Get new posts by email:

Archives

Currently Reading

Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2021, I’ll still participate, but the two daughters are going to do more posting from here on out.

We participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny $ something (pennies, really) if you purchase any books recommended (below), or buy products occasionally mentioned on the blog with an amazon link. 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

BOOK READING:

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping. This book is about a young man, a young father also, who loses his beloved wife. He’s barely functioning, trying to get through a day, taking care of his young son. And visiting the cemetery (the one in Montmartre, Paris). There are several peripheral characters (his son, a neighbor and best friend of his departed wife, a good guy friend too, plus a young woman he befriends at the cemetery). As a parting request, his wife asks him to write 33 letters to her after she’s gone, and to put them in a special box hidden in the cemetery monument. And that begins the story.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. It became a monument, of sorts, a lovely garden too, and people became friends, heard their stories of the tsunami and watched as they approached the phone booth, entered, and began to talk solemnly to their loved ones. This book is just amazing. I found myself tearing up several times. Maybe not for everyone, but I can’t imagine anyone not appreciating the poignancy of this special phone booth. And what it did to heal people through grief. I sure could identify.

As you’ve read here many times, I marvel at authors who come up with unusual premises for their books. This one Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel of Grace Kelly’s Royal Wedding. And yes, it IS somewhat about Grace Kelly’s wedding, but most of the novel is about a young woman perfume designer, Sophie, who accidentally rescues Grace Kelly from the relentless photographers who hound her every move. It begins when Grace visits Monaco for the Cannes Film Festival, and a few days later she meets Prince Rainier. Young Sophie becomes Grace’s friend, and actually, so does the relentless photographer. I can remember when Grace Kelly married the Prince – the fairy tale come true. It was quite the big news (I was in my late teens then). Definitely this story is a romance, but not the sappy type you may be used to. Loved the book.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. The book IS a novel, but the event is true. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. On the voyage the ship encounters a hurricane and several giraffes are lost, but two young ones survive. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission. A young boy (barely an adult) becomes the driver (his only goal is his desire to go to California), with the zoo’s delegate (a middle-aged man with a past), and it’s the story about these two misfits and their caring for the giraffes, feeding them (that’s a laugh – onions play a big part). No freeways existed back then, and the mental picture of the vehicle they used (basically a small truck) with the two giraffes confined within two tall boxes precariously strapped to the truck, and their driving and carrying-on getting under bridges and over rivers is just a hoot. I so wanted this story to be true – parts of it ARE true. Worth reading if you enjoy such animal stories. The giraffes survive, thankfully, and they both lived to a ripe old age at the zoo!

Also a kind of quirky book by Beth Miller, The Missing Letters of Mrs. Bright. Picture a middle-aged woman, slogging through life with a not-very-attentive husband, grown children, and one day she decides to leave. Completely. Maybe she had a bucket list of sorts, and she knew none of those places would ever happen in her life if she stayed put. She sets off to find a long-lost girlfriend. The book is about her journey. Her travels. Friendships, and lost friendships. Everyone can probably empathize with Kay Bright as she examines her life. And yes, there are letters and chapters with her daughter, Stella. Cute book.

Katherine Center’s book, Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel is certainly vivid. There aren’t very many women firefighters out there in the world – this is about one. A novel, however. About her work life and the harrassment she endures (some of it’s with love, some not) and about her relationships. The pros and cons of transferring to a different fire station (just like any job move, not always smooth). Good read.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman. Such relationships were fraught with problems from the very strict Japanese families who resented the American presence in their country, to the American military higher-ups who made it impossible for the servicemen to marry Japanese nationals. Could hardly put it down. Yes, it’s a romance of sorts, but not in the typical sense of today’s novel-romance-writing. There aren’t always happy beginnings, middles or endings, but the in between made for very interesting reading.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s. Wow. What an eye-opener. Of their small but loyal family enclaves, the hard-scrabble lives they led, the near poverty level of farming. I’d never heard that any Indian migrants were a part of farming here in California. Obviously they made up a very small percentage of the immigrants who settled there.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war. Fascinating glimpse into the hardships not only for patients (the war-wounded) but for the underappreciated and hardworking staff at various hospitals (even a tent one in Normandy where she worked for many months after D-Day). She meets her to-be husband and even that is fraught with difficulty from many angles.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. My friend Ann recommended it. I was gripped with the story within the first paragraph, and it never stopped until I turned the last page. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. Some very ugly things happen at that school. Eventually they  escape, and they are “on the run.” With a few others with them. If you loved Huckleberry Finn, you’ll have a great appreciation for this story as they use a canoe to get themselves down river. Never having very much to eat and getting into trouble way too often, and authorities on their tail. Well, you just have to read the book to find out what happens.

