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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 2022, I’m still doing 99% of the blogging and holding out hope that these two lovely and excellent cooks will participate. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

Have only begun Geraldine Brooks’ brand new book, Horse. Oh my, is it a page turner. Loving it so far. It’s a fictional creation but based on a real racehorse owned by a black man, back in the 1850s. Technically, the story is about a painting of the horse but there are many twists and turns. If you’ve ever enjoyed Brooks’ books in the past, this one won’t disappoint.

The Book of Lost Names, by Kristin Harmel (no, not Hannah). Certainly a little-known chunk of history about a woman who becomes a master forger during WWII to help get Jewish children out of France. Not easy to read, meaning the difficulty of anyone finding the means and place to DO the forgery and right under the noses of the Nazis. Really good read.

Liane Moriarty’s first novel, Three Wishes, follows the travails of adult triplets, so different, yet similar in many ways. Two are identical, the third is not. So alike, and so not. It takes you through a series of heart-wrenching events, seemingly unrelated, but ones that could bring a family to its breaking point and test the bonds of love and strength.

Recently I’ve read both of Erin French’s books, her cookbook, The Lost Kitchen, and since then her memoir, Finding Freedom. About her life growing up (difficult) about her coming of age mostly working in the family diner, flipper burgers and fries (and learning how much she liked to cook). Now she’s a very successful restaurant entrepreneur (The Lost Kitchen is also the name of her restaurant) in the miniscule town of Freedom, Maine. She’s not a classically trained chef, but she’s terrifically creative. See her TV series on Discover+ if you subscribe.

Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. To say that this book stretched my comfort zone is the least of it . . .think about a time in the not very distant future, when global warming has done it’s worst and nearly all animals are extinct. No bird song in the air or fish in the sea. There’s this woman, Franny, who is on a quest to follow the very small, but last migration of arctic terns, who fly from pole to pole each year. She somehow sees this migration as a paean to her own life (of many travails). Is this book a foretelling of what our world will be like?  There’s a lot of angst going on here in this book, with her marriage, with her career, with her perpetual need for travel . . . always needing to go somewhere else other than staying at home and finding peace and happiness there. Then this final, gritty, illegal at-sea voyage trying to find the terns. Very much worth reading if you can stomach the sadness in it. Soul-searching is a common denominator here, but then aren’t a lot of books?

Jo Jo Moyes has a bunch of books to her credit. And she writes well, with riveting stories. Everything I’ve read of hers has been good. This book, The Girl You Left Behind, is so different, so intriguing, so controversial and a fascinating historical story. There are two timelines here, one during WWI, in France, when a relatively unknown painter (in the style of Matisse) paints a picture of his wife. The war intervenes for both the husband and the wife. A German Kommandant enters the picture in this tiny berg in France. Knowing her husband is in a camp, most likely a death camp, she compromises her morals to save the picture and possibly save her husband’s life. Jump to somewhat current day and the painting, which has survived all these years, and is in the hands of a young widow who has an extraordinary connection with the painting. A lawsuit ensues having to do with art stolen by the Nazis and a convoluted trail of how the painting traveled in the intervening years. Even though this was WWI, not WWII, but the law encompasses the past. It’s a heart-wrenching story. There’s a love interest too. Well worth reading. Would make a good book club read.

Memoirs are such fun, especially if you really enjoy/love the author. This was the case as I read Rachael Ray 50, an ode to  her age. So I read online, Rachael discloses more about her personal life in this book than she has done in her many other cookbooks. I really enjoyed reading the book, as she told stories about her growing up, including some of her mother’s recipes and from other family members. She and her family eat tons of pasta, so lots of the recipes I probably won’t prepare, but okay, I still enjoyed reading all the stories.

Eli Shafak’s Island of Missing Trees. This book was just a page turner. If you’ve never read anything about the conflict in Cyprus (the island) between the Turks and the Greeks, you’re in for a big history lesson here. But, the entire story centers around a fig tree. You get into the head/brain/feelings of this big fig tree which plays a very central part of the story. You’ll learn a lot about animals, insects (ants, mosquitos, butterflies) and other flora and fauna of Cyprus. I’m not a gardener at all, but I found the story just fascinating. It chronicles the love story between a young couple, human ones, not trees, one a Greek, one a Turk and their relationship (verboten back in the 70s). It goes back and forth between the 70s (when the real conflict was going on) and current day (2010ish). Loved this book from page one to the last.

