Tag Archives: baked

Zucchini Fries/Sticks

No matter what you call them; zucchini fries or zucchini sticks these are out of the garden, baked and so good!
image1 large/2 small zucchini
1 1/2 cups flour (I used gluten free chickpea flour)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 cups bread crumbs (I used gluten free)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon dried oregano

Place 2 cookie racks inside 2 separate baking sheets and lightly brush or spray with extra virgin olive or canola oil to coat.

In a medium bowl combine the flour and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
In another medium bowl beat the eggs.
In a medium/large bowl combine the cheese, bread crumbs and spices.
Cut the zucchini into roughly 3″ lengths and then into 1/4-1/3″ sticks.
Coat a handful of the zucchini sticks in the flour mixture (I usually just toss with my fingers) then coat in the beaten egg (I use a fork to flip and rotate around) and finally toss in the cheese and bread crumb mixture (I use a fork to flip and rotate around). Place the zucchini sticks on the prepared cookie racks making sure they are not touching. Continue this process until the racks in the pans are full. When the second pan is half full, preheat the oven to 450.

Bake the zucchini sticks for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brown. I served the sticks with ketchup and an avocado cut inside the skin and filled with salmon salad.


Vegan Baked Potatoes

IMG_1375extra virgin olive oil for pan
4 medium potatoes; skin on
3/4 cup red lentils
3 cups water
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion; quartered and sliced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
ketchup (optional)
nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Oil a cast iron skillet or small baking sheet. Scrub potatoes, cut in half and place cut side down on oiled pan. Place in preheated oven and bake until potatoes are soft (30-40 minutes depending on thickness)- test by gently pushing with the end of a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile prepare filling.
Cook red lentils till tender; place lentils in a sieve, rinse under running water, place in pot with water, bring to boil, reduce heat and gently simmer for 30 minutes.
While the lentils cook saute onions sprinkled with salt in extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Stir occasionally allowing onions to get golden to slightly browned on some pieces. Add the smoked paprika and black pepper, stir and reduce heat to low.
Drain the cooked lentils in the sieve, rinse with running water and drain all water. Add lentils to the onions, stir, bring to a simmer over medium high heat and remove from heat.

Flip the baked potato halves to cut side up. With a fork or spook break the cut side, now a crispy and golden brown crust, in several areas. Top each potato with a generous spoonful of the onion and lentil filling. Squeeze an optional dollop of ketchup on top of each and sprinkle with the optional nutritional yeast.

Thanksgiving Recipes



DINNER ROLLS or FRESH BAKED BREAD with cheese platter

SALAD GREENS served with
MAMMA’S HOUSE VINAIGRETTES  (red wine and balsamic)
1 clove garlic; crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup vinegar of choice or fresh pressed lemon juice
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix all ingredients together. Mix or shake before each use. Store at room temperature.

Per 1 lb of turkey

1 clove garlic; crushed
3/4 teaspoon oregano
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red wine (or more to achieve the paste consistency)

The night before roasting the turkey- Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and rinse inside and out then pat dry. Make a paste with the above ingredients. Rub the paste all over the turkey, inside and out, place in a basin/container, cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 300-325. An 8-12 lb turkey will take 2 ¾ to 3 hours to cook; plan accordingly. Place the turkey on a rack in a broiling pan and pour 1 cup water into the pan. **if making Rik’s gravy read the recipe below to put vegetables in the pan as well** Place a lid over the pan -or- loosely “tent” the turkey with aluminum foil. Do not baste the turkey and do not open the oven door. Remove the lid/foil for the last hour so the turkey browns. The meat thermometer should read 165°F when inserted in the breast meat it is good practice to double check the turkey timer. When the turkey is done remove from the oven and pan and place on the cutting board and cover with the foil for 20 minutes before carving.

Note- Grandma Pietri roasts the turkey without a rack, allowing it to sit in its own juices and keeps it covered the whole time. She bastes the turkey every couple of hours for the duration of the bake time. My brother Rik, cook extraordinaire, gave me the “rack don’t baste” recommendation.

neck and giblets (excluding liver) from the turkey
1 celery stalk; coarsely chopped
1 carrot; coarsely chopped
1 onion; pealed and quartered

3 tablespoons fat from oven-roasted turkey drippings
1 cup giblet broth/water
3 tablespoons all purpose flour (rice flour for gluten free)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt; more to taste
freshly ground black pepper

Place the giblets (minus the liver), celery, carrot and onion into the pan under the turkey with water to keep it from burning. After the turkey is finished baking strain the vegetables and poultry drippings through a sieve into a large (at least 4 cups) measuring cup. Deglaze the roasting pan with 1 cup broth/water, stirring until the crusty brown bits are loosened and pour the liquid through the sieve with the other pan drippings. Over medium heat, spoon 3 tablespoons fat from the poultry drippings (floats to the top of the measuring cup) into a 2-quart saucepan. Whisk flour and sea salt into the heated fat and continue to cook and stir until the flour turns golden brown. Meanwhile, skim and discard any fat remaining on top of the poultry drippings. Add the remaining broth and enough water to the poultry drippings to equal 3 1/2 cups. Gradually whisk in warm poultry drippings and broth mixture. Cook and stir until the gravy simmers and is slightly thick. Season with more salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

1 lb sliced firm white sandwich, French or Italian bread including crusts cut into 1/2″ pieces (*gluten free bread works great too)
4-8 Tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/4-1/2 cup fresh parsley; minced
1 teaspoon dried sage (1 Tablespoon fresh; minced)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (1Tablespoon fresh; minced)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3-1 cup stock (I use vegetarian so all can enjoy but the original recipe calls for chicken)
1-2 large eggs; well beaten

Preheat oven to 400, prepare bread, arrange on baking sheet in a single layer and toast until golden brown. Remove toasted bread cubes from oven and pour into a large bowl.

Preheat a large skillet to medium-low and sauté onions and celery in butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in herbs and spices. Pour over the bread cubes and stir to combine well. Add stock and egg a little at a time so the stuffing is moist but not packed together.

Turn mixture into a shallow butters baking dish and bake at 350 until the top has formed a crust and the stuffing is heated through, 25-40 minutes.

3 fresh sweet potatoes; pealed and boiled till tender
17 oz can apricot halves with syrup drained and reserved
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated orange peel (be sure to stub skin well and use organic if possible)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup pecan halves

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Slice cooked sweet potatoes into 3/4 “ thick rounds. Arrange sliced sweet potatoes in a buttered 10x6x3/4” pan in an even layer. Cook and simmer reserved syrup, brown sugar, cornstarch, orange peel, salt, and cinnamon for 3 minutes. Add the apricot halves and pecans and simmer for an additional 2 minutes. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes and bake for 25 minutes.

MASHED POTATOES (with skins if organic)
Scrub 8-10 organic potatoes (otherwise peel), place in a large pot, add water to just cover the potatoes and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sea salt. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a slow simmer. Cook till the potatoes are tender, almost falling apart (about 30 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes). Drain potatoes and return to pot, coarsely break apart and allow to cool slightly (this will help the potatoes to dehydrate so they can absorb butter and milk/cream). Add 6 tablespoons butter,  1/2 cup milk/cream, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. Turn heat to low and using a hand beater whip the potatoes with the butter and milk/cream and sugar till creamy. Add more milk/cream as needed for consistency. Season with more salt to taste.

Love garlic? Add crushed 1-2 cloves garlic to the pot or simply serve with garlic butter on the side.

1 cup wild rice; cooked
4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup onion; minced
1/4 cup carrots; minced
1/4 cup celery; minced
1/4-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
pinch-1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Bring water and wild rice to a boil, reduce heat and simmer till the grains split (you will see with seems) and are tender, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté the vegetables in butter on low heat till tender. Drain the water from the wild rice, add the sautéd vegetables and salt and pepper to taste. I have also tossed in cooked white or brown rice so it is more of a pilaf.

SWEDISH BRAISED RED CABBAGE (recipe from “Hemmets Kokbok”)
1 small head of red cabbage
1 onion; chopped
2 sour apples (granny smith); quartered and seeds removed
2 Tablespoons butter (or canola oil)
1 teaspoon sea salt
4-5 whole cloves
1 Tablespoon sugar (brown sugar or honey)
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
3/4 cup water

Remove outer leaves of red cabbage, cut in to quarters and remove the thick stem inside. Cut into think strips or chop into small chunks.sauté cabbage, onion and apples in canola oil. Add the salt, cloves, sweetener, vinegar and water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer over low heat with lid on until the cabbage is tender, about 1 hour. Stir occasionally and taste to adjust seasoning.

Fresh Orange Cranberry Relish
I believe this recipe was originally on an “Ocean Spray” package.

1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries; rinsed and picked through
1 orange; diced and seeded if needed
1 cup sugar

Process the above ingredients in a food processor at least 4 days and up to 2 weeks prior to Thanksgiving.

Plum Pizza

When summer plums were ripe my mother would make “plum pizza”- pizza dough topped with plums and drizzled with honey or sprinkled with sugar (she even used jam spread thin on top) to give a slight sweetness to the “pie”. It was very nostalgic for me to make this today and smell it baking.
1/2 cup white flour
1 package/ 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup warm water (slightly warmer than body temperature)
1 1/2-2 cups whole wheat (I use white whole wheat) flour
white flour to finish and to flour counter/board

6-8 plums depending on size of plums and pan
honey to drizzle (about 2 Tablespoons) OR sugar (brown or white, whatever your pleasure) to sprinkle (about 2 Tablespoons)

Mix 1/2 cup white flour, yeast and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add olive oil and warm water. Mix with a wooden spoon or dough hook and electric mixer. Continue mixing and add enough while wheat flour to make a firm dough that releases from the sides of the mixing bowl. If mixing by hand, get your hands in there and knead to form a ball. Cover dough with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled (about 1 hour).

Brush a 9 to 12 inch baking pan with sides (round, rectangular, square- whatever you have) with olive oil. Punch down dough that has doubled, knead and with a rolling pin roll into a circle or rectangle to fit pan and lay in the prepared pan.

Cut plums in half, remove pit and cut into thin wedges. Arrange wedges, tightly packed next to one another, on the dough leaving half an inch of dough all around. Drizzle with honey or sprinkle with sugar  (or spread lightly with jam). Let rise for 30-45 minutes (till the edge has doubled). After 20 minutes preheat oven to 400ºF with rack in the center of the oven.
DSC_0032Bake for 30 minutes till the edges begin to golden and the plums are soft and juicy. Remove from oven and let cool till easy to handle. Cut and remove from pan or remove from pan onto a cutting board and cut to serve.

Vegan Faked Beans (and Indian Inspired Fried Rice)

This stove-top version of baked beans came out of necessity during the summer months when having the oven on for 3-4 hours is not desirable. Hence the name, “Faked Beans”.
DSC_0015Here served with Indian inspired fried rice, fresh corn on the cob and massaged kale salad.

2 cups navy beans; soaked overnight, rinsed, simmered till soft and drained (or 3 1/2 cups canned)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion; minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 stalk celery; minced
1 carrot; minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup dark rum
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 turkish bay leaf
2 cups water

Over medium heat in a wide bottomed pot sauté onion with salt in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add celery and carrots, stir and sauté with lid on till tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, syrup, rum, pepper, bay leaf, prepared (or canned) beans, bay leaf and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer very gently for 2 hours. Check to be sure the beans don’t dry out, add more water as needed during the cooking time.

1 bunch kale
2 Tablespoons minced red onion
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch fresh ground black pepper
1 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Rinse kale, pat dry and tear the leaf part off of the thick center stem. Tear the kale into pieces no larger than 2×2 inches. Grab handfuls of the kale and massage– crunch in handfuls and rub between both palms to break up the cellulose and place in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients, toss and serve.

