Category Archives: fun Foods

Watermelon Cucumber Salsa

It’s not even summer yet and we are about to have our second heat wave starting Sunday! During the last mini heat wave I wanted to serve a  side dish that was cool and refreshing. It turns out that watermelon and cucumbers are a perfect pair.  I served this salsa along with grilled fish tacos, but this side is so versatile it complements most fish, pork and chicken.  Oh, and let’s not forget a perfect salsa for dipping a tortilla chip. It’s a must try recipe!

From by the bay, wishing you cool food memories!

Maryann

Watermelon Cucumber Salsa

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups finely diced seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup finely diced english cucumber
  • 3 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced and seeded jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • zest of one lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground  black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint

Directions

In a medium size bowl combine the honey, lime juice salt and pepper. Mix well.  Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 1 day.

 

 

 

 

Quick and Easy Blackberry Jam

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Wait don’t throw out those berries!  Sometimes, I have left over berries in my fridge, yes hard to imagine but true. If you find that you have berries that are maybe not at peak left over , consider making this quick berry jam recipe. I used blackberries because  they were what I had left over but easily you could be using raspberries, blueberries or strawberries. I have been know to just use whatever I might have left over. It’s so simple to make the green apple supplies the pectin to make the jam and voila you have your very own homemade fridge jam. Serve along with your favorite biscuit, toast or pancakes!

From by the bay wishing you a very jammy food memory!

Maryann

P.S. I love the blackberry version of this jam!

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Quick and Easy Blackberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cored, peeled and chopped granny smith apple
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

Wash blackberries and pick over for any impurities. Place ingredients in a medium pan on low heat and mix well. Heat slowly for approximately 40 minutes stirring occasionally, until jam comes to a rolling boil. Test to see if jam has thickened by using a spoon to see that it doesn’t run. You can mash the berries or leave the larger pieces. If it’s a little runny no worries it will jell in the fridge. Place in a jam jar and cover. Store in the refrigerator until ready for use for up to one week.

Pickled Strawberries

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Loving strawberries the way I do , I was looking for ways to extend my enjoyment of our brief strawberry season. Pickled strawberries are a perfect solution. It may sound strange at first but pickled strawberries are the perfect balance of sweet and sour! For my pickled recipe I included some lemon rind for taste and red peppercorns for mild heat and a slight pepper taste. Now you must be wondering where I might use some pickled strawberries here is a list of some of my favorite uses:

  • chopped into salads
  • cocktails, such as sangria or champagne cocktail to name a few
  • a favorite salsa recipe
  • on top of vanilla ice cream
  • mixed with stone fruit as a fruit salad or pie filling
  • flavor a wine vinegar

Great creative and enjoy!

From by the bay , enjoy your pickled food memories!

Maryann

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Pickled Strawberries

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ripe but firm strawberries, hulled, halved if large
  • 4 strips lemon peel
  • cups white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup natural cane sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt

Directions

Remove stems from strawberries. Place strawberries and lemon peel in a 1-qt. heatproof jar. Bring vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns,  and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Pour over strawberries. Let cool; cover and chill. The strawberries will keep 5 days in the refrigerator.

My Favorite Blueberry Recipes

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Celebrate Summer with some of the best blueberry recipes!!

From by the bay , wishing you blue food memories!

Maryann

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Blueberry Merlot Sauce with Vanilla Gelato

2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup Merlot
½ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Cool and place in a container. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use.
Serve as a topping to vanilla gelato.

