Strawberry and Orange Salad with Citrus Syrup & Fresh Mint

Strawberry-Orange-Salad-Citrus-Syrup

This is one of my favorite fruit salads. It’s elegant, delicious and such a nice change of pace from the standard mix of pre-cut fruit from the supermarket. I usually serve it for brunch — it dresses up the table and pairs well with savory quiche and casserole dishes  – but it’s also wonderful for dessert served with shortcake and whipped cream.

ingredients

With only five ingredients, it’s quick and easy to make. The only tricky part is cutting the oranges. Rather than slicing them into wheels, I like to cut the segments out of the membranes; it takes a few minutes longer but it’s prettier and the oranges are so much easier to eat. To begin, cut a slice off the top and bottom so that the orange sits flat, then use a knife to work your way around the fruit to remove all the skin and pith. Holding the orange over the serving bowl, use a sharp knife to cut the segments out from in between the membranes. 

Prepping-Oranges

Squeeze all the juice from the oranges into a separate bowl, then stir in the lemon juice and brown sugar. Pour the syrup over the fruit and sprinkle with fresh mint. Refrigerate the salad for at least 30 minutes or up to six hours to allow the flavors to marry.

Strawberry-Orange-Salad-Citrus-Syrup

Strawberry and Orange Salad with Citrus Syrup and Fresh Mint

Print Recipe
Servings: 4
Total Time: 15 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved (or quartered if very large)
  • 3 oranges
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint, plus a sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place the strawberries into a serving bowl.
  2. Cut a slice off the top and bottom of each orange so they sit flat on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, work your way around the fruits to remove all the skin and pith. Cupping the orange in one hand and working over the serving bowl, carefully cut the segments out from between the membranes. (Be sure to cut only until you reach the middle of the fruit!) Over a separate small bowl, firmly squeeze the remaining membranes to release all the orange juice.
  3. Add the lemon juice and brown sugar to the freshly squeezed orange juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the strawberries and orange segments and gently toss to combine. Sprinkle with fresh mint. Taste and add more lemon juice if necessary (the syrup should have a perfect balance of tart and sweet). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to six hours. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and serve in shallow bowls with spoons.

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Flourless-Chocolate-Almond-Cake-

I’m in charge of dessert for Passover every year so I’ve made my fair share of flourless chocolate cakes. This one, adapted from Maida Heatter’s Cakes, is my all-time favorite. Originally called the Queen Mother’s Cake (it’s a long story), the cake is Heatter’s most popular recipe ever. It’s made with ground almonds instead of flour and frosted with a decadent chocolate ganache, making it rich, elegant and surprisingly light.

kids-love-it

Even though it’s fancy and made with nuts, kids love it. As you can see, my son has been enjoying it as a snack cake all week long!

ingredients

There aren’t that many ingredients in this cake, which makes it look simple but, I’ll be honest: there are a lot of steps! It’s not hard to make but it does take a few hours start to finish. I think it’s worth it! Here goes…

Begin by buttering a 9 x 3-inch springform pan. Line the pan with a round of parchment paper, then butter the paper. Dust the pan with matzo meal (if making for Passover) or fine bread crumbs so the cake won’t stick. Next, toast and grind the almonds, separate the eggs and melt the chocolate in the microwave.

flourless-chocolate-cake-prep

Next, beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition, then add the melted chocolate and ground almonds. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold them into the chocolate mixture.

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake Batter

Bake the cake for about one hour and ten minutes, then let the cake cool. It will fall in the center as it cools; that’s okay — the next step is to cut off the edges of the cake to make it flat.

Flourless-Chocolate-Almond-Cake-Baking-and-Trimming

Next, make the frosting.

ganache-ingredients

Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a medium saucepan, then whisk in the instant coffee powder. Off the heat, stir in the chocolate and stir until completely melted. Let the ganache thicken for 10-15 minutes, then pour it over top of the cake. Use a thin spatula to smooth it over the top and down the sides. Serve with fresh berries, sweetened whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or any combination.

