Springtime means ham and lamb in the meat department. They are often on sale now in the market or from your local farm. Ham is always a good buy and supplies plenty of leftovers for several meals. Spring also brings us lots of new vegetables and fruits, so I look forward to using them and developing new recipes with them. I am especially taken with my newly discovered rutabagas. They are very similar to potatoes but contain many less carbs. I decided to try making my potato salad recipe with them and it turned out very well and so delicious. Fennel is also in season and there are so many good ways to prepare it, either cooked or raw. Try out some new vegetables this week and see how you like them.
Glazed Spiral-Sliced Ham
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
5 lb Spiral Cut Fully Cooked Ham
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Place the ham cut side down onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Mix together the brown sugar, apricot jam and mustard in a small bowl. Brush half of the glaze onto the ham using a pastry brush.
Reserve the remaining glaze. Enclose the foil around the ham and place on a rimmed baking sheet also covered with foil (for easy cleanup).
Roast for 75 minutes in the preheated oven, or if your ham is a different size, figure 15 minutes per pound.
Take the ham out of the oven, pull the foil away and brush the remaining glaze onto the ham.
Place the ham back in the oven without enclosing it in the foil.
Bake 15-20 minutes more or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 140°F. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Rutabaga “Potato Style” Salad
1 ½ lbs rutabaga or red potatoes, peeled
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pickle juice
1/4 cup minced bread and butter pickles
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion or scallions
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Cut the rutabaga or potato into thin slices, about 1 x 1 inch, or cut the vegetables into cubes if you prefer that cut.
Place the rutabaga in a large pot with a lid. Cover with cold water and add 1 teaspoon salt.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook with the lid ajar about 15-20 minutes until the rutabaga is fork tender.
Drain and place the rutabaga in a medium serving 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.
Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.
Sprinkle the top with some chopped parsley and a little paprika, if you would like to garnish the salad before serving it.
Fennel Salad With Avocado Dressing
2 plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 of a large fennel bulb, cut into one inch cubes
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Avocado Dressing, see link
Combine the tomatoes, fennel, onion and pine nuts in a medium serving bowl. Add a few tablespoons of dressing to the top of the salad.
Serve with the remaining Avocado dressing on the side.
My 2017 Jeta Farms Community Supported Agriculture shares started at the end of May with lots of fresh, just picked produce. So far this season, there has been a regular supply of Silver King Corn, sweet onions, cucumbers, green beans, squash of all types, tomatoes, eggplant, red potatoes, blueberries, blackberries and peppers. Looking forward to the rest of the season.
Grilled Patty Pan Squash
2 large patty pan squashes
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat an outdoor grill and brush the grates with oil.
Cut each squash in half. Brush all sides of the squash with the pesto and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper,
Place on the grill and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the squashes over and cook another 5 minutes.
They should be tender but cook a minute or two longer, it they are not.
Place the grilled squash on a severing dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Summer Potato Salad
1 ½ lbs medium red potatoes
2 tablespoons pickle juice
1/2 cup finely diced sweet onion
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced bread and butter pickle slices
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water just until tender, about 10-12 minutes.
Drain and let the potatoes cool until they can be handled without burning your hands.
Peel the potatoes and slice thinly into a storage bowl. Add the pickle juice, stir and set aside for 30 minutes.
Add the onion, celery and pickles. Stir well and add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix together the mayonnaise and mustard and stir into the potato mixture. Garnish with parsley.
Chill the salad before serving.
Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles
2 quart jars with lids ( I use recycled pickle jars)
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
5–6 pickling (Kirby) cucumbers
Place the pickling spice in the boiling water. Take the pan off the heat.
After the pickling spices have steeped for 10 minutes in the boiling water, add the vinegar, sugar and salt and stir well.
Let the mixture cool to lukewarm.
Then, strain the mixture into a large measuring cup and discard the solids.
Trim the ends of the cucumbers, discard and slice the cucumbers into ¼ inch slices.
Firmly pack layers of onions and cucumbers into two clean quart jars.
Once the jars are full, pour the strained vinegar mixture into the filled jars all the way to the very top.
