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Bake Together-Goat Cheese, Pepper, Lemon Sables

Goat Cheese, Lemon,Pepper Sables

Abby Dodge’s Bake together this month is Sables,we used her spicy Parmesan sable as the base recipe and I tweaked it a bit to accommodate the ingredients that I used. Because I used goats cheese which is more moist than parmesan I decreased both the butter and liquid and instead of using water I used cold freshly squeezed lemon juice. The pepper is a 5 pepper blend, pink, white, black, green and central american allspice which I crushed using a mortar and pestle. The addition of lemon zest as well as lemon juice gives these sables a tangy flavor and the goat cheese and pepper give a bit of a bite. I served with some soft goat cheese with red pepper jam and tomato jam. Delicious! Here is the link to Bake Together with Abby Dodge.

6 oz flour- 1 1/3 cups
2 oz crumbled goat cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed whole 5 pepper blend crushed with mortar and pestle
zest of 1 lemon
7 tbs cold unsalted butter
2 tbs  cold lemon juice
Weigh or measure the flour, crush the peppercorns and add to the food processor along with the salt and lemon zest, pulse a few times. Add the goat cheese and butter and pulse until it resembles crumbs, add the lemon juice and pulse 2 or 3 more times.   Dump the moist crumbs onto the unfloured counter and gather into a pile. With the heel of you hand, push and gently smear the crumbs away from you until they start to come together in a cohesive dough. Two or three ‘smears’ should do the trick. Using a bench scraper, gather the dough together and turn it about 45 degrees and give it one or two more smears.  Gather the dough together and shape the dough into a 7 1/4-inch long and 2 1/4 -inch wide rectangle using the bench scraper to make the sides nice and straight. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, about 3 hours, or up to 2 days.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment. Using a thin, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/4-inch slices and arrange about 1 inch apart (they don’t spread much at all) on the prepared sheets. Bake, one sheet at a time,  until nutty brown around the edges, 16 to 18 minutes. If you like, sprinkle the crackers with a little kosher salt just as the baking sheets come out of the oven. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.

Breakfast-Banana Waffles

Banana Waffles with Hot Buttered Syrup

I shunned my usual shake this morning for some hot home made waffles. I was thinking of making banana bread today, had two banana’s that are on their way to becoming very very ripe, but instead I decided to make banana waffles. I used my go to recipe for waffles from an old Betty Crocker recipe book but really tweaked it. I used all purpose flour, stone ground whole wheat flour and cake flour, buttermilk, brown sugar and banana.  I usually separate the eggs, whip the whites and fold them in, instead I beat the whole eggs with the electric mixer which produced a less fluffy waffle but still very good. If you want a higher rise and lighter texture just beat the whites separately and fold in. The syrup is Grade B maple syrup, butter and Lyles Golden Syrup. Just using maple syrup is great but I love Lyles and like to mix it with my maple syrup, add butter and heat.

Makes: 12  waffles

1 cup cake flour

1/2 cup organic whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 ripe banana mashed

Maple syrup

Lyles Golden syrup (optional)

Butter (I used 2 tbs)

Heat waffle iron according to manufacturers directions.

Add flours, baking soda and powder, sugar and salt to mixing bowl and whisk to combine. In another bowl beat eggs with electric mixer until thick and foamy. Add the rest of the ingredients and fold in.

When waffle iron is heated add some batter, use as much as directions say to use for your waffle maker. While waffle is cooking, preheat oven to 200 degrees. In saucepan add the maple syrup, Lyles syrup and butter and heat gently, simmer until waffles are ready, I am not giving amounts you decide how much of each you want to use and certainly you can omit the Lyles Syrup. Have baking sheet ready, lined with parchment, when waffles are done remove to sheet pan and keep warm in the oven, do this until all the batter is used. If its more waffles than you need freeze them and use another day.

