Gorgonzola Grape Salad

Gorgonzola Grape SaladHave you ever been to one of those Brazilian or Argentinian Steak Houses?  You know, when you have to prepare yourself days ahead eating light foods so that you can enjoy, or at least get a portion of your money’s worth, at these all-you-can eat Churrascaria restaurants!

Since my return to Florida, I’ve been invited several times out to dine till I die at Texas di Brazil, which is coincidentally located at The Villages of Gulfstream Park, so that once you’re filled up on food, you can stroll all the shops, boutiques and casino.  (Feel free to click on the Village link and listen to the music as you read this…just as I am while typing this out! Continue reading “Gorgonzola Grape Salad”

Drunken Figs

These have to be the happiest figs in the world!  And in a month, I will be the happiest Chica when I serve these!

Regardless of how many recipes I use with fresh figs, I always like to prepare a batch of drunken figs!  Stuffed with a walnut and soaked in brandy with a touch of lemon these little babies become succulent jewels of joy.  It’s best to give them about a month of soaking to be ready for late October or if I’m able to hold off, for Thanksgiving.   Served as an appetizer, I pare them with cheese, assorted nuts and bread.  For dessert, served with small bites of dark chocolate or on the side with a classic cheesecake.

There’s really not much of a recipe to speak of.  I take the figs, washed and dried well and make a small cut in the bottom of each one.  Next I insert a small chunk of walnut or pecan into the fig, all the way so it’s completely inside.  Place all the figs in a glass container, add in the zest only from a lemon and cover with brandy.  I like to use a smooth brandy; not overly strong.  Store in a dark area for at least one month.

When ready to serve, gently remove the figs.  To create a syrupy brandy sauce I simmer some of the brandy with a bit of sugar or agave and a tablespoon of peach or apricot jam until reduced by half.  The jam will help thicken the sauce.  Taste for preferred sweetness.  The sauce can be poured over the figs when serving.  The remaining brandy is strained and kept for baking and cooking.

Mint and Arugula Melon Salad

When I need to pamper myself, I think of spa-like, light meals, based on fresh fruits, nuts and salads.  A pretty presentation, nice ambiance, calming music and a glass of red wine for its heart-healthy antioxidants!

As I work for a major health care provider; I receive alot of information on staying healthy and keeping fit.  Much of our pain comes from inflammation.  Foods high in saturated fats, simple sugars and white flour actually trigger inflammation throughout our bodies.  Right now my body needs all the necessary vitamins, antioxidant rich foods, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fat to heal my hurt ankle and reduce the inflammation.

I’ve got a few weeks of healing ahead of me, so I’m planning on preparing lots of healthy dishes.  Not that I don’t always keep a healthy diet, just that I’ll be focusing more on these types than others.  The same goes for my physical fitness as bike riding will be replaced by swimming and yoga moves will be limited to floor positions than standing!

This melon salad is as pretty as it is tasty!  The light minty vinaigrette pairs beautifully with the melons.  A surprise bite of cucumber in the salad is an unexpected delight and the arugula adds just enough delicate peppery flavor.  As a side for breakfast, brunch or lunch it’s a bright and fresh compliment.  For a light meal, I added some walnuts to balance out the fruits natural sweetness.

 Mint and Arugula Melon Salad

1/2 small honeydew melon, cut in small cubes
1/2 small cantaloupe melon, cut in small cubes
1 large wedge of watermelon, cut in small cubes
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup fresh arugula
For the vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon agave
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients.  Whisk to blend well.
In a large bowl, combine the honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon and cucumber.   Pour in the vinaigrette and toss to coat.  Cover and chill for one hour.  Add the arugula to the chilled fruit bowl and gently toss.  Transfer to a serving bowl. Optional:  sprinkle on chopped walnuts.

Celebrating One Year with Berry, Berry Espresso Crepes!

Savoring Every Bite has turned one year old!  From its birth one year ago, it’s been a year of sharing stories and recipes, discovering new friends and constant learning; like how to take a good photo!  SEB was created as a way to share my family recipes with my daughter and to my surprise has found its way to others as well.  I feel so blessed and thankful for all those who follow along with me and leave sweet comments.  There’s a special bond of friendship that has developed with my blogging friends.

