This recipe is based on one of my favorite desserts that my Mother, Georgette Camporini, used to make when I was a kid – Cream Cheese Cake with Sour Cream Topping. I still have her recipe card, written in her delicate and precise script.
I’ve added pumpkin and some pumpkin spice (especially for my friend Angela), changed the sugar from white to coconut palm, added some lemon zest. But, it is still basically the same recipe that my Mom got from Irene Maresso (as noted on her recipe card) who lived in the yellow house, right across the street from us in Indian Hills, Wisconsin, near Lake Geneva. It takes me back to those Midwest times. Thanks, Ladies!
Serves 8 – 16
8-inch or 9-inch spring pan, greased on bottom and sides, then lined on bottom with a round of parchment paper
4oz (by weight) of graham crackers, broken and ground to rough crumb
2-3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 Tablespoons coconut palm sugar or white sugar
Pinch of salt
2 – 8oz packages cream cheese, softened. Be sure to use regular, full cream cheese, not light or low-fat.
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1 cup canned (or roasted and drained to thick consistency) pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice (a blend of cinnamon, ginger, lemon peel, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom)
Generous pinch of salt
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup coconut palm or white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 – Move an oven rack to lower 1/3 of oven. Pre-heat oven to 325˚ F.
2 -In a small bowl, whisk together the cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press into the bottom of the cake pan.
3 – To a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the softened cream cheese, the eggs, sugar, vanilla, pumpkin, pumpkin spice, and salt. Starting slowly with a hand or stand mixer, beat the ingredients for 2 to 3 minutes to combine well, or until the mixture is smooth and liquidy.
4 – Pour into the crust-lined cake pan and bake in a 325˚F for 40 minutes or until cake is set and slightly puffed. It will be a little cracked around the edges. Set it on a rack to cool for 10 – 15 minutes. When cooled, the cake will have settled, filling in the cracks, forming an edge around the top.
5 – While the cake cools, whisk together the sour cream, sugar, vanilla for the topping. When the cake has cooled, smooth the topping over the cake evenly, spreading it to the edges.
6 – Return to the 325˚F oven for 10 minutes to set the topping.
7 – Remove cake from the oven and cool for 30 minutes, before refrigerating the cake pan for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Remove cake from pan and serve cold, as is, or with berries or dates.
The garlic butter can be made ahead of time, wrapped in a parchment paper or plastic wrap role, and kept in the refrigerator for three days.
You can even make up the entire bread without toasting it, wrap it well with plastic wrap, then freeze. It will thaw within an hour, ready to toast up in your oven or broiler and serve hot.
Great as a side with soup.
1 large ciabatta loaf, cut in half horizontally
1/2 pound butter, softened
3 – 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 – 2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
1 – Pre-heat oven to 400˚ F.
2 – In a bowl, put the softened butter, the garlic, and parsley. Mash and mix thoroughly with a fork.
3 – Layout the bread onto a baking sheet, cut-side up.
4 – Divide the butter in half, putting one half onto the center of each half of bread. Spread evenly with a spatula, making sure you bring it to the edge of the bread. Sprinkle on the cheese over each half.
4 – Put the baking sheet in the center of a 400˚F oven for 5 – 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges of the bread are becoming toasted.
5 – Remove from oven. Using tongs, place the bread on a cutting board, then, slice across the loaf into 2-inch strips. Serve immediately.
Chicken Roulade, made from boneless, skinless chicken breasts are low in fat, but can be boring and dry.
Stuffing them with the thinnest of prosciutto and a layer spinach with basil, then seasoning them well, can turn them into something tasty, as well as healthy.
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients and Equipment
2 large organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 – 4 very thin slices of prosciutto
2 cups baby spinach leaves
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
A few grinds of fresh black pepper, or to taste
A pinch of smoked paprika
Chef’s knife or boning knife, honed sharply
Meat pounder or small frying 12 – 16 wooden toothpicks
Rack on a baking sheet
Preheat over to 350˚F.
Layout two 12-inch lengths of plastic wrap on a cutting board. Place a chicken breast on each sheet.
Butterfly each chicken breast: hold the top of the breast with one open hand, with the thickest part of the breast on the opposite side of your cutting hand and knife. Make a horizontal cut , from thinnest side of breast across chicken breast to 1about /2 inch BEFORE the thickest side — do not cut all the way through. Open up each chicken breast.
Cover each opened chicken breast with another sheet of plastic wrap. Keeping the plastic wrap loosely on the chicken breast so that it has room to spread, pound the chicken to make it evenly 1/4 inch thick, taking care not to break through the chicken.
Remove the top plastic wrap sheet and dispose. Brush each opened, flattened breast with olive oil, then sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Lay on prosciutto, a layer of spinach leaves, and some basil.
Starting from the long side, roll up the chicken breast, and pin together with toothpicks. Place on a rack on a baking sheet, pinned-side down. Brush with olive oil, then season with salt, pepper, and paprika.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until internal temperature is 165˚F. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Remove all tooth picks, then slice 1/2 inch pieces and serve.
