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Zucchini Chips

In Fun Foods, Vegetables On June 1, 2020 0 Comments

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These zucchini chips are fun to make and fun to snack on! Just slice them and air dry overnight. Broil them in oven and you’re done. They’ll disappear in seconds!

Prep time: 5 minutes for cutting & overnight drying
Broil time: 6 to 7 minutes per side
Makes: 30 to 40 chips

Ingredients:
One 18 X 12-inch baking sheet (you can use a larger one for more zucchini)
parchment paper (to line baking sheet)
3 to 4 zucchini
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt, for lightly sprinkling zucchini

Directions:
1. Line an 18 X 12-inch (or larger) baking sheet

2. On a cutting board, cut and discard zucchini tips.

3. Cut remaining zucchini into 1/4-inch thick slices.

4. Place the zucchini rings on parchment-lined baking sheet, lightly sprinkle with salt & let air dry 8 hours or overnight.

5. Line another 18 X 12-inch (or larger) baking sheet and “lightly” oil it with a basting brush.

6. Transfer the zucchini rings (salt side up) to second baking sheet.

7. Turn on the oven “broiler” – this is the overhead element that turns red for broiling or grilling in oven.

8. Transfer the baking sheet with zucchini rings to oven rack positioned 6 inches away from oven broiler element.

9. Broil zucchini rings 6 to 7 minutes per side or until they turn golden brown and crisp but not charred.

10. Transfer the zucchini chips to a platter and serve as a snack or as a side dish.

Text & Photograph ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real

 

 

Brown Rice Confetti Salad

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains), Salads On May 5, 2020 1 Comment

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This salad is delicious as a side or as a buffet dish for any celebration. Make it for Mother’s Day – they’ll love it!

Prep time: 15 minutes (to assemble ingredients)
Makes: 3 to 4 cups

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups cooked, brown rice
4 to 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled & finely shredded
2/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/2 cup chopped, fresh chives
5 to 6 fresh mint leaves, slivered
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
salt & ground black pepper, to taste
Dash cumin

Directions:
1. Cook rice according to package directions.

2. If rice has excess liquid after cooking, drain and discard the liquid.

3. Transfer the rice to a 4-quart glass or porcelain bowl & stir in the olive oil.

4. Let rice cool to room temperature.

5. When rice is at room temperature, stir in remaining ingredients; toss, taste & adjust seasonings.

6. Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap & serve later in the day.

7. Brown Rice Confetti Salad can be made early in the morning. Any leftovers will keep, refrigerated, up to 3 days.
Text & Photograph ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real

Marinated Eggplant

In Appetizers / Starters, Vegetables On April 29, 2020 0 Comments

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I learned the art of making marinated eggplant from my dear friend, Michelina Codipietro, from Isernia in the Southern region of Molise, Italy. Michelina took away my fears, saying that it was quite easy. This eggplant indeed marinates for 48 hours (it makes itself) and labor is minimal.

A great project for our current “lockdown” and a guarantee that you’ll never buy the readymade version again.

Prep time: 25-3o minutes (peeling & cutting eggplant)
Marinating time: 48 hours
Makes: 2 pint-size mason jars (each pint = 2 cups)

Ingredients:
3 large eggplants, peeled
2 tablespoons salt
4 quarts cold water (16 cups total)
1 quart distilled vinegar (4 cups total)
Juice from 1 lemon
2 cups organic sunflower or safflower oil (for marinating)
Scant 1/2 teaspoon dried, crushed red chili flakes
One 6 to 8-quart saucepot with cover (for marinating eggplant)

Directions for Marinating Eggplant:
1. Working crosswise, cut eggplant into 1/4-inch thick slices.

2. Mound 3 slices eggplant on top of each other; cut them into 3/8-inch thick strips.

3. Transfer strips to saucepot, sprinkle with a light layer of salt.

4. Repeat with remaining eggplants, transferring the strips to saucepot & sprinkling with salt, as you go along.

5. When all eggplant strips have been transferred to saucepot, pour the water, vinegar and juice from 1 lemon over the eggplant.

6. Cover saucespot with eggplant, set on a counter and let marinate for 48 hours (2 days).

Directions for Draining & Canning Eggplant:
1. After 48 hours (2 days), working over a sink & wearing cooks’ plastic gloves, grab a handful of eggplant strips and squeeze & drain the liquid completely.

