This is the season of abundance. Now cherries, apricots, plums, summer squash, watermelon and tomatoes, etc., start showing up at the markets – and they’re not being shipped here, unripe, from Mexico, Guatemala or Chile. This is truly the hallmark of the beginning of the season of abundance. There is so much to choose from, you have to stop yourself from buying more than you can use in a week. I try to incorporate as many of these vegetables and herbs into my recipes to get full benefit from them. I also freeze some produce for the winter, when these items are not available.
I don’t like a lot of mayonnaise in my salads, but feel free to add additional mayonnaise if ½ cup is not enough for you. Use seasonal vegetables in the salad whenever possible.
- 8 oz elbow macaroni
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 1/2 onion finely diced
- 1/2 bell pepper finely diced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved, seeded and finely diced
- 1/4 cup spicy cherry peppers, diced or pickle relish
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch black pepper
Make the dressing by combining the ingredients and set aside while you cook the macaroni. Cook the pasta al dente in boiling salted water, drain and add the dressing while the pasta is warm.
Add the chopped vegetables and mix well. Add salt to taste, but I find this type of salad doesn’t need salt. The mayonnaise, pasta cooked in salted water and seasonings add enough.
Chill the salad for several hours before serving.
Herb Marinated Grilled Chicken
The marinade used for this chicken recipe makes the chicken really delicious.
- One 3-4 pound chicken, wing tips removed
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh herbs ( I used oregano, basil, sage, parsley, rosemary, chives and thyme because that is what is growing in my garden.)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Combine the marinade ingredients in a small mixing bowl or measuring cup.
Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the chicken backbone; remove the backbone (Save it for broth).
Turn the chicken, breast side up, and press down firmly on the breast bone to crack and flatten it. Tuck the wings under the back.
Transfer the flattened chicken to a medium glass baking dish. Loosen the skin a little and rub the marinade under and over all the skin of the chicken.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator one hour before cooking.
Heat an outdoor grill to high with all the burners on, then, turn one or two burners to the lowest setting to create a low heat area.
Grill the chicken, skin side down over the hot side of the grill, until the skin is browned and crisp, about 8-10 minutes. Turn the chicken skin side up and move to the low heat side of the grill.
Cover and grill over low heat until cooked through, about 20 – 30 minutes. Internal temperature should be around 170 F.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Internal temperature should rise to 180 F. Carve the chicken and serve.
Big Batch Basil Pesto
Pesto freezes well. I don’t add Parmesan cheese to basil pesto until I am ready to serve it.
Makes 3 cups
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 4 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Wash basil well and drain in a colander.
In the bowl of a processor, place the garlic, salt, pepper and walnuts. Process until ground. Add the basil leaves and return the top with the spout removed.
While the machine is running slowly pour in the olive oil and process until the mixture is smooth. Pour into a refrigerator container or into freezer containers.
Drizzle a layer of olive oil on the top of the pesto to keep it from turning dark.
Green Beans and Potatoes with Pesto
- 1 pound potatoes, cut into thick slices
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup Basil Pesto, recipe above
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Place the potatoes in a large steamer basket fitted over a pot of boiling water. Cover and steam for 5 minutes.
Add the green beans to the potatoes in the steamer and continue to cook, covered, for another 5 minutes. Drain
Transfer the vegetables to a large serving bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the pesto, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Stir to coat evenly.
Leftover Grilled Chicken Salad Plate
- Leftover grilled chicken, sliced (see recipe above)
Any combination seasonal vegetables, such as :
- Sliced tomatoes
- Cooked corn on the cob, shucked
- Red onion, sliced
- Sliced bell pepper
- Boiled potatoes
- Sliced cucumber
- Cooked green beans
- Slices of ripe cantaloupe melon
- 3 cups fresh lettuce
- Homemade Ranch Dressing, (see recipe here)
Line a serving platter with the lettuce. Arrange the chicken slices and vegetables over the lettuce in an attractive pattern. Drizzle with the Ranch dressing before serving.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa, plus extra for the pan
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
- 2 cups shredded zucchini
- 2 1/2 cups cappuccino chips or semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- Chocolate sprinkles for garnish, optional
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly coat a 9″ x 13″ pan cake pan with cooking spray and lightly dust with cocoa powder.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Squeeze the shredded zucchini dry in a paper towel to remove some of the moisture.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the sugar, butter and oil until well blended and light.
Add the egg and continue beating. Beat in vanilla, buttermilk and applesauce.
Stir in the flour-cocoa mixture. Fold in the grated zucchini and mini chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake for 50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.
To make the topping:
Heat the chips and heavy cream in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Pour into a bowl and chill.
When ready to frost the cake, whisk the topping and spread on top of the cake. Add the chocolates sprinkles, if using.
Store the cake in the refrigerator.
Sometimes it seems that there are as many types of coffee in Italy as there are pastas. And just like pasta, Italian coffee is an art form with many customs and traditions. Whether it’s a caffè corretto thrown back like a shot, a cappuccino and brioche for breakfast or a granita di caffè con panna to cool off from the hot midday sun, in Italy there is a coffee drink specific for every time and mood. It would be fair to say that Italians are passionate about coffee. So much so, you would think they had discovered it. They didn’t.
Around 600 CE Ethiopian goat herders noticed their hyperactive goats were eating leaves and berries from a strange tree with glossy green leaves. Coffee was discovered and cultivation soon spread to Yemen. Around 900, Arab physician, Rhazes, first mentions coffee in print but as a medicine. Around 1400 Ethiopians were roasting, grinding and brewing coffee beans. Coffee as we know it was born.
