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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: potatoes

Pork Chops

Ingredients

3–4 pork chops (1 lb) 3/4 inch thick
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup homemade BBQ sauce (see recipe below) or your favorite brand

Directions

Prepare an outdoor grill for high direct heat and indirect heat. Oil the grates.

Trim off excess fat and pepper both sides of the pork chops.

Place the pork chops on the grill over direct high heat with the lid closed. Cook for 2 minutes.

Turn the pork chops over and continue grilling, lid closed, for another 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium-low on a gas grill or move the chops to a cooler portion of a charcoal grill.

Brush a liberal amount of barbecue sauce on the chops and then turn them over. Brush more barbecue sauce on the top side.

Cook for another 2 or 3 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chops are 145° F.

Remove the pork chops from the grill to a serving platter and let rest for about 5 minutes.

BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

26 oz container strained or crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground yellow mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer. Cook, uncovered, until thick about 1 ½ hours. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

4 servings

Ingredients

1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
Salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Mash the potatoes, adding the buttermilk until moist and the consistency that you like. Season with additional salt if needed. Add the chives and serve..

Garlicky Sautéed Greens

4 Servings

Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups (packed) stemmed and roughly chopped swiss chard or other greens
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Heat garlic and oil in large skillet over medium-low heat until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and reserve.

Add the Swiss chard, red pepper flakes, and salt to empty skillet. Using tongs, turn greens until wilted enough to fit in the pan.

Raise the heat to medium, cover, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, tossing a few times during the cooking process. Transfer the greens to a colander to drain.

Return to them to the pan, turn the heat to low and toss with the reserved garlic and oil mixture.when hot, transfer to a serving bowl.

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Beef Pot Roast

Ingredients

3 lb chuck beef roast
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups beef broth

1 large sweet onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

Directions

In a small bowl combine the sea salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, thyme, and onion powder. Mix together. Rub seasoning mixture all over the roast.

Heat a large Dutch Oven over high and add the oil. Sear the roast on both sides until browned.

Pour the beef broth over the roast. Sprinkle minced garlic over the top and add the onions. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower heat to low.

Cook for 60 minutes, turn the roast over and add the carrots and mushrooms. Cover and cook for 2-3 hours more or until the meat is falling apart tender.

Remove the carrots and roast from the pot and place on a serving platter. Cover with foil and let rest while you thicken the gravy.

In a small bowl combine: arrowroot powder and cold water. Stir until mixed.

Bring the sauce in the pot to a boil and pour in the arrowroot powder mixture. Boil and stir until the sauce thickens. Turn down the heat to very low.

Slice the roast and serve with the carrots and hot gravy.

Swiss Chard and Mashed Rutabaga

You may use two Yukon gold or one large baking potato instead of the rutabaga in this recipe.

For the Swiss Chard

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
2 large bunches of Swiss chard, washed in several changes of water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste

For the rutabaga

1 medium rutabaga
Salt
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions for the Swiss Chard

Drain the washed chard very well. With a knife, remove the chard stems that run up the middle of each leaf. Cut the leaves into smaller pieces.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and black pepper.

Heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are tender.

Add the chard leaves and cook, covered, for 5 minutes until the leaves are wilted and brightly colored. Add a tablespoon of water to the pan if it seems like the leaves are getting too dry.

Add salt to taste and set aside.

Directions for the Rutabaga

Peel the rutabaga. Cut into ½ inch diced pieces. Place the rutabaga in a medium saucepan with a cover.

Add the chicken broth, garlic, and a little salt to taste. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook until very soft, about 45 minutes.

Drain the rutabaga over a bowl and reserve the broth for soup. Return the cooked rutabaga to pan and mash with a potato masher. Add the olive oil.

To finish the dish

Stir the mashed rutabaga or potato into the Swiss chard. Heat the mixture over low heat, cover the pan and let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes until the chard is very tender. Serve with the pot roast.