2. Transfer drained eggplant to a 12-cup glass or porcelain bowl.

3. Repeat squeezing & draining remaining eggplant, one handful at a time; transfer to bowl.

4. When all eggplant strips have been drained and set in bowl, add about 1/2 cup safflower or sunflower oil, dried, crushed chili flakes (to taste) and mix.

5. Taste the eggplant and adjust seasonings, to taste.

6. Divide the eggplant strips between two pint-size mason jars.

7. Cover with the oil.

8. Make sure you pack down the eggplant, so as not to leave air bubbles.

9. Add more oil until it rises 1/2-inch above top of eggplant.

10. Cover and seal with lids.

Storing Marinated Eggplant:
1. Place the two mason jars of eggplant in refrigerator.

2. Every time you scoop out some eggplant and serve, make sure remaining eggplant in jar is topped with safflower or sunflower oil 1/2 inch above top of eggplant. Seal and refrigerate once more.

3. Eggplant can be stored in refrigerator up to 2 months (always covered with oil).
Text & Photograph ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real

 

 

Conchas (Mexican Sweet Bread)

In Breads, Crêpes, Pancakes & Puddings On April 8, 2020 0 Comments

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Conchas is Spanish for “seashells”. Conchas are one of the most popular type of sweet bread  (pan dulce) found in Mexican bakeries. They are light, fluffy and not too sweet. Enjoy this recipe!

Prep time: 20 minutes
Rise or Proof time: 90 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes
Makes: 12 conchas

Ingredients for the Bread Dough:
1 cup warm water
1 envelope (2-1/2 teaspoons) yeast
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm water (to be added gradually)
3 cups flour plus 1/2 cup extra flour for kneading dough

Directions:
1. In a metal or plastic bowl, combine the warm water & yeast; swirl around bowl to combine.

2. Cover yeast mixture with aluminum foil, set on a warm surface (wood or plastic); let sit for 5 minutes.

3. After 5 minutes, in a stand mixer fitted with a bowl or a regular mixing bowl with handheld mixer, combine the yeast mixture with the vegetable oil, sugar and salt.

4. Mix on medium speed until mixture is uniform.

5. Gradually add 2/3 cup warm water to yeast mixture until well-blended.

6. Add the flour, a little at a time, until a dough forms.

7. Transfer the dough onto a lightly-floured surface; knead until dough is uniform and elastic.

8. Place kneaded dough on a lightly-floured wooden board; cover with a bowl turned upside down. DO NOT PLACE DOUGH ON COLD STONE, MARBLE OR GRANITE SURFACES, AS IT WILL NOT RISE.

9. Let dough rise 1 hour (60 minutes).

10. After 1 hour, divide the risen dough into 12 balls.

11. On two 18 X 12-inch baking sheets lined with parchment paper,  place dough balls 3 inches apart (6 dough balls per baking sheet).

12. Place baking sheets with dough balls in a cold oven and let rise for 30 minutes (this will keep the dough away from any draft).

13. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings.

Ingredients for the Vanilla & Chocolate Toppings:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 powdered sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4- inch thick squares
6 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:
1. In a stand mixer fitted with a bowl or a regular 4 to 6-quart mixing bowl, combine the flour, powdered sugar, granulated sugar & baking powder.

2. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut into the butter squares until they are the size of peas.

3. Add the vanilla & mix with pastry cutter.

4. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a dough forms.

5. Divide the dough in two; place one-half of dough in a separate bowl.

For the vanilla topping:

1. Gather dough in hands & divide it into 6 equal pieces.

2. Shape the pieces into balls; set aside.

3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F.

For the chocolate topping: place the other half of dough into a mixing bowl.

1. Add cocoa powder and mix it into the dough until it is uniform.

2. Gather dough in hands & divide it into 6 equal pieces.

3. Shape the pieces into balls; set aside.

Rolling out the Vanilla & Chocolate Dough Toppings:
1. Lightly flatten each ball between two sheets of plastic wrap.

2. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough ball to a 5-inch circle & set aside.

