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Spider Deviled Eggs

In Appetizers / Starters On October 6, 2022 0 Comments


Lookin’ for a fun Halloween starter? These spider deviled eggs befit the occasion and require a short prep time. Happy Halloween!

Inactive prep time: 12 minutes for boiling eggs & 15-16 minutes cooling time)
Active prep time: 8 minutes (for filling & assembling eggs)
Makes: 5 servings (2 pieces each)

5 boiled eggs (METHOD – place eggs in a saucepot; cover with water & boil on medium-low heat for 12 minutes. You should see a rolling boil. If heat is too high, the eggs will crack open).
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon pureed & strained chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
ground paprika (for garnish)
miniature plastic spiders (for decoration)


1. After eggs have boiled for 12 minutes, place them in lukewarm water; let cool for 15-16 minutes.

2. When eggs have cooled, peel each one carefully; set aside on a cutting board.

3. Cut each egg in half (lengthwise) and scoop out the cooked egg yolk. Place egg yolks in a 2-cup mixing bowl or in a small bowl of a stand mixer.

4. Add the mayonnaise, chipotle chile, Dijon mustard and salt.

5. Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer, mix the egg yolk ingredients until smooth and uniform.

6. Transfer the egg yolk filling to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.

7, Using a swirling motion, fill each egg half and set on a serving platter.

8. Garnish with ground paprika and decorate with plastic spiders.

NOTE: This egg starter can be prepared a day ahead (WITHOUT PAPRIKA GARNISH & SPIDERS), stored on a platter and loosely covered with aluminum foil.

TO SERVE: One hour before serving, set the Spider Deviled Eggs platter on a counter at room temperature. At serving time, garnish eggs with paprika & decorate with plastic spiders.
Text & Photograph ©2022 Nancy DeLucia Real

Eggplant & Lamb Stew (Khoresh-e-bademjian, Persian)

In Meats On September 16, 2022 0 Comments


Living in a metropolis like Los Angeles introduces us to people from different countries. Many of us have immigrated here and brought our histories, cultures and delicious foods.  For the last 20 years, I’ve been fortunate to make new friends from Iran (its ancient name is “Persia”). When my family and I go to our friends’ homes, we dance to exotic Persian music and share our experiences in lively conversation. Last but not least, we feast on colorful foods made with  meats, vegetables and fruits!

Here’s one of my favorite Persian dishes – Eggplant and Lamb Stew. NOTE: Taking the time to prep this dish is worth it!

Active Prep Time: 30-40 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 3 hours (2-1/2 for stewing meat & 30 minutes in oven)
Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients for Stew:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds lamb stew meat (boneless leg of lamb, cut into 4-inch chunks)
2 large white or yellow onions, peeled & thinly sliced
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron, dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup frozen sour grapes, optional (buy this product at a Middle Eastern supermarket)
2 cups tomato puree, combined with 2 cups water in a bowl
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons honey or sugar (optional, should you need to adjust sour/sweet level)
6 small Italian eggplants
2 tablespoons salt (for the eggplant)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Ingredients for Garnish:
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and thinly-sliced into half-moons
1 large tomato, diced

Directions for Stew:
1. In an 8-quart sauce pot, heat 3 tablespoons of oil. When oil is hot (not smoking), add the lamb chunks.

2. Brown the lamb, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

3. When lamb is brown, add onions, salt, pepper, saffron water, sour grapes, tomato puree mixture and the lime juice.

4. Simmer the lamb with added ingredients for 2 to 2-1/2 hours on low heat, semi-covered. Stir occasionally and, if the liquid dries out, add 1/2 cup water to prevent sticking at bottom of sauce pot.

5. After the lamb stew simmers for one hour, add the cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg; stir and taste. If needed, adjust salt and spice levels.

6. If stew tastes too “sour”, add some honey or sugar; taste & adjust sour/sweet levels.

7. Occasionally add small amounts of water to prevent drying and the stew sticking to bottom of sauce pot.

8. While the meat continues cooking, cut & discard top stems from eggplants; peel the eggplants.

9. Set eggplants in a colander over a bowl; sprinkle eggplants with a little water and then coat them with 2 tablespoons salt.

10. Let bitter juices from the eggplant drain for about 10 minutes.

11. After 10 minutes, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil on medium heat.

12. On medium-high heat, fry the eggplant until brown on each side.

13. Drain the eggplant on paper towel-lined plate; set aside.

14. After stew has cooked for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, taste the lamb. It should be fork-tender. If not, cook stew for an additional 10 minutes.

