Temperatures are rising and summer peaches will be here soon! This light Italian dessert from Nonna's House has the perfect ratio of very little work with immense flavor payoff—now that's a recipe I can get behind!
Stuffed Baked Peaches (pesche al forno ripiene): During peach season, the height of summer, this dessert is light and refreshing. Be sure to look for balsamic glaze, which is different from balsamic vinegar, in the supermarket.
Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
Arrange the peaches cut side up on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar. Bake until tender but not soft, and the sugar has melted and is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Place the mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Process until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl and stir in the almonds.
Fill the centers of the peaches evenly with the mascarpone mixture, about 2 tablespoons per peach. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Drizzle each peach with 1 teaspoon balsamic glaze to serve.
Looking for a new snack with a bit of a spicy kick? This recipe from Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil for Muhammara, a Middle Eastern staple, is sure to appeal to fans of hummus.
A sumptuous spread from that region of the Middle East where the finest culinary traditions of Lebanon, Turkey and Syria all blend together with a little Armenian influence as well. The best chile pepper to use in this muhammara (moo-HAMMa-rah) is coarsely ground or crushed dried Aleppo pepper, although other kinds of Turkish and Syrian chile peppers are good too. They are all available from World Spice Merchants in Seattle (www.worldspice.com) or from Kalustyan’s in Manhattan (www.kalustyans.com).
Sweet peppers are best when roasted over live fire—either a gas flame on your stovetop or charcoal embers in the fireplace or on the outside grill. Roast, turning frequently, until the skins are black and blistered. Failing gas or charcoal, you can also roast peppers under the oven broiler until they are collapsed and the skins are blistered—but they will not have the intense flavor of flame-roasted peppers. Whatever the method, put the roasted peppers in a paper bag and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes to steam in their own heat and soften. At that point, it’s easy to remove the blackened skin, using a paring knife to pull it away. Then cut the peppers open, draining any liquid into a small bowl. Discard the stems, seeds, and white inside membranes.
Roast the walnuts, the pine nuts and the bread crumbs in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The walnuts are ready when their thin skins start to flake off; the pine nuts and the bread crumbs are done when they are golden.
Toast cumin seeds in a small skillet on top of the stove, stirring and tossing until the fragrance starts to rise. Remove immediately and grind to a powder in a spice grinder, or pound in a mortar.
MAKES 2½ TO 3 CUPS
CHOP the peppers coarsely and transfer to a food processor. Process in pulses until you have a textured puree.
IN a mortar, pound the garlic cloves to a paste with the salt. Add the roasted walnuts and continue pounding, adding a tablespoon or two of the reserved pepper juices. Once the walnuts are quite pasty, pound in the bread crumbs. (If you don’t have enough pepper juice, use a tablespoon or two of lemon juice instead.) Transfer the ingredients in the mortar to the food processor and process very briefly, just enough to mix everything together.
WHY, you may ask, do I not just put everything into the food processor to start with? Muhammara is supposed to have a rather coarse texture from the walnuts and bread crumbs; in order to control that texture, I think it’s better to pound the walnuts, bread crumbs, and garlic in the mortar and mix them very quickly into the pepper puree.
SCRAPE the contents of the food processor into a bowl and stir in the chile pepper, pomegranate syrup, ground cumin and 4 to 5 tablespoons of the oil. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and taste. If necessary, adjust the seasoning with more salt, lemon juice, or pomegranate syrup.
WHEN you’re ready to serve, pile the muhammara in an attractive bowl and dribble the remaining olive oil over the top. Garnish with roasted pine nuts and serve with crostini (toasted bread crusts) or crackers or, to be most authentic, toasted triangles of Arab pita bread.
Note: Muhammara is also a beautiful relish to serve with any sort of roast or grilled lamb.
Excerpted from VIRGIN TERRITORY: EXPLORING THE WORLD OF OLIVE OIL © 2015 by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Looking for a sweet treat to enjoy during these warm spring days? This adults-only recipe for Affogato with Biscotti from Twenty Dinners is perfect for your next outdoor gathering.
AFFOGATO WITH BISCOTTI
FOR THE ICE CREAM
Set up a double boiler by half-filling a large saucepan with water. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Place a medium metal bowl on top of the saucepan, but don’t let it touch the water. (You can pour out water until it fits.)
Add ¾ cup of the granulated sugar, wine, orange juice, egg yolks and vanilla-bean seeds to the bowl and whisk until the mixture is thick enough to hold figure eights. Take the bowl off the saucepan and continue whisking until the mixture cools.
In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together the cream and powdered sugar just until soft peaks form. (Or do this by hand.) Remove the whipped cream to a large, clean bowl and carefully wash out and dry the mixer bowl.
In the electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then gently stir in the remaining ¾ cup granulated sugar. Don’t overmix or you’ll lose all the air from the egg whites.
Fold the cooked yolk mixture into the whipped cream, then gently fold that mixture into the egg whites.
Transfer the ice-cream base to containers and freeze overnight.
Once frozen completely, it’s ready to serve. Simply put a scoop of ice cream in each bowl or dessert cup, add a generous pinch of pistachios and a biscotti, and top with freshly pulled espresso.
Reprinted from Twenty Dinners. Copyright © 2015 by Ithai Schori and Chris Taylor. Photographs copyright © 2015 by Nicole Franzen. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Read our review of this book.
Looking for an exciting, yet traditional recipe for your family's Easter feast this weekend? Try this savory Italian Easter bread, or la tagliata di Pasqua, from our April Top Pick in cookbooks, Nonna's House.
ADELINA ORAZZO (Italian Easter breads vary from region to region, town to town, and even family to family. Some are savory, like this one; others are sweet. On Easter morning, we serve this bread on a festive platter with slices of soppressata, ricotta salata, fennel, and hard-boiled eggs.
1. Whisk the milk, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter, 2 eggs, and salt until uniform. Stir in the flour until a soft dough forms. Lightly dust a work surface with flour, turn the dough out onto it, and knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Gather the dough into a ball.
2. Lightly butter a large bowl, set the dough in it, and turn over to coat in the butter. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Flatten the dough; add the salumi, Pecorino Romano, and Grano Padano, and knead lightly until well incorporated. Divide the dough into two equal pieces; roll each piece into a 14-inch-long strand. Pinch these two strands together at one end, then twist them together six times lengthwise to make a single coiled strand. Form the strand into a circle and pinch the ends to seal.
4. Lightly butter a large rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the coiled ring to it. Press the hard-boiled eggs at three equidistant spots around the coil, using the natural indentations caused by the crossing of the strands.
My two favorite food groups are coffee and cake, so clearly baking Lorraine Pascal's Simply Coffee, Vanilla & Walnut Cake has jumped straight to the top of my weekend priorities. Find this and a wealth of, ahem, a bit healthier recipes in her new cookbook, Everyday Easy.
Simply Coffee, Vanilla & Walnut Cake
One of the first cakes I ever ate was a simple coffee-flavored cake. No bells, no whistles, nothing fancy, simply coffee cake with a rich coffee buttercream. I have, however, played around with the recipe a bit and added whole wheat flour, which gives a tasty, nutty dimension to the sponge cake. But if you don’t have whole wheat flour in the cupboard, then just make this up with all-purpose flour instead for an equally appetizing cake.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Time baking in the oven: approximately 25 minutes
Equipment: Kettle, two ¾ x 8-inch round cake (springform) or tart pans with removable bottoms,
large baking sheet, mug, 2 large bowls, pastry brush, wire rack, fine sieve
++Preheat the oven to 350°F, and put the kettle on to boil (with just a small amount of water). Grease the bottom of two cake or tart pans with butter and line with baking parchment. Set them on a large baking sheet and set aside.
++First make the sponge cake. Put the coffee powder into a mug, using 1 tablespoon for a subtle coffee flavor or 3 tablespoons if you want to be awake for quite some time! For me, 3 is just right. Then add 1 tablespoon of hot water from the kettle for every tablespoon of coffee and mix until smooth. Finely chop half of the walnuts and set aside.
++Put the flours into a large bowl along with the sugar and baking powder and mix a bit to combine. Then add the butter, eggs, vanilla extract, prepared coffee and chopped walnuts (reserving the halves for decoration). Beat it hard until smooth and well combined. Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and then pop them in the oven for around 25 minutes.
++About 5 minutes before the cake is ready, put the kettle on again for the coffee syrup. Spoon the coffee powder into the mug with the sugar and 2 tablespoons of hot water from the kettle. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and set aside.
