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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Fruit

Making a BBQ dinner for friends is a great way to entertain, especially if the weather cooperates. I enjoy having guests for dinner and I usually plan my menu with dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. That way I am able to spend time with friends rather than doing a lot of food preparations while they are visiting.

You may have noticed that more and more of your friends are following different diets. Some are only eating low carb foods, others are on a Paleo diet, some are diabetic, others vegetarian and some vegan. It is a good idea to check with your friends to see what they can eat. I am always open to planning variations of what I am making to accommodate their diets. In this case a few friends are following a vegan diet, so instead of 8 beef burgers, four are beef and four are made from oats and beans. These vegan burgers are great on the grill, hold up perfectly and do not fall apart. Just be sure your grill is well oiled.  The rest of the menu works for everyone.

Beef Burgers

For 4 servings

Ingredients

20 oz (1 ¼ lbs grass-fed organic ground steak for burgers
Steak seasoning (I like Penzey’s Chicago seasoning)
1 large sweet onion, cut into 4 ½ inch thick slices
Olive oil cooking spray
4 wheat burger buns

Directions

Shape the meat into four equal patties, about 5 oz each.

Sprinkle the steak seasoning on both sides of the patties and spray each with olive oil cooking spray.

Coat the onion slices on both sides with cooking spray

Heat an outdoor grill on high. Oil the grill grates. Place the burgers on the grill, cover, cook turning once, for a total of 8 minutes.

Place the onion slices on the grill and cook until grill marks form on the bottom, turn them over with a wide spatula and cook the second side for a total of about 4 minutes.

Toast the rolls at the same time. Place the burgers on the bottom half of the rolls and top with a grilled onion slice.

Serve with ketchup and your favorite burger condiments.

Vegan Bean and Oat Burgers

For 4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 sweet onion, minced
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup dry pinto beans
1/4 cup dry red or black beans
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 medium carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for grilling

For Serving
Grilled Onion slices
4 wheat burger buns
Ketchup or other condiments

Directions

Soak the beans overnight in water to cover and cook the next day for 30 minutes. Drain and cool.

Place the oats in the bowl of the processor and process until finely ground.

Add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.

Remove the mixture from the processor and shape into four patties. Cover with plastic wrap.

Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before grilling.

Brush the patties with olive oil and place on an oiled grill.

Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Place on toasted buns and add a grilled onion slice. Serve with ketchup or other condiments.

Whole-Wheat Burger Buns

6 buns

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together the flours, yeast, salt, wheat gluten and baking soda.

Add the warm water, honey and oil. Mix on medium speed until the dough comes together around the paddle.

Switch to the dough hook and knead on low until the dough is smooth but slightly sticky.

Place in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat all over with oil, cover with a kitchen towel, and set aside for 2 hours until the dough has risen.

Punch down the dough and divide into 6 smooth balls

Place the buns on a lightly greased and floured baking sheet, a few inches apart or in a greased burger baking pan.

Flatten the tops slightly with your fingers, and let the buns rise for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the buns in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes.

Remove to a rack and allow the buns to cool.

Zucchini Fennel Salad

Ingredients

Salad
1 large zucchini, sliced very thin
Half red onion, sliced very thin
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
12 Italian green olives, pitted and chopped

Dressing
3 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon orange zest

Directions

In a large serving bowl, combine the zucchini, onion, olives and fennel.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the dressing ingredients; shake well.

Pour over the zucchini mixture and toss to coat. Refrigerate for several hours until chilled before serving.

Peach Crisp

Ingredients

Filling
4 cups peaches, peeled and sliced (about 8 medium peaches)
2-3 tablespoons agave nectar, depending on the sweetness of the peaches

Topping
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup oats
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 – 1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a large bowl, combine the fruit and the agave nectar. Spread the mixture evenly in an 8×8-inch baking pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, oats, pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Stir the oil into the topping mix with a fork until you get a crumbly mixture forms.

Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the fruit in the baking pan.

Bake for 50 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the top is golden.

 

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Looking for a few ideas on what to cook for dinner on busy weeknights? Here are a few recipes for you to try. The codfish, pork kabobs and Parmesan chicken come together fast. For the pasta dish, roast the broccoli in the oven while the pasta is cooking. Just a few minutes more are needed to pull it all together with some delicious results. Use seasonal vegetables for the sides.

