Authors Posts by Barbara Beltrami

Barbara Beltrami

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Potato Salad with Bacon and Egg

By Barbara Beltrami

“Please pass the potato salad.” Famous last or more likely first words at many a party, picnic or barbecue. Who among us does not adore the tangy taste of that ubiquitous combination of potatoes and dressing? And while that dressing may range from vinegar and oil to mayonnaise to whipped or sour cream, there is one constant to all good potato salad recipes: The potatoes are freshly cooked, not left over. 

Additions such as herbs, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, capers, mustard or pickles can always dress up the salad, but for me, the more basic the recipe, the less interference with that wonderful marriage of potatoes and dressing. 

Potato Salad with Bacon and Egg

Potato Salad with Bacon and Egg

YIELD: Makes 10 to 12 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled

1½ cups mayonnaise or to taste

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

¼ pound crisp fried bacon, crumbled

5 hard boiled eggs quartered

1 medium red onion, minced

2 celery ribs, diced

1 medium tomato, diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced

DIRECTIONS:

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender; rinse under cold water, drain and set aside until cool enough to handle. Mix mayonnaise with vinegar; add bacon, eggs, onion, celery and tomato. While they are still warm, slice or coarsely chop but do not peel potatoes.In a large bowl, toss with mayonnaise mixture, salt and pepper; sprinkle parsley on top.  Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled with sandwiches, grilled meat or poultry or cold cuts.

Potato Salad with Herbed Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes 10 to 12 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 pounds tiny new potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 ounces white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons dry white wine

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves

½ cup fresh chopped chives

¼ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

4 scallions, very thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender; rinse under cold water, drain and set aside until cool enough to handle. In a medium bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar, wine, herbs, scallions, salt and pepper; toss with potatoes and serve warm or at room temperature with cold cuts, poultry, or beef or other salads.

Old-Fashioned Basic Potato Salad

YIELD: Makes 10 to 12 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled

2 cups good mayonnaise

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 celery ribs finely chopped

1 medium red onion, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside till cool enough to handle. In a medium bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, celery, onion, salt and pepper. In large bowl, toss with potatoes. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled with barbecued chicken, burgers, hot dogs or steaks.

Summer Garden Pasta

By Barbara Beltrami

As much as a hearty ragu with rigatoni is welcome in the winter, so is a light sauce with capellini, spaghetti or farfalle in the summer. Summer pastas call for delicate shapes, light ingredients and minimal saucing. They also require taking advantage of summer veggies, using fresh tomatoes rather than canned ones, and seasoning with lots of fresh herbs. This is the time to let your imagination take you on a cook’s tour, to invent as you go along and to use unlikely fresh ingredients like arugula, melon (that’s right!), citrus and fish.

Summer Garden Pasta

Summer Garden Pasta

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound pasta

1 pound very small zucchini, washed, trimmed and cut into small dice

½ medium red onion, peeled and cut into small dice

½ medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into small dice

2 celery ribs, cut into small dice

2 large tomatoes, cut into small dice

2 carrots, peeled and minced or shredded

½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

½ cup or more extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile combine the veggies, basil and parsley in a large bowl. When pasta is al dente, drain well and add, along with the olive oil, to the veggies. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to mix. Serve immediately with a crisp dry white or rose wine.

Pasta with Baby Shrimp, Cherry Tomatoes and Chives

Pasta with Baby Shrimp, Cherry Tomatoes and Chives

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound pasta

1pound baby shrimp

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup chopped fresh chives

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Saute shrimp and garlic in two tablespoons of the olive oil until shrimp are pink and garlic releases its aroma, one to two minutes. Set shrimp aside; discard garlic. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside to keep warm. Meanwhile, puree tomatoes in a food processor. In a medium skillet, heat the remaining oil and add tomatoes with their juice. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add shrimp, chives and salt and pepper; continue cooking another 5 minutes until sauce is slightly thickened. Toss with pasta in a large bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature with a spinach salad.