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Sweet Corn and Blueberry Ice Cream

Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 4 ears fresh young corn, shucked
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 cup whole fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions

Cut kernels off each ear of corn and place into a large saucepan. Break cobs into pieces and also add to pan. Add to the pan the milk, cream , 3/4 cup sugar and xanthan gum. Place on medium heat , bring mixture to a low boil for 5 to 10 minutes until mixture is thicken slightly and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, remove cobs. Using an immersion blender, puree kernels. ( You can also use a blender to liquidfy but the immersion blender is quickest and easier clean up). Let corn mixture infuse for about an hour and then pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. When straining make sure you are using the back of a spoon to push the liquid through. Also scrap the liquid from the bottom of the strainer in the bowl. Place bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 2 to 3 hours. In the meantime, to a small sauce pan add blueberries and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan . Place on medium heat until the blueberries start to pop and mixture thickens. Set aside to cool. Make the sweet corn mixer in an ice cream maker according to directions. Right when the ice cream is ready slowly pour the blueberry sauce into the ice cream to swirl one or two times. Pour into a freezer safe container and store in freezer until ready to serve.

 

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Blueberry Boy Bait
From Smitten Kitchen , which adapted it from  the Cook’s Illustrated version, which was adapted from the original

 

Serves 12, generously

2 cups (250 grams) plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks, 8 ounces or 225 grams), softened
3/4 cup (145 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup (235 ml) whole milk (though buttermilk, which was all I had on hand, worked just great)
1/2 cup (about 85 grams) blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)

Topping
1/2 cup (about 85 grams) blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.

For the topping:
Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

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Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon lemon zest

4 tablespoons melted butter

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 egg

3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 F. Take a 12 muffin pan and line with paper baking cups. Put  tin to the side. In a bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and lemon zest. Add melted butter and stir. Add the egg to the buttermilk , mix and pour into the flour mixture and combine.Add blueberries and then fill each muffin liner about 3/4 filled. Place tin on baking sheet and bake  on the center rack for 20 to 25 minutes until cake tester comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes then remove muffins to wire rack to cool. Serve warm or room temperature.

 

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Pan Fried Veal with Spinach, Blueberries and Hazelnuts

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds veal scallopini

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup chicken broth

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons  whole hazelnuts

2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, chopped

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

2 tablespoons fresh blueberries

1 pound steamed fresh spinach

Directions

Toast hazelnuts and breadcrumbs on a baking sheet in a 400F oven for 2-3 minutes. Take toasted nuts and bread crumbs along with garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and red chili  flakes and process into coarse crumbs. Place in a bowl and add 2 tablespoons olive oil, mix and place to the side.  Flatten each scallopini between plastic wrap with a rolling pin until even. Coat veal with oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a medium frying pan and saute veal 2 minutes per side until browned. Place on a platter and cover with foil. In the same frying pan add the stock , balsamic vinegar and bring to boil and reduce for 2 minutes. Whisk butter in pieces into the sauce. Remove from heat and add blueberries. Divide spinach  between four plates with veal on top. Spoon sauce on top of veal. Sprinkle top of veal with the hazelnut mixture and serve immediately,

Deli Style Macaroni Salad

Here is a classic to enjoy with your next barbecue – Deli style macaroni!  Sometimes, you want to keep it simple. I mixed up the recipe with some Mexican cream because I had some in the refrigerator. If you can’t find Mexican cream you could replace the cream with an additional 1/2 cup mayonnaise with a 1/4 cup sour cream. It all works well.

From by the bay wishing you happy deli food memories!

Maryann

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Deli Style Macaroni Salad

Serves 6

1 pound cooked elbow macaroni

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup Mexican sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

4 tablespoons whole milk

3 celery ribs, chopped finely

1/2 onion ,chopped finely

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a medium saucepan add the vinegar and sugar and bring to a bowl, dissolving the sugar. In a large bowl add macaroni and pour the sugar/vinegar mixture over and stir. Place in the refrigerator to cool for an hour. Remove bowl from refrigerator and add the remaining ingredients. Combine well. Cover and refrigerate until ready for use.

