Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Italian Style Stuffed Peppers For Dinner

For 2 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup quick-cooking Italian farro (available at Whole Foods)
1 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 medium onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped Italian tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, divided
1/4 lb lean ground beef
1/4 lb Italian sausage, casing removed
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 large minced garlic clove
Salt & pepper to taste
1 large green bell peppers halved lengthwise and seeded
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese plus more for topping

Directions

Combine the farro, water, and salt in a microwave bowl. Microwave on high for 9 minutes. Set aside the bowl without draining the farro while you prepare the stuffing.
Mix the Italian tomatoes with the red pepper flakes and ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning. Pour into a baking dish large enough to fit the peppers.
In a large skillet, cook the onion and olive oil over medium heat until softened. Add the beef and sausage. Cook until light brown. Let cool.
Drain the farro.
In a mixing bowl, combine the meat mixture with the farro, mozzarella cheese, ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic, salt, black pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together..Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture.


Place stuffed green bell pepper halves in the baking dish over the tomato sauce; cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, and bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes.
Remove the foil, top each pepper with additional shredded mozzarella cheese and return the dish to the oven. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Sauteed Tuscan Kale

Ingredients

2 bunches Tuscan Kale
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
Sea Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions

Wash the kale thoroughly. Remove the stems and cut the leaves into smaller pieces. Heat olive oil and red pepper flakes in a deep saute pan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers, and the red pepper flakes start to sizzle. Add the garlic. Working quickly, so the garlic does not burn, add the kale. (Some splattering and crackling of oil may occur from the water on the kale.) Using tongs, toss the kale in the pan for 2-4 minutes until the kale has wilted and cooked to desired tenderness. Keep the kale moving to avoid scorching any pieces. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese just before serving.

Remembering Julia Child

Recently my PBS station aired a special about how Julia Child influenced many of today’s well-known chefs as well as the viewers who watched the shows. This special made me realize that I, too, had learned many cooking skills from her shows. Growing up I learned some basic Italian recipes from my mother and father (Italian men like to cook.) but not the kind of food America was eating when I got married. My mother was not an enthusiastic cook and tended to make the same things every week. My father would make things she did not like, such as rabbit or crab in spaghetti sauce. So as a young wife I liked cooking but needed to know more. It was about that time that Julia’s shows came onto PBS. There were no other cooking shows on TV at that time. While her recipes highlighted French cooking, she did focus on skills. I learned how to cook a whole chicken, prepare fish and make good sauces from watching her shows. If you have never made her chicken recipe, give it a try. It comes out moist and full of flavor.

Poulet Poele a l’Estragon

(Casserole- Roasted Chicken)

Ingredients

Seasoning Chicken
1 (3-4 pound) roasting chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 shallot, halved

Browning Chicken
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

For Vegetables
2-3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/4 cup sliced carrots
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon

Sauce
2 cups brown chicken stock, or 1 cup canned beef broth and 1 cup canned chicken broth
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons port wine
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon (or 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon)
1 tablespoon softened butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 325° F. Thoroughly dry the chicken. Season the cavity of the chicken with the salt, tarragon and 1 tablespoon of butter. Insert the shallot and rub the remaining tablespoon of butter on the outside of the chicken. Tie legs together with kitchen string.

Heat a heavy, fireproof casserole dish or pot over medium-high heat. Add butter and oil. When the butter foam has begun to subside, lay in the chicken, breast down. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, regulating the heat so butter is always very hot but not burning. Carefully turn the chicken to another side, using 2 wooden spoons. Be sure not to break the chicken skin. Continue browning and turning the chicken until it is a nice golden color almost all over, particularly on the breast and legs. This will take 10 to 15 minutes. Add more oil if necessary to keep the bottom of the casserole filmed.

Remove chicken from the pan and set aside. Pour out the browning fat if it has burned, and add fresh butter. Cook the carrots and onions slowly in the casserole for 5 minutes without browning. Add the salt and tarragon.

Salt the chicken and place it breast up over the vegetables. Baste with the butter in the casserole. Lay a piece of aluminum foil over the chicken, cover the pan, and reheat it on top of the stove until you hear the chicken sizzling. Then place the casserole/pan in the preheated oven.

Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Baste once or twice with the butter and juices in the casserole. The chicken is done when the drumsticks move in their sockets, and when juices run clear.

Remove the chicken to a serving platter and discard trussing strings. Combine the cornstarch with ¼ cup of the chicken broth and the port wine and set aside. Add the remaining broth to the casserole and simmer for 2 minutes, scraping up coagulated roasting juices. Blend in the cornstarch mixture, simmer a minute, then raise heat and boil rapidly until the sauce is lightly thickened. Stir in tarragon and butter.

