For me, holiday baking doesn’t just include what would be served on the holiday itself, but it also includes breakfast breads and desserts for the days surrounding the holidays. That is because I usually have family or house guests visiting for several days over a holiday. So I plan ahead and bake several breakfast items that can be heated and served and have at least one or two desserts on hand. Here are recipes for a few favorites that are all easy to make.
Lemony Ricotta Pie
Ricotta pie or cheesecake are very popular in our family.
2 cups almond flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
4 large eggs
2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Candied lemon and orange peel
For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine the crust ingredients and press into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie pan.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until a light golden brown. Remove from the oven.
For the filling:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sugar and honey and whisk. Add the ricotta, salt and lemon flavoring.
Whisk until thoroughly mixed. Pour into the pie pan over the baked crust.
Return the pie to the oven and bake for about 60 minutes until the filling is completely set.
Remove the pie from the oven and set on a cooling rack.
Decorate the top of the pie with pieces of candied lemon and orange peel.
When cooled to room temperature, refrigerate until serving time.
Easy Pecan Sticky Buns
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup large pecan halves
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Lightly grease a glass 9″ round cake pan or pie pan.
To make the syrup:
Melt the butter in the glass pan in the microwave. Add the brown sugar and maple syrup.
Stir well and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place the pecan halves over the syrup in a single layer.
To make the dough:
Stir together the flour and cream to make a smooth dough. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.
Gently roll the dough into a 12″ x 8″ rectangle.
To make the cinnamon filling:
Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans in a small mixing bowl.
Spread the softened butter over the entire surface of the dough.
Roll the dough into a log. Position it so the seam is facing down.
Slice the log into 10 pieces, and place them in the prepared pan.
Bake the buns for about 20 minutes, until they’re bubbly and lightly browned on top.
Remove the buns from the oven, and immediately turn them out onto a serving plate.
Scrape any leftover syrup from the pan onto the buns.
To serve later, cool completely, then wrap well and store at room temperature for up to a couple of days.
Reheat in a 325 degree oven. Freeze for longer storage.
Adapted from a King Arthur recipe.
Jumbo Blueberry Muffins
Makes 6 muffins
3 cups all-purpose flour (lightly scoop, don’t pack down)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Chopped walnuts and coarse sugar for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 425 F degrees. Spray a jumbo 6-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, gently toss together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until combined. Add the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and whisk.
Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together with a spatula. Avoid over mixing. Fold in the blueberries.
Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling all the way to the top. Top with a sprinkle of walnuts and coarse sugar.
Bake at 425 F degrees for 5 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F degrees and continue to bake for 25-30 minutes until the tops are lightly golden and a cake tester comes out clean when placed into the center of the muffins.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool.
Store muffins at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Muffins freeze well for up to 3 months.
Growing up in the New York metropolitan area, we often had crumb buns on Sunday morning. These crumb buns had a distinctive taste and plenty of crumbs – the best part. When I moved away from the area, I realized the rest of the US did not know what a really good crumb bun was all about. At least not in my view. So for many years, I kept trying different recipes until I came up with the right proportions and the right ingredients to make what I remember as the best tasting crumb bun. I am sharing my recipe with you.
New York Style Crumb Cake
8 tablespoons softened butter
1 1/4 cups unbleached self-rising flour
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for for sprinkling on the finished cake
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups unbleached self-rising flour
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.
To make the topping:
Mix all of the topping ingredients until medium crumbs form. I use my hands. Set aside.
To make the cake:
In an electric mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl between additions.
Add the flour alternately with the buttermilk, mixing gently to combine and scraping the bowl after each addition.
Spread the batter in the prepared pan.
Squeeze the topping together in small clumps and sprinkle the crumbs on top of the cake batter.
Cover the entire top of the cake.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
When the cake is completely cool, dust it with confectioners’ sugar. To serve cut into squares.
Spring is here and so are luscious strawberries at very reasonable prices. Take advantage of this beautiful fruit and eat them as is or use them to make some delicious recipes. Below are some of my favorite ways to use strawberries. What are yours?
Strawberry Breakfast Cake
3 tablespoons unsalted butter,softened
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup self-rising flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
Grease a 9 inch springform pan and sprinkle the inside with a little granulated sugar. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the topping ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. With your fingers, rub the mixture into crumbs. Set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar together until creamed. Add the eggs, one at a time.
On low-speed add the sour cream and vanilla. Gradually add the flour, mixing until incorporated.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Top the batter with the sliced strawberries and sprinkle the topping over the berries.
Bake the cake in the center of the oven for about one hour or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for several hours and then remove the cake pan ring. The cake can also be served warm.
Preserves are cooked the same way jam is, however, the only difference is that the fruit in preserves is cut into chunks, whereas with jam, the fruit is crushed. The texture of preserves is not as stiff as jelly or jam. It is easy to spread and makes a great topping for ice cream or pancakes.
1 quart of strawberries
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 long strip of lemon zest
Fill 4 pint jars with boiling water and place the lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside while you make the preserves.
Wash the strawberries and remove the leaves. Cut them in half and place the berries in a large saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon juice and zest. Stir well.
