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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: October 2017

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients

1 medium cooking pumpkin, about 3 ½ – 4 cups roasted pumpkin flesh
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup chopped leeks
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ cups whole milk
1-2 teaspoons honey
Chopped chives for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet with sides.

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Fill the pumpkin wells half way with water and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Place in the oven and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Cool and then scrape out the pumpkin into a bowl. Set aside,

Pour the olive oil into a Dutch Oven and heat over medium-high heat.

Add leeks, celery and garlic; cook and stir until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the pumpkin, broth, pepper, salt and spices. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

Process with a hand immersion blender in the saucepan or transfer half of the pumpkin mixture to a blender or food processor; cover and blend or process until smooth. Repeat with the remaining half of the pumpkin mixture. Return all of the pureed mixture to saucepan.

Stir in the milk and heat through, but do not boil. Stir in enough of the honey to sweeten the mixture to taste.

Serve warm garnished with chopped chives. Makes 6 (3/4-cup) servings.

Glazed Ham

Don’t forget to save the bone for soup.

Ingredients

6 lb ready-to-eat, cooked ham, bone-in, uncut (NOT spiral cut), shank end or butt end
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon country whole seed mustard

Directions

Heat the oven to 325° F.

Place the ham, fat side up, in a roasting pan.

Bake the ham for about 20 minutes per pound, about 2 hours for a 6 lb ham, or until an instant read meat thermometer registers at least 140° F (60° C), the safe minimum temperature for a fully cooked ham.

In a medium bowl whisk together the apricot preserves, brown sugar, apple cider, mustard and thyme.

About 30 minutes before the ham is done, spoon the glaze over the entire ham.

Cover the ham loosely with foil and let it stand for 15 minutes before carving and serving.

Rutabaga Gratin

You can also put this dish in the oven with the ham at the lower temperature to cook the two dishes at the same time. Put the gratin in the oven when the ham has an hour and a half of cooking time remaining.

Servings: 6-8

ingredients

2 pound rutabaga (peeled, thinly sliced)
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

Coat a 7×11 or an 8×12 baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the sliced rutabaga in a saucepan and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.

Cook for 3 minutes in the boiling water, drain and set aside.

Combine the cream, garlic powder, thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper with a whisk.

Pour one-third of the cream into the bottom of the baking dish.

Place a layer of rutabaga slices on top, followed by one-third of the cheese. Dot with one-third of the butter.

Continue to layer ending with a layer of cheese.

Bake in a preheated 350F/180C oven until bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 30-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Sautéed Green Cabbage Steaks

Ingredients

1 small head green cabbage
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
Celery seed for garnish

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Immerse the whole head of cabbage in the boiling water until the outer leaves begin to loosen.

Remove the cabbage from the water and drain. Cut the stem end off and carefully peel away as many outer leaves as will come off easily, usually 8 to 12 leaves will be large enough for stuffing. Reserve those leaves for another use.

Cut the remaining cabbage in half and cut two half-inch thick slices from the cabbage halves.

Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage steaks, sprinkle with half the salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes.

Turn the cabbage steaks over with a wide spatula, sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes more.

Sprinkle lightly with celery seed and serve.

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Cod Pomodoro

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Half of a small fennel bulb, thinly sliced, plus a few fennel fronds
Half of a small onion, sliced thin
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup homemade or store-bought marinara sauce
Two 4-ounce skinless cod fillets
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat oil in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat.

Add minced garlic, sliced fennel, onion and celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add spices and cook, stirring, until spices are absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add marinara sauce to the skillet; bring to a simmer and cook to meld the flavors, about 5 minutes.

Season fish with salt and pepper and place the fillets in the sauce. Spoon some of the sauce over the fish.

Place the pan in the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the fish is firm when touched with a fork.

Remove the pan from the oven and top the fish with the mozzarella cheese. Return the pan to the oven until the cheese melts.

Serve the fish with the sauce.

Baked Eggplant Slices

Place the eggplant into the oven about ten minutes before you place the fish in the oven.

