Ricotta Bruschetta with Roasted Tomatoes & Spicy Honey

This slightly spicy appetizer could also serve as a light lunch with a chilled pinot blanc. Go easy on the calabrian chili paste, it’s strong and hot but balanced beautifully with the honey. Make sure the ricotta is at room temperature, as it’s easier to whisk in the oil. Depending on the size of the cherry tomatoes (and your bread slices), each slice of ciabatta holds about 6 to 7. Serves 6.

ricotta-bruschetta.jpg

Recipe

Bruschetta:
1 c. ricotta, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. olive oil
6 thick slices of ciabatta
6 fresh basil leaves

Tomatoes:
42 cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 sprigs fresh basil, torn
2-3 T. olive oil
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Spicy Honey:
1/2 c. honey
1-1/2 tsp. Calabrian chili paste
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 T. water

To Toast the Ciabatta: Heat oven to 400-degrees. Put the ciabatta slices on a sheet pan and roast for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned – keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn (which can happen quickly!). When they come out of the oven, rub a cut clove of garlic over each piece, and then brush some olive oil on both sides. Set aside.

For the Tomatoes: These also go into a 400-degree oven. Spread the tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil, and salt on a small rimmed baking sheet and toss well to coat. Roast until they have popped, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

For the Spicy Honey: Combine the honey, Calabrian chili paste, salt and 2 T. water in a small nonstick skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool completely.

For the Bruschetta: Whisk together the ricotta, salt and 2 T. olive oil in a bowl. Spread the ricotta on the ciabatta slices. Add 7 tomatoes each and drizzle with the spicy honey. Top with the basil sprig (you could also chop the basil and scatter over the top).

— Giada de Laurentiis, Food Network

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

I’ve been making a lot of bread lately, and this recipe does not disappoint! It’s quick and easy to make and is the perfect balance of lemon to poppy seeds. Yum! Delicious any time of day – for breakfast, or with fruit and whipped cream for dessert. Inspired by a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi.

IMG_4280.jpg

Recipe

3 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. sour cream
5 T. butter
1-1/2 T. poppy seeds
3 T. grated lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
1-1/3 c. King Arthur gluten free measure-for-measure flour or all-purpose flour
1-1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Grease the loaf pan and set aside.

Place the eggs and sugar in your Kitchenaid mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, until pale and frothy. Add the sour cream and whisk for 2 more minutes until combined.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Take off the heat and stir in the poppy seeds and lemon zest and set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl, and use a rubber spatula to fold this into the egg mixture before folding in the butter, poppy seeds, and lemon zest.

Spoon the mixture into the loaf pan. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not open the oven door to check on the cake during the first 45 minutes of baking. Let rest for 10 minutes and turn out onto a rack to cool.

Chicken, Broccoli & Cauliflower Bake

Curry, lemon, and tarragon is a perfect marriage of flavor and the raisins add another surprising note. Since I have been limiting dairy, I used soy cheddar cheese shreds. This casserole is pretty forgiving in the type of vegetable or cheese that you may have on hand.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Recipe

3 chicken breasts, cut widthways in 3/4” slices
3 tsp. curry powder, divided
salt & pepper
6 T. butter, divided
12 oz. Trader Joe Broccoli-Cauliflower heads (or 2 heads broccoli, about 3 cups)
1/4 lb. green beans, ends trimmed, cut in 2” pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 c. half ‘n half
1 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. raisins
1 lemon — zest half the lemon, for 2 tsp. and juice to get 1-1/2 T. 
1 tsp. dried tarragon or 1 T. fresh, chopped
1-1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
1/3 c. panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.

In a medium saucepan, bring salted water to a boil, add the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and leave in the colander to dry.

In a bowl, mix the chicken with 2 tsp. curry powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and some freshly ground pepper. Melt 2 T. butter in a large saute pan on high heat and fry the chicken for 1 minute on each side until browned. Do this in batches if your pan isn’t large enough to hold all the chicken without crowding. Remove chicken and set aside.

Melt 2 T. butter in the saute pan on medium-high heat and fry the onion, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes until soft. Stir in the garlic and remaining teaspoon of curry powder and fry for 2 minutes. Add the half ‘n half, chicken stock, raisins, lemon zest, lemon juice, tarragon, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper, and cook for 8 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Return the chicken to the pan with the vegetables and half of the cheese. Stir to coat, then pour into a 8x12” baking dish.

Put the panko and remaining cheese into a bowl. Melt the remaining 2 T. butter and pour over the panko and cheese, mix and sprinkle evenly over the chicken casserole. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve hot with rice.

– inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s Coronation Chicken and Broccoli Bake recipe

Greek Dinner Menu

What a perfect meal! I had to post each of the recipes so you can also enjoy this delicious menu. A homey, warming dish, the cinnamon chicken is a good choice for a casual supper and definitely tasty enough for company. I served it over gluten free chickpea macaroni noodles accompanied by a tossed Greek salad. Mini baklava bites with a scoop of your favorite ice cream round out the meal. Serves 4-6.

cinnamon-chicken-kapama.jpg

Chicken Kapama

with a subtle cinnamon flavor

Recipe

2 chicken breasts + 4 thighs, bone in, skin on (or a 2-1/2 to 3 lb. chicken cut into 8 pieces)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I used Penzys Vietnamese cinnamon)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic (3 minced, the other 2 left whole)
2 T. olive oil
4 c. yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. dry white wine
2 c. water
6-oz. can tomato paste
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1/2 c. Myzithra cheese, grated
Noodles, pasta, or rice for serving

Pat chicken dry with paper towels. In a small bowl mix the ground cinnamon, salt and pepper, then rub all over the chicken pieces. Heat 2 T. oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side. You may have to do this in two batches. Don’t crowd the chicken or it will steam instead of getting a good sear. When browned, remove from pan and set aside.

Add the onions and minced garlic to the pan and cook about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until onions are softened and golden brown. Add the wine and stir to get up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. When the wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes, stir in the tomato paste until mixed, then add the water, 2 whole garlic cloves, and the 2 whole cinnamon sticks. Return the chicken to the pan; the liquid should cover about three-quarters of the chicken. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Taste and add more kosher salt or pepper if needed. Serve over noodles or rice, sprinkled with plenty of grated Myzithra cheese.

Freeze any leftover sauce, or use it to top pasta or chicken for lunch the next day.

– inspired by Chef Cat Cora’s Kota Kapama

tossed-greek-salad.jpg

Greek Salad

using green beans instead of cucumber

Recipe

1/2 lb. green beans, ends trimmed, cut in half crosswise
1 lb. grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 lb. feta cheese
3 T. red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
1 small shallot, chopped
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
2 large basil leaves
1/4 c. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the beans in a pot of boiling salted water for 4 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. In a blender or mini processor, combine the red wine vinegar, garlic clove, shallot, mustard, oregano, thyme, and basil and puree until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the blanched green beans, tomato halves, red onion. and crumbled feta. Toss with the vinaigrette and serve immediately.

– inspired by Chef Michael Psilakis’ Chopped Greek Salad

mini-baklava-bites.jpg

Baklava Bites

find phyllo shells in frozen foods section of your grocery store

Recipe

1/2 c. pistachios
1/2 c. walnuts
1/2 c. almonds
1 lemon, zested
1/4 c. plus 3 T. sugar
2 T. butter, melted
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 boxes mini phyllo shells, 15 shells each
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. honey

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Put the pistachios, walnuts, and almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly and add to a food processor with the lemon zest, 3 T. sugar, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and melted butter. Pulse to combine.

Take the frozen phyllo shells and place in a mini cupcake pan. If you don’t have a mini cupcake pan, place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Add 1 tsp. of the nut mixture into each shell. Bake at 350-degrees for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the water and honey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until reduced and slightly thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Pour 1 tsp. syrup into each phyllo cup and allow it to soak in. Repeat with another 1 tsp. Refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight. Serve at room temperature. Keep the phyllo cup packaging to store any leftover baklava bites. Makes 30.

– Sunny Anderson, Food Network

Dried Fruit Scones

This quick and delicious recipe works well for any dried fruit. Here I used dried cherries and toasted slivered almonds. I’ve also used a cup of dried wild blueberries that worked beautifully! If you’re like me and dairy doesn’t agree with you, almond milk (other other nut milks) works just as well as heavy cream. Makes 8.

scones.jpg

Recipe

2 c. gluten free or all-purpose flour
1/3 to 1/2 c. sugar, depending on your sweet tooth!
1 T. baking powder
1 T. lemon zest (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 T. cold butter, cut in chunks
3/4 c. dried cherries
1/4 c. toasted slivered almonds, roughly chopped
1-1/4 c. almond milk (or half ‘n half or heavy cream)

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, salt, and cinnamon. Add the butter to the flour mixture and rub with your fingers until a coarse meal forms and the butter is well distributed. Stir in the cherries and almonds. Add the almond milk and stir together just to incorporate; don’t overwork the dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a rectangle, about 12” by 3” by 1-1/4” high (a slightly flattened log shape). Cut the rectangle in half, then cut the pieces in half again, giving you four approx. 3” squares. Cut the squares in half on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle scone shape.

Place the scones on a parchment lined sheet pan and brush the tops with a little milk. Bake for 25 minutes.