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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Breakfast

This is the perfect time of year to go creative with your salad making recipes.  So many fresh ingredients are available in summer that you will not get bored with the variety of salads to you can make. Below are a few I have made and you might like to give them a try.

Shrimp Cobb Salad

Mini corn muffins (see recipe) go well with this salad.

For 2 servings

For the shrimp
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled, tails removed and deveined
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the ranch dressing
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon dried dill

For the salad
1 slice cooked bacon, crumbled
1 cup shredded carrots
8 grape tomatoes, halved
Half a cucumber, peeled and diced
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce, sliced
½ cup crumbled blue cheese (or any other cheese)

Directions

To prepare the shrimp:

Early in the day.

Peel and devein the shrimp. Place them in a skillet with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss together.

Spread the shrimp in one layer and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, just until pink. Refrigerate until time to make the salad.

To prepare the dressing:

In a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until fully mixed. Add in the other ingredients, adjusting for taste.

Refrigerate until serving time.

To assemble the salad:

Arrange the lettuce in the bottom of two salad plates. In rows across the lettuce arrange the shrimp, carrots, tomatoes, egg and cucumber.

Crumble the blue cheese and bacon over the salad ingredients. Serve with the dressing.

Mini Corn Muffins

Makes 24 mini muffins

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (coarse or regular)
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 scallion, minced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 24 mini muffin tin with cooking spray or use paper liners.

Sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Combine the buttermilk, egg and oil in a big measuring cup. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.

Fill the muffin cups three-quarters full.

Bake until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.

Mexican Corn Salad

Serve with fresh tomato salsa and homemade tortilla chips, recipes below.

Ingredients

8 ears corn, kernels stripped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
Half of a large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 grape tomatoes, halved, optional garnish

Directions

In a serving bowl, place chopped celery, onion and peppers. Add the corn, salt, cumin and chili powder. Mix well. Stir in the mayonnaise.

Arrange the cut tomatoes around the top of the salad to garnish, if desired. Chill the salad until serving time.

Fresh Homemade Salsa

About 3 cups

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced sweet onion
2 medium chile peppers, such as poblano, New Mexico or Anaheim, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder or chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
2 tablespoons lime juice

Directions

Be very careful while handling chile peppers. You can, avoid touching the cut peppers with your hands if you use disposable gloves or hold the peppers with a plastic sandwich bag.) Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours.

You can make the salsa in one of two ways: finely chop the ingredients by hand or use a processor. I prefer to finely chop all the ingredients because I like a chunky, more rustic salsa that is easy to scoop on tortilla chips.

For the processor method:

Roughly chop the tomatoes, chilies and onions.

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse only a few times-just enough to finely dice the ingredients but not enough to purée them.

Place the mixture in a serving bowl. Taste the salsa. If the chilies made the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. Adjust for salt.

Let sit for an hour at room temperature for the flavors to combine. Serve with homemade tortilla chips.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

Olive oil

One package (8-10) large (12 inch) flour tortilla

Taco seasoning mix, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil two rimmed baking sheets.

Brush the tortillas with olive oil and sprinkle each evenly with taco seasoning.

Cut the tortillas into 6-8 triangles and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake until golden brown and crisp, rotating the baking sheets once, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Taco Seasoning Mix

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, mix all together. Store in an airtight container.

Tabbouleh

Serve with pita chips and hummus.

Ingredients

1 cup bulgur wheat
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup (about 1 pound) chopped very ripe tomatoes
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped fresh mint, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kalamata olives and Feta cheese for garnish
Romaine lettuce leaves for serving
Warm Pita bread or Pita chips, for serving

Directions

Rinse the bulgur in a fine-mesh sieve under cool running water until the water runs clear, then transfer the bulgur to a bowl.

In a heatproof bowl, mix the bulgur with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 cup boiling water.

Cover, and let stand until tender but slightly chewy, about 30 minutes.

Drain the bulgur to remove any liquid not absorbed.

In a large bowl, combine the scallions, parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, mint, remaining salt, pepper and cumin.

Add the soaked bulgur to the bowl and gently toss.

Add the olive oil and the lemon juice and lightly toss, adding more seasoning if necessary.

