Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Cheese

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Grilled Lamb Chops

For the steak seasoning, I like Pensey’s Chicago Seasoning, but use whatever seasoning you like.

For 2

Ingredients

  • 4 loin lamb chops, 1 ½ lbs and 1 ½ inches thick, fat trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon steak seasoning
  • 2 lemon quarters

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Directions

In a zip-lock bag combine the lamb chops, oil, lemon juice and steak seasoning. Close the bag and mix well. Refrigerate the lamb chops overnight.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat and oil the grill rack. Remove the lamb from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.

Transfer the lamb chops to the grill. Cook 5 minutes,; turn and cook 5 minutes. Remove to a plate, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the lemon quarters.

If making the potatoes on the grill leave continue to cook them while the lamb chops rest.

Grilled Potatoes

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For 2

Ingredients

  • 2 Yukon Gold Potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper

Directions

Boil the potatoes in water for 6 minutes, until slightly cooked but firm in the center. Drain potatoes in a colander. Dry on paper towel.

Place the olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add the potatoes and mix well.

Place a piece of heavy-duty foil on the opposite side of the grill from the lamb chops. Spread the potatoes in a single layer on the foil. Cook for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking..

Cucumber Tomato Salad

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For 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber, peeled if bitter, sliced thin
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 medium tomato, halved and sliced
  • Ranch Dressing, recipe below

Directions

Place the cucumber slices in a bowl and sprinkle with the kosher salt.  Toss to distribute the salt evenly around the cucumber.  Let sit for 20 to 25 minutes while the salt helps pull excess moisture out of the cucumbers. Then rinse off the salt, drain the cucumbers and dry them with paper towels

Combine the cucumbers, tomatoes and red onion. Refrigerate until serving time. When ready to serve, dress the salad with some of the ranch dressing.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
  • Pinch of onion powder
  • Pinch of paprika
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Directions

Combine the buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic, chopped herbs, onion powder, paprika, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Mix until well combined then cover and place into a refrigerator for at least 30 before serving so the flavors have time to mingle.

Swordfish and Zucchini Kebabs  

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For 2

Ingredients

Swordfish

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil olive oil
  • 1 Swordfish Steak, 1 inch thick (about 12 oz)
  • 1 large clove garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Black pepper

Kebabs

  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed
  • 10 squares of red onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 skewers

Directions

Place swordfish in a glass dish, sprinkle with lemon zest and black pepper, scatter garlic over the fish and pour olive oil over all. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

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Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 1 inch pieces. I had 10. Remove 2 red onion rings from a large onion. Cut each ring into 5 –  one inch pieces.

Remove the garlic from the fish and cut the fish into 10 – one inch pieces.

Tread 2 skewers, alternating fish, zucchini and onion. Pour the dripping from the fish marinade over the skewers.

Heat an outdoor grill to high and oil the grill grates. Place the skewers on the grill and close the cover. Lower the heat to medium. Cook about 12 minutes until the fish is cooked through, turning the skewers halfway through the cooking time. Serve the kebabs over spaghetti.

 A New Way To Cook Pasta

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Angel Hair Pasta 

I have read several articles about cooking pasta in a skillet with less water. I made a full pound of spaghetti for this recipe to test this non-traditional procedure for cooking pasta. The leftovers will not be wasted. It worked very well. The pasta cooked quickly and was perfectly cooked. You do have to stir it often to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. It is definitely an energy and time saver, without loss of flavor.

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Ingredients

Pasta

  • 16 oz thin spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (1 oz)
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Directions

Place pasta in a dry 12 inch skillet (if pasta is very long, such as spaghetti, break the stands in half). Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 6 cups cold water.

Place over high heat and cook uncovered, stirring frequently to keep pasta submerged, until pasta is almost al dente, about 7-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pasta.

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Tilt the pan and spoon off the liquid that pools at the edge of the pan into a bowl, so that very little is left in pan. Add remaining ingredients to the pasta.

Return just enough cooking liquid to the pasta, tossing them with the spaghetti. Serve with the swordfish kebabs.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

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Use this sauce for the meatballs and eggplant recipes.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (28-ounce) containers Italian Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 large basil leaves

Directions

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in olive oil, until soft over medium to low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute; be careful not to overcook.

Add tomatoes, oregano and crushed red pepper to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and cover with a lid.

Cook for 25 minutes on medium heat. Stir in parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and mix in the fresh basil.

Makes about 7 cups of sauce.

Neapolitan Meatballs

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I call these Neapolitan meatballs because this is how my grandmother made them. She grew up in northern Campania before moving to America.

Makes 16 meatballs

Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 4 thick slices firm, hardy white bread, crust removed, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Add the bread to a medium mixing bowl and pour in the milk. Add the onion and garlic, stir and let sit for about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bread mixture. Gently combine all the ingredients with your hands until just mixed together. Don’t overwork the mixture or the meatballs will be tough.

Divide the mixture into 16 equal pieces and shape them into meatballs.

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You can brown the meatballs in a skillet in olive oil until brown. Or, you can put them on a foil lined baking pan and bake in a 350 F oven for about 25-30 minutes until brown.

Place the meatballs in a medium-large sauce pan or skillet and cover with some the homemade marinara sauce. Simmer for about 30 minutes before serving.

