Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stuffed Swordfish Rolls

The first time I tasted this fish dish it was made my by Auntie Ella and typically served on Christmas Eve along with baccala, lobster and shrimp dishes. Served on a large platter, rolls and rolls of stuffed swordfish. But then I traveled to Italy for a few months and found it on a menu in a small family-run trattoria on the waterfront in Sorrento's Marina Piccolo... a working harbor adorned with colorful boats and the freshest fish to choose from. I knew right away what I would be ordering. As we celebrate this Christmas Eve, we want you all to have a very Merry Christmas, be thankful for past blessings, and we look with hope to the New Year ahead. Best wishes to you and yours for a happy & healthy holiday season. Buon Natale!

Auntie Ella's Stuffed Swordfish Rolls

3 TBLS olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
5 oz fresh swordfish, minced
a sprig of basil
1 TBLS fresh flat-leafed parsley, minced
1 TBLS fresh oregano, minced
3/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 anchiove filets, rinsed & chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
zest of 1 lemon
1 TBLS fresh lemon juice
3 oz sharp provolone cheese, finely diced
pinch of chili flakes
2 eggs
sea salt, ground pepper
8 oz thinly sliced swordfish- which is easily done if it's partially frozen

Put a skillet on moderate heat with a little olive oil. Add the onion and gently fry. As soon as the onion begins to color, add the minced swordfish, basil, parlsey, oregano and breadcrumbs. Fry gently for 5 minutes so the flavors will blend. Set aside to cool down a bit. Once cooled, put the mixture in a food processor along with the provolone, eggs,anchioves, lemon rind, lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt, ground pepper and a pinch of chili flakes and mix pulsing for just a moment or two.

Prepare the swordfish steaks by lightly pounding them between 2 pieces of waxed paper.. lightly enough so that you don't tear the fish. Divide your filling mixture among the swordfish slices. Coat each portion of mixture with olive oiled hands and make a mini-loaf roll. Roll up the fish over the filling and fasten with skewers or toothpicks. I tried twine lacing my swordfish rolls, but it didn't hold up stick to the skewers. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the skewered swordfish and grill/or broil for 6-8 minutes on each side. Baste with oregano sauce and serve with lemon slices.

Oregano sauce

This is a simple sauce, that's super with any grilled or broiled fish.

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup hot water
juice of two lemons
pinch of sea salt
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 tsp fresh oregano, minced

Pour the olive oil into a small pan. Add the warmed water, lemon juice. Whisk together. Add sea salt, garlic & oregano. Whisk again while heating. Baste your fish while it is grilling and be sure to serve a bit in a warmed sauce dish as a side. Enjoy!

As I wasn't able to make it to Joe of Italyville's Feast of the Seven Fishes celebration, I'm still going to send this along to him. Who knows, you may want to try this yummy dish for your New Years menu.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas cookies

I've been busy this week, like everyone else no doubt, baking christmas cookies. Only these cookies aren't just for family and friends, but instead for elders and shut-ins that live alone and don't have many visitors during the holiday season. We'll deliver to over two hundred recipients next week.. boxes & boxes of assorted Christmas cookies. It's a very special project for me, one that I started eighteen years ago and one that I look forward to each year. With our move this past year, they'll be some new faces for me to friends to be made.

Among the varieties of Italian cookies will be one cookie I make often. Not a pizzelle, or a fig cookie, nor macaroons, Todos or wandies..but a simple sugar cookie. Probably the best sugar cookie you'll ever eat :) You can decorate them any way you prefer, but I like them plain and simple with a sprinkling of sugar on top right before they are ready to pop in the oven. So if you haven't started your holiday cookie baking yet, give this recipe a try. The cookie itself simply melts in your mouth. This batch was made with lavender sugar that I made earlier this Autumn after havesting the lavender beds, but anise sugar or plain ole sugar will surely do. One of the great things, in addition to the buttery flavor is the fact that these cookies travel beautifully! I ship oodles of them across the country with no breakage. Now how many sugar cookies can you say that about?

The Best Christmas Sugar Cookie

Cream together:

1 cup real butter
1 cup vegetable oil (yes, you read it right..veggie oil, a whole cup)
1 cup lavender sugar , or plain
2 eggs

In a separate bowl mix:

4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla or lemon, or any extract of choice

Add the flour mixture to the creamed portion slowly, mixing well. You can now either roll them into small balls or drop by teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Touch your thumb to forefinger--see that circle? Make the dough balls no larger than that. Flatten with a decorative press or with a glass (either one, dipped in sugar). I like to sprinkle a titch more of sugar on top too! Bake 10-12 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Louisa's Lemon Cake Pudding

A few weeks back I posted my limoncello recipe on a sister blog and my friend Louise over at Months of Edible Celebrations commented with a recipe she thought I might enjoy. I'm pretty fond of lemon anything, so I was pretty happy to receive this recipe thinking I would get to making it right away. But these past weeks have been my busiest time of the year, and now that all my farmers markets and holiday shows have ended for the year I jumped right on the chance to try this one before I begin my Christmas baking project for the Elders.

