Daily Archives: May 24, 2014

Two Spring Crostini

I like to welcome Spring with food. Two of the first vegetables to make their appearance at the farmstands are bright green pencil thin aparagus and vibrant red/pink radishes. My favorite way to to eat both are fresh and raw. Here are two easy appetizers to make at the first sign of Spring. Enjoy!

From by the bay wishing you vibrant food memories!

blog aparagus crostini

Asparagus Puree with Lemon Ricotta Crostini

Serves 4


16 very thin asparagus spears or 8 asparagus thicker spears

2 tablespoons fresh mint

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

¼ pound fresh ricotta cheese

4 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese

4 slices ciabatta bread toasted

Coarse sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper


Clean asparagus, remove the tender tips and place to the side. Snap off woody stems and discard. In to food processor add asparagus stalks broken into pieces and coarsely chop. Add the following to the asparagus:  mint, olive oil, lemon juice and 2 tbs. grated pecorino. Pulse a few times. In a separate bowl combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest salt and pepper. On hot toasted ciabatta bread layer the ricotta cheese, puree asparagus, grated pecorino cheese. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and add asparagus spear to the top.

blog radish app

Simple Radish Crostini

Serves 4


2 fresh radishes
2 tablespoons salted butter

4 slices ciabatta bread

Coarse sea salt


Clean radishes and using a mandoline slice the radish into rounds. Keep radish slices in iced water until ready to use. In a 400F degree oven, place 4 slices of ciabatta bread on a baking sheet in the oven until the bread starts to brown, flip bread over and toast the other side, 2-3 mins per side. Let toasted ciabatta bread cool a little, then spread with the best salted butter you can buy. Take radish slices out of the water and dry with a paper towel before layering the rounds on top the bread and butter. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and serve.

Greek Mezes


blog greek mezes

As I shared in a previous post, my mother is of Greek heritage. So to add  to the Easter Menu, I’m sharing three mezes recipes . Two of the recipes feature fresh mint – one against the saltiness of feta cheese and the other against the coolness of cucumbers and rich yogurt.  I’m suggesting them along with the herb crusted leg of lamb from last week’s post but they are both wonderful dishes for summer entertaining which is just a few short weeks away. The third mezes is a red chili hummus, a warming and smooth companion to the cool mint mezes, this is a perfect year round recipe. All three recipes are the essence of greek cooking, fresh, simple and delicious. Say “Yasou” to Greek cooking!

From by the bay, wishing you “happy greek” food memories!

blog feta dip

Feta and Mint Dip

1/2 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
4 ounces greek feta cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspsoon coarse fresh ground pepper

Plac all the ingredients into a food processor and blend well. Place in a bowl and chill for at least one hour . Serve with pita chips or crackers.

blog tzaiki


1 English cucumber
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 cups greek style yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
fine sea salt and pepper to taste

Peel and thinly slice the english cucumber. Coarse chop and place into a bowl. Add the sea salt and mix. Let sit for about 1 hour. Strain the cucumbers and rinse. Shake off remaining water and place into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to use. When serving drizzle with a little more olive oil. Serve on the side of roasted lamb or serve as an appetizer with pita bread.

blog hummus

Half Greek Hummus

15.5 ounce can Chick Peas or Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
olive oil to garnish
sweet paprika to garnish

Combine all ingredients except the pine nuts and paprika into a food processor and process until smooth. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to serve. Can serve cold or room temperature, Before serving drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pine nuts and sweet paprika.

Natural Red Dye Easter Eggs

One of the many traditions for Greek Easter is the coloring of all the boiled eggs red. In the Greek religion the Easter eggs are used to symbolize the blood of Christ. There is a game played at Easter called Tsougrisma. Each player gets a red egg. One player will gently tap the egg of another player. The winner is the one whose egg does not crack. This player will go on to play others. The winner is the one who successfully cracks the eggs of the other players. It is said that this will bring good luck to the winner through out the year. These are important traditions to my Greek heritage mother, so I did a little research. My maternal grandmother came to the United States early in the 20th Century from a small fishing village in Greece. In that small town they didn’t have access to red dyes. I discovered that the traditional way to dye the Easter Eggs was with a natural dye made from yellow onion skins. This method yields a deep rich byzantine red color, like the color that you find in many of the religious Greek icons. It’s the perfect color, the color of my mom’s childhood and it’s all natural. I suggest trying this out. You boil your eggs in the dye and you can save the dye to color more eggs, I kept it in a plastic container in the fridge. Have fun coloring your Greek Easter eggs!