Simply “cooked cream”, panna cotta makes a simple and satisfying ending to an Italian meal, especially made with seasonal fruit. Because of the large seeds in raspberries, I recommend straining the sauce. Alternatively, you could serve this with a fresh, sliced strawberry sauce or “lumpy syrup.”
My thanks to the Williams-Sonoma Italian cookbook for the original recipe. It’s a wonderfully concise and authentic source for basic Italian recipes, including pasta from scratch.
5 Tablespoons blonde coconut palm sugar or granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (essence)
For Raspberry Sauce:
1/2 pound (1 cup) fresh raspberries, plus 1/4 pound whole raspberries for garnish
4 oz granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons (or to taste) fresh lemon juice
Mint leaves to garnish
For Panna Cotta:
1 – Pour 3 oz. of cold water into a small bowl. Sprinkle in the gelatin and stir. Let stand about 5 minutes, or until the gelatin has softened.
2 – In a large sauce pan, pour in the cream, half & half, sugar, and salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, until bubbles begin to appear around the edges of the pan.
3 – Stir in the gelatin mixture and removed the pan from heat. Set aside for 10 minutes to let the mixture cool slightly, stirring occasionally.
4 – Stir in the vanilla.
5 – Divide among 6 ramekins (3/4 cup/6 oz size). Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.
For Raspberry Sauce:
1 – Purée the raspberries in a blender or food processor.
2 – Strain through a chinois or other fine-mesh strainer (for example, a tea strainer) to remove seeds.
3 – Stir in sugar and lemon juice. Taste, adding more sugar or lemon juice, if desired.
1 – For each ramekin, run a knife around the inside edge of the ramekin to loosen the panna cotta. Place a serving plate upside down, over the ramekin. Then, holding the plate onto the ramekin, invert both to transfer the panna cotta to the plate. Remove the ramekin.
2 – Divide the raspberry sauce amount the six servings, drizzling it on half the panna cotta and around it on the plate. Garnish with whole raspberries and fresh mint.
Fill a large saucepan 2/3 full of water, then bring to a boil over high heat.
Prepare a large bowl with a cup or 2 of ice, plus a couple of cups of water, leaving enough room to hold all the beans.
Put the beans into a strainer or wire basket that will fit inside the saucepan of water. When water boils, immerse the beans in the water for 2 – 3 minutes, until beans are tender and bright green, but still crunchy.
Immediately plunge the beans (“shock”) them into the ice water and let cool for 5 minutes. Then, drain and add to salad bowl.
Combine beans with red pepper, scallions, and fennel seeds. Drizzle on vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
When using lemon juice instead of vinegar to make a vinaigrette, the proportion is 1 part lemon juice to 1 part extra virgin olive oil.
This recipe makes 1 cup of salad dressing, enough for a couple of large salads. However, if you have limited lemon juice (for instance only 2), use a glass measuring cup and squeeze all the lemon juice into the cup, noting at eye-level the amount you have. Then, top it up with the exact same amount of oil. Add the salt and pepper and whisk vigorously, or, pour into a squeeze bottle or jar and shake at least 20 times before drizzling on salad.
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Optional: 1 teaspoon of one of the following dried herbs: basil or oregano or tarragon. Instead of using dried herbs,you can include fresh herbs with the salad greens.
In an 8-oz. jar or squeeze bottle (or measuring cup), combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and herb (if using). Whisk very well to emulsify juice and oil. If using a bottle or jar, shake at least 20 times, then apply to salad immediately.
Drizzle around edge of bowl of greens or lightly across top, taking care not to drench salad. Toss salad well to make greens shiny, but not dripping.
Refrigerate leftover dressing for up to a week. Take out from refrigerator an hour before using to liquify the olive oil.
This is the classic Italian mushroom risotto recipe, using Arborio rice for good absorption of the stock. The right type of rice makes a big difference.
Time and patience makes a difference, too… you need to allow enough time and steady stirring to make sure all the stock is completely absorbed. The mushrooms are cooked separately, then added in at the end, so that the rice is not discolored.
You can also add other vegetables, like carrots and celery and peppers, with the onion and garlic to add color and make a richer dish. Serving with a salad (like lemony Green Bean and Red Pepper) makes a nice counter to the richness of this dish.
This is especially good when made with homemade stock.
Makes 4 – 6 servings.
2 + 2 Tablespoons butter (some for mushrooms, some for risotto)
2 + 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (some for mushrooms, some for risotto)
3 cups sliced mushrooms (stems removed): crimini, white button, shiitake, or a combination
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup onion (one medium onion), small dice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3/4 cups white wine
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded, plus more for garnish, if desired
Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 – 3 sprigs Italian parsley or leaves of basil, chopped, for garnish
In a medium saucepan, heat stock over medium heat to simmering, then keep warm while putting together the rice.
Melt 2 Tablespoons butter and 2 Tablespoons olive oil in large sauté or frying pan until bubbly and shimmering. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook for 3 -5 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
Melt another 2 Tablespoons butter and 2 Tablespoons olive oil in large (4 quart) Dutch oven until bubbly and shimmering.
Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cooking for 1-2 minutes or until softened and translucent, but not browned. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
Add rice and stir, making sure that rice is well coated with oil, cooking for about a minute.
Add wine, stirring until it is fully absorbed by rice.
Begin to add the simmering stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula until completely absorbed before adding another 1/2 cup. Keep cooking and stirring all the rice, scraping the entire bottom of the pan and around the edges. Reserve 1/4 cup stock to use at the end.
After about 25 minutes, when rice is tender (no longer dry or crunchy but not mushy either – taste to test it) and all the stock has been absorbed, add in the last 1/4 cup stock, plus the sautéed mushrooms and 1/4 cup cheese.
Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately, garnished with black pepper, parsley or basil, and more cheese, as desired.
1/2 cup white onion, diced, and rinsed in cold water
10 – 12 stalks fresh cilantro, hard stems removed and discarded
1 – Roast tomatillos and jalapeños under broiler (550˚F for 5 – 7 minutes, or until they have black marks, then turn and roast for another 5 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes to cool. Transfer to a large blender bowl.
2 – Add water, salt, and lime juice to peppers in blender, then purée for about 10 seconds, or until smooth.
3 – Add onion and cilantro, and purée for 3 seconds.
4 – Taste and adjust seasonings (salt and lime). Pour into jar and chill until thickened, at least 4 hours or over night. Serve chilled with tortilla chips. Store in refrigerator for up to a week.
Based originally on the Moosewood Cookbook recipe by Mollie Katzen, published in the ‘70s, I have expanded and modified this gazpacho recipe using all fresh, whole ingredients.
This latest version, based on what I made recently, makes nearly a gallon. I filled up a 3.5L container.
The key to this recipe is the taste checking as you assemble it, both in quantity of ingredients and seasonings. The ripeness and flavor of the tomato and cucumber and jalapeño components can vary throughout the year. This is a summertime favorite, not just for coolness in hot weather, but because of the ripeness of the components. Quality counts.
3 cups cold tomato juice – chilled overnight is best
8 organic Roma tomatoes, peeled, deseeded, and diced
1 cup fragrant cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 whole English cucumber, cubed
1 medium sweet onion, diced (about a cup)
1 large green pepper, diced (about a cup)
2 Tablespoons honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large scallions, chopped
2 – 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (or lemon or a combination)
2 – 3 Tablespoons white Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
2 – 3 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 jalapeños, deseeded and deveined, minced
3 – 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 – 2 teaspoons salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon white pepper
For garnish when serving: fresh cilantro
1 – Combine all ingredients in a blender (using the lower quantities initially if you are not sure) and purée for 5 pulses or more, until well-blended and of thick consistency, but still showing bits of the various ingredients. You may have to do this in batches for a smaller-bowled blender — just pour each of the batches into a large bowl and stir to blend flavors.
2 – Taste. Adjust any of the ingredients to your liking, for example, more tomato juice, lime juice, salt, pepper, jalapeño, cumin, olive oil, honey, etc.
3 – Chill for several hours (at least 4), or overnight.
4 – Stir well before serving. Top each serving with a few cilantro leaves, even another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if you like. Goes well with crunchy vegetable chips, too.
2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or granulated sugar
1 banana, sliced thinly (optional)
1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)
1/2 cup dried (or fresh) blueberries (optional)
1 – In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the eggs and milk until light and foamy at high speed – about 3 minutes. Stir in the melted butter.
2 – In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, ground oatmeal, salt, baking powder, sugar – to distribute them evenly.
3 – Gently and quickly mix the dry ingredients into the egg and milk mixture. Then, let the batter rest for at least 15 minutes, while the griddle is heating. It will thicken slightly.
4 – Test the readiness of the griddle to be sure that a drop of water on the griddle evaporates immediately.
5 – Drop 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the griddle. As desired, add banana, almonds, or blueberries. Cook until batter looks dull and bubbles have popped, but pancakes are not burnt. Check the doneness after 2 – 3 minutes by peaking at the cooking side by lifting up an edge of the pancake carefully. When the underside is browned, flip pancakes and cook a further 2 – 4 minutes.
6 – Keep cooked pancakes, wrapped in foil in a warm (180-200˚) oven while you cook the rest of the batches.
7 – Serve immediately with butter (or not), genuine maple syrup, or fruit sauce.
Fruit Sauce is great on pancakes or waffles, ice cream, panna cotta, or simple cakes like pound cake or lemon cake.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce.
1 cup fresh (or frozen) fruit: sliced strawberries, nectarines, peaches, blueberries, or pineapple, or a combination. If made with raspberries or blackberries, you will need to strain the sauce to remove the seeds.
1/4 cup water
2 – 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 Tablespoon sugar, more if needed
1 – Put all ingredients in a saucepan and cook, stirring, over medium heat until sugar is all melted and fruit has softened.
2 – Taste for sweetness, but remember that it should taste like fruit, not sugar. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar, stirring and heating until melted in.
3 – Remove from heat and let cool to warm before serving.