Tags Posts tagged with "Barbara Beltrami"

Barbara Beltrami

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

By Barbara Beltrami

I think carrots may well be one of the top unsung heroes of the American pantry. Could it be because when we were kids we were admonished to eat our carrots so we could see in the dark? Or because they were accompaniments to the peas that we had to eat or we wouldn’t get dessert? Even cookbooks don’t give much attention to carrots. OK, so they’re not one of those veggies that have come into popularity after prior obscurity. But for me, the carrots are the best part of a pot roast gravy. They’re great with fresh herbs, lemon and butter. Never mind carrot-ginger soup; try cream of carrot soup. And who doesn’t like carrot cake? They’re the golden veggie.

Carrots with Fresh Dill, Lemon and Butter

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings.


1 pound fresh carrots, trimmed and peeled

Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

½ stick unsalted butter

Freshly squeezed juice of half a small lemon

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill


Cut carrots into half-inch diagonal slices; sprinkle with salt and pepper; steam until tender, but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Melt butter; in small bowl combine with lemon juice and dill. Place carrots in a serving dish and toss with butter mixture. Serve with meat, poultry or fish.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

YIELD: Makes 10 to 12 servings.


3 cups flour

3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1½ cups vegetable oil

4 large eggs, slightly beaten

11/3 cups chopped walnuts

1½ cups shredded zucchini

2 cups pureed cooked carrots

½ pound softened cream cheese

6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Dash vanilla extract

Freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon


For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch round layer cake pans with waxed paper, then grease with butter. In a large bowl sift dry ingredients; add oil and eggs; beat well; then stir in walnuts, zucchini and carrots. Pour into prepared pans; place on middle rack of oven and bake about half an hour, until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks; when cool, transfer to cake plate and frost.

For the frosting: In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter; sift in the confectioners’ sugar and beat until thoroughly incorporated and smooth. Stir in vanilla and lemon juice. Spread between layers, on sides and top of cake. Serve with coffee, tea or milk.

Cream of Carrot Soup

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings.


1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 cups vegetable broth

2 cups water

1 pound carrots, cleaned and peeled

½ cup half-and-half

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley


In a large pot melt the butter in the olive oil. Add onion, cover and cook, stirring halfway through, until onion is transparent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add broth, water and carrots, and over high heat bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes. In bowl of food processor, puree carrots in small batches, if necessary; return them to liquid, stir to combine thoroughly and transfer back to pot; stir in half-and-half and salt and pepper over low heat until mixture is just hot but not boiling; ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately with a well-chilled sauvignon blanc.

Meatball Heroes

By Barbara Beltrami

No matter who your team is, a tailgate picnic before the game heightens the anticipation and feeds the spirit. First you need to pack lots of crisp juicy apples and several kinds of munchies. You’ll want thermoses of hot tea and coffee as well as coolers of ice cold drinks. And then hefty sandwiches accompanied by cole slaw or a mixed green salad and something decadent, sweet and salty for dessert. Personally, I think nothing lends itself to that challenge like meatball heroes. Served up with some cheese-stuffed jalapenos to start and some pretzel brownies to finish, it’s a winner of a tailgate meal. 

Cheese-stuffed Jalapenos

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


¼ pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated

¼ pound cream cheese at room temperature

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons snipped chives

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pinch of cayenne

12 jalapeno peppers washed

3 tablespoons olive oil


Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl thoroughly combine the cheeses, sour cream, cilantro, chives, salt and pepper and cayenne. Wearing disposable food prep gloves split the jalapenos in half lengthwise and remove seeds and ribs; rub both sides with olive oil and place in baking dish. With a table fork, press the cheese mixture into each half of the jalapenos. Bake until mixture just starts to bubble and brown and peppers are tender, about 15 minutes.

Meatball Heroes

Meatball Heroes

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


Nonstick olive oil cooking spray

1½ pounds ground beef

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 large eggs

1 small onion, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ cup unflavored breadcrumbs

2 slices white bread, soaked in water until soggy, then torn into one-inch pieces

½ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

Pinch baking soda

¼ cup olive oil

1½ crusty baguettes, cut into 6 sections


Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. In large bowl thoroughly combine the beef, cheese, eggs, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, bread, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Roll mixture into two-inch balls and place evenly on baking sheet. Roast 15 minutes, turning once, until both sides are brown. Meanwhile, in large saucepan heat tomatoes, baking soda and olive oil over medium heat until gently bubbling; place meatballs in tomato sauce, cover and simmer, gently stirring occasionally, one and a half hours or until sauce is reduced and thickened; add salt and pepper to taste. Horizontally split the six sections of baguette, distribute the meatballs and sauce evenly on bottom halves, cover with top halves and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. 

