Prosciutto Mascarpone bites

I am sitting here this morning drinking my tea and trying to figure out what to say. Which is kinda funny for me, as most of my friends and family will gladly tell you; I always have something to say.  Just sharing –  It took me longer to write this than it did to make a platter of these the other night. 
IMG_3590Today is our first frost, last night my Red Sox lost the first game of the series. I used up the last of my balsamic that I brought home from Italy. And I think I might have worn my flip flops for the last time this year. The day has nowhere to go but up – I hope.
IMG_3583I do have a quick and simple appetizer that I probably paid at least 12 euros for 3 little bites in Greece. But I will be adding these to my list of go too App. I have some friends that have been asking me to come up with an appetizer class. They say they always make the same things every time they are asked to bring something. Which I totally understand. You make something that everyone likes why wouldn’t you make it over and over again. I get a sense that I have to bring something different every time I am invited to someone’s home. I am sure I bring most of it on to myself, I write a food blog I can’t disappoint my people LOL.
IMG_3584This recipe is so simple I am almost embarrassed to write a blog about it. But if you want a new app to bring to a party or just make a light snack for yourself; I won’t judge you.

Prosciutto Mascarpone bites

Prosciutto, thinly sliced
Mascarpone, room temperature
Balsamic vinegar
Greens for decoration

There are packages by the deli with pre-sliced prosciutto, slice each one lengthwise down the middle.
IMG_3585I found it easier to work with the Mascarpone when it got warmer. I put mine in a pastry bag. You can use a ziploc bag or skip the bag and use a couple of spoons to dollop some on the end of each piece of Prosciutto.

Roll each piece and stand them on end, drizzle with the balsamic. Adding some greenery finishes off the simple plate nicely. When I make these again I might roll the meat and then fill with the mascarpone using my pastry bag. I think they would look much nicer. 
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Mascarpone, Cream Cheese
Mascarpone simply put is less tangy than Cream cheese

Bacon, Pancetta, Prosciutto – I love all three
Now a quick little lesson in the differences between Bacon, pancetta, prosciutto
Three pork products that look alike, taste somewhat similar, and even get regularly substituted for each other.

All three are cured meat products Bacon (usually found sliced) and Pancetta (can be sliced thin or cubed) are from the pork belly and need to be cooked before eating. Bacon is put through a smoking process where Pancetta is unsmoked. Prosciutto (sliced and cubed) is from the hind leg and does not have to be cooked to be eaten.
I hope this simple explanation clears things up a little for you.
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Cider-Sage Pork Roast

Sometimes dinner just comes together; at least in the beginning; I’ll explain more about that in a bit. I had picked up a pork roast on my last shopping trip. There was a little cider leftover in the fridge and some of my herbs are still going strong especially the sage.
IMG_3582.JPGLast Tuesday I think I was a little over ambitious; I blame vacation and not having a kitchen for a couple of weeks and the weather; fall is coming, well actually weather wise it is here and I love cooking roasts; it helps take the chill out of the air in the house. My husband keeps saying “winter is coming” but he is a Game of Thrones fan and he loves to ski.
IMG_3570.JPGThe front cover of one of my favorite foodie magazines Fine Cooking had a roasted pork loin on the cover that I wanted to try. It does help to actually read a recipe through before jump in and start making it. Which I hadn’t done; thankfully there was exactly 4 cups of cider left in the fridge; it was meant to be. If nothing else the brine was easy and made the pork taste exactly as I thought it would. A little sweet from the cider, just enough salt and very juicy – which you need to cook it to the correct temperature to help with the juicy part.
IMG_3575.JPGI had to run to the store after work to pick up the things I didn’t have on hand and that’s when it went and usually does go sideways. I needed a couple of apples and ended up grabbing enough to make an apple pie. Really Donna on a Tuesday night; what is wrong with me? There were going to be 5 of us for dinner and I started with making the pie crust around 5:30 I think we finally ate dinner around 7:30 – 8:00.
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While the pork was outstanding and cooked to perfection, I will admit it wasn’t because I had a firm grasp of the cooking process. It smelled like something was burning so I checked the oven and my potatoes, apples and onions were mostly charcoal. Since it was getting late I flipped the convection switch and the oven was on a ridiculously high temperature plus everyone was around the island looking at vacation pictures. Needless to say I was distracted and shit happens. But I made apple pie 🙂

