Authors Posts by Barbara Beltrami

Barbara Beltrami

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Chicken Kabob. Pixabay photo

By Barbara Beltrami

This is the third in a series of columns about easy summer dinners, and because it’s about meat and poultry, it’s mostly about grilling. One of the great things about these recipes is that they make tasty leftovers which pay forward for less time in the kitchen. Slice or chop them up for salads or sandwiches, but on second thought, they’re all so good that I doubt you’ll have any leftovers.

Saffron Chicken Kabobs

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

1/2 cup boiling chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2” cubes

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl stir together the saffron and chicken stock and let steep for half an hour. Add the wine, oil, cardamom, salt and pepper; add chicken; toss to combine, cover, and stirring occasionally, refrigerate for 3 hours. Prepare grill: oil grill rack with an oil saturated crumpled paper towel and place rack 4 to 6” above fire. Remove chicken from marinade but reserve the liquid; pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then thread it onto skewers and arrange them on the rack. Grill, turning frequently and brushing with reserved marinade, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve with rice pilaf and sliced tomatoes with olive oil and fresh herbs.

Barbecued Beef Brisket

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings

INGREDIENTS:

One 4 – 5 pound brisket

4 garlic cloves, cut into slivers

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3/4 cup ketchup

3/4 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Make slits all over surface of meat and poke garlic slivers in them; rub brisket with two tablespoons of the oil. In a small bowl combine salt and pepper, thyme, paprika and cayenne and smear over meat; let sit at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile make the barbecue sauce: In a medium saucepan over moderate heat warm the remaining two tablespoons oil, then add the onion and chopped garlic and heat, stirring frequently, until onion starts to turn golden, about 5 minutes; add ketchup, tomato sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, chili powder and hot sauce; stir to combine, then reduce heat to simmer and cover partially; cook until sauce thickens, about 15 to 25 minutes. 

Prepare fire for indirect heat cooking and position an oiled rack 4 to 6 inches above fire; place brisket so it is not directly over heat, cover grill and cook for one hour; brush meat with about a third of the sauce and cook another hour, turning occasionally and brushing sparingly with more sauce. Remove from grill and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice across the grain and serve with coleslaw and fresh corn on the cob.

Spicy Pork Chops

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup grainy Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons orange zest

2 tablespoons whiskey

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Six 6-8 ounce boneless 3/4” pork chops

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl combine mustard, orange juice , orange zest, whiskey, Worcestershire sauce, sage and pepper. Smear over both sides of pork chops and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. Oil grill rack and heat grill to medium-high. Cook, turning once, until chops are barely pink inside, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve with sweet potato fries and salad.

Pixabay photo

By Barbara Beltrami

If you read my column last week, you know that I wrote about easy summer dinners with fish. This week I’m focusing on veggies and using all that bounty from farm stands, supermarkets and best of all, your own garden. Or maybe you don’t have a garden but your neighbor does and generously shares her harvests with you. Whatever the source, whatever the veggies, (and they’re  likely to include tomatoes!) it’s a perfect set up for you to take it easy in the kitchen. 

Farro Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumber, Peppers and Corn

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups semi-pearled farro

Salt to taste

1 English cucumber, peeled and diced

4 tomatoes, diced

1 small red onion, peeled and diced

2 ears of corn, kernels removed, separated

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 medium lemon

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 basil sprig for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

In a large heavy pot or skillet toast farro over medium heat for about 4 minutes; remove pot from heat and pour in cold water and salt to cover farro by one inch. Over medium-high heat bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, give it a good stir and, skimming foam occasionally, cook until al dente, about 25 to 30 minutes. Drain farro, transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Add cucumber, tomatoes, onion, corn, lemon juice, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper; toss to thoroughly combine. Just before serving garnish with basil. Serve with crusty bread and extra virgin olive oil.

