Category Archives: Desserts

Be prepared for “Company”…

Photo Aug 04, 11 57 58 PM STRAWBERRY INTRO

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Hi Everyone, 

This is a little advice to always be prepared for unexpected company…

When I was a little girl, my mother always kept a pound cake in the freezer for “company”. This drove my sisters and I crazy because there were many nights we just wanted to thaw it out and eat it.

My mother used to serve us toasted pound cake with fresh fruit and ice cream for dessert on a regular basis and we just loved it.

But the pound cake in the freezer was off limits!

I never fully understood why my mother did this, until this past Friday.

Did you ever get a phone call in the morning from someone that you haven’t seen in a while and they tell you that they will be in your area late afternoon and want to stop in and say hello?

Well, I got that call Friday morning. I invited them for dessert and when I hung up I went into a mini panic.

What would I serve for dessert? Of all days, I couldn’t leave my house to run and get a dessert because I was expecting a delivery from Lowes and I had to be home, so I had to get creative.

I usually hate unexpected company because I like to plan my tablescapes and meals way ahead of time.

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First the tablescape…

If you have been following my blog from the beginning, you know I always change my dishes on a monthly basis to rotate my collection. This month it is all about the  strawberry. Nice and cheery. So it looked as if that would be the tablescape theme since I had everything I needed at my fingertips.

I started out with a basic white weave cotton tablecloth. 

 I have strawberry salad plates, table-runner and napkins already in the kitchen, so that is what I used. I had no time to fuss.

The linens are a solid white background with clusters of strawberries and small red stamped flowers.

Photo Aug 04, 10 43 38 PM TABLECLOTH, RUNNER, NAPKINS

There isn’t enough room on the table for a placemat with the table runner so I just started with a glass beaded charger. I love this charger because it adds something to the tablescape but doesn’t overpower it.

Photo Aug 04, 10 37 37 PM GLASS CHARGER

Followed by a white alabaster dinner plate and my adorable strawberry salad plates.

The dinner plates are white alabaster glass with swirling semi-opaque streaks.Photo Aug 04, 10 38 11 PM WHITE ALABASTER DINNERWARE

The salad plates are a very heavy white melamine with clusters of strawberries around the rim.Photo Aug 04, 11 03 41 PM SALAD PLATE

 Another piece of serveware that I purchased with these dishes is the serving bowl but I didn’t need to use it.

I just wanted to show you what was available.

Photo Aug 05, 2 12 31 AM SERVING BOWL

I originally bought the salad plates to match a strawberry water pitcher that I bought many years ago. I used the water pitcher on Friday for homemade lemonade.

It’s fairly small for a water pitcher (only 8 X 8), which I liked because it doesn’t take up that much room on the table.

Photo Aug 04, 11 06 00 PM STRAWBERRY WATER PITCHER

Water pitchers to me are like salt and pepper shakers. They can carry the theme of your tablescape without being in the way, and are great table accents.

 Along with the water pitcher I used ceramic strawberry salt and pepper shakers on a green leaf plate.

I just loved these when I saw them because of the plate that it came on (and my love of salt & pepper shakers).

They are cute enough to be used on the kitchen counter as an accent for summer decor.

Photo Aug 05, 1 22 51 AM STRAWBERRY SALT AND PEPPER

The flatware was white pearl to match the dinner plate and not clash with the napkins since my red cutlery was too dark.

Photo Aug 04, 11 07 10 PM CUTLERY

I used Waterford crystal tumbler glasses, perfect for lemonade and already in the kitchen cabinet, so things were moving along.

Photo Aug 04, 11 56 27 PM WATERFORD TUMBLER

I was in a pinch so my centerpiece had to be a jadeite cake stand. I think this color looks good as a contrast to the strawberry table runner.

Photo Aug 04, 11 55 16 PM JADEITE CAKE SERVER

I added a few jadeite salad plates, one under the cake stand and one to use with the jar of strawberries in syrup.

Photo Aug 05, 12 13 34 AM JADEITE PLATE

Photo Aug 04, 10 35 16 PM STRAWBERRY WITH SPREADER

I had a strawberry spreader on hand in case anyone wanted some strawberries on their loaf cake and not just on their ice cream.

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That completed the tablescape…

I thought the tablescape looked cute once it was set and that is when I decided to make it a blog post.

Photo Aug 04, 11 07 53 PM EXTRA

Place Setting

Photo Aug 04, 11 05 14 PM PLACE SETTING

Now for the dessert…

 I already mentioned that I had a jar of Italian strawberries in syrupand I could serve them with ice cream, but that didn’t seem to be enough so I had to keep thinking.Photo Aug 04, 11 53 56 PM STRAWBERRIES IN SYRUP

BTW- the strawberries in syrup are not as sweet as the Amarena cherries in syrup.

I used the Italian Amarena cherries with my lemon ricotta pound cake- recipe in the index.