If you’re a fan of Kazuo Ishiguro, you’ll find his newest book a league apart. Klara and the Sun. It takes place in the near future when we humans can go to a store and buy an AF (artificial friend). These robotic humanoid “things” have knowledge and personalities. The book follows along as a family buys Klara, an AF with perhaps a better personality than some. She has feelings, but not very many needs. The reader never really “sees” Klara except for a few descriptions of her human-type shape. You get into Klara’s brain (her PC chip) and know how she feels about her family. Her main job is to be a friend to the daughter, Josie, who has some kind of unnamed illness. The AF must spend a part of every day in the sunshine (some kind of hidden solar unit must be within Klara). There are any number of other characters in the story (mostly human, not AFs) which add dimension. I was quite mesmerized by the story and am in awe at the creativity of this author. Loved the book. May not be for everyone. I’m not a science fiction fan at all, but this was believable. And you’ll fall in love with Klara who wants so much to be wanted and loved.

Also read Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. Ohhh my, such a good book. I couldn’t put it down. Whatever you do, do not read the ending before you start the book. I’ve never understood people who do this. The book chronicles the day a mom just ups and disappears. The grown children come back home, in panic. The dad isn’t much help, and he becomes the prime suspect of foul play. There is no body, however. The husband and wife own a tennis school (this takes place in Australia) and the children grow up surrounded by tennis everything. The children don’t necessarily get along. The parents haven’t always gotten along, either, although through many years the parents were quite besotted with each other, to the detriment of the parenting. Much travail from all the family members. But oh what a story. It had me riveted and wondering, until the last 5 pages of so when the resolution occurs. Big surprise.

Amor Towles’ new book, The Lincoln Highway: A Novel. Literally it’s a page turner. I think it’s still on the best seller list. A young man, Emmett, is released from a youth work camp (back in the day) and is returned home (by the camp warden) following the death of his father, to find that the home they’d lived in was in foreclosure. His mother abandoned them years before. His intent is to pick up his 8-year old brother and they will head off for Texas, but then he discovers two of his work-camp-mates had hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Oh my goodness, such a tangled web. Fascinating, and Amor Towles has such a way with words. His sentences are like blooming flower vines, with metaphors in nearly every sentence. Such a gifted writer.

If you’d like a mystery read, try Dete Meserve’s The Space Between. It’s just the kind of page-turner I enjoy – a wife returns to her home after being away on business for a few days, to find her husband missing and what he’s left for her is an unexplained bank deposit of a million dollars, a loaded Glock in the nightstand, and a video security system that’s been wiped clean. Oh there are plenty of twists and turns. Couldn’t put it down.

Read Alyson Richman’s historical novel called The Velvet Hours. Most of the book takes place in Paris, with a young woman and her grandmother, a very wealthy (but aging) woman who led a life of a semi-courtesan. Or at least a kept woman. But this grandmother was very astute and found ways to invest her money, to grow her money, and to buy very expensive goods. Then WWII intervenes, and the granddaughter has to close up her grandmother’s apartment, leaving it much the way it had been throughout her grandmother’s life, to escape the Nazis. Years go by, and finally answers are sought and found. An intriguing book, based on the author’s experience with an apartment that had been locked up similarly for decades, also in Paris.

Susan Meissner is one of my favorite authors. This book, The Nature of Fragile Things tells a very unusual story. About a young Irish immigrant, desperate to find a way out of poverty, answers an ad for a mail order bride. She moves to San Francisco and becomes the bride, and mother to the man’s young child. But all is not right with the world. Sophie senses an undercurrent about her husband’s life. He’s elusive, leaves her alone for days on end, doesn’t share her bed, and she begins to feel the only reason he wanted a wife was to care for the child. Then the world turns upside down with the 1906 earthquake. And then there’s more. . . and more. . . very gripping read.

Also read Rachel Hauck’s The Writing Desk. You could call this a romance. A young professional, a writer of one successful book, has writer’s block. Then she’s asked to go to Florida to help her mother (from whom she’s mostly estranged) through chemo. She goes, hoping she can find new inspiration. Oh the various twists this book can give you. There’s a guy she meets, but she’s keeping her boyfriend at home on the string, sort of. Then there’s the desk itself, that has history. Oh my, does it have history. Really interesting story, light reading.

