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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Bread

Homemade Burger Buns

Makes 6 large burger buns.

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

 

Shape the dough into balls, and place them in the wells of a lightly greased hamburger bun pan.

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

Ingredients

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

BBQ Sauce

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

Burgers

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

Ingredients

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 

Directions

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.

Macaroni Salad

Ingredients

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

Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch black pepper

Directions

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.

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

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Sunrise on the Gulf

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

Ingredients

Crumb Topping

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

Muffin Batter

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

Directions

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
1 egg
2 teaspoons olive oil
Slices of tomato
Cooked bacon, optional
Fresh cracked black pepper
Sea salt to taste
Hot sauce

Directions

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

Potato Omelet

Ingredients

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)

Directions

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.

 

 


Happy Mother’s Day To All.

Appetizer

Sliced Tomatoes, Burrata Cheese, Olives, Basil and Italian Breadsticks

Entrée

Chicken Pasta Primavera

Ingredients

For the Chicken

2 to 2 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 small lemon, sliced
1 carrot, cut into quarters
2 ribs celery, cut into quarters
2 large bay leaves
Small bundle of fresh herbs: parsley, thyme and rosemary

For the Sauce

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
1 small zucchini, trimmed and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
1 large leek, trimmed, halved lengthwise and sliced into matchsticks
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and white pepper or finely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (poaching liquid)
1 cup frozen peas

For the Pasta

1 pound short pasta (penne, casarecce, gemelli)
A handful of fresh herbs: parsley, thyme leaves, sage and rosemary, very finely chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

To poach the chicken:

Place the chicken, onion, lemon, carrot, celery, bay leaves and herb bundle in a pot, cover the chicken with water and bring to boil.

Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer 45 minutes. Strain and reserve the poaching liquid.

Cool the chicken until it can be handled. Remove the skin and bones then pull meat into thin, bite-sized pieces.

To make the sauce:

Heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, zucchini, leeks and garlic, season with salt and white pepper, and sauté until tender, 6-7 minutes.

Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and stir a minute more.

Deglaze the pan with the wine then stir in 2 cups of the reserved poaching liquid.

Cook until thickened, add in chicken and peas, and reduce heat to low.

To cook the pasta:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. Add the pasta and cook to al dente.

Drain and toss with the chicken and sauce, adding an additional 1/2 cup poaching liquid if needed.

Combine the lemon zest with the finely chopped herbs.

Add the lemon juice to the pasta and serve in shallow bowls topped with gremolata and some Parmesan cheese.

Italian Mixed Greens Salad

Ingredients

1 cup Radicchio
1 cup Butter Lettuce
1 cup Romaine Lettuce
½ cup Sliced Red Onions
Italian Vinaigrette

Directions

Tear the lettuces into small pieces and place in a salad bowl. Add the red onion and Italian vinaigrette to taste.

Toss well and serve immediately.

Dessert

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Ingredients

For the crust

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup salted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the berry layer

4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, 3 cups flour and baking powder. Mix in salt and cinnamon.

Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter. Add the egg and vanilla. Dough will be crumbly.

Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries.

Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown.

Cool completely before cutting into squares. Serve with ice cream, if desired.


 

Planning what to cook based on what is in season can bring out the creative cook in you. Bell Peppers, Spinach, Potatoes, Sweet Corn, Cabbage, Tangerines, Radishes, Mangoes, Mushrooms, Green Beans, Cucumbers, Squash, Blueberries and Carrots are all in season this month. With so many choices, it is difficult to decide what to buy.

What I do is think about what kind of recipe and what type of meals I want this week. Then, I look for the ingredients to match. For example, a soup would be good for dinner and the leftovers are good for lunch. Greens was beautiful in the market now, so a soup with greens added would be good to make. Also we will need is some delicious bread to go with it.

This thinking can apply to salads, light dinners and special entrees. Also, I like to take advantage of sales. For example, packages of pita bread were “buy one package and get one free” this week. Pita is a versatile bread to have on hand and they also make delicious and healthy chips.

Tortellini Soup

When I finish grating a piece of Parmesan cheese, I save the rind in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. I add one to the soup pot for added flavor.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 cups water
4 cups homemade or canned low-sodium chicken broth
Parmesan cheese rind
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
6 oz fresh escarole, spinach or any seasonal greens
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Grated Parmesan, for sprinkling

Directions

Remove stems and wilted leaves on the greens. Wash well in several changes of cold water and chop.

In a large pot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the water, broth, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese rind and salt and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the tortellini until just done, about 4 minutes for fresh or 12 minutes for frozen. Drain.

