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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: cake

eastercake

Tradition is important in the Italian-American culture. Second only to Christmas Eve in the way of Italian-American traditions, Easter is a big holiday and, as such, it is centered around food—as most Italian-American celebrations are. From Easter breads and ricotta pies to roasted lamb and asparagus, there are numerous dishes on the Italian American table. Here are some recipes for just a few of them.

Pizza Rustica

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Also, called Easter Pie. There are as many recipes for this dish as there are Italians. Most pies contain ricotta cheese, eggs and some type of Italian meat. Italian Americans love to make this pie for their family members.  I remember vividly, my father visiting his family at Easter time and coming home with pies made for him by his sisters and sisters-in-law. It twas a bit overwhelming.

Pastry Crust

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons icy water as needed

Directions

Put the flour and salt into a food processor bowl fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to mix the dry ingredients.

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and drop them onto the flour and pulse the machine in short bursts about 10 times. The mixture should be crumbly.

Put in the eggs and pulse a few times to mix the eggs into the dry ingredients.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water on top of the dough. Pulse 6 times for just a second or two. The dough should resemble cottage cheese. Pick up some dough and press it together. If it doesn’t hold together, add another teaspoon of water until it does.

Scrape the dough onto a floured board and knead together just to form a smooth, tight dough.

Form a flat disc and wrap the dough in plastic. Refrigerate for a few hours before using.

Filling

  • 32 oz. ricotta, drained
  • 2 eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino cheese
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cut in a ½ inch dice
  • 4 oz diced Prosciutto di Parma
  • 4 oz sopressata cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1 cooked sweet Italian sausage link (4 oz.) cut into ½ inch cubes
  • Egg Wash (1 egg beaten with one tablespoon of water)

Directions

In a large bowl combine the ricotta, Pecorino, pepper and eggs.

Add the mozzarella, prosciutto, sopressata and sausage and mix well into the cheese mixture.

To Assemble the Pizza Rustica

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 9 inch springform pan or a 9 inch deep dish pie pan.

Cut off 1/3 of the dough and set aside.

With a rolling-pin, roll out the remaining pastry dough to about 15 inches in diameter. It should be about 1/8 inch thick.

Flour the board and top of the dough to avoid the dough from sticking.

Place the dough in the pan and pat the dough to cover the bottom and sides. If the dough breaks just patch it.

Pour in the ricotta mixture.

Tap the pan on the board to ensure the filling settles.

Roll out the remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round. (You can also cut the dough for the top into lattice strips.)

Place the dough over the filling. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal, then crimp the dough edges decoratively.

Brush the egg wash over the entire pastry top. Bake on the bottom shelf until the crust is golden brown, about 1 hour.

Let stand 15 minutes. Release the pan sides and transfer the pizza to a platter. Cut into wedges and serve.

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Spring Minestrone

 

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces ground chicken
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 6 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup orzo or ditalini or other small pasta
  • 1 cup 1/2-inch rounds of peeled carrots
  • 1 cup (packed) baby spinach
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix chicken, bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 2 minced garlic cloves, chives, egg, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl.

Form into 1/2-inch-diameter meatballs (I uses a melon ball scoop). Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the meatballs on the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the sliced leek to the pot and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.

Add the remaining garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add broth and 2 cups water; bring to a boil.

Stir in pasta and carrots;turn heat to low and simmer about 8 minutes.

Add meatballs; simmer until pasta is al dente and the carrots are tender, about 3 minutes.

Add spinach and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; stir until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with chopped parsley and additional Parmesan, if desired.

Spinach Lasagna

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For the white sauce

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

In a medium saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat. Stir in flour and cook the roux, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add milk in a steady stream and bring mixture to a boil, whisking until thick and smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer sauce over low heat, whisking occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes, or until thickened. Transfer sauce to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap.

Cheese Filling

Ingredients

  • 32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1-10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Lasagna

  • 1 lb.mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
  • White sauce, recipe above
  • 12parboiled spinach lasagna noodles

Directions

Mix the ricotta with the spinach and the remaining filling ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the lasagna.

Completing the Lasagna

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish.

Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish and place a layer of noodles on top.

Spread one-third of the sliced mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta and then one-third of the ricotta cheese mixture over the mozzarella; top with another 1 cup of sauce.

Repeat the layers twice, then top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1 cup of sauce over the top layer of pasta.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle the top with extra parsley for color.

Italian Baked Ham

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Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 jar fig jam
  • 1 large ham (8 to 10-pounds bone-in, spiral cut or 4- to 5-pound boneless)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a rack on top.

In a small mixing bowl, mix together the rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and juice and olive oil.

Set the ham on the rack and rub the ham with the rosemary mixture. Season with salt and pepper and cover with foil.

In a small pot, heat the fig jam with a couple of tablespoons of water.

Bake the ham for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and glaze the ham with the fig jam.

Continue brushing the ham with the glaze every 15-20 minutes with a pastry brush, for another hour or until heated through.

If the ham starts to get too brown, loosely cover it with foil. Let rest 15 minutes before slicing.

