Tag Archives: vegetarian

Avocado Deviled Eggs for the Win!


Alex, I’ll take “foods Sherri’s mother never cooked” for 400 please. Originating in Italy, this round food is often filled with a mixture of egg yolk, mustard, and hot sauce.* Alex… What are deviled eggs? That is correct!

If this was a real episode of Jeopardy I would be $400 richer right now. Aside from my opening little joke, I have no cute story to tell for these eggs. All I have to offer is a beautiful photo and delicious recipe. They were not part of my mother’s recipe box or mine for that matter. It was found quite accidentally sitting in a basket, next to the avocados at my local grocery with no name or website attached.

The minute I saw it, just knew I had to try it. I don’t like regular deviled eggs. I’m not a fan of the filling. This recipe seemed perfect and while I was supposed to add the egg yolk to the avocado and mash them together, I must have missed that step somehow. I’m glad I missed it; I think it would have been too rich and mellowed the flavor of the avocado. The original recipe called for a sprinkling of paprika on top. I love the flavor of Za’atar and thought the sesame seeds would add a nice texture. I was right! These are the perfect little bite.

They make a great quick breakfast, light snack, or very deserving as an appetizer. All that’s left my friends is to Enjoy! Let me know what you think.

3 hard-boiled eggs (I like to use extra-large)
1 large avocado
3 teaspoons lime juice (lemon will work as well)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of salt and pepper
dash of hot sauce (optional)
sliced scallions
Sprinkle with Za’atar (or other spice you like)

Boil the eggs using my method. Click here for the instructions. Cook, cool and carefully peel the eggs. Use a sharp knife and cut the eggs in half vertically. Remove the cooked yolk from the egg and put aside.**

Add the avocado into a wide flat bowl and mash. Add the lime juice, garlic powder, a drop of hot sauce, salt and pepper. Mix together and spoon into each half. You can sprinkle them with any seasoning but I really like the flavor Za’atar adds. Place a couple of scallions on top and that’s it!

*FYI… the hot sauce gives it heat, which is why deviled eggs are called “devil”ed
**Instead of discarding, you could put them aside and make my mom’s thumb cookies with them! Or, if you want, add them to the avocado.

 

 

Grandma Pizza, We don’t have that in Columbus!

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When my husband was scouting out the Columbus area for our move 12 years ago, he would call me and tell me what he found that was familiar to us. While he was busy researching the best school districts, I asked things like, do they have a Lord & Taylor there. Is there a  Bloomingdales? And, oh, make sure you try the pizza I can’t move anywhere that doesn’t have good pizza! I have to be honest, the reports weren’t so promising.* That was coming from my husband who can eat almost anything. The best he came up with was California Pizza Kitchen. While I do enjoy their pizza, and sometimes crave their tricolore** salad pizza, it’s not New York Pizza!

How could this happen? A Brooklyn girl living someplace without good pizza, unheard of, unthinkable! Then I thought, if I learned to make it myself, I wouldn’t have to go without. So this began my journey on learning how to make the best tasting pizza I could! Pizza that would rival some of the best I’ve had in NY.

While still living in NY I purchased dough from my local pizza place just to get the hang of it. I bought a pizza stone and pizza wheel to cut the pizza. I was ready! From there, I researched cookbooks, cooking shows and asked an Italian neighbor of mine who made pizza regularly to help me. While this isn’t the first pizza I learned how to make, I wanted to share it first because it’s the easiest, absolutely delicious, and is made in a standard sheet pan. The ingredients are very simple and rustic. Most people are familiar with the round pizza, and square Sicilian, but the grandma pie is a whole different ballgame. Some people think it’s a thin Sicilian pie, but it’s not. The crust is almost like a thin focaccia and crispy on the bottom.  It’s not so easy to find outside of Long Island where it originated. That is unless you go to Italy where someone’s grandmother makes it for you, hence the title Grandma Pizza.

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So what exactly is a grandma pie? According to a Newsday article (Long Island newspaper) written by Erica Marcus…

“Variations abound, but the basic outlines are as follows: a thin layer of dough is stretched into an oiled, square “Sicilian” pan, topped sparingly with shredded mozzarella, crushed uncooked canned tomatoes, chopped garlic and olive oil, and baked until the top bubbles and the bottom is crisp.

[Michele] Scicolone [Manhattan resident, Italian food expert, and co-author of Pizza: Any Way You Slice It] observed that grandma pie sounded a lot like “pizza alla casalinga” (housewife-style pizza), “the kind of pizzas you’d get in Italy if you were invited to someone’s home.”

New Yorkers take their pizza seriously. If you would like to read the whole story, you can find it at this link:

http://long-island.newsday.com/restaurants/feed-me-1.812004/grandma-pizza-the-full-story-1.825269

So here it is, my version of Grandma Pizza adapted from Cooks Country…

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Dough
1   1/2 cups bread flour (plus more for kneading)
3/4 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees)
2  1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Recipe for the topping follows at the end.

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For the dough:  Coat a rimmed baking sheet (half sheet pan 18 x 13) with 2 tablespoons of good olive oil and set aside.

