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Orange Olives

October 19, 2014


Eat like a Mediterranean and live longer. OR…I would just like to live longer IN the Mediterranean!! After returning from a visit to Italy, it is clear that the Mediterranean diet is working on those people!! The diet is varied containing nuts, legumes, olives, olive oil, fish, whole grains and red wine. Most of the diet came out of necessity… eating what’s in your backyard and the unaffordability of meat and cheese. The classic diet includes eating olives…..every day!! The benefits of consuming olives or olive oil everyday are huge… they contain valuable amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflamatory nutrients benefiting high blood pressure, cancer and arthritis. Randy and I consumed our fair share of olives over the last few weeks…from olive oil, marinated olives… ohhh and perhaps a martini or two. So….. upon my re-entry I am starting out slowly and while we still have visions of olive and lemon groves on the mind, here is an easy and healthy appetizer to share. Add some fresh parmesan cheese drizzled with aged balsamic and of course a glass of red wine! Godere!!

Orange Olives

Makes 1 pint jar

2 cups brine-cured olives

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon finely grated *orange zest

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed

1/2 teaspoon white-wine vinegar

Drain olive and tumble into a bowl. Pour in warm water to cover. Soak 15 minutes. Drain. Pat dry.

Roll olives into a medium skillet along with oil, thyme, zest, garlic, and fennel seeds. Cook over medium-high heat until garlic turns fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in vinegar. Serve warm or cold.

* I originally made these with lemon zest….in keeping with the lemon groves we visited.  While tasty, I found the orange zest flavor was a better marriage.

Adapted from Bon Appetit







“La Dolce Vita”

October 12, 2014



While I’m gathering my thoughts, unpacking our bags and getting my camera repaired (ughhh) enjoy these pictures taken on a trip to beautiful Italy. A country known to the world as a “living art gallery” filled with art and architectural masterpieces, it’s a visit that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Ahh…but let’s talk Italian cuisine; it’s simple, vibrant, subtle, delicious and diverse. There are many regional variations of cooking throughout Italy, but in general grain foods such as pasta, bread, rice, and polenta are mixed in a variety of interesting ways with vegetables, beans, fish, poultry, nuts, cheeses and meat. AND the wine…..with vineyards dotting the Tuscan landscape, we enjoyed Chianti Classico, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese and many other varietals in a region where Chianti was born. Days filled with touring and ending with a beautiful meal will be forever etched in our memories of traveling to this breathtaking country.

As I get back into the swing of cooking, I will be mindful of my experience and hope to share a few culinary highlights on Shreddedsprout.




























Chicken Cacciatore

September 19, 2014

DSC_0851 Chicken Cacciatore is a classic Italian comfort food. Cooking this rustic style, hearty dish makes for a perfect meal transitioning into the cooler months. Cacciatore means hunter in Italian. Hunt for your favorite version of this dish by adding cremini mushrooms, olives, red wine or other tasty ingredients. I am following the Northern Italian style by adding red pepper, onion, capers and white wine. This recipe is a simple combinations of flavors and perfect for casual entertaining. Serve over polenta or your favorite pasta. Godetevi questo gustoso pasto!

Chicken Cacciatore

Serves 4

4 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

*This recipe freezes well…think of doubling and storing in freezer bags.

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly. In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.

Transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with basil and serve.

Adapted from Giada Laurentiis





Sweet Corn Soup With Toasted Corn Guacamole

September 11, 2014


Make this soup! A simple, delicious, fresh corn soup with a touch of southwest flavors. The Avocado Salsa has the perfect mix of sweet and savory, with the poblano’s giving it a nice kick. This comfy soup has a creamy texture and is loaded with fiber, antioxidants and minerals. Thanks to Barb, my Canadian girlfriend for the inspiration!

Sweet Corn Soup with Toasted Corn Guacamole
Serves 4
8 ears fresh sweet corn
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup shallots, chopped  (2 medium)
1 poblano pepper, roasted, skin removed and chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon lime peel
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse pepper
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 cup queso fresco cheese, crumble
Using a sharp knife, cut the corn kernels off the cobs (should have about 4 cups). Set aside 3/4 cup of the corn for the guacamole. Set aside three of the corn cobs; discard remaining cobs.
In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the shallots, half of the poblano pepper, and half of the garlic. Cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes or until shallots are tender. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth and reserved corn cobs to the skillet. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove corn cobs and discard, reserve broth in skillet.
Add the 3 1/4 cups corn kernels to the broth in the skillet. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes or until corn is tender. Cool slightly. In a blender or food processor combine cooked corn and shallot mixture. Cover and blend or process until almost smooth. Return pureed mixture to the skillet. Slowly whisk in enough remaining broth to reach desired consistency,  heat through. Keep soup warm while preparing guacamole.
For guacamole, in a large skillet heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the 3/4 cup reserved corn kernels. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until kernels are tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
In a medium bowl combine toasted corn, the remaining garlic, the remaining shallot, the remaining poblano pepper, the cilantro, lime peel, lime juice, salt, and black pepper. Add the avocado. Lightly toss to combine.
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with guacamole and sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco cheese.
Adapted from    Better Homes And Gardens

The Original Plum Torte

September 3, 2014
The New York Times published Marian Burros’s recipe for this Plum Torte every September from 1983 until 1995…the most famous recipe ever printed in the NYT. It’s perfect in its simplicity. Only eight ingredients, all of which, except the Italian plums, are most likely in your kitchen. When this torte cooks with the bittersweet plums, the fruit softens and creates a jammy consistency. These plums, also referred to as prune plums or quetche (in France), only appear for a very short time…September and October. While these egg-shaped, purple skinned plums can be eaten raw they are best cooked. Wait (if you can) til the next day to serve….the torte sets up with all the juices creating a beautifully moist, custard-like cake. This iconic cake freezes well so you may want to think…holidays.

