Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Crepes

We’ve all heard the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but do you know why? Breakfast is literally just that, breaking the fast that your body is in from the night before.The consumption of an early morning meal increases the metabolic rate (how fast you burn calories) and kick starts your body into gear, telling it what to expect the rest of the day. If you don’t eat breakfast, your body doesn’t process your next meal as quickly and tries to hold onto those nutrients. Since your body didn’t get any morning fuel, it tries to hold onto the afternoon meal as long as possible — instead of burning it right away.

Studies have shown that weight loss can be more difficult and weight gain more prevalent in folks who opt out on the morning meal. Those who skip breakfast have a tendency to consume more food than usual the next chance they get to grab a bite to eat and also have a higher tendency to snack on high-calorie foods to keep from feeling hungry.

If you don’t like breakfast foods, don’t eat them! Try leftovers, soup, a sandwich, or lean meats in the morning. Many cultures serve rice and vegetables as a breakfast meal.

Breakfast should include a healthy source of protein and plenty of fiber; that combination will help satisfy your hunger and will keep you feeling full until lunch time. The protein can come from low-fat meat, low-fat dairy products, or nuts and nut butters. Eggs are also a good source of protein. They’re also high in saturated fats, but one egg only has about 75 calories and they’re quite satiating, so it can help keep the hunger pangs away. High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

There is no harm in switching from your traditional breakfast, as long as you are going to get the proper nutritional value, you can try eating something different to start off your day. Try out something tempting and appetizing like some of these recipes listed below.

Breakfast Mini Pizzas                                                                                                                                     

1 serving

IngredientsMini Breakfast Pizzas

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons marinara sauce
  • 1 whole-wheat English muffin, split and toasted
  • 2 tablespoons shredded reduced fat Italian cheese blend, such as Sargento
  • 2 slices turkey pepperoni or Applegate Farms nitrate free pepperoni (optional)

Directions:

Preheat broiler or toaster oven.

Coat a small nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add egg and cook, stirring often, until set into soft curds, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread marinara sauce on English muffin halves. Top each muffin half with scrambled egg, pepperoni (if using) and cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted, 1 to 3 minutes.

Berry Smoothie

3 servings, 1 cup each                                                                                                                                                                                      

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups orange juiceMixed Berry Smoothie Recipe
  • 1 banana
  • 1 1/4 cups frozen berries, such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and/or strawberries
  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, or 1/2 tablespoon Truvia or Domino Light
  • Berries for garnish

Directions:

Combine orange juice, banana, berries, yogurt and sugar in a blender; cover and blend until creamy. Garnish with berries and serve.

Stuffed Italian Toast

Makes 8 sandwiches

Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind (from 1 small lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

bfd_Italianfrenchtoast

Toast:

  • 1 loaf hearty whole grain Italian bread, cut into 16 – 3/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Warm marinara sauce

Directions:

For the filling, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spinach and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

In a small bowl, combine chopped spinach mixture, ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest, basil, and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread one bread slice with 2 tablespoons of filling, top with another slice of bread and press closed. Repeat with remaining bread to make 8 sandwiches in all.

Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and garlic powder in a shallow baking dish.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Working with 1 sandwich at a time, quickly dip into egg mixture, turning to coat both sides. Add to hot oil. Repeat with 3 more slices, taking care not to overload pan. Cook for 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Repeat with remaining oil (if needed) and 4 sandwiches.

Transfer to plates, spoon warm marinara sauce over top, and serve.

Yogurt-Zucchini Bread with Walnuts                                                                                                                   

Serve with a fruit salad

MAKES ONE 9-INCH LOAF

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup walnut halves (4 ounces)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour or Eagle Brand Ultra Grain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar or sugar alternative
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup coarsely grated zucchini (from about 1 medium zucchini)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Coat with cooking spray and flour a 9-by-4 1/2-inch metal loaf pan.

Spread the walnut halves in a pie plate and toast them for about 8 minutes, until they are fragrant.

Transfer the toasted walnuts to a cutting board and coarsely chop them, then freeze for 5 minutes to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the eggs, vegetable oil and yogurt.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients along with the grated zucchini and toasted walnuts and stir until the batter is evenly moistened.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the loaf is risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the loaf cool on a rack for 30 minutes before unmolding and serving.

MAKE AHEAD:  The zucchini loaf can be wrapped tightly in plastic and kept at room temperature for up to 4 days, or frozen in plastic and foil for up to 1 month.

Eggs Baked Over Sauteed Mushrooms and Spinach                                                                             

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 slices of whole-grain toast

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 3 minutes. Stir in the butter, garlic and mushrooms. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are softened and a lot of liquid is released, 7 minutes.

Uncover and add the salt and red wine and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the liquid is reduced, 5 minutes. Add the spinach and stir until wilted, 2 minutes. Season with pepper.

Coat four 1-cup ramekins or small gratin dishes with cooking spray. Transfer the mushrooms and spinach to the ramekins and crack an egg on top of each.

Place the ramekins in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the eggs are set.  Let stand for 2 minutes; serve with the toasts.

Crepes with Sweet Yogurt and Raspberry-Apricot Sauce                                                                                

Makes 8 servings

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour or Eagle Brand Ultra Grain flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves, low sugar, if available
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt (not fat free)
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with 1/4 cup of the milk and the salt until blended. Whisk in the flour until the batter is smooth, then whisk in the remaining 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Let the crepe batter stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine the apricot preserves with the raspberries and lemon juice and cook over moderate heat until jammy, about 5 minutes. Cover and keep warm.