Spaghetti with Cantaloupe and Prosciutto

Spaghetti with Cantaloupe and Prosciutto

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound spaghettini

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cups cantaloupe, rind and seeds removed, cut into small dice

1cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ teaspoon tomato paste

2 ounces prosciutto, cut into ¼-inch strips

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over high heat, combine butter and oil. When very hot, but not smoking, add melon and cook, stirring frequently, for two minutes, until soft but not mushy. Add cream, lemon juice and tomato paste and cook over high  heat until reduced to one-quarter its original volume. As soon as pasta is al dente, drain and transfer to large serving bowl. Toss with sauce, prosciutto, salt and pepper. Serve with a salad of baby greens and sliced grape tomatoes.

Oven-Fried Chicken

By Barbara Beltrami

When I was a little kid, there were three elderly women, Harriet, Tess and Bea, friends of my grandmother, who shared a beach bungalow on some little island off the Connecticut coast. Each summer we would pack the car and make our annual pilgrimage to visit them. 

It always seemed there was so much to do there. They would send us on scavenger hunts for prizes from the dime store or foraging for beach glass. We fished, dug clams, husked corn and ate cucumbers and tomatoes from their garden and helped them make jam from the wild berries along the road. We baked cakes and cookies and pies and played cards and checkers and Monopoly on the porch.  

But best of all were the picnics, the highlights of our time there. Harriet insisted there was only one menu for any real picnic, and it could not be altered or amended. Her fried chicken took center stage while Tess’ potato salad sat in a Pyrex bowl right beside it along with Bea’s deviled eggs. Sliced tomatoes were obligatory as were iced tea and lemonade and, of course, watermelon. They would never share their recipes, but I think these are pretty good approximations.

Oven-Fried Chicken

Oven-Fried Chicken

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 broiler-fryer chickens, cut into 4 pieces each

1 quart buttermilk

1 cup flour

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup plain breadcrumbs

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

½ cup vegetable or canola oil

DIRECTIONS: 

Place chicken in a large shallow baking dish; pour buttermilk over it and coat thoroughly; turn to coat other side. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours, turning once. Preheat oven to 375 F. Remove chicken from buttermilk and pat lightly with paper towels; discard buttermilk. 

Dip chicken first in flour, then in egg and finally in breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper. Pour oil into large shallow baking pan; place chicken in pan and place in oven; bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning once, until chicken is crisp. Remove chicken, drain on paper towels and serve hot, at room temperature or cold with potato salad, deviled eggs and sliced tomatoes.

Potato Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1½ pounds small new potatoes, scrubbed

½ cup minced celery

¼ cup minced red onion

½ cup minced fresh Italian parsley leaves

½ cup (or more) mayonnaise

1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

Boil potatoes until tender but firm; cool to room temperature; cut into bite-size chunks, if necessary. In a large bowl combine with celery, onion and parsley. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise with mustard, salt and pepper; add to potato mixture and combine. Cover and refrigerate or serve immediately at room temperature with fried chicken, devilled eggs and sliced tomatoes.

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 hard-boiled eggs

Salt, to taste

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS: 

Remove egg shells, then cut eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and mash with salt, mayonnaise, mustard and cayenne. With a small teaspoon, scoop mixture back into egg whites. Cover and refrigerate or serve immediately with fried chicken, potato salad and sliced tomatoes.

By Barbara Beltrami

One of the bumper crops produced by summer backyard gardens and featured by farm stands is the cucumber, ever popular for its crunchy texture and ease of preparation. Comfortable as a mere salad ingredient for its crispness, the main attraction of a cold cucumber soup to inaugurate a summer meal, or a tzatziki accompanying a barbecue, the cucumber lends itself easily to summer fare. 

There are those who say the skin should be left on; then there are those who say the skin should be pared; and there are also those who say the skin should be pared but not completely — just in alternate stripes and a fork run down the sides to create a fancy presentation after slicing. 

Beyond those are the people who like their cucumbers sliced ultra thin and those who claim that the cucumber is at its best when cut into spears, the seeds scooped out and the spears diced. Whatever your preference, I hope you find the recipes that follow handy additions to your summer repertoire.