Food52-One Year Anniversary Today

One year ago today I discovered Food52, for any of you who have never heard of it (hard to believe) it is in my opinion the best food website ever. I joined immediately, my cooks name is sdebrango, but lurked for a while trying to get the lay of the land so to speak. I saw that there were recipe contests, found that intriguing and I also saw a vibrant community of cooks that created recipes and cheered each other on, commenting on recipes, encouraging and offering critique’s and praise. I will never forget the first contest I entered, The recipe you want to be remembered for, my submission was for my Thanksgiving dressing. I had never written a recipe before and like so many cooks didn’t measure because it was like second nature and I didn’t have to measure. I was a little disappointed that my first submission received no comments but I chalked it up to the fact that I was new on the site, no one knew me and honestly my recipe was not very well written. I persevered, volunteering to test recipes for Editors picks, commenting on recipes and eventually I began conversations with other cooks and I felt like I was home. I was having fun, my love of cooking was reinvigorated, my creative juices were flowing and I loved every minute of it. I will never forget the first time a recipe of mine was actually picked and tested by the editors, I felt like I won the lottery, and when I won the contest for “Best Flank Steak Recipe” with my Flank Steak on Texas Toast and Chimichurri” I could barely contain my excitement and knowing my recipe will be published in the second food52 cookbook is an honor.  Food52 is the brilliant vision of Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, how wonderful to start a website that embraces the home cook and creates a welcoming, environment where we can learn and be creative.  I have learned so much, technique, terms, recipe writing, food photography(still a work in progress), thanks to the food52 community. I won’t bore you by blathering on and on but I was compelled to post this today because for me finding food52 was the beginning of a new journey. Without food52 and the encouragement of my friends I never would have started a food blog, So on this, my one year anniversary of joining food52 I just wanted to express my thanks to Amanda and Merrill and my dear friends and fellow cooks for your guidance and encouragement. I wanted to thank everyone by name but the list is way too long, Thank you to everyone!

Food52 potluck party at my house

The spread

Featured Recipe:Toasted Orzo with Citrus and Olives

Toasted Orzo with Citrus and Olives

I love this recipe for so many reasons, its really delicious, the simplicity, has ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and refrigerator, and how quick and easy it is to prepare and I can’t forget what a revelation it was to toast the orzo, it gives this little pasta an incredible depth of flavor.  I first saw this recipe on food52 when Emily entered it in the citrus contest and have been wanting to try it ever since. First let me talk about Emily (EmilyC is her cooks name on food52), she is a busy Mother of an adorable toddler, has won two contests on Food52 and will be published in the second food52 cookbook coming out in October of this year. Her recipes are full of flavor using readily available ingredients and are so easy to prepare. Try her contest winning shrimp burgers with roasted garlic-orange aioli or her crispy cream braised potato and fennel.  I chose to feature this recipe thinking how great it would be with grilled fish, the toasted orzo with bright citrus, fresh herbs and earthy olives is the perfect accompaniment for my wild chilean sea bass. You can view Emily’s other recipes on food52

Serves: 4

1 ¼ cups orzo

2 cups water or low-sodium broth (or combination of both)

2 tablespoons olive oil (plus additional to taste)

finely grated zest from 1 large lemon or orange (reserving juice)

Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper

¼ to ½ cup of your favorite olives

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped chives, flat-leaf parsley, or herb of choice

  1. In large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add orzo; stir to evenly coat all of the orzo with olive oil; cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add water and zest, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until orzo is al dente and liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. If orzo is cooked but liquid remains, drain the orzo, return to pan, and cook about 30 seconds longer over low heat to dry the orzo.
  2. Stir in olives and chopped herbs, and add kosher salt, pepper, citrus juice and olive oil to taste. Enjoy!

I prepared the fish using Eric Riperts recipe  that was featured on food52  and made a parsley, lemon, caper gremolata.

Mediterranean Inspired Flavors

Feeding a Family on a Budget- Turkey Meatballs in Cream Sauce

I plan on featuring budget friendly recipes every week or two that are substantial enough to feed a family using fresh,natural ingredients. It can be challenging to juggle a full time job and a family and still have time to prepare a meal that everyone can sit down and enjoy. This recipe is my daughters, she has 2 young children ages 7 and 4, works a full time job and manages to put a good meal on the table just about every night. She makes food ahead and freezes it, has come up with recipes that are quick and easy to prepare and are kid friendly. This recipe including the mashed potatoes and collard greens that she served this with cost under $25 for a family of 4, and there were leftovers that she and the husband are taking to work for lunch (love brownbagging it). She uses organic free range turkey meat (we all know that costs more but is so worth it), and organic vegetables and dairy products. Food prices vary depending on where you live, here in NYC it can be a challenge to live within a budget but in tough economic times it’s important to spend wisely. This meal is really simple to put together and incredibly delicious.
Serves: 4 with leftovers
2 lbs ground turkey
1/2 large or a whole small onion chopped
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 thick slices of bread soaked in milk
salt and pepper to taste
The Sauce:
2 cups chicken stock
3 tbs flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
Heat some olive oil in skillet, saute onions until they are soft. In mixing bowl add the turkey, bread soaked in milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper, when onions are done add to the turkey mixture. Stir to combine all ingredients and form into meatballs. In same skillet fry the meatballs, browning on all sides but don’t cook them through. Remove from skillet, using the same skillet with the drippings add the flour, you are making a roux, stir so that its mixed with the pan drippings and let it cook for about a minute. whisk in the the stock, cream and milk and let it cook so that it thickens.
Place meatballs in baking dish and pour cream sauce over them. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Last Pot of Hot Soup, Maybe…. Chicken Noodle Soup

