is dominated by vineyards, artichoke groves and olive trees. The province is also a major sailing port for the southern part of Italy and seafood plays a big role in its cuisine. In dining tn the area’s restaurants, you will notice an abundance of dishes from the sea. Mussels, white fish, prawns and octopus are just some of the items you can expect to find on the menu.
The region is well-known for orecchiette. A type of pasta whose name comes from its shape which resembles that of a small ear and is usually served with a simple (often spicy) red sauce. Fresh vegetables, tomatoes and peppery olive oil are easily the most common local ingredients. Fava beans, eggplants and bell peppers all find their way into pastas, gratins and stews. Stuffed aubergines, lamb and pea stew and turnip greens are a few popular dishes.
Great produce markets are plentiful and you will find, daily, fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood just waiting to be cooked. Olives are another essential food in the Brindisi area. You see them everywhere. Running wild along the dry countryside roads, the olive trees grow to massive sizes.
Some of the best values in Italian wine come from this sunny, dry region. Most of the wine is red, full-bodied and pairs well with a wide variety of foods. Producers have focused on making great red wines from local grapes like Negroamaro, Primitivo and Bombino Nero. The two most popular and widely available wines from the province are Salice Salentino and Primitivo.
Half of Italy’s olive oil is produced in the dry heat of the area. The warm climate and fertile soil make it easy to grow almost anything. It is surrounded by water on three sides allowing cool breezes off the Mediterranean to moderate vineyard temperatures.
Located in the province is Torre Canne, a famous health spa. Several streams feed into a small lake that, over the ages, has deposited mud that is now used for therapeutic purposes. Its water springs are touted to be good for kidney and liver illnesses While you enjoy the spa treatment, you can stay in a luxury hotel and visit the stunning local beaches.
Brindisi Fish Soup
- 1 1/2 lbs whole fish, large bones removed
- 3/4 lb squid
- 1/2 lb cuttlefish or octopus
- 1/2 lb mussels
- 8 oz clams
- 1/2 lb plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- Chili pepper, diced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 slices rustic bread, stale
- Parsley, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
Thoroughly wash all the fish and seafood. Cut the fish into large pieces and the squid and cuttlefish into small pieces.
In a large soup pot, saute the onion and celery in a few tablespoons of oil. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cuttlefish and squid and, after 10 minutes, the remaining fish and shellfish.
Add the chili pepper, cover the pan and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and sprinkle a handful of parsley and finely chopped garlic onto each serving.
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely minced, plus extra leaves for garnish
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 4 small eggplant
- 3/4 cup burrata cheese, cut into small pieces
In a small bowl, combine the oil, basil, shallots and vinegar.
In another small bowl, mix the chopped tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the basil mixture. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.
Trim the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Place them on a tray or a plate. Brush both sides of the eggplants with the remaining basil mixture and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Prepare a grill for direct-heat cooking over high heat. Place the eggplant on the grill. Cover and cook until tender, about 8 minutes per side. Don’t let them burn.
Using a metal spatula, carefully transfer the eggplant to warmed plates. Divide the cheese among the eggplant halves and spoon the tomato mixture over each. Garnish with extra basil leaves
Cardoons are members of the thistle family, as are artichokes, and bear a strikingly similar taste to them. Cardoons are quite fibrous and the fibers run lengthwise, like those in celery stalks, and must be stripped off. Once they have been cut, they darken quickly (like artichokes) unless put in water with added lemon juice.
- 2 pounds cardoons
- 1/2 cup pitted and chopped oil cured black olives
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 2 tablespoons capers in salt, well rinsed
- 3 anchovies packed in oil, minced
- Grated Pecorino cheese
- Bread crumbs
- Salt to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil
Wash and peel the outer layer of the cardoons, then cut them into 5 inch lengths. Cook them in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a small bowl combine the olives, parsley, capers and anchovies.
Place the cardoons in an oiled casserole baking dish and top with the olive and parsley mixture. Sprinkle enough grated cheese and bread crumbs over the top to cover.
Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.
- 12 oz (350 gr) orecchiette pasta
- 1 lb (500 gr) plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 hot chili peppers, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
- Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently sauté the garlic and chili peppers for one minute.
Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan with two tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until a sauce consistency is reached.
Add the chopped oregano with salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for a few minutes more.
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until it is al dente. Drain and toss with the sauce. Serve immediately.
Don’t let your herbs go wild in the garden or get moldy in the refrigerator. There are lots of way to incorporate them into your recipes.
