Who Likes Puffy Pancakes?! (Who Doesn’t?)

Here’s an impressive pancake everyone will love. Impressive pancake, you ask? Yup!

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Apple Soufflé Pancake

I’ve liked this puffy pancake since my grandmother made one pretty similar to mine,. satisfying my appreciation for eggs and fruit together.And because I usually always have eggs and apples around, this easy-to-make dish is a familiar one at our dinner table—and shows up for other meals, as well.

Serves 4

3 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced, such as Gala, Rome or Honey Crisp

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

Maple syrup, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Whisk the eggs with the milk and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Whisk in the flour and salt until smooth.

Melt the butter in an oven-safe skillet over medium heat and when it begins to bubble, add the apples and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, tossing very gently. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar and the cinnamon, if using, over the apples and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer or until tender.

Pour the batter into the skillet and transfer it to the oven. Bake for 10 to12 minutes or until the mixture sets and puffs slightly. Serve hot from the oven, sprinkled with more cinnamon, if desired, and with maple syrup.

Granola for a Before-School and After-School Snacks!

Looking for something dellicious, filling and good-for-you to offer your kids now that school is back in session? Look no further. Homemade granola fits all criteria!

Making granola is more about shopping than cooking. Buy your favorite dried fruit and nuts, grab some high-quality oats, toss it all together with honey or another sweetener and bake it. Done! Easy? You bet!

And so much better than storebought. I think  you’ll agree.Image

Granola is a good breakfast or light meal, with or without milk, but it shines as a snack. Packed in small  plastic tubs or plastic bags, it travels well in backpacks and zippered pockets. It is super good for you and satisfies a hungry person in a few bites. What’s not to like?

This is one of my favorites. My kids like it, too. Guess you could call it MY signature granola.

Here’s one of my favorites.

Apricot, Honey, and Almond Granola   

I am crazy about this crunchy granola—and I’m pretty proud about how it turned out.  I took some to my trainer when I was developing recipes for the book and while I dutifully ran on the treadmill, she ate the entire bag! I was happy to see I am not the only one with zero willpower.

Makes about 6 cups

21/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup diced dried apricots

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly spray a large, rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Toss together the oats, apricots, almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut, and raisins.

In a small pot, bring the honey, butter, and brown sugar to a boil. Stir to blend and then remove from the heat and spoon the honey mixture over the fruit and nuts. Mix lightly.

Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring once, until lightly golden brown.

Let the granola cool completely on the baking sheet before serving. Store the granola in a airtight container.

For an Easy Weeknight Meal….

How about chicken breasts? 

Really? you say. Again?!

Yes! And these are so easy and so full flavored your family will swoon. (Maybe “swoon” is over the top, but they will be very happy with this meal!)

Here you go!

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Lemon-Rosemary Chicken Breasts

When it comes to flavor, these chicken breasts are not shy. They literally are stuffed with lemon, garlic, and rosemary, and as they bake, they fill the kitchen with a heady fragrance. For serving, the only thing the breasts need is a good douse of extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves 4

4 split bone-in chicken breast halves with the skin

3 lemons, thinly sliced

12 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

8 sprigs fresh rosemary

3/4 cup olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Loosen the skin of each chicken breast by inserting your fingers between the skin and the meat. Slide 2 lemon slices, 1 whole clove of sliced garlic, and 1 sprig of rosemary under the skin of each breast.

Arrange the breasts in a shallow glass, ceramic, or other nonreactive dish and pour the oil over the chicken.

Remove the rosemary leaves from the remaining 4 sprigs of rosemary and scatter the rosemary leaves and remaining lemon and garlic slices over the chicken. Cover the dish and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Without removing the lemon slices on top of the chicken breasts, transfer the breasts to a clean baking pan. (The lemon slices are delicious once cooked, so you don’t want to  discard them before roasting.) Season lightly with salt and pepper and roast for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. (The time will depend on the size of the breast: they will be 180°F at the thickest part.) Serve hot from the oven, drizzled with a little more olive oil.

Never Too Many Tomatoes!

How’s this for a gorgeous hors d’oeuvres?

crostini tomatoes #4
This is so, so easy and a good dish to make while you can still get farm-ripe tomatoes. Toast the crostini and roast the tomatoes ahead of time. Easy!  Assemble when your guests arrive!

I don’t have a recipes for these, but that’s okay. I can “talk” you through it.

Just halve a few pints of colorful cherry tomatoes (if you can find heirloom cherry tomatoes, use them!), toss them with olive oil, a drizzle of honey, fresh thyme leaves, and salt and pepper. Spread them in a shallow pan and roast in a 350°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until juicy and soft.

BEFORE ROASTING
crostini tomatoes #3
AFTER ROASTING
crostini tomatoes #2

In the meantime, slice a baguette into slices (between ¼ and ½ inch thick). Lay them on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. The salt and pepper are key. Seasoning the oil- dribbled crostini with s & p before toasting means the difference between good crostini and great crostini. Toast them in the oven for a few minutes, just until lightly golden. Let them cool before using.