Eggplant Parmesan

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This is not a dish that can be prepared quickly, but with some of my make ahead tips, you can enjoy this entrée for dinner and have several leftovers for future use without spending all day in the kitchen. Eggplant freezes very well in all stages of its preparation. Additionally, I do not fry the eggplant, but bake it in the oven to reduce the calories.

For each one pound of eggplant, you will need:

  • 1 pound eggplant, peeled
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup refrigerated egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters) or egg whites
  • 1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat two large baking sheets with nonstick olive oil cooking spray.

Cut peeled eggplants crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (no thicker).  You want them to be thin.

Place the egg substitute in one shallow dish and the bread crumbs mixed with the cheese in another.

Dip the eggplant slices into the egg substitute, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 10-15 minutes longer.

To assemble the casserole, you will need:

Spray an  8 inch or 9 inch or 8-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

Preheat the oven to 375 °F.

  • 2 ½ cups Marinara sauce (see recipe above)
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 recipe breaded and baked eggplant

Directions

Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly. Spoon 1 cup of sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Add the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Italian Romaine Salad

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For 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 head of romaine lettuce, sliced, washed and dried
  • ¼ of a small red onion, cut into rings

Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions

Place the greens and onion in a medium salad bowl. In a jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Shake well and pour over the greens. Toss and serve.


milanovalentino

Valentino Collection

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Valentino Collection

Milan is a metropolitan city in the Lombardy region of Italy and it replaced the Province of Milan. It includes the city of Milan and other municipalities (comuni) and was first created by the reform of local authorities (Law 142/1990). It has been operative since January 1, 2015.

Italy’s fashion houses are legendary, from Dolce Vita to Prada and Versace to Valentino. The country has always been known for its meticulous craftsmanship and luxury materials, but it was only after Word War II that Italy emerged as a fashion destination. After the war Italy’s fashion industry got the confidence and the economic support to come into its own. In an effort to restore and stabilize the Italian economy after World War II, the Marshall Plan provided American aid for Italy’s textile businesses, which were mostly small, family owned operations. This investment spurred the production of leather, fur, silk and wool— the country’s most prized luxury materials to this day.

In 2009, this Italian city was named the fashion capital of the world. Every year, several major runway shows are held in Milan that showcase international fashion icons, buyers and models. The fashion industry in Italy is known for providing fashionable clothing and accessories that boast comfort, elegance, quality and fantasy. The purpose of Italian fashion is somehow different from the ones in New York, Paris and Tokyo. Italians prefer to buy clothes that will remain stylish longer, comfortable to wear and of good quality rather than fading trends.

Prada

Prada

Laura Biagiotti

Laura Biagiotti

During the ’50s and ’60s, while French labels like Christian Dior and Jacques Fath turned their focus fully on couture, only Italian fashion designers truly understood the need for women to have comfortable, versatile clothing that was also tailored and refined. Italian day wear took off in America and paved the way for the ready-to-wear collections coming out of Italy’s fashion houses today. Part of the reason Italy was the first market for day wear was a coterie of women designers who understood the needs of women. Germana Marucelli, Mila Schön, Simonetta and Galitzine: These women all came from Italian aristocracy and they found themselves without jobs and without any money after the war. What they knew were clothes and they had the technical know-how to create new designs.

Armani

Armani

Zegna

Zegna

In Italy, designers have shown excellence when it comes to creating clothes and accessories that are functional and practical. In terms of design, designers make sure that the fabrics and other materials used in producing clothes are of equal quality. The country’s fashion industry has remained competitive in the international fashion industry and the industry is playing a significant role in the recovery of the Italian economy from the recession that recently hit the country. Any improvement in the condition of the fashion industry will also be beneficial to other industries in Italy. This is because most of the regions and small factories in the country are involved in the production of fashion accessories, textiles, shoes and apparel.

Spring Fashion Week 2016

Laura Biagiotti

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Some of the largest fashion companies in the world are also headquartered in Italy. Many of the major Italian fashion brands, such as Valentino, Versace, Prada, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Marni, Iceberg, Missoni, Trussardi, Moschino, Dirk Bikkembergs, Etro, and Zegna are currently headquartered in the city. Among the newest labels are young designers, such as Sara Battaglia, Angelos Bratis and Aquilano.Rimondi.

Via Monte Napoleone, the leading thoroughfare in Milan's "golden quadrilateral". In 2010, it was ranked as the sixth most expensive shopping street in the world.

Via Monte Napoleone, the leading thoroughfare in Milan’s “golden quadrilateral”. In 2010, it was ranked as the sixth most expensive shopping street in the world.

Milan also hosts a fashion week twice a year in Milan’s main upscale fashion district, where the city’s most prestigious shopping streets (Via Monte Napoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Sant’Andrea, Via Manzoni and Corso Venezia) are found. Italy also is home to many fashion magazines, such as Vogue Italia, Vanity Fair, Elle, Glamour, Grazia, Amica, Flair and Gioia.

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In Milan not even the onslaught of the fall collections can prevent some of the city’s most stylish from preparing delicious, fresh food.

Want to feel like you are in Milan – make some of the recipes from their well-known cuisine.

Milanese Tripe Soup

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 pounds (1 k) boiled veal tripe
  • 12 ounces (300 g) cranberry beans, soaked overnight
  • 2/3 pound (300 g) carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 pound (200 g) canned tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • Sage
  • 2 onions, minced
  • A small stick celery, minced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A sprig of sage

Directions

If you haven’t bought the tripe already boiled, wash it very well, then cut it into fairly large pieces and boil it in a large pot for 30 minutes. Drain and discard the liquid.

