Eggplant Caponata




I get many requests from my friends for Vegetarian dishes. This is a Sicilian recipe for a sweet and sour eggplant relish that can be served on crackers or crostini. I also use it as a sandwich spread when I make an Italian Hoagie sandwich. Take one bite and you will feel like  you are in Italy…Ciao Baby!



1 large eggplant (peeled and diced into half-inch cubes) (4 cups)

1 medium onion finely diced

1 stick celery finely diced

4 cloves garlic finely diced

1 – 16 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup of coarsely diced Manzanilla olives

1/4 cup coarsely diced black olives

1/4 cup pine-nuts

1/4 cup raisins

3 tablespoons capers

crushed red pepper to taste

Salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

Fresh basil for garnish


Heat up a large skillet with olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot add eggplant in one layer  to pan. Cook for 4 minutes (do not stir). After 4 minutes turn over the eggplant in the pan to brown the other side for an additional 4 minutes. Remove eggplant to a separate bowl and set aside. Add onions and celery to the skillet with additional oil if needed. When the onions have become translucent add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the remaining ingredients to the pan.  Cook at a low simmer for 8 minutes or until the eggplant is tender. Serve at room temperature.


Viandas con Bacalao – Salt Cod With Tropical Root Vegetables

Viandas con Bacalao  is an “Heirloom” recipe That goes way back in my families history. Whenever my mother makes this she knows that she must call me and my sister or …else! The only way to describe Vianda is to say it is like potato salad with little bits of cod. This recipe contains an assortment of Caribbean root vegetables, plantains and salt cod. Vianda is so easy to make once you have found all of the ingredients. I was able to find them all at a local Latin American food store. The final result was well worth the search. I would like to know if you think you will try this recipe so I know if I should publish more like it, you can let me know by clicking the like button or by leaving  me a comment. Thank you in advance, Renee Lalane A special thanks goes out to my mom (Ann Lalane) for teaching me this recipe. She also assisted me in the production of this blog recipe.  


2 lbs. boneless salt cod (bacalao)

1 large Red onion (cut in half and thinly sliced)

3 cups of olive oil

1 cup of red wine vinegar

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

2 green plantains

2 ripe plantains (yellow with a lot of black spots to almost all black)

1 lb. Batata ( Caribbean white sweet potato)

½ lb. piece of peeled Calabaza, (West Indian Pumpkin) cut into  2″ pieces

1 package  Goya frozen Yuca 1 package Goya  frozen Yautia 1 package Goya  frozen Ñame 1 ripe avocado sliced

Cherry tomatoes or tomato wedges for garnish    

I begin by bringing 2 pots of water to a boil(1 large pot and 1 medium size pot). Then I rinse the salt off the cod under running cold water for 1 minute. Then I place cod into a large pot of boiling water.   After 5 minutes I remove the cod from the pot. Save the water in the pot to use for boiling the root vegetables. Then I place the cod into a small bowl of cold water for 20 minutes. This will remove more salt from the cod. At this point you can taste the cod and it should still be just slightly salty.   Then I shred the cod with my fingers into small bite sized pieces and place into a small bowl.   Then I add the onions, oil, vinegar  and black pepper. Toss to combine and set aside to marinate for at least 1 hour.   Cut all the plantains in half and remove the ends. Do not peel yet.   Then I peel and quarter the Batata.  Place the all the Plantains  into the small pot of boiling water for 20 – 30 minutes or until fork tender. The reason for boiling the plantains separately is because the skin will release some of the green coloring which would discolor the other vegetables.Then I put the Batata, Calabaza, Yuca, Yautia and Ñame into the large pot of reserved water that had been used to boil the cod. Boil for 30 to 45 minutes or until fork tender. After about 30 minutes start testing the smaller pieces for doneness. They are done when a knife go in and out easily. As they are done cut into bite sized pieces and place into large bowl.   When the plantains are done remove them from the pot and when they are cool enough to handle peel and slice 1” thick. Add the plantain slices to the bowl of root vegetables.   Add the cod mixture to the bowl of boiled vegetables and toss gently. It should have a slightly glossy sheen. Add additional oil if necessary.   Place mixture into individual bowls and top with thin slices of avocado and garnish with cherry tomatoes. I like to drizzle each salad with additional olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar as they are being served.