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children. The book is heartbreaking, but one of those that everyone should read. The hardship, the hunger, the dirt and dust, the failed crops, the lack of rain, then the story picks up again in central California, back in the day when the wealthy growers just used up the migrants. I don’t want to spoil the story. So worth reading. Hannah really knows how to weave a story.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks. The father was very dark, but he plays no part, really, in this story. Growing up, the girls leave home at 18 to find their way in New Orleans. Suddenly, one twin disappears (her clothes and suitcase all gone in the wink of an eye). Her twin left behind has no idea what’s happened to her. As the story reveals, with divided paths, one twin continues her life as a black woman, and the other twin, the one who left, is able to pass as a white woman. She marries well, has a daughter. Well, let’s just say that there are lots of wicked webs woven throughout the story, starting from the girls’ mother who never wants to speak again of her lost daughter. But you know where this is going, don’t you? Things are found out. The author does a great job of weaving the story apart and then back together.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress. She was a brilliant mind, and a beautiful woman. It tells the story of her coming of age, how she navigated the world of acting back in that time period (she was Austrian, and Hitler was in power). The writing was very well done – to tell Hedy’s story with detail and poignancy. Eventually Hedy made it to the U.S. and her life story changed, but still had its difficulties. I loved the book, beginning to end. She should have become an engineer as she invented several war related bomb tools. Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, when aristocrats were chased and killed, guillotined in many cases. There is a young couple (part of the royal court) who escape to a remote small castle owned by his family, located on the edge of France and Italy, hoping to wait out the revolution and hoping the villagers love and care about them. Then jump to current day as a small English group of close friends decide to retire somewhere on the continent, and settle on a small abandoned castle in the remote hills of France along the Italian border. Got the picture? The historian in the group is quite interested in the history of the home, and clues are revealed (in the tower) that lead her and the group on a quest to discover what happened to the couple who used to live there. There was a fire once upon a time. There’s an pesky ghost. There’s also a very old child’s doll/playhouse on the grounds. Plus there’s a small graveyard. It is VERY intriguing. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture, does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

Scroll down to the bottom to view my Blogroll

Posted in Appetizers, on June 13th, 2021.

What? I’ve never posted this recipe on the blog? That needs to be rectified as of now!

A post from Carolyn. Where this recipe came from, I’m not sure. I thought it was from Evan Kleiman, but having gone on the ‘net to look, my recipe isn’t quite like hers. Similar, but not the same. I suppose ALL caponata recipes are similar – containing eggplant, onions, celery, capers, tomatoes and olives. I’ve been making this caponata for well over 40 years.

So, what makes a great caponata? It’s Italian. It’s a combination: chewy of some textures (eggplant, olives and celery), softness of others (onions), a meld of sweet (a tiny bit of sugar and the tomatoes) and sour (some red wine vinegar) and for sure, a burst of fresh flavors. I know caponata can be purchased ready-made, and I’ve done that from time to time. But I’m here to tell you, there is nothing quite like home made caponata.

Know from the get-go that you need a couple of hours to make this. There’s a goodly amount of chopping going on (eggplant, onions, celery) but first you have to peel most of the eggplant. You can peel all of them if you prefer, but the recipe I have suggested leaving the peel on some of them to give the finished caponata an additional layer of color. Japanese eggplant are called for here (they’re supposed to be sweeter), and it’s a bit tedious to peel 2 pounds of them, I’m just sayin’.

The tomatoes need to be peeled and seeded, too, which of and by itself isn’t that much trouble, but it takes time to heat a pot of water, dunk the tomatoes in there, then remove the peel, cut them just so to remove all the seeds, then to chop up finely. The eggplant likes to sit awhile – with salt – to extract a little bit of the liquid. I have to say, maybe I got a tablespoon of discolored liquid underneath the colander after sitting for about an hour. Not much. The onion (both a yellow and a red), celery and garlic were simmered for awhile with some olive oil, until tender. All that was removed to a big bowl and then the drained and blotted-dry eggplant was added to several successive batches to be briefly browned. Finally, everything is added into the pot – along with some parsley, tomato paste, the red wine vinegar plus some water, and the little bit of sugar. That whole mixture was simmered for about 10 minutes. You do NOT want the vegetables to break down to mush – the flavor would be fine, but you want the texture of all those various ingredients to be seen and sensed on your tongue.

Taste it for salt (I ended up adding just a little) and pepper. A tablespoon of sugar was all the batch needed, and it makes about 3-4 cups when you’re all finished.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a wine tasting event at my home (a fund-raiser), with two other friends co-hosting with me, and we served several appetizers to go along with the variety of wines. I made a special trip to go buy Cloudy Bay’s sauvignon blanc, which is a favorite of mine – if I’m going to drink white wine. Mostly I drink red. When my DH Dave and I visited New Zealand, we fell in love with Cloudy Bay wines, but particularly the sauvignon blanc. I asked the guests to taste the wine with the various appetizers, though the caponata goes better with red wine. I still have about 200 bottles of wine in the wine cellar – nearly all of them ones Dave bought – and he’s been gone for 7 years now. I gift them to friends when they invite me over, and I’ve done several wine tastings. The reds, mostly, keep for  years, although I have had to pour out a few bottles of reds that didn’t cellar well. Pinot Noir and Cabs keep well. Italian reds not so much.

My friend Lois made shrimp cocktail which went well with the whites. Linda made my Crostini with Pea Puree and Yogurt & Mint. I served some cheeses, some lighter, some heavier, and the caponata will be served with pita crackers (Trader Joe’s are great). With a can of smoked albacore on hand, I also made a favorite EASY appetizer, Smoked Albacore with Red Onion. And I’ve already posted the recipe for the Outrageous Brownies which were served with the last of the darker reds. I offered to open a bottle of after-dinner wine if our guests wanted some, but everyone was topped up. The cellar has about 10 after-dinner bottles and I just don’t open those. Except for a party, I guess!

So, once you’ve made the caponata, do chill it for a day if you can spare the time. Caponata improves with a day or two of chilling – letting those flavors meld. Caponata keeps well – I’d guess it’ll keep in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks. You could freeze it, but my guess is once thawed, the veggies would turn to mush.

What’s GOOD: the flavors are just so special. Nothing unusual in this – but the combo? Oh gosh, yes it’s good. Keeps for a couple of weeks, though eating it within 3-5 days would be best. Good to make it ahead. In fact, it’s better made a day or two ahead.