Easter Lamb Cake

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Ingredients

  • 1 pkg store-bought chocolate or vanilla cake mix
  • 1 cup water (use 1/4 cup less than the package directions-my cake mix calls for 1 1/4 cups of water)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Whipped Cream Frosting, recipe below
  • 1 lamb mold

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare the lamb mold by coating it with vegetable oil. Let sit for a few minutes then wipe clean with a paper towel.

Then grease (use a solid shortening) and flour the lamb mold, making sure to get all the creases.

Place the front of the mold on a baking sheet.

Prepare the cake batter according to the cake mix directions.

Fill the mold to the top for the front of the cake, do not fill the back side of the mold.

Place the back of the mold on the front and place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the cake tests done. (Test with toothpick through a vent hole in the mold.)

Remove the mold from the oven, wait 10 minutes and remove the back of body mold.

Stand the cake up and gently remove the front of the mold. Have clean towels rolled up and ready to support the head of the cake, while placing a rolled up towel in back of the cake to support the that part also.

Place a dab of icing on a plate and stand the cake in an upright position. Frost and decorate with jelly beans, raisins, cherries, or chocolate chips for the eyes and nose.

(Best results cool cake in the refrigerator before frosting, this makes a firmer surface for the icing.)  Place green tinted coconut around the base of the lamb; add jelly beans and a colorful bow at the neck, if desired.

Whipped Cream Frosting

This is a great whipped cream recipe because it does not weep after it sits on the cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Directions

Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a electric stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth.

While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.

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triestecover

The province of Trieste is located at the head of the Gulf of Trieste and throughout history it has been influenced by its location at the crossroads of Germanic, Latin and Slavic cultures. Trieste enjoys a beautiful natural location, as it is surrounded by the Carsic hills and the Adriatic Sea.

The province is located in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy and was first established in 1920. It contained the current territory of the province, as well as, significant portions of the Kras plateau and the region of Inner Carniola in present-day Slovenia. After the end of World War II, the Free Territory of Trieste was established as a free state. In 1954, Italy and Yugoslavia came to an understanding and the territory was divided between the two states. Zone A of the free state became the new Province of Trieste and Zone B was administered by Yugoslavia. The Province of Trieste formally became a part of Italy on 11 October 1977, by the Treaty of Osimo.

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Trieste City Hall

Trieste is composed of several different climatic zones according to the distance from the sea and/or elevation. The average temperatures are 6 °C (43 °F) in January and 24 °C (75 °F) in July. The climate can be severely affected by the Bora, a northern to north-eastern wind that can reach speeds of up to 124 miles (200 kilometers) per hour.

The Italian language is spoken within the whole province. In the city of Trieste, many people speak Triestine, a dialect of Venetian. Besides standard Slovene, which is taught in Slovene-language schools, three different Slovene dialects are also spoken in the Province of Trieste.

Roman Arch

Remains of a Roman Arch

Trieste was one of the oldest areas of the former Hapsburg Monarchy (1382-1918) and it was one of the most important ports in Europe. As a prosperous seaport in the Mediterranean region, Trieste became the fourth largest city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (after Vienna, Budapest and Prague) and was also known as an important hub for literature and music.

Trieste, which probably dates back to the protohistoric period, was enclosed by walls built in 33–32 BC by the Roman Emperor Octavian. Roman influence continued during the 1st and 2nd centuries. A Roman theater lies at the foot of the San Giusto hill, facing the sea and much of the theater is made of stone. The statues that adorned the theater are now preserved at the Town Museum.

Miramare Castle

Miramare Castle

Along the coast, one can admire three ancient castles and the city center boasts Venetian influences, complete with calli (narrow streets) and campielli (small squares) and a majestic cathedral. The Castello Miramare, or Miramare Castle, was built between 1856 and 1860 from a project by Carl Junker working under Archduke Maximilian. The Castle gardens provide a setting of beauty with a variety of trees, chosen by Maximilian. Today, the gardens include: two ponds, one noted for its swans and the other for lotus flowers, a bronze statue of Maximilian and a small chapel.

Trieste Square

Trieste Square

Since the 1970s, Trieste has had a huge economic boom, thanks to a significant commercial shipping business. Trieste is also Italy’s and the Mediterranean’s (and one of Europe’s) greatest coffee ports, as the city supplies more than 40% of Italy’s coffee. Coffee brands, such as Illy, were founded here and are headquartered in the city. Currently, Trieste is one of Europe’s most important ports and centers for trade and transport.

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Trieste Cafe

The cuisine in Trieste Province is rich and varied, due to Austrian, Venetian and Friulian influences and quite distinct from the rest of Italy. After years under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, many parts of this region prepare hearty cabbage soups and delicate pastries. Bean soup with sauerkraut is typically served as an antipasto. Frico, another antipasto, consists of shredded cheese with a bit of flour that is baked or fried until crisp.

White fish soup (made with mullet, bream, flounder, etc) is cooked in a cast iron pot with a little oil, whole garlic cloves and fish flavored with white vinegar and black pepper. Pickled turnips are used to accompany roasted or boiled meats. They are made by cutting turnips into small slices and slow cooking them in a pan with olive oil, bay leaves and a piece of pork. Polenta is cooked with cheese and ravioli are made with a potato, cinnamon, raisins and a herbs. In Trieste, lasagna is kept simple and sprinkled with a special sauce made with butter, sugar and poppy seeds.