Viandas con Bacalao

Waldorf Salad goes Floribean

I hope you enjoy this Floribbean (Caribbean/Floridian) twist on the classic Waldorf salad. It is perfect for those hot summer nights when it is too hot to cook.


½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tbsp lemon zest

Juice of half lemon

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut

2 cups poached chicken breast, 1/2” dice (Poached in water lightly seasoned with cumin, salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder)

1 apple peeled cored and sliced, cut into bite sized pieces

½ cup chopped walnuts (toasted)

½ cup fresh pineapple chunks, small

½ cup seedless grapes cut in half (red or green)

¼ cup finely diced red onions

¼ cup finely diced celery

Combine above ingredients in a bowl and chill for 1 hour. Serve over a bed of mixed greens.

Shrimp and Couscous Salad

This Mediterranean inspired salad is served cold and can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator until your guests arrive. You can adjust the portion size to make this an appetizer or a dinner and because there is no mayonnaise in this recipe it is great for outdoor parties in the summertime. If you leave out the shrimp and bacon and substitute vegetable broth, this recipe is good for your “Vegetarian friends” or you can tell them to stay home. Sorry I didn’t mean to offend anyone but I love bacon and shrimp!

Saute  peppers, onions and garlic in oil over high heat for 4 minutes until tender.

Add shrimp to pan and cook untill they turn pink (about 3 minutes).

Remove shrimp from the pan to a plate and place shrimp in the refrigerator to chill about 15 minutes.

After removing shrimp from the pan set sautéed peppers and onions aside.

Dice mangos into small pieces and set aside.

Dice tomatoes, slice scallions, chop the mint leave then set aside.

Toast sesame seeds to a golden brown in a dry pan and set aside then whisk the ingredients for the dressing together and set aside.


3 tbsp  Lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp brown mustard

1/4 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp honey

salt and pepper to taste

Place couscous in a sauce pan with oil on low heat and cook for 3 minutes to give it light golden brown then add chicken broth to pan and raise heat to high and bring to a boil.When broth begins to boil, stir and adjust heat to low.  Cover pot and cook for 12 minutes stirring occasionally. When couscous is done place into large mixing bowl.

Add reserved scallions,mint, mango, tomato, sesame seeds,the peppers and onions from the pan and the dressing. Stir to combine.

Spoon mixture into molds.

Then flip the mold onto the plate.

Top with watercress, bacon and feta cheese.

Place shrimp on top then refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.


1 cup couscous

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup diced red onions(small)

1/2 cup diced green peppers (small)

2 tbsp diced garlic

vegetable oil to use for saute

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp

1 cup diced mango

1/2 cup diced tomatoes (seeds removed)

1/2 cup scallions (thinly sliced)

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup chopped mint

1/2 cup crispy bacon bits ( about 6 slices)

1 cup watercress leaves or micro-green of choice for garnishing

1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles

lemon wedges for garnish

Warm Spinach Salad

Everyone is always writing about diets and about eating healthy, that is not what I am writing about. Although I usually like eating healthy, some days I just want to be bad. So I decided to make a really decadent salad. This salad is definitely not a healthy choice but it is so yummy.


1 cup bacon diced 1” x 1”

8 ounces baby spinach leaves

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

1 tbsp diced garlic

¼ cup cider vinegar

1 tbsp spicy mustard

1 tbsp honey

1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese crumbled

4 hard-boiled eggs


Cook bacon in a large skillet until crispy.

Remove bacon and place on paper towel to drain, leaving bacon fat in pan. Slice the mushrooms and add the mushrooms and garlic to pan and sauté for 4 minutes over medium heat.