In a measuring cup add the warm water, sugar and yeast. Allow it to proof for about 5 minutes or until the yeast has activated and is foamy on top.

In a large bowl add the flour and salt. When the yeast is proofed, add the tablespoon of olive and stir into the flour mixture. If the dough feels too sticky, add a little more flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until soft, smooth and elastic about 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer the dough to greased sheet pan and turn it to coat. Stretch dough to about a 12 by 8 inch rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 minutes to one hour. While the dough is rising, put the topping together.

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Topping
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic minced fine (or more if you like garlic as much as I do!)
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (use a good quality mozzarella)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil

Place tomatoes in a colander and drain well. I leave it draining about 30 minutes. Then combine tomatoes, oil and garlic in a bowl and stir well. That’s it for the sauce!

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After it has doubled in size, stretch dough to the corners of the pan and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust your oven rack to the lowest position and the heat oven to 500 degrees. Now it’s time to assemble the pizza. Sprinkle the cheese over the dough leaving 1/2 inch border around the edges. Top with tomato mixture and then place in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and when you lift a corner of the crust you see it’s well browned underneath. Transfer to a wire rack to yield a crispy crust.  Enjoy!

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* 11 years later we have several really good pizza places here. Tomorrow I’m planning on doing a food crawl at a couple of them. One we love, the other we can’t wait to try. I’ve been told it’s the best pizza in Columbus. I’ll be the judge of that!

**tricolore is the name and spelling of the salad at CPK, this is not a misspelling on my behalf.  It’s a caramelized Parmesan pizza crust (I get whole wheat) topped with spring salad mix, diced tomatoes and shaved Parmesan cheese with their homemade Dijon balsamic vinaigrette dressing. I highly recommend it, salad and a pizza all in one! Yum!

 

 

Soups on! Tuscan Vegetable Soup with Canellini Beans

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I truly have no story about this soup. It’s not linked to a family memory, favorite restaurant, or anything in particular. I was planning my husband’s birthday dinner last week and needed a starter to go with the meal. It was very cold outside so I knew I wanted to make a soup. My main dish was simmering away on the stove and I needed something quick. I searched online for mediteranean soups and came across this Tuscan Vegetable Soup from Ellie Krieger. It’s made with ingredients I had on hand, makes 6 servings and only took 30 minutes to make from start to finish. This seemed like a winner plus it got a review of 5 stars. I would like to add my 5 stars to that review! Enjoy!
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The recipe is adapted from Ellie Krieger’s Tuscan Vegetable Soup with a few changes. She uses zucchini which I didn’t have so I substituted two peppers and also boosted the amount of vegetables a little. The recipe called for thyme and sage which I also did not have so I used Herbes de Provence which contains both sage and thyme. All we need is parsley and rosemary and we have a song! You know Simon and Garfunkel…
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine
I can’t be the only one that sings that when I’m cooking with these herbs. Am I?
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1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 to 3 carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
2 to 3 stalks celery, diced, (about 1 cup)
2 peppers cut into 1″ pieces (I used one yellow, one red but any combination is fine or use 1 small zucchini)
32 ounces vegetable broth
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium canellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chopped baby spinach leaves (or combination kale, Swiss chard and spinach)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons herbes de provence*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, salt and black pepper. Cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Now add the peppers and or zucchini, mix and cook for a couple of minutes longer.Add the vegetable broth and diced tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil. Add beans and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the spinach leaves and cook until it’s wilted, about 3 minutes more.Serve topped with fresh grated Parmesan, if desired.
*or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
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Lights Out Summer Gazpacho

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I have to admit, lights out summer gazpacho is a funny name for a recipe. It’s definitely not the original name I came up with. However, 10 minutes after I finished photographing this beautiful soup, I put it in the refrigerator, went upstairs to write this post and the lights went out in my house! The computer shut down and my post was lost. What would happen to my delicious gazpacho? I ran downstairs and poured myself a bowl. Topped with some avocado, cucumber and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, this cool refreshing soup took my mind off how hot my house was! It was the perfect dinner. I think the blackout worked to my advantage – and yours. The other story I wrote was quite long! You will be happy to know that a mere 3 hours later my lights were back on and the gazpacho was just fine. Gazpacho is a cold Spanish soup, made with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and onions. It takes less than 30 minutes to put it all together and only gets better with age. There aren’t too many soups you can say that about.

I don’t know about you, but among the many staples I have in my kitchen, are onions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and tomato juice. With these few ingredients you are always ready for a Bloody Mary (just add vodka) can make everything from a tzadziki dip (just add Greek yogurt!), roasted vegetables, add cheese and bread and make a panini, and of course this quick, easy and delicious gazpacho.

