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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Pickles

Who can resist BBQ chicken? Sweet, savory and smoky flavors are what summer grilling is all about and when barbecued chicken is done right, it is delicious. For many of my northern readers, summer grilling will be over in a few months, so don’t let the summer go by without making this dish. Using a rub gives the chicken flavor and cooking it over indirect heat is important so that the chicken does not dry out or become burned. Finishing the chicken with a tasty sauce just adds to the overall flavor. Make your favorite sides and you have dinner. Oh, and don’t forget an easy homemade dessert.

BBQ Chicken

The rub and BBQ sauce can be made in advance, even several days ahead, to save time.

Ingredients

7 to 8 lbs bone-in chicken, cut into 6 or 8 parts

Spice Rub

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon pepper
1 tablespoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Peach Barbecue Sauce

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

To make the spice rub:

Combine all the ingredients for the spice rub in a jar or mixing bowl.and blend well.

To make the barbecue sauce:

In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the butter.

Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. (You may want to have a lid handy to protect yourself and your kitchen from any sputtering.)

Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a couple at a time, until incorporated. Set aside

To prepare the chicken:

Rinse and pat dry the chicken pieces. Sprinkle on the rub generously and let rest while the grill heats.

I have a three burner gas grill. When a recipe calls for indirect grilling, I like to heat all the burners on the highest setting.

Then I turn off the middle burner. Brown the chicken pieces over the direct side of the grill and them move to the center, indirect area.

Cook the chicken pieces for 20 minutes and turn the chicken over.

Cook for 15 to 20 more minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165°F in the meatier part of the thigh or breast.

When the chicken is cooked, pour some of the barbecue sauce into a separate container (to avoid contaminating the whole batch) and brush it onto the chicken.

Cook the chicken  pieces an additional few minutes so that the sauce adheres to the chicken in a sticky glaze; watch the chicken carefully at this point and pull it off the grill if the sauce starts to burn.

Remove the chicken from the grill to a serving platter and serve with some of the barbecue sauce on the side.

Potato Salad

Ingredients

1 ½ lbs whole medium-large red skinned potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pickle juice
¼ cup minced bread and butter pickles.
½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
½ cup olive oil mayonnaise
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Place the potatoes in a large pot with a lid. Cover the potatoes with cold water and add 1 teaspoon salt.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook the potatoes with the lid ajar until tender, about 15 minute.

Drain the potatoes and cool. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes. Slice the potatoes into a storage bowl.

Add the pickle juice and let sit at room temperature for an hour or so.

Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and taste to see if the salad needs salt. Add black pepper to taste.

Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator.

Italian Fried Peppers

These peppers are in season and we never get tired of them.

Ingredients

12 Italian frying peppers, washed and dried
¼ cup olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
½ teaspoon crushed fennel seed
½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Directions

Heat a large saute pan over medium to high heat and add the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 30 seconds.

Add the peppers and season with salt and pepper. Turn the peppers over a few times to coat in oil.

Add the fennel and Italian seasoning and cook for about 10 minutes until soft and beginning to brown. Serve at room temperature.

Almond Chocolate Pudding Dessert

Ingredients

Pudding

Two 3.4 oz packages of Cook & Serve chocolate pudding
4 cups almond milk (or milk of your choice)
½ teaspoon almond extract

Topping

1 cup heavy(whipping) cream
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon almond extract
Chocolate shavings

Directions

Put all the ingredients for the pudding in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles a little and thickens.

Immediately pour the pudding into an 8 inch glass pan (or a similar size dish) and let cool on the counter for about 20 minutes.

Refrigerate the pudding until cold and set.

For the topping

Combine all the ingredients except the chocolate shavings in a medium bowl and beat the mixture until whipped and soft peaks form.

Spread the whipped cream over the chocolate pudding. Grate chocolate shavings over the cream and chill until serving time.

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Homemade Burger Buns

Makes 6 large burger buns.

Ingredients

2 3/4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced dried onion
1 tablespoon honey
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 tablespoons softened butter
1 large egg
2/3 cup lukewarm water
Olive Oil cooking spray

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in an electric mixer bowl and mix the ingredients with the paddle attachment until the dough comes together around the paddle.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough until smooth.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and let it rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy and doubled.

To form the buns:

Gently deflate the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 pieces; each 4 ounces.