In a bowl, mix the yogurt with the brown sugar and vanilla.

Heat a 10-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet over moderate heat. Brush the pan with some of the melted butter. Pour in a scant 1/3 cup of the crepe batter and immediately rotate the pan to evenly coat the bottom. Cook the crepe until lightly browned on the bottom, about 45 seconds. Flip the crepe and cook until brown dots appear on the other side, about 15 seconds longer.

See post on how to make crepes:

http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/12/27/new-years-eve-party-time/

Transfer the crepe to a large plate covered with parchment paper.

Continue making crepes with the remaining batter, brushing the pan with the remaining melted butter as needed. Place a sheet of wax paper in between each cooked crepe.

To Assemble Crepes: Spoon 3 tablespoons of the yogurt mixture onto each crepe and roll them up.

Transfer to individual serving plates. Spoon the raspberry-apricot sauce on top and serve.

MAKE AHEAD : The crepes can be made ahead and stacked, then rewarmed in a microwave oven for about 20 seconds.


The most commonly sung song on New Year’s eve, “Auld Lang Syne” is an old Scottish song that was first published by the poet, Robert Burns, in the 1796 edition of the book, Scots Musical Museum. Burns transcribed it (and made some refinements to the lyrics) after he heard it sung by an old man from the Ayrshire area of Scotland, Burns’s homeland.

But it was bandleader Guy Lombardo, who popularized the song and turned it into a New Year’s tradition. Lombardo first heard “Auld Lang Syne” in his hometown of London, Ontario, where it was sung by Scottish immigrants. When he and his brothers formed the famous dance band, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, the song became one of their standards. Lombardo played the song at midnight at a New Year’s eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929 and a tradition was born. After that, Lombardo’s version of the song was played every New Year’s eve from the 1930s until 1976 at the Waldorf Astoria. In the first years it was broadcast on radio, and then on television. The song became such a New Year’s tradition that Life magazine wrote, “if Lombardo failed to play Auld Lang Syne, the American public would not believe that the new year had really arrived.”

Probably the most famous tradition in the United States is the dropping of the New Year ball in Times Square, New York City. Thousands gather to watch the ball make its one-minute descent, arriving exactly at midnight. The tradition first began in 1907. The original ball was made of iron and wood; the current ball is made of Waterford Crystal, weighs 1,070 pounds and is six feet in diameter.

A traditional southern New Year’s dish is Hoppin’ John—black eyed peas and ham hocks. An old saying goes, “Eat peas on New Year’s day to have plenty of everything the rest of the year.”

Another American tradition is the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The Tournament of Roses parade that precedes the football game on New Year’s day is made up of elaborate and inventive floats. The first parade was held in 1886.

A common symbol of New Year’s is the Baby New Year. This is often a white male baby dressed in a diaper, a hat and a sash. The year he represents is printed on his sash. According to mythology, Baby New Year grows up and ages in a single year. At the end of the year he is an old man and hands his role over to the next Baby New Year. Other symbols of New Year’s are spectacular fireworks exploding over landmarks and clocks striking midnight as the year begins.

Entertain At Home

Invite a few close friends to ring in the New Year with an easy, intimate party at home. Champagne is the classic New Year’s Eve beverage, but this year you can change things up by making fruity cocktails with that bottle of bubbly

The wonderful wafer-thin pancakes, called crepes, fill a niche in contemporary dining. Made with light sauces and fillings, they suit today’s desire for healthy fare. Crepe refers both to the individual pancake and the filled creation. Fast to assemble and filled by a variety of savory fillings – fresh vegetables and herbs, seafood, poultry, and meat crepes can serve as appetizers, first courses, and entrées. Filled with seasonal fruit, souffles, sauces, sorbets, or ice cream, they become sumptuous desserts.

Crepes are ideal to make ahead, refrigerate or freeze and fill later for a party or informal gathering. They are easy, dramatic, and fun to serve. They can be prepared early on the day of the party or let guests spoon on their own fillings.

 

Basic Crepe Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Oil for the pan

Cooking Instructions for the Crepes:

1. Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl.

2. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the milk and water. Whisk the milk and water into the flour mixture until the batter is smooth and well blended.

3. Whisk in the eggs and melted butter until blended.

4. Strain the batter through a sieve into another medium-sized bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to give the batter time to rest.

5. Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet or crepe pan over medium heat. Lightly brush the pan with olive oil.

6. Ladle about 1/4 cup of the batter into the skillet and tilt the pan in all directions to evenly coat the bottom.

 

 

7. Cook the crepes for about 30 seconds or until the bottom is lightly brown. Loosen the edges with a spatula and flip the crepe over.

 

8. Cook the underside for 10 to 15 seconds or until it is set, dry and browned in spots.

 

9. Slide the crepe onto a flat plate and cover with a piece of wax paper.

 

10. Repeat with the remaining batter, brushing the pan with more oil as needed, and stacking the crepes between wax paper. The crepes may be made up to 3 days ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Crepes

Servings: 8

Crepes

Filling                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound sliced smoked salmon

Salad

  • 3 cups baby spinach (3 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced and quartered

Directions:

Make crepes and set aside.

In a bowl blend the cream cheese, lemon zest, shallot, capers, dill and salt and season with pepper.

