Grilled Beef Fajitas
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 boneless ribeye steaks, about 12-14 oz each
2 red sweet bell peppers, cut in half and seeded
1 whole red onion, peeled and sliced into three circles
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup prepared salsa, warmed
Fresh lime juice
1/2 cup sour cream
Guacamole and lime quarters, to serve on the side
Make the marinade:
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the garlic, salt, 2 tablespoons lime juice, jalapeno, cumin and olive oil.
Remove as much fat as possible from the steaks.
Add the steaks to the bag, seal and toss to coat well. Marinate and refrigerate early in the day.
Preheat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates. Remove the steaks from marinade; discard marinade.
Grill the steaks over medium-high heat 3 minutes per side for medium-rare; set aside on a plate and cover with foil.
Lower one side of the grill to medium-low. Spray the vegetables with olive oil cooking spray and cook bell peppers halves and onion slices about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables softened and have a few grill marks..
Wrap tortillas in foil; place on the back of the grill or the bun warmer to heat about 5 minutes before serving
Slice the steaks thinly across the grain. Slice the vegetables. Place in a serving bowl and mix with the warmed salsa. Add cilantro and mix well.
To assemble fajitas:
Spread tortillas with the steak and vegetable mixture, top with a little sour cream and serve with lime quarters and guacamole on the side.
The beans taste better if made the day before serving.
To cook the beans
! ½ cups orca beans (white and black colorings), washed
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
To finish the bean dish
½ cup finely diced onion
½ cup finely diced celery
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon chili powder
Place the beans in a medium-sized saucepan and cover with cold water by two inches high. Cover and soak overnight.
The next day, add the onion, garlic and salt to the soaking liquid and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 60 minutes or until tender.
Chill the beans overnight in the refrigerator in their cooking liquid.
The next day, drain the beans. Stir in the cilantro and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic and chili powder. Saute until tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the beans and heat. Serve as a side dish.
1/2 of a whole cabbage (8 oz), sliced thin
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
In a large bowl combine the onion, sugar, salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, whipping cream, vinegar and lemon juice, using a whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
Add the thinly sliced cabbage, stir gently to mix.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Mediterranean Swordfish Kabobs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon lemon peel
½ teaspoon dried granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 1/2 lbs swordfish fillets, cut into one inch cubes
1 zucchini, cut into one inch circles
1 red bell pepper, cut into one inch squares
Zest the lemon and then juice it, reserving 2 tablespoons juice.
Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, lemon zest, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper in a resealable plastic bag or a glass dish.
Add swordfish cubes, zucchini and bell pepper; toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
Prepare an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.
Thread the swordfish, zucchini and bell pepper on skewers, alternating them, with a little space between each piece. Brush the skewers with any remaining marinade.
Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes per side or until cooked to your taste. Slide the kabobs off the skewers onto a serving plate to serve.
Easy Cucumber Salad
3 cucumbers, peeled
1/2 red onion, finely diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the cucumbers into ½ inch thick circles and arrange in a serving dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the chopped red onion over the cucumbers. Drizzle your favorite ranch dressing over the cucumbers and onion.
Can be refrigerated for a short time or serve immediately.
Sometimes you don’t want to spend several hours in the kitchen fixing dinner but you want something really good. This dinner fits that description – quick to make and great taste all together.
Swordfish In Pesto Cream
1 swordfish fillet, about 12 oz
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup rice cooked according to package directions
Season both sides of the swordfish with salt and black pepper. Cut the fish into two equal pieces.
In a medium skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the fish and cook 5 minutes per side, until golden brown.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, pesto and lemon zest. Add mixture to the pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
Transfer the cooked rice to a serving platter. Top the rice with the fish and spoon the sauce over the top.
Green Beans With Tomato
½ pound fresh green beans, trimmed
¼ cup water
1 small shallot, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 fresh plum tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until the shallot softens slightly, about 5 minutes.
Add the green beans, tomatoes, oregano and water. Cook until the beans are crisp-tender, stirring and tossing occasionally, about 10 minutes.