Cucumber Salad

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced

Salt

1 cup white or cider vinegar

½ cup sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

½ green bell pepper, diced

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS: 

Sprinkle cucumbers lightly with salt and let stand 10 minutes. Rinse, drain and place in serving dish. Combine vinegar, sugar, ground pepper and bell pepper and let sit 5 minutes. Pour over cucumbers. Sprinkle dish with parsley. Serve at room temperature with meat or poultry.

Cold Cucumber Soup

Cold Cucumber Soup

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup chopped onion

2 cups unpeeled diced cucumber

1 cup arugula leaves, chopped and de-stemmed

1 potato, peeled and minced

2 cups chicken broth

2 sprigs Italian flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ teaspoon dry mustard

1 cup heavy cream

Chopped scallions or radishes for garnish

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium or large saucepan, melt the butter, then cook the onion in it until it is transparent. Add cucumber, arugula, potato, broth, parsley, salt and pepper and dry mustard. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes until potato is tender. Puree in an electric food processor. Cover and chill. When ready to serve, add cream, stir well and garnish. Serve with salad, fish, chicken, sandwiches or slices of an interesting bread.

Tzatziki

Tzatziki

YIELD: Makes approximately 1½ cups

INGREDIENTS:

½ English cucumber, peeled and grated

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill leaves

1 tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ tablespoon lemon zest

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and using small spoon, scrape out the seeds if there are any. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the cucumber. In a medium bowl, combine the grated cucumber, yogurt, garlic, dill, mint, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve with pita bread and lamb, eggplant, hummus or other Mediterranean dishes.

Rosemary Sorbet

By Barbara Beltrami

Back in the days when Atlantic City was Atlantic City and not Las Vegas, before grand old hotels that smelled vaguely of dampness and time had given way to glitzy casinos hermetically sealed off from sea breezes, before the roll of the dice replaced the thundering of ocean waves — years ago when the best bet in town was a paper sack of salt water taffy or chocolate fudge — those were the  days when, innocent of the perils of youth or bronzing, we lay on the beach amid the mingled scents of salt,  suntan lotion and roasting hot dogs and contemplated the glistening bodies of wannabe beach bums and babes.

As our radios wailed and thumped songs of unrequited love and a few years later of making love, not war, we propped ourselves on our elbows and gave squinty surveillance to our sandy surroundings and their occupants. 

We could see him coming far down the beach. He was a short, rather paunchy fellow who sported a white T-shirt, a thick black mustache and a sparse black comb over. Trudging along the sand and dragging his two-wheeled cart behind him, he would zigzag his way among the gaudy patches that were our beach blankets. Then, as his approach became imminent and unavoidable, we would sit up and fish quarters from the pockets of our tumbled pile of clothing and listen to him calling out his wares. “Ice pops here!”

 Stopping and planting his portly body in front of us so as to carefully block our tanning rays, his eyes twinkling just a tad lasciviously, he would loudly cajole us, everyone and no one in particular, “Hey! Good-lookin’, come on, give your tongue a sleigh ride, give your chick a lick on a stick.” 

Call them what you will — ices, sorbets, sherbets, granitas or pops, a scoop by any other name would taste as sweet and delightfully cooling on a sultry July day.

Rosemary Sorbet

Rosemary Sorbet

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 stalks fresh rosemary

2 cups sugar

5 cups water

2 cups white wine

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine rosemary, sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, to dissolve the sugar. When syrup reaches boiling point, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then strain; discard rosemary. In a medium bowl combine 2½  cups syrup with wine and lemon juice, place in a freezer container 3 to 4 hours and stir every half hour or so or until slushy or place in ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Cover and freeze. Scoop into small dishes, garnish with rosemary sprigs before serving.

Lime Sherbet

Lime Sherbet

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1¼ teaspoons unflavored gelatin

¼ cup cold water

2/3 cup sugar 

1¾ cup water

½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 egg whites

Thin half-slices lime for garnish

DIRECTIONS: 

Soak gelatin in ¼ cup cold water, In small saucepan combine sugar and 1¾ cup water and heat, stirring occasionally, until boiling. Lower heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add gelatin mixture and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate until well chilled. Add lime juice, then stiffly beaten but not dry egg whites. Place in freezer container and stir every half hour or so until slushy or process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Place in small dishes, garnish with lime slices before serving.