What’s NOT: only the time spent – there’s a lot of chopping and prepping of vegetables. You’ll be at or near the range for about 1 1/2 hours for sure.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Italian Caponata

Recipe By: unknown
Serving Size: 10

2 pounds eggplant — Japanese type
1 pound Roma tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium onion — chopped
1 medium red onion — chopped
1 1/2 cups celery — chopped
1 large garlic clove — minced
1/4 cup parsley — minced
12 whole olives — Mediterranean, pitted
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper — to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts — toasted

1. With a sharp paring knife, peel 2 eggplants; leave other eggplant unpeeled to add color and texture to the dish.
2. Cut all eggplant into 1-2-inch cubes; place cubes in colanders over paper towels, salt well and mix eggplant with your hands. Allow to drain about 30 minutes, preferably 1-2 hours, while preparing other ingredients. Peel the tomatoes by dipping a few at a time in boiling water for 5-15 seconds and then into cold water. Carefully remove skins and cut tomatoes in half. Remove and discard seeds, then dice tomatoes.
3. In a large, heavy skillet heat about 3 T olive oil and add onions. Cook about 8 minutes, until onions are soft, but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add celery, garlic and mix thoroughly. Continue cooking until all vegetables are soft and tender, about 5 minutes. With slotted spoon, remove vegetables to a large Dutch oven or roasting pot. Pat eggplant dry with paper towels to remove salt and liquid. In the same skillet, cook a single layer of eggplant, adding olive oil as needed and stir constantly for about 8 minutes, until soft, tender and slightly browned. Remove eggplant to Dutch oven and brown succeeding batches, adding oil as needed. Add diced tomatoes, parsley, olives and capers to cooked vegetable mixture in skillet; mix well and cook over low heat for a few minutes.
4. In a bowl combine the vinegar, water, sugar and tomato paste and stir until sugar is fully dissolved. Pour mixture into Dutch oven and stir thoroughly. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring often. Be careful not to break up mixture to a mush; the vegetables need to retain their shape and texture and not become soupy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Remove from heat and refrigerate, covered, for at least one day to let all the flavors mellow. To serve, spoon mixture into a salad bowl or plate (wood is recommended) and garnish top with toasted pine nuts. Serve with toasted pita triangles or baguette slices or crusty Italian bread.
6. TO TOAST PINE NUTS: Place nuts in a single layer in a dry Teflon coated skillet over low heat and toast until lightly brown, stirring and WATCHING CONSTANTLY.
Per Serving: 176 Calories; 13g Fat (65.0% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 137mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 42mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 459mg Potassium; 63mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Appetizers, Veggies/sides, on July 3rd, 2020.

asparagus_appetizer_secret_sauce

Most likely you’re going to laugh. Secret sauce? Eh-what?

Making this appetizer is so very simple – other than having to cook the asparagus to just that right al-dente bite. You don’t want limp asparagus. You want them barely cooked through, but not so they’d totally fall over in a stand-up container. Part of the fun of this is using some kind of fun vertical container. If I had a glass cylinder that wasn’t too tall, I’d use that, just so you can see the asparagus full length.

It’s been decades since I first read or heard about this method of offering asparagus as an appetizer. To tell you the truth, I don’t remember where I got it. It could have been at a Weight Watcher’s meeting. It might have been from some old-old cookbook. It might have been at a cooking class. I didn’t even have a recipe written up for this – like a real, honest to goodness recipe to follow. I had to write one for this post. Asparagus, some salt, water, and then the secret ingredient. And a tad of sesame seeds as a garnish.

First, you just have to steam or simmer the trimmed asparagus in salted water until they’re just barely tender. Sorry, I’m repeating myself here. It’s important you not overcook them, so they stand up. Drain them and let them dry. If you’re in a hurry, put them out on paper towels or a tea towel and gently dry them off. I prefer these cool or cold, but that’s up to you.

Then, ta-da, you merely roll them in some seasoned rice wine vinegar and sprinkle them with the sesame seeds. That’s it. You DO NOT make this ahead (the acid in the rice wine vinegar will make the asparagus turn an insipid canned-asparagus-color). Not good. So JUST before you’re ready to serve them, you put them in a flat dish or flat bowl, sprinkle a bit of the seasoned rice wine vinegar over them, roll them around with your fingers. If I’m feeling adventurous, I also sprinkle toasted secret_sauce_rice_wine_vinegarsesame seeds around the top of the asparagus, picking up a bunch in my hand. Then stand them up in your chosen vertical vessel. Coffee mugs are just about the right height. I took this to my a family dinner a week or so ago. They were gone in a flash. Even my grandson Vaughan, who professes to not like asparagus very much, had a bunch.

I forgot to take the sesame seeds when I served them last time, so you can’t see them sticking to the tops. I’m making them again today, so am going to put out the sesame seeds – so I don’t forget!

What’s GOOD: so easy and extremely low calorie. Nice for a picnic although do take a wet paper towel to wipe off your fingers after you’ve used the vinegar. The vinegar has some sugar in it (that makes it “seasoned”) so it’ll make your fingers sticky. I guarantee you, they’ll be a hit. One of the fun things is serving this in a vertical container.