Tripoli

The Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal along the north; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel on the east; the African countries of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco on the south and the Mediterranean Island Countries of Cyprus and Malta. The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same healthy ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and about the cuisine in the countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt. This series continues with the country of Libya.


Food in Libya is a very important part of family life. A well-known Libyan saying is “one must eat well”. Libyan cuisine is based on the traditions of the Mediterranean, North Africa, and Berber cuisines. Tripoli is Libya’s capital, and the cuisine in this city is especially influenced by the Italian cuisine. Pasta is common, as are many seafood dishes. Fruits, most often served, include figs, dates, oranges, apricots, and olives.

The sand in Libya gets so hot in the summer that walking on it with bare feet becomes unbearable. As a result, the Tuareg way of baking bread is to bury it in the hot sand, which is as effective as baking in an oven. The technique can also be used to bake potatoes and eggs by burying them whole in the sand and leaving them there for several hours.

Olive oil is the main ingredient of nearly all Libyan dishes. Its use in North Africa goes back thousands of years, and its life-prolonging properties were well-known to the ancient Libyans and Egyptians.


There are four main ingredients in the traditional Libyan cuisine: olives (and olive oil), palm dates, grains, and milk. These are very ancient foods and they have been in the Libyan cuisine since Neolithic times when humans first began to make use of their natural surroundings. Grains are roasted, ground, sieved and used for making bread, cakes, soups, Bazin, and other dough-based dishes. Dates are harvested, dried and stored for the rest of the year. They can be eaten as they are, made into syrup, fried or eaten with milk for breakfast.

Garlic is also one of the most important Libyan foods, as it is usually added to most dishes that involve sauces or stews, especially those served with couscous and pasta.

One of the most important social occasions in Libya is getting together for tea drinking. This activity brings families together, to chat, laugh, discuss and gossip about the highlights of the day and about life in general. Talking in Libya is a very important social activity and it firmly bonds the family. Libyan tea is a very strong, thick, syrup-like black tea. After boiling water in a traditional teapot, a handful of red tea leaves are added, and the leaves are boiled for a long time (about twenty minutes).

Bazin

Bazin is the most well-known Libyan dish. It is made by boiling barley flour in salted water to make a hard dough and then forming it into a rounded, smooth dome that is placed in the middle of a serving dish. The sauce around the dough is made by frying chopped onions with ground lamb, turmeric, salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, fenugreek, sweet paprika and tomato paste. Potatoes may also be added. Hard-boiled eggs are arranged around the dome. The dish is then served with lemon and fresh or pickled chili peppers, known as amsyar. Batata mubattana (filled potato) is another popular dish that consists of fried potato pieces filled with spiced ground meat and covered with egg and breadcrumbs.

Make A Libyan-style Dinner In Your Kitchen

Recipes adapted from http://libyanfood.blogspot.com/

Lentil Soup With Fried Onions

Ingredients

2 cups lentils
5 cups water
2 garlic cloves
1 medium carrot
1 onion
1 large tomato
1/2 -1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon salt

Fried Onions
2 medium onions
Oil for frying

For the Topping
Extra cumin
Toasted bread, cut into cubes or triangles

Directions

Wash and drain the lentils; wash and cut the carrot; chop the tomatoes and onion. Put the onion, tomatoes, carrot, lentils, garlic cloves, salt and cumin in a soup pot.
Add 5 cups of boiling water. Cook, until the lentils, become mushy. Let cool, puree, and add more boiling water if a thinner soup is desired, stir well.

For the topping: Cut the 2 onions into thin slices and fry in a little olive oil stirring constantly until dark brown.

To serve: Place a handful of toasted bread in the soup bowl before ladling on the soup. Then add a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of cumin to each bowl. Top with a tablespoon of fried onions.

