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Feta and Pistachio with Black Pepper: A Turkish Meze

Turkish Style Feta and Pistachio Meze

Turkish Style Feta and Pistachio Meze

Cheese at the Fethiye Market

Cheese at the Fethiye Market

Sliced Cucumbers Separate These Mezes

Sliced Cucumbers Separate These Mezes

This creamy spread for bread is another meze I discovered in Istanbul. It’s a quick dinner party appetizer too. I never saw the word feta in Turkey; only cheese. Feta means slice, so feta is probably our interpretation. Their “feta like” cheese is always white, but creamier and less tart. When I developed this recipe I added yogurt to a nice quality Bulgarian feta from our local cheese and wine shop, Eastman Party Store. Eastman’s has made the world of difference in our lives in Midland, Michigan. It has more international flair than any other local shop!

You can make this as thin and creamy as you like. A spoonful maintains it’s shape, but it can definitely be spread on a slice of French like baguette. Add more or less pistachio as you like. Have fun with this new combination of ingredients!

In a small bowl combine with a spoon until well blended.

1/2 cup whole milk feta

2 – 4 tablespoons or more cream and/or whole milk yogurt

1 small clove garlic, minced (not too much! the flavor becomes more pronounced in a day or so)

1/2 cup chopped pistachios (a mix of finely chopped and coarsely chopped)

1/8 teaspoon black pepper or more! The flavor is definitely there!

 

Roasted Red Pepper and Tahini Meze

Roasted Red Pepper with Tahini, Garlic and Parsley

Roasted Red Pepper with Tahini, Garlic and Parsley

I spent 3 magnificent weeks in Turkey and Greece this summer and want to share some of the delicious mezes with you. These are small plates of foods eaten before or instead of the main dish. Similar to the Spanish style tapas, mezes are served on small plates which can be shared or eaten in any number, hot or cold.

The Roasted Red Pepper with Tahini is surprising and very tasty. Tahini is ground sesame seeds and usually is a small ingredient when making hummus, but in this meze it is more predominant. You can add these ingredients to your own taste, but here is my interpretation.

In a small bowl place:

2 roasted red peppers, diced (bottled and preserved in brine would work)

In an even smaller bowl combine:

1 tablespoon tahini or more

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 teaspoons white wine vinegar (optional, especially if using brined peppers)

1 clove garlic, minced (not too much)

1 tablespoon minced flat leafed parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Add the tahini mix to the peppers and serve at room temperature. Make ahead if you need.

You can eat this plain or place it on French style bread. The Turkish bread is called Naan.  It is an oval shaped bread similar to pita or a tortilla. When it is freshly made it is presented at the table puffy and full of air. It soon collapses and can be torn to eat with your food. I am not enclosing the Naan recipe here, but someday I will try it! Here are some pics though :)

 

Puffy Naan, straight from the very hot oven

Puffy Naan, straight from the very hot oven

 

Naan ready to eat!

Naan ready to eat!

Il Flotante, Floating Islands

Floating Island, A Classic French Dessert Adaption

Floating Island, A Classic French Dessert Adaption

 

Two years ago in Paris, I first tasted Il Flotante at an adorable little bistro in Saint Germain called la Coupe Chou, which means chopped cabbage. It is a term of endearment, something like ” my little cabbage” or “my little muffin” :) Anyway, this recipe is from Food and Wine Magazine and the link is below. As you will read, the classic meringue is poached, but this one is baked. It looks like a giant marshmallow and tastes like the meringue of a lemon meringue pie.

This was our dessert for dinner club. Rose Thill prepared it beautifully and used whole milk instead of the classic heavy cream to save us a lot of calories. The fresh vanilla bean seeds made it delish! It was also very beautiful! Rose added the raspberries for color. Bon Apetit!

