Friday, May 30, 2008

INDEX OF ALL RECIPES


Here is the updated index from beginning to today.

There are too many recipes without an index on this site because blogger isn't really set up for it. So I've decided to add an index of recipes at the end of each month. So far, there are over 200 recipes, and I'm hoping this will make it easier to find the recipes.


APPETIZER RECIPES:
Bbq Onion Steaks with Honey-Mustard Sauce
Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Squares
Cheese Souffle
Chickpea Fritters - Panelle
Crunchy Chili Onion Rings
Fried Mozzarella with Puttanesca Dipping Sauce
Garlic Knots
Goat Cheese in Grape Leaves with Tomato and Olive Salad
Gouda and Feta Pizzettes
Pinto Beans cooked in Olive Oil - Pilaki
Stuffed Aubergines with Rice
Stuffed Vine Leaves - Yaprak Dolma
Tomato Eggplant Spread
Tomato Ricotta Tart
Zucchini Fritters With Herbs And Cheese
Tarragon Pizza Bianca
Wine and Ham Croquettes
White Bean Puree with Sun-dried Tomatoes

SOUP RECIPES:
Brandied Onion Soup with Croque-Monsieur Croutons
French Onion Soup
Lentil Soup with a Curry Crema and Lentil Crackers
Red Lentil and Mint Soup
Spicy Tomato Soup

SALAD RECIPES:
Avocado and Tomato Salad
Beet And Goat Cheese Salad With Pistachios
Big Island Tomato and Maui Onion Salad with Maui Onion Dressing
Black-eyed Pea Salad
Bulgur Wheat Stuffed Tomato
Crisp Goat-Cheese Salad with Potatoes
Cucumber Dill Salad
Cucumber, Mustard and Dill Salad

Frisee with Flaked Salmon and Cucumbers
Garlicky Eggplant Salad with Tomato Sauce
Lentil Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Lentil Salad With Tomato And Dill
Mesclun Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette
Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing
Mixed Green Salad with Citrus Dressing
Mixed Lettuce Chiffonade with Gorgonzola-Herb Dressing
New Potato Salad with Sauteed Onion Vinaigrette
Orzo with Tomaotes, Feta, and Green Onions
Orzo, Feta and Tomato Salad with Marjoram Vinaigrette
Potato and Parmesan Salad
Potato and Pea Salad with Chive Aioli
Ratatouille Salad
Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Bacon Dressing and Pine Nuts
Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Feta Cheese
Tabbouleh
Tomatoes Stuffed with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil
Veal Cutlets with Arugula and Tomato Salad
Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Grilled Olive Bread

VEGETABLE DISHES:
Baby Brussels Sprouts with Buttered Pecans
Baked Garden Tomatoes with Cheese
Brussel Sprouts with White Beans and Pecorino
Butternut Squash and Creamed-Spinach Gratin
Couscous with Spiced Zucchini
Eggplant, Zucchini, Onion, Tomato, And Feta Cheese Napoleons
Grilled Zucchini with Greek Spices and Feta Salad
Hand-Mashed Pinto Beans with Cheese
Pinto Beans cooked in Olive Oil - Pilaki
Roasted Eggplant Puree - Hunkar Begendi - Sultan's Delight
Rustic Porcini Onion Stuffing
"Soda Jerk" Beans
Spinach with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Toasted Parmesan Crumbs
Stuffed Vine Leaves - Yaprak Dolma

SANDWICH RECIPES:
Croissant Steak Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions and Horseradish Mayonnaise
Croque Monsieur
Eggplant and Smoked GoudaOpen-Faced Grilled Sandwiches
Falafel with Tahini Sauce
Grilled Eggplant and Mozzarella Sandwiches
Grilled Ham and Gouda Sandwiches with Frisee and Caramelized Onions
Grilled Prosciutto, Soppressata and Mozzarella Panini
Homemade Sandwich Bread
Made Up Toast Souffle
Muffuletta Sandwich on Sourdough Bread
Pocket Sandwiches
Roast Beef Sandwiches with Lemon-Basil Mayonnaise and Roasted Red Onions
Taverna Veggie Sandwiches

SAUCES/DRESSINGS/DIPS:
Aioli Sauce for French Fries/Frites
Basic Marinara Sauce
Cafe de Paris Sauce and Butter Recipes
Chimichurri Sauce
Citrus Dressing
Creamy Mustard Sauce
Creamy Oven-cooked Bacon Dip
Creamy Tomato Sauce
Creole Olive Salad
Cucumber Dill Sauce
Eggplant Dip
Fresh Tomato Salsa
Gorgonzola Sauce
Grilled Eggplant Spread
Guacamole
Guacamole with Fresh Corn and Chipotle
Haydari with Feta Cheese
Herbed Mustard Sauce
Lemon Caramel Sauce and Candied Lemon Slices
Methods for Making Sour Cream
Pesto Oil
Mustard-Cognac Sauce
Pasta Sauce with Chicken and Peppers
Puttanesca Dipping Sauce
Puttanesca Sauce
Raspberry-Lime Vodka Sauce
Roasted Red Pepper with Feta Dip
Roasted Tomatillo Sauce
Tahini Sauce and Tahini Paste
Tzatziki Sauce
White Bean, Garlic, and Tomato Salsa

BEEF RECIPES:
Andouille Burgers with Grilled Sweet Onions and Creole Remoulade Sauce
Baked Meatballs and Potatoes - Firinda Kofte Ve Patates
Beef Stroganoff with Noodles
Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Mustard-Cognac Sauce
Beef Tenderloin with Chanterelle Sauce
Cafe de Paris Sauce and Butter Recipes
Cider Glazed Lamb Chops
Cumin-rubbed Rib-Eye Steaks with Two Salsas
Gyro Meat with Tzatziki Sauce
Herbed Lamb Chops with Pinot Noir Sauce
Kicked Up Breaded Pork Chops
Lady's Thigh Meatballs - Kadinbudu Kofte
Lamb Burgers with Feta Sauce
Meatloaf with Barbecue Sauce and Red Onions
Sliced Steak With Arugula
Sloppy Joes
Steak Au Poivre
Steak Diane
Stewed Kebabs in a Bowl - Tas Kebab
Veal Cutlets With Thyme Butter Sauce