2 or more servings

1 small eggplant, peeled
1 large egg
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil, for the baking pan

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Thoroughly coat a baking pan with oil. Set aside.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the egg with 1 tablespoons water. In another shallow dish mix the Parmesan cheese with the breadcrumbs.

Cut the eggplant into thin slices. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg mixture, letting the excess drip off.

Dredge the slices in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing down gently to coat well. Transfer the breaded slices to the baking pan.

Bake until golden brown on the bottom, about 15 minutes.

Turn the slices over and continue to bake until lightly browned on other side, about 10 minutes more.

Remove from the oven, serve plain or drizzle with a little marinara sauce, if desired.

Swiss Chard Sautéed with Garlic and Lemon

4 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large bunches Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2” pieces (about 12 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Wash Swiss chard well and place in a colander.

With some water clinging to the leaves, immediately transfer the washed chard to a large, deep skillet.

Cook the chard over low heat until almost wilted, 3-4 minutes. Drain the chard in a colander.

In the same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Add the Swiss chard, season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing often, until completely softened, about 4-5 minutes.

Add lemon juice and cook, tossing, about 1 minute; adjust seasoning if needed. Serve.


World Pasta Day was brought into existence as part of the World Pasta Congress on the 25th of October in 1995. Experts from all over the world came together to promote the importance of spreading knowledge of the world’s numerous types of pasta. This organization uses World Pasta Day to promote the eating of pasta, along with its cultural and culinary importance.

Everything from encouraging consumers to try new pastas to providing important health information is part of their mission. Every country is encouraged to celebrate the day in their own way, while sharing the logo of the official organization and participating in the global strategy of World Pasta Day. One of the best ways to celebrate World Pasta Day is by preparing your favorite pasta at home. Here are a few of mine.

Stuffed Shells

3-4 stuffed shells per serving.

Ingredients

6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (21-22 shells)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, white and light green portion, finely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for salting the water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 pound (2 bunches) fresh spinach or Swiss chard, stems removed
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese (about 16 ounces)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large egg
2 cups Marinara or Basic Tomato Sauce

Directions

Wash the spinach or chard well, drain and spin in a salad spinner to remove most of the water. Cut the leaves into thin strips.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the leek and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the leek is softened.

Add the greens, oregano, ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, tossing with tongs, until completely wilted.

Cover the pan and simmer until the leaves are very tender, about ten minutes. Pour into a mixing bowl to cool to room temperature.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta shells, stir, and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.

Place a colander in the sink and drain the shells. Transfer the shells to a kitchen towels on the counter and set aside to cool.

Mix the ricotta, mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the egg, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper together in a mixing bowl. Stir in the cooled, cooked greens.

Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Evenly spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of an oiled 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

Fill the shells with about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture and place in a single layer, open side up, in the baking dish.

Pour the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the shells and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Cover the dish with foil.

Tip: I always spray the side of the foil that will touch the food with cooking spray to keep the food from sticking to the foil during baking.

Bake the shells until the sauce just starts to bubble around the edges, about 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue baking until the sauce is bubbling vigorously and the edges of the pan have started to brown, about 10 minutes more.

Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage

8 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 pound lean Italian sausage, a combination of hot and sweet according to your taste, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound orecchiette pasta
1 bunch broccoli rabe
½ cups pasta water
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions

Wash broccoli rabe in several changes of cold water. Cut off the bottom tips on the stalks and cut each stalk into one inch lengths.

Heat oil and stir in garlic in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the sausage and saute until meat is brown.

Boil a large pot of water, add salt and pasta. Add the broccoli rabe during the last two minutes of the pasta cooking time.

Reserve 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water.

Add the pasta water to the cooked sausage and raise the heat and cook until the sauce is hot.

Drain orecchiette and broccoli rabe and add to the sausage sauce in the skillet.

Using a wooden spoon, toss together for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and pour into a large serving bowl.

Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese.

