Recipes from previous posts

Here are the past recipes from my previous blog:
Here is a recipe for Cachacha Mojitos. Cachacha is a Brazilian form of rum distilled from pure sugar cane rather than molasses.
1. 1.5 - 2 oz. of Cachaça
2. 2 teaspoons of sugar. (raw evaporated sugar cane or Turbinado sugar is best)
3. 1 Lime, cut into wedges.
4. 5-6 mint leaves (preferably fresh)
5. . Enough ice to fill up the glass one and half times (crushed is fantastic, but regular will work just fine)Put mint and sugar in a shaker. Squeeze some lime in also (from a wedge) Muddle with a pestle until mint is torn and mashed up and most of the sugar is dissolved.Add Cachaca to the shaker. Fill your glass with ice. Pour the ice in the shaker. Shake for half a minute then pour into a glass. Top the glass with ice and enjoy.
Garnish with lime and sprig of mint.Another great garnish is a stick of peeled sugar cane if you can get it.

This comes from the Grill Book, New Food and Flavors for the Grill:http://www.strandbooks.com/app/www/p/qsearch?author=McCune%2C+Kelly%3B+Thomas+Ingalls%2C+Designer%3B+David+Barich%2C+Producer

It was rated the top specialty book of 1987 (yes I have had it awhile, it is out of print!) By the International Association of Cooking Professionals and Joseph E Seagram and Sons. The recipes are excellent and the pictures are wonderful.

This recipe is for a grill marinade that I used on Chicken using Marsala Wine. It is very Italian so a great accompaniment would be some cooked spaghetti with a simple Italian tomato sauce and maybe some garlic bread. A salad would round things out. Ok you can add a nice Cappucino for dessert with a bit of Amaretto on the side. Why not?Although this recipe is for grilled chicken, I have frozen individual boneless skinless chicken breasts (pounded flat) in this marinade in baggies, then defrosted them and baked the chicken in the oven for easy after work preparation.

Note: No I am not eating Chicken now….thus the 1987 cookbook!! Just because I am a vegetarian doesn’t mean you have to be!

Marsala Marinade:
1 ½ cups Marsala
½ cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 tsp fennel seed
3 tsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Whisk to emulsify. Marinate poultry for 4 hours before grilling.Grill until done. I basted the chicken while grilling. Serve with or over pasta with freshly grated good quality Parmesan.Thats if for now.

Here is a darn easy recipe. It comes from the Central Market website. Shirley and I made it back when she was living with me and we really enjoyed it…especially since it was EASY!

1 cup instant refried beans (you can get a vegetarian brand if you are a veggie)
1 butternut squash
2 tbl grape seed oil (or substitute what you have as long as it can take high heat)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
2 tsp honey
Tabasco sauce to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 taco shells or 8 soft corn tortillas
4oz feta cheese, crumbled (Queso Fresco would be more authentic)
Chopped green onions

Mix one cup of boiling water with the black beans and set aside. Peel and clean the squash, removing the seeds and strings, and chop into ½ inch chunks . This is the hardest part of the recipe so here is a suggestion we tried and it made this much easier: “Poke it with a knife in a bunch of places, microwave it for 3 minutes, leave it to cool, and it peels very easily.”

Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat, and add the oil. When the oil smokes, add the squash cubes and toss well. Sprinkle in the seasonings and honey, and sauté over high heat, tossing frequently, until browned outside and tender, but not mushy.

Assemble tacos by spooning in black beans and topping with the squash and the cheese and green onions. Serve two to a plate.
4 servings.

I was trying to think of a good recipe to give you. Since it is winter, I thought you might like a more warming recipe. I don’t really have much of a recipe but I assume you have been cooking for yourself long enough to figure this one out.

I love this Baked Stuffed Squash, so here it is:

Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash

Get one or two Acorn Squash and cut them in half and either bake them cut side down with some water in the bottom of the pan for about 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees or Microwave them covered and cut side down with some water until tender. I think that should be about 8-10 minutes but don’t hold me to that time.

Once that is done, lightly cook some lean ground beef or even better a mix of beef and sausage (I use either soy crumbles or veggie sausage with a little butter). Drain if you are using meat. Add chopped fresh apples, skin and all and cook just for a minute or so. Add cinnamon, brown sugar and some butter.