SEAFOOD RECIPES:
Baked Halibut with Tomato, Capers, and Olive Vinaigrette
Frisee with Flaked Salmon and Cucumbers
Salmon Cooked in Parchment Paper
Tequila Shrimp

CHICKEN RECIPES:
Chicken Provencale
Grilled Chicken with Mustard Dill Sauce
Pasta Sauce with Chicken and Peppers
Roasted Chicken Dinner
Roasted Chicken with Dijon Sauce
Wild Mushroom Chicken Basted in White Wine

POTATO RECIPES:
Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs
Basic Mashed Potatoes
Caramelized Onion-Potato Pancakes
Cheddar Stuffed Potatoes
Creamy Herbed Potatoes
Frites
Grilled New Potatoes with Parmesan and Herbs
Oven Fried Potato and Sweet Potato Chips
Perfect French Fries
Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce
Potato Gratin with Goat Cheese and Garlic
Potato Gratin With Goat Cheese, Tomatoes, And Olives
Potato Roesti
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Roasted New Potatoes with Spring Herb Pesto
Roasted Potato Wedges With Rosemary Butter
Spotted Pig's Ricotta Gnudi
Warm New Potato Salad with Grainy Mustard

PASTA RECIPES:
Baked Pasta - Pasta Gratin
Baked Ravioli
Castellane with Mascarpone and Roasted Grape Tomatoes
Cheese Tortellini and Creamy Tomato Sauce
Farfalle with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cream
Fettuccine With Roasted Tomato Sauce And Parmesan
Fried Ravioli
Greek Style Penne with Fresh Tomaotes, Feta, and Dill
Grilled Vegetable Lasagna with Puttanesca Sauce and Pesto Oil
Handmade Pasta with Pancetta, Cherry Tomatoes and Herbs
Pappardelle Pasta with Olives, Thyme and Lemon
Pasta with Chicken and Pepper Sauce
Pasta with Kalamata Olives and Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce
Pasta with Pancetta and Tomato Sauce
Pasta with Roasted Provencal Vegetable Sauce
Roasted Vegetable And Prosciutto Lasagna With Alfredo Sauce
Sausage, Cheese And Basil Lasagna
Spaghetti Carbonara
Tricolor Tomato Fettucine

RICE RECIPES:
Basil Risotto
Bulgur and Green Lentil Pilaf
Creole Vegetable Jambalaya
Rice Pilaf
Risotto Con Parmigiano-Reggiano
Saffron Rice with Tomatoes and Fresh Oregano
Yellow Rice with Sofrito

BREAKFAST RECIPES:
Chorizo and Scrambled Egg Breakfast Tacos
Frittata with Potato and Prosciutto
Goat Cheese Quiche with Hash-Brown Crust

MISC RECIPES:
Black-Bean Tostados with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce and Tostadas
Basic Pizza Dough
Charred Red Onion and Balsamic Vinegar White Beans
Couscous with Spiced Zucchini
Crepes
Falafel
Flat Zucchini Omelet
Fried Carrots
Garlic Croutons
Herb Pita Crisps
Lentil Crackers
Parsley Oil
Parmesan Crisps
Parmesan Popovers
Parmesan Toasts
Pesto Oil
Pita Crisps
Tostadas
Spiced Pita Toasts
Salami Crisps with Sour Cream and Basil

COFFEE, DRINK AND COCTAIL RECIPES:
9 1/2 Weeks
Caffe Medici and Cappuccino Cream
Cosmopolitan
Cucumber Gimlet
target="_blank">Electric Blue Margarita
Frozen Margarita
Italian Lemonade
Hemingway Daiquiri
Hummingbird
Hurricane
Lemon Peel Vodka
Limoncello
Magnificent Melon
Peach Margarita
Peach Passion
Pomegranate Martini
Simple Syrup
Strawberry-Banana Smoothie
Strawberry Caipirinha
Turkish Coffee
Vanilla Simple Syrup
Vanilla Vodka

DESSERT RECIPES:
Almond Plum Buckle
Almond Thumbprint Cookies
Angel Food Cake
Chocolate Amaretti Peaches
Chocolate-Amaretti Tortes
Chocolate Fondue a La Chalet Suisse
Chocolate-Orange Pots de Creme with Candied Orange Peel
Coconut Flan
Coconut Pecan Bars
Coffee Ice Cream and Mexican Chocolate Sundaes with Cinnamon-Sugar Tortilla Crisps
Dark Chocolate Souffles With Cardamom Creme Anglaise
Dark Chocolate Torte With Spiked Blackberry Coulis
Dark Molten Chocolate Cakes
Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
Dipped Strawberries
Double Chocolate Orange Pudding
Espresso Sambuca Tapioca Pudding
Fruit-And-Almond Gratins
Grilled Pineapple with Nutella
Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate Chocolate Souffle with Grand Marnier Chocolate Sauce
Honey-Ginger Pineapple Crepes
Individual Peach Upside-Down Cake
Jumbo Black Bottom Coconut Macaroons
Lemon Creme Brulee With Fresh Berries
Lemon Spice Bread Pudding with Sauteed Peaches
Limoncello Cheesecake Squares
Mosaic
Old-Fashioned New York-Style Cheesecake with Berry Coulis
Puff Pastry Tart Filled with Almond Cream
Russian Toast with Bananas Flambe & Raspberry-Lime Vodka Sauce
Salep Ice Cream
Super Lemony Lemon Squares
Vanilla Lime Pineapple Skewers
Wine Soaked Berries

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Russian Toast with Bananas Flambe & Raspberry-Lime Vodka Sauce

This one is a really elaborate brunch dish, probably best when you have company. I found it when I was looking for vodka drinks, and had to make a note of it. It sounds delicious. And I thought, enough of drink recipes, let's get back to food anyway:)

I have not tried this recipe, but plan on doing so one day. Until then I'm just posting the recipe so that I don't lose it.:) If anyone tries it, please give us feedback.