I have to say, it wasn't like anything I've eaten before. The sensation of a lemony crusted topping blended with the custard was heavenly in my palate. Similar to a lemon curd, but much much lighter. I'm attributing this to the addition of the peaked egg whites. Preparation and assembly, simply a breeze, and we absolutely enjoyed every bit of it last night for dessert. The only changes I made to the recipe was the addition of some lemon zest to the pudding and dusted the tops with confectionary after they had cooled, and in my oven it needed to bake 10 minutes more to give it that golden crust. I hope you'll give it a try, especially if you are a lemon lover like me. Thanks so much again for your recipe Louise, it was just awesome and will be made often here!

Louise wrote...

I did a post on the invention of the lemon squeezer a while back and included a recipe I think you will find curious. it’s called Lemon Cake Top Pudding. The recipe says it will form a cake top with a layer of custard below. I plan on trying someday.(Hopefully:)

Lemon Cake Top Pudding
(I changed the name.. hey, this is an Italian blog :+)

2 tbs. flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbs. butter
2 egg yolks beaten
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup milk

Cream flour, sugar and butter. Add egg yolks, lemon juice, and milk. Fold in 2 egg whites stiffly beaten. Bake in 8 inch pudding dish or individual custard cups (not buttered), set in a pan of warm water. {I used six custard cups}. Bake 35 minutes in 350 degree oven. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ratatouille Crepes

With the holidays just around the corner and so many delicious and tempting foods to try, we seem to just throw calories to the wind this time of year. At least in our house we do. This is one of my favorite recipes. Almost no fat, a delicious explosion of flavors, and light, but unique enough to serve to company. And then you can serve them all those rich temptations for dessert:)

In the morning, before I head to work, I make the crepe batter and chop the ingredients for the Ratatouille and cook. Then I make my marinara sauce. While the sauce cooks, make the crepes. With a little multi-tasking, it's not too time consuming...and well worth the effort.

Ratatouille Crepes
adapted from a recipe in Cooking Light

1 large eggplant chopped
2 medium zucchini chopped
4 roma plum tomatoes chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
3 shallots chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 TBS chopped fresh basil
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 450

To prepare filling:

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper
Toss it around to coat

Spread vegetable mixture in an even layer on cookie pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt, and just a drizzle of olive oil.

Bake at 450 for 35 minutes stirring half way through.

Transfer vegetable mixture to bowl to cool. Stir in basil & parsley.

Mix in 3 TBS Marinara Sauce


2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh basil, minced
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced

In a food processor, blend ingredients for 10 seconds. . Cover and refrigerate the batter in the refrigerator for one hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep up to 48 hours refrigerated.

Heat a crepe pan or small non-stick pan, lightly coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Gently whisk the batter. Lift the pan from the heat and pour in 1/8 cup of batter, tilting and rotating the pan to coat the bottom surface. Cook for 30-40 seconds and lightly browned on edges. Loosen the edges with a spatula and flip the crepe over, then cook the other side another 15 seconds. Turn the crepe onto a tea towel and cover with parchment paper, until cool and ready to fill. Repeat with remaining batter, laying them all out so they can cool. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator or freeze them for up to two months. If freezing, I like to place a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper between each crepe until I'm ready to thaw them out. Once thawed, gently peel apart.

To Assemble:

Spoon 3 TBS of Ratatouille in center of each crepe. Fold sides over to overlap. Place seam side down in a baking dish. Top with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese if desired. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Serve with farro and edamame, garden salad and some leftover meatballs. Enjoy!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Food for thought

As we approach the holiday season... some food for thought.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Comfort Food-- Macaroni & Cheese

I love Macaroni and Cheese-- It's classic, simple and delicious! Sure, every cook has their favorite recipe. My Mom's Friday nite standard was made with Velveeta and tomatoes. Today, I can't believe I use to look forward to that meal.. and forget the blue boxed deal. Kraft may sell a million plus boxes of their macaroni and cheese daily--heck, why not? Aside from it's affordability and quick prep time-- I'll pass on this one too.

Everyone knows Martha has a serious following for her famous dish, and though it's tasty.. I still prefer my own. I don't make this one often, but savor every bite when I do. It's rich, creamy, cheesy and simply delicious. With the chillier days arriving, for me, a hot serving of macaroni and cheese with mushrooms, herbs and a crispy crumb top is my idea of comfort food.

Macaroni & Cheese

2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 TBLS olive oil
4 TBLS unsalted butter
2 TBLS white wine
3-4 TBLS flour
2 1/2 cups milk
3 oz fontina cheese, grated
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3 oz parmigiano reggiano
3 tsp total minced thyme, rosemary & sage
panko crumbs
penne pasta
sea salt & ground pepper

While you cook your pasta, preheat the oven to 375F. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain it, but reserve a half cup of the cooking water and set aside. In a separate saucepan, add olive oil. Saute mushrooms until just browned.Add white wine and cook down until the mushrooms are beginning to carmelize. Season with sea salt and ground pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

Making the cheese sauce:

Add butter to a medium-sized sauce pan. Once melted, on low heat slowly whisk in the flour to make a roux. Whisk until all the flour is dissolved in the butter. Don't scorch this. Begin pouring in the milk while whisking continuously so there will be no lumps. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens a bit. If the sauce is too thick {it should be pourable} add the reserved pasta liquid an ounce at a time to thin. Add to the sauce all the cheeses and herbs. Stir continuously until cheese has all melted. Take the sauteed mushrooms and add these to the sauce pan. Blend well.