Serve chicken with sauce. Good sides are peas, potatoes, asparagus, carrots or broiled tomatoes.

The recipe above is from Julia Child’s, Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume One, Pages 249-251.

You can watch the original episodes on Amazon Prime Video or your local PBS online site.

Amazon Season 1 Episode 3 Chicken Video is the recipe for Casserole-Roasted Chicken with Bacon, Onions, and Potatoes -a variation of the above recipe called Poulet en Cocotte Bonne Femme.

https://www.amazon.com/French-Chef-Julia-Child/dp/B0062246R8

 

Parmesan-Crusted Fish For Dinner

The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating based on the habits of those who live in countries bordering the Mediterranean sea, like, Spain, France, Greece, and Italy. Here is a good example of a dinner based on this type of diet. It is a very healthy way of eating.

Parmesan-Crusted Flounder

4 servings

Ingredients

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Olive oil mayonnaise
4 flounder fillets (about 1 pound total)
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a shallow dish, combine the Parmesan cheese with the paprika and parsley.  Season the fish with salt and pepper. Brush the fish lightly with mayonnaise and dredge in the cheese mixture. Place on an oiled baking sheet or dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake until the fish is cooked through and beginning to brown along the edges 10 to 12 minutes. Serve the fish with the lemon wedges.

Whole Grain Pasta With Zucchini And Tomatoes

4 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt
1 medium zucchini (about 8 oz) quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 tablespoon of prepared basil pesto
1 cup fresh mini San Marzano or grape tomatoes, halved
8 oz whole-grain linguine pasta
Pasta water

Directions

Combine 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in small bowl; set aside.

Heat the 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, add zucchini and ¼ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes.

Push zucchini to the sides of the skillet to create a clearing; add the oil-garlic mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine the garlic tomato mixture with the zucchini and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove skillet from the heat and stir in pine nuts and pesto.

Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large Dutch oven. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt to the boiling water; cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, drain pasta and return pasta to the Dutch oven. Turn the heat on to low.

Add sauce and reserved cooking water to the pasta and toss to coat. Season with salt to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Steak Pizzaiola For Dinner

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 rib-eye steaks (about 1 ½ lbs total and 1 inch thick), trimmed of all fat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil; more as needed
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3/4 lb Italian frying peppers, seeded and halved
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 ½ cups finely chopped Italian tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.

Directions

Cut each steak into 1-inch strips removing as much fat as possible and pat them dry with paper towels. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place on a foil-covered pan that can under the broiler.

In a 12-inch heavy frying pan over medium heat, place the oil, garlic and the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened but not browned, Add the peppers and cook until tender.

Pour the wine into the pan. As it comes to a boil, deglaze the pan juices by scraping the bottom of the pan well with a wooden or silicone spoon. Add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer.

Set the broiler to low. Place the pan with the steaks under the broiler and cook for 4-5 minutes until lightly brown. Remove the pan from the broiler and place the steak strips and meat juices in the skillet with the tomato mixture. Stir in the meat and simmer for 1-2 minutes.

Serve this dish with mashed potatoes and green beans.

America’s Culinary Food Stories-New England Clam Chowder

America is a melting pot that was formed by the hard-working people who migrated here from lands as far east as China and Japan and as far north as Russia and Europe. They utilized American supplies and prepared them in ways that they had prepared them in their homeland.
True American food is a collection of these culinary traditions passed down from generation to generation. Each culture brought their cooking methods, food, and spices to America. They farmed the soil, hunted game, and incorporated their ways into the food of America. This series is about what they cooked.

From Manhattan to New England, clam chowder is known for its competing varieties as much as for its comforting briny flavor. It seems every state on the East Coast has its own take on the popular soup

New England clam chowder is the most well-known and popular clam chowder. Though it’s named after New England and associated most with Massachusetts and Maine, food historians believe that French, Nova Scotian, or British settlers introduced the soup to the area and it became a common dish by the 1700s. The soup continued to gain popularity throughout the years and, according to “What’s Cooking America”, was being served in Boston at Ye Olde Union Oyster House (the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the country) by 1836.

New England clam chowder, occasionally called “Boston Clam Chowder,” is made with the usual clams and potatoes, but it also has a milk or cream base. It is usually thick and hearty; Today. the soup can be found all over the country but is still most popular in the North East.

I  serve the chowder with crusty Italian bread and a Romaine Salad dressed with a Parmesan Vinaigrette.

New England Clam Chowder

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

3 strips thick-cut bacon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 medium leek, washed and sliced
2 celery ribs with tops cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning (Old Bay)
3 medium-size white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I use Wondra-no lumps)
4 cups seafood stock or bottled clam juice, divided
1 pound chopped fresh clam meat with juices or 2 (6.5 oz) cans of clams in broth
Kosher salt to taste
2 cups half & half
1 teaspoon white pepper
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Directions

Place a 4- to 6-quart pot over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook, turning occasionally, until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the bacon, leaving the fat in the pot, and crumble into small pieces onto a plate; set aside.

