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Lemony Chickpea (Garbanzo), Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad

Okay Cousin Bonnie, here is the salad recipe you asked for…it was yummy!

 

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Lemony Chickpea, Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad

Recipe by Michela Chiappa from Michela’s Tuscan Kitchen

Ingredients –

600g ripe tomatoes (I just drained a can of diced tomatoes)

 1 small bunch fresh basil

 extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

small handful walnuts

½ jar good quality chickpeas (about 300g)

pinch of dried cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 lemon

2 good handfuls of arugula

1 small round of crumbly, soft goat’s cheese

 

  1. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to a serving bowl. Rip in most if the basil leaves, keep the baby leaves to one side. Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and season with black pepper and salt.
  2. Place a small frying pan on a low heat, add the walnut halves and cook for 5 minutes until toasted and smelling delicious. When ready tip into a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, drain and the chickpeas. Add the cumin, oregano, lemon zest and half the juice and a drizzle of oil. Toss together with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add the chickpeas to the tomatoes and toss together. Add the arugula and crumble over the goat’s cheese and walnuts.
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Roasted Parmesan Garlic Shrimp

Always looking for a great appetizer and this one surely qualifies. In the case of both the oregano and basil I would use fresh in place of the dried. If you are ever caught with cocktail sauce, a simple recipe blends 1/2 cup ketchup + 2 Tablespoons horseradish!

Roasted Parmesan Garlic Shrimp (http://inspiredbycharm.com)

1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (I prefer fresh)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (I prefer fresh)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Parsley leaves, chopped for garnish
Cocktail sauce (optional)

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with oil or nonstick spray.

Place the shrimp in a single layer on the baking. Evenly distribute the olive oil, parmesan, garlic, oregano, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss together with a spoon or your hands.

Place the pan of shrimp in the oven and roast the shrimp until just pink, firm, and cooked through. This should take 7-9 minutes. When done, sprinkle with lemon juice.

Reef Spaghetti (also known as Scoglio)

One of our favourite restaurants in Merida, Yucatan Il Caffe Italiano serves this wonderful seafood dish. We usually pop in after Sunday afternoon symphony. This is one wonderful dish and makes a little seafood go a long way! If you are buying fresh seafood, just purchase TWO pieces of EACH seafood PER PERSON.

Reef Spaghetti – Spaghetti allo Scoglio

Ingredients

  • fresh clams (although I used frozen and they were just fine)
  • fresh mussels (frozen is fine)
  • shrimp (frozen is fine) De-veined and tails removed!
  •  2 or 3 plum tomatoes chopped (I would use more next time)
  • bunch of parsley
  • basil
  • 1 clove of garlic OR MORE
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • spaghetti (dependent on how many people)

Preparation

If using frozen seafood, first thaw them in the refrigerator in cold salted water for  about 30 minutes. Thaw each seafood separately. Salt a pot of water for the spaghetti and set it to boil. Heat 2 T. of oil in a broad skillet with the garlic. When the garlic is browned, remove it (and eat it if you want..LOL). Add the drained clams and mussels. Cover and cook over a brisk flame, shaking the pan every now and then until the shellfish have opened. Turn off the flame and let them cool slightly. Remove empty or unopened shells. Do NOT try to open closed shells as they are already dead and eating them could make you quite sick!!!

Start to boil the spaghetti!!

In a separate deep skillet add more oil and garlic. Add the chopped tomatoes. and shredded basil leaves.Salt. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes. Stir in all of the shellfish (including the shrimp), adding some of the white wine (to your taste) Simmer another five minutes.

Transfer the drained, cooked spaghetti to your serving dish, add a little olive oil and ground pepper. Toss and then stir in the sauce with the seafood. Serve with some crusty bread to soak up the sauce…and don not forget more wine…to drink, of course!!

Avocado Pasta

2 ripe avocados peeled
1/2 cup basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
2 T. Lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
Parmesan cheese

Blend avocados with basil, garlic and juice. Drizzle in oil. Set aside. Serve with spaghetti or baked spaghetti squash, adding tomatoes and cheese at last minute.
Grill chicken breasts to serve with it for protein.

Tuscan Bread and Tomato Soup (Pappa al Pomodoro)

Several years ago we were in Fiesole, just outside Florence when we stopped for lunch at a small restaurant – Perseus. The special of the day was Ribollita, traditionally made with day old bread, tomatoes and cannelloni beans. Alas, it was not very memorable as it was mostly bread.