In a large bowl tossed the cooked penne with the cheese sauce. Season to taste and pour the macaroni and cheese into a vegetable sprayed baking dish. Sprinkle top with crushed panko crumbs and a bit more parmigiano. Bake uncovered 35 minutes or until lightly browned on top and bubbly. Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Moms Fig Jam

I just love, like, enjoy many things in this life but there's one thing that I live for--the fig. I simply adore them. So when I spotted them at the market, I just had to grab a few boxes. My Mom was passionate about making her fig squares, an old New England recipe passed down to her from my grandmother that I have to admit, were the best I've ever eaten. I could always tell we were going to have a tray of warm fig squares as soon as I came into the room and smelled her jam simmering on the stove.

I also want to make some fig cookies for the holidays that I've never tried before, an apple, pomagranate and fig galette recipe that's been sitting on my recipe box for weeks now, and a recipe I saved that fellow blogger Linda of Ciao Chow Linda's posted a few weeks back for her fig frangipane tart.. as I'm a pushover for frangipane and hers looks too tempting not to try. I love topping my apple tarts with a glaze of figs.

Are you seeing a pattern here? Before I can make any of these wonderful recipes I needed to make some fig jam. My Mom always added a bit of chopped dates to her fig jam, but I omit them from mine. She also never added any brandy to her recipe, but I added some homemade Beach Plum brandy to mine. The recipe gave me four pint jars with just a little berry sized bowlful that I drizzled warmly over vanilla ice cream and dove in. Yum!

Fig Jam -- adapted from my Mom

4 cups diced figs, stems removed
zest of one orange
1 orange, peeled and diced small
1/4 - 1/2 cup water--enough to just cover cut figs
2 cups sugar
3 TBLS lemon juice
3 TBLS Beach Plum brandy *optional
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 package Certo Sure-Jell liquid fruit pectin

Wash and trim figs and cut into bite sized pieces. Pour in the sugar and orange zest and toss well In a large pan add figs,orange pieces, lemon juice and just enough water to cover fig mixture. Bring this to a boil a few minutes and stir well until figs begin to soften. I like my figs chunky, so I don't mash them as they cook down. Add spices, brandy.. stir well and add fruit pectin. Allow it to gently boil 3-4 more minutes and ladle into prepared canning jars. Cover and water bath process 15 minutes if you are planning to store this jam. This recipe may easily reduced by half and eaten within three days,{though it would never last that long around here :)} refrigerator stored, if not processing. Then use your imagination on how you plan to use this delicious jam. Enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Perfect Tea & Scones

I have to admit, I was really impressed with a new tea maker I purchased recently. I just love loose tea and I've tried so many systems over the years, but never found one that was just right for me. They advertised.. 'the perfect cup of tea' and they didn't exagerate one little bit. Teavana's Perfect Tea Maker has made brewing that perfect cup of tea a breeze. Mix up your favorite herbs, or tea leave blends in this handy little unit, pour boiling water in and allow it to steep. Then simply set the unit over your teacup or mug and watch it filter through the bottom. Presto..the perfect cup of tea.

What goes better with a nice hot cup of tea than scones. As I finished up my work in the gardens yesterday I was happy that I had made a batch of my favorites earlier in the day. I can't understand why more folks don't make these delicious morsels. Scones are a breeze to make and you can add any fruits, nuts or favorite chocolates you like to them. I made two batches.. Raspberry & Chocolate bits that went into the freezer and my favorite.. Blueberry & Peach. This recipe makes eight good sized scones. This is a basic recipe, so feel free to experiment with your own fruit selections. White chocolate bits with dried apricots, Apple, cranberry & granola are pretty tempting too. Make some in the morning and see what I mean. You'll be hooked on scones too. Enjoy!

Blueberry Peach Scones

In a large bowl mix:

2 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup baking powder

Cut into flour mixture until crumbly:

4 1/2 oz butter (by weight)

***Note: If you are adding fruit, nuts, chocolate etc, do so, before adding the wet portion. For this size recipe: Add two cups total and gently incorporate.

1 cup frozen bluebrries
1 cup frozen peach slices, chopped

Add to the dry mix with a fork until incorporated:

1 cup buttermilk

Knead very gently to form a large ball in your bowl. Transfer to a floured surface and pat or lightly roll a 9" circle, 1 1/2 inches high with the dough. Cut the round into eight wedges. Egg wash the tops and sprinkle with sugar. Alternate slices and place on a parchment lined sheetpan. Bake in 375 degree oven until golden brown.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Roasted Butternut & fennel risotto

Do you have a favorite risotto? As many of my readers must know by now, I just adore risotto, and as I make it often wondered if any of you have a favorite risotto dish?

