Sunday, November 27, 2016

Chocolate Salamé

Easiest Italian "no bake" cookies around!
Plus, what fun to fool your guests with this around the holidays.
There are many versions of chocolate salami, some including nuts and dried fruit, but I liked this simple version taught to me by a darling Italian exchange student, Giulia. She gave me the recipe in the grams, which is easy enough to do with a kitchen scale.  Measuring by weight is much more accurate than measuring cups, so if you have a scale, give it a try.

This is a crunchy fudgy goodness to enjoy.

Makes 1 roll about 10 inches long

2 cups (300 gram) biscuits (plain butter cookies)
2/3 cup (150 gram) butter
1/2 cup (100 gram) sugar
1 cup (200 gram) cocoa powder
2 egg yolks
Dash of rum
Powdered sugar for dusting

Break the biscuits (cookies) into little pieces.
Melt the butter.
Separate the eggs, you will use the yolks only.  Save the whites for something else...
Put the biscuits, the sugar, the butter, cocoa powder and yolks into a bowl.  
Mix all together
Shape and roll your salamé into a long tube.  Chill for about 1 hour.
Dust with powdered sugar
Remove from fridge and let sit for about 30 minutes before slicing and eating.

NOTE- This recipe is traditionally made with uncooked egg yolks, much like tiramisuDo don't feed this to the very young, the very old and anyone who is pregnant to be on the safe side, who can all be at more risk to salmonella.  However, you can buy eggs pasteurized in the shell, as the USDA says, “In-shell pasteurized eggs may be used safely without cooking."

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Wild Rice, Mushroom & Bacon Stuffing

I feel like kind of a dork for posting a stuffing recipe the day after Thanksgiving, but since I just ate a bowl of this for breakfast, I thought I would share.

This is a great side dish for the holidays, or anytime!
I like this because there is a ton of great flavors and it's very hearty.  If you have any vegetarians over at the holidays, this one would be great as an almost entree (just omit the bacon, or use vegan bacon).

We served this at Thanksgiving as we needed a gluten free option, and my daughter thought this sounded marvelous. It was.  

Leftovers would be a good, and pretty healthy, "good carb" side dish too.

Serves 10-12

4 1/2 cups broth (Chicken, beef or vegetable)
1 1/4 cups short-grain brown rice
1 1/4 cups wild rice

8 oz. bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (optional, or use vegan bacon)
One 14-ounce bag frozen pearl onions, thawed
1 lb crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
3/4 cup carrots, minced
3/4 cup celery, chopped small
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Salt & Pepper 

For the rice: In a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the brown and wild rice. Cover the saucepan and simmer until the rice is tender but still chewy, 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

For the vegetables: In a skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onions, carrots, celery and thyme. Cook until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper

Transfer the vegetable mixture to the saucepan of cooked rice. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Toss until all the ingredients are mixed. Transfer to a large bowl and serve, or cover and keep warm in the oven.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Murano and Burano- Super Day Trip from Venice

Island Hopping!

We were still a little jet lagged having arrived in Venice the afternoon before.  The day we arrived was really grey and rainy, not the kind you'd like to imagine yourself wandering small confusing alleyways with your luggage trying to find your hotel.  After finally having success and finding our darling hotel, we'd freshened up and hit the canals to wander and see some sights.  

The next morning  the sun was up and blue sky and puffy clouds suggested that we ought to hit the islands, Murano and Burano, before more rain came our way.  
A map in hand, we wandered to the location shown to catch the #12 waterbus to the islands.  We had no idea where we were going but a general idea of the direction we needed to head.  The four of us were staying in the same hotel and were meeting two others staying at a different hotel.  We hadn't connected yet in the city, so it was very joyous to meet in the right place, at the right time and just in time to get tickets and board the boat for Murano, our first stop. It took about 25 minutes and a couple of stops at our islands before we saw our destination.

Above is the "Grand canal of Murano".  I have no idea if it's called that, but it was by far the biggest canal we saw on our visit.

All of us ladies had shopping on our mind for Murano. Glass?  Did someone say glass? Of course, we stopped at the first shop we saw, and then almost every other one after that. Much to the guys chagrin.  As you wander the streets and squares, you will eventually come across some more canals, just like the canals of the island of Venice "proper".  Murano is small, and quaint with all of the charm of Venice, on the more personal level. 

After the proper amount of time shopping, we all sat in the sun at a canal side cafe and had a refreshing beverage, or two.

Before you knew it, it was time to meander back to our water bus stop and figure out how to jump to the next island, Burano.

Burano is known for it's colorful houses and it's lace making industry. Only 1,800 people live on Burano and there are no hotels, so essentially this is a good place to visit for the day. They are also known for their Go fish risotto, but more on that in a bit.

