Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: lemon

The word “spiedino” is a diminutive of “spiedo” the Italian food term for skewered meat. Spiedini, or “skewers,” are a popular way of grilling throughout Italy, from north to south. Small pieces of meat, fish, vegetables, and even cheese are skewered on a spiedo, or “stick,” and then cooked over a flame. This recipe is one I have adapted from the Italian restaurant, Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

Spiedino Di Mare (Skewered Seafood)

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

6 oz sea scallops
6 oz large shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs, for breading
Lemon Butter Sauce, recipe below
Fresh parsley, chopped
Bamboo or metal skewers
Simmered Italian Seasoned Rice, recipe below

Directions

If using bamboo skewers, soak them in warm water for a 1/2 hour.
Season the scallops and shrimp with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the grated garlic to the breadcrumbs.
Lightly coat the seafood with olive oil, then dip in the seasoned breadcrumbs.
Preheat a stovetop grill and oil the grill.
Skewer the shellfish and grill on both sides just until the shrimp turn a light pink.
Place the grilled seafood on the prepared rice and pour the lemon butter sauce over the shellfish. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top.

Lemon Butter Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Black Pepper to taste

Directions

Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Add the lemon juice to the butter and warm briefly.
Add Worcestershire sauce and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.

Simmered Italian Seasoned Rice

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat the broth and Italian seasoning in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat to a boil.
Stir the rice into the broth. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. Stir in the cheese.

Italian Peppers and Onions

Ingredients

4 bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 onion, sliced thinly
4 whole garlic cloves skin removed
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Few leaves of fresh basil, chopped

Directions

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and cover the bottom with olive oil. Place the whole garlic cloves in the oil and let the garlic infuse the oil and begin to caramelize. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove the garlic.


Add the peppers, onions, oregano, red pepper, salt, and pepper and allow the vegetables to cook down and soften turning them over a few times. This should take about 15 minutes.
Place the vegetables in a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped basil.


Italian Style Crab Cakes

I use Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset Blend which is a combination of basil, oregano, red bell pepper, garlic, thyme, fennel, black pepper, and anise. You can also use dried Italian seasoning.

Ingredients

1 lb fresh lump crabmeat, cleaned and shells removed
2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper
1 shallot, minced
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Tuscan blend seasoning or salt-free dried Italian seasoning
⅓ cup olive oil mayonnaise
2 tablespoons homemade or store-bought basil pesto
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 thin tomato slices

Lemon Butter Aioli

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove small garlic minced or grated
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Make the aioli
Whisk the melted butter with the ½ cup mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, pinch of cayenne, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl until smooth and combined, cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Make the crab cakes
In a large bowl, mix together all crab the cake ingredients except the oil and the tomatoes. Using 1/3 cup mixture for each, shape into eight 3-inch patties.

In 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat until hot. Add patties; cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Drain on paper towels.

To serve place each crab cake on a tomato slice and top each cake with a tablespoon of Lemon Butter Aioli.


Meunière refers to both a sauce and a method of preparing fish. The word itself means “miller’s wife”. To cook something à la meunière is to first dredge the fish in flour and then saute in butter, chopped parsley, and lemon.

The first time Julia Child ate sole meunière was in 1948 at La Couronne in Rouen, France. Rumor has it this is the dish that transformed her into a French cook.

Unlike a lot of classic French cuisine, sole meunière requires almost no advance preparation and very little time at the stove. It is one of the quickest dinner preparations and you probably have flour, salt, pepper, butter, and lemon on hand. All you need is the fish. That fish does not have to be Dover sole, especially given that in recent years, its sustainability has become an issue (not to mention the fact that it is very expensive). Other flat, white, flaky fish will taste delicious when pan-fried and smothered in butter.

West Coast Dover Sole is a great alternative. Unlike the European Dover Sole, West Coast Dover Sole is a member of the flounder family. It is rated as a Best Choice by Seafood Watch and comes from Astoria, Oregon, a small fishing town located at the mouth of the Columbia River just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean.