This week I harvested the remaining fennel, shallots and butternut squash from the gardens to hopefully winter over, so for dinner tonite it was roasted butternut risotto for us. But if I had to chose my favorite, I'd have to say wild mushroom is right up there for me. My good friend, Celia recently sent me a new cookbook, Risotto and I'm anxious to try the savory scallop & fennel and saffron-marsala recipes, and the tiramisu risotto recipe has really piqued my interest, along with over one hundred other delicious risotto's found in it. Thank you again so much Celia. You couldn't have chosen a better gift!

Roasted Butternut Risotto
You can try more of my favorite risotto recipes here.

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cut into cubes
1/2 small fennel bulb,finely sliced
3 TBLS olive oil
2 TBLS unsalted butter
1/4 cup shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt, white pepper
fresh savory, parsley & sage, minced
2 cups arborio rice
6 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup Pinot Grigio
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the squash and fennel on a baking sheet and toss with a tablesppon of olive oil. Season with sea salt, white pepper & herbs of choice. Roast uncovered for about 35 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with foil and set aside.

Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, then turn off and cover to keep it warm.

Melt butter, and gently saute the garlic and shallots until softened 5 or 6 minutes. Add the rice, coating it well and stir until it turns opaque about 2 minutes. You don't want the rice to brown. Now add the wine and cook gently until it has been absorbed. Add the warming broth, simmering the pot, ladle by ladle,until you've used all the stock and the rice is thick, creamy and tender, about 20 minutes or so. Now add the roasted butternut squash and fennel pieces to the cooked risotto. Remove from heat and stir in grated parmesan cheese and serve. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mussels Provencale

It doesn't take much time or effort to prepare this deliciously affordable dish. I cleaned out the garden this week, peppers, onions, the last of the roma tomatoes.. a few handfuls of parsley along with some fresh thyme. Cooking mussels a snap--all you need to do is scrub them well and remove any of the small beard that may be found on some. Toss them in your pot along with the other ingredients and cook for 5-8 minutes. Serve with lots of crusty bread to scoop up the delicious juices!

2 lbs fresh mussels-- washed, & debearded
2 TBLS olive oil
2 shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
1 small onion, diced
1 sweet pepper, diced
1 cup diced roma tomatoes
2 TBLS unsalted butter
1 handful flatleaf parsley, chopped
2 tsps fresh thyme

In 2 TBLS olive oil saute shallots,and garlic until garlic is lightly browned. Add peppers and cook for just a minute more. Toss in the mussels, wine, water, onion, and tomatoes. Cover pan and bring to a light boil. Lower heat, simmering 3 minutes more or until all the mussels have opened. Discard any that do not open. Stir gently and add unsalted butter and fresh herbs a minute or so before serving. Ladle mussels into shallow bowls with plenty of juice and serve with very crusty bread. Enjoy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pepper & Basil Pizza Margarita

Make your own pizza dough with a simple marinara sauce, mozzarella, garden fresh peppers and fresh basil leaves. I finally harvested the remaining 40 peppers growing in my hoop house. So we decided to make some grilled fennel sausage with peppers and onions and a basil dough pizza.

Pizza Dough:

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tsp minced fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon salt

Marinara Sauce:


mozzarella cheese
grated pecorino cheese
sliced green peppers
fresh basil leaves
olive oil
sea salt and white pepper

Add 1 tablespoon of yeast to warm water and sugar, stir. Let sit for 7 minutes until it just begins to bubble. Pour into mixing bowl, add olive oil and basil leaves. Blending on medium speed, mix in one cup of flour at a time with salt until it forms into a ball. Dust a cutting board with flour and knead dough for 8 minutes. Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil, transfer dough and cover with Saran wrap and a small towel on top. Let rise in a warm area for 1 1/2 hours.

When dough becomes 2-3 times it's original size, spread onto floured board knead a little and cut into 2 pieces. Form into round disks. Whenever I make pizza dough, I toss one of the rounds into the freezer for a quickie dinner another time. Roll out the dough to 10 inches and place on pizza sheet pan. Drizzle over a bit of olive oil, then add marinara sauce, sliced peppers, fresh whole basil leaves, pecorino cheese, and top with mozzarella cheese. Shake your favorite herb blend -- I use oregano, thyme, savory & basil , a bit of sea salt & white pepper and bake in a 450 degree oven till the top is crispy and the mozzarella cheese is bubbly. Slice and just dig in. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sunday Dessert, Pumpkin Cannoli

Do you know what started with a line of jams on a card table at a New England farmers' market? And that today, it has grown to be a giant in the fancy food market, producing more that 170 types of preserves and condiments, and... it's a shoppe that I frequent often. In our neighboring town of York, Maine you will find the headquarters and processing center of Stonewall Kitchen.

You've probably seen their smartly labeled jars of gourmet chutneys, jams, jellies, salsas, and sauces in specialty stores near you. The company's attractive complex houses the company store, a bustling café and take-out restaurant, a viewing area of the cooking and bottling processes, and stunning gardens. Café tables are set outside and the store is brimming with wares that would make Martha Stewart proud. You may sample all the mustards, salsas, and dressings that you can stand, or have lunch at the café. They now even offer cooking classes with some splendid recipe offerings with local top notch chefs.

