Monday, January 11, 2016

Burrata Cheese with Fresh Pesto Drizzle

Burrata cheese has been described as the "Rolls Royce of fresh mozzarella".  I agree, it's a splurge in pocket book and calories, but it's worth it!!  If you can't find it, you can use goat cheese, or fresh mozzarella.

  • 2 cups basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt
Combine the basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and garlic in the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped. Add the olive oil and roughly puree. Season with salt to your taste.

Cheese and Pesto
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 16 ounces Burrata cheese
  • 1 cup yellow and red grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • basil sprigs
  • baguette, sliced
8 Servings.

To assemble the dish combine 1/2 cup of the pesto with the olive oil in a small bowl, Thin with 2 to 4 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season with salt. Drain the Burrata, place in a dish. Gently break open the cheese in the middle and drizzle it with the pesto mixture. Surround it decoratively with the tomatoes. Sprinkle sea salt, garnish with basil sprigs and serve with sliced baguette.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Roasted Corn & Tomato Salad

Make this salad during July, August, and September, when you can get fresh corn and vine ripened tomatoes. Grilling the corn gives it a smoky, rich flavor. If your vegetables aren’t super-flavorful, you can add basil leaves and Kalamata olives to liven this up.
  • 4 ears white or yellow corn with their husks
  • 4 medium tomatoes, ripe and fresh (this is a summer dish!)
  • at least 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
Grill corn (must be completely covered with husk) over medium heat, turning every 5 minutes, until the outer husk is black and the kernels are steaming and soft to the touch, for about 20 minutes depending on heat. Peel back some of the husk and quickly roast one side of each cob, so that some of the kernels are slightly blackened.

Cool the corn completely, letting it sit in the charred husks to flavor the corn. Remove the husks and remove any corn silk. Note - if you don’t want to grill the corn, just remove husks and silk and boil it in ½ inch water for 5-10 minutes.

Slice the kernels off of the cobs using a sharp knife, and holding the cobs vertically. Chop tomatoes and add to corn kernels. Dress with olive oil and salt to taste. Toss, let sit a few minutes for the flavors to mell, and add more oil and salt as desired.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Oregano Salad

This is one of my favorite Mediterranean salads!  My daughter and her friends (all 21 year old) love it as well. If you happen to have oregano growing in your garden and you are like me, you love Mediterranean cooking and have an abundance of it, this is a great way to use some of it up. And if you love it like we do, you will be looking forward to the new growth. An added bonus, it is believed in the Arab world to strengthen the memory!!
  • 6 cups (about eight 3/4 ounce packages) fresh oregano, stemmed, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 15 scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 pound tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons ground sumac
  • White onions, halved and thinly sliced, for garnish
  • Arab flat bread or pita for serving
Serves 6.

Combine the oregano leaves, onions, scallions, and tomatoes in a medium bowl.

Whisk the garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice together in a small bowl, and pour the dressing over the salad. Toss, so that all the oregano leaves are coated with the dressing. Season with the salt. Taste, and add more salt or a bit more lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle the sumac over the salad, reserving a bit for the garnish, and toss again.

Transfer the salad to a serving platter, garnish with the onions, and sprinkle the remaining sumac over the onions. Serve immediately, with wedges of  Arab flat bread or pita.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Baked Scallops with Tomatoes and Pistou Sauce

I love this dish, you can make the sauce (pistou French version of pesto) ahead of time. It makes for a great first course!  If you can get good tomatoes before the summer make it, otherwise late summer would be perfect. And if you don't like cilantro, use basil or whatever herbs you like.
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sand and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds sea scallops
  • 2 or 3 large, perfectly ripe tomatoes, or use smaller tomatoes as much as you need.
Makes 4 servings.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Combine the herbs, garlic,salt, pepper, lime juice, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a blender or food processor. Turn on the machine, then add the remainder of the olive oil in a drizzle, (the sauce should be some what thin). Taste it, you might want more salt, lime juice or garlic.

Drizzle a few tablespoons of the sauce on the bottom of a baking pan that will hold the scallops in one layer. Add the scallops and season with salt and pepper. Slice the tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick and layer over the scallops. season again. Spoon most of the sauce over the tomatoes. Bake until the tomatoes begin to liquefy, 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve immediately, with crusty bread, pass the remaining sauce at the table.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Smashed Potatoes

This dish is so easy to prepare, only three ingredients, but combined it makes for a very flavorful side dish. It's also a good alternative if you are cutting back on dairy.
  • 8 Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground white pepper
Serves 6

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Wrap each potato in aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the oven and when the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm, discard the skins. In a large bowl, lightly crush the potatoes with a fork. Mix in the olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Cod Baked with Tahini Sauce

This dish is so simple to make but the taste is very Mediterranean and outstanding. Make the tahini sauce first.

Tahini Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tahini paste
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 5 tablespoons water (more or less)
  • sea salt and black pepper
Serves 4.

Crush the garlic clove to a paste with a good pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Whisk in the tahini and then thin with the lemon juice. Add water until you have a consistency of cream, check the seasoning, add more lemon juice, salt or pepper to taste.

Baked Cod
  • 4 thick cod fillets, skin on, about 8 ounces each
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley, small handful
  • 1 lemon quartered
Serves 4 people.

Place a frying  pan on the stove, medium high heat. Add the olive oil just enough to cover the pan. Season the cod with salt and pepper. Place it carefully in the pan, skin-side up, shaking the pan to prevent it from sticking. Cook for 1-2 minutes until sealed. Carefully turn the fish over with a spatula and continue cooking for 5 to 8 minutes until it's cooked through. It should flake easily, and be white all the way through.  While the fish is still there, pour the tahini sauce into the pan to warm for half a minute. Transfer to warm plates, spooning the sauce over the fish, sprinkle the chopped parsley over the fish and sauce and lemon on the side.