Panzanella Salad

 

I had my first online cooking class experience yesterday. It was a lot of fun. I went through the cooking school named Cozymeal. They have cooking schools throughout North America and, due to the pandemic, the classes have moved online. I have been wanting to try one for awhile.

I choose an Italian cooking class. The chef, Chris, was very informative and taught the group many great techniques as well as the history of the food.  He even had an Italian opera singer Zoom in from his home whereas he sang a wonderful song.

This is the first of the three recipes we cooked. It is very simple and delicious. It comes from Tuscany.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 loaf of Italian crusty bread
  • 2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced and quartered
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil (10-15 leaves) rough chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TBS red wine vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F. Chop slices of bread into large crouton shape. Toss with olive oil (enough to lightly coat). Lay out the croutons on baking sheet in single layer with appropriate spacing between each piece to vent. Place in oven and toast until they appear toasted on all sides (10-15 minutes).

Place tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, 2 TBS olive oil, 1 TBS red wine vinegar in a bowl, mix and let sit for 20-30 minutes.

Once croutons have cooled, mix with marinade.

Other two recipes to follow (Tiramisu and fresh pasta dough with lemon cream sauce.

Buon appetito.

Joy’s Zucchini Bread

 

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Do I have a treat for you. My BF has given me his mom’s zucchini bread recipe and I have the green light to get it on my site. So with out any further ado, here it is. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups zucchini (unpeeled, grated, and uncooked)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)

Directions:

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients. Add eggs, oil, and zucchini to dry mixture. Pour into a greased bread loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes.

 

 

Banana Walnut Bread

 

 

I am always buying bananas and not eating them before they go bad. This is a great way to use those over ripe bananas and turn them into a decadent bread. Recipe and picture from Food Network Kitchen and foodnetwork.com, recipe modified slightly by me for simplicity. Pairs good with a spot of tea, pictured above.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for preparing the pan
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork, about 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnut pieces

Directions:

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt, set aside. Whisk the eggs and vanilla, set aside. Brush a loaf pan with butter. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually pour the egg mixture into the butter until incorporated. Add the bananas. Note that the mixture will look curdled but is not.

Use a rubber spatula to mix dry ingredients, fold in the nuts and transfer to prepared pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes then turn out of the pan and let cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap. Best served the next day.

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich with Biscuits and Coffee-Laced Gravy

 

This is the first of many recipes I will be posting from my favorite new cookbook Cooking My Way Back Home by Mitchell Rosenthal.  In this recipe the coffee-laced gravy is the star.  You can make the gravy and just serve it over biscuits if you like but I wanted to post the recipe in its entirety in case you want to try it  the way its suppose to taste.

Coffee-laced Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon, cubed
  • 3 ounces breakfast pork sausage links, casings removed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 TBS brewed espresso or other strong coffee
  • 3 cups Chicken Stock, warmed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 6 Country Biscuits (recipe follows)
  • 6 fried chicken breasts (recipe follows)

Directions:

In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, or until some of the fat is rendered.  Add the pork sausage meat and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon or spatula, for 3 minutes more, or until it starts to brown.  Add the onion.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.

Add the butter and stir until melted.  Lower the heat to medium-low.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes to cook away the raw flour taste.  Pour in the espresso and stock and stir well, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge and browned bits.  Raise the heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until reduced by half.

Add the cream and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture has a nice gravy consistency.  Finally, stir in the sage, then taste and correct the seasoning.

Split each biscuit in half horizontally and lay the halves, cut side up and side by side, on a plate.  Top with a hot fried chicken breast, ladle the hot sauce on top, and serve immediately.