Just like Greg from Rufus’ Food Guide and Spirits mentioned in a comment to me about Katherine referring to my style of adding  liquor to a dessert she was preparing, I think and relate back to my close bloggers as if I know their style, what they like and how they take a similar recipe and put their own spin to it.  So many times I read a post about a recipe I either just made or was thinking about making!  When you’re really reading the posts and not just the recipes, you really learn a lot about their life and family.

My daughter Gina is home this week before starting back at her classes and busy life.  When I mentioned to her my blog’s anniversary, she immediately asked how I was going to celebrate.  “Hmm….hadn‘t thought about it…”  “Well, you have to post something….”  “Really, so will YOU read it??”

Here’s the truth about Gina and my blog.  I ask her, “Did you read my post about….?”  “No, if I read it, I’ll cry”  Cry???  Yes, my daughter is SUPER sentimental.  When I write about myself, family or memories, the tears flow.  So, she views my blog, checks out the recipes and exits quickly.  She’s my baby doll.

So without further delay or further reading, my anniversary recipe; Berry, Berry Espresso Crepes.  Crepes are one of my easy summer desserts.  No turning on the oven or heating up the kitchen.  In fact, I make crepes ahead of time keeping them in the freezer for whenever guests drop in or my own indulgence.   I also love crepes for Sunday brunch.  I simply added ground espresso beans to a basic crepe recipe, along with a splash of liquor….just because.

I use a crepe pan but for many years a nice nonstick skillet did the trick.  Crepe making does take a bit of practice at first, but honestly after a few practice flips, it’s a breeze!  I use my fingers to flip the crepe but they do have special tongs or spatulas to avoid burning your fingers.

Berry, Berry Espresso Crepes

adapted from Crepes

For the crepes:

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

1/3 cup water

1 cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon  Kahlua

2 tablespoons coffee beans ground to a fine powder

2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus additional for coating the pan

For the Berries:

2 cups mixed berries; strawberries, blueberries, raspberries – fresh or frozen

1 tablespoon Chambord liquor

Agave or sugar to taste

For the crepes:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend for 5-10 seconds or until smooth.  Stir and blend again for 5 seconds.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Using either  a 6-7 inch for small crepes or a 9-10 inch for larger crepes, heat a seasoned crepe pan or nonstick pan over medium heat.  Wipe the pan with butter, lift the pan from the heat and pour in 2-3 tablespoons of batter for a smaller pan or 1/4 cup for a larger pan.  Tilt and rotate the pan to coat the surface.  Cook until almost dry on top and lightly browned around the edges, about 1 minute.  Loosen the edges with a spatula and flip the crepe over using your fingers or a spatula.  Cook the other side for about 15 seconds or until lightly browned.  Turn the crepe out onto a clean tea tower to cool.  Repeat with remaining batter, wiping with butter as needed and stacking the crepes as they are cooked.

For the Berry Sauce:

In a medium saucepan, gently warm the berries until soft and heated.  Remove from heat and stir in Chambord.  Adjust to taste with 1 – 2 teaspoons of agave or sugar.

To plate, place a small amount of berries on half of crepe, fold over and fold again to quarter.  Top with more berry sauce and whipped cream or ice cream if desired.  Serve at once.

For serving the crepes immediately, cover the crepes with foil and keep warm in a preheated 200 degree oven.  For serving later, wrap in plastic wrap with wax paper between each crepe and slip into a plastic bag.  Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 months.  Crepes will defrost in the refrigerator or at room temperature in about 15 minutes.  Warm in aluminum foil in a preheated 325 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes.

Chilled Mixed Berry and Prosecco Soup

Temperatures this summer have been hot!  Heavy meals are completely off my menu plans and my guests are not complaining when lighter entrées are served.  Even my desserts are lighter; simple fruit based sweets.  I’m all about fresh tasting and easy, that is easy for me the hostess!