Fold each crepe in half. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture vertically down the center of each crepe. Lay the salmon over the cream cheese. Fold one side of the crepe over the filling, roll to close and serve.

In a medium bowl, toss the spinach with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add in the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on the side of the salmon crepes.

Mushroom, Spinach & Cheese Crepes

Yield: 12 crepes

Ingredients

Crepes

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 lbs mushrooms, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced ( about 8 cups of any combination of white button, shiitake, oyster, portobello, chanterelles or whate)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 (10 ounce) packages fresh spinach, washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions

Make crepes and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms all at once and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until they begin to brown. About 10 minutes.

Stir in the parsley, thyme, garlic, salt & pepper. Cook for 1 minute.

Reduce heat to medium and stir in the spinach. Cover & cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes.

Uncover & add the cream cheese, stirring until melted.

Spoon mixture down the center of each crepe. Roll up crepes and arrange side by side in a 13×9 baking dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

Cover pan with foil and heat until cheese melts, about 15 minutes.

Serve warm with sliced tomatoes and red onions.

Ham and Asparagus Crepes with Parmesan Cheese                                                                               

Make crepes and set aside.

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups diced or thinly sliced ham
  • 18 to 24 spears of asparagus
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper, optional
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, or about 1/2 cup if finely grated
  • More Parmesan cheese for topping

Filling:

Cut ham into small dice or slice thinly.

Heat oven to 500° F.

Toss asparagus with olive oil to coat thoroughly. Arrange in a single layer in a shallow baking pan; roast for 10 minutes. Remove and let the spears cool.

Sauce:

In a medium saucepan, saute the onion in butter until tender. Add the garlic and chopped red bell pepper and saute for 1 minute longer. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the pepper, parsley, and the shredded Parmesan cheese. Continue cooking, stirring, until thickened.

Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Heat oven to 350° F.

Place a crepe on a plate. Arrange ham and 3 to 4 spears of asparagus on the center of the crepe. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of sauce over the ham and asparagus; roll up or fold as desired. Arrange in the prepared baking dish; pour remaining sauce over the filled crepes. Sprinkle with more shredded Parmesan cheese. Bake until hot and bubbly. Serve with tossed salad.

 

Champagne CocktailsClassic champagne cocktail

Classic Champagne Cocktail

Makes 1

Ingredients

  • 3 drops bitters
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 ounce Cognac
  • 4 ounces chilled Champagne

Directions

Drop bitters onto sugar cube; let soak in. Place sugar cube in a Champagne flute. Add Cognac, and top with Champagne.

Champagne Punch

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 thinly sliced peach
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup Simple Sugar Syrup, see recipe below
  • 1 bottle champagne or other sparkling white wine

Directions

In a pitcher, combine ice, peach, raspberries, blueberries, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Slowly pour in champagne or other sparkling white wine.

Simple Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 2 parts sugar
  • 1 part water

Bring the water to a boil.

Dissolve the sugar into the boiling water, stirring constantly.

Once the sugar is dissolved completely, remove the pan from the heat. (Note: Do not allow the syrup to boil for too long or the syrup will be too thick.)

Allow to cool completely and thicken, then bottle.

 

Lavender Champagne

Serves 16

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender
  • 4 bottles (750 mL) dry Champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
  • Fresh lavender sprigs, for garnish

Directions

Bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Stir in dried lavender. Remove from heat. Let cool completely. Strain out lavender. Refrigerate syrup until ready to serve (up to 1 month).

Pour about 6 ounces Champagne and 1 1/2 teaspoons syrup into each flute. Garnish each with a lavender sprig.

Blood Orange Champagne Cocktail                                                                                                                     

Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups freshly squeezed or frozen blood-orange juice or regular orange juice
  • 2 750-ml bottles champagne, chilled

Directions

Pour 3 tablespoons juice in each champagne flute. Fill flutes with champagne, and serve.

 

Ginger Sparkler

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) dry sparkling wine, such as Cava, Prosecco, or Champagne

Directions

Set a fine-mesh sieve over a small bowl; set aside. In a small saucepan, boil ginger, sugar, and 1/4 cup water until syrupy, about 2 minutes. Pour through sieve into bowl, discarding solids. (To store syrup, refrigerate in an airtight container, up to 1 week.)

Pour 1 tablespoon syrup into each of 8 tall glasses. Top with sparkling wine, and gently stir.

 

Do You know the lyrics?

Print it off for your guests.

“Auld Lang Syne”

 

For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne,

We’ll tak a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne!

 

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp,

And surely I’ll be mine,

And we’ll tak a cup o kindness yet,

For auld lang syne!

 

We twa hae run about the braes,

And pou’d the gowans fine,

But we’ve wander’d monie a weary fit,

Sin auld lang syne.

 

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,

Frae morning sun till dine,

But seas between us braid hae roar’d

Sin auld lang syne.

 

And there’s a hand my trusty fiere,

And gie’s a hand o thine,

And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught,

For auld lang syne.

 

 

 


The Veneto is a large, beautiful region in northeastern Italy. It reaches northwards into the Dolomite Mountains, where you will find some of Italy’s most exclusive tourist and ski resorts, and westward to Lake Garda with its olive trees and its majestic views. Following along the course of the Brenta River, you will come to Palladio’s splendid villas. Picturesque towns seem to sprout up from the gently rolling hills. Vineyards feed off the water of the Adige river which passes through Verona on its way south to the Venetian lagoon.

Almost Switzerland – The Dolomite Mountains, Northern Italy

Lake Garda

For nearly 1400 years, the two or three miles of shallow water separating Venice from the mainland of Italy, had not only protected Venice from invaders but effectively isolated the Venetians from Italian politics.

Untouched by imperialist warfare, feudalism and territorial squabbles; Venetians fixed their attention on the East and the rich markets of Levantine and Constantinople to become a great mercantile empire called the Venetian Republic.

A city built out of fear of invasion, was soon to be known as one of  the most beautiful cities in the world. While the Florentines were regarded as great thinkers, the Venetians would be regarded as great doer’s, since they alone conquered Veneto’s malaria-ridden swamps to build a great city, Venice, from nothing.

The diverse landscape of the Veneto is reflected in the region’s varied cuisine, influenced in large part by the region’s history, cultural open-mindedness and the presence of the sea. Grains, like corn and rice, are grown in the flatlands. Rice is a  popular crop around Verona, where you will find the only Italian I.G.P rice variety, Vialone Nano Veronese.  (D.O.P. means Protected Denomination of Origin. Products that are assigned the D.O.P denomination must be produced exclusively in very limited and strictly defined areas.   These rice products may come from wider areas than D.O.P labeled products, but are certified I.G.P., that the typical characteristics of each product are within the approved standards for the whole area.)         

These two grains, rice and corn, are the main ingredients of the region’s first courses, which include many types of risotto and polenta. Rice is a particularly versatile ingredient, and here you will find risotto made with everything from chicken giblets or eel, to fresh peas or radicchio from Treviso or asparagus from Bassano.

The Grand Canal, Venice

As you head north towards the mountains, polenta becomes the grain of choice. Polenta is often served with baccalà, a dried salted cod, calf’s liver and onions or braised beef or horsemeat.

Along the Adriatic coast, fish soups or brodetti, are traditionally served as first courses. Chioggia, a picturesque costal town located just south of Venice, is particularly famous for its fish soup and its massive fish market.

The mountainous areas of the Veneto are known for their excellent cheeses, the most famous of which is Asiago (DOP). The regional salumi (meats/salami) are also well known, including Prosciutto Veneto Berico-Euganeo (DOP) and Soppressa Vicentina. ( Soppressa, unlike salami, which is made from good cuts of pork, sopressa is made with just about everything: the hams, shoulders, sides, and so on. About the only thing that doesn’t go into it, is the skin.)

When it comes to dessert, the Veneto is home to one of Italy’s most well known sweet breads, the Pandoro. This rich bread is produced in and around Verona according to an ancient recipes. In Venice, be sure to look for Scalete, Pandolo, and Baicoli, all traditional sweets favored by Venetians.

Rialto Market

For a seafood lover, there is perhaps no better place in the world to visit than Venice, Italy. The cuisine of this historic city relies heavily on the abundant bounty of the Venetian Lagoon, and the vast array of sea creatures which inhabit it. Every morning, the Rialto Market of Venice is overflowing with exotic catches of the day, from tiny snails called bovoleti to razor clams (cape longhe) and gigantic swordfish. Besides the lagoon, some fresh seafood is obtained from fish farms, or from the mountain streams of the Alto Adige. Wherever the source, the fish of this region is of amazing quality and variety.

While in Venice one can sample some of the seafood delicacies of the region found nowhere else in the world. Simply sticking to old Italian staples, such as cheese pizza or spaghetti with meatballs, would be an unfortunate choice, when presented with Venice’s unique dining options. The following list represents some of the most popular seafood dishes found in Venice, today. Preparation of these dishes is generally simple, relying on the quality of the ingredients and basic cooking techniques.

Pesce Fritto Misto (Fried Mixed Fish)  Typically these mixed-fries will include seafood choices, such as calamari, scallops, small shrimp, some large prawns or a small-sized whole fish. This hearty meal is usually served with Polenta and lemon wedges and, perhaps, no more than a sprinkling of salt and parsley for seasoning.

Seppia al Nero (Squid in its Own Ink) Seppia, or cuttlefish, is a squid-like fish which sprays black ink when threatened. The meat of the seppia is sweet and tender when grilled, and is often served in Venetian restaurants over a bed of linguine or risotto, colored black by its ink. The ink gives the pasta or rice a rich, briny flavor.

Sarde in Saor (Marinated Sardines) This classic dish is one of the most popular Venetian first courses. Sardines are fried and placed in a sweet-and-sour marinade of vinegar, onions, raisins and pine nuts. If one’s only experience with sardines are those of the canned variety, then trying this specialty of the Venice region is a must.

Pizza con Pesce (Seafood Pizza) Seafood pizza in Venice is unlike pizza served anywhere else in the world. It is prepared with a topping of calamari and mixed shellfish such as shrimp, clams and mussels – often still in their shells. The shells open as the pizza bakes in the oven, releasing their juices onto the very thin crust with a tomato sauce base. Of course, there is absolutely no cheese served on such a pizza, as in true Italian cooking, cheese and seafood are considered highly incompatible.

Branzino Me Alati (Salt-Crusted Mediterranean Sea Bass) A classic Venetian way to prepare a whole branzino (sea bass) is to bake it in a thick salt crust. The salt forms a hard shell around the fish while it cooks, and the scales are left on the fish while cooking to prevent the salt from penetrating the flesh. The crust must then be carefully cracked and peeled away before filleting the fish. The resulting flavor is sweet and tender and usually served with risotto or pasta.

Folpetti Consi (Boiled Baby Octopus) Tiny young octopus are boiled with carrots and celery until tender, then seasoned lightly with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Rombo, also known as Turbot, is a uniquely Mediterranean fish, not unlike the flounder. It is a flat fish that is quite popular in Venetian restaurants for its delicate flavor. It can be prepared in a number of different ways, but it is usually baked in a light tomato sauce.

Recipes For You To Make At Home

Venetian Rice and Peas – Risi e Bisi

Risi e bisi (rice and peas) is a classic Venetian dish. In the past it was prepared only on the feast days decreed by the Doge (Venice’s ruler), and though one can now prepare risi e bisi at any time, the dish really shines when freshly harvested baby peas are available. However, quality frozen peas can work very well, if fresh peas are not available. Venetians use a risotto rice called Vialone Nano, but Arborio rice will be fine if the Venetian rice is not available in your area.

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or Smart Balance Butter Blend), divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced pancetta (about 2 oz.) or prosciutto
  • 2 cups arborio rice or vialone nano rice (about 14 oz.)
  • 4 cups shelled fresh or thawed frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Bring vegetable stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Cover and keep warm. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft (do not brown), about 5 minutes. Add pancetta and cook until light brown, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring until coated, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup stock. Stir constantly until stock is almost absorbed, about 1 minute. Continue adding stock by the cupful in 5 more additions, stirring constantly and allowing stock to be absorbed between additions, until rice is almost tender. Add peas and remaining cup of stock and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice is creamy and tender but still firm to the bite, about 22 minutes total.

Remove pan from heat. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, Parmesan, and parsley. Season rice and peas with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowls or plates, and serve.

Mediterranean Flounder or Sea Bass Fillets

Ingredients:

  • 6 flounder or sea bass fillets (about 6 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon butter or Smart Balance
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 small jar capers, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon slices for garnish

Directions:

1. To cook fillets: Heat olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat.

2. In a separate dish, combine flour, salt and pepper. Flour the fillets and place in the sauté pan. Cook until golden brown on each side. Remove to a serving platter.

3. Keep the drippings in the sauté pan and add the parsley, capers and wine. Cook over a low flame for 3 minutes.

4. Spoon the sauce over the fillets and serve immediately.

6 servings

Pork Stewed in Milk – Mas-cio al Late

Pork Stewed in Milk is one of the most popular second course entrees in the restaurants of the Venice, and, as a result, there are many variations. Some use white wine vinegar rather than white wine, others omit the garlic, and others use pork loin rather than pork rump.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds pork rump
  • 3 pints whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or Smart Balance
  • White wine vinegar
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A little unbleached flour

Directions:

Tie the meat with butcher’s twine to give it as regular a shape as possible, and put it in a pot that’s just large enough to hold it. Add good, but not too strong or acidic white wine vinegar to cover, cover the pot with a cloth, and set it in the refrigerator for 48 hours, turning the meat four times each day and adding more vinegar if need be to keep it covered.

When the time is up, remove the meat from the vinegar and dry it well. Flour it and brown it in the butter, turning it so as to brown all sides. In the meantime, heat the milk, and, while the meat is browning, tie together the sage leaves and rosemary. Add the herbs to the pot, and season the meat with salt and pepper; next, slowly pour the milk over it. Let it come back to a boil, reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover the pot, and cook for two hours, turning the meat every now and again, but being careful not to puncture it.

Half way through the cooking, add a large clove of peeled, crushed garlic. By the time the meat is done the milk will have condensed into a creamy sauce.

Slice the meat fairly thickly, arrange the slices on a heated serving dish, spoon the sauce over them.

Potato Gnocchi with Salsa Nera

If calamari and black squid ink are not your thing, I would use small shrimp or bay scallops for the calamari and 1 tablespoon basil pesto for the squid ink.

Ingredients:

For gnocchi:

  • 6 pounds potatoes
  • 2 cups flour or Eagle Brand Ultra Grain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For salsa nera:

  • 4 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 pound calamari, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh, black squid ink
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

To make gnocchi: Scrub the potatoes and place, unpeeled, in a large pot of boiling water (lightly salted).

Cook for 45 minutes until tender but not overcooked. When cool, peel potatoes and mash. Add flour, eggs, salt and pepper.

Roll dough into long thin rods, and cut into small pieces about 1-inch in length to form the dumplings.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop gnocchi in and cook for approximately 1 minute until they float to the top. Scoop out with a mesh strainer.

To make Salsa Nera: In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add parsley, tomato paste, white wine, black squid ink (or pesto), salt and pepper; cook for 20 minutes then add the calamari ( or shrimp or scallops) and cook for 3 minutes more.

To assemble: Place cooked gnocchi on a large serving platter. Add the salsa nera and gently toss to cover gnocchi with sauce.

Crespelle with Berries and Cognac

Ingredients:

For crespelle:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour or Eagle Brand Ultra Grain flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar or 2 tablespoons Truvia for Baking
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups low fat milk
  • 2 large eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1 tablespoon butter or Smart Balance Butter Blend, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray to coat crêpe pan, as needed

For berry sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or Smart Balance)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar or 1/4 cup Truvia for Baking
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 cups mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup cognac

Directions:

1. To make crepes: In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs, butter and vanilla extract. Whisk batter well to remove any lumps, and then let the batter rest for at least 1 hour to ensure tender crêpes.

