It has been years since the incident, but it’s been burned in my memory, and to be perfectly honest, it still haunts me. I invited a couple from the Midwest to dinner, and watched as they sat there at the dinner table, not quite knowing what to do with the food I had prepared. They just looked at the platter with a blank stare. I had prepared a beautiful medley of grilled veggies, charred French bread slices and a big scoop of ricotta in the center. I had drizzled a lovely balsamic reduction over the entire array of vegetables and topped it with ribbons of fresh basil. Sound familiar? Who knew this type of dish would be a huge food trend years later? When I asked the couple if they would like something else, their reply was simply, “Um, we’ve never eaten like this. We usually have meat and potatoes for a meal.” But they eventually warmed up to the idea (the wine helped) and devoured the entire platter! Today, I still make the same dish with red peppers, zucchini and vegetables in season. But now, I love making the grilled medley with homemade ricotta and homemade balsamic reduction. For the reduction, I add two tablespoons of Port. If you have it on hand, it adds a wonderful complex flavor to the balsamic vinegar. For the homemade ricotta, if you can find raw milk, you’ll get a much better yield. (Sprouts is your best bet) It’s quite a bit pricier than the whole milk but well worth the money for the amount of ricotta it makes. Make these two recipes and you’ll be upping the ante on Antipasto!
Looking for a “go-to” dessert recipe? You can’t go wrong with this delicious combination of apple pastry, candied walnuts, a drizzle of homemade balsamic reduction served with vanilla ice cream. It’s a scrumptious culinary puzzle that fits perfectly together! Make it once, and you’ll go to it time and time again, guaranteed!
A beautiful plate of sliced tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil drizzled with a rich balsamic reduction was always a mainstay on our Italian table growing up. You have come to know and love it as Caprese or Insalata Caprese. (Have you ever noticed that this dish reflects the colors of the Italian flag?) Besides being a delicious and light salad or appetizer, Caprese is as versatile as a dish gets. So much so, that you’ll now find it in many variations and combinations with other foods. The Marinated Chicken Caprese is the perfect example and is sure to be a new favorite for you and your family! You can make the pesto and balsamic reduction from scratch or use store bought. The Chicken Caprese also answers that age-old pesky question; How can I come up with new ways to cook Chicken? Well, maybe I can help you at least for this week!
Thank you Irving Naxon, for inventing the Crock Pot. Your cooking wonder found a place in our kitchens in 1940 when you won the patent for it, and we’ve never given it up. In fact, slow cooking is as popular as ever, especially when it produces such delicious meals like the Crockpot Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Apple Bacon Slaw. (Perfect for next day pork sandwiches!) Also, if you ever wanted to know a bit about the iconic Crock Pot, here’s an excerpt from a Huffington Post article:
“Naxon called his devise the Naxon Beanery. He said his mother, Tamara Nachumsohn, inspired him. She had told him stories about a bean-based stew she used to make in her village bakery at home in Lithuania. The stew, known as cholent, is a traditional Jewish dish that cooks all day. It’s rooted in the Jewish Sabbath, the day of rest in which observant Jews aren’t supposed to work. The stew goes on the heat before sundown Friday night, when the Sabbath begins, and cook all the way until the end of Saturday services the next day. As the ovens were turned off for the Sabbath, the pot of cholent would be put in the oven, and that slow residual heat over the course of the 24 hours would be enough to cook the cholent.”
Naxon sold his design to Rival Manufacturing the 70’s, which rebranded his Beanery as the Crock Pot. It was marketed toward working mothers with the slogan, “Cooks all day while the cook’s away,”
It’s officially pool party season and chips and salsa are our go-to favorites for backyard barbeques. If you’re looking for some fun new salsas to try, I’ve got some delicious options. The first is one of my favorite recipes for stand-out Salsa Fresca. It uses ingredients found in many diced tomato-based salsas, but you can heat it up or tone it down anyway you like. The second option is a Roasted Eggplant Salsa which was rescued out of my own recipe box—the one I’ve had for years stuffed with recipe clippings, potluck favorites and scribbles on scratch paper. It’s perfect if you’re looking to add something a little different to your salsa spread. Now, all you have to do is grab a chip and dive right in!
Bacon. It’s my favorite five letter word! In fact, when I was doing a lot of catering, bacon was my secret weapon. If it was a breakfast catering, I would make three times the amount requested, and it was never enough. For a lunch or dinner catering, I would make beer candied bacon as an appetizer and just pile it on a giant platter. Again, every crumb gobbled up. Never enough. Don’t know what to make for breakfast, lunch or dinner? Just add bacon somewhere in the dish, and you can bet it’ll be a hit. Here’s another idea that’ll get your taste buds sizzling—Bacon Jam. Just seeing those two words together, I knew it was going to be delicious, and I was not disappointed. Bacon Jam can be used in so many ways! It’s fantastic on a charcuterie board with lots of different cheeses, crackers and crustini. Bacon Jam also makes a wonderful condiment for a turkey burger! I cooked up a large ground turkey pattie, (beef is just as tasty) loaded it up with sliced tomato, lettuce, avocado, blue cheese dressing and then I slathered the pattie with bacon jam. YUM! It turned a very ordinary turkey burger into a super burger! A few things have to go right to get the perfect bacon jam. Cook the pieces of bacon until they are crispy. When the bacon foams up (that’s the bacon fat talking) that is a good indication that the bacon is just about done! Also, make sure to use sweet yellow onions, which add the natural sweetness to the salty bacon! Perfect combination! So, if bacon is your jam, Bacon Jam may be just the recipe to spread around!
Watch my How To Video for Bacon Jam here!