One thing I like most about living in the Midwest is the amount of local farms around. Throughout the year we go blueberry picking and apple picking which can’t be beat! Whenever possible, I like to buy my produce at the farmer’s market where you can find the most amazing and beautiful varieties of vegetables. In this recipe, I used Roma a.k.a. plum tomatoes and cherry tomatoes but you can substitute any kind of tomato. I have made it with heirloom, which I know can be expensive but worth the flavor it adds, tomatoes on the vine, cherry tomatoes, or a mixture of several varieties. During the summer, you can find sweet and delicious Vidalia onions – use them for everything! In Georgia they say people eat them like they would a peach as they are so sweet. Two fun little facts: they are Georgia’s official state vegetable – and I’m a huge fan!

Aside from the weekly farmer’s markets we have throughout the summer, there are local farms you can go to for picked that day produce. The one I frequent most is Smith Farm Market in Gahanna, Ohio. They are very conveniently located and open 8 months out of the year. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where you can go straight to the source for your fruits and vegetables you should make the effort, there is nothing like fresh farm grown fruits and vegetables… Enjoy!

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4 plum tomatoes
1 pint red teardrop tomatoes
2 bell peppers (any combination of red, yellow or orange)
1 English (aka hot house cucumber) cut in 1/2 and seeded
1 sweet onion cut into large pieces (if vidalia onions are in season, use them!)
4 cups low sodium tomato juice (I use Trader Joe’s low sodium Garden Patch)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
3 to 4 cloves of garlic minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
hot sauce (optional)

Garnishes: avocado, croutons or oyster crackers, finely diced cucumber, sliced olives, feta cheese or grilled fresh corn kernals.

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How vibrant and beautiful are these peppers from the farmer’s market?

 

Cut the tomatoes, peppers and onions into approximately 1″ pieces. Slice and take the seeds out of the cucumber. Mince the garlic and add to the onion. Put the vegetables into the food processor one at a time and pulse until it’s coarsely chopped. Don’t process it too fine. Then after you process each vegetable, add it to a large bowl or pot.

Add the tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and sugar. Mix well and chill before serving. You can top it with any of the garnishes suggested or come up with one of your own.

This recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Tomato Soup and Roasted Garlic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Surprise Croutons

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Is there anything more comforting then a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter day? Apparently, a warm bowl of soup on a cold spring day! This winter seems to be cutting into spring big time and quite frankly I’m getting a little tired of it, as are most people. The only good thing about it is that it lengthens the time we can enjoy a nice hot bowl of soup. And, since it rains in Ohio 10 to 14 days a month on average, soup is a big go-to for me. I will probably add a subtitle “soups” at some point because I do make quite a few of them. Throughout the fall and winter I make chicken soup almost every week. Then there is vegetable soup, carrot and parsnip soup, butternut squash soup, lentil soup, split pea soup, potato leek, onion soup, hot and sour soup (shout out to my sister-in-law Barbara for that one), velvet chicken and corn soup, mushroom barley soup, and in the summer, gazpacho and chilled fruit soups! Tonight it was so cold, it felt like a tomato soup kind of night. Since I had a loaf of roasted garlic bread in the house, what better to go along side than a delicious gooey grilled cheese? This recipe is loosely based on Barefoot Contessa’s easy tomato soup & grilled cheese croutons (how clever is that?) but with a Splash of Sherri and much less fat! This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.

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2 sweet onions diced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic peeled and minced
4 cups vegetable stock (store bought is fine for this)
2 (28 ounce) cans San Marzano tomatoes
1 pint cherry tomatoes or any mix of fresh tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt (season to taste)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon black pepper (season to taste)

Grilled cheese recipe follows at the end

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Wash a pint of tomatoes, core and cut in half. Place on a small baking sheet and drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt, toss to coat. Roast in the oven for about 20 minute or until the tomatoes start to have a nice light charred look to them. I roasted a pint of mini heirloom tomatoes in my toaster oven. They added such a wonderful flavor to the soup. If you can find them, I highly recommend them.

Meanwhile, in a large pot heat 2 tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium to low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes until they are nice and caramelized.* Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, stir in the vegetable stock, can of tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, bay leaf, sugar, salt and pepper.. Bring the soup to a light boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Use and immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.

* I use the Arthur Schwartz method of caramelizing onions. After you place them in the pot, cover them for 10 minutes stirring every 3 minutes or so. Then uncover them and cook another 10 to 15 minutes stirring occasionally, until they become nice and golden brown. See my post on how to caramelize onions in my favorite things category.

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Grilled cheese sandwiches for 3 people plus one extra to cut into croutons:

8 slices Roasted garlic bread sliced into 1/2 inch slices (or the bread of your choice)
1 cup good quality lowfat cheddar cheese shredded
olive oil to brush the bread

Heat a griddle or panini pan. Place 4 slices of bread on a cutting board and lightly brush with olive oil. Usually grilled cheese is made by buttering the bread but I prefer the taste of olive oil and it’s healthier. Place them oiled side down in the pan. Top each slice with 1/4 cup of cheese. Place remaining slices of bread on top and lightly brush with olive oil.

Grill the sandwiches for about 4 minutes a side, or until nicely browned. Place on a cutting board and allow them to rest for about a minute before slicing in half. Slice 3 of the sandwiches in half. The extra sandwich, cut into 1 inch cubes and place in a bowl  to be used as croutons. Enjoy!