Cover the tripe again with water and add a carrot, a celery stalk, an onion and salt. Bring to a boil. Skim the surface often and simmer for 4 hours, adding water if needed.

Drain it well and cut it into the traditional thin strips. Fill a pot with water and simmer the sliced tripe for another hour.

When the hour is almost up heat the butter and the oil in a Dutch oven and sauté the onions. When they are golden, add the tripe with its liquid, and, a few minutes later, the beans, celery, carrots, tomatoes and sage.

Season the pot with salt and pepper and add a little boiling water (just enough to cover). Cover and simmer on low for about three hours. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese.

Milanese Ravioli

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Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3 1/3 cups (400 g) flour
  • 4 eggs, divided
  • 10 ounces (250 g) ground beef
  • 3 cups (150 g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) softened unsalted butter, plus additional for the sauce
  • A few tablespoons of beef broth
  • Salt
  • A pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

Directions

Work the flour with a pinch of salt, two of the eggs and just enough water to obtain a smooth elastic dough. Knead it well, for 10-15 minutes, cover it with a damp cloth and set it aside.

Combine the ground beef with the butter and the grated Parmigiano. Add a pinch of nutmeg, the remaining 2 eggs, a few tablespoons of broth to moisten and mix well.

Divide the dough into two pieces and roll them out into two very thin rectangles.

Lay one of the sheets on the work surface and dot it with tablespoons of filling, separating them by a couple of inches (5 cm).

Lay the second sheet over the first, press down between the filling, so the sheets stick together and then cut each ravioli free with a serrated pasta wheel.

Bring a pot of water to boil, salt it and cook the ravioli for a few minutes, remove them with a strainer to a serving bowl. Serve them with melted butter and grated cheese.

Involtini di Vitello alla Milanese

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Ingredients

  • 12 thin slices veal, about one and one-half pounds, cut for scaloppine
  • 1/4 cup chopped prosciutto
  • 1/3 pound chicken livers, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon, plus 3 tablespoons,butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup fine fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup fresh or canned chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped sage or parsley

Directions

Put the slices of veal between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a flat mallet until even without breaking the tissues. Set aside.

Combine the prosciutto and chicken livers in a mixing bowl.

Heat one teaspoon of the butter in a small skillet and cook the onion, stirring, until it is wilted. Add this to the mixing bowl. Add the garlic, bread crumbs, nutmeg, pepper, lemon rind, egg and cheese. Blend well.

Lay out the pieces of veal in one layer on a flat surface. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon an equal portion of the filling on each slice.

Wrap the meat around the filling, folding and tucking the ends in envelope fashion. Tie each bundle neatly in two pieces of kitchen string. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Dredge the bundles all over in flour and shake off the excess.

In a heavy skillet large enough to hold the rolls, without crowding, in one layer, heat the remaining three tablespoons of butter and add the veal bundles.

Cook, turning the bundles occasionally, until they are browned all over, about three or four minutes. Reduce the heat and continue cooking over moderately low heat for 15 minutes. Remove the veal rolls to a serving plate.

Add the wine to the skillet and stir to dissolve the brown particles that cling to the bottom and sides of the pan. Add the chicken broth and herbs. Bring to the boil and let cook over high heat about five minutes.

Remove the strings from the veal rolls and pour the sauce over the rolls. Serve immediately.

Torta Paradiso

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From La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy by Academia Italina Della Cucina, 2009.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks room temperature butter
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • Zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cups potato starch

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 9 inch circular cake pan.

Beat the butter in an electric mixer until soft.  Mix the egg yolks into the butter one at a time.  Slowly add in the sugar.  Add the zest, flour and potato starch.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff.  Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes and insert a toothpick into the center of the cake to check if it is cooked.  If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, cook for a few minutes more until the toothpick is clean.

Remove the cake from the pan and set on a wire rack to cool.  Top with Mascarpone Cream.

Mascarpone Cream

From La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy by Academia Italina Della Cucina, 2009.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur

Directions

In an electric mixer, combine the 2 egg yolks with the sugar.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg white until still.  Fold the egg white into the egg yolk and sugar mixture.

Mix the egg and sugar mixture with the mascarpone cheese.  Add the Amaretto and stir to combine.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set.  Spread over the cooled Torta Paradiso.

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maydinnerschicken

In the US, we waste roughly 40 percent of all the food we produce. Food production is a resource-intensive process, requiring water, energy, land, soil, human labor and an elaborate web of production, processing and distribution. When we throw away food, all these resources are squandered.

Fortunately, the food waste dilemma is solvable. While the problem must be addressed at every sector of the food system, as individual food consumers, there are plenty of ways we can all help reduce waste – especially since there’s so much room for improvement. If you are interested in embracing a more sustainable lifestyle, eliminating food waste is an important and easy way to start. Reducing your food waste is actually very simple; all you need to do is buy what you need and eat what you buy.

If you buy more food than you can eat, you’ll eventually have to throw some away. Avoid waste by shopping smarter. Make a plan of what to cook for the next week based on what is available seasonally. Write a shopping list based on that plan.

Make a conscious effort to keep track of the food you have – and then remember to eat it.