Sole Meunière

I use West Coast Dover Sole in this recipe. Unlike the European Dover Sole, West Coast Dover Sole is a member of the flounder family. It is rated as a Best Choice by Seafood Watch and comes from Astoria, Oregon, a small fishing town located at the mouth of the Columbia River just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean. It is available for online purchase from Sea To Table.

Servings: 2

Ingredients

4 small sole or flounder fillets, about 12 ounces total
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup flour (or cornstarch for gluten-free)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 lemon, cut into slices
Chopped parsley

Directions

Gently rinse and pat dry the fillets with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge the fish in flour on both sides, shaking off excess flour. Place on a plate and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium/high heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes, then add the butter and stir together. When the butter stops foaming (about 40 seconds), add the fish and pan-fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Carefully turn the fish over with a wide spatula and cook until done, another 2-3 minute, adding the lemon slices during the last 20 seconds of cooking. Remove the fish to a serving plate and pour the browned butter and lemon sauce over the fillets. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Italian Baked Tomatoes

2 servings

Ingredients

1 large beefsteak tomato, halved horizontally
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Place tomatoes cut-side up in a baking pan. Top with Parmesan, oregano, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with oil. Bake until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Zucchini Fritters

Ingredients

2 medium zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/3 cup flour (or gluten-free or low carb flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup crumbled Greek feta
4 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
Olive oil, for cooking

Directions

Place shredded zucchini in a colander and sprinkle the salt over it, tossing well to evenly distribute the salt. Allow the zucchini to drain for at least 30 minutes, and longer if possible. After it has drained, place zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out all excess water. Place the zucchini in a mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients, except the oil. Mix well.

Heat a stovetop griddle or a large skillet. Brush with olive oil. Dip a 1/4 cup measuring cup or scoop into the batter, level off. Drop the batter into the pan and gently push it into a flat pancake shape with the back of a metal spatula. Cook for 5 minutes adjusting the heat up or down as needed, then turn the fritters over and cook for another 5 minutes until crispy. Add more oil to the pan as needed to prevent sticking.
Drain the zucchini fritters on a paper towel before serving.


Scallops & Shrimp In Lemon Butter Sauce

Serve over rice and add a green vegetable.

Ingredients

1 pound large sea scallops
1 lb large (16-20) shrimp, shells and tails removed and deveined
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 large finely diced shallot
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Wash and pat the seafood dry with paper towels.
Heat the butter and olive oil together in a large deep skillet. When the butter has melted, add the shallot, lemon juice, and chives. Simmer for a minute. Add the shellfish in a single layer. Cook about 1-2 minutes or as soon as the bottom of the shrimp turn pink, Turn the shellfish over with tongs and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Grind fresh black pepper over the fish and serve the shellfish and sauce over rice.

Italian Sausage & Pepper Frittata

Serve with a tomato a salad and your favorite rolls.

Ingredients

1 lb sweet Italian pork sausage, cut into one-inch slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove
8 whole eggs whisked
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh basil for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet
Add the sausage slices and brown evenly. Add the crushed red pepper spice, onion, and garlic. Saute. Add the peppers and cook until softened. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the beaten eggs over the sausage mixture slowly to cover.
Top the egg/sausage mixture with shredded cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the eggs are set and edges begin to turn golden brown.

Garnish with fresh chopped basil once the frittata has baked.
Let it sit to cool a bit, and then cut into serving pieces.

Chicken Divan

Serve with rice or buttered noodles and sautéed carrots.

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head broccoli, stems removed and florets cut in half
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour or cornstarch or arrowroot
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; let cool slightly.

Place the broccoli into a large pot, cover with salted water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until barely tender, 2–3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Rub the inside of a deep 2-quart casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter; set aside.
Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually pour in stock and cream while whisking constantly. Cook until very thick, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper and 1/2 cup of the cheese; stir until cheese melts, about 1 minute. Remove cheese sauce from the heat and let cool slightly.
Arrange the broccoli in the prepared dish in a single layer and place the chicken evenly over the top. Pour the white sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes.


