Monday, August 23, 2010

Food Frenzy

Did I tell you how much I love food? Seriously - I have a love affair with eating. My joy is palpable. (Perhaps the new 10 pounds showing on my scale have something to do with this affair I am having????) I also enjoy cooking great food. Love experimenting with new recipes and making my seasonal favorites throughout the year. So - right now it's summer. And aside from od'ing on fresh tomatoes and our local farmstand's corn, below are recipes of the dishes I absolutely must make at least once or five times twice each summer.


Bake a pie crust as directed. When it comes from the oven, sprinkle 1/2 cup shredded mozz. on the bottom and cool the crust. While it is cooling, food process or whatever 1 cup basil, 1 tsp. EVOO and 2 cloves garlic. When pie is cool, layer 5-6 tomatos sliced (slice and lay on paper towels for like 15-20 minutes to get rid of the juice first) and then spread the basil mixture over the tomatos. Mix up 1 cup mozz., 1/2 cup mayo., 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and 1/8 tsp or so of black pepper. Spread over the basil and bake the whole thing at 375 for 35-40 minutes. (I use a pamper chef pie crust thingy that keeps the pie crust edge from burning). OMG - DELISH!! NOT LOW CAL but so unbelievably GOOD!!!!!

FAVORITE APPETIZER (or as a side salad also!) Black Bean Salsa

2 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 (11 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained (vacuum packed)
½ container of grape tomatoes, cut into 1/8ths
1 large avocado, peeled & chopped
1 purple onion, chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tspn salt
½ tspn pepper

Combine all ingredients, cover & chill. Serve with tortilla chips (lime are best).

FAVORITE DRINK? Watermelon Sangria ala Karen M.

1 bottle white wine - don't use an expensive kind
3/4 cup watermelon schnapps/or sometimes called Pucker
1/2 cup white cranberry juice
2 cups freshly cut (into small pieces) watermelon
2 limes, cut into half wheels

Combine all ingredients in large glass pitcher and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for atleast four hours. Serve over ice.

FAVORITE EGGPLANT DISH? Lucia's Melanzana in Padedda (no clue who Lucia is!)

3 pounds medium eggplants
About 2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2-3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more if eggplant is not salted
Lucia’s Tomato Sauce, recipe below
About 1½ tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Handful of basil leaves, washed and spun dry

To salt eggplant, with a vegetable peeler, peel eggplants and slice crosswise into rounds 1/4-1/2 vinch thick. Arrange a layer in a large colander and sprinkle lightly with salt; repeat layering and salting until all rounds are salted. Weight them with a plate or inverted pot lid and set aside for 1 hour. Then rinse slices and, taking a few slices in your hand at a time, squeeze out the excess liquid like a sponge, repeating until all slices are dry. (I NEVER DO THIS SALTING PART!!!!)

To fry eggplant, heat 1 or 2 large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillets over moderate-high heat. Add about 1½ tablespoons of oil to each and swirl to coat. When oil is hot and shimmering, but not smoking, arrange a single layer of eggplant slices in each pan. Cover and cook until the underside is golden, 3-5 minutes; turn slices with a spatula, drizzle in additional oil as necessary, and continue cooking, shifting slices around occasionally until golden and tender, 3-4 minutes longer. Remove slices as they are done onto a large platter and set aside to cool. Repeat until all eggplant has been fried.

To assemble, spoon about ½ cup of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 11- or 12-inch flameproof casserole or skillet. Arrange a layer of eggplant slices over the sauce and spread these with about ¼ cup tomato sauce. Sprinkle lightly with Parmigiano and scatter torn basil leaves on top (roughly 2 inches apart). Repeat, building up 4 or 5 layers until all the eggplant is used. Spread top with ½ cup tomato sauce, a final sprinkling of Parmigiano and basil leaves. (The casserole can be assembled at this point up to a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate, letting come to room temperature 3 hours before the final cooking.)

Cover and cook casserole over low heat, pressing eggplant down occasionally with a spatula, for about 15-20 minutes, until oil begins to bubble up along the sides. Do not be tempted to rush the process by turning up the heat. Uncover and continue cooking about 10 minutes longer. The casserole should be tender and melting, with spots of oil bubbling on the top. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 6.

Lucia LoPresti’s marinara sauce makes a perfect sauce for pasta and a fine base for many dishes, from stuffed peppers to stews.


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped, about ¾ cup

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8-1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes, optional

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes or drained whole peeled plum tomatoes

1/4-1/2 teaspoon sugar

Pour olive oil into a large skillet and stir in onion. Over medium-low heat, saute onion until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute until it just starts to color. Add pepper flakes, if desired (they will add just a hint of appetizing heat), stirring them into the oil to release their flavor. Add tomatoes. (If using whole tomatoes, break them up with the edge of a kitchen spoon.)

Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn flame down to medium; simmer until oil rises to the top and separates from the sauce, 15-20 minutes. Stir in sugar to taste, to balance flavors. Makes about 2½ cups with crushed tomatoes, 1¾-2 cups with whole peeled plum tomatoes.

FAVORITE SEAFOOD DISH? Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree

I found this recipe in Giada De Laurentiis’ new cookbook. There aren’t many recipes in there that I consider clean due to high fat content and this recipe also has a bit more olive oil than I am comfortable calling clean but make it anyway. It is to DIE for. It seems labor intensive, but it’s really not. All steps are quick and easy – especially if you have prepared pesto already. (I love fresh pesto so I make it myself which is another step – but well worth it!)

Lemon Brodetto:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 lemons, juiced
1 lemon, zested
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
Pea Puree:
2 cups frozen peas, thawed (about 10 ounces)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan


1/4 cup olive oil
4 (4 to 6-ounce) pieces salmon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To make the Lemon Brodetto, warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest, and broth. Bring to a simmer, and keep warm, covered, over low heat.

To make the Pea Puree, combine the peas, mint, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor and puree. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady drizzle. Transfer the pea puree to a small bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Set aside.

To make the Salmon, warm the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Season the salmon pieces with salt and pepper. Sear the salmon until a golden crust forms, about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side. Flip the fish and continue cooking until medium-rare, about 2 minutes more depending on the thickness of the fish.

To assemble the dish, add the tablespoon chopped mint to the Lemon Brodetto and divide between 4 shallow dishes. Place a large spoonful of Pea Puree into the center of each bowl. Place a salmon piece atop each mound of Pea Puree. Serve immediately.

FAVORITE DESSERT? Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh - Too many to count!!! BUT - I was turned on to something pretty darn special this summer - SUGAR!! Not the white granular kind - the bakery in East Haven, CT. With a name like SUGAR? How could I resist - you know - sugar addict and all... THE most amazing cupcakes! My BFF brought me a HALF DOZEN cupcakes for my birthday!! All different. All mouth-watering, fantastic!

PS You know what I do with all those surplus tomatoes? Roast them. They are so good. You can make sauce with them, freeze them and this weekend? My brother-in-law Stephen turned me on to eating them as a side or appetizer. Just halve or quarter or slice them, lay them out in a jellyroll pan, drizzle generously with olive oil, pepper and oregano or italian seasoning, basil, parsley etc. Roast at 275 for 2 hours. Amazing...


  1. OMG the pie looks awesome!!!!..and the roasted tomatoes is a great idea!

  2. These all look soooooo yummy!!!!! Especially that cupcake!!!!!