Cheese And Tomato Stuffed Eggplant

As promised last week, here is a stuffed eggplant recipe that was not only beautiful, but tasted great.  Eggplants, always so abundant in the summer months are probably one one the most versatile vegetables, they can be fried, grilled, puréed, sautéed and stuffed. Today, we will use this deep purple vegetable as a shell to hold a tomato and cheese filling . Let’s Cook!!

Cheese and Tomato Stuffed Eggplant

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Great as a side dish, appetizer or even as a main course

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Ingredients

4 Globe eggplants

1 Sweet onion

2 Garlic cloves

1.5 lbs of ripe tomatoes

3/4 lb Scamorze cheese

Fresh oregano

Parmesan Cheese

2tbls Extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling

Fresh Basil 
-Cut the Eggplant in half, with a knife carefully leaving 1/2″ border cut along the shape of the eggplant, with a spoon,scoop out the pulp leaving 1/2 along the bottom


-Cut the pulp into cubes place in a colander add salt and let sit for at least 1/2 hour

-Chop the garlic, add 2 tbls olive oil sauté until lightly brown on medium heat

-Chop the onion, add to the garlic and sauté until onion becomes translucent, add the eggplant mix well and continue sautéing until eggplant softens

-Chop the tomatoes into cubes or in quarters if using cherry tomatoes, add to the eggplant mixture

-Salt and pepper to taste, add fresh oregano, mix well

-Take the mixture of the heat, add the scamorze 


-Line a baking dish with parchment or foil, fill the Eggplant shells with the filling and place into the baking dish generously sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil

-Bake in 350F oven for 30-40 minutes (depending on oven) until eggplant shell is soft but still holding it’s shape and cheese is melted and golden


-Chop a handful of fresh basil and sprinkle on top

-Serve and enjoy

Buon Appetito!

Mickey

Meatless Monday… Chunky Lentil Stew

Another Meatless Monday, another Meatless Monday recipe. A nice, chunky lentil stew, I like to make a semi-Thai version lots of Cilantro, coconut milk to add creaminess, and  a little Curry powder for some flavor depth.  On a hot Summer day, this stew can be enjoyed at room temperature.  Try adding some avocado slices with basmati rice and you have a delicious meal.  Let’s Cook!!

Chunky Lentil Vegetable Stew

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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A filling Lentil stew filled with flavor

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Ingredients

4 Carrots

1 large onion

2 Red peppers

1/2 Butternut squash

4 stalks of celery

2 scallions

1 1/2 Cup of dried lentils

1 Can of whole tomatoes

2 Cups of Vegetable broth

1/2 Cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 cloves of garlic

Fresh hot pepper to taste

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

1 can of coconut milk

Curry powder to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a soup pot, add olive oil, chopped or crushed garlic lightly brown.  Add onions, scallions, hot pepper,curry powder continue to cook until onions become translucent, add lentils

Clean and chop all vegetables into bite sized cubes add to onion mixture, add tomatoes in their juice, broth, salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer for about 45 minutes until lentils and vegetables are soft

Stir in coconut milk and cilantro

Serve with avocado slices and basmati rice

Buon Appetito!

Onion Soup with Two toppings, Savory Cheese Bread or Classic Toast Topping

Two things you need when making Onion Soup, lots of onions and lots of time . Today I am making a Onion Soup and serving it with two different  toppings.  The first, is the classic version, with it’s crusty, cheesy French bread, the second version is with a large savory, thyme scented gruyere cheese bread crouton.  Give them both a try.   Lets Cook!

Onion Soup with Two Toppings

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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The longer the onions cook and caramelize the deeper the flavor

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Ingredients

For the soup:

1/4 stick of butter

3 tbls extra virgin olive oil

2 lbs of yellow onions

1/2 lb scallions

1 tsp sugar

1 cup of dry white wine

6 cups of broth (vegetable or beef)

1 tbls flour

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For the Savory Cheese Bread:

1 lb grated gruyere cheese

1 cup of all purpose flour

2 tbls baking powder

1 tsp salt

8 large eggs

1 tbls finely chopped fresh thyme

For the Classic

Loaf of Crusty Italian or French bread

Grated Gruyere Cheese approximately 1/4 lb per ramekin (to liking)

Directions

-Peel and slice all the onions and scallions as thin as possibleIMG_1309.JPG

-In a soup pot, add the butter, olive oil and on a low heat cook the onions for 20 minutes until they become soft stirring often you do not want the onions to brown, add the sugar and continue to cook on low heat for at least another 25-30 minutes.fullsizeoutput_48

When the onions start to caramelize (turn a golden brown) add the white wine, turning up the heat, add the flour, stirring until it is mixed and dissolved into the liquid