That is the basic stuffing, but I add dried cranberries or dried cherries and dried apricots cut into little pieces. Then to make it even better add some chopped walnuts (I bet chopped almonds would be good too).

Stuff this mixture into the squash and dot some butter on top or spray the butter on to keep everything moist. If you want to be really decadent you can drizzle some maple syrup on top of use it instead of the brown sugar.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350 or till cooked and hot. You will have to figure the amounts that will fit into the two or four squash halves. I would guess ½ lb of meat per 2 halves would work.

If this sounds oh so complicated…which it isn’t, then you can make a

Hot Apple Cider Toddy to warm you up.

Go get yourself a bottle of Apple Cider and Spice juice at Whole Foods or make some mulled cider (you can even get some Alpine Spice Cider packets at the grocery (Albertsons carries it)if you are really basic…even sugar free if you prefer. http://www.continentalmills.com/brands/alpine/spiced_cider_mixes/ ).

Make some fat free or low fat cool whip mixed with a bit of rum extract . Open a bottle of whiskey or some good rum (or leave out if you are on the wagon).Crush some graham crackers to make crumbs and add some cinnamon to it. Heat the cider in a mug. Put in a cinnamon stick. Add a shot of whiskey or rum to it if preferred. Top with the Rum flavored Cool Whip and sprinkle some of the Graham Cracker mix on top.

Pick up the phone and dial takeout then drink your Toddy. By the time your dinner gets there you will be warm, cozy and relaxed.

Stay warm and Enjoy.

Since it is fall, I thought I would share with you a couple of fall "warmers". Otherwise known as alcoholic beverages.

The first drink I had while in Chimayo, New Mexico at the Rancho de Chimayo Restaurant. It's a great place to relax, have their special Margarita and enjoy the afternoon. Chimayo is known for the church where miraculous healings have occured. http://chimayo.org/history.html. Needless to say, I did bring some of the dirt from the chapel home with me.The second drink is just the best, richest, tastiest homemade hot chocolate I have had.

Once you have the ingredients together it is a cinch to make. It's best on a blustery cold evening.

Chimayo Margarita
1/4 oz lemon juice
1 1/4 oz premium tequila
1 1/2 oz apple cider
1/4 oz Creme de Cassis (I have substituted Frambois)
Apple wedges thinly sliced for garnish

Add tequila, creme de cassis, cider and lemon juice to a shaker. Blend well and pour over ice into a glass. Garnish with apple wedges

Italian Hot Chocolate with Espresso, Lemon and Anise

4 cups Whole Milk(not lowfat!!)
3/4 cup of sugar (blasphemy!)
4 oz unsweetened chocolate finely chopped
2 oz semisweet chocolate finely chopped
2 tbl Instant espresso powder
5 1/2 inch wide strips lemon peel
6 tbl anise flavored liqueur such as sambuca

Combine everything but the liqueur in a saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and it comes to a boil. Remove from heat then mix in liqueur. Divide among cups. Drink up!Hope you enjoy these!

After a nice dinner at III Forks, the waiter brought us a complimentary cocktail that was sweet and delicious. He said it was made with coconut milk, Irish whiskey and I thought he said Sambuca, but I am not sure about the Sambuca addition. Subsequently, when I came home I tried to find a similar recipe on line to no avail.I did however read about all things coconut. I had wondered how as kids we had opened coconuts, not being that strong or determined.

Most of the articles about opening coconuts only talked about opening the shell. Well that part is a no brainer. If you have a hammer and screwdriver all you do is hammer open the eyes, drain the “milk” then hit the shell until it cracks.The husk is a different matter. I think I now remember what we did. The article I read suggested you could open it with a machete, unless of course you were concerned that you might cut something off that you need! I would suspect that most anyone would agree, given that thought, they would opt for another method.

Their other suggestion made a lot more sense and I am sure as kids this was our method.

The method is simple: basically you take the pointed end of the coconut (not the end that was attached to the stalk), point it at the cement (ie. sidewalk) and from a distance of about 3-4 feet toss it like a football at the ground. this might take a few shots, but if you have a ripe coconut, are lucky or skillful, you will be able to get the husk to split long-ways around the circumference of the coconut. Then you can peel off the husk and crack the coconut's shell to get to the meat inside.Not only does it sound safer (as long as you are a good aim) but it is probably more fun too.