Set the tabbouleh aside for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend. Cover and chill overnight.

When ready to serve, garnish the salad with kalamata olives and feta cheese. Serve with romaine lettuce leaves and pita bread.

Baked Pita Chips

If you do not have access to Za’atar seasoning, you can make your own. See recipe below.

2 packages of whole wheat pita breads
Olive oil
Za’atar seasoning

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush each pita on both sides with olive oil.

Cut each in quarters and place on baking sheets. Sprinkle with Za’atar seasoning,

Bake until crispy and brown about 15 minutes.

Homemade Za’atar Seasoning

Makes 1/4 cup

Combine 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon sumac, 1 tablespoon ground cumin and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds.

Stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly and store in an airtight jar.

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What is great about grilling a whole chicken is that you not only get a delicious BBQ dinner but you also have plenty of chicken leftover for a few other meals during the week.

So what can you use that leftover chicken for?
Sandwiches and Panini
Tacos
Salads
Add to Pasta
Topping for Pizza
Mexican tacos and enchiladas

How To Grill Chicken The Easy Way

Butterflying the chicken before grilling is an excellent way to cook chicken on the grill.

Flattening the chicken exposes more surface area to heat, so overall cooking time is reduced. That means you can slash about 15 minutes off the usually cooking time.

Another benefit is that chicken has two different kinds of meat that are cooked through at two different temperatures. Breast meat starts drying out after it reaches 150° F, but dark leg meat isn’t thoroughly cooked until 165° to 170° F. By opening up the chicken and cooking it flat brings both kinds of meat to the correct temperature at the same time. This method also produces crispy skin, if that is to your likeness.

Weber Video on how to butterfly a chicken.

Ingredients

One 4-pound chicken

Rub
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together the rub ingredients.

Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the chicken backbone; discard the backbone. Turn the chicken breast side up and press down firmly on the breast bone to crack and flatten it. Remove the wing tips.

Transfer the flattened chicken to a medium baking dish. Spread the rub over the entire chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours before grilling.

Light an outdoor grill and oil the grates.

Grill the chicken, skin side down, over medium heat until the skin is browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Turn the chicken skin side up, cover and grill over low heat until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Use an instant read meat thermometer to check to see if it is cooked through.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Carve the chicken and serve.

Corn on the Cob, Baked Beans and Coleslaw are all good side dishes to serve with BBQ chicken. However, today I made asparagus on the grill and a corn saute because I was in the mood for something a little different.

Grilled Asparagus with Egg Dressing

Ingredients

1 lb asparagus
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Ranch Dressing, See recipe below.
1 hard-boiled egg, diced

Directions

Cut the woody stems from the asparagus and wash well. Dry the asparagus on some paper towels.

Place them on a sheet of heavy-duty foil that has a few holes poked into it. Place the foil on a plate or tray.

Arrange the asparagus in a single layer on the foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the foil (Do not close the foil – leave flat) with the asparagus on the grill, cover and cook for 6 minutes.

Turn the asparagus, cover and cook until tender, about 6-8 more minutes.

Remove the asparagus to a long plate. Drizzle the ranch dressing across all the center of all the asparagus and sprinkle with the diced egg.

Serve immediately.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Ingredients

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon dried dill (or a teaspoon chopped fresh)

Directions

In a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until fully mixed. Add in the other ingredients, adjusting for taste.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Keeps for a week, covered in the fridge.

Summer Corn Saute

I like to make an extra portion of this simple and easy corn dish, because leftovers are so handy to add to tacos o r to a stuffing for vegetables.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 cups fresh corn kernels
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Directions

Melt the butter in a medium skillet. Add the corn, salt and pepper; sauté for 3- 4 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle the corn with chives and serve.


Planning your menu before you go shopping is a practical skill that will save you time and money. At this time of year, you want easy to prepare meals that utilize what is in season and you want to cook healthy meals most of the time. This does take a little planning but well worth the time. Here are a few ideas to help you plan next week’s menu.

Fish Parmigiano

Serve this fish entrée with basil pesto pasta and yellow summer squash.