One of my book clubs has us reading Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library: A Novel. What a premise for a book. About a library you can whiz to in the middle of the night and discover other lives you could have lived. And experience them. To find out the answers to those questions we ask ourselves sometimes, “I wonder what would have happened if I’d . . . .” taken that other job, gone out with that guy, taken that trip. That kind of thing. You’ll find out what happened to one particular woman who thought she had nothing left to live for. Good read. Very different. A bit space-agey. Sort of time travel, but not really. But yes, maybe.

James Shipman has written an intriguing book, It Is Well: A Novel, about a man who has lost his wife. And about a woman who has lost her husband. But their relationship stalls, big time, because the guy made a promise to his wife, and he feels duty-bound to honor it. There is much angst about it all. Much wringing of hands, some tears on her part. Nice book; good read.

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers. The story is mostly about a young woman, educated, a Jew, who is the scribe (in secret) to an aging religious leader (in a time when women would have been verboten to hold such a position). And about her own curiosity about her religion and how she eventually begins writing letters (using a male pseudonym) to various Jewish leaders abroad, questioning their religious beliefs. The book is extraordinarily long – not that that kept me from turning a single page! – and complex with the cast of characters from the 1600s and the cast in today’s world of highly competitive experts analyzing the ancient papers. Altogether riveting book. Loved it from beginning to end.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid. Then to current time as a young woman tries to ferret her family history and particularly about some old-old jewelry that they can’t quite figure out – how the grandmother came to have them. Fascinating tale.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then becomes something else. There is graphic detail here.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name. She meets a guy and they share a bond of reading and some romance. Years go by and she’s now owner of a failing independent bookstore (and married, or separated) and suddenly begins receiving a used book (that she recognizes) every day from a different place in the country. A message for sure, but where will it lead? Yes, it’s a romance. Lots of introspection going on. Enjoyed it.

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.

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. Very poignant story.

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. 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. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

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.

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.

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.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. 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. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

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.

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 black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  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, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. 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. 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. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.

 

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.

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Posted in Appetizers, Pork, on June 19th, 2022.

Another recipe from the wine tasting event last month. So good.

A post from Carolyn. So there’s a little story to go along with this recipe. If you’ll recall, the wine tasting event (a fundraiser for my PEO chapter) at my house was kind of a Spanish wine and tapas affair. Not strictly, but mostly. First we had a Spanish sangria made with a cava rose wine. I have yet to post that recipe . . . and Lois made these wonderful appetizer meatballs, among other Spanish tidbits we served.

Just so you know, there’s a difference between Mexican chorizo and Spanish chorizo. The Spanish variety is more like cured sausage – it IS a cured, dry sausage. I’d found the recipe online and gave the recipe to Lois. I’d cautioned her to make sure she bought Spanish chorizo which would require cutting the sausage into tiny little (dry) cubes and incorporating them into the meatball mixture. I recommended Lois go to Whole Foods, as I knew they (usually) have Spanish chorizo. She went to the specialty meat counter and pointed to the chorizo in the case and asked the butcher if it was Spanish chorizo. My guess is the butcher was Hispanic, and thought she was asking if it was “Mexican” chorizo, although she said “Spanish.” Semantics. Perhaps he didn’t know there was a difference. So she bought Mexican chorizo (which is a raw meat product) and made these wonderful meatballs.

Meaning that these meatballs weren’t authentically Spanish, but a Mexican version. I didn’t know how they’d turn out . . . but I can categorically say they were fantastic. Everyone loved them. So did I! It’s not as if the recipe was wrong, or bad, just that we didn’t cleave to the original. We all laughed about it. The blog where the recipe originated is written by a young couple who live in Spain and all their recipes are authentic (and in English).

There are two parts to the recipe – the meatballs (ground pork and chorizo) and a tomato based sauce (with smoked paprika) that is spooned over the top of the hot, cooked meatballs. If these were served in a tapas bar in Spain, they’d probably be warm, not piping hot. They might even be at room temp (not a good thing bacteria-wise). We served them hot (picture at top) with toothpicks.

If you wanted to make these into a meal, serve with a side veg, and some Spanish rice version of some kind. And maybe a green salad.

What’s GOOD: these were really delicious. Not authentically Spanish, but very tasty. Very much worth making.