What’s NOT: only that you have to do the seasoning (finger-rolling in the vinegar) at the last minute, but truly it’ll take you less than one minute to do it.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Asparagus Appetizer with Secret Sauce

Recipe By: Can’t remember; I’ve been making these for 40+ years
Serving Size: 6

1 pound asparagus — not too thin, not too thick
salted water to cook the asparagus
1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds — toasted, garnish

NOTE: This is meant as an appetizer, but it can also be served as a side dish.
1. Trim asparagus of woody stems. You do not want them to be all the same length.
2. Using a wide saucepan, bring a cup or so of water to a simmer (just enough to cover the asparagus), add some salt to taste, then add the asparagus. Bring the water back to a simmer again, watching it carefully and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the asparagus is just barely al-dente, stirring and rolling the asparagus around so all the stalks are under the water line. Do not overcook them. They need to be firm enough they’ll stand up in a mug or tall container.
3. Remove asparagus and cool, then blot dry with paper towels or tea towel. Chill if you have the time.
4. Into a shallow dish place the asparagus and sprinkle the rice wine vinegar over the top, drizzling back and forth. Using your fingers, roll the asparagus so all of them have been in contact with the vinegar. DO NOT make this ahead as the asparagus will turn yellow. Holding the asparagus in one hand, gently sprinkle the sesame seeds on the tops of the asparagus, as you turn the asparagus around. Stand the asparagus into a vertical container (coffee mug or similar shape) and serve immediately. If you’re not sure you’ll eat all the asparagus it’s wise to season some of it, serve, then if you need more you can always add more to the vinegar and serve more of them.
Per Serving: 21 Calories; trace Fat (7.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 89mg Sodium; 1g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 21mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 154mg Potassium; 41mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Appetizers, Gundry-friendly, on October 25th, 2019.

zucchini_hummus

A variation on a hummus theme. So delicious. You’d never know it was made with zucchini!

I’ve kind of begun to tire of hummus. Actually – no, I AM tired of hummus. Seems like it’s become so commonplace, and so popular, nearly every hostess serves it. Therefore, I got tired of it. But then, now that I’m on this anti-lectin thing, regular hummus or garbanzo beans are out. Besides the calories (although I know – I know – beans are good for us – I just can’t eat them unless they’ve been pressure cooked, which kills the lectins), I’m kind of past the taste of garbanzo – they do have a unique flavor.

So, when I saw this recipe for hummus made from zucchini, I knew I could adapt it to fit my lectin-free diet. I just had to peel and seed the zucchini. Everything else in this was fine. And the taste? Oh gosh. It was fabulous! Even though I’m tired of hummus, somehow, eating this I felt differently about it – just knowing it was zucchini. It has the texture of hummus. It has the flavor of hummus. But better, by far.

If you make this, you don’t have to peel and seed the zucchini like I do – but I think taking off the green skin will keep this looking more brown, like hummus – with the green skin, I’m not sure about the color. What’s on top – black sesame seeds, some good EVOO, some ground cumin, and I’d forgotten the smoked paprika (I added it after I took the photo).

Everyone ate it – that bowl was gone by the time I served dinner. I have a little bit left in my frig, and I still have a few of the fresh-cut carrots and celery. Maybe I’ll have that for my lunch.

The only time-consuming thing was roasting the zucchini. It took longer than the recipe indicated – and you definitely do not want to roast these to the point of drying out. That would not be good. Into the food processor everything else goes (garlic, cumin, oil – maybe water, although I didn’t add any) and some tahini – sesame seed paste). That last part is what gives it the hummus taste. Sesame seed paste is, in and of itself, a very unique flavor. So when my guests ate it, they thought it was garbanzo hummus. Everyone was intrigued – even the guys in the group – and liked it.

What’s GOOD:  it’s lower in calorie than regular hummus, that’s for sure. Tastes as good if not better than. You’re eating vegetables instead of beans . . .altogether deliciousness. Yes, I’ll make it again.

What’s NOT: maybe just the time it takes to make – you can buy ready made hummus inexpensively, but this tastes so much better.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Roasted Zucchini Hummus

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Keto Diet App
Serving Size: 10

3/4 pound zucchini
1/4 cup EVOO — divided use
sea salt — to taste
black pepper — to taste
1/4 cup tahini
2 medium garlic cloves
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice — or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons water — (2 to 3) optional
GARNISHES:
1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
1/2 teaspoon both smoked paprika and cumin
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds (or white if that’s what you have)
fresh parsley leaves
SERVE: crackers, raw vegetables

NOTE: If eating lectin-free, peel and seed the zucchini before roasting.
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F, or 350°F (convection). Cut the ends off the zucchini, and quarter them.
2. Arrange on a baking sheet cut side up and drizzle with EVOO, using your hands to massage oil over all edges. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until browned on top. Do not overcook them as you do not want them to dry out.
3. To make the hummus, add all ingredients (including the remaining olive oil) except the water to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the water if you think the mixture is too thick, using a tablespoon at a time. Taste for seasonings (lemon juice? salt?). Chill to allow flavors to meld.
4. To serve, pour into a flatter shaped bowl and use the tip of a teaspoon to create a whorl in the hummus. Drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with spices and seeds.
5. Serves 6-8 as a side served with crackers, fresh carrots and celery. Store in a sealed container in the fridge up to 5 days.
Per Serving: 108 Calories; 11g Fat (84.8% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 8mg Sodium.

Posted in Appetizers, lectin-free, on June 14th, 2019.

cauliflower_hummus

Truly a miracle – hummus (sort of) using roasted cauliflower plus all the other ingredients that make it taste like hummus.

Tomorrow I’m going to San Diego to celebrate with my grandson John as he graduates from high school. His mom and dad, Sara and John, are having a big family gathering. My job is to bring appetizers. I’ve got a big hunk of Manchego cheese to take along, some crackers, and will be making a Brussels sprouts appetizer too. If it’s really good, I’ll post that recipe too. It has to be made at the last minute, obviously.

So, this recipe came from a blog I follow, As Easy as Apple Pie. Elena developed it (thank you, Elena) and I’m just so glad she did. Although the texture of this isn’t exactly like bean-hummus, I would be surprised if anyone could tell. With the additions (lemon juice, tahini, garlic, olive oil, cumin, S&P) you really don’t notice. Trust me when I say certainly you won’t think cauliflower when you eat this. You will think hummus, through and through.

