Cooking

Pan Bagnat

By Barbara Beltrami

Some of you may remember Starkist’s Charlie the Tuna, the suicidal fish who boasted about the superiority of his peers who made it to the cannery. I don’t even know if he’s still around, but I do know that good tuna is a real treat whether it’s white albacore whipped into a salad with mayonnaise and celery and maybe a little onion or belly tuna packed in olive oil and served as part of an antipasto or just a fresh tuna steak, seasoned, then seared on the outside and rare or raw on the inside.

Beyond these basic and familiar tuna preparations are myriad dishes that seem to emanate particularly from the Mediterranean countries and are real palate pleasers. An unusual summer sandwich is something called pan bagnat, French for “wet bread,” composed of tuna, olive oil, vinegar, tomatoes and anchovies plus variable other ingredients on crusty French bread. Now think about a fresh grilled tuna burger with wasabi mayonnaise or tonnato sauce, a creamy tuna emulsion that is as good as a dip as it is as a sauce.

Pan Bagnat

Pan Bagnat

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

One crisp-crusted baguette about 18 inches long

4 to 6 flat anchovies

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon coarse sea salt or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Two 6-ounce cans oil-packed tuna with their oil

One medium red onion, peeled and cut into thin rings

Two hard-boiled eggs, sliced thin

½ cup chopped Kalamata olives

One large firm ripe tomato, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS: Slice the baguette in half along its length. Scoop out enough of the soft part of the bread inside to make a well in each half. With a fork, evenly distribute the anchovies along the length of the bottom half of the bread. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and oil from tuna until it forms a creamy emulsion. Place the tuna, onion, eggs, olives and tomato in order given on top of anchovies. Drizzle oil mixture evenly over layered ingredients and immediately cover with top half of baguette. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, set on a flat surface at room temperature and weight down with a heavy skillet in which have been placed a couple of heavy cans or objects. Let sit at least two hours; then slice into four sandwiches. Serve with potato salad or chips, fruit and cheese and a light red wine or ice cold beer.

Tuna Burger with Wasabi Mayonnaise

Tuna Burger with Wasabi Mayonnaise

 

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

1 pound ahi or sushi-grade tuna, finely chopped

One egg, beaten ¼ cup minced onion

½ cup bread crumbs

Coarse sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon wasabi powder

1/4 cup mayonnaise

4 hamburger rolls

1 cup lettuce leaves, washed and dried

4 slices tomato

DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce and pepper flakes. Add tuna, egg, onion, bread crumbs and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and form into four patties, cover and refrigerate half an hour. Meanwhile, preheat grill on high and mix wasabi powder with two teaspoons warm water; add resulting paste to mayonnaise and mix thoroughly. Grill tuna patties one and a half minutes on each side for rare, longer for medium and well done. Place on bottom halves of rolls, top with lettuce and tomato and spread top halves with wasabi mayonnaise. Serve immediately with potato chips or french fries and cole slaw.

Tonnato (Tuna) Sauce or Dip

Tonnato Dip

YIELD: Makes 1½ cups

INGREDIENTS:

One 4-ounce jar Italian oil-packed tuna with oil

3 anchovy filets, chopped

1½ tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/3 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Puree all ingredients in electric food processor until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with crostini, potato chips, crackers, crudités or over simply seasoned pork, fish, chicken, veal or pasta.

By Barbara Beltrami

As June winds down, parties rev up to celebrate graduations, weddings, showers, reunions and everything in between. While hors d’oeuvres from supermarket and warehouse freezers are wonderful and handy, on a hot day nobody really wants to be stuck sliding trays in and out of an oven while everybody else is playing Marco Polo in the pool. Chips with salsa or guacamole may be the default munchies, but, because they are just that, they’re not fare for special occasions. Here are two recipes for hors d’oeuvres that are special but easy to put together and sure to please your guests. Each has at least one popular ingredient and makes a festive presentation as well as a delicious nibble. Picture bruschette with fresh tomatoes and arugula, ham rolls with melon and radishes and endive leaves stuffed with herbed goat cheese.

Bruschette with Fresh Tomatoes and Arugula

Bruschette with Fresh Tomatoes and Arugula

This is the go-to hors d’oeuvre with or without the arugula in many parts of Italy. It is pronounced “broo-skeh-tay.”