The Original Plum Torte
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Large pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 to 2 tablespoon
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
12 smallish purple Italian purple plums, halved and pitted
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat over to 350°. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and scraping down the bowl, then the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.Spoon batter into an ungreased 9-inch springform pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums, skin side up, all over the batter, covering it. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice, then cinnamon and sugar (mix together). Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into a center part of the cake comes out free of batter, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool.
Once cool, leave it covered at room temperature overnight as this cake really is even better on the second day. Or maybe you can’t wait….that’s OK too.
**This was my second attempt making the torte. Unable to find the small Italian plums, I used 6 large. The result was tasty but the size of the plums did not create as moist of a cake as those little jewels.
Adapted from    The New York Times

Honey-Ginger Chicken With Lime

August 28, 2014


What a perfect entree for a beautiful Farm to Table dinner. This lovely evening started with fresh vegetable bruschetta, a puffed prosciutto appetizer and a few raw vegetables with green goddess dressing for dipping. The dinner began with a  Thomas Keller gazpacho topped with kernels of sweet caramelized corn, followed by a beautifully presented spinach and caprese salad. The main event was this Ginger Lime Chicken (thanks Marsha) over a bed of roasted garden vegetables and orzo. There’s an awful lot of flavor in this dish…the tangy lime, the kick of ginger and the aromatic combination of spices. The sauce was delicious with its sweet, tangy notes and was drizzled over the caramelized thighs. The dish pulls together in only 45 minutes (as noted in Quick and Easy Menus, Food and Wine /July 2014) which makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner but impressive for entertaining. The evening ended with Peach Cobbler topped with Bourbon Vanilla ice cream. Magical!












Honey-Ginger Chicken with Lime

Servings 4
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup minced fresh ginger
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest
4 chicken legs, cut into drumsticks and thighs  (I used just thighs)
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Lime wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a bowl, whisk the vinegar, honey, ginger, jalapeño, garam masala, coriander, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper and 3 teaspoons of the lime zest. Prick the chicken with a fork, add it to the bowl and toss. In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the remaining lime zest. In a large *ovenproof skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the oil over moderately high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning, until golden, 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the lime sugar and roast for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked (and caramelized). Add the lime juice and the remaining butter to the skillet. Serve the chicken with the pan juices and lime wedges.
*I transferred the chicken to casserole pan and baked (due to the quantity I made). Then de-glaze the pan to create the sauce.
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Summer Cucumber Drink

August 23, 2014




This is a  light and refreshingly cool summer drink. The clean, crisp flavor of garden fresh cucumbers standout, while the mint adds a sweet herbal note and the lime adds just enough zing.  Add Vodka or Gin and you’ve got yourself a summer stunner.

The Cuke

Serves 6

6 limes
1 cup packed mint leaves, just the leaves, plus 6 sprigs for garnish
3 unwaxed cucumbers
½ cup sugar
2 cups vodka or gin, preferably Hendrick’s gin
Sparkling water

Adapted from The Kitchn

Thinly slice 3 limes and place in a pitcher. Juice the rest of the limes and add juice to the pitcher. Add mint leaves. Add two sliced cucumbers, then sugar. Muddle ingredients. Add vodka or gin. Place in refrigerator to steep 30 minutes or longer. Peel remaining cucumber and cut lengthwise into 6 spears.

Fill 6 large glasses with ice. Strain mixture from pitcher into each glass. Top with a splash of sparkling water, garnish each glass with a sprig of mint and a cucumber spear, and serve.





Grilled Veggie Sandwich

August 15, 2014



What to do with all the goodies from your local Farmer’s Market? Try this grilled veggie sandwich. Combine all your favorite produce…slice, grill, add a savory spread, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, a soft, whole wheat bakery roll and you have yourself a delicious meal. Satisfying and healthy!!!

Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Ricotta Spread
Makes 2 Sandwiches
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon each of fresh basil, chives and parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Portobello mushroom
Zucchini, sliced lengthwise, as many slices as you want
Yellow squash, sliced lengthwise, as many slices as you want
Eggplant, sliced into rounds
1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced into rounds
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced in half or quarters
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 loaf ciabatta bread or other soft bread sliced into 6-inch sections and cut in half
1/2 cup arugula leaves or spinach
Balsamic glaze
These vegetables are a suggestion, be creative.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, fresh herbs, garlic clove, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix until smooth. Set aside.
Oil the grill. Preheat the grill on medium high for 10-15 minutes. Drizzle the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil and season with dried oregano and kosher salt and pepper. Drizzle some additional olive oil on the cut side of roll.
Place the vegetables on the grill and cook for 5 minutes. (Keep a close watch , depending on the veggie…they cook at different times) Flip veggies when they start to soften and grill marks develop. Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes. Toast the roll. Spread the herbed ricotta mixture on the roll slices. Top the bottom roll with layers of grilled vegetables and arugula or spinach, then drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from  Foodiecrush


Peach Cobbler

August 9, 2014

DSC_0451 A cobbler is simple. A homey, comfortable ending that typically shows up at a summer BBQ. In the height of your local farmer’s market harvest, peaches and our favorite berries are bountiful…perfect for this seasonal favorite. Top the sweet filling with a crisp, yet tender biscuit. As a perfect companion add a scoop of vanilla bourbon ice cream.