Lemon Breadcrumb Topped Codfish

Pacific cod is a sustainable fish. Serve with a pasta or rice side dish and a vegetable.

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil mayonnaise
Two 6 oz center cut Pacific cod fillets

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Make the lemon-zest breadcrumbs: In a medium bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, oil, salt and pepper to taste and the lemon zest.

Mix well. Set aside.

Place the cod fillets in a small baking dish coated with olive oil.

Spread the non skin side of each fillet with some of the mayonnaise and then press on a layer of breadcrumbs.

Put the pan in the oven and roast until the fish is cooked through, 18-20 minutes.

Grilled Pork Kabobs

Serve with potato salad or baked beans.

4 servings

Ingredients

3 (1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick) boneless pork loin chops (1 lb), trimmed of fat
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ of a red onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
Half a medium bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
½ cup Peach BBQ sauce

Directions

Heat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.

Sprinkle both sides of each pork chop with salt and pepper; cut each chop into 1 inch pieces.

Alternately thread pork pieces, zucchini, onion and bell pepper evenly onto metal skewers. .

When ready to grill, place the skewers on a gas grill over medium heat or on a charcoal grill 4 to 6 inches from medium coals.

Brush with the BBQ sauce. Cook 5 minutes. Turn kabobs; brush with more sauce.

Cook an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until the pork is cooked through.

Creamy Broccoli Pasta

Serve with an Italian mixed green salad or a tomato salad.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb dry rigatoni pasta
1 large bunch broccoli florets
1 clove garlic
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 cup grated Parmigian0-Reggiano cheese
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt, pepper and olive oil
6 slices of Prosciutto di Parma

Directions

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl mix the broccoli with enough of the olive oil to coat generously, add salt to taste, and a few grinds of pepper.

Turn the broccoli out onto the baking sheet and arrange the pieces so that they are evenly spaced.

Roast until the florets begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir the broccoli pieces and add the slices of prosciutto to the pan,

Continue to roast until the broccoli is tender and the prosciutto is crisp, about 10 more minutes.

Boil a large pot of water to cook the pasta. When it reaches a full boil, add salt and the pasta and cook according to package instructions for al dente.

When the pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water and then drain the pasta in a colander.

Mince the garlic and cook it over medium heat in the empty pasta pot with the butter until the garlic has softened slightly (3-5 minutes).

Add the flour, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Whisk in the milk.

Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, whisking constantly, until the milk mixture comes to simmer.

As soon as it reaches a simmer, it will thicken and should be able to coat a wooden spoon.

Turn the heat off and whisk in the cheese. Add freshly cracked black pepper, nutmeg and salt to taste.

Return the drained pasta to the sauce in the pasta pot and add the reserved pasta water, tossing the pasta to loosen it up.Stir in the roasted broccoli.

Top the pasta with broken pieces of the crispy prosciutto and serve.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Cutlets

Serve with a light pasta and a green vegetable.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 ounces each)
Table salt and ground black pepper
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
Half a lemon , cut into wedges

Directions

Place chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound to even 1/4-inch thickness.

Pat dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Set up three shallow bowls: one with the flour, one with the egg and one with the cheese.

Using tongs and working with 1 cutlet at a time, coat chicken in flour, shaking off excess.

Transfer chicken to the egg; coat evenly and let excess run off.

Coat chicken with shredded Parmesan mixture, pressing gently so that cheese adheres.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place the cutlets in the skillet and reduce heat to medium.

Cook until cheese is pale golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Carefully turn the cutlets over and continue to cook until the cheese is pale golden brown on the second side, about 3 minutes.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges.


Breakfast breads are comforting but they can be unhealthy. Keep them healthy by adding whole grains, low-fat dairy and fruit. A Healthy Doughnut? Healthy doughnuts do exist. These baked ones are the way to go to reduce the fat and calories. Don’t be put off by the fact that some of the treats are made with whole wheat flour. It adds great flavor, not density. Try baking with different grains and you will be rewarded with some great tasting breads.