 

Shape the dough into balls, and place them in the wells of a lightly greased hamburger bun pan.

If you don’t have a bun pan, space them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Gently flatten the buns with your hand to fill the bottom of the pan’s wells, or until they’re about 3 1/2″ to 4″ wide.

Cover the buns and let them rise for 60 to 90 minutes or until they reach the top of the pan.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Spray the tops of the buns with olive oil cooking spray.

Bake the buns for 18 to 20 minutes or until they are a light, golden brown and their interior temperature is at least 190°F, measured with an instant-read thermometer.

Remove the buns from the oven and transfer them to a rack. Allow the buns to cool completely, then store airtight at room temperature.

Adapted from a King Arthur recipe.

Grass-fed Steak Burgers with Barbecue Sauce

Makes 4 burgers

Ingredients

4 thick (1/2 inch) sweet onion slices for grilling
4 slices American or Swiss Cheese
Burger Buns, recipe above for homemade or use store-bought

BBQ Sauce

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (about 3 chiles), plus 1 tablespoon of the sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Burgers

1 1/4 pounds grass-fed ground beef (sirloin)
1 1/2 teaspoons each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
BBQ sauce, recipe above
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided

Make the BBQ sauce:

Purée all sauce ingredients in a food processor until very smooth.

Make the burgers:

In a bowl, combine beef, salt and pepper.

Form into 4 equal sized patties about 5 oz each and 3/4 inches thick. Put on a plate, cover, and chill until ready to grill.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat). Oil the grill grates.

Brush both sides of the onions with BBQ sauce. Grill, covered, until softened, turning once, 8 minutes total.

Brush both sides of the burgers with BBQ sauce and grill, covered, turning once, about 8 minutes total.

Lay the bun halves, cut side down, on grill to toast slightly during the last-minute of grilling for the burgers and onions.

Transfer buns to a platter, place slices of cheese on the bun bottoms and top with burgers and onions.

Serve with extra barbecue sauce or ketchup.

Chopped Vegetable Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Ingredients

4 mini bell peppers, different colors or 1 large bell pepper
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
Half of a large red onion
2 celery stalks
Half a pint of grape tomatoes
Green Goddess Dressing, Recipe Link 

Directions

Dice all the vegetables into ½ inch pieces.

Combine the vegetables in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly;

Divide the mixture among individual salad bowls.

Serve the dressing on the side, so each diner can add the amount of dressing they like.

Macaroni Salad

Ingredients

8 oz elbow macaroni
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1/2 onion finely diced
1/2 bell pepper finely diced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup spicy cherry peppers, diced or pickle relish
1/4 cup minced 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 and set aside while you cook the macaroni.

Cook the pasta al dente in boiling salted water, drain and add 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.

The mayonnaise, pasta cooked in salted water and seasonings add enough.

Chill the salad for several hours before serving.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Makes 2 quarts. I use old mayonnaise jars with screw top lids.

Ingredients

2 cups water
2 cups white distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
1 teaspoon dill seed
6 thinly sliced garlic cloves
6-8 pickling cucumbers (Kirby)
A few sprigs of dill
2 clean quart size jars

Directions

Combine water, vinegar, sugar, kosher salt, pepper, dill seed and garlic in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; stir.

Quarter pickling cucumbers lengthwise and divide evenly in the jars; add fresh dill.

Top with the hot vinegar mixture. Cover and refrigerate for several days before eating.

The pickles keep for a few months in the refrigerator.


Lunch Menu

Iced Tea
Deviled Eggs
Stuffed Mini Peppers
Mediterranean Grilled Tuna Salad
Spinach Triangles with Tzatziki Sauce
Bread Sticks, Pickles
Dessert: Almond Sponge Cake with Strawberries and Cream

Iced Tea

Republic of Tea: 1 Peach Ginger Iced Tea Bag and 4 Naturally Sweet Tea Bags
Slices of Lemon, Lime and Oranges
Prepare the tea according to package instructions. Pour into a serving pitcher and chill.
To serve: Pour into tall glasses, add ice cubes and fruit slices before serving.