2. In a small, flat, round crêpe pan, heat the pan over medium heat and grease lightly with butter to prevent sticking.

3. With a ladle or small measuring cup, quickly pour a small amount of batter into the pan. Immediately tilt and swirl the pan to spread the batter in a thin, even layer that just covers the bottom of the pan. Cook for a few minutes, and then check the doneness of a crepe by carefully lifting one edge and looking underneath it for a golden color with specks of light brown. With a spatula, loosen the edge of the crêpe from the pan, flip it over, and cook on the other side until golden, about 30 seconds. Set aside crepes on individual dessert plates.

4. To make berry sauce: Melt butter in a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients. Add sugar and cook until it begins to caramelize. Add orange juice and reduce by half. Add berries and heat through.

5. To assemble: Once berries are hot, add the cognac, and ignite. Spoon over crepes and serve immediately.

4 servings


 

zucchini penneIt can be challenging to serve healthy meals on a budget, but with planning you can eat better for less. Many people save money by adding meatless meals to their weekly menus. Meatless meals are built around vegetables, beans and grains — instead of meat, which tends to be more expensive. Meatless meals also offer health benefits.

A plant-based diet, which emphasizes fruits and vegetables, grains, beans and legumes, and nuts, is rich in fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Just eating less meat has a protective effect. A National Cancer Institute study of 500,000 people found that those who ate 4 ounces of red meat or more daily were 30 percent more likely to contract a serious illness. Sausage, luncheon meats and other processed meats also increased the risk. Those who ate mostly poultry or fish had a lower risk of serious illness.

The fact is that most Americans get enough protein in their diets. Adults generally need 10 to 35 percent of their total daily calories to come from protein.  Of course, you can get protein from sources other than meat. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends choosing a variety of protein foods, including eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. The guidelines also suggest replacing protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories. The fats in meat, poultry and eggs are considered solid fats, while the fats in seafood, nuts and seeds are considered oils.

You don’t have to go cold turkey. Instead, try easing into meatless meals. Consider going meatless one day a week. If you don’t like the idea of a whole day without meat, start with a meatless dinner each week or choose to eat meat free lunches or breakfasts. Plan meals that feature entrees you like that are typically meatless, such as lasagna, soup or pasta salad.

When your meals include meat, don’t overindulge. Choose lean cuts and avoid oversized portions. A serving of protein should be no more than 3-4 ounces or about the size of a deck of cards and should take up no more than one-fourth of your plate. Vegetables and fruits should cover half your plate. Whole grains make up the rest.

Finding ideas for cooking meatless meals isn’t necessarily easy. You can get bored with the same foods every day, so here a few suggestions on how to vary your meal plans.

1.  Vegetable Stew

You don’t have to put meat in your stews to get the same taste. Hearty vegetables like potatoes and carrots make meals by themselves. When you make your vegetable stew, use good portions of these vegetables in your recipe. Also add green beans and sweet peas. Tomatoes and corn also round out this type of stew.

2.  Vegetable Stir-Fry

Stir-fries are delicious ways to cook meatless meals. Most traditional stir-fries add chicken, beef or pork into the recipe. You can substitute mushrooms for meat in your favorite stir-fry recipe.

3.  Salad

A salad is a healthy meatless meal that has numerous nutritional benefits. Of course, you’re probably thinking a salad won’t fill you up much. Salads can be complete and sensible meals if you add items that have protein. Top your salads with nuts or beans. Protein is great for building muscle tissue and warding off heart problems. The fiber in beans keeps constipation away.

4.  Omelet

Omelets aren’t just for breakfast anymore. They make great lunch and dinner meal options. Make your omelet delicious and fulfilling by using low fat cheese, egg whites and vegetables. Also avoid too much salt and use small amounts of healthy oils when preparing your omelet. These ingredients can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart-related problems.

5.  Bean Soup

Beans are high in fiber and protein. They are delicious in soups as well.  Pinto, kidney and black beans are perfect for soups. They provide a heartier taste than lighter colored beans such as lima and navy beans. You can make your soup even more filling by adding pasta, onions, tomatoes and carrots.

Here are some recipes that may tempt you to try a meatless dinner, soon.

Eggplant Burgers

Pour 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato oil (from the jar) into a small skillet and heat and add:

  • 1 small eggplant (about ¾ lb.), peeled and chopped fine.
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped fine
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook over medium low heat until very soft. Turn into bowl and mix in 1/4 cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs. You may need a little more breadcrumbs so that the mixture holds together. Chill.

Form into 4 patties. Brush each side with a little olive oil and grill for about 3 minutes on each side. Serve each with 1 tablespoon of basil sauce on a hamburger bun.
Can be frozen and reheat in a 350 degree oven..

Basil Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

Process all ingredients in food processor or blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

Roasted Vegetable Crepes

Thin pancakes with a savory vegetable filling are great for dinner or brunch.

Crepes:

  • 1 cup quick-mixing flour, such as Wondra
  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 3 eggs or 3/4 cups egg substitute
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter, divided, or Smart Balance Spread
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:

  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Coarsely ground black pepper                                                                                                                                              

To prepare crepes:

1. Place flour in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in milk and water until smooth. Whisk in eggs, 3 tablespoons butter and salt. Let stand 10 minutes. (This allows the flour to absorb the liquid.)