Raspberry Granita

 

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup water

½ cup sugar

2 cups fresh or thawed frozen raspberries, pureed

2 tablespoons lemon juice

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium sauce pan, stirring frequently, bring water and sugar to a boil over moderate heat. Simmer 5 minutes; let syrup cool to room temperature. Stir in raspberry puree and lemon juice. Pour mixture into 9×9-inch brownie pan. Freeze, stirring and scraping sides every half hour for 3 to 4 hours until mixture has a fine snowy texture. Cover and keep in freezer until ready to serve.

Fried Squash Blossoms

By Barbara Beltrami

The first time I ever saw or heard of squash blossoms as an edible commodity was many years ago in Provence. It was market day in the little town where we were staying, and I wandered from stall to stall ogling the pyramids of perfect fruits and veggies. I kept encountering certain golden blossoms in front of hand-lettered signs saying, “Fleurs de courgette,” which I knew translated into squash blossoms. 

I decided I would surprise my husband and show him what a good little French cook I was and make them for dinner. Young and foolish and not wanting to appear stupid, I was afraid to ask how one cooked them. Instead, I shored up my courage and my French and told the man in the stall that I’d like a kilo of them. He eyed me rather strangely but complied with a “Merci, Madame” and something that looked an awful lot like a smirk. 

I took the squash blossoms back to the house, washed them under hot running water and proceeded to boil them. Mon dieu! What a soggy slimy yellow unrecognizable mess I had wrought. I fed it to the resident goat and never told my husband about my sortie into French produce. 

The next day we decided to explore the town and have dinner at a little sidewalk café on the corner and there on the menu were “Fleurs de courgette!” Of course, I ordered them, and when they arrived, I had before me three beautiful gently fried squash blossoms stuffed with a creamy goat cheese and sprinkled with chervil. Since then I’ve encountered many a squash blossom from my own garden and in restaurants here in the States, but none of them have been as delicious as those very first ones I tasted.

Note: If you are harvesting squash blossoms from your garden, pick the male ones, which are on stems, rather than the female ones, which have a little bump on the end that will grow into squash.

Fried Squash Blossoms

Fried Squash Blossoms

YIELD: Makes 4 servings as an appetizer

INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup flour

1 large egg

½ cup sparkling water

12 to 16 squash blossoms

Extra virgin olive oil to cover bottom of medium skillet

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

In a small-medium bowl, whisk together the flour and egg, then add sparkling water and continue whisking until smooth. Gently rinse blossoms in cold water and pat dry. Remove pistils. Heat oil in skillet. Meanwhile dip blossoms in batter. When oil is very hot but not smoking, carefully lower the batter-dipped blossoms into the oil. When they are golden brown on the bottom, gently turn and brown the other side. Remove them from the oil, drain them on paper towels and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Serve hot with prosecco and thin bread sticks.

Squash Blossom Frittata

Squash Blossom Frittata

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup minced shallot

16 squash blossoms, stems and pistils removed

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

7 large eggs, beaten

Handful fresh Italian parsley, washed and chopped

DIRECTIONS: 

Preheat broiler. Heat oil in 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced shallot; reduce heat to medium and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add blossoms and gently sauté until just wilted. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange blossoms in an attractive circular pattern around skillet; increase heat to medium-high. Add eggs and cook until beginning to set around edges, lifting frittata with heatproof rubber spatula and allowing eggs to flow underneath. Continue cooking until eggs are softly set, about 5 minutes. 

Transfer skillet to broiler; broil until top of frittata is set, about 1 minute. Using a large plate and pot holders, invert skillet and slide frittata onto plate so bottom side is up and squash blossom pattern is visible.  Sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with a mixed green salad, baguette slices and extra virgin olive oil or melon, croissants and unsalted butter.