YIELD: Makes 12 bruschette

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped

12 basil leaves, chopped

Coarse salt and black pepper, to taste

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

12 fresh arugula leaves

12 slices crusty Italian bread

3 garlic cloves, peeled

DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl combine tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Place mixture in a strainer or colander and let stand at room temperature at least one hour to drain remaining juices. Place back in bowl, add olive oil and mix thoroughly. Preheat broiler, grill or oven. Toast bread until lightly browned and crisp on both sides, 5 to 10 minutes depending on heat temperature. Remove from heat and immediately rub each slice with garlic clove. Heap tomato mixture onto bread and place an arugula leaf on top. Serve warm or at room temperature with a chilled light and dry white wine, prosecco, iced tea, lemonade, beer, cocktails or sparkling water with lemon or lime.

Ham Rolls with Melon and Radishes

This is a takeoff on the ever popular melon and prosciutto. The saltiness of the ham, the sweetness of the melon and the crispness and heat of the radishes complement each other.

YIELD: Makes 18 rolls

INGREDIENTS:

18 very thin slices Virginia or Black Forest ham or prosciutto

18 half-inch-thick sticks cantaloupe or honeydew melon

2/3 cup shredded or finely chopped radishes

½ cup chopped basil

DIRECTIONS: On a tray, platter or board, lay out the ham slices, a few at a time. Place a melon stick at one edge of each slice, sprinkle with radishes and basil and roll tightly, starting at filled edge. If necessary insert one or two toothpicks to hold each roll together. Stack on plate or platter. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with beer, cocktails, rose or Beaujolais wine, sangria, iced tea, lemonade or flavored sparkling water.

Endive Leaves Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Herbs

Endive Leaves Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Herbs

This hors d’oeuvre is good in all seasons but especially in the summer when herbs are freshly picked and have intense flavors.

YIELD: Makes 18 to 24 pieces

INGREDIENTS:

Two endives

One 3- or 4-ounce log plain goat cheese, softened

3 to 4 ounces whipped cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons cream or milk

¼ cup chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

¼ cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

Salt and black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Tear or cut the endive leaves from the head; wash and dry. Arrange on platter. In a medium bowl, beat together the goat cheese, cream cheese, cream, herbs and salt and pepper. Spread mixture evenly among leaves. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with chilled dry white wine, cocktails, iced tea, lemonade, white sangria or chilled sparkling water with lemon or lime.

Strawberry Layer Cake

By Barbara Beltrami

Here it is the middle of June and finally the weather has caught up with the calendar. Despite all the rain and unseasonably cold weather that descended upon us at the beginning of the month, local strawberries, undaunted, have made their timely appearance, thank goodness.

Like most other fruits and vegetables, our local strawberries are so much more flavorful than the imported ones we get throughout the year. More sweet and juicy, they easily lend themselves to being eaten without any adornment. But if you insist, a little sugar and some heavy cream poured over them suffices. And if you want to make them the focus of a fancier dish, there are always plenty to choose from.

Although there are many who swear that strawberries are good in savory dishes such as strawberry risotto, strawberry-tomato soup, and strawberry-jalapeno-avocado salsa, give me a strawberry layer cake or a strawberry cheese tart with chocolate crumb.

Strawberry Layer Cake

Strawberry Layer Cake

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

5 to 6 egg whites (depending on size of eggs)

1/8 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ cup sifted cake flour

¾ cup sugar, sifted

1 quart strawberries, washed and dried

3 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup orange juice

1 pint heavy cream

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pint strawberry ice cream, slightly softened

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 10- by 5- by 3-inch loaf pan. Beat egg whites until frothy and just stiff enough to form peaks, but not dry; sprinkle salt and cream of tartar over top. Gradually and gently sift in ¾ cup of sugar with flour. Gradually add mixture into egg whites, folding it in as you do so. Turn into ungreased loaf pan and bake for 25 minutes or until done. Invert pan onto rack and let stand for one hour or until cool.

Meanwhile hull and slice half the strawberries (leave the remaining half whole but cut off stems); mash the sliced ones with 3 tablespoons sugar and orange juice. Using an electric mixer or egg beater, whip the cream with ¼ cup sugar and vanilla extract. Slice the cake into three layers; spread the mashed strawberries over one layer, then place second layer over them; spread the strawberry ice cream over that layer and top with the third layer. With a spatula spread the whipped cream over top and sides of cake and place whole strawberries, pointed end up, on top. Serve immediately with hot coffee or tea or ice cold milk.