Crocus in bloom

During the cold winter months I sometimes make a pot of soup a week, this winter my thoughts were turning to gazpacho because the it’s been unusually warm. I walk outside and see bulbs have already bloomed, actually I saw the beginnings at the end of January and now we have full blooms. I really haven’t followed tradition, my own, and made soup. I’ve barely had hot chocolate or hot toddy’s. So I decided to make soup today, with temperatures in the low to mid 40’s and the weather forecast in the high 50’s low 60’s the rest of the week, I thought I better do it now or else I might just retire my soup pot. I made chicken soup with escarole and noodles. The noodles are homemade from dough left over from last weeks Italian offerings, made some stock with chicken, onions, celery, carrots, garlic and herbs (parsley). I will probably freeze what’s left after enjoying a bowl, you never know, next week we may get snow.

Chicken Stock:

1 whole chicken, organic if possible

1 whole onion peeled and cut in half

2 stalks celery cut in half

2 cloves garlic

2 big carrots cut into big chunks

handful of cleaned parsley and whatever herbs you like to add

enough water to cover the chicken

salt and pepper to taste

4 cups torn or chopped well cleaned escarole

noodles or whatever type of pasta you like to add to the soup. About 2 1/2 cups cooked pasta

Add everything except the escarole and noodles to stock pot and boil for 2-3 hours on med/high heat or lower heat if you want to cook all day. When done remove chicken and vegetables from pot, add the escarole and cook for 20 minutes. In separate pot boil your noodles and add to chicken soup when they are done, Cut the carrots on the diagonal and add back to soup, You can serve with some of the boiled chicken in the bowl and I like to grate some romano cheese on top.

Affogato With Homemade Gelato

Affogato is probably the simplest of desserts with the exception of putting out a platter of whole fruit. You simply brew some fresh espresso and pour it over gelato. How easy is that?  You can of course buy commercially prepared gelato or ice cream but why not make your own? Ice cream makers are inexpensive and so easy to use and you can easily whip up a batch of ice cream or gelato, sorbet or sherbet flavored as you like it. This recipe has a custard base as gelato should have, and I am keeping it simple by making vanilla which is the base for any flavor you want to make, if you want coffee or espresso flavor, just add 2 tbs of instant espresso coffee to the warm custard, but I won’t complicate things, so here is my recipe for vanilla gelato. You may notice when you order a cup of espresso in a restaurant or coffee house that they serve it with a small strip of lemon zest, the lemon brightens the flavor of the rich coffee.  I added a little lemon zest on top of the gelato for the same effect. I hope everyone enjoyed the recipes this is the final entry in my week long journey, I have learned a lot and really had fun doing it.

Makes: One quart


1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cup whole milk

5 large egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract


A pot of freshly brewed espresso coffee

a few strips of lemon zest

Scoop of gelato per serving

Separate your eggs and place the yolks in a mixing bowl, add the sugar and beat with an electric mixer or whisk until its thick and creamy and a beautiful light yellow color. Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan and heat on med/high until it’s scalded, not boiling.

Pour half of the scalded milk and cream into the egg yolk mixture whisking constantly, you are tempering the eggs. Whisk well and pour into the pan with the rest of the hot milk. Cook on medium heat using a thermometer so that it reaches a temperature of 170-175 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer stir constantly with a wooden spoon, you will notice it starting to thicken and when you can draw a line on the back of the spoon and it stays intact (doesn’t run) its ready. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and pour into a bowl. Cover the custard with plastic wrap sitting directly on top of it. Let it come to room temperature and then refrigerate over night or for at least 6 hours it should be cold around 40 degrees when you add to the ice cream maker.

To make the gelato follow manufacturers directions for your machine.

Place a generous scoop of gelato in a bowl, using the zester or microplane add a little lemon zest on top of it, Pour hot espresso over and enjoy.