Spicy Zucchini Pineapple Salsa

I wish I could take credit for this recipe but sadly can not.  This delicious recipe was recently featured on ” The Food Network Kitchen” by the renown Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. The salsa was featured along with grilled brine pork chops. I immediately wanted to try this salsa and have found myself making it over and over again, especially now that we are into the zucchini season. This salsa needs it own moment it’s that good, the balance of texture and taste is perfection. It works as a side to  almost any kind of pork . I recently served it along with a country baked ham, but it would be great with chicken or just with some tortilla chips. Thank you Chef Zakarian!!

From by the bay, wishing you spicy salsa food memories!

Maryann

 

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Spicy Zucchini Pineapple Salsa

As seen on “The Food Network Kitchen” by Geoffrey Zakarian

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

2/3 cup small- diced zucchini

2/3 cup small -diced fresh pineapple

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves torn

1 teaspoon finely chopped shallots

1 teaspoon finely minced jalapeno pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chardonnay or white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger ( optional)

fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions

In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Let marinate for at least one hour or refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Homemade Beer Mustard

Another inspiration from my weekend of country music at Farmborough was the Hill Country food –  http://www.hillcountrywdc.com/

How can you resist food where the catchphrase is “Music to your mouth”. They served up their house made hot link with shiner ( beer from Texas) mustard, indeed, music to my mouth!! I had to make some shiner beer mustard, below is my version so you can serve it up at your next barbecue!

From by the bay, wishing you shiner food memories!

Maryann

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Homemade Beer Mustard

Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces yellow mustard seeds

1 1/2 ounces black mustard seeds

4 ounces beer or lager ( such as Shiner Bock)

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon dried yellow mustard

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup chopped white onion

Directions

Mix the mustard seeds and beer together in bowl, cover and set aside overnight. (The mustard seeds will soften and soak up most of the beer. Stir in the remaining ingredients, then blend in a food processor until nearly smooth (you may need to do this is batches). Spoon the mustard into clean jars; tap gently to remove all the air bubbles. Store in refrigerator up to 1 month.

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Natural Egg Dye

Last year I make for the first time, red eggs for Greek Easter using onion skins. I was amazed at how easy and beautiful the eggs turned out. So for Easter this year, I plan on making naturally dyed Easter Eggs in different colors using vegetables and spices many of us already have at home. I had to experiment a little to find what worked best. I suggest using either glass jars with a lid since the natural dyes take longer to color, it’s easiest to make the eggs and dyes and close the jar and store them in the refrigerator over night. The eggs will not have the same uniform color as store bought dyes but I think that gives the eggs a more organic and rustic charm. Many of the dyes needed a cup of boiling water added to an ingredient so I suggest putting the ingredients in a jar while the water is boiling and you will save some time. Below are my favorite dyes! Enjoy!

From by the bay wishing you colorful food memories!
Maryann
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Making the Perfect Hard Boiled Egg
Place eggs in the bottom of a large pot add water to just cover the eggs along with a little sea salt and place on medium heat. Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and cover with a lid for 13 minutes. Use a timer to make sure you are not over cooking your eggs. Once the eggs are done, run them under cold water to cool to stop them from cooking. The result will be a perfectly cooked hard boiled egg.
A Few Suggestions While Coloring Your Eggs