Ingredients

4 white fish fillets (about 6 oz each), such as flounder, tilapia, halibut, etc.
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 to 1 ½ cups Italian seasoned panko crumbs
Olive oil plus olive oil cooking spray
1 cup Marinara sauce, heated
4 slices mozzarella cheese

Directions

Cover a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil and coat with olive oil cooking spray.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush each fish fillet on all sides with the mayonnaise.

Place the coated fish in the panko crumbs and press the crumbs into the fish on all sides.

Place the fillets on the prepared baking pan and drizzle the top of each fillet with a little olive oil.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and place hot marinara sauce on each fillet (about ¼ cup on each) and top with a slice of cheese.

Return the pan to the oven and cook about 5 minutes more or until the cheese is melted.

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta

Serve this pasta entrée with a tomato salad.

Topping

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Cauliflower

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, chopped fine
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 minced garlic cloves
12 ounces short pasta
1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

For the topping:

Combine the breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat.

Cook, stirring, until the mixture is well toasted and golden-brown.

Stir in the thyme; remove from heat, and reserve.

For the cauliflower:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium baking dish, combine the shallots, cauliflower, garlic, salt and red pepper.

Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the cauliflower is tender and browned.

Remove the dish from the oven and stir in the cream and Parmesan cheese. Set aside while the pasta cooks.

For the pasta:

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and return the pasta to the pan.

Turn the heat to very low and add the cauliflower sauce. Heat for a minute or two and pour into a pasta serving.

Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping over the top of the pasta and serve.

Pork Chops Pizzaiola

Pizzaiola is a term used for a Neapolitan style pizza tomato sauce. I like to use it over pork cutlets or beef steak. Mashed potatoes and a green vegetable are good sides for this entrée.

Ingredients

For the pork

4 boneless pork chops, about 4 oz each
1 egg, beaten
1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

For the sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bell pepper, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ½ cups crushed Italian tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 basil sprig

Directions

For the pork:

Trim the pork chops of all fat. Pound them between sheets of plastic wrap until about a ¼ inch thick.

Beat the egg with a little water. Season the pork with salt and pepper.

Dredge the pork cutlets in the Italian breadcrumbs. Place on a plate and refrigerate until ready to cook.

It is important to refrigerate the breaded pork for a few hours, so that the breading stays put when the pork is cooked.

For the sauce:

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and add the onion, bell pepper and garlic.

Cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and let the sauce simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.

To cook the pork:

Cover the bottom of a large skillet with a thin coating of olive oil. Heat.

Add the pork cutlets and cook until brown on one side, turn and cook the second side until brown.

Drain the chops on paper towels. Place on serving plates and top with the Pizzaiola sauce.

Dinner Frittata

I usually make extra grilled vegetables, so I can use them in a frittata or quiche.

Serve this entrée with an Italian Mixed Greens Salad.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 cups leftover grilled potatoes, peppers and onions
See recipe link 
1 cup cooked spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
6 large eggs beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
3 slices of your favorite cheese

Directions

Preheat the broiler

Heat the oil and butter together in an ovenproof nonstick skillet.

Add the potato and pepper mixture and cook until hot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Scatter the crumbled bacon over the mixture.

Pour the beaten eggs over all and cook until the eggs are set on the bottom.

Distribute the cooked spinach over the top of the frittata.

Break the cheese slices into quarters and place them evenly over the spinach.

Place the skillet under the broiler and cook the frittata until the cheese melts.

Remove and let rest for 3 or 4 minutes. Cut into serving pieces.

Chicken Piccata

Serve this quick cooking chicken entrée with noodles dressed with butter, Parmesan cheese and parsley and a green vegetable.

Serves 2

Ingredients

Two 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded until thin and even
Coarse salt
Ground white pepper
1/4 cup finely ground all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
2 tablespoons small capers, drained
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and white pepper. Lightly coat in flour. Shake off excess.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the olive oil and butter, swirl them around the pan, and add the chicken.

Turn the heat to high and saute the chicken 2 minutes per side.

Pour in the wine, swirl it around the pan for 20 seconds, and turn the chicken over.

Add the lemon juice and capers, swirl them around in the pan and turn off the heat. Serve immediately.


Grilled Italian Sausage

Grill the sausage over indirect heat and the potato packets over direct heat. This meal saves lots of cleaning up in the kitchen.

