Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: May 2018

Beef Rolls
1 1/2 lbs boneless beef top sirloin or top round, cut into 4-6 thin slices
4-6 slices of prosciutto
Olive oil
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Filling
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper

Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup minced carrots
1/4 cup minced celery
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper (chili) flakes
One container (26-28-ounces) Italian finely chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
4 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Directions

Beef Rolls
Place each slice of beef between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat pounder until very thin, about 1/4 inch thick. Drizzle each with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Lay a slice of prosciutto on each one.

Mix together the parmesan cheese, onion, bell pepper, garlic and parsley and sprinkle evenly on top of the beef slices with prosciutto.

Roll up the slices, tucking in the ends and tie with kitchen string.

Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Cook the beef rolls until browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon to a plate and set aside.

Sauce
If needed add some more olive oil to the pan then add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring until tender but not browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and stir. Add the red wine and cook, stirring up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, salt, bay leaves, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.

Place the beef rolls back into the sauce, turn heat to low and cook at a simmer until beef is tender 1.5 – 2 hours. Remove the bay leaves.

Sprinkle the rolls with the mozzarella and basil leaves, cover the pan and cook for 2 minutes longer.


The Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal along the north; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel on the east; the African countries of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco on the south and the Mediterranean Island Countries of Cyprus and Malta. The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same healthy ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and about the cuisine in the countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia.
This series continues with the country of Algeria.

Algeria is located in North Africa on the Mediterranean Sea and this fertile northern region is home to the olive and cork trees. Fig, agave, and various palm trees grow in the warmer areas. Central Algeria consists of the High Plateaus that contain salt marshes and shallow salt lakes. The land becomes more arid the farther south one travels, eventually becoming the Sahara Desert. Roughly 80 percent of the country is desert and camels are widely used for transportation. The coastal region has a typical Mediterranean climate—pleasant nearly year round, with winter temperatures rarely falling below freezing (32°F). Rainfall is also abundant along the coast. Farther inland, higher altitudes receive considerable frost and occasional snow. Little or no rainfall occurs throughout the summer months in this region. In the Sahara Desert, rainfall is unpredictable and unevenly distributed.

Algerian food is a mix of various influences, from Berber to Arabic to French to Jewish. Most cooking is centered around spicy couscous which is served with long-simmered meats and stews. Algerian meals are often finished with dates and fresh fruit. Algerian ingredients are essentially Mediterranean, including lamb, chicken, tomatoes, olives, peppers, eggplant, lentils, oranges and lemons. Spicy Algerian merguez sausage is famous around the world.

Algerian cuisine traces its roots to various countries and ancient cultures that once ruled, visited, or traded with the country. Berber tribesmen were one of the country’s earliest inhabitants. Their arrival, which extends as far back as 30,000 B.C., marked the beginning of wheat cultivation, smen (aged, cooked butter), and fruit consumption, such as dates. The introduction of semolina wheat by the Carthaginians (who occupied much of northern Africa) led the Algeria Berbers to first create couscous, Algeria’s national dish. The Romans, who eventually took over Algeria, also grew various grains. Muslim Arabs invaded Algeria in the 600s, bringing exotic spices such as saffron, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon from the Spice Islands of eastern Indonesia. They also introduced the Islamic religion to the Berbers. Islam continues to influence almost every aspect of an Algerian life, including the diet.

Olives (and olive oil) and fruits such as oranges, plums, and peaches were brought across the Mediterranean from Spain during an invasion in the 1500s. Sweet pastries from the Turkish Ottomans and tea from European traders also made their way into Algerian cuisine.

In the early 1800s, Algerians were forced to surrender their farmland to the French. The French introduced their diet and culture to the Algerians, including bread and sidewalk cafés. This French legacy remains evident in Algerian with the French language being the country’s second language.

Tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, and chilies were brought over from the New World.

Sources: WHATS4EATS INTERNATIONAL RECIPES AND COOKING AROUND THE WORLD and Food in Every Country

Chakchouka is a traditional Algerian dish that’s mainly eaten for breakfast. Traditionally, the main ingredients in Chakchouka include sautéed onions, tomatoes and various spices topped with a few eggs. This meal is served with a side of bread, pita or rice.

