Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Vegetables

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A quick dinner isn’t so quick, if you’re stuck washing a dozen pots and pans when you’re through. To me, nothing is worse than facing a mountain of dishes in the sink when dinner is over.

However, here is one solution – cook everything on a foiled-covered baking pan. This method ensures you won’t get stuck in the kitchen and it produces a great tasting dinner.

Orange Flavored Baked Chicken, Onions and Potatoes

The recipe is easily doubled or tripled depending on how many diners are at your table.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon. dried chili flakes
  • 4 small potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • One large sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves minced
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs (about 6 oz. each), trimmed of excess fat and skin removed
  • 3/4 to 1 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions

Heat the oven to 425°F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.

Finely grate 1 teaspoon orange zest and squeeze 1 tablespoon of orange juice from the orange. Stir together the juice, zest, oil, salt and the chili flakes in a small bowl.

Place the potatoes and onions on the baking sheet and brush them, on all sides, with some of the orange mixture.

Place the chicken in a medium bowl and pour the remaining oil mixture over the chicken thighs. Turn to coat well. Dredge the chicken in the panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken.  

Place the chicken on the foiled-lined baking sheet and sprinkle the thighs and vegetables lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the vegetables and chicken with the minced rosemary.

Note: The recipe can be prepared ahead up to this point and refrigerated until time to cook dinner.

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Place the pan in the preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the potatoes and onions over. Continue to roast about for 20 minutes more, until the chicken is crisp and golden and the potatoes are lightly browned in spots.

When the chicken is done, remove the potatoes and onions to serving plates and top with the chicken.

Remove the foil from the pan, carefully, and guess what……no pan to wash tonight.

Cucumbers in Sour Cream Dressing

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Note: Salting the cucumbers draws out excess moisture and helps keep the salad from getting watery.

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 scallion, white and green parts, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Directions

Scoop out the seeds from the halved cucumbers with a spoon and slice into ¼ inch thick half-moons.

Place cucumber and scallion slices in a colander; sprinkle with salt, tossing to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.

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Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the cucumber and scallion slices and toss to coat.

Let salad stand for at least 5 minutes before serving, or chill in the refrigerator until serving time.

Sprinkler dish washing.

When you have too many dishes.

 


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Tips On Grilling Shellfish

The flavor of shellfish benefits significantly from grilling. Removing the shellfish from the grill before they become too well done and rubbery is the biggest challenge. Watching closely for shellfish to turn opaque (non-transparent), removing them from the grill and serving them immediately are key to delicious tasting fish.

Prepare scallops for grilling by cutting off the curved shaped appendage that is attached to the side of the body, if still intact.

Prepare shrimp by removing the shell and the vein that runs along the back. Personal preference dictates whether to leave the tail on or off.

Marinating shellfish in a flavorful oil will help to prevent the tendency of the scallops and shrimp to dry out.

Two skewers work best to prevent the seafood from spinning or turning on the grill.

Grill shrimp on each side for 2-3 minutes, depending on the thickness of the shrimp. Cook scallops for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on their size.

Tips On Grilling Vegetables

Make room on the grill for vegetables. The caramelized, smoky flavor that comes with grilling does wonders for vegetables. A lot of veggies do well on the grill, but some really stand out — asparagus, corn, eggplant, squash, mushrooms, peppers and onions.

Most vegetables cook better and are less likely to stick if they’re marinated first or brushed lightly with vegetable oil.

For added flavor, sprinkle grilled vegetables with chopped fresh herbs. Cut the vegetables all about the same size for even cooking.

If you use wooden skewers, soak them in warm water for 20 minutes.

Marinade for the Shellfish and Vegetables

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

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Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a measuring cup. Divide in half. Use one half for the shellfish and one half for the vegetables.

Grilled Shellfish Skewers

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For 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 medium sea scallops
  • 6 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Marinade, recipe above
  • 2 double skewers
  • Green Goddess Dressing, recipe below

Grilled Vegetable Skewers

For 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 of a Fennel bulb, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/3 of a Red Bell Pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 small Zucchini, cut into 2 inch slices
  • Marinade, recipe above
  • 2 double skewers
  • Green Goddess Dressing, recipe below

Directions

Marinate the shellfish and vegetables separately for 30  minutes. Drain and thread the scallops on one double skewer and the shrimp on a second double skewer.

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Do the same with the vegetables. Save any marinade left in the bowl to use as a basting sauce.