This month the market offers lots of festive ingredients in anticipation of the coming holidays. I find it is a great time to perk up your winter dishes with lots of fruit flavors. This week I picked up fennel and apples to enhance some pork cutlets and oranges to give swordfish a new look. Carrots make a great side dish and there are so many recipes you can make with hearty greens. Cranberries add a beautiful red color to breakfast cake that could easily be served on Christmas morning. Check the list above and try something new this week.
Swordfish with Smoked Paprika and Orange Sauce
Swordfish is a cornerstone food throughout the Mediterranean and swordfish is not endangered anywhere around the United States. The various fish watchdog organizations all give consumers the green light to eat as much swordfish as they want, provided it was caught in North American or Hawaiian waters. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch gives American swordfish either a “best choice” or “good alternative” rating, depending on how it’s caught.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound swordfish or tuna fillets
¼ cup flour
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
Cut the swordfish into 2 inch cubes. Salt the fish well and dust the cubes in flour. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold all the swordfish chunks in one layer. Sear them well on at least two sides. Give the first side 1-2 minutes, then sear other sides for 30 seconds to 1 minute each.
When the swordfish is cooked, remove it to a bowl and reserve. Add the garlic slices and sauté 30 seconds or so — the second it begins to brown, add the orange juice, zest, parsley, nuts and paprika. Toss to combine and cook 1 minute, then add the swordfish back to the pan, toss to combine and cook another 30 seconds or so. Serve at once.
Crispy Pork Cutlets with Fennel Apple Sauce
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Four boneless pork cutlets, pounded to 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced
Lemon wedges, for serving
In a shallow dish, mix the flour with salt and pepper. In another shallow dish, beat the egg. In a third shallow dish, spread the panko and season with additional salt and pepper. Dredge the pork in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip the pork in the egg, then dredge in the panko to coat. Place the cutlets on a large plate.
In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the pork cutlets and cook over moderately high heat until golden, 2 minutes. Turn the cutlets over, and cook until just golden on the outside and white throughout, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the cutlets to a paper towel-lined plate.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and butter to the skillet. Add the fennel and onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until light golden and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and apple slices and season with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Place the cutlets back in the pan and let them heat in the fennel mixture for a few minutes. Place the cutlets on a serving platter and top with the fennel mixture. Serve with lemon wedges.
3 medium carrots, peeled
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
Cut the carrots diagonally into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place the carrots, 2 tablespoons water, the salt and pepper in a medium skillet and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes. Add the butter and marjoram and saute for another minute, until the water evaporates and the carrots are coated with butter.
Cranberry Orange Breakfast Cake
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the dusting the pan
1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh or defrosted frozen cranberries
1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup softened unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Combine the walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter in a mixing bowl. Using your hands form the mixture into crumbs.,
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the cranberries and orange zest and mix.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium mixing bowl, mix the ½ cup butter on low-speed with the stand mixer’s paddle attachment or on medium-low speed with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and continue mixing on low until slightly fluffy. Scrape the bowl and beater. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until smooth after each addition.
Stop the mixer, scrape the bowl and beater, and add half the flour mixture. On low-speed (for either mixer), mix until the flour drifts disappear and then add half the buttermilk; mix until just blended. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until smooth.
Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the crumb mixture. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Cake can be served warm. Dust with powdered sugar for a pretty presentation.
Spinach and Cheese Pie
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons dried dill
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 lb. frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Melted butter or butter cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 2 quart baking dish.
Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
Stir in lemon zest, dill and feta cheese into spinach mixture. Combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and egg in a small bowl. Stir until well blended. Add to the spinach mixture. Add salt, pepper and stir well.
Working quickly so that phyllo doesn’t dry out, line the baking pan with 10 sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter after you place it in the pan. Fan the sheets out towards the edge of the pan, making sure the bottom is covered. Allow excess to hang over the sides. Spoon filling into pan. Drape remaining layers of phyllo over filling, one at a time, brushing each with butter. Brush top with butter, then neatly fold overhanging phyllo over the top, and brush with remaining butter. Bake until golden, about 1 hour. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Tonight’s dinner is swordfish on the grill. I live in an area where grilling is an option all year round and many readers who live in the north can still grill through most of the fall. If an outdoor grill is not an option, certainly an indoor one would work well for swordfish. Meaty type fish, like swordfish and tuna, take well to grilling.