NORTH AFRICAN EGGS POACHED IN A PEPPER RAGOUT

4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil — 3 tablespoons
Paprika — 1 to 2 tablespoons
Onion, thinly sliced — 1
Garlic, minced — 2 to 3 cloves
Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced — 3
Green and red bell peppers, diced — 2 to 3
Water — 1 cup
Salt and pepper — to taste
Eggs (optional) — 4

METHOD
Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Stir in the paprika and cook slightly to color the oil, about 10 to 15 seconds. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent and wilted but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 to 4 minutes to reduce down a little bit. Add the peppers, water and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add more water as needed to keep it from drying out.
Using a spoon, form four small indentations in the simmering peppers to hold the eggs. One by one, crack the eggs into a small bowl and slip each from the bowl into an indentation. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes or so until eggs are cooked through.
Serve with crusty bread, pita or rice.

CHAKCHOUKA VARIATIONS
Add 1 teaspoon of cumin seed to the hot oil for about 15 seconds before you add the paprika. Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of ground coriander along with the onions.
For a little spice, sauté 1 tablespoon of harissa paste or a minced chile pepper with the onions.
Sometimes fresh shrimp or a spicy lamb sausage called merguez is added to the simmering peppers along with the eggs.
Add 1 small, diced eggplant along with the peppers.
Add 1 potato, cut in a small dice, along with the peppers.
Sprinkle the top of the cooked dish with chopped parsley or cilantro.
Add a few olives and capers and eliminate the eggs. Chill and serve garnished with hard-boiled eggs or tuna.

Couscous is considered the national dish of Algeria, This dish is composed of small pellets of steamed semolina pasta topped with meat, vegetables, and various spices. In Algeria, the most popular meat and vegetable accompaniments for this meal include chicken, carrots, and chickpeas. Although a rather simple dish, Couscous offers considerable freedom in its selection of ingredients.

NORTH AFRICAN STEAMED PASTA GRAINS

4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

Couscous — 2 cups
Salt — 1/2 teaspoon
Boiling water or stock — 2 cups

METHOD
Mix the couscous and salt together in a large bowl. Pour the boiling water or stock over into the bowl all at once and stir in well.
Cover the bowl with a tight-fitting lid or with plastic wrap and set aside for about 10 to 15 minutes to steam.
Remove the cover and fluff the couscous with a fork. Stir in 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil if you like.

Harira is a traditional North African soup and recipes for this dish vary from region to region but in Algeria, Harira is often composed of lamb simmered with vegetables, spices, and herbs.

NORTH AFRICAN LAMB AND CHICKPEA STEW

6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil or butter — 1/4 cup
Lamb, cubed for stews — 1 pound
Onion, chopped — 1 large
Celery, chopped — 2 stalks
Turmeric — 1 teaspoon
Cinnamon — 1 teaspoon
Ground ginger — 1/2 teaspoon
Nutmeg — 1/4 teaspoon
Saffron — big pinch
Tomatoes, chopped — 2 cups
Water or stock — 2 quarts
Chickpeas, cooked and drained — 2 cups
Lentils — 1/2 cup
Salt and pepper — to taste
Cilantro, chopped — 1/2 cup
Parsley, chopped — 1/2 cup
Lemons, cut into wedges — 2

METHOD
Heat the oil or butter in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the lamb and brown on all sides. Remove the meat to a plate and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium and add the onions and celery. Sauté until the onions are translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the spices and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes. Pour in the stock and return the meat to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 45 minutes.
Add the chickpeas, lentils, salt, and pepper and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the lentils cooked through and tender.
Adjust seasoning, stir in the cilantro and parsley and serve with lemon wedges for each diner to squeeze into their stew as desired.

HARIRA VARIATIONS
Meats: Substitute cubed chicken or beef for the lamb. Or eliminate the meat altogether for a vegetarian version.
Sometimes 2 or 3 beaten eggs are stirred into the stew at the end to make ribbons of egg in the broth.
Add 1 cup soup pasta toward the end. Or add 1 cup of rice along with the lentils. You may need to add a little more water.

 

Mechoui comes from an Arabic word meaning “roast on a fire,” and like its namesake, the meal is prepared in much the same way. This dish is composed of meat spiced and roasted over a fire that is usually served at large gatherings. In the Algerian variation, the meat is roasted on a spit giving the meat a crispy, grilled flavor.