Creamy Zucchini Pasta

Serves 2-3

Salt to taste
8 ounces penne or other short pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small sweet onion
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
1 large zucchini, about one pound
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or a combination of herbs you like

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.

Slice the zucchini into ½ inch circles and then cut each circle into little logs.

Cut the onion in the same manner, so that the pieces are about the same size as the zucchini.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the garlic, stir and, then, add the zucchini.

Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender. Do not let it brown.

Add the chile flakes and stir. Add the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook on low heat until thickened a bit.

Stir the basil into the sauce, add the cooked pasta and let the pasta cook in the sauce for a minute or two.

Turn off the heat. Toss with the Parmesan cheese and serve.

Eggplant Sauce Over Pasta

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 3⁄4″ cubes
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, undrained and crushed by hand
1 lb. bucatini or spaghetti pasta
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
Fresh Burrata or Ricotta cheese

Directions

Heat the oven to 500º F.

Place the eggplant into a bowl and drizzle with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the eggplant to 2 baking sheets and bake, turning occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a rack; set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the chile flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic softens, about 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, season with salt and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente, about 9 minutes.

Drain the pasta and transfer to the pan with the tomato sauce. Stir in the roasted eggplant and basil. Toss to combine.

To serve, transfer pasta to a serving platter and garnish with the Burrata cheese.

Pasta Roll-Ups

8 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs lean ground turkey, beef or pork
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Two 28-oz containers whole tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
16 dried lasagna noodles
Two 10-oz boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Two 15-oz containers ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic and cook another minute.

Turn heat to medium-high and add the ground meat, breaking it up with a spatula until the meat shows no sign of pink.

Stir in the Italian seasoning, then add tomatoes and salt.

Reduce heat to medium-low, stir, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring and breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions, drain and place the noodles on kitchen towels to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Squeeze all remaining moisture from the thawed spinach and place in large bowl.

Add ricotta cheese, eggs and a 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese to the bowl. Stir until combined

Spread 2 cups of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish.

Lay a cooked lasagna noodle flat in front of you. Spread a tablespoon of ricotta mixture across the noodle and roll it up.

Place the rolled pasta seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Spread remaining tomato sauce over roll-ups, then top with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes.


A few weeks back I shared with you my initiation into spiralizing vegetables as part of my goal to add more vegetables to my family’s diet. I made an Italian Scampi dish then, and tried a few more Italian dishes after that. All good. This week, I am thinking Asian – Japanese style – and created a teriyaki beef tenderloin steak and stir fried vegetable combination. Give it a try. this recipe is for two servings. It can be doubled or tripled.

Zucchini Noodle Stir Fry

The sauce really needs the heat from the red pepper flakes to make a rounded sauce. Try not to leave it out.

Ingredients

Stir-fry Sauce
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

Vegetables
2 medium zucchini, spiralized
Half of a large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into very thin strips
Half yellow onion, sliced thin
1 small carrot, shredded
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon peanut oil

¼ cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine the stir-fry sauce ingredients and set aside.

Whisk together the water and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a large skillet or wok. Add ginger, bell peppers, carrot and onion.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.

Add the cornstarch mixture to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened, about 30 seconds.

Add zucchini noodles and stir just until hot.

Teriyaki Beef

Ingredients

Teriyaki Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin (Japanese wine)
1 tablespoon cornstarch (dissolved in ¼ cup water)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 tablespoons brown sugar (adjust sweetness according to your liking)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 slices ginger
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 onion (small, don’t chop)

Steak

2 beef tenderloin steaks (1 inch thick about 4 oz each)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup store-bought or homemade teriyaki sauce (recipe above)

Directions

Teriyaki Sauce

In a saucepan mix together water, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, brown sugar, black pepper, ginger, garlic, onion (don’t chop) and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add cornstarch mixture, simmer until the consistency is thick.

Remove ginger and onion from the sauce and set aside to come to room temperature.

When cool, pour ¼ cup teriyaki sauce over the steaks and let marinate for about one hour..