I just came across this version which had less bread, no beans and lots of tomato-ey flavour! We thought it was awesome and certainly worth making again. Heres a view of Fiesole –

757_5714And now here is the recipe I found with a few alterations…

Tuscan Bread and Tomato Soup

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil, plus high quality finishing oil, for garnish
1 large red onion, diced
Kosher salt
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
1 cup white wine
2 pounds ripe summer tomatoes, diced (Substitute two cans of chopped tomatoes)
10 basil leaves, half whole and half cut into chiffonade
2 cups tomato juice
2 cups day-old Italian bread, crusts removed and cubed
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

Coat a large wide pot with olive oil over medium heat and add the onions. Season with salt and crushed red pepper, to taste, and cook until the onions are soft and very aromatic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Toss in the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the wine and cook until it has reduced by half. Stir in the tomatoes, season with salt, to taste, and cook until the tomatoes are really soft and juicy, about 12 to 15 minutes. Toss in the whole basil leaves.

Working in batches, carefully puree the tomatoes in a blender*. Return the tomato puree to the pot and add the tomato juice and the bread. Cook the soup over medium heat for until the bread has completely lost its shape and the soup is really thick, about 20 minutes. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning, if needed. (I usually skip this process as I like my soups chunkier, which means I just dd the bread to the pot. You decide!)

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve garnished with grated cheese, basil chiffonade and a drizzle of big fat finishing oil.

*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

Recipe courtesy Anne Burrell

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/tuscan-tomato-and-bread-soup-pappa-al-pomodoro-recipe.html?oc=linkback

Grilled Margherita Sandwiches

Happy Easter to all! Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Looking for a summery menu a week ago, I decided to make my favourite two salads, Amish Macaroni and June Vance’s Four Bean. I wasn’t in the mood for hamburgers and went searching for something a little different as a quick accompaniment. I found it in this sandwich which mimics one of my other favourite salads, Cabrese, with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and fresh basil. Just before we sat down to eat I assembled the prepared ingredients and fired up our stove top grill…the result was awesome!

Grilled Margherita Sandwiches (Adapted from CookingClub.com)
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: about 10 minutes Level: easy Makes: 4 sandwiches
• 8 (1/2-inch) slices crusty Italian bread
• 2 large garlic cloves, quartered
• 4 to 8 thin slices whole-milk mozzarella cheese (about 3 oz.) (I was tempted to use goat)
• 2 large plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
• 2 or 3 fresh basil leaves per sandwich
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic-pepper seasoning
• 1 -2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Roasted peppers (optional)
Rub both sides of each bread slice with garlic and a little extra virgin olive oil. Place 4 slices on work surface; top each with one-fourth of the cheese and half of the tomato, roasted peppers and basil. Sprinkle each with 1/8 teaspoon of the seasoning; top with remaining cheese and bread slices.
Brush tops of sandwiches with some of the oil; sprinkle with some of the seasoning. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in large skillet or on a stove-top grill over medium heat until hot.You could use a panini press I guess.

Place sandwiches, brushed-sides down, in skillet; cover and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown and cheese on bottom of sandwich begins to melt.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Brush tops of sandwiches with remaining oil; sprinkle with remaining seasoning. Turn; cover and cook 2 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted.

Homemade Shake and Bake

Ah yes, another pork chop recipe! You can’t blame me because pork is one of the best things in Mexico. I don’t buy the chops, I buy the loin and slice it to my desired thickness and then freeze what I am not going to use. Since I did not want to use the Smothered Pork Chop recipe, I decided I wanted to bake them for a change. Having no Shake and Bake, although it is available here, I searched the ‘Net for a homemade version, et voila! This recipe was very good and the Shake and Bake can be kept in a sealed jar for 1 to 2 months…good also with chicken…

Homemade Shake and Bake

3 cups bread crumbs – I used the Japanese Panko

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. dried onion flakes

3 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. cayenne I omitted this

1/2 tsp. dry parsley

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dry oregano

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until evenly mixed and the crumbs are no longer clumpy from the oil.

Dump into a Mason jar or plastic container in the pantry for 1 to 2 months.

For Pork Chops – Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Dump some of the Shake and Bake in a large Ziploc bag. Rinse the chops in cold water. Let excess water run off. Place pork chops one at a time in the bag and shake until coated. Remove the chop from the bag, shaking off excess breading. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Do the other chops. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remember, pink is good in pork these days!

For Bone-in Chicken – As above, bake for 45 minutes.

Boneless Chicken – bake 20 minutes.

Recipe from The Black Peppercorn  www.theblackpeppercorn.com

Arugula and Basil Salad

Just tried this from the LCBO Food and Drink Magazine for summer. Simple and very tasty…

Arugula & Basil Salad with Nectarine

Dressing
Juice and zest of one lime
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 tsp. Sesame oil
1/4 cup salad oil (not olive)
Salt and pepper

Salad
8 cups baby arugula
2 ripe nectarines cut into thin wedges
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves in thin strips
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Prepare dressing and let stand. Add arugula and basil. Toss with the toasted sesame seeds and nectarines.