Lemon Butter Chicken With Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients

Chicken
4 lb whole organic chicken
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 oz unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
Juice and zest of one lemon
A handful of fresh herbs

Vegetables For Roasting
3 large carrots
2 large onions
A handful of fresh mushrooms
Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, both inside and out.


Use a roasting pan with a rack, place the vegetables on the rack. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the chicken breast side up on top of the vegetables. Place the herbs in the cavity of the chicken.


Combine the garlic and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. The butter should not turn brown, just melt.
Let the butter cool for a couple of minutes.


Pour the garlic butter over the chicken. Bake on the lower oven rack for 1 to1 ½ hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 180°F (82°C). Baste with the juices from the bottom of the pan every 20 minutes.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, another way to tell if the chicken is done is to poke a skewer between thigh and breast. The juices should run clear, not pink.

Let rest ten minutes before slicing.

Roasted Orangetti Squash

Orangetti Squash is a spaghetti squash variety that is orange instead of yellow. It has a thick, hard, golden-orange rind, with small tan flecks on the rind. The flesh is also golden-orange, with a mild flavor.

Ingredients
1 large orangetti spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, and scoop the seeds out of each.
Rub about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the flesh of each half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place the squash cut-side down in a baking pan with sides and roast 40-45 minutes.


When the squash is cool enough to handle, gently scrape the flesh with a fork to release spaghetti-like strands into a serving bowl.
Pour some of the lemon butter sauce from the chicken over the squash strands and toss. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Other Serving suggestions:

Season with garlic, red pepper flakes, chili powder; butter and parmesan cheese to taste; or serve with your favorite marinara sauce or pesto.

Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits

Ingredients
2 cups unbleached self-rising flour
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold milk or buttermilk
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Place the flour in a bowl. Work in the butter or shortening with a pastry blender just until crumbs are the size of large peas. Add the jalapenos and cheddar.
Add the milk, and stir until the mixture holds together and leaves the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if needed.
Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface, and fold it over on itself several times, using more flour as needed to prevent sticking.
Pat the dough into a 5″ x 8 rectangle about 1/2 thick.
With a sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 8 rectangular biscuits. Place on the biscuits on a parchment covered baking sheet.

Bake the biscuits for 10 to 14 minutes, or until they’re a light golden brown.
Remove them from the oven, and serve hot. Cool leftovers completely, wrap airtight, and store at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage. To refresh room-temperature biscuits, place on a baking sheet, tent lightly with foil, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 10 to 13 minutes, until heated through.


Grilled Swordfish

According to Seafood Watch.org, Swordfish caught in the Atlantic with harpoons or handlines and hand-operated pole-and-lines and Western and Central Pacific with handlines and hand-operated pole-and-lines, or by U.S. fleets in the Atlantic with buoys, is a “Best Choice.” Swordfish populations are healthy, and there are no major bycatch concerns in these fisheries. This is the type of swordfish that I purchase.

4-6 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
4 Swordfish Steaks, 1/2 inch thick, (about 1 1/2 Pounds Total Weight)
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Italian Flavored Panko Crumbs
Lemon Sauce, recipe below

Directions

Place the swordfish in a glass dish, scatter garlic over fish and then pour the olive oil over all.
Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

When ready to grill:
Remove the fish from the marinade and place on a plate. Pour the marinade into a measuring cup. Reserve.
Place a sheet of heavy foil on a baking sheet and poke a few holes in the foil.
Place the swordfish on the foil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each lightly with panko crumb. Turn the fish over and sprinkle with 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 15 minutes until the crumbs begin to brown the and the fish is cooked through. Do not turn fish.

Remove fish to a plate and pour the lemon sauce over the fish or serve on the side.

Lemon Sauce

Add more olive oil to the oil in the measuring cup that was used for the swordfish marinade to equal 1/2 cup.
Add
1/4 hot water
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
Whisk and warm in the microwave when ready to serve.

Linguine with Pesto Cream Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb linguine
1 cup pistachio basil pesto sauce, see recipe
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream

Directions

Cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander.
In the same pot add the pesto, cream, and Parmesan cheese. Warm over low heat and then add the cooked linguine. Cook for a minute or two. Pour into a serving bowl and top with freshly ground black pepper.