Desserts include strudel made from a thin layer of dough rolled around a sweet or savory filling and they are either baked or boiled. Gubana, “guba” meaning “piega” (to fold) in Italian, is a very traditional pastry that somewhat resembles strudel and usually comes with a minced apple and grappa filling. Presnitz is a dessert of puff pastry rolled up with walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, figs, prunes, apricots, raisins, grated chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and rum filling. Legend has it that a Trieste baker invented this cake in honor of Princess Sissi of Austria. The cake is popular during Christmas time.

Wines are mostly white and remarkable for the number of grape varieties that are used in their blends, like Refosco, Terrano, Malvasia, Tocai and Rebula. Italy’s popular grappa, distilled from the skins, seeds and stems of many types of grapes left over after wine making, is also produced here. Beer is popular here also. Many Italians, especially in the northeast, finish off their meal with a glass of distilled grappa.

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Jota (Bean and Sauerkraut Soup)

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces dried cranberry (borlotti) or kidney beans
  • 1/2 pound pork shoulder, trimmed and cubed or 1 ham hock
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 10 ounces sauerkraut, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Place the cranberry beans in a large container and cover with several inches of cool water; let stand 8 hours to overnight. Drain.

In a large Dutch Oven or soup pot bring the cranberry beans, pork, bacon, onion, water, garlic, bay leaves and salt to a boil. Cover and simmer until the beans are just tender, about 1 hour.

Rinse sauerkraut thoroughly in a large bowl of cold water, then drain in a colander and rinse again. Add the drained sauerkraut and potatoes to the pot with the beans. Continue simmering, partially covered, until the potatoes are soft when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 30-45 minutes. Discard bay leaves before serving. Garnish with parsley.

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Goulash (Gulash) Trieste style

Ingredients

  • 800 g (1 3/4 lb) stewing beef (chuck), cubed
  • 800 g (1 3/4 lb) onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon bay  leaf
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) Italian diced tomatoes
  • 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Polenta

Directions

Saute the onions in oil in a large saucepan, over low heat. Add the meat with the herbs and simmer until the meat begins to brown.

Dissolve the paprika in a little warm water and add it with the tomatoes along with enough warm water to make enough liquid to just cover the meat.

Season with salt and simmer over very low heat, covered, for an hour or until the meat is very tender. Serve over polenta.

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Brodetto alla Triestina (Trieste-style fish stew)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds cleaned, whole sea bass, without the head, tail and fins, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 2 pounds cleaned, whole striped bass, without the head, tail and fins, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • ¾ pound cleaned squid, cut into 1 inch rings
  • 2 eight-ounce lobster tails in the shell, each cut into four pieces
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups fish stock
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • Salt, if desired
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 medium-size shrimp, shelled and deveined,
  • 12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 14 mussels, scrubbed

Directions

Heat the oil in a very large pot with a heavy bottom and, when it is hot and almost smoking, add the onions. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Arrange the pieces of sea bass, striped bass and lobster tails in the pot. Cook, turning the pieces occasionally, over high heat for three minutes. Add the vinegar and stir. Cover and cook about one minute.

Add the fish stock and bring to a simmer. Cover. Cook five minutes.

Add the tomato sauce and cover. Cook three minutes.

Add the squid, salt and pepper to taste and partly cover the pan. Let cook eight minutes.

Add the shrimp, clams and mussels and cook five minutes longer or until the mussels and clams open. Serve immediately.

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Trieste Chocolate Mousse Cake

Sponge Cake:

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze:

  • 7 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

For the cake:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a jelly roll (baking) pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream the butter with 1/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add cooled melted chocolate and beat in egg yolks one at a time.

In a separate medium bowl, beat egg whites and a pinch of salt until the whites cling to the beater. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Fold 1/3 of the whites into the chocolate mixture. Then, carefully, fold in the remaining whites. Sprinkle the flour over the batter and, carefully, fold it in without decreasing the volume.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake 12-15 minutes, or until cake starts to pull away from the sides. Do not overbake. This makes a thin cake layer.

Cool a few minutes on a wire rack and then invert onto the rack. Remove the parchment paper and let cool completely.

For the filling:

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in the microwave or  in a saucepan and pour over the chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 10 minutes.

Add rum and vanilla and stir until smooth. Refrigerate 1 hour. When cold, whip the filling until its volume has doubled.

Assembly:

Cut the cake in half and place one half on a rack. Spread the filling over the cake and top with the remaining cake half. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the glaze:

Place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a microwaveable bowl. Heat on full power 1 minute. Add vanilla and stir until completely melted and smooth. Let cool 10 minutes.

Set the rack holding the cake over a pan or wax paper to catch the drips. Holding the glaze 2 inches above the cake, pour the glaze evenly, using a spatula to cover the sides, if necessary.

Refrigerate 20 minutes or until the glaze is set. This cake is very rich. Cut it into small squares. Refrigerate leftovers.


cuneocover

Cuneo (Italian) or Coni (French) is a province in the southwest section of the Piedmont region of Italy. The province has an interesting history. Nicknamed the town of seven sieges, it still retains the organization plan of a military town. It was once surrounded by massive walls, had large squares and contained magnificent palaces for wealthy aristocrats.