I stopped in last week to fill my basket. With the chilly weather finally upon us I was drawn to their delicious Maple Pumpkin Butter. This creamy, flavorful topping is delcious served warm and drizzled over ice cream, muffins or crisp apple pie. I wasn't sure what I would prepare with it just yet, but tossed two jars into my basket. Two other faves of mine are their Hot Pepper Jelly and for everyone that enjoys a Sunday favorite brunch cocktail, some Mimosa Jam. Simply scrumptious!! All in all, a fun shopping day.

So this weekend, I just had that hankering for a roast pork dinner, with roast potatoes, red cabbage and homemade applesauce. With my busy schedule I usually don't have much time to prepare larger meals during the week.. but when it comes to Sundays, it's a must around here. I just love Sunday dinners. Along with the meal itself, I usually will make a dessert of sorts as well. After rifling through my cupboards I spotted the two jars of pumpkin butter I had purchased the week before.

The decision was made.. cannoli's for dessert! I typically prefer custard filled cannoli's, both the chocolate and vanilla custard instead of the traditional ricotta cheese filled cannoli's, but as I had a tub of fresh ricotta in the refrigerator I decided to attempt a pumpkin, ricotta, mascarpone filled cannoli. The result.. a very uniquely flavored, dessert treat, with just a sprinkling of crushed pecans and a dusting of powdered sugar.

I made ten of them and they were so good that I was forced to deliver five over to our neighbors or pay the piper when I jumped on the scale come Monday morning. :)

You may buy pre-made shells in your local bakery or make your own. Here's how I make mine:

Cannoli shells

1 1/2 cups flour
1 TBLS sugar
5 tsp vegetable shortening
1 whole egg, plus yolk of second egg (reserve white of second egg)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sweet marsala or white wine
vegetable oil -for frying

Place all the cannoli ingredients except the flour and reserved egg white in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Slowly add the flour and knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Form dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Divide the dough into quarters and roll out on surface dusted with flour. Roll the dough a little thicker than paper-thin and cut into four inch squares. Lightly oil cannoli tubes. Lightly beat egg white, then brush bottom edge of 1 dough round with egg white. Place a point of a square on the middle of an aluminum cannoli tube and wrap dough around until the ends meet. Dampen the ends of dough with reserved egg white and seal.
Fry the shells in 2 inches of vegetable oil until lightly browned. I fry two at a time. Remove onced browned. Slide the cooked shells off the tubes while hot( if you let them cool down they will stick to the tubes and break apart) and set on paper toweled lined plate to drain and cool. Cool tubes and re-oil them.. Wrap remaining dough squares around tubes and fry in same manner.

Pumpkin Filling

Make filling while dough stands:

1 cup well drained ricotta
1/2 cup mascarpone
1/2 cup organic canned pumpkin puree
4 oz. Stonewall Kitchen Maple Pumpkin Butter
2 oz confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
chopped pecans

Beat all ingredients together until thickened. Scrape filling into a pastry bag and set aside in refrigerator. Just before serving, pipe into your prepared cannoli shells. Sprinkle on the chopped pecans and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tomato Raisin Chutney

Looking for another recipe for that excess of garden tomatoes? A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for my end of the season corn salsa and received a number of requests for another dish I make annually.. tomato raisin chutney. This recipe has been a staple in my holiday gift baskets for years! I hope you'll enjoy it equally as much. The recipe can be easily doubled. At the end of the growing season and after all my roasted tomatoes and Grandma's piccallili have been made, this fresh tomato raisin chutney has always been a favorite. It's a great compliment to many dishes..but we like it with fish dishes as well as pork. A friend also told me she emulsifies this chutney and uses it as a basting glaze for her chicken dishes as well. However you decide to serve it, it's always a hit around here!

Tomato Raisin Chutney

1 TBLS vegetable oil
3 cups chopped onion
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
8-10 medium garden tomatoes. diced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cups golden raisins
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onions until almost brown. Add fennel seeds and coriander seeds and cook for 2-4 minutes. Add tomatoes, vinegar, and sugar. Simmer on low for 1 hour. Blend lightly and leave a bit chunky. Stir in sea salt, raisins and walnuts. Let cool and refrigerate or can and process. This recipe will keep up to three weeks refrigerated. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Beer-battered cod

Years ago I snipped a newspaper clipped recipe for beer battered onion rings as I wanted to try making those 'blooming onions' that were so popular back then. Well my onions turned out just awful and soggy :( Not exactly the way I had wished for.
So I held on to the recipe to try again and then just never did.

But when a good friend brought me some fresh caught cod I dug out my clipping to give it another try, so I fried up some fluffy beer-battered cod. It's just such an easy recipe and you can easily use it for fish, shrimp or if you are a master onion ring maker, unlike myself ..even them. I still can't figure out what I did wrong? This isn't the healthiest of options for preparing fish, but I had not made fried fish in eons.. it was just time. I served it with my roasted red pepper remoulade.

