Sunday, March 30, 2008

Quick and Easy Polenta

This is another one of my mom's recipe. It is quick and easy to do. All the grandkids love it. It can be a great side dish for just about any main course. It works great as an after school snack too.


  • 1/2 cupsof fine milled cornmeal
  • 1 cup of coarse ground cornmeal
  • 4 1/2 cups of stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp of salt


  1. Place the cornmeal in a mixing bowl and using a whisk, give it a few turns. It will take any lumps out of the cornmeal and make it easier to add to the stock.
  2. Heat the stock to boiling in a medium size pan. Then turn the heat down to medium.
  3. Using a whisk, keep stirring the stock rapidly, while slowly adding the cornmeal until it is all incorporated into the stock. It is really crucial to keep the stock moving with the whisk while the cornmeal is going in or you will get lumps.
  4. Keep stirring until the mixture is hot and starts to bubble. Turn the heat off.
  5. Continue to stir. Add the butter and stir it in.
  6. Add the salt and stir it in. Taste and add additional salt if desired.
  7. Pour the mixture in baking pan. Let it cool completely.
  8. Remove from the pan and cut it into squares or triangles.
  9. To finish the polenta, you have 2 options:
  • The low fat way: Use a cookie sheet with a wire rack to bake the polenta pieces. Using a silicone brush, lightly brush olive oil on both sides and bake at 425F for about 30 min or until golden brown. You can leave it longer if you like them a little more brown. You don't need much olive oil. I usually get away with about 2 tablespoon for the entire batch. It will have a nice crust, but still be tender on the inside. Re-heats very nicely, so its great as a quick snack.
  • Coat the bottom of a heavy fry pan with generous amount of olive oil. Heat oil until hot and saute the polenta until golden brown on both sides.
  • Serve with pasta sauce as a main entree or with a side of sauce as a snack or side dish.

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Copyright © 2007, 2008, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Grilled Feast

After a long and miserable winter I have been just itching to get out and grill. I have been craving the smokey taste of a good meal cooked in the Stone Pony, my outdoor stone oven. Easter Sunday had good weather, and my whole family was eager to have a spring feast.

This luscious dinner features a leg of lamb, turkey wings, and  natural casing franks. The side dishes are light to compensate for all the meat. We served it with arugula, radishes, Armenian cucumbers and tomatoes. We also included Tahini Dipping Sauce and Yogurt Cucumber Salad.  There are enough leftovers to make lunches for a family of four for a week.

You don't need a stone oven to make this delicious feast, a standard charcoal or gas grill will do fine. I would suggest two outstanding accessories that you can buy for your grill that open up a world of possibilities.

Get yourself a rotisserie kit for your grill, which you can buy at any hardware or home store.  These are easy to install motorized affairs which make it easy to cook meat just right because it prevents burning. Ribs, chicken, turkey, and sausage all come out perfect when you use the rotisserie.

You can also get a rotisserie basket, which is the greatest thing to have. A basket allows you to cook things like sausage, chops, or chicken drumsticks
without losing half of your food into the fire.

For this repast I marinated a leg of lamb in my Mediterranean Dry Rub. I also had some turkey wings in my freezer from Thanksgiving, and my son was craving grilled hot dogs. I won't even mention that we also made a brown sugar ham indoors, but that is a story for another day.

A leg of lamb is very easy to de-bone if you allow yourself to be sloppy. Don't worry about leaving too much meat on the bone, you can always grill the meaty bone and serve it to your guest of honor, or eat it yourself.


  • 1 medium leg of lamb, de-boned
  • 4 whole turkey wings
  • 1 pack of high quality natural casing beef franks
  • 4 tablespoons of chopped garlic
  • 6 cloves whole garlic
  • Coarse sea salt to taste.