2 Tablespoons canola oil
1/4 onion; minced
1 stalk celery; minced
1 clove garlic; crushed
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon anise seed (or 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 cups cooked brown basmati rice

Preheat a large heavy bottom frying pan over medium heat. Add all ingredients except the rice and sauté stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes until the onions become soft and transparent. Add the rice, stir, cover, reduce heat to medium low and allow to heat for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Serve as a side

Baked Portobello Mushroom Caps with Garlic and Paprika

DSC_00014 portobello mushroom caps
2 cloves garlic; crushed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 onion; thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400. Rinse mushrooms and lay stem side down on a kitchen towel/paper towel to drain. Combine remaining ingredients except onions in a small bowl and set aside. Remove the stems from the mushroom caps by gently applying sideways pressure from one side then the opposite side. The stems should “pop” off. Save the stems to use for another meal/side dish (I am planning on chopping and sautéing with onions and adding an egg in the morning as a breakfast treat). Place the mushroom caps on a medium sized baking pan. Put a tablespoon full of the spice sauce in each cap and lightly spread around with back of spoon. Sprinkle the interior with the sliced onions. Bake for 15 minutes. If the caps are filled with “juice” take a knife and stab through to allow the water to drain but the bulk of the flavor stay in the cap.  I ate my cap on a bed of lettuce and with a homegrown heirloom tomato with rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes on the side. Xav had a monster sandwich on a homemade roll with lettuce, homegrown heirloom tomato and provolone cheese with a side of the rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes.
DSC_0003 DSC_0004

College Kitchen Questions

My “baby” will be moving into her first apartment this semester. She asked me for a few basics-

Soak beans for 8 hours, drain, rinse, drain again, add four times as much water as beans and a little salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook till tender. The time will depend on the type and size of the bean. After an hour, use a fork to fish out a bean and test. When the beans are tender drain off the cooking water and rinse. I normally soak the beans 24 hours before using so that I can let them cook while getting ready in the morning so they are ready when I come home to prepare dinner. Beans can also be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

The three magic vegetables for starting a soup are onion, carrot and celery. When I make soup I generally saute the vegetables in a bit of extra virgin olive oil and then add the spices, other ingredients (vegetables, legumes, rice) and water bring to a boil and simmer until whatever is added is done. Taste to decide how much salt and pepper to use.

Place egg(s) in a pot, cover with water, sprinkle with salt, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, set the timer, reduce heat to simmering and continue cooking. For soft boiled 3-5 minutes depending on the size; for hard boiled 9-11 minutes depending on the size. Drain, rinse with cold water till cool enough to peel.

*Boiling Scrub potatoes, place in a pot, cover with water, add a bit of salt, cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Test with a fork for tenderness. I have noticed that the heat needs to be reduced throughout the cooking time so keep an eye on it.
*Baking Preheat oven to 375. Scrub potatoes, place whole on a baking sheet, poke each one twice with a fork and bake until the skin is crispy and the potatoes soft, about one hour.
*Roasting Preheat oven to 400. Scrub potatoes, cut into desired size and shape, place in a bowl, toss with extra virgin olive oil to coat, pour in a single layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with sea salt (you can also sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper, paprika and other spices you like- experiment) place in oven and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Test with a fork.
*Fries I make fries like the roasting recipe. Cut the fries to the shape you want and some extra salt when they come out of the oven. Not only is this much healthier than frying potatoes in oil but the clean up and splatter pains are eliminated.
*Home Fries Preheat a skillet with a lid to medium low heat. Scrub potatoes and cut into one inch cubes. Add a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil to the pan (or you can do 50/50 oil and butter) add the potatoes, sprinkle with salt and fresh ground black pepper, cover and let cook until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. There are a lot of variations (onions, peppers, spices) so that is the basic recipe.

Soak rice for at least 1 hour. I usually let it soak while at work. Drain, rinse and drain again. When cooking soaked rice it requires less water. Normally, it is one part rice to two parts water with a bit of salt and/or oil. When soaking I have found that using one part rice to one and a half to three quarters water with a bit of salt and/or oil is good. Put it all in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cook with lid on until tender, about 20 minutes. I turn the heat to low for the last five minutes. To check if the rice is done carefully tip the pot. If water appears at the edge of the rice continue cooking until all of the water is absorbed.