Add the spinach to the soup and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the tortellini.

Serve the soup sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

Spring Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

2 servings

Ingredients

Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon
2 anchovy fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad

1 carrot, peeled
2 cups lightly packed torn Boston or Bibb lettuce

Directions

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, parsley, vinegar, lemon juice, tarragon, anchovies, and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor; puree until smooth. Chill to allow the flavors to blend.

Using a vegetable peeler, strip long ribbons from the carrot. Toss together the carrots and lettuce in a bowl. Add some of the dressing to greens and gently toss. (Reserve remaining dressing for another use.)

Stuffed Roasted Salmon Rolls

For 2 servings – this recipe is easily doubled.

Ingredients

12 oz center-cut boneless, skinless salmon fillet, cut lengthwise into 2 strips
4 cups fresh raw spinach leaves, stems removed, cooked and squeezed dry
1/4 cup cream cheese with onion and chives, if available, or regular cream cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a baking dish with olive oil.

Mix together the cream cheese, garlic and spinach until well blended then season with salt and pepper.

The mixture will be firm.

Season the salmon strips with salt and pepper and spread each fillet strip with the spinach filling.

Starting at one end, roll the salmon up tightly, tucking in any loose filling as you go.

Insert a toothpick through the end to keep the pinwheel from unrolling. Place the rolls in the prepared dish.

Repeat with the remaining salmon strip. Sprinkle the rolls with the lemon juice.

Bake the salmon rolls until just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the toothpicks before serving.

Grilled Chicken Pita Salad (Chicken Fattoush)

2 servings

Ingredients

8 oz boned, skinned chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoons za’atar (Middle Eastern spice)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 of a red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 of a cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 cup sliced tomatoes
1 cup pita chips, recipe below
1 cup sliced romaine lettuce
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 ounces block feta cheese, broken into chunks

Directions

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for high heat. Oil the grill grates.

Coat chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with za’atar.

Cook turning once, until no longer pink in the center and grill marks appear, about 7 minutes total.

Let rest 10 minutes, then slice.

In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, remaining oil, oregano, garlic and pepper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the grilled chicken, red onion, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, romaine and pita chips.

Pour the reserved dressing over the salad mixture, add cheese and toss gently to coat.

Homemade Pita Chips

Za’atar seasoning is a Middle Eastern spice mixture that contains ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, salt and sumac.

Ingredients

1 package of pita pocket breads (6 pitas in a package)
Olive oil
Za’atar seasoning

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil two large rimmed baking pans.

Separate each pita into two rounds. Brush each with olive oil and sprinkle with the Za’atar seasoning mix.

Cut each pita circle into 6 triangles.

Arrange the triangles on the baking sheets and bake until crispy and brown, about 20 minutes.

Rotate the pans after ten minutes, Cool and store in a large zip-lock bag until needed.

Warm Blackberry Sauce

This sauce is great to have on hand as a topping for ice cream, pancakes or plain pound cake.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries, washed
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

In a medium non-stick sauce pan, combine the sugar and cornstarch.

Add the water, maple syrup,lemon juice and berries.

Cook on medium high, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to break down and the sauce thickens.

Transfer the sauce to a serving dish. Store any remaining sauce in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


Our favorite bagels are not from a bagel shop but homemade. In my part of the world, there are no bagel shops. You can buy a bagel at the supermarket or at the airport, but no bagel shop where you can go pick out your favorite dozen. So I make my own. I make several different flavors, such as pumpernickel or cinnamon, at different times, but these are our favorite. They are especially good with smoked salmon and red onion.

Sourdough Bagels

Ingredients

4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¾ cup sourdough starter
1 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon honey
Olive oil for the bowl
Everything bagel topping

Directions

Combine the flour, yeast, salt, onion powder and garlic powder in the large bowl of an electric mixer.

With the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients thoroughly.

Combine the sourdough starter, warm water and honey in a large measuring cup and pour into the flour mixture in the electric mixer bowl.

Mix the dough with the paddle attachment on low speed until the dough comes together.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 10 minutes. With a spatula, scrape the dough from the bottom of the bowl to the top.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rest 5 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to knead the dough with the dough hook for 10 minutes. This procedure helps the dough to develop the gluten that bagels need.

Oil a bowl and place the dough in the bowl, turning it several times to coat in the oil. Cover and let rise, about 2 hours.

Place the dough on a floured board. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. I use a scale to measure.