This recipe is truly in its most natural state.  The berries, either fresh or frozen, are pureed, not cooked.  I don’t add in any spices, nor have I ever felt the need to.  Simple syrup or agave is added for sweetness and for sparkle, Prosecco, champagne or club soda is stirred in just before serving.  I like the swirl of buttermilk or thinned yogurt as a pretty contrast and its creaminess blends with the sweetness of the fruit.  For a picnic, this travels really well in a thermos, though I have left out bringing along the yogurt or buttermilk.  Along with the chilled soup, I like to serve lemon biscotti cookies (recipe appearing soon!) and a small dessert cheese plate with nuts and dried fruits.

Chilled Berry and Prosecco Soup

¼ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

¼ cup fresh or frozen strawberries

¼ cup fresh or frozen raspberries

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice or mango nectar

Simple syrup or agave to taste (Simple Syrup is simply equal amounts water and sugar heated until sugar dissolves, cooled and refrigerate until needed)

1 shot crème de cases liquor

¼ cup Prosecco, champagne or club soda

½ cup buttermilk or yogurt thinned with a touch of milk

Process berries and orange juice in a blender until smooth.  Add in agave or simple syrup to taste for sweetness.  Stir in the crème de cases and refrigerate several hours.  Just before serving pour in the Prosecco.  Pour into chilled bowls and swirl in a tablespoon of buttermilk or yogurt.  Serve immediately.

Blackberry Fool, of sorts

In my excitement during the berry season, I seem to purchase more than I can possible eat!  I am clearly not complaining as I enjoy finding many ways to incorporate berries into my meals whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert!  I’m sharing this recipe because it is one my first ‘go to’ choice when I have extra berries waiting to be used up.

Very similar to a Fruit Fool, I prefer Greek plain yogurt instead of sour cream which is normally used.  I simmer the berries slightly instead of simply mashing them in their raw form with a bit of agave for sweetness and a dash of cinnamon.  A tablespoon of Chambord or Grand Marnier never hurts either along with some lemon zest.  I generally don’t make this overly sweet.  Once the puree is made I place it in the frig overnight to thicken and chill.

Just having berry puree in my frig gives me options to add it to syrup for pancakes, in sauces for grilled chicken, pork or salmon, or top gelato.  I love to add berry puree on top of brie, warming the brie to softly melt.  This is actually a weekend brunch treat I adore with a toasted baguette or bagel.

For the Fool, I mix up yogurt with organic heavy cream and gently fold in the chilled and thickened berry puree.  I don’t add in any sugar to the cream mixture and find that I do not need to make it any sweeter.  This should be chilled for another few hours and then I’m ready to serve as is; in a pretty parfait glass with chopped toasted nuts or coconut or crumbed amaretto cookies or shaved chocolate.

The combined berries and yogurt mix will normally keep for a few days so my options then are to also use it as a thick, creamy topping for fresh cut up fruit, as a breakfast treat by topping with homemade granola or scooped on grilled pound cake!

Blackberry Fool, of sorts

2 cups fresh blackberries, or berries of your choice

Agave, about 1-2 tablespoons depending on sweetness of fruit and personal preference

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon Chambord, optional

½ cup Greek plain yogurt

½ cup organic whipping cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Zest from one lemon

½ cup toasted pecans (or toasted coconut, shaved chocolate or amaretto cookie crumbs)

In a saucepan add the berries, cinnamon and agave.  Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and continue about 5-7 minutes, slightly mashing the berries.  Adjust the sweetness to your taste. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the lemon zest and  Chambord, if using.  Place in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight to thicken and chill.

Combine the yogurt, whipping cream and vanilla in a medium sized bowl.  Using electric mixer, mix on high until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in the chilled berry puree leaving streaks of the cream.  Pour into parfait serving glasses and refrigerate until serving time, at least 2 hours.  Top with toasted nuts, coconut, cookie crumbs or shaved chocolate.

