Happy Fourth of July–Roasted Ravioli & Blistered Tomato Skewers

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY to everyone!!!

Happy Fourth of July 2019My husband and I are just about to go to a neighborhood pool party to celebrate with our friends.  I came up with this easy red, white and blue appetizer for the party pot luck.

INGREDIENTS:

Toasted Ravioli & Blistered Tomato Skewers Ingredients

  • 48 ounces of grape tomatoes
  • 24 ounces of basil and cheese ravioli
  • blue toothpicks
  • olive oil to coat and toast ravioli

PREPPING THE RAVIOLI

Boiling the Ravioli

  • Bring 4 quarts of water to boil
  • Add a table spoon of salt
  • Add the ravioli and boil till they float to the top and puff up.  This takes about 4 minutes.

Placing the Ravioli in an Oiled Baking Dish

  • Drain cooked ravioli into a glass baking dish that has been oiled with olive oil.  This prevents the ravioli from sticking to each other.

Toasting the Ravioli

  • Coat a large non-stick skillet with olive oil and place on medium high heat.
  • Place the cooked ravioli in a single layer and toast on both sides.
  • Do this in batches and keep adding the toasted ravioli to a glass baking dish.

Toasted Ravioli

Follow the instructions from my Blistered Tomatoes post to prepare the tomatoes.

Toasted Ravioli & Blistered Tomatoes

ASSEMBLY

Skewer Assembly

Assembling the skewers is very simple. Gently pierce the center of the ravioli and push it to where the blue decoration starts. Then pierce the stem end of the blistered tomato placing it on top of the ravioli.  Arrange on a platter to resemble an American Flag.

Toasted Ravioli & Blistered Tomatoes Feature

 

Let me know what you think in the comment section.  We are off to the party now.  Hope you are all having a good time with your friends and family. !!!

Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers

I had cauliflower and peppers on hand so I decided to create this dish.  It is vegetarian and gluten free.  It can be served as a side dish or a main dish.

INGREDIENTS:

Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 4 peppers
  • 2 Serrano chilies (optional)
  • 1/2 a bunch of parsley
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 cups of marinara sauce.  Use your favorite.  I have used a homemade mushroom marinara sauce.
  • 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese (preferably grate your own)
  • 6 ounce bag of shaved cheese (mix of Parmesan, Romano and Asiago)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 4 Tbsp. of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers Prep

  • Break the cauliflower head into large florets
  • Don’t throw away the stalk and leaves, instead dice up the good parts.  The small bowl on upper right side shows them diced up.
  • Cut the peppers in half.  Remove the seeds, stems and whitish pith.
  • Dice the onion
  • Mince the garlic and Serrano chilies
  • Remove the parsley leaves from their stems.  Set aside a few for garnish.  The rest will go into the food processor along with the cauliflower florets.
  • Place the cauliflower florets and parsley leaves in a food processor.  Pulse to make cauliflower granules.

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COOK:

  • Coat a large, heavy stainless steel skillet with olive oil.  Turn the heat to medium.
  • Add the chopped onions, cauliflower stalks, garlic and Serrano chilies.  Toss in the dried oregano and red chili flakes.
  • Mix all the ingredients and saute until light brown.
  • Add the cauliflower and parsley granules.  Continue to saute until cauliflower is light brown.
  • Turn off the flame and mix in the Parmesan cheese

    STUFFING THE PEPPERS:Oiled Peppers

  • Place the peppers in a oven proof baking dish
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Fill each pepper with a layer of cauliflower mixture, then a Tbsp. of marinara sauce.  Repeat once more so the pepper is full.Stuffed Peppers
  • Place in a 350 F oven and bake until peppers are tender
  • Pull out the cooked peppers and top with shaved cheese and a parsley leaf.

Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers Feature

Serve as a side dish with any protein you like.  If you are eating meatless, serve a larger portion as a vegetarian main dish.

ENJOY!!!  Let me know your feedback by leaving a comment.

Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes

This is one of my favorite recipes.  I look forward to fresh summer Roma tomatoes so I can make this dish.  I learned how to make these from my Italian neighbor, Jeanette.  When we lived in California, my husband used to grow our vegetables.  I used to take the extra veggies to Jeanette.  In return, she taught me how to make her Italian dishes.  She is the one who introduced me to Italian cooking.

