It is that time of year! Sports and more sports. We love to invite friends over to watch some of our favorite teams and small bite appetizers are the best foods to have on hand. Folks love them. Here are a few of our big hits.
To make this ahead: cook the meatballs and prepare the sauce separately. Refrigerate separately until serving time. Then reheat the sauce, add the meatballs and cook until the meatballs are hot. Pour into a serving bowl.
For the Meatballs
1 lb organic ground chicken or pork
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup almond flour
For the Sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
6 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon Gochujang (red chili paste)
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
To make the meatballs:
Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
Using a cookie scoop form into 21-22 one inch balls and saute in peanut oil over medium heat until cooked through and crispy. Drain on paper towels.
To make the sauce:
Combine the sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauces, chili paste, water, sugar and arrowroot in a small saucepan. Reserve the scallions.
Whisk until combined and bring to a boil.
Simmer for five minutes until thickened.
Add the cooked meatballs and scallions to the thickened sauce and stir to coat. Heat for a few minutes. Pour into a shallow serving dish.
Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms
This recipe can be made ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature and bake before serving.
15 large mushrooms cleaned and stems removed
1 scallion, minced
1 small garlic, grated
1 pkg frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
3 ounces feta cheese
1/4 teaspoon Greek seasoning or dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Hollow out the mushrooms and reserve the mushroom stems for another use.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a glass baking dish and put the dish in the oven while the oven preheats.
Combine all the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stuff the caps with the filling and place in the hot prepared pan.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.Place on a serving platter.
If the Mushrooms have been in the refrigerator, bring them to room temperature for an hour before cooking.
They may need to be baked a little longer.
Mini Crab Puffs with Remoulade Sauce
The crab puffs can be baked ahead, refrigerated and reheated just before game time.
1/2 pound fresh crab meat
2 tablespoons minced bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 scallion, minced
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon crab seasoning (recommended Old Bay)
2 tablespoons almond flour or all purpose flour
Combine all the ingredients except the crab in a mixing bowl. Mix well and then fold in the crab meat.
Cover the bowl and chill the mixture until ready to bake.
Coat a mini muffin pan with cooking spray and, using a cookie scoop, fill 15 openings to the top of the muffin cup with the crab mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 -20 minutes until cooked through and lightly golden brown.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and remove to a serving platter.
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a serving dish. Whisk until completely mixed. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
Beef roast and vegetables are slow cooked in a delicious broth until the meat just falls apart in this recipe. Definitely comfort food.
Browning the beef in bacon fat adds much flavor to the meat and you can drain the pot of the fat after the beef is browned and before you add other ingredients, if you prefer.
Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs typical of the Provence region of southeast France. This blend often contains savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano and lavender leaves. These herbs are a delicious addition to stews and braised meats.
You can also add small potatoes to the pot roast, if you wish. Add them to the pot after the roast has cooked about 1 1/2 hours. Or you can serve this dish with mashed potatoes.
2 1/2 to 3 pound chuck roast
2 tablespoons bacon fat or oil of your choice
Sea salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon dried Herbes de Provence
1 large sweet onion cut in quarters
5 medium (5-6 oz) carrots, peeled and cut in half
5 large stalks celery, cut into thirds
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 1/2 cups unsalted beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F and place the rack to the middle position.
Trim any visible fat on the outside of the roast.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat.
Dry the chuck roast with a paper towel and season both sides well with salt and pepper and the Herbes de Provence.
When the pot is very hot, add the bacon fat and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot.
Brown the chuck roast on one side for 4-5 minutes then flip and brown the other side for another 4-5 minutes. Turn the heat to low.
Place the vegetables in the pot around the browned pot roast. In a large measuring cup,combine the broth, wine and tomato paste.
Mix well and pour over the beef and vegetables. The liquid should be almost to the top of the roast.
If not, add a little more broth until it is. Turn the heat up to medium until the liquid begins to simmer.
Cover the pot and place the pot roast into the oven to cook for 3 hours or until the roast is very tender.
It’s done when a fork pierces easily all the way through the meat and/or it shreds easily with a fork.
Check after 3 hours but it may take as long as 4 depending on how thickly cut the chuck roast is.
Remove the roast and vegetables to a large serving plate with a slotted spoon.
Skim the fat and add enough of your favorite thickener for about 4 cups of liquid.
Cook the gravy, stirring constantly until the liquid thickens.
Slice the meat on the platter and serve the meat and vegetables with the gravy on the side.
Fall weather makes you think casseroles. I like casseroles to be a little unique and not weighed down with heavy cream sauces. I also like to take advantage of some of the fall vegetables and use them in my preparation. Making a meat stuffing that can work for both recipes saves a bit of time. These dishes can be done ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking. They also hold up well in the freezer. So plan ahead.
All Purpose Meat Stuffing for Vegetables
1 lb organic lean ground beef
1 lb organic lean ground pork
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Mexican flavoring, recipe below
Italian flavoring, recipe below
In a large skillet over medium heat, the heat oil. Add the beef and pork. Cook until brown.
Drain the meat and pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the garlic, onion and bell pepper to the skillet; season with salt.
Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetables to the meat and mix well. Place half of the stuffing in another bowl.
Mexican Zucchini Casserole
I saw a video on Facebook from Delish that made zucchini enchiladas and decided to create my own, easy version with more vegetables and a homemade red enchilada sauce.
Half of the meat stuffing recipe from above
1 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 cups red enchilada sauce, recipe below
2 cups Shredded Monterey Jack/Cheddar cheese blend, divided
2 large, long zucchini, halved lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Oil a 7×11 inch baking dish
For the Mexican stuffing:
Add the cumin and chili powder to the meat and stir until combined. Stir until incorporated. Set aside.
For the casserole:
On a cutting board, with a sharp knife cut thin lengthwise slices of zucchini.
Place a layer of zucchini slices in the bottom of the dish, about 5 slices per layer, overlapping the slices slightly.
Spoon half of the meat mixture over the zucchini slices. Pour 1 cup of the sauce over the first layer, then sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese.
Repeat with another layer of zucchini and beef mixture.
Spoon remaining enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes more or until bubbly and hot.
Serve with sour cream for a garnish.
Red Enchilada Sauce For Mexican Zucchini Casserole
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon minced dried onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 whole dried chipotle chile peppers
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon honey or other sweetener
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
3 cups unsalted chicken broth
1 bay leaf
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan with a lid. Stir well.
Bring to a low boil, lower the heat to a simmer and place the lid slightly ajar on the pot.
Simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally until reduced and thickened. Remove the dried chipotle peppers and bay leaf.
Taste and adjust the seasonings. If the sauce is a little bitter, add just a touch more sweetener. It will help balance the flavors.
Set aside until ready to assemble the casserole.
Stuffed Cabbage Casserole
Half the meat stuffing from the recipe above
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon dried italian seasoning
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups marinara sauce, recipe below
1 large cabbage
For the stuffing:
Add the egg, Italian seasoning and cheeses to the meat mixture. Add 1 cup marinara sauce and stir well. Set aside.
For the cabbage:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Discard any discolored or broken outer leaves and remove the cabbage core.
Carefully peel off 8 large leaves.
Blanch the cabbage leaves for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (a few at time), until wilted and spread them out on kitchen towels, so that they dry and cool.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and coat a deep casserole dish with cooking spray.
Make the cabbage rolls:
Lay cabbage leaves on the counter. Place a golf ball-sized round of meat mixture on each leaf.
Fold in the sides of the cabbage rolls and wrap cabbage leaf around the filling. Repeat with remaining leaves and mixture.
Place the cabbage rolls in the prepared dish. Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the cabbage. Cover the dish.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to sit for 5 minutes and serve.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup minced onion
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 – 26 oz containers chopped tomatoes without salt or sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and onion. Cook over low until tender.
Add the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pan with the lid ajar.
Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, for about two hours until thickened. Adjust seasoning to taste.
To make really good tasting chicken soup, you need a rich tasting broth. I usually start with the remains of a whole 4 lb chicken that I have either cooked on the grill or in the oven. Remove as much meat as you can, reserve 2-3 cups for the soup and use the remainder of the chicken meat for other dishes. To make the broth even richer, roast the chicken bones in the oven.
Place an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat to 450°F. Spread the bones in a large roasting pan and place the pan in the oven on the lower rack and roast the bones until deeply brown, 45-60 minutes. Transfer the bones to a Dutch Oven or soup pot. Spoon the fat from the juices in the roasting pan and discard. Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium-high heat. When browned bits begin to sizzle, pour in 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour into the pot with the roasted bones.
Add the following:
2 scrubbed carrots, cut in half
1 onion quartered or 1 bunch of scallions
2 celery stalks, cut in thirds
1 large garlic clove, peeled
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 large bay leaf
Add these ingredients to the stockpot with the roasted bones and add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 4 hours.
Remove and discard the large bones and vegetable pieces. Strain the stock in a fine mesh colander lined with a piece of cheesecloth.
Discard the vegetables and bones. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to the souppot.
You can add more seasoning later depending on how you will use the stock. You now have a clear, flavorful stock to make some great soups.
Below are recipes for some of my favorite chicken soups:
Mexican Chicken and Vegetable Soup
3 medium poblano peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup celery, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup chopped orange or yellow bell pepper
1 cup sweet onion, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
8 cups homemade chicken broth, recipe above
14 oz container chopped tomatoes, no sugar or salt added
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
2 cups okra, trimmed and sliced into ½ inch rounds
3 seeded and chopped plum tomatoes
2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken
Toasted tortilla strips (see recipe below) and cheddar cheese for garnish
Roast the poblano peppers over a grill or under the broiler. Cool and remove the skin. Chop and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch Oven and add the garlic, celery, onion, bell pepper and jalapeno pepper.
Cook over low heat until tender.
Add the chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir well. Add the chicken broth and canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
Add the green beans,okra, plum tomatoes and diced poblano peppers.
Lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the cooked chicken and heat.
Serve with toasted tortilla strips and cheddar cheese as a topping for the soup.
Baked Tortilla Strips
8 corn tortillas (6 inch)
Heat the oven to 450°F. Spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray. Cut each tortilla into thin strips; place in a single layer on cookie sheets. Bake about 6 minutes or until crisp but not brown; cool and use to add to the soup.
Chicken Vegetable Soup
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
7 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch diagonal slices
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
6 cup homemade chicken broth, recipe above
2 cups cooked chicken
1 cup cooked noodles, optional
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (for serving)
Add the oil to the soup pot and heat over low heat. Add the onions. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until softened.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the mushrooms, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Add the salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and parsley.
Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more or until the carrots and celery are almost softened.
Add the broth and chicken mixture to the vegetables in the soup pot.
Taste for seasoning and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add cooked noodles, if using and extra cooked chicken, if desired.
Italian Escarole Bean Soup
½ yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups dried white beans (cannellini), soaked overnight in water to cover and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
16 cups chicken broth, recipe above
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 heads of escarole, washed and cut into small pieces
1 cup diced, cooked spicy Italian sausage
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Parmesan cheese for serving
Heat oil in a large Dutch Oven and add the onions, celery and garlic. Cook until tender.
Add the Italian seasoning, the drained cannellini beans and the chicken broth.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cooked the beans for 30 minutes. Add the sausage, salt and escarole.
Let simmer until the escarole wilts. Ladle into soup bowls and top with Parmesan cheese.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 cups water
4 cups homemade chicken broth, recipe above
1 piece of Parmesan cheese rind
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
6 oz fresh spinach or any seasonal greens
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Grated Parmesan, for garnish
Remove stems and wilted leaves on the greens. Wash well in several changes of cold water and chop.
In a large pot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the water, broth, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese rind and salt and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the tortellini until al dente, about 4 minutes for fresh or 12 minutes for frozen. Drain.
Add the spinach to the soup and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the cooked tortellini.
Serve the soup sprinkled with grated Parmesan.
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.
The rub and BBQ sauce can be made in advance, even several days ahead, to save time.
7 to 8 lbs bone-in chicken, cut into 6 or 8 parts
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Two 3.4 oz packages of Cook & Serve chocolate pudding
4 cups almond milk (or milk of your choice)
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup heavy(whipping) cream
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon almond extract
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.
Mediterranean ingredients and flavors are abundant in this dinner. Fish, beans and bread all healthy foods prepared with olive oil and healthy cooking methods. Seasoning is important in making recipes that taste good. Fennel, rosemary, parsley, sage, garlic, preserved lemon and olives all contribute to making these foods taste so good. Don’t leave any of them out and definitely try the bean recipe – it is delicious.
Mediterranean Grilled Salmon
Prepare the bean recipe first and keep warm while you grill the salmon.