Tomato Eggplant and Goat Cheese Tart

YIELD: Makes one 10 to 12” tart

INGREDIENTS:

10 to 12” pastry crust

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/4 pounds eggplant, peeled and diced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 medium plum tomatoes, sliced

4 to 6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

1 sprig basil, leaves torn

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves

DIRECTIONS:

Place a rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 400 F. Roll out pastry to a circle one to two inches larger than pan using. Press into pan and leave overhang; fold overhang back and press against inside of pan sides to make them thicker than bottom. 

In medium-large skillet over medium-high heat warm 3 tablespoons of the oil; add garlic, eggplant, and salt and pepper; stir to coat evenly with oil and saute until eggplant is golden brown and tender, about 15 minutes; remove and let cool to room temperature. 

Brush bottom crust of pastry with remaining tablespoon of oil, distribute tomato slices evenly on crust, season with salt and pepper, then spoon eggplant over tomatoes. Place goat cheese and herbs on top and bake until crust and goat cheese are golden, about one hour; remove from oven and let sit about 10 minutes on wire rack.  Serve with a garden lettuce salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette.

Coconut Curried Veggie Soup

YIELD:  Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

6 ounces rice noodles, cooked

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 cup chopped carrots or yellow summer squash

One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

One 14-ounce can coconut milk

1 cup fresh or frozen peas, chopped green beans, bok choy or green pepper

1 lime

4 sprigs fresh cilantro for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium pot over medium heat, warm the oil; add the carrots or squash, ginger, garlic onion, curry paste, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to brown and stick to bottom of pan; stir in coconut milk, peas, beans, bok choy or green pepper, season again and cook about 6 minutes, until first cup of veggies is tender and second cup turns bright green. Squeeze juice from half the lime over mixture and stir. Place noodles in 4 bowls, spoon veggie mixture over them, add juice from other lime half, if desired, and garnish with cilantro. Serve with ice cold beer.

Pexels photo

By Barbara Beltrami

This is the season for taking advantage of being outdoors, being super casual and feeling no guilt over not slaving over a hot stove. It’s a time when our appetites crave things that sing and taste of summer…things like seafood and fresh veggies, salads and sandwiches that require a minimum of work, much of it before the sun gets too high in the sky, so we can just sit and enjoy ourselves wherever we are. 

I’m going to tell you about a few of my favorite easy summer dishes, and in fact, there are so many I want to share that I may keep doing this for a few weeks. This week I’m going to start with fish. Here are recipes for savory and spicy fish tacos, a refreshing shrimp and avocado salad and a little riff on the ever popular New England lobster roll, this one with scallops. 

I hope there will be something for everyone’s taste buds and lifestyle.

Fish Tacos

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Nonstick cooking spray

1 1/2 pounds grouper, cod or hake fillets 

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Kosher salt to taste

Eight 6” tortillas

1 medium tomato, diced

1 jalapeno, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves

1 cup shredded purple cabbage

1/4 cup diced red onion

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

Freshly squeezed juice of one lime

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; place fish fillets on sheet. In a small bowl combine the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and kosher salt, then rub mixture fish fillets; bake for 13 minutes or until fish is flaky and cooked through; remove from oven; set aside to keep warm. In a large bowl toss together the tomato, jalapeno, cilantro, cabbage, onion, oil, lime juice and salt and pepper. In a large skillet warm tortillas on both sides; place on platter. With a fork or your fingers, break fish into bite-size chunks and divide evenly among tortillas; top with veggie mixture. Serve with sour cream, tomato salsa and ice cold beer. 

Shrimp Salad with Avocado and White Beans

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, boiled and chilled

12 to 16 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion

One 14-ounce can of white beans, drained, rinsed and drained again

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice

1 tablespoon orange or mango juice

2 T chopped fresh flat leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon mayonnaise

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 ripe avocado

Bibb, Romaine or red leaf lettuce leaves

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium bowl combine shrimp, tomatoes, scallion, and beans. In a small bowl, vigorously whisk together the oil, juices, herbs, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper; pour over shrimp mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour. Line a serving plate or bowl with lettuce leaves, scoop shrimp salad onto them. Immediately before serving, peel and slice avocado and arrange on top. Serve with focaccia and a crisp dry chilled white wine. 