Learn to store foods properly to keep them fresh as long as possible. Use this chart to learn this information: http://www.savethefood.com/food-storage

The dinners this week will highlight my frugal nature. If you recall last week, I made several toppings for grilled steak and those leftover toppings can become the star in a new dish.

The leftover topping recipes can be found here.

Pizza with Peppers and Onions

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4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 1 cup leftover Tomatoes, Red Onion and Balsamic Sauce (see link above)
  • 2 cups leftover Peppers and Onion Topping (see link above)
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the lowest position in the oven.

Spread the pizza dough to the edges in a greased pizza pan.

Top the dough with the mozzarella slices.

Spread the tomato sauce over the cheese. Top with the peppers and onions and then with the oregano. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese.

Place the pizza on the bottom oven rack and bake 15-20 minutes.

Chicken Cutlets with Mediterranean Salad

maydinnerssalad

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 thin chicken cutlets
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • Olive oil

Salad

  • 1/2 cup leftover olive topping (see link above)
  • 1 small head of romaine lettuce, sliced
  • Half a cucumber, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 of a red onion, sliced
  • 1 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

For the chicken

Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.

Set up the dredging stations: one rimmed plate for the beaten egg, one plate for the flour and one plate for the bread crumbs.

Using a fork, coat the chicken first in the flour (shaking off any excess), then in the egg, then in the crumbs, pressing the chicken into the crumbs to thoroughly coat.

Saute each breast in the oil for about 2 minutes on each side. The cutlets are cooked when chicken is firm to the touch but not rock hard.

Remove and drain the chicken on a paper-towel-lined dinner plate.

For the salad:

In a large salad bowl, combine the Romaine with the other salad ingredients.

Whisk together the olive oil, oregano, lemon juice and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss and serve alongside the chicken cutlet.

Grilled Sausage

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Extra sausage may also be used for pizza or as an addition to pasta. See recipe below.

4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Italian pork sausage
  • 1 cup leftover cooked peppers and onions (see link above)

Directions

maydinnerssausage

maydinnerssausage1

Prepare an outdoor grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas). If using a charcoal grill, open vents on the bottom of the grill, then light the charcoal.

When the charcoal turns grayish white about 15 minutes after lighting, the grill is ready. If using a gas grill, preheat the burners on high, covered for 10 minutes.

On a charcoal grill, spread the coals over the rear two-thirds of the firebox and leaving the front third coal-free. On a gas grill, turn off all but one burner. Sausages should be grilled over indirect heat.

There’s no need to prick sausages with toothpicks or a fork before grilling. Perforating the casing only releases flammable fats, juices and flavor.

Lightly brush or rub the casings with olive oil. This prevents sticking and makes them extra crisp.

Handle with care. The key to a juicy sausage is to keep the casing intact. Use tongs and don’t break the sausage skin when turning.

Grill the sausages over the indirect part of the grill until crusty and golden brown on the outside and cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning them over after 15 minutes.

Rotini Pasta with Creamy Pesto and Zucchini

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We planted basil last week and within a few days I had enough leaves to make pesto for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz rotini pasta
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper
  • 2 grilled Italian sausage links, diced, if using
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

maydinnerspasta

Boil a pot of water and add salt and rotini. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil and add the diced zucchini and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook about 2 minutes and add the diced sausage. Cook another 2 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the pesto and half & half. Stir well. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and cooked pasta. Mix well and serve.


toppingsteakgrill

Delmonico steak refers to one of several cuts of beef (typically the rib cut) and the method of preparation, that was made by Delmonico’s Restaurant, a steakhouse in New York City, during the mid-19th century. According to some sources, the original Delmonico steak was a boneless top sirloin, almost two inches thick with delicate marbling and cooked to the preference of the diner

Delmonico’s steak may, now, refer to other cuts and various preparations in different parts of the USA. These wider variety of beef cuts may be broiled, fried or grilled. Some of the steak cuts commonly referred to as Delmonico steak include:

Boneless rib-eye steak: A Delmonico cut rib-eye consists of two heart cuts of rib-eye tied together with butcher’s twine. It resembles a filet mignon in appearance, but is quite large. The Delmonico Steak served by the current Delmonico’s in New York is a boneless rib-eye.

Bone-in top loin steak: (a triangular-shaped, short loin cut, the first cut of the top loin next to the rib end) also known as a club steak, country club steak, shell steak or strip loin steak).

Boneless top loin strip steak: (also known as a New York strip steak, Kansas City steak, strip loin, ambassador, boneless club or hotel steak)

Ingredients

  • 2 (8-10 ounce) Delmonico (rib-eye) steaks

Marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon steak seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon steak sauce (e.g. A-1)

Directions

Combine the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic, onion, rosemary, steak seasoning and steak sauce in a glass dish. Add the steaks and marinate several hours in the refrigerator.

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Let the steak sit at room temperature for an hour before grilling.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat or light charcoal and wait until coals are completely white.

Remove the steaks from the marinade and discard the marinade. Lightly oil the grilling surface and place the steaks on the grill. Cover and grill the steaks for about 5 minutes on each side, or to your desired degree of doneness.

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It is best to use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness. A rare steak will be at about 125 to 130 F. Medium rare is 130 to 140 degrees. For medium, you want a temperature of 140 to 150 degrees. Medium well is 150 to 160 degrees and well done is 160 to 170 degrees. Cover the meat with an aluminum foil tent for 5 minutes before slicing.

