Eggplant Parmesan Avellino Style – Melanzane alla Parmigiana di Avellino

“When you cut that eggplant up and you roast it in the oven and you make the tomato sauce and you put it on top, your soul is in that food, and there’s something about that that can never be made by a company that has three million employees.” ~ Mario Batali

Melanzane alla Parmigiana

My husband and I have been travelling in Italy for the last few weeks.  We went to Avellino, Italy to see the birthplace of my husband’s great grandfather.  While we were there, we had a delicious lunch at Patri Salumeria near the Duomo.  The special of the day was eggplant parmigiana.  I knew with the first bite that this dish was not made the way we make it in the USA. With the help of Google translate, I learned from Annalise, the owner, how to make this amazing dish.

Eggplant parmigiana

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Angel Food Cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream

“Let your life be like Angel Food Cake…sweet and light.” ~Anonymous

Angel Food Cake Filled with Chocolate Whipped Cream

I think that Angel Food cake should be in everyone’s repertoire because it is so versatile.  You can eat it plain, served with fruit, torn into pieces for a trifle or grilled for a delicious change of pace.

This recipe was one of my father’s favorites.  Every year he requested it for his birthday.  It also became my niece’s favorite birthday cake.

The best thing about making this cake from scratch is the ability to control the sweetness.  Cake mixes are too sweet besides having preservatives in them.  Try this angel food cake and see how easy it is to prepare.

Angel Food cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream

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Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake

“Just a few of the perfect excuses for having some strawberry shortcake.
Pick one.

(1) It’s less calories than two pieces of strawberry shortcake.
(2) It’s cheaper than going to France.
(3) It neutralizes the brownies I had yesterday.
(4) Life is short.
(5) It’s somebody’s birthday. I don’t want them to celebrate alone.
(6) It matches my eyes.
(7) Whoever said, “Let them eat cake.” must have been talking to me.
(8) To punish myself for eating dessert yesterday.
(9) Compensation for all the time I spend in the shower not eating.
(10) Strawberry shortcake is evil. I must help rid the world of it.
(11) I’m getting weak from eating all that healthy stuff.
(12) It’s the second anniversary of the night I ate plain broccoli.”

This is a random anonymous quote that I found on line about Strawberry Shortcake.

Rye Shortcakes with Roasted Strawberries and Rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of those wonderful things that grow in the spring of the year.  The brilliant red stalks have just begun to appear at farmers’ markets.  Notice that I referred to rhubarb as a thing.  Do you think rhubarb is a fruit or a vegetable?  Well, it is considered a vegetable in most parts of the world; however, in 1947 a New York court ruled that rhubarb was to be considered a fruit for duties and tariffs.  Interesting!!

Strawberries will be at their peak in New York state during the month of June. For this recipe, the berries came from California, and since they were not at the peak of flavor roasting them was a great option.

This recipe came from Food 52 so the unique flavor combinations were to be expected. The pairing of fruit with the rye shortcakes was delicious.

roasted strawberry and rhubarb rye shortcakes

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Cream of Mushroom Soup

 

“Good manners: The noise you don’t make when you’re eating soup.” ~Bennett Cerf

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

I have been on a quest to cook with foods that are not processed or refined.  Also, I am attempting to eliminate genetically-modified organisms (GMO’s) from my diet and any of the foods on the dirty dozen list.  Therefore, I am buying organic fruits and vegetables on this list, or I am not buying them at all.

My husband loves chicken baked with cream of mushroom soup.  I have been making it since we were first married.  I didn’t want to  use canned soup, so I decided to make the soup, enjoy it for lunch, and then use the remainder for the sauce over the chicken.

I used Ina Garten’s recipe from the Food network.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

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Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

“Forget art.  Put your trust in ice cream.” ~ Charles Baxter

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches

My son-in-law recently celebrated a birthday.  His favorite dessert is a chocolate chip cookie. My daughter and I have created many different desserts using this cookie as a base. One year we made 6” wide cookies.  We stacked them, with icing between each cookie, until we had a tall cylindrical cake.  We wrapped the cake with fondant and continued to create a golf bag. It turned out amazingly well.

This year his fellow firefighters wanted to make ice cream sandwiches to celebrate his birthday. So I decided to make a double chocolate chip cookie. To get an intense chocolate flavor, the dough was enhanced with espresso powder.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

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Challah French Toast Cupcakes

“I went to a restaurant that serves “breakfast at any time” so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.” ~ Steven Wright

Breakfast French Toast Cupcakes

If you follow my blog, you know that Sunday morning breakfasts are a real favorite of mine. I’m always looking for new ways to present old favorites.

I decided to cook the French toast in muffin pans which made a very nice presentation. If you are having a brunch party, this is a great way to create individual servings.

French Toast Cupcakes

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Sugar Steak with Bourbon

“Every year the Kentucky Derby is held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May. It’s a beautiful time of year to visit Louisville, and while the Kentucky Derby is the most exciting two minutes in sports, you’ll find way more than two minutes of entertainment when you attend the most popular thoroughbred horse race in the United States.” ~ Meg Massie

Bourbon and Brown Sugar Steak

This Saturday is the Kentucky Derby Race. Growing up near Saratoga, New York, where they have the oldest racetrack in the United States, provided me with the opportunity to become familiar with well known thoroughbreds.

I enjoy watching this race and observing all the regalia that surrounds it. Part of my fascination comes from my love of wide brimmed hats.  I adore them and wish that wearing hats was more in vogue.

Since Kentucky is synonymous with bourbon, recipes containing this ingredient are popular derby fare. This steak, marinated with bourbon, is from one of my favorite blog sites, Food 52.

Sugar steak with bourbon

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Carrots with Dried Cherry and Orange Vinaigrette

 

I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.” ~Mae West

Carrots in Cherry- Orange Vinaigrette

When I was shopping at the food co-op last week, I found rainbow carrots.  The yellow, orange and burgundy carrots were so appealing, and they seemed to be calling out to be eaten.  Of course they ended up in the cart.

A little research uncovered some interesting facts about this well-known vegetable.

  • Multi-colored carrots were cultivated long before the orange carrot.  The Dutch developed the orange carrot in the 16th century.
  • The following antioxidants give carrots their color:

                Beta-carotene – gives carrots their orange color
                Anthocyanin – gives carrots their purple color
                Lycopene – gives carrots their red color

  • Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.

These carrots were so special that they needed to be dressed up.  I was inspired by a recipe in The Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen.

Carrots with Cherry Orange Vinaigrette

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Neapolitan Ricotta Easter Cake

“Promises and pie crust are made to be broken.” Jonathan Swift

Pastiera Napoletana

My husband’s grandparents were born in Scafati and Casalnuovo di Napoli, Italy. His grandmother immigrated to the United States when she was 16, and his grandfather was 23 years of age. I wonder if, at such a young age, I would have had the courage to leave behind everything I knew.

Here are some photos of Rose and Pasquale.

Rose Contaldi

This is Rose in 1910 at age 18.

Rose and Pasquale and familyThis is Rose and Pasquale with their six children in 1924.

Since Rose and Pasquale grew up near Naples, when I found this recipe for an Easter Neapolitan cake, I was eager to try it.

Neapolitan Ricotta cake

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Fresh Scallop Tartlets

“Scallops are expensive, so they should be treated with some class. But then, I suppose that every creature that gives his life for our table should be treated with class.” ~ Jeff Smith (The Frugal Gourmet)

Scallop Tartlets with Mixed Greens

My husband and I enjoy seafood very much, and we are fortunate to have a great seafood market that has a large selection of fresh fish.

Here are some tips that will help you buy the freshest fish available.

If you are buying a whole fish:

  • Check the eyes. The eyes should be clear and bright. If they are cloudy or a dull gray color, the fish is not fresh.
  • Check for an odor. Fresh fish should smell clean with no more than a slight briny smell. If there is an obnoxious odor, move on.
  • Check the gills. They should be bright red.
  • Look at the skin. The skin should be shiny, metallic and clean rather than dull.

If you are buying fillets:

  • Fillets should also smell clean. Just like whole fish, if there is a foul odor, the fish is not fresh.
  • Check the skin. It should be shiny and metallic just like it is on a whole fish.
  • If there is any liquid around the fillets, it should be clear rather than milky.

For this scallop tartlet, be sure to buy “dry” scallops. Dry scallops have never been packed in brine.

Fresh Scallop Tartlet

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