The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same 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 in the countries of Portugal, Spain and France. This series continues with the country of Italy.
The Mediterranean Diet is more than just a way of eating. It is a way of thinking about food. It embraces the concept of eating together and sharing food with others. Modern populations are pressed for time, so food is often prepared and consumed in a hurry and in isolation. However, for the Mediterranean peoples, preparing food and eating together is very important and it is an important key in why the Mediterranean Diet is successful. For Italians, food is not simply sustenance and nutrition. It is community.
The Italian cuisine is typically Mediterranean which means eating a lot of vegetables, fruit, grains, fish and some chicken. In addition, the Italians use olive oil for cooking in large amounts instead of animal fat. Olive oil combined with a high volume of vegetables prevents disease. The Italians also follow nature and only eat what is in season. If you eat according to the seasons, you will be eating a variation of different colored vegetables. Each different color has a different antioxidant, which helps prevent disease, including cancer.
There are big differences between the Italian food in the North and in the South. Italy’s Alpine and sub-alpine regions in the North produce more livestock (cows) and fewer olives. That means more butter and lard and less olive oil. Corn (maize) and rice (such as arborio) are more popular in the northern regions than pasta. In the inland cities (Milan, Turin, Bologna), fish is more expensive than it is in the coastal cities (Genoa, Venice), and therefore consumed in lesser quantities. Fish and fresh fruit cost much less in Naples and Palermo than they do in Turin and Milan.
Southern Italians eat 40% more fruit and 80% more grains than Northern Europeans do. Southern Italians eat approximately 490 grams (17 ounces) of pasta and bread a day and research studies have found that eating a lot of grains was clearly NOT harmful to the Italians. The next largest proportion of their fiber comes from tomatoes, onions, artichokes eggplants, peas, lentils and chickpeas.
The Typical Italian Daily Menu:
Breakfast: Yogurt topped with berries and walnuts, coffee or tea
Lunch: Lentil soup with Swiss chard and bread on the side
Snack: cheese, bread
Dinner: Roasted cod paired with a wheat berry salad (cooked wheat berries with olive oil vinaigrette, feta, parsley, and tomatoes) and a glass of red wine
Dessert: Fresh fruit drizzled with honey
The Typical Italian Diet:
Snacks: In Italy, snacks are usually a very light: an espresso, a pizzetta, cheese and fresh fruit are popular options.
Lunch: In Italy lunch is usually a single dish, either pasta, frittata, fish with vegetables or salad.
Dinner: A soup with fish and vegetables is typical for a first course, followed by pasta with meat or fish and salad or vegetables. Fruit is usual for dessert.
Bring the Italian Mediterranean to your table with these recipes:
Saffron Orzo Pasta Salad
- 10 oz Orzo pasta
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon saffron
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup black oil-cured olives, sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
- One 8 oz can Italian chickpeas
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, under oil, drained and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring 6 cups of chicken stock to a boil.
In a small bowl combine 1 teaspoon of saffron and 2 tablespoons of the hot chicken stock and stir to dissolve.
Add the saffron to the chicken stock and stir.
Add the orzo to the boiling chicken stock and let it cook for 7 minutes.
Drain the orzo, transfer to a bowl, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and set aside.
Dice red bell pepper, red onion and mozzarella; set aside.
Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into 1/2-inch piece and set aside.
Slice the olives and drain and rinse the canned chickpeas.
In a medium bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Add the diced onion to the vinaigrette and let it marinate for 5 minutes.
Transfer all of the ingredients into the orzo and mix well, add the vinaigrette and toss well to coat.
Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh parsley just before serving.
Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for later use.
Warm Farro Salad
From TN&M Magazine
- 10 ounces dried chickpeas
- 10 ounces farro
- Truffle oil to taste
- 1 Garlic clove
- 1 Tomato chopped fine
- Chili flakes
Soak the chickpeas in cold water for 12 hours, changing the water 3 times. (If you use canned chickpeas, rinse them thoroughly!)
Cook the chickpeas in water to cover for about 1 hour.
Cook the farro in lightly salted water until tender.
Finely chop the garlic, basil, sage, rosemary, chili flakes and oregano.
Lightly sauté the herbs in olive oil, then add the tomato.
Add the drained chickpeas and farro, drizzling with a bit of broth.
Off the flame, stir in truffle oil to taste.
Courgettes with Sultanas and Pine Nuts
From TN&M Magazine
Serves one, as a main course.