Strawberry Cheesecake with Chocolate Crumb Crust

Strawberry Cheesecake with Chocolate Crumb Crust

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Nonstick cooking spray

¾ stick unsalted butter, melted

1 ounce semisweet baking chocolate

One 9-ounce package chocolate wafers, finely crumbled

One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 quart fresh strawberries, washed, dried and hulled

1/3 cup melted red currant jelly

DIRECTIONS: Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. In double boiler, melt butter and chocolate. In medium bowl, combine mixture with cookie crumbs. Press into pie plate. Refrigerate for one hour. In another medium bowl, gradually whisk together the cream cheese and milk; add lemon juice and vanilla and stir thoroughly. Pour into chilled pie crust; top with whole strawberries, pointed end up. Brush with jelly. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving with coffee, tea or milk.

Strawberry Margaritas

Strawberry Margaritas

 

YIELD: Makes 4 margaritas

INGREDIENTS:

1 quart fresh strawberries, washed, dried and sliced

2½ cups crushed ice

½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

¼ cup sugar

5 lime wedges

¼ cup orange liqueur

¼ cup coarsely ground sea salt

4 sprigs of mint

DIRECTIONS: In a blender, combine strawberries, ice, lime juice, sugar and orange liqueur. Pulse until smooth. Rub rim of each glass with a lime wedge, then turn glass upside down and dip in salt to coat. Pour into four cocktail glasses and garnish each glass with a lime wedge and sprig of mint. Serve with pesto crostini, salsa and tortilla chips, a wedge of manchego cheese, tacos, burritos or empanadas.

Rhubarb Pie

By Barbara Beltrami

Rhubarb. You either like it or you don’t. Or you never liked it when you were a kid, but now you do. Or maybe you’ve never even had it. But here it is growing and appearing in gardens or produce departments as another harbinger of spring into summer. It can be eaten raw or cooked, in a dessert, sauce, salsa or chutney; but it does require sugar as on its own it is very sour. And just remember: It’s the stalks you eat, not the leaves. They’re poisonous.

Most people think of rhubarb as strawberry’s other half. That’s probably because strawberries and rhubarb ripen pretty much simultaneously and do complement each other. There are lots of strawberry festivals going on and next week I will write about them. But for now, let’s just talk about rhubarb, for which there are no festivals that I know of. What a shame.

Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb Pie

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Two 9-inch or larger pie crusts, preferably homemade

5 cups washed, trimmed and sliced rhubarb

1¼ cups sugar

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Dash of nutmeg

Dash of cinnamon

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 450 F. Roll out one pie crust to a few inches larger than the bottom of the pie plate and drape the excess over the rim. In a large bowl, make the filling by mixing the rhubarb, sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Spread filling evenly over crust, dot with butter. Roll out the top crust the same way and place evenly over filling. Wet your fingers with ice water, then fold and press edges together on top of rim, and with a small pointed knife, make a few slits in the crust. Bake 15 minutes at 450 F, then another 20 to 25 minutes at 350 F. Pie is ready when crust is golden and some juice bubbles through slits. Serve with vanilla ice cream, sweetened whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Rhubarb Crumble

Rhubarb Crumble

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

For the topping:

1 cup flour

1/3 cup oats (not quick cooking)

¾ cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2/3 stick of unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup chopped almonds

For the rhubarb mixture:

Butter for greasing baking dish

2½–3 pounds rhubarb, washed, trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces (you should end up with about 2 pounds or 8 cups)

1/3 cup sugar

¼ cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375 F. Generously grease an 8-inch by 8-inch ceramic or glass baking dish. For the topping, in a medium bowl combine the flour, oats, sugar, salt, melted butter and almonds. Refrigerate one hour or until ready to use. For the rhubarb mixture, in a large bowl thoroughly combine the rhubarb, sugar, flour, vanilla extract, and salt. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle topping evenly over mixture and bake about 45 minutes or until top is golden and slightly crispy and filling is bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla or strawberry ice cream or whipped cream.

Rhubarb Sauce

Rhubarb Sauce

YIELD: Makes 2 to 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound rhubarb, washed, trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces

1/3–1/2 cup sugar or to taste

DIRECTIONS: In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, cook rhubarb and sugar together, stirring occasionally, until they reach a mushy but thick consistency, about 20 to 30 minutes. (Rhubarb will release a lot of water, but you can add about ¼ cup of water to start, if you wish.) That’s it! Serve on vanilla ice cream.

Quiche Lorraine

By Barbara Beltrami

Of all my memories from my travels, one of the clearest and most poignant is a picnic lunch on a riverbank in the Dordogne area of France. After a long walk through meadows and the cobblestoned streets of tiny villages, across bridges and down rutted roads, what our guide had told us would be a modest lunch prepared by his fiancée turned out to be an incredibly sumptuous feast of everything one fantasizes about in such a setting.

I still remember the platters of freshly cut melon with delicate slices of ham, local farm fresh cheeses and butter, pates with cornichons, thick slices of juicy homegrown tomatoes and fresh picked delicate greens with just a touch of vinaigrette, long crusty baguettes still warm from the oven, ruby red cherries and the piece de resistance — not one but three different quiches made, of course, with vegetables from their garden, eggs from their chickens and cream from their cow.

I’ve made many a fancy lunch and many a quiche in my day, but none will ever come close to those. I have neither the quality of ingredients nor that setting with its perfect ambiance. But I have often tried to imitate if not duplicate those quiches. The recipes that follow for Quiche Lorraine, Zucchini Quiche and Spinach and Mushroom Quiche are the closest I’ve gotten. Bon appétit!

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

 

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Pastry for one 9-inch pie

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

4 strips crispy cooked bacon, lightly crumbled

1 cup shredded Gruyere or Emmenthaler (Swiss) cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups half-and-half

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 450 F. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch quiche pan or pie plate with pastry and bake 5 minutes. In a small skillet, sauté onion in butter until softened and opaque. Sprinkle bacon, onion and cheeses over bottom of baked pastry. With a wire whisk thoroughly combine eggs, half-and-half, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Pour mixture onto pie crust. Bake the quiche 15 minutes at 450 F, then reduce oven temperature to 350 F and bake until a knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Serve hot or warm with onion soup, arugula salad and a French baguette.

Zucchini Quiche

Zucchini Quiche

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

One 9-inch pie crust

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2/3–¾ lb zucchini, washed, halved lengthwise then very thinly sliced crosswise

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1½ cups half-and-half

3 large eggs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 ounces Emmenthaler (Swiss), Jarlsberg or Gruyere cheese, shredded

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 450 F. Line bottom and sides of 9-inch quiche pan or pie dish with pie crust and bake 5 minutes. In large skillet melt butter; add oil. Add zucchini and onion and sauté until tender and just starting to turn golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. In medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the half-and-half, eggs and salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese, zucchini and onions evenly over bottom of crust. Pour in egg mixture. Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve with garlic bread and sliced tomatoes with olive oil, basil and vinegar.

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

One 9-inch pie crust

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup cleaned fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 cup cooked, drained and chopped fresh or frozen spinach

2/3 cup grated Emmenthaler (Swiss) cheese

1/3 cup crumbled blue or Roquefort cheese

1 3/4 cups half-and-half

3 eggs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 450 F. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch quiche pan or pie plate with crust and bake 5 minutes. In small skillet, melt butter, add mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat; add prepared spinach and toss with mushrooms and remaining melted butter to coat. Sprinkle evenly in pie dish, then sprinkle the two cheeses on top. In medium bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs and salt and pepper. Pour into pie plate. Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350 F and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve with a salad of fennel, endive, radicchio, fresh or dried fruits, chopped walnuts and a French baguette.

Spinach-Strawberry Salad

By Barbara Beltrami

I think that, after reminding ourselves what Memorial Day is really all about, most of us think of it as the official beginning of summer and the kickoff for the many backyard barbecues, beach parties and picnics that will follow. Amid the flags and parades and sales, there are the hot dogs and hamburgers, barbecued chicken, ribs and steaks, potato salads, macaroni salads and cole slaw. And never would I presume to give recipes for those three side dishes because there are as many “world’s best” as there are people who make them. Instead I’d like to offer you a few recipes for other salads that are a little different and real crowd pleasers. Enjoy the following recipes for a healthy rice salad and spinach-strawberry salad.