NORTH AFRICAN SPIT-ROASTED LAMB

6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS

Leg of lamb — 1 whole
Olive oil — 1/3 cup
Garlic, minced — 8 cloves
Paprika — 2 tablespoons
Coriander — 2 tablespoons
Cumin — 1 tablespoon
Salt and pepper — to season
Unsalted butter, melted — 6 tablespoons

METHOD
Trim any excess fat from the lamb, but leave enough to protect and moisten the meat. Mix the olive oil with the garlic, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper and rub this mixture all over the meat. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Set up the rotisserie (in front of the fire, not over it) and rotate the spit slowly for 4 to 5 hours, or until all the meat is cooked through, moist and tender. Salt the meat from time to time and baste it periodically with melted butter to encourage a crispy skin. Remove the spit from the fire and let the meat rest. Then use clean hands to remove the meat from the bones and onto serving platters.
Or
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place the leg of lamb on a rack in a roasting pan big enough to fit it. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Set the pan in the oven and roast for 4 to 5 hours, or until the meat is cooked through and starting to fall off the bone.
Increase oven temperature to 450°F. Remove foil and return pan to oven. Roast for another 15 to 30 minutes, basting every 5 minutes or so with the melted butter until the surface of the lamb is browned and crisp. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and set aside to rest for around 30 minutes.
Remove the lamb to a serving platter. Strain any pan juices into a bowl or gravy boat and serve on the side. Serve with bread or couscous and a simple salad. Diners can help themselves to the meat by pinching off portions from the platter.

MÉCHOUI VARIATIONS
North African Spice Blend: For a more complex flavor, add a spoonful of ras el hanout spice blend to the paprika, coriander, and cumin listed above.

Makroud is a traditional Algerian dessert. This pastry is composed of a date or almond stuffing and dipped in a sugar syrup or honey. Makroud are also eaten with coffee for breakfast. They will keep for over a month stored in a well-sealed container.

ALGERIAN ALMOND COOKIES

Makes 20 to 24 cookies

INGREDIENTS

Almonds, whole, blanched — 1 1/4 pound
Sugar — 1 cup
Eggs, beaten lightly — 2
Water — 2 cups
Sugar — 1/2 cup
Orange flower water — 1 tablespoon
Powdered (confectioners) sugar — 3 cups

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the almonds and sugar in a food processor and process until the almonds are finely pulverized. Remove to a bowl.
Make a well in the center of the almonds and stir in the eggs with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to come together. Then knead the dough with clean hands until smooth.
Cut the dough into 4 equal portions and remove to a floured work surface. Roll one portion out into a rope about 3/4 inch in diameter. Press down with your palm to flatten the rope to about 1/2-inch thickness. Cut the rope on a diagonal into 1-inch pieces and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake cookies for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are lightly browned on top. Remove to racks and cool completely.
While the cookies bake, bring the water and 1/2 cup sugar to a rapid boil in a saucepan over high heat. Stir to dissolve sugar and let boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature. Stir in the orange flower water.
Put powdered sugar in a large bowl. To finish, dip each cookie first in the sugar syrup to moisten. Then toss each cookie in the confectioner’s sugar to coat well. Shake off the extra sugar, place on a rack to dry and repeat with the rest of the cookies.

MAKROUD VARIATIONS
Add 1 tablespoon lemon zest to the almond dough.
If you are unable to find orange flower water to flavor the syrup, try using 1 teaspoon of lemon extract.


Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Shallot-Thyme Butter

Steak
2 rib-eye steaks, 6-8 ounces each
2 tablespoons coarsely ground peppercorns
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Shallot-Thyme Butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
5 chive leaves, minced
1 small shallot or half of a large shallot, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

Prepare the butter: Mash the butter with a fork, integrating all the remaining butter ingredients. Add 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Prepare an outdoor gas or charcoal grill and oil the grill grates. (You can also use a grill pan to cook the steak. Oil the grill pan after it gets very hot.)

Season the steaks with the peppercorns and salt. Press the mixture into the steaks.

When the fire is ready or the grill pan is very hot, grill the steaks for about 3 minutes per side for rare, and about a minute or two longer for medium-rare to medium.

Remove the steaks to a serving platter and place 2 tablespoons of the butter on each steak. Let rest 5 minutes and serve.

Creamed Spinach

Ingredients

4 cups chopped fresh spinach leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and pepper

Directions

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and butter, and stir it around so it melts. Saute the onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the spinach in batches, pushing it down with a wooden spoon to help it wilt. Keep adding more spinach when there is room in the pot.

Cook the spinach until it is wilted, then lower the heat and add the cream and cream cheese.