The recipe I use for swordfish is an old Italian style recipe for cooking fish over a fire and lots of flavor is added by marinating and topping the grilled fish with a fresh tasting sauce. I like to make the cooking easy by placing the fish on a sheet of heavy-duty foil. This prevents the fish from falling apart and protects the topping I like to add.
Grilled Swordfish with Lemon Sauce
For 2 servings (recipe is easily doubled and tripled)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Swordfish Steak, at Least 1/2 inch thick and about 10 oz
- 1 large clove garlic, sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup Panko crumbs
- ¼ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- Lemon Sauce, recipe below
Place swordfish in a glass dish, scatter garlic over the fish and pour the olive oil over all. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
When ready to grill:
Remove the garlic from the fish.
Place a sheet of heavy foil on a baking sheet and poke a few holes in the foil.
Combine the panko crumbs and Italian seasoning.
Place the swordfish on the foil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Press half the panko crumbs onto the fish. Turn the fish over and press on the remaining panko.
Heat an outdoor grill to high. Slide the foil with the fish still on it onto the grill grates. Lower heat to medium.
Cook about 8-10 minutes until the crumbs begin to brown the and the fish is cooked through. Do not turn fish. Remove the fish to a serving plate and pour the lemon sauce over fish.
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
Whisk thoroughly. If made ahead, warm in the microwave when ready to serve.
Roasted Potato Wedges
- 2 large baking potatoes, unpeeled
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Scrub the potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise, then cut each half in thirds lengthwise. You’ll have 6 long wedges from each potato.
Place the potatoes in a baking pan with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and oregano. With clean hands, toss all the ingredients together, making sure the potatoes are covered with oil.
Spread the potatoes in a single layer with 1 cut-side down.
Bake the potatoes for 30 to 35 minutes, turning to the other cut side after 20 minutes. Bake until they are lightly browned, crisp outside, and tender inside. Sprinkle with salt and serve.
Romano Green Beans Sautéed with Tomato
During the summer, when these Italian beans are plentiful, I froze several pounds to use later in the year.
- 1 ½ cups Romano beans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Half a large fresh tomato, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Rinse the beans under cold running water. Drain, leaving any water clinging to the beans. Trim the ends and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.
Once the oil is hot, add the beans, garlic, shallots, oregano leaves, salt and pepper to taste.
Sauté over medium heat, stirring frequently until the beans are tender but retain some crispness, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat and let the beans cool slightly. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and tomato. Allow the dish to cool to room temperature.
The province and metropolitan city of Messina are located in the northeast corner of Sicily on the Strait of Messina and sits on two different seas. It is also the 3rd largest city on the island of Sicily and the 13th largest city in Italy. Messina was originally founded by Greek colonists in the 8th century BC. In 1908, a devastating earthquake hit Messina, along with a tsunami, which destroyed much of the historical architecture of the city. One of the major landmarks lost to the earthquake was the 12th century Cathedral of the City, which was rebuilt in 1919. The city was also victim to significant damage from bombing raids during the Second World War.
Among the top attractions of Messina are the Cathedral of Messina, the Orologio Astronomico (the Bell Tower with an Astronomical Clock) and the Annunziata dei Catalani Church. The cathedral has largely been rebuilt following the earthquake damage and the bomb damage but some of the original building still remains, including a 15th century Gothic doorway and some 14th century mosaics. The attractive Bell Tower is home to one of the world’s largest astronomical clocks and its motorized figures emerge every day at noon to depict scenes of local history. Also, in the Piazza Duomo is the 16th century Fontaine de Orione.
The province’s main resources are its seaports (commercial and military shipyards), cruise tourism, commerce and agriculture (wine production and cultivating lemons, oranges, mandarin oranges and olives).
Just off the coast are the Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and they are a popular tourist destination in the summer, attracting up to 200,000 visitors annually. There are beaches and coves with black sand, pumice stone and tiny pebbles, steaming craters, bubbling mud baths, sulfur springs, strange-shaped grottoes, crystal-clear turquoise waters, craggy cliffs, and archaeological sites on the coastline and the adjacent islands.
Fish: fried, baked or grilled, is the province’s most popular food. The preparation can vary, but what matters most is its freshness. Swordfish from the Messina Strait is cooked in multiple ways. Crustaceans and mussels make a popular soup and are often used as a topping for rice and spaghetti.
Vegetables and fruits are important components of Messinese cooking. Caponata, eggplant with cheese and potato fries are three of the best known local vegetable dishes.
Dairy products include canestrato cheese in sweet or spicy versions, sheep pecorino cheese and provola cheese, all made according to ancient traditions.
Olive oil, honey, hazelnuts and pistachios are all part of the cuisine.
Local pastries are well-known classics: cannoli, cassate, almond paste, martorana fruit and pignolata.
The D.O.C. wines of Etna, the Malvasia di Lipari and citrus liqueurs are all produced here.
Sciusceddu ( Meatball and Egg Soup)
“Sciusceddu” is a dish that comes from the city of Messina in Sicily, where it is traditionally served at Easter. There are two theories for where the name “sciusceddu” comes from. One suggests that it derives from the Latin word “juscelleum,” meaning soup, and the other is from the Sicilian verb “sciusciare,” meaning to blow.
4 cups meat broth
7 oz veal or beef meat, chopped
2 oz breadcrumbs
3 ½ oz caciocavallo cheese, grated
3 eggs, divided
3 ½ oz ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper
Combine the minced meat, one egg, breadcrumbs, half of the grated Caciocavallo cheese (or Parmesan), chopped parsley and a little water; then form meatballs about the size of a small egg.
In another bowl, beat the remaining 2 eggs with the ricotta cheese, the remaining Caciocavallo cheese and a dash of salt and pepper.
Bring the broth to the boil in a saucepan and drop the meatballs into the broth.
Cook for about twenty minutes, then add the egg/ricotta mixture, stirring vigorously for a few moments. Remove from the heat and serve the “sciusceddu” piping hot.
Pesce Spada alla Messinese (Swordfish Messina style)
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 lb (600 gr) swordfish cut into palm-sized pieces slices
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
20 capers (if salted, rinse well first)
10 black olives, chopped
4 anchovy fillets
1 cup white wine
2 cups tomato passata (sauce)
15 oz can chopped tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
A pinch of crushed dried chili pepper
Brush the swordfish slices with olive oil and set aside.
In a skillet heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the spring onions, garlic, capers, olives, chili pepper and anchovy fillets and cook until the anchovies melt into the oil and the onion is soft.
Put the slices of swordfish in the skillet and add the white wine. Burn off the alcohol and then add the tomatoes. Mix well, cover and cook for 30 minutes on very low heat.
When ready to serve, sprinkle with parsley.
Pidoni, a popular dish from Messina. are pieces of pizza-like dough, stuffed with curly endive, mozzarella and anchovy, similar to a calzone but fried.
For the dough:
400 gr (3 cups) Italian 00 or pastry flour
200 gr ( 2 cups) bread flour
300 ml (1 and 1/3 cups) water
2 gr ( 1/2 teaspoon) active dry yeast
40 gr (6 tablespoons) olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
For the filling:
500 gr (1 lb, about 2 bunches) curly endive which is also named chicory or frisee
600 gr /18 oz diced, canned tomato
400 gr (14 oz) fresh mozzarella
6-8 anchovy fillets
Salt and black pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Twenty-four hours before you need it, make the dough. Mix the dough ingredients, oil the dough, cover it and let it rise in a draft-free area.
About half way through the proofing time, knead the dough briefly and cover again.
Make the filling.
Wash the curly endive thoroughly and chop it finely or pulse it in a food processor. Mix the chopped salad with the tomatoes, salt lightly and transfer in a colander for at least one hour.
It’s important to remove as much liquid as possible from the vegetable mixture, so squeeze it in a cotton towel if necessary.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add one tablespoon olive oil and season the filling with a sprinkle of black pepper.
Divide the risen dough into 16 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball. Place each ball on a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a thin disk of about 20 cm ( 8 inches) in diameter.
Divide the filling among the 16 disks leaving a 2.5cm ( 1 inch) margin around the edge.
Place 1 slice of mozzarella and 1/2 anchovy fillet broken in 2-3 pieces over the filling and fold the disk of dough to form a small calzone.
Preheat the oil in a deep saucepan, until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden in about 25 seconds.