Preheat an outdoor grill to high and grease the grill grates with oil.

Place the vegetable skewers on the grill first, since they will take longer to cook. Cook until the vegetables are tender, turning and basting them with the olive oil mixture occasionally, about 15 minutes.

After the vegetables have cooked for 10 minutes, place the shellfish skewers on the grill.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Serve the grilled shellfish and vegetables with the Green Goddess Dressing.

Green Goddess Dressing

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This may be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This dressing is also delicious drizzled over hard-boiled eggs.

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup snipped chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Place the chives, parsley, anchovy fillets, tarragon and vinegar in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  

With the motor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream, scraping down the sides, and process until pureed. Add the sour cream and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Store in the refrigerator until serving time.

Brown and Wild Rice with Pecans and Thyme

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup brown and wild rice mix, without seasoning. (I use Lundberg rice)
  • 3/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock

Directions

In heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, saute the onion in oil until softened. Add rice and saute 2-3 minutes, stirring so it does not get too brown.

Add the bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper and chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat to very low, cover and cook for about 50 minutes. (Check your rice package to see what the recommended cooking time is.)

After 50 minutes, check the rice. It should be slightly chewy with all the liquid absorbed when it’s done. Stir in the toasted pecans.

Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Serve hot.

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Ancona is a province in the Marche region of central Italy. The province is bordered by the Adriatic Sea in the north and the Apennine Mountains on the west. Ancona’s sandy beaches are popular with Italians but not well-known to tourists.

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The hills of the region are littered with Medieval buildings and walls, and unlike many other often-invaded areas, historical architecture has been preserved and adapted  for modern uses.

The Ancona port, one of the main ports on the Adriatic Sea, is located in the city of Ancona and is a busy passenger port with ferries running to Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Albania and Montenegro.

The city was founded in 387 BC by Greek settlers and the name Ancona comes from the Greek for elbow, due to its elbow-shaped harbor.

Artistic work of my own in retro style - Postcard from Italy. - Beautiful staircase Corinaldo, Italy

Many of the small craft workshops of the past scattered throughout the rural settlements have modernised and become small businesses, some of which have become major brands known all over the world (Indesit, Tod’s, Guzzini, Teuco). This evolution led to the emergence of ‘specialised’ industries: footwear, leather goods, furniture, household appliances and textiles, all made in the region.

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The demand for Italian textiles and clothing is strong in the United States and Japan, as well as China, Hong Kong, Turkey and Russia. Italy is also a pioneer in the export of yarn, woolen fabrics, silk fabrics, clothing and hosiery.

Ancona Port

A large area of the province’s land is farmland and much of it is used for wine production; as the production of Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Verdicchio grapes. Traditional feasts are held in the province during the harvesting period.

The mountainous regions and the Conero Regional Park, which contain dense forests, are where black truffles are found and they are sold throughout the province and neighboring provinces.

The main products grown are cereals, vegetables, animal products and grapes. Olives are also produced and managed by various harvesters. The sea has always furnished a plentiful supply of fish,

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The influence of the neighboring regions, particularly Emilia-Romagna, can be seen in the popularity of fresh egg pasta and oven-baked pasta dishes in the province. Vincisgrassi is a regional favorite and is a type of baked-lasagna stuffed with chicken livers.

In and around Ancona, you will find a variety of soups. Minestra di lumachelle is a local favorite containing lumachelle, a type of pasta made with egg, cheese and bread crumbs, similar to passatelli. Tripe soup, or minestrone di trippa, is also a regional specialty that is served with a battuto, lard pounded together with herbs.

Along the coast, fish soups are typical. Brodetto is prepared with a variety of fish. There are also a number of special, regional preparations for local seafood: cooked with white wine, tomato, lemon juice and spices, alla marinara, stewed in tomato sauce; al forno or oven-broiled.

Meat is also popular. Pilotto is a way to prepare meat by wrapping it in paper with a piece of lard, which melts into the meat during cooking. Another local favorite is Porchetta, a spit-roasted whole, boneless pig that has been stuffed with herbs.

Some of the best cheeses made in the area are Casciotta d’Urbino DOP, Raviggiolo del Montefeltro, Slaatto and herb-flavored sheep’s milk cheeses. For a special treat, olive ascolane are stuffed with meat, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and then fried.

Cicerchiata is a dessert made from yeast dough, shaped into balls, baked in the oven and covered with honey. Becciate are made with raisins and pine nuts. Migliaccio is a dessert made with pig’s blood, sugar and citrus peel.