Cucumber Orange Salad

Ingredients

2 celery stalks, sliced
2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded & sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1 orange, cut into segments
1 jalapeno; ribs & seeds removed, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup Italian Vinaigrette

Directions

Combine the salad ingredients in a serving bowl. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Serve immediately.

 


In my kitchen, a pound of crab meat can go pretty far. At least two meals. Make the crab filling and use it to stuff fish fillets and to make crab cakes.

Crab Filling

1 pound Lump crab meat
1/2 cup chopped green onion
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1/2 cup minced red bell pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons seafood (Old Bay) seasoning

Directions

Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, minced garlic, fresh parsley, lemon juice, pepper and Old Bay seasoning.
Stir in the onion, celery and bell pepper. Gently fold in the crab meat, without breaking up the lumps. Set aside one cup of the mixture for the stuffed flounder and reserve the rest for crab cakes.

Crab Stuffed Flounder

Place the fish and sauce over cooked pasta or squash noodles. Serve with a tomato salad to complete the dinner.

Ingredients

2 large or 4 small slices flounder fillets, about 12 oz total
1 cup crab filling
4 teaspoons butter
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Lemon Cream Sauce, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil an 8-inch baking dish.
Place the flounder on a piece of wax paper. Arrange the crab mixture lengthwise down the wider section of the fillets. Starting from the thinner edge of the fillet, fold over the long way. Place the stuffed fillets in the baking dish and sprinkle each with cayenne pepper and thyme.

Place a teaspoon of butter on top of each fish fillet.


Bake for 15 minutes.
Make the sauce while the fish bakes. Pour over the cooked fish and serve.

Baked Crab Cakes

Ingredients

Crab Filling from above, about 2 cups
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
4 teaspoons butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Add the breadcrumbs to the crab filling and form the mixture into four patties. If you do not want to bake the patties immediately, they can be refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, for several hours or overnight.

Place the patties in an oiled baking dish and place a teaspoon of butter on top of each crab cake. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve with the lemon sauce.

Lemon Cream Sauce

This recipe makes enough sauce for both the stuffed flounder and the crab cakes.

Ingredients

1 shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

To make the Lemon Cream Sauce

Melt the butter over medium heat in a small skillet, add the shallot and cook until softened. Add the cream and remaining ingredients. Whisk until thickened, about another minute or two.


 

Around the world, people eat certain foods thought to symbolize good fortune when the new year arrives. Here are a few recipes guaranteed to make you feel lucky.

Happy New Year.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Pork, thanks to its rich fat content, symbolizes wealth and prosperity.

12 servings

Dry Rub:

3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1 (5 to 7 pound) boneless pork shoulder or pork butt

Mustard Barbecue Sauce:

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Mix the paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, dry mustard and salt together in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Put the pork in a roasting pan and roast it for about 6 hours. An instant-read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the pork should register at least 170 degrees F, but basically, what you want to do is to roast it until it falls apart.

While the pork is roasting, make the mustard sauce. Combine the vinegar, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, salt, cayenne and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring, for 30 minutes until the sauce is thickened slightly. Take it off the heat and let it sit until you’re ready for it.

When the pork is done, take it out of the oven and put it on a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 20 minutes. While the pork is still warm, you want to “pull” the meat. Use 2 forks: 1 to steady the meat and the other to “pull” shreds of meat off the roast. Put the shredded pork in a bowl and pour half of the sauce over. Stir well so that the pork is coated with the sauce.

To serve, spoon pulled pork mixture onto the bottom half of a hamburger bun and top with some of the mustard sauce.

Black-Eyed Peas

Legumes including beans, peas and lentils are symbolic of money. Their small, seed like appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked. In Italy, it is customary to eat cotechino con lenticchie or sausages and green lentils, just after midnight. In the Southern United States, it is traditional to eat black-eyed peas in a dish called hoppin’ john.

Ingredients

4 cups shelled black-eyed peas
2 ounces bacon
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups chicken broth, plus extra if needed
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

Directions

Cook the bacon in a large saucepan. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel plate and reserve for later.