What’s NOT: only that you should seek out good quality chorizo. NOT the kind from your local grocery store as it’s usually very fatty and you don’t really know what’s in it.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Spanish Meatballs

Recipe By: adapted from Spanish Sabores blog
Serving Size: 12

MEATBALLS:
3 tablespoons EVOO
2/3 pound Mexican chorizo
2/3 pound ground pork
1 medium onion — finely chopped
2 cloves garlic — finely chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1 sprig thyme
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper
SAUCE:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion — finely chopped
2 cloves garlic — finely chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 whole bay leaves
1/2 cup white wine — or dry sherry
1/2 cup chicken broth — or vegetable stock
14 ounces crushed tomatoes — or diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves — chopped, a few larger pieces for decoration

1. MEATBALLS: Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of the EVOO. When it’s hot, add the chorizo and sauté to release the fat, for 5 minutes or until the meat turns a darker, golden color. Add the diced onion and sauté for 3 minutes or until translucent.
2. Add the garlic and sauté together until aromatic (about 1 or 2 minutes). Take off the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Meanwhile, combine the ground pork, breadcrumbs, paprika, thyme leaves, egg, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add the onions, garlic, and chorizo and mix until well-combined.
4. Wet your fingers lightly with water, then roll the mixture into 1-inch balls. Makes about 30.
5. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place meatballs on two parchment-lined large sheetpans, leaving space in between each one. Bake for 15 minutes.
6. SAUCE: place a separate saucepan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Sauté the diced onion until translucent, then add the garlic and paprika. Continue to sauté for a further two minutes, until the aromas are strong.
7. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook for 4-5 minutes until the wine is reduced. Add the chicken broth, as well as the tomatoes and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until it reaches a sauce-like consistency. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
8. To serve, garnish the meatballs with tomato sauce and fresh parsley. Both meatballs and sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated. Reheat meatballs and sauce separately and proceed as above.
Per Serving: 196 Calories; 13g Fat (59.4% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 46mg Cholesterol; 368mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 37mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 305mg Potassium; 120mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Appetizers, Soups, Vegetarian, on June 16th, 2022.

Simply the best kind of refreshing first course for summertime. If you haven’t got good, ripe tomatoes or watermelon yet, save this to make in a month or two.

A post from Carolyn. So, a couple of weeks ago I hosted a small fund-raising event at my home. It’s the third time or fourth time we’ve had a wine tasting fund-raiser on my patio. I think we skipped a year, 2020, when we were all housebound from Covid lockdowns. About 10 of my dear PEO sisters bid on attending the event this year. The money all goes to philanthropies to help young women get an education; and we who host pay for the food or activities and the bid money goes to the philanthropies.

I had two co-hostesses, Linda and Lois, and they made most of the food. I made sangria (recipe coming up) and I also made another batch of the tres leches cake I posted a few weeks ago. The one made with pineapple, coconut milk, rum, etc. I made some asparagus appetizers, then we had some Spanish meatballs, and also a baguette slice appetizer. All those recipes coming up soon.

The weather was okay – maybe we should be happy it wasn’t blisteringly hot as that would have been miserable. It was about 70, and we sat outside the whole time. I’d figured out the menu some months ago and decided to go with a Spanish wine and tapas theme. After having the sangria (from Spanish rose cava), we moved on to an appetizer, then we served this lovely gazpacho. I love gazpacho. I found a great website just chock full of tapas recipes, called Spanish Sabores. Most of the recipes came from that website, however all of them had a few modifications so I feel quite comfortable posting them. If you’re ever wanting to do a tapas night, do go to that website for ideas. The couple who post are just the cutest!

So, this recipe. I told Lois to buy really good tomatoes, and to find a ripe watermelon. That’s not always easy, and this was in May, so it’s possible neither would be great, but I sent Lois to my favorite independent grocery store where I can rely, always, on their good produce. She talked to the produce guy and he helped her pick out the best. When in doubt, buy Roma tomatoes as they generally have good flavor year-around.

The gazpacho is so easy to make – whiz up most of the ingredients in a blender, put it through a fine-mesh sieve (or not, if you want more texture) and then add the watermelon and mint, then taste for seasoning. After Lois made it, I tasted it and decided it needed a tiny bit more salt, a bit of sugar (because I could taste the bitterness of the green bell pepper) and then I added some balsamic vinegar. A tetch. Really just a tetch. Oh, perfection. In this soup, you really can taste the tomatoes, the watermelon, the bell pepper. The other ingredients just add layers of flavor.