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When the crostini are cool, spread them with soft ricotta and then top with the roasted tomatoes, which can be warm from the oven or cool. Serve and watch them disappear in a matter of minutes! Amazing!

By the way, I saved a few of the seasoned tomatoes from last night’s batch and tossed them with some scrambling eggs this morning. Yum!

 

Easy, Easy, Easy for Labor Day

Looking for something easy and summery to serve this weekend? Look no further than this wonderful cold soup made with cucumbers and grapes. You';ll love it! And so will your guests.

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Spanish Gazpacho

Some folks call this white gazpacho; I call it Spanish Gazpacho because of the sherry vinegar, which should be the best you can find. Whatever your preferred moniker, please give it a try; you’ll love it! Like most gazpachos, there is no cooking, no tending, no fussing. Mix everything together in a blender, season with salt and pepper, and go for it. Everyone is wowed by the unexpected flavors and refreshing coolness.

Serves 4 to 6

1 cup seedless green grapes

1/2 cup sour cream

1/3 cup sliced blanched almonds

3 slices white bread, crusts removed and cubed

2 cucumbers, peeled and diced

1 shallot, sliced

11/2 cups cold water

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir gently to mix. Blend in batches until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Process the soup in a blender in batches. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Clams and Pasta? Amazing!

If you’re like me, you probably feel that summer and fresh seafood go hand-in-hand. I’m fortunate to live near an actual coastline, so the clams we get are often straight off the boat, but considering how quickly food is transported these days, you can find fresh, briny-tasting clams just about anywhere. Be aware of the vendor selling you the clams and if he’s reliable, you’re good to go. As I say in the recipe note, don’t skimp on the parsley. It helps to “make” the dish and if it’s fresh from your garden or the farmer’s market, all the better. 

clams and pasta

Farfalle with Zucchini and Clams

When I travel in Italy, I order this over and over and am never disappointed. You can skip the thyme if you want, but don’t skimp on the parsley. And just before serving be sure to finish the dish with extra-virgin olive oil. My best advice for this is to be sure to start with a big enough pot for the clams, zucchini, and pasta.

Serves 6

1 pound farfalle pasta

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

4 shallots, sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

4  zucchini (1 1/2 pounds total)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

2 1/2  pounds littleneck clams

1/4 cup clam juice

1/2 cup white wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 to 1/2  teaspoon red chili flakes (the amount depends on your taste)

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Trim the ends of the zucchini, slice in half lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch-thick half-moon slices.
  2. In a large sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the shallots and  garlic, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender.
  3. Raise the heat to medium and cook the zucchini and thyme for about 5 to 6 minutes or until the zucchini is just tender.
  4. Add the clams, clam juice and white wine, cover tightly, and cook over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until the clams open. Stir the clams and zucchini once or twice during steaming.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and transfer the pasta to the pan with the clams and zucchini. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, butter, chili flakes, and parsley and toss gently medium heat until the butter melts and the ingredients are nicely mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Haven’t Grilled Steak This Summer? What Are You Waiting For?!

Flank steak is one of my very favorite cuts of beef, especially for grilling. It’s leaner than some others but has amazing flavor and a pleasing coarse texture that is hard to find in other steaks. Sometimes called London broil, it’s a flat-ish piece of meat that can be stuffed and rolled, although most of the time I grill it flat out (the best way, if you ask me).

If you can’t find flank steak or want to try something a little different, try skirt or hanger steak. These two cuts are close to flank in terms of flavor and texture. Skirt steak is a long, flat cut with more flavor than tenderness. The same goes for hanger steak, which has gotten a lot attention in recent years. The ungainly steak is also called butcher’s steak because, the story goes, the double-lobed cut connected by a particularly tough sinew was prized by butchers for its flavor even though its homely appearance made it tough to sell. While hangers are delicious when cooked right, I prefer skirt steak as a stand-in for flank steak.

All recipes for flank steak instruct you to “slice the meat across the grain.” If that directive baffles you, consider that the meat is made up of long, relatively tough fibers that must be intersected with a knife to shorten them and make the meat tender enough to chew easily. You can see these fibers in the meat. To cut a flank steak correctly all you must to do is slice it on the bias, the diagonal, across those long fibers.

Here’s one of my fave recipes. Happy grilling!

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Yogurt and Spice Grilled Flank Steak

Vermillion, a restaurant near Grand Central Station in New York City, serves flank steak with a yogurt–sour cream marinade that is really delicious. I came up with my own version and am pleased as punch with the outcome. The spices mixed with the tartness of the sour cream and yogurt blend perfectly with rich flank or skirt steak. Whenever you grill steak, it’s important to watch it carefully so that it does not overcook. You can always put it back on the grill if it’s too rare but you can’t retrieve its juiciness if it’s overdone.