Steamed Clams

By Barbara Beltrami

There are some foods that need all the help they can get for flavor, and there are other foods that are exquisite as they are and need very little or no help. With their briny natural flavor, clams are a perfect example of the latter. In fact, their only permissible enhancements should be fresh lemon or melted butter. Chilled, freshly opened and slurped from the half shell, they are peerless for succulence. Steamed and served with their own broth, they are voluptuously pleasing to the palate. And roasted or grilled, they are simply scrumptious. And in a sauce over a delicate pasta? Divine. Here are three basic recipes that feature clams with minimal secondary ingredients. It would be criminal to camouflage or detract from that sweetly brackish flavor.

Steamed Clams

Steamed Clams

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

6 pounds soft shell clams

1½ sticks unsalted butter

Juice of one lemon

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

2½ cups cold water

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 ribs celery, cut into thirds

1 bay leaf

DIRECTIONS: 

Soak the clams in a large pot of cold water, move them around a bit, let them settle, then change water and repeat procedure twice until clams are very clean and there is no sand in the bottom of the pot. In a small pan, melt butter over low heat, then add lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir well. Set aside to keep warm. 

In a large pot combine the two and a half cups water, onion, celery, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes; add clams and cover pot. Check in about 5 minutes for clams to be open. Discard any clams that don’t open after a few more minutes. 

Transfer opened clams to a large serving bowl; set aside to keep warm. Remove and discard onion, celery and bay leaf; pour the broth through a cheesecloth-lined strainer and stop before you get to the sediment at the bottom of the pot. Pour the hot broth into small bowls or cups, likewise with the melted butter and place one of each at each diner’s place. Put bowl of clams, accompanied by another bowl or two for discarded shells, in the middle of the table. Serve with ice cold beer, lots of crusty bread and plenty of napkins.

Roasted Clams

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

24 medium hard-shell clams

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

½ stick butter, melted

Lemon wedges

DIRECTIONS: 

Preheat oven to 450 F. Scrub clams under cold running water; arrange in shallow roasting or baking pan. Bake 5 minutes or until shells open; remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, remove top shell; serve on lower shell after sparingly seasoning with salt and pepper and drizzling or brushing with melted butter. Serve with freshly picked corn on the cob, sliced garden tomatoes with fresh basil and garlic bread.

Clam Sauce

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 pounds littleneck or Manila clams, well scrubbed and rinsed

½ cup water or dry white wine

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ stick butter

1 handful parsley, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

In a large pot, steam the clams in water or wine until they open. Remove clams from pot; discard any that do not open; reserve cooking liquid. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the clams from their shells, cut up any large ones and set aside to keep warm. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, cook garlic in butter 3 to 4 minutes until it releases its aroma. Carefully add the cooking liquid; be sure to leave residual sand in pot. Add parsley and pepper, then clams; cover and gently reheat, but do not overcook, when ready to serve. Serve with capelllini or linguine and a crisp green salad.

Cherry Clafouti with Mascarpone and Blueberries

By Barbara Beltrami

Even in these days of political dissent, I think and hope that we all still remember what the Fourth of July is really about, the achieving of independence from tyrannical rule and the birth of our nation and the good old red, white and blue of our flag. 

Accordingly, I say Fourth of July food should be not just the traditional barbecue fare but also concoctions in red, white and blue. However, what blue foods are there except for blueberries and blue corn? So here in honor of Old Glory, our grand old flag, the birth and longevity of our nation, I offer you a cherry clafouti with mascarpone and blueberries, blue corn chip spread with sour cream and salsa, and watermelon, feta, cucumber and blueberry salad parfait.

Cherry Clafouti with Mascarpone and Blueberries

Cherry Clafouti with Mascarpone and Blueberries

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1¼ cups milk

1/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

½ cup flour

3 cups pitted fresh cherries

8 ounces mascarpone 

1 pint fresh blueberries, washed

DIRECTIONS: 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Vigorously whip together the milk, half the sugar, the eggs, vanilla, salt and flour until well emulsified. Grease a 2-quart casserole, then pour half the batter into it. Bake 7 to 10 minutes until it starts to set but a knife inserted in center does not come out clean. Remove from oven, evenly distribute cherries over top, sprinkle with remaining sugar, then remaining batter. Bake 45 to 60 minutes until clafouti is puffed and golden brown. 

