September Edition is here!

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Happy September!

Can you feel it?  Are you detecting some fall vibes?  Have you noticed the sun coming up a little later and disappearing a bit sooner?  I have,  and I’m experiencing some mixed emotions.  I mean, heck, I love summer, and the shorter days and cooler weather can only mean one thing; winter is coming! Yikes!

But to be completely honest, fall has always been my favorite season.  The heat and humidity of summer eases and is replaced by chilly nights and crisp, cool days.  The harvest of our gardens and farms is changing over from green beans, tomatoes, melons and zucchini to the hardy cool weather crops; pumpkins, squash, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, beets, apples and grapes.  

September transitions us into fall.  With the summer produce that’s still available I’m sharing recipes for Italian Vegetable Soup with Brown Rice, Panzanella Salad, and Basil Pesto. (The Basil Pesto is also a key ingredient in two more dishes this month, the Cain & Abel Panini and Pesto Potatoes).  Breakfast Sweet Potato Hash with Basted Eggs utilizes the versatile sweet potato, a fall favorite that is now abundant, and is a healthy, hearty way to power the first half of your day. (It is Barry’s and my favorite breakfast dish!). 

You will rush to the kitchen to makeFresh Pear Cupcakes or Bundt Cake with Lemon & Honey Brown Butter Glaze, a delectable way to use pears, a fall staple. For your coffee or tea break enjoy Chocolate Chip Scones, tender, light, and decadent.  And finally, after searching for twenty years to find a recipe for Steak Pizzaiola that my husband would put his stamp of approval on, I found it!  (Check out the video for the whole story!) 

Mark your calendars! This month we are hosting the very first fund-raising cooking class on Friday, September 16!  It is free of charge, open to the first forty people who sign up.  It will be held at Cabinets Plus here in Palatine, IL, the site of some of my videos (you will enjoy viewing all of the lovely kitchens and baths on display there). We are teaming up with my friend, Laura Blood, who works with Arbonne ( a company that produces pure, safe & beneficial personal care products), to raise awareness and funds for Rahabs Daughters (headquartered in Barrington). 

This organization works tirelessly to rescue victims of human trafficking all over the world.  They are truly a worthy cause, and a portion of all of the sales made that night, either subscriptions to Feast or Arbonne products, will go to them. The food prepared during the demo will be served, as well as some other dishes from the magazine.  Enjoy a facial and see some make-overs!  What a great opportunity to bring a friend who is new to Feast of Eden Cooks at Home, or would enjoy some pampering! Our goal is to start at 6:30 and have you on your way by 8:30. 

This will be a great time-you don’t want to miss it!    Reserve your spot by emailing me at cheflisa@comcast.net  I will need your name and phone number to save your seat! (If we run out of seats, we will schedule more classes in the months to come!)

There is so much more to share, but I think I should stop here.  I so appreciate you all; thank you for welcoming me to your inbox and lives!

Blessings and……….

I’ll see you later, not so hungry!

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Chocolate Chip Scones

How about a warm, chocolatey, tender scone with that cup of coffee or tea?  Forget about those dense "hockey puck" scones you find at some bakeries.  These are absolutely delectable, tender inside, with just a little crunch on the outside from the turbinado sugar sprinkled on top.  You may want more than one coffee break the day you make these! (This is adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten)  Makes 8 large scones

2 cups unbleached or all-purpose flour

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

6 ounces unsalted butter, very cold, diced

1/2 cup cold cream

2 extra-large eggs, cold and lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon cream for egg wash

Turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of large peas.

Transfer to a large bowl and toss in the chocolate chips.  Combine the cream, eggs and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat until well-combined.  Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl and combine with a large spoon or spatula until there are no streaks of flour and the dough is well-mixed.  Do not over-mix! 

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and using your floured hands and a bench scraper, turn the dough over, flour, then flip back over. (This dough is very tender, so be gentle and work quickly to avoid creating tough scones.) Quickly pat the dough out into a circle about 10-11" across, flouring the board and the top as needed.  Flour a chef's knife and cut into 8 equal triangles, flouring the knife between cuts. Using a broad spatula, transfer the scones to parchment lined baking sheets.  Brush all over with the egg wash and sprinkle liberally with Turbinado sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until well-brown and crusty outside, and cooked through.

Remove from baking sheet to a cooling rack.  Serve warm!

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Panzanella

   Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella originated in Tuscany, and is basically a salad of tomatoes and stale bread (lots of other variations abound).  When I first discovered it I thought, "not for me, I don't want to eat soggy bread and vegetables!".  However, I decided to try Ina Garten's recipe and it transformed my opinion! This is my adaption of that recipe, and it is my absolute favorite late-summer salad.  It is full of colorful summertime veggies, tossed with toasted croutons and a flavorful vinaigrette.  I hope you will give it a try; I know you will love it!