The cauliflower florets get roasted for about 20 minutes; then cooled. Into the food processor they went along with all the other ingredients and whizzed it up until smooth. I added a bit more ground cumin. Done. I made a double batch (used a small head) since we’re having a bunch of people at the party. I’m sure this will keep for several days – I made it 2 days ahead and am sure it will hold up well. For the photo I didn’t put on any of the toppings – I’ll do that when I serve it. You could easily use some chopped parsley or cilantro too. Or even some chopped walnuts.

When I took this to my daughter’s I had two of the family members taste it – they didn’t like it at all. They recognized the cauliflower, and although they both like cauliflower, they didn’t like this. SO, it got pureed with one can of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed) and it was much better. But then, that took away the low-carb aspect of this. They thought the garlic was too much (it had a very sharp zing to it) and just didn’t care for the taste. I agreed about the garlic – so be careful how much you add in. I still liked it. Make a small batch first and see if you like it!

What’s GOOD: easy to make; lower in calorie; very tasty; healthy.

What’s NOT: not a thing.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cauliflower Hummus

Recipe By: Blog- as easy as apple pie
Serving Size: 5

CAULIFLOWER:
3 cups cauliflower — cut in florets
a drizzle of EVOO
salt and pepper
HUMMUS:
3 tablespoons tahini
2 small garlic cloves
1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon water — plus more if needed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
TOPPINGS:
1 tablespoon EVOO — drizzle on top
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes — minced

1. Preheat the oven 400° F. Arrange cauliflower florets on parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle liberally with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until tender and lightly browned around the edges. Cool cauliflower.
2. Into a food processor add the cooled cauliflower with olive oil, water, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt, and cumin. Puree to your liking. If it’s too thick, add more water in very small amounts to get the desired consistency. Taste for salt, pepper and cumin.
3. Chill, then spoon into a serving bowl and garnish as you’d like: olive oil, nuts or seeds, red pepper flakes. Serve with raw vegetables.
Per Serving: 144 Calories; 13g Fat (73.6% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 242mg Sodium.

Posted in Appetizers, on December 24th, 2018.

gorgonzola_fig_terrine

Another one of those . . . do you trust me? Make this. So delicious and not difficult, though there are several steps to getting this done. You can use prepared fig jam, but I’d recommend making the sauce/jam from scratch, which uses an entire bottle of Port.

One of the cooking class groups I attend is maybe going to close down. Just can’t quite get enough people to be there on a regular basis, and lots of the attenders don’t want to host the class in their homes. Some homes are more conducive to a class setting than others. My friend Cherrie hosted the group a week or so ago, and Tarla Fallgatter, the instructor, made a super varied menu of holiday sides. I’ll be posting some of the recipes from the class, even though I couldn’t eat the dressing (stuffing), or the cake dessert. I had one bite and determined the cake was a winner, though. And I nibbled on the mushrooms and sausage in the dressing.

So, this appetizer . . . it’s a gorgonzola cheese mixture (mellowed with cream cheese), layered in a round bowl with the fig/port mixture (made from dried figs) in between. You serve it with walnuts on the side (a real great taste companion) and crackers.

What’s GOOD: the flavor, first and foremost. The port-sweetened fig jam is just stellar in this dish, and the creaminess of the cream cheese/gorgonzola layers, the crunch of the walnut with each bite. Altogether wonderful.

What’s NOT: nothing, other than taking the time to reduce down the Port mixture until it becomes a kind of syrup – don’t let it burn up because you’re not watching it!!

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Gorgonzola and Fig Terrine

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 12

1 bottle Ruby Port — (750 ml)
1/2 pound mission figs — dried, stemmed
4 strips orange peel. (orange part only) — about 2″ long
1 1/2 cups Gorgonzola cheese — (about 12 ounces) crumbled, packed
5 1/2 ounces cream cheese — room temperature (about 2/3 cup)
1/2 cup walnuts — toasted halves
Assorted grapes and crackers

1. Combine Port, figs, and orange peel in heavy medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until figs soften, about 20 minutes, Discard peel. Using slotted spoon, transfer figs to processor along with 3 Tablespoons Port poaching liquid, puree to make fig jam. (At this point, I tasted the mixture and it was not to my liking. I added about 1/4 cup of preserved figs that I had in my refrigerate. It enhanced the flavor and the consistency). Transfer to small bowl to cool. Simmer remaining liquid over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 30 minutes, Cover and refrigerate syrup.
2. Line a small loaf pan (or a bowl or a mold) with plastic wrap bringing up edges over the side of the pan. Using an electric mixer, beat Gorgonzola and cream cheese in medium bowl to blend. Spread 1/2 cup cheese mixture evenly on bottom of prepared pan. Spread 1/4 cup jam, another 1/2 cup cheese mixture, then 1/4 cup jam. Top with remaining cheese mixture. Cover terrine and remaining jam with plastic wrap and refrigerate separately. Chill until firm, at least four hours. (Reduced Port syrup and terrine can be made one week ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
3. Remove terrine from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Unwrap terrine on to serving platter, and carefully remove pan. Run spatula under hot water, wipe dry, and use to smooth the edges of terrine. Drizzle port syrup over terrine (if too thick, microwave 20 seconds to thin.) Garnish with toasted walnuts and grapes.
Per Serving: 197 Calories; 18g Fat (73.5% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 41mg Cholesterol; 451mg Sodium.

Posted in Appetizers, Breads, on September 12th, 2018.

cheesy_shrimp_garlic_bread

Oh my, garlic bread, but on steroids. This is ciabatta bread, sliced in half horizontally, piled with a bunch of cheeses, tomatoes and shrimp. With a bunch of other flavor enhancers added in too.