Libyan Couscous with Fish

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Steamed Couscous
500g couscous (ready-cooked variety can also be steamed)
1 cup of hot water + 3 tablespoons olive oil

Stock
1-2 fish heads (washed, gills removed)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper, ground cumin
Salt, to taste
1 1/2-2 liter boiling water

Vegetable Sauce
1 medium onion
1 medium size potato
1 medium size aubergine (eggplant)
1 medium size squash
1 medium-size red bell pepper
1 cup cooked/canned chickpeas (or fresh/frozen peas)
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
5 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 chili peppers
3-4 garlic cloves

For the Fish and Marinade
4-6 portions of firm-fleshed fish, grouper is the Libyan favorite
4 large cloves garlic
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 chili pepper chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
Olive oil to brush the fish before grilling

Directions

In Libya, steamed dishes are cooked in a kaskas, but any pot with a steamer insert is fine. When steaming couscous you can place a square of cheese-cloth between the pot and steamer if its holes are larger than the couscous.

Put all the ingredients for the stock in the steamer pot. Bring to boil then reduce the heat and cook over medium heat.

Pour 1 cup of hot water and the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the couscous, mix well. Put the couscous in the steamer, then place it above the stock pot. Lightly rake over the top layer only with a spatula a few times during the first steaming, so it gets steamed properly.

After 45 minutes, remove the steamer and put the couscous in a deep plat; pour about 5 ladles of hot stock onto the couscous.

Mix well, then return the couscous to the steamer for another 45 minutes. Stir lightly but thoroughly 2-3 times during the second steaming to break up lumps.

Put all the ingredients for the fish marinade in the food processor, then use this paste to coat the fish on both sides. Cover the fish with cling film (plastic wrap) and set aside.

Cut the onion, eggplant, potato and bell pepper into thick slices.

Prepare the vegetable sauce by putting olive oil, chopped onion, chopped chili and whole garlic cloves in a pot, then stir until they have softened. Add tomato paste and chopped tomatoes, cover and cook on low heat. Add the peas or cooked chickpeas and about 3 ladles of strained fish stock, so the liquid is just about covering the vegetables and cook for 15 minutes more.

Brush the cut vegetables generously with olive oil and grill until almost cooked. Remove the vegetables from the grill and cut them into cubes. Add the grilled vegetables to the sauce pot.

Grill the fish and keep warm to serve with the couscous.

Remove the couscous from the steamer and place in a serving dish, arrange the vegetables from the sauce on the couscous, spoon some of the remaining sauce around the vegetables. Serve with the grilled fish and lemon wedges.

Date Filled Semolina Cookies

Ingredients

Dough
3 cups semolina
1 cup flour
1 cup oil
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon orange blossom water added to a ½ liter of warm water

Filling
750g date paste
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoons grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup sesame seeds (lightly toasted)

Syrup
4 cups boiling water
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 lemon slice
2 tablespoons orange blossom water

Topping
1/2 cup sesame seeds (lightly toasted)

Directions

Prepare the syrup by simmering all the ingredients except the orange blossom water over moderate heat for 30 minutes or until a syrupy consistency is reached. Add the 2 tablespoons of orange blossom water and set aside to cool. For a richer taste, add 1 tablespoon of honey while the syrup is still warm. Set aside.

For the dough: Mix the semolina, flour, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Add the oil and mix. Cover and let rest for at least one hour.

For the filling: Cut the date paste into small pieces and knead. Add some olive oil if the paste is not soft enough to be kneaded. Add cinnamon, grated nutmeg, sesame seeds and knead them in. Roll out the sesame date paste with your palm into 4 long ropes or sticks.

Divide the dough into 4 portions, take one portion of the dough and add the orange blossom flavored warm water a little at a time. Knead well until the dough becomes smooth and easy to shape. The dough will also become lighter in color. Form the dough into a furrow or trench shape and place one of the date rolls in the dough. Pinch closed and smooth the dough over the date roll.