Mediterranean Grilled Tuna Salad

Ingredients

Tuna Marinade

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice (plus lemon wedges for serving)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic—grated
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 lb tuna fillet, one inch thick

For the Salad

2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup bottled roasted red peppers , drained and chopped
5 Kalamata (brine-cured) black olives , pitted and chopped
1 large celery rib , chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoon Italian parsley , chopped
1 teaspoon celery seed
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons toasted pignoli (pine nuts) or basil for garnish

Directions

To grill the tuna:

Combine the marinade ingredients in a measuring cup. Place the tuna in a glass dish and pour the marinade over the fish. Chill for one hour.

Cook the tuna on a hot grill for about 10 minutes or cooked through, turning and brushing regularly with the marinade.

Cool the tuna and wrap in plastic. When cold, flake the tuna.

To make the tuna salad:

Whisk together lemon juice and mayonnaise in a bowl. Add the flaked tuna and the remaining ingredients and combine. Season with pepper. Chill until serving time. Garnish with toasted pine nuts just before serving.

Stuffed Mini Peppers

Ingredients

16 mini sweet peppers
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
3/4 cup Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped finely
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped finely
1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 lemon, zested
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

In a large rimmed baking pan with heavy-duty foil. Spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the peppers in half so they will lay flat. Lay the peppers on the baking sheet, cut side up. Season the insides of the peppers with salt and pepper.

Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, anchovy paste, onion, celery. herbs, cayenne pepper and the lemon zest together in a bowl. Toss thoroughly.

Fill the peppers with a little of this mixture and then drizzle the olive oil over the peppers. (If you are making these ahead of time, just cover with some plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook them.)

Roast for 15 – 20 minutes, until the peppers are soft and the breadcrumb mixture is golden.

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

6 large eggs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Directions

Place the eggs in a saucepan just large enough to hold the six eggs. Cover with cold water and place the pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and cover the saucepan.

Let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes. Drain the water from the pot and add some ice cubes and cold water to cover the cooked eggs.

Let them cool until you can handle the eggs without burning your fingers.

Gently tap the eggs in several places and remove the shells. Place the peeled eggs on paper towels to dry.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks and place in a mixing bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork. Add the onion, celery, mayonnaise, mustard and salt and pepper. Mix well.

With a spoon fill each egg where the yolk had been with some of the mixture.

Place the eggs on a serving platter and chill. Sprinkle chives over the eggs and serve.

Spinach Triangles

Let the package of filo dough sit in the refrigerator overnight to defrost. Any remaining dough can be kept in the refrigerator well wrapped in plastic for four weeks or it can go back into the freezer.

Makes about 16 triangles

Ingredients

One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 scallions (green onions), minced
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
48 sheets filo dough, thawed
Olive oil
Tzatziki, recipe below

Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach with the scallions, parsley, dill, cheeses, eggs, salt and pepper until smooth.
Keep the filo dough not being used, covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying, while you work on the triangles.

Spread one sheet of the dough on a cutting board and brush with some olive oil. Place a second sheet of dough on top and brush with oil. Repeat with a third sheet.

Cut the layered filo in half lengthwise. Place one tablespoon of filling about 1″ from the corner of each strip. Fold one corner of fillo diagonally across to the opposite edge to form a triangle.

Brush lightly with oil. Continue to fold the triangle onto itself. Brush the outside of the triangle with oil and place the triangles seam side down on parchment covered cookie sheets at least 1” apart.Repeat until all the filling is used up.

Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Rolls can be made ahead and reheated just before party time.

Serve hot with Tzatziki Sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup peeled and seeded cucumber, finely chopped
1/3 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place the chopped cucumber in a fine mesh colander and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt.

Place the colander over a bowl and let the cucumbers drain for one hour.

Turn the cucumbers over on paper towels. Squeeze all the water out.

Combine the cucumber and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Almond Flour Sponge Cake

Cake

4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil for the pan

For the strawberry topping:

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1-2 teaspoons sugar (or more, depending on how sweet your strawberries are)

For the whipped cream:

1 pint heavy cream, well chilled
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan with oil. Swirl the oil in the pan and make sure it goes up the sides.

Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of the sugar listed in the ingredients onto the bottom of the pan.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites.

Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Slowly beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Scrape the beaten egg whites into another bowl and set aside.

In the mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the almond extract until smooth.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients — flour, baking powder and salt — and add to the egg yolk mixture. Stir together to form a thick dough.

Fold in the egg whites, 1/2 cup at a time, incorporating them fully between each addition. The final addition should result in a smooth, fluffy batter.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake on the center rack for 30 to 35 minutes, until it’s golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides, then turn the cake out onto a serving plate.