Having had this at a cooking class, my friend Cherrie and I decided that after having had the watermelon blueberry drink, then this garlic bread, that could have been our “dinner,” and we’d have happily gone home. Not really, but we were somewhat full when we got done with this. (Although, I didn’t eat any of the bread – – the topping was wonderful, just sayin’.)

If you’re ever wanting to have some amped up kind of garlic bread – this is it – and you could serve this without the shrimp as a bread to go with a bowl of soup. If it was fish soup, then the shrimp would be fine there! You could also cut this up into much smaller squares and put it out on a buffet table.

What it is is delicious. Unctuous in my book. All that cheesy stuff going on. Shrimp is cooked through barely, then you add in chopped tomatoes and garlic. Then you chop up the shrimp a bit (or do it ahead of time, which might be easier) and add mayo, lemon juice, mozzarella and Parm. That gets piled onto the top of the ciabatta bread, sprinkled with more cheese (plus some Fontina there also), baked for 18-20 minutes, and garnish with chopped parsley. Phillis Carey made this at a class, and she happened to have bacon fat in a frying pan because she’d cooked up a bunch of bacon for a salad, so she cooked the shrimp in the bacon grease. Which might have made this even more tasty.

You can do all of the work ahead of time, except for piling the mixture on top of the bread – then you bake it. Easy peasy.

What’s GOOD: all the cheesy flavors are wonderful. Gooey deliciousness. The shrimp add something different – bet you’ve never had garlic bread with shrimp on the top, have you?

What’s not: nothing that I can think of. Really good dish.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cheesy Shrimp Garlic Bread

Recipe By: Cooking class, Phillis Carey, 2018
Serving Size: 6 (I think more than that)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 packages shrimp — cleaned, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 tomatoes — diced
3 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese — grated
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
1 small ciabatta loaf — halved horizontally, lengthwise
TOPPING:
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese — grated
1/4 cup Fontina cheese — grated
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley — chopped

NOTE: Buy a thin ciabbatta loaf if possible, i.e. you do not want height with this as it will be too bready.
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter (if you have bacon fat on hand, use that). Add chopped shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook until pink and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes, then stir in tomatoes and garlic and cook until fragrant, about one more minute. Remove from heat and cool.
2. Transfer shrimp to a bowl and mix with mayo, lemon juice, zest mozzarella and Parm. Season with more salt and pepper.
3. Spread shrimp mixture onto bread and add toppings: more Mozzarella, Fontina, Parm. Bake until bread is crispy and cheese is bubbly and golden on top, 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and add parsley immediately (so it sticks to the bubbly cheese). Cool for 2-4 minutes only, then cut into stick-sized portions and serve.
Per Serving: 393 Calories; 20g Fat (46.1% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 41g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 38mg Cholesterol; 548mg Sodium.

Posted in Appetizers, on July 9th, 2018.

mex_st_corn_dip

Oh my goodness. If you love corn – and if you happen to know the fabulous taste of Mexican Street corn, then you’ll already know this dip will be off the charts fabulous.

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for awhile, you may possibly remember a recipe I posted several years ago for Mexican Street Corn. My hubby and I had gone to a local restaurant (this was 4+ years ago since I’ve been a widow for that long) and I’d ordered the Mexican Street Corn on the menu. I went nuts over it. So did my DH. So I came home, researched the recipe and promptly made it myself. Many times. Often for guests because it’s such a crowd-pleaser. I don’t think I’ve made it since, however. Mostly, I think, because corn is a carb, and there’s not much of anything healthy about the preparation, so I convince myself I don’t need it, etc. etc.

But then, Phillis Carey decided to make it into a dip. Oh gosh, was it good. On my current diet, this would be a no-no, but when I went to the class, I was not , so I ate it all. And it was fabulous. It’s the same ingredients, made a little bit looser so it’s a dip, and served with chips. Phillis put a whole lot more varied ingredients into the corn dip – cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, shredded Jack, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, chili powder, lime juice (which was discernible, so don’t skip that ingredient), red onion, hot sauce and fresh cilantro. It’s baked in the oven and lastly sprinkled with some Cotija cheese (a Mexican dry, crumbly cheese somewhat like Feta).

What’s GOOD: every single solitary morsel of this is delish. I’m having a family gathering soon, so perhaps I’ll make this. Or maybe not since several of the family members (coincidentally) are on nearly-no -carb diets too. But YOU should make it, for sure.

What’s NOT: uhm, nothing at all, other than calories!

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Mexican Street Corn Dip

Recipe By: Phillis Carey, cooking instructor, 5/2018
Serving Size: 8

8 ounces cream cheese — softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup pepper jack cheese — or plain jack if preferred, DIVIDED USE
2 tablespoons unsalted butter — or vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 whole jalapeno chile pepper — chopped
16 ounces frozen corn — or use Trader Joe’s fire roasted corn
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder — New Mexican, if possible
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3/4 cup Cotija cheese — crumbled, DIVIDED USE
3 tablespoons red onion — chopped
1 tablespoon hot sauce — Cholula, or Sriracha
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro — chopped, DIVIDED USE
corn chips for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a food processor place the cream cheese, sour cream, mayo and 1/2 cup pepper jack. Blend until fully combined. Transer to a large bowl.
2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook 1-2 minutes. Add corn and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until corn begins to brown. Stir in cumin and chili powder. Cool completely to room temp, then stir in lime juice.
3. When corn is COOL, fold into the cream cheese mxture along with the remaining pepper jack, 1/2 cup Cotija cheese, red onion and 3 T cilantro. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish, like a deep dish pie plate. Top with remaining pepper jack cheese.
4. Bake dip for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly. If you like, drizzle the top with hot sauce and garnish with remaining Cotija cheese and cilantro. Serve with blue corn tortilla chips.
Per Serving: 358 Calories; 29g Fat (78.0% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 73mg Cholesterol; 377mg Sodium.