Put the lids on and close tightly. Turn the jars over onto a kitchen towel and let them sit for a half an hour.
Return the jars to an upright position and put them in the refrigerator.
After about 24 hours the cucumbers will begin to change color a bit – that is when they are ready to eat and they should last about a month in the refrigerator.
Oven Baked ”Fried” Green Tomatoes
2 to 3 medium-sized green tomatoes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Cajun spice
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a cookie sheet.
Place the flour mixed with Cajun seasoning in one shallow dish.
Add the egg to a second dish. Add a tablespoon of water and mix well.
Place the panko crumbs, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a third shallow dish.
Cut the tomatoes into ½ inch thick slices and pat dry with paper towels.
Sprinkle the tomato slices evenly with salt and pepper.
Dredge the tomato slices in the flour, then the egg and then in the panko mixture to coat evenly.
Place the breaded tomatoes on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, turning the tomatoes over with a with spatula after 10 minutes.
Serve with your favorite sauce.
Italian Frying Peppers
6-8 Italian frying peppers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove smashed and cut in half
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning.
Pinch of salt and pepper
Heat oil and garlic in a small saute pan. Lower the heat and add the whole peppers.
Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Saute slowly until lightly brown on all sides.
Serve at room temperature. These peppers are delicious as an appetizer, on a sandwich or as a side dish.
I almost always make these blueberry muffins with the farm’s sweet berries.
Makes 12 – 15 muffins depending on the size of your muffin pan.
2 1/4 cups (9 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) fresh blueberries
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat the oven to 400°F and lightly grease a 12-15 cup muffin pan.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a hand-held or stand mixer, until light and fluffy and almost white in color.
Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix until incorporated.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed just until the batter is smooth. Fold in the berries by hand.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, using 1/4-cup for each muffin.
To make the topping:
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over the muffins.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove them from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a wire rack.
Now that summer is here in my part of the world, the swimming pool is in full swing. I know that it is probably not summer hot in May where you live, but here is it about 85-86 degrees every day. The 90s will be here next month. This time of year, I like to invite friends over for swimming and either lunch or a BBQ supper. Lunch is a good idea because it can be served easily poolside and most of the food preparation can be done in advance. Seasonal soups are always a big hit with my friends. I usually like to prepare a sandwich or a salad that complements the soup. Here are some of my ideas for lunch that you can make for your family or for guests.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 leeks, white and light green sections, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 red or orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
- 6 cups fresh corn kernels, divided
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 4 cups vegetable 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 and potatoes to the pot and saute for ten minutes until soft.
Add 3 cups of the corn, the vegetable broth, 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.
Remove the pot from 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.
Serve in individual soup bowls with any or all of the garnishes.
Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches
For each sandwich
- One 3-4 inch square of Eggplant Parmesan
- Recipe for Eggplant Parmesan: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2016/05/18/what-to-cook-this-week/
- One slice mozzarella cheese, cut to fit the sandwich
- 1 ciabatta roll, sliced in half
Heat the oven to 350 F.
Place the eggplant on the bottom half of a ciabatta roll. Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese and the roll top.
Wrap the sandwich in foil and place on a baking tray. Bake the sandwich for 15 minutes or until hot and the cheese has melted.
Cut the sandwich in two and serve with Tuscan peppers and olives.
Fresh Tomato Basil Soup
- 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup chopped sweet onion
- 3/4 cup chopped celery
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 2 pounds plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
- Thinly sliced fresh basil for garnish
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender. Stir in salt and pepper and the cream. Return the pot to low heat and warm the soup. Do not boil.
Serve in individual soup bowls with basil for a garnish.
- 1 refrigerated or frozen deep dish pie crust, at room temperature
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ cups fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined and diced
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay (seafood) seasoning
- ½ cup jarred roasted red peppers, diced
- 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or white wine
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1⁄2 cups grated cheddar cheese or your favorite cheese
- Hot sauce, a few dashes
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Fit the pastry into a 9 inch pie pan coated with cooking spray and flute the edges. Place the pan on a baking sheet.
