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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Breakfast

Asian Salmon

2 servings

2 center-cut skin-on salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each
1 teaspoon Asian chili oil or vegetable oil

Glaze
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh garlic

Directions

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.
Place the salmon fillets, flesh-side down, in the skillet and cook until well browned about 1 minute. Using a fish spatula ora flat spatula, carefully turn the salmon over and cook on the skin side for 1 minute.

Remove the skillet from the heat and spoon the glaze evenly over the salmon fillets. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the center of the thickest part of the fillets are cooked and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of fillets registers 125 degrees F, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer fillets to individual plates and serve with Asian fried rice.

Asian Fried Rice

4 servings. Makes a great leftover for lunch,

Ingredients

4 cups leftover cooked rice or uncooked cauliflower rice
2 bacon slices, cooked and diced
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
2 tablespoons Asian chili oil or peanut oil, divided
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced banana pepper or other thin-skinned pepper
1 teaspoon Asian Fish Sauce

Directions

Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add the beaten eggs and cook, without stirring, until fully cooked on one side, about 30 seconds. Turn the omelet over and cook for 15 seconds. Transfer the omelet to a cutting board and cut into ½-inch pieces.

Add 1 tablespoon chili or peanut oil to the pan along with scallions, ginger, and garlic; cook, stirring until the scallions have softened, about 30 seconds. Add banana pepper and celery; cook, stirring, until just tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer everything to a large bowl.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon chili or peanut oil to the pan; add the rice and stir-fry 2 minutes.

Return the vegetable mixture, bacon and eggs to the pan; add soy sauce, fish sauce and remaining sesame oil and stir until well combined. Serve with the salmon.

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Our blueberry bushes are producing lots of berries this month. I have used them in salads, pancakes, and desserts. Though I would share with you a few breakfast breads, I just made this week to use up some our bounty. There will also be plenty to freeze for the winter months.

Blueberry Bread

You can use any flavoring you like in this bread, It doesn’t have to be lemon.

12 servings

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 lightly beaten egg
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cup fresh blueberries

Topping
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8×4-inch loaf pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl stir together flour, 3/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture; set aside.
In another medium bowl combine the egg, milk, oil, lemon peel, and the 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Stir together the 2 tablespoons lemon juice and the 1 tablespoon sugar. While the bread is still in the pan, brush lemon-sugar mixture over the top of the loaf. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the bread from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before serving.

Blueberry Scones

Ingredients

Dough
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or the flavoring of your choice
1/2 cup milk

Topping
2 teaspoons milk
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
Work in the butter just until the mixture is uneven and crumbly;.
Stir in the blueberries.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and milk.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Sprinkle some flour on the parchment.
Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment, and form into a circle about 3/4″ thick.
Brush each circle with milk, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Using a knife or bench knife slice the circle into 8 wedges.
Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2″ space between them, at their outer edges.

Bake the scones for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.
Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm.


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.


Ripe avocados are typically a dark, almost black color with hints of green when they’re ripe. If you want to use the avocado as soon as you get home, choose one that is dark. If you plan to use one in a couple of days, select one that’s more green. If an avocado looks ripe, you should still feel it to test its ripeness. Hold it in the palm of your hand, and squeeze gently. A ripe avocado should yield to a firm, gentle pressure, but shouldn’t feel overly soft or mushy. Store whole, ripe avocados in the refrigerator.

Breakfast Sandwich

You can vary this sandwich by replacing the tomatoes with smoked salmon or adding bacon or a sausage patty.

For each serving:

1 large egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 slice sourdough, whole wheat, or pumpernickel bread, toasted
Half an avocado pitted and skin removed
4 thin slices of a plum tomato
1 slice American cheese

Directions

Heat the butter in a small skillet. Add the egg and cook over easy or the way you like to cook eggs.

Place a slice of toast on a small foil-lined pan.

Mash the avocado and season with salt and pepper. Spread the mashed avocado over the slice of toast. Place the tomato slices over the avocado. Top with the cooked egg.

Place the cheese on top of the egg and place the sandwich under the broiler just until the cheese begins to melt. Remove and serve immediately.

Avocado Boats

2 servings

Ingredients

1 ripe avocado, cut in half, pit removed
1 cup chicken salad, recipe below
Chopped chives or chopped cooked bacon for garnish
Lettuce, optional

Directions

Loosen the avocado flesh with a spoon by running the spoon around the shell. Do not remove the avocado from the shell.

Place a ½ cup of chicken salad on one avocado half. Garnish with chives or bacon. Repeat with the second half of avocado. Place on a lettuce leaf, if desired.