- 1 210g tin of sardines, drained, oil reserved
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon sultanas (raisins)
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1.5 courgettes (zucchini), julienned
- ½ tablespoon chopped chives
- Zest and juice of half a lemon
- Black pepper to serve
Tip a little of the oil drained from the sardines into a frying pan and sauté the garlic for a few minutes until softened.
Add the julienned courgettes to another pan, and sauté over low heat in a little of the sardine oil until softened – approximately 4 minutes.
Add the sardines to the garlic pan, and break them up with the back of your wooden spoon as you stir them around the pan. Next add the sultanas, pine nuts and capers and stir well. Cook for a few minutes until the sardines are warmed through.
When the courgettes are ready add them to the saucepan and toss all the ingredients together, distributing the sauce evenly through the courgettes. Scatter in the chives, lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice. Add a little extra salt if necessary, but likely not as the capers are salty.
Transfer to a serving dish and add liberal amounts of black pepper.
White Fish Fillets With Cherry Tomatoes
By Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes (about 12 ounces)
- 1/2 cup chopped green olives
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- Four 6-ounce white fish fillets
- 1/4 cup (packed) chopped fresh basil
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the broiler. Combine the shallot, garlic, tomatoes, olives and oil in a medium bowl, season with salt and pepper, and toss well. Set aside.
Place the fish in a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the tomato mixture over the fish and broil until fish is opaque throughout and tomatoes have started to burst, 10–13 minutes. Serve with basil scattered over top.
Spaghetti With Clams
by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
- 6 1/2 pounds clams
- 6 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, divided
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced, divided
- 3 small dried chiles, crumbled, divided
- 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Place clams in a sink filled with cold water. Scrub shells well with a coarse brush to remove any sand. Drain water and soak clams in clean water, repeating until the water remains clean.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot with a lid over medium heat. Add ¼ cup wine, 1 garlic clove, and 1 chile. Add half of the clams, cover, and cook over high heat, shaking pan frequently, until clams open (keep lid on pot so heat is not released, making cooking time longer).
As soon as the clams open, transfer the clams and their juices to a large bowl (discard any clams that do not open). Repeat the process with 2 tablespoons oil, remaining ¼ cup wine, 1 garlic clove, 1 chile, and remaining clams.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until tender but al dente; drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in pot with lid over medium heat. Add remaining 1 garlic clove and remaining 1 chile; stir until garlic is fragrant and light golden, 1–2 minutes. Return clams and their juices to the pot; toss to coat and remove from the heat.
Add pasta and toss to coat evenly with juices, adding pasta cooking liquid by ¼-cupfuls if pasta is dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle parsley over and serve.
July is a month when everything seems to be in season. Even our young fig tree that we planted in April is producing some figs. Here is a photo of our very first fig. You will have to wait a bit until I can show you what I can make with them,
My CSA share and the farmers’ markets are filled with wonderful produce to choose from and turn into some delicious meals. I like to try new ideas for recipes with some of the vegetables that are not plentiful during the cooler months. So this month is a good time to cook with poblano peppers, fresh tomatoes, yellow squash, eggplant and okra. Looking for something different, give one of these recipes a try.
1 1/2 pound eggplant (1 large)
1 garlic clove, minced
Olive oil, plus extra for the baking pan
Half a medium onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
11/2 cups chopped Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
8 chopped oil cured olives
1/4 cup minced jarred roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Basil leaves for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and score twice with a knife (not hitting the skin on the bottom.)
Roast face down on a foil lined baking sheet that has been brushed with olive oil, about 20 minutes or until tender.
Let drain on a paper towel for 10 minutes, cut side down.
Scoop the eggplant out of the skin and finely chop.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a medium, heavy saucepan.
Add the onion, celery, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the Italian tomatoes, vinegar and agave and cook for 5 minutes more.
Add the eggplant, capers, red peppers, olives and parsley and cook until thickened and all visible liquid has evaporated.
Cool to room temperature. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with basil leaves. Serve with toasted Italian bread slices.
Summer Squash and Potato Pie
Vegetable cooking spray
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 small sweet onions
4 medium red potatoes
2 medium zucchini
3 (yellow) summer squash
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water until barely tender. Drain, cool and peel.
Very thinly slice the onions, zucchini, squash and potatoes.
Preheat oven to 375°F
Coat a 10-inch quiche dish or pie pan with cooking spray.
Alternate, overlapping slightly, slices of onion, potato, zucchini and yellow squash in a single circular layer all around the dish (see photo),
Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.
Drizzle with the melted butter. Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 45 minutes more or until golden brown.
Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Return the pie to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Pasta with Tomato and Zucchini Sauce
3 oz Prosciutto, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus 1 tablespoon
1 lb short pasta (such as penne)
2 zucchini, diced
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Cook the prosciutto in the 1 tablespoon olive oil until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, zucchini, basil, parsley, garlic, salt, chili flakes and remaining olive oil.
Add this mixture to the skill and cook for 2-3 minutes, just enough time to heat the ingredients.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain well.
Add the pasta to the skillet vegetables along with the grated cheese and the crispy prosciutto, toss again and serve in individual pasta bowls.
Creamy Corn Stuffed Poblano Peppers
8 small poblano peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced scallions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground chili powder, divided
1 cup fresh corn kernels cut from cobs (about 2)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated zest of a 1/2 lime, plus the juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Put the poblano peppers on a baking sheet and toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Roast until they begin to soften, about 15 minutes.
Using a paring knife cut the top off each pepper—be careful not to puncture or rip the peppers.
Remove and discard any seeds and membranes from the opening in the top; set the peppers aside.
Remove the corn kernels from the cobs; add to a bowl along with the scallions.
Stir in the cream cheese, cilantro, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon salt, cheddar cheese, the lime zest and lime juice.
Divide the stuffing mixture into 8 equal portions.
Stuff each pepper with the filling using your fingers to push the stuffing down into the peppers and place them in an oiled baking dish.
Reduce the oven temperature to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven.
Bake the peppers until the filling is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with salsa, if desired.
Oven Roasted Okra
I had never tried okra until this year, when my CSA farm included a bunch in my share. I did some research and found a way to make it tasty from the New York Times cooking section. The secret to good tasting, non-slimy okra is oven roasting. Use small, thin okra for the best taste.
1 pound small okra
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme leaves to taste optional
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Rinse the okra, drain and dry on a kitchen towel. The okra should be dry.
Trim away the stem ends and the tips and place the okra in a large bowl. Generously salt the okra and toss with the olive oil until coated.
Place the okra on a rimmed baking pan in one layer. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, shaking the pan every five minutes.
The okra should be lightly browned and tender. If you don’t want it too brown, roast at 400 degrees F.
Remove the pan from the oven, toss with fresh thyme and freshly ground pepper. Transfer to a platter. Serve hot.
Real pumpernickel bread is made using pumpernickel flour, a whole grain flour. This flour is made from coarsely ground whole rye berries. Rye breads have some amount of wheat flour added to their dough since rye does not contain gluten-producing proteins to make a good loaf of bread.
Pumpernickel bread is delicious in so many ways. Of course, it makes great sandwiches, especially Reubens, and it is also a good base for many appetizer toppings, like smoked salmon or egg salad.
Homemade pumpernickel bread is so much tastier than store-bought, unless you have a great bakery near where you live. I do not, so I make my own. You do need a few special ingredients to make this bread and I order them from the King Arthur Flour Company online.
Vital Wheat Gluten
Deli Rye Flavor
Pumpernickel Sourdough Bread
Makes 1 large loaf
1 cup sourdough starter
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup pumpernickel flour
1/4 cup Pumpernickel Bread Flavor
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1/2 teaspoon Deli Rye Flavor
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
Combine all of the ingredients in an electric mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, mixing until the dough forms a ball.
Switch to the dough hook and knead until the dough is elastic and slightly sticky.
Let the dough rise in a lightly greased, covered bowl for 1 to 2 hours; it should become puffy.
Transfer the dough to a cutting board and shape it into a long loaf.
Place the shaped loaf into a long stoneware baker (e.g., La Cloche), and cover with the lid.
You can also place the formed bread loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet, if you do not have a long stoneware baker. Cover and let rise.
Let the loaf rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s almost doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Slash the loaf diagonally in several places.
Bake the loaf for 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes; the bread will be dark.
Bake the loaf on the parchment covered baking sheet for 35-40 minutes.
When done, the bread will be crusty, and a digital thermometer inserted into the center will read 190°F to 200°F.
Remove the bread from the oven and transfer it to a rack to cool completely.
Of course with all this basil growing in my garden, I have to make pesto. After I have made about 10 containers of pesto for the freezer, I try to think about other ways to use this fantastic herb.
One of the best ways to preserve excess basil is to chop it fine. Place it in a food processor with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Then, simply pour the shredded basil oil into ice-cube trays and freeze. As you need a bit of fresh basil, it will be easy enough to pull out a cube of basil and add it to tomato sauce, stew or salad dressing. Much better than dried.
Pesto alla Genovese
4 cups tightly packed basil leaves (no stems)
1 large peeled garlic clove
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/ 2 to 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
In a blender of food processor, combine the garlic, pine nuts, salt, pepper and ½ cup of the olive oil.