Peach Cobbler            Adapted from  Allrecipes

Peach Filling

8 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges, 8-10 cups

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

12 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into pieces

1/2 cup boiling water

Cinnamon Sugar Topping  

1/3 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, combine all the dry ingredients for the peach filling. Stir to combine and then pour into a large 9×13 baking dish. Bake the peach mixture in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

While the peaches are baking, combine the  dry topping ingredients and whisk to combine. Blend in the chilled butter, using a pastry blender or your fingertips. Stir in the boiling water, just until combined.

Remove the peaches from the oven and drop the topping over them in spoonfuls. (I like to use my smallest cookie scoop to do this.) Sprinkle the cobbler topping with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake until the crust is golden and a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whip cream.

FREEZER DIRECTIONS: The peach filling can be prepared and frozen in advance. Combine the peach filling ingredients in a large ziplock bag. When you are ready to bake the cobbler, thaw in the refrigerator and then pour into the baking dish and proceed with the recipe.

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Roasted Green Beans

August 2, 2014


What’s your favorite way to eat freshly picked green beans? Mine is raw….. until now. Roasting these summer farm stand faves highlight their sweet flavor. The result turns these beans to a nutty, caramelized, crispy side dish.

Roasted Green Beans
Serves 4-6
2 lbs green beans
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (use only enough to lightly coat)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Pistachio nuts, chopped
Orange zest (garnish) and a squeeze of juice to finish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Clean, trim, and dry beans. Place beans in a bowl and toss with olive oil (lightly coat). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place beans on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread in a single layer. Roast 20-25 minutes, turn after 15 minutes. Cook til brown and desired crispness. Sprinkle with pistachios and squeeze a bit of fresh orange juice. Garnish with orange zest. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The beans really shrivel up so plan on eating more than you might think!!!


Zucchini Bread

July 28, 2014
Zucchini bread probably conjures up the memories. Gram’s cooking or picking zucchini in your family garden or even …well I have no zucchini bread flashbacks and this is the first time I’ve ever made it. It will not be the last!!. This bread has a soft and moist texture….thanks to all the shredded zucchini. It also has just the right amount of sweetness and the perfect touch of cinnamon. This recipe pulls together in about 15 minutes and is your cup of coffee’s best friend.
Zucchini Bread     Adapted from All Recipes
Makes 2 loaves
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Beat eggs, oil vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and completely cool.

Huevos Rancheros

July 21, 2014

DSC_0418The British Open and a festive breakfast was the start to a Funday Sunday. We decided to invite friends over early to watch golf, enjoy Huevos Rancheros, Bloodies…..and then play a round!!! (O.K. so this meal may have been more successful than my golf game!) Mexican fare is my go-to order for breakfast out, so I wanted to find an easy and delicious recipe for my fav…here it is!! The black bean and salsa components are as simple as adding a few ingredients into a processor. Lightly toast the corn tortillas, fry up your eggs and assemble. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, avocado and a few cilantro sprigs. A platter of watermelon lightly salted, a few lime wedges and cilantro, rounds out your meal.

Huevos Rancheros

Makes 4

3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 corn tortillas

1 cup black beans (from a can, drained and rinsed)

2 clove garlic

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 cup salsa (store-bought or home-made)

4 eggs

2 Tablespoons sour cream or more

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Avocado, sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper


In a food processor, add the beans, garlic, cumin, chili powder, a teaspoon of oil (or until desired consistency), salt and pepper. Puree. Transfer to a small sauce pan and set it on a low heat. Heat through. Remove from heat.

Put a skillet over the burner and add a bit of oil. Lightly fry each tortilla until slightly browned and bubbly. (or toast over gas flame) Transfer to a plate.

Add a teaspoon of oil and a little butter to the skillet and crack your eggs. Continue to fry the eggs (medium-low heat) until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.

In the meantime, spread the bean mixture over each tortilla, followed by the salsa. Then top each with an egg. Dollop with a little more salsa, fresh cilantro sprigs, salt and pepper.

Make ahead: You can make the salsa and bean mixture the day before. Warm up before assembling.

Adapted from  Bev Wiedner





Steak Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing

July 13, 2014



Dinner in 15 minutes! I think you will find the combination of fresh greens and a hearty flavorful steak spiced with an earthy dressing, the perfect weeknight meal. While the steak is cooking, assemble your salad and whip up this easy topping. Make it your own by adding additional ingredients….radishes and cherry tomatoes.

Steak Salad       Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 (10-12 ounce) boneless strip steaks, 1 inch thick, trimmed

Salt and Pepper

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

2 romaine lettuce hearts, torn into bite size pieces

1 beet, trimmed, peeled and grated      (while this is a quick option, I will cook and cube the beets next time I make this…..or pick up a few from the salad bar at my local market!  They have more flavor.)