Immediately we were smitten by the views of the gorgeous houses and small town vibe.
Okay, okay, there were a 100-200 other tourists milling about, but we are were enchanted by what we were seeing.

We ate in a little outdoor cafe, and below is the view of the courtyard behind us. 
LOL, I especially like the mop in this photo (which I never noticed until today).  

We had wonderful fresh seafood including Go fish risotto (a speciality) and Bussolà Biscotti (at left), which I will have to blog soon.  They were some of the best cookies I've had in a long time.
The waiter told us to dip into our prosecco.
OK, why not?  Like we needed a reason. Ha.

The houses were all different colors, but the shutters, doors, awnings and light fixtures were all colorful too.

I especially loved seeing the laundry and how it beautifully accented the houses.  Later, I wondered if it was strategically chosen to highlight their house...?
Nah, I don't want to believe it.

It was a beautiful day on the Islands.  Don't miss these gems when you visit Venice, it is completely a different vibe.  Very relaxed and quaint.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pork Tenderloin with Apples & Onions

I look at the pork tenderloin packs at Costco and feel a bit of dismay.
Whatever can I do with these now?
The two pack actually has two tenderloins in each pack... which give you 4 tenderloins.
A bit much for a small family, or only two, like we are these days.
I do love tenderloin as it's so tender and lean and delicious when grilled.
But what to do in the winter....?
Here's a perfect Fall idea that is very easy and super delicious.
We made this with one tenderloin, which made 2 dinners and 2 lunches.  
The other tenderloin, I shredded into smaller pieces and sauteed like Mexican fajitas.
Again it made 2 dinners and 2 lunches.
The other two? I froze them, after all, there is only so much tenderloin two people can eat in a week.

My husband's comments on this recipe were "I would never order this in a restaurant, but it's really good".  He repeated that after eating this for lunch a day or so later.  I'd say that was a vote of confidence.  I tend to agree, I wasn't sure I would like the sweetness of the apples but I found it balanced by the onions and mustard with the tender pork.
My inspiration recipe came from this great site.  Please give it a read if you find my instructions too simple.       

Serves 4

1 pork tenderloins (approx 1 1/2-pound, remove silverskin
2 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus more as needed
Salt and Pepper
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried thyme
2 apples, cored and sliced (something tangy with a firm texture)
1 onion, sliced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Prepare Apples and Onions. I cut the apples in pretty big chunks and I did NOT peel them.

Pat pork dry with paper towels and then rub with oil and salt & pepper.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a heavy-bottomed oven-safe skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmers, add the pork tenderloins and cook, turning occasionally, until evenly browned all over; about 12 minutes. Transfer to a large plate or cutting board. (The pork will not be cooked through).

Keep the pan used to sear the pork on the stove over medium heat. Check the pan, if it looks dry, add a bit more oil.

Add the onions then cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned around edges, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon of thyme (fresh), or 1/2 tsp of dried thyme.
Use a pastry brush (or use your fingers) to rub the seared pork all over with the mustard, more thyme (1 tsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dried), and the black pepper.  

Add the apples and cook for 3-4 minutes more.

Place the seared pork tenderloins on top of the apples and onions, and then slide into the hot 400 degree oven. Roast 10 to 15 minutes or until an internal thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers between 145 and 150 degrees F. Transfer the pork to a large plate and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest about 10 minutes.

While the pork rests, place the pan with apples and onions back onto the stove and turn heat to medium. Add chicken stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape the pan, add the butter and continue to stir.  Taste sauce for salt and pepper, and if desired, add a bit more dijon mustard.

Slice pork in 3/4 inch slices on the diagonal and serve at once over a bed of the apples and onion mixture.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Greek 7 Layer Dip

Everyone seems to like that Mexican 7 layer dip, so why not do it with Greek flavors?
We did this the other night when we had my sister's homemade gyros (yum!) and needed some appetizers to kick off the party.

This was a rousing success and we felt it was pretty healthy too!

Serves a crowd

2 cups Hummus (Homemade, or store bought)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 chopped cucumbers
1 jar kalamata olives, drained and chopped
1/2 to 1 cup Pepperoncini slices
1 can Artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
1 cup Feta cheese, crumbles 
1 cup Tzaziki (Homemade, or store bought)
Garnish- Chopped Parsley or green onions, and some extra whole pepperoncinis

Serve with fresh pita bread, pita crisps, crackers or french bread slices

1. In a large low dish, add a thick layer of hummus

2. Top with chopped english cucumber, you might want to do a bit smaller than I did for ease of eating.

 3. Top with chopped tomatoes

4. Sprinkle with pitted kalamata olives

 5. Sprinkle with Pepperoncini, or artichokes, if using

6. Sprinkle with feta

7.  Lastly, end with a layer of Tzatziki and some garnish (shown in the picture at the top)

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