White Pasta With Parmigiano Garlic Breadrumbs

For a quick dinner I took an idea from my childhood and put my own spin on it, pasta of your choice (I use linguine) with ricotta and milk and a crumb topping, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, butter and parmigiano. Take the ricotta out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you prepare the dish, it will need to be room temperature. You don’t have to be exact with the measurements tailor it to suite your taste.

Makes: 2 servings

1/2 lb linguine (or whatever pasta you like)


2 cup ricotta (at room temperature)

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup  grated parmigiano

Salt and pepper to taste

Crumb Topping:

1 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated parmigiano

pinch of lemon zest

handful parsley chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

2 tbs butter

splash of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


In skillet melt butter with a splash of olive oil, add the garlic and cook until it just starts to brown. Add the bread crumbs and continue to cook until the crumbs are lightly browned. Take off heat and pour into mixing bowl, add the parmigiano, parsley and lemon zest stir to combine and set aside.

Putting it all together:

Bring large pot of water to a boil, when there is a rolling boil add a lot of salt, taste the water it should taste salty. Put the pasta in and stir.

While the pasta is cooking heat your milk until its hot to the touch,(I used the microwave, 45 seconds) put the ricotta and parmigiano in your serving bowl and add the hot milk, mix it up and season to taste. When pasta is done, (al dente) drain and add to the bowl with the ricotta milk mixture, toss to combine, top with the breadcrumbs a little more grated parmigiano and serve.

Pizza Margherita

I felt like I had to include probably the most beloved of all Italian foods in this week long foray into my Italian roots, pizza. I can probably count on one hand the number of times my Mother made pizza growing up, that few really. I learned to love and appreciate pizza when I lived in Italy and this is very close to what I had there.  I used The Solitary Cooks recipe for pizza dough, slathered on some of my tomato balsamic jam, some fresh mozzarella and grated pecorino romano and here you have it. Pizza Margherita. The pizza dough rested all night in the refrigerator and was ready for me this morning. You must try this recipe for pizza dough, not only is it simple and quick to make it’s so tender and well, sheer perfection. Here is the link to the recipe,

It’s so easy to go to the pizzeria or restaurant and get a pizza to go, but if you have the urge for pizza try this. It really is foolproof and quick. Go to the links above for the recipe’s for the pizza dough and tomato balsamic jam. You can make a more traditional pizza sauce or buy a good one in the market whatever works for you. Add whatever toppings you like, let your imagination go wild, pizza is one of those foods that can become whatever you want it to be.

A thing of beauty

Warm Green Bean,Fennel and Potato Salad

I had this dish when I lived in Italy, if memory serves me this is pretty darn close to the salad I had in Naples. It was a warm salad with assorted vegetables in a citrusy dressing. We had it for lunch with grilled fish. There is nothing complicated about this it has simple ingredients and flavors that work so well together. Eat alone or with grilled meat, fish or even eggs. The potato and fennel are roasted in the oven and the green beans are blanched so they are still somewhat crisp. The dressing is roasted garlic, olive oil, lemon juice. Toss it all together and you have a quick and nutritious vegetable dish.

Serves: 4-6 depending on serving size

2  potatoes (yukon gold or russet)

1/2 lb green beans

1 small fennel bulb cut in half and quartered

the juice of two lemons + plus zest of 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

4-6 cloves roasted garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Pre heat oven to 425. Put the garlic cloves in their skin on aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and close to make a packet, place in oven for 6-8 minutes until garlic is soft. Remove from oven and set aside.

Peel the potatoes and cut into bite size pieces.Cut fennel into bite size pieces. Line sheet pan with parchment and place potatoes and fennel on sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Oven roast until potatoes and fennel are lightly browned  about 25-30 minutes. Stir them to turn over so they brown evenly on all sides.

While the potatoes are roasting make the dressing, juice the lemons and add to the blender along with the zest, add the garlic and whiz a few times to blend the lemon and garlic, slowly add the olive oil through the top of the blender so that you have an emulsion, season with salt and pepper. If you don’t want to use a blender just smash the soft garlic in mortar with a little salt, add to small mixing bowl with lemon juice, zest and olive oil. Whisk until it emulsifies.

Clean the green beans and blanch in boiling salted water for 3-5 minutes, remove with spyder or slotted spoon. Reduce oven temperature to 350.

Put the green beans, potatoes and fennel in mixing bowl, pour the dressing on and toss to combine. Place in baking dish and put it in the oven for 8-10 minutes just to warm it up, the vegetables will absorb the flavors in the dressing.