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Stuffed Mushrooms

In Appetizers / Starters, Holidays, Vegetables On December 8, 2016 0 Comments

Need a great starter to go with the bubbly at Christmastime? Assemble these stuffed mushrooms a few hours ahead and refrigerate them. At serving time, preheat the oven and bake them. Made with all-vegetarian ingredients, the mushrooms will be devoured in no time. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Prep time (stuffing): 15 minutes
Bake time: 15 to 17 minutes
Makes 12 to 14 stuffed mushrooms

Ingredients:
One 8-ounce package white mushrooms, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely-chopped brown or white onion
3 to 4 slices day-old Italian bread
1 large egg, beaten
3 tablespoons grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
2 to 3 tablespoons minced, fresh mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash ground black pepper

Directions for the Stuffing:
1. Remove stems from mushroom caps; finely chop the stems and set aside in a small bowl.

2. In a 10 or 12-inch skillet, heat the oil on high.

3. As soon as the oil is hot (it should not smoke), lower it to medium-high and stir in the chopped mushroom stems.

4. Using a wooden spoon or cooking spatula, stir-fry the chopped mushroom stems on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes.

5. After 2 minutes, add the chopped onion and stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes or until onion is translucent.

6. Transfer the mushroom-onion mixture to a bowl – set aside to cool for a few minutes.

7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.

8. Take 3 bread slices and quickly pass them under cold water; squeeze the excess water out of bread slices.

9. Discard the crusts and crumble the softened bread into a 2-cup bowl.

10. Add the beaten egg, grated cheese, minced mint leaves, salt and black pepper; stir to combine.

11. Stir in the mushroom-onion mixture. If mixture is too wet and does not amalgamate, soak the remaining bread slice (discard crusts) and crumble it into the mushroom stuffing.

12. Taste stuffing for salt level. If needed, add a tiny amount of salt.

13. Divide the stuffing onto the inverted mushroom caps.

Directions for Baking the Stuffed Mushrooms:

1. Oil a baking sheet and place the stuffed mushrooms (stuffing side up) on it.

2. Set the baking sheet with stuffed mushrooms on a rack positioned in center of oven.

3. Bake the mushrooms for 15 minutes.

4. After 15 minutes, check to see if stuffed mushrooms have turned light golden brown. If not, bake them for an additional 2 minutes. Serve stuffed mushrooms hot.

Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Grilled Eggplant & Tomatoes

In Appetizers / Starters, Vegetables On July 18, 2016 0 Comments

With work and summer weather, I don’t feel like heating up the kitchen. But I still prefer eating delicious and healthy vegetables at home.

So here’s what I’ve been makin’ in minutes – grilled eggplant! Serve Grilled Eggplant & Tomatoes as an appetizer or side dish. It tastes so good!

Prep time: 16 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 large eggplant, tips cut off and discarded & flesh cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
olive oil (for brushing eggplant slices)
Salt (for lightly sprinkling over eggplant slices)
8 to 10 cherry tomatoes
Fresh rosemary leaves, to taste

Directions:
1. Line an 18 X 12 baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

2. Place some olive oil in a small bowl.

3. With a basting brush, coat the lined baking sheet lightly with oil; set aside.

4. Place the eggplant slices on the oil-coated baking sheet.

5. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt.

6. Transfer the baking sheet with eggplant slices to an oven rack positioned 6 inches from oven’s top broiler element (this is the electric conduit at top of oven that turns red when control knobs are set on “broil”).

7. Broil the eggplant slices for about 7 to 8 minutes per side or until they turn golden brown.

8. Using oven mitts, transfer baking sheet with eggplant slices to a counter.

9. Turn the eggplant slices over. Repeat oil coating and salting directions.

10. Return baking sheet with eggplant to oven rack. Broil eggplant slices for 7 to 8 minutes or until they are golden brown.

11. Transfer baking sheet with eggplant to a counter.

12. Gently transfer eggplant slices to a serving platter.

13. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them intermittently on top of and around eggplant slices.

14. Lightly sprinkle olive oil over eggplant and tomatoes.

15. Remove rosemary leaves (they are spiky) from stems; garnish eggplant and tomatoes with rosemary leaves.

16.Serve immediately or cover until ready to serve.
Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Tomato-Ricotta Tapas

In Appetizers / Starters, Vegetables On June 2, 2016 0 Comments

Tapas is Spanish for “appetizers”. In Spain, these small bites are made with all sorts of ingredients – eggs, seafood, ham and vegetables.