This recipe is very simple and versatile.  I put the roasted tomatoes on my cheese board when throwing a wine tasting party.  They are great with a full bodied red wine.  I also use them in pasta dishes and sandwiches.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 Roma tomatoes (these were grown by my neighbor, Billy.  I think they are absolutely beautiful)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (mine is in a spray bottle.  Makes it easier to use.  If you don’t have a spray bottle you can drizzle it on with a small spoon.)
  • 1 tablespoon of my Italian Spice Mix
  • sea salt to taste

PREP:

  • Cut the Roma tomatoes in half
  • Use a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the seeds and place them on a foil lined baking sheet
  • Sprinkle them with sea salt and my Italian Spice Mix
  • Drizzle on the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil

COOK:  Preheat your oven to 400 F.  Place the tomatoes in the oven and bake them till they are browned.  This takes 10 to 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Arrange the cooked tomatoes in a bowl or platter.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Top with grated Romano cheese and fresh basil for a finishing touch.

Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes Feature

 

Fig Fillo Bites

My neighbor, Billy, brought me another fresh batch of figs from his tree.  I decided to make a batch of Fig Fillo Bites and invite my next door neighbor, Mary Ellen for mid-morning tea.  Mary Ellen loves figs.  We had a great time visiting with each other, talking and enjoying masala chai and these fig bites.  It was a beautiful sunny morning, so I arranged tea under the pergola on our front deck.  There was a beautiful summer breeze blowing.  I felt very blessed to live in such a gorgeous place and have time to visit with my lovely neighbor.

Fig Fillo Bites Feature

Here is the recipe.  Try it and let me know what you think.

INGREDIENTS: (enough for 15 little tarts)

  • 15 figs
  • 1 box of mini Fillo Shells (15 in a box)
  • 8 ounces of Mascarpone, at room temp
  • 15 pine nuts
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons of Agave nectar
  • 4 tablespoons of Elderberry Jelly (you can use any jelly you like)
  • dash of fennel seed powder (to make the powder just put a few fennel seeds in a spice grinder and whiz them up)

PREP:

Fig Fillo Bites Prep

  • Trim the stems off the figs
  • Zest the lemon
  • Squeeze the juice of the lemon
  • Toast the pine nuts on the stove top on low heat.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.Fig Fillo Bites Pinenuts Toasting
  • Bake the mini Fillo shells for 3 minutes at 350 F and let cool to room temp.

GLAZING THE FIGS:

  • Place a large, heavy skillet on medium heat.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of Agave nectar, 2 tablespoons of Elderberry jelly, half the lemon juice, half the lemon zest and half the fennel seed powder. (If you want to add a boozy touch you can also add a splash of Chambord or red raspberry wine at this point.)
  • Whisk to blend
  • Add the figs.  Using a silicone spatula, gently coat the figs with the glaze.
  • Transfer the glazed figs to a glass container and set aside.

MAKING THE CREAM FILLING:

  • Transfer the Mascarpone to a medium mixing bowl
  • Add 2 tablespoons of Agave nectar, 2 tablespoons of Elderberry Jelly, half the lemon juice, half the lemon zest and half the fennel seed powder.
  • Using a spoon, combine all ingredients.
  • Transfer to a glass dish and keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the fig bites.

ASSEMBLING THE FILLO FIG BITES:

Fig Fillo Bites Assembly

  • Using a small ice cream disher, scoop out a dollop of the mascarpone cream filling and place it in the cooled Fillo shell.
  • Place a glazed fig, fat side down, on top of the cream filling.
  • Insert a toasted pine nut into the stem side of the fig.  The pine nut adds crunch and flavor.  It also replaces the stem that was trimmed so that the fig looks whole.

RECIPE NOTE:  If you want to make these a little boozy, you can add a splash of Chambord or red raspberry wine to the glaze.

I used a local red raspberry, all fruit wine from Texas SouthWind Vineyard and Winery, YUM!!!  My husband created a cocktail he called, Texan Raspberry 75 using this wine to pair with the fig bites.   ENJOY and please leave a comment to give me your feedback.  I love hearing from you.

Red Raspberry Wine

 

Avocado Mediterranean Salad

I found some avocados on sale at the Indian grocery store in Austin.  This is the first time that I ever saw avocados at the Indian grocery store, so I was very surprised to see them.  What surprised me even more was the low, low price.  Only 38 cents a piece!!!

When I got home, my neighbor had delivered some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from his garden.  I already had the mint and cilantro growing in my sun room.  I feel very lucky to have such wonderful ingredients.  All these fresh ingredients inspired me to make this delightful Avocado Mediterranean Salad.