Cider-Sage Pork roast

Brine
4 cups apple cider
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup kosher salt
3-5 cloves garlic, cut in half
3 lb. center cut pork loin

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together 2 cups of the cider, sugar, salt and garlic and bring to a simmer until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Add the other 2 cups of cider and cool to room temperature. Add the roast to a bag or bowl and cover with the brine, seal and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
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Roast
16 fresh sage leaves
3 large granny smith apples, 2 inch wedges
1 ½ lb small potatoes, similar to Yukon gold, halved – I used my potatoes from our garden
1 large red onion, ½ inch wedges
3 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups apple cider

Preheat oven to 425’F with the rack in the center of the oven
Bring the roast out to the counter to come to room temperature about 20-30 minutes.
IMG_3578.JPGIn a large roasting pan, toss the apples, potatoes and onion with half of the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast until they are mostly tender around 20 minutes. While they are in the oven remove the pork from the brine and place on some paper towels. Discard the brine. Dry the pork. Using kitchen twine or if you are lucky enough to have silicon bands like mine. Tie in three evenly spaced spots. Take 12 sage leaves and place them under the twine. Season roast with black pepper.
IMG_3579.JPGWhile the veggies and apples are roasting, in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, Add the rest of the olive oil, and when hot sear all sides of the loin, don’t move the pork until it releases from the pan, which will ensure a nice brown crust.

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sorry about the lousy picture – but you get the gist

Place the pork roast onto the apples, potatoes and onions in the roasting pan. Reduce the heat to 350’F (which I didn’t do, another part of my problem) roast for about 60-80 minutes or until the roast registers 145’F check on it after 60 minutes. Once done let it rest for about 15 minutes.

I also missed this step. While the pork is resting, make a pan sauce. Pour off and discard any of the fat. Set the pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter, flour and the rest of the sage leaves torn into large pieces. Cook making sure to stir up ant brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cider and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring until it thickens, about 5-10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
IMG_3574Remove the twine and thinly slice the pork. Serve with the apples, potatoes and onions along side the sauce.

Adapted from Fine Cooking

Gyros – Greek street food

We had a wonderful time in Greece, looks like we got out just in time though. They have had a couple of horrible storms where they had to shut down all of the ferries; parts of Athens was flooding and some of the Peloponnese islands are getting hit really hard. I guess my ferry ride into Mykonos harbor pales in comparison to what they are experiencing now. Though at the time it was a new experience for me trying to get into the hull of the ship to get ready to disembark being tossed around like a rag doll due to high winds and rough seas. Looks like we had it easy!

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Theirs

Last week I shared some of the food we had eaten on our journey. Bare with me for another week of Greek food I even made some this week at home and shared it with my son and in-laws. Sorry this one might be a little wordy too.

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Ours – first try don’t judge me too hard!

We rented a car for the day on the island of Mykonos no sure my husband was thrilled with this idea; especially since he was driving; but I wanted to and they say if you are going to rent a car, ATV, or side by side; this is the island to do it as there is less traffic that some of the other ones. My husband might disagree a bit with this. The roads are narrow, the traffic was less but the uneven stone walls leaning in make for a scary ride at times. We did get a little too close to some bushes while a bus was coming at us. Thankfully no damage. Sorry back to food – I read about a few restaurants that you Must Visit while here. We came a across one of them and decided to check it out for dinner; after we handed in the car; no one wants to or should drive there at night especially after a glass of wine or two.
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Our dinner at Bill and Coo was the most expensive meal we had but what an experience in fine cuisine. I’ll share the photos of what we had but I couldn’t begin to tell you how to make any of it. There are several high end restaurants that might break the bank but you can also eat on a dime and still enjoy some great tasting food and have a wonderful experience. After having several gyros on the islands and mainland my husband asked “why are these not more popular back home?” I’m sure they are somewhere in the states, just not anywhere near us.