Beef Tenderloin

In a small heavy skillet, heat the sesame oil.

Cook the beef steaks for 3 minutes on each side.

Place on a plate and let the steaks rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the stir-fry vegetable dish.


Grilled Beef Fajitas

6 servings

Ingredients

Marinade
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 boneless ribeye steaks, about 12-14 oz each

Fajitas
2 red sweet bell peppers, cut in half and seeded
1 whole red onion, peeled and sliced into three circles
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup prepared salsa, warmed
12 tortillas
Fresh lime juice
1/2 cup sour cream
Guacamole and lime quarters, to serve on the side

Make the marinade:

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the garlic, salt, 2 tablespoons lime juice, jalapeno, cumin and olive oil.

Remove as much fat as possible from the steaks.

Add the steaks to the bag, seal and toss to coat well. Marinate and refrigerate early in the day.

Preheat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates. Remove the steaks from marinade; discard marinade.

Grill the steaks over medium-high heat 3 minutes per side for medium-rare; set aside on a plate and cover with foil.

Lower one side of the grill to medium-low. Spray the vegetables with olive oil cooking spray and cook bell peppers halves and onion slices about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables softened and have a few grill marks..

Wrap tortillas in foil; place on the back of the grill or the bun warmer to heat about 5 minutes before serving

Slice the steaks thinly across the grain. Slice the vegetables. Place in a serving bowl and mix with the warmed salsa. Add cilantro and mix well.

To assemble fajitas:

Spread tortillas with the steak and vegetable mixture, top with a little sour cream and serve with lime quarters and guacamole on the side.

Mexican Beans

The beans taste better if made the day before serving.

Ingredients

To cook the beans

! ½ cups orca beans (white and black colorings), washed
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

To finish the bean dish

½ cup finely diced onion
½ cup finely diced celery
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon chili powder

Directions

Place the beans in a medium-sized saucepan and cover with cold water by two inches high. Cover and soak overnight.

The next day, add the onion, garlic and salt to the soaking liquid and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 60 minutes or until tender.

Chill the beans overnight in the refrigerator in their cooking liquid.

The next day, drain the beans. Stir in the cilantro and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic and chili powder. Saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the beans and heat. Serve as a side dish.

Creamy Coleslaw

Ingredients

1/2 of a whole cabbage (8 oz), sliced thin
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Directions

In a large bowl combine the onion, sugar, salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, whipping cream, vinegar and lemon juice, using a whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients.

Add the thinly sliced cabbage, stir gently to mix.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Mediterranean Swordfish Kabobs

6 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon lemon peel
½ teaspoon dried granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 1/2 lbs swordfish fillets, cut into one inch cubes
1 zucchini, cut into one inch circles
1 red bell pepper, cut into one inch squares

Directions

Zest the lemon and then juice it, reserving 2 tablespoons juice.

Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, lemon zest, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper in a resealable plastic bag or a glass dish.

Add swordfish cubes, zucchini and bell pepper; toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

Prepare an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.

Thread the swordfish, zucchini and bell pepper on skewers, alternating them, with a little space between each piece. Brush the skewers with any remaining marinade.

Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes per side or until cooked to your taste. Slide the kabobs off the skewers onto a serving plate to serve.

Easy Cucumber Salad

6 servings

Ingredients

3 cucumbers, peeled
1/2 red onion, finely diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Ranch dressing

Directions

Cut the cucumbers into ½ inch thick circles and arrange in a serving dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the chopped red onion over the cucumbers. Drizzle your favorite ranch dressing over the cucumbers and onion.

Can be refrigerated for a short time or serve immediately.


Garlic Chicken with Peppadew Salsa

2 servings

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup plain fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bone-in chicken breasts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil a baking dish that will just fit the chicken breasts.

Combine the butter and garlic in a small microwave bowl. Heat on high for a minute or until the butter melts.

Pour into a shallow bowl and cool.

Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, salt and pepper in another shallow bowl.

Dip each chicken piece, one at a time, into the melted garlic butter.