Bring the mixture to a boil and stir occasionally until mixture thickens, about 20-25 minutes or a candy thermometer registers 220 degrees F.
Remove the pan from the heat. Empty the pint jars and remove the lids from the water.
Fill the jars with the preserves and place the lids on the jars. Cool for a few hours at room temperature. Store the jars in the refrigerator for a few weeks or freeze them for future use.
Strawberry Almond Scones
Self-rising flour can be used for a quicker preparation. Leave out the salt and baking powder in the recipe, if using.
1 cup fresh hulled and finely chopped strawberries
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing on the scones
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the scones
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ cup toasted sliced almonds
½ teaspoon almond extract
Coarse sugar for the topping
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the chopped strawberries and cream and set aside while you make the dough.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 table knives in a scissor motion, cut butter into flour until the size of small peas.
Add the almond extract to the strawberry-cream mixture. Add the mixture to the flour/butter mixture and stir together with a fork, just until combined.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch circle. Cut into 8 triangles.
Lightly brush the tops of the scones with a little cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Transfer the triangles to the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Immediately place the scones on a rack to cool completely.
Strawberry Fruit Salad
1 pint strawberries, trimmed and sliced
2 large red mangoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 orange, zested, white pith removed and sliced
1 teaspoon honey
In a medium bowl, stir together the strawberries, mangoes, orange slices, zest and honey. Chill, covered, until ready to serve.
This coffeecake has been traditional for our Christmas morning breakfast for more years than I can remember. My children have always loved it and know it is special for Christmas. When they were young, I used to decorate it with red and green cherries. These days, I usually transport the cake without the glaze to their houses, since we visit them for the holidays now that they have children. I decorate the cake just before serving. The grand-kids also look forward to this festive cake.
You can also divide the dough in half and make 2 braids or 2 horseshoe-shaped cakes. The dough can also be shaped into a large candy cane.
Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 packages (1/4 ounce) or 4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 ½ – 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
8 ounces almond paste
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Sliced almonds or colored cherries for garnish, optional
To Make the Dough:
Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in the electric mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the water and eggs and beat until well combined.
Mix in the flour until the dough comes to a ball or comes away from the sides of the mixer bowl.
Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough.
Remove the dough to a floured surface. Grease the bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).
To Make the Filling:
While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by beating the cream cheese and the almond paste together until smooth. Chill until ready to use.
Cover a large baking pan with parchment paper. I use a pizza pan.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll into a large rectangle, about 20 x 14 inches.
Spread the filling on the dough, leaving a half-inch border all around the dough.
Roll the dough up from the long side (jelly roll style). Seal the edge tightly. Form the roll into a circle and pinch the ends together to form a ring.
Place the cake on the prepared pan. Using kitchen scissors, cut two-thirds through the dough from the outer rim of the circle at 1 inch intervals.
Allow the ring to rise, covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.
Bake the ring for 35 to 40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
To make the glaze:
Combine the powdered sugar, almond extract and enough milk to make a frosting that can be poured over the cake. Sprinkle with sliced almonds, if desired. Allow the glaze to set before.
After glazing the cakes decorate with red and green cherries if desired.
This month the market offers lots of festive ingredients in anticipation of the coming holidays. I find it is a great time to perk up your winter dishes with lots of fruit flavors. This week I picked up fennel and apples to enhance some pork cutlets and oranges to give swordfish a new look. Carrots make a great side dish and there are so many recipes you can make with hearty greens. Cranberries add a beautiful red color to breakfast cake that could easily be served on Christmas morning. Check the list above and try something new this week.
Swordfish with Smoked Paprika and Orange Sauce
Swordfish is a cornerstone food throughout the Mediterranean and swordfish is not endangered anywhere around the United States. The various fish watchdog organizations all give consumers the green light to eat as much swordfish as they want, provided it was caught in North American or Hawaiian waters. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch gives American swordfish either a “best choice” or “good alternative” rating, depending on how it’s caught.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound swordfish or tuna fillets
¼ cup flour
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
Cut the swordfish into 2 inch cubes. Salt the fish well and dust the cubes in flour. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold all the swordfish chunks in one layer. Sear them well on at least two sides. Give the first side 1-2 minutes, then sear other sides for 30 seconds to 1 minute each.
When the swordfish is cooked, remove it to a bowl and reserve. Add the garlic slices and sauté 30 seconds or so — the second it begins to brown, add the orange juice, zest, parsley, nuts and paprika. Toss to combine and cook 1 minute, then add the swordfish back to the pan, toss to combine and cook another 30 seconds or so. Serve at once.
Crispy Pork Cutlets with Fennel Apple Sauce
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Four boneless pork cutlets, pounded to 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced
Lemon wedges, for serving
In a shallow dish, mix the flour with salt and pepper. In another shallow dish, beat the egg. In a third shallow dish, spread the panko and season with additional salt and pepper. Dredge the pork in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip the pork in the egg, then dredge in the panko to coat. Place the cutlets on a large plate.