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-Add the broth, salt and pepper to taste, continue cooking on low heat for another 10-15 minutes

-Serve with French bread or Crouton topping; both recipes below

Gruyere French Bread

Spoon the soup into an ovenproof ramekins, cut the baguette into 1- 1 1/2 ” slices (for a crunchier version) lightly toast the bread on both sides, (softer version) place the sliced  bread directly onto the hot soup, grate the cheese directly onto the bread  place the ramekin under the broiler watching closely as you melt the cheese to golden brownIMG_1323.JPG

Savory Cheese Bread Crouton

-Butter a Jelly roll pan and cover with parchment paper

-In a bowl add cheese, eggs, baking powder, salt, thyme and flour, mix well

-Pour and spread mixture onto the jelly roll panIMG_1313

-Bake in pre-heated 350F oven for 20-25 minutes (convection) the bread should be golden brown and an inserted toothpick should come out clean

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-With a pastry ring, cut into large circular croutons, place onto hot soup

 

-Serve the Onion Soup with either the Savory Cheese Croutons or the Classic French Bread and Cheese

Buon Appetito!!

Mickey

 

Green Beans with Balsamic Glazed Red Onions

It is another  Meatless Monday.  On Monday’s I try to post meatless ideas.  Today, I am making an easy side dish market fresh green beans topped with balsamic glazed red onions.  A recipe to keep for all your summer entertainment, dinners, picnics and bbq’s.  Let’s cook!

Green Beans with Balsamic Glazed Red Onions

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A Summer recipe winner, great to serve at all your outdoor events

Ingredients

1 lb of green beans ends snapped and washed

1 cup of thinly sliced red onions

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

2 tbls balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

-Snap and wash the green beans

-In a pot large enough to hold the beans, fill with cold water, add sea salt and boil the beans until they are to your desired doneness.  *note- I like my green beans cooked a little longer than normal until they are soft, but not mushy.

-Drain beans and place in a serving bowl

-Thinly slice the red onions, in a small skillet, add the olive oil and the onions, on low heat, slowly cook the onions until they become soft

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-Add the balsamic vinegar to the onions, cook for a few minutes until the onions are sweet, tender and the flavors meld

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-Add the balsamic onions to the green beans, mix well  *note-try to add the onions to the beans while they are still warm, it enhances the flavors .  Adjust salt and pepper.

-Serve and enjoy as a side dish with all your grilled meats/fish/poultry

Buon Appetito!

Mickey

 

 

 

Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino and Peppers, Oh My!

A classic pasta dish in Italy, loved by all, quick, easy and made with few ingredients, Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino (Garlic, Olive oil and Hot Pepper).   It is hard to believe a plate so simple can be so full of flavor. For a different twist,  I added sweet peppers to the original recipe.  Nothing could be better to serve on a quiet Saturday night, open a bottle of red wine and your all set!  Lets cook!!

Linguini with Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino and Sweet Peppers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Simple yet flavorful,  this pasta dish is always a big hit

Ingredients

1 lb imported linguine or spaghetti

3 cups of mixed sweet peppers, red and yellow finely diced

6 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed

6 tbls extra virgin olive oil

1 hot pepper chopped *heat index as you prefer, note this is a spicy, snappy dish

2 tbls fresh flat leaf parsley finely chopped

3/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

    -Fill a pasta pot with water and bring to a boil while you prepare the sauce

    -Add the olive oil, garlic and hot pepper in a wok style skillet large enough to finish off your linguine, on low heat lightly brown the garlic

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  • When the garlic is lightly brown, add the sweet peppers, stirring on a medium heat until the peppers start to break down and soften, add salt and freshly ground pepper
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    -Add the parsley, at this point you can take the sauce off the heat while you wait for your linguine

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    -Add sea salt to the boiling water then add your package of linguine

    -Cook your linguine 1 minute less than package indicates, you will finish it off with the pepper sauce

    -With a spaghetti fork, lift the linguine out of its water, draining as you lift, and mix into the pepper sauce, on a lively heat continue mixing.  Once the linguine is in the pan, add the parmesan cheese, mix well, then serve

Buon Appetito

Mickey

 

 

Crunchy Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

A few weeks ago I was traveled to the south of France.  When there, I love going to this little Bistro in Nice where they make the best Scalloped Potatoes, served piping hot in individual mini cocottes.  I think I was able to come pretty close to replicating  this recipe, capturing the creamy marriage of the potatoes with butter and cream.  For sure this is a real diet breaker,  but every now and then, it is worth the splurge .  This is an easy side dish for special occasions.  For crowds, it is easier to make the recipe in a long casserole dish, but if you like, feel free to use little cocottes to give you the perfect cream to crunch ratio.