Apple Flavored Baked Doughnuts With Maple Glaze

Makes 10

Doughnuts

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup apple butter
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

Glaze

1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two standard doughnut pans.

Beat together the oil, eggs, sugars, applesauce, apple butter, orange juice, vanilla, apple pie spice, salt and baking powder until smooth.

Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.

Fill 10 of the wells of the doughnut pans to the rim; using a scant 1/3 cup of batter in each well.

If you have a little dough left add a little to each of the doughnuts.

Bake the doughnuts for 15 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

After about 5 minutes, remove the donuts from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

Allow the doughnuts to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze:

Mix together all of the glaze ingredients, stirring until smooth.

Place waxed paper under the racks holding the donuts.

Spread the doughnuts with glaze (or dip tops in the glaze); return to the rack until the glaze is set.

Pecan Banana Bread

Make 1 loaf. the recipe can be doubled to make 2 loaves.

Ingredients

1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
4 medium-size very ripe bananas, mashed (2 cups)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Vegetable cooking spray

Directions

Place the pecans in a single layer in a jelly roll pan and bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.

Combine brown sugar, melted butter, bananas and egg in a small bowl; add to the flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the pecans.

Pour mixture into a 8 1/2- x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 350°F for 60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of the bread comes out clean.

Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan, and cool on wire rack 2 hours or until completely cool.

Serve with cream cheese, if desired.

Barley Bread

Barley flakes are similar to oats and one of the oldest whole grains. Although barley may not be as popular as other whole grains like oats, wheat, or even the current favorite, quinoa, that makes it one of the best whole grain choices. The technique used below for helping the bread retain its shape during rising, works very well. Serve with homemade jam for breakfast or use it to make a sandwich, especially turkey.

Makes 1 boule

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
½ cup barley flakes
2 ¼ teaspoons instant dry yeast (1 package)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 – 2¼ cups bread flour
3 tablespoons toasted wheat germ, plus extra for the top of the bread
1/2 cup barley flour
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Olive oil for the dough

Directions

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, soak the barley flakes in the buttermilk for at least 30 minutes.

Put the olive oil, honey and baking soda into the bowl with the buttermilk and barley flakes ; stir well to combine.

Stir in 2 cups of bread flour, the yeast, salt, barley flour, wheat gluten, all-purpose flour and wheat germ.

With the paddle attachment mix the ingredients until they come together around the paddle. If the dough is very sticky, add the remaining bread flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for five minutes, then let it rest for ten minutes.

Knead for another 5 minutes, or until the dough is supple and elastic. Drizzle the dough with a teaspoon of olive oil, roll the dough over to coat it entirely with oil.

Cover with a damp tea towel and allow it to rise until doubled, about an hour and a half.

Shape the dough into a flat ball to create a “boule”.

To keep it from spreading out as it rises, set the ball inside a 9 inch springform pan, on a piece of parchment, for the second rise.

Brush the shaped dough with some more olive oil. Cover with a damp tea towel and let it rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the oven is hot and the dough has completed its second rise, brush the dough with a bit more olive oil.

Remove the springform ring and slide a baking sheet under the parchment.

Slash the top of the loaf in diagonal cuts that are about ¼ inch deep and sprinkle the top with a little wheat germ.

Bake for 60 minutes or until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped and registers 200 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.

Remove the bread from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Allow the loaf to sit for at least an hour before slicing.


Fresh fruit is so plentiful now that I can’t resist baking with some of it. The question is – which fruit to use? Cherries have a short season, so I take advantage of their availability now. Peaches are so flavorful at this time of year, you will want to bring home a bag full. Here in the south figs are everywhere and there are so many things you can make with them. What is your favorite summer fruit for baking?

Louisiana Fig and Pecan Cake

Ingredients

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped fresh figs
½ cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Confectioner’s sugar, for serving

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a standing mixer, whisk the eggs briefly in the mixer bowl. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about one minute.

Add oil and beat until just combined.

In a separate medium bowl, combine the buttermilk and baking soda.

Beginning with the flour, add flour and buttermilk mixture alternately and mix until combined.

Add the chopped figs, cinnamon, cloves, salt and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Pour batter into a greased and floured tube pan, or into 2 loaf pans (8x4x2½).