1/4 of a preserved lemon, pulp discarded and peel minced
1 scallion, minced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
2 center-cut salmon fillets with skin
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
8 large green olives, such as Cerignola
In a bowl, mix the preserved lemon with the scallion, parsley and 1 tablespoon each of the oil and lemon juice.
Using a sharp knife, make several 1-inch-deep slits in the salmon skin. Rub the preserved lemon mixture on all sides of the salmon. Place in a covered dish and allow to marinate several hours.
Remove the fish from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before grilling. Rub the remaining oil all over the salmon, then drizzle the fish with the remaining lemon juice; season with salt and white pepper.
Light an outdoor grill and oil the grates very well so the fish does not stick.
Grill the salmon, skin side down, over moderate heat until the skin is lightly charred and crisp, 5 minutes.
Turn the salmon and grill until just cooked through, about 2 minutes longer.
Place the fish over the prepared cannellini beans and garnish with chopped parsley. Scatter the olives over the fish.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
8 fresh sage leaves
1 small bulb fennel, halved, cored and thinly sliced, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
1 package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted cut in half if large
2 cups cooked cannellini beans, canned or homemade and drained
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
Combine the onion, garlic, sage, fennel, celery and oil in a deep, wide skillet.
Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the onion and fennel start to soften.
Add the artichoke hearts, the beans, broth and salt. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the red pepper chili flakes. Keep warm.
Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia
1 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup warm water
2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
2 1/4 cups of all-purpose, unbleached flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 large garlic clove minced
2 tablespoons large crystal cut sea salt
1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
Combine all of the dough ingredients in an electric mixer and mix with the paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes, until the dough comes together in a ball around the paddle.
Knead with the dough the hook attachment for 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and coat the exterior with a bit of olive oil and place in a large bowl, covering the bowl with a kitchen towel. The dough should rest for an hour or until it doubles in size.
Use a non-stick vegetable oil spray to lightly grease a large baking dish 10″ x 15″. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil on top of the spray. The olive oil is used for flavor in focaccia.
Gently pull and shape the dough to fit into the bottom of the pan. Don’t pat all the way to the edges of the pan; leave a little room around the perimeter for the dough to expand.
Cover the pan and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes.
Using your fingers poke dimples into the dough, pressing down firmly; your fingers should reach the bottom of the pan without actually breaking through the dough.
Re-cover the dough, and let it rise until it’s noticeably puffy, about 1 hour. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
Drizzle the top of the dough with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary, garlic, black pepper and coarse sea salt.
Place the pan of focaccia onto a middle oven rack and spritz lightly with water. Turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees F.
Bake the focaccia until it’s light golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Remove the focaccia from the oven and immediately turn it out of the pan onto a rack.
Focaccia is delicious hot from the oven or warm and it is best the same day it’s made. But leftovers can be successfully reheated, either as slices in the toaster or in a 350°F oven, just until warmed through.
August means summer and it is a good time to take advantage of all the great produce at the market. Tomatoes are tasting good now, lots of corn around, as well as eggplant, peaches and blueberries. Take advantage of the grill. Pair pasta with lots of vegetables. Make colorful salads. Seafood is in season, so pair it with tomatoes or seasonal vegetables. Lots of delicious meals ahead for the month.
There are several cuts of beef that work well in making steak burgers including: Brisket, Hanger, Short rib, Steak tail and/or Sirloin and when combined with chuck or each other, they can create some of the best-tasting Burgers around. Get creative with your toppings. While bacon and cheese are ever popular, I like to create healthier toppings from what is seasonally available. So my toppings incorporate tomatoes, peppers and onions.
You can actually roast the peppers on the grill. After the grill is heated, oil the grates and place the peppers directly on the hot grill. Rotate them as they blacken. As soon as all the sides are blackened, place the peppers in a paper bag to cool. when they are cool enough to touch, remove the stem and seeds and pull off the skin. The peppers are then ready to place on top of the burgers.
Serve these burgers with a Greek Salad.
- 1 1/3 lbs grass-fed organic ground beef steak for burgers
- Steak seasoning (I like Penzey’s Chicago seasoning)
- 4 sturdy burger rolls (recipe link for my homemade rolls)
- 1/2 cup tomato jam (recipe link)
- 2 whole roasted red peppers
- 1 medium onion sliced and sautéed in butter
Shape the meat into four equal patties. If you want to make just two servings, freeze two of the burgers for another time.
Sprinkle the steak seasoning on both sides of the patties and spray each with olive oil cooking spray.
Heat an outdoor grill on high. Oil the grill grates. Place burgers on the grill, cover, cook turning once, for 8 minutes total.
Toast the rolls at the same time. Place the burgers on the bottom half of the rolls.
Assemble the burgers by placing 2 tablespoons of tomato jam on each patty, then one-quarter of the onions and top each with half of a roasted red pepper. Place the roll tops on the burgers and serve.
Greek Vegetable Salad
For 2 servings
- Half of a red onion, thinly sliced
- 8 pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 4 Tuscan pickled peppers
- Half of a cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon agave syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large salad bowl, combine the onion, olives, bell peppers, Tuscan peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and feta cheese.
Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, agave and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, toss and serve.
Creamy Zucchini Pasta
Serve with Stuffed Tomatoes, recipe below.
- Salt to taste
- 8 ounces penne or other short pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small sweet onion
- 1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
- 1 large zucchini, about one pound
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or a combination of herbs you like
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.
Slice the zucchini into ½ inch circles and then cut each circle into little logs.
Cut the onion in the same manner, so that the pieces are about the same size as the zucchini.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the garlic, stir and, then, add the zucchini.
Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender. Do not let it brown.
Add the chile flakes and stir. Add the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook on low heat until thickened a bit.
Stir the basil into the sauce, add the cooked pasta and let the pasta cook in the sauce for a minute or two.
Turn off the heat. Toss with the Parmesan cheese and serve.
- 2 vine-ripened medium-sized tomatoes
- 1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the pulp and seeds.
Salt the insides of the tomato shells and set upside down on a paper towel to drain, about 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix together the panko breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs, 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese and the oil.
Stuff the tomatoes with the filling, sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
Place the tomatoes in a small oiled baking dish and bake the tomatoes until cooked through and the tops are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
For the corn stock ingredients
- 12 corn cobs (corn kernels removed and set aside for the chowder)
- 2 chive stalks
- 2 stems fresh parsley
- 2 stems fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
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 low, cover the pot and simmer for 1 1⁄2 hours. Strain, discard the solids and measure the broth.
If you do not have 6 cups add water to make the 6 cups. Set aside the broth.
For the chowder ingredients
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 leeks, white and light green sections, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
- 1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
- 6 cups fresh corn kernels, divided
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup half-and-half or evaporated milk
- 6 cups corn stock or vegetable broth if you don’t make the corn stock
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Grated cheddar cheese, chopped chives or crumbled bacon, for garnish
Heat the butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot.
Add the leeks, celery, carrots, bell pepper, jalapeno and potatoes to the pot and saute for ten minutes until soft.
Add 3 cups of the corn, the 6 cups corn stock, chili powder and the thyme.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for an hour. Remove the thyme branches.
Take the pot off the heat and puree the contents with an immersion blender.
Add the half and half, salt and pepper to taste and the remaining 3 cups of corn.
Return the pot to the heat and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes.
Gulf of Maine Redfish Poached in Puttanesca Sauce
Acadian Redfish, also known as ocean perch, are caught in the Gulf of Maine (deep waters off the coasts of Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire). The fish I purchased is certified, wild caught and sustainable. Fish cooked this way is so tasty and tender.
- 1 ¼ pounds Maine redfish of other boneless white fish fillets, cut into 4 equal pieces
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 small onion or 1 large shallot, diced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 3 tablespoons dry red wine
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 tablespoons capers
- 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 2 cups seeded and finely diced fresh plum tomatoes, about 8-9
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper chile flakes
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 3 oz thin spaghetti or linguine
For the puttanesca sauce
Heat the oil in a medium saute pan with a cover over medium-high heat until hot.
Saute the onions and garlic until translucent, about 2 minutes, and then stir in the wine, olives, capers and anchovy paste, tossing to combine.
Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, stir in the tomato paste, followed by the oregano and red pepper flakes.
Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Cook the pasta al dente. Drain
For the fillets
Dry the fillets well with paper towels. Score the skin of each fillet three times with a sharp knife.
Sprinkle with salt.
Bring the sauce to a boil, again. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the fish fillets, skin side down.
Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 6 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Sprinkle with the parsley.
Divide the pasta between two plates and place the fish and sauce over the pasta to serve.