Remove from oven and serve warm with a dollop of mascarpone and a sprinkling of fresh blueberries.  

Blue Corn Chip Spread

YIELD: Makes 8 to 12 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups crumbled blue corn chips

One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

One 8-ounce container sour cream

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons milk or cream

2 cups shredded manchego cheese

2 to 3 cups salsa

DIRECTIONS: 

Grease a large deep pie plate or 9×13 shallow baking dish with olive oil. Spread the crumbled corn chips evenly on the bottom. In a blender or food processor combine the cream cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper and milk until they are well blended and the mixture is smooth but thick. Spread over the crumbled chips, then sprinkle with manchego cheese. Finally, spread the salsa over the top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with whole blue corn chips, crackers, cold beer, sangria, lemonade or soda.

Watermelon, Cucumber, Blueberry and Feta Salad Parfait

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups bite-size watermelon pieces

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons wine vinegar

1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

Place ½ cup watermelon pieces in each glass, next add 1/8 of the diced cucumber, then 1/8 cup blueberries and finally two tablespoons feta. Repeat procedure. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Meanwhile in a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegars, salt and pepper; keep at room temperature. When ready to serve, uncover and drizzle dressing evenly over each parfait. Serve as an appetizer or side dish with bread sticks, crusty rustic bread and extra virgin olive oil in which to dip the bread.

Aunt Edith’s Strawberry Shortcake

By Barbara Beltrami

When June finally busts out all over, local strawberries will be at their peak. Despite their slow start because of the rain, they will be their usual juicy ruby red selves ready to be picked or purchased at local farms or those out east. There will be plenty for dropping into baskets and just as many for popping into our mouths as we move between the rows. When fresh strawberries are so naturally delicious without any adornment except maybe a little sugar and cream, anything further seems like sacrilege.  

On the other hand, when they’re that good, any recipe that features them is always that much better because those little gems themselves are so good. So when you get home from your strawberry picking with your baskets of ruby treasures, consider an old-fashioned strawberry shortcake, a strawberry-arugula-radish salad with balsamic dressing or a strawberry sorbet.

Aunt Edith’s Strawberry Shortcake

 

Aunt Edith’s Strawberry Shortcake

YIELD: Makes 10 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 quart fresh strawberries, washed and crushed

¼ cup sugar

2½ cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup milk

1 egg yolk, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS: 

Heat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl combine the berries with the quarter cup sugar and set aside. In a medium bowl combine the flour, one-third cup of sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs; stir in milk. Knead until dough forms, then, on a lightly floured surfaced, pat into a half-inch thickness.  

Using a 2½-inch cutter or the same-size upside-down glass, cut into 10 circles and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush egg yolks over tops, then sprinkle with two tablespoons sugar. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let cool 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, whip cream with remaining tablespoon sugar and vanilla. Split shortcakes in half horizontally, place on plates, then spoon whipped cream and strawberries in any order you wish and replace tops. Serve immediately with hot or iced coffee or tea.

Strawberry-Arugula-Radish Salad with Balsamic Dressing

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

10 ounces fresh arugula, washed and dried

1 quart fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced

8 radishes, washed, trimmed and very thinly sliced

½ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon raspberry vinegar

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

1 whole garlic clove, peeled

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

Have all ingredients at room temperature. Place arugula, strawberries and radishes in a large bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and let sit for one hour. Remove and discard garlic. With a fork or small wire whisk, emulsify the oil, vinegars, juice, mustard, honey, salt and pepper. Pour over greens and toss thoroughly. Serve immediately as a first course or with meat, poultry or fish.

Strawberry Sorbet

Strawberry Sorbet

YIELD: Makes 1 quart

INGREDIENTS:

2 quarts strawberries, washed and hulled

1 cup sugar

1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ ounce vodka

Pinch coarse salt

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until there are no lumps left.  Transfer to another container, cover and refrigerate 6 hours. Place in an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s directions until mixture resembles soft ice cream.  Transfer one more time to airtight container and freeze at least 4 hours. Serve with crisp cookies, biscotti or pound cake.