RUSSIAN TOAST WITH BANANAS FLAMBE & RASPBERRY-LIME VODKA SAUCE

Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Vanilla Vodka (see recipe below) or vanilla extract

4 thick (about 1-inch) slices of dense bread, cut diagonally to make 8 triangular half slices
1 cup vodka
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 bananas, thickly sliced

Raspberry-lime Vodka Sauce (see recipe below), warmed

1/2 cup creme fraiche or ricotta cheese
1 lime, cut into wedges, to serve

Directions:
Whisk the eggs in a shallow bowl with the sugar, salt and Vanilla Vodka.

Lay the bread slices in a large dish or platter and pour about half the vodka over them.

Melt half the butter in a skillet over a moderate - high heat. Cooking in batches, dip 3-4 vodka-soaked bread slices into the egg mixture and place in the skillet. (Be sure to cover the slices completely with the egg, but do not allow the egg to soak completely through the break or it may break apart.)

Cook the slices until medium brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each side. The slices should be crisp on the surface, but tender inside. When ready, cover to keep warm and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the bread.

Add the remaining butter and brown sugar to the pan. As soon as the sugar has completely melted, add the sliced bananas and cook until slightly tender and coated in the butter/sugar mixture, about 1 minute. Add the remaining vodka to the pan and ignite (stand clear!).

Immediately top two slices of toast per plate with some of the bananas flambe and drizzle with Raspberry-lime Vodka Sauce. Add a large dollop of creme fraiche or ricotta cheese and a lime wedge. Serve to applause.

Serves 4

RASPBERRY-LIME VODKA SAUCE

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh raspberries, or defrosted frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons Vodka Simple Syrup (see recipe below)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Grated zest of 1 lime
3 tablespoons of Lemon Peel Vodka (see recipe below)

Directions:
Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food-processor, pulse to a chunky mixture and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator until needed. Raspberry-lime Vodka Sauce will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

VANILLA VODKA

Ingredients:

5 vanilla beans
2 cups vodka

Directions:
Split the vanilla pods lengthwise down the center to expose the seeds, keeping the ends of the beans intact.

Place the beans with the vodka in a large jar with an airtight seal. Store in a dark, dry place for at least 4 weeks, shaking the jar several times each week.

When ready, transfer the extract and the beans to a bottle. As you use the extract, top off with more vodka to replenish your supply. The beans will continue to impart flavor for many months.

VODKA SIMPLE SYRUP
Sugar is slow to dissolve, especially in cold food or drinks, so Vodka Simple Syrup to the rescue.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups still mineral water
2 pounds granulated sugar
1/2 cup vodka

Directions:
Bring the water to the boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat to moderate, add the sugar and stir until it dissolves completely.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until the mixture has a syrup consistency.
Add the vodka, mix well and cool.

Transfer to a jar or container and reserve for use.

In a tightly sealed container, Vodka Simple Syrup keeps indefinitely, though it may begin to crystallize over time. If it crystallizes, simply warm the container in a pot of slow-simmering water.(The recipe can be doubled or tripled as necessary.)

LEMON PEEL VODKA

Ingredients:

4 lemons
3 cups vodka

Directions:
Wash the lemons. Using a zester of vegetable peeler, peel the skin to create narrow ribbons. Scrape away any remaining pith.

Put the peel into a large jar and add the vodka. Store in a dark, dry place for about 2 weeks, shaking the jar occasionally.

Strain through cheesecloth, discard the peel and store in a bottle ready for use.
Makes about 2 cups

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Strawberry Caipirinha

The caipirinha is a well-known drink from Brazil, consisting of Cachaca rum, lime, sugar and ice. It is a crisp and refreshing cocktail, great to enjoy as an aperitif or throughout entire dinner. Actually Cachaca is not exactly rum. It's made from sugarcane juice while rum is made from either molasses or sugarcane juice then aged in oak barrels.

But this recipe is a variation as it is made with my favorite: Tequila:) I'm also adding an original recipe made with Cachaca.

STRAWBERRY CAIPIRINHA

Ingredients:
2 oz Tequila
1 oz Coco Lopez (Cream of Coconut)
1/4 tsp brown sugar
Fresh Strawberries
Fresh limes
Soda
Garnish: Lime wedge

Mixing Instructions:
Muddle the limes and strawberries with brown sugar, add tequila. Top with soda and garnish with lime wedge. (Created by mixologist Ben Pundole, the Sky Bar, Miami FL)

And here is the original recipe:

Ingredients:
2 oz. Leblon Cachaca
4 Strawberries
1/4 Lime - sliced
1 tbsp superfine sugar (or 1 oz. simple syrup)

Mixing Instructions:
Place strawberries, sliced lime and sugar in a shaker and muddle well. Fill shaker with ice and add Leblon Cachaça. Shake vigorously and pour into a rocks glass. Garnish with a strawberry.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Peach Margarita

Peaches and tequila:) How can you go wrong?:)) If the mix is too thick once blended, add more juice: if it's too thin, add more ice.

PEACH MARGARITA

Ingredients:

1 cup ice
1 1/2 oz tequila
1/4 oz Triple Sec
1/4 oz Peach Schnapps
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1 skinned, pitted, fresh medium peach or equivalent canned peaches

Mixing Instructions:
Pour the ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour the contents into a chilled margarita glass.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Cucumber Gimlet

This refreshing cocktail is perfect for summer. I had seen this recipe at Bon Appetit, and the picture grabbed me instantly:)

I have tried it with vodka instead. But it is much better with gin although I'm not much of a gin drinker.