Allow the cake to cool fully before topping with strawberries and cream.

For the strawberry topping:

Combine the strawberries and sugar in a small bowl, and set aside to allow the juices to release.

For the whipped cream:

Place the bowl and whisk attachment for your stand mixer or a metal or glass bowl and beaters for your hand mixer in the refrigerator or freezer until they are cold.

Add the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to the chilled bowl, and beat on medium-high to high-speed until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat. Chill until ready to serve.


With family visiting for the holidays, I had plenty of leftovers to use up. Leftover vegetable dishes can become salads, such as my Green Bean Salad recipe. Leftover pork and steak can become new entrees. Leftover Tzatziki Sauce needed a new entre dish to accompany, so a middle eastern chicken dish is perfect. Leftover asparagus is always good in an omelet or a quiche. So many new meals from leftovers. Give your leftovers a makeover.

Spicy Shrimp and Fettuccine

Serve this pasta with a Green Bean Salad.

4 servings

Ingredients

8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound large (16-20) shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups chopped plum tomato
4 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook pasta al dente according to the package directions. Drain.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add red pepper and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute.

Add shrimp; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, basil and salt. Turn the shrimp over once and cook until pink on all sides.

Stir in pasta and Parmesan cheese; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.

Place pasta mixture in individual heated pasta bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese.

Serve immediately.

Green Bean Radish Salad

You can also use leftover cooked green beans for this salad.

Ingredients

1 pound green beans, trimmed
15 large red radishes, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and let cool.

Place the radishes and the cooled beans in a serving bowl .

Combine the olive oil, shallots, vinegar and lemon juice in a large measuring cup.

Pour over the radishes and green beans and toss to coat.

Let marinate 1 hour at room temperature, tossing occasionally.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Chicken Shawarma Pitas

Serve with a Greek Salad.

2 servings

Ingredients

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup finely diced peeled and seeded cucumber
1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

Chicken

1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon za’atar spice mix
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pita breads or lavash
1 small tomato, chopped
Thinly sliced romaine lettuce

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium.

Stir cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Combine garlic, za’atar, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another medium bowl.

Slice chicken breast crosswise into 1/4-inch strips; toss with the spice mixture to coat.

Add 1 tablespoon oil and toss to combine.

Grill the chicken on a stove top grill, turning once, until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.

To serve:

Spread 1/4 cup of the cucumber-yogurt sauce on a pita (or lavash) and top with one-half of the chicken, tomato and lettuce.

Fold like a taco (or roll closed, if using lavash). Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Cuban Sandwich

Serve with Homemade Tomato Soup

2 servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup leftover grilled pork tenderloin; thinly sliced
1 loaf Cuban or Italian bread or rolls
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 oz ham; thinly sliced
Yellow ballpark mustard
2 slices Swiss cheese
2 slices Provolone cheese
Dill pickle rounds
1/4 cup diced jarred banana peppers

Directions

Slice bread in half lengthwise and then in half horizontally. Butter the outside of the bread.

Spread mustard on the insides of the bread and layer each sandwich with 1/2 of remaining ingredients. Set tops of rolls in place and press down to flatten sandwiches.

Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, heat large pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat for 4 minutes.

Brush the tops of the sandwiches with melted butter and place them in the skillet buttered side down.

Brush the bottoms of the rolls with butter and use the preheated pot to compress the sandwiches for 15 to 20 seconds.

Cook (keeping the pot on the sandwiches but no longer pressing down) until the first side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the pot, turn the sandwiches over, replace the pot on top of the sandwiches, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Asparagus Tart

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large leek, light green and white portions
1 large shallot, sliced thin
1/2 lb leftover cooked asparagus, cut into one inch lengths
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 8-ounce tube refrigerated reduced fat crescent rolls
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin and drained on paper towels
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 eggs, beaten

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften,4- 5 minutes.

Add the shallots and saute for another 3 minutes.

Add the Italian seasoning, asparagus, a large pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper.

Stir and remove the pan from the heat and let cool. When the mixture is cool, add the beaten eggs.

Pat the crescent roll dough into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange the sliced, drained tomatoes over the dough.