Blue Cheese Sauce

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons white wine  vinegar
  • 6 ounces crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Minced fresh parsley

Directions

Place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; after the butter melts, add the shallots and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add vinegar, stir and cook until it is just about evaporated, 1 or 2 minutes. Turn heat to low and stir in the cheese, cayenne and a few grindings of black pepper. Stir occasionally until the cheese melts.

Keep warm while the  steaks grill.

Porcini and Truffle Butter

steak5

A small pat of this butter is outstanding on top of your grilled steak.

Use the flavored butter on grilled meats and fish, under the skin of poultry before you roast it or on steamed or grilled vegetables. It can easily be substituted for butter in most savory recipes.

Because the flavor difference between white and black truffles is subtle, white and black truffle oil may be used interchangeably in recipes. Use truffle oil in small amounts. Drizzle it, do not pour it. Cooking with truffle oil is not a good idea. High heat will compromise the truffle flavor, therefore, truffle oil should be added to cooked dishes or sauces at the end of the cooking process just before serving.

Since truffles are very difficult to find and very expensive, I use dried porcini mushrooms in the butter to enhance its flavor. Truffle butter freezes very well and can be stored for a year or more frozen.  Once thawed it should remain refrigerated and should be used within about 3 weeks.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons dried Porcini mushrooms
  • 8 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon white or black truffle oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Be sure to use boiling water since the mushrooms will not receive any additional cooking.

Allow the mushrooms to stand for 15 minutes, then drain and chop coarsely.

In a small bowl, mix together the butter and truffle oil. Add the salt.

Cut a piece of plastic wrap, about 12 x 12, and lay it flat. Using a spatula, place the butter onto the plastic wrap and form into a log, about 1 inch thick.

steak4

Roll the butter up in the plastic wrap so it forms an even log or sausage shape. Twist the ends tightly.

Place the rolled up butter into the refrigerator to chill until firm. Store the log in a plastic zip top bag in the refrigerator until ready to use. The log may also be frozen.

Tomatoes, Red Onion and Balsamic Sauce

steak3

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (oregano, basil or parsley)
  • ¼ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar

Directions

Heat the oil in a small skillet and add the onions. Cook until softened. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes are cooked and become saucy.

Stir in the herbs, salt and pepper and heat for a minute or two. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar.

Set aside until the steak is cooked. Serve the sauce over the sliced grilled steak.

Peppers and Onion Topping

toppingsteakpeppers

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive  oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 large sweet onions, halved and sliced
  • 4 large green bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 2 large red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the garlic. After a minute add the onions, peppers, oregano and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Slice the steaks thinly and serve with the peppers and onions.

Olive and Herb Topping

toppingsteakolives

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves; pressed or grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 7-8 oz jar Kalamata olives, drained and halved
  • 7-8 oz jar Sicilian green olives, drained and halved
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Directions

 

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cover and let marinate for several hours before serving. The olive salad can be made a day before and refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serve over sliced grilled steak.


aostafontina

The Aosta Valley is a mountainous area in northwestern Italy. It is bordered by the Rhône-Alpes in France to the west and Switzerland to the north. it is the smallest, least populous and least densely populated region of Italy. It is the only Italian region that no longer has any provinces. The province of Aosta was dissolved in 1945. However, the region is divided into 74 comuni (communes) and Italian and French are the official languages. The population density of Aosta Valley is by far the lowest of all the Italian regions.

aostamountains

The region is very cold in the winter, especially when compared with other places in the Western Alps. This is probably due to the mountains blocking the mild winds from the Atlantic Ocean. Places on the same altitude in France or western Switzerland are not as cold as the Aosta Valley. In this climate the snow season is very long, as long as 8 or 9 months at the highest points. During the summer, mist occurs almost every day. These areas are the wettest in the western Alps. Temperatures are low, between −7 °C (19 °F) and −3 °C (27 °F) in January and in July between 10 °C (50 °F) and 13 °C (55 °F).

Roman Theater Remains

Roman Theater Remains

The first inhabitants of the Aosta Valley were Celts. Rome conquered the area around 25 BC to secure the strategic mountain passes, and they went on to build bridges and roads through the mountains.

hydroelectric dam

Hydroelectric Dam

The Aosta Valley remained agricultural until the construction of hydroelectric dams that brought the metalworking industry to the region. Agriculture has become increasingly specialized, retaining only a small output of cereals, potatoes and fruit. Animal feed crops supply the region’s dairy herds which are pastured in the high Alps during the summer period.

The region’s cheeses are renowned throughout the world. Fontina cheese has been made in the Aosta Valley, in the Alps since the 12th century. It has a milk fat content around 45% and can be identified by a Consorzio (Consortium) stamp of the Matterhorn including the label, “FONTINA”.