Add the onion and celery to the hot bacon fat and cook until tender. Add the peas and saute for a minute or two.

Add the thyme and 2 cups of chicken broth or just enough to cover the peas by about 1 inch. Add more if the peas are not covered.

Bring to a low boil and add the sugar and stir well.

Scoop off any foam that forms and discard it.

Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low, let simmer for about 25 minutes.

Add the pepper and salt, stir well and continue to cook for 10 more minutes.

Taste the peas for tenderness, they should be tender after this amount of time but not mushy. Drain.

Top with the crumbled bacon and serve.

Southern Winter Greens 

Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale and chard, are consumed at New Year’s in different countries for a simple reason — their green leaves look like folded money and are symbolic of an economic fortune.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 1/2 pounds mixed winter greens such as collards, mustard greens or kale
6 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch sticks
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cider vinegar, or to taste
Salt and pepper

Directions

Discard stems and center ribs from the greens, then coarsely chop leaves.

Cook bacon in a wide 6 to 8 quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown but not crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then pour off the fat from the pot and wipe clean.

Heat the butter in the pot over medium-low heat until browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes, add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high, then stir in the greens, 1 handful at a time, letting each handful wilt before adding more. Add garlic, red-pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, uncovered, stirring, until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in bacon, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Stuffed Flounder

The Chinese word for “fish” sounds like the word for “abundance,” one of the many reasons fish has become a go-to good luck food. In Germany, Poland and Scandinavia, it’s believed that eating herring at the stroke of midnight will ensure a year of bounty—as herring are in abundance throughout Western Europe. Also, their silvery color resembles that of coins, a good omen for future fortune.

Ingredients

1 lb flounder fillets
1 pkg (10 oz) fresh spinach or a 10 oz package frozen, thawed and drained
1/4 cup Feta cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for baking
1/4 cup diced scallions
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to season

Directions

Heat oil in skillet. Add garlic and scallions and saute for a minute or two.

Add spinach to the pan and saute for about 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the feta and Parmesan cheese. Season with black pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

Season the fish with salt and pepper. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling onto the center of each piece of fish.

Roll fish around stuffing. Place fish seam side down into an oiled baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil Sprinkle fish with oregano and paprika.

Bake at 400 degrees F uncovered for 30 minutes.

Fettuccine in Lemon Sauce

In China, Japan and other Asian countries, it’s customary to eat long noodles on New Year’s Day.because they signify. The noodles must not be broken or shortened during the cooking process.

Ingredients

1 pound fettuccine
1 clove garlic, grated
2 lemons (zest of 1 lemon, juice of 2 lemons)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped

Directions

Place the spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water and cook the spaghetti al dente.

Place the grated garlic in a warm pasta serving bowl. Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and slowly drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil while whisking.

Whisk until the ingredients have emulsified and add the cheese. Drain the spaghetti and add to the serving bowl. Mix the pasta with the lemon sauce to coat evenly.

Sprinkle the pasta dish with fresh parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.


 

faith_willinger_20001My friend, Andy, recently gave me a cookbook titled, Adventures of an Italian Food Lover by Faith Heller Willinger. The author’s name was familiar to me because I have been cooking from her book, Red, White, and Greens: The Italian Way with Vegetables, for a long time. You can also check out a column she wrote for The Atlantic Monthly by visiting this site: http://www.theatlantic.com/author/faith-willinger/

In the Adventures book, Faith takes readers to country markets and busy city shops, to wineries in rural villages, to kitchens in restaurants and into private homes where her friends share their recipes – real Italian recipes.

Additionally, Willinger introduces the reader to the people of Italy: the grocers who stock homemade artisan cheeses and salumi, winemakers, Tuscan bakers, butchers and chocolatiers. Each entry is followed by a recipe. The recipes include some classic Italian dishes that will be familiar, but most are as authentic and original as the people Ms. Willinger profiles in the book. Actually these profiles are one of the best features in the book.