So in the interest of all things coconut, here are a few recipes:

Orange Coconut Salmon
4 (4oz) filets salmon
1 (7oz) pkg flaked coconut
2cups orange juice
4 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 egg beaten
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Place salmon in a Ziploc with orange juice and marinate in the refrigerator several hours or overnight.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat salmon filets with egg. Dip filets in coconut and arrange in a single layer on a medium baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the coconut is golden and the fish flakes easily with a fork.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, blend orange marmalade and Dijon mustard. Heat until warm and serve as a dipping sauce for the salmon.(From Allrecipes, submitted by Ellen)

Tangy Coconut Chicken

2 lbs chicken parts
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 ½ TBL Water
¼ tsp salt
½ cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup butter or margarine melted (yes it isnt low fat!)

Prick chicken pieces on all sides with fork tines. Place in a snug container or Ziploc. Combine lemon juice, Worcestershire, water and salt. Pour over chicken coating completely. Set aside for one hour (in fridge).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a Ziploc, combine bread crumbs and coconut. Coat chicken with butter and then with the crumb mixture. Arrange in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Pour remaining butter over the chicken. Bake until tender about 1 hour.

Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.


1 cup coconut milk
scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 cups mango chunks

In a blender, combine coconut milk and cardamom.Gradually blend in mango chunks until smooth

Coconut lime cooler

This is a variation of a Sandra Lee recipe
2 parts pineapple-coconut juice
1 squeeze of lime juice
1 part vanilla vodka
1/2 part milk or vanilla frozen yogurt
1/2 part banana Schnapps
Ice cubes
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Add all ingredients, except coconut flakes and honey, in a cocktail shaker with ice.

Pour honey onto a plate. Lay out coconut on a plate. Dip the rims of chilled glasses into honey and roll in coconut.

Shake and pour ingredients from the cocktail shaker into chilled martini glasses to serve.

Here is a recipe for a soup I made last week. It is really good and not too difficult. The wine in it is essential to the flavor.

Even though it is hot here, I always enjoy making soup. Amazingly, my mother really liked this, not realizing I had made it with Tofurkey! She is a die hard carnivore, so I get points for this one!

If the idea of Tofurkey sausage scares you (I know it did me until I tried it) then go ahead…be a carnivore. Get some good Italian sausage and use it!

It always tastes better with some nice Italian bread and a glass of Chianti!

Note: I have never made the full recipe. Being single, half the recipe is quite enough for me. If you make a half recipe, cut down the cooking time accordingly

If this inspires you to cook, let me know how you like it.

Italian Sausage Soup

1 ½ to 2 lb Mild Italian Sausage cut in pieces (or an equal amt. of Tofurkey Italian sausage with Sundried Tomatoes)
2 onions peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 28oz can Italian style tomatoes undrained
2 Medium Zucchini sliced
1 Large Green Pepper seeded and chopped
2 qts beef broth (or if Vegie you can use a mushroom broth base, I found one at the grocery)1 cup dry red wine such as Chianti
1 pkg (3oz) of Spaghetti sauce with Mushrooms ( I have never used this, I use a jarred spaghetti sauce and cut down on the broth)
1 pkg (7oz) elbow macaroni
Grated or Slivered Fresh Parmesan or Asiago cheese.

Brown sausage; remove from skillet and reserve. Saute onion and garlic in sausage fat (or if using Tofurkey, olive oil…much healthier!) until tender.

Combine sausage, onion, garlic and vegetables in Crock pot or Dutch oven (big saucepan!) Add beef broth and wine (cut back on the broth if you plan to use jarred spaghetti sauce.) Add enough cold water to the spaghetti sauce mix (or use the spaghetti sauce from the jar) to make a smooth paste. Stir into the pot until well blended.

Cover and cook on low in the Crockpot for 6-8 hrs or in a Dutch oven for a couple of hours, until the vegetables are tender.

Near the end of the cooking time cook the macaroni and add it to the soup.Serve with Parmesan. Yum.8 servings

I thought I would share another good Summertime Recipe. It is a Cherry Blue Cheese Salad.

The original recipe came with a gift someone gave me of chocolate covered Cherries, but Chukar Cherries (http://www.chukar.com/category/67) also sells dried tart cherries.

To be honest, I buy mine at Whole Foods. Either will work in this recipe.