What’s GOOD: so fresh, and refreshing. Easy to make. Do taste it at the end to add salt, maybe, or a bit of sugar, or the balsamic vinegar (very little). You can make it ahead, too.

What’s NOT: only that you need to seek out and find really ripe (tasty) produce to go into it. Don’t compromise on that or the soup won’t be great.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Watermelon Mint Gazpacho

Recipe By: Adapted from Spanish Sabores blog
Serving Size: 8

6 large tomatoes — very ripe, roughly cut into large chunks
1/2 cup green bell pepper
2 small cloves garlic — cut into a few pieces
1 small onion — roughly chopped
3 cups watermelon — ripe, roughly chopped with seeds removed
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons EVOO
4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar — or maybe up to 2 tsp
1 teaspoon sugar — or more to taste (optional)
2/3 cup fresh mint leaves — plus more for garnish

NOTE: If you prefer your gazpacho thicker, do not strain, or use a wider-mesh strainer to retain more of the tomato pulp. You can also top each glass with a little sherry vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, a watermelon ball and a mint leaf.
1. Wash and chop the tomatoes, pepper, and onion. Make sure you are using the best quality fruits and vegetables possible since gazpacho is a raw dish.
2. Blend the tomatoes, green pepper, onion, and garlic until completely pureed.
3. Strain the blended vegetable juice through a fine mesh strainer. (Or not, if you prefer a thicker consistency.)
4. Everything should pass through except for a layer of seeds and skin. Discard this.
5. Add the vegetable juice back to the blender and add the watermelon. Blend again until completely pureed.
6. Add salt to taste (go easy, you can always add more later), and sherry vinegar and blend. Suit your own taste on how much vinegar – and it depends upon the ripeness of the fruit and vegetables used.
7. Finally, slowly add in the EVOO (better olive oil means better gazpacho) as the blender is running. Add balsamic vinegar and sugar and blend until smooth.
8. Taste the gazpacho for salt and vinegar and adjust if necessary. Then, add two to four ice cubes (depending on how thin you like your gazpacho – when we made it we used no ice). Let them melt for a few minutes in the blender and then add a handful of fresh mint and blend for the last time. Can be made the day before; keep chilled.
9. Taste for salt and serve ice cold in glasses, garnished with a mint leaf.
Per Serving: 87 Calories; 4g Fat (35.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 9mg Sodium; 9g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 36mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 392mg Potassium; 44mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Appetizers, on June 2nd, 2022.

A really delicious dip to serve about 8-10-12 or so. Similar to many recipes out there, but there are a couple of things different about this one.

A post from Carolyn. If you go online and hunt for seven layer dip, you’ll find hundreds of recipes. Literally hundreds. It’s certainly popular and well deserved, since it’s so delicious. Haven’t we all made seven layer dip for decades? I sure have. There are a few things that are different about this one – the bean layer requires some cooking (and mashing) with some good flavorings added in, and there’s a corn layer to this one.

I started with a recipe on the ‘net, and changed it by adding the kind of canned corn that contains peppers (Fiesta, Mexicorn type) instead of either fresh corn or ordinary canned corn. I also added more ground cumin. The first layer in the 9×9 pan was the beans (see photo at left) – black beans in this case, and they’re drained well, then added to some of the green onions and garlic sautéed with some EVOO. Some cumin is added too. The beans are mashed (either with a fork or a potato masher) and some water is added – they need to be spreadable (i.e., not too dry). Finally, they’re smeared into the dish.

Then a layer (not much) of sour cream is added. There’s some shredded cheddar cheese, the guacamole you’ve made, some more cheese, the can of corn, then lastly you add the freshly made salsa. I used fresh Roma tomatoes, which were nicely ripe. I didn’t peel them, but they were chopped finely and I removed the center part with most of the seeds. Lime juice gives accent to the salsa and guacamole, ground cumin adds piquancy to both the beans and the guacamole, and garlic is added to the beans and guac. The salsa should be drained (of liquid that generates from the tomatoes) before it’s spread on the top.

I made this 24 hours ahead, letting those flavors meld a bit, then served it with a lot of crispy tortilla chips. I buy a brand of tortilla chips that are actually freshly fried (Las Golondrinos) available at a few of my local stores. If you can, seek out a place that makes home made chips – they’re so much better! Just before serving I sprinkled a bit of salt on the top of the tomatoes – use your own judgment after tasting it.