Ingredients

1 ½ lbs Italian Sausage
Olive oil

Directions

Heat the grill for both direct and indirect cooking. Brush the sausage lightly with olive oil.

Place the sausage on the indirect side of the grill and close the cover.

Cook for 15 minutes and turn the sausage over. Cook for 15 more minutes. Slice and serve with the potato mixture.

Leftover sausage can be used in several ways. Add it to a pasta dish or omelet. It can be chopped and used in a stuffing for summer squash. And, it makes a great sandwich with some sautéed peppers and onions.

Potatoes, Bell Peppers and Onions

5-6 servings

Ingredients

4 medium red potatoes, cut into wedges, boiled until partially cooked
1 medium green pepper, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients.

Place the mixture on a piece of heavy-duty foil (about 18 inches square).

Fold the foil around the potato mixture and crimp the edges to seal.

Grill directly over high heat, rotating the packet several times, until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.

Baby Spinach Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette

Serves: 6

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Salad

1 pound baby spinach, washed and stems removed
3 hard-boiled eggs
3 baby beets. cooked
1/2 toasted chopped pecans
Half a red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Directions

Make the vinaigrette:

Heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Cook the shallot until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the vinegar and maple syrup. Cook until the mixture is slightly reduced. Season with salt and pepper.

Cool to room temperature.

In a salad bowl, place the baby spinach on the bottom. top with red onion, sliced egg and sliced beets.

Sprinkle pecans and blue cheese on top. Drizzle the vinaigrette over all and toss just before serving.

 

 


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.

 

 


While my primary cooking focus is on Italian food, I am fascinated with all the cuisines of the Mediterranean region. This geographical area broadly follows the olive tree, which provides one of the most distinctive features of the region’s cooking, olive oil. The region spans a wide variety of cultures such as, the Maghrebi, Levantine, Ottoman, Greek, Italian, Provençal and Spanish. History, as well as the impact of the Mediterranean Sea on the region’s climate and economy, mean that these cuisines share similar dishes, such as roast lamb, meat stews with vegetables and tomato (such as, Spanish andrajos and Italian ciambotta) and the salted cured fish roe, bottarga, found across the region. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and the country of Portugal. This series continues with Spain.

Madrid

Barcelona

The Mediterranean diet is the basis of Spain’s cuisine. The regions of Andalusia and Catalonia are best known for Spain’s olive oil. It is an important ingredient in Spanish salads and soups, such as gazpacho and salmorejo ( a cold soup made with tomato and bread). Whole olives, sometimes stuffed with anchovies or pimento (red pepper paste), are eaten as appetizers and snacks, or added to stews, hot pots and salads.

Spanish Food

Tapas

Some of Spain’s fertile agricultural regions are in Navarre, Andalusia, Murcia,the Balearic Islands and Valencia. Valencia is well-known for its citrus fruits. Other essential Spanish fruit includes bananas from the Canary Islands, strawberries from Huelva and Aranjuez (Madrid), Vinalopó grapes and peaches from Calanda (Aragon).

Valencia Oranges

Bread is traditionally served as an accompaniment to food, often with a little extra virgin olive oil for dipping. Bread with cheese is a common snack, and bread is also used to thicken soups and stews.

Spanish cuisine also features many rice-based recipes and paella is world-famous. Spanish paella is cooked outside on an open wood fire in a large flat-bottomed pan called a paellera and paella can include all types of ingredients including seafood, chicken, chorizo sausage, rabbit and even snails.

The regions in the north of Spain are well known for their milk and dairy products. Traditional desserts, such as cuajada (made with curd cheese) and rice pudding are made from such ingredients. Spanish cheeses include Manchego (Castile-La Mancha), Burgos (Castile-León), Cabrales (Asturias), Idiazábal (Basque Country) and Majorero (Canary Islands).

Spanish Beaches

Omelets and seafood are eaten often. The most popular fish dishes contain anchovies (very common in Cantabria), cod (typical of the Basque Country), “pescaíto frito” (fried fish) in Andalusia and seafood from Galicia. Fish and shellfish are used in a myriad of ways—grilled over hot coals and served with bread and salad, fried in olive oil and served as tapas (small appetizers served hot and cold in bars and bistros throughout Spain to accompany sherry, wine, or beer) dotted through a paella, or enjoyed in a saffron-infused stew with tomatoes, fish, shellfish, potatoes and wine.

Tomatoes, bell peppers (capsicum), potatoes and zucchini have now become synonymous not only with Spanish cuisine, but Mediterranean cuisine as a whole. Other commonly enjoyed vegetables include onions, garlic, asparagus, eggplant, spinach, cabbage, cucumbers, artichokes, lettuce and mushrooms.

These vegetables are used in rice dishes, stews such as cocida (a one pot dish with vegetables, beans and chicken or meat that originated in Madrid but is eaten throughout Spain) as well as soups such as gazpacho (a cold tomato-based soup) and a wide range of salads and vegetable side dishes.

Chickpeas and white beans are used to make hearty bean stews and flavorsome soups. Lentils, such as Spanish pardina lentils, are also added to stews and soups and are used in salads. Green beans and peas are used in a wide range of dishes including paellas and hot pots.

Popular nuts include almonds, pine nuts and hazelnuts which are often ground down and used to thicken and enrich the flavor of stews, sauces and soups. Toasted almonds are also a popular snack.

Meats like dry cured Serrano ham, lamb or chorizo sausage are used in small amounts to add flavor and texture to a dish instead of being the main ingredient.

Chicken is a popular addition to stews and rice dishes and eggs are used in a variety of dishes including tortilla de patatas, a traditional Spanish omelet with eggs, potatoes and onion.

For over 700 years much of Spain was ruled by the Moors (a Muslim tribal people from the Moroccan region of North Africa) and their influence remains today in many of the seasonings used in Spanish cooking including saffron, cinnamon and cumin.

Other commonly used seasonings include smoked paprika, garlic, flat-leaf parsley, pepper, sea salt, white wine vinegar and sherry vinegar, fresh chilies, capers, wine and lemon juice. These seasonings are all used to enhance, not mask, the natural flavors of the food.

Tortilla de Patatas

Ingredients

1 potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
4 eggs
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Cook the potato in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Drain.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onion and green pepper for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potato and cook for 2 minutes.

Whisk the eggs together in a bowl with the parsley, salt and pepper. Pour the eggs over the vegetables in the pan, cover, and cook gently over a low heat for 8 minutes.

Remove the lid and place under a hot oven broiler to cook for a minute or until the top is set. Cut into wedges to serve.

Gazpacho

This cold soup is delicious and refreshing—a perfect summertime meal served with bread.

Ingredients

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 cup peeled, seeded and roughly chopped cucumber
3 cups low sodium good quality tomato juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Garnish: chopped cucumber, onion or bell pepper

Directions

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

Chill in the refrigerator for twenty four hours for the best flavor.Garnish with chopped vegetables, if desired.

Add a few drops of Tabasco sauce for a spicy version.

You could use ripe, fresh tomatoes instead of tomato juice, but you need to skin and remove the seeds first.

Paella

The following paella recipe serves 4, and for best results cook in a 14 or 15-inch paellera. A large shallow frying pan makes an acceptable substitute. Most Spanish Paellas are made with seafood.

Prepare the vegetables:

Finely chop: 1 red onion,1 red and 1 green bell pepper, 4 cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons of fresh flat-leaf parsley.

1 cup of canned peeled tomatoes mashed with a fork.

Prepare the seafood:

Peel and devein 16 large shrimp
Cut 2 squid tubes into rings
Scrub and debeard 12 fresh mussels.
Cover the fish and refrigerate.

Sofrito

Sofrito is a Spanish tomato and onion sauce which is used as a flavor base for a variety of dishes, including paella.

To make the sofrito:

Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in the paella pan over a medium heat and cook the chopped red onion, 2 tablespoons of parsley and 3 of the chopped garlic cloves for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of Spanish smoked paprika.

cook until all the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated and the sofrito has the consistency of jam. Transfer the sofrito to a small bowl to cool and wipe the paella pan clean with a paper towel.

Cook the mussels:

Bring a ½ cup of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Add the mussels, cover the pan and steam on a low heat for 5 minutes. Remove the mussels and set aside, discarding any that haven’t opened.