Bake until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the cake, 60-70 minutes for the tube pan and 50-55 minutes for the loaf pans.

Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely.

Garnish with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Sweet Cherry Galette

Ingredients

1/2 package of refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury), at room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch or other pie thickener
3 1/2 cups pitted fresh cherries (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Coarse sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface into an 11-inch circle.

Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Mix the pitted cherries with the brown sugar, salt and liqueur.

Spoon the cherries over the dough and leave a 2-inch border.

Drop pieces of butter over the cherries and fold the edges of the dough over, pressing lightly.

Sprinkle the crust with coarse sugar and bake for 40-45 minutes until the cherries are bubbling and the crust is brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Big Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies

My children and grandchildren visit in the summer because they like all the water activities that are available at this time of year. A favorite dessert for all are chocolate chip cookies. I prepare a big batch before they arrive and store them in the freezer. Serving dessert is so easy – don’t even have to think about it.

If you do not want to make a big batch, the recipe ingredients can easily be cut in half.

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Heat the oven to 350° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. I use four baking sheets for this recipe, so I can rotate them quickly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined (do not overmix). Mix in the chocolate chips by hand.

Use a cookie scoop to drop the dough onto baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Place 12 cookies on a sheet.

Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until golden around the edges but still soft in the center, 14 to 15 minutes.

Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then slide the parchment paper with cookies on it to the kitchen counter to cool completely.

Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

I store the cookies in the freezer and when company comes, I take out a dozen or two the night before and store them in an airtight container.

You won’t have to worry about them for the next day. They will be all gone!

Peach Crisp

Ingredients

6 ripe medium peaches
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Topping

3/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, diced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the topping by combining all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and, using your fingers, work the butter into the mixture until crumbs form. Set aside.

For the peaches:

Peel and slice the peaches about ¼ inch thick and place in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well with a spatula.

Butter an 8×8 inch baking dish and pour the peaches into the dish. Spread the peaches to make an even layer.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the peaches.

Bake for about one hour until the peaches are bubbling away and the topping is brown and crispy.

Cool the baking dish on a wire rack. Serve the peach crisp warm with a spoonful of whipped cream on top.


BBQ Ribs

Rub Mixture Ingredients

1/4 cup sweet paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried onion
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Ribs
2 St. Louis-cut or spare rib racks, about 2 lbs
Peach BBQ sauce, recipe below

Directions

Mix all the rub ingredients together and coat the ribs all over with the mixture. Place the ribs in a baking dish, cover the dish with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the foil covered baking dish with the ribs in the oven and roast for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender but not falling off the bone. The ribs will finish cooking on the grill.

When the ribs are done baking, heat the grill to medium-high. Oil the grill rack.

Brush the ribs with BBQ sauce and place them on the grill. Grill the ribs, basting with more BBQ sauce and turning occasionally, until they begin to char, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Cut into serving pieces and serve with additional BBQ sauce for dipping.

Georgia Peach Barbecue Sauce

Yields about 4 cups.

Ingredients

4 ripe peaches, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Half an onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/3 cup cider vinegar
One bottle tomato ketchup (about 31 oz.)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons butter, cubed and well chilled

Directions

In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the butter. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Reduce the heat and simmer, covered with the lid ajar, for 60-90 minutes until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pot from the heat and puree the sauce with an immersion blender.

Return the pan to the heat. With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a couple at a time, until incorporated. Cool and then refrigerate the sauce.

Sauce freezes well.

Southwest Biscuits

Ingredients

Biscuit Dough

2 cups unbleached self-rising flour
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold milk or buttermilk

Filling

2 scallions, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 ½ cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
2 tablespoons butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 inch round baking pan.

Place the flour in a bowl. Work in the butter with a pastry cutter just until the crumbs are the size of large peas.

Add the milk, and stir until the mixture holds together and leaves the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if needed.

Scoop the dough onto a well-floured surface, and fold it over on itself several times, using more flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Roll the dough into a 12 x 8 inch rectangle.

Sprinkle the dough with the shredded cheese and then with the scallions and jalapeno peppers.

Roll the dough up, jelly roll style, from the 8 inch side into an 8 inch log.

