Thursday, July 27, 2017

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Muffins w/ Lemon Sugar Topping

As if you needed another blueberry muffin recipe!

I recently did a cooking demo at a shop in my town for a Summer Entertaining Series.

I made blueberry ricotta crostini (recipe here) and had a TON of leftover blueberries and ricotta cheese.

I froze most of the berries by laying them out on a large sheet pan and leaving them uncovered in the freezer for 2 hours.

They will get hard like marbles.

Then just pop them in ziploc bags and you will have summer berries on hand anytime you like!

I saved some to make these delicious muffins.....a great way to use up the ricotta cheese.
They have a lemon sugar top which is also pretty fabulous.

It's a win win.

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Muffins w/ Lemon Sugar Tops:
(adapted from Honest Cooking)

3/4 cup whole milk fresh ricotta
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, 4 ounces, melted and cooled
1 1/3 cup sugar (1 cup for the batter, 1/3 cup for the topping)
grated zest of a lemon
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 & 1/3 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with baking spray or line with paper cups.

In a large bowl add the lemon zest to the sugar and rub together with your fingertips until well incorporated, it should look like wet sand. Remove 1/3 cup of the lemon sugar for the muffin topping.

Place the ricotta, eggs and vanilla in a medium size bowl, whisk together and stir in the melted butter.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the large bowl containing the lemon sugar.

Gently stir the ricotta mixture into the sugar/flour mixture, the batter will be very thick.

Gently fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups and evenly sprinkle the lemon sugar on muffin tops.

Place the muffins into the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted comes away clean.
Place on metal rack to cool.

These freeze nicely too!


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Oh Canada! Montreal Bites

A quick trip to Montreal is just what I needed!

Montreal is like taking a mini trip to France.

The language spoken here is French, all signs in French too, but don't worry, most everyone speaks English beautifully.

I forgot how much I loved this city.

The food scene is AMAZING as is the history and architecture.
The weather is much cooler than NY in the summer (with zero humidity!) and the people are warm. :)

Hospitality is #1 here. Everyone makes you feel welcome.


It is an easy walking city, no car needed, and public transportation is excellent.

We took a walk up to the top of Mont Royal to see the best views of the city, and then rewarded ourselves with delicious lunches and dinners.

This is sort of an instagram recap, so sorry if I am repeating myself.

For our first evening, we had a fabulous French meal close to our hotel at Holder, a traditional French brasserie.
Filled with locals after work, speaking French. They serve better brasserie food than in France (in my opinion), onion soup, salads, oysters, moules frites......and service was as good as the food!

The duck confit and endive salad was fantastic. Highly recommend.

As was the rustic lunch we had at Marche di Villette.

I liked the place better years ago, when it was an authentic butcher shop selling charcuterie, the son took it over and turned it more into a restaurant, but it was still great.

The Croque Monsieur and Salade Nicoise were delicious and fresh.

We had a special dinner at Le Club Chasse et Peche, rated one of North America's best restaurants.

Everything on the menu is local from Quebec, serving the freshest Canadian fish and beef. Amazing wine list and amazing staff.

Loved it.

On to Little Italy for one of the best dinners I have ever eaten.

Ridiculous porchetta.....halibut crudo......spaghettoni with rabe pesto and guanciale.....burrata with caponata.
All so simple and amazing.

The place is super casual, more of an osteria type place with terrase seating (outdoor). Perfect for families.
Great Italian wines by the glass (Etna Bianco from yummy in the summer).

They own a GREAT Napoletana style pizzeria across the street called PIZZERIA GEMA, so if you can't get into IMPASTO, try there instead.

Montreal is also famous for their smoked meat (brisket and pastrami).....and their bagels! Even more so than NYC! They are smaller and not as fluffy as NY can find them in Montreal's Mile End neighborhood, filled with Jewish delis and great food. You can take a food tour of the neighborhood which is fantastic.

They even sell smoked meat sandwiches at the airport!

If you are looking for a great hotel in Old Montreal, try Hotel Gault.
It is a small 30 room boutique hotel in the best neighborhood.