Beer Battered Cod

8 TBLS flour
2 eggs, separated
2 TBLS olive oil
8 TBLS flat beer, at room temperature - I used Corona
Sea salt, white pepper to taste
1 1/2 lbs cod, halibut or any white fish cut into 2 inch pieces
2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp paprika
Vegetable oil for frying
Fresh lemons

Put the flour in a large bowl and whisk in the olive oil and egg yolk. Gradually whisk in the flattened beer to make a smooth batter. Season with sea salt. Allow to stand for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in another bowl toss the cut fish pieces, coriander, pepper, paprika and refrigerate until the batter is ready.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or paper towels.

In a deep skillet over medium high heat, pour vegetable oil to 2 inches.

Now whisk the egg whites in a small bowl until stiff, but still moist and fold it into the batter. Working in small batches and not overcrowding the pan, dip the fish into batter and fry until golden brown all over, about 3 minutes. Transfer the fish to prepared baking sheet and into the oven to keep it hot until serving time. Serve with lemon slices, tartar sauce or red pepper remoulade... a good Italian Pinot Grigio or an ice cold bottle of beer. Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade

1 jar roasted red peppers, drained
½ cup mayonnaise
2 TBLS lemon juice
¼ cup sweet relish
1 TBLS worchestershire sauce
1 TBLS Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves
Toss it all into your food processor along with a bit of tobasco, fresh chopped parsley, a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar, sea salt & ground pepper. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

End of the season corn salsa

We squeaked by hurricane Bill with little damage to the gardens, but then Dan moved in the following week and raised havoc! With pounding winds and heavy rains twenty four rows of corn knocked down like bowling pins with ears ready to be picked :( Hundreds of sunflowers and pole beans uprooted. With the help of friends we managed to get most of it harvested. So to celebrate the days' hard work, we had a very impromto cookout and everyone brought a different dish. With nearly a bushel of tomatoes and my new fallen corn I decided to make some fresh tomato and corn salsa to serve along with roasted corn on the cob and a tomato raisin chutney that's always a hit around here.

Tomato Corn Salsa

2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cup fresh corn kernals (cobs previously steamed a few minutes)
1/4 cup scallions
1/2 cup red onions, diced fine
1/2 jar hearts of palm, rinsed & chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp hot pepper sauce (I like to toss in a couple of minced jalapenos)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
sea salt, white pepper to taste
black beans **opt

After you've steamed corn and allowed it to cool completely, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Blend together well, cover and chill. Serve with white corn tortilla chips, or try some of these 'Scoops' that hungry crowds enjoy salsas with. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Roasted Red Onion with Green Beans

Trying to use up all those beans in your garden? Here's a flavorful alternative to boil and butter beans that may be served warm or cold.
At my Nonna's summer table this dish was served in her biggest serving bowl with plenty of pecorino.

Uncle Gus's Roasted Red Onion & Romano Beans

2 1/2 lbs medium red onions (about 5)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 TBLS balsamic vinegar (I used white balsamic)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 cup water
2 lbs romano green beans or any green bean in your garden-trim & cut into 2-inch pieces
8 thinly sliced pieces of prociutto
rosemary, thyme, summer savory, basil and oregano

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse, peel and trim root ends of onions..leaving onions whole. Then quarter onions lengthwise making generous 1/2 inch slices.
Oil a 13 x 9 sheet pan. Put onions in pan, then drizzle with olive oil, vinegar, tossing to coat them. Lay prociutto slices over onions. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs seasonings.

Roast uncovered about 30 minutes, turning over once mid cooking and baste. Remove prociutto, set aside on paper toweling, cool and roughly crumble (like bacon). Add water to the pan and continue to roast the onions another 15 minutes. When onions are tender transfer to a large bowl along with pan juices.

While the onions are roasting, cook beans in a boiling pot of salted water uncovered until just crisp-tender, about 6-8 minutes. Drain beans in a colander, then add to onions, sprinkle with prociutto pieces and toss well. Season with a bit of salt and ground pepper and serve. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Homemade Blueberry Ice Cream

After a long hot market day we headed for the garden to pick pick pick. It’s astounding how quickly everything is growing. I’d been munching most of the day, as it was Salsa Saturday, so I was sampling and loving every bite.

When suppertime rolled around all I wanted was a simple salad of fresh picked greens with a light basil dressing.

For dessert I had planned to make lemoncello sorbet to christen my new ice cream maker. But then the doorbell rang, and in came my elder neighbors carrying four pounds of just picked blueberries! Now I just love blueberries, although I prefer our wild blueberries with their tangy bite to them, but these were awfully good looking high bush berries..just too darn fat and juicy to put into the freezer… unless of course I changed plans and make blueberry ice cream instead. We have a wonderful old fashioned ice cream shoppe nearby, The Scoop Deck that offers seventy some odd flavors of iced desserts..and where scores of people line up on steamy nights like we've been having to select their favorites. My fave? Their wild blueberry is absolutely the best, so I was hoping to get remotely close in flavor as the one I enjoy most. After searching through my new machine’s manual, my cookbooks, and the internet I decided on this.

Homemade Blueberry Ice Cream

3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp extract of vanilla
1/4 tsp ground coriander
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water

Warm sugar in 1/2 cup water in a medium sauce pan over low heat until sugar is completely dissolved.
When sugar is dissolved, add the berries, extract, coriander, lemon juice and salt.
Cook over low-medium heat until the berries begin to burst open, stirring occasionally. Once they burst, remove from heat and mash lightly. Allow to cool down and then chill in refrigerator an hour.
Whip cream with milk in a blender. Transfer into ice cream maker. Add blueberry mixture to the cream mixture and follow manufacturer's directions.

The machine was a breeze to use and my first ice cream turned out really great.. with a nice creamy consistency until I froze the leftover quart, when it became hard ice cream scoopable, but very flavorful. This week our fresh peaches will come to market and I’m anxious to try those as well. Our neighbors were thrilled with the fresh homemade ice cream we delivered over to them and said if I keep it up, I might just give the Scoop Deck a run for their money. :-) Stay cool!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Marianne's Cabbage Rolls--Galompki

With the garden overflowing with veggies just needing to be picked, in addition to beans beans beans and squash squash squash, I have abundant cabbages that were planted so I could make my winter cabbage soup. But as all the rains we have been having these past weeks have slowed down tomato production I needed to use these huge heads up. I have a good gardening friend who’s always raving about his wife’s stuffed cabbage dish. So one day I asked him if she would share it with me and she graciously did! Thanks so much Marianne for the recipe.. they turned out super and were just delicious!

Marianne’s Cabbage Rolls -- Galombki

1.5 pounds ground meats – beef-pork-veal if you like
1 cup cooked long grain white rice—I didn’t cook my rice
1 large onion, chopped fine
3 TBLS parsley, chopped
¾ cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
sea salt and pepper to taste

Cabbage and sauce:
1 large head of cabbage
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
3 cans tomato soup

For the cabbage:

”Cook cabbage until it’s semi-soft. When cooked-peel the leaves.” Instead of boiling the cabbage, I rinsed the cabbage off in cold water, put in a dish with just a bit of water, covered with plastic wrap and popped it into the microwave for about 10 minutes. The leaves peeled off perfectly.

For the stuffing:

Brown meat with onions , drain off oils and allow to cool. Add rice, parsley, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper. Mix together and then add 2 eggs and mix very well. You will be making small oval meatballs to wrap in the cooked cabbage leaves.

For the sauce:
Combine the crushed tomatoes and soup together and ladle out enough to cover the bottom of casserole dish


Separate the cabbage leaves and set aside. Take any leftover leaves, and coarsely chop and place at the bottom of the pan. Take a leaf and lay on a surface with the rib end facing you. Place about 2 TBLS rolled into oval meatballs of filling within the little cup that the leaf forms (amount will differ based on size of leaf). Fold the left and right sides over the filling and roll the remainder up over itself, placing in the pot seam-side down. Repeat until all filling and or cabbage is used up. Put all the cabbage rolls in baking dish and cover with remaining sauce mix. Cover with foil and bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. I was so busy sampling and readying dinner I forgot to take a photo of the finished dish! But trust me, they were just yummy!

I hadn’t made stuffed cabbage in many years and recall cooking mine on stove top for hours on end. I much preferred baking these in the oven. Next time I make them I will add a bit of water to the sauce, as I think mine was a bit thick. These cabbage rolls were fantastic and so flavorful! I froze half of them, but know they won’t last long around here :-) Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Memories.. Stuffed clams

Recapturing a childhood memory is nearly impossible for some. My summer memory: Heading to the clam flats with my Dad to dig clams . I use to go clamming everyday with my Dad when the clam flats were approaching low tide. Bare feet and legs, a hat, a clam rake and a couple of buckets were all the gear we needed to take along. In those days we dug by the bushel or peck for fresh clams, unlike today where you buy clams by the pound and pay a tons for the shells! The clam flats were always plentiful and in under an hour we could easily have our bushel bucket filled to the brim. Back in those days soft shell, littlenecks or cherrystones, quahogs and razors were everywhere in the channels and I just loved digging alongside Dad. When searching for littlenecks, you’d feel for the clams with your feet and dig them out with your fork. If you get clams that are close to three inches, these are littlenecks and just plain scrumptious! They are the smallest and most flavorful hardshell clam.. a little salty, but what do you expect coming right out of the ocean, and slightly chewy and are the clam of choice for most clam recipes. You could use them for stuffed and clams casino too. Any bigger than that, and the clams are called quahogs. Grind them up or chop finely and they make a great clam chowder.

But mostly I remember how much fun, though tiring work it was , we had digging and horsing around… and besides, there is something thrilling about eating clams this fresh from the ocean just an hour ago :-) Some days my Nonna would have us kids pull for periwinkles that she would transform into a luscious spaghetti sauce. Other days, we steamed the clams, or baked them or stuffed them with delicious fillings. My Dad just loved stuffed clams and his were the best I’ve ever eaten and so everytime I make my seafood chowder and stuffed clams warm remembrances and the fondest of memories swirl around in my head. If you don’t live near the ocean as we do, you can buy fresh in your market. Normally you would just steam the clams in water after rinsing them off well, but Dad always like to steam them with a bit of wine and fresh herbs instead.