Stir and cook for about 5 minutes until the cheese is dissolved throughout the spinach. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Oven-Baked Onion Rings

4 servings

Ingredients

1 large sweet onion – ends trimmed off, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 cups panko breadcrumbs, or more if needed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Separate the onion slices into individual rings. Place the onion rings in a bowl of ice-cold water before coating.

Whisk eggs with cream in a bowl until thoroughly combined; season egg mixture with a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Place flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Place panko crumbs in a separate bowl.

Place the onion rings on paper towels to remove extra moisture from the soaking.

Work with one or two onion slices at a time, place them into the bag of flour mix.

Seal the bag and shake until the onion rings are well coated with flour.

Place flour-coated onion rings into the egg mixture, a few at a time, and toss lightly with tongs until coated.

Place rings into panko crumbs and gently shake the bowl to toss the crumbs with the onion rings until rings are coated with crumbs.

Transfer coated onion rings to a large baking sheet; spray rings lightly with cooking spray.

Bake in the preheated oven until the onion rings are tender and crumbs are lightly golden brown, about 15 minutes.


Sautéed Grouper In Shrimp Cream Sauce

2 servings

Sauce
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup white wine
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 cup diced shrimp (about 6 large) (peeled and deveined)
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/4 teaspoon each of white pepper and salt
5 or 6 leaves of fresh basil, torn into small pieces

Grouper
2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil for sautéing
1 grouper fillet or other white fish fillets, about 8 oz
Flour
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Directions

In a saucepan, sauté the diced shallot in 1 tablespoon butter until tender. Add the wine, tomato, salt, and pepper.

Bring to a boil and let the broth simmer until reduced to about half. Add the shrimp and cream. Cook for about one minute or until the shrimp are barely done.

Set aside while you prepare the fish.

Put the butter and oil in a skillet large enough to cook the grouper. Season the fish with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour.

When the butter sizzles, add the fish and cook on each side until cooked through and golden. Pour the shrimp cream sauce over the fish and garnish with basil.

Serve immediately.

Broccoli Sauté

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups broccoli florets
Zest and juice of one orange
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
2 tablespoons toasted, slivered almonds

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the broccoli, salt, pepper, orange zest, orange juice and sauté with the olive oil and garlic mixture until the broccoli turns bright green and becomes tender.

Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.


Smoky Eggplant Dip with Pita Chips

Ingredients

One Italian eggplant (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon tahini paste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Za’atar dry spice, for garnish

Pita Chips
8 large pita rounds, cut into triangles
2 tablespoons za’atar dry spice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

Directions

Split the eggplant in half through the stem and score the flesh. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Grill the eggplant on a very hot grill pan or outdoor grill until the skins are wrinkled and black and the flesh side is charred.
When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, cut off the tops and scoop the flesh from the skin into a processor bowl.
Add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, paprika, salt and cayenne pepper and puree until smooth. Add the olive oil and pulse again to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of .za’atar.

To make pita chips.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the pita triangles on two rimmed cookie sheets. Combine the za’atar spice mix and extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl or jar and drizzle over the pita. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until crispy.

Grilled Stuffed Yellow Squash

4 servings

Ingredients

2 large yellow squash
1 garlic clove, grated
2 scallions, minced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 cup minced sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato oil (from the jar)
5 sage leaves, minced
1/4 cup jarred deli pepper rings, minced

Directions

Cut the squash in half lengthwise. With a grapefruit spoon, scoop out the squash flesh, leaving about a ¼ inch thick shell. Chop the squash flesh.

In a small skillet heat the sun-dried tomato oil over low heat. Add the garlic, scallions, and celery and cook until tender, 2-3 minutes. Add the squash flesh and saute until the squash is completely cooked and soft. Add the sage, sun-dried tomatoes and pepper rings, Stir and remove the pan from the heat. Cool to room temperature.
Fill the squash boats evenly with the stuffing.

Heat an outdoor grill to high and oil the grill grates. Turn the heat down to medium and place the squash boats on the grill, close the lid and grill for about 15 minutes until the shells are softened and the top of the stuffing is beginning to brown.

Swiss Chard Quiche

6-8 servings

You will need a 10-inch glass pie pan that is 2 inches deep.