Cook the shrimp and squid:

Heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in the paella pan over a medium-high heat. Add the remaining clove of chopped garlic and the shrimp and cook for 1½ minutes. Add the squid rings and cook for a 1½ minutes more. Remove the shrimp and squid from the paella pan and lightly season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and set aside.

Prepare the paella:

Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in the paella pan over a medium heat and cook the diced red and green peppers for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the sofrito back to the pan along with 1½ cups of Spanish Calasparra or Bomba rice and cook for a minute, stirring to coat the grains.

Add 3 cups of heated fish or chicken stock, a pinch of saffron threads, 1½ teaspoons sea salt and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine, and bring to a bubbling simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, uncovered without stirring. (To make sure the rice cooks evenly you will need to regularly move the paella pan around the heat source, or you can position the paella pan over two burners.)

Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes more without stirring. After 15 minutes, turn the heat up to medium-high for a minute or so until you can smell the rice toasting at the bottom, then remove the paella pan from the heat.

Push the cooked shrimp, mussels and squid into the cooked rice and scatter a half a cup of defrosted frozen green peas over the paella.

Cover the pan with foil or a clean cloth and let the paella rest for 5 minutes.

Present the paella in the pan at the table with lemon wedges.

Classic Spanish Flan

Makes 12 servings

For the flan:

4 cups whole milk
2 strips lemon zest
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar

For the caramelized sugar-coating:

1/2 cup sugar
5 by 9-inch mold

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300º F.

To prepare the caramelized sugar-coating, spread the sugar evenly in the bottom of a small heavy saucepan and place over medium-low heat. It may take several minutes before the sugar begins to melt. Without stirring, watch the sugar closely as it begins to liquefy at the edges. All of it will slowly turn first into a yellowish and then golden syrup and finally into a brown caramel sauce.

When the liquefied sugar is turning from golden to brown, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. (If you miss this point, the sugar will quickly turn too dark and taste bitter and you will need to discard it and begin again.)

Working swiftly, pour the liquid caramel into the flan mold and tilt to cover the bottom and sides evenly. It is important to do this transfer quickly, as the change in temperature causes the caramel to solidify rapidly. Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, lemon zest and cinnamon stick over high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately decrease the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes to infuse the milk with the flavor of the seasonings. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a bowl, combine the whole eggs, egg yolks, and granulated sugar and whisk until foamy. Pour the cooled milk through a fine-mesh sieve held over the egg mixture and whisk until well blended. Pour the mixture into the coated mold.

Place the mold in a large, deep baking pan or roasting pan. Pull out the oven rack, put the baking pan on it, and pour boiling water to a depth of about 1 inch into the pan to create a water bath. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until set when tested with a thin-bladed knife in the center. Carefully remove the water bath from the oven, and then carefully remove the custard from the water bath and set aside to cool completely.

You can cover and refrigerate the cooled flan to serve cold, or you can serve it at room temperature. Run a knife around the inside of the mold to loosen the edges of the custard and then invert the flan onto a dessert plate.

Bullfighter Daniel Luque performs during a bullfight as part of the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain. The Fallas festival, which runs from March 15 until March 19, celebrates the arrival of spring. (David Ramos/Getty Images)


Lunch Menu

Iced Tea
Deviled Eggs
Stuffed Mini Peppers
Mediterranean Grilled Tuna Salad
Spinach Triangles with Tzatziki Sauce
Bread Sticks, Pickles
Dessert: Almond Sponge Cake with Strawberries and Cream

Iced Tea

Republic of Tea: 1 Peach Ginger Iced Tea Bag and 4 Naturally Sweet Tea Bags
Slices of Lemon, Lime and Oranges
Prepare the tea according to package instructions. Pour into a serving pitcher and chill.
To serve: Pour into tall glasses, add ice cubes and fruit slices before serving.

Mediterranean Grilled Tuna Salad

Ingredients

Tuna Marinade

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice (plus lemon wedges for serving)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic—grated
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 lb tuna fillet, one inch thick

For the Salad

2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup bottled roasted red peppers , drained and chopped
5 Kalamata (brine-cured) black olives , pitted and chopped
1 large celery rib , chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoon Italian parsley , chopped
1 teaspoon celery seed
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons toasted pignoli (pine nuts) or basil for garnish

Directions

To grill the tuna:

Combine the marinade ingredients in a measuring cup. Place the tuna in a glass dish and pour the marinade over the fish. Chill for one hour.