Spread the asparagus mixture over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

Steak Quesadilla with Homemade Salsa

2 servings

Ingredients

4 (10 inch) flour tortillas
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup minced red onion
¼ cup diced pickled jalapeno peppers
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 ounces cooked steak, sliced thin
Homemade salsa, recipe below
Sour cream, optional

Directions

Brush a large frying pan with olive oil and heat the pan. Lay a tortilla on the bottom of the pan.

Cover evenly with one half of the steak, onion, jalapenos and cheese. Top with another tortilla shell.

Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the bottom tortilla begins to lightly brown and then use a wide spatula to turn the quesadilla over and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Repeat with the remaining quesadillas. Cut the quesadillas into quarters and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Homemade Salsa

Ingredients

One 26 oz container Pomi chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapenos
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon agave
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon lime juice
A few dashes chipotle Tabasco sauce

Directions

Mix together and chill.


august

The ingredients listed above are all at their best, so make the most of August’s seasonal foods by turning them into delicious summer recipes. Pair some of summer’s ripe tomatoes with some delicious crab. Create a salad with ripe peaches and Parma Ham. Cook up some pasta and add chopped August veggies and chill. Perfect for a weeknight dinner. Below are some ideas to inspire you to create some recipes from August’s bounty.

New York Deli Style Pickled Green Tomatoes

IMG_0004 (2)

Ingredients

For each quart jar:

  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cups distilled water or purified tap water
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 pound firm full-sized green tomatoes
  • 1 stalk celery, cut in pieces
  • 1/2 Serrano chili, stem removed or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half
  • 2 tablespoons dill seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

Notes on the ingredients:

The tomatoes must be all green and cut into quarters.

You can usually find distilled water in the grocery or drug store. Distilled water is best because it has impurities removed and impurities can impart off flavors. Purified tap water is perfectly fine to use also.

Use Kosher salt not table salt. Kosher salt has larger flake shaped grains and also has small amounts of anti-caking additives but no iodine.

The recipe needs a little heat. Half a serrano works perfectly. If fresh peppers are not available, you can use 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

You must use distilled vinegar. Any other vinegar imparts too many odd flavors.

Directions

Use really clean bottles and lids. Sterilize them by submerging them in a boiling water bath or on a setting for sanitizing in your dishwasher.

Add the garlic, dill seeds, celery, hot pepper or red pepper flakes and peppercorns to the jar.

Thoroughly wash the tomatoes, remove the stem and cut them into quarters. Cram them in the jar leaving about ½ inch of space at the top.

IMG_0004

Make the brine by combining the vinegar, water and salt in a non-reactive sauce pan or pot. Bring to a boil and stir until all the salt is dissolved.

Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes to within 1/4″ of the top. Wipe the jar top, put the lids on and tighten. Turn the jars over and let sit for a couple of hours.

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Return the jars to the upright position and leave on the kitchen counter overnight. Refrigerate the pickled tomatoes for two weeks before serving.

The pickled tomatoes will keep for months in the refrigerator.

Easy Chilled Summer Melon Soup

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This soup makes a great summer appetizer or serve it for lunch.

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Crenshaw or cantaloupe melon, skin and seeds removed
  • 4 cups yellow watermelon, skin and seeds removed
  • One 15 ounce can coconut milk
  • Grated zest of one large lime
  • 1 large scallion (green onion) light green section finely diced and the top chopped and reserved for garnish
  • 1 jalapeno chili, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Basil or mint leaves for garnish

Directions

IMG_0001

Dice the melon and set aside 4 cups of each kind of melon. Puree the melon in a food processor. You will probably need to do this in batches. Pour the processed melon into a storage bowl.

To the last batch of puree add the lime zest, jalapeno, ginger,1 teaspoon of basil, the 1 teaspoon mint, diced light green scallion and the salt to the melon puree in the processor.

Pulse a few times and pour in the storage bowl with the first batch of pureed melon. Pour in the coconut milk and stir well.

IMG_0002

Chill the soup overnight. Garnish with scallion tops, fresh mint leaves or basil when serving.

Breaded Eggplant Salad

IMG_0015

For 2

For the eggplant

  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup dried Italian flavored bread crumbs
  • Olive oil

For the salad

  • Half a large yellow or red tomato, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup diced pickled peppers (spicy peppers are great here if you like them)
  • 4 cups salad greens, chopped

Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of sea salt and black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil.