Cut the roll into small pieces and arrange on a baking sheet. Place in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F/220°C until golden, for about 12 minutes. Place the cookies in a single layer in a deep dish. Pour the sugar syrup over the warm cookies.

Turn the cookies every 15 minutes, so they soak in the syrup on all sides. Remove the cookies from the syrup and place in a sieve to remove the excess syrup. Place the drained cookies on a platter and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Let rest overnight before serving.


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

Ingredients

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
5 lb Spiral Cut Fully Cooked Ham

Directions

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

6 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

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 servings

Ingredients

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 

Directions

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.


Inviting friends over for dinner does not have to be a scary experience. With a little planning and the right kinds of recipes, it can be very manageable. On a recent evening, I entertained six of my friends for dinner and a relaxing evening. Here is my game plan.
Choose recipes that you can cook or do most of the preparation for in advance.
The main dish I served can be done the day before, refrigerated overnight and reheated while you and your guests enjoy an easy appetizer and cocktails. I have included my make ahead tips in the recipes below.

Mixed Olives, Sliced Havarti Cheese and Breadsticks. Chilled Prosecco

Italian Mixed Green Salad with Pistachios, Dried Raspberries and Gorgonzola Cheese

6 servings

Make Ahead Tip: The greens can be washed a day ahead or early in the morning, dried in a spinner and placed in a salad serving bowl. Place a paper towel on top of the greens, cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Slice the tomatoes and onions, place in a storage container, drizzle a little dressing over them, cover and refrigerate.

Ingredients

1 heart of romaine lettuce
1 head red/green leaf lettuce
10 radicchio leaves, torn into small pieces
¼ of a red onion, diced
1 pint sliced miniature colored tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup pistachio nuts
¼ cup dried raspberries
Italian vinaigrette

Directions

To the washed greens in the salad bowl, add the nuts and raspberries. Pour some dressing over the ingredients and mix well.

Place some of the greens on 6 individual salad dishes, top with some of the marinated tomatoes and onions and top the tomatoes with a one inch square of cheese. Serve immediately.

Swiss Steak

Swiss steak is meat, usually beef, prepared by braising in a cooking pot of stewed tomatoes, mushroom sauce, or some other sauce, either on a stove or in an oven. In England and in some parts of the United States, especially the South, it is also called smothered steak. The dish does not come from Switzerland, as the name suggests, but from the technique of tenderizing by pounding called “swissing”.

6 or more servings

Make Ahead Tip: This dish benefits from being prepared a day or two in advance. Once it has finished cooking, pour into a shallow, ovenproof casserole dish. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate. Take the casserole out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve it. Let the casserole come to room temperature for one hour. Then, reheat in a 325 degree oven for one hour. (The dish can reheat while you and your guests are enjoying appetizers and cocktails.)

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
16 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
All-purpose flour
3 pounds boneless round steak, 3/4-1/2 inch thick
4 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet (brown gravy coloring)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Cut the round steak into serving size pieces and place between pieces of plastic wrap. Pound lightly to about 1/4 inch thick.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour.

In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add some of the meat and brown on both sides. Remove to a plate.

Repeat with remaining oil, butter and meat.

Add the garlic, onions and mushrooms to the pan and cook until the onion is softened and the mushrooms have released their liquid.

Add the Worcestershire sauce and Kitchen Bouquet. Stir in ¼ cup all-purpose flour and mix until the flour dissolves. Add the beef broth.

If the broth doesn’t cover the meat, add a little water. Stir until all the ingredients are mixed into the broth and bring to a boil.

Add the browned meat back to the pot,

Cover the pot and bake for 3 hours or until tender. Remove the meat to a shallow ovenproof casserole. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate.

Take the casserole out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve it. Let the casserole come to room temperature for one hour.

Then, reheat, covered, in a 325 degree F oven for one hour.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Make Ahead Tip: The potatoes can be baked a day before or early in the morning of the day of your dinner party. They can be filled, covered and refrigerated until close to serving time. Take them out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve them. Let the stuffed potatoes come to room temperature for one hour. Then reheat in the oven with the casserole, uncovered, for one hour.