Enjoy some Bill and Coo food porn!IMG_1245IMG_1246IMG_1247

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The night before we were leaving I wanted to bring back 2 things from Greece. I loved their Pistachios and their pita bread. I found a shop for the nuts but had to ask one of the bellhops at our hotel where a grocery store was so I could get some pita to take home. He tried not to laugh at me but found it hard while saying “um don’t you have pita bread back home?” I get it, of course we do but I have never come across thick ones that wasn’t a pocket; if that makes any sense? for 1.5 euros I packed a 10 pack of pitas in my luggage.

Here is my first attempt at making a chicken Gyro – it won’t be my last; everyone loved them!

Souvlaki is marinated meat skewer which you then take the cooked meat along with some other ingredients; roll everything up in a grilled pita and you got yourself a Gyro
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Souvlaki dry rub for marinade – combine all the below in an airtight container

2 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

Take 1 tablespoon of the above mixture and combine it with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoon olive oil. Cube up your chicken, pork or lamb and add to a ziploc bag along with the marinade. Make sure all pieces are covered and let sit up to 24 hours.
I made mine in the morning and had it ready for dinner that night.
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I didn’t skewer them or cook them over the grill only because it was getting dark out and I didn’t want to 🙂 I did grill my Greek pita over an open flame on my stove top. You can eat this as a deconstructed gyro but I think you need to try it as I made it at least once.
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Tzaziki
1 medium Cucumber – grated and drained
1/2 cup Greek yogurt – plain
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice – fresh is best
1 -2 garlic cloves – minced
2 teaspoons dill or mint – fresh
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Grate unpeeled cucumber seeds and all. squeeze out as much of its liquid that you can.
add all the ingredients together. Let it sit for 10 minutes to let it meld. Adjust the ingredients above to your taste. It should last about 4 days in the fridge, that is if you have any leftover. Before serving drizzle a little olive oil on top.
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Gyros
Meat – marinated and cooked
Pita
potatoes – french fries
tomato – chopped
red onion – sliced thinly
Tzaziki

Grill the pita bread, layer the rest of the ingredients, top with fries and tzaziki – roll and enjoy!

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Eating Greece & travel days

Our trip did not start out quite like I had hoped! How many times have you heard that? We got delayed in Boston and were told we were going to miss our connecting flight in Montreal. They offered another flight on another airline but declined. We thought we would take our chances. We were THIS close to making our connection, we got to our gate and the plane was still there but they had closed the doors. Is it just me or wouldn’t it have been cheaper on the airlines to let the last two passengers on versus having to pay for our hotel and give us food vouchers for the day and night? Just saying!!!

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my first dinner in Athens and I can’t remember what kind of fish it was – sorry I should have wrote it down

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Seabream over potato salad

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View from our rooftop bar and restaurant

After spending a lovely day walking around Montreal our next stop was Athens, Greece. We were there a total of maybe 14 hours; 5-6 was sleeping; before heading to the island of Santorini. When we travel we always tend to eat the first night at the hotel restaurant, we need to take time to adjust and get the lay of the land before venturing out.

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Prosciutto wrapped feta foam and a balsamic glaze – delish!!!