I am going to give you the basics as their recipe calls for about 12 cups of greens. Way too much.

Cherry Blue-Cheese Salad:

What you need:Butter Lettuce (torn)
Radicchio (if you are feeling rich) (torn)
Dried tart cherries
Red Onion (sliced)
Merlot wine about 1/4 cup (or Port)
Raspberry Vinegar (you can get this at just about any grocery)
Lemon Juice (fresh is best)
Dijon Mustard
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Black pepper
Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese
Nuts (Walnuts, Slice or Slivered Almonds, Hazelnuts or even Pecans will work) Toast them.

For the greens, combine a mixture of butter lettuce and Radicchio 3-1 ratio Butter to Radicchio(Not that I have ever done this, I just use the lettuce mix I have on hand!)

Take however many dried cherries you want and soak them in Merlot wine. Port works good too.

To make the dressing combine 2 tbsp raspberry vinegar, 2tbl fresh lemon juice, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp pepper and 2 tsp honey and whisk it together. (The dressing mixes better if you dont add the oil at first) Add 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and whisk again. (Now the original recipe calls for 1/3 cup oil, but I like a sharper dressing and one lower in fat). If you are needing more dressing, just double or triple the recipe (or just use the ingredients and eyeball the amounts).

To put it all together, mix the greens with the cherries, gorgonzola or blue cheese and toasted nuts. Red onion is optional.Dress the salad lightly, mix and add salt as needed.

Some nice wholegrain toast would be a good side.

I guess if I was a meat eater, I would suggest a beef or pork main course, but I'm not, so hardboil an egg and get your protein that way. :) or eat some tofu. The salad alone is meal enough for me!

Summer Grilling-Teriyaki Shrimp Kabobs

I love grilling in the summer and I have this great Coleman grill.

In Texas, Cory was kind enough to set it up for me. I loved cooking on the patio on a warm summer night or on a blustery fall evening. Sometimes I got a bit carried away.

Polly, Anthony and Shirley must have a lot of faith in me, because grilling Italian Sausages with all the grease in them can make quite a flame up...a bit nerve racking, but I managed not to burn the complex down that night :)

My patio here is screened in and there are strict rules against grilling, so I took my grill over to my mothers and set it up there. Last weekend, I promised her a nice grilled dinner.

She being the carnivore and me being the semi-vegie that I am, I had to come up with something we both would enjoy. What I settled on was Teriyaki Shrimp Kabobs and they were delicious, so I thought I would share the recipe with you.

Actually there is no recipe, per se, but this is what I did.

I went to my favorite hang out " World Market" in search of a good Teriyaki Sauce. In Texas, Central Market makes a nice syrupy sweet teriyaki marinade, but there are no Central Markets here!What I did find was Kona Coast Brand Ginger, Wasabi, Teryaki Marinade http://www.mezzetta.com/about/whatsnew/product_3.php .

I had some fresh delicious Costa Rican Sugar Pineapple, so I cut it in chunks. I also had a red onion, so I alternated chunks of red onion, pineapple and Shrimp on metal skewers (you can probably use presoaked wooden skewers, but it is nice to have a set of metal kabob skewers in the house anyway)and brushed them with the marinade.

The Shrimp was fairly large. Smaller ones cook too fast. They were peeled with the tail still on.Once I skewered them I brushed them with the Marinade

.I made a pot of brown rice and heated the grill just before it was through cooking. Then all I did was cook the shrimp kabobs on an oiled (oiled prior to the preheating for safety's sake) grill brushing with the marinade to keep them moist

(One note: If I were to do it again I would either soak the Red Onion chunks first to get the heat out or more likely, I would slightly precook them They were a little underdone and quite sharp tasting).

I thought a squeeze of lime towards the end of grilling would add a nice flavor or serving lime wedges with the meal.

I wasn't able to find bean sprouts (That's another story, the food stores in Wellington area! Whole Foods is building here and I go by weekly, impatiently awaiting their Grand Opening!) but a great way to finish the brown rice is to add some soy sauce, bean sprouts and chopped peanuts just before serving.

Some sauteed snow peas or sauteed snow peas mixed with red pepper slices is a great accompaniment.

Anyway, it turned out to be a wonderful easy dinner with not a whole lot of clean up.

