Watermelon Gaspacho

I love this tangy and refreshing soup in the summer! You can serve it as a light lunch or serve it as an appetizer at your next summer BBQ. This is my version of the recipe I recently found in The NY Times from Chef Brian Streeter at Cakebread Cellers. Here it is!

Serves 8 (or 12 if appetizer portions)

INGREDIENTS

1 lb tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped*

3 cups watermelon, cut in 1 inch cubes

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

1/2 large red pepper, coarsely chopped

1/2 bulb fennel, coarsely chopped

1/4 – 1/2 small red onion, coarsely chopped

2 T. Extra virgin Olive Oil

3 T sherry vinegar, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 T finely diced watermelon (optional for garnish)

PROCESS

  1. To make tomatoes easy to peel, fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Fill a separate bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes to create an ice bath while water boils. Make a small X with a sharp knife in the bottom of the tomatoes just enough to penetrate the skin. Gently place the tomatoes in the boiling water and boil for 1 minute. Remove the tomatoes from the pot and place in the ice bath. You can now easily peel the tomatoes. Next, seed and coarsely chopped them and place in a large bowl. Place all the other fruits and vegetables in the large bowl together.
  2. In a blender, in batches, puree all the ingredients except the last two ingredients (salt and watermelon garnish). add a little bit of ice water (about 1 cup) to achieve a soup-like consistency. Season with salt, taste and add a little more vinegar if necessary. Chill Thoroughly.
  3. Divide the soup among eight cold bowls or 12 small appetizer cups. Garnish each serving with a spoonful f diced watermelon. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil if desired and serve.

Best Ever Dumpling Sauce with Dumplings

This tangy sauce provides the perfect balance of heat, acidity, savoriness and sweetness to dumplings. It can also be used over noodles, wontons or mixed with fried tofu. My dear friend Bini taught me how to make home made dumplings for Lunar New Year several years ago. It’s a lot of work but oh, so fun to do with a big group of friends. I cheat and buy frozen dumplings in the freezer section of my grocery store to save time. They are not as delicious as Bini’s but ALOT easier. Freezer-section dumplings come in chicken, pork or vegetable varieties and are the key to an easy weeknight meal (or a great party appetizer).

Pair the dumplings with this tasty sauce and you’ll be hooked!

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time:15 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes

Serving 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (I like the low sodium variety)
  • 2 tbsp water or broth from dumplings (if boiling dumplings)
  • 1 tbsp Chile garlic sauce (I use “Tuong Ot Toi Vietnam” or you can use Go Chu Jang which is a Korean chili pepper sauce)
  • 1/2 tbsp chili oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar 
  • 2 tbsp chinese black vinegar (or Worcester sauce)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds 
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • chopped fresh scallions (cut on a diagonal)
  • chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 12 pieces store-bought or handmade dumplings

Instructions

  1. Wash and chop the fresh ingredients (cilantro, scallions, garlic)

2. Mix all except the last ingredient (dumplings) together in a small bowl.

3. Prepare handmade or store-bought frozen dumplings based on your preference (steamed or pan-fried). The package often tells you how to prepare them. Check out the process at the end of this post on steaming and pan frying dumplings.

4. Pour the sauce over the plated dumplings and garnish with more scallions and cilantro. You can also dip the dumplings into the sauce if you prefer. Adjust the chili oil or chili garlic sauce to your heat preference. Enjoy!

Preparing Chinese Dumplings

Boiling (option 1)

  1. Fill a pot two-thirds with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the dumplings, so they can fit in a single layer.
  3. Cook them until they float (about three minutes)
  4. Fish them out of the pot and drain them.

Pan Frying (option 2)

Using a small amount of oil, you can pan fry frozen dumplings. Cooking frozen dumplings is a process that takes between 20 and 25 minutes and is best done with a non-stick pan with a thick heavy bottom to distribute the heat better.

  1. Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil to a pan and heat on medium-high heat.
  2. Add the frozen dumplings and cook for 2-4 minutes on each side. Don’t move them too much. You just want them browned.
  3. Add boiling water to cover half the height of the dumplings and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover the pan and let the dumplings steam until their bases are golden and the water has almost evaporated.