6 servings

Ingredients

2 large russet potatoes about 14 -16 oz each, scrubbed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
Paprika and chopped chives for garnish

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F. Gently scrub potatoes, but do not peel. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork to allow steam to escape while the potatoes bake. Wrap in heavy-duty foil.

Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when lightly squeezed.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut lengthwise in half; scoop out the inside, leaving a thin shell.

In a mixing bowl, mash the potatoes. Add the butter, salt and pepper; mix until the potatoes are light and fluffy.

Stir in the cream and cheddar cheese. Fill the potato shells and place them in a baking dish.

Sprinkle with paprika and chives. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Take them out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve them. Let the stuffed potatoes come to room temperature for one hour.

Then reheat in the oven, along with the Swiss Steak casserole, uncovered, for one hour.

To serve: cut each potato boat in half (to make 8 pieces). Serve one half to each guest. There will be 2 second helpings.

These are very filling. I have found that half of a large potato is sufficient for most guests.

Green Beans with Ginger and Lemon Zest

Make Ahead Tip: Blanch the beans in boiling water the day before or early in the morning on the day you are serving them. Place them in a storage container and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cover and refrigerate.

6 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, grated
2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely grated
3 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

Directions

Blanch the green beans in boiling water for two minutes. Drain.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.

Add the lemon zest, cover the pan and steam the beans until they are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.

Add the salt and pepper and pour into a serving dish.

Pear Frangipane Tart

This pastry should be made early in the day of your dinner party. It cannot be made a day ahead because it will lose its crispness.

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 sheet frozen Puff Pastry
3 firm-ripe Bosc or Anjou pears
Egg white

Directions

Thaw the puff pastry according to package directions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to a 12×12 inch rectangle.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (I use an attractive baking pan that can also be used for serving.) Prick pastry with a fork.

Build up the sides slightly by folding in about 1/2 inch of the pastry on the edges. Brush edges with egg white.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine 1/4 cup sugar with the almond flour and all-purpose flour. Set aside.

Beat together the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer at moderately high-speed until pale and fluffy.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the flavored extracts.

Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour mixture just until combined.

Spread frangipane filling evenly over the tart shell.

Peel, halve and core pears, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange pears decoratively on filling.

Brush the pears with the egg white.

Bake until the pears are golden and frangipane is puffed up around the pears and golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Cool tart completely in the baking pan on a rack, then slide parchment out from under the tart. Leave at room temperature until serving time.

Garnish with frozen yogurt or whipped cream, if desired.

 

 


Steak dinners are special and you don’t need to go to a steakhouse to get a great steak dinner. Easy to do at home. Choosing a cut of steak may seem an intimidating task as there are so many to choose from. When choosing your cut, it should be moist rather than dry or slimy. Look for firm, fine-grained meat with a light marbling of fat – without this the steak will be dry once cooked. Any fat on the edges of the steak should be creamy-colored and the meat should be deep burgundy in color, not bright red. Rib-eyes, strip steaks, top sirloin steaks and T-bone steaks are familiar and delicious; you can’t go wrong with any of them. My choice and just the right size for a special dinner are New York strip steaks also called Delmonico steaks. The biggest mistake cooks make when grilling steak is that they overcook it. I prefer organic, grass-fed meat and that type of steak is very easy to overcook. Grass-fed beef cooks much more quickly than regular beef. To make these steaks delicious – use a marinade and follow the directions for the cooking time below. If you cook regular beef, the steaks will need a few more minutes on the grill than grass-fed beef. All you need then are some great side dishes. Dinner party a success!

