Eggplant Caponata


Caponata

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!

 

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

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Mounds Bites


This is a fun candy to make with the family if you can keep them from eating the candies as they go.

  • 1/4 pound butter
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½  cups semi-sweet  or bitter-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

In bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add coconut, milk, and vanilla; stir until blended. Chill for 1 hour or until firm.

Use scoop to make 1” balls. Insert a toothpick in each ball. Place balls on baking sheet; freeze.

Use a double boiler to melt chocolate.

Then using toothpicks as handles dip frozen balls into melted chocolate. I also use a spoon to assist me in covering the balls then I place  them onto a cookie sheet with the tooth picks in the upright position.

Chill until firm (about 1 hour) in the refrigerator.

Remove picks from balls and then dip fork into melted chocolate then drizzle chocolate on top of the candy to cover the hole where you removed the toothpick.

Makes about 48 candies

Soft Pretzel Hot Dog Buns


These Pretzel buns are great because they will hold up to whatever you like to put on your dog. They are worth a try even if all you like on your dog is mustard!

 

Ingredients:

1 cup water (110 degrees)

1 tsp sugar

1 packet yeast

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 ¾ cups bread flour

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 quarts water

½ cup baking soda

1 egg white

Toppings (coarse salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic or onion flakes)

 

Process:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and place rack in middle of oven. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the water, sugar and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir o dissolve the yeast and sugar. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. At this point you should have foam on the top. This lets you know your yeast is good. Add the oil to yeast mixture. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and brown sugar. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture and mixture and combine at lowest speed using the dough hook. When the flour has been completely combined, set mixer on #2 and allow the mixer to knead he dough for 8 minutes. Turn off the mixer and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place on your counter. After 30 minutes remove the dough from the bowl and form into a large ball. Flatten ball into a large disk.

Cut the disk into 8 pieces like a pizza.

Roll each piece into a log about 8” long.

Place logs on prepared sheet pan and cover with a damp towel and allow them to rise for 30 minutes. In a large pot bring the water to a slow boil. Add the baking soda slowly to the boiling water. Remove logs (one at a time from baking sheet) and place into the boiling water for 20 seconds. Flip them over in the water and continue to boil for an additional 20 seconds. Remove from the pot and return to the baking sheet. After doing this with each of the logs brush the top of each log with the egg whites.

Then sprinkle with salt or your choice of topping. I like using salt for that original pretzel taste. Bake the buns for 20 minutes or until they are a dark mahogany brown. Cool the buns on a rack for 30 minutes.

Makes 8 hot dog buns

Mini Potato Knish


Living in Florida has many benefits (ie: weather, beaches and no snow) but it also has some challenges. When I lived in New York if I wanted a Knish I walked down the block to the local deli and got one. Today I had a craving for a Knish and  there wasn’t a NY deli in sight. Then I decided if I really wanted a Knish I had to make it myself. This recipe is far from a traditional Knish but I was pleasantly surprised with the finished product.

Ingredients:

5 medium-sized potatoes (peeled and boiled until fork tender)

1 cup finely diced white onion

1 clove garlic finely minced

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2  chicken bouillon cube (Knorr brand extra-large)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp corn starch

1 large egg

1 package Fillo sheets(defrosted in the fridge over night)

2 sticks butter melted

Mash the boiled potatoes then place potatoes into the bowl of a stand mixer and allow to cool. Saute onions, garlic, pepper and the bouillon cube (I like Knorr brand cubes because they are soft and easy to mix in with the onions) in vegetable oil until the onions are clarified.  Add onion mixture to potatoes and combine on slow speed. Then add corn starch and egg. Continue to mix until the egg is fully absorbed.

Place potato mixture into a one gallon plastic bag.

Keep the Fillo dough under a damp towel to prevent the sheets from drying out until ready to be used.

Remove 1 sheet of Fillo from under the towel and brush the middle third of the sheet with butter .

Fold the right hand third of Fillo sheet over the buttered third. Brush butter on top of the piece you just folded over.

Fold the left hand side over the rest and brush with butter.

Cut away the corner of the plastic bag so you can use it like a piping bag.

Squeeze  out about 1 tsp. of potato mixture onto one end of the buttered Fillo.

Fold the bottom left corner over the potatoes and line up to the right side.

Then fold the point up.

Keep on folding like a flag until you reach the end.

Place on baking sheet. brush the tops with butter. and cover with a damp towel.

While you are making the Knishes  keep your towel damp by using a spray bottle. Place Knishes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes.  The Knishes  can be frozen and baked at a later time.

Sweet and Salty Peanut Scones


 

These scones are a delicious way to have breakfast on the go. They are also a great snack when you need a little something to munch on between meals.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup ice-cold diced butter
  • 2 cups oatmeal (quick cook)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup butterscotch morsels
  • ½ cup salted  cocktail peanuts
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg white

 

Process:

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and place rack in middle of oven. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the flour, butter, baking powder, baking soda and salt in food processor and pulse until butter is pea sized.

Place flour mixture in a large bowl and add oatmeal, sugar, butterscotch morsels and peanuts then stir with a spoon to combine.

In a separate small bowl combine the milk, egg and vanilla with a whisk. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until the dough just comes together.

 The dough should be shaggy and barely hold together at this point. Resist the temptation to over mix the dough or the scones will be tough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface then cut the dough in half and form into 2 balls. Pat each ball lightly until you have 2 discs about 6 inches round and about 1 ½  inches thick. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Remove discs from the refrigerator and place side by side on prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with egg whites. Cut each circle into 6 pie pieces (think of a clock face and cut from 12 to 6, from 10 to 4 and from 2 to 8) but do not separate the pieces. This keeps the points from burning while baking. 

Brush the top of the scones with egg whites. Bake the scones for 17 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before separating the pieces then move the pieces to a baking rack until completely cooled.

Makes 12 scones.

Puerto Rican Pastelillos de Carne (Empanadas)


 

Pastelillos de Carne are meat filled pastries that are a popular in Puerto Rico and throughout Latin America. They are also called Empanadas although Pastilillos in Puerto Rico usually have a thinner and crisper  shell than an Empanda. The filling varies depending on the country. This is my mother’s recipe with a few adjustments I have made over the years.

 

Picadillo Filling for Pastilillos:

 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

½ cup green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

½ cup onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried cilantro

½  teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper  

½  tablespoon cumin

1 pound lean ground beef

16 manzanilla olives, stuffed with pimento, sliced in half

8 ounces tomato sauce

¼ cup raisins

2 packages Goya Discos Grandes (large pastry shells)

 

Recipe:  Heat oil in sauté pan over medium low heat. Add oil, green peppers, onions, garlic, oregano, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add add olives, tomato sauce and raisins to the pan then cover and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat. Place ground beef into a second pan and cook over medium heat and stir occasionally to break up the chunks of beef until meat is slightly browned and all of the pink is gone. Place the meat in a colander to remove excess liquid. After draining add the beef to the onion and pepper mixture and simmer for an additional 20 minutes over low heat. When done put the picadillo mixture on one end of a sheet pan then place pan on kitchen counter. Use a kitchen towel, to elevate one end of the pan. This will allow excess oil to drain from the picadillo. Then refrigerate the mixture to cool for at least 20 minutes.

Place shell on flat surface and wet outer edge with water. Place 2 large tablespoons of filling in center of a disc and fold disc in half over the filling, making sure the edges meet. To get a flaky crust avoid over filling your empanadas.

Then using a fork seal the edges tightly.  Pan fry Pastilillos in 2 inches of oil until golden then drain on paper towels.

Another option is they can be egg washed and baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden.

Happy Halloween – Witch Finger Cookies


 

I was looking for a Halloween recipe I could use for the Senior cooking class I teach and I came across this recipe. They loved it so I thought I would share it with you. It is not only creepy but it tastes good too.

1 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole blanched almonds
1 tube red cake decorator gel

 

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add egg, almond and vanilla extracts. It will look like the batter broke but keep beating until it comes back together and looks like butter again

 Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and beat just until moistened. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 pre-heat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or lightly grease them.)

 Working with one-quarter of the dough at a time and keeping the remainder refrigerated, roll heaping teaspoonful of dough into finger shape for each cookie.

Press almond firmly into 1 end for nail.

Squeeze in center to create “knuckle” shape. Using a small knife, make slashes in several places to complete the look of the knuckle.

 Place on prepared baking sheets and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pale golden. Let cool for 3 minutes. Lift up the almond and squeeze red decorator gel onto nail bed and press almond back in place, so gel oozes out from underneath. If you want to get really gross, you can also make slashes in the finger and fill them with “blood.” I also dip the cut ends in red gel.

 Remove from baking sheets and let cool on racks (and let the red gel set).

For added gore I wrap each finger with sterile gauze and squeeze some more red gel to simulate blood.

This recipe (with a few modifications) was featured in a post on The Recipe Girl blog: Kid Friendly Halloween Recipes.