Scallop Rolls

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound cooked sea scallops, chopped, chilled

3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1/3  to 1/2 cup mayonnaise

4 to 6 split top hot dog rolls

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium bowl thoroughly combine the scallops, lemon juice, salt and pepper, celery, dill and mayonnaise. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. While it is heating, open rolls so they are butterflied, spread the insides with butter and put them face down on the hot surface; cook them about 30 seconds on each side until they are crispy and golden; transfer to plates, fill with scallop mixture and serve with wedges of lemon, potato chips and iced tea.

From left, potato, Cole slaw and macaroni salad. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Call me crazy,  but this year on the Fourth of July I’m going to pull out all the throttles with traditional American dishes. I want hot dogs with the works, and that means, mustard, relish and sauerkraut. I want  hamburgers oozing cheese and ketchup and crunchy with slices of raw onion. And I want the three traditional salads, tart and creamy with mayonnaise.

Not that it wouldn’t be okay to have a few appetizers like deviled eggs, chips with salsa and guacamole, maybe some scallion pancakes or shrimp rolls to munch on while things get going, but after the past year filled with all its denials and restrictions I want to renew the pleasure of scarfing down good old-fashioned potato salad and cole slaw and macaroni salad. 

And while I’m loading up my plate I want to keep in mind and remind my fellow indulgers that the day is not just a day for gorging ourselves with the things we love to eat, but primarily an anniversary of the day 245 years ago that we declared ourselves free from tyranny and launched a nation dedicated to equality and unalienable rights, a day to savor not just what comes out of the kitchen and off the grill but all those other unassailable rights and privileges that we enjoy.

Potato Salad

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 pounds small red-skinned potatoes

Salt

1 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons prepared mustard

1/3 cup dry white wine

3/4 cup chopped fresh dill leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 celery rib, minced

1/2 medium red onion, peeled and minced

DIRECTIONS: 

Place the whole potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil; lower heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes until potatoes are al dente; drain, remove from heat, then set in a colander over cooking water (with heat turned off), cover and let heat from hot water finish cooking them, about 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, wine, dill, salt, pepper, celery and onion. After the potatoes have cooled off a bit, but are still warm, halve or quarter them, depending on size, place them in a large bowl and toss them with the dressing. Let sit until completely cool, toss again and refrigerate. Toss one more time before serving. Serve with hot dogs, hamburgers or just about anything you’re grilling.

Cole Slaw

Cole Slaw

YIELD: Makes 12 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

3 cups shredded green cabbage

3 cups shredded red cabbage

2 to 3 carrots, peeled and shredded

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup unflavored Greek yogurt

Scant 1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 cup sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

In large bowl combine cabbage and carrots. In small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar, celery seed, sugar, and salt and pepper. Add to cabbage and carrot mixture and toss to thoroughly coat. Cover and chill unless serving immediately. Serve with grilled or fried meat, poultry or fish.

Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

1 celery rib, diced

1/2 small red onion, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 cup diced fresh tomato

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Generous 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Coarse salt and black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

Cook macaroni according to package instructions, drain and rinse in cold water; drain again. In large bowl combine the macaroni, celery, onion, parsley and tomato. In small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper. Pour dressing over macaroni mixture and toss to thoroughly coat. Cover and store in fridge. Serve with grilled chicken, beef or fish.

Peach Pie. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

When T. S. Eliot had J. Alfred Prufrock ask, “Do I dare to eat a peach?,” it was most probably with the understanding that eating a ripe peach is a messy business and not for those who are impeccably dressed and cannot afford to have peach juice running down their chins. Biting into a rosy-skinned peach is, for me, the long-awaited reminder that summer is around the corner. And once I’ve gotten over that, slicing a peach into a bowl, dusting it with just a little sugar and dousing it with cream is next on my list. From there, as peaches consistently dominate the fruit bowl on my kitchen table, I get really cavalier and grill them with pork chops or make a peach pie for dessert. And on a hot day, a peach cooler is heavenly.