Even if you’re practiced in making Italian food, there’s still much to learn from Ms. Willinger.  She includes information on the most important ingredients, explaining such things as why certain dry pastas are superior to others, what goes into making Italy’s best cheeses, how to select the best olive oils and what distinguishes an artisanal ricotta from another more ordinary one.

The book can also function as a guidebook for travelers because she includes web sites, hours of operation and contact information that make arranging a personal visit easy.

Here are a few recipes from the book for you to try. The book is divided into three major areas of Italy: Northern and Central Italy; Tuscany and Southern Italy and the Islands.

From Chapter 1 – Northern and Central Italy

bellini

Bellini Cocktail

Willinger adapted this recipe from Walter Bolzonella’s recipe, a barman of the Hotel Cipriani in Venice.

Serves 2

For the peach puree:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound ripe white peaches
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

For the drinks:

  • A few raspberries, if desired, for color
  • 1 bottle Prosecco sparkling wine

Directions

Put the water and lemon juice in a bowl. Peel, pit and slice the peaches. Immerse them in the acidulated water, so they don’t discolor and macerate for at least 10 minutes or up to 6 hours.

Drain the peaches, reserving 2 to 3 tablespoons of the liquid. In a food processor or blender, puree the peaches with the sugar and reserved liquid. Use more sugar if the peaches are very tart

but this is not a sweet drink. If the peaches don’t have pink veins (which lend a Bellini its rosy hue), add a few raspberries to the mixture before pureeing.

Transfer the mixture to a jar or bottle and chill thoroughly.

Pour cold peach puree into a pitcher. Add one bottle of chilled Prosecco sparkling wine and stir gently. Pour into glasses and drink at once.

wright-custard1

Zabaione

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Moscato d’Asti wine
  • Butter or hazelnut cookies or fresh fruit or berries

Directions

Place the ingredients in a 1 ½-2 quart pot (use a copper or stainless steel bowl with a rounded bottom, holding the bowl with a pot holder)

Begin beating at high-speed with a mixer until foamy. Place the pot over medium heat and continue beating.  Mixture will grow greatly in volume and thicken.  Remove the pot from the heat when the mixture feels warm and continue beating.  

Place back over the heat, beating the whole time, removing the pot from the heat when it seems to be heating up too much. Practice makes perfect.  

The zabaione will be thick and foamy, warm but not hot to the touch.  Serve in individual glass serving bowls with butter or hazelnut cookies on the side.  Or over berries or sliced fresh soft ripe fruit like peaches or mango.

Chapter 2 – Tuscany

39260f3404aafec4f3b94cef4e7a1470

Ricotta-Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ricotta, fresh, if possible, or sheep’s milk ricotta
  • 12-16 fresh zucchini flowers
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

Directions

If your ricotta is watery, drain it in a sieve to remove excess whey. Soak the zucchini flowers in cool water, then gently spin-dry in a salad spinner. Removing the stamens is unnecessary.

Pack the ricotta into a pastry bag — I use a disposable one and simply cut the tip off the end. Insert the end of the pastry bag into the zucchini flowers and pipe one or two spoonfuls of ricotta into each.

Drizzle one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Place the stuffed flowers in the skillet in a single layer and the place pan over the highest heat.

When the pan heats and the oil begins to sizzle, cover and cook for four to six minutes or until the flowers are hot, steamed by the moisture of the ricotta.

Transfer to a serving dish and top with pepper and salt, minced basil, and the remaining extra virgin olive oil.

2black-grape-schiacciata

Etruscan Grape Tart

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 ½ teaspoons)
  • ¾ cups warm water
  • 3 tablespoons Chianti — drink the rest with dinner
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 ½ – 2 ¾ cups soft wheat flour (Italian “00” or White Lily flour)
  • ¼ cup Tuscan extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the bowl
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Around 1 ¾ pounds wine, Concord, or red Grace grapes
  • 6 tablespoons sugar

Directions

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, wine and honey in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes or until bubbles form. Stir in ¾ cup flour — it doesn’t have to be smooth because lumps will dissolve. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.

Add the olive oil, salt and 1 ½ cups flour. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Add up to ½ cup additional flour if necessary so it isn’t sticky. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 ½ hours.