Marinated Roast Pork Tenderloin

By Barbara Beltrami

There’s Dad, dear man, beer, martini or wine glass in one hand, fork, tongs or spatula in the other, standing in a rather large cloud of black smoke grilling our dinner. Nobody does it better. We know that and so does he, so how can we not let him do it almost every night? 

But on Fathers Day we have to draw the line. Even though he cooks those steaks to perfection, even though he’s got the magic formula for getting the chicken crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, we can’t have him slaving over a hot grill on his special day. Am I suggesting that we do the barbecuing? Of course not. We understand that the grill is his special territory. I’m just saying that we have to cook for him and pamper him so he knows how much we love him, the greatest grillmeister of all.

So what do we do? We make him a sumptuous but easy meal without the grill.  First we marinate a pork tenderloin for a few hours in the fridge, then remove it and cook it for a short time in the oven. Next we chill Dad’s drink(s) and park him in a lounge chair, microwave some enormous russet potatoes and we toss together a big salad with everything we can think of in it. Dessert has been made and frozen the night before, and we’re so organized that we can spend most of our time waiting on Dad hand and foot. After all, doesn’t he deserve it?

Marinated Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Marinated Roast Pork Tenderloin

INGREDIENTS:

One 2-pound pork tenderloin (they often come two in a package so you can cook one and freeze the other or cook both and use the second one for leftovers, sandwiches, etc.)

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 tablespoon A-1 sauce

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves or 1 teaspoon dried

2 cloves garlic, minced

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

In a small bowl combine the vinegar, oil, mustard, A-1 sauce, tarragon, garlic, salt and pepper. Transfer to gallon-size re-closable plastic bag. Place tenderloin in a U-shape in bag, seal and turn bag in several directions to be sure all the meat is coated. Refrigerate in marinade at least two hours, open bag and rotate meat so all parts of it have a chance to soak in the marinade. Refrigerate one hour more.  

Preheat oven to 475 F. Place meat and marinade in a shallow roasting pan. Roast 25 minutes for pork that is slightly pink inside or 30 to 35 minutes for more well done. Let tenderloin rest for 15 minutes, then place on a cutting board and slice into 1-inch-thick rounds. Serve with baked potatoes with sour cream and/or butter.

The Everything Salad

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 head red leaf or green leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces

1 large tomato, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

1 cup chopped fennel

4 radishes, washed, trimmed and sliced

4 scallions, washed, trimmed and sliced

6 frozen artichoke hearts, cooked and quartered

2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded

1 medium fresh beet, peeled and shredded

1 cup cooked and sliced asparagus or string beans

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

¾ cup canned chick peas, washed and drained

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup good wine vinegar

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 handful basil leaves, chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill 

10 black olives, pitted and sliced

2/3 cup crumbled Roquefort, blue or goat cheese, crumbled

½ cup sunflower seeds

4 hard boiled eggs, sliced

DIRECTIONS: 

In a large bowl, combine lettuce, tomato, green pepper, cucumber, fennel, radishes, scallions, artichoke hearts, carrots, beet, asparagus, green peas and chick peas; toss well. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture over tossed veggies; toss again to coat evenly. Arrange or evenly distribute the basil, dill, olives, cheese, sunflower seeds and eggs on top. Serve immediately at room temperature with crusty bread and unsalted butter.


Frozen Banana Split Pie

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings

INGREDIENTS:

6 to 8 brownies

1½ cups vanilla ice cream, softened

1½ cups chocolate ice cream, softened

1½ cups strawberry ice cream, softened

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries

1 large banana, sliced

1/3 cup chocolate syrup

2 cups sweetened whipped cream

DIRECTIONS: 

In a 9-inch pie plate, mash, crush and press brownies into bottom and sides. Spread the vanilla ice cream over the brownie crust, then repeat with chocolate ice cream and finally strawberry ice cream.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. When ready to serve, remove from freezer, uncover and spread sliced strawberries and bananas over top; let sit 10 to 15 minutes to soften. Drizzle chocolate syrup over top, then drop dollops of whipped cream over fruit and chocolate. 

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