Cook the shallots in the butter for 1-2 minutes over moderate heat until tender, but not browned.
Add the shrimp and stir gently for 1 minute. Sprinkle on the seafood seasoning.
Add the wine, raise the heat and boil for a minute. Allow to cool slightly. Stir in the roasted red peppers.
Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with the cream, tomato paste and hot sauce. Gradually fold in the cooled shrimp mixture.
Spread 1 cup of the cheese on the bottom of the pie crust.
Pour the shrimp mixture into the pastry shell and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
Bake in the upper third of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the pie has puffed and browned on the top.
Cool for 15 minutes before cutting.
Fresh seasonal produce and temperatures above normal are reasons to fix a satisfying salad for dinner. Most greens are great sources of folate and of vitamin C, which promotes healthy skin and a healthy immune system. Popular salad additions, such as tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and bell peppers, provide an abundance of vitamins.
Most people think of salads as a first course or a side dish served with dinner. However, by adding some great toppings like grilled steak, poached chicken, boiled eggs or cold shrimp you can take any salad and turn it into a meal. Moreover, salad doesn’t always have to be about leafy greens either — many are made with beans or grains like quinoa, bulgur, barley or farro. You can vary a salad’s flavor by changing the dressing or vinaigrette. Add some crunch to your salads by adding some fresh, raw sweet corn cut off the cob, or toasted nuts or homemade croutons. Now you have a great dinner.
Steak Salad with Blue Cheese
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. flank or skirt steak, trimmed and cut in half
- 4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium red onion, sliced crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 6 oz. baby greens (6 packed cups)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare a medium-high (400°F) gas or charcoal grill fire. Oil the grill grates.
In a baking dish just large enough to hold the steak, combine the Worcestershire sauce and 2 teaspoons olive oil.
Add the steak and turn to coat both sides.
Combine the vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the 1/4 cup olive oil.
Season the steak with salt and pepper and grill, turning once, 3 to 5 minutes total for medium rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes.
Toss the greens, onions and tomatoes with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly and divide the mixture among 4 serving plates.
Slice the steak across the grain and arrange both over the greens. Sprinkle the blue cheese over the salad, drizzle with additional dressing and serve.
Italian Rice Salad
- Garlic Vinaigrette (recipe below)
- 3 cups cooked, slightly warm basmati rice (directions below)
- 1 cup chopped red, green and/or orange sweet bell pepper
- One 6 ounce jar quartered marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- 1/3 cup chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup pitted olives, halved
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- Mixed salad greens, mesclun or torn romaine
- Fresh basil leaves
Prepare the Garlic Vinaigrette; set aside.
To cook the rice:
Place 1 cup uncooked basmati or long grain white rice in a fine mesh sieve. Run cool water over the rice for several minutes; drain well.
In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to boiling. Slowly add the rice and return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from the heat and let cool about 15 minutes. Makes 3 cups.
In a large bowl, combine rice, bell pepper, artichokes, red onion, olives and capers. Stir vinaigrette and drizzle over the rice mixture; toss gently to coat.
Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Serve rice salad on a bed of salad greens and garnish with basil.
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon snipped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon snipped fresh oregano
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, parsley, vinegar, sea salt, black pepper, basil, oregano and garlic. Makes about 3/4 cup.
Asparagus and Shrimp Salad
- 1 pound fresh or frozen medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
- 2 tablespoons orange juice plus 1/3 cup
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
- 3-4 oranges
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 6 cups torn mixed salad greens
- 2 oz. sliced prosciutto
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions
Remove a 1/2 teaspoon of zest from one of the oranges. Peel oranges. Working over a bowl, cut oranges into sections and dice them; reserve 2 tablespoons and 1/3 cup of the juice. (If necessary, add additional orange juice to make the 1/3 cup.)
In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to boiling. Add shrimp; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 to 2 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Drain in colander. Rinse with cold water; drain again and pat dry with paper towels. Transfer shrimp to a bowl. Add orange peel and the 2 tablespoons orange juice; toss gently to coat.
In a covered medium saucepan, cook asparagus in a small amount of boiling water for 4 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain in colander. Rinse with cold water; drain again and pat dry with paper towels.
In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/3 cup orange juice, the oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine shrimp, asparagus, diced oranges, prosciutto, greens and green onions. Pour dressing over all; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.
Mediterranean Chicken Salad
- Lemon Dressing, recipe below
- 12 ounces chicken tenders
- 8 cups mixed baby greens
- One 16 ounce jar pickled mixed vegetables (giardiniera), drained and blotted dry with paper towels
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 cup homemade croutons (directions below)
For the croutons:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Remove crusts from 2-3 hearty country bread slices. Brush bread on both sides with olive oil. Cut bread slices up into small cubes.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until browned. Let cool.
Brush 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing on the chicken tenders. Lightly sprinkle with black pepper.
Heat a grill pan over medium high heat; add chicken. Reduce heat to medium. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, turning once or until no pink remains. Slice chicken tenders in bite-size chunks.
In a salad bowl toss together the greens, chicken, giardiniera, olives, feta cheese and remaining dressing. Top with croutons and serve.
- 1 large clove of garlic, squeezed through a garlic press
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix together the ingredients and set aside.
Pasta Salad with Tuna and Summer Vegetables
6 main-dish servings
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lb. campanelle or fusilli pasta
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 medium yellow squash
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 large cans or pouches of tuna in water
Heat a large covered pan of salted water to boiling on high. Add pasta; cook al dente.
Trim zucchini and squash, cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut into thin slices crosswise. Slice tomatoes in half. Slice olives in half and finely chop parsley.
In a large serving bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; stir in tomatoes.
Drain pasta well. Add to the tomato mixture along with the tuna, zucchini, squash, olives and parsley. Toss until well mixed. Chill before serving.
Winter is the time of year when we crave warm, home-cooked food. We love getting cozy with a variety of winter comfort food recipes, from mashed potatoes and gratins to mac n’ cheese.
Comforting or not, though, those classics are typically loaded with butter, milk, heavy cream and refined carbohydrates, piling on pounds that can stick around long past the winter thaw. But you don’t have to give up on comfort food just yet.
Hot and hearty sandwiches are the best of all worlds on chilly days: filling, warming and easy to eat. They can be delicious, yet healthy. Whether you grab a bite as you’re rushing around or fix yourself a dinner plate, the following Italian sandwich recipes will give you comfort.
- Two 6-ounce cans albacore tuna
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced basil
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 ciabatta rolls, split
- Dijon mustard
- Eight 1/4-inch-thick slices of Mozzarella or Fontina cheese (6 ounces)
- Sliced bread and butter pickles, optional
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
In a medium bowl, mix the tuna with the onion, olive oil, vinegar, basil and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a panini press or griddle.
Spread the cut sides of the rolls with mustard and top each roll half with a slice of cheese. Spread the tuna mixture on the bottoms and add a few pickles slices, if desired.
Close the sandwiches and spread the outsides of the rolls with the butter.
Place the sandwiches in the press and cook over moderate heat until the cheese is melted, about 6 minutes. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.
Grilled Chicken, Tomato and Onion Sandwiches
- 3 ounces pitted mixed olives (1 cup)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/3 inch thick slices
- 1 Vidalia onion (or any sweet onion), cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 4 crusty rolls, such as ciabatta, sourdough or hero, split horizontally
- 1 1/2 pounds thin chicken cutlets
Heat a stove top grill pan.
In a mini food processor, pulse the pitted olives with the crushed garlic and oregano until chopped. Add the 1/4 cup of olive oil and pulse until finely chopped. Season with pepper.
Brush the, chicken, tomatoes, onion and cut sides of the rolls with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Grill the tomatoes and onion over high heat until they are softened and lightly charred, about 2 minutes for the tomatoes and 6 minutes for the onion. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Grill the bread until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes Remove to a plate.
Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper and grill them, turning occasionally, until they are lightly browned in spots and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.