What can I say about this volcanic island, the views are spectacular, the sunsets amazing, the food was wonderful, the hills and stairs were many and steep and the sea was cold. The beaches were just meh. The local wine was good, I hear they are famous for it. Honestly I don’t know how anything grows there, it is dry, the water is not drinkable and they don’t water anything. The plants grow as low bushes close to the ground; no staking; and they rely on the morning dew and these little baskets that they surround the plants with to do the job! Good for them for making it happen!
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My daughter is going to tell me this one is too wordy but I wanted to share this part in case you are thinking of planning a similar trip some day and I hope you do!
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The ferry ride from Santorini to Mykonos was absolutely crazy! The ferries are HUGE ships that carry not only passengers but cars, trucks, supplies whatever they can get on board. Getting on is fairly calm and easy to make happen. Getting off is something more like organized chaos. And the word organized I am using loosely. They make an announcement to what island they are coming into and you have to make your way to the cargo hull; yes where are the cars and trucks are; this stop was very windy and the seas were rough so we were basically holding on for dear life while walking down 2-3 flights of stairs; walking by people actually using their barf bags, and then they want us to grab our luggage and get off the ship while they are driving the cars right next to us. Again trying not to fall; at one point both feet were off the ground and I am not joking. once on land it was funny but during I was not I’ll say loving life.  On a side note both of these island have airports 🙂

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I needed this after the ferry ride!

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seafood risotto – very good but was a little put off about the squid in the center – not sure what came out of it but I didn’t eat it. I know what kind of a foodie do I think I am!

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my rose and his pounder – their beers are huge over here!

 

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Another way to use up all of my zucchini – just need to figure out how to make feta foam!

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My first time trying carpaccio (raw) and it was 3 different fish – absolutely amazing!!!

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Baklava – I am a fan now – not as sweet here!

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even in Greece I see a wood oven and they have pizza I am all in!

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Souvlaki & Gyros are a must while here – this one is chicken and my husband found a new love Tzatziki with fresh grilled pita bread – he orders it every time

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afternoon rest from a long day of shopping – Yamas mean cheers in Greek!

Mykonos beaches are on a whole other level, there are many and you will never be bored on one. They have it all worked out; food, sun, shade, drinks, music, water activities and people peddling their goods. Most areas on the beaches are filled with chairs (there are some places without and those parts are free) and they charge accordingly to how close you want to be to the water; we saw up to 40 euro for 2 chairs and an umbrella. Each restaurant has a different color umbrella/chair cushion, take a seat and they will come up to you and tell you how much! Both islands have shopping; of course they do, cruise ships come in daily. Most shops are pretty expensive but you should be able to find something to come home with.

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appetizer at our hotel on Mykonos – little bit of everything; bread, fish, fava bean puree, fried pork, tomatoes etc.

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Poached cod which was pretty good

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Bruschetta – looked better than it tasted – It should have been on a pita – we like it better then their bread choices

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warm tart ratatouille – very good!

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Chicken over risotto

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Lemon tart – if you can believe it – very good!!!!!

 

Zucchini chocolate chip muffins

I am writing this one last blog (Wednesday) before I leave for Greece – weeeeeee
I am hoping to be able to write the next one on one of the Greek Islands and share with you all what I have been eating.
IMG_3121We are leaving the house, dog and business in the kids hands, we are not worried at all. I am slightly concerned about my gardens. The kids have never really been interested in the process; other than eating everything. Hmmmmm I might have failed them – time will tell when they get their own home and yard I hope they will want to garden even if it is not to the extent that we do.
IMG_3112Thankfully the squash plants are starting to fade away. We had a crazy squash season; I think the best we have ever had to be perfectly honest. This will probably be my last zucchini recipe – OK you can stop smiling or rolling your eyes. It is a good one!!!!
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Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins / preheat oven 350’F / makes 12 muffins plus a few smaller ones if you have leftover batter

Ingredients
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup vegetable oil – or substitute ½ cup applesauce
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded/drained zucchini
½ cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped walnuts

Directions
Grease 12 muffins cups or line with paper muffins liners.
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Combine in a large bowl the flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl mix egg, oil, milk, lemon and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into the dry till combined. Fold in zucchini, chips and walnuts.  Fill cups about ⅔ full.
IMG_3120Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Adapted from Allrecipes