++Check that the cakes are ready. A skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean. Return to the oven for another 5 or so minutes if not. Once ready, remove from the oven and brush liberally with the coffee sugar syrup to give a wonderfully soft sponge. Then leave the cakes for a few minutes until cool enough to handle. Carefully remove from the pans, peel off the paper and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
++Cooling should take about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the buttercream. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl. Add the butter and beat hard until light and fluffy. Blend the coffee powder in the mug with 1 tablespoon of hot water from the kettle and stir into the buttercream.
++Once the cakes have cooled, put one layer on a cake stand or serving plate and slather the top liberally with half of the buttercream. It will be a good thick layer. Place the other cake layer on top and slather the remaining buttercream over. Arrange the remaining walnuts on top. Totally yum.
Sometimes you just need a little bit of homemade sweetness . . . and sometimes you just want a whole pie all to yourself. Try your hand at this delightful and distinctly Southern recipe for Orange Buttermilk Pie from Savannah bakers Cheryl and Griffith Day's new cookbook, Back in the Day Bakery Made with Love. We won't judge you if you don't feel like sharing.
Orange Buttermilk Pie
I created this pie in the middle of the winter, when clementines and satsuma oranges are in season. The flavor is simple and pure, and you can use any oranges that you like. Buttermilk is the key ingredient, so use the good stuff you can sometimes find in farmers’ markets if possible. I count on the old-fashioned buttermilk that we get from our friends at Southern Swiss Dairy to give this pie the old-timey flavor I recall from childhood.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the baked pie shell on a baking sheet.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix well to combine. Add the flour, orange zest, orange juice, and salt and mix until well blended. With the mixer on low, slowly add the buttermilk, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. The mixture will look curdled at this point, but don’t worry. If using a stand mixer, transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
In the clean mixer bowl, using the whisk attachment (or in a medium mixing bowl, using clean beaters), beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Give the buttermilk mixture a quick stir just to make sure that it is well blended, then add a small amount of the egg whites and fold in. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until completely incorporated.
Pour the filling into the baked piecrust. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the filling is golden and puffed up at the edges and the center no longer looks wet but still wobbles slightly; it will continue to set as it cools. Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 2 to 3 hours.
Serve the pie at room temperature or chilled, with the whipped cream. Garnish with segments of orange, if you’d like. The pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 day or refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Crispy, breaded chicken tenders are one of the ultimate comfort foods, but unfortunately the fried varieties are packed with fat and calories. British celebrity chef Lorraine Pascale understands this conundrum all too well, and her new cookbook Everyday Easy makes healthy recipes a priority, while offering creative ways to slash calories on just a few cheat meals. Try these oven-baked Crispy, Crunchy Chicken Strips with Honey Mustard Dip the next time you get a craving.
Crispy, Crunchy Chicken Strips with Honey Mustard Dip
Being a tactile person at heart, eating food with my fingers is pure luxury for me. I have a favorite surf-and-turf restaurant I frequent with the family and I regularly order their crispy chicken tenders for a starter. The piquant honey mustard dip has me getting right on in there with a spoon and eating up every last morsel.
Time from start to finish:
Equipment: Baking tray, 2 wide, shallow bowls, small bowl
Honey mustard dip
++Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking tray with oil and set aside. I like to do this quickly with a spray oil.
++Crack the eggs into a wide, shallow bowl and beat lightly to bring together. Put the breadcrumbs (or polenta) and mustard powder into another wide, shallow bowl. Pick the leaves from the parsley or thyme and then finely chop them before tossing with the breadcrumbs and some salt and pepper.
++Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into three strips. Dip each piece into the egg, shaking off the excess, and then into the breadcrumbs to coat evenly. Arrange on the baking tray as you go. I tend to get in a sticky mess with this as the egg on my hands becomes coated with breadcrumbs, but the end result is so worth it.
++Bake in the oven for around 12 minutes, turning each piece of chicken over halfway through.
++Meanwhile, to make the dip, put the mayonnaise into a small bowl with the whole grain mustard and honey and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
++Cut the limes into quarters and add the juice of one piece to the dip, squeeze by squeeze, tasting as you go until you are happy. The lime lifts the dip’s flavors a little and gives a nice balance. Spoon the dip into a small serving bowl and place in the center of a large plate.
++Remove the chicken from the oven. When cooked, it should be piping hot in the center and crispy and golden brown on the outside.
++Arrange the chicken around the dip on a plate and serve with the remaining lime wedges.