Grilled Pork Chops and Peaches

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

1/2 cup olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Six 3/4” thick pork chops, trimmed

6 fresh peaches, pitted and halved

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

DIRECTIONS: 

Prepare grill to high heat; place large cast iron skillet on grill, allow to get very hot, then reduce heat to medium. While grill and skillet are heating, in a small bowl combine the garlic, rosemary, 6 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper to form a paste; smear paste on both sides of pork chops. Brush skillet with remaining olive oil and allow to heat until oil shimmers. Place chops in skillet and cook until nice and brown, about 8 to 10 minutes; add peaches, cut side down, brush them with butter and cook until they are charred, about 5 minutes; remove them and set aside to keep warm. Turn chops and cook in butter from peaches another 5 minutes until brown on both sides but still juicy. Place on platter and serve with the peaches,  rice and a leafy green vegetable.

Peach Pie

YIELD: Makes one pie

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, diced

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 cup ice water

5 cups peeled sliced fresh ripe peaches

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

DIRECTIONS: 

Place first three ingredients in bowl of electric food processor fitted with steel blade and pulse a few times until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually drizzle ice water over mixture and continue to pulse until dough pulls together into a rough ball.  Remove and place on floured board, form into a ball and roll around until coated with flour; divide dough in half to form two balls, coat again with flour, then press into 5 to 6” discs; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. 

Meanwhile make the filling: In a large bowl combine peaches, lemon juice, sugar and quarter cup of flour; set aside. When ready to roll out dough, preheat oven to 425 F. Remove dough from fridge, unwrap, coat again with flour, then roll out; place in a 9” pie dish which has been set on a rimmed cookie sheet; add peach mixture, and roll out second disc and place over peaches. Trim and pinch edges of pastry together, make a few slits in top crust and bake for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 375 F and bake 45 minutes to one hour, until crust is golden. Serve with peach or vanilla ice cream.

Peach Cooler

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks

Freshly squeezed juice from 3 limes

2 cups unamended iced tea

1/4 cup sugar or to taste

2 cups sparkling water

One peach, cut into 6 to 8 slices for garnish

6 to 8 sprigs mint for garnish

DIRECTIONS: 

In bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade puree peaches with lime juice and sugar. Place ice cubes in 6 to 8 ounce glasses, pour in 2 to 3 ounces tea and 2 to 3 ounces sparkling water; with long-handled spoon stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons peach puree. Garnish with peach slice and mint. Serve with biscotti.

METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Chances are this Father’s Day, if you’re not taking Dad out, you’re probably grilling. And since Dad is usually the one who’s slaving over a hot grill (even though he may have an ice cold beer in one hand), wouldn’t it be nice if you did the grilling for a change? No? Well then, how about you do some marinating to make whatever he’s grilling moist, tender, flavorful and fit for the king of the household and patriarch of the family. Here are some marinades to give that meat, poultry or fish an extra special taste. The rest is up to you. Note: Salt should be added to all marinades just before grilling.

Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary Marinade

YIELD: Makes about one cup.

INGREDIENTS:

Freshly squeezed juice from 3 large lemons

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves or 2 T dried

2 garlic cloves, minced

DIRECTIONS: 

Combine all ingredients except salt in a small bowl and whisk vigorously; pour into gallon size resealable plastic bag. Place meat in bag and tilt to coat thoroughly. Rotating and tilting bag every half hour, refrigerate for 3 hours. Use marinade to baste while grilling. This is especially good with chicken or pork accompanied by roasted potatoes and Vidalia onions.

Teriyaki and Scallion Marinade

YIELD: Makes approximately two cups

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup dry white wine

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 scallions, trimmed and sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium bowl whisk together all ingredients. Pour into resealable gallon plastic bag and add beef, pork or poultry, then seal; tilt bag to coat thoroughly; refrigerate for up to 12 hours, rotate and tilt bag every so often to evenly distribute marinade. Use marinade for basting. This is best with beef but also very good with fish, poultry or pork accompanied by your favorite rice and a cucumber salad.

Cilantro and Lime Marinade

YIELD: Makes about 1 1/2 cups

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup rose wine

3 garlic cloves, minced

Freshly squeezed juice of one large lime

1 tablespoon cumin

3 tablespoons chopped oregano leaves

1 tablespoon chili powder

Hot red pepper flakes to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients except salt. Whisk thoroughly, then pour into resealable gallon plastic bag, add meat or poultry and seal; tilt to evenly coat. Refrigerate for up to 12 hours; tilt and rotate bag frequently. Use marinade to baste. This is a wonderful marinade for steak or chicken accompanied by fresh corn and roasted peppers.

Tropical Citrus Marinade

YIELD: Makes about 1 2/3 cups

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup orange – mango juice

1/3 cup soy sauce

Freshly squeezed juice of one lime

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium bowl whisk together all the ingredients; let sit until sugar dissolves, then transfer to a gallon resealable bag; add chicken, fish or pork, seal bag and tilt to coat thoroughly. Refrigerate for up to one hour for fish, 4 hours for pork or chicken; tilt and rotate from time to time to even distribute the marinade. This is particularly good with swordfish, chicken or pork accompanied by pineapple salsa and sweet potato fries.

Watermelon Margarita Punch. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

If you want to pack a powerful hospitality punch, serve punch! No longer the stereotypical iced tea and lemonade, fruit juice and ginger ale old standby of baby showers and afternoon tea parties, punch has cashed in on the many flavored liqueurs and liquors as well as wines and exotic fruit juices now on the market. Punch is a great way to get the party rolling as guests stand around the punch bowl and sip and schmooze. (You can also sip in the kitchen while you’re putting last minute touches on the snacks and salads and side dishes.) Here are 4 punches that will sock it to your guests. Note: All ingredients should be completely chilled.

Watermelon Margarita Punch

YIELD: Makes 12 to 16 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 cup tequila

1 cup triple sec

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1 1/2 cups chopped watermelon

1 bottle Prosecco or champagne

2 quarts seltzer or club soda

1 1/2 limes, thinly sliced

1/2 lime cut into wedges

1/4 cup coarse salt

DIRECTIONS: 

In a blender or food processor, puree tequila, triple sec, lime juice and watermelon together until smooth. Transfer to chilled punch bowl or pitcher, add Prosecco and seltzer and stir to thoroughly combine. Wipe rims of glasses with the lime wedges, turn glasses upside down and dip in salt. Place a lime slice on edge of each glass and float the remaining slices in the punch. Serve with guacamole and tortilla chips.

Tropical Rum Punch

YIELD: Makes 10 to 12 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups pineapple juice

2 cups orange juice

1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 cups grenadine syrup

3 cups light rum

Fresh mango slices for garnish

DIRECTIONS: 

In a large chilled punch bowl or pitcher, combine all ingredients; serve with canapés.

Sparkling Peach Punch

YIELD: Makes 20 to 30 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 bottle cognac

1 bottle sparkling white wine

3 cups peach liqueur

4 cups peach nectar

1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

5 peaches

2 blood oranges

DIRECTIONS: 

Chill a large punch bowl or pitcher. When ready to serve punch, combine all liquid ingredients in bowl; thinly slice peaches and blood oranges and float them on top of mixture; add ice as desired. Serve with boiled shrimp and cocktail sauce.

Bloody Mary Punch

YIELD: Makes 15 to 20 servings

INGREDIENTS:

6 cups diced celery with leaves

3/4 to 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

8 cups tomato juice

2 cups vodka

1/4 cup prepared white horseradish

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon celery seeds

Lemon and cucumber slices for garnish.

DIRECTIONS: 

In a chilled large punch bowl or pitcher combine all ingredients. Pour over ice cubes into glasses. Garnish with lemon and cucumber slices. Serve with deviled eggs.

Fusilli with Basil Pesto and Confetti Veggies. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Summer pastas take advantage of the season’s bounty and feature veggies and herbs and other warm weather flavors that go hand in hand with the outdoors where the livin’ is easy.  They’re light, they’re colorful and they’re savory. And like the livin’, they’re easy to put together. My favorite is a pasta with lemon and herbs. Of course, there’s pasta with pesto which is wonderful on its own and even more wonderful with the addition of finely diced summer veggies. And if spring and summer take you fishing, boating or beaching and you get a hankering for seafood, there’s pasta with crabmeat and peas.

Farfalle with Lemon and Herbs

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound farfalle pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, bruised

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley leaves

1/4 cup snipped fresh garlic chives

1 tablespoon (T) fresh lemon thyme leaves

1 T chopped fresh lemon verbena leaves

1 T chopped fresh lemon balm leaves

1 T finely grated lemon zest

2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

1/2 to 2/3 cup pasta water

DIRECTIONS: 

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet heat olive oil and butter over medium heat; add garlic clove and cook one or two minutes until it releases its aroma; remove and discard. Add basil, parsley, chives, thyme, verbena, lemon balm, zest, and juice, salt and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat. When pasta is just al dente, drain and add to skillet with the half to two-thirds cup pasta water; over medium-low heat, toss to  coat thoroughly. Serve hot or warm with fresh sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.

Fusilli with Basil Pesto and Confetti Veggies

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound fusilli

8 to 10 large sprigs of basil, leaves removed

1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese

1/2 cup pignoli nuts

1 large garlic clove

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup or more pasta water, if needed

1 small zucchini, cut into half-inch dice

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into half-inch dice

1 medium tomato, seeds removed, cut into half-inch dice

DIRECTIONS: 

Cook fusilli according to package directions. Meanwhile place basil, cheese, nuts, garlic, 3/4 cup of the oil, salt and pepper in bowl of electric food processor. Puree mixture, scraping bowl often, until it is smooth and turns a light green color; if it seems too thick, add pasta water a tablespoonful at a time until right consistency is achieved; set aside. In large skillet heat remaining oil over medium-high heat; add zucchini, potato and tomato and saute, stirring frequently until tender, about 5 minutes. In large pasta bowl, toss pesto and pasta together, sprinkle with sautéed veggies and serve hot, warm or at room temperature with a crusty bread.

Capellini with Crabmeat and Peas

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound capellini (very thin spaghetti)

1 pound fresh or frozen shelled peas

8 ounces unsalted butter

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves

1/4 cup fresh snipped chives

1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese

Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over

DIRECTIONS: 

Cook pasta according to package directions but 3 minutes before end of cooking time add peas to pasta water and continue to cook until it is al dente. Meanwhile, in a very large skillet over moderate heat, melt butter; add herbs. Add pasta and peas, grated cheese, half a cup (more if needed) of pasta water, salt and pepper to skillet. Tossing constantly, continue cooking the mixture over low heat until pasta is coated with a light creamy sauce, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add crabmeat and cook over medium-low heat, just enough to heat through, about a minute or two. Serve hot or warm with an arugula salad and crisp dry white wine.

Lemon Bars. Photo from Pexels

By Barbara Beltrami

With Memorial Day just around the corner, we will finally be gathering without guilt or fear with family, friends and neighbors to whoop up together at picnics, barbecues and maybe even pool parties. It will be a time to remember not just those Americans who have fallen on the battlefield but the more than 600,000 who have succumbed to the coronavirus over the past year. Like so many large get togethers, this one will probably be a cooperative effort with each guest bringing some part of the meal. If the answer you got to “What can I bring?” was “dessert,” then I suggest you think about dessert bars. Easier than cookies and good travelers, they will delight both young and old. 

Maria’s Pineapple-Coconut Bars

YIELD: Makes about two dozen bars

INGREDIENTS:

Nonstick cooking spray

2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch salt

2 sticks unsalted butter

12 ounces softened cream cheese

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs

One 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained

1 1/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut

1 cup finely chopped almonds

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 13x9x2” baking dish. In a medium bowl combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar and salt. With pastry blender or fork, cut in 1 1/2 sticks of the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Spread over bottom of prepared pan and press into place with fingers; bake for 12 minutes. In medium bowl combine cream cheese, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla and eggs. Spread over baked crust, then spread pineapple evenly on top.  Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter and let cool; In a separate bowl, combine coconut, melted butter and almonds; spread over pineapple — cream cheese mixture. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until coconut and almonds are nicely browned. Let cool 15 minutes, then chill until set. Cut into squares and serve with hot coffee or tea.