Romeo and Juliet…Guava and Cheese Quesadilla

Recently I attended the ballet performance of Romeo and Juliet.   Yes, the classic, timeless, tragic story of forbidden love.   I love the ballet; it’s both magical and beautiful to watch the drama, emotion and passion expressed through dance by these amazing performers.  I was pleasantly surprised to receive the ticket from my friend Martha following her birthday luncheon.

So what happens when a food lover like me watches Romeo and Juliet?  First, I’m brought to tears and then I think about… food.  I own and read so many cookbooks that every now and then, or more often than not, something I had read will trigger my memory.  “Romeo and Juliet”…. “Guava and Cheese”!  I read that the combination of cheese and guava is also known as Romeo and Juliet; a perfect match!

I was introduced to this combination last summer. Goudacheese topped with sweet guava paste or guava jelly/marmalade.  Guava tastes like a mix of strawberry and mango.  Its sweetness is similar to any jam or jelly; the fruit is cooked down with sugar and formed into a jelled paste or marmalade.

The type of cheese varies by individual preference and heritage.  I’ve mostly had it withGouda; however, cream cheese and a Brazilian cheese called Minas are also popular.   Guava topped on cream cheese for a dessert plate reminds me of a deconstructed cheesecake.  For breakfast, guava marmalade lightly spread on toast with cream cheese or for appetizers, served with crackers.

I took it one step further and made it into quesadillas.  Totally yummy!! Gouda melting with the guava paste; the cheese mellows out the sweetness of the guava.  Serve with a nice green salad to compliment the flavors and balance out the sweetness.  Or serve as a dessert quesadilla with a drizzle of pureed guava sauce and a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar!!

Guava and Gouda Quesadillas

Flour tortillas

Guava paste, sliced thin

Gouda Cheese, shredded

Olive oil

Heat a large cast iron pan or griddle with a light coating of olive oil.  On a cutting board or cookie sheet, lay the tortillas flat and sprinkle cheese on 1 half of each tortilla.  Place thin slices of guava paste on top of cheese.  Amount of cheese to guava varies on your personal preference.   I like a balanced amount of both cheese to guava, about ¼ cup of each; just not too thick.  Fold the tortillas in half and place on heated pan.  Cook until lightly brown, about 2 minutes.  Use a spatula to flip the quesadilla and continue to cook until browned and cheese/guava is melty and gooey.  Allow to rest a few minutes before cutting and serving to firm up the cheese.

Picnic Time..PB and J Cookies and Watermelon Feta Salad!

There is something quaint and nostalgic about an old-fashioned picnic.  Not that my menu is particularly old-fashioned, but the simplicity of a picnic under a shady spot in the park.   No toting plastic coolers filled with ice, bags of charcoal or fancy food; just a nice wicker basket, a red checked tablecloth and simple bites to eat.  After being closed up in an air-conditioned office all day, I enjoy being outdoors; sharing a bottle of vino and feeling the warm breeze.  Spur of the moment, packing up my basket and heading out! 

For this little picnic, I packed up my Quinoa Tabbouleh  , some whole wheat pita bread and a Watermelon Feta Salad.  The salad is simply made with chunks of watermelon and feta, mint, olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper and a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar.  Balsamic vinegar can be simmered until reduced to a thick glaze or purchased as such.  I packed the balsamic glaze separately to drizzle on at serving time. 

For drinks a mason jar of freshly made lemonade kept chilled with lemonade ice cubes and for dessert, these fun little PB & J cookies!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Adapted from Real Simple Recipes

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 large egg

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (or use chunky)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups crispy rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)

1/2 cup strawberry or raspberry seedless jam

Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or Slipat.  Cream the butter and sugars on high in a large mixing bowl. Lower to medium speed and add the egg, peanut butter, and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture on low speed. Beat until incorporated. Fold in the rice cereal.

Using a small ice cream or cookies scoop place balls of dough on the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Gently press the cookies with the back of a fork to create classic hatch marks. Use the end of a wooden spoon to create a shallow well in the center of each cookie and fill with a spoonful of jam.  Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

Late Sunday Breakfast…Pumpkin Scones and Baked Apples

After a late night Halloween party, the idea of a quick, easy, comforting brunch feels just right to me.  I love that I always have a batch of scones in my freezer so when weekend mornings like this arrive, along with someone to share a special warm breakfast, I can pop these in my oven and look like I’m just an amazing baker!