Directions for Assembling Stew & Eggplant:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Transfer the stew to a glass Pyrex baking dish measuring 14 X 9 inches.

3. Place eggplant on top of stew; set aside.

4. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons oil and fry the sliced onion for about 4 minutes or until translucent and light golden.

5. Stir in the tomato cubes; cook on medium heat for 2 minutes.

6. Spread the onion-tomato garnish over the stew in Pyrex baking dish; cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

7. Serve the Eggplant & Lamb Stew with steamed Basmati rice.
Text & Photograph ©2022 Nancy DeLucia Real

Melon Granita

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Fruit and Jams, Fun Foods On August 7, 2022 0 Comments


Granita is a frozen Italian dessert, usually made with fresh fruit. It’s similar to sorbet. This melon granita recipe is so easy to make. The freezer does it all, even while you sleep. Enjoy this cool dessert on a hot summer day!

Active Prep Time: 5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 4 hours or overnight
Makes: 4 half-cup servings

2 cups melon cubes (cantaloup or honeydew)
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Juice from 1/2 of a lime
One small watermelon and melon scooper (for garnish)
Fresh mint sprigs (optional)

1. In a blender, combine the melon, water, sugar and lime juice; puree until smooth.

2. Gently pour the melon mixture into a 9-inch round metal baking pan; transfer it to a freezer, uncovered.

3. Freeze the melon mixture for 4 hours or overnight.

4. After the melon mixture has become frozen, prepare the watermelon balls.

5. Using a melon scooper, form about 32 to 36 watermelon balls and place them on a plate; cover and store the watermelon balls in refrigerator.

6. Saving remaining watermelon for another use.

7. Meanwhile, place pan with frozen melon mixture on a counter.

8. Using a fork, make scrape-marks in the frozen melon mixture.

9. The scraping will create flakes – this is the “granita”.

10. Continue scraping until all the granita is made.

11. Divide the granita among 4 half-cup glass or porcelain bowls such as ramekins.

12. Place the bowls on a small, individual plates – garnish with watermelon balls and fresh mint sprigs. Serve immediately.
Text & Photograph ©2022 Nancy DeLucia Real


Velvety Beet Hummus (Vegan)

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Holidays On June 8, 2022 0 Comments


This is the best hummus we’ve ever made- it’s delicate, sweet and velvety. Make this Velvety Beet Hummus in five minutes. It’s a great starter for all palates!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes: about 3 to 3-1/2 cups

One 14-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons Tahini (this is sesame seed paste, available in Middle Eastern section of supermarkets)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons sunflower or safflower oil (or your choice of vegetable oil)
Juice from 1 to 1-1/2 limes
1 cup diced, cooked beets

1. In a food processor, combine the garbanzo beans, garlic, Tahini, salt, olive oil, vegetable oil and lime juice.

2. Process to a paste.

3. Add the beets; process the mixture until smooth (you will see tiny specks of beet in the hummus).

4. Taste and, if needed, adjust salt and lime juice levels.

5. Transfer the hummus to a glass or porcelain serving bowl; garnish with olive oil and mint leaves. Serve with pita bread wedges, crackers or tortilla chips.

6. NOTE: This Velvety Beet Hummus can be made up to two days ahead, tightly sealed and refrigerated. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.
Text & Photograph ©2022 Nancy DeLucia Real

Tortilla Pizza For One

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Pizzas, Savory Tarts & Quiches On May 12, 2022 0 Comments


Hungry while working at home but you only have a package of tortillas and some jack cheese in the fridge? Don’t fret – make this gourmet Tortilla Pizza in an instant! For more servings, just double, triple or quadruple the recipe.

Prep time: 3 to 5 minutes (includes broiling)
Serves: 1

1 flour or corn tortilla (I used a six-inch corn tortilla)
1/4 to 1/3 cup mixed, shredded Jack Cheese & Mozzarella Cheese
Add a fav topping such as sliced olives, salami or prosciutto bits  (I added marinated sun-dried tomato pieces)

1. Place the tortilla on a baking sheet (no parchment paper or it will burn underneath broiler).

2. Spread cheese over top of tortilla; top with fav topping.

3. Place the baking sheet on a rack positioned six inches from top oven broiler grill.

4. Turn on oven at “BROIL” setting.

5. Broil the tortilla pizza for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese has melted and turned light golden brown. NOTE: Stand watch to prevent charring.

6. Enjoy the Tortilla Pizza alone or make more for your friends and/or family!
Text & Photograph ©2022 Nancy DeLucia Real