Chicken Salad

Ingredients

For the cooking the chicken

2 bone-in chicken breast halves
1 small onion, halved,
1 clove garlic, cut in half
The tops of the celery stalk that will be used in the salad
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups water

Ingredients for making the salad

4 scallions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced tops used for cooking the chicken
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Place 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Add the chicken breasts and remaining ingredients for cooking the chicken.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook the chicken about 15-20 minutes or until they are white through the center.

Drain the chicken over a bowl and save the broth for another recipe. Cool the chicken breasts. Discard the cooking vegetables. Dice the chicken.

Place the diced chicken in a mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and chill covered in the refrigerator for several hours.

Cobb Salad

2 servings

Ingredients

2 grilled chicken breasts or 2 cups chicken salad (recipe above)
4 slices bacon
Lettuce, chopped (4 cups)
2 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and sliced or cherry tomatoes
1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
4 ounces chilled blue cheese (preferably Roquefort), crumbled (1 cup)
4 hard-boiled eggs
Blue Cheese or Ranch Dressing
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Directions

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Gently lower in 4 large eggs into the water. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes.

Drain off the hot water and add ice cubes and cold water to the pot.

Once the eggs are cool to the touch, peel them and set them aside until you’re ready to assemble the salad.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.

Slice the hard-boiled eggs. Cut the avocado into slices.

Arrange the lettuce on two individual salad plates.

Place the chicken salad (or sliced chicken) on one area of the lettuce, the tomatoes on another followed by the eggs and avocado as you go around the plate.

Place the blue cheese in the center of the plate. Break the bacon into large pieces and place on the salad plates.

Sprinkle with chives and serve with Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing.

Blue Cheese Dressing

Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped chives
4 ounces blue cheese crumbles
1 dash salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, and Worcestershire until smooth. Stir in chives, blue cheese crumbles, salt, and pepper.

Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.


Have lots of leftovers from the holiday? I do. So I thought I would share with you how I used some them in some new dishes.

Ham Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

2 cups finely diced baked ham
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Half medium onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
Half a bell pepper, finely diced
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Combine the mayonnaise, mustard and pickle relish in a large bowl. Add the ham, vegetables, salt and black pepper to taste. Stir well and refrigerate until serving time.

This salad is also tasty mixed into cooked elbow macaroni for a ham and macaroni salad or as a sandwich filling.

Deviled Eggs

Good for leftover Easter eggs.

Ingredients

6 large eggs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Paprika for garnish

Directions

Place the eggs in a saucepan just large enough to hold the six eggs. Cover with cold water and place the pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and cover the saucepan.

Let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes. Drain the water from the pot and add some ice cubes and cold water to cover the cooked eggs.

Let them cool until you can handle the eggs without burning your fingers.

Gently tap the eggs in several places and remove the shells. Place the peeled eggs on paper towels to dry.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks and place in a mixing bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork. Add the onion, celery, mayonnaise, mustard and salt and pepper. Mix well.

With a spoon fill each egg where the yolk had been with some of the mixture.

Place the eggs on a serving platter and sprinkle the tops with paprika. Chill until serving time.

Coleslaw

I never use an entire cabbage at once, so I am able to get several meals from a head of cabbage.

Servings 4

Ingredients

Half a medium cabbage, sliced thin
2 scallions sliced
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup heavy cream (whipping)
1⁄2 tablespoon white vinegar
1⁄2 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the honey, salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, cream, vinegar and lemon juice, using a whisk. Add the cabbage and scallions, stir gently to mix.

Refrigerate until serving time.

Mock “Split Pea” Soup

12 cups

I had green beans and cauliflower leftover from the holidays and decided to use them in a soup along with the ham bone. I was so surprised that soup tasted just like split pea soup but without all the carbs. Amazing taste.

Ingredients

1 baked ham bone with some meat attached
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups water
1 onion or 1 leeks, diced
1 large carrot, diced
3 stalks celery with leaves, diced
2 cups cooked cauliflower
2 cups cooked green beans
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Put the ham bone in a large soup pot. Add the broth and water; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the meat is starting to fall off the bones, about an hour.

Remove the ham bone from the broth and set aside to cool.

Add the vegetables to the broth in the pot. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer until the vegetables are very tender about 30 minutes.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Remove the meat from the bones, cut into bite-size pieces and add to the soup.

Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.Heat on low for about 20 minutes.


Myths And Traditions About Hot Cross Buns According To The Smithsonian:

Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten during Lent, especially in the week leading up to Easter. Marked with an icing cross on top, they’ve been a holiday staple in many countries for centuries. (Versions of the hot cross bun even appeared in ancient Greece.) Given the bun’s long history, legends and superstitions have developed over time.

Here are a few:

Some believe the hot cross bun originated in St Alban’s, where Brother Thomas Rocliffe, a 14th Century monk at St Alban’s Abbey, developed a recipe called an”Alban Bun” and distributed the bun to the local poor on Good Friday.