4 cups of 1-inch cube of stale, dense baguette (sourdough or Italian)

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 vine-ripened tomatoes, a mix of colors, Heirlooms are my favorite, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 large English cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 each, red and yellow bell pepper, seeded, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 small red onion, sliced paper thin

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly-chopped

2 Tablespoons drained capers (optional)

Preheat oven to 400-degrees.

Toss bread cubes with olive oil and the 3/4 teaspoon salt until evenly coated.  Spread out on a sheet pan.  Bake for 12-18 minutes, checking periodically after 10 minutes, or until crisp and browned.  Remove and set aside to cool while preparing the rest of the salad.

In a large bowl place the fresh oregano, garlic, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, black pepper and whisk well.  While whisking, stream in the olive oil and mix until creamy.  Add the prepared vegetables and toss well.  Add the bread cubes and toss well.  Let sit for about thirty minutes before serving.

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Basil Pesto Potatoes

   Pesto Potatoes

Pesto Potatoes

This is a fast and easy.way to dress up the lowly red potato! Whip up the Basil Pesto in this months edition, then toss it along with a few flavor enhancers with the warm potatoes. Sprinkle with some additional Parmesan, pine nuts & lemon zest, and enjoy. This is a nice side with Steak Pizzaiola or Grilled Chicken Breasts.  Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed clean and sliced 1/4-inch thick

1/2 cup prepared Basil Pesto

1 small shallot, finely-minced

1 Tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed and minced

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest plus more for garnish

2 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts, reserve a few for garnish

Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for garnish, optional

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water and add 2 teaspoons of salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and cook until just tender (the tip of a knife will pierce the potato easily).  Drain and place in a mixing bow; allow to cool for about 20 minutes.

Combine pesto, shallot, capers, zest, and pine nuts in a small bowl.  Pour over the potatoesand mix well. Garnish with additional cheese & zest, if desired

Serve warm.

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Cain & Abel Panini

   Cain & Abel Panini

Cain & Abel Panini

This panini was such favorite at the cafe!  The Italian flavor profile, crunch, and the unusual addition of an egg crepe really set this hot sandwich apart.  While delicious heirloom tomatoes are in season I have been adding a slice to this sandwich with fabulous results!  (In winter, no tomato is better than a flavorless one, is my motto!) A cup of Italian Vegetable Soup with Brown Rice is the perfect side!  I know you will love this panini.

For each panini:

1 Italian Ciabatta roll

Basil Pesto, 2 Tablespoons, or to taste

2 slices Provolone Cheese

1 Egg Crepe (see recipe below)

2 slices fairly thick-cut bacon, cooked crisp

2 ounces deli roasted turkey breast, thinly sliced

Olive oil spray

Heat a panini grill to high heat.  (If no panini grill is available, heat a cast iron skillet to high, and have a second, heavy skillet on hand.)

Lay out the ciabatta roll and spread both sides with a thin layer of the basil pesto.  Add a slice of cheese to each.  Layer the egg crepe, bacon, and turkey on the bottom piece of the ciabatta and lay the other half on top, pressing down slightly.  Spray the top of the ciabatta lightly with the olive oil spray.

Place the sandwich on the grill, making sure when it closes that the sandwich is pressed evenly.  (Or, lay the sandwich in the skillet and top with the second skillet. Once the bottom is browned and the cheese melts, flip the panini and finish cooking the other side, still pressed with the second skillet.)  When the panini is a deep golden brown and the cheese is oozing out the sides, it is ready to come off.  Let it cool for a minute or two, then cut on the diagonal and serve.

Egg Crepes:

1 extra-large egg

1 Tablespoon milk or cream

Preheat a small (6-7") non-stick skillet over low heat.  Spray with non-stick spray, or brush with butter, liberally.

Beat the egg and cream together until it uniformly yellow, with no streaks or lumps.  Pour just enough of the egg mixture into the skillet (rotate the skillet) to allow the egg to cover the bottom thinly.  Cook until the top is set, then flip, using tongs.  Almost immediately the egg will be set, so turn it out onto a plate or piece of deli paper.  Continue with the remaining egg mixture; you should get 4 crepes.  Cool.  (Crepes may be layered between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper, wrapped in plastic wrap, and frozen.  Use within one month.)

