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hummus (with a surprising ingredient)

hummus - with a suprising ingredientMost of us have, at some point, enjoyed hummus either as a dip with pita bread and veggies or as a condiment slathered over a falafel.  The recipe is simple;  grab a can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), garlic, tahini, lemon or lime juice, coriander and process in a blender.  Hummus is a healthy substitute for mayonnaise or butter.  That said, I went off it for a period of time as I found it boring until I decided to add anchovies…blame it on the anchovy butter I made a couple of weeks ago.  Sure, you can jazz it up by adding sumac or cumin but nothing quite took hold of my taste buds the way anchovies did. Continue Reading →

homemade anchovy butter (umami-rich)

Making flavoured butter isn’t a new invention but when anchovies are added, you get a whole lotta umami-rich going on.  Say what?  Umami is a trendy foodie word for a pleasant savoury taste.  In a nutshell, something to pump up the flavour like adding a splash of fish sauce or lime juice.  I read that you can even use soy sauce in lieu of parmesan over tomato sauce; who runs out of Parmesan cheese?  Anchovy butter can be used in many ways to enhance the food you put on the table. Continue Reading →

bruschetta with white anchovies

bruschetta with white anchoviesBruschetta (pronounced bru-sketta) is a classic Italian appetizer consisting of toasted bread slices topped with fresh ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil.  There are oodles of variations and I’ve named a few here for you to consider: smashed avocado with chopped tomatoes; zucchini goat cheese bruschetta; smoked salmon with mascarpone cheese. Continue Reading →

grilled radicchio with bagna càuda

grilled radicchio with bagna caudo sauceSometimes less is more and in cooking terms it’s spot on.  Simple ingredients can make any dish shine. Bagna càuda is an Italian sauce made with butter, olive oil, garlic and anchovies.  The Italians eat it with fennel, peppers, carrots, cauliflower.  Fresh bread dipped in this sauce is simply scrumptious!  Or, give your taste buds a real treat by grilling radicchio wedges and slather with bagna càuda.  I’ve grilled radicchio before as well as romaine but never served it with bagna càuda.  The oil and butter help to round out the garlic while softening the salty flavour of anchovies.  It’s a sauce that is super easy to make, has minimal ingredients and loaded with flavour. Continue Reading →

prosciutto wrapped tomato

prosciutto wrapped tomatoThe holiday season is just around the corner and it’s that time of the year when we’re out socializing and entertaining at home. The thought of entertaining can be intimidating for both the novice and the experienced.  When I know I am having friends over, I generate a plan, cook ahead, stay within my limits and remember it is only a party – a time to have fun.  Everybody loves a party where they can reconnect, celebrate and get away from the stresses of daily life.  Entertaining is also about trying new things, new ideas and new techniques.  Which brings me to this insanely delicious dish:  prosciutto wrapped tomato. Continue Reading →

Brussels Sprout Salad

Brussels Sprout SaladSalads take on many forms from the traditional and the not-so-traditional like the one posted here. Brussels sprouts are not every persons cup of tea but I’ll bet if you try it as a salad with the following delicious ingredients, I think you just might be pleasantly surprised.  Brussels sprout salad not only is esthetically pleasing but full of nutritional goodies.  Continue Reading →

Stuffed Round Zucchini (zucchine tonde ripiene)

Stuffed Round ZucchiniFarmers’ markets always provide interesting selections of fruits and vegetables and most vendors are happy to share their knowledge of their produce.  I spotted these round zucchinis at the Ridge Hill Yonkers’ Down to Earth Farmers’ Market – aren’t they adorable?

Serves 4

4 round zucchinis
1 garlic clove, minced
3 or 4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
olive oil
feta cheese

round zucchiniPreheat oven to 350f. Cut the tops off the zucchini and set aside. Using a teaspoon, scoop out flesh but not too close to the skin. Roughly chop the zucchini flesh. Rub olive oil all over the zucchini rounds. In a large sauté pan, add one tablespoon of olive oil and place over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, and anchovies and sauté until onion is soft. Then add zucchini flesh and cook until soft. Remove from heat; add sun dried tomatoes, feta, and parsley. Stir to combine and then stuff zucchini. Place zucchini tops on top.  Add a splash of olive oil in a baking dish and add zucchini rounds. Bake for 30 minutes or until zucchini looks soft. Serve immediately.