Crunchy Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

3 1/2 lbs potatoes (not baking)

1/4 lb unsalted butter

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup whole milk

Seasoned Salt i.e. Lawrys

Directions

-Peel the potatoes, with a cut proof glove using a Mandoline slicer on the finest blade slice all of the potatoes paper thin

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-Butter generously the bottom of a long casserole dish and layer the potatoes one x one slightly overlapping…this will take time but the end result is well worth it!

-After you have layered the first layer cut pieces of butter and distribute then salt the layer…..repeat these layers with potatoes, butter and salt until you are finished with the potatoesIMG_1049

-Once you have the last layer, pour the heavy cream and the milk over the entire dish and once again add butter to the top layer, evenly sprinkle the parmesan cheeseIMG_1050

-Preheat a 375 F oven, and bake at least 45 minutes….Please check since some ovens cook faster than others….the top should be bubbly and golden brown.

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Serve hot or at room temperature.

Buon Appetito!!

Mickey

 

 

Spring Fling, Russian Salad with Fresh Asparagus

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This dish takes asparagus and eggs to the next level.   Asparagus paired with a fresh vegetable, egg filled Russian Salad…. so tasty.  Mainly served as an appetizer, Russian salad, is a favorite here in Venice.  I thought it might be interesting served with seasonal asparagus.  Russian Salad also called Olivier Salad,  is a traditional Russian celebratory dish.  This salad  has become quite popular in Europe, there are many variations and each country has adopted their own version.  I  quite like the way the Venetians make their Insalata Russa.

Russian Salad with Fresh Spring Asparagus

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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This salad can be served year round,  alone or as a side to boiled shrimp or lobster.

Ingredients

10 carrots peeled and diced in 1/4″cubes (should yield approximately 3 cups)

2 large non starchy potatoes peeled and diced in 1/4″ cubes (should yield 3 cups)

2 cups of fresh peas shelled (use frozen if fresh are unavailable)

8 hard boiled eggs

1 cup of dill gherkins diced in 1/4″ cubes

1 1/2 to 2 cups of Mayonnaise  (high quality)

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

sea salt

salt and pepper to taste

2 large bunches of asparagus

Directions

-Peel and dice potatoes into 1/4″ size cubes,  slice the potatoes on the long side lay the potatoes flat on a cutting board and cut into cubesIMG_1031.JPG

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-Peel and cut the carrots along the length, lay the cut side down on a cutting board and cut again, then cut into 1/4′ cubesIMG_1033.JPG

-All items need to boil separately each has different cooking times

-In cold water add potatoes and course grain sea salt, bring to boil, after water comes to a boil time 10 minutes (note the potatoes need to retain their shape and NOT fall apart, so watch carefully, Please do not overcook them). Drain and let cool completely.

-In cold water add the carrots and sea salt, bring to boil and time 8 minutes noting the same not to overcook the carrots.  Drain and let cool completely.

-In cold water add the peas and sea salt you will need to test the peas but if fresh 10 minutes,  if frozen much shorter, also be careful not to overcook. Drain and let cool completely

-In a pot large enough for the eggs, bring water to a boil, add the eggs carefully into the water boil for 10 minutes.  Let cool and peel

-Dice egg whites into 1/4″ cubes separately chop the yokes

-Dice the dill gherkins in 1/4″ cubes

-It is important that all items cool and dry before mixing together

-In a bowl add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper, mix well

-In a large mixing bowl add all of the cooked ingredients along with the dill gherkins, egg whites and yolks, mix in the mayonnaise, stir carefully , refrigerate until ready to use.  Can be made a day in advance.

-Cut the tough bottom end of the asparagus, with a vegetable peeler, peel the bottom rough outer layer, place the asparagus in cold water bring to boil.  Test for preferred doneness with a fork.  Carefully lift the asparagus out of the water let drain.

-With a pastry form in the center of a plate, fill with  Russian Salad, lay the asparagus alongside, lift the form and Voila!!  A Beautiful Spring Plate!!!

Buon Appetito !!

 

 

 

Meatless Monday, Creamy Potato Leek Soup

It is hard to believe it’s Monday again and time to share another “Meatless Alternative” for Meatless Monday.  Today’s recipe choice is another seasonal favorite…a comfort food for Spring,  a creamy, hearty dish that is really light and healthy.   My version of this recipe is made without heavy cream or butter,  if you like,  feel free to add them!