A general guideline for using fresh herbs in a recipe is to use 3 times as much as you would use dried herbs.
Wash herbs when you are ready to use them. Shake off moisture or spin dry in a salad spinner. Pat off any remaining moisture with clean paper towels.
For most recipes, unless otherwise directed, mince herbs into tiny pieces. Chop with a chef’s knife on a cutting board or snip with a kitchen scissors.
Unlike dried herbs, fresh herbs are usually added toward the end in cooked dishes to preserve their flavor.
Fresh herbs can be stored in an open or a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator for a few days.
After washing, you can mince the herbs and place them halfway up in the sections of an ice-cube tray. Cover herbs with cold water and freeze until solid.
Transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag. Drop them into soups, stews and sauces as needed.
Some Other Ways To Use Herbs
If you love a big, green salad, add fresh herbs to the mix.
Add a big handful of fresh herbs to a basic mixture of equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil, stir and then remove from the heat. Once completely cooled, strain out the herbs (discard) and use the simple syrup to sweeten iced coffee or tea and cocktails.
Fresh herbs are a perfect in salad dressings and vinaigrettes. They round out the fatty and sharp flavors from the oil and vinegar.
Combine finely chopped herbs and room-temperature butter to make a spread that compliments bread or cooked meat or vegetables.
Summer Squash Chowder
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 medium zucchini and 2 medium patty pan squash, diced
- 1 large sweet (Vidalia) onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 8 cups Summer Vegetable Stock (corn cob stock) (recipe here)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels
- Sour cream for garnish
Heat the butter in a large saucepan or stockpot; add the garlic, celery and onion. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the squash and lightly salt the vegetables. Saute for an additional 5 minutes.
Add the stock and 1 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat and partially cover and cook for 25 minutes. Puree the soup with a hand immersion blender until smooth.
Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Stir in lemon juice, corn and herbs. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve in individual soup bowls topped with a tablespoon of sour cream.
Creamy Herb Dip
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
This makes a great party dip with lots of fresh summer vegetables and pita chips.
It is best to process all the ingredients in the food processor with the exception of the yogurt, for the best consistency.
Use either whole or low-fat Greek yogurt and mayonnaise (but don’t use nonfat).
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 medium shallot, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
- Salt and pepper to taste
Process mayonnaise, shallot, chives, basil and lemon juice in food processor until smooth. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and stir in yogurt. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover dip and refrigerate until thickened, at least 1 hour. (Dip can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 days.
Spaghetti with Clam and Herb Sauce
- 8 ounces spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 (6 1/2-ounce) cans chopped clams in broth
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon peperoncino (hot red-pepper flakes)
- 1/2 cup of white wine
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente. (or use the quick skillet method – see recipe here). Drain pasta and set aside.
Drain the clams over a large measuring cup. Set the clams aside. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of clam broth.
Heat oil in the same pan that the pasta was cooked in over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallots, herbs, hot pepper and a sprinkle of salt and cook, stirring as needed, until the shallots have softened.
Add wine and let it simmer for a few minutes. Add the clam broth and bring to a boil. Add the cooked spaghetti, turn the heat down and let the spaghetti simmer for two minutes.
Add the drained clams and let the mixture heat for a minute or two. Serve in pasta bowls with plenty of crusty Italian bread.
Pan-Fried Herbed Pork Cutlets
- 1/4 cup finely minced herbs (any combination of thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, sage, chives, parsley)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground fennel seed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 pork cutlets (about 1/4 inch thick and each weighing about 4 oz)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Lemon wedges
Combine the herbs, fennel and salt in a shallow dish. Place the flour in a second shallow dish. Pat chops dry with paper towels.
Trim the cutlets of fat and pound them lightly with a meat mallet to make them uniform in thickness. Press the herbs on both sides of the cutlets and then dredge the cutlets in the flour (do not discard flour).
Transfer to a plate and let rest 10 minutes. Dredge cutlets in the flour a second time just before cooking.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the pork cutlets until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with lemon wedges.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 heads tender lettuce (such as Boston or Bibb), torn into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 cup torn or chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, sage and chives
- 2 teaspoons finely minced shallots
- Sliced red and white radishes
- 1 cup sliced toasted almonds
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and mustard; season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine lettuce, shallots, radishes and herbs. Add dressing and toss to combine. Add almonds and serve.
Variation: The dressed salad can also be placed—open-face sandwich fashion—on top of grilled bread that has brushed with olive oil.