Transfer to the bread crumb mixture and turn until coated on all sides.

Arrange the chicken in the prepared baking dish. Drizzle on any of remaining melted butter over the breaded chicken.

Bake until lightly browned and cooked through, 50 to 60 minutes.

Peppadew Salsa

Peppadews are sweet peppers from South Africa and are usually found in the mixed olive section near the deli in a supermarket.

Serves 2

6-8 Peppadew peppers, cubed
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and let sit for at least ½ an hour before serving.

Sautéed Escarole with Toasted Pine Nuts

Ingredients

1 large head escarole
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Sea salt to taste

Directions

After the core is removed, slice escarole into ribbons just over an inch thick. Wash escarole in several changes of water.

Dry well in a salad spinner.

Heat a large, deep frying pan, add the pine nuts and toast in the dry pan until the nuts start to brown, shaking the pan all the time the pine nuts are toasting. Pour onto a plate and reserve.

Add the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and heat for a minute.

Add escarole, a handful at a time, turning the leaves over each time you add more.

Saute the escarole. turning every few minutes, until it is wilted and soft.

Season to taste with sea salt and sprinkle pine nuts over. Serve immediately.

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Makes about 20 cookies

Ingredients

8 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
½ cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups ground pecans (pecan meal)

Directions

In a medium bowl, cream together butter, vanilla, salt and powdered sugar. Add pecan flour and mix until a dough forms.

Scoop the mound of dough into the center of a sheet of plastic wrap.

Using your hands, roll dough into an approximate 2-inch diameter cylindrical log; wrap and refrigerate dough until chilled and firm, about 1 hour. (The dough can also be made ahead of time and refrigerated for several day.)

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Slice the chilled dough into approximate 1/3-inch thick slices and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until light brown around the edges.

Cool on the baking pans for 15 minutes, then slide the parchment onto the kitchen counter to finish cooling (cookies will firm up as they cool).

 


Inviting friends over for dinner does not have to be a scary experience. With a little planning and the right kinds of recipes, it can be very manageable. On a recent evening, I entertained six of my friends for dinner and a relaxing evening. Here is my game plan.
Choose recipes that you can cook or do most of the preparation for in advance.
The main dish I served can be done the day before, refrigerated overnight and reheated while you and your guests enjoy an easy appetizer and cocktails. I have included my make ahead tips in the recipes below.

Mixed Olives, Sliced Havarti Cheese and Breadsticks. Chilled Prosecco

Italian Mixed Green Salad with Pistachios, Dried Raspberries and Gorgonzola Cheese

6 servings

Make Ahead Tip: The greens can be washed a day ahead or early in the morning, dried in a spinner and placed in a salad serving bowl. Place a paper towel on top of the greens, cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Slice the tomatoes and onions, place in a storage container, drizzle a little dressing over them, cover and refrigerate.

Ingredients

1 heart of romaine lettuce
1 head red/green leaf lettuce
10 radicchio leaves, torn into small pieces
¼ of a red onion, diced
1 pint sliced miniature colored tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup pistachio nuts
¼ cup dried raspberries
Italian vinaigrette

Directions

To the washed greens in the salad bowl, add the nuts and raspberries. Pour some dressing over the ingredients and mix well.

Place some of the greens on 6 individual salad dishes, top with some of the marinated tomatoes and onions and top the tomatoes with a one inch square of cheese. Serve immediately.

Swiss Steak

Swiss steak is meat, usually beef, prepared by braising in a cooking pot of stewed tomatoes, mushroom sauce, or some other sauce, either on a stove or in an oven. In England and in some parts of the United States, especially the South, it is also called smothered steak. The dish does not come from Switzerland, as the name suggests, but from the technique of tenderizing by pounding called “swissing”.

6 or more servings

Make Ahead Tip: This dish benefits from being prepared a day or two in advance. Once it has finished cooking, pour into a shallow, ovenproof casserole dish. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate. Take the casserole out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve it. Let the casserole come to room temperature for one hour. Then, reheat in a 325 degree oven for one hour. (The dish can reheat while you and your guests are enjoying appetizers and cocktails.)