Posted in Appetizers, Vegetarian, Veggies/sides, on April 1st, 2018.

zucchini_patties_feta_dill

Tender little pancake-shaped fritters of shredded zucchini, onion, Feta and topped with a dollop of yogurt. Make sure you add the dill!

Some years ago I made a version of this, Turkish Zucchini Pancakes, and liked them. Those, that I made in 2008 contained tons of green onions instead of white onion, and had 4 eggs in the batch and included chopped walnuts too. I don’t know why I don’t make some version of these more often, because I love them. They could easily (for me anyway) be dinner. I’d have about 4 of them, I suppose. These are quite thin, and they’re fragile-tender. They’re full of flavor (from the onions, dill, the spice rub and Italian parsley), and once cooked, they have a lovely (but tender) texture. There is a bit of flour added to help hold them together (plus an egg and egg yolk).

Do start an hour or so ahead as you need to salt the grated zucchini and let it sit a bit, to give off some of their water before you start to mix up the batter. The onions (chopped) need to be squeezed of their extra fluid also. Then you can mix up everything, including about 1/2 cup of Feta. Speaking of Feta, Tarla Fallgatter, the cooking instructor who made these recently, recommended Bulgarian Feta. She buys it at a local ethnic market, and prefers it because it’s lower in sodium and she likes the flavor of Bulgarian over others. So, the batter is formed into thin patties, and you can work as you go – do some for the first batch and while they’re frying, form more rounds of them.

Into a big frying pan they go with some olive oil (you’ll likely need to add more olive oil with each subsequent batch you fry). This recipe makes 16-18 of the pancakes, but they’re thin, so surely you’d have 2 per person, or more. For an entrée you’d have 4-5 per person, I’d guess. Maybe more if your crowd is really hungry. Anyway, they take about 5 minutes per side to get golden brown. Transfer them to paper towels to drain. If you make as you go, you’d be serving them immediately. Otherwise, put them on a paper-lined rack on a tray and keep them in a 250°F oven while you finish preparing them all. Because they are thin pancakes, they’ll cool off way too fast.

Meanwhile you chop up some fresh dill for the pretty-factor. DILL is essential in these – there are just food combinations that are made in heaven – zucchini-yogurt-dill is one. To serve, make them pretty with a dollop of the yogurt and garnish with a little sprig of dill on top. My mouth is watering . . . . .

What’s GOOD: the pancakes are delicate and tender. Full of flavor and satisfying. I would think these could be prepared and frozen too, then reheated in a toaster oven easily enough. If you have a bumper crop of zucchini this could be a great make-ahead dish. This would go nicely with a roast (lamb or pork I’m thinking), or all by itself.

What’s NOT: really nothing except that you do need to drain the zucchini and onion so start a bit ahead of when you’re going to prepare them.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Zucchini Patties with Feta

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter, cooking instructor
Serving Size: 8

2 1/2 cups zucchini — coarsely grated (about 3 medium)
1 teaspoon salt — divided use
1 teaspoon spice rub — or use a combo of Mediterranean spices/herbs
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup all purpose flour — (or more)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup olive oil — (about)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, full-fat — with dill to garnish

1. Toss zucchini and 1/2 teaspoon salt in large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer to sieve. Press out excess liquid; place zucchini in dry bowl. Chop the onion finely and gather it into a couple of paper towels and allow to drain for a couple of minutes, then squeeze to extract some of the liquid from the onions. Add onion in with zucchini. Mix in egg, yolk, 1/2 cup flour, cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix in parsley and dill. If batter is very wet, add more flour by spoonfuls.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls into skillet. Fry patties until golden, 5 minutes per side, adding more olive oil oil as needed. Transfer to paper towels. Serve immediately or keep warm by placing patties on paper towels on a rack, on a baking sheet in a 225°F oven. Serve with yogurt and garnish with dill.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Place on baking sheet, cover, and chill. Rewarm uncovered in 350°F oven 12 minutes.
Per Serving: 218 Calories; 18g Fat (73.9% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 67mg Cholesterol; 396mg Sodium.

Posted in Appetizers, on January 24th, 2018.

cheese_ball_horseradish

A lovely tasting cheese ball, suitable for anytime. The little bit of horseradish in it gives it a different and subtle hint of it – not at all overpowering.

Cheese balls are so appropriate for the holidays. I made this a few days before Christmas and took it to daughter Sara’s house. We were spending the afternoon making tamales, but we ended up eating this and a big pan full of nachos (with the leftover pork and red chile tamale filling and a bunch of jack cheese sprinkled on top) as dinner. After the tamale fest, everyone was fatigued with the process, and the last thing Sara wanted to do was prepare a sit-down dinner. So out came the cheese ball and we just noshed.

For the last several months I’ve subscribed to the New York Times’ daily food section email. And of course, they want me to subscribe (the pay type, and no, I’m not doing that), and every day they remind me that I’m not subscribed, but yet I am able to access the recipes they include in those emails. Most of the time there isn’t anything all that noteworthy, but occasionally they rave about something. And the last week of December they mailed out links (and photos) of the favorites of 2017. This is one of them. And they particularly mentioned the hint of horseradish gave it really great flavor.

There are two steps to making this: (1) the nut coating; and (2) the cheese ball. You use a stand mixer for the cheese – maybe it could be done with a hand-held mixer (try it and see) but the stand mixer made it easy to combine the ingredients. The nut coating (walnuts, maple syrup, butter and salt) is roasted in the oven until just golden brown, then you chop up the nuts and set those aside. The cheese  ball needs to be refrigerated for a few hours (I did mine overnight) and just before serving you roll the ball in the nut mixture and onto a serving platter it goes. Very simple, and nice to make ahead if you’re having a group over and want minimal fuss at the last minute.