And I add a little bit more lime juice, this way I can use less sugar which tastes better to me.

Be careful as this is really potent if you drink too much, and it is easy to drink a lot because it is refreshing:)


CUCUMBER GIMLETS

Ingredients:

2 large cucumbers (1 1/2 pounds total)
1/2 cup gin
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup ice cubes
4 lime slices

Directions:
Slice four 1/4-inch-thick slices from 1 cucumber. Peel and coarsely chop remaining cucumbers; transfer to processor and puree until smooth. Pour through fine strainer set over large bowl, pressing on solids in strainer. Discard solids in strainer.

Mix 1 cup cucumber juice, gin, lime juice, and sugar in pitcher; stir until sugar dissolves. Add ice; mix well. Immediately strain mixture into 4 small Martini glasses. Garnish with lime and cucumber slices and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pomegranate Martini

I have been trying different cocktails and ran into this pomegranate martini recipe. Actually there are so many different ones out there that it gets to be very confusing. For example, you can also add about 1 oz. of Cointreau liqueur to the recipe below and you still end up with a wonderful tasting martini. And pomegranates are good for you:) Have fun:)

POMEGRANATE MARTINI

Ingredients:
1 1/2 oz. Stoli Blueberi vodka
1 oz. Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice
1 1/2 oz. fresh blackberry puree
1 oz. cranberry juice

Mixing Instructions:
Combine ingredients in a shaker half filled with ice. Shake well. Serve in a martini glass and garnish with a fresh orange slice.

Peach Passion

The picture looked so delicious to me that I had to copy this cocktail. I love peaches too, so this is a wonderful combination of flavors for me. And a good use of vodka:)

PEACH PASSION

Ingredients:
1 1/2 oz. Grey Goose Vodka
1/2 oz. Peach Schnapps
3 oz. Looza peach nectar
1 tsp. orange marmalade
1 tsp. Rose’s Grenadine
4 fresh raspberries
1 sprig of mint

Mixing Instructions:
In a shaker combine vodka, schnapps, peach nectar and orange marmalade. Shake vigorously. Strain into a glass and add grenadine for color. Garnish with raspberries and mint sprig.

Magnificent Melon

I haven't had time to post for a couple of days so I'm adding more than one recipe today.

And I have to have a Vodka recipe if I'm adding drinks to the recipes:) This is a really tasty cocktail for summertime with all the great fruits. Enjoy!!!


MAGNIFICENT MELON

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Part Vodka
1 Part DeKuyper Melon Liqueur
Splash of Pineapple Juice
Pineapple Leaves
Watermelon
Honeydew
Cantaloupe

Mixing Instructions:
Mix in a shaker half-filled with ice. Pour into a chilled martini glass. To garnish, overlap three long pineapple leaves and place into glass. Spear large watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe balls and place over the leaves.

Electric Blue Margarita

I love Tequila, so here is an interesting looking and tasting margarita recipe. Enjoy:)

ELECTRIC BLUE MARGARITA

Ingredients:
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz Silver Tequila
1/2 oz Peach Schnapps
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
4 oz Sour Mix
Garnish: Lemon slice

Mixing Instructions:
Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Fill glass with ice. Strain the mixture over fresh ice and garnish with lemon slice and serve.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Italian Lemonade

I thought that since summer is around the corner, and since there has been crazy heat waves going around I should start adding some refreshing drinks that I enjoy. This one is a really interesting cocktail. I think it's a lot of fun. And it sure is not a simple lemonade. Try it and see how you like it.:)

This drink uses simple syrup which is very easy to make and is a staple in any beverage maker's repertoire. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of white sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil; simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. The syrup will keep in the fridge for at least a month as long as you keep it in a "glass" jar/bottle.


ITALIAN LEMONADE

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz Belvedere Cytrus Vodka
3/4 oz Campari
1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz Simple Syrup
Cold Soda Water or 7-up 2
Lemon Wheels

Mixing Instructions:
In an ice filled mixing glass, add Cytrus, Campari, lemon juice and simple syrup: shake until well blended.

Prepare a 14 oz Goblet by filling with ice and placing the lemon wheels inside the glass so they appear to be floating against the sides of the glass.

Strain drink into goblet while spritzing with soda water or 7-up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pasta Sauce with Chicken and Peppers

Although it needs to cook for a while, this is such an easy recipe to prepare. I wanted to have a different recipe than the classic tomato sauce recipe for pasta. And I found this basic recipe from Micheal Smith. I love the way he cooks, easy and quick:)

You can make this sauce a bit more sophisticated by adding mushrooms. But cook it separately and add them in during the last 15-20 minutes of cooking because they will let go of their juices if you just add them to the sauce.

Enjoy:)


PASTA SAUCE WITH CHICKEN AND PEPPERS

Ingredients:
6 to 8 chicken thighs
3 tbsp of olive oil
2 x onions, diced
8 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 cup of red wine
1 x red pepper, diced
1 x green pepper, diced
1 x 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 x 156 ml can of tomato paste
Salt and pepper

Directions:
Place a large pot on the stove and turn heat to high. Add oil and begin to brown thighs, skin side down. When skin is golden brown, flip the thighs and brown the other side. Remove and set aside on a plate.

Drain excess fat from the pan and put back over heat. Add onions and stir and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. When the onions are golden and caramelized, add garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes.

Add 1 cup of red wine, chicken pieces, peppers, tomatoes and tomato paste. Cover with a lid and let simmer for an hour. Serve over pasta such as penne or rotini.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Cheese Tortellini and Creamy Tomato Sauce

This is the easiest and fastest creamy tomato sauce that you can use with any pasta. I don't remember where I got the recipe from, but it's very versatile, and you can make a lot of changes to it. Such as adding leftover roasted vegetables.