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I bought three pounds of beautiful organic strawberries in Whole Foods for 2.99 a lb. the other day and they were staring at me when I opened the refrigerator, so they became the star of the show.

I had a recipe for “Strawberry Crisp” that I made for a friend who visited a short time ago that only ate gluten free. It is made with oat flour and no refined sugar. I don’t even know where I got the recipe from, but I knew I had all the ingredients in the pantry and that could work. 

I hate when I don’t have the author of a recipe to share with you, because I always want to give credit where credit is due, so I apologize.

If anyone recognizes the recipe and knows the author, please let me know.

Photo Aug 04, 11 54 41 PM CRISP

I wanted to have another dessert choice because the crisp was not going to be very sweet because there is no added sugar, but it is good served with ice cream.

So my last dessert was a loaf cake with a lemon glaze. The recipe is easy and it originally calls for blueberries but I switched it up with strawberries.

Photo Aug 04, 5 56 31 PM STRAWBERRY LOAF

I added some strawberry wafers to the table that happened to be one of my recent purchases from Homegoods. I usually buys these wafers to top ice cream, but I served the wafers in a bowl as a little something extra to munch on.

Photo Aug 04, 5 55 03 PM STRAWBERRY WAFERS

Photo Aug 04, 11 06 15 PM BOWL OF WAFERS

So I started baking and kept thinking of mom and the pound cake in the freezer. She knew what she was doing back then.

I think from now on, I will always have a pound cake or two in the freezer for “company”. I suggest you do the same.

That could have made my life so much easier.

Mom had the right idea, as always.

If my company didn’t like strawberries, (which I thought about after the cakes were in the oven) I was ready to order a pizza or anything take out that they preferred that could be delivered, but it all worked out.

The strawberry desserts were a big hit and the visit was lovely catching up with each other.

I think mom would have been proud of my desserts today.

Plus, Bob was thrilled to come home from work to desserts…

Dessert Plate…

Photo Aug 05, 12 28 42 AM DESSERT PLATE

(Recipes at the end of the post).

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

If you enjoy the posts, please 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 and emails, I LOVE hearing from you.

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Recipes…

Strawberry Crisp

Ingredients

  • 6 cups about 2 quarts sliced fresh strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons almond extract
  • ¾ cup oats
  • ¼ cup oat flour oats that have been ground into a fine flour, or can substitute with whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, toss together strawberries cornstarch, and almond extract until completely combined.** The cornstarch should dissolve in the small amount of liquid so that you don’t see a white powder and the berries are all completely coated.
  3. Transfer berry mixture to the prepared baking dish.
  4. In a separate small bowl, stir together oats, oat flour, almonds, and salt. Add melted butter and maple syrup, stir until completely combined. I like to use my fingers to really mix together the ingredients into the crumble topping.
  5. Spread oat crumble in an even layer over the top of the berries.
  6. Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes, or until golden brown.

  7. Allow crisp to cool before serving.
  8. If you refrigerate the crisp, it will firm up even more and it will be easy to slice into squares.

Recipe Notes

  • This keeps well in the refrigerator for at least 1 week!
  • **NOTE: The sweetness of the dessert will depend on the sweetness of the berries that you’re using, since that’s the main ingredient.
  • If you don’t have really sweet, fresh, local fruit, just add some sweetener of choice before baking. You can use maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, Splenda, stevia, anything that you prefer!

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Strawberry Loaf

courtesy of Betty Crocker

REMEMBER, RECIPE WAS ORIGINALLY FOR BLUEBERRIES, SO I KEPT BLUEBERRY INSTRUCTIONS  IN ITALICS IF YOU WANT TO MAKE THE ORIGINAL RECIPE.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
cup granulated sugar
eggs
teaspoons vanilla
cup sour cream or plain yogurt
Grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
cups all-purpose flour
teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
cup fresh blueberriesI substituted strawberries
Steps

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only of 9×5-inch loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray.

In medium bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs, vanilla, sour cream, lemon peel and juice.

Stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder.

Fold in 3/4 cup of the blueberries. – I substitute strawberries.

Spoon batter into pan.

Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup blueberries – I substituted strawberries on top.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Glaze
cup powdered sugar
teaspoons whipping cream or milk
teaspoon lemon extract( you can also substitute vanilla extract).
In small bowl, mix glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle glaze over loaf. Let stand until set before slicing.

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Homemade Lemonade

  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 cups cold water
  1. In a gallon pitcher combine 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and 6 cups cold water. Stir.
  2. Adjust water to taste.
  3. Chill and serve over ice

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Photo Aug 04, 11 06 07 PM EXTRA COOKIES

More Than Just a Bowl of Cherries….

Photo Jul 23, 12 50 58 PM INTRO

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

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are enjoying your summer so far, but if you live in any part of the country that is going through a heatwave, torrential rain or tornadoesstay safe. 

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

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Bob and I planned on cleaning out the attic of old holiday decorations this weekend. (I have so many items). I just can’t believe how much I have accumulated over the past 20 years. I used to decorate the entire house for every holiday when my son was small. Now he is a man with his own house and I don’t use half the decorations I have, so it’s time to say goodbye to clutter.