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Start your grill or heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add steaks to the skillet and cook until well browned and meat registers 120 to 125 degrees (medium- rare) 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk sour cream, lemon juice, chives and horseradish together in large bowl.

Slice steaks thin. Add lettuce, beet, and walnuts and dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide salad and slice of steak evenly among plates and serve.



Fire-Roasted Red Pepper Relish

July 6, 2014


In anticipation of a bumper crop of red peppers, I have been searching for recipes….and this is a beauty! The Mediterranean overtones of this simple relish pair perfectly with a hearty white fish or grilled chicken. Serve over a bed of nutrient packed micro-greens simply dressed with a touch of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Pepper Relish            (Adapted from Fine Cooking)

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, rough chopped

2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon capers

1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon jalapeno, minced

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon plus a squeeze of lemon

Salt and pepper

Prepare grill. Place whole peppers on grill or cut the tops and bottoms from the peppers and cut the peppers into 3 or 4 flat pieces. Grill the pepper sides and bottoms skin side down until blistered and charred all over, 6 to 8 minutes. Put the peppers in a bowl and cover with a plate. Let sit until cool enough to handle. Peel the charred skin and discard. Cut the peppers into bite-size pieces or wide strips.

Put the pepper pieces in a medium bowl and add the remaining ingredients, stirring well and seasoning to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

The relish keeps well in the refrigerator in a sealed container for at least a week. It’s best to make it a couple of hours ahead to allow the flavors to develop.










Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

June 28, 2014
One of my most popular posts to date is the Marinated Mozzarella appetizer, inspired by my favorite blog Lottie and Doof. I returned to this award-winning site in an anticipation of a bumper crop of carrots, (fingers crossed Sil and Courtney). For this recipe I par boiled carrots earlier in the day which made for a quick side to a grilled pork tenderloin. Not only is this dish a show stopper, the flavor profile of cumin, thyme, garlic and a hint of citrus work well with the carrots. The dollop of sour cream will surprise you and there are lots of alternatives for this tasty topper.   Check out the Lottie and Doof site where they highlight this recipe (and the beautiful Public House Hotel) that appears on the Pump Room Menu.
Roast Carrot and Avocado Salad 
Serves 4                                                                       
Adapted from Lottie and Doof, and ABC Kitchen
1.5 pounds medium carrots, peeled
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2-1 teaspoon red chile flakes, to taste
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 orange, halved
2 lemons, halved
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into thin wedges
1/3 cup sour cream  (or Greek yogurt)
micro greens
¼ cup sunflower seeds, toasted
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted
¼ cup white sesame seeds, toasted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook until just barely tender, about 10 minutes.
With a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, cumin, thyme, chili, 1½ tsp. salt, and ¾ tsp. pepper until crushed and pasty or in a blender.
Add the vinegar and ¼ c. of the olive oil and continue pounding until well-mixed. (Or a food processor until pasty.)
Drain carrots and arrange in a single layer in a medium roasting pan. Spoon the cumin mixture over, toss to coat. Cut the whole orange in half. Arrange the 2 orange halves and 2 of the lemon halves over the carrots, cut-side down. Roast for 25 minutes or until carrots are golden brown.
Carefully transfer the carrots to a platter. When cool enough to handle, squeeze 2 tablespoons  juice each from the roasted orange and lemon into a small bowl. Squeeze in 3 tablespoons juice from the remaining uncooked lemon halves. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the carrots to your liking, reserving some for the next step. Arrange the carrots on a serving platter. Arrange the avocado and sprouts on top. Drizzle with reserved sauce. Dollop sour cream or yogurt over the top, then sprinkle with toasted seeds. Serve.DSC_0293

Lobster Mac N Cheese

June 19, 2014


A very special side dish or a decadent entree…you choose. I’m pairing this rich, indulgent dish with BBQ’d Ribs. The tender chunks of fresh lobster are king here mixing well with the combination of Gruyere and cheddar cheese. Like I said, this is a very special meal for the MVP of our family…Dad! We can talk healthy food tomorrow!! Today I feel we should spoil the man with comfort food…after all he has kept us all comfortable for years.

Lobster Mac N Cheese

Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 cups milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Boil water in a large pot and generously salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes or a casserole dish.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Adapted from Food Network/Ina Garten





Strawberry And Rhubarb Compote with Pork Tenderloin

June 14, 2014




A match made in heaven. Strawberries and Rhubarb. Typically, this combination is seen on the dessert table. I like the idea of a savory dish and am pairing this seasonal side with pan seared pork tenderloin. The flavor components work well with pork (or chicken) and kumquats add a punch of citrus. This recipe yields about 2 plus cups of compote……leftovers…always a nice topping for vanilla ice cream.


Serves 6

2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cumin

1 sprig of rosemary (optional)

1 cup kumquats (about 10), cut in half OR 1 Tablespoon orange zest

2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin (about 2 tenderloins)

Mix all ingredients (first 11) together in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and then simmer for approximately 15 minutes until thick. (Remove rosemary sprig) Using a “smasher”…smash away!

For the pork, cover with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 150°F, turning pork occasionally, about 8 minutes longer for medium tenderloins and 10 minutes for large.

Transfer pork to cutting board; let rest 5 minutes. Cut pork crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; arrange on platter. Serve with Compote.