Originating in the 12th century, it was first built as a fortified town. Its location, in a naturally strategic position protecting the roads to France through the Tenda and Maddalena passes, made it a natural choice to be used as a military location. The French eventually demolished the walls and you can tell where the old walls were, as they are now the main streets in the province. During World War II, Cuneo was one of the main sites in the country of partisan resistance against the German occupation of Italy.

Pedestrian crossing and big plaza at city center under cloudy sky at rainy day in Cuneo, Italy.

Pedestrian crossing and big plaza at city center in Cuneo, Italy.

Sections of this province were part of France until 1947. Cuneo borders the French region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur on the west, the province of Turin on the north, the province of Asti to the east and Liguria to the south. It is also known as the Provincia Granda (the big province) because it is the third largest province in Italy and the largest one in the Piedmont region. It is also the capital of the province. This has created problems in the past for inhabitants in the eastern sections of the province, who are frustrated by the long trip to Cuneo every time they have business with the provincial government. The issue of dividing the province into two has been brought up several times.

Chianale (Cuneo, Val Varaita, Piedmont, Italy), old typical mountain village in the Italian ALps at summer

Chianale (Cuneo, Val Varaita, Piedmont, Italy), an old mountain village in the Italian ALps at summer

The province’s beautiful landscapes offer great variety that include valleys, hills and wildlife reserves. Some 75% of the area is mountainous. The Maritime Alps Natural Park with its high-altitude lakes and the Rio Martino Cave with its spectacular waterfall are distinctive sites in the province. Italy’s first forestry commission was established by the local government of Cuneo.

The economy is primarily based on the agricultural produce of the area, especially the wine industry.  Engineering, paper products, metallurgy, rubber and cattle also play an integral role in its local financial system.

The Tour de France travels through here, as well.  The Italian leg of the Tour often goes from Digne-les-Bains in France to Prato Nevoso in Piedmont, followed by a rest day in Cuneo.  From there, bikers head on to Jausiers in France.

The majority of the region’s winemaking (about 90%) takes place in the southern part of the Piedmont region in Cuneo, Asti and Alessandria. The best-known wines from the area include Barolo and Barbaresco. They are made from the Nebbiolo grape. The Piedmont region is located in the foothills of the Alps forming its border with France and Switzerland. In addition to the vast mountainous terrain, the Po Valley consumes a large area of the region. The valley and the mountains contribute to the area’s noted fog cover which aides in the ripening of the Nebbiolo grape (which gets it name from the word nebbia meaning “fog”).

Although the winemaking regions of Piedmont and Bordeaux (France) are very close in latitude, only the summertime temperatures are similar: the Piedmont wine region has a colder, continental winter climate and significantly lower rainfall due to the rain shadow effect of the Alps. Vineyards are typically planted on hillsides with warmer south-facing slopes.

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One of the most commonly used meat in the local cuisine is veal. It is the main feature of festivals, such as the Fiera del Bue Grasso, which attracts thousands of visitors in December each year. The province of Cuneo also produces Italy’s only pork-free sausage. Pig farming, however, provides the ingredient for the famous Cuneo raw ham, which also has a well-known cooked variety.

Il Grande Fritto Misto” (the Great Mixed Fry), one of the most characteristic dishes of the Cuneo region, is made with veal and pork, to which vegetables, semolina and fruit are added. Provincial meat products also include: Morozzo capon, Sambuco lamb and Langa lamb; Piedmontese blond chicken and Saluzzo white chicken. Famous products include the Alba White Truffle, Castelmagno, Raschera, Bra and Murazzano, Toma Piemontese, Grana Padano and Gorgonzola Are cheeses, which are all produced in the province.

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The cultivation and processing of chestnuts, both brown and white varieties, is a heritage of the area’s mountain tradition. They are used in pastry making and as an ingredient in other dishes. Hazelnuts are grown in the hills and form the main ingredient of Torrone di Alba and the region’s very famous glacè chestnuts and hazelnut cakes. “Alba torrone” (nougat); “paste di meliga” (cornflour cookies), which are also known as “Batiaje” because they are often made for baptisms and “baci di Cherasco” (hazelnut chocolates) are well-known desserts.

If you have a sweet tooth, Cuneo can help satisfy your cravings. The town’s specialty is Cuneesi al rhum, chocolates with a rum-based filling. The most widely known brand is Arione, a favorite of Ernest Hemingway.

Risotto with Hazelnuts and Castelmagno Cheese

cuneorice

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 14 oz (400g) risotto rice  (carnaroli)
  • 3 ½ oz (100g) hazelnuts
  • 3 ⅛ oz (90g) Castelmagno cheese, diced
  • 1 ¾ oz (50g) butter
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 ¼ cups (1 liter) hot broth (vegetable or meat)
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Toast the hazelnuts in a 350 degree F oven for about ten minutes. Cool and rub the skins off with a kitchen towel. Set aside.

Heat the butter in a deep saucepan and cook the onion until tender.

Add the rice and rosemary. Toast the rice for a minute then add the white wine.

When the wine has evaporated completely add a ladle of hot broth and stir gently with a wooden spoon until the broth is absorbed.

Continue adding the broth until it is all absorbed. Halfway through cooking add half of Castelmagno cheese and half of the hazelnuts.

When the rice is cooked, add salt and pepper to taste and the remaining the remaining cheese.