What’s GOOD: all those good, fresh flavors – the beans, cheese, guac, corn and salsa. Altogether delish. There is no heat to this dip – you could add some chili powder if you prefer. Loved that I could make it ahead.

What’s NOT: nothing at all, except you need to start a few hours ahead.

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Seven-Layer Dip – with corn

Recipe By: adapted from a recipe on the internet
Serving Size: 8 (maybe more if they don’t eat too much of it!)

2 cups tomatoes — cored, diced (Roma)
1 bunch green onions — thinly sliced, light and dark parts separated
1 jalapeño pepper — seeded and finely diced (divided)
4 tablespoons lime juice — from 2 limes (divided)
1 teaspoon salt — and more to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons EVOO
3 cloves garlic — minced (divided)
15 ounces canned black beans — drained and rinsed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin — divided use
A tablespoon or two of water
3 medium avocados — halved, pitted and diced
8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese — shredded (divided)
1 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups corn — canned, drained – with peppers (Del Monte Mexicorn, Fiesta, Green Giant)
Tortilla chips — for serving

1. SALSA: In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, half of the dark part of the green onions, half of the minced jalapeño, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and the sugar. (If your tomatoes are sweet, omit the sugar.) Set aside.
2. BEANS: Heat EVOO in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add all of the light part of the green onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 2 minutes. Measure out 1/4 teaspoon of the minced garlic and set aside in a medium bowl (you’ll use this for the guacamole). Add the remaining garlic to the skillet and continue cooking for 30 seconds more. Do not brown. Add the black beans, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon of the cumin, and water and continue cooking for about one minute. Off the heat, mash the beans with a fork or potato masher until they have a chunky puréed texture. Add a tablespoon or two of water to make the beans spreadable. Spread the beans into an 8×8 or 9×9-inch glass baking dish into an even layer. Set aside. Don’t be dismayed if the bean layer tastes salty – the dish needs salt.
3. GUACAMOLE: To the medium bowl with the reserved garlic, add the avocados, the remaining dark green scallions, the remaining jalapeño, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon cumin, and the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice. Mash with a large, wide-tined fork until blended but still a bit chunky.
4. ASSEMBLY: Spread the sour cream evenly over the black bean layer. If you have one, use an offset spatula. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the sour cream, followed by all of the guacamole, and then the remaining cheese. Sprinkle the corn over the cheese.
5. Transfer the salsa to a fine sieve and drain for about 5 minutes. Then pour the salsa on top of the corn corn layer, using a spoon to spread evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or overnight if possible. Remove from refrigerator about an hour before serving, and serve with a spoon and heaps of tortilla chips. If made ahead, liquid might possibly rise up to the surface – use a paper towel to blot the liquid before serving.
Per Serving: 415 Calories; 31g Fat (64.3% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 42mg Cholesterol; 566mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 268mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 810mg Potassium; 285mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Appetizers, on October 31st, 2021.

Post by Sara – What can you do with celery leaves?

I know…we all add them to our stock or soups, maybe even salads.  But seriously, what else can be done?  I started researching this very thing because I was given a box of fruit and veggies from a local organic grower.  And the celery was twice as big as you see in the stores plus it had this gorgeous head of leaves.   When I buy celery at the grocery store, it is trimmed of the leaves.  To be honest, I was shocked at how large the bunch of celery was with its leaves intact.  So…what can we do with celery leaves?  Make pesto, of course!

There is a very unique taste to this pesto.  It’s not as strong as you might expect.  Not so overwhelmingly celery flavored.  I served it as an appetizer on toasted baguette slices at a family BBQ.  It was topic of conversation while being a big hit.  I plan to use some of the (very little) remaining as a sauce on my halibut I’ll be grilling this week.

Ingredients pictured left in food processor before processing into paste and adding olive oil.

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Celery Leaf Pesto

Serving Size: 8

5 cups celery leaves — loosely packed, leaves only
zest of a half an orange and zest of 1 whole lime
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese — grated
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup olive oil — plus 2 tablespoons

1. Wash celery leaves in cold water and lightly pat them dry.
2. Add all ingredients to the food processor EXCEPT olive oil. Pulse until a thick paste forms.
3. Add the olive oil and pulse the sauce at lowest speed until well combined.
4. Season with salt and pepper. Be careful about the salt – some Parm is very high in sodium. Taste before adding.
Per Serving: 246 Calories; 23g Fat (81.6% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 12mg Cholesterol; 300mg Sodium.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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.

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