Adapted from Bon Apetit


Squash Blossoms Stuffed With Ricotta And Goat Cheese

June 9, 2014

 photo (1)Squash blossoms are the beautiful, yellow edible flowers that grow with zucchini and a variety of summer squash. They have a subtle flavor and make the perfect vessel for delicious fillings. Squash blossoms are a seasonal treat and sadly, hard to find in traditional grocery stores due to how incredibly perishable they are. Search for these blossoms at your farmers markets. These beauties came from my garden (yep, I have a garden!!!) that I’m sharing with friends, Sil and Courtney (@alifefromscratch). Courtney researched how to harvest the flowers and discovered you only pick the male flower as the female flower produces the fruit. (Who knew??) Once picked, they are best used within a few hours to a day or so. These delicacies not only make a pretty appetizer they are also high in calcium, iron, vitamin A and C. I filled the flowers with a combination of ricotta and goat cheese and paired them with a tomato dipping sauce. YUM!

Squash Blossoms

Tomato Sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pound plum tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Cook garlic and red pepper flakes in oil over medium heat, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, water, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, simmer until thickened, about 25 minutes.
 Squash Blossoms
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
1/2 cup goat cheese
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
12 to 16 large zucchini squash blossoms
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chilled seltzer or club soda
About 3 cups vegetable oil for frying
Squash Blossoms

Stir together ricotta, goat cheese, egg yolk, basil 1/3 cup parmesan, and 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Carefully open each blossom and fill with about 2 rounded teaspoon ricotta filling, gently twisting end of blossom to enclose filling.

Whisk together flour, remaining 1/3 cup parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and seltzer in a small bowl.

Heat 1/2 inch oil to 375°F in a 10-inch heavy skillet. Meanwhile, dip half of blossoms in batter to thinly coat. Fry coated blossoms, turning once, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain. Coat and fry remaining blossoms. (Return oil to 375°F between batches.) Season with salt. Serve with tomato sauce.

Adapted from Epicurious







Watermelon Feta and Prosciutto

June 5, 2014

DSC_0101 Here’s a variation of one of my latest posts. No cooking. No baking. Shop, slice, plate and go!!! We all have busy summers and last minute get-togethers…..this will make an impressive and delicious appetizer.

Watermelon Feta and Prosciutto Platter

Prosciutto slices, best quality (about 2 slices per person)

2 large slices feta  (about 1″ thick, cut in about 1/2″ cubes)

Seedless watermelon cut into cubes

2 tsp. dried oregano

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon pepper, or more

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Oregano sprigs for garnish

Place the feta slices in a zip lock bag. In a small bowl combine oregano, zest, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. Whisk together and add to feta. Marinade for 1 hour or longer. Cut watermelon into cubes. Cut feta into cubes. Arrange prosciutto, feta and watermelon onto platter. Garnish with oregano sprigs. Serve with picks.

Grilled Steak and Fondue Sandwich

May 30, 2014
















Looking for an alternative to a hamburger this grilling season? I think flank steak is a perfect and affordable lean option. Marinating in garlic, red chili peppers and “porcini dust”…and thinly slicing against the grain makes for a tender piece of meat. And fondue…just the mention brings a slew of great memories, not the least, our first date at Gejas’s. Topping this tasty sandwich with a combination of Parmesan and Fontina cheese sauce pretty much puts this over the top. This recipe pulls together quickly for a weeknight dinner or a casual evening with friends.

Steak Sandwich

Serves 6

2 pounds Flank Steak

4 tablespoons Porcini Mushroom Powder (Dried Porcini finely ground)

3 Garlic Cloves (smashed into paste)

2 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper

Olive Oil

3 cups Baby Arugula

2 cups Frisee Lettuce (I used red leaf)

Balsamic Vinegar

Parmesan Fondue

3/4 cups Heavy Cream (start with 1/4 cup at a time for desired consistency, add  more if needed)

3/4 cup Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

3/4 cup Grated Fontina Cheese

Pinch of Nutmeg

Pinch of Salt

Season the Steak with salt. Stir together **Porcini Powder, Garlic, Chili Flakes and season with pepper. Drizzle in enough oil to form a loose paste. Rub on both sides of the steak and place in a resealable bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for a least one hour and up to overnight.

Remove Steak from refrigerator 20 minutes prior to cooking. Heat a grill to medium-high. Place the steak on the grill and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes and cook through more than halfway. Flip and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes. (Approximately 125 degrees for rare to medium rare). Remove from grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, slice open the baguette and place on the grill, cut side down, and toast lightly.

For Fondue: Heat the cream over a double boiler. Stir in the Cheese until melted. Season with Nutmeg and Salt. Keep warm until ready to serve.

In a large bowl, toss together the arugula and frisee with a few tablespoons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt to taste.

Slice the Steak and place on the baguette. Drizzle on the fondue and top with the dressed greens. Cut into sandwiches and serve warm or room temperature.

**Use any kind of dried mushrooms for the powder, if porcini can’t be found.

Adapted from Mario Batali



Melon Mozzarella Prosciutto Appetizer

May 23, 2014



This is a fresh interpretation on a classic Italian antipasto using melon and prosciutto. Simple yet elegant…..refreshing with sweet and savory flavors. Don’t skimp on the cured ham….buy good quality. And as for the mozzarella, I found these tiny mozzarella balls which really were the inspiration for this appetizer. Use with picks and grab mozzarella, a melon ball, and then wrap with a slice of prosciutto. I have also served this on a bed of arugula as a family style salad drizzled with a basil vinaigrette.