Cut the chicken cutlets to fit the toasted rolls and top with the sliced tomatoes, sliced onion and olive relish. Close the sandwiches, cut them in half and serve.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1 pound red bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- 6 Italian chicken sausages, about 5 ounces each
- 3 long hero rolls, split lengthwise
Heat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Heat a large skillet and add the oil, bell peppers, onion, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are softened and just beginning to brown, 6 minutes. Place the vegetables in a heatproof bowl, cover with foil and keep warm in the oven while you cook the sausages.
Prick the sausages with a knife and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until no trace of pink remains, about 10 minutes.
Add the sausages to the vegetables and keep warm.
Brush the rolls with oil and toast under the broiler. Fill the rolls with the sausages and peppers, cut each one in half and serve.
Eggplant Parm Sandwiches
- One 28-ounce can whole Italian tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing the baking pan
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
- 2-pounds of eggplant, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 4 long hero rolls, cut in half and split lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes with their juices, garlic and the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season the sauce with salt. Set aside.
Brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil.
Put the eggs and bread crumbs in 2 separate shallow bowls. Working with 1 slice of eggplant at a time, dip the slice in the egg, letting any excess drip back into the bowl, then coat with the bread crumbs. Place the slice of eggplant on one of the baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices. You may need a third baking sheet.
Bake the eggplant slices until lightly brown, about 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Lightly oil a 10-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with a single layer of eggplant. Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over the eggplant. Top with a few mozzarella slices and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the parmesan. Tear one-third of the basil leaves and place over the cheese.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients for a total of 4 layers, ending with a layer of eggplant and a thick layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top.
Wrap the entire pan in foil and set it on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake the eggplant for about 1 hour, until heated through.
Increase the oven temperature to 400°. Remove the foil from the top of the pan and bake for about 10 minutes longer, until lightly browned on top.
Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.
Cut wedges of eggplant to fit the rolls and serve.
Pepper Pork and Fennel Sandwiches
Aleppo chili pepper comes from Syrian town of Aleppo, just east of the Turkish border. These red chilies are also known in the Mediterranean region as halaby peppers. Moderately hot, the crushed, dried peppers are celebrated for their rich, fruity flavor that’s sometimes described as a cross between cumin and cayenne. It has a moderate heat level with a hint of a vinegar, salty taste. Aleppo pepper offers a nice variation from your usual crushed red pepper flakes.
- 3 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/4 cup Aleppo pepper
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large fennel bulb—trimmed, cored and very thinly sliced
- 4 cups (packed) arugula
- 6 toasted ciabatta rolls, split, for serving
Make 6 cuts in the pork, 1 inch apart, cutting most of the way through the meat. Rub the pork all over with the salt. Rub the pork with the garlic and then with the Aleppo pepper, covering the meat completely. Wrap the pork in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Set the pork in a baking dish just large enough to hold it and add 1/4 cup of water. Cover the pork with parchment paper and then cover tightly with foil. Bake for about 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.
Pour all but 1/4 cup of the roasting juices into a bowl and reserve. Drizzle the pork with the vinegar, cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and let it rest, covered in the pan, for 10 minutes. Remove the pork to a cutting board.
Combine the pan juices with the reserved juices in a microwave safe bowl.
In a large bowl, stir the olive oil with the lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper. Add the fennel and arugula and toss.
Brush the rolls with oil and toast under the broiler.
Discard any fat and gristle from the pork. Reheat the juices in the microwave or in a pan.
Shred the meat and toss with the hot pan juices.
Pile the meat on the rolls, top with the fennel salad and serve.
Cucumbers are in season and they are plentiful at the Farmers’ Market. Want to make something other than cucumber salad? Try pickles. Making pickles isn’t complicated. You can preserve homemade pickles using three basic methods: lactic fermentation (cured with a salt brine), canning (soaked in pickling lime) or refrigeration (immersed in a vinegar solution).
Many enthusiasts swear fermentation yields a better pickle than the pickles made with vinegar. They are also called “crock pickles” or “brine pickles”.
Place the recipe ingredients inside the crock. Make the pickle brine and pour into the crock. Cover with a weight to keep food submerged and drape with a towel to keep out the dust. Ferment at room temperature for 2 or more weeks. Check container daily and skim any scum from the top. Fermentation bubbles may be visible. Taste pickles regularly.