With the machine running, add the leaves a few at a time. Add more olive oil until a smooth paste forms.
Pour the pesto into a storage container and pour a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the pesto to keep it from darkening.
If using that day, store at room temperature. If using later in the week, refrigerate the pesto and bring it to room temperature before using. Any longer than that store in the freezer.
Stir in the cheese just before serving.
Toss this sauce with your favorite pasta.
Pasta With Basil Pesto
12 oz short dried pasta
Half the of the prepared basil pesto recipe from above
Grated Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.
Cook the pasta al dente in boiling, salted water. Reserve a ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and place in a pasta serving bowl. Add the pesto and pasta cooking water. Stir well and top with grated cheese and black pepper before serving.
How To Use Pesto In Your Cooking
Stir a tablespoon of pesto into most vegetable soups just before serving.
Spoon a thin layer of pesto onto toasted bread slices, top with shaved Ricotta Salata or another firm grating cheese, and serve as an appetizer.
Whisk pesto into a risotto.
Beat equal parts of pesto and Ricotta cheese together and spoon into scooped out cherry tomatoes.
Toss grilled vegetables (peppers, zucchini, and eggplants) with a little pesto.
Spread on focaccia bread when making a Panini.
Add pesto to your favorite poultry stuffing.
Don’t forget to add it to your favorite spaghetti sauce recipe.
What Else Can You Do With Extra Basil?
Lemon Basil Garlic Butter
This butter is a great addition to chicken, fish or steak. It is also good on grilled corn on the cob.
Makes 8 tablespoons
1/2 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Mix together all the ingredients until blended well.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a week.
Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese Sandwich
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 large fresh basil leaves
2 plum tomatoes, sliced thin
4 slices sourdough bread
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Layer the cheese, basil and tomatoes on two bread slices. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper. Top with remaining bread.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the sandwiches. Cook until the bottom is toasted, turn the sandwich over with a large spatula and cook until the second slide is toasted. Serve immediately.
Homemade Burger Buns
Makes 6 large burger buns.
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced dried onion
1 tablespoon honey
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 tablespoons softened butter
1 large egg
2/3 cup lukewarm water
Olive Oil cooking spray
Combine all of the ingredients in an electric mixer bowl and mix the ingredients with the paddle attachment until the dough comes together around the paddle.
Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough until smooth.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and let it rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy and doubled.
To form the buns:
Gently deflate the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 pieces; each 4 ounces.
If you don’t have a bun pan, space them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
Gently flatten the buns with your hand to fill the bottom of the pan’s wells, or until they’re about 3 1/2″ to 4″ wide.
Cover the buns and let them rise for 60 to 90 minutes or until they reach the top of the pan.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Spray the tops of the buns with olive oil cooking spray.
Bake the buns for 18 to 20 minutes or until they are a light, golden brown and their interior temperature is at least 190°F, measured with an instant-read thermometer.
Remove the buns from the oven and transfer them to a rack. Allow the buns to cool completely, then store airtight at room temperature.
Adapted from a King Arthur recipe.
Grass-fed Steak Burgers with Barbecue Sauce
Makes 4 burgers
4 thick (1/2 inch) sweet onion slices for grilling
4 slices American or Swiss Cheese
Burger Buns, recipe above for homemade or use store-bought
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (about 3 chiles), plus 1 tablespoon of the sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds grass-fed ground beef (sirloin)
1 1/2 teaspoons each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
BBQ sauce, recipe above
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
Make the BBQ sauce:
Purée all sauce ingredients in a food processor until very smooth.
Make the burgers:
In a bowl, combine beef, salt and pepper.
Form into 4 equal sized patties about 5 oz each and 3/4 inches thick. Put on a plate, cover, and chill until ready to grill.
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat). Oil the grill grates.
Brush both sides of the onions with BBQ sauce. Grill, covered, until softened, turning once, 8 minutes total.
Brush both sides of the burgers with BBQ sauce and grill, covered, turning once, about 8 minutes total.
Lay the bun halves, cut side down, on grill to toast slightly during the last-minute of grilling for the burgers and onions.
Transfer buns to a platter, place slices of cheese on the bun bottoms and top with burgers and onions.
Serve with extra barbecue sauce or ketchup.
Chopped Vegetable Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
4 mini bell peppers, different colors or 1 large bell pepper
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
Half of a large red onion
2 celery stalks
Half a pint of grape tomatoes
Green Goddess Dressing, Recipe Link
Dice all the vegetables into ½ inch pieces.
Combine the vegetables in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly;
Divide the mixture among individual salad bowls.
Serve the dressing on the side, so each diner can add the amount of dressing they like.
8 oz elbow macaroni
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1/2 onion finely diced
1/2 bell pepper finely diced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup spicy cherry peppers, diced or pickle relish
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch black pepper
Make the dressing by combining the ingredients and set aside while you cook the macaroni.
Cook the pasta al dente in boiling salted water, drain and add the dressing while the pasta is warm.
Add the chopped vegetables and mix well. Add salt to taste, but I find this type of salad doesn’t need extra salt.
The mayonnaise, pasta cooked in salted water and seasonings add enough.
Chill the salad for several hours before serving.
Refrigerator Dill Pickles
Makes 2 quarts. I use old mayonnaise jars with screw top lids.
2 cups water
2 cups white distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
1 teaspoon dill seed
6 thinly sliced garlic cloves
6-8 pickling cucumbers (Kirby)
A few sprigs of dill
2 clean quart size jars
Combine water, vinegar, sugar, kosher salt, pepper, dill seed and garlic in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; stir.
Quarter pickling cucumbers lengthwise and divide evenly in the jars; add fresh dill.
Top with the hot vinegar mixture. Cover and refrigerate for several days before eating.
The pickles keep for a few months in the refrigerator.
Do you get in a rut and eat the same things for breakfast most days? Time for a change. Below are some ideas to add interest to your breakfast meals. Wonderful fresh fruit is now becoming available in the markets, so don’t forget to make a fresh fruit salad to go with these dishes.
Jumbo Cinnamon Crumb Muffins
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Prepare the topping:
In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.
With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until the mixture resembles large coarse crumbs.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour two jumbo 6-cup muffin pans.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and baking soda.
In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, mix together the melted butter, sour cream, eggs and vanilla.
Pour into the flour mixture and stir with a spoon just until combined.
Fill the muffin cups halfway and top with the crumb mixture.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Switch pans in the oven after 15 minutes.
Cool the muffins in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Avocado and Egg Sandwich
Ingredients for each serving
1 slice bread (crusty artisan bread, such as sourdough, rye, Italian or French) sliced one inch thick
1 garlic clove peeled
1/2 ripe, fresh avocado, peeled, seeded and mashed
2 teaspoons olive oil
Slices of tomato
Cooked bacon, optional
Fresh cracked black pepper
Sea salt to taste
Mix the avocado with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Toast the bread and rub one side with the garlic clove.
Spread with the mashed avocado. Top with some sliced tomatoes.
In a small nonstick skillet, heat the oil and cook the egg as desired.
Place the cooked egg on top of the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Top with a little hot sauce and bacon on the side, if desired.
Barley Fruit Scones
Makes 8 scones
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons barley flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoons kosher salt
4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 cup homemade or store-bought marmalade or fruit jam
Vanilla sugar for sprinkling on the top of the scones
Place a rack in center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk together in a large bowl, the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the flour mixture.
With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles large coarse crumbs.
In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg.
Pour the buttermilk and egg into the dry mixture and mix until just combined.
Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface. If dough is too sticky to handle, dust it with flour and fold it together a few times.
Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces (use a scale).
Flour your hands and pat each piece of dough into a disk about 3/4 inch thick and 7 inches in diameter.
Cover one disk with the marmalade or jam.
Top with the other disk and press down gently so that dough settles into the marmalade.
Seal edges by lightly pressing together.
Sprinkle the top with sugar.
Use a sharp knife, slice circle into 8 triangular wedges and place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a few inches between each wedge.
Place the baking pan in the refrigerator and chill the scones until firm, about 30 minutes.
Bake for 25 minutes. Scones are ready when the tops are golden brown and some marmalade has bubbled over.
Slide a thin spatula underneath them while they’re still warm and transfer to a baking rack.
1 mini red bell pepper, diced
1 mini yellow bell pepper, diced
Half a sweet onion, diced
1 ½ cups leftover cooked sliced potatoes (I used leftover creamy scalloped potatoes)
2 tablespoons butter
8 large eggs, whisked
Salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of cheese (American, Cheddar, Swiss)
Preheat the broiler.
Melt butter in an ovenproof omelet skillet. Add the peppers and onions. Saute until tender.
Add the potatoes and let cook until they begin to brown.
Pour the whisked eggs over the vegetables.
Cook until all the egg is cooked, tilting the skillet to let the uncooked egg run underneath the cooked areas.
Place the cheese on top.
Place the skillet under the broiler and cook until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.