Punch the dough down and divide into two pieces. Roll each piece out to a rough 10 by 16-inch rectangle. Place one rectangle on parchment paper on a cookie sheet (or use a nonstick cookie sheet), scatter the dough with half the grapes and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar.

Use the second rectangle of dough to cover the bottom layer. Sprinkle the remaining grapes on the dough, gently press the grapes into the dough, and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel and let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until dark brown. Remove from the pan while still warm and spoon excess juice over the tart. Serve at room temperature.

From Chapter 3 – Southern Italy

4316

Spaghetti with Walnuts and Anchovies

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 whole salt-cured anchovies, filleted, or 4–6 canned anchovy fillets
  • 3–4 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Chili pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 14–16 ounces spaghetti

Directions

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the garlic over low heat until it barely begins to color. Add the anchovy fillets and, with a wooden spoon, mash them until they dissolve into the oil. Add the walnuts, chili pepper and parsley; stir to combine and remove from heat.

Bring 5 to 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add about 3 tablespoons of sea salt, then add the spaghetti and cook until it offers considerable resistance to the tooth, approximately three-quarters of the package-recommended cooking time. Drain the pasta, reserving 2 cups of the starchy pasta cooking water.

Add the spaghetti to the sauce in the skillet along with 1/2 cup reserved pasta-cooking water, and cook over high heat, stirring with a wooden fork, until the pasta is cooked al dente, adding a little more pasta water as the sauce dries.

8626e78b21adb8b7c4677f18e87d1da1

Sweet & Sour Lemon Sauce

Use as a sauce for fish.

For the candied zest:

  • 2 Meyer lemons
  • 1 orange
  • 6 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 cup wildflower honey
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions

Peel the zest from the lemons in strips, leaving 1/4-inch pulp attached to the zest. Peel the orange the same way.

Put the zests in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons salt; add 1 cup water and weight down with a small plate to keep zests submerged for 1 to 2 hours. Rinse and drain.

Bring 10 cups of water to a rolling boil, Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of salt and the zests and when the water returns to a rolling boil, remove from heat and let zests cool completely in the salted water. Drain zests.

Combine the honey, sugar and 2 1/4 cups of fresh water in a small pot and bring to a simmer. Add the drained zest and cook over lowest heat, less than a simmer, for 40 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let zest cool in the syrup overnight. The next day, bring the syrup back to a simmer, lower the heat and cook for 1 hour. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

Repeat the process one more time, cooking zest on the lowest heat for 30 minutes. Store zest in its syrup in a jar.

For the sauce:

  • 3 1/2 Meyer lemons
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon minced celery
  • Fine sea salt
  • White pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped candied lemon zest

Directions

Trim three lemons with a knife, cutting the rind away down to the pulp. Section the lemon into wedges, cutting between the white connective membranes.

Squeeze the juice from the remains of the lemons into a measuring cup and add the wedges. You should have about 1/2 cup.

Squeeze the juice from the remaining 1/2 lemon and add it to the wedges. In a small saucepan, add the oil and saute the garlic and celery over medium heat until the celery barely begins to color.

Add the lemon wedges and juice and cook, mashing the mixture with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is pulpy. Remove the garlic. Season the lemon mixture with salt and white pepper.

If the sauce is too tart, add a spoonful or two of syrup from the candied zest. Transfer lemon mixture to a blender and add candied zest. Blend until smooth.

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dinnermenucover

How do you decide what to have for dinner? Do you go by what you are in the mood for or what is the quickest meal you can come up with for tonight? If I don’t plan ahead for specific dinners, I usually find myself looking at what is in the refrigerator/freezer/pantry for ideas. That is how the meals below came together – no recipes – just what makes a good match. Chicken breasts and flank steak were in the freezer. The asparagus and salad ingredients were in the refrigerator. I also had a little cream and the mozzarella cheese in the refrigerator. Chicken broth, corn meal and the ingredients for the soup were in the pantry. So they became dinner for 3 nights in the true Italian frugal way. They all passed the test for delicious, according to my husband. If you are looking for something different to make, try the recipes below.