Garnish the dish with the remaining hazelnuts and serve.

Meatballs Cuneo Style

cuneomeatballs

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine

Directions

In a bowl combine the veal, grated apple, egg and salt. With wet hands form small meatballs. Coat each one in flour and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan and brown the meatballs evenly, then add the wine. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Peperonata

cuneopeppers

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 cup chopped canned Italian tomatoes
  • 6 bell peppers (3 red and 3 yellow) seeded and cut into ½ inch size strips
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • Salt
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, jalapeno and bell peppers and cook briefly. Add the red wine and salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, another 10 to 15 minutes. Check frequently toward the end of the cooking time, so the peppers do not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the herbs and taste for salt and heat through, about 2 minutes. Serve warm as a side dish.

Bunet di Cuneo (Baked Chocolate Pudding)

cuneopudding

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup (250 g) sugar
  • 2/3 cup (50 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup (100 g) Amaretti cookie crumbs
  • 3 cups (750 ml) milk

Directions

Put the 1/3 cup sugar and water in a heavy skillet over a low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook until the mixture is a syrup and the color of honey.

Remove from the heat and pour the syrup into a 9 inch loaf pan. Swirl the liquid in the pan around to coat all the edges.

Beat together the eggs and 1 cup sugar.

Add the cocoa and Amaretti cookie crumbs. Stir well.

Add the milk, stirring gently but thoroughly.

Pour into the loaf pan and set in a larger baking pan with at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of boiling water.

Bake at 400° F (200° C) for 1 hour.

Cool to room temperature before chilling overnight.

To serve, slide a knife around the outer edges and invert onto a platter. Cut into thick slices to serve.

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Just because you’re trying to eat healthy doesn’t mean you can’t have dessert. You just have to choose carefully. High fat ingredients contain saturated fat and they can cause higher cholesterol levels in the body. Desserts and sweets don’t have the nutritional value that other foods do, but if you stick with healthier recipes and less-frequent, reasonable portions, desserts can fit into your healthy eating plan. Make fruit a part of your dessert menu as much as possible, whether it is the dessert itself or is part of a recipe. Although fruit is high in carbohydrates, it’s also filled with vitamins, minerals and fiber. If you crave something more, try adding fruit to sugar-free gelatin or mixing up a quick fruit salad. You will be amazed at how delicious these healthy dessert recipes taste.

dessert1

Almond Brown Rice Pudding

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup toasted, chopped slivered almonds

Directions

Place dates in a bowl and pour 1/2 cup boiling water over them. Let soak 15 minutes, then transfer dates and water to a blender and puree until smooth to make a date syrup.

Bring rice and almond milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rice is cooked and has absorbed most of the almond milk, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

Stir date syrup, raisins, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon and almonds into the cooked rice and serve warm or cold.

dessert2

Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped pitted dates (6 ounces whole dates)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine peanuts and oats in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse about 25 times to create a coarse meal. Add cocoa and salt and pulse a few more times to combine.

Put pumpkin purée and peanut butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until the peanut butter and pumpkin are incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, about 2 minutes.

Add vanilla and dates and mix until combined, about 1 minute. On low-speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture. Mix until completely combined, forming a dense dough.

Scoop up tablespoons of dough and roll them into balls. Arrange on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Press down on the balls with the back of a fork first in one direction and then in the other to form a checkerboard design on each cookie.

Bake until the cookies are firm and dried, about 12 minutes. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Place cooled cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature up to 4 days or refrigerate up to 1 week.

dessert3

Carrot-Almond Cake

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, divided, plus more for the pan
  • 3 cups grated carrots, divided
  • 1 3/4 cups almond flour, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil an 8 x 8-inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, make the crumb topping by combining 1 cup carrots, 1/4 cup almond flour, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon oil; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1 1/2 cups almond flour and the 1 cup all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a second large bowl, whisk together sour cream, vanilla, eggs, remaining 3/4 cup sugar and remaining oil. Add flour mixture to the large bowl and whisk again until incorporated; fold in the remaining 2 cups carrots.

Transfer to the prepared pan and scatter crumb topping over the top. Bake until the cake springs back in the middle when pressed, and is deep golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes.

Set aside to let cool until warm, then remove from the pan and transfer to a plate, discarding the parchment paper. Cut into squares or wedges and serve.

dessert4

Sweet Potato Apple Pie

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium)
  • 1 (9 to 9 1/2-inch) unbaked pie shell
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and place them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake about 1 hour or until very tender. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Line pastry shell with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake on the lower rack of the oven about 15 minutes or until just starting to set. Remove the weights and continue to bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

Meanwhile, peel sweet potatoes and transfer flesh to the bowl of a food processor. Discard skins. Process until potatoes are puréed. Transfer 1 1/4 cups purée to a large bowl. Add milk, sugar, flour, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and whisk until combined and smooth.

Layer apple slices in concentric circles in the bottom of the cooled crust. Pour sweet potato filling into the crust over the apples. Bake about 50 minutes or until just set in the center of the pie.

Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Serve or chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

dessert5

Pear Crumble

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup regular rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 medium pears, cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Frozen vanilla yogurt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl combine oats, flour, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix with a fork until combined. Add the butter and work it in with your fingers, a fork or a pastry blender until the mixture begins to form clumps.