blog red eggs
Red Easter Eggs
Makes 6 eggs
6 white eggs, room temperature
skins of 6 large spanish or yellow onions
3 cups water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
In a medium ( 6 1/4 inch) sauce pan add the onion skins, water and vinegar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and place cover on the pan. Let simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and strain dye into a bowl and cool. The dye will appear orange, but it will yield red eggs. In the same medium sauce pan add the eggs in one layer. Cover with the cool liquid and add the salt. The eggs should be completely covered , if not add a little water until they are. Bring this to a low boil, reduce heat and cover the pan. Simmer no longer than 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a skimmer remove eggs and place on a wire rack to dry. Once dry, use a paper towel to rub olive oil on the eggs to give a glossy finish. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Serve cold or room temperature

Herb Crusted Leg of Lamb

My mother’s parents immigrated to the United States in the early part of the 20th century from Greece. Easter by far and away is the most important religious holiday in the Greek Orthodox Church. Growing up my mother and her family would celebrate Easter with family and friends with a whole roasted baby lamb. My grandfather, my Papou, would buy the lamb and bring it to a bakery on 14th St. and First Avenue in Manhattan to be roasted. Papou would then take the subway home to Brooklyn, lamb in hand, so the family could celebrate Easter. As much as I would like to recreate my mother’s wonderful childhood memories, I’m not prepared to roast a whole lamb, but I do look forward to celebrating with the family by slow roasting a leg of lamb in the oven. I have tried different recipes over the years, but this recipe from Martha Stewart Living, is my favorite. I have adapted it a little over the years so this is the version, I’m sharing with you today. Kalo pasha……….
Happy Greek Easter!From by the bay wishing you the happiest Easter and food memories! Maryann
blog leg of lamb
1 leg of lamb approximately 9 pounds, bone in
1 teaspoon olive oil, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium head garlic
1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/3 cup chardonnay
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary


Let leg of lamb stand at room temperature for one hour. Preheat oven to 325 degree F. Rub lamb with 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 pepper. Place into a heavy roasting pan. Meantime, rub head of garlic with 1/4 teaspoon olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and roast in the oven for about 1 hour until very soft. Let cool. Cut off the head of the garlic and squeeze cloves into a bowl. Use a fork to mash garlic into a paste. Add the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, oregano, parsley, thyme leaves and remaining salt and pepper. Mix well and place to the side. Place lamb into the oven and roast for approximately 1 1/4 hours. Rotate pan and roast another 30 minutes. Remove lamb and slather it with the roasted garlic and herb mixture and place back into the oven to roast another hour or until thermometer inserted at the thickest part reads 160 degrees for medium and 170 degrees for well done. Remove from oven and let rest for 20 minutes. Transfer lamb to cuttting board and cover with foil. Pour off fat from the roasting pan and place on medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and stir with wood spoon. Pour in chardonnay to deglaze pan, scraping up the brown bits, reduce liquid to 1/2 and then add the chicken broth, stirring to combine. Add rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Slice the lamb and serve with the gravy to the side.

Veal Blanquette with Tender Vegetables

blog veal blanquette

I officially have Spring Fever!  Outdoors the days are becoming longer and lighter, the weather is warmer, my spring bulbs are all sprouting and the pansies are planted .  Indoors, I have tucked away my winter pillows and throws and have brought out my brighter ones in happy colors and lighter weight fabric, I have filled a bowl with bright citrus fruit and have shopped the product aisle looking for all those wonderful spring vegetables that start to appear this time of year. My latest trip “down the aisle” turned up the following: fresh english peas, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, red baby pearl onions and asparagus. I used all of these vegetables in this wonderful veal blanquette recipe. It’s become one of my spring traditions to make veal blanquette. Veal blanquette is a french dish in  which the veal meat is stewed in broth , the veal and the butter is never browned. It’s a perfect dish to welcome Spring!