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
16 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
All-purpose flour
3 pounds boneless round steak, 3/4-1/2 inch thick
4 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet (brown gravy coloring)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Cut the round steak into serving size pieces and place between pieces of plastic wrap. Pound lightly to about 1/4 inch thick.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour.

In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add some of the meat and brown on both sides. Remove to a plate.

Repeat with remaining oil, butter and meat.

Add the garlic, onions and mushrooms to the pan and cook until the onion is softened and the mushrooms have released their liquid.

Add the Worcestershire sauce and Kitchen Bouquet. Stir in ¼ cup all-purpose flour and mix until the flour dissolves. Add the beef broth.

If the broth doesn’t cover the meat, add a little water. Stir until all the ingredients are mixed into the broth and bring to a boil.

Add the browned meat back to the pot,

Cover the pot and bake for 3 hours or until tender. Remove the meat to a shallow ovenproof casserole. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate.

Take the casserole out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve it. Let the casserole come to room temperature for one hour.

Then, reheat, covered, in a 325 degree F oven for one hour.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Make Ahead Tip: The potatoes can be baked a day before or early in the morning of the day of your dinner party. They can be filled, covered and refrigerated until close to serving time. Take them out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve them. Let the stuffed potatoes come to room temperature for one hour. Then reheat in the oven with the casserole, uncovered, for one hour.

6 servings

Ingredients

2 large russet potatoes about 14 -16 oz each, scrubbed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
Paprika and chopped chives for garnish

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F. Gently scrub potatoes, but do not peel. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork to allow steam to escape while the potatoes bake. Wrap in heavy-duty foil.

Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when lightly squeezed.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut lengthwise in half; scoop out the inside, leaving a thin shell.

In a mixing bowl, mash the potatoes. Add the butter, salt and pepper; mix until the potatoes are light and fluffy.

Stir in the cream and cheddar cheese. Fill the potato shells and place them in a baking dish.

Sprinkle with paprika and chives. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Take them out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve them. Let the stuffed potatoes come to room temperature for one hour.

Then reheat in the oven, along with the Swiss Steak casserole, uncovered, for one hour.

To serve: cut each potato boat in half (to make 8 pieces). Serve one half to each guest. There will be 2 second helpings.

These are very filling. I have found that half of a large potato is sufficient for most guests.

Green Beans with Ginger and Lemon Zest

Make Ahead Tip: Blanch the beans in boiling water the day before or early in the morning on the day you are serving them. Place them in a storage container and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cover and refrigerate.

6 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, grated
2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely grated
3 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

Directions

Blanch the green beans in boiling water for two minutes. Drain.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.

Add the lemon zest, cover the pan and steam the beans until they are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.

Add the salt and pepper and pour into a serving dish.

Pear Frangipane Tart

This pastry should be made early in the day of your dinner party. It cannot be made a day ahead because it will lose its crispness.

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 sheet frozen Puff Pastry
3 firm-ripe Bosc or Anjou pears
Egg white

Directions

Thaw the puff pastry according to package directions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to a 12×12 inch rectangle.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (I use an attractive baking pan that can also be used for serving.) Prick pastry with a fork.

Build up the sides slightly by folding in about 1/2 inch of the pastry on the edges. Brush edges with egg white.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine 1/4 cup sugar with the almond flour and all-purpose flour. Set aside.

Beat together the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer at moderately high-speed until pale and fluffy.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the flavored extracts.

Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour mixture just until combined.

Spread frangipane filling evenly over the tart shell.

Peel, halve and core pears, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange pears decoratively on filling.

Brush the pears with the egg white.

Bake until the pears are golden and frangipane is puffed up around the pears and golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Cool tart completely in the baking pan on a rack, then slide parchment out from under the tart. Leave at room temperature until serving time.

Garnish with frozen yogurt or whipped cream, if desired.

 

 



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