When the pickles reach a flavor you like, you have three options for storing them:
1. Refrigerate to slow fermentation. Pickles should last 4 to 6 months this way. Note that pickled vegetables last longer than pickled fruits, which generally keep well for only 2 to 3 months.
2. Store in a dark, cool spot, such as the basement, where your homemade pickles will continue to ferment but should stay safe for several months.
3. Can fermented pickles for extended storage. The heat of canning compromises their crisp texture and kills the beneficial bacteria, but the flavor will remain. Canned fermented food could last a couple of years.
Kosher Dill Pickles
This recipe, adapted from, The Joy of Pickling, uses grape, oak or sour cherry leaves, which contain tannins believed to help keep fermented homemade pickles crisp. Store-bought, canned grape leaves will also work. Yield: 1 gallon.
Clean, gallon-sized glass jar or ceramic crock
Gallon-sized plastic bag or fitted crock weights
- 1 handful clean grape, oak or sour cherry leaves
- Approximately 6 pounds of 4- to 5-inch unwaxed pickling cucumbers (preferably freshly picked), scrubbed and rinsed
- Peeled cloves from 2 to 3 heads of garlic
- 2 quarts water
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 6 tablespoons unrefined sea salt or pickling salt
- 1/4 cup dill seed or 2 handfuls dill fronds
Place the leaves in the bottom of a clean crock. Slice blossom ends off the cucumbers and pack cucumbers into the crock, smallest ones first, adding garlic cloves throughout. Do not fill the crock more than two-thirds full.
In a separate container, stir together water, vinegar, salt and dill until salt dissolves. Pour this brine over the cucumbers until the liquid is an inch above the cucumbers when you’re pressing them down. If your crock has weights, set them on top of the cucumbers to submerge them. If you don’t have special weights, fill a gallon-sized plastic bag with water and set it on top to keep cucumbers submerged. Cover the crock with towel to keep out dust.
Ferment pickles for 1 to 4 weeks at room temperature, checking crock daily. Scum may develop on top; this is normal. Carefully lift off the weight and rinse it to remove scum. Skim scum from the top of the container before replacing the weight and towel. Do this daily.
You may notice bubbles after the first few days, indicating lactic fermentation is underway. After a week, begin tasting the pickles daily. Keep fermenting until you enjoy the flavor.
To store, place crock in a cool, dry, dark spot (the basement, for example), or remove pickles to smaller, lidded containers in the refrigerator. (If using metal lids, place a piece of plastic wrap between the container and the lid.) You may rinse fermented pickles and cover them with fresh pickle brine and seasonings or strain and reuse the original brine. The pickle flavor will improve after about a month in cooler conditions.
Note: If pickles become slimy or moldy during fermentation, discard them and try again.
Canned Vinegar Pickles
(If you are new to canning methods, the Ball Canning Company has excellent directions. visit their website at http://www.freshpreserving.com/getting-started)
Most modern pickling recipes rely on an acetic acid (vinegar) solution and heat treatment to preserve the vegetables. Vinegar pickles can be sweet, spicy or extremely sour. Popular examples include bread-and-butter pickles, sour gherkins and dill beans. You must use vinegar with at least 5 percent acidity to produce pickles that are safe for long-term storage.
Distilled white vinegar is the best choice because it’s inexpensive and won’t darken the cucumbers and its flavor is mild in comparison to cider, malt or wine vinegars. Avoid using rice vinegar and homemade vinegars, because their acidity is usually too weak. Always use canning recipes that have been tested for safety.
Heat vinegar, water and seasonings to make a brine. Pack whole or chopped ingredients into sterilized canning jars. Cover with hot brine, leaving appropriate head space. Apply lids and rings. Process jars in a boiling water bath.
Vinegar-Preserved Old-Fashioned Lime Pickles
This combination of ingredients and techniques makes a super-crisp, complex flavored sweet-and-sour pickle. Pre-soaking cucumbers in pickling lime keeps them very crisp.
Yield: 4 quarts.