From by the bay , wishing happy spring food memories!
blog veg
Veal Blanquette with Tender Vegetables
Serves 6
To make blanquette:
3 pounds veal, cut into 1 inch cubes
6 cups chicken stock
3 sprigs tarragon, plus 3 tablespoons chopped
2 bay leaves
12 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1.5 ounce store bought veal demi glace
juice and zest of one lemon
sea salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped chives
Assortment blanched vegetables
Melt 8 tablespoons butter in heavy bottomed casserole on medium heat. Saute the veal one minute per side, cooking the veal from pink to white without browning. Add to the casserole the stock, 3 springs of tarragon and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, until veal is fork tender. While the veal is cooking blanche your vegetables . Once the veal is cooked, remove veal into a bowl and strain broth in a another bowl. Place the empty casserole back on to medium heat and melt the remaining butter, once melted add the flour and cook for 2 minutes stirring, Whisk in the broth along with the veal demi glace and cook until thickened. Stir in the cream, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper to taste. Ina big bowl or platter top veal with sauce and mix. Toss the vegetables over the veal, sprinkle with chopped chives and tarragon and serve immediately. This can be served as is or with small new boiled potatoes.
Blanche Vegetables:
1 cup fresh english peas, shelled or frozen baby peas
12 baby carrots, whole and peeled, with green tops cut off
12 pencil thin asparagus, woody bottoms cut off
24 sugar snap peas
16 red or white baby pearl onions

Bring a large pot of water to boil, Have a large bowl of ice water ready and a strainer to remove vegetables from boiling water. You will cook each vegetable separately in the same pot of boiling water and use the strainer to remove and place into the ice bath. The peas  and sugar snap peas will take 1 to 2 minutes, the asparagus and baby carrots will take 3-4 minutes depending on size. You are looking for the vegetables to be slightly tender, yet bright in color. Lastly, boil the pearl onions, then strain and rinse with cool water. Let the onions cool off , then pop them out of their skins. Strain vegetables out of the water and keep in a bowl to the side until ready to add to the blanquette.

Irish Coffee and Chocolate Chip Gelato

I think every holiday is a great excuse for a little celebration! I love finding reasons for a little decorating and some holiday theme cooking. St Patrick’s Day is no exception. So when I sat down to think of an Irish twist to one of my regular recipes, I came up with this Irish Coffee gelato . It just took some instant expresso and irish whiskey to transform one of my gelato recipes. Once you try this gelato you’ll want every day to be St. Patrick’s Day, as for me, I won’t be waiting for St. Patrick’s Day to make this recipe again! Enjoy!

From By the Bay , wishing found Irish food memories!
food irish coffee
Irish Coffee and Chocolate Chip Gelato
Makes 1 quart
2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons instant espresso coffee
3/4 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons irish whiskey
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Place in a saucepan milk and instant espresso coffee. Bring milk to a simmer, whisking to dissolve the coffee powder. In another bowl whisk sugar, egg yolks and salt together and keep to the side. Gradually add a little milk to the egg mixture whisking the mixture to temper the eggs . Continue to slowly add the milk. Make sure to do this step slowly, so not to scramble the eggs. Once you have added the milk to the eggs, return the mixture to the saucepan on medium heat until the mixture thickens into a custard. The custard will coat the back of the spoon, and the temperature will be between 170 to 175 degrees F. This will take about 5 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Add the heavy cream and whiskey and stir. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours. To make gelato, place chilled custard into an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When the mixture starts to thicken, melt chocolate in a bowl with the oil using the microwave, do in 30 seconds intervals stirring in between until melted., this will take 2 to 3 times. Cool slightly and pour chocolate into gelato while churning. The chocolate will become chips as it continues to churn. Once completed place into an air tight plastic container and keep in the freezer until ready to serve.
blog st pat gel

Banana Foster Pound Cake

I love Banana Foster! This recipe originated at Brennan’s of New Orleans in 1951. It’s a wonderful flambe dessert using bananas, rum, brown sugar , cinnamon, butter and heavy cream .  When I saw Giada De Laurentis make her peanut butter and caramel pound cake, I immediately tested it and enjoyed it. I’m not the biggest fan of peanut butter, so I decided to make a version of that recipe into some of my favorite flavors inspired by bananas foster. It was a big smash with my guests, so sharing my version of the recipe with you today!
blog banana foster
Banana Foster Pound Cake
Makes one 9″x5″x3″ Loaf
Adapted from Giada De Laurentis – “Peanut Butter Caramel Pound Cake”

20 caramels, such as Kraft soft caramels unwrapped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 mashed ripe bananas
confectioner’s sugar to dust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9″x5″x3″ loaf pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Spray again. In a small sauce pan add caramels and heavy cream , cook on low heat until melted and smooth stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add the rum and stir. Place aside to cool slightly. In a bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar, until fluffy about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, add the eggs and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture and combine. Combine the bananas into the batter. Pour half the batter into the loaf pan. Pour 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce into the batter and swirl with the tip of a knife. Pour the remaining batter on top and add 2 more tablespoons of the caramel sauce. Swirl again with the knife tip. Bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour, until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for ten minutes then remove and place on a wire rack removing the parchment paper. Cool for at least an hour. Serve as is or with the remaining caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Clams in Broth

If I want to watch my mother’s face light up when she is visiting, all I need to say is do you want clams for dinner? The answer is always a resounding yes! That would explain all my variations of clam sauce or clams cooked in broth. This is one of my favorite versions of clams, especially when I’m looking for light meal. I just skip the pasta and eat the clams and broth with a spoon and little bread. It makes a great appetizer for six or dinner for four. If you want to use as a meal for Lent – just omit the pancetta. Try it this weekend and watch the faces at your dinner table light up too!
From by the bay wishing you lovely clam memories!
blog clams broth
Clams in Broth
Serves 4
4 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed and cleaned
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, cubed
1/2 teaspoons red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
28 ounce can whole tomatoes, with liquid
8 ounces clam juice
1 tablespoon thyme leaves

Place a large pot on a medium heat, add olive oil and heat for 1-2 minutes , add pancetta and saute until crisp, then add garlic and onion, saute until soft, about 5 minutes add chili flakes and pepper and saute another minute. Add to the pot the tomatoes with liquid breaking the tomatoes with the back of your spoon, next add the clam juice and thyme. Bring to a boil add the clams and cover. Cook until clams are open, discard any unopened clams. Serve immediately with bread or pasta.

Sauteed Kale with Garlic

Guess what the new spinach is ? Kale! That’s a quote from a recent episode of “Modern Family” when Mitch, just returning from shopping the farmer’s market, asked Cam. Kale, an under appreciated green vegetable is having it’s moment to shine in the food world. I have joined the legion of fans of Kale and have started to make this vegetable a more regular guest on my dinner table and yes it is the new spinach. Mitch is right! I’m sharing two kale side dishes today, one is preparing kale the way I would broccoli rabe and the second is replacing kale for romaine in my favorite Caesar Salad recipe, using a dressing that doesn’t include raw eggs but packs the same taste! So get on the kale bandwagon and try it tonight!

From by the bay, wishing you tasty and new green leaf memories!
blog kale saute
Sauteed Kale with Garlic 
Serves 4
1 1/2 pounds kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
sea salt and pepper to taste
Place saute pan on medium heat add kale and wine and cover , stirring occasionally until kale is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove kale and strain off any liquid left. Place pan back on medium heat and heat up oil , add garlic and chili flakes saute a minute then add kale, let cook 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
This is a great side dish , but I also use this at room temperature on toasted bread top with fresh ricotta and then the kale and lastly a shaving of pecorino cheese or also as part of a pizza topping as just a few other serving ideas.

Kale Caesar Salad

blog kale caesar
Kale Caesar Salad
Serves 4
1 pound kale leaves, coarsely chopped
toasted croutons
large shavings parmesan cheese
1 recipe Caesar Salad Dressing – see below
Salt and Pepper to taste
Place kale in a bowl , mix well, add salt and pepper. Mix again. Top with croutons and using a grater top with large shavings of parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
You can use the exact recipe using chopped romaine lettuce for a Classic Caesar Salad.
Caesar Dressing for the Faint of Heart ( also known eggless)
7 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight cover and shake well to emulsify. Use for Caesar Salad.