Friday, September 26, 2014

RECIPE: Zucchini-Applesauce Chocolate Chip Loaf

Difficulty Level: Easy
Total Time: 2 hr. 35 min.
Size: 5-by-10-inch loaf pan


Nonstick cooking spray
Parchment paper
1 cup spelt flour (I use Bob's Red Mill brand)
1 cup all purpose flour
2 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. coarse salt
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup safflower oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 cups grated zucchini (from 1 large zucchini or several small ones)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 ounces (about 3/4 cup) bittersweet chocolate chips (or finely chopped chocolate)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat loaf pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches of overhang on the long sides. Spray the parchment, as well.

2. Whisk together flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar, zucchini, and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture into the wet mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate.

3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour, 5 minutes. Let loaf cool completely on wire rack before removing from pan.

 *Loaf can be stored at room temp. for up to two days.
**You can also bake the batter in 4 mini (3 x 5 1/2-inch) loaf pans. Divide batter evenly among  pans and reduce baking time to about 45 minutes.

RECIPE: Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Difficulty Level: Ambitious Beginner
Time: Approx. 90 min.
Yield: 8 cups; serves 4-6


1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6-8 sprigs of fresh basil
4 lbs. ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded & chopped
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
Salt & Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
Kitchen twine


1. To peel the tomatoes, slightly score the base of each tomato with an X. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and plunge the tomatoes into the water for 10-15 seconds. Remove the tomatoes and set aside until cook enough to handle. The skins will slip off easily. Seed the tomatoes by cutting them in half along their equator and gently squeeze. Chop them and set aside in a bowl.

2. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 7 minutes). Tie the basil sprigs together with a piece of kitchen twine. Add to the onions the basil sprigs, tomatoes, chicken broth, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced by one-quarter (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat & let cool for about 20 min. Remove the basil sprigs.

3. In a blender, puree the soup in 2-3 batches until very smooth, at least two minutes per batch. Place each blended batch into a large bowl. *Take extra care as the soup will still be quite hot while blending. Transfer all the soup back into the soup pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in cream and balsamic vinegar and remove from heat immediately. Taste and add salt & pepper, if needed.

4. Just before serving, cut the fresh basil leaves into thin strips. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with cut basil.

RECIPE: Roasted Cabbage Wedges

Difficulty Level: EASY

1 tablespoon plus 2 more tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium head green cabbage, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1 teaspoon caraway or fennel seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Place 1 medium head green cabbage, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds, in a single layer on sheet and brush with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon caraway or fennel seeds. Roast until cabbage is tender and edges are golden, 40 to 45 minutes.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

RECIPE: Beef Kofta Stuffed Apples

Difficulty level: Easy
Makes 6-8 Servings 

6-8 Gala Apples, Cut 1/2 inch off the top and core center, leaving the outside to form a cup. (reserve top and all the extra cored apple pieces)
1  Egg
½ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
3 (3 tsp.) Garlic Cloves, minced
1/4 Cup Fresh Mint, finely chopped
1 tsp. Ground Coriander
1 tsp. Ground All Spice
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
¼ Cup Pinenuts, toasted (optional)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 lb . Ground Beef

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a muffin tin.

Dice the extra insides of the apple that you cored, removing the seeds.  In a medium-size bowl, whisk egg, panko, garlic, mint, cumin, all spice, cinnamon, pinenuts, cored diced apple pieces, salt and pepper. Crumble in beef and gently mix.  Do not overwork.

Stuff the cored apple cups with the meat mixture.  Place the apples in the greased muffin tin, one apple per muffin mold. Place the top (stem and all) of each apple on top of the apple and meat cup, leaving a bit of the meat exposed.

In the preheated oven, bake the apples, uncovered for 45 minutes until they become soft and juicy.

Serve warm.

RECIPE: Greek-Style Roasted Vegetables

 Difficulty Level: Easy
 Servings: 6 (as a side dish)
 Time: 60-70 minutes

 The perfect recipe for clearing out your produce drawers!


 1 medium onion
 2 small carrots
 1 zucchini
 1 eggplant
 2 small potatoes
 1 small tomato (or 6 cherry/grape tomatoes)
 1 red or yellow pepper
 2 cloves of garlic
 Salt & pepper to taste
 2 tsp. dried oregano (or to taste)
4-5 Tbs. olive oil (or more to taste)


 1. Preheat oven to 375°. Quarter and slice the onion thinly. Dice all the vegetables into pieces that are approximately the same size (no larger than 1/2 inch).

 2. Pile the vegetables into a 9x13 baking dish so that the vegetables lie a few inches thick. Season with salt, pepper & dried oregano, and the pour the olive oil over the vegetables. Mix thoroughly, but gently. Veggies should be well-coated and glistening with oil. If needed, add more oil.

 3. Roast the vegetables for 45 minutes to an hour. Halfway through the roasting process, remove the dish from the oven and gently stir the vegetables, so that the ones at the bottom come to the top. Stir one more time towards the end of the roasting time. Let cool slightly, check for seasoning & serve.

RECIPE: Easy, Delicious End-of-Summer Salad

A tasty idea for what to do with all those tomatoes and fruit...
Peaches or nectarines cut up into slices
Tomatoes cut up into slices
Feta or ricotta cheese
Oil and vinegar                 
Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl.  Add oil and vinegar (I like Champagne vinegar).  Enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2014

RECIPE: Blistered Eggplant with Tomatoes, Olives and Feta

Difficulty Level: Easy
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 large eggplant (about 1 3/4 lbs.), cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 3/4 lbs. mixed tomatoes, small ones halved or quartered, large ones cut into 1/4-inch rounds
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. feta, crumbled
1/2 cup mixed pitted olives
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, lightly chopped
Bread, such as a baguette, for serving (optional, but great for soaking up the drippings!)


1. Preheat broiler with rack 6 inches from the heat source.

2. Place eggplant rounds on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until eggplant is blistered and deep brown on one side, 10-12 minutes. Flip and broil until blistered on other side, 10-12 minutes more. Check on the eggplant periodically, as broiler heat varies from oven to oven.

3. Immediately transfer the eggplant rounds to a medium bowl, toss with olive oil, and cover with a plate. Let stand until softened, approximately 10 minutes.

4. Arrange eggplant and tomatoes on a platter, seasoning each layer (eggplant, then tomatoes) with salt & pepper and drizzling with additional olive oil. Top with feta, olives, and parsley, and toss gently. Serve with bread (optional).

RECIPE: Cucumber ginger ale

Difficulty level: Easy 

Makes 2 drinks (can easily be doubled)

Three 4-inch-long slices English cucumber
2-inch piece ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup raw sugar
Chilled seltzer

Put one of the cucumber slices in the seltzer bottle. Let sit while you make the drink.

Put the ginger, sugar, and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring if needed. Strain and let cool completely.

Fill two tumblers halfway with ice. Add 3 tablespoons ginger syrup to each glass. Fill the glass with the seltzer -- and stir and taste as you go -- add just enough seltzer to make the drink as sweet and gingery as you like. Garnish each glass with a cucumber slice.

RECIPE: Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

Difficulty level: Intermediate 

1 Onion, diced
2 medium summer squash, diced 
Corn kernels from 2 ears of corn
3 cups chicken stock
1 tbs butter
3 teaspoons fresh herbs (such as thyme or parsley)

1.     Heat butter in a large sauce pan

2.     Add diced onions and sauté until soft

3.     Add diced squash and herbs and cook until slightly softened (about 5 minutes)

4.     Add stock and bring to simmer

5.     Add half the corn and simmer all the veggies for another 5 minutes until the squash is soft and mostly translucent and the corn is tender

6.     Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth

7.     Once blended, return the soup to the pot and add the rest of the corn

8.     Bring the soup to a simmer and cook the corn until tender, about five more minutes

9.     Season with salt and pepper, to taste

10.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 5, 2014

RECIPE: Lemon Sesame Cucumber Salad

Difficulty Level: Easy

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 small lemon
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted in a pan over medium heat until fragrant and golden, 4 to 5 minutes
3 medium cucumbers, sliced, salted, and drained (see directions)

Peel, halve lengthwise, and scoop seeds from cucumbers. Stack halves flat side down; slice diagonally 1/4-inch thick. Toss with 1 tablespoon salt in strainer or colander set over bowl; weight with water-filled, one-gallon-sized zipper-lock freezer bag, sealed tight. Drain for at least 1 hour, and up to 3 hours. Transfer to medium bowl; reserve for further use.

Whisk all ingredients except cucumbers in medium bowl. Add cucumbers; toss to coat. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

RECIPE: Summer Raw Pasta Sauce with Spaghetti

Difficulty level: Easy
serves 2

6 ounces spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or more)
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
4 heirloom tomatoes, any variety, cut into bite-size chunks
12 olives, a mix of green and black, coarsely chopped
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into bite size chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A handful of basil leaves, thinly sliced

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients, except basil, in a large bowl (large enough to hold the pasta too) and gently stir to combine.

3. Season raw sauce to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When pasta is al dente, scoop the pasta directly over the sauce and gently toss to combine.

4. Add more olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Sprinkle basil slices over the top and serve immediately.

RECIPE: Stone Fruit Compote

 Difficulty Level: Easy
 Yield: 1 1/3 cups
 *Consider enjoying this chunky fruit spread on toast with ricotta or spoon it over yogurt.

 2 1/4 cups coarsely chopped stone fruit, such as peaches, nectarines & plums, about 3/4 lb. total (leave skins on)
 2 Tbs. honey
 Coarse salt (a pinch!)
 1 wide strip lemon zest
 1 small cinnamon stick
 2-3 Tbs. water

 1. In a small saucepan, combine fruit, honey, pinch of salt, lemon zest, cinnamon stick & water.
 2. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fruit is soft, 8-12 minutes.
 3. Transfer to a pint-size jar & let cool. (Remove cinnamon stick)

 *To store: tighten lid on jar & refrigerate for up to 2 weeks