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Basil Pesto

   Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto

Pesto is one of my favorite uses for lovely basil, which is a good thin since my plants have produced like crazy this year!  It is heavenly on a panini (try the Cain & Abel), or tossed with pasta or Basil Pesto Potatoes, and can be tossed with hot pasta, smeared on a pizza crust, or a any number of other ways. However, I really dislike pesto with a sharp garlic flavor that overpowers.  To eliminate this possibility, I devised a way to mellow out the garlic by simmering in gently for a few minutes in some olive oil, while also gently toasting the nuts, which are so easy to burn.  The result?  A more even, mellow garlic flavor throughout the pesto due to the infused garlic oil that resulted from this technique with no bite! I also added some lemon juice, to keep the sauce bright green (not grey), and liven up the flavor a bit.  You can freeze pesto for use in the winter, but wait to add the cheese until you are ready to use it (the cheese takes on an odd green cast and can get a bit rubbery if it is frozen in the sauce). Makes about 1 1/2 cups

4 cups fresh basil leaves

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts (may substitute walnuts)

3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced (see Video)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

In a small saucepan place 1/4 cup of the olive oil and the sliced garlic.  Gently warm over very low heat until bubbles start to form around the garlic.  Keep heat low, add the pine nuts or walnuts,  and let simmer lightly for 5 more minutes. Do not let garlic brown-remove from the heat periodically if need be to keep the heat low.  Remove from the heat and add to the remaining olive oil.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

While the mixture cools, place the basil leaves in the bowl of a food processor. (If you don't have a food processor, you can use a blender.)

Add the olive oil, garlic, and nut mixture along with the salt and lemon juice to the basil in the food processor and process until well blended.  Add the cheese and process for about 15 seconds, if using immediately.  Transfer to a bowl or storage container. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To store in the refrigerator, add a very thin layer of olive oil on the pesto, then press a piece of plastic wrap on top.  Pesto will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  If storing longer, freeze in an airtight container with plastic wrap protecting the surface of the pesto.  Use within a month.  If you make pesto for the winter, don't add the cheese until after it is thawed and you are ready to use it. (See note above.)

 

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Italian Vegetable Soup with Brown Rice

   Italian Vegetable Soup with Brown Rice

Italian Vegetable Soup with Brown Rice

This soup was a favorite at the cafe!  It features summer's best veggies and is ,filled with tomatoes, carrots, celery, chickpeas, kidney beans, zucchini, summer squash, peas, basil, and brown rice.  It is assuredly a meal in a bowl!  All you need to add is a crusty slice of bread!  Serves 6

1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 large rib of celery, sliced

3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

2 minced cloves of garlic

1-15 ounce can diced tomatoes

1-15 ounce can ground or crushed tomatoes

6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

2 cups tomato juice

1 whole bay leaf

1/4 cup uncooked brown rice

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 medium yellow summer squash, diced

1/4 cup frozen or fresh peas, (optional)

1 teaspoon good balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup torn basil leaves

Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a stock pot to medium-high.  Add oil, onion, celery, and carrots.  Saute for 3-4 minutes, add garlic and cook another minute or 2.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper, then add the diced and ground tomatoes, stock, tomato juice, bay leaf and rice.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

Add the zucchini and yellow squash, bring back to a boil, then simmer for an additional 15 minutes. 

Add the peas (if using), vinegar, basil, and salt and pepper to taste., Cook until everything is heated through.  Remove the bay leaf before serving.

This recipe can easily be doubled for a crowd!

 

 

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Steak Pizziaola

   Steal Pizzaiola

Steal Pizzaiola

I have heard my husband talk about Steak Pizzaiola ever since I met him!  He went to college at the University of Miami in Florida, and he frequented a restaurant called the "Blue Grotto" where they served this dish with spaghetti and a "really greasy garlic bread", all for $4!  I have attempted to recreate this dish over the years, without success, but this recipe got his thumbs up.  I'm not sure if the flavors of this dish are what makes this dish so special for him, or the nostalgia surrounding its consumption that have stayed with him; but this dish is definitely a winner! Pesto Pasta would be great with this dish! (Adapted from Cooks Country magazine)

4 strip steaks, 1” thick

2 T vegetable oil

8 ounces crimini mushrooms, quartered

1 medium onion, chopped fine

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 T. sun-dried tomatoes, oil-packed, rinsed, patted dry and          minced

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1- 14.5 oz diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved

1 cup jarred, roasted red peppers, chopped

2T. chopped fresh basil

Heat oven to 350-degrees.  Rack in middle.  Have sheet pan & rack ready.  Pat steaks dry with paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 T of the oil in large skillet over med-high heat just until it starts to smoke a bit.  Sear steaks on both sides and place on wire rack.  Roast steaks in the oven for about 8 minutes.  Transfer to platter, cover and let rest while preparing sauce.

Sauce:

Add mushrooms, onion, ¼ teaspoon salt and remaining (1T.) oil to skillet.  Cook until mushrooms and onions are softened, and starting to brown, 8 minutes.  Add garlic, oregano, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until fragrant.  Add vinegar and cook, scraping up any browned bits with wooden spoon, until thick and syrupy.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add drained tomatoes to empty pan and cook until deep red and dry, about 3 minutes.  Stir in peppers, reserved tomato juices, and mushroom mixture.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minute. 

Off the heat, stir in the basil, taste and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon sauce over steaks and serve.  (The sauce can be made in advance, the reheated in the skillet that the steaks were seared in.  Do ahead is a great time-saver!)

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