Quinoa is a satisfying and healthy alternative when you're craving a big bowl of pasta. Try this Quinoa Salad with Feta, Pomegranate and Pistachio from our February Top Pick in cookbooks, The Tucci Table, for a quick and filling meal or side dish that won't cost you extra time at the gym.
Quinoa Salad with Feta, Pomegranate and Pistachio
Felicity introduced me to this healthy alternative to pasta and bread—the staples of the Tucci family diet. Quinoa is a fantastic base to which so many other flavors can be added, like dates, avocado or grilled halloumi cheese. Nutty, delicious and good for you, this quinoa salad blends the sharpness of the feta, the sweetness of the pomegranate and the crunch of the nuts. It can be served as a side or a main.
Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side
1. Soak the quinoa in cold water to remove its bitterness. Each brand is different, so check the instructions on the package. Then rinse it thoroughly.
2. Bring 3 to 4 cups salted water to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. The quinoa is done when the germ separates from the seed. It should have a little bite to it, too. Strain if necessary. Dress with the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.
3. Gently mix the pomegranate seeds, pistachios or pine nuts and scallions into the quinoa. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Place the mixture in a serving dish and place the feta cheese on top. Scatter the last 2 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds over the top, gently break up the feta, and serve.
This is delicious served with some sliced blood oranges dressed with extra virgin olive oil.
In need of a hearty, healthy meal you can whip up in just a few minutes after work? Molly Gilbert has you covered with this recipe for 'Quick Chicken & Baby Broccoli with Spicy Peanut Sauce' from her new cookbook, Sheet Pan Suppers.
Quick Chicken & Baby Broccoli with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Peanut sauce is like the chocolate sauce of dinnertime. I’m pretty sure I’d eat my shoe if it were covered in enough of it. This satay-inspired dish pairs my beloved peanut sauce with thinly sliced chicken and baby broccoli charred under the broiler. The whole dish cooks in only about 10 minutes but results in juicy chicken, tender broccolini and thick, bubbly sauce. It’s addicting. Keep it away from your shoes.
I’ve seen packaged thin-cut chicken breasts or cutlets at some grocery stores, but you can easily make your own by slicing a regular chicken breast in half horizontally to create two thin-cut pieces.
1. Preheat the oven to broil, with a rack 4 inches from the heat. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or mist it with cooking spray.
2. Whisk together the brown sugar, peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, vinegar, water and lime juice in a medium-size bowl until smooth. Set aside ¼ cup of the peanut sauce for serving.
3. Rub the broccolini and chicken with the remaining peanut sauce to thickly coat, and arrange them in a tight single layer on the prepared pan. Broil, keeping a close eye on the pan to prevent burning, and flipping the chicken halfway through, until the chicken is just cooked through, the broccolini is well charred and the sauce is bubbly and deeply browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
4. Serve the chicken and broccolini hot from the oven with the reserved dipping sauce alongside.
Excerpted from Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert. Copyright © 2014 by Molly Gilbert. Excerpted with permission by Workman Publishing. Read our review of this book.
You may know celebrated actor Stanley Tucci from his roles in The Lovely Bones and Road to Perdition, but he is also quite a formidable and knowledgable home cook! Co-authored with his wife Felicity Blunt, his second cookbook, The Tucci Table, is a "comfortable, easy-to-approach" guide to an array of Italian, American and British dishes.
Serves 4 to 6
This is a combination of my mother's eggplant Parmigiana and a French tian. With the addition of the potato, this makes a great vegetarian main course or a single side dish that combines a starch and a vegetable.
1. Preheat the broiler to medium-high.
2. Spread the eggplant, potato (if using), and zucchini slices on individual baking sheets, one for each ingredient, coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt. Then place them under the broiler until they start to color, 3 to 5 minutes. This will evaporate some of their water so that they don’t go soggy in the final dish.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
4. Combine the bread crumbs, half of the chopped herbs, half of the grated cheese and a dash of salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
5. Combine the remaining herb mixture, grated cheese, all of the garlic and a dash of salt and pepper in another bowl.
6. Coat the bottom and sides of a rectangular baking dish with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
7. From one short side of the dish, stack the eggplant, zucchini, potato (if using), and tomatoes so that they stand upright on edge against one another. Sprinkle a little of the chopped herb, garlic and cheese mixture in between some of the layers as you work your way across the baking dish.
8. When completed, drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the bread-crumb mixture.
9. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Check it just before the end of the baking time. If it looks a little dry, drizzle with a little extra olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature, not hot.