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A creamy, hearty light and healthy dish for Spring

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Ingredients

3 large leeks

4 large potatoes (try not to use “new potatoes” they will not be as creamy)

6 Cups of Vegetable or Chicken Broth

2 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large garlic clove

Thyme to taste

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Butter or heavy cream (optional)

Directions

-Cut the leeks in half along the length, wash well  (leeks have a tendency to be very dirty on the inside) and slice into 1/4 inch slicesfullsizeoutput_12

-Peel the potatoes and cut into small piecesfullsizeoutput_14.jpeg

-Smash the garlic clove with a knife, in a medium size soup pot add olive oil and  lightly brown the garlic on a low heat

-Add the leeks saute with the garlic fullsizeoutput_13.jpeg

– When the leeks start wilting and get slightly golden, add the potatoes, the broth, salt, pepper and the thyme bring these ingredients to a boil.  Turn heat down and cook until the potatoes are very soft,  between 30-45 minutes.

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-Off the heat, with an immersion blender (or in a blender) blend the soup until all ingredients are blended and creamy.  If you want to add butter or heavy cream to taste (optional)IMG_0992.JPG

-Serve hot or  at room temperature with croutons and/ or Parmesan Cheese

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Buon Appetito!!

Directions

 

 

It’s Fry- day…..Crispy Crunchy Salted Fried Zucchini

I know of few Italian Restaurants in America that do not serve fried zucchini as an appetizer option.  I guess we all love zucchini, served hot and crunchy,  dipped in either a aioli or tomato sauce.  Well here is a recipe for fried zucchini that you can make at home.  If you like, serve the zucchini with a  simple tomato sauce .  We like it as is, salted with lemon wedges!!

Crispy Crunchy Salted Fried Zucchini

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Its easy to make and everyone will love it

Ingredients

4-6 medium to small zucchini

2 eggs

1 cup of flour

2 cups of breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil

Finishing salt

Directions

-Slice the zucchini lengthwise, as thin as possible

-On parchment paper or aluminum foil, or a prep board add the flour and the breadcrumbs

-Heat the oil in a high sided heavy bottom wok, pot or pan until you drop a tiny piece of breading and it fries actively

-In a shallow bowl or dish beat the eggsIMG_0133

-Dip the zucchini in the flour, the egg and then the breadcrumbs…. you can press the crumbs to the zucchini making sure to coat the zucchini well….set aside until the oil is ready and you have breaded all the zucchini

-Carefully add the zucchini to the hot oil, try not to overcrowd the pan….fry until golden brown

-With a Slotted flat spoon carefully remove from oil and place on a platter lined with paper towel.

-Salt with a finishing sea saltIMG_0130

-Best served hot

Buon Appetito!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasta with Creamed Fresh Spring Peas

Spring is here and what better way to welcome the season than with Farm Fresh Spring Peas.  If you are able to find peas at the Farmers Market buy them, shell them and put them in the freezer, no need to precook the peas.  I am still using mine from last year!  (No need to worry if you cannot find fresh, frozen peas will work too).  Peas are  easily used in so many dishes, let’s start with this,  Pasta made with a creamed fresh pea sauce.  This dish will be a great addition to your Easter menu.

Pasta with Creamed Fresh Spring Peas

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Shell pasta captures the peas inside their shape, so every bite has peas with some creamy sauce

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This dish works  well as an Easter first course

Ingredients

4-5 cups of Fresh shelled Peas (frozen works too)

1 sweet yellow onion finely diced

3 tbls extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup dry white wine

2 cups vegetable broth

3/4 cups fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

2 Tbls unsalted butter

1/4 cup of fresh cream

Parmesan cheese to taste

sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 1/4 lb Artisan Pasta in a shape that will capture the peas (Rigatoni, Shells, Penne,  if you use a fettuccine or fresh long pasta note that it will need more liquid for the sauce)

Directions

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-In a high sided pan add the olive oil and the chopped onion, on low heat saute until onion becomes transparent careful not to burn or brown the onionIMG_0957

-Add the peas,  white wine,  the vegetable broth, salt and pepper toss in the parsley.

-On medium heat, cook the peas ( fresh) for at least 30 minutes, pay attention to the liquid, it will reduce, add water if the liquid reduces too much and peas are not cooked. Taste the peas they should be tender to the bite….continue cooking until the peas are tender adjusting the liquid as necessary.IMG_0959

-Off the heat, in a mixing bowl add 2 cups of the cooked peas, add the cream and with an immersion blender mix until blended. (note- if you do not have an immersion blender, use a normal blender)

-Add the creamed peas back into the solid peas and let sit off  heat while  pasta is cookingIMG_0962

-In a pasta pot, fill with water and bring to boil add sea salt, then pasta.

-Cook pasta as indicated on package 1 minute less (see Pasta 101).

-Reheat the pea sauce add the butterIMG_0965

-Using a large slotted spoon, draining each spoonful, add the pasta to the pea sauce, on a lively heat mix the pasta with the sauce (remember you are still finishing off the pasta) If necessary, add liquid from the pasta water ….the sauce should be creamy not dry.  Add the parmesan cheese.  Mix well and serve.fullsizeoutput_10

Buon Appetito!!