Pretzel Brownies

YIELD: Makes 1 dozen large brownies.


2 sticks + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

¼ cup sweetened cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

1¼ cups flour

¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups salted pretzel sticks, broken up


Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium-large saucepan over low heat, melt the two sticks butter with the bittersweet chocolate, whisking occasionally until smooth. Whisk in cocoa powder; add sugar and vanilla extract; stir in eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour until partially incorporated, then add chocolate chips and stir just until everything is thoroughly combined. Grease bottom and sides of 9×13-inch baking pan with the remaining tablespoon butter. Spread half the pretzels evenly in bottom of pan, then carefully spread batter (which will be stiff) evenly over pretzels, finally sprinkle remaining pretzels evenly over batter. Bake about 40 minutes, until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Apple Nut Loaf

By Barbara Beltrami

Veggies and fruits and flowers piled in pyramids and spilling out of bushel baskets, their perfumes rewarding summer’s work and heralding its end, holding on to summer and portending autumn turn me into a kid in a candy shop.

I know that when I talk about farm stands I tend to wax rhapsodic. I can’t help it. When I am anywhere that I can pick up the scent of ripe tomatoes ready for slicing or saucing; anywhere that I can indulge myself in bright bouquets of zinnias, asters, mums, Montauk daisies, statice and sunflowers; anywhere I can grab bunches of beets, kohlrabi, broccoli, eggplants, beans, squash, cucumbers, corn and peppers for pickling; anywhere I can get pears, peaches,plums, apples and quinces for pies and preserves, I get out of control.

I bring them home, arrange them in bowls and baskets because I love to look at them and also because refrigeration steals much of their flavor and texture. So I use them up quickly while they’re at their peak. Some I just wash and eat raw; others get sauteed, steamed, grilled or baked; and still others become soups, stews, sauces and relishes, chutneys, cakes and compotes to freeze or preserve and savor while Mother Earth sleeps and we dream our winter dreams.

Eggplant Caviar

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


2 pounds eggplant

1 garlic clove

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

Coarse salt and black pepper to taste

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

10 fresh plum tomatoes; peeled, seeded and juiced


Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise; score their cut surfaces with a sharp knife; place on cookie sheet, cut side up, 25 minutes or until pulp is very soft; set aside to cool. With a spoon scoop out pulp and drain in a mesh drainer 15 minutes. Reserve half of eggplant skin, then cut into large pieces; puree with garlic and basil in food processor; add drained eggplant pulp, salt and pepper and half the oil; pulse a few times to combine and form a coarse puree; transfer to serving bowl and chill well. Puree tomato pulp and juice with remaining one-quarter cup oil and salt and pepper to taste; place in small bowl as accompaniment to eggplant. Serve the same day with toasted Italian bread and extra virgin olive oil.

Apple Nut Loaf

Apple Nut Loaf


YIELD: Makes one loaf.


2 cups peeled, cored chopped apples

2 tablespoons boiling water

1 teaspoon plus one small pinch of salt

2 cups flour

¾ cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon sugar


Preheat oven to 350 F. Place apple slices in a small heavy saucepan with the water and pinch of salt; simmer until apples are tender but not mushy; puree and set aside to cool. In a large bowl thoroughly combine the remaining teaspoon salt, flour, the ¾ cup of sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon; stir in walnuts. In medium bowl combine pureed apples with oil and egg; stir into dry mixture just enough to moisten. Turn into a greased 9- × 5- × 3-inch loaf pan, sprinkle top surface with the tablespoon sugar and bake one hour or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Serve slightly warm with butter or apple butter.

Lizzie’s Corn Relish

Corn Relish

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 pints.