Combine the salad dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Cut the eggplant into 1 x 2 inch pieces.

Combine the beaten egg and milk in one shallow dish and the bread crumbs in another.

Dip the eggplant into the egg and then into the bread crumbs. Place the coated eggplant on the baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Bake the eggplant until crispy and brown, turning them over when one side is golden, about 20 minutes.

IMG_0014

Place the chopped pickled peppers on a paper towel to remove some of the moisture.

While the eggplant bakes, arrange the salad ingredients on individual salad serving plates. Top with the cooked eggplant and drizzle with some of the dressing.

Mix well; serve immediately with additional dressing on the side.

Broiled Tomatoes

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Need a quick side dish, full of flavor and certainly seasonal, try these quick broiled tomatoes.

For each 2 person serving

Ingredients

  • 1 large beefsteak tomato
  • 2 teaspoons prepared basil pesto
  • 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil

Directions

Heat the broiler to high.

Cut the tomato in half and place in a baking dish, cut sides up.

Spread 1 teaspoon of pesto over each tomato.

Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs and then the grated cheese.

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Drizzle each with a little olive oil.

Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the topping is nicely browned.

 


IMG_0008

I look forward to this time of year because the CSA I belong to (Jeta Farms) begins its distribution of shares to its members. As you can see from the cover photo, my share contains beautiful produce.

CSAs (community supported agriculture programs), provide a direct link between local farmers and consumers by allowing members to purchase a share of a farmer’s crop before it’s produced each season. This allows the farmer to pay for seed, water, equipment, etc., up front.

Each week of the share season, the farmers deliver great tasting, healthy food to predetermined locations or members pick up their shares at the farm. CSA members share in the harvest and everyone benefits. This type of arrangement helps people to connect back to the earth and the food they eat.

Here are recipes for how I used some of the produce in my first share.

Corn Stock

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Did you know that you can make delicious vegetable stock with corn cobs? The stock can be used to add flavor to soups, risotto or any recipe calling for vegetable stock.

Ingredients

  • 12 corn cobs (corn kernels removed)
  • 2 chive stalks
  • 2 stems fresh parsley
  • 2 stems fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

Directions

IMG_0011

Put corn cobs, chives, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and cold water to cover in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover the pot and simmer for 1 1⁄2 hours.

Strain, discard solids and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use the stock.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

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For each ear of corn:

  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • ½ tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • One ice-cube
  • Heavy duty aluminium foil

Directions

Remove the husks and silk from the corn. Center the corn on a piece of foil large enough to enclose the entire cob.

Dot with the butter and sprinkle on the chives. Add an ice-cube.

IMG_0025

Bring up the foil sides. Double fold the top and ends to seal making one large foil packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside.

Grill, turning frequently, until the corn is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the corn from the grill. Be careful opening the foil and wear oven mitts as the corn will be very hot!

Green Bean Salad

green beans

3-4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions

To make the vinaigrette: whisk together the vinegar, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a serving bowl; set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil; add the beans and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a bowl of ice water. Drain well and toss with the vinaigrette, oregano, feta and onion. Chill before serving.

Stuffed Summer Squash Boats

IMG_0005

 

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 medium yellow squash
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, heated (see recipe link here)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

Cut off the stems on the squash and cut a slice off the top of each squash. I used the top and the scooped out flesh in the relish recipe below.

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Using a small spoon, scoop out the seeds and enough flesh from each squash to create room for the stuffing.

Place the squash in a greased baking dish or in individual baking dishes and brush the cut sides of the squash with olive oil.

Season the squash lightly with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

To make the stuffing:

IMG_0004

In a small mixing bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon olive oil, minced basil and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.

Combine the ricotta and mozzarella in another mixing bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Evenly distribute the ricotta cheese mixture in the squash boats.

Evenly sprinkle the breadcrumb topping mixture on top of the ricotta filled squash.

Bake the squash for 30 minutes or until the squash is tender and the topping is golden brown.

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Remove the baking dish or dishes from the oven and pour some warm marinara sauce over the squash boats before serving.

Small Batch Summer Relish

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Sweet-and-sour squash relish is a great condiment for burgers and summer sandwiches. You won’t believe how delicious summer squash is in this relish.

Makes: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (chili)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 lbs zucchini and/or yellow squash
  • Half a medium onion
  • Half a red or yellow bell pepper

Directions

Finely dice the vegetables with a knife. I don’t like using the processor for relish because it makes the squash watery and a grater makes them too fine for relish.