Oh, and I must not forget dessert.....I bought some Hagen Dazs Reserve Hawaiian Lehua Honey and Sweet Cream Ice Cream...but I forgot to bring it over to my Mothers. I am enjoying it though! They also make a Toasted Coconut Ice Cream http://www.haagendazs.com/reserve/. Mango Ice Cream sounds good too or you can go for the old Chinese Restaurant staple, Orange Sherbet!

Hope you get a chance to make these.

I have a favorite New Mexican Cornbread recipe I wanted to share with you. It is great with BBQ Brisket or even better with some good Texas Chili.

I only normally make one substitiution, and that is using low fat extra sharp cheddar or 2% milkfat extra sharp or sharp cheddar for the full fat version. Those of you that don't like onions, sorry. I think they add a lot to the taste and they are minced so you don't get too much onion flavor at once. You can try it without as you please, but you may have to make some adjustments on the liquid or substitue something else, maybe popped wild rice ( yes it does pop like pop corn)

You can get blue cornmeal at Wholefoods or Central Market. I think Wholefoods is cheaper. Sprouts or Wild Oats might have it too.

Remember to preheat the oven and check the bread at 40 minutes. If you overcook it, it will be too dry.

You can double the jalapenos if you are a heat freak!

Jalapeno-Cheddar Cornbread

1/4 cup jalapeno chiles, stems and seeds removed, chopped fine
1 cup blue cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
1 cup minced onions
2 eggs, beaten severely
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.Heat the milk with the jalapenos and onions and allow to cool, then combine the eggs and cheese in a small bowl.

In a huge bowl, add the cooled milk, eggs and cheese to the dry ingredients and blend until smooth (or use a huge bowl for the dry ingredients then add the above ingredients, less dishes)

Pour this mixture into a greased 9 in square pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes or until the cornbread is browned and firm.

Serves 6
From: Just North of the Border by Dave Dewitt and Nancy Gerlach ( the chili guys)

Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Mild Red Thai Curry Sauce

I don't know where I got this recipe, but I really enjoy it. I think I have only used the mahi mahi once. I usually just use something that is fresh at the time, usually a white fish like halibut or maybe cod. I don't use tilapia because honestly I think it tastes like the bottom feeder it is.

I use light coconut milk and Taste of Thai Red Curry in the packet (I get it at Wholefoods or Central Market). The other red curry brands are painfully hot to me. This brand is milder.

This is actually very easy. It is served with sauteed corn, mushrooms and spinach. If you have never tried this combination, I suggest you do. It is wonderful.

The red curry sauce is good on chicken or shrimp too.

3 tbl peanut oil
1 garlic clove minced
11/2 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger (or if you are lazy, get the minced ginger in the jar)
2 tsp curry powder ( I dont love this so I use just a little)
2 tsp Taste of Thai Red Curry paste
2 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp ground cumin
2tbl soy sauce
2 tbl tomato puree (or paste and some water to thin it)
2tbl light brown sugar
1 14oz can unsweetened coconut milk (or light coconut milk)
4 mahi mahi filets
8oz each ( mine are usually half that size)
Olive oil for grilling
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Prepare the grill. Measure the ingredients and have them by the stove.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, and add the curry powder, curry paste, paprika and cumin. Stir and cook for 2 minutes

Raise the heat back to medium, and add the soy sauce, tomato puree, brown sugar and coconut milk, whisking after each addition. When small bubbles form around the edge of the saucepan, simmer very gently for 10 minutes, whisking frequently. Do not allow to boil.

At this point I would get the corn side dish cooked and keep it warm.

Brush the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through. Serve immediately with the sauce.
4 servings ( or 8 if you are me).

If you can't find the red curry paste, here is a store locatorhttp://www.atasteofthai.com/products_by_category.cfm?CatID=1Try it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Eggs with Feta and Tomato

I was reading my favorite blog today, 101 Cookbooks regarding her favorite Egg Recipes (it being Easter and all!).

Here is mine. I think it comes from the Dean and DeLuca cookbook, but don't quote me on that. In any case, it satisfies the Albanian in me.

Baked Feta, Tomato and Egg.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put a little bit of olive oil in 4 ramekins. Slice 4 thick slices from a ripe tomato. Put a slice in each ramekin. Cut 1/2 lb of Greek Feta (or milder French if you prefer) into 8 slices. On top of each tomato slice, place 2 of the Feta slices.