Flourless-Chocolate-Almond-Cake-Frosting

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Print Recipe
Servings: Makes one 9-inch cake, serving 10-12
Total Time: 3 Hours

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1-1/2 cups slivered almonds
  • Handful fine dry breadcrumbs, matzo meal or gluten-free substitute (for dusting the pan)
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (best quality, such as Ghirardelli)
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1-1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

For the Ganache Frosting

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (best quality, such as Ghirardelli)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Spread the almonds in a single layer on the prepared pan and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the almonds are lightly colored and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  3. Adjust a rack one-third up in the oven and turn the oven heat up to 375°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9'' x 3'' springform pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper cut to fit. Butter the paper. Dust the pan all over with the fine bread crumbs (or matzo meal); rotate the pan several times to spread evenly, then invert over the sink and tap lightly to shake out any excess crumbs. Set the prepared pan aside.
  4. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until about 75% melted. Stir and let the residual heat melt the chocolate until completely smooth. Set aside until tepid.
  5. Place the almonds and ¼ cup of the sugar (reserve remaining ½ cup sugar) in a food processor fitted with a metal chopping blade. (Reserve the parchment paper from the nuts for icing the cake.) Process until the nuts are finely ground, stopping the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides. You should process for about one minute total. The mixture will be a little pasty but should not be the consistency of a nut butter. Set aside the ground nuts.
  6. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add ¼ cup of the sugar (reserve the remaining ¼ cup sugar) and beat to mix. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary until smooth. On low speed, add the chocolate and beat until mixed. Then add the processed almonds and beat, scraping the bowl, until incorporated.
  7. Now, the whites should be beaten in the large bowl of the mixer. If you don't have an additional large bowl for the mixer, transfer the chocolate mixture to any other large bowl. Wash the bowl and beaters.
  8. In the clean bowl of the mixer, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites with the salt and lemon juice, starting on low speed and increasing it gradually. When the whites barely hold a soft shape, gradually add the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Continue to beat until the whites hold stiff peaks when the beaters are raised. Do not overbeat.
  9. Stir a large spoonful of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it a bit. Then, in three additions, fold in the remaining whites. Do not fold thoroughly until the last addition and do not handle more than necessary.
  10. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan. Rotate the pan briskly in order to level the batter.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes at 375°F, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for an additional 50 minutes. The top might crack a bit; that's okay.
  12. Wet and slightly wring out a folded towel and place it on a smooth surface. Remove the cake pan from the oven and place it on the wet towel. Let stand until tepid, 50 to 60 minutes.
  13. Release and remove the sides of the pan (do not cut around the sides with a knife—it will make the rim of the cake messy). Now, let the cake stand until it is completely cool.
  14. The cake will sink a little in the middle as it cools. Use a long, thin, sharp knife (I prefer serrated) and level the top. It will seem like you're cutting off a lot; don't worry about it. The finished cake should be about 1-1/2-inches high. Brush away any loose crumbs. Place a rack or a small board over the cake and carefully invert. Remove the bottom of the pan and the paper lining.
  15. The cake is now upside down; this is the way it will be iced. Place 4 strips of the reserved parchment paper (each about 3'' x 12'') around the edges of a cake plate. With a large, wide spatula, carefully transfer the cake to the plate; check to be sure that the cake is touching the paper all around (in order to keep the icing off the plate when you ice the cake).
  16. To make the ganache frosting, heat the cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it boils. Add the espresso or coffee powder and whisk to dissolve. Add the chocolate and remove from the heat. Stir until all the chocolate is all melted and the mixture is smooth. Let the ganache stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until it begins to thicken.
  17. Pour the ganache slowly over the top of the cake. Using a long, narrow metal spatula, smooth the top and spread the icing so that a little runs down the sides of the cake (not too much—the icing on the sides should be a much thinner layer than on the top). Smooth the sides with the spatula, then remove the parchment liners.

Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus

Pancetta-Wrapped-Asparagus

This is one of my favorite ways to serve asparagus because it’s big on flavor yet incredibly simple to make. All you do is wrap big, thick asparagus spears with pancetta and sauté them in a hot pan until nice and crisp. Even though the spears are wrapped, they cook perfectly and take on the salty, “porky” flavor of the pancetta, which is so delicious! I’ve served them with simply roasted chicken and grilled salmon — both very good — but I especially love them for brunch alongside eggs or quiche.

ingredients

Before we get to the recipe, a few words on pancetta, which is simply Italian bacon.  Just like American bacon, it’s made from pork belly and cured — the difference is that it’s not smoked.  You can find it in the deli at most supermarkets and sometimes precut and packaged in the refrigerated gourmet foods aisle.  If can’t find it, bacon is a good substitute; just make sure it’s very thinly sliced so it cooks quickly and adheres to the asparagus.

wrapped-asparagus

Begin by wrapping each spear tightly with a slice of pancetta. Since the pancetta is sliced thin, there will be some holes; don’t worry about it.

cooking-asparagus

Cook the spears in a large pan in batches, until the asparagus is just tender and the pancetta is crisp. Drain briefly on paper towels to get rid of any excess grease, then serve immediately while the pancetta is still crisp. Note that the pancetta will lose its crispness as it sits, but it will still be delicious.