Since tomatoes are abundant right now, serve these Tomato-Ricotta Tapas as a starter to any meal.

Ingredients:
8 vine-ripened, mediu-sized tomatoes (they should be about 2 to 2-1/2 inches in diameter)
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese (whole-milk or part-skim)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
8 fresh oregano leaves (whole, for garnish)
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Using a sharp knife, slice off the tomato tops and discard.

2. With an espresso spoon, gently remove the pulp inside tomatoes; discard.

3. Set tomatoes aside on a serving plate.

4. Meanwhile, transfer the ricotta to a 2-cup bowl.

5. Using a spoon, stir in the thyme and finely chopped oregano leaves, salt and pepper.

6. Stir the ricotta mixture well until all ingredients are blended.

7. Transfer the ricotta mixture to a piping bag fitted with a star tip.

8. Fill each tomato with ricotta mixture.

9. Garnish the filled tomatoes with whole oregano leaves (1 per tomato).

10. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to one hour.
Text & Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Ceviche with Carrots & Cilantro

In Appetizers / Starters, Fish & Shellfish On January 9, 2016 0 Comments

After the holidays, I’m preparing delicious, guilt-free foods.

This ceviche recipe is from Mexico. The fish is marinated in lime juice. Just add carrots, cilantro, onion, olive oil … it’s fantastic! You can serve ceviche on tostadas as a starter. Alternatively, these tostadas are perfect for a light lunch or dinner.

Active prep time: 15 minutes
Inactive prep time: 1 hour (fish & lime juice marinate in refrigerator)
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh cod or halibut fillets
Juice from 12 to 14 limes
1/2 cup chopped, red onion
1 carrot, peeled and finely shredded
1/3 cup finely-chopped cilantro (coriander)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh jalapeño pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
12 corn tostada shells

Directions:
1. Rinse the fish fillets under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.

2. Place the fillets in a 3-quart glass or porcelain bowl.

3. Using shears, make continuous cuts into the fillets until 1/2-inch pieces have formed.

4. Pour the lime juice over the fish pieces; cover bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator.

5. Leave the fish and lime juice to marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour.

6. Meanwhile, place the chopped onion in a glass or porcelain bowl and cover it with cold water; set aside.

7. After one hour, transfer the bowl with the fish to a counter near a sink.

8. Wearing cooks’ rubber or plastic gloves, grab a handful of fish and squeeze out the excess lime juice over a sink.

9. Place the squeezed fish pieces in a clean glass or porcelain bowl.

10. Continue this process until all the fish has been drained of excess lime juice.

11. Rinse the gloves and, using the same squeezing process, repeat this technique with the onion.

12. Add the squeezed onion pieces to the fish ceviche in bowl.

13. Stir in the carrot, cilantro, jalapeño, olive oil, salt and pepper.

14. Place 3 tablespoons ceviche on a corn tostada shell. Repeat this procedure on remaining tostada shells. Serve immediately.
Wine pairing: Chilled Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Toasts with Prosciutto, Green Onions & Oregano

In Appetizers / Starters On December 25, 2015 0 Comments

Here’s an easy appetizer to go along with the bubbly on New Year’s Eve – eat, drink and be cautious.
Happy New Year!

Prep time: 20 to 25 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
18 slices toasts made from baguette bread (½-inch thick slices)
10 slices prosciutto (they should not be paper thin, but a little thicker)
6 green onions, dark green stems and bottom tips cut and discarded
3 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves removed & stems discarded
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Arugula leaves, optional (for garnish)

Directions:
1. Toast the bread slices until they are light golden brown; set them aside on a platter.

2. Coarsely chop the prosciutto slices and set aside in a bowl.

3. Meanwhile, cut the green onions in 1/8-inch thick circles; set aside in a separate bowl.

4. Chop the oregano leaves; set them aside on the cutting board.

5. With stove setting on high, heat the olive oil in a skillet. When the oil is hot, add the chopped prosciutto with onions and chopped oregano.

6. Reduce heat to medium and, with a wooden spoon, stir-fry the mixture for 1 to 2 minutes or until the onions are softened and translucent.

7. Stir in the pepper. Spread the prosciutto mixture evenly over toasts.

8. If desired, garnish with arugula leaves and serve immediately.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real