As with many other varieties, the name “Fontina” is also known as “Fontinella”, “Fontal” and “Fontella”. Although the version from Aosta Valley is the only original and the most famous, a derivative production occurs in other parts of Italy, as well as Denmark, Sweden, Quebec, France, Argentina and the United States. The original Fontina cheese from Aosta Valley is fairly pungent and has an intense flavor. The Swedish and Danish versions are often found in US grocery stores and can be distinguished from Aostan Fontina by their red wax rind (also prevalent in Argentine Fontina).

aostachessemaking2

aostacheesemaking

aostacheesemaking3

Aostan Fontina has a natural rind due to aging, which is usually tan to orange-brown. It is noted for its earthy and woody taste and it pairs well with roast meats and truffles. Its rich and creamy flavor gets nuttier with aging. The interior of the cheese is pale cream in color and riddled with holes known as “eyes”.  Fontina produced in the Aosta Valley must be made from unpasteurized milk from a single milking, with two batches being made per day. Young Fontina has a softer texture (and can be suitable for fondue or for a table cheese board). Fonduta alla valdostana (in Italian) or Fondue à la valdôtaine (in French) is a traditional dish of Fontina whipped with milk, eggs and truffles. Mature Fontina is a hard cheese used for grating.

To make Fontina Cheese, cow’s milk is heated to 36 C (97 F.) Calf’s rennet is then added to curdle the milk. The milk is left to sit for 1 hour as is, then it is heated to 47 to 48 C (116 to 118 F) and left to sit for another two hours held at that temperature. This is why you’ll sometimes see this cheese called “semi-cooked” (or “semi-cotta”, drawing on the Italian phrase.)

aostacheesemaking4

aostafontinacave

The curd that forms is cut and drained in nets, then put into round molds for 12 hours. When the cheese is taken out of the molds, it is salted and, then, rested for two months in a cool place. At the end of two months, the cheese is taken to caves where it is aged for a further 3 months (The aging apparently still happens in caves or grottoes, on pine shelves.) During this period in the caves, the rind is washed with brine every other day and, on the alternating days, it is brushed to take away any mold that forms on it.

aostavineyard

Wines of high quality are produced in small quantities in the Aosta Valley. All are entitled to the Denominazione di origine controllata (Valle d’Aosta DOC / Vallée d’Aoste DOC) label. The wine making region is generally divided into three areas. In the northwest, the Valdigne area south of the commune of Courmayeur is home to the highest elevated vineyards in Europe at 3,937 feet above sea level. The white grape Prié Blanc (also known as Blanc de Morgex) is the main production grape in the area and is used to produce the wine, Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle in both a still and sparkling wine style.

The Central Valley is the region’s most productive area and is further sub-divided into four areas: Enfer d’Arvier, Torrette, Nus and Chambave. The Enfer d’Arvier is a red wine producing area around the village of Arvier. The wines from this area are blends made primarily from the Petit Rouge grape with lesser amounts of Dolcetto, Gamay, Neyret, Pinot noir, and/or Vien de Nus. Previously Enfer d’Arvier had its own DOC designation but was subsequently incorporated into the Valle d’Aosta DOC.

aostawine

White wines are made in this area from a Pinot Gris clone known as Malvoisie including a sweet passito straw wine.The red wines made here are composed of at least 60% Petit Rouge with some Dolcetto, Gamay and/or Pinot Noir. The white wines made here are from the Moscato Bianco grape. The Lower Valley is known primarily for two styles of wine: a medium-bodied dry red wine made from at least 70% Nebbiolo with some Dolcetto, Freisa, Neyret, Pinot Noir, and/or Vien de Nus and a wine made from at least 85% Nebbiolo with some Freisa, Neyret, Pinot Noir and Vien de Nus.

aostacover

Church in the village of Saint-Jacques. Aosta Valley, Italy.

Church in the village of Saint-Jacques. Aosta Valley, Italy.

The cuisine of Aosta Valley is characterized by simplicity that includes “robust” ingredients, such as potatoes, polenta; cheese, meat and rye bread. Many of the dishes are made with Fontina cheese. It is found in dishes, such as the soup à la vâpeuleunèntse (Valpelline Soup). Other cheeses made in the region are Toma, Seras and Fromadzo (which  have been produced locally since the 15th century and also have PDO statu).

Regional specialities are Motzetta (dried chamois meat, prepared like prosciutto), Vallée d’Aoste Lard d’Arnad (a cured and brined fatback product with PDO designation), Vallée d’Aoste Jambon de Bosses (a type of ham, likewise with the PDO designation) and a black bread. Notable dishes include Carbonnade, salt-cured beef cooked with onions and red wine and served with polenta; breaded veal cutlets called costolette; teuteuns, salt-cured cow’s udder that is cooked and sliced; and steak à la valdôtaine, a steak with croûtons, ham and melted cheese.

Grolla Coffee

aostacoffee

Grappa is an Italian brandy distilled from the fermented residue of grapes after they have been pressed in wine making.

Ingredients

For 4 people:

  • 4 cups Italian brewed coffee
  • 2 small glasses grappa
  • Zest of one lemon zest
  • 4 teaspoons sugar plus extra for the pot

Directions

Pour the coffee into a small saucepan. Add the grappa, half of the lemon peel and the 4 teaspoons of sugar.

Stir the mixture over the heat and bring to a low boil. Turn the heat off and remove the lemon zest.

Pour the coffee into the grolla pot or friendship cup having sweetened the openings or mouths of the cup with extra sugar. Then light the mixture with a match or lighter and you will see a blue flame. After a short time, put out the flame and add the remaining lemon zest. Drink from the grolla, together with the other diners passing the cup around.

If you don’t have a grolla or friendship cup, use a fondue set. Place the coffee ingredients in the fondue pot and bring it to a boil. Boil and light the liquid with a flame. Serve the coffee in individual cups sweetened with sugar.

