Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Italian Fruit Punch

Prep Time: 5 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 cups

A drink fit for your halloween party!


2 cups orange juice
2 cups chilled sparkling water
1/2 cup maraschino liqueur
1/4 cup limoncello
Black licorice, for garnish


Combine all the ingredients, except the licorice, in a pitcher. Stir to mix. Pour into glasses and garnish with a stalk of licorice.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs

Cook Time: 35 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 6 to 8 servings


1 tablespoon butter
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until they are very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; return the potatoes to the same pot and mash well. Mix in the milk and melted butter. Mix in the mozzarella and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish. Stir the bread crumbs and remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the mashed potatoes. Recipe can be prepared up to this point 6 hours ahead of time; cover and chill.

Bake, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Eggplant Rollatini

A recipe to convert non-eggplant eaters to eggplant lovers! :)

Cook Time: 1 h 45 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 6 servings


3 medium-sized eggplants (about 4 pounds total)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Can vegetable spray
32 ounces ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
8 tablespoons grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
20 basil leaves, chiffonaded
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 cups fresh tomato sauce, recipe follows


Preheat the grill pan and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place a rack over a large baking sheet. Cut the 2 ends off the eggplant. Cut the eggplants lengthwise, into 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange eggplant slices onto rack. Sprinkle with sea salt to help remove excess moisture and any bitterness from the eggplants. Set aside for about 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse off the salt from the eggplants and pat dry with a towel. Spray hot grill pan liberally with vegetable spray and then place eggplant slices on the grill until lightly browned on each side and tender, about 4 minutes per side. Remove slices from the grill pan and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until lightly scrambled. Mix the ricotta in with the egg. Add mozzarella, 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts and gently combine. Fold in basil just to combine. Do not overmix.

Place a tablespoon of the cheese mixture on 1 end of the eggplant and roll up tightly. Place the eggplant rollatini into a greased (with olive oil) 13 by 9-inch baking dish, seam side down. Continue with remaining eggplant. Evenly distribute the tomato sauce on top of the eggplant rollatini. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 5 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes. When cooked, drizzle the top with extra-virgin olive oil.

Simple Tomato Sauce

Yield: 6 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Ease of Preparation: Easy

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer uncovered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

Add 1/2 the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.

If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Angel Food Cake with Lemon Honey Yogurt Sauce

Cook Time: 40 min
Level: Intermediate
Yield: 12 to 16 servings



12 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus extra for garnish
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cake flour
Fresh mint sprigs


1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Special equipment: a 10-inch nonstick angel food cake pan


For the cake: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar. Using an electric hand mixer, beat on medium speed until frothy. Add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 to 4 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks, about 2 minutes longer. Sprinkle the flour over the egg white mixture. Using a spatula, carefully fold in the flour until incorporated. Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch nonstick angel food cake pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and a skewer inserted halfway between the inner and outer wall of the pan comes out clean. Invert the pan on a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.

For the sauce: In a small bowl whisk together the yogurt, honey, and lemon juice until smooth. Pour into a serving pitcher.

Using a spatula, loosen the cake around the sides and middle. Release the cake and place on a serving plate. Cut into slices and drizzle with the sauce. Garnish with lemon zest and mint sprigs.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

White Bean and Roasted Eggplant Hummus

A delightful twist of the traditional hummus made with garbanzo beans and served with pita bread.

Cook Time: 25 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 to 6 servings


1 (1 1/2-pound) eggplant or 3 Japanese eggplants, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
Olive oil, for drizzling, plus 1/3 cup
Kosher salt, for seasoning, plus 1/2 teaspoon
Freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
1 clove garlic
1 hothouse cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and place an oven rack in the middle.

Place the eggplant on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cooled eggplant, beans, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup of olive oil until the mixture is creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place the hummus in a dipping bowl and serve with the cucumber slices. Alternatively, spoon the hummus over the cucumber slices and arrange on a serving platter.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops

Tired of plain pork chop? Add parmesan cheese to spice it up! :)

Cook Time: 12 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


2 large eggs
1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
4 (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops (each about 10 to 12 ounces)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon wedges, for serving


Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to plates and serve with lemon wedges.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew

Cook Time: 1 hr 30 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


3 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 pounds stew beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup Marsala wine
1 pound butternut squash, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3 to 4 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
Crusty bread, for serving


In a large soup pot heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, rosemary, and thyme and saute until the onions are tender, about 2 minutes. Toss the beef cubes in salt and pepper and flour. Turn up the heat to med-high and add the beef to the pot. Cook until the beef is browned and golden around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the Marsala wine. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir up all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the butternut squash and sun-dried tomatoes and stir to combine. Add enough beef broth to just cover the beef and squash. Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Season the stew with additional salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread alongside.