Because of the heat we postponed the attic cleaning for another day. Bob insisted on going up in the attic for a few minutes just to count how many boxes we had and came down with a small brown unmarked taped box.

He asked what this was that was sitting alone in the corner of the attic and I had no clue. I have to tell you, it felt like Christmas morning opening this box with the excitement of a surprise.

Once I opened it, I found some of my mother’s dishes.

A dish I loved as a little girl, a combination snack plate & cup “cherry” dish. This brought back a flood of memories for me. My mother and I had many breakfasts on the back patio with these dishes. I always thought they were so fancy when I was a child.

They are fine china from Japan, part of the Toscany Collection and the pattern name is “Marischino”.

They are now considered vintage! 

How old am I?

Photo Jul 23, 11 33 12 AM CUP AND SAUCER

I am the youngest of three daughters and there was a 14 & 11 year age gap between me and my sisters. When my sisters were in school, I was still home with mom.

My mother would make wonderful muffins and pound cakes and she used these dishes for us to have breakfast on the back patio with her baked goods.

That was a real treat not having the usual cereal, oatmeal or eggs.

We would go out early morning once my sisters left for school and just enjoyed nature and listening to the birds chirping. The time of day when the rest of the world is still asleep and the dew is still on the grass.

I wanted to use these dishes right away and since I just bought the most delicious cherries in Whole Foods, this was meant to be. I don’t have any of my mother’s baked goods recipes but I do know how to make a cherry crostata and that is fairly easy so I was off.

I always keep an extra store bought pie dough in the refrigerator whenever I want a crostata or if I get unexpected company and I need something quick, so I was well prepared. I pitted the cherries and started the baking.

Photo Jul 23, 12 50 27 PM CROSTATA

I decided to make some cherry crumb muffins while I was at it and serve it with Morello cherry preserves.

Photo Jul 23, 11 25 50 AM MUFFINS

(Both recipes can be found at the end of this post).

While the crostata and muffins were baking I carefully washed each plate and cup and then set a quick simple table.

I would have had breakfast on the patio like mom and I did back in the day, but Bob would never be able to handle the heat even for a short period of time. Even the patio umbrella wouldn’t have helped him. I love hot weather but my honey needs air conditioning, so we had breakfast indoors.

I used a sage green and white woven tablecloth with matching napkins. I love this particular tablecloth and napkin set because the pattern is reversible and I get a lot of use out of it.

(Both sides shown below.)

Photo Jul 23, 11 30 04 AM REVERSIBLE TABLE CLOTH

I wanted to highlight the dishes a little more and I didn’t quite have the right color placemat so I went with a glass charger instead. The charger has a little beaded design around the rim which adds a little sparkle to the table and still lets you focus on the plate.

Photo Jul 23, 11 34 40 AM CHARGER

The flatware is white with silver threads running through it, very simple. This will match my tray and coffee accessories.

Photo Jul 23, 11 28 18 AM (1) FLATWARE

I decided to put the coffee pot, creamer and sugar bowl on a separate tray. 

Having everything on the tray looks nice and neat.

I have had this silver tray with white handles and matching coffee pot and accessories for 30 years since I got married. It has seen a lot of tablescapes.

Photo Jul 23, 2 01 30 PM TRAY

No breakfast table is complete without flowers, so I added some white heather to a new vase I just bought.

I keep a box in my garage cabinet of all artificial flowers that I use for my tablescapes and this bunch was just right. 

This vase is my new Homegoods find that I am in love with. A vase from Italy for $7.99. I loved the pattern the minute I saw it and it was perfect because I incorporate the color green in a lot of my tables.

The only downfall is that it is very thin (that is what you get for $7.99), so you have to be extra careful with it.

Photo Jul 23, 11 26 48 AM VASE

 In addition to my floral centerpiece, I thought a bowl with fresh cherries would look lovely as an addition to the table.

Instead of a fruit bowl, I thought of something else I could use. I received this 1 qt. enamelware colander for Christmas last year and thought of it immediately because it has a cherry design.

Photo Jul 23, 11 17 20 AM COLANDER

This colander is wonderful because it comes with a drain plate so you can leave your washed fruit on the table.

Photo Jul 23, 1 19 21 PM TRAY WITH CHERRIES 2

It is part of the Barbara Gullett collection for the company Golden Rabbit.

Photo Jul 23, 1 17 20 PM COLANDER WITH CHERRIES

In addition to the cherry design, it comes in blackberry, herbs, lettuce, radish and strawberry.

I know I sound like an ad for the company but I am not being paid by them, I just love this product. While I am at it, even the box is beautiful if you give it as a gift. Okay, I’m done.

Photo Jul 23, 1 01 09 PM GIFT BOX

If you have a similar decorative colander and don’t want to use it to serve fresh fruit on your table, use it for a floral arrangement. Colanders looks nice in the summer filled with sunflowers or daisies.