2. Heat an 8- or 9-inch crepe pan over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly brush pan with some of the remaining melted butter.

3. Pour 1/4 cup batter into the center of pan. Quickly tilt in all directions. (Batter should lightly cover the bottom of pan.) Cook 30 seconds. Lift edge with a spatula to check doneness. Shake and jerk the pan by its handle to loosen crepe. Turn crepe over with your fingers or a spatula and flip. Cook 15 to 20 seconds. (Second side will be spotty brown.)

4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter and melted butter. Makes 10 crepes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To prepare filling:

Place zucchini, bell pepper, onion and tomatoes in a large baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Add salt, thyme and pepper. Roast 30 minutes or until tender. Makes about 3 cups.

To assemble:

5 ounces brie cheese or softened Alouette or light cream cheese

Spread 2 tablespoons cheese on half of each crepe. Top with about 1/3 cup roasted vegetables. Fold in half then in half again.

polenta-vegetables-fore296

 

Polenta and Vegetables With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked instant polenta
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (or oregano) or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 asparagus stalks, ends trimmed
  • 8 scallions, trimmed
  • 2 small eggplants, trimmed and halved
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes

Sauce

Directions

Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a medium-sized heavy saucepan. Add polenta in a stream, whisking to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in 1/3 cup Parmesan and season with cayenne and salt.

Coat a 9″ pie plate with cooking spray. Transfer polenta to pie plate, smooth into an even layer and let cool 15 minutes.

Heat broiler or outdoor grill or indoor grill.

Whisk garlic, thyme, lemon juice and oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss vegetables with dressing. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange vegetables in 1 layer (or layer in a grill basket).

Broil or grill vegetables about 4 inches from heat until tender and lightly brown, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter.

Combine all sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Sprinkle polenta with remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Broil the polenta in the pie plate until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, then cut polenta into 8 triangles. Or, you can grill the triangles until lightly brown.

Divide polenta among 4 plates. Top with vegetables, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with chives. Serve any remaining sauce on the side.

chunky veggie

Chunky Vegetable Pot Pie

You can use any combination of vegetables that you like – just keep the amount the same. You can also vary the seasonings according to taste.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium (about 8 ounces) butternut squash, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thick 1-inch long matchsticks
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets (from ½ of a cauliflower)
  • 2 medium beets, trimmed and scrubbed, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into thick 1-inch long matchsticks
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch long matchsticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Biscuit Topping:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon, divided
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or an alternative, such as Smart Balance Spread
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Place squash, sweet potato, carrots, cauliflower, beets and parsnips in a roasting pan. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil; Italian seasoning and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring twice during the cooking.  Remove; reduce oven to 375°F.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom, then add the garlic and shallots; cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Raise the heat to high, and add the wine.  Let the wine reduce by half, about 2 minutes.  Add the vegetable stock and simmer over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Combine 1 cup flour, the baking powder, 2 teaspoons tarragon and  1/4 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the milk and Parmesan, process until combined, and set aside.

Transfer vegetables to a large bowl.  Add zucchini, remaining 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons tarragon; toss to combine.  Stir in the stock mixture; season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a shallow ovenproof casserole and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and drop heaping tablespoons of the biscuit dough over the vegetables, leaving some of the vegetables exposed.

Place the dish in the oven and bake until the biscuits are golden, about 25 minutes.  Serve hot.

Total Servings: 6


As a child, I remember my father taking me with him when he went shopping on a Saturday morning, in what was, “the little Italy” neighborhood in our city. We would visit the Italian deli for cold cuts, Sorrento’s Bakery for bread, Sacco & Sons for sausage and a quick lunch trip to Spirito’s for a slice of pizza. I didn’t mind the excursion during the warm months because my father always bought me a lemon ice from one of the push cart venders. The neighborhood that I remember is no longer there, but eating lemon ice or sorbetto or gelato is timeless. The recipes for frozen ices and other Italian treats will keep you cool in the coming months, but light enough so you do not have to worry about the calories.

Gelato (Italian Ice Cream) has a very low butterfat content, which makes the flavors more intense on the tongue. In addition, less air is introduced into the mixture before it is frozen, creating a much more dense dessert that adds a surprising richness to the flavor. Gelato may be made with or without eggs, cornstarch or cream in its base and, frequently, has other ingredients such as fresh fruit or coffee added for flavor. I prefer to make gelato without raw eggs yolks, so another thickener, such as cornstarch, is needed.  There are numerous recipes around but the best recipe, I found for this version, is from Mark Bittman in The New York Times. It is easy, healthy and offers many flavor ideas but does not sacrifice taste.

delights1

Gelato

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Ice Cream Maker

Put 2 cups milk, the sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. If using a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into liquid, then add pod. Cook until mixture begins to steam.
In a bowl, blend cornstarch and remaining milk; there should be no lumps. Remove bean pod from pot and discard. Add cornstarch mixture to pot. Cook, stirring, until it starts to thicken and barely reaches a boil, about 5 minutes. Immediately reduce heat to very low and stir for 5 minutes or so until thick. Stir in vanilla extract, if using.
If mixture has lumps, strain it into a bowl. Chill for 2 hours. When cool or if there are no lumps, pour into an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Yield: 1 generous pint.