Seal the edges of the pidoni with a fork, drop them carefully into the hot oil and fry for 3-4 minutes per batch until golden.
Drain on kitchen towssl and set aside. Continue until all are finished. Serves 6-8
4 cups whole milk, divided
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup Pistachio Cream, recipe below
In a small bowl combine 1 cup milk, cornstarch, and sugar. Using a wire whisk, combine the ingredients to form a slurry so that all the cornstarch is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
In a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 3 cups milk and the vanilla extract.
Stirring occasionally, heat the mixture to almost a boil; stir in the cornstarch mixture and let simmer from 5 to 12 minutes to thicken, stirring constantly.
Another important tip is to stir slowly, (do not whisk) which will prevent too much air from being incorporated into the custard that will produce ice crystals.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, preferably overnight.
Prior to using the custard mixture, pour the chilled custard through a strainer into a mixing bowl to clear out any clumps that may have formed. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Whisk the prepared chilled Pistachio Cream into the strained and chilled custard. The gelato mixture is now ready for the freezing process.
Transfer the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
With Gelato, it is best to not process it until it is hard. Instead, stop the ice cream maker at soft serve consistency, then put it in a container in your freezer until stiff for a delicate flavor and texture that differentiates it from ice cream.
When the gelato is done, either serve (best if eaten and enjoyed immediately, as gelato has a shorter storage life than ice cream) or transfer to freezer containers and freeze until firmer.
Makes approximately 1 quart of pistachio gelato.
1 cup hot water
8 ounces raw unsalted shelled and hulled pistachio nuts
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 teaspoons olive oil
In a medium-size saucepan, bring water to a boil.
Place the pistachio nuts, sugar and olive oil in a food processor. Blend/process, adding the hot water (1 tablespoon at a time to control the consistency of the cream) until the pistachios are a smooth, creamy consistency that spreads freely in the blender (It usually takes about 9 tablespoons of hot water).
NOTE: Stop the processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during this process. When done, cover and refrigerate until ready to use in making the gelato.
Makes approximately 1 cup.
Grilled Lamb Chops
For the steak seasoning, I like Pensey’s Chicago Seasoning, but use whatever seasoning you like.
- 4 loin lamb chops, 1 ½ lbs and 1 ½ inches thick, fat trimmed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon steak seasoning
- 2 lemon quarters
In a zip-lock bag combine the lamb chops, oil, lemon juice and steak seasoning. Close the bag and mix well. Refrigerate the lamb chops overnight.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat and oil the grill rack. Remove the lamb from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
Transfer the lamb chops to the grill. Cook 5 minutes,; turn and cook 5 minutes. Remove to a plate, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the lemon quarters.
If making the potatoes on the grill leave continue to cook them while the lamb chops rest.
- 2 Yukon Gold Potatoes, quartered
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
Boil the potatoes in water for 6 minutes, until slightly cooked but firm in the center. Drain potatoes in a colander. Dry on paper towel.
Place the olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add the potatoes and mix well.
Place a piece of heavy-duty foil on the opposite side of the grill from the lamb chops. Spread the potatoes in a single layer on the foil. Cook for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking..
Cucumber Tomato Salad
- 1 cucumber, peeled if bitter, sliced thin
- ¼ cup chopped red onion
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 medium tomato, halved and sliced
- Ranch Dressing, recipe below
Place the cucumber slices in a bowl and sprinkle with the kosher salt. Toss to distribute the salt evenly around the cucumber. Let sit for 20 to 25 minutes while the salt helps pull excess moisture out of the cucumbers. Then rinse off the salt, drain the cucumbers and dry them with paper towels
Combine the cucumbers, tomatoes and red onion. Refrigerate until serving time. When ready to serve, dress the salad with some of the ranch dressing.
Homemade Ranch Dressing
- 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 small clove garlic, grated
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
- Pinch of onion powder
- Pinch of paprika
- Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Combine the buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic, chopped herbs, onion powder, paprika, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Mix until well combined then cover and place into a refrigerator for at least 30 before serving so the flavors have time to mingle.
