Wednesday, May 27, 2020


AKA Braciola or Brazole and pronounced as
such, although the 'Z' has a soft sound.
I am on a real Italian kick! I don't think I've ever made Braciole before so did a lot of looking online for recipes and selected a little of this and a little of that from each recipe and came up with this one, which is not completely traditional, but close. As with so many "classic" dishes there are many variations. Some recipes use prosciutto or salami for stuffing inside, but I chose pancetta in the filling, as I love the fat and beautiful flavor. I also thought the pancetta would lend a juicier final product, and it did. I chose to use Round Steak as it is already cut thin (about 1/8 inch) and is in individual serving sizes. You may also use flank steak for one big roll, sirloin pounded thin, or veal. Some recipes even use pork, but I would think that is more like a Porchetta, which I am making next week! Herbs may also vary, but parsley is essential.
The flour-bin, top right, was my grandmothers.

4 slices Top Round Steak*
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Enough Pancetta to cover the meat slices in one layer
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup half and half or milk
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan
1/2 cup chopped Parsley, chopped; more for garnish
1/2 cup Arugula/Spinach combination, chopped
String for tying

2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
12 Baby Portabella mushrooms, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef broth
2 fat Tbsp. tomato paste

* I should have cut my pieces of steak so they were even rectangles. It would have made the rolling easier and final presentation prettier.
Liberally salt and pepper both sides of the beef. Cover each slice with pancetta. In a medium bowl add bread crumbs, half and half, grated cheese, diced onion, parsley, arugula/spinach, salt and pepper. Stir combining thoroughly to moisten bread crumbs. Spread a thin layer of the stuffing over each piece of beef.
Roll tightly, tucking the stuffing in as you go.
Tie the rolls with kitchen string. Because the beef was unevenly cut and they were so tiny my tying is quite amateurish. I even had to stick in a few toothpicks to keep them together!

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom skillet until almost smoking and brown the beef rolls on all sides, about 6 minutes. Toss in the garlic.
Remove the meat from the pan and add 2 Tbsp. butter. Add mushrooms to melted butter. Saute the mushrooms for about 5 minutes to release juices. Add flour to the pan and cook 2 minutes. Whisk wine into the mushroom mixture and make sure you scrape up all the pan drippings. Season with salt and pepper. Then add beef broth and tomato paste. Stir to combine well. Remove the string from the rolls. Add the meat back into the sauce. Reduce heat and cook at barely a simmer for 40-45 minutes spooning sauce over the beef rolls.
I served our Braciole with Portabella mushroom Risotta and smoked asparagus.
Try this recipe and let me know if you like it as much as we did! I could've drank a bowl of that sauce on its own.


Sunday, May 17, 2020


I have blogged this recipe in the past, but here it is again with a twist. Spring Rolls make a fabulous, light simple supper on a warm summer night.


I didn't have all the correct ingredients, but decided to wing it as I was having a serious Spring Roll hankering. I had no rice vermicelli, no basil-Thai or otherwise, no cilantro, but did have enough ingredients on hand to make a tasty roll.
Drop rice wrapper into a bowl of cold water for a few seconds.
Lie flat on a damp dish cloth.
Add filling along edge of the rice wrapper.
Fold in the 2 edges at long side.
Gently roll tucking in ingredients as you go.
If you tear the rice wrapper, simply double wrap with another moistened wrapper.
Place wrapped rolls on a damp dish towel as the rice wrapper dries out very quickly.
In place of the rice vermicelli I used some Jasmine rice that I had cooked the previous night in Asian spices. I added chives both inside the roll and as a garnish and also garnished with sesame seeds. I included avocado slices inside, which added richness. Bottom line: Wrap whatever ingredients you have on hand that have an Asian flair. For the sauce I mixed: Fish sauce, teriyaki, soy sauce, Hoisin, minced garlic, and a little red pepper flake. I served with Edamame beans lightly steamed and then chilled with soy sauce.

Next, on to a surprisingly easy dessert.
Our neighbors, Lori and Brian Itule, have been so generous over the last few weeks of 'Staying at Home' by bringing us lovely fresh produce. Last week they included a huge butternut squash in the mix of fruit and veg. I like to roast butternut squash in the skin as it is so difficult to peel. My husband, Jerry, has a sweet tooth so I was roasting in cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, a little nutmeg, maple syrup and salt, all topped with thick slices of butter. It smelled just like a pumpkin pie so Jerry suggested I turn this into pie rather than a savory (which it really wasn't anyway!) side. I found this recipe online, but changed a couple ingredients. Instead of 3/4 cup white sugar I used a combo of brown sugar and maple syrup. I also increased the quantities of the sweet spices.