Cook the tuna on a hot grill for about 10 minutes or cooked through, turning and brushing regularly with the marinade.

Cool the tuna and wrap in plastic. When cold, flake the tuna.

To make the tuna salad:

Whisk together lemon juice and mayonnaise in a bowl. Add the flaked tuna and the remaining ingredients and combine. Season with pepper. Chill until serving time. Garnish with toasted pine nuts just before serving.

Stuffed Mini Peppers

Ingredients

16 mini sweet peppers
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
3/4 cup Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped finely
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped finely
1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 lemon, zested
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

In a large rimmed baking pan with heavy-duty foil. Spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the peppers in half so they will lay flat. Lay the peppers on the baking sheet, cut side up. Season the insides of the peppers with salt and pepper.

Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, anchovy paste, onion, celery. herbs, cayenne pepper and the lemon zest together in a bowl. Toss thoroughly.

Fill the peppers with a little of this mixture and then drizzle the olive oil over the peppers. (If you are making these ahead of time, just cover with some plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook them.)

Roast for 15 – 20 minutes, until the peppers are soft and the breadcrumb mixture is golden.

Deviled 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
2 tablespoons chopped chives

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 chill. Sprinkle chives over the eggs and serve.

Spinach Triangles

Let the package of filo dough sit in the refrigerator overnight to defrost. Any remaining dough can be kept in the refrigerator well wrapped in plastic for four weeks or it can go back into the freezer.

Makes about 16 triangles

Ingredients

One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 scallions (green onions), minced
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
48 sheets filo dough, thawed
Olive oil
Tzatziki, recipe below

Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach with the scallions, parsley, dill, cheeses, eggs, salt and pepper until smooth.
Keep the filo dough not being used, covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying, while you work on the triangles.

Spread one sheet of the dough on a cutting board and brush with some olive oil. Place a second sheet of dough on top and brush with oil. Repeat with a third sheet.

Cut the layered filo in half lengthwise. Place one tablespoon of filling about 1″ from the corner of each strip. Fold one corner of fillo diagonally across to the opposite edge to form a triangle.

Brush lightly with oil. Continue to fold the triangle onto itself. Brush the outside of the triangle with oil and place the triangles seam side down on parchment covered cookie sheets at least 1” apart.Repeat until all the filling is used up.

Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Rolls can be made ahead and reheated just before party time.

Serve hot with Tzatziki Sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup peeled and seeded cucumber, finely chopped
1/3 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place the chopped cucumber in a fine mesh colander and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt.

Place the colander over a bowl and let the cucumbers drain for one hour.

Turn the cucumbers over on paper towels. Squeeze all the water out.

Combine the cucumber and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Almond Flour Sponge Cake

Cake

4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil for the pan

For the strawberry topping:

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1-2 teaspoons sugar (or more, depending on how sweet your strawberries are)

For the whipped cream:

1 pint heavy cream, well chilled
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan with oil. Swirl the oil in the pan and make sure it goes up the sides.

Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of the sugar listed in the ingredients onto the bottom of the pan.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites.

Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Slowly beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Scrape the beaten egg whites into another bowl and set aside.

In the mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the almond extract until smooth.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients — flour, baking powder and salt — and add to the egg yolk mixture. Stir together to form a thick dough.

Fold in the egg whites, 1/2 cup at a time, incorporating them fully between each addition. The final addition should result in a smooth, fluffy batter.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake on the center rack for 30 to 35 minutes, until it’s golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides, then turn the cake out onto a serving plate.

Allow the cake to cool fully before topping with strawberries and cream.

For the strawberry topping:

Combine the strawberries and sugar in a small bowl, and set aside to allow the juices to release.

For the whipped cream:

Place the bowl and whisk attachment for your stand mixer or a metal or glass bowl and beaters for your hand mixer in the refrigerator or freezer until they are cold.

Add the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to the chilled bowl, and beat on medium-high to high-speed until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat. Chill until ready to serve.



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