Ingredients for Press in the Pan Pie Crust
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or For Low Carb or Gluten-free Crust: 1 ½ cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar or low carb sugar substitute
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons cold water

Ingredients for the Filling
One large bunch of Swiss Chard
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 whole scallions (green onions) diced
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
6 large egg
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Wash the chard and remove the stems. Save the stems for soup. Cut the leaves into smaller pieces. Heat the one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and add the chard leaves. Cook just until wilted. Season with salt & pepper. Set the pan aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Coat a deep dish 10-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Place the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in the pie pan. Mix with a fork. Combine the vegetable oil and water in a measuring cup. Pour over the flour mixture in the pie plate. With the fork incorporate all oil mixture into the flour until it is completely moit=st. With your hands, press the mixture across the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.

Prebake the crust in the oven for 10 minutes.

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and add the cream.

Remove the pie pan from the oven and place the scallions on the bottom crust. Top with 1 cup of the cheddar followed by the wilted chard. Pour the egg mixture over the chard and sprinkle the top with the remaining one cup of shredded cheddar.

Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Cool 15 minutes before cutting.

Noodles with Grilled Italian Sausage

2 servings

Ingredients

1/2 lb spicy Italian Sausage
Olive oil spray
2 oz thin spaghetti
1 zucchini, about 8 oz
1 yellow squash, about 8 oz
2 cups homemade marinara sauce
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions

Prepare an outdoor grill with an area for indirect heat. Coat the sausage with olive oil cooking spray. Place the sausage over indirect heat and cook until golden brown on the outside and cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning them over after 15 minutes. Remove to a plate and cut into two-inch pieces

Using a spiralizer to make noodles with the zucchini and squash. Place on paper towels to remove the moisture.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti al dente. Drain.

Combine the marinara sauce and grilled sausage in a saucepan and heat.

To assemble: In the pot that the spaghetti was cooked, place half of the hot marinara sauce. Add the vegetable noodles and spaghetti. Stir gently and heat.
Divide the noodles into two pasta bowls, top with sausage and remaining sauce. Garnish with cheese and serve immediately


Easy Coquilles St. Jacques

Serve this entrée with a green salad or sautéed greens.

Ingredients for 4 servings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for the gratin dishes
1 finely diced large shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour
1/2 cup seafood stock or clam juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning (Old Bay)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 ounces grated Gruyère cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds fresh bay scallops or sea scallops cut in half

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and place four (1 1/2-cup) gratin dishes on sheet pans. Lightly coat the dishes with butter

Combine the fresh bread crumbs, parsley, and olive oil in a medium bowl and stir to moisten the crumbs. Stir in the cheese. Set aside.

Dry the scallops well on paper towels.

In a medium-size saucepan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat.

Add the shallots and garlic and saute for just a minute or so.

Add the mushrooms and seafood seasoning. Saute, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms no longer release moisture.

Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Add the wine and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the seafood stock and cream.

Season with a little with salt and pepper..Take the saucepan off the heat and add the scallops and mix carefully with a silicone spatula.

Divide the mixture equally among the gratin dishes.

Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly on top of each gratin dish and bake for 20 minutes, until the crumbs are lightly browned and the sauce is bubbly. Serve immediately.

Easy BBQ Shrimp

Serve this entrée with potato salad and a tomato or cucumber salad.

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb jumbo shrimp (16 per lb), cleaned, deveined and shells removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
½ cup homemade or store-bought BBQ sauce
Link to my homemade recipe.

Directions

For cooking outdoors: heat an outdoor grill to high and oil the grill grates. For cooking indoors: heat a stovetop grill pan over medium heat for 5-6 minutes.

In a glass dish mix the shrimp with the olive oil and sprinkle them generously with the salt and pepper.

Thread the shrimp on skewers and place them on the grill, if cooking outdoors. Place in a single layer in the grill pan, if cooking indoors.

Cook until grill marks appear and the shrimp turn deep pink, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Place the BBQ sauce in the dish that held the shrimp and warm the sauce in the microwave.

When the shrimp come off the grill, slide them off the skewers or out of the grill pan into the dish with the barbecue sauce and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.


Chocolate Covered Maple Cookies

Makes 18 cookies

Ingredients

2 cups finely ground almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces dark chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line two cookie sheets or rimmed baking pans with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Be sure all the clumps are gone from the almond flour. Switch to a silicone spatula and stir in the maple syrup and vanilla. Mix until a sticky dough forms and holds together.

With a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop up the dough and form it into a ball. Form the ball into a small rectangle about 2 inches long and a ¼ inch thick. Place the cookie on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough, placing each cookie about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

Place the cookies in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes, switching the cookie sheets on the oven racks at the halfway point. The cookies are ready when the edges are golden brown.
Transfer the cookies on the parchment paper onto a wire rack, and let them cool completely.