12 ears fresh corn

10 cups chopped green cabbage

3 yellow or red bell peppers, chopped

3 onions, chopped

8 cups apple cider vinegar

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons salt

1/4 cup mustard seeds


Remove kernels from ears of corn; separate any that stick together. In a very large nonreactive pot combine all ingredients; bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour into hot sterilized pint jars and seal. Process in boiling water bath for 15 to 20  minutes. With rubber-tipped tongs remove jars from bath and set aside to cool. Check that all jars have sealed; refrigerate any that have not sealed within 12 hours and use as soon as possible. Store sealed jars in a cool, dark dry place until ready to serve with meat, poultry or fish.

Classic Cole Slaw

By Barbara Beltrami

Ever wonder where the name coleslaw comes from? I did; so I Googled it and here’s what I found. In the 18th century it arose as a partial translation of the Dutch “koolsalade,” which became “koolsla,” meaning cabbage salad. In England it originally was called cold slaw, but in the 1860s the cole meaning cabbage came back into use. Like so many popular dishes, the classic version comprised of shredded cabbage and carrots has as many versions as people who make it. And in recent years as our veggie horizons have expanded, it’s not just cabbage. Slaw can now be made from jicama, broccoli, kohlrabi, zucchini, beets and fennel … and that’s mentioning just a few of the versions I’ve tasted or seen. Truth be told, I still prefer the classic coleslaw but the other three recipes below run a close second.

Classic Coleslaw

Classic Cole Slaw

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings


1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar or honey

1 teaspoon celery seeds

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

½ head green cabbage, very thinly sliced or coarsely shredded

½ head red cabbage very thinly sliced or coarsely shredded

3 medium carrots, peeled and shredded

1 to 2 tablespoons grated onion


In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, celery seeds and salt and pepper. Add cabbage, carrots and onion and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 6 hours until ready to serve.

Beet Slaw

Beet Slaw

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon raspberry vinegar

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

½ tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 medium beets, peeled and grated

1 carrot, peeled and grated

2 cups red cabbage, very thinly sliced

1 small onion, grated

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves


In a large bowl whisk together the oil, vinegars, marmalade, mustard, horseradish, salt and pepper. Add the beets, carrot, cabbage, onion and thyme; toss to coat thoroughly. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving.

Jicama Slaw

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings


½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons honey or sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 garlic clove, peeled and bruised

1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves

1 large jicama, peeled and finely shredded

½ head green cabbage, trimmed and thinly sliced or shredded

2 carrots, shredded


In large bowl, whisk together lime juice, vinegar, chili power, honey, oil, coriander, salt and pepper and garlic clove; let sit one hour; remove and discard garlic clove. Add cilantro, jicama, cabbage and carrots; toss to coat thoroughly. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving.

Zucchini Slaw

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


¼ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1½ tablespoons honey or sugar

½ cup chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

5 small zucchini, shredded

1 yellow or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and julienned

1 celery rib, minced

Kernels from 3 ears fresh corn

2 medium fresh tomatoes, diced


In a large bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, oil, vinegar, honey, basil, oregano and salt and pepper. Add the zucchini, bell pepper, celery and corn; toss to coat thoroughly. Just before serving add tomatoes and toss again.

Shrimp Dumpling Soup with Greens

By Barbara Beltrami

You may be wondering why I seldom write about Asian cuisine. It’s simple; I don’t know very much about it and have cooked it infrequently. However, with the spate of Asian restaurants springing up everywhere, I’ve had more occasion to dine on that cuisine. In turn, with the help of cookbooks and the internet I’ve tried to duplicate or at least imitate some of my favorite dishes, especially the soups, so rich in umami flavor. I have developed a yen (pardon the pun) for Japanese ramen, Chinese dumpling soup and my longtime favorite, hot and spicy soup.

The recipes I’ve developed may not be, by Asian standards, very authentic, but to me they taste pretty much like the genuine thing.

Shrimp Dumpling Soup with Greens

Shrimp Dumpling Soup with Greens

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


¾ pound fresh shrimp in shells, peeled and deveined

1½ tablespoons peeled very finely minced fresh ginger

4 tablespoons minced scallions

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon dry sherry

1 tablespoon sesame oil

¼ cup finely minced canned water chestnuts

50 wonton wrappers

3½ cups minced, trimmed fresh baby bok choy

8 cups chicken stock or broth


In food processor bowl blend shrimp, ginger, scallions, salt, pepper, sherry and oil to a smooth paste.; stir in water chestnuts. In large pot, bring unsalted water to steady simmer. Lightly brush edges of wonton wrapper with water; place half a teaspoon of filling in center, then pinch corners shut to form a little pouch.

When all wrappers are filled poach them for one and a half minutes in simmering water, remove with slotted spoon, drain well and spread on large platter. Blanch bok choy in dumpling water 10 to 15 seconds, drain, then immerse in ice water, drain again and press gently to remove excess water.

In a large pot, bring chicken stock to steady simmer, gently add dumplings and cook for a minute or so to heat them through. Serve soup hot with fried noodles or spring rolls.

Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom and Ramen Noodle Soup

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


10 cups water

1 pound chicken tenders, diced

1 tablespoon fresh chopped peeled ginger

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

1 bunch scallions, cleaned and thinly sliced

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

1 carrot, peeled and diced

3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons sesame oil

4 tablespoons light (not too salty) miso

3 ounces dried brown rice ramen noodles

½ pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 medium zucchini, diced

1/3 pound green beans, cleaned and sliced

10 ounces tofu, diced

2 cups broccoli florets and peeled stems, thinly sliced

¾ pound fresh spinach, washed and chopped


In a large pot, simmer together the water, chicken, ginger, pepper and soy sauce for 15 minutes; discard ginger but retain liquid. In a large skillet over medium heat saute scallions, onion, carrot and garlic in sesame oil for 5 minutes, until onion is transparent and carrot is somewhat tender; toss with soy sauce. Transfer to pot with liquid; add miso, stir and bring to a boil. Add ramen noodles, mushrooms, zucchini, green beans, tofu and broccoli; return to boil and cook 5 minutes; add spinach and simmer one or two minutes. Serve immediately with a dry white wine or saki.

Spicy Hot Northern Chinese Soup

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


½ cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons finely minced garlic

2 to 2½ teaspoons finely minced hot peppers (serrano or other)

1 tablespoon finely minced peeled fresh ginger

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper

7 cups chicken stock

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro


In a large saucepan heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, peppers and ginger and saute until soft but not browned. Add breadcrumbs and stir well to combine with garlic mixture; add cayenne and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes; add lime juice, salt and pepper. When ready to serve, being very careful not to let soup boil, very slowly and gently stir in beaten eggs and cilantro. Serve immediately with fried rice, green tea and lots of ice cold water!

Oven-Fried Chicken

By Barbara Beltrami

You’re probably wondering why I hardly ever write about chicken. In fact, several people have asked me that, and I can answer only that there are so many chicken recipes in magazines and cookbooks and on the internet that it’s seemed superfluous. However, a recent menu planning experience has convinced me otherwise.

At my wit’s end to accommodate those who didn’t eat red meat or were allergic to fish, I found myself scouring my files for recipes and realized that there’s always such a good old standby whose myriad ways of preparation have rescued many a cook, tantalized many a guest and certainly saved the day for me.

There are three recipes here: one for the cook top, one for the grill and one for the oven, so depending on the weather, your mood and what else you have on hand, you can choose your preparation. That’s the great thing about chicken; there are so many ways to prepare it that you can’t go wrong. In fact, I think I’m going to do a column on chicken more often.

Summer Chicken Stew

YIELD: Makes 3 to 4 servings


One 3½-pound chicken cut into 8 pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Flour for dredging

½ cup olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 small eggplant, diced

1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced

¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or basil

2 large fresh tomatoes, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

¾ cup dry white wine


Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge it in flour. In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup oil over medium heat. Fry chicken, turning pieces once, until both sides are golden; remove to large saucepan. Discard oil and add remaining ¼ cup oil to pan; add onion, eggplant, bell pepper and herbs and saute stirring frequently, over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes.

Transfer to saucepan with chicken, add tomatoes, garlic and wine and mix thoroughly. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally and adding ½ cup water at a time, if needed, until chicken and veggies are done, about 45 minutes. Serve with orzo and a summer lettuce salad.

Pesto Grilled Chicken

YIELD: Makes 3 to 4 servings


4 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves

2 garlic cloves

½ cup olive oil

½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

½ cup pignoli nuts

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

One 3½-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces


Place basil, garlic, oil, grated cheese, pignoli nuts and salt and pepper in bowl of electric food processor and puree, scraping bowl often, until smooth and medium green in color. Heat grill to medium-hot. In large bowl toss chicken pieces with pesto until evenly coated. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Let sit and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grill chicken, turning occasionally, until skin is crispy and slightly charred and juices run clear when thigh is pierced with a knife, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and corn on the cob.

Oven-Fried Chicken

Oven-Fried Chicken

YIELD: Makes 3 to 4 servings


One 3½-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces

3 cups buttermilk

1½ cups unseasoned breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or oregano

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Place chicken in a large bowl and pour buttermilk over it; let sit to marinate at room temperature 30 minutes. In a wide shallow bowl or pan, thoroughly combine breadcrumbs, herbs and salt and pepper. Dip chicken pieces in breadcrumb mixture to thoroughly coat on both sides; place on greased baking sheet and let sit 15 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 375 F. Bake chicken until juices run clear when thigh is pierced with a sharp knife, about 35 to 40 minutes. Serve hot with cole slaw and mashed potatoes.

Cherry Fool. Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Those peaches and nectarines blushed their way into your heart. The plums looked like 1,000-karat rubies and amethysts. The cherries, at least the one you sneaked a sample of, burst with flavor as you bit into it. So you bought them and brought them home and piled them in your favorite bowl. Then you waited for them to ripen.

And one day they did, all at once. So you ate a few, maybe made a fruit salad. And then they turned wrinkled and blemished and mushy and reminded you what an incurable impulse buyer you are. But don’t worry. There are some wonderful ways to use less than perfect summer stone fruit such as peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and cherries.

You can put them in a saucepan with a little water or wine and sugar and cook them into a fruit compote. Or bake them with some butter, sugar, flour and oatmeal. You can make a crisp or a cobbler, a pie or a pudding, a fool or a tart. And no matter what you do, it’s a good idea to have plenty of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on hand.

Fruit Crisp

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


8 cups chopped stone fruit

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Butter for greasing baking dish

1/3 cup flour

¼ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces


Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl toss together fruit, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Transfer to greased 2 to 2½ quart or 9 × 13 nonreactive baking dish. In a food processor combine flour, brown sugar, salt, oats and butter until mixture has a coarse texture. Sprinkle evenly over fruit. Bake about 60 minutes, until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden. Cool on wire rack one hour or until very warm but not hot. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Fruit Fool

Cherry Fool. Stock photo

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


1 pound stone fruit, pitted and sliced or chopped

3 tbl granulated sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 tbl confectioners’ sugar

Dash vanilla extract

Fresh mint leaves


In a large saucepan combine fruit and granulated sugar; add just enough water to barely cover. Bring mixture to boil, then let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the fruit is very tender. Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate 30 minutes. In a large bowl, whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form but don’t let it get too stiff. Fold whipped cream into cooked fruit and spoon into parfait or wine glasses; garnish with mint. Serve with crisp cookies.

Summer Bread Pudding

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


6 to 8 cups stone fruit, pared, pitted and diced

½ to ¾ cup sugar

1 to 2 tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice

10 to 12 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed


In a medium saucepan combine fruit, sugar, lemon juice and 1/3 to ½ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to steady simmer and cook for about 8 to10 minutes, until sugar is dissolved and fruit releases its juices. Pour a little of the fruit syrup into bottom of medium bowl; line bottom of bowl with one layer of bread slices cut to fit shape. Making sure it is completely coated, spoon about one-third of the fruit with some juice over bread. Top with more bread slices, then fruit and juices. Repeat procedure until fruit and juices as well as bread are all used up, but be sure to finish with bread on top.

Let cool completely, pat plastic wrap onto pudding so it touches it, then place a plate the same size as the top of the pudding and weight with something that weighs about one pound (an unopened 14-ounce can works well). Refrigerate 6 to 8 hours. When ready to serve, run a knife around edge of pudding, then flip and unmold onto plate. Slice into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Green beans are in season on Long Island from July to September. Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Green beans, string beans, snap beans —  What’s in a name? They’re all pretty much the same thing; a favorite, as veggies go, among many people, and unlike some other veggies, seldom considered “yucky.” At this time of year, they abound in bushel baskets at farm stands, green thatches of long and slender and crisp vegetable freshness. Trimmed and lightly steamed just to the point of tenderness where they still retain their greenness, they make a fine side dish on their own dressed with lemon or butter, or as a tasty component of salads, soups, casseroles, pasta or potato dishes.