The recipe calls for cream cheese, cheddar and Gruyere. I didn’t have the last one, and Trader Joe’s was out of Gruyere (darn) but I found another Swiss type cheese that was similar. I do not recommend you use a domestic Swiss cheese in this – whatever it is American cheese producers do to our Swiss cheese, well, let’s just say I don’t want that flavor profile in the cheese ball. I used Emmental and it was perfect. The herbs add a nice little green hint throughout, and of course, the horseradish, to me, is the subtle star of the show. Also liked the nut coating.

What’s GOOD: loved the horseradish hint in the mixture, and enjoyed the cheese combo too. Very tasty. Easy to make, really, and I like that it all can be made ahead except for rolling the ball in the nuts. A keeper. I see why it made the best of 2017 at the N.Y. Times. I will say, that there is another cheese ball in my life, Bombay Cheese Ball, and I may just like it the best but if you’re not into Indian-style spices (i.e., curry), then this one would be a better choice.

What’s NOT: nothing!

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

The Perfect Cheese Ball

Recipe By: The New York Times, 2017
Serving Size: 10

NUT COATING:
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter — melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups walnuts — coarsely chopped
CHEESE BALL:
12 ounces cream cheese — softened
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar — or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper — fine grind
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese — finely shredded
1 cup Gruyere cheese — shredded (or other Swiss type, but NOT American Swiss)
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — finely grated
1/4 cup chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons fresh dill — chopped (or use 2 tsp dried dill)

Crackers and fresh vegetables for serving

1. NUT COATING: Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together maple syrup, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the walnuts and toss to coat. Pour the nuts onto the parchment lined sheet tray and roast for 8 minutes or until nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Once cool, roughly chop the nuts to a finer grind.
3. CHEESE BALL: In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese, vinegar, and horseradish until smooth. Season with pepper and salt. Then, add in all the cheese and herbs and mix until just combined. Place the mixture, in a big mound, onto a big sheet of plastic wrap. Fold the excess plastic wrap over the mound and form into a ball. Chill until firm, at least an hour, but a few hours would be better. [Will keep several days.]
4. When you’re ready to serve, remove the cheese ball from the fridge for 20 minutes to soften a bit. Roll the cheese ball in the nuts to coat. Serve with crackers and fresh veggies.
Per Serving: 345 Calories; 31g Fat (78.1% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 65mg Cholesterol; 435mg Sodium.

Posted in Appetizers, on December 19th, 2017.

ricotta_roasted_grape_crostini

This might seem like an unlikely combination. Roasted grapes, you say? Yes, and garnished with toasted pine nuts and fresh thyme, then drizzled with some honey. Sublime.

Roasting every kind of food is certainly “in” these days, isn’t it? I’m most definitely on the bandwagon too – I particularly love roasted vegetables – they gain such incredible caramelization when roasted. So, why wouldn’t grapes be amped up with the same treatment. In fact, fruit of any kind is enhanced with roasting because the sugar in fruit makes for easy caramelization.

There is a bit of assembly required here, so it’s best to get everything ready before hand. Roast the grapes (tossed with vinegar, fresh thyme and olive oil). Cut and toast the baguette slices, toast the pine nuts too. Slightly warm the ricotta cheese to room temp too. Have the honey out (warm it just slightly in the microwave if it’s too thick) and some of the thyme leaves already chopped up.

Gather all the ingredients around you, grab a baguette slice and spread it with the ricotta cheese (do use full fat here – it has so much more flavor), then gently add 4-5 of the oh-so-cute wrinkled grapes on top, sprinkle with pine nuts and more fresh thyme, then drizzle the whole thing with just a tiny bit of honey. The grapes are the star of the show here, as they just burst in your mouth. The pine nuts add wonderful chewy texture, and then you get the honey on your tongue and the rounded-out flavor from the fresh thyme. If you have lemons, add a tiny sprinkle of zest on top too. This recipe came from a cooking class I took a couple of weeks ago with Tarla Fallgatter.

What’s GOOD: the flavor combo is just delicious. I wouldn’t be serving this to a cocktail party as they do require assembly at the last minute, but to a small group of friends or family, it’s do-able. Expect each person to eat at least two of them. You’ll love the squish in your mouth when you chomp down on the grapes. Yum. Then you get the flavors of the honey, the chewiness of the pine nuts then the hint of fresh thyme too. Altogether delicious.

What’s NOT: just that it requires last minute assembly. Don’t make it for a large crowd unless you have help in the kitchen. Assembly would be great for a teenager to do if you have one on hand!

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Ricotta and Roasted Grape Crostini

Recipe By: cooking class with Tarla Fallgatter, 2017
Serving Size: 6

GRAPES:
1 pound seedless grapes — mixed varieties, de-stemmed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
CROSTINI:
3/4 cup ricotta cheese — (use full fat)
3 tablespoons pine nuts — toasted
2 tablespoons thyme sprigs
12 baguette slices — lightly toasted
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lemon zest — finely grated

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. On a parchment paper lined baking sheet toss the grapes with vinegar, thyme and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until grapes are softened and skins have started to pop.
2. Spoon a tablespoon of ricotta onto each crostini slice, spoon 3-5 grapes on top and sprinkle with pine nuts. Arrange on a serving platter, then drizzle with honey and sprinkle each with more thyme leaves and fresh lemon zest. Add salt and pepper, if desired.
Per Serving: 319 Calories; 12g Fat (33.9% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 44g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 16mg Cholesterol; 336mg Sodium.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...