Place the chocolate in a small deep glass mixing bowl and place the bowl in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir, and place back in the microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir until the chocolate is completely dissolved.

Place another piece of parchment paper on a kitchen counter. When the cookies are completely cooled, dip one half of each cookie onto the chocolate. Place the cookies on the parchment-lined sheet. Repeat until finished. Leave at room temperature until the chocolate hardens. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature or in the refrigerator or place in a freezer container for up to 6 weeks.

Maple Walnut Biscotti

Makes

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups almond flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 tablespoon water
2 oz. dark chocolate chips
1 oz finely chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot powder, baking soda, and salt. Be sure all the clumps are gone in the almond flour.
Add the maple syrup, the vanilla and orange extracts, and water.
Stir well to combine.
Fold the chocolate chips and nuts into the batter. On a cutting board, form the batter into a rectangular log, 2 inches wide by 8 inches long and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes.
Reheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Cut the log into thin slices with a very sharp knife and place them cut side down on the same parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn them over and bake 10 minutes more, watching carefully to make sure they do not burn.
Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely before serving.


Pork Chops

Ingredients

3–4 pork chops (1 lb) 3/4 inch thick
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup homemade BBQ sauce (see recipe below) or your favorite brand

Directions

Prepare an outdoor grill for high direct heat and indirect heat. Oil the grates.

Trim off excess fat and pepper both sides of the pork chops.

Place the pork chops on the grill over direct high heat with the lid closed. Cook for 2 minutes.

Turn the pork chops over and continue grilling, lid closed, for another 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium-low on a gas grill or move the chops to a cooler portion of a charcoal grill.

Brush a liberal amount of barbecue sauce on the chops and then turn them over. Brush more barbecue sauce on the top side.

Cook for another 2 or 3 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chops are 145° F.

Remove the pork chops from the grill to a serving platter and let rest for about 5 minutes.

BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

26 oz container strained or crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground yellow mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer. Cook, uncovered, until thick about 1 ½ hours. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

4 servings

Ingredients

1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
Salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Mash the potatoes, adding the buttermilk until moist and the consistency that you like. Season with additional salt if needed. Add the chives and serve..

Garlicky Sautéed Greens

4 Servings

Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups (packed) stemmed and roughly chopped swiss chard or other greens
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Heat garlic and oil in large skillet over medium-low heat until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and reserve.

Add the Swiss chard, red pepper flakes, and salt to empty skillet. Using tongs, turn greens until wilted enough to fit in the pan.

Raise the heat to medium, cover, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, tossing a few times during the cooking process. Transfer the greens to a colander to drain.

Return to them to the pan, turn the heat to low and toss with the reserved garlic and oil mixture.when hot, transfer to a serving bowl.


Pacific Dover Sole is a Pacific Ocean flatfish from the flounder family which is found in the waters from Baja California to the Bering Sea. It takes its name from a resemblance to the common sole of Europe, which is called Dover Sole and is usually not available in the U.S.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch lists Pacific Dover Sole from California, US West Coast, and Alaska fisheries as a “Best Choice” selection.

Pacific Dover Sole is a meaty fish fillet with a delicate flavor. When it comes to cooking, simple preparations are best. A classic Meuniere is the usual preparation, but I prefer to make Sole Francaise. Here is my recipe along with some seasonal side dish recipes to round out the dinner menu.

Sole Francaise

Ingredients

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 4-oz sole or flounder fillets
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions

In a shallow bowl, whisk the eggs together with Parmesan cheese Add the flour to a second shallow dish and add the salt and pepper.
In a medium non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and then add the butter.
Dredge the fillets in the flour, coating them on both sides and then dip them into the egg-cheese mixture. When the butter is melted, add the fillets and until browned, 1 ½ minutes.
Turn carefully with a long, wide spatula and cook on the other side for an additional 1 ½ minutes.
Remove the fish to a warmed serving platter.
Add the lemon juice to the pan, and stir to absorb the liquids in the pan. Pour the sauce over the fish, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto

Ingredients

1 bunch thin asparagus spears, woody ends removed
6 very thin slices Prosciutto de Palma
Olive oil
Coarse black pepper

Directions

Bundle asparagus together in small batches ( I made 6 bundles with 6 asparagus in each) and wrap one slice of prosciutto around each bundle.