If you want, you can add some white or red wine to the sauce while simmering, I always add a little bit.

You don't necessarily have to use cheese tortellini, try different fillings. This is a great weeknight meal, with great leftovers. Enjoy:)


CHEESE TORTELLINI & CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup minced onion
2 Large garlic, minced
2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Large pinch dried oregano and chili pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. each salt and sugar
1 Cup (8 ounces) whipping cream
1 Pound cheese tortellini
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
In a 10-inch skillet saute onion and garlic in olive oil until soft.

Add tomatoes, rinsing can with 2 tablespoons water.

Stir in oregano, chili pepper flakes, salt and sugar. Simmer, bubbling gently for 10 minutes.

Whisk in cream.

Cook tortellini according to package directions.

Serve sauce over tortellini.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Butternut Squash and Creamed-Spinach Gratin

I love gratins, simply because I love cheese:) I had never thought of putting squash together with spinach until I saw this recipe at Gourmet.

I used a regular knife to cut the squash, you don't really have to have a mandolin. You can roast the squash slices for 20 min. in a 450 oven to bring out the sweetness. And you can probably find bagged spinach ready to go at your local market. Trader Joes has bags, and they are better than frozen ones. Make sure you get rid of juices as much as possible from the spinach, otherwise the dish will become soggy.

And because I like cheese, I actually used more Parmesan cheese between layers. I'm glad I did:) You can also add ricotta for texture.

Cooking time was a little bit longer than the recipe. I had to keep it in the oven an extra 10 minutes.

If you don't like heavy cream use a classic bechamel and stir the onion/spinach mixture into the bechamel. Then layer the butternut with the bechamel to make a "lasagna" type structure.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CREAMED-SPINACH GRATIN

Ingredients:

3 lb fresh spinach, stems discarded, or 3 (10-oz) packages frozen leaf spinach, thawed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter plus additional for greasing pan
3/4 cup finely chopped onion (1 small)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
4 lb butternut squash (2 large), peeled, quartered, and seeded
1/2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 cup)
Special equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer

Directions:
If using fresh spinach, bring 1 inch water to a boil in a 6- to 8-quart pot over high heat. Add spinach, a few handfuls at a time, and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water.

Thoroughly squeeze cooked fresh or thawed frozen spinach in small handfuls to remove excess moisture, then coarsely chop and transfer to a bowl.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in an 8-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, then cook onion and garlic, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add onion mixture to spinach along with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cream and stir to combine.

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish (13 by 9 inches; not glass).

Cut squash to separate bulb section from solid neck section, then cut pieces lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices with slicer.

Layer squash and spinach mixture in baking dish, using about one fifth of squash and one fourth of spinach for each layer, beginning and ending with squash. Sprinkle top layer of squash evenly with cheese and dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then cover directly with a sheet of parchment or wax paper.

Bake until squash is tender and filling is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove paper and bake gratin until browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes, or broil 3 inches from heat, 2 to 3 minutes.

Note: Gratin can be assembled, but not baked, 1 day ahead and kept, surface covered with parchment or wax paper and then covered with plastic wrap, chilled. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before baking.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Orzo, Feta and Tomato Salad with Marjoram Vinaigrette

I love orzo salads, and look for different recipes. This one is a great base recipe from Bon Appetit, and it makes a great side dish.

If you don't like marjoram, which can be a very strong taste, you can substitute it with parsley, or oregano, or thyme, or dill. My personal preference is oregano. It works great with feta and olives. You can play with the dressing and see what tastes better for you. I also add a little bit of garlic to the dressing.

You can also add vegetables that you have around. Anything works with this. It can be artichokes, grilled zucchini, roasted carrots etc.

It tastes best when served at room temperature, so don't forget to take it out of the fridge about half hour before serving. It does taste better after you refrigerate it. The flavors blend together, which is a must for this recipe. It actually tastes better the next day. But keep in mind not to add the tomatoes until you are ready to serve.

ORZO, FETA, AND TOMATO SALAD WITH MARJORAM VINAIGRETTE

Ingredients:

1 pound orzo
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
6 teaspoons finely chopped fresh marjoram
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, quartered
24 ounces cherry tomatoes, stemmed, halved

Directions:
Cook orzo in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Rinse under cold water until cool. Drain well.

Transfer to large bowl. Whisk lemon juice, 5 teaspoons marjoram, mustard, and lemon peel in small bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Set aside 2 tablespoons vinaigrette. Add remaining vinaigrette, cheese, onions, and olives to orzo; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and let stand 2 hours to allow flavors to develop. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate salad and remaining vinaigrette separately.)

Toss tomatoes with reserved vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix tomatoes into orzo. Sprinkle orzo with remaining 1 teaspoon marjoram and serve.

Makes 8 servings

Friday, May 16, 2008

Falafel with Tahini Sauce and Tahini Paste

I found out that if you want to make good falafel, you have to use fava beans. Live and learn:) And I found the recipe from Emeril, who as far as I'm concerned, almost never goes wrong.

If you cannot find skinless fava beans, you will need to peel them. This is most easily accomplished after the beans have soaked for a short while - the skins will puff up away from the bean and can then be peeled off. While this is not terribly difficult to do, it is very time consuming, so try to use skinless if you can source them.

If you love falafel like I do, give this recipe a try, instead of using the boxed ones, you will probably always use this recipe from now on.

I'm also adding a recipe to make the tahini paste, which is done using sesame seeds. Sesame seeds turn rancid quickly, so make certain yours are fresh. Be sure to store them away from light and heat and use quickly.

