new spin on summer salad staple

 So bean salad is a summer staple. One bean, two bean, three bean and more.

I decided to change it up. I took half a bag each of Goya dried navy beans and pinto beans yesterday and put them in to soak with salt and water overnight. I then cooked them according to directions on their packaging this morning.

While the beans were cooling I minced three large cloves of garlic, chopped fine one large red onion, chopped one fresh red bell pepper, peeled and chopped one fresh cucumber, and tossed into a bowl.

To that bowl I added salt and pepper to taste, 3 tablespoons of white table sugar , a bunch of fresh dill chopped, and a third of a cup of Italian flat leaf parsley chopped.

I mixed the salt and pepper, herbs and spices, along with the vegetables and drizzled olive oil and rice wine vinegar and red wine vinegar over the top of it and stirred some more.  I always add more vinegar than oil to bean salads.

I should’ve measured exactly how much oil and vinegar but I didn’t I’m sorry- you want basically enough that your salad gets coated and sort of pickled  but not enough that it swimming in dressing.

Last but not least I tossed in the beans which I had drained and mixed everything together, as well as adjusted for salt and pepper. I will now chill the salad down until this evening but it looks beautiful and tastes terrific!

summer dinner

  It’s been a brutally hot week and I’m having people for dinner. We will start with Mutabbal which is basically Egyptian baba ghanouj and pita.

Next to accompany a marinated roast we will be grilling we will also be grilling marinated veggie shish kebabs, lentil salad, and for dessert a simple summer trifle.

Guests may have sparkling water, ice tea, a lovely rosé wine or glass of Sancerre.

vegetables marinating for veggie shish kebab. Marinade marinade made with an Arabian spice blend known as Baharat

 

Lentil salad made witjh red and regular lentils, for grated carrots, one purple onion, one small purple bell pepper, halved grape tomatoes, Italian flat leaf parsley and fresh basil diced, a simple vinaigrette made with lemon juice lemons asked, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, cumin

 

Mutabbal- two cans drained canned chickpeas, tahini paste, olive oil, one roasted white egg plant and one roasted red pepper, half an onion, three cloves of garlic, a few dashes of Tabasco, Stonington sea salt, a little fresh parsley, juice of one large lemon and zest as well, paprika, cumin, couple dashes of Ras el Hanout. Purée and refrigerate and serve with pita.

Summer trifle made with rasberries, blueberries, lady fingers, lemon and coconut puddings

cooking gnocchi with mushrooms


I ended up having some people over for dinner last night.  So I butterflied a big roaster chicken and roasted Julia Child style simply with fresh herbs (you can see the chicken in the photo at the bottom of the page – that was what it looked like as it went into the oven – I forgot to take its picture when it came out). 

I served with a fresh mixed green salad to which I added a simple balsamic mustard vinaigrette, and the starch was homemade gnocchi with mushrooms. Dessert in case you were wondering was sliced fresh strawberries from Kimberton Whole Foods.

I have previously given you my gnocchi recipe. So use that as your guide to rolling them out until little logs and slicing them into bite-size pieces, but the dough composition is different and here’s how I did it:

 
1 egg beaten
 
4 to 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
 
2  medium sized (not huge) potatoes roasted skins removed and smashed up
 
1 cup of ricotta strained to remove any extra liquid – whole milk is best
 
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
 
About 2 cups of flour, maybe  less – add half a cup at a time to your dough to see. You don’t want a dry dough with gnocchi, it should always feel not quite sticky but more elastic.
 
1 tablespoon of rosemary leaves dried, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt.
 
Basically you mix it all together until becomes a dough but don’t overwork it. Then I throw a cloth over my bowl and allow the dough to rest for at least half an hour.
 
When your dough has rested, break off pieces of the dough and roll into little logs and slice into bite-size pieces from the log. You can roll them off the edge of the forks so they have those lines in them or you can cook them just the way they are.
 
After I make my gnocchi I lay them out on a large baking sheet on parchment paper and put it on a shelf by itself in the refrigerator till I am ready to cook.
 
 
The sauce is pretty simple:
 
Melt one stick of butter which is half a cup in a sauté pan – a large sauté pan because you will be adding the gnocchi to it later.
 
When the butter is melted and starting to bubble just a slight bit, add half a large red onion diced. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  Add one finely grated medium sized carrot.
 
After the onion starts to turn slightly translucent, add thinly sliced baby Bella  mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms, and a handful of white mushrooms. Basically you should use one 8 ounce package of shiitake, The same size package of baby Portabella mushrooms also known as crimini, and about 4 ounces of white mushrooms.
 
Next add a handful of fresh sage leaves chopped into small-ish pieces and about a teaspoon of dried rosemary  or if you have fresh dice up a smallish twig.
 
When everything seems to be cooked together fairly well but not mushy remove from heat.
 
I do the mushroom mixture ahead of time and not at the same time I am cooking my gnocchi because there is not enough time.
 