Warm baked apples compliment the scones perfectly.  This is a favorite fall dish that my friends always request the recipe.  It’s like having apple pie but a healthier version sans crust.   I prepared the apples using agave as a sweetener instead of using brown sugar and was very happy with the results.  The apples can be served also with warm bowls of oatmeal or topped on pancakes or waffles. 

The scones are spiced with cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg.  The texture was not as dry as a typical scone due to the  pumpkin puree.  The aroma of the baking apples and scones filled my home with soothing warmth this morning!

Pumpkin Scones

Adapted from King Arthur Flour recipe

1 ¾ cup unbleached flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon  ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

½ cup cold butter

1 cup to 2 cups minced crystallized ginger, cinnamon chips or chocolate chips

2/3 cup canned pumpkin

2 large eggs

Milk for brushing on scones and coarse sugar or cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

In a large food processor or mixing bowl, process or whisk together the flours sugar, baking powder, salt and spices.  Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly having some larger chunks of butter remaining.  Stir in the ginger or chips.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and eggs until smooth.  Add the pumpkin/egg to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.

Portion the dough into two sections and place each onto a floured board to shape into two disks.  Flatten down to about 3/4″ thick and about 5″ circle.  Using a knife or bench knife slice each disk into 6 wedges.  At this point the scones can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen until ready to bake (and proceed with the remaining directions).  If not freezing for future use, still freeze the disks uncovered for 30 minutes to produce a better texture and higher rise. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Brush each disk with milk and sprinkle on coarse white sugar or cinnamon sugar.  Bake the scones for 22 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove the scones from the oven and serve warm.  Wrap any leftovers airtight and store a room temperature.  Reheat very briefly in the microwave if desired.

Baked Apples

Adapted from Cooking Light , November 2005

2 cups dried cranberries

1 ¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 cup packed brown sugar or ½ cup agave

½ cup water

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon nutmeg

6 Gala Apples, cored and chopped

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a large casserole.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake another 30 minutes or until apples are soft and lightly browned.

 To make ahead:  chop the nuts and combine with the cranberries, sugar and spices.  In the morning chop the apples and mix all together.

NOTE:  When baking scones and apples together, I began the apples first at 350 degrees for the first 30 minutes and then raised the temperature to 425 degrees to bake the scones and finish off the apples.

Cranberry Rosemary Scones

The smell of fresh brewed coffee and cranberry rosemary scones filled my kitchen this morning.  I had dreams of having my own B&B just to have my guests awaken to these welcoming aromas!  Many, many years ago when bread machines became popular, prepping and setting the timer to begin baking the bread while we slept was an almost regular weekend delight.

It’s my coworkers that I share these with today.  And I do believe they were received very happily.  With a hot cup of coffee a fresh-baked scone is perfect in the morning, as well as an afternoon snack.   Scones are not particularly sweet and are best eaten when warm.  Rosemary is a herb I love; however, it is a distinct flavored herb, so I have used just a little.  The woodsy rosemary with cranberries evoke memories of a crisp fall morning.

Cranberry Rosemary Scones

adapted from Honey & Jam

1 cup all- purpose unbleached flour and 1  cup whole-wheat pastry flour

 

1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick unsalted cold butter, cut in pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen (do not thaw)

 

  1 – 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, depending on your preference

 In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.  With a food processor or pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Mix in cranberries and rosemary.  As the processor is running, pour in the heavy cream until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times.  Pat into an 8 inch disk and using a knife or bench scraper, cut into 8 pieces.  Cover with plastic wrap, freeze for one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place on parchment or slipat lined baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Best served warm.

Note:  I like to prep my scones ahead of time and freeze the dough.  That way, when guests arrive or I simply have the desire to bake up a batch in the morning, it’s ready to go.  I remove the scones from the freezer for about 20 minutes prior to baking and increase the baking time by approximately 10 minutes.