You could likely substitute firm peaches OR mango.

Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Basil and Whitefish

Unlike in Canada, we tend to eat a lot of fish here, probably because it is so plentiful. Our favourite is, of course, Pacific salmon when we can get it, but we also enjoy many other fish fresh from the Gulf! Mostly, we purchase white fish, which has a variety of types, more common are grouper, bass, pompano and red snapper in our area.

  1. White fish is especially low in fat.
  2. White fish is rich in B vitamins.
  3. White fish is rich in selenium.
  4. White fish is a great source of iodine.
  5. White fish is high in protein.

Source: http://kathrynvercillo.hubpages.com/hub/5-Health-Benefits-of-White-Fish

Having said the above, one also has to be concerned about the source of the fish you are buying. Is it fresh caught or farm-bred? Much of the frozen tilapia is from China. Here is what one doctor had to say about that…

Farm-bred fish have been found to have high concentrations of antibiotics and pesticides – Where do farm-bred fish get their antibiotics? The crowded conditions of fish farms cause the fish to be more susceptible to disease. To keep them alive, farm owners give antibiotics to the fish to stave off disease. Farm-bred fish are also treated with pesticides to combat sea lice.2 The pesticides used to treat these fish are so deadly that they have been caused to kill wild salmon that are accidentally exposed to them. These pesticides are also eventually released in the ocean where they get into the bodies and systems of other marine life.

This is my source…

 http://draxe.com/eating-tilapia-is-worse-than-eating-bacon/

This recipe is not only easy to prepare, it is very tasty and looks so great on a plate. Food Network to the rescue with this one! I hope the preamble does not put you off! Read labels!!! Ask questions.

Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Basil and Whitefish

Total Time: 30 min Prep: 5 min Cook: 25 min   Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 dozen baby peppers in a variety of colours tops only removed – (Costco sells these by the bag here).
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 to 15 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Coarse salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn into halves and thirds 1 to 1 1/4 pounds white fleshed fish  [see note above]

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a 9 by 13-inch baking pan, combine tomatoes, peppers, oil, garlic, salt, pepper and 1/2 the basil. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, gently stir. Nestle fish in pan with tomatoes and peppers, place back in oven and continue roasting 7 to 10 minutes more or until fish is no longer translucent and tomatoes are just beginning to burst. Remove from oven. Divide fish among serving plates. Add remaining basil to tomatoes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Spoon over fish in equal portions.

 

 

 

Grilled Portobellos with Goat Cheese and Fresh Figs

Most of you know that Larry loves to experiment in the kitchen, while I am strictly a cookbook cook! A friend shared her portobellos with us the other night.

“What’s for dinner?”, he asked.

“How about basil and prosciutto pizza with goat cheese?” I replied.

“Uhm” he replied. “What about using the mushrooms?”

“Go for it!” I replied. Et voila, here is the result complete with a pic so you can see how great it looked. BTW…it was fantastic!!!

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The recipe…two per person!

Grilled Portobellos with Goat Cheese and Figs
Ingredients
4 large Portobello mushrooms
200 g package of (herbed) goat cheese
1 tsp chopped garlic
3 strips of precooked bacon or use slightly cooked prosciutto
3 Tbs of fresh basil , small pieces
Balsamic glaze
Olive oil
10 fresh figs, thinly sliced

Chinese 5 spice powder* available in most supermarkets…

Preparation
Soften the goat cheese so it is spreadable.
Prepare a ribbed grill pan, brush it with olive oil and place over medium heat. Remove stem from mushrooms, chop it finely and set aside.
Brush both sides of the mushrooms liberally with olive oil.
Cut bacon into one inch pieces onto a doubled sheet of paper towel and microwave one minute. Set aside.
Into a small fry pan, put a Tbsp. of olive oil and put over medium heat. Add the chopped mushroom stems and the garlic and fry for about 3 minutes. Turn off heat.
Place the sliced figs in a single layer in a pan large enough to accommodate them. Sprinkle water, one tablespoon at a time, enough so that the slices won’t stick to the pan and simmer them just long enough to soften the slices. Turn off heat and let sit until needed.
Place the mushrooms topside up on the grill and grill for about 5 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a microwavable plate and microwave on high for one minute. Transfer back to the grill, topside down this time. Cover the surface of each mushroom with a generous coating of cheese, place the chopped mushroom mixture, then the slices of fig over the cheese.
Then add the bacon bits, and finally the basil pieces. Sprinkle sparingly with Chinese 5 Spice powder. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. By this time the mushrooms should be cooked through….soft but not mushy. Plate and serve.