4 quart-sized canning jars with lids and rings
Water bath canner with rack
Approximately 6 pounds of 4- to 5-inch unwaxed pickling cucumbers (preferably freshly picked), scrubbed and rinsed
- 1 cup food-grade pickling lime (calcium hydroxide)
- 1/2 cup pickling salt
- 1 gallon cold water
- 2 quarts cider or white wine vinegar (minimum 5 percent acidity; cider vinegar will darken pickles)
- 6 cups granulated sugar or 5-1⁄4 cups honey (honey will darken the brine)
- 2-1⁄2 teaspoons unrefined sea salt or pickling salt
- 2 teaspoons mixed pickling spice, store-bought or homemade
- 3 pounds white or yellow onions, diced
Homemade Pickling Spice
Enclose the spices in cheesecloth and close the top with kitchen string.
- 1-inch cinnamon stick
- 1-inch piece of turmeric root, peeled, or 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small, whole, dried chile pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed, dried chile pepper
- 1 teaspoon dill seed
- 1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
To prepare cucumbers for soaking:
Cut them into quarter-inch slices and discard the ends. In a 2-gallon or larger non reactive (glass, plastic or ceramic) container mix pickling lime with salt and water. Add cucumbers and soak for 12 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Scoop slices from lime solution, rinse in a colander and soak for 1 hour in fresh, cold water. Repeat rinsing and soaking in cold water at least two more times to completely remove the pickling lime. Drain well.
In a large pot, whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt and pickling spice or your homemade spice packet. Add onions. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes to make a syrup.
Sterilize 4 quart-sized canning jars and lids in boiling water. Pack cucumbers and onions into the jars and pour hot syrup over them, leaving a half-inch head space. Use a knife or chopstick to eliminate air bubbles. Wipe jar rims clean. Apply lids and rings.
The pickles can be canned via low-temperature pasteurization to avoid the higher heat that softens them.
Fill the canner halfway with water and heat to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Set filled jars in the canner and continually monitor water temperature for 30 minutes. Make adjustments to maintain 180 degrees for the duration. The thermometer reading should never exceed 185 degrees. (Learn more about how to make pickles using the low-temperature pasteurization method at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.)
Alternatively, process jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. The flavor of vinegar pickles will improve after about a month in storage.
Sometimes called “quick pickles,” refrigerator pickles are technically vinegar pickles minus the canning. You can adjust a refrigerator pickle recipe — to use less salt or sugar or none at all — without food-safety fears. Refrigerator pickles stay crisp because the cucumbers are not subjected to heat. Making pickles using this method is fast and they are typically ready to eat within a day but should be consumed within a few months.
Prepare vinegar solution and pour over sliced vegetables. Cover and refrigerate.
Easy Refrigerator Pickles
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dill seed
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves
- 6 pickling cucumbers
- 3/4 ounce fresh dill
Combine water, vinegar, sugar, kosher salt, peppercorns, dill seed, mustard seeds and garlic in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; stir.
Quarter pickling cucumbers lengthwise or in thick round circles and place in a 1 quart glass jar; add fresh dill. Top with hot vinegar mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Pickles will be ready to eat the next day and will stay good for roughly a month.
Any combination of vegetables can be used in place of the cucumbers in the easy refrigerator pickle recipe. Here are a few examples:
- 6 Kirby cucumbers, quartered lengthwise
- 6 young spring carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
- 1 handful large scallion pieces or green beans
- A few pieces of cauliflower
- 4 small hot red chiles or 2 jalapenos
Interested in learning how to prepare Nordic Food? Here is your chance.
From September 13-20, 2014, New York City will be hosting the second annual NORTH Food Festival. You can attend one of the elegant dinners or attend the first ever Nordic Hot Dog Championship where Chefs battle it out for the prestigious title of Nordic Hot Dog Champion. If you will be in the area, you may want to sign up for some cooking classes. Here are just two of the featured classes. The remainder are listed on the website.
Cooking Lessons on Preparing Nordic Seafood
Cooking Lessons on Nordic Pastry Making
Here is a Video from the 2013 Festival to pique your interest.
For more information on the North Food Festival: