DishingwithDiane Announcement

Good-News-Ifor site GOOD NEWS 2

Click on the photo to enlarge, and then the back arrow to return to original size.

Hi Everyone, 

I am so happy to share the news that one of DishingwithDiane’s photos from the July 23, 2017 blog post, “Low Country Shrimp Boil” was chosen to be in the current Summer 2018 edition of the Newsday Funbook which came out today.

For those of you who subscribe to Newsday there are two different Fun Book covers.

My photo is on page 67 of the digital edition.

full NEWSDAY POOL RESIZE - USE LAST

My photo is on page 69 of the printed copy.

newsday beach RESIZE LAST

For those who don’t subscribe to Newsday, here is a copy of the page.

Newsday18 FUNBOOK 2018

 

Here is a close up of the caption…

Photo May 19, 11 45 33 PM WITH ARROW

 

 

I can’t believe I was fortunate to have this happen a second time. My photo of sunflowers from the Sound Shore Market & Farms from the “Good Bye to Summer 2016”  blog post was chosen for last year’s Newsday Funbook.dsc_0657-sunflowers-for-blog

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

 

 

Soft Shell Crab Recipes…

live-soft-shell-crabs in bucket 2

Click on the photos to enlarge and then the back arrow to return to original size.

Hi everyone, 

Well, it’s that time again. The beginning of the season for soft shell crabs –  May through September. Outside of blue claw crab sauce over linguine, this is my favorite crab meal.

Soft shell crabs remind me of my Dad. He was always the first one to bring me a soft shell crab sandwich at the beginning of the season – never failed. It was piled high with lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce and served with French fries and Cole slaw.

It was our tradition.

After our first soft shell crab sandwich of the season, there were many days that my Dad and I would go and have lunch at all the waterfront restaurants near my home and order soft shell crabs to see who prepared them the best. You would think we would get tired of them, but we never did.

Now you know just how much I love soft shell crabs. 

After all these years, I still can’t decide which way I like them better. I like a sandwich of fried soft shell crab with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce on a kaiser roll (traditionally served on toasted white bread), and I like sauteed soft shell crabs in garlic, white wine, lemon and butter sauce with steamed vegetables.

For those of you not familiar, a soft shell crab is the blue claw crab in its molted state, when they shed their hard shells to reveal a paper thin shell. This thin shell hardens within 2-3 hours so there is a brief period to harvest the soft shell crab .

bal-bs-disc-1-023-20130605-- soft shell crab shedding shell photo judy brunk

Eating a soft shell crab is a little difficult for some people to wrap their head around, because you eat the entire crab. That includes claws, head, legs and shell (minus the eyes and the lungs). Your fish monger will clean them for you. Buy live, fresh crabs and have them cleaned before you prepare them. If you see crabs wrapped in cellophane in a grocery or fish store, pass them by, they were frozen. 

If you prefer to clean the crabs yourself, here are some basic instructions:

  1. Remember you are starting with a live crab…
  2. Get a good sharp pair of kitchen shears and cut across the front of the crab, behind the eyes and mouth to remove them (approximately a 1/2 inch cut). This will kill the crab.
  3. Squeeze out the yellow contents of the sack located directly behind the cut you just made. This yellow sack is part of the digestive system and can be eaten – personal preference. ( I choose to remove it. Research shows that chemical contaminants, such as dioxin and mercury can accumulate in this area).
  4. Once you get over the trauma of killing the crab, lift one pointed corner of the top shell and remove the gills by pulling them out of the base. The gills are beige and feathery. Now repeat on the other side of the shell.
  5. Turn the crab over and there will be a flap called the apron. Lift the apron with your fingers and pull it off the body.
  6. Rinse the entire crab removing any more yellow “mustard” from the crab and pat dry.
  7. You are now ready to cook your crab. Enjoy!

*******************************************************************************

There are many different recipes for preparing soft shell crabs, but this is how I prepare them, both fried and sauteed. 

Start both recipes with cleaned and rinsed crabs patted dry…

Photo May 11, 3 24 55 PM - DEEP FRIED SOFT SHELL CRAB

Fried Soft Shell Crabs

Ingredients:

1 cup AP flour

¼ cup cornstarch

Salt and pepper

2 eggs

½ cup milk

1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (or homemade)

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 tbsp. minced parsley

Grated cheese – to taste

To Serve:

Lettuce

Tomato

White toast or roll

Tartar sauce or mayonnaise

Cole Slaw

French Fries

Lemon wedges

Directions:

  • Heat 1-inch oil in a 12-inch skillet (I use olive oil, or you could use a neutral oil like canola or vegetable) over medium high heat until shimmering hot. Oil must be very hot, or the crabs will be soggy.
  • SET UP A BREADING STATION…
  • In a bowl combine 1 cup flour, ¼ cup cornstarch, salt, pepper, 1/2 tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning – set aside
  • In another bowl, beat 2 eggs with ½ cup milk – set aside
  • In another bowl, combine 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (or homemade), 1 cup panko bread crumbs, grated cheese, minced parsley, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Pat crabs dry
  • Toss in seasoned flour
  • Dip in egg & milk
  • Toss in bread crumb mixture
  • Repeat with remaining crabs
  • Place crabs in oil, shell side down
  • Be careful, the crabs can pop and spatter
  • Cook turning once, 3 minutes a side until golden
  • Transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle lightly with salt
  • Ready to eat…

********************************************************

 Sautéed Soft Shell Crabs

Photo Jul 19, 7 15 18 PM.jpg SOFT SHELL CRAB

Ingredients:

¼ cup olive oil

1 ¼ cup AP flour

3 cloves of minced garlic

4 tbsp butter – divided

½ cup white wine

Juice of 2-3 lemons

2 tbsp minced parsley 

½ tbsp. Drained capers

SEASONING FOR FLOUR

1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. thyme

Salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a 12-inch skillet (I use olive oil, or you could use a neutral oil like canola or vegetable) with 2 tbsp. butter over medium high heat until shimmering hot. Oil must be very hot, or the crabs will be soggy.
  • In a bowl combine 1 cup flour, 1 tsp of each: Old Bay Seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme- set aside
  • Pat crabs dry and season with salt and pepper
  • Toss in seasoned flour and shake off excess
  • Repeat with remaining crabs
  • Place crabs in oil, shell side down
  • Be careful, the crabs can pop, and spatter so stand back or use a splatter shield
  • Cook turning once, 3 minutes a side
  • Remove crabs from skillet and set aside
  • DO NOT clean out the pan.
  • To the skillet, add 2 tbsp. butter. Let the butter melt and turn a little brown
  • Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute
  • Add capers and white wine and cook for 1- 2 minutes until slightly reduced
  • Add lemon juice and parsley and cook for 2 minutes
  • Pour sauce over crabs

*******************************************************

I hope you try one of these recipes and enjoy Soft Shell Crab Season.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to become members of DishingwithDiane.

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your comments & emails, I LOVE hearing from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Has Arrived…

 

Photo May 12, 12 28 05 AM BUFFET

Click on the photo to enlarge and then the back arrow to return to original size

Hi Everyone,

I have been very, very busy the past few weeks so instead of sharing a tablescape today, I wanted to share some springtime recipes with all of you. 

 Spring has finally arrived here in the Northeast and it is glorious to finally have some nice weather. Spring makes me want to open all the windows and welcome in the fresh air. What a pleasure!

I am waiting for all the farmers markets and road stands to open. I love going to farm stands and buying fresh produce straight from the fields. Fresh is best and I want to support the local farmers.

I also buy all my organic herb plants from the farms. This year I am growing a larger herb garden than last year because it seems that I am constantly buying herbs in the grocery store only to have them last a few short days.

Last year we planted basil and parsley but this year I am branching out to add rosemary, sage and thyme.

As we all know I have a brown thumb (I killed the bamboo), so Bob will have to take over the garden. I will still be the chef.

To welcome spring and this lovely weather for the past few days, I decided to make a quick weeknight “Springtime Buffet” for Bob and I with some fresh veggies. Nothing fancy, just an ordinary night.

(Once you read the recipes, you will notice that they are all fairly easy). 

I started with one of my favorite salads, an Italian caprese salad which is layers of alternating tomato slices with fresh mozzarella, basil, some olive oil and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper. I have this salad all spring and summer.

Photo May 12, 12 28 11 AM CAPRESE SALAD

I made two additional salads for the table, one is a very refreshing carrot salad with pineapples and raisins.

I have been making this four ingredient salad for years. I can’t even remember where I got the recipe from. When I visit my son, I have to remember to bring a container of carrot salad because it has always been a favorite of his. The secret is using fresh topped carrots and not the carrots pre-packaged in bags. Fresh carrots are so much sweeter.
Photo May 09, 7 59 24 CARROT SALAD ING.

Photo May 12, 12 34 03 AM CARROT SALAD

The second salad was a tossed salad of mixed greens with the addition of radishes, cucumbers, fruit, nuts and cheese. I make my own salad dressing with lemon juice, mustard, mayonnaise, garlic & oil and I will include that recipe at the end of the post.

It is officially spring when I start using one of my favorite pieces for spring and summer. A galvanized wheelbarrow that I use for salad. Purchased last year in my home away from home, Pier 1.

 It just puts me in the mood for gardening and springtime.

Photo May 12, 12 29 54 AM SALAD

The main entree for this buffet was a vegetable quiche.

The quiche was filled with yellow squash, green zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. You can add any combination of veggies you want as long as you use the basic recipe. I change the filling all the time depending on what I have in the veggie bin.

I did not have enough time to “attempt” to make my own pie crust ( making homemade pie crust is not my specialty), so I used a frozen organic pie crust.

Photo May 09, 3 18 14 PM VEGGIE QUICHE ING

I always sprinkle a layer of fine bread crumbs on the bottom of the pie crust just in case your filling is too wet  (the mushrooms give off liquid). The bread crumbs will prevent the crust from getting soggy.

Photo May 09, 6 50 53 PM BREADCRUMBS

I find the best bread crumbs for this job are the organic bread crumbs from Trader Joe’s because they are extra fine.

Photo May 12, 3 14 00 AM BREADCRUMBS

All the ingredients are mixed and now the quiche is ready for the oven…Photo May 09, 7 10 45 PM READY FOR THE OVEN

Once our springtime buffet was complete, we enjoyed eating this meal outside on the patio. I just love when we can dine al fresco.

(Although in Italian, the expression al fresco usually refers to spending time in jail and not eating outside. Very shocked when I heard that bit of information, but we aren’t in Italy.)

________________________________________________

Photo May 12, 12 29 07 AM VEGGIE QUICHE

I hope that some of the recipes today inspired you to try something new.

Give them a try and find a new favorite, and enjoy the nice weather too!

I’ll be back soon with a new tablescape…

Photo May 12, 12 31 16 AM FLOWERS

HERE ARE THE RECIPES…

CARROT SALAD

2 bunches topped carrots

1-cup mayonnaise

1/2 pineapple peeled and chopped OR a 14oz can of pineapple tidbits, drained

1/2-cup raisins

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Peel the carrots and grate them in a food processor fitted with the large grating attachment. (if you lay the carrots on their sides in the feed tube, you will have nice long grated strands)

Place the carrots in a large bowl and add the mayonnaise, pineapple, raisins, salt & pepper. Toss well and season to taste. Serve chilled or at room temp.

_____________________________________________________________________________

FAVORITE SALAD DRESSING

3 TBSP fresh lemon juice

1 TBSP cider vinegar

1 TBSP mayonnaise

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

4 tsp sugar 

1 very small garlic clove, chopped OR  1 TBSP minced garlic in a jar

1 cup olive oil

In a food processor, blend all ingredients EXCEPT the oil until smooth…..with the motor running add oil in a stream, blend until emulsified. Transfer dressing to a jar and keep it covered and chilled until serving, yields 1- 1/4 cup

____________________________________________________________

VEGETABLE QUICHE

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1- 1/4 cup half and half OR heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup real mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup sliced shallots
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  •  1- 1/2 cups sharp or mild cheddar cheese OR Gruyere cheese
  • 2 cups diced veggies
  • 1- 9-inch unbaked frozen “deep Dish” pie shell OR 2 regular pie shells

COOKS NOTE: I sprinkle a layer of fine breadcrumbs on the bottom of the pie crust in case your filling is too wet, it will prevent the crust from getting soggy.

COOKS NOTE: if you add spinach, buy frozen it’s easier…thaw and squeeze out excess water. Break apart the spinach and add to the ingredients.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Hand whip eggs, half-and-half, mayonnaise, and flour in a medium-mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour into an unbaked 9-inch, deep-dish piecrust. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or until top is golden brown.

6-8 servings

__________________________________________

Enjoy Spring!

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to become a member of DishingwithDiane.com

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your emails and comments, I LOVE hearing from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories of Grandma’s Polenta Nights…

Click on the photo to enlarge and then the back arrow to return to original size.

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all well. 

I have been away from posting for quite a while and missed all of you. I was away because I had a lot of things going on at once. I had a wonderful few weeks with my son who was visiting during his vacation. We had a great time and we were out and about every day and I had no time to post.

 

For my husband and I, having our son home makes our home complete.

Also during my absence, I celebrated a milestone birthday and turned 60-years old!

Photo Apr 11, 11 47 20 AM (1) 60 Balloons @2

I don’t know where the years have gone and it seems the older I get, the quicker the years pass but I am very happy to celebrate this milestone birthday. My son was still home and having him celebrate my birthday with me was the best gift I could have ever received. 

I apologize to those who wrote and wanted a new Easter tablescape. I promise you, you will have one next year. And I want to thank those who sent e-mails to see if I was okay when I hadn’t posted. I was overwhelmed by your thoughtfulness.

Now for today’s post …

****************************************

The name of this post is “Memories of Grandma’s Polenta Nights”.

 Some of you who have been members since DishingwithDiane began three years ago will remember the story I told about my grandmother and eating polenta with mushroom sauce off of her special pastry board. When Grandma called for “polenta night”, you dropped everything and headed over to her house. No questions asked and there were no excuses not to show up. It was as sacred as going to church, you couldn’t miss it.

(This photo is an idea of how the polenta was served on the board at grandma’s house minus the bowls, and Grandma made a lot more polenta.)

Photo Apr 21, 8 32 16 PM -INTRO 1- POLENTA AND BREAD -BOARD

Not too long ago, I went to lunch with some of my friends and we were talking about family traditions and I mentioned eating polenta off the board at Grandma’s house. Some of my friends remembered the earlier post and some never heard the story.

(Here is a recap of my original story for my new members.) 

**************************************************

For those of you who are not familiar, Polenta is cornmeal. Sort of like “Italian grits”. The original polenta was cooked stove top, low and SLOW.  And I mean slow. I remember my grandmother and Mom mixing the polenta in simmering water and salt for close to 45 minutes, then adding grated cheese and butter once it became thick and creamy. 

Grandma even had a special spoon to turn the polenta and when I see this spoon in Italian specialty shops, it always makes me smile. 

(A polenta spoon can be purchased online at Fante’s Italian Market if interested. Their website is always fun to browse). 

14227 polenta spoon fantes italian market

Thank God polenta now comes in an instant version that you only need to stir for less than 5 minutes, so I never bought myself the polenta spoon.

I find the best polenta to be “de la Estancia” brand.

Organic and “not gritty” at all, very creamy.

(I purchased this bag at Whole Foods but you can also order it online on Amazon.com)

Photo Apr 21, 2 48 33 PM (1) POLENTA BAG

******************

As I said before, when Grandma called and said it was “polenta night”, everyone went over. Her wooden polenta board made a grand appearance at the table. It was huge and spanned the entire table. She had it stored all wrapped up in a clean bed sheet in her hallway closet. And after every use it was washed and oiled before putting it away for the next polenta night.

We all sat around the board at the dining room table and Grandma would spread the hot polenta out of her saucepan onto the board and top it with her famous mushroom sauce (very thick, almost like a Bolognese) and grated cheese. Everyone picked their spot and started to eat and talk and talk and talk. 

As with any Italian family there was more than one conversation going on at a time- we got used to jumping in and out of conversations. 

Back to the polenta…

Polenta starts to get hard around the edges at room temperature and that was always the time that my cousins and I wanted to become creative and make a design in the polenta.

I can’t tell you how many times we ate the polenta with the goal of making it look like the boot of Italy – never happened.

If Grandma had company for dinner outside the immediate family, she served the polenta in bowls with her sauce. Not nearly as much fun.

So after strolling down memory lane at the diner with my friends, I decided to make them polenta on the board so they could experience it first hand. Of course, I will set a place setting with bowls in case eating off the board is not what they had in mind.

I am serving the polenta with a favorite salad of mine, that both my grandmother and mother made all the time. It is so simple, delicious and refreshing – Orange and Fennel Salad. 

Salad was always served in my house after the main meal, so I will be following that tradition with this luncheon as well.

My grandmother served fennel at the end of every meal (especially holidays) to aid with digestion, because God forbid you had heartburn or felt bloated after one of her meals, she would be insulted.

The salad is simple and consists of orange slices or segments, salt, pepper, sliced fennel and olive oil. Done… 

I add some fennel fronds and orange zest before serving for garnish. (olives & sliced red onion are optional).

Photo Apr 21, 7 24 00 PM FENNEL SALAD

I don’t really have a specific recipe for this salad since I just toss it together, so I am printing the recipe at the end of the post from the website Memorie di Angelina with their link if you want to see step by step instructions with photos.

Every Italian meal has bread and I will serve this meal with homemade olive bread. Yes, I said homemade. We all know, I am not the baker but I am going to give this a try. I have to use the no knead bread recipe because homemade dough and I are not best friends – I added kalamata olives.

(Link to Bob’s Red Mill Bread Recipes will be posted at the end of this post.)

Photo Apr 21, 7 08 17 PM OLIVE LOAF

Photo Apr 21, 8 04 39 PM SLICED BREAD

Usually I tell my guests what I am serving for a lunch in case there are food allergy concerns but this is a “surprise lunch” and I have other lunch options on stand by. I made my version of polenta with Grandma’s mushroom sauce, but I added hot sausage for a little kick. 

Photo Apr 21, 8 31 49 PM FOOD CLOSE UP

 While purchasing all the ingredients for this luncheon, I was basking in the memories the polenta brought back to me. The days when all my family was still with us and we were laughing and eating. 

We were always eating!

Polenta, which was once thought of as a peasant meal, has now become quite popular in Italian restaurants.

I hope you try this recipe (with the instant polenta) and enjoy.

If you have any leftover polenta from the saucepan, spread it out onto parchment paper in a jelly roll pan as flat as possible. Once the polenta has hardened, cut rounds out of the polenta (with a wine glass or cookie cutter) and save them wrapped in wax paper in a container in the refrigerator. Perfect for any leftover sauce.

You can refrigerate for up to 5 days or store frozen for up to 3 months.

Another great tip from my Mom…

Fry the polenta slices the next morning in a 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large skillet on both sides until golden. Drain on paper towels.

Add a fried egg and you now have a polenta breakfast.

*****************************************************************

Since my last post about polenta three years ago, I have purchased my very own polenta board. (How I wish I had my grandmothers. I don’t know what happened to that.) and I have polenta night on occasion and think of Grandma. 

My polenta board is actually made to serve pizza but I have adapted it for polenta and it is also great to add some extra height to a buffet table.

Photo Apr 21, 8 32 06 PM -INTRO FULL TABLE

If you decide to have a polenta dinner party with friends, make different sauces in addition to the mushroom sauce. You could have marinara or pesto sauce if your guests want a lighter sauce. The mushroom / sausage sauce is a bit heavy.

So let’s start a tablescape…

I want this tablescape to feel as if I was eating at a farmhouse in the hills of Tuscany.  I am sure that it would be just a picnic table I would be eating on but I decided to start with one of my favorite tablecloths. 

I am using a cream tablecloth with an olive branch design to transport us back to Italy.

I love anything with this design and I think that is one of the main reasons my kitchen has a Mediterranean theme.

(This tablecloth is polyester which is one material I usually stay away from, but works perfectly for this meal because it is stain resistant. Between the tomato sauce and not eating off a plate, I didn’t want to take the chance and ruin the tablecloth because of a spill. It has a non-stick coating and liquid spills bead up as well.)

Photo Apr 21, 7 00 21 PM TABLECOTH

The napkins are olive green and I am using wooden napkin rings with a sprig of fresh rosemary for an earthy touch.

Photo Apr 21, 6 58 13 PM NAPKIN AND RING

Here is something new for me, NO placemats or chargers for this rustic table.

Just a salad dish and a pasta bowl. Pasta bowl for the polenta if you’re not ready to eat off the board and a salad dish to enjoy my salad at the end of the meal. I wanted to make this meal exactly as Grandma did. 