Spinach-Strawberry Salad

Spinach-Strawberry Salad

 

YIELD: Makes 10 to 12 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Two 10-ounce bags prewashed spinach, trimmed

1 quart fresh strawberries, washed, trimmed and quartered

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons orange juice

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

½ cup toasted pignoli nuts

DIRECTIONS: In a large salad bowl toss together the spinach and strawberries. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegars, honey, orange juice and salt and pepper until well emulsified. When ready to serve, whisk again and pour over spinach and strawberries; toss to coat thoroughly and sprinkle with pignoli nuts. Serve at room temperature with meat, fish, fowl or casseroles.

Rice Salad

Rice Salad

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups long grain white or brown rice

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

1 cup thinly sliced scallions

One medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano

1 teaspoon minced fresh mint

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Prepare the rice according to package directions; let cool to room temperature or lukewarm. Then toss with the olive oil and lemon juice. Let sit, covered, for 30 minutes. Add tomatoes, scallions, cucumber, parsley, oregano, mint, salt and pepper. Toss thoroughly. Serve at room temperature with lamb, beef, chicken or fish.

Pasta Primavera

By Barbara Beltrami

The daffodils, tulips, dogwoods and azaleas may be the first flowers of spring, but some vegetables are the first tastes of spring. Early peas, spinach, green onions, Swiss chard, asparagus and artichokes are but a few of the sprouts that become the first greens of the season. Although we have become spoiled and accustomed to out-of-season veggies from warmer climates, nothing from the produce department, unless it’s locally grown, compares to the pencil-thin asparagus, fresh peas and other young spring greens available at farmers markets and stands. And what better way to showcase and savor them than with pasta?

Celebrate spring with the following recipes: pasta primavera and spinach pasta with fresh cream, peas, and Gorgonzola.

Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

YIELD: Makes four to six servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 large artichokes (see preparation instructions)*

1 large lemon, halved

½ lb Swiss chard, large stems removed and leaves cut into one-inch strips

1 lb very thin asparagus, tough bottoms removed, tops cut into one-inch pieces

1 lb peas in pods, shelled

1 bunch scallions, very green top parts removed, and remaining parts cut into half-inch slices

1 lb pasta of your choice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 ounces prosciutto or pancetta diced

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS: Wash and prepare vegetables. In a large pot, put pasta water on to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Place prosciutto or pancetta with oil in medium saucepan over medium heat and sauté for 5 minutes; add the scallions and sauté for 5 minutes more. Drain the artichokes and add them, along with the Swiss chard, asparagus and peas to the pan. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes stirring occasionally, until artichokes are tender. Add broth as more liquid is needed; add salt and pepper. Combine with cooked pasta and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with crusty Italian bread and extra virgin olive oil.

*Trim all the tough outer leaves from the artichokes until the lighter colored inner leaves with large green tips are exposed. Snap off green parts. When leaves have only small green tips, lay artichoke on its side and slice them off. Cut artichoke into quarters and with a small knife, cut out fuzzy, rough choke. Once choke is removed, cut each quarter into thirds. Place the pieces, as you prepare them, in a bowl of cold water with the lemon halves and let sit for half an hour while you slice up other vegetables.

Spinach Pasta with Peas, Gorgonzola Cheese and Cream

Spinach Pasta with Peas, Gorgonzola Cheese
and Cream

YIELD: Makes four servings

INGREDIENTS:

1¼ cup freshly shelled peas

3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, diced

1 1/3 cup cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 lb spinach linguine or fettuccine

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS: In a small saucepan cook peas in boiling salted water until tender but still bright green. Drain, place in bowl of ice water and set aside. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, melt the Gorgonzola, stirring constantly. Stir in cream. Thoroughly drain the peas and add them along with the salt and pepper. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente or barely resistant to the bite. Drain and in a large bowl, combine with sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley. Toss and serve immediately with an arugula and cherry tomato salad with a light oil and vinegar dressing.

Frittata with Goat Cheese, Tomato and Chives

By Barbara Beltrami

Take it from me, a longtime mom — of all the Mother’s Day celebrations and gifts I’ve received over the years, breakfast in bed was the best. While fancy restaurant brunches were a treat, they were prepared by a stranger. But the ones cooked at home by the people I love were endearingly special.

