Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

4 servings

2- med. size eggplant sliced.
2 - cups basic spaghetti sauce or store bought is  fine,( I like Paul Newman`s Tomato and Basil)
3/4 - cup freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano

I  used  my Cuisinart Griddler to grill my eggplant, Its healthier  than frying.
This variety "Sicilian"  is slightly smaller with a wider base and purple skin streaked with white. It is sometimes referred to as "Zebra" eggplant.

While the grill is getting hot  place a paper towel on a plate and lay the eggplant slices on it and sprinkle lightly with salt, this pulls out the excess water. Let sit for a few minutes. Then place on the hot grill, when  the eggplant starts to get char marks flip over for 3 minutes. and remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a glass baking dish, spread a layer of sauce over the bottom and place the grilled eggplant in in a layer placed like the eggplant on the grill pic. and sprinkle  on 1/3 of the  cheese. Repeat this process again till the remaining ingredients are used with cheese on the top. Cover  with a lid and bake for 30 min. or until bubbly. Serve with a warm crusty bread.

Grilled Pesche ( Peaches ) Ameretti

This is a recipe from the Piemonte Northen Italy area.

4- ripe peaches, sliced in half and pitted
1/2 - cup Amaretti  cookie crumbles
1 -  tablespoon cocoa powder
1/3 up peach pulp from the peaches
1- teaspoon sugar
Beautiful California Peaches

I used my  Cuisinart Griddler to grill my peaches, but a gas grill or charcoal grill will work fine also!
Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit, take out  1/3 cup of  pulp  from the  peaches and smash with a fork in  a med. sized bowl.
Then add the Ameretti cookie crumbles* notes below ,cocoa, sugar and mix till moist,enough to form 4 balls, then set aside.

Get your grill  hot and then place the peaches cut side down for about 5 min. Then using tongs turn the peaches over and add the filling to each peach and grill for about  5 min. longer. Remove from heat and place on a serving plate and serve warm.

* notes
Ameretti cookies  can be found in most International  markets

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Tomato Basil Soup

Ingredients : 
2 - cans  28 ounce San Marzano whole tomatoes
2 - tablespoons  olive oil
1- med. yellow  onion diced
2- tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 - teaspoon  red pepper  flakes
1/3- cup dry  basil flakes
1/4 - cup dried parsley  flakes
4- cups vegetable broth
1- teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot heat the olive  oil over med. heat. add the diced onion and cook till tender,  about  2-3 min.  Stir in the garlic and red pepper  flakes.  cook for  2- 3 min. longer. Add the canned tomatoes with the juice, the dry basil, the dry parsley and the vegetable broth. Stir in the sugar and cook for about 30 min. over med. heat.  
Using a immersion  blender,  puree the soup in the stockpot or transfer to a food processor to blend. The soup should be smooth with a  few tomato chunks. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place is serving bowls while soup is hot and sprinkle each with Parmesan cheese and  serve.  6 servings.

*notes. be careful when transferring the the soup to a  blender or food processor. You might want to let soup cool down to room  temperature to  blend.    

This soup freezes  very well. Let the soup get  completely cool and transfer to a freezer container.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Middle East Inspired Sumac Dressing

Heirloom Tomatoes  come in such a  variety of  colors and shapes.  They  make any salad beautiful!

6 -  Heirloom Tomatoes, your choice of colors cut in half then into  wedges
4 -  cups spring  Salad mix chopped
4 - Radishes thinly sliced
1/2 - cup Feta cheese crumbles

Put the  tomato wedges, radish slices and chopped  salad in a bowl and toss  and sprinkle the Feta over top of the veggies, just  before serving, drizzle the  Sumac dressing over top and serve.

Sumac Dressing:
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp sumac
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
Whisk together very well  before  putting on the salad.

Notes ....                                                                                                                                                        Cherry red sumac is used extensively throughout the Middle East.   In the Mediterranean region today, sumac is used as a tabletop condiment or added during cooking to lend a pleasant, fruity sourness and soft cherry color to sauces, poultry, fish, and Turkish salads. The flavor is on the order of lemon juice or vinegar but milder and less acidic.
Sumac can be purchased at spice stores or found  in international food stores or online  on Penzeys.com

Friday, July 18, 2014

Caramelized Onions over Hummus

The  sweet onions are a nice  touch  to hummus, serve with toasted flat bread  as a appetizer  or with  your favorite Mediterranean / Middle Eastern meal.

1 med. yellow onion diced
1 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 cup Classic Hummus

Directions :

In a  small  shallow bowl put about a cup  of classic hummus, I  like the  classic  flavor because  there are no other flavors that compete with  the wonderful sweet onions. Smooth  the hummus  up on the sides of the bowl so onions stay in the center.

 In a  small  skillet  bring to a med. heat and drizzle  with  olive oil, then add the  diced  onions, saute the onions  till they are tender  and add the  white wine vinegar and  light brown sugar and stir in  and cook  till  onions turn a beautiful caramel color,  pour over the hummus and serve.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Spiced Parsnips and Carrots

So  easy and so healthy! Roasting Carrots and Parsnips in the  oven turns them a beautiful color and they are tender and sweet  and crispy. By adding paprika and cayenne you  get nicely spiced  veggies that would  be a great alternative to fries to  go with a burger or  delicious blackened salmon.                                  


6 carrots peeled
2 large Parsnips  peeled
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 pinch of salt 
1/3 cup  Olive oil


Preheat oven to 400°F. 
Peel the carrots and parsnips and cut in  halve lengthwise. (If carrots are small and slender, leave them whole. If parsnips are large, quarter them lengthwise. Place  them on a baking sheet  in a single layer close together.
In a glass measuring cup add the  olive oil, paprika, cayenne, salt , mix together and drizzle over the vegetables and place in the oven for about 20 min. then take them out and flip them over to make sure  all sides get golden and place back in the oven   for about 10  more min.  Remove from oven and place on a platter, sprinkle with parsley and serve . 4 serving

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Za`Atar Spice Blend

Za'atar (zaatar) is a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs frequently used in the Middle East and Mediterranean areas.

Za'atar is the Arabic name for an herb blend that is popular in Israeli cooking. Traditionally, the blend was made from a plant by the same name, but today most Za'atar blends are made from herbs like oregano, marjoram, and not  any of the "real" Za'atar herb

Za`Atar Flatbread
Current uses of what we now call Za'atar are mostly culinary. The seasoning mixture is comprised of dried herbs, toasted sesame seeds, ground sumac, and salt. Sumac is another Middle Eastern flavoring, characterized by its deep red berries and often sold dried and ground into a coarse powder with a tart, cranberry like flavor.
You can find a Za'atar blend at most Middle Eastern grocery stores or you can make it from scratch.
Za`atar Pizza on the left. Make a paste with Za`atar and Olive oil and spread on your already made flatbread and top with feta  cheese and place  in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 min. and serve with hummus  and Israeli Salad

Ingredients :
  • 1/4 cup sumac
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt   


Grind the sesame seeds in food processor or with mortar and pestle. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Store za'atar in a cool, dark place in a plastic zip bag or in an airtight container. When stored properly, Za'atar can be used from 3-6 months.