Place the bundles in an oiled baking dish. Sprinkle the bundles with olive oil and black pepper. Roast in a 425 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes.

Italian Style Spaghetti Squash

Cook the squash a few hours earlier, so it will be cool enough to handle.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 spaghetti squash, about 1 1/2 pounds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Pierce the squash in several places with a sharp knife. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place the squash on top.

Bake for one hour or until the squash is soft and easy to cut with a knife. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until you can handle it.

Cut in half lengthwise and allow to cool some more. Remove the seeds and discard. Scoop out the flesh from the squash and place in a bowl.

Run a fork through the flesh to separate the spaghetti-like strands. Set aside half of the spaghetti squash strands for another recipe.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add the garlic and sage.

When the garlic begins to sizzle and turns golden stir in the squash strands. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss all together over medium heat until the squash is infused with the garlic, sage and oil, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove to a warm serving dish and serve.


Grilled Asian Chicken Thighs with Citrus Salsa

2 servings

Ingredients

4 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs

Marinade

2/3 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon lemongrass paste
1 tablespoon Korean hot sauce (gochujang) or your favorite Asian hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Citrus Salsa

Half a navel orange
One red grapefruit
Zest of ½ a lemon
Zest of half an orange
1 large spring onion or 2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Pinch of salt

Directions

Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large plastic bag and add the chicken thighs.

Coat the chicken in the marinade then seal the bag and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or up to 6-8 hours.

To make the salsa: Using a grapefruit knife, remove the fruit segments over a colander placed over a bowl. Let the fruit drain. Use the juice for another recipe.

Combine the fruit segments with the remaining salsa ingredients. Set aside while the chicken cooks.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Preheat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.

Drain the chicken and discard the marinade in the bag. Place the chicken pieces skin-side down on the hot grill, and cook them for 7-8 minutes.

Turn the chicken pieces over with tongs to avoid piercing them and letting the juices run out. Cook the thighs for another 7-8 minutes.

Place an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Chicken thighs and drumsticks are cooked when the temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the chicken to a platter and place the Citrus Salsa on the side of the chicken.

Spring Strawberry Salad with Warm Mozzarella Cheese

2 servings

Dressing

1 green onion, roughly chopped
1/2 avocado, peeled
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup red grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-2 teaspoons honey, according to taste
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salad

3 ounces leaf lettuce
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 pound cooked asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths

Mozzarella Cheese

2 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, each cut ½ inch thick
1 oz chopped pecans
1 large egg white, beaten with 1/2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Purée the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth to make a dressing. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until needed.

For the cheese: Dip each cheese slice into the egg wash and then into the chopped pecans, pressing on the nuts to help them stick to the cheese.

Place the slices on a baking rack set on a sheet pan or large plate and chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.

Arrange the greens, strawberries, and asparagus on Individual salad plates,

Heat the butter in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chilled cheese slices and cook until softened but not melting, about 2 minutes.

With a wide spatula carefully turn the cheese slices over. If some of the nuts fall off, just scoop them up and place them back on the cheese

Place a cheese slice on top of each salad. If any nuts fall off into the pan, just sprinkle them on the salad. Drizzle the salad with some of the dressing and serve.

Grilled Asian Flavored Scallops

2 servings

Ingredients

½ lb medium sea scallops
2 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, grated

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Allow the scallops to marinate for 15 minutes.

Skewer the scallops on soaked wooden or metal skewers and cook on a preheated indoor grill or broiler for 2-3 minutes per side.

They should be slightly firm, Serve with the Spring Vegetable Stir-fry.

Spring Vegetable Stir-fry

Stir Fry Sauce

1/3 cup coconut aminos or soy sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned (unsweetened) rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey or a low-carb sweetener
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced

Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper

Stir-fry Vegetables

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 small head baby bok choy, sliced into 1-inch strips
4 scallions, sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup cashews, toasted and chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Place the halves, with the cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until you can poke the squash easily with a fork.

Let cool until you can handle it safely. Then scrape the insides of one half of the cooked squash with a fork to shred the squash into strands and place on a plate.

Reserve the remaining squash for another recipe.

Prepare the stir-fry sauce.

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and broccoli and sauté for 8-10 minutes, until just tender.

Then stir in the bok choy and bean sprouts; cook for 3-4 minutes until wilted. Add the stir-fry sauce and then stir in the cooked spaghetti squash and red pepper flakes.

To serve: Sprinkle the vegetable stir-fry with the cashews and serve.



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