Dinner One

stuffedchicken4

Stuffed Chicken Breasts 

If you have leftover chicken, as I did, it makes a delicious chicken salad.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole jarred roasted red peppers, divided
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs, divided
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F.

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound until evenly thin.

stuffedchicken1

Cut the roasted red peppers to fit the flattened chicken breasts. Place the peppers on the chicken and sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese on top of each breast. Fold in the sides of each breast and roll the breasts up, jelly roll style.

Place the chicken rolls in a small baking dish (just large enough to fit the chicken rolls) and sprinkle with the Italian bread crumbs and parsley.

stuffedchicken3

Pour the broth around the chicken rolls and bake for about 45 – 60 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken breasts) or until the chicken registers 165 degrees F on an instant meat thermometer. Slice the chicken rolls into half-inch slices to serve.

asparagus

Oven Roasted Asparagus With Lemon Shallot Sauce

If you are making the asparagus without the chicken dish above, then preheat the oven to 425°F. Bake the asparagus until tender for 15 to 20 minutes. If making the asparagus with the chicken, then use the directions below.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt

Sauce

  • ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 scant teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Toss the asparagus with oil and a sprinkling of salt in a large bowl. Spread on a baking sheet or a baking dish.

After the chicken has roasted for 30 minutes, put the asparagus in the oven with the chicken and roast, stirring once halfway through, until tender, about 25-30 minutes.

Place the asparagus on a serving plate.

To make the sauce:

Combine the cornstarch and broth.

In a small saucepan, heat the broth, shallot, zest, turmeric and cream to boiling. Boil until thickened and slightly reduced, whisking the entire time.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice.

Season with salt to taste and keep warm. (Makes 1/2 cup.)

To serve:

Pour the sauce over the roasted asparagus on the serving plate.

Dinner Two

steak2

Grilled Flank Steak

For the flank steaks marinade:

  • 1/2 cup  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 flank steak, trimmed of excess fat

To marinate the flank steaks

Combine all the ingredients except the steak in a glass baking dish. Add the steak and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

steak1

Grill the steaks

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 1 hour prior to cooking.

Prepare a medium-high gas or charcoal grill fire. Clean and oil the grill grates.

Remove the flank steak from the marinade and grill the steaks, covered, until grill marks form and the steaks have a nice brown sear, 4 to 5 minutes.

Turn the steaks and continue grilling until grill marks form on the other side and the steak is cooked to medium rare (an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a steak should read 130-135°F), 3 to 4 minutes more.

Let the steak rest 10 minutes loosely covered with foil. Cut the flank steak across the grain and serve with the Greek Salad.

greeksalad2

Greek Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces, washed, and dried
  • 1 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 medium English cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz peperoncini (Tuscan peppers), drained & sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Place the lettuce in a large bowl and add the tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, olives and onion.

Place the oil,  lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste in a small, nonreactive bowl and whisk to combine.

Pour over the salad and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the feta and serve with pita bread.

Dinner Three

blackbean1

Black Bean Soup

Makes about 9 cups

  • 1 pound dried black beans (2 cups), rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped fine (about 3 cups)
  • 2 large carrots, chopped fine
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped fine
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • One 10 oz can Rotel chunky diced tomatoes with mild chilies
  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

Directions

Early in the morning, place the beans with water to cover in a large bowl and let soak for a couple of hours. Drain and rinse the bean.s

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking; add onions, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add the garlic and spices; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in beans, tomatoes and vegetable broth.

Add enough water to keep the liquid just covering the beans. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 1 hour.

Stir in the salt. Continue to cook until the soup thickens and the beans are cooked but not mushy, about 30 to 60 minutes more.

cornmuffins1

Corn Muffins

12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1⁄4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Butter a regular muffin pan.

In large bowl thoroughly combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg with the milk and melted butter.

Combine with the dry ingredients until just evenly moistened. Do not overmix.

Stir in 1 cup of the cheese. Immediately spoon the batter into the muffin pan.

Evenly sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the muffins.

Bake 18 -20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.



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