Pancetta-Wrapped-Asparagus

Note: You can wrap the asparagus with pancetta a day ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus

Print Recipe
Servings: 4
Total Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch thick asparagus (12-15 spears; about 1 pound), trimmed
  • 12-15 thin slices pancetta
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Wrap a slice of pancetta tightly around each asparagus spear. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and coat lightly with vegetable oil (the more oil you use, the crispier the pancetta will be -- just be careful not to use too much or it will splatter). Cook the asparagus, turning as each side browns, until they are just tender and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any excess grease, then transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.

Amish-Style Baked Oatmeal with Apples, Raisins & Walnuts

Baked-Oatmeal-with-Apples-and-Raisins

Baked oatmeal is a traditional and comforting Amish breakfast casserole. Unlike regular oatmeal, which is made on the stove-top and has a porridge-like consistency, baked oatmeal is made in the oven and has a consistency similar to that of bread pudding. There are endless variations — the recipe is easily adapted with whatever fruits and nuts you have on hand — but this version filled with tart apples and plump raisins with a crunchy walnut topping is my favorite.  The best part? It can be made ahead of time and reheated.

ingredients

Begin by combining the oats, half of the nuts, raisins, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.

dry-ingredients

In a separate bowl, make the custard by whisking together the eggs, milk and vanilla.

wet-ingredients

Combine the custard with oat mixture and melted butter.

combining-wet-and-dry-ingredients

Arrange the chopped apples in a baking dish.

apples-in-dish

Top with the oat mixture and sprinkle remaining walnuts over top.

ready-to-bake

Bake for about 40 minutes, until the oats are set and the top is golden. Be sure to save some leftovers; oddly, this dish is just as delicious — if not more so — cold out of the refrigerator the next day.

Baked-Oatmeal-with-Apples-and-Raisins

Amish-Style Baked Oatmeal with Apples, Raisins & Walnuts

Print Recipe
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 - 45 Minutes
Total Time: 50 - 55 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, divided
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the dish
  • 2 tart yet sweet baking apples, such as Honey Crisp, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 2 cups)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease an 8 or 9-inch baking dish with butter.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, 1/2 cup of the nuts, raisins, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.
  3. In another bowl, break up the eggs with a whisk; then whisk in the milk and vanilla until well combined.
  4. Add the milk mixture to the oat mixture, along with the melted butter.
  5. Scatter the apples evenly on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Pour the oatmeal mixture over top and spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup nuts on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden and the oats are set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Easy Garlic Butter Shrimp

Easy-Garlic-Butter-Shrimp

This is one of my go-to recipes when I have to hit the kitchen running. It takes just twenty minutes to make, I always have all of the ingredients on hand, the kids love it as much as I do, and there’s barely any clean-up!  I like to serve it over pasta or with a lightly toasted baguette for mopping up all of the garlic-butter sauce. It also makes a fabulous appetizer for a party — just keep the tails on and serve with plenty of napkins.

ingredients

Begin by tossing the shrimp with olive oil, salt and pepper directly on a baking sheet.

tossing-shrimp-with-olive-oil-and-garlic

Roast in the oven for 6-8 minutes, until pink.

melting-butter

Add the butter directly to the hot baking sheet and toss with the shrimp until melted. Sprinkle with a bit of parsley if desired and serve with lemon wedges.

Easy-Garlic-Butter-Shrimp

Easy Garlic Butter Shrimp

Print Recipe
Servings: 4
Total Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds extra large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch freshly chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the shrimp on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Roast for 6-8 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through. Immediately add the butter directly on the hot baking sheet and stir until melted. Transfer the shrimp and butter sauce to a serving dish and sprinkle with a bit of fresh parsley, if desired. Serve with lemon wedges.