  1. You must prep your meats at least 24-48 hours in advance. Hint: I prep mine before vacuum sealing and freezing, so that I can always be ready for a party.
  2. De-bone the leg of lamb by cutting away the meat around the bone. Don't worry about cutting it too close.
  3. If there is a thick fat rind on the leg, peel most of it away. Again, no need to be precise, some fat helps to baste the leg during cooking. Most of the fat will drip off anyways.
  4. Cut the turkey wings along the joint with a heavy, sharp knife. For each wing this will create a piece that looks like a drumstick and another that looks like a wing tip. Both will be delicious.
  5. Tenderize the leg by pounding with a meat hammer and poking it all over with a fork. You can also buy a gadget full of pins that can tenderize meat.
  6. With a narrow, sharp knife make incisions in the lamb and push in the cloves of garlic.
  7. Lightly sprinkle both sides with sea salt.
  8. coat the meat on both sides with chopped garlic.
  9. Sprinkle the Mediterranean Dry Rub liberally on bot sides of the meat and pat down.
  10. Salt, garlic, and dry rub the turkey wings the same way that you did the lamb.
  11. Let all the meat sit covered in the fridge for at least 1 day. You should remove the meat from the fridge at least 2 hours before cooking so that it comes to room temperature.
  12. Rub the inside of the grill basket with oil, or spray with cooking spray. This is to prevent meat loss through sticking.
  13. Stuff the lamb into the basked and use the turkey wings to fill in the gaps. You want the basket to be overstuffed so that things are really tight. This is because the meat will shrink and you don't want it moving around or falling into the fire.
  14. Push the rotisserie skewer through the basket only after you have stuffed the meat. The skewer will make things even more snug.
  15. Install the skewered basked into your rotisserie on the grill. The picture above shows my rotisserie installed in the Stone Pony.
  16. Cook over low heat for at least 2 hours, my leg was large so I cooked it for 3 hours.
  17. Toward the end of the cooking time slide the hot dogs onto the grill under the rotating basket. This will cause the juices from the meat to flavor the hot dogs as they cook.
  18. Cook the hot dogs about 5 minutes on each side.
  19. Take your time enjoying this meal and don't eat this much meat too often.
Copyright © 2007, 2008, All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ham and Cheese Stromboli

If you are wondering what to do with your left over Easter Ham, here is a great way to serve it without a lot of work. The taste of the ham and Swiss cheese is very similar to the taste of Chicken Cordon Blue, but this dish travels a bit better.

Like our other Italian Dishes, this dish is a great crowd pleaser. You can serve it as an appetizer to company, or take it to work for lunch.
This also makes great game time munchies when you are watching your beloved Celtics or Patriots.

  • 2-4 slices of ham
  • 1 ball of pizza dough, I got mine at a local pizza joint. Allow the dough to rise before using.
  • 6-8 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1 handful of corn meal
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

  1. Place the ham in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Cook for at least 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly seared. This helps get rid of some of the water, which prevents your stromboli from exploding in the oven. It also concentrates the flavor and makes it smokier.
  3. Roll out the dough, using the corn meal to prevent sticking to your board.
  4. Lay out the dough on a cookie sheet.
  5. Cut the ham into strips and spread evenly over the dough.
  6. Spread the shredded cheese over the ham.
  7. Roll up the dough around the ingredients.
  8. Press down the ends with a fork to seal, this is important so that you do not lose your cheese.
  9. Poke holes with a tooth pick all along the top. The holes should be spaced at least 1 inch apart. This is important so that your pie does not explode in the oven.
  10. Brush the surface of the dough with olive oil.
  11. Bake at 375o for 30 minutes.
  12. Let stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pizza Arabiata

I had a pizza like this at a brick oven pizzeria in New England. I am not sure if all the ingredients are the same, but the taste really captured the spirit of the original pie. Combine this pie with other pizzas in our Italian Food Page to make a great pizza smorgasbord dinner. This is a great way to feed a large number of guests with good variety.

If you see some steps and pictures from other recipes, it is because I usually make more than one food at once and share the steps. For example I made this pizza at the same time that I made the Pizza Bianca Verdi, and Pizza Quattro Carnita. That night each person in the family got to have their favorite and I had lots of good leftovers for lunch.

This pizza is also great for outdoor grilling, especially if you have an outdoor stone oven like the Stone Pony. If you do cook it on a grill you will need to experiment with temperatures and cooking times. As a general guide line, keep the heat low, cook it covered, and cut the time in half.

The gap in the middle of the pizza helps to make the crust crispier. This is especially important if you grill it outdoors because the bottom is so much hotter than the top. In Europe they often break a raw egg in the middle toward the end of the cooking and put the pizza back in the oven. In this case the pizza should be cooked until the egg whites are opaque, but the yoke is still runny. One time in Grenoble I sent the pizza back because the egg whites were still runny.

  • 1/2 lb ball of pizza dough. I bought mine at a local pizza parlor.
  • 2 Links fresh Italian sausage, grilled
  • 1-2 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 fresh Italian pepper
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1-2 Portabello mushrooms, grilled
  • 2 Oz. smoked salami. Use your favorite salami.
  • 6 black dry cured Moroccan or French olives
  • 6 Martini olives
  • 2 slices of ham, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 oz Romano Cheese, grated

  1. Dice the tomatoes and place in a colander over a bowl.
  2. Lightly salt the tomatoes and mix in some dry oregano. Leave to drain. Reserve the juice of the tomato, you can use it in sauce, but I just drink it! Unbelievable taste.
  3. Roll out the dough and brush with olive oil and garlic. Set aside.
  4. Grill the sausage over low heat for about 30 minutes.
  5. Rub the mushrooms with garlic and brush with olive oil.
  6. Grill the mushrooms, fin side down first. Flip after 5 minutes and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Grill the peppers and onions individually.
  8. Slice the sausage.
  9. spread the tomatoes on the dough, cover with the Romano and some of the Mozzarella.
  10. Add the rest of the goodies, and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top.
  11. Bake at 425o F for 30 minutes.
  12. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting.
  13. If desired, sprinkle with crushed red peppers

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nutty Butter-Cream Frosted Cake

This is my fast and quick version of a cake that was only served on special occasions when I was growing up. The original was store bought from a local company and its no longer readily available. So I came up with my own version of this cake. It is less than 30 minutes of work and you can have a cake nice enough to serve to company. The hard part is letting the cake sit overnight or for a few hours so that it reaches its maximum flavor.


  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 1 can of butter-cream frosting
  • 1 1/2 cups of finely chopped pecans


  1. Use two 8 inch round pans. Spray with nonstick spray.
  2. Prepare and bake the cakes according to the package directions.
  3. Finely chopped the pecans. If you use a food processor, careful chop using the pulse mode or you might end up with pecan butter. The pecans should be small like bread crumbs.
  4. Cut 2 pieces of wax paper a little wider than 1/2 of the size of the serving dish you are using and overlap at the center of the dish. This will help keep the dish neat and presentable.
  5. Using a spatula, thoroughly mix the frosting in the can.
  6. (OPTIONAL) reserve about a 1/3 cup of the frosting for decorating.
  7. Place the first cake on the top of the wax paper and frost the center.
  8. Sprinkle some of the pecans on to the frosting making sure you have covered the entire frosted area.
  9. Place the second cake on top of the first and frost the top and sides. You don't need a lot for the sides.
  10. Using your hands press the pecans onto the side of the cake. It will get a little messy, but its worth the effort. Make sure the sides are thoroughly covered with the nuts.
  11. Using a wide flat spatula, carefully lift one side of the cake off the wax paper and slide the wax paper out. Turn the cake and repeat the process to remove the other piece of wax paper. If necessary you can use a silicone brush to brush away any leftover nuts off the dish.
  12. To give the cake a nice eye appeal, take a small Ziploc bag and snip a small opening in one of the corners off and attach a decorating tip if you have it. Otherwise, you will be able to pipe the frosting through the small opening in the bag. Place the reserved frosting in the bag and decorate around the top edge of the cake. Be creative and use up all the frosting.
  13. Now this is this the hard part, the cake tastes best if left to sit overnight. I believe that all the nuts and frosting get a chance to mingle and it really brings out the flavor of the the two. Otherwise, its ready to serve. Enjoy it with a nice cup of green tea or a tall glass of ice cold milk.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Light and Tasty Chinese Eggrolls

Light and Tasty Chinese Eggrolls

This is another beloved grandma chinese recipe. These eggrolls are loved by all who have tasted these lucious morsels. They are packed full of veggies and a touch of beef. The beef can certainly be omitted, for a truly vegetarin delight. While they are fried, they are not heavy or greasy. I can't remember a time when grandma (my mom) has not made these for holidays and special gatherings. These are truly a grandma classic.

  • 8 oz of lean beef or chicken
  • 1tbsp of soy
  • 1tsp of sesame oil
  • 2tsp of rice wine
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 3-4 green onions
  • 2 lbs of bean sprouts
  • 1/4 tsp of salt (can use up to 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp of oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp of cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp of stock
  • eggroll skins
  • canola oil


  1. Slice the beef into match stick size and marinade in the soy, sesame oil and wine. Set aside for about 30 minutes.
  2. Clean and peel the carrots. Cut them into match size sticks.
  3. Clean and cut the celery into match size sticks.
  4. Clean and finely chop the green onions
  5. Wash the bean sprout and drain all the water.
  6. Mix the oyster sauce with 1 tbsp of stock.
  7. Mix the cornstarch with the remaining stock.
  8. In a large pan, coat the bottom of pan with canola oil. On medium/high heat stir fry the beef until cook. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  9. Add a little more canola oil to the pan if needed.
  10. Add the carrots and stir fry for about 3 minutes.
  11. Add the celery and stir fry for another 3 minutes.
  12. Return the beef and thoroughly mix it in.
  13. Add the green onions and mix it in.
  14. Add the oyster sauce/stock and mix it in.
  15. Add the salt. If you are going to dip the eggrolls in a soy based sauce the 1/4 tsp will be enough salt, otherwise taste the filling and add a little more salt if needed.
  16. Add the bean sprouts and incorporate them into the mix.
  17. Add the cornstarch, mix it in and remove the pan from the heat
  18. Remove the contents and set it in a colander to drain the juice. This is crucial because if you don't remove the liquid, the eggroll skin will become soggy. Then, when you fry the eggroll, it will burst. It is best that the filling be left to drain for several hours.
  19. To roll the eggrolls, place about 2 heaping tablespoon of filling across one of the corners and fold the corner over. Then fold each side in and roll tightly.
  20. Deep fry a few at a time until they are golden brown. Make sure that when you first slide the eggroll into the oil, the flap is facing up, so that it will be sealed at it is fried. Set them on paper towels to absorb some of the oil. If the oil is hot enough, very little oil will be absorbed by the eggrolls.
  21. Let the cool a bit and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Hint: If your oven has a warmer drawer, put the eggrolls on a wire rack in the warmer drawer after you fry them. This keep them warm while you are cookng and helps to make them crisper. That way you can serve the meal when you are ready to sit with the family instead of cooking while everybody else eats the eggrolls.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Simple and Delicious Traditional Chinese Noodle Dish - Ma Yi Shang Shu

The name Ma Yi Shang Shu literally translates to "ants climbing a tree", but there are no ants or trees involved. My mom has been making this dish for at least 30 years. It is a true and tried recipe. I have loved the taste of this dish since I was a young girl. My sisters and I used to fight over the last few morsels of this dish. The recipe is courtesy of Grandma(my mom). The dish takes less than 30 minutes to prep and cook. The only caviat is that you MUST use bean thread vermicelli, not rice vermicelli which is a mistake I made the first time I attempted to make this dish. The bean thread vermicelli will absorb all the liquid that is called for in the recipe. When I used the rice vermicelli, the dish was tasty, but we had soup, not a noodle dish. So, learn from my mistake and use bean thread vermicelli. This vermicelli can be found in any Asian store. Grandma told me to look for the red dragon on the package so there would be no mistake.


  • 2 bundles of bean thread vermicelli
  • 6 oz of ground pork
  • 1tbsp of soy
  • 1tbsp of rice wine
  • 1tsp of sesame oil
  • 3 green onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp of finely grated ginger, use a microplane grater
  • 1 1/2 tsp of chili hot paste (if you want it extra spicy, add more of the chili paste)
  • 1 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp of soy
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of cornstarch
  • white pepper (DO NOT SUBSTITUTE WITH BLACK PEPPER-its a totally different taste)
  • canola oil


  1. Marinade the pork in the soy, rice wine and sesame oil as you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Combine the seasonings which are 2/3 of the green onion, ginger, garlic and chili paste and set aside. The rest of the chopped green onion will be used later.
  3. Combine the stock, soy, salt, sugar and cornstarch.
  4. Place the bean thread vermicelli in a large mixing bowl and add enough hot water to cover the bundles. They should soft immediately, if not leave them for a minutes. Remove from the water and set aside.
  5. Coat the bottom of a wok or deep sided skllet with oil and cook the ground pork. As the pork cooks, make sure you break up any large clumps with your cooking utensils. Once it is thoroughly cooked, which should be about 5 minutes, move the meat to one side of the pan.
  6. Add the seasonings and cook until fragrant. Then mix the meat into the seasonings and continue to cook for a minute.
  7. Add the soften bean vermicelli and thoroughly mix into the meat and seasonings.
  8. Stir your mixed stock and add to the pan. Bring it to a quick boil and reduce the heat. Continue to cook uncovered until the liquid is all absorbed. It should take about 5 minutes or so. Give the noodles a stir once in a while. Once all the liquid is absorbed, the dish is ready.
  9. Put in a serving dish, sprinkle with white pepper and throw the saved chopped green onion on. Its ready to serve.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Pizza Quattro Carnita

I will not claim any authenticity in the name of this pizza, Quattro Carnoso would probably be more accurate, but I like the sound of Quattro Carnita. Basically I am trying to convey the idea of four meats, but there is stuff besides meat on each quarter.

This is really four pizza's in one. Moving clockwise from the top:

  1. Fresh tomato, bacon, onion, and black olive
  2. Smoked salami, black olive, and fresh tomato
  3. Italian sausage, Italian peppers, grilled onions, and fresh tomato
  4. Ham, green olive, and fresh tomato

The only problem with this pizza is that it is difficult to share. I did manage to cut it into eight pieces so that both Lizabetti and myself could try each section, but no more than 2 people can get a share. This is the perfect pizza for two people. If you have company, I suggest making 4 whole pizzas.

This pizza is great to make outdoors in the Stone Pony or in you standard indoor oven. I think that you will agree that this pizza makes a nice addition to Lizabetti's collection of Italian recipes.

  • 1/2 lb ball of pizza dough. I bought mine at a local pizza parlor.
  • 2 Links fresh Italian sausage, grilled
  • 1-2 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 fresh Italian pepper
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 strips of cooked bacon, can be microwaved at 1 minute per strip
  • 1-2 Portabello mushrooms, grilled
  • 2 Oz. smoked salami. Use your favorite salami.
  • 6 black dry cured Moroccan or French olives
  • 6 Martini olives
  • 2 slices of ham, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

  1. Dice the tomatoes and place in a colander over a bowl.
  2. Lightly salt the tomatoes and mix in some dry oregano. Leave to drain.
  3. Roll out the dough and brush with olive oil and garlic. Set aside.
  4. Grill the sausage over low heat for about 30 minutes.
  5. Rub the mushrooms with garlic and brush with olive oil.
  6. Grill the mushrooms, fin side down first. Flip after 5 minutes and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Grill the peppers and onions individually.
  8. Slice the sausage.
  9. roll out 2 stick shaped pieces of dough and criss-cross over the base. This forms a border between the 4 sections.
  10. spread the tomatoes on the dough, cover with cheese.
  11. build the slices as follows:
    1. Sausage, peppers, onions
    2. ham, green olives
    3. bacon, black olives, onions
    4. Salami, black olives
  12. Top each section with additional cheese.
  13. Bake at 425o F for 30 minutes.
  14. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting.
  15. If desired, sprinkle with crushed red peppers and serve with ice cold beer. Mangiare!

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Healthy Hearty Hommus

Hommus is a delicious dip served in many Middle Eastern countries, but it is also a healthy vegetarian dish with enough flavor and protein to be served as a main course. Many variations are made, but in this recipe I stay very close to the classic style. Most recipes you will see use canned garbanzo beans(chick peas). This is fine, but the canned beans lack the naturally nutty flavor which is characteristic of the authentic version. Also, using the dry beans gives the dip a much richer texture. For this reason I make the recipe with toasted garbanzo beans. It is not much effort, and I think you will agree that the flavor is much more robust than other recipes.