In 1592, during the reign of Elizabeth I, it was forbidden to sell spiced bread, except at burials, on Good Friday, or at Christmas. If you violated the decree then you had to give all of your bread to the poor.

English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or grow moldy during the subsequent year. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all loaves of bread turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.

Another tradition encourages keeping a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone who is ill is said to help them recover.

If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwrecks.

They also expel bad spirits. Due to the blessed cross on top, hot cross buns hung in the kitchen are supposed to protect from evil spirits.

Those who share a hot cross bun are said to enjoy a strong friendship and bond for the next year. A line from an old Irish rhyme captures this lore, “Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be.”

I certainly wish my version of Hot Cross Buns brings you good luck!

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

12 buns

Ingredients

1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 cups bread flour or 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons.wheat gluten
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sourdough starter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
Powdered sugar icing, recipe below

Directions

Combine the flour, wheat gluten, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix with a paddle attachment to thoroughly combine the ingredients.

Add the sourdough starter, milk, butter, and vanilla. Mix together until a dough forms. Add the raisins, and mix into the dough.

Switch to the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth — about 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat the top. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double — about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough. Divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball. Place in a greased 13×9 inch baking dish.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place until double — about 30 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven 400°F for 20 minutes or cooked in the center and golden brown in color.

Cool on wire rack. Be sure the buns are completely cool before adding the frosting or the frosting will melt over the buns.

Powdered Sugar Icing

Combine the following ingredients to make a thick frosting.

1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

With a spoon, drizzle icing in a cross pattern over each bun.


Springtime On The Gulf Coast

I am a home cook that hates to waste food. I also don’t like heated up leftovers. So…I try to think of ways to reinvent my leftovers. In the past week, I had cooked asparagus, green beans, Swiss chard, Italian sausage and mini bell peppers to use up. The new recipes turned out just fine.

Ham and Asparagus Quiche

This is a good dish to use up some of your leftover cooked vegetable sides. We like this dish for a lighter dinner and I serve it with a salad.

6 servings

Ingredients

Press in the Pan Crust

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or Bob’s Red Mill Low Carb or Gluten-Free Baking Mix
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 oz (1 stick ) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3-4 tablespoons cold water

Quiche Filling

3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup baked ham cubes
1 cup chopped cooked asparagus
½ cup chopped cooked green beans
¼ cup cooked sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

To make the pastry

Place the flour, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the butter is cut into little pieces. Slowly drizzle in the cold water by tablespoons until the dough comes together.

Remove the dough from the processor and press onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator for an hour or two.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes until the edges begin to brown.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

To make the filling

In a medium mixing bowl combine all the filling ingredients. Pour the mixture into the partially baked pie crust. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 35-40 minutes until set. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

Sautéed Swiss Chard

This was the original recipe, I made for a side dish.

Ingredients

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
2 large bunches of Swiss chard, washed in several changes of water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste

Directions

Drain the washed chard very well. With a knife, remove the chard stems that run up the middle of each leaf.Save them for soup.

Cut the leaves into smaller pieces.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and black pepper.

Heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are tender.

Add the chard leaves and cook, covered, for 3-5 minutes until the leaves are wilted and brightly colored. Add a tablespoon of water to the pan if it seems like the leaves are getting too dry.

Add salt to taste and serve as a side dish. Reserve leftovers to make the patties for another meal.

Swiss Chard Patties

Ingredients

2 cups leftover cooked Swiss chard
2 tablespoons flour
1 scallions, minced
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Heat a stovetop griddle or a large frying pan. Oil the griddle. With a muffin-scoop drop batter onto the hot griddle.

Cook until lightly brown on the underside, Turn the patties over and cook until lightly brown. These patties make a delicious side dish.

If you have patties leftover, they make a great breakfast. Heat the patties in a skillet. Top each with a fried egg.

Sausage and Peppers with Spaghetti Squash

3 servings

Ingredients

4 cooked Italian sausage links
6 mini bell peppers, assorted colors
1 small yellow onion
1 ½ cups homemade or store-bought Marinara Sauce
One 2 lb spaghetti squash
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F and halve squash lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds from the middle of each half.

Arrange the squash halves in a baking dish, cut sides down. Pour 1/2 cup water into the dish and bake until just tender, 30 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and drain the water from the baking dish. Set the squash aside to cool.

Cut the onion and peppers into thin slices. Cut the sausage into ¼ inch circles.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and peppers and cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the Marinara sauce and sliced sausage. Heat the mixture until hot.

With a fork rack back and forth across the cooled squash to remove its flesh in strands…like spaghetti!

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add salt and black pepper to the skillet and then add the squash strands. Stir-fry for a few minutes until the squash is hot. Don’t overcook. Add the parsley, mix and serve with the sausage and peppers.



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