With a sharp knife, cut the biscuits into 1 inch pieces for a total of 8 rolls.

Arrange the rolls in the prepared baking pan. Dot the rolls with butter and place in the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

Summer Macaroni Salad

Ingredients

8 oz elbow macaroni
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1/2 onion finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper finely diced
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup diced bread & butter pickles
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch black pepper

Directions

Make the dressing by combining the ingredients in a serving bowl and set aside while you cook the macaroni.

Cook the pasta al dente in boiling salted water, drain and add the pasta to the dressing while the pasta is warm.

Add the chopped vegetables and mix well. Add salt to taste, but I find this type of salad doesn’t need extra salt because the mayonnaise, pasta cooked in salted water and seasonings add enough.

Cover the salad and chill the salad for several hours before serving.

Italian Fried Peppers

Ingredients

6-8 Italian frying peppers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove smashed and cut in half
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning.
Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Heat oil and garlic in a small saute pan. Lower the heat and add the whole peppers.

Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Saute slowly until lightly brown on all sides.

Serve at room temperature.

Tomato Basil Salad

Ingredients

1 pint miniature (Juliet) plum tomatoes or grape tomatoes
½ cup sliced fresh basil
¼ cup Italian vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a serving bowl. Leave at room temperature several hours before serving.

Blueberry Galette

Ingredients

1 lb fresh blueberries (3 cups)
2 tablespoons cornstarch or other pie thickener
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie dough (from a 15-oz package)
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Whipped cream or frozen yogurt, optional

Directions

Put an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir together blueberries, cornstarch, zest, juice, cinnamon, salt and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl until combined.

Unwrap the pie dough and unfold onto the prepared baking sheet.

Spoon the blueberry mixture onto the center of the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border around the edge.

Fold the edges of dough over 1 inch of the blueberry mixture, pleating the dough as you move around the filling.

Dot the blueberry filling with butter pieces.

Lightly brush the pastry with some of the beaten egg and sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon sugar.

Bake until the blueberry filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool slightly on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Serve the warm galette with a spoonful of whipped cream or frozen yogurt.


When the weather heats up, take advantage of the all the fresh produce that is available during the summer months. Many recipes for creating salads or cold soups do not require any cooking. If an ingredient needs to be cooked, do it early in the day and serve it chilled. Below are a few ideas to keep you cool, including a delicious dessert.

Cold Appetizer Plate

Burrata Cheese drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Olives, Roasted Peppers, Fresh Melon
Bread Sticks

Chicken Salad

The breasts can be cooked early in the day and the rest of the recipe can be prepared later. This makes enough so that there will be plenty for several meals. Serve over lettuce with sliced tomatoes and cut up veggies.

Cooking the chicken breasts

1 1/2 pounds of bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Roast for 40-45 minutes, until the chicken registers 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer .

Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Remove the meat from the bones and save the skin and bones to make chicken broth.

Dice the chicken into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl.

For the salad

1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped sweet (Vidalia, Walla Walla) onion
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup red grapes, cut in half
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Mix the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard together in a mixing bowl with a cover.

Add the celery and onion; stir, Add the chicken and mix carefully to keep the chicken from breaking up.

Fold in the pecans and grapes. Adjust salt and pepper, if needed. Cover and chill.

Triggerfish with Caper Sauce

Triggerfish were once ignored by commercial fishermen, however, they are now considered among the finest fish on the Gulf seafood menu. Their clean white meat carries a uniquely sweet flavor when cooked. Since this fish lives in warm waters, you might not find it in your area. Use any thin mild white fish fillets in the recipe below, if you cannot find triggerfish. If you do see it in your fish market, be sure to give it a try. I like to serve this dish with the tomato salad shown below.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 ounces butter, room temperature
1 lb triggerfish fillets
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 ounces white wine
Hot sauce, to taste
Half a small onion, chopped fine or  one shallot
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon capers, rinsed

Directions

Add the butter to a saute pan or skillet and place over medium heat.

Season the fish with the salt and pepper and dredge the fillets in all-purpose flour.

Place each fillet in the skillet and saute until light golden brown.

Add a few drops of hot sauce to the pan as the fish browns.