I do have the perfect dishes for this tablescape…It is very rare for me to purchase a square plate, but I saw these dishes and knew they would be a perfect addition to my Mediterranean kitchen. 

The dishes are cream porcelain with a pattern of green and black olives. The pattern is part of the “Olive Branch” Dinnerware Collection and is manufactured by Lorren Home Trends. As an added bonus, the dishes are both microwave & dishwasher safe.

Photo Apr 21, 7 09 02 PM DISHES

My only complaint with the set, is that the coffee cups are the size of demitasse cups and nothing you could use for morning coffee.

Photo Apr 21, 7 11 07 PM DISH SET

Flatware will be brown for that earthy feel… 

Photo Apr 21, 6 58 41 PM FLATWARE

and my glassware will be clear stemless wine glasses.

Photo Apr 21, 6 59 19 PM GLASSWARE

And now for the star of the show…the polenta board. It also doubles as my centerpiece.

Photo Apr 21, 6 55 27 PM POLENTA BOARD

 I just love this board. I found it while getting in some retail therapy and searching Google for a polenta board. 

(I do my best shopping online late at night).

Before I used it, I washed it with a damp cloth and then oiled it with food grade mineral oil, that you can purchase in Bed, Bath & Beyond.

For my table accents, I am borrowing everyday items from my kitchen. Starting with olive branch salt and pepper shakers. As you all know by now, I LOVE to use salt & pepper shakers to carry a theme. It is an easy inexpensive accent that adds so much to the table.

 The salt and pepper shakers are by Bonita Home and match the dinnerware in cream ceramic with the olive branch design.

Photo Apr 21, 7 57 25 SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS

Another accent is an 8 inch artificial olive tree wrapped in burlap purchased at Ballard Design that I keep on my kitchen window sill. It adds so much to my kitchen and is a cute accent for this tablescape. (If you’re are not familiar with Ballard Design, it is a European inspired home furnishing store. There are a few retail stores but most items can be purchased on their website.)

Photo Apr 21, 6 59 38 PM OLIVE TREE

Adding to the olive branch theme is a water pitcher that I bought in Sur La Table a few years back. Not the same manufacturer but it blends in perfectly.

You always have to shop your house first.

Photo Apr 21, 7 01 49 PM PITCHER

Some matching dish towels from the kitchen for any spills and now I am done.

Photo Apr 21, 6 56 05 PM TOWELS

Well almost... The polenta board tablescape may be complete but not the polenta board lunch.

In addition to the salad and homemade crusty olive bread, there is always room for dessert and I chose to make another Italian favorite- Olive Oil Orange Cake. I remember my parents eating this cake for breakfast with coffee.

It is close to a sponge cake and doesn’t have a strong taste of olive oil at all. It has the hint of orange flavor and Bob tells me that it tastes like the filling of sfogliatelle pastry.

Photo Apr 21, 7 06 54 PM OLIVE CAKE

Photo Apr 21, 8 07 03 PM CAKE SLICE

I don’t have my grandmother’s original recipe, so I adapted this cake recipe with a few tweaks from the recipe on the website Italian Food Forever. Deborah Mele is one of my favorite chefs and I have been following her for years. I suggest you visit her website, ItalianFoodForever. (The link to this site is posted with the recipe.)

All my friends were good sports and ate off the board (made clean up a lot easier) and some are going to try this dish with their families. It is a lot of fun. Between the salad, bread, polenta and cake, this was the perfect meal.

Table Setting

(I set the table just in case bowls were preferred).

Photo Apr 21, 7 58 55 PM TABLE SETTING

(Don’t forget the recipes at the end of the post)!

Enjoy!!

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to become a member of DishingwithDiane.com by entering their e-mail in the box in the right hand column of the home page or join via Facebook.

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post again.

Also, continue to send me your comments, I LOVE hearing from you.

********************************

Recipes 

Polenta with Mushroom and Sausage Sauce

Ingredients:

1 (16 oz.) box or bag of instant polenta 

1- 1/2 lbs. mixed mushrooms (white button, baby bellas, shiitake and oyste are a good choice)- diced

4 sausage links- I usually use 2 hot and 2 sweet- casings removed

1/2 cup of olive oil

1 large onion- chopped

2 cloves of garlic-minced

salt and pepper to taste

dash of red pepper flakes

1 cup white wine 

1 cup beef broth or vegetable broth

2 tbsp. fresh parsley – minced

2 tsp. corn starch OR 1/2 cup heavy cream … (I use the heavy cream method)

8 oz. unsalted tomato sauce

5 oz. unsalted butter – divided

1 cup grated cheese

1/2 tsp. ground fennel (optional)

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add the sausage meat and brown.

Add another pinch of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and ground fennel and mix well with the onion / sausage mixture. (Adjust spices to your liking).

Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft with a golden-brown color. 

Add the wine and scrape up all the brown bits in the pan from the sausage.

Cook until wine has evaporated.

Add the 8 oz. can of unsalted tomato sauce and 2 tbsp. fresh minced parsley. 

Add the beef or vegetable broth –reserving 1/4 cup of broth if you are using corn starch.)

Stir the 1/4 cup broth with the 2 tsp. cornstarch until dissolved. Add the cornstarch and broth mixture to the skillet to thicken the sauce. OR * 1/2 cup heavy cream can be substituted for the cornstarch and broth mixture.

Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Taste for seasoning.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare your polenta according to package directions. 

When the polenta is done add 3 tbsp. butter and 1 cup (or more) grated cheese. Mix well and then take off the heat.

Once the sauce is off the heat, add 2 more tbsp. butter and mix well.

Ladle the polenta into shallow bowls if you are not going to be using a polenta board and top with the sauce. Serve with additional cheese, if desired.

************************************

Fennel and Orange Salad

Recipe courtesy of http://memoriediangelina.com

Ingredients

  • 3-4 fennel bulbs, preferably not too large
  • 4 or 5 oranges
  • Best quality, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A few black olives for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Prep the fennel: Trim the fennel bulbs top and bottom. If you’re working with a larger, older fennel, particularly one that is spotted like this one, remove the outer layer. Now cut the bulb into quarters, then slice each quarter very thinly from top to bottom, making sure that each slice has a bit of the base, which will hold the slice together.
  2. Prep the oranges: Trim them top and bottom, then take a paring knife and cut from top to bottom along the sides, between the pith (the bitter white stuff just under the peel) and the flesh. Once the orange is peeled, trim off as much of any remaining pith as you can, then slice the orange horizontally into thin, rounds.
  3. Compose the salad: Arrange the fennel and orange slices decoratively on a serving plate (or, even better, on individual plates if you have the time). Season with salt and, if you like, freshly ground pepper. Garnish with the black olives if using and drizzle everything very generously with the olive oil. And for an elegant final touch, if you like, top with bits of fennel frond.

***************************

No-Knead Artisan Olive Bread

Recipe Courtesy of https://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/

 

Ingredients:

Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and yeast. Add water and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Add in chopped olives and gently mix in with your hands just enough to incorporate them . Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let dough rise at room temperature for 10 hours (or overnight).
  2. When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 450ºF. Place a 4 qt. Dutch oven into the preheated oven, without lid, for 30 minutes.
  3. While Dutch oven heats, turn risen dough onto a well-floured surface and form into a ball with floured hands, dust loaf lightly with flour. Cover dough loosely with plastic and let rest for 30 minutes. Then, with floured hands, carefully place loaf in preheated dutch oven.
  4. With a very sharp knife, slit the top of the loaf in several places.
  5. Cover Dutch oven with its lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 12 minutes more.
  6. Remove loaf from Dutch oven and cool completely before slicing.

****************************************************

Olive Oil Orange Cake 

This delicious recipe brought to you by Italian Food Forever 
http://www.italianfoodforever.com/2013/07/olive-oil-orange-cake/

ingredients:

  • 2 Small Seedless Oranges
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil (Not Extra Virgin!)
  • 2 Cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • Dash of Salt
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar

To Garnish:

  • Powdered Sugar

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly grease a 9 inch spring-form pan.
  2. Cut off a small slice of the thicker top and bottom parts of each orange, discard these pieces, and then cut the rest of the oranges (flesh and peel) into chunks.
  3. Place them in a food processor and puree until blended but with some texture left.
  4. Add the oil to the oranges and pulse until blended.
  5. Mix together the flour, baking powder and soda and salt in a large bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl beat the eggs until they are light and fluffy and then slowly add in the sugar.
  7. Begin to add the egg mixture in three parts alternating with the orange mixture just stirring until combined. (Be careful not to over mix which will deflate the eggs and create a dense cake.)
  8. Pour the cake batter into your prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or just until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Cool before slicing.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Springtime Holiday Breads

Photo Mar 16, 6 47 29 PM SPRINGTIME HOLIDAY BREADS

Click on the photo to enlarge and then the back arrow to return to original size.

Hi Everyone, 

This year Bob and I have plans to go out on St. Patrick’s Day so there will be no St. Patrick’s Day tablescape from DishingwithDiane- sorry.  I am too busy running around and quite honestly, I ran out of time.

Instead, I wanted to share with you my recipes for two traditional holiday breads this time of year.

For St. Patrick’s Day, celebrated on March 17th — I made Irish Soda bread with caraway seeds and lots of raisins. One of Bob’s favorites. I will be serving this with apples and Kerrygold (love that brand) aged cheddar.

Photo Mar 16, 8 08 58 PM - IRISH SODA BREAD

Here is the recipe I use for Irish Soda bread from Melissa Clark at the NY Times…

INGREDIENTS

  • Butter for greasing pan plus 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 ½teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ¾ cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 ½ cups raisins or currants
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds 
  • Good aged Cheddar cheese, for serving
  • Tart apples, cut into slices, for serving 

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch oven-proof skillet and line with parchment or waxed paper.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined. Do not over-mix. Stir in the raisins or currants and caraway seeds.
  3. Pour batter into skillet. Brush top with remaining butter. Bake until golden and firm to touch, about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving with Cheddar and apples.

********************************************************

For St. Joseph’s Day, celebrated on March 19th — I made St. Joseph Day Bread with anise seeds (which gives the bread a mild licorice flavor). This is one of my favorites.

Photo Mar 16, 6 32 33 PM ST JOSEPH BREAD

This bread is usually part of the St. Joseph’s Day altar (or table ) to honor St. Joseph. Each year my grandmother served this bread along with other traditional foods for this day such as minestrone soup, fava beans and bucatini pasta in a garlic, oil, and anchovy sauce ( before you even think it, it is not fishy) topped with toasted bread crumbs.

If you want to read more about this holiday and want additional recipes,

here is my link to a previous St. Joseph Day post 

 https://dishingwithdiane.com/2017/03/18/st-josephs-day-2017/

 

Photo Mar 16, 6 34 23 PM ST JOSEPH STATUE

Here is the recipe I use for St. Joseph’s Day Bread from the website, Mangia Bene Pasta

(Makes 1 loaf – approx. 18-inches in length)

Ingredients:

2/3 cup warm milk, 105 – 115 degrees F.
1 (1/4-ounce) package dry active yeast
3 cups bread flour, divided
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon anise seed or 1 teaspoon anise extract       

Egg wash: 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Sesame seeds

Directions:

Stir the yeast into the warm milk and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add 1 cup of flour, sugar, salt, and melted butter. Beat the mixture with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, anise seed or extract, and another cup of flour.
Beat for 2 more minutes.

Change from the paddle attachment to a dough hook. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough starts to come together. You may not need to add all of the flour. Then allow the dough hook to knead the dough on medium for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Punch the dough down and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 20 – 22-inch rope. Place the 2 ropes on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Loosely twist the ropes together, tucking the ends under. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 – 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush the loaf with the eggwash and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

**************************************************

I hope you enjoy both the recipes and the holidays with your family and friends. Until my next post, make everyday a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to subscribe to DishingwithDiane.

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your comments, I LOVE to hear from you.

 

Announcement from DishingwithDiane…

Click on the photo to enlarge and then the back arrow to return to original size.

Hi Everyone,

I hope all of you are safe after all of the snowstorms, nor’easters and flooding that has been sweeping the country. My prayers go out to all.

I am very proud to share the news that two of DishingwithDiane’s recipes are featured in the March/April issue of The List Magazine LI  (page 26).

Photo Mar 09, 8 03 08 AM RECIPES

It is such an honor for me to be included in this publication.

It was very meaningful to receive my printed copy on International Women’s Day and immediately thought how proud both my mother and grandmother (the two special women in my life), would be to see one of our family recipes published in a magazine to be shared with so many.

Photo Mar 09, 8 05 47 AM COVER

The recipes featured are Spaghetti alla Trapanese – which is a variety of a pesto sauce using almonds instead of pignoli nuts and the addition of sundried tomatoes. This dish is a perfect Lenten meal or vegetarian meal for any day of the year.

It is very easy to prepare, comes together quickly and is absolutely delicious. If you love pesto, you have to try this.

AND

Pizza Rustica(Pizza in this case is not pizza with red sauce and cheese. Pizza in Italian means pie) – this is an Italian pie made with cured Italian meats and Italian cheeses bound together with eggs.

Pizza Rustica is served traditionally at Easter.  We would eat thin slices with an antipasto before the traditional lamb dinner and then again on Easter Monday.

Easter Monday or La Pasquetta which means little Easter; is a national holiday in Italy where families leave the city and head to the country, beaches or mountains for a family picnic. Pizza Rustica is always part of the menu. 

This particular recipe for Pizza Rustica was handed down from generation to generation in my family and it is my pleasure to share this family favorite.

**************************

I suggest you read the magazine from cover to cover. It is a pleasure to read, especially if you live on Long Island.

I have attached a link to the March/April issue of the magazine. 

https://issuu.com/…/docs/thelist_winter2018_issue30-digital…

Photo Mar 09, 8 21 41 AM MAGAZINE

So thrilled to share my exciting news with all of you.

********************************************************************

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to subscribe to DishingwithDiane

Once you subscribe, you’ll never miss a post

Also, continue to send me your comments, I LOVE hearing from you.

A Hidden Treasure

recipes-1024x576---RECIPES FOR BLOG USE FOR BLOG TITLE

Click on the photo to enlarge, and then the back arrow to return to original size.

Hi Everyone,

I just have to share this story with you… 

This is not a post with a lot of pictures, but instead a story of fate and a special recipe.

 Let me give you a little background so you can truly appreciate the story. Please continue to read…

When I was a little girl my mother made a lamb dish with egg and lemon sauce, that was one of my all time favorites. My mother made it every time I asked for it. If I requested that she make it “soon”, it appeared on the dinner table that night. I don’t even know the name of it.

Even when I got married my mother still made it for me. I never thought to ask for the recipe or watch how it was made because you never think that one day, Mom won’t be able to make it for you.

My mother started to have problems with dementia and was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease so she could no longer remember how to make this dish. And being a true Italian mother of her generation, she never wrote a recipe on paper. It was all by memory.

I have no living family members that I could ask for the recipe, so I started my own search. I read cookbook after cookbook; even seeking old used Italian cookbooks from Amazon hoping for an answer. And I never found anything close to my Mom’s.

There were a few Greek lamb recipes that I found that added dill, artichokes and marjoram. There were other ethnic lamb stew recipes that I found along the way that added celery, onions, garlic, carrots and tomato paste but nothing that even came close to what my mother made.

My mother used minimal, but always the best ingredients she could find and I knew a recipe with a long list of ingredients just wouldn’t be the same.

My mother was from Naples and every time we dined in a restaurant that featured Neapolitan style cooking I would ask the owner and chef about this dish, but none have heard of it.

Bob and I took a weekend trip to Boston and visited the North End which is filled with Italian restaurants. I told Bob I felt lucky that I would find the recipe there but the more I asked, the more “no’s” I received. No one had ever heard of this dish.  After searching for so long, I thought that my mother must have made this recipe up herself and it was definitely gone forever.

Recently I posted a picture of my pasta piselli with prosciutto to one of the food groups on Facebook that I belong to. I received a comment from a lovely woman named Stacey Ann that I had never spoken to before. She told me that her brother Frank made the same dish in the same set of Italian dishes (the Deruta from my blogiversary post) and we couldn’t believe the coincidence. 

We started chatting and she told me that her brother had a website with a collection of Italian recipes, that was a tribute to their grandmother Angelina. 

After some conversation, we exchanged blog names and I went on her brother’s site to look through some of her family recipes. It is a beautiful site and they have recipes listed by course, region and season. I was browsing the spring section and there in front of me was this recipe…

“Agnello Brodettato” translated to Lamb Stew with Egg and Lemon.

I swear my heart skipped a beat and my eyes filled up with tears. It looked exactly like the dish my mother made for me. After searching for over 20 years, the recipe was finally right in front of me. I couldn’t believe it and I must have read the title 20 times just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

I contacted Stacey Anne to tell her what happened and to thank her and her brother Frank, a million times for letting me discover this “hidden treasure” after all these years.

A funny thing happened to her with my blog as well. She told me that the first recipe she looked at on my blog was a recipe that she was searching for, Crockpot Chicken. We both found our recipes by a chance meeting on social media.

I quickly wrote down all the ingredients and went to the store.

The minute I came home I started to cook.

I am not sure how I read the recipe because I had tears in my eyes the whole time. But once the smell of this dish was in the air it took me back 50 years to when I was 10 years old and ate this dish frequently with my family. It was almost as if my Mom was with me once again.

I just couldn’t believe how blessed I was at that moment.

Here is a photo of the ingredients and then my final result.  

Photo Feb 20, 5 22 02 PM LAMB INGRED...

Photo Feb 20, 7 45 20 PM lamb

All the years I tried to describe this dish to my husband and we were finally able to eat it together. I felt that Mom was there in the kitchen with us.

It’s funny how a food, a scent, an article of clothing can bring you back to some wonderful memories.

Frank’s site is “Memorie di Angelina – Easy Authentic Italian recipes” 

Go on the site and read the wonderful recipes, maybe you will find a hidden treasure too. 

It was absolutely DELICIOUS!

I guess the lesson here is to never, ever give up hope…

Here is the link to his beautiful site…

Memorie di Angelina

And here is the recipe…

I did tweak it a little by adding more lemon…

and I served it with crusty garlic bread to soak up the pan sauce…

****************************************************************************

Agnello brodettato (Lamb Stew with Egg and Lemon Sauce)
 

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6

Frank’s photo:

agnellobrodettato LAMB FROM fRANK'S WEBSITE photo

Ingredients

    • 1 kilo (2 lbs) lamb stew meat, cut into cubes
    • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    • 50g (1 oz) fatty prosciutto or pancetta, chopped
    • Olive oil or lard
    • Flour
    • White wine
    • Salt and pepper
For the egg and lemon finish:
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Juice of one freshly squeezed lemon
  • A few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped

Directions

  1. The recipe is simple but a bit tricky at the end. You begin with a soffritto of an onion and 50g (2 oz.) of rather fatty prosciutto (or pancetta), chopped together finely and gently sautéed in olive oil or, if you want to be truly authentic, lard.
  2. Then add the lightly floured cubes of lamb meat and turn up the heat a bit. Allow the meat to brown lightly—taking care not to burn the onion—and season with salt and pepper. Then add a splash of dry white wine and allow it to evaporate completely.
  3. Add enough water to almost cover the meat, lower the flame and cover. Let the lamb braise until tender, normally about an hour but the time will vary depending on how young your lamb is and how big your cubes of meat are.
  4. Shortly before the meat is done, beat two egg yolks in a bowl and mix with the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon and finely chopped parsley. When the meat is fork tender, remove from the heat. Add a spoonful of the cooking liquid to the egg and lemon mixture to temper it, then pour the mixture immediately over the lamb and stir, until well incorporated. Return to the burner over very low heat and keep stirring gently, until the egg has thickened the cooking liquid into a smooth, silky consistency.
  5. Serve immediately.

Notes

The trickiest part of making Lamb Stew with Egg and Lemon is the final addition of the lemon and egg mixture. If you let it cook too long or get too hot, the egg may curdle and the sauce will ‘break’, so let it just thicken to the point where the sauce will coat a spoon and remove it immediately from the heat. (NB: The residual heat from the pot will continue to cook the egg and thicken the sauce, so allow for that.) If things seem to be getting out of hand, add a few more drops of lemon juice, which should cool the sauce enough to prevent it from separating. If you are using a terracotta or enameled cast iron cooking vessel, you may well find that the pot retains enough residual heat that you need not put it back on the heat at all.

********************************************

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to subscribe to DishingwithDiane.com.

Once you subscribe, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your comments, I LOVE hearing from you.