So here’s what you need to do. Go to a farm stand, carefully pick out a bunch of skinny unblemished beans, take them home, sit yourself down near a fan or an AC vent, put a bowl in your lap, and with a little knife or your thumbnail, remove the brownish stem ends of the beans, then cut or snap them to desired size (I like to leave them whole). Here are some recipes to get you started.

Green Bean and Potato Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette

This is almost but not quite a salade nicoise.

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed and coarsely chopped

1 pound skinny green beans, stem end removed

2 garlic cloves, smashed into a paste

1 tablespoon anchovy paste

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained and chopped

2 teaspoons prepared Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large handfuls baby arugula

4 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced

2 ripe garden fresh tomatoes, sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup chopped fresh basil


In a large saucepan, boil the potatoes in salted water until just tender; remove from water, let sit until cool enough to handle , then cut into thin slices or dice. Simultaneously, in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer, salt the green beans to taste and cook over boiling water until tender but still bright green. Immediately remove and place in bowl of ice water for 5 minutes, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy paste, capers, mustard, vinegar and olive oil. When ready to serve, arrange arugula on a serving plate, toss the potatoes and beans with the vinaigrette and pile on top of the arugula. Arrange sliced or diced eggs and tomatoes on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper; garnish with chopped herbs. Serve warm or at room temperature with a chilled dry white wine, crusty French bread and unsalted butter.

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions

This combination of green beans and onions is a far cry from that old recipe made with canned onions and cream of mushroom soup.

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large Vidalia or red onions, peeled and cut into rings

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

½ tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 pounds fresh skinny green beans, trimmed and steamed or boiled till tender but still bright green

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Heat the butter and oil in medium skillet over medium heat; add onions, turn heat up to medium-high, and cook onions, stirring frequently, until light golden; add thyme, brown sugar and vinegar and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until onions are a rich medium dark brown. Place string beans in a serving bowl and top with caramelized onions. Serve warm or hot with poultry or meat.

Green Beans with Bacon and Balsamic

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cooked till tender but bright green

½ pound bacon, cooked till crispy and crumbled

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon bacon fat

1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a large serving bowl toss the beans and bacon. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, bacon fat, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Half an hour before serving, toss the string bean mixture with oil mixture; tossing a few more times, let sit for at least half an hour. Serve at room temperature or warm with pork or poultry or as a main dish.

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Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

With her passionate reminiscences and mouth-watering descriptions of comfort foods from way back in our childhoods — things that were part of our mothers’ and grandmothers’ regular repertoires; the kinds of things we neither cook anymore nor see on menus — my friend has motivated me to comb through old recipe files and cookbooks to try to duplicate them. I have done so with the caveat that they will never be as good as the ones we remember. How could they be? However, as my new muse in this as in so many things, I am dedicating this column to her.

Tomato Aspic 

Ask any Southern lady and she will tell you that this dish is a standard at luncheons and funerals.

YIELD: Makes 8 to10 servings


2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin

¼ cup cold water

¼ cup boiling water

4 cups tomato juice

1 tablespoon chopped onion

½ green bell pepper chopped

1 celery rib

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

½ teaspoon celery seeds

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Nonstick cooking spray

Fresh bibb lettuce leaves

Fresh parsley for garnish


In a small bowl, sprinkle the cold water over the gelatin; let sit 5 minutes. Whisk boiling water into gelatin until it is dissolved. In a large saucepan, combine the tomato juice, onion, pepper, celery, brown sugar, salt, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and celery seeds. Bring to a boil over medium heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes; pour through wire mesh strainer into medium bowl; discard veggies or save for another use. Stir in gelatin and lemon juice. Spray a 10-cup ring mold with nonstick cooking spray; pour mixture into mold; chill 6 hours or until set. Unmold onto plate lined with lettuce leaves; garnish with parsley. Serve with shrimp salad and deviled eggs.

Old-Fashioned Crabmeat Casserole

Casseroles were very popular decades ago. The combination of crabmeat, butter and breadcrumbs makes this a rich but oh-so-delicious seafood dish.