In a large bowl toss the pears with the water, lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Transfer pear mixture to a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle the oat mixture evenly over the pears.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the topping is golden and the pears are tender. If desired, serve warm with frozen yogurt.

Tip
To make individual servings, prepare as above, except divide the pear mixture among six 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins. Sprinkle with oat mixture and bake about 35 minutes or until the pears are tender. Serve as above.


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Just because summer is over and the season for berries, peaches and melons has passed, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fruit desserts. Fall brings us apples, plums, pears, figs, grapes and pumpkins. No matter which fruit you pick up at the market, there are so many delicious desserts that you can make. A warm apple pie, a sweet plum tart or a delicious pear crisp are all terrific to enjoy on a cool fall night.

Apple Bars

fruitdesserts1

Makes 20 bars

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (3 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted or cinnamon chips
  • Whipped cream or frozen yogurt (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan; set aside.

In a very large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl combine eggs, oil, and vanilla. Stir in apples and nuts. Add egg mixture in the well in flour mixture, stirring just until moistened (batter will be thick). Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour to serve slightly warm, or cool completely. If desired, top each serving with whipped cream or frozen yogurt

Plum Galettes

fruitdesserts2

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons low-sugar orange marmalade
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 recipe Galette Pastry, recipe below
  • 4 medium plums, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons almonds or walnuts, chopped
  • Milk, for brushing the pastry
  • 4 teaspoons honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high-speed. Beat in egg yolk, orange marmalade and ginger.

Prepare pastry:

Divide the pastry dough into four portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough portion into a 7-inch circle. Spread each portion with one-fourth of the cream cheese mixture, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with plum slices and almonds. Fold border up over the filling, pleating pastry as necessary to fit.

Place galettes on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops and sides of the crust with milk.

Bake about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm. Cut each in half and drizzle with honey.

Galette Pastry

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

Directions

In a small saucepan heat and stir 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until light brown; set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl stir together all-purpose flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the 2 remaining tablespoons of butter and the browned butter until the mixture resembles crumbs.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cold water over part of the mixture; toss gently with a fork. Push moistened dough to the side of bowl. Repeat moistening flour mixture, using 1 tablespoon cold water at a time, until all of the flour mixture is moistened (2 to 3 tablespoons total). Form dough into a ball.

Pumpkin  Cream Cheese Cupcakes

fruitdesserts3

24 cupcakes

Ingredients

Cake Batter

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree, not pie mix
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 1 package (8 oz.) light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place paper liners in 24 muffin cups.

For the filling:

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

Add the egg and beat on low just until combined.

For the cupcakes:

In a large bowl, beat the pumpkin, sugar, oil and the 4 eggs until well blended.

In small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Gradually beat into the pumpkin mixture until blended.

Fill the muffin cups one-third full with batter.

Drop a tablespoonful of filling into the center of each cupcake and then cover with the remaining batter.

Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the pumpkin portion comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Store cupcakes in the refrigerator.

Pear Crisp

fruitdesserts4

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 cups thinly sliced pears
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Topping

  • 1/2 cup regular rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 2-quart square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Mix the sliced fruit with the granulated sugar and place in the prepared baking dish.

For the topping:

In a medium bowl stir together the oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts.

Sprinkle topping evenly over the fruit.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden. If desired, serve warm with frozen yogurt.

Grape Cake with Wine Sauce

fruitdessert5

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup fine grind, yellow cornmeal, plus extra for dusting the pan
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 cups red and green seedless grapes

Wine Sauce

  • 4 cups fruity white wine, such as Riesling

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9-inch round baking pan with cooking spray and dust with the extra cornmeal. Shake the pan to evenly coat all sides and the bottom and tap out the excess.

Stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Place eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Turn mixer to low-speed and slowly add in the olive oil.

Beat in the milk, vanilla extract and orange zest until well incorporated, about 1 minute.

Slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the wet mixture, a half cup at a time, while mixing on low-speed until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Using a spatula, transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Disperse the grapes evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean and the cake is golden brown.

Remove the pan from oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 5–10 minutes. Turn pan over and remove the cake. Let the cake cool completely, grape side up, on the wire rack.

Place the wine in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and allow the wine to simmer until it has reduced by half, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and keep warm until ready to serve.

To serve, slice the cake and drizzle the wine reduction over the cake.


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Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (durum, emmer, spelt, farina, farro, kamut, khorasan and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods. Cutting out gluten from your diet may seem like a difficult and limiting task. Fortunately, there are many healthy and delicious foods that are naturally gluten-free, such as

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and seafood
  • Dairy
  • Beans, legumes, and nuts

There are also many naturally gluten-free grains that you can enjoy in a variety of creative ways. Gluten free flours are made from the grains below. Nut flours are ideal for making desserts. Many of these grains can be found in your local grocery store.

  • rice
  • cassava
  • corn
  • soy
  • potato
  • tapioca
  • beans
  • sorghum
  • quinoa
  • millet
  • buckwheat groats (also known as kasha)
  • arrowroot
  • amaranth
  • teff
  • flax
  • yucca
  • gluten-free oats
  • nut flours

A gluten-free diet is primarily used to treat celiac disease. I have friends who have celiac disease, so I have acquired several recipes I can make when they come over for a visit.

glutenfree4

Carrot, Orange and Ginger Soup

Serve with gluten-free rolls and a salad.