FALAFEL WITH TAHINI SAUCE

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups dried, peeled fava beans (skinless, split broad beans), soaked in cold water for 24 hours
1/3 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water for 24 hours
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup minced parsley leaves
1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon baking soda or baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
Tahini Sauce, for serving, recipe follows
Warm pita bread, split in 1/2 lengthwise
Sliced tomatoes
Shredded lettuce

Directions:
Drain and rinse both the fava beans as well as the chickpeas. Combine both beans in the bowl of a food processor, along with the onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, cumin, baking soda, salt, ground coriander, and cayenne, and pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until a coarse paste is formed. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water, if needed to make the paste hold together - you will have to remove the lid of the processor and check this by pressing some of the mixture together between your fingers. Add a bit more water, if necessary. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to rest for about 30 minutes.

Preheat at least 3-inches of oil in a saucepan or a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.
Scoop the fava-chick pea mixture into 1 1/2 to 2-tablespoon increments and, using your hands, shape into balls or patties about 1 1/2 to 2-inches in diameter. Gently lower the falafel balls into the hot oil (these are fragile - do not drop them or they will fall apart.) Fry the falafel in batches until crisp and brown, turning to promote even browning, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer to paper-lined plates to drain briefly before serving.

Open the pita bread halves and insert 2 or 3 falafel patties into each. Drizzle with the tahini sauce and layer the tomatoes and lettuce on top. Serve immediately.

TAHINI SAUCE

Ingredients:
1 cup tahini paste, recipe follows
1/4 cup plus more, if necessary, lemon juice
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 3/4 cup water, as needed
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Make the sauce by combining the tahini paste, lemon juice, and garlic in a bowl and stirring to combine. Add the water a little at a time as needed to form a smooth, creamy sauce approximately the thickness of heavy cream. (Note that the sauce might appear to separate for a bit before enough water has been added; just keep adding more water bit by bit and stirring until the sauce comes together.)

Season to taste with salt and more lemon juice, if necessary. Transfer to a nonreactive container and refrigerate until ready to serve the falafel.

Yield: about 2 cups

TAHINI PASTE

Ingredients:
4 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tepid water

Directions:
Place sesame seeds in a blender or food processor and grind until smooth. Add sesame oil and salt. Process until combined. With the motor running, add the water in a very slow, steady stream and blend until smooth.

Yield: about 1 cup

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Espresso Sambuca Tapioca Pudding

If you like pudding, and if you like tapioca you have to give this very easy dessert a try. The recipe is from Gourmet, and I prepare it when I'm in a hurry:)

My preference is to use the anisette instead of Sambuca which I can find at my local Greek/Armenian market. See which one you like better.

It's fun to serve it with coffee ice cream, and then some whipped cream to top it all. Yummm:)

ESPRESSO SAMBUCA TAPIOCA PUDDING

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons instant tapioca
5 teaspoons instant-espresso powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Sambuca or anisette

Accompaniment: lightly sweetened whipped cream

Directions:
Stir together milk, sugar, tapioca, espresso powder, and egg in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan and let stand 5 minutes.

Heat over moderately low heat, stirring, just until pudding reaches a simmer.

Stir in Sambuca and cool pudding, its surface covered directly with wax paper.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Makes 4 servings.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

Wonderful Cheesecake recipe from Bon Appetit. It is a chocolate wonder and really not much can be changed with this recipe.

But here are some suggestions:

Use semi sweet chocolate for the ganache to just change the coloring of the cake. And then add candied orange peels. Yum:)

You can also skip the chocolate ganache and use a raspberry sauce instead. And then top that with chocolate shavings. White chocolate shavings look good, and taste great.

Be careful with the egg. Don't mix it in if the chocolate is too hot, it will cook the egg. Wait for it to cool down.

Graham crackers, or chocolate graham crackers also work great for the bottom of the cake if you can't find wafers. You can even add some cinnamon to it, just to make it interesting. And make sure there is enough butter to cover the sides of the pan, otherwise the cake will stick to the sides.

Be careful not to overcook. When you see cracks on the sides, it probably is past the ready point. Check it. If you do have the time, cook on a water bath which will prevent the center of the cake from sinking.


DEEP DARK CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

Ingredients:

Crust:
24 chocolate wafer cookies (from one 9-ounce package)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Filling:
1 9.7-ounce bar 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large eggs

Topping:
3/4 cup whipping cream
6 ounces 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
Bittersweet chocolate curls

Directions:
For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Blend cookies in processor until finely ground; blend in sugar. Add melted butter and process until well blended.

Press crumbs evenly onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Bake just until set, about 5 minutes. Cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling:
Stir chopped chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water; cool chocolate until lukewarm but still pourable.

Blend cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa powder in processor until smooth. Blend in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lukewarm chocolate. Pour filling over crust; smooth top.

Bake until center is just set and just appears dry, about 1 hour. Cool 5 minutes. Run knife around sides of cake to loosen. Chill overnight.

For topping:
Stir cream, 6 ounces chocolate, and sugar in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Pour over center of cheesecake, spreading to within 1/2 inch of edge and filling any cracks. Chill until topping is set, about 1 hour.

Do ahead:
Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover with foil and keep refrigerated.

Release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Top with chocolate curls. Let stand 2 hours at room temperature before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Grilled Prosciutto, Soppressata and Mozzarella Panini

The ultimate Italian meats and cheese panini from Emeril. I had never thought of putting these meats together in a sandwich, but they are actually great together, especially as a panini. It becomes quite special. That's why I'm adding the recipe, I have to remember it:)

Although the recipe uses a pan to grill this sandwich, I used my panini maker which I love to use. It's faster and looks nicer.

The vinaigrette is also wonderful, which you can use with a submarine sandwich. But it is salty, so if you don't like too much salt, you can skip adding it or adjust it to your taste. Enjoy:)


GRILLED PROSCIUTTO, SOPPRESSATA, AND MOZZARELLA PANINI

Ingredients:

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices ciabatta bread, or other rustic Italian white bread, thinly sliced
4 ounces thinly sliced mozzarella
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
2 ounces thinly sliced soppressata

Directions:
Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to blend. Arrange the slices of bread on a flat work surface and, using a brush, divide the vinaigrette equally among 1 side of each slice.