Dad’s Stuffed Clams Recipe

2 dozen littleneck clams
4 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons butter
3 TBLS olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 slices of prosciutto, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dry basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
4 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoon dry white wine
ground black pepper
lemon wedges

Place the clams and two inches water or wine in a pan, cover and steam until clams open. Remember to discard any clams that didn’t open. Reserve the liquid, remove the clams from the shells and chop finely. Set aside. Wash the shells and place in shallow baking pan. Melt butter and olive oil in a skillet and saute the shallots and garlic until just tender. Add the bread crumbs, prosciutto, celery, parsley, basil, oregano, cheese, wine and pepper. Mix well. Stir in enough of reserved liquid to moisten crumbs but do not make mix soggy. Distribute chopped clams among the shells, top with bread crumb mixture . Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes and then broil until browned. Serve alone or with a good squeeze of fresh lemon wedge and a piping hot bowl of seafood chowder. Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer squash..Cousa

Can you tell it's finally stopped raining? Now that the sun has decided to shine for a change we have an abundance of squash! We gardeners' are just never happy :)
As if we didn't have enough of an explosive crop of of summer, zucchini, and pattypan
squash.. now we have a plethora of cousa!

Cousa is one of my favorite squashes of summer. It's a Lebanese zucchini that's traditionally stuffed with seasoned meat and rice. You can easily use the same preparation guideline for any summer squash, but it's even better with the real deal-- a gorgeous squash, light green in color with a slight nutty flavor to it and a bit chubbier in shape than typically zucchini. Try some in your garden..they are prolific growers! I'm afraid I got carried away this year and planted a dozen plants! We'll have enough cousa until Thanksgiving :) I usually stuff my cousa, but you can use it in any squash dish you like to prepare.


To make stuffed cousa:

1 lb ground lamb or ground hamburg (or combine the two)
4 medium sized cousa- pulp & seeds removed and chopped into bite sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 shallots, minced
olive oil to sautee
1 cup long grained rice,uncooked
3 fresh tomatoes, chopped fine & briefly pulsed in processor
1 handful of freshly chopped mint about 1/2 cup, chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
sea salt, white pepper, sumac pepper to taste
3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out pulp and seed with a spoon and chop into bite size pieces, then set aside. Saute in olive oil ground meat, shallots, garlic and squash pulp until squash is just tender and meat just about browned. Once cooked, add rice along with a little bit of the tomato to hold all it together and give it some texture. Add seasoning and mint and mix all together well. Line a baking pan with the emptied cousa squash shells and begin to stuff them with the meat/rice/tomato mixture. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and a drizzle of more tomato sauce. Pour vegetable stock around each stuffed squash to come up to about half way up the squash in baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Grilled shrimp with mango

Mad about mangos? I am nuts about mangos. They are one of my favorites right up there with pineapples and most fruits for that matter. Such an exceptional fruit and so versatile--both for its fragrance, taste and visual appeal. It's no surprise with over 100 varieties to choose from, mango is one of the most popular fruits in the world.

Just to tell you how my mind works, whenever I see a recipe that calls for nectarines or peaches my mind is already in overdrive thinking of substituting mango instead! Why even the name, mango makes me just want to eat them.

Mango just pairs so well with seafood, poultry --a marvelous salsa addition and even added to a delicious summer fruit smoothie! DO try experimenting with this luscious fruit. This weekend I am trying a strawberry mango cheesecake to bring along to a cookout. See what I mean? They are addicting. :)

We finally got a short break in the weather this week and I decided to make my shrimp with mango on the grill. I'll usually have a bag of shrimp in the freezer and love the ease of this recipe and that if I have pop-in company, it's one that can be put together quickly and just turns out great everytime.

1 lb shrimp (2 for serious shrimp lovers like us) peeled and deveined
4 TBLS olive oil
3 tsp fresh ginger, minced well
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
zest of two limes
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
juice of one orange
1/4 tsp tobasco sauce
white pepper & just a pinch of salt
3 TBLS minced cilantro
3 TBLS fresh parsley, minced
2 mangos, peeled and cubed
1 pckg wood skewers

Before you assemble the marinade, soak the wooden skewers in warm water for 15 minutes, to prevent burning. Prepare the marinade by combining all ingredients in a medium bowl. Rinse and peel and devein shrimp and place in the marinade for 20 minutes. Slice the mangos into 1 inch pieces. Now begin skewering the shrimp alternating with mango pieces. Reserve any marinade liquid for basting. Depending on the size shrimp you will use will determine how many filled skewers you'll end up with. On a heated grill or broiler, grill the shrimp for 3-4 minutes each side, basting with reserved marinade liquid on each turn. That's all there is to it!
I served this with jasmine rice and my favorite avocado mango salsa with plenty of cilantro.

Oh! And if you haven't already had enough mango, for a light dessert, serve your guests some luscious strawberry mango smoothies! After all you should have a few more leftover mangos sitting out on your counter :-)

Toss in a blender: 1 peeled and cubed mango, 10-12 hulled strawberries, 1 peeled nectarine, 1/2 cup soy milk, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 3 tsp wildflower honey, 6-8 ice cubes. Give it a whirl for 20 seconds and top with sprinkled homemade granola. Yum!

Enjoy! Let the fireworks displays begin. I hope everyone has a great 4th of July celebration.