Breakfast was delicious and Bob loved having cake for breakfast. I felt like I was a little girl back in time, having breakfast with mom.

I hope you enjoyed discovering along with me, one of my buried treasures from my mother. 

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well, 

Diane

Photo Jul 23, 12 51 54 PM CLOSE

Cherry Crostata

Ingredients:

  • Prepared pastry dough (uncooked), enough for a 9-inch pie pan
  • 1 lb. of cherries (stems and pits removed)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • ½ tsp. orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 whole egg, beaten OR 2 tbsp. orange marmalade (with 1 tsp. water)
  • 1 tbsp. turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
  •  
  • Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, add the cherries, orange juice, zest, cornstarch, sugar and a pinch of salt, and mix thoroughly to combine.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to a 10-inch circle, about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cooks Note: sprinkle a layer of very fine breadcrumbs on the dough before you add the cherry mixture. This will prevent the bottom of the crostata from getting soggy from any of the cherry juice.

Pour cherry mixture into the middle of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the edges of the dough over the fruit to enclose and make a 2-inch crust all the way around the crostata. Fan the edge as you go around folding the dough.

In a small bowl, mix together the marmalade and water. Brush the marmalade mixture onto the 2-inch crust. Sprinkle crust with turbinado sugar.

Place the pat of butter on top of the fruit mixture. 

Bake crostata until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is tender, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool at least 15 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature with your favorite ice cream 

Cooks Note: Use store-bought frozen and thawed cherries for a shortcut!

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For those of you who prefer a homemade pie crust, this is the recipe that I use…

Basic Pie Crust by Martha Stewart

YIELD: ONE 9-INCH CRUST

Ingredients:  

  • 1- 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, briefly pulse flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Don’t over mix.
  2. Turn dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over dough; press to shape into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).
  3. On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll dough to a 14-inch round with a floured rolling pin. Wrap dough around rolling pin, discarding paper; unroll over a 9-inch pie plate (opposite). Gently fit into bottom and up sides of plate (do not stretch dough).
  4. Using kitchen shears, trim dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fold under itself to form a rim and press to seal. Using thumb and forefinger, crimp rim of crust. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 day.

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Cherry Crumb Muffins…

Adapted from a blueberry crumb recipe for the website  KITCHEN GENIUS.

35 minutes  – yields 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line or butter muffin tin.
  2. To make topping: put flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl and toss together. Add in the cold butter bits, and toss to coat, then use your fingers to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you have irregularly shaped crumbs. Set aside the mix in the refrigerator while you prepare the batter.
  3. For the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the brown sugar.
  4. In another bowl, whisk the melted butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla together until well combined.
  5. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, and fold together quickly to blend. Fold in the cherries. The batter will be lumpy.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups, sprinkle some topping over each muffin, and use your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin.

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Enjoy!

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Also, continue to send me your comments and emails, 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 …

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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.) 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

Roses…Sweet and Savory

Photo Dec 03, 2 09 55 AM SWEET AND SAVORY

(Click PHOTO to enlarge and then back arrow to return to original size).

Hi Everyone,

Well, I am back from my mini vacation visiting my son in upstate NY. In between going out and about on my visit, I spent my time cooking my son’s favorite foods along with a Thanksgiving dinner.

His refrigerator and freezer are stocked and now I am a happy mom.

He doesn’t have time to cook for himself with his work schedule and I feel better knowing that he is eating a home cooked meal instead of fast food.

While upstate, I had to visit my favorite grocery store, Wegmans. You all know by now that I just love that store. I am waiting for the day that they build one where I live.

Bob calls it Diane’s Disney for good reason. (I even went during snow flurries. Nothing was going to stop me.)

Anyway, we bought the most delicious (& huge) apples in Wegmans. On the way home, Bob asked if I wouldn’t mind making a dessert with them even though I had been cooking all week. So in the car, (I had eight hours to think driving home) I was trying to think of something to make with the apples. The usual apple pie and apple turnovers came to mind and then I thought about apple roses. They look beautiful and can be served warm with vanilla ice cream.

I always have puff pastry in the house and I had the other ingredients as well, so apple roses it is.

I had this recipe for a long time. I copied it from a post in Pinterest and I really don’t remember the original site I was on to tell you.

In addition, I have the perfect apple shaped dishes to serve them on.

I bought the apple dishes in Sur La Table when I went in to shop for a cast iron pan and found the dishes instead, along with an apple platter.

Here is a pic of my apple roses. They are Huge!

I told you the apples were big. Normally, I would serve 2, but with this size I chose to serve only one per plate. (Recipe will be at the end of the post.)

Photo Dec 03, 2 00 41 AM APPLE -CLOSE

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

Since I was making a sweet “rose”, I decided I should make a savory rose and complete the meal. I had the perfect entree in mind too.