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch dried red pepper (chili) flakes
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 orange (juice and zest)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions

Place a soup pot over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Add olive oil, red pepper flakes, onion and ginger and quickly sauté for 2 or 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

Add carrots, potatoes, broth, water, thyme and cardamom. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook until the carrots and potatoes are soft, 12–15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and purée the soup with a hand immersion blender until smooth.

Add orange juice, zest, salt and pepper to taste. Return the pan to the stove-top and heat through.

glutenfree2

Spaghetti with Artichokes, Olives, Tomatoes and Capers

Serve with sautéed zucchini.

3 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces brown rice spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups artichoke hearts in water, drained and quartered (about 1 ½ cans)
  • 1/2 cup pitted olives, drained and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, stirring to prevent sticking. Cook al dente, 12–15 minutes.

While spaghetti cooks, place olive oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Saute until the garlic just begins to color, about 2 minutes. Add artichoke hearts, olives, capers, tomatoes and pepper, stirring to warm through. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Grate zest from the lemon and combine with the parsley, along with 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

When the spaghetti is done, drain and transfer to a warm serving dish.

Stir zest-parsley mixture into the hot artichoke mixture and pour over spaghetti. Toss thoroughly and serve at once, topped with freshly grated Pecorino Romano.

glutenfree1

Paprika and Garlic Roasted Chicken

Roast chunks of butternut squash or fingerling potatoes in place of the sweet potatoes alongside the chicken, if you wish. Add a green salad tossed with an Italian vinaigrette.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) roasting chicken
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch wedges

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Place chicken on a rack in a 9 x 13-inch roasting pan. Quarter the apple and onion and place the chunks in the chicken cavity.

Stir oil, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and garlic in a small bowl to form a paste. Rub paste all over the chicken and under the skin.

Roast chicken for 30 minutes. Add carrots and sweet potatoes and roast for 60 minutes or until juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a knife.

Transfer to a serving platter and let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.

glutenfree5

Gluten-Free Meatloaf

Serve with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • Non-stick olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup rice crackers, crumbled
  • 1 yellow onion, 1/2 chopped and 1/2 thinly sliced
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 egg , lightly beaten
  • One 8 ounce can tomato sauce, divided
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free yellow or Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a 9-inch loaf pan with cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine beef, cracker crumbs, chopped onion, carrots, egg, 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine remaining tomato sauce with the brown sugar. Pour over meatloaf and scatter sliced onion over the top.

Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake until cooked through and deep golden brown, about 1 hour. Set aside to let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

glutenfree3glutenfree9

Spiced Beef or Fish Steaks

Serve with oven roasted asparagus and rice pilaf. This recipe also works well with fish steaks, just substitute equal weight fish steaks, such as halibut, cod or swordfish, for the beef. Use the same procedures and seasonings as directed below.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless beef tenderloin, sirloin or rib steaks, cut 1 inch thick
  • White rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper (chili) flakes
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Directions

Dust steak with the rice flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add steaks; brown on both sides until cooked, 3–4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and keep warm.

Add ginger to the skillet; cook 30 seconds, scraping up brown bits. Add brown sugar, red pepper flakes and orange juice; stir to blend.

Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Return steak and juices to the pan.

Simmer until warmed through and sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme and serve.

Desserts

glutenfree6

Pecan Custard Pie

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 cups pecan halves, divided
  • 1 tablespoon high heat oil (safflower, grapeseed or coconut oil)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups cooked, mashed butternut squash or pureed pumpkin
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a deep 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a food processor, coarsely grind 1 1/2 cups of the pecans until pea-sized. Add oil and 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup. Pulse just until well combined then transfer pecan mixture to the prepared pie pan and press into the bottom of the pan; set aside.

In the food processor, purée squash with eggs, soy milk, remaining 1/2 cup maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour filling over the pecan crust in the pie pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely chop remaining pecans. Sprinkle pecans along the outer edges of the pie and return to the oven for another 30 minutes, or until the filling is set and firm. Cool pie on a rack then transfer to the refrigerator to chill before serving.

For best results, chill the pie until very cold before cutting. Serve with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, if you like.

glutenfree7

Italian Cornmeal Cake

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter , softened, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup full fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup ground almonds or almond meal/flour
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Sweetened mascarpone cheese and fruit for toppings

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch spring-form baking pan.

In a large bowl, beat butter until light and creamy. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Mix in ricotta, almonds, vanilla, orange juice and zest. Mix cornmeal with baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and fold into the batter.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until set and firm. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool. Cut into wedges and serve with a tablespoon of mascarpone cheese and seasonal fruit.

glutenfree8


fallfruitcover

Apples
Look for apples that are firm, brightly colored and free of bruises. The skin should be clean and shiny; a dull finish indicates the fruit may be past its prime. Refrigerate apples up to two weeks. At room temperature, they ripen too quickly and become mealy. Apples are also good baked in pies, roasted or sautéed to accompany meat dishes.

Grapes
Look for grapes that are plump, unblemished and firmly attached to a flexible stem. Ripe white and green grapes should have a yellowish cast; red and purple ones should have no green. Refrigerate grapes in a ventilated plastic bag up to one week.