Awakened by the clatter of dishes, pots and pans and quarreling voices, I would lie in bed obsessing over what kind of a mess I’d find in the kitchen. Then, when I heard the tentative knock and loud whispers outside my door, I feigned sleep, then a yawny surprise as the miniature chefs ever so carefully placed a tray on my lap. I had raised them right. Alongside pancakes, muffins or waffles there was always a flower in a bud vase, a pretty cloth napkin and a garnish on each plate.

Here are three recipes that range from super easy for little hands to a bit more complicated with help from bigger hands for a Mother’s Day breakfast in bed. Whether you use them all or just one or two, if you don’t forget to add a steaming mug of her favorite coffee or tea, I can guarantee you Mom will be delighted. And … be sure to clean up afterward!

Frittata with Goat Cheese, Tomato and Chives

For little hands to prepare and big hands to cook

Frittata with Goat Cheese, Tomato and Chives

YIELD: Makes one serving

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons butter

2 large eggs

One tablespoon cream or milk

2 ounces goat cheese, diced

3 to 4 cherry tomatoes, washed and sliced thin

¼ cup chopped fresh chives

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 whole chives, washed and trimmed

1 cherry tomato, washed and sliced in half

DIRECTIONS: Adjust oven racks so that top rack is about one-third of way down the oven. Preheat oven to broil. In a small ovenproof skillet, melt the butter, tilting the pan until bottom and sides are well coated. Beat the eggs with the cream until they start to look foamy with bubbles around the outside. Stir in goat cheese, tomato slices, chives, salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into hot skillet and cook over medium heat; with metal or wooden spatula lift the cooked edges and let the liquid mixture flow down and around. When almost completely cooked except for a wobbly liquid center, place skillet on top rack of oven. Leave oven door slightly ajar and broil until top is light golden and center springs back when pressed. Slide frittata onto a plate and garnish with whole chives and halved cherry tomato. Serve with popovers, buttered toast or toasted English muffin.

Berry and Yogurt Parfait

For little hands

Berry and Yogurt Parfait

YIELD: Makes 1 serving

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup fresh blackberries

1/3 cup fresh raspberries

1/3 cup fresh blueberries

8 ounces vanilla yogurt

1 sprig mint for garnish

DIRECTIONS: Rinse berries in cold water and drain thoroughly. In a small bowl, gently mix them together. In a tall glass or wine glass, place two tablespoons of yogurt, then top with two tablespoons berries. Repeat until all the berries and yogurt have been used. Top with a sprig of mint. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with a popover, a frittata or a granola bar.

Popovers

For little hands with help from bigger hands (especially when using the oven)

Popovers

YIELD: Makes 5 to 10 popovers (depending on size of muffin cups)

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

2 large eggs

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 425 F. Generously grease muffin tin that has large cups. In medium bowl beat all ingredients together just until smooth. Do not overbeat. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, until deep golden on outside. Serve immediately with jam, butter or honey.

Lemon Souffle

By Barbara Beltrami

Well into my cooking years, the idea of making a soufflé had always terrified me. I don’t remember when but at some point I learned that the famous dish with the reputation of being a success standard for any real cook originated in France in the early 18th century. I do remember being astounded. Really? The early 1700s?

So I decided right then and there that if they could make soufflés way back then with relatively primitive implements and heat, surely, armed with my electric mixer and oven and my trusty “New York Times Cook Book,” so could I. Hey, it was just some beaten eggs with a few other ingredients added, right?

I started with a cheese soufflé, then as I gained courage and confidence, I experimented with other recipes. That is not to say that I didn’t have some real flops along the way, but when those soufflés came out of the oven looking and tasting like the real thing, I couldn’t have been prouder. Here are the recipes that worked for me.

Cheese Soufflé

Cheese Souffle

YIELD: 4 small or 2 large servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 eggs, separated

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly butter a 7-inch soufflé dish. In a saucepan melt butter, then add flour and stir with a wire whisk until thoroughly blended. In another saucepan bring milk to a boil and, stirring vigorously, add all at once to flour mixture. Stir in cheese. Beat egg yolks, then once the cheese has melted, add a little of the hot mixture to them; mix and, stirring constantly, return slowly to the saucepan. Beat the egg whites until stiff and gently but thoroughly fold them into the cheese mixture. Pour mixture into soufflé dish and bake until fairly firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Serve immediately.