Broad Beans with Anchovies

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Serve with crusty Italian bread as an appetizer.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 lb broad beans, fresh and shells removed
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 pinch marjoram
  • 4 anchovies
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • White wine vinegar to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Boil the broad beans in a small quantity of salted water until they are fairly “al dente”.

Prepare the topping with a chopped mixture of anchovies, garlic, marjoram, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the topping over the broad beans as soon as they have been drained. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Brodetto (Fish Stew) Ancona-Style

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You can use any type of fish–swordfish, squid, red snapper, shrimp, clams, mussels and lobster for this recipe with a total weight of 3 lbs.. Clean the clams and mussels well and put them into the stew whole. Some versions of brodetto use saffron instead of red pepper flakes and white wine instead of vinegar. You can substitute rice for the bread, as well.

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Red pepper flakes (chili) to taste
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
  • 1 1/2 pounds red snapper fillets, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar or wine
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups fish stock
  • 1 pound clams in the shell, scrubbed
  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp, with shells
  • 6 (3/4 inch thick) slices Italian bread, toasted

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, Dutch oven, or a clay pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaves, parsley and red pepper.

Cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the mashed tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes over medium heat. Pour in the vinegar or wine and cook 10 minutes. Pour in the fish stock and add the snapper.

Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Gently mix in the clams and cook until the clams open (discard any that don’t) about 2 minutes, and then stir in the shrimp.

Cook until the shrimp are pink, about 3 minutes.

Place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the brodetto over the bread and serve immediately.

Pollo in Potacchio

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Ingredients

  • 1 small chicken cut into 5 pieces (wing, drumstick, thigh and breast cut in half)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped imported Italian tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • Hot water
  • 10 small Yukon gold potatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Directions

Line a dish with paper towels and lay out the chicken, skin side up. Let air dry uncovered in the refrigerator for 2 days. 

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cut the potatoes into wedges. Place in a pot, cover with cold water, and add a pinch of salt. Over high heat, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.

The potatoes will not be completely cooked. Drain in colander.

Add the potatoes to a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the leaves from two of the rosemary sprigs. Add a good pinch of salt and toss.

Pour the potatoes out onto a sheet pan and shake to separate. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning the potatoes once with a stainless steel spatula.

In a large skillet add a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, about ten minutes. Remove the chicken to a bowl.  

Discard the rendered chicken fat and oil.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the large skillet, still over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic cloves; sauté until soft but not brown.

Add the white wine and rosemary sprigs; cook until the wine evaporates.

Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes. Season with salt and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken and a splash of hot water. Turn the chicken over to coat. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve the chicken topped with a little sauce and the potatoes.

Orange Cake – Ancona-Style

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting the pan
  • 3 eggs
  • Grated peel of 3 oranges
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened to room temperature, plus butter for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, with 3 tablespoons sugar dissolved in it.

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Thickly smear a Bundt pan with butter and dust with flour.

Put the flour, eggs, orange peel, 4 tablespoons softened butter, sugar and liqueur in a food processor and run until all the ingredients are evenly mixed.

Add the milk and baking powder and process again to incorporate into the mixture. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan (it won’t fill it up all the way) and place the pan in the preheated oven.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester placed in the center of the cake comes out clean..

Invert the cake while still warm and place it on a rimmed plate. Poke many holes into the cake with a thin handle from a wooden spoon.

Pour the orange juice over the cake slowly. At first, the holes fill to the brim with juice, but this will be absorbed by the cake. Repeat until all the juice is used.

Whatever juice ends up at the bottom of the cake, leave it there; it will eventually be absorbed.

Serve at room temperature. The cake keeps in the refrigerator, covered, for a week.

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Turkey Scallopini with Capers and Lemon

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Serve this dish with cooked, thin spaghetti and a green vegetable or salad for dinner. This dish also works for company or as a potluck dish, since a turkey breast is quite large. You can also freeze the leftovers.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pound boneless turkey breast, sliced into thin cutlets and pounded to 1/8-inch thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into thin slices

Directions

Pat the turkey slices dry and season with salt and pepper.

Dredge the turkey slices in flour, shaking off excess and set aside on waxed paper.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown half of the turkey cutlets on both sides and just cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Transfer to a platter and keep warm, covered.

Cook the remaining turkey cutlets with another 2 tablespoons of oil in the same manner.

Do not clean out the skillet.

Heat the butter in the skillet and cook the garlic for one minute.

Add the broth to the skillet and deglaze over moderately high heat, scraping up brown bits. Bring to a boil and stir in the lemon juice, lemon slices, capers, parsley and salt and pepper, to taste.

Return the turkey cutlets to the skillet with any juices on the platter and simmer until heated through, about 1 minute.

Old Fashioned Baked Beans

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This is one dish I only like homemade. Baked beans out of a can just are not to my liking. Here is my favorite recipe. These beans are delicious with BBQ pork chops.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 1 pound navy beans
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 3 pieces thick bacon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup Dijon country mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Rinse beans in a colander under water to remove any stones or impurities. Place the rinsed beans in a large pot or bowl and fill with water to completely cover the beans.

Set aside, loosely covered, on the kitchen counter, overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Cook the bacon in an ovenproof Dutch Oven. When crisp, remove to a paper towel to cool and, then, cut into small pieces.

Drain the beans and place in the Dutch Oven with the onions and the garlic. Mix well.

Add all the remaining ingredients, including the chopped bacon and stir until all contents are well mixed.

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Add enough water to cover the beans, about 3 cups, depending on the size of your pot.

Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook for 4-5 hours – stirring several times during the baking period.

Remove the lid after 3 hours and continue baking for the next hour – to allow the liquid to evaporate into a thick sauce.

Add the kosher salt. Taste the beans and add more, if needed.

Carrot, Olive and Feta Salad

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This salad goes very well with grilled chicken.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups shredded  carrots
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
  • 10 oil-cured black olives, pitted and cut into thin slices
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, cubed

Directions

In a small bowl whisk together the 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano and parsley.

Mix together the carrots, olives, feta, mint and the olive oil mixture.

Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Pasta with Italian Sausage Sauce and Ricotta

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Serve with a green salad to complete this meal.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 pound penne or rigatoni pasta
  • 1 /2 pound Italian sausage
  • 3 cups homemade or prepared marinara (tomato) sauce
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper(chili)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions

In a large skillet, brown the sausage and drain on a paper towel. When cool cut into thin slices.

Add the sausage back to the skillet with the marinara sauce and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer while the pasta cooks.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta.

Mix the ricotta, parsley, salt and pepper together in a microwave safe mixing bowl. Warm the ricotta in the microwave on high for about 60 seconds – just until warm to the touch.

Stir the cooked pasta into the sausage sauce in the skillet and pour into a serving bowl.

Drop tablespoons of the ricotta mixture over the pasta.

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and serve.


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Grass-fed red meats are leaner and contain proportionally more of many important nutrients that relate to good health. Because grass-fed beef has less fat and marbling (which help keep the juices in the meat), the meat toughens much more rapidly and, therefore, requires more careful cooking. This means it’s essential to rely on a thermometer rather than timing to ensure you don’t overcook the meat. Choose spice rubs or marinades that are oil or herb based, and plan to serve all tender cuts of steak medium rare. Cook the steak to an internal temperature of 120 degrees and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

A grass-fed steak should be exposed to high direct heat for no more than 2 minutes per side. After that, in order to guarantee tender and juicy meat, it should be removed from the flames and allowed to finish in indirect or low heat.  If you are cooking the steak on the grill, simply move it off the flames and put it on the side of the grill that is not lit, close the grill cover and allow the meat to cook for about 5-7 minutes per pound.  During that indirect time, the internal muscle fibers will come up to temperature slowly without contracting too tightly and toughening. Also, the proteins and sugars will have time to caramelize over the surface of the meat, giving the steak that characteristic glossy look and rich taste.

If you are cooking it indoors, once the steak has seared in a hot skillet, transfer the skillet to a 300 degree F oven for about 5-7 minutes per pound (or a 200 degree F oven for about 10 minutes per pound).  

Steak

  • 2 grass-fed, bone-in ribeye or NY strip steaks, about 14-16 oz each
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mushroom Topping

  • 8 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme

Arugula Salad

  • 4 cups loosely packed baby arugula
  • Italian vinaigrette (your favorite)
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Lemon wedges

Cooking the steak:

Coat the steaks in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let rest at room temperature for one hour.

Heat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates. Once the grill is hot, turn off one burner or move the hot coals to one side.

Place the steaks over the hot (direct) side of the grill and cook for two minutes. Turn the steaks over and cook for two more minutes.

Move the steaks to the indirect side and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the steaks register 120 on a n instant meat thermometer. Remove to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.

Cooking the mushroom topping:

Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add add the shallots. Cook for one minute and then add the sliced mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until their moisture evaporates.

Add the remaining ingredients. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

For the salad:

Arrange the arugula on a serving platter and drizzle lightly with Italian vinaigrette. Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Place the grilled steaks on top. Spread the mushrooms over the steaks.

Serve with lemon wedges.

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Sourdough Dinner Rolls

These rolls are delicious with the steak and round out the meal.

Yield: 8 rolls

Ingredients

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 package (2¼ teaspoons) yeast
  • 1/3 cup cracked wheat or other whole grain
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine 1 cup of the flour with the yeast, cracked wheat and salt.

In a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, combine the water, honey and the oil. Microwave on high for 30-45 seconds, until warm (but not hot).

Add the warm water mixture and the sourdough starter to the dry ingredients. Beat for 4 minutes on medium speed.

Gradually add the remaining flour, about ½ cup at a time, and switch to the dough hook and knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to grease the top. Cover lightly with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently press or “punch” down to remove air bubbles. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a 4×6-inch rectangle; then, starting with the longer side, roll up each rectangle tightly, pinching the edges and ends to seal.

Place shaped rolls onto a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled again, about 1 more hour. Near the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

With a sharp knife, make a lengthwise slash down the center of each roll and brush or lightly spray with cold water.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crusty and brown. Remove the rolls from the baking sheet and cool on a cooling rack.


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Every once in a while, it is nice to just have dinner with your partner.

First Course

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Southern Pimento Cheese Stuffed Celery

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons drained chopped pimientos
  • 1 teaspoon grated onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • Celery stalks, cut into 4 inch lengths

Directions

Process cream cheese in a food processor until smooth. Add Cheddar, Monterey Jack, mayonnaise, pimientos, onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper and pulse to combine.

Scrape into a serving  bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Use the spread to fill celery stalks and serve immediately.

Second Course

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Grilled Crab Stuffed Salmon Rolls

  • 1 Salmon Fillet, about 8 oz, skin removed

Crab Stuffing

  • ½ cup shelled, fresh  lump crab meat
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced green bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • ¼ teaspoon seafood seasoning (Old Bay)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

For the stuffing

Mix the crab meat with the vegetables and seasoning.

For the salmon rolls

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Cut the salmon fillet in half lengthwise. Divide the stuffing in half and spread on the skinned side of the salmon fillet. Roll up tight and secure with metal skewers or Butcher’s string.

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Refrigerate until time to grill.

Preheat the grill to medium hot.

Place pinwheels on a sheet of heavy-duty foil that has been coated with olive oil cooking spray. Poke a few holes into the foil.

Slide the foil onto the hot grill and grill with the lid closed for about 10 minutes.

To cook indoors

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Place pinwheels the pan. Brush pinwheels with butter, cover loosely with foil and bake 15-20 minutes..

Spaghetti with Basil Pesto Sauce

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Ingredients

  • 4 oz spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup prepared or homemade basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the spaghetti.

Add the pasta cooking water, the basil pesto and the Parmesan cheese to the empty pasta pot and stir until combined. Add the drained pasta, toss and serve.

Tomato Cucumber Arugula Salad

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Ingredients

  • 1 large tomato cut in half and sliced
  • 1/4 of a cucumber, cut in half and sliced
  • 2 scallions, finely diced
  • 2 cups arugula
  • Italian vinaigrette

Directions

Combine the salad ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add enough salad dressing to just moisten the ingredients and toss, Serve immediately

Peach Frozen Yogurt

IMG_0001

Makes about 4 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 pound peaches, peeled
  • 2 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Garnish with chopped mint leaves

Directions

Combine peaches, yogurt, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Transfer to a freezer-safe bowl, cover and freeze, whisking mixture vigorously every 30 minutes until just frozen throughout, 2 to 3 hours.

(Whisking helps to break up the ice that forms when freezing.) Frozen yogurt is ready when it is too thick to whisk.

Stir with a spatula, transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer. Serve garnished with chopped mint.

IMG_0004


Summer by Alexander Andreev

Summer by Alexander Andreev

Summer is a great time to entertain and if you can do it outdoors, it is even better. Casual get-togethers call for easy to do recipes using foods that can stand up to the outdoor elements. If you are hosting or attending such a party, thoughts usually run along the “what should I make” category. Since I live where it is quite hot six months of the year, I tend not to serve or take mayonnaise flavored dishes. Here are some ideas for each menu course of what to make or bring to an outdoor party. These have all been stamped with approval from my family and friends.

Appetizer Course: Crostini with Mushrooms

IMG_0003

Ingredients

  • 3 lb mixed fresh mushrooms
  • 3 oz. dried mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium beef or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish
  • Grated Parmesan for garnish

Directions

Heat oven to 450 degrees F.

Slice fresh mushrooms 1/4-inch thick. Soak dried mushrooms in a bowl of hot water until tender — about 10 minutes. Rinse and squeeze to dry.

Heat a 12-inch ovenproof skillet until very hot. Add olive oil and fresh mushrooms. Cook, while stirring frequently, over high heat until the mushrooms release their liquid — about 10 minutes.

Add the shallots, garlic, rehydrated mushrooms. Cook until the liquid has evaporated. Add broth, cognac, butter, salt, pepper, rosemary and the thyme.

Transfer skillet to the oven and roast, stirring twice, for 30 minutes. Garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Serve warm with grilled bread.

Salad Course: Grilled Shrimp Tomato Salad

IMG_0006

This is a popular dish, so I often divide the salad onto smaller serving dishes, so I can have them available in several areas.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil for the grill
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons mixed chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, mint, and/or chives
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 pounds peeled and deveined large raw shrimp
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds tomatoes,  quartered
  • Parsley sprigs for garnish

Directions

Oil the grill grates and preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Whisk together the ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl. Whisk in 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.

Arrange tomatoes on a large serving platter or in a large bowl, and drizzle with 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette.

Mix the shrimp with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.

Grill the shrimp, covered with the grill lid, 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink.

Mix the grilled shrimp with the remaining vinaigrette and arrange over tomatoes. Garnish with the parsley sprigs. Serve at room temperature.

Main Dish: Italian Sausage and Peppers

IMG_0001

This dish is always a big hit with everyone.

Serves 6

For the sausage:

  • 1 ½ lb. Italian sausage

Directions

Prepare an outdoor grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas).

Keep a third of the grill indirect heat. On a charcoal grill, this means spreading the coals over two-thirds of the firebox and leaving one-third coal-free.

On a gas grill, leave one burner off. Sausages should be grilled over indirect heat.

Lightly brush or rub the sausage with olive oil. This prevents sticking and makes them extra crisp. Use tongs and don’t break the sausage skin when turning.

Grill the sausages over the indirect part of the grill until crusty and golden brown on the outside and cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning them over after 15 minutes.

The safe internal temperature for ground meats—sausages included—is 160 degrees F.

Cut the sausages into two-inch lengths and set aside.

For the peppers and onions:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 sweet bell peppers or 20 Italian frying peppers, seeded, sliced into 2 1/2 to 3-inch long strips
  • 2 large sweet onions, halved and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or 1 teaspoon of fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (chili)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To finish the dish:

  • 2 cups Marinara (tomato) sauce

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, the peppers, garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes, until crisp tender.

Add the tomato sauce and heat.

Add the grilled sausage links to the skillet with the peppers and onions. Heat until the sausage is warm. Serve with lots of crusty Italian bread.

Side Dish: Corn Pudding

cornpudding

Ingredients

  • Butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 cups fresh (about 4 ears) or frozen corn kernels, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions

Heat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8-by-12-inch baking dish or another shallow baking dish of about the same size.

In a mixing bowl combine the onion, bell pepper, 1 cup of the corn and the salt and black pepper; Set aside.

Combine the remaining 1 cup of corn and half-and-half in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add the eggs and cayenne. Blend thoroughly.

Spoon the corn/pepper mixture into the prepared baking dish and then sprinkle the Monterey Jack over the top. Pour the egg mixture over all.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean, about 40 minutes.Garnish with chopped parsley.

Dessert Course: Peach Cobbler

IMG_0007

Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 to 6 medium (4 cups) peaches, peeled and sliced

Cobbler

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Combine all the filling ingredients except the peaches in a mixing bowl.

Stir in peaches. Pour into an ungreased 13×9-inch baking pan.

IMG_0004

Make the topping:

Combine the 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl; cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Stir in the egg and cream just until moistened. Spread the topping over the peach filling; sprinkle with the 3 tablespoons of remaining sugar.

IMG_0005

Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly around edges. Serve warm or chilled.

 



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