IMG_0002

In a large saucepan, heat vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, crushed red pepper and salt to boiling on high, stirring. Stir in squash, onion and bell pepper.

Simmer 60 minutes or until very tender and very soft, stirring occasionally.

Transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate until cold. Store up to 1 week in the refrigerator or freeze in small containers.

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saucescover

Sauces have more than one function in a recipe. A sauce can add moisture to naturally lean foods, such as fish and chicken breasts, or when using cooking techniques that tend to have a drying affect, such as grilling or broiling. A sauce can enhance a dish’s appearance by adding eye appeal. Pooling a bit of sauce beneath grilled fish or steak gives the dish an element of color. Many sauces include a garnish that adds texture to the finished dish.

It is often difficult to find a really good store-bought sauce to accent your food. In the summer when fruits, vegetables and fragrant herbs are in abundance, homemade sauces are so much better drizzled over just about anything. The homemade sauces below are perfect served with grilled beef, chicken, pork or fish, tossed with beans or pasta or drizzled over vegetables and grains. Just let your imagination run with it. These sauces come together quickly and easily and are great to keep on hand. And just a little bit goes a long way.

sauce1

Fresh Pickle Relish

This relish is easy to make and is good on hot dogs, burgers and grilled sausage.

Ingredients

8 servings

  • 1-2 cucumbers (1 pound), peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled ginger
  • 1 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Kosher salt

Directions

Place the chopped cucumber in a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl; toss with 1 teaspoon salt. Let sit 10 minutes, then squeeze well to remove as much moisture as possible (do not rinse).

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and cook, stirring, just until they begin to pop, about 1 minute. Add onion and cook 3 minutes. Mix in ginger and turmeric and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vinegar and sugar and cook until syrupy, about 5 minutes longer. Mix in cucumber; transfer to a small bowl and season with additional salt, if needed. Let cool. Cover and chill.  Relish can be made 1 week ahead.

sauce2

Tzatziki Sauce

A cooling, garlicky yogurt sauce that’s great with grilled meats and vegetables.

Ingredients

Makes 3 Cups

  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, very finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh mint for garnish

Directions

Mix cucumber, garlic, yogurt, dill, lemon juice and oil in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Cover and let sit at room temperature until flavors meld, at least 1 hour.

Garnish with mint. Tzatziki can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.

sauce3

Grilled Tomato Salsa

This salsa is especially good on grilled meats and fish.

Ingredients

Makes 2 Cups

  • Grilled Tomatoes (see recipe below)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped oil-packed anchovies
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rinsed capers
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Coarsely chop grilled tomatoes and add garlic, basil, oil, anchovies, capers and lemon zest. Break up the tomatoes to release their juices as you mix the ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature until serving time.

Grilled Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 pints ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine (such as Sun Gold, Black Cherry or teardrop; about 24 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix tomatoes with oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat, turning occasionally, until tomatoes are charred and blistered, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

sauce4

Summer Herb Sauce

This sauce is delicious drizzled over grilled vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons water, or more if necessary
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

Puree basil, parsley, marjoram, garlic and oil in a food processor or blender. With the motor running, add water and process until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, stir in capers and season with salt.

sauce6

Caponata

Serve this sauce over grilled swordfish. A classic Italian dish.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 each Italian frying pepper and orange and yellow bell peppers
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled or unpeeled according to taste
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

Directions

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and peppers; sauté 2 minutes or until soft. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds until aromatic. Add eggplant and, stirring often, cook 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in marinara sauce, cover; reduce heat and simmer, stirring twice, about 12 minutes, or until the eggplant is very tender.

Add vinegar and capers to caponata. Cover and simmer 5 minutes to develop flavors. Serve at room temperature.

sauce5

Simple Fruit Sauce

Use this sauce to pour over fresh cut melon, grilled peaches, plain cake or ice cream.

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh fruit in season
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4-5 tablespoon sugar or honey, to taste
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Directions

Puree the fruit in a blender with the lemon juice. Blend in the sugar by the tablespoonful, tasting after each addition, until the desired degree of sweetness is reached. Add cinnamon.

Strain through a fine strainer, pressing with a rubber spatula. Chill sauce until serving time.



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