The staff was wonderful, and the rooms were comfortable and modern.

Sit back and enjoy the photos........if you are planning a short trip and don't want to fly to Europe, then Quebec is your place.

And no, I did not try the poutine (just couldn't do it), but Henry did! ;)

Next stop Quebec City.

Merci Montreal!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer Pasta w/ Roasted Tomatoes & Corn

It's illegal to make this dish in the winter months....the food police will definitely arrest you.

SEASONAL cooking is why this recipe is the BEST, and buying LOCAL produce makes it even better (if that's possible!).

I ate 3 helpings of this is so simple and so delicious.

We have great produce in New Jersey, but the season is get it while you can.


I could make a dinner of Jersey tomatoes and grilled Jersey corn, and on a hot night, sometimes I do (though husband needs something more substantial).

This is my roasted summer cherry tomato pasta with a new revolutionary way of cooking corn (it's not that new, but it is new to me!).

Pasta w/ Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Corn: (MADE IN SUMMER ONLY), serves 4 normal people

8 oz. any pasta you like
pint of cherry tomatoes
2 corn on the cob, husks removed
olive oil
kosher salt
balsamic vinegar
fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400F.

Lay the husked corn on a small baking sheet and rub w/ olive oil. Season with kosher salt.

In another baking pan with sides, lay out the cherry tomatoes....healthy pour of olive oil and kosher salt.
Douse w/ about 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar.

Place both trays in the oven for 20-30 minutes, shaking both pans, so all sides are cooked (both the corn and the tomatoes).

Start boiling your pasta water.

When the corn is cool enough to handle, stand up the cobs and slice the corn off the cobs into the roasted tomato pan.

Drain the pasta and add to a bowl. Pour over the tomatoes and corn from the roasting pan into the bowl. Mix w/ tongs and add lots of fresh basil.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blackberry Cornbread with Honey & Thyme

Remember I made a blueberry cornbread?

Well, today I am making BLACKBERRY cornbread.

I found some nice local blackberries at my farmer's market, they are in season now.
Summer berries are the best for cakes....and in this case, cornbread.

I like a sweet cornbread, but I know most purists only use a tablespoon of do what you like.
I also made a honey glaze for the top, which works so nicely with the summer berries.

Blackberry Cornbread (loosely adapted from Rachel Ray)

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp almond extract

1 cup blackberries
turbinado sugar for sprinkling
honey and fresh thyme for the glaze

Mix dry ingredients w/ the wet (do not add in berries).

Pour the batter into a 9" greased cast iron skillet.
Dot the top with the blackberries, pressing into the batter.

Sprinkle the berries with turbinado sugar and bake for 25 minutes in a 375F oven.

Heat 2 tbsp of honey with 1 tsp of water in the microwave for 20 seconds.
Brush the warm cornbread with the honey glaze and let cool in the skillet.

This is so good with coffee for breakfast.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Jersey Corn Pizza

What? Corn on a pizza?

In New Jersey, we are famous for so many things.....especially annoying things that we really don't want to be associated with (highway exits and Jersey Shore stigma). I won't get into it, but you know what I am referring to.

We are also famous for our corn (and pizza!).
So why not put them together?

Question: Why is Jersey corn so much better than corn from the let's say, the corn belt?
Answer: I don't have an answer for you.

All I know is that I grew up with this delicious corn and people go crazy for it. It must be something in the soil (like Jimmy Hoffa's remains).

My favorite artisanal pizza place in NJ makes this pie when Jersey corn is in season....and only serves it for a few weeks. It's the bomb.

Here, I tried to copy them and I did a pretty good job, though their dough is better than anyone else's.

Make your own pizza dough or buy it....whatever works.

I know you are going to ask me if you can use frozen corn kernels here....I say ok....but it won't be the same as cutting the sweet corn off the cob fresh.

