Sunday, September 30, 2012


Friday ended much as it began--cold and rainy--and I was looking forward to relaxing with John over an icy cold Martini at the end of a long week. Since our dinner was to consist of a red pepper fritatta and a green salad, I thought a little splurge was in order for a before-dinner snack, or cichetti as the Italians like to call their small savory snacks served with their apertivo.

I decided that a few frico were in order.  If you never had frico, you are in for a real treat. Frico come from the Friuli region of Italy, and are typically made from local Montasio cheese. You can say that frico are cheese crisps, but they are so much more. They are wafers of shredded cheese baked or fried until crisp. These crisp, lacy wafers of melted cheese taste like those crispy bits left in the pan after you've made grilled cheese. How good does that sound?

So next time you are looking for something savory, salty or crisp made in a flash, try frico.

First I took out a hunk of Parmagiano-Reggiano--
Then grated some into a fluffy mound--
Then I formed the grated cheese by tablespoons into disks on a silicon baking mat--
Then into a 375 degree oven for 6-10 minutes (watch carefully) until golden brown--
Cool a bit--
 And enjoy--

Cook's Note: A bit of flour may be added to the grated cheese to make them a little more substantial, and fresh black pepper makes a nice addition.  These are just as easy to make in a skillet as in the oven. These frico are a great payoff for little work. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dinner Tonight: Snapper with Zucchini and Tomatoes

It seems as if we've eaten a lot of great fish over the summer, and although I like to buy and prepare local fish, sometimes it just isn't possible. If you can find fresh red snapper, use it in this dish--it is worth the splurge. Red snapper is a firm white fish with with a sweet, nutty taste.  It lends itself very well to a myriad of preparations and flavor pairings.

This recipe makes good use of end of summer zucchini and tomatoes and is good accompanied by  orzo tossed with olive oil, parsley and toasted pine nuts.


Snapper With Zucchini and Tomato

Recipe from Cooking Light July 2012
Serves 2

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
Black pepper
2 6-oz snapper fillets
2 tablespoons white wine or dry vermouth
1 cup diced zucchini
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Season fish with salt and pepper. Add fish to pan and cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.  Remove fish from pan and keep warm.

2.  Add white wine to pan and cook until liquid almost evaporates.  At zucchini, shallots, oregano, lemon rind, 1 teaspoon oil and a pinch of salt. Saute 3 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

3. Combine zucchini mixture, tomato, pinch of salt, remaining teaspoon of oil, basil and lemon juice.
Toss gently and serve with fish.


I used more than 1 teaspoon of olive oil to saute the fish. I used 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano instead of fresh, and I tend to season my food more liberally with salt and pepper than Cooking Light. In the last step I added the tomatoes to the saute pan to warm then the rest of the ingredients.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I am still not sleeping well, which is nothing new. This morning having read the paper before dawn,  worked out,  and processed the office payroll, I was hungry. So why not make some bran muffins?

 I have been tweaking this recipe for years, and I think I finally have it where I want it. Although I may have to add Nicole's enticing recipe for bran muffins to my repertoire. Try them both and see what you think.

With a smear of cream cheese and a dollop of homemade fig jam

Favorite Bran Muffins

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups All-Bran cereal
1 1/4 cups skim milk
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and coat 12 muffin pan cups with cooking spray.

Stir together flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine All-Bran cereal and milk. Let stand 2 minutes or until cereal is softened.  Add egg and oil and beat well. Add flour mixture and stir until combined.

Portion out batter evenly into muffin pan cups.

Bake for 20 minutes. Cool.

Favorite Bran Muffins

Monday, September 17, 2012

September Part 2

I arose before dawn on Saturday morning to be greeted with a wet deck and soggy chair cushions. I just hadn't tuned into the weather forecast what with everything that's going on in the world. I haven't been sleeping much either, so I got to work at my desk paying office bills and payroll taxes, home bills and my mother's bills. Before long the cloud-laden sky gave way to a sun-filled, crisp, beautiful day.

Saturday's farmer's market was bursting with late summer corn, fat juicy tomatoes,voluptuous purple figs and big bunches of basil perfect for pesto. I love the market in late summer/early fall when the first pumpkins and winter squash, pears and apples join the lineup of usual suspects already piled high in the stalls. I left with some gorgeous corn for Sunday dinner, a couple of handfuls of small and colorful peppers to be grilled alongside thin pork chops for dinner tonight, two bunches of basil that were quickly dispatched into pesto, some arugula, a piece of gorgonzola dolce and a bouquet of very large conical-shaped hydrangeas. The rest of the day was filled with some errands,  some work and some hanging out.

I thought the perfect way to end the day would be with Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese. I made this dish last week in Nantucket while visiting friends and wanted John to try it.

The original recipe is from Tyler Florence, and I found it via recipegirl. Below is my adaptation.

Chicken Paillard With Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese
Serves 4

3 Tablespoons honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 medium lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/4 pound prosciutto
extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch arugula, trimmed
4 ounces blue cheese, broken into small chunks
1 small basket fresh figs, halved


Prepare vinaigrette by whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place prosciutto slices on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes   until they begin to crisp. Remove and cool. When cool break each slices into small pieces.

Chicken: Cut each breast piece in half horizontally. Cover pieces with plastic wrap and pound           until they are very thin. Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Oil grill and preheat. Brush each paillard with olive oil and grill over high heat just until done.
They cook very quick. Arrange chicken pieces on a platter. Drizzle with a little vinaigrette. Top with  arugula, blue cheese, figs and prosciutto bits.

Cook's Notes:
The first time I made this, I sauteed the chicken as per the original recipe, but grilling works great, too. If you don't have sherry vinegar, any vinegar would work. I used Gorgonzola Dolce, but goat cheese would work just as well.

Monday, September 3, 2012


I welcome September. I have always found September to be the month of new beginnings and fresh starts. It's  time to emerge from the torpor of summer. One notices that each day is just a little bit shorter than the one previous, the slight nip in the evening air, an early turning red of the errant leaves littering the deck.

The anticipation of fall brings with it the desire to stop procrastinating and to get going. The fall harvest introduces heartier foods to the table, different methods of preparation from summer grilling and raw salads to thoughts of roasting and braising. And no more guilty pleasure of afternoon iced coffee. In the morning I like my coffee hot and black, but on sultry summer afternoons I indulge my need for caffeine by making my coffee sweet and thick with sugar and heavy cream.

As I look forward to a brief visit to Nantucket this week and the promise of a busy fall, we will be celebrating the unofficial end of summer much the way we began the it--with hot dogs! In June we celebrated summer at John's favorite dive bar for hot dogs and onion rings.

And tonight on Labor Day we will be celebrating with Chili Dogs and Creamy Coleslaw with a recipe adapted from Tyler Florence.

Happy September!