Buttermilk Berry Muffins

This weekend and last I have been spending at least one of the weekend days in the kitchen. I wanted to; well actually had to make sure my gardening wasn’t for not.
IMG_3111Last week I had some blueberries and raspberries that needed to be either eaten or made into something else. Tomatoes that I needed to make into a sauce, green peppers washed, sliced and frozen and broccoli into soup and froze the rest. Plus cucumbers needed to turn into pickles and I had a ridiculous amount zucchinis that I wanted to give to someone else. I did bring seven or so to work and sent my daughter to the lake she works at with a basket full. Thankful people are still excited, or that might be a strong adjective, to see me coming with produce.
IMG_3105Last weekend I made some mixed-berry muffins that I hope you like. You can use whatever kind of berries you have on hand or one that you like the most. The berries can be fresh or frozen so these can basically be made whenever you want with what you have on hand
IMG_3107Buttermilk  Mixed Berry Muffins – makes 12 muffins – preheat oven 350’F

2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup buttermilk
⅔ cup canola oil – or ⅔ cup applesauce
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups blueberries
2 cups raspberries

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, applesauce or oil and vanilla.
In another bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt.

Gently fold in the berries into the dry ingredients.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry just till combined, do not over mix the batter
IMG_3106Either spray the muffin pan or line with paper cups liners.  Fill to 3/4 fill or slightly more.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let rest for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Easy no-fry Eggplant Parm & Garden Salsa

OK so you are probably wondering when she is going to stop writing about her damn garden; but this year was a super year and I need to use up or give away what I pick; plus the season is winding down. It is Labor day weekend, there are school buses everywhere and we are supposedly not supposed to wear white anymore – pfff I wear what I want!
IMG_3103.JPGSo this week was another one of those busy weeks but I had a plan to use up what I have for tomatoes and peppers. I came home from work on Wednesday and started chopping. Halfway through we lost power so I finished chopping by candlelight. I made a pretty large bowl of salsa with my tomatoes, green peppers, onions and jalapenos. It was pretty cool since I haven’t been able to make it in a couple of years; it was a terrible year for green peppers last year and the year before I didn’t get any tomatoes. Yeah I know I could have gone out and bought some of what I needed  but that just doesn’t appeal to me for making “homemade salsa” I have issues I know!
IMG_3094Tonight (Thursday) I wanted to use up all the eggplant that was in the fridge. This is only the second year of growing eggplant and who knew there were SO many kinds out there. I had only seen the large oblong ones from the store but mine are long and thin. Which is great for slicing up and adding them into things. I know I have shared this recipe before but it is worth repeating since it comes together fast and tastes excellent with probably the fewest iIMG_3095
I add Sweet Italian sausage basically because I love it, and I think it brings a lot to the dish and my husband won’t ask why there is no meat. I very rarely keep the sausage link as a full link. For this recipe I sliced a couple of the links into coins or minim meatballs. I do this for spaghetti sauce sometimes; or I’ll remove the casing and smash the sausage up and brown it. Either way I am all in.
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I deglazed the pan with a little leftover red wine – totally optional

 

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I put this a baggie for another use – fridge or freeze it for another day!


Mock Eggplant Parmesan

1 large or several small Eggplant(s) diced
Marinara sauce – your favorite jar
1 small Onion diced
1 package Mozzarella
2 links Sausage (optional)

Saute the onions until they sweat, add the sausage if you are using it. Cook the sausage till it is done. Add the marinara sauce, stir and then add the mozzarella. Cover and let it simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes.

Serve with a side salad and some bread

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I posted this recipe way back in 2013 wow I have been doing this a long time!


Homemade Garden Salsa

6 tomatoes (roma)- seeded diced
1 Green bell pepper – seeded diced
1 Onion – diced
2 Jalapeno peppers – seeded chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic – pressed
1 Lime, squeezed
Fresh cilantro – chopped
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
dash Balsamic vinegar
1-2 packets of sweet and low

Dice and seed the tomatoes and set aside to drain while you dice the peppers and onions, press the garlic, and chop the cilantro. Mix everything together add a dash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and a packet or two of sweet and low.

Hint 1: you can make it hotter by leaving the pith and seeds in the jalapenos or milder by removing them before chopping.

Hint 2: By seeding the tomatoes your salsa will be less watery