A popular way to serve this dish is part of a mazza snack tray that includes hommus, baba ghanouj, labna, cucumber dip, and bakdooniseya. Put out some fresh bread and vegetables and you have enough delicious healthy snacks for a cocktail party or a football game. If you want to parley this into a vegetarian buffet dinner, just add fava beans and falafel.


  • 1 cup dry garbanzo beans (chick peas)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 juicy limes
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional, add more if you like it spicy
  1. wash garbanzo beans, soak in luke warm water for 24 hours or until soft
  2. drain the garbanzos and lay on a cookie sheet, lightly salt
  3. Cover the cookie sheet with foil or another cookie sheet and bake at 350o F for 30-40 minutes. You have to cover it because the garbanzos tend to pop and fly around your oven.
  4. Place the beans in a food processor. Add 1/2 cup of water and pulverize until it reaches the texture of coarse peanut butter.
  5. Add parsley and peeled garlic. Pulverize until smooth.
  6. Add tahini, olive oil, and squeeze in lime juice.
  7. Pulverize until smooth.
  8. Serve with pita bread, cut vegetables and olives.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Rustic Sausage Penne with Fresh Herbs

I first made this dish to use up some leftover meats from my Smoked Turkey with a Side of Sausage recipe. However, I liked it so much that I make it all the time now. It is rare to find really pasta dishes that take advantage of grilled flavor, you can make this dish from your leftovers or serve it as a main course at a cookout.

Last summer Lizabetti's herb garden was full of garlic chives, oregano, and parsley. These fresh flavors really wake up the penne and make the tastes just dance on your tongue. Using whole wheat pasta contributes to the heady rustic flavor of this dish. I can't wait for summer to come back so that I can eat these type of dishes again.

  • 4 links Italian Sausage, grilled and sliced
  • 4 oz outdoor smoked turkey, or leftover grilled steak
  • 8 pitted Moroccan or French dry cured black olives
  • 3 oz shredded sharp provolone or Parmesan cheese.
  • 1 Italian pepper, sliced and grilled
  • 2 Portabello mushrooms or 8 Crimini mushrooms
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 lb whole wheat penne pasta.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • 2 hand fulls Fresh herbs per availability. I used garlic chives, parsley, and oregano.

  1. Grill sausage and set aside, or use leftover sausage if available.
  2. Rub Portabellas with garlic and olive oil. Grill fin side down firs for 5 minutes, flip then grill an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Boil water, add pasta, boil for 6-8 minutes, drain.
  4. Slice and grill the Italian pepper
  5. Slice the sausage and turkey(or steak).
  6. Heat up a pan, add olive oil, and fry the garlic.
  7. Throw in the meat, slightly sear.
  8. Add the mushrooms, olives and peppers. Mix thoroughly.
  9. Throw the pasta into the pan, mix and sear slightly.
  10. Sprinkle with the cheese.
  11. Transfer the whole mixture into a serving bowl, sprinkle with fresh herbs.
  12. Serve with a Chianti or for a lighter drink, a red wine spritzer (red wine, seltzer, ice).

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Pizza Bianca Verdi

Vegetarian pizzas run the risk of being tasteless or boring. Not the case with this pizza which incorporates flavors that work together well. The taste of grilled Portabello mushrooms and eggplant combine with the cheese, onions, peppers and spinach to create a real treat. Add some fresh basil and the flavor is out of this world.

The name of this pizza means white green pizza. White because it has no tomato sauce, and green because of the spinach and basil. This is a great candidate for cooking in the Stone Pony.

Hint: Even though many steps in this recipe call for grilling, you can achieve the same taste by brushing the ingredients with olive oil and searing in a non-stick pan.

  • 1/2 pound pizza dough ball. I bought mine at a local pizza parlor, but you can make your own if you like.
  • 1 small eggplant, sliced.
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 Portabello mushroom cap
  • 1 Italian pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 3-4 leaves of fresh basil, chopped coarse.
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz Gorgonzola cheese
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese

  1. Roll out the dough, brush with olive oil and garlic and set aside.
  2. Slice and salt the eggplant, set aside to shed water.
  3. Slice the onion, drizzle with olive oil and grill until caramelized. You can also sear in a non-stick pan.
  4. Rub the mushroom caps with garlic and brush with olive oil and grill. It is important to grill fin side down first.
  5. Blot dry the eggplant, brush with olive oil and grill. It is also possible to broil the eggplant 10 minutes on each side.
  6. Slice the Italian pepper into rings, brush with olive oil and grill quickly, being careful not to let it get mushy.
  7. Layer the eggplant on the dough followed by the Gorgonzola cheese and the spinach. Save some of the spinach.
  8. Layer all the rest of the ingredients, top with chopped basil, the rest of the spinach and the mozzarella cheese.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 425o F.
  10. Let stand for at least 5 minutes. If desired sprinkle with crushed red pepper for a little extra pizazz.

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Simple and Fresh Tasting Yogurt Cucumber Dip

The simplicity of this dip takes nothing away from its delicious Mediterranean flavor. This is a taste that you may have encountered on a shawirma or gyros sandwich, but it also works great as a bread dip or a salad toping. It is a great side dish for other middle eastern dishes such as falafel, fava beans, shish kebab, or stuffed grape leaves.

If you want to make it thick enough to be used as a sandwich spread, you can substitute Lebna for the yogurt. This will also make the flavor slightly more tangy as well.

  • 1 cup of plain yogurt. If you want the dip to be thicker for a sandwich spread substitute Lebna.
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mint
  • 1 shake of salt

  1. Peel the cucumber.
  2. Make a criss-cross pattern on the cucumber with a knife.
  3. Use a vegetable peeler to slice the cucumber into a bowl. The criss-cross pattern will make the chunks small.
  4. salt the cucumbers, add the mint and garlic. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Add the yogurt, mix thoroughly.
  6. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, or let stand in the fridge for up to 2 days.
  7. Serve with your favorite foods or just enjoy crispy bread or chips.

Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Baba Ghanouj - Eggplant Dip

Baba Ghanouj is a tasty eggplant dip that combines the tastes of eggplant, garlic and sesame for a heady favor. The eggplants taste peppery and the herbs accentuate all the other flavors.

Many people bake the eggplant for this dish, but I like to grill it to amplify the taste. I also like to keep the peel because it tastes good and contains a significant portion of the nutrients of the fruit. As long as you finely puree it, the tastes will blend nicely.

Baba Ghanouj can be enjoyed as a bread dip at a party, or as a side dish for falafel or fava beans. It can also be made into a sandwich with fresh tomatoes for a light lunch.

  • 1 medium sized fresh eggplant
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons tahini sesame seed sauce. You can buy this now at most grocery stores, or any Middle Eastern food store.
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

  1. Thick slice the eggplant, salt and set aside until it sheds its water.
  2. Blot dry the eggplant slices, rub with olive oil and grill. I used an indoor electric grill this time, but it is even better if you can grill it on a wood fire. In the summer I would use the Stone Pony.
  3. Chop the parsley, garlic, and cilantro in the food processor.
  4. Add the eggplants and puree thoroughly. At this point you have a tasty eggplant relish that can be eaten on toast, but keep going, it gets better.
  5. Add spices, tahini, and lemon/lime juice. Puree until smooth.
  6. Serve with bread and cut fresh vegetables such as cucumbers, radishes, celery and carrots.
Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved

Egyptian Falafel Feast - Taameya

Taameya (ta9-may-ya) is the Egyptian word for falafel, but Egyptian falafel is also different from the garden variety falafel that you usually get in this country. The difference is that the Egyptian variety are made with fava beans instead of chick peas(Garbanzo beans). Fave beans have a much richer flavor and are higher in protein and fiber than chick peas. If you can't find dry fava beans, you can use dry chick peas in the same quantities as this recipe. 

Falafel and fava bean sandwiches are the original fast food and are available at many corner stands throughout the Middle East. They are a delicious, economical, and extremely healthy main course choice.

This dish is an awesome vegetarian treat that will leave you completely satisfied. Serve it with Tahini Bagdoonisya dip, Baba Ghanoujyogurt sauce, and cut vegetables. You can also freeze the uncooked mixture for 6 months and cook it as you need it. For a lighter, healthier alternative, try my Baked Falafel Recipe

I would like to thank my dear Professor Lingua Franca for the original idea and instruction in cooking this dish.


  • 2 cups fava beans, peeled if possible. You can buy this at any Middle Eastern market. If they are not available peeled, you can peel them after soaking, or keep the peel for additional fiber.
  • 1 fresh leek, washed and sliced.
  • 1 bunch fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 head of garlic

  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander

  • 1 tsp cayanne pepper, double the quantity for Alexandria style.

  • 1 tbsp baking powder

  • 2 tsp sea salt (can be omitted or reduced for health reasons, it will still taste good)
  • 2 cups canola oil (re-usable)


Prep the Beans:

  1. Wash the beans thoroughly in luke warm water.
  2. Soak the beans in water for at least 2 days, changing the water about 4 times during this period. The first water changing should come when the beans form a foamy froth on the surface. Changing the water will prevent the beans' gassy effect on your GI tract.
  3. Drain the beans when ready to make the paste.

Make the Paste:

  1. Place the parsley, cilantro and garlic in the food processor, chop fine.
  2. Add the green onions and leeks, chop fine.
  3. Remove the vegetable paste from the food processor and set aside. Do not wash the food processor.
  4. Add the beans to the food processor and chop until they reach the consistency of a thick peanut butter.

  5. In a bowl, mix the vegetable paste and chopped beans.
  6. Add the cumin, coriander, cayanne, and salt. If you are going to freeze the mixture, leave out the salt and add it when you are going to cook the falafel.
  7. Mix the ingredients thoroughly and stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water. Mix the paste thoroughly.
  8. Sprinkle the baking powder over the paste, evenly fold into the paste.
  9. Let stand for at least 1 hour. You can also leave it covered in the fridge over night.

  10. Use an ice cream scoop or a spoon to form balls out of the paste. Place on wax paper or non-stick surface.

  11. Use a fork to form the balls into a disk shape about 1/2 inch thick.

Fry the falafel:

  1. Heat the oil over medium high heat. It should be hot enough for deep frying. Mine was about 200oF (94oC).
  2. Use a spatula to put 4 patties at a time into the oil. It should immediately bubble. If it does not bubble, it is not hot enough.
  3. Cook each set of patties for 30 seconds, until it s a rich brown. Remove with a strainer, drain the oil thoroughly and place the falafel on a paper towel to blot.
  4. Keep repeating this process. Every few batches pass the strainer through the oil and remove the burnt solids and discard. This will keep your oil clean and prevent it from breaking down. It will also prevent any oily taste to your falafel.

I realize that it looks lengthy, but the work portion of it can be done in 45 minutes. You just need to plan ahead for the soak time for the beans and the stand time for the paste. If you freeze this mixture, you can enjoy this tasty treat anytime without too much effort, even on a week night.

River took this to Lunch in this Bento Box that he bought for Stella in Japan. It made for a delicious light lunch which was also very satisfying. Stella kept nagging him until he brought the box home.

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Copyright © 2007, 2008, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Herb Crusted Dover Sole

This simple dish can make a Friday night seem seem special without a lot of effort. The cooking time is just a few minutes and then you will have a delicious and healthy repast.

The dinner shown takes less than 30 minutes to cook, and most of that is just to make the Red Rice, everything else takes five minutes. You can't even order take-out that fast.

  • 8 oz. fresh Sole, about 2 fillets
  • 1 oz Fontina Cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • Enough fine cornmeal to cover a plate (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 pat of butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Fresh Lime
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Paprika to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic

  1. Mix the shredded cheese, herbs, and ground pepper. Set aside.
  2. Salt the fish fillets, cover with garlic, sprinkle with paprika and pepper.
  3. Let the fish stand at room temperature for a few minutes. You can also cover it and store in the fridge overnight, that way it can be ready to go when you cook it.
  4. Pat the fillets in the cornmeal on both sides, shake off the excess. The cornmeal helps create a coating that holds the sole together as sole is somewhat fragile.
  5. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, stir in the olive oil and bring the mixture to a light simmer.
  6. Lay the fillets in the pan, cook for two minutes, flip.
  7. Apply a squeeze of lime to the top of the fillets
  8. Layer the cheese/herb mixture over the fillets. Cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  9. Serve with rice and stir fried vegetables.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, All Rights Reserved