When coffee was first shipped from the Middle East to Venice, it caused a uproar and was almost banned from entering the port. Coffee houses were already established in Istanbul, but the fate of this drink was in the hands of Islamic preachers, who at first considered it on a par with alcohol. Eventually, it was accepted under Islamic law and trade began in the 16th century. Coffee houses in Venice sprung up and very quickly the black drink, which was until now solely consumed as medicine, achieved status and it became a luxury item, out of reach for most of Venetian society. However, as coffee plantations became established within the European colonies in South America and Asia, availability increased, the price decreased and, as it became more accessible to the poorer population, it’s popularity increased.
With over two hundred coffee houses along its canals, the reputation of this new drink soon spread to the neighboring cities of Verona, Milan and Turin. Coffee consumption soon spread to Rome, Naples, Bari and Sicily. The spread nationwide escalated and it wasn’t long before every household in Italy became familiar with the drink, eventually evolving in a culture that is still relevant today.
Perhaps one of the most recognizable images that depicts the importance of coffee in Italian society is the ‘macchinetta’. The famous aluminum stovetop percolator, designed and produced by Bialetti in 1933, can be found in most Italian kitchens. However, times change and now electric coffee machines stand on bar counters that force scalding water over ground coffee beans to create a rich, frothy drink.
In Trentino ask for a ‘Cappuccino Viennese’ and you’ll be served a creamy coffee with chocolate and cinnamon. In the Marche region, stop for a ‘Caffè Anisette’, an aniseed-flavored espresso, in Naples enjoy coffee flavored with hazelnut cream and in Sicily, a ‘caffè d’u parrinu’, is coffee flavored with cloves, cinnamon and cocoa powder.
The Italian Coffee
Like many hot coffee drinks, The Italian Coffee is defined by a single liqueur. In this case – Strega, an Italian digestif. Strega brings a distinct herbal blend to coffee with hints of juniper, saffron and mint. When made with dark roasted beans this drink makes an excellent after dinner cup of coffee.
- 1 oz Strega liqueur
- Hot black espresso coffee
- Whipped cream for garnish
- Nutmeg for garnish
Pour the Strega into a glass coffee mug.
Fill with hot coffee.
Top with whipped cream
Garnish with grated nutmeg.
Makes 1 large mug
- 8 ounces water
- 1/4 cup espresso ground coffee
- 8 ounces milk
- Sugar (optional)
Pour the water into the bottom chamber of a stovetop espresso pot. Fill the filter basket that fits over the water with the coffee, tamping down gently. Place on the stovetop burner over medium-low heat. Watch carefully and remove from the heat as soon as all the water has boiled through the filter into the top part of the pot.
Meanwhile place the milk in a 16-ounce coffee mug. Heat in the microwave until hot but not starting to bubble on the sides. (Alternatively, you may heat the milk on the stovetop in a small pan, then transfer to a mug.)
Hold the handle of a small 4-inch whisk between the palms of both hands. Put the whisk in the hot milk and twirl rapidly back and forth until foam appears on the top, about 20 seconds. Pour the coffee into the mug. Sweeten if desired and serve immediately.
Chocolate Espresso Cake
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 cup brewed espresso coffee
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
Combine the first six ingredients (flour through salt) in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Add buttermilk, eggs, coffee, oil and vanilla. Beat 2 minutes with the mixer at medium speed. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in the baking pan on wire rack.
This plain chocolate cake is very moist.
Optional: Frost it with sweetened whipped cream with a teaspoon of cinnamon added to the cream or use your favorite chocolate frosting.
- 2 cups (16 oz.) freshly brewed espresso coffee
- ½ cup sugar
Put espresso and sugar into a medium bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves completely. Let rest until room temperature.
Pour coffee mixture into a medium baking dish and transfer to the freezer. Using the tines of a fork, stir the mixture every 30 minutes, scraping edges and breaking up any chunks as the mixture freezes, until granita is slushy and frozen, about 4 hours.
Divide granita into individual serving glasses or transfer into a plastic container, cover, and freeze until ready to serve.
If you want your soufflé to rise above the dish, you can make this in a 4-cup soufflé dish. Make a collar by wrapping a strip of buttered parchment paper around the outside of the dish and securing it with a string. Serve this soufflé with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.
- Butter to coat baking dish
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 3 tablespoons espresso brewed coffee
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 6 egg whites
- 4 egg yolks
Preheat oven to 400F.
Thoroughly butter a 2-quart soufflé dish or 6 (8-ounce) ramekins and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar.
Combine espresso and chocolate in a glass bowl. Microwave about 1 minute; stir until chocolate melts.
Whisk egg yolks into chocolate mixture.
Beat egg whites in a clean, dry bowl with a mixer until frothy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating until soft peaks form.
Stir about 1 cup egg white mixture into chocolate mixture. Fold remaining egg white mixture into chocolate mixture.
Spoon into the prepared souffle dish. Place on a baking sheet and bake 30 to 40 minutes (soufflé dish) or 20 to 25 minutes (ramekins), until soufflé rises. Serve immediately.
Espresso Pudding Cake
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups hot brewed espresso coffee
- 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Coat a 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
Whisk all-purpose flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk egg, milk, oil and vanilla in a glass measuring cup. Add to the flour mixture; stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish.
Mix hot coffee and brown sugar in the measuring cup and pour over the batter. (It may look strange at this point, but during baking, cake forms on top with sauce underneath.)
Bake the pudding cake until the top springs back when touched lightly, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
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