After the mushroom mixture is cooled use a slotted spoon and remove the vegetables to their own bowl for the time being. Leave the butter and liquid from mushrooms in the bottom of the pan.
 
Boil a large pot of salted water and when everything is really boiling toss in all your gnocchi.
 
The same time you are boiling your gnocchi bring the pan with the butter and the mushroom juices back up to heat. You may have to add about another tablespoon of butter and do add a scant 1/4 cup of white wine.  (Last night I was roasting a chicken as I was making these gnocchi for a side dish so I also tossed in 2 tablespoons of pan juices. ) You need that mixture to reach almost boil but not cook off. Also toss in two or three whole sage leaves.
 
The gnocchi will cook probably in about 3 to 4 minutes – when they all are bubbling to the surface and bobbing around, use a slotted spoon to remove them.
 
Put the gnocchi immediately into the pan with butter and wine that should be really bubbling at this point. Move the gnocchi around gently to brown slightly. As you are moving the gnocchi around gently add back the mushrooms and red onion to heat again.
 
Be careful  with your gnocchi they are a slightly delicate things but once everything is browned through toss half a cup of grated Parmesan on on top and some diced flat leaf parsley if you choose. Toss one more time into a bowl and serve.
 
 

oh my easter pies!

Savory Easter Pie

Savory Easter Pie

I was inspired by my friend Lisa DePaulo’s mom’s Easter Pizza recipe, but didn’t have everything on hand to make that recipe.  So I took my recent Ricotta Pie recipe and adapted it…to two pies in normal, not deep dish pie plates.

I ended up with a a pair of pies…and here is how I did it:

Preheat oven to 350°

Take ricotta pie recipe  and assemble the filling but ONLY add   2 tablespoons of sugar. Add the vanilla and add the lemon zest of one fresh lemon. Do not add the orange zest.

Take two piecrusts and line two regular pie plates. Put in refrigerator to keep dough chilled.

Split your ricotta mixture in half into two large bowls.

In one bowl which will be your sweet pie add the sweet ingredients (1/2 of the sugar or 1/2 a cup, lemon zest, candied citron/lemon/orange peel, cinnamon, white raisins if you want and even 1/3 cup UNSWEETENED coconut), and there you have the mixture for the sweet Easter or ricotta pie.

In the second bowl (for the savory Easter pie)  beat in one more egg, add half a cup of Parmesan and Romano cheese mixture, and a about 4 to 5 ounces of grated cheddar. I prefer a sharp and white cheddar very dry. Add a little salt and pepper to taste, and a little dill and thyme and tarragon.

In a small sauté pan sauté with 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter melted add  2/3 cup of diced ham, one onion, and eight or nine baby bella mushrooms. Sauté down and drain of any liquid. Set aside to cool slightly. Some dill, oregano, thyme, tarragon to taste. I do not add any extra salt because of the salt in the ham.

Put the meat mixture into the bottom of one of your pie crusts in the pie plates and pour the savory ricotta cheese mixture over.

Pour  your sweet ricotta pie mixture into your other prepared pie crust and plate and you can bake them together in the oven for about an hour – you’re going to have to start checking at about 55 minutes- this is my first time through doing it this way so you guys are learning with me! I took about 1 hour and 10 minutes baking both – the savory dinner pie in the end was ready before the dessert pie.

Both pies turned out ok and are honestly very tasty and disappearing fast, although I probably should have taken both pies out of the oven at the 1 hour mark.

Buona Pasqua!

Sweet Easter Pie

Sweet Easter Pie

 

little old italian lady in training 



I became a bit of an Italian cliché today, or a little old Italian lady in training, take your pick.

I made sauce, I made gnocchi, and I made a ricotta pie.

I will give you the recipe below I used a roll out store-bought crust this time –Pillsbury  brand.

Deep dish pie plate required.

Preheat oven to 350°

Follow instructions on premade piecrust – I like using my own pie plates so I get the Pillsberry brand piecrust when I don’t feel like making my own crust. 

So I laid my piecrust in my pan, fluted the edges of the crust and tossed in the freezer while I mixed up the ricotta mixture.

Beat 5 eggs and  1 tablespoon vanilla together. (my mother bought me back this amazing Mexican vanilla on her last trip there and that is what I use today – the flavor is better I think than regular vanilla.)

Mix in with electric mixer 1/4  cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the grated rind of one fresh lemon and one fresh orange. (I had some blood oranges and so that is the grated orange rind that I used today.)

Mix in with electric mixer 1 cup of white sugar and beat together well.

Beat in 3 1/2 cups of whole milk ricotta cheese. When mixture is well mixed, you next stir in 1/3 cup candied minced orange peel and 1/3 cup candied minced lemon peel.

Get out your pie shell in your deep dish pie plate and carefully pour the creamy ricotta cheese mixture into the piecrust.