In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the pork cutlets and cook over moderately high heat until golden, 2 minutes. Turn the cutlets over, and cook until just golden on the outside and white throughout, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the cutlets to a paper towel-lined plate.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and butter to the skillet. Add the fennel and onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until light golden and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and apple slices and season with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Place the cutlets back in the pan and let them heat in the fennel mixture for a few minutes. Place the cutlets on a serving platter and top with the fennel mixture. Serve with lemon wedges.
3 medium carrots, peeled
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
Cut the carrots diagonally into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place the carrots, 2 tablespoons water, the salt and pepper in a medium skillet and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes. Add the butter and marjoram and saute for another minute, until the water evaporates and the carrots are coated with butter.
Cranberry Orange Breakfast Cake
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the dusting the pan
1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh or defrosted frozen cranberries
1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup softened unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Combine the walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter in a mixing bowl. Using your hands form the mixture into crumbs.,
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the cranberries and orange zest and mix.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium mixing bowl, mix the ½ cup butter on low-speed with the stand mixer’s paddle attachment or on medium-low speed with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and continue mixing on low until slightly fluffy. Scrape the bowl and beater. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until smooth after each addition.
Stop the mixer, scrape the bowl and beater, and add half the flour mixture. On low-speed (for either mixer), mix until the flour drifts disappear and then add half the buttermilk; mix until just blended. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until smooth.
Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the crumb mixture. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Cake can be served warm. Dust with powdered sugar for a pretty presentation.
Spinach and Cheese Pie
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons dried dill
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 lb. frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Melted butter or butter cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 2 quart baking dish.
Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
Stir in lemon zest, dill and feta cheese into spinach mixture. Combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and egg in a small bowl. Stir until well blended. Add to the spinach mixture. Add salt, pepper and stir well.
Working quickly so that phyllo doesn’t dry out, line the baking pan with 10 sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter after you place it in the pan. Fan the sheets out towards the edge of the pan, making sure the bottom is covered. Allow excess to hang over the sides. Spoon filling into pan. Drape remaining layers of phyllo over filling, one at a time, brushing each with butter. Brush top with butter, then neatly fold overhanging phyllo over the top, and brush with remaining butter. Bake until golden, about 1 hour. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Makes 16 small or 8 large rolls
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
- 2-1/2 cups self-rising flour (all-purpose flour mixed with baking powder and salt)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- 1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine the filling ingredients in a small bowl, then mix with a fork until well blended.
In a another, larger bowl, combine the self-rising flour, sugar and baking soda.
Whisk together the buttermilk and 4 tablespoons melted butter in a separate bowl, then pour into the middle of the dry ingredients. Stir together until the dough just comes together (do not overmix.)
Knead slightly with your hands until the dough forms into a ball, then slice it in half.
On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into a 12×8 inch rectangle.
Spread half the filling mixture into the center, leaving 1/4″ of the dough clear on all 4 sides, then roll up jelly roll style.. Pinch together the seam and roll into an 8 inch log.
Cut into 8 one inch slices. Repeat with the other dough half and place the rolls in a greased 13×9 inch pan.
Note: If you like larger rolls cut each roll in 4 (about 2 inches each) and place in a smaller baking dish and cook for 10 minutes longer.
Brush the cinnamon rolls with the remaining tablespoon of melted butter and bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
Whisk together the powdered sugar and milk, one tablespoon at a time, until creamy. Drizzle onto hot cinnamon rolls and spread evenly.
Quick Pumpkin Bread
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice mix
- 1 cup solid pack pumpkin puree
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.Grease and flour a 9×5 inch baking pan.
Whisk the flours, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice mix in a large bowl. Mix the pumpkin, brown sugar, buttermilk, egg and oil in another bowl until well blended.
Fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Add the pecans and mix.
Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack for ten minutes.
Turn the bread over onto another rack to cool completely.
Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup soft butter
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1/3 cup light sour cream (or yogurt)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Garnish with candied lemon peel, if desired
Coat a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with nonstick vegetable spray
Preheat the oven to 350°F).
In a large bowl of an electric mixer or a food processor, beat together the sugar, butter, egg, lemon zest and lemon juice, mixing well. Add the buttermilk, mix.
Combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and baking soda in a mixing bowl; add to the sugar mixture alternately with the sour cream, mixing just until incorporated. Do not overmix.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out dry. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.
Remove the cake to a wire rack to finishing cooling.
Combine the powdered sugar with the lemon juice and spread over the cooled loaf. When the frosting is set, garnish with candied lemon peel.
Morning Apple Cake
- Cooking spray
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup buttermilk milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 large apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.
Beat the eggs and the 1/2 cup of sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in the buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract.
Combine flour and cornstarch and fold into the cake batter. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Layer the apple slices in a circular pattern on top of the cake. Combine the cinnamon and 1 teaspoon sugar in a cup and sprinkle over the apples.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until a knife or metal skewer comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake. Cool on a wire rack.
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.
Here is a handy interactive chart to see what produce is in season in your area.
Breakfast or Lunch Crostata
This is a great brunch recipe, also.
- 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
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.
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
- 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
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
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
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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
This pasta salad is delicious for lunch.
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
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.