To start I suggest using glass jam jars with covers or 16 ounce plastic deli containers with lids. Add the cooled hard boiled eggs to the natural dyes. Make sure eggs are completely submerged in the dye, add a little water if the eggs are not covered. Place a lid on your container and place into the refrigerator overnight for intense colors. If you want softer color you can let eggs sit in dye for just a few hours in the refrigerator. Add hard boiled eggs to the dye once cooled unless recipe says otherwise. When making the dyes, I suggest using plastic gloves so not to stain your fingers.
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Natural Egg Dye Recipes
Red Beets / Pink Eggs  – Grate 4 tablespoons of red beets and add to a heat safe container. Add 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 1 cup boiling water. Let sit for 1 hour, strain and add eggs to dye.
Red Cabbage/ Blue Eggs – Add 3 tablespoons chopped red cabbage to a heat safe container. Add 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 1 cup boiling water. Let sit for 1 hour, strain and add eggs.
Annatto Seeds/ Reddish Golden Color – Add 2 tablespoons annatto seeds ( achiote seeds) to 1 cup of water, bring to a boil for about 5 to 7 minutes. Strain. Add eggs to the dye.
Red Cabbage and Turmeric Powder/ Green Color – Add 3 tablespoons chopped red cabbage and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder to a heat safe container. Add one cup of boiling water. Let sit for 1 hour, strain and add eggs. The result is a speckled color.
Turmeric Powder/ Deep Gold Color – Add 2 teaspoons ground turmeric powder to a heat safe container. Add  1 teaspoon white vinegar and one cup of boiling water. Once dye is cool add eggs . Rinse off any residual powder.
Paprika Powder/ Light Orange – Bring one cup of water and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to a boil, add 1 tablespoon paprika and continue to boil for 15 minutes. Place in a heat safe container, add eggs to dye while warm. Rinse off any residual powder.Here is the post to make red dyed eggs:http://blog.entertainingbythebay.com/2012/04/03/easter-eggs-with-natural-red-dye.aspx

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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!

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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

Guacamole Days

It’s been a long winter here in the northeast which has moved into a pretty cold spring, but never the less summer is heading our way. Each year I select a weekend in May, usually two weeks before memorial day, which is designated the kickoff of the summer season, regardless of temperature. The deck furniture and accessories are out, the pool is just open and it’s time to dine out of doors. As I invite my guests the first question after accepting the invitation is : what are you making ? The second question is : are you making guacamole? I don’t know what it is about summer and guacamole but it’s the perfect starter for sitting on the deck watching the boats go by and sipping a lovely cocktail.
From by the bay wishing you great food memories!
Maryann
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Here are a few quick tips for making the perfect guacamole:
1. Make it Ripe! Always use ripe avocados, I prefer  Haas. When selecting your avocado it is important that they are ripe, so that you can mash them easily. When you select your avocado test it for ripeness by squeezing the bulbous end of the avocado to make sure it yields to the touch. When you cut the avocado, do so length wise. The pit will be on one side, Take the point of the knife and place into the pit carefully. The pit should pull out of a ripe avocado easily. Once you discard the pit, scoop out the flesh with with a spoon into a bowl.
2. Make it Green! As soon as you put the avocado into the bowl, squeeze lime juice onto the avocado flesh, it will prevent the avocado from turning brown.
3. Make it Chunky! I prefer guacamole with some texture so when mashing your avocado along with your ingredients don’t over do it. I like to use a fork for mashing.
4. Make it Last Minute! Make you’re guacamole close to when you are planning to serve. I am a big fan of making things in advance so that I can enjoy my guests but in this case you’ll forfeit the freshness and great color by preparing before guests arrive. Many times to make it quick and efficient , I have a bowl of all the ingredients prepared in advance except the avocado. When it’s time to eat , I just cut the avocado, scoop into the bowl, mix and serve.
A word about the ingredients:
I have a quick rule of thumb , 1 avocado per every 2 people and 1 lime per avocado
I start with a basic recipe. This recipe is cool and refreshing and works well for children and adults who don’t like the heat of the jalapeno pepper. I use this recipe also as a base to create different variations. My basic recipe is for 6 and makes about 3 cups :
3 Haas avocados, ripe
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
In a medium bowl add the lime juice and sea salt , let the salt dissolve. Cut and remove flesh from avocado and place into bowl with lime juice /salt along with scallions and mash with fork. Add ingredients listed below depending on the version you are making and mix well. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Make it Classic:
To the base recipe add 1 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, chopped.
Make it Red:
To the base recipe add 1 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, chopped and 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomato
Make it Greek:
Make the base recipe but replace the cilantro with chopped mint and add 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese.
Make it Blue:
Make the base recipe but instead of cilantro add 1/4 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese.
Hope you enjoy your guacamole days!