Melon, Mozzarella and Prosciutto Appetizer

Serves 8 (Fills a large platter)

12 pieces prosciutto, good quality

1 cantaloupe, balled

1 container of mozzarella balls

2 tablespoons basil, chiffonade (or more)

1 tablespoon mint, chiffonade (optional)

Lemon zest from 1/2 lemon and 1 tablespoon juice

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Drain mozzarella and place the balls in a plastic bag or container to marinade. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, basil, mint and salt and pepper. Marinade for 30 minutes or longer. Cut cantaloupe in half, scoop out seeds and using a melon baller, make balls. Arrange prosciutto on platter, top with melon and mozzarella. Garnish with basil. (A drizzle of balsamic glaze would also be great)

**If you make a salad, first dress arugula with a basil vinaigrette then arrange as detailed above. DSC_0991 DSC_0987

Greek Feta Burger

May 15, 2014

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Who’s bucket list doesn’t include Greece?? Those colors…cobalt blue seas and dove white buildings. Those flavors…salty, briny, and fresh herbs. This Big Fat Greek Burger contains cucumber, feta, onions, salt and pepper. Top with a tangy, creamy tzatziki sauce, the iconic Greek condiment, and you’ll have a little taste of the Mediterranean.  (Randy, the trip is still on the list!)

Greek Feta Burger

Makes 4

6 ounces nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1 English cucumber DIVIDED (unpeeled), coarsely grated; (about 1/2 cup/ for sauce) plus (about 1/2 cup diced for burgers) more for slices on the burgers

1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 pound lean ground beef (90 percent)

1/2 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta

1/3 cup finely diced red onion; plus slices to top burger

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil cooking spray

1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained (I grilled fresh)

4 sourdough rolls, split, grilled

Top burger with:

Shredded romaine

Sliced cucumber

Sliced tomato

Sliced red onion

In a bowl, combine yogurt, cucumbers, garlic and juice; set aside. (Start with half the amount of yogurt and add all other ingredients and then add remaining yogurt til desired consistency; I like a chunkier sauce) In another bowl, mix beef, feta, onion, cucumber, marjoram, salt and pepper. Form beef mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties. Coat a grill pan or grill rack with cooking spray. Grill patties over medium-high heat, flipping once, about 5 minutes each side, until internal temperature reaches 160°F. Divide roasted peppers evenly among bottom roll halves; top with 1 burger, 1/4 yogurt sauce and lettuce and cucumber.DSC_0778



Honey Lemon Chia Muffins

May 9, 2014


Lemon and Ricotta….fragrant and fluffy. Spring. Add poppy seeds and you have one of my favorite muffins. Ingredients like olive oil, ricotta, honey, and chia seeds make a lighter version. Chia seeds……another super-food on the block are rich in omega-3s, help reduce inflammation and cholesterol and are high in fiber and antioxidants. Give these tasty muffins a try and welcome Spring into your kitchen!!!

Honey Lemon Chia Seed Muffins     (Adapted from Cooking Light)
Makes 12 muffins
1 3/4 cups flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
2½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ cup water
¼ cup olive oil
Zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg
2 tablespoon. chia seeds
2 tablespoon honey, melted
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners and lightly spray them with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, water, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and egg.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the wet ingredients into the middle then mix. Add the chia seeds then gently fold into batter.
Evenly divide batter into prepared muffin pan.
Bake for 16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let cool for 5 minutes then with a pastry brush, gently brush melted honey onto the tops of the muffins. Cool completely.
Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.




Chicken-Apricot Skewers

May 2, 2014


DSC_0863Apricots…this is the season for those small golden jewels with velvety skin. Packed with fiber and vitamin C, these smooth and sweet stone fruits pair beautifully with chicken. Add a few skewers and some creamy peanut sauce and you have yourself a lovely entree. I like the idea of using double skewers to make turning on the grill easier. Serve over brown rice.

 Chicken-Apricots Skewers    (Adapted from Bon Appetit)

6 servings

3/4 cup canned light unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 garlic cloves

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning

1/4 cup cilantro leaves plus sprigs for garnish

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped jalapeño (about 1 large)

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into twenty-four 1″ chunks

12 firm ripe small apricots, halved, pitted

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Lime wedges

Purée first 6 ingredients and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth. Add 1/4 cup cilantro leaves and jalapeño and blend briefly to combine. Transfer 1/2 cup marinade to a small bowl; cover and chill for serving (return to room temperature before using). Place remaining marinade in a resealable plastic bag; add chicken, seal bag, and turn to coat. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Light grill to high. Holding 2 skewers parallel to each other and 1/2″ apart, thread 1 piece of chicken onto skewers, then 1 apricot half. Repeat with 1 more chicken piece and 1 more apricot half. Repeat with remaining skewers, chicken, and apricots for a total of 12, each holding 2 pieces of chicken and 2 apricot halves. Season with salt and pepper. Brush apricots with some marinade from bag; discard remaining marinade.

Grill skewers on one side until chicken is well browned, 3-4 minutes. Turn and grill until other side is well browned, 3-4 minutes longer. Move to a cooler part of grill. Cover grill and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a serving platter; sprinkle with cilantro sprigs and peanuts and drizzle with reserved marinade. Serve with lime wedges alongside for squeezing over.