Lemon Soufflé

Lemon Souffle

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 eggs, separated

¼ cup hot water

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons lemon zest

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter bottom and sides of one-and-a-half quart soufflé dish and sprinkle with sugar. Beat yolks until thick; gradually add hot water and continue beating with a wire whisk. Beating thoroughly after each addition, gradually add sugar. Add salt, lemon zest and juice and fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Turn into soufflé dish and place dish in a pan of hot water. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, until golden and fairly firm. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Soufflé

Chocolate Souffle

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

¾ cup milk

Pinch salt

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cold strong coffee

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

4 egg whites, stiffly beaten

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a two-quart soufflé dish, then sprinkle bottom and sides with sugar. In a saucepan melt butter, add flour and stir with a wire whisk until blended. In another saucepan, bring milk to a boil and, stirring vigorously with the wire whisk, add all at once to the butter-flour mixture; add salt. In a double boiler with the water hot, but not boiling, melt the chocolate with the sugar and the coffee; stir into sauce, add vanilla and beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Cool, then fold in beaten egg whites and turn mixture into soufflé dish. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, until puffy and brown. Serve immediately.

Roasted Salmon with Soy Sauce, Brown Sugar and Orange Juice

By Barbara Beltrami

It seems that these days there’s hardly a restaurant menu that doesn’t offer salmon in some form. And there is hardly a supermarket with a fish department or a fish monger that doesn’t display salmon front and center. It’s easy to see why. First of all, because of its nutritional value as a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, potassium, B vitamins and selenium among others, it can hardly be ignored as a staple for a healthy diet.

Additionally it’s among the tastiest and most versatile of fish in that it lends itself easily to myriad flavors and preparations. I like it so much and cook it so often that it’s difficult for me to choose just three recipes to share with you. But here it goes. First is salmon cakes, a hearty salmon chowder and finally a roasted salmon with soy sauce, brown sugar and orange.

Salmon Cakes

Salmon Cakes

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup unsalted butter

1/3 cup minced onion

1 tablespoon minced green pepper

1/3 cup minced celery

1 pound cooked fresh salmon, flaked

¾ cup unflavored bread crumbs

1 tablespoon chopped chives

¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

2 eggs, beaten

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Lemon wedges

DIRECTIONS: In a medium skillet, melt one tablespoon of the butter, then add the onion, green pepper and celery. Cook, over medium heat, stirring frequently, until onion is transparent. Cool mixture slightly, then place in a medium bowl and add salmon. Stir in the bread crumbs, chives, parsley, eggs, salt and pepper. Shape into four patties and chill for one hour. Heat remaining butter in skillet; add salmon cakes and cook over medium heat, turning once, until both sides are golden and centers are heated through. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serve with tartar sauce, french fries and cole slaw.

Salmon Chowder

Salmon Chowder

YIELD: 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups milk

¼ cup unsalted butter

¼ cup chopped onion

¼ cup chopped celery

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup tomato juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound cooked fresh salmon, skin and bones removed, coarsely flaked

3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

DIRECTIONS: In a small saucepan heat milk to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter, then sauté the onions and celery until soft and opaque, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour. Add hot milk and, stirring constantly, continue cooking over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened. Stir in tomato juice, salt and pepper. Add salmon and heat but do not boil. Sprinkle with parsley and dill and serve immediately. Serve with crackers, preferably saltines.

Roasted Salmon with Soy Sauce, Brown Sugar and Orange Juice

Roasted Salmon with Soy Sauce, Brown Sugar and Orange Juice

YIELD: 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Nonstick cooking spray

One 1.5 pound piece fresh salmon, cut into 4 equal portions

3 tablespoon soy sauce

2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

One small garlic clove, bruised

2 teaspoons orange zest

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange salmon pieces on foil. In a small bowl whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, orange juice, oil, garlic, orange zest and pepper. Remove garlic clove and discard. Carefully drizzle the mixture onto the salmon. Place baking sheet in top half of oven and roast for about 12 minutes, more or less depending on how you like your salmon cooked. Serve with broccoli rabe, spinach, Swiss chard or bok choy and rice.

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