Pears
Pears ripen off the tree, so most of the fruit you’ll find at the market will need a few days to soften at home. Common varieties include: Anjou, which is egg-shaped with a green, rose-tinged green, or red skin; Bosc, which has a slender neck and a brown skin (Boscs are flavorful even before fully ripe so they are good for cooking); and Bartlett, which has a red skin or a green skin that yellows as it ripens. Let pears ripen at room temperature. When they’re ready to eat, the flesh on the neck of the fruit will give a little when pressed. Refrigerate ripe pears for up to five days. Cooking can really bring out their flavor, so try them baked or poached.

Pomegranates
This slightly sour fruit has gotten a lot of press as an antioxidant powerhouse. The juice provides a tangy base for marinades and the seeds can be mixed into salads to give them flavor.

Dates
This Middle Eastern favorite is a sweet fruit that is perfect braised in stews, chopped up in desserts, stuffed with cream cheese or almonds or baked into quick breads.

Kiwi
Use this sweet fruit to add a tropical flavor to your recipes. It’s great mixed with other fruits for a fruit salad or combined with pineapple to make a tangy chutney.

fallfruit1

 

Apple-Date Cake

12 servings

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup fat-free milk
  • 2/3 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped peeled apple
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a small saucepan combine milk, dates and salt; heat until steaming but do not boil. Remove from the heat. Stir in apple and vanilla; cool to room temperature.

Whisk in egg and oil and stir until combined. Set aside.

For the topping:

In a small bowl stir together pecans, brown sugar, butter, the 1 teaspoon flour and the cinnamon; set aside.

For the cake:

In a medium bowl whisk together the 1-1/2 cups flour, the baking powder and baking soda. Add milk mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined. Spoon batter into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle evenly with the pecan topping mixture.

Bake about 25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

fallfruit3

Italian Grape Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (135 g) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces; 60 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (200 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 10 ounces (300 g) small, fresh, seedless purple grapes
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F

Generously butter and flour a 9 inch springform pan, tapping out any excess flour. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes. Add the butter, oil, milk and vanilla extract and mix until blended.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and orange zest, and toss to coat the zest with the flour.

Spoon the mixture into the bowl of batter and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix once more. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquids.

Stir about 3/4 of the grapes into the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.

Place the pan in the center of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining grapes. Bake until the top is a deep golden brown and the cake feels quite firm when pressed with a fingertip, about 40 minutes more, for a total baking time of 55 minutes.

Remove to a rack to cool. After 10 minutes, run a knife along the sides of the pan. Release and remove the side of the springform pan, leaving the cake on the pan base.

Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Serve at room temperature. Cut the cake into thin wedges.

fallfruit2

Pear Quick Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups finely chopped fresh pears (not too ripe – more hard than soft)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Mix together molasses, honey, egg white, buttermilk and oil in a small bowl or glass measuring cup.

Mix flour, bran, sugar, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl and add the wet mixture all at once.

Stir in the chopped pears and walnuts.

Pour into a 9 x 5-inch lightly greased baking pan.

Bake at 350°F for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the bread tests done (cake tester inserted in middle of loaf comes out clean). Makes 1 large loaf.

fallfruit4

Pomegranate-Ginger Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar, plus extra for the topping
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 1/4 cups pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter or margarine, melted and cooled

Directions

In a bowl, mix flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in crystallized ginger, lemon peel and pomegranate seeds. Make a well in the center.

In a measuring cup, blend milk, egg and melted butter. Pour mixture all at once into the well in the bowl with the flour mixture. Stir just until batter is moistened; it will be lumpy.

Spoon batter into 12 (2 1/2-in.-wide) or 24 (1 3/4-in.-wide) buttered mini muffin cups, filling each almost to the rim. Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with granulated sugar.

Bake in a 425°F oven until lightly browned, about 16 minutes for the large muffin pan or 13 minutes for the small muffin pan. Remove muffins from the pan immediately and cool on a wire rack.

fallfruit5

Kiwi Ricotta Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup (about 3 oz.) gingersnap cookie crumbs or biscotti crumbs
  • 1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger, divided
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 15 oz. (1 2/3 cups) ricotta cheese
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 kiwi fruit (about 1/4 lb. each)

Directions

Combine crumbs, 1/4 cup crystallized ginger and melted butter. Pat crumb mixture evenly the over bottom of a removable-rim 8-inch cheesecake pan.

Bake in a 350°F oven until the crust is lightly brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

In a blender or food processor, process ricotta cheese, egg whites and lemon juice until very smooth.

In a mixing bowl, stir together yogurt, sugar, lemon peel and vanilla. Add ricotta mixture and stir until well blended (the mixture is thin). Pour into the (hot or cool) crust.

Bake in a 350°F oven until the center barely jiggles when cake is gently shaken, 50 to 55 minutes. Run a thin-bladed knife between cake and pan rim.

Refrigerate cake, uncovered, until cool, at least 2 1/2 hours. (If making ahead, wrap airtight when cool and chill up to 2 days.)

Remove pan rim. Peel kiwi fruit and slice crosswise. Arrange fruit in a ring in overlapping slices on top of the cake and sprinkle with remaining ginger. Cut cake into wedges.



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