On the floured board gently roll the one piece of sough into an 8 inch length and join the ends together to form a ring. Place on a floured kitchen towel. Repeat until all the bagels are formed. Let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Fill a Dutch Oven or other large pot three-quarters of the way with water. Add 1 tablespoon brown sugar and bring to a boil.

Place 3 bagels in the boiling water and let cook for one minute. With a spider or large spoon turn the bagels over in the water and cook for one minute. Remove the bagels to a dry kitchen towel.

Repeat this procedure for the remaining babels.

Top some of the bagels with an everything bagel topping, if desired.

Place the boiled bagels on parchment lined cookie sheets Six bagels to a sheet.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pans after half the baking time has elapsed. Remove the pans from the oven and place the bagels on a cooling rack.

Bagels freeze well, so I store them there and defrost them overnight when I want to serve the,

Some great toppings for your homemade bagels:

Cream cheese with chives and scallions. Add slices of cucumber for a lunch treat.
Cream cheese, slices of smoked salmon and slices of red onion.
Eggs Over Easy with slices of cheese and cooked bacon.
Tuna or Turkey Melt

What is your favorite bagel topping?


With family visiting for the holidays, I had plenty of leftovers to use up. Leftover vegetable dishes can become salads, such as my Green Bean Salad recipe. Leftover pork and steak can become new entrees. Leftover Tzatziki Sauce needed a new entre dish to accompany, so a middle eastern chicken dish is perfect. Leftover asparagus is always good in an omelet or a quiche. So many new meals from leftovers. Give your leftovers a makeover.

Spicy Shrimp and Fettuccine

Serve this pasta with a Green Bean Salad.

4 servings

Ingredients

8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound large (16-20) shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups chopped plum tomato
4 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook pasta al dente according to the package directions. Drain.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add red pepper and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute.

Add shrimp; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, basil and salt. Turn the shrimp over once and cook until pink on all sides.

Stir in pasta and Parmesan cheese; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.

Place pasta mixture in individual heated pasta bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese.

Serve immediately.

Green Bean Radish Salad

You can also use leftover cooked green beans for this salad.

Ingredients

1 pound green beans, trimmed
15 large red radishes, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and let cool.

Place the radishes and the cooled beans in a serving bowl .

Combine the olive oil, shallots, vinegar and lemon juice in a large measuring cup.

Pour over the radishes and green beans and toss to coat.

Let marinate 1 hour at room temperature, tossing occasionally.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Chicken Shawarma Pitas

Serve with a Greek Salad.

2 servings

Ingredients

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup finely diced peeled and seeded cucumber
1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

Chicken

1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon za’atar spice mix
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pita breads or lavash
1 small tomato, chopped
Thinly sliced romaine lettuce

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium.

Stir cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Combine garlic, za’atar, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another medium bowl.

Slice chicken breast crosswise into 1/4-inch strips; toss with the spice mixture to coat.

Add 1 tablespoon oil and toss to combine.

Grill the chicken on a stove top grill, turning once, until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.

To serve:

Spread 1/4 cup of the cucumber-yogurt sauce on a pita (or lavash) and top with one-half of the chicken, tomato and lettuce.

Fold like a taco (or roll closed, if using lavash). Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Cuban Sandwich

Serve with Homemade Tomato Soup

2 servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup leftover grilled pork tenderloin; thinly sliced
1 loaf Cuban or Italian bread or rolls
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 oz ham; thinly sliced
Yellow ballpark mustard
2 slices Swiss cheese
2 slices Provolone cheese
Dill pickle rounds
1/4 cup diced jarred banana peppers

Directions

Slice bread in half lengthwise and then in half horizontally. Butter the outside of the bread.

Spread mustard on the insides of the bread and layer each sandwich with 1/2 of remaining ingredients. Set tops of rolls in place and press down to flatten sandwiches.

Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, heat large pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat for 4 minutes.

Brush the tops of the sandwiches with melted butter and place them in the skillet buttered side down.

Brush the bottoms of the rolls with butter and use the preheated pot to compress the sandwiches for 15 to 20 seconds.

Cook (keeping the pot on the sandwiches but no longer pressing down) until the first side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the pot, turn the sandwiches over, replace the pot on top of the sandwiches, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Asparagus Tart

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large leek, light green and white portions
1 large shallot, sliced thin
1/2 lb leftover cooked asparagus, cut into one inch lengths
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 8-ounce tube refrigerated reduced fat crescent rolls
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin and drained on paper towels
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 eggs, beaten

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften,4- 5 minutes.