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/floating-islands

Corn Frittata with Romano Cheese

Corn Frittata

Corn Frittata

This is nice for breakfast, brunch or lunch. The size of the skillet determines how high the frittata is when served. If you want larger serving pieces, use a smaller skillet. I used a 10 inch stainless skillet. I would use an 8 inch skillet for a thicker serving wedge, but I would not use a larger skillet than 10 inch.

As long as your skillet is HOT before you add the oil or butter, it will not stick too much. If you want to be sure, use a nonstick skillet.

Corn Frittata in a 10 inch Stainless Sautepan

Corn Frittata in a 10 inch Stainless Sautepan

This recipe is taken from Cooking Light 2014. I have changed very little to this recipe. Although I did not add the parsley.

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (2 ears)

1/3 cup diced shallots or onion

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1/4-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (a delish addition)

1/4 cup lowfat milk

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons butter

1 ounce pecorino Romano cheese grated (1/4 cup)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, optional

  • Preheat broiler.
  • Heat an 8 or 10 inch ovenproof skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add oil and swirl to coat.
  • Add corn and shallots; stir and sauté 3 minutes.
  • Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and smoked paprika.
  • Saute 1 minute and remove from heat.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, remaining salt and pepper and milk.
  • Add corn mixture to eggs and stir.
  • Wipe out skillet with paper towel.
  • Return pan to medium heat and add butter and swirl to melt.
  • Add egg mixture to pan. Cook 1 minute without stirring.
  • Gently slide pan back and forth to keep eggs from sticking.
  • Cover, reduce heat to low and cook 4 minutes.
  • Sprinkle cheese over eggs.
  • Place under the broiler to finish cooking 1-2 minutes until eggs are just set and cheese melts.
  • Sprinkle with parsley.

 

 

 

Roasted Asparagus and Lettuce Salad with Poached Egg

Roasted Asparagus and Romaine Salad with Poached Egg

Roasted Asparagus and Romaine Salad with Poached Egg

Tonight I made a light dinner in honor of the first days of Spring. The temperature this morning was 5 degrees F, but I am trying to think WARM weather. The longer days and sunshine helps.

I love poached and soft boiled eggs. The French seem to use them often as a topping on their foods. I’ve eaten them on salads, toasted breads, cooked vegetables and on quickly cooked stews at home and in Paris and Corsica! Pretend you are in France enjoying the warmth and ambiance and give this recipe a try! It’s a very quick lunch or dinner that is special enough for company! It only takes 30 minutes :)

The original recipe is from Cooking Light May 2013. You can find the recipe there also. Today I used romaine because I could not find arugula at the grocery store. Choose your favorite lettuce variety. The arugula is more French. I also substituted cilantro for the tarragon because I had cilantro in the house. I did not add the toasted bread. If I had not eaten two pieces of bread at lunch, I would have added the bread to this salad tonight :)

Serves 4

1 pound asparagus, trimmed

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

3 tablespoons minced shallots

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or other fresh herb ( I used cilantro today)

5-ounces baby arugula or other lettuce variety

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

4 large eggs

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Place asparagus on a jelly-roll pan. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Toss gently to coat. Arrange in a single layer. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes or until tender-crisp.
  • Place in a large bowl: remaining 7 teaspoons oil,1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/8 teaspoon salt, shallots, lemon juice and tarragon. Whisk together.
  • Add arugula and toss. Divide salad onto 4 dinner plates.
  • Top salad with roasted asparagus.
  • Add water to a large skillet, filling 2/3 full. Bring to a boil. Add vinegar.
  • Break each egg into a custard cup and pour gently into water. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 3 minutes or to desired degree of doneness. The yolk should be runny, but the egg white should be white, not clear.
  • With a slotted spoon remove each egg and place one on each salad. Sprinkle with black pepper.
  • Voila!

Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo

Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo

Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo

This “semi-frozen” dessert does not require an ice cream maker and is perfect for a dinner party because it serves 8-12. Or you can keep it all for yourself in the freezer! Thank you to Martha Stewart, this was a big hit at our last Dinner Club! Martha Stewart is the entertaining queen of our time. Her magazine, Martha Stewart Living and her website are inspiring sources. You can also find this recipe at MarthaStewart.com

http://www.marthastewart.com/978987/strawberry-pistachio-semifreddo

Our dinner party of 8 divided this dessert into 8 portions. Not a lick was leftover!