Combine vinegar, mustard and honey with a whisk and then add to pan.

Cook for 1 minute and set pan aside. Place the spinach leaves onto 2 plates.

Divide mushroom mixture between both plates and drizzle the pan juices over the salad.

Sprinkle cheese and bacon on each plate.

Slice the hard-boiled eggs and use to garnish each salad.

Mandarin Chicken Salad

This week I was asked to give a cooking class to a group of 30 seniors at the Landings at Sea Forest. At first I didn’t know what to expect but once the class got started I saw some magic happen. As I started describing what we were making their faces lit up and they looked so excited. They started asking questions that let me know they were interested in what I was doing. After the class I gave them a small sample of what I prepared and answered questions for them. I was asked if I would do this every month and they have all given me their requests for next months meal. Volunteer it can mean so much to someone.

Mandarin Chicken Salad

 ½ cup rice wine vinegar
 ½ cup canola oil
 ½ tsp sesame oil
 ¼ cup orange juice
 1 tsp mustard
 1 tsp peanut butter
 1 tbsp honey
 ¼ tsp fresh ginger minced
 ¼ tsp fresh garlic minced
 ¼ tsp salt
 ¼ tsp black pepper

 ¼ cup Dressing
 2 tbsp soy sauce
 1 tsp corn starch
 1 lb chicken breast diced into 1” cubes

 1 bag mixed salad greens
 2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
 2 Mandarin oranges separated into wedges (Clementine or Tangerine) 
 3 scallions sliced
 Fried Chinese noodles

To make dressing, place all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined.

For the marinade separate ¼ cup of dressing and pour over diced chicken. Add soy sauce and corn starch to chicken and stir to combine. Allow chicken to rest in marinade for 15 minutes.

Sauté chicken in small batches until browned and set aside to cool.

Toss salad and cabbage in a large bowl with remaining dressing. Garnish with orange wedges, scallions, sautéed chicken and fried noodles.

GO GREEN! – Avocado and Pan Seared Shrimp Salad


This story has nothing to do with the Green Bay Packers, although I do like their odds. I have been hearing so much talk about “Going Green” these days that I decided to do my part. Today I am making avocado and pan seared shrimp over a bed of baby field greens with a citrus vinaigrette dressing. I like to use the California Hass Avocados, they are the small dark avocados with the pebbly skin, because they have a creamier and smother taste. Now I know you think I’m being funny because the avocado is green but today I did my shopping with a reusable green cloth grocery bag. My message is to “Say No to Plastic” and to “Save a Tree“ by bringing your own bag to the market. I hope you will enjoy this salad with a glass of Chardonnay and a loaf of crusty bread while you are sitting under a big old shade tree and then give it a hug for me. And please pick up your garbage before you leave. Thank you.

For the Dressing:

¼ cup orange juice

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp dried cilantro

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp capers, rinsed

For the Pan Seared Shrimp:

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried cilantro

24 jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined, tail on

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp chopped garlic

Additional Items:

1 bag baby field greens

2 California Avocados

Orange segments

sliced red onions for garnish


In a blender, combine all of the ingredients except the oil. Blend until smooth. With motor still running, add the oil in a steady stream until it is emulsified. Pour the dressing into a small bowl and then add the capers.


Arrange a hand full of greens to one side of 4 plates.

Cut the avocados in half and remove the pit.


Remove skin without damaging the avocado and then slice the ½ avocado into 6 slices from top to bottom. Using ½ of an avocado per plate. Fan slices onto the plate next to the salad. Place the orange slices between the points of the sliced avocado.

In a small bowl combine the salt, pepper, paprika and cilantro.

Dry the shrimp on a paper towel then dust spice mixture onto both sides of the shrimp.

Add oil to a hot skillet then sauté shrimp in pan for about 3 minutes per side and set aside.

Garnish the salad with the sliced red onions. Add 6 shrimp to each plate and then spoon dressing over entire dish.