Cranberry Lemon Bars

Cranberry Lemon Bars

Too late for Thanksgiving but in time for Christmas and Hanukkah. Cranberry Lemon Bars have a sweet-tart topping on a butter cookie base.

Cranberry Lemon Bars

Cranberry and Lemon Topping –
  • 12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large lemons
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large room temperature eggs
  • Confectioners’ sugar
The Crust –
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
9 by 13 inch pan, lined with foil and coated with cooking spray

Cranberry Topping
Combine the cranberries, ¾ cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of water, and the zest of 2 lemons in a small pot. Bring it to a boil, stir and cook for about 10 minutes until the berries burst.
The Crust (heat oven to 350o)
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the vanilla and butter. Mix until dough forms. Press the dough into the pan in an even layer. Bake 18 – 20 minutes or until brown around the edges.
Lemon Topping
While the crust is baking squeeze the zested lemons for ½ cup of juice. Squeeze another lemon if needed. Mix the ¼ cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and the beaten eggs until incorporated. Add the lemon juice and mix until smooth.Cranberry Lemon Bars

Assembly
After the crust has cooled for a few minutes spread the cranberry topping over it. Then slowly pour the lemon topping on the cranberry.

Cranberry Lemon Bars

Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is set. Let it cool and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Use the foil to lift it out of the pan. Cut into bars and sprinkle top with confectioners’ sugar.

 

 

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Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

This is a traditional Caesar Salad recipe. It contains raw eggs and anchovies. Caesar Salad was invented in Mexico by Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who lived in San Diego but operated a restaurant in Tijuana where he could serve alcohol during Prohibition.

 

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup day old Italian bread, crust trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt & black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 minced anchovies (or more)
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn into pieces
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan large enough to hold the bread in a single layer and turn heat to medium-high. When it’s hot, add the bread, salt and pepper. Toss and brown lightly. Remove and set aside.


Rub the inside of a salad bowl with the garlic clove and discard it.

Beat the eggs and pour into the salad bowl. Slowly add the lemon juice and 6 tablespoons oil, constantly beating. Stir in anchovies and Worcestershire.

Taste for seasoning. Keep in mind that the anchovies and cheese are salty but add lots of pepper. Toss to coat the lettuce. Add the Parmesan and croutons, toss again and serve.

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Pasta alla Bottarga

Pasta alla Bottarga

Pasta alla Bottarga
Don’t expect an assertive taste like caviar or anchovies. Bottarga is subtle. It’s the roe sac of a fish, usually mullet or tuna, which is salted, pressed, and dried.
Pasta alla Bottarga
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. spaghetti or linguini
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 large garlic clove thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp. grated bottarga divided
  • red pepper to taste
  • ½ cup chopped parsley divided
  • ½ cup toasted breadcrumbs
Start with boiling the water for pasta.
Add the oil, garlic, red pepper and ½ the parsley to a pan over medium heat. Fry for a few minutes. Don’t brown the garlic. Reduce the heat to low and add a tablespoon of bottarga. Stir and simmer for few minutes.
Pasta alla Bottarga
Save a cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta and another tablespoon of the bottarga to the pan with the sauce and some pasta water if needed.
Pasta alla Bottarga
Turn off the heat and add the toasted breadcrumbs and remaining parsley. Serve, topping individual plate with the remaining bottarga.

 

Pasta alla Bottarga

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Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry

Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry

This is a quick recipe and a great way to prepare shrimp. You can make it with 2 cups of any kind of frozen vegetables you like. If you don’t have toasted sesame oil, substitute olive oil.

Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • 5 tbsp. sesame oil, divided
  • Salt
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 cups mixed frozen vegetables
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
Heat 2 tablespoon of sesame oil in pan over medium heat. Put in the shrimp. season lightly with salt and cook for 1 minute on each side.
Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry
Remove the shrimp from the pan and put in the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil.
Add the onion, a pinch of salt and cook for a few minutes  on medium heat until it begins to soften. Add in the vegetables, garlic and soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and cook about 1 minute.

Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry

Return the shrimp and toss until everything is well mixed and the shrimp is completely cooked. Serve with rice.

 

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Chipped Beef on Toast

Anyone who served in the military might wonder why I’d post a chipped beef on toast recipe. It’s  a standard Army breakfast which was not particularly liked my most soldiers. The Army served hearty breakfasts – eggs, toast, potatoes, grits, sausage/ham/bacon, hot and cold cereal, etc. and also chipped beef on toast. I’d never seen it until I began basic training. No one told me that I wasn’t supposed to like S.O.S. (a nickname that any ex-military understands) so not knowing any better, I actually liked it.
Me in basic training at Fort Gordon, Georgia where I first had S.O.S.

It’s a pretty simple recipe (similar in style to biscuits and gravy) and you’ll either love it or hate it. I happen to love it. Chipped beef is beef that’s ground, formed and sliced something like salami or baloney but very salty. You can also eat it plain on a sandwich or fried with eggs.

Chipped Beef on Toast     

Chipped Beef on Toast
Ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • Black pepper
  • Paprika – optional
  • 2 cups milk
  • 7 – 8 oz. chipped (dried) beef
  • 4 slices of toast
Melt the butter in a heavy pan over low heat. Add the flour and make a roux. Stir until slightly darkened. Add pepper and paprika, if using. Stir constantly until smooth. Add the milk, stirring to avoid lumps. Cook until the gravy is smooth.Chipped Beef on Toast

Chipped Beef on Toast


Chipped Beef on Toast
Slice the meat into 1 ½ inch long strips. Rinse in running  water to remove excess salt and drain. Mix it into the cream sauce and stir. Since the meat is so salty you probably won’t need to add any more. Serve it over toasted bread.

Chipped Beef on Toast

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Italian Hot Chocolate

Italian Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate season is coming up. There’s an article in L’Italo Americano that will make you want some Italian hot chocolate now.

Italian Hot Chocolate

ITALIAN CURIOSITIES: THE TRUE STORY OF ITALIAN HOT CHOCOLATE

“. . . The fall is the season of the queen of sweet delicacies, the creamiest of treats, the most decadent of the cold season’s offerings: la cioccolata calda. If you tried it, you know that Italian hot chocolate is on a different level: there is nothing else in the world that can compare to it, at least when it comes to hot cocoa drinks. You may find others that are nice, that taste delicious and that do hit the spot if you need a chocolate fix, but no Italian will in earnest say any of those are better than our beloved cioccolata calda. . .”

For the complete article click here.

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Roasted Pumpkin

Roasted Pumpkin

Whenever I see a pumpkin I think of Halloween and Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t normally think of Venice. I have a friend who spent some time there who told me that pumpkin (zucca in Italian) is a common ingredient in Venetian cuisine. He’s had it pureed in soup, with pasta, and as a side with meat or fish. Simple roasted pumpkin is even available from street vendors.

roasted pumpkin

Ingredients:
  • 1 pumpkin about the size of a cantaloupe
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • A few sprinkles of nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400o.roasted pumpkin
Wash the pumpkin and cut off the top and bottom. Pull out the seeds * and scrape out the fibers using the edge of a spoon or a melon baller. Cut the pumpkin in 1 inch wide slices.roasted pumpkin
Toss the slices in a bowl with the salt, nutmeg, and oil. Place them in a baking pan skin side down and roast for 25 minutes. Serve plain or as a side dish. You can eat the skin.roasted pumpkin
* If you like you can also roast the seeds. Mix 1 cup of rinsed and dried seeds with 2 tsp. melted butter and a dash of salt. Place them in a single layer on a baking pan and roast at 300o  for 45 minutes  or until golden brown stirring occasionally.
roasted pumpkin

 

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Swordfish au Poivre

Swordfish au Poivre

I found this recipe in the New York Times a few weeks ago. Steak au Poivre is fairly common but that technique also works with swordfish. Swordfish au Poivre, same recipe, different results.

Swordfish au Poivre

Ingredients:
  • 1 swordfish steak (about 1 lb.)
  • 1 kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp. crushed black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream

Blot dry and lightly salt the swordfish. Apply the pepper to both sides, pressing it into the fish. Heat the oil in a heavy pan and sear the fish on both sides. Remove it to a warn serving dish.

Swordfish au Poivre

Swordfish au Poivre

Swordfish au Poivre

Add the butter to the pan and sauté the shallot for a few minutes. Add the Cognac carefully (it might ignite) and stir until the alcohol burns off. Then add the cream and parsley and stir for a few minutes. Pour the sauce over the fish, cut into portions, and serve.Swordfish au Poivre

 

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Illegal Coffee

Illegal Coffee – Gastro-Obscura has an interesting article on coffee’s long history in the Middle East.
1850: A servant serves coffee to a group of Yemeni coffee merchants who have set up camp in the desert on their way to Mocha. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

 

In Istanbul, Drinking Coffee in Public Was Once Punishable by Death

Rulers throughout Europe and the Middle East once tried to ban the black brew.

By MARK HAY

“. . . Odd though it may sound, Murad IV was neither the first nor last person to crack down on coffee drinking; he was just arguably the most brutal and successful in his efforts. Between the early 16th and late 18th centuries, a host of religious influencers and secular leaders, many but hardly all in the Ottoman Empire, took a crack at suppressing the black brew. . . “
Read the complete article here.

Some other COFFEE posts:

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Italian Coffee Pots

Café Cubano

Manhattan Special

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Sea Scallops with Brown Butter

Sea Scallops with Brown Butter

sea scallops with brown butter recipe

This is an adaptation of Chef Lomonaco’s sea scallops with brown butter recipe. He was the chef at Windows of the World at the World Trade Center until September 2001.
sea scallops with brown butter
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb.  sea scallops (about 14)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped shallot
  • 2 tbsp. capers
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
Pat the scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a pan on high heat. Sauté the scallops until browned. Don’t crowd the pan.  If the pan isn’t hot enough or too crowded the scallops will over-cook without browning.sea scallops with brown butter
Remove the scallops from the pan and add the butter. When it melts add the shallot and capers. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add the lemon juice and parsley. Return the scallops to the pan and coat with the sauce.sea scallops with brown butter
I would serve 3 scallops for an appetizer and 7 for a main course.

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