On our last trip to Boston, Bob and I ate in a great restaurant in the North End of Boston on the Freedom Trail called “Restaurante Limoncello” and I highly recommend it. I loved everything about this restaurant.

I had the best mussels and clams Calabrese style (spicy) appetizer I ever had. No other restaurant ever came close to the taste of that dish.

On the menu, their signature dish was “Rosette Limoncello”,  rosette means rose. Pasta roses? I had to order it and a beautiful plate of pasta shaped like roses in a cream sauce filled with ham and fontina cheese came to the table-  just delicious.

One day while browsing the “Chowhound” website, there was an article by “farmersdaughter” about pasta roses using the renowned Italian cookbook author, Marcella Hazan’s recipe. I finally had my recipe.

All in all they didn’t look too difficult. Much easier than I had imagined, but time consuming. Of course I had to make a little tweak. Her recipe calls for ham and Fontina cheese; I made mine with prosciutto and Asiago cheese. A combination that Bob and I like a little better.

The roses make a beautiful presentation for a primo piatto (first course) for a dinner party or the holidays.

Two or three roses with some basil for a garnish and you are done.

Here is the pic of my Rosette di Pasta (Recipe at the end of the post)

Photo Dec 02, 7 14 00 PM CLOSE UP

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

I hope you try either of these recipes and add them to your holiday menu.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

********************** 

RECIPES

Apple Roses

Photo Dec 03, 2 00 06 AM APPLE ROSES

serves 6

Ingredients:

2 apples (pink lady, braeburn, or honeycrisp)
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
Flour, for dusting
3 tablespoons apricot or strawberry preserves
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a standard muffin tin.

Core the apples and slice in half. Using a very sharp knife or mandolin on the second setting, slice paper thin 1/8-inch slices and immediately sprinkle and toss in lemon juice prevent browning.

Toss in the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Microwave the slices for 45 seconds, or until soft and pliable enough to mold.

Place the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into a 9 by 12-inch rectangle. Cut six 2-inch wide strips of dough.

In a small bowl, combine the preserves with 2 tablespoons of water. Microwave for 30 seconds if it was refrigerated. Spread evenly over each strip of dough.

Arrange about 10 apple slices lengthwise in a straight line, overlapping slightly, on a strip of dough.

Fold up the bottom part of the dough and begin tightly rolling the dough to form the rose shape. Press the edge to seal. Repeat for all the pies and place in the muffin tin.

Make ahead: at this point the unbaked assembled roses can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to 1 day before baking as directed.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Pastries are best served the day they are baked but can be stored in an airtight container and rewarmed in a 300°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until warmed through and flaky again.

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

Pasta Roses

Photo Dec 02, 7 14 00 PM ROSES 2

Recipe for Roselline di Pasta alla Romagnola (Pasta Roses with Ham and Fontina) from the Chowhound article…

Serves 6

Ingredients:

about 1 pound fresh pasta sheets, cut about 4″ wide and 10″ long
salt
4 T unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 T tomato paste
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1 1/2 lbs boiled, unsmoked ham, sliced very thin
1 pound fontina, shredded
about 3 T grated parmigiano-reggiano

Cook the pasta strips 2 or 3 at a time in boiling salted water for a few seconds, then remove from the water with a spider and shock in ice water. Rinse each pasta strip well in cold water and rub together to remove as much starch as possible—as Marcella says, “as if you are doing a fine laundry.” Lay the strips out on the counter on a towel and repeat with the remaining strips.

Preheat the oven to 450. Put butter and cream in a small saucepan and heat to medium and reduce the cream a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and the nutmeg and whisk lightly to dissolve the tomato paste, continuing to cook to thicken the sauce to about buttermilk consistency, about another 5 minutes. Spread a thin layer of the sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 pan.

On each pasta strip, place a single layer of sliced ham and then cover with a layer of cheese. My ham slices were exactly 4″ wide so no trimming was necessary, but the ham should fit the slice without overlapping it on the sides. Roll up the pasta like a jelly roll and place seam-side down on the towel while you do the other rolls. After you have done all the rolls, cut them in half so they are about 2″ thick. Then with a paring knife on one side of each ring, make an “X” about 1/2″ deep. This will help the roses “bloom.” (Mine didn’t bloom as much as I wanted, but they still looked very pretty.)

Put the roses in the baking dish with the cross cuts face up and distribute the remaining sauce over them with a pastry brush. Press down a bit on the roses to help them open slightly. Sprinkle with the parmigiano-reggiano and bake for about 15 minutes, until a light crust forms on top. Let them sit for about 5 minutes before serving. (Everything but the baking can be done in advance, just make sure that if you make it ahead and refrigerate it that it’s at room temperature before you put it in the oven.)

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

Give these recipes a try and let me know what you think.

Photo Dec 03, 2 09 55 AM SWEET AND SAVORY

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.

 

 

Lemon Ricotta Cake with Amarena Cherries

Photo Oct 14, 5 20 38 PM LEMON RICOTTA CAKE WITH AMARENA

(Click PHOTO to enlarge and then back arrow to return to original size).