Break an egg on top of the feta in each dish. Season with paprika, salt and pepper.

Bake until the eggs set, 20-25 minutes. Drizzle a little good olive oil on top.

If you happen to have Oregano leaves around (which most of you probably don't!), garnish with them.

Eat with some good toasted, Kalamata Olive, Rosemary or Sourdough bread.
4 servings

Easter 2009

I hope you all had a Happy Easter or Passover. Here in Florida, the season is in full swing. I had an enjoyable Easter weekend (save my visit to the ER to get a sliver removed from my eye but that’s another story).

My family hasn’t had many home based traditions around Easter. Normally we have gone out for a brunch at The Four Seasons or somewhere nice and enjoyed the company of friends. This year, I took the morning off and went for a walk in Jupiter, Fl at the “dog beach”. It was a fun way to start the day. I saw every shape and size of dog and every shape and size of human. The economy has not slowed down the tourist season here.

We had Easter dinner at Tramonti in Delray Beach (http://tramontidelray.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1 ). The restaurant was recommended to me by a New Yorker I met at a wine tasting several months ago. Since then, 3 other New Yorkers gave it high ratings as the best NY Italian Restaurant in the area. They have a sister restaurant, Angelo’s in Little Italy.

The place was a zoo but the food was fabulous. I had the Papparadelle Campagnole, Wide ribbon pasta, wild mushrooms and garlic in a light cherry tomato sauce. My mother and her friend had the Scaloppini Sorrentina, Veal topped with prosciutto, eggplant and melted mozzarella over a bed of spinach. My mother had hers without the eggplant. Each was enough for two meals and they loved the dinner. We sat on the Patio overlooking Atlantic Avenue. It was a beautiful evening and great for people watching.

My family background is Albanian and the traditions around Easter are similar to those of the Greeks. Many Albanians are members of the Greek Orthodox Church and share in the food and traditions of the season.The Greek Orthodox observe periods of fasting (restricted foods) followed by a post midnight meal to break the fast. I am not Greek Orthodox, but I love Greek food, so for the season I often make a few Greek/Albanian dishes to celebrate.

The past couple of years I have spent the holiday with my friend Jill. She has supplied the main dish and I have brought what she terms my “Albanian Salad”. An “ Albanian Salad” is a combination of either fresh Spinach or Head lettuce, Black Olives (Kalamata are traditional but sometimes I prefer the American Black Olives), Cucumber slices, Red Onion slices(optional), Avocado, Feta Cheese and toasted Pine nuts or Walnuts and some dried dill (or fresh) and a bit of garlic salt or powder . The dressing is simply fresh squeezed Lemon juice and good quality Extra Virgin Olive oil. The secret to the dressing is first mixing the olive oil with the salad ingredients to coat them, and then adding the fresh juice of a lemon. If you coat the ingredients first, you don’t have to use a great deal of olive oil. When I make 2 servings I only use about 1 ½ tablespoons of oil and the juice of ½ a lemon.

There are many varieties of Feta Cheese. I prefer the Greek Feta. In Dallas, I bought it at the Mediterranean Market at Beltline and Preston. The cheese is creamy, not dry and delicious.
Many people prefer the milder French Feta. Bulgarian Feta is my second favorite, but more difficult to find. There is also Turkish feta, but if you are standing next to a Greek customer, I wouldn’t recommend you let them know you have chosen Turkish Feta. They won’t have a high opinion of you and you might actually feel like a traitor (at least that was my experience!).Vigo makes a good store bought Feta. I had trouble finding it in Dallas. In Florida it is available at Publix. You can also buy it from Zingerman’s Deli and according to them, true Feta must be made mostly from Sheep’s Milk (http://www.zingermansdeli.com/content/pages/foodnews/2008/may/foodnews_bettafetaangles.php )
My other self imposed tradition is to make Stuffed Grape Leaves. I am a bit late making it this year, but since Greek Easter is a week after ours, I have bought the ingredients to make in time for Greek Easter. I will try and share the recipe and my experience next post.

Since this is the first post with the new focus, you will find that my tastes tend toward Mediterranean, Asian and American foods. Seafood, vegetables and vegetarian fare will be the most discussed foods, but I am not beyond throwing in some Meat related recipes for my carnivore friends. I try to keep the food choices healthy, but not always low fat. Everything in moderation and don’t forget to exercise!!
Until next week…