Mediterranean Meatballs with Baba Ganoush and Tomato-y Harissa Sauce

I sure wish this photo looked as good as these meatballs taste! They are delicious made with ground beef or chicken, but are fabulous if it’s possible to get a hold of some lamb. While Jenn was staying with us during the COVID shutdown, she and I had a wonderful time cooking up all kinds of fun things. She came up with the idea of combining baba ganoush and harissa sauce to complement the meatballs. Truly an inspiration!

The baba ganoush is a cheat. The eggplant is roasted in the oven, not the grill, so if you are craving more of a smoky taste – add some smoked paprika.

According to you spiciness tolerance, adjust the amounts of tomato paste and harissa in the tomato-y sauce.

This would be great as part of a small plate type of spread or individual meatball appetizers besides being a really yummy main dish.

Mediterranean-ish Meatballs – Yields about 12 Meatballs

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef, chicken or lamb

2 good sized green onions, sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely minced or put through a press

2 tablespoons green za’atar (I use Ziyad brand because I can get it at the Mediterranean grocery by my house or here on Amazon)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon cumin

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and gently mix.

Cover a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.

Shape the meat mixture into walnut sized balls.

Bake for 15 minutes. Meatballs should be lightly browned and when one is sliced in half, it should be cooked through out.

Serve with baba ganoush and tomato-y harissa sauce, recipes below.

Baba Ganoush – Makes About Two Cups

Ingredients:

2 medium eggplants

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons tahini

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced or put through a press

If desired, something to sprinkle on top such as sumac, za’atar or parsley

Since this is baked, not grilled, add 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika if a smoky taste is desired.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and spray with a little non-stick cooking oil or wipe the surface with a bit of olive oil.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the skin collapses inward when its pressed.

Let the eggplant cool for a few minutes, scrap out the flesh into a colander. Place the colander over a bowl. Smoosh it down and let it sit for 5 to 7 minutes. Discard the water in the bowl. Place the eggplant in a food processor. Add the lemon juice, tahini, salt and cumin.

Turn on food processor and slowly add the olive oil. Turn off processor, put the mixture in a bowl and stir in the garlic.

Garnish with smoked paprika, sumac, za’atar or parsley.

Tomato-y Harissa Sauce – Makes about 1/2 cup

Ingredients:

2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste – adjust with regard to how spicy the harissa is, according to personal preference.

1 to 2 tablespoons harissa – according to the amount of spice desired – I love it when I can get harissa from the Middle Eastern grocery store but most of the time I use Mina brand from Whole Foods or Amazon

4 garlic cloves, finely minced or put through a press

3 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Place all ingredients in bowl and stir until well combined. Heat on stove or zap in the microwave until hot.

This is very good on roasted or grilled vegetables as well as the meatballs above.

I’d love to keep in touch – let me know if you try this!

 

                            

 

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A City Girl Makes Biscuits

I’m not a country girl and I’m not from the south either. My mom never made biscuits from scratch, so my only biscuit experience was popping the dough out of a cardboard tube. I figured it was time I jumped on the biscuit craze and learned to make my own.

After two years of experimenting, I maybe have come up with a recipe for a flaky, buttery biscuit.

I tried using biscuit cutters, rolling pins, shredding frozen butter with a cheese cutter (disaster) and different kinds of flour.  In the end, I found that keeping the ingredients very cold and handling the dough very little was the way to go. I borrowed a technique from Bon Appetit magazine that involves stacking the dough, leveling it and cutting it into squares.

These biscuits freeze well and are easy to warm up when wrapped in aluminum foil and put into a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes or so. Besides eating them with butter, jam or honey, they make a great base for strawberry short cake.

I’d love to hear your biscuit making experiences; email me at yatesyummies@gmail.com

Ingredients for 12 Biscuits:

3 1/2 cups self-rising flour (Or sub for 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon plus 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt)

1 cups salted butter (2 sticks), plus more to melt and brush on unbaked biscuits

1 cup buttermilk (sub 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon vinegar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice)

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

 

Directions:

Measure out the flour into a bowl and place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Cut the sticks of butter lengthwise and then cut each piece lengthwise again. Put butter pieces into a bowl and put in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Measure out the buttermilk and put back into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Get the food processor ready to go, and place the self-rising flour, baking soda and salt in the food processor bowl.