Hi everyone,

Well, here is another recipe to share, Lemon Ricotta Cake.

Recently, Bob and I went to Eataly, NYC to shop and we fit in some time for pistachio gelato too (my favorite flavor).

For those of you who are not familiar with Eataly, it is a 50,000 square foot Italian Market in NYC that has just about everything you could possibly imagine. Fresh pasta, fresh bread, butcher shop, cafes, sit down restaurants and a cooking school. The list goes on and on. It is owned by celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich.

While I was there I spotted a jar of Amarena cherries which are basically the Italian version of a maraschino cherry. I don’t really know how to describe them. They are small but very sweet and intense and come in a sweet syrup that you can put in a cocktail or club soda.

When I was a child my grandmother would serve these cherries over ice cream or she would make the most heavenly cookies with them. The cookies were a combination of the cherries mixed with cocoa powder covered in a sugar glaze. (Unfortunately, I don’t have the recipe for the cookies).

The cherries come in a beautiful blue and white jar ceramic jar. As soon as I saw the jar, I had a memory of grandma and I just had to buy them.

Photo Oct 15, 3 11 47 AM AMARENA CHERRIES

When I got home, I tried to find an Amarena cookie recipe like grandmas, but I wasn’t lucky enough to find one. 

However, I did come across this recipe for Lemon Ricotta Cake from one of my favorite Italian chefs, Deborah Mele, of Italian Food Forever and thought this lemon ricotta cake would be perfect to go along with the cherries.

You know that I am not the baker, but this recipe was no fuss and easy to put together and it was lemon, another favorite flavor of mine. So I started to bake. 

Bob and I loved the cake and the cherries were just perfect. I put the photo on DishingwithDiane instagram and immediately received requests for the recipe, so here it is.

It doesn’t have to be topped with Amarena cherries, whipped cream or strawberries; even plain, the cake is delicious.

Try it and enjoy. 

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

LEMON RICOTTA CAKE

A simple lemon flavored cake that includes ricotta cheese, keeping the cake ver moist.

ingredients:

  • 3/4 Cup Softened Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • Zest From 3 Large Lemons
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Extract
  • 3 Large Eggs, Separated
  • 1 Cup Full Fat Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • Dash of Salt

To Serve:

  • Fresh Strawberries or in this case, Amarena cherries

directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease and flour a 7 or 8 inch spring-form pan.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the lemon zest, extract, egg yolks and ricotta cheese and beat until smooth.
  5. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt, and beat into the butter mixture just until combined.
  6. Wash your beaters well, and then beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff.
  7. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter then spoon the batter into your prepared tin.
  8. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a cake tester stuck into the center comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

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

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.

Good-bye Summer 2017

Photo Sep 20, 7 16 17 PM INTRO

(Click PHOTO to enlarge and then back arrow to return to original size).

Hi Everyone, 

I know many of you consider Labor Day as the last day of summer, but not me. I want to hold on to this season to the very end and strictly go by the calendar.

This year Autumn starts on Friday, September 22, 2017, so I am holding on.

The nights have been getting cooler with a subtle reminder that my favorite season is saying good-bye; so to pay tribute to summer, I decided to post one more summer tablescape.

As you all know by now, I just love the beach and it is a big part of the summer season for me. The sand, sound of the waves and the peaceful feeling the beach brings. Maybe because I live on an island but the beach is definitely my happy place.

I was trying to think of a theme for this end of summer tablescape, and then I read a newspaper article that some of the local waterfront restaurants here on the island with private beaches, are planting palm trees to enhance the tropical island atmosphere of their restaurants. 

Well, I just found my theme to say good-bye to summer- palm trees. And I have the perfect set of dishes for this theme.

***********

So lets get started…

The tablecloth…. I am using a tan, sage green, cocoa brown and beige tablecloth embossed with palm trees. I like the muted colors because I have candlesticks that blend perfectly with this tablecloth.

Photo Sep 18, 3 48 10 PM TABLECLOTH

I used outdoor placemats that I bought for the patio table that are made out of PVC covered jute netting. You have probably seen similar placemats, they look like rubber. I bought the placemat in the shape of a palm tree frond.  

(FYI- the material used for this placemat is top rack dishwasher safe.)

Photo Sep 19, 11 25 04 AM PLACEMAT

Along with the frond placemat, I am using my a brown rattan chargers once again. I get the most use out of these chargers.

Photo Sep 18, 3 19 40 PM - RATTAN CHARGER WITH FRAME

The set of “palm tree” dishes was a birthday gift from a friend a few years back and I only had the opportunity to use them once last summer. So I decided to use them for this post and I hope my friend enjoys seeing her gift on the blog.

The dinner plates and salad plates have the same design. A beige background bordered in sage green and a cocoa brown around the rim with two palm trees in the center, also in sage green and cocoa brown.

Photo Sep 19, 3 50 43 PM SALAD AND DINNER

The complete set comes with dinner plates, salad plates, bowls and mugs.

Photo Sep 19, 2 48 36 PM COMPLETE SET

I think the dishes match the tablecloth perfectly.

The napkins are 20″ x 20″ over sized cotton napkins with a tropical leaf pattern along with the cutest gold palm tree napkin rings that I picked up from a great store in Florida that specializes in coastal home accents.

Photo Sep 18, 5 18 30 PM - BANANA LEAF NAPKIN

The glassware are acrylic highball glasses featuring sage green and cocoa brown palm trees with a cocoa brown rim on the top of the glass and a cross hatch pattern on the bottom of the glass.

Photo Sep 18, 2 55 23 PM - PALM TREE GLASS

 The flatware is bamboo. I love using this set for my summer tablescapes.

Photo Sep 18, 2 56 46 PM BAMBOO CUTLERY - 1

As I mentioned before, I have the perfect candlesticks for this tablescape. They are  polyresin palm trees in shades of olive green and brown along with off white pillar candles.

Photo Sep 19, 11 49 06 AM CANDLESTICKS

I told Bob that I was planning on a “palm tree” tablescape and my honey went out and bought me a tabletop palm tree. It’s perfect and I love it; and it is the new centerpiece.

Photo Sep 19, 2 45 48 PM PALM

Complete centerpiece with candlesticks.

Photo Sep 19, 2 44 51 PM CENTERPIECE

My addiction and love for salt and pepper shakers continues and I found the cutest set of palm tree salt & pepper shakers on Amazon that look like the palm trees on the dishes.

Photo Sep 18, 3 48 22 PM PALM TREE SALT AND PEPPER

I added an additional table accent, imitation succulents wrapped in burlap. I am sure with my NOT so green thumb, I could kill a real succulent in record breaking time so I am sticking to artificial.

Photo Sep 19, 11 48 09 AM SUCCULENT 2

I thought an Acacia wooden bowl filled with tropical fruits such as pineapples, mangoes, kiwi, bananas, and starfruit; would be a nice touch for the table as well. 

Photo Sep 18, 3 47 52 PM FRUITBOWL 2

 So to say good-bye to summer, I just had to plan a meal to go along with the tropical feel as a send off to my favorite season, so I chose sticky pineapple chicken served in a pineapple boat with coconut rice and a tropical fruit salad.

Photo Sep 18, 8 41 53 PM PINEAPPLE CHICKEN

My dessert choice was Ambrosia & cinnamon sugar sand dollar cookies.

Photo Sep 20, 5 51 17 PM AMBROSIA

(All recipes at the end of the post)

Well, unfortunately for me, the time has finally come to say good-bye to Summer. See you in 273 days when Summer starts again on June 21, 2018. I am starting to count down already.

Wouldn’t you know, the rest of this week we are supposed to have weather like a hot Summer day. Temperature in the 80’s. 

Thank you Summer for one last hurrah! Now I feel a little better.

Although, I still think I need some pumpkin ice cream and an apple cider donut right about now to ease my pain for Fall arriving tomorrow…

See you in the Fall…

I hope you try some of the recipes on today’s blog and enjoy.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Photo Sep 20, 7 15 13 PM GOOD-BYE BUFFET

Place Setting

Photo Sep 20, 7 10 30 PM PLACE SETTING

Table Details

Palm tree tablecloth from Christmas Tree Shops

Tropical leaf placemats from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Brown rattan chargers from Sur La Table

Palm tree dishes from a friend as a birthday gift

Tropical leaf napkins from Amazon

Gold palm tree napkin rings from Wilford and Lee

Palm tree acrylic glasses from Homegoods

Bamboo flatware from Amazon

 Palm tree candlesticks from Amazon

Tabletop palm tree from my honey

Candles from Michael’s Arts & Crafts

Acacia wooden fruit bowl from Homegoods

Palm tree salt & pepper shakers from Amazon

 Succulents in burlap from Amazon

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

RECIPES

Photo Sep 18, 8 41 59 PM CLOSE UP CHICKEN

Sticky Pineapple Chicken

 (justataste.com)

Ingredients:

 1/2 cup pineapple juice

 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce

 1/3 cup low sodium chicken stock

 1/3 cup hoisin sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic

 2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 Tablespoon olive oil

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup diced pineapple

 1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews (optional)

Rice for serving

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the pineapple juice, soy sauce, chicken stock, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, garlic and cornstarch.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the mixture has reduced to about 1 cup and is the consistency of thick syrup. Set the sauce aside.
  3. Add the olive oil to a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and season it with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken, stirring, until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain off any liquids then add the sauce to the pan and stir until combined.
  4. Add the pineapple and cashews and cook, stirring, for an additional 1 minute.
  5. Serve the chicken atop a bed of rice.

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Coconut Rice

 (Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1- 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1- 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, combine coconut milk, water, sugar, and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in rice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 18 to 20 minutes, until rice is tender.

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Photo Sep 20, 6 35 30 PM AMBROSIA CLOSE UP

 Ambrosia

(thecountrycook.net)

Ingredients:
  • 1 8 oz tub of whipped topping thawed
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1- 20 oz can pineapple tidbits drained well
  • 1- 15 oz can mandarin orange segments drained well
  • 1 cup red or green seedless grapes sliced in half
  • 1- 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1- 1/2 cups mini marshmallows – (see note)
  • 1- 10 oz jar of maraschino cherry halves drained very well
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Instructions:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine whipped topping and sour cream.
  2. Add in coconut flakes and marshmallows.
  3. Then gently fold in pineapple, mandarin oranges, grapes and maraschino cherries and nuts (if using).
  4. Once combined, put some plastic wrap on it or put it in a bowl with a lid and refrigerate for about an hour before serving.

COOKS NOTE: You can make this dessert look more festive if you can find the multi-colored mini marshmallows.

 

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Photo Sep 20, 5 48 24 PM SAND DOLLAR COOKIES

Cinnamon Sugar Sand Dollar Cookies

(sally’s baking addiction)

yield: 2 DOZEN COOKIES

Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Topping:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Get it nice and smooth, then add the sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 different parts. The dough is quite thick and you may have to stir the rest by hand.
  3. Scoop a large section of dough (about 1 Tablespoon of dough each) and roll into balls. Make sure the balls are taller, rather than wide.
  4. Make the topping:   Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Roll each dough ball into the cinnamon sugar. Press 5 sliced almonds onto the tops of each dough ball, as pictured above. Chill the balls of dough for at least 2 hours and up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. This step will prevent spreading in the oven.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Arrange cookies 3 inches apart on baking sheets.
  6. Bake chilled cookie dough for 10 minutes. The cookies will appear undone and very soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes and move to wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Cookies stay soft & fresh for up to 1 week at room temperature. Cookies freeze well. Cookies may be rolled into balls and frozen up to 3 months to bake at a later date. Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

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palm-trees-beach- thetreecenter - blog

photo courtesy of thetreecenter.com

 

Peach & Plum Crostata

 

Photo Sep 02, 1 52 19 AM PEACH AND PLUM CROSTATA

(Click PHOTO to enlarge and then back arrow to return to original size).

Hi Everyone,

Happy Labor Day weekend!

This morning at 3 am I couldn’t sleep so I decided to get up and bake!

Yes, me the person that never bakes. We had some peaches and plums and I always keep an “emergency” prepared pie crust in the house; so I decided to make a crostata.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with a crostata, it is an Italian baked tart. Also know as a galette in France.

This is the type of baking I can do; quick, easy and always delicious.

The perfect breakfast with a cup of coffee or tea.

Once again, I posted the picture to Dishing With Diane Instagram page and requests for the recipe started to pop up.

So the recipe is printed below along with a recipe for homemade pie crust if you don’t like store bought and a photo of another crostata I made with cherries.

Enjoy the weekend…

Peach and Plum Crostata

Ingredients:

  • Prepared pastry dough (uncooked), enough for a 9-inch pie pan
  • 3 large peaches, thinly sliced
  • 2 plums, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 whole egg, beaten OR 1 tbsp. apricot jam* with 1 tsp. water
  • Sugar in the raw

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Set the uncooked pie dough onto the baking sheet.
  • In a bowl, gently mix peaches, plums sugar, and flour together. Pour fruit mixture into the center of the pastry round, leaving about 2 1/2 inches around the edge.
  • Fold up the edge of the pastry dough over the filling to make a rim. Fan the edge as you go around folding the dough.
  • Brush pastry with the beaten egg OR the jam & water and sprinkle edges with sugar in the raw.
  • Place the pat of butter on top of the fruit mixture. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.
  • Cool the crostata on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature with your favorite ice cream.
  • COOKS NOTES:
  • I used Stonewall Kitchen Bellini jam* for this crostata instead of the egg or apricot jam. 

Photo Sep 02, 7 34 53 PM BELLINI JAMYou can change the fruit as you like.

I also made a cherry crostata with this recipe.

Photo Jul 28, 6 31 08 AM.jpg CHERRY AND PEACH CROSTATA

For those of you who prefer a homemade pie crust, this is the recipe that I use…

Basic Pie Crust by Martha Stewart

  • YIELD: ONE 9-INCH CRUST

Ingredients:  

  • 1- 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, briefly pulse flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Don’t over mix.
  2. Turn dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over dough; press to shape into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).
  3. On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll dough to a 14-inch round with a floured rolling pin. Wrap dough around rolling pin, discarding paper; unroll over a 9-inch pie plate (opposite). Gently fit into bottom and up sides of plate (do not stretch dough).
  4. Using kitchen shears, trim dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fold under itself to form a rim, and press to seal. Using thumb and forefinger, crimp rim of crust. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 day.

COOK’S NOTES

To freeze: Wrap in plastic and foil; freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator.

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

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