Swordfish and Zucchini Kebabs
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil olive oil
- 1 Swordfish Steak, 1 inch thick (about 12 oz)
- 1 large clove garlic, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Black pepper
- 1 medium zucchini, trimmed
- 10 squares of red onion
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 skewers
Place swordfish in a glass dish, sprinkle with lemon zest and black pepper, scatter garlic over the fish and pour olive oil over all. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 1 inch pieces. I had 10. Remove 2 red onion rings from a large onion. Cut each ring into 5 – one inch pieces.
Remove the garlic from the fish and cut the fish into 10 – one inch pieces.
Tread 2 skewers, alternating fish, zucchini and onion. Pour the dripping from the fish marinade over the skewers.
Heat an outdoor grill to high and oil the grill grates. Place the skewers on the grill and close the cover. Lower the heat to medium. Cook about 12 minutes until the fish is cooked through, turning the skewers halfway through the cooking time. Serve the kebabs over spaghetti.
A New Way To Cook Pasta
Angel Hair Pasta
I have read several articles about cooking pasta in a skillet with less water. I made a full pound of spaghetti for this recipe to test this non-traditional procedure for cooking pasta. The leftovers will not be wasted. It worked very well. The pasta cooked quickly and was perfectly cooked. You do have to stir it often to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. It is definitely an energy and time saver, without loss of flavor.
- 16 oz thin spaghetti
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 6 cups cold water
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (1 oz)
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Place pasta in a dry 12 inch skillet (if pasta is very long, such as spaghetti, break the stands in half). Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 6 cups cold water.
Place over high heat and cook uncovered, stirring frequently to keep pasta submerged, until pasta is almost al dente, about 7-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pasta.
Tilt the pan and spoon off the liquid that pools at the edge of the pan into a bowl, so that very little is left in pan. Add remaining ingredients to the pasta.
Return just enough cooking liquid to the pasta, tossing them with the spaghetti. Serve with the swordfish kebabs.
Homemade Marinara Sauce
Use this sauce for the meatballs and eggplant recipes.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (28-ounce) containers Italian Crushed Tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 large basil leaves
In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in olive oil, until soft over medium to low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute; be careful not to overcook.
Add tomatoes, oregano and crushed red pepper to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and cover with a lid.
Cook for 25 minutes on medium heat. Stir in parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and mix in the fresh basil.
Makes about 7 cups of sauce.
I call these Neapolitan meatballs because this is how my grandmother made them. She grew up in northern Campania before moving to America.
Makes 16 meatballs
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 4 thick slices firm, hardy white bread, crust removed, cut into cubes
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Add the bread to a medium mixing bowl and pour in the milk. Add the onion and garlic, stir and let sit for about 10 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients to the bread mixture. Gently combine all the ingredients with your hands until just mixed together. Don’t overwork the mixture or the meatballs will be tough.
Divide the mixture into 16 equal pieces and shape them into meatballs.
You can brown the meatballs in a skillet in olive oil until brown. Or, you can put them on a foil lined baking pan and bake in a 350 F oven for about 25-30 minutes until brown.
Place the meatballs in a medium-large sauce pan or skillet and cover with some the homemade marinara sauce. Simmer for about 30 minutes before serving.
This is not a dish that can be prepared quickly, but with some of my make ahead tips, you can enjoy this entrée for dinner and have several leftovers for future use without spending all day in the kitchen. Eggplant freezes very well in all stages of its preparation. Additionally, I do not fry the eggplant, but bake it in the oven to reduce the calories.
For each one pound of eggplant, you will need:
- 1 pound eggplant, peeled
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup refrigerated egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters) or egg whites
- 1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat two large baking sheets with nonstick olive oil cooking spray.
Cut peeled eggplants crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (no thicker). You want them to be thin.
Place the egg substitute in one shallow dish and the bread crumbs mixed with the cheese in another.
Dip the eggplant slices into the egg substitute, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 10-15 minutes longer.
To assemble the casserole, you will need:
Spray an 8 inch or 9 inch or 8-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
- 2 ½ cups Marinara sauce (see recipe above)
- 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 recipe breaded and baked eggplant
Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly. Spoon 1 cup of sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Add the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Italian Romaine Salad
- 1/2 head of romaine lettuce, sliced, washed and dried
- ¼ of a small red onion, cut into rings
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
Place the greens and onion in a medium salad bowl. In a jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Shake well and pour over the greens. Toss and serve.