Ingredients:

Avocado Med. Salad Ingredients

  • 6 avocados
  • 4 Persian cucumbers
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 Serrano chile
  • 1 large lime
  • 1 bunch of large mint leaves
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (some people really don’t like cilantro.  If you are one of these people, use flat leaf parsley instead.)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Prep:

Avocado Med. Salad Prep

  • Cut the avocados in half.  Remove the pit.  Peel them, the peel comes off easily just with the fingers.  Sprinkle them with a little lime juice so they don’t turn brown.
  • Dice the Persian cucumbers skin and all.  This should yield 2 cups.
  • Remove the seeds from the Roma tomatoes and dice them.  This should yield 1/2 cup.
  • Finely dice the red onion.  This should yield 1/2 cup.
  • Mince the Serrano chile.
  • Tear the leaves off the cilantro.  This should yield 1/2 cup.
  • Tear the mint leaves into small pieces.  This should yield 1/4 cup.
  • Squeeze the juice of one large lime.  This should yield 1/4 cup.

Combine all of the above ingredients EXCEPT FOR THE AVOCADOS.  Add salt and pepper  to taste. You can also adjust the acidity to your liking by adding more lime juice if you need it.  This is your Mediterranean Salad.

Avocado Med. Salad

The Mediterranean Salad can be enjoyed on its own, but it makes an elegant and delicious presentation stuffed into an avocado.

Avocado Med. Salad Plated

 

Recipe Note:

If you can’t find Persian cucumbers, use regular cucumbers, but you will have to peel and de-seed them.  Another good alternative is hot house (also called English) cucumbers.  The English cucumbers are seedless and also do not need to be peeled.

Please let me know what you think by commenting below.

Image

Stuffed Dover Sole

Dover sole stuffed with artichoke and onion.  Served on a bed of Buckwheat Pilaf surrounded by Blistered Tomatoes.

Ingredients: Serves 3

 

 

  • 3 large fillets of Dover Sole (any flat, thin fish can be used)
  • 2 table spoons of my Italian Spice Mix  (I make it with equal parts, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, red chili flakes)
  • 5 table spoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion (in the photo you will see 3 tiny ones grown by my neighbor, Billy)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 ounces frozen artichoke hearts  (you can also use canned, jarred or fresh)
  • 1 table spoon each of fresh oregano and fresh thyme (you can use any herbs you like)
  • 1 table spoon capers
  • 1 tea spoon tomato paste (optional)
  • 2 large sun-dried tomatoes (yields 2 table spoons when minced)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I prefer course sea salt and whole pepper corns in a grinder)

Prep: the fillets (see photo above)

  1. Rinse the fillets with cold water and pat dry between paper towels.
  2. Place dried fillets in a glass baking dish.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with Italian Spice Mix , and drizzle 1 table spoon of olive oil.  Rub the mixture into the fillets and flip them.  Repeat the process on the second side.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator  while preparing the filling.

Prep:  for the filling20160515_162911

  1. Mince the onion, garlic, and capers
  2. Dice the artichoke hearts (center bowl)
  3. Separate the oregano and thyme leaves from the stems and tear into small pieces
  4. Mix  2 table spoons of olive oil, with the minced sun-dried tomatoes and tomato paste.  (bowl with reddish liquid)

Cook:  the filling

  1. Saute the onion and garlic in 1 table spoon of olive oil till lightly browned (add a little black pepper to taste.  DO NOT add salt at this point.)20160515_170450
  2. Add the herbs, stir them in for 30 seconds (for an extra kick you can add a sprinkle of red chili flakes.)20160515_170632
  3. Add in the capers and the tomato/olive oil mixture.  Stir and cook for another minute. 

  4. Add the artichoke hearts.  Saute to caramelize them until they are lightly browned. At this point, adjust the salt to your taste.  You may not need additional salt because the capers are salty. 

  5. Set aside in a glass bowl.  Cool to room temperature before filling the fish fillets.

Prep: Filling the fish fillets

 

 

  1. Set out a piece of parchment or foil paper (I have used “Martha Wrap”.  This is foil on the outside and parchment on the inside.)
  2. Place filling on the fillet (see photo above) and make a roll
  3. Place seam side down and wrap closed (see photo above)

Bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes20160516_201621

When you open the packet the fish will be flaky, moist and sitting in a deeply flavored savory sauce. Don’t throw the sauce away.   I have plated it (sauce and all)  on a bed of Buckwheat Pilaf.  You can plate it on many things, such as; rice, Polenta, noodles–the endless possibilities are up to your imagination.

Hope you enjoy this.  Let me know what you think.