Marinated Grass-Fed Steak

Serves 6

Directions

Six 1-inch-thick top loin (New York strip/Delmonico) bone-in, organic, grass-fed (8 to 10 oz. each) steaks, trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
8 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced

Directions

For the marinade:

In a medium bowl, mix the oil with the soy sauce, the Worcestershire, mustard, vinegar, half of the thyme and garlic.

Put the steaks in a large dish and coat them with the marinade mixture.

Cover the bowl and marinate the steaks in the refrigerator, turning occasionally, for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

Sprinkle the steaks with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 4 teaspoons pepper.

Clean and oil the grill grates. Heat one burner to medium high and the second burner to medium low.

While the grill heats, let the steaks rest at room temperature.

Place the steaks over the hotter part of the fire.

Cook, covered, 2 minutes per side. If the steaks are thinner then only grill for 1 minutes per side.

Using an instant meat thermometer, check the temperature of the meat.

If it is 120-125 degrees F, remove the steaks to a serving plate.

If the temperature is lower than 120 degrees F, move the steaks to the low heat burner.

Continue to grill until the temperature reaches 120 degrees F.

Transfer the steaks to a large serving platter, sprinkle with the remaining thyme and let rest five minutes before serving.

Sautéed Potatoes

Ingredients

4 pounds red-skinned potatoes
Salt to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley and chives

Directions

Place the potatoes, unpeeled, in a large saucepan with salted water to cover.

Cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool.

When cool enough to handle, peel them. Cut the potatoes into 1 inch cubes.

(The recipe can be prepared ahead to this point. Drizzle the potatoes with a little olive oil, cover and refrigerate until ready to saute.)

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet large enough to hold potatoes in one layer. When oil is quite hot, add potatoes.

Cook over high heat, shaking skillet and stirring gently, until lightly browned. Turn potatoes with a spatula.

Cook for a few minutes more until light brown.

Add butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss and blend well. Sprinkle with parsley and chives. Serve immediately.

Stuffed Grilled Zucchini

Start the zucchini on the low heat side of the grill about 5 minutes before you put the steaks on the grill.

Ingredients

3 medium zucchini
Olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion
2 tablespoons chopped celery
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 chopped plum tomato
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped deli sliced pepper rings
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving 1/4-in.ch thick shells. Brush with oil; set aside.

Chop the zucchini pulp.

In a large skillet, saute the zucchini pulp, celery and onion in oil. Add garlic and tomato; cook 1 minute longer.

Add the dried bread crumbs; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the chopped pepper rings, parsley and salt. Spoon the mixture into the zucchini shells.

Grill, covered, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until zucchini is tender and the top of the stuffing begins to brown.

remove the cooked zucchini to a serving dish. cover with foil until the steaks are ready to be served.


July’s dinner recipes take full advantage of all the wonderful, seasonal produce available at this time of year. Where I live, this month is just about the end of the local growing season, too hot, while many of you are just reaping the benefits of gardens begun just a few months ago. And, for me, it is also too hot to grill. What you say! Since I am fortunate to be able to grill 12 months a year, the thrill is not seasonal. Some days I do not want to deal with the heat and the hot grill. So. many of my meals on these very hot days are prepared in an air-conditioned house.

Dinner One

Garden Fresh Meatloaf

Serve with a green bean salad and fried Italian peppers, recipes below.

Ingredients

2 lbs. grass-fed, organic, lean ground beef
2 carrots, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
Half of a large green bell pepper, finely diced
1 small sweet onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Half pint grape tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup of your favorite fresh herbs, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup ketchup
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup water

Directions

Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add all the diced vegetables and garlic to the skillet and cook until tender.

Add the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the beef in a mixing bowl. Add the cooked vegetables, beaten eggs, ketchup, water and bread crumbs.

Combine thoroughly and place in a greased 9×5 loaf pan.

Bake the meatloaf until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F, about 60-75 minutes.

Let rest a few minutes and then unmold, slice and serve.

Green Bean Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

To make the vinaigrette:

Whisk together the vinegar, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a serving bowl; set aside.