Add the butter, onion, leek, celery, thyme, seafood seasoning and bay leaves to the pot. Cook, stirring often, until onions and potatoes are tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Return the bacon to the pot and increase the heat to medium-low.

Dissolve the flour in 1 cup of the clam broth or seafood stock. Add the mixture gradually, stirring continuously, until incorporated. Stir and cook 5 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium and slowly add the remaining clam broth or stock, 1 cup at a time, incorporating it into the mixture before adding more.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the clam meat with its juices. Keep stirring 5 minutes, until the clams are tender.

Add the cream slowly; then stir in the white pepper.

Discard the bay leaves before serving. Garnish each serving with chopped parsley.

Note
Many supermarkets carry frozen, chopped clam meat in 1-pound containers, which is fresher than canned and just as convenient. Simply defrost before using.

Romaine Salad with Parmesan Vinaigrette

Ingredients

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnishing the salad
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped

Directions

Whisk the Parmesan, mustard, vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil. Sprinkle the vinaigrette with salt and pepper. Toss the lettuce with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Dinner Is In The Oven

All three dishes can be baked in the oven together, staggering the cooking time needed by each dish.

Stuffed Sole Fillets

Stuffing Ingredients
4 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 scallion, minced
1 medium garlic clove, minced
½ celery stalk, finely chopped
1 mini bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Salt and pepper
½ oz oyster crackers crushed

Fish
12 oz sole fillets
Lemon juice
Butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a baking dish just large enough to hold the fish with olive oil cooking spray.


Combine the filling ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Spread the filling evenly over each fillet and add a few drops of lemon juice over the stuffing.

Roll each fillet, jelly-roll fashion, and skewer it with toothpicks and place in the prepared baking dish.

Dot each roll-up with butter and cover the baking pan loosely with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily when touched with a fork.

Easy Mac & Cheese

No need to make a white sauce to get creamy mac & cheese.

Ingredients

12 oz whole wheat elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup sour cream
Kosher salt and pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup Velveeta cheese cut into small cubes
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°F. Cook the pasta for half the time recommended on package directions; drain.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, sour cream, and 1⁄2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Fold in the onion and the Velveeta.


Add the cooked pasta to the bowl and toss to coat.

Transfer the pasta mixture to a greased 12×8-inch baking dish and bake until beginning to brown, 20 minutes.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the top of the casserole. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake until golden brown, 10 minutes more or until the cheese is melted. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Nut-Crusted Zucchini Sticks

Ingredients

1 medium-large zucchini, trimmed and cut into thin wedges
2 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch each of salt and pepper
1/2 cup finely ground nuts (any kind)
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.


Place the zucchini wedges in a ziplock bag with the oil, salt, and pepper. Shake. Add the Italian seasoning and nuts. Shake until well coated. Place the zucchini on the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast the zucchini for 25-30 minutes until crispy and tender.

Healthy And Delicious Low Carb Baking

Ricotta Cheesecake

Makes one 8-inch square cheesecake, to serve 12

Cheesecake Ingredients

2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup sugar substitute ( I use monk fruit)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 eggs
Zest of 1 orange

Blueberry Topping
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (10 oz)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons low carb sugar substitute
2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder mixed with 2 teaspoons water

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with butter or cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Stir in the vanilla and orange zest. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until set. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Cover. Refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled with the blueberry topping.

Directions for making the topping:
Put the blueberries, water, lemon juice, and sweetener into a small saucepan or pot and simmer over medium heat until the blueberries swell up and are cooked through. This will take a little longer for fresh blueberries. Add the cornstarch slurry and simmer until thickened. Cover and chill.

Banana Bread

Ingredients

1 banana
11/2 cups + 1 tablespoon almond flour
3 eggs
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup low carb sugar substitute
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts plus 15 walnut halves

.Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mash the banana with a fork.
Process the eggs together with the mashed banana and the melted butter with a hand
blender or hand mixer to a smooth dough.
Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl. Pour into the bowl with the egg and banana
mixture and stir well.
Add the chopped walnuts and fold into the batter.

Line an 8-inch bread/loaf pan with baking paper/parchment with the paper extending over the ends of the pan. Coat lightly with cooking spray. Pour in the bread dough into the pan and place the walnut halves in five rows across the top of the dough.
Bake the bread for 45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Check the bread after 30 minutes. If the top is brown, cover it loosely with aluminum foil to prevent the low-carb banana bread from burning.
Let the banana bread cool and then lift out with the aid of the parchment paper. Cool completely before slicing.


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