Thank you to Rose Thill for discovering this recipe and to Nadine Kanuch for preparing it so exquisitely!

1/2 cup unsalted roasted shelled pistachios

8 ounces strawberries, hulled (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 large egg yolks, room temperature

1 1/2 cup cold heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Line a 5-by-9 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2 inch overhang on all sides.
  • Pulse pistachios in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl.
  • Place strawberries and 3 tablespoons sugar in the processor
  • Puree until smooth and transfer to a fine sieve set over a bowl. Stir puree, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids.
  • In a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water combine egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar.
  • Beat on high until pale yellow and tripled in volume, about 3 minutes.
  • Transfer bowl to a larger bowl of ice water. Stir until mixture is very thick and cool, about 3 minutes.
  • In another large bowl beat together cream and vanilla until soft peaks form.
  • Whisk 1/3 of whipped cream into egg mixture, whisking until smooth.
  • Then fold egg mixture into remaining whipped cream with a rubber spatula just until thoroughly blended.
  • Pour 1/2 of the cream mixture into strawberry puree. Gently fold together until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Pour strawberry cream mixture into the prepared loaf pan; smooth top.
  • Fold pistachios into remaining cream mixture. Pour evenly over strawberry cream; smooth top.
  • Fold plastic wrap over surface and freeze at least 12 hours.
  • Keep frozen until ready to serve. Invert pan onto a cutting board. Unmold semifreddo, remove plastic, and cut crosswise into 3/4 inch thick slices. Voila!

Warm White Bean and Spinach Salad

Spinach Salad Ready to Serve

Spinach Salad Topped With Parmesan Crumble

Spinach Salad Before Adding the Baked Crumble

Spinach Salad Before Adding the Amazing Crumble

Dave and I have been enjoying delicious food and friendship with our Dinner Club for many years. The four couples meet every 2 to 4 months for a dinner which the host plans. They then assign the other 3 couples one recipe to make. This past weekend our assigned recipe was one the host experienced at a cooking class in Bay City, Michigan at Fusion 1 Café.

This spinach salad is reminiscent of the 1970s version which includes red onion, chopped egg, bacon pieces and a red wine vinaigrette. The Fusion 1 Café recipe goes beyond this, adding northern beans to the dressing. Bacon is substituted with a crumbly mix of toasted whole grain bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. I used a very hearty whole grain bread which is my favorite choice Kroger Private Selections Artisian Multi- Grain Boule.

This is a hearty salad which can be a nice lunch or light dinner.

2 slices multi-grain bread (the larger middle slices of a round boule)(dry overnight on a rack on the counter)

1 cup grated parmesan cheese, high quality such as Parmigiano-Reggiano

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped (use generous size cloves)

Salt and pepper

3/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary

1 pound great northern beans, (I used 1-15 ounce can, slightly drained.)

4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 pound baby spinach (I used 10 ounces for 8 people)

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced and soaked in ice water for 5 minutes

1 yellow bell pepper, thin julienned sliced

Shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese as needed

2 hard boiled eggs

  • In a food processor place the dried bread, parmesan, 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper. Pulse until ground and combined.
  • Toast the mixture in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside.
  • Place a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the 3/4 cup olive oil and heat. Add the garlic and rosemary.
  • Cook only 1 minute or less. Do not brown.
  • Add beans and cook on low for 7 minutes.
  • Stir in tomatoes, vinegar and Dijon. Remove from heat.
  • In a large salad bowl place spinach, onion and sliced pepper.
  • Pour bean mixture over all. Add the cheese and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Shred the eggs over all and top with bread crumb mixture.
  • Present at the table and toss slightly to serve.
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