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1 large egg

1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 stick unsalted butter

1½ cups unflavored breadcrumbs

1 cup half-and-half

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound cooked crabmeat (picked over to remove any bits of shell)


Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter or grease a two-quart casserole dish. In a small bowl whisk together egg, parsley and mustard. In a medium saucepan melt 6 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat; add one cup breadcrumbs and half-and-half; cook stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; add egg mixture and salt and pepper and stir just enough to incorporate but not cook egg. Fold in crabmeat; transfer to prepared casserole; sprinkle with remaining bread crumbs; dot with remaining butter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with rice.

Julia’s Oatmeal Lace Cookies

Julia was the daughter of a slave. That’s how many generations the recipe

for this childhood favorite has been around.

Oatmeal Lace Cookies. Stock photo

YIELD: Makes 12 to 15 cookies


1 cup whole grain oats (old-fashioned not instant oatmeal)

¼ stick unsalted butter plus butter for greasing baking sheets

¾ cup medium brown sugar

1 egg

Pinch or 2 all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon vanilla or to taste.


Generously grease two baking sheets and set aside. Preheat oven to 275 F. Spread oatmeal on another baking sheet and toast it for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside and let cool. Raise oven temperature to 350 F. In a large saucepan, melt butter over moderately low heat; add sugar and mix well. Remove pan from cook top, stir in egg and oatmeal; beat until blended, then thoroughly blend in flour and vanilla. Drop batter, about one tablespoon at a time, about two inches apart as cookies will spread, onto greased baking sheets. Bake about 10 minutes or until cookies are firm and edges are slightly brown. Let cool a few minutes on baking sheets, then with sharp spatula, carefully remove to wire racks, Serve with ice cold milk.

Honeydew melons are a versatile treat and can be used as an ingredient in salads, side dishes, entrees and even drinks. Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

I have found that honeydew melons can often be a rather dicey proposition. I frequently think I’ve picked out a promising one only to get it home where it languishes and never ripens. Or it does ripen but the result is a flavorless disappointment. 

Well, that’s no way to start a food column, is it? Let me start over on a more positive note.  

When a honeydew is good, it’s very good. When it’s perfectly ripened, it is an explosion of mouth-watering fruit worthy of its name. On its own, it sings of summer. With other ingredients it’s a perfect foil for salty or slightly bitter flavors. And it’s such a pretty color; just looking at it is enough to cool one off. 

So, if you’re good at picking out melons, or if you’re lucky enough to find a winner, try some of these honeydew recipes.

Honeydew Salad with Honey-Citrus Dressing

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1 avocado, diced

Freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon

½ ripe honeydew melon, diced

2 cups baby arugula

4 red radishes, scrubbed and sliced thin

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1½ tablespoons lime or orange juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 slices prosciutto, torn into small pieces


In a large bowl toss the avocado with the freshly squeezed lemon juice to thoroughly coat.  Add honeydew, arugula and radishes; toss again and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, honey, lime or orange juice, salt and pepper. When ready to serve, toss with melon mixture; sprinkle prosciutto on top and serve immediately with prosecco and breadsticks.

Honeydew Sorbet with Candied Ginger

Honeydew Sorbet

YIELD: Makes about 3½ cups


½ cup sugar

½ cup water

4 cups diced ripe honeydew melon

¼ to 1/3 cup candied ginger, finely chopped


In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook sugar and water until sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Measure out ¾ cup; reserve and refrigerate any extra for later use. Puree melon in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Measure out 2½ cups. Cover and refrigerate any extra puree for another use. Combine sugar syrup, melon puree and chopped ginger in bowl of ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to freezer container, cover and freeze for at least two hours. Serve with ginger snaps.

Shrimp and Lobster Salad in Honeydew Bowls

YIELD: Serves 2


1 cup chopped cooked shrimp

1 cup chopped cooked lobster meat

¼ cup minced celery

¼ cup minced green bell pepper

 1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or tarragon

¼ teaspoon celery seed

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 small ripe honeydew, halved and seeded


In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, lobster, celery, green pepper, mayonnaise, lemon juice, dill or tarragon, celery seed, salt and pepper; mix thoroughly and scoop into hollowed out honeydew halves. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for one hour before serving.