Saturday, November 12, 2011


I love squash, particularly winter squash. It is beautiful in color, hearty, sweet and so adaptable and versatile. It can go savory or sweet. It can be any course in a meal.

Here is one site I found that gives a great description of various squash.

A little squash history:

“As a natively grown vegetable cultivated by the Wampanoag Indians, squash holds a special place in American history. Today, squash are most commonly known as those green or yellow vegetables vaguely resembling cucumbers, or the uniquely shaped gourds that pop up around Halloween. But there are dozens of squash varieties, ranging in shape, size, and color.

Squash have a long relationship with human civilization, with seeds dating back 12,000 years ago found in Ecuadorian caves. In the Americas, squash was one of three primary crops, the other two being maize and beans. Known as the “Three Sisters” by the Iroquois, these crops worked symbiotically. The corn provided a growing structure for the climbing beans and the bean vines better rooted the corn to ground so the stalks were not as easily blown over or washed out. The beans fixed nitrogen in the soil to fertilize the corn and squash, especially since corn uses a lot of nitrates out of the soil. The squash vines acted as living mulch to shade out weed plants and retain moisture in the soil, while the prickly stems deterred pests from “helping” with the harvest. When the three crops were eaten together, they provided a nutritional balance of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and vitamins. Winter squash were an especially important crop for the Wampanoag Indians in New England because they could be stored through the winter. The word squash comes from a Coastal Algonquin language.” (American History Museum blog: O Say Can You See)

Health Benefits as discussed on

There is a very good amount of vitamin C in winter squash (about one-third of the Daily Value in every cup) and a very good amount of the antioxidant mineral manganese

With winter squash, we have a fantastic anti-inflammatory food opportunity in which we can get a valuable amount of our anti-inflammatory omega-3s without much of a change in our total fat intake.

Squash also benefits blood sugar regulation and prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Also found in squash are vitamins are B1, B3, B6, pantothenic acid, and folate.

All the recipes below are from a beautiful site

Pumpkin Waffles

Adapted from several sources

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

4 large eggs, separated

2 cups well-shaken buttermilk

1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil for brushing waffle iron or cooking spray

Preheat oven to 250°F and preheat waffle iron. Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl with buttermilk, pumpkin, and butter until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined.

In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until they hold soft peaks (as in, far softer than the over-beaten whites you’ll see in my picture above). Folk them gently into the waffle batter, until just combined.

Brush waffle iron lightly with oil and spoon batter (about 2 cups for four 4-inch Belgian waffles) into waffle iron, spreading quickly. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer waffles to rack in oven to keep warm and crisp. Make more waffles in same manner.

Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons

Adapted from Bon Appétit, December 1996

Serves 8


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 large garlic cloves, chopped

3 14 1/2-ounce cans low-salt chicken broth

4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)*

4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)*

1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh sage

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 cup whipping cream


2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

24 1/4-inch-thick baguette bread slices

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

1 teaspoon minced fresh sage

For soup: Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth, all squash and herbs; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender. Return soup to same pot. Stir in cream and bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.)

For croutons: Preheat broiler. Butter 1 side of each bread slice. Arrange bread, buttered side up, on baking sheet. Broil until golden, about 1 minute. Turn over. Sprinkle cheese, then thyme and sage over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until cheese melts, about 1 minute. Ladle soup into bowls. Top each with croutons and serve.

* If you are not confident in your knife skills or lack a very very sharp one, I’d suggest roasting the squash, halved and seeded, on a baking sheet coated lightly with oil at 425 until soft, scooping it into the pot, and cooking it the rest of the way there. Peeling, seeding and chopping raw squash is not the easiest endeavor. Alternatively, you could buy butternut squash already peeled and chopped in many stores. Haven’t seen acorn yet.

Winter Panzanella

Adapted from Michael Chiarello

For the croutons:

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme

6 cups day-old bread, crust removed, cubed

6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

1 small red onion, sliced thinly lengthwise

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Gray salt

4 cups peeled, seeded, and diced butternut squash (1/2-inch dice)

1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, then quartered

1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat and cook until it foams. Add the garlic and thyme, and immediately add the bread cubes. Toss to coat well. Add most of the grated cheese and stir. Transfer bread to a baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and salt and pepper and gently toss again while still warm to melt the cheese. Bake stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

Soak the sliced onion in the sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt for about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Toss the squash with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil, sage, salt, and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until the squash is tender and lightly caramelized, about 15 to minutes. Let cool.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the quartered Brussels sprouts and cook until tender but retain a touch of crispness, about 1 1/2 minutes, and drain.

Into the reserved red onions and vinegar, whisk in remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Season with pepper.

In a large bowl combine the roasted squash, croutons, and Brussels sprouts. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Add the parsley leaves and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with grated Parmesan and serve immediately.

Roasted Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza

Adapted from Giada DeLaurentis

Yield: 4 side dish servings

1 (1- pound) acorn squash

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (we used 1/2 tsp. and it had plenty of kick)

1/4 teaspoon salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon

1 pound pizza dough

1 cup shredded whole milk mozzarella

1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola

1 cup arugula

Squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice the squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash into 1/2 to 3/4-inch wide half moons and place in a medium bowl. Toss the squash with the syrup, olive oil, red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the squash until tender and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Keep the temperature on the oven at 375 degrees F. Roll out the pizza dough on a flour dusted piece of parchment paper to a 13-inch diameter. Place the pizza and the parchment paper on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese and the Gorgonzola on the pizza dough. Bake in the oven until golden and cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Peel the skins off the squash. Top the cooked pizza with the cooked squash. Toss with arugula with the squeeze of lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Slice and serve.

Acorn Squash Quesadilla

Adapted from a Dos Caminos demonstration recipe, but similar to many found in their awesome book, ModMex

The secret to getting your quesadillas crisp, Lindquist insisted, is to cook them in either butter or lard, and no skimping. A griddle is best if you have one, but a regular old frying pan will do in a pinch.

1 small/medium acorn squash

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons diced white onion

1 tablespoon minced jalapeno

1 clove garlic, minced

2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and cut into strips

Salt and pepper to taste

10-inch flour tortillas

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend of your choice (I used Muenster, not Mexican but worked great!)

Butter for frying quesadillas

Garnishes: Julienned radishes, crema or sour cream and/or salsa verde cruda (recipe below)

First, roast the acorn squash. Preheat the oven to 400° and lightly oil a baking sheet. Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds (you can save them to toast later, if you wish) and cut each half into half-inch slices. Lay them on the baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until soft but not cooked to mush. (You’ll finish it in the pan.)

When cool enough to work with, use a paring knife or your hands to peel the skin off each slice. Lightly chop the squash and put it in a bowl.

Saute the onions, garlic and jalapeno in the oil until translucent. Add the poblano strips and cook for a couple minutes more. Add the squash and cook for another 5 or 10 minutes, until the squash is tender and the flavors have melded. Season with salt and pepper and take off heat.

Spread a few tablespoons of the cooked squash mixture onto one half of a 10-inch flour tortilla. Sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of the cheese. Fold over and place in a hot pan with melted butter, and fry until crispy. Cut the finished quesadilla into four triangles and top with your choice of garnishes. Eat while warm.

Tomatilla Salsa [Salsa Verde Cruda]

10 tomatillos, husked and well washed, quartered

1/2 bunch of scallions, roots and green ends trimmed, cut into big segements

5 garlic cloves, smashed

2 jalapenos, roughly chopped

Pinch of allspice

Salt to taste

Puree all ingredients together until very smooth either in a blender or food processor. Season with salt.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


The Italians call it antipasto, the Chinese dim sum, the Turks maze, the French hors d'oeuvres and the Spanish tapas. The word tapas actually means lids or covers, and tapas were originally pieces of bread or cured ham placed on top of a wine glass to keep dust and flies out.

Tapas is not actually particular type of food. Anything can be tapas - paella, croquettes or even ham and cheese on toast as long as it is small and served with your drink. This makes it a nice partner to wine tasting.

I thought a TAPAS party would be nice this time of year....around all the holidays! Hope you enjoy!

The following recipes are from:

Another nice site, but a little hard to read:

And a nice site for wine and sherry information:




2 tbsp olive oil

3 shallots, finely chopped

12 oz mushrooms, sliced

10 oz fresh spinach leaves, coarse stems removed

salt and pepper

2 oz toasted flaked almonds

5 eggs

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp cold water

3 oz mature Mahon, Manchego, or Parmesan cheese, grated


1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan that can safely be placed under the grill. Add the shallots and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for a further 4 minutes. Add the spinach, then increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes or until wilted. Reduce the heat, then season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the flaked almonds.

2. Beat the eggs with the parsley, water and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Pour the mixture into the frying pan and cook for 5-8 minutes or until the underside is set. Lift the edge of the tortilla occasionally to let the uncooked egg run underneath. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to high.

3. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the tortilla and cook ender the preheated hot grill for 3 minutes or until the top is set and the cheese has melted. Serve, lukewarm or cold, cut into thin wedges.




olive oil

1 large garlic clove crushed

4 spring onions, white and green parts finely chopped

1 green pepper, deseeded and finely diced

1 red pepper, deseeded and finely diced

6 oz potato, boiled, peeled and diced

5 large eggs

3½ fl oz sour cream

6 oz freshly grated Spanish Roncal cheese or Cheddar or Parmesan cheese

3 tbsp snipped fresh chives

salt and pepper

salad leaves to serve


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line an 7 x 10-inch baking tip with foil and brush with the olive oil. Reserve.

2. Place a little olive oil, the garlic, spring onions and peppers in a frying pan and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 10 minutes or until the onions are softened but not browned. Set aside to cool, then stir in the potato.

3. Beat the eggs, sour cream, cheese and chives together in a large bowl. Stir the cooled vegetables into the bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and smooth over the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown, puffed and set in the centre. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Run a spatula around the edge, then invert onto a cutting board, browned-side up, and peel off the foil. If the surface looks a little runny, place it under a medium grill to dry out.

5. Set aside to cool completely. Trim the edged if necessary, then cut into 48 squares. Serve on a platter with wooden cocktail sticks or secure each square to a slice of bread. Accompany with salad leaves.





1½ tbsp coarse sea salt

½ tsp smoked sweet Spanish paprika, or hot paprika, to taste

1 lb 2 oz blanched almonds

extra-virgin olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the sea salt and paprika in a mortar and grind with the pestle to a. fine powder. Alternatively, use a mini spice blender (the amount is too small to process in a full-size processor).

2. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and giving off a toasted aroma. Watch after 7 minutes because they burn quickly. Pour into a heatproof bowl.

3. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil and stir to ensure all the nuts are lightly and evenly coated. Add extra oil if necessary. Sprinkle with the salt and paprika mixture and stir again. Transfer to a small bowl and serve at room temperature.




1 lb can or jar unpitted

large green olives, drained

4 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tsp coriander seeds

1 small lemon

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

4 feathery stalks of fennel

2 small fresh red chilies (optional)


Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, to cover


1. To allow the flavors of the marinade to penetrate the olives, place the olives on a cutting board and, using a rolling pin, bash them lightly so that they crack slightly. Alternatively, use a sharp knife to cut a lengthways slit in each olive as far as the stone. Using the flat side of a broad knife, lightly crush each garlic clove. Using a pestle and mortar, crack the coriander seeds. Cut the lemon, with its rind, into small chunks.

2. Put the olives, garlic, coriander seeds, lemon chunks, thyme sprigs, fennel and chilies, if using, in a large bowl and toss together. Season with pepper to taste, but you should not need to add salt as preserved olives are usually salty enough. Pack the ingredients tightly into a glass jar with a lid. Pour in enough olive oil to cover the olives, then seal the jar tightly.

3. Allow the olives to stand at room temperature for 24 hours, then marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 week but preferably 2 weeks before serving. From time to time, gently give the jar a shake to remix the ingredients. Return the olives to room temperature and remove from the oil to serve. Provide cocktail sticks for spearing the olives.




2 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp cumin seeds

8 oz green olives

8 oz black olives

2 tsp grated orange rind

2 tsp grated lemon rind

3 spring onions, finely chopped

pinch of ground cinnamon

4 tbsp white wine vinegar

5 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp orange juice

1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley


1. Dry-fry the fennel seeds and cumin seeds in a small, heavy-based frying pan, shaking the pan frequently, until they begin to pop and give off their aroma. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.

2. Place the olives. orange and lemon rind, spring onions, cinnamon and toasted seeds in a bowl.

3. Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, orange juice, mint and parsley together in a bowl and pour over the olives. Toss well, then cover and allow to chill for 1-2 days before serving.




2 tbsp olive oil

1 lb 2 oz small new potatoes, halved

1 onion, halved and sliced

1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into strips

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp mustard

10 fl oz canned tomatoes, sieved

10 fl oz vegetable stock

salt and pepper

chopped fresh parsley, to garnish


1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Add the potatoes and onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent.

2. Add the pepper strips, chili powder and mustard to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.

3. Stir the sieved tomatoes and vegetable stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Transfer the potatoes to a warmed serving dish. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top and serve immediately. Alternatively, set the potatoes aside to cool completely and serve at room temperature.




8 deep red tomatoes

3 fresh thyme sprigs, plus extra to garnish

12 garlic cloves unpeeled

2½ fl oz olive oil

salt and pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthways and arrange, cut-side up, in a single layer in a large, ovenproof dish. Tuck the thyme sprigs and garlic cloves between them.

2. Drizzle the olive oil all over the tomatoes and season to taste with pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until the tomatoes are softened and beginning to char slightly around the edges.

3. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Season the tomatoes to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the extra thyme sprigs and serve hot or warm. Squeeze the pulp from the garlic over the tomatoes at the table.




4 large, juicy oranges

1 large fennel bulb, very thinly sliced

1 mild white onion finely sliced

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

12 plump black olives, pitted and thinly sliced

1 fresh red chili, deseeded and very thinly sliced (optional)

finely chopped fresh parsley

French bread, to serve


1. Finely grate the rind from the oranges into a bowl and reserve. Using a small, serrated knife, remove all the white pith from the oranges, working over a bowl to catch the juices. Cut the oranges horizontally into thin slices.

2. Toss the orange slices with the fennel and onion slices. Whisk the olive oil into the reserved orange juice, then spoon over the oranges. Sprinkle the olive slices over the top, add the chilli, if using, then sprinkle with the orange rind and parsley. Serve with slices of French bread.




6 oz butter

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

6 large open mushrooms, stems removed

2 oz fresh white breadcrumbs

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

salt and pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter in a bowl until softened, then beat in the garlic. Divide two-thirds of the garlic butter between the mushroom caps and arrange them, cup-side up, on a baking sheet.

2. Melt the remaining garlic butter in a heavybased or non-stick frying pan. Add the breadcrumbs and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until golden. Remove from the heat and tip into a bowl. Stir in the thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the beaten egg until thoroughly combined.

4. Divide the breadcrumb mixture between the mushroom caps and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the stuffing is golden brown and the mushrooms are tender. Serve hot or warm.




12 small globe artichokes

juice of ½ lemon

2 tbsp Spanish olive oil

1 small orange-fleshed melon, such as cantaloupe, halved, deseeded and cut into bite-size cubes

7 oz chorizo sausage, outer casing removed and cut into bite-size chunks

few sprigs of fresh tarragon or flat-leaf parsley, to garnish


3 tbsp spanish extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp prepared mustard

1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

salt and pepper


1. To prepare the artichokes, cut off the stalks. Break off the toughest outer leaves at the base until the tender inside leaves are visible. Cut the spiky tips off the leaves with a pair of scissors. Using: a sharp knife, pare the dark green skin from the base and down the stem. Brush the cut surfaces of the artichokes with lemon juice as you prepare them, to prevent discoloration. Unless you are using very young artichokes, carefully remove the choke (the mass of silky hairs) by pulling it out with your fingers or scooping it out with a spoon. It is important to remove all the choke as the little barbs, if eaten, can irritate the throat. Cut the artichokes into quarters and brush them again with lemon juice.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Add the artichokes and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until the leaves are golden brown. Transfer the artichokes to a large serving bowl and set aside to cool. Add the melon cubes and chorizo chunks to the cooled artichokes.

3. To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss together. Serve the salad garnished with tarragon or parsley sprigs.




4½ oz chorizo sausage, outer casing removed

plain flour, for dusting

9 oz ready-made puff pastry, thawed if frozen

beaten egg, to glaze

paprika, to garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the chorizo sausage into small dice measuring about 1 cm/½ inch square.

2. On a lightly floured work surface, thinly roll out the puff pastry. Using a plain, round 3¼-inch cutter, cut into circles. Gently pile the trimmings together, roll out again, then cut out additional circles to produce 12 in total. Put about a teaspoonful of the chopped chorizo onto each of the pastry circles.

3. Dampen the edges of the pastry with a little water, then fold one half over the other half to completely cover the chorizo. Seal the edges together with your fingers. Using the prongs of a fork, press against the edges to give a decorative finish and seal them further. With the tip of a sharp knife, make a small slit in the side of each pastry. You can store the pastries in the refrigerator at this stage until you are ready to bake them.

4. Place the pastries onto dampened baking sheets and brush each with a little beaten egg to glaze. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. Using a small sieve, lightly dust the top of each empanadilla with a little paprika to garnish. Serve the chorizo empanadillas hot or warm.




2 oz white or brown bread, crusts removed

3 tbsp water

1 lb lean ground pork

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to garnish

1 egg, beaten

freshly grated nutmeg

salt and pepper

flour, for coating

2 tbsp Spanish olive oil

squeeze of lemon juice

Almond Sauce

2 tbsp Spanish olive oil

1 oz white or brown bread, torn into pieces

4 oz blanched almonds

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

5 fl oz dry white wine

salt and pepper

15 fl oz vegetable stock


1. To prepare the meatballs, put the bread in a bowl, add the water and soak for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the water and return the bread to the dried bowl. Add the pork, onion, garlic, parsley and egg, then season with grated nutmeg and a little salt and pepper. Knead well to form a smooth mixture.

2. Spread some flour on a plate. With floured hands, shape the meat mixture into about 30 equal-sized balls, then coat each meatball in flour. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavybased frying pan and cook the meatballs, in batches, for 4-5 minutes or until browned all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. To make the almond sauce, heat the olive oil in the frying pan. Add the bread and almonds and cook gently, stirring, until golden. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the wine and boil for 1-2 minutes. Season to taste and let cool. Whiz in a food processor with the stock until smooth. Return to the pan.

4. Carefully add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 25 minutes or until the meatballs are tender. Transfer the meatballs and almond sauce to a serving dish, then add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle with chopped parsley to garnish and serve with crusty bread.




4 oz black olives in oil, drained

5 oz butter, softened

4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

2 tbsp oil from the olive jar


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pit and chop the olives. Mix half the olives, the butter and the parsley together in a bowl.

2. Place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of saran wrap and beat gently with a meat mallet or the side of rolling pin.

3. Spread the olive and herb butter over one side of each flattened chicken breast and roll up. Secure with a wooden cocktail stick or tie with clean string if necessary.

4. Place the chicken rolls in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle over the oil from the olive jar and bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes or until tender and the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with the point of a sharp knife.

5. Transfer the chicken rolls to a cutting board and discard the cocktail sticks or string. Using a sharp knife, cut into slices, then transfer to warmed serving plates and serve.




1 lb 2 oz shelled fresh or frozen broad beans

5 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp lemon juice

6 fl oz water

1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

salt and pepper

paprika, to garnish

raw vegetables, crusty bread or breadsticks to serve


1. If using fresh broad beans, bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the beans, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 7 minutes. Drain well, then refresh under cold running water and drain again. Remove and discard the outer skins. If using frozen beans, allow them to thaw completely, then remove and discard the outer skins.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic, onion and cumin and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and translucent. Add the broad beans and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.

3. Remove the frying pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender. Add the lemon juice, the remaining olive oil, water and mint and process to a paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Scrape the paste back into the frying pan and heat gently until warm. Transfer to individual serving bowls and dust lightly with paprika. Serve with dippers of your choice.




2 large aubergines (eggplants)

2 red peppers

4 tbsp Spanish olive oil

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

grated rind and juice of ½ lemon

1 tbsp chopped coriander, plus extra sprigs to garnish

½-1 tsp paprika

salt and pepper

bread or toast, to serve


1. Prick the skins of the aubergines and peppers all over with a fork and brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven, 190°C/375°F, for 45 minutes or until the skins are beginning to turn black, the flesh of the aubergines is very soft and the peppers are deflated.

2. Place the cooked vegetables in a bowl and cover tightly with a clean, damp tea towel. Allow to stand for at least 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle, then cut the aubergines in half lengthways, carefully scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. Cut the aubergine flesh into large chunks. Remove and discard the stem, core and seeds from the peppers and cut the flesh into large pieces.

3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan. Add the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

4. Drain the contents of the frying pan on kitchen paper, then transfer to a food processor. Add the lemon rind and juice, the chopped coriander, the paprika, and salt and pepper to taste, then process until a speckled purée is formed. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with coriander sprigs and accompany with bread or toast.




2 tbsp Spanish olive oil, plus extra for brushing and drizzling

1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

14 oz canned chopped tomatoes

4½ oz baby spinach leaves

salt and pepper

2 tbsp pine nuts

Bread Dough

4 tbsp warm water

½ tsp active dry yeast

pinch of sugar

7 oz white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

½ tsp salt


1. To make the bread dough, measure the water into a small bowl, sprinkle in the dry yeast and sugar and allow to stand in a warm place for 10-15 minutes of until frothy.

2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, pour in the yeast, then stir together. Work the dough with your hands until it leaves the sides of the bowl clean. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Put in a clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until risen and doubled in size.

3. To make the topping, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Cook the onion until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until reduced to a thick sauce. Stir in the spinach leaves until wilted. Season to taste.

4. Turn the risen dough out and knead well for 2-3 minutes. Roll out very thinly and, using a 2½-inch plain round cutter, cut out 32 circles. Place on baking sheets brushed with olive oil. Cover each base with the spinach mixture. Sprinkle with pine nuts and drizzle over a little olive oil. Bake in a preheated oven, 400°F, for 10-15 minutes or until the edges of the dough are golden. Serve hot.




1 lb white mushrooms

5 tbsp Spanish olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

squeeze of lemon juice

salt and pepper

4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

crusty bread, to serve


1. Wipe or brush clean the mushrooms, then trim off the stalks close to the caps. Cut any large mushrooms in half or into quarters. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds-1 minute or until lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and sauté over high heat, stirring most of the time, until the mushrooms have absorbed all the oil in the frying pan.

2. Reduce the heat to low. When the juices have come out of the mushrooms, increase the heat again and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring most of the time, until the juices have almost evaporated. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped parsley and cook for an additional minute.

3. Transfer the sautéed mushrooms to a warmed serving dish and serve piping hot or warm. Accompany with chunks or slices of crusty bread for mopping up the garlic cooking juices.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

SUMAC!!!! ZA'ATAR!!!!!

Often we hear the word SUMAC and think of a poisonous tree. Oh, how wrong we are to do that! Sumac is actually a wonderful cooking spice and everyone should give it a try.
My first encounter with sumac was years ago at a staff dinner. A simple looking piece of bite and my taste buds exploded with the flavor of something exotic: sumac. I was sold.
What is sumac.....well IT IS sumac of course, but the non- poisonous variety. This lovely spice can be find in a variety of places including on-line spice stores like Dean and Deluca. Sumac is also a main ingredient in a spice mix called Za'atar.
Sumac is usually sold as a coarsely ground powder. Sumac is a dark maroon colored spice which is obtained by crushing the dried fruit of the non-toxic variety of Sumac plant (Rhus coriaria). The spice is traditional in Turkish, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines where it is used to add a mild acidity to a dish whether incorporated in the preparation or used as a finisher once the dish is complete. As a dried berry, ground sumac has a nutty texture when used dry and a tart, sour lemon taste.
The name sumac is derived from Aramaic "summaq" meaning "dark red." The variety of sumac "Rhus coriaria" is sold as a spice for cooking, and has been used in cooking for millenia.

The use of sumac came to Greece from the Middle East where it is more widely used. In Greek cooking, sumac is used as a rub for grilled meats, and as a flavoring most notably on meats, in stews, and in pita wraps. It is also used in rice and vegetable dishes. Try adding a dash to the top of hummus for a new taste treat!

(info from and

A spice blend called Za'atar is a generic name for a family of related Middle Eastern herbs from the genera Origanum (Oregano), Calamintha (Basil thyme), Thymus vulgaris (Thyme) and Satureja (Savory). It is also the name for a condiment made from the dried herb(s), mixed together with sesame seeds, dried sumac, and often salt, as well as other spices. Used in Arab cuisine, both the herb and spice mixture are popular throughout the Middle East. (


A spice blend that is so versatile! It can be used on meats, veggies, rice, and breads.

Prep Time: 5 minutes


1/4 cup sumac

2 tablespoons thyme

1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons marjoram

2 tablespoons oregano

1 teaspoon coarse salt


Grind the sesame seeds in food processor or with mortar and pestle. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Store za'atar in a cool, dark place in a plastic zip bag or in an airtight container. When stored properly, za'atar can be used from 3-6 months.




Ingredients for 4

· 1.5 lb chicken tenders or breasts cut in strips

· 2 tsp sumac

· juice of one lemon

· 1 tbs olive oil

· 1/2 tsp cumin powder

· cayenne pepper

· 3 tbs mint

· salt and pepper


Cut chicken in small strips. Add sumac, cumin powder, cayenne, salt and pepper and let it marinate for about one hour or so.

In a small mixing bowl, mix lemon juice and olive oil.

Grill chicken in a grill pan. When grilled on the outside and still juicy in the middle, remove from pan, add olive oil/lemon juice mixture. Coat well. Sprinkle with mint and serve hot.

recipe from



2 Greek pita breads

8 leaves romaine lettuce, torn in bite sized pieces

2 green onions, chopped

1 cucumbers, chopped

3 tomatoes, cut in wedges

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons ground sumac

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toast pita 5 to 10 minutes in preheated oven until crisp.

Remove from oven and break into bite sized pieces.

In a large bowl toss together romaine lettuce green onions cucumber and tomatoes In a small bowl mix the parsley garlic sumac powder lemon juice olive oil salt pepper and mint Just before serving add pita bread to salad ingredients.

Pour dressing over and toss.

recipe from


yield: Makes 4 as a starter


2 large and long eggplants

1/3 cup olive oil

1 1/2 tsp lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs to garnish

Maldon sea salt and black pepper

1 pomegranate

1 tsp za'atar


9 tbsp buttermilk

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish

1 small garlic clove, crushed

Pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 200°F. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the green stalk (the stalk is for the look; don't eat it). Use a small sharp knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, without cutting through to the skin. Repeat at a 45-degree angle to get a diamond-shaped pattern.

Place the eggplant halves, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with olive oil—keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh. Sprinkle with the lemon thyme leaves and some salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful and nicely browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down completely.

While the eggplants are in the oven, cut the pomegranate into two horizontally. Hold one half over a bowl, with the cut side against your palm, and use the back of a wooden spoon or a rolling pin to gently knock on the pomegranate skin. Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. Once all are there, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin or membrane.

To make the sauce. Whisk together all of the ingredients. Taste for seasoning, then keep cold until needed.

To serve, spoon plenty of buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves without covering the stalks. Sprinkle za'atar and plenty of pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with lemon thyme. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Recipe from



2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

1/2 cup diced fennel

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

1 tablespoon za'atar (optional)

3 cups cooked Israeli couscous (use French if unavailable)

Seeds from 1 pomegranate (substitute dried cranberries)


In a large mixing bowl whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt, fresh mint, fennel, pine nuts and za'atar if available. Add couscous and gently incorporate dressing and couscous with a fork. Add pomegranate seeds and again gently fold through but this time with a spoon. Allow salad to remain at room temperature for a half an hour so that flavors can blossom

Recipe from


The richness of sear-roasted salmon is contrasted by the bright, sweet-tart salad of fennel and apple that tops it. This recipe features a few unusual spices, namely tart sumac and fragrant fennel pollen. If you can’t find fennel pollen, you can omit it; the dish will still be very flavorful. If you use paprika instead of sumac, the fish and fennel will take on a rich, red hue.

Serves 4


fennel pollen or crushed fennel seeds

ground sumac

coriander seeds

For the spice rub:

1 Tbs. coriander seeds

2 Tbs. ground sumac or sweet paprika

2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

2 tsp. kosher salt

For the fish and fennel:

Four 6-oz. skinless salmon fillets, preferably wild

41/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbs. honey

3 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. olive oil

1 small fennel bulb, quartered, cored, and sliced lengthwise about 3/16 inch thick, to yield 1-1/2 cups (save about 1/2 cup fronds for garnish)

One-half Granny Smith apple

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 to 3/4 tsp. fennel pollen (Crushed fennel seeds can stand in a pinch, but it doesn't exactly mimic the fragrance of fennel pollen.)

Heat the oven to 425°F.

Make the spice rub

In a small skillet, heat the coriander seeds over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are lightly golden brown and aromatic, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Grind the seeds in an electric grinder and transfer to a small bowl. Use your fingers to stir in the sumac or paprika, lemon zest, and salt.

Sear-roast the fish and fennel:

Generously coat the salmon fillets on all sides with the rub and set the fillets on a plate. In a small bowl, stir together 4 tsp. of the lemon juice and the honey.

In a heavy 12-inch ovenproof skillet, heat 3 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, arrange the salmon fillets evenly in the pan, skinned side up. Add the fennel to the pan, fitting it into the spaces around the fish. (It will look like there’s not much room, but you will be able to squeeze this amount of fennel around the fillets.) Sear for about 2 minutes, without moving; then use a slotted metal spatula to lift a piece of fish and check the color. When the fillets are nicely browned, flip them and put the pan in the oven. Roast until the salmon is barely cooked in the center, 4 to 6 minutes. While the salmon is roasting, toss the fennel fronds in a medium bowl with the remaining 1 tsp. olive oil. Core the apple half and cut it into matchsticks. Add to the fennel fronds. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tsp. lemon juice over the apples, season with salt and pepper, and toss again. When the salmon is cooked, remove the pan from the oven and transfer the salmon with the spatula to serving plates. Taste the fennel; if it is still crunchy, set the pan over medium heat and cook the fennel a few minutes more, stirring occasionally, until it’s tender. With the spatula, transfer the fennel to a small plate.

Pour off and discard any oil in the pan, blotting the pan with a wad of paper towels (there will be some browned spice rub sticking to the pan, which is fine). Return the pan to the stove over medium-high heat and add the lemon-honey mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon to release the browned bits. Add the cooked fennel and stir to coat it with the glaze. Remove the pan from the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Top each piece of salmon with some of the glazed fennel and then a little mound of apple salad. If any glaze remains in the pan, drizzle some around each piece of salmon. Sprinkle each portion with a good pinch of fennel pollen, if using, and serve immediately.

Recipe from



3 tablespoons butter/olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup red lentils, washed and picked over

1.5 tablespoons tomato paste

6 cups water or stock, or more if the soup thickens too much

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1.5 tablespoons dried mint leaves, crumbled

1 tablespoon sumac

1 carrot, chopped (optional – I have not used carrots in this soup)

Garnish: a few mint leaves (optional), sumac

To serve: lemon/lime wedges and bread


Heat the butter in a large saucepan and saute the onions (& carrots if you are using them) over low heat until they are light golden–about 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika, cumin, the tomato paste, and hot pepper flakes; cover and cook for another 5-7b minutes.

Add the lentils and stir everything together so the tomato and the spices combine with the lentils. Add the water/stock and cover and cook till everything is mushy for about 30-40 minutes. OR use a pressure cooker and cook the lentils till they mushy. ( I always use pressure cooker to cook my lentils).

When the lentils are cooked, use a hand blender to blend the soup is to a smooth consistency, or leave it the way it is if you do not want it like a puree. Crumble the mint leaves and add into the soup. Stir and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat. Sprinkle some of the sumac (save the rest to garnish). Stir to combine.

Ladle into bowls, serving lemon wedges/or squeeze of lemon juice and some fresh mint leaves (if available) or crushed dried mint.

NOTE: This soup will thicken a lot as it stands. Loosen with some hot water and re heat, if you are not serving immediately.

Recipe from


Four to six servings

Adapted from Plenty (Ebury) by Yotam Ottolenghi

Yotam’s original recipe says to soak the beans in a generous amount of water with 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Some bean purists scoff at using baking soda in the water, but for those who live in areas where the water is full of minerals (such as Paris), I add a large pinch to the cooking water, as the locals do. The beans should be cooked just until tender, but not cooked to mush. The cooking time for them will vary but don’t let the water foam up when you do!

For the spring onions, I used cébette (which often goes by various names in France), which you can see pictured in the Herbed Ricotta Tart recipe. Scallions, green garlic, or a similar spring onion can be used. In the post, I mention some possible substitutions for the sumac and sorrel.

1 pound large dried white beans

optional: pinch of baking soda

8 spring onions or scallions, sliced lengthwise into 3-inch batons

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

7 ounces sorrel, cut into 1-inch ribbons, plus a little extra for garnish, cut in very thin strips

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for seasoning

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

5 ounces (150 g) feta cheese

2 teaspoons sumac

handful of fresh herbs, such as chervil, dill, mint, or flat-leaf parsley,

For frying the beans:

1/4 cup olive oil

4 tablespoons butter

1. Rinse the beans and sort to remove any foreign objects.

2. Put in a large pot, cover with plenty of water, and let stand overnight.

3. The next day, add a pinch of baking soda to the water (if you live in a hard water area), and simmer the beans until just tender. The cooking time may be as little as 30 minutes, or over an hour, depending on the beans. Add additional water if necessary.

Once cooked, drain well and toss them in a bit of olive oil, which will prevent the skin of the beans from flaking, and bit of salt.

4. Next up is frying the beans: You’ll need to cook the beans in a single layer, so doing a rough calculation on depending on the size of your skillet, heat a portion of the butter and oil in the pan. Once hot, add enough beans so they’re spread out evenly in a single layer in the pan.

Saute the beans and avoid stirring too much so they brown and blister on the bottom side. After a few minutes, stir them a bit to flip them around, and continue to cook a few more minutes until they’re all nicely seared.

5. Once finished, transfer the beans to a bowl and fry the remaining beans in a similar fashion.

When you get to the last batch, during the final minute of cooking, add the spring onions, garlic, and sorrel. Cook until the greens are just wilted, which will take another minute or so. Remove from heat, add the other beans to the pan, stir, then add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Let cool to room temperature, or until slightly warm.

(If your pan isn’t large enough, you can mix everything together in a large bowl.)

6. Once cooled, stir the lemon juice and sumac, and then roughly chop the fresh herbs and mix them into the beans. Crumble the feta over the top and serve.

Storage: These beans are best served shortly after they’re made. If you store them in the refrigerator, they’ll lose their specialness.

Recipe from