Divide the mozzarella equally among the bread slices. Top 4 of the slices of bread equally with the prosciutto and soppressata and then place the remaining 4 slices on top.

Brush the outsides of each sandwich with some of the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Add the sandwiches and cook until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, pressing occasionally to compact with a large spatula or the bottom of a heavy small saucepan, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, May 9, 2008

Beef Tenderloin with Chanterelle Sauce

This is an easy to prepare mushroom sauce for any kind of beef. I don't remember where I had taken the recipe from, but I use it when I want to cook in a hurry.

If the mushrooms are small, you can leave them whole. And if you are in a hurry, you can just cook the beef in the pan, and then keep it warm in a 250 degree oven while preparing the sauce instead of cooking it in the oven.

If you prefer a creamy sauce, skip the tomato paste and use 1/2 cup whipping cream. Don't take the mushrooms out of the pan, just add everything and keep on cooking until sauce reduces. You can also add about 1/3 cup brandy to give it a zing.

BEEF TENDERLOIN WITH CHANTERELLE SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds beef tenderloin fillet
3 large garlic, pressed
2 tsp. crushed rosemary
salt and pepper, as needed
1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
5 ounces (about 2,5 cups sliced) chanterelle mushrooms
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon each tomato paste and Dijon mustard
big splash Worcestershire sauce
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoon cold butter, cut in pieces
1/2 pound baby carrots, steamed (optional)
1/2 pound asparagus tips, steamed (optional)
1/2 pound potatoes, boiled (optional)

Directions:
Rub beef with garlic and rosemary. Salt and pepper meat, if desired.

In a heavy medium skillet heat butter and olive oil to sizzling.

Brown fillet well on all sides over medium high heat.

Remove to oven pan. Roast at 350 F 30 to 40 minutes to preferred doneness (30 minutes for medium rare).

In drippings saute shallots and mushrooms for 5 minutes, stirring. Remove mushrooms; set aside.

Add broth, tomato paste, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne to skillet. Reduce sauce by half over medium heat.

Strain sauce. Return to skillet; heat through.

Whisk in a few pieces of cold butter at a time. Adjust seasoning. Return mushrooms to sauce.

Serve sliced fillet surrounded with vegetables and chanterelle sauce.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Handmade Pasta with Pancetta, Cherry Tomatoes and Herbs

I have never tried making pasta from home before, and when I saw this Bon Appetit recipe I decided to add it thinking I will try making it one day. An Italian friend's mom had prepared homemade pasta one day, and I can't forget the taste of it, so you can see why I had to add this recipe:) But first I think I need to buy a pastamaker.

For now, I have been buying fresh pasta from my local market and trying the sauce, which is great in itself.

The sauce is easy to make and very tasty, so that's the part of the recipe I have tried. The only note I can add is that you can try adding a little bit of cream at the end of saucemaking. It gives the sauce a creamy texture. I liked it better creamy.

Let me know how it comes out if you try to make the pasta at home:)


HANDMADE PASTA WITH PANCETTA, CHERRY TOMATOES, AND HERBS

Soft 00 flour (available at Italian markets) produces a more tender pasta, but all purpose flour works well, too.

Ingredients:
2 cups (or more) 00 flour
1 cup hot water, divided
4 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup chopped pancetta (Italian bacon)
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 cups small cherry tomatoes, halved
16 fresh basil leaves plus fresh sprigs for garnish
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese plus additional Romano cheese, shaved

Directions:
Place 2 cups flour in large bowl. Make well in center. Add 1/2 cup hot water, 4 teaspoons oil, and pinch of salt to well and stir to combine. Gradually mix flour into wet ingredients, adding remaining 1/2 cup water to form soft dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth, adding more flour if sticky, about 5 minutes. Gather dough into ball. Transfer dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 1 hour at room temperature.

Lightly dust large baking sheet with flour. Place dough on work surface and cut off 1/2-inch-thick slice. Roll dough between palms of hands and lightly floured work surface to 1/3-inch-thick rope. Repeat with 5 more dough slices, rolling each into rope. Cut ropes into 1-inch lengths. Using 2 fingers, push fingertips into dough as you pull it toward you to form horizontal imprints. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough in batches.

Do ahead: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover with dry kitchen towel, then plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature.

Heat remaining 1/2 cup oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, pancetta, and pepper and sauté until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes with any juices and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Mix in 16 basil leaves and oregano. Season to taste with salt.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and boil until tender but still slightly firm to bite, about 10 minutes. Drain well; return to pot. Add half of sauce and 1/2 cup grated cheese and toss over medium heat until warm, about 2 minutes. Divide pasta among bowls. Spoon remaining sauce over. Garnish with basil sprigs. Serve, passing shaved cheese separately.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tomato Ricotta Tart

This one is such an easy recipe from Martha Stewart, and such a great representation for something so basic.

I love this tart because it has all the ingredients I love and when put together like in this recipe, it is yummy:)

To me it tastes better warm, but it also makes a great leftover for breakfast. Enjoy:)

TOMATO-RICOTTA TART

Ingredients:

2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing over tart
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds thinly sliced beefsteak tomatoes

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450°.

In a 9-inch springform pan, toss breadcrumbs with olive oil; press evenly into bottom.

In a bowl, whisk ricotta with Parmesan, eggs, and basil; season generously with salt and pepper. Spread over crust; arrange tomatoes on top. Brush with olive oil.

Bake until tomatoes are almost dry, 35 to 45 minutes; let cool. Unmold. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Potato and Pea Salad with Chive Aioli

A very tasty potato salad recipe from Bon Appetit which uses Aioli, the garlicky Provençal mayonnaise, which is accented with chives and Dijon mustard. And it's really very easy to make.