For the green beans:

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

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

Chill before serving.

Italian Fried Peppers

Ingredients

10-12 long Italian frying peppers
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, sliced thin
½ teaspoon crushed fennel seed
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Directions

Wash and dry the peppers.

Heat a large saute pan over medium to high heat and add just enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan and add the 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 oregano and cook for about 10 minutes until soft and beginning to brown. Can be served at room temperature.

Dinner Two

Shrimp Tacos For Two

Serve this entrée with a cucumber salad. Recipe below.

Ingredients

1 tablespoons olive oil
1 small clove garlic grated
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled, tails removed and deveined
4 corn tortillas
Homemade Tomato Salsa, recipe link
Shredded Garden Leaf lettuce
Shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese

Directions

Combine olive oil, lime juice, cumin, paprika, garlic and red pepper in a zip-top plastic bag, add the shrimp and seal. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Remove shrimp from the bag; discard marinade. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Arrange the shrimp on the pan and grill 2 minutes on each side.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat 4 corn tortillas with olive oil cooking spray and place them in a metal taco holder.

Place the holder in the oven and heat the tortillas until just beginning to get crispy, about 10 minutes.

Remove the holder from the oven and fill each shell with shrimp, tomato salsa, cheese and shredded lettuce.

Cucumber Salad with Ranch Dressing

Ingredients

1 large cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced into 1/4″-thick half-moons
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small sweet onion sliced into thin rounds and halved
¼ cup ranch dressing (recipe link here)

Chopped fresh dill, optional for garnish

Directions

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

Alternate the cucumber and onion slices on a serving plate. Drizzle with the ranch dressing, garnish with dill, if using, and serve.

Dinner Three

Mediterranean Chicken

This is a great one pot meal. If you do not have access to fresh cherry peppers, you can use the jarred version instead.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb potatoes, peeled and quartered
All-Purpose flour, Kosher salt and black pepper
4 cloves garlic
4 chicken thighs, skin removed
½ cup dry white wine
A dozen fresh sweet red cherry peppers, halved and seeded
1 package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes, optional

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the potatoes and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove the potatoes to a bowl and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat.

Season the chicken with a 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess.

Cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side.

Return the potatoes to the skillet.

Add the wine, artichoke hearts, red chile flakes, if using, and cherry peppers.

Simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, about 25-30 minutes. Stir in the oregano and serve.

Dinner Four

Grilled Greek Salmon

Serve with a Tabbouleh Salad (click here for recipe link), Tzatziki Sauce and Pita Bread or Chips.

Sumac is a middle eastern spice that’s tangy and a little tart. If you don’t have it, use more lemon zest instead.

4 servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs fresh salmon fillets, cut into 4 equal pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon sumac
Tzatziki Sauce, recipe below

Directions

Mix together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt, dill, dried oregano, crushed red pepper and sumac in a plastic ziplock bag.

Place the salmon fillets in the bag and close the bag.

Gently massage the marinade into the fish to coat it evenly, refrigerate and allow the fish to marinade for about 30 minutes.

Heat an outdoor grill to medium high.

Place the fish on a foil lined baking sheet skin-side down, turn the foil edges up and pour the marinade over the fish.

Slide the foil onto the grill, close the lid and cook the salmon for about 8-10 minutes.

Remove the foil from the grill by sliding the foil back on the baking sheet.

You can also cook the salmon in the oven.

Bake in a 400 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes.

Spoon some Tzatziki Sauce over the top and serve with Tabbouleh Salad and pita chips or bread.

Tzatziki

Ingredients

This sauce is delicious on top of grilled salmon.

2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded
1 1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Place the yogurt in a medium bowl.

Grate the cucumber on a box grater onto a paper towel, roll up and squeeze the towel to remove some of the liquid.

Add it to the yogurt along with the remaining ingredients and stir.

Cover and chill in the refrigerator before serving.

 



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