Add the chilled butter pieces.

Pulse about 25 times, until the butter in the mixture looks like small peas.

Transfer flour and butter mixture into a large bowl. Add the buttermilk and gently stir it in, using a fork.

When it looks like a shaggy dog, it’s ready. Most of the flour will be incorporated into the blob or dough, but not a 100% of it.

Flour the surface that you will be working on.

Dump the dough out of the bowl and on to the surface. With cool hands, quickly mound it up and turn it over on itself a few times.

Shape it into a 1 inch high rectangle/square.

Cut the dough square into fourths.

Pile the four planks on top of one another.

Push them own to form another 1 inch high square.

Cut the dough block into 12 squares.

Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Brush the top of each unbaked biscuit with melted butter.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Both the tops and the bottoms will be golden brown.

Enjoy hot with plenty of butter, jam and honey.

And just for fun…

                            

I Smoked a Meatloaf!

For the last three years, Roy and I have owned what I jokingly call “a driveway” in Cypress Trails RV Resort in Fort Myers, Florida.  The driveway is actually a lot complete with a pad surfaced with brick pavers, a large tiki hut and a little casita.  We didn’t set out to own a patch of land in an upscale RV park, but we got tired of scrambling around every winter trying to reserve a spot for our motor home.  So, this is our location for a quarter of every year.  It has a distinct culture and smoking and grilling is definitely part of it.  For my birthday, the girls gave me a gift certificate to Home Depot and I purchased an entry level electric smoker.  It’s a whole different type of cooking and since I am a novice, I have had failures.  One night I gave up on smoking a whole chicken after it was still sputtering red juices at 9 p.m.  After that, I set aside the notion of smoking whole pieces of meat and decided to do something a bit easier- like a meatloaf!  It actually is pretty foolproof and after making three of them, I feel safe sharing it.  What I have discovered is that everyone develops their own special relationship with their own smoker in getting to know its little ways and quirks.  I have only given general directions below for smoking this meatloaf at 275 Fahrenheit for a couple of hours – it’s got to reach an internal temp of 160 to 165.  But hey- an oven can be used too.  I’d love to hear some smoking stories; please email me at yatesyummies@gmail.com.

Smoked Meatloaf – Serves at Least Four

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

2 eggs

1 medium onion, diced

3/4 panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup chopped red and/or yellow bell peppers

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon thyme

scant 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Fire up your smoker (or your oven) : place wood chips- I used applewood- or pellets where they are suppose to be. Fill the water pan up if you choose and set the temperature to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. While the smoker is heating up, assemble the meatloaf.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the ground beef, bread crumbs, onions, diced bell peppers and all the spices until ingredients are well mixed.

With a knife, perforate the bottom of a disposable foil pan.

Place the foil pan on a baking sheet. Inside the pan, form ground beef mixture into a loaf.

When the smoker has reached at least 250 degrees, put the meatloaf in the perforated pan inside the smoker. Stick the internal thermometer deep into the middle of the raw meatloaf. Close the door – remember- if you look, it don’t cook!

After an hour and a half, open the smoker and slather the outside of the meatloaf with barbecue sauce of your choice. Close the door and let the temperature climb up to 275 Fahrenheit again.

About 30 minutes later, the internal temperature should read around 160 degrees Fahrenheit. I let the meatloaf get up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before I pulled it out. I wanted to be safe and definitely cooked throughout, especially in the middle.

 

And just for fun…

                           

Neapolitan-ish Pizza

This is a true story! I’ve been making Neapolitan style pizza dough in a food processor (I don’t have a Kitchenaid) and it bakes up with a puffy, crunchy crust outside and light, pillowy and chewy on the inside- everything I’ve hoped for!

Making a decent pizza crust is something I’ve struggled with for years. I followed recipes only to produce dough that sat like a rock in my stomach. For a while I went through a whole wheat period which resulted in something resembling cardboard.

Then last September, while in Syracuse, New York,  I took a pizza making class with John Vigliotti, who owns a couple of restaurants. Peppino’s on Grant Boulevard serves typical New York style pizza, but the other in Armory Square focuses on Neapolitan style pizzas.