Serves 4 to 6

 

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup plain yogurt

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground curry powder

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

2 pounds flank or skirt steak

 

Mix together the sour cream, yogurt, cumin, curry powder, garlic, and jalapeño.

Lay the steak in a glass, ceramic, or other nonreactive dish. Pour the marinade over the steak and turn the steak a few times to coat well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Turn the steak once or twice during marinating.

Spray the grilling grate of a gas or charcoal grill with vegetable oil spray. Preheat the grill to medium hot.

Lift the steak from the marinade and wipe the excess from the meat. Grill the meat for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare, or until done to your liking.

Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before slicing across the grain and serving.

How to Dress Up Zucchini Fritters

 When I came up with these fritters, I was very pleased with myself. Zucchini fritters = crispy, tender, mild, pleasing. What’s not to love about these? Plus I love to grill zucchini, which is always a perfect backdrop for stronger flavors. Like smoked salmon and crème fraîche! Yum!

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Of course, with a little salt and pepper, they are delightful on their own. Nibble a few with a glass of wine and the sunset. Serve two or three alongside grilled chicken or steak.

Or transform them into this simple yet oh-so-elegant hors d’oeuvre made with smoked salmon.

Both smoked salmon and crème fraîche are glorious extravagances and while their flavors are not overwhelming, each on its own is striking. When paired, they are captivating.

I took this celestial pairing and put it atop freshly made fritters. The result? What do you think?!

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Zucchini Fritters with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche

 

Makes 15 to 16 fritters; serves 6 to 8

 

3 small zucchini

3 large eggs

¼ cup all-purpose flour

Grated zest of ½ lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons canola oil

About ½ pound smoked salmon, thinly sliced  

About 7 tablespoons crème fraîche    

6 to 7 fresh mint or basil leaves (best from your own garden!)

 

  1. Grate the zucchini on a box grater and transfer to a bowl. Add the eggs, flour, and lemon zest and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Drop 2 tablespoons of the batter into the oil for each fritter. Do not crowd the pan.
  3. Press gently on the batter to flatten the fritters and fry for about 2 minutes on each side or until crispy and browned. Drain on paper towels. Season lightly with more salt and pepper.  
  4. Arrange the warm fritters on a serving platter and top each with a slice or two of salmon. Spoon about a teaspoon of crème fraîche on top of the salmon, garnish with mint or basil leaves and serve.

 

 

Pancake Time!

Do your kids like pancakes for breakfast? (Dumb question, I guess. Of course they do!) Do they think these late summer mornings are custom-made for pancake breakfasts? Or even pancake suppers? Try these light little pancakes. They will love them — as will you!

Gray and pancakes

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes

Lightly kissed with lemon zest and lemon extract, these pancakes are seductively delicate and airy and a welcome change from the expected. A nice change from the usual pancake fare.

Serves 6; makes about 30 pancakes

 

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

21/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup ricotta cheese

11/4 cups whole milk

11/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

3/4 teaspoon lemon extract

2 large eggs, separated

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

 

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the ricotta, milk, lemon zest, lemon extract, and egg yolks. Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

In a clean, dry bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the ricotta mixture and let the batter rest for 3 minutes.

Lightly spray a griddle or large skillet with vegetable spray and heat it over medium heat.

Drop large tablespoons of batter onto the griddle and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. The pancakes will measure about 3 inches across. To prevent burning, don’t let the griddle get too hot. The pancakes will look slightly dull and a few bubbles will form on the surface when they are ready to flip.

Serve dusted with confectioners’ sugar or keep the pancakes warm in the oven.

Pasta with Pesto: Totally Addictive

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When we see the word “pesto,” most of us think of basil and pinenuts. This pesto is made with parsley and walnuts instead, and when tossed with pasta is close to addictive.

I can’t say it forcefully enough: This is sooooo good!!

Try it. No one will be disappointed.

Pasta with Walnut Ricotta Pesto

I find a lot of pasta dishes addictive and this one pretty much tops the list. It’s hard to let even a little bit remain clinging to the side of the pan. The first time I made this, I didn’t tell my family that there were walnuts in the sauce, fearing they would turn up their noses if they knew about them. They cleaned their plates and asked for seconds. We all love the slight crunch. And the glorious flavor and texture!

Serves 4 to 6

Walnut Pesto

 

11/2 cups walnut pieces, toasted

2 garlic cloves

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Pasta

 

1 pound pasta, such as penne, farfalle, or orecchiette

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

3 ounces prosciutto, very thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

To make the pesto: In the bowl of a food processor, process the walnuts and garlic until finely ground. Scrape into a serving bowl and add the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, parsley, and salt. Mix well and set aside at room temperature.

To make the pasta: Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Before draining, reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the pesto and mix well. Mix the pasta water into the pasta if the pesto seems too thick, adding it a tablespoon at a time.

Gently toss in the butter, peas, and prosciutto. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve right away.