 Bake at 350° until firm and light brown on top approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

You can either serve this at room temperature or chilled.

Enjoy!

coffee butterscotch bread pudding

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Winter means comfort food desserts as well as comfort food entrees. Here’s an easy bread pudding that you will like.

My friend Linda makes homemade extracts so I use her coffee extract in this and I have approximated how much regular espresso you would use in place of the extract.

1 package of potato rolls (about 12 oz) cubed into bite sized pieces and left sitting out a couple of hours to get stale

3 eggs beaten
4 cups whole or 2% milk
1/2 cup butter melted
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons coffee extract or half a shot of espresso
1 1/4 cup of butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350°.

Butter a 9 x 13″ baking dish. I have a deeper square one I like to use that accommodates the same amount of liquids and food. It’s a vintage Pyrex that is square and deep.

Melt the butter in the microwave for only as long as it takes to melt it which is under a minute and set aside.

Separately in a large bowl beat eggs, milk, sugars, coffee extract/espresso together.

Stir in butter that you have melted into egg/milk/sugars mixture.

Put cubed potato bread and butterscotch chips in buttered baking dish and mix together evenly. Pour the liquid mixture over the bread and chips and give an additional stir. The whole thing will be a big goopy mess.

Place pan that you have put the pudding in into a Bain Marie (fancy name for a larger pan with hot water and at the water should only go about half up side of your baking dish) and place entire thing in oven.

Bake for between one hour and one hour and 20 minutes. Pudding will be nearly set coming out of the oven or have a good jiggle to it.

Serve warm or cold.

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quiche with ham, broccoli, and spinach….and a side of teenager

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Yes….how to get more vegetables into your teenager. Of course my teenager has just decreed that he’s not eating any quiche.

(Deep breath…..deep breath…..)

As parents is incredibly frustrating when you are going out of your way to try to make things that will be appealing to them, and then they won’t even try things if they are in a teenage mood. Well the teen can try it, right? Not everything can be of the favorite teenage boy food group of starch sugar and more starch. He was much easier to feed when he was 10, and he was actually open to trying new things and allowing things that were green and vegetable like to pass his lips regularly.

Of course if I had a show on Food Network like Nancy Fuller or Martha Stewart or Ree Drummond or Ina Garten everybody would sit magically around the table which would be set beautifully to perfection every night and eat everything that I made and rave….LOL reality is far different!

Okay enough venting my frustration over the eating habits and mercurial moods of the teenage male! I just have to keep repeating “I love my teenager I love my teenager I love my teenager I love my teenager“.

I think out there somewhere there must be a 12 step program for surviving the teenage years. They really aren’t mutant ninja secret agent super gamer teenage cave dwellers who have taken a vow of silence. My brother-in-law humorously noted recently that the average teenage boy doesn’t really start conversing with adults again until they hit 18 or 19.

Anyway I know this quiche will be delicious. The wine depicted in the photo is for adults in the house.

So how this recipe came about: I had ham leftover from New Year’s. I had frozen the bone for an upcoming lentil soup, but decided to go quiche with the remaining ham meat.

First I made my crust – I am into these herbs and savory crusts these days, so the recipe for this particular crust is below the rest of the quiche recipe.

Once I had rolled out my crust and fit it into my 9 1/2 inch vintage glass dish pie plate, put that in the refrigerator to keep cool well I got to work on the rest of the quiche.

Somewhere during the crust making process I preheated my oven to 375°.

My next step involves the ingredients below:

1 1/2 cups cubed ham
1/2 cup grape tomatoes sliced thin
1 medium onion chopped small
1 cup fresh broccoli diced
Dash of salt fresh cracked pepper
Dash of Cumin

For all those ingredients listed above, sauté with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes, maybe 15. Turn off heat and set-aside.

Okay now that that part was complete and the crust was chilling, comes the next step before assembly. It involves the ingredients below:

1 3/4 cups shredded Swiss and Gruyere cheese
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
Dash sriracha sauce

1/2 cup fresh baby spinach stems removed

In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs milk salt, pepper herbs and spices. Add your dash of sriracha sauce.

Fold in the cheese. Take your piecrust out of the refrigerator and place in the center of a rimmed baking sheet – I use a professional jellyroll pan. First layer in the ham mixture from your sauté pan, then add baby spinach – the leaves are so small I don’t bother to chop up. Finally add your shredded cheese.

Place quiche on your baking sheet and your preheated 375° oven. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving. I don’t like eating boiling hot quiche so I will let mine sit 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve with a green salad.

Oops, I almost forgot, here is how I made the crust:

1/2 teaspoon each rosemary, marjoram, tarragon
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3 Tbs. very cold buttermilk

Directions:
To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives or yes your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together. Form dough into a ball and flatten slightly on a floured surface roll out. Put in your pie plate crimp the edges, and refrigerate why you assemble the rest of your quiche.