St. Germain Cucumber Cocktail

April 26, 2014



California dreaming! Last week while visiting my daughter in warm, sunny LA…I came across a refreshing, flavorful cocktailI’m not a sweet drink kinda girl, however this liqueur paired with muddled cucumbers, lemon and vodka had me…curious. What was this flavor I could not decipher??? St. Germain is a French liqueur made of hand-picked elderberry flowers with a flavor profile of peach, pear, orange and grapefruit. Once our server gave us the “secret ingredient”  I was off and running. I think the key to making this cocktail is to muddle the lemons and cucumbers in a martini shaker then add vodka (or gin) and strain  into your glass. Next add ice and top with soda.  *If you prefer gin ….I would use cucumber based Hendricks.

3 cucumber slices, without the rind

2 slices lemon, without the rind

1 teaspoon sugar ( I omitted the sugar)

1.5 ounces gin or vodka

.5 – 1 ounce St-Germain (or a bit more to taste)

Club soda


In the bottom of a shaker or heavy glass, muddle (or crush) the cucumber and lemon with the sugar. Add the vodka and St-Germain and stir to combine. Fill the glass with ice and then stir again. Top with club soda. Taste and add more St-Germain to adjust the sweetness as desired.





Crispy Smashed Potatoes

April 17, 2014


Only four ingredients for a fabulous side. Really?? These smashers have the creaminess of mashed potatoes and crispy exterior of a fry. The concept is simple….par-cook, let cool slightly and then smash until flat but still intact…about 1/2″ thick.. Use Yukon’s that are approximately 2″ in diameter. Once smashed, the spuds are covered in olive oil, salt, pepper and herb of choice. (Thyme and rosemary hold up best when roasted). This is an impressive side for entertaining that can be prepared early in the day then, before dinner, popped in the oven to roast. I paired these crunchy browned spuds with grilled lamb chops and a tomato, red onion, feta, basil and mint salad. Yum.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes      (Adapted from Pioneer Women)

Serves 4-6

12 yellow Yukon potatoes (or small red)

3 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 Tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Add the potatoes to a medium pot with enough salted water to cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes (do not overcook or potatoes will not stay together). Drain and let potatoes cool until they are easy to handle. Pat very dry with paper towels. Smash each potato on a cutting board with a small glass to make it flat (or the palm of your hand).

Spread out the potatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt &  pepper, chopped rosemary until evenly coated. Roast until the potatoes are crispy and golden, 20-25 minutes. Serve warm. These could also be served as a hearty appetizer…garnish with sour cream, crumbled bacon and chives.


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Meyer Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

April 12, 2014

DSC_0657 When you think of ricotta…what comes to mind? Yep, me too…lasagna. However, ricotta’s creamy light texture suggests many other applications. Try lemon and ricotta. This classic combination is a perfect pair when whipped together in a pancake. Combining whipped egg whites, flour and Meyer lemon creates delicate, souffle-like cakes. Meyer lemons are soft-skinned, sweeter, less acidic with a floral aroma and pair perfectly with these pancakes. Top the stack with this easy blueberry compote. Leftovers????…you may want to save a few for a quick dessert. Re-heat with a bit of butter to crisp up and top with lemon ice cream. Garnish with zest and few berries.

Meyer Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes  (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Makes 8-9 pancakes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

big pinch of salt

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/3 cups firm ricotta

4 eggs, separated

3 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest (roughly 2 lemons)

2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice

butter for frying the pancakes

Preheat your skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks and then add the ricotta, juice and zest. In another bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Fold the cheese mixture into the flour and stir just until combined. Then gently fold in egg whites, making sure they are evenly mixed into the batter. Heat your oven to 200 degrees. Add a pat of butter to the skillet or griddle, and pour 1/3 cup of batter for each cake. Cook the cakes for 3-4 minutes on each side, until the edges are a deep golden brown. Place the cooked cakes in the oven until you are ready to serve. Serve the pancakes dusted with confectioners sugar and blueberry compote.

Blueberry Compote  (from Epicurious)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

2 strips of fresh lemon zest

2 cups blueberries

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Boil water, sugar, and zest in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, uncovered, 5 minutes. Discard zest. Stir in blueberries and simmer, stirring occasionally, until blueberries begin to burst, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Artichoke Soup with Crispy Salami and Lemon-Parsley Quinoa

April 4, 2014


It’s artichoke season. As much as I love a braised artichoke, enjoying every leaf until I can get to that coveted heart.this soup is one more way to enjoy this healthy seasonal vegetable. Studies show that artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable, aid in digestion, are great for liver health and are high in fiber. Bring ’em on!!! Garnishing with lemon-parsley quinoa and crispy salami compliments the great flavor and texture of this soup. While cooking for just the two of us, I lighten up this recipe by using only broth and a touch of cream. For entertaining, don’t skip it……the cream creates a luxurious texture. 

Artichoke Soup with Crispy Salami and Lemon-Parsley Quinoa  (from Sunday Suppers)

Serves 4

2 (14-oz.) cans artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp fennel seeds
Salt and pepper

1/2 cup dried quinoa

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp. lemon zest (from about 1 lemon), plus 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 large thin slices genoa salami

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, add the artichoke hearts, the garlic, half of the chicken stock and half of the cream; cook over medium heat until warmed through. Add the fennel seeds and season generously with salt and pepper; turn off the heat. Using a blender, puree the mixture until almost smooth. Gradually add more stock and cream as needed to achieve the consistency you want, continuing to puree with the blender until the soup is very smooth.

