Summer Fun

Asparagus In Vinaigrette

March 26, 2011

Asparagus In Vinaigrette

I learned how to make this dish while living in France.  It is so easy and tasty!

INGREDIENTS

2 Pounds Trimmed Fresh Asparagus

1 Minced Garlic Clove

1/3 Cup Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice

¾ Teaspoon Salt

¼ Fresh Ground Pepper

Place trimmed asparagus in a steamer basket.  Place in a saucepan over 1 inch of water and bring to a boil.  Cover and steam for 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp and tender.  Do not overcook!  Rinse with cold water and drain well.  Set aside. 

In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.  Pour over asparagus and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled.  Makes a great side dish.  Serves 8

Granola Bars

March 22, 2011

Granola Bars

INGREDIENTS

2 Cups Rolled Oats

¾ Cup Packed Brown Sugar

½ Cup Wheat Germ

¾ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1 Cup Unbleached Flour

¾ Cup Raisins

¼ Cup Sunflower Seeds

¾ Teaspoon Salt

½ Cup Honey

1 Beaten Egg

½ Cup Vegetable Oil

2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins, sunflower seeds and salt.  Make a well in the center and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla.  Mix well using your hands.  Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared parchment paper pan.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges.  Cool for 5 minutes and cut into bars while still warm.  Do NOT allow the bars to cool completely before cutting or they will be way too hard to cut.  When bars are cool store in an airtight container.  Makes approximately 24 bars.

Spaghetti With Garlic & Oil

March 21, 2011

Spaghetti With Garlic & Oil

This classic combination of garlic and oil gives this simple pasta its heady flavor.  Serve with lots of freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese.

INGREDIENTS

16 Ounces Spaghetti

¼ Cup Olive Oil

1 Large Finely Chopped Garlic Clove

1/8 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (Optional)

¾ Teaspoon Salt

¼ Teaspoon Course Ground Pepper

2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley

In a large stockpot, cook pasta.  Do NOT overcook.  Drain, but do NOT rinse.  Reserve ½ cup cooking water.  Meanwhile in a 1 quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook just until golden, about 1 minute.  Add crushed red pepper and cook 30 seconds longer.  Remove saucepan from heat.  Stir in salt and pepper.  In a warm serving bowl, toss pasta with sauce and parsley.  Use the cooking water to moisten the pasta if necessary.  Serves 6

Easy Add-Ins For Garlic & Oil Sauce

Spaghetti With Garlic & Oil is just the starting point for many delicious possibilities.

  1.  Add 4 to 6 coarsely chopped anchovy filets in oil, drained (or 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon anchovy paste), and 2 tablespoons capers, drained to cooked garlic-oil mixture.  Reduce heat and stir until anchovies & break up.  Cook for about 30 seconds.
  2. Add ½ cup Gaeta, Kalamata or green Sicilian olives, pitted and chopped to cooked garlic-oil mixture.  Reduce heat and stir until olives are heated through.  Cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Add 2 to 3 ounces crumbled & firm goat cheese to tossed pasta.  Toss again.
  4. Add 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes to pasta with garlic-oil mixture and parsley.  Toss.
  5. Substitute 2 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, oregano, chives or tarragon for parsley.

Baja Fish Tacos

March 20, 2011

INGREDIENTS

2 Limes

4 Cups Shredded Green or Purple Cabbage

½ Cup Sour Cream

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 ¼ Pounds Tilapia Fillets

¼ Teaspoon Ground Chipotle Chile

¼ Teaspoon Smoked Paprika

¼ Teaspoon Salt 8 Corn Tortillas

1 Cup Salsa

Avocado Slices (Optional)

Grate 2 teaspoons lime peel and squeeze ¼ cup lime juice.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine cabbage and lime juice.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, stir lime peel and smoked paprika into sour cream and set aside.  In a large skillet heat oil on medium-high until hot.  On a sheet of waxed paper, sprinkle tilapia fillets with chipotle and salt to season both sides.  Add fish to skillet and cook 5 to 6 minutes or until it turns opaque throughout, turning over once.  Meanwhile, warm the tortillas.  To serve cut fillets into 8 pieces.  Place 2 pieces tilapia in each tortilla, top with cabbage, lime/paprika sour cream and salsa.  Top with avocado slices if you wish.  Serves 4

Whoopie Cake

March 18, 2011

Whoopie Cake

INGREDIENTS

½ Cup (1 Stick) Softened Butter

1 Cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar

1 Egg

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

2 Cups Unbleached Flour

1/3 Cup Cocoa Powder

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

½ Teaspoon Salt

1 Cup Buttermilk (or Sour Milk)

Whoopie Filling (Below)

Heart Shaped Pan

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour heart pan.  If you don’t have a heart pan you can use whatever cake pan you like and improvise. 