Country Biscuits:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 TBS baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • 1 TBS salt
  • 1/2 pound, plus 1/2 stick butter, frozen, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Directions:

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Scatter the butter on top, on low speed with mixer beat until the butter is about the size of peas, combine all bits with buttermilk until it forms into a dough. Turn the dough out into a lightly floured work surface. Fold and pat until soft and cohesive. Roll out to 1 inch thick and transfer to a sheet pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to a day.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Re-roll the dough into a round 1 inch piece onto lightly floured work surface. Cut as many biscuits as possible into 2 inch rounds. Place the biscuits on prepared pan and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake the biscuits for 25 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Hot Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup buttermilk
Canola oil, for deep frying
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Town Hall Spice Mixture (recipe follows)
1 tsp salt

Directions:

Place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and beat with a mallet until 1/2 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and buttermilk into a bowl and coat. Let soak for 15 minutes. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or heavy bottomed frying pan to 375 F. In a bowl stir together flour, spice mixture and 1 tsp salt. Toss the chicken into the flour mixture and out of the buttermilk and cook in hot oil for 4-5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Town Hall Spice Mixture

Ingredients:

2 TBS cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp celery salt

Directions: Mix all ingredients together. Store in airtight container in cool cupboard. Keeps for up to 6 months.

Olga Bread

 

 

As a teenager, many of my friends worked at the fast food Greek restaurant Olga’s. On of my favorite things about this place was their bread. My best friend forwarded me the recipe found on food.com and my daughter absolutely loves it. You can use it as a wrap with meats or vegetables or just eat it plain like her, enjoy.

Ingredients;

1  cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup margarine ( I used butter)
1  teaspoon salt

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 pkg.)
1/4 cup warm water

1  teaspoon sugar

4  cups flour, divided
1 egg

  • Directions;
  • Scald milk, remove to large bowl. Add honey, margarine and salt to milk, stir until margarine is melted.
    Set aside to cool until lukewarm. Combine yeast, warm water and sugar, stir until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
    Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour to lukewarm milk mixture and beat well. Mix in egg and yeast mixture.Add remaining flour, a little at a time, until sticky dough is formed. Turn out on a floured surface, knead about two minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl. Turning once to oil whole surface of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in warm place until doubled in bulk.
  • Punch down dough; divide into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece to a thin rough circle about 8-1o inches in diameter.
  • Heat a large dry skillet over medium-high heat; do not use any oil.
    Bake 15 seconds, flip and bake about 10 seconds on other side, until mottled brown spots appear.
    Cool and store in a plastic bag. Makes: 16.

Blueberry Muffins with Banana Butter

 

I made these muffins last week and loved how the tops were crisp and the inside moist and sweet. The banana butter complemented fantastically. This recipe was found in the May 2013 issue of Food and Wine magazine. They are very simple to make.

Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients;

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries

Banana Butter

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 very ripe banana, sliced
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions;
1. Preheat the oven to 375° and fill 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the butter with the milk, both sugars, lemon zest and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk just until combined. Fold in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the muffins are golden. Let cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins and let cool on a rack.
3. In a food processor, puree the butter, banana, lemon juice and salt. Serve with the muffins.

Make Ahead
The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. The butter can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Corn Bread Muffins

 

Corn bread is a great side to serve with BBQ. Make some honey butter to spread on them and it’s even better. This is another recipe from America’s Best BBQ cookbook and the restaurant these delicious muffins come from is Branks BBQ & Catering in Sumner, Washington. They fall apart easily if you don’t let them cool as directed.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 11 TBS butter, melted and cooled

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter 12 muffin cups. Combine all dry ingredients then sift into another bowl. In a separate bowl mix the buttermilk and egg together with a whisk. Whisk in the melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until incorporated, do not over mix. Pour into muffin cups and bake in middle rack for 15 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

Mom’s Turkey Stuffing

This stuffing is simple, yet delicious. My mom started using toasted bread to include my brother and me in the process of cooking Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. We were delighted to help with the toasting and tearing. I no longer stuff the bird but cook it separately as recommended for safety due to the possibility of stuffing inside the turkey harboring bacteria.

Ingredients:

  • 2 loafs white bread
  • 1 pound margarine
  • 3 tsp poultry seasoning or season to taste
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 5-6 stalks celery chopped
  • Turkey stock

Directions:

Toast white bread and tear into bite size pieces. Slowly melt margarine in large sauté pan. Add poultry seasoning to taste. Add chopped celery and onions. Sauté vegetables until tender, around 5-10 minutes. Mix with bread bites. Add a bit of turkey giblet stock to taste. Add more poultry season if needed. Bake separately at 400 degrees for around 10 minutes or until heated through.

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