Place the salami slices on a baking sheet and cook until crispy all over and browned on the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove, drain and cool on paper towels. Roughly chop.

Cook the quinoa according to package directions, or a little less than suggested for a crunchier consistency. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl, then mix in the lemon zest and juice, parsley leaves, and salt, pepper and olive oil to taste.

Quickly reheat the soup if needed. Top each with a generous spoonful of the quinoa mixture and sprinkle with the crisp salami.





Crispy Salmon with Leeks and Beurre Blanc Sauce

March 29, 2014


Last week my neighbor, Courtney, asked me to guest blog on her fabulous site, A Life from Scratch. Of course, I was honored!!! While she was on spring break I decided to think spring. I know Courtney loves salmon and this Thomas Keller recipe may seem steppy and a bit fancy, but it pulls together quickly with amazing results. Perfect recipe for a spring dinner party! The leeks are boiled and then put in an ice bath to stop the cooking and to retain the beautiful green color. Then the delicate soft leeks are reheated in stock which adds a perfect composition of flavor. The salmon is simply cooked skin side down to create a salty, crisp texture. And THAT SAUCE is simple and divine. It’s really just chopped shallots, cooked in white wine and then, when the wine has reduced quite a bit, you whisk is some butter (OK maybe it’s more than some) then add the aromatic herbs. Serve with a mixed green salad and some crusty bread to soak up that sauce!

Crispy Skin Salmon, Leeks, Fines Herbs Beurre Blanc  (Adapted from Thomas Keller)  Serves 4

For the Leeks/Beurre Blanc

8 large leeks (I used 5)
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 large thyme sprig
1 large Italian parsley sprig, plus 1 t minced parsley
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz. unsalted butter, cut into small chunks and chilled
2-3 T chicken stock
1 t minced /tarragon/chives/parsley


4 6-oz pieces of center-cut salmon fillet, skin and bones removed
kosher salt and white pepper
canola oil
1/2 cup chicken stock

**To make this recipe easier to get through I “stepped it out”! Have all your ingredients prepared and this pulls together quickly.


1.Use only the light green sections of the leeks. Cut the light green sections into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.

2. Place the rounds in a large bowl of warm water and swish them gently to remove any dirt, being careful not to separate the rounds. Lift them out of the water.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Prepare an ice bath.  Add half the leeks to the boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender.

4. Transfer leeks to a colander or strainer and plunge them into the ice bath for no more than 15 seconds.

5. Drain and repeat with the remaining leeks.

6. The leeks can be prepared to this point up to a day ahead, covered, and stored in the refrigerator

Beurre Blanc

1.Put the shallots, thyme, parsley sprig, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a medium saucepan and add the white wine and champagne vinegar.

2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to about 1 Tablespoon.  Remove from heat.

3. To finish, add the heavy cream to the reduction, place the pan over medium heat, and simmer to reduce the liquid by half.  The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

4. Begin adding the butter one piece at a time, whisking constantly to keep the sauce emulsified.  Add a new piece of butter before the previous one has completely melted.

5. The sauce should remain warm to the touch but not be simmering.  When all the butter is incorporated, strain the beurre blanc into a small saucepan.

6. Stir in the stock and keep in a warm place.


1.The thinnest part of the fillet should not measure less than 1/2 inch thick.  If the salmon is cold, let it stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before cooking.

2. Season the skinned side with salt and white pepper.  Season the other side with salt only.

3. Heat 1/8 inch of canola oil in a large nonstick skillet.

4. When the oil is hot, place the salmon skinned side down in the hot oil and cook on one side only for about 5-6 minutes.  Regulate the temperature, turning it down as necessary to keep the edges from browning too quickly.  The fish is done when the bottom is crispy, and the fillet is cooked about halfway up the flesh.  The top should still be rare.

***If this is your only take away from this recipe… TAKE-IT! Favorite way to cook skin on salmon.

 To Finish

1.Put the leeks in a medium saucepan, add the 1/2 cup stock, and heat over medium heat until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Gently warm the beurre blanc and stir in the minced parsley, tarragon, and chives.

3.  Divide the sauce among serving plates, place the leeks in the middle of the plate, and top with a salmon fillet.








Soft Polenta with Rock Shrimp Ragout

March 22, 2014


This is a Mario Batali classic…fresh seafood accompanied by very soft polenta. Hard to believe that this Italian porridge, staple of Northern Italy, was once thought of as food for peasants. Now this versatile gluten-free ingredient can be found in many healthy dishes. The ragout pulls together quickly and has a rich tomato base with a fresh note of lemon. If you are looking for a comforting meatless meal….you’ve found it!

Soft Polenta with Rock Shrimp Ragout       (from Mario Batali)

Serves 6

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup quick-cooking polenta (6 ounces)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


4 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 pounds shelled rock shrimp

1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil with the sugar. Whisk in the polenta in a thin stream. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt. Press a piece of parchment or wax paper directly onto the surface of the polenta and keep warm.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the scallions and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and 1/4 cup of water and simmer over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and simmer, stirring, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Rewarm the polenta over moderately high heat, whisking constantly. Spoon a pool of polenta in the center of 6 shallow bowls. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over and around the polenta and serve right away.