Blueberry, Feta and Carmelized Onion Flatbread

 
I recently went blueberry picking for the first time while visiting my sister and her family in VT over the summer.  We stumbled upon the Organic Sunshine Valley Berry Farm right off the Vermont Route 100.  They gave us  a blue bucket and pointed us to the rows of blueberries just ripe and ready for picking.

You may not know this but blueberries have several health benefits along with being a tasty treat.  They boost memory, support heart health and are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K and fiber.  That little adventure to the Berry Farm inspired me to share one of my favorite pizza recipes that boasts beautiful and sweet blueberries.  This savory pizza is oh so good!  I often make it for special occasions during blueberry season because it both pretty and tasty.  But don’t feel you have to reserve it for just special times – It’s easy, has just a handful of ingredients, and is delicious too.

Blueberry, Feta and Carmelized Onion Flatbread

DFTSI Blueberry Feta and Onion PizzaIMG_3771

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 naan flatbreads
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • kosher salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup blueberries, rinsed and dried
  • micro  greens or baby arugula

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the naan/flatbread on the baking sheet and lightly spray or brush with water. Set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium low heat. Add the onion and season with a pinch of salt to taste and red pepper flakes. Cook the onions until it is wilted, about 3-5 minutes and stir in the honey, and continue to cook a fe more minutes letting the onions caramelize. Remove from heat.
  • While the onions cook, stir the ricotta and feta cheese in a small bowl. Spread the ricotta mixture over the naan/flatbread, and top with the honey caramelized onions. Sprinkle the blueberries on top.
  • Place the naan pizzas into the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the blueberries are just about ready to burst, the cheese has softened, and the naan is toasted. Remove from oven, cut into squares or slices, sprinkle with arugula and enjoy immediately.
 
 

Gluten-Free Holiday Chex Mix

1Makes 8 cups

I’ve added my own little twist to the old time favorite Chex Mix around the holidays.  This party mix can even be enjoyed by your guests with dietary restrictions or gluten free preferences.  It’s a modified recipe from the original Chex Mix.  I nix the Wheat Chex, use gluten free pretzels, and also add my own little twist.  Your guests will be coming back for more so you might want to make two batches!

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion power
2 teaspoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup pretzels (gluten-free versions available from Snyder’s or Snack Factory)
1 cup fancy mixed nuts
3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal

Instructions

1. Melt butter in a 13X9 in baking dish in a 250 degree oven.
2. Remove dish from oven and stir in the seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.
3.  Add cereals, pretzels and nuts and stir until coated.
4.  Bake @ 250 degrees for 45 minutes stirring every 15 minutes or so.
5.  Remove from the oven and cool (if you can keep your family from nibbling)
6.  Store in an airtight jar or large ziplock bag.

Baked Penne with Tomato Mozzarella & Sausage

My sister, Tomi turned me on to this yummy goodness from chef, Erica De Mane, who specializes in southern Italian cooking. Serve with a simple salad.

Baked Penne with Tomato, Mozzarella & Sausage

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut in small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 lb. sweet Italian pork sausage, removed from its casing and crumbled
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 35-oz. can whole plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh marjoram or oregano (from about 6 large sprigs)
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated mild pecorino cheese
  • Pinch nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lb. dried penne (or ziti if you prefer)
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella, preferably fresh, cut in small cubes

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 425°F. Lightly oil a large, shallow baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • In a large skillet or stock pot, heat about 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and crumbled sausage and sauté until the sausage starts to brown. Season with salt and pepper. If the sausage gives off a lot of fat, pour off most of it, but leave a little to add flavor to the sauce. Add the red wine and let it boil until it’s almost gone. Add the tomatoes with all of their juices and cook, uncovered, at a lively simmer for about 10 minutes. The sauce will thicken slightly. Add the marjoram or oregano and taste for seasoning.
  • In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, about half of the grated pecorino, the nutmeg, and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, cook the ziti until al dente (7-8 minutes max). Drain well and toss it with the ricotta mixture until well coated. Add the sausage and sauce and mix again. Add the mozzarella and toss gently. Pour everything into the baking dish and sprinkle the remaining pecorino on top. Bake uncovered until lightly browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Serve right away.
  • Nutritional Info (based on four servings)
  • Calories (kcal) : 1070
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 390
  • Fat (g): 44
  • Saturated Fat (g): 20
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 17
  • Cholesterol (mg): 110
  • Sodium (mg): 114
  • Carbohydrates (g): 113
  • Fiber (g): 8
  • Protein (g): 54

Blueberry Peach and Goat Cheese Tarts

Blueberry Peach and Goat Cheese Tarts

  • Servings: 4-6

Tender crust enveloping juicy colorful fruit, a few dots of cheese, and not much else. Makes four or six depending on size.  Feel free to change out the fruit if you like.  I especially like the combination of these summertime fruits.

Dough

You can make your own crust but I love the convenience of using frozen pie crust (Trader Joe’s is my favorite).  It comes in a package of two.   I  make 4-6 tarts with one crust.

 

The Rest

4 tbsp ground almonds (I love almonds but if you don’t – or have an allergy – you can skip. They help absorb the juice of the fruit)
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 ripe peach OR nectarine (white or yellow is fine)
2 tbsp raw sugar, divided use
3-4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp lemon thyme leaves – optional
1 egg yolk, whisked

Instructions

  1. Thaw the frozen dough according to package instructions.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Slice the peach or nectarine into 12 slices and set aside. Line two baking trays/jelly roll pans with parchment paper.
  3. Divide dough into 4-6 equal pieces and pat into discs.  Roll out to measure about 5-7 inches each.  They don’t need to be perfect circles.
  4. Dust each with ground almonds, if using.  Divide the berries and peach slices between the dough discs, dot with goat cheese crumbles and thyme leaves (if using).  Try to leave a good margin so that you can pull the edges of the dough up over the form a crumpled frame.
  5. Pull up the edges of the dough but leave most of the fruit showing, and gently pleat.  Rustic and homemade is good!
  6. Brush the dough with egg or milk and sprinkle sugar on the dough and fruit.  place the trays in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden.  Cover loosely with foil and bak for about 5 more minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool slightly, and then place on individual dishes for serving.  Feel free to add vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche if you like.

Enjoy!

 

Best Key Lime Pie Ever

Sharing this one again, because it’s just that good!  My mouth is already watering.

IMG_2735

SheShe’s Key Lime Pie

This creamy dreamy pie is a favorite in our family.   We always look forward to Aunt SheShe treating us to this delightful and refreshing goodness.  The tartness from the key limes and the sweetness of the crust makes a perfect combination.  It just might become a family favorite for you too!

Makes one 9-inch pie serving 6 to 8

Crust:

1 ½  cups graham cracker crumbs
3  tablespoons sugar
¼  teaspoon salt
6   tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

1  14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3  cup fresh squeezed Key juice or regular lime juice. (If using bottled, look for Nellie & Joe’s brand—(Ralph’s carries it.)
3    large egg yolks
1 ½   teaspoons grated lime zest (about 2 limes)
2    tablespoons sugar
¼   teaspoon salt

Topping:

1  cup chilled whipping cream (in a small carton from Trader Joe’s)
2   tablespoons powdered sugar
1   teaspoon vanilla extract
2   Key limes for garnish, sliced thinly (optional)

For crust: Preheat oven to 350. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter and stir to coat well. Press crust into 9-inch glass pie dish. Bake 5 to 8 minutes until crust is set and golden brown. Cool.

For filling: In stand mixer fitted with wire whisk or using a hand-held mixer, beat egg yolks and lime zest for 5 minutes until very fluffy. Add sugar, salt, and condensed milk and beat for 3 or 4 minutes more. Lower mixer speed and gradually add lime juice and beat just until combined. Pour mixture into cooled crust. Bake 10-15 minutes (varies by oven), or until filling is set in center. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and chill at least 6 hours or overnight.

For topping: Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in large bowl until soft peaks form. Spread over pie and garnish with Key lime slices, if desired. (Can be refrigerated several hours ahead, or even overnight.)

Creds to Cynthia Worth  who originally adapted the recipe from Bon Appetit 1/07 and Food Network and shared with Aunt SheShe (aka Sheila Downs).

IMG_2737

Greek Chicken with Lemon Potatoes

 

Greek Chicken with Lemon Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (smaller breasts cook faster)
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 2 T  fresh rosemary
  • 2 T fresh oregano,
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb fingerling potatoes, halved or quartered lengthwise
  • 1 onion, cut in either slices or wedges
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • chopped fresh oregano for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Lightly oil a large roasting pan or line it with foil.
  2. Place chicken pieces in large bowl. Season with salt, and spices (if you don’t have fresh rosemary and oregano, you can substitute with dried herbs but only use one tablespoon of each instead (half of the fresh amount). Add fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. Place potatoes in bowl with the chicken; stir together until chicken and potatoes are evenly coated with marinade.
  3. Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, to prepared roasting pan, reserving marinade. Distribute potato pieces among chicken thighs. Drizzle with 2/3 cup chicken broth. Spoon remainder of marinade over chicken and potatoes.
  4. Place in preheated oven. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Toss chicken and potatoes, keeping chicken skin side up; continue baking until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 25 minutes more depending  on size of chicken pieces). An instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Transfer chicken to serving platter and keep warm.
  5. Set oven to broil or highest heat setting. Toss potatoes once again in pan juices. Place pan under broiler and broil until potatoes are caramelized, about 3 minutes. Transfer potatoes to serving platter with chicken.
  6. Optional: Place roasting pan on stove over medium heat. Add a splash of additional broth and stir up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Strain; spoon juices over chicken and potatoes. Top with chopped oregano.

Best Valentine Cocktail

I get so many inquiries about this colorful cocktail that’s both pretty and tasty too, that I am posting it again, just in time for your Valentines (or Galentines) celebration.

I love the sweetness and tartness of ruby red grapefruit juice. Combined with St-Germain (elderflower liqueur) and vodka, you have a winning cocktail sure to please.  Some call this a Bichon Frise and others call it a French Greyhound.  I call it delicious!  You can serve it “martini style” or over ice.  Both are refreshing and sure to be a hit.  My recipe allows you to easily prepare it based on the size of your guest list -just you and your main squeeze, or a festive party.

Bichon Frise

Ingredients

1 part vodka (try Absolute Grapefruit with a twist of pink grapefruit)
1 part St-Germain elderflower liqueur
2 parts ruby red grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed if in season)
raspberries for garnish (optional)
mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Instructions

Over Ice Method
Add vodka, St-Germain, and grapefruit juice in a glass pitcher.
Fill your favorite cocktail glass with ice cubes (to the top).
Pour mixture into the glass.
Add a raspberry and mint leave for garnish.
Serve and enjoy!

DFTSI French Greyhound Cocktail_2428

Martini Style

Fill a cocktail shaker to the rim with ice cubes.
Add vodka, St-Germain, and grapefruit juice.
Place the cap on the shaker and shake vigorously.
Pour into a martini glass and garnish with raspberry and mint leave.
Serve and enjoy!

DFTSI French Greyhound Cocktail_2420

Roasted Red Peppers with Pesto and Goat Cheese

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8-12 baby red bell peppers (or a combination of red, yellow and orange)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons prepared pesto (I love using Kirklands from Costco)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3-4 ounces goat cheese
  • fresh oregano (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice mini bell peppers in half and remove stem and seeds. Place in a large bowl (or large ziplock bag) and toss with pesto, olive oil and balsamic vinegar until peppers are completely covered.
  3. Line up peppers on a baking sheet and place into oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Take peppers out and carefully add crumbled goat cheese to insides of pepper halves.
  5. Place back into oven and bake for another 3-5 minutes or until goat cheese is melted.
  6. Optional: sprinkle chopped fresh oregano over peppers before serving.
  • Psst!  You can marinate and place peppers on a foil lined tray up to the night before if you want to shorten the preparation time right before serving.