So what’s the difference between the two types of Pizzas? According to Vigliotti, who won 2nd place at the 2016 International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Neapolitan Pizza was the original deal. Made with only low gluten European flour, yeast, salt and water, it is highly digestible and has only a few, very fresh toppings. New York style pizza has a crust that can hold up to thick, spiced tomato sauce and a lot of cheese. It was designed to be eaten by the slice and carried around.

I’m sharing Vigliotti’s recipe for the home cook below. Since regular ovens only get up to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit- not the 900 to 1000 of a wood fired pizza oven- this recipe includes oil to achieve a crispy yet soft and airy crust. However, the real keys are using Caputo 00 flour (which I ordered on Amazon), making the dough a couple days before you use it, and letting the dough and toppings come up to room temperature before you assemble a pizza and bake it.

 

Ingredients for four 10 inch pizzas:

4 1/2 cups Caputo 00 flour

1 1/4 cups of cold water (warm water if the dough will be used that day)

1/2 cup of warm water (between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit)

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/2 fine sea salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

Directions:

Place the warm water in the bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it.  Give it a whisk and set it aside.

Attach the dough blade and pour the cold water into the food processor bowl.

Mix the flour and sugar together. Add to the water.

Turn the food processor on, wait 30 seconds and then pour in the yeast-water.

After the mixture comes together, with the food processor still running, add the salt.

Then slowly pour in the olive oil.

Continue running the food processor for 2 to 3 minutes. The dough will clear the sides of the bowl and look smooth. If it doesn’t clear sides of the bowl, sprinkle just a bit of flour in until it does.

Remove dough from food processor bowl and place on floured cutting board. Divide the dough into into fourths. I actually used a serrated knife to cut the big ball into four parts.  Pull each fourth down to create a firm ball and twist it closed on the bottom. (If dough seems too sticky, dust with just a sprinkle of flour.) Place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a piece of saran wrap and tightly seal the bowl with a tightly sealed lid or wrap it twice in saran wrap.

If using that day, allow the dough to rest 2 to 3 hours at room temperature. Or it can be kept in refrigerator up to 48 hours.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator a couple hours before making the pizzas.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit or as high as it can go. (I used my convection oven and set it to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Place either a pizza stone or an upside down baking sheet in the oven while it is preheating. I used two pizza stones, one on the left side of the bottom oven rack and one on the right side of the top oven rack.

On another upside down baking sheet, place a piece of parchment paper that is slightly larger than a 10 inch pizza.

Working with one ball at a time, use hands to stretch dough into an oval shape by turning it round and round circularly until it is 1/4 inch thick. It will be thicker around the ages. Vigliotti said, “Let gravity stretch the dough as you hold it in the air and turn it around and around along the side crust. ‘Rolling’ with your fingers leaves a sort of air pocket along the sides of the resulting stretched out crust.”

Place the flattened dough on the piece of parchment paper atop the upside down baking sheet. Brush the outside edges of the dough with olive oil.

Above are some toppings and below are some suggestions.  Anything goes: figs, Italian cured meats, etc. I’ve even had Neapolitan pizza finished with honey and hot paper flakes, But remember, less is more to avoid a soggy pizza. After putting the toppings on, use the upside down baking sheet as a transportation vehicle, and slide each pizza onto the top of a pizza stone or upside down sheet pan, parchment paper and all.

Bake 5 to 6 minutes until crust begins to brown. Then switch places in the oven, pulling out the parchment paper from underneath. Continue to bake another 4 to 5 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Remove from oven, slice and enjoy.

 

Margherita Pizza:

Crush San Marzano canned whole tomatoes, add 1 teaspoon sea salt per large can and spread on pizza.

Place slices of fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese and fresh basil on top of tomatoes.

Bake according the the directions above.

 

Mushroom and Greens Pizza:

Brush surface of pizza with a bit of olive oil.

Put two cloves of garlic through a press and spread on top.

Sprinkle enough shredded mozzarella cheese to cover.

Add a few sliced mushrooms.

Bake according to directions above.

After removing from oven, put 1/2 cup arugula over the top.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt or some good finishing salt like truffle salt.

 

The first time I tried baking this pizza dough, we had friends over for dinner. I shamelessly kept going on and on about how I loved the crust! While I was in love with the pizza, my guests raved about the salad. It was just greens dressed in a basic vinaigrette and things I got from the olive bar at our local grocery store such as marinated artichokes and roasted tomatoes.  If anyone out there tries this pizza, I’d love to hear how your experience went. Feel free to email me at yatesyummies@gmail.com .

                           

 

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Carnitas Feast

The photo above was snapped when we hosted our friends Gabe and Dory for dinner while we were in Florida this winter. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing and I was so glad I had some frozen carnitas meat in the freezer. In fact, I was able to throw this whole meal together with things I already had on hand.

Making carnitas is one of my most favorite ways to feed a crowd; the meat is so easy to make and all I need to do is put out some warm corn tortillas and savory accompaniments. I’ve cooked a lot of roasts over the years and this recipe is my favorite one for carnitas type meat. It doesn’t include orange juice – gasp – but the end result is a deep, rich flavor. A chuck roast could be substituted for the pork if beef is preferred.  Or, you could use a whole chicken if the switch beef broth is switched out for chicken broth and cut the cooking time in half.

 

Pulled Pork Carnitas – enough for at least 6 people

Ingredients:

2 pound pork shoulder or picnic roast

1 (15 oz.) can beef broth

4 cloves garlic, put through a press

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Directions:

Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or get out your crock pot and set it on high. Pour the beef broth into a deep baking pan or into the crock pot.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, olive oil, lemon pepper, chili powder and smoked paprika. Trim any excess fat and remove any string from the roast. Rub the garlic mixture into the roast.

Lower the spice rubbed roast into the baking pan or the crock pot. Cover the baking pan with foil or put the lid on the crock pot. Allow the roast to cook for 4 to 5 hours or until the meat is easily shredded with a fork.

Remove the roast from the pan or pot and place on serving platter. Scrape away any excess fat. Using two forks, shred the meat. Spoon some of the cooking liquid onto meat.

This is totally optional, but if you want to go an extra step, warm 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. In batches, put the shredded pork and some of the cooking liquid in the skillet. Allow the surface of the meat to crisp up. Remove from pan and serve.

Serve with salad below and plenty of warm corn tortillas.

 

Lettuce and Cabbage Salad to Dress the Carnitas – enough for at least 6 people

Ingredients:

1/2 red onion, sliced

1/4 cup plain white vinegar

1/2 head of lettuce, washed, dried and shredded

1/4 green cabbage, washed, dried and shredded

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, washed, dried and chopped

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

 

Directions:

Place the red onion slices in a shallow bowl and pour white vinegar over them. Set aside for 10 minutes.

In a large salad bowl, add lettuce, cabbage, avocado, tomatoes and cilantro.

Being careful to reserve the vinegar, lift the red onions out of the bowl and add to the lettuce mixture.

Add the oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder to the reserved vinegar and whisk together.

Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over the salad – enough to coat but not have the salad swimming in dressing – and gently toss.

Serve to stuff in tacos alongside the carnitas.

 

Fajitas Style Bell Peppers and Onions

Ingredients – enough for at least 6 people

Any color bell peppers of your choice, enough to total 2 peppers, sliced

1 yellow or white onion, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup plain white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon oregano

 

Directions

Place in a peppers and onions in a microwave safe dish. Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano. Pour olive oil mixture over peppers and onions.

Cook pepper mixture in microwave for 5 minutes.

Serve with the carnitas as something just a bit extra to put in the corn tortilla…

 

And just for fun…

                           

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Cooking Up Some Fall Favorites

As a former teacher, I was thrilled when colleague gifted a couple of her friends with a cooking class with me. Instructing interested kitchen newbies is something I love to do. There was lots of fun and laughs as we took some of my fall favorite recipes for a spin. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to offer classes on a regular basis – in the meantime, please email me if you have any questions on the recipes offered during this little class at yatesyummies@gmail.com. These dishes have been either on Yates Yummies or Oranges and Almonds in the past, and clicking on “Printable Recipe” for each will take you to a page that includes a link to the original blog post.

Sage Thyme Grilled Chicken or Pork – Serves Four to Six – Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

4 to 6 chicken breasts or  1 to 2 pound pork tenderloin

2 cloves garlic, minced or put through a press

1 sprig fresh sage

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Cut the sage leaves off their stem and chop them up.  Blend them with the rest of the ingredients to make a paste.  Rub the mixture on the front and the back of the meat.

Grill over medium low for about 7 minutes a side.  Or, bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. Juices will run clear if the meat is done. Let rest about 5 minutes before you slice to put on the salad.

Autumn Sweet Potato Rice Salad – Serves Four

Ingredients

2 large sweet potatoes

1 cup uncooked wild rice

2 tart green apples, diced

2 stalks of celery diced

1/4 cup of finely diced purple onion

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch cubes. Cook them over medium heat in salted water until tender/firm when pierced with a fork, but not overdone. Or, roast in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 30 to 40 minutes. Cook the rice according to the package directions. Put the sweet potato cubes, rice, apple, celery and onion in a salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder together. Pour the vinegar and oil mixture over the ingredients in the salad bowl and gently toss. This is refreshing chilled or equally as good at room temperature.

Steak Tips in Mushroom Wine Sauce – Serves Four – Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound sirloin tip roast

1 carton of mushrooms

1 shallot

1 garlic clove

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup dry red wine

1/4 cup flour

2 cups beef broth

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash, rinse, and slice mushrooms. Cut meat into 2 inch wide strips and set it aside.

Peel and chop shallot. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in skillet and saute mushrooms and shallot until tender. Peel and mince garlic clove. Add to mushroom mixture and saute for 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the mixture into a baking dish, leaving the pan drippings still in the skillet.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to the same pan. Allow butter to melt, then over medium heat, brown both sides of the meat pieces. It will have to be done in two batches so the pan isn’t too crowded and the meat strips have a chance to brown – about three to four minutes a side. When the meat is done, add to the mushrooms in the baking dish.

Put the skillet back on the heat and pour the 1/2 cup of wine in. Bring the wine up to a boil and scrape up the fond from the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat down to medium.

Sprinkle the flour over the wine and whisk it in; it will be thick and pasty. Then, a bit at a time, gradually add the beef broth while whisking constantly until the liquid is smooth. Add in the salt, pepper, and thyme. Keeping it over medium heat and whisking often, cook until the mixture thickens up. This will take about 5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the meat and mushrooms in the baking dish and give it a stir. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Serve with rice, mashed potatoes, or wide noodles.

Hot Caramel Pears Delicious – Serves Six – Printable Recipe

1 can (1 lb. 13 0z.) pear halves

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup light brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup pear syrup (from can of pears)

1/4 cup (1/2 stic) butter

1 quart vanilla ice cream

Directions:

Drain Pears, reserve syrup.  In sauce pan, combine cornstarch, brown sugar, and cinnamon; mix well.  Add in syrup.  Cook, stirring constantly until sugar boils, reduce heat and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Add butter and pears and heat to serving temperature.  For each serving, place pear half in dish with a large scoop of ice cream, spoon sauce over ice cream and top with additional cinnamon if desired.  Makes 8 servings.

The girls and I had fun assembling a Libby’s Cream Cheese Filled Pumpkin Roll, But I also gave them the recipe for a great variation below:

Cranberry Bliss Sponge Cake Roll – Serves 12 – Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

6 eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries, roughly chopped and divided

1 (8 oz.) brick cream cheese

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 cup white chocolate chips

Also needed:

Parchment paper and 1 teaspoon butter

1 clean dish towel and 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Small wire mesh strainer and 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Smear the parchment paper with the butter. Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the brown sugar and the egg yolks and beat just until mixed in.

Now add the flour and beat that just until mixed.

Stir in 1/4 cup of the dried cranberries.

Pour the mixture onto the parchment lined baking sheet and use a rubber spatula to smooth the batter out evenly from end to end. Bake for 12 minutes. The sponge cake is done when it will be just starting to brown and will spring back when touched.

Immediately evenly sprinkle the clean dish towel with 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar. Invert the baking sheet onto the the dish towel and remove it, leaving the parchment paper covered sponge cake behind. Gently peel the parchment paper away from the cake. Don’t worry if the edges tear a bit; it will be hidden when the cake is rolled up.

Starting from one end, roll the sponge cake up, towel and all.

Place the cream cheese, butter, confectioner’s sugar, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl.

Cream all the ingredients with an electric mixer until fluffy.

Wait for the cake to completely cool, then gently unroll it. The surface of the cake may try to cling to the towel, but just carefully “peel” it away; any splits or tears won’t be noticeable once it’s rolled up again with filling. Gently spread the cream cheese mixture over the sponge cake, covering it from edge to edge.

Sprinkle the cranberries and white chocolate chips over the top.

Roll the sponge cake up again, this time without the towel 🙂 If it tries to stick to the towel, just carefully pry it away.

Place on a serving platter. Put one tablespoon confectioner’s sugar in the small mesh strainer. Shake over the top

Using a serrated knife, cut into one inch slices and serve.

Flour dusted but happy, the cooks of the mini-class call it a day! My colleague Liz on the left, has decided to launch a cooking blog of her own! Visit Nickel Plate Kitchen and check it out!

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And just for fun…

                      

 

 

Food Is an Art Form: Feast of Fish and Veg for Eyes and Palate

A couple of weeks ago we visited our friend, Polly Castor, who lives in Connecticut. She is an artist in every sense of the word.

Polly has an abundance of energy; she blogs, paints, throws pottery, writes poems and boy does she cook! But that comes later in this post.

She currently has a huge one woman show with 80 paintings at the Community Arts Center in Southington, Connecticut. As you can see her paintings are full of movement and light and the show is open to the public until October 31. The works have wonderful names such as “July” (left bottom, above) and “Confidence” (right bottom, above). I honestly was intoxicated with the feast my eyes were devouring!

Her home is filled with the gorgeous pottery she designs. I actually own the sister to the piece the carrot is resting on. She sells the pottery as well as the paintings.

After we viewed the show, we went back to Polly’s house and she cooked up an absolutely delicious meal. But not only did it taste good – it was beautiful to look at. It was like we were eating edible art! The main was fish in a luxurious aioli type sauce – Mustard Roasted Tilapia It was accompanied by  Caramelized Butternut Squash which was so good that Roy had a second helping. The  salad with Roasted Beets, blood oranges, carrots, radish, jicama, blueberries, oak leaf lettuce had a great Strawberry Basil Dressing. For dessert, which – gasp! – I had two pieces, was Ginger, Carrot, Hazelnut Cake with Molasses Frosting.

Click on the links above to get to the recipes on Polly’s blog.

And if you are anywhere near Southington, Connecticut get yourself over to Polly’s show and feast your eyes!

 

And just for fun…

                           

 

Beans and Lentils over Cornbread with Spicy Gremolata Sauce

Last weekend Jennifer flew home from Southern California where it’s always in the 70s and sunny. Here in the Midwest, it had just begun to be on the cooler side of fall and the temperatures were hovering in the low 50s. She had come for a wedding but I was thrilled that her Friday was free and we could spend the whole day together. We started out by riding bikes on the Monon Trail through Carmel – in Indiana, it’s pronounced like the candy! We definitely weren’t dressed warm enough; although it was sunny, the wind tore through our sweatshirts but we enjoyed the ride anyway. Afterwards we hopped in the car with the idea of finding a place to warm up and grab lunch. We ended up at the Garden Table in Broad Ripple, an all day cafe type eatery that any Australian would be cured of homesickness in. We each ordered something with the idea of sharing and the vegan beans and cornbread was definitely the hit of the day. It was so good that I was driven to duplicate it. I’m pretty close, but while my version is vegetarian, it isn’t vegan. I imagine that the cornbread recipe could use coconut oil instead of butter as well as almond milk for the regular. At any rate, the subtle middle eastern flavors in the beans and lentils surprisingly are complimented by the rich sweetness of the cornbread. The real star is the gremolata sauce though – the hit of lemony heat really makes this dish delicious!

Sweet and Rich Skillet Cornbread – 12 Servings

Ingredients and Procedure

3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup cornmeal

2 tablespoons baking powder

2 cups milk

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1 stick of butter (8 oz.), divided

4 eggs

2 tablespoons honey

Place skillet in the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs until they are golden and well combined.

Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter.

Add the milk, vegetable oil, butter, eggs and honey to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Carefully take the hot skillet out of the preheated oven and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in it. Using a spatula, coat the sides of the skillet with the melted butter. Pour the batter into the skillet and return it to the oven.

Check after 25 minutes to see if a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If not, bake for 5 more minutes and check again. It’s important not to over bake the cornbread so it won’t be dry. It will be done when the middle bounces back when tapped and the edges are just starting to pull away from the sides.

Ingredients and Procedures for Beans and Lentils – 6 to 8 Servings

1 medium yellow onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 1/2 cups lentils

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

2 (15.8 oz.) cans of Great Northern beans

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt

Rinse the lentils in a colander and check them over for any debris such as a small pebble or twig.

Dice the onion. Add the onion and oil to a large sauce pan and saute the onions over medium heat until they are tender – about 5 minutes. Put the garlic clove through a press or finely mince. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, and oregano to the onions. Saute the mixture for another 30 seconds.

Add the lentils,chicken broth and water and increase the heat so that it comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and let the lentils simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the beans, parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Taste and if needed add another 1/4 teaspoon salt. If by chance it is too salty, add additional water – 1/2 cup at a time – until the broth is adjusted. Continue to simmer the beans and lentils for another 10 minutes.

At the end of the cooking time the lentils should be tender and mixture should be thicker than soup, but still have a bit of broth left. If needed, more water could be added to thin it out. Likewise, if it”s too runny, cook it a bit longer so it gets thicker.

Spicy Gremolata Sauce – Yields 3/8 Cup

Ingredients and Procedure

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 garlic clove, put through a press or finely minced

1 Serrano pepper – seeds and membrane removed and roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup olive oil

Add the cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and salt to a blender of food processor. Pulse to coarsely process. Add the olive oil and pulse a few more times.

Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Assemble Beans and Lentils over Cornbread with Spicy Gremolata Sauce

For each serving cut a square of cornbread in half lengthwise and place in a bowl or plate. Ladle roughly 1/2 cup of the beans and lentil mixture over the cornbread. Spoon a tablespoon of the gremolata sauce across the top.

And just for fun…

                           

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Northeast Coast Steamed Mussels

One of the best things about traveling is trying the food a region is known for. After spending the last two summers exploring the western U.S., where it’s all about beef and buffalo, this year Roy and I headed to the northeast. Above is Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia, Canada where fishing is still a common way of making a living. I sampled the first mussels of my trip here – they were part of a seafood chowder – and I was hooked.

Prospect, Nova Scotia where Roy’s grandma grew up is just down the road from Peggy’s Cove. Her father was a fisherman just like every other man that lived there. Today, it’s said there is only one fisherman left in the village.

Prince Edward Island, or PEI as the natives call it, is known for its blue mussels. Notice the dark colored buoys in the water? That’s a mussel farm. Baby mussels are put into a net that looks like a hanging sleeve and they happily eat and grow while being washed by the clear water. After a couple of years they are harvested. Living in their farm environment, they aren’t muddy or gritty and are very easy to cook and eat.

While in Canada, and then later in Maine and Massachusetts, we bought mussels at the grocery for two dollars and some cents a pound. Wow! Even in a motor home it was easy to cook up a mess of them. They are great as an appetizer or the main dish. The first time I made them, I used what I had on hand to add flavor to the broth. Traditionally, mussels are steamed with some white wine, but I found chicken broth was just as delicious – and I just kept making them that way! However, feel free to throw in 1/4 cup of white wine if you so desire!

Ingredients:

For every 2 pounds of mussels:

2 tablespoons butter

6 cloves garlic, finely minced or put through a press

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 cups chicken broth (additional 1/4 cup white wine optional)

Rinse each mussel and check to make sure it is closed. If it closes up after you handle it, then it’s fine to use. But if it is cracked, open, or has an unpleasant odor, throw it out! In the several times I have made this dish, I always toss several.

If the mussel has a beard (a little string hang hanging out of the shell) gently tug it back and forth and pull it off.

Melt butter over medium low heat. Add onions and parsley and sauté until onions are just about to get tender. Add garlic and sauté 30 more seconds. Gently add mussels and carefully stir to cover them with the mixture. Turn heat up to high and pour in broth. Cover the pan and continue to cook on high for 5 minutes.

Take the cover off and give the mussels a stir. They should be open and look the the photo above. If some are still closed, put the cover back on and continue to cook on high for an additional two minutes. Throw out any mussels that are still closed after that.

Ladle the mussels and broth into serving bowls. Serve with melted butter to dip mussels in (honestly this broth is so good it isn’t needed!) and crusty bread to sop up the broth. Or serve the mussels and broth over cooked pasta. I’d love to hear if any one tries this. Feel free to email me at yatesyummies@gmail.com or make a comment below!

 

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