Pasticcio di Penne alla Valdostana (Baked Penne Aosta Style)

aostapasta

Ingredients

  • 1 lb mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 whole garlic clove, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons butter, plus extra for the baking dish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 oz penne (about 2 1/2 cups dry pasta)
  • 3 oz Italian Fontina cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream or half and half

Directions

Saute’ the mushrooms with the whole garlic clove in 2 tablespoons of the butter over a high heat. Add salt and pepper, lower the heat and cook for 3 minutes. Discard the garlic.

Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and dress with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

Butter an ovenproof dish and cover the bottom with a layer of penne. Distribute about a quarter of the mushrooms and the sliced cheese evenly over the pasta and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. Add another layer of pasta and cover with mushrooms and cheese as before.

Repeat until you have used all the ingredients, finishing with a layer of sliced cheese. Pour the cream over the pasta layers, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake, covered with foil, in a preheated oven at 400° F for 10 minutes.

Bake uncovered for a further 10 minutes, or until a light crust has formed on the top. Remove the pasta from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Fontina-Stuffed Breaded Veal or Pork Chops (Costolette alla Valdostana)

aostameat

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 veal or pork chops, bone in (1/2 inch thick)
  • 1/4 pound Fontina from Val d’Aosta, rind removed, cut into 4 slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

Cut a horizontal slit in each chop, leaving the meat attached at the bone end. Open the two flaps of each chop and place 1 slice of Fontina over the bottom flap; lay the top flap over the cheese to close. Using a meat mallet, pound each chop gently to seal the pocket. Season both sides with the salt and pepper.

Place the flour on one plate, the beaten egg in another and the breadcrumbs on a third. Dredge the veal chops in the flour and shake off the excess; dip into the beaten egg, coating both sides well; finally, dip into the breadcrumbs, pressing on both sides to help them adhere.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the chops and cook until golden on both sides, turning once; it should take about 5 minutes per side. Serve hot.

Twisted Cookies from Val d’Aosta

aostacookies

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water, about 110 F
  • 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into tablespoons
  • About 2/3 cup granulated sugar for rolling out the cookies

Directions

Combine the water and yeast in a small bowl, stir to dissolve the yeast. Cover and set aside while you get the other ingredients ready..

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse the flour and salt a couple of times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is finely mixed in but the mixture is still powdery.

Add the yeast mixture all at once, and pulse until the ingredients form a ball.

Put the dough into a greased bowl, turning the dough over so that the top is greased as well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it is doubled in bulk, about an hour.

After the dough has risen, press it down to deflate it. Chill for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Cover two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Set aside.

When you are ready to form the cookies, remove the dough from the refrigerator and press it into 8-inch square. Scatter some of the 2/3 cup of sugar on the work surface.

Cut the square of dough into eight 1-inch stripes, adding more sugar as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Cut each strip into 6 equal pieces, to make 48 pieces total.

Roll a piece of the dough on the sugared surface under the palms of your hands to make a pencil-thick strand about 5 inches long. Form a loop by crossing over the ends about 1 inch up from the ends of the dough.

As the cookies are formed, place them on the prepared pans, leaving about 1 ½ inches space around the cookies. Let the cookies stand at room temperature until they puff slightly, about 20 minutes.

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 325 F. Bake the cookies, in batches, until they are light and the sugar has caramelized to a light golden crust, about 25 minutes.

Turn the cookies from back to front after the first 15 minutes of baking. Cool the cookies on a rack. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

aostamap


SpringProduce_CH

Winter, spring, summer and fall each offer their own unique fruits and vegetables for distinct seasonal flavor. The recipes below can be adapted by whatever ingredients are in season without changing the recipe. In the summer you can make the quiche and fish packets with summer squash, corn and/or peppers. In the fall, use kale, butternut squash and/or Brussels sprouts. In the winter, use broccoli, cauliflower and/or celery.

Easy Quiche

IMG_0006

Ingredients

1 (9″) refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature or make this easy, healthy 9″ no-roll pie crust.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 7 tablespoons oil: (canola, vegetable, olive, peanut, your choice)
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Directions

Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl.

Whisk together the oil and water in a measuring cup and then pour over the dry ingredients.

Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened.

Pat the dough across the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan and up the sides. A flat-bottomed measuring cup or glass helps smooth the bottom.

Crimp the edge or flatten with the tines of a fork.

Follow directions below for completing the quiche.

Quiche Filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups of sliced seasonal vegetables, such as asparagus or spinach for spring, zucchini and corn for summer, etc.
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped chives
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated cheese (Swiss, Parmesan, Asiago, Cheddar or a combination)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk or half & half

Directions

For the crust:

After shaping the pie crust in the pan, prebake the crust for 10 minutes at 425°F.

When you take the pie shell out of the oven, turn the heat down to 375°F.

For an asparagus filling:

While the pie crust bakes, cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal.

Set aside 12 asparagus tips.

Beat together the eggs, salt, flour and buttermilk or half & half.

Pour ¼ cup of the egg mixture onto the bottom of the prebaked crust to seal it.

Over that, arrange the asparagus pieces and chives.

Sprinkle the cheese over the asparagus. Pour the remainder of the egg mixture over the vegetables.

Arrange the asparagus tips, in spoke fashion, around the outside edge of the quiche.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the custard is firm and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool about 10 minutes before cutting.

Fish Fillets Baked with Spring Vegetables

IMG_0010

Use any vegetables and herbs that are in season with the fish.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 of a fennel bulb, cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 1 medium leek (white and light green parts only), halved lengthwise, each half cut lengthwise into matchstick-size strips
  • 4 fish fillets, 4 ounces each and 1 inch thick, patted dry
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 thin slices of lemon
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Cut eight 15-inch-long sheets of cooking parchment or aluminum foil.

IMG_0003

Divide the fennel, carrot and leek equally on each of four of the parchment sheets. Place the fish on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle each with salt and pepper.

Top each fish fillet with 1 tablespoon of chives and a slice of lemon. Top with 1 teaspoon of olive oil on each piece of fish.

Place one of the remaining four sheets of parchment on top of each fish fillet.IMG_0004

Fold all the edges toward the center and fold several times to seal securely. Transfer the packets to a large rimmed baking sheet.

(The packets can be made up to 6 hours in advance. Refrigerate until baking time.)

IMG_0005

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Using the tines of a fork, carefully open a packet away from you (to prevent steam burns). If the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, carefully open the remaining packets and serve.

If the fish isn’t cooked enough, reclose the open packet and bake for 1 to 2 minutes more. Serve the fish and vegetables in the packets.


maycover

Eating seasonally means buying produce that can be grown locally, in their natural weather and climate conditions. Less energy and less transit time means a cheaper price tag. Eating seasonally also means that every few month or two, we’re trying something new, and that’s a good thing for our taste buds and our health.

Looking for seasonal food ideas or some new spring recipes? Now’s the time for fresh vegetable soups; crunchy green salads using fennel, peas, parsley, asparagus and new potatoes. Rhubarb and berries are in season for some delicious desserts.

May-Produce

Here is a handy interactive chart to see what produce is in season in your area.

Breakfast or Lunch Crostata

maycrosata1

This is a great brunch recipe, also.

Ingredients

  • 1 (9″) refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
  • I tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red onions, diced
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 2/3 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Roma (plum) tomato, diced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a large cookie sheet with olive oil cooking spray.

Heat the olive oil in 7-8 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers; saute for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, cream cheese and chives.

Reserve 1 tablespoon of the chopped spinach for the topping and stir the remaining spinach, salt and pepper into the eggs.

Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and allow to cook, over medium heat, just until the eggs are set. Remove the skillet from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes.

maycrostata

Unroll the pie crust and place it in the center of the prepared baking sheet. Using a spatula, slide the omelet onto the center of the crust. Sprinkle the cheeses over the filling.

Fold the edge of the crust over the filling forming pleats as you go around the filling, press down slightly.

Bake about 25-30 minutes or until the crust is light golden brown. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with reserved spinach and the diced tomatoes.

Blueberry Cinnamon Banana Bread

maycake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana, about 2 medium
  • 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries

Topping

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and dust lightly with flour.

Whisk buttermilk, eggs, mashed bananas, sugar and oil in a large bowl until well blended.

Combine flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a separate bowl.

Stir flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture, mixing just until combined. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake about 1 hour, or until browned and crackly on the top and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan 15 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Braised Spring Vegetables

mayveggie2

These vegetables look beautiful served on this Tuscan platter given to me by my friend, Nancy. This is a terrific way to cook vegetables. They taste fantastic after simmering in olive oil.

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 pound (4-5 oz) carrots, each cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/4 pound (4-5 oz) medium potatoes, cut into thick slices
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed & cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 scallions, trimmed, each cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and each cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1 lemon, cut into eight wedges, de-seeded
  • 1 large fresh thyme sprig

Directions

Pour the olive oil into a large, deep skillet (with a cover) and heat over medium-low heat. Layer the vegetables in the order of how long they cook.

On the bottom place the potatoes in one layer, followed by the fennel and then the carrots.

mayveggie

Add salt to the pan; reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Stir the vegetables after 10 minutes.

Add the asparagus, scallions, black pepper, half of the lemon wedges and the thyme to the pan. Cook just until the vegetables are tender, about 5 – 10 minutes more; avoid overcooking.

mayveggie1

Remove the pan from the heat and remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl. Serve with the remaining lemon wedges.

Note: save the oil and any leftover vegetables to add to pasta for another meal. See recipe below.

Spring Pasta Salad

maysalad

This pasta salad is delicious for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz orecchiette or small shell pasta
  • Leftover spring braised vegetables, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced thin
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
  • Leftover olive oil from the spring braised vegetables
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, chopped

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain well.

Whisk together the leftover oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add pasta, leftover vegetables, celery, tomatoes and basil and toss to combine.

Serve at room temperature or chilled; refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Italian Style Asparagus Soup

maysoup

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ lbs asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups vegetable stock or low sodium chicken broth
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Truffle oil or olive oil

Directions

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.

Cut the tips off the asparagus spears and set them aside. Cut the stalks into 1/2-inch pieces and add them to the pot, along with the stock, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to low.

Simmer for about 45-60 minutes until the vegetables are very tender. Turn off the heat.

Purée the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth and return the soup to a simmer. Add the reserved asparagus tips and cook for a few minutes until tender-crisp.

Stir in the lemon juice, basil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and drizzle with truffle oil before serving.



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