zucchiniThe Culinary Chase’s Note: Any leftover stuffing can be used in another dish such as a frittata.  The ingredients are approximate so play around to suit your palate.  Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper Salad with White Beans and Anchovy Sauce

roasted red pepper salad with white beans & anchovy sauce

I enjoy listening to stories of the past and with my mother in-law visiting, it’s the perfect time to hear more.  Aida was born on the tiny island of Gibraltor 89 years ago.  She moved to England in 1946 and has what I call a lovely Spanish/English accent.  We are never short on conversation, our talks cover the whole gamut – travel, current events, fashion and of course food!  While I was preparing this salad Aida told me her mother used  to stuff her red peppers with meat, cheese, eggs and served with tomato sauce (everything back then was done from scratch).  She remembers her mom, Angelina Bocarisa, making her tomato sauce either by blanching the tomatoes to remove the skins or over an open fire.   Ovens were not common in homes back then and the women from the village would take their bread or joints (roasts) to the baker.  A steel sticker would be handed out as a receipt and given a time to come back.   Can you imagine how busy the baker must have been on a Sunday!  The ladies would come and collect their baked goods and walk back to their homes with hot food in hand.  When Aida moved to England she was fascinated with how advanced the country seemed compared to her own…electric irons, washers, tumble dryers, hoovers, ovens etc.

As I sit here typing this post rehashing my conversation with Aida, I look around me and see how much is taken for granted.   Nearly everything is readily available at our fingertips but are we truly grateful?  Hmm, I wonder.

Serves 4
adapted from Martha Stewart

4 small red bell peppers
4 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 to 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 can (15oz.) small white beans, drained and rinsed
Parmesan cheese, grated (2 tablespoons)
1 cup packed spicy baby greens, such as watercress or arugula/rocket

Char bell peppers over the flames of a gas burner, turning with tongs until blackened and blistered, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, broil them 2 or 3 inches from heat source).  Transfer peppers to a bowl, cover with saran wrap, and let stand until cool. Scrape off skins with a paring knife and wipe flesh clean with a paper towel. Keeping stems intact, cut peppers in half lengthwise, then remove and discard seeds. Arrange on a platter and season with salt and pepper.

roasted red peppers & white beansTo make the anchovy sauce, whisk together anchovies, garlic, vinegar, oil, and parsley in a medium bowl.  Add beans and toss to coat. Spoon over peppers and top with Parmesan and greens.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Add 1 teaspoon of sherry vinegar first to the sauce before adding more.  Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower with Linguine

roasted cauliflower with linguineIt seems like a such long time since we last had linguine.  The cauliflower in the fridge had been carefully selected for another dish but I wasn’t in the mood and decided last minute to make this.  I always have a bottle of capers and anchovies in the fridge so all that was needed was a bit of spice.  Dried chili pepper flakes are a perfect companion for this recipe.   Capers are an often overlooked garnish, but they make a tasty addition to Italian dishes of all types – used as a seasoning in pasta and salads.  Capers are a good source of protein, fiber and iron.  Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as a good source for folate, vitamin K and dietary fiber.  An easy vegetarian meal to throw together in 30 minutes.

Serves 4
small head of cauliflower, trimmed & cut into florets
olive oil
2 tablespoons capers
4 anchovy fillets, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons chili pepper flakes (or more if you like it hot)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
500g linguine

Preheat oven to 400f. In a bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place on a baking sheet and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until cauliflower is al dente and bits of brown starting to show. Remove from oven and set aside. Cook pasta according to packet instructions. While pasta is cooking, in a large sauté pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add anchovies and allow to dissolve in the oil then add garlic and chili flakes. Sauté until fragrant – keep an eye on this to make sure garlic does not brown. Remove from heat and add cauliflower, toss to combine.

When pasta is cooked, drain all but half a cup of the liquid. You may need to add this liquid to the pasta. Place sauté pan with cauliflower over medium heat and add drained linguine. Toss to combine and add pasta water if it looks a bit dry. Season and finish off with a splash of olive oil. Serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Adjust ingredients accordingly…I love the flavor of anchovies so I end up using more in this recipe as well as a bit more chili pepper flakes for a bit of heat. Enjoy!

Grilled Broccolini with Garlic Anchoy Sauce

broccolini with garlic anchovy sauceThe tail end of Spring is drawing to a close and thankfully the warmer weather has arrived.  And because of this, the air in our neighborhood is perfumed with food being cooked on backyard barbeques. If you don’t barbecue you almost feel left out.  When I head out to our back deck to fire up the grill, my stomach grumbles as I get a whiff of someone using their barbeque.  I love this time of year.  Broccolini is a cross between broccoli and gai lan (Chinese kale).  It’s more delicate in flavor than broccoli and can be eaten raw or lightly sautéed.

Serves 4
adapted by The Gardener & The Grill

Sauce:
1 to 2 anchovy fillets, mashed into as paste
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

2 bunches broccolini, trimmed (about 2 lbs.)
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

broccolini on the barbieFor the sauce, whisk together all ingredients and set aside. Light your barbeque to a medium-hot fire. Place broccolini on a plate and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill until broccolini is al dente, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with sauce.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Fresh and simple! Make sure broccolini is similar in size otherwise the larger pieces will take longer to cook and will result in the smaller ones becoming burnt.  Serve this right off the grill or at room temperature.   Summer is just around the corner…Friday, 21st of June.  Enjoy!