Here are the toppings. This is my new favorite.

for 1 large pizza:

pizza dough
3 balls of fiore di latte (fresh mozzarella, the big egg size balls)
2 ears of fresh corn on the cob, husked, kernels sliced off the cobs
a few dollops of pea pesto (you can use basil pesto, but I made pea with mint and pistachio, so used that)
1 tbsp of pimenton or piment d'espelette (smoked Spanish paprika, or the Basque version)
olive oil
sea salt
fresh snipped chives and basil leaves for finishing

Spread out your dough in a pizza pan or on a pizza stone, however you would usually make your pizza. (This is my husband's job).

Dot sections of the dough with pesto and torn hunks of the cheese.

Fill in the gaps with the shucked corn kernels. Sprinkle w/ the pimenton.

Gently drizzle with a little olive oil, just a little.

I baked mine for 15 minutes in a 475F oven and it came out perfect.

Sprinkle w/ some sea salt and snipped chives....don't skip this step.
I also garnished with some fresh basil leaves.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Purple Cauliflower w/ Chickpeas & Quinoa Salad

I love purple cauliflower.

When I see it at the farmer's market, I have to buy 3 heads......because I am afraid I won't see it again (and I rarely do!).

It tastes like regular cauliflower, but that purple is just so vibrant...and unlike purple green beans (which loses its purple when you cook them), the purple colors gets even brighter after cooking!

Here, I roasted the purple stuff on a sheet pan w/ canned chickpeas.
Tossed with cooked quinoa, raisins and some herbs.

This was so delicious on its own and then for dinner w/ some maple mustard salmon on top.

Here's how:

1 head of purple cauliflower, cut into florets
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked quinoa
kosher salt
olive oil
fresh parsley & chives


2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tsp ras el hanout or garam masala
1/4 cup of olive oil
sea salt & pepper

Lay the chickpeas and cauliflower florets on a roasting pan. Drizzle w/ olive oil and kosher salt.

Roast in a 425F oven for 20 minutes, shaking the pan, so the chickpeas and vegetables are browning.

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa as per package directions. Transfer to a large bowl.

Whisk the dressing w/ a fork, macerating the raisins.

Combine the roasted vegetables with the cooked quinoa and pour dressing over. Add in snipped chives and fresh parsley. Season to taste w/ sea salt & pepper.

If making ahead, I like to add a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten it up just before serving.

So good! (pretty too!). :)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Very Berry Muffins

These are my favorite summer muffins.

Any berry will do.
But lately the farmer's markets have been stocked w/ strawberries and blueberries, and they have been just delicious.

Very Berry Muffins:

1 1/3 cups sugar
zest of a lemon
1 stick of butter, softened
2 eggs
1/4 tsp almond extract

Mix all together until light and creamy.

Now add in a bit at a time:

1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of almond flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Next, add in:

2/3 cup milk
1 cup of blueberries
cinnamon sugar for the top

375F for 25 minutes for normal size muffins.

For those of you asking where I get these large pretty paper baking liners (they are great, no sticking, and no cleaning up muffin tins)....I buy them online at amazon, or at Home Goods when I see them. They come in all sizes.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tonnato Dip

Tonnato sauce is a delicious salty cold tuna sauce made to serve w/ Vitello Tonnato, (cold, thinly sliced veal).

I have made it with turkey breast and it is a delicious summer dinner.

I tried Melissa Clark's version of tuna dip from her new book.

The recipe read funny to me, it said use a 3 oz. can of tuna, most cans are 5 oz. size, and it seemed like a lot of other ingredients for just a little tiny I took liberties and used two 5 oz. cans of Italian tuna in oil to make about a cup of dip.

This is delicious with hard boiled eggs, crudite, boiled potatoes or breadsticks. It is addictive.

Tuna Spread (loosely adapted from Dinner Changing the Game):

2 cans of tuna packed in oil (try and use good tuna from Spain or Italy), drained
1 tbsp capers
1 garlic clove
a few fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup of mayo (I use Hellmann's)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 anchovies
chopped kalamata olives

Pulse everything together (except the olives) in a food processor until a nice creamy consistency, almost mousse like.

Fold in the chopped olives with a silicone spatula and spread in a bowl.

Before serving, drizzle some more olive oil on top and season w/ black pepper and parsley or basil.

Can be made ahead and kept in the fridge.

Lick the bowl.