Mary Alice’s Golden Squares

YIELD: Makes about two dozen 2” squares

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, well-beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg white

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped nuts

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 13x9x2”pan. With electric mixer on low speed, beat butter until fluffy; gradually add sugar while continuing to beat until mixture is light in color Add eggs and vanilla; beat to combine. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder, then thoroughly blend with wet mixture. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Beat egg white until stiff; add brown sugar and continue to beat until stiff again. Fold in nuts, then spread over batter in pan. Bake 25 minutes, remove from oven and let cool to room temperature; cut into squares and serve with iced tea, coffee, or lemonade.

Stephen’s Mother’s Lemon Bars

YIELD: Makes about 20 squares

INGREDIENTS:

Two 8-ounce sticks unsalted butter, softened

3 1/2 cups sugar

3 cups flour

Pinch coarse salt

6 extra-large eggs at room temperature

3 cups sugar

2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Confectioners’ sugar, if desired

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In large electric mixer bowl cream the butter and 1/2 cup sugar; add two cups of the flour and the salt and mix on low speed just until combined. Turn dough onto a floured board and gather into a ball; flatten and press into a 13 x 9 x 2” baking dish; build up a two-inch edge on sides; refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes, then bake 15 to 20 minutes until crust turns a light golden; remove, place on wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Whisk together the eggs, remaining sugar and flour, lemon zest and juice, then pour into crust; bake until set, about 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then dust with confectioners’ sugar, if using, and cut into squares. Serve with raspberry sorbet.

Quinoa. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Lately I’ve developed a taste for quinoa which, according to Wikipedia, botanists classify not as a grain but as a pseudo cereal because it does not come from a grassy plant; rather the quinoa plant is more similar to beetroot or spinach. No wonder it’s become so popular. It is a remarkable source of protein, amino acids, fiber and antioxidants among many other nutrients, is cooked very much like rice and has a pleasant nutty taste that marries well with just about anything. The following recipes are merely suggestions because quinoa is one of those foods that you can adapt to whatever you have on hand or feel like concocting.

Quinoa Pilaf with Dried Currants and Apricots

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup dried currants

1/4 cup diced dried apricots

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 cup quinoa

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup toasted almonds

DIRECTIONS:

In small bowl, soak the currants and apricots till soft, about 30 minutes; drain.  In large saucepan heat oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers; add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until opaque and soft, about 10 minutes; add quinoa, salt, pepper, broth, currants and apricots; bring mixture to a boil, stir, cover, reduce heat to low and cook until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to bowl or dish and sprinkle almonds on top. Serve hot or warm with grilled chicken, lamb, pork or beef.

Quinoa Waldorf Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup quinoa

Freshly squeezed juice from half a lemon

2 apples, cored and sliced into half-inch wedges

2 celery ribs, trimmed and sliced into half inch pieces

2 scallions trimmed and sliced

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil; vigorously stir in quinoa and boil until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes; drain and let cool to room temperature. Toss apple pieces with lemon juice to prevent discoloring; drain any residual juice. In medium bowl, combine apples, celery, scallions, mayonnaise, oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Stir in quinoa, transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle with walnuts. Serve at room temperature with fish, meat or poultry.

Quinoa Porridge

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons honey

1 cup fresh raspberries

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup quinoa

2 1/3 cups milk

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 pear

DIRECTIONS:

In microwave safe bowl heat honey with 1 tablespoon water; add raspberries and stir to coat; let sit at room temperature 10 minutes. In medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat; add quinoa and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to pop, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add half the milk, the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg along with one cup water, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat, keep covered and let sit until any remaining liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes; fluff with fork. Stir in remaining half of milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick and creamy, about 3 minutes. Pare, core and dice pear. Ladle mixture into individual bowls and top with raspberries and pear. Serve with breakfast juice, coffee or tea.