3. Repeat rolling out dough with remaining dough balls; set aside.

Assembling Toppings on the Conchas & Baking:
1. Place the 12 rolled-out vanilla and chocolate topping dough over the conchas in baking sheets.

2. Using a paring knife, cut grooves into the dough to resemble a shell.

3. Bake the conches for 20 to 25 minutes or until dough is light golden brown.
Text & Photograph ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real

Nancy’s Best Apple Pie

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Pies & Sweet Tarts On March 26, 2020 0 Comments

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Yesterday (during our COVID-19 confinement), I thought of making my best pastry, slicing apples and voila! I made a delicious apple pie. Thinking ahead in our current situation, I froze the pie for a future dinner. What the heck – all I have to do is defrost the pie and warm it in the oven. Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream or gelato for “a la mode” style.

NOTE:  At this point in our home-confinement, kids will have fun with this recipe. Try it!

Pastry Ingredients for 9 to 10-inch pie pan:
2-2/3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup safflower or sunflower oil
4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

Prepare Pastry Dough:
1. In a 4-quart mixing bowl, measure flour and salt; add oil.

2. Mix with pastry cutter or a fork until particles are size of small peas.

3. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough amalgamates. If needed, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons water.

4. Gather dough into a ball; divide it into 2 balls. Cover in plastic wrap and place in freezer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the apples:

Ingredients for Apple Filling:
6 large apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3/4 cup granulated, unbleached sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix the Apple Filling:
1. Place the sliced apples in 4 to 6-quart mixing bowl; set aside.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.

3. Add the dry flour-spice mixture to the apples and stir well with a large spoon. Set aside.

Roll Out the Pastry Dough:
1. Lightly flour two waxed paper sheets, each measuring 16 inches long.

2. Flatten one dough ball into a circle until it is 3/4 inches thick. Place it between the floured waxed sheets.

3. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the pastry using short strokes going outward. You may have to lift and re-flour the sheets so the dough will not stick.

4. Peel off top waxed sheet and, placing one hand underneath bottom sheet with pastry dough, make a quick flip into pie pan. Peel off remaining waxed sheet.

5. Repeat rolling out instructions for remaining pastry dough. Peel off top waxed sheet and set aside.

Fill and Seal the Pie:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Using a fork or knife, make holes in pastry lining the pan.

3. Give the applies a mix and turn them into the pastry-lined pan. They should sit in a mound.

4. Using a pastry wheel, cut 1-inch wide strips from the remaining pastry dough.

5. Beginning with longest strip, place it in center over top of apples. Place remaining strips on each side of center strip – one inch apart.

6. On the diagonal, repeat laying out remaining strips over first layer of strips.

7. Trim edges of pastry to 1-inch overhang.

8. With fingers, grab & roll pastry edges under to edge of pie pan. Make a curvy design as you work around pie pan.

9. Cover edges of pastry with 1-inch wide strips of aluminum foil (this prevents burning).

10. Place pie pan on a rack positioned in center of oven & bake 30 minutes.

11. After 30 minutes, remove foil strips and bake additional 5 minutes.

12. Immediately transfer pie to cooling rack or wooden board set on a counter.

13. Serve apple pie warm with vanilla ice cream or gelato.

ALTERNATIVELY, FOR STORAGE:

  1. COVER PIE WITH PLASTIC WRAP AND REFRIGERATE UNTIL THE NEXT DAY; OR
  2. COVER PIE WITH PLASTIC WRAP. THEN, PLACE PIE IN A LARGE PLASTIC BAG (USE WHITE KITCHEN TRASH BAGS).
  3. REMOVE AIR AND MAKE A KNOT IN FIRST BAG.
  4. PLACE BAG WITH PIE IN 2ND BAG & SECURE WITH A KNOT; PLACE IN FREEZER. DOUBLE BAGS WILL KEEP OUT THE “FREEZER BURN”.
  5. ON DAY OF SERVING, BRING PIE TO ROOM TEMPERATURE.
  6. PREHEAT OVEN TO 350°F.
  7. COVER TOP OF PIE TO EDGES WITH ALUMINUM FOIL, PLACE IT ON A RACK POSITIONED IN CENTER OF OVEN & WARM IT FOR 30 MINUTES.
    Text & Photographs ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real