1 medium butternut squash or 2 small butternut squash
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup, plus more for baking squash
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, plus more for baking squash
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, plus more for baking squash
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, plus more...well, you get it!
Salt and butter for baking the squash.

9 inch deep dish pie crust (I cheated again and used a frozen crust.)

All ingredients are in the blender!

As you can see I had a little extra filling.
The Butternut squash 'puddings' will only take
about 30 minutes to bake.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half and remove the seeds. Cut in even chunks so it all roasts at the same time. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Very lightly drizzle some maple syrup over the squash. Top with slices of butter on each piece. Roast in the oven until squash is very tender; about 1 hour. Turn once during the baking. Cool completely and then remove the skin.

Place the cooled squash (a generous 2 cups) in your blender or food processor and add all other ingredients. Blend/process until very smooth.

Pour in prepared pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until center is nearly set. It will still be a little wobbly. I covered my crust with foil so it would not get too brown.

Cool on a wire rack.


Keeping JoJo safe!

Thursday, May 7, 2020


Other than loving the Beatles music since they first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in 1965 (I was 10, and, if there, would have been one of those pre-teens screaming in the audience!), I don't know a lot about them as people. For example, I didn't realize that Paul McCartney and his family became vegetarians in the mid-70's. Paul's wife, American-born Linda, was a huge supporter of animal rights. An accomplished photographer she was also a great cook, cookbook author and in 1991 launched her own line of vegetarian frozen meals. So, not sure if this is her recipe or her husbands, but know for sure it is rich and delicious! Thanks to my good friend, Debby Vis, I learned about this recipe.
I used a store-bought frozen pie crust, which made putting this together very easy. Because it is not in a traditional tart pan it probably should more accurately be called a quiche.

9 inch tart pan lined with pie dough
9 oz. baby spinach
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I used an aged Vermont Cabot.)
1/4 cup Pecorino Reggiano (This was my addition. Not necessary with all that cheddar, but I thought the nuttiness would be a nice addition and it was.)
2 whole eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
2/3 cup fat-free half and half (I used full fat. Better flavor and with all that butter and cheese who's counting calories?)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt/Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place lined tart pan in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. I placed mine on a cookie sheet to prevent oven spills once filled. I also gently wrapped the ends of my crust with foil so it would not burn.
Gently cook spinach with half the butter until wilted. Remove spinach from pan and chop.
Heat the additional 2 Tbsp. butter and cook onions until soft, but not browned.
Spread the spinach and onion over the bottom of the pie crust.
In a processor or blender, blend eggs, egg yolks, cream, mustard and seasonings.
Stir in cheese then pour over the spinach and onion and return to the oven for 20-25 minutes until top is golden brown and knife comes out clean.
Turn off heat and leave in oven for 5 minutes.
Not being vegetarians I served with a fried chicken breast, chimichurri sauce, and sliced cherry tomatoes. For the chimichurri I used mainly parsley, but added a little fresh chive and sage. 1 garlic clove, olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Salt/pepper and some red pepper flake. Blend together until sauce forms.

During the last few weeks my husband and I, like many of you, have been spending more time at home because of the coronavirus. I have been doing even more cooking than usual, as you most likely have, as well. Here are a couple ideas for dessert and a twist on a Cobb Salad that I have made recently.

Classic Cobb Salad traditionally contains:
Diced chicken breast
Diced tomatoes
Avocado slices
Blue Cheese
Hard boiled Eggs
Crumbled Bacon
All served on a bed of Romaine lettuce, generally with an herb vinaigrette, but if using Blue Cheese I prefer it with a lot of chunky Blue Cheese dressing.

I didn't have Blue Cheese or Chicken so substituted Shrimp for the Chicken and Feta cheese for the Blue, topped with a light citrus vinaigrette.
This one doesn't need a recipe either and if you have fresh fruit, plain yogurt and Grape-Nuts cereal on hand you can make it tonight.

For 2 portions, I sweetened 1/2 cup Greek style plain yogurt with a little honey. Taste to your liking. Slice about 1 cup (or more) fresh fruit. I used strawberries and sprinkled with a little sugar to exude juices. About 1/4 cup Grape-Nuts.

Layer half the yogurt, Grape-Nuts and fruit in a wine or parfait glass. Repeat layers and enjoy!

And to close today, here are two very easy recipes from the South Beach cookbook. I did not have part-skim Ricotta cheese so used the full-fat that I had on hand. Other variations include lemon juice/zest and almond extract with sliced almonds. Again, use what you have on hand!
Whisk together 1 cup Ricotta Cheese. Add 2 packages Stevia or other sugar substitute and 1-2 tsp. vanilla. I like it extra vanilla-y so used 2. Serve immediately or can be chilled in the fridge.

For the Chocolate use 1 cup Ricotta, 2 packages Stevia, 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 rounded Tbsp. of Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder.