Food & Drink

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.

Tea Time

The Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society will host a Victorian Tea at the Fitz-Greene Hallock Homestead (1888), 2869 Pond Road, Lake Ronkonkoma on Saturday, July 21 with seatings at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Come enjoy a Victorian-style tea with scones, clotted cream, assorted finger sandwiches and sweets. $25 donation requested. To reserve your seat, please call 631-588-7599.

Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc, 2016 (Sonoma, California): Perfumed bouquet loaded with honeysuckle, melon and stone fruit. Flavors of dill, pineapple, citrus and passion fruit. Don’t miss a bottle. Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

As an author and professional taster, I generally taste and evaluate more than 100 alcoholic beverages (wine, spirits, beer and sake) per week. Some are good, some are very good to excellent, while others are not very good. During the last month I had an opportunity to taste some very interesting wines and spirits that I’d like to share with you.

Moletto Grappa di Prosecco, Italy (80 proof): Crystal clear with a delicate, refined and perfumed bouquet of pears, fennel and chamomile flowers. Surprisingly smooth with hints of ginger, orange and apples. Serve slightly chilled.

Lazzaroni Amaro Liqueur, Italy: Dark brown colored with an intense bouquet of ginger, spices, cloves, rhubarb and cola. Semisweet with flavors of peppermint, black pepper, herbs and a touch of bitterness. Great over ice or as a tall drink with some sparkling mineral water.

Laird’s Straight Applejack 1780, Scobeyville, New Jersey (86 proof): Made from an astonishing 17 pounds of apples including Winesap, Fuji, Red and Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Granny Smith and Jonathan. Amber colored with overtones of baked apples and cider. Very complex and full tasting with flavors of apples, burnt sugar, vanilla and orange peel. Warming, smooth finish and very long aftertaste. I love this straight with some ice cubes with perhaps a splash of water. Superb!

Richland Single Estate Rum, Georgia, USA: Made from pure sugarcane grown in Georgia. Amber colored with a distinctive bouquet and flavor of cinnamon, grass, vanilla, nutmeg, maple syrup and spices. Smooth with virtually no burn. Excellent rum.

Absolut Ruby Red Vodka (Sweden): I am a Scotch n’ soda drinker and generally don’t drink “clear spirits” with seltzer. Boy was I surprised when I added ice and seltzer, then gave it a stir with my swizzle stick and brought it to my nose. Powerful aromas of grapefruit abounded. I drank deeply and was rewarded with flavors of grapefruit that continued well into the second sip. Absolutely (pardon the pun) delicious!

Hecht & Bannier Côtes de Provence Rosé, 2017, France (blend of grenache, cinsaut and vermentino): Dry and very clean with flavors of strawberries, red cherries and plums and a lingering berry aftertaste. Perfect for summertime!

Steele Zinfandel Pacini Vineyard, 2015,  Lake County, California (aged 12 months in oak): Bouquet and flavor of spicy cherries, cranberry cola and menthol with undertones of vanilla, nutmeg and dried plums. Big mouthful of a well-made wine.

Rei Manfredi Bianco, 2017, Basilicata, Italy (blend of Müller-Thurgau and Gewürztraminer): Really perfumed with citrus overtones and flavors of litchi, jasmine and tropical fruit.

Rapitalà Piano Maltese, 2017, Sicily, Italy (blend of catarratto, grillo and chardonnay): Dry, clean and crispy with an aroma and flavor of citrus, pears, delicious apples and roasted almonds. Slightly tart with a wonderful aftertaste.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

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. 

Store bottles with corks horizontal to keep the cork wet. Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

“A man, fallen on hard times, sold his art collection but kept his wine cellar. When asked why he did not sell his wine, he said, ‘A man can live without art, but not without culture.’” — Author Unknown

Wines are best stored at a temperature of 52 to 55˚F, which is perfect for those who have temperature-controlled cellars or perhaps live in old castles with stone foundations. However, most people live in homes or apartments that are kept at a constant 68 to 72˚F, which creates storage problems.

Find the coolest spot in your home or apartment and keep your wines there. Prefabricated wine racks are fine, providing they keep bottles in a horizontal position, so the wine will always stay in contact with the cork.

If you purchase red wines that need aging and you don’t have a perfect wine cellar, these wines will mature at a slightly faster rate at warm temperatures. For example, if the recommended maturity of a red wine is 10 years, keeping it at warmer temperatures will advance the maturity date by maybe a year or so at most.

Most red wines are best enjoyed within four to seven years after the vintage date, while white wines within three years after vintage date. The exception are full-bodied, tannic red wines (including port), which will benefit from aging.

Wine’s longevity can be attributed to many factors, among them higher acidity, high alcohol, carbon dioxide, concentrated fruit, sugar (residual) and tannin, which is an antioxidant. 

For the proper storage and aging of wines:

•Ideal storage temperature is 52 to 55°F; no light; 55 to 65 percent humidity; no vibrations. Avoid kitchen, above the refrigerator or garage storage, which can be quite hot.

•Store bottles with corks horizontal to keep the cork wet. Avoid upside down storage, which may lead to leaking corks. Upright storage of “still” wines results in dried corks.

•Storing champagne and sparkling wine upright will keep it fresher and lasting longer.

•An empty corrugated cardboard wine or liquor box turned on its side makes a handy “wine rack.” Drainage tiles and concrete blocks are also ideal.

•Sparkling wines and champagne should be consumed soon after purchasing. The exception are the vintage-dated bottlings, which should be consumed within 10 years of the vintage date.

My aging rules are simple; I’d rather open a bottle of a young wine and say, “It tastes good now but will be better in ‘X’ years” rather than opening a bottle of wine aged for many years and say, “It was probably good several years ago, but now it’s over-the-hill!”

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

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