Add the shallots and saute for another 3 minutes.

Add the Italian seasoning, asparagus, a large pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper.

Stir and remove the pan from the heat and let cool. When the mixture is cool, add the beaten eggs.

Pat the crescent roll dough into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange the sliced, drained tomatoes over the dough.

Spread the asparagus mixture over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

Steak Quesadilla with Homemade Salsa

2 servings

Ingredients

4 (10 inch) flour tortillas
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup minced red onion
¼ cup diced pickled jalapeno peppers
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 ounces cooked steak, sliced thin
Homemade salsa, recipe below
Sour cream, optional

Directions

Brush a large frying pan with olive oil and heat the pan. Lay a tortilla on the bottom of the pan.

Cover evenly with one half of the steak, onion, jalapenos and cheese. Top with another tortilla shell.

Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the bottom tortilla begins to lightly brown and then use a wide spatula to turn the quesadilla over and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Repeat with the remaining quesadillas. Cut the quesadillas into quarters and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Homemade Salsa

Ingredients

One 26 oz container Pomi chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapenos
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon agave
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon lime juice
A few dashes chipotle Tabasco sauce

Directions

Mix together and chill.


Fig Tree

 

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for education about environmental issues. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day events in more than 193 countries are now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.

In honor of this idea, our family likes to add a new plant or tree in our garden every year. In the past, we have added a redbud tree, a palm tree, a star magnolia tree, a cypress tree, a lemon tree, a maple tree and, this year, a fig tree.

Cypress

Redbud

Star Magnolia

Palm

Meyer Lemon Tree

Maple

Figs are self-fruiting, so you need only one plant to produce fruit. Mature fig trees can grow be 15 to 30 feet tall. I don’t think I will see this in my lifetime, though. Figs can vary in size, shape, flavor, texture and time of harvest and can be black, green, brown, violet, yellow or purple in color.

Fig trees thrive in the heat of the southern US and Europe. Plant near a wall with southern exposure in the Middle South so they can benefit from reflected heat. In the areas with colder temperatures, plant cold-hardy selections, such as Brown Turkey and Celeste. You can grow figs in big pots and protect them during the winter by storing them in a cool garage or basement. During the first year, as the plants become established, water regularly and mulch. Once established, figs can be very drought tolerant. Fertilize with Espoma Citrus-tone (5-2-6) in late winter and early spring.

Figs are high in fiber and a good source of several essential minerals, including magnesium, manganese, calcium (which promotes bone density), copper and potassium (which helps lower blood pressure), as well as vitamins K and B6.

Figs must be allowed to ripen completely on the tree before picking. They can be enjoyed fresh or dried.

Figs can be eaten whole without any seasonings. They are an excellent addition to salads, cakes and ice-cream. Dried figs can be added to soups, stews or to enrich poultry, venison, lamb dishes.

I am looking forward to making my favorite fig recipes with my own home grown figs in the future.

Fresh Fig Tart

Serves 8

Ingredients

One 9-inch refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
1 pound fresh figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise
1/4 cup apple jelly, heated
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Press the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9-inch tart pan.

Place the figs in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar and lemon juice; toss gently to combine.

Spread the warm jelly over the pastry.

Arrange the figs in a circular pattern on the jam covered pastry. Sprinkle with pecans.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the fruit juices bubble and the crust is browned. Cool before cutting.

Fig Scones

Ingredients

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
10 ounces dried figs, diced small
2 cups heavy cream, cold
¼ cup honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the diced figs.

In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and honey.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the heavy cream mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until the ingredients are moistened.

Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until a soft dough forms, sprinkling more flour in if needed. Divide the dough into two equal balls.

Working with one at a time, pat each one into an 8-inch circle and cut into 8 triangles. Transfer the triangles to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Small-Batch Fig Jam

Makes about 2 ½ cups

Ingredients

1 lemon
1 orange
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 whole thyme sprigs
2 pounds ripe fresh figs, stemmed and quartered

Directions

Remove the strips of rind from the lemon and the orange using a vegetable peeler, avoiding the white pith.

Combine the rind strips and the remaining ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan or large Dutch oven.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce the heat to medium; and cook 50 minutes or until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

To test for jam stage, place a small amount on a chilled plate. Tilt the plate and the preserves should move sluggishly.

(If testing with a candy thermometer, it should read 220°F.) Discard the thyme and citrus strips.

Pour into refrigerator or freezer storage jars. Store in the refrigerator for several months or the freezer for up to six months.



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