Additions:

  • Honey-Jam Variation –  Substitute honey for half the sugar. Add 1/2 cup good jam to mixture before freezing.
  • Yogurt-Substitute yogurt for half the milk.
  • Cherry-Vanilla-Add 1 cup halved, pitted cherries just before freezing.
  • Strawberry, Blueberry or Peach-Add 1 cup hulled, sliced strawberries, blueberries, or peeled and chopped peaches before freezing.
  • Coffee-Substitute 1/2 cup very strong coffee for 1/2 cup milk.
  • Coconut-Substitute 1 cup coconut milk for 1 cup milk; add 1/2 cup toasted dried coconut.
  • Mint Chocolate Chip-Add 1/2 cup minced mint and 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate just before freezing.

elights2

Fresh Strawberries With Limoncello

Limoncello has long been a staple in the lemon-producing region of the Italian Amalfi Coast, especially in Capri and Sorrento. Authentic Limoncello is made from Sorrento lemons that are grown in that region. Families in Italy have passed down recipes for generations, as every Italian family has their own Limoncello recipe.
When my son and daughter-in-law returned from a trip to Capri several years ago, they brought me back a bottle. Until that time, I had never heard of the product. I find it compliments many fruit desserts or adds another dimension to fruity drinks. Bottles of limoncello should be kept in the freezer until ready to serve.

Ingredients

  • 20 whole large fresh strawberries, cut into halves
  • 1 tablespoon limoncello
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • fresh ground pepper
  •  Biscotti

Directions

Place cut strawberries in a bowl.

Pour over the liqueur, orange juice and sprinkle over with freshly ground pepper. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes. 

Serve as is or with biscotti.

delights7

Citrus Sorbetto

Makes a perfect palate cleanser.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, fresh
  • 1/2 cup orange juice, fresh
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Zest of 1/2 orange

Directions

Combine sugar and water in a small pot. Bring to a boil reduce and simmer just until the sugar is dissolved, let cool.

Stir together all the juices, zest and vanilla and add in the sugar syrup.  

Chill syrup & juice blend in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

You may serve the sorbetto right away or store it in the freezer.

delights3

Ricotta With Berries

2 servings

Berries

  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 10 strawberries, hulled and chopped ( or sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 

Ricotta

  • 6 ounces skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Amaretto
  • Garnish with mint leaves

Directions

Combine the berries with lemon juice and sugar. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

Mix ricotta ingredients together. This may be done in a food processor, if a finer texture is desired.

Serve berries over a scoop of the ricotta and garnish with mint. Serving it in a martini or other decorative glass makes for a nice presentation.

delights4

Strawberry and Ricotta Crepes

Serves 4

The crepes can be prepared in advance and stored in the freezer, so that you can pull this dessert together quickly. This recipe also makes more crepes than you’ll need for the servings below.  Allow the extra crepes to cool, place waxed paper between them, stack and place in a ziplock bag in the freezer.

Other fresh seasonal fruits can be used instead of strawberries.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ teaspoons powdered sugar
  • 2 cups (about 10 ounces) cleaned and sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons agave syrup
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh mint
  • Small pinch of salt

Crepes

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons agave syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Measure all crepe ingredients and place into a blender; blend for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides. Blend for 15 seconds more. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. (This helps the flour absorb more of the liquids.)  

Heat a crepe pan (or use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet). Lightly grease the pan.

Measure about 1/4 cup batter into the pan. Tilt the pan to spread the batter. Once the crepe has lots of little bubbles, loosen the edges with a spatula and turn the crepe over. The second side cooks quickly, so after about 15 seconds, slide the crepe from the pan to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter (yield: about 20 crepes).

Mix ricotta with powdered sugar. Set aside.

Mix strawberries gently with sugar, mint and salt. Set aside.

If the crepes were prepared earlier in the day or frozen and defrosted overnight, reheat them in the microwave for a minute or two until warm.

Spread 1 tablespoon of ricotta mixture on one half of each of 8 warm crepes and fold to cover. Place two crepes on each serving plate.

Top with strawberries, dust with powdered sugar and serve.

delights5

Lemon Biscotti With Lemon Drizzle

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2  cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1  cup pistachio nuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1 tablespoon lemon extract
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • Cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl.

Combine zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, lemon extract, oil and eggs. Add to the flour mixture, stirring until well-blended.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 7 to 8 times. Divide dough in half. Shape each portion into an 8-inch-long roll.

Place rolls 6 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; flatten each roll to 1-inch thickness. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the rolls from the baking sheet; cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut each roll diagonally into 15 (1/2-inch) slices.

Place the slices, cut sides down, on the baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F; bake for 10 minutes.

Turn cookies over; bake an additional 10 minutes (the cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool).

Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on wire rack.

Combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice and powdered sugar; drizzle over the biscotti.

If you’re making enough to freeze, store them in the freezer without the drizzle, then make it just before serving.

delights6

Tangerine and Prosecco Sorbet

“Italian Champagne” – Prosecco is a sparkling wine made from late-ripening white grapes from the Veneto – Conegliano – Valdobbiadene region of Italy.

6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 cups chilled tangerine juice or tangerine orange juice
  • 1 cup chilled Prosecco
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated tangerine peel

Directions

Combine sugar and water in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to boil.

Transfer syrup to medium bowl and chill until cold, about 2 hours.

Add tangerine juice and Prosecco to syrup; whisk to blend well. Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer sorbet to a freezer container. Cover tightly with a lid and freeze until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight. 

DO AHEAD:  Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep frozen. Divide sorbet among wine goblets or dessert glasses.



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