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla.  Beat until well combined.  In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add half the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix until dry ingredients are almost incorporated.  Stop mixing and add the buttermilk.  Continue to mix until all ingredients are almost incorporated.  Stop mixing and add the remaining dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until center springs back when gently pushed.  Remove cake from oven and cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. 

To assemble cut cake in half and spread bottom layer with filling and sandwich with the top layer.  Yummy!  Serves 8

Whoopie Filling

INGREDIENTS

6 Tablespoons Softened Butter

1 ½ Cups Sifted Confectioners’ Sugar

1/8 Teaspoon Salt

1 Jar (about 7 ounces) Marshmallow Cream

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy.  Add sugar and salt to the butter and mix well.  Add marshmallow cream and vanilla.  Blend well.  Use immediately to fill pie or refrigerate covered up to 1 week.  Bring back to room temperature and lightly beat before using.  Makes about 2 ½ Cup of filling.

Zuppa Inglese

March 13, 2011

Zuppa Inglese

INGREDIENTS

Custard

3 Cups Milk

1 Cup Heavy Cream

½ Cup Sugar

6 Large Egg Yolks

½ Cup Unbleached Flour

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

One 12 Ounce Butter Pound Cake – Cut Into Thin Slices

½ Cup Marsala Wine

2/3 Cup Sour Cherry Preserves

Whipped Cream

1 Cup Very Cold Heavy Cream

2 Teaspoons Confectioners’ Sugar

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Fresh Berries or Shaved Chocolate For Garnish

In a large heavy saucepan, bring 2 cups of the milk, the cream and sugar to a simmer over medium heat.  Stir to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from heat.  In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining 1 cup milk until blended.  Place the flour in a fine-mesh strainer, shake it over the egg yolks and whisk until smooth.  Beat in the hot liquid a little at a time. 

When all of the milk has been added pour the mixture into a saucepan and return it to the heat.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to boil.  Reduce the heat and cook 30 seconds more.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Use the custard immediately or transfer to a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic against the surface of the cream and refrigerate.  The custard can be refrigerated up to 24 hours. 

Place a mixing bowl and beaters in the refrigerator to chill.  In a large serving bowl, make a layer of about one-third of the cake slices.  Sprinkle the slices with some of the Marsala.  Spread with half of the cherry preserves, and custard.  Top with the remaining cake slices.  In the chilled bowl, with the chilled beaters, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.  Spread the cream on top of the cake.  Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. 

Just before serving, garnish with fresh berries or shaved chocolate.  Serves 10 to 12

Sangria

March 12, 2011

Sangria

Sangria has been important to Spanish culture for many centuries.  This wine punch has gained international popularity and is easy to make at home.  Versions of Sangria have held a planting of the Iberian Peninsula’s vineyards around 200 BC.  As Spain’s soil and weather are particularly well suited for growing grapes, the nation has maintained an abundance of red wine and its subsequent wine punch variations.  Interestingly, there is no one recipe for Sangria, as the ingredients of this wine punch are based on availability, season, and a number of other factors. 

Sangria requires a light, young Spanish red wine.  The most common of these come from the La Rioja, Castilla-La Mancha and Catilla-Leon regions.  It is also necessary to include fresh fruit.  Spain’s popular locally grown fruits include oranges, lemons and melon.  Any fruit can be used, however, one might find bananas, apples, grapes or any number of fruits in Spanish Sangria.  Sangria is meant to be light and refreshing so a certain amount of juice and sugar are generally added for a more refreshing taste.  Sangria is to be served ice-cold and generally is prepared in large pitchers and served to guests as an accompaniment to a meal or tapas in the summer time

Sangria is to be served ice-cold as a hot-weather refreshment. Generally, it is prepared in large pitchers and served to many guests as an accompaniment to a meal or tapas in the summer time.

INGREDIENTS

1 Cup Orange Juice

¼ Cup Lime Juice

1 Bottle Red Wine

½ Cup Brandy

¼ to 1/3 Cup Sugar

Ice Cubes

Orange Slices

Lime Slices

In a 2 quart pitcher stir together orange and lime juices.  Add wine, sugar and brandy.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Cover and chill for 3 to 24 hours.  Serve over ice.  Garnish each serving with orange and lime slices.

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