After the first side is golden brown, turn the fish over and cook until the second side is golden brown.

Remove the fish from the pan to a plate. Reduce the heat to low and add the wine to the skillet.

Add the onion or shallot and stir slowly but continuously for about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and capers.

Continue to stir until a thin sauce forms. Return the fish to the skillet and spoon the sauce over the fillets.

Place the fish on serving plates and spoon any sauce in the skillet onto the fish.

Tomato Feta Salad

Serves 4

4-5 medium plum tomatoes, sliced thin
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons good quality white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Place the sliced tomatoes on a serving plate.

In a mixing bowl combine the onion, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil and parsley and toss well.

Pour the dressing over the sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with the feta cheese. Serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Tiramisu

Makes 12 squares

Ingredients

1 (3-4 ounce) package chocolate pudding mix
Two 3-ounce packages ladyfingers, split
1/3 cup chocolate liqueur (Kahlua)
1/3 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee
One 8-ounce carton mascarpone cheese
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated
Unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions

Do ahead: Prepare the chocolate pudding mix according to the directions on the package. Chill in the refrigerator.

Mix the coffee and Kahlua together in a shallow dish.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer just until stiff peaks form.

Add the chocolate syrup and mix until just combined.

To assemble the tiramisu:

Line the bottom of an 8 x 8 x 2-inch or 11 x 7 x 2 inch baking dish with some of the ladyfingers dipped in the espresso/Kahlua mixture.

Spoon a thin layer of chocolate pudding over the ladyfingers in the baking dish.

Spoon half of the mascarpone mixture over the chocolate pudding layer, spreading it evenly.

Sprinkle with grated bittersweet chocolate.

Top with another layer of ladyfingers dipped in espresso, followed by chocolate pudding and the mascarpone cheese mixture.

Cover and chill for 6 to 24 hours. Sift cocoa powder over the top before serving.

 

 

 

 


Sicilian Ricotta Birthday Cake

We recently celebrated a dear friend’s birthday with a special dinner to honor him. I offered to make his birthday cake, as I know, he is found of Italian cakes, especially if they are made with ricotta cheese. There are numerous versions of the Sicilian Cassata Cake, but this is my version. One, where, I have worked out the flavors that we like in a cake of this type. If you want to make a special occasion cake, this is a great cake to make.

Ingredients

Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
2½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the pans
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk

Filling

2 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
2 oz finely chopped good quality chocolate
Zest from one orange

Syrup

Juice of one orange
½ teaspoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon white rum

Whipped Topping

2 cups heavy cream whipped
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
½ teaspoon orange extract

Garnish

Candied orange peel
Cake writing decoration

Directions

To make the cake layers:

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Butter two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper cut into circles to fit, butter again and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Beat in the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until combined (do not over-mix).

Transfer the batter to the prepared pans. The best way to get an even amount of batter in each pan is to weigh the pans on a scale. This is a tip I learned from Alton Brown and it works perfectly.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes for 8-inch pans and 22 to 25 minutes for 9-inch pans. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto racks to cool completely.

To make the filling:

Combine the ricotta with the remaining filling ingredients in a storage bowl with a cover. Place in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the cake.

Once the layers are completely cool, cut each layer in half with a serrated knife to form four layers.

To make the syrup:

Combine the orange juice with the rum and agave in a small dish.Brush the syrup over the cut sides of the layers until it is all used. Let the layers rest for 30 minutes.


To add the filling:

Place one layer, cut side up on a cake plate and spread some of the ricotta filling over the layer leaving a ¼ inch edge all around the cake without the filling. (This way the filling will not ooze out of the layer when you place another layer on top.)

Place the next layer, cut side up, on top of the filling and repeat with another layer of ricotta filling.

Repeat with the third layer, cut side up. Place the fourth layer, cut side down, on top of the ricotta filling.

Place the cake in the refrigerator while you make the whipped topping.

Make the Whipped Topping:

In a mixing bowl combine the heavy cream, orange extract and powdered sugar.

Beat the mixture until the cream forms soft peaks.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread the whipped cream on the sides of the cake and then on the top.

Decorate the edge of the top of the cake with candied orange peel.

Write Happy Birthday in the center, if desired.

 

 

 



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