I use non fat mayo for the dressing and you can't even taste the difference, I'm trying to cut down the calories:)

I don't like celery, so I substitute with cucumbers, which I love. If you have the time, you can take the seeds out of the cucumber, I actually like it with the seeds.
Be careful with the garlic. I do like garlic but this was a bit much. Add less than what recipe calls for and see if you like it. If it doesn't taste garlicky enough, you can always add more.

I'm also not so crazy about peas, but I didn't taste it all that much in the recipe, so you can leave it alone if you don't like them and see if you like the salad with them. You can use frozen baby peas. I'm also trying to add veggies to my diet:)


POTATO AND PEA SALAD WITH CHIVE AIOLI

Ingredients:
3 pounds small red-skinned new potatoes, unpeeled
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups frozen green peas, thawed

1 cup mayonnaise
6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 25 minutes. Drain; cool. Cut potatoes into quarters. Transfer to large bowl; add vinegar and toss to coat. Mix in celery and peas.

Whisk mayonnaise, 5 tablespoons chives, mustard, garlic, and cayenne pepper in small bowl to blend. Add to potato mixture and toss. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Cover and chill at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon chives and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ratatouille Salad

Here is a great vegetable salad that's easy to make. I don't remember where I got the recipe from, but I do make small changes to the recipe.

Instead of boiling the eggplant, I grill it or roast it, depending on how much time I have.

I also like to grill the zucchini, but I keep the tomatoes fresh, grilling them doesn't work as a salad.

Add some goat cheese, and it becomes heavenly. You can even add some black olives to make it saltier. I like olives in salads, so I always seem to add them:)

You can substitute balsamic vinegar instead of lemon. It makes it richer.

Serve with some country bread that has been oiled and grilled. And some red wine and you have a complete meal:)


RATATOUILLE SALAD

Ingredients:
1 small eggplant (1 pound)
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced (2 cups)
1 small onion, sliced and separated into rings
1 small green bell pepper, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:
Cut eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat 1 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boiling in 3-quart saucepan. Add eggplant. Cover and heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 5 to 8 minutes or until tender; drain.

Mix oil, lemon juice, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the mustard and pepper in large glass or plastic bowl. Add eggplant and remaining ingredients; toss.

Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours or until chilled.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Grilled Eggplant Spread and Spiced Pita Toasts

This is really very similar to the eggplant salad that is served in Turkey. We just don't use red onions and parsley in the salad, but when I saw this recipe from Gourmet, I thought it would be good with it, so I tried to give it a try. I'm glad I did. Below you will also find a pita crisps recipe to go with the eggplant spread.

Although the recipe looks like it will need a grill, I use my gas burner. Just put the eggplant on and char it, then you do get the smoky taste. You don't have to worry about the insides cooking, it actually does:) Just keep turning it around until every bit is charred. If you don't want to have too much of a mess on the burner use a pizza pan for the oven, the kind that has holes in it. It takes a little bit longer but at least there is no mess to clean up afterward.

You don't have to make the pita toasts; you can probably find ready made pita chips at your local market. But the cumin in the recipe below tastes great with the spread. I don't ever remember making anything a day ahead, so I just let the eggplant drain while I wait for the pita to get ready, which is about 45 minutes.

You can also use this spread with steak or chicken sandwiches. It tastes heavenly as a condiment. Enjoy:)

GRILLED EGGPLANT SPREAD

Ingredients:
4 pounds medium eggplants
1 small red onion
2 large garlic cloves
2/3 cup packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Directions:
Prepare grill.

Pierce eggplants in several places with a fork and grill on a rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals, turning them occasionally, until very soft, 30 to 40 minutes. (Alternatively, broil eggplants under a preheated broiler about 6 inches from heat 30 to 40 minutes. Broiled eggplant will not have a smoky flavor.)

Transfer eggplants to a colander and, when cool enough to handle, quarter lengthwise. With a small knife remove and discard as many seeds as possible. Scrape flesh into a large sieve set over a bowl, discarding skin. Drain eggplant, covered and chilled, 1 day.

Discard any juices from eggplant. Mince onion and garlic and finely chop parsley. In a food processor pulse eggplant with onion, garlic, parsley, and remaining ingredients until coarsely puréed. Transfer spread to a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Chill spread, covered, at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

Serve spread with pita toasts.

Makes about 3 cups.

SPICED PITA TOASTS

Ingredients:
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 cup olive oil
six 6-inch pitas with pockets

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a dry small heavy skillet toast seeds over moderate heat, shaking skillet, until fragrant, about 1 minute, and cool. In an electric coffee/spice grinder finely grind seeds and salt with paprika and in a bowl stir together with oil.

Split each pita into 2 rounds and brush rough sides with cumin oil. Cut each round into 8 wedges and arrange, rough sides up, on 2 large baking sheets. Bake wedges in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes total. Cool pita toasts on racks.

Pita toasts keep 5 days in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes 96 pita toasts.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Coconut Pecan Bars

These are great if you want to have a tasty dessert handy to put in the lunch box. The recipe is from Betty Croker, so you know you can't go wrong with it.:) I love both coconuts and pecans, so I had to give it a try.

I usually don't change things in the recipe if it involves baking, so I haven't touched this one either. Although if you read the recipe it does seem hard, it's very easy to make.


COCONUT-PECAN BARS

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:
Heat oven to 350ºF.

In small bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Stir in 1 cup flour. Pat in bottom of ungreased square pan, 9x9x2 inches. Bake 12 to 17 minutes or until very light brown.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat eggs slightly with wire whisk. Stir in vanilla. Gradually beat in brown sugar just until blended. Beat in 2 tablespoons flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt; mix well. Stir in coconut and pecans. Carefully spoon coconut mixture